Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Week 34 (Backtracking)

Kittie - I’ve Failed You (2011) - Alright, trust me on this one folks. This album is badass. It is a full-fledged death metal (fucking finally) with some killer riffs and throat searing vocals. No happy puppy bullshit here. The solos are very good and there’s even some technicality. Whatever the fuck happened to Kittie is a very good thing, and hearing just samples of this new style on “In The Black” made me believe that I could put metal faith into these gals which have traversed several genres, even pop-punk at one point.

Hell, I’m just glad to hear some unbridled rage on this disc. Kittie hasn’t sounded this fucking heavy since “Spit” and this is by far heavier than “Spit.” Even though there are female vocal portions on this, it’s still pretty fucking heavy. Trust me, one listen of this, and you’re going to have to check the name again to be sure it’s the same band.

Yeah, there are some issues though, as even though the riffs attempt some good things, they seem to be overused in parts. But I really like this one, and am wholly surprised. This is only 40 minutes, but it is definitely worth checking out. There’s also an epic called “Empires.”(5:00 both parts) Sometimes Morgan might sound like Amy Lee or Christina Scabbia or some other female fronted band singer, but then she sounds like one of these famous singers would have if they had gotten raped with a fucking tire iron. A fucking death metal tire iron, to be precise.

Some core elements, but shit - this is a ridiculous turn to heaviness for Kittie. I guess I’m going to set my eyes on this band now. Trust me, this a killer album, with some fucking great solo work on it. The days of their nu-metal are far behind. (36:27)


Anathema - Falling Deeper (2011) - Truly not metal at all, and barely even rock - Anathema have once again graced us with another album in the vein of their last. While it says that this is a compilation of some sort, everything seems to flow together as if it was one cohesive album. As I haven’t heard anything from the band between 98 and 2010, I am not sure whether or not these are old tracks or not. If you know, let me know.

Regardless, the beautiful atmospheres created by the synths and instruments coupled with Danny and Anneke’s voice seems to radiate the sheer span of both gloom and beauty. Some songs like “Kingdom” are just simply magical, and beyond words to describe. While “Everwake” features Anneke in top form, radiating beautiful words from her lips like only she could. While not as beautiful as the unplugged concert with Anneke and Danny called “In Parallel” (In which Anneke sings on the theme from House, which is “Teardrop”) it’s still quite a good album, even if it’s much more atmosphere than vocals.

Metal actually comes into play on the very last song of the disc, “Sunset Of Age” with Danny taking a much lower vocal that seems to hold back on being harsh but is close, and features a quite heavy moment which ends out the disc, complete with a fantastic solo. Violins and orchestrations go crazy throughout, and seem to give both this song, and this disc that extra added boost of amazing that only this band could couple together just right.

I have absolutely nothing to say as a complaint on this disc, and definitely recommend it to someone who just wants to “chill out for a while.” Forget all your troubles and put this one on, but oh yeah - there’s a song called “They Die” which is a rather short and dreary instrumental piece that might remind you of your troubles again. Thankfully, “Everwake” should pick you back up.

Well worth it, but only if you’re into this type of music. (38:00)


Chimaira - The Age Of Hell (2011) - I hated Chimaira’s last album, which I’ve nicknamed “The Breakdown” because that’s all I fucking heard on the disc. The band even admitted that they were being very lazy during the recording of that shitty album, and I wasn’t sure what to expect here. The band did say that they had a bunch of songs already recorded for this album, but had scrapped them all as soon as they got into the studio. This came out of that studio time, and I’m so fucking glad it did.

Thankfully, there were only a few breakdowns on the disc, and the ones that I did hear were actually not too bad. The first song actually sounds like death/thrash and it’s the title track, which is a great way to open the disc. Clean vocals come into the mix in places, and even some atmospherics which are certainly different for the band, as I don’t remember them ever stopping a song to add atmospherics in the middle, like on “Clockwork.” There’s also some electronic effects here and there, and a short 1:28 instrumental electronic piece called “Stoma.”

The drums are certainly being put to use on the disc, noticing that the drummer is being a little more delicate with his hits in some places, really trying to pull some technical shit with the cymbals at times. “Losing My Mind” for example, might be a radio hit for metal fans, but it’s actually a pretty good song. I even hear a violin being played at the end of this one, which I found quite intriguing.

The two most powerful tracks on this disc are “Powerless” and the closer “Samsara” which is an instrumental 6:12 shredder from beginning to end. “Powerless” seems to mix all of the elements that this band used throughout the album (electronics, technical cymbal hitting in places, interesting guitar riffs and symphonic soundscapes (in this case, Egyptian) and mixes it altogether with great musicality and interesting lyrics.

