Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Week 67 (November 20th, 2012)
Frosthelm - The Northwinds Rend Flesh EP (PR2012) - First of all, don't expect mighty Viking hymns to the Allfather, replete with horns and orchestration. Because North Dakota's Frosthelm aren't that kind of band. They seem to compare themselves to Skeletonwitch, Dissection, Goatwhore, Metallica (Old), and Amon Amarth. But I'm not hearing the Amon Amarth influence at all - maybe just by name. However, this album certainly makes me think of a Goatwhore that dissected a Skeletonwitch while listening to old Metallica. So almost all of the influences are spot on. The music thrashes throughout with banshee screams and troll-like growls, while melodies pervade from every orifice. You will hear some definite "classic thrash" moments that separate and help to define the band's sound further. Personally, I think they're a strong up and comer to the title of Skeletonwitch's throne, even though some of you might not think so. (But this reviewer didn't like Skeletonwitch's latest, in all fairness)
Though the disc is only 11 minutes long, there's definitely some promise here and I'd really like to see what these guys could do with a full length, or even 30 minutes. But I will say that this EP lasts as long as most sexual escapades, (or so I've heard, as it's been five years since I've gotten any) and it's probably perfect for one fierce bout of rough sex... and another, and another, and another...
Well worth checking out. Only a sample of what these guys have to offer, and I want to hear more, damn it!
(4 Tracks, 11:00)
Elvenking - The Era (PR2012) - To start this review, I will simply say that I didn't like how this album began. If you want me to be honest, "The Loser" sounded like a folk/power infused bout of Bullet For My Valentine. And no, I don't like Bullet For My Valentine. But the chorus on that song was particularly strong, so I can't say that it was a complete waste. But what we've got here is a six-piece power/folk metal band with all the trimmings of both folk metal and symphonic power metal, including some influence that I would have to chalk up to Tobias Sammet and Edguy. There are even a few growls used on this album, but I feel that they are sort of useless in the mix of everything else, just on there to appeal to a certain demographic that thinks that all metal must have at least one or two growls. However, these guys can play their instruments and the guitars do let loose on some good solos. The band really likes to pile it on thick with the vocals too, like on "I Am The Monster 5:11" where it sounds like everybody and then some is singing along on the chorus (and on some of the verses too.) I do like how everyone gets a turn, but just make sure that they can sing first...
Moving on, I'm going to talk about some of the finer points of this disc. "A Song For The People 1:45" is short as hell, but it's a great little folk song with a female and male vocal duet that works perfectly. This song leads up right into another great track, (heavily inspired by Tobias Sammet, who was one of the first power metal vocalists to throw profanity into a melodic power metal chorus) that most of you are going notice right off the bat. It's called "We, Animals 4:07" even though I'm sure that the band probably at one time wanted to call it "We're Just Fucking Animals." Another one that I really like on the disc is "Walking Dead 3:44" which also cements the band's ability to use hard-hitting and catchy choruses. But we have heard the folk and electronics power metal mix before, right?
There are also some ballads on here as well, like "Forget Me Not 5:39" which features a male/female duet and an excellent guitar solo/piano combo that you might not have thought these guys were capable of. But the main high point of the disc is the closer "Chronicle Of A Frozen Era 6:40" which starts out as a ballad, (and comes right after one of the album's tearjerkers, "The Time Of Your Life 4:19" so it's misleading.) but quickly picks up speed and introduces a powerful chorus and some choirs, prog riffs, and one massive solo.
Without going into too much detail, Elvenking have a lot of potential; but these guys are still young and the frontman's vocals could be stronger and the band could mature their sound a little more in future albums. There are also some songs on here that I thought of as nothing but filler. But I can't go wrong with the outro on the disc, "Ophale 2:46" which tells us that these gentlemen can play those folk instruments that you've been hearing throughout this whole album, and they can play those instruments quite well; I might add.
Not bad, worth checking out. But I definitely want to hear what these guys can do on future albums.
