If anyone knows of any underground/independent ISP's that offer coverage in the US area and don't provide monthly eye-gouging (high fees), please let me know. I'm looking for something off the map that might be able to provide me service that even the locals won't. Until then, I can't promise that I'll be able to update this blog as frequently as normal. However, I will be able to continue working with New Noise, as that's a little simpler in terms of sending out at the moment as I can handle that quickly from one of the work computers.
Will post the other eight albums later in the week.
Scythe - Subterranean Steel (PR2013) (SPOTLIGHT) - This three-piece death/black n' roll band certainly has a lot to offer and caught my attention from the first listen. Usually we get black n' roll acts, but the fact that these guys mix them both along with some bits of thrash, make the project a hell of a lot more interesting. "Leather Aggressor 4:37" comes out with fury, vengeance and definitely a bit of leather; but it morphs quickly into a thrashier number where it slows down just a bit before it launches back into beast mode. "Monarch 5:10" has some killer riff melodies for the first part, but then really doubles down on the thunder towards the second portion. Give that thunder a chance to air out and we get a very black metal influenced thrash. "Subterranean Steel 5:52" seems to feature more black metal than the rest, but there are still some bits of gravel in the vocal and of course your black n' roll riffs. Chanting is also featured on the track. For a band like this, you'd have to imagine that they would have great solo pieces and this album bodes no exception. The solos on the disc are truly memorable and well worth noting and just about every track features a strong one. These guys have really captured the spirit of metal on this disc. I hope it doesn't get buried under the weight of other releases!
"October Dies 3:39" just comes in thrashing. There's no doubt about these riffs - these are headbanging riffs. I'm certainly hearing Satyricon influence here, but that's fine. I'm hearing a lot of influences here but these guys are doing their own thing with them and I hope to fuck that they get recognized. "The Grunting Dead 5:27" comes in as a pummeler, but it lets up for awhile before it goes back into smashing your face in. Who are these guys and where did they come from? "The Bray Beast 4:14" features plenty of thrash and black n' roll, while "Beyond The Northwoods 5:06" brings the speed and fury for a bit, while allowing the song structures to mutate as they have done throughout the disc. But mutating song structures are preferred, as they are able to hold one's attention a bit longer than a song that carries the same tone throughout. That leads to monotony and these guys don't seem to be anywhere near that category. This is almost legendary in effort. Again, I really hope that this doesn't get buried under the weight of other albums.
"Nights Of Terror 3:12" really brings the black, thrash n' roll on. Those riffs are ages old, but they work when translated into the extremes of black and death metal. Of course, you can really expect the guitar solos and leads to be on fire for this major tribute and I really hope it doesn't go unheard. The disc ends with "Thunder Hammer 5:11" which brings in a little bit of doom and thunderous vocal style that you haven't really heard until now. It really matches the might of Manowar, just brought to this new extreme. The track envelops into a drum massacre which closes the album with an explosion. And that's how you do it.
If you're going to call yourself Scythe, then damn it - you'd better be able to cut. These guys definitely can. They're worthy of the name Scythe and their music represents everything that I would associate the reaper's companion tool with. Scythe have captured the spirit of classic heavy metal and have fused it with the nature of today's most brutal elements, complete with a production that sounds warm and raw, with plenty of fuzz and chunky bits of malice.
Scythe have made what metal is, and nothing more needs to be said. I strongly recommend this one.
(9 Tracks, 42:00)
Craven Idol - Towards Eschaton (PR2013) - Many times when I'm doing these reviews, I do them completely blind because I love the surprise. You see the album cover for these guys and you might be under the impression that it could be a type of blackened doom metal, which I thought would be intriguing. When "To Summon Mayrion 6:29" starts, you do hear these doomy riffs at the very beginning, complete with some chanting a light scowl. Then that moves into chug, the same kind of chug that makes me think of The Crown's "The Black Heart" a track which I've played dozens of times, just because of how fucking great the chug is. Then you say to yourself "Please, please put fucking vocals on this chug." So you wait, and you wait, and then finally... the band completely throws the chug out the window, like a beautiful woman who's been pulled out of your home by some giant monstrous hand; and they replace it with a blackened thrash sort of sound that you were in no way expected and find that you're now upset by what was sounding infinitely awesome at the beginning. I mean, these guys even add extra melodies into that chug before they scrap it. What the hell? You mean to tell me that you've got this wonderful skeleton, and then you smash it all to hell? I wasn't expecting a Castlevania moment here.
