Sunday, November 30, 2014

Catching Up With 2014 : Ruin Lust : s/t

This album drips with crust and filth. Not since Disma's album have I heard something with this much grime to it. This is the band's first album, which was released back in May on Psychic Violence. Ruin Lust  might benefit by having  drummer Mike Rekevics on the throne, as he is the go to hip New York metal drummer, playing with Ash Borer, Fell Voices, Vorde, but it's the guitar tone that captures the feeling of this album. All three members vomit on the mic to some extent. Can't say the vocal styles are very distinct most have a lower coarse roar. "Primal Vision" switches gears into something a little more grind core. Until the solo ish section, which is a single note drone, it's beating you with one thing. Live with the band cranked up in a New York dive, that is pretty effective but it's not until the punches come and break everything up does the song get fun . A real guitar solo even shows up to the party.

They trample you with bloody thunder on "Tethered and Lashed", whats with all the bdsm references in metal today, just got done with another death metal album all bout the humiliation. This song is rawer and more of a challenge to embrace the noise caking what they do. When the guitar comes in a the two minute marks it's clear the static drenched sound they slugged you with at the beginning of the song was intentional. It works well for these guys, they make sounding bad sound good.The anguished sound of puke into the p/a works to accent the vocals, which can be one dimensional and my least favorite part of this band.

The second half of the album is "Skin Hunger" part one and two. One is a murky sewer water tasting death metal. It's dragging sludge borders on doom. The growl to this song is one of the better vocal performances on the album. It becomes even more of a dirge as the song dips into a depression. The part two is a bestial explosion of heaviness jack hammering  your skull. For the drummer have played with so many black metal bands the blast beats on this album are more punk in the way they hit the snare. This is pretty much in your face what you see is what you get filthy shit. The sound of this album is so raw and brutal it's unreal, so if savagery alone gets you by then you might rate this higher than the 8.5 I am rounding this one up to.

Death Fortress :"Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable"

The album cover to "Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable serves as a  pretty accurate visual description as to what you are in for. The very skeletal surroundings are of course symbolic of death, which  in this case signifies death metal is about to be afoot.  For Fallen Empire this is one of the more straight up metal albums they have released this year. These guys are not messing around with the ambiance, giving this an almost blackened death metal feel. A three piece from New Jersey kicks up a pretty massive sound. The production on the drums sounds like they are from a 90's thrash metal album. They do create of a sonic whirl wind than death metal does so the black metal tag for these guys is by no means unfounded. "Arrogant Force" has almost a power metal like authority to it's gallop. The vocals feel like and after thought most of the time, the lower more dismal growls sound the best. The higher rasp reminds me of Inquisition, but with significantly less croaking. This takes the lyrical content out of the equation, the only part of the lyrics to "Forced Arrogance " that I got was there is something about humiliation going on. Sounds a little kinky for this kind of death metal, but to each their own.

They blaze by you in a blur of double bass on "Fifth Season", which also happens to be the final season of Angel. They take more of a gallop on this song, but not in the Iron Maiden sense. These guys keep things in a pretty opaque blur of blast beats.They do ride out on a very powerful half time riff that captures the majesty of metal in a manner Moonsorrow would be proud of. The more they slow down to lavish you in it's heaviness the better. They take the title track into some straight forward death that is filled with interesting punches accenting the beat down they throw on your ears. Surprisingly they throw a melodic chord progression in and build it up into something more soaring. The first solo that I noticed comes in on the title track as well. It's pretty standard pseudo shredding."Pride of the Enslaver"...more s&m themes, is another meat and potatoes take on death metal. Maybe it's the whole Jersey thing that keeps these guys from committing to be grim as possible. There are catchy riffs that are played so fast they blow right by you until you takes notice the second time it comes around.

The album closes with the speed race of "Ancestor's Call". The lower more pungent vocals serve this song better than the raspier ones. The raspy vocals are on a similar frequency as the guitars and just get lost  in the wall of sound. The slower more powerfully accented riff midway into the song , helps set up another melodic excursion. They show a great deal of restraint compared to the rest of the album and allow this section to flow unhampered by the need for speed. This reminds me in many ways of back in late 80's when bands like Unleashed blurred the lines between black metal and death metal. It is more textured with dissonance than death metal, and we can argue until 2015 as to if this is black metal, I guess to some extent am supposed to serve as the gate keeper for that sort of debate, but I am going to say these guys have the aggression in there playing to sell you on the teeth their riffs have , but pound it into with a sonic flow. So I am going to give these guys an 8, it's different that what you might expect from Fallen Empire, but is still quality metal.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Whorls :"Petrichor"

This band from Denmark is pretty intense. The drummer is an insane cyborg just judging by the intro to the opening song. The vocals a more a-typical dry rasp. These guys hide that fact by throwing everything at you at once.While they can smash your face in with their sonic these guys grasp the importance of songwriting and back enough to let you breathe and give you a false sense of security with the dynamic flip. Blackened Hard core might be the best fitting label, but these guys have the chops of a more progressive styled band. The hit with Meshuggah like precision. Sonically they are more interesting than say anything Meshuggah has done in the past decade. By the second song they are beginning to smother in heaviness.

At a minute and a half "Pax" is short and to the point , but I am not sure I would call it grind core. It's not as rough around the edges."Atheol" the band tries to decide if they should blow by you in a blur of speed or let you bask in the groove. The speed is impressive from a technical stand point , but midway into the album, you have already heard it. I am more interested in where else can this band take me sonically. They hinted at having the ability to do so, but do they have the desire. "Caeles" is blow out from the other song. The album falls into being the kind of assault that eventually descends into white noise , until identifying punches come into play. Sure the album sounds great and the guitar tone they have immortalized is mean as fuck, but unless set against another canvas it eventually falls flat when it fall prey to the jack hammer fuck.

They fall back into a more section piece with "Apex" that hangs out in some sludge like feed back. this song an the other tends to find the one dimensional nature of the vocal making the songs sound similar. They find some really cool dissonant places on "Vacuos" but like the title suggests find them getting sucked back into becoming a blur of formless white noise. They do find there ways into a few break downs and the final songs falls somewhere between a blast beat and a groove. If you just like really well made heavy music that is heavy for the sake of being heavy then these guys are for you. If you require more thought and texture to your metal, you still might be able to appreciate where these guys seem to want to go with this , but get too caught up in the execution to make it. By the times things slow down into a buzzing sludge it is too little too late. What sounded to have more promise becomes sonically monochrome and thus it's blackness is no where near as dark as it could have been.I'll give this a 7 and hope they fine tune the songwriting a little more next time as they have all the talent in the world.


Bloodbath: "Grand Morbid Funereal

This Swedish death metal band is a super group of sorts. Most of the members are from two bands that are no longer playing metal Opeth and Katatonia. I think my feelings about Katatonia are pretty well known on this site, after all we even interviewed their drummer. Opeth however...well lets say I couldn't get through the album in order to review it. So taking the sum of it's parts into consideration  and adding Paradise Lost vocalist into the equation, the result are surprisingly pretty straight forward. I'm not sure when the last time was that listened to Paradise Lost, I'm guessing the 90's. So  I really only Holmes from when the band made the awkward transition over into clean vocals. He is relativly convincing here.

"Total Death Exhumed" is the first song that really catches my attention. It has some catchy riffage. The intro to "Anne" really sounds like Morbid Angel. Which is not a bad thing. It means there has to be a heavy hook in the mix somewhere. It goes without saying this album is well played. The last time I caught these guys Akerfeldt was still growling for them. It never hit me that Jonas was playing bass for them. He is pretty buried in the mix. For the drummer to be a member of Opeth I expect a little more bombast and flash from him, but it's the guitar that dominates this album. They don't have your typical Swedish sound as this does not sound like Dissection or At the Gates.