Highlights: A Song For The People, We Animals, Walking Dead, Chronicle Of A Frozen Era, Ophale (12 Tracks, 52:00)
A Life One Lost - Ecstatic Trance (PR2012) - This is the first disc I've ever heard from A Life Once Lost, even though I'm sure they've had several. I just never really got into their style of music until I had read some reviews for this album and found it to be well received, melodic and transcendental in some aspects. I will say that the little over a half an hour that comprises this disc is filled with djent, intricate guitar melodies and a certain sense of definite transcendentalism. So they got that right. But I think these guys are playing up the djent craze a little too much and playing Meshuggah with the vocals, (Gnawing Lisp 2:55) in some weird kind of tribute. But I can say that without a doubt, the guitar solos on this record (and yes, there are several legitimate ones that seem to echo throughout the expanse of the disc, it's an odd feeling really) are absolutely fantastic. Whoever the fuck is playing on this one is definitely showing the world that they can play leads, and play leads well.
Fans of their core material might like the more streamlined approach of "Empty Form 4:21" but the "I Am 0:45" that comes right after it, is ultimately forgettable. But what's odd about this album is that the first half is made up of 4's and 2's, whereas the latter half is nothing more than 3's. Not one of the tracks after "I Am" goes over 4 minutes, which is odd. Of course, "The Blues 3:33" sounds like a core version of a stripped down Meshuggah. The rest of the songs are pretty much along the same lines as the rest of the album, which is mainly loaded with djent and good guitar solos. Fans of Meshuggah just might like this, but I also think that fans of djent bands who aren't core would actually like this core band. They really seem to shed their core a bit on this album, which shows evolution and as I said, the guitar licks are fan-fucking-tastic. I'm just hearing a little too much of those time signatures for my taste.
Asteroid (Killing Joke Cover) - I'm definitely a big fan of Killing Joke (and I'm still crawling through their huge discography right now) and I having heard the original, I can say that this version actually does do the original justice. It also shows that the band has more staying power than exists just in core. This is a killer cover and is definitely worth hearing for any fan of Killing Joke and I think it's a good way to get people who've never fucking heard of this band, (get out from under that rock!) finally into these guys.
Highlights: Something Awful, Madness Is God, Empty Form, The Blues, People Stare, I Sit Ill, Asteroid (11 Tracks, 36:00)
Aeon - Aeons Black (PR2012) - Already hailed as one of the year's best death metal releases, Aeon comes forth with a fury that's not unlike Corpsegrinder fronted Cannibal Corpse. As a matter of fact, I'd certainly have to compare their style of death metal to Corpse, it's thrashes just the same and the vocals are damn-near uncanny for George Fisher. But not only does the band come in blazing with opener "Still They Pray 4:00", they jump right into a slower but still brutal number called "The Glowing Hate 4:22." Sure there are a few instrumental portions like "The Voice Of The Accuser 0:53, and Passage To Hell 1:07" but we can't honestly forget about "Neptune The Mystic 1:14" which sets the stage for the skull-pounding rage of "Nothing Left To Destroy 5:38." Many have been also saying that this is one of the best Deicide albums in a while, and maybe Deicide should keep that in mind with their follow up to the cleverly named, To Hell With God. One thing's for sure, and it's that these guys absolutely fucking despise Christianity and each every song will further engrave this message into your fetid skull with catchy melodies, neck-breaking riffs and some of the best overall death metal growls that I've heard in a long fucking time. This thing thunders left and right, it's literally a fucking beast and I don't know if there's anything else that's going to be able to top it for quite some time. Did I mention that the solos were fucking great too? Well, they are. This is everything that death metal should be and more, and I fucking love every goddamned bit of it. If you're looking for that album to get out all of your anger and frustrations towards the world at large, this one will be that album. This fucking disc should have a warning label on it that says:
"Could Contain Too Much Fucking Death Metal For You To Handle - Exercise Caution While Listening."
Definitely one of the best, if not the best fucking death metal album of the year. Hell, even with the short fucking instrumental pieces, there's still eleven fucking tracks on this album and they're all killer. This IS death metal, ladies and gentlemen. Bang your head to this, fuck to this, do whatever weird and crazy shit you do to yourself while this album is playing. It's a goddamned masturbatory event, and is something you need to shout off fucking the rooftops about. I'm ecstatic. I could listen to this for days, weeks, months, years. It's that good and you need to make sure that Satan Claus has it on his list for the Hellidays this year. Every bad little girl and boy needs a copy of it right from the clawed hand of the Krampus.
If you miss out on this, then you're beyond worthy of the Darwin Award.
