Advent Sorrow - Before The Dimming Light EP (2012) - Advent Sorrow is touring with Cradle (or so it said before the North American tour was canceled) so I decided to check out their EP on bandcamp. Considered "gothic death metal" this is really about the closest thing that a death metal act can get to competing with Cradle; yet it is a style that we've certainly heard before from other gothic death metal bands going all of the way back to earliest Graveworm and then farther beyond. The vocals take on an approach that mixes a scowl and growl together while the drums and riffs play along the black/death territory. The entire thing is littered with gothic keyboards so expect that. Though Graveworm mastered this genre at one time, it seems that Advent Sorrow are trying to take that throne (since the latest Graveworm sounded like it came from a tired band at any rate.) The album is on a "Name Your Own Price" basis and I would recommend it to fans of extreme gothic death metal for sure, as there is definite promise in these five tracks.
(5 Tracks, 25:00)
Antimatter - Fear Of A Unique Identity (2012 Deluxe Edition) - Antimatter is a very dark sort of rock, like Anathema before they got metaphysical. The singer sometimes sounds a bit like Gavin Rosdale (Bush) and the opener "Paranova 6:06" is a dead ringer for Bush worship. However, "Monochrome 5:24" adds the electronics and the slight touch of female vocals that come out wonderfully and make it a dead-ringer for a single. How in the fuck are these guys not popular? In all honesty, I could say a little bit about each of the tracks; but since I don't have the time I will just state that if you like truly dark and depressing rock, this band certainly delivers. I would recommend this not to metalheads, really - but to fans of sullen soundscapes and razorblades. This is very dreary material, but it's also got quite a bit of beauty and isn't the short ride of "singles" that you might expect. "Firewalking" is almost eight minutes long and that topples over the length of what a normal rock single is (3:30 in case you were wondering.)
Two things I'll add here - the male and female vocalist have mature vocal tones. You're not listening to emo. This is dark rock for adults. Also, the deluxe edition comes with four remixes and two demos, one of which is a great alternate mix of "Monochrome." Again, highly recommended for those who want Anathema to put out dark records again. I also believe in the concept of the album - which is individualism.
Highlights: All (A very well put together release.) You can take or leave the remixes, but I recommend the alternate demo of "Monochrome."
Arsis - Leper's Caress (Scion EP 2012) - This little Scion EP is free, but is it any good? Obviously Arsis put out a black/thrash release a few years ago that I certainly loved and this disc seems to add to that. Despite the fact that "Veil of Mourning Black 3:01" plays around with core, there's still some obvious black metal influence that plays along here making this as core as black metal should ever get. (Hear me, Serpents Of Ishtar? That was too core.) Not only that, the drummer really seems to be having a good time beyond the kit and doesn't seem tired or bored by any of this material and the guitarist throws in some good black riffs and plays a shitload of solos. Most of all, the frontman tears up songs like "Six Coffins Wide 4:12" and "Carve My Cross 4:05" showcasing that he's still passionate about this material and this band. Though modern nuances are here, it's still pretty black and still pretty brutal. They did this for a car company, but it doesn't seem like they toned it down one bit.
Scion people, keep releasing these EP's. You're promoting the living hell out of great bands that some people wouldn't have heard of otherwise (yeah, even with the internet.) By the way, would you mind giving Sigh a chance?
Highlights: Who cares? It's free, so check it out. (6 Tracks, 19:00)
I'm Fine - The Way Of Madness (2012) - Now to checking out gothic death metal act, I'm Fine. Weird name for a band, but they certainly seem promising. The music is more laden to death metal but seems to be much more analog and less high budget than Advent Sorrow. But it will be these classic qualities that might make people flock to them like early My Dying Bride, Tristania and even early Theatre Of Tragedy (because they did do gothic death metal at one time folks, I'm not making this up.) There are some definite atmospheres used here in addition to the keyboards and some great guitar solos which make this act more fulfilling then I would also say for Advent Sorrow. A solo starts up "Cold Ashes... 8:48" as a matter of fact and it is anything but a throw-away. The vocal style gravitates between the death growls and the sullen clean vocals, yet I would say that their frontman certainly can sing well enough and highlights his presence in the band. Slight progressive influences also exist here, but they work well with the style of the band and there really shouldn't be a fan of classic gothic metal (not goth metal, gothic metal) who won't find some appreciation for this album. If you haven't heard of this band before and want to check out this album, then I have done my job and hope that you'll enjoy it as much I have.
