Stellar Master Elite - II: Destructive Interference Generator (Spotlight Album PR2013) - Stellar Master Elite's second album is as I've said; much better than the new Satyricon release therefore proving that the student has become the master. While listening to this record, I certainly got the feeling several times, "this is the direction that Satyr should have taken his music into" by bringing back the industrial elements that these two musicians have so carefully mixed together with the same scathing, yet ominous black metal. A friend and I were listening to the album on the way home and he was simply elated with the disc, stating "I think this is the album of the year for me" and going on to say, "this is what I wanted from Satyricon... to mix the black and roll with industrial elements..." Naturally, my friend also insisted that he was going to purchase a copy of the disc as soon as it becomes available as he's completely floored with it, to say the very least. So there is another opinion for those of you who might not like mine. '
I did like the album, don't get me wrong - I thought it was a great piece of music, but not my album of the year. I still stand by just what I've said, "this is the direction that Satyr should have taken his music into" and I highly recommend that you check it out. "Prodigium 3:17" starts the disc off with thick electronic soundscapes that go right into familiar Sonic Reign/Satyricon territory with the next track "Thoughtcrimes/Villian/Slave 4:21." Naturally, Ben from Sonic Reign also does vocals on the album. I hope that this will not change on the next release. As far as the lyrics go, the album is anti-elite/NWO/TPTB/Illuminati and I will recommend it hundred-fold due to that. Black metal that rebels against the all-seeing-eye is certainly my cup of tea. The lyrics are also very easy to understand, which makes it easier to get these points across. The song itself is absolutely scathing and is a tremendous opener to the disc. The next track "Beyond Light 8:15" opens with a much different sense though, and some interesting thoughts accompanying these new spatial atmospheres that blanket the band's familiar black metal style. "Turn Of Your Intellect, You Already Know Everything." Perhaps I should have asked him about these topics, other than the topics that I did ask. I'm sure a hearty metaphysical/anti-elite discussion would have formed from that. (Note to self - Will have to write an interview for this one.) There's not much else that I can say about "Beyond Light 8:15" other than the fact that it is a black metal spectacle.
As the promo material states, SME is not to be reduced to just a Thorns tribute, ("Stellar Master Elite" is a Thorns track that Satyr did vocals on.) and contains doom, avant-garde, and reminiscence of Ved Buens Ende, Virus, Sleep, Voivod, Coil, or John Carpenter. This is not just marketing speak, as the music does elicit all of these things; with black metal being it's largest construct. "Pattern Of Perception 6:50" adds atmospheres and melodic guitars that almost seem to shoegaze between the blasts. "Prison Planet 4:20" starts out well, but is one of the only songs I have a problem getting into. The melodies weave thickly in and out as the song seems sort of a whisper compared to the other tracks, it feels like it has a sort of "shadow essence" in tone and I guess after the third time listening to it, I think I can accept it for it's uniqueness. "The Mobius Strip 4:16" brings back the thunder of Satyricon, but with a few more atmospheres than you would expect from Satyricon. Satyr, this is called "evolution." You might want to try it.
"Destructive Interference Generator 10:43" is that one amazing track that mixes electronics and black metal together perfectly - it's worthy of then ten minute time-span and even includes some interesting quotes. I hope that's not Alex Jones though, because he's a known plant; just like Tila Tequila has become on YouTube. But there a few out there who are in the know. Notice I said "a few." At any rate, this track is also a spectacle. II is the kind of album that you have sit down and listen to yourself. I can't just rattle off a bunch of words and tell you what it sounds like. It's something that you have to check out for yourself, so when I say "a spectacle" then you'd better believe it's a spectacle, because I rarely ever use that word and there's a good reason for doing so. The final track on the album is "Empty Shells Of Being 3:13" which lightens the mood musically with a few claps and some maracas, but it's definitely still a heavy track and has just as fierce message as the others. I'm reminded of Sigh here, so that's a good feeling.
All in all, I can't find any fault with this album. I agree with the message and the music is a damned good conduit for sending out that message. These guys prove that this is no sophomore slump, and it's definitely worth getting your hands on when it's available on October 4th. That's not too long from now, so just be patient. Once again, I don't want you all to just think that this record is useless insofar as its lyrical content and that it's not just some "blah, blah satanic, misanthropic, nihilistic" content like you get with a lot of black metal lyricism these days. The topics that are put forth on this album aren't just for your enjoyment. It's not Iron Maiden's "Number Of The Beast" style historical/fiction. It's something that is very well happening all around us right now.
In 2030, China will be the world's biggest consumer of grain in the world. So what does that mean to you? Well, most things that you eat are made from grain. Obviously grain has much to do with flour and we consume a lot of grain based products. Many are complaining about Monsanto's GMO laden food, but the sad awful truth is that these modified foods might be our only sustenance in an uncertain future. Obviously, Big Brother is knocking on the door with the Xbox One (Seriously, why are they calling it "One?" That scares the living shit out of me.) and I suspect the elite to bring their oppressive chains down on us much further in the future. A world where everyone is connected and nothing is sacred, is just the start, my friends. I never would have believed that these things would actually happen, but it seems as if we're living in a very uncertain world with very powerful people who may or may not be contacting aliens (even the fact that they "think they are" should be unnerving to you) and who have built several underground shelter areas in case of some "event." The Ozark mountains I would have never thought would be one of those.
Yes, perhaps I am just a paranoid fool - and Wal-Mart is even buying into this "conspiracy trend" as I walked into the book section the other day to find that they just happened to have reissued 1984 and Fahrenheit 51 as well as another book of an older time who had the same sort of "dystopian future world" synopsis. I think Harper Publishing is behind this, calling them "classics." I can see that, but where is A Tale Of Two Cities, Moby Dick or The Call Of The Wild? Why are there just three conspiracy books here? Damn. I think I think too much. It's just that I've always believed one simple rule: "If a person sticks their foot out and you trip and fall one day, you might just consider it an accident and continue walking along. But if they do the same action again, you may start to realize that something more sinister is going on, and that the person might be deliberately sticking their foot out in order to trip you. The more times it happens, the more times you notice. Finally, you'll come to the realization that not everyone or everything is as peachy as you might be told to believe."
This would bring me into our youth, being constantly entertained and shown that "the good life" is paved with money, not with charity. A star can donate "some" of their billions to a private corporation that may or may not give one shit about a certain cause, but damn does it make them look good on the television. Our children are being taught that excess of sex, money, drugs and luxuries are what it means to succeed in life. We worry about Hollywood stars as if they're gods. We drown ourselves in media-driven films, television (reality shows) and video games aimed at marketing to a specific audience in order to falsely stifle the cold reality of "hive life." We're all connected. Even the powers that be are connected to us. They watch us constantly, as with the NSA scandal. And people are surprised? You must really research how computer systems and networking operate. It is much easier than you think to monitor or spy on someone using a little device that they carry around with them like a lifeline - a cell phone.
But it gets better. After all, this is just the first step. What do you think is next? Here's a clue: Start going through sci-fi films. I'm serious. Start looking at some of the technologies in recent or past science fiction films. How do these cities operate? How do they control their citizens? Also take a look at the newer ones - Elysium was a good example and The Hunger Games are almost a "Your Future World" for kids series. One thing is for sure, the eye is always watching - and Stellar Master Elite want you to know that. But don't forget about the positive messages in "Beyond Light" either. That's all we've got.
