Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week 86 (September 10th, 2013)

This will be the last update for a while, as I'm moving. I have had to update from a work computer in the past, so if I have to do it like that until I get an actual internet connection, then I will. Hope to have internet ASAP, but packing up and moving to another location (this one closer to town) is always a pain in the ass. Will be reviewing what I've been sent. My inbox is full of promos, so please give me time to get to them all.


Ministry - From Beer To Eternity (PR2013) - Ministry's final album, and last with their original guitarist comes off just as you would expect. It's a monument to their over thirty year legacy which spans from their New Wave days of the 80's (and With Sympathy is a great album, by the way) all of the way to their current industrial metal sound of today. It's safe to say that this is easily one of the band's best releases in recent memory and brings with it a healthy dose of electronics as well as a hefty dose of metal. The disc is plenty heavy, in other words; but it succeeds where Relapse failed.

I'll be honest, I hated Relapse and thought it was very boring and devoid of anything that I would expect from a great Ministry album. I considered it just another drop in the bucket, but knew that the band wasn't going to fizzle out with such a lackluster release. So when I heard that this was coming out, my expectations went right through the roof, and for the most part; they were surpassed in every way possible.

The disc begins with the overly electronic "Hail To His Majesty (Peasants) 5:17" which certainly introduces plenty of kick, as Al tells us quite bluntly, "SUCK MY MOTHERFUCKING DICK!" Other than that, the track is definitely an ode to old school Ministry, where more electronics were utilized. "Punch In The Face 5:00" sees the metal increase, bringing intensely heavy riffs along with it. Yet it still manages to keep the electronics. Yes, this is what I wanted from Ministry. This goes back to Psalm 69 and The Land Of Rape And Honey. Then they throw a solo in there too? Damn. I think I'd like another punch in the fucking face.

"Permawar 4:56" adds the groove and some Devin Townsend vocal effects to the mix, really making me think of latter era SYL. It took a while to grow on me, but there's definitely effort being put into this. And finally hearing Obama's voice become distorted and twisted like Bush makes me fucking happy. "Perfect Storm 4:56" thrashes about with some definite nods to groove and great use of samples. Again, this is Ministry at their fucking best, with a blazing solo to boot.

Finally! Al degrades the hell out of Fox News "Fair And Balanced Reporting" with this thrashy track called "Fairly Unbalanced 4:15." At work, some of the employees leave this blather on the television in the break room and I actually sat down to watch it noticing that they find "attractive looking people" who know nothing about news reporting and it's EXTREMELY opinionated. The news is not your fucking opinion. Walter Cronkite rolls in his grave at this blasphemy to the very nature of reporting. You don't show emotion when you tell the news. You report the story. We don't need to know, or care to know how you feel about it. Fuck you, Rupert Murdoch. "The Horror 3:33" is another one that I'm glad Al got to and it's an electronic piece that has to do with rape. In particular, the backwards belief that some bull-headed political fuckbag spat out during an interview: "the body of a woman can reject a pregnancy caused by a rape, and that GOD intended it." Like the sample says - "Got ya'll in a trance!"

I've also really got to personally thank Al for "Side F-X Include Mickey's Middle Finger (TV4) 5:14" which is the first real musical piece I've heard addressing a serious problem in the United States Of America. We no longer advertise cigarettes and seldom alcohol, so now we advertise drugs. Not medicine. Drugs. We're trying to doctor people for bullshit that didn't even exist fifty years ago. I almost expect death or black metal to play on one of these medicine commercials, when the guy just fucking growls "side effects might include suicide, heart attack, stroke, or even death!" I mean, think about it. I just saw a commercial where an old woman talked about taking a pill for foot pain. But the side effects for that pill are that it could cause suicide. What? How the fuck does that work? I take a pill for pain, but oh yeah - it'll totally make me want to kill myself. Because then there's no pain at all. Thanks, Big Pharma. I mean, you're so thoughtful. Who would've guessed that the cure for pain was to never be in it again? So if I end my life by taking your pill, then at least it did what it was supposed to. Yeah, fuck off. As for the song, it blasts heavier and louder than anything else on the album. It's got a punk nature to it, and actually goes through a laundry list of real side effects caused by these prescription drugs. Not medicines, drugs. Ask your doctor to "fuck off" today!

The next song on the disc "Lesson Unlearned 3:16" is much different than anything we'd ever have expected from Ministry though. It's a bit bluesy, and has a female vocalist in the background. It's still plenty heavy and contains a rousing solo. The next song after that is "Thanx But No Thanx 8:21" starts out as a trippy little track with a great spoken word poem. And I do mean, great. That's what this fucking country has become, folks. As the drums kick in, the track builds a bit of groove, still keeping a punk atmosphere. "Change Of Luck 7:16" mixes middle-eastern music along with electronics for an interesting sound that eventually builds up a bit of heaviness, but might not really go anywhere for most folks. It takes a while before it finally reaches a summit and when it does, it unleashes a tasty solo. But this song is more of an experiment than anything else. The last song on the disc is "Enjoy The Quiet 2:39" which is really a letdown. I mean, it's a veritable outro of static and samples, and then it's pretty much got Al saying he's done. Goodbye. But since the founding guitarist died after this was made, there's not really much else you can do other than to give us a whole bunch of B-sides or a live concert DVD.

And that's the last gasp from the machine known as Ministry. I think I may even shed a tear. (But there are so many of their albums that I still have yet to hear.) Whatever you think of this album, it's the last you'll hear from one of the progenitors of industrial metal. There are hundreds of thousands of bands out there who owe their existence to these guys, and that means that Al and crew left a mark in the world of metal that will be remembered for many ages to come. Well, until we annihilate ourselves, that is.

