Monday, January 7, 2013
Week 70 (Janurary 7th, 2013)
The debut release from the melo-death supergroup SKINEATER is exactly what I was looking for in the genre. All fans of melo-death should readily embrace this, and deserve a claw hammer to the face if they feel otherwise. The band is composed of past and present members of IN THY DREAMS, DARK FUNERAL, CARNAL FORGE, DEFLESHED, SPORTLOV, RAISED FIST and THE MARY MAJOR, so you should know what to expect - or maybe not. After all, this band certainly doesn't sound like any of those that I've named and treads through as it's own melodically brutal beast. Jorgen Strom's (THE MARY MAJOR) vocals are the fucking butter to the bread here, as his demonic growls seem to make even the most-hearted lighted riffs seem devious - and that's when I begin to smile with glee. Catchy riffs and bombastic solos fill the disc with tracks that are sure to play in your head for hours at a time. Add to this Matte Modin's (DARK FUNERAL/DEFLESHED) intricate drum work, and you've got a disc that starts off the new year right. Fans of BLOODBATH, GRAVE, HYPOCRISY, UNLEASHED, CARNAL FORGE, GOD DETHRONED, CANNIBAL CORPSE, MORBID ANGEL and others in that vein should certainly find something to like in this disc, and if they don't, then I'll once again reiterate the fact that a well-placed claw hammer to the face would be necessary. This is, as far as I'm concerned; the textbook definition of melodic death metal and is an uncanny debut. There is nothing more to say, other than to get this this album in your hands as soon as it becomes available.
Noosphera - Echoes Of Life EP (2012 Band Request) - This band posted a link to a download of their free EP right on my facebook page, drawing my immediate attention. So the first thing I thought was "Well, these guys obviously want me to review them, so I'll do that." The disc contains three tracks and is considered to be trance metal, which I can certainly tell by the electronic influences. But what I like about this disc, is how each track is different from the others. Opener "Humanity 4:40" has a female vocal imprint backed with electronic synths and a scowl vocal style comparable to Blood Stain Child. There are some certain elements of modern metal here, but it is supposed to be a modern approach; so I expect that.
"Pyramids & Androids 5:44" comes next, with it's decidedly more death metal approach, complete with some Egyptian rhythms and a great heavy vocal/light vocal chorus. I never tire of these, and it when it works, it almost makes me forget the dubstep portion of the track. Yeah, it's there and they've gotten some rash comments about it. But it's not long, and it goes back to the more interesting core of the song. Even though dubstep is used here, this song really kills and the instrumental solo portions of the track show me that this is a band brimming with talent. If people aren't catching on yet, they never will. This is the kind of music I'm looking for and when it finds me (instead of me finding it) that's an even bigger plus. So interesting bands, send me your albums! (Just not all at once. I'm still trying to get through a crowded MP3 Player full of material, and I just had to hear my female-fronted Japanese power metal in the form of Light Bringer before I got to any promos. So I apologize!)
"Echoes Of Life 5:48" is the disc's closer, which comes in with more groove and features a background guttural. The female vocals are still used, but they work well when used and are not overblown on the album. It's actually a duet male/female clean chorus backed with piano and electronics, giving it an electronic gothic melo-death feel and it works for me. The female vocals carry out the last of the chorus, as the guitar solo serenades us out with some added vocalizing. But guess what? It all works.
Seriously, this is great music. These guys are just giving this away for free and despite the dubstep portion, (the song it was used in, is still a good song) there is some promising material here. Definitely helps if you like electronic metal because there's quite a bit of electronics here; but these guys thunder a good bit and don't rely on female vocals to power them through. It's definitely heavy, yet melodic at the same time. A good mix and a stunning debut.
Expect more from these guys in the future. I will.
(3 Tracks, 16:00)
Corsair - Corsair (PR2013) - Corsair comes in like a breath of fresh air. They're no pummelers by a longshot, but they certainly remind me of acts like The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Iron Maiden, CKY and even Dinosaur JR in terms of progressive rock/metal atmospheres. The album sounds like it was recorded back in the 80's, but it sounds like it would've stood the test of time in the 80's as well. These guys are great. There's a serious charm to their music that makes it just a joy to listen to. It's not a very long disc, but "Chaemera 3:49", "Gryphon Wing 6:18" and the instrumental "Mach 3:46" are certainly worth checking out. The band might be a little on the softer side of things, but they showcase on each one of these songs the simple fact that they can play and play well. Fans of Thin Lizzy and King Crimson should certainly enjoy these Virginians, who've unleashed a terrific debut album.
I get pounded with death metal most of the time, so it's good to hear something a little more lighthearted and classic. The vocals are most certainly clean the whole way through, (and even female vocals are implemented on the dreamy closer "The Desert 5:52") but even though the frontman has a youthful vocal that might fit well in bands like Trivium, the atmospheres on the disc make the whole experience worthwhile. There's certainly some trippy stuff here, so you might want to listen to this while under the effect of "medicine." Also, I'd recommend listening to this one in some really good headphones, so that you're surrounded by the music and can fully absorb the atmospheres that these guys have to offer.
I think we're about to hear much more from them in the future.
