Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Week 49 (Backtracking)
Burzum - Umskiptar (2012) - Well, I'm not going song by song on this, and there's a good reason for that. I didn't exactly like this album much, at all. I thought it would be more like Filosofem, but instead it sounds like a guy singing in Norwegian to Odin and his pals. There's black metal on this disc, but don't be surprised when I tell you that this is not full-on black metal album. It's a Viking/folk metal album with a great deal of clean vocals and some atmospheres.
Sure, the instrumentation is good and there are some clever riffs here and there, but when you get to the unbearably long epics like "Gullaldr 10:29" (which probably means that Odin sat under and old Oak tree) you'll get tired of it all quite fast. Some Burzum fans might like this change in direction, comparing it to the switch Bathory made years ago from black metal to full-on Viking metal.
But the result here isn't as satisfying as say, Hammerheart for example. While there are some who do like this album, I am one of the many who just didn't care for it. Burzum has released so many albums in the past few years that it mirrors the path of artist evolution (started out playing black metal, now folk metal, later techno exc.) in half of the time that it usually takes other artists to start veering off into other musical directions.
Some of you might like this new change, and in some ways it is still certainly Burzum. But as far as I am concerned, this isn't the kind of Burzum I'd like to hear again. Honestly, I was just waiting for this disc to hurry up and end. While it does have it's moments, and I'll admit that there is still black metal here to be found; I am betting that the next round from this heathen may not be very black metal, let alone metal at all. Yet, it's still a solid disc and isn't necessarily terrible. I just didn't care for it.
Ketha - III-ia (2007) - Though I am not sure which album in their discography this is, if it's the one that preceded 2nd Sight; I would certainly have to say that the band definitely came a long way since that release. For those of you who might really enjoy this one, stop reading now; because I'm about to bash it.
First of all, the production isn't that great. But I guess I could see that the band had less money in these days. Second of all, the vocals suck. I'm not crazy about the whole Max-Cavalera-esque approach of the vocals here. They don't sound like death metal vocals and don't work at all for me.
But I will say that this album has more overall music to it, and less experimenting. There are plenty of parts on this album which could actually be considered death metal and not just a guy growling over riff oddities. I suppose if you want Ketha at a more basic but still experimental approach, this album is worth your time. But I believe that from a reviewer standpoint at least; 2nd Sight is leaps and bounds over this one, which only has it's merits.
Still, a solid release.
Highlights: None really to speak of. But tracks are much longer in some instances. (8 Tracks, 32:00)
You all know how I said that I'd try to add some old releases into the reviews? Well, you're gonna have to fucking forget about that. At least for now. It seems like every time I turn my fucking head, something new is out. There's some major releases from legends and underground favorites and I intend to cover all of them, damn it! Looks like I'm gonna be buying some albums this month!
By the way... Didn't quite get my hands on Helloween and High on Fire this time, but I definitely will have them both next week, as they'll be more than readily available by the time this gets posted. Also, I thank Deathgasm Records for partnering with my PR folks, because I am now able to promote their latest releases.
Naglfar - Teras (2012) - Naglfar, where in the hell have you guys been? The last time I remember you was before I had an ulcer and didn't get tired quite as fast as I do now. What the fuck happened? Did you guys take a fucking vacation or something? I almost thought you were dead, until I saw that this was coming out.
First of all, I loved Pariah and I loved Harvest. Those fucking albums rocked my early 20's. But now I'm into my late 20's, and getting closer to the big 3-0. Regardless of all that, the album sounds like it's business as usual. The sound literally comes off the heels of Harvest, and even continues some bits of Pariah, yet I'm surprised at the amount of melody and yes... guitar solos. There's actually some fucking great solos on here and I didn't even expect them.
The disc begins was "Teras 2:16" a melodic, but still thumping intro. It contains a choir chanting "Teras" as you'd expect, and some actual vocal lines, but it's a very short song. It should've in my opinion, been a full fledged song. It wouldn't have killed them to stretch out what could've been an impressive opener for another two or three minutes. The next track is "Pale Horse 3:38" which combines black/thrash with folk melody. It definitely sounds more in the vein of the Pariah material, but about 2:15, it goes into the much more melodic territory of Harvest. But it doesn't stay there. Not a bad track, but I've heard far better.
"III: Death Dimension Phantasma 4:14" bludgeons on next, and it definitely sounds like a good mix of Pariah and Harvest. There's also a really great melody used in it each time after the verse, sounds kind of spatial, which this band seems to delve into these very ethereal style melodies, no matter how dark they might sound. There's also a bit of classic solo and a crunchy section, but the melody is still there. This is probably one of Tera's best tracks, and what you'd expect from Naglfar.
"The Monolith 6:33" is much different than anything they've done to my recollection, but I've not heard much from the band. It's a brooding track, not quite as in your face as some of the others have been. But even though the song is slower than most, it still contains some very grim melody and spot on vocals from their front man. Some might say it's just a little too long though, and there's not enough going on for the song to have drug out quite as long as it did. Even the vocal acrobatics can sound rather dull after awhile.
"An Extension Of His Arm and Will 4:46" returns us face-forward into the blasting black/thrash that we'd expect from this band. Of course, it's still got that melody and catchy vocal lines that you would expect from the most recent incarnation of this band. This one's very catchy, but I almost thing that the band is rewriting their old albums. Alright, well there's some good drumming that leads up into a solo, and while the solo is going on, the vocalist continues. This track is manufactured to be catchy.
"Bring Out Your Dead 4:48" has a little more groove to it, but the same kind of vocal style. These guys are like the Maroon 5 of black metal, honestly. Everything is meant to be catchy. It just seems to have a groove beat that you just don't hear from 80% of other black metal bands. Stuff like this could just as easily be called "black rock." The song's catchy, but there's nothing here that really makes me ecstatic. There's some slight structure additions, but the main point of this song is that chorus. Come on guys, you can do better than this.
"Come Perdition 5:42" starts out with a nice black metal melody, and delves into the kind of black metal that we're all more used to. This is definitely more of the black/thrash material, and it's well welcomed after the catchier stuff on the disc. A good melody starts to develop about the 2:00 mark. It carries on through the blasts and then goes back into thrash. The song fades out about 3:16 and there's some epic drumming, bells and other such symphonics going on, like your choir and what-not. A riff develops and then the drums slowly pound until the pedals start hitting again. Something we've all heard before. But I do like the simplistic bass plucks during the lead melody. There's just something about that. Then the vocals come back in and everything blasts as you'd expect.