From Beer To Eternity isn't fantastic, but it's still fucking great. It's much better than Relapse and even some of the Bush era albums. They definitely wanted to do a few new things on this disc while still keeping true to the old and I'm thankful for that. There are ripping guitar solos, punishing riffs and enough worthwhile spite about the corruption in our fair country (which is going down the tubes faster than diarrhea caused by General Tso's chicken) to not come off as just another angsty metal album. If you're a fan of electronics, you'll love this album and consider it one of the best in their career. Now if KMFDM could follow suite...

Highlights: Hail To His Majesty (Peasants), Punch In The Face, Perfect Storm, The Horror, Side F-X Include Mickey's Middle Finger (TV4), Lesson Unlearned (11 Tracks, 54:00)



Exhumer - Degraded By Sepsis (PR2013) - Exhumer is an Italian brutal death metal band much in the vein of Cryptopsy, Suffocation and apparently Putridity and Brodequin,(of which I haven't heard) so if that sounds appealing to you; then you should probably check it out. Unfortunately; despite all the great plans for distribution on this one, (Sony/RED in North America) it's really not that great an album. But I'll be honest, if you're into a twenty-five minute piece that for the most part sounds like the same fucking song, then you'll love Degraded By Sepsis. I'm not the biggest fan of brutal death metal in this vein, but I played this for a friend who likes this kind of stuff much more than me and he was even bored out of his wits.

Yes, there's a lot of technical stuff on the disc; the drummer's got quite a bit of talent and the riffs sound mechanical amidst the gravel/thrash mouthed vocal, but it reminds me that no matter how many different times you try to prepare a hot dog, it's still going to taste like a hot dog. As a matter of fact, the only track really stands out differently on this album is "Misery 2:19" because it's got a wonderfully eerie vibe to it that comes off better than the entire album. If the musician responsible for this horrifying tune ever decides that he wants to break off and start an entire album in this vein, well I'd be more than happy to review that atmospheric disc. This track alone, sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

I'll also have to add "Scent Of Decomposition 1:08" as a track worth checking out, but it's short. This otherworldly atmosphere is absolutely killer and it boggles my mind to see it thrown onto such a mediocre brutal death metal disc. I guess I'm going to have to find out who's responsible for these wonderful compositions by way of Metal Archives and ask him why he hasn't made an atmospheric record yet. Trust me, "Misery 2:19" is something that crept under my skin more than the metal on this disc ever could. I feel like I'm being served mashed potatoes with a piece of filet mignon inside of it. The mashed potatoes aren't so great, but they're certainly edible; yet there's this gourmet piece of filet mignon in there that's absolutely delicious. You look up from your plate and simply wonder, "Who put this piece of filet mignon in my mashed potatoes?" Then a man looks up from a piano where previously he had been playing a somber tune, and smiles. That's what I think about this album. It's just mashed potatoes with a piece of filet mignon thrown into it.

There's a couple tracks here and there that are worth listening to, but the atmospheres are the best part. Which means that something has gone horribly wrong. I have an idea for Exhumer though. Why don't you combine the atmospheres with the brutal death metal? Other acts have done it as of recent, and have made some incredible sounding stuff. I promise you, if you guys do it just once; people will take notice.

Highlights: Vapors Of Cadaveric Mucilage, Pungent Aroma Of Uterine Necrosis, Misery, Scent Of Decomposition, Degraded By Sepsis (11 Tracks, 25:00)



Cvinger - Monastery Of Fallen (PR2013) - Cvinger want to be your new black metal crush, and they might just be able to do it with this twenty minutes of raw, rough and unrestrained blasphemy. The band chants in Latin, blasts the hell out of the kit and plays the kind of riffs that you'd expect from a bunch of guys in a cave somewhere or perhaps even a grim tower. It's not the best thing I've ever heard, but if you don't like to smile and hold your frown and horns proud, then you'll fucking love this disc. These three guys seem rather true to the roots of black metal, especially in their imagery and I do think they're trying to go for the "kvlt" sound.

Or maybe not. The disc also contains some acoustic plucking, (Chp.2: Ashes And Dust 1:38) and the whole thing ends on a Latin chant. But tracks like "Blaspherion 3:24", "Salvation In The Darkest Wrath 2:40" and the title "Monastery Of Fallen 3:29" are full of spite and venom, which I'm sure you'll relish for a long time to come. The production is again, quite raw but discernible; and these guys definitely know who their audience is. If you didn't like the turn that Watain took this time around, then perhaps you'll find something in this.

Highlights: Blaspherion, Salvation In The Darkest Wrath, In Thy Kingdom's Sorrow, Monastery Of Fallen (6 Tracks, 20:00)



Masada - Hideous Rot (PR2013) - I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this short release from death metallers Masada, who is made up of current/former members of Immolation, Goreaphobia, Crucifer and Rellik, yet also features a bizarre contribution from Clive Jones of 70's occult rockers Black Widow (who Black Sabbath admits that they always got confused with in The Gospel Of Filth.) The band admits that they wanted to approach aggressive music with a sense of "uniqueness and thought." Which is definitely what they've offered with these five songs.

