Saturday, December 21, 2013

Week 94 (December 21st, 2013)

Rolling out more changes for the Tower, but this will be the last of them. I've been getting a lot of promos lately. And when I mean a lot, I mean a lot. I am not physically able to carry on with a life and review all of these at the same time. This does not mean that I'm not going to try to review all or most of these promos, but it does mean that I'm only going to elaborate on albums that I think are particularly noteworthy in that they're good, unique or horribly awful. If an album is run of the mill or just plain decent/solid work, then it will get a five sentence review. Which isn't bad, because some reviewers don't even do that much and refuse to review albums from bands that they don't like. That's not me. I'll sit through anything.

Personal submissions and physical promos sent to me will always be fully elaborated upon. If you're paying the postage to get it to me, then I am truly grateful and will show you that with a deep review. Splits will also have elaborations as well as very small EP's and albums from big name acts. But just keep in mind that it is easier for me to review albums this way and gets the word out about your material much faster. You don't even want to know how backed up I am right now, so this seems to be the best solution to fixing my problem and eventually getting to work on my next novel.

If you sent me a personal submission and it accidentally gets marked as a five sentence review, then let me know and I'll remedy it in the next week.


Cokegoat - Vessel (PR2013 SPOTLIGHT ALBUM) - Birthed in the fires of punk, but forged in the steel of thrash and death metal, Cokegoat is definitely worth checking out. "Fear The Followers 4:46" had a bit of screamo/punk vibe at the beginning, but the riffs meldoies got darker and started to slow to a halt as churning death metal growls began to change the whole mood of the piece. "Buried In The City 5:05" has a bit of a sludge/stoner vibe to it, but with an odd and gravelly touch to vocals. There's definite doom here, so I guess we'll say that this mix was also tempered by the hammers of doom. It later falls into complete chaos. "Dogs 6:31" brings on a atmosphere that really hits when the chant "...these bones don't hold me up, the wings don't make me fly..." culminates into a harsher rendition. That's when you've got to bang your head. But listen to that - there's a groove melody! One of the heaviest portions of the song, and someone's still got enough time for a little groove melody.

"End Of Your Life Pt.1 5:17" sees things punishing, with the onslaught of extremely oppressing vocal lines backed by extremely oppressive riffs. I also think I'm starting to hear a little bit of keyboard here, but it works. Hey, this is what I mean when I say experiment. I think I'd go see these guys live. This is some really thick shit, then you've got the chugs that start develop in the later part of the song - "this is the end of your life!" being screamed, and hell - I just have to describe it. This is definitely the sound of modern metal at it's finest. Yeah, and they even found time to offer up a solo. "End Of Your Life Pt.2 5:06" comes back in with the doom melodies, as it offers a really intriguing male harsh vocal/female clean vocal duet. I mean, there's no fucking words for how good this one is. "Fly By Night, Pt.2 5:40" comes in pounding, but there's definite finesse to the drumming as the punk-laden vocals come in, but the odd thing about the track is how it changes modes to a light melody piece before jumping right back into the heavy stuff. Then there's some electronics, and then a solo. I'm definitely impressed. "Fly By Daylight 5:23" is a lighter offering, but it still has a hint of doom in the riffing, as female singing decorates the track backed by harsh vocals. It's definitely a heavy track, despite the lighter approach. The disc ends with "Glorious Dead 5:52" which starts out a little creepy, but seems to keep a sludgy vibe about it. It ends the disc with the same amount of unbridled punk fury that you would expect, making for an excellent overall release.

There is little more I can say about an act with as much promise as Cokegoat. They're actually a six-piece band, which would explain all of the different mixtures of sounds and ideas laden within the disc. I'm really surprised that no one else is covering these guys, they're clearly better than many bands I've heard who are getting coverage in magazines like Revolver and Decibel. I guess the world isn't ready for a mixture like this yet, but I sure as hell am.