They take a doomier turn on "Church of Vasitas". The crunch only last for so long until it takes an even deeper grind. The vocal accents on this one are pretty grime spewing. Though the rest of the album is very big and sparkling in it's production, which you would expect given the status of the members. I remember wondering when I saw Nick was singing for them, if this was going to come with a goth metal sound, but that is pretty minimal. "Famine of God's Word" continues to beat you with old school Morbid Angel style death metal. What is interesting is that most younger bands who take influence from Morbid Angel want to sound like Altars of Madness era, where as the veterans have more of a "Covenant" thing going on here. However neither guitarist is really much of a shredder. The stabs at it that they do take on songs like  "Mental Abortion" is  pretty effective for a dynamic shift. Other some of the beats are really straight forward. the punches in the chorus make up for this in "Mental Abortion and other spot in the album.. They do lean on that very punk snare beat, that Metallica made popular on Kill "Em All.

One of the album's hardest hitting songs is "Beyond cremation" that almost has a black metal feel to it. This is also one of the first songs the drummer gets to cut loose on. Normally for this sort of thing the drummer is really in the spot light, you would think more so as the verse riff has a tinge of Slayer to it. "His Infernal Necropsy" has to darken things up with a title like that. The Morbid Angel returns on this song. The lyrics for this album seem like the same horror movie like take on the occult. The band does go ape shit from the onset of "Unite in Pain" before locking into one of the albums best moments which is the Reign in Blood like chug that leads in.It sets the rest of the band up to punch a hook into your face. The straight ahead path they are on begins to wear on me by the times the blast beats of "My Torturer" kick up. When it slows down into the solo it's more tolerable.

The title track that closes the album out is a pretty massive chug. The robotic effects on the vocals are pretty cool. I thin if they had pulls more of these kind of tricks out of there sleeves the album would have have more dynamic scope. Some of the gothy samples go down on this one creating a very "Where the Slime Live" type of feeling when the rest of the band kicks in. Overall pretty meat and potatoes, if you are a fan of the band then don't fear, Nick is well behaved and leaves the goth at home. I'll give it a 7.5 as it could stand to be a little more adventurous considering this is the Swedish Metal cream of the crop. Fans of the band go ahead and tack on another point.


Up From the Underground : Nate Paladino's "Good Boy"

Right from the opening passages of guitar that opens this ep, you can tell there is something different about Nate Paladino. The smug irony of the lyrics to " My Kind of Bitch" has a dark yet honest sense of humor to them. It takes you back to early days of the 50's  doop wop rock n roll. It seems like something that would be much better suited for this season of American Horror Story than having Evan Peters sing the less time period appropriate Nirvana. There is also a hint of indie folk to songs like the first single "Buy Your Heart". It keeps the swing of  "Earth Angel" covered by a guitarist from Orange County whose riffs reflected the California sun.  This sunny disposition does away with the tongue in cheek darkness of the opener, but it is still well executed.

"Don't Say Maybe" takes on a dirtier  Jerry Lee Lewis style of rockabilly.The piano bangs in the background making this  a pretty color by numbers tribute to this style of Elvis era rock. The guitar playing owes a great deal to Brain Setzer. His voice takes on the mock warble of the King at times. The more western feel that recalls more of a Roy Orbison feel sets the tone to " Come Back to Me." Less heart wrenching than say " Only the Lonely" it is sung in a much less dramatic fashion than Roy, never going up into that classic head voice, instead it brings to mind Bright Eyes ' country album.The blues of "Something to Prove' brings the album up into at least the 70's. He adds more husk to his voice. Not the grainy worship of whiskey and cigarettes that Tom Waits has, but that's  what is being aimed for here. The instrumentation is more in line with something Joe Cocker would have backing him, but the lyrics have that more deprecating Waits feel. Tom Waits never gets this upbeat even in his earlier work.

The album closes with another song that not only steers clear of the earlier retro sound, but brings Bright Eyes to mind. Though he doesn't have the overly emotive quality as His voice returns to his normal plaintive mid range. The guitar is crisp and as lyrical as the folk melody he pours his contemplation over.  This ep is a good escape back to the beach for those of you who do not relish the coming dark of the winter months. At times  Paladino  might relish weaving  some of the songs together with retro sounds, over all it's indie flare and attitude dripped over clever singer songwriter pop that avoids sounding like your run of the mill CW soundtrack fare.  The album is not drenched in the rock a billy reverb and all the sounds are pretty refined and crisp. If you are in the mood for some pole dancing, ... I mean really when are you not ? You can check out the video for the first single "Buy Your Heart" below. While Paladino's the mellow brand of indie folk might be more suited for burning one at at park on a sunday morning, it isn't going to become a strip club classic anytime soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Volahn: " Aq' ab' al"

Here's the first album of 2015 . It's an exploration in Mayan mysticism. It' also  lo-fi explosion of raw chaos. The drums are static blast beats, hiding the bass line if there is one under the angular jangle of the layered guitar. In some ways this comes across similar to something Liturgy might do, as they project is not is not adhering to the conventional black metal sound in terms of what the guitars can and can't do. It's way more adventurous, even progressive in some sense. The opening song is 13 minutes and after the first five minutes it has already left you pretty dizzy, until it breaks down into a guitar melody that reminds me a little of "Summer Breeze".

The odd  juxtaposition is the fact for an album to be so ambitious , they did not give a shit about the production and have this raw garage sound. The vocals are buried underneath the almost punk tangle of jangles. The acoustic break in the final four minutes of the first song shows that they are capable of achieving well crafted songs, so when Volahn is coming at you full throttle, they just don't give a shit about clarity.

"Halhi Khoba" sounds a little more carefully constructed than the opening song. There is more space for the sounds to breathe. Aside from leaning on the blast beats.This finds Volahn coming up with some pretty innovative methods of combining sounds. The bass is also audible in this one as well. So there is a night and day difference in quality here. The conventional black metal guitar tone is forsaken for a slightly warmer rock n roll like tone. The vocals are the only element that seems to be an after thought, they are produced in the same manner they were on the first song. They stay in a lower bellow that transitions into a almost spoken moan not unlike Watain's approach on the older albums.

The same synth layered madness is revisited on " Bonampak". The clarity in the tones takes a step backward ,here as the intensity level picks up. So when ever this project employs a more feral pacing then they throw the quality of sound out the window. This is not unheard of in black metal it just seems like backwards thinking in 2015 if we are little trying to adhere to the necro ascetic of 1995. It works for Burzum, but this album is throwing more at you than just trying to bring you into the drone of the maelstrom. The angular guitar parts which seem to really define Volahn's sound remain at the forefront, but I can't help but think from a production stand point these could work better if given more love in post- production. Not saying some interesting tones are stumbled upon as they capture some in the break that comes before the six minute mark. Not unlike the first song around the 8 minute mark clean almost folk metal tones are employed in this song's final moments.

They return to crisper sounds, at least as far as this project goes, on "Quetzalcoatl". There is more of a galloped groove, which marks one of the first notable moments that blast beats are avoided. I think this makes for much more effective song writing as blast beats often become a crutch for black metal bands. Not that Volahn is reluctant to inevitably return to them.The other almost rock n roll grooves  are found to jam on gives this song a wider range and allows more space for the guitars to shine. You are plunged back into the chaos in short time on "Koyopa". The guitar melodies still cut through the din. The sloppy wall of beats drags the song back down into the more cut and paste elements of black metal, that Volahn has shown they are capable of transcending. The drums blur out to the forefront with some impressive fills , that add to the jumbled assault. If you check your watch it's the 8 minute mark again as the formula remains intact making it time to drop back down into an acoustic guitar piece.

