Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Week 72 (February 5th, 2013)
Nader Sadek is an amazing supergroup of musicians, consisting of Flo Mounier of Cryptopsy; Rune Eriksen of Aura Noir, Ava Inferi, and formerly of Mayhem; Novy, formerly of Behemoth and Vader; and Steve Tucker, formerly of Morbid Angel. They put out one record, "In The Flesh" which took the metal world by storm and had many singing it's praises - me included. But I think what the fans really wanted this time around was a new disc of material and for some odd reason they seemed to be upset (at least from the facebook comments) by a live CD/DVD package, which makes me think that some people are just plain fucking ungrateful. Many of us probably couldn't attend that show anyway; so the least that they could do is to make it available to everyone with the DVD and CD format which are included in this package as they have done here. On this live album, the original lineup for the album has been reassembled for one live night of chaos, including Steven Tucker in his first and last live appearance. Sean Frey also guests as live guitar with Carmen Simoes on backing vocals which would explain the female ritual chants. The disc itself is uncompromisingly brutal with tracks like "Sulffer" and "Soulless" sounding even better than they ever have. The vocals are ferocious, feral even - with the guitar melodies and solos shining through each and every moment of the thick black fog that surrounds this beast. The progressive moments of the original have also been captured by this performance, leaving everything the experience to sound like a well-oiled machine with every instrument discernible and as far as I can tell, there are no live slip-ups. That's pretty damned good considering the intricacy of this material. Though the performance is short, it's an incredible one that you'll wind up re-watching or re-listening to over and over again just to hear some of metal's very best performing the almost inhuman calculations that comprise such striking and uncompromisational art as has been recorded here. Consider Flo Mounier's captivating drum solo to be just the icing on this extreme metal cake. If you buy one metal DVD a year, this performance is worth every penny and then some. (Eric May)
Mystic Places Of Dawn (Remastered)
Season Of Mist
This remaster of SEPTIC FLESH'S Mystic Places Of Dawn debut album shows us that the technology of this modern age is certainly capable of wonders, as the disc sounds like it has been given new life - the already remarkable melodies on the album are much clearer, the drums can be heard in their full glory and the demonic growls from the band's frontman "Spiros "Seth" Antoniou, are just as audible as they would have been if this album had just been released. But even though this release has aged over twenty years, the unique style of death metal featured on this album has certainly aged well. The opener "Mystic Places Of Dawn" is still as wonderous and brutal as it always was, "Crescent Moon" is still just as epic, "The Underwater Garden" will still leave one breathless; and the almost blackened assault of "Behind The Iron Mask" is still able to showcase what the band would later become with Communion. Even the atmospheric majesty of "Morpheus (The Dreamlord)" and the original closer "Mythos" leave one fully satisfied in an orgasmic sort of fashion. This is definitely one of the most unique and impressive death metal releases of the human age and it was well worth it to bring it back to the masses; some of those who've never gotten the chance - I daresay privilege; to hear it before. Sandwiched on at the end of the album is a remastering of the band's EP Temple Of The Lost Race as an added bonus. Though I'm not sure if this the original, or the re-recorded version that accompanied A Fallen Temple in 1998. These extra tracks showcase the band in it's infancy, much more aligned with the forces of traditional death metal; but still daring to experiment while shredding the living hell out of their guitars. If you'll take one trip back into the annals of heavy metal history this year, Mystic Places Of Dawn is a journey that fully reaps it's rewards. It's pure mesmerization from start to finish.
(10/10 and I'd give it higher if I could!)
Arisen from the “dead but dreaming” slumber that encompasses our almighty dread lord Cthulhu; CENTURIAN has awoken to destroy all that stands in it’s way with a wrathful vengeance unlike any the human race has experienced in several years. Rob Oorthuis formerly of NOX, put that project on ice back in 2010, where new creative energy could be put forth into the impressive monolith known as Contra Rationem. The result is nothing less of spectacular, creating some of the most bludgeoning and complex material that I’ve heard in recent memory. It doesn’t matter if the song is a little over two minutes “Judas Among Twelve” or reaches the heights of five with “Feast Of The Cross” this band is fully primed and ready to bash you over the head with a kit that never stops in it’s assault, guitars that are scathing with the agony and fury of hatred for man’s religion, ravenous vocal tones that sound like they’re coming from a full legion of demonic hordes and an overall atmosphere that reminds us greatly of early MORBID ANGEL, DEICIDE, KATAKLYSM, KRISIUN, UNLEASHED, DIVINE EMPIRE, and even THE MONOLITH DEATHCULT. This album is filled to the brim with sheer bubbling hatred and ill will towards all living things, making it an unstoppable force of negativity that will warrant constant plays. It doesn’t get much more venomous than this. Definitely one of the best death metal releases of this year, hands down. I urge you to pick this one up. (Eric May)
Coldsteel - America Idle (PR2013) - COLDSTEEL originally formed in 1986, during the movement of modern thrash, but had a bevy of problems in subsequent years, only being able to release a two demos in the form of “Dead By Dawn” and “Perfect Peace” and full album, “Freakboy” in 1992. The band disbanded in 1993 and has reformed almost two decades later to record a short EP consisting of five tracks which showcase the simple fact that after all of these years, these guys have still got it. Opener “America Idle” is an extremely catchy number with a sing along chorus that reminds of the The Glorious Burden era of ICED EARTH. “Ashes To Ashes” reminds me more of classic thrash in the vein of mid-era ANTHRAX replete with flying guitar solo. But “Blink Of An Eye” and “Blood Secrets” don’t hit as hard, with the former sounding like a nu-metal track and the latter sounding like a confused mix between hardcore and classic era ANTHRAX. However, the album does end on a good note with “You Lose” a powerful reminder that this band does still have some merit and hopefully will have better luck in the years to follow than they’ve had in the past. Certainly worth checking out for fans of both classic thrash (especially ANTHRAX) and hardcore. (Eric May)
