Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Small Update (November 28th, 2012)


Doomsday - Doomsday (PR2012) - This six-piece consisting of members from a barrage of different bands spanning black metal, sludge and thrash have all come together to make a short hodgepodge of aggression. The disc is most certainly along the lines of punky and raw black/thrash that pulls no punches, but definitely features elements of all three genres. Opener "She Will Be The One 3:33" starts out with a thrash barrage, goes into a bit of black metal and then thumps with majesty toward the very end. "The Punishment 4:06" has the feel of black thrash, but throws in some core influence that you might not have expected. "Bring Down The Knife 5:02" contains the album's first solo piece, backed to blackened thrash that features a slower moment with unforeseen melody, showing that this band has much more in mind then just simple black thrash. "Empty Vessel 3:04" comes in pummeling, and features a riff that reminds of Volt Catfish's theme from Megaman X3. But don't tell these guys that. "Black Judas 3:18" comes in afterwards, but the riff is so similar to the opening of "Empty Vessel" that it makes me want to kick them. The song however takes a sludgier vocal approach that seems to benefit and (slightly) differentiate the song, and a guitar squeal attempts to further hide the fact that this one is filler. The disc ends with "I Kill Everything I Fuck 2:07" which just makes me smile with glee. It's got a definite Venom influence but has a much harsher vocal. This track is more about their influences than originality, but it fucking works. (EDIT: Track is actually a GG Allin Cover)

The thing is, I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that six gentlemen were needed to complete this 21 minute album. I'm sure that four, or even three gentlemen could've done the same thing. What were the other guys in the band doing? Honestly? I mean, this stuff isn't that fucking complex; it didn't require a full regiment to complete. It's also essentially a demo in most regards, something that talented musicians did on their off-time. And once again, six men is a bit ridiculous. Have we really gotten so bad at the art of music, that it takes six men to accomplish what three or four could've done? The same thing could have been said with Slipknot. There were more or less only four or five musical contributors to the band - everyone else was doing some effects every now and again. Why does it take a million men, to tie a knot? Plus, that's Nu-Metal. Not too much really of merit going on until about the third album when experimentalism came into play. (That album would have been much better had they left the pop at home though.)

However, back to the Doomsday equation here:

One album = 21:00. Most of the riffs straight-forward, nothing really mind-boggling. Guy on drums, guy on bass, guy on guitar, guy on vocals. No synths, no effects. I'll bet that two people can pull off the same amount of effort. Yet I still see six dudes and wonder what small contributions that some of them might have made. But this album is definitely a solid black thrash album with a just enough bells and whistles to set it apart from some of the more simplistic stuff out there. Regardless, I'd like to hear a full release that justifies the use of six individuals in this project.

Highlights: She Will be The One, Bring Down The Knife, Empty Vessel, I Kill Everything I Fuck (6 Tracks, 21:00)



The Gates Of Slumber - The Awakening (Reissue PR2012) - Now this is more like it. Traditional Sabbathy (with a capital "S") doom metal produced by three guys, not six. Showing that three men can produce the kind of music that some bands feel that six, eight, twelve or even thirty men might only be able to accomplish. What you've got here is a raw sounding effort that reminds me very much of the earliest Black Sabbath records. The vocalist was most certainly influenced by Ozzy, yet he's got a bit of a southern drawl that might not appeal to some folks. The guitars thunder with a vengeance, and everything gives off a atmospheric sense of foreboding doom, especially on the title track "The Awakening 7:49." The cover features a Conan inspired barbarian going to war with what looks like a Lich king, but the album itself doesn't seem to flow for that concept. Something darker, like a skull-faced judge sentencing the damned to the abyss, might have been more to the style of this album.

Nevertheless, the guitar melodies are great on this one, and the solos are just as good as any you'd find in traditional doom - something the new The Sword album, Apocryphon was severely lacking. The album does sound a bit thin in areas, but the fact that these guys worked very hard to put it together is definitely there. "The Judge 6:04" might not be so great, but "The Jury 7:25" is most certainly jammable. You'll hear some great melodies on "Broken On The Wheel 5:34" which make me wonder why this thing hasn't been reissued sooner. That middle section is one of the most badass middle sections I've heard in doom in quite a while, and it's the shit I look for. I always subconsciously ask a band when I review, "Alright. How can you amaze me?" and it's shit like that that manages to answer my question.

