Friday, January 3, 2014

Week 95 (January 3rd, 2014)

We're moving! New details as they become available. Trust me, as it will be for the better. Nothing will change other than the address and the layout. My hours have also went to shit as far as my day job goes so I'll have enough time to sit and home and take on all the backlog now. That being said, I might not have to do the five sentence review format now. More coming next week!


Warbringer - IV: Empires Collapse (PR2013 SPOTLIGHT) - At first I was under the impression that Warbringer was going to be just another one of these modern retro-thrash bands, not having heard any of their prior work beforehand. And from album opener "Horizon 3:57" that certainly seemed to be the case, despite a growing sense of musicianship. What I didn't expect was the addition of black metal and melodic death metal elements into the act which really helped to make what sometimes come off as angry core screams, come off much stronger in retrospect. But even though "Horizon" contained a fantastic finisher, proving that the band were capable of much more than what they've previously shown; the following track "The Turning Of The Gears 2:54" should've just been trashed as it's essentially the same old, core-laden shit devoid of any real skill (except for some decent melodies) that media giants love to pump out and call metal. This is that one song that an interested person will hear and then turn themselves off from the band due to its "flavor of the week" nature. People have short attention spans these days, so if you throw in a cookie-cutter track, you're going to get that kind of reaction. The next track "One Dimension 4:10" actually throws off a punk vibe, differentiating it from the previous two songs and bringing a new style to the music that comes off surprisingly unexpected. "Hunter-Seeker 3:54" brings back the thrash, opening right up with a solo as a very dark natured piece emerges forth. The darker death metal elements of this track really start to shine through, as do prog injections and frankly a band that I'd much rather like to hear. The song's actual solo piece is also incredible, so whoever in the hell is responsible for that, give him a cookie and put him on the cover of Guitar World. I think I could do a better job on the vocals than this guy (he's not nailing the scowls during the black metal sections) but other than that - it's a bang up job.

Next we have "Black Sun, Black Moon 3:11" which plays with thrash and power metal, yet adds a bit of darkness to the mix. Again, the band has become better than the singer, they need to throw this guy back into some core act and get someone a bit fiercer; maybe the guy from Illnath or something. But he can do punk, I'll give him that. That's why songs like "Scars Remain 4:27" come off so well, as they have that punky/core vibe to them. The band actually inject several different ideas into this song, making it come off fresh and entertaining. "Dying Light 4:47" is next, playing with a bit of black and thrash which always works for me. Make no mistake, this is a black/thrash track with a guy trying his very best to make due with it on the mic. Maybe they're trying to make black metal more palatable to a core audience... Oh, right. Kvelertak. It's certainly a good track, just depends on how much you can take the vocals. At least he's trying to compete and can hit those high notes in areas, so that works.

"Iron City 3:28" is a much harsher take on a classic metal influenced thrasher, and it certainly comes off just like you'd expect. You know, a little bit of "Whiplash" with some harsher riffs. The songs about drinking beer and playing loud music. Comes with a bombastic solo and works, I guess. "Leviathan 4:41" brings back the death metal influence, more in the vein of Insomnium than Grave of course; but they also inject it with a grandiose solo, something like you might expect on Metalocalypse. The track also comes off that way, but I can't deny the melodies on this one. It does a great job of serenading the ancient beast, adding some grim tones into the mix that make the effort come off even more threatening. "Off With Their Heads! 1:36" is speedy track with enough anguish to burn down a city, yet it's also got those "put that guy on the cover of Guitar World" solos. He noodles around with it ala Tom Morello, which provides a unique addition to the solo. The disc ends with "Towers Of The Serpent 4:25" which really sends the disc off on a fascinating note - complete with even more of these memorable solos (make them a bit longer next time, guys) and a worthy death meets thrash meets core mix that cements this disc as either a weird fucking fluke, or a band to watch.