Yayla - Nihaihayat (PR2013) - Yayla is an atmospheric blackened death metal project by Emir Togrul and is a completely handmade ordeal. All of the music featured here was completely composed by Emir as well as the artwork and all other materials. As for the music, it is a low-fi sort of blackened metal that should appeal to most fans of kvlt nature; but offers much more than the bare essentials. Emir’s vocal tone is certainly demonic sounding, reminding me of a fog that seeps into the walls while the sounds of some unknown ritual could most certainly be occurring in the background. Little is known about just what Emir is doing, and as far as I know “Through The Sigil Of Hate 12:55” might actually be a real connection with entities from beyond our realm of thinking with intentions unknown. The occult breathes through this release, it is definitely full of unrecognizable energy with black metal atmospheres that are for the most part, truly appealing. The tracks are quite lengthy and I’m under the impression that they had to be, because the rituals that encompass them more than likely took that long to reach their completion. I’m almost expecting a tall gentleman in a top hat to appear behind me and offer a small contract for my soul. At any rate, there is a certain art here that one can easily discern and will miss if they are just taking this as pure occult laden material (which it probably is.) I would certainly like this to Burzum’s Filosofem as it reminds me greatly of the same vibe but on a slightly different and more demonic, less Odinic level; which is probably what some of you are looking for. The album begins with an almost beautiful intro called “Integumental Grasp” and ends with a sullen closer called “In Senility 5:07” which seems to be the chilling end to the tale that is weaved on this album. In truth, I really wish that I knew what “Through The Sigil Of Hate, Immortalizing The Nine, and Disguises Of Evil” were about, but only Emir would know that. At any rate, I’d certainly recommend this as the polar opposite to Filosofem as it’s much more demonic but certainly reminds me of Varg’s work, especially on “Disguises Of Evil 15:08.”
But who I am to say that it’s demonic? It only seems that way. Whatever the case, it’s a work of art that comes handmade and hand-packaged. So if you purchase a copy of this, know that the hands who made it physically mailed it off to you. It’s a truly independent work from the artist to you, regardless if you understood the vision. This strengthens the bond between musician and fan that popular music labels will never understand. If you bought a CD of Metallica or the Rolling Stones today, what is the chance that the album would’ve been physically produced by them along with their signatures or a note of thanks in their own handwriting?
You already know the answer to that question. This is the polar opposite where that statement is true. Not only will you get powerful atmospheres, but it’s all coming straight from the artist. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Highlights: All (Intended to be one piece) (5 tracks, 51:00)
Mothership - Mothership (PR2013) - Before you think about putting this album in, I want you to do something for me. The first thing I want you to do, is to go down to the tobacco store and get some wrapping papers. Plenty of them. Next, I want to you to go find your buddy; you know which one - and start rolling some joints with those wrapping papers that you bought. Damn. You should’ve gotten some beer too, but you’ll probably be too high to drive (eh, like there’s a such thing) and it’s not going to be worth getting a ticket. So at any rate, just put in the disc and begin your journey... yes, your journey that begins while you toke and listen to the cosmic sounds of the Sabbath influenced “Hallucination 5:16” that continues on (through antics that modern bands like The Sword capitalize on) with “Cosmic Rain.” I guarantee that while you’re reaching the very heights of cloud fucking nine; you’ll appreciate this album a whole hell of a lot more. Though I may not know much about bands like UFO, Orange Goblin and Blue Cheer (who I just heard about yesterday - apparently those guys were so fucking loud that a dog wandered onto the stage and died during one of their shows) I do know that I was jamming around the whole time I was opening up boxes to this shit (which composes the majority of my meager day job if anyone cares) and I I think I could just put this one on and start jamming out no matter what fucking time of day it was.
Damn. I’m hearing shit that reminds me of old rock, fucking Hendrix style solos and apparently other bands I need to check out from the days of old. I guess I’ll say that if it wasn’t for Guitar Hero I wouldn’t know who a lot of these earlier bands were and that the old shit that your parents listened to is actually good shit - it’s a hell of a lot better than the shit they play now. I bet these guys are as good live as they are on this album and that’s saying something. I’ll just quote the PR info on this one and say that Ripple Music considers these guys essential for fans of UFO, Orange Goblin, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Grifter, Rory Gallagher, Foghat and Stone Axe. Of course, I’m also hearing The Sword, but that’s because those guys play very close to the same style of metal that these guys also excel in. It’s definitely stoner metal, and it’s from Dallas where they know a thing or two about getting stoned. Shit, these guys were probably high when they made it. But so was Carl Sagan - don’t tell your parents that.
Obviously, this review is as unprofessional as possible - but that’s because it’s hard as hell to compare these guys to any of their influences because I haven’t heard them, but I’ve got the strange urge to check them out now. One last thing I’ll say about this album is that you absolutely have to check out the closer, “Lunar Master 8:23” as that is the sound of the universe in orgasm. Some absolutely fantastic things going on with this one and I’d certainly recommend it to ALL fans of classic/psychedelic rock/metal. But I really don’t hear the ACDC influences that everyone else is talking about. As far as I’m concerned, Mothership is one of the best stoner/classic/70’s inspired metal releases I’ve heard this year and I’d happily smoke to it. If I had any weed, that is.
This comes out two days before V-Day, so it’ll make a good gift... for your dealer.
