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.
BONUS TRACKS (Musical DLC)
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)