Friday, April 26, 2013

Week 77.5 (April 26th, 2013)


Northern Plague - Blizzard Of The North (PR2013) - Now that I've partnered with Canadian DIY label (and they need your help, so check out the Kickstarter!) Mulligore Productions, I can bring you even more great underground releases. This Northern Plague EP presents us with a Polish four-piece that from this 18 minute foray seems to have quite a bit of promise. They've certainly got the whole black/death/thrash thing down but also succeed in mixing that with catchy melodeath that should appeal to a wide variety of people. "Blizzard Of The North 4:50" starts out the disc with a drum barrage that leads right into a chorus line you might expect from God Dethroned, Naglfar, or Old Man's Child. It plays along one strong melody, but that melody is all it needs to be carried out successfully. "Ishtar Gate's A Ruin 4:50" is a completely different type of beast with it's sight set on demonic vocal belting accompanied by prog and some rather convincing lines of melody. The band's frontman is truly worth keeping an eye on as his approach seems to be the highlight of the album thus far, as well as the guitar melody and structural changes which highlight many acts but seem to work towards carving their way into originality. Northern Plague really likes to keep you on your toes with such abrupt but useful structural changes that will leave the listener wanting more - much more. I know that I did.

But we're not finished yet. "Pestilence 3:48" comes through with poisonous riffs that seem to launch into a fury of blackened groove thrash wherein the vocals come forth in the same respectable fashion. Again, this is going to be quite catchy to the right people; it's certainly something I hadn't expected. "Wind Of Eternity 4:22" ends our journey, but it carries the same sense of black/death/ thrash metal that intertwines with several other genres so seamlessly. The drums go into a fury as the vocals once again highlight the riff melodies perfectly. Those riff melodies wouldn't hit quite as hard if the frontman hadn't been as good as his display is here. Then we get the explosive drumming of the demon behind the kit and another one of the short guitar solos that make their way on the album. The track goes out with horns that foretell destruction, but unfortunately it is there that the disc ends.

Northern Plague have a strong sense of promise on this album and could go very far if it is marketed right and to the right people. I certainly see something here that I could play over and over again without feeling bored as the band is able to spice what could've been rather bland into a deviously interesting blend of black/death/thrash and groove elements that include punishing drums and absolutely venomous vocals. It's the kind of band I would want to be in if I were in a band. I expect to hear more great things from these guys in the future.

Don't miss out on this one.

Highlights: All (sans the intro) (5 Tracks, 18:00)



KOSMOS - From Innocence To Perversity (PR2013) - Kosmos is black metal that's not quite as raw as you would expect and full of just as much melody as it is a sense of foreboding darkness. At first the vocal approach didn't appeal to me, but overtime I came to grow into it and stopped thinking of some giant mutant chicken on the vocals "Rebirth 5:32". It's almost like a sort of acid-mouthed approach that sounds utterly inhuman, but nevertheless points these guys out over other acts of the same nature. The songs feature all of the same blast-beat laden fare except for when things develop more melody and atmosphere, but it all comes off as worthy black metal nonetheless. "Mental Slaughter 5:18" for example seems to be one of the album's larger highlights as it showcases almost everything this band has to offer in much less time than it takes other bands. "Darkness Of Truth 4:19" contains more blasts, but it doesn't come off as too overly heavy and seems to accent the song well. Again, the atmospheres work well to the band's advantage.

How powerful are these atmospheres exactly? Well, take a moment to do a Google search for the band's album cover. I've always believed that an album cover is a good stickler for the nature of the release, what you might expect an album to sound like. It is usually easy to tell a grindcore cover from a black metal or prog metal cover for example; and this tried and true formula has worked in most cases. The album cover displays a painting with the same sort of sinister atmosphere that you might expect from this release and it matches the tone of the music perfectly. Such is continued on "Void Of Reason 5:01" which sees itself much slower and more melodic, but still with a sense of melancholy hopelessness which is amplified by the acid-mouthed vocals. "You Will Rape Children 3:26" returns us to the heavy nature but just enough to really demonstrate the most hellish atmospheres that a song of this nature might entail. Machine-gun drumming elates from the mist, decorating one of the more unstable tracks on an album which before has been quite straight and narrow.

:"Nameless Bloodshed 4:38" also continues that trend, kicking things up a notch and putting more punch into a release that as I've said; started out more in the vein of atmospheres. It's not amazing, but serves as the after dinner mint (of evil) to "You Will Rape Children." The final track "Beloved By All Sinners... 5:40" disc seems to be the part of the meal whereafter one vomits everything that they've just digested. It is literally the sound of an aftermath, in which the band gives it one final go - "here's our finale" so to speak. Though I was not going to mention the outro, I would say that "He Was Priest 2:55" does have it's merits as an uncomfortable instrumental. I can also say that for the intro "Forsaken 2:24" as it contains the same merits.

Kosmos has something to offer to the black metal scene, most definitely. Their atmospheres are uncanny along with their sullen melodies and the obvious acid-mouthed vocals. May not appeal to all, but I certainly think that those looking for a sense of atmosphere amidst bits of brutality will find what they're looking for here. Not the heaviest thing you've ever heard, but not the gloomiest either.

Still, there are definite hints of promise.

Highlights: Forsaken, Mental Slaughter, Void Of Reason, You Will Rape Children, Beloved By Sinners, He was Priest (9 Tracks, 39:00)



The Upheaval - Failure Of Humanity (PR2013) - The Upheaval are a two piece Canadian band that at first don't come off as much (and I have no idea what kind of vocal approach that is in the beginning) but as the album progresses past the straightforward "To Eat The God's Breed 4:27" (though I'll admit that I like the latter part of that track) and moves on to the more thrash/groove based style of modern black metal "A White Mask 3:45" proves that a couple thrash riffs and some prog in the right place really does have it's merits in the genre. Even some death metal vocals creep up here, but that's just fine with me as it helps to keep things interesting.

Thrash ensues on "Falsehood Castle 3:12" as some drum fills that remind of Metallica also make an appearance. "Rebirth Of A Sinner 4:12" launches with the thrash grooves in places, but it also incorporates plenty of black metal staples (Dissection, Emperor for example) that you've heard before. "Vomits Of Hate 3:37" actually reminds me a bit of Secrets Of The Moon in sections, but it certainly likes to blast quite a bit too. "No Flags! No Armies! No Borders! 4:08" brings back the thrash grooves and hits just as hard as "A White Mask" did earlier. "Obey The Beast 4:25" starts out like black metal, but goes into straight thrash, showing what this band could be at their peak. The last track on the album is "Failure Of Humanity 6:47" which has a slower vibe but still kicks in with the groove every once in a while. One might say that this track is a bit more of black/traditional doom metal in a sense, but it still seems to be a bit more upbeat than most doom. Certainly a highlight to end the disc on, at any rate.

The Upheaval mix black metal with elements of thrash and even some doom that seem refreshing, but nothing we haven't heard before. Nevertheless, if you like your black/thrash mixtures you will certainly find something to like here and it's definitely got it's moments of pure headbanging glory. I can attest to that, as I found myself banging my head with some of the riffs and drum fills on the album.

Again, there is definite promise here as well as a unique album cover to top it off. Worth checking out.

Highlights: A White Mask, Vomits Of Hate, No Flags! No Armies! No Borders!, Obey The Beast, Failure Of Humanity (8 Tracks, 34:00)



Oliver Kaah - Photosynthesis (Band Request 2013) - Those of you who remember my review of Oliver Kaah's last album (we even featured an interview with the artist, so go check it out if you haven't) will remember that I found it refreshing in the electronic and black metal atmospheres. However, Photosynthesis makes me want to forget everything that I know about the band, in favor of a more Opethian affair. Gone are all of the electronics, and all that remains on this extremely thick offering are the complexities of prog metal and atmosphere.

When I say thick, I do mean thick - this disc contains six tracks of music that clock in at about an hour's time. So certainly, some of these are quite long pieces. In lieu of spelling everything out for you (which I will not have the time to do here) I will simply speak a little about each of these pieces in such fashion as I have been doing. "Photosynthesis 7:22" sounds a little like Devin Townsend at his lightest, with the flavor of 70's prog that builds up an atmosphere. Some of the vocal attempts here are good, while others not so much to my liking. The song takes far too long to load up as the melodic black metal portion doesn't begin until halfway throughout the track. There's a nice little set of riffs about the 5:30 mark that are highlighted with another heavy punch (I now see the Agalloch nature in which this album is going) and a solo that sees itself shortly after. Strong, but it takes a while to warm up.

"Dead Leaves 7:31" is next, quite much in the same formula as the previous track, but with enhanced guitar melody and some baroque influence that sees the effort something in the vein of bands like Omnium Gatherum or Insomnium in the sense of sullen and beautiful melodies. I question the nature of programmed drums in some portions of this album, like this one particularly; where a man behind the kit might do a world of good in as much as adding that extra kick. Either that, or the drums need to come up a bit in the mix. Nevertheless, this is also another side of Oliver that we haven't heard before; proving that he could make music in the vein of Swallow The Sun and other hot items in the metal music market.

"Amnesia 13:50" is the longest track on this album which begins with acoustics then sees itself as clean vocals with Opeth-esque riffing. There are some good clean vocal lines here, I'm reminded a bit of ICS Vortex. The blasts of black metal come in along with scowls and go back to the previous setup. It eventually hits a sort of prog groove bit where a different sort of harsh vocal attempt comes in and a fury is briefly heard a few times before the atmospheres come in (still heavy.) This is definitely a stab at the same sort of prog death metal that made Opeth great, but with some outside influences and injections of black metal. It certainly came out well, as he has that formula down.

"Refuges 5:37" comes next as a much slower, ethereal affair. That is until it kicks into a type of black metal backed with light vocal harmonizing. The track continues to include thicker guitars and pronounced grooves before it ends.

"Nachtvogel 10:44" goes back into the realms explored on "Dead Leaves" but features more clean vocal influence in the vein of Funeral. The black metal riffs do come in though, and when they do they thunder with an assault that you'll definitely be able to feel. Alright, so maybe a skinsman isn't needed. That certainly thumped. A little but of prog comes in and then things get completely weird as the other harsh vocal tone comes back into place and as a new riff melody shines in, a even more coarse vocal style comes into play. Anger is being expressed in this track, or perhaps despair. But there is certainly a silver lining as Devin Townsend inspired riffs break in as clean vocals pervade through all the bleakness, only to be once again absorbed by the fury of black metal once again. This is certainly a strong track and a highlight that might standout as my personal favorite of these selections.