"Invoc(H)ate 4:24" comes in next, thrashing and melody-ing it's ass off. Yes, we've heard this before too. But it's not bad. Oh, here comes that nice catchy chorus. Damn, how many times have they done the same song? A little bit of prog comes in mid-way, not for too long though. Melody comes in, a little snarl from the vocalist, some more melody, vocal line is spat back out. Definitely a lot of black/thrash here. Here comes the chorus. Oh yeah, repeat that motherfucker. Just repeat it up till the end of the song.
"The Dying Flame Of Existence 8:11" is the band's chance to be all epic, because they haven't done so much so far. It starts out like Metallica would, actually. You have that lead riff and then the epic drum taps. But unlike thrash, this goes into a slow but rhythmic black metal. It's actually not a bad song, really. There's a good melody that comes in about 3:30. Then it goes back into the style that it began with. Very old school, but it's a good thing. They've been playing pop-black for quite a few songs on this one. Now the drums are gonna do something special to kill some more time. There's also a good melody here in behind those drums. You'll hear it more after he shuts up. I also heard another vocal line, but I couldn't discern it. Someone didn't master something right. This one is definitely the vocalist's show. He's in love with his own scowl. There's no doubting it. But he's fucking good, I definitely took inspiration from him. Oh, another good melody about 7:00 and the Teras chant comes back. A great way to end the disc. Although, I think everything's going to fade out... yep. I have no idea why they did that, the album could have continued the chant throughout the disc, after the music itself had ended, until there is nothing left but the choir chanting, and then you put in the sound of disaster, storms exc. Then the disc ends. Idiots! I should be a producer.
All in all, you should be ready to expect catchy melodic black metal. That's pretty much what this album is, folks. There's some good drumming occasionally, yet there are plenty of good melodies (some good riffs) and an over the top vocal performance. If I can say anything really about this album, it's that it's the vocalist's show, mainly. I've already said it once on one of the tracks, and I'm repeating it. I can tell when a man is going above and beyond the call of duty because he thinks his vocals are some of the best there are. I definitely like his style and approach, it somewhat influenced mine; but there's a lot of the same throughout each of these songs, no real change in pitch. Also, the band hasn't really given us anything new. They've really just assembled some of their best sounds and threw it together at the last minute. It all just seems like the fabricated black metal that the masses seem to think is rebellious and cool, but it's less than art. Naglfar put out this disc because they needed the money, I guess. It doesn't show any signs of maturity and seems like a band on autopilot. I could've sworn that I've heard these songs before I ever had a chance to hear this album. That's just fucking pathetic. I'll call the disc solid, but don't spend any money on this if you already have Pariah and Harvest. You're not really missing anything. I would consider you just go over to Nuclear Blast's site and buy the separate tracks you like. There's no way you'll want this whole thing.
There's also a bonus track, but mine didn't have that. It's called "These Tired Bones" and it's probably not that good anyway. It makes me think of an old man bickering.
Highlights: Teras, III: Death Dimension Phantasma, An Extension Of His Arm and Will, Come Perdition, The Dying Flame Of Existence (9 Tracks, 44:00)
Secrets Of The Moon - Seven Bells (2012) - Coming off the heels of Privelgivm; one of the roughest and hardest to pronounce album titles I've ever heard in my life, Secrets Of The Moon have finally released their long awaited (well, many people seem not to care so much about these guys, as I didn't even know this release was out) follow up. Well, it was long awaited for me. If you don't like them, just skip this review. But I still consider myself a fan of these guys, because they always seem to approach black metal a little differently than the rest of the pack.
This album is no exception. As you'd expect, it's a 360 degree turn from the type of material on their last disc. Seven Bells is much slower, brooding and dare I say that it hinges on being post black metal altogether. This could mark a new sound for the band, at least for now. The first big change is the addition of almost a sort of punk inspired hollers on the disc. Yes, there's some scowls but you do get these sort of hollers in areas. I think it sounds good, but others may question themselves as to whether or not it can still be classified as black metal. Also, there's the use of a female vocal in some areas. It's really not as bad as it sounds folks, and I found this entire experience, though overly satanic it may be; rather enthralling.
The album starts out with "Seven Bells 7:10" which literally starts out in the same vein as ACDC's "Hell's Bells." But trust me on this one. It doesn't go into rock and roll, it goes into post-black metal. With plenty of chug, the song fully starts up at about 1:48, and then some nice melodies come to play in the background. It doesn't really sound that much different, at first. But then when this intro piece ends and the riffs start getting a little faster, perhaps even a bit like thrash; the song slows down. Then the vocals switch from their usual growl to like I said, a sort of holler. Expect it, as it's used fervently on this disc. On the portion of the chorus, the riffs speed up giving it more of a black metal feel, but then it will slow right back down again. This song, like most of the songs on this album; is an endless roller coaster of ups and downs that sounds quite artful as a whole.
So, as I said, the song slows but the melodies have slightly changed, upon the second vocal line the melodies change once again. It does keep a lot of structure and goes for black metal that is both brooding and forceful. Next we start to hear some bells, and then a magnificent guitar solo. Vocals come back in and there's more of a guitar punch in the background. Even though I didn't mention it, the drum work on this album really helps to fuel the atmosphere. Think of it as a very tribal sort of tapping that works very well for this type of sound.
"Goathead 6:27" pulls no punches, being a thrashy black metal song right at the beginning. That is until the vocals start, and things start getting a bit slower, but still grim. Then the thrash comes back in the chorus. At about 1:20, things really start to get slow, almost like doom. Melodies come in about 2:00 and they are well warranted. Work was definitely put into this album, it was not thrown together. Then the song gets even slower at the 3:00 mark. The drums barely tap, and the guitar barely plays, but it does make it all rather ominous. Then the guitars get louder and the vocals follow them perfectly. Very post-metal in this aspect; but a welcome change. This might be a contender for AOTY. There's some whispering/weird effects near the end, as the song fades out. Definitely different.
