Sunday, May 31, 2015

Muerte : "Lp"

At this point we have had the history lessons on the incestuous path from which goth sprang from punk rock...or glam in the 70s, while punk wants to take credit it's really Lou Reed and Bowie, who are the fore fathers, but just search this blog with the word goth and you can catch up on this history. Now today we have  the debut album from these Mexican punks, who know just enough about the cross roads goth came from to want to be cooler than the average punk band , but at their heart they are squatting in the gutter rather than hanging at the bat cave . They have the bass tone down, which is fortunate since that is what largely propels the first song. You are on the fourth song before you know and most of them sound the same. I went back and gave them another listen and came to the same conclusion . The reason for this is two fold. One the guitar is often back in the mix so you can't clearly hear whats gong on. Sometimes it does put up on top of the monitors once in while for a riff that is slightly spookier than your average punk. But the second reason plays into that last statement. Your average punk band sounds like every other average punk bands it's only the great ones that stand out for the one ...two... three... go. Which is why I am pretty picky about what punk I listen to. The fact the lyrics are in Spanish also adds to the songs all having a similar sound since they are spat out in such a similar shouted tongue.

The song that is named after there band is the first song that stands out after the opening track. There are a few ok moments scattered about in a couple of other songs. Though this one eventually descends into that boring snare pound. the finally two songs on this album begin to employ more of the darker things that have worked better on this album. Like more effects on the guitar. The last song maybe not as much as the one before it as it just kinda pounds its way down the same path you have been on for the duration of this album. Sure it's darker than your average punk. So if dark punk is your thing then you might dig this. I like dark punk as well but the reason this doesn't work so well is the flat dynamics. Every thing is full speed go and it's all a blur, the moments that don't fall into this are far and few between and nothing makes me want to return to this album once it is digested. So if you are too young to know better this one is for you.  This time the math did not lie. It's a dead on 5.5 in my book.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Christ : "Tower"

When I was a kid and there was no Internet and these things called record stores, I would look for obscure music even then but worked under the premise that the music in side the packaging would sound  how the art work looked. This was not always the most accurate predictor. Here however is an example where judging a book by its cover would work. I did go into the second song thinking this band was called Christ Tower, instead of just Christ and I think I like Christ Tower better than just Christ. This post rock band out of Canada is not joking when they say they enjoy ambiance. The first few minutes feel like something Sigur Rios would do. These guys drone and experiment the right way. The guitar has dew drops of melody rolling off of it's hesitant playing.They drift into slow-core with an opiate grace that makes you comfortably numb. This is their debut album but only half way through the first song you can tell they are secure in their sound.

The second  song "Rope" comes out of the first as a classical movement might. It is darker ,starker and desolate like the winter landscape on the album cover. It would make a good sound track to a grim post-apocalyptic film that is set at night. It takes two and a half minutes for  it to begin to congeal into the meat of the song. It's heavier in feeling, but not metal. Not unlike Mogwai. It sounds like the minds who conceived this music were doing less drugs than Mogwai and suffering from depression. The guitar still carries the melody on this song its just a heavier burden of it to bear. The guitar sounds like a vocal in one part as it builds into a Pink Floyd like part.

There is more of an electronic buzz to the intro of "Planer". The drums roll in on the toms.  These guys know how to pull out some wonderful sounds from their instruments. It seems to be a trait that surpasses chops. But for this sort of thing you don't need to rip a shredding solo. This song holds the tension on it's gradual build. Vocals show up on this song and they are along the lines of older Pink Floyd, sing song talked. They don't arrive until the end of the song and the tension is really never released. They close out the album with the 11 minute "Ornement" which hovers around the same riff. It does have a nice mournful quality to it, but as a composition doesn't really hang with the other songs until the final three minutes. It will be weird for this band to go on tour with Cult of Luna who have seemed to have adopted a much more Mastodon like rock feel to their music. I think these guys are off to a good start and look forward to hearing how they expand their sound in the future. I'll go ahead and give this an 8.5 , round it up another half point to a 9 if you just love instrumental music and prefer it without vocals, as the sparse vocals that are on one song are never revisited.

Ommadon: 'Empathy For the Wicked"

I won't listen to most albums that are two twenty minute songs, it's not going on the iPod so why get attached? The first song if it to be called that latches onto on riff and doesn't let go. The drumming is really the only impressive element to this. Tone alone only goes so far. There are plenty of bands who have found it that write actual songs with vocals and melody.This is droning but not in a hypnotic way. It quickly becomes background music to me as it seems the first song only has two parts to it in the first ten minutes.

The second song starts off white noise . Five minutes into the next twenty minute song and it is hanging a difference that could only be measured as a vibration.If you like listening to this you also enjoy the sound of traffic out side your window in rain . The sound get denser and more machine like, but still refuses to become music by the ten and a half minute mark. Drums come in at the fourteen minute mark , meaning this song could and should have been shaved down to eight minutes. the riff that does finally surface sounds so much like one of the riffs from the first song that it doesn't make the pay off for having endured the first 14 minutes worthwhile.

I'm not sure if I have ever scored an album a one before because it would me that I could not make it past the first song. I made it though this one but wasted forty plus minutes of my life doing so. I love doom. This is just noise. It's gets a 2 . Round it up if you love noise and sniff some more glue.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Circle of Ouroborus : "Alttarimyllyt"

Circle of Ouroborus has often dealt an unpredictable product when dropping albums. It could border on death rock it could be more black metal. This new album seems to bring many of the varied worlds this project has travelled in together in a pretty cohesive fashion that shows enough of every shade of sound.The exotic waver to the riff leading into "Puutarha" is a creative high point for this project. The song throbs rather than drones.This streak is broken on the more plodding drone of "Perilla" that hangs on the same note, while emotive screaming echoes into the distance.

 It's only three songs of black metal before the acoustic neo-folk comes in. The first of these songs "Loputon" reminds me of a cross between Death in June and Dead Can Dance. The instrumentation is more like Brendan Perry's solo work and the vocals are more Death in June.The acoustic guitar is captured really well, which is surprising coming from a project that is normally muddy and lo-fi. However the second acoustic song, doesn't have the impact the first one had. The novelty is quickly wears off. So by the third one of these strummed folk hymns you are waiting for something to change. The singer's voice hear is a notch above Varg's folk singing. I am all for clean singing and applaud the fact it sounds like they cared about how this would sound. The last song falls out of the song preceding it so it retains a similar feels and the guitar melody carries over as well. The vocals are more broken up into a chant. But they don't bring anything new to the neo-folk table.

