Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vattnet Viskar - Sky Swallower (NN Promo 2013)

"When I look at the band, and I listen to the album; I’m noticing some stark contrasts between these four hipsters from New Hampshire and their music. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from American black metal, it’s that when a bunch of hipsters get together to play black metal, it’s going to be something fucking amazing; even if you can’t believe it. Take Inter Arma, for instance. In this day and age of “we don’t need no fucking corpse paint to be black metal”, it’s certainly apparent that the spirit of the music still exists regardless of what the musicians themselves look like..."

Haken - The Mountain (NN Promo 2013)

"It’s difficult to know what exactly to expect from an album titled The Mountain, but some might even go out on a limb to say that it has a certain level of pretension applied to it that hasn’t been seen on previous Haken releases. Immediately, the release beings with the piano-laden “The Path” which serves as an introduction to a much different style of sound than we witnessed on Aquarius or Visions. Rather, on this new outing the band sounds like they’re grasping for a greater sense of maturity and hence the Dream Theater comparisons are going to continue..."

Anneke Van Giersbergen - Drive (NN Promo 2013)

"Yes, I’m reviewing another Pop/Rock album. But I’ve got another good excuse this time and the excuse is that it’s an album from Anneke Van Giersbergen most known for her current work with Devin Townsend, her past work with The Gathering and her additional work with musicians like Danny Cavanagh (Anathema) and on the most recent November’s Doom album, Aphotic. So with so many different musical credentials, I really had no idea what to expect from this one..."

Monsterworks - Earth (NN Promo 2013)

"These guys wasted absolutely no time in crafting this brand new release right on the heels of 2012′s Album Of Man. Yes, you heard me right. They just released a new album, so this is their new, new album. Although I hadn’t expected the work to have been thrown together so quickly, Monsterworks has never given me a reason to doubt them and I have to say that I prefer this effort much more than I did the Album Of Man. The band have really upped the ante on this one, with death metal playing side by side with all sorts of progressive fervor, sprinkled with some of the most beautiful melodies I’ve heard from them yet..."

More Here:

Evocation - Excised And Anatomisd EP (NN Promo 2013)

"Evocation blew my mind with their last effort, 2012’s Illusions of Grandeur, a disc that I played relentlessly for quite a while. But as a slight holdover for the next sure to be awesome effort the band has decided to release a small EP of covers to appease fans..."

Interview With A. Farache Of Averse Concept!

"Your band’s name is Averse Concept, which means “a concept of opposition.” What is it that you guys are opposed to?

I suppose the name comes from deep rooted feelings always looming above you. The music for me is my escape to try and present a message, or expression that could not be otherwise. Averse Concept to me simply means exploring the darker sides of your mind in hopes to release them. The topics range from sorrow, anger, to failure. Things that aren’t exactly fun and most people obviously dislike. But that’s the idea is to dive deeper into them..."

More Here:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 85 (August 26th, 2013)

New Rule: I'm only doing ten to twelve reviews a week (depending on how many promos I receive). It's much easier to get them done and not as stressful. I will still occasionally do large review sets like the 2012 review run-throughs and my New Noise work WILL continue to be linked from here.

On a side note, I've been going through a bit of personal hell and financial troubles, so I'm stressed to the max. Hopefully things will work out for the best, though. I try to be a glass half full kind of person, but my glass is usually half empty.


Deals Death - Zero Point Solution (PR2013 Spotlight Album) - I don't know that much about these five guys, other than the fact that they're fucking great. Considered "Gothenburg Metal" by Metal Storm, I could certainly buy that description because it really does sound like a mix of Dark Tranquility, Soilwork, In Flames, along with latter era Hypocrisy. The band utilizes killer melodies, incredible solo pieces along with a mix of scathing vocals (and gravel backups) and drums that just sound like the guy's having a good time behind the kit. These guys are primed and ready to destroy with each and every song.

The chorus of the orchestral "Point Zero Solution 4:26" is a dead ringer for Hypocrisy, while Soilwork is clearly seen as an influence (and I think I'm hearing some Graveworm here too) on "Facing The Echoes 4:19." it's this kind of album that reminds me of the bands I used to listen to when I was a younger guy and it's great to hear this classic style being done again without the use of core, djent and overblown technicality like other bands will try to throw in. "Escalation 4:02" reminds me a bit of Bodom in their older days, but with a little more darkness thrown in. If these guys haven't been signed yet, THEY SERIOUSLY NEED TO BE.

"Flatline 3:34." brings back the Soilwork influence, with a little bit of In Flames on the chorus. "Passion For Infinity 4:04" clearly echoes Dark Tranquility, complete with piano influence. "The Separation 4:26" brings back Bodom but with a bit more groove and a Hypocrisy style chorus. "Paramount" pounds as hard as it can, backed by the orchestral effects. There's no frontward chorus pattern, but the solo still manages to light up the sky. "Beyond Reason 3:41" has the hardest hitting chorus on the disc, but also features a whole of thunder and lightning from the drums. In Flames, Hypocrisy and Dark Tranquility would be awful fucking pleased with this one. "Dark Dream Dawn 4:05" features foreboding orchestral synths and an equally ominous chorus. "Back To Consciousness 3:56" made me think of Heartwork era Carcass at the very beginning, but then the synths hit and the tempo changed completely. It's definitely one of the stronger tracks on the disc though, packed with heavy grooves and an unforgettable chorus. This is a good opener for these guys on stage. It should also be a single. "Author Of Arts 4:04" is the closer, offering more of that Dark Tranquility influence, complete with a bit of Bodom.

All in all, if what I've said sounds good to you; then you'll like the disc. I most certainly did, hence why I've spotlighted it. It's better than anything else I've heard from Melodeath this year and if you feel that bands like Shade Empire or Insomnium didn't offer the kind of Melodeath experience that you wanted, then definitely check this one out. I feel that we're mixing too much funeral doom influence into our melodeath these days and I can't even tell you how much I hate when a band is labeled as melodeath and they offer core elements. That's not melodic death metal, it's melodic deathcore and there is a big fucking difference. At any rate, this is the melodic death metal (melodeath) experience perfectly preserved and I would like to hear more like it. I've always been a fan of the genre, but have felt it's death toll due to current selling trends.

Highlights: All (11 Tracks, 44:00)



Nephren Ka - The Seeds Of Omnius (PR2013) - Nephren-Ka (more then likely inspired from Nile's In The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka, consider themselves a sort of "Dune Death Metal." But I wouldn't expect all the bells and whistles that come along with acts who try to up their game by adding bits of atmosphere to their music, to make it feel like you're in that world. Nope, Nephren-Ka keeps it nice and heavy, with lyrics that you'll probably not even care about, and a performance that you will. They could have called themselves SlaughterHorde or something, it wouldn't have made a difference. These guys play death metal in the most brutal way possible, with tracks like the opener "Butlerian Dijihad 3:48" offering plenty of speed and ferocity with a vocal approach that features a very thick gravel and background scowls. Nothing we haven't heard before, but certainly solid.

"The Rise Of Omnius 4:39" has some interesting riff melodies, and "Feydakins Storm 6:27" offers up an impressive solo. And there are some sound effects from the world on this one, so it does try to immerse you in Frank Herbert's world. Nile and Necrophagist worship is run ragged on this disc, so you'll constantly hear heavy/switch/heavy/switch/heavy/switch and it does get a little irritating after awhile. I begin to think that I'm listening to the same song over and over and over again. Which just shouldn't be a constant in death metal. Closer "The Golden Path 7:55" tries to throw some black metal influence into the mix, but it doesn't really stand out that much from the others. Nephren-Ka have a lot of work ahead of them, the disc is just relatively weak and doesn't offer as much as I've heard from some of the stuff my friend asks me to try out. He likes the heaviest stuff out there, but it's usually from some unheard of band who did something different. We can all make brutal or technical death metal, but going the extra mile is what I'm looking for and I'm just not hearing it from these guys. Better luck next time, I guess?

On a side note, I love the album cover. Unfortunately, I seem to love the album cover way more than the disc itself. The whole thing just faded into background music for me, and that's not a good sign. If you've got to have it, pick it up. But this just wasn't my cup of tea.

Highlights: Rein Of Omnius, Feydakins Storm, To The Golden Path (9 Tracks, 44:00)



Earthen Grave - Earthen Grave (PR2013) - First of all, these guys are great and they played inside a chapel, ala Pussy Riot. But unlike those three Russian women, these guys were actually able to walk out without handcuffs. But at least Jesus and Co. got to hear some good metal for a change. I mean, if it's the house of God, then I think it's good for him to hear new music instead of the same old hymns. As far as this album goes, it's multi-faceted; meaning that these guys bring many flavors to the table and I'll have to go through each one of them.

