Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Week 82 (July 10th, 2013)


Humiliation - Turbulence From The Deep (PR2013) - This album from Malaysian war-themed death metallers Humiliation reminded me a whole of Bolt Thrower, which is both a good and bad thing. I've heard only a few of Bolt Thrower's releases, yet I've always found their approach to death metal a little too dry for my tastes, which is the same thing that I'm going to say about these guys. Turbulence... is a decent enough effort, but it just seems to drone on too long and doesn't seem to have enough kick. "Phosphorus Shell 4:32" has the right amount of groove, for example - but it just sounds so basic that I can't really get into it. I guess I wish that the drummer was doing much more behind his kit and I'm not really feeling the amount of brusqueness that I should be. The band seems comfortable in writing these doom-influenced death machines, but I just don't think I'm the man who was meant to hear them. "Total War 3:40" manages to kick it up a bit, but not all that much. I'll certainly say they've got talent and perseverance to say the very least - I don't know how a band couldn't get bored making a record that's as slow as this one is - but I'll give them credit where it's due and call this a worthy effort. The old-school production and style of the thing should appeal to fans of Bolt Thrower, but I was never that big of a fan and feel that this style was done much better by them.

However, there is no longer a such thing as Bolt Thrower and there is a such thing as Humiliation. I'm also aware that there are people who want to hear more music in this vein and very few bands have managed to capture that style as well as Humiliation has. It's grueling death metal that certainly has some merit; but that all depends on who listens to it. After awhile, it began to really grate on my nerves and I was waiting for it to end. Eight songs is enough, but then ten (and outro) featured on here was just two tracks too much for me. The outro "Submerged At The Seabed 1:10" seemed to be a great segue into the next album in my playlist, but also saw a little acoustic beauty brought into the mix. For an album with submarines on the front cover, it very much matches the cold, sterile atmosphere of being in a U-Boat. Definitely recommended for fans of slow, brooding death metal and most certainly acts like Bolt Thrower.

(11 Tracks, 43:00)



Skeletal Spectre - Voodoo Dawn (PR 2013) - The first thing I'll tell you about this band is that it features Vanessa Nocera of Wooden Stake fame; whom longtime Grim Tower devotees might remember me reviewing when this was still a subsection of a now defunct metal forum. But if for some odd reason, female vocals mean to you clean vocal singing; you need to go back and look at the band's name and the title of the album. There's not a damn thing clean about this album. It's simply filthy and revolting in it's darkness, with Vanessa sounding like she's been temporarily possessed by Baphomet or maybe even Abraxas himself.

"Voodoo Dawn 5:50" begins the album in a very gloomy note, as some of the most revolting noises that I've ever heard from a woman come forth from Vanessa's mouth, seeming to me much more sexy than the half-naked women which seem to patrol the popular reaches of the metal scene. Yes ladies, I prefer a woman who can growl. "Altar Of Damballah 3:47" continues this assault, albeit a bit warmer and with inklings of melody. Once again, Vanessa sounds like she's been having fun with The Lesser Key of Solomon or the Theurgia Goetia and I find that wonderfully appealing. "Serpent Moon 4:22" sees things punchy as well, still warmer than "Voodoo Dawn" and throwing in a solo. They definitely tried for Entombed here and they got something that sounds much darker than what Entombed has done lately. It's definitely the definition of death metal.

"Bone Dust 3:37" features a bit more of that Swe-death sound, and Vanessa sounds like she'd give Angela Gossow a run for her money. The venom bellowing forth from this seemingly fragile woman seems absolutely putrid and once again; I'm loving every minute of it. Groove kicks into "Shallow Grave 3:16" and once again, I'm blown away by these vocals. Another solo falls into place, but I'm telling you - the guitar is not the showcase here. It's the throat. And take this from a guy who's screamed and growled his ass off for years. I know what I'm talking about.

"Black Augury Hollow 3:08" has a bit of a sludge influence but then erupts into classic death metal. There's no doubt about it, this is right up there with female fronted acts like Morgengrau and it shows the idiots of old who believed that women have no place in metal (believe me, I used to entertain these guys back in the day when they would offer me bands like Hellfuck and call them brilliant) that they certainly fucking do. I'll make my own goddamned sandwiches, just get out of the kitchen and onto the fucking stage! (Whoever came up with that sandwich bit needs to be forcibly castrated by a muscle-bound she-hulk of a woman anyway.) "She-Wolf Of Devil's River 4:19" slows things down a bit, but continues the true death metal assault, with "Haunted Gallows 3:54" being the last grimy drop of evil on the piece. Yeah, there's an oddity at the end called "The Flip Side Of Satan 3:28" but I'll overlook it as it's much different than the rest of the material and feels like the dictionary description of a bonus track. However, the "Hail Satan, I Worship You!" sections do come off rather nice to Venom-influenced riffing. Vanessa's a beast, I'll give her that.