They close the album at the rapid pace of " Nawalik". This is a more death metal like take on what they have already down, though the guitar takes a more surf rock tone in one of the lead melodies. Here the more cavernous sound is more fitting of the lower  frequencies this songs rumbled with. The more taunt punk pounding the guitar lands on at times is more effective than some of the other mindless tremolo picked parts. This album embarks on a bold and adventurous path, the question is how much clarity in terms of sound quality to you need ? If you are a fan of lo-fi raw black metal and want it with a more progressive flare then this album is for you. I will give it a 7.5.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Unsacred:"False Light"

This Virginia band explodes with an impressive burst of feral black metal. The vocals are a hateful of a rasp as anything you could ask for from the states. They are really forward in the mix rather than the more typical buried placement. The have a very constrained chaos to their attack makes their triumphant gallops stand out. It common place to be impressive by the sheer violence of this sort of music, so it's up to the band from this point on to prove they can not only maintain , but continue to write actual engaging songs.

There is almost a punk rock beat to "Idle" that is not as impressive as the beast they opened with. They lean heavily on blast beats and tremolo picking. Sticking to cookie cutter black metal approach that they defied on the first song. "Plague" finds the band allowing themselves to build even if it is just for the intro, then launch into the full throttle assault that is more metal than the previous song. They do pull out some impressive bounding, bookended by more straight forward sonic blasting. The half time section helps break things up even if ever so slightly, which is what they need more of,as this sort of up to 11 all the time numbs your ears to the heaviness.

They don't seem to plan to let up. Going from one version of in your face at warp speed to a more punk version of the same thing. The backing vocal overdubs, help keep this song sounding like the one s before it. They pay a little more attention to detail with this one, before throwing that out the window and going back fro second on your jugular. The rock n roll feel to "Void 11" is what this album needs to keep it from just racing by you in a foaming at the mouth craze. They can only restrain themselves for so long before launching into the punk rock like thrashing. I think Mutilation Rites does this sort of thing better, Unsacred just has more of a punk take on that style of american black metal.

The drums at the beginning of "Sun" are there to remind you this drummer is badass if you haven't noticed by this point. "Sun" does find a crushing sludge like groove. More of this would have been well place earlier in the album. This is angry and makes you believe, rather than throwing all emotion out the window with everything else the tornado of speed sweeps up around it. They close out the album with "Cage" that is another blur of rapid fire blasting in case you haven't gotten enough of that sort of thing by now. A minute in they give you a brief breathing to play something with melody and then go rabid again. They manage to find a better sense of sonics when they slow it down a hair, but getting them to do that is well maybe two songs out of this album. Though they are a tad one dimensional they work well in the dimension they dwell in. They album captures what they set out to do and has a raw and jagged sound without sound like they were recorded in their Grandmother's basement, with blow speakers. So despite the monochrome sonic setting, this album is accomplishes blending the punk anger with black metal's venom so I'll round it up to an 8.


Serpent View: "From Darkness To Light"

My girl friend refers to this band as the "Only Lovers Left Alive" band. Because she says and rightfully so that it sounds like the music played by the lead character in that film, as reclusive vampire rock star  played by Tom Hiddleston, you know Loki. It carries a little more heft and a little less middle eastern influence."Gather the Wood" has a ritualistic throb driven by the drums which are the stars of this album. The guitar tone isn't shabby. It has crunch, but this is far from being big dumb metal."The Sun is Going Down" is almost an extension of the opener. The bass is more present and drags the song along with it's thunder.I would say these guys do not sound like they are from France , but the French metal scene is pretty diverse. The guitar which fills the place where the vocals would be finds the melody before rumbling off to pound into the groove the rest of the band has found. When they groove they do so is a more traditional doom sense, a shade darker than say St Vitus.

The second song plod a little more than the opener.It's two minutes longer, but they hang on the one riff for longer than needed if those two minutes really seem drawn out.In final minutes of the song the guitar takes of on a dynamic wander before congealing back into the doom stomp.They return to their more exotic style on "A Sleep is Faking Death" this finds the band being as heavy sonically as they are heavy metal. The punch into the doom lumber and the drums take off for a swirling hypnotic beat.They really know how to milk their dynamics and kick in with the two ton hammer.Time stops during this song, it seems longer than it is and not becomes I'm bored but rather the lull of their tone drags you into it.They build momentum that it seems they will stumble over , but instead they bull doze through.

It is almost like listening to a classical album as these seem more like pieces arranged from one massive work, rather than songs in the traditional sense. Perhaps this is due to the absences of vocals to help define these sections as their own entities.This song hit more of a drone than the two others. The chug at the mid way point is a pretty powerful testimony to how these guys can bring the heaviness. The creepy riff in the final minutes show you in one song how they approach this heaviness with grace. For an instrumental album it holds my attention longer than most. Instrumental albums tend to find themselves relegated to becoming back ground music so keeping me engaged is note worthy accomplishment so I'll give this on an 8.5.

Report to the Dance Floor? Liars : Mess

I did not expect these guys to ever be part of this column but here we are. This was not what I electronic elements have always been a part of their sound , but not the totality of it. They have played real instruments . This is more like a darker version of the Faint, which I am not opposed to I just wish their were more real instruments involved here. I seriously doubted this was even the same band after the first few listens.The fuzzed out beats to the first two songs seem to bleed together to me making it seem like one song.They have captured some well made sounds, but the songwriting which has always been quirky is now a slave to the beat.

"I'm No Gold" digs them further into this dark edm style. Some of the synth passages serve almost as riffs and the vocal chants gets the job done , but this is not as experimental as their other work even with the Aphex Twin pitch shifted sampled elements that help to bring the noise."Pro Anti Anti" is the first song that really kicks in on first listen and works for me.It has an almost industrial drive to it. The fragil drone of "Can't Hear Well" is a boring laze that doesn't work as well. There is a more Faint vibe on "Mess on a Mission". The angular quirk of the melody is almost catchy. This might not be the album's best song , but it does retain large doses of their former sound, even without organic instruments.

The bubbling digital murk of the simmering "Darkslide" is reluctant to build above the percolating bleeps.It grooves like a piece of filler from the Tron Soundtrack."Boyzone" has a harsher robotic coldness. Minimal and brooding, these guys have gotten darker after abandoning their guitars for this , but even over half way through the album I am reluctant to think this is a good thing. Midway through the song the narcotic sluggishness of the vocals moans to the forefront. It almost doesn't feel like a song."Dress Walker" continues on with the robot orgy. The effected vocals are more defined and give this one the semblance of being a song. At one point the laze of the phrasing remind me of some of Becks more drugged out moments.

Their are moment that flirt with the ambient moon drone of kraut rock one of those being "Perpetual Village" . Which is really well sung and an improvement in the vocal department for these guys.The song is not grounded enough and floats away with it self. It's not until the beat around the four minute mark comes into to anchor it even as the haze of the drugs weighs the momentum down. At that point the song begins to drag.

Some real instruments seem to creep into the closer "Left Speaker Blown" this hovers in a space drone, with the vocals carrying the majority of the song.I like the mood of this one , it's like the last man on earth is gazing into  the cosmos. It's a shame after hearing a song that this that the album is so hit or miss for me. I will give it a 6 and eagerly await for them to step away from the computer and  bring back real instruments

Taake: "Stridens Hus"

After the change of pace on the ep that came out this fall or leaked this fall, my concept of release dates is totally warped, though I did learn this is coming out in December, I went into the full length hopeful with low expectations. There is more of a black n roll feel to this one.Having around since the 90's this is the project's 6th full length, though this makes since when you consider what a busy boy Host is doing session work.The fate of black metal which has already exerted considerable influence and staying power rests on if the trail blazers of the genre can maintain their streak of breaking new ground because once they become stagnant after building the model then the genre will surely follow.

