Otargos - Apex Terror (PR2013 Spotlight Album) - Considered to be a mix of acts like current era Behemoth and Industrial era Satyricon, these guys definitely prove that they have what it takes to stand out amongst the clones. This is an album where the music speaks for itself, so I'll spare you the frivolities.
The disc opens with the middle-eastern influenced riffing of "Apex Terror 4:35" which features ferocious drums, Behemoth riffs and harsh vocals, complete with hints of electronics and a worthy solo piece. Now that's how you start an album. But can they continue at this pace? "Fleshless Deathless 5:33" seems like it might have gotten a little bit of a Gojira injection, and features a much deeper style of vocal (with still the reminiscence of Behemoth) and a bit more crunch then the last track - along with another solo piece that sounds a bit out of place, but welcome. I'm glad that they still felt it was alright to put solos on pieces like this, because some bands wouldn't. "For Terra 4:45" brings on the black thrash atmosphere, proving that these guys really are capable of many different styles and wind up using every damned one of them on this album. Atmospheres are certainly concocted on this number, as well as some vocal effects that I find appealing. Wow, where'd that solo come from? It just kind of fell into place. And that's what I like about these guys. The next song "Remnant From A Long Dead Star 5:06" brings things into a much bleaker piece, backed with a bit rougher edge vocal that somewhat sees a bit of a shout. But that's good, because I do like to hear the native tone of the vocalist, it makes the work seem more human. I really love deep, grimy (and at times beautiful) work like this; there's even a wonderful solo on the track.
"Fallout 4:26" brings back the blazing drums, but with an odd vocal approach that carries the flavor of a megaphone backed rebellion. You've really got to hand it to that drummer, he definitely knows how to keep things interesting. The harsh vocals come back as the melodies change and welcome riff chugs. "Xeno 0:59" is next, an unsettling instrumental piece. "Drone 4:04" comes right after that, another maniacal musical outburst of fury and insanity, taking the best of black metal riffs and throwing the machine gun drumming of death metal happily into the mix. I'm reminded of Nalgfar with this one and that's a good band to be reminded of. "Aftermath Hyperion 6:16" is next, seeming very bleak, much in the vein of "Remnant..." but even more dreary. This sounds like it could be the theme for the end of the world. But that's until the drums begin to once again thunder backed with the same harsh vocal approach, yet this time it opens up into atmosphere. The band does give their songs a chance to breathe and I know what rules they're playing by, (there's Secrets Of The Moon influence in here somewhere) so I already know what to expect from most of these songs. As a matter of fact, I saw "Versus 3:26" and thought it might be a Secrets Of The Moon cover; but it seems that it is not. However, the song is certainly strong and definitely makes me think of the Antithesis album anyway. Albeit with a screaming solo, which is definitely great to hear. He really thunders this last song down vocally, just as much as the band thunder it down musically; along with another solo.
As bonus, there's an industrial remix of "Fleshless-Deathless." This one is called "Fleshless-Deathless 2.0 Remix 5:33" and is integral to the album. For those of you who might have been upset to hear that band only used electronic influences once on the whole album (Apex Terror) then this one will definitely pique your interest. It is a much different song than the original and even features female vocal influence. The soundscapes made on this thing are amazing, it feels longer than the original song; and definitely cements Otargos as a worthy industrial act, should they ever want to go that way. As a matter of fact guys, how long would it take to remix the whole damn album and release it as Apex Terror 2.0?
All in all, Otargos is my kind of band. You might not like them, but if you're not as big into Secrets Of The Moon, Satyricon/Sonic Reign/Stellar Master Elite and golden age Behemoth as I am, then you probably won't like this album. But there are people out there who are into those bands and others like them, so Otargos will be a must buy. I believe I've finally found my 10 for this week.
I definitely recommend Otargos to everyone. Damn, there are so many great albums coming out right now. It's too hard to choose the year's best!
(10 Tracks, 44:00)
Shock Frontier - Mancuerda Confessions (PR2013) - Considered the brainchild of Psychomanteum's Robert Kozletski and aided by Kyle Carney of Defiantly Fading, Pennsylvania's Shock Frontier is one of the best death industrial acts that I've ever come across. Much in the vein of Steel Hook Prosthesis, but slightly more experimental, they've crafted a nightmarish future world that will change the way you think about society forever. Now I don't know much about the actual Mancuerda confessions, who Mancuerda is and what was confessed; but I'm definitely going to google it and find more information on that, as it's spiked my curiosity and more than likely would entail something that's quite fucked up in some form or fashion.
The album begins with "Paroxysm 8:06" in a very electronic fashion which sounds much like a sort of robotics engineering facility. It's possible that the factory is building new life forms to replace humanity, in this "sudden burst of emotion" as the song title is described. "Angels Upon Iron Horses 6:40" comes next, continuing the factory's assembly of these mechanical monsters and would probably enlighten everyone who doesn't already work in an industrial plant and hear the same noises for hours at time. Shock Frontier have successfully mimicked the sounds of hard industrial labor with these two tracks. That is fine, but it is a good thing when ":Blood Eagle Zealot 18:27" (which sounds like a good name for a band, by the way) finally comes in and shows how the robots attack the church and wind up slaughtering everyone in it, starting with one altar boy who is apparently still in prayer. It's quite morbid to think about, but it would be a rather odd feeling to have been in prayer and killed while in that act of prayer. Would you even know that you were dead? Like if you're of the Christian faith and you're praying to Christ, but all of a sudden something comes by and removes your head without you knowing about it. That's what I felt like happened during this song. There's this deep, almost peaceful quiet at the end of the track; where it seems like the robotic entities who destroyed this humble church start to whizz away from the scene, only leaving light sounds of reverberation behind..
