Friday, June 24, 2016
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Saturday, June 4, 2016
Hungarian post-metallers Perihelion never cease to amaze me, which can certainly be said with their beautiful new EP release. Although it's rather short, there's still enough here to fill the void between their next release and I can honestly say that fans will not be upset with this one. If you don't know much about Perihelion, they can be compared to Thy Catafalque, Alcest, Vintersorg, Solefald and even Borknagar. The only difference here is that the black metal sections of each would be removed, as well as the scowls. Perihelion give us more a mix of powerful lines and melodies, where choruses aren't even as necessary as the verses themselves. Anyone can write a hooky chorus, but how many times can you catch someone's attention with mere set of verses? Frontman Gyula Vasvari challenges that with three strong and entirely memorable songs that wouldn't have changed my score one bit if they'd been added to Zeng. There's nothing here that sees the band faltering, and if nothing else, they're sounding even better. I still can't tell you what these lyrics are about, but it's all so wonderfully ethereal that it doesn't even come as a concern. To think that three men can be capable of such a powerfully emotionally performance is nothing short of amazing. There's nothing threateningly heavy or even dark to be found on this one, even though I do sense some deep emotional pain within the vocals here. In other words, it's a performance that you can feel and that's just not something I can say for a lot of bands. There's just no one out there like Perihelion. Interestingly, they covered “Sycamore Trees” from Twin Peaks (still kicking myself for not having watched that yet) in English, which I believe is a band first. The fact that Vasvari can sing in English I don't feel is a real issue, because it's quite obvious that the performance itself is what's memorable, and if the Hungarian dialect sees these verses and choral lines much stronger, than I'm all for it. I learned long ago that music doesn't have to be understandable in order to enjoy it, which is what these gentlemen perform here again. It's a little short, but I'd be shooting myself in the foot if I didn't highly recommend it. Like many of these short records, I'd rather have waited to hear these put on a full-length but certainly won't complain with the performance laden within. This is probably the third time I've heard this record, and every time it has been just as captivating. Very few acts are able to move me like Perihelion, so make sure that you pick it up if you're looking for a real dose of raw passion.
(4 Tracks, 14:00)
Fans of dark and foreboding death metal mayhem will completely devour this new EP from Italian four-piece, Dominhate. The disc is short (or it wouldn't be in the shortlist) but it's quite punishing, throwing us directly into a cavern by which we're forced to sift through all of the dirt and the monsters which lie within it. Doom is very much a focus of this album, with bass riffs that sound so low in the mix that they might be mistaken for the roars of demons along with a drumming performance that feels every bit like we should expect for this kind of music. I'm brought to mind acts like Morbid Angel and Immolation, by which flaming guitar solos rise up from out of the muck and bring the metal pounding right to your face. I've listened to this record twice during the review and I honestly can't find even the smallest issue with it. These four guys know what they're doing and seem to have a good grip on it, which is no doubt going to make for a full-length release that's literally just as good or better. I've heard ten thousand pounds of death metal in the past number of years, but acts like this one are the kind that really stand out. I'd certainly remember Emissaries Of Mourning over bland efforts from others, by which there is no real thought to atmosphere, vocals or composition. The record is certainly a no-nonsense approach and isn't trying to achieve anything new with the genre, but with so much doom and gloom pumped into this oppressive death metal terrorizer, I don't really feel that reaching for new heights is what this band needs to do. Rather, they're doing a damn fine job as it is. If you're a death metal fan, you shouldn't be upset with this one, and if you are, then I'm going to slap you. Suffice it to say, Emissaries Of Misery is definitely an EP worth picking up and spinning a few times before their next full-length, which hopefully won't be too far away.