"Orm" is like an extension of the previous song just with riff modulating.The vocals stay in the same mid range rasp.At the two minute mark chord structures begin to get more creative.This song flows better to me than the opener, which still might grow on me, the bar is raised pretty high for Host after "Norgen Vaapen".The blast -o- thon that is "There is a prince" finds it's leg midway into the headbanging. It is the first song that grabbed on my first lesson. There is a weird break at one point that made me turn up the volume as I thought my head phones weren't working. "Stank" does a similar thing to what was heard earlier in the album as it sounds like an extension of the previous song.It hits it stride in the sonic drone of the blasting, yet with more detailed riffs than say the first wave of Norwegian black metal.The gang vocals add some variance as well, the vocals in general sound angrier here.The re-verb drenched sur guitar break is what I want from these guys . It is off set by a pretty ripping solo that makes for what I think of as classic Taake.

"A Song to the Sand about Conflagration" gets darker even though it stays on the same sonic chug that has been hinted at earlier in the album.It's Host's attention to detail that sets this project apart from it's peers.The moody guitar that surfaces on "Kongsgaard" is a prime example. I f you are not in the mood for blast beats this might not be the album for you as it seems to always be the go to. Not sure if her feels like he has something to prove or if that's just the way this one came out. It does give the songs more of a uniform feel despite some pretty chilling twists he puts on things. The guitars are the star here as some wonderfully bleak melodies bleed from them.

The album ends on ripping mode with the spiral of guitar that is "Wings". The songs flies off on blast beats for sure. For a one man show he does have a knack for making this feel like a band in a rehearsal space. He is not a jack of all trade but master of none as each performance holds it's own against the rest.A fine album, but knowing what Host is capable of it relies on blast sections too heavily and the song writing falls a little short of the previous full length. So I will give it an 8.5, which isn't shabby.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Catching Up With 2014: Ritual Mess' "Vile Art"

If spastic hard core that is still aware they are making songs is what you are looking for , then you have found it. This band features members of the who's who of underground hardcore and by that I mean Orchid, Panthers, Bucket Full of Teeth,Wolves, Ampere, No Faith, Laceration and Failures. You find you self on the fourth song before you know, and really become aware of this fact as they take a dramatic turn to the dark side for "the Last Shout". Even on songs that are so straightforward I normally wouldn't like it, they manage to weave some form of dark melody into the guitar. The vocals are par for the course screaming.

The guitar players are the stars of this show. The make the songs breathe. The drummer and the bass player work well together and get the job done, but these guys' sound lies in their guitar tone. You can here the influence of Converge in this sort of thing. They are the god fathers of this kind of metal hardcore crossover. At times the in your face more often than not bores me on "Emma". Even in these monochrome blurs there is a note worthy riff or two here and there. But in saying most of there songs sound the same, it means if I don't look up from what I'm doing the next thing I know it's on a new song, which I didn't notice because it sounds just like the song before. There are exceptions to this rule.

I like the darkness to "Blood Ritual Pact".  The vocals actually grab me here. They do have a convincing knack at the feral violence that seeps from the jagged edges of their sound. But how are they as song writers when you put them against Converge? You say that's not fair. I'm not saying put it against their current stuff, but their first two albums. After they are both bands comprised of musicians vying for you dollars. When taken in that light these are kids that sound really good at fooling around. The title track has all the traction and intensity you could ask for and still doesn't do much for me. Earlier they give you a taste of what they are capable of the problem lies in being able to do that consistently.

I think after reading people say it was going to be on their album of the year list my expectations were too high. This is better than average metallic hard core for sure. I'll round this up to a six for the moments that did grab me there just weren't enough of them to make me want this in my iPod. You can judge for yourself below.

Raspberry Bulbs:"Privacy"

I really appreciate when a band challenges you to define them. They mock your efforts to fit them neatly into a sub-genre. There are certain elements you expect then you hear something is black metal or hardcore. Two tags that have been tossed like a salad around Raspberry Bulbs. To some extent they fit depending on how you define hard core or black metal. If Black Flag and Venom are what you have in mind then they are on target. Even their guitar sounds has the abrasive jangle of early Ice Age in places. The opener carries more of a metal rumble than the song that follows which is much more straight up punk and not as compelling as "Lionhead".  Both sides of the equation allow the band to get away with their lo fi sound. The don't pull punches with the feed back.

The album is swarming with noise laden experimental interludes that serve no real part in holding the album together. They stay close to punk rock on "How the Strings Were Pulled". Backing oooohs sing in the distant while the vocalist stays in a punk sneer with enough rasp to be black n roll as well. So here is a prime example where their collision works the best. The often attack the songs with more of a metal intensity, but steer clear of blast beats preferring to drop down into half time stomps.

By the time you get to "Nail Biting" you can see through the hype and recognize these are punk rockers with an affinity for metal. Right now you are going to argue that this goes against the challenge to not be defined. I am not saying the are just a punk rock band, but the are closer to being headed in that direction than they are metal. "VII" is the longest of the noise interludes , but it doesn't make then Swans. The "I Saw Your Mommy" feel to "Finger Bones" offsets the distant growl of the vocals , that layer something decidedly darker than punk. In some ways they do what Midnight does , but much better and from a punk perspective.

There is an old school "Sonic Reducer" style punk to "Behind the Glass". They only thing that sort of irks me about their songwriting is they tend to be a little straight forward, which does them a disservice as their best moments are when they wander out of the box. The even manage to cram a guitar melody into it. A similar paced jaunt into punk is snarls up from the gutter these guys crawled out of on "Hopelessly Alive".  The vocals are the only thing on this one that really brings anything to the table as it becomes more of the same old same old. They let the bass out them out on "Big Grin" ,which is a huge curve ball to momentum  they built thus far. The guitar takes an almost post-punk tone  and the vocals stay in a maniacal rasp, that still manages to not really become growling. There are some heavy punches toward the mid way point.

I think I might get more milage out of this one than I suspect, this album gets a 8 with room to grow on me, they middle of the album becomes predictable and some of the straight forward punk elements don't lend themselves to much of a dynamic range, but I like where they are going with this and will check out there releases to come.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Catching up With 2014: Wreck&Reference's Want

When this album came out the first casual listens to this one didn't grab me and ever since June I have intended  to give it another shot so here that goes.It falls right into abrupt beginning of the angular "Corpse Museum", which sounds like many other post- hard core bands if you set it against a blanket of dark weirdness. I am much more impressed by "Apollo Beneath the Whip". It takes me back to many of the things I liked about the last album. These guys do dark really well. I'm surprised this project originated in Los Angeles. They take a much more subdued turn , but no less dark on "Stranger, Fill This Hole in Me". The hesitant beat is almost trip-hop. The vocals are low murmur until the song builds. Then they go into the more agitated shouting that is more hard core in delivery than metal.

The typewriter like cymbal work of the previous song transitions into "Bankrupt". The shouting continues, but the effects on the vocals make this feel more industrial. The vocals dominate the other wise minimal composition. I would not say these songs drone, they are sparse pictures sonically painted more than they are songs, as they never seem to return to any chorus or verse. "A Glass Cage For an Animal" makes better use of the sounds they have only toyed with up to this point. It's abrasive but still flows with a sick sense of melody. The ambiance overwhelms "A Tax", this makes it more of an interlude than a song. "Flies" is the next real song. The vocals take a calm spoken quality in the background, where this mix seems to set them when they are not being screamed. The yelled vocals combat this as a dark synth riff bubbles beneath it.