"Hideous Cerebral Pulp 2:55" opens the disc with a lot of technicality and a production quality that's more than just a little unpolished. Still, there's no denying the weirdness of this one. These guys certainly have a lot to offer with the guttural growls of Cazz Grant, who seems more than capable for this act. "Fluteotherapy 3:12" is where things get very interesting however, and I highly recommend that you check out this disc, just because this odd ritual track is on it. Is it sex, is it flute? Is it still the same band? Whatever it is, I like it. Maybe they'll incorporate the flute more on their next disc, which is already in the works. But the sounds of people moaning in orgasm amidst flute playing is fantastically surprising. "Exist To Rot 2:14" comes in, just as if the flutes and moans had never existed. Make no mistake about it, there's some overall great riffs to be found on this one. It's hard for me not to like this album thus far. "Suffer Mortal Decay 2:46" begins next, with a great shriek from Cazz (always love those little shrieks) and all sorts of nice little melodies sprinkled about. "Toxic Unreality 3:39" ends our trip with a solid death metal track.

As a whole, Masada deliver. But I'd like to hear more. This disc isn't even quite 14 minutes of music, but hopefully the next release will be a bit longer and feature even more interesting eccentricities. Try a few tracks out for yourself:

Hideous Cerebral Pulp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8q6fQeiIZ5o

Suffer Mental Decay:
http://deathgasm.com/?p=150 You can also order the album there.

Highlights: Fluteotherapy, Exist To Rot (5 Tracks, 14:00)



The Mezmerist - The Innocent, The Forsaken, The Guilty (PR2013) - Looks like we're going to have another Decibel battle here. It's not that I have anything against the fine reviewers of Decibel, it's just that after I've heard the same disc that they thought was garbage (to put it bluntly) and find the effort to be much better than garbage; I want to scratch my head and wonder who might have paid this Justin M. Norton for his review of this album. I'm serious. A Kmart guitar? Are you joking?

Now, I could be a complete and total dick and look at that guy's tastes, probably finding something shitty in my search and throwing it back at him in the vein of "Well, you like "this" so your opinion does not matter." But then again, that's unprofessional and it looks bad on me. So I won't do that. cause this guy probably likes Nails and Nails suck. But at any rate; I really enjoyed what I've heard on this album at first listen, as it mixes a bit of Sabbath with a bit of Mercyful Fate and a dash of prog to top it all off. These are all GOOD things and we SHOULDN'T discourage GOOD things.

But to Justin, it sounded like a "bunch of high school kids doing a lame Mercyful Fate impression" and he added that only Bill Ward's appearance (Black Sabbath) "makes this notable." And while it is true that Bill Ward played on the first part of this disc, (the Born Again EP) we're completely forgetting about Tommy Mezmercado who apparently is "no Bobby Liebling." Since I've never heard of this Liebling character, I'm going to go get some of his material and see how good he really is.

The album opens with "The Forsaken 3:01" and is kind of comical and might not appeal to you any more than the first time around. "Dead Ones Cry No More 6:56" definitely evokes Mercyful Fate, with Tommy doing a decent King Diamond impression. But it's not about the vocals. This guy can play and pretty well, I might add. His melodies really light up the track and make it worthwhile. "Arabian Nights 3:33" continues with the King Diamond vocal approach, but a little lacking this time. Good thing he can back it up with his guitar. I am noticing that he's using a lot of the same melodies though. "Victim Of Environmental Change 5:51" evokes the sense of trippy 70's guitars that you would expect for such a project and definitely manages to deliver what would have been the closer to that first EP with Bill Ward on the kit. If you wanted it to end with a big prog jam, then you're in luck. Because that's what it did.

The second part of the disc is an EP released in 1985. JR is on drums this time around and the band has an obviously better production value. Tommy doesn't use his King Diamond vocal approach here and decides to use his normal vocal tone. "Kingdom Of The Dead 3:58" is decent, but doesn't really light up until the guitar solo comes in, followed by a slight jam. "No Family, No Friends 4:13" is mostly a jam with a couple of lyrics and the main highlight of this EP is it's closer, "The Jam Song 8:57" which is big hippie prog jam, filled with many wonderful moments of blazing guitar. It's also got some surf-rock influence.

On my second listen, I sort of understand what he means now. It's not exactly amazing. The second EP really seemed to go nowhere, other than the prog jam. But it's a little better than the 3/10 that Justin gave it. Five years went into this new version of the material and I guess it is a sort of rare collector's item; but it's certainly no Timeghoul. There's definitely some great things here and there, but I've heard much better from Mercyful Fate and Sabbath and several other bands of this nature. The disc is a little over thirty minutes and will probably still stand as a rare collector's item which will include a DVD portion explaining how it all came together. But it's worth checking out for curiosity's sake.

Highlights: Dead Ones Cry No More, Victim Of Environmental Change, The Jam Song (7 Tracks, 36:00)



Argus - Beyond The Martyrs (PR2013) - Argus are a noteworthy five-piece heavy metal band that makes me think of a crunchier mix of Iron Maiden and Manowar. Which in all honesty, is a very good thing. The album thunders forth with opener "By Endurance We Conquer 6:43" and then follows with the slightly prog/slightly Maiden influenced "No Peace Behind The Line 4:56" which has as catchy as chorus as a song of this nature should have. Doom creeps in on "The Hands Of Time Are Bleeding 4:56" and "Trinity 5:30" brings a couple of thrash riffs into the mix. But I don't think it's their strongest track.

"Four Candles Burning 3:54" returns the triumphant riff melodies, backed by the masculine wails of the frontman. Damn, Manowar hasn't sounded this good in years. "The Coward's Path 7:28" is the longest track on the disc because it welcomes more atmosphere and a cleaner touch of vocal. There's also the notable re-emergence of doom. And yes, it delivers. "Cast Out All Raging Spirits 5:01" brings back the Maiden influences, as you'll notice - but with a bit more heat and fuzz than you would expect from Maiden, and would expect for early Manowar. Then there's the album closer, "Beyond The Martyrs 5:11" which is an obviously doom-laden, but still quite powerful instrumental piece. It's a great way for the album to end and further cements the fact that you really need to check this out when it becomes available. I've never heard of these guys before, but I can say with all certainty that this album made a real dent in my playlist and I would certainly like to more from this band in the future. Argus sound like heavy metal used to sound, so if you miss that style; then you should definitely check these guys out. If you like your heavy metal to have the right amount of melody, structure and crunch; then you certainly can't go wrong with Argus. Definitely an act to watch out for.