(5 Tracks, 19:00)
Actually a full-length album, this nearly thirty minute release is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I'm a huge fan of Japanese tunes (as you know) so I actually found it a bit more interesting than perhaps an American approach to the music. Abstracts are a melodic sort of djent-core that I normally wouldn't review, except for the fact that I found their clean vocals to be rather memorable, as I've always felt the Japanese clean vocal style to be heavily more passionate than that of the English language. Take the title cut for instance. Regardless of the fact that there's a kind of ham-fisted harsh vocal approach utilized on the track, the clean chorus is so powerful that it completely overshadows the background harsh vocals. The same can be said for “Carat” which actually uses the harsh approach a bit more, but seems to deliver in the chorus number. The band also use some electronic effects and filters with the vocals, which I think are pretty cool. Musically, we can't really expect much different than we've heard with several djent acts which is kind of a wash, but that's the sound they were going for. I will say that there's a little bit more melody in the guitar here than with some acts, but that harsh vocal approach is going to absolutely ruin the disc for most of you. Even I can't get around “Vision” which has no cleans and “Mirror” which just didn't gel all that well for me. I did find a pretty killer cut in “Ancient” which almost equals out to the title cut for me and that's more or less the album's closing cut with “Gemini” being a decent enough instrumental. It really takes off when we actually hear a very strong lead melody come into the mix (something they could have used on the rest of the album) but that's really about it, aside from the background electronics which make the piece sound a bit shiny. There's also a bonus cut called “Siberia” which should have benefited from not being a bonus cut at the end of the album. In any case, it's obvious that these Japanese are trying to emulate their western peers and certainly have the style and flow down, it's just not really my type of metal aside from most of the clean portions, melodies and the soft atmospheric vibe that some of these sections contain when they're not being saturated with djent riffs. If you like this kind of music, then you may like the Japanese take on it, but I don't think I'd recommend it to any random metalhead. There are much better acts doing this kind of stuff right now, but perhaps with time Abstracts will branch out a bit more and become something truly unique.
(10 Tracks, 27:00)
Boasting two tracks on this 7” these Belgian death/thrashers deliver a memorable performance right form the start. After some atmospherics that remind me a little of hell, we get right into the thick of it with driving rhythms, razor-sharp vocal lines and pumping leads. This is the way that The Crown and other acts have done it for years, and damned if I'll complain about it. It's raw, rough and rowdy; which I'd simply have no other way. But that's just the first track. After the death/thrash ensemble, we get into something with a little bit more groove and melody. Obviously these aren't pretty melodies, giving us a record with that same sense of dread and bite that we'd expect. Oddly enough though, it takes about two or three minutes before the vocals come in and I'd almost thought I was listening to an instrumental cut. Then wouldn't you know, these guys go right back to thrashing. What I've gathered here is a death/thrash act that wants to play out of It's comfort zone a little bit, which might be a tough sell for some; albeit a godsend for others. From listening to the album during a quick refresher I can already tell that these guys can play, and they manage to put on a pretty pleasing performance even when it's all said and done. The band's use of atmosphere works very well to bring them in, while the unexpected dips into other metallic territories give them a chance to shine beyond the thrash. As we know, almost anyone can thrash with death metal vocals these days, but only a handful of bands can actually get it right. Maleficence are definitely one of those bands, with this short offering being a great sampler to what will know doubt be an even stronger performance in the future. It's definitely a promising little 7” vinyl and I think you're going to want to get your hands on it.
(2 Tracks, 11:00)
Falsely labeled as well over twenty-five minutes (don't ask me why?) the single from these UK classic heavy metallers seems like it has all the class that makes Maiden, Priest and Saxon shine. The song comes on the back of a memorable riff melody, wherein a strong chorus is displayed as a potent solo appears and brings back in the chorus line, which then turns into a strong vocalization that repeats until the end of the track. It's worth noting that the frontman has a rather memorable vocal tone, controls a strong set of pipes and more or less comes off notable. There isn't really much else than that I'm afraid, but looking back on the piece it doesn't really seem to me that there needs to be anything else. It's served up on the back of a hummable lead, follows a clean set of vocal lines and gives us the main course in the form of it's catchy chorus. There's also a pretty strong solo, so I'm not upset about that. It's a strong little single and it shows that the band certainly have some merit, but it's very tough to judge any act based on one song and I'd wish that people wouldn't do it. We'll see what the band truly have to deliver when their debut EP or full-length album releases later on in the year or next. You can actually watch a promotional video for it right on YouTube, so go check that out and tell me what you think.