"The Executioner 3:19" comes off priestly, but I fucking love Priest, so shove it in your ass if you don't like those guys. That's the birth of heavy metal right there, like it or not. However, this song isn't as great as it could be and is kind of out of place, other than the shred-tastic fucking solos. As for the album's technical closer, "The Burial 9:36" those same solos help to pepper the classic doom atmosphere of the track, an atmosphere that goes as far back as the actual "Black Sabbath" in nature. And I'm not just referring to the band, I'm talking about the actual fucking track itself. It's a perfect closer for the album and the way you want a doom album to end.

Bonus Track

The Cloaked Figure - God, I fucking love this one. Even though the lyrics aren't featured on this one, this song fucking kills beyond anything that has ever killed before in terms to just sheer fucking grimness. I used to be "The Grim Lord" so I know what the fuck grim means, and these guys have it. Those are the riffs that play when a meteor is heading straight for the planet, Cthulhu and his minions arise from the sea, or the fucking antichrist is crowned in a golden temple. That's the shit you'll hear in your head. All nine minutes and thirty-four seconds of this song are fucking brilliant. This is the way you END a doom album.

These guys know how to make great doom, just the way the masters have done it - those Masters Of Illusion that we thank partly for metal, (I'd like to think that Priest also owe a big part to it's foundation among others) Black Sabbath. Though a little southern-fired on vocals, this is exactly what I was looking for from the genre and I strongly recommend it, even though there are a couple of tracks that don't quite hit the mark. It's one of those albums that I have to simply say, "even if you've got tracks like this, there's also tracks like THAT and THAT is fucking worth it all."

Highlights: The Awakening, The Jury, Broken On The Wheel, The Burial, The Cloaked Figure (9 Tracks, 53:00)



Grai - O Zemle Rodnoy (About Our Native Land) (PR2012) - A word of warning before I begin with this one. If you're not into jovial pagan-folk metal with female vocals and loads of chants, then you might want to skip this review altogether. But guess what? I am. So if you're like me, then continue reading this review and you might here something profoundly interesting. Of course, I can't play for you the album, but my job is to describe it - so that is what I'm going to attempt. This six piece (and yes, utilizing folk instruments and metal instruments is something that very well does require six people) is certainly one of a kind, mixing the impressive vocal acrobatics of the female vocalists with the prowess of high quality folk instrumentations and metal work that includes thundering riffs and some great drum work. It is very joyous music, songs about the harvest and such that might have some of the pagan variety dancing nude in their homes while listening to it, more than likely. I found the music to be very entrancing to say the very least. While listening to it at work, I could not focus on the task and became very emotional for some odd reason - this stuff lets out a sort of innocence in my conscious and vocally, this stuff is up there with Dead Can Dance.

Soft ballads like "A Winter Tale 3:58" and "Leave Us, Sorrow 5:33" definitely lighten the mood a bit, but there are certainly heavier numbers like "Brave Warrior 4:27" and the closer, "Get Up From Your Knees!" that feature more animalistic vocals. The song structure of the album is balanced well, without the folk and metal getting too mashed up into each other. Flutes make up the majority of the melody here, but the flute playing makes for many great sets of melodies that you will hear throughout the album. I could not find one song on this album that I thought was mediocre, but I couldn't find any songs that I thought were better or worse than the others. Which means that the band has made a terrific album, and has well justified the women in wheat sun-crowns and the men wearing black shirts emblazoned with an image of the sun. I see much referencing the Dying and Rising God in this band, but little referencing the mother. Perhaps that will come in the band's next album.

Nonetheless, I urge my pagan fans (and friends) to check out this one, as it will uplift your spirit and make you proud to call yourself both a pagan and a metalhead, as both ideas are done justice on the album. I cannot say for sure that those looking for extremes will find much to like on this album, but I feel that it's an extremely strong and true ethereal pagan celebration.