Go get Stellar Master Elite - II: Destructive Interference Generator when it's available on October 4th, of 2013. It's definitely worth checking out and is certainly one of the best albums of the year, albeit not my personal favorite. However, I am hit by so many great albums from time to time that I can't really consider just "one" disc to be my personal favorite album of the year. But II is up there, most certainly.
(8 Tracks, 45:00)
Dark Design - Prey For The Future (PR2013) - Just got a new issue of Decibel in, and that's relevant because Adem Tepedelen (that can't be his real name, unless he had it changed for 200 bucks - I can call myself Banana if I had the money.) gave the record a straight 4/10. In my review scores, that would equal an under mediocre score. The guy also complained that the production was just a step above a demo. And finally, he did not - I repeat, did not like the band's cover of "Dust In The Wind 4:39" (Kansas). I am not entirely sure why, because I thought it was a great cover personally. As a matter of fact, when I have moments of insomnia, a song will repeat over and over in my head and it just happened to be that "Dust In The Wind" cover. It was just that memorable. I've been listening to it in my head, over and over for the past three fucking days now.
Granted, the production is a little raw. But it's not that damned bad. I mean, this is their first release. Also, lower rung labels like Heaven & Hell Records don't necessarily pick the most "polished" records, just the most intriguing ones. These guys definitely have talent, so if you're looking at that review and consider Adem a notary on all things metal; then take a look at this review for a second. First of all, remember how Nevermore sounded when they first started out? It's kind of like that here. Not an amazing production and some of the songs could be a bit better, but you really can't go wrong with "Dark Design 5:13" as it shows the frontman's vocal range quite well and the strength of the guitar melodies and solo ability, which is extremely prominent throughout the disc. "No Death 5:18" also offers a strong effort (and things sound clear enough to me Adem, what are you listening to the disc on?) complete with a progressive jam out. "Abiding Contempt 5:25" switches things up a bit, adding some melodies that remind me a bit more of Slough Feg, yet things go back into Iced Earth territory. Yeah, the frontman sounds a little like Matt Barlow and I'm a fan of his style; so its good to hear that properly emulated here in some instances. There's actually some growls on this one too, which I didn't expect.
Now I'm not so sure about "Welcome To You're Doom 5:56" which I thought was just a spelling error, but it appears not. The track has more of a chunky sound to it, definitely thumps along with the solos and features some background shouts. "Dragonmount 6:47" is definitely a strong track, showing the skinsman a bit more than on some of the others, yet there's no denying that he's just as good as everyone else in the band. It definitely features more thrash and makes itself a highlight. There's also a bit of a folk influence to the chorus. "Meditations 4:41" certainly features the band in fighting form and comes equipped with a powerful solo piece in addition to the power/thrash onslaught. But mostly, this song just gives the band an excuse to show off. "Spice World 7:56" incorporates some middle-eastern melodies, but I can tell they're a bit rough. At any rate, the Iron Maiden influences can be heard, as can the Iced Earth influences (which are obviously very close to each other.) It's very hard not to deny the power of this closing track.
Well, there's also the "Dust In The Wind 4:39" cover which Adem is simply raving about. I wasn't quite sure what to expect either, but you know what? It's done as well as I would've hoped. It's a power/thrash version of the track with great riff melodies that still match the original? The frontman is able to emulate the vocals well enough, but I think that Adem is beating around the bush that he just doesn't like the frontman's vocal tone and is afraid to say it. I mean, if you're going to metal up a Kansas cover, you need to do it justice which is what these guys have done here. I really don't see what the problem is. I mean, come on. At the end of the day, are you really going to just sit there and deny the solo on it? I mean, at least give it that. At least these guys tried their best and you can tell that.
As a big fan of power thrash, I wasn't sure what to expect from these guys and as you know; I'm quite picky when it comes to who does it well. These guys certainly deliver. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that these solos and vocal acrobatics aren't worth checking out, because I'd be a fool. I'm not going to tell you that the drummer on the disc doesn't try, because he does. It's a bunch of guys with a love for the music, simply doing their best to do it justice. I'm really starting to get sick of Decibel reviewers giving releases from the smaller labels that I deal with bad scores because they're smaller labels. And I wasn't going to say anything until I noticed it with my own eyes, issue after issue. There's a Kriadiaz album review in this magazine as well that was given a 3. But I still stand by my 10.
As far as this record goes, it's a pretty high score for me. The album art kills and so does the album itself. Maybe you won't like the vocals, and that might have been Adem's issue (he said it was between mild enjoyment and mild annoyance) with the band. But as far as I'm concerned, the guy's great and I'm sure that these guys will only get better if given the chance to do another one. Sometimes, if scores are so bad a band won't get a chance to do another one; while some popular young punks get the chance to shit out three, four and five more records.
Definitely grab this one. Worth checking out.
Highlights: Dark Design, No Death, Dragonmount, Meditations, Spice World, Dust In The Wind (9 Tracks, 47:00)
Ashencult/Mephorash - Opus Serpens (PR2013) - Well, we've got a split here from two black metal bands.
Ashencult begins with "My Tenth Death 7:51" which features a recording that's halfway between raw and well produced. It's got plenty of blasts, scowls that sound like they're coming from the walls and good melodies. Ought to get your fists raised and your smile turned upside down.
Mephorash is next with "Atramentous Ungod Aspect 9:35" which features a little bit more in the invention department. Monk chants go into gothic organs and then into furious black metal with a deep edge and ravenous frenzy. The riff melodies are entirely catchy and the vocals are absolutely brilliant, as well as the atmospheres that the band manages to encapsulate. These guys are pretty fucking amazing, so I hope to hear more from them.
While I'm not going to say it's a slaughter; I definitely enjoyed the Mephorash slightly more than the Ashencult. Both bands are good in their own right and it's decent length disc that's worth picking up if it's not two expensive (but why would it be? It's just two tracks.) So definitely check these two songs out and support the bands if you like them!
(2 Tracks, 17:00)
Scalpel - Sorrow And Skin (PR2013) - I have been spelling this band's name wrong for a while now, since we say "scapel" here in the south, rather than the actual word "scalpel" and I'm sure I'm not the only one who calls these guys that. Too be honest, from the picture these guys seem like the right kind of guys to drink and smoke a little with and I'm sure they're good at starting up good conversations. Man, I miss that shit - getting together with your buddies in the band and talking about shit. Didn't matter what, just shit. You drink, you talk about shit. Speaking of drinking, there's even a bottle of alcohol in the background of the pic if you'll look closely. But enough about the band, let's talk about the music.
Scalpel is a death metal act that's full of hits and misses. It's probably their first outing and it shows they've got some decent skill. "Ripe 4:05" brings us right forward into the carnage with thick gravel on the vocal side of things and a surprisingly melodic end to the track, not to mention some Nile worship. "Gutmulch 3:52" starts out with blazing drums from the start and some progressive riffs that open into bits of technicality. "The Woodsman 2:24" is short, but it definitely has plenty of time to erupt. "The Black Juices 4:18" is next, and offers a bit of insanity amidst a slower pace. There's a tasteful solo on the end. "Skullscraper 3:19" comes next, throwing in that groove and Cannibal Corpse vibe. "Mincemaster 2:40" minces throughout, really showing that Nile vibe and throwing some melodies at the same time (things get sort of chaotic towards the end.) "Sentinels Of Severed Flesh 2:37" also hits hard and leaves a lasting impression - these guys definitely manage to pump out some strong and promising death metal. Title track "Sorrow and Skin 4:57" showcases the same amount of effort but is full with enough bells and whistles to keep it interesting. These guys definitely do the technical brutal death metal genre justice. But here comes my problem...