Highlights: Everything! Don't like the interludes? Skip them! The album is killer, regardless. I'm not bringing down a score for 2 or three minutes of orchestration, piano effects/exc. (15 Tracks, 52:00)
The Devil - The Devil (PR2012) - The Devil is a black metal band, but that's where the similarities end. As a matter of fact, The Devil is a new sort of breed in the world of black metal, a bunch of masked gentlemen who prefer to create grim and melodic atmospheres with sound clips replacing what would be vocal lines. But there's more to this, than meets the eye and you'd better pay quick attention because this band is not about worshiping the devil, in any WAY, SHAPE or FORM. The band seems to be especially interested in conspiracies and metaphysics as well as philosophy. You will find several interesting voice clips on the album, taken from all sources. Some you've certainly heard, but others you might not have. There's even a song further trying to get it through your thick skull that the "Illuminati 3:15" is alive and well, and only through enlightenment, can we rise above their tyranny. Songs about extra-terrestrial cover-ups, nuclear weapons, war, corruption, and the innate spiritual power of self fill this disc and make me consider it a must for the whole of American civilization. Yes, someone has got to take off the wool covering over your eyes and why not let what you thought to be some "evil" black metal band, do the trick? Though you might not like the fact that songs like "Astral Dreamscape 3:03" and "Transcendence 2:24" are merely soundscapes that one might use to project their spirit onward, there are also songs of heavier mention like "Devil & Mankind 5:41" which I would love to put vocals on. I was actually coming up with lyrics right off the bat, as I was listening to the piece. But being the fact that the track is loaded with soundclips, I feel that the melody and impact of the track is ruined. Out of all the tracks on this disc, this should have been omitted, maybe even used in a different band. It sounds like something that would've been good with vocals and sound clips make it sound lazy. If these guys need a vocalist and lyricist, I would be more than happy to illustrate the same concept as told by the sound clips. (Which is based on the military industrial complex.)
And that is what you might feel is the problem here. This disc shouldn't just be a musical disc. It should be a musical film. The band has already released videos for both "Universe 4:35" and "Extinction Level Event 4:41" and this have been released to high acclaim, some saying that they help to further purvey the message in the soundclips. If you're going to give us conspiracy, then why not give us the videos too? Maybe these kids might like to know that there are things beyond fur-fetishes and people hurting themselves for personal recognition on the internet. This is a great way to get out information to the masses who wouldn't normally check out the work otherwise.
The final icing on this cake is the nearly half hour track called "Ascension 28:34." It begins with a slow atmosphere that becomes a binaural wave. It felt like my brain was being microwaved, and to be honest - I couldn't listen to the entire track. It was making me feel really "odd" to be honest. On speakers, this is nothing. But it was meant to be and is effective on one's headphones. This fully begins at the 5:00 mark, but will not play on my laptop speakers...
(hooks up headphones to laptop input jack)
Wow. I'm certainly hearing it now. This is a secret, sort of hidden thing - as I said, it won't play on certain types of speakers, but it is there. Oh yeah, this makes me feel weird. Holy shit. I feel like I'm in a spaceship, or on a teleporter... damn, the sound was increasing there for a minute. It's increasing in intensity... I have no fucking clue what kinds of energies are being sent out to my brain, but it's becoming hard to type.
Damn. That's it. Got to take it off.
Yep. Now it's back to silence. At any rate, this is definitely worth checking out. Plus the binaural thing... I've never gotten to hear that kind of music? before in my life. Heard about it, but now that I've heard it, it just feels weird. My brain feels "numb."