Grai are the very definition of "pagan metal" and I cannot wait to hear more from them in the future. Worthy of any pagan ritual or gathering. I will be recommending them to all of my pagan friends.

(10 Tracks, 46:00)



Magnum Itiner Interius - Departure At The Betrayal Of Life (PR2012) - This one man instrumental/atmospheric and melodic doom project is meant to be listened to as an instrumental album, but so help me; I think that some of these tracks could've really used vocals. The first track after the intro, "A Mirage Of Your Journey 5:51" really sounds quite bare as instrumental, I was thinking of lyrics as I was listening to it in all honesty - since the title of the track had poetic philosophies flying out of my brain, and I heard several instances for verse and chorus. At writing music, this gentleman has succeeded immensely. It's done so well in some instances, that it's very difficult to believe that one man was responsible for it. Despite the fact that there are small interludes, (and most of them are done well, with the exception of a two that I felt a little lacking due to effects) eight full length tracks round out the metal portion of this album. "The Shattered Dream 6:09" comes in very dream-like but features a great guitar melody that overlaps it, (again, reminding me of Rapture) and "Pitchblack Stream 4:48" features some electronic effects and a true instrumental feel that should've composed this album from the beginning.

Then we're back to the same style with "A Wall Of Memories 7:30" which while good, would've sounded less hollow with vocals. It's just that these songs don't have any emotion. I can feel it in the music, but I need to hear the instrument of tongue to really convey this meaning to me further. It helps to hear in words the expression of the art being conveyed to me with this release. "The Spreading Rift 5:05" once again brings us back to the intended nature of the album, should it have been the way of an instrumental piece. The man's nature for crafting intriguing atmospheres makes this album worth a buy in it's own right. He's very good at what he does, and would probably craft some rather interesting soundtracks for computer/video games.

The next track here is "From Nothingness Comes Eternity 6:25" which illustrates both a doom and effect-laden atmosphere. "Scorn To The Inevitable Ruin 7:10" features many different parts, but manages to never lose it's feel, which is very important for the nature of this album. Could vocals have been used on this one? Quite possibly, but the song does work well as an instrumental and the melodies cannot be denied. The album closes up with the title track, "Departure At The Betrayal Of Life 9:33" which is very similar to the track that came before it, except for a few extra bells and whistles. While this man is good at crafting doom metal soundscapes, he must also be careful to avoid repeating himself.

This album is certainly a worthwhile listen, as it combines melodic doom metal with many other unique and interesting ideas. Though I feel a "voice" of some sort would help to affirm the piece; I am still satisfied with the end result. Is it perfect? No. But with time and experience, this musician and his art will become more defined. I wish him the best of luck, and if he ever wishes to use a seasoned vocalist in the black and death metal vocal styles, I am only an email away.

Highlights: Frozen, A Mirage Of Your Journey, The Shattered Dream, Pitchblack Stream, A Wall Of Memories, The Spreading Rift, Scorn To The Inevitable Ruin (13 Tracks, 63:00)


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Paganizer - Carve; Stillborn Revelations and Revel In Human Filth (PR2012) - As you all know, I am certainly no stranger to Sweden's Paganizer. But while this is not a new disc, it was certainly something that I haven't heard before; and was worth checking out. Of course, this is a combination of one EP and two albums from the band, who went under the name Carve during a stint that lasted from 2002 - 2004. During that time, they released two demos and two albums, of which the two albums are featured here. Though the actual track, "Stillborn Revelations" is missing from this disc (or just this promo, perhaps) there have been three bonus tracks added to Stillborn Revelations which I will talk about later.

As for Stillborn Revelations, it is not my personal favorite album from the band and sounds just a bit rough, other than the drum work on the album, which is furious. Rogga is full of spite as usual, but the guitars sound very garage-band style and the effort is punishing, but not amazing. However, there's a track on here called "Flatline 5:25" that brings forth some killer melody. For the most part, this album is a pummeler, and it's certainly got it's grit and groove. But that doesn't say much as a whole for me. Not to mention the fact that some of this is very low quality and sounds like demo-days in many aspects.

