Wednesday, May 9, 2012
THE GRIM LORD'S METAL REVIEWS: WEEK 51
This time I've got 14 albums in the set, but some of the reviews are much shorter. This is because some of these bands don't need a highly detailed description. There are also eight more press releases in this set, and expect more of them, because I keep getting them and request them as soon as they are available. Just make sure that you check them out too.
Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol (2012) - I'm not going to lie. I didn't care for Paradise Lost's last album, and I've liked everything from them prior to it, all the way back to Gothic. I really thought that that last record would've been the band's swansong. But I find myself corrected, as I cannot believe the sheer awesomeness of the band's latest release. It really sounds like a fully re-energized band, ready to go out there and prove their might once again.
I do have a few qualms with this disc nonetheless. I usually listen to albums on my mp3 player, which does not order tracks, so I basically hear an alphabetical track order for most of the albums I review now. But that doesn't mean that I haven't been keeping tabs on official track order, which is very important. In my personal opinion, the album should've opened with the second track, "Crucify 4:08" a high-energy track with a great deal of groove elements, and the same sense of dreary riffs that we would've expected from the band. Even though some might say this is a sell-out track, a hearken back to the band's mid-era of gothic industrial rock; I still think it works quite well as testament to the current state of the band. The solo is also great, even though predictable.
The album opens with "Solitary One 4:08" which I felt was a little boring, it might have been a cast-off from the band's last album, for all we know. It certainly doesn't do much to draw the listener's attention and is fairly mediocre. This was an awful decision to use as an opener and simply does not work.
Another qualm I have with this album, is that the arguably best song on the disc, "Fear Of Impending Hell 5:24" which offers the band's sound at a new peak and majesty that one must simply hear over and over again, should've been the disc's closer, rather than "The Glorious End 5:23" which may be just a minute shorter, but completely anti-climatic. It has a few bells and whistles, but doesn't leave one with the same feeling as some of the other tracks on the disc.
The band's single, "Honesty In Death 4:07" certainly mixes the heavier sound of the band's earlier efforts and makes it a little more accessible. The song is certainly a highlight, and it is well played, but the first time I heard it, I didn't really think it was all that special. As for "Theories From Another World 5:02", In This We Dwell", and "To The Darkness 5:10" these are all standout tracks, delivering a sense of heaviness that we didn't really hear on the last album, yet there are still some clean vocal portions. The band really has decided to thrash a bit more on this one, and they've also upped the ante with the riffs and the impressive solos. This is certainly one of their best albums, and will be regarded as such by fans.
"Tragic Idol 4:34" is simply in a class of it's own, certainly being worthy of the album's title. The track proves that it can stand up to the rest of the band's catalog. It is catchy, but that's to be expected. Paradise Lost is sort of climbing into the mainstream again, but they're doing it with a much more metal edge, and for that we should at least be thankful.
The last song I really have to talk about is the failed experiment of "Worth Fighting For 4:23." For a second, I thought that it might be the cover of Judas Priest's song of the same name. The track seems quite stripped and while a little tribal in percussion, it's not the best song I've ever heard from them. The riffs however are good, and Nick's vocals are just as good as they have always been.
When you put this album in, or press play on your musical device, you might immediately find that I am nitpicking on a few things, because the band certainly sounds very tight musically on this disc, the guitar riffs are the best they've been in years, and Nick Holmes delivers a stunning vocal performance. These songs are also well structured and feel like they're coming from a band in perfect musical chemistry. If you haven't listened to Paradise Lost in a few years, or thought that nothing from them has been good since Gothic - Draconian Times, then maybe it's time to check these 23 year metal vets out just one more time.
This is one tragic idol that's certainly worth bowing to.
(Highlights: Crucify, Fear Of Impending Hell, Honesty In Death, Theories From Another World, In this We Dwell, To The Darkness, Tragic Idol (10 Tracks, 46:00)
In Mourning - The Weight Of Oceans (2012) - In Mourning have decimated with both their debut, "Shrouded Divine" and their sophomore effort, "Monolith." Now they've given us a new one that seems to have Cthulhu on the cover. Or something slightly resembling him. People have since been gobsmacked by this album, finding it difficult to get into and much different then the others. But I consider it a sign of maturity. On this disc, the band reaches more into melody and even post shoegaze tinkerings that seem to do nothing more than to make the disc even more brilliant.
The disc opens up with the aptly named, "Colossus 9:33" which might have some of the most beautiful guitar riffing that I've ever heard in my life. As you would certainly expect, this is still death metal, so you will certainly still hear those elements here, but you can expect a little more attention to detail. It's still In Mourning, just with a different skin. The guitar solo on this one is also simply brilliant. If you want one standout track from this album, "Colossus" is definitely it. I'm telling you, Cthulhu himself would smile in glee over this one.
The next song, for which the band has a video, is called "A Vow To Conquer The Ocean." It's much heavier than the last track, but still features some melody. The video I would've expected to be something fantastic to describe the concept, but it's a bunch of guys in a room jamming, and the growler looks like he's taking a shit when he growls. You never want to look like that, especially when your album is great. The song contains a proggy middle portion that seems to accentuate it, and shows viewers that these guys can do more than just progressive death metal. then out of nowhere, a solo appears. Unfortunately, it's quite slow. Then the song slows itself back into melody after one more fit of heaviness.
"From A Tidal Sleep 6:52" opens with a beautiful guitar melody that goes into a light acoustic. This album so far does seem to have a feel of water, and I swear that I hear something in it that reminds me of the Maridia music from Super Metroid. The growls come in, and they overlap the beautiful riffing, which does still have a few thrashy portions. A soft guitar solo comes in for a while, but then the vocals come back screaming in. Then comes back out guitar solo. The solo work on this one makes it a highlight, but so does the progressive clean vocal portion of this one. We haven't heard clean vocals on this album yet, and this one seems to bring them to us in a beautiful tone. But not for too long, because the growls come back overlapping the beautiful riffs, which goes right back into the thrashier portion. The drums begin to blast and the screams come in. Very black metal, for a minute.