Highlights: By Endurance We Conquer, The Hands Of Time Are Bleeding, Four Candles Burning, The Coward's Path, Beyond The Martyrs. (8 Tracks, 43:00)



Abominant - Onward To Annihilation (PR2013) - Like with many bands I've reviewed, this is my first album from Abominant. Upon further research I gathered that the band has done a good amount of music since then, so I can't and will not try to compare it to any of their work in the past. As far as I'm concerned, it might as well be a debut. Hell, before I even researched it; I thought it was. But for what it's worth, (and you've probably already cast off my review now for something on From The Dust Returned, Tuefel's Tomb, Metal Storm, or Metal Archives) this album absolutely kills. And not just in the fact that it's a "brutal" disc. No, there's far more than unhinged brutality going on here, which is what drew me to the release.

"We Are Coming 5:18" is very much a solid black/death track with a powerful solo and some interesting work at the end, (I say it's great, but elitists might just call it good.) and "Conquerors Of Death 7:10" carries with that same onslaught, adding some groove to the mix which will envelop into a memorable (and lengthy) solo. At least with this album, these guys seem to be able to perform a strong balancing act of both black and death metal. "Left To Rot 3:25" is a bit quicker than the others, definitely paying homage to thrash amidst bits of death and the occasional black metal scowl. "Battlescarred 4:57" takes a bit to start up, but it pretty manifests as black metal riffs with death metal vocals laying over the top of them, topped with frantic blasts. Again, I like the performance; but other reviewers are probably going to chalk it up to "decent."

"Onward To Annihilation 5:41" brings the same amount of spite that we'd expect, but then the unexpected "Hold Your Ground 2:42" comes in with a Judas Priest vibe, completely different from anything else on the album and sounding like a completely different band altogether. Not sure if it's a cover or not, but it's certainly a good performance and a welcome relief from the formula of the last couple of tracks. "Beside The Dying Flame 6:37" comes next, reaching into doom territory for a while, then playing with death/thrash and black/thrash. As such, there's also a solo. But this is definitely the band at their most unrestrained. "Legions Of Hell 6:56" closes us out with gravel vocals laid over familiar black metal riffs, but that's until the song slows down to welcome a more foreboding and crushing approach. A blazing solo appears from nowhere, and the song takes many turns before it finds in end in one last solo and some excess. (Could've ended with the solo.)

Basically, if you've heard Abominant before and you like black/death and thrash metal; then that's what you're getting with this album. There's really no need to elaborate on this further, mention the names of band members and other such things that you'd find in a normal review. A good bit of the promo reviews I do are blind and I like it that way. If I get info with the promo that tells me who the band members are I might mention it; (but I've fucked up so many times with that before) but other than that, "the frontman" or "the drummer" or "the guitarist" or "the bassist" works for me. Unprofessional? Heck yeah. But there's so many professional reviewers out there and I don't want to be another one of them. I review discs my own way, and that's measured by how they effect me.

This disc was excellent music to listen to while doing the final edits on my latest novel (now self-published on Amazon as of the date of this post) and these guys really know what they're doing. Again, Abominant performs a strong balancing act of black and death on this album and they're not afraid to play with thrash, doom and even classic heavy metal either. I wish more bands would break out of the box like this - and I hate to say it, but most albums I like these days are from bands that are either doing something different, or are doing a familiar style proficiently. In other words; if you've made a dent, then that effort gets noticed.

I definitely recommend this album, as it shows the band at their strongest (in so far as I've heard) and delivered much more than I would have expected from it. (ie: bland death metal) Maybe it doesn't go into the realms of weirdness or incorporate all sorts of technicality or progressive power - but it's just damned good black/death. If it's done right and I can't find a flaw, then it's perfect. There's really nothing else to say.

(8 Tracks, 42:00)



Sinocence - No Gods, No Masters Vol.1 (PR2013) - This is my first rendezvous with Sinocence and I'm more than quite pleased with this short release. These Irish thrashers add progressive and melodic elements to what is essentially a type of doom comparable to Sentenced. And yes, it's very bit as good as it sounds.

The disc comes bursting out of the gate with opener "A Coda On Self Slaughter 6:46" in which blazing solos as it hits groove and a Metallica-like sensibility. Except that there's that slight depressiveness that Metallica wouldn't inhabit and I'd expect from Sentenced. Except for the greater musicality as far as the drums are considered. The man behind the kit is extraordinarily talented, and his drum taps work well with the frontman's depressive bellows. In other words, this reminds me of the ballsier side of Sentenced. The song also contains one hell of a fucking solo piece, which is part of the reason why it's a bit long. But I'll allow it, especially with the remarkable finish.

"Long Way Down 4:48" mixes light melodies in with bits of groove, but then things go right into Katatonia territory (who might need to take note of the band that's going to end up replacing them.) When the chorus hits, I can feel it. Then you get that slight bit of drum bashing. Just enough to show that these guys can kick and play depressive rock as well. Unexpectedly, a jam session then begins and it really seems to light the song up.