I'm still kind of stumped as to how these guys pulled this one off. I had even been told by a friend before the new album came out, "Warbringer's just some boring modern thrash band." Then I heard it, and later he heard it and we both became rather puzzled. "These guys got good." is what we sort of agreed on, as odd as the sounds. Surely it's possible for a modern metal band to do this - any of these modern metal bands to make a monolithic leap like Warbringer have made here; even In This Moment might have their chance to do it now that the Lady Gaga mystique is wearing off - but it's something that only happens once in a blue moon. I highly doubt these guys will be able to pull off another album like this one and if they do manage to one-up this effort; then I'll definitely add them to my list of "bands to watch who used to be crappy, but aren't anymore." Then again, it could just be an unexpected peak in their career. Nevertheless, I do recommend this new Warbringer album as it is the best modern metal album that I've heard all year. (As far the underground, I'm still undecided.) At any rate, be sure to pick it up, now that the sales are going on to clear out excess stock for 2013 albums. I'm sure you'll find one available!

Highlights: Horizon, One Dimension, Hunter-Seeker, Black Sun Black Moon, Dying Light, Leviathan, Towers Of The Serpent (11 Tracks, 41:00)



GOG - Ironworks (PR2013) - Described as Noise, (also dark ambient, which I like better - just add industrial) Arizona's Michael Bjella recorded this irony ode to the death of the American dream inside of a 19th century Blacksmith's shop; (also known as a smithy) where it has been heralded his "most political work yet." While that might be the case, it's certainly not easy to gain political insight from the piece; as it's an instrumental record without even a hint of vocal. Well, maybe just a hint.

However, it does provide a gloom-ridden atmosphere to the future of American industry (with quite a bit of sad piano) and makes me think of the dystopian future world that we're almost certainly heading into. The sound of metal and machines are vividly heard, as well as a quick smattering of guitar. When it's not depressing, it's full of angst; yet in not the way you would expect as the machines bellow fury and disgust for their creators with their rabid roars and steely cries. Though not an awful long piece, I'm sure that those who yearn for a mood of depressed industrial will find something in this vivid clarion call to the death of humanity.

Highlights: 1870-1906, God Says To Love You In Chains, A Promised Eternity Filled With Cancer, I Draw My Strength From You (6 Tracks, 42:00)



Place Vendome - Thunder In The Distance (PR2013) - Place Vendome is a melodic metal act with a one hand in the hooks of the eighties and the other firmly rooted in synthesizers and various orchestration. It very much is an eighties throwback in most senses, seeming to resonate with acts like Europe for example. But some people really do enjoy this kind of music and I certainly can say that I found some noteworthy tracks on the piece as well, like the thumping "My Heart Is Dying", the uber-powerful ballad, "Break Out" and the closer "Thunder In The Distance 4:39" which made me think that some great martial arts film had just gotten through playing, maybe one of the American Ninja movies (has anyone seen those other than me?) and this song serves as the theme to the film at the end credits, or maybe Chuck Norris had just finished kicking the ass of some fierce drug lord and the song starts playing just as soon as the guy falls down defeated. Norris smiles, saying to his previously captured love in the film; "Let's get out here." Then the end credits come in as "Thunder In The Distance" plays.

But the album itself is very mellow in most regards, featuring a decent bit of guitar and drums, but nothing that really comes off ear shattering. It very much teeters between metal and eighties rock, but highly succeeds in memorable choruses like on "Power Of Music" and the electronic-rock of "Lost In Paradise." The frontman seems fully capable on the disc, as he manages to make it through all thirteen of these tracks with a definite sense of purpose, as the band unleash a few worthy guitar solos performed in the eighties fashion. Everything about this album is very clean and symphonic, complete with plenty of piano and more cheese than a Bavarian cheese and sausage festival. But if Place Vedome did nothing else, they definitely tipped a hat to their influences with this disc, making me think of Survivor, Europe, Journey, Queensryche and others. And that's really not a bad thing.

I'm also going to have "Thunder In The Distance" stuck in my head for days now, making me think of Chuck Norris as he beats the living hell out of twenty people with two punches and a roundhouse kick. Grab it for a serious dose of the eighties.

