No rock this time, all metal. By the way, I will now feature something that has been missing from these review sets as of late... older discs! I also now get PR from Clawhammer, so I will provide reviews for those discs, before anyone else has heard them.
BTW, I am not going to review the 4 set Metallica 30th Anniversary show. Do you even realize how long that would take? Plus, it's a concert. Not a studio release or worthy EP.
Lamb Of God - Resolution (2012 Unfinished Mix) - Read inside the parenthesis, folks. This is a very low quality rip of the album that someone leaked from the stream of an unfinished mix. Regardless, it's enough to review and is of decent enough quality to be able to discern. I will also state that the album will not sound as raw in retail release, as it does here.
First of all, I rather enjoyed Sacrament and Wrath. I think that those two albums really have a lot to offer in the band's style of "American Metal." But after Wrath, I wasn't quite sure where the band was headed to next. They released a massive retrospective last year, and a b-side called "Hit The Wall." Reviews for this one have been rather vicious, and people are even stating that the band should go ahead and call their next disc "Retired" instead of "Resolution."
But that didn't happen. Instead, the band has released something that follows their roots in straightforward southern fired thrash. It's very Pantera this time. I would certainly say it's along the lines of ferocity that "Far Beyond Driven" showcased, but not near as clean as that album was. It also doesn't have as many guitar theatrics, either.
But it is a step in the right direction, as it moves well away from the style that they were already beginning to wear thin. Some could however say that this a band that has lost it's mojo, and that this disc is fairly simple mindless thrash with a whole lot of yelling and not a lot of staying power. If you're "young and pissed off" as one member of the board put it, this might be what you're looking for. It's nothing more than rage and thunder with a few songs to slow the pace like "Barbarossa", "Insurrection" and the closer, "King Me."
The disc sounds like a very personal one, and the lyrics (I've read them all) mostly sound like they are coming right out of a personal journal of poetry.
There's a guest vocalist on "Insurrection" and he doesn't belong there IMHO. Most people will probably skip this song as LOG never needed clean vocals. "King Me" also includes a female vocalizing in the background and some orchestration. The melodies on it are quite good though, but it's an odd way to end a disc with such a pummeling nature.
If you liked the Pantera influenced "American Metal" that these guys have done in the past, you'll definitely hear it here also. But this time, things are much heavier and sometimes very different from what you're used to. I personally thought it was a great disc, but it doesn't offer anything I haven't already heard from them before. It's a different direction, but not a different path altogether.
It's definitely a trip back to the past, hopefully the fans will appreciate it. Definitely not a bad idea to revisit old riffs and styles that worked well enough before. If it ain't fucking broke; don't fucking fix it, I guess. (Approx 60:00)
Primal Fear - Unbreakable (2012) - it's good to see that bands like Primal Fear are still releasing quality heavy/power metal in 2012. The band has decided to make the sort of disc they wanted to make, free of all of the electronics or core or death metal influences that most bands have picked up to make their discs seem more accessible in today's scene.
This disc sounds just like a blast from the past, with catchy anthemic songs and Halford-esque vocal stylings that'll make you think you're back in the 80's again. The disc has the riff structure that we would expect from heavy/power metal, and the same sort of classic solos that one would expect as well. Musicality is solid, but it's nothing that we haven't already heard, BY ANY MEANS.
Yes, this is retread; but it's a good retread. This sounds like a classic album and I'm sure it'll sell plenty of records. With such tracks like, "Strike","Give Em Hell","Bad Guys Wear Black","And There Was Silence","Metal Nation","Where Angels Die (8:26 Awesome Epic)","Unbreakable","Marching Again","Born Again",Blaze Of Glory",and "Conviction" there's plenty on this disc to like. Yes, you read that right. Every damned song on here is worth listening to sans the intro. Primal Fear worked their asses off to create an album that will hopefully reach your ears before the heavy hitters release their discs this year.
It's much better than last year's Hammerfall, but not nearly as good as Iron Savior or Charred Walls Of The Damned's disc from last year. But those are going to be hard to one up, and this band wasn't trying for that goal, either.
"Where Angels Die 8:26" really shows the full power of the disc, being an absolutely epic song that seems to show the band's staying power even after all these years. It's definitely worth hearing. Even the ballad, "Born Again 4:58" which has some awfully beautiful lyrics; is certainly worth listening to at least once. Of course, the disc has plenty of high energy tracks; so you'll have plenty to bang your head about.
Primal Fear's latest disc might be their best in a while. But I think that it'll fall on deaf ears, since most people don't really listen to power metal anymore. But I'm not most people and I rather enjoyed the disc. It's an hour of power. (57:00)
Degradation - Juggernaut (2011 PR Review) - Sorry guys, but I'm about to eat and digest this one. Along with the Vore album, PR also sent me a disc from Chicago thrash band, Degradation. Apparently, the band has some killer live shows; but this album doesn't live up to them at all. It's very straightforward thrash metal with expectable riffs, awful drumming that sounds like the drummer is hitting plastic toy drums... these guys played with Sabbat? How disgraceful. Now I know why Martin quit. It's because no one could top what bands like they have done. (Sorry, I'm a huge Sabbat/Skyclad fan.)
Yeah the riffs are okay, some of the songs are decent and the vocals are much better than some of the thrash bands I've heard in a little while; but that thrash band I reviewed last time, Mortal Sin wipes the fucking floor with these guys. At least they aren't trying to copy Metallica. However, I bypassed downloading a leak from a band that sounded like a 100% Metalllica rip-off. It wasn't even worth getting for free. So there are much worse than these guys. As I have talked to several other metal veterans who agree that every time they hear one of these neo-thrash bands, it makes them want to break out the old shit; which was marginally better.