Next we have the confessional, where apparently the robotic entities feel a sort of sin for what they've done, so the find a cathedral wherein they begin to whizz and sputter about in repentance. "Controlled Atmosphere Killing 5:41" takes us back into the static and industrial noise of the factory, where the robots have all been assembled, but the machines continue to build as they have nothing else to do, no other programming; and no signs of shutting down. Our tax dollars at work. As we close into the factory, we finally see what programming the robots were inbued with on "Understand The Extent Of Our Disintegration 7:31." In a very slow and easily processible manner, all of the country's recent catastrophic events have been recorded, leaving these machines to consider our race as obsolete and incredibly volatile beings. With that information, these robots begin their evisceration process; which no one ever saw coming. "Decrepitude Approaching 4:58" leads us into the sputtering core of the factory, whirling about like some sort of black hole. Such a thing is of swell grandeur, but who was the mastermind behind it's construction? "Mancuerda 10:13" begins next, but it doesn't shed much light on who or what that term refers to. Though it sounds like it could be another line of data from the factory, possibly something not yet implanted into these ravenous machines who have now realized that confessing for their sins is a fool's errand and have begin to once again cleanse the world of mankind. They of course will try with their bullets, tanks and other weapons of war; but these are to no avail as the machines continue on in their rampage. "This Is Paradise 6:21" seems to capture the aftermath of that world, with the sounds of the old age fading out into the stars as the new age of life attempts to repair and restructure the world into their own utopia. Perhaps it might really be a paradise in that aspect, as these machines would not repeat the ills of man. It is simply not in their programming. But how long would this age last? How long would it be until even the machines rust and give way to the age after, an age where nothing remains but the sounds of the world that was...
You'll have your own interpretation of Mancuerda Confessions, but this is mine. Shock Frontier have certainly made the soundtrack for the kind of sci-fi post apocalyptic tale that you would expect to see on the big screen and I have no idea why these artists don't commission their work to independent films and games who could use soundtracks just like this one. It's always boggled my mind, especially when I could see this kind of music adorning several recent sci-fi related games and films. It's a very mature version of the future apocalypse that seems like it would also fit perfectly with several independent and low budget sci-fi and sci-fi/horror films that I've seen. Remember, low budget does not mean "not good" it just means that more time was taken into the story and less into the special effects. It also means that no major corporations had a say in the film, so the creator could do as they wanted. The same of course, could be said for games as well as this kind of music. Death/Industrial is not well known, but because it isn't, it can live in a place where it not conform to the trends. For an example of this, I will state the motion that I have never heard a Malignant Records act do dubstep and am forever thankful.
I definitely recommend this mature vision of the apocalypse from Shock Frontier, unless you work in an industrial plant where you hear the buzzing and whirring of machines all day long. The last thing anyone wants to be reminded of when they hear music, is work. Without a doubt, one of the best industrial death albums I've ever heard. Recommended for fans of Megaptera, Steel Hook Prosthesis, Soldnergeist and the early CMI sound (which is?) according to the promo information. Having heard Steel Hook Prosthesis, I can make the comparison, but this album doesn't have the horror atmosphere that they do, it's more mechanical.
Highlights: Paroxysm, Angels Upon Iron Horses, Blood Eagle Zealot, Controlled Atmosphere Killing, Understand The Extent Of Our Disintegration, Decrepitude Approaching, Mancuerda (9 Tracks, 72:00)
Pinkish Black - Razed To The Ground (PR2013) - Pinkish Black, as a friend told me (and this might not be entirely true) got their name from a stain that was left on the wall after their singer killed himself. The band described it as "pinkish black" in origin. Kinda fucked up, but so is their music... real fucked up as a matter of fact. But it's also strangely interesting... You know, in a fucked up sort of way.
The disc opens up with a spooky little ditty called "She Left Him Red 3:37." It reminds me quite a bit of Estradasphere, so that's a good start. Then we have the next track, which continues the Theremin play for a while, almost sounding oriental in tone - you can definitely sense video game music references here. The vocals come in and they sound about as depressing as a tombstone, yet strangely have a bit of blues, maybe even darkwave. They really love that Theremin. But I would too, if I could play one. I still can't even believe that thing's an instrument. "Kites And Vultures 3:52" gets a little dirtier, but it strangely lightens to allow prog elements and psychedelics. "Razed To The Ground 3:52" sounds like electro-doom with wall-thin vocals. I can barely hear or care what the vocalist is saying, he might as well be talking about what he needs to buy at the grocery store - but the vocals themselves make a good instrument, I just think that add nice tones to the oddity that is this track. "Bad Dreamer 7:42" brings in the piano for a quarter of the track, but then switches to a very odd take on what sounds like a doom-laden drone. I think that bands like this improve my skills, because I have to think of other terms to describe them, rather than the usual gamut of "it's thrashy, heavy, bashy, doomy" exc. This album really goes above and beyond. "Rise 5:34" sounds like dirty rock with the same wall thin vocals, but it brings in a Theremin during one of the album's great rushes and builds on the band's atmosphere, which seems to be Pinkish Black's main goal. The album ends with "Loss Feeling Of Loss 11:09" and it follows much of the same dirty electronic rock with Theremin and other electronic influences. Near the end of the song, things sound quite uneasy and then end with a whimper.
I'm not really quite sure what kind of experiment Pinkish Black are trying to attempt here, but I do feel that it's worth listening and that there's nothing else out there quite like it. They really might have gotten their name from the stain left behind from the death of a former member, seeing as how this music can be both very uplifting and rather downtrodden at the same time. It's an odd mixture that I would recommend to the more adventurous of people. I hope that my descriptions were enough to describe at what times, is quite indescribable.
(7 Tracks, 44:00)
Subscale - The Last Submission (PR2013) - I wasn't sure what to expect from the Croatian act, Subscale; but in the end I feel that they've made a very solid release. Sure, one could sum up an entire album review in just that one sentence, but I feel that I need to break these down, as Subscale isn't what I thought and I don't want you to get the same impression when I use the words djent. They do much more than just that.
