More coming next week!
Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed (PR2013 SPOTLIGHT ALBUM) - I'm going to be brutally honest and say that I hadn't expected much out of this new album, because to be honest, I hated the band's last disc "Forever Abomination" with a passion. It just went nowhere. So when I pressed the play button on my mp3 player, I expected to be disappointed. But I wasn't. Apparently, the band decided to do what they do best, (you know, mixing black/thrash and melodic death metal together) but add a little more black metal flavor to the mixture this time. And the results, well... they speak for themselves. Just imagine all of the things that you've liked about melodic black metal and thrash and combine them into an unforgettable mix. Yeah, I can hardly believe it myself. But I can honestly say that this album is a fucking masterpiece insofar as I've heard and this second time has only served to make me want to listen to it again.
So let's do that. "Serpents Unleashed 2:11" opens up the album with thrash riffs, but those go right into unexpected black metal that no one was expecting from the beginning of the track. Yes, the same thrash riffs are still used; but the
frontman is obviously putting more emphasis on his scowl this time (I've been trying to emulate his pitch and I think I've already got it.) which makes the black metal influences even more apparent. Then the disc goes right into blast beats with "Beneath Dead Leaves 3:07" which doesn't even start out sounding like the same band, and that's a good thing. That's what you fucking call evolution. I love these fucking chorus lines - I've used lines like these before - the kind that utilize a lot of throat and character, so when I hear this guy doing the same shit that I've done, of course it's going to affect me. I'm even making sure that he's performing these scowls in the right fashion, that the end lines are proper - there's always a little "arggh" at the end of some of the original black metal vocal lines, and he's got it. Spot fucking on. "I Am Death (Hell Has Arrived) 2:47" comes in next, sounding like the black thrash (Aura Noir style) that the album began with, but this track also contains a bit of melodic chorus with the scowl. Again, something that I've done. Guys, if your frontman ever decides he's done with the band and you need a backup, I've got you covered. I can do this kind of vocal work in my sleep.
Next comes "From A Cloudless Sky 2:48" which I almost jizzed myself over. Yes, it's really that good if you like melodic black metal, and those vocal lines really match up with the melodies, albeit slight portions of thrash. It fucking works though. "Burned From Bone 2:39" has some moments of great melody, (and I think this guy might have had the lyrics in front of him while he was recording) while "Unending, Everliving 3:03" which features a more somber tone of black thrash, but it's still black thrash. "Blade On The Flesh, Blood On My Hands 2:26" is next, but it doesn't do well standalone. To tell you the truth, "Serpents Unleashed" isn't meant to be listened to in a track-by-track fashion. It's meant to be listened to as one whole. The songs flow into each other and make a great fucking piece of music. "This Evil Embrace 3:39" really doubles up on the black metal, again sounding like a totally different band; yet they are still able to put their own touches on it, making the song stand out. As "Unwept 2:25" creeps in, melodic death metal influences come in. "Born Of The Light That Does Not Shine 2:18" is the band's last black metal influenced track on the disc, but it goes out well enough and ends this successful American experiment into Norwegian culture.
But as for that final song, "More Cruel Than Weak 4:18" begins with a light acoustic, and sounds like it didn't really need to be on this album in the first place. Well, it's not that the song is bad - it just doesn't evoke the same atmosphere and sounds like a literal bonus track or something that should have been released later in the band's career, like their next release. However, "More Cruel Than Weak" is nothing more than a near-perfect "Heartwork" era Carcass emulation. The song doesn't actually begin until "1:30" but manages to deliver well on the Carcass sound (both musically and vocally) but some of the melodies appear to be lost in the background and there's no solo piece. So "Heartwork" this is not. Nor is it "Surgical Steel."
And there you have it, the new Skeletonwitch that I wasn't so sure about, but have now listened to well over three times (and twice in one sitting) now. Yes, it is a short album; but it's one that you can play over and over again. Take it from me. If I press play on this damn thing one more time, I'm going to wind up going back through all these songs again. Take that as a recommendation.
Highlights: Serpents Unleashed (Tracks 1-10)(11 Tracks, 31:00)
Twilight Of The Gods - Fire On The Mountain (PR2013) - Named after the sixth Bathory album (and one of my favorite) of the same moniker, this supergroup composed of Alan Averill, (better known as Nemtheanga Of Primordial) Patrik Lindgren (Thyrfing) Rune Eriksen, (Aura Noir, ex-Ava Inferi and ex-Mayhem) and none other than Nick Barker, who you better have fucking heard of, or you've no business on this page. Now these guys started out playing Bathory cover shows, and you can tell that this was just a sort of hobby project; but then they decided to start playing original material in the same style, which does manage to house a few hits and misses. Despite the big names thrown around here, especially the vocal powerhouse in Nemtheanga; I have to say that this isn't the 100% absolute killer metal beast that I had expected. But, it is still pretty damned good.
The album starts out well enough, with "Destiny Forged In Blood 5:17" hammering out riffs that sound like they were molded in those classic metal forges of the 80's. Alan still uses Primordial vocal tone as well, giving the approach a still slightly melancholic nature - let's just face it, this guy excels at sorrow - then we've got the classic, and I mean classic fucking solo. These solo melodies have probably been used a hundred times over by classic (and throwback) bands throughout the ages; but they still manage to deliver here. "Children Of Cain 4:53" has more of an Iron Maiden meets Primordial feel, I'm definitely hearing Maiden influence here; even though as I've said - these melodies have been used by later bands. "Fire On The Mountain 5:38" thunders in just like Judas Priest without Halford's classic shriek, but Alan manages to deliver a worthy performance on the track as well.
Alright, you might be jumping on me about the fact that I'm mainly talking about Alan Averill's vocal performance because I'm such a well-noted Primordial fan. But let's be honest, Nick's doing a decent job on drums, and Rune doesn't really have to work that hard. These riffs practically write themselves, they've been etched in stone since the very birth of metal; and the music is quite self-explanatory. If you're looking for something that sounds like it could have been released in the 80's, then this disc will be exactly what you're looking for. But these guys really don't break the pattern or add any nuances in it, which is where some people might have a problem. Hell, they might even go as far to say that Twilight Of The Gods is just ripping off Judas Priest, Manowar and Bathory, maybe even Sabbath in a few licks - but they are doing a damned good job of it regardless.
Personally, I don't think it's necessary to sail throughout the whole album; because once again - it's self explanatory. Twilight Of The Gods are the kind of band that seem to be able to craft songs that sound just as good as the ones that they originally formed to cover, but as far as expecting anything altogether unique from the band; you won't really get that. Some people will absolutely slobber over this album, but others will probably find themselves with a mere internet worthy, "meh." I really think that Alan Averill spikes up the performance about ten-fold, these guys would probably be quite plain without his unique touch; but as far as the rest of the disc is concerned, it's 1980's copy/paste. But if you're a Primordial fan, it kind of serves as a good appetizer for the next Primordial release. That atmosphere is still there, and I really think that's the major charm for this release.
I still recommend Twilight Of The Gods, especially if you've got to have an 80's fix done right. But don't expect much more than that, or you'll be disappointed.
(7 Tracks, 42:00)
Toxic Holocaust - Chemistry Of Consciousness (PR2013) - The new album from Toxic Holocaust is just as you might expect; a thrash album laced with harsh vocals. Though I really liked the band's last album, "Conjure And Command" I've got a feeling that there is little here other than the same approach that I got from that album. In other words, Joel Grind offers the same thing that he offered on his last release. "Rat Eater 3:43" manages to break up the monotony a little bit, but that monotony continues throughout the rest of the album. The songs are short, showcasing many of the same Slayer/Venom/Testament offerings that we've already heard before and it literally went in one ear and out the other. In laymen's terms, pretty much every song on this album sounds like the other but with added structural portions. Yes, there are still flying solos and the vocal performance is fierce enough; but the overall disc is just kind of bland to be honest. It's not a bad disc, it's not a good disc; it's just a decent death/thrash disc. I can't even find any highlights for the piece either. If you liked the last one, pick this one up too. It's basically the same album.