"Serpent Messiah" begins with the ringing of bells also, and a grim opening melody. The drums are a little more fastpaced on this one, and melody carries through, mutating slightly. The vocals come in with very subtle guitar riffs and and soft drumming. Now here comes the hollers, and then the chorus, which sounds like Satyricon groove/black. The song slows back down and continues the same pace. Hollers come back, leading up unto the chorus. Drums seem to have more fun the second time around. Now there's a second chorus, it is hollered and features a strong melody in the background. Let's go back and call the Satyricon portion a pre-chorus, as this one is used in more of a choral nature. But after that chorus, the song goes into a brooding nature, very slow paced but still very grim. Vocals come back in and you can hear little else, until the holler portion that leads into pre-chorus starts. Pre-chorus begins, drums have their fun, and then we have a little bit more fun until the chorus comes back. I don't know about you, but this song has some killer structure and drum work, and it's one of my favorite songs this year. Definitely check the drums out on this one. Now the song goes back into it's brooding nature and grim melodies. New melodies now sprout forth, threatening a solo. But it never comes to fruition and an eerie hum is what we're left with, as well as some quick leads and more bells. You'll also hear some quick drum taps.
"Blood Into Wine 5:39" starts out like a sort of black march, with epic riffs and drum work that makes me think some evil overlord is visiting a small village in order to ransack it. At about 0:40, the song begins to change, sounding very black but very brooding as well. Vocals come in, but nothing really amazing yet. Now we have some Metallica type parts where the drums and guitars thunder in a "dun duh duh duh duh DUN DUN, dun duh duh duh duh duh DUN DUN." You get the idea. Then the song continues at it's pace. It sounds like another vocalist is in this song, but I can't verify it. Now the vocals really go to the hollers, but it's right during the Metallica like portion of the track, and it works there. But the tempo changes after that, bringing with it faster drum work, and more melody. The melodies are great here, by the way. Now the vocals come in, and it sounds more traditional, except only one short vocal line is being uttered each time. Another melody creeps up, and then the Metallica portion that features what I'd believe to be a chorus by now. Whispering and triumphant death march riffs continue to the end of the song.
"Worship 9:16" starts out more brooding than some of the others, they're all brooding in some way; seems to be the nature of this disc. At about 1:00, the vocals come in. Then things seem to get real soft and melodic for a few seconds before the next vocal line. Drums seem to increase in intensity in various portions of this second vocal line. Now a chorus forms, but it sounds like something I'd expect from 2007 era Paradise lost. Vocals almost sound the same there. Now the vocals continue with an atmospheric effect that distorts the vocals. Now the chorus comes back in, same way as they did before. At about 4:41, the song changes tempo and becomes a thrashier, chuggier song. The vocals come back immediately, but work as well with the new style as they did with the old style. Don't forget about that grim lead melody. Even though the song slows, the melody continues and eventually, you'll hear a violin. Song begins to slow again. Maybe that's not a violin, but it reminds me of one. It's some sort of synth effect. The song now goes back to it's normal nature now, and goes into the chorus in no time. The chorus repeats itself again almost in a radio style. But then the drums and melodies seem to have a little sort of duet towards the end of this one. Great ear candy.
"Nyx 11:52" is opened with a short bell and soft, depressing melody. If you don't know who Nyx is, look it up. Might help you understand this song a little better. Song gets a little heavier, but continues to be slow as the vocals come into place. Now a dreadful croon forms from the vocals, unlike we've never heard before. It seems to work well with this track though. Vocals come back in scowling, and drums thrash a bit. The next part of the song comes in with a great and dark melody, just like I would expect from a song called Nyx. Then we get some more light melody that threatens a solo, and it could be a solo; just not a very fast paced one. About 5:12, there is little to decorate the stage, and the croon vocals continue. Then the scowls come back in, and a holler declares "I live through you!" Then the second portion comes in, and I am now assuming this great and dark melody to be something of a chorus. This track is very dark and very post-metal influence.
Vocally, this sounds like a true emotional hymn to the dark aspect of the universe in this form as a dark mother. Some vocals are then spoken, but I could not decipher them. After this, a sort of angelic atmosphere plays. I could sense by the vocals alone, that this is a very personal song for the vocalist of this band. You cannot just make that kind of emotion up. This is fucking deep. The atmosphere that continues sort of instills the beauty of darkness into your spirit, remember that it is just as important as the light; and beyond this from there are no concepts of good and evil. Light and dark exist simultaneously in the universe and are constantly warring, but remain balanced. For one to take over is impossible, as the balance of the universe would not be proper without this elemental duality. Something like that would essentially unmake the universe itself.
The last bell chimes as the closer "Three Beggars 12:34" comes into play, thrashing but still maintaining a slow ground. The song slows and the croon comes back into play. Here comes a female vocalist. Then comes back the scowls and thrash. The song again slows, almost acoustic. There's a light sound effect there. Then the vocals come back into place along with a dark melody. A little bit of lengthening structure creeps up into here, almost like a sort of prog. Then the song slows completely, and an almost ritual chant begins. Very deep stuff, folks. There's a woman harmonizing in the background, or is she chanting something? I have no idea. I can't decipher what he is repeating in a mantra either. Now it's clear that he's saying, "The fall." Now the music gets heavier and the vocals get rougher. At about 8:00, the song slows down again, no vocals this time. Just a light riffing. Now at 8:29 the thrash and scowls come back. The drums get faster at 9:00, sounding more like black metal. As a melody leads the way, vocals continue and it all just sounds fucking great, especially when the drums go back to thumping. 11:00, and I can now hear a bell, and some sort of effect. There's someone moaning in pain and an odd riff. I heard someone screaming in agony now, and I have no idea what that last sound is. The song technically ends at 12:09, but my tracks keeps playing. It could be the rip, or they intended 20 seconds of silence.
In closing, I have to say that this is one of my favorite black metal albums in a long while. It's different, and truly unique. The melodies, drum work, vocals, everything on this disc is fucking above and beyond the call. This is what black metal sounds like, or should sound like in 2012. I really think that if you haven't heard this one yet, you need to go check it out. These guys have given black metal a new face and have even made it even more bleak by making such ominous atmospheres with their instruments. It gets no blacker than this. It's like taking part in a dark ritual. A definite must own for black metal fans, and metal fans in general.
Highlights: All Seven Bells. (7 Tracks, 59:00)
777 (This album could very well stand the test of time.)