The first track is the band's namesake, "Earthen Grave 8:05." which mixes doom riffs along with hard rock semblances and has some vocal approaches during the heavier portions which make me think of Tool. But there's also the use of some folk instruments in the band, and the song finishes on a punchier vibe that really utilizes those violins and kicks the whole package up a notch. "Life Carries On 5:24" features more groove in the doom, and has a southern tinge to it. The latter portion of the song features stronger violin influence. This guy really knows his way around choruses, and of course the solos are also worthwhile on the disc, so you're getting your money's worth here. "Burning A Sinner 3:17" brings lighter, stoner rock influence to the mix and it really reminds me of what would happen if Kyuss's old frontman hopped on the back of Vista Chino. "Blood Drunk 6:34" is a ballad that has a couple of heavier riffs thrown into it. It also features female backing vocals and ultimately utilizes a powerful chorus. It reminds me of a mid-era Metallica ballad. "Dismal Times 6:59" brings back the doom chugs, and features greater range from the frontman, as well some spoken parts that remind me of Barlow era Iced Earth. The chorus parts remind me of Soundgarden for some odd reason, but the track does manage to really kick towards the end, which seems to be the formula with many of these tracks. I know it's doom influenced, but I'm not sure if I should have to wait so long for the part when I can bang my head. "Tilted World 5:46" has a strong chorus, but goes back to stoner rock. There's an unexpected acoustic/folk instrumental piece before the song would show more beef (which is again, usually after the instrumental) but it doesn't really do that here, relegating back to the strong chorus.

"Beneath The Shovel Load 5:53" chugs it's way in, but doesn't feature any doom influence. It's pretty much hard rock with some mid-era Metallica influence. I don't know how I feel about the chorus either. These vocals lines really go on for a while too. Is it really necessary to drag it out that much before the violin solo? "Fall In 7:19" brings the groove back, but in the guise of a much heavier notion of stoner rock. I really like the chorus here, it kind of reminds me of Danzig (as does this whole track.) The track explodes towards the end and really does the Danzig influence justice. The violins seem an odd, but interesting touch however. I wonder what this would sound like without them. "Relentless 4:04" makes me think I'm riding on a motorcycle down the road, air blowing past me and the smell of the road on my nostrils. But when it slows down, it maintains a dirty rock edge and still sounds like it would be a good accompaniment for a motorcycle ride. The disc's closer "Death On The High Seas 10:46" is an almost eleven minute epic, and you'll hear the sounds of water, as well as strong melodies (some of them have Arabian influence) and plenty of doom chugs. The violins fall in line with the Arabian influence and it makes for a good atmosphere. The song gets a bit heavier towards the end, going several times into instrumental portions. Sometimes these guys like to thrash and they certainly do here.

Bonus Tracks

Death Is Another Word 5:11 - This almost sounds like it came out of another recording session. The track definitely contains the signature chug and the same vocal approach that you're used to. It also has some grunge elements and captivating lead melodies. The chorus is also quite catchy. Why is this a bonus track? It could've been put on the original recording, right?

Stargazer (Live) 9:03 - This just goes to show you that these guys sound much better live. You get more of the fuzz that you don't get in the studio. I don't recommend you getting a copy of the disc without this track on it. That's how memorable this performance is. They definitely did this cover justice.

Earthen Grave is once again; a multi-faceted act with nods to doom, stoner rock, thrash, traditional metal, grunge and all sorts of other things. The fact that they add violins to their sound makes them "that one band who is doing something different" and I'll applaud that decision. There's definitely more hits than misses on this album and both of the bonus tracks are recommended. Go pick it up if it sounds like something you'd be into.

Highlights: Life Carries On, Burning A Sinner, Blood Drunk, Dismal Times, Fall In, Death On The High Seas, Death Is Another Word, Stargazer (Live) (12 Tracks, 78:00)



Another End - Whispers From (PR2013) - Another End is a post metal/sludge act that certainly knows how to make things gritty, and deliver one hell of a beating at the same time. It's the equivalent of being in a fight with a man who is all the more bigger than you and getting your shit kicked in. There's a part on "The End 6:15" that reminds me of that section in my book where the mudmen are chanting and beating their handmade drumsticks. And the frontman really does make me think of a mudman in this portion. So it's not all getting your face stomped in by a rather large boot. You can definitely hear the Neurosis a mile away, however. So you'll know what to expect here from just that sentence.

Most of the tracks on the album do feature the same drone-like atmosphere which may be what you're in the mood for, but like on "The Light 7:17" they certainly manage to bring you back into the arena with a small stick pitted up against a ferocious lion. One can say the same about "The Others 8:27" and "The Past 9:52" which features more of the tribal mudman nature of "The End."

If you're in the mood for a band that doesn't cut corners and just plays good post metal, then Another End is probably just what you're looking for. These guys do make it plenty rough, but there is also plenty of breathing room in which to meditate between beatings. It's definitely a solid effort and I recommend it. These guys manage to do everything right and offer the atmosphere you're looking for from the genre. Fans of Neurosis, Isis, Ancestors, Minsk, Cult Of Luna and many others in that vein will find something to like here in the grit and primal atmosphere that Another End offer.

Highlights: The End, The Past (31:00)



Acacia - Tills Doeden Skiljer Oss At (PR 2013) - Acacia is a gothic doom/death act that is not to be missed, by any means. I wasn't so sure how they would sound at first, but now having heard the piece in it's entirety, I can say that you'd be a fool to skip out on this one. I know little about the band, having not even received a band photo; but the cover as you've seen it quite morose as such is the music. Yes, there are definitely some Opeth melodies borrowed here and there, but I will say that they're implemented in the right places; bringing a unique feel to an act that is worthy of so much.

The sorrow begins with "Doed Mans Mask 6:33" which serves as more of an intro piece than anything else. Yes, it's a little LONG but it serves to bring the mood, which is one of extreme despair. There is a female vocalist utilized in the band, but her vocals work well amidst the light piano and somber acoustics. Sometimes they duet, and that works well also. Yes, we're getting to the metal so be patient. This is really beautiful, so let me enjoy a while longer. Again, it doesn't really break into heaviness for a while more.

For those of you who decided to skip that first track, an amazing guitar melody crawls up out of the dark and brings in "Foernimmelsens Lund Af Laengtan 11:51" with the gravel and slightly melancholy, yet still fucking beautiful riffs that you were expecting. Things get lighter and go into a duet, but then when the guitars come back into play, they serenade with awesome melodies. A scathing vocal approach comes out of the woodwork now, it's a bit core to some; but it could be the accent. Just don't think of it as core and you won't ruin the song for yourself. Once again, powerful leads (almost ethereal in nature) command most of the track, until black metal blasts come in and it does sound like melancholic black metal a bit (with clean vocal influence here and there.) Near the end of the song, the male/female duet comes back and the song lightens. It's a wonderful moment.

"Amourens Redoxreaktion 17:08" is next and it's the longest song on the disc. It's much heavier than the last track, but does contain some lighter portions, so if you can't handle those then you might want to pass on the disc. But for those of us who enjoy the light amongst the heavy, there are some great passages to be found as melodic riffing backs pounding drums with slightly slower parts where the vocals are showcased in a much fuller extent. As such with the band, light acoustics follow and the sounds of nature can be heard (tweeting of birds and what-not) leading into female vocals and bringing about a killer solo to end everything off. Clean vocals back this much lighter portion of the song and great melodies end out the piece. A fantastic track.

"Egocentrisk Isolation 11:49" is a much different piece, filled with a shoegaze like quality and features more of the heavy vocal touch. There's a piano involved on the track, and the drums do quite a bit of pummeling even when the clean vocals come into place. Then there's a slowdown, which I consider unnecessary at this point. These guys just can't sit still which appears to be a problem. There's the heavy vocal with fast drum, light vocal with fast drum and then the slowdown with heavy vocal followed by some atmosphere. Why is so much going on here? Granted, I like the approach; but it's going to be tough to get into for some. Stick with one approach for longer than a minute, guys.

The last track on the disc is the title track "Tills Doeden Skiljer Oss At 14:06" which starts with babies crying as it ultimately begins to pummel. You'll get about three minutes of heavy, until the transformation begins and these guys all start clean singing amidst slower riffing. Atmosphere, clean singing, some guy growls - then the whole thing goes into light acoustics. This continues (with added clean) until about 10 minutes into the track, where the drums begin to pummel again amidst a higher vocal range. Then electronics come in. Did these guys use FL Studio? Those sounds are awfully familiar. I've used them on one of my own electronic releases.

At any rate, that's Acacia in a nutshell. It's highly atmospheric and slightly unstable doom/death with a touch of gothic metal that will be sure to please the right individuals. Naturally, it won't be for everyone; but it's a strong effort from a band who seems to be working hard to push the boundaries of the genre just a bit. Again, I wish they'd stay with a change for longer than a minute, but if you like to be thrown about the room when it comes to gothic doom/death then these guys will deliver on that front. This disc does contain female vocals, so if that's a turn-off for you; then I'm sorry and hopefully you'll find something more to your tastes. I definitely enjoyed most of the album, but you need to be in a specific mindset to really sit down and listen to it. These songs require a lot of time and energy, so it's up to you as to whether or not you're up for the trip.