(8 Tracks, 43:00)



Sanity's Rage - You Are What You Swallow (PR2013) - These Belgian thrashers hit me hard from the very first listen, though I'll say that opener "You Are What You Swallow 5:31" wasn't the track that hit me. "Aberration Mandatory 5:10" was actually the first track that convinced me of the power these gentlemen hold, with thick drumming, angst-ridden vocals that sometimes get backed with death metal growls and an overall air of rage. Which begs the question, "why didn't they open the album with this one?" At any rate, "Kisses With Fangs 3:00" comes in like a quick storm of flying shrapnel, as "Shackles and Shades 4:31" continues the assault with welcome grooves and a memorable solo. If I can say anything about Sanity's Rage, it's that they're a thrash band that I wouldn't mind keeping my eye on and I'm curious to hear their future work.

But let's continue with the album, because this one isn't going to be a five sentenced review, hell no. The album continues to ravage my ears with "The Wheels Keep Grinding" a song that goes on a little longer than the others, but proves it's weight in prog melodies, which do in fact feel right here. Sanity's Rage know how to concoct a song, their composition skills are quite strong and they make thrash that doesn't come off as boring fodder. Though it's still a bit rough as far as production, these guys make the kind of thrash that made me give a shit about bands like Sabbat and Iced Earth. There is so much promise from the band on this record, that it's insane. Sure, they're not playing around in too many other territories, but the manage to create phenomenal work with a toolbox through of chugs and memorable melodies; not to mention the frontman who couldn't be more perfect for the band - Kenny Molly is an absolute godsend to the genre of metal, but I'm afraid that people don't know it yet. Hopefully this review will get the word out. There's no point in even continuing to further explain this album, if I haven't said enough about it to make you curious; then you must just not like thrash metal.

I highly recommend You Are What You Swallow, so get your fucking hands on it now. This is what thrash should fucking sound like, as far as I'm concerned.

Highlights: Aberration Mandatory, Kisses With Fangs, Shackles And Shades, The Wheels Keep Grinding, Trinity Of Sorrow, Taste Of Decay, Once You Cross, Thumbs Up For The End Of The World (11 Tracks, 47:00)



Motorhead - Aftershock (PR2013) - Motorhead's new album is just as you would expect, full of thrash and groove and blues... Yeah, you got it. There's fucking blues on this record. If you don't like it, go piss off. Blues is an excellent influence, has been used in rock music for ages now; so it's only right to hear a bit of thrash, a bit of blues and a bit of classic rock all lumped together on this new record, which could only be described as a definite aftershock. The album begins with the thundering "Heartbreaker 3:05" which sees Lemmy and crew doing what they know best and it never fails. This is why we love Motorhead, and after all these years; they've still got it. "Coup De Grace 3:45" is much in the same vein, but it's still a great song - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Now when we get into "Lost Woman Blues 4:09" things change up a little bit, and damn if they're not romantic. This actually reminds me of some of the bluesier work that I've heard from Dio. Hey, don't deny it. It's there. And I will tell you as a fan of music, that there's not a thing wrong with this one. As a matter of fact, it's got a nice little solo and comes off as an excellent tribute to the greats that inspired it.

But if that was a bit too much for you, the thrashier "End Of Time 3:17" brings back the heat on the album, as "Do You Believe 2:59" brings in the dirty rock and roll. With such a good performance, how could you possibly hate Motorhead? They do metal, rock and blues justice on one album that's less than an hour. Let's see you try it. "Death Machine 2:37" has an odd groove to it and doesn't hit as hard as the rest, but that's where the soft rock of "Dust And Glass 2:51" comes in. It's definitely not what we're used to, but it's certainly not bad and stands out from the others in same way that "Lost Woman Blues" did. The band obviously reached into the past for this one, and they pulled out some great material when they did. "Going To Mexico 2:52" didn't really do much for me, but "Silence When You Speak To Me 4:30" is the longest track on the disc, mixing in rock grooves with some metal inspired antics. "Crying Shame 4:28" follows the same pattern, showing more rock muscle and less speed; but still manages to deliver a solid performance. "Queen Of The Damned 2:41" brings us back into the realms of rock-fueled thrash, as "Knife 2:57" brings us right back into rock. "Keep Your Powder Dry 3:54" unfortunately has me confused, even though it's rocky nature is quite strong. The last song on the disc is another thrasher, this time it's "Paralyzed 2:50" which makes for a good end to what is hopefully just another disc in the band's discography as more are set to follow. Lemmy said that he'll definitely make a few more of these, in addition to his solo material which will have another artist I reviewed as a guest on it: Skunk Anansie. Apparently, he's quite smitten by her work and I'll admit that her last album really had some bite, so looking forward to seeing how all that will come together.