"Celestial Tear 7:44" starts out with light acoustic work. It also starts out with a clean vocal. The band starts to play, albeit very lightly. This song is almost a ballad. Beautiful melodies continue, never getting out of hand and going into heaviness, which might cause some fans to skip it. It almost sounds like a love song, which it might just be. A synthesizer portion comes up, very 70's style - which you kind of figured that they were going to break into eventually. The song seems to continue at this very slow and melodic rate, until the very latter portion where you finally hear some bass. Edited up, this could be a radio single and enjoyed by many fans of rock music. Since this doesn't sound like a metal band for most of the song, it would be a great way for them to find new fans... but will also kill old ones. The drums and melodies seem to serenade us out perfectly in the way Opeth used to do, but no longer seems capable of. I'm almost wanting to say that this is in many ways, a new Opeth disc. But it's not being made by Opeth.
"Convergence 8:35" comes in beautiful and then goes into brutality. Finally, right? The screams enter overlapping the melodies as has been the formula for this album. A bit predictable at this point, but good. After the chorus is said and done, the band goes back into heaviness. Of course, there's still a light acoustic portion and that might put some to sleep. Swallow The Sun's latest also was apparently guilty of that, even though I like this one far more than their 2012 release. Eventually, the band goes back into pummeling on the drums and enters into a... breakdown. But at least it's some heaviness. The chorus comes back immediately, and then the solo just flies in, as if we weren't even expecting it. But it does manage to deliver. The solos have been very short after Colossus, and I'm wondering why but won't bicker about it. Another chorus portion comes in backed by some great synth melody, and then the song goes and changes face one more time into a light acoustic piece with an odd melodic effect. It certainly does sound very spatial, and perhaps that was the point of this track, to sound otherworldly, in a sense.
"Sirens 1:31" is not a track to expect much from certainly, as it's a piano instrumental. Sure, you can skip it - but you know damn well that it's not the only piano instrumental that you've ever sat and listened to.
The next track, "Isle Of Solace 4:53" is the shortest actual song on the disc, that is not an instrumental. (The shortest song was right before this one, obviously.) It seems to be of a much heavier and groovier nature. It almost sounds like it came from another band, apart from the melodies. It really does scream filler, whether you want to believe it or not. The chorus isn't even that strong, It seems to just cut off and lead right back into simplistic groove. Whew, I don't like this one bit. That's going to cost them. Thing is, while this song is decent - there are so many other songs from bands in this vein. As djenty and technical as they want to make this one, it's really not going to save it much. Seems like spare riffs that were salvaged and turned into something. Not awful, but they can do better.
"The Drowning Sun 8:40" returns us to the album, and away from what sounded like a horrible B-Side. of course, the melodies are the strong point and introduce the song. Then the song really starts to smell of Opeth. Even up to the short growl that Michael used to do during some of the bass intros. The chorus comes in after some proggy tinkering and it's about as good as the others, I suppose. I want to like this track, but I just don't hear anything that really makes it stand out, especially when comparing it to their old material. The last two songs really sound like to me, "Alright, we're out of ideas... I know, let's play Meshuggah, then let's play Opeth! That oughtta kill some space." I will say that Opeth fans should meld right in with this song, but there's no denying that ideas were used which have already been used before. But in argument, one can say that about most music. Near the end of the song there is a lighter portion where tiny melodies are plucked and light acoustics build into a nice atmosphere, so I'll give that. As for this track, I could take it or leave it. Makes no difference to me.
The disc ends with "Voyage Of A Wavering Mind 5:49" which doesn't add vocals until about 2:44. That's quite a long intro, and I wasn't even sure if they were going to have any vocals on this one at all. But while the song seems to have an interesting style of lead riffing, (not the chug from the bass) this song really seems like something that the band was scratching their heads about. It's one thing to experiment, but when you record an entire track and only use just one vocal line and one chorus, something wasn't thought through. The song gets stronger leads towards the end, but then stops abruptly. I'm left with nothing else in my head other than the three words, what the fuck?
So thus ends the third outing for two time metal champions, In Mourning. Unfortunately, this disc fails to live up to my expectations and I do not recommend buying it, unless you wish to enjoy a handful of tracks. Of 61 minutes of total material, only 40 minutes of it is actually worthwhile. Perhaps this album should've been shorter. If it had just been the first six tracks, it would've been plenty. The rest of it should've been bonus content or something. Colossus is probably one of the greatest tracks I've ever heard from this band, and I certainly can't consider this album a total flop if it had such majestic songs on it like that, but the latter half is fodder for the most part.
Definitely try before you buy, but there are still some really great tracks here. A solid album, that could've been so much better.
Highlights: Colossus, A vow To Conquer The Ocean, From A Tidal Sleep, Celestial Tear, Convergence (9 Tracks, 61:00)
Unleashed - Odalheim (2012) - Whatever in the hell Unleashed thought hat they put out last time, I've completely written it off. Yggdrasil was one of the most throwaway albums of the year. It just did absolutely nothing at all, and there wasn't even one good track on it. It was a bold disappointment, to say the least.
But this album seems to have had help from Odin, his warriors, and his Valkyries. Not to mention the nimble and delicate fingers of their (new?) guitarist. The guy shreds with a fervor, and every lick that he does on this album is well warranted. In fact, this man is the band's saving grace and they'd probably be fucked right now if they released another one like Yggdrasil.
"Fimbulwinter 4:11" actually starts out sounding like blackened death metal, and believe it or not, but most of this album sounds like that - with the black metal tinges. The growls and groove stay the same, things just sound a little darker, and even some scowls are used on this one, showing that the band was ready to slightly tweak their original style. The song also features a slight atmospheric piece that leads into a great solo. "Odalheim 4:29" follows shortly after, as an epic anthem, with a still darker, still very black metal sense of riffing; even though the song is certainly geared to be death metal. Great guitar solos follow, and a light acoustic and atmospheric piece end the song.