"Interception 5:15" begins with a Soliwork approach to melodic death metal and plenty of little chugs. It's a punchy little opener that goes right into "Fictional Constructs 3:50" adds more of the djent influence to the mix, but it's also quite multi-layered in as far as performance and laden with electronics. "Antecedent 4:26" sees more djent in the piece, but with some Pantera portions. Not too shabby. "Method And Manner 4:31" contains some awesome clean choruses (it's not the same vocalist here.) "Pull The Threads (Extraction) 6:14" started out with djent, but contains a melodic solo before the track even starts. Some static begins to creep in near the end of the track. "Realization 5:45" starts as light piece with some whispers, building into something that isn't djent and actually contains female harmonizing as well as tasteful solo. This reminds me more of Sybreed's lighter work, with a very strong focus on powerful clean vocals. The song really peaks toward the end. "Outreach 4:37" begins with djent, but gets much heavier and offers a good sense of melodic death metal along with some beautiful light melodies. "The Verdict 1:49" is a light, yet troubling piece with electronics that sound quite disturbing. But this might be the point of the instrumental. Unfortunately, "The Last Submission 4:55" seems to be the most musically forgettable and damn near thrown together track on the album. Sure, there's a lot of piss and vinegar, but it's all lumped together... wait. Well, there is a nice clean vocal chorus here, but the hardcore sensibilities here don't sit well with me, despite the solo piece. Yes, it's kind of hard to deny that solo piece and the gravel here, but the hardcore vocals are really killing it for me and I wish that the djent wasn't so thick. "Endgame 5:41" is the last track on the album, and it starts out rather slow and features a strong sense of electronics, later building to djent-laden atmospheres that house angst-ridden vocals. There's also a nice guitar solo used here, but the track is more of an afterthought than anything else.
Subscale definitely have potential, but I think they would be a stronger melodic death metal band with electronic influences than one filled with djent. The djent really doesn't seem to help them all that much and they hit so hard when they break out of the mechanical box, that they might be able to burst out into the scene as something truly noteworthy. The album is digitally available for free, so google the band's name and I'm sure you'll find it if you're interested. Alternatively, you can support the band by buying a physical enhanced CD from the same place where you'll find the digital version available. At any rate, Subscale are certainly worth hearing, so give them a go.
Highlights: Interception, Antecedent, Method And Manner, Realization, Outreach, The Verdict (10 Tracks, 47:00)
Soul Remnants - Black And Blood (PR2013) - Soul Remnant make a version of balls out thrash/death much in the vein of The Crown, Skeletonwitch or Impious. "Chopwork II 3:43" comes blazing out of the gates with an all out assault to the ears, definitely reminding you of the very best that death/thrash has to offer with some technical riffs and busting drums. As for the vocals, they're as vile as you should expect for the music. Black metal riffs creep up into "Cauldron Of Blood 3:19" but it finds itself as a thrasher and delivers just as much as the last one. Technicality still remains, as do black metal melodies (though also quite technical) as we jump right into the break-neck thrash of "Incinerator 3:45." My head is actually moving quite a bit while writing this review, at points I am tempted to throw up the horns and bang my bald head while these guys just kill on their instruments. I mean, that's what they do.
Then we get to "Symptoms Of Death 3:55" which starts out like it might be a cover song, but then it quickly regains speed and turns into yet another bludgeoning. Some grooves erupt and the chugs thunder in, backed by an immaculate vocal approach. "Dead Black (Heart Of Ice) 8:10" is a much different number that sees sorrow replacing the scathing thrash, and thick scathing vocals piled overtop beautiful, yet depressing melodies. It's still got some quite heavy portions though; and manages a tasteful solo piece that you would not expect to hear in a band like this. Then we get into the prog, where the band really gets out of their comfort zone. This is great though, because it gives them more than just that "death/thrash" title. I know few death/thrash acts that would even try such a sorrowful (and now we've got a choir humming) piece as this. "Rape Casket 4:01" brings us back to the band's current nature, (and I really need to point out that I'm hearing some Carcass influence here, albeit faster drumming) though things do manage to slow and mutate a little. Where did the sparkles come from? "No Afterlife 4:39" has an especially strong chorus piece and also plays around with tech and groove... these guys are just great. It doesn't really matter what they do. I wish I had more time to listen to this one! "The Antifaith 4:17" uses a vocal effect in some places (I think) but is mostly just chugs. It does have a solo portion too, but I don't think it's as strong as the others. "Reanimation 5:12" definitely pushes the technical death metal part of the band, ending things out with a whole lot of well... technicality. It's very straightforward in that sense.
Soul Remnants is one hell of an act. Checked these guys out on MA and seems they're from Massachusetts. Had no idea that there was metal over there. At any rate, it's fucking good metal. The only track that I didn't like so much was "The Antifaith" although I did like the use of the vocal effect on the track. I just thought it was a little chunkier than the others and didn't come off quite so well. But yeah, I would certainly buy this record. These guys just started out more or less, so if you like what they're doing, then give them some support!
(9 Tracks, 41:00)
Oceano - Incisions (PR2013) - I was told that Oceano is one of the most horrible acts out there as far as the core genre is concerned, and it seems like the word might have got out there to these guys on this latest album. What I didn't expect, is that the frontman knows how to do more than just the standard deathcore grunt and scream. He actually utilizes some extremely thick gravel on this one, especially on the opener "Eternal Wasteland 3:03" even though the solo (I mean, can we call the reiteration of the same three chords a solo?) is more than a little lacking. "Slow Murder 4:38" wanted to incorporate more electronic elements, but I found the overall drone of the track grating. As for the next track "Slave Of Coporatocracy 3:15", I actually like it. The piece begins with thick gravel and decent enough riffing, and I wish he would stay with this brutal death metal vocal approach and quit the core grunt entirely. Near the end of the track, someone clangs an anvil or something and it works for the song. As far as the song lyrics go, from what I've discerned; I believe it 100%. Most of our slaves to the corporate machine. I know that I am, I'm going back to work tomorrow to locate stock items in a database tomorrow, and then I'll be unpacking well over a hundred boxes of overpriced kids clothes that were made in sweatshops. You think I'm lying? Read the boxes. Made In China, Bangladesh, India, exc. To tell you the truth, I'd rather be working on my book or doing more reviews and interviews. I consider those things productive and worth the limited time that I have to spend on this planet. I'd rather make a name for myself in society, than to be known as just another cog who got worn out and replaced in the great corporate machine.