Definitely give this one a spin. It's well worth it and hopefully will change your opinion about women in the metal scene. (Butcher Babies need not apply.)

(9 Tracks, 35:00)



Dehuman Reign - Destructive Intent (PR2013) - This short demonstration of Dehuman Reign's death metal skills shows that they want to do nothing more than to pick up hammers and take turns bashing the living hell out of your skull. But their hammers are a bit rusty and don't quite work as well as they had intended. "Extinction Machine 3:03" begins with a furious round of blasts, but has a hint of technicality and other such amenities which constitute the modern concept of metal. But these guys are young, so you can expect that. "Staring Beyond The Edge Of Time 4:05" kept my interest for a bit though, playing with some Morbid Angel and prog riffs as well as couple thrash riffs - you know, for good measure. Album closer "Masks Of Sorrow 4:44" was also noteworthy and featured some frantic solos. Dehuman Reign simply needs more time to grease their bearings and find their sound, but it's certainly getting there.

Highlights: Staring Beyond The Edge Of Time, Masks Of Sorrow (8 Tracks, 21:00)



Wound - Inhale The Void (PR2013) - First of all, how does one exactly "inhale a void?" But perhaps that question is better left up to the band and not to science, as it might be physically impossible to inhale a void, which wouldn't even contain the fundamental elements in the air that we breathe. Regardless of all this, Wound play an extreme sound of death metal with some elements of black metal and other such ideas that you would expect from a French act.

"Codex Arcanum 5:15" gets us immediately used to the warm sound of the record, as the drums pound and the vocals take a turn between a scowl and growl. It's a formula we're all used to, but these guys have a good grip on it and make it come off as anything but a boring retread. "Echoes 3:54" pumps up the black metal influence a bit, while "The Unsolved Obscurity 3:33" adds a bit of a groove section. After some squealing, blasts open "Forever Denial 4:32" which really begins to sound like a great melding of black and death and somewhat even remind me of Dissection. "Confess To Filth 3:33" kicks up the ever-present thrash elements on the disc, while "Corroded From Within 4:16" adds a little more of the same (are those core riffs?) and "Among You 3:22" just sounds like a straight-forward death metal thrasher. The disc is very much death metal 101 with some increased influence in black and thrash metal.

"The Prince Of Tyranny 6:04" actually seems to be one of the strongest tracks on here and I think it's because of the good use of death growls during the crunchier parts of the track and scowls when necessary. You see, not a whole hell of a lot of growls are featured on this album and when you hear the gravel on this one, it fucking works. Chalk this one up, Wound. I thoroughly enjoyed it. After that, you get the title track which is a short atmospheric instrumental in the vein of acoustics (of course!) and then the disc ends on that note. What a lame outro. They should've skipped this and ended with "Prince."

Wound's a strong enough band, and this is a solid enough release from them. It's got enough bells and whistles to keep you satiated, but you already know what to expect from these guys. For the most part, it's an unbridled and unholy rage that's sure to please the crowd it's geared to. Fans of death, thrash, black metal and any of the limitless combinations made with these three root forms should find a lot to like here. But don't expect too much out of the box thinking, because that's not the album a band named Wound makes. Obviously, it's quite painful in it's approach, quite lacerating and overall; audio torment.

Wound is most certainly, the sound of pain.

Highlights: Codex Arcanum, Forever Denial, The Prince Of Tyranny (10 Tracks, 38:00)



Witches Mark - Witching Metal Ritual (PR2013) - Nothing says true metal like Witches Mark. The blood and bones of metal's beginnings are beautifully transcribed on the disc like they were the word of the dark lord being spoken through one of his prophets and then recorded onto this disc. The influences on this album are so numerous that I can't even shake a stick at them all. There are bits of NWOBHM, black metal, death metal and good old-fashioned thrash metal as well as power metal and whatever the heck else you can find. It's truly a cacophony of flavors, with each and every track rendered beautifully and worthy of the title of "old school metal." Quite simply, Witches Mark is metal the way you remember it; with screaming solos, howling vocals, pummeling riffs and drums that sound like Thor himself may have had a hand in their craftsmanship. Old heads know what I'm talking about when they hear metal like this, which is what some of us have been waiting ages to hear.