(13 Tracks, 78:00) 49:00 without the binaural portion
Birth A.D. - I Blame You (PR2012) - A product of crossover thrash from Candlelight Records artists, Averse Sefira. It was also produced by thrash guru Alex Perialas who is responsible for producing albums from Testament, Overkill, Anthrax, Nuclear Assault and others. It also features guest appearances from Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ (How the hell did that happen?) and Bill Taylor of Immolation. Now that I've got all that out of the way, I'll talk about the album. The disc is exactly as you'd expect for something like this, with pummeling drums, thrash riffs and punk vocals. Though I liked the lyrical content of the album, and thought that it was good musically, I guess I didn't care for the vocals and that turned me off the entire album. I know that punk is generally performed like this, but I want someone to sound a little more menacing (like the old Gallows vocalist) and less like a comedy. But then again, we can go back to 90's era GWAR and that's got almost the same vibe. Perhaps I just prefer Brockie's sick humor to what this guy's trying to do, and it just doesn't sell to me. Which is entirely alright, as I don't expect to like everything that's thrown at me. However, I do think that this band has potential and if they've been selling as well as they have before, then there's no reason why they should be signed to a label and promoted. This thrash/punk could start another metal revolution in the same way that retro-thrash occurred, but this is certainly not a rehash of anything, and it certainly has some meat. I've never cared for short songs really, it makes me think of a song one time I heard on a radio show where some fellow made a metal song called "I don't want to go to work" and that was the entire fucking song. He yelled, "I don't want to go to work" about three or four times and that was it. I'm getting that feeling here especially with "Failed State 1:20" (Try adding some more lyrics, guys?) but at any rate, I do agree with most of the lyrical material here like in "Short Bus 2:06", "I Blame You 2:04", "Kill Everybody 3:43", "No Jobs 1:49", definitely "Equal Opportunity 1:34" and "Popular War 2:34" which I was listening to while on the john. The song compared war to football and I thought it genius. So it's not terrible, but I couldn't listen to it five or six times in mad ecstasy.
But for fans of punk and thrash, this is definitely worth checking out. It's much better than the fake thrash of Lazarus A.D.
(18 Tracks, 37:00)
Cystic Dysentery - Culture Of Death (PR2012) - With a name like Cystic Dysentery, I already know what to expect - fucking brutal death metal. And lo and behold, that's what I'm getting. It's literally a half an hour of face melting and slightly technical brutal death metal recommended for fans of Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Gorguts and Deeds Of Flesh. However this is NOT my forte and there are few technical death metal bands that I actually like, (Obscura, Mencia and Gojira are some) so I thought the effort was mild at best. The band's photo does however remind me of the old photo shoot with bandmates Shadowed Sun that we took years ago. It also has the feel of southern death metal dudes just having a good time. The production on the disc is quite high, because it was mastered by some genius in Orlando FL (and that guy would be tearing his eyes out trying to master some of our old demo work.) To be honest, other than parts here and there, it's not really my thing as I've noted. But at any rate, the band makes a strong presence here and I can't deny that. While I've hard better and I've heard worse, but this is a strong debut.
(8 Tracks, 31:00)
Dehumanized - Controlled Elite (PR2012) - This is Dehumanized's sophomore album, but it's been a long time coming - 14 years, as a matter of fact. While one can't exactly say how much better (or worse) this album is than the original, I can say that what I'm hearing here is a good slab of death metal. The drums blast, the vocals are gravelly, there's a backup screamer in the band and it's definitely a good show all around. Though this is considered New York "slam death" I'm not hearing anything that sounds like that from them. As a matter of fact, I like the little riffs opposite the breakdowns on "Man Vs. Man 2:33" and especially when there's that growl/scream duet. The entire band really seems to be on their game and aren't afraid to pull out a couple of solos, (which you'll barely hear in slam death) not to mention some good melodic leads and structure. The only reason I've never enjoyed slam death is because it's too simple. A handful of riffs, over-the-top technicality and lack of memorable solos do not make an album... but let's also mention the fact that I've always felt that slam death lacked structure. Unlike these guys, which show me that if this is "slam death" than I'm wrong. In all honesty, I hear melodies on this album that remind me of Kataklysm and there are some interesting ideas (including a solo by Suffocation's Terrance Hobbs - at least they cared enough to put solos on the disc!) put forth on the album. Even though the style of the release is the same, I'm getting variation in each and every song which stops every track from sounding the same. While core breakdowns do exist, I certainly don't mind them on this album and they actually seem to further "slam" certain vocal techniques into your skull. There is only one problem I have with this disc, and it is in the closer. Again, I feel that in this age of digital music, hidden bonus tracks in between silence seem archaic and unnatural. When you had the physical disc and it kept playing to denote a hidden bonus track, that was pretty cool. But in all honesty, those days are long gone, gone like my high school years. As a matter of fact, I see the CD format of music to fade out completely in the next five to ten years, the same way that physical books (sighs) will soon fade out to electronic books... err... pad devices.