"White Christ 3:12" showcases the same sort of groove death metal that fans of the band's classic sound will be immediately familiar with. Yet there is still that fast paced black metal melody in areas. Another killer solo follows this one. This album as I've said, really slays in the solo department. Every solo on this one is full of fire. The groove comes back and leads way into the melodic black metal that backs the chorus. "The Hour Of Defeat 3:10" starts out as a somber acoustic piece, but immediately starts thrashing. There's not so much black metal influence here, and it stays close to death metal, yet there is still an eerie melody in parts. This song is more geared to thrashing then some of the others, and also features a great solo as they all have thus far.
"Gathering The Battalions 3:06" doesn't really sound that much different from the rest of the pack, it's still death metal with melodic black metal portions thrown in. What's funny about this album, is that I can tell where the guitar solos are on each and every track, since they all seem to start at the quarter mark and every one of them ends right before the final chorus. It's quite formulaic. "Vinland 3:58" is a bit different from the others, in the fact that it starts of with a sort of windy atmosphere, some slow plucking and other guitar oddities. But as soon as the metal comes in, it doesn't offer much more than we've already heard. But what is offered here should not disappoint the fans, as it's the same death metal that Unleashed is known for, and the solo's in the same place as they all have seemed to be. The song ends with waves crashing and that kind of atmosphere.
"Rise Of The Maya Warriors 2:40" is the disc's shortest song and it immediately comes out blazing with death metal. Despite it's length, there's still a solo in the same place. Not a bad song, but nothing really different then the rest. "By British and Celtic Shores 3:49" also starts off with a slight acoustic, although much longer than some of the others have been. The metal finally comes in and gives us much of the same. Yep, there's the solo. It's in the same spot.
Alright, this is getting ridiculous. "The Soil Of Our Fathers 4:55" also starts off with a light acoustic atmosphere that as you can guess, goes into metal. But this one has a slower buildup and still manages to continue the tones of the acoustic. Then the groove comes in and it's business as usual. The solo is there, also in the same section of the song. The song slowly fades out in a unique style though. "Germania 3:33" does the same thing. Light acoustics, then the death metal comes thrashing in. The band shamelessly copied this style five times thus far. At least the song sounds a little different riff-wise, in the fact that it doesn't share the same tempo as some of the others, and everyone loves a breakdown too, right? Thankfully it goes into another one of the band's solos.
The disc finally ends with "The Great Battle Of Odalheim 5:51" which I thought the band already covered with the second track, "Odalheim 4:29." This track features all of the death metal and black metal influence that you'd expect from the band, there's just more of it because the song is the longest on the disc. There's a solo just before the middle portion of this song, rather than the third portion as has been with most of this album. Another solo creeps up afterwards with constant chorus repetition. I'm telling you, the lyrics for these tracks must be just a few lines each. After some sirens and once the guitars finally fade out amidst the static, (it takes a while) some acoustic playing begins (although a little ominous) and the song ends on that note.
So, what do I have to say about this album as a whole? Well, even though most of these songs sound the same, they each try to do something different in areas. The guitar solos are all predictable, but good, and all of them are in the same section of the songs, sans the closer. The acoustic to metal half of the album really got on my damned nerves, they really started to milk that too much and it lost it's flair. But overall, this is probably one of the best disc's that the band has released in years. They sound like they're really on their game this time around, trying to cover up the mistake that they named after the tree Odin was hung on.
Odalheim seems to show that this band still has some fight in them, and should they even release another (these guys have only been around for ages now) I'm sure that continuing along this path could hold another peak album for a band whom many believe peaked a long time ago. All of this "re-peaking" has got to have something to do with our planet being in the center of the galaxy, perhaps. 2012 has probably been one of the best years for metal music in recent memory. Hell, it's been a "peak" year!
Nevertheless, it's certainly not a bad idea to check these Viking legends out again. This is certainly one of their best, and while it is quite formulaic, there's not one song on the disc that I didn't like.
Highlights: All the songs are good, but nothing really stands out. Doesn't mean it's bad, just nothing really spectacular. But still quite solid. (11 Tracks, 42:00)
Anthony Arjen Lucassen - Lost In The New Real (2012 2 Disc Set) - Ayreon front man Arjen Lucassen finally decided to go ahead and release his own album. He's done it before, but never in this kind of manner. The man has successfully mixed elements of prog rock, folk music, electronics, and metal together to make a very interesting and thought provoking 90 minute, 2 disc set that features narrations from the legendary Rutger Hauer. Yes, I said Rutger Hauer.
To explain this album, I really have to start with the story. The character was killed in our time and brought back a number of years into the future, where he must adapt to the new surroundings and a very possible future. It's a bit chilling, but it's not too far fetched either. So pay attention.
"The New Real 6:24" is when our character wakes up. It is basically a progressive rock song with some heavy bass riffs and synth play. "Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin 3:35" is a song about how in the future, all music has merged and there is nothing out there that hasn't already been done. It's a pop song, but a good one.
"Parental Procreation Permit 5:03" is about a new decree passed by the government that will not allow one to procreate unless they prove that they can educate and be a proper parent to the child. There's no more crime, war or anything like that due to this permit. This song actually features the album's only death metal growl (I don't know how does it) at the very end. The song is very much in the style of Ayreon. "When I'm A Hundred Sixty-Four 2:30" is a song about life extension technology. It's a bit funny, and most certainly a folk song.
"E-Police 4:06" rings true to me and several others, as it's about a future police force that watches you everyday and will throw you in jail if you download a file. The character says "I remember the old days of sailing the digital seas, I remember the old ways of sharing files online" but it's certainly not like that in this future world and mark my words, folks - it COULD happen. The song actually sounds like a pop-rock song, but it's got more merit than most pop-rock songs due these days. "Don't Switch Me Off 4:06" is a song about artificial love, which is already happening. My song "Nothing More" from "Black Therapy" deals with this. It's an electronic influenced prog rock song with a great Pink Floyd style solo.