Bonus Tracks

As Wolves 3:11 - Sounds like a good song that was recorded outside of a box. It's furious melodic death metal, but very muddy.

The One True Hate 3:45 - This is a straight forward death metal track, but it's certainly done right. The quality is much better on it too.

Cold As Fear - This track is alright, but nothing special.

Revel In Human Filth is an all around better disc to me, as it has better production and more structure. Plus, things don't sound quite so muddy. It's clearly the better beast of the two, and features more song structure and melody than the previous album. I can hear Rogga's vocals a little better too, and that helps. I particularly like the album's closer, "Fall From Disgrace 5:13" which is probably my favorite song from the band, as well as the last disc's "Flatline." They really saved the best for last on this disc, and I'm glad to see how Carve transitioned well into what Paganizer is now.

Truthfully, I would only be recommending eight tracks on this twenty track album; but that's my personal recommendation. I don't necessarily think that the material on the first Carve album is up to par with the second one, and it's also not nearly as good as the material that Paganizer has put out since then. If you're curious as to what was in Carve, I would recommend that you check this material out. I'm sure you'll find some great death metal here, regardless. At any rate, another track follows at the end of this disc that wasn't on my promo. So if you want to hear that extra track, there's another reason for you to pick it up.

Highlights: Flatline, Revel In Human Filth (The Album) (20 Tracks, 73:00)



Weapons To Hunt - Blessed In Sin (PR2012) - This death metal four piece has the right idea what it takes to create interesting and somewhat unique melodic death/thrash. Take the opener, "The Hell Room 4:52" which features thrashing guitars, guttural vocals and grim melodies in addition to a couple of interesting drum taps. This guy blasts, but he doesn't blast the whole fucking album. Then you've got your solo, which is performed well enough - albeit a tad short. The album's title track "Blessed In Sin 4:28" follows and it bombs, but the album picks up a little with the next track, "Corpse Field 4:15" which is strong enough but doesn't really seem to have that much meat on it. I heard a smidgen of guitar solo, and while not every song needs to have a solo, more than four seconds would be great. However, a killer riff melody makes it's way into this track near the end of the song and that riff while short - really seems to make this track work for me. I just wish that more could have been done with it.

"The Smell of Victory 4:25" starts out from a song that doesn't even begin in thrash. I like how it has a slow proggy melody that builds up into something that really shows the drummer's prowess. Perhaps this is the song the album should've been named for, as it really shows just what this band is capable of, utilizing many facets of their skill. "Bullets For The Assassin 4:36" doesn't help to further accentuate that skill however, and it takes something punchier like "Merciless Impact 4:55" to get that point through, and to bring about a fucking decent solo on this thing. I don't care for the spoken word vocals on this one though, it doesn't come off in the way that the band wanted. "False Positive System 4:23" comes off sounding quite plain, (besides the drum work, which is the only thing that really shines on this entire album) and the closer "Strike Face 4:18" just isn't my favorite either. There are some good ideas here, just like on the rest of the album - but the band's need to produce standard death thrash seems to blur many of the good ideas used on this release.

Out of eight tracks on the disc, I'm barely recommending three. It's not that the band isn't good, because they are - they just don't have everything oiled up and aligned well enough yet. I think with more time this band will get better. But for now, I think that there is certainly room for improvement on this short disc. If you like your death/thrash to have a few short bells and whistles (and I mean short) you might like this album. But other than the drumming, (which I'll again say is phenomenal) there is not enough in this package to keep me hooked.

Might want to look elsewhere. But check it out if you're curious.

Highlights: The Hell Room, The Smell Of Victory, Strike Face (8 Tracks, 36:00)



Hooded Menace - Effigies Of Evil (2012) - The sophomore album from brooding deathers Hooded Menace, is even more refined and frightening then their last. Some might say that the first disc was a little too brooding, perhaps difficult to stomach for some, so it's take me a while to get through that one. Rest assured, I will have it's review as soon as possible. As for the band's 2012 release, we're led into the same gloom and grime as the first - but with the same elements of classic rock and metal that we've expected from the band. The album is also brimming with great melodies and structure, which make it easier for some of us to stomach.