Highlights: Chaemera, Gryphon Wing, Mach, Of Kings And Cowards, The Desert
(8 Tracks, 37:00)
Beyond Mortal Dreams - Dreaming Death EP (PR2012) - For a band who's been around since 1995 and has had several incarnations, these guys show a ton of promise on this little EP. But make no mistake! Despite the fact that this disc is little, it's filled with the spawn of vile hatred and it does a damned good job of showing that off. I would certainly recommend this one to fans of Incantation and think that it might even be better than Incantation's latest one! So sorry for not getting this one to you all sooner.
But instead of groveling on my hands and knees about how much of a fuckup I am for not covering this one sooner (even though you'd probably love to hear it) I'm going to explain the disc. It's four tracks and one of them is a Beherit cover of "Beast Of Damnation 3:17." But even so, everything on this little EP is fucking grand. Doomsayer's vocals are foreboding, menacing - he doesn't play the Corpsegrinder route like so many others. It's much slower and works extremely well with the music. But Doomsayer also plays rhythm, bass and synths and manages to perform well in those areas too. Bloodspawn plays the lead and rhythm which includes solos that slay like the very best of Deicide and Morbid Angel. As for the skinsman, Maleficus - well, that guy can play the shit out of the drums and really brings the power on this album. This is exactly what you want to hear in death metal - and in only 18 minutes, this disc delivers better than some full albums I've heard. If these guys can take 18 minutes and turn it into this, then I'd like to see what they could do with 40 minutes, or even a hour's worth of music.
Promising? Fuck promising. This is tried and true death metal from a band that you've probably never even heard of - but hopefully you'll get off your asses and check it out now.
But the band wants your corpse to rattle, so they decided to let you stream "Feast Of Carrion" and "The Filth Of Their God" as well as the full "From Hell" (which I haven't heard yet and will now be checking out (grins) album exclusively at their bandcamp page:
Everything on this disc is nothing less of fucking awesome. Even the Beherit cover. Keep your eyes on these guys. I fucking will.
Highlights: All (4 Tracks, 18:00)
10/10 (Yes, I realize it's only an EP. But it fucking kills.)
Corpus Mortale - Fleshcraft (PR2013) - I'm not familiar with these guys, but after hearing this one I can't find too many reasons to want to get familiar with them. Corpus Mortale is a death metal band with an awesome drummer. There are certainly some good riffs here and there as well, and you certainly will get your vocal gravel; but I don't hear anything else. While there's certain structure here and some eerie melodies, I'm not hearing anything that really jumps out at me.
I've got to be brutally honest, this is solid death metal but not much else. It's worth checking out but won't leave any lasting impressions on you. There are some solos on the record as well, but again - nothing worth writing home about. However, fans of groove will certainly find something to like here as the disc most certainly delivers in that department. It's also a pummeler, which means there are no dull moments and nothing less than a forty minute beating. Corpus Mortale did a great job at crafting a solid death metal disc, but I'll repeat myself once again and say that it's a solid attempt that should only appeal to the most hardcore of death metal fanatics, despite the core and technical elements that appear at times on the disc.
If I would describe this album as a weapon, I'd describe it as a rusty axe. But it's still useful, and perhaps this rusty old axe will serve you against the oncoming zombie hordes. Could be sharper, but it'll do the trick.
(10 Tracks, 41:00)
Nervochaos - To The Death (PR2013) - These guys have been out since 96 and their latest offering proves to be just as strong as anything else in their catalog. The riffs are strong, the solos sound classic and the vocals are full of spite. The quality of the recording is a little low, so you'll have to turn it up a bit; but it's certainly worth it, as I enjoyed this album's catchy death metal much more than the band I reviewed previously (Corpus Mortale.) I was actually listening to both albums back to back on my MP3 player and when these switched over, I wasn't aware and had to check to see that I had just about listened to this entire album and was immensely enjoying it.
There's just something about this band I like, but I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's the riffs or the vocals that really stand out to me - but it could be again, that the damn thing is just catchy. Some of you might find it all too simplistic, but when I hear a vocal approach as strong as this, it really does enhance the experience for me. The band certainly draws on lots of old school thrash and death metal, so fans of those old school genre-takes will certainly like this. Of course, my personal favorite track on this one is "Warlords Unbound 3:59" which I could listen to much more than once, to be blunt. The disc offers a variety of classic extreme metal and I'm pretty sure that more than a few people are going to check it out. Well, they should. It perked my ears up and that should say something.
There's plenty of great classic death metal here, so pick it up. And go check out these guys live. They've played with everyone from Cannibal Corpse to Agnostic Front to Mayhem to fucking Venom. I'm almost certain that these guys are going to be much better in person than on this disc!
Also grab the "Live Rituals (2011)" disc for a disc of live material. You can't beat that, eh? Yeah, I know... you can just "youtube" a fucking show. But that's not like being there, feeling the amps and getting the full experience. Go see them live for REAL!