What's more is that Ross "The Boss" Friedman (MANOWAR, DEATH DEALER), Jack Starr (VIRGIN STEELE) Jason McMaster (DANGEROUS TOYS, WATCHTOWER, IGNITOR) and Martin Debourge (DAMIEN THORNE,HEAD TRANSFER PROCESS) along with others are featured as guests on this awesomeness. Maybe King Diamond will make a guest appearance on the next one! (You know, instead of Volbeat.)

Is it retro? Is it revival? Is it tribute?

Say what you will, but the old school is coming back in a big way and these guys are doing a hell of a job with it. Take "Swarm 5:50" with it's powerful chorus, or "Cauldron Born 6:40" as well as the album's title track, which has just as much metal might as anything that could ever be called metal should have. There are no djent, core or modernizations of any kind to be found on this disc and it very much sounds like it could've come out during the genre's heyday. Which again, is what many of you have been wanting for a while now. These Texans really have something of merit to offer with just these eight tracks and you'll be bound to spin it again... bound, as in bound by one of the dark lord's metal minions. But if you think that's fun, try playing it backwards!

(Note: The Grim Tower is not responsible for any demons who might be summoned forth from the abyss due to the backwards playing of this disc. You'll just have to send them back to Hell yourself. We apologize for any inconvenience.)

Highlights: It's classic metal! The whole thing's a highlight. Go give it to a scene kid for a history lesson. "This Is Metal." You'll say with a thunderous voice, changing that kid's life forever. (8 Tracks, 41:00)



Spheron - Ecstasy Of God (PR2013) - To be honest, I wasn't sure how these French (they look French to me) technical death metallers were going to sound, and for the most part I was expecting the same sort of technical death thrash that's been paved over since time immemorial. Fortunately, that's not what I got. Not what I got all, actually... this is some surprisingly good technical death metal with great sense of structure, melody and even some black metal infusions. Sometimes it hinges towards brutal death and does a good job of reminding me of bands like Decapitated, which is saying quite a bit right there.

And you'll say to me, "Alchemist, there's no way that these guys are on the same level as Decapitated." And I'll reply, "That's because you haven't heard the album yet."

You see, in a land full of technical deathcore, prog and power metal; it's not only refreshing to hear the genre of technical death metal being done right, but to hear it surpassed the very definition of the term "right." I don't even think there's any necessary reason to point out tracks, because it doesn't matter whether you listen to "Saturnian Satellites 4:13" or "Tragedy of The Clerics 5:20" what you're getting here is 100% quality technical death metal that has more balls than even Obscura. It's definitely more potent than that last Quo Vadis disc (2004's Defiant Imagination) and even comparing Spheron to those guys is unparalleled. The greatness of this disc is not being over-hyped and I'm not just filling you full of cotton candy bullshit. I just really don't know how anyone who wants brutality, technicality and melody along with the chill of black metal, (and yes, there's black metal riffs on the disc - Obscura, you listening? Where's your black metal influenced album?) could deny this disc. It is my opinion that Spheron is the next big thing in technical death metal and needs more exposure.

In the most unprofessional and real terms, I could play this motherfucker for hours without getting tired of it. I get death, I get black and I get all sorts of ear candy in between that I wasn't even expecting. To be 100% true, I just got done listening to the new Negator (which I really loved by the way - best Naglfar album in years) and these guys basically took the awesome formula from that blackened/death masterpiece and made it better. If the fan-base for Spheron doesn't engorge greatly in the next few months, to put it quite bluntly: something is wrong with the metal scene. I don't have any idea what Autothrall will say about this one, but if he hates it; I swear that I'm getting on a plane to his house where I'll attempt to pull out all of his hair, strand by strand.

I'm just glad to have gotten the chance to review this grim and well-crafted masterpiece complete with flying guitar solos and paramount musical precision. Spheron didn't just make technical death metal, they redefined the genre. I don't think I need to elaborate any further than that. Go pick this one up as soon as you can. If you at any chance find yourself disappointed, you might just be disillusioned with the whole scene and need to listen to the new Kanye West album Yeezus so that you can vomit profusely and find the palette cleanser of metal.