Chimaira have made hits and misses throughout their career, and while this one is better than some, it’s not the best Chimaira album I’ve ever heard. But I’m sure fans will be pleased, nonetheless. There’s even some guests on the disc who I can’t recognize. So there’s that. (49:00)


Devin Townsend - Unplugged (2011) - Definitely not metal at all, and not near as heavy as their counterparts, Devin Townsend’s unplugged versions of “Coast, Terminal, Funeral, Fall, Saloon, Lady Helen, Radial Highway, Kawaii, and Ih-Ah” certainly sound intriguing enough in this new light. “Funeral” is probably the best of the bunch, being one of his classics, and it translates rather well unplugged, even though I prefer the original. “Saloon” is another good one, a well done instrumental that sounds crisp, clear, and unique.

These nine tracks would probably benefit you more if you were tired, and in need of relaxation music, or while cleaning the house, or just getting high perhaps. But other than that, this disc really isn’t one of his best offerings. Personally, I’d like to hear a disc of live material quite like the fake bootleg that he released much earlier. The man still puts on a great live show, and with possibly two of his greatest albums (Deconstruction and Ghost, respectively) under his belt, it would be impressive to hear some of these complex pieces performed live.

But there are plenty more albums to release from the man, including “Z2” (which actually looks like Z squared, but so help me I don’t know how to type a “squared” symbol on my keyboard) and “Epicloud” which is more than likely that live album, I’ve been bitching about in this review. Also there’s something about a “Ghost 2” coming out in September, but I’m not sure if that’s rumor or just doesn’t have a date quite yet. I’ll keep you posted.

At this point I’m pretty sure that Devin Townsend wants to record as much music as he can before he dies. I’ve never seen someone release so many fucking albums at one time. This will make three albums this year, and if “Ghost 2” comes out, then it will be four. Regardless, if you’ve ever wanted to hear him stripped and melancholy, that’s what you’re getting here. Not heavy, but good music to chill out to. (52:00)


Ghost Brigade - Until Fear No Longer Defies Us (2011) - As this is their third album, I’m first going to tell you that if you don’t know who these Finns are, please go get their “Isolation Songs” (2009) album and then listen to this one, so you’ll hear the progression for yourself.

Unlike “Isolation Songs” which had a more black/death/doom sound, this album features much more of the kind of material that got the band more recognized, particularly a one-off that could be played on the radio, called “Into The Black Light” which was such an amazing ballad and unlike the rest of the much heavier album. Apparently, the band has taken this into consideration, as this album has much more of those ballads, and it also features more clean vocals and less heaviness.

This is one hell of a sacrifice to make, as the strategy seems to have only worked on a few songs at the most. One thing that this band absolutely loves to do, is to stretch out some of these ballads into very long repetitions at the end, with a lot of melody and choral repeating, kind of like a pop song. There’s no doubt that the band has melody, sometimes the melodies are tear-jerkingly beautiful, but I was expecting a little bit more of the heavier material in addition to this.

It’s not all that bad though, I’d still have to give it a B grade because it is certainly an album worth hearing, as the melodic progressive doom/death works very well in some places, but just seems like it could’ve done more. Even epics like “Breakwater” (8:50) seem just repetitive after awhile, and it begins to seem that the originality and uniqueness that the band showed in their last album, is slowly beginning to peel off on this one.

“Clawmaster” , “Chamber” , “Traces Of Liberty” , “Divine Act Of Lunacy” , and “Cult Of Decay” are all great songs, but the closer “Soulcarvers” just seems to be kind of so-so. Perhaps I need to go back and listen to this one again to fully absorb it, and “Chamber” does seem to elicit that same feeling of “Into The Black Light” but I’d rather just go back and hear that song again, myself. “Clawmaster” really seems to be the best of the best here, since the band used it to promote the album and it seems to be them at what they do best. So go hear that track first, it’s free to stream on the band‘s page and got me excited about the disc.

While you might really enjoy this one, I strongly recommend once again, that you go back and hear the 2009 album, “Isolation Songs” as well. Even though the band sounds stronger here, they just sound like they’ve lost focus and gone right into what seems to sell. Still, a worthy album. Go check it out. (58:00)


JBO - Killeralbum (2011) - I’ve got an old Wacken DVD with these crazy German guys performing an unnecessarily heavy version of an old R&B song from the now deceased Ayliah. (I think that’s how to spell her name) The song is called “Try Again.” So when I saw that they were actually going to have an album I could hear (even downloading the shit will do, since it is so hard to find anything from these guys, trust me - I tried!) in 2011, I had to get this, regardless of the fact that the thing was pretty much policed on the web like Fort Knox.

