Friday, June 8, 2012

Week 46 (Backtracking)


Goatwhore - Blood For The Master (2012) - As I've already said, even if I say this album is their worst, you still need to pick it up and support them. These guys have done some of the best black/thrash I've ever heard and they're damn near local. Hopefully, I'll be able to see them at Downtown Music in March. I've heard they put on one hell of a show.

First thing's first, though. This is just a little bit different from your average Goatwhore affair. But relax, because it's still loaded with plenty of thrash to bang your head to. This time however, the band has added more structure to their songs, full on death metal tracks with solos, "In Deathless Tradition, 4:26" some Amon Amarth style riffing on "Judgement Of The Bleeding Crown, 3:58" some slower acoustic parts on "Embodiment Of This Bitter Chaos, 4:44" with slaying guitar in the background, and some actual melody on tracks like "Beyond The Spell Of Discontent 4:44" that remind me of melodic black metal bands like Alghazanth. But don't worry, there's still thrash on this album. It just seems like the band has been doing some experimenting. I also forgot to mention some of the proggier riffs that you'll find on the album. But trust me, none of this will take away from the full package.

In fact, I consider most of these additions to be improvements. This is probably one of the most unique offerings that Goatwhore has offered yet, and I dare say that it's one of my personal favorites. The injections of black metal have increased, and the thrash has dimmed down just a little - but you'll barely even notice it.

There's a short little thrasher on the disc called "An End To Nothing 2:49" it should definitely fill the thrash void for you, if you don't feel that this disc is thrashy enough. But if you don't, then I have no idea what you would want the disc to sound like. Plenty of thrash here, IMHO.

Most of the songs follow the same style, except with added injections in each track, giving them differentiation. So this won't sound like one big song, and will stop the naysayers from naysaying! So naysayers, stop your naysaying!

But all jokes aside, this is definitely one of the most mature Goatwhore albums I've heard and it really shows the band rising to new heights. The album opens thrashing "Collapse In Eternal Worth 3:40" and challenges you a bit in the middle. But either way, Goatwhore fans should love this disc and will play the hell out of it.

As far as I'm concerned, every track on here is just perfect. There's no problems with the riffs, the vocals, the drumming, it's all spot on. The production sounds good and the disc is fucking overall enjoyable. Get off your ass and buy this, please.

Highlights: Every track really, but I personally liked: In Deathless Tradition, Judgement Of The Bleeding Crown, Embodiment Of This Bitter Chaos, Beyond The Spell Of Discontent, An End To Nothing. But honestly, I'm just nit-picking. They're all fucking great. (10 Tracks, 38:00)

EDIT: Listened to "Carving Out The Eyes Of God" and noticed little difference between the two albums. It also has prog, light melodies and death metal influence in places. Nothing has changed.



Dodecahedron - Dodecahedron (2012) - As I was talking about with the infamous "Holy Shit" thread that surprisingly has gotten more views than week 45, (and I worked really hard on that week, folks!) I was definitely curious about this new avant-black metal project, Dodecahedron. Which is a polygon, but I cannot remember how many sides it has. I almost flunked high school geometry!

The band definitely takes a cue from Meshuggah and Blut Aus Nord. Basically if you combined the two together, this is what you'll get. Sometimes the tracks are very heavy, "Allfather 6:17" and filled with that robotic sense that Meshuggah and many other djent bands are famous for. Of course, there's still a very avant sense about this music too, with most of the instruments playing well off the beaten path and reaching into undiscovered territory. The drumming is certainly good, with plenty of different frills and bell and whistles. It's the sort of drumming that you would expect for a band like this. The musicianship overall on this disc is very good.

However, it can sound rather noisy at times and will not appeal to everyone. But if you like your riffs all over the goddamned place, then you might like this one. I could actually liken this to the legendary Blut Aus Nord album, "The Work Which Transforms God." Except that it's much heavier and features some definite thrash moments. As for the vocals, they're a definite shade of black metal. They're's no beating around the bush. The scowls come out great and work well with the rest of the music.

Another thing this band is proficient in, is atmospheres. This disc is loaded with atmospheres and structural changes that will blow your mind. You might need to be high before you pop this one in, but it's going to be worth it. "Descending Jacob's Ladder 5:03" really feels like it is a message from beings from beyond our world, and that's the kind of shit that people should be trying these days. When I can play a song like this and really freak someone out, chances are that the album has had the effect which was intended.

The disc features four main songs, the final of which, "The View From Hverfell" has three songs, each part of that song being absolutely incredible, but the denouement of the track, and the album closer "A Traveler Of The Seeds..." certainly showcases all of the band's intricate melodies, insane playing and awesome atmospheres. This is the very definition of the word avantgarde black metal, and my ears are saying "thank you" for the gift that they've received.

Not going to beat around the bush here, folks. This disc is probably one of this year's best black metal albums, and it's certainly one of this year's avantgarde albums as well. You should definitely put this on your list of albums to purchase. This journey is well worth the price.

Again, Dodecahedron isn't doing something completely new, and we can all agree on that. But there is little left to innovate these days, with more things being tried than can be created. However, the band rises to the front of the pack and let's hope the record sales and fan support will keep them in that position. It doesn't get much more interesting than this, an album that you'll literally have to listen to again and again and again to fully understand and soak in. The very meaning of avantgarde metal.

Highlights: Allfather, Descending Jacob's Ladder, View From Hverfell II, View From Hverfell III (The Finale) (7 Tracks, 52:00)



Golden Dawn - Return To Provenance (2012) - Golden Dawn are a bit of an oddity in the metal scene, mixing their brand of black metal with many other elements. The band's last album, "Masquerade" had plenty of variety, which gave the band a lot of character. One of the biggest touches is the gothic influence which is sometimes backed with violins and pianos.