"Dr. Slumber's Eternity Home 3:50" is a poppy little prog rock song with a great guitar solo. But I can't figure out what it's about. The song "Yellowstone Memorial Day 3:30" is quite concerning, because it's about the super volcano (Old Faithful) going off and covering the land in fire, in which thousands of people died. Thing is, this could happen tomorrow, or even an hour, or a minute, or a second from now. Do some research on this one. Of course, you don't need to panic and dedicate your life to avoiding "super volcanoes." It's a progressive rock song with slight metal influence.
"Where Pigs Fly 3:46" is one of my favorite tracks on the disc, it's about an alternate universe and what history would be like in one of them. It's not really a frightening song or anything like that. It's just kind of interesting to hear and to think about it. It's a big "what if?" really, and I enjoyed it's folk rock nature. "Lost In The New Real 10:19" is the last song on the first disc, and it's a massive epic that's about as close as you can get to anything that really resembles Ayreon on this disc. It's about the character wanting to be killed, because he can't handle this new world, this new "real."
Disc two begins with "Our Imperfect Race 6:27" a light prog rock, Pink Floyd style track about alien races and wondering if they would behave like we have on our world. The next track needs no introduction. It's a heavier cover of Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine 4:45." If you liked the original as much as I have, you won't be enamored with this version, but it's not a bad cover. I will say that. "So Is There No God? 4:41" is a prog rock song with just a plethora of thoughts about whether or not there is a god or a truth in the universe. It's an interesting song.
"Veteran Of The Psychic Wars 4:33" is a cover, but I'm not sure who it's by. It's also much heavier than the original, which seems to be the point of these covers. "The Social Recluse 3:54" is a song that somewhat describes me, but I'm not so much like that anymore. I'm not so much about the fact that apparently the person doesn't even need to know people's names in real life which I find awful, because I think that we should be able to see and know the names of the people we talk to online. Whether you're playing games with them or not.
"Battle Of Evermore 5:28" is another cover, very folky - but I didn't care for it. "The Space Hotel 3:49" is a fun song about being in a space hotel, and having sex in zero gravity. It's very prog rock with metal tinges. "Some Other Time 3:21" is the last cover on the disc, and it's decent enough, but nothing great. "You Have Entered The Reality Zone 3:24" is a nice folk prog/rock song about an island where everything is completely natural. There's no machines, no computers, no televisions, no phones, no factories and no polluters. A place like this could exist one day.
The disc ends with the oddly placed, "I'm The Slime 2:53" which seems to be anti-technology, anti-internet song.
As you might have guessed, the first disc is the story, and the second disc contains songs related but not part of the story. It also contains the covers. As for the disc as a whole, it's worth checking out for fans of prog rock, and Ayreon, as well as Star One. If you like any of Lucassen's projects and his messages, you will most certainly like this disc. These days, the man is less cryptic and I knew that these more blatant messages about a dismal technology controlled future would soon appear. The man is trying to tell us something, but it seems that we'll keep doing the same things, because you and I like the convenience and enjoyment of technology.
While not the best disc you've every heard from him, it certainly covers a lot of ground and showcases many different styles of Arjen's music. I'd consider it a recommend, but if you're not into this kind of music, you may want to skip it. Not everything on here is really metal, it just has metal influence.
Highlights: The New Real, Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin, Parental Procreation Permit, When I'm A Hundred Sixty-Four, E-Police, Don't Switch Me Off, Where Pigs Fly, Lost In The New Real, Our Imperfect Race, Welcome To The Machine, The Social Recluse, The Space Hotel, You Have Entered The Reality Zone, I'm The Slime (20 Tracks, 90:00)
Exhumer - Fire and Damnation (2012) - I honestly didn't expect much from this thrash band honestly, but what it offered me did not disappoint. The band seems to definitely turn on the Slayer and the vocals are fierce enough, just a little foreign on the tongue. Thankfully screaming guitar solos help to save what could be killed by the vocals, which are high in the mix.
The only song I don't care for on this album is "Crushing Point 3:01" which is so bad it should've been left off. But tracks like "A New Morality 3:07" show that the band can do more than just basic thrash and it has some changes in structure that I really like. "Fallen Saint 3:54" also features a different vocal style, so it gives the track a different feel. This album could've been cardboard thrash real quick if they didn't experiment. Also, songs like "I Dare You 3:40" have that classic punk feel that really seems to sound like a good old throwback.
The rest of the songs, including the title track, are all pretty much straight forward thrash songs that any thrash fan will certainly enjoy. Even though this is nothing new, you've got to give the band credit for crafting a good thrash record. But it's probably not going to hold up years from now.
If interested, go get yourself a copy and go thrash out.
Highlights: Fire & Damnation, Vermin Of the Sky, The Weakest Limb, A New Morality, Waking The Fire, I Dare you (10 Tracks, 33:00)
Beyond Terror, Beyond Grace - Nadir (2012) - This progressive death metal/atmospheric/black metal band that incorporates a very bleak sound overall, seems to be the soundtrack to the end of the world. The band's main focus would most certainly have to be the drummer, because I don't think this band would kick quite as hard as they do with him.
The vocals are as you would expect from the style of the music, and the riffs offer very bleak melodies. There are no guitar solos or clean vocals on this one. It's nothing more than an overall depressing experience. But that isn't to say that it's awful. Because it's actually very good. The disc opens with "Dusk 8:19" and it really showcases the band's percussion and atmosphere crafting skills. It really does sound like something both great and terrible, something you'll remember days from now, not just hours.
The album does have a few lighter moments, but just enough to enhance the atmospheres on the disc. For example, "Nadir 3:27" is a lesson in beautiful brutality, and it definitely sounds like something inspired by post metal like Isis.
But for most of this album, you'll be hearing crushing and maddening metal, with rather bleak, yet well-crafted atmospheres. I would recommend this to the fan of doom/death, and I would recommend this to the fan of suicidal or depressive black metal. There's not a single happy moment to be found on this disc, but there sure are some great ones. These guys have crafted one of my overall favorite bleak discs of the year, right up there with last year's Deafheaven album, 'The Road To Judea."