I guess these guys really are adamant about keeping this thing out of the hands of people who didn’t pay for it, but hell? Why should I pay for an album from a band that I’ve only heard one song from nearly eight years ago? Regardless, the band is also releasing a compilation into the states in October called, “Happy Metal Thunder” and I will have it to review upon release. (I hope it has that Ayliah song on there, cause that would be rather funny.)

This album though, features more tunes akin to the glory days of hair metal. Some however are thrashy, like “Killer” and others are a little more modern sounding, like “Ich Bin Dein” and others are just simply weird, like “Heimatlied.” As you can guess, a good understand of the German language is pretty crucial to understanding the lyrical content of this album. J.B.O however is a comedic, parody metal band, that cracks plenty of jokes and has rather funny lyrics. I would probably like them more if I could understand them. There is even a song called “Download”which is probably one of my favorites, and I’m going to get the lyrics to it (because I’m sure they’re translated somewhere) because it’s all about downloading music from filesharing websites, like I’ve done for several years now. They even mention “Rapidshare” “Zip” and Rar” in the song, which has me even more interested in the lyrics. I’m sure it’s pretty damned funny. Might also be why this thing was policed like Fort Knox. For an obscure German comedy band, they were sure hard to find.

The bottom line of this album is, that it’s kind of a novelty and so is the band. Don’t expect to take any of this seriously, even though the playing is pretty good for heavy metal standards. Though some of it just gets sort of bad or more basic on purpose. Most of the songs are just a little over three minutes, and there are clips on the disc that are just a few seconds at the most, as they are nothing more than comedy moments.

Even if you’re a fan of the band, it’s just another drop in the bucket, really. Save your money, and don’t import this one. It’s not worth it, unless you really like German comedy… and I mean, really, really like German comedy. But I’m one for British comedy personally, so I’m not going to just run out and buy it. Wasn’t even really worth the download...or even the hunt. (49:00)


Lykathea Aflame - Elvenefris (2003 Personal Addition) - Be ready to see some older albums, because I’ve almost run out of new ones. Don’t worry, I’ll get new stock in, but I’ll also have plenty of older albums (that you may have heard of, or may never have heard of) to review. But I’m going to start with this one. If you haven’t heard these guys before, then do me a favor. I want you to twist one of you legs as far backwards as you possibly can, and then kick yourself in the ass a few times.

This one-off band probably made one of the single best technical death metal albums of all fucking time. It’s epic, it’s melodic, it’s technical, sometimes even electronic, the vocals are good, and the playing is absolutely, beyond the shadow of all doubt - insane. I remember hearing this a few years and back and being blown away by it. The band who created this disc however, flew the coop and formed some other band that wasn’t nearly as good. I don’t even think that they’re together anymore. So this is Lykathea Aflame’s only recording.

While the disc is a bit raw, it’s 72 minutes of technical death metal that I shouldn’t even have to explain to you. Take this one, it’s a given. If you haven’t heard this disc, by all means find a way to listen to it. It’s probably damn near impossible to buy because it’s so rare and old, so you’re better off downloading it. (PM me for a link.) As much as you might want to give the band your money, I don’t think they’re going to be able to get any from this one anymore.

The band worked their asses off to create a sound that was only recently brought into the forefront by bands like Obscura and Gojira. But this is something that you’ve never heard before and sadly, won’t be hearing again. As legendary as this disc is to me, I’m going to give it the sort of score that it deserves, and upon your ears coming to front with this musical masterpiece, you might too understand why this is going to get… (72:00)

777 (Yeah, this shit is damn near holy, for those of you who know what that Enochian number represents.)

Nightbringer - Hierophany Of The Open Grave (2011) - Nightbringer is a band that’s obviously trying to bring out the much darker and satanic elements of black metal. This has been done for about 20 or so years now, ever since Sabbath decided to write demonic lyrics, but has come to fruition in this band and many others.

The band certainly evokes the element of fear into their music, which sounds as demonic and evil as you would expect it. This is due to their slower playing and more doom-laden riffing. Thankfully, the drums aren’t stuck on double bass, and the riffs are also very infrequent, making this something of a different beast altogether. It sounds like a more modern representation of what black metal should be in this day and age. While still a little bit raw, there is some production value on this disc that makes it certainly worthwhile. But, I will say that their style can come out just a little bit monotonous, though there’s nothing you can do about that, unless you want a black metal Baskin Robbins, and I really don’t. Nachtmystium already did that one justice, I think with “Addicts.”