"Espirit De Jadis 10:27" closes this oddly varied album with soft atmospheres that break into sorrowed but heavier melodies laden with a harsh vocal approach and style that should immediately be familiar to some. I've heard this attempted on plenty of funeral/suicidal black metal albums before. However, the melodies open up and launch into something that sort of reminds me of early Amorphis. This certainly seems to be a "name that influence" album, but I see nothing wrong with it. Ah... there's the electronic influence in the vein of some background synths. As the drums kick back up into the mix for one last harsh vocal bout, a flute is played alongside the guitar melodies and then a violin joins in. An atmosphere is certainly being portrayed here, like something out of a film. The guitars come back in along with the pounding drums of course; and nothing is muddled in this process - score one for production value - as a guitar solo comes in to decorate the album, a quite massive one that carries on all of the way to the end of the music. There's a silent atmosphere that ends with some sort of odd... well, it sounds like the sound made when a wizard touches the tip of a magic wand on an object and it transforms, to be honest; and that's how the album ends.

To be certain, there is much ground to cover on this release and I may not have covered it all. It's an astounding attempt, as he just released an album of a completely different type last year and this is certainly of a larger scale than that album was. Though some of the clean vocals weren't my cup of tea, I feel that he did a wonderful job with the release regardless and for a DIY this is extremely professional in all respects. By the time a label reaches this gentleman, he will already have a slew of masterworks already available for them to distribute. There is no doubt in my mind that Oliver Kaah has the potential for greatness, he certainly has the most grandiose sense of what metal music should be. Labels should take note of this man's achievements as he's done more in two years than some have done with their entire careers.

A treasure trove of sounds indeed.

Available on Oliver Kaah's Bandcamp as a "Name Your Own Price."

EDIT: Oliver wants me to inform you that all of the drums performed on this album are indeed real. I'm sorry for the mistake, it sometimes happens. So yes, he played all of the instruments on this album by himself. Not too shabby at all!

Highlights: Amnesia, Nachtvogel, Espirit De Jadis (6 Tracks, 55:00)



Descent Into Madness - Blindfold EP (Band Request 2013) - These guys started out doing Gothic metal that apparently peaked some interest at Sony Records. But two years later and after some lineup changes the band now does a slightly heavier sort of gothic thrash metal with prog elements if such a thing could be said. The elements of the gothic approach seem to make up Jennifer Moore's vocal work in "Blindfold 6:08" while Claudio Lassala and Alex Kamburov seem to cover the thunder of the thrash. The progressive thrash continues well with "To Each His Own 5:08" which also incorporates a powerful solo and really balances out this nature of gothic and prog-thrash in a way that needs to be heard. The male vocal approach borders on death metal but doesn't cross the boundaries, remaining relatively aggressive. "World Undoing 5:56 continues this trend, showcasing both vocal styles and a slew of solos at the same time. I must also add that Japanese taiko drums and a Brazilian berimbao are used in this album, providing a sense of originality to the music.

The effect comes off as a much heavier version of Lacuna Coil or current Tristania but with a much rawer production approach. Everything is discernible though and should appeal to those who are looking for a much more aggressive approach to the Gothic metal style. This is a sort of progressive thrash metal that certainly seems to merit qualities that could shake up the current standard-fare of it all. Jennifer's operatic approach to vocals adds that "gothic touch" to this prog/thrash mixture which I am surprised has not been attempted (but then I remember Echoes Of Eternity, though they never used the aggressive vocals or as much of the prog as is incorporated here) by more bands in the past.

It's the refresher we need, as obviously the Gothic metal genre is dying a bit and nobody really wants to hear that follow up to Dark Adrenaline any time soon. Certainly as heavy as it is beautiful, I hope to hear much more from Descent Into Madness. Their decision to go with a female vocalist more fitting for Goth than some regular old due that would make them just another prog-thrash band should be commended and I think they will reap rewards in later years for this. Perhaps they'll also find a good drummer that they can take touring with them, as Marc Norgaard is great; but only a session man (which I need to explain my distaste for session musicians as there isn't the same kind of chemistry there that you would get from a full unit) which is unfortunate.

Blinded is a nice little EP with lots of promise to be had, I just wish it were an LP that offered a bit more from the band and further explored their potential. The EP is available from Amazon, iTunes and the band's official website. Go check it out.

Highlights: To Each His Own, World Undoing (3 Tracks, 37:00)



Gukurahundi - An Apparition In Nocturnal Splendor (Band Request 2013) - Gukurhundi is a two man black metal project that was offered to me by a man representing Manicidic Records. They certainly have their merit, as "An Apparition In Nocturnal Splendor 3:54" certainly hits hard enough and merits a good opener for the disc, but the track that follows "Dethroned 4:07" offers a bit more promise in it's grooves and slight death metal influence. The vocals on the disc are utterly scathing but just like most of this package, see the band still in it's infancy. "The Anarchist 3:53" comes in with thrash (but the instruments kind of seem in the background, rather than at the forefront and the ) but sticks to standard-fare black metal with a slight atmosphere intact. "Sombre Dreams To Gaze Upon 1:30" is something completely unexpected, as it evokes a lighthearted nature that doesn't even go with the rest of this disc. A great piece, but a bit misplaced; I'm afraid. The disc ends out with "The Carcass Of Christ 4:45" which comes off as a strong track (again, the vocals are too high in the mix and the instruments aren't quite at full-force) with a bit more of the groove sense and the meat being in the vocals which are at full force.

Gukurahundi still needs some time to gel properly, but that doesn't mean that there isn't potential here. It's definitely a sample EP in all regards, a "here's what we can do" so to speak; but with more time and effort the band certainly may have something here. Colucci's vocals work well even though they are much higher in the mix than the rest of the album and Nielsen proves that he's got the black metal style down, among others. I'll again stress how much I liked "Sombre Dreams To gaze Upon" even though it sounds alien to the rest of the release. However, it is these alien notions that might help this band to peak over others as I am reminded of The Meads Of Asphodel and Sigh which have been throwing nuances like this out for years and have received significant praise for it.

Gukurahundi's An Apparition In Nocturnal Splendor is worth looking into, but doesn't reinvent the wheel by any means. Perhaps they will have more to offer in the future.

Highlights: The Anarchist, Sombre Dreams To Gaze Upon (5 Tracks, 18:00)



Megabeardo - Ledjent Of Zelda (2013) - I'm not sure who this guy is, but this looked like something interesting, so I thought I would check it out. Basically what this guy did is take the soundtrack from The Legend Of Zelda and perform in djent metal with a great deal of melodic leads. It basically sounds like The Legend Of Zelda if Meshuggah had gotten a hold of it. I'll also mention that the production value for the release is much stronger than you might expect and it does sound like a quite professional attempt.

"Triforsphere 7:25" is the theme of Zelda, and though there are djent riffs aplenty, so are there loads of wonderful melodic leads. This track is aplenty with leads that not only spice up the original soundtrack but highlight certain sections like "get item" for example. For someone who's never been much a fan of djent, what has been done here is a worthy effort indeed. I'm quite impressed.

"Labyrinths Of Fragmented Wisdom 6:07" is the dungeon theme and certainly resembles the nature of the original, but certainly impresses upon it with actual game sounds and the same style melodic leads that without; would make the disc sound awfully boring. The djent riffs on this album more or less serve as a base for the haven of melodies that this contains. There's also a few instances of filter effects on the guitars and such (and the 8-bit drumming) which really helps to make this not only a great rendition of a great theme, but a tribute to the classic era of video gaming as well.

"Ganon Lives! 4:50" begins right with the original 8-bit music that quickly builds into metal and retains the nature of a battle with the evil wizard. This is supposed to be boss music and that's what it is. Remember, if Meshuggah had gotten a hold of it. "The ObzEND 6:12" is probably the worst cut on this disc though, it moves a little too slow for me and misses the mark in some areas, even though it is supposed to be the credits/victory music. However, the light melodies end it off on the right note.

In the end, Mega Beardo's Ledjent Of Zelda is a worthwhile album for both fans of djent metal, Nintendocore and regular old Nintendo metal. The leads are crisp, the riffs punishing, the drum work satisfying and the effects and experimentation useful. However, the result is a bit short and has me wondering... Is Metroid next?

Highlights: Triforsphere, Labyrinths Of Fragmented Wisdom, Ganon Lives! (4 Tracks, 24:00)



Shining - One One One (2013) - Blackjazz was a fluke. I have no idea what happened here, but I don't like it. I think?

"I Won't Forget 3:51" starts out like Judas Priest but despite all of the unconventionality, I find myself getting instantly irritated by the vocals. There is a nice use of electronic effects here though and some of the riffs thunder as hard as they would in like NIN, plus there's the added use of Saxophones in a way that I've never heard before in my life. "The One Inside 4:03" sounds like a sort of industrial rock with harsh vocals in places but is catchy nonetheless. Saxophones are utilized where guitar solos would be. Some parts of this track make me question my sanity.

"My Dying Drive 4:05" also has that NIN feel, but incorporates what sounds like dub-step - what in the hell is this? I will say that when this guy screams, it's refreshing. Perhaps if I've had a bad day at school, this would make me feel less conformist and that's cool right? "Off The Hook 3:37" Whoever thought this vocal style thought this would be good? Yes, the electronics are good, but you've gotta be kidding me right? This is anything goes as far as structure, maybe with twenty more listens I'll get it, but I don't know about this right now. Have you ever been confused by an album? I am.

"Blackjazz Rebels 3:28" starts out with a what the fuck notion as it manages to sort of catch my attention, maybe with some time I could get into this one. It's got a rock nature to it, I definitely like the drumming (and most of the drumming on this album is quite good to be honest) it's just a lot to process. "How Your Story Ends 4:38" starts out with sax and eventually turns into a sax-laden prog metal piece that goes into this rock vocal style he's attempting now. Whatever WAS black metal is DEFINITELY not now. What the fuck am I listening to?

This album sounds thrown together. Literally, this is that album where the guy just comes in and says and does whatever he wants and it's considered high art. Huh? Paint on the walls? Nah, this isn't pain on the wall. It's pain on the wall, floor, ceiling - imagine a whole room covered in paint. It's Jackson Pollack's nightmare.