Granted, these guys do have a handle on their black thrash. It's definitely better than what Impiety put out this year, and actually sounds like a darker edged thrash with a ferocious rasp and a drummer who mixes the thrash beats and the blasts together just perfectly. Yeah, you'll find some death metal in there somewhere too. But the thing is, I want to hear more than what these guys are offering. It's like going into the kitchen of a master chef and he hands you a ham sandwich. Really? You can cook all this fine cuisine, but you're just going to give me a sandwich? But I can't really throw these guys out the window with the chug they threw out, because they manage to deliver on so many other levels. If you just examine "To Summon Maryion" alone, you'll notice several different song structures and that does show that the band has certain talent. "Sworn Upon The Styx 2:27" continues the thrash, but backs up add enough black metal and odd chanting to make this feel like some sort of black/thrash ritual. "Golgotha Wounds 4:16" just comes in pounding, erupting with plenty of power that will appeal to fans of black metal who might be wondering what the fuck Watain and Satyricon did this year (even though I admit that I did like the former, but won't consider it completely in the realm of black metal.) As one might expect for thrash influence, there are most certainly a few well-driven solos on the album that will certainly add to the whole metal mood. Craven Idol is certainly the very definition of metal meets extreme in that sense, you've got all your basic elements with the added heaping of black metal; so I really don't think that too many metalheads are going to be upset with this one. I'd be glad to have a copy myself despite my slight disappointment with the opener. "Craven Atonement 3:59" manages to keep the ball rolling and stays in the safe, but still heinous direction; while "Codex Of Seven Dooms 6:11" welcomes a slight return to slow, almost victory march style theatrics that quickly seem to erupt with finely crafted melodic black metal moments. It's a definite highlight for the album and probably the best song here. As it's the longest track on the album, it's length is definitely justified with a truly memorable performance.
"Aura Of Undeath 3:04" features some really unique riff melodies, but is definitely a thrasher in the largest sense of the word. Oh yeah, I heard some Venom riffs in there. Was that intentional? "Left To Die 4:49" brings in the Arabian melodies, and a much chunkier version of the thrash which is almost reminiscent of the band's earlier chug. The victory march style comes back eventually, but it wraps up the track in thrash and black metal. "Orgies 2:32" ends the disc in much the same way it began, with a whole lot thrash and a little bit of black metal.
When all is said and done, it's going to be hard to find anything on this disc that doesn't deliver. The production is just how it should be, the playing is fierce and full of fire and the overall musicianship is composed of everything that a great metal album should. It's something that you can definitely play more than once, and is the sound of a band that I'll definitely keep my eye on. You really can't go wrong with this one, regardless of the fact that they threw the chug out the window. Sure, it felt like a hand reached in and grabbed the beautiful woman that was chug, but it replaced her with another woman who was still just as interesting to behold. She said "My name is black thrash with memorable song structure" and that was really all I needed to know at that point.
Go buy this disc if it sounds like something you'd be into. Definitely one of my highlight albums this week.
Highlights: All (Yeah, even the first one. The loss of chug surprisingly didn't kill it.) (8 Tracks, 33:00)
Temple Nightside - Condemnation (PR2013) - Temple Nightside is labeled as black/death metal. But that's only a quarter of their true classification. What these guys specialize in, is dark ritual atmospheres that reek of death and unholy entities. "Shrine Of Summon 5:19" might open up with an atmospheric death metal style basher, but once you've heard the triumphant ritual of "Exhumation; Miseries Upon Imprecation 6:14" you'll soon realize that these guys do more than inject a lot of fuzz into black/death. "Abhorrent They Fall... 4:19" comes in a bit slower, but the doom is welcomed among the fuzz which continues to deliver an even greater atmosphere. Then when you get into "Pillar Of Ancient Death 3:45" (which should have been switched around with the name for "Exhumation" as "Exhumation" really didn't sound like it fit for that one, where as "Pillar" certainly does given the ancient vibes of such a piece) the metal dies down completely and gives you a complete atmosphere. But the atmosphere serves, rather greatly - I might add; and loads us up for the inhuman soundscape of "Dagger Of Necromantic Decay 4:43" which eventually does double up on the heaviness towards the end. "Ascension of Decaying Forms 6:44" continues with even greater atmosphere (it's really the kind of record that you have to fully soak in, you can't just listen to one track on this piece) bringing back the sounds of exaltation and even some mystic chants. Whatever unholy god-like thing is being worshiped on this album should be quite pleased with it. I know that I am. "Command Of The Bones 2:25" continues the solid atmosphere without metal instrumentation, but it also necessary; (again, I recommend you listen to this as a whole to get it's full effect) finishing the album off with "Miasma 8:59" which offers plenty of fuzz black death and later follows up into full-on ancient ritual.
