Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 15 Goth/ Industrial Albums of 2014



Many of the normal contenders for this list have crossed over from post- punk into rock n roll. So now I'm throwing everything into the pot that is too dark for other lists, post-punk is here, dark folk is here, goth has ranged from Dead Can Dance to Velvet Acid Christ so it's all over the place to begin with. So if you used to be metal but are now leaning towards death-rock you are slugging it out on the list with a former goth princess now almost a pop star. So let the count down begin.



15- Laibach - Spectre

The militant theatrics continue to abound. This album is like toned down and more introspective Rammstein, with out the mall metal tendencies. They manage to make a very modern sounding album , but also being true to their legacy.


http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/02/laibach-spectre.html

14-Ritual Howl - Turkish leather

Not as weird as Laibach, but these guys are dark folk ran through a collage of weird electronics and back again. St times this comes across like Death in June, so is anyone going to complain about that. This album also is filled with cool guitar sounds.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/catching-up-with-2014-ritual.html

13- Rape Blossoms - Ruinenlust

In 33 minutes these guys cram a lot of drone and ambiance into some punchy post-punk.At times it seems like they are jamming out as the songs take you on nocturnal adventures.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/catching-up-with-2014-rape.html



12-Gazelle Twin- Unflesh

If Bjork got possessed by the devil it might sound like this. Edm so dark and powerful it often comes across as industrial. Her voice is more than spot on as well.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/report-to-dance-floor-gazelle-twin.html

11-Clan of Xymox- "Matters of Mind , Body & Soul"
An excellent come back album. They wrote fresh new songs, without sounding daated and retained the most important elements of their classic sound.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/09/clan-of-xymox-matters-of-mind-body-soul.html

10- Hemgraven - "Sanddyner av Glas"

This album really grows on me with each listen. Post-punk that is still melody driven the Ian Curtis worship is far and few between. It has a very cold stark feel perfect for the winter months,

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/catching-up-with-2014.html



9- Marisa Nadler -July

 I Recently returned to this album. When it came out it  caught me by surprise as Nadler blends classic country with a gloomy folk. Darkly dreamy mix of Cocteau Twins and Cowboy Junkies holds an almost narcotic sway.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/06/marissa-nadlerjuly.html


8- Have a Nice Life - the Unnatural World

These weirdos threw together a highly experimental batch of Joy Division like post-punk doused in liberal amounts of down trodden indie rock. Tons of thought went into the songwriting of this gem.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/01/have-nice-life-unnatural-world.html



7-Population- Beyond the Pale

This album has a lot of heart and personality to it. They touch on both dark wave and death rock with in the span of a song. One of the best male vocal preformances of the year.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/10/population-beyond-pale.html




6-Shadowhouse- Hand in Hand

When the bulk of this years crop of post-punk revivalists landed on a more rock side of the fence, this band brought the missing ingrediant ...elegance.This emotional drama infuses the album and paints a gray landscape of loneliness inside you.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/shadowhouse-hand-in-hand.html

5-Death of Lovers- "Buried Under a World of Roses"

Some shoe gazers got together and indulged their dark sides. These shoe gazers are members of Nothing nad Whirr, so you know it's going to be on point, they exceeded my expectations here.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/01/death-of-lovers-buried-under-world-of.html


4-Youth Code- A Place to Stand

One of the best industrial bands I have heard in some time. This duo is dark, mean and confrontational, even if their singer is a little blond girl.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/10/youth-code-place-to-stand.html



3 - Atriarch- " An Unending Pathway"

They graduated from the metal chart to goth, as the death rock vibe is stronger. The metal elements are now more of a sonic Neurosis thing and they have left doom and black metal at home.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/10/atriarch-unending-pathway.html

2-Zola Jesus-"Taiga"

She barely got beaten out for the top spot, the deciding factor was she lightened up a bit while the number one band got darker. Still for edm pop, she's better than anything on the radio.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/08/zola-jesus-taiga.html



1- Lower- "Seek Warmer Climes"

Iceage went an "Exile on Main Street" direction while these guys held tight to the 80's. This album is almost more new wave than post-punk. Whatever you want to call it , this album is filled with the kinda desperate longing that goths can relate too, while also rocking.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/06/lower-seek-warmer-climes.html



Dysangelium : "Thanatos Askesis"





I used think of German black metal as sounding to stiff, but in the past year their have been a few releases to make me rethink that assumption. The first thought I had when the album hit me was ...It is too bad these guys missed the dead line for my top 15 black metal album, right from the first song I am impressed by the German band's raw pounding they pull out upon my ears. Right when their approach seem too straight forward for me they pull out a cool melodic riff from their bag of tricks. The blur doesn't occur until the third song, where they become a wall of white blasting noise until a slowed solo section.

"Chaomega" sees the band opt for a more thrashing take on black metal. It also bears some of the albums most impressive drumming. They do employ atmosphere and let the songs breath and build dynamically. Some of their blasting sections where the momentum carries them faster than their legs can run are the only moments where it seems they are defaulting into whats expected from the genre, but have a knack of redeeming themselves creatively after doing so. They sometimes come across as a faster more pumped up version of Venom, on songs like "Aries". The slowed spoken middle section breaks things up as needed.

The chanted vocal over the enthralling speed of "Gateways to Necromancy" provides an effective catalyst for the throaty roar to come back in on the slowed throb of the chorus. At time there is a slight Behemoth element to their sound, though Nergal's more feral side and less of the melodramatics. The classic darkness and dissonance that should surface to some extent in every black metal band's sound is here. It provides the creepy counter point to their more death metal influenced moments on songs like "I am the Witness , I am Servant". The guitarists are good at working together to weave a icy cold twin attack. One guitar provides the creepy unsettling melodies while the other sticks to a more direct metal approach.

This ia a pretty solid album, it sounds good from a production stand point without sacraficing too much of it's rawness. These guys  are songwriters rather than throwing a bunch of blinding blasts at you which fade into background noise. I'll give this album an 8, unsure how much play I will get out of it, but fans of dense raw Geraman black metal will find it here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Top 15 Black Metal Albums of 2014




At this point half the bands in metal today are trying to be blackened something, so here are the top fifteen black metal bands, that aren't death metal bands trying to grim it up or post- rock bands with some anguished screams mixed in...these are all bands that are so pure...so cold.The cream of the crop this years is coming from not only Norway, but also France, Canada, Sweden, German, Greece, Chicago and the Deep South. If you want to take a listen and stream is not up music can be found on the link to the full review.  So here we go...