All this being said, Acacia definitely deliver on the gothic/doom/death front and bring loads of melody and transformation with them. Reiterating the above, if you're into gothic doom/death; then this album is not to be missed. I'm quite certain that you'll treasure it for years to come.

(5 Tracks, 61:00)



Cathexis - Shades Of Apocalypse (PR2013) - Cathexis are a technical death metal band with a vocal approach that's awfully familiar. It's not as gravel as it could be and feels more "cookie monster" in approach. But these guys are new, so I won't just lay into them. What you've got here is a thirty minute disc composed of seven tracks.

"Inheritor Of The Weak 4:45" starts out with speed and technicality, but the track takes some time to stew, where the vocals prove to be stronger. It ends abruptly. "Oscillation Of Destruction 3:23" focuses even more on the technicality, but leaves way for a solo. Blink and you'll miss it. "Shades Of Apocalypse 2:53" grooves a bit, and welcomes some death/thrash. Hey, that's not bad. Something that isn't just technical. "Prostration 3:44" is focused with being technical death metal and takes influence from bands like Lamb Of God in as far as grooves and vocal approach. "Dethroned By The Pernicious 4:43" is pretty much the same style as the last track. "Immobilized By Consumption 3:30" is still technical, but actually feels like some Immolation got in there somewhere. There's also a solo featured on the track and it's given it's due compared to the last one. Definitely my favorite track on the album thus far. "Celestial Pathogen 6:45" is just groove and tech for the most part, but at least these guys know how to do it. An instrumental passage follows later in the song, then the vocals have their day amongst slower riffing. A solo ends the disc.

Cathexis isn't really reinventing the wheel, but they certainly make decent technical death metal with obvious influences from groove metal and deathcore at it's most threatening (closest to death metal). The album has enough to keep the tech heads busy, but I don't think there's anything here that will be considered mind-blowing in as far as technicality is concerned. It's just a good mix of death, groove and tech and if that sounds like a winner to you; then pick it up.

Highlights: Immobilized By Consumption (7 Tracks, 29:00)



Fear Theories - So It Begins (PR2013) - Damn, these guys are young. But they're definitely good. Fear Theories is a band that takes a more modern approach to classic heavy metal with this, their debut EP. Let me roll through this one quick, since I want to skip all the words and let you check it out for yourself:

"So It Begins 1:12" sounds like thrash and roll and comes off as great intro piece. Would be nice if they turned it into something, but eh... maybe later? "The Treasure Of The Haunted Pirate 3:40" Is a more thunderous note, with a bit of punk mixed into what's a very catchy fucking track, with a just as catchy chorus and some amazing solo portions. By some, I mean that there's more than just one. If it doesn't get your head banging, then I don't know what's wrong with you.
"Blank 6:57" explodes with thick riffs and heavy shouting. Makes me think of a toned-down Slayer, to be honest. I don't think the song needed to be as long as it is, but the band certainly tries to stretch out the length with some structural additions. One of those includes another great solo. That's something these guys have always been able to deliver on. "Overlords 5:16" definitely adds the rock touch, but makes me think a bit of Metallica, complete with a James Hetfield emulation. The song itself really doesn't offer much until the solo portion, but I'm sure there are people who will enjoy this rocking version of Metallica. The disc ends out with "Heroes Of The Past 6:25" which continues the rock approach and makes me think of ACDC now. James Hetfield emulation continues, but it sounds like what he what sound like if he fronted hair metal at it's ballsiest.

You know, maybe it's not the most original thing I've ever heard and maybe it's the 80's kid in me... but this could grow on me. My personal favorite track is still "The Treasure Of The Haunted Pirate" but I'll admit that "Heroes Of The Past" is probably one of the strongest hair metal anthems I've heard in years. And the production on this thing just couldn't be any better. It's got a bit of grit to it and it hits harder because it doesn't have those crystal clear dynamics. So you actually feel the riffs. But you'll just have to check out the disc and I do recommend it. Yeah, someone will probably give it a 6 or a 7, but I think it's a solid 8. I'd like to hear more from these guys, because they're doing a great job at making classic rock a hell of a lot heavier.

Highlights: So It Begins, The Treasure Of The Haunted Pirate, Heroes Of The Past (5 Tracks, 23:00)



Hourvari - Hourvari EP (PR2013) - This album, which will be released on vinyl in late September; is from members of the French acts Birds In Row, As We Draw and Puzzle. All of whom, I've never heard of. But the album itself is described as post metal with dark influences and is certainly worth checking out from what I've heard. But if you don't care about my opinion, Lost Pilgrims Records decided to give the whole damn thing away as a digital download here at the Lost Pilgrim Records Bandcamp page:

And I'm sure you can remove the "/album/hourvari" portion of that link to find more great bands from the French label. So go check that out. But if you're still here, then I have a review I'd like you to check out if you're interested.

Hourvari consists of just two lengthy tracks, a "Hourvari I 11:18" and a "Hourvari II 10:10" So I'll just talk a bit about each. The first track on the album starts out quite morose, but has a beautiful dual vocal approach. Simple beauty crawls up into the music, which sounds like it would sound phenomenal when played during a downpour. I don't know, it just feels very dark and wet. There are definite shoegaze portions to the material, it's at times jaw-droppingly beautiful. Even if core screams are used in the music, I really don't care - because they work. If you used a growl here, it just wouldn't sound right. That's why I don't think there will ever be any shoegaze death metal with a "grr." It's also got an air of depression in it, these guys are awfully upset that "the sun will never set" whatever that represents.

The second track is a bit more tribal in nature. The vocal approach may not appeal to everyone, but these guys offer plenty of structure. They are able to play their instruments, even if the "bree" vocal style is not what some of us might be looking for. There is a brief moment of atmosphere in the track, until it follows up with more captivating melodies. This is music that works both with and without vocals. The secondary vocal that joins near the end of the track might appeal more to those of you who don't like the clean yelling (bree?) but I still think people need to stop being so damned elitist and judgmental with their music.

This all being said and done, I recommend these guys. Yes. I do. They're a strong act with a good atmosphere and despite that the vocal approach might not be for everyone, at least there's some goddamned passion in it. These guys got together and made two very intimate tracks that I think are well worth checking out. And remember, you can always stream them first to see if you'll like them. It's that simple.

Highlights: Hourvari I & II (21:00)



Rorcal - Vilagvege (PR2013) - For those of you who might not have liked Hourvari as much as I, I'll let you know that another band from Lost Pilgrim Records by the name of Rorcal has their latest effort due to come out also, in late September on a vinyl. This one isn't being offered for free, but I recommend you get your hands on this black/drone/doom act because it's definitely worth watching out for.

This isn't Rorcal's first attempt by any means. From my PR info, I think it's their sixth outing; right after Heliogabalus. It's also quite lengthier than the last release, being twice as long and comprised of eight portions. "I 4:39" begins with drone and light drum taps, welcoming fuzz later into the mix. It's essentially an intro. "D 9:33" is the true first track on the album, and it reminds me of what emotions a man would enter if he had ever found his home and livelihood completely ruined. It's quite slow, but absolutely devastating. The drums become frantic on "II 3:57" and the rage being channeled through the musician is at this point, something unreal. This album is the very embodiment of malice. "V 4:18" sees things even more chaotic, utterly earth-shattering. Again, this is the perfect soundtrack to our very destruction, or quite possibly to our current ruined society. I can't even understand one single word that this man is bellowing forth, but it comes with such a fervor that I can feel his frustration. "IV 3:20" continue the complete shitstorm of bitter emotion on the disc, bound to turn anyone into a raging lunatic after repeated listens. This album is uncompromisingly brutal, but brutal is too light a word. This is the equivalent of getting slaughtered. "VII 6:36" continues the bludgeoning still further, but finally makes a drop into atmosphere. The vocals haven't gone clean or anything; it's just not as punishing. The riffs have become slower. But for how long?

Holy shit. "VI 3:13" sees the music as slower, but extremely excruciating, as in; you could rip the paint of ceilings with this, possibly even destroy your eardrums forever. This is probably the most volatile piece of music that I've heard in my entire fucking life. This music matches the rage in my head when I think of the current bullshit in my life and in our society. It's got to be therapeutic for him, because it is for me. If you've ever been upset at anyone for any reason, or you've ever felt that any one thing was unfair in the world and you just wanted to say "Fuck you" and a few other worse unmentionables, this album covers that rage, anger and malice burning inside yourself. Even when it goes into "VIII 8:02" it confirms that Rorcal is one of the best black metal acts on the planet earth. No one that I've heard, has been heavier - at least on the vocal approach. And Nails? What? You guys think Nails is heavy? Let the members of Nails get a hold of this record and they'll quit playing. There's no contest. Rorcal has made music that pretty much sums up as "Fuck your piss-poor excuse for society and it's viral meat carcasses." If ever a man could be mad, for any reason at all - it's expressed on this disc. The man might as well have called the disc "Anger" as it's the physical embodiment of the very emotion itself. This is the soundtrack of hell, the pain, agony and torment of a million damned souls cursed at the mercy of a jealous and unfair archetype. The disc ends on a light note, but just so you can cool off.