(11 Tracks, 28:00)
Cellador - Honor Forth EP (PR2013) - I haven't heard much from Cellador since they were briefly on Metal Blade and aired a song on MTV's Headbanger's Ball a few years back. Or maybe it was something on Fuse back when they still played metal. At any rate, I wasn't all that impressed with the song; yet I still saw potential in the act. Once again, that was many years ago. Today, Cellador proves that they're definitely worth keeping your eye on, as they've either run into an interesting fluke; or have really been honing their craft these past few years. This short EP sees the band attempting a style akin to Dragonforce, but I really think that the frontman, Chris Petersen carries the band much better than the ham-fisted approach of Dragonforce.
"Honor Forth 3:48" really shows the vocals as a major part of this band, but once again; it's not quite as ham-fisted as Dragonforce; regardless of the similarities. "I'm Omega 4:43" delivers on another strong chorus (love the backing riffs here too) and an nice twin-solo. All of these guys seem to be well-seasoned musicians, and I'm curious as hell why they aren't more popular. The band shows just on this track through powerful vocals, capable guitar shredding, noteworthy guitar play and intriguing keyboard work; that they're just as good as anyone else out there in the mainstream - if not better. "Unchained 5:00" shows more of the Dragonforce-guitars-all-over-the-place style, but it manages to reverberate well enough in my ears. I also like the idea that the main solo isn't quite something you'd expect from Dragonforce and has a bit of their own touch. It also features keyboard play (ala Galneryus) and that gets my blood pumping. "Conscious Defector 5:08" really comes off different, not even really in the same stratosphere as Dragonforce which is definitely welcome as it shows that these guys can do more than just the same reminiscent style.
The date on this EP is originally 2011, so it was probably recorded a few years back and I've no idea whether or not the band is still working on new material or not. I would hope so, as this is the sound of true power metal talent and I'd rather listen to these guys than other acts in their realm. Definitely the kind of power metal that I've no problem promoting or telling you to check out. This Denver Colorado (USA) band definitely hold promise, so if they're reading this - definitely don't stop doing what you're doing. It's that simple, that blunt. Keep going, this is rife with splendor.
Highlights: I'm Omega, Conscious Defector (4 Tracks, 18:00)
Eternal Judgement - Fatal Virus EP (PR2013) - These Canadian thrashers have been around for quite a while, and have even played with the likes of big name local acts like Cryptopsy and Quo Vadis. Though only one of the original members still remain in the band (Remy Roy), they still manage to deliver a "heavy as fuck" thrash sound that delivers a little bit of Canadian technicality and prog, as you might expect. Now it's not thickly there, but there are glimpses on this EP of those unexpected influences.
The disc itself isn't all that long, with opener "Fatal Virus 3:55" coming in strong enough, but not entirely starting to kick until "Powerdrive 6:57" which features an interesting introductory piece. The music definitely speaks for itself and shows that Fatal Virus aren't just another thrash metal act, despite the simplicity of the band's name. "War Planet 4:11" offers a slower pace, but manages to deliver a stronger performance than the first two tracks. Remy sounds quite young on the mic, seeming to utter a punk-like shout that seems like it would also do well in a Hardcore act. "Kill To Survive 3:40" comes next, but it doesn't really seem to do anything until the solo part. I mean, the vocals have such a youthful tinge that I don't think that seasoned thrash fan is going to go for it. They might think this is some new version of Sum-41 or something, which is what the vocals remind me of. The last song on the disc is "By My Own 9:45" which shows the progressive rhythms becoming more apparent in the band's music, with a bonus track that reminds me a bit of Pantera, complete with southern fried riffing. It's meant to be something of a joke, though.
Fatal Virus definitely have a bit of potential, but I don't think they're going to be for everyone. They speak to a more marketable crowd and feature a fun, retro-thrash vibe akin to acts like Trivium during their "thrash" era. The only difference, is that these guys actually have decent chops now and again, which they are able to prove. But if the right label seeks them out, they'll end up millionaires before it's all said and done.
Highlights: Powerdrive, War Planet, By My Own (5 Tracks, 28:00)
Casket/Sewercide Split (PR2013) - This eight minute split shows off two acts, one called Casket and the other Sewercide. They both seem to be death/thrash metal bands, but have their own style of doing things, so let's just get to the review.
Casket begins the disc with "Armed To The Teeth 3:38" which produces a raw sound that's slightly reminiscent of thrash, and mainly features a raspy vocal aside from a handful of guttural growls. There's a large breakdown in the middle which seems to slow the song down, I'm not sure if I should have to wait that long to get back into the action. Decent, but needs work.
Sewercide ends the disc with "Vector Of Disease 4:23" which sounds almost in the same style as Casket, except that these guys have a punk/core approach on the vocals. As far as the musicality, it's thrash. It reaches toward punk and has a bit of core influence throughout, so probably won't appeal to everyone as much as the Casket track will. But on the other hand, those who didn't like Casket might like Sewercide instead.
Both songs seemed to float over my head, but if you're interested in checking them out, then pick up this disc.
(2 Tracks, 8:00)
Cop Problem - Buried Beneath White Noise (PR2013) - Wasn't sure what to expect with Cop Problem, but this punk/hardcore band wasn't really too bad. The disc runs about ten minutes long and features a lot of piss and vinegar. "Bear Witness 2:34" opens with sharp punk riffs, unruly drums and a vocalist who could scream paint off the walls. But at least these guys try to add a few more riffs structures in their music than I thought they would. "From Within 2:48" lightens the mood a bit, but not in a good way. The song starts off quite melancholy, but builds up into a rather punishing number with a lot of promise. These melodies have a bit of sorrow to them, which makes the screams feel like they're genuine; the footman really seems to feel passionate about the topic. "Who Really Pays 1:37" is a quick number that features a hint of a guitar solo and even more angst from the band's wide-mouthed frontman. The band even takes a cue from black metal in one small portion of the track. Not too shabby. The disc ends out with "American Spring 3:15" which starts out with rough necked fury, but I like the latter half of the song, when the tempo and melodies change into something that definitely works for me.
Cop Problem isn't for everyone, but I definitely enjoyed their energy and willingness to jump out of the box. I hope these guys go far, they've definitely got something that needs to be discovered and I just haven't heard this kind of thing in punk/hardcore. At least not in the way it's done here.
Highlights: American Spring (4 Tracks, 10:00)
Imperial Triumphant - Goliath (PR2013) - Imperial Triumphant is a three-piece progressive blackened death metal act with bits of experimentation. They're one of those bands that might make you sick to your stomach unintentionally, due to the fact that their riffs seem to whirl around like a cyclone. Thick vocal growls seem to make up the vocal work on the project, while the drummer appears to do whatever he feels and the guitarist seems to follow in line with the frontman, who is also on guitar duty. The name of the game is of course, atmosphere; and I will certainly say that these guys certainly do a good job of making you think that you've fallen into some sort of interstellar vortex, with the time stream reverberating around you. I would certainly recommend this act to fans of Portal or Grave Miasma, even though they have the uncanny ability to make you nauseous.
Even so, something has to be said for the way that these guys create atmospheres. Obviously, there are influences in Portal and those are being done justice here; so once again I'm going to recommend these guys to fans of atmospheric death metal that spins you around quite a bit. Your head will feel like the head of the unfortunate gentleman on the album cover - squashed under the weight of the beast.
(2 Tracks, 13:00)
Markradonn - Final Dying Breath (PR2013) - If you're looking for something really different, check out Markradonn. They're essentially an eight-piece death metal marching band, complete with the usual metal elements and harsh scowls, but they also utilize the equipment that one would use in a marching band. It is a very different approach, with "Final Dying Breath 5:14" not only sounding quite demonic, but also quite triumphant; like the sort of death metal march that one would expect from these guys. "Internal Hate Unbounded 7:02" begins with a full on fanfare and goes through several changes until it meets up with a solo. The solos on the record are very extravagant solos, that show about four miles of shred; sometimes they even feel a bit out of place. But you've got to give these guys points for trying something of this magnitude. "No Redemption, No Forgiveness 4:27" sounds like an fanfare during a rain, I'm very much reminded of Bal-Sagoth in this aspect and that's a good thing. There are no vocals on this track, but it certainly would make for much better music than they normally play at parades. "Frenzied Winter Sorrow 5:23" shows off the percussion skills before entering in with the death metal elements, which don't sound as up to par as the marching elements. Folk elements actually appear on the track for just a second before another blazing solo. The disc ends with "Cathartic Spiritual Purgation 3:57" as it brings in a tribal sense of things, something that I've heard before but not in this instance at least; then of course there's a guitar solo and a didgeridoo.