Think I'm bullshitting? Listen to the FULL STREAM here:

(12 Tracks, 54:00)



Panzerchrist - The 7th Offensive (PR2013) - This is my first rendevous with Panzerchrist, but it's certainly no debut record. On this album, Panzerchrist prove their continued strength and make death metal which appears to be truly interesting. At least for the most part, anyway...

From the title track alone (4:57) you can hear that these guys want to make great death metal and show the world that they like to shred at the same time. That continues with "Foreign Fields 3:44" which begins with a solo (that's a first for death metal of this type, I think?) and continues to crunch as prog riffs lay in backed by an odd vocal filter. And then, another solo. Because yes, goddamn it - Panzerchrist loves to shred.

You want me to go through the whole album? I've been battling food poisoning for the past couple of days, (it was either the chipotle Hot Pocket or the tapioca pudding) so it's relaxing for me to do this kind of work and I think I'll go ahead and elaborate. "In The Name Of Massacration 5:02" hits more straightforward in it's assault, but succeeds with it's utterly grim riffs and fierce gravel. There's also a spacey solo thrown into the track which most bands wouldn't use on that particular song, but I like the fact that Panzerchrist like Meads Of Asphodel; aren't worried about modern hip trends and do their own thing. The whole song envelops into a sort of vocal shitstorm with some riff melodies that remind me a little of Metroid. "Stronghold Of Hill 666 4:03" has an interesting set of melodies in it as well, just little proggy things that you don't expect with this classic approach to death metal. And yes, another solo. The fact of the matter is, Panzerchrist craft some incredibly thunderous death metal with violent drums, unruly guitars and ungodly vocal growls; but they mix it along with things that you just wouldn't expect and it really seems to work well for them.

Little can be said about "Dogger Dead 1:46" but it does deliver in the brutality department for the time it fills. However, powerful melodies erupt from the very beginning of "Mass Attack Of The Lycanthrope Legion 4:11" and I'm sort of reminded of Amon Amarth, but these melodies are much colder than their "fiery" riffs. It's a good change of pace, and again - a sign that the band is comfortable breaking down boundaries. Just wait until you hear the solo on this one. It's truly fucking beautiful. Definitely my favorite track on the album. Oddly enough, "Kill For Revenge 6:44" makes me think that the band was listening to Amon Amarth for this latter half of the disc, as this one also reminds me of their style. Certainly not a direction I expected from the band, but the influence does them well. Unfortunately, the track was a bit too long and didn't warrant it's full time frame.

"Drone Killing 4:05" started out as a pretty generic tune until after the first solo where some keyboards play among the mix. But even so, the track's meant to show the band at their most meaty. "Napalm Alarm 3:44" bashes along like the former number, once again showing how meaty these can be - but there are also some electronic influences. Still, it's nothing truly noteworthy. The disc ends with "Pig Parade 2:01" which features the sounds of a march and the squeals of pigs. Is that a cow I heard? No, it sounds like someone butchering a live pig with a buzzsaw. And that's the PETA un-approved final thought that we're left with on the album.

Panzerchrist do a lot of interesting things on this album, but I can't help but wonder if they're really just experimenting, or if they're trying to find a stable sound. I love it when bands experiment, but to put tracks like "Mass Attack Of The Lycanthrope Legion" on the same album as straightforward death metal tracks like "Drone Killing" makes me start to wonder what's going on with these guys. Granted, "Foreign Fields" and "In The Name Of Massacration" sound great; but they don't sound like they're on the right album. The first 19 minutes of the album alone sound like they could've been taken from an EP with the other five tracks seeming like later add-ons from another recording session.

But you can't say too much bad about them, because these songs do display a potentially potent formula. The question is however, as to whether or not they will further refine this formula into a cornucopia of death metal greatness; or will it wind up just being a vial of finely grained dust? Only time has the answer to that. But hey, these guys have been around for awhile now (1993) so I'll just give them a break this time. Besides, in that span of time; the cornucopia might have already been released and this is just some of the afterbirth that still continues to flow after all these years. At any rate, it's still a much better album with a tank on the cover than this year's Jungle Rot album, "Terror Regime."