The neo-folk songs sound too similar , the black metal songs are some of their better stuff to date, so hopefully next time they will expand upon that and take what lessons they might have learned experiementing with folk and apply them to black metal. I will give this a 7.

Prurient : " Frozen Niagara Falls"

What makes this album stand out to me as opposed to other drone filled noise albums that paint with similar ambiance is that this album tells a story. It often leans closely to Skinny Puppy like industrial. The melodies that haunt this album are subtle drops of crystal onto  into the black pool of abrasion. The coarse robotic screams of "are you rotting in there" are a good example of how the album makes the most of the vocals that do appear. Some moments are more challenging than others. The glitch and feedback coated "Sorrow with a Braid" which is more of a noise ridden interlude. There is a edm feel to "Every Relationship Earthwise". Despite the inclusion of vocals I am split as to if "Traditional Snow Fall " is even a real song. I have listened to it a few times tryings to decide. This decision is made easier on something like the kraut rock synths of "Jester in Agony".

There narrative begins to take more form on " Shoulders of Summerstones. You begin to hear similar synth themes repeat themselves. "Greenpoint" introduces acoustic guitar into the mix and then the rise of the machines takes over. The depressing story of addiction continues into "Live Torn Apart". The story really takes more form the further into the album you go. The whispered chant of "You'll turn water into wine , never again" shows the downside of Jesus for an alcoholic. The title track is a shadowy interlude of machines crashing and/ or having mental break downs. Then the darker turn comes on "Cocaine Daughter" the effected samples and spoken word serve as the focal instruments.The second part of the title track closes out the album with a barrage of distorted voice and feedback.

When the story is standing out and melody is at least waiting in the wings this album is in stellar form. It is heavy on atmosphere and often side tracked with numerous interlude into feedback and the squeal of frequencies being diverted. I'll give this one a 7.5. If you have a high threshold for noise then round it up another point , I think this is a direction this project should continue to expand upon.

Crosss : "LO"

 I've been looking forward to this album, as I have like everything I heave heard from these Canadians up until this point. From the opening song its clear that while there is a doom-ish side to what they do it is wrestling against their indie rock side. The indie rock song tends to dominate the vocals, with fuzzed out guitar and big burly bass plodding behind to provide most of the beef."Eye Senance" gets darker than the opener, the vocals taking a less conventional melody line. They achieve something of creepy beauty on here. Many bands call themselves occult, but don't achieve anything more than a retor feel, while these guys and gals touch on moments that could be from the score of a horror movie, colliding with the unease in a very angular path. They seem to be digging deeper into thicker heavier tones with each songs. It sounds like male vocals come in for "Golden Hearth" , but they are rather androgynous like early David Bowie, dosed with Syd Barret in a grungy rumble.This 60s Brit influence carries over into "Mind". There is a lo-fi element to most of this album, it seems to be exaggerated on the title track, as it bangs and clangs along more like garage punk.When the 60s Brit influence strays into folk it carries more of a Psychic TV feel. They stay in this vein to some extent on "My Body". It's not folk, but has the psychedelic mod laze coats.They hit a better middle ground between this retro hipster thing with a grunge edge on "Kaloo Kalay". The album wraps up with the 18 minute sprawl of "Enthroning the 4 Acts" which is nothing but noise, meaning it's an over extended outro. I am ever so slightly disappointed with this as my expectations were high from the other songs I had heard going into this, so I was not expecting the British hippie movement to be such a big part of it. I'll still give it an 8 as they are good sound writers and managed to sell me on most of their "Cups and Cakes" .

Monday, May 25, 2015

Paradise Lost: "The Plague Within"

The only non-original member on this album is the drummer. It sounds like they picked up where I left them on "Draconian Times" . They pack a punch while still retaining some of their post-Type-o Negative dark trappings they picked up along the way in the 90s. Like I said I never gave this band much of a shot, the more James Hetfield like vocals on "Draconian Times" turned me off at times, but it is clear the years have been good to these guys as their sound has aged like fine wine. While I was not impressed by Holmes on the last Blood Bath album his voice sounds incredible. To call them doom, is off base as there are many majestic up-tempo riffs that would not sound out of place on a Kamelot album. They write riffs with more teeth, that latch onto you. I like the first two songs "Eternity of Lies" is a song that really wows me.

There is more of a hint at their doomier beginnings on "Punishment Through Time". The vocals that come in are more rock n roll. The main riff it's the most original. The vocals ore straight forward. But the guitars are well executed.They stick to a darker path on the songs that follow with "Sacrifice the Flame" having an almost dark wave element to the smoother vocals that trade off with the more metal ones. The melodrama this song and some of the others touch doesn't seem contrived. They balance there goth side and their metal well, over the years they have had eight album since I last checked them out to hone this side, now I am curious to go back and hear the process.

"Flesh From Bone" keeps things dark and melodic, before going into some death n roll, though even calling it that is a bit of a stretch. It is an anthem for sinners to cry out and be against the world ...I guess its like when the shoplifter untie and take over. They take a more traditional metal chug on "Cry Out".Its an anthem for sinners to cry out and be against the world ...I guess its like when the shoplifters unite and take over. They go out and a grand gothic note with the dramatic. His clean vocals are excellent here and for most of the album. As a whole this album took me off guard and the band really proved themselves to me. I'll give this a 9.5

Connoisseur: "Stoner Justice"

I'm a little confused is this what happens when you break edge ? I'm a little confused how this hard core punk has anything to do with smoking pot. This is not psychedelic hardcore, its just run of the mill old school hardcore. The bass player is decent. They obviously have some thrash influence. It hits you like a bag of hammers and the death metal like break down on "Full Blown Marijuana Addict" is cool, but I suddenly realize I am on song four not two like I thought. So all the songs run together and sound somewhat the same until they start slowing it down.