Well, that's something you don't hear everyday. And it's quite refreshing. Though they pull off some interesting things, I still think a little more work needs to be done insofar as mixing. It's obvious that this work is a product of several different recording sessions and the metal portions of the disc don't seem to have been played during the marching portions of these tracks. But the hell with it, I've never heard anything like this before; so go check them out at least - just to say that you've heard a death metal marching band.
Highlights: Final Dying Breath, No Redemption No Forgiveness, Cathartic Spiritual Purgation (5 Tracks, 26:00)
Abductum - The Unrevealed Truth (PR2013) - Abductum are an interesting thrash band with a new and original look, but a classic sound. I'm quite reminded of Megadeth here, the melodies are very much in the same vein; but there is also the vocal element with does a good job attempting to emulate Dave Mustaine's unique approach to vocals. For the most part, these guys made a memorable thrash album with a classic sound and vibe that doesn't seem to outdated or too dry. The nature of the band seems to involve alien conspiracy, the cover being a good representation (and a great cover by the way too) of their lyrics. Even the band's logo looks very interesting, and comes in two different spatial themes.
The disc very much sounds like it was released in the 80's and retains a classic production sound that should sit right at home with fans of classic thrash, especially Megadeth; who you're not going to be able to help but hear. As funny as it sounds, these guys were able to craft one of the best Megadeth albums that I've heard in a while, especially since "Thirteen" and "Super Collider" seem to both have been flubs. In the end, it all comes down to whether or not I recommend it. And yes, I actually do. Abduction isn't just image; they've definitely got some good licks, stable drumming a memorable vocal style., They also have their way with solos and manage to slide progressive riffs in every now and again, even some technicality if you'll listen. It definitely sounds like a blast from the past and seems to be entirely worthy of that awesome cover. I do believe that Abductum's best days are just ahead.
Highlights: Turn It Off!, The Proud Pariah, Our Master Lie, The Unrevealed Truth (8 Tracks, 38:00)
Eternal Solstice - The Wish is Father To The Thought (PR2013) - After listening to this entire death metal record, I only have one thing to say. "What?" I'm being serious. This record would probably sound a bit better if it had been mastered a bit louder. I can't hear it. (Turns up volume.) That's better, now I can tell what's going on. Eternal Solstice are a death metal act with a very classic sound, that you could place around Entombed, Deicide, Suffocation and several others. It's nothing we haven't heard before. But I'm not going to knock an "if it ain't broke" approach to death metal, either.
These guys manage to do a great job with the disc, I just wish that it was a little clearer so that I could really make it out. It sounds like I'm listening to this in another room, even though I'm right here next to the speakers. The album itself is pretty straightforward however, and should appeal to fans of classic death metal like myself. Yet as I turn the volume up, I become aware of the problem. It's simple, the drums are too loud. The guitars sound heavily muffled, with the drums thundering over everything. They're just too much in the forefront, even over the vocals. The drummer must have really wanted to be heard, but no one else in the band can get really get a note or word in over him.
Well, I don't know what happened; but if you're interested in these guys, are just want to hear what the problem is - go check out the album for yourself. They've got an interesting logo and album cover; but the sound mix seems to have ruined the whole album for me. But sound mix notwithstanding, these guys definitely perform a decent enough job with the music. It's classic death metal, nuff said.
(9 Tracks, 34:00)
Polluted Inheritance - Betrayed (PR2013) - I really can't remember what I gave the last Polluted Inheritance album, but I really like this one. I think I had to listen to it twice to really soak it in, but it's definitely a keeper for me. They're definitely showing their technical death metal muscle on this one, with thick drums, scathing vocals and playful rhythms. This is very much the kind of album that one should expect for technical death metal, yet it still retains a warm and raw sound that hearkens back to the genre's early days. There aren't any real standouts on the disc, but it's definitely not a disc of stinkers either. Hardly. This is great material that I wouldn't mind listening to a few times over and I really feel that this album shows the very best of this band. I can actually feel a bit of chemistry on this album, like everything fell right into place for these guys; and you'd have to be deaf not to notice that.
It shouldn't take ten paragraphs to explain what one can hear with their own two ears and this album really does speak for itself. I'm under the assumption that the disc is either a re-recording of classic work, or that it's a remastered compilation of the band's older work - which sounds fucking amazing. If there's anything on this disc that really stood out for me, it would have to be the drum work and the vocals. But wait, the guitar work is excellent on the disc as well. There's so much structure within these twelve tracks that I'm still trying to pick up the pieces of my mind that have been shattered by what should be a more well known release, from what should be a more well known band. I don't even feel the need to run through the tracks or to name certain songs. If you're going to listen to one of these, you're going to listen to all of them. It's just that kind of disc and the seasoned metal vets know full well what I'm talking about.
"Betrayed" is an unearthed masterpiece of an album that I recommend to just about everyone, especially fans of technical death metal. Don't go without hearing it this year.
(12 Tracks, 42:00)
Grai - Warmot The Bitter Grass (PR2013 Reissue) - You might be a bit familiar with Grai already, if you're a regular on the site. I gave their last disc very high marks and considered them to be one of the more unique pagan metal acts out there. Well, the label decided to re-issue the band's debut, but I'm not sure if it has been remastered. At any rate, it certainly sounds of good quality and showcases the band at this earliest stage as well as a disc should. The production quality of the disc isn't quite as high as the last one, (and the band's latest release) but it's certainly worth listening to.
If you enjoyed the last disc as much as I did, then you'll find plenty of lighthearted folk atmospheres with definite metal injections and slight use of harsh vocal to be found within. "Meet The Summer, Red Summer 4:46" shows off some nice flute playing, while "Winds 4:08" opens into a ritual atmosphere. The female vocal element tends to be the main point on the disc, but as I said; there are slight uses of a heavier vocal style throughout what is truly captivating flute work, but passable guitar riffs. As far as metal goes, these guys really don't bring anything new to the table, the act surely would be just as great without the use of guitar. "I Will Go Into The Field 4:29" further asserts that claim, as the guitar seems to be much lighter in the approach, with shakers and flute being the main point of the track, at least until the track warms up with drums and riffs. I'm very much reminded of mid-era Cruachan on this one, but it's definitely not Irish influenced, as these guys are obviously Russians. I thought that Russia was pretty strict on religions, but I guess if these guys are getting by with pagan music; perhaps I've thought wrong. "Song Of Grief 6:56" features more of the harsh vocal element than the other songs thus far, as well as intriguing guitar melodies, which seem to right in line with the impressive vocal work of the band's front woman. It's definitely one of the album's strongest songs.
"Drunkard - Hellbenders 4:53" is next, and for the most part it sounds quite celebratory. There's a spoken word portion before the song begins, (as with most of the tracks on this release) but for the most part it is a very lighthearted instrumental piece with little vocal content. "Memory And Woe 6:05" oddly enough, begins with thick vocal gravel and doesn't introduce the normal female approach until later in the track. Synths and flute carry the piece as well as a clean vocal duet that is also featured on the track. Oh, the female vocalist also lets loose with some harsh vocals on this one too. And she's quite good at it. "Winter 4:13" brings the band back to it's roots, with beautiful melodies and angelic clean singing. It's a good breather from the heaviness of "Memory And Woe" but isn't without a light share of metal elements. "A Birch 3:24" is next, with a softer approach, but still a bit of fury in areas. The album ends with "Volga The River And Leylya-Maiden 7:34" which is the disc's longest track. It is much in the same vein as the other tracks, just a bit longer and with more instrumental showmanship. I'd say that it's just as good as the rest of them.
Grai's debut record is certainly worth checking out for fans of folk and pagan metal, as they do the genre justice with this beautiful, yet sometimes furious piece. It's not quite as heavy or bleak as you might think and like the last one; is full of delightful pieces that might just put a smile on your face and warm the heart. Odd of me to say so, but I'm saying so. The music here is of a very ritualistic aspect, it's very celebratory of nature and should vastly appeal to pagans everywhere, even if you don't like metal music. Since sex seems to sell these days, I might also mention that the two (three in one picture?) sirens from which bellow out the majestic harmonies on this record are also quite attractive, but in a respective fashion that doesn't require them having to strip down to almost nothing in order to sell records. So you've got beautiful women singing beautiful folk melodies to the gods and nature, and it's all backed by metal guitars with the influence of flute and occasional harsh vocals. Certainly a winner in my book.