The quality here is much clearer than the last album too. The last one was certainly audible, but I can discern the vocals better here. As for the songs, "Nameless 4:20" is a great way to open the album; sounding like great, but not amazing black metal. "Return To Provenance 4:47" also follows the same black metal style, which begins to really sound like a well produced black metal album. So for the most part, I'm hearing a big difference from "Masquerade" and something more like modernized black metal with high production.

"Dark Illuminations 4:56" takes some influence from Enslaved on the riffs, and the vocals seem to work well with the song. There's also a backup choir that sings amidst some clean picking. It's definitely one of my favorite songs on the disc. I'm also drawing a resemblance to Naglfar on this particular disc, except for the prog riffs and keyboard stuff that can be found on tracks like this one. Yes, I'll cement this track as being a must-hear from the band.

"Dionysian Eucharist 4:55" adds more thrash and moves completely away from the prog nature of the last song. The song comes on very fast and powerful, with some groove to balance it all out. Still, nothing you haven't heard before. "Denial 3:42" is a darker track, but it's nothing out of the ordinary. The track still features some good structure though, and great drum work. But most of the drum work on this disc is good. The drummer does a great job of blasting when needed, but using the other parts of the kit as well. There's many parts to a drum kit after all; not just the damn kick pedals.

"Seduction 4:33" reminds of what a good black metal song should sound like this day and age. The song incorporates the same style that Naglfar, Old Man's Child, Rotting Christ, Secrets Of The Moon, Dark Fortress and others have used in modernizing black metal. Listening to this one will definitely remind you a great deal of the bands I mentioned, but I think more towards Old Man's Child and Naglfar.

"Vision Of Entirety 4:46" starts out with a long intro which goes into a much thrashier state once the vocals come in. Again, the prog is getting pushed in places, but the melodies really drive this track. At about the 2:50 mark, the song has an acoustic breakdown and goes into slower territory. Damn, this reminds me so much of Naglfar. I hope that "Teras" will be as good as this, or better.

"Self Destruction 5:27" closes out the disc, and it starts out with a weird drone-like riff. This is also one of those songs like "Dark Illuminations" where the prog is brought out. I'm also hearing a violin, and then the vocals come in. They seem to go real well with the riffs, and that's important. Clean backing vocals are featured, and melodies once again begin to drive this song. The disc ends on that note, ending with 37:00 of music played. If that's not enough for you, I'm sorry.

Personally, I thought this disc was one of the best Naglfar albums I've never heard. There's a lot of style plagiarism here, but they do a good job with it. Plus, Naglfar has yet to incorporate Enslaved's proggy riffs, and this band did that. I really think these guys have a promising future in black metal, and definitely caught my eye and attention.

Sure, it's not ridiculously different, and it's definitely catchy; but that's not so bad, is it? Not for me. These guys don't really have much of a fanbase yet, so if you like them, go buy a copy of this one and help them out. It's a well produced disc with plenty of black metal to like for fans of: Naglfar, Old Man's Child, Rotting Christ, Secrets Of The Moon, Dark Fortress and others in that vein.

Highlights: Dark Illuminations, Dionysian Eucharist, Seduction, Vision Of Entirety, Self-Destruction (8 Tracks, 37:00)



Avatar - Black Waltz (2012) - Now I thought that this was going to be some sort of monotonous deathcore/metalcore band, and for that I apologize. When I heard a few minutes of the first track, that's what I got from the band. But after hearing this entire 55:00 piece, I'm convinced that this band is budding with natural talent and has a lot to give the world of melodic death metal. Because that's what they are, not the core stuff I had assumed earlier.

But this isn't just your average melodic death metal band either. You can see their influences shine with death metal that reminds me of Hypocrisy, and electronic parts with light vocals which remind me of Tagtren's other band, the former industrial powerhouse (who now seems to be losing it's steam) known as Pain.

You'll hear melodic death metal fueled tracks like the opener, "Let Us Die 4:12", "Ready For The Ride 3:14" and "Blod 3:34" for example; but you'll also hear electronic influenced work like the killer "Torn Apart 6:28" and "Paint Me Red." Not to mention plenty of djent, but this doesn't sound nearly as mechanical as Meshuggah. It's very different, very unique metal that might appeal to the death metal fan who wants something new from the scene (me.)

The title track on the disc is by far one of the best, making it worth it to have titled the album with one of it's prime songs. But the certainly different blues and country influenced closer, "Use Your Tongue 9:32" showcases the band's most odd elements and their greatest, in one damn near 10 minute piece.

The band doesn't rise to proficiency on every song, and this is still the sound of a band who is either in early experimentation stages, or a band who has experimented themselves into a hole. It doesn't mean that this is a bad album, because it's absurdly unique, offering you different vocal styles where you just wouldn't expect to hear them. The drumming is basic for the most part, but the guitar riffs are certainly catchy. There are also some great solos and some interesting prog work, like in the middle portion of the closer.

This band still has a way to go, but from what I've heard; I'm quite impressed and will be playing some of these tracks for years to come. Definitely worth a listen. But try before you buy, because this won't appeal to all metal fans, obviously. But I personally thought that while all the songs were good, few were great.

Highlights: Let Us Die, Torn Apart, In Napalm, Black Waltz, Use Your Tongue (11 Tracks, 55:00)



Bleeding Through - The Great Fire (2012) - I liked Bleeding Through's last one, and the one before that, which was one of the first "blackcore" albums I've ever heard. This album continues that same mix of death metal, hardcore and black metal. It's a style that oddly enough works, and is something that only we in America could've cooked up.