If you're in mind that the world is going to come to an end in 2012, and you need some music that might help you feel better in your sentiments, check this out. If you feel that everything is basically fucked, pick up this album and you can revel in that notion. It truly is an album that reminds of Dante's famous warning, "Abandon All Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here."
This is a masterpiece, which is both incredibly depressing and incredibly beautiful. A must listen for 2012.
Highlights: The Entire Disc (Some songs flow into others) (7 Tracks, 43:00)
Avenger - Bohemian Dark Metal (PR2012) - Despite the fact that the band's info was poorly translated from Czech, I can see that they've been around since 1992, and have released several albums. But I don't have all of those albums to review, so I won't be devoting any time to them. I will however; be devoting my time to reviewing the band's latest effort, "Bohemian Dark Metal."
All of the songs on this disc are in complete Czech, so I will refer to them as "Track 1, Track 2, and so on." As far as the band's sound, it sounds like a sort of doom metal with blackened vocals. Makes sense, since they played with bands like My Dying Bride. Of course, there's also quite a bit of black metal on this disc. They really seem to have no boundaries, and that's a good thing these days.
As you would expect, all of the lyrics are in Czech, so "Track 1 3:18" is not easily understandable, but it does feature some extremely bleak metal and that should wet someone's palette.
"Track 2 4:27" comes in thrashing with black metal riffs. A scowl opens the song and it starts to thunder from there. So far, so good. A thrasher this one certainly is, yet there are still some interesting things going on with the riffs. A little bit of unconventionality, but still unrelenting and very bleak. It's definitely a style of black metal, that can be said with little effort. It's also certainly dark, so there's no misconceptions here. Truth be told, this is actually some really good shit thus far. A lot of emotion in the vocals, and the band does much more than just sit around and blast and play standard-fare riffs. He's also got this golem like scowl that he uses near the end, which I think is interesting.
"Track 3 6:28" comes on with more doom influence, but reminds me of Immortal, and I fucking like Immortal, so that's a good thing. Some of the scowling in the beginning sounds unnecessary, but when the verse starts up, the song definitely sounds like black metal. There is an atmospheric break, which then goes into a thrashier portion. One thing I like about this band, is that they don't seem to just stay with one tempo or idea. The second verse is backed by a much thrashier sound, and even though I can't understand a word, these Bohemian bastards might even be doing black metal better than the Norwegians. The next portion of the song features more melody and some synth effects that really seem to evolve this song even more. Then it goes back into a sort of grungier black metal after that with a repeated line that sounds like a chorus repeating over and over again. This really is like hearing four different black metal songs in one. They could have cut the ending off though.
"Track 4 6:15" starts off with an ominous melody. This one seems to be a bit more progressive in nature, and seems to be slower. When the vocals start up, the emotion can be felt in the lines, and it matches up with the music well enough. The track is more along the lines of blackened doom, but features some other portions, like an atmosphere and a thrash section. The melodies get a little muddier in the latter portion of the track, but it doesn't kill the song and still evokes the feeling of great black metal. There's a guitar solo or something here, but you can barely hear it. The drums march the song towards it's end, and then you'll hear another bit of guitar jizz as the song fades out.
"Track 5 6:47" has a slow buildup with some speech lines, but the vocals come in soon enough and deliver. The song also begins to invoke a rather beautiful melody, but that doesn't stop the vocals from being as demonic as they have been throughout this disc. Alright, so maybe there is a bit of a clean vocal portion. It's not bad either. The funny thing about this album, is that you can listen to most of these songs and see where the inspiration came from. Yet you can also see that the band seems to decimate with every track. A scowl erupts into a sound effect that seems to echo throughout the track, and it is accompanied by some sort of wood-clap sound effect. After that ends, the scowls come back, as powerful and emotional as ever. Then the clean vocals come back in to the mix, and they really do sound like they belong, regardless of how thick they might sound. The song begins to fade out, and you wish that it didn't. That's the sign of a good album.
"Track 6 1:03" might sound like a hell of a track, but it's just a short instrumental. But the blasting and thrashy black metal that we hear, peppered with a few melodies, definitely seems to showcase what this band has learned since 92.
"Track 7 2:25" is merely an atmospheric piece. It's got some odd sort of vocal effect and is quite ominous in something of what might be an intro for another band's disc.
"Dark Metal 8:02" is the last track on the album, and it's title is not in Czech, so I can spell it out. The track seems to be a slower, but still ominous track. An interesting melody paves the way for another great wave of scowls. The depression really seems to set in with this track, but there are slightly more lively sections. The chorus can be heard well enough too. "Dark! Dark Metal!" and it appears that the whole band is screaming it. This second part of the track features a vocal line that doesn't quite line up with the melodies, it's more like he is reading incantations from a black magic grimoire, but that may appeal to some folks. Then we have the catchy chorus again. In a way, this song is quite anthemic. There's a guitar solo that follows, and it's quite good. It's the only one on the disc, I believe; and it lives up to what you'd expect from the album's only guitar solo. The song really begins to fade out at the 7:00 mark.... Or maybe it doesn't?
Yeah, the chorus comes back blazing as if the song never ended. Then it finally ends. But that's the way it should be.
For a band that's been around for 20 years, Avenger show no signs of slowing down. The band actually features a Timpani player, and he does a good job in certain areas. The info says that this album is the band's "most accomplished to date" and I'd certainly believe it, as some of the songs on this one really blew me away. I'm quite enamored by these doom and black metal masters, and I believe that black metal fans of all types will definitely come to appreciate the dark art that these gentlemen have created. "Dark Metal" refers to the brutality of death, the fury and ancient evil spirit of black, and the gloom and despair of doom metal.
The disc features appearances by Blackie (ex-Root, Cales) Franta Storm (MasterHammer) and many more. Presented in a high quality digipack, this is just as the info describes, "anything BUT run of the mill. You NEED to hear this."
It's not hype. This is great shit, so check it out on Deathgasm records.