There's a song right after this called "The Exterminator Human Slaw 8:41" and it's essentially nearly nine minutes of either static or really kvlt black metal (heehee.) At any rate, it came off quite annoying; so I admittedly have had to skip past it. I was listening to the album on my loud speakers and had no idea that this track was what it was, so I'm making lunch and all of a sudden this eardrum bursting hiss comes and I'm thinking that something happened to my laptop. As I put my fingers into my ears in an attempt to turn it off, (because being that close to those speakers with that static coming through might deafen me) I notice that it's not my laptop, but that these guys literally packaged about nine minutes of static on their disc. After that track ended, "Unspeakable 2:25" began in a strong death metal fashion and delivered on all fronts. I have no fucking clue why there is nearly nine minutes of eardrum damaging static on here, but there is. Nice joke guys. You nearly made me go deaf!
When all is said and done, Scalpel are a pretty strong death metal act. They definitely know what they're doing and offer a relatively strong disc that mixes technicality and death metal at it's most morbid together with a vengeance and fury that some people will absolutely revel in. Despite the static, there's still a decent death metal record to be had here.
Highlights: The Woodsman, Sentinels Of Severed Flesh, Sorrow And Skin, Unspeakable (10 Tracks, 39:00)
Goregast - Covered In Skin (PR2013) - This is a 7" EP from an interesting act that plays a version of traditional death metal, with slight core influences. On A01, we have "Covered In Skin 5:29" which gives us a good exercise in groove, complete with some noted structural and atmospheric changes. It metamorphoses into something much different than when it began and that's interesting enough. The vocals could at sometimes be confused for core grunts, but are definitely trying to be as grimy as any Grave or Entombed vocal should be.
B02 gives us "Mindcreeper 5:02" a song that keeps pushing with the groove, but offers the right atmosphere of pure hopelessness and dread, as well as a good drum workout and strong chorus. Even though this is a 7" sort of deal, the music is surprisingly well produced. This last track is certainly catchy and I can feel the emotion in it, it definitely seems as if a great deal of rage is being spat on the microphone and it helps to convey the venomous soundscapes that the rest of the band are playing.
While not overly long, this short EP from Goregast is well worth checking out for fans of death metal with a bit of core influence.
Highlights: Mindcreeper (2 Tracks, 10:00)
Mark Deutrom - Modern Sensuality And Western Violence (PR2013) - Well, to be honest I wasn't sure what to expect from what appears to be a cowboy and a musician. Cowboys are common here in the south, whether you're in the cattle business or not. It was just a way of showing ruggedness. However, the material on this disc isn't anything like you'd expect from the promo photos and that's a very good thing. I like alternative country as much as the next person, but hearing something altogether different I found was much more rewarding.
Mark Deutrom's music is mainly atmospheres of many different colors and shapes. "Dick Cheney 21:17" starts the disc in something of a gothic manner, which later escapes into a guitar-laden drone. Drums eventually appear and so does a clean manner of vocal. It's got a sense of doom in it, not something you'd expect from the piece, but these guitars are definitely crunchy amidst their slightly unnerving melodies. Experimentation follows the song on it's way out. "Winter Haystacks At Twilight 5:51" welcomes a much lighter atmosphere, complete with flowing melodies and a borderline acoustic nature. "Sky Full Of Witches 5:21" comes in with a major 70's prog rock influence, and I'm actually suggesting Neil Young influence on the vocals. The riffs are a little heavier on this track, but it's not quite as thunderous as the opener. The melodies on the piece are definitely worth paying attention to, and I feel that Mark certainly meets the mark on vocal performance. "Temple Smasher 3:24" comes next, with a fuzzy rock progressive piece that has some semblances to thrash. It sort of reminds me of the music from the old Doom games if it had been done with a guitar and not a MIDI program. Near the end, there's a slight slowdown that I didn't feel was all that necessary. But it does go well into "Other Gods 4:15" which contains a hypnotic vocal echo and the sounds of ethereal piano. The track feels genuine and rather ghostly. "A Shaky Rabbit 5:52" welcomes jazz elements into the mix, as well as good ol' 70's trip rock. There's a Pink Floyd vibe going on here, especially insofar as the vocals are concerned. But the vocals don't last long, letting a sort of weirdness and trumpet take over. It would make for one hell of an elevator ride. "Venerate The Relic 5:46" brings in tribal drums and barely present guitar. Closer to the end, the riffs start sounding a bit more in the vein of Sabbath, but a bit more trippy. "Turn Toward The Sun 3:04" finishes the album with a light, ethereal track that contains a ghostly vocal approach. I'm curious as to what this song could mean, but have theories. Being a conspiracy nut like I am, I tend to turn away from songs that have "The Sun" in them, at any form as that is usually symbolism for the powers that be = Illumination. There's also a bevy of electronics that occur at the end of the disc, so perhaps that references extra-terrestrial beings? That would be my guess, they certainly sound like the bleeps and bloops of an alien craft. Which I am familiar with as I've certainly had my share of writing them into existence.
Despite my conspiracy meter flashing, (the same one that flashed during the Xbox One - I will not walk into anyone's house who has one of those things, because apparently it will ask you for your verification and you have to identify yourself if it doesn't recognize you; whether you want to play a game or not. Orwell rolls in his fucking grave, I do say. Even though fans put up a fight over the console's security, it has been announced that "only members" will be allowed to disable these features. And if I'm as smart as I think I am, then even disabling these features will not mean that they are truly "disabled." Because things can always go on in silent. We have no earthly idea just what that box can and does do, and where that data is going. But hackers will, and I'm sure the machine will be thoroughly gutted and displayed for all to see on the internet. I for one don't want a video game console that monitors my heart rate and utilizes facial recognition software) this record is definitely something interesting. Mark Deutrom has combined many elements to make a truly solid release that offers several different variations of atmospheres, as well as slight moments of weirdness and a 70's trip factor. It's not going to be for everyone, but I'm sure those who come across it hoping for something intriguing will be intrigued. Though I have mentioned that the disc contains elements of doom, it's not a "metal album" per se, so don't expect doom. If you want doom metal, then listen to a doom metal band. This is more than just that and I think it's worth checking out.
(8 Tracks, 54:00)
Darker Half - Desensitized (PR2013) - These guys from Sydney Australia actually have a lot of interesting credits to their merit, some of them involving Tim Owens, Paul Di'Anno and Empires Of Eden, which was a multi-musician project that I apparently missed and need to check out. Naturally, you can hear the Iron Maiden influence on Dom Simpson's drums, as well as Brad Dickson's guitar riffs and obviously, Vo Simpson's vocal lines as well as his own licks - yes, I'm sensing a lot of Iron Maiden here, but still some elements of prog and thrash, and those are great things indeed. "Lost In Space 6:56" was a killer way to open the album, with "End Of The Line 5:18" containing a powerful chorus. As I go through the album though, I'm noticing the same thing - it doesn't feature that much variation in terms of song structure. The vocals are truly monolithic, but they seem to standout more than anything, aside from the occasional guitar solo and drum patterns. I also have a problem with the recording quality on the disc, and feel that with a cleaner production the rest of the band might sound a bit better than just Vo's vocals. Granted, there's a long epic called "As Darkness Fades 7:49" which certainly helps to deliver their message across, but I certainly would've loved "Sacred Ground 5:12" more if it delivered a punch. The chorus is astounding, but the vocal lines are delivered on such slow paced riffs that it just doesn't work for the song. I mean, I really don't know what to say about these guys. They've got talent, but many of the songs just come off rather "same-ey" which kills the talent that they show. Was the last one better?
