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)


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