Rorcal expresses the things that people can't. Things that people lock away in their heads and forget about. Yet they're always there, those monsters; those demons in each and every one of us that keep clawing and screaming their way to release. We seal them behind doors, but they can't stay locked up forever. Villagvege is the sound of a million demons being released, all the pain, suffering and bitterness towards mankind that we hold within ourselves, while placating shit-eating grins as we toil about for a broken system. It's the sound of humanity coming to a close, the collapse of man's construct...

Villagvege is the end.

(10 Tracks, 43:00)



Hidden Masters - Of This And Other Worlds (PR2013) - From chaos, we move on to what some might term as "Hipster Rock?" I'm not really sure how you catalog the 60's and 70's sounds of rock act Hidden Masters, but it certainly reminds me of how albums used to sound.

"She Broke The Clock Of The Long Now 4:38" references acts that my mother and father would probably be more familiar with than myself, but that doesn't mean that it's not worth checking out. And there's no law against making good classic music. Again. "Into The Night Sky 3:37" makes me think of surfer music in some instances, it also reminds me of the music that you'd hear in the original Scooby Doo cartoons. There's also a bit of jamming on the track and some... Egyptian keyboard atmospheres? Oh yeah, it's out there. "Perfume 3:42" is a bit more subtle, and even features a bit of acapella. This whole album feels like a blast from the past. It's essentially a time machine, even as far as the production sounds. "See You In The Dark 2:49." is another great classic rock track, with definite occult lyrics. "Last Days Of The Sun 6:02" starts out with the same rock approach that you'd expect, but then takes a turn to light prog. It kicks up a bit with keyboards and a bit of a jam session. "There Are More Things 2:45" contains a slight bit of blues, while "Nobody Knows That We're Here 3:23" definitely stands out as one of the best tracks on the disc and really shines with the prog and transitive nature. The only song I can't stand on the disc is "Like Candy 4:59" which has that Beatles feel for sure, but I just can't get my head around this one and people would point and stare at me for listening to it. "Grey Walls 3:19" has that same mix of blues and Beatles and trance that we've come to expect by now, with "Fall In Line 5:46" pulling out all the stops and offering everything that you should expect from this type of rock... but is it occult rock?

You might be able to compare it to other occult rock acts like Purson or Ghost at their lightest, but I wouldn't necessarily consider these guys occult rock. Some of the tracks don't feel as dark as some of the others and some of the lyrics have nothing to do with the occult at all. "Like Candy" for instance, or "Perfume" but I might be wrong and it could all be veiled symbolism from three simple guys and their instruments. Doubtful.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, then go get yourself a copy of it and relive those old days before electro pop and 'Merica music. As far as I'm concerned, some of the US and Europe's best contemporary music was made during that time period and now, it's all a wash. While Hidden Masters will never be a replacement for your old classics, they certainly show that the spirit of American music in that era isn't dead, just subdued by the shit that spawns forth from the abysses of American/Pop Idol, The X Factor, The Voice, America's Got Talent, and whatever the hell else talent scouts are using (# Youtube # I don't give a fuck # Take your # and shove them up your asses!) these days.

Worth checking out.

Highlights: She Broke The Clock Of The Long Now, Into The Night Sky, Last Days Of The Sun, Nobody Knows That We're Here, Fall In Line (10 Tracks, 41:00)



Her Dying Regret - Legacy (PR2013) - Her Dying Regret is a six-piece metalcore act from the UK. Previously, they released The Siren and this is the follow up to that album. it consists of seven tracks and runs at about 26 minutes. The band definitely sounds like many other Metalcore bands that you've heard before, so there's nothing really new here. However, the band does manage to do a good job of holding up the sinking genre with a worthy intro "1:50" and a powerful opener "Ashes 5:01." The guys use both a raspy and a more deathier vocal style, with some rough duets and clean vocals. As far as the melodies, it's basic metalcore - light leads and capable enough drumming. "All Judge, No Jury 3:49" sees the band relatively ferocious and so does "The Shallow 4:04" with it's share of gang vocals and pummel. There's a clean chorus in this one, but I don't think it's as strong as the one on "Ashes." A guitar solo is sort of attempted, but they just power the vocals on right through it. So it's not really a "solo" then, is it?

"Legacy 3:57" brings us to the latter half of the album, with it's hardcore semblances and profane chorus. However, the chorus is done well and is believable. These guys are quite pissed, so if that works for you; then go grab it. "The Last Lie 3:17" comes in with much of the same approach but features a decent chorus - would be better if it didn't sound so muffled. These guys definitely pound, so there's definite brash here; but I'd like to hear them do more. There's six guys in the band, maybe they could take the genre in a new direction? "The Filthy Truth 4:05" ends our little trip in much the same way that we started. Clean chorus, harsh vocals and thump throughout the rest of the song.

Herein lies the problem. Her Dying Legacy doesn't do anything new. But why not? I mean, seriously? Guys, look at yourselves. You're young, you've got musical skills. Why don't you add things into the music that people haven't heard. Start bringing other influences into the band. Why appeal to trends? Create your own trends and let other bands follow you. Let's look at another UK alumni. Bring Me The Horizon is well known for transcending, having incorporated a great chunk of death and black metal on their earlier releases; but now having moved into a place where almost anything goes, be it hard rock or what-have-you. I'm not saying that I'm a fan of their current direction, but at least they tried to do something new with the sound of Metalcore. But this is the same reason why I had a problem with the new Killswitch Engage album. It doesn't do anything new. It's all the same!

I'm ready to hear something new from the sound of metalcore. And I've seen glimpses from other core bands that have sent me albums. But I'm still waiting for something that turns the genre on it's head. As for this, well... it's alright.

Highlights: Ashes, Legacy (7 Tracks, 26:00)



Animator - Blacklisted (Band Request 2013) - Finally, I've got a release from a thrash band who contacted me personally with their album. And good thing too, because I'm impressed. While it's nothing you haven't heard before, these guys have definitely made some meaningful and balls-out thrash with a message. They make it quite clear that we're in a "State Of Emergency" and they do so with a thrash prowess and youthful vocal vigor that makes me think of how the big four used to sound when they were still young and full of ideas.

Killer thrash riffs pervade from each and every corner of this thing, as well as anthemic choruses "State Of Emergency 7:26" and the Slayer-inspired "Death From Above 3:44" with just a hint of Anthrax. Groove kicks up on "In God We trust 5:18" with worthwhile lyrical matter. The howling vocals of the band's frontman might not catch you at first, but damn it; he can sing. The guy belts out powerful choruses and vocal lines on each and every track, coupled with powerful guitar riffs and mesmerizing solos. I know that I use those two words quite a bit, "mesmerizing" and "solos" but when I do use them, I mean them. I've heard plenty of good and shitty solos in my life and these guys are up there with some of the thousands of the best solos that I've heard. I think a thrash band must incorporate solos, they're the bread and butter of the material - and these guys definitely incorporate those solos with meaning. It's not just bullshit. But then again, there's the frontman's vocal bark on tracks like " Ultra '53" (Is this about MKULTRA guys? If so, thanks for waking people up.) which proves to be quite powerful. These guys are really an act that you have to listen to with full attention.

I wasn't really sure what to expect with Animator, but they do more right than wrong on this disc, it really doesn't matter if I mention "Manipulator 6:35", "Taking The Liberty 5:05", "Electric Armageddon 4:10" or the closer "When Duty Calls 6:39." And once again, I stand by the lyrical content on this one. I've probably listened to this disc three times so far, which should say something about these guys. Seriously, give them a chance. Go google them up, find the Bandcamp and grab the album for yourself. It's definitely worth hearing. To be blunt, if you like thrash and you want to hear good thrash, check out Animator.

I like thrash. And most of all; I like good thrash. These guys deliver and are catchy as hell. They're definitely doing more than Metallica's done in years and it's much better than Megadeth's recent rock record. Oh? Did I say that out loud? Let's be honest. There was no thrash there. So go check out Animator and get the thrash that Dave Mustaine and Co. just couldn't give you. And if you were listening to Megadeth because of Dave's NWO stuff, the lyrics here deliver more of that and much clearer than what he's meandered around with. At least you'll actually have some topics to google after the listen, rather than saying "I know, Dave. I'm way ahead of you."

Grab it now.