I guess you should check it out if you like Iron Maiden influenced power/thrash, but when the songs don't get more memorable as they go on and seem to become more annoying, it sets a bad vibe for the band. Not my cup of tea, but there are certainly some people out there who dug it.
(10 Tracks, 54:00)
A Storm Of Light - Nations To Flames (PR2013) - For some odd reason, I thought this was going to be another ordinary post metal band. But I was sure wrong about that. I even listened to the first track "Fall 4:44", not finding myself all that impressed; but it's when I kept listening that something really amazing happened... this album got really fucking interesting. And by that, I mean that it started to incorporate influences from Killing Joke and Ministry. "Omen 3:59" is one of that statement's greatest examples, as well as "Disintegrate 4:48" which continues to separate them from every other post metal band on the planet, but not from Killing Joke - which is what the good songs on this album sound like. Granted, there's nothing wrong with ripping off Killing Joke, especially if you're doing it right and these guys are. Very few bands can rip off an act like Killing Joke in the first place. I've heard covers done sub par, even when they were included on the tribute disc that came with the band's 2010 release. So give these guys that, if nothing else - a lot of people can make a grilled cheese sandwich, but these guys can made a damned mean one.
Naturally this mix of Killing Joke, sometimes Ministry and post metal band X might not sit well with everyone; but if you don't like it, well... I'll just leave that statement for you to fill in. My personal opinion is that A Storm Of Light is probably one of the biggest surprises in metal that I've heard in years. Here I was expecting the same old post metal, which is either hit or miss - then I get something like THIS. Something that I could always find time to listen to, music that I was actually really feeling - it had the right kick of post with the rage of Killing Joke at their most furious - maybe even Tool at their crunchiest; as I'm hearing a few familiar riffs in that department too.
But if I can really break this music down, imagine post metal that isn't so damn slow and atmospheric all the time. You get a lot of post metal and I have nothing wrong with atmospheres by any means; but you start to gain a classification for the genre after a while and I remember that Neurosis wasn't even as slow as some bands currently are. Some people just like to hear thick drudges of fuzz and that's fine - but the fact that A Storm Of Light actually throw in bouts of headbang-worthy thrash, certainly makes the whole disc worthwhile for me. Like I said, there's still "Fall 4:44" as well as it's following tracks "Apostles Of Hatred 5:20" and "The Fore Sermon 4:27" that still feature a little bit of slowdown and atmosphere. Yet they also feature the same sort of kick that some of these post metal albums have been lacking as of late. As far as production goes, it's certainly a warm and fuzzy type of album, laden with the same sort of conspiracy-laden sentiments that I've already alluded to with my Stellar Master Elite review. (No sense in writing another three or four page essay on it!)
I don't know who these guys are and where they came from; but I do know for certain that I want to hear more music from them. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that these guys will replace Killing Joke; but they are certainly borrowing from the right acts. They also won't replace Ministry, but once again; they're borrowing from the right acts. And I think that's all that needs to be said here.
Highlights: Omen, Disintegrate (11 Tracks, 51:00)
End Of Green - The Painstream (PR2013) - End Of Green are a gothic metal band with a heavy tone that verges into hard rock. But my only problem with the band is in their identity. These guys really just don't know who they are yet, and seem to be doing a little bit of everything while trying to find their sound. But it is in this vision quest of an album, that we find some intriguing points.
"Hangman's Joke 4:26" for example reminds me a bit of Lacrimas Profundere, but it also has a sort of catchy, radio-rock quality especially in the vocals that I think will appeal to more listeners than just the target crowd. "Holidays In Hell 4:07" thickens the riffs a little and brings on a familiar deep croon to the vocal approach, which gets downgraded to a regular vocal style. Why? Can you not just use the croons the entire time? Obviously you've got a knack for it, so it's pretty awful that the only thing good about this song is the chorus. The rest of the song is pretty forgettable. Can you just re-record it with the deep vocal croons and forget the clean vocals ever existed? We didn't really need them and it killed the song. There's an attempted Nick Holmes impression, but that doesn't help the fact that there's one hell of an identity crisis going on here. You have this perfect song, and vocally ruin it. This is what I do not understand about bands. If you can growl, but can't sing as well as you growl; then why sing at all? Obviously it's not your strong suite. Just as such here with the croons - if you can make me think that you're Peter Steele on the vocals and do a damn good job of it, then why in the hell are you bastardizing it with a sub-par clean vocal?
"Standalone 3:21" has sort of a party-stripper rock tone to it at the beginning, but then it captures one hell of a chorus. I think out of almost all of these tracks, this one actually got stuck in the concaves of my noggin which means that it's certainly one of the disc's catchier numbers and would be a good single. But it "stands alone" compared to the other tracks on the album. In other words, some people buy a disc because they expect all of the tracks to have this hard rock/Sentenced feel to them, but that's not true here. "Final Resistance 5:09" brings a Paradise Lost feel to the album, especially as far as the riffs and chorus are concerned; but the vocals on the verse portions of the song are not as strong as the chorus portions - which has been true for this entire record so far. They succeed on the choruses and on the bridges; but just getting to that part is going to be too much for some listeners who want to be captured from "that first note." I have the patience to wait, but not all are like me. "De(ad)generation 3:59" is a bit punchier than the last track, but features more of a radio-friendly vibe that feels forced. It's kind of an anthem with some cheers, and it might work for some teenage movie. Fortunately, the best song on the album comes right after this and it's worth buying on ITunes by itself or something.
The track is called "Home On Fire 5:31" and features some memorable melodies as with "Final Resistance." Though you'll still have to get around the verses, I thought the chorus was extremely catchy and the song as a whole does a good job of representing the disc. Go ahead and make a video for this one guys - a good example is a guy standing outside of his burning home. It was an arson, and his family was already burned alive before he even came home from work. The man kind of just kneels down, as tears fall down from his eyes and then of course, we've got the close up of the flaming house. He takes out a picture of his loved ones - the only one he has now, because everything else has gone up in flames. I think that would represent the band and the depression in the track perfectly. Then we have the rain come down, in droves - so this guy's just kind of crying while the rain pounds down on top of him. As the song lightens to the last couple melodies, we start to hear the man cry and scream in agony while he questions, "Why God? Why?" and then it just fades to black. The idea behind the video would reflect that horrible things just happen. It reflects the depressing nature of the music, once again.
"Death Of The Weakender 5:09" brings in more melancholy, but with a much lighter, subdued sense. As musicians, these guys are brilliant. Again, it's just tough for me to get around some of the vocal lines. The middle portion of this song has some impressive vocal portions and the melodies are mesmerizingly bleak. "Don't Stop Killing Me 4:40" comes next, as just a great dark rock song. It's got another catchy chorus and I even like the verses on this one. This is another good choice for a single. "Chasing Ghosts 3:52" will probably get used as a single, but it shouldn't. The echo effect of the vocal gets on my nerves, despite that it's quite punchy and has a strong chorus. I feel that the song is rushed as far as verse and musicianship, and it truly seems as if this is just one that the band put together quickly as a marketing showpiece. But it's not a good showpiece, aside from the catchy hard rock chorus. "Miss Misery 4:24" features a Ville Vallo impression that basically backs a ballad. If you've liked HIM ballads, you will probably like this one. Personally, it's not my favorite. Now as for the album's closer "The Painstreet 5:45" which should work as far as opening with the chorus, but unfortunately only the chorus and bridge sell me. Again, I have to wait for the song to get good.