Highlights: Foreign Fields, In The Name Of Massacration, Stronghold Hill 666, Mass Attack Of The Lycanthrope Legion (10 Tracks, 40:00)



Mirthless - A Dirge For Your Suicide (PR2013) - These Peruvian death/doomers certainly have some talent, and on this album's opener "Pantheon Of Disgraces 8:35" it really shows. Not only do these guys deliver with grimy riffs and bloodcurdling gravel, but they also know when to kick up the thunder and make the kit do more than My Dying Bride is currently aware of. But not only that - the band know how to make a song multi-layered and not stick to the same old tired patterns which really seem to be roughly-treaded in this genre. I love death/doom, but without substance; album 2,3,4 and 5 don't really offer anything new and become just another dreaded "drop in the bucket."

"Pantheon..." is such a great single track, that it would've sufficed on it's own. And I can say that with very few bands. This is the kind of track that just hits you as soon as it starts playing. I'm not even really paying attention the lyrics much, because the song is so well structured and nicely done that it doesn't even matter. "Prelude To Doomsday 5:59" opens with a slight skip (which I'm not sure if it's intentional; but considering this is an old school approach, it works) but then goes into a style of clean doom vocal that I just can't get behind. Things do get much heavier as the track goes on and gravel appears in higher frequency, making a worthwhile piece - but still not as good as "Pantheon..."

Then of course, we've got the title track "A Dirge For Your Suicide 15:10" which starts off rough due to an absurdly long sound clip. Since I don't speak the band's native; this clip has absolutely no effect on me whatsoever, despite that some woman seems boldly upset. The song finally kicks in about the three minute mark, and vocals don't come in until about seven minutes in. I don't like the clean approach here at all, it isn't working for me. The bad thing about it, is that he chose to basically use this clean approach during the entire track and it isn't until almost the end of the song that the grooves really start to kick up and offer us smooth doom/death. As a listener, I don't feel the atmospheres and don't appreciate having to wait so long before something interesting occurs on the track. As a title track, I feel it's missed it's mark. The album's closer, "Paz 4:25" actually holds a better atmosphere, with ominous melodies and whispered vocals. Why couldn't this track be part of the title track?

Additionally, there's a bonus "Prelude To Doomsday 5:53" bonus rehearsal version from back in 2011. It definitely isn't so great on the production angle, but lets you know where Mirthless came from. Again, they've certainly got talent and can reinvigorate the doom/death scene; but I've just got to hear more greatness from these guys than what amounts to just one song and a reasonable outro.

Highlights: Pantheon Of Disgraces (5 Tracks, 40:00)



Moss Of Moonlight - Winterwheel (PR2013) - This male and female duet create some pretty convincing Pagan folk metal, and they do it surprisingly well. The disc is at times quite heavy and at times quite happy. Yet there are certainly some notable ritual elements to the piece.

Harsh vocals open "Gaet 11:56" which contains some pretty hearty melodies and a good show of female clean vocals too. Another thing I'll add, is that the song actually warrants it's length by incorporating several different musical structures as well as the use of bells. The guitar also puts on a hefty show, soloing in all the right places and working with the bells and flutes that incorporate this act. Oddly enough, I hear doom riffs for the most part on this track which you wouldn't expect for folk and that makes it highly intriguing. Goddamn, is someone upping the ante for folk metal? It's about time.

"Eole 10:25" might remind you bit of Game Of Thrones, but if you actually practice the Pagan faith; then this one should resonate somewhere deep inside you. It actually reminds me a bit of Unto Ashes and is a definite recorded ritual/metal track. I really wish more people would record their rituals, as I just love hearing them - whether it's to the dark lord or the Gods on high, there's just something about listening to one's personal ritual that evokes something within me. This song gets relatively heavier and begins to fill with both melody and gloom, quite quickly. The male harsh vocals are truly horrific, you wouldn't expect such volatile tones in this sort of music - but it works along with the clean folk inserts. It's this formula that has worked well for folk metal bands like Cruachan and continues to work just as well here.

"Catte 13:39" carries on much the same way as the last track, with a small portion that certainly reminds me of Unto Ashes. But then the heaviness creeps up and it continues along a path of successful melodic death/doom that later involves more ritualistic elements and vocal harmonics. It's really quite beautiful to be honest and should resonate well with any fan of folk metal. This is about as true to form as you can get and it doesn't come off as corny, like some other bands (early Turisas for example.)

"Hraefne 6:05" ends the disc, with a ritualistic folk song which tends to stick towards more traditional means. Odin would be pleased, I'd think. Later on in the track, I'm willing to be that the musicians became "possessed" in some form, as it certainly seems that way. But when one draws their energies to something they exemplify as higher than themselves, that force can take them over in a moment of euphoria and that is definitely here on the album.