(1 Track, 3:48)
The first EP release from these extremely rough and sadistic UK death metallers sees a surprisingly heavy performance that doesn't feels quite as atmospheric as it does blistering, complete with some flying solos as well. M seems to be responsible for most of that, since no one told him to slow down and he's going to keep pounding on that kit like his life depended on it. For some this might be too much, but in all honesty I think they can jump off a cliff if they're not satisfied here. There are usually acts where the blasts seem a bit too out of control, but here there is so much of a keen sense to rhythm and melody that we're not being asked to toil through what are some very long songs in all respects. “Serpent's Mirror” is a little over fourteen minutes in length, but due to the fact that A (guitars, vocals) and S (guitars) aren't afraid to change styles and tempos at the drop of a hat, we get more of a soundscape rather than floating in the mist. Three Devils Dance definitely has it's moments of that, but we can bang our heads as well as pull out our air-guitars. That's not a bad thing in my book, and I really hope that you're not shocked to see an atmospheric metal band actually playing heavy metal music. Three Devils Dance has a lo-fi quality that seems like it would benefit more from a vinyl, and almost feels like an old death metal record from back in the day. As we get into “Crypt Of Illusions Bane” things do get a little bit foggier due to the tone of R's dreadful bass riffs and it starts to sound like you are indeed inside of a fucking crypt; but the leads are still able to shine through it and we're not completely wading through the murk of similar acts. There's nothing wrong with murk or wading in it, but when you start to hear a lot of similar trends in this kind of metal, it often becomes a breath of fresh air (ironic, since we're talking about a crypt) when you start to hear the guitars really giving it their all as if we're watching a classic Slayer performance. But if they want to throw some Hell Awaits in here, I'm not going to be entirely opposed to it. Neither should you.
“The Divine Architect” really throws the mist on top of us, so it seems that “Serpents Mirror” is a bit of a clever fluke and more or less a warm-up for the foggy aftertaste that we're about to receive much later in the album. For the rest of it, you can pretty much think along the lines of Portal or Grave Miasma, which isn't so bad and gets the job done. This is their first EP so it's obvious that they're still getting things set up as far their sound and style is concerned and this is more or less a showing of what they can do. It's definitely enough for a live setting, even though they'd only really be able to play one song if not headlining, but there's just enough mystique here to do that one song justice. That to me really says something about these guys, as it's not exactly easy to craft a song of this structure and length, no matter how much you might think it is in the beginning. A listener that has never really composed music before might come into the line of thinking that just because a song might sound simplistic to them, means that it's very easy to craft. Unfortunately, that is definitely not the case. We often think that because of the foggy tone and texture of the music coupled with the drum blasts, this kind of death metal is very simple and very easy to make but as “Serpents Mirror” described with only a mere hint of the fog that would later fill the album, there's a great deal that goes into each of these pieces, especially if you're a band that doesn't want to bore the hell out of your audience. When I saw Portal, the show was physically draining. It had been an experience like none other that I've seen in my life. Though that wasn't because the band was a slog to get through, it's because they left a major impact on me. That's the same way I feel about Qrixkuor. The band still have a bit more to showcase and I'm sure that they will in time, but this is a respectively solid EP and I'd definitely recommend getting your hands on it, murk raiders.
(3 Tracks, 38:00)
Norwegian black/deathers Blodspor have changed an awful lot since their 2011 release, Laughing Through The Violence. Either that, or I really have a distaste for black and death metal being mixed in with core breakdowns and gut punch vocal emissions. Yeah, you heard me right folks, even though guitarists Bent and Kris tear it up along with drummer Lage, frontman Audun (also plays in Silence The Sky – three words, there you go) really seems to defecate all over the approach with his hardcore gut punch vocals that sound a lot like Agnostic Front, of which I could never get into for that reason. Sometimes he does use a bit of a rasp or something a bit deeper (that could also be coming from bassist Andreas) but the overall effect remains the same and I know some people that are absolutely going to loathe this band in every sense of the word. It's not that these guys aren't any good musically, they're just going for something a bit more core-influenced and that can make or break them. They certainly have a marketable quality among core fans and I admittedly liked “By Your Own Fire You Shall Burn” quite a bit, but I wouldn't never openly admit that to you. Whoops, I just did. The record is actually quite heavy all things considered and offers a pretty significant beating, but it's a definite “try before you buy.” There are probably a few reviewers out there who will say much worse about these guys and whatever full-length record they will eventually create in the coming months, but I'll be a bit more lenient as this could be far worse. It sounds a bit biased and perhaps it is, but the fact that one of the tracks came off a little more than just listenable means that perhaps these guys are worth a listen after all. It's just not something that every metal listener will enjoy and should appeal more to fans of core that don't mind the extremities of black and death metal.