But Hooded Menace aren't a bad band, they're just not going to be everyone's cup of tea. One other review that I've read for this disc describes it to still be a bit rough to traverse, but I don't actually feel the same this time around. The disc opens up with a long epic, "Vortex Macabre 10:24" that gives us most of the package that is Hooded Menace in less than eleven minutes. This song has impressive melody and powerful adrenaline shots of groove, yet it still maintains it's acid mouthed doom nature. One thing I can certainly say about Hooded Menace is that their frontman's vocal approach reminds me of how it would be if the slight grunts and groans of the Toxic Avenger were applied to a full album. It literally sounds acidic and beastly, like there's a real fucking mutant monster on the microphone. Hell, the guy doesn't even fucking sound human.

Of course, this band knows who their fans are; and the fans are going to love this brooding mound of melodic sludge/death. There is not a track here that is jovial, it all sounds like it was being played in the fucking sewer. But despite all the sludge and filth and feces being poured on these monsters as they strummed through music that only matches the acrid conditions of their atmosphere, these guys can still pull off some great fucking solos. In this kind of music, the melodies and solos stop it from becoming quite so stagnant.

Let's be honest in saying that Hooded Menace aren't necessarily re-inventing the wheel. But what they do here offers a grim fucking slab of death and sludge, and acid and evil. The majority of these songs follow the same tempo, with different melody combinations, and there are plenty of voice clips from old horror films that help to decorate the feel of this act. One could consider them a slightly slower version of Revolting, utilizing the same formula of horror and grim melody, albeit much slower and to an extent - more fucking grim.

While the album is tough to stomach for some, I thought that it was a truly solid release, just the kind of foul pus-filled stuff you'd expect from the genre of brooding acid death metal, or whatever you'd like to call it. If this is something you'd be interested in, you've probably already got it by now and I apologize for being so fucking late. But as a reviewer, I consider this a solid album that's definitely going to make a great grimy gift for the Helliday. Get it for your favorite monster/demon/unholy being from the fetid abyss of grim fucking doom.

(8 Tracks, 50:00)



My Dying Bride - A Map Of All Our Failures (2012) - This new album from My Dying Bride is really a fucking letdown. The band's EP, The Barghest Of Whitby was fucking excellent, as the band finally decided to start doing some extreme metal work once again, but there are only one short portions of this, one being on the album's first track "Kneel Till Doomsday 7:52" almost as if in a joking fashion. While I do like the gothic poetry of the lyrics here, just as good they have been since the band's inception; I find most of this to be a terrible retread of a retread of a retread of a retread of a retread of a retread.

Listening to songs like "A Tapestry Scorned 8:00" make me think of a metal atmosphere given to a tale from Poe, but they aren't actually songs that you can enjoy in the sense that one enjoys a song. There are plenty of melodies on the disc, just the same melodies as have always been; but there are few songs with actual strength on this album. Perhaps "Hail Odysseus 8:54" shows the most spirit on the disc, and it also shows the most spite from this band musically that I've heard from a while. So the drummer can do more with his kit then tap every once in a while.

This is most certainly dreary, gothic doom metal of the classiest nature (and it is very classy, don't fool yourself) but it is far removed from what I was offered just last year. While I generally liked the tone and nature of each song, I can't see myself going back to re-listen to too many of these tracks. It's just not a very memorable experience, in all honesty. I've always been a fan of the British metal scene, still holding high that the Brits are generally responsible for the genre of metal and doom, in particular; but this time I don't see one of the godfathers of Goth flourishing all that much. Frilly shirts aside, I haven't felt that this band has been worth a damn in years. Many years, to be honest. I've listened to all of their releases, not seeming to find anything that really quenched my thirst for their past work.

One cannot truly say as to whether or not there is still a place for Goth, as the world has in the words of Stephen King, "since moved on." And ever does it move, putting a terrible vice grip on ideas of the past. Yet there are bands who still wish to carry this idea of Goth onward, forward into the next millennium.