Imaginary Flying Machines - Princess Ghibli II (2012) - Well, the weird mix of J-Pop and extreme metal called Imaginary Flying Machines is back with Princess Ghibli II. If they do a third one, I'm getting on a plane to kick someone in the balls. There are hundreds of thousands of anime themes I'd love to hear get the extreme metal treatment, and I've never been crazy about Studio Ghibli anime. Plus, I'm sure if they do more popular less mainstream anime, they'll get the anime bandwagon to check this disc out too, besides confused metal fans. You should've seen the responses on the forum when this was posted. Also, there are only 10 originals on this discs. They decided to throw in two remixes and probably fucked them up in the process.
The Bands: Disarmonia Mundi, The Stranded, Rise To Fall, Living Corpse, Blood Stain Child, Destrage, Neoargento.
Anything else can be found by looking at the album's wiki. It has quite a cult following, and this disc is not meant for international release. You're going to have fucking steal I guess, even though I think you might be able to get it at cdbaby.
But before you decide to grab it, let me tell you what you've got. First of all, this disc DOES NOT hit anywhere near as hard as the first one. Also, much of the death metal vocals are in the background, and the female vocals are the main focus here. Even though it might sound like Japanese singers, not all of these women are. But everything else should sound spot on. If I can't tell that these women aren't Japanese, it must be pretty damned close. There's also one male vocal on the disc (more about that later.)
The disc is only 43 minutes this time, and I'm not even thinking about a song by song. There's not really enough warrant here for it. Disarmonia Mundi does three tracks, Living Corpse and The Stranded do two, and Rise To Fall and Blood Stain Child just do one track each. Neoargento however, has one original and two remixed songs from the first album, one of them the balls out opener from that disc, and the other from a band called Destrage. I can't remember if I loved or hated them.
Most of this is light hearted death metal, with synths and such so be prepared for it. Of course, Rise To Fall's track is certainly as metalcore influenced as you'd expect. But the female vocals work well with it and the guitar has a great background melody. Disarmonia Mundi are still the standout band on the disc, with everything sounding as great as on the last one. Especially the death metal ballad (yes, go shoot yourself - it's happened) "Up On Poppy Hill." You ever wanted to hear a death metal ballad? Well, there's one for you.
Also this thing seems to be all about electronics. Dub-step haters will despise the deathcore/dubstep influenced Living Corpse tracks, "Sekai No Yakusoku 3:26." and "Ponyo On The Cliff 3:17." The band has ruined both their tracks with this garbage that sounds like the sound a robot makes when it shits.
As for Blood Stain Child's track, it sounds pretty decent for them, very fast paced and with electronic (non-dubstep) influence. If you like BSC, you'll like this track. It's a definite standout. "On Your Mark 5:27" has male vocals, but I am not sure of the vocalist. I need to mention that because this is a first to include male vocals. But it's not Vortex or anything, so don't go crazy about it.
If there's one track on this disc I need to mention specifically, it has to be the awesome instrumental done by The Stranded. The band shreds away, and does it with great talent and skill. The song goes all over the place, showcasing many interesting moments and is worth your ears. Trust me, this one's just fucking great. I'd even say it's the best on the disc.
Neoargento isn't going to be the most metal of all things, as you'd expect. But they do a really good synth section at the beginning of their original track, "The Merry Go Round Of Life 3:21" even though it contains a little dub-step influence. The track altogether is a great electronic track with light metal influence that works well enough for me. No vocals though, as you'd suspect.
Now for their remixes. The first one is that remix of "Ponyo On The Cliff 3:25" which now sounds more jumpy then the original, and sounds like it might be played in a Japanese club. Alright, that's one down.
Now for the make or break on these remixes. "Tonari No Totoro 3:25" is the first album's opener by Disarmonia Mundi and is arguably one of the best songs in the set. If they fuck this one up, I'll be really pissed. Alright, so it starts out soft. What the fuck? Okay, this sounds like the worst remix possible for this song. I feel like this might play a Japanese gym. It's too happy and weird with all the bells and just really innocent sounding child-like synths. It sounds like death metal candy. Um, I don't mean ear candy either. I mean it sounds like guys that wanted to make death metal that sounds as weak as possible. You might laugh a great deal at this one. I can still hear this one playing in the background of a Japanese workout program.
All in all, I'm both pleased and displeased. Honestly, they didn't need to sequel this; but I guess they felt that they had to. The remixes could've been left off in all honesty, I never want to hear either of them ever again for the rest of my life. But if you're curious, some of these songs are pretty damned good actually. If you count out the ones from Living Corpse and their dub-step deathcore/death metal, you might be surprised to find that there's eight good tracks here. eight out of twelve isn't necessarily bad, and if you ignore the remixes, you've got a solid disc. But this is nowhere as good as the first one. Only that awesome instrumental by The Stranded really makes this one shine. Not a necessity, but worth a listen if you haven't got anything else to listen to but J-Pop and Metal mixes.
Highlights: Toki No Uta, Rouge No Dengon, Sayonara No Natsu, Ai Wa Hana Kimi Wa Sono Tane, On Your Mark, Umi No Mieru Machi (The album's gem) (11 Tracks, 43:00)
Cynic - The Portal Tapes (2012) - These are what remains of the period of Cynic's hiatus where they played more of a prog/rock style of music like The Gathering and Porcupine Tree. It also contains a female vocalist by the name of Aruna Abrams. It's definitely worth checking out, but don't expect anything more than what I've told you. The fucking thing sells for 23.00 because Season Of Mist wants to be dicks, but it's not necessarily music that most metalheads will pay that kind of money for, especially when it has been released only in limited quantities of 1000. (Fuck them, I got it from a torrent in 320kbps.)
Now, what I'm trying to do here is to convince you why you should buy a 23.00 rare album? I'm not so sure. If you really like The Gathering and bands like Porcupine Tree, you might like this disc, but fuck. Don't spend 23.00 on it. I'm sorry, that's too much money for this project. I'm just being straight with you, folks. Some of can't afford gas, and they're wanting us to shell out damn near a full tank of gas for a rare album.
As for the disc, it's very peaceful, very melodic music with a great deal of prog influence. Yes, you'll like it if you like Cynic's current outings. The male vocals are still a little muddy in the mix, but Aruna's vocals come out perfectly. I certainly would recommend this disc if it wasn't some one-off special rarity. It's a great piece of music clocking in at forty-five minutes and to some is a piece of history.