(4 Tracks, 12:00)
Formed from members of Finnish black metal group Sacrilegious Impalement, these black/death thrashers have unveiled a debut album that sounds about as raw and furious as you might expect. The vocals are very high in the mix, but they're quite fearsome and match the nastiness of the performance, which is going to sit right at home in the collections of classic heads. It's a bit hard to hear some of Von Bastard's leads and he doesn't really play an awful lot of solos (see “Wargods Unbound” for a great one though) but despite that, we still get a pretty pungent package with Revenant's drum abrasion and choral duetting (if you want to call it that) with frontman Kaosbringer. Revenant has an extremely throaty roar, which melds in with Kaosbringer's scowl as something simply unholy. Add in the drum pummeling and you'll got a pure exercise in destruction. Von Bastard fills the disc with eerie tremolo riffing in an attempt to bring about a rather horrifying atmosphere that I certainly found effective. Though it's still a rather low quality performance, it's definitely a good one. I'm sure that these guys are going to sound better on a live front, so if you get a chance to see them, you'll get a much better performance than what this disc offers. It's also taken from my own personal observations and experiences, that music is much better performed live. If there's anything I can really complain about here, it's that the disc feels very claustrophobic and these gentlemen seem like they've been cramped into a tiny box by which the sound reverberates off the walls. The sounds of war definitely help the experience here, but there's no doubting that you're getting a truly bare bones production with this one. If you've simply got to have it as raw and kvlt as can possibly be, then you'll certainly find something here. It's pretty decent I'll say, and I think these guys will go pretty far with this material. That being said, they're nearly in five other bands at least and aren't going to quit music anytime soon. I see Front as another project, and it's more or less in the same vein as their previous metal work. Go check it out.
(8 Tracks, 36:00)
A mix of thrash, blues rock, alternative and even death metal, we have something rather unexpected from Canada's Black Absinthe. Apparently this is a bit of a new direction for the guys as their Metal Archives definition is considered to be Heavy Metal/Punk Rock and I'm hearing something completely different. Let's take, “Is This Life” for instance. It starts up almost with a Metallica style thrash, but then rolls into something that sounds more like chorus friendly radio rock. Maybe a little like Fozzy. Then you've got the fiendish death growls which seem to come out of nowhere. Technically this doesn't make them death metal, but there are a lot of thrash bands out there with death metal vocals. “The Wild” opens the disc with a sort of southern blues rock, while we hear a sort of progressive touch on “Berj Khalifa.” Maybe it's a bit more melodic, like the Police. Whatever the case, there's definitely some experimenting going on here and it's working for them. Jack Cerre isn't the best vocalist in the world by far, but he's a great guitarist and really seems to be stepping out of his comfort zone with this one. “Now” definitely shows one of his best sing-along moments, proving that this debut (it's not actually an EP) has the band with their feet in the right direction. No one needs to point it out, they're already there. I have a really funny feeling that an act like Black Absinthe could become very popular due to the type of formula they have here. Now this is just me speculating, but I'm going to break it down for you.
First, I've noticed that these guys have a very commercial vibe when it comes to compositions, but they still manage to stuff it with just the right amount of raw meat in the vein of extreme metal (Winter) to appeal to the metal community. Those heavy parts, as sparse as they might be on this disc, are just enough to appeal to metal fans and will make the act loosely fit the metal genre tag. Cerre even employs a darker tinged sort of riffing in sections that kind of sounds like black metal and that's usually enough in itself. That being said, they still have that very commercial, very marketable aspect and could have some songs play on alternative rock radio. “Now” would work for that, which brings a very catchy chorus right into the hands of new listeners that will more or less purchase the disc just for it. But none of these casual listeners would expect the band's powerful display of darkness in “Winter” which hopefully is a sign of much greater things to come.
Early Signs Of Denial is the kind of disc that can reel you in and keep you entertained on mid-era Metallica/latter-Trivium/current Avenged Sevenfold style pieces, but will also come with a slight bite in the realms of more evil metal (some of the people that unexpectedly hear these utterances will not be familiar with them and will consider them evil, after all I just had a guy ask me if Stephen King was the devil at work earlier this evening) which many of those casual listeners might not be expecting and will open up to. It's a possibility, just as BabyMetal has opened the doors to an entire genre for non-metal listeners. Necessary evils, I'd think. While not quite as extreme as you like, or not quite as family friendly, you'll definitely get a great variety of material here with the record and it's definitely not the kind of record that would upset members of your religious congregation. These guys are very much in the same vein as Metallica as far as I'm concerned and they're mostly quite harmless. Just be careful, because it does bite.