Some of the songs seem like they've got too much structure actually. The opener "Faith In Fire 1:54" seems like it's going all over the place. Surprisingly, unlike the band's last album, these tracks are very short. They're almost grindcore lengths, and the disc itself crams 14 tracks into 39 minutes. The longest song on here is "Walking Dead" and that's only 4:05!

But the disc is actually pretty fucking good. I think that the hardcore/black metal mix of "Goodbye To Death 2:33" is worth listening to. There's definitely more hardcore on this disc, especially vocal-wise. But the synths and riffs remind me heavily of Cradle, and that can't be such a bad thing. There's also electronics and clean vocals on the disc as well. It's really a hodgepodge of metal styles, just like their last disc.

Alright, let me take a step back here. In fact, this band took two steps forward, and with this album, has stepped all the way back to their old days. Let's be honest here. This would be nothing more than core/deathcore without all of the synths and electronic effects. For the most part, it's just glorified hardcore. All I've heard are the grunts and groans of hardcore throughout the disc, despite a few clean vocals and black metal influenced vocals that were used sparingly. With this album, Bleeding Through proves that they are now nothing more than a one trick pony, only capable of making extreme hardcore with some experimental properties. Despite the difference in riffs and synths and orchestrations and all that good fodder background stuff, the band pretty much gives you the same song for damn near forty minutes. The vocal style never changes and it just starts to sound fucking bland. I don't care what's going on in the background, this is still as I've said, GLORIFIED HARDCORE.

Fans of hardcore however, might really like this disc. That's because it does do some experimenting and change their genre around. Of course, hardcore purists should stay the hell away from this one. Personally, I think the disc has enough to appeal to hardcore fans, regardless. It also will be the flavor of the week for the current pop-metal scene. Dare I say it, but don't kid yourself folks. This band is the Lady Gaga of the pop-metal scene. It dresses different, but sounds the same.

It's a decent album, I've heard some vampires that sound much worse. I personally liked the older albums and this one sounds too corporate and marketable to angry youth. It's on Rise Records, which is probably a subsidiary of one of the big guys, the ones that the <(O)> owns.

Get it if you want, but I won't spend my money on it.

Highlights: The March, Goodbye To Death, Final Hours, Trail Of Seclusion, Entrenched, Back To Life (14 Tracks, 39:00)



Soulfallen - The Promise Of Hell (2012) - Black/Death doomers Soulfallen have finally released their third opus, and it's rather magnificent; even though I thought that the band's last album 2009's, "Grave New World" was going to be hard to top. The folder I have claims to be a CD Rip, but it's only 192 kbps. This doesn't really justify the album much, but it gives one enough of a listen to warrant a full quality purchase.

The disc is 51 minutes long, but there's plenty of ground covered within these nine tracks. All of the songs actually vary in length, anywhere from three and a half minutes, up to the 10 minute mark. But fortunately, the album opens with as powerful a song as the one that opened up their last disc. This track is entitled "The Birth Of Newfound Death 8:09" and while it takes a while to reach it's peak; it finally does so, and rather epically. There's not much for musicality here, but the song in general is great.

This is followed up with "Questions and Answers 3:48" a powerful track with great melodies, a killer solo, a good chorus and some orchestration that all seems to work in the band's favor. It's a clear standout for them, and worth hearing by itself. The next track, "Ghosts 5:26" follows this same greatness, with epic melodies and orchestration that work together than anything I've heard from Graveworm in the past 10 years. If this band is trying to fill Graveworm's shoes for gothic black/death, they've done it here. There are few words to describe such a great track as this one, other than "well done."

"Scars Aligned 4:07" really works well also, with it's breathtaking melodies, and duet vocals with a female vocalist. Normally I'm iffy about these kind of things, but the death metal vocals dueting with the clean female singing reminds me of early Theatre Of Tragedy, when Liv Kristine was still in the band. The band pulls this style off effortlessly. "The Silence Of The Storm 6:16" is next on the list, bringing with it a middle eastern vibe, at least where riffs and atmospheres are concerned. It's a much heavier number, and seems to get it's point across, but is not as powerful as the other tracks have been. However, I do like the proggy style drumming that the drummer uses in pieces of this. Alright, maybe I spoke too soon. This is the band's thrashiest song, and it has some black metal moments for sure. It's a breakout from the slower doom style that they've been using. Of course, things slow down and get acoustic towards the end. It's more like they added an intermission piece at the end of this song. A good intermission, but they could've just ended it with metal. Alright, I'm mistaken again. The chorus comes back in and the black metal influence continues up until the end of the song. (At least, musically.)

This one should be less troublesome to explain. "Cold Beneath The Sun 4:33" goes back to the slower, doom style. The riffs sound foreboding and the orchestrations also carry the same sense of dread. A piano also starts playing in this one. You know what to expect here, really. "Dead and Dying 3:46" follows this up with a much thrashier groove featuring a choir in places. This one is more straight up death metal than the others. It's still nothing amazing, but it's a more fast paced track than is on most of this album.

The final two tracks on this album are "Bring Me My Demons 6:11" and "At The Heart Of Dying 9:30" which is a long closer. Obviously, I'll have more to say about the closer than the other track, but as for "Bring Me My Demons" it continues to up-tempo that this disc seems to continue in it's latter portion. The track has the same middle eastern vibe that "The Silence Of The Storm" had but it also has a definite black metal injection amidst all the atmospheres and orchestrations. The chorus riff kills, and so does the second guitar solo. This one is a major standout for the album.

Now for the closer. (Yes, I'll need a separate paragraph for a damn near 10:00 track.) It starts out with a piano and some doom crooning. When the guitars break in, they do slowly. We know where this is going. Definitely reminds me of old school Swallow The Sun. Personally, I think a slow track like this doesn't belong where it is, it throws off the whole up-tempo nature of the second half of this disc. "Bring Me My Demons 6:11" should have been the closer, as it showcased the best parts of this band, and the lyrics seemed to have summoned up the idea of this concept quite well.