"Internal War 4:48" introduces some experimental elements into the mix, there's actually some very interesting things here, as far as incorporating melodies and trying to deviate away from core as much as humanly possible (please tell me that the next album sees Oceano as no longer a core act!) "Self Exploited Whore 2:56" doesn't offer all that much, but they are definitely trying to break out of that box. "New Age Apophis 3:31" starts out like brutal death metal, but decides that it wants to stay core, despite some interesting electronics and melody combination at the end. "Embrace Nothingness 4:40" is really stepping out of the box for these guys, it's not a core track at all and doesn't really feature any core grunts. The track focuses around a melody and spoken word vocal portions that help to create an atmosphere. The melodies are also quite strong, so I definitely enjoyed the piece. There's also a very nice, unexpected solo. "Incisions 3:59" which of course is the title track, wouldn't be much without the backing melodies and barely manages to interest me. "Blasphemous Mask 3:12" sounds better when it's doing the death metal thing, instead of the core thing. "Severed Appendages 3:57" sees more experimentation in terms of musical structures, but doesn't end on much. "Disservance 5:16" Is an instrumental piece with several different layers. It's definitely worth listening to an has some very surprising portions that you might find intriguing. "The Reclamation 3:37" ends the disc very boringly, I wish they had just left that off and ended the album with "Disservance."
I did think that this album was going to be a horrible listen, but when I finally decided that I was going to give it a chance, I found some songs that actually managed to impress me. Oceano actually has some potential and if they just break out of the core shell, they'll offer a convincing release that might actually get some recognition from the underground. If you're looking for just another deathcore album or whatever they offered before, then this isn't going to be your kind of album. But I'm quite glad that it isn't. It's good to see acts like this taking up new ideas and evolving with their music into something that's well... a bit more metal. You can tell that these guys just aren't listening to and be inspired by the same types of music that they were in the past. There's brutal death metal injections and melody on the album, as well as electronic pieces that help to enrich the experience.
In all honesty, it's actually worth checking out.
Highlights: Slave Of Corporatocracy, Internal War, Embrace Nothingness, Disservance (12 Tracks, 46:00)
Pitch Black Mentality - The Pitch Black Reality (PR2013) - Pitch Black are a four-piece power/thrash act that draw from bands like Nevermore, Pantera and Brainstorm. They're actually a relatively strong act, that come right out of the gate with "Carpe Demon 4:36" which shows these influences displayed beautifully. Powerful melodies work to introduce the title track "The Pitch Black Reality 6:24" showing itself with more abrasion and a memorable solo. These guys truly seem to be proving their salt. "Tool Of War 4:41" plays around with technicality a bit more, but I don't think it's as vocally strong as the others, sans the choruses which seem to deliver. Of course, it's hard to deny these solo pieces. "The Throne 5:04" throws more Pantera influence into the mix, while "Red Light 3:26" seems to be more concerned with speed and technicality, sans the slower chorus portions. The band literally changes the tempo at the drop of a hat, so there's a good feeling of song structure in the piece and plenty of thrash, nonetheless. "Silent Voice 4:37" continues much in the same vein, as "Feed Your Suicide 4:37" proves itself as a standout, and "Truth Denied 4:22" follows in that regard. "Carve My Stone 5:27" ends the album with a slew of powerful solos and fades out on that note. It's pretty straightforward.
Pitch Black Mentality have a hell of a lot of promise. Their mix of Pantera grooves, Nevermore-esque technical riffing and more than heaping helping of thrash band X make them certainly a standout among others in their ranks. These guys are actually worth listening to with their memorable choruses, solos and the spirit of power/thrash remaining completely intact. You might hear some modern influences on the album, but you won't be able to deny that these guys are really doing something great here. I listened to it the first time and wasn't real sure of it, but after this second listen the disc sort of rubbed off on me a bit more and I can see it as a solid piece of material that's worth checking out for fans of thrash and power/thrash. While not the best power/thrash act I've ever heard, they certainly aren't the worst by a long shot.
If it sounds like something you'd be interested, I'd definitely recommend it.
Highlights: Carpe Demon, Feed Your Suicide, Truth Denied (9 Tracks, 43:00)
Noumena - Death Walks With Me (PR2013) - Recommended for fans of Dark Tranquility, Amorphis and Insomnium; this Finnish melodic death metal band have released their fourth album complete with a new female vocalist by the name of Suvi Uura who is able to provide both pleasing melodies and brutal growls along with the band's harsher frontman, Antti Haapanen. But as for the album, it's a bit raw as far as production quality is concerned (which I think is it's only downfall.) The band seems to have been studying their Amorphis well, as I clearly hear those melodies being utilized on "Handful Of Dust 5:26" complete with clean vocal choruses as well as the thick gravel approach of the frontman. It's very much melodic death metal with female clean vocal injections and clever attention to solos.
You'll actually hear quite a bit of Amorphis riffs throughout the record, but there are also little acoustic pieces on "Sleep 5:19" which really hammers down on the clean chorus. Suri really proves her salt on that one. But "Death Walks With Me 5:01" proves to offer more bite in the drums, with "Let It Run Red 5:11" seeming a little lost in the mix. The vocals and guitars don't seem to register very well on this track as compared to the others. But I can still feel the solo piece despite the muddied production on this one. "The Storm 6:05" returns Suri back to the vocal element, where the band then starts to remind me of mid-era Battlelore. "Mysteries Of Motion 3:47" proves to be another strong song, on an album which really doesn't suffer so much in the realms of musicality; just production. "Nothing 5:41" also sees the Battlelore like territory with male and female vocal duets and proves to be another powerful track. "Only The Silent 4:05" brings the heaviness back, as "Season Of Suffocation 8:09" comes forward as a wonderful piece, filled with all the greatness of melodic death metal and touching female vocal lines. "Sundown 4:57" ends the disc with a female fronted melancholic acoustic ballad piece and I suppose it fits. Again, I'm reminded of Battlelore on this one and I've always loved their early-mid era material so I'm sure if you like those albums, then you'll like this one too.