Hands down, Temple Nightside have crafted one of the best atmospheric metal works I've heard in quite a while. Yes, this is my pick for best atmosphere of the year thus far and I strongly doubt that anyone is going to top this one in 2013. I've heard a few great atmospheric metal discs this year, but this one really takes the throne. It's something that sucks you in and is wholly recommended for fans of Portal and Grave Miasma. But, I think it's better than both of those actually. I highly recommend it. It's the next best thing to observing a dark ritual. (But those probably won't utilize guitars and drums the way that this album does either. So maybe it's better than observing a real dark ritual.)
(8 Tracks, 42:00)
Funeral Circle - Funeral Circle (PR2013) - I'm not quite sure if this is a reissue from a long lost band or not, but judging by the PR photo of the band, it surely seems to be. Like many Shadow Kingdom reissues, this album is one of those rare gems that got buried under the sands of time and has been recently excavated and remastered for your listening pleasure. And what a listening pleasure it is... these guys are doom metal in the same fashion that you remember with thundering riffs, memorable solos and powerful vocal lines. What else should you expect from doom? I sat down to listen to this in one sitting as I do with most discs and was quite pleased with the offering.
What really got my attention though, was the band's use of Arabian melodies on the disc. They utilize a lot of these little melodies as well as incorporate them into their solos, something I haven't heard from any band yet. The frontman also sings in that middle-eastern style from time to time, giving you a vocal element that most have never before heard in doom metal to begin with. Now this is what I mean when I say "a gem" or "a classic." Many albums get this title, but few lack the majesty that this piece does. Whoever in the hell Funeral Circle was, I'm still scratching my head as to why this act never went anywhere. They had all of the proper building blocks of the genre, yet were also able to make them their own. This self-titled album was truly their own. Nothing I've ever heard is quite like it, and in ways it even rivals Sabbath or Candlemass - Yes, I'm serious.
Say what you like, I've never heard doom done this way; and as proficient as what has been performed here. Funeral Circle are not just another doom metal band,. they're a doom metal band with something quite intriguing to offer. It really sucks that these guys never went anywhere, because doom fans really need to hear this one. I was floored from beginning to end.
Definitely get your hands on Funeral Circle's self titled disc as soon as you can. You won't regret it. Mounds of intrigue and exquisite leads/solos await thee!
EDIT: These guys are actually a brand new band hailing from Canada, even though they sure don't sound like it. Definitely support this new act if you like their music!
(7 Tracks, 52:00)
Master - The Witchhunt (PR2013) - American death metal vets Master are back, and with their twelfth full length album The Witchhunt. This album continues their thirty year legacy in the metal scene and sees the band in a certain manner of vigor which permeates through the well-balanced musicianship of the disc. The quality of the record is not overdone and feels classic, with the drums full of fire and the guitars definitely providing the same kind of grim soundscape that we should expect from death metal. The frontman has a very interesting guttural growl, it sounds like some sort of half man, half walrus thing is on the mic in terms of concrete and stomach, but I'm also hearing a little bit of vocal rasp on that end, which provides a much different approach then what most of us are used to hearing as far as death metal music is concerned.
Each and every guitar solo on the disc comes flying out of the woodwork, and is crisp, clear and ready to deliver with as much vim and vigor as what is offered on each of these tracks. Unlike the other album I reviewed, Master is not doing experimental things; but I don't think that's the route that they wanted to attempt for this album. And why would it be necessary? With songs like "The Witchhunt 4:22" and "Another Suicide 4:40" there is already enough pure death metal being delivered here without a need for extra bells and whistles. You also can't tell me that the anti-government sentiments and break-neck chug on "Waiting To Die 5:49" doesn't get your blood boiling. At least I can definitely agree with the lyrical content here, especially since part of me wants to shout "the sky is falling" in lieu of our new healthcare laws (of which the president and congress are exempt, no doubt.)
You've got speed on "The Parable 3:42" as well as on "Remove The Clowns 5:51" which offers an utter onslaught of percussive fury, culminating in "The American Dream 3:37" which closes the album with a short but furious burst of chaotic death metal. While there's nothing here that's truly original, it's still a very good chunk of death metal that's done right. If you haven't heard of Master before, this album is great album to album to get you acquainted with their brand of American death metal that isn't as known as much as US stalwarts in Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Morbid Angel and Nile for example. The vocals might not be for everyone however; as they aren't quite your standard style for the genre. But it's better than Obituary IMHO.
Definitely give this one a shot, I don't think you'll regret it if you're looking for a good slab of classic death. These guys are legends for a reason.