Highlights: Winds, I Will Go Into The Field, Song Of Grief, Drunkard - Hellbenders, Memory And Woe, Winter (9 Tracks, 46:00)
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Rvaniy Shepot - Pohmelnii Rock (PR2013) - This Russian rock act seem to be quite popular in their native, making a version of heavy-punk accordion rock that apparently sounds quite vulgar (on some tracks) in their native tongue. The band's translated name means "Torn Whisper" and the album is translated as "Hungover Rock." They also consider themselves to be "muzhik rock" or "real man rock."
As far as the album goes, it starts out with "Pohmelnii Rock 3:58" which is actually quite catchy. The accordion actually goes well with the rock riffs and the vocals are strong enough to matter. There are also a few good solo pieces. "Yunaya Svoboda 3:42" is a little bleaker in tone, but still has some classic rock moments, whereas "Trezvaya Pyantiza 3:35" is straight-up rock and roll, with no discernible use of accordion. "Mechanism 4:07" brings cowbells into the mix, coming off as another mediocre rock track. The accordion finally comes back on "Pogulyali 3:26" which puts more of a Russian folk atmosphere into the music, making it unique. "Muzkaya Lirika 6:48" comes next, continuing the accordion-influenced rock, but taking down a more somber path. This one's a ballad. Though the song shows off a few good solos, it's a bit too long for me. "Pivnoi Cherep 3:25" sounds a little more towards comedy, it has that soft party rock feel to it; like there's a funny story being discerned in the lyrics. "Neznaya Poeziya 4:07" comes off the same way, making this type of music more of a radio quality nature. "Pamyat 3:46" is a bit of a rock ballad, with some whammy moments and an extravagant solo. "Sredi Nas 3:59" came at the point where I was getting bored with the similarity of material on the album. Then "Na Pyanom Uglu 3:25" came in with a change in tempo. It actually manages to carry off a punk nature on the latter half of the track. The last song on the album is of course, "Rvanii Shepot" which is the group's namesake; and features accordion and folk elements. It's actually quite a strong song and does justice to the band's name. I also like the accordion and guitar solo duet on the track. Just wish they would do more with that.
The band is going to release another album next year called "Lz Shepota V Grom" which translates to "From Whisper To Thunder." So if you like this album, you'll have that one to look forward to. Rvainy Shepot is certainly an intriguing Russian rock act. I'm quite certain that they're popular in their native and add an unmistakable Russian touch to their music in the form of accordion and folk elements. It's certainly a cultural experience that I think the curious listener would be open to. And yes, there are plenty of worthwhile guitar melodies and solos to be had on the disc. It's definitely a rock album, but certainly not for everyone. Still worth a listen though.
Highlights: Pohmelnii Rock, Pogulyali, Na Pyanom Uglu, Rvanii Shepot (12 Tracks, 49:00)
Bog Morok - Industrialypse (PR2013) - Definitely not a new band by any means, these guys have a lot of albums to their credit. Morok has done everything from black/death to doom/death to nu metal, cyber metal, goth metal and everything in between. This new album is more based on industrial metal, hence the album title. To be perfectly honest, this album is so fucking diverse that I'm going to have to walk you through it.
The first track is "Industrialypse 4:37" which is quite fast and heavy, reminding me a bit of Fear Factory obviously; but there are some heavy scowls in areas that break the clean vocal choruses. The lyrics on the album are for the most part in English, but it's kind of tough to discern it when in the clean tongue. "Gilese 581d 4:06" comes next, kicking up the grooves in the beginning; but welcomes a nu-metal approach to industrial that is a bit different from the opener. A nice solo is featured on the track, however. "Stadiae III" which is apparently a song to follow up "Stadiae II" sees the band reaching into many different hats, pulling out whatever the hell they like and using it. Nu metal riffs with death growls and light electronic parts with clean vocals? Though the track is in Russian, it's still quite catchy and features a slew of good riff melodies. These guys definitely have talent, I'm curious about their early work now.
"Neizbezhnost 3:18" definitely dials down on the industrial metal part, these samples are great. The song is definitely decent, with a few scowls to spice things up. "Hellstarter 6:02" is next, showcasing several different elements from thick riffing backed by harsh vocals to piano to clean vocals. Nice. "Shapeshifter 5:12" brings in that goth metal element that I was waiting to hear. It's got a good clean tone, and I like the fact that there's a harsh vocal backing there. Samples are good, guitar solo is magnificent, wish it was a bit longer though. They're doing some great experimentation here, I can't fault it. By the way, they throw in another guitar solo at the end of the track, which makes me feel better. "Bloodsucker 3:33" begins with a large Gregorian chant and some odd twangs as the drums come in bringing forth one of the heavier songs on the album. These guys very much remind me of a Russian version of Fear Factory on this particular disc.
The first of two Russian tracks come next, "Svet V Konze Tunelya 5:09" in which djent and harsh vocals are the forefront. This one's a slaughterfest, folks. Even when nu-metal riffs come into place, the vocals are fucking ferocious. That drummer really knows when to bring the thunder, and I appreciate that. But one thing I'll mention about this album, is that not everything stays the same way throughout a song. Things change and revert at will, so you really never know what these guys are going to do; which is intriguing. "Zvezdopad 4:05" comes next, the other song completely in Russian. It's much lighter, and proves my theory that the clean vocals sound better in Russian than they do in English. I actually wish they'd go back and do the whole disc in Russian, because I just think it sounds better. As for the song, it's a hard rock styled track with a worthwhile solo and great clean effort, as I've mentioned. I'm keeping my eye on these guys.
The next song is "IDDQD" which is the "God Mode" code for Doom. The vocals have returned to English, producing a sample laden industrial metal song with a clean vocal approach the sounds better than on some of the other songs. These guys definitely have it, this is a band that I would definitely recommend just on personal taste. "Undream 5:37" is the last original track on the disc, an unexpected ballad with slight harsh vocal influence and use of samples. A nice solo creeps up into the track however, as the clean vocals take over the track as best they can. But after that, there's a Fantomas cover of "Der Golem 2:33" where Morok uses his trademark "whisper-growl" and then goes into a wall splattering scream. This is a great cover, I'll have to hear the original though to compare.
Bog Morok is certainly an interesting act that is full of promise. They've put out many records already, discs that I'll have to check out for sure. They prove that they can do industrial metal justice with this one, so I'd like to hear their take on other genres and I recommend that you do the same. Check out this new album, and their old work as well.
Highlights: Industrialypse, Stadiae III, Hellstarter, Shapeshifter, Bloodsucker, Svet V Konze Tunelya, Zvezdopad, IDDQD, Der Golem (Fantomas Cover) (12 Tracks, 54:00)
Starsoup - Bazaar Of Wonders (PR2013) - I've got another Russian band for you, and these guys are just as full of promise as Bog Morok. (A heads up to the folks at Globmetal PR, these releases are very intriguing!) This is an odd act that combines the classical progressive nature of Dream Theater with a more hard rock style like Nickelback or Stone Sour. It's quite an odd combination, but is truly (and I mean truly) worth checking out. There's only two guys in the band, as well as several guest musicians (Lex Plotnikov (Mechanical Poet) Dan Mesheryakov (Nazgul Band) and many others.) Alexey Markov (Shadow Host, Distant Sun) is on vocals, guitars and bass duties; while Andrew Gryaznov (Timesquare) handles the keyboards and samples. Yes, I have to walk you through this one too.
The first song, "Angels 6:27" is a fucking progressive masterpiece. It definitely hits the Dream Theater influences, features a bit of harsh vocals in addition to noteworthy clean, features a bevy of thunderous and elegant riffs; plus it also features some keyboard freakouts. The chorus is also quite catchy. But after hearing something like that, you might expect the band to continue in the same fashion. But that's not true as "Ain't No Superman 4:23" comes in with a hard rock approach and a catchy as hell chorus that I had stuck in my head for a few hours after hearing it. Not a very long song, but it definitely delivers. There's even a brilliant solo piece. "Try 4:23" comes next, bringing that Dream Theater ballad sense to it. Though I feel that the song has an incredible solo, the piece is not my bag. But I'd be a fool to say the solo's not worth hearing. "Cradle Of War 7:01" also has a lighthearted sense (man, they really changed things up after "Ain't No Superman.") with added saxophone, eventually going into the progressive metal sense of "Angels." While not as strong as Angels, it's certainly worth hearing. "Rumors Of A Better Life 3:33" really tones the mood down, as it's the lowest point on the album in terms of mood. The song is essentially a depressing ballad. But damn it, I like it. The chorus is catchy and there are some interesting things done with folk instruments on the track.