Highlights: Track 2, Track 3, Track 4, Track 5, Track 6, Dark Metal (8 Tracks, 38:00)
Fester - A Celebration Of Death (PR2012) - Fester is one of those bands who either really don't know who they are just yet, or they're in an experimental phase. I'm going to have to cover some tracks separately with this review, but that's because those tracks are really worth talking about.
"Rites Of Ceres 7:21" begins the disc with it's industrial influenced black metal. The vocals come out ferociously, and despite the programmed drums and effects used; (I'm not sure if they have a drummer or not - but I don't think so) this band really seems to create one hell of an opener. Melodies come in as the song slows down, but when the drums come back, the song resumes it's pace. This is everything you'd expect from great black metal, except that it's been slightly industrialized. Alright, so maybe it's been more than slightly industrialized. But it's still very good. The song fades out on a good melody, and there's some static with it.
"The Black Tower 6:42" is next, and it's easily one of my favorite songs. The rain intro brings in the ominous (yet Final Fantasy) style opening riff. The song slows, but the vocals just come in and slaughter. The melodies here really seem to be just a powerful as on the opener, even if you really can't quite get over the fact that these are programmed drums. The song picks up in the latter portion, still asserting black metal. Then it slows, asserting melody. Again, this might not be everyone's cup of tea - but it was mine.
"March Of Death 8:32" seems to have more of that raw black metal sound, but the vocals are very staticky in the mix. It sounds like it was an old recording, or just a bad one. There's a few good riffs here and there, but the quality isn't quite as good as the first two tracks. Maybe they need to go back and re-record this one. If there even is a "they." There are six people in the band photo, but some of them might just be corpses and the guy on the top left might be the only guy in the band. Though it has some interesting atmospheres, the song goes on for much too long. "Metalized 3:33" is much shorter, and the production quality is much better. But it still just sounds like death metal with programmed drums. No matter how good you growl and how good you scowl, if your drum programming isn't very good, it's going to show. It's not terrible, but could have been done a bit better.
"I'll Hunt You Down 6:17" comes in almost right during the last track. It didn't even end, but went straight into this one. The song is actually pretty good, but it does sound like a second part to the last song. The vocals sound decent, but the lyrics are really weak. There's some good effects strewn about, and some good melodies that finally decide to make their way back, so this one seems to be saved by those factors. One thing I don't like so much about this disc, is that this guy likes to repeat the choruses over and over again. It gets really boring after a while. But at least he's got a good sense of structure and atmosphere.
"Jeg Spytter Pa Deg 7:43" starts out with the sounds of battle and then sounds in the vein of classic black metal, only slightly industrialized. The riffs are good, but everything might groove a little more than you would like it to. "The Last Day Of Battle Pt. 1 1:18" actually sounds like a good acoustic intro. That's probably because no programmed drums are featured. "The Last Day Of Battle Pt. 2 6:22" sounds a little more like we've heard of Fester's melodic black metal with industrial influence and programmed drums. The second part of the song sounds more depressing than the beginning did, he really does have a musical sense, it's just that the equipment doesn't hold up well. "A Face For A Funeral 2:56" technically closes out the album, and it's really not much of a song, just sort of an outro to the last song. I can barely discern the vocals due to the static effects. It's nothing to write home about, either.
The album's "bonus track" if you will, is a "Rites Of Ceres" remix, called "Rites Of Mortiis" meaning that this guy's a big Mortiis fan. But you can tell that from the industrial black metal that he does. He does try to mix it in Mortiis's style, but we really didn't need this remix in the first place.
Whoever the hell this guy is, he and I have a lot in common. I've made albums that sound probably worse than this one and the lyrical style and voice prints even match my own a little. Except this guy is selling (or trying to sell his work) and I did not sell it. (Of course, I didn't think anyone would've bought it either.) The programmed drums will get on your nerves after awhile, but the melodies are good and the guy's both a good guitarist and vocalist. He seems to really have black metal down, even if it's a little more industrialized then you would want. While I don't recommend this album to everyone, some people might like it.
I find this sort of thing odd to be released in promo form by a distribution label, being that it does have some amateurism and is quite less than what I would've expected. But I do like a few of the tracks on it and it's not the worst thing I've ever heard. However, it might be the worst thing you'll hear all year depending on what you like. Give it a shot, or don't. It's your call.
Highlights: Rites Of Ceres, The Black Tower, I'll Hunt You Down, Last Day Of Battle Pts. 1 & 2 (10 Tracks, 55:00)
2.5/5 (A little more than mediocre, but not good enough to be solid. Percussion gets a 1/5)
Revel In Flesh - Deathevokation (PR2012) - Revel In Flesh was formed from the ashes of Immortal Rites (1996 - 2012), and is dedicated to paying tribute to the 90's scene of classic European death metal. It also consists of members from Dawn of Dreams and Apophis. The disc was recorded in Germany in 2011/2012, but the material was written between 2007-2011. That means this disc was four years in the making, folks. The disc was also mastered by the legendary Dan Swano, who knows more than a thing or two about death metal. And yes, it shows.
The disc is as you would expect. It's death metal with a lot of groove and great melodies that sound very much like death metal legends Bloodbath. By the way, this is only being done by two multi-talented guys. Haubersson does all of the vocals, guitars and the bass riffs; while Maggesson does all of the drumming, additional leads and FX. Trust me though, it won't sound like two guys.
Songs like "Shadowbreeder 3:32" come out of nowhere with catchy hooks and killer choruses. The drumming is insane and meaty, and the riffs are full of the European spirit of death metal. This is what I've always thought a death metal album sounded like, personally. I'm not sure about you. "Crowned In Darkness, Black Paled Elegy, Iron Coffin, Bloodfeast, Slavish Obedience, Culpa Et Inferna" and all of the other tracks that I haven't mentioned all are great and worth listening to.