Honestly, I liked each and every track on this disc. They all "killed" so to speak and I would certainly recommend it to others. This is just the kind of thing I expect to hear from brutal death metal and even though there are breakdowns, they help to enhance the devastation. Definitely worth checking out. Maybe we'll get another release in fourteen more years! If we're all still alive by then...
Highlights: All (11 Tracks, 40:00)
Deus Otiosus - Godless (PR2012) - This is the sophomore release from Danish Old School death metallers, Deus Otiosus, but it also features some influence from black and thrash metal. Whatever the case, this disc is great and totally unexpected. Songs like "Snakes Of The Low 5:00" and " In Harm's Way 4:31" are beautifully vile, with thrashing drums and guitars, deep growls and plenty of structure. I also like the little intricacies that the band throws in. The guitar work on this one is great, I think it really shines well throughout the whole package and keeps this from being a bland death metal release. The band also plays much slower material like "New Dawn 6:06" and "Cast From Heaven 5:14" which at times does creep up a get a little heavier. But despite what this band does, it shouldn't bore you. These gentlemen are especially talented, using every facet of their skill to craft an album that you won't soon forget. They could have made just another death metal album, but they didn't. The intricate melodies and impressive drumwork help to define this release, and the solos are fucking great when used. It's still melodic death metal, and plays with black and thrash to an extent that it changes up everything. But I have to especially mention the closer, "Death Dance 5:41." which does have folk influence, something you might not expect for album of this type; even though it is still a death metal track.
That's just the kind of material that you can expect from a band like this though, who tries their hardest to make every song sound completely unique, worthwhile, and different from the rest of the material. Definitely worth picking up on the 20th of November.
(8 Tracks 41:00)
Paroxsihzem - Paroxsihzem (PR2012) - First off, I have no idea how to pronounce the name of this album, and I know nothing about the band. But I do know that this atmospheric death metal project is worth checking out. While a little low in quality, the disc is certainly both mysterious and ravenous in nature, and in all honesty it felt a little calming to my nerves. I was having a rather stressful day at work and as I normally go down the list of promos on my mp3 player, I had recently listened to the first track on this one before turning it off. When I resumed it inside the tool area stockroom, a sense of calm begin to wash over me. Maybe because I was getting all of my frustration out subconsciously. I literally had a stress headache and was extremely close to quitting. As I said, this is amorphous death metal, I could compare it to a sort of ebon cloud of music that snakes through the brainwaves and effects the subconscious (certainly.) I believe it's the way the guitars sound in the mix, a little stuffy, but it oddly works for the project. The drums and guitars sort of mix together and normally, while I'd hate this, again - I stress that this works. If you think of it as an atmosphere, which denotes the feeling of the band photo; it works well together. Just note that while this calmed my nerves, it was only because I was on my last one. I wouldn't recommend this before meditation or anything of that sort. But it is a meditation of sorts, a nebulous meditation of extremity and death metal. I can't call it brooding, because it's not about building the atmosphere, it is the atmosphere.
Definitely worth checking out.
(7 Tracks 38:00)
Plutonian Shore/A Transylvanian Funeral - Alchemical Manifestations (PR2012) - This split (and I don't get too many of these) is from two black metal bands called Plutonian Shore and A Transylvanian Funeral. While I like the grim and melodic black metal of Plutonian Shore, (and the name) I must say that I wish I could hear it a bit better. The quality on the disc is slightly raw, but there's some synth use and the melodies are about as strong as any melodic black melodies I've heard. Both "A Thousand Eyes 3:56" and "The Beast And The Mirror 5:01" are great tracks, but what I really liked was the band's interpretation of Rotting Christ's "The Fifth Illusion 5:32." This originally opens up "Theogonia" and they decided to make it a little blacker and less theatrical. Two live tracks follow, "Consecrating The Flesh 2:56" which in all honesty is a little slow and melodic for black metal; and the much harder to hear "Path To Amenti 3:55" which are strong, and would be stronger if I could hear them. Plutonian Shore is a strong band for sure, but I would like to fucking be able to hear them better.