"Past Bites 3:37" definitely brings that Nickelback/Stonesour style riff matter along for the ride, but with added keyboard bits. The song has a catchy chorus as well and should definitely appeal to hard rockers. Another chorus I got stuck in my head for a while. This is just a catchy album. "The City And The Stars 2:58" starts with a solo, that leads into a Dream Theater style ballad. It sounds like half of a song however, and I wish they had expanded on it. "Bazaar 5:41" is next, with middle-eastern influence that doubles for the riffs. Though something I've heard before, it's something that certainly sounds good here. The song has no vocals, but serves as an unreal instrumental piece that is just topping on the cake. Definitely worth listening to and could even do well as a standalone piece. The unprofessional thing to do would be to throw a bunch of excited emoticons and smiley faces on this track, but just suffice this description to be that. I was quite blown away by this experience and did not expect a track like this to appear on the disc. Suffice it to say, "Wow."
After the veritable mindfuck that was "Bazaar" the disc decides to go back into somber territory, particularly on the short "Voices Of The Wind." It's a nice little ballad however, with a great male/female vocal duet. The piano work is beautiful, but did we really need the harsh vocal here? Yeah, it's there and sounds a bit out of place. But other than that, this is an interesting piece that sounds like it could have been used in an opera. Starsoup is just brimming with potential. "Road To Sunset 3:54" sounds like a soft rock track with added saxophone. It's quite relaxing, the saxophone really does seem to bring out the best in the track. "Perfect Loser 4:56" throws more electronic elements into the mix, bringing forth an electronic rock track with a bit of blues, a solo and catchy chorus. That's quite nice. The disc ends with "Rain In The Desert 4:55" which is a light piano track with a rainy atmosphere that makes me think it could be used in a role playing game. It reminds me of some of the great music in Chrono Cross.
Well, there you have it. Definitely one of the more interesting and unique albums I've received. So many wonderful things are done on this album, even though a few songs aren't as great as some of the others. But still, an almost perfect score is highly warranted for this almost perfect release that features a band with more potential than they realize. When artists are able to utilize several different musical styles on one disc and end up excelling at every single one of them, there's something to be said for the skill and talent of these individuals.
I highly recommend this album.
Highlights: Angels, Ain't No Superman, Rumors Of A Better Life, Past Bites, The City And The Stars, Bazaar, Voices To The Wind, Perfect Loser, Rain In The Desert (12 Tracks, 54:00
Lost Breed - Save Yourself (PR2013) - As promised, I'm writing a review for the other Lost Breed album, "Save Yourself." But this album is much different, as it contains what I could best describe as a type of "southern fried doom" with hints of grunge, in the vein of early Soundgarden. Apparently, the grunge movement was a big influence on this album as these songs definitely switch from Sabbath riffs to stuff that sounds more like Corrosion Of Conformity. The frontman definitely, without any shadow of a doubt; is using a southern drawl which wouldn't be out of favor for a Creedence album. Of course, I'm hearing Pantera riffs here and there too, yet I'm also reminded of Down. I will say that this album is very much an original entity, it could be the very thing that inspired acts like Down, Stuck Mojo and Goddamn; so there's something to be said there. Just listening to the disc's opener "Circles 3:49" will give you as much of an impression about this album as you need.
Though a bit bland and rough, the disc is still quite catchy and will definitely appeal to fans of southern rock as well as it will fans of southern metal. It's certainly not a disc to just sit aside though, as hard work and effort was definitely put into this one; an effort to keep the band fresh - and it probably would have worked if more people had heard it. The riff melodies speak for themselves, the solos are furious and feel like they had a little of Dime's inspiration, perhaps even much older influences in classic southern rock. Whether you want to believe it or not, acts like Lynyrd Skynrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival definitely have their strong points when it came to guitar showmanship. You can actually hear those influences in "modern southern metal" even though the guys who are playing that stuff aren't even aware of it. They'll say Pantera, but don't even realize who inspired Pantera to take that style on in the first place.
I'm going to also be honest about this one. At first, I thought it was a bit monotonous, but maybe it's just because I'm a damn Yankee and have been in the south so long that I've developed a taste for the sound; but this shit is really starting to grow on me and I can definitely see how someone could get into it. Maybe "The Evil In You And Me" was a bit of a clunker, but "Save Yourself" definitely was worth the reissue. Each and every song is full of thick southern classic rock and blues influenced grooves, as well as that little hint of grunge - and it all works. I did mention that Sabbath riffs are still utilized on this album, like on "472 C.I. Of Death 3:48" as well as thrash on "Chop 3:19" which makes the frontman remind me a bit of Lemmy Kilmister in some areas; but I don't think these songs stick out as well as the southern rock influenced ones. As I get to the end of the disc, I find a band confused and not sure as to whether or not they want to continue making material that plays upon their classic rock influences, resulting in a disc of questionable content. Continuing in perfect honesty, I think that the disc was pretty damned good up until "472 C.I. Of Death" which is where the band decides to change styles. One style change would have been fine, but then they do it again and again and again, almost settling back on "Tonga Slut 2:59" and making some respectable noise on the closer "Up The Hill 3:16" which seems a successful experiment in grunge.
There's really no telling how many bands might have been inspired by Lost Breed's "Save Yourself." But even though these guys are long gone; their music certainly lives on in today's modern scene. I actually recommend that you check this disc out, regardless of the fact that they certainly suffered a bit of an identity crisis towards the end of the album.
Highlights: Circles, B.A.C., The Gears, Going Strong, Tonga Slut, Simulator, Up The Hill (12 Tracks, 41:00)
Final Curse - Way Of The Accursed (PR2013) - Final Curse is, quite simply; an experiment in modern thrash done right. The band certainly use a mixture of thrash and core riffs, making something that is certainly marketable; yet also remains true to the nature of the genre. The vocals are a bit harsher and thicker than early thrash, but will appeal to the newer audience wherein harsher vocals are used, sometimes even a few growls. The band considers themselves "100% No Bullshit Thrash Metal" but I have to say that core riffs do not thrash metal make. However, it's a pretty fucking good album nevertheless and does see thrash metal in a new modern light that is certainly skull-rippingly heavy and delivers all that I want to hear in the genre. Mike Plowman's vocals are certainly believable, and they're the kind of vocals that I personally like to hear in thrash metal. He sounds venomous, but doesn't have to reach into extreme metal realms to prove the viciousness, saving his chords in the process.
Some of the tracks feature more gallop, "Biltmore 6:01" while others seem to stew in the ancient juices of thrash "Reaper Of Justice 4:02" and "Rage Around Your Neck 5:14." But others like to play with new school technical riffs like "Replace God, Conceal The Beast 4:09" and there's also a mostly acoustic instrumental called "Ghostbones 3:55." Yes, it's worth hearing; especially when it starts to warm up. The whole thing ends with "Is There No Hope?" which is anti-elite, so I definitely dig that. But not only that, it has a believable amount of anger and rage. Like these guys are actually upset and believe in these lyrics. But they should be. I wonder if any of them has signed up for Obamacare? Apparently the chips come next, or so they say. (Puts tin-foil hat on.)
Final Curse are just the kind of band that I'd like to represent, all messages aside. These guys definitely do a great job of bringing thrash into the modern element with a strong vocalist, thundering drums and yes... no bullshit riffs. The solos are also as powerful as you could expect, or should expect from a thrash album. I'll end my review in the same way it started: Final Curse is, quite simply; an experiment in modern thrash done right.
(9 Tracks, 43:00)
D.A.M. - Human Wreckage (1989 Remaster PR2013) - I wasn't very familiar with DAM at first, but the fact that they are a notable English thrash band was reason enough for me to check this one out. Unfortunately, this album doesn't showcase the talents of a young Dave Pugh, who would later go on to join Skyclad and make heavy metal history in the process. He wasn't featured until the band's next release, where his presence is surely felt. But as for this disc, there's really not too much I can say about it. In other words, the material featured here was quite run of the mill in terms of thrash. I mean, there's a few strikes of thunder on here like "Left To Rot 4:56", "Total Destruction 4:18" and possibly the disc's best track, "Infernal Torment 6:03" which sees an ominous atmosphere an performance that isn't offered anywhere else on the disc.