But can they succeed? Only time will tell.

Highlights: Kneel Till Doomsday, A Tapestry Scorned, Hail Odysseus
(8 Tracks, 63:00)



Stone Sour - House of Gold And Bones Pt. 1 (2012) - Corey Taylor's side project (and band before Slipknot) has yet again released another album. While I said that the last disc was more or less a "metal version of The Backstreet Boys" I must definitely say that this album is far, far better than Audio Secrecy. "Gone Sovereign 4:03" starts out poppy, but blows up into thrash and does contain a fucking meaningful solo. Yes, I was a bit shocked too. Though still a little poppier than most thrash, this is still a thrash track and an odd way to open up this two disc concept album. "Absolute Zero 3:49" comes in with new metal thumps and definitely reminds me of the band's earlier material, which I liked so don't give me shit about it. "A Rumor Of Skin 4:11" is pretty much a fucking rock song, but there's a sweet solo on it and some uh... prog. Yeah, it kinda works. If you're going to save hard rock, might as well start by adding some prog.

"The Travelers 2:26" is an acoustic ballad. I could do without it. "Tired 4:11" comes in next, and I have to say - I really like the riffs on this one. It's a very mature song and it's genuine. Reminds me a little of Pink Floyd for some reason. "RU486 4:22" starts out with an interesting warning and then plows into modern metal. Corey kind of fights between yell and harsh vocal. It's a heavy track with another great solo. So far, I like what I'm hearing. Much better than the crap you guys fed me last time. "My Name Is Allen 4:18" is a pretty basic hard rock track that I could do without, but the solo's good. At least they got that right.

"Taciturn 5:25" is this long over-drawn out ballad that makes women wet. But I will say that the fucking solo on this one is utterly magnificent. Whoever is playing the solos on this thing, they know what they're doing. I can't hate this song, the playing is too fucking good and it's certainly catchy. "Influence Of A Drowsy God 4:29" is a strong song. It's definitely a hard rock track - but it's performed very well. I like the melodies, the drumwork and Corey's vocals sound great on this one. But one of my favorite Slipknot tracks was the B-Side "Child Of Burning Time" because it had such a powerful feel, (not just musically, but lyrically) just the same as this one does. Oh, the guitar solo on this one is good too, but it's much shorter than the others. This is the definite climax of the disc.

"The Travelers 3:01" comes in with a legendary riff, very Priestly; they're paying homage to the metal gods. But I'm also sensing some Pink Floyd vibe. You'd have to be deaf not to hear this influence at the beginning of the track. The disc ends out with "Last of The Real 3:01" which is a decent enough song, but I'm not sure if it has a place right at the end of the disc. This album is just the first part of a duology, so it's technically not the closer to the piece.

At any rate, this disc a heavy refresher from the shit that this band gave me last time around. It's honestly as good as their debut album in terms of heaviness, but I would consider it to be much more mature, experimental and actually worth checking out. I may have talked shit about this band during their mid-era, and that's because I hated the crap that was shoveled out to me last time. But now, I've got a newfound respect for Corey and the crew and these guys have literally blown me the fuck away. You can say a lot about a disc, until you've actually heard it with your own ears, and having done that; I feel as though I owe these guys an apology.

So this review would be that apology. People will see it and they'll get the picture. I'm definitely curious as to what they'll do on the second part of this duology which has already been recorded and will be released earlier next year. At any rate, go check this one out. It's got some good metal moments, as well as killer solos. And when I mean killer, I do mean killer. This isn't just "Oh, he played some good licks repeatedly." This is "well, that's a fucking good solo. That's how a guitar works."

Bravo, gentlemen! Encore!

Highlights: Gone Sovereign, Absolute Zero, A Rumor Of Skin, Tired, RU486, Influence Of A Drowsy God (11 Tracks, 43:00)



Kissing The Mirror - Light Through The Night (2012) - Japan's Kissing The Mirror, known for their In Flames take on Touhou Metal, decided to release another album at Reitaisai 9. If you don't know what that is, look it up. At any rate, this album is of all things; a power metal record. Now I don't know how I feel about these two doing power metal, but obviously they felt that they could join the ranks of Japanese heavyweights like Animetal USA, X-Japan and Galneryus. Though the musical element is good and Wooming's instrumentation is as good as always, his guitar melodies especially - Vocchang's vocal ability leaves something to be desired in power metal. He's certainly a better clean singer than I am, but I think it's still rough and needs a little work.