That's the same feeling that I get here. It's a decent disc for a band who's opening up for Kittie/Dirge Within & Diamond Plate. The band is apparently going to be selling this at Best Buy according to my PR info, so they might get famous. But even so, they're just treading the same goddamned path that Metallica already walked.
Yes, it's decent thrash with great solo work - but I have heard so many bands just like it. It also sounds like it's lacking something. I can't really put my finger on it, but if anyone can; please let me know. Something just seems off on this disc. (33:00)
Ominous Crucifix - Spell Of Damnation (2012 PR Review) - According to PR, this disc doesn't release until February 6th, and these guys are Mexican death metal masters that have since only released demos and EP's. They're supposed to be for fans of Vallenfyre, Necros Christos, Sonne Adam and Apshyx. It also says that they've got a big fan base, especially in South and Central America.
The band plays a sort of occult death metal, that sounds slightly raw, but follows a certain groove. In a way, it's very old school. Fans of classic death metal might really find something here and it's certainly got some major staying power. But to me, it sounds like a band that should've hit years ago. The sound is awfully dated, but it's still well-crafted. You can't deny that. These guys come out at full force on this disc, delivering everything that death metal purists want, and then some.
The songs have a variety of tempo changes, so it doesn't sound as bland as other death metal bands that I've heard. "Defiling The Altars Of An Absent God 5:42" starts out with one hell of a sound clip that leads into a very catchy song, sort of reminding me of Nile's "Lashed To The Slave Stick." But "Church of Death 1:39" sounds more like the stump of a song, than a song itself.
Not everyone will like this album. Some might say that it's too old-school sounding and that it's not technical or melodic as some bands out there. But others might think this album to be one of the best in 2012. It all depends on how you like your death metal. Whatever the case, this debut album seems like a crushing way to start the year, that has some definite "break out of the box" potential.
Personally, I think there will be better bands out there in the coming months; but if you want to hear some extremely grim and brutal, old school Mexican death metal right now; these guys have got you covered. It's a heavy hitting album that starts the new year off right... even if you may have already heard it before. (38:00)
Northwail - Cold Season (2011) - Now here's something that really made me take notice. Whatever the hell Northwail is trying to do with their highly unconventional black/death metal, they are doing it right. Too over the top for some, but just weird enough for me; these guys seemed to have wanted to throw more than just the kitchen sink into their music. They threw the bath tub, the toilet, the furniture, the television... the whole fucking house in there.
But it paid off. "Where God Ends... 9:32" has enough going on in it that you'll be sure to take quick notice. The riffs are flying all over the place, almost in a sort of technical black metal. There's melodies too, but they seem to be like small flying insects, and just as soon as you try to grab them, they're gone and they've turned into something else. People that like to hear a thousand different tempos at once might really love this band, indeed.
Don't forget that the solo work on this disc is also very good, and the band does stop the madness just long enough to let one of them play. They're also numerous. Trust me, there's A LOT here to like. I mean that literally, because there's a lot offered on this disc.
But if for some odd reason, you don't like the interesting and unique riffs, the drums with the ability to do more than one old thing, the tempo changes that go from thrashy to black metal to core to melodic to light atmospheres, and the sheer overall atmosphere that this band has created... well, I'm sure there are some blander bands out there for you to check out.
Some people have said that they don't like a million things going on one after another after another, but this sporadity makes the disc worth it. The fact that they can mix all of this seemlessly is profound. This disc will probably go undiscovered though, a diamond in the rough because of something that has more notoriety. But you'd be an idiot if you're looking for something that's truly different. I couldn't believe this band when I heard them. Plenty of thrash, death metal, black metal, weird atmospheres, great melodies, and an overall feeling of dread.
It's the total package in five tracks. What in the hell are you waiting on? You want me to email you more information? Go check this shit out if you want to hear something altogether different. Your ears might appreciate it. (51:00)
Under That Spell - Black Sun Zenith (2011) - Sounding more like a joke band than anything else, (Who names a band "under that spell" and expects to be taken seriously?) Under That Spell plays an obviously rather unique style of black metal. The disc consists of nine tracks, with the longest one being much longer than the rest at 8:22, "I Set The Fire."
The disc starts out with a short intro called, "Mantra 2:23" and it sounds like a guitar jam and some atmosphere really. But the guy can play. Still, it's nothing amazing, especially for black metal.
Tell me these guys aren't serious. "Haunted 4:35" comes in very basic, with a weak melody and some machine gun drumming. There's also that dreaded opening scowl. Still waiting for the vocal lines... Alright, here we go 1:02 and the vocals start up. Decent stuff, but nothing I haven't already heard 10,000 times. Alright, the music shuts down totally, and all that I hear now is a few light plucks. Still, nothing I haven't already heard before. The plucking is good, I have to say.
So what happens next? Come on, guess?
Yep. The music starts back up and there's the scowl. I can't understand the lyrics now, and I couldn't in the beginning. Obviously, these guys are wanting to be taken seriously as a black metal band... again, bad band name. The title of this album should be the band's name, and the band's name should be the title of this album.
"Zenith 6:17" comes in immediately, and you would've never even known it. The scowls are a little lighter, a bit better on the ears this time. But they certainly sound better. I could actually understand the vocals if I were paying attention to the lyrics. But I'm focusing on the music as a whole here.