I honestly cannot name one song on here that is better than another, and I almost wish that this project had continued. Aruna has the voice of an angel, and I don't know if she put out anything after this. But if she hasn't, what a fucking waste. The soundclips are fuzzy, but the guitar solos are really great on this one, stuff that you'll certainly fall head over heels in love with. To some, this might be worth 23, or even 100 dollars. The music is also very positive, about astral travel, the universe, being with higher races, all that sort of uplifting material that I find very affirmative. Just be warned that the male vocals aren't so good on this one. But there's probably someone out there who's gonna like them. This is really great material, but it's soft, ethereal lovemaking music. It's about as metal as Polyphonic Spree though.
Upon hearing music like this, I really think it's a shame that it had to be thrown in a vault for so long. I even think it's more of a shame that a label only wants to make a certain amount of them and then overcharge the fuck out of people. Goddamned corporate selling points! Corporations are what's going to kill this world, they do their part everyday to make it worse. I'm a guy in a stockroom, so I'm surrounded by boxed junk all the time. I often think that it's a waste to have so much of it. We had a truck come in with over 30 or 40 lawnmowers, and I'm thinking that that's an awful lot of mowers. Then you've got these "limited edition" lawnmowers and I'm thinking to myself, "What the fuck? What's special about a fucking rare lawnmower?" It's bullshit selling points like these, that aren't right.
Especially when all of the music on this disc is simply beautiful. The band's EP only sells for 9.99, which is fine by me. But this material is even older and because it's rare and somewhat fuzzy, they charge the fuck out of you for it; and all for this special packaging nonsense. Trust me folks, I'll be listening to this one to calm my nerves for along time to come, because it's fantastic music that really soothes the nerves. But you know what? Season of Mist can go suck one, because that's just ultimately unfair. Most people don't even listen to cd's anymore, they listen to Mp3's on their phones. What's this special limited edition thingy gonna do? It's gonna sit in it's packaging and collect dust. Then guess what? It's not gonna be worth anything, because cd's aren't really worth anything these days even when sealed. I'm sure you can also get an LP, but it'll be years before that one has value. It's not like an 80's or 70's or 60's LP. You got some of those, you're counting money. You don't, you ain't got shit.
If you're going to buy it for collector's value, don't. This is great music that should be listened to and enjoyed. Not one of these songs are bad, and it's some of the best female fronted prog I've ever heard. I mean that, by the way. This is Cynic at their best. If this came after Focus, I'd have been happy. I can see how they weren't really keen on doing death metal after Focus, and the pressure made them angry and give it up. But these songs (released under the band name Portal) are just as good as anything else they've done.
What else do you want me to say? If you want to support the band, buy it. But you could also buy anything else from them and save yourself some money. But you can also torrent it, and I doubt that the seeders are leaving anytime soon. I respect the bands on SOM, but this is a bit much for them. Making old rare shit exorbitant is not the moral thing to do. Jesus wouldn't do it, and Buddha wouldn't stand for it either.
But anyway that you can, go ahead and check this music out. It's gonna be worth it.
Highlights: There is nothing on here that is not a highlight. It's very beautiful prog rock with angelic vocals. An absolute must. (10 Tracks, 45:00)
5/5 (A little fuzzy on the male vocals.)
Killing Joke - MMXII (2012) - Killing Joke definitely impressed me with their last disc, and I'm hoping that this one will be just as good. Let's just skip the formalities and go on with it, shall we?
The first song on the disc is "Pole Shift 8:51" which has an odd combination. It sounds like their 80's material a little (yes, I've been doing my homework) and and it combines that with a more punk metal sort of vibe. There are also of course, industrial touches. There's also some growls here, believe it or not.
"Fema Camp 4:59" comes next, also sounding very 80's but definitely still having that metal edge. This album is unique in the fact that it sounds like the band recorded it many years ago. There's a good backbone riff on this one, and the chorus is strong.
"Rapture 4:12" begins with electronics but still features heavy rock elements. Believe it or not, there seems to be a definite formula here, basically soft vocals and then hollered choruses, but the band has a musical skill that makes these things which would sound plain in other bands, sound good in this one. Again, I'm finding myself enjoying the electro-rock stylings of this one. There's also some interesting effects here.
"Colony Collapse 5:01" is next, and it also starts out with electronics as well as an interesting opening riff. Then we've got some definite metal influence. The vocals are the same, but I like them. There's no growl chorus here, but the vocals on this one are again, great and don't need a screaming chorus. The chugga chug from the guitars works just perfect, along with that awesome lead riff.
"Corporate Elect 3:57" starts out punk rock, and has a sort of traveling nature to it. I feel like it's the equivalent of riding on a motorcycle through a wasteland. It also has a heavy chorus. I like how every track on this disc really has it's own identity. This punk rock track really delivers on all fronts.
"In Cythera" comes in right after and it's got a different tone altogether, it's actually quite beautiful. There's an atmospheric quality about it, and some nice yet still punk, melodies. Definitely one of my personal favorites. This is one of those tracks you can play over and over.
"Primobile" has an odd electronic melody to it, with some chimes and what-not. Definitely reminds me of the 80's material. The guitar comes in though, and then the vocals overlay on the top of a wind effect. The chorus features some holler portions, but it's an altogether different song. Definitely not one to be missed though. It's literally a 31 flavors disc, but I like that. It works for these guys.
"Glitch 4:46" starts out somewhat spatial and the it sounds like the growls are in a tornado. It has heavy electronic influence and heavy vocals. It also has a rock and roll groove. This is how you experiment and succeed. Might want to pay attention to the lyrics.
"Trance 6:06" starts out metal with some tribal drumming. Then it all the sudden goes into an indie drum groove. The metal comes back into play at about the middle of the song along with an effect, and then comes the groove again. The drum beat is basic but it works for them. Not my favorite track, but someone out there probably likes it.
The closer, "On All Hallow's Eve 3:20" has a weird electronic effect that mixes in with an atmospheric. The vocals are much clearer here, but then when the atmospheres come in they get muddy, but there's a holler vocal here that makes things a little heavy at times. I like how the band says "Wake up, people!" People have been asleep to what's going on. I'm sure there's some great lyrics on this disc. Pay attention.
Let me tell you what I think about this disc as a whole. You might as well go on and get out your billfold. You're gonna want to get this one. It's as good as Absolute Dissent, if not better. No post-metal this time, but a mix of the 80's and now that works. Shit, this has to be the band's best album since their first, and by that I mean Killing Joke - 1980.