15- Alraune  - the Process of Self Immolation

The first band from the deep south. This one is from Nashville. Despite glimmers of hardcore this is USBM with enough snarl to be convincing and a sense of adventure that balances out any of their hipster leanings.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/catching-up-with-2014-alraune-process.html

14- Ruin Lust- s/t

This gem is encrusted in as much grit and grime as any death metal band this side of Disma while blasting out some pretty grim tunes. Having a drummer who also sits on the throne for bands like Ash Borer, Fell Voices and Vorde. New York is known for great black metal and here's one reason why.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/11/catching-up-with-2014ruin-lust-st.html


13- Spectral Lore-iii

This album is weird and wonderful. It's progressive and experimental with our forsaking black metal, a unique guitar tone haunts the album and makes this band stand out from the pack. Score one for Greece.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/spectral-lore-iii.html




12-Dead Wood - "Picturing a Sense of Loss"

Like old Deafheaven these guys are metal first and the post- rock elements just come. This Frankfurt band has a great guitar sound and a sense of dynamics.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/deadwood-picturing-sense-of-loss.html

11-Schammasch- "Contradiction"

This band hits that perfect spot mid-period Enslaved use to . Progressive, dynamic and melodic enough to be engaging and emotive, but still firmly rooted in black metal. These guys aren't dependent on blast beat and can sound just as dire and dark even playing at slower tempos.      

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/12/schammaschcontradiction.html




10-Taake -"Stridens Hus"

Hoest descended from the first wave of Norwegian black metal and has been going strong since the 90's. "Stridens Hus" doesn't break that trend.On the first few listens it seemed like he was relying on blast beats, but this album grows on you.  There is less experimentation this go around it's in your face all the way through. For a one man show every element holds its own. There is no question here as to if Hoest has earned his corpse paint.


9-Nocturnal Depression-"Near to the Stars"

Quality Depressive Suicidal Black Metal wasn't exactly flourishing this year, but this French project featuring  one of the members of Make a Change Kill Yourself, brought a healthy dose of despair. Despite the lo-fi production this album carries the drone of Burzum while wallowing in the futility of it's existence.



8-Wormreich-"Wormcult Revelations" This is the band's first release on Moribund Records and you would never guess from the dark depraved tornado of chaos invoked on this album,that these guys are from the Deep South.Beautifully dissonant and chillingly dynamic, my only regret is that I haven't been able to give this one more spins. I suppose it's cool they threw a Death Spell Omega cover on here, I really want to hear more of what these guys are capable of conjuring on their own.




7- Thantifaxath-"Sacred White Noise"

Seeping with angular weirdness this Canadian band might be the most unique band on this list. This album is more of an exorcism that explodes into your ears rather than a barrage of blast beats. However the ugliness and anguish secures it's place in the genre and even broadens the scope of what black metal can be while staying true to itself. It's experimental but without getting lost in lazy hipster formlessness.

5-Sado Sathanas-"Nomos Harmartia"
  Plenty of epic excursions litter this of folk tinged album, but it doesn't distract these German black metallers from staying the course.They get how to be an atmospheric black metal band and not sacrificing the balls that makes this black metal to begin with. This album covers a wide range of sonic landscapes. This album goes to show you don't have to stoop to "necro" production in order to make quality black metal. 4-Ellorsith-1959

There was a smattering of death metal about this Scottish band's concept album about the Dyatlov Pass Incident, but it's so raw, cold and oppressive there is no question this is black metal. The death metal aggression is blended perfectly,so you are never wondering if the blast beats are just an after thought. This was released on a very limited cassette run, so you know it has to be cvlt as fuck.


3-Nachtmystium -"The World We Left Behind"

O.k, we get it Blake Judd has drama. He may or may not be a scumbag. This is about music, so I don't care, in fact I prefer my rock stars to be strung out on drugs, black metal needs more junkies pouring there souls out if this is what it brings.This album has all the elements that made Nachtmystium great, the creepy melodies slinking in dark alleys, the lyrics written during self-destructive binges.If this is Nachtmystium's final album then it was a good note to end on.




2- Mayhem-"Esoteric Warfare"

If Mayhem had tried to make another "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" it would have bored the bullet belt right off me. Instead they release an album with pristine production, that takes chances and takes no prisoners. Attila has never sounded better and Hellhammer makes his case for being the best drummer in black metal. As Spinal Tap once asked "How much blacker can you get ? the answer was none then and it is none now.





1- Nasheim - "Solens Vemod"

The Swedish act is another one man show. The master mind behind this is Erik Grahn. Grahn  came out  of the gate on his first full length and killed it. This album sweeps you away. Combining the lush romanticism of Emperor, atmosphere and incredible arrangements, my only regret it not finding this masterpiece when it came out under the radar back in February.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Top 15 Metal Albums of 2014




Here are the top 10 metal albums. None of these are black metal, even thought some of these bands might have once leaned that way. Of course partial to doom, but death metal fared pretty well this year with some old favorites coming back to kick ass.





10-Wormwood- s/t

These sludge merchants were crushing enough to keep the album in rotation.

http://patacrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wormwood






9-Triptykon-"Melana Chasmata"

It's Tom Warrior so it has to be good right ? Well remember "Cold Lake" ? Tom redeemed that slip into hair metal with this dazzling display of despair.


8-Nightfell-"The Living Ever Mourn"

This album came out of nowhere and possessed  a ton of staying power. Not really doom or black metal, just solid straight up metal, with excellent execution.



7- Godflesh -"World Only Lit By Fire"

Once upon a time these guys might have been on the goth/industrial list, but this comeback album is metal with little doubts. Justin is back in fine form after the uncertain ep.





6-Incantation- "Dirges of Elysium"

Often imitated, these guys almost had the best death metal album of the year. Brutal as hell, but still song oriented.

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5- Agalloch-"the Serpent and the Sphere"

One of my favorite black metal bands that is no longer black metal, but sill had an impressive showing with an album that got a ton of play this year. Even without the clean vocals this album holds up against there classic material.




4- Kall -s/t

Lifelover is back, but not as black.This has a more droning black n roll feel. It just falls shy of being black metal, but an excellent melancholy affair .




3-Emptiness -"Nothing But the Whole"

A stunningly desperate soundtrack. This album oozes both atmosphere and emotion defying sub genres.




2-Pallbearer-"Foundations of Burden"

This one is the rare album that lives up to the hype. The haunting  melodies stick with you and riffs challenge you not to bang your head. They are no longer funereal doom, but are great classic metal.




1- Mortuary Drape -"Spiritual Independence"

Everything in this album is placed perfectly. This is classic death metal. I can not get enough of this album. Creepy, heavy, melodic, everything I want from music.


Friday, December 26, 2014

The Top 15 Rock Albums of 2014








I hate it when people say in no particular order,  have some conviction do some thinking and say here it is this album was the best. So here we go, the Top 15 best Rock albums of 2014. If you want to hear them or read a full review click on the urls under each entry.