But if you liked the slower doomy stuff, it's there for you at the end. The song however has a lot of structure and stands out well enough. Of course, we end acoustically. Jeez, who saw that coming? I'm personally getting tired of these somber acoustic endings to doom albums. We get it, alright? It's sad. Play us out with an angry thrasher next time, okay? I know you don't do that shit onstage.

All in all, it's a great disc. But there's two filler songs, and while the closer is good, I don't like it as much as some of the others. They've done better and it sounds like they're retracing their steps. Nonetheless, this one is definitely worth checking out, if you're looking for good black/death/doom that makes you want to go back and replay the disc.

Highlights: The Birth Of Newfound Death, Questions And Answers, Ghosts, Scars Aligned, The Silence Of The Storm, Bring Me My Demons, At The Heart Of Dying (9 Tracks, 51:00)



Nekromantheon - Rise, Vulcan Spectre (2012) - Ah, good old thrash metal. Good for lifting weights and getting some exercise. Good for getting my lazy ass into shape, been playing too many fangames and haven't gotten my regimen in a few days.

Alright, so now that all that's over with; let's get to the reviewing of this beast. Which it certainly is a beast, but not one that we haven't already heard the roar of before; with it's Slayer inspired riffs, fierce but not quite harsh vocals, and erratic drumming that can all be more or less described as nothing more than "a solid thrash album."

Track by track, I'm hearing the same things that I've already heard time and time again. I'm not saying that it's awful album, quite the contrary, really. But it's nothing more than a good old thrash album with a slightly raw/slightly produced sort of sound. Sure the solos are good, but I've heard solos just like them before from the greats. I'll make this one simple as pie. If you like classic thrash and are tired of your old classic thrash, go buy this one. But chances are that you aren't sick of those albums you grew up with, so this album will do nothing for you. Sure, it's good thrash metal. But let's not kid ourselves either. We've all heard this before.

Highlights: Not even necessary. Each track sounds decent enough, but nothing stands out to me here. (8 tracks, 30:00)



Blind Guardian - Memories Of A Time To Come (2012 3 CD LTD. Edition) - Like everyone who used to be on Midsouth Metal could've told you, I used to be the metalpepsi guy who loved to rant about Wicca and listened to Blind Guardian. But I'm not going to deny it, folks. That was a good time period in my life. I remember when I would just headbang myself silly to some of their older power/thrash releases, and songs like "Born In A Mourning Hall." Damn, that stuff is really timeless.

Well, the band thought so too. That's why they've released this "Memories Of A Time To Come" 3 disc set, which probably comes in some sort of enormous box with a dragon figurine, I haven't really looked at it yet. But the set contains three discs:

Disc 1: Best Of

1. Imaginations From The Other Side (One of my personal favorites)
2. Nightfall
3. Ride Into Obsession
4. Somewhere Far Beyond (I think it's about the Dark Tower)
5. Majesty
6. Traveler In Time (Also has to do with the Dark Tower)
7. Follow The Blind
8. The Last Candle (A great way to end it)

(8 Tracks, 52:00)

Disc 2: Remixes and New Recordings

1. Sacred Worlds (Original Version) (Yes, I have the Sacred 2 game.)
2. This Will Never End (Remix 2011)
3. Valhalla (New Recording - This Kicks Ass!)
4. Bright Eyes (Remix 2011)
5. Mirror Mirror (Remix 2011)
6. The Bard's Song (In The Forest) (New Recording)
7. The Bard's Song (The Hobbit) (New Recording)
8. And Then There Was Silence (New Recording... All 14:00 of it.)

(8 tracks, 51:00)

Disc 3: Demos (Limited Edition Version Only)

1. Brian
2. Halloween (The Wizard's Crown)
3. Lucifer's Heritage
4. Symphonies Of Doom
5. Dead Of The Night
6. Majesty
7. Trial By The Archon
8. Battalions Of Fear
9. Run For The Night
10. Lost In The Twilight Hall
11. Tommyknockers
12. Ashes To Ashes
13. Time What is Time
14. A Past and Future Secret
15. The Script For My Requiem

(15 Tracks, 72:00)

For the most part, this is just about the definitive Blind Guardian collection, albeit some issues. First of all, I have no idea why bands that have been around for ages like Blind Guardian and Rammstein, feel that they have to just put out one single disc of their best work, and then another disc of other stuff, whether that be remixes or new recordings or whatever. I've seen other bands release a two-disc compilation of their best work and it's so much more gratifying.

But saying that eight tracks is the composition of Blind Guardian's work is about as foolish as anything that I've ever heard. Granted they really got some of the best and most epic songs from the band's legacy of metal, like "Imaginations" as an opener (which is probably the best opener they could've used) and long epics like "Somewhere Far Beyond", "Traveler In Time", and closer "The Last Candle" to really round out the set. Although I liked "Nightfall", "Mirror, Mirror" should've been in it's place. I can see how "Majesty" would well represent the band, being that it's one of their early classics. But I can't see how "Follow The Blind" would be better than "Damned For all Time" or "Born In A Mourning Hall." I can't fucking believe that those tracks aren't on there. What about, "Welcome To Dying?" Damn, what a great song that could've been used.

But instead of bitching about the disc, I can say that these songs sound as good as they always have. They didn't need remastering, in my opinion. Hell, they might not have even been remastered at all. I can't really tell.