Highlights: Lost In Paradise, My Heart Is Dying, Break Out, Thunder In The Distance (11 Tracks, 56:00)



Sea Of Bones - The Earth Wants Us Dead (PR2013) - Sea Of Bones made an album so long that it won't just fit on one disc. But that's not because of the first five songs on the disc, as the sixth song and album closer "The Earth Wants Us Dead 39:32" is the full length of an EP. Now why these guys couldn't just call the album "Beneath The Earth" or "Failure Of Light" is beyond me, because there's no way in hell that this almost 92 minutes of music will fit on the same disc with the title of a track that would most likely be included on a secondary disc. But I guess there's marketing potential there, as you're telling the listener that your album's title track was so good that it couldn't be put on the first disc.

At any rate, these guys are post metal. Ferocious post metal, but still post metal with drones and sludgy vocal roars. You've heard it before, I'm sure. But that doesn't mean that it won't appeal to die-hard fans of the genre. "The Stone The Slave And The Architect 8:51" drones along, albeit with a certain level of malice, while "Black Arm 7:02" proves that the band should have just junked the previous track and opened with this one. The guys sound unhinged on this one, with powerful drum acrobatics backing the sounds of animalistic rage. Yes, it still wants to drone a bit towards the end; but at least you get something more out of the box with this track. It’s very easy for these kind of bands to rinse and repeat, which I'm glad "Black Arm" doesn't do. It doesn't sound like opener and that's what I want to hear in a record sometimes. "Failure Of Light 13:28" starts out long because of its "introduction" but it ends up in the same style as the album's opener, albeit with the scathing vocal approach that the vocalist sometimes uses making it feel like post-black metal. "Beneath The Earth 9:53" remained mostly a light-atmosphere, until the very end of the track which really only highlights the performance with a deathy growl. The instruments do little more than drone. Still, I wish they would have just left it as an atmosphere. "The Bridge 12:54" is just the same, where it builds atmosphere and then becomes ferocious. The band's formula really starts to drone on your nerves at this point and makes it seem like this album is just one great big song. Regardless of the little solo that they do on the end of this one, it's still just a formulaic post metal track.

Now we get to the title track, which I've given a separate paragraph because of its EP or album length in some instances. But to be honest, this track really doesn't need an extra paragraph. To be frank, it shows a different side of the band which they have hinted at throughout the first five songs, but with the addition of thundering drone and harsh vocals. This track is the peaceful, slightly guitar-laden atmospheric piece that I was hoping the band would eventually offer. There are no sludge vocals, no thunder of any kind and it just seems a great fit. Furthermore, it doesn't even go with the rest of the songs on this album and was hopefully included as a separate disc. As I said, there are bands with shorter full-lengths than this track, which is a bit pretentious - all things considered. But it does work for those that the heavy stuff does not, making it a worthwhile addition to the piece as a whole.

Sea Of Bones are trying so hard to not be a run-of-the-mill post-metal act, but they've still got a lot of growing up to do as far as their sound is concerned. I do think that post metal is hitting a wall so to speak, as very few bands have been able to sound much different than the genre's progenitors. Nevertheless, it's still a decent enough record with enough ferocity and atmosphere to comfort and pound your eardrums. And that's probably what you want.

Highlights: Black Arm, The Earth Wants Us Dead (6 Tracks, 91:00)



Colosus - Blestem (PR2013) - A one man dark ambient/black metal project that is a part of Kaotoxin's new "Sideblasts" series, Colosus is the side project of Krhudd who wishes to stay anonymous but has worked with other artists on the label. At any rate, this piece which clocks in at just five minutes over an hour is available to stream via Kaotoxin's page as well as several other unique goodies that you can check out, making the process quite similar to Kickstarter.