Highlights: All - Esp. Hallucination and Lunar Master (8 Tracks 46:00)
Sacred Steel - The Bloodshed Summoning (PR2013) - The new album from German power/thrashers Sacred Steel is by far one of my personal favorite classic metal releases this year. It reminds me of Destruction at their peak era, with fierce German vocals that open up into clean singing portions. But it also includes some harsher death metal vocal influence which works perfectly well with the rest of the album. Not only does this album thrash, but there are some worthwhile melodies and instances of slight prog that help to further sweeten the deal. Not since the days of classic Iced Earth has a band ever interested me as much as these guys have. While doing something as completely non-metal as cleaning the kitchen, these guys made the task much more enjoyable. "Storm Of Fire 1913" is a great opener to the disc and the band thinks so too, so they're giving it to you for free to check out. Trust me, it's a good appetizer to the main course that you're sure to love.
To be brutally honest, it doesn't matter whether it's the catchy "No God/No Religion" the epic "The Bloodshed Summoning" or the even more fucking epic "Journey Into Purgatory " these guys succeed in each and every way shape and form. Let's not forget about the short "Under The Banner Of Blasphemy" which still proves it's point despite the length, and "Black Towers" which make me think of both Iron Maiden and Conan. As in Conan is riding his horse and he's got his mp3 player/i-pod device on with a small pair of earbuds underneath his mighty helmet (because he's fucking Conan, so everything is mighty) and he sees these coal-black towers arise from seemingly out of nowhere. But then there's this awesome part where he pulls out his guitar (because Conan can totally play guitar, and probably much better than you) and battles the lord of the towers until he falls to his death. Yeah, it's that kind of thing.
The band really sounds like they're ready to take on anything with this album (is that a cowbell I hear?) and the wonderful thing about it, is that they seem to conquer each and every track on this one, even the Misfits cover which is a bonus. Some of the songs are more doom-laden "Crypts Of The Fallen" (but there's some prog solo stuff going on there too, because it just fucking works) and some are just plain out bashers like "Darkness Of Angels." But it's all preformed as efficiently as possible. When I saw how many tracks were on this disc, I began to expect filler but found none. This is literally a reviewer's dream "All killer, no filler" situation and I loved every damned minute of it. The sheer fact that there's a three part epic on the disc which begins with "Join The Congregation" goes into "Journey Into Purgatory" and culminates with "Doomed To Eternal Hell" is truly the best part of this experience, with plenty to offer to fans of power/thrash and I'll probably be playing the hell out of it for weeks.
Perversion Of The Scriptures - This one is a great song, it sounds in the vein of most of the material here and is just as good as all the rest. No idea why it was omitted.
Unbinding The Chains - Anyone who doesn't have this death metal influenced thrasher on their disc should be severely upset and I'm curious as to why this one got taken off of the original. It's one of the best songs on this disc and should have been considered for the original album. Not only that, it's got a nice atmospheric piece and a great solo. Who's idea was it to junk this one?
Dig Up Her Bones (Misfits Cover) - Though I've never heard the original and can't compare, I certainly like the version that these guys present. It's definitely punk and sort of carries the same vocal tone and style that I'd expect from the Misfits. Probably not everyone's bag, but worth checking out.
Highlights: All (Not a bad one here, really.) (15 Tracks, 61:00)
Juggernaught - Bring The Meat Back (PR2013) - Juggernaught are South Africa's version of Clutch alright, but they're so much more. These guys bring what they've dubbed "Man-Rock" with a definite does of blues rock and some metal moments too. While it's definitely not the kind of black or death metal that I usually get, I openly welcome stuff like this as I'm a big fan of blues rock and classic rock that comes along with living in the quiet country all these years. It's definitely music that you can sit back and relax to, but it's got some messages strewn about that you'll catch on to like "Beef Or Chicken 3:44" which is about the group's confusion on modern religion, and "One Of Them Days 4:50" which might sound like the happiest and campiest country influenced rock track you've heard all year, but it's got a worthwhile message about the "elite" that you might not expect. One of the lyrics in particular caught me "So tell me Mr. Banker, just what do I have to do? Do I have to learn your secret handshake or dance just like a fool for you?" Obviously, there are plenty of people who are doing just that.
But that's what these guys do. They make some good points, but in a manner that people will be able to chew a little easier. I think the closer "Paint It Brown 3:27" sums the whole thing up pretty well as far as the lyrics go and I'd pay attention to them. But let me tell you something, this is music with a message that you can play in your truck with a hunch of buddies and they're gonna enjoy every damned minute of it, because these guys can play, whether they're trying to be funny with the extremely catchy "Booty Call 2:57" and the title track "Bring The Meat Back 5:11" or serious as I've already described. As far as production value goes, this thing is a juggernaut in all respects sounding full of force and fire and it's just as dirty as you'd want it to sound. The beer soaked vocals of Herman Le Roux help the package to go down just as smooth; and I don't think they could've found a better frontman. This band has played 300 shows since their inception 4 years ago and that's quite a lot. They promise to play anywhere and everywhere they can. If somebody's having a barbeque, they'll be there. But only if you live in South Africa. For now, anyway. I think these guys would be more than welcome here in the southern US and well received too.
If you're looking for something meaty, then I'll definitely tell you that these guys sure as hell brought the meat back. Be careful playing this around women though, as I've heard some stories that it has the amazing ability to make clothes disappear...
Highlights: Bad Idea, Train, Beef Or Chicken, Back Door Woman, Booty Call, Bring The Meat Back, One Of Them Days, Paint It Brown (11 Tracks, 42:00)
Ruins - Place Of No Pity (PR2013) - I'm going to start this review out by saying thanks to Listenable for getting these guys out to the international masses. I'm not sure about their other material, but when I hear who's actually in the fucking band, I now know why it sounds so fucking great. Alex Pope is the guitarist/vocalist of the band, formerly of the post/punk noise rockers Sea Scouts and you can hear that punk energy in his vocals. Dave Haley who also drums in tech-deathers Psycroptic plays in fucking Pestilence and Blood Duster also does the skins for this band. Not only that, but both of these guys have recorded and performed with The Amenta and various other bands and projects over the last decade with my promo sheet is vague about, but I'm sure that a quick name search in Metal Archives will give you a list of damn near all of those.