Highlights: State Of Emergency, Death From Above, In God We Trust, Ultra 53, Dreadweb, Manipulator, Taking The Liberty, Electric Armageddon, Western Shadow When Duty Calls... Um, that's all of them! (10 tracks, 51:00)


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Puscifer - All Re-Mixed Up (2013 NN Promo)

"As you might have guessed, this new Puscifer release is not a new studio album from the band. But it is still worth checking out for fans of Puscifer and of electronic music in general. With the light electronics featured on almost every track on the release, (thankfully, there’s not even a hint of dubstep) it almost verges into the realms of Maynard’s old band, A Perfect Circle. Yes, they’ve chosen a more subtle approach for the disc and have crafted one of the best electronic albums that I’ve heard in years..."

More Here:

Interview With Oliver Nicholas Schmid Of Lacrimas Profundere!

"What kind of feel were you going for on the album? Do you believe that you achieved that goal?

The new album has melancholy and brutality, plus it’s sweet and beautiful; so yeah, I think we achieved it! It also has more of a cinematic feel. We watch many movies during the recording process so we like the stark contrast between industrial and natural landscapes and I think you can hear the dust on the streets, as well as we sit in the studio, put the amp on and plug the guitar in. I don’t know, every band enthuse their upcoming album. It sounds kitschy, but I can’t describe it with any other words: we made the record that we were dreaming about. We’re glad that after our gig at the Wacken Festival in 2011 the “metal” is back in our music..."

More Here:

Interview with Erika Morgengrau of Morgengrau!

"How did this act come together? Previously you were in Ignitor and Autumn Tears, so how is the music in those two bands different from this one?

You can’t even compare the bands. Each of them was a big change from the last – very different styles. Autumn Tears was neoclassical darkwave, while Ignitor was classic heavy metal. Morgengrau is death metal in the oldest sense, with atmospheric vocals, huge guitar riffing and an emphasis on song writing, rather than technical prowess. I used to call myself a musical chameleon but in the end, I was just lost. I’ve always been an extreme metal fan – speed, thrash, death and black are the musical forms I always return to at the end of the day. It just took me twenty years of wandering to finally get where I needed to be..."

More Here:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 84.5 (August 19th, 2013)


Emblazoned - The Living Magisterium (PR2013) - Sent to me by way of the band's guitarist Kevin Forsythe, this short EP of tracks is a great introduction to the death metal beast that is Emblazoned. There's a short intro to the album, but it's not even important compared to the oncoming fury of "Extinction By Creation 3:17." A dual vocal style consumes this track, backed by heavy bass and an almost slam death style that creeps into the realms of groove. "Bound By Eternal Penance 2:29" continues the onslaught with pummeling drums and guttural vocals, but adds a slight solo portion and lightens to allow a scowl and yet another small solo. It's a solid enough track. "Refuge In Darkness 3:29" switches gears and seems to sound more like black metal with slight growl influences and some thrash bits. Of course, that dual vocal style will come back to bite and does so in the end. "In Ex Cathedra 3:40" Kicks up the thrash and showcases a raspy vocal that erupts into a guttural growl. It's in parts death/thrash and in others, it has that sort of slam factor about it. The disc ends with a creepy solo and showcases that this is only the beginning for this three-piece band.

These guys kill from beginning to end. There's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't check them out, they made for a damn fine listening experience while traveling. It's the kind of music that you play loud, when you realize that some other driver is playing some sort of Asking Alexandria, New Years Day or Iwrestledabearonce tripe and you want to drown out their horrible taste in metal, with your good taste in metal. And I mean, you turn up the speakers as loud as they can go, so not even an inkling of sound can filter in through the other vehicle's sound system. Besides, this stuff thumps much louder than any of that other crap and it's more vibrant in the bass, and it could probably make you "fly" at very high decibels. But that's if you're willing to stand that close to a high-powered speaker.

It doesn't get much more carnivorous than this. Yeah, I'm sick of saying brutal. But this is definitely that too, and then some.

Highlights: Extinction Of Creation, Refuge In Darkness, In Ex Cathedra (5 Tracks, 14:00)



Forlorn Path - Man's Last Portrait (PR2013) - While everyone else was going to college frat parties, or doing the gym, tan and laundry thing (AKA trying to get as orange as one possibly can) these New Jersey guys were in a room making some incredibly baleful tunes. Never in my dreams, would I have expected three guys from Jersey to be capable of melancholic metal in this vein. But they've done it. Fast forward quite a few years, cut and paste a few people, and you've now got a three piece with two of the original members.

"Empire Of Decadence 8:09" blasts forth with a fury that encompasses bits of Norwegian frost as well as bits of doom/death for a formidable combination. The vocal performance here seems believable; and the melodic guitar solo at the end of the track is just the fucking icing on the cake. "Words Only Wind Can Speak 7:45" includes more symphonic elements, but continues the black/death battering. Powerful melodies come into play backed with blast beats, and of course we've got our bit of piano section as well. Another powerful solo ends it out. "Masquerade 5:13" features more chug, but doesn't stray from the formula (which is a good thing) as it shows off more of a death metal shade in between all of the melodies. An atmosphere follows with a female vocal reading portion and then the song really relishes that final part. Damn, that's just memorable.

No, seriously. Go back and really take note of that last portion of the song. Do you hear how he reiterated that chorus to the point of fade out? There's this strong melody, and then when it comes back - the frontman hammers back on that chorus (4:36 mark) and truly makes me feel the passion in that track. Being a vocalist myself, I understand how important it is to make the listener feel your words and he's done it. It almost sounds like an overture, you could have replaced his scowls with a choir, as long as they followed the melody. That's how powerful that performance was.

"A Moment Of Silence 3:05" is mostly just rain and light melodies until thunder cracks and the band takes over the rest of the track as an instrumental. But it's a strong instrumental and feels like a mint to the meal that was "Masquerade." Then we have "As Hope Fades 7:12" which keeps the sullen nature of the band complete with melodies and piano influence as you might come to expect by now. It's just as powerful as the rest of the tracks, so I don't need to really elaborate on it. "Ghosts 5:32" starts out much slower but welcomes the same forlorn approach with just as much vocal bite as we've come to expect. I'm reminded of great death/doom in places with this track also, so it's definitely worth checking out. "Man's Last Portrait 8:19" also starts out slow, but doesn't stay that way for long. The blasts sound off and the vocals go right in session. These guys understand black metal just as much as they understand funeral doom and that's what makes them so good. As far as vocals go, there are just unreal approaches here and I'm truly glad to have been able to hear such a mesmerizing performance as this.

"What Lies Beyond 8:07" continues in the same fashion as the other tracks, but includes an odd sort of solo that reminds me a bit of a flute, and then there's a piano of course - But this is great. There's a gothic sensibility to the disc, but it's also very forlorn; as would fit the band's moniker. The album ends out with "Relics 8:33" which begins with whistling winds and light melodies, but that's until the band kicks it up and begins to deliver one of their heaviest performances on the disc. A sullen clean vocal approach is taken towards the end, but it doesn't work for me. However, the band unleashes a whole bottle of piss and vinegar near the end of the track, emphasizing the black metal to a "T." That eventually rolls over into one of the most interesting solos I've heard in a while, backed by some atmospheric moments.

Forlorn Path is definitely one of the best metal bands that I've come across in a very long time. I would definitely consider myself a fan of this project and will be watching these guys like a hawk. They've really managed to combine black metal with elements of goth and death/doom in the way that Graveworm did years ago (any influence from their early works, guys?) and have come across with just the same amount of fury and class. Not only has some three-piece from New Jersey surprised me with an unexpected black, death, goth and doom experience; but they've also cemented themselves as one of the best bands in this genre that I've ever heard. Hands down.

If you like this type of metal as much as me, then I highly recommend getting your hands on this masterpiece of an album. These words just can't showcase how wonderful the disc is. Go listen to it for yourself. To be honest, I've only taken a few points off on the short instrumental pieces (namely the intro and interlude) so I can't just call the disc a 9.5 because some instrumental parts were lacking. Most people would skip over these anyway. Each and every song on the album brought what was expected and delivered with an unparalleled fervor. So that's why I've given this disc a well deserved, perfect score.

Highlights: Empire Of Decadence, Words Only Wind Can Speak, Masquerade, As Hope Fades, Ghosts, Man's Last Portrait, What Lies Beyond, Relics (10 Tracks, 65:00)



Bakken - Death Of A Hero (PR2013) - Bakken are a classic heavy metal band with elements of German power metal and NWOBHM elements from Northern Ireland. "Darkest Day 8:22" starts out with a light intro and goes right into thrash, letting the whiskey soaked vocals of Simon Pickett right into the forefront, and capturing a powerful solo at that. And not a short little solo either. These guys go all out, and then they pull some ideas from Metallica and go right back into another fucking solo. Yes, you heard me right - another solo. I can really compare the vocals I'm hearing here to James Hetfield, because that's what it sounds like - James Hetfield fronting power/thrash.