Noumena are a terrific melodic death metal band, and this release that celebrates their fifteen years of playing metal is definitely worthy of checking out. It's a powerful release that is only hemmed down by it's production and is one of the worst produced melodic death metal albums that I've ever heard. For music that's really this good, I hope maybe they will put up a Kickstarter or Indiegogo fundraiser in order to be able to record a better produced record. This album deserves better production and it deserves it so bad that it makes me sick. I highly recommend this album nevertheless, and would give it a much higher score if the sound wasn't so fuzzy and muddled. Definitely one of the best melodic death metal albums of the year, with unforgettable female vocal lines - Suri sings her ass off on this record, and with the dual guitar assault and Antti's vocals, there's really no reason that you should ignore this album.
I highly recommend Death Walks With Me, despite the low production value.
Highlights: Handful Of Dust, Sleep, The Storm, Nothing, Season Of Suffocation (11 Tracks, 57:00)
Gnaw - Horrible Chamber (PR2013) - Let me be honest and tell you that I've been dreading this one. When you get albums sent to you, you have no idea what you're going to find; and this one had me stuck on the very first track "Humming 5:26" for about a couple of weeks now. I just wasn't sure if I could bring myself to listen to what sounded like a bunch of guys screaming in a booth amidst some static. I don't even get the atmosphere on this one, it's just fucking awful and they should have scrapped it or left it for the end of the album. When you look at the band pictures, these guys don't even look like the kind of band who would make music that sounds like this. You'd think there would be some kind of retro 70's throwback going on by the look of these guys, not what sounds like horror style atmospheres and screaming that reminds of someone abducted by unfriendly ethereal beings and locked inside of a soundless glass prison. But you know what? I made it through the track.
Then I got into "Of Embers 5:14" which adds doom riffs into the mix. The same incoherent creaming (can I have his job? I bet I can do that too) still remains and rattles my brain with annoyance. Alright, so how about "Water Rite 7:04?" Now this one actually sounds like a person trapped inside of an alien ship, screaming for help. You can even hear the whirr and buzzing of the ship as the person screams for help. "Worm 4:48" comes in next, adding electronics to doom and lightening up the frontman's vocal approach a bit, (I actually like this style better, you're not assaulting me) and then "Widowkeeper 9:43" plays with more electronic atmospheres and doom (as far as atmosphere goes, they're great - but this guy really ruins the whole thing for me.) "Vulture 6:31" comes in next, and starts out good until the guy starts screaming again. "I can't stand them!" he says over and over again. "I can't stand him!" is what I've been screaming inside my head over and over again. When we finally get to "In This Horrible Chamber 12:05" things are fine until the guy starts screaming again later in the song. Again, this band would be so much better if he just stuck to an instrument that isn't his vocal chords.
There's no amount of words that can describe my hatred for the frontman's vocal approach. But Gnaw as a musical element is a very strong band, that creates wonderful atmospheres which are highly believable and definitely otherworldly. Some of you might think that the vocals add to the mix, while I think I'd give this album a higher score if they had all been removed completely. These guys don't need vocals, they do just fine with the work they do at creating these vast monstrosities of terror. I would actually recommend work like this is if you've been enjoying the Malignant records work I review with artists like Steel Hook Prosthesis and the above posted Shock Frontier. It's definitely in those realms, except with added elements of doom and horrifying vocals. For some of you, this will be just what the doctor ordered. But I think I'll pass on this.
I'm going to have to explain my score here too. I'm giving the disc a 7, but only because of the vocals. Without them, these guys are an 8 or 9 easily. The atmospheres created on this thing are fucking brilliant. But the fact that I can't listen to them without the vocal element is something of a bother to me. The vocals here remind me of some now defunct hardcore group that started with an "S." (I can't remember their fucking name.) I hated those vocals so much that I wanted to punch that guy. It's upsetting that people found influence in his style.
Felix Martin - The Scenic Album (PR2013) - Felix Martin is a guitar virtuoso with a fourteen string guitar, so this something that you guitar aficionados will want to check out for sure. He fiddles his way through several portions of The Tango (1-3 7:00), brings a bit of metal influence into "Spam II 4:26" has fun with the Animals As Leaders style on "Triangle Tune 7:10" (which really sets itself as a standout for the disc) complete with several bits of prog that roll into "High Spirit 6:26" which has much the same atmosphere as most guitar discs, and then features three other tracks "Virolano tries Prog, Jazz, Metal (7:00)" in which he plays prog, some lighthearted jazz and finally prog metal with Opeth influence. After that, he really experiments with "Eleven Drums 5:17" which sounds both beautiful and unique, finally finishing it off with "2 AM 5:50" which closes the disc with a jazzy number replete with a few metal injections and some sprinkles.
Felix is certainly skilled, there's no doubt about that. This album is a joy to listen to and features several overlapping soundscapes which seem to meld together rather well. If you're already a fan of Steve Vai, then I'm quite sure that you'll be a fan of Felix Martin. (speaking of, anyone get this over to Vai yet? I'm sure he would endorse it) On another note, I need to also mention that one of the tango tracks reminded me of the music from Pac-Man. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but I seriously heard 1980's Atari in there somewhere.
Definitely recommended. I don't even need to tell you why.