So go ahead and check. I'll wait.
Now that we know who's in the band, let's talk about how it sounds. The promo information says that fans of Satyricon, Triptykon and Celtic Frost would enjoy this band, but I've never been a big fan of Triptykon and still get shit for it. Yes, I know that it's Tom G. Warrior, I just thought that some of it was repetitive. Damn it, fucking crucify me already! Maybe they'll come out with something I dig this year. Who knows. The EP was decent. At any rate, I'm gonna throw in one of the bands that these guys also toured with in Australia: Goatwhore. Yes, I'm definitely hearing Goatwhore influence on this one and not near as much influence from Satyricon as they claim. Fuck, I even hear some death metal portions on "Death Lends The Ultimate Touch 8:37" one of my personal favorite tracks. But these guys can balance out atmospheres and brutality together which makes them really gel for me along with the stern wrath that Alex puts into his vocal work. There are also some incredible leads on this one that creep up where you least expect. It's an album that doesn't necessarily show the entirety of it's cellular makeup in the very beginning, rather it reveals itself with each layer. There's definite black metal and definite punk influence and definite atmosphere. But the way in which those processes are revealed is highly structured and seeps in through time. Oddly enough, this is black metal that might appeal to fans of very technical metal bands like the one that Dave is also drumming for (Psycroptic) in all regards.
Some might feel that the album drags on a bit too much however and latter songs like "Let Them Perish 6:23" and "Oath 6:29" are a bit more than we need. After the album has fully revealed it's makeup, we find that there is little left to showcase and it would seem that the band begins to lose steam. Definitely worth checking out, but there's just something about it that gets overbearing after awhile. Perhaps that's the same problem I had with Triptikon though, so you can once again crucify me for it.
Highlights: Inhabit The Twilight, A Lesson In Ruthlessness, Death Lends The Ultimate Touch, Place Of No Pity, Merciless(9 Tracks, 58:00)
Okular - Sexforce (PR2013) - Okular is a Norwegian technical death metal band that Oystein G. Brun of Borknagar parallels to his own band. According to one reviewer in Scream magazine, it measures up to acts like Gojira and Obscura - which would certainly be right. From the very start of "House Full Of Colors 4:11" see the four piece experimenting with the same sort of atmospheres that one might expect from Borknagar but in a completely other realm. Andreas Aubert's death metal growls and grunts comprise most of the album's vocal nature, as he fiddles away on all sorts of odd compositions that he's made in Guitar Pro (which reminds me of another musician I know who's a real good friend of mine) which will most certainly dazzle even the most dedicated listener of technical death metal. The disc thrashes in some areas, deviates between heavy and clean vocals in others, plays around with a piano and even features Vintersorg on "The Greatest Offender 6:11" one of the album's standout tracks.
There's a few tracks on this one that I don't care for though, and that's the title track "Sexforce" which I consider to be some kind of a joke in terms of vocal play and "The King Of Life 2:41" which is supposed to be some sort of aggressive acoustic thing that doesn't work well for me at all. Maybe death/black metal never was meant to be played with acoustic guitars after all? At any rate, this one's certainly one of the big tech death releases of the year and I'm certain that more than just a few people will be checking it out (but even more downloading, as you just can't prevent that anymore) but in any case, let's just hope that the band gets further recognition for these interesting and unique attempt to an already oversaturated genre such as technical death metal. I think they've definitely got the same amount of skill that bands like Obscura and Gojira have for sure and should make high marks regardless.
Now go check it out, won't you? I'm sure you don't need me to tell you to, but it's definitely one that will be noteworthy this year. I also think that some of the things I personally didn't like (like the acoustic death metal track) will be highly regarded as "awesome and unheard of" by the fans. Hopefully they're right and I'm wrong. These guys put a lot of time and energy into this record, so I hope that the effort doesn't go unaccounted for and passed over by a bigger name act. While not the best tech-death album I've ever heard, it's not the worst; and the experimenting most certainly helps this band's art to be recognized ten-fold.
Highlights: House Full Of Colors, The Greatest Offender, Ride The Waves Of Emotion, Rest In Chaos, Exposing The Good Citizens, Feast Upon The Illusory, Birth Through Loss, Educated For Enslavement (13 Tracks, 60:00)
Gruesome Stuff Relish - Sempiternal Death Grind (PR2013) - At first glance, I expected these guys to be some sort of gore-grind act and was proven wrong in an instant. As a matter of fact, these guys have more in common with bands like Demonical and Revolting, then bands like the late great Anal Cunt. Sound clip intros and effect-laden Swedish death metal grooves in the most traditional sense accompany a just as traditional (but still vicious) drumming approach coupled with vocals that literally sound like they're coming from the odd experiment of a beast made from relish. Yes, relish. Like the kind you buy at the store. If you were able to give a jar of relish the microphone, it would most likely sound as such. If I went to see these guys live, I'd almost expect to see the guitarist, drummer and bassist walk onto the stage; but all of a sudden there's this guy that pushes a large stool out and sits an economy sized bottle of relish on top of it. As soon as the band started to play, some unholy relish monster grabs the mic and just belts out tunes that just sound well, like gore lyrics sung by a jar of relish. Gruesome stuff and relish.
But in all honesty, these guys and their jar of relish are fucking great. I usually don't care for his kind of metal at all, but there's something about the slimy vocals that just put a bright smile on my face. Apparently the band incorporates a lot of early Carcass worship. Unfortunately, I'm not very familiar with early Carcass despite their Heartwork album being one of my personal favorite metal discs of all time (as it well fucking should be) and will now be checking out the early material to hear some of the original greatness that spawned this greatness.