As for the review of this material, I especially like the album's opener "Desertaciune 3:54" which is an exceptional dark ambient piece, laden with icy symphonic fare. But sadly, there's also nihilistic black metal on the album. Though why is this a bad thing? Because the opener was such a great piece, that I was hoping for something more in the line of depressive ambient music to fill the entire length of the release. "Mormant 12:51" does manage to convey an awful lot of sorrow however, with its uncomforting melodies and anguished scowls. But I really would have been fine with just the synths. Near the end of the piece this guy shows that he's really got some skills behind the kit however, or he's a damned good drum programmer. The last part of that song gives it bonus points as far as I'm concerned. He should have just split it into parts so I wouldn't have to go through the dull beginning of the piece. "Intuneric 9:42" has the sound of someone scratching their nails against glass, which doesn't help to add anything but slight ear annoyance to the depressive black metal mix of the previous track. "Blestem 4:21" doesn't work at all for me, as it's essentially Krhudd screaming overtop of horror-influenced synths that don't meld right, creating the sound that your television would make if it froze. At any rate, this serves no purpose at all and I would've junked something like this - would've known it was just a bad idea to begin with. I'm still clueless as to why this is the title track. It's absolute fodder.

"Dorinta 7:56" actually comes as a breath of fresh air, with the drums pounding as scowls fill the room with an icy fervor. There's little more than that, but it contains the feel of black metal nevertheless. "La Apus (feat. Deha) 9:36" has all the buildings blocks of depressive black, including a guy who likes to wail like a Banshee. Hmm...Where have I heard that before? This song does little for me in retrospect, making me think that it's time to review another album. "Red Snow 9:13" comes next on the disc, and it's a Coldworld cover. Though I haven't heard the original, it's done exceedingly well with the right sense of melody, ice and despair. The album ends out with "Pustiu 7:49” which begins with such a calming sense, but eventually descends down the same path as the rest of these tracks.

And well, that's it. I guess I've just never been able to get into suicidal/depressive black metal as well as I can with funeral doom or death/doom with a touch of the frail. This album just leaves me bored, sad and confused. To be honest, another ten songs like "Desertaciune" would've been just fine. Why he had to go muck it up with black metal, I'll never know. Then it sounds just like that other suicidal black metal band I reviewed that I can't think of the name of but didn't care for all that much either. Just not feeling it folks, but you can go to Kaotoxin and listen to it for yourselves. Personally, I think we in Torii do a much better job and I definitely try to go for that sense of depression in my vocals. Though I also try to really pull everything out of me, so they don't wind up sounding like the same drone, much of what Khrudd does here. Besides that guy who wails like a Banshee, you get a rather unnoticeable approach that almost put me to sleep. Of course the real icing on this cake is "Blestem" itself, which should have never left the guy's computer. But check it out and make your own opinion.

Now I know this guy is going to freak, since this is an extremely personal work for him and he's not even posting the lyrics because of that fact. Which I've never understood. I've written personal as hell music, but I want people to know exactly what's going on and what a song meant to me. Not all of my music is personal, but the music that is will definitely be open for public observation. This is how my listeners get to know both sides of me. But yeah, I guess some people just aren't comfortable with exposure and I guess I can accept that. Damn, after this review it's certain that Khrudd probably won't let me anywhere near his stuff again. But if I can't tell the truth, then why do it at all?

Highlights: Desertaciune (8 Tracks, 65:00)



This Will Destroy You - Live In Reykjavik, Iceland (PR2013) - A live performance from a band that I've never heard of, This Will Destroy You is actually quite electrifying. The band actually perform a rather thick version of shoegaze influenced post metal, but with no vocals of any kind. This is a band who lets their instruments do the talking, allows them to tell the story and for that I'm ever thankful. The two discs each contain a strong number of songs, carrying a Pelican sort of vibe, but sometimes without a hint of heaviness. Yes, they are that kind of band and that is just fine with me. This is the kind of depression that I enjoy, something that not only sounds incredibly fragile and desolate, but also beautiful. It sounds like the night sky, with the twinkling of the stars being engrained into the melodies on this wonderful piece. There's also a drummer, but he doesn't exactly just pound away on the disc, providing what is needed as the guitars and effects demonstrate the atmosphere of the album. Noting that this is a live performance, it also comes across as larger than life in retrospect. These guys make a music that really flows through you and tugs deep into the soul.