All in all, Moss Of Moonlight is an incredibly strong folk metal act and the album they've crafted here is an exemplary description of the genre at it's finest. Not only am I being treated to terrific doom/death with folk elements, I'm also being treated to a convincing ritual. The whole experience feels real, so I'm absorbed into it. It doesn't feel like Eluveitie or something shallow, which has no real meaning as far as the realms it attempts to embody. I would think if Odin was sitting down and given the task of choosing which album he'd rather hear, I do think that Moss Of Moonlight might appeal a great deal more to the Allfather than the slightly more pop-metal folk acts, which I never thought could be possible. I highly recommend this one, so please don't miss out on it if you're a fan of folk metal, death/doom or the act of ritual expressed through song.

(4 Tracks, 42:00)



New Years Day - Victim To Villain (PR2013) - Jesus. If I ever have to listen to another piss-poor pop metal act like this, it'll be too soon. New Years Day is quite frankly, female fronted pop metal. As a matter of fact, if you took all the pseudo metal elements out of the band and replaced the music with standard pop-fare, it would just be plain old fucking pop music. Who's idea was this? My, how the almighty dollar speaks. Fans of groups like Paramore and Miley Cyrus would like this, and even though she force screams every now and again and Chris Motionless (Motionless In White) joins her on "Angel Eyes 2:56" with his fake excuse for a growl; the goddamned d-tuned riffs and harsh vocals do not make a metal act. I repeat: THEY DO NOT MAKE A METAL ACT. To tell you the truth, I think I'd rather be flayed alive than to have to listen to this. Yep. Let me think of some more horrible things that I would rather do than to have to listen to this album:

- get beaten savagely
- get tazed for fifteen minutes
- get pistol whipped
- get hit with a wooden baseball bat or club
- dip my balls in acid
- pour salt in my eyes
- drill a hole into my eardrum
- pierce my tongue with a railroad spike
- get my arms ripped off by a crazed baboon
- have a homeless man piss in my face
- shit the bed
- go to hell because I told God to "fuck off!" for even entertaining the idea to create the humans who formed this band
- kill myself by either taking a caplet of potassium cyanide, or with a loaded gun (the old fashioned way)

Yes, that is how excruciating the album is. While only four minutes over half an hour, (because modern day youth doesn't have the attention span for an hour long release, and the band themselves don't have a high enough attention span to record that many songs) I feel that the playing time might be too long for the release and would wish that it would have just been about one minute long, so that I would know instantly that it's complete trash for Bieber Fever pseudo rebellious women that I hope to never meet in all the days of my life. But you know, working in this scene - that's gonna happen one day. Reminds me of a book I once read... Skip this and listen to Mongrel instead.

Highlights: Haha... Haha... Hahahahahahahaha! (11 Tracks, 34:00)



Necronomicon - Rise Of The Elder Ones (PR2013) - The fourth album from these Canadian technical black/death metallers does elicit noted band comparisons such as Deicide, Suffocation, Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir but my only problem with the material is that it begins in a very misleading fashion. Take the first track "Resurrected 4:26" for example. It's an extremely brash track with harsh vocal growls classical influences and for the most part - just a lot of extremity. There's nothing wrong with that of course; but you'd at least expect the following track "The End Of Times 4:23" to be something different, which it isn't. There is a bit of an atmospheric push in the latter part of the track, so I'll give it that - but it's nothing that I haven't heard Septic Flesh do much better. Fortunately, the band show that they can do more than these operatic death/black tracks of which I feared would comprise the entire release.

For instance, "The Living God 4:49" makes me think of classic death metal, so there's a change and "The Nuclear Chaos 2:01" is an extension of their atmospheric forte, but I really wish bands would start incorporating these atmospheres into songs ala Tribulation's latest effort... Oh, wait. People didn't like that. What a fussy scene we have. After that, we have "From Beyond 4:26" which jams a bit more but really doesn't kick until the spectacular solo portion. I'm wondering if this is based on the original Lovecraftian tale as I've also written my own lyrics for a song with the exact same title; not but a few years ago:

“From Beyond”

"I knew the things around me
Hid greater secrets indeed
The pineal gland knows truths
That the eyes would deceive

Horrible beasts, great monstrosities
They float around and above me
Devouring each other in this world
Which surrounds their feeble plane

From beyond I saw them
My eyes burning with rapture
The great beasts floating
Above the surface

Hidden from man’s sight
Known only to the dead
Have I lived through this hell of life
Only to die again

Never open your third eye
To their world beyond
The planes are many in number
But theirs is closest to our own

A primordial dimension
Secretly overlapping our own
They cannot hurt me here
Though how can I be sure?