(11 Tracks, 44:00)
Nekrokrist - SS Der Todesking (PR2013) - Well, I want to be the nice guy when it comes to reviews, but sometimes I just can't. That's not entirely my fault though, sometimes the bands just aren't up to par and that is the case with these guys. I like black metal, and would go on to say that I really like black metal; but these guys are about as generic as can possibly be considered black metal. That's fine if you like your black metal to sound like it was made in 1996, and I definitely enjoy some of the classics, but the fact of the matter is that not one single track on this album manages to stand out from another on the piece and it all sounded the same. So much so, that I was taken out of it completely while listening to it and got enveloped in conversation. When my brain focused back on the music, it was because another album was already playing.
As for the music, it's a one man project that begins with a happy German tune and then goes right into black metal with slight moments of melody. The black metal with slight moments of melody complete with scowling vocals is the whole of the project. I've heard ten thousand bands that sound just like this one. The choice is clear on this one, and I am not in any way impressed by this effort. Hell, I can do a better job then this.
(7 Tracks, 33:00)
Mortal Decay - The Blueprint For Blood Spatter (PR2013) - It's kind of funny, but I'm having a hard time with the title of this brand new album from South Jersey technical brutal death metallers, Mortal Decay. Mainly, it's in that last word. What's the difference between blood splatter and blood spatter?
v (past and past participle spat•tered, present participle spat•ter•ing, 3rd person present singular spat•ters)
1. vti throw or come out in drops: to expel something in small scattered drops or splashes, or come out in this way
2. vt splash something with liquid: to splash something with or as if with a liquid, especially if the liquid leaves a mark or residue
3. vt defame somebody: to defame or sully somebody's character
n (plural spat•ters)
1. droplet of something spattered: a droplet or splash of something spattered
got a few spatters of paint on the floor
2. small amount: a small amount of something
a spatter of applause
3. act of spattering: an act of spattering or being spattered
4. spattering sound: the sound of spattering
Alright, so a spatter is a sort of splash.
vti (past and past participle splat•tered, present participle splat•ter•ing, 3rd person present singular splat•ters)
to spatter: to spatter or splash something, or be spattered or splashed
n (plural splat•ters)
a spatter: a spatter or splash
And "splatter" technically means the same thing as splatter. So instead of using the word "splatter" in their title, they used the original word "spatter" which can also be applied to paint, or any sort of liquid really. Aren't words incredible?
As far as the band goes, they concoct a more than solid form of brutal death metal with thick vocal gravel, loads of technicality and even some solos in places. And that pretty much explains the whole album. The drums also sound just as you would expect or should expect; as they fill the album with calculated blasts much in the way of Cryptopsy. It's a very straightforward album that doesn't need a scientific dissection. There's really no reason you shouldn't check out this disc if this description sounds like it would be something you'd dig, because the band sounds exactly as I've mentioned and they are good at what they do. They aren't reinventing the wheel, but don't seem to want to either. You can point out influences in Cannibal Corpse, Cryptopsy and Suture among countless others, but the music speaks for itself. With track titles like "Chloroform Induced Trance 3:47" and "Jugular Gurgle 3:39" you should already know what kind of brainy brutal death is being concocted here. If it ain't broke, then don't fucking fix it.
Well worth checking out. You'll definitely play it more than once.
(9 Tracks, 32:00)
Sasquatch - IV (PR2013) - Sasquatch are a three-piece stoner metal band and apparently this is their fourth record, hence the title IV. They aren't the only Roman numeral album title out this year either, with several other acts also opting to use these fine numerals like Onslaught for example, with their new album VI. The album opens with "The Message 4:29" which opens with dirty guitars and strong vocals. There's a definite hook to this track and a worthy rock solo. "Eye Of The Storm 5:42" slows down the music a bit more, but I don't know if I'm feeling it as much as the last track. "Sweet Lady 4:41" is a bit less dirty, with more of a straight up rock and roll feel to it, complete with another great solo. "Money 5:38" comes next, with a more mechanical riffing approach. The solo also delivers. As far as I've predicted, they all will. "Smoke Signal 7:56" is a bit longer and thunders a bit on the doom. But these guys are clearly more rock than metal, which isn't a bad thing by any means. Odd effects actually pop up on this track and they definitely work well for the piece. "Wolves At My Door 3:31" features phenomenal solo work, then "Me And You 4:44" works as a jazzy love song, "Corner 3:28" seems like a corner to the album, I don't really sense much meat on this one. "Drawing Flies 8:11" ends the disc on a sort of trance-laden hippie vibe, but riffs manage to thunder into the track and create great shots of atmosphere.
Sasquatch definitely have the right kind of quality that could make them extremely popular if they can just get heard by the right people. These guys do a great job of mixing blues and jazz together with metal and rock, so I'm sure that it's only a matter of time before a major label comes knocking at their door. There are definitely radio quality hits here like "Sweet Lady" and "Me And You" that could see them commercial success if they desired to pursue it.
Check it out if it sounds like something you'd be interested in.
Highlights: The Message, Sweet Lady, Smoke Signal, Drawing Flies (9 Tracks, 46:00)
Disfigured Dead - Relentless (PR2013) - Disfigured Dead is a four-piece technical brutal death metal band like Mortal Decay, but I definitely like these guys a little more. Their song structures are much stronger and feature a greater attention to detail than the latter act. There's no set path set for these guys, so they utilize many different elements in their gore-laden death, with an albums that's in all honesty very hard to describe unless you've heard it. There's definitely the Morbid Angel influence, especially in solos and the dual vocal approach really seems to work well for the band. The drums sound phenomenal and the calculated patterns on this disc definitely show that these guys have more than just a little potential. A good example of this would be in "Deranged Consecration 5:18" which is one of the single best death metal tracks I've heard in a while. This is the kind of album that I myself could personally jam the fuck out of and not really give two fucks about another person's opinion of the band. It's quite simplistic, even though unprofessional - my ears are hearing good music that I can relate to: bits of Dying Fetus and Morbid Angel being done incredible amounts of justice. By the way, these guys are quite young, which says a lot for where their skill is at the moment. The fact that Disfigured Dead got together and made an album that sounds better than a lot of older dudes who have done the same thing with more years of experience behind them in most cases, really speaks for the power of this act.