"Mystic Mogul 4:35" focuses more on the thrash, but lets up for another solo; while "The Cursed 3:12" reminds me more of Trivium's retro-thrash days. "Sasquatch 5:28" also has that Metallica vibe to it, but then again - it sounds more in the vein of power metal than you would expect from them. It's also got a folk-inspired guitar solo which is actually given it's time of day. (One thing I like about these guys is their long solos.) The vocal style changes on "Back To The Future 4:47" Mark-Anthony Mc-Ginnis shows that he's definitely been studying those Firewind and Helloween albums, but I question if Simon's vocals are up to par on this track and I'm split right down the middle.

"Get Back To Your Feet 5:54" returns to the thrash, which is where Simon's approach is more comfortable. But the song itself is solid at best, there's nothing really here that you haven't heard before, despite that it's got another great guitar solo tacked to the end of it. "Fortress Of Evil 3:46" has a great start, which probably one of my personal favorite tracks on the disc. The riffs are a bit slower, but thunderous - and Simon's vocals work well with it. There's also a great solo portion on this one. It's flawless. The disc ends out with "Voyage Of Aodh 7:43" which could have it's roots in the power metal of Saxon. Simon's vocal approach is decent enough - but to be honest; the rest of the band has it here. Mark-Anthony's guitar shines throughout this long track, and so does Niall's drums and Adrian's bass. On this one, it's all about the musicianship and that will be readily apparent when you've survived all the shredding unscathed. Simon does some decent clean vocals during the end of the track though.

The band offers this album for free on their bandcamp, so check it out there and make your own opinion:

But as for me, I think they've definitely got what it takes musically; I just don't know how much I like Simon Pickett's vocal approach. I just don't know how well his Hetfield-like tone will work in this kind of act. There's certainly hits and misses here with the vocals, but as far as the rest of the band goes; these guys are quite fucking talented to say the very least. Definitely worth checking out, and the band's offering it free of charge. So go pick it up at least.

Highlights: Darkest Day, Sasquatch, Fortress Of Evil, Voyage Of Aodh (8 Tracks, 43:00)

7.5/10 (Added a .5 for the amount of guitar wizardry - go hear it for yourself!)


Outer Gods - Light Dims Eternal (PR2013) - Outer Gods is atmospheric music for the "rest" of us. It's certainly not calm, tranquil or in any way peaceful; but would be more akin to the sort of atmosphere that one would need in order to get into the mindset of a black magick ritual.

Our journey starts with "Future Decay 6:24" which brings in drone riffs along with static fuzz and some sort of screaming static-laden vocal. It certainly creates a ritualistic atmosphere. I wasn't sure if what I heard was taken from a horror film or an actual ritual recording, but it certainly seems like the music for such a thing. Hell, just playing it might let loose some other foul thing into the collection I already have here. "Due Sabbatti 6:28" has light melodies overlapped by static and what sounds light distorted electric guitar. It sounds like a fight between chaos and harmony. "Beyond The Crimson Gate 19:31" is much more subtle until further electronic elements come into play and begin to wrap one's mind. Then you can hear the sounds of women for a brief second, as the sound grows gradually warmer and incorporates static. Eventually, it sticks to being warm, but foreboding at the same time. Sort of like the mood one would need to be in while performing any sort of high ritual magick, because it helps to display the feeling that both benevolent and malevolent beings are just beyond the veil that one is attempting to connect with, for whatever reason. There's something about passing into the secret society of sisters. I'm not sure if it's from a real ritual, or a film and I would really like to know. I've no doubt that things like this occur behind closed doors and when no one expects them; but I'd be more than willing to see and witness these for myself. Just out of pure curiosity.

"Blessed Be The Host Of Sorrow 10:00" is the most uncomfortable that the disc becomes, as it sounds like muffled black metal. The blasts sound like static and there's certainly a scowl being used. It's about as black metal as an atmospheric track can be, which is certainly something that you must hear, if you've haven't. The disc ends with "From Behind The Walls, She Heard A Voice Like An Angel 7:10" which utilizes a woman's vocals in ways that I have never heard before. Or is that even a vocal sound? It might be a riff or a keyboard. Cannot tell, but truly intriguing. The last part of the track is taken from a film, so that must mean that all of it was. Which is disappointing. I'd like to hear actual ritual rites recorded in this fashion. Again, just out of pure fucking curiosity.

Old Gods is definitely the kind of music that is made for certain kinds of people. Not everyone will get, nor understand it. It's in the same vein as the stuff Malignant Records gave me to review, so if you like that; then check it out.

Highlights: Due Sabatti, Beyond The Crimson Gate, Blessed Be The Host Of Sorrow (5 Tracks, 49:00)



Last Chance To Reason - Level 3 (PR2013) - On their third album, we've gotten a completely new style of sound from the band. Starting out with more of an experimental deathcore sort of sound kind of like Between The Buried And Me, these guys have certainly changed. Yeah, "Rebirth 5:15" might sound like another day at the office for these guys, but don't expect much more like that as the album rolls along. "Adrift I: A Vision Begins 4:03" starts up rough as well, but you'll notice that the band is heavily shifting towards the same sort of prog nature as The Ocean or Intronaut. But on this album, they've succeeded where those bands have just come out with another drop in the bucket more or less. This actually feels like these guys have a grip on the progressive melodies that they're incorporating. Either that, or they've been listening to a lot of instrumental prog metal acts like Animals As Leaders or Abnormal Thought Patterns. "Cosmos - The Pattern Forms 3:29" explodes in this fashion, with heavy melodies in places; but it never resorts to using harsh vocals. Good. "A Glimpse Of Omniscience 4:46" follows suite, with a Maynard-like vocal approach, despite the fact that these rest of the guys are playing heavy riffs. Then the band mixes core and prog together in all out Dream Theater style of showmanship. Expect a lot of shredding and keyboard play too. It's a spectacle of a track.

"Adrift II: A Vision Ends 4:26" is also quite a spectacle, even if you don't like the vocals. Ignore the fact that whatever "wimpy" vocals you hear are ruining the performance, because if you pay attention to the melodies and song structures on this album, you shouldn't be too upset. These guys are definitely at the top of the game here. They should have released this entire disc as an instrumental, just to prove that point. And to be honest, they don't need vocals at all - but I think they work well on "The Escapist 4:55" which is the next track on our list, and it sees these guys just delivering more prog firepower and some jazz sections too. Piano and guitar also entwine on this track, making it another fucking spectacle of sheer beauty.

"The Dictator 2:56" is the disc's heaviest track with odd riffs and pounding drums and it feels like it doesn't even belong on the same album. I would've been cool if they'd left it off or made it a bonus track. If you want to hear their heavier shit, just go back a few albums back. "The Artist 5:10" plays with djent too much for my taste and I have to wait until the track slows into light atmospheres before I actually like it. Nah, never mind. It still does nothing for me. "Awaiting 0:44" is next, but it's more of a Maynard impression with light melodies in the back than anything else. I think he'd be proud to hear this one, possibly flattered. The disc ends out in the Dream Theater style of "Transcendence" It also features a great deal of guitar shredding before it fades into mist.

Now these guys are on par with Karnivool at this point, and after hearing both of these albums (and early, I might add) I'm not really sure who's done a better job. Some say that the new Karnivool disc is probably the prog album of the year at this point, and in some way it is; others it isn't. Dream Theater, Fate's Warning and Haken still have yet to release their albums (as does Ayreon, which I am HIGHLY anticipating) so I won't call it that yet. I will say that if you get the new Karnivool, pick up this one with it. They both have the same Tool influence and offer plenty of great prog metal to boot. Don't miss out on it if you like your prog a little rough-necked as well, because there are still a couple of heavy tracks here.

As far as the score goes, even though I didn't particularly like certain tracks on the disc, it would be foolish to say that tracks I've called "a spectacle" are worthy of like a 6 or a 7. It's hypocrisy to call three or four tracks a spectacle on the disc and then say, "Oh, well as a whole it's okay." That's not how I do things here. If I said, I meant it. So I have to (and since I've listened to this thing quite a few times since I've done this review and will admit that only "The Dictator" truly rubbed me wrong) go with my gut and what I felt like while listening to this thing on my headphones, and that's a solid 8. Simply put, Level 3 is a solid album. No songs about Metroid on here though, which is kind of a drag.

I'm still wondering when these guys are going to face a boss though. That's three levels with no boss fight. What kind of game is this?