I will say that there's a bit of a formula going on here, with songs beginning light and atmospheric, yet building up into a heavier nature. This does work for the band, but might put off some listeners as it tends to sound much like more of the same after a while. On the other hand, it does help tracks like "They Move On Tracks Of Never-Ending Light 5:36" to flow right in with the others, making as I've said; one extremely long song. But I think "The Mighty Rio-Grande 11:46" says it best about the otherworldly atmospheres that this act conveys, as the whole of the performance is simply mesmerizing. This Will Destroy You know exactly what kind of music that they want to make and they make it well. With no real notable highlights, one can just rightly consider the whole piece a highlight in of itself. The tracks all seem to flow together as I've mentioned, leaving the listener with a surreal sense of themselves. It's a kind of music that resonates with the universe itself, calling in metaphysical realms and astral projection. In laymen's terms, that means that it's perfect for the bath!

(2 Discs, 11 Tracks, 87:00)



Delain - Interlude (PR2013) - A disc I was supposed to review eons ago, I finally decided to sit down and listen to it. And to be honest, it's kind of what I expected. Pop-laden female fronted metal that offers much in the way of other female fronted acts. There's really no need to elaborate here, folks. Delain isn't something I would obviously listen to on my own, but I will admit that there are some candy-coated pop hooks on this thing that oddly speak to me. Blame it on growing up with MTV. There's no doubt that the band's red-headed siren is a definite sex symbol for ginger connoisseurs everywhere. Better yet, she's got a great voice which is emphasized on opener "Breathe On Me 3:36" a track that would've caught on here in the states if anyone cared to get it on the radio over here in the states. "Collars And Suits 4:49" has the operatic goth feel, yet still manages to deliver on pop-metal. "Are You Done With Me 3:13" is featured on the disc as a new single mix and it's alright I guess. Then you've got some covers. "Such A Shame 3:45" is alright, "Cordell 3:56" plays more with acoustics, and as for "Smalltown Boy" it's already been covered this year by Deadlock, and both still can't compare to the Paradise Lost cover, which is superior to the original song.

A soft ballad of "We Are The Others 3:49" follows next, which is supposed to be a call to the counter culture but features children on the choirs and this whole orchestral thing. I'm lost. At any rate, the version of this song also would've blown up in the states. But I prefer the older version of this song, called "The Nobodies" by the one and only Marilyn Manson. Next, a half hour concert featuring six tracks is included, with the band performing them well enough and the front woman full of some much fire that you would expect her be fronting thrash. I do feel that Delain has the curse of dudes who want to play exceedingly heavy music, but are trying to lighten their approach in the vein of pop in order to earn a decent paycheck. Can't fault them for it, but these guys are hiding the fact that they could play some good metal if they sat down and did it and if the female vocalist would allow them to really get to thrashing. If nothing else, I'm reminded of a band who has been influenced by bands like Theatre Of Tragedy, Evanescence Nightwish and Lacuna Coil. I will say that there's more guitar influence in these tracks a well, they're a bit heavier and a sign that perhaps the band's earlier releases were a bit heavier. Despite the fact that "Breathe On Me" is catchy as hell, there was little guitar or light metal influence to that one. of course, these guys do a lot of down-tuned thumping, so they aren't going to break out into "Master Of Puppets" anytime soon. However, I can't say that I wouldn't mind hearing them take that one on.

If you're into this stuff, then chances are you've already got this album and are waiting for another release from this band. I don't necessarily think this album is necessary, but it does make me think that the band's old stuff might be worth checking out. Even though it's a rehash of music that I've already heard done well enough years ago. What was it that the mastermind of Tad Morose said? Something about all the metal over there sounding like Euro-pop shit? Well, that's kind of what we've got with this act, but some people like that sort of thing.