The band clearly knows what they are doing and how to make superb European death metal just the way it used to be. No technicality, no core, no acoustic portions, but maybe some opening effects to add a bit of atmosphere to each of the songs. If you love classic death metal, you honestly cannot go wrong with this fucking disc. There's not really much more I can say, and I'm not going to sell it to you outright, I just strongly recommend that death metal fans pick it up, and if my review isn't proof enough, check other reviews that will tell you the same thing.
Of course, if you're not into death metal, you're going to be better off skipping this one because it's got nothing to offer other than death metal at it's very roots. As I've said many times, I love this shit. But you might not. In that case, there's a new Job For A Cowboy disc that's out. You can knock yourself out with that crap if you want. I've got to review it, but I'm finding it hard to make it past the first song. But that's not death metal. This is. So go check it out already.
Highlights: Every fucking track here. It all sounds like a great homage to the very best of death metal and you'd be a fool not to get it, blast it loud, and raise your horns into the air. A monumental effort. Well worth the time, gentlemen. (10 Tracks, 46:00)
Massive Assault - Death Strike (PR2012) - I've put in my reviewer resume, so to speak; to the review moderator for the staff of Metalstorm.net, a site I've used for years. I've always disagreed with the reviewers, but now I should have the ability to not bitch about the reviews as much, because I'll be doing them myself. One of the staff there gave this album from Massive Assault, a simple 5.0/10. He said that the album was mediocre bullshit.
But I beg to differ. The band, which can be described as "Florida style death metal + D-beat Crust with a thick Swedish Boss HM-2 Chainsaw guitar sound" supposedly will appeal to those who not only love death metal, but Crustpunk, Grindcore, and Hardcore. This is actually, not too far from the truth. Songs like the opener "Driven Towards Death 4:12" and "Cycle Of Violence 3:12" sound like death metal fused with punk, and even the vocals seem to drive more influence from punk. The production of the disc is also as raw as would benefit this type of band, being that they drive their inspiration from raw punk and early death metal.
The album sounds surprisingly organic in a world where effects and additives fuel our musical endeavors. This means that you can really feel the drums, the riffs and the vocals as they smash right into your skull. "Operation Anthropoid 3:24" has more in favor with bludgeoning death metal, and "Finished Sympathy 3:31" is more in line with groove and thrash. Yet all of it still keeps that raw punk sound, and that's what really makes this different from other bands out there.
You can hear the punk all throughout each and every track on this one, making it much more than some generic death metal album. Plus, the band really seems to come into their own and really enjoys what they're doing. You can tell by the recording that this album isn't just a bunch of guys plodding along like everyone else. They're drawing on all of their influences and having a good time making it their own.
"Turning Tides 4:46" features the band at a much slower chug, but it works and gives some diversity from the other songs of a much faster pace. Then we have the melodies featured on "Pride 3:23" which definitely give the music a melodic death metal injection. So you're not getting the same thing with every track. The very meaning of a generic album is something that fails to innovate or offer anything beyond what is offered on the first track. If your entire disc sounds like the first track, you're doing something wrong. Massive Assault however, did not follow this formula, and on this album they have created something that not only echoes their influences, but leaves the band's own mark on each and every one of them. Take "Dismal Life 4:24" for example. Definitely ominous and full of slow chug, but the vocalist really seems to annihilate this one. The guy's really a monster on vocals and this recording shows.
Some might discount this album because it sounds very raw. But I think that's an awful thing to do, because there are clearly some great songs on this album and I really fucking enjoyed most of it. I was expecting crap myself, but what I got was an organic, raw, and overtly heavy experience that doesn't beat me over the head with the same fucking song. Even the songs that do sound alike in some instance, have different sections so that they all don't emulate each other.
The album is a mix of both fast and slow kills, each one of them just as good as the last. To call this shit mediocre means to me that you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. While I'd not start shit with the staff at Metal Storm, they need to realize that their reviews are looked upon as canon by a great deal of metalheads. But if those metalheads were smart, they would also check further reviews. Of course the problem is that these guys are new and this would be the make or break of whether or not to check out the band. If someone says, "well those guys got a 5.0/10 so they must suck" then they won't even think to give them a shot. Then bands with something to offer don't get heard, and that hurts the bands.
I'm not just saying this to be nice, but I really think that this album is pretty damned solid and offers plenty for the metal fan and punk alike. This is about as raw and brutal as it gets, with no frills, and no fucking bullshit. I definitely recommend you check it out.
Highlights: Driven Towards Death, Cycle Of Violence, Turning Tides, Pride, Dismal Life, Chained (10 Tracks, 37:00)
Anhedonist - Netherwards (PR2012) - I hate to say it, but there's not much I can say about Anhedonist. I wasn't given much from the PR info, and the band themselves doesn't seem to offer that much that I could merit as interesting. The band plays a sort of doom/death which seems to drone on for very long periods of time, but is also rather low in quality and sometimes hard to hear. I suppose this sound could be compared to Vore, but I'd rather listen to them.
The band has quite a bit of groove and some good riffs from time to time, but the songs don't really seem to do much. Some people will and have enjoyed this album, and at 40 minutes of metal, there's certainly enough here to take with you. The band does add some melody "Estrangement 10:13" but then it turns into a exercise in insanity. Of course, this album is very hard to hear.
The third track, "Carne Liberatus 5:09" seems to be more focused towards death metal and an odd drone vocal. The final track on the disc, "Inherent Opprobium 15:14" certainly covers the spectrum of what we expect from death/doom and sludge, but it also adds a few melodic portions. Even though there are faster portions in most of these four tracks, the band keeps the music mostly slow and foreboding. It's just like you remember, and if it sounds good to you in this review, then you should probably check it out. Because it will sound just as good in your ears. Anhedonist make a classic aural assault to the senses, with their bizarre take on death/doom and sludge metal.
A solid disc that is certainly worth a listen.