To be honest, there isn't a bad song on this album. It's a band that has been studying death metal and studying it quite well. You might look at the band and the album cover and not expect so much, but once you've heard the music; you'll understand that Disfigured Dead is definitely noteworthy and well worth checking out. While these guys haven't added any obscure elements that you'll find when bands try to break out of the genre of death metal, these guys stick to what they know best and deliver a hard-hitting album with powerful solos and thick song structures that are sure to leave their mark on someone. While I don't like how "The Process Of Decay 4:24" ends, (should have just let it end at 2:50) I definitely believe that the rest of this album speaks for itself. While not perfect, it is definitely worth checking out for all fans of death metal, as these guys certainly prove that they've got the right stuff when it comes to skull-bashing mayhem.
(10 Tracks, 46:00)
Lost Breed - The Evil In You And Me (PR2013) - There are always a few bands out there who don't always strike the iron and wind up missing, leaving a large hole in the ground. One such act seems to be Lost Breed, who play a classic-rock influenced brand of heavy metal that seems well engineered with memorable solos, but not so memorable songs. For instance, "Rescind The Horde 3:39" opens the disc with a bit of blues, groove and metal but it doesn't seem to really leave much of a hold on me until the solo comes in. "King Of Electric 3:20" goes for a powerful chorus, bit ends up failing miserably. The frontman just doesn't seem to be able to cut the mustard in several of these songs, making this album just not worth it in the long run. "Another Victim 5:44" delivers well in the guitar factor, but the rest of the doom-laden passages that compose it just come off forgettable. "Coffin Cheater 4:02" isn't even worth mentioning, and though "The Postman 4:02" offers thrash, it's still nothing to write home about. "Soul Chariot 3:30" has a bit of school flair, but surprisingly; the band's namesake song "Lost Breed 4:51" has absolutely nothing to offer, other than a solo. "The Evil In You And Me 4:01" is a bit stronger however, brining some more of the doom influences along with a strong chorus, but that doesn't say much in retrospect. "Nation's Song" seems like light thrash, but "Say You Love Satan 3:53" sounds a bit like grunge and doom fighting each other. The disc ends with "Storm Comes Down 2:40" which also leaves no major impression on me.
All in all, I'm completely unphased by this album. It just doesn't manage to do anything for me. If all I've found to be good on the record is the guitar solos, then something is horribly wrong here. Also, the frontman has such a terrible vocal approach that it turns me off the work completely. Lost Breed just seem to be lost, to be quite simple. It's not anything that I would spend my money on and I wouldn't really want you to either. There are very few times where I wouldn't recommend an act to anyone, and this is one of those times. It's just incredibly mediocre. However, the band did make another release after this one and I will review it in the next review week to see how it fares.
Highlights: Another Victim, Soul Chariot, The Evil In You And Me (11 Tracks, 42:00)
Zodiac - A Hiding Place (PR2013) - The album cover depicts a retro throwback to old LPs, but the picture and band logo depict something much different than you might expect to hear from the band. Even from the magazine advert, I thought these guys might be some really trippy stoner metal, but that's not the case. Zodiac takes me back to the kind of music that my father used to listen to, like Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynrd, probably even some Creedence Clearwater Revival. It's not so much that the band sounds like any one of these acts, but that they take influence from them in so far as the music is concerned. Led Zeppelin fans will hear a lot of their influence in the band especially. This southern rock still does contain several psychedelic elements and is certainly worth listening to, if you have the kind of ears to appreciate it. While "Downtown 4:58" doesn't really kick things up, "Free 7:33" seems to offer a bit more as it brings in the trippy elements and proves a strong chorus. If I were to compare the two tracks, I would rather "Downtown" be left off the album entirely - it should have begun with "Free." A Pink Floyd solo moment with a dirty touch ends the piece off, making it even more worthwhile.
"Underneath My Bed 3:47" injects funk and blues into the mix, even a little bit of soul. There's nothing wrong with this and it reflects well. "Leave Me Blind 4:44" is where our damn piano ballad comes in, but it sure does kick things up and develop into a powerful ballad that's quite memorable. "Moonshine 5:29" brings back the southern hospitality, but continues to add the psychedelic elements which add a nice touch to what could've been a very plain act. "Believer 7:49" is a lighter track that is more focused on the trip factor than anything else, but comes off with a rather catchy chorus and a memorable solo. Two parts of "I Wanna Know 7:00" follow, with the second part being more memorable than the first, as well as it's strong chorus. I don't know why the song was split, it would have been fine as an 8 track album. As for that last track, "Cortez The Killer 8:52" it's about Ferdinand Cortez slaughtering the Aztec people. History is something I've always loved and this has an Iron Maiden lyrical vibe to it in that regard. This is also my favorite song on the album, despite that it's a little slower than the others. It just sounds like a classic, like a song you'll remember for years to come.
Zodiac has some definite talent and could prove to be a formidable opponent in the realms of classic and psychedelic rock revival. Not what I was expecting, but one hell of an album nonetheless. If you hear anything from this album, please check out "Cortez The Killer." The guitar work on that one is mind-blowing. Just like the good old days.
Highlights: Free, Underneath My Bed, Leave Me Blind, I Want To Know Part 2, Cortez The Killer (9 Track, 51:00)
77 - Maximum Rock And Roll (PR2013) - Spanish rockers 77 are already back with a brand new album, but I have to say that this one just isn't as strong as their last one. While the ACDC and classic rock influences are still here and still strong, not all of the songs come off that well. Some songs on this album are just run of the mill, like the opener "Maximum Rock 'n' Roll 2:59" which doesn't offer so much that I haven't already soaked in with the Stones and ACDC. The same can be said with the Aerosmith influenced blues rock of "Jazz It Up 3:06" and the odd swamp blues turned ACDC thunder anthem of "Stay Away From Water 3:44." But there are a few stronger tracks here like "Don't You Scream 3:11" which offers a strong chorus, and "Highway Rebel 3:39" which makes for a strong anthem. There are still even stronger tracks on the disc, like "You Bored Me 4:45" and the closer "16 Year Old King 3:57."