This band is in the vein of only my favorite black metal bands, sounding as completely evil and black as they possibly can, while possessing the skills to make the music sound like much more than just a bunch of angry guys in a room. The sound comes out rather well here, and I think I’d like to have a beer with these guys sometime. They’re certainly making some evil sounding shit, and that’s something I can drink to. These days, every black metal band is trying to sound more evil than the other, but few can pull it off and pull it off in a way that shows some real musicality. I may also mention that the vocalist really gets into it, as most black metal vocalists do.

I definitely recommend this album to the blackest of black metal heads, because you might really find yourself enjoying it. I got this one at a whim, but it was well worth it. You can sing about the devil all you want, just make it sound good. These guys did. It’s exactly what you want from black metal… dark, gloomy, demonic, and evil. This is the stuff that priests will listen to once and insist that the devil himself is trying to get through to the unsuspecting youth of our nation with this music. Who knows? He might just be. (60:00)


Revocation - Chaos Of Forms (2011) - After hearing this album, could I just ask one thing? Where does a guy apply to be the lead singer of the band? I quite think that I can black metal scream this guy out of his wife beater t-shirt, and on songs like “Conjuring The Cataclsym” where there appears to be a hint of black metal thrown in between all of the thrash and technicality (these guys don’t even need a singer really, and especially a guy like him that sounds like he’s gargling garbage in his mouth - I’m sorry, I just really hate that guy’s vocals and I think the band would do so much better if Mr. Hardcore could find another band.

The album though, is pretty damn good in the musicality realm. Of course, what did you expect? The band certainly has the thrash and technicality down, and it’s being taken to even more levels, but having to hear this hardcore guy grunt through the album makes it almost a chore, rather than a pleasure. If I could, I’d remove his vocal track from the album with audition and fill it with my own fucking vocals.

If you like thrash and technicality, you’re going to love the lengths at which the band went to make this album sounds really good, and there even appears to be some more vocal work than just that awful hardcore guy. Someone else in the band is also attempting screaming ala black metal style, but it’s just not that great. Who the fuck do they think they are, Skeletonwitch? Arsis, maybe?

The melodies on the album are really good for the most part, as the album is really driven by them. The solos (which some reviewer for Revolver said “sounded too much like Master Of Puppets” what is that guy smoking?) are extremely good on this disc, providing a lot of structure and melody. (which as I’ve said is a big part of this band)

For you tech heads though, songs like “Fractal Entity” (which make me think the band needs to kick out their vocals completely) prove that this band has enough staying power to last, but only if they get rid of the stale hardcore influence that reminds me of oh, so many fucking bands these days. The disc as a whole is really hits and misses, or if you like; “boring riffs with temporary fits of amazement.” The bets song on the disc though, is hands down, “The Watchers” since it has all the prog, tech, and even some proggy keyboards in the all the right places.

Only for the fans really. I would’ve enjoyed this more if it was ONLY music. (46:00)

3.5/5 (That’s being lenient. One can’t fault the amazing musicianship, but the shitty hardcore parts makes me think of a great painting that somebody walked by and pissed on. It’s like putting a dick on a beautiful woman. (Unless you like that sort of thing, which some people do. Then again, there’s not too many things out there that people don’t like these days.)

Odyssey - Reinventing The Past (2010) - This odd album (which has something to do with Dan Swano, so I got it) is actually not the best piece of music I’ve ever heard. Whether or not Swano’s on the guitar, the vocals, or in the studio for this thing, this re-invention of the past proves that you should just leave the classics the way they are.

“Eyes Of The World” which opens the disc with a Rainbow cover, just doesn’t succeed very well. Dio should be the only man with his vocals on this song, and I just don’t think the singer did this one any justice. The playing on it was quite so/so, but I imagine it sounded better when Rainbow did it. “In The Heat Of The Night” which is a Sandra cover, it was quite forgettable. I don’t even remember that one.

However, their Depeche Mode cover for “Shake The Disease” was actually quite good. I’ve liked this song the most out of any of the songs featured on the album and have to say that it is a great heavy representation of the classic DM song… and I know my Depeche Mode. “At The Gallows End” which is a Candlemass cover, is done well enough, but just doesn’t sound all that interesting. It begins to grow just a little boring.

Uriah Heep’s “Gypsy” is another song that is however worthwhile enough, and the band really seems to do them justice here. Another good one is the “Lost Horizons” cover from The Michael Schenker group. It’s definitely good enough, but not amazing. The last cover on the disc is UFO’s “Cherry” which is just a mediocre song at best.