Highlights: Rebirth, A Glimpse Of Omniscience, A Vision Ends, The Escapist, Transcendence (10 Tracks, 40:00)



Batillus - Concrete Sustain (PR 2013) - While not entirely long, this album from Battilus attempts to mix industrial along with post metal. For the most part, it succeeds. The disc moves at a slow but sludgy pace and includes some scowls in the nature of black metal ( in addition to the normal vocal style that one expects with post/ metal)for an extra bite. The guitars on the disc remind me very much of the mechanics of Meshuggah, but there is not one hint of djent on the disc. The drums also follow the same robotic pace and the whole thing comes off like a well-oiled machine that with a slight crack in it, wherein sludge is leaking out. "Concrete 5:44 and Cast 4:11" follow the aforementioned formula, while "Beset 7:50" sees things a little bit darker in nature, with more focus on atmosphere. One also could say that the machine spits out a large amount of sludge on this one. "Mirrors 5:10" features a bit more groove and makes use of the electronics in more ways than previous tracks have. "Rust 5:09" comes next and it sounds like someone scrubbing a floor or something in the beginning, but what it equals is more atmosphere-laden post metal. On closer "Thorns 8:52" the band is seen as their most docile, and even elicits some very appealing clean vocals. This guy could quit hollering and sing for the entire disc and it would come off just as well IMHO. There's also a slight moment of melodic beauty towards the end of the track.

Batillus utilizes some interesting approaches on this disc and I think if you like sludge/post or whatever they're calling it now; then you'll like the disc. It's not very long, but it's got it's moments of fury and tranquility, if you can believe it. You can hear all the influences - so there's no need for me to list what you can hear on any track. The bottom line, is you know what to expect here and it's a solid performance nevertheless.

(6 Tracks, 36:00)



Vom Fetisch Der Unbeirrtheit - Vertilger (PR2013) - Every now and then an album comes along that truly takes you by surprise. But experimental German two-piece VFDU definitely kicks that "surprise" up a notch. Composed of five songs with unbelievably long lengths, this disc certainly goes above, beyond, below, under, through, to the side of, and every other which way that you can possibly think of.

The first track is "Lachenvieh 7:43" which certainly comes off as rough and heavy, but it's also got plenty of technical nature about it. Doesn't sound too crazy yet though, eh? Well, there's some sort of odd sax-type or flute style thing going on and some dance-electronics that seep into the band's German vocal approach. The guy at times sounds like he's losing his mind and the music very much sounds like the sound of insanity. It's beyond avant-garde. As for "Schabenbraut 20:31" it's full of electronics, static, accordion, unconventional approaches to guitar playing, drum blasts and deranged vocals. Things just get hectic after awhile, there's no other way to explain it; this stuff is genuine in the way that some people won't understand it and will demand that someone "turn off that blasted noise" because it is very... unique.

"Multiformale Leiberdimension 6:52" focuses more on the electronics, and the vocals also follow suit, sounding more robotic than ever. "Kadavermeer 10:55" brings back the guitars, but to a weird quality. The frontman begins to lose his mind as electronics creep in. "Prosthesensucht 17:45" is the last track on this profoundly interesting album. For the most part, the track is metal chaos and the frontman losing his shit again, and finally you'll hear some distorted organs and more technicality as the disc winds down for the end.

Wow. This is literally the kind of disc that will make most people, even if they don't listen to metal or rock; wonder "what in the fuck is that, you're listening to?" The disc really has that sort of effect on people. If you were upset with the new TOOH disc, this album might be a good replacement for it. I have a feeling that this album will be considered some sort of a rarity, or a collector's item - this will most certainly be the sort of act whispered in dark corners of the metal underground. It just has "that" sort of quality to it, the kind of shit that may not do too well commercially, but will greatly appeal to those people who crave and yearn for this shit. There's millions of them out there. I wish this review came with a sign that would bring all of these people in from all corners of the world to check out this niche act.

As for me, I have to give it at least a 9. I mean, there's nothing quite like it - so points for originality. Bands have done this sort of thing before, but these guys just sound like they're absolutely fucking nuts. Which they might be. Have you seen the album cover?

Highlights: Schabenbraut, Kadavermeer, Prothesensucht (5 Tracks, 63:00)



Vista Chino - Peace (PR2013) - Vista Chino is made up of former members of Kyuss and for the most part; it's fuzzy stoner rock. Don't use the term metal, because just like Kyuss, this isn't metal. "Good Morning Wasteland 1:00" is an odd way to start the disc, but then "Dargona Dragona 4:56" brings on heavy fuzz and the first vocal approach which isn't going to be for everyone; but works for their material. "Sweet Remain 3:16" is forgettable when the guitar melodies and the solo isn't playing, and "As You Wish 5:09" has a 70's vibe to it that should resonate with certain people. It's actually a pretty strong track. "Planets 1 & 2 6:41" starts up next with a train-like atmosphere that quickly changes nature after a solo. This thing sounds like it was recorded raw and then mastered clear, so there's actually unintentional amp squeals on the disc. Some people might consider that "unprofessional" but at least it sounds realistic. The slower part of the song manages to deliver with a certain beauty (albeit some more amp squeals here and there.)

"Adara 4:47" comes back with the 70's rock vibe. Catchy melodies and old school flair help this song to be a good single, if they ever wanted to press it in that fashion. The disc certainly sounds like a whistle from time since passed, and that might just be the kind of music you're looking for while taking another toke of whatever you're smoking on. "Mas Vino 1:27" is a calm instrumental, it sounds like the music that plays inside your head when you're really high. "Dark And Lovely 6:24" reminds me a heck of a lot of Hendrix, and despite that there are vocals, this song would be a great instrumental without them. "Barcelonian 3:36" is a bit lighter, but still hits hard in the right places. The last track on this is called "Acidize -The Gambling Moose 13:24" which musically sounds like a mix between a light atmosphere and a jam out session. To be honest, this whole disc sounds like one raw jam out session and that's what they've accomplished here.

This all being said, I believe that Vista Chino should have offered a special edition of this album that contained a completely instrumental version of the disc with a giant Marijuana leaf on the front of it. You can laugh, but I'm serious. With or without the vocals, this album is great smoking music. It's the kind of stuff that you want to listen to while you're enjoying a good hit or two, or three, or four or sixty - and if you've got that much to smoke; then this will probably play in your head without you needing to actually purchase it at all. But for the rest of us, it's definitely recommended smoking music. THC kills cancer cells, so go on and smoke it up to Vista Chino. Enjoy health and beating down the man's chemical-laden grub with the "sweet leaf" and good stoner rock like this.

Highlights: As You Wish, Planets 1 & 2, Adara, Mas Vino, Dark And Lovely, Barcelonian, Acidize - The Gambling Moose (10 Tracks, 50:00)



Dementia Senex - Heartworm EP (Band Request 2013) - These guys definitely have a lot of promise, and on this debut album they're definitely showing their strengths. The PR info tells me that these guys are a mix of death metal, post hardcore and doom and that's what I'm getting here.

The first track is "Unscented Walls 8:32" which features varying degrees of hostility complete with unconventional riff approaches and angered drums. Low dips sometimes form in the music and those turn into powerful bursts of rage that are guaranteed to make you hit the concrete. "Kairos 3:04" features a little bit of prog between the CRUNCH and malady, but it's assured that these guys definitely have something unique to offer here. The song follows many different paths before it ends out, but every one of those paths leads to the same granite that you've already busted your teeth on once before, and are about to do so again. And yeah, it's gonna hurt.

"Heartworm 7:19" comes off a little more melodic at first - but then it welcomes threatening amounts of unconventional and yet psychotic brutality that really defines this kind of music as what death metal might be transforming into, (The Amenta, Svart Crown and Ulcerate are good examples) even though it still retains the nature of core and technicality. These guys might really be one of those bands that offers the future of the extreme metal genre. Oh, there's a nice melody that seeps into this album about three-quarters of the way through the last song. Very doom-laden, about what I'd expect from Forlorn Path. This is the DOOM they were talking about in the PR info and if these guys can really live up to what they're offering here, (while at the same time letting off the rusty spoken vocal portions featured on this same track) then I would more than welcome them into the scene.

To sum all this up: You've got some work ahead of you guys; but keep kicking ass. This is strong material and I'm sure that people are going to take note. You've already played with some hefty Italian acts and it's only a matter of time before you break out too. Would love to hear more. Keep kicking ass.

(3 Tracks, 18:00)



Exhumed - Necrocracy (2013 Deluxe Edition W/ Musical DLC) - Those of you who saw my review for the band's last album will notice that while I reveled in the musicality of the disc, I couldn't get into the vocals. The disc still got a high enough score though. As for this new one, there's about nine tracks and close to forty minutes of death metal. The vocal approach contains the same dual vocal style of a thrash yell and a death growl, but this time it just comes off better.

"Coins Upon The Eyes 4:01" sounds like death metal with bits of thrash mixed in, and there's even some gang yells. Oh well, whatever works at this point. Right? There's a solo section that's worth hearing too. "Dysmorphic 4:36" comes packed with a catchy chorus, but then goes into a slight acoustic. Why? This would make ten out of twelve death metal heads skip the track entirely. "Cause I don't want no fucking acoustic shit in my death metal, man!" lol. But that is how some folks are. Thankfully, the band goes back and kicks it up a notch with a breathtaking solo. it's definitely memorable, but isn't the kind of solo you'd expect for this kind of death metal. Damn. That's a lot of twists and turns in four minutes. "(So Passes) The Glory Of Death" comes in next with thrash and a proggy melody to warm things up. I think I hear some core melodies on this one, but I can't be certain. It would make sense that they would try to appeal to that audience, but even if they are (for the extra green) at least they're still keeping the death metal intact. There's also another wonderful solo piece on the track. I've never heard Exhumed so melodic before and don't know what this will entail for others.