Aftershock is a strong release with some definite standouts in "Lost Woman Blues" and "Dust And Glass" being much different than anything we've heard from the band in recent years. They're definitely going into more of a rock territory, but there's nothing wrong with that, as they prove that they've still got it; long after other stone age acts have long since called it quits or are still trying to milk their old catalogs for all they're worth. But it's like Lemmy says, "Buy it if you can, download it if you can't! Just listen to it!"

Highlights: Heartbreaker, Coupe De Grace, Lost Woman Blues, End Of Time, Do You Believe, Dust And Glass, Silence When You Speak To Me, Paralyzed (14 Tracks, 46:00)



Mental Killing Spree - Centrifuge Of Man (PR2013) - These Germans play some pretty mean death/grindcore, even if their English is just a bit broken. But who cares about that? The disc is filled with a thick film of bass and drums that only decorate the harsh riffing and memorable vocal gravel. Almost all of the tracks on the album consist of blazing gut-churners like "Lymph Node Monstrosity 3:54" and "Centrifuge Of Man 3:06" but there is one experience in slow torture by the name of "Creator Of Hatred 5:23" which sees these guys perform a worthy example of slow torture. Though the disc is a little light with the solos, it more than makes up with an unbridled display of aggression that will resonate with you in unforeseen ways. One minute, you're just walking down the hall, and the next you're banging your head during a furious breakdown. Then you turn around and realize that you're still at work.

Mental Killing Spree show that they've got serious potential with this noteworthy exercise in death, groove and grind that should see quite a few spins in your vehicle as you go down the road while banging your head and hopefully not causing a fucking accident in the process. They don't stand still for too long, which makes for memorable songs that don't come off as boring or plodding as with other bands in this genre. The fact that the drummer has really got his shit together also makes for a good album, as a drummer's performance can really make or break these kind of records. The frontman does his absolute best on the vocals, sometimes backed with a scowl; while the guitarist churns out riffs that we've all heard but won't dismiss as he uses a certain finesse that doesn't make them come off as just the same old thing. These three gentlemen really seem to know what they're doing, which makes the album quite lively.

As a reviewer, I've heard thousands of records just like this one that just come off as stale, alright or just plain out boring and forgettable. When I hear music like this, I want my head to bang and I want to feel the aggression, the grooves and the vocals. So many times have I heard bands that just sort of make a fog, leaving their album to go in one ear and quite literally out the other. But I think I can always find time for music like this - it doesn't even matter what song you play; each one of them leaves you with a good impression of the band's strength. While Mental Killing Spree did not reinvent the wheel, they did not need to; as they've done a commendable job with the death/grind mix that they've offered here.

But in much simpler terms: These guys want to bash your fucking head in, so prepare yourself for a battering. This fucking kills!

Highlights: Creator Of Hatred, They Still Have A God (10 Tracks, 42:00)



Harm Wulf - There's Honey In The Soil So We Wait For The Till (PR2013) - Created by an odd individual who hides his face behind a wolf mask; Harm Wulf is essentially a melodic acoustic project with a definite sense of folk atmosphere, and just plain atmosphere in general. Imagine Agalloch at their folkiest, but without the black metal and you've got it. "Oldfur 3:35" brings about a dark acoustic mood, while "Silk Soul 3:44" offers a bit more percussion. Some songs exist mainly to encapsulate these moods, like "When Old Becomes New 2:47" but at it's core, the album resonates a very natural and deep emotional sense. Obviously, it's devoid of heavy riffs and frantic screaming; but will be a reliable disc for those of you who just want remove yourself from all of the more brackish music out there and experience something that is a bit more personal - this comes off almost like a journal, opened wide for your observation.