Highlights: The Witchhunt, Another Suicide, The Parable, Remove The Clowns, Wipe Out The Aggressor, Manipulated To Exterminate, The American Dream (11 Tracks, 53:00)
Merciless Terror - Vile Extinction (PR2013) - This is the new album from UK death/thrashers Merciless Terror and it is certainly a strong enough release. They consider themselves influenced from Slayer, Malevolent Creation, early Sepultura and Bolt Thrower. You can certainly hear these influences in the band's break-neck riffs, their insane approach to drumming and their mix of scathing and um... deathcore vocals. And that's where I got a little turned off. One of the vocalists in the band uses a very Hatebreed style vocal approach for the band, which I didn't really expect for the music but they certainly manage to serve that up on such a thick plate of ferocity that I found myself not even so concerned about it. Yeah, you might call it "Hatebreed gone death metal" but I don't think that covers it all the way.
The frontman who does utilize this growl approach doesn't quite shout in the same vein as what you might expect from Jasta, but it is readily apparent. He also does have a good hold on some of the thicker parts of these tracks, so it's definitely not as deathcore as you might think. Yes, each track does offer the same little taste of hell that you might expect and I think this album really showcases itself as a better example of the energy that these guys would bring onstage; but the material is certainly solid. The thrash injections are here, the songs don't overfill with too much monotony and the drums are all over the fucking place. If there's anything you'll feel on this disc, it's the drums. The man behind the kit is an absolute beast, there's no doubt about it. The disc also contains a slew of well-placed guitar solos, so that's always a good thing. Without a doubt, Merciless Terror make some of the heaviest music I've ever heard from a band who utilized deathcore vocals. (And to be honest, they're not used all the time either.)
The production is a mix between raw and clean, but the overall performance sees a band that is more worried about beating the shit out of you then anything else. This is skullfuckingly heavy in that aspect. It's definitely got the best of death, thrash and modern influences to make something that might serve as a gateway from core into more extreme areas of the metal genre. I'm going to recommend it, because I think this is the kind of disc that needs to passed out to those scene kids who think Blood On The Dance Floor is a heavy metal band. If someone can save the youth, it's got to be these four rowdy Englishmen!
(11 Tracks, 35:00)
Taketh - Ignorance Is Strength (PR2013) - Funny that I caught myself reading George Orwell's 1984 just a couple of days ago, so I now understand the meaning behind Taketh's album title, Ignorance Is Strength. Remember that "War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength" were the rules that everyone in that society seemed to live by. The main character, (I could relate to him) kept talking about how attractive the woman was, how much he wanted to bed her; but she had one of those awful sashes - she also could have been one of the thought police. I'm sorry, I really can see that kind of world coming soon. So maybe I put myself in that place of that future man, perhaps the future me who's now a slave to the system he never agreed with.
At any rate, Taketh are Swedish melodic death metal band with some lyrics that I can certainly agree with, but the album itself is not 1984 based. Which I'm glad of that, because the diverse number of societal observances here help to bring this chilling reality out the forefront. Chilling, hell! Some of you would embrace before you even realized it. I do believe that we would see 1984 conditions here in the US before we would in any other country. But there's a certain domino effect that would eventually take place after it happened here.
"Moving On 3:55" begins the disc with noted electronics which envelop into raspy vocal backed melodic death metal that's reminiscent of early In Flames. There are some light vocal choruses on this one, as well the inclusion of more electronics. So far, so good. "We Are Slaves 2:52" is a short, but catchy number which rings true on a lot of parts. There's a few bits of crunch here and some vocal gravel (in addition to the rasp) and it seems like it suits. No solo to behold, but the chorus is strong enough to suffice. A definite highlight. "Your Master 3:35" is a bit longer and features more of the crunch first noted in the last song, but I also like this short little "prog" melody that they use. The chorus is mesmerizing, he really hits the nail on the head this time. "In Memory 4:29 is dedicated to the memory of Mikael. I'm not sure who this is, but if they were good enough to write a song about, then I'm sure that they were well worth remembering. As for the song, it has some black metal injections in a few areas and well placed structural bits. These guys definitely know how to play their instruments and do it well. There's even a march style drum pattern and some folk instruments utilized here. It's definitely another album highlight.