15-Interpol-El Pintor

Remember when these guys seemed dark? In some ways,despite it's hooks the album winks to their legacy, wandering in circles around it wondering where do they stand in a post- Cold Play world and do they want to be a part of it. Considering the post- rock revival these guys feel more like Radiohead than Joy Division now.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/09/interpol-el-pintor.html

14-  Thee Sliver Mt. Zion Orchestra-"Fuck off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

This album has some good grooves and answers the question what would Godspeedyoublackemperor sound like with vocals.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/01/thee-silver-mt-zion-memorial-orchestra.html



13-House of Capricorn-Morning Star Rise

If you miss H.I.M. these guys fill that hole, but with half the calories from all the cheese and more balls,

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-house-of-capricorn-morning-star-rise.html




12- St. Vincent -s/t

She nails Bowie's Scary Monsters sound and gives it a does of dance inducing pop that still manages to rock.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/05/st-vincent-st.html


11-the Estranged-s/t

This Portland band had a more Exile on Mainstream take on post-punk, which landed this on the rock list rather than the goth/industrial list coming next week.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-estranged-st.html


10-Nothing- Guilty of Everything

This shoegazing gem really grew on me over the past year. They come across as slightly more grunge like live.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/03/nothing-guilty-of-everything.html



9-Pig Eyes-s/t

Jeez didn't realize how many people put out self titled albums til I made this list. The guitar player from In Solitude shows you his punk side.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/10/pig-eyes-st.html

8- Whirr-"Sway"

The other big band of the shoe gaze revival, this one barely edged out Nothing, but it did on originality alone.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/09/whirr-sway.html


7- Cult of Youth-"Final Days"

For these guys to have come in at 7 rather than the top five means the competition was rather stiff, this might not be their best album , but it is a great one.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/11/cult-of-youth-final-days.html




6- Esben & the Witch - "A New Nature"

Female fronted post- rock that  at times invokes both Forget Cassettes and Chelsea Wolfe . How can you argue with that?

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/09/esben-witch-new-nature.html

5-Swans - To Be Kind

My favorite band this side of the Smiths only made it to number 5. These are a series of live jams they translated to the studio, but even when Gira is just playing around he is still better than most.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/05/swans-to-be-kind.html

4- Ice Age -"Plowing into the Field of Love"

These guys have grown in leaps and bounds, so much so the rock swagger injected on this album now makes them much more qualified for this list than being called post-punk.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/09/iceage-plowing-fields-of-love.html



3- Morrissey- "World Peace is None of Your Business"

Stiff competition for sure if Moz didn't take home the number one spot, it came down to two albums that I listened to more and were a tad more focused.



2-Merchandise-"After the End"

They really edged out Moz by the sheer fact I listened to this album much more than "World Peace is ..." . These guys matured as songwriters, the melodies are very memorable, even if this album is oddly upbeat and almost sounds like 70's rock in places.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/07/merchandiseafter-end.html




1- Wovenhand -"Refractory Obdurate"

This album kept drawing me in for more. It's amazing in all most every way.  Edwards really out did himself . This might be his heaviest album yet.

http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2014/04/wovenhand-refractory-obdurate.html


Hot Guts: "Wilds"




Think of a dark wave version of Cult of Youth, despite the fact these guys were at the forefront of the post-punk revival back in 2007, they are taking another step into dark wave on this one. It has a cold militant Death In June as the vocals on the opener are as chanted as they are sung. At times the backing tracks could be from a Bjork song , it's the vocals that really darken the doorstep. One thing that really began to wear on me with the Hateful Abandon album.... the review has been sitting in draft mode for sometime I will try to get it out later tonight... but it's the drone, these guys at least make a change, even if they sound like the Pet Shop Boys in doing so .

These changes are often subtle and the album sifts into a Psychic Tv haze around " Kite and Shadow" and three songs passed me by before i knew it. There is a vague bubbling form to songs like "Gold Silent" which is really just the intro to "Fires" that takes a darker shimmy. The vocals here remind me more of Genesis P orridge. There is a more militant attitude here, it doesn't reach aggressive, not unlike Death In June. He doesn't quite make it to actually singing.

One of the albums coolest keyboard riffs opens "the Name of the World". This breaks down into a more subdued almost kraut rock verse passage that the vocals brood over. The combination of the two makes it one of the albums best songs.The 80's vibe comes on strong with "Drift". It sounds like it was written with this Casio" keyboard I use to have in the 90's . Something about the song, makes me forget and have to keep going back to listen to meaning it must not be that memorable.

The album ends with "A Kindness". The smooth female vocals introduced here break up the monotony created by the previous song. The synths paint a ominously bleak portrait of a dystopian winter behind these melodies.Just as well I got my fill of this album on Bandcamp rather than frustrating myself with the futility of trying to find a blog that had it. It's cool for what it is sets a nice tone , but not something I need for m iPod so I'll give it a 7.5.Well crafted and dark. The sounds are all pristine.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Schammasch:"Contradiction"




Listening to this album makes me  ponder the question how progressive can a black metal band be and still be black metal. Hail Spirit Noir's last album asked a similar question earlier this year. This album gets off to a creepy enough start convince me that these guys are black metal, if there is not a blast beat to be found for miles around. The ten minute opener has something to do with following a serpents hiss, and the build three minutes in has more in common with Tool than Mayhem. The spanish guitar solo over the more metal under current is pretty effective, but the grimmer than grim might find it a bit indulgent.

They  continue to stay vague in their commitment to black metal, there are elements of "Split My Tongue" that are more sludge like Neurosis. The dissonant elements dress the edges of the riffs. The blast does come, so does a charging riff that is double bass driven but passes for black metal on the song" Provoking Spiritual Collapse". The vocals sound awesome when they are doubled up, often some of the rasp is more of a gasp. The chant towards the end of the song is set after a pretty ripping riff, bringing to minds the albums where Enslaved was pushing the envelope , but was still black metal.

There is a sad shimmering before the pound of "Until Our Poison Devours us". They employ some interesting vocal patterns towards the end of this winding epic , it runs more along the lines of black metal, staying close to the progressive leaning. particularly the drummer. When he does oblige with the blast beats you realize how much he has been spoiling you by not doing them. The tom work he does is pretty impressive and while it gives more of a Neurosis sound i like all of the tribal drumming. The guitar players are not slouches, they tend to fall back and let the drummer take over then jump back in.

You have to have an appreciation for atmosphere and progressive rock to get into this album, if you just like raw black metal then this is clearly not the album for you.They indulge in clean tones like the ones that open "Serpent Silence" on a regular basis. The gothy croak of the vocals works for this set against the almost blues playing, these guys make weird choices for sure. They go a denser almost sludge like route on "Golden Light", but the dark almost chanted passage before the blast beaten end of the song is sinister enough to match Mayhem.

The spoken word intro to the vast epic that rounds out this album feels like something Behemoth would do. What I would not expect from Nergal is an acoustic section this flutters down into. At seventeen minutes they have some time to kill, so why not. The undulating pulse it builds in sets a lower growl against gregorian chants. So of course I like the almost goth thing this band has going on at times. Black Metal played fast or slow needs to have a dark ugliness to it in some fashion, and that is accomplished on this song alone. This is one of those album that I have been eager to get on my iPod since I heard, so will round it up to a 9.5
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Aenaon: "Extance"




This album is so clean and precise, that while it sounds great right from the get go it sounds like this is a death metal band influenced by Emperor rather than a black metal. Every thing is too perfect and not dissonant enough. The vocals are without a doubt more death metal. The album does slap you up side the head right from the first chug. They even bring out a sax to further push it in the direction of Ihsahn's solo work, which I would also not call black metal.