"Convalescence" starts off with impressive drumming, but not drumming meant to hold a song together. The clams down into a beat that's more sure of it's self. The best vocals so far on the album appear here. They are also the most gothy, reminding me a little of Genesis P Orridge. "Machine of Confusion" is another one of those pieces that is more atmosphere than song as the soft sythns caress a low murmur that is almost not even audible. "Swallow" redeems this as it marries the atmosphere to some of their harsher elements, the same murmuring voice is present in this song as well. This album does sound a lot better than it's predecessors, but their is less emphasis on songwriting. The album closes with another piece that almost makes you think this is going to another thing barely qualifies as song, the screaming vocals are trying to say something, the drums are very sparse. The synths swell into static before floating away with the drums.

This album makes me think that I almost like the idea of what they do better than the actual execution of it. They touch on some very cool ideas, I think the songs were allowed by songs on the previous album, they also have moved away from any black metal elements, and it's more darkwave hardcore. With that said this is still pretty impressive so it gets an 8.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Saor: "Aura"

From the hills of Scotland comes some impressive atmospheric black metal. Saor's second album opens with"Children of the mist". The song kicks off the album with  haunting flute providing the back drop to a very jaggedly staccato take on folk metal. There is some frolic in what they do, off set by the low roar of the vocals. That are overdubbed in a manner that makes it sound like a drunken gang of vikings. Clean vocals chime in around the roaring. The album sweeps you away with in on the first song, only the Killswitch Engage bro metal like punches that crop up leave you to scratch your head as every thing else makes perfect sense for this kind of thing. The blast beats that fight against the big synth bath toward the end of the song, before the war drums come in sounds like it is in the distance and the whole thing has a very soundtrack like quality until they blaze back in.

The title track starts with soothing ambiance before the call to battle goes back out. The guitars seem to be in constant melody mode, in some ways this reminds me of Summoning.  The flute sound is very similar to the one employed in the first song. The title track is a little more straight forward in it's charge forward, throwing in the typical blast beat pattern mid way into the fight. There are glimpses of cool riffs, that jump at at you but the song is one massive wave of action packed melodrama, until at the 8:40 mark it breaks all the way down into faint guitar. "The Awakening" begins with the emphasis on the folk atmosphere. There is a cool tribal pound at six and a half minutes into this one.

The pacing that sets "Farewell" in motion helps distinguish it from the other songs, that all eventually dive head first into a blast beat section.Once again the flute returns to a similar place until the black metal section unfold and gives this song another stamp to set it apart from the others.They pound into some of the heavier sections with a majestic authority. The wider scope of dynamic placement in this songs arrangement, helps to allow each section to unfold to the best of it's ability rather than throwing everything at you at once. The war drums rise again on the closing song "Pillars of the Earth". The guitar sound changes to a clean strum that brings a much needed change of sonics. It crashes down into a weird lof-fi section of black metal that sounds like it was recorded in some one's basement rather than the studio the rest of the album was recorded in. It is a denser and heavier sound, but not as refined ,so much of what they do get lost in the murk. Closing in on the ten minute mark they do transition into a more graceful melodic section while the rough-hewn drumming thunders under . These guys achieve the sound they set out to accomplish at sometimes it goes slightly weird of center and the flute can be over done, but it is one of the better efforts to combine black metal with folk, so fans of Summoning take note. I'll give it an 8.

Golden Apes : the Langsyne Litanies

How happy can goth be and still retain the name. Well if you take into consideration some of the Cure's radio songs, and no one no matter how punk rock or hipster you are is going to try and dispute Robert Smith, then you can get pretty damn happy.It took a few listens for these guys to click. The first impression this German band made upon me was Crash Test Dummies. The is partly due to the fact the guitar employs major chords more than you would expect from a goth project. There is way more theatrics in the delivery than say Rome. " Blind Eyed Boy" finds the piano even chime in with a reflectively cheerful sound. The opener has a solo Peter Murphy feel mixed with R.E.M's "Losing My Religion" .

"Ferryman" sounds like a theme that was established earlier in the album but it's darker so that works for me. More elegant than Death In June, it nails the romantic pretense of "goth". Is this apocalyptic folk? Well if you compare it against the likes of King Dude then no. It's way too lush and not under produced or soaked in re-verb. They even carry more of a sea shanty vibe on "The Archers". This is not too far from Cult of Youth's more melodic moments, but lyrical it feels like it could have been lifted from the Decemberists. There is more of the Cult of Youth like rambling on "Rosary". His vocal out put is much more dramatic,  but to the point it could stand to have less performance and more soul injected.  He does touch upon it like on the line "I'm drifting away"  on "Blind Eyed Boy". His baritone has room to stretch out and sing on this one . Often he feels like he is stifling him self, making his melodies come across as a little stiff.

They album works best on the moments where there is a more melancholy choice of instruments like the cello on "Digging Towers." His vocals even find more passion to them when they are given more to work around. At times the folk elements come across like a goth version of the Pogues, but this is listen a pretty enjoyable listen. The rolling ballad "White Days" captures the feeling they are going for but even with the build at the chorus falls a little flat on my ears. The instrumental outro that closes the album might remind long time fans of their earlier more blatantly goth work. Still I like the vibe this album creates since it's been a long time since Peter Murphy did something like this , these guys carry the torch well even if it means leaving some of there more post punk elements behind in the growth process. I'll give this a 9.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bring Your Drugs to the Dance Floor...Young Magic : "Breathing Statues

What ever happened to witch house ? It's a question I have been pondering the past year after the dark sub-genre of electronica noted for occult references fell of the map. So I clicked around the inner webs looking for answer. It was sometimes referred to as ghost house and had more in common with trip hop than house music. The biggest artists of the genre like Salem haven't had anything out since 2010. There looks to have been some motion in the ocean last year from some artists like Glasser and Mater Suspiria Vision released albums last year. It looks like the genre is being transitioned over into dream pop judging by this Duo.

From the opener "One" you can tell with it brings a change in production that is the biggest difference for the switch, along with more up tempo beats. There is a blend of psychedelic eastern sounds that sounds like they could have sampled a Beatles album. The dreamy female vocal are bathed in effect, yet not garbled in them like witch house. Not as dark or focused on the occult it still hits enough the sweet spots that have been left empty by the genre's disappearing act. "Fall" has more of a jazzy undercurrent, but the psyche elements are still slightly present. Not unlike Portishead in the manner the vocals are what really is driving the songs, even as ethereal as they are. I stands to reason that this dream pop genre owes a lot to the Cocteau Twins. "Fox Glove" floats out of the previous song. Draped in synth flutes the hook is the strongest, until you get to what must be the album's single "Something in the Water". The longing in her voice is almost of  Sarah Mclaughlin magnitude, but the scenery it's surrounded by is dark as the witch house this sort of thing came from. It's pretty much a perfect song.

Strange how after writing the perfect song they follow it up with something as unfocused as "Ageless" . The narcotic beat of "Cobra" brings back the eastern sounds and finds them in a much more Massive Attack like place. Male vocals take over on "Holographic" they are on the androgynous side , but don't work as well as Melati's. "Mythnomer" has a more lo-fi witch house like distortion to it. The pitch shifted vocals even make an appearance. The staggered beat is a little dis jointed and the vocals are rapped, but it all strangely works. "Waiting for the Ground to Open" is not quite a fully realized song, though there are some good ideas captured here and this albums is so well produced, they could put effects on sneezes and it would sound good.

It closes on a note that is more like old Zola Jesus. She doesn't have the same throaty alto Zola has, but a ghostly grace. This song is pretty much trip hop, call it by any other name if you want. this album sound grace at times the dream like nature makes the trip so loose the song gets lost. I'll give it an 8 if you miss witch house or even trip hop for that matter this is worth your time.

Cold Waste : "Primitive"

The first thing that hit me about these guys was that for a "cold wave" band they have an incredibly organic guitar sound and some Fugazi influence thrown in there as well. The drums could very well and probably are drum machine. The vocals almost sound like the dude from Thursday, at least they get credit for not impersonating Joy Division This fact doesn't phase me until the 3rd song. The guitar sound is so cool it often balances the equation helping me to not key in on the Thursday element. On "Isla" the vocal delivery is more punk rock. Normally I would say give me more emotionally driven vocals that are sung, but here the punk thing works better for the rest of the music.