(6 Tracks, 27:00)
Costa Rica's long running death metal act Colemesis are back with a new album, which I think I've listened to this three or four times already. It is actually a rerecorded version of the band's demo, which isn't something you hear from bands all that often. If you like acts like Sepultura, Testament, Slayer and Brujeria, then you'll more than likely love the performance being offered here. The album's intro is a little long, but once you get past that (trust me, it's in no way a band note) we'll start getting into more metallic territory. The disc has that feeling of pounding, chunky death metal with bits of technicality that give it a little more edge after all these years. These guys have been around since '92 and have only released two full lengths, this record in fact being considered something of a single. It's much longer than a mere single though, with a total running time of twenty-five minutes, especially with an extra cut “La Malediction De Malinche” tacked onto it. For the most part, the record is well enough performed but it can grow a little bit tiresome on the ears after awhile, which is in most due to the extremely lengthy sections of vocal roar from the band's frontman Fabbian Bonilla. Though he's a seasoned player and can really craft a few striking portions on the record along with Gabriel Morales (also guitars) this elongated vocal approach can sometimes just feel a bit overbearing to me and can get on one's nerves – it just kind of sounds like it's there, with no real emotion or thought put into the pulverisation.
There are definitely a few tracks here that benefit from this traditional death gone technical, but the real hit on the record is actually the disc's bonus track which adds a native touch to the work and gives off a decidedly Latin American vibe to the metal that these guys play. There are acts that do it far better, but these guys have been around for decades and this record shows that they're not ready to give it up just yet. Aside from the vocal nitpicks, there's nothing that I couldn't recommend here and death metal fans will be just as pleased with the band's attention to detail as well as their dedication to the dirt and grit that makes this brand of death metal as memorable as it is. You're getting a rough release, but you're going to want it rough and heavy, which is just what these guys manage to do.
Colemesis aren't the best Latin American death metal act I've ever heard, but they're still worth checking out and giving a listen for fans of the genre. You'll find some great things here if you're a fan of that mid-era Sepultura sound as well as other thrash acts and the death metal of Brujeria. Worth a listen.
(7 Tracks, 25:00)
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Well, it pains me to say that this will be the final output from the Netherlanders Necromantic Worship, which I've always enjoyed. The reason for this is a bit strange, even to me – but it appears that frontman and project mastermind Xarangorth wants to pursue study in the occult. I certainly wish him the best of luck in that endeavor as I've found little and he may find more, but in any case, we have yet another memorable act from the band. I'm not even really sure why I should review this disc, but maybe he'll see it and know that people did enjoy the synth-influenced mystical black metal he made years ago. Xarangorth is a master of the keyboards, which really seem strong on this effort, as well as his effects. These combine together to make a Summoning type feel to the perfomance, and I've always loved that about Necromantic Worship. Also, Xarangorth has a very frightening whisper, which doesn't really sound like anyone else you'll hear out there. Or at least anyone I've heard.
These guys were one of a kind and to quit music to pursue the occult is one of the most interesting reasons for breaking up a musical project that I've ever heard. Zagan also belts out some amazing guitar leads and solos on the disc, which we'll able to hear in his other projects Countess and Morte Noire (at least we hope.) Just listening to the title track is absolutely unreal, I can't say I've ever heard a piece quite like it, with it's mixture of whispery vocal and whatever in the hell is going on in the background. Is Xarangorth performing this music in another plane? Maybe he left to jump directly into another spiritual realm by which to pursue the occult, because I can't honestly tell you where any of this is coming from. Furthermore, I'm not sure if I want to know.
I've mentioned it enough already, but I'm really going to miss this fucking band and I just feel we lost such an interesting act too soon. I wish all these guys the best of luck, and as my own occult studies have taught me; there is perhaps a realm where they continued on to greatness. Unfortunately, that's not the realm in which we currently reside. What was next? We'll never really know, I suppose. Truly a shame.