"The Hurting Game 4:08" actually comes out quite well in the fact that it's furious and has some good effects utilized. But that's all I can say about it. "Walk Away 3:38" has an odd rock nature about it but attempts some interesting things, I'll give it that. What the hell? Is he counting? The album ends with the djent laden "Paint The Sky Black 4:18" But when there's no djent, I have no fucking idea what's going on. I can say one thing about this album, when Jorgen Munkeby was done with the recording of this album, he must have come back a lot happier; because the sheer amount of fucking fury on this disc is unparalleled. Every bit of stress and anger this guy felt got releases on this fucking album and you can hear that in the recording.

I have no fucking idea what to grade this one. Seriously, I'm not sure. Do I need to listen to it again? Do I need to forget it ever existed? Why did he count so much? Well, the album is called One One One, so that makes sense. I honestly have no idea what the fuck is going on right now. I do know that some people are going to think this is the greatest shit on earth and others are going to think it's the greatest SHIT on earth. I'm kind of in the middle, between feces and amazement; like a man just inches away from taking a step on a pile of feces on the lawn that surrounds the temple of the Gods. One can say that the odd King Crimson phase is here though - remember these guys did a cover for "21st Century Schizoid Man" and this one sounds like it was inspired by the group's later efforts in as much as it was by several electronic and industrial bands.

Highlights: I Won't Forget, Blackjazz Rebels, The Hurting Game (9 Tracks, 35:00)



Rob Zombie - Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor (2013) - Since I'm already worked up from that Shining release, I guess I'm ready to cover another oddity in the vein of Rob Zombie's new album. Based on a concept that only he knows (yes, the rest of the band have no idea of the story) this Grindhouse style album might bode well for some and seem like a piss on his legacy for others. I'm with that latter group, wondering what in the fuck happened to this guy and also with the crowd who is wondering why he is still making music.

"Teenage Nosferatu Pussy 4:33" is one of the few strong tracks here, but we've already heard it with other names on older releases. If you like this track, chances are because it's reminiscent of Hellbilly or The Sinister Urge. Then there's the single he made which is kind of a hippie rock track with a strong chorus but what in the hell is with some of these vocal lines? I guess it's catchy enough, but still not as good as previous efforts. After three listens I guess you get it. "Revelation Revolution 3:10" sounds like it might have been a good idea, but I don't think it came off as good as it should have. A riff that reminds me of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" comes in at some point here too. Here's a solo... well, there was a solo. Why even try?

"Theme For The Rat Vendor 1:01" is just the band attempting to make Indian music. A good attempt, but nothing at all special or interesting. 9/10 people will skip this. Then we have... oh yeah, then there's this one. You can tell I've listened to this one quite a bit as I'm a glutton for punishment, just in the same way I finished Duke Nukem Forever which is what this album reminds me of. The track I'm talking about is "Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Logga Rogga 3:19" which is too fucking much for me. He even trashes some of the lyrics in the song, going into a line and then saying "Ah, fuck it!" Yeah, the goddamn chorus is catchy, but why am I enjoying this? This is the sound of the end of his music career. I mean when the guy's singing about fucking Dewgong's or whatever, it's done. It's over.

"Rock In Roll (In A Black Hole) 4:14" is actually one of the other diamonds in this rough. I like the chorus riffs, but Rob's vocal approach would be better if he sounded like the gruff man that he used to. What the hell happened to that and where did this nasally approach come from? The electronic/metal style of this song is actually interesting (about the third time through.)

"Behold The Pretty Filthy Creatures 2:55" is decent enough, it reminds me of the last couple tracks on his compilation and the direction he was headed in years ago, but never went with Educated Horses. "White Trash Freaks 3:12" is also quite decent, it gives us signature Zombie but it's just not as good. Surprisingly, I was really amazed with their Grand Funk Railroad cover of "We're An American Band 3:29" which they actually did a wonderful job of. Seriously, this is a good cover and it does the original justice. I didn't know they had it in them.

"Lucifer Rising 3:18" is another heavy number, it can be taken to mean the rising of the devil or the rising of the phallus, which seems to be the nature of this one. It reminds me of the earlier work for sure and does actually come off just as well. There's also a solo featured on the track, even though it's all over the place. "The Girl Who Loved The Monster 3:56" also comes off the same way. There's really not much difference here and the stuff that was done in Hellbilly now that I notice it. The chorus riffs come off the same way and there's still electronics (remember that "Living Dead Girl" also used electronics) featured and some heavier riffs toward the end.

The closer "Trade In Your Guns For A Coffin 2:10" is very much a punk-inspired filler track though. It's decent, but I don't think it's really going to hit as hard as the last one. I'm just honestly thankful to hear some Hellbilly reminiscent material on here, despite some really bad ideas. I don't know how well this album will sell (It's at Best Buy for 11.99 with no bonus tracks as far as I'm aware) but I'm still waiting on the soundtrack for The Lords Of Salem so I can hear the black metal track that the band made. Ever since he talked about getting into the lo-fi black metal of Mayhem and Darkthrone, I've been curious.

Rob Zombie's Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor will not make any new fans, but it's definitely going to appeal to current and past fans with certain tracks. Perhaps "Lucifer Rising" or "The Girl Who Loved The Monster" will appear as future videos as I don't think that "Dead City Radio..." really sells the album as well as some of these others might. Still, there are some rather shit choices strewn about this disc like the "Theme For The Rat Vendor." I guess it is the kind of release you have to listen to more than once and I'm putting my foot in my mouth now that I notice a few tracks here that would feel right at home on earlier, more respected releases. You're going to pay 12.00 plus tax for the disc, but only about 5.00 of that is worth the money.

I'll also take it back, the Reign Of Vengeance record wasn't as good as this one. Which isn't to say it's great, but it's better than older albums I've heard from this guy. At least there were A FEW good tracks. As I've scored it, it's alright. A couple of tracks on here I liked, but nothing spectacular.

Highlights: Teenage Nosferatu Pussy, Rock In Roll (In A Black Hole), We're An American Band, Lucifer Rising, The Girl Who Loved The Monster (12 Tracks, 38:00)


As bonus I will include the "black metal track" written for Zombie's recent bomb, The Lords Of Salem. It's called "Crushing The Ritual" by Leviathan The Fleeting Serpent (or John 5 in all actuality.) Only featured in the movie and on the OST, it is not featured on this album. It is inspired by acts like Darkthrone and Mayhem. No, really. I'm serious!

Here is how Rob Zombie does black metal... Enjoy. Or don't. You probably won't.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 77 (April 22nd, 2013)


Omega Reign - Arise (PR2013) - Omega Reign is a band that's definitely worth checking out for fans of everything from Queensryche to Anthrax and even Iced Earth. They're a band that has classic metal in their blood and every note on this disc proves it. These Boston, Mass. progressive thrash metallers come equipped with thundering riffs, vocals that remind me of Joey Belladonna for sure - and great drumming that all seems to add up to an impressive blast from the past. Everything about this album sounds like it was made in the good old days of metal; before technicality and core and even death and black metal which almost everyone owes something to in the modern metal scene. The production on the disc sounds dated, but I'd have it no other way - it literally reminds me so much of Anthrax at their most classic (Among The Living, State Of Euphoria) that some of the songs here "Doomsday 3:25", "Invisible World/The Eidolon 3:48" sound like they could've been written by Anthrax themselves.

But that's not all these guys do, as the prog influences creep up right at the beginning with the synth backed soloing of opener "Will The Light Come 6:17" and horror-tinged keyboards of "Nocturnal 5:42." No, these guys aren't some kind of Anthrax rip-off, they're something with much more potential than that and all of these tracks prove it. Though I couldn't much get into "Prison In Your Eyes 4:55" I will admit that I noticed the Iron Maiden influenced riffing in it and it's definitely not a bad song. I'll also say that "This Poem Is Goodbye 3:48" took a while to warm up, but it's got a great ending as can also be said for "Prison." But nothing on this one is truly filler and these guys definitely have enough talent and skill to go out there and really bring back the classic sounds of metal that that genre is really in need of right now. (How core are we going to get, folks?)

Arise is a worthy debut from a band that are just getting warmed up. Hopefully they'll get picked up and can continue to make more great metal that sounds the just the way it used to. It's a great mix of thrash and prog that will be further honed in future efforts - I'm sure of it. Damn sure.

Highlights: Will The Light Come, Bitter, Doomsday, Nocturnal, The Way You Lived, Invisible World/The Eidolon, Killer (9 Tracks, 41:00)



Monsterworks - Album Of Man (PR2013) - Since this is the physical representation of both of the band's previous efforts Man:Instincts & Man:Intrinsic, I will simply add my collected reviews of these in such a fashion that it will represent the whole album; amending to it the four new tracks in their respective places.

As Monty Python would say, "...And now for something completely different." And that's no joke. These London Brits (and I'm talking about the band now) definitely have a great idea going on here. The idea is also rather simple:

Don't give a fuck about trends, just make the kind of music you want to make. As they state boldly in all caps, "IMAGE IS NOTHING; METAL IS EVERYTHING."

That definitely seems to be the case here. When the disc starts out with "The Creation Dream 4:46", I'm treated to what sounds like light rock and then all of the sudden a harsh vocal comes in where it normally wouldn't be. Then there's a high pitch vocal like the kind that would be used in power metal. Of course, prog is a definite part of this band, as is acoustics (at least on this album) as this whole disc features both acoustic and electric guitars being played at the same time. "It's Alive 3:56" starts out thundering as it dooms down a bit, yet has some 70's melodies that balance out the death metal and prog nature. And add a solo - a good one, as to be expected. "Unconditional Lie 4:40" starts the disc out with a raw (but audible) production value that opens with a beautiful melody and a high pitch vocal that soon duets with a death growl. While this sort of thing has been done before, no band has done this kind of material quite like these guys.

"All Suns Die 2:54" is just such a song where this comes into play, as well as the high pitch vocal chorus. "Harden To Art 1:10" is quite short, but one of the more pummeling tracks on the disc featuring more harsh vocal and drum barraging than the rest of the tracks on the disc. "Known 4:54" starts out much differently, bringing unexpected clean fronted acoustics and showing the full spectrum of capability in this amazing act. Light melodies are also added, just to keep up the mood. They clearly aren't afraid to add these acoustic and light-hearted moments, nor mix them in with a slightly doomier/sludgier style with "Taste Of Doom 3:36." As usual with these guys, the whole process sounds organic and just fucking works.