The style of post- punk they dabble is the 90's version rather than the 80's. The guitar tone is a tight clean distortion and tauntly pounded out. The effects only seem to come in when their guitarist is picking out the chords. "Divine Truth Cult" finds them musically hitting a pretty spot, but the vocals are doing the you know what. So there are some compromises that I find myself coming to when I listen to this album. They hit some really cool Day Dream Nation era Sonic Youth guitars sounds at this point in the album. The singer's melodies all seem the same in Thursday mode.

There is a tender strum to beginning of "Remedial" that races off into more of a surf rock thing. The bass player is yearning for the dark side. The bass is the darkest element to all of their songs. This creates a unique relationship between the bass and the guitar, with the minimal drums or drum machine just keeping a beat in most instances , there are so syncopated crashes that sometime make me wonder if there are some real drums on here after all. The very Cure like bass line to "Unconfirmed" sets the stage for something dismal. The vocals don't dash all my hopes. They are not always in key on this one but not in full on Thursday mode either. The lyrics sound like there might be something here that was worth being said, but certain distractions keep me from ingesting it.

The album closes with "Ichisan" a song that finds them only covering new ground in degrees. There is more harmonics to the guitar and jangle when it is played with more attack, but the least impressive of the bass lines. This is really a guitar players album. It was obviously mixed by one as it is way up from with everything else playing second fiddle. Most of the time rightfully so as this is where the most alluring sounds are coming from, but it makes me wonder how this album would sound with a slightly different mix, the vocals buried and the bass sharing the space with the guitar. But the reality of the album is what we have.It might be counting straws to say this is much more post- hard core than it is post-punk, but I think that is the truth of the matter. This is worth a listen, if you miss late 90's post- hard core with great guitar check this out for sure.I'll give it a 7.5, due to well ... mostly the vocals.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Catching Up With 2014 : Triptykon's Melana Chasmata

The album gets off to thrashier take on what Celtic Frost once did and in some ways sounds more like Frost to me than the Monotheist album did. Female vocals, which are not out of place on a Celtic Frost album, enter on the hypnotic throb of "Boleskine House". For their second album the band seems like they have always been together. With the crunch of burly doom "Altar of Deceit" slams you out of the trance they previously lulled you into.

Tom Warrior knows his dynamic, as he was one of the first to really bring a gothic vibe into Celtic Frost's flavor of metal. His new band works best when they have all the elements blended like the beginning of "Breathing". That give way to the need to prove they are capable of reaching black metalish speeds. They find some good groove in-between the two modes. Of course I am a fan of the darker almost goth  feel to "Aurorae". The guitar work seems more thoughtful there. Though this band can play fast , not unlike Type O Negative who would do so in punk bursts, I don't hear that as being where they are most suited.

"Demon Pact" stays on the dark and deliberate path that the band excels on.It's interesting hearing this more classic take on doom, vs modern funereal doom, which is so much slower. It does make for more compact songwriting. They seem to keep getting darker as the album progresses. "In the Sleep of Death" almost touches on death rock at points. This song also has the most compelling lyrics and chorus. Things don't wander to far from the dismal murk on "Black Snow". A few trade mark grunts are thrown in for good measure. The low croak of clean vocal keep the creep factor high. The drumming really stands out on "Black Snow". Everyone has ample chops, as they should playing with a legend like Tom. While they do sound better playing at this speed over time it drags ever so slightly, more so on this 12 minute monster . It will be interesting to see  in what direction this sometimes plodding manner in which they pound grows on me.

They have chose a weird way of closing the album with "Waiting' which almost reminds me of the Gathering at the beginning. Overall this album hits all the place Type O used to but from more the the perspective of what I need from metal today, I'm not sure a long lost Type O album will hold up against what I listen to today unless it's October Rust quality, but that's not real and this album is an is a testament to Tom Warrior's staying power, I can listen to this and not just think about how I would rather be listening to Celtic Frost. So I will give it a 9.5.

Catching up with 2014: Emptiness ' "Nothing But the Whole"

This is the fourth album these former members of Enthroned have created. It is fill with some of the  creepiest  darkest  metal i have heard in recent memory, and I digest at least twenty new albums a week, so my "feelers" are out for this sort of thing. The opener has a great ritualistic feel to it. The vocals start off as a low hollow gurgle. There are definitely elements of dsbm at work here  and some beautifully depressing guitar tones that sob into your soul. It is one of those album that when it starts off I found myself asking where have these guys been all year. They have a pretty wide range the opening riff to the title track would not be out of place on a Enslaved record. They keep things at a much more deliberate pace as the vocals seem to be most comfortable as this grim narrative. So they hold the blast beats at bay for as long as they can. I have been looking for something like this ever since Shining wussed out and went cock rock.

They take a more staccato attack on "Behind the Curtain". The guitar taking a tighter almost Emperor like groove. The vocals stay in their well place gurgle of a growl, almost like Carcass in some place, though with much darker intent. There is some really exotic guitar work that starts off "All is Known". This segues into a weird bridge passage that sounds almost sampled. There is a prog under current to the way these guys put songs together.

This album is an odd creature as it has way more groove than any kind of black metal this side of Satyricon, yet the grooves are never over done thanks to ex-Pro-pain drummer Jonas Sanders. The guitars work together well, not shying from solo passages , but not for the sake of flash. "Tale of a Burning Man" has a stiffer almost industrial pound to it. They spiral out of this into almost a blast beat, but build on the same migraine inducing pattern. They gathered some interesting sounds on this one, but compared to the other songs, it is lacking.

"The Past is Death" finds them back in their gloomy goodness.The hammer at you, with the oddness of  Blut Aus Nord back in there more experimental days on "Lowland". This too gives way to melodic guitar sweeping up into more angular acrobatics. They know how to be dissonant in the most melodic way possible. The only complaint about this album is it's seven songs only amount to forty minutes and now I am going to have to track down their entire discography in hopes that it is all this good. I have obviously been underestimating Belgian metal. I went right back to the first song once this album ended. Of course this one is a 10, it's going to be one of the best albums that you missed out on this year if you don't click below. Wow.

Catching up with 2014 : Sun Worship's"Elder Giants"

Here's a German band that sounds like it's from New York's cascadian hipster black metal scene. So with that said , it means they are pretty sonic and of course released this album on a limited vinyl pressing of only 300 copies , which are all sold out so the only way for you to get this record is for them to give it you on the Bandcamp page. The first seven minutes of "We Sleep" blows by you in a hypnotic blur. The slow it down before the 8 minute mark and slap you in the face with a half time groove, harder than your granny trying to tell you how epic a centaur is . It's less of a D&D gallop and more of a pack up your bong groove. The song hits you sop hard til you assume it is good, a common trap many heavy bands hit you with, but around here that means the joke is on them because they now have to convince me they can do even better than that, if they want to be regarded as being worth half a shit up in the piece.

Not sure whats up with the ebonics, I should write in more of an Aryan fashion considering where these guys are from, and the bulk of our hardcore readers are from Germany. "The Absolute is Becoming" stirs up a similar cauldron of blast beats.  It really is like running down hill. Their feet fly out from under them, but rather than being like Charlie Brown they soar off into the distance becoming background music. The riff to the title track is more defined. The notes sing out rather than disappearing in a wall of sound. The vocal rasp was easier to make out on the first song, but after that it is more a static coat of human noise. At the halfway point of this ten minute monster it slows down into a doomy lurch. They come back in an launch back off into the sonic sky, where they fly away back into the blast beat drone.