There are some slight moments in "Spirit Of Silence 4:37" where the clean is good, but they're trying to be too much like Galneryus and it isn't working for them. Harsh vocals creep into the mix via a guest vocalist on "Over The Prominence." The band he (or she) is in is called, A Snake Tattoo On Her Left Arm which I've never fucking heard of, but it's a mouthful to say the least and the guy (or gal) derives their style from core.

Believe it or not, even though Vocchang did all of the vocal and lyrical work, he's credited with being only a guest musician. Wooming is credited with being the only actual member in this band. Weird. But as far as musicianship, Wooming proves that he is an exceptionally talented musician, doing everything from guitars to keys to synths to solos, to mixing and mastering. He even programmed the drums rather well.

The disc contains a special bonus track which is a re-recorded version of "Crimson Haired Lady 4:49" in which Vocchang tries to raise his voice as high as humanly possible. It's certainly not my favorite.

At any rate, this is an unexpected turn for the band and I hope that they don't do another one of these anytime soon. It's not the music that kills it, as this would be better with a vocalist who doesn't sound like he's trying to be a power metal vocalist. Vocchang just tries too damned hard and that just ruins the whole fucking thing for me. Despite how good Wooming's riffs and melodies are, the vocals are too fucking over-powered and high in the mix.

Might want to pass on this one. There's a new Galneryus after all.

Highlights: Spirit Of Silence (8 Tracks, 33:00)



Regnum Caelorum Et Gehenna - Dimersity 01: Meus Vitualamen Exertus Muto Vestri Universitas (2012) - First of all, this Japanese act is fucking phenomenal. At times, they're mind-blowing. Yes, it's a Touhou Metal act; and yes, it's in the realms of extreme metal. Don't even try to pronounce the name of the band or the album, just check it out first and foremost - and now I'll tell you why I've just recommended it out of the blue, as most of you have probably never heard of this band in your lives.

This melodic death Touhou metal band starts out with a sort of melodic core, and that influence is certainly there; but they're mixing it with electronics and djent in a motion that just seamlessly flows through genres in a very pleasing sensation. Even if you don't know who this band is, you will soon want to. The intro "The Dead End Of Progress 3:38" instrumentally opens the album with this fucking fond note, and you will wind up wanting to hear it again.

"Unspeakable Darkness 4:37" opens with a sense of deathcore/hardcore influence, yet the neoclassical influence is something not tried here in America and it works well for these guys. It reminds me of an extreme soundtrack for Castlevania and is heavy enough to bang the hell out of your fucking heads, folks. This is metal. "In The End Of Days 4:25" starts out with a very melo-death style with core screams and death growls, but you'd be a fucking idiot to deny those goddamned melodies. Then there's a play with djent for a few seconds, leading into some great fucking picking that goes back into djent, acoustic and back into metal. These guys are so fucking versatile, it's unreal.

Some of you musicians that read this blog might actually shit when you actually hear this stuff. These guys really do some wonderful work and are literally bursting at the seams with promise. "Stargazer's Eternity 4:56" is a little weaker, but manages to mix electronic synths and core with slight moments of djent. There's even a section before the momentous solo that features a couple ritualistic drum taps. Even if the vocals aren't the best, what is going on musically is certainly worthwhile. "Super Sonic Zero 3:59" features a mix of metal and electronic effects that work well to it's nature. While the solo softly plays, electronic whizzes are heard throughout. If nothing else, these guys are methodical and have calculated every bit of this disc. But that could be why the Japanese already have fucking mech suits. Google that shit, folks. You get one for 100,000.