Now we have the one man project, A Transylvanian Funeral who comes packed with five tracks, but a performance that is one minute longer than Plutonian Shore's performance. I also like that I can hear his vocals and the drums better even though the guitars sound muffled. Guest vocals on opener "The Supreme Ritual Of Transmutation 5:26" are performed by none other than The Great Beast 666, Aleister Crowley and I can honestly say that melodic black metal fits his soft vocals perfectly. But it's "Night Hags 6:29" that really had me banging my head. There's just something about the drum work here that I like. Though it's simplistic, it's effective. I will not even lie to you, I enjoyed the living fuck out of this one and can't wait to hear more from this guy, especially since I can actually hear him. There's also the seven minute masterpiece, "Moonchild 7:06" which I fucking also loved immensely. It reminded me of those first two Krallice albums in terms of melody and atmosphere. Finally, we have "Light Cast Out 5:33" which is a little lower in quality, but still effective.
Ultimately, I preferred A Transylvanian Funeral over Plutonian Shore, but both bands performed well on this split. They're both great melodic black metallers, and I'd like to hear more from both of them. If you like melodic black metal that's grim as living fuck, you'll like this stuff too, hopefully. It's available on CD, TAPE, or DIGITAL. So go check it out now!
(10 Tracks, 47:00) Plutonian Shore - 23:00, A Transylvanian Funeral - 24:00
Sparrows - Mark Of The Beast: Indoctrination (PR2012) - This 21 minute disc flew right by me, and I didn't even notice it the first time, so I'm going to take another listen to it. As of right now, I'm hearing something that reminds me of black metal in the vocals, but it's not black metal. I would certainly consider a type of modern melodic death metal, which isn't a bad thing - it just has elements of modern music. At times, the band sounds like a sort of grim black metal, and there are also some deathcore moments in the mix. In all honesty, maybe I could call it melodic blackened deathcore. But whatever it is, it's certainly uniqe and will appeal to fans who actually don't like deathcore. Come on folks, you can't deny some of those riffs. Listen to the leads on "Cellar Of The Damned 4:58" and the demon-like shriek that comes out of the band's frontman. You can't honestly tell me that it isn't the least bit intriguing. There's bits of prog, djent, core and everything else on this one - not only that, sometime the frontman uses a ghastly sort of gurgle for some spoken parts on the album. It might sound like I'm confused at what to call this disc, but that's because it's the physical equivalent of taking most metal genres and throwing them in a bag, and then shaking it up and pouring it out. In all honesty, what these guys can do in a little more than twenty minutes is interesting. I'd certainly like to see what they could do with a full hour. I was told that the distribution is really trying to get a name for these guys and they need it. This isn't just market-speak, folks. This is actually some really interesting shit which is all over the goddamned place and is pretty goddamned fierce. If you can't even stand one lick of core or djent, then don't fuck with it. But if you can just open you mind for just a few minutes, you might find at least one or two really great tracks here.
This really sounds like the kind of band that's going to blow up big in the next couple of years. That's my honest opinion.
(6 Tracks, 21:00)
Manticore - Behold The Ascension Of The Execrated (PR2012) - These guys like to play death and not write a whole hell of a lot about it, apparently. It just says that the album is a "brand new 2012 release from Cleveland's masters of bestial black/death metal." Alright, that seems to be enough. But at any rate, the disc sounds decent enough, a little scratchy and I can definitely hear the static, but I like the vocal approach. The band mixes faster tracks like opener "Behold The Ascension Of The Execrated 3:50" with slower tracks like "From The Darkness Below 2:52" and "Torn Apart By Hate 3:48." Of course, what really got a chuckle out of me was "In Nomine Sathanas 4:22" which is more than likely a cover from Mayhem, Darkthrone, one of those bands (but I'm still listening to old discographies so give me a break folks) as it sounds a little old-school and can be easily parodied, and probably has been. This is my favorite track on the disc in all honesty, but "Filth Upon Filth 1:12" also seems to do something for me, despite that I usually don 't like short songs.
The band does a good enough job, but I don't think it's the greatest album I've ever heard in my entire life. Would I encourage you to get it? Well, not really. But go check out their version of "In Nomine Sathanas" at any rate. I'm sure there's people out there who'll like it, but I'm just not hearing anything really good other than the scowls here. That guy's a great scowler.