"Being Human 2:13" is another acoustic track, much in the vein of "Known" but it seems much calmer and a bit more ritualistic. "Free Will 4:28" features a bit more of a heavy nature, along with both high pitch and death metal vocals. Of course, the best moment on this disc is the closer "Air 7:26" which is not only breathtaking, but showcases some truly epic moments. Rest assured, all the time on this track is used to effectiveness, and for that matter, all of the time on this disc is used effectively. Not only is the effort catchy, but the music is also done exceptionally well. I'll also add that the quality of the music here sounds much higher than on the original EP's and things appear much clearer.

As for musical talent, this band certainly has it. There are plenty of good riffs on this one and the drumming is done with solid precision, breaking out of the box that some drummers like to encase themselves in. James has a good balance of heavy and light drumming, which is important for this type of progressive metal. There are also plenty of "rock solos" on this thing, which in any other fashion wouldn't go together, but these guys make them work. In a package done so well, it's all just icing on the cake. Monsterworks still have their very best days ahead of them.

Finally, the full length master of this effort has been released and as a whole things are much more cohesive. The disc tops the length of both EP's and is ten minutes past a half an hour in length. I highly recommend that you sit down and enjoy this impressive work as one piece and FEEL the music offered here. Now that the whole thing is finished, let's go ahead and call it one of the most promising albums of 2013 and definitely one of the years best. If you haven't heard it, you now have no reason not to check it out - it's finished!

Highlights: The Creation Dream, Unconditional Lie, All Suns Die, Taste Of Doom Known, Free Will, Air (10 Tracks, 40:00



Decrepitaph/Humiliation - The Carnal Slumber/Enemy's Perimeter (PR2013) - Well, you can't like them all. I want to try to find something in everything, but sometimes you just can't. Such is the case here with this two track split from Decrepitaph and Humiliation.

As for the first track, Decrepitaph's "The Carnal Slumber 4:42" I will say that I like Elektrocutioner's (Father Befouled, Encoffination exc.) vocals on this solo project as they are full of only the thickest gravel in all of death metal, but I just don't know about the drum work here. It just doesn't seem all that powerful, despite it's doom-laden moments and the guitar also seems a bit lost in the mix (TURN UP YOUR AMP!) However, it's got a raw feel that might really appeal to fans of the extremely classic sound and I like the riff melodies right at the end of the track.

As for the second track "Enemy's Perimeter 4:10" from Malaysian old school death metallers Humiliation, it begins with the sounds of battle and angry drums that lead into the same gravel approach, but with a considerably more foreign inflection. There are certainly some groove moments and after a sort of disco take on the kit, it goes back into the sounds of battle where it ends.

These two tracks are worth checking out for as noted, "death metal purists." But I don't think they're a necessity. All in all, they're alright but nothing all that special.

(2 Tracks, 8:00)



Septekh - Apollonian Eyes (PR2013) - Fuck yeah. That's all I have to say about his one. (Well, not all I have to say about this one, but you get my point.) Septekh has come out with another fucking great death/thrash EP, but I'm still waiting for that LP release that's going to wipe the floor with 9/10 of the death/thrash scene, of that I'm completely sure. Not only do these guys have the oddest fucking image I've seen in metal, (get a look at their vocalist's awesome beard and three-piece suit) but they absolutely fucking kill with each and every one of these three songs. With the harshness of black metal and some unconventional riffing, not to mention drums that sound like they're on fire half the time; these guys could be one of those bands that everyone starts talking about in record time.

Seriously, by the time we got to "Cursing The Skies 3:18" I was fucking floored. That means I already enjoyed the bizarre lyrics (but they're fucking unique) and "we don't give a fuck" style thrash of title track "Apollonian Eyes 3:48", the no holds barred sensibilities of "Burn It To The Ground 3:09" which needs no explanation and the closer, "Vlad Tepes 5:45" which is bursting through the roof with promise. The black metal influenced grooves of this oddly interesting song (I have no idea who they're referring to, but they want you to know that Vlad Tepes was their bitch.) Damn, what a fucking song.

If this guys come out with a full length next year, the name Septekh might very well be on damn near every tongue in the metal community. It is bands like this, that no one ever expects and do their own thing; that become noticed.

God I fucking love this.

Highlights: All (4 Tracks, 16:00)



Thousand Year War - Kingdom Of America (PR2013) - Though I only got a picture of one guy, I hear more voices on this record so I'm not sure if this is a solo project or not. At any rate, the disc blazes at the beginning with the thrasher "Kingdom Of America 2:55" which does contain a little melody portion where there's a fucking choir style vocal inserted. Definitely DIY and I like that. Kind of black, kind of punk, kind of thrash and then there's the operatic stuff. Interesting.

"Weep As We Die 3:53" gets a little slower, but it contains the same feel - things are a little rough, but well structured and will polish out with time. Interesting duet on the chorus here. Solo eventually comes in, but it's quite short. Next track is a Misfits cover of "London Dungeon (Misfits Cover) 3:16" but I think it's kind of messy, there's just a lot going on (vocally) all at the same time for the first part of the track.

"Doom Rides These Mountains 3:14" is a great instrumental that shows all of the potential that these guys have mixing black metal and technicality along with some melodic leads. Things get a little majestic but encumber with prog as they go back to being majestic again. "Vulture Eyes 2:51" thrashes back into battle with a drum assault, but I'm not so sure about the quick choruses, kind of seems just a bit rushed. I do like the riff melodies toward the latter part of the song. "Gather The Wolves 4:36" is the last track here and it shares the same riffs but the same odd vocal approach, I understand where they're going with this one but I think some of the duets aren't that great - however the musicianship is quite good. I still think the act needs some polishing but it's definitely different.

If you like punk, thrash and melodic black metal with some folk influence on the riffs in addition to a raw DIY vocal approach, Thousand Year War might be just what you're looking for. An interesting act, but just not there yet.

Highlights: Kingdom Of America, Doom Rides These Mountains, Gather The Wolves (6 Tracks, 20:00)



Reign Of Vengeance - The Final Solution: The Final Rebellion (PR2013) - First of all, I've got to point this out:

"Since the release of the last album, front man Marshall “fucking” Beck has plunged himself into the systems and studies of the “Illumed.” He has grown to know their aims, their religion, and the goals of its sects. He has been enlightened, having accepted and having realized that the All Seeing Eye controls this realm. He has come to understand that with its guidance and assistance the rewards for those that abide by its will are Many. With the age of Osiris and Isis ended, the New World Age (Order) of Horus shall bring forth a world of peace that shall last throughout the remaining Aeons of time. The second form of Atlantis shall rise forth and bring with it ONLY the enlightened and illuminated individuals. However, with every revolution there is always ascension. Therefore, in order for ITS quest for world peace to be completed there must first be a massive internment and conflagration/decontamination of the flesh from those that refuse ITS Faith."

Um... dude? Really? Sure you've learned about the aims of the Illumi as far as a utopic vision, but truly believing that a utopia can exist is foolhardy, and even so - what is a utopia built on bloodshed? That makes it no better than Christianity, which in itself has a bloody history despite that it is the opposite of what it's founder wanted. The "all seeing eye" controls this realm? Alright, so what realm is this then? Who birthed the all seeing eye? Has it been here all along, just like the Judeo-Christian concept of God?

Massive internment... this explains the FEMA camps. Whoops. I'm probably not supposed to talk about the re-education camps here. Oh well, I fucked up. It would also explain the mass purchase of ammo and weapons, as well as giant plastic coffins that can fit three bodies... and bird flu, which has killed a great deal of animals in China. That explains the conflagration/decontamination of other humans. But what Marshall doesn't know (and probably hasn't been checking out Vigilant Citizen for the photos) is that he will more than likely NOT be accepted into this glorious new world. Why? That is simple. You've got to be worthy to be elite. Playing metal music in this fashion is not going to make you join in their ranks. The elite controls pop music in the vein of Rhianna, Beyonce, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Jay-Z and some even believe that Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters may have a connection to it. But these are just puppets and they'll soon be dealt with too. The only people who will be around to see this "glorious new age" will be the wealthiest of people, the elite in all respects. These media puppets are used to distract the people and subliminally imprint upon them the masters who control this world. In all honesty Marshall sounds like the man who would say, "But I believed in you!" as these elite masters or their shock troops (death squads as I've called them in my novels) fill his body with a barrage of bullets. Unforgivingly harsh and blunt, but true. This is nothing to fuck with. For a man who has studied the occult for many years, I've seen their energy gathering techniques and even for those of you who don't believe in the occult - they do. That's what makes them dangerous. Belief is power, as I have always said. Don't get blinded by the light, balance is the way of the universe, balance in structured chaos.

Now, for the album. Reign Of Vengeance contains several big names like Tim Gibson (who has written and toured with many label acts) Doug Williams (Original bassist for Cephalic Carnage and Origin) and is considered here a grindcore pioneer. He's also an army vet. It also features an actor and session drummer by the name of James Applegate. I'm curious as to what films he might have been in (will check IMDB later) and then there's Marshall who's booked over 450 shows for metal bands of all tiers throughout the United States (Major horns for that, regardless of the latter.) He's also been through ten years of vocal training and has shared the stage with a slew of musicians, some of them world re-known.

The disc is... well - the storyline isn't important. But I'm really trying to decipher this mix. There's some growls and some great melodies here and a lot of hardcore influence that I could do without. The first song is "Fuck The Recession, Kill Those That Caused It 4:04" which wouldn't he be for a global collapse? I dunno. As I said, there's a lot of core here that I wouldn't have expected, but this track is catchy even though there is a solo on it that seems kind of out of place. "Amassing Towards The Truth 3:52" comes off well enough with some thrashier notions among some death metal elements but it's mostly drenched in hardcore. There's a nice solo here that also comes out of nowhere, but works. I'm really confused here guys.

"The Master's Summons 4:36" begins with drums that I wish were a bit heavier and then goes into a vocal duet, but at least this has more death metal influence. One thing about this album is that it sounds very, well - unmastered. I'm not sure if these guys were actually in the same place when they recorded this and it comes off that way. There's a good guitar melody in the background there. Drums start thrashing again - doesn't sound as core, more like thrash now. Calling for the new age. Oh yeah, that sounds great. Sounds like a party.

"The Grand Hecatomb 3:41" bashes amongst it's death metal sensibilities. This one's actually fucking good, reminds me a bit of Immolation, who are coincidentally about to release an album based on this same concept. (I for some reason expect Slayer to also do an album with songs about this. The Illumi is certainly selling.) The final track on this disc is "The Final Rebellion 4:43" which uses more of that gravel approach that I wish would be used more throughout this album. The scream/hardcore stuff just rubbed me the wrong way and I think that the drummer was playing too much in a core style, not actual death metal which isn't working for me. This would have been better with one vocalist. However, it's one of few highlights.