If you really want to get tangled up in a tongue twist of labels to throw on these guys, then call them progressive blackened death metal. They even have a very hooky almost commercial melody on "Grau Diva". It's heavier than a band like Lamb of God, but it has a strong hook like they would use, the guitar players are pretty fucking ripping and deserve recognition. Clean vocals and sax hide in the layers on many of the songs throughout the album, some times they are realized with greater effectiveness than others.

Behemoth would be another band that comes to mind listening to these guys.On "Der Mude Tod"there is an element to the clean vocal melody that reminds me of Devin Townsend. The song cross a weird bridge between Emperor and Sigh, with touches of one of Mike Patton's projects. They do use a sample from the Naked Lunch movie in one innovative interlude that actual transcends being filler and makes for a decent song. They do fall into a Myspace metal Slipknot type break down in the song that follows. They are pretty effective with this side of cheese. This flirtation with nu metal, somehow works with the fact they are big dumb and fun, unapologetic metal without any hipster aspirations.

This keeps getting bigger and crazier. The Townsend thing continues to flourish, along with some pretty fucking incredible guitar playing. I can see my girl friend liking this as it's musical enough for her to smooth over the abrasive elements.The dramatics get raised to a fever pitch as the vocals chanting about the desert sound like they are from a puppet show from hell. These guys chops are often indulged , but never in question, they have one of the best keyboardists in metal. "Funereal Blues" has some almost Geddy Lee like vocals that are belted out a little more along the lines of something Pain of Salvation might do , before blasting in death metal.

There is more of a hefty Mastodon feel to the closing epic "Palindrome".The vocals take on a throaty belt that is close enough to a growl for it to easily transition into one, as this album progresses it gets harder to see why any one would refer to this as black anything. It gradually takes on more of a rock n roll ascetic. The burlier more straight forward attack isn't best for what these guys have shown they are  best suited for . There is a cool dark and creepy melodic part in the middle of this song.

The exaggerated and overindulgent manner they throw the songs in your face doesn't make this the most high brow piece of metal out there, in fact they might just have done Mastodon better than Mastodon did themselves this year, so take that for what you will, if you want more fun and less thought in your metal then this album is worth your time. I'll Give it a 9

Catching Up with 2014: Night Bringer:"Ego Dominus Tuus"




This album came out in September and has been hyped ever since, so does it live up to the hype? This Colorado Springs band features member who have played with the whos of who of black metal. They are alumni of bands such as Demonacy, Kult ov Azazel, Sargeist, Enthroned, Lvcifyre, Corpus Christi and Necrosadist.The opening song hits you like a blur of fiends scowling and blast beats with a eerie melody way in the background. The vocals have a wide range of croaks and growl and the music does hold a sense of dramatics but black metal isn't being re-defined. These guys are very dark which is the first thing I respect about them.

They blast "Lantern of Eden's Night" by you at an ungodly speed, which I suppose is what a black metal band should do. They do have a big almost symphonic sound like old Dimmu, without all the strings, but it carries a similar bombast. I appreciate more as it slows into more of a triumphant procession. The vocals on more a scathing mid range scream. The lyrics are intelligible enough to understand when they say Lucifer . There is a jarring transition midway though , but the fact the maintain a similar velocity glosses this over. They continue on at the same pace, songs' like "Things That Are Naught" continues along a very "Stormblast"path. it might be darker and creepier, though less ambitious in some ways. "Things That Are Naught" is also the first song that really connected with me. By the time however it gets to the more deliberate pacing of "I am the Gateway" the blast beats are numbing me out.

Midway into the album it turns into the soundtrack to an exorcist movie. The sounds of the haunted ritual leak over into "Where Fire Never Dreamt of Man". An Emperor like carnival feel is draped over this song. the blast section is a wall of white noise with no real way to tell which i is up until it slows down. With a little more restraint I think these guys could write some pretty good songs. They continue to march on with the majestic murkiness of their blast beats. It pretty much smears "the Witchfires of Tubal Qayin" across your ears like a wet willie. Three and a half minutes in there is a redeeming melody.

After the long drawn out intro it will take more than a  clever title to make"Salvation is the Son of Leviathan" a good song. A synth drone and gurgle whispers, make this more of a filler interlude than an actual song. They close the album with the twelve plus minute opus " the Otherness of Being". It is a swathe of white noise with a guttural narrative rambling over it for the first three minutes before the real song kicks in. The feral demon screams rant and rave over the blasty mcnasty flowing like wine. The double bass drumming thundering over the guitar riff makes it a little more interesting than some of their attempts to do similar as it finds more sonic power in the way it is syncopated. The song does eventually race off and leave this behind. When it slows a hair the vocals have something better to howl over. This song ends up ending the album on a much higher note than expected.

This guys are really into what they are doing despite the hype there is not a hipster thing going on here. They do capture some good sounds and I like where they are coming from, the album just relies on much on blast beats and could use more focus in song writing. I'll round it up to a 7.5.
5

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Deadwood: "Picturing a Sense of Loss"


It catches my eye when someone compares a band to Totalselfhatred, in truth the opening track of Deadwood's ripping 2014 release "Picturing a Sense of Loss" reminds me more of the days when Shining was good. They are ok throwing in the slightly shoegazing clean passages right from the first song. These guys also have an incredible guitar tone that makes these melodic passages sing and soar more. living in a post  Deafheaven world these guys are inspired to go places their depressive forefather did not tread.

They let the calm before their storm linger more on "White Tears Gently Touching the Earth".  The use ore double bass than blast beats which gives a more elegant sweeping sound to things. The blast beats do come and the song lulls you into a trance and hovers over your head. Though the meat of it doesn't grab you as much as the opening song.They float away with you on "Ending Circles" which almost starts to sound like the new Pink Floyd album. When it blasts off it hits that sonic honey that Deafheaven use to. It's pretty fair to say these guys are more black gaze than they are depressive suicidal black metal.

This finds them engaging you more than putting you into a trance where the music fades into the background. Black metal often has a problem with this even old Dark Throne included where you are like shit , what song am I on? The Cocteau Twins like guitar that opens up "Soiled" makes it abundantly clear this album is sailing onto grim fairy lands.It ends with a more rock n roll guitar solo that is clearly David Gilmore influenced. They go from a cascadian drone into a melodic majesty.

They close out the album with the eleven plus minute "NA1.7". it doesn't touch on any ground that has not already been covered, it just comes across as a slightly angrier and more anguished take on it.However the guitar work in the latter half on the song is pretty astounding, these guys bring a great deal of class to what they do. I'll round this one up to a 9, even though they touch on many of the same sounds they are beautiful sounds, the formula they use gets a little predictable by the end of the album, but this doesn't diminish the fact they are so good at what they do.  