There's something on this disc for everyone, I'm sure of it. There's 10 songs and each one offers a different flavor of the band. If this was to be their last, and it might be to some; it's got to be their best. The quality is a mix between 80's and modern, so some things are muddy on purpose I believe, but you'll definitely enjoy this one if you like the band at all. The band definitely talks about things on this disc that people don't know or realize yet.
Definitely listen to the lyrics, someone is trying to tell you something through the music. <(O)> = & = X
Highlights: All of it, as there's something for everyone. (10 Tracks, 50:00)
666 (Not sure if it's legendary or not, but it is just as good as the debut. This will definitely elicit responses from old and new fans of the band.)
3 Inches Of Blood - Long Live Heavy Metal (2012) - The last album from 3 Inches Of Blood was actually very promising, and I was sure that this would also be just as good, since the band seems to be at their peak period of creativity and musicianship. This album is also no disappointment, and should appeal to both fans and naysayers, alike.
The disc opens with "Metal Woman 4:48" a kickass anthem for all the metal women out there. I loved it, and I think it's got something of a legendary status. It also makes a statement about the women out there who listen to metal. There's not a whole lot of them, but they certainly exist. This disc was the best way to open the album.
Another standout is "Leather Lord 3:57" a death metal influenced track with some fierce vocals from probably some other vocalist who I'm not aware of. If you care, go buy the disc and look in the linear notes. The song is very heavy, much heavier than you'd expect from the band and features the sort of extreme metal that some of us have always wanted these guys to tap into musically.
Then we've got "The Chief and The Blade 2:27" which is the band's first folk acoustic instrumental. This goes right into the epic "Dark Messenger 4:07" and then we've got the just as mighty "Look Out 5:29" with one of the most killer and epic guitar solos I've heard from any band in a very long time. I mean, since the days of Hangar 18, and while it's not this good, it gets right up there. Where the hell did this even come from?
There's a few songs on here that are just good as well. You might really like some of them, but they're really not much different than the others in their discography. I'd say about 3 or 4 star songs, but nothing more. However, the closer of the album, "Men Of Fortune 7:35" (before the instrumental outro) carries on for a full seven and a half minutes. It also features a guest vocalist, of who I'm not sure of. Again, look in the linear notes.
The instrumental closer is called "One For The Ditch 3:31" and it's a very good instrumental piece that contains folk instruments and metal, so yes - it's folk metal. The band has been experimenting with folk on this album, which leads to think the album title should be something like "Long Live Epic Folk Metal" or something like that, because even though these songs have the thunder and riffs of the old songs, they still don't really carry that heavy metal sensibility all the way through. If you title a disc "Long Live Heavy Metal" it had better be a pure heavy metal disc. Not upset about the disc though, just that some of the songs don't quite match the concept.
So is it a good album? Well, yes. I'd say if you're a fan of the band's mix of modern and classic metal stylings, you're gonna love this one. The experiments all work well and there's some absolutely killer tracks on this one. I was going to give it a 4 out of 5, but I might give it a point higher because even though I didn't much care for a few songs, I still thought that they were carried out well, and not every band can deliver gold with every minute. This band tried their hardest and really worked their fucking asses off on this disc, and it shows. The production mixes both a raw and produced sound together in a way that I think might be the band's finest. Though "Here Waits Thy Doom" might by a fantastic album, this one is not bad and a worthy follow up.
Go grab your swords and start battling each other to this stuff already.
Highlights: Metal Woman, Leather Lord, Chief and The Blade, Dark Messenger, Look Out, Men Of Fortune, One For The Ditch (12 Tracks, 52:00)
4/5 (Alright, so I lied. While I think they're all good tracks, some of them clearly aren't as good as others and it's got to be a bit more killer than that for me. But these guys definitely aren't to be missed this year. 4/5 is a great disc, remember that.)
Aura Noir - Out To Die (2012) - If you find that Venom doesn't sound anything like they used to, and you're tired of those old recordings, why don't you give Aura Noir a try. They play black/thrash just the way their influences did, but with some slight advances in the music that weren't necessarily there back in the old days of bands like Venom, Bathory and Sabbat.
Within this 32:00 of blasphemy and blackened thrash, you'll find some definite Venom influence, if not Venom plagiarism. But that can't be a bad thing, right? Hell, even the quality of this disc sounds the way an old Venom disc would have. Old heads might listen to this disc and be ready to call Venom's agents, but it's a great way to get an old style of black thrash out there to the youth who didn't grow up with Venom. You surely remember the old days of growing up to Venom, but I don't, because I was too young.
So I do believe we need bands like these gentlemen who emulate the same vibe that Venom had in their early years, for the youth to rediscover that greatness once again. These guys come on hard and strong with songs like the epic "The Grin From The Gallows 4:44", The slightly technical "Trenches 3:57", the thrash happy "Fed To The Flames 3:32" and "Withheld 3:02."
Yes, the venom influence continues in tracks like "Priest's Hellish Fiend 4:20" and "Deathwish 4:31." But just when you think all the Venom worship is over, the closer "Out To Die 4:29" hits you hard with bludgeoning drums and grim riffs. Not to mention the vocal territory, which doesn't help their Venom plagiarism case any.
Still, I recommend this disc to anyone who likes the thrashy black metal stylings of Venom, because that's all I've heard since I started listening to this album. Yes, I fucking love it. But it's definitely a trip back into the past. If you think of this album as an old Venom disc that never got released, you'll probably love it a whole lot more.
Highlights: Fed To The Flames, The Grin From The Gallows, Priest's Hellish Fiend, Deathwish, Out To Die (8 Tracks, 32:00)
Mencea - Pyrophoric (2012) - Mencea blew me away with their 2008 album, "Dark Matter Energy" and this is it's follow up. So I'm sure that the wait was so long because the album needed special care and attention, right? I mean, the last album was so great that the band wanted to be sure that this one was even better, so they took their time, correct?
First of all, this disc is a little more than a half an hour. Yep, that's it. But it's not a piece of shit either. This is still Mencea coming in strong with their astral progressive death metal. The growls are still as gravelly as before, and there's some definite heaviness here.
The band kills on "Phosphorus 5:21" and I love the backbone riff of this song, it sounds absolutely ethereal. There's plenty of death metal here to keep your head banging, and enough structure to keep you from being bored. "CCC 4:57" comes next, with it's odd synths and unparalleled technicality. It's certainly just as good as the last song and you'll keep your ears glued for the entire piece. The vocals also seem to follow everything just perfectly, and the vocalist's style is certainly something to take note of. This guy kills on the mic.