(5 Tracks, 20:00)
Formed by two former members of Advent Sorrow, this four-piece act crafts a sort of chuggy groovy death with some black stuff mixed in. Aside from tremolo riffs, we have a hammering drum performance as well as a vocal front by Jared Bridgeman that switches between hoary grunts and fierce rasps. Earth Rot aren't simply just a bunch of death chug and tremolo riffs though, as Tom Slaughterhouse performs several ripping and memorable solo performances in manners that we just wouldn't expect from an album of this nature. Aside from that, Slaughterhouse also seems determined to not stick to any one single style, which gives us both the thunderous title cut and the blackened “Martyrdom Unsealed” on the same record. Earth Rot are yet another sign that the metal scene in Australia is not to be missed, as they rip and tear through every performance as if their very lives depend on the quality of it. These gentlemen released a full-length back in 2014 of which I don't remember ever remember abusing my eardrums to and I feel rather shameful for that.
There's only fifteen minutes of music here, but it's definitely worth listening to, with my only complaint that it should have been longer. I really hope these Aussies have another full-length planned for us either this year or the next, because I would have been fine with holding off on these four quality pieces (and I do mean quality, the record sounds even better than I can give it justice) until that particular album. I'm not sure what's in the future for Earth Rot, but as far as I've heard, I enjoy them quite a bit more than Advent Sorrow and hope this won't be the last I hear from them. These guys could really become something in the next few years, and with a record like this, I'm sold.
(5 Tracks, 15:00)
With a cover that resembles a traumatized Muppet, these German death metallers have returned with their first effort in five years. They released a full-length back in 2010 by the name of Dealing With Pain and fast-forwarding to now it seems like they've finally been able to get over it. These Germans definitely have their fingers on the trigger of both thrash and death metal, toying around with latter-era Death prog and making for a rather tasty meal right off the bat. Now we don't get right into the proggy stuff right away, as “Los Muertos De Hambre” gives us a bit of a chuggy death with clean/thrash vocals that I felt was a little weak. Memorable in that chorus, but pretty weak compared to the rest of the disc. Don't let that track fool you, because that's got to be some kind of fluke. Of course, all these songs sound different and it feels like the band are going through an identity crisis. The next track “Perfect Whore” has that whole prog/death feel and they've certainly got it down pact. Then you have “Undead” which almost sounds like grueling brutal death metal. It does change a bit to allow for some clean vocal sections and a bit more prog, but it sticks to it's guns. The last one here is “World Stops Turning” where the ridiculously thick growls emanating from the mouth of mutant monster Volker Schmidt continue their onslaught followed by even more prog and thrash riffs. I'm not really sure as to which direction these guys will turn in the future, but I wouldn't mind hearing more from them at this stage in the game. I'm sure they'll come out with a heavy hitter, as this little EP feels like a new demo and shows that the band is capable of a whole lot of really great things. Give it a spin, I think you'll like it.
(4 Tracks, 16:00)
Hailing from Germany, these guys decided to move far away from all the hipsters and techno in order to play music that sounds more like Death, Morbid Angel and Necrophagist. Judging from this two-song demo, I can hear exactly that technical death metal mentality and it's good enough that I'm reviewing it here, I can tell you that. Even though they've just formed, there's enough meat here to chew on already with a potent approach to vocals that sounds as if the frontman has swallowed broken glass, as well as lot of tinkering in the guitar department that makes for not only something that kind of sounds like Carcass, but has some very nice solo moments as well as some flashy bits here and there. The record actually contains a rather strong production quality, which helps all the tiny leads to be heard throughout the mix and really makes a difference, as it shows off the band's skills. These guys definitely seem like they want to be the next Necrophagist and they're certainly welcome to it, but I'm going to need to hear more than two songs before I could even think about making that call. Necrophagist were monsters, there's no replacing them. That being said, this is still a very strong performance that technical death metal fans will love, especially if you love any of the aforementioned acts. Definitely worth a listen.
(2 Tracks, (9:00)
Costa Rica's The Eyes Of Desolation seek to be in the same vein as many of your favorite doom/death acts (Swallow The Sun, Daylight Dies) but they still have a bit of work ahead of them. This EP comes three years after the release of their debut, Songs For Desolated Hearts and shows the band more or less continuing with the same lineup they had on the previous recording. Dreary riffs, twinkly keyboards and sullen melodies make up this act, which actually does contain a rather potent backing growl as well as a pleasing vocal performance from frontman Carlomagno Varela who seems to have Peter Steele firmly in his heart. He still needs a little bit of work, but with time and practice he could definitely become something. The mix of scowls and gravel in the harsh vocal segments of “Crimson Sky” certainly give the song some staying power, in addition to Carlos Carazo's memorable keys. They have the right idea but there's some polishing needed here and I really want to be be to appreciate this act more in the future.