The first hint of a different guitar tone is at the beginning of (Destroy the ) Smoke Machines. The more doom filled sludge they slow into is more fitting for bong worship. I can't imagine how anyone can get stoned and still be this angry. Is this heavy? Yes. Is that all you need from music? I would think if you are heady enough to smoke pot you would want to think deeper into this sort of thing. I did get high and listen to death metal back in the day. I got high and listened to old Converge. I could hear deeper layers and maybe you might hear then hear, but I think there first has to be something you can see the door way to sober before you explore it high and this album is nailed shut.

"Sweet Buddies" is not the first song I hear some Storm Troopers of Death influence. There is a cool riff to the brief "Brick Weed" , then the grind core thing after it is a blur. The obnoxious element that puts the punk in hardcore punk shows its snotty face to many times. "New Amsterdam" find them proclaiming they always want to live in a world where the weeds flows free. There is a cool thrash tinged riff to "Smells Like Teen Dispirit". I like the sampled that is over the solemn riff to the closing song, some girl ranting about drugs. "Ashes" is what the whole album should have sounded like.

It's well played, has some bite to it, but the smoking hymns seem a little forced lyrically. I'll give this a 5. It rides the line. Its well done in many ways , but nothing special in some many more that the weed gimmick seems contrived. I'm not smoking to this , but perhaps this is what you have been looking for. In that case it comes out June 9th.

Lucifer : "Lucifer I"

This is a little slicker than I imagined , but before I pressed play my call on this was a cross between Ghost and any of the female fronted vest rock bands that came out a few years ago. I was not too far off base. It's more 80s than 70s. The groove at three minute mark of the first song was not expected so I am going to keep an open mind.The second song slows into a more typical hard rock. The chorus reminds me of Pat Benatar or Heart. The second song get a little boring. The guitar solo sounds less than inspired. The retro thing seemed more honest on the first Ghost album. They dial things up into this decade on "Eclipse". The lyrics are way less Satanic than I thought they would be going into this.

 Of course of you are going to have a song called "Sabbath" it has to be doomy. This is a much better direction for this band to head in. They hover around similar , but with a little more of a torch song feel from the vocals on "Izrael". The more up temp[o section of this song reminds me of Queens of the Stoneage. Not a specific song , just feels like something they would do back when they used to rock out more. The Thin Lizzy boogie section this song goes into is the best part."White Mountain" makes me pretty indifferent to it. There is not anything I dislike about it but nothing that sell me on it either. "Mourning Star" finds it self in another boring middle ground. It sounds good but there is nothing else to it. They close out with the heaviest chug on the album. But this is not much more than a throw away riff you can find on a hundred other albums at least.

I'll round this one down to a 6.5. There were a few surprises, but nothing to make up for some thing that was way too middle of the road to be called Lucifer, but that really isn't the most creative name in the book and makes this band sound like they are trying to hard which in some ways they are. Many of these bands get by on the lead singers looks, and femi-nazis dispute this all you like, but if this was a guy could this band have gotten away with playing this kind of music. They are not as bad with this as Pretty Reckless, but it gets them by. They are on the High On Fire tour so I guess we shall see them.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Staring Problem : "Long Winter"

On a more ethereal side of the post-punk side that allows them to step over the line into goth this Chicago band is hitting all the right notes , but the vocals are buried. The dead pan apathy of Lauren Owen's vocal style makes this approach make sense to some extent. The bass player is one of the bands strongest players. On "Parasite" her vocals elbow there way to the front of the mix , but once the songs begins to build to build and the guitars swell up from behind here she gets a little lost. She shows a little more range as she lets out a shout or two. The song has angrier lyrics that the band matches in tone without getting to punk.

The lo-fi production gives a muddy quality at times that makes them sound more like a shoe gaze band that is playing more up-tempo. Owen's vocals wander around the songs key at times on "Species Forgotten" I am not sure if the Sonic Youth like clanging is intentional. The guitarist normally plays it pretty safe. With there songs the rule of thumb seems to be what you hear is what you get. There song writing style doesn't allow for any surprises.Not unlike Haldol who I also reviewed today there is an early Cure influence that makes its self known on "Semi Conscious". They do not have as much command of their sound as Haldol does.

One thing this band does get credit for it is despite having a female singer I never felt like she ever wanted to be Siouxsie. The higher oohs she does on the closing "Cease to Be " are out of key. So she is both a strength and weakness of this album. Her singing style sounds like she just doesn't care, so that might play into her performance. I'll give it a 5.5, if you are just dying for new female sung post- punk then you might even round this up to a 6. It reminds me why I haven't been giving the revival as much of a chance , though I do want to get my hands on the new She Past Away, so if any one has it hit me up.

Haldol : "S/t"

O.k giving the revival another chance this time it's a band from Nashville, that understood there sound would work better in Philly. The guitar is kinda death rock and the drummer has a thing for the disco beat. It is the vocals that are stuck in punk. These guys have more ball them than your average punk crossover in death rock.So they more than likely have some back ground in hardcore. The creep factor increasing by a few degrees and the singer comes closer to singing on "Insomnia in Dream City". The bass tone is burly. It growls out from under the guitars. Then it proves to be two steps forward one step back on "Law of Indifference" which despite its very Black Sabbath bass line finds the band falling back into their old punk ways.

They always seem to have a ton of drive to them " Time is Not on Our Side" brings attention to this fact. The drummer sticks to toms and the band gets heavier sonically around them. The punk chorus is the disappointment here. The guitarist knows how to get noisy in a good way. They do not really  give the darkness that should come with this sort of thing it's due until they slow down for the closing song "Beyond the Pleasure Principle". There is not much to it. The song just throbs and pulses until a little over the half way mark when the drums speed things up and give the song more form. You can hear the influence of early Cure here.

There is some potential here. This album sounds good. With a little more melody these guys will be there. This album I am going to round up to a 7.5 as the sounds are dead on, it's the imatturity of defaulting back to punk that holds these songs back  that can mar the album. If you are a punk fan it might be an 8 for you.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dolentia : "Iniciação Eversiva"

Black metal is still one of my favorite sub genres of music , despite the slew of sub par bands coming out from every corner only able to hold down a blast beat, if they are able to do that. I think black metal not only covers a wider rang of emotion than say thrash or death metal, but gives the artists room to grow and experiment. It is sad that most do not take advantage of this. Not sure why I decided to check out this band from Portugal, perhaps I wanted to take a peek into the unknown and see if they might do something aside from blast beats. This is a yes and no. On the second song it sounds like they put more though into the song writing throw in some punchy thrashing grooves and syncopation, but they are not really running towards new ground. The guitar on this album sounds better than the lo-fi sound most bands try to get away trying to relive the early 90s.