"Burning 3:23" only envelops when the blasts start coming in, bringing in bits of black metal to what is normally melodeath and that's great. There's also the workings of a solo. The folk melodies come back as well, which is certainly more than other melodic death metal bands are doing. "Flaws 3:29" comes in with more of the same catchy vibe, it's certainly memorable and weaves a little solo piece into the mix. I really like this band, as it reminds me of my own work. You can't tell me that my vocal work on Soul Cycle's "Prime" doesn't sound a bit like this. (I was going for the same sort of melodic death metal vibe.) "Innocent Again 3:17" starts out a bit lighter, but definitely follows the same formula. It's a solid track. "Inside Of Me 2:55" changes things up a bit, but doesn't really manage to stick out for me. Now, we have "1984 3:34" which is lyrically about the book I spoke about earlier. The song repeats in gravel the three constructs of that society as a pre-chorus and post-chorus, but the clean vocals on this one didn't hit for me. It's still a good track, with the album's only real guitar solo portion. As for that solo, it's done quite well. But if you're gonna just have one, you might as well do it right. The disc ends with "Mind Numbing Crap 3:04" a track that lyrically I can relate to. It also manages to register as a solid enough track for me.
Taketh began with a lot of highlights, but then the album seemed to wander off into mediocrity for a bit. They do utilize some interesting ideas in places, and the song structure is definitely there - but the clean vocals need to come off a bit better ("Your Master" is a good example of them used to at their zenith) and I'd like it if the band utilized a few more solos and some other interesting ideas. This is definitely a good base, but I'd like to see this fleshed out a little more in some areas. But on other tracks, I wouldn't really change a thing. As far as the album is concerned, they're teetering on an 8.5, which is really just one point from where I would give an album a 9. The discrepancy lies in "Inside Of Me" which really didn't catch my attention as well as some of the others. Most of the tracks on the album have received a 4/5 star rating, with just four of them being major highlights. Still, that's a good score and sets the album well above being solid.
Definitely check out Taketh if you're interested in some classic, yet inventive melodic death metal. I agree with the subject matter and the music does a good job putting it forth. They're skilled musicians who are well worth a listen.
Highlights: We Are Slaves, Your Master, In Memory, Flaws (10 Tracks, 34:00)
Ulcerate - Vermis (PR2013) - Vermis is Latin for worm and this marks the band's debut for Relapse records. We reviewed the band's last one, and boy does it sound much different from the material offered here. Atmospheres are a big part of this release, as are what appears to be post metal tendencies (there's plenty of post on this one - it almost sounds fucking mechanical.) Since the first time I heard this one was from a Haulix stream that I was wearing my headphones around my neck and listening to while on the work computer, it's obvious that my first experience with Vermis wasn't actually a clear one.
"Odium 2:44" starts the album off well, with the right kind of insidious ambiance - you can smell the dust on the machinery. What machinery, you ask? Well, I'm seeing the band playing this album in a large steel room. It's covered in dust and the dust just seems to lift up off the floor and create a mist during the bashy as fuck opener, "Vermis 5:58" which slows down for a minute to allow for more atmosphere and jumps right into the diamond-tip technicality of "Clutching Revulsion 7:04." The melodies on the album sound so dreadfully unfriendly that it might have the ability to ruin even your most wonderful day. I think of this album as a punch to the stomach from a grizzled man of realism; a man who says, "Wake the fuck up. The world doesn't work that way, kid."
The next track, "Weight Of Emptiness 7:42" brings even more atmosphere into the mix, making this a post metal album of the deathiest construct. It's definitely post metal, there's no doubting those riffs - but perhaps it's got enough bite for fans of brutal death metal. Of course, I can just sum the whole record up in one sentence and say, "The new Ulcerate is nothing more than a mix of post metal and brutal death metal" but that would be too easy. But, that's what it is. "Confronting Entropy 6:30" furthers my claims, with blasting drums and delayed riffs, it certainly sounds as mechanical as they intended. "Fall To Opprobrium 2:23" is a bleak instrumental that leads right into "The Imperious Weak 7:23" which mixes technicality and brutality into the same large post metal bowl and seems to do a nice job with it. As far as technicality goes, the drums are more technical than anything else. This guy has learned from Flo (Mounier) but he doesn't outright utilize it unless he feels he needs to. But give the guy the right time and he'll show you what he can do on that kit. The drummer's performance really does cause explosions on the album, it's his hits that make this disc so goddamned heavy at times. As much as I can say for the riffs, they're doing a bit much of the same - but if you take this an atmosphere (no, that's not a cop out) these riffs make more sense. This album has the same vibe going for it that Cult Of Luna's Vertikal had, except that it's got death metal injected into that same type of steely atmosphere. "Cessation 7:01" and closer "Await Rescission 7:31" seem to be composed of the same thought-matter, so at this point there's really no use in continuing a track by track. You know how it sounds.