(9 Tracks, 36:00)



Corrections House - Last City Zero (PR2013) - Some of the hands who helped to form Neurosis, Minsk, Yakuza and Eyehategod are a part of this industrial rock project, so if that interests you, then you should probably pick it up right now. But read over that again, just for clarification. Got it now? This is an industrial rock project from some of the guys in Neurosis, so you should already know what to expect from the work: Atmosphere.

You already know the players, and chances are that some of you have already heard the album or have just finished listening to it well over a dozen times already. But there's no doubt that Last City Zero comes off as a very intriguing industrial project. The first track on the disc is "Serve Or Survive 8:14" which carries definite early NIN and Skinny Puppy (more so, since Skinny Puppy influenced NIN) influence as well as amazing atmosphere. "Bullets And Graves 2:39" is a bit shorter, but definitely reminds me of some of Trent's heavier work on Downward Spiral, or Ministry at their most ferocious. It's such a change in mood though, that you won't expect it. "Party Leg And Three Fingers 6:56" throws the mood completely downward, bringing the bipolarity that NIN was known for. But there's definitely the ritualistic atmosphere here, amidst the frantic shouts and militarism. The bottom line is that these guys have made a successful industrial album, and they've paid tributes to the greats of the genre.

"Run Through The Night 4:03" was probably one of the low points on this album for me, as I just didn't get the mixing of southern acoustic folk and electronics. Though I understand what the band was doing here, this electric cowboy just didn't work for me. "Dirt Poor And Mentally Ill 6:05" brought the sound back into Skinny Puppy realms, almost to the point of infringement. I had no idea that these guys could come together and make a new classic Skinny Puppy track. "Hallows Of The Stream 4:03" brought the damned southern folk influences back into the mix, making me wish these guys would make up their mind. What kind of album do you want to make? Cold industrial, or electronic southern folk?

"Last City Zero 5:05" I found the most interesting, as it's spoken word poetry that is worth listening to, of course it also makes me want to pick the author's brain so that it could be further explained. Some of it doesn't even seem to make any fucking sense after awhile, but it might be the fact that he's just mixing all of these labels together, hence the comment that "labels don't matter." I guess he's trying to say that we're all just full of our own shit and we're all fucked. Then we've got "Drapes Hung By Jesus 9:40" which is an aggressive, mostly instrumental piece with the same Skinny Puppy vibe. But here's what I think - there's enough material (industrial material anyway) on this album to have made a solid industrial EP. It all would've been self-contained. I think that these guys felt it was too short, so they threw some other material on the disc to give it more flavor. Would've been better split into two separate sessions. Give me the industrial shit to praise, and the other shit to sit through and criticize. At any rate, these guys cook up some mean industrial and I can't disregard that. Though I've heard it before, they certainly offer up a respectable dose of cold steel. Just wish there had been more of that.

Highlights: Serve Or Survive, Bullets And Graves, Party Leg And Three Fingers, Dirt Poor And Mentally Ill, Last City Zero, Drapes Hung By Jesus (8 Tracks, 46:00)



Judgement Day - Circumcision Of The Martyr 1994-2000 (PR2013) - This death metal band went through quite a bit of changes throughout their six year tenure, and usually it's always interesting bands like this that bite the dust early on in favor of new trends, like the emerging metalcore trend of the early 2000's (at it's peak in 2004) which would eventually spawn deathcore, djentcore and several other thousand types of core that we all know. But this isn't about core, it's about death metal, which is what Judgement Day have offered with this release. "Horror Pain 7:25" starts us off with a light thrashing, the drums certainly the prime point of the performance with an inclusion of a solo backed by an even nicer melody near the end of the piece. This kind of transformation was unexpected for the time and makes the band stand out from the beginning. "Daily Rituals... 4:29" starts out just the same as the last track, except when Death style progression begins to form, giving the songs a certain degree of structure that was virtually unknown in death metal music for that period of time. "The Old Tree 7:52" shows even more ubiquity from the band, opening the music to slower passages and female vocals. But it's still death metal, I promise! At any rate, we've gone through three songs so far and all of them have been noteworthy.