(13 Tracks, 42:00)
Ulcer - Grant Us Death (PR2013) - The death metal band Ulcer (comically labeled as Blues) has this time moved into a new direction of "ancient Swedish death metal." Jeez, thanks guys for making me feel old. I remember it when it wasn't so ancient. That was only like... alright, so it's not important how fucking long ago it was since there was Swedish death metal. (Back creaks.) At any rate, Ulcer comes on incredibly strong, and with a noticeable fuzzy bass. I don't know how people are going to take to this fuzz on the bass, but it does sort of work for the album. The vocals are delivered with extreme prejudice towards every living thing, and the guitar solos snake their way throughout the songs, only adding to the raucous drum assault that follows most of the album. While comparing this to other Swedish death metal stalwarts like Revolting is gonna be tough; it's certainly a capable Swedish death metal disc with moments of experimentation. Take "The Love Song 4:44" for instance, where you'll hear some sullen clean vocal (I'd call it a dirty vocal) that follows up into death metal rage and some killer melodies.
The album is certainly as catchy and eerie as one would expect from the horror drenched melodies of Swedish death metal, and should certainly be well received. The band say that fans of Entombed, Nihilist, Repugnant, Autopsy and others in that vein will love this disc, but I'd also throw in Revolting, Bloodbath, Skineater, Unleashed and tons of older shit that I just can't recall at the moment. Let's talk about the melody on "Thanatoeuphoria 3:59" which has riff melody that you certainly must hear and some odd vocal ideas that might come off as comical. It sounds like someone's being strangled at one point.
Of course, I'm also going to mention "My Lord Has Horns 5:14" because it comes off as a fucking classic and works well with that title. This one might even become a live staple - it just reeks of fucking greatness, but it should have ended the album. That's where I have to take points off though, and I'm sad to do so but I just can't forgive the waste of recording time that makes up the disc's actual closer "When Horror Comes 2:39." It sounds like the frontman is reading Poe while some foreboding riffs are playing. It makes a decent atmosphere, but they got carried away with it and it winds up sounding like a mash of ideas. The intention was an outro, something dark and poetic; but the yelling portions really don't work and kill the atmosphere. If it had remained a foreboding atmosphere with louder clean vocals doing the reading (with some sinister effects/sounds in the background) it would have come off as much more ominous. How about reading the selection while the sounds of hundreds of people are being tortured or killed in the background? That would've come off as devious, a worthy end to a great release.
Other than that, the disc is certainly strong and a treat for fans of Swedish death metal fans. But the year has only begun and there are far more to come...
Highlights: Grant Us Death, Devilspeed, The Love Song, Godcremation, Thanatoeuphoria, Devitalized, The Pact, My Lord Has Horns (10 Tracks, 42:00)
Sonic Reign - Monument In Black (PR2013) - Though I've not heard any of the band's previous albums, the press release information tells me that the band is for fans of Dark Fortress, Satyricon(Later Era) and Secrets Of The Moon. These are three of my top favorite black metal acts, and if you didn't know that already; my recent reviews of their albums will state that fact.
The disc comes in loud and furious with "Abhorrence Vs. Scum 5:57" reminding greatly of Satyricon's "Volcano" or "Now, Diabolical" album, which are some of my personal favorites. Yet I can also hear the Dark Fortress influence, reminding me of "Eidolon." Yes, this is the kind of modern sounding black metal that is rife with frostbitten riffs, frantic drums and thick scowls amidst slight moments of grim atmosphere. It's certainly got it's occasions of thrash and comes forth with a sort of misanthropic force that makes me smile with glee. The material is well structured, but probably of a much higher sound quality than some people would like. There are also some who might feel that many of the songs on the disc sound of the same caliber, not really differentiating from the pattern as much as Secrets Of The Moon have as of late.
Nonetheless, all seven of these tracks bubble with the chaos and negativity of black metal culminating with the closer "Soul Flagellation 7:50" which may sound more to the liking of those who prefer traditional black metal. But as far as I'm concerned, I love each and every fucking minute of this disc; even though some might be quick to use the term "Satyricon knockoff" after hearing just the first few minutes of this album. Though if one keeps listening, they will certainly hear moments of dark melody, foreboding atmosphere, and some worthy moments of guitar wizardry. Yes, this album does contain several well-written solos which help to enhance the work even more.
Definitely one of my favorite black metal discs thus far, but the year has only begun. Regardless of that, I still recommend that you pick up this album if you are indeed a fan of Satyricon, Secrets Of The Moon and Dark Fortress. Because I am most certainly a hardcore fan of these acts and this band spoke to me in that same language.
Highlights: All (7 Tracks, 45:00)
Polluted Inheritance - Ecocide (PR2013) - These death metallers from the Netherlands certainly have something to offer with their mix of raw technical death metal that sort of reminds me of a mix of Suffocation and technical era Death. The quality of the disc is of a low but audible production, with the cymbals ringing in my ears, the drums delivering a vicious but calculated assault, and the riffs bellowing out in a quite technical manner. The gravelly vocals of the frontman certainly match the tone of the music well, and the solos that appear on the album are rather short but play along the lines of oddity rather than what would consider to be a traditional solo. The music is very much of a technical experimentation like that of early Cynic or Athiest, but instead of everything being of a high produced (though one might say over-produced) caliber; the album sounds like a technical death metal disc that might have been made in death metal's heyday. There are also no core elements, nor any clean singing to be found on this disc that should certainly sit well with old heads as well as the new.