But instead of going track by track again (I'm running out of room) I'm going to go ahead and spell out this disc for you. One, if you've heard any sort of melodic speedy black metal, you've already heard this disc. Yes. That's all there is to it. I didn't even listen to the whole thing, but by going through the songs, I could hear the same riffs, the same styles, and the same melodies. "Redemption 3:13" is a short acoustic piece with an atmosphere, and the only time the band starts a song with a different tempo is on the albums closer, "Mantra 4:28." Yes, there are two Mantras on this disc. Why not, when you've got a band called Under That Spell.
Honestly, I can give these guys a good score based on talent, but they're copy and paste from many other black metal bands out there. I don't want to hear the same kind of melodic black metal disc that I've heard fifteen thousand times beforehand. I could get together with a few friends and make this kind of music, but compared to bands like Shaded Enmity, who are trying to revitalize the melodic bm scene, these guys make me want to take a melodic bm myself. Of course, the only melody in that would consist of my grunting and groaning.
If you've absolutely got to have another melodic black metal disc that sounds just like all of the other melodic black metal discs that you've got, then go for it. By all means, support these men and their plagiarism. But there are bands out there, real bands, who are trying to do something that we all haven't heard before.
Again, these guys might be "under that spell" but I'd love to come into their practice space and snap my fingers so that they'll come out of it and rename their band to something that sounds as comical as their plagiarized sound.
Ugh! Fuck this shit. It's mediocre, run of the mill crap I've heard too many times before. (43:00)
Illnath - Third Act In The Theatre Of Madness (2011) - Illnath actually surprised me, even though some jackoff gave it a 4.9/10 on Metal Storm. Apparently he just now got around to it, because I've had it for weeks now. I have no idea what this guy was expecting, as it blew away my first impressions quite quickly.
The guitar work on this disc is far better than you would expect, and whether you want to call it blackened goth metal, melodic black metal, or melodic death metal; it's quite good. The screamer and some of the band's nature points them towards being black metal, but there are several melodeath style songs on this disc as well, so perhaps they are both.
Regardless, every track on this disc has plenty of potential, despite the less than perfect quality of the disc. Fans of bands like Agathodaimon or Graveworm might really enjoy this disc, and it has plenty of worthy riffs and solos. Synths are used, but sparingly, as this is a band that is more concerned with making catchy metal with a hell of a lot of guitar jizz throughout each and every song.
There's nothing wrong with that in my opinion, as this genre gets capped out for not putting enough oomph into it. I haven't heard a good Sirenia or Tristania album in years. It's pretty fucking bad that bands like Illnath have to show me that good gothic tinged melo black/death still exists.
Don't expect anything amazing here, but for what's offered it's quite fucking good. I can't wait to hear the band with a better production, but then I fear that they'll be all out of good ideas and good riffs. So if you're looking for some absolutely killer black/death/gothic metal, then this is definitely going to be just up your alley.
Definitely the kick in the pants that this stale genre needed. It really sucks that you know a band is trying on a disc and some asshead goes on a major site and reviews them as awful because he doesn't particularly like them. The disc isn't perfect, but it's much better than I would've ever thought and that should say something.
Worth checking out... and I'm going to write a rebuttal review to piss that guy off. It's a good thing that I'm not surpreme overlord of the world, because I would most certainly have him executed, or his hands removed. (48:49)
EDIT: It's actually a female on vocals here, but I honestly couldn't tell. Wow. Take that, Angela Gossow.
Vengeful - Vengeful (Towards Obliteration & Leaping Through The Void 2 Disc 2011) - Before some asshat gets to these discs and talks about how awful he thought they were, I figured I would go ahead and give an honest fucking opinion.
Vengeful is a death metal that decided to release two discs instead of one. The first one is "Leaping Through The Void 43:00" and the second disc is "Towards Obliteration 24:00."
Starting with the first disc at 43:00, I'm hearing something that sounds like a sort of death metal that is both brooding, and technical. The gravelly growl seems to be the standard fare vocal here, which most people appreciate as this is the "classic" death metal vocal.
There's some touches at prog and plenty of tempo changes, but the gist of this still seems to be bludgeoning death metal. The quality is sub-par and at times hard to discern, but for the most part I think a Cannibal Corpse/Dying Fetus/Immolation/Deicide kind of person could get into this just as well as any other tech-death head. This band really does a great job of trying to bridge that ever widening gap of death metal heads and technical death metal heads.
Most of the tracks on this disc are quite long, the shortest being the album's melodic instrumental closer, "Exit 5:13" and the longest track being "Distant 12:50." There are only five tracks, but they certainly offer plenty of death and plenty of technicality that is both at a slow and speedy pace. There are definite injections of brutal death metal and pummeling technical portions here that would delight fans of time signatures just as much as those who like their metal on the brooding side.
The solos on the disc are very good, and they are quite technical as you would expect, very over the top and all over the place. Then the growls come back and the slow, brooding death metal nature returns to the fold. This is rather good death metal, folks. You'd be an idiot to let it slip out of your hands. Every thing is 100% on point, and I haven't had a qualm with one part of this disc. This is just how death metal should sound, and songs like "Malice 10:04" prove how fucking great these guys really are. Those tech-deathcore fuckers could learn a thing or two from these guys. Consider it homework, kiddies.
Just like their influences, the band is also skilled with some atmospheres, and they seem to pop up a little on "Distant" which begins with a short atmosphere and goes into djent that does seem to creep back into a slight atmosphere in places. This is the house that Meshuggah built and I'm happy with the evolution, personally.