These songs aren't long, but they sure kick ass and go great with almost any occasion. One of the tracks I'm going to mention first off is "SOS 3:26" which sounds so fucking creepy that a tear almost rolled down my cheek. I like things to sound as eerily demented as possible and this track captured that. Of course, I could talk about many of the other tracks on here like "Gruesome Stuff Relish 3:26" the band's namesake song which certainly lives up to it's title.
The band does play some worthwhile melodies which echo in the same uneasy greatness as horror/death bands like Revolting, and many of you are already aware that I'm a bit biased and like shit that sounds evil and foreboding... but if you're listening to fucking death metal, are you really listening to it for the fucking pianos and the female vocals? Nope. You're listening to it because it sounds eerie, depraved, fierce and demented. The music is extreme because the films that inspire it are also eerie, depraved, fierce and demented. Gruesome Stuff Relish literally sounds like the soundtrack to a horror film, sung by the fucking monster.
If there's anyone out there who wants to hear what Jason Voorhees or a monstrous jar of demon relish might actually sound like when given a microphone and put into a death metal band, well this is your chance. If you're a fan of gore and groove, then there is no possible fucking way in hell that you can go wrong with this one. It's catchy, it's based in the traditional routes of Swedish death metal and it's got some of the most unique vocals I've ever heard. Why sound like a dying pig, when you can really sound like something that came out of the abyss? Essential.
By the way, "sempiternal" means never-ending. So it's never-ending death grind. Which it can be, if you leave it on repeat.
Highlights: Everything on this disc is worth checking out; but I really like SOS, Gruesome Stuff Relish, Sex, Drugs and Grind and more. (10 Tracks 37:00)
Overtorture - At The End The Dead Await (PR2013) - Unfortunately, I don't have much information about these death metallers, suffice it to say that the album is a truly well crafted process. Quite obviously, it's death metal; but it's been done right. This five-piece makes groove-laden and catchy death metal that isn't afraid to toy around with technicality or change structures. One couldn't call it traditional, as it's got a more modern approach; but I'm definitely okay with that and the sheer ability of these guys to play their instruments is astounding. The guitarists (I'm assuming that there are two because there are five guys in the band and I'm not hearing any keyboards) definitely seem to feed off each others energy and help to put the meat into the riffs when needed, along with the well-oiled approach to drumming that really seems to keep these songs going and keep them going. The fact that these tracks are anything but one dimensional keeps them fresh in my mind, but they aren't so over the goddamned top with technicality that you can't even tell it's death metal anymore. You're going to hear Grave, Unleashed, At The Gates and the usual lot of death metal influences; but you're also going to hear some influence from bands like Decapitated, Obscura and the gamut of tech-death that 99.9% of metal fans are more than familiar with.
But the mix of horror-themed death ant slight technicality makes a great mix, as well as the frontman's growls which seem more than stable for the act. Again, the fact that these songs have so much fucking structure and uniqueness makes them interesting and well worth listening to, even more so than other bands who use over-bloated technicality to prove their points. No offense, but I don't want hear how many weird and unnatural things you can do with your guitars; I just want you to be able to play proper death metal and not be afraid to experiment while still keeping that sound. Not only is Overtorture catchy, with strong hooks and grooves; but they're able to keep things interesting. It doesn't matter what track on this record you listen to, there's always a unique approach to what might sound by other bands as too traditional or way to over the fucking top. Not that I don't mind traditional death metal, but when you change song structure as much as these guys do in one song and don't manage to lose the nature of the original track, then you've got something going.
Let's also talk about the solos on this one. Yes, there are real ripping guitar solos in addition to the already wonderful structural nature of the act. These solos sound exactly like you should expect them to sound and they work in the context of the music. What we've got here is a band with major potential to knock down some of death metal's major contenders, and if you're not hearing it - no offense to other reviewers out there checking out the grim tower; but you're deaf. When I first got this record, I wasn't really sure what to expect. It looked like it would be a basic death metal album, until I pushed the play button. After that, I suddenly realized how great it would be to listen to this album not just once, but several times; and to tell others how great of a fucking album this is.
Yes, I know that Obscura is coming out with a new album this year. Yes, that's all well and good and their production will be better. Yes, I really liked the band's last album too. But I don't think they're going to be able to top something like this that keeps things not only technical but true to the nature of death metal. I guess because they sing about shit like the universe and such; and these guys sing about horror and death, so I'll probably never get true grim death metal from those guys. At any rate, at least I know that I can get some technicality with the sullen grimness that made bands like Hypocrisy so great. And even though I've heard "End Of Disclosure" from that one and it's anti NWO with a strong chorus; I still think that these guys can challenge them with this album.
Seriously, give Overtorture a chance. These Swedes not only make great death metal, they redefine it. Worth more than one spin and there's no filler to be had. One of my favorite death metal discs this year, certainly.
Highlights: Check it all out, but I like The Outer Limits, Targets, The Coming Doom, At The End, The Dead Await (10 Tracks, 41:00)
Pathogen - Miscreants Of Bloodlusting Aberrations (PR2013) - These Philippines death metallers have everything it takes to make classic death metal that sounds like every death metal band you've ever heard, but to be brutally honest and I have to be; even though I respect that bands like this do put hard work into their music, it's just not that interesting. It's not bad metal, it's just not anything really that new or different. These guys have released a lot of material and this seems like just another death metal record. It's a little raw with a drum assault, a growl vocal and traditional melodies backed with screaming guitar solos, where the band excels. But to be brutally honest, there's nothing here that I would recommend, other than to someone who has never really heard any death metal in their life. Pathogen does do a good job with the music, despite a few slip ups, (what happened at the end of "Atrocity Exhibit 4:40" guys? It sounds like all the melodies went south for some reason.)