The singer on this disc is familiar, it may be Dan himself, and I’ve heard this singer on an Ayreon record or two, (but who haven’t you heard on an Ayreon record?) but he’s just not that great a singer and I would’ve preferred someone else. It’s just symphonic prog metal covers throughout most of the span of the disc, and then everything goes to shit with the originals.

“I Am Two” is a mediocre song, which really doesn’t have much of a point. It’s 5:52 seconds of something I just didn’t care for. “I Carry A Secret” carries it’s awful hard rock vibes throughout it’s too fucking long length, with awful playing and enough catchy pop crap that I’d expect on the radio. Probably the only thing that has potential in these originals is “Amon-Ra” which actually has some really good portions in it’s 7:16 song length. It gets better as you keep listening to it.

But still, this whole fucking thing is nothing more than mediocre. A “C” from me. (51:00)


Repuked - Pervertopia (2011) - Alright, I’m going to tell you the truth here. I hated this. I could not get into it, and began to despise it more and more as the disc went on. Yes, it is good Swedish death metal, and the playing is really good, especially in the soloing department, and on the closer “Toxic Constipation” (8:20) but the fact that these guys sound like they’re puking on the album just doesn’t sit right with me. It just seems comical, and maybe that’s what it is, a comical sort of puke death metal.

I don’t really get it, and as a whole the album is ruined by the vocals. Even though the guitarist shreds his ass off, the quality is too raw and the performance is just shit. The only track I even found of merit was the one that didn’t have any vocals in it, the album’s closer track.

If you like this sort of death metal, they do it well enough - but I’d prefer my death metal without all the vomiting, thanks. (45:00)


Rev 16: 8 - Ashlands (2011) - For some odd reason, I never quite could get into Rev 16:8. Sure, they’re a good enough black metal band that mixes a classic black metal sound with some modern and more experimental approaches at times, but I still come out of the experience feeling like I’ve just heard another black metal band.

This album is much slower, except for some faster songs, and it has a very dark and evil sensibility the whole way through. If I can say anything about this album, it’s that it sounds rather evil, and that should be a good thing for black metal fans.

There’s definitely promise in the album, and you might even enjoy it - but I still think that this band tries just too damn hard and winds up being forgettable in comparison to other bands in it’s vein. There’s much more experimenting in parts of the album, and oddities like “A Study Of Patterns And Habits (2:17)” actually seem to add some deviance to the disc. But in the end, there’s not much else to say about this one. Chances are, you’ve already heard this disc before, and it was much better. (41:00)


Ritual Of Rebirth - Of Tides and Desert (2011) - Well, what started out as a clone of the classic In Flames style of melodeath turned into a halfway decent metal act. The first couple songs on the disc have their good parts, but for the most part just aren’t really all that spectacular. They are pretty much standard metal fare and will probably strike a chord with fans of classic In Flames, sans the amazing riffing of that era. The guitarist does however like to show his soloing skills throughout the disc, rubbing out guitar jizz throughout the entire 38 minutes of listening time. The guy’s good, but not great.

The songs range in tempo, but don’t do so well with originality. This band sounds for the most part, like they’ve already come out years ago and have passed their expiration date. Some people love classic melodeath apparently, but I found this to be rather bland with the exception of “Zebra Stripes” and “The Blind Watchmaker” which is an 8:40 epic closer with some definite potential and a break to the song structures that have already been over abused by this band.

While I don’t necessarily recommend it, it’s not terrible either. At least they’re trying to do something that’s not death core. Also, the production on the disc might be just a little rawer than you’re used to. It’s still worth checking out, if you’re interested though.(38:00)


Rootless - Dominate The Chaos (2011) - These idiots seem to like Heaven Shall Burn and hardcore too much. Now, being a big fan of HSB all of the way back to Antigone (2004), I could hear the influence. But it didn’t help that I was hearing back lyrics throughout. The disc opens with “PsychoShit” something I didn’t expect to care much for, and it followed by several other songs that I was just waiting on to end.

Songs like “Pussy Whipped” and “G.F.Y.” (Do I even need to spell it out?) prove that this band is more or less for meathead guys I guess and has that mentality. You’re not being my friend cause you’re with a girl, you’re pussy whipped - my band plays music from the heart, real music that’s original - oh yeah, and go fuck yourself. Songs like this seem more like confessions I’d expect to hear if I was his psychiatrist.

Listen buddy, I don’t care about how shitty your life is, and all of your fucking problems. Your band isn’t original, they’re cookie cutter death core. Go fuck me? Well, go fuck yourself too. By the way, you should quit worrying about other people’s relationships and worry about your own. I even think there’s something about how much he hates a girl on here, yeah - it’s on here.