If you don't care for djent, you might not like this disc. But you might be able to get over it due to the sheer awesome blend of classic death metal and technical death metal. However, classic death metal fans might also think that the songs are just too fucking long and have too much going on for their tastes. They might feel that they could easily play a classic death metal album and not have to worry about the long songs and time changes. It all depends on your palate.
There's definitely going to be love/hate relationship on this first disc, but I definitely enjoyed it.
But I'm not done yet. Even though it's only 24:00, there's another disc in this set, with seven much shorter songs. "Consumed 1:44" is the shortest song on this disc, and the longest song is the closer, "Delusional 6:26." Most of the songs here are very short, which leads me to think that this might consist of death metal at a faster pace.
Well, this disc starts out with a little atmosphere intro piece at the beginning of "Decay 2:45" which goes into a much faster paced brutal death metal style that is very reminiscent of Dying Fetus. There is some slight technicality, but plenty of fucking brutality here. It sounds almost like another band, and proves that they don't mind catering to two different worlds of death metal.
If you like machine guns and drums, you're certainly going to eat this disc up and put it on repeat for days. There's plenty of to interest the death metal fan here, even though it doesn't have as much of an arty taste as the first disc...
To which the death metal fan replies... "Hey! Who gives a fuck! I want to band my fucking head!"
Yeah, this will do that for you. This 24:00 of pummeling death metal will certainly show the much harder face-ripping style of a band called Vengeful. You'll almost wonder what was with the techy/proggy shit on the first disc to begin with.
Alright, so I stand corrected. THIS IS HOW DEATH METAL SHOULD SOUND.
The disc bludgeons through until it reaches the closer, which actually is a little slower than the rest of the songs, but much more chaotic, matching completely the track's name of "Delusional." There's also a really interesting riff going on through the middle portion of this track. The disc ends just as brutal as it starts, putting a murderous smile on the face of any death metal listener... or perhaps just one of glee.
Nevertheless, this band gives you two sides of their sound, rather than just one. I can't name too many bands off the top of my head that do that, so I would definite consider picking up these 2 discs of vengeance from Vengeful. There was a lot of hard work put into this, and at a combine total of 68:00, there's plenty of music for you to enjoy, whether it be the fast and brutal, or the slow and technical (but still brutal in areas.)
The quality isn't perfect, but it's not bad either. You probably won't even care. So just check this shit out, all right? I don't do this for my health, you know. If you like these guys, drop them a few bucks and get some awesome music in return. It's a win-win situation. (68:00)
EDIT: Towards Obliteration is Disc 1 and Leaping Through The Void is Disc 2. Makes sense, because the last song from the first disc goes with the style of the second disc. Hence the album's true instrumental closer, "Exit." I promise not to fuck up like this again, and I apologize.
666 (Of course it's great. It's like going to a restaurant and getting a large pizza and a platter of fiesta nachos at the same time. Youd' be an idiot not to go for that deal. But you'd also have some pretty bad heartburn, I imagine...)
Blutvial - Curses, Thorns, Blood (2011) - Blutvial isn't going to win any awards for ingenuity, but they don't have a bad formula here. It's quite simple really; just a mixture of modern black metal pioneered by bands like Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir, and traditional black metal which we're all familiar with. The songs range in length, anywhere from "The Immutable Hammer 3:17" (More on this piece of shit in a minute) to A Light In The Forest 10:20."
For the most part, the songs aren't too bad and the mixture of the two eras is done as well as Sega's "Sonic Generations." (I know that Sonic The Hedgehog and black metal have nothing at all to do with each other, but for this comparison, it works.) The riffs are as one could expect, but they aren't as great as they could or should be.
While "At The Stones We Gather 4:20" is one hell of an opener, barraging the listener with a very black and roll garage style production that was intended to sound that way, "The Immutable Hammer 3:17" is nothing more than a bad experiment, and it winds up literally sounding like the most simplistic black metal song that I think I've ever heard. There is not one good thing about this song, it's the worst black metal song I've ever been disgraced with. If this is how simple they want playing black metal to seem, then I'm going to start up right now. I can play the same goddamned riff over and over too. Notice that is not plural - it is literally the same riff over and over "dun dun dun dun dun dun dun" There is a short solo, but it can't save this pile of shit.
If I saw these guys live, and they even dared to play this song, I would shout at the top of my lungs; "Play something that requires more talent! This song is garbage! It's a fucking joke!"
Fortunately, the band does have some skill at playing good black metal with prog influence and all of the darkness that you would expect. Yes, there are good songs on this disc; great ones even, like "Conspiracy of Optimism 5:36" that follows the bullshit I harped about a paragraph ago.
The band really does their best in trying to do many things here, trying to differentiate themselves from the umpteen million black metal bands that are already trying to differentiate themselves by doing the exact same thing that this band is doing. But whether the tempo is pummeling, rock and roll, or sludgy, the band does certainly seem to be capable of standing out against the cacophony of black metal bands out there, more of them then there are fibers on the carpeting of my house.
For those of you looking for something truly black though, "A Light In The Forest" will certainly give you what you want. All in all, the disc has much to offer for everyone, even people who appreciate crap that was thrown together. People who know what talent is, and people who have no idea, might both find this album interesting if only for a few songs. But the disc as a whole is certainly not bad, and I rather recommend it to black metal fans.