(13 Tracks, 55:00)



Run After To - Run After To Gjinn And Djinn (PR2013) - This album consists of two recordings from a little known doom metal act from Italy. It showcases their EP and their demo recordings which are all that they apparently have. "Who Cries For The Children" thumps with doom riffs, while slight moments of synths come in and clean vocals decorate the passageway. If it can be said, things actually seem a bit funky on this album, there's a definite groove to be found and it's not quite as foreboding as other acts in the genre. "Melancholy 3:02" comes next in much the same way, filled with groove riffs and some doom. I mean, these guys really have a firm foot in classic metal more than they do in doom; yet the still manage to pull off some memorable solos. The very last track on the EP is "My Name Is Man 12:42" which brings back the synths and some thrash riffs. A brief moment of acoustic is also heard on the track, but this goes into some impressive synth and guitar work. So there was definitely something here, it just never had the chance to go any further; which is understandable.

Next we have the band's really fuzzy demo tracks. Try as you might, no amount of mastering is going to fix these. "Occultism 4:33" sounds just like early Sabbath, as does "Walking On The Rainbow 3:37." As for "Visions 5:42" it's a bit more foreboding, but still much in the vein of that first Sabbath album. A demo for "Melancholy 2:47" follows afterwards. with the band's namesake song "Run After To 6:22" playing along the same Sabbath vibe. Whew, these guys really wanted to be Sabbath. "Exorcism 3:15" ended the demo with some fiery thrash thumps and rambunctious drumming, as well as flying solo. But after that, the disc is done.

Let's be honest. Run After To really wanted to be like Black Sabbath. They were clearly influenced by the groove, funk and jazz styles of the band; damn near regurgitating them and calling these styles their own. There's not really much else I can say about these guys and maybe it was better to just leave them in the vault. Unless you've really got to hear what old Sabbath demos might have sounded like.

Highlights: My Name Is Man (9 tracks, 48:00)



Chamaeleon - Sick And Perverted (PR2013) - With this album, I'll be starting my review of the Artificial Sun Industrial albums I received back in November. (Yeah, that's how backed up I am. Working on it, folks!) As you know, I'm a huge fan of electronic/industrial music as well; so I'm grateful for the opportunity to review it alongside the metal. But as for Chamaeleon, they are a TBM/Aggrotech band made up of Greek and Russian members. The goal of the band was to create a more melodic version of aggrotech that is much closer to the US/Mexican electronic scene and they've certainly succeeded in that. Though the music heavily reminds me of established act Grendel, I can certainly say that the music itself is quite colorful and upbeat with the extra edition of sharp vocal rasps. Not all of the tracks are vocal influenced and rely on hooks however, as the spatial quality of instrumental "Into The Unknown 4:02" manages to delve into more transcendental territory. However, the fact that the act so closely resembles the greatness of early Grendel is something of great worth to me, as I was extremely upset when he decided to change his style and didn't continue to pursue the type of aggressive electronic music that these gentlemen have. Clean vocal injections are featured in the music, though I don't feel that they're all that necessary in retrospect and I'd rather hear more of the thick electronic beats and scathing vocals. Two remixes are featured on the album, one by Headshock which seems to build upon the original "Out Of Control 3:20" album opener, by extending it around fourteen minutes and increasing the overall punch of the track by about 40%. The next track is a remix of "The Point Of No Return 4:24" by Biomechanical who have made the track into a more club friendly anthem, also increasing the track length by a full minute which they utilize by building up almost a trance-level of atmosphere.

Chaemaeleon certainly offer a decent enough debut with this release, even though it's still a bit rough around the edges and doesn't feature them at a peak. But that is a good thing, as it will show that the band will work even harder to make even better music than what appears on this release; further improving their craft as all musicians should. It's definitely worth checking out if you like hard-edged industrial with a sense of venom that isn't to be found in guitars; but with the fierce vocal element and punchy beats. It's been a long time since I've heard electronic music as abrasive and catchy as this.