Take “My Advice” and skip this shit. Unless you want to hear about a man and his fucking problems. Grow the fuck up, there’s more going on in the world then your fucking little bullshit life, sir. I only liked the intro to this album. I just think the disc was about 45 minutes too long, personally. I must‘ve downloaded this by accident. (47:00)


Shadow Man - Darkness Falls (2011) - Now this one was really surprising. I’m not sure if this is a full band or just one man and a couple of programs, but whatever it is, I like it. I’m almost apt to believe that a full band recorded this, and did a fucking great job of it. I’ll say that it’s a very killer version of classic doom metal, with some death tinges and King Diamond influence. It’s really quite good.

The disc is long, 75 minutes to be exact - but it’s got some absolutely killer songs with great vocals and some good choruses. The guitar playing on the album is also very good and should excite some doom fans. Whoever these guys/ this guy is, he/they have got something special here.

Just about every song was brilliant, full of good structures, and as I said, some great solo work. The drums sounded the way that they should’ve, the music was dark, morose and heavy, and the vocals are the main treat, because this guy actually can sing. (and he can write some good lyrics as well)

This is probably one of the best classic doom/death albums that you’ve never heard this year. I highly recommend that you try it out, and let these guys/this guy (and there’s a girl in one or two of the songs) show you what doom’s supposed to bloody be. Definitely a keeper. Support these guys, they ain’t got much, but I smell real potential here. Never thought I’d enjoy an album this much in a long time. (75:00)


Shroud Of Despondency - Dark Meditations In Monastic Seclusion (2011) - Now, if pagan black metal is more your thing, and I mean tribal, getting down into the witches’ dance kind of stuff, as opposed to Odin and the Einherjar kinda stuff; you might really like this band that I want to say, is from the US. But I’m not sure.

There seems to be a lot of song variation on the album, some songs are completely different from each other, and the band has a quality that rivals A Forest Of Stars. Sometimes the black scowls don’t come out quite right, but so many other things do. With songs so absolutely long, they definitely make sure that all of the bells and whistles and multiple vocalists are heard well enough.

I also need to add the fact that this band is progressive in nature, playing very intricate and uncommon riffs, but adding in the classic black metal feel. Sometimes it’s not even metal at all, but definitely ties in with the mix. This band really felt their pagan ideals here, and the music reflects it. If you’re looking for something to listen to before you go out dancing nude in the woods, give this one a try.

Epics like “Parting Of The Way (10:50) and “To Glisten In All The Colors Of Distress (11:08)” as well as damn near everything else on this album with the exception of a few, really cement this band as something to take note of. Clearly, they still need some work, but VERY little. I’m almost convinced that their next release could be highly noteworthy if done right. There are also songs like “Sybil” which have nothing to do with metal, but are more interested in pagan atmospherics with lyrics about the witches’ dance among other things.

Plenty of potential here, definitely worth hearing more than once. For fans of Wolves, A Forest of Stars, Agalloch, and others in that vein. (57:00)


Soul Devour - Apocalyptic Anti - Human Annihilation (2011) - These guys were okay. They’re a death metal band. That’s about it really. A satanic death metal band, just in case you may have never heard one of those before. They’re just decent enough, but not doing anything new, and just playing normal satanic death metal that I can hear from more bands, than there are fibers in the carpeting of my room. The disc is 26 minutes long, and it doesn’t have much to offer that I haven’t already heard, really. It’s not a bad album. It’s just not anything, new, fresh, or original. Bands like this are a dime a dozen. Next! (26:00)


Souls Of Diotima - Maitri (2011) - If there are any fans of Nightwish out there, and I’m sure there are - they just won’t admit it, something about being “manly” I guess, but anyway, I’m quite a fan of the band and have always loved their majestic and powerful side of power/heavy metal with operatic female vocals.

While this band does not feature the operatic female vocals, this exquisitely impressive act features a very soft and beautiful female vocal that seems to really work with the package. While some songs are much heavier than you would expect, even the less heavy songs are done justice on this disc, as the band certainly can play their instruments, providing not just very well done riffs, but full instrumental soundscapes filled with great solos and some really great symphonic work. If you’re not convinced, simply listen to the closer “Nox.”

The band does sound just a little raw in this instance, sort of like “Angels Fall First” or “Oceanborn” but I loved those albums nonetheless, and this disc sounds just as good. If you love symphonic and epic power metal with female vocals that really shows some potential and Nightwish worship, this band is definitely going to be for you. They even experiment with some electronics on, “Collateral” but it does give you a sense of differentiation, so not everything sounds so much the same.