I'll also mention the sheer uselessness of intro, "M.A.D. 0:26" and "Vendetta 0:48" which might be one of the shortest thrash tracks I've ever heard. The same can be said with the album's closer, "F.O.D 2:08" which despite some good tricks, definitely felt out of place. To make it blunt, D.A.M. sound just like any other thrash band for that period of the 80's, but it's also safe to say that "Human Wreckage" might have been released a little too late, as by then there was already the start of the grunge movement; which tried to kill thrash. Until it was later absorbed and used as part of the arsenal. While it is a remastered piece of thrash history, I don't necessarily think it's all that great.
But that's where "Inside Out" comes in...
Highlights: Left To Rot, Total Destruction, Infernal Torment (12 Tracks, 46:00)
D.A.M. - Inside Out (1991 Remaster PR2013) - I originally wanted to review this for NN, but because it came out in 2012 (regardless of the fact that I got it in 2013) I'm not going to be able to do that. So I apologize. At any rate, "Inside Out" is the D.A.M. album that really got my attention, and that would have to be due to the addition of Skyclad's Dave Pugh. While you're not going to hear it on "Man Of Violence 4:38" it soon becomes apparent on "House Of Cards 4:52" and continues on until the intro. "House Of Cards" is when you start to hear slightly unconventional melodies and the sound of a band breaking away from standard thrash-fare. But not only that, as this album also contains some of the best thrash solos I've heard in years; and some damned impressive melodies. Not to mention what they're doing with atmospheres on this album. "Appointment With Fear 4:28" adds a slightly creepy sort of riff element, while introducing another hefty and thickly structured solo piece - again, listen to the fucking solos on this record. I don't particularly care how you get it, or even if you stream it off YouTube or whatever; just as long as you hear some of this work for yourself.
"Thought For The Day 7:02" is a bit slower in nature, but allows more room for atmosphere and solo work, of which is highly proficient on this album. (Go listen to this disc!) "Winter's Tear 7:12" is a bit more chilling, but seems to erupt with thrash fury that reminds me of some of the work I've heard in early Iced Earth. The drums begin to increase in fury, creating a truly memorable thrash track in the process. Jason's vocals are also spot on for this one. "The Innocent One 6:07" comes in with more of a thrash vibe than the other tracks have had, but it does manage to change tempos, (again, I'm all too reminded of Iced Earth here and will almost have to assume that Schaeffer and crew jammed the original master of this disc one too many times - "Night Of The Stormrider" and "Burnt Offerings" damn near steal from this material in all honesty; also listen to what Jason does with the high notes on these tracks, reminds me a hell of a lot of what Matt Barlow did) providing more strong atmosphere. "My Twisted Mind 5:23" comes in with just as much thrash muscle as the track that preceded it, but features a smidge of unconventionality that separates it from being a "Human Wreckage" castoff. "Circles 6:11" is a strong song, lyrically - it has to do with the hustle and bustle of being a worker bee in the cogs of the machine. Yet it also contains some incredible solo work, as can be expected on this album. "No Escape 4:02" actually begins right with a solo, one that sounds Neoclassical in origin. "No Escape 4:02" also manages strong solo work, but the rest of the song isn't as strong as some of the others here. "Beneath Closed Eyes 6:18" contains several different changes within, cementing itself as a strong intro to the disc. It's quite horrific in scope, sounding like the thrash equivalent to a horror soundtrack. The last track is just called "Inside Outro 1:33" and is a somber acoustic that seems to serve as a good final thought for the band.
So there you have it, D.A.M.'s "Inside Out" featuring the majestic work of Dave Pugh on guitar. As you can see, his presence really livened up things on the disc; and those solos are downright impeccable. While not the best thrash album I've ever heard insofar as song strength, I will certainly say that this disc has some of the most memorable thrash solos that I've heard, as well as atmospheres. Iced Earth seems to have taken quite a bit from these guys, as you can hear it on their more respected albums. But I do think that Iced Earth took the style and ran with it, as "Dante's Inferno" is quite reminiscent of some of the work here, yet at a much greater level of craftsmanship than even some of the best songs that this disc had to offer. But, if you want to hear where it all began; then this album is certainly a good start.
Highlights: House Of Cards, Appointment With Fear, Thought For The Day, Winter's Tear, The Innocent One, My Twisted Mind, Circles, Beneath Closed Eyes (11 Tracks, 57:00)
Woslom - Evolustruction (PR2013) - Woslom are a Brazilian four-piece that seems to be capable of making worthwhile thrash metal. They're an independent act that definitely has plenty of firepower going for them. Though I couldn't get into Silvano's vocals at first, I slowly warmed up to them; also realizing that the band had more instrumentally to offer than I was currently expectant of. I will agree that "Evolustruction 4:13" wasn't the best song to open up with, however; because most people will hear it and not be that pleased, even though the song that comes right after "Haunted By The Past 6:30" is a veritable lesson in all things thrash. It's this song that should have opened the album with a thick thrash assault that is ultimately memorable and unforgettable. "Pray To Kill 2:59" continues the thrash assault, chugging it's way right along and playing the Testament/Metallica approach on vocals. The only difference is that Silvano screams "Pray To Kill!" as the drums thunder that thick edged chorus down. Woslom definitely don't fuck around when it comes to crafting song structures and you'll hear a lot of technicality in this thrash. But don't be discouraged, because it's still thrash, and this extra structure does nothing more than to make it come off even stronger.
"River Of Souls 4:37" brings off the Megadeth sense of things, but it takes a little while to really hammer down on the thrash. "No Last Chance 6:33" comes on a-chugging still reminding me of Megadeth, but truly delivering in the solo department. I guess I could consider it a highlight. "New Faith 5:03" sees these guys full of fury, which is definitely a good thing. This is the kind of thrash that definitely gets the head banging and the horns up. Then comes "Breathless (Justice's Fall) 6:07" which comes off as a solid thrash track. At this point, it's not really necessary to fly through every track; but we're almost to the end so I might as well finish. "Purgatory 6:28" is the album's end before any bonus content, and it certainly manages to deliver, along with some eerie acoustics and solo firepower. Towards the end of the track, the band goes into a sort of frenzy and the disc ends on that same uncomfortable acoustic. As for bonus content, the physical disc includes a Mad Dragzter cover of "Breakdown 3:20" which I can't compare to the original, as I've never heard it. Suffice to say that they do a good job with it. On the digital copy of the album, an alternate version of "Evolustruction 4:53" is included with alternate lyrics. But I still don't think that this is their best song and an alternate version doesn't seem to prove me any different. The only other difference is an extra solo piece.
And there you have it, Woslom's "Evolustruction." The band definitely prove that they've got the chops, even though some of the tracks here tend to not kick as much as some of the others. Again, "Evolustruction" just isn't as strong a song as the others, but they'll probably manage to do something with it live. They certainly make strong enough thrash though and it's well worth checking out for all fans of the genre, regardless.
Highlights: Haunted By The Past, Pray To Kill, No Last Chance, New Faith, Purgatory (10 Tracks, 50:00)
Blackout - We Are Here (PR2013) - Blackout are an experimental post metal act consisting of three musicians, namely two stoner dudes and a chick. They make a very open and somewhat transient version of post metal that begins with the tribal thunder of "Indian 5:07" replete with droning vocal lines, almost in a sort of ritualistic fashion. "Amnesia 3:19" then follows much in the same fashion, but with less of a tribal sense and more of a sludge sense. "Smoker 6:17" is where things get thick and altogether weird, certainly sounding good in the right light. "Columbus 4:24" comes off as just completely thick and almost boring in a sense. It really depends on how you take your post. "Anchored 4:25" is a bit slower and filled with those same odd vocal reverberations. I'm not sure what this guy is singing about, but it's quite out there. A slight jam session gets tacked onto the end of the track, which makes it a little more interesting. "Seven 9:29" is really much of the same, just of a greater length.
Well, I'm not all that impressed by Blackout. They're okay, but could do a bit more with this. They love walls of sound and that's all well and good, but so do so many other acts who do more than these guys are doing on this disc. In my state, our scene is based in this style so I hear quite a bit of acts like this who actually perform much better than this. I'm not saying it's bad, just that it's bland. There's nothing here that I haven't already heard before and I'm ready for them to try new things.