   

Catching Up With 2014-Hemgraven:"Sanddyner av Glas"



These Swedes pack a Samhain like punch to their brand of post punch, at least until you dig a few songs in and then they begin to remind me of Inxs' 'the Swing" album. The bass is right where it needs to be and the baritone vocals have power and conviction in their bellowing. The first song the singer reminded me of Danzig, then more subtle punk and new wave influences weave their webs. The Inxs thing sticks from the third song on. Though there is a little Depeche Mode hanging around the melodies, but these guys are much more organic and heavy than Depeche Mode.

They remind you that back in the 80's many of these bands we are throwing roses to in the club were somewhat poppy for the time. You weren't going to hear Bauhaus on  mainstream radio, but the Cure and Depeche Mode, certainly held some weight on the Fm side of the dial. The title track finds the band realizing their most lush guitar sound yet. The drums fall in behind it opening the door for the bass to drive it from there. The backing aaahs are very Depeche Mode, though they offset this with the heavy charge of the bass that is almost more death-rock and then dreamy surf rock guitar is the last thing you would expect to come out of Sweden.

The album ends on a weird angular a discordant note. There bass player who has been a dominate force in driving the album and grounding the more ghostly flutters of guitar.The uses a similar Euro-funk to add an almost dance element by way of Gang of Four on "Ett annat satt att leva". This almost creates a industrial element as swathes of distortion drift around this cold ocean. This song holds up the melody better than the closing sound, that has too much metallic chaos sprinkled over it despite the guitars players best attempts to create a melodic bridge. This doesn't make the song unlistenable, but it might not flow as smoothly in the way all the puzzle pieces are assembled here.

They sold out of the limited run of tapes, so you can name your price on their Bandcamp.I found this album to be an intriguing enough listen to want to hear more of it , it's the kind of post-punk that while it's not dark enough to be goth, is stark enough to become a fitting soundtrack to a snowy winter. I'm giving it a 9.

5.5

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Catching Up WIth 2014-Ritual Howls:"Turkish Leather"


The vocals fall somewhere between Cult of Youth's Death in June inspired baritone and 80's dark wave. They have a very hypnotic quality that makes them darker than Cult of Youth. They cover a wide range of sounds from haunting western reverb coating the guitar to a slower pace dark wave dance number. There is no shortage of the elegance I often complain about bands like this forsaking, in fact Ritual Howls almost over indulges in it. The hooky synth riffs slither up to save the songs when they get to absorbed in the melodrama.

The tension of "My Friends" doesn't forsake the depths of the darkness they have already lured you into. it's one of those rare songs that I can tell I like before the vocals even come in. The are an almost monotone baritone , not unlike Joy Division, but this is not a total Ian Curtis rip off, like many of the bands we have heard who still try to carry the torch for the creepy 80's. The western feel returns from the grave on "Final Service". Here the guitar finds a haunting surf rock sound. Most of the songs drone on a theme and then add layers, the beat of their drum machine remains locked in the same pattern once they press play.  The singer goes down into more ghoulish bass, closer to Micheal Gira than Sisters of Mercy.

One of the albums most oppressively heavy songs is the down trodden "No Witnesses" that is thick with gloom.  It is very similar to the Cure's "Pornography" era work. The vocals take their time , waiting half way through the song to chime in. They remind me a little of Iggy's "Night Clubbing". The title track takes a plunge into a more surreal landscape. The narcotic throb is not unlike that of the Velvet Underground's more sonically mystifying moments. The vocals retain the deep resonates of mid-period Swans. I'm going to go ahead and include the bonus track for the purpose of the review since that's how I am digesting this album and you should to.

"I'd Rather Not" sticks with the Gira like vocal moan. They bring in the dance beat and the western guitar, so every element that has worked so well for them up to this point in back in play.Sure it sticks to the same tempo and drone on what it does pull together. The vocals have a like more punch  and purpose to them here. The question that remains to be answered is how long will this album stick with me? I was impressed upon my initial listen and will try to hunt this one down to find out, so I'll give it a 9, as it sounds great, but once you get a feel for them there are few surprises.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

StarGazer: " A Merging to the Boundless"






Apparently Australian metal is a big deal. Apparently when it comes to Australian metal Star Gazer is a big deal. So we have a big deal with in a big deal. That makes this album have a lot to live up to. I kept hearing these guys called progressive death metal, but from the opening track it's almost as primitive as anything else aside from some shifting time changes that aren't giving King Crimson a run for their money."Old Tea" takes a darker more melodic turn. The drumming shows off enough to catch my attention and their bassist has more than his fair share of chops as he wanders around the neck.

Is it a  coincidence that the vocals use a gravelly tone similar to the one King Diamond employs on a song about tea? Some Emperor like clean vocals even appear on this song, after it had already won me over, though at this juncture I am still skeptical about the album as a whole. Things continue to take a more melodic direction on "Earth Rides it's Endless Carous" . It does find a more thrash like groove, that weaves into something more along the lines of old Pain Of Salvation. So these are are first moments I would really label progressive. vocally there is an interesting moment where they vocal are somewhat sung somewhat growled.There is a more traditional death metal sound to the title track that recalls Morbid Angel. This gives way to the more melodic "the Great Equalizer" that blends many of the elements that the band seems to be best at. They use the more progressive elements and set them against death metal in a manner than reminds me of what Sigh once did with black metal.

Guitar players will want to take note of these guys . as they give no quarter to shredding. The 11 minutes of "Great Equalizer' show case their shredding as much as it does there sense of composition and dynamics. When the clean guitar comes it doesn't feel like they are milking the Opeth formula.They return to the heavier death metal feel on the next song, though still flirt with more rock trappings when it comes to some of the showy playing. These guys are not bound to long epics despite the rapid twists and turns they take you on, they can give similar treatment to a four minute song as they do a ten minute epic. Sometimes the delivery feels a little like Coroner in places, but with a less thrash angle and obviously more deathly leanings. With death metal, it has to be a very careful balance, this album doesn't really feel evil to me, but if you are just a fan of the genre, then round it up from the 7.5 I'm giving this one.  

Catching Up With 2014: Fatalism-"Mystery of Death"


These guys are dark enough for me. That can not be said for the majority of the music I search though on a daily basis. The hollow vocal hold a static chant like pulse over the more black metal like music, that rips underneath it with sonic intensity. The opening song works well for what it does ,which is give you an intense drone with some teeth to it. It begs the question can they keep this feeling, without pursuing in the same manner. The chug that opens "Isolde" lets you know the metal elements were not by mistake.

"Isolde" also uses almost the same chanted vocal line. So these guys might be a one trick pony, if they don't prove something to me. The one trick they do is cool, but I need multiple dimensions to my music. The music allows for the drums to build, while the vocals remain locked in their static chant. The music shifts underneath this chant enough to add layers of dissonance, but the vocals bring you back to the first song.The black metal elements return as well, these guys do sound black metal where a band like Hateful Abandon does not, with only the vocals anchoring it the post -punk thing.