Whoever this band is, they have a lot of promise within this disc, and though I dismissed it at first, the disc definitely grew on me very quick. This is because the band can play, and she can sing. What else do you need to know here? It’s a no-brainer. Go check this band out. (44:00)


Stoneman - Human Hater (2011) - This one at first made me think that it might have been one of my favorite albums of all time, until things started to fuck up quite royally. The disc starts out with “White Star” that reminds me so much of S.E.T.I. era Kovenant that I almost flipped, and then “Hope You All Die Soon” (which I will be playing for a long time to come, as it works well during gaming) further cemented my interest in the band being that it was just everything I was looking for in death /doom/industrial metal. Especially that fucking chorus. The first two songs sound like gothic or doom influenced industrial death metal with a scowler and a growler that makes bands like The Deathstars look a little tame.

Then the third track came into play, “Zombie Zoo” which featured Wednesday 13. It was much different, with a more punky hard rock vibe, but the hard rocker in me kind of liked it. The next song “Trail Of Destruction” featured just a gothic vocal with no death metal influence, but it was quite good.

The next couple of songs had that death metal sensibility, including the title track, but weren’t nearly as good as the two that started the album. Then “Sugar Mama” comes in, and it sounds like a gothic Motely Crue, which definitely set me for a loop. How do you go from death metal to that? Anyway, the songs that followed, “Kendra Comes” and “Let The Beast Come In” were alright, but the “Let The Beast Come In” sounded almost a little rap-like on the scowls. Plus, the guy was screaming “die motherfucker” over and over and over, so much for creativity.

The last song features someone called Van Velvet, and is a ballad called “No Sweet November.” Twi-hards may like it, but I’m a True Blood fan myself. So naturally, I thought it was quite crap. Plus it was a rather awful way to end the fucking album. It’s like Cannibal Corpse ending an album with a power ballad. The vocals on the song were also bad as well. I would have rather heard the lead vocalist from Lacrimas Profundere sing on that one. After it ends, the disc is over, and you’re left with a “what the fuck?” feeling. This disc had potential, but seems to have been thrown together in the end.

Some of the latter tracks on the disc were utter garbage, and there’s no excuse, because the band could’ve done more. Oh, fuck it. Hurry up and release “Aria Galactica” Kovenant, before we all die from global warming. Show these electronic bands how to do it, because I think they’ve forgotten. Either that, or the Deathstars need to release another one. (41:00)


Sybreed - Challenger (2011 EP) - First of all, I feel like hitting these guys, because there’s a big difference between an EP and a single. This is much more like a single, in the fact that it contains four songs, and each of them are variations of the same one, with the original version being played first. The song itself is decent enough, mixing death metal elements well with the electronics, and sounds like it could be more of a radio friendly track, rather than an epic like their last album’s “Lucifer Effect.” (of which I’m playing right now, because that song’s so goddamned awesome)

But the disc is only 17 minutes long, and all it contains in addition is three remixes of which most metalheads wouldn’t care about. I do like electronic music however, and found one or two of them to be good, but I really would’ve loved to hear some more actual music from the band. “Pulse Of Awakening” (The 2009 Album) was just one of the albums that released in 2009 that made me think that it was an excellent year for metal. However, don’t buy this EP, you’re wasting your money. Unless you like hearing the same song being remixed three more fucking times. (17:00)

1/5 (Sybreed, do you really need my money that bad?)

Symakaya - Majestic 12 Open Files (2011) - This band is certainly a good enough prog/power act, but they show little more. I see this band doing more to imitate their influences, than to break out and be original. It basically mixes prog and classical together with some orchestral instrumentations, but we’ve all heard that before, haven’t we? While what is shown throughout this disc are indeed powerful songs with amazing instrumentations and great prog work, as well as soaring vocals - it’s nothing new by any means.

Still, it’s very good progressive metal that should be readily enjoyable by fans of the genre. It’s not going to make any converts, but if you believe that prog metal is basically along the lines of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” then you’ll probably really like these guys. The band give it their all throughout each and every one of these songs, and some of them are really quite catchy too. It’s up to you whether or not to give this one a try, but fans of Symphony X, Fates Warning, Dream Theater and many others in the popular prog category might want to give these underdogs a chance. (65:00)


Symbolic - Scarvest (2011) - Well, I’m certainly impressed with this one. It’s technical melodic death metal with an emphasis on the technicality, melody, and death metal. So what’s not to like? My jaw almost dropped at the caliber of these songs, each and every one of them offering me something that I never knew that I needed to hear.