The next song has me vaguely curious, as it's entitled "Sexual Intercourse 5:31." So are there lamentations of women? Yes, but then after those lamentations comes the death metal. I'm curious as to what the lyrics could be about this one, but I think it's supposed to be an pro-lust ordeal, hence the lyrics "The sin does not exist." In other words, they're saying that it's no sin to fuck. There's also a nice solo featured in the piece, which just sort of climbs it way in there. Then it goes right back to bashing your brains out. Nice! Then we have "Invincible Downfall 7:57" which features more melody and prog elements than ever before, however it does them with finesse. Judgement Day really seem to have known what they were doing insofar as the material I've heard and I hope that people won't cast out this album because it's a bit dated. They still say that some of the best things have already been done before. After that, we've got "Clouds Of Mordor 4:05" which begins with the sounds of battle and probably features a lyrical nature that my colleague in Torii would enjoy. The song is certainly well-structured, just as with their other material and doesn't seem to get boring. "Pathology Of Crowding 6:47" has a believable flow toward the middle, there's a "dark melody" that really caught me, which utilized the vocals there perfectly. Oh sure, they got back to bashing; but at least they have shown that they can do more than just blast the hell out of the drums. A solo is also featured, but it sort of faded; I don't know how that happened, but I would like to hear it re-recorded if possible. It sounds like it would've really killed to be honest.

I'm breaking this paragraph because the band changed at this point. They started playing shorter tracks, with higher quality and focused more on the death metal element. There is still structure, as "Near Death Experience 4:07" contains some incredible spouts of vocal gravel, as well as... what I thought was a solo. Damn, now here's where the disc starts to flatulent. While they have the brutality down, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what happened to the some of the greater moments. Again, the structure is still there; but it's a step back as far as I'm concerned. "A Soul So Pure 4:08" picks things up a bit, while "2012 A.D. 4:18" is an exercise in percussory blasts. There are some good things about this song, but it just features a bit too much concrete for me. "Obliterate 4:44" at least begins with some worthy melodies, but they seem distant and pushed into the background with the stone golem getting all the vocal credit. Now I realize that you went through a great deal of trouble to summon a stone golem from the hoary abyss and taught it to sing death metal; but the poor guitar player might as well be playing anything, because I can't hear him over the drums and that monster's otherworldly groans. When "Final Judgement 3:48" comes in, I start to think that this part of the album is starting to sound a little bland. I mean, the new Obliteration and older Obliteration album both kill this thing. There really is a way to strip death metal down into it's most Neanderthal of nature, and it would seem that Judgement Day did just that on this later record. Granted there's a respectable end piece on the track, but it won't save them. "March Of The Apocalypse 2:00" ends this mistake with a decent, but almost lifeless instrumental. After this one, I can see why the band bit the dust. It's like they first offered me liquid gold, then started to offer me liquid salt. Which nearly killed me.

The first forty four minutes of this disc are unforgettable. There's no question about that. But the other twenty three minutes are absolute garbage that's about as bland as hell and completely soulless. But to be brutally honest, the first forty four minutes of this disc are so brilliant and re-listenable that this compilation is worth buying, just to have them. They're really that good. I don't know what the fuck happened, but it clearly caused the music to suffer later in their career. I'll give an eight for this piece, but keep in mind that it opens with several minutes worth of pure gold that was worthy by itself of a ten.

Highlights: Horror Pain, Daily Rituals..., The Old Tree, Sexual Intercourse, Invincible Downfall, Clouds Of Mordor, Pathology Of Crowding (13 Tracks, 67:00)



The More I See - The Disappearing Humans (PR2013) - The More I See is now a corporate thrash band, pure and simple. They might have not been in the beginning, but there's no doubt that these guys are plodding around with the Metallica style of making thrash accessible. But that's not all, folks - and I just have to elaborate on this one because I can't believe it. Not only are there watered down thrash tracks on this thing; but there are also hard rock ballads that are radio ready in a second. "Mourning And Melancholia 4:54" (despite the solo, which I will give him points on as it's better than what Judgement Day did on the second part of their album) is a catchy as hell pop-metal ballad that sounds like it's part emo, part hard rock and part metal. Which is kind of fitting, as it embodies the modern music hodgepodge of sound. Then you've got "7 Deadly Sins 4:24" which comes right after it and sounds like Trivium did this year.