"Elders 4:36" comes in crushing, mixing technicality and brutality in just the perfect sort of fashion. There's no solos on this disc, but the melodies really seem to do a great job of replacing them. "Hounds 5:48" seems a little crunchier, but has some really interesting riffs at times, despite the djent that we've heard a million times. they've overused it this time.
"Beheading 5:16" is also great, but the only problem with this disc is that the band isn't branching out as much as they could. All is heavy, all is fine; but that seems to be it. I still feel that even though the vocals on this album are superior to the Outcast album, I'd get a better musical journey from that Outcast album I reviewed last week. But as for the crushing and brutal nature of this album, the thing gets a fucking A+. I mean it, this is the kind of technical shit that you can really bang your head to. it's like mixing the brutal death metal vocal approach with technicality and some people will eat this shit up.
The title track "Pyrophoric 4:38" is next, and it's got some interesting time signatures. I really think this song shows the nature of this band. It's definitely one of the best tracks on this disc and was worth naming the album for. There's a lot to like here and if you like technical death metal, this is the very definition. "Invocation 1:25" is next, and believe it or not, it actually fits vocals and the whole nine yards. Even though the guy is just growling "rise!" over and over, it's still decent enough. But honestly, this could have been a part of one of the songs and not a song in itself.
"The Dead 4:13" closes out this album on a technical note. But at this point, even though the band is good and worth checking out, they offer little surprises. Many people won't care though and perhaps I'm really just bickering for no reason. I do think this album is well worth picking up for the fan of brutal and technical death metal. These gentlemen did do a good job and the songs have much to offer the metal listener. I think I'd be doing you all a great disservice to say that I didn't think this album was good, because it is. You might even think it's one of the best of the year. That's fine with me, after all I'm trying to promote these bands as well as review them.
I would definitely recommend this album to fans of djent, technical death metal and brutal death metal. These guys seem to kill on all three of these genres. While I liked the latest Outcast album more, this disc is still worth checking out.
Highlights: Everything but Invocation. (8 Tracks, 36:00)
5/5 (Everything's good enough on here to enjoy many times over. Just skip Invocation if you don't want to listen to it. Though I've heard better, there's nothing wrong here. Definitely worth a grab.)
Ignivomous - Contragenesis (2012) - These guys do old school death metal right. I don't know what it is really, but these guys just have it. The opening intro, "Damnatio Memoriae 1:19" isn't so great, but you can just fucking skip it. The real meat of this disc lies in the other eight tracks, which are all around five and a half to six minutes, with the exception of two tracks.
The band has a killer drummer, just like Nocturnal Torment. The vocalist is also as gravelly as you would expect for old school death metal. The songs have plenty of structure and brutality all of the way through, and the solos are erratic and speedy as anything from death metal usually is. Every song on the disc excels, and there's not one bad track to be found. Whether it be "Heritage Of The Jackal 5:53" or "Seventh Seal Gnosis 5:49", or the slightly doomier closer, "A Final Cadence To Bloodshed 9:40" this band proves that they've got the spirit of old death metal inside of them, and that spirit flows well through this music. Many of you older heads might really find some greatness here, or at least a reminder of the old days.
There's no happy puppy ballads or technicality here. This is 100% pure death metal that might give a few bands a run for their money. Fans of Vore should really enjoy this, and I'm quite sure that many of you are on this board right now. Hell, members of Vore should enjoy this. I'm telling you guys, this is some of the best old school death metal I've heard in years. It's nothing new or amazing, but it's got some great structure and monumental drumming. There's nothing wrong with this disc, except that your ears aren't currently jamming it. Yes, you might feel that some of these songs, if not all of them; sound the same. But so what? These songs are absolutely killer and they pull no punches. If all you want is brutality, you're bound to fucking get it here.
This is the way that death metal used to sound, and these guys bring back to it's grandeur in a fruition that only they could do. These guys need to fucking play with Nocturnal Torment, and they need to come to Arkansas. I will definitely pay to go to that show.
If you like death metal and don't like this, I have no idea what you expect, because this is how death metal sounds. Perhaps you haven't been listening to death metal after all... But all jokes aside, I'm really impressed with this one. It's a skull bashing good time that really puts to shame many of these deathcore bands. You just can't one up this shit, folks.
Definitely recommended to all metal fans. This is death metal at it's prime. I heard that these guys were gonna be good, but the proof is in the pudding. If you feel my review might have sounded more like I was trying to sell it, I apologize. It's just really that fucking good. There's a great deal of death metal bands that bore me. These guys don't. That's the difference.
Highlights: Skip the intro, everything else will bash your fucking face in. (9 Tracks, 48:00)
666 (You'll wear this one out fast.)
Primer 55 - The Big Fuck You (2012) - Nu-Metal isn't everyone's cup of tea, and most metalheads nowadays hate the stuff, but it still manages to thunder on. Well, rap meets metal project Primer 55 created a hell of a release in my youth with "The New Release" which I still own and find that I still really like. There was something different about the way that they approached metal and their music had a sort of originality that I couldn't compare to anyone else, really. The first album was mostly rap/metal and I never heard it, but the second one added more metal elements to the mix, as well as contemporary.
This disc however is something of a b-side collection, as the band's been through hell for years and I didn't even know they were still making music. The vocalist on The New Release apparently had a sort of drug problem and they've got a new guy now, but the old vocalist is only on this disc. The album is 16 tracks long and clocks in at a little over an hour. I'm not going track by track on this one, as most of it has the same formula.
"Loose 3:02" started the album out, being one of the band's last singles. Tracks 2-6 are in the same rap vocals but heavy metal with scream portions formula, but it's quite catchy. The quality isn't as perfect as it was on The New Release, though. "The Big Fuck You 4:17" is decent enough, and it has that snippet of a definition of the word Fuck, from Sandler's old album. A little childish nowadays though.
"Drive It 3:50" and "G's" are in the same fashion as the first couple of tracks, but "Release 4:27" and "Slip Away 5:49" are much less rap influenced and may be more toward the metal listener. They might be closer to hardcore, but they're definitely heavier, especially "Slip Away" which I thought was a good track.