The next song is "Occams Razors 8:01" which will more than likely end up on my personal playlist. It starts out much the way you'd expect for depressive rock, but has one of the best choruses I've heard from this kind of music - ever. I can feel the emotion in those lines, they're just so fucking vibrant. You can't fake that shit. Being that the song is the longest on this album, it's got all kinds of bells and whistles; one of the largest bells being powerful vocal lines. Again, you can really feel the emotion in this song. Then a solo comes in and we appreciate it. I mean, we really appreciate it. And then after all that, we're back to the amazing chorus. But not just another reiteration - the vocal lines work their way up to it and then it hits, BAM! I've got to hear these guys do this one live. Jesus Christ, that's fucking awesome! I'll be playing this one for years, you can be sure of it.

"West Of Eden 5:54" features more prog elements, as well as more bite. There's a chorus here, but I don't think it's as strong as it could be. I can't really hear it, and I think the verses sound better than the chorus. I definitely hear the Sentenced influences here. It's also got a nice solo on the end.

"Cruelty In Silence 7:37" ends the disc out on a high note with more thrash, some technicality and a strong chorus. The song really sticks to the verse, like with "Occams Razors" and is much in the same vein, except with more thrash. It also incorporates an awesome solo right into the chorus. That's how you end an album.

Well, I'm obviously floored here. These guys also have two full albums in addition to this release, namely; 2005's Still Life Pose and 2009's Scar Obscura. And if those two records are anything like this, I'm going to have to check them out for sure. I also recommend that you check out these guys if you want to hear what Katatonia or Sentenced would sound like with more emphasis on thrash and solos. Which honestly sounds good. But that's because it is.

Highlights: A Coda On Self Slaughter, Occams Razors, Cruelty In Silence (5 Tracks, 33:00)



Carach Angren - Death Came Through A Phantom Ship (PR Reissue 2013) - This symphonic black metal band came out of nowhere with a very solid symphonic black metal album. The orchestral pieces flow beautifully with the metal and nothing seems like it is too much, or too out of place, yet it could still be too bombastic and well produced for those who have “kvlt” tastes in this sort of music.(Everything is extremely clear.)I might also add that each song has it’s own style in accordance with the story, and I find that refreshing. If you are looking for a contender to Dimmu Borgir, these guys would definitely be at the top of that list. This reissue contains three bonus tracks, which I will get to later. This review was originally done on my second week (and now we're up to 86+) so I'm going to expand it for this reissue of the disc. Go further into the release, if you will.

The disc begins with the intro "Electronic Voice Phenomena 0:57" which is just a short intro to this concept album. "The Sighting Is A Portent Of Doom 4:07" kicks in with black metal and synths. These guys actually manage to work a few light solos on this album, in addition to the Dimmu Borgir tendencies. You've also got to say something about the melodies here. The song itself actually takes many turns, and might sound to some not quite finished. But I don't see that, as the piece reminds be both of Cradle and Dimmu Borgir, seeing Carach Angren as a direct relative of these two bands that I highly frequented in my younger days. "And The Consequence Macabre 6:43" begins to feel much like a movie-score complete with lots of vast structural changes (which are very welcome, by the way) and vocals that definitely do a great job of narrating the story. His tone is brash, but audible. Maybe because I've heard several thousand pounds of the genre and can decipher the lyrics, but I'll admit that I can follow along with this ghastly tale. Again, the band switches styles quite a bit to coincide with different lines of the story. I'm actually a bit reminded of Bal-Sagoth in this notion, even though as far as music, they're the furthest thing from those guys. It's just in presentation that Carach Angren remind me of those clever Brits in Bal Sagoth.

"Van Der Decken's Triumph 5:15" follows along in the same fashion, incorporating some pianos and violins into the mix, but managing to keep the guitar melodies as a part of that orchestra, not just a part of the band. "Bloodstains On The Captain's Log 5:50" sees more fury in the performance, but it does all appear to be a part of one single song. Which is the intended effect. One of the things I do like about this album, is how each part of the disc introduces a new element to the music so it doesn't come off as sounding all the same. The next track "Al Betekent Het Mijn Dood 1:06" is wonderful interlude, showing some serious acting chops from these guys. Operatic acting chops, which are completely uncommon in bands of this nature. "Departure Towards A Nautical Curse 5:31" comes in next, complete with Theremins and a standout guitar solo. There's plenty of blasts as well. "The Curse Of A Spectral Ship 5:07" welcomes a bit of thrash backed by grand orchestral arrangements (quite like the rest of this disc.) Finally, we have "The Shining Was A Portent Of Gloom 8:49" which ends out the disc. I'm hearing some Cradle-influenced melodies in the beginning, but there's obvious atmosphere buildup before a sunlit solo arrives, something that you just wouldn't expect. I mean, the whole thing sounds kind of beautiful with the pianos and such, but of course it gets much heavier and a bit more eerie in tone. I really like the bass thumps at the end of this one, which are truly headbang-worthy. It's a great way to end out an interesting disc.

Bonus Tracks

This special reissue contains three bonus tracks, two of them from the band's Ethereal Veiled Existence EP (remember that the Lammendam reissue contains three more) and one from The Chase Vault Tragedy demo. These are also re-recorded versions that the band did in 2011 (which means that they more than likely recorded the entire Ethereal Veiled Existence EP in 2011, so if you have digital copies, you can just put the songs in order and in a sense you'll have the re-recorded EP.

At any rate, "The Ghost Of Rayham Hall 4:55" sounds like the previous release, but with a bit more structure than the twisting Death Came Through A Phantom Ship. I can also hear the Cradle influence here. "Ethereal Veiled Existence 5:19" does carry itself in many opposite ways however, even though it unleashes some really intriguing melodies. It's definitely melodic black metal. Since "Sepulchural Disequilibrium 3:59" is a re-recording from the band's demo, I wasn't sure how it would come off. But the orchestration shines brightly, while still keeping the feel of an earlier work in this re-recording.