It's not the best black metal album you'll hear this year (Iskald, Farsot, cough, cough) but it's definitely well worth checking out. If you like the disc, even the bullshit track - throw the band a couple bones will you? Maybe in 2013, if we all aren't feasting on each other; (in the blackest of black metal fashions) the band will grace us with a disc that doesn't offer a throwaway track to deter listening from seven other great songs. (50:00)
Kroh - Kroh (2011) - Kroh is different in the vein that it's stoner doom/hard rock, with very catchy radio/worthy choruses. For the love of all that is metal though, don't stop reading this review. This band is utterly phenomenal and one of my favorite surprises of last year.
From "The Plant We Seeded 4:01" all the way to "Inside 5:05" you should really enjoy this disc. Yes, it is a little raw; but don't let that deter you from it. Even if it's not as heavy as you'd like it, it's still a very good disc with good melody and some interesting ideas. The vocalist does sing clean and hits the choruses "Heaving Earth 3:37" with just as much power as any famous hard rock singer would have. Catchy is the name of the game here, so don't blame me if this shit gets stuck in your head.
This could play on the radio and you wouldn't really be able to tell the difference, but it's a hell of a disc. People have been going nuts over this since it leaked, so give it a try. Apparently this is a side project from a member of a famous band that I'm not sure of right now, so google it.
The band is definitely no stranger to experimentation, as these two guys really seem to be able to mix their odd soundscapes and catchy melodies quite well. I'll bet you that if "Heaving Earth" or "The Plant We Seeded" or "Luciphoria" or "Inside" or an edited "Fruits And Wine" hit the Edge, you would have every hard rocking guy and gal requesting the song. The disc just has a catchy quality that sounds like it could be REAL POPULAR with the mainstream, yet it still manages to keep an underground sound and some experimental/stoner groove that has seemed to resonate well with the underground.
The lyrics sound very personal, stuff that people can relate to. But don't think this is sellout music, because it's done quite well and I fucking love it. The only song that doesn't work is the track, "How I Wish 4:12" which is an atmospheric track that kills the feel of the whole album. I still don't get why bands do this. If you're going to make a stoner doom/hard rock disc, than make one. Don't put some tooty fruity atmospheric garbage on there, because it's just going to be skipped.
Still, I really fucking love this one; and even though I've listened to it once before, I've once again got the damn choruses stuck in my head, like "Inside" for example; and you will too. An experiment in brainwashing, or a good mash-up of doom and hard rock... You decide. (36:00)
Edit: While I do like the atmospheric track, it could have been put on the end of the disc, not right before "Fruits and Wine 6:01" which follows the same style as the other tracks on the disc.
Ara Kra - Ferne Tage (2011) - Don't let the album cover fool you. A nice painting of a young woman in her bed with a wolf curled up on the floor sleeping beside her, amidst the backdrop of a city hardly matches the type of metal album that this is. Sure, the melodies are beautiful and there's some definite post-metal influence; but there's also quite a lot of doom (Daylight Dies) influence here as well, not to mention a great deal of deathcore vocals and even some rather speedy drumming.
The disc isn't very long, but it is very erratic in nature. The singer belts out and hollers throughout the whole of the disc, seeming more and more angry by the minute. This man is screaming his bloody lungs out amidst such a melodic backdrop, sounding like a man who seems to know that millions are headed to their doom, but none of them are aware or listening to his pleas. It's certainly heavy, and has some definite "metalgaze" as I've heard it coined; being able to make a very uncomfortable atmosphere.
The disc is very simple to place in the category of post-melodic deathcore, because that's what it is. If you're expecting black metal or death metal in the vein of Cannibal Corpse, this isn't it. Fans of post-metal will love this German version of Daylight Dies, (as I was constantly reminded of them) but others may not appreciate the core influences here.
I personally thought the disc was rather beautiful, and merged doom and melodic deathcore well enough that I couldn't find anything wrong with it. The band made one hell of a dark and beautiful atmosphere here, so check it out if you like that kind of stuff. Word of warning though, not a word of this is in English. Plus, it's only a little more than a half an hour of music.
It's good enough. (35:00)
Surachai - To No Avail (2011) - This 20:00 experimental black metal piece is certainly an interesting ordeal. It contains merely two tracks, "To No Avail Pt. 1: 10:41, and To No Avail Pt. 2: 10:22."
Electronics comprise most of this, and it's not until about 1:41 that we hear a very melodic black metal riff being played at the same time as the scowls start, which are very good by the way. You can't discern anything from the vocals on the disc, but the lyrics come with the booklet. Truthfully, the light melodies are what really makes this project stand out and seem to be noteworthy.
The scowls and the melody work together perfectly, and the scowls themselves are quite powerful. This is a band to take notice of. The electronics and effects come into play in the middle of the first to make something that sounds really interesting. Then it leads off into great melodies once again, amidst heavy programmed drumming. At the 7:00 mark, we are thrown into atmospherics and static and other weird industrial sounds. (like that whirring and what sounds like somebody fooling around with some kind of steel gizmo.)
Part II follows with some riffing that sounds like it's infused with the same sort of electronics. It sounds like some kind of machine. Vocals and drums come in at the 00:43 mark, so the song more or less starts right up. Very much in the vein of early Krallice, the light guitar melodies dominate most of the music and the scowls work together perfectly. I personally rather love this style of black metal, but to each their own. The song itself is rather slow, but it's definitely got the spirit of black metal and that's what counts. Even if we start drifting off into a fucking UFO at about 4:00, the musicality on this is great. Surachai could've just been a melodic black metal band like Krallice once was, (but has since had a brain fart) but that would've made them no different from the other bands in that vein. Adding the electronics and weird digital effects give a certain life to the music.