Highlights: All (9 Tracks, 52:00)
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InduRancE - The Dark Side Of Negative (2012) - This is a solo release by Max Cottica, exclusively available at http://www.indurance.org. I'm guessing that it's a free release, but I'm not sure. I scooped this one out of Rockbox blindly like I do with many of these unknowns and I do that mainly for curiosity and to get these acts promoted to you guys, since many projects get posted on there purely for the sake of promotion. It's much easier than going onto "X" forum and saying "Check out my music guys!" At any rate, Max's music seems to be a sort of electronic metal dance sort of thing that surely won't appeal to all, but some will decide to check it out - hopefully. I know that if this was my work, I'd like someone to listen to it. I will say that he can play guitar (or program it?) as shown on the opener "Rise Of The Fallen 3:37" and lets off a couple of good solos like on "Death Is Coming 4:03" and "An Eerie Encounter 4:34" which features a slight female vocalizing and reminds me of major boss battle music for a J-RPG. Like if you're fighting a god or something. "Inside 5:16" is a ballad that is good musically, but I can't even hear the vocals. "Horror Vs. Insanity 3:14" is kind of weird idea of mixing industrial with a bit of noise and sound effects. "The City Is Burning 2:50" is an electronic track with soundclips. "Spawn.Live.Die 6:01" starts out with drone and then goes into electronic dance metal. "Dark Green Island 4:42" sounds like a doom track with female chanting ala Dead Can Dance in it. Why are her vocals higher in the mix than his? "Dawn of War 8:48" ends out the album, but reminds me of some of the music that might appear in a futuristic game whether a J-RPG like SMT Nocturne, or something American like Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
That's the project in a nutshell. Again, it won't appeal to everyone, but someone out there's going to try it. He put a lot of work into it, so at least give it a listen. There are some good compositions here, regardless.
Highlights: Death Is Coming, An Eerie Encounter, Dark Green Island, Dawn Of War (9 Tracks, 43:00)
Kontinuum - Earth Blood Magic (2012) - Maybe I'm going to be fighting with another Decibel reviewer here, but Adrien Begrand started his review by talking about how different the album was and then after listening to it with what he calls "a clear head" he came to the assumption that the band lacked an identity. What does that even mean these days? Are you honestly telling me that bands (or people) who approach something with an experimental standpoint are considered lost? If I decided to make an album with one track of every genre, would you consider me as having an "identity crisis?" Why do things need barriers in the first place? Why can't people just make music the way that they want to without any sort of guidelines? I particularly enjoy these "Baskin's Robbins" albums with 33 different flavors instead of vanilla. Sir, it would seem to me that you've been listening to too much of the same old thing and have lost the meaning of art along the way. Let's not even mention the amount of bands who have been praised for such an approach, like Unexpect or Estradasphere for example.
Yes, Kontinuum is different. They do something original with each and every song, like the doom-prog of "Steinrunninn Skogur 9:06" or the experimental approach to black metal utilized on "Lightbearer 5:19" or the melodic death metal sensibilities of "City 7:18." Obviously, Adrien forgot to mention that the band certainly can play and lets off some wonderfully transcendental fucking riff melodies and godlike structures that flow throughout this album in a way that melds everything together beautifully, even the darkwave/dark rock nature of "Red 5:43." It doesn't matter whether or not they use choirs or movie soundtrack orchestrations, or just soundclips like on the opener "Endgame 5:12." Everything is molded together with these melodies. One might consider them an Enslaved alternate, a post-black metal act that also isn't afraid to dip a toe into new waters and does it far better than Enslaved has done of late. Most of you should already remember my Riitiir review and how I noted that Enslaved really went off the rails on some of those tracks. But I think that Kontinuum certainly has shown ability with this unique and different release that I would recommend to fans of other experimental/post black metal acts like Enslaved, The Meads Of Asphodel and Sigh as most notable. Of course, there are countless others in this budding genre of what exists beyond black metal and I'm ever curious to hear more of this evolution.
However, I recently came across a disc from a Japanese act called Fullmoon Bongzai and found out what dub-black metal (not dub-step, original dub) sounds like. That might very well be the line as I'm not sure how well I can take a man screaming in loud static-laden dub. But I'll try to have a review for that as soon as possible.
Highlights: Steinrunnin Skogur, Lightbearer, City, Red (9 Tracks, 55:00)