The tightly palm muted "Isle" gets away from the sound the front end of the album was entrenched in. The vocal still chant they just alternate away from the cadence that was bordering on monotony.The guitar has attack but strays slightly from being metal.The chant comes back is a more dreamy fashion, under the "Don't Fear the Reaper like chords of "the Gloom Reaper" so at least they are in on the joke. I know this is artsy as fuck and the musically there are some really cool sounds, but I have to round this down to an 8 as the vocals kill some of the songs for me. If you prefer drone to melody, round it up.

3.5

Catching Up with 2014- Monolord: "Empress Rising"




This isn't what you would expect from a band coming out of Gothenburg. This trio blends atmosphere with their stoner thunder in an almost Kyuss like fashion. The effects drenched vocals are sung in a rock fashion, think Failure or Tool. This might be a selling point to some and kill it for other. It reminds me a lot of the bands I used drop acid to in the 90's like Sugartooth. This was listed over at my other blog family Cvlt Nation as being one of the top doom album's of the year and while we see eye to eye more often than not I don't really hear this as being doom. Doom to be has to have a darkness to it. Sure there is Sabbath worship, but that without radiating darkness is just stoner rock to me.

It's always ballsy if not self indulgent to open this album with your longest song. Here it's the title track, which set the tone for the album and raises quite a bar for this trio to follow. They follow this up with an over driven rumbling number that is more typical for this sort of thing than the opening song. Monolithic in the weight of it's heavy shuffle, it's relies on the fuzz to hold it aloft.  As an instrumental it lacks , where the vocal gave it a unique quality.

The vocals return on "Harbinger of Death". Coated in the same watery "Planet Caravan" effects they don't latch on to the same quality of melody , but wait for the guitars to make the first move. It reminds me more of Electric Wizard here. "Icon" is unsurprisingly at the same pace as the rest of the album, the vocals however save the day providing some variance in the pattern of their melody. The close the album on a more oppressive note almost closer to what I think of as doom. The vocals don't hold as much strength as they have earlier in the album and the Sabbath worship is pretty much at an all time high. The lyrics are pretty much time and space mumbo jumbo, take another hit from the bong and talk sci-fi to me.

If you like Kyuss, this might not have come from the desert but it takes you on a similar fuzzy trip. I'll give it a 7.5, but you are a huge stoner then round it up to an 8, or just a massive fan of the genre. Not something I need for my iPod, but take a listen and see if yours can live without it.

Salome's Dance: "S/t"



So lets see how they do with death rock in Russia. From the opening song it sounds like production is a challenge , but they have all the other ingredients. This came out around Halloween, so we didn't miss the boat on this one by much. The strong points about this is the singer can emote like Rozz Williams without being a total imitation and these guys don't over do the punk angle. Ten songs is a lot from one of these sort of bands, so can they keep all the bats in the air for the duration will be interesting to see.

"Wait" doesn't have as much gusto as the opener. So the skepticism begins. The chorus is more punk and sounds more like a refrain.The singer's voice takes on a slight Jello Biafra waver. Things get back on a gloomier track, while still retaining the Dead Kennedys element on " Cyhret". These guys can pack a punch, without getting too metal, which is surprising for me to say considering how much I like Atriarch...and this is mainly a metal blog, but I don't think that would work as well for this band. The tribal drone of "Ragnarok" has an angular pound to it. They find their feet best when exploring the darkside of the moon on "Moon" that has a decidedly more Christian Death slant to it. The single note riff does tend to over drone on itself, but even Rozz and the boys could get carried away with that sort of thing if the right drugs were involved. At times at the mid -point the machine starts to collapse, the disjointed "Machine" being one whose drone is not as compelling.

They do explore their more feral punk side on "Spectacle" . This descends into a deliberate pound, where the guitar wanders like a drunken ghost. The vocals punch themselves into the right places to hold the song together. They give into their anger on"August".The raw attack is really only off set by their guitar tone. "Key" find the surreal chanted vocals dancing around the dark disjointed guitar with elegant grace. The bass roughs things up as the drums fall back into a more punk pace.They close out the album with "Lilith" which carries an almost Alaric like heft to it's pound. They take an interesting plunge into darkness on the melodic middle section that has a tribal drone not unlike the Rape Blossums album I reviewed earlier today. The pace picks up and flexes some dynamic muscle that really ends the album strong.

There were a few shaky moments in the albums middle section, but overall I'm more impressed with these guys than I have been the bulk of bands calling themselves death rock this year. I will give this one an 8 and imagine it will grow on me with more listens.


Catching Up With 2014 - Readership Hostile: s/t Ep



Ok, this came out all the way back in January . This is yet another female fronted post- punk project, that wants to be death-rock, but doesn't feel spooky enough to me to have anything in common with 45 Grave. Their singer Adrienne Pearson, has a decent voice, she projects with power, but stylistically seems a little flat in the first few songs. "Snowflakes on My Tongue" does more for me than the opening track, and if you need a X-mas song , well here is one for you.

On a song like "Ghost Lived Fire" there is a more 80's metal feeling, which combined with Pearson's tone on the opener makes me think these guys might have started off as vest metal, and then gothed it up, which is the kind of bandwagon jumping you can expect from L.A., the heavy handed manner this is gone about here makes "Ghost Lived Fire" a little hard to stomach. This big rock sounds holds strong on "Failing Fools" which reminds me of Rainer Maria. Pearson has a strong voice, but the cock rock guitar leanings spoil what they do have going here. At best it sounds like the Cult.

There is a more fitting punk element to "Damaged Goods' almost Runaways in it's attitude, combined with Missing Persons. The lyrics are pretty decent. "Damaged Goods' sounds like it is trying a little too hard to be a public service announcement, but otherwise lyrics are often their strong suit. The metal is laid on thick right from the opening riff of "Tainted Pale", which is darker , but this could almost be In This Moment. However this might also be one of the albums best tracks, so they are damned if they do and damned if they don't at this point. I'll give this one a 6 despite the indentity crisis, by the end of the last song I found myself thinking she better be hot, as I could see that as a key selling point.

Catching Up With 2014- Guilty Parents: "the Black Ooze"





These grimy limeys own a healthy chunk of the noise they scraped up from the streets of Nottingham to hardcore.There are hints of Black Flag to their crust hewn brand of ...post-punk? After the first couple of tracks I am unsure if the tag even applies to the band. They are good at the craft they are beating their instruments to pursue. There is a sloppy coat of dissonance thrown over this with the same recklessness that can be found on some Fugazi or perhaps even more aptly early punk flavored Sonic Youth. By the thrid song however the what you see what you get formula begins to wear on me. If you like gritty punk, this might not be as big of a factor for you.

There is a little more songwriting instilled in the burly bass crunch of "Terminal Crush". The singers yowling is a cross between Rollins and the Cro-mags. It is better fit as a percussive narrative than for forming melodies ,which it makes little attempt to do. Fortunately the most blatant example of this fact is only a minute and half. Up tempo, but never really blazing fast, these guys work more off the rambunctious energy punk is known for. "Petrol/fire/you" has some of the albums most interesting guitar work. The bassist and the drummer are locked in with one another to might this bulldozer air tight.