Now, the second disc. It starts off with Blind Guardian's epic "Sacred Worlds" for the X360 and PC only game Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. (Did you know that there's a European only Expansion?) The track really is about as epic as the game, but it's pretty much like a one person MMO. Very much comparable to Diablo, I suppose. I do like that there are unconventional characters like the Angel and the Temple Guardian. The game has a fatal flaw though, and that's it's constant urge to respawn enemies. Enemies respawn so much on the fields that it lags the entire game. But it's still pretty decent. A ridiculous amount of quests and a good combat system, not to mention a huge fucking map. It's a 12 gig install btw. (I use the game's thick case to prop my laptop on, but have made backup ISO's of the discs in case anything happens to them.) Anyway, the track is now 9:19 and it definitely works. I also think that this is the version used in the game.

"This Will Never End 5:08" is the second track here. This is really the only good song from the band's 2006 album, "A Twist In The Myth." (Sacred Worlds never appeared on that album, even though it was written in promotion of that album! It's called bad marketing.) The new mix sounds much clearer and I definitely like it even more than the original. It's amazing that we've come this far and can mix something recorded in 2006 to sound even better than it did in 2006.

Then there's "Valhalla 5:15" and this is a new recording. Hansi's vocals sound just as good as they did on the original. the fucking playing is good here. They also got the original other vocalist from "Valhalla." I have no idea who it is, but it's definitely the same person. By the way, the playing and solo work on this sounds BETTER than the original. It also has an acoustic portion towards the end in which the chorus is reiterated. It's good that they can go back and do this song justice. The lyrics definitely still ring true to this day.

"Bright Eyes 5:16" follows this track, and it sounds just as good as it did before. The quality is better as with remastering. It's definitely a classic that sounds much better than it did before. Amazing thing, technology, eh?

"Mirror, Mirror" follows. Apparently they felt that this song needed to be remastered. So they did remaster it, even though I've worn this fucking one out on the old "Nightfall" disc. I'll bet I've listened to it well over 100 times in my life, if not more. This version sounds much clearer as you'd expect. Maybe they should just remaster all of their old work.

The Bard's Song (In The Forest) and (The Hobbit) follow. These are brand new recordings, and just in time for... whoops. That's after Dec. 21. Fuck you, Mayans. You'd better not be right. I'd certainly like to see that new Hobbit film this Christmas. As for the tracks, they're alright, I guess. Hansi's vocals don't really fit the melody of the first one well, but the melodies here are expanded and there's some different things going on in these that weren't going on in the originals. Of course, "The Hobbit" is guitar influenced and it certainly helps it. Hansi's vocals seem to work better with this one. Wow, this one actually sounds as good as the original. Of course the guitars are clearer and hit harder too. I have great feelings about Blind Guardian's 2013 album (double album?) and I think it's going to really put them back on the map. Then maybe they'll make that third Demons & Wizards disc. These men are getting old, so they need to get it done while they've still got the chance.

The last song on this disc is the epic, "And Then There Was Silence." It's 14:05 long, and this is a new recording, so I'm curious to how it will sound. Just as I expected, this sounds remarkable. I believe that it even sounds better than the original, making it far superior. The recording is pristine and the mixing is great. Hansi sounds at his peak, and the epic instrumentations in the background of this massive piece sound utterly magnificent. This is the crowning jewel of this set, one of the band's most epic tracks beautifully re-recorded and fantastically well done. There's nothing more to say other than to give this a listen. Upon hearing this, I am even more convinced that Blind Guardian will make a true comeback to power metal in 2013.

The third disc is only available in the limited edition version of the disc which probably comes with an iron-on patch, or a bunch of stickers, or an action figure, or a pencil sharpener, or something else; I'd reckon. Regardless of all that, this disc is a 72 minute monster of early demos and some much more recent demos. Now why would you care? Well, honestly; I can't tell you why you should care. The hardcore fan might, but I'm willing to bet that these are all rough around the edges because they're fucking demos.

Do I really have to review these demos? All I can say about them is that they've been remastered and you can hear them better, but they're still demos. Maybe you want to hear the band at it's earliest (Lucifer's Heritage) and that's cool. Plus there's some demos on here of songs that should have been in the original set to begin with. Unless you're a hardcore fan, you don't really NEED to have this, and I would consider just buying the original cheaper version of this set. It contains some of their best tracks and some great revisions and amazing re-imaginings. I'm pretty damned impressed, personally.

While it's not MY definitive Blind Guardian selection, it's certainly not a bad collection from these epic power thrash legends. I see no major problems here. What is offered is good, but it's not enough to deserve a triple 6 or 7 rating. But 5/5 ain't bad, right? That's usually what most people consider to be perfect. Take my advice, I used to be a hardcore fan of these guys, but now enjoy them every so often.

Highlights: Imaginations From The Other Side, Nightfall, Somewhere Far Beyond, Majesty, Traveler In Time, The Last Candle, The Entire Second Disc, and the third disc has some good demos, I guess. (16 Tracks Spanning Two Discs In The Original, 103:00. 31 Tracks Spanning Three Discs In The Limited, 2.9 Hours)



Drudkh - Eternal Turn Of The Wheel (2012) - Drudkh's last album was great, and I don't see this one being any worse or better, really. But I haven't even listened to it yet. So here goes nothing.

The disc only has five songs, so I'm going track by track. As a matter of fact, let's just start with the intro, "Eternal Circle 1:15" which is literally just some acoustic strumming on the guitar. You could skip it if you wanted.

Now the disc actually begins, with "Breath Of Cold Black Soil 9:45" which certainly sounds like black metal. The quality is produced, yet still raw and features the same sort of melodies that made Drudkh great. The vocals seem to be more of a holler than a scowl, and there even appears to be a few groove sections in this one. Some synths also come into play in the latter half of the track. Not too shabby. But so far, nothing out of the ordinary.