"Spirit Of Freedom 5:08" has a bit of punk to it, then we go back into the pop-soaked ballads. Granted he delivers them well enough to melt the hearts and wet the panties of women worldwide; but he's definitely speaking to the that "beautiful language of money." Forget that "The Disappearing Humans 5:49" exists too. Then you have the band's single "The Eye That Offends 3:38" which is on the end of their record and one of the shorter tracks (remember that short tracks are easier for radio stations to play.) on the disc. It sounds like thrash-era Trivium, just like the major thrasher on here (dare we say thrasher?) called "Alone You Will Enter 7:58."

Despite the fact that The More I See Are Making thrash for the kids who think thrash is old and maybe MIGHT get a few into the real deal, going back and discovering old albums or hearing new albums from old bands; I really don't think that the veteran metal head will find much here than ridicule. As a matter of fact, I will put that to the test; so we'll see whether or not these guys appear on the blank page. He hasn't updated in a while anyway.

(11 Tracks, 51:00)



Heart Of A Coward - Severance (PR2013) - Alright, you can crucify me now if you want to; but this djentcore band wasn't all that bad to me. They had the right idea as well as presentation, even though they're still ass-raping Meshuggah. The tracks aren't all that long, (most of them clock in around three to four minutes) but they manage to get the job done with the right amount of angst. "Monstro 3:33" is a great way to get things started, with "Distance 3:58" opening the mix for clean vocals that are actually delivered with a certain amount of passion. Granted, this isn't for everyone - but it's definitely something that I could see myself listening to while performing labor, which is what I was doing while I listened to it. I'll also mention "Deadweight 3:45" which manages to get pretty thick at times, the vocals heading into death metal territory.

The album tacks on a bonus concert performance that includes well executed live versions of these songs and others at the 2013 Download festival. And yeah, this stuff does sound better live. I'm not a huge fan of breakdowns, but it's hard not to get into them when they're blasting in your ear. Kind of hypnotic. Did they patent that yet? Whatever the case, Heart Of A Coward is deathcore with it's hands thickly in the angst of hardcore and I guess that's why it resonated with me. There are some great melodies here and there and the frontman is full of piss n' vinegar - a full bottle's worth. These guys really don't seem to give a fuck and that's how I like it.

Highlights: Monstro, Distance, Deadweight, Eclipsed, Severance, The Download Festival Concert (17 Tracks, 68:00 - Album is 38:00, Concert is 29:00)



Derogatory - Above All Else (PR2013) - These four young Brazilian technical death metallers definitely blow away anything that you played back in your high school garage band with this raw and heavy disc that reminds me much of bands like Suffocation, Dissection and Obscura without all the cleanliness. From the first listen of "Into The Depth Of Time 3:55" I'm getting a barrelful of drums, vocal gravel that's about a coarse as can be - as well as punishing riffs and manageable solos. The album features some finely structured songs, but they're not so structured that they carry you into other atmospheres. There's also definitely the influence of thrash, which adds meat to the overall performance of the album. Derogatory still have some work to do, but if you've seen how old these guys are; then you'd be impressed just on that factor - so it's still a reputable release with certain promise and I look forward to hearing further progression in the future.

Highlights: Into The Depth Of Time, Twisted Aeons Of Burning Galaxy, To Escape What Is Now (9 Tracks, 38:00)



Valkyrja - The Antagonist's Fire (PR2013) - A friend of mine summoned this one up pretty well and said that Valkyrja were simply "just good black metal." And after hearing this thing, I'll certainly have to agree. These guys know how to write frost-covered riffs with authentic black metal melodies, yet they've also got a competent drummer who isn't just set to blast. Out of many black metal acts, it's usually bands like these that I really flock to. I've no problem with the old sound; but to hear the modern implementation coming off as pure and venomous as this; there's just no comparison. This is as good as the new Negator album (Gates To The Pantheon) was to me and that's saying a great deal, because I really dug the fuck out of that record.