(9 Tracks, 30:00)
Oliver Kaah - Antigravity (2012) - Oliver Kaah's music was a product that I had stumbled upon while browsing the infinite sea of music available on music promotion websites. The genre of the music was described as black "electro-metal" and having personal experience with this genre first hand, (even though LeakID didn't seem to like my self-produced Ebon Etheric discs - apparently they own the rights to the FL Samples?) I definitely thought about checking it out. The disc is exactly how you'd expect, yet it's also how you might not expect as it's very diverse, albeit never swaying from the nature of being electronic metal, even if it's not all black metal. "Reactor 2:36" certainly opens the disc on a black metal note, but that note flies into a more trance-influenced track called "Filter 3:16" which comes complete with black metal vocals and eerie electronics as well as garbled guitar and some djent riffs. However, "Mechanics 4:04" becomes something much more different, with it's use of what sounds like bells and a clean vocal that is a bit hard to stomach at first, (but easier on "IO 4:36") but lets loose into a strong black metal scowl. It's an odd mix, but it works.
Speaking of "IO 4:36" it's one of the more diverse tracks on the disc, starting out with a clap track and a riff and vocal harmony that certainly reminds me of Devin Townsend. This is actually a really great track, it's catchy and it will get stuck in your head. But black metal influence creeps up later into the track, even though it still keeps it's rather jaunty nature. "Alchemist 3:49" comes next, with even more apparent Devin Townsend influence that opens up into something I'd have to compare between Emperor and Devin Townsend for sure. It's certainly got a sort of circus like nature, but is balanced by the chants - this is one of those songs that you won't easily forget and it shows a great deal of promise.
"Machine 2:13" starts up just like a machine with all sorts of effects that lead up into a riff, which definitely piles into black metal. It's a little short and I wish more was done to it, but it definitely further cements this guy's work as being something worth keeping my eye on. A light instrumental follows "Eries Icca Nob If 0:49" and this brings us into "In The Blur Of Rain 4:50" which continues the machine's buzzing and cracking into the heavy riffs that start the track. But it continues into a dreamy nature that I wish has stronger clean vocals. The musical effort is there, but I'm not sure if the clean vocals are yet. But make no mistake, Oliver Kaah is a master musician and his ability to transmutate songs is uncanny. Take "After The Rain 3:20" for example. What starts out with piano and rain envelops into fierce black metal and some beautiful melodies which the vocal harmonies do accentuate on this one. "Nap Re-Tep 5:37" is a much calmer track devoid of any black metal nature, but it comes packed with some good electronics and a harmonic vocal atmosphere. Maybe the clean aren't quite there yet, but it's hard to deny just what this man can do with his voice. The atmosphere of this one might fall into a portion of dub-step, but I can forgive it here. It's much more accentuated with the light melodies in the background. You'll hear wub-wub, but you'll hear something else that makes it actually sound feasible in the word of legitimate, non-corporate electronic music.
"The Spaceship 5:13" brings us back into the heavy, but in an interesting sort of way that has the synthesizers blazing away at full speed. The song lightens itself a little, but then cranks up into some of the most electronic synth-laden black metal that I've heard. Happy black metal with fierce scowls? Works for me. "Artificial 5:02" goes back to the melodic riffs and harmonies ala Devin Townsend and even though black metal heaviness creeps back up, the nature of the song retains itself, still ready to transform at a moment's notice. "Diagnosis 3:24" is a much slower natured song, with full on acoustics and "there's a whole lot of shakin' goin on" but it works to build the almost shamanic nature of the piece. In an album which is so inorganic, this track feels truly organic. But the end of the disc follows this into a transitive state called "Hypnos 4:02" which shows that Oliver Kaah has the ability to pull off many different soundscapes within 52 minutes of play time.
Oliver Kaah's electronic tinged black metal with Devin Townsend style theatrics and atmospheres might not appeal to everyone, but you can bet that there's an audience for it. It is actually difficult to go through this album in just a few paragraphs, because each and every track offers a surprise. There's so much ground covered here that it's something of a mad scientist and reminds me of my own ideas, (what I wanted Shards and The Ritual And The Murder to be) except that there are real instruments on this one.
I highly recommend it. From first listen, I knew this was something different - so I knew that I had to get a review and interview up for this one. It's as interesting as it is mysterious, and that's the kind of musical work of art that I respect.