The title track it pretty much straight for the throat punk.The guitars have a little ugliness to add a darker element, but the punk thing is the running current in all of these songs for better or for worse. They are tight with the punches, but the riffs are banging out the same three chords."Whistle and I'll Come" continues on with the brawling bounce all these songs carry. The vocal lines at this point all seem to create the same shouted cadences. It's the more brooding "Elephant " that establishes it's own identity by changing pace It also makes me wish there had been more of that throughout the album.  This album just does one thing, I can only take that one thing in doses in the way it's presented here, so I will give this one a 5. You can name your price for this raw slab of assault and battery on the band's Bandcamp below.

4.4

Catching Up With 2014-Rape Blossoms:"Ruinenlust"




It's easy to  understand why this Belgian  band's lp sold out long ago, it takes on post-punk from a place that captures a hypnotic elements other bands in this genre don't capitalize on. The album opens up with a dense garage rock number that place the emphasis on the straight forward nature of punk as they drone ahead on one riff, but have a drugged out enough sound to make it interesting The second song is just as up beat as the first. In some ways it sounds like fast shoe-gaze more than post-punk, and perhaps that is what shoe gaze really is if we want to dissect definitions and count coke straws.

Normally I prefer a little more production value , but these guys make this sound work. In fact I can't imagine this album recorded any other way. For all the squeaking buzz of feedback, there is something endearing, even if the bass could stand to push through a little more in places. The vocals that are largely monotone are buried more often than not, they come through clearer on the more hushed tension of "VHS". The angular nature of this song makes it stand out from the more straight ahead start the album got off to. "VHS" Proves the band is capable of taking dynamic twists and turns and their drummer is pretty fucking good when he wants to be.

They get even more experimental on "Egging Voices" . The vocals come to the fore front but with a haze of effects covering them. One thing about this album is it's post-punk with out many traces of goth to it. It is dense and slightly a downer , but not dark. The fuzzed out, blown out speaker rumble of  "Slow Breath" , has more of a punk feel to it, despite it's slower clamor. The album closes out with "In the Red".  At almost 11 minutes this song  takes on a more Swans like feel in the free form way it builds into a psychedelic swirl. It swells into almost a Kraut rock kinda thing. Though all of the long winded drone does pay off in the end.  

I'l give this one a 9.5, the rough hewn effort always shows promise even in the sparse moments that didn't connect as much with others, the drone could have been more condense for what these guys are doing since they aren't in fact the Swans, who proved even on their new album that too much of a good thing... well you know. I'm still on the hunt for a download of this album to call my own, so far their Sound Cloud is the only way to go, if someone finds a upload/ download, drop me a link in the comments. Thanks.

Up From the Underground : Dave Plaehn's "Radio Sister"


If you think back to 80's pop, even the adult contemporary had a depth to it. Dave Plaehn's newest release reminds me of this time. The 80's up rooted the rock stars of the 70's and forced them to contend with the swing towards pop in the post- disco world. This made established artists scramble to reinvent themselves.  Dave released his first solo album in 1981, so it makes sense the decade left it's stamp on him. This is not a bad thing as it causes him to embrace that same courage to redefine himself with each song. In doing this he might set gospel backing singers against reggae grooves, and then on the next song "mix fusion jazz with the type of pop Paul Simon dabbled in on his"One Trick Pony" album.

The  title track fins a subtle European flavor with  Polices like guitar against folk like chord progressions. There's already a lot going on by  the time  Culture Club like harmonica. Plaaehn is an excellent singer in the manner he can throw his voice around while retaining a James Taylor like smoothness, though other influences bubble to the surface like the Elton John robustness he belts out on "Is Any Body Listening". But since this is not a piano driven song, that might not be as obvious due to the other elements he camouflages this with.

Sure the 80's thumbprint is all over this album, but it is not to say that there are not some songs that defy the decade cliches and would sit well on the radio next to today's pop market.The Jimmy Buffet island feel to 'Hello , Melinda" is not unlike something Jack Johnson or Zac Brown would do.The Tom Petty meets Fleetwood Mac swing of 'Better Things to Do" might not transcend it's arrested development, but it is fun. What can I say I grew up in the 80's so these stylistic spurts take me back to what I might have heard on the radio when my mom was driving me to school and I was unable to listen to Twisted Sister or Dio.

The frenetic jangle of the guitar to "Soda Fountain" compliments  the vocals in a way that  brings to mind the Proclaimers and Talking Heads, before it launches in a more ska section.I suppose Paul Simon's "Graceland" period also had these elements.

At his core Plaehn is a soulful pop crooner, in some ways not unlike Lyle Lovett's plaintive mid range, though he doesn't go into Lyle's moodier lower register.He does have a much more adventurous upper register than Lovett.Not that he can reach down into a baritone, but when he does it's boisterous and more Elvis fashioned. He really showcases on a A Capella Leadbelly Medley. The blues that he comes from is really only fully embraced on the closing track. Overall this album takes you back to a time when songwriting had more soul even in it's slickest and most commercial moments  than what the radio is ridden with now. 80's babies take note.  

Up From the Underground: G2P





G2p is not the name of the robot from the new Star Wars trailer, it is a band from Tampa. The affinity for up beat grooves seems more fitting for a band out of Jacksonville or Fort Lauderdale, instead of the city best know for pretty much creating death metal as we now know it. This guys fit into the guilty pleasure side of the dial. If you thought early Incubus was not that bad then you will understand the frequency these guys are coming from. The singer even as a twinge of Brandon Boyd to his voice. They know how to reach for the big hooks like Incubus once did during their late 90's heyday.

One thing I found impressive about these guys is how they have some funk and reggae to their sound, but have the restraint and good taste to not turn this into rap rock. What they got the have to give to your mother on "Me". Though they are more fluidly rock than Flea and company. They are smoking from the same bong as 311 at times . They bring to mind the famous Keith Richards quote "It's better to steal than to barrow, if you barrow you have to give it back." This fits for G2P, once you think you have them red handed, they inject something with a very different identity. You think that's the Chilli Peppers's guitar tone? Think again there is a slight country twang to it. Through out the album , which is very well produced, the guitarist sorts through some interesting clean tones, his distorted tone, might not appease metal fans who need a much thicker gain. These guys are also in standard tuning which sometimes gives the more casual chugs a Green Day feel.

The singer's brassy second tenor, knows it's way around a melody. He has enough personality to it so he doesn't sounds like an Adam Levine clone. He even touches on the sort of charisma a pop singer like Bruno Mars capitalizes on. I like the throaty blues accents he throws in really quickly.

The band closes the ep out with the most adventurous song "Scream". It hits almost Tool inflected prog. The drummer shows his worth on this song. It sounds like this is the one they have the most fun with live and cranked up to ten it comes across heavier than in the studio as well. Even the darker palm muted opening riff of "Purge", suggests these guys have a metal side that is battling against the desire to be radio friendly. If this is pop rock then I will take these guys any day over the beardy folk thing.