Highlights: The Point Of No Return, Sick And Perverted, Into The Unknown, Both Remix Tracks (9 Tracks, 38:00)



Hydra Division V - Ostracized (PR2013) - Hydra Division V are also an Aggrotech/TBM act, much in the vein of Grendel, Velvet Acid Christ and others. The only difference is that this Greek act does a great job in vocally reminding me of experimental black metallers Rotting Christ, and has been in preparation for six years. Vincent Andelmoth sounds positively full of fury amidst the catchy dance beats and even leaves more of a mark on me than some of my favorite aggressive/dark electronic acts ever have. If there was ever an anger that you could dance to, then it would certainly have to be these guys. The disc features ten tracks and two bonus remixes by Acylum and Larva which I will get to later.

As far as the format of the album, it's not very difficult to describe and comes off as a very catchy sort of rage, something unlike I've never heard before and am so glad that someone has finally been able to capture with this album. Again, Vincent sounds positively pissed on this record and even the metalheads might want to give this one a try. Yes, electronic music can be pummeling, it can be brutal and it most certainly can be ravenous. Just as I'm re-listening to the first two tracks on the release (Ostracized 6:08, Hell As Phoenix Rises 4:51) I'm feeling the amount of pain, anger and frustration from Vincent. I cannot explain in words how upset this guy is on the album, yet I'm enjoying every minute of it.

Yet I've also described this album as catchy. And yes, that is true. It is a deadly dance, something that you could certainly try to play on a modern dance floor, but I think you would get weird looks from the DJ and the people before they switched it back to boring dub-step. Just from "Refractory 4:51" I want to raise my fist in the air and curse at something, but I'm not sure what - yet it's just the amount of POWER in this album that really affects you. I think I'd be more likely to burn down a building while listening to this then I would death metal. Not that I would burn down a building. I don't need the insurance money.

Now "Get Off My Back 5:27" features more electronic tinkering and some chant effects, yet it still isn't afraid to shake it's ass on the dance floor or gyrate around on a stripper pole (that stripper had better have some sort of cybernetic sci-fi act going on by the way.) The next track is "Desire & Destruction 11:19" which comes in as the longest piece on the album, taking some elements of folk music and turning the track into a sort of ritual. This is made for the dance floor and truly shows the strength of the band as a standalone electronic piece. "wake Up Bleeding 6:08" also shows more of the electronic nature of the band, invoking more elements of atmosphere yet still managing to offer some piss n' vinegar when the time comes. The choruses on this album aren't only sharp, they're razor sharp and Vincent cuts with every one of them. "Legion 5:28" and "Manhunter 5:02" are also examples of this, proving the record to be a fist-raising exercise in aggression that you can still fucking dance to.

"Hydra 3:53" comes in next, with a special tag that denotes it as an "Ear Scraping Chaos Version." It doesn't feature any vocals, except for a few soundclips, leaving the music to illustrate the soundscape of the piece. It's definitely dance floor ready and quite enjoyable at that. The final track on the album is "Sanktuary (When Violence Takes Control) 5:24" puts a rebellious chant at the forefront, bringing back to mind the thunder at the beginning of the album. Personally, it's a great place to end the disc and some might feel that the next two remixes kill that feeling of rebellion at the end of the disc. Nevertheless, it's still great to have them. As for those remixes, Acylum takes on opener "Ostracized 4:44". While much shorter, it does feature the song in another light that might not be as punchy as the original, but with a included female vocal chant clip to bring forth another element of atmosphere to the track. As for Larva, they perform a "Chikatilo mix" of "Wake Up Bleeding 5:04" which also appears to be much shorter than the original, featuring a crystalline approach, something more delicate than the original and ultimately an alternate take on the piece. The ending portion of this remix is especially interesting however... and that's where it ends.