About the 6:00 mark, strong melodies come back into play. This guy really does know how to program some great drums, which gives truth to the rumor that you don't always need other musicians... Ahem. The scowls come back into play and it's still got that real bare bones black metal feel that really sounds as emotional as can be, like the man is bearing his fucking soul on this disc. Most people will probably never hear this one, but that'd be foolish. This is a great 20:00 of what could one day be a phenomenal full length. The man can program music just as well as he can play the guitar.
The violin sends us off in that perfect classy fashion; and it's bitter strings signal the end of what was a very lament to Lucifer himself. (Read the lyrics.) Apparently, this gentleman is really quite upset that the guy got the short end of the stick.
Regardless of the lyrical content, Surachai makes a promising debut(?) here and with an effort of this stature, the project could sure go onwards with even more sympathetic songs for the devil. But I guess that's just how black metal is. Nonetheless, certainly impressive. (20:00)
Hunted - Welcome The Dead (2011) - In an age where Nevermore has failed, a band called Hunted vows to pick up the slack. But can they do it? That's certainly the question as this power/prog act certainly seems to be pushing the boundaries. Drums are all over the place, as are proggy riffs, solos and everything else. The vocals mostly stick toward an overemotional high pitch, while the instruments do whatever they damned well please.
Some say it's brilliant art, the next best thing. Steve Barberini and crew definitely worked their asses off to make this disc, but I just feel as if something's off. It just doesn't seem to gel for me. There's a lot of flash and flair, but I'm not hearing anything really cohesive. Perhaps through multiple listens I could understand what's going on here, but I just think it's too over the top, honestly.
Everything seems to travel in that direction. Too much drums, too much guitar, way too much fucking vocal, there's no humbleness in one part of this disc. These guys made their disc as if it was their last. Everything is just way overblown for me, and while I'll give it a 4/5, I just can't say that I personally liked it; even though I'm sure that most of you will think it's amazing, and that I'm an idiot.
I'm not saying that Hunted isn't a capable band, because they definitely are. I just couldn't really get into it. Perhaps I wasn't in the right mood for it. I don't know. Speaking of Nevermore, they covered "The Heart Collector" at the end of the disc, and I personally prefer the humble version to this overblown version. (50:00)
Ceremonial Casings - March Of The Deathcult (2011) - Damn, this is going to be a tough one. I'm not sure what to make of this album, really. It's a symphonic black/death metal band - that can be inferred easily. But what in the hell are they doing? Well, I've got no clue. Some of this might've looked better on paper, but it comes out humorous in the audio.
For instance, the album opener "Midnight Deathcult Phenomena 6:42" starts out well enough, sort of gothic black/death; but then towards the end of the song, one of the vocalists decides that he wants to speak backwards throughout the rest of the track. It's kind of incessant and kills the cheap yet beautiful, synths.
Did I say cheap? Yeah. This is a very low budget disc, with some of the worst guitar tone I've ever heard (is it even a real guitar?) and some very cheap synths. For some odd reason, there's a guy with a very monk-like tone who decides he wants to sing along in a very off-key manner, with the third song "When The Saints Bleed 6:19." Yes, it's quite off-key, but that's not stopping him.
I'm not saying that they don't have talent - it's just hard to hear in this recording which sounds like the sound is coming out of my microwave rather than my speakers.
Death metal comes into play at about the fourth song, "Universal Funeral March 4:36" and it's not bad. Very promising. Despite the horrible guitar tone, the synths and dark nature of this song is great. So far, it's the best on the disc.
"Bringer Of Plague 6:16" comes in, and damn it's muddy. But it's still death metal style and has a good symphonic piece that works with it, making it seem epic, but still very fuzzy. Acoustics at 2:12. Didn't expect that. That didn't last long, song changes tone, reminds me of early Graveworm now. Then it changes up and gets really heavy on the bass (which mixes together with a nice synth effect.) Also very promising.
"In My Madness Mystique 4:27" reminds me of Nile, now completely off the black metal style that started the disc. This one is actually not too bad, either. Oh crap, this guy's going to talk again. Why is that guy laughing in the background? But I do like the end scream there - works well with the song. This one is also one of my favorites.
"Apparitions To Become 4:23" starts out very black metal, and it's not surprising that the scowls come back into play (there's a growl in the background though.) Song seems sort of basic, heard this kind of thing before, chugga chugga chugga. Soft break in the middle with synth? Check. Speeds back up? Yes. What the hell happened at 2:49? Someone try to imitate a wolf or an overweight opera singer? I all the sudden hear a "woooh!" Cradle style sythns come into play and then we have the machine gun drumming to fade things out.... nope, the chugga chugga chug.
Then we have "March Of The Tyrants 2:51" which sounds like an evil march. It's the ultimate evil march. This is one of my favorite instrumentals of all time, so far. Yes, it's that good. Somebody put that in a game. It works.
What in the hell happened with track 9? I'd be lucky if I can hear it. It seems to be from a demo or something. The quality sounds even worse, but the song still shows some promise despite that. The same thing with the track after this one.
There are two covers that follow, Venom's "Manitou" and Emperor's "Night Of Graveless Souls." The Venom cover sounds pretty good actually, but it's not great. The Emperor cover, on the other hand, is almost inaudible. It sounds like thrash with black metal vocals.
The disc ends with an eerie instrumental called "Apocalyptic Paranoia Dementia 3:46." which is also quite good, and could be featured in an old style horror film. It reminds me of classic horror soundtracks and why they'll never stand up to the new ones.