"The Rotting 4:50" starts out with groove but goes into a more thrash-laden death style with guttural vocals lighting up the down-tuned riffs. The drums are a bit antsy on the track however, and a solo still manages to crawl up out of the ruins here. "The Shape Of Deaths To Come 4:40" does a good job at cheapening it's approach by catering to more modern influences. "Necrocracy 4:25" expels gritty death metal, but welcomes a slightly brutal death approach before the solo comes in again.

Do you see what I'm talking about? Many of these songs are very formulaic in nature and seem to cater to the modern sound of death metal, even welcoming some core elements and technicality. It's there. "Sickened 3:58" is about the most bare-boned approach to death metal on the disc, with a speedy thrash approach to death metal that works in more ways than one. Of course, another solo. "Ravening 3:58" welcomes some darker elements that you wouldn't expect on an album from Exhumed. I've heard this kind of thing in prog-black metal, but not here. I guess it's a continuation of their decision to branch out. Screaming solos also rule the day on this one. Finally, we have "Clarion Call 3:49" which has more of an old school thrash approach than anything else on the disc. There's also a couple of threatening melodies here, but if you blink; you'll miss them.


What burns me up, is that the deluxe edition features five more tracks that could have easily fit on the disc and approximately thirteen more minutes to the album's playing time. I'm going to go ahead and go through these now.

"The Beginning After The End 4:29" could've gone on the album easily, it sounds just like everything else here, with the heavy thrash and death metal portions. "Not Yet Dead Enough 3:55" starts out with some groove and welcomes clean leads. It's definitely got enough brutality to make anyone a believer and another nice solo. This should have been on the original record. "E Pluribus, Mortem 2:45" is next on the disc and it serves as a dreadful little instrumental. No reason why that depressing thing couldn't have opened the album. That's what it should have done. Who was in charge of putting this thing together? Then you hear the static and if you go back to "Coins Upon The Eyes" it kicks up just right. The track's title and nature show that it was meant to be an opener, so the fact that it wasn't used as such is the result of poor planning. "Chewed Up, Spit Out 1:29" is a short little bath in death metal. Again, no reason why it couldn't have been on the disc. Throw it on at the end. I like that ending riff and that's a good note to have ended Necrocracy with. The last track on here is "Go For The Throat 0:53" which would really work better as a bonus track. That one sounds like it doesn't belong, but it would be a good short afterthought to the disc. Kind of like Dying Fetus's "Dead Whores Love To Fuck." It wasn't part of the disc, but is in the same vein as the rest of the material, plus it's incredibly short.

Necrocracy is a mess. Not in so much the album, but the fact that you're given three quarters of the actual release when you buy the standard edition. I know as well as the rest of you, that those other songs were part of the disc; they were meant to be there and they had places on the original tracklist. I'm not sure who had the final say and said "nah, take this out" but that guy needs to be fired. I really don't know why albums are being chopped, but whoever has the cleaver needs to give it a rest. Even back in the 80's bonus tracks were normally only put on special international versions of records for their respective country (like Japan for example.) We shouldn't have to pay for excess packaging and tracks that were initially part of the release. Now, since this is a promo review; the actual label might look at this review. But you know what? It's my opinion and I think in light of what I've been given, it seems appropriate.

As far as the album goes, it's a different Exhumed disc than what we're used to. The band is trying to pull their music into many different directions, but they still manage to capture the spirit of death metal and thrash at the same time. It's a very old-school style filtered through a modern lens and as such; there will be lovers and haters alike. I believe it's a solid effort, but recommend that you pick up the limited edition of the release as it truly appears to be the full album and changes the play time from a little over thirty minutes to almost a full hour. Which is quite a difference in any respect. Still, worth checking out if you haven't yet.

Highlights: Dysmorphic, (So Passes) The Glory Of Death, The Rotting, Sickened, Ravening, Not Yet Dead Enough, E Pluribus Mortem, Chewed Up Spit Out (14 Tracks, 51:00)



godMONSTER - Sol-Luna: Sounds Of The Sun, Songs Of Sleep (2013 Free Album) - In honor of Lughnassadh, the architect of godMONSTER and Scream machine released this free LP of soft electronic music, her second release for the project. Scream Machine is due to come out with a new release in October, which I will review for New Noise magazine; (I'll also be writing a new interview for the disc, so look out for that, Sin!) but here's a review for the new godMONSTER on the same place that we did the old one. With a link to download, of course:

"Dawn 2:02" begins with the chirping of birds on an industrialized, electronic habitat. One could consider it a new day in the land of technology that we now have before us. "Mid-Day 3:45" sounds a bit more ritualistic, the beginning doesn't bode well with me, but the track takes a turn from that and goes into something more ethereal and light. It actually sounds a bit dark from here. Wow, that's quite bittersweet. Then things begin to lighten up a bit more, reminding me a little of the music I would expect in a futuristic game. There's a bipolarity in this track that I think is awesome. "Dusk 1:36" certainly reminds me of the moon and stars, which is what I might expect. Being a gamer, I can also hear something like this in a role-playing game of the J variety. "Sunset 1:27" has an odd approach to it as well. The whole disc reminds me of the music of a more technologically advanced society. It's the ambience of 2055.

"Twilight 4:04" starts now, and it actually sounds a bit threatening. I could actually imagine this kind of music playing in the background of the black tower as featured in my second WD novel. I think this would sound good to The Mistress's ears. (And I'm sure that I would know, since I created her.) "Evening 2:43" sounds like the music they might play in that same tower during the darker hours, it's certainly the kind of steely atmosphere that might resonate in a heinous structure such as that one.

"Stargazing 3:14" sounds like it could come from an entirely different realm and makes me wonder to exactly what sort of places Sin has traveled and where she's picked up these sounds. Inhuman is the word for it, though things lighten up towards the latter portion and you can even hear the shooting stars. At one point, the transmissions of alien beings are heard... it's quite a spectacle. "Velvet Black 3:16" reminds me a bit of darkwave, clearly she's been listening to Dead Can Dance and Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Audra and several others who have come to make music just a bit darker, albeit in a good way. The track has it's lighter areas, but still stays just a bit dusky in nature. Which is good in my book. This is meant to played sans lights. In other words, turn off the lights and you'll enjoy it more. Towards the very end of the track, I'm reminded of a DOS horror atmosphere for an old-school adventure game. Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets this reference. The journey (and it is a journey) ends with "Interplanetary 9:03" which goes full-on Steve Roach and gives me some travelin' music. But not the kind for a road trip.. I'm talking about a SOUL trip. As in, "Goodbye body! Cause I'm going through the stars tonight!"

To those of you who think that such a track of this nature is simple, it isn't. It certainly says something about Sin that she can craft such wonderful material like this. You can take this track alone, put it on a CD compilation for atmospheric music and people will buy it. I'm not the only one who likes music that sounds like you're going through the stars, and this really does sound like you're going through the stars, galaxies, planetoids, wormholes, nebulas and everything else that exists out there in the playground we're all in. Close your eyes and soak all of it in. That's what you're supposed to do. Feel all of your stresses go away, as your third eye opens and you leap out of your physical body. I highly recommend an entire disc of this kind of material. Even though, yet again - "Interplanetary" works on it's own. It's just a bonus to the album. It doesn't necessarily belong on the disc, but it's inclusion is a gift. The track has amazing properties, if you'll just sit back, close your eyes and allow it to work it's magic.

godMONSTER's Sol-Luna is even better than her first release. Sin really blew herself out of the water with this one, it certainly feels like the music to one of my "domes" possibly the American one, wherein lies The Mistress. If there was indeed music playing in The Mistress's craft the day that she "saved" him and his companions from certain destruction, I'm quite sure that these sounds would be emanating from inside that control room; leaving Cleo perplexed and Krevalin perplexingly curious. However, I do believe that the otherworldly nature of "Interplanetary" would be enough to appease almost everyone on that ship. Well, until The Mistress changes it back to "Dawn." Some people just can't be pleased, and the ro-bitch might very well be one of them.

Literary references aside, I highly recommend that you check this album out; regardless of whether or not you like Sin's work in Scream Machine. godMONSTER has always been the stark electronic contrast and this disc was well worth waiting for. I've nothing more to say here. Get your hands on this one.

Highlights: Dusk, Sunset, Twilight, Evening, Stargazing, Velvet Black, Interplanetary (9 Tracks, 31:00)