Carach Angren definitely show their influences in this work, and if you're not familiar with those influences, then you've been hiding in a cave somewhere. I definitely think that their brand of metal is palatable; it comes off well to the ears and it doesn't seem as anything more than great melodic black metal with loads of orchestration. These three gentlemen are extremely skilled and this record is a notable step in their evolution. I can hardly wait to see what they'll bring to us in 2014, which seems a good date to expect new material (last disc Where The Corpses Sink Forever came out in 2012.)

Definitely check this album out, as there's a good chance that it may have passed under your radar in 2010.

(12 Tracks, 58:00)



Verdun - The Cosmic Escape Of Admiral Masuka (PR2013) - I'm not real sure about the lyrical content here, or even who Admiral Masuka is; but I can tell you that these guys definitely craft some solid post metal with elements of sludge and core. Of course, right now I'm hearing doom riffs (Sons Of The Atoms 12:45) as a metalcore type vocal approaches in, definitely creating the sort of post/sludge atmosphere as described by the label/band. As you might (and should) expect, the band is very much concerned with making an atmosphere which they do manage to deliver on this first track, coupled with some moments of slight devastation.

"Last Man Standing 7:26" throws in your groove riffs (which I'm starting to notice is a pattern for many bands) but it doesn't stay groovy for too long as some experimentalism creeps in on the riffs. Alright, forgive me. There's actually a lot of instances in the track where those groove riffs are repeated. Also as expected are light moments of atmosphere. These guys are very much like an atmosphere sandwich. They throw little atmospheres in between moments of rough-necked anger. I could do without the clean vocal though. Good thing that was over quickly.

"Jaxa 11:45" is the last track here, featuring the clean vocal backed by what really sounds to me like doom. Call it whatever you want, I'm hearing doom riffs with an odd spoken vocal approach. It sounds good, but this post/sludge/core whatever just seems like pretension to what's really a core influenced doom metal. There's a couple heavy bits to the track, but I like the more doom influenced portions and when the leads finally come in to provide some melodies. There is some nice riffery going on here, so I'll definitely have to point that out. The song ends on a bit of drone, which I guess works for the band and at least makes it stand out a bit.

I don't know much about these guys, other than the fact that they share their band name with the last name of a woman who wanted to date me, so that's very odd. I decided to "just be friends" with that woman and I feel the same way with the band. They're a good enough act, but I really don't think they're worth marrying.

Highlights: Jaxa (3 Tracks, 31:00)



Phelios - The Gates Of Atlantis (PR2013) - Phelios is an exciting German project from one-man atmospheric musical powerhouse Martin Sturtzer and if you're into floating through other dimensions, then you'll absolutely love the work performed here. Every track on the album offers a glimpse into another strange world, each with their own separate cultures and sounds. Martin is a master of synths and percussion, much of his work being akin to filmscores. "Gates Of Atlantis 5:35" starts out on such a note, reminding me of the grandeur of a soundtrack used in Avatar or perhaps even that John Carter (Of Mars) film that's actually worth checking out. It boasts heavy percussion with a strong sense of desert atmosphere.

But then we have the exact opposite in "Temple Of Yith 6:59" which seems to evoke a temple atmosphere, in the fact that I can imagine the structure which might house these sounds. There's some sort of giant alien entity in the center of an altar that doesn't seem to embody any sort of recognizable human form and there's about ten or twelve cloaked humanoids (at least, that's what I can perceive) bowing down and chanting in low drones while the air wisps about the structure, blowing the dust about. "Spiritual Possession 5:35" is a slightly darker piece, one that leads itself right into the heart of foul rituals and occultists who cut strange symbols into their hands, the blood falling in small puddles beneath their feet. What god requires such a sacrifice? Well, that is uncertain. I feel that I must hide from these madmen until their impractical ritual ends.

"Hibernation 7:32" brings me into another temple, this one housing a great being of some sort (be it god or devil, I know not) encased inside of a large, flesh colored egg. Or at least, that's what it appears to be. The drums thunder in my head, as if there's some sort of great spiritual significance to the birth of this entity; it truly feels like the march for a future ruler of an obscure section of the cosmos that I will never be able to enter fully, with my head sticking out of the veil to merely observe these strange dimensional sightings.

"New Stellar Age 5:55" uses the magic of synths to fly me through the cosmos at the speed of light, as I hear the very sounds of the universe itself ebbing and flowing around me. These are the sounds of warbling stars, solar winds and whirling suns. "The Shadow Out Of Time 7:55" mixes the atmosphere of drums and cosmic synths together, making for something truly Lovecraftian and slightly dark in nature. The final track on the disc is "Ascension 7:47" which captures the feel and sound of thousands of different dimensional planes and combines into a finale of sound and wonder.

Martin has been able to capture the sounds of ritual and the universe for this record, which may be useful during ritual practice. If you don't practice any sort of ritual or even meditation; you might find the work an intriguing atmosphere nonetheless. It's at times quite dark, but it doesn't feel like a threatening dark; regardless of what the fiction author that I am has described. It feels and behaves just like it should, but I wouldn't recommend it as a sort of sleeping music, as the drums become rather lively and things do sound very much like that of an "epic filmscore." Nevertheless, I can't find any faults with it and would certainly recommend it to fans of strong, ritualistic and spatial atmospheres. Phelios is most certainly a noteworthy act in this atmospheric genre.