Their songs are on the long side so even when they hit something coming close to epic it gets lost the cavalcade of riffs flying by you. Writing long songs can be like talking on cocaine for some bands. You can run your mouth with nothing to say. Where as a conversation with depth you don't realize how much time has passed. The first song that really strikes me as carrying a original direction is "Supremo Designio". They take a much more tried and true metal approach on the driving "Do fundo dos abismos" The drummer begins to earn his pay on this one as well. I tend not to mention metal drummer of this ilk because it kind of goes with out saying that they should be awesome to hold it down, but this guy add some creative accents and has command of his kit.

By the time we reach "A noite" this album is beginning to fade into the background until the song slows down and lets it breathe. Then the songwriting begins to improve on the last two songs, the riff take on an almost viking metal quality sometimes slowing down to throb. The closing song has more of a pagan metal feel, think Bathory here, but with the Lord of the Rings behind them. It seem they ride on this for the bulk of the song, adding a guitar melody but not giving it any where else to go dynamically. These guys do have potential there are glimpses at where they are making black metal in 2015 rather than pretending it's 94. I'll give it a 6.

Katechon : "Coronation"

Maybe their last album "Man, God, Giant"took a left turn in my memory banks, but I don't remember it being this in face style of black metal and though it had a more experimental quality. This is pretty straight up there is a good groove to the riff in "Noble Men" and the guitars are pretty ripping from the get go. I wouldn't say that this album has a typical Norwegian black metal sound. Of all their country men I would day Taake might be the closest comparison and even then its a reach as the vocals are more death metal than black metal. "Humanity Diseased" is when the first melodic section appears to take the album down into the creepier depths. This is also where the bass player begins to shine.

The guitar stays in a heavier thrashing death mode, but still retains a darker sonic quality on "Asylum" . The vocals come closer to singing on "Days in Delirium" which takes a turn in a more Mayhem like direction, while throbbing at a mid tempo in-between angry outbursts of thrashing.These guys have their hearts drenched in death metal on "Shroud of Death" . It's not blackened anything, its straight up death metal. "Death is King" keeps them on the same death metal path , despite the melodic leanings some of the bridges in this song have.

They wrap things up with the title track, which thanks to the guitar takes a creepier tone and gives the bass more more to creep around. They blast off and at this point it feels forced, after hearing the range of what they can do. When the get back into the guttural death metal it feels more natural. I wonder if its harder to be a death metal band in Norway these days because everyone expects you to play black metal. I think these guys have the potential to be an awesome death metal band when they come to terms with the identity crisis upon them. But the album sounds great and they are tremendous players so on that alone it deserves a 6.5.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Vattnett Viskar : "Settler"

I am glad this album doesn't sound like its cover. You learn that real quick when they start off with blast beats. A very American take on this, but black metal just the same. When it slows the song improves despite taking on more of a Deaf Heaven quality.  On "Yearn" the blast beats come to an end and their sounds morphs into more of a sludge band. There is more of a melody even against the rasp of the vocals. Like Enslaved they take the songs through some interesting twists and turns. When they pound the point home and get mean on this album it feels meaner than the last album, despite the fact that as a whole this album is slicker.

With a slamming blast of well mixed double bass right into your fucking face  they make  "Impact" live up to the song's name. I didn't take note of the doubled almost gang vocals that are thrown into it until a couple of listens. There is a powerful but smoother groove to "Glory". The tight chugs on this song demonstrate how the riffs on this album are catchier, making it  in some ways  a more accessible listen. No denying the album is  pretty hook infested. This is not a bad thing, they have not suddenly turned into Killswitch Engage. The bass player really makes himself known on "Glory" when it breaks down. At times you can hear the band break off  from the typical American black metal sound and go in a proggy direction rather than the dip into sludge they took earlier, though this does arguably have some of the post-rock leanings USBM bands tend to have. When they hang on the blast beat it takes on a more atmospheric drone. I know atmospheric is one of the words commonly used in conjunction with this band, but I think that is only one element of the intricate design in place here."Heirs" starts of in a more typical black metal direction. It's the drumming that keeps it from getting stuck there. In parts it sounds like something Russian Circles would be proud of.

On the title track the drummer really shine when he is not in the more straight ahead pound that propels some of the bridges. The guitar is well layered and this album sounds great from a production stand point. The mid range rasp of the vocals is typical over driven. When they dip down into the lower darker riff it has tons of power behind it.  This album is much more melodic than the previous one, in fact my iTunes was tricking me by going in to Alcest as soon as a song ended and at times it was hard to tell  where Alcest began and Vattnet ended. They close on a heavier note. The vocals take on a more run of the mill growl. The floating post-rock parts flourish. If we wondered what Sannhet might sound like with vocals this is not far from it. The melodic builds still pack a punch to them as they send you floating off much like the cover of this album. They close out with a sweeping guitar solo, that proves they have the chops to pull it off when they want to. If you miss when Mastodon wasn't writing radio songs and instead was  really heavy with a sense of adventure, then you will certainly dig this album.I dig it enough to round it up to a 9.

Unhappy Birthdays : Why Morrissey is not My Guilty Pleasure

It's easy to a be a Kiss fan... you have an army with you. It's easy to be a Slayer fan, no matter how many line-up changes they have. If you decide to "Up the Irons" no worries, every one knows "Run to the Hills". Sure most hipsters have the re-pressed "Louder than Bombs " on vinyl. Even being a Smiths fan is easier than being a Morrissey fan. You can always say I just listen to them because of Johnny Marr. Being a Morrissey fan means it doesn't matter if its "the Queen is Dead" or "Ring leader of the Tormentors", you don't have to have the Smiths as a buffer. You want all the grandiose emotion at his command poured into you. Since It's Morrissey's birthday, I thought I would shed some light on what is like to be a Morrissey fan. Morrissey is not a guilty pleasure to me. I have no guilt about what my finance might call an obsession with the Pope of Mope as many call him. But you see, Morrissey's music is not mopey to me. In fact aside from some of my actual guilty pleasure pop like Madonna or Twin Shadow, Morrissey is some of the least depressing music I listen to. Granted the Cure often has songs I find too happy and one of my favorite sub-genres of music is funereal doom. A brand of mournful metal that marches to the grave at 40 bpms. Sure heaven knows he is miserable now. But his music encompasses a wide range of emotions and often finds the Moz not as the victim of his narratives but as the sardonic sadist.