They hit a weird mix of noise and melodic moments when they close out the album. The synth sounds if thats what they are and not the feedback of of over effected guitar, creates a Tangerine Dream or Pink Floyd like feeling. While they are cool sounds, it's more of an outro than real song. I like where they are going with the three songs they do give you here that clock in at a combined 30 minutes , which is longer than Reign In Blood. While it's not  like you have never heard anything like this before, if you are fan of black metal, these guys are good at what they do. I'll give it an 8, even though I doubt it will last long on my iPod, it sounds like the best is yet to come from these guys.


Swallowed : "Lunarterial"

The first full length from this spastic doom band out of Finland. The eruptive elements right from the first song "Reverence Through Darkness" makes you wonder if doom can really be a fair tag for this .It features two members of Desolator, who lets face it you don't know so it's a mute point. This shit is crazy, almost in a manner Aevangelist lost their mind in. The first song leaves you shaking your head, so when they slow down for a more angular yet willfully amorphis vibe on the next song, you are wondering if this is all smoke and mirrors because they can't write a song with any cohesion.The black metal burst disqualify them from being a doom metal band, they are too frequent and they indulge in them more too long to be doom.

They do capture the sort of sounds like make for powerful doom on "Black Aura" , but you can't help but speculate as to when their metal add is going to kick in.The vocals are a harsh rasp more like black metal in the scathing way they are gasped.Finland is a notorious drinking country so I am sure that element factored in when this was conjured together. Six minute into "Black Aura " a solo frenzy erupts like sharks on meth.The slouch back down into doom, like a bi-polar person coming off a manic high.It would be cool to hear what they could do if they set out to make a doom album, but can they retain focus is the question.

They creep into "Black Phlegm" at a very traditional doom pace.History tells us these guys will go spastic at any moment so don't trust their more interesting digs into the dark.It might be the drummer's fault. He is talented, but is always moving under even the slower sections. Sometimes too busy for his own good. At last they stick with something long enough to try and let us see what they really sound like.The sixteen minute "Libations' which confirms my drinking theory, closes out the album.  At 25 minutes this song is longer than most punk albums. They surprise me again and stay somewhat focus on this dirge for the first six minutes allowing it to build organically rather than jerking it around until the pull out the blast beats right after they cross the 6 min mark.As with many songs this length it starts to drone off into the distance and become background music, though to their credit they do return to a sluggishly tormented doom.Their weirdness pays off at the 20 minute mark, but then they smother you in it and lose all form and function. I'll give this a 7.5, and more pot might solve the problems this album runs into .

Xerxes: "Collision Blonde"

"I was wrong " opens the album more like an intro than an actual song as it drones over the same chug  and chant. "Criminal Animal" displays there interesting mix of post- hard core and screamo, that is even dosed in darker indie rock. The vocal go from spoken narrative to screamed hardcore.This flows right into "A Toast" almost to the extent this could be a continuation of the previous song until the bass comes in to carry things. Though they keep a very similar mid tempo.

There is a Fugazi/ slight post-rock vibe to "Knife" . The screamo vocals bring it to a more early 2000's place. You start to get a sense of what some of the bands favorite plot devices are when it comes to song writing at this point. This doesn't take away any of the album's charm as they have really captured some great sounds. They dip into some almost cold wave like electronic sounds on "Take a Directed" which is an impressive way for the band to dip into a darker side and expand their emotional range out of the cathartic explosion of post- hardcore.

They even flirt with a more organic rock n roll sound on "Chestnut Street" that reminds me a little of the Refused. The title track takes this rock vibe on a darker turn like something the Police might veer off into if they were bitten by a rabid wolf. The title track has an almost Fugazi like syncopation to it , but a more Sunny Day like dark introspection to the bass line that carries it on this moody journey, that despite being the sum of it's parts is not emo. Though "Exit 123" that follows takes a much more traditional screamo path. The drummer must really worship Fugazi, which is fine as it is certainly a noble aspiration. Not sure how I feel about the spoken word narrative to "(but here we are)". The music underneath it is cool if it would progress into something more dynamic, it seems like a good idea that didn't get fully realized, those the lyrics to this ditty are impressive, so it's a mixed bag.

The album closes with the heavier and smartly written "Nosedive" that blends most of the elements that have worked for them up to this point and throws them into one punk tinged song. I'll give this a 9 as all the songs pretty much work for me but the spoken word thing, which I deleted from my itunes so I don't have to worry about it or it's clever lyrics that deserved something better to sit upon. If you kike screamo at all this is a album to check out.


Vorde: s/t

Fallen Empire hasn't led me wrong yet ,so lets see if they can keep up the streak.Vorde features members of Fell Voices and Ruin Lust. The album opens with dark ambiance an element commonly found with projects on the label's roster. After three minutes of this they launch into some fairly straight forward black metal, until the vocals come in. They are a distant gurgled moan that hovers over the faster riff. It sometimes raises into something closer to singing, though the vocalist has the ability to accent it with a punchy rasp. The drumming spirals around this in a pretty impressive display. There is a slight chaotic element to how these elements are all set against one another but it adds to the overall sonic density.

This is followed up by the more metal delivery of "Transformations of the Vessel". They blast ahead while the moans bellow out in the icy backdrop. "Blood Moon" is a mix of ambiance and storming drums before it builds into a more blasting burst of black metal. The first lyric cuts through the din as "my final whisper". The more metal attack that this swells into gives some meat to the sonic explorations. This is clearly one of those albums that is going to take several listens to digest .

If it hadn't already the use of clean vocals set against the dissonance and airy bleakness of what is being called forth here reminds me of Urfaust. The vocals are more long the lines of something Attila would do or even Atriarch, where the singer from  Urfaust had slightly more command to his vocal tone. The dynamic and clean guitar tones are some of the band's strong points , they way the pursue some of the more hypnotic qualities of black metal to drone into is where you here the Fell Voices among them.This is really well executed in "Crown of Black Flame". The echoing cavern that Fell Voices records in must have been used for this album as well.

The album closes out with "Funereal Vortex" that starts off on a similar left hand path as Mayhem might and then winds up in a more atmospheric almost Cure like place in the final two minutes. So that is quiet a dynamic journey. I'm not done soaking all of this in, but think this should get a 9.It uphold Fallen Empires track record and is a bold stab at a different take on black metal that I can appreciate. A dramatic step out of the comfort zone of all the players involved, who captured some great sounds here, some of which will be familiar to fans of their respective bands ,but darker and more melodic.

Incantation : "Dirges of Elysium"

The intro to this one caught me off guard as it sounds to refined for these guys but they lash back with "Debauchery" which reminds me more of their classic sound. The low are a gurgle lower than Morbid Angel, the solos are almost as chaotic but not as flashy as Trey.The raw cavernous sound that I think of those guys influencing the current crop of so called occult death metal bands with is not present. They get the privilege of hitting so hard on the first song that it's sheer heaviness alone is impressive, but the rest of the album now has to do something different. So it find them in a catch 22 of most bands like this how to maintain the sound long time fans want and be innovative.

They decide to rely on sheer brutality by getting even faster on the following song. The drumming is dialed in. They know how to bring it when it comes to death metal riffage as well making it hard to argue against this. On their 9th album they have this working like a well tuned killing machine, even when they drop down to the doom pacing of "Carrion Prophecy". While the only album I have owned by these guys is "Onward to Galgotha" which I loved when it came out, it seems they have stayed on a more traditional approach sense then. Their gallop really runs you over. This is one of the best death metal guitar sounds you will hear.  The doomy evil pace still bears it's stain of "From a Glaciate Womb". This defaults in the death metal blast though they keep it a little more evil sounding than say Cannibal Corpse. At seven and half minutes they have the room to take you on a ride through a sonic house of horrors.No much of this is wasted, which is impressive as death metal tends to me one dimensional just focused on aggression, but Incantation takes it to some darker places.