All in all, End Of Green have some merit. I won't deny that they're talented at making melancholic hard rock music with slight tinges of Paradise Lost style gothic doom metal, but I think that they still need time to figure out who they are and I really feel that the lead vocalist should probably take up some vocal lessons. This is not meant to be hurtful, as I consider it to be constructive criticism. He hits the choruses well, but I'm just not feeling it in most of the verses and that's not good. Other than that, these guys have definite promise and I'd certainly hope that they'll continue on and release another more focused album. However I certainly enjoyed a few of these songs and one even enough that I wrote up a music video concept for it; so that should say something.
If this sounds like something you'd be interested it, then go pick it up. I believe I've broken it down enough for you to understand exactly what kind of music you'll be getting.
Highlights: Standalone, Home On Fire, Don't Stop Killing Me (11 Tracks, 50:00)
Fyrnask - Eldir Nott (PR2013) - Fyrnask is an atmospheric black metal project of epic proportion. Even the intro (4:06) starts out as something majestic, which later sees guitar fueled reverberations and chants opening the disc for it's next outing, simply titled "Vigil 9:10". The tracks seem to flow right into each other, with the waves crashing from the intro and right into a familiar sense of black metal, backed with furious blasts and convincing scowls. Melodies somewhat weave their way into the music, as do slight instances of drone and folk instrumentations in their most airy sense. The whole thing comes off as a ritual, which is what it is. "Jardheldr 12:15" begins with drone, which goes right back into wintry black metal; and even opens up for a few shouts. There's some sort of odd bells being used on this one, it's definitely a very foreign experience and that's why I've liked it thus far. Drone seems to carry it out. "Suonnas Sedir 3:24" is next, bringing a short drum atmosphere to the piece. "Saltrian 8:30" sprinkles a few bells and whistles in terms of vocal layering and synths on the black metal formula and "Samas Stigr 3:49" ends it off with an Arabic themed atmosphere, which I've liked more than any of the other songs on this album. Maybe it's because I tend to gravitate towards early middle-eastern gods and religions, (particularly in Egypt) or perhaps the music and chanting in general is quite hypnotic and responds to certain nerve impulses in my body in a way that I am not yet aware of. "Siaidha 10:05" comes right after this powerful atmosphere and brings the drone elements into what appears to be a more distant sort of black metal insofar as what's been featured on the album prior. It has more of a modern raw black metal sense to it, without the use of scowls and seeks more to the screams of more popular USBM acts. Alternatively, the track features a long Dead Can Dance style portion of atmosphere shortly after the chaos has ended, only to have it resume towards the end. "Su't 4:45" with chanting, more drone and atmospheres that at the finale, feature a crackling fire.
Fyrnask is certainly an entertaining act, and I particularly like how they didn't stay in the lines as far as the belief structure is concerned. The web version of the album cover seems to depict what could be referred to as Celtic or Nordic ideas, but the music also breaks off into middle eastern and Egyptian realms. This is the kind of atmospheres that I would delve into, if I were to make atmospheric music personally. It also means that a bridge is forming in pagan ideas and that people are becoming more open to other ideas, which is necessary for a sense of mental and spiritual evolution. There's absolutely nothing wrong with staying inside the lines, and for a large part of the album the black metal featured was very "commonplace" as in, I've heard the style used before. It's fine, but nothing wholly original. Once again, it was only until I delved deeper into the music that I realized there was a transformation occurring and I was delighted by these notions.
Certainly worth picking up if you're interested in a thrilling black metal influenced journey.
(8 Tracks, 56:00)
Gorguts - Colored Sands (PR2013) - Ah, yes. Colored Sands. So the time has come. This is, as you may very well know; Gorguts' first album in twelve years. And as such, it may bring a much different form and shape to the bands sound than you were expecting. But what you can expect, is that Gorguts is certainly all over the place and as colorfully dark as humanly possible with that endeavor, opening with a good show of technical drumming and riff barrages from the very start - as well as some prog injections and atmosphere. And they called that little number, "Le Tuit De Monde 6:33." And is it too off the collar to say that I'm noticing a little bit of post metal influence? Because it certainly seems as such. "An Ocean Of Wisdom 7:20" comes next and I'm still hearing the same post metal riffs in addition to the death plods and heightened song structures. There is also a great deal of atmosphere being laid out, as well as several bits of ear candy that warrant the moniker Gorguts. The ending of the track seems to close with a sort of ritualistic atmosphere, just as you would find in post metal. I'm beginning to see a pattern here.
"Forgotten Arrows 5:41" doesn't hit the mark for me, however. The djenting riffs and the post metal atmosphere don't seem to match the drumming. I understand that technicality is a trademark of Gorguts, but I just don't feel that these highly technical drum patterns work for this song and it seems like sort of a wash. "Forgotten Arrows" was better left, forgotten. "Colored Sands 7:55" has quite a bit of atmosphere, but then gets quite sludgy to be honest. There's still technicality, but I didn't expect so much grime from these guys. Then again, it has been twelve years. Children have damn near matured in the time since the band's last album, so I guess I can expect this new Gorguts to be quite different. When you compare this to Obscura it sounds like I'm listening to a completely different band - I really don't think anyone was expecting something so much in this post/sludge vein.
"The Battle Of Chamdo 4:42" is the album's instrumental and has already been covered and released by a band called Patrons Of The Rotting Gate as a bonus cover. This is probably my favorite track on the album, as it shows the band's classical chops and I think that the horror atmosphere it creates is absolutely perfect for a film. I highly recommend this track, even to people who do not like metal music at all. The sad part is, that there will be people who have never heard of Gorguts who will be looking for more of their music, expecting to find more classical pieces like this. "Enemies Of Compassion 7:03" comes next, reminding me more the Gorguts I remember. Though there are still a few dives, this at least has the nine million miles of technicality going for it; and that's what most people expect from Gorguts. "Ember's Voice 6:48" features roundabout the same, which is not the best sign at this point. Yes, they've made great soundscapes but they've used a lot of the same riffs while managing to do this. I don't feel that I'm listening to death metal anymore at this point, and the sludge is poured on so thick that it's like if Carcass started playing hard rock music. This just doesn't sound like Gorguts. Then of course, we've got "Absconders 9:08" and the closer "Reduced To Silence 7:38" which both sound roundabout the same.