Highlights: Not sure. But I'm sure you'll find some. (4 Tracks, 40:00)
(ONLY IMAGE AVAILABLE ON GOOGLE SEARCH)
Nexhymn - Black Horizon (PR2012) - Nexhymn, (which is not pronounced like Nexium, that little purple pill that cures the acid build-up from that jalapeno sandwich that you had last night) is a female fronted death metal band from Colorado. The band was formed from the remains of Throcult. Even though there's a female singer here, (who looks like she could bench press me) don't take this lightly. These guys and gal, are not about happy melodies and poppy verses. This is the heaviest of death metal that mixes everything from Morbid Angel, to Immolation, to Dying Fetus, and Behemoth at their most brutal.
Though just 22 minutes, Black Horizon is just enough to get the point across. If you look at the band photos, you'll see the band wearing the shirts of their influences at the forefront. Holly has an Altars Of Madness tee, Tyler is wearing an Exhumed tee, and Ivan is wearing a tee for Hate Eternal. All of these influences have crept their way into the band's sound, which can be both be an assault, and a bit of a slow but still devastating battering ram. The band also has plenty of structure in their material, which keeps the same riffs from repeating over and over again en masse.
Technically, there are only 5 songs on this disc and it's considered to be an album oddly enough, instead of an EP. But perhaps another album will release later with more material. There is certainly enough merit for a band like this, with a great deal of musicianship and a killer female vocalist. You might even change your mind about females in metal if you're one of those anti-female metal elitists. As for the riffs, they creep on black metal, even though the band is obviously death metal. It adds a darker element to the music. The drumming on this album is certainly one of it's major standpoints, and the drummer really seems to know what he's doing. If you need proof of that, simply give it a listen.
But you won't hear any solos or light acoustics, and there's no real prog to be found. There isn't even any over the top technicality or djent. This is nothing but the most bastardly brutal death metal that you've ever heard. There is no compromise, no remorse, and no mercy. This is Nexhymn, and I do think by the quality of the material presented here; that the band is certainly here to stay. This is bloodthirsty, bludgeoning, and surprisingly well structured death metal that is well worth a listen.
The album contains a video for "Decaying Monument 4:48" and the entire album in MP3 format, packaged on the disc. Even though it ends with a crappy little outro, (it's useless in all actuality) "Death Emotion 1:48" the disc is certainly worth checking out. At 22:00 and just six tracks, it can't be too expensive.
Highlights: Everything but "Death Emotion." (6 Tracks, 22:00)
4/5 (Could've been a bit longer.)
Demon Lung - Paredolia EP (PR2012) - Let me be perfectly clear here. Someone's about to get ripped a new one. This band sounded like they might be something worthwhile, perhaps a sort of traditional doom metal in the vein of Sabbath that I might give a shit about. The band has an interesting image and appealing album cover as well, but I shouldn't have expected anything more from them than that. Also, I need to point out that this is female fronted doom. Which is a sort of rarity.
These Las Vegas doomers failed to impress me. To tell you the truth, it really sounded like the same riff repeated over and over again, and the same vocal lines in the same tone in the same place on each and every song. I thought I was listening to one long song that really had no point or purpose but to rewrite itself for 22 minutes. It was literally like being tortured, in a sense.
How much more boring can it get? There's just about nothing here on this album that I haven't heard already and better. I'm not saying that this band is dead in the water, but they need to offer more before I'll even think about giving a shit. You might enjoy them, true. There's nothing really wrong here, it sounds like doom metal and is audible, her vocals sound good enough and there's no real musical issues other than constant riff and vocal repetition for 22 minutes. That will drone on anyone's nerves, no matter how ritualistic you might think the riff and vocal repetition may be.
If you think it's worth a shot, pick it up at the band's website: http://demonlungband.com/fr_store.cfm There's also a limited cassette release coming sometime this month (if it hasn't already came.)
Highlights: Nothing. Sheer boredom for 22 fucking minutes. When's the new Candlemass going to come out? (4 Tracks, 22:00)
2/5 (Extremely Mediocre)
Antropofagus - Architecture Of Lust (PR2012) - These technical death metallers that have much in common with Decapitated definitely offer a great performance. Though few of the songs ever stray from the formula of fast-paced technical death metal, the band has a lot of structure and some killer solos. The vocalist is a gravel mouthed beast, and the drummer is just as demonic. The lyrical nature of the band is based around Clive Barker's Hellraiser and The Lament Configuration, as can be easily seen on the album's graphic artwork.
If you're looking for an album that truly defines brutality and technicality, and does it 35 fucking minutes, you're definitely going to like this one. There's not a bad song on this disc and from the sound of the material, they could really rival bands like Necrophagist. That's really fucking saying something folks.
Now that all of you have taken my last comment to heart and decided to check this shit out now, you should be under the same impression that I'm under. Yes, these guys are pretty fucking talented. The drumming is maniacal, the riffs all over the fucking place, and the time signatures are down to a precision. According to the Hellraiser mythos, Leviathan ( a great floating crystal) was all about perfection and precision. It's cenobites matched it's own vision of perfection. This music would most certainly line up with those beliefs, and would quite possibly be the preferred soundtrack of the torture that would accompany Leviathan's hell.
The last track on the disc, "Det Helgeran Av Haxor (Outro) 5:43" I must also mention, because it is done at a much more slower pace than the others. It is still technical and features the same form of drumming, yet with the vocal style especially, it reminds me of Morbid Angel's "Where The Slime Live." While definitely not what you would expect for an ending to the disc, I think it's a killer track by itself. The evil march portions of the song also help in it's awesomeness, and the song fades out in this notion, leaving just some ominous effects and a bell to end out the disc.
Brutal, unrelenting, chaotic, maniacal, frenzied, tumultuous, and so many other words can be used to describe this masterpiece. Unfortunately, my PR info from this band was blank, but I was able to read some notes from a flyer that I was sent. If you want to know more about these chaotic masterminds, definitely google them and check out their music. I'm sure you'll want to own it soon enough. Pain and pleasure are both desirable, after all.
If you are lucky enough to have one of Lemerchand's famous music boxes, hold it in your hands and play this one along with it. You never know, you might just get a surprise... Remember, angels to some, demons to others...
Highlights: ALL (9 Tracks, 35:00)