I am a seeker of truths
But I’d settle for lies
If these are the gods
Then our souls are merely food

Pity the man who lived good and well
To find there’s no heaven
To be plunged into this hell
These beasts of magnificent colours
They feast on his soul
So then it must be true
That religion has no control

We’re all food for the beasts"

Finishing the review, the title track comes next (3:46) and it's a bit more dreary in appearance, less tuned into classic death metal and attempts something of a more modern sound in areas. The vocal approach is very strong here and they don't throw eighteen million symphs around and take my advice by adding a slight atmosphere to the track which later envelops into a frenzy. If you can't discern the black metal riffs that make up this track, you're tone deaf. Thrash riffs open up "The Valley Of Lost Souls 4:16" which really showcase the band back into the old-school death element prior to the title track. I compliment their use of adding different styles on the same record, but placement is key. Sometimes these guys just want to be Suffocation - and considering how amazing Suffocation is, (especially this year) that's just fine with me.

Again, placement is key as "Celestial Being 3:51" sounds like it doesn't even really belong on the album. At least not where it is. It's a nice outro piece, but what is it an interlude to? It just seems thrown on there and that's just not proper. Give me about fifteen minutes and I would rearrange these songs in an order that would suit them much better than their current positions. "Celestial Being" is the sort of track that's like an after dinner mint, it's an "end credits" for the album and it's worth listening to. It's a great atmospheric piece and would've fit much better at the end of the album.

"Dark Corners Of the Earth 5:14" just kind of comes in, proving that the interlude wasn't actually interluding to anything. Would've been better if they just put this death metal track on right after "The Valley..." as they both worked well together. The album ends with "The Fallen 6:09" which is what you'd kind of expect; an atmospheric and highly structured death metal track to end it all out with. Since the track itself doesn't end with any certain special function like a Gregorian chant, (even though those are featured on the track) it would have really fit anywhere except for the opening slot on the disc, which could've been "The Nuclear Chaos" just renamed to something else. (I mean, it's just an instrumental and doesn't seem to mention anything about the title within the context of the sound, so no one would really know the difference.)

Ah, heck. Something like this:

1. The Nuclear Chaos (Renamed) - strong intro piece.
2. Resurrected
3. The End Of Times
4. Rise Of The Elder Ones
5. The Fallen
6. The Living God
7. From Beyond
8. The Valley Of Lost Souls
9. Dark Corners Of The Earth
10. Celestial Being (Renamed to "He Who Lies Dead, Yet Ever Dreaming") - strong outro piece.

Whatever you want to say about my track rendition of this latest album from a band who's been around for 20 plus years; I certainly say that they've crafted some interesting death metal with a few bells and whistles that will appeal to newer audiences who are just now learning about bands like Septic Flesh. Necronomicon has certainly put out a strong album and I'd certainly recommend all fans of death metal to check it out. But having not heard much of their earlier material, I think I'd like to hear their earlier releases like "The Sacred Medicine." I'm part Blackfoot, so I think it's mixture of Native American influence and death metal might appeal to me more than this one. If you are also just now hearing about this band, then I would certainly recommend that you check out their early works, (that goes for any band I review on this site - don't just stick with the trendy process of only listening to new albums) as those records shouldn't go unheard by willing ears.

Highlights: The Living God, From Beyond, Rise Of The Elder Ones, Celestial Being, The Fallen (10 Tracks, 43:00)



Demon Lung - The Hundredth Name (PR2013) - I remember reviewing this band a year earlier for their self-released EP and to be honest, I hated them. I just felt that the EP was very bland doom with a female vocalist and nothing more than that. Candlelight Records however, thought different and have signed the band this year to create which is their major debut in The Hundredth Name. Now I'm not sure what hundredth name they're referring to, but it may have something to do with the Goetia, which nearly every occult-laden band piggybacks on these days. However, I'm willing to bet that front woman Shanda Fredrick is quite serious about this stuff as she has absolutely no qualms against chanting God knows what in Latin on "Heathen Child 6:54." For most of the album, the songs are rather basic doom crafted in the fires of Sabbath and Candlemass, just with a female approach that certainly works in the context of the music. Rather than trying to sing in the vein of most female vocalists, Shanda uses a baritone vocal approach that flows well and matches her male contemporaries like Messiah Marcolin (formerly of Candlemass) for example. Her best work includes the more atmospheric, "A Decade Over A Day 6:08" the groovier, "Hex Mark 4:12" which is quite catchy and worth of a single and "Hallowed Ground 6:43" which not only sees the band playing to their Sabbathy strengths, but elicits a certain unkind presence that certainly represents the album's title and album cover art.