Gorguts may have championed technical death metal when they made Obscura many moons ago, but this is definitely not technical death metal. It's some kind of heavily technical post/sludge and to be honest, it doesn't even sound like the same band. Though the guitar solos are great, they are short and bogged down with all of the post metal riffing and slow moments of sludge that most tech deathers just don't and won't want to hear. Yes, the drumming is still superb, but I would honestly pick Flo Mournier's work over this in so far as technicality. I can name plenty of albums right off the top of my head that go more places than this one did for me. I like to namedrop the last Sculptured album, Embodiment as one of them. Hell, I guess even Obscura makes better tech-death these days then the guys who made the fucking album that they took their name from. I have read most of the interviews for this album, but I don't recall any of them stating post metal and sludge influences. Which are fine, but a little disappointing even then - because they didn't really go anywhere with these post metal and sludge influences. The only track that stands out is "The Battle Of Chamdo" and that's pretty bad, as it's not even a metal track. Personally, I'd like to hear more of this dark, yet refined classical sense from Gorguts. Being classical composers, I would rather they just put out more great classical music. Besides, don't you think we need more classical music these days? Classical music that isn't as uplifting, more in the vein of Beethoven in his darkest hour?
As it stands, the disc is solid. I'm not going to tell you that they don't still have the same talent as far as musicianship goes, because they do. It's just a very unexpected direction for the music to go and I don't think that the tech death heads are going to like it as much as more current technical death metal acts. It could be a divergence from the tech death style, as the band might be convinced that they can't do another Obscura again; which I don't want to hear either. Colored Sands is a solid album, but that's about all it was for me. I expected much more from these guys. Maybe they'll deliver when a classical project gets announced next year. You know as well as I, that they've probably got hundreds of great classical compositions to fill our ears with.
Highlights: The Battle Of Chamdo (9 Tracks, 62:00)
The Ruins Of Beverast - Blood Vaults: The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer Cryptae Sanguinum (Evangelium Flagrans Henrici Institoris) (PR2013) - While not completely familiar with the Ruins Of Beverast, this new album is quite a monolith in as far as the scope of the disc is concerned. Even the lyrics are almost completely in Latin to go with the theme of the disc. But to be honest, I can't quite tell you what that is. It appears to equate the pleasures of a woman to sin, which seems like an awful shame to me. At any rate, I'm sure this is blasphemy in nature especially due to the album cover art and that the architect behind this (simply known as Gnarl, which makes me think that I should just call myself Chomp) is not of the Judeo-Christian standpoint. But I would hate to ask him if those words spoken in Latin are being correctly pronounced...
At any rate, the film (well, it feels like a film) opens with "I: Apologia 2:22" which is mostly the sound of a demon that Gnarl keeps under the floorboards of his house, so that it can perform on his albums every now and again as well as occasionally escaping to feast on lost souls. But as the music finally begins to come in, after some chanting and backwards speak (which isn't difficult to program, you just speak into the mic and have the program inverse it, giving off that quality.) While I've been told that Ruins Of Beverast was originally more black metal in nature, this new release sounds more like a sort of foreboding doom/death which certainly seems to be delivered well enough.
"II: Daemon 8:57" comes into play (daemon meaning either "guardian spirit" or "demigod") with just this formula in tow, bringing down thunderous riffs amongst holy chanting and more backwards speak. This, I could have done without as it works to cheapen the track. But I guess I feel this way because I've used this effect in my own work and didn't feel it was all that great. I would have rather spoken the words aloud backwards instead of using the program. A couple harsh scowls get in, and the drums definitely become present towards the end. All in all, it's a great introduction piece to the disc. "III: Malefica 10:24" uses some nice echo effects and is a bit more atmosphere-laden than the last track, although some heavier portions pop up as well as organs, which seem to dominate most of the album thus far. "IV: Ornaments On Malice 8:14" actually feels more like traditional death metal at the start, even with the trademark fuzz of older death metal releases. It breaks for more organ-laden atmosphere and certainly succeeds with that. "V: Spires, The Wailing City 13:16" delivers much of the same, despite it's length. By this time, you should know what kind of album this is. It is a record full of ominous, deep and lethargic atmospheres that don't really seem to envelop into blistering death, nor black metal at any point. VI: A Failed Exorcism 15:33" breaks up the monotony with a little tribal piece and some clean vocal injections. Then the band finally decides to kick it up a notch and introduce some actual death metal thunder to the disc. Finally, the drums have something to do! But after that, there's just a bit of synth and a return to some very slow and quite common doom riffing. "VII: Trial 3:43" comes next, and I really like this one as there's some acting. It's essentially a soundscape, but at least I can perceive a story. Amidst the chants and drumming, this trial really sounds like it's taking place. But I don't feel that the growls in the background were needed. I don't feel I could hear everything that was being said (unless it was in Latin, in that case I'm not too worried) over the background growls. It's a strongly impressive atmosphere at any rate. "VIII: Ordeal 3:47" must have been written after Gnarl showed this album to one of his friends and the guy told him that it was putting him to sleep, as it sees the drums kicking amongst female vocal speech. It's meant to be an atmosphere, but you can probably bang your head to the drum assault if you want. "IX: Monument 12:05" ends the disc with more doom-laden atmospheres in the same brooding style.
It's very tough for me to get into brooding material and sometimes it matters on the time of day, and my mood as to whether or not I can just jump into the genre. I have a friend who really likes the stuff though, so I'm sure he'll be buying this one. As for me, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and say that I was pleased with the acting on a few of these tracks and any instances with more punch. If you're looking for something that might sound both pious and impious all at the same time, well then I think you'll love the makeover that Gnarl has given to the Judeo-Christian faith, the gist of this album appearing to deal with witch trials and eventual burnings as is always a familiar topic in metal, especially in doom. While nothing new, chances are that you won't care. A solid disc from a musician who has far too much time on his hands, but nonetheless makes his time on the earth productive with this latest effort.
If you like death/doom at it's most thick and menacing, then I don't think there's any reason you'll pass this disc up. It's also a constant reminder that we set people on fire, drowned and hung them because they didn't believe in the words of a book that has been revised well over a hundred times in the course of it's lifespan. What a great joke, humanity. Next you're going to tell me that you herded up a bunch of people like cattle and then executed them because of their race. Wait...
Highlights: Apologia, A Failed Exorcism, Trial, Ordeal (9 Tracks, 78:00)
Cortez - Phoebus (PR2013) - Cortez is a French Hardcore/noise band, but of course I'm hearing a ton of post metal influence on the disc as well. This new one is called Phoebus and is their sophomore release after Initial. The album seems to be composed of a great deal of chaos, rage and melody but I'm also suggesting that there are soundscapes at work here. "Temps-mort 7:28" is for the most part a soundscape and it's the very intro to the release. But I tend to like the anger that launches "Transhumance 6:31" and the atmosphere that flows thereafter, much better. "Au-dela Des Flots 5:41" is also one to check out, especially if you the experimental hardcore sound of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan before clean vocals were added. The lyrics for the album are all in French, but that doesn't mean that you won't be able to get into the music. Language is no barrier in music, and these guys do a great job of communicating a message of noise and mayhem better than I've heard in a while.
These guys certainly do play with technicality, prog and all sorts of different things in order to create their own unique brand of metal. But can we even call it metal? It certainly sounds more like extremely experimental and progressive hardcore. But you can still bang your head to it. It doesn't offer much more than what it is though, most of the songs carry the same weight, but you probably won't care and neither did I during the listen. I really believe that there are people out there who have been crying out to hear this kind of material after Dillinger sort of lightened up and that's what you're getting here. The material is raw, remorseless and undoubtedly fierce. There are slight atmospheres, but just to give you enough time to recover before another bludgeoning. Those melodies might be melodic and beautiful, but the band definitely wants to fuck some things up on this record. It's got the grime of hardcore with the beauty of the most melodic post metal, which is an odd but intriguing mixture. I really don't see how these guys aren't that popular as they've shared the stage with many familiar acts, including the aforementioned Dillinger Escape Plan.