Ulcerate successfully mixed metallic atmospheres in with death metal of the most chaotic and technical variety, complete with memorable drum performances and robotic riff melodies. It's certainly someone's cup of tea, but not quite mine. However, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and consider it a solid album.
If you're looking for a true mixture of post and brutal death metal with bits of technicality that sounds like it was recorded in a dystopian future world, well it's gets no more true to form than Vermis.
(9 Tracks, 54:00)
The Browning - Hypernova (PR2013) - Once upon a time, there was a relatively strong deathcore act by the name of Born Of Osiris. They helped to bring deathcore into a more refined sense, utilizing elements of several other genres and of course, electronics. If you've gotten a chance to hear their newest release, (which I will review soon) you can tell that it certainly sees the band during their very best days. But there was a large hipster congregation afoot and they also liked deathcore in the vein of Born Of Osiris, especially the electronic elements that the band used in their experimentation. The only real problem was, that this new band did little else but utilize electronics. It's like a DJ got together with a deathcore group as a weekend thing and this is what became of it.... The Browning.
Toilet humor aside, I believe that the band's moniker comes from a science fiction film, where I've heard of this statement "the browning." I'm not quite sure the name of the film, but I believe I've seen it before. At any rate, what you must know about this band is this, and only this - they make electronic deathcore. When I say this, you can only imagine what I mean by that: deathcore riffs, breakdowns, gang vocals and dance-club beats. Is that all you get with this release? Well, yes. But I will admit that I like the electronic element of the band more than I like the metal element, and if The Browning were just an electronic project of the DJ it might be decent. But I remember how Fatboy Slim tore it up on the televised rave (AXS) and think that the DJ might have a bit further to go. Plus, the Eskimo Callboy remix of "Gravedigger 3:12" contains dubstep and upon hearing it creep through the walls (I didn't even notice it, like some kind of silent killer) I wasn't able to brace myself in time, so my ears began to bleed and I felt my IQ beginning to drop a few points; which means I'll have to bury my head in literature for a few days in order to regain those points.
If I can point out two decent tracks here, they would be "Type 1a 4:28" and "Slaves 4:09" which both offer intriguing (dubstep free) electronic pieces in addition to standard deathcore. Yes, when I say standard; I do very well mean basic - as in the bare bones of the genre. Heaven Shall Burn would listen to it and laugh. But they're not deathcore either. Heck, even Deadlock did a much better job than this, even with the pop elements. There's definitely a few guys at the club who will think this mix of deathcore and dance is the best thing out there, as they chug their Monsters and various shots of alcohol after a rough day at the gym in preparation to for rampant sexual escapades that will result in children who will grow to inhibit the same behaviors. But those guys are um... well, I'll relinquish the thought and leave that to you.
If you've got to have it, it's here for you. But I'd rather listen to Born Of Osiris's Tomorrow We Die Alive, had I a choice between the two. Both are deathcore albums, but one is clearly more superb. Certainly not my thing, but a sign of the times.
(14 Tracks, 46:00)
Anacondas - Sub Contra Blues (PR2013) - Anacondas are a post-core band that offer a bevy of sweeping melodies, especially on the album's opener, "Moon On Fire 3:23." The vocals aren't particularly my favorite, but these guys definitely are trying to emulate their post idols with this release. As far as riff melodies and bass fuzz goes, they've certainly got it. "Down By The River 5:35" comes equipped with even more of these sweeping melodies and a light vocal approach that sounds like it's going for Chino Moreno. There's definitely enough djent on here to start a robot army, but I will give these guys the satisfaction of knowing that they've succeeded with the melodies on the release. It's an awfully beautiful piece in that aspect; with the guitars being played with a clear attention to detail and offering quite a bit of promise.
But then the band reaches into their inner Dillinger and I've heard that all before, so "Cold Blooded, Warm Hearted 3:31" There's barely a beauty in sight on this table-turner of a track. "Simianimal 5:49" continues that Dillinger style, but brings a couple doom riffs with it. Melodies appear towards the end of the track, but for the most part, it's quite rampant. "Sub Contra Blues 2:51" is our next track, bringing back the band's melodic sense, but it just doesn't feel as strong this time around. Towards the end of the track, it gets a bit more fierce. "High Horse 4:30" plays with some Zakk Wylde guitar theatrics, but I can't say that it's my favorite. "The Witches 4:50" is next, and it's certainly more promising than the last one, there just seems to be more on the track in terms of style and form. Plus, there's a female vocalization backing the lighthearted melodies that really makes this track come alive. The disc ends with "This Night Will Last Forever 9:04" which really seems to be a nice piece. I mean, there's still a few heavy parts; but it's for the most part a very peaceful track, something that still has a kick but features a bit of wonderment. I'll consider it a highlight.