Highlights: All (7 Tracks, 42:00)



TOMB - Third Wave Holocaust (PR2013) - TOMB which is an acronym for Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy, is a US dark atmospheric act that utilizes bits of static and other such things in order to create a foreboding and at times ritualistic atmosphere. The band considers themselves to be "occult artists" and the performances on the disc to be "ritual performances" but I'm not sure how much I can buy all of that. For a man who's studied the occult for too many years out of pure curiosity and intrigue, I sometimes really want to believe that someone, somewhere has a hidden key. But I don't think these guys have it, especially due to a song called "Disrupting Admin" which turns me off the validity of the occult practices on the disc automatically. Since "Disrupting Admin" would mean "Disrupting Administrator" usually something that would refer to the web, (and please don't even think for two seconds that you're going to tell me that occult practices can be conducted via the computer, because that's completely ludicrous) and I don't believe that such a track (let alone Vulgarity and Third Wave Holocaust) would exist on a true album of occult practices. Alright, now having completely destroyed the band's image and realizing that these are just some talented guys who want to make a dark ritualistic atmosphere, I'll review the album.

"Antagonizing The Unknown 5:20" starts out very horror-esque, you've got your fuzz and some otherwordly wails and the like. It's definitely the kind of music that might get under someone's skin or sound great in a survival horror video game series like Silent Hill. "Electric Exorcism 6:47" comes next, but to the untrained ear it's just going to sound like a bunch of fuzzy static. It would work better in a film or game, as it builds that atmosphere. "The Great Venerat Insult 5:03" also works well in a horror-influenced setting, as these guys generally seem to make music that gets under your skin. It's probably not what you'd want to play in a dark room, but for others... it may help to replace the work of horror soundtracks in some computer/video games.

"NA LA GORE NA 5:44" Starts out with a foreboding atmosphere backing by the chanting of months, but then static is added to the mix and it doesn't really work for me. "Vulgarity 5:21" just might ruin my computer speakers because the fuzz is so thick and for that reason, I won't want to play it more than once. It's just a layer of overly thick fuzz and static that really doesn't appeal to me at all. "Disrupting Admin 4:13" begins, mixing some electronic atmosphere along with more static and slight chants. It's more listenable than "Vulgarity." Next is "VOM VOODOO 4:24" which sounds like it came from a futuristic world where a horde of robots are all babbling at each other and it all comes off as assorted electronic noise. The noise reverberates off the steely walls, where it sounds even louder.

"Third Wave Holocaust 4:35" sounds like the inside of machine, it's gears turning and electric discharges erupting from inside it's rotating core. "Clairvoyant Frequencies 7:45" uses static to create more of an atmosphere, so it doesn't sound as much like the "just static" that some of the other static laden tracks on this album inhabit. The disc ends with "Tribute To HANHUA 6:28" who makes me think of some Hawaiian god of Cocaine. People are certainly chanting to him, amidst thundering gongs and some bells. I also hear a bit of static in the release, as well as some female vocals that come into the mix. I guess as far as ritualism is concerned, this one sounds quite believable. But remember that these guys are just trying to make an atmosphere, so there's no actual ritual action going on in the disc. Not that I can discern anyway.

TOMB like to make a lot of noise and a lot of static. But they also manage to create some horrific soundscapes replete with slight elements of ritual, and I guess that's interesting enough. Not completely my sort of thing, but I guess to those who understand the thick static, it will work in their favor. Definitely prefer the more horrific and more ritual side of these guys to just the static. I can make my own "Vulgarity" in about five minutes with a few programs. In fact, I think I've accidentally done that a few times. As a matter of fact, I have an idea. I'm going to take one song from each genre of metal and overlap them using Audition to see what comes out of it. That's power, death, black, thrash, operatic, goth, industrial, progressive and everything else. I think these guys have inspired me to start creating monsters.

Highlights: Third Wave Holocaust, Tribute To HANHUA (10 Tracks, 55:00)



Huge Rat Attacks - Organic Babies (Band Request 2013) - These guys have wanted me to review their album for a long time now, and I've finally gotten to it. As a matter of fact, I listened to the disc while doing the last of my final edits and the atmosphere was just what I needed to complete the task. It's a short album, but it's certainly a strong one. "Dimensional Loops 4:48" comes in like distorted post-metal with a vocal approach that I find useful for the genre. There's also some beautiful leads that provide background atmosphere (dare I say shoegaze?) and it all just comes off satisfying. Not to mention the jamboree portion at the end. Very nice, guys.

"Skeksis On Jet Skis 2:27" makes me think of porn music, but it also makes me think of blues. The vocals sort of sound like psychobilly or grave rock. Whatever the case, it's certainly a good tune. "Organic Babies 3:26" is probably one of the best Kyuss impressions I've heard in years. Of course, this might be more along the lines of Vista Chino (but I like the vocalist better.) "Wheel 3:47" comes off a bit dirty (but everything here does, so that's alright.) but adds clean melodies to the dirt, almost like pouring a bottle of Fabuloso on the ground. The track gets weird for a minute, but returns to it's melodic rock nature. "Heavy Jelly 4:20" certainly retains the same stoner/doom feel as much of this album, and brings back the shoegaze riffs, and what sounds like it's going to turn into a rockabilly solo like three times, but never does. What a weird fucking riff. Eventually a muffled solo does kind of make it's way amidst all the oddity, but I will not fault these guys for being different.

"One More Day Fades Away 2:56" took me by surprise, and I think it sounds a bit more like indie rock with slight hypnotic effects. Pink Floyd, John Lennon? I'm not even sure. Some people might find something here, but not me. "Detonate 3:55" brings things more into recognizable territory. Things get weird and crowded for sure, but that's the charm of this band. It's very fuzzy. There's also a great solo on the track. The disc ends with "Vision Quest: Gary 4:34" (The snail?) For some odd reason, I think Gary is a snail. A snail popped in my head for some reason. As far as the song goes, it's another strong stoner rock piece with plenty of trip. After listening to this disc, I'm convinced that these guys have a lot to offer.