The digipack version comes with an extended version of "Borrelia 7:45" which is definitely worth checking out, as this is an extended version of a track that appeared on their last album. So the original is not featured here, meaning that if you haven't heard the first album; you at least get to hear a track from that disc as well. Definitely check this out. I know guys in bands right now that would be into this shit, if they knew it existed - and again, that's the reason I run this page... TO PROMOTE MUSIC!
Highlights: Transhumance, Au-dela Des Flots, Arrogants Que Nous Sommes, Un Lendemain Sans Chaine..., Sulfure, Nos Souvenirs Errants, Borrelia (Extended Version) (10 Tracks, 50:00)
Eyes Set To Kill - Masks (PR 2013) - It might surprise some of you, but I’m actually not going to tear this band a new one like I’ve done with some others. And there’s a good reason for that – the reason being that they’re actually not all that bad. Remember that I grew up with acts like Lacuna Coil as the female fronted metal/hard rock scene was just starting to emerge, and I’m definitely getting that influence here. Alexia Rodriguez is definitely the standpoint of the act, with Cisko Miranda sort of falling in behind with a few metalcore grunts here and there. The band themselves play a mix of down-tuned hard rock and metalcore which comes off as a mix between Lacuna Coil, Halestorm and many familiar metalcore acts. Whereas Lacuna Coil mixed a sort of masculine death metal growl with female vocals on their earlier albums; Eyes Set To Kill mixes the same female vocal harmonies with a masculine metalcore approach to harsh vocals. Alexia has really made herself known on this album, with several powerful vocal lines on tracks such as “Where I Want To Be”, “Little Liar” and “Haze” which also contain radio-friendly choruses. “Little Liar” in particular is worthy of many spins at my local rock station, if it’s not being spun there already.
Despite that the music is very catchy pop metal at its core; they have brought in a couple of solo pieces such as on “Killing In Your Name” which is refreshing. If these guys are looking to be the new Lacuna Coil, I think at this point it’s only going to take a couple of lavish music videos complete with a bevy of special effects to really grant them that status. My only complaint with the record is that there aren’t any subtle tracks, and it feels like Alexia has to half sing/half yell these choruses, which does become monotonous after a while. I’d like to hear her do something a little less rough, to truly test her vocal abilities. I remember when these guys first started out, accompanied with a music video for a song that really didn’t seem to hold my interest. Alas, it seems that the years have been kind to their experience as a band and that’s why this new release comes off much stronger. I think that fans of female fronted metal who can appreciate traditional singing will like this one, but they’re still light years away from holding a candle to the big guns like Nightwish, Theatre Of Tragedy and Tristania.
(13 Tracks, 45:00)
Symbolic - Scarvest (PR2013 Review Reprint) - Since I already reviewed this in 2011 and that review seems good enough to reprint and my opinion hasn't changed on the disc - here is my original review for the album:
Well, I’m certainly impressed with this one. It’s technical melodic death metal with an emphasis on the technicality, melody, and death metal. So what’s not to like? My jaw almost dropped at the caliber of these songs, each and every one of them offering me something that I never knew that I needed to hear.
Whether it be the unconventional technical chorus line of “Everlasting 6:21” or the catchiness of “The Greed 8:49” or even the classical metal stylings of “Bittersweet 6:39” the band certainly knows exactly what in the hell this genre should sound like. As much as I love the musicality of Revocation, I wish they had a vocal line-up like these guys - a gravelly growler, and a true screamer that make the music all the more worth checking out. There's not some hardcore guy on this one, no sir!
There’s even a nice instrumental ditty called “MySery 3:23” which starts out with a nice acoustic and goes into a fantastic solo, which is just the sort of thing you can expect from the band; since they really have some killer guitar work, with impeccable solos and melody. This band reminds of the heyday for melodic death metal, but put into the mainstream technical light - and it fucking works 100%.
The title track is also especially good, with the band really showing some emotion both musically and vocally. True, there are some parts where things don’t work quite as well as they should; but for the most part, every track is a winner. You may not have heard of these guys, like myself; but I wished that I’d have listened to this one sooner. What an incredible band. Definitely one to watch out for.
Edit: A track was added to the release called "7H8P7P5H7 7:06" and it is also worth checking out, as it includes some unexpected electronic play after another solid track. It doesn't bring the score down any, that's for sure.
(8 Tracks, 51:00)
Ramming Speed - Doomed To Destroy, Destined To Die (PR2013) - For a bunch of guys who can blow through thirteen songs in thirty five minutes, that's got to say something, right? And yeah, that's what you'll get with Ramming Speed. They play a sort of thrashy punk with good attention to detail, and the vocals come off as fierce shouts amidst strong guitar melodies. Occasionally, there' s a few growls on the disc as well, and some variations on the band's formula - like the inclusion of technicality and doom. "Gorgon's Eye 2:15" sees the band playing with black/death, but only black in vocals; and that's emulation at best. But whether they're playing metal or just catchy punk like "Anthems Of Despair (Summer Jam) 2:46" they're definitely doing their own thing and don't seem to want to color inside the lines. This is a bunch of guys that just go in there knowing what kind of music they want to play and tried to incorporate as much of their influences as possible on the record. I also think that "Hollow Giants 5:07" has a huge amount of potential and separates itself from the speedier punk/thrash of the rest of the album, so be sure to give that one a listen. One can definitely say that these guys do a lot of the same thing for most of the disc, which is to play fast and balls out and in several different styles; but at least the slow, but delivering pace of this track showcases the fact that they can bring things down a notch and come out sounding just as clean as when everything was still at about a thousand beats per minute.
While not usually my cup of tea, these guys are definitely not an act to pass up on. I'd never heard of them before now, and I've got to say that they've really got some merit. But I'm sure this material is much better performed in a live setting, so go buy some fucking tickets!
Highlights: Gorgon's Eye, Anthem Of Despair (Summer Jam), Hollow Giants (13 Tracks, 35:00)
Blood Pollution - Monster Truck Man (PR2013) - The sound of punk appears to be strong in Russia and Blood Pollution is a good sign of that. There's definitely the feel of early Motorhead here too, but for the most part these guys like to write solo heavy tracks that verge on rockabilly and feature titles like "Too Big For You 3:44" and "Jesus Ate My Neighbors 3:06." The vocals might not be your thing, but you can't deny that these guys definitely have some talent and they definitely prove it with this release. It's not an album that really requires further digging, but it's worth checking out if you'd like to a promising hear a mix of punk, southern rockabilly and early heavy metal.
(6 Tracks, 16:00)
Govor - Lucifer Demo (Band Request 2013) - This is a seven track demo from a mostly instrumental and somewhat atmospheric black metal project by the name of Govor. It also seems to be the musical accompaniment to a 30 page PDF essay on the concept of Lucifer, that has been written in the most astute manner and even includes an appendix of references. It very much feels on the collegiate level and I highly recommend reading it even if you don't listen to the music at all.