Whether it be the unconventional technical chorus line of “Everlasting” or the catchiness of “The Greed”, or even the classical metal stylings of “Bittersweet”, the band certainly knows exactly what in the hell this genre should sound like. As much as I love the musicality of Revocation, I wish they had a vocal line-up like these guys - a gravelly growler, and a true screamer that make the music all the more worth checking out. There's not some hardcore guy on this one, no sir!

There’s even a nice instrumental ditty called “My Sery” which starts out with a nice acoustic and goes into a fantastic solo, which is just the sort of thing you can expect from the band; since they really have some killer guitar work, with impeccable solos and melody. This band reminds of the heyday for melodic death metal, but put into the mainstream technical light - and it fucking works 100%.

The title track is also especially good, with the band really showing some emotion both musically and vocally. True, there are some parts where things don’t work quite as well as they should; but for the most part, every track is a winner. You may not have heard of these guys, like myself; but I wished that I’d have listened to this one sooner. What an incredible band. Definitely one to watch out for. (43:00)


Syn Ze Sase Tri - Intra Doua Lumi (2011) - From the band's logo, I would guess that these are some Russian guys, but that's not important. Sure, it's got a badass looking armored knight on the cover, but the band actually plays a sort of symphonic, majestic black metal, with a sort of low production quality. Black metal and high production aren't normal for the genre in the first place, but it does sound much better when they are combined. However, what the band plays is a style that doesn't get boring, and has plenty of unique and interesting riffs. Progression plays a part in the music as well as some technical stuff here and there, and a sense of trying to be something more seems to emanate from this entire act.

You may listen to this one and think that you've heard it before. Just because it's in Russian doesn't make it much different, and you might be right about that. But I did hear several non-conventional ideas used in this album, and I think if the band does continue, they might be able to really show something of a higher caliber off in the next album.

The music also contains some instrumental interludes, nothing metal - more in the lines of classical and epic music, which they seem to incorporate that style throughout the entire disc. It is very classy black metal, but it seems to change tempos a bit as well. There are cut and paste moments here and there, I'm not going to lie about that - but I think that the band really might have something unique and mystical here. It's certainly worth checking out, even if you're still under the impression that you've heard it before. But it's not worth the import costs either. You know what to do, so check it out. (42:00)


Tengger Calvary - Blood Sacrifice Shaman (2011) - Here's something you definitely don't hear everyday. It's one of the reasons I listen to music in the first place, in the hopes of finding something new, different, and possibly even fascinating. This odd band mixes tribal instruments with melodic death/thrash metal in a very metaphysical sense. I've never heard metal like this before, and that's probably a good reason to check it out.

Not only is this band a bunch of guitar wizards, who seem to pump out good melody after good melody; (as there are plenty of instrumental tracks on the album, most of it is sans vocals) but the folk instruments mixed along with the tribal instruments, (yes, I forgot to add that they use both styles, and it works for the most part) really help to accentuate the sound. A few million great guitar solos don't hurt either.

But there is literally only a handful of songs on this disc with vocals, that seem more of a scowl than a growl (but this isn't black metal.) What is featured certainly works and things can get pretty damned thrashy, so this is a very heavy metaphysical trip. I see so much promise in this band, and I hope that their next album will see this style possibly more matured into something even grander. I feel as if this is just a taste, and I have yet to experience the full meal. I will be keeping my eyes on this fucking band like a hawk. (41:00)


The Belonging - An Immortal Creation (2011) - These Brits attempted to mix Melechesh like riffs and black / death metal together along with some progressive stuff here and there. I guess you could call it blackened/death metal because it does a little bit of both, but at times it gets a little predictable. Expect machine gun drumming and quick tempo changes, as things go from slow to fast unless they're Egyptian, and even feature some clean vocals every once in a while. These guys really are trying to throw the whole fucking kitchen sink in there, but it seems to work well for them and I see this music attracting many fans. So yes, you should check it out. They even covered the traditional British "Hymn Of Agincourt."

Somebody has got to be busting loads over this stuff, because I feel it's the kind of extremely well structure progressive/technical/melodic/black metal/death metal/Egyptian Melechesh plagiarism that most metal fans would shit themselves over. Songs like "Slave" and "Archangel" (The Melechesh rip off) will certainly cement their place among some of the year's more interesting albums.

I would highly recommend this interesting, (but not entirely unique) and certainly badass band to most, if not all fans of metal music. I really think that most fans of the extreme and progressive metal genres (and possibly some tech heads as well) could really add at least one little ditty from these angry Brits, right into their playlists. Again, check them out. Really good sounding stuff here, folks. (39:00)


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