Valkyrja is what black metal should sound like in the current age and they capture the angst and nihilism perfectly. This is truly cold music, even though musically, it's definitely an inferno of no-holds barred chaos. This is what the last Nagelfar album should have been. It doesn't really require ten thousand sentences to describe, as the melodies work well with the structure of the songs as the vocals merely add the topping to this deliciously evil cake. Valkyrja is an album that I will remember from this year, as it gives me the right amount of evil groove and relentless power that I expect from this genre. Though the songs are long, there's nothing on here that overstays it's welcome or feels out of place. It's a solid run that manages to satisfy in it's less than an hour playing time, offering up no surprises or distractions to the music. It's just good black metal.

Of course, that might be the nail for some of you; since maybe you were looking for that atmosphere or that section of rabid blast beats, or maybe something that doesn't have as much melody or rockability to it. These guys definitely don't mind throwing solos into their music either, which I guess that some people won't like. But I'm not one of those people, as I could listen to this album from beginning to end and enjoy the living fuck out of it. This is what I consider to be my personal favorite type of black metal album, a kind of disc that comes off remorselessly heavy and elicits a series of involuntary bangings of the head as well as several fierce air guitar bouts. And yes, I do sometimes play the air guitar at home while listening to metal. Especially stuff like this, where the riffs are sharp and the melodies are filled with fire.

While not reinventing the wheel, they've made an album that I'll definitely be plucking songs from to put on my personal play list. If you've got to have a taste of modern black metal at it's absolute finest, then definitely pick up The Antagonist's Fire.

On another note, I completely hate the way this band spells their fucking name. It's the most confusing fucking thing from a band that doesn't even have anything to do with pagan, heathen, or viking metal. Even though they've been around for about eight years, I'm hoping a bigger name comes along with the same title and forces them to change their name to something more fitting of their music. Come on guys, can't you think of something else?

"The band has, despite the name, nothing to do with pagan, heathen or viking metal. This has been stated several times in various interviews." - source

(7 Tracks, 48:00)



Hell/Amarok - Split LP (PR2014) - Here we have a split EP from Hell and Amarok. There are just two songs here, albeit long; so I will describe each and have an analysis of the disc as a whole shortly thereafter.

Hell (and this isn't the UK based Hell) starts us off with "Deonte... Oblitus... Dolore 18:37" and it sounds like a very raw sort of death doom, but with some absolutely scathing vocals, like a little gremlin was being tortured in the band and it's cries of agony were recorded onto the album. Perhaps a tortured soul, which is truly what this sounds like. The band goes into fits of drone that later evolve into doom wherein the monster screams in agony for a while more before the track switches to a haunting classical piece. Quite invigorating. If I was very upset at someone or a certain thing, I would probably listen to this in order to pour out my frustrations in a secure fashion that wouldn't see me behind steel bars.

"V - Red Oak Wisdom 20:43" is much in the same vein, but with a dual vocal style that allows for a mixture of death growls and the same tortured screams, yet with a higher production quality that some might not like as much as Hell. Even so, the performance is certainly viable; there's definite post metal influence laden within this doom and it seems to come off quite well, and very fucking depressing. If you were at wits end (and some of us are during the holiday season) then I imagine that this would help quite a bit. As with Hell, there are also light moments but not so much in the vein of drone as they are with a brooding sort of classical, perhaps Baroque period music. The end of the track features a bit more sludge in their doom, which should appeal to fans of bands like Rwake or The Atlas Moth. Just with much thicker vocals. Though I wish the growl would be used more, I'll let the guy who wants to scream do so. I do both on my record too, so someone is probably saying the same damn thing...

"Gee, I wish he used more death metal growls."