All in all, I wouldn't recommend this EP. Regardless of the message, I just don't think it's all that strong. I'm not really sure where they were headed on this album and weren't so sure on the very first listen. Now having gone through this a second and third time, I still don't hear anything that really catches my ear. A good set of musicians, sure - but they might be better off finding a death metal skinsman (can't be that hard in AZ, can it?) and honing in on structure a bit more. To have played with so many professional and world renowned bands, you would think that things would sound much cleaner here than they do.

However, it's still better than the new Rob Zombie album.

Highlights: Fuck The Recession - Kill Those Who Caused It, The Grande Hecatomb, The Final Rebellion (5 tracks, 20:00)

4/10 (Definitely rubbed me the wrong way and again, this has nothing to do with the lyrical content - just wasn't feeling the music.)


Years Of Tyrants - Leading The Blind (PR2013) - Considered to be the missing link between Beneath The Massacre and Necrophagist, Years Of Tyrants (which features past and present members of Rise Of The Northstar and Resistance) certainly does seem to be well crafted deathcore. Now it's not often that you hear me say that, but putting them in the vein of Necrophagist isn't as much blasphemy as you'd think. The music is quite multi-structured and very ADD in all respects, but I feel that "Through Infamy 4:14" really showcases some great things to come from this new act. As expected, several of the tracks on this one are quite short but they do show off different facets of the act. However, I do feel that the track labeled "(interlude) 1:02" is a djent filler that's a mere waste of studio time.

Another track that sticks out here is "This World Is Ours 3:21" which I found some interesting experimentation in, just some little fiddlings that make things sound more than ordinary. Yes, you've got deathcore breakdowns on the disc; but you've got to give these guys some credit for really playing up the technicality. There's also a little war-laden piano instrumental "Leading The Blind 1:17" that reminds of the music they play when showing animals in cages or that music that played during the end credits of The Hulk TV show.

While not reinventing the wheel or doing anything different than other technical deathcore bands of their type, they certainly have a talent and realized aim on this record that's worth checking out. The disc is only less than a half an hour long, so don't tell me that you don't have the time to listen to it. That's less time than it takes for most people to have sex.

Just give it a shot, folks. It won't kill you. At least I hope it won't...

Highlights: Through Infamy, This World Is Ours (9 Tracks, 24:00)



Nocturne - Ave Noctem (PR2013) - Nocturne is a self-described Black/Death and heavy metal band that's certainly got some promise in my book. Whoever their frontman is, he writes lyrics about as long as I do (and I'll bet you that he's reading them off as he records in the same fashion that I do, it's only after the umpteenth thousandth time hearing the song before you know them to the note) and with as much meaning. I think that the message on the opener "Pursuance Of The Righteous Elucidation 6:56" has got to be one of the most positive messages I've heard in this music and proves that black metal tinged music is not all about death and despair. If you'll notice, David Gold also had some very powerful messages in his music, despite it's sorrowful nature (I still wear "Mirror Reflection & The Hammer Reinvention" like a badge) and that's why I believe it will last long after his death.

The concept of this album is fantastic, I'm exponentially glad that these lyrics were included. The disc basically begins with the positive message and then goes onto to illustrate an individual who is battling depression, falling deeper and deeper into the abyss. It's something very personal, these are trying times and many people are dealing with this as we speak. But the last song, "The Abyss 6:40" is about escaping the abyss and ascending to divinity, our divinity that has no concept of religion; only impervious universal and spiritual ties that no man can break.

But as it does that, the melodies play a key part of this album, and they're fantastic. The drumming isn't necessarily perfect, but it's definitely good enough and the melodies of the disc are more than enough to sell me. The vocals are also powerful, letting loose scowls, growls and clean vocals that make up a package that really reminds me of the same nature of material as early Woods Of Ypres.

"Ave Noctem 2:30" shortly separates the disc in half with a light instrumental that sounds like a horse being ridden in the background of a melancholy tune. By the time that "Pain Of Purity 7:18" hits, you know you're dealing with a band full of potential. Again, I'm pulling the Woods influence here. But who the hell else can pull off Woods? These guys apparently. "Pain" is an extremely good reminder of that fact, hitting with sullen black metal riffs, clean vocals that back scowls and some growls that envelop into the fury of black metal drum torture.

Each and every track on this album has it's own feel, like "The Prodigious Plight 6:11" reminding me of Mayhem and "Anxiopath 5:36" reminding me of the modern black metal movement that Satyricon pioneered in 2006 (Well, you could say that Volcano's "Fuel For Hatred" was the actual first use of this) and of course there's Emperor influence on the closer, "The Abyss 6:40" as I can smell those Ihsahn riffs from about a mile. There's even a bit of Agalloch to be found. The disc is certainly a black metal scavenger hunt, if you're willing to take it.

Nocturne's Ave Noctem has a strong concept, along with powerful melodies, impressive vocals and drumming that is able to keep up with every style of black metal that is utilized on this album. It's not only an album about punching depression in the breadbasket and finding your godhood, it's also a great tribute to black metal in all of it's incarnations. A definite recommend for all black metal fans.

Highlights: All (7 Tracks, 44:00)



Morgengrau - Extrinsic Pathway (PR2013) - Prepare to be amazed. This is some great 80's-90's era death metal that sounds like Death at their very best. Not the real technical/proggy Death, but the more bloodthirsty incarnation that came before that. The riffs and melodies on this fucking thing are drenched and blood and filled with the tone of no remorse. This is how I want death metal to sound. The vocals are absolutely unreal, sounding like they came from an unholy demon from the dankest pits of the fucking abyss. But then I'm going to throw you this curveball...

This isn't being done by your average long haired death-growler. Yes, these insane melodies are being played by a woman - a woman who also bellows forth the complete and utter fury of the fucking pit in a way unlike I've ever heard before. Angela Gossow would wet herself at these vocals, that almost sound like frontwoman and lead guitarist Erika Tandy's (ex-Ignitor, Autumn Tears) been hitting the roids. Completely drenched in testosterone, she gives all female vocalists I've heard in this music a run for their money and further asserts the female presence in heavy metal music. To put it bluntly, all of you metalheads out there who still think that a woman's place is "in the kitchen cooking your fucking dinner" need to sit down and check this one out, so that you can shit yourself in the unexpected revelry and fury brought forth from this foul beast.

Riff after riff shines in a way that I think would make Chuck Schuldiner shed a tear or two if he had still been able. Truly the spirit of Death lives on in this band (as well as in many others) in both the shorter bashers like "Grave Of Lies 3:27" and more pronounced shows of musicianship in "Extrinsic Pathway 6:32." But there's also a female behind the kit and she's damn good too. Trust me, Reba Carls bashes those drums with the best of them - she's a goddamned beast on the kit. There's also two dudes (Nick Norris and Jacob Holmes) who play bass and guitar and they also do a tremendous job helping to translate this ancient message from metal's past and see it well received in metal's present. It was also mixed by Devo from Marduk. (Yes, it was. I'm not lying to you. If you don't believe me, ask him yourself.)

Here, there are no breakdowns. There's no hardcore influence, no djent, no clean vocals, no acoustics, no jazz, no female clean singing, no technicality "let's see how fast and complicated we can play" and no slow moments of drone. This is death metal the way it used to sound years ago and as far as I'm concerned, It sounds fucking great - fucking timeless, even. The band admits to Death worship and considers late 80's and 90's death and speed metal to be their major influences. As noted, you can definitely hear it.

I've also noticed that this band isn't fucking signed. Why? How? This is much better than 80% of the shit that hits major labels these days. This is the album I would pass by to eager young metalheads who enjoy their Asking Alexandria and The Bunny The Bear, telling them "this is what real metal sounds like. Don't forget it - ever."

I loved every goddamned song from first listen. There's no filler on this one, just complete 100% killer with memorable riffs, melodies and structure. If you wanted a new Death album, here it is. This is what Death sounds like, it's what death metal sounds like. Just like I'd tell that kid...

"Don't fucking forget it - ever."

Highlights: The Disc (8 Tracks, 38:00)



Atrocity - Okkult (PR2013) - After an album that had more in common with Dead Can Dance then it did Entombed, Atrocity are back. But before you get to nay-saying I'm going to tell you right now that despite some slight operatic/symphonic influence, this is a big change from the chants and clean vocals of the past and is a Gothic death metal album in truest sense.

Let me repeat that. Atrocity's new album is a death metal album. The second track on the album "Death By Metal 3:33" actually features riffs that were written back in the band's death metal days along with some new ones that really craft a classic death metal track. Yes, this isn't just death metal, it's traditional death metal. Most of you are going to shit when I say this, but it's true.

As the opener "Padaemonium 6:22" and "March Of The Dying 3:57" do contain the choirs and orchestra which has certainly been part of Atrocity's formula for years now, they are still great tracks in their own right and feature plenty of estranged vocals, vicious guitars and pure savagery amidst bits of class. "Haunted By Demons 3:55" reminds me a bit of deathy-Moonspell but it certainly works with the slight orchestral laden death of "Murder Blood Assassination 5:51" which comes off to me as the very expression of the term "Gothic Death Metal."

"Necromancy Divine 7:01" is an absolute slaughterhouse of a track, proving that these guys are going to bash your skull open on the stage when they start playing shows once again in support of this disc real soon. Remember, this is the kind of Gothic death metal that Therion quit playing. We heard glimpses of it on "Typhon" but now we've got a band that says "Hey, let's bring this shit back!" and I'm more than happy to be promoting this colossal effort to you. "Satan's Braut 3:22" has more of a German industrial groove without the groove, but it's a got one hell of a solo.