 I think if you read this blog you know I'm primarily a metal head, but the summer before my senior of high school the guitar hook to "How Soon Is Now" caught my ear and the rest is history.Granted I'm often the token goth when among metal heads and the token metal head when I am hanging out at the bat cave. In many of my interviews with metal bands when we get to the subject of what non-metal music they listen too...which is always a more interesting topic, because are you going to be surprised that Goatwhore listens to Slayer on the tour bus or that Watain listens to Bathory? No, but to know they listen to Queen and the Cure, puts me on Fascination street.
  I don't hear the grimness. Bleak humor...yes. Morrissey a genius? Without a doubt. Are the Smiths heavy in their own way? Yes, the title track of "Meat is Murder" is heavier than most metal bands from an emotional standpoint. I love the fact that he compares Moz to King Diamond, another one of my favorite singers who is an acquired taste. If I think about most of my favorite singers I think that could be said about them Robert Smith, Kate Bush, Geddy Lee, Chelsea Wolfe, Zola Jesus... you know its them when you hear them. Robert Smith gets a similar treatment, he gets called whiney. I always think maybe they mean winey, because he drinks a lot of wine. Why would you want to listen to something that has universal appeal? That means you have nothing that resonates with you as an individual. The one thing sets Moz apart from the others is if you are a fan you also find yourself explaining his politics and other sometimes prima donna behavior. If Morrissey doesn't want to play in a venue that serves meat, at least he has something he stands for that strongly. Most people can't relate because they are not passionate about their own views. It's somewhat like terrorism, while you might not agree with some one's politics how many Baptist Churches believe strongly enough that they are willing to strap on a bomb? Yeah, I don't think so. Morrissey fans know it's not an easy job. At this point I have seen Morrissey as many times as he has canceled on me. He has even made disparaging remarks about the other musical icon I hold up on a similar pedestal...David Bowie. While I won't repeat what was said, I understand Morrissey enough to not take offense and know that in his heart of hearts he knows what a huge influence Bowie was on him and he would not exist if not for the doors David Bowie opened, ambiguous sexual persona's alone. Morrissey has been the light that had never gone out for me, at this point I have endured all his silly rock star shenanigans. I don't want the Smiths to re-unite.It wouldn't be the same. I don't need them to. I am fine with just the Moz, no buffer. Sure I love the Smiths and they were the gateway drug, but I can take Moz with no chaser. He can keep cancelling show after show, it won't change a thing, because being Morrissey fan might not be an easy way of life, but it is a better one.

Uniform : "Perfect World"

I really like what I heard of Believer/Law, the band one half of this project hails from. The opening riff made me hopeful. However after some of the other sound were vomited into my earphones I found this was  more experimental than I expected. I like bands to take chances. But I also like bands to write songs. Industrial leaves more room for experimentation than other genres, but the reality of this is it's industrial with a rough outer layer of hip-ster abrasion. That's the New York scene for you. The punk rock vocals have not become a deal breaker. He is cursing the ground some one walks on. The novelty is still intact. I was hoping this would be more along the lines of Believer/ Law. On paper the punk attitude teamed up with industrial might bright the Lard project that Al Jurgenson did with Jello Biafra. One way to put it might be this carries more drone, another way to put it would be this songs are sonically monochrome."Indifferent" makes me want to be indifferent from the one trick pony of a vocalist that sneers over the wall of feedback. He seems to be mad about a fashion show, despite wishing his friend well. By the third song I can't decide if I am getting sick of the vocals or if they are growing on me.

The riff becomes more distinct on "Buyer's Remorse" which I am starting to think would have been a better title track for the album when the noise kicks in and begins dirtying up the place.Midway through the song it turns into chaos and falls apart, which the vocals just ranting around. They earn some industrial cred with Drew Mcdowall from Coil and Psychic Tv joining them on "Lost Causes" which finds the vocals toning down and almost carrying a melody. Here the droning nature of what they tend to do makes more sense with some ambiance to it. I think the industrial back drop also fits better at this slowed pacing.

The album closes out with "Learning to Forget". The guitar rings out with obtuse dissonance. The samples take the place of where vocals would be. I find myself waiting for percussive things that never come. So this really serves more as an outro than an actual song. I still find myself rounding this down to a 7, because the vocals on this turn me off despite some cool sounds that are put on the canvas of this album. If you are looking for some newer industrial to check out and like obnoxious punk then don't miss this one.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Domovoyd : s/t

Couldn't remember if I gave these guys a listen or not, seems like I haven't so I'll give the Finnish band  shot. They drone for the first four minutes of this sixteen minute song that could have been a 12 minute song. Often dark and apocalyptic in it's looming power, not sure this is doom. It gathers up speed at the nine minute mark and vocals come in. They are not growled , more spoken like early Pink Floyd, and not really sung. These guys are good players. The bass players is on it. The guitars are very sonic, some times a little overdriven. Coarser vocals come in at the eleven minute mark.

The is a solid groove to "Ambrosian Perfume."The vocals come in sounding like Interpol, before this turns into some burly stoner rock. They go into a trippy spoken word like interlude before hitting a song that blends post punk with sludge on "Mystagogue" . The more Interpol like vocals return in the angular sonic craziness that is "Amor Fati".

The close things out with over seventeen minutes of "Vivid Insanity". They drone along and when the vocals come in it sounds like Psychic TV. They drone for the first eight and a half minutes before busting into a sludge riff. It reminds me of a Tool riff. It slows into a half time lumber.This is one of the albums less original moments. Overall however I like the range of sounds and varied elements that are the sum of this albums parts and it might even make it onto the iPod so I'll give it a 9.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

King Giant: "Black Ocean Waves"

There is a hint of something ominous behind the rather happy strum of guitar that opens up this album. The chug shows up midway into things. This is much more prog than not. The stoner like riff comes in on " the One God Forgot to Save". The vocals have a rasp to them but are sung, kinda grungey. There are elements of many 90s band mixed in here . Soundgarden, Tool, Monster-Magnet , Corrosion of Conformity and Helmet all have an influence. Even Rob Zombie in the vocal delivery. the Singer has a more melodic command and is singing more than ROB Zombie, but there is a similar quality.However his voice is not slather in as many effects.  I would say they are further from doom than Kyuss. There is a mournful quality to "Red Skies", but it's not fact at times I am torn as to if this is even metal it feels more like hard rock at times.While that debate is never ending, one thing is a fact and that is the guitars are what holds this album together.