As for the music, it's as I've described - a mostly instrumental and atmospheric black metal project of respectable recording quality. Govor incorporates classical elements into this melodic black metal dish, which still retains partially raw and has a side of tribal elements. "Mit O Noci 4:51" is the first to bring those tribal elements into fold, you can even hear the crickets chirping in the night and the feel the fire blazing against your skin as chants are being sung around this fire, yet there is still a sense of mesmerism in it all, like Govor has more to offer to the world of music than we are currently aware. "Bitka Na Nebu 4:40" utilizes some simplistic drumming and familiar black metal riffs, but the song lightens down a bit to open up a much different atmosphere before it goes back to searing your skin with blazing riffs once again. There's a bit of a vocal element here, but that might be a sound effect. "Gospodar Tame 6:07" brings back the classical elements of the piece, but eventually runs back into a stripped down sort of black metal that seems to allow for the light chants and rolls seamlessly into a much lighter tone. This isn't the kind of black metal disc for one who expected an all out shitstorm, but it is a disc for one who doesn't mind a convicting atmosphere. Which is what this has. "Cetvrti Element 4:37" brings folk elements into the mix, but covers those light tones with boiling lava as volcanic riffs erupt and cascade through Pompeian soundscapes, or what the music from such a culture might have sounded like before it became encased in ash. "Zrtva Paljenica 6:33" throws Arabian melodies into the mix, amongst other odd; yet interesting, ideas. "Samozapaljenje 5:04" is next, bringing more black metal force and adding more chants to that force. "Prosvijetljenje 5:22" sounds like one triumphant last hurrah for the concept of Lucifer, and contains a light break just before the final promenade. After all, this seems to be the last that the topic will be covered and you can read more about these interesting concepts in the essay.
Lucifer turns black metal into an art gallery piece of sorts, which might turn some people off. Even though it does have a fair share of black metal riffs, this is definitely not the kind of album that you'd expect. Which is why I like it. It's not your run of the mill black metal disc and something quite interesting and unique appears to be developing here. Despite that the song titles are all in Croatian, the essay is entirely available in English and is once again - quite astute. You could, if you wanted to; listen to the album while reading the essay. They seem to go well together and are both quite entertaining. Definitely something worth checking out.
(7 Tracks, 37:00)
Deadfall - The Sentinel EP (FREE ALBUM Band Request 2013) - The first EP for this djent project seems to offer a decent musical performance, but to be honest I've never been that much a fan of this djent style. However, these guys are one of the scant few acts who DON'T completely resort to harsh vocals during djent riffs, making "Sentinel 4:04" a real gem. The frontman has a vocal approach that's as soft and smooth as glass, he also comes off as clean as Chino Moreno and reminds me quite a bit of him. "Shades Of Inception 5:04" sees things a little heavier, but with still light melodic leads and those same polished vocals. It may be a quality issue, but the music sounds like it's in the background and needs to be recorded just a bit louder. The vocals are a good level, but I just can't hear the actual riffs and drums that well in the mix. The song also contains a clean/harsh duet that sounds roundabout like a thousand other djent bands. But at least they are trying to do something different. "The Divergence 4:39" actually brings the light side back for a while, before a bludgeoning comes in. Again, the djent riffs are here; but there's nothing truly interesting about them. Eddie just seems to be testing his metal at making a djent album and that's fine - but I'd really like to hear other influences come into this music, to really separate it from djent album x, y and z.
The band are recording a full length and I think it will be available a little later this year. I really hope they raise the volume on the mix, because I just can't really hear the riffs all that well; and I'd hope that they add some variation on the disc. But then again, djent really isn't my thing.
If you're interested, you can pick up a copy of this (and other work) here:
Highlights: The Sentinel (3 Tracks, 13:00)
Incarceration - Sacrifice (Band Request 2013) - These guys revel in classic death metal and they certain deliver a ravenous approach to the genre. This is their debut vinyl, (digital rip, I don't have a record player) but it is also available as a tape. I'm not even sure where you can get tapes anymore in this country, even blank ones. At any rate, the disc starts with pummeling death metal with an emphasis on drum battering; and ends with pummeling death metal with an emphasis on drum battering. "Forsaken and Forgotten 2:15" is the track that begins the onslaught and it comes packed with familiar riffing, ghastly vocals, and a drummer that knows what he's doing. These guys play death metal like they may have had prior experience playing it before. "Sacrifice 4:11" features a groove injection that slows the thrash down a bit, yet Daniel Duracell still manages to display some killer vocals on the track. It's also the only track the contains a solo. The EP ends with "Cemetery Of Lies 3:18" which ends the disc on the same note that it started. These guys are inspired by Nihilist, Sadistic Intent, Repulsion, Repugnant, early Sepultura and early Slayer. But I'm hearing a hell of a lot of The Crown.
The 7" EP is well worth checking out if you like raw and thrash-laden death metal. By the way, here's a freebie that they did with Escarnium:
DECREPIT ABERRATION – Split INCARCERATION/ESCARNIUM (Digital release 2012)
Free Download: http://www.mediafire.com/?c36t09vcv1sn0h0
(3 Tracks, 9:00)
Voyag3r - Victory In The Battle Chamber (Band Request 2013) - Voyag3r sent me this short 7" comprised of just two tracks, but there is definite promise within. The beginning of the disc starts with "Victory In The Battle Chamber 4:06" and it sounds like something I've heard from an obscure 80's sci-fi film and I love every minute of it. The synths are so delightfully old school and the guitars have that 80's tone that just sounds like they were illustrating the soundtrack for some awesome interplanetary battle - there's enemy ships everywhere, and then there's this one ship that's completely badass. That one ship is able to disintegrate each and every other ship with no problem at all, minus a few dives and rolls to avoid being shot.
Now for the next track, "Hunted Becomes Hunter 4:10" which sounds like it belongs in a shmup. Like literally in the game. Remember that Machinae Supremacy used their music for Jets N Guns, so these guys could contribute something to either the shmup or FPS or platforming genres. Plenty of Kickstarter folks that would pay you, I'm sure. This track has more metal influence, but still retains great synths and the same clean performance as the last one. This project doesn't miss a beat. I'd like to hear more.
(2 Tracks, 8:00)
Metadox - Birth Of The Dragon (Promotional Free Track Review 2013) - This is a free track, so I'm going to give the link where you can download it; (and hopefully their demo, because after hearing this - I want to hear the demo) even though it might spoil Game Of Thrones for you, as it did me. But I kind of figured it would be Denaeryus that sits on the fucking throne. I mean come on, she's got the fucking dragons, the only bit of magic in the land besides the things behind the wall. But she probably won't sit on the throne forever, as Martin seems to love playing Shakespearian tragedy with his characters (which I personally say is an awful move for a writer - if you keep killing off your main characters, people will just stop reading the books. You let people down too many times and they'll just go on to something else.) and I guess he's just using this fantasy world to reflect real world matters. As in, there's no real "happy ending." Oh well. Could always read The Wheel Of Time. I dunno. My books (The Will's Downfall Saga) aren't too clean either, but I always feel bad when I've killed a main character. It's like killing your own child. But I guess you get over that in time.
At any rate, what I'm hearing is definitely something I'd like to go on much further. It's power thrash and it's got a lot of promise. These vocal lines are powerful and the chorus is catchy as hell. The front man kills it with these lines and the guitar melodies are also quite strong, as are the drums present. Yes, there's also a nice guitar solo. They didn't fuck up a song about Game Of Thrones/ASOI&F, so I'm glad for that. I'd like to hear the song with greater production value, so I hope that they re-record it at some point - but it's definitely memorable and it's not the first time I've played it.
Now it's stuck in my head again. Go grab the track for free, right here:
(1 Track 5:57)