"Masaya 3:07" comes in with tumultuous fury, the drum kit sounds like it's liable to break from the first couple of workouts as the grooves calm things down a bit, yet still see the track as quite catchy. "When Empires Fall To Dust 4:24" is the song that Therion wishes they wrote way back when. It's got an interesting lead riff and features choirs in the right place as the chorus hits hard, fiercely reaffirming Atrocity's place in the world of death metal. "Beyond Perpetual Ice 3:45" actually makes me think of Dark Tranquility a bit in the melodies and considering how good Construct was, (Oops, did I say that out loud? I haven't heard Construct yet. Silly me.) any semblance of DT worship is fine with me. The song also contains a nice solo to balance these awesome fucking melodies. This one is definitely a highlight for me, as I'm a sucker for a good melody. The album ends with the longest track on the album "La Voisine 8:20" which starts out with some eerie atmospheres ala Cradle Of Filth, but they feel at home here. Then when the atmospheres stop and lead into roaring death metal that goes hand in hand with the orchestra that backs it, you'll realize that you've just become interested in Atrocity once again. These guys have brought back a style of metal that was damn near dead, and I hope that the next two chapters of this saga will be even more focused in the realms of traditional Gothic death metal and won't rely so much on some of the more industrial or groove riffs. These gentlemen have proven that they still have what it takes, despite the fact that they will lose some fans on this one. But for a band that does whatever they feel is right for the art; I don't think they're much worried about dropping a few ears. I certainly love this reinvigoration of the band's most classic sound and am eager to hear and promote the further evolutions.

If you said the words "I'm done with Atrocity" now is the time to recant that statement and see that yes, this is indeed a death metal disc and it's certainly worth checking out. I do believe that future efforts will congeal the sound much better though and it still needs a bit of polish, they're a little rusty and that's to be expected. However, I don't believe that this is an album you'd want to miss out on this year as it's certainly a sucker punch from a band who's done everything under the sun and beyond.

Certainly one of the most unexpected releases of the year, if not the most unexpected release of 2013. Don't forget to grab the special edition with the bonus track that will allow you to start the treasure hunt.

Highlights: Death By Metal, Murder Blood Assassination, Necromancy Divine, Masaya, When Empires Fall To Dust, Beyond Perpetual Ice, La Voisine
(12 Tracks, 55:00)



Nails - Abandon All Life (2013) - Let's be honest. I was reading in Decibel how the head honcho (Albert Mudrian) was shitting himself over this record and I heard some other things about it, so I downloaded it real quick to see how it was. Having never heard of the band or the music but knowing that it was a bit grindcore I thought, "well I've heard grind done right before, let's give this a shot."

In that moment, I should've just said "nah" and deleted the damn thing right then and there. Not only is it 17 minutes worth of music being touted as a full length, but it's more or less a bunch of gentlemen seeing how fast they can play their instruments and screaming incoherently. I want to get a band together that just does this, (I could have made this album in about an hour) and then get signed so that Mr. Mudrian can say that it's an album that he can't stop listening to. The tracks are... What tracks? Most of these are a little more than a minute and offer nothing separate from the last one. It sounds like a horrible jumbled mess for the most part - just a bunch of guys screaming and yelling and masturbating all at the same time. Converge worship? Sure. Like a quarter of Converge worship can be found here and some simplistic doom riffs that you'll hear on "Wide Open Wound 3:36."

But the most interesting thing that you'll hear on the album is in "Abandon All Life 1:21" at about the 44 second mark, where the music just cuts off and switches to some rather cheery folk music along with horns. Wow. Where did this come from? Whatever side of Nails this is, I want to hear more of it. This is by far one of the best musical surprises that I've encountered in the history of music and will make this album a standout album for me. When someone mentions Nails, I'll say "Oh yeah, I know those guys - they screamed and yelled the whole time and then there was this awesome folk music!"

I guess Nails is what happens when you mix hardcore and grindcore together. It just sounds like a big fucking mess of noise. To tell you the truth, I've heard bands that were noisier and I've liked them. This is just... well, "I hate my ____ music." You fill in the blank. Job? Significant Other? Life? Yeah. you get the idea.

Nails? Yeah, nails in the coffin for metal. But before I get done with this, I guess I can mention the shitstorm of "Suum Cuique 5:22" who sees the band trying anything (drone, solos, doom riffs again) to break away from the album's other tracks which all sound round about the same. Except for the folk music. That's the best part of the whole experience.

Grown men listen to Svart Crown. I would highly recommend that plate of anger to this plate of... well, it sounds more like hormones. Why listen to fast food, when you can get a full dose of heaping hatred on Profane? But if that's not good enough for you, go back and look a few weeks back - I can guarantee that you will find something that hits harder than this. Remember those guys who I said the album was like 15 minutes or something when it was actually 30? Yeah, those guys are way better than this. Same style, just better music.

How are these guys even grindcore? This is more like core-grind. It certainly grinded at my core for a while, until it ended. That was the best part. You know, after the folk music. Definitely a pass.

Highlights: Wide Open Wound, Suum Cuique, The folk music in Abandon All Life
(10 Tracks, 17:00)



Spock's Beard - Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep (2013 Ltd. Edition) - My first question is simple. Why was this a Kickstarter project? No, seriously. Why did a known and respected prog band feel the need to dig into their fans' pockets in order to finance an album that their current label or own bank accounts could have funded with no problem? At any rate, the album leaked in it's full capacity online a long time before the physical version of the disc, which still hasn't come out yet and has been snipped of half the album.

You heard me right. They cut off half the album and called it "exclusive." This makes me incredibly angry, like the new Bioshock Infinite game that suffices to continue the story with DLC, making you pay more money for a game that should have had the three common values of beginning, middle and end. Instead, just like this new album from prog powerhouse, Spock's Beard; we have just a beginning and a middle. (The album cover also needs to be fixed, the S & B look too much like an S D and I don't want to add what the D might stand for...)

Where's the end? Well, you have to pay extra for those last three tracks. But if you pay super extra, you'll get a worthless remix and an instrumental that should have overlapped one of the tracks on this album to begin with.

At any rate, my version of the disc - let's call it complete - contains ten tracks that clock in 76 minutes. The normal version of the disc that will ship in stores only contains seven tracks and will come in at 56 minutes. If you don't believe me, check Amazon. That's twenty minutes of great prog that you're not getting. If we add the instrumental, that's twenty-five minutes of great prog that once again; you're not getting. Nickel and dime-ing us with DLC in the form of "bonus tracks" is probably a great business decision, but it doesn't say much for the moral character of the band. If you're in the business of making music, then you shouldn't be making music at all. If you're more worried about how much money you're going to make then the impact that this music is going to have on the people, I would rather you just turn in your instruments and never play another note.

Now for the review.

Brief Nocturnes is certainly a solid prog metal record (you'll have to excuse me, but I'm shortening the title because I don't want to write out the full name of the disc every time) replete with keyboard theatrics, magnificent guitar soundscapes and slight 70's influence. I'm not used to the current vocalist, but that's because I haven't gotten through all of the band's old work yet and really like the band's original frontman much better. This guy just has a sort of feminine vocal quality to me, like he's more fragile than the band's old frontman who carried a more masculine sense about him. "Hiding Out 7:13" is certainly a strong track that makes a great opener and shows off with exquisite guitar melodies and an amazing guitar/keyboard solo that certainly starts the disc out on the right foot.

"I Know Your Secret 7:40" starts off with a very unique and spacey keyboard effect that certainly stands out as it displays it's nature as a solid prog rocker replete with some great solo work - but the secret to this song is in that keyboard effect. To make a song really kick on one keyboard sound effect surely shows the ingenuity of this act. There's a slight slowdown in the track but it's later highlighted with am impressive set of light melodies that eventually rev up the chorus. "A Treasure Abandoned 8:53" starts off with the same keyboard theatrics, but quickly turns into acoustic rock. It's main quality seems to be in the chorus, as the frontman really shows his meddle here. He's got some good notes - I'll give him that, but I really like the chorus here. At about the middle point the Theremin style effect that the band has been trying to emulate on most of this album gets used again as the prog jam session threatens to warm up but doesn't as lighter melodies and something that sounds like carnival music for a few seconds decorates the track. Lighter influences continue as the keyboards highlight the chorus and then the tempo slows to allow more way for the guitar and keyboards. Essentially strong progressive rock/metal.

Alright, here's the low water mark for me. "Submerged 4:57" is short and sweet, perhaps too sugary for my tastes - it's just very boring and could've been replaced by "Postcards From Perdition 4:27." It also features some lines from the frontman that make me want to reach out of there and strangle him. These exercises seem a little too feminine for me and they smell of old tampons. Not only that, the track is more or less "radio quality" and whoever suggested this as a single needs a bullet in their head. Yes, the chorus is catchy. But what else does this really have? Put this on radio all you like, but it doesn't actually capture the spirit of prog, which is not meant to be confined to short little ditties.

"Afterthoughts 6:18" thankfully is the album's palette cleanser, the band's literal "we're sorry for "Submerged." which begins with 70's keyboards and takes some influence from King Crimson. The frontman belts out a good chorus, but the vocal lines aren't quite as good in the beginning as the operatic portion in the middle of the song. This acapella notion is fantastic and is only made better by the keyboard/guitar solo that follows later. This is prog done right, at it's perfection. "Something Very Strange 8:33" comes next, opening with atmosphere, robotic vocals and some awesome keyboard work. It continues for quite a while until the vocals come in about the 3:19 mark. The guy really hits with the chorus and it's got an interesting lyrical concept, suggesting the arrival of aliens. Of course, I'm one to believe that other forms of life are already here - interacting with us in human disguise. Face it, the universe is just too ostentatiously large for me to believe otherwise. As usual, the keyboards and guitar solo have it here. The reprise of the chorus also lights the track on fire right before it's keyboard-laden outro.

The last track on the standard version of the album is "Waiting For Me 12:36" which takes as much from prog rock as much as it takes from Journey and Elton John. It's very light-hearted and seems to welcome again; the arrival of an alien race. (Perhaps there really is an Ancient Terra?) The track takes a break for prog jams and then lightens for a bit to allow the godlike soloing that the album has been mostly known for (little bit of Pink Floyd influence) as keyboards come back into the fold and then both the keyboard and guitar play well with each other. After the chorus, the guitar serenades us out with the effect of bells and whatnot. Definitely progressive rock at it's finest.


Again, as great as these tracks may be; according to Amazon, there's no physical version of the disc with them included. They were only as part of the Kickstarter version of the disc, which someone leaked extremely early.

At any rate, this review is not finished.

"The Man You're Afraid You Are 7:11" is truly a good song. It's a little different in the fact that it focuses on more of unconventional prog rock, but I also really love the chorus and the lyrical content here. The lyrical content of this one is rather quite powerful, I think it really should have been on the album because it will connect with people who exhibit these actions and the band should be flogged for not putting this one on the disc. When the track slows down, it leads into a unique vocal approach and keyboard atmosphere that opens into jazz. Definitely some Pink Floyd coming through here. Again the keyboard and guitar have their fun on this one too.