Some songs even the best playing can't do much with. "Trail Of Thorns" is kinda generic and one of the more White Zombie moments, mixed with a bit of Danzig.The Danzig side is further brought to light on the blues filled riffs of "Blood of the Lamb" they brazenly rip off "Am I Evil" on this song. There is a very Sabbath worship filled riff to " the Gentlemen Carry". It reminds me of one of Slayer's serial killer ballads.

The vocals eventually get on my nerves. It often seems like the same old same old and the singer could be from any local band I might see playing at any old dive on a Friday night. I do like the horror slant to the lyrics. Though much brighter "There Were Bells" sounds like it's from this decade and the guitar does a good job of holding things together. This album did grow on me a bit as I like the bands who influenced them back in the day.I'll give it a 6.

Entrails : "Obliteration"

The Swedish death metal band Entrails has some buzz around their new album"Obliteration" so lets see if it lives up to the hype. Right from the onset of the opener, it sounds like fairly run of the mill death metal so they really need to show me that they are not a one trick pony. Sure some of the grooves have a tad of Entombed. The vocal get a little more gut wrenching when they dig into a meaner riff. They do hit songwriting with more nuance on "Epitome of Death". I do like the guttural stomp of "Beyond the Flesh" where the band sounds like they are just as influenced by Obituary as they are Entombed. It's too bad the straight ahead "the Grotesque" is not as engaging . There are a few good chugs here and there but the hard and fast rule around here is cool riffs alone do not make a good song. However "Obliterate" takes a stab at breaking this rule. It's the stiff blast like beats that hold it back in the long run.

"Skulls" is aided by the power of the chug and the gang like vocal on the chorus to exalt it above most of the album. The winning streak continues on "Midnight Coffin". Around "Bone Storm" the album started to loose me. It got to entrenched in straight up death metal for it to do much more than fade into the back ground it was not until mid way through the last song that I  got back into it. Even going back and listening to these songs "Re-animation of the Dead" is the only one that stand out when it comes down to the final three. So I will give this album a 6. It has it's moments , but is not the best death metal album out at the moment. If you are a fan go ahead and round it up another point, before going out and buying some Entombed albums and educating yourself.

Valborg: "Romantik"

I finally got around to checking out this German band whose album has been sitting in my in-box for sometime. The album came out yesterday and the first thing that impressed me about it a few minutes after pressing play was how dark it is. For me dark trumps heavy. If you can give me a good dark atmosphere then I will cut you some slack if you pack less of a punch in doing so. The play a gloomy doom that seems to have it's roots in black metal. The vocals switch from a whispered rasp to a low chant. The album sounds great. The synths are way up front in the mix which might be a dealer breaker for some. "Blitz Aus Sodom" keeps a similar pace but with more form to the song. It drones along with an interesting interplay in how the synth melody is intertwined in the guitar .

On "Comtesse" the synth melody reminds me of one of the darker turns the Labyrinth soundtrack takes. When the sung vocals come in they add a lot to the song. For some reason I did not think these guys were going to be this doomy, so I am happily surprised by that.The initial impression of "Sulphur Vitriol Angel" is that I'm not as engaged into the almost shoe gaze melody floats in.It's clearly another Labyrinth moment. The following song only separates itself from the previous song with the more operatic male vocals . At this point they sound like a less industrial version of Rammstein. The vocals take a turn into a more tortured black metal rasp on "the Haunted Womb" which closes the album. There are some dbsm like croaks and gurgles, that blackened the atmosphere.This isn't black gaze , but will appeal to many of those fans. It does have almost a dark wave element to it that puts it much further down the left hand path than some one like the Deafheaven.

This is a beautiful album, rather simplistic in the scope of the song writing, but has some really impressive movements. The synths are so in your face that it softens things and brings more light into the picture, but they always return to the shadows. I'll give it an 8.5

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Video of the Week : Atriarch's "Bereavement" video

Remember music video's ? Well are are not going to let you forget. Hiplanta used to run and still might at some point a column calld picking up the slack for Mtv...but lets face it Mtv sucked , even Headbangers ball began to suck and it sucked harder when they brought it back around 2006. So now I'm just posting videos from bands I love once a week so it's fitting Atriarch should be the first. There are some Lords of Salem moments in this, a lot of performance, but edited in a creative manner ...see for yourself.

Cardinal Noire : "s/t"

The Finnish Industrial project brings it's apocalyptic cauldron to life with a buzz of synths and clashing samples. There is no way to talk about this band without stating the facts that they are clearly coming from the Skinny Puppy school of industrial, if they say otherwise they are lying. The vocals to "Narkomat" attack every thing just as aggressively as the clanging of the other jagged samples and sequences. The third song has a very similar feel to "Narkomat" the first song with vocals. Considering their influences they possess the same dark qualities of other industrial projects I like. The album is really well produced, the mix gives every thing the oppressive claustrophobia inducing feel it should have. There is almost a more metal feel to "A New Form of Machinery" . The presence of guitars is nil though at times some of the distorted sounds serve the same purpose as a guitar would.

"White Dust' is more of an interlude that feels like the intro build to "Flagellant"  where the pace really picks up. There is a cool groove when it backs off some. For programmed drums they sounds really good on this song. This is not to say that if you dislike drum machines...well I am not sure why you are reading a review of an industrial band, but the drums do sound inorganic as does everything on the album, but that's the point. There is more noise to "Black Sustenance" that makes it harder for me to really get into it.