Highlights: Reactor, Filter, IO, Alchemist, Machine, In The Blur Of Rain, Nap Re-Tap, Spaceship, Artificial, Diagnosis, Hypnos (14 Tracks, 52:00)
The Sword - Apocryphon (2012) - The Sword are back, with their fourth album "Apocryphon" which is loosely based on what the band considers to be "arcane knowledge from the Bible." In simplest terms, it's a collection of books that the church thought was too heretical or too "dangerous" for people to read. Interesting, eh? But this is old news to me. At any rate, the music on the disc is just as you'd expect from the band, occult laden doom metal in the vein of Black Sabbath. The majority of the songs on the album are in this vein, with the exception of a few. Don't worry, you'll definitely get your thunderous riffs on this one, and your classic rock melodies and solos. It's all here. It's all just as good as it's been, and the production quality helps it to standout even better. I can really hear the drums pound, the guitars thump and the vocals howl. What fucking else do I need from a traditional doom record?
Well, the band thought they'd give me a little more anyway; so there's "The Hidden Masters 4:49" which changes the tempo up a little, "Dying Earth" which is just a little faster, (but doesn't thrash - because they don't like mosh pits, remember that) and the folk song nature of "Execrator 2:46" which is probably one of my favorite songs on the disc. We've also got "Hawks & Serpents 4:31" which definitely shows it's roots in classic rock, and finally we have the electronic influence of closer "Apocryphon." But don't think that these don't go together, because they do and it works. I consider it more of a nod to trippy prog rock, personally, which was definitely an influence on this album. In a way, "Apocryphon" is a tribute to the band's influences, and in many ways a namesake album for the band. Nothing was done wrong here, and everything was done right. I found my head banging to each and every track on the disc, and I certainly played air guitar along with some of it's solos (but some of them are shorter than I'd like.) This is what a band sounds like when the chemistry is perfect, and it definitely portrayed the arcane elements that the album is based around. While it's not a concept, many of the tracks do tie together. If you want, I guess you can study the lyrics and then the books that spawned them.
Or you can just jam the fuck out to the album. That works for me. The limited edition of the disc contains a cover of ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses" and I definitely recommend you check that out because I haven't been able to hear it yet. But being a fan of the original, I'd sure like to hear their take on it.
Highlights: All (10 Tracks, 44:00)
Daylight Dies - A Frail Becoming (2012) - As I look at the cover for the new album, I see what either looks like a snake or a rope on the front cover. It's certainly phallic, whatever the case. Oh, and dark... like a metaphor for Uncle Fred coming into your room and middle of the night and... (coughs.)
But seriously, this cover does match Daylight Dies at what they do best; making death/doom metal that still matters. Or does it? Sure, the disc pops with the opener, "Infidel 5:20" and it's killer melodies that remind me of Rapture, but I think those guys did this style of music much better. This album does have some comparisons to their first (and I still say their best) release, and that's in the fact that some atmosphere is built on the album and some definite riff structures are used. The only problem I have with this album, is that it just doesn't sound genuine. The dreary melodies and harsh vocals are something that we've heard so many times before, and at this point; I think I'm going to need more than just really good guitar solos in sections to sell me on this one. The new Fall Of Every Season is due to come out soon, and I just don't know if these guys are going to be competition for those death/doom masters. There are a lot of expectable acoustic beginnings that go into death/doom tracks with solos. As a matter of fact, the instrumental "Ghosting 4:49" might as well just be called "Good Guitar Solo" and "Water's Edge 1:33" is ultimately forgettable.
That being said, the disc is far from terrible. It's a decent enough doom/death disc, but I've heard so many just like it that I'm really just kind of like, "meh" it's okay. If you like doom/death, it's good for melodies and overall dreary atmosphere laden with heavy riffs and fierce vocals. Some parts of it are even dreamy. But I think that I want more from my doom and this disc just didn't cut it for me. I thought the band had a much stronger sense of raw emotion in their earlier years, and this sounds like manufactured emotion.
I'm just not feeling the sorrow, guys. That's not a good thing. When I hear doom, I want it to feel like someone's shoving sharp pins into my eyes. This disc just isn't able to convey that feeling of despair to me. The songs all seem to sound the same.
Highlights: Infidel, The Pale Approach, Sunset, Ghosting, Hold On To Nothing
(9 Tracks, 48:00)