Anacondas are certainly promising post-core and I think that upon first listen that will be apparent. I've made comparisons, but you'll guess the influences in an instant. They're a band who isn't afraid to get their hands dirty, but definitely dip them into a clean stream every once in a while too. The product is fierce, yet mesmerizing. It's definitely an intriguing listen.
I'd definitely recommend checking out Anacondas. If you like your post-core with melody, then you'll get it here. Reminds me a bit of Exotic Animal Petting Zoo and Dillinger Escape Plan. If that sounds like your thing, then go check them out.
Highlights: Moon On Fire, This Night Will Last Forever (8 Tracks, 39:00)
(Album Art Unavailable)
The Killer Inside Me - Рождения Сверхновой 2013 (PR2013) - The Killer Inside Me is a progressive/djent band and for some reason all the tracks came back in Japanese, (probably due to my language settings on this thing, gotta play my J-Games you know!) even though I know they're in Russian.
The intro (2:12) is a light way to introduce the piece, with a few harsh vocals placed in as a welcoming. The melodies are rather light here and the band hasn't fully warmed up yet. But with the next track, (track 2 3:56) thick djent melds in between lighter melodies that feature clean vocals. A bit of fire comes into place towards the end and even some proper vocal gravel as well as clean tones that you wouldn't expect from other djent acts. It's definitely unique in that aspect. When (track 3 4:19) comes into place, there are already some interesting melodic leads and a much different type of singing vocal than we're used to in the states. I do like the fact that these guys are made of djent and do know how to utilize other styles, making this an interesting metal act that could grow into something very intriguing with time. The next song (track 4 4:04, which features a member of the act Kids Party Up) definitely brings back the djent, but also the harsh vocal backing in the form of gravel. There are also some much lighter (slight electronic) portions used on the track as well as the use of vocal harmonizing and the light touch of a solo. But they should have let the solo go for a bit longer. The last track "track 5 4:38" decides to pound in the vein of most djent/hardcore so there's nothing much there to point out - but The Killer Inside Me do certainly manage to show me potential with the other tracks on the disc and I'm not expecting amazement with every single one of them.
The Killer Inside Me are Russia's answer to djent and metalcore and they certainly manage to craft something much different then we have here. I do believe this Russian scene is something to still be explored, I'd like to hear more from it as I feel that I'm hearing a new sort of musical evolution from the country and hopefully it will bring some really phenomenal acts in years to come. I mean, I've already told you how much I loved Little Dead Bertha right? So there are plenty of good things to come from the country. Without a doubt, I can say that The Killer Inside Me is one of the more interesting bands I've heard from Russia in quite a while.
Highlights: Track 3, Track 4 (5 Tracks, 19:00)
Big Guns - Down But Not Out (PR2013) - Big Guns is an Irish rock band that's decent enough and able to deliver a good slab of classic rock in the vein of ACDC, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest (as referenced in the PR info.) In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with these Irish rock bands and they seem to be doing a pretty damned good job of giving a shot of life support to the damn near dead genre of classic rock and roll. The four piece also features a red-headed lass by the name of Lisa Howe on the drums, who reminds me in photos of Heather Shree from my books. She's able to perform just as well as anyone else on the kit, with Kieran 'Twerp' McArdle on the leads and vocals doing a bang-up job on tracks like "The Devil's Highway 3:22" and ACDC fueled opener "Red Eyed & Rolling 3:33."
While "A Song For Friend 4:14" is quite an emotional burst, I don't think the vocal performance is that strong aside from the chorus. "Remember Me 3:21" sees Priest riffs aplenty, and it's there that I have to announce the band's other axeman, Baldo O' Toole. "Kiss & Tell 3:02" runs right back into ACDC territory, with the band then covering one of my favorite songs in music history; Neil Young's "Keep On Rocking In The Free World." (been tinkering for years on a sequel set of lyrics called "We're Still Rocking In The Free World.") I never realized that despite hearing this track as a kid, it's not the "carefree song" I thought it was, and is arguably one of the best societal observations I've ever witnessed in the musical form. Of course, my version will be a continuation as things are now even worse then they were when the song was written and I plan to reflect that with this sequel. As expected, the band deliver this horrible look on our society just as well as anything that Neil Young and Jeff Walker could have done. "Fall From Grace 4:50" really brings the emotion in, seeming to be a very personal piece. If there's anything I can say about Kieran's vocals, it's that they have a bit of sorrow in them and sometimes even the melodies get a little melancholy which is what I'd expect from a country that seems to be able to reflect sorrow better than any other. He also hits some great high notes and proves that those years of listening to classic rock and metal have paid off. As I mentioned sorrow, the last track on the disc also seems to invoke the same sense of melancholy with the instrumental "Forever & Always 2:56" which also contains some nice leads. And just so I don't leave anyone out, Tony Drumm's bass presence really adds to the punchier tracks on the album.