The jumbled tapestry of robotic destruction that is "Purgation" reminds me of  some of Skinny Puppy's fast forward classic moments. However what this project does best is more aptly presented in the groove that rides the slink of "Mirror Shards". The chorus like section that comes in the last two minutes carries more melody than expected.I'll give this album an 8, they really captured a bleak destructive sounds that I like, some of the songs just could have been more song less destruction.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Slow Death : "Ark"

I unearthed a jewel digging into the inner webs for doom. This one came out a couple of months ago so we are not too far behind on it. Another Australian band, they have some good doom coming out of there. Mandy Andresen from Murkrat and Crone lights up the first song with her vocals, she is followed up with dueling growls, both gurgled lows, that are the post-humus performance of Gregg Willaimson who died before the album's release. Pallbearer's Brett Campbell contributes guitar to this album. Sure it is common for doom to often feel like a classical composition and the dense drone drags from one song to the next often seamlessly in the case of "Severance"as mournful song to mother earth. When Mandy's vocals come back in they work similarly as Campbell's do in Pallbearer soar over the grim rumbling.

There is some gorgeous guitar work at the beginning of "Perpetuate" before the smoother languishing side of Mandy's vocals lead in the oncoming chords of epic proportions. this albums sounds great and has a big sound on parts like this which need the added dynamic kick. It sails you into the gray clouds on opiate wings. These guys and gals have really captured what funereal doom is supposed to sound like they have fulfilled all the expectations and added their own touches. The two and a half minute title track is little more than a transitional piece. The only bad habit that they picked up which comes with the genre is really long songs. At over eighteen minutes "Declamation" might be as beautifully gloomy as anything I might ever want, but how will an eighteen minute song work on shuffle mode ? Good for road trips at night or in the rain. The guitars tones on this album are to die for me. The crunch is emotionally heavy at the five minute mark. This is going to be a tough album for any doom band to beat this year. They pick up the pace into a mighty chug halfway into the song.This album is a good example of how growled vocals can be used as a dynamic without creating the whole good cop/ bad cop feel of Myspace Metal.

Piano opens the closing song "Adrift". Then enters angelic yet ghostly vocals of Andresen, who is constantly showing different facets to her singing , like some moments on the last Pallbearer this song explores at time that place where shoe gaze and doom meet. The solo on this song is pretty impressive and that sort of thing while I like to hear the band has chops doesn't normally make me sit back and say "Damn, that shit was on fire." This is what I want more of in my life. Without question this is a 10, not a dull moment, the long songs don't seem long because I am engaged in it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Desolate Shrine : "The Heart of the Netherworld"

I found these guys hunting the Internet for new doom...which by the way I am still looking for because this album is great but it's not doom, but it is very dark death metal.Opens with a dense and chilling instrumental.The vocals come in higher than expected. There are some lower roars, but I think roars and screams are better verbs to describe the vocals than growl.The melody the guitars hold lies over some fairly brutal battery. The production on this album is how death metal should sound. It's not over produced and too slick, but it's not under produced so it doesn't sound like they are playing in your crawlspace. The drumming is tasteful. Devil, knows death metal is the genre where the overpowering drums are in the right place. Once I start listening for the drums I realize I can't hear his feet. The drums play behind the wall of sound the guitars have created. So if you need double bass all the time, then this might not be the band for you.

Quite a few bands have tried to achieve the Ulcerate sound. These guys capture it but without trying to sound like Ulcerate. They left you up for a breath on the song "Desolate Shrine" . I am not sure about bands who name songs after themselves and that goes for you to Black Sabbath, but this is pretty tasty in the most ghoulish manner possible. They do not remind me of any other band from Finland. They are not trying to cop any Swedish death metal influence, this is far dirtier and sonic than that. Most death metal bands have already blown their wad after the first song and hit me with everything they have leaving me waiting around to see what else they can do which is usually more of the same. These guys made me forget that I was waiting around for them to prove that they could write songs because it was evident they could from the onset. The grow in sonic fury on "Death in You"

At first it seems like there is not a minute wasted on the over 14 minutes of "We Dawn Anew", but around the nine minute mark before the songs starts to speed up, it drones me out and I detach from the song.Then it carries on from there and I am not aware that this has turned into "Leviathan". They close things out with another long one in the title track that starts off blast beating you back and blue before recoiling into a groove of sorts. This eventually winds up in a dark a melodic place that I would one day like to hear them expand upon. I'll give this an 8.5, but it could evolve into a 9 as it held me in more often than not and with more listens I think I would grow to dig this more .The only thing that would hold me back is some of the longer songs.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Report to the Dance Floor : Karin Park's "Apocalypse Pop"

She already has two Grammy's in Norway and this is her fifth album, so if there is any doubt as if the six foot three fashion model knows what she is doing , this album is a resounding yes. The album opens with a driving pop song with rough and tumble beats pumping under the otherwise carefree vocal.My finance drew Lorde comparison in her fleeting listen to the first single off the album "Shine" which I can hear in her phrasing that sometimes rides the rhythmic line between singing and rapping on a you be be as broke as you want/ you can be as drunk as you like". The lyrics on this album are incredible and often explore her dysfunctional relationship. There is a smooth darkness that rides songs like "Life is Just a Dream".

The use of effects on this album is very tasteful and milk the most out of the sounds rather than try to create smoke and mirrors. Bjork is one of the biggest influences on this album a fact very apparent on "Stick to the Lie". Some songs will bring on the compulsion to dance like the thick groove in "Whipped Cream Sliver and Pearls". The bubbling gloom coating "Opium" doesn't elevate above what could be a Massive Attack b-side. Though it works on almost a power ballad formula Her songwriting chops show their maturity on  on "Human Beings" by taking the expand/ retract dynamic and fine tuning it.

"Deamons" is sublime on many levels , the honest lyrics, the dynamics. Park isn't Kate Bush, but she uses what she has impressively, on most songs each not it perfectly placed. The album sounds great from a production stand point, every thing is expansive when it needs to be. The sing songy "Hard Liquor Man" has almost a hip-hop quality to it, but most of this album is closer to trip-hop if we are going to really count genre straws. The surreal simmer to "Walls are Gonna Fall" has a stoned pulse to it. The harder shove of "Shake With the Devil" has an abundance of drive to it, I am not sure if it speaks to me as much as some of the other songs, which is surprising for any song with devil in the title to not do."Hurricane" teams Park with Pandora Drive. The layer vocals have a very Fever Ray feeling to them. The lyric are endearing, this sounds like something that needs to be played at high speeds on dark roads. Overall this is a great listen. Not the perfect album, but better than most so I'll give it a 9.5.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Azavatar: s/T

Not sure why I decided to give Azavatar's album a spin aside from the fact that when there is nothing else new to listen to begin digging back into my in-box.  This German band boasts vocals that are grim and scraping closer to a croak than not. They are eager to blast beat you when given the chance. I am glad these guys do not sound anything like Deathspell Omega there are too many black metal bands coming out that are influenced by those guys. The drums do get a little overzealous toward the end of the song as the riffs grow more restless, but it's not a total prog out. This album is brought to you by the letter K as "Kurse" comes after "Kvlt", suppose I will have to throw this up on Cvlt Nation for that reason.