"Down A Burning Road 6:51" also follows in the lighter prog rock sense (of Pink Floyd) and features some organ influence on the keyboard. The vocal lines here are actually quite good, but will increase as the chorus comes in. Yeah, now do you see what I mean? You hear it once as part of a vocal line, but it becomes more prominent as a chorus line. Then you've got the guitar solo portion that continues backing the Floydian rhythms here. Trust me, this thing is laced with Dark Side Of The Moon. But that's a good thing for me. Another solo is used and then the chorus reprisal.

If the Pink Floyd influence on the previous two tracks wasn't already enough; the next track is "Wish I Were Here 6:33" which is clearly a pun on their classic, "Wish You Were Here." This track is unfortunately not as good as that one, but it does have a good lyrical content despite the oddity of it all. It seems to be about someone who's addicted to the television or media. Of course, you've got everything from spaced out Theremin to piano pieces and whatever else they could thrown in here. As I said, it's an oddity - but it's an oddity that should have been on the physical disc. Keyboards also control most of this track, not letting the guitar have quite so much fun. So it sets itself apart from the other tracks in that sense.


Something Very Strange (Sanctified Remix) 5:09 - Can you say filler? What's wrong with the original one? have are attention spans decreased that much that we can't hold out for another three minutes? Basically, this one just cuts out all the other stuff and sticks with the chorus and main vocal lines as well as the mid section jam. It's like Spock's Beard for dummies. Nope. I'll take the original for 500, Alex.

Postcards From Perdition 4:27 is the instrumental that should've replaced "Submerged." in my opinion. It still flows with the tone of the original album and would be welcome to fans who really just want to hear the band do what they do best without the vocal element. There's not really much I can say about this one other than the fact that it's just an instrumental track. It's good, but nothing to write home about - still, better than "Submerged."

And there's your review for the whole recording. Not just half of it. I will admit that the standard version of this disc is great prog record, and that the three bonus tracks don't follow in the same sense as the original seven; but it's still not right to charge more for extra crap. Just because we do it in video games (I remember going to Gamestop and overhearing one of the clerks saying to a customer "Do you want to buy any DLC? Extra characters and costumes?" for a game that I believe was Injustice. The guy replied, "No thanks. I'm fine with the original version." which was 60.00 to begin with. If it had been me, my fist might have been firmly implanted in his face, accompanied by the clever phrase, "Fuck you.") doesn't mean that we have to do it in music. Perks began with those stupid little fundraisers and since we're raising money for so and so's project now, it's engrained in our brains. But this time, instead of selling stuff out of a catalog to people in order to help out the cause (and get some Astronaut Ice Cream which was such a fucking rip off, what a disappointed kid I was.) we're using our own hard-earned cash to help other people pay for their work. A nice sentiment, being the good Samaritan and all - but when gas is high and food is high and rent is high and electricity is high and water is high and just having a connection to the internet is high, not to mention your phone bill, (and god forbid if you've got kids this day and age) it becomes increasingly difficult to support the hobbies of others. I will also add that the big spenders on many of these campaigns work for companies. If you've got a thousand dollars just laying around that you want to use to help someone's game out, you're probably not the average working man.

I will also add that if you highlight the extra five tracks on this release, you'll find 30 minutes of extra music. I smell an EP coming out soon, with all this extra music as it's composition. Nevertheless, Spock's Beard have made a great progressive rock/ metal album that is definitely worth checking out despite the nickel and dime. I almost wonder how many musicians would be around if people couldn't get paid for making music. As the same with game developers and writers and actors and sportsmen. How many people would really do it for free, for the love of the act itself?

It's a good question to ponder.

Highlights: Hiding Out, I Know Your Secret, A Treasure Abandoned, Afterthoughts, Something Very Strange, Waiting For Me, The Man You're Afraid You Are, Down A Burning Road, Wish I Were Here, Postcards From Perdition (12 Tracks, 86:00)



Finntroll - Blodsvept (2013) - Finntroll's last album was all well and good, but the band's new disc sees them re-energized, back to doing the kind of humppa metal that we've respected from classics like Nattfodd. While not overly long, the new album is just twelve minutes over a half an hour and contains some of the best and most unique tracks that this band has utilized in their many years of specially branded folk metal.

Title track "Blodsvept 4:29" opens the album in a very familiar but quite heavy fashion that'll definitely see your head banging from the start. There's a slight slowdown, but the melodies that drive the song make it a definite winner as well as the chorus. "Ett Folk Forbannat 3:23" continues the trend of heaviness but adds a slightly more jovial nature seeing the folk more pronounced than on the title cut. There's also a bit of an eerie melody that creeps up making things even more interesting. "Nar Jattar Marschera 4:07" starts out altogether different with oddly angry drums and riffs that open upon an awesome folk melody that they utilize more than once. "Mordminnen 3:24" has a bit of a jazzy nature to it, certainly different than anything the band has done before. Believe it or not, this jazz-folk works to the band's credit; with the new elements sounding at home amidst the usual folk instruments. It's also got a slamming set of groove riffs.

"Rosets Krug 3:15" sounds like a sailing song and it also contains a short moment of the band chanting amidst the slight structural changes that keep the heaviness flowing and the folk intact. The end of the track is acoustic, finalizing like a ship sailing off into the horizon. "Skovlarens Dod 3:44" allows for thrashing amidst mountainous melodies and a solo. Yes, I think it's the first one I've heard a solo in Finntroll. While short, it's a good sign. "Skogsdotter 4:53" features more pronounced folk and some interesting lead-offs, but won't be everyone's favorite. It kind of sounds like chase music in areas.

"Haxbrygd 3:52" includes the use of Theremin and features an odd approach to the vocal lines. But it still seems stable. "Tva Omar 3:17" sees the band a little more jovial (but still heavy) until the song changes tune slightly to allow for the arrival of the Theremin and aliens perhaps? "Fanskapsfylld 2:56" is decent enough, but offers nothing new. The final track "Midvinterdraken 5:36 (please tell me that you can read that as Midwinter Dragon) sounds as majestic as it does dangerous, definitely the kind of song that you would use when singing about a dragon. An ice dragon, we'll assume. It's also the last song on the disc and sounds the most triumphant out of all the tracks. A worthy end to an impressive folk metal album.

On Blodsvept the band has certainly not been afraid to use death and thrash elements along with their style of humppa folk to create an unbelievable heavy yet still folk-tinged experience. The drums at time do rage and the guitars can be quite weighty when they want to be. It's a worthy attempt and an attempt that should be regarded as successful by both the critics and the fans. While not the best folk metal album I've heard in a while, it's certainly a strong one and quite possibly one of their best in years. By the way, whatever inklings of black metal you've heard in previous albums have been shelved in favor of a deathier approach. Nothing wrong with that though, as it seems to work in their favor.

Highlights: Blodsvept, Ett Folk Forbannat, Nar Jattar Marschera, Mordminnen, Skovlarens Dod, Tva Ormar, Midvinterdraken (11 Tracks, 42:00)



Boris - Praparat (2013) - After hearing that Boris's new album was going to be more along the lines of their doom-laden fuzzy stuff, I wasn't looking forward to it. I've listened to every single album that they've done thus far and didn't find too much to like in those older records, with a few exceptions. Nevertheless, it is exactly the direct opposite of what I expected and was worth waiting on. Praparat is only 40 minutes long, but it doesn't need much time to assert it's purpose of tripping you out. You heard me, this is some sort of transcendental disc that's not anything like you'd have expected from this experimental act that really seems to do whatever they like.

"December 3:50" begins with light, calming melodies but serves as more of an intro to the clean vocal fronted doom/drone of "Elegy 4:16." The vocals are more in the style of J-Pop, but are backed with thundering doom riffs and light atmosphere. Is this J-Doom? Could they start a brand new trend in Japan by mixing J-Pop and Doom together? Perhaps. But don't worry about that as you focus on "Elegy" and it's beautiful melodic leads which make up most of the track aside from the male clean vocal. Prog lights up the track in the latter half, as do the melodies almost in a sort of indie rock fashion. It works though. "Evil Stack 3 0:58" is just a short bit of staticy drone that shows this album is a continuation of their early works. "Monologue 4:21" comes off in a completely different sense, it's much lighter and hits like an unexpected jab to the ears in the sense that you are not expecting things to get this light so soon. I'll put it to you this way, my volume is on 60, and I can barely discern it. That's how light it is. Eventually the guitars start to get a little more pronounced and continue the instrumental. It's very indie-rock.

"Method Of Error 6:55" sounds "more like it" to early Boris fans, those who liked the drone/doom stuff and this track showcases exactly that. There's no harsh vocals that you probably would've liked - but hell, at least they're showing that they've still got what it takes to do their classic era work. I really do think fans of the early Boris might be able to accept this one, so check it out if you were wondering exactly what the fuck happened to this band in the past few years. "Bataille Suere 4:32" seems to show the band's interest in the French music scene (if not the title alone.) It's also a heavy drone/doom track that will appeal to fans of the old work, even though it has a female whisper in French. Yes, this could have been and maybe should have been done without the French female vocal whisper, the track is plenty heavy as it is - but these guys are always willing to experiment. "Perforated Line 0:42" comes next, in all it's odd drum bashing meets indie riff goodness. What the hell was that? Sounded like it came from an old Genesis game. Those were the days.

"Castel In The Air 2:19" which according to my dictionary, would be about a floating castle governor, not a floating castle - sounds like some odd sort of faded ballroom music. Maybe it's useful in some game or a film, but it leaves me perplexed. Perhaps I will have to listen to it 1,452 more times before I can discern it's meaning.

(About Five Hours Later)

Alright, I think I've heard that damned track enough. I feel like I can hum the melody now. Still, I have no idea what this track could be about. But for some odd reason, I think I'd much fancy a ballroom dance. "The next track is "Mirano 4:59" which is a light-hearted piece with melody and clean vocal that leads way into some odd effects. It still sounds very indie-rock. The guitar work at the end of the track is great, but it all fades out in favor of some atmosphere. Damn.

That atmosphere continues into "Canvas 5:14" which is drone. There's nothing else I can say about it. It's drone. I like it, but some people obviously won't. The drone fades out into "Maeve 2:33" the closer. It's just an atmosphere that comes right after the drone. Sounds like there's some buzzing in it, something like a spaceship. But other than that, nothing more to say.