As I've said before, Hydra Division is an absolute must for fans of electronic aggression that sounds like it's truly coming from the very core of the frontman. Vincent is angered about several different things, each and every one of them willing to bite your face off as he bellows them forth on this record. Parts of this disc fly out like shrapnel, while others take on a more danceable nature that makes you both surprised and amazed at just how different and promising this act sounds. I'm actually looking forward to hearing more from Hydra Division V, because it doesn't come off sounding like everyone else - what I normally look for with music in general. While just a bit off in some sections and maybe not quite as pummeling in the middle as in the raucous beginning of the disc, it still manages to put forth a good, almost great effort that certainly comes off memorable. You'll want to spin this one for days.

(12 Tracks, 69:00)



Type V Blood - Beastkiller (PR2013) - The next album I have is Russia's Type V Blood, who consider themselves to be an "industrial metal hybrid." This is their sixth release, with a great deal of hits and misses respectively. The band opens right up into guitar laden landscapes with the electro metal of "Eber Zzombie 4:38" and then flows right into the catchy as hell death dance of "Rock The Dancefloor 4:01." Then "Shocksong 4:26" comes in with great use of electronics, as well as the clanking of metal as several harsh vocal styles illustrate the landscape of the piece. The chorus is a bit off-kilter though and the song could have done better with a harsh chorus and less carnival melody. "From The Heart To The Sun 5:06" begins like thrash core track, but settles in groove and background chants. Type V Blood do try to add plenty of death metal gravel which at times do work to their vocal advantage, but I hope on their seventh one, they'll make the music a bit more extreme too. "Resistance 3:53" uses some vocal distortion which comes off interesting, but I still don't think the choral element is all that powerful. Yet it still comes off angry, which is what we want.

"Awake 4:40" manages to come off quite crushing as an experiment in electronics and death growls, while "Zero Tolerance 4:32" is more interested in groove and punch, along with some tasty melodies. "Sexyberia 3:20" comes off as the most dance-charged track on the disc, utilizing several icy melodies amidst harsh vocal injections. "Right To Anger 4:25" seems like the Russian equivalent of Rob Zombie, but with the same injection of powerfully harsh vocals. If these guys would just get a little harsher in the musical spectrum, they'd be great. The disc ends out with "New Nuclear World 4:24" which doesn't seem to be their strongest track and comes off as a bad way to end the album, despite the strong harsh vocal portions. I just wish that there were no clean vocals on this album at all.

Type V Blood certainly are interesting with their attempts to mix electronic dance grooves with what at times are full on death metal vocals. But I think that they need to really kick up the gears and make the music match the malice of the vocal lines. I also don't think the clean vocals are really necessary as the harsh approach is fantastic.

Highlights: Eber Zzombie, Rock The Dancefloor, Awake, Zero Tolerance, Sexyberia (10 Tracks, 43:00)



FS Project - The Birth Of The Magician (Magus) (PR2013) - FS Project are a "fantasy metal" act from Russia, which amounts to a folk-influenced power metal project and is at the least, quite intriguing. I've always loved the native sound of a culture and focused into metal the way that this is, it's quite enjoyable. The first track, "Rozhdeniye Maga 3:06" is a light-hearted romp through the fields, as playful folk melodies intertwine with melodic metal might, helmed with an authentic Russian vocal approach that comes off quite majestic. "Lyod 5:05" is a bit heavier, but demonstrates the power of their frontman, who really delivers such a wonderful approach as the band helps to magnify the song with keyboards and a memorable solo, as was featured on the last track. The disc ends with "Fingolfin 4:56" which continues to offer a taste of Russian folk music draped in slightly pounding metal and featuring some memorable leads. The keyboards have more fun on this track, shortly giving way to the guitar as it lets into a solo that is a bit shorter, but just as powerful. Keyboards and synths have more fun here however, developing these guys into what could be the Russian version of Blind Guardian in their current era.

FS Project offer plenty of memorable melodies and solo sections, but they've also got one hell of a keyboardist. I've never heard Russian power/melodic metal before, but it's certainly memorable as these guys have shown. They've really got potential, especially if you have an appreciation for folk music and the music of other cultures. I especially enjoyed this short taste of what's to come.

(3 Tracks, 13:00)


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