Simply put, it's calculated destruction of an old-school caliber. I certainly recommend it; especially at full volume blaring into your ears by means of headphones or earbuds. Some of these guys are also quite young, the music is highly evolved for musicians of this age; yet I've no doubt that these guys are full of the vigor of youth and could probably tear the roof off of any club or venue that they'll play in. If you get a chance to see these guys live, definitely do so.
Highlights: All (A very good album) (11 Tracks, 39:00)
Ancient VVisdom - Deathlike (PR2013) - First of all, this isn't metal at all and it was a band that I was commissioned to interview for Hails & Horns magazine. I completed the interview, (and you will see it soon, possibly closer to the time of the release of the album) but I will now review the promo that I have for that interview. The disc is very much one of dark rock, and there is certain influence from Alice In Chains, HIM and softer Marilyn Manson. I could also say that bands like Lacrimas Profundere and possibly darkwave like Audra and "Scarecrow" era Black Tape For A Blue Girl are very much in the same realm as this. Though there is some electric guitar influence in a few parts of this album, it sounds very much like it would be fitting in a small dark club with a tiny crowd of people dressed as if they were about to mourn the dead.
Though there are some certain show stoppers on the album, like the title track, "Deathlike 4:45" which contains a rather compelling vocal performance and should certainly be used as a single. If these guys aren't planning to make a video out of this one, they should fire their manager. Trust me, get this track out to the masses and you'll have instant fans. If the radio got hold of this, it would certainly be in constant rotation. But after that, the disc starts to fall apart. The gothic nature of the album might appeal to some still, but I'm hearing some very weak tracks and the vocals don't seem to hit as hard on tracks like "Far Beyond Good & Evil 4:47" and "Look Alive 1:58" and "Waiting To Die 4:06" which seem to capitalize on a new type of darkwave/emo which makes me want to choke myself to death. Sandwiched in there is a track called "Rebirth 3:04" which actually has some merit though.
Closer to the end of the disc, there's a wonderful blues piece called "Last Man On Earth 2:16" which is too damned short, and too damned interesting to be that short. They should have made an entire album like this and I'm sure that there are fans will agree. This is another track that should be a single/video/used in some horror film or popular television series like HBO's True Blood. But here I am making marketing decisions. Good marketing decisions.
Electric guitar influence will come back in "Never Live Again 4:43" which seems to be an edgier goth rock track that should appeal to some people. This one makes me think of "Mechanical Animals" era Manson. Again, another good single for the disc. Finally, we have the closer of the album "Here Is The Grave 4:35" which is a very strong closer, one of the strongest songs on the disc backed with electric guitar, but still sounding very ritualistic in nature.
Though the album has it's holes, it's certainly got plenty of strong material that is ultimately catchy. These guys will certainly amass a truckload of face-painted fans with this material and might usher in another age of goth. But I'm not so sure if we need another one of those, especially with the onslaught of the new trends brought on by "The Host" and "Beautiful Creatures" which will start a new trend among our youth with the belief that they're aliens, and/or the revival or witchcraft. Yes, I said the revival - as in people will walk around jingling their hands in attempt to cast spells. (Some of the more devious variety might even "sucker" these new initiates.)
At any rate, this album is about death. It's quite apparent from the reaper on the cover and the subject matter. It's "goth" in and out, even if they didn't want it to be. This is what you call a stripped down "goth-rock album." And I know, because I've heard a ton of them.
The question is... will it work?
Highlights: Deathlike, Last Man On Earth, Never Live Again, Here Is The Grave (12 Tracks, 40:00)
Holy Grail - Ride The Void (PR2013) - When I first heard this album, I'll admit that I didn't care for it. The mixture of power metal and core left an extremely sour taste in my mouth. To be blunt, this is what you call modern Trivium and Dragonforce influenced power metal, so we might as well call it "modern power metal." I will admit that there are a few good tracks on this album though, but I can honestly say that I'd rather go back and listen to a "real power metal" act like Blind Guardian for example.
The band thunders along, adding elements of thrash with a very clean approach to sound and recording. This album seems very processed to me, it sounds very much like it would be for fans of Avenged Sevenfold then Helloween or Hammerfall. Not surprisingly though, the kids love it. (Slaps self in face.)
But back to what I was saying was good about the disc. There's a strong title track, "Ride The Void 4:42" which has a decent enough chorus and there's also "Crosswinds 4:18" which is decent enough as well. "Sleep of Virtue" is another strong track on this album, proving that these guys do have some staying power but they won't break you away from your power metal collection anytime soon. I'll also recommend "Silence The Scream 5:43" which has one of those epic power metal choruses that we all like. "The Great Artifice 3:59" however, thrashes again and again.
Though I have singled out a few tracks, (that follow near the end of the album) the disc is still going to have that Avenged Sevenfold quality of modern metalcore to it that some of you will immediately be turned off by at the very first sound of the album. I can guarantee with a stark accuracy that as soon as the intro fades into "Bestia Triumphans 6:03" some of you will just say "Fuck that. That's not metal, it's crap."
But for those of you who think that you can wade the waters of modernism just a little further, you might just be able to find a handful of tracks on this disc to suit your fancy. Realize that this disc was not marketed for the aged listener either, it was clearly marketed as "bringing back the classic sound to power metal to the kids who have grown up with Guitar Hero, emo and metalcore bands." It's more than likely not for you.