So yes, ACDC, Judas Priest, Neil Young and several other classic rock influences went into making this EP and I'd certainly recommend it to people who enjoy this new birth of classic rock bands like Mockingbird and 77 for example. While nothing you haven't heard before, it's definitely not a bad release and worth listening to if you feel you've worn out the originals.
(8 Tracks, 30:00)
Anakronis - Regression EP (Band Request 2013) - These guys sent me a funny little message about checking out their Canadian technical death metal act along the lines of "we think we're good, so you will too" or something like that. At any rate, they're right. Though the disc is short, these guys have managed to mix death metal in it's most brutal element along with obsessive amounts of ADD-laden technical bouts and have an extreme amount of potential. The drums are absolutely furious, the guitars seem like they've gotten trapped between three different dimensions and are trying to translate the lost fragments of the tonal frequency from some ancient civilization who attempted to make contact with ours and it wound up sounding like this. The whole thing sounds like it came from another planet, very much in the vein of Gigan but so much thicker in the nature of death metal then they've ever been.
What I like most about Anakronis, is that I can actually tell people that these guys are technical DEATH metal. Not as in "death" like there might be some elements, but the fact that these guys are full of mass amounts of threatening vocal gravel and drums that actually recall the nature of the music. Dark, ominous, punishing and everyone's favorite - brutal. There aren't little melodic passages here and there, it's nothing but sheer wickedness throughout each and every one of these five tracks. The spirit of Decapitated and Gorguts in their prime eras are alive with every note that Anakronis plays and you should know well what to expect from the definition that I've provided here.
It's a no-brainer. Go pick this album up from Anakronis's bandcamp page. It's definitely worth checking out for fans of the most brutal form of technicality imaginable. I expect great things from these guys in the future, of that there is no doubt.
(5 Tracks, 19:00)
Empyrean Asunder - HATE Demo (Band Request 2013) - Well, I certainly never thought I would hear something that sounds so closely to the work of the one woman powerhouse (Sindelle Morte) that composes Scream Machine. But to be honest, Empyrean Asunder offer that exact same package with this demo. However, these tracks are without so much of the conspiracy-laden material that I would expect from Scream Machine and focus on the normal gamut of topics related to heavy music. Olivia Asunder switches from between a form of spoken vocal to Otep like shouts and she also sometimes sings or whispers.
As far as the music, if you're well aware of the electro-rock of Scream Machine, you're also getting that here. Which means that fans of Scream Machine and other female fronted electronic rock acts will definitely want to check this one out. Though rather short, it offers several different sides to what seems to be an intriguing enough band. Also, the guitarist of this project is also the guitarist of Abominant which is how I got this demo in the first place. He described it as more or less a "basement demo" but the quality of the release is not even close to the manner of a basement demo. It sounds quite clear and audible, just as much as you would or should expect for a release of this nature.
As far as the music goes, imagine angry guitars backing the pink-haired siren's vocal wailings, as she utilizes several different styles on the piece. There are moments when things get a bit lighter, somewhat experimental in the mix and it does seem that the five-piece is able to create some very interesting electronic soundscapes. Hate is not always heavy, but I think that gives it more room to breathe. There are no solos or extremely technical pieces on this record like you would expect for metal, but it certainly has some rough industrial edges that deliver for the most part. "We Are Dying 3:19" managed to take me aback however, as it began in the form of a piano ballad. I was certainly glad to see the electronics come back into the mix, or I'm not sure how long I would have been able to stomach that one. But tracks like "Love At Your Own Risk 3:44" and closer "Killing Floor 3:47" offer up enough electronic feminine rage to make up for it.
The band has apparently shared the stage with several other acts (but this is just a demo?) including Type O Negative, Combichrist, Thrill Kill Kult, The Birthday Massacre and even The Genitorturers, so that says something about them. I'm not entirely sure how those shows occurred with only a demo in tow, but the material here certainly seems strong enough to take in a live setting. I have no idea where you can find this demo, but I do think that people should hear it or what's going to come of it later when an EP or LP is eventually released. Fans of Scream Machine are certainly going to be pleased with this act and maybe even Sindelle herself. It's certainly a solid effort and I'd like to hear more.
(7 Tracks, 23:00)