(6 Tracks, 33:00)
Slave Zero - Disambiguated Visionary (PR2013) - Slave Zero are an Irish four piece that revel in mixing together grindcore, hardcore and death metal. This new album is considered by the band to be their most progressive work to date, and though at first that might not appear so, it becomes readily apparent further in this short disc. "Mathematically Legitimate Solution 4:11" sounds like standard grindcore fare with a gravel vocal approach (and this mad little Leprechaun guy who seems to holler into the track as well, making it even more unique) that backs pummeling drums with a slight air of progressive riffs. This is unexpected, but it works for the band. "Limitless Peripheral Perspective 4:20" brings on a more progressive style of drumming, while the vocals seem to cycle between Leprechaun screams, hardcore shouts and thick death gravel. Do all of these guys sing in the band?
Alright, now here's when things get interesting. "Embroidered Strategy Of Calculated Misrepresentation 5:29" (try saying that three times fast) brings on a further realized sense of progression, along with hints of technicality that reach into a spatial solo at about the 2:45 mark. The song certainly makes itself something of a highlight, particularly the unexpected outro piece. These guys are definitely going into a bold new direction with this one. While "Oscillating Perceptions Of An Abstract Existence 3:11" doesn't seem to push things too far out of the comfort zone, the last track "Anthropic Landscape Theory 5:39" sees these guys with an unrealized amount of intrigue. These melodies might not suit those looking for a grindcore bashing, but they certainly seem to be a step in the right direction. There's also a featured solo on this track, which shows the band is trying to be more than just your run of the mill act.
Slave Zero are certainly trying and this album shows them reaching out into new realms. While I don't think it's for everyone, this disc sounds like it's only the beginning for a promising new act. The score I give here is just a placeholder for something that might reach out far grander when a fully realized LP is later released. But this is a good start, as represented by my score for the album. Definitely worth checking out. Please keep in mind that a "7" doesn't mean that an album "sucks" as one might say, it just means that it's decent enough and worth a listen.
Highlights: Embroidered Strategy Of Calculated Misrepresentation, Anthropic Landscape Theory (5 Tracks, 22:00)
Mongrel - Snakes (PR2013 Single) - Well, every now and again there's the strange instance where one of the bands that I review here becomes a major household name. In other words, major labels are taking interest. One such act is Boston's Mongrel. The band is set to release their first major EP, (as in, the one that most people won't become aware of until the debut releases on a major label and then it'll all be rare as hell and highly coveted material) "Evolution" (not to be confused with the band's earlier EP's and 2010 full length which will be on eBay for hefty sums of money after these guys get the four-star treatment) in 2014. Until now, the band has released a free single called "Snakes 3:10" which you can get from their Bandcamp page: http://mongrel1.bandcamp.com
The band's forthcoming EP was recorded by Jim Foster (P.O.D.) and mixed by Dave Fortman (Slipknot, Mudvayne, Otep, Evanescence, Soil) and mixed by Howie Weinberg (Metallica, Pantera, Nirvana, The Cult) and I'm flabbergasted that these guys are really hitting the big time. As a matter of fact, they'll be playing with Danzig, Doyle, Otep, Butcher Babies and a lot of other huge bands during the Rock And Shock Festival, which of course will drum up even more label interest. They've toured with many bands that I considered gateway acts, but still fucking listen to at near 30 years of age, (old habits die hard) and some newer acts as well. These guys are getting high praise from many notable media outlets, and their video for "C and a 1/2" was given an exclusive premiere on the Revolver magazine website. That's about as high up as you can go. Well, there's Rolling Stone. But that's probably not the kind of magazine who'll deal with these guys. I mean, Jay-Z was in that thing. That's not even rock music.
As for the song, the quality is definitely much higher. considering they've got top of the line studio guys. The band definitely has their punk/metal approach down on the track, with the front woman's vocal approach coming off very catchy. I think this could go on the radio actually. It's very marketable. "Snakes" is definitely what sells in the music industry. It's actually kind of funny, because I used to listen to more commercial/radio stuff when I was younger (and to some extent still do) and I know what appeals to people who enjoy that kind of music and buy those albums. I've always been a huge Mudvayne fan, same with classic Mushroomhead (and don't even quiz me on the early work, I've heard it) and several others in that category. I take one listen and I'm basically hearing a new and catchy trend that's going to make Mongrel so big that they'll be able to remove the "1" from their bandcamp page link. Well, they won't even need that anymore either. Might even see these guys on the black carpet for the Golden Gods. Yeah, that's what I'm sensing here. It's balls-out punk/metal with a strong female lead. I think it's gonna hit hard.
But the best thing about it? It doesn't suck. If an when that major label debut does come out and it gives off the same vibe as Reclamation/Snakes, then you can be sure that this canary will sing a sweet song of fucking praise. But, if it sounds like something that just ain't them, I'm gonna hover around it like a vulture and constantly squawk about how horrible it was and how they had "so much potential."
Enough of my bullshitting. Just grab the track, and "Reclamation (2012)" if you haven't already heard it.
1 Track (3:10)
Kantation - Kantation (Band Request 2013) - Kantation sent me an advance promotional release of their new "self-titled" release for review, so I recently sat down and gave it a listen. These guys are composed of several well known and not so well known musicians, namely; Martin Debourge (vocals) who was known for being a former member of Torman Maxt & Damien Thorne. He also worked with Bryan Beller of Mike Keneally, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai & Dethklok fame. His other projects are Head Transfer Process and Quester. Also, Nano Lugo (the guitarist and brainchild of Kantation) who has also played in Shocker, Roxxity & Caravan and Brian Khairullah (bass) who has also been in Vengeance Rising, Jupiter VI & Deliverance. He's known for the "Weapons Of Our Warfare" album. Finally, we've got Acacio Carvalho (drums) who's part of the Brazilian band Vougan(shared the stage with Anthrax, Twisted Sister, Ratt, Saxon & Skid Row) and has also worked with Jeff Loomis and Steve Smith (Nevermore) & Karl Sanders of Nile. There are also some special guests on the album from Mindwarp Chamber, The Tenth Illusion, Head Transfer Process & Ojo Taylor.
Alright, so from what you've seen here, it's obvious that there's definitely some notable talent on the record. These guys definitely seem to do a great job on the disc, but I can't say much for the production value of the disc. I'm not sure if it's been mixed yet, but it certainly doesn't sound like it and could do with a good mix. Everything feels kind of rough, but it shouldn't; not for the level of talent on this album. While the very first track on the album "The Maze 5:25" doesn't quite hit for me, even though Martin really tries his best on it; the next track "Free 5:31" really hit well for me as a particularly strong and catchy ballad. With better production, this one could kill - and I think it would do great in a live setting. "Free" is one of those songs that does more than deliver on it's chorus. It's memorable as soon as it hits, showing that Kantation have tremendous potential on this album. Not only that, the song continues to soar with a powerful solo. Nothing makes a strong ballad better than a powerful solo. That's the reason why I still jam "Shiva's Tears" (Brainstorm) even after all these years, because it's a memorable track with a strong chorus and solo. That's what these guys have also attempted here, successfully.
"Make Your Mark 4:23" unfortunately comes off a bit haphazard, Martin sounds like he's all over the place in the beginning, but does manage to let loose with some powerful vocal lines. Nano's playing is decent enough on the album, but it reminds me of the guitar sound used on the Megaman X8 soundtrack, which I thought was a little warm and rough for a game. I think many things need to be brought up in the album, it really screams for a new mix. "Feeling Lost 4:38" does manage to deliver a bit better performance however, reminding me a bit of Nevermore (once again, I'm reminded of the debut Nevermore album) and managing to include a worthy solo. "Cry For Me 4:12" comes thick on the thrash riffs, (but still contains a bit of prog melody here and there) while Martin's vocals seem remarkably high for the rest of the mix. It seems like he's singing over the whole band, drowning most of them out. "Distant Eyes 5:00" manages to come off a little more powerful, again Martin is killing it; there's no doubt. The chorus is truly memorable as well, but I just think the rest of the band is a little low in the mix. Why is Martin so high in the mix? At any rate, this song is another highlight; but on a disc with so few of them. "No Way Out 5:34" seems a bit thicker, but also manages to show a decent performance with a good solo piece. "Ride 3:58" closes the album with another memorable chorus and solo, but it's not quite as strong on the other highlights on the disc. Again, I think it would score better if it hadn't been so upfront as far as vocals.