All in all, I'm quite impressed. At first I thought this was a decent disc, but the band had some definite ability, especially in the synth department. I would use "March Of The Tyrants" for my official theme, if I was able to have one. That song is so deliciously dark and wonderful. As is the disc's closer. These guys certainly have what it takes to make quality synths, even if the guitar tone isn't perfect. Plus, the ability to play both sides of the field (black metal or death metal) works to their advantage, giving you two separate bands in one package.
Sure, the quality isn't great; but this is a band to watch out for. These guys would kill if they had better production value. I really think there's something here; it just needs a little work to come into fruition. Despite how much I hated the tone of the guitars, the riffs and the drumming was pretty damned good. They also know how to change tempo at the drop of a hat. Some bands still haven't learned that lesson yet.
Even the old demo tracks had promise. So this definitely worth checking out. The band might even be offering it for free as a test run, so go check it out and see.
Not bad, not bad at all. But needs some work. (62:00)
Encoffination - O Hell, Shine In Thy Whited Sepulchres (2011) - Damn. Every once in a while you have to review something you hate, and these boring death doomers absolutely did nothing for me and I don't think I've even finished the first track. It's just so incredibly raw and dull that it was putting me to sleep.
Encoffination is very slow death/doom, I guess you could say in the vein of Vore; but it's definitely much slower in pace than those guys are. I mean, this stuff is at a crawl. The drums do a few interesting things, the bass sounds as Sabbathy as can be, and the growls are as gravelly as possible. It sounds like the the kind of metal that statues of rock golems would make.
I also hear what sounds like the clicks and pops from a record. Either this was ripped from a vinyl, or these guys just want to sound old. I don't know how the singer even keeps up, I think I would've fallen asleep by now.
At 4:13 on the fourth track, the damn sound finally sped up a bit. But it's not enough to save them. Let's just chalk it up to the fact that I just don't plain care for these gentlemen, but I respect their talent as it has some slightly interesting parts. The drumming sounds rather tribal sometimes, that's interesting. Personally, I think the drummer does more than anyone else in the band.
Yes, the idea of the album was "let's see how fucking old we can sound!" The first November's Doom was like this, and I still can't get into it because of that. By the way, I can't understand a word of this album. Not one. It's all gravel.
I sat through this whole thing and almost fell asleep. That's how much I liked it. Some of you might think it's the best doom/death album ever recorded, but that's your opinion. If you like the music, go support these guys. But as for me, I'll pass. (39:00)
Shaded Enmity - Hijo Perdido (2011) - This is black metal unlike you've heard before. It's a Spanish mix of melody and black metal style that sounds rather pleasing to the ears actually. Songs like "One Way Out 5:46" might sound black and dirty, but the well injected dose of melody and Latin drumming definitely works well.
There are dual vocals on the disc, your usual death and black - but what attracted me to this band was their ability to mix black metal, Latin style and melody that would be more akin to a melodeath record, as well as they do. Listen to "Man At The Edge Of The World 5:06" and you will see what I mean here. I always love how other cultures put their own spin on something, whether it be cuisine or music. I never thought I'd hear black metal like this, but it works, and is just as heavy as you would expect.
It's also quite promising music with the kind of great melodies that I expect in black metal. I definitely recommend this, because it's altogether different; the quality is good and the band is extremely tight. There are some killer solos on this disc as well. Don't let the fact that it's a black metal disc sway you. I mean, why the hell can't we have beautiful solos in black metal?
I'm already three songs down, and I've loved every one of them so far. Yeah, I'll be keeping my eyes on this band. The drums and guitar work at the beginning of "The Botanist 4:14"... damn, that's great. When vocal comes in, it's not as good - but the beginning is great. There's chemistry here, folks. Nobody has probably ever fucking heard of this band, and they goddamned kill.
Wow... Listen to the melody on, "A Crystal For Your Life 5:49" fucking great. This is the kind of black metal I've always been fond of. Guitars going mad with melody and solo, great vocal work, awesome drumming. The band has powerful choruses as well, let's not forget about that.
As far as I am concerned, these guys deserve every bit of popularity they get. These guys are a tight, wonderful metal act that has their shit together and really seems to be able to make a difference in the scene. I'm absolutely enthralled here. I'd go all the way to Spain to see and hear these great melodies myself. Fuck, melodic black metal never sounded so good.
Never. Go get your hands on this shit, now. I mean right now, I don't care where you get it. Just check this out, because these guys have some phenomenal music to offer. If you want, I could go on throughout the disc and talk about the rest of the songs, but they follow the same formula of melodic and speedy black metal. Not a lot of variation, but what the band does do, they do it right. (45:00)
Russian Circles - Empros (2011) - Russian Circles is a band that I wasn't going to review at first, because I didn't think they were metal. Of course, that hasn't stopped me from reviewing rock bands before, but this one I thought just wouldn't fit into the category. However, I was wrong. What started out as almost sounding in the vein of black metal with "309 8:49" slowly became something which I would describe closer to post metal or experimental rock.
But the disc still remains of a heavy nature, with some absolutely phenomenal melodies and some killer prog. This is the stuff dreams are made from, folks. This is the kind of music that you can just kind of zone out too, so I dusted off an old manuscript called "The Nekonian Chronicles" and did some modern edits to it while I was listening. It's great music for those times when you just want to focus on something, quite like classical music and tests. I do believe that a higher degree of focus can be achieved with this kind of music, because I was able to make some rather great edits (which is writer speak for writing whole new lines and paragraphs) while listening to this.