I'd actually still recommend the EP as you'll definitely find a few memorable cuts on the one I mentioned as well as “I Found My Place” which proves that The Eyes Of Desolation are a noteworthy act. “Fighting For Your Cause” was a bit too Goth-Pop, but I'm sure that there are people who'll dig it. Whatever the case, I'd hope that these guys continue and I'd certainly love to hear more from them in the future. While still a bit rough, this EP proves that these gentlemen have the right idea and I'll be keeping my eye on them.
For right now, it's a decent album. But that's okay, because it feels like a fresh start from an act with it's fingers firmly planted in right direction. I'm not sure what the LP sounded like, but this EP certainly has promise and potential. Goth metal fans are encouraged to give it a listen.
(4 Tracks, 23:00)
The second EP from this Portuguese black metal two-piece, Illvmantithis certainly sounds different, and that's in a good way. I have no idea as to what method they're employing to make the riffs sound so oblong and twisted in the mix, but it's definitely working for me, almost as if Cynic played black metal. The scowls feel absolutely feversome in the mix, with K really nailing it there and giving me a rather bleak and misanthropic performance that seems to go hand in hand with his bizarrely progressive playing style. A is the drummer here, pretty much giving you the kind of tap tap tap performance that you would expect from the kit, the real star being in K's wonderfully bleak and awesome melodies. Yes, this is the reason why I chose to review this one as you all know how much I love bleak leads in black metal. Though we only get “Pallor” and “Shroud” here, it's enough for us to go on and gives us a feeling for what these guys might offer with a full-length. They don't want to play the same old black metal, especially now, with a record that feels nearly removed from traditionalism and seeks more dreadful and depressing territory. I'm fine with that, just so long as a K doesn't switch to a godawful howl. They have a bit that they could work on, but I certainly wouldn't turn this EP away either. It just depends on how you like your black metal, which can be as different as how you take your coffee. Usually depends on the person.
(2 Tracks, 11:00)
Originally around twenty minutes long, I have a couple of bonus tracks (yes, on an EP) from these Chinese born (but now New York implants) Mongolian folk-metallers. That's not something you hear every day, which is the reason I'm reviewing it as well. If you've ever checked these guys out on YouTube or social media, you'll see that they use a lot of battles from Chinese films as music videos and the music fits quite well. But why wouldn't it? That being said, Mountain Side is much different than the band's Blood Sacrifice Shaman record released last year. Instead of heavy death metal influenced pieces, we're almost getting something that sounds like a mix between modern metal and traditional Chinese acoustic folk music. There are a lot of outside elements on this record that make it more of an atmopshere and appreciation for traditional Chinese music, though I'm not sure how the country feels about metal these days. I remember watching the documetary Global Metal a while back, and learned that things are not as tolerated over there as they are here. Which is why I'm glad they came to the states to give us a taste of China.
The vocals here almost feel like a mutter, as the guitars wail and the drums carry on a more traditional and less metallic vibe. There are still moments where the electric is plugged in, but you have to respect the fact that they wanted to something a bit different than their previous seven releases. In addition to the main track, we also get an interesting acoustic version as well as an um.... club mix? We also get an instrumental of the track, so let us hope you like it. In addition to that, we have a new recording of “War Horse” in this style, as well as “Krutaya Goya” and an interlude. All of these sort of mix together to form an atmosphere quite unlike any that we've heard from the band before and it sounds quite spiritual in some instances.
There are three bonus tracks as well, like I mentioned. We get a fiery version of “Tengger Cavalry” that features the band in a raw, live setting and sounds completely unfiltered. It might be a bit tough to hear, but Tengger Cavalry have yet to make millions of dollars in which to gain a high quality performance. This is just fine, and it sounds like what you'd expect from one of their shows, which is pretty damn amazing. There is absolutely NO ONE doing this kind of metal, so you'd better get your ears on this EP as soon as you can. Even the two bonus folk jams are worth checking out. They'll give you a little bit of insight as to how such a large ensemble of metal and Chinese mysticism combine to form a sound like none other.
(11 Tracks, 31:00)