There is a fucking slaying riff to "Portal Consecration". They song is dark and brooding but even in those moments the double bass is stirring the cauldron beneath it.These guys are pretty smart when it comes to pacing the fast parts and writing songs that don't just form a blur of blasts. This makes those blasting parts more effective when they hit as you are not numbed out to them."Charnel Grounds" hit tones that a funereal doom band could learn from, it's apparent they have influenced many funeral doom bands when it comes to vocals. They pour on the thrash like speed with " Impalement of Divinity".This almost comes across as being the most straight forward song on the album. At the two minute mark they hit their groove.

"Dominant Ethos" gets into the more cut and dry blasting, her are all the trademarks to check off on your typical death metal album that came out after 93.Halfway through the awesome riff that I knew they had in them takes the song on a more distinguished turn.The guitars show some layers.The final song is the almost 17 minute "Elysium". They take their time getting into it and starting out with some soul crushing doom. They stay on this path for two an a half minutes before really dropping the bottom out of things in a bold way. This pacing works for the first five minutes and is aided by some interesting and melodic guitar work.They start to build it up at the 80 minute mark. Th pay ramps up at the ten minute mark, they keep the tension coiled around you, then go back into an angular doom riff.They languish you int the doom for another four minutes and then the drums start a tribal roll to build it out of the pit from which they have been wallowing. The climax begins to transpire in an almost Slayer like fashion before they leave you hanging. While that pay off isn't what I needed , I can still see this album getting some play as I always like to have an album like this in my iPod to hit that spot when I need it. So I will round it up to a 9.If these guys are one of you favorite bands then it will seem perhaps perfect to you.


Midnight: "No Mercy For Mayhem"

How much roll do you want in your black n roll? That's the first question you should ask before checking out Midnight They have gone past the place Darkthrone was out into sounding more like Venom. It is so straight forward I have to ask myself can I make it through an entire album of this? The homo erotically titled "Prowling Leather" is a little darker , but the verse if almost a joke.Of course this means all the songs are at the three minute mark and even then the repetition makes them seem longer. The title track has potential with the Thin Lizzy like riff. Their singer almost attempts to sing.

They return to their run of the mill rock no roll ways , but with a more punk attitude to it on "The Final Rape of Night" that even comes with gang vocals on the chorus.I prefer when Venom and Darkthrone did this. There is a little more swagger to the cock rock of "Degradation". They should be a Venom tribute band. The easing the foot off the punk works a little better for them here but not much.There is more of a classic metal feel to "Woman of Flame " that starts off like a W.A.S.P song. The vocals by this time begin to feel a little stale as it's the same old same old all over again and it's clear the singer is by and large a one trick pony.

They take a slight turn into Motorhead's neighborhood on "Try Suicide" not that it's a long drive when you have been crashing over at Venom's house.I am really bored at this point and was hoping at least the lyrics to this one would keep me entertained. They get a heavier meatier sound on "Whiplash Disaster" before going back to the worn out rock n roll thing they have beaten well past death at this point.This starts making me think what does Darkthrone do that makes this sort of thing work for them. Well they are better song writers and they maintain their own personality in the process. The chorus to "Whiplash Disaster" reminds me a little of Bonded by Blood Exodus.

"Aggressive Crucifixion" would have worked better as a band name for these guys as like the song title they are redundant.They are back to the punk thing here, and at this point it's all similar shades o the same thing. The guitar solos are decent, the drumming is pretty much dialed in. The bassist could stand to be more present in the mix. They close the album with "Destroy Tsunami's Power' which is a little more thrash. The vocals do what they have been doing for the bulk of the album and the same solos come adding their two cents. They riff here has a little more bite but it doesn't keep this album from really biting. I'll round this down to a 4.5 as I can't remember being this bored by an album in a long time.Not sure why Hell's Headbangers wasted their resources with this, if this is the sort of stuf they normally put out I'll make sure to steer clear of future releases.

Hanzel & Gretyl : "Black Forest Metal"

This is their tongue in cheek take on metal. "Black Forest Metal" opens the album and it's like a doomish riff through a mall metal industrial filter, which from what I have heard about the new In this Moment is what they are doing, though this might b heavier. The metal riff are rather cookie cutter, but the tone is well executed, so it really depend on how original you need this sort of thing to be. They do hit some pretty cool grooves at time, but you know the rule about cool riffs here, they alone do not a good song make.

The German trapping have remained intact. "Hexencraft" they stay on the same path, this song does less for me than the opener. If this had come out on Cleopatra records in the 90's I might have been more impressed on what is sounding like German take of Electric Hellfire Club. The hook to "Blood on My Horns" doesn't really make me bang my head, since I like actual black metal rather than this mock black metal, but it is catchy. They do use blast beats on the song "More Metal Than the Devil". I was under the impression the devil was more into classical so being more metal than him doesn't take much. "Burning Witches For Satan is similar but without the blast beats.

One of the strongest groove is on "Evil as Fukk". They keep the theme of this forest thing in the lyrics and throw in their whole hexencraft craft ting like there is a story that intertwines all the lyrics.There is another cool riff in "Mavro Metaliko", that gets pretty heavy for this sot of thing, before they default back to the cookie cutter.By this point after the past two songs the album is beginning to get better but it is almost too little too late for me. "Big Bad Kyzrwolf" takes a "Dead Skin Mask" like riff and blended it with winks to Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf", but the spoken vocal thing makes it feel like it never becomes a song. It feels like they are taking another stab at making legit metal on "Pentagram Sky". The Slayer worship takes place here again."Grimm Ritual" closes out the album with a collage of drum ma chin and samples but never turns into a real song. I'll give this one a 7.5 , if you love 90's industrial metal enough to forgive some of the cookie cutting then round it up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Caudal : "Ascension"

It's that time of the year when new releases start slowing down and you find yourself either going back to catch up on what you missed or grasping at straws in hopes that anything you see might be good. This was the latter. There are many labels being thrown around in regards to this band, but I am here to tell you that while there might be other elements these guys are post-rock. Not as focused on the rock as say Russian Circles. There focus seems to be to provide the sound track to your dreamscapes.They have called themselves or been called trance punk, but that's another way of saying post-rock, but without coming across so harsh in doing so since post-rock was a thing up until 2011. The last Godspeedyoublackemperor made every shake their head and settle for being just a rock band.

These guys to have Nadja's guitarist Aidan Baker in their ranks. They pretty groove over one riff on the opener "Uprise". I should not have quit smoking pot. This drone would have made more sense then. It does build, but at the nine minute mark when you are only at the half way point, you begin to wonder how are they going to keep my attention for another nine minutes. There answer to this question sees to be bathe you in more effects. Doing this doesn't make them shoe gaze, as there is way too much movement going on for that. This could have used vocals. At the ten a half minute mark they break down into almost silence. The drums lightly tap their way back in to what might as well be a different song at this point. Six minutes later when they have built it back up into a transcendent groove you find yourself more forgiving of the previous droning.

 "Slow Bow" is more subdued with a slight jazz inflection to it, before floating off into a similar place in the heavens as Explosions in the Sky. I like how it turns around at the four minute mark and gets darker.I can see the kraut rock comparisons here, but it won't change the fact they are a post-rock band.In the song's final minutes the sonic clouds become a blanket of white noise. Sure this is trance like , but there is nothing punk about it. The closing song "451s2" is how a lunar landing might feel on DMT. Two minutes in they decide to make it a song and the Stuart Copeland drums snap into it.Once the two minute mark comes and they are still resistant to build this into something with hopes to rock the fuck out . Overall I'll give this one a 7.5, some cool idea , round it up if you like instrumental post- rock with an odd creative ear.