The disc is only 41:00 long, and doesn't demand much more than your attention. It's not going to be a headbanging fest, and it's not the most brutal thing that you'll ever hear, by far. But it is a certainly interesting type of metal/rock which definitely succeeds in it's goal of motivation and relaxation. It's a great soundscape with many layers and beautiful rhythms.
Although it might start out dark, and seem darker in portions of some of these rather long tracks, it certainly seems to be just what I needed for a good pick me up, like a writer's coffee for a man who prefers decaf but with the same effect. It will get your brain working.
No vocals, except for the last track; and those vocals are slim and forgettable. The meat of this disc is in the musicality and what it can do for you. It can be very therapeutic at times, but very dark as well. It's a progressive/experimental/metal/rock mix and that's all there is to it. If you like this kind of stuff, I'd have to highly recommend it.
I have no qualms with this disc, nothing turned me off from it. However, it didn't blow my mind either. I simply consider it a great disc that you can play over and over again. There's wonderful soundscapes here and that's what you want in an instrumental album of this nature.
Definitely check this one out, but know what to expect as I wasn't even going to review this one in the first place. However, it does have enough metal to classify as metal and has some riffs that might just jumpstart your brain. (41:00)
Morkobot - Morbo (2011) - If robots made music for robots, this is what it would sound like. Another disc I wasn't going to review at first, but then realized that it was indeed heavy music or metal, and not many people have heard of these guys, so I figured that I should review this one.
First of all, these guys are like djent on steroids. They sound like they have twenty string guitars, or maybe even fifty. There's so much of a weird robotic nature to this odd and definitely instrumental music, that I think only the most robot-minded people might be able to understand this. Wal-Mart would play this constantly if it re-wired your brain to make you buy something.
Every song sounds like a slight variation of the last, djenty as ever. The whole band is oiled together like a fine tuned machine, and I'm wondering if there are brains in their heads, or perhaps wires and gears. The drums flow in line with the riffs and the weird electronic effects and the whole thing would probably get on your last nerve after a while, unless you really dig djent and you believe that this is absolutely "brainy metal."
Some tracks are lighter than others, but the formula is still the same, and believe me, this shit must equal out to some sort of mathematical formula when put down on paper. These guys have to be great at mathematics to get these rhythms just right. All this is, is time signatures. From beginning to end, it's the sound of complex mathematical equations.
Personally, the whole thing got on my nerves after awhile. I could go into a factory and hear the same sounds from the machines whirring and buzzing about, I imagine. But some of you might think it's ear candy and that's fine with me. But it's a solid effort with their 80 string guitars. (36:00)
3/5 (Not my cup of tea, personally.)
Cold War Survivor - Bloodworth (2007) - I've heard good things about these guys from a few people, and right now I hope they're true because I need something heavy, fast, and unrelenting. Called my "girlfriend" up last night and the bitch hung up on me. I'm damn near 27 years old now and don't have time for this Mickey mouse bullshit, so I'm moving on and steering clear of this long distance shit I've been doing for too long. Fuck the internet! Even though I met this chick in real life, I knew that when I moved there was no way this was going to keep up. Plus, the woman's battier than me, and I've got Aspergers Syndrome. Never a good sign.
Anyway, onto the review. These death/thrashers certainly can work their way around the music well enough. The drumming is killer, the riffs thrash and quake, and the dual vocal style reminds me a little bit of a dirty thrash vocal with death growls. The riffs also have a certain degree of unconventionality, which makes the band sound kind of fresh. It's actually some pretty jazzy thrash, which is superbly handcrafted and could give Pantera at their heaviest, a run for their money.
Yes, this is how you play interesting thrash metal. Just in case some of you've forgotten (Degradation for example.) The tempo changes occur as much as you would expect for a prog record, and the sheer musicality of this disc is simply ridiculous. I mean that with a capital R, as to who the fuck are these guys? This is one of those rare discs like Vore's "Gravehammer" that I could play more than just once.
This band is literally exploding with talent. The solos are absolutely insane, and follow well throughout the tempo changes. Even though these songs are short, they don't seem so, due to the sheer amount different tempo changes in each song. If there's a band out there who can revitalize the thrash genre, it's these guys. The drums, the vocals, the riffs, (even on the fucking bass) are absolutely killer. This is the Death of thrash metal. I've never heard anything like it.
Yes, this is going to be hard as fuck to come by, but the band is apparently playing shows and gearing up for a new release; (my mouth waters in anticipation) so you might be able to get a copy of this one from their merch booth. There was an online leak, but I'm not sure if it's still active. You might still be able to buy the disc from the band's online store, if they've still got one.
Regardless, this masterpiece of metal is well worth getting your hands on. So get off your ass and track it down. Some of the best thrash ever made. (45:00)
Cold War Survivor - Demo (Year Unknown) - This demo contains earlier versions of two songs from their current album, "Bloodworth." These songs are "Abduction 4:31" and "Lesson In Loss 7:52" Bloodworth's closer.
Three songs not on their debut appear here: "Force Fed Deception 5:19", The Grim Spectre Of Death 4:14" and "For I Am A God 4:58." The quality on this is much rawer, but still discernable. It is a little screechy, but the playing sounds just as good as always. This disc is 26:00 long more or less, but that's what one should expect for a demo.
It's just as good as their debut, but doesn't have quite as good of production. Get if you can, and are a hardcore fan - but it's not necessary. (26:00)