"Broken Hearted Machine 5:18" features some keywork, electronic effects and a mix of melodic death metal and djent. Then there's the screams during the acoustic part that puzzles me. Whatever works, I guess? At any rate, there's a sullen soft vocal approach used on this song (and some others on this album) that remind me a little of Dani Filth's gothic croon that he sometimes uses. But these guys do more than that. You'll hear an awesome solo that goes into a neo-classical picking session that plays during some sort of effect that I cannot place, but have heard before on several Sigh records. "The Savage Garden 1:02" comes next, bringing with it an interesting soundscape in which some unique riffs and effects are used.

"Meaningless Affirmation 3:38" opens up the second part of this album, bringing several of the same elements along, yet still managing to please with it's brutality and odd uniqueness. As well as another great solo. Gothic organs also round out the atmosphere of this song as well as the croons which are speaking in some kind of odd ritual chant. (Perhaps these guys drew on real occult for this album? Wouldn't surprise me. The Japanese seem to love the occult.)

"Die Today Bravely 5:04" starts out in a way that American bands would never certainly attempt, but these guys just don't seem to give a shit as they mix trance elements with melodic death metal and djent. There's a great riff after the 1:30 mark that's worth checking out, and even though breakdowns appear, it's hard to hate them when you've got so much else going on. This song is full of structure - hell, this BAND is full of STRUCTURE. Damn? What was that, sounded like fucking Primus for a minute there. Now they're giving me a solo? Fuck. I'm not even worthy. Shit. They even fucked with the SID chip. And all this is one song. Yes, it's all one song.

"Like The Sleeping Beauty 4:35" is next and it is a little more straightforward at first, mainly sticking to the musical rules of melodic death metal but the vocalist is still using his yells. Neoclassical elements and low vocals come in, but after some melodic death riffs, the death growls take up the majority of the song as it gets rather dreary. Then we've got some excellent fucking neoclassical guitar work. "From The Deepest Space 2:27" is a soft instrumental that incorporates acoustic melody and electronics that work in an almost magical fashion. It certainly sounds like something from a game, and it's a good interpretation of something that actually did come from a game. Yes, all of this music - as heavy as it may be - did originally come from a game series.

The disc closes with the nearly eight minute "Sigh Of The Void 7:58" and it is an absolute powerhouse in which the band pulls out all the stops. Though there are core moments, the chorus reminds me of classic In Flames a great deal. But when the instruments are given a chance to play by themselves, the band delivers. An acoustic part follows along with a whisper and this goes into a weird fucking electronic that goes into a fucking stellar solo backed by a drum pummeling. The chorus continues and goes into a blast session that opens up one more vocal line which goes into a growl letting loose even more of these extremely powerful melodies. Then we have it... another solo. After some more of the dark croons and drum work, the disc fades out.

What else can I say? I'm extremely pleased to represent these guys at The Grim Tower and almost shit myself the first time I heard this one. I can tell you that it's even better the first time around, and even though the vocal approach might not be to your style, there are so many wonderful ideas on this disc. The drummer's amazing, the guitarist is amazing, and whoever the hell is messing with all these effects, is fucking amazing. We've all heard good bands with vocalists that aren't so great, but whoever's doing the growls is certainly good at it. At any rate, I'm ready for Dimersity 02, whatever the hell that means. Japanese bands don't wait two years to release a full album, so I might see an even stronger (if it's even possible) release next year. The production on the disc is also good, you'll be able to discern everything, even all of the little effects.

The bottom line is that Touhou has never sounded better. I'm a fan, considering these guys to be the best Touhou metal band I've ever heard in my life. They took all their influences, made them into a hodgepodge and experimented in both ways that you can blatantly hear, and ways that you'll have to listen closely to hear.

Definitely one of the best bands to come out of Japan. Keep your eye on these guys, I will. By the way, I am going to try to see if I can get an interview with these gentlemen for The Grim Tower. The lyrics of this album are all in English, so I would assume that the band could understand the language very well. If not, well at least I tried.

Highlights: The Dead End Of Progress, Unspeakable Darkness, In The End Of Days, Super Sonic Zero, Broken Hearted Machine, Die Today Bravely, Like The Sleeping Beauty, Sigh Of The Void (12 Tracks, 51:00)


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