(13 Tracks, 55:00)
Screaming Savior - Infinity (2012 W/ Bonus Tracks) - Screaming Savior's new release is about to re-released on Metal Hell Records with an all new mastering, mix and added bonus tracks. What I am reviewing is the "name your own price" version of the album on bandcamp, which will have no bearing on the new product which I imagine will be a "pay their own price." At any rate, the version of the disc that I have is incredible, remarkable and definitely worth a purchase for fans of Sigh, Bal-Sagoth, Opeth, Cthonic, and Dimmu Borgir. That's the best way to describe it, and I promise that it's just as good as it sounds.
The band comes in hard and fast with heavy riffs, frantic drum blasts, demonic scowls and the like - but it's all backed by orchestral instrumentations which feature traditional Asian instruments as well as sweeping guitar melodies, moments of sure majesty and the inclusion of some acoustic and slightly erratic elements that even recall game music. The closer, "Across The Boundary Of Cosmos 5:41" reminds of the sort of electronic meets guitar music that was featured on the latter games in the Megaman X series, and the track features the inclusion of a digitized vocal comparable to Dimmu Borgir's "Puritania." Perhaps the ending of the disc is an odd place to describing it, but this closer is very well one of the disc's finest moments apart from the heavily Bal-Sagoth influenced "Ode To The Expedition 4:59" which I've already listened to quite a bit. it's easily one of the best "triumphant space marches" I've heard since Bal-Sagoth perfected the style long ago.
Let's also discuss "Wings Of The Vast Sea 6:02" which has a little more of that progressive death metal influence pioneered by bands like Opeth. Though it starts off like a symphonic black metal track, the mood changes into that of a slow and melodic style that reminds me heavily of Opeth, replete with clean vocals that are actually quite good. Not all the clean on this disc are perfect, but damn it; they really tried on this album and I'm quite impressed. Listen to the solo portion on "Ocean Of Asura 5:46" and tell me that I'm wrong. Do it, I dare you!
When I pick bands to interview, I look for some of the absolute best - maybe not what's in everyone else's musical stew; but what is certainly in mine. When I hear an act that literally takes my head off my shoulders with brilliance, I've simply got to get them out there. Screaming Savior is doing just that, with impressive melodies, mind-blowing musicianship, capable vocals and the ability to not fear the changing of musical styles during the album. When a disc like this transitions as much as it does, it means something. It means that the artists want to make an amazing album where each and every track has something new and different to offer.
I can only imagine how these guys would be on stage with a full live orchestra. Seeing "Ode To The Expedition 4:59" live in that fashion would be absolutely mind-blowing. You see, Bal-Sagoth was never that good live. I've seen very few of their live performances and the ones I have seen are not near as good as what was on the disc. However, this band might leave more of a mark paving a new way in the world of metal music, in the same way that bands like Sigh, Arcturus, The Kovenant, and Solefald have done. You never expect when you hear some amazing bands in your youth, that there might one day be a band who can incorporate everything from those bands that you ever found to be amazing.
The bonus tracks on this album are an orchestral version of "Ocean Of Asura 5:45" and a wonderful 8-bit version of "Across The Boundary Of The Cosmos 5:42." And yes, I am one to judge 8-bit music, as I am a huge fan of classic video game soundtracks and not just the popular ones that everyone knows. This is an absolute great representation of the track and well worth hearing. In all actuality, I could break it down and say that there's a stage portion and a mini-portion, followed by a boss portion on the track. Yes, I'm an old-school gamer and find this to be one of the best ideas for a bonus track ever.
I'd shit bricks if they included an 8-bit version of "Ode To The Expedition" on the new version of this album. At any rate, I'll keep guessing as to what those extra tracks will be.
I would certainly recommend this to fans of most of the bands that I've mentioned here, as it's a great disc available at whatever price you choose to pay for it. But if you'd rather wait, the new version of the album will come out in February and it will already be one of the year's best albums for me - without a shadow of a doubt. (Unless the mixing/mastering gets messed up somehow. Will have an update on the release as soon as it comes out, as I plan to purchase one for myself!)
Highlights: Star Of Fatality, Wings Of The Vast Sea, Nacha The Demon, ODE TO THE EXPEDITION, Curse The Dreamland, Across The Boundary Of Cosmos, Across The Boundary Of Cosmos (8-Bit Bonus Track)
(12 Tracks, 60:00)
The CNK - Révisionnisme (2012) - Now I've got to tell you. I've heard a lot of cover albums in my life, but few of them have been this interesting. The CNK (Cosa Nostra Klub) is an eccentric industrial black metal act from France that incorporates plenty of orchestral influence but keeps things still very metallic and militaristic in the same right. You might think it was quite natural for them to record a cover of Rammstein's "Weisses Fleish 4:10" (White Flesh), but might find it odd that they've also decided to cover Guns N' Roses "You Could Be Mine 5:39", The Beastie Boys "Sabotage 3:15" Motley Crue's "Too Fast For Love 3:42" and oddly enough, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Where The Wild Roses Grow 3:55" a sort of low water mark for the disc. But interesting enough, the disc opens with a medley of Gary Glitter covers called "Gadd Ist Gott 4:05" which opens and closes with a familiar American sports anthem.