Somebody should sign or be signing Huge Rat Attacks. I know there's a label out there who could add them to their roster. This is just the kind of material that doesn't really sound like anyone else. They have such an odd kind of hypnotic quality about them that I just haven't heard from any other band. Also, like it or not, I can't fault "One More Day Fades Away" too much, because at least they are showing that they aren't one trick ponies. Most people are going to want this music at it's fuzziest, but no matter what they do; they certainly have a quality that is more than noteworthy. I definitely recommend checking these guys out. The disc went down to 5.00 USD, so you really should take advantage of that and give it a shot. I mean, if the guys had to lower it because no one bought it; then there's a serious problem. There's that word again... trailblazers. These guys are really blazing their own trail with this music and I really hope that the big guys take notice. This is the stuff you keep your eye on. I expect these guys to appear in a rock/metal magazine one of these days. Yeah, it's that good.

Highlights: Basically everything but "One More Day Fades Away" (8 Tracks, 30:00)



Dark Season - Cruel Domination (Band Request 2013) - I've got a thrash band called Dark Season now from Brazil. While I'm not crazy about the album art, the band certainly seems to be able to elicit some worthwhile thrash. The frontman has a throaty bark, but his vocals seem to be high in the mix and the other instruments sound like they're in the background with the exception of guitar solos. "Shadow Of The Evil 3:59" is one example where the solo efforts truly prevail, I just wish that I could hear the drums a bit more and the effort seems a little contained. "Interceptor 4:46" seems to add more melody into the thrash, but I just don't know how well I like the vocals here. Once again, the solo portion delivers. "Groom Lake 4:32" kicks up the groove and keyboards (but I can't really discern them) which definitely don't make a dent until the solo. There's also some odd trilling sounds. At least these guys are trying new things. "Final War 6:23" comes in with a thump, backed with spoken vocals. There's a couple interesting ideas in this track, like the use of electronics and uncommon riffs. A clean vocal chorus comes in next, very much like a sort of melodic or power metal. A solo also comes in and just like all of the rest, it delivers. "Channel 666 4:51" comes in and pummels. I mean, I can really hear the drums (even though the synths are tough to hear) this time and the song appears to be taking a power-thrash tone. There's some spoken vocal parts too. We get another keyboard solo and then a keyboard/guitar solo. Great work, as they're both memorable. "Fighting The Day 4:42" sounds more like power thrash, but has a good clean vocal chorus. I don't like the frontman's harsh vocal attempts here. He should just use a gravel approach and clean sing the choruses. That would make it a melodic death/power band which would be fucking great. I just don't know how many people are going to go for the rough vocal approaches that he uses. "Going Down 5:44" starts out with those odd melody delays that I mostly hear in more experimental black metal.

Alright. Stop this review for a minute. At about "2:25-2:30" there's a well produced harsh vocal attempt. It sounds great, it would have worked better if you'd done the whole album in this fashion. And don't think that I'm not familiar with vocals, as I've been doing them for damn near twenty years in all sorts of extreme metal projects. The only thing that I really needed to know is if this guy could bellow out some true harsh vocals. But then I hear the "We're gonna die!" part and literally want to say to these guys, "Can you go back and redo all the vocals minus the clean portions in this harsh tone?" It would work much better, and I think that listeners will agree. Some people can do thrash vocals. I can't. I don't even like doing clean work because I hate the sound of my own voice. But I'm good with gravel and I'm good with scowls, so that's what I stick to. Was making a vocal placeholder for a song last night and noticed this. A friend told me to use clean vocals on the album, but I really don't think I'm going to because I just can't do good enough clean. I don't want to suffer listeners through bad clean, so I'd rather not do it. That's what I feel is the issue with this disc. The clean vocals here are good, but the thrash vocals want to seem heavier which makes them come off terrible. I said in my Thoughts On Reviewing that I wouldn't pay attention too much on vocals, unless the frontman really dropped the ball. And I feel that he did. As a matter of fact, the harsh vocal performance is so good that I would have probably liked this disc a hell of a lot more if the harsh vocals had been used.

Resuming the review, this track is actually quite good. The last track on the disc is "This Cruel Domination 5:33" which is filled again with more bad thrash vocals. Then there's fucking gravel. Jesus Christ! Why did you even bother with the thrash vocals when you can do gravel like that? Yes, this is what I want to hear. I want to hear more of this harsh vocal work. Then we get another great solo from both the guitar and keyboard, followed with great harsh vocals. Damn, there's real potential here. I hope that these latter tracks are signs of things to come. I mean, if the next Dark Season is harsh vocals and the music as good as it's presented on this disc, then I'll definitely spotlight it. Yes, I did say spotlight it. These guys are good musicians, they're just ruined by the thrash vocals.

Despite that I didn't like the cover (which isn't figured into my score) or the thrash vocals, (which are figured heavily into my score) these guys are a very promising act. They really need to stick to the melodic death style replete with keyboards and thrash riffs that they are working towards here, and I really hope that they'll take my constructive criticism having done this kind of vocal work for many years. They've got it. They just really need to evolve the music in the direction it seems to heading... which is a good direction. A good fucking direction.

I'm definitely curious to see how the next album turns out. These guys have major potential. They're almost a solid metal act.

Highlights: Channel 666, Going Down, This Cruel Domination (8 Tracks, 40:00)


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