But I guess that's the funny thing about reviewing music and being a musician yourself. And by the way, I'll add a bit more death metal, but only when needed. Back to Amarok, I definitely think that this mix of sludge, doom and classical is right up my alley, as it should be yours. In all honesty, this is a pretty solid split if you like your music uncompromising and pretty damn interesting. Get your ass to the store and buy this fucker. Or buy it online or whatever. I have a strong feeling that this disc is going to do well.

Since I already summed my thoughts up there, you get the idea. It's not for everyone; but the people who love it are really going to love it. Hell and Amarok definitely have potential and I'd like to hear more from both of them. One song works for getting all the shit out of your system, and the other throws a kitchen sink into the death doom and sludge mix by throwing in that obscure bit of classical. This is why we buy split albums, folks. Two great songs from two great bands and it clocks in at close to forty minutes. Grab it and put a copy in each of your little one's Christmas stockings... And that's why I'm not having kids.

(2 Tracks, 39:00)



Bonesaw - The Illicit Revue (BR=BandRequest2013) - The guys in Bonesaw have been patient as fucking saints and I applaud them for that. It's just that I've been backed up and I'm working on it. If you send me your shit, it will get reviewed eventually and I do mean that! As for the disc, I'm offered nine tracks and about thirty minutes of music, which is basically a demo. But these guys know what they're doing - they're playing strong death metal with plenty of promise. The vocals are thick, the drums clatter about and the guitars aren't afraid to let loose with a fucking solo because it works. Nothing on here feels forced, and it feels like a death metal act that's ready for action. "The Forging Of Year Zero 3:35" comes across like classic death metal, with "Riot In The House Of Worship 2:24" carrying obvious punk influence and a strong overall performance. "Grave Insult 4:10" slows things down a bit, bringing a definite feeling of dread which is only heightened by the well-though vocal performance. There's a lot of ways that he could carry that song, but the fact that his vocals matched up to those grim melodies just right, making it fucking evil. It's all about the performance and timing, something I usually beat myself up over because I want it to be fucking perfect, or as close to perfect as it can be.

"Instant Classic 1:50" is an exercise in brutal death metal that comes off speedy and offers no real flavor to the disc, but it gets saved by "Crafted Deformity 5:48" which brings down the thunder in sections which amount to memorable bits of gore. The drums are blasting so thick here that things even get lost in the mix, but it's still a well-crafted performance that surely sounds even better live. The same can be said for "Granite Hell II 4:09" which starts as a basher, but goes into some very odd territory that I quite welcomed. You know what I say about experimentation. I also like what he's done with the vocal lines on the melodies that lead up the eventual prog mind-fuck on the piece. Then from there, things begin to really pound down, bringing forth one of the best songs that these guys have to offer. The next song has the wonderful title of "The Stench Of Dead Dirty Ass 2:23" which brings back the punk influence. These guys really do a great job of mixing punk and death, reminding me of Autopsy. Which is a great fucking band to be reminded of. "The Illicit Grotesque Revue 5:40" starts out with doom as grim as the mountains of fucking Mordor, but then after an exercise in death metal; the track begin a bit of a jazzy experimentalism that I am speechless towards, giving it a major thumbs up. This is the kind of shit that matters and really makes Bonesaw stand out from the pack. Then they resume to bash the shit out the track. The last track on here is "Satori (Part One) 5:55" which I'll probably be googling to find out what that is. Admittedly, it begins to sound like an anime theme. A very heavy anime theme, with doom elements. Jesus, someone fucking sign these guys! This mix of anime and doom and death and evil is just what the doctor ordered and makes Bonesaw stand out from the fucking pack. I highly recommend this one.

So what more do I need to say? Tired of the same old brutal death? No? Well go fucking check it out anyway. This is what I like to hear from bands, new stuff that hasn't been tried. They are reinventing the fucking wheel but aren't there quite yet. Still, it's an absolute must in my book.

Highlights: The Forging Of Year Zero, Grave Insult, Granite Hell II, The Stench Of Dead Dirty Ass, The Illicit Grotesque Revue, Satori (Part One) (9 Tracks, Approx. 34:00)


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