But I'll admit that the latter tracks on the album are actually pretty interesting like "Leviathan 6:01" which has some grim melodies that I seem to like as well as the intro and outro piece. There's also a Sacrifice cover of "Afterlife 4:45" which I think the band does a good job with. Finally, the melodies at the end of "Uranium Messiah 6:38" are also done quite well (and remind me a bit of Maiden in all honesty.)
I just think that the majority of metalheads have heard all of this before. But I am certain that there are fans who will appreciate this band's raw approach to death metal and I will assure you that this has not changed. It was just very basic for me is all and I cannot recommend it. But if you like your death metal to sound very archaic in nature with screaming guitar solos, maybe you will find something in Pathogen. Best of luck on future albums, guys.
Highlights: Leviathan, Afterlife (Sacrifice Cover) Uranium Messiah (8 Tracks, 39:00)
Rotting Christ - Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy (PR 2013) - Rotting Christ's new disc sees the band continuing the evolution made from the ritualistic Theogonia and AEALO albums, further metamorphosing the band's sound into something that resembles a kind of dark ritual. Gone are the 300 style Grecian overtones of battle and in their place is something which truly embodies the term, "dark metal." This is a term that the band themselves have coined and differentiates them heavily from the black metal days of the past. This album is also a sort of "trip around the world" if you will, consisting of water spirits, ancient Incan hymns, Romanian folk classics, the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, the pre-Christian myths of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu and a bonus track that takes us into the Nordic underworld of Hel. Surprisingly, all of these tracks are also sung in what would be their native languages; making the trip even more authentic.
The band (or label) chose to release the album's first track "In Yumen - Xibalba 6:24" as a preview and free download, but I feel that even though the black metal kit blasting is prevalent here, it is structurally not strong enough as a track and I don't care for Sakis' vocals on it. If you've heard this track and are immediately disheartened by it, I would certainly recommend listening to the rest of the disc, which will be out soon enough. On "P'unchaw Kachun - Tuta Kachun 4:44" the feel of being in an ancient Incan temple is evident, with a definite tribal feel invoked throughout - but what really sets this song off is Sakis' guitar, which plays some absolutely fantastic fucking melodies that remind me of some of their most hailed work. The chanting and the guitar couples together perfectly, making something that I would expect from Therion, (expect that name to come up a lot in this review) rather than Rotting Christ. But I can deal with that.
The next track "Grandis Spiritus Diavolos 5:52" starts out with a dark rock melody from the start, backed by Themis' drumming which sounds more like the classic rock, then something you'd expect from metal. But when Saki's starts playing that intro riff and screaming along with the classically trained vocalist who is emphasizing his screams with traditional chants; it does seem to work well together. Again, this sounds like Therion and I'm okay with that. "Kata Ton Demona Eaftou 4:52" comes next, bringing us more of that tribal black metal feel of Theogonia. Upon listening to this one, you might be wondering why it sounds structurally very similar to the album's opener "In Yumen - Xibalba" and you are not wrong with that statement. However, Sakis finds his melody again and adds tribal flute to the track, which already makes me want to strip myself of all clothing and dance around in a fire somewhere. But what's this? Yes, it's a solo; and a damned good one at that! The chorus portion comes back with emphasized flute and just really kills at the end. Why couldn't this have been the single, guys? It's much stronger than the disc's opener. As a matter of fact, the album could have (and should have) opened with this track.
Piano opens up our next track, "Cine Iubeste Si Lasa 5:58" which sounds like a ritual opera of sorts. Out of all of this album's tracks,. it is my personal least favorite and probably won't appeal to many metalheads. A female vocalist chants along to the piano for about two minutes and thirty seconds before you even hear the first guitar riffs. Once the song begins at a rockier pace, (but it does make good for headbanging) Sakis accents the female vocalist with his harsh vocals for a bit, while the gallops go into something that just sounds quite odd, (and there's some shakers in this one.) The riffs come back and the drums power back into this track which in all honesty sounds like a ritual chant put to music and not an actual "hail Satan with heavy metal lyrics track." I mean, if anything is being hailed here, it is being really hailed in the traditional format of ritual - just with the added guitars. Again, like Therion.
"Iwa Voodoo 4:36" is my personal favorite track on the album, reminding me of some of the band's greatest melody work from their mid era (before any evolution was made in the music) Tribal chants follow wonderful fucking melodies for a bit which at two minutes in, begins to really heat up. As some background chants continue, you can't help but listen to the guitar. Sakis is definitely trying to show off here, but I'm just glad he decided to put more forefront into the guitar and unleash a powerful solo that reiterates the crushing chorus again. This should be a single. Look into that.
Next comes a track that hearkens back to the earliest of myths known to mankind, the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh (Gilgames 4:02.) Parts of the Old Testament in the modern Bible owe their existence to this poem, making parts of the Old Testament plagiarism. As for the track itself, black metal creeps back into the mix along with some well thought melodies and tribal chants that certainly make me want to dance around naked (as like most of the tracks on this album.) "Rusalka 4:33" is next, also continuing the tribal black metal feel of the last track (you'd never even noticed the break if not for the short silence between tracks) and then there's a slight lighten in Themis' drums as parts of the track are highlighted with strong melodies and Sakis' scowls. Eventually, some slowdown occurs and bells ring for a bit as a furious solo portion comes in to add some meat to a song that isn't necessarily as good as the others.