When Kantation sent me this disc, they wanted an honest review. So that's what I'm going to do. I looked on my review score chart and thought about it very heavily before I decided upon my final score, which isn't great but is fitting for the release in so far as I have heard. But before I get to that, I will explain the things that I have found wrong with this album. First of all, there is no doubt that all of the musicians here are skilled and do a great job as far as each respective job in the band is concerned. My only problem with Kantation lies in the mixing. I really wish I had been there when the thing was mixed, I just feel like the guy had no idea what he was doing and there are just "things" that should not exist on a properly mixed album. Martin Debouge uses a high pitch vocal that is unmistakably loud from the get-go. It doesn't need to be raised so high in the mix. And if it wasn't raised, then it certainly needs to be lowered. The drums need to come up, I can barely hear Brian Khairullah on the kit. The guitar needs to come up too, as Nano Lugo seems to do nothing but fade into the background. He only really seems to shine in his solos, but that's because we can only hear him when he is doing the solo pieces. I'm not sure about the bass, because I really couldn't tell. Perhaps it was too high, or too low - the riffs certainly were thick, but they just weren't loud enough. Because the album mix is bad, it doesn't really do justice to the musicians. Now I know that I'm going to get an email from the mixer/producer claiming that "I have no idea what I'm talking about and have no experience mixing an album" but my ears can tell the difference. Maybe it's my Aspergers, but I really get quite anal about things like this; so I guess that's why people come to me (I wish I could split myself into two to be able to listen to and review all of the albums that you send me, but I am certainly trying!) for reviews of their work.
There are a few songs that just didn't do much for me however, like "Make Your Mark" or "Cry For Me" one of which is available on YouTube for your listening pleasure. But I can't deny that "Free" and "Distant Eyes" show good signs for this band. Martin sung his ass off, but perhaps too damned much; drowning out the whole band in the process. So I've got to be frank about what I've heard and even though there are hits, there are also misses. It is not a bad album, but not exactly a great one either. It's just kind of in the middle. But they will further gel with more effort and hopefully the next album will be a bit stronger. Is it too late for a new mix?
Highlights: Free, Distant Eyes, Ride (8 Tracks, 38:00)
Planetary Disobedience - Consumption (Band Request 2013) - Having fallen into the peculiar "Gay bad stuff" genre of metal music, I have to say that this album from Planetary Disobedience is quite good. In other words, it's not bad but I couldn't tell you whether or not it was gay; as I'm not sure if music has a sexual preference. (Makes me wonder if mixing two songs together is an act of marriage. Technically, it would be.) At any rate, the performance on this disc is certainly appealing, at least to me; but I don't see anyone else running this Tower, so I guess that's all that matters. Damn, does that sound arrogant. Of course, there are other metal reviewers out there that you can check out (more than I knew existed) and get an alternate opinion on the music.
Enough beating around the bush. Boy, what a preamble. In reality, the music that I've been offered is a type of progressive death sludge that is certainly worth checking out. There's actually bits of melodic death metal here - hell, it's in ways comparable to Sculptured (but not on that level yet) as it seems to traverse many different realms. "Antilectual 2:47" begins the album with a little bit of everything, even some blast beats; but the sludge vocals definitely still remain. "Face Of Deluge 5:07" opens the album for longer songs and more experimentation. The song itself seems to offer a great helping of hostility, just the sort of thing that is useful for brushing off a bad day; even though it does contain a slight acoustic and a blink and you'll miss it solo. But I'll certainly say that the song manages just fine without it, and that's definitely a highlight in my book. "Born In Blood 3:10" is a bit quicker in delivering a beating, you'll get a few more lashes from this one than the last offering. They still play with grooves (and definite post metal influence) among the other things that you'll hear here. I will say that the amount of experimentation that these guys are doing is certainly promising. They might not think much of it, but I do. Having heard thousands of albums, I guess that might mean that I have just a small inkling of what I'm talking about (or hopefully, anyway.)
"Conceit 8:55" is the longest track on the disc, so they must have thought it to be something. Love the melodies on this one, a bit sorrowful; gives off the feeling of doom. Reminds me of my current project (you didn't hear that) and that's a good thing. (Hint: It's an artist that I've reviewed on this site and that is all I will say.) The track actually kicked up a bit after the doomier notions, but definitely manages to elicit the same amount of anguish. I think this is the song that really hit me the first time I was listening to the album, just kind of stopped everything and felt it. There's a bit of an atmosphere at the end, good use of electronics; that's a great sign. Plenty of promise here, I'd sign these guys in a heartbeat. "Peripatetic 8:03" gallops a bit, delivering a thick vocal delivery that encroaches upon thick gravel (which always seems to back the melodies for some reason) but manages to incorporate a much longer solo piece than the rest of the tracks so far. It continues to include a stripped down section that one wouldn't expect and a melodic atmosphere that really seems to hammer down the track as effective and worth giving a shit about. "Somnium 5:43" is next, playing with shoegaze riffs at the beginning, as eventually they are brought back into another great track. But is it the shoegaze riffs that attract me to the piece, or the harsh vocals that back them? Ah, well. It's not that important. An acoustic jam out session follows shortly afterwards, seeming a bit out of place but yet adding structure. Of course, then we get a worthy solo right after that. A shitstorm ensues shortly after, eventually enveloping right into the shoegaze backed chorus portion. Hey, I can hear the fuzz in the background, so I know how this guy recorded his vocals now. Well, it makes me feel a bit better about doing the same (especially when you are broke and can't afford good equipment.) "The Beginning 4:59" featured a slight black metal injection, which is always welcome in my book. I think everything would be better with a slight black metal injection, even women.
It's like this. You're sitting as a passenger in the car one day, and all of a sudden Katy Perry comes on with some song about candy or the army, and you're like "holy shit, I can't believe I have to listen to this." Your wife/girlfriend or just a friend with benefits is behind the wheel, singing along to the horrible cancer, when all of a sudden you remember that you have it - a slight black metal injection. Carefully, you remove the small covering from the needle in your pocket, just making sure that you don't accidentally prick the tip of your finger with the sinful sauce of evil; and then you gently pull out the syringe and stab her in the arm. The car stops, as her whole body begins to shake. A flash occurs and then when you look at the woman, she's now covered in a thick veil of corpse-paint, and her clothes have been replaced with a vintage Venom t-shirt while the radio station has mysteriously been changed to Emperor's "Cosmic Keys To My Creations And Time." Instead of the normal drive home and the accompaniment of ten thousand excuses as to why she can't have sex with you, the woman drags you up the stairs as she chains you to the bed and pulls out a series of thick iron lashes. You know, the kind that Christ was beaten with. Then she precedes to lash the living hell out of you, while pleasuring you at the same time - (because pain and pleasure are the tenets of human experience after all) as you pass out completely unaware of what's next. When you awaken, it's as if nothing ever happened. The black metal injection must have worn off. Did you forget about dinner? The kids? Well, so did she. You're going to have a hell of a mess to clean up after this. But it was better than having to sit through Katy Perry.
The final song on the disc is "Third Night 2:14" which is a bonus track, but definitely not my favorite; I just don't like the breakdown riffs in it. Good thing it's just a bonus track.
At any rate, Planetary Disoberdience is certainly not in the "Gay bad stuff" category that one might place Kanye West, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and whoever the fuck that guy is who sings "Radioactive." Man, I hate that fucking song. Unless the "new age" is referring to a post-nuclear aftermath, or fallout; in which everyone would be radioactive. In that case, he shouldn't be so happy about it. Unless he wants to die a very slow and painful death.
Getting back on topic, I actually recommend this album. Yes, it's pretty fucking good and quite entertaining. The obvious influences are there and have been noted, but this is obviously the sound of a man who truly doesn't give a flying fuck about trends and makes the kind of music that he wants to make. We need more artists like that, so I wish Planetary Disobedience the best of luck in all further endeavors and recommend that you all go check out this interesting, yet rather angst-ridden material.
Highlights: Face Of Deluge, Born In Blood, Conceit, Peripatetic (8 Tracks, 40:00)