Of course, there is also a cover of Slayer's "Seasons In The Abyss 6:24", Impaled Nazarene's "Blood Is Thicker Than Water 4:12" and amazingly, Emperor's "I Am The Black Wizards 5:27" which may piss off a few black metal heads who feel the song is untouchable. Of course I'll also mention that there are plenty of guests on the disc, in particular Snowy Shaw (I reviewed his Alive! disc for my quick list just a few days ago) who does the vocals on quite a few of these tracks. Believe it or not, the band tears up "You Could Be Mine 5:39" which features Snowy Shaw and Pills from Prime Minister. I had no idea Shaw could emulate Axl Rose's vocals. There's no word yet on what Axl will have to say about this version, but I consider it one of my favorite GNR tracks and they've certainly done it and the awesome James Cameron film (Terminator 2) that it first appeared in (as well as Use Your Illusion 1 &2 - these are my favorite 2 GNR discs, don't give me shit about it) justice. An absolute standout.
Other notable tracks are the black metal vocal meets rap version of "Sabotage", the much heavier Rammstein cover of "Weisses Fleish" which sounds very much like another day at the office for the band and "Seasons In The Abyss" which I recommend that every metal head checks out. This version of the track is very atmospheric, orchestral and extremely dark. Darker than when Slayer did it. Make no mistake, it's punishing and probably one of the best tracks the band has ever released. It might only scarcely resemble the original, but it truly classifies the true meaning of "taking a cover and making it your own." I think that Tom Kerry and the boys would be rather flattered by it, honestly. Shaw's vocals on the chorus isn't my cup of tea, I'll admit. He should have used a slightly harsher tone on that chorus.
There's also the cover of "Too Fast For Love 3:42" which is worth explaining in the fact that it's different but it's probably not going to be for everyone, (I'll admit that I've never heard a mix of symphonic industrial black metal and hair metal before) so just remember that. As I said, there's a very weak ballad of "Where The Wild Roses Grow." It's majestic and such, but I don't know how many people will actually enjoy this one. Sort of has a gothic nature to it, reminds me of some of Shaw's Notre Dame and less of The CNK. As for Leonard Cohen's cover of "Everybody Knows 5:20" I've never heard the original version of the track, but the extreme nature of the cover seems to work well and I love how the "everybody knows!" portion of the song is screamed with such vehemence.
Of course, everyone wants to know about the cover of Emperor's "I Am The Black Wizards 5:27" and I will say that it does have electronic influence and is a bit jumpier but definitely sticks to the original material. It's a very good rendition of a classic black metal track and definitely keeps the fury of the original. I'm still curious as to what Ihsahn would think, now that he's doing much of this experimental material himself.
The disc closes with another cover of Impaled Nazarene's "Blood Is Thicker Than Water", this time renamed to "Blood Is Thicker Than Snow 4:16." The difference is that Snowy Shaw is featured on this version, and it's a bit more beautiful and melodic than the original. Not personally my favorite track, but let's consider it an unnamed bonus to the disc.
All in all, The CNK and Shaw (as well as other guests) have worked together to make a wonderful cover album unlike I've never heard before. An unlikely team-up, but it all worked out well in the end and there is certainly some magic being made on this disc. Calling it a "Revision" seems to be just right. Fans of Shaw and The CNK will either love or hate this disc. But I am fond of both acts and certainly consider it one of 2012's best that slipped under the radar. Just like most interesting or unique albums tend to do.
There's nothing more to say. Give it a listen and see what you think.
Highlights: Gadd Ist Gott, Sabotage, You Could Be Mine, Everybody Knows, Blood Is Thicker Than Water, Seasons In The Abyss, Weisses Fleish, I Am The Black Wizards (11 Tracks, 50:03)
Saturnus - Saturn In Ascension (2012 W/ Bonus Track) - It's been a long time since we've heard from the death/doom masters, Saturnus. These guys were known for putting out masterpieces like 96's "Paradise Belongs To You" and "Martyre." The band's last album, "Veronika Decides To Die (2006)" however, wasn't one of my personal favorites. But I had no idea that it would be another six years before I would get a follow-up to that release.
But Saturn In Ascension is just the kind of follow-up that I wanted. It's morose, thunderous and majestic, filled with the same wonderful guitar melodies that made tracks like "Christ Goodbye" so memorable years ago. There are solos on this album and meaningful solos at that - solos that were spent a great deal of time on, solos that you can really feel; as well as guitar melodies that are just electrifying. My Dying Bride should take a note from these guys, as the gloom and gothic nature of this album turned out ultimately better and for good reason - the melody was there.
Yes, you will even have spoken words of gothic prose on this album, but they will flow well with the melodies and take you away into a realm of misery of despair. Atmospheres and captivating melody certainly make this every bit of that comeback album I was waiting for, with crisp production and the ability to really feel the riffs like never before. Technology is a marvel and to use it in such a way that allows me to absorb the wonderful guitar work on this disc is a damned good use of it, I'd say. As with a doom album of this nature, expect dreary acoustics and poetic prose in addition to the heavier moments, which certainly crown over My Dying Bride's attempt at the same thing. Of course, I hadn't expected to hear the female chanting on the back of "A Lonely Passage 5:21" but did certainly welcome it.