"Ahura Mazda-Anra Mainiuu 4:44" comes in next, which is obviously reference to the pre-Zoroastrian ideas of Ancient Persia. (Christianity's eldest roots.) The track of course features the same tribal nature as the rest of the album which might make it good for naked rituals and no doubt there will people who might use it for that, but that it their own business. At any rate, the song is highlighted with it's strong guitar choral melodies and there's a portion where some Melechesh style black metal-riffing comes in, but stop abruptly for more chanting. It's actually not as good as I once thought, even with the flute. The chorus has a hook, but little else to keep it going.
"666 5:46" ends the original version of the album. Despite that the band's been everywhere in the world with these beliefs and has even unearthed where the concept of Lucifer/Satan came from (Angra Mainyu) they still seem to want to praise that manmade ideal. But if we think of it in those terms, it becomes that the concept of Lucifer/Satan is equal to that of individuality and forward thinking. So perhaps that idea should be praised and respected. This song is actually much lighter and doesn't kick in until around (you guessed it) the two minute mark. The riffs finally come in backed by Sakis scowls and Themis's slow-paced drumming which works well with this and many songs. Of course, you'll hear more chanting (as you've heard chanting throughout every single song on the album) as the guitar starts to warm up for what you think is going to be a solo (and should have been, nothing more metal than to end an album with an impressive solo) but instead, we get a sort of backwards vocal manipulation that is made to sound like everyone expects a demonic entity to sound. Then it ends on a very weak note of silence.
"Welcome To Hel 4:27" is NOT a Venom cover, like I had hoped, but it is a good enough song that should have been on the fucking album to begin with. The damn thing starts out with a solo from the get-go! Hey! That's the solo that should have been at the end of "666!" Chanting takes place for a while and then Sakis begins his vocal scowls. But there's the odd sound of things in the background. Are people clinking wine glasses together in the underworld or something? There's a portion on the end where the drums beat furiously and Sakis really loses it. We're treated to even more good riffs and gallops and some more great guitar tinkering as Sakis goes back into a great chorus and then the choir (yes, choir) continues chanting (in English.) Highly recommended.
Since this album won't be out for a while yet, I thought I would do what some reviewers who have already got their hands on it haven't done; and give you a song by song of what to expect from the album. Black metal purists will not like this album unless they don't mind chanting and rituals. But this ISN'T black metal anymore either and most of those purists would consider Rotting Christ only to be important during the years of Thy Mighty Contract. However, the guitar is once again at the forefront of this band and the solos are great when they are used. A few misses, but definitely worth picking up. I'm not sure what I gave AEALO at the moment, but I can assure you that I like this one more or just as much as that album. Again, I wasn't impressed AT ALL with the sample track that Season Of Mist gave us and wouldn't consider it even close to the strongest song on this one. So if anything else surfaces before this thing releases, I would recommended checking it out.
While more along the lines of black metal than the band's previous albums have been, and definitely drawing from death metal in areas; it also invokes the aura of Therion, which is a difficult task that few other bands have been able to emulate. Perhaps we can jokingly say that Rotting Christ have made the best Therion album in years. But we'd be right.
Highlights: P'unchaw Kachun - Tuta Kachun, Kata Ton Demona Eaftou, Iwa Voodoo, Gilgames, Welcome To Hel (Bonus Track) (11 Tracks, 55:00)
Eternal Solstice/Mourning (Split 1991 Remastered PR2012) - I was much to young to have remembered this when it came out back in 1991, but I can say that the re-release and remaster of this material has proves successful. Eternal Solstice plays for around eighteen minutes and their material is certainly strong death metal in the most analog sense that one might remember. However, hearing the kit and the thrash riffs and the growls coming out of the shadows might just be what some of you were looking for. Some of the songs feature more doom influence, while others certainly remind me of acts like Sepultura, classic Metallica and other thrash natives of that time. This is still the very birth of death metal and you can hear the thrash/speed metal evolution happening, the guitars still blazing with high speed solos. But "Melancholic Characters 5:38" really adds the element of doom into the band, making a monumental shift of sorts. Remember that Paradise Lost's Gothic had come out around this time as well. The thrash stuff is nice, but the meat of the split is on this final closing track.
Mourning plays for eighteen minutes also and really took me by surprise with their use of saxophone in metal. This predates avant-garde by a few fucking years and "Free Evil 2:46" had my mouth dropping open saying "they did it before Solefald, Ulver and Arcturus!" As for the band, they definitely have that sense of thrash death with a worthy scowl backing up the riffs. These guys also have that sense of punk that evolved into thrash and later into death and black metal. However, "Necrodrama 2:11" opens the band into doom, but even though you'll hear it; it's done in an unconventional sense which really interests me. This was 91, and these guys of whom I've never fucking heard were doing some grand experimenting. Two longer tracks by this band follow at the end, which convince me that these guys can really do no wrong. Before the days of vocal effects, it really took a lot to sound evil and their frontman really manages that with his unique vocal style. Take "You're Sold 5:59" for instance. Yes, it plays around with doom, but there's such a structure and unique sense about this material that it makes me very curious about their material and I'd at least like hear some more of it. There's a goddamned treasure hunt - but it'll be worth it. The very last track "The Mourning After 5:23" creates atmosphere with the damned cymbals themselves. Count how many times you've heard that lately. Then there's the saxophone, which still boggles my mind. It wasn't as you well know, the most likely of rock or metal music instruments. There's also a really great solo piece that steps up into some great drum work. The whole band spasms the end of the song, in traditional style - when everything just goes haywire until the end.
Eternal Solstice and Mourning both deliver great efforts on this one, but my mind is completely shattered by Mourning and their use of unconventional and experimental doom/death antics. Remember, this is still when the genre was new, when My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost hadn't even considered clean vocals and the electronics of the later material hadn't even been considered yet. This is an analog effort which sounds greatly remastered and deservingly so. I recommend that most, if not all metalheads check out this relic because there's some really great shit on here from Mourning. I like the Eternal Solstice stuff too, but am hearing more death thrash than doom/death.