Another thing I like about this band, is that they don't mind screaming their vocals in the way that Limp Bizkit did when they first came out with Three Dollar Bill Ya'll, before they got popular. I still think that album is something of a noteworthy moment in metal, regardless of how some might regard it.
The quality on this entire album is pretty raw, as these were probably mastered demos. But the songs are heavier than most hard rock is these days. They definitely have a metal aspect, but aren't anywhere close to death metal. The last track on the disc before the acoustics come in is a 0:16 second piece called "Profanity (And Alot Of It.)" It's just a bunch of cursing and is quite juvenile.
However, the last three tracks on this album are all acoustics from The New Release. Though I prefer the heavier versions of each of these, "This Life 2:50" and "My Girl 6:08" are still done just as well, proving that the band was at their peak back then, and are now just releasing anything these days. But from a band life these guys, who actually had the sporadity to do full on metal tracks, depressing ballads, and hard rock all on the same record, this one isn't making me feel that they have any staying power in 2012, years after the disc I bought from them released.
It was a good effort with some interesting songs at times, and I hate to say it; but I'd rather have listened to The New Release again. A good history lesson that's almost solid, nothing more.
Highlights: Meh. Some tracks are better than others, but there's nothing really amazing here. Perhaps "Slip Away." (16 tracks 63:00)
Nocturnal Torment - They Come At Night (PR2012) - Having no idea what to expect from this release, I just randomly started playing it while doing some exercise and weightlifting. I've always found that hard driving music like death metal is best for that, and this album worked well enough.
To tell you the truth, I'm pretty much fucking floored by this release. It's about a thousand times better than Cannibal Corpse's new one, or any other death metal album that I've reviewed this year which could be considered "just death metal" as opposed to prog-death, tech-death and other subgenres. Yes, this is old school "eat your brains" style death metal, but with an evolutionary leap that I couldn't wrap my head around at first.
The drummer on this album is a fucking beast. There's no other way to say it. I was overwhelmed by just how good this guy was on the kit. He's an extremely skilled, technical style drummer who really added flavor to what could've been death metal with ordinary blasts and what-not. Sure, this guy lets on the brutality, but he's damned artsy about it. Just to hear this guy play is worth the price of this disc by itself. The guy's a fucking aficionado on the kit.
The guitarists aren't too bad themselves. Songs like "Bleeding 6:41" and "Forever Eternal Darkness 6:06" offer some grim melodies, and sometimes even unconventional riffing that would be out of place in ordinary death metal. But what I really like about this album, are the solos. No, they're not quite what you'd expect either. Some bands these days seem to think that a solo is one-sided, and it doesn't really matter how much you put into it. But this band actually tries to do a different sort of solo every song, not to mention that they are somewhat erratic, almost improvisational; which really gives this whole disc of already amazing technical drumming, even more of a uniqueness. This ain't your daddy's death metal, folks.
The vocals sound very much like Karl Sanders, except more grim than his "crocodile growl." The vocalist uses the same sort of style, but not necessarily the same sort of tone. This is however, hit and miss. But the musicality of this album is so great that the vocals don't even really matter. Just hearing that guy fucking drum his ass off, is what matters here.
Also, these are three or four minute tracks that you'll forget easily. Not to mention that the band utilizes so much good structure that the songs seem even larger and more bombastic than you would find on other death metal albums. Yes, most of the songs here are a little over five minutes, or a little over six. Which means that the band actually has enough music to fill those extra minutes and didn't just throw something together.
The quality isn't perfect, nor pristine - but it's good. I could discern everything, it was heavy as hell and I fucking loved it. If you're sick of death metal that doesn't really innovate, these guys might be able to give you something to cheer about. Again, I really enjoyed this one and feel quite privileged to be able to review it for you all. Definitely check it out, you'd be a fucking idiot to let this awesome talent go unheard.
Go grab it from Deathgasm records when it arrives soon!
Highlights: The entire disc (9 Tracks, 46:00)
Desultor - Master Of Hate (PR2012) - Desultor is an insane two man progressive thrash project that sounds a lot like Nevermore in their heaviest era. The intro might not mean much, but "Black Monday 3:18" and "Another World 3:42" hit you heavier than Warrel Dane and Jeff Loomis have hit us in years. Damn, being a major fan of Nevermore, I could probably play some of these songs over and over and would have never thought this band to be even as half as good as they are on this disc. You'd be a fucking idiot to pass on it, if you like Nevermore.
The drumming is far more erratic and features a lot of over the top brutality. It's very much more based in death and black metal, but features some definite structure, almost matching the thunder of Gene Hoglan. The vocals soar as high as Dane's, and he also lets lose a scowl or two. The vocalist could be accused of Dane worship, but at least he does it justice. There are actually some phenomenal vocal performances on this thing, as well as great proggy guitar riffs and killer solos. This is Nevermore's heavier evolution, IMHO. We all knew that it was coming.
One thing you might not suspect about these guys, though - is that they can create some heavily structured songs that are only three or four minutes a piece. These tracks have the amazing ability to sound more complex than they are, and sound much longer then they actually are, tricking your mind. Honestly, I don't think these guys have a bad solo, either. I'm halfway into the album and just completely floored. This is only two guys, folks. I don't even know who they are, but I got plenty of band photos with this promo. Would've been nice if they could have organized it better, the tracks weren't even numbered, but luckily they were in Windows Media.
This disc has two parts, two "Chapters" they call it; and then a final end. But don't worry, because the second half is just like the first. However, you should keep in mind that while these guys are a much heavier and extreme version of Nevermore, they are not going to be a replacement for some people, though others will gladly accept them. They're also foreign, so there's a bit of an accent on the vocals. Some people might not like this.
I also need to throw in the fact that while these guys are very heavy and proggy and all that good stuff, there are certainly people who may think this to be a bit bland, especially when compared to Nevermore. It's fantastic extreme progressive thrash metal, but it's not going to be for everyone, and that's to be expected. But I'm quite sure they'll have fans in no time. This is great metal music and I highly recommend these 11 tracks, although short; to almost every metal fan.
Go out there and support Desultor by grabbing yourself a copy of their album when it's available. They worked their asses off on it, and would appreciate it. You won't regret it if you've been looking for a heavier Nevermore. And hey, it's still better than 80% of Nevermore's Obsidian Conspiracy.
Highlights: Black Monday, Another World, Denied, Division Insane, And So We Bleed, The Luxury Of Pain, Caged (11 Tracks, 34:00)