There is only one song on this disc that I absolutely despised, and that was "A Father's Providence 5:02" because it just came out horribly. What in the hell were they thinking with that vocal style? If that's a guest, he needs to not be on this album and try out for some beatdown hardcore band. I want to like the song for it's musicality and wonderful spoken pieces, but there is absolutely no muting that guy who seems to be attempting a vocal style that Nicholas Barker (Paradise Lost) attempted and succeeded with on a few PL albums. Please, leave it to Nicholas, guys. That vocal style ruined a perfectly good song.
But even despite that slight slip, we've still got a very powerful Saturnus record here that's worth checking out for all fans of doom/death metal. Though not as prolific as some bands in the genre, Saturnus do make it count when they record a new release and this one certainly seems them recharged with a new sense of energy and devotion to their music. Perhaps it was better that Veronika died, if only to make way for this monumental disc which is just as thunderous as it is melancholy.
If you've passed this one by for some odd and unknowable reason, now is the chance to go get it. However you folks do that nowadays.
Bonus Track: Included is "Limbs Of Crystal Clear 6:37" from the band's 1994 demo, which I haven't even heard before. Oddly enough, the band decided to not re-record the track and leave it as is - raw quality and all. In it, you'll get a feel for the very beginnings of Saturnus. It might have been mastered and cleaned up a little, but it's nothing amazing. But I will say that the band was a bit heavier in their old days.
Highlights: Litany Of Rain, Wind Torn, A Lonely Passage, Forest Of Insomnia, Between (9 Tracks, 74:00)
Destruction - Spiritual Genocide (2012 Special Edition) - Destruction's new disc seems to more of a 30th anniversary album for the band, if nothing else. Don't expect anything new on the disc; but if you're a die-hard thrasher the disc will give you just what you're looking for. There are some change-ups and it doesn't stay completely constant, but it is a thrash album with the majority of tracks in the range of 4 minutes.
For the most part, the disc is nothing but fast-paced, face-melting thrash metal and that's a good thing. There's no crap thrown around on here, it's just thrash. However, there are a few questionable parts as I've noted like on the slower title track, "Spiritual Genocide 3:39" and the odd intro to "To Dust You Will Decay 4:21."
Guests (like Tom Angelripper from Sodom) are featured on "Legacy Of The Past 4:50" which is a tribute to the majesty that is metal. If you can't already tell from the lyrics, there are many album titles used in them. Very easy to point out. I'll also talk about "Carnivore 4:28" which has that Venom mentality about a femme fatale. Yet I'm also wondering if it's a tribute to Pete Steele's old thrash band before Type O Negative of the same name? Being that this a metal tribute album, it would make perfect sense.
"Spiritual Genocide" is a great tribute to metal, but it doesn't really offer much from the band that we haven't heard before. Destruction certainly sound strong here, but it's nothing that we haven't heard from them before. I mean, face it - it's better than anything Metallica's done for quite a while as far as true thrash goes, but other than that - it's just a thrash disc. I know that's what Destruction intended on creating and that's what they made. Take that for what it's worth, I guess. It's a solid album, but just a thrash album.
The first femme fatale track is "Princess Of The Night 3:51" which is a capable track. I certainly like it, it reminds me of Venom for sure. Definitely has that feel of classic thrash. (Update: It's a Saxon cover I've never heard. Saxon, I'm quite familiar with - but not this particular track. Will try to remedy that this year.)
The second femme fatale track is "Carnivore" again, but this is a guest version of the track which also includes Tom Angelripper, so there's that for extra incentive on the digipack version of the disc.
Apparently, the Japanese version got a Motorhead cover of "Hammerhead." But unfortunately, I don't have that cover. But I'm sure there are those of you who will go out looking for it. This album has 66% on Metal Archives right now, but with the bonus tracks, it makes it just slightly better and warrants a 7 or 70% rating.
Highlights: Spiritual Genocide, Renegades, No Signs Of Repentance, Legacy Of The Past, Under Violent Sledge, Princess Of The Night (Saxon Cover), Carnivore (Guest Version) (13 tracks, 49:00)
NonExist - From My Cold Dead Hands (2012) - The last Non-Exist album came out in 2002. That was ten years ago. Children have grown into teenagers and teenagers have grown into adults. I was one of those teens that grew up in that period. After "Deus Deceptor" (Get your hands on this if you can, it's a fucking classic) came out with no follow-ups, I was convinced that the band was done for. So when I saw that this had come out and appeared under my radar, (just like the new Sammath Naur, which I will get to next list!) I was quite excited for it. The ratings were terrible though, for some reason and I could not figure out for the life of me why.
Immediately thoughts of "Oh fuck! Don't tell me that NonExist finally made another one, only to bomb completely!" went into my head, but I batted them out of my head like bothersome flies. I told myself that I was going to get the album and judge it for myself. So there at work one day, I sat unpacking boxes and said "this is the moment of truth" as I pressed the play button on my MP3 player. But what I heard was quite surprising and much different then I expected.