The third track, "When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls 9:21" seems to be a little fiercer than the second track, but it's got the same vibe. Drums really come into play more in this track, and there's a few interesting drum tricks, but again; nothing amazing. Just as in the other track, the synths come in on the latter half. So far, this is almost a copy and paste of the last track. Towards the end of the track, there's a light acoustic which features the chirping of crickets in the background, and cicadas and other things of that sort. Then the track blasts it's way to conclusion.

The next track, "Farewell To Autumn's Sorrowful Birds 7:48" is a tad bit shorter, and it's also slower than the other tracks have been. While definitely drawing from doom, the band is also keen to add sound effects from nature, and have an occasional blast section. This band definitely plays by a "if it ain't broke" sort of mantra, if you will; and I don't see that mantra changing anytime soon. Even though the production is better, the music is still the same sort of melodic black metal that we've come to expect. Around the 4:30 mark, there are a few interesting riffs I could point out as well. But they fade fast and go back to the norm. These same riffs come back to close out the song though. At last, we hear a man treading through deep snow, and the caw of a crow.

The closer, (Yeah, already. I told you this one was short.) is called "Night Woven Of Snow, Winds, And Grey-Haired Stars 7:58." It seems to be a much slower affair as well, but features a fierce vocal line. You can still hear the synths, but they do add some flavor to the song. At about 3:25, the blasts come back and the speed of the song increases. Then it slows again, so you get the idea here. The main selling point of this one is it's melodies, which are as beautiful and somewhat dreary as you'd expect. The winds blow amidst some guitar melodies here, to slowly end out the track.

I can honestly tell you that this is nothing new, and it won't surprise you. But it might be just the sort of melodic black metal fix that you're looking for from Drudkh. With greater production and discernible instruments, you'll be able to hear everything and it won't sound nearly as muddy as the band's past work. It still has the feel of raw black metal, but not the kvlt sound that you may be looking for. I certainly enjoyed it, but I don't think it's going to win any awards for originality. It's another drop in the bucket for Drudkh, but it's a damned good one. Definitely worth a listen at least, but don't expect anything overtly exciting.

Highlights: When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls, Farewell To Autumn's Sorrowful Birds (5 Tracks, 36:00)



Alda - Tahoma (2012) - In the same vein of Drudkh, (and these are never planned, I just go down the list of folders I have) we have Alda's "Tahoma" which is a Windows Font. But I strongly doubt this guy would be singing about a Windows Font. Also just like the Drudkh album, this disc only has five tracks. Except that it's a bit longer, being a full 50 minutes in length. As such, another song by song is required.

Alda starts us off with a whopper of a song entitled, "In The Wake Of An Iron Wind 11:14." Also just like Drudkh, the song starts out with a light acoustic melody, except there's a windy sound effect in the background. Now a sort of folk vibe takes over, and the whole things sounds like it's part of an ancient ritual with the vocalist chanting. This ends at 2:03, with the guitars coming in, but just a little fuzzy. Then the drums start blasting amidst the riffs, just like with the Drudkh album. The scowls sound fiercer here, and the quality is far more raw. The other guitarist is really pulling off some interesting riffs if you listen real close. But the main guitarist and drummer certainly are pulling their weight as well. I would've liked it to have been a little more discernible, especially in the middle, where it's tough to hear two separate sets of riffs. When the drums calm down, then I can finally hear them much better. When the vocals come in towards the end, things are still a tad bit muddy. Acoustics end out this track, as one might expect (or it'll be wind, or something.)

Next we have, "Adrift 8:38" which starts with waves crashing on the beach. Then the guitar comes in slowly, but the song is itself a little slower and lighter. Melodies really seem to make up this one, and even through the muddiness, I can certainly discern the beauty of them. The vocals are clean here, and they definitely work. Of course, then the blasting begins while the melodies continue. It now sounds like muffled hollers that don't really do much of anything. I can't hear them at all. It's a good thing most of this track is musical. But I can still hear the passion in what little bit of vocals I get from this one. However, there seems to be more passion in the playing. Speak up! I can't hear you! The track goes back into a slower pace, and I can hear the chanting once again, perfectly. The guy must not be screaming into the microphone. The track ends with a muffled melody amidst the waves.

"Tearing Of The Weave 8:24" is next, and it starts out acoustically. Clean vocals flow immediately, and I can hear them very well. There's also a backup vocal that sort of duets in places. Guitars and drums come in and drown out the vocals. It's got a little bit of groove to it, almost like a sludge. But then the vocals scream in, and I'll be damned if I can actually hear them again. I guess the guy moved up closer to the microphone this time. The song slows and a clean melody plays. Well, here come the acoustics, and the tribal drumming too. Yeah, there's a violin. They are also getting their polka on in a few areas. But all that gets drowned back out by the black metal which keeps literally "crawling in." There's not much vocal to this one, but that doesn't stop him from screaming just a few more lines before the song ends. The song comes to an abrupt close.

The fourth track, "Shadow Of The Mountain 7:52" starts out right away with clean vocals and an acoustic melody as you'd expect. The whole song appears to be a light acoustic track with vocal harmonizing throughout. it's actually a really good track, and showcases a much softer side of this band. A side that I personally think they are more proficient in. A female joins and duets towards the end of this simply beautiful piece. Then we have a native American chant to close it out.

The album closer is rather long, and it's entitled "Wandering Spirit 14:10." This is obviously a little heavier than the last one, but it is still in the midst of an intro, so I have no idea what this will turn into. Female harmonizing seems to begin the track, which is slower and doubling head over heels with melody. Things slow down to open the way for drumming. Then a sort of a jam session portion starts to come into play. Vocals finally make their way in about the 4:50 mark. These are of course, black metal scowls that work well with the riffs. Then the blasting comes in. Still hard to hear him while the drums are blasting, but there's effort there. The song eventually calms down and slowly begins to fade out. In it's place are some wolves howling and some sort of electric fizz. I also hear some wind. I also hear somebody pressing a button, perhaps turning something off. Yep, this is low budget. But it's still good.