Unfortunately, as far as the album's title track goes; (Incantation (The Hundredth name) 8:01) it's just a drawn out doom track with some 70's keyboards and it doesn't really offer me much of anything other than boredom. I just found it too thick and it didn't deliver on any of the promises I expected. For something to be entitled "The Hundredth Name" you'd expect it to invoke something ultimately grand and I'm just not hearing that here. Opeth's "The Great Conjuration" actually did make me feel as if the track was an ode to something quite grand, dark, evil and as Lovecraft would put it; "Great and terrible." Here, the hundredth name sounds just like any other name and I just don't feel the grandiosity that I should. Forgive me for expecting too much, but if you're going to name a song "Incantation (The Hundredth Name)" then I should expect to hear on a full ritual invocation as on "Heathen Child" and there had better be chanting choirs, unfriendly atmospheres and for the love of all that is and is not unholy - certainly not the same boring doom riffs you've saturated throughout the release.

Demon Lung have proven with this debut that they're a decent enough doom metal band who is apparently using the "we've got a female vocalist in a doom act gimmick." However, this is also nothing new and has been done in the underground for quite a while. These guys were just the first to capitalize on the trend. But ain't that America? At any rate, if you have been curious to hear what a doom metal album with a female might sound like (with a higher production value too, I might add) then Demon Lung are still (sighs) around.

Highlights: A Decade Twice Over A Day, Hex Mark, Hallowed Ground (8 Tracks, 52:00)



Havok - Natural Selection (PR2013) - I wasn't sure how this four-piece thrash band would sound, as I do get a heavy helping of thrash these days and it's very tough to find someone who really stands out (even though there are some admittedly great acts every so often) from the pack. One of the members in the band was wearing a Coor's Light t-shirt in the band photo, which struck me as kind of odd (apparently he likes to "tap the rockies!") as I've always though light beer was crap; but I can't honestly say too many bad things about these guys after hearing this release. The vocalist sticks to an approach that reminds me quite a bit of Destruction frontman Schmier, (but not in all the songs) and the band sticks to an approach that, well... doesn't really have a set approach. That's right. Every song here sounds different from the last. The riffs don't all begin the same and the whole thing does anything but, blur together. "I Am The State 4:05" might kind of turn you off from the start, seeing as it's basically junkyard thrash and maybe the punk leanings of "Give Me Liberty... Or Give Me Death 4:43" might not be your style; but the uncommon riff approaches (it actually sounds kind of proggy) of "It Is True 4:48" combined with a strong vocal approach to what by other bands would be considered a bit unconventional, make it a sure winner for me.

Then there's "Waste Of Life 6:11" which sounds like it could've come from another thrash band entirely and I'm so fucking thankful for this one. Yes, even though they're trying a Dave Mustaine thing with the vocals here and I don't really understand some of the screamier vocal approaches; I can certainly say that the song is a breath of fresh air to what this album really could have been.

What? Hardcore influence pops up in "Living Nightmare 4:59" backed with a few Cynic bass-lines. I've somehow got a feeling that some people are really going to hate this record. However, "Worse Than War 4:57" and closer "Unnatural Selection 4:15" might be their only saving graces for thrash purists looking for new blood. There's even a cover of Black Sabbath's "Children Of The Grave 4:38" on the disc, which is awfully rare considering that this doom being covered by a thrash band. Not unheard of, but not something you'd expect from these guys. Surprisingly they do a decent job with it, even though the frontman is trying a bit too much to unleash his inner Ozzy. It could be very well considered by some as a five-dollar cover attempt by the band.

Obviously these guys still have a way to go, but at least they are trying to spice up the genre a little. It still has everything that you'd expect from thrash, but just with some modern twists that will either attract or enrage certain people - depending on who they are, of course. Worth checking out if you're interested.

Highlights: It Is True, Under The Gun, Waste Of Life, Chasing The Edge, Worse Than War, Unnatural Selection (10 Tracks, 47:00)


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