This two man project from Johan Liiva (ex-Arch Enemy, Hearse) and Johan Reinholdz (Andromeda, Skyfire) has in a way been revitalized with a new energy. The other disc actually sounded a little like black thrash with classic rock instrumentals and great melodies, but this one is a highly structured and experimental work with plenty of interesting ideas. One of these is featured on the title track, "From My Cold Dead Hands 5:48" which goes to so many different places, it's unreal. It's been a long while since I've heard a song that teleported you all over the goddamned place in the way that that one does. But this continues with "Days Without End 4:22" which isn't afraid to throw an awesome guitar solo into the mix. Then there's the opener "Dark And Tortured Universe 3:40" which brings a much more vicious assault backed by drum butchery. Of course, the vocals aren't perfect - but that riff/blast section is.
"The Flesh Falls From The Bone 3:40" however is one that I could do without as far as some of the vocals, but it's hard to wonder why the man decided to use an almost spoken approach to the vocals during the blasts, rather than something harsher. There's definitely heavy vocal approaches used here, but at sometimes it just sounds off key and doesn't work well with the melody assault I'm getting in the background. A gothic style croon actually appears in this one too, right before another one of those amazing solos. It really is a jack of all trades disc, but will probably be trashed (sadly.)
I also need to mention that there are only two people on this release and that's probably another reason why it took so long to release. It says that the project was recorded from (2009-2012) on the project's information sheet, and that's because Johan Reinholdz is responsible for the guitars, bass, synths, programming, and clean spoken vocals. Apparently the drums on this disc were programmed and that pissed some people off. I personally don't notice that much a difference. "Fire At Will 5:24" blasts in and it sounds just fine. The guitars on the disc are crisp and clear, the electronics are used when needed and don't overfill the album and each of the tracks on the album carry their own merit, rather than all sounding the same. Certainly, it sounds like the NonExist all of the way through to the very end of the album, but at least they didn't do what they could've done and rehashed the same album. If they hadn't gone the route of technicality and experimentalism in addition to great guitar riffs and melodies, I have no idea what this would've turned into.
Some might say that they just didn't like Johan Liiva's voice on here and I can understand that. It's a bit boisterous and might put some listener's off. Again, it is very difficult for any fan of heavy metal music to deny the guitar work on the album, even if the drums are not real. There are some truly great leads and melodies here and if you're really listening to this album, you're going to have no choice but to notice them.
Sure, it's short - there's only 40 minutes of playing time here; but I'd still recommend that you give an old band another try. People were born in the time since the last album was released and those people need to go check out this album. Yes, I'm sure there are ten year old metalheads out there. It might be better to get your kids checking this one out, instead of the core stuff and the umm... well, Gagnum Style. Wop. Wop.
Wop + Wop = Music?
Humanity + Wop = X Where X is equal a plane hitting the ground and then incinerating, leaving nothing but ash in it's wake.
Horrible media trends aside, definitely go check this one out for yourself regardless of what the critics say. The physical disc has not yet released, but it will have five covers, one of which (Megadeth - In My Darkest Hour) has been considered by MetalSucks to be one of the worst Megadeth covers ever. I haven't personally heard it, so I can't judge. But the site did like "Fire At Will" and that's a good track, so it balances out. I can't say that I'm familiar with any of the other bands that they are covering though.
Nevertheless, just check out the album. If one Megadeth cover kills it for you, then I'm truly sorry. But for the rest of us who judge albums by their content and not by their bonuses, there is certainly some worthwhile musicianship and some interesting ideas embedded into this relatively cheap mp3 album that's only 8.99 on CD Baby. It's 9 tracks for 9.00. If you don't like certain tracks, then only get the ones you do like at a 1.00 a track.
I'd at least recommend you pay a dollar for the title track. It's well worth that dollar.
Highlights: Days Without End, Fire At Will, From My Cold Dead Hands, Lost In Darkness And Confusion (9 Tracks, 39:00)
Holy Knights - Between Daylight And Pain (2012 Jap W/ Bonus Track) - Holy Knights are a Neo-classical power thrash band who originally split up in 2002 and reunited in 2012. At any rate, this new album is a showcase of the band's strengths and for the most part it's all done rather well. You can expect the same neo-classical laden (hence why it got ported to Japan with an exclusive bonus track) power thrash for a large portion of the album, and it certainly has it's share of orchestral atmospheres being overblown as humanly possible. Yet it still manages to shine and shows that these gentlemen were right to get back together. I highly recommend a trip through this melodic and beautiful beast.
While powerful solos and strong vocals like on "Mistery 5:10, Beyond The Mist 5:40", Glass Room 5:18, "Awake 4:15" fill this disc with absolute wonderment, tracks like "Wasted Time 4:50" and closer "The Turning To Madness 6:01" are definite low points that should be further analyzed. The longest track on the album should surely include some metal moments, right? But nope, there is not even a hint of metal on that closer which makes it very boring and makes me scratch my damn head.
As for that bonus track, "Resolution 4:58" it's actually sung in Japanese as sort of a tribute. Apparently, Japan loves this kind of stuff and so do I. Perhaps I should move there, like the otaku bastard that I am. I also believe that "Resolution" should be where "The Turning To Madness" is. Exchanging a track devoid of metal for one with metal is a great idea, as far as I'm concerned.
Highlights: Mistery, Beyond The Mist, Glass Room, Awake, Resolution (Bonus) (9 Tracks, 46:00)