Check it out and learn some history about metal.
Highlights: Melancholic Characters, Free Evil, Abundance, Necrodrama, You're Sold, The Mourning After (9 Tracks, 37:00)
Eternal Solstice : 6/10
Phil Anselmo & Warbeast - War Of The Gargantuas (2013 EP) - Whew, this is short. It's a short 18 minute sampling of what we can expect from the forthcoming Phil Anselmo and Warbeast albums. I'm highly awaiting the self-titled Phil Anselmo, due to the fact that it is routed in extreme metal; so that should be fucking interested. The death metal semblances of "Conflict 4:18" hint at that, sounding like a fiercer Superjoint Ritual with Phil screaming in the vein that we'd expect from him. The guitar and drum work on this one is killer and you'll hear a rather fucked up sounding solo that's completely unconventional in every way, shape and form.
"Birth Of A Psycho 5:42" sees the southern thrashers Warbeast continuing on in their thrash riff fueled Gwar-ish vocal assault but with some kickier drums. Thankfully, this drumming keeps the track afloat. The middle portion of the track really makes me think of Oderus as far as vocals go and I think the real Gwar might have some competition here as far as musically. Personally, it is my personal opinion that he do something about these vocals, because they sound too damned much like David Brockie and even take the hilarity factor almost making it sound like a copy/paste affair.
Phil's next track is "Family, Friends And Associates 3:32" which sounds much different from any of the work I've heard him do. The vocal style and the Primus meets Pantera riff style have me puzzled and the song itself just seems like an oddity, despite the traditional guitar solo. But maybe that's a good thing. Oh, and it does has some thrash points.
Finally, Warbeast takes the reigns for the last track "IT 4:29" which is literally written like it is on Stephen King's novel, in direct capitals. As far as the song; I like the fact that this one sounds like more of a thrasher despite the Brockie-vocal. You guys need to realize that it is going to be very hard for me to overcome the similarities to Brockie here, because they are so genuine to his band. I will admit that the drumming is top-notch, the riffs aren't stale and the solo's great. it's definitely what a thrash band should sound like, despite again - the Brockie vocal resemblance. When I review the new Warbeast, I will probably feel the same. However, I can't deny that this band has something, Phil saw something in them and he's been playing in more bands than most of you are even aware of and has a plethora of playing experience and overall knowledge in metal music. I'll trust his judgment with these guys.
At just 18 minutes, War Of The Gargantuas is just a sample. Do you need it? No. But if you can't hold out another few months for the finished products from both of these bands, this little disc will hold you over.
4 Tracks, 18:00
Akem Manah - Beneath (2012 EP) - Continuing with our doom/death theme, I have the recent EP from Akem Manah. This consists of only one long track called "Beneath 21:10." of which is accompanied with a full set of lyrics that unravel a sort of gothic horror tale, maybe one of the weird fictions of H.P. Lovecraft, or Stephen King at his most frightening. Perhaps even Poe at his dreariest can be recalled here. The track starts off with the eerie combination of a piano and violin that leads way into dreadful guitar riffs and growling vocals coupled with clean singing. Then the drums really come in and start the thrashing portion of the track as the vocals come back into place with clean and harsh accentuating each other. But the beginning melodies are kind of muffled. Then the clean vocals remind me a bit too much of My Dying Bride. Actually the whole feel of the track does - until the thrashing comes back again. Clean vocals come back in, I can hear the melodies a little better now but don't care for the clean. Why are they trying to be My Drying Bride? Atmospheres come in then a tasteful guitar solo comes into play. Doesn't sound very unpleasant by any means, it's actually thing of beauty; something one might expect to hear in the heaven realms. then another guitar riff comes in (it's a little fuzzy) as the clean vocals don't do much for me again. But the little melodies on the guitar do manage to do something for me and now they do accentuate the vocals. Took a while for that to happen. The next portion of the song continues with the My Dying Bride style clean vocals, and then the violins come in and the growls come back. I just read the lyrics to this thing and I'm kind of confused to be honest. What in the hell happened? Darkness of self? Reach the black star? What in the hell are they talking about? At any rate, the drums warm up with some actual stuff that one can bang their head to and the bass riffs jump and gallop while the melodies play a nice (but over-repeated) melody. And yes, the vocals are still on the cusp of My Dying Bride style croon. I hear some ominous riffs as death metal vocals finally creep back up (finally) and then there's some guitar fiddling which goes into a melody that does work well with the clean vocals - which are the same merit. The ending clean vocals do work well with this, I will say and that melody in the background does repeat - but it works here. I also like the duet between harsh and clean at this point. More guitar fiddling follows as the vocals continue. The emphasis is really put into these end vocals (is this another vocalist, I like this guy) and then the death come back to duet (with the little fiddling going on throughout) and the song ends with the sound of violins and atmosphere which makes it sound really fucking dreadful.
While not as good as the band's 2010 release, this EP does have it's moments. I particularly like the middle point, where things open to beauty; but then quickly close to despair. My only qualm is the over-use of My Dying Bride style clean vocals. Is this the same vocalist on the band's 2010 album? I don't believe so. What happened to him? The new guy bores me to tears. It was very hard for me to get into some of My Dying Bride's material and I'm feeling that same notion here. Hopefully, we might get a new album from these guys in 2013 that will showcase more than just this. I've heard My Dying Bride style doom ten million times over and expected much more than this from the band. I'm highly disappointed and am now not sure if the band's debut can be topped. As I said before that I was highly awaiting future material and am keeping my eye on the band, this song proves to me that perhaps I spoke too soon.
(1 Track, 21:00)