Boris's Praparat is something that fans have been wanting for years now. Even people who began to hate this band due to their later work will actually like some of the tracks here. I'll admit that I like some of the tracks, but not everything is my cup of tea here, as expected. Still, it's a worthwhile effort and sets itself apart from anything they've done prior. A logical evolution, but is the well going dry?

Highlights: Elegy, Monologue, Method Of Error, Bataille Suere, Castel In The Air, Mirano (11 Tracks, 40:00)



Kvelertak - Meir (2013) - Recent Norwegian success Kvelertak (Chokehold), has finally released their new album in the form of Meir (More) which is a rather simple title for an album. I will admit that I liked their first self-titled disc a bit, but this one is a little crowded. The punk and hardcore elements mixed well with the black metal, but now it seems that the band have evolved to the point of absurdity. This mix of punk, hardcore, black metal and now classic rock is a bit perplexing to say the least. But there's no doubt that some people will love it.

"Apenbaring 3:06" starts out with good classic rock melodies, a bit odd but I won't knock them. Nevertheless, it's like the world's longest intro. It's when the band starts that things really start to sound odd. It's like a more deranged version of hair metal with black metal influence and where have I heard those Krallice riffs before? Oh yeah, in Krallice. Was that supposed to be a song? "Spring Fra Livet 3:34" starts out with hardcore and goes into the black metal drumming with a melodic riff in the background as the hardcore vocal approach continues. Some vocal acts are questionable here, but I'll admit that I like some of the riff melodies here. Some of this sounds real indie-rock though.

"Trepan 3:39" is next, close to black metal but a little groovier. Nice melody there. There's a clean vocal in the background that works well with the melody and I think they've got a good sense of guitar melody, which is why many people have picked them up. I also like the slight slowdown portion which shows some structure. This one's actually quite good. It went from black metal to a much more rock affair that included a nice solo effort. "Bruane Brenn 4:07" is their single and it's got more of the black/hardcore sound of their earlier release. What an odd idea for a chorus, it's a bit folky. Nice little solo here too, I guess. Definitely tapping into classic territory with some of it. Then it goes back to black metal, or what they call black metal. "Erig Vandrar 2:48" plays around with screamy hardcore if it fused with rock. "Snilepisk 2:52" sounds like punk-core but it also has some interesting ideas incorporated in the solo where it goes into slight black metal before finishing off at the chorus.

"Manelyst 3:10" also plays with core. This album is tagged as "Crust Punk" and I guess I can see where that tag applies in some sections. Nice solo on the end. "Nekrokosmos 6:41" starts out with black metal but follows into the more punk sense. These guys really love the modern black metal sound as pioneered by Satyr than the classic style. A draw at straws is attempted as the song switches into a sort of black metal and even plays into some Enslaved prog-black. It slows down to allow warmer influences and lighter melodies and then goes into some spacey melodies that overlap the blasting on the kit. I do like this section, it caught my attention more than the other portions of this track. Certainly a highlight. But what the fuck is all this afterwards? Is this still the same song? Why am I hearing surfer melodies? Yeah, believe it or not, that extra shit you hear after the song should have ended is still part of the song. But it sounds like worthless pretension to me. Reminds me of "Ethica Odini" and how it was ruined by Enslaved. That song should've cut off with the last riff, not kept going into whatever the fuck they turned it into.

"Undertro 6:25" certainly has the black metal feel in vocals, but the guitars don't seem to follow it as much. However, some greatness does creep in for just a while before we go back to the days of hair metal that leads into a held note which slows down and keeps things really light despite the vocals - nonetheless it keeps the crust. That awesomeness comes back as the melodies break in amidst the screaming. I really like these melodies, folks. This shows some definite promise. Things go back into hair metal/classic rock though letting loose a solo... or not. Nope, it just continues with those same rocky riffs and fades out. Still have to consider a highlight for those melodies. "Tordenbrak 8:53" is the technical closer, since the next song is a joke. It starts out well enough with decent melodies and basically core vocals. There's a slight slowdown in the track (as well as some amp fuzz) still seeing these guys hung up on the same riff melody. It's alright, but is it good enough to drive an almost nine minute track? I don't really think so. Rock influences pervade all over this track which ends with all sorts of odd space effects and such. I guess that's how the album would've (and should've) ended, but then there's this.

"Kvelertak 3:49" is a namesake song. You're supposed to make it great. I heard "Iced Earth" performed by Iced Earth on a recent Live CD combo (which I'm not reviewing, since I rarely deal with Live albums and since Stu butchered damn near every song sans the ones he did for the band and their classics (he killed on this one btw) and it still sounded great. Memorable riffing. Schaeffer didn't use those riffs in any other song. It's unique. Now, let's listen to Kvelertak's namesake song. It sounds more like ACDC than anything else. Why would you make your namesake song sound like an angry punk version of ACDC? The riff melody is nice but it's not that great. I mean these guys are playing damn near classic rock for the namesake, so the next record will probably be just classic rock, or they'll go industrial (God, let's hope not) or throw in keyboards or an orchestra. Who fucking knows at this point? And who fucking cares? Exactly.

The band had some promise with their self-titled, but decided to "rock it up" and left me a little confused. Things happen here and there that are worth listening to, but I wouldn't personally spend my money on it. There's a hint of black metal, plenty of punk and whole lotta rock, if that's your thing. As far as rock goes, I'd rather hear a rock band, not a bunch of Norwegians screaming to rock. I wonder if Ihsan's shaking his head. I know that Gaahl and Satyr are probably laughing at this mess. Maybe Satyr will say "Oh, here I go to save black metal!" as he puts on spandex and a cape in preparation for the follow up to 2008's (Seriously, where the hell you been, man?) The Age Of Nero. But that probably won't happen and we'll be stuck with this.

C'mon, feel the noise! It's black metal guys!

Highlights: Trepan, Nekrokosmos, Undertro (11 Tracks, 49:00)



Wormed - Exodromos (2013) - Wormed is a normal thing to say around here in the south, when you deal with a large number of animals. Cows get wormed, dogs get wormed, cats get wormed, chickens get wormed, pigs get wormed, goats, sheep, exc. Everything gets wormed. So if there's one thing I can expect from these guys, it's the fact that none of them should have worms.

But the other thing would be interesting brutal death metal that sets itself apart from others in that vein. "Exodromos" is actually the prequel to the band's very first release, which I have not yet heard. I'll also note that this album has been a long time in the waiting and was certainly worth it.

Here's why:

Wormed comes out swinging with "Nucleon 3:10" which doesn't have so much of a piggie growl as it does the sound of a ravenous alien behemoth. There's not just growling to be heard amidst the obscene technicality, there's also some trilling and other such inhuman inflections that make Madrid sound like it might be located on another world, not the same planet. The brutality continues in "The Nonocality Trilemma 3:13" which plays around with prog and unconventionality as much as it showcases the kit being hammered to the point where it might be set on fire. The gentleman behind the kit certainly knows what he's doing though, I think he's just as good a Flo or anyone else for that matter. Wormed certainly seem to be making thinking man's brutal death in the vein of latter (but not quite current) Cryptopsy.

"Tauotchrone 3:01" continues to show off the drummer's skills as the riffs demonstrate a sense of calmness in the middle of the song right before the beating ensues. Again, think of this as a brutal sort of atmosphere and you've got it, as odd as that sounds. Damn, what the hell did that guitar just do? "Solar Neutrinos 2:02" features some odd drone effects among a narration that sounds rather intriguing. "Multivectorial Reionization 3:26" comes in with some other oddities aside from what might sound like breakdown riffs, but they're not. Wow! What the hell kind of riff is that? It works though, kind of sounds like a cool island melody - and there's this atmosphere thrown right in there among narration. Groove kicks up as the band does what they do best. Was that a solo?

"Spacetime Eklepsis Vorticity 3:32" has some real interesting changes - to tell you the truth, this thing is quite hard to describe as it goes in many different directions and might be the missing like between Cryptopsy and Decapitated. "Darkflow Quadrivium 1:48" is another interlude (this is a story you know, so you should definitely read the lyrics) which features some honest djent, but I won't kill them over it. How does that guy do that? Seriously, the trilling! That's unreal. I have no idea how long he practiced that. "Stellar Depopulation 3:22" is next starting out heavy but goes into some definite prog melody that lasts through the trilling. Drums definitely come back into the mix, pounding along perfectly with the riff melodies before the bludgeon begins. "Techkinox Wormhole 3:35" plays with the technicality (it's unreal) and really shows off the drums for a minute before it dips down into some djent. I'm really beginning to think there's an alien creature in the band at this point. Blown away by these vocals. Right near the end of the track there's a repeating drum portion that you need to check out, right before it goes to static to welcome the closer "Xenoverse Discharger 5:58." This is the longest track on the album and it certainly has fun with djent melodies and some other tingly things as the blasts continue. How does all this work together? Again, this is thinking man's BDM. This instrumental portion goes on for a while, solidifying in me the thought that they could be just as successful as an instrumental band. Light melodies and blasting drums should not go together! But they do somehow, somehow these guys are able to pull it out. Right before the alien is let loose but his vocal work is a bit muffled this time, as if it's supposed to be. This really is an art form, some people might not understand the idea of this vocal approach but if you listen to this album throughout you will really understand that these notes are not something easy to hit in this fashion. Things get rather spacey towards the end, very unexpected for this genre of music. Call them pioneers of a new age of BDM. I haven't heard anything like it, just as such with Portal. The disc ends on a melody that seems to fade out and sounds like it might continue...

Exodromos is unlike anything I've heard from the BDM genre. Putting it close to Crpytopsy or Decapitated is only a part of the puzzle that is Wormed. These guys are really so different from anything else that's out there with the way that they take on these light melodies and prog and djent and atmosphere by throwing it all in with the mix of the most Herculean display of ruthlessness, is practically unheard of. Again, it's thinking man's BDM based on what I've been told is a quite interesting story that's worth reading. These gentlemen are either very intelligent, love sci-fi or both.

At any rate, Wormed Exodromos is a record that you absolutely must get your hands on if you love this genre and are willing to see it pushed to point of rupture. But it's a good thing I think, rupturing that membrane that sees most BDM in the same sense of murder (which I'm sure this album does deal with) but it cuts away with cleavers and knives and machetes and extends the lyrical topisphere to outer space... And I believe I just made that word "topisphere."

It's absolutely out of this world. Literally.

Highlights: All (10 Tracks, 33:00)


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