Obviously, Alda's a little rough around the edges. But that doesn't mean that they're not good. For fans of the more raw and kvlt black metal sound, you might want to give this one a spin instead of the high produced new Drudkh album. The acoustic portions are great, the melodies rival Drudkh's, and they seem to do things their own way in some instances. Obviously these guys don't really have any money, so give em some and buy a copy of this. If it's free, then support them by downloading it from their webpage. Whatever you do, don't let the effort die unheard, because it's pretty damned good and I enjoyed parts of it. I feel that you will too.

Highlights: The Entire Disc (5 Tracks, 50:00)

4.5/5 (A little rough around the edges, but a great effort nonetheless. I quite enjoyed it.)


Suicidal Angels - Bloodbath (2012) - Once again, I'm having Deja Vu. While this is good thrash metal, it doesn't offer anything that hasn't already been done before. The vocals are decent, but not necessarily important. The band thrashes around at a common pace, with guitar solos you've already heard a dozen times over. Honestly, this is probably replaceable with most of the albums in Slayer's or Sepultura's discography. I say Sepultura, because this is obviously a Brazilian thrash band, and they're following like so many other Brazilian bands, in the footsteps of Max and crew.

However, "Chaos (The Curse Is Burning Inside) 4:26" features some great solo work, and it's much catchier than some of the songs on this disc. To tell you the truth, there actually became a point where this disc perked my interest. I don't know how it happened exactly, but I was eating a PB&B sandwich (that's peanut butter and bread) and decided to leave this one playing while I was in the other room eating. Immediately (and I swear it wasn't the peanut butter) I started to notice that songs like "Morbid Intention To Kill 6:06","Legacy of Pain 3:30", and the closer "Bleeding Cries 6:06" were some pretty damned good thrash songs. Now, as I said before; it's nothing new - but it's not thrown together bullshit either. There was even some death metal vocal influence on "Legacy Of Pain" that just worked for it.

There were a couple four star tracks too; like "Face Of God 3:36", "Torment Payback 2:54" and "Skinning The Undead 3:21." These tracks weren't amazing, but they were certainly a little better than the first two tracks I heard from the disc. Suicidal Angels certainly do have some talent for making memorable thrash, and I don't know if this is their debut, or their 10th album. But I'm quite sure that the thrash fan needs to at least give these guys a spin, because they've got songs about death, destruction, the undead and hell - that you might actually care to listen to.

Once more, nothing groundbreaking can be found here, but unlike the other thrash band I've heard this week, I'm going to have to give the thumbs up on these gentlemen. They certainly know how to thrash and they'll give you quite a beating. But that's what you want, you masochistic bastards!

Just kidding about the masochistic bastards part. (God forbid if someone gets offended online these days.) But seriously, folks. Give this shit a listen.

Highlights: Chaos (The Curse Is Burning Inside), Face Of God, Morbid Intention To Kill, Legacy of Pain, Torment Payback, Skinning The Undead, Bleeding Cries (10 tracks, 42:00)



Semargl - Satanic Pop Metal (2012) - I thought this might be interesting, being the title was pretty ironic, but it turned out to be a real bore. Semargl is nothing more than an electronic / melodic death metal band with a female backup vocalist that sings a few lines on the opener, "I Hunger 3:23" and makes you think that it's a female fronted group. But she also sings on the short closer, "Redire 2:45" which manages to pit electronics with fantastic guitar playing. But this is the only good guitar playing on the whole damned album. It makes me want to slap the guy in the face. I mean, you have the skills - so why not show them on the other 12 fucking tracks, huh?

Seriously, there isn't much guitar effort on this one, and the electronics are basic for the most part. The male vocalist uses a demonic filter on his scowl which makes it sound like there's a growler in the band as well, but I can tell that it's clearly an effect used by the singer to sound even more demonic. Speaking of demonic, this clubby death metal is loaded with lyrics about the devil, and being evil and all of these other stupid corny things. Honestly, the lyrical content on this thing is fodder. Damn near every song on this album is also fodder. I don't care if you like electronic death metal or not, early The Project Hate eats this stuff alive.

Semargl, you might think that you can taunt me with a woman's bum on the front cover, but I've seen bigger asses before in my life, and some absolutely juicy ones on the internet. So not even that is going to work for me. So let's see... Metal - Meh. Lyrics - Suck. Vocals - Hit or Miss. Electronics - Boring.

Fuck it. Don't buy this shit. Don't even waste your time. Hell, I've already wasted it when I downloaded it. I've heard far better shit than this, and I can name it for you. Kovenant - SETI, Thyrane - Hypnotic, The Project Hate - Armageddon March Eternal, Blood Stain Child - Epsilon or Mozaiq, Sybreed - The Pulse Of Awakening, Even the vocals on Machinae Supremacy have never been my favorite, but I still manage to be a huge fan of that band because of their electronics and metal sense. It is not that hard, folks. This album is clearly a band that is literally trying to "pop" but isn't even fucking bloody well trying. Oh, yeah... these songs are all under 4:02. That's close to average radio single length.

Whoops, I went into character for a second there. But it's true. This is shit. I'll give it a .5 because of that great closer and guitar jizz at the end of the disc, but other than that, this ain't worth giving too fucks about. Hell, it ain't even worth just one fuck. Don't even let me get started on how many shits that this ain't worth giving. I could also mention how many damns...