 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hands of Orlac: "Figli Del Crepuscolo"




How do you feel about Italian Horror movies? This is the first question that needs to be asked when going into Hands of Orlac's new album. They embrace the sound tracks of those cult classics and blend them with straight up vest metal. It's more genuine than anything Ghost is putting out now even with it's flute solos and Devil's Blood can never return. These guys and ghouls embrace that style of occult rock. Two minutes into the first real song 'last Fatal Drop' they really get heads banging and fist pumping , before ripping into a guitar solo. The Flute does at times really call forth Blood Ceremony, but this alum is much darker than the more freedom rock hippy dippy vibes Blood Ceremony began to embrace.

There heavier moments embrace a rawer brand of dark metal, like Mercyful Fate or the first two Iron Maiden albums. Yet these teeth are not bared for long before the smoke flows like the Mystery Machine and we are mellowing out. The guitar attack is the albums strong point. The vocals work for what they are doing, but tend to float around in a similar range. They creep from one minor key to the next.The sampled screams work well over the power metal bombast of "A Coin in the Heart". This song goes on an Iron Maiden like adventure, galloping all over the battle field.

They get even darker on "Noctua". The tight palm muted chug keeps the song moving amongst the gloom it casts.There is a very cool break down that reminds me of solo Ozzy around the five minute mark.It has a kind of "Little Dolls" feel. "Ghost Story" is on of the more melodic songs on the album, but the opening verse doesn't connect with me, yet the chorus does. So it's a mixed bag.The doom comes on thick with the oppressive"Mill of the Stone Women". It finds a pretty good chug later on in the song , but it's first half kinds faded in the background .

Overall this album is a fun listen. They suceed at the atmop
shere they are trying to create. If you are a fan of the whole occult rock/ vest metal retro thing then it is worth your while. I like it because not only does it have that classic metal feel it is a darker take on it. With that said I am not sure it's something I need to own, but will give it a 8 none the less.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Shadowhouse: "Hand in Hand"




One thing that was noticeable int 2014 is where most of the current crop of "post-punk" revivalist bands trying to bring back goth missed the boat. Sure a lot of it was enjoyable, some of it even memorable, but it lacked something very tangible that made 80's post-punk/death-rock/goth bands what they were. That x-factor is elegance and romanticism. Shadow House gets this. They have ample rock kick to  the opening track, but the x-factor is  best  showcased on "Haunted". The synths are a key part of this, but the guitar is really complimenting it, to create layers. These layers are what keep them from just being a dark punk band.They don't shy from the kinetic elements of punk that goth sprang from. But truth be told goth owes much more to David Bowie's theatrics than it does the Dead Boys.

The emotive web woven on "Lonely Psalm" re kindles the same passionate place that made "Disintegration" such a great album. It's the sort of feeling that makes me want to stop eating, grow my hair out and start smoking clove again.The songs are less sprawling than the pictures Robert Smith paints with his guitar, yet despite the some what lo-fi production the guitarist makes the most with what he is working with. All the right effects are in all the right places. The singer has heart to his baritone croon, he is not just doing an Ian Curtis impersonation. "Old Crime" could almost be spun into an 80's night set and go unnoticed.

Dynamically they work in varied shades of gray. The band's motto is "Play loud, dance slow" is the majority of the songs cater to that ethos. The pace gets brisker for "Start Again", ebbs and flows back and forth from the moodier verse to the more pulse pounding chorus. Lyrically  these poetic shout outs to  heartbreak are moaned out in vague metaphor. "Toys" carries a dark western feel to it, the guitar tone here hits it's creepy peak. While the band cites the Chamelons on their Facebook as their influence, the Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen certainly seem more prevalent. Whatever the case aside from guitar tones, their is no glaring mimicry. In placing the emphasis on letting each song stand on it's own two feet, they are surprisingly original in a genre that owes so much of it's life to the past. They really go against the grain by really only giving a nod to Joy Division with albums darkest song 'We Don't Belong" that closes out the album. The singer also takes on a lower more dead pan inflection in his voice.

This album is by and large without flaw so I'll round it up to a ten and see how it stays with me. If you are tired of the same old same old hipster post-punk then these guys are worth your while, strangely being from Hipster centric Portland, they are very honest and devoid of irony in what they do. These are not some hard core kids playing around after listening to 'Flood Lands" they are well verse in what makes the genre work. They are on the second pressing of the single for "Haunted" the full length is being released on Gone Home Records. Mass Media Records. So seek them out, or this will be the best goth record of 2014 that you didn't get to hear.

Cowards: " Rise to Infamy"






Living up to the title of their upcoming a;bum, this band is sure to have garnered  much infamy. There is a great deal of buzz about an album that doesn't come out until February. The album is poured from a vat of very dark riffage. These differ in pacing, and are often dynamic in terms of syncopation. As a whole this is too heavy a place for melody to flourish. The blast beats come across more as ticks than the band committing to black metal.  like a darker more dissonant spastic version of Eyehategod.

Their lead screamer torturers his throat with almost incomprehensible outbursts.His vocal are more often than not layered. Some of the layers are harsher than other, none sung, but vary in the manner the intensity is deliver, sometimes it carries a more hard core element.His screaming eventually makes many of the songs sound they same.

The heavy handed manner the point is hammered home on  "Frustration(is my girl)" makes for more of a dense slab of sound than a song. The guitar sound still allows for notes to be heard. They really love their feedback. The riffs in  "Beyond My Hands" sound like a heavier version of newer Alice in Chains. Though this groove gives way to an unraveling. At other times the remind of the post-Converge world we live as They throw some insanely heavy riffs. You become numb to the beating by the time the album gets to "Low Esteem".

"Wish For Infamy"finds it's groove around the angular pieces of charred wreckage the guitars leave behind.It doesn't stray to far from the overall vibe of the album that is ...here is what it sounds like to set rabid dogs on fire. The most sonic moment on the album is "Bended Knee" , but this slight tinge of atmosphere is tempered with their gritty metallic hard core attack. The drummer is pretty impressive, there is some Dave Lombardo influence that creeps into some of his cymbal work, the double bass is no where near being as up in your face as Slayer.

One of the pluses of this album is these guys don't rely on ten minute epics, the song vary from short bursts to some longer pieces ,though by the last song this album had become a blur as it falls back into being variations of a theme. This theme descends into chaos by the albums end, but really where else could it have gone, because once you get to ten where else is there to go? This album is impressive, but hit's you with one really heavy thing repeatedly after you have already gotten the message. I'll give it a 6.

Sunday, December 14, 2014




















Nux Vomica has been on the tips of every one's tongue and even more so that the end of the year lists are rolling out and they are a hip horse to bet on. Portland is filled with Hipsters. These guys seem pretty genuine in what they are doing, and just happen to be caught in the hype. But do they live up  to that is the question we are going to answer.

This album is comprised of three songs, the shortest is 11 mins and the longest is 19. Not really something for shuffle mode. This must be consumed as one whole for to get the most of it. They win me over on their fluid dynamics. Whatever sound you want to lable them as , crust , sludge, black metal, hard core, they bridge these gaps in a very organic manner. They let the pound ring out, but I would not say they are doom, just playing slower.