Unfortunately, I don't like the vocalist on this one much and I'm not sure if it's the same guy or a replacement, but his accent doesn't do so well for the music. These guys seem like a Spanish ACDC knockoff at times, but they're better than that as they showed on their last release. There aren't any overly long titles on the disc this time either, which I would've liked - because they were able to pull off some great things on the last album and haven't been able to do so here. Even though there are still some good songs on the disc, it's just not quite up to par with their last release.
Highlights: Down And Dirty, You Bored Me, 16 Year Old King (10 Tracks, 36:00)
Coven 13 - Destiny Of The Gods (PR2013) - Well, Coven 13 is back. Most commonly known for the release (of which I recently reviewed the remaster) Worship New Gods, the band is back from the past and have brought another dose of classic metal for the new era, entitled Destiny Of The Gods. But Destiny Of The Gods is a much different piece of music than the offering of years past, and has it's own share of hits and misses to boot.
"Thor's Twins 5:28" has a punk influence for instance that I don't care for and it took me right out of the album from the very beginning, which isn't a good sign. "Winds Of Revelation 4:41" has more of a classic metal feel, but I'm not feeling the frontman's vocals here either. It just seems to be devoid of anything other than boredom. "Elfstone 6:01" seems to be one of the album's better tracks, with lyrics based in Middle Earth and a pleasing guitar solo. "Walpurgisnacht 6:35" finally brings in the doom, with a sub-par vocal approach; yet memorable solo piece. "Isle Of Man 2:27" brings back the punk influence, showcasing off a very weak track. "Frost Giants 3:44" offers a passable classic metal performance comparable to Judas Priest. "Witches Kiss 3:42" brings in proggy keyboards, but it's obvious that the vocalist thinks he can sing better than he actually can; which seems to be the downfall of many of these songs. The guy just doesn't have a very strong vocal approach on this album, despite all of the tricks he uses. "She Rides The Dawn 4:30" comes at about the point that I was waiting for the album to end. You should already know by now, that if I'm just waiting on an album to end; it's done nothing for me. "Solitary Days 7:16" however is actually a much stronger track, showing me that maybe this band does still have some signs of life after all. It's probably the best song on the album. The disc ends with "Spellbound 3:13" which injects piano into the mix, but ploddles along with a rather forgettable piece.
Listen, I'm all for these guys getting back together and creating a new album after all these years, but this is one of the worst and most forgettable classic metal throwbacks that I've ever heard. Compared to Woship New Gods, this is not even in the same plane. It's out there in the astral stuff somewhere, as far from that album as can be. The frontman comes off as droll and annoying, and the album seems to be a disc where you have to wait for something good to happen. I hate those kinds of discs and they shouldn't exist at all. If after four or five tracks have passed and you're still waiting for that one touch of gold; then chances are that the record is just not very strong. I'm lenient in the aspect that I don't necessarily consider openers as the first and final say for an album, I always make sure to give it the full chance - but most people will not do that. They're going to listen to start with "Thor's Twins" and expect the whole album to sound that way, which it doesn't - but you can't tell them that, because most people these days are stubborn. They're going to jump on their own sites and forums and chats and tell people "That new Coven 13 album is awful" or even worse words than what I've used here. But I will be honest and say that it does sound like these guys were trying. The vocalist just thought that his voice was soap, when it was really butter and I don't think everyone is going to jump on the bandwagon. I wish these guys the best of luck and still think that their live performances will be more memorable than what has been offered on this new studio album. So go see them live while you've still got the chance to do so.
Highlights: Elfstone, Walpurgisnacht, Frost Giants, Witches Kiss, Solitary Days (10 Tracks, 47:00)
Cannibal Accident - Lennu 7" (PR2013) - Cannibal Accident is a five piece death/grind act with some interesting oddities. Though the 7" is short, it's still worth checking out. "Orgiastic Hypothermia 1:46" seems to revel in classic death metal, complete with more moments of vocal insanity than usual, (it almost feels like everyone in the band got a turn to scream, holler and growl) then "Nuclear Semenstorm 0:53" seems to feature rowdy drums and a whole lot of fury. "Chili Con Carnage 1:36" seems to be more gore obsessed, with a few crunchy moments and the sounds of strangling, as "Total End 1:36" sounds more like punk with odd TOOH high-pitched vocal moments. "Dawn Of The Dead 1:16" features more groove and a gurgling vocal approach which goes into "Rectum Loosener 1:10" closing the album with one single shot of brutality.
Again, while not overly long; the disc manages to traverse many territories of gore and does not offer me the same song over and over. That's reason enough for me to recommend it. These guys aren't afraid to experiment and do weird things with the music, so I'm not afraid to tell people to check them out. Plus, with a name like Cannibal Accident; it has to be good.
(6 Tracks, 8:00)
Fukpig - Bad Fucking Dickhead (PR2013 Single) - A single from the fourth forthcoming album from Anaal Nathrakh side project, Fukpig; this song is definitely worth checking out. It's heavy as hell, rough and full of spite. If an amount of anger can be shoved into a track and then regurgitated back into your ears, it's this abrasively chunky thing. To best express it, if you've ever been pissed at a person, this song will capture that anger perfectly. The grooves on this track kill, as well as the angry and sometimes wailing vocals. It's pretty straightforward and you're definitely going to want to check out this solid track. It also has the same effect as if you walked onto that Monty Python sketch where the guy was looking for an argument and accidentally walked into abuse. This is a track that you can lovingly send to those you care about.
(1 Track, 4:06)