Highlights: Loneliness, Redire (13 Tracks, 43:00)



TRAM - Lingua Franca (2012) - This is the kind of experimental art metal that you would expect from half of Animals As Leaders, and it's a side project that certainly shows that Tobias and crew can do much more than just, well... metal. Yes, this is more or less a instrumental clusterfuck of a disc, but it has some great melodies. It certainly seems like a very "traveling" piece, hence the name TRAM. All of this music sounds like it's going somewhere, you might feel as if you're on an instrumental train and every break in the album is where that train has made a stop.

Saxophones? Flutes? Effects? Weird female vocal noises? Yes, it's all here. Not to mention the guitars, which are most certainly played and well, at that. While this isn't by any means a heavy album, it still has progressive metal flair throughout each and every one of these six tracks. Sadly, the journey is short and only lasts about 29 minutes. But you can always just hit play and take the whole journey all over again. This is an absolute recommend for fans of experimental music/metal and artsy stuff. I certainly enjoyed it, so definitely check it out if you're into Animals or interesting music in general.

Highlights: Wouldn't it be foolish to single out certain parts of a journey? The whole experience is to be enjoyed at large, and more or less constitutes as one large piece of music. (6 Tracks, 29:00)

666 (For the experimental crowd, this is crack.)


Liv Moon - Symphonic Moon (2012) - Liv Moon is a Gothic and symphonic metal band from Japan. Some of their songs are also ballady and feature more rock elements, but there is definitely metal in the band. First of all, the beautiful singer on the front cover has a vocal range that blew me away. Whether she is singing in English or Japanese, her vocals are still very powerful, and they can soar to operatic heights. There is most definitely Nightwish influence in this band, but they've shown up any of Nightwish's current efforts with this masterpiece of an album. Some of the songs are rather heavy and feature some thrashier drumming, and some of them are much lighter, something you'd expect to hear in the closing theme for an Anime. It doesn't matter what it is, they always seem to make a soft closing theme for Anime.

Songs like the opener, "Amen!", "Reino Tenshi", "Alchemy", "Kiss Me, Kill Me", "Black Serenade", and "The Last Savior" really show the strengths of this band. But in all actuality, I'm probably forgetting some. There are some songs on here that feature an epic metal approach, and others that sound more like gothic metal. There's even some punk influence in a few of these. But no matter what the band is doing, this amazing woman seems to be able to power through it all. let me also state that there are some light prog and synth moments in the band, and some flying guitar solos. The band really kills on guitar, and you'd never believe it, seeing as most gothic metal bands these days tend to turn away from the solo. But the Japanese don't. They even use guitar solos in their pop music, and I can humbly respect that. (I also feel that J-Pop is far better than anything this country's pop has put out in years.)

The closer is "Masquerade" and the reason I mention it, is because it's much different than the rest of the disc. Now, that might be good or bad. If you like heavier stuff, you're not going to dig this one. But it's more of a traditional J-Pop ballad with rock elements. This most definitely would be the closer for an Anime, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's already been used. (Of course there's so much Anime out there, if it did surface on one of them, I'd probably never know it.)

All in all, the band is truly amazing and well worth it, whether you're some chick that likes J-Pop and female fronted metal, or you're some guy that likes J-Pop and female fronted metal. Or maybe you just like female fronted metal. Anyway, if you're looking for a fantastic female fronted piece, this is definitely it. It blew my expectations and didn't get boring. Her vocals are also just so damned great that I almost got lost in her voice. That's when you know you've heard a good album.

Oh, there's an "Interlude By The Ruin" which is only 0:52. It's decent, but didn't need to be on the disc. But I can't really bitch too much about an interlude.

Highlights: The Entire Disc (At Least For Me) (12 Tracks, 52:00)

666 (Probably one of the best female fronted goth metal discs you'll hear this year, especially if you like pleasing vocals.)


Voidhanger - Wrathprayers (2011) - Do you need a quick fix of blackened thrash metal? Do you need one right fucking now? Well, Voidhanger's here to help. Their new disc only constitutes as much as a lunch break, (31:00) so if you work retail and you need to wash all that poppy mainstream shit that plays through the PA out of your head with some black metal, (Damn you, Adele and your earworms!) this will do it. By the time you know it, you'll wind up feeling well refreshed and ready for metal... I mean, work.

Fans of Goatwhore will certainly love this, and fans of both black and thrash could certainly agree that this is a badass album. It's slightly raw, but produced enough that it's discernible, the riffs are good, and the vocals are very grim. The drums are thrashing like they should and this guy really shows some emotion and power on this disc. He actually shouts, "come on!" and "let's get to fucking!" as if it's at a real show, and I fully respect that.

The songs are pretty short too, so if you don't have time but for just a couple tracks, you'll be able to get through some of them in time enough to make it back to the clock in time. This is good shit for killing while you're playing FPS's (Don't tell me you don't fucking do it, my friend and I did it just a few weeks ago. Things just die easier when there's blasting metal in the background.)

There's not really much to say about the musicality here, it's just really badass, that's all I can say. It's heavy as hell, it's got it's groove parts and it's definite black metal parts. Yes, it's very much in the vein of Goatwhore, and I would really insist that you buy this along with Goatwhore's new one, just in case you can't get enough of that black thrash fix. Songs like "Dead Whore's Corpse 2:37","Skin The Lambs 3:21", Daughter Of Filth 3:23" are just three of the reasons why you need to hear this.

I really don't know how much more I can sell this one to you. You'll either check it out or you won't. But let me tell you something, I really dug this shit. I love black thrash though, so it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. But as for the rest of you, fuck off. You know what I'm giving this brutal black masterpiece of thrash and blood.

Highlights: The Whole Fucking Disc. Blast This Shit Through The Walls. Hearing's Overrated! (10 Tracks, 31:00)


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