I was surprised the lyric "as you kissed me goodbye" came out of this band. They do hit a nice sonic field that floats you away on "Kurse". Midway through the song there is a cool change in guitar tone as it is cleaner and re-verbed out. "Kaos" and yes every song begins with K, starts off at creep to catch you off guard for the blast beats to come. The lyrics to "Kaos" focus on worshipping the stars and the sun.  The fourteen minute "Krest" follows. It opens with a doomy throb, but from what we've hear up until this point I am expecting the speed to kick in at any minute, it's a test to see how long they can restrain themselves from defaulting into it. By the three minute mark the build has them about to burst if they don't go into a blast beat, the drummer fighting the temptation with an undercurrent of double bass.  They give in at the right minute like you knew they were going to.  They redeem themselves with the disjointed darkness the delve into in the song's final three minutes.

They start "Krypt" with the blasting making no attempt to do anything other than blast you with it. They only keep it up for a minute and a half. It's an eleven and a half minute song so you knew they would relent into something more melodic since that is the formula they seem to work upon. They go for something dreadfully creepy after the blasting and keep digging into deeper and darker places which is fitting for a crypt with a k, there is something about a putrid womb, as he tells his mother the crypt was her all along. So who doesn't enjoy some self deprecating black metal.  I'll round this one up to a 9 as these guys really delivered and surprised me with this one. I look forward to catching what they do in the future.Art of Propaganda will be releasing this album June 29th.

Blaze of Perdition : " Near Death Revelations"

This blaze of perdition doesn't blaze into the Northern sky, but instead burns at both ends with a sound closer to  Behemoth meets Deathspell vibe that hits you like second hand smoke right when you walk in the door of the first song. Not straight up black metal, the calculated manner in which they attack their instruments holds more in common with death metal. It's the blast beat sections that add the blackened element. This is the band's third album so they are really focused in their mission on this one. At nine minutes the opener makes full use of the time span and takes you on a dark journey full of twists and turns at one point I looked to see if this had transitioned into another song.

"Into the Void Again" wears it's aggression on the spiked sleeves of its gauntlets.The guitars are incredibly layered to creature a creeping texture of slithering dissonance. The vocals are gruff baritone growls that squeal off into varied sounds of hellish torment. There is the big Behemoth sound that rises on "When Mirrors Shatter" this gives away to a dizzying flurry of blasting madness.They do not insist on smothering you for too long with these as give you room to breathe by letting the chugged chords hang and then chaotically soloing over them. They alternate between morbid reflection and pounding death metal on "Dreams Shall Flesh". For this to be the band processing their own near death revelations after an accident on the road this is very agonized in it's emoting.

It was on "Cold Morning Fears " where I began to detach from the album as it faded into the background. It has more of the Deathspell thing going on. The creepy sonic coating draped over the cold riffs is effective , but many of the songs still are beginning to sound the same by this point in the album.I find myself listening more for what is different here. The vocals do take on a more shouted and less growled tone at one point on this one and the guitar solo seemed to be better suited for this song.The albums comes to an end with the almost twelve minute blast fest " Of No Light" . The vocals do not attempt to keep up with the blur the rest of the band is at. The tempo sways , they let up to let the chords ring out. The whispered line about falling deeper and deeper is the songs highlights as the bass line also wanders around under the murk of the guitar. I hear at least three black metal bands a day and these guys will be the band that hs put the most thought into their sound today for sure, the album sounds great and is well executed, not the most original but works for what they do I will give it a 8.5.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Various Artists : "Whatever Nevermind"

I like Nirvana. I don't put them on the same throne most do. I would throw away any magazine that use to have Kurt Cobain in their top whatever guitarists. He is nothing special in that department, a decent singer when he wanted to be which not consistent and a better song writer than actual musician. So don't hold "Nevermind" in some hallowed hall when it comes to a bunch of normally pretty cool bands covering it.

Young Widows starts off the album with the weight of the album's biggest song on their shoulder's and make it sound like they are covering Sonic Youth, a band judging by the cover they would have been more suited to handle. Torche would have been more capable with "Teen Spirit" since they hit a home run with their version of "In Bloom" . This should come as no surprise because some of their original material reminds me of the Foo-fighters. In fairness this song should have been given to Young Widows instead. Kylesa tackles "Come as You Are" Laura's vocal work really well. "Breed " is handled by post- hardcore vets Cave-in who do what they do well on this one.

Boris gets weird on "Lithium" before dooming it out. The doom parts work well, but the weirdness sacrifices the integrity of the verses. I was unsure about La Dispute getting one of the albums more melodic songs, but they handle it much better than expected. It was my first time hearing White Reaper who ripped into "Territorial Pissings" with over driven garage punk anger that was needed for the song. Surprisingly Circa Survive grew some balls and was able to not sound like gay Rush when they went after "Drain You".  Touche Amore shows that emo owes something to Nirvana. They also do a damn good job on "Lounge Act".

Another first for me was Wrong who proves themselves to me with their handling of  "Stay Away". They have a very Helmet vibe about them and their bass tone is awesome. It was also my first go around with Pygmy Lush who put their somewhat Brand New-ish sound to "On a Plain". I don't dislike these guys , but this could use some more balls, if Brand New had covered it the song would have had more balls. I know for a fact Nothing has some Nirvana influence so  this was the song I was looking forward to the most.It makes sense Thou would handle the heavier songs "Even in His Youth" and "Endless Nameless" , the first one is better than the second , but I think that is the same with the source material .  Overall it hits more than it misses. I 'll give it a 7.5

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Kings Destroy

In my quest to find more doom I clicked on the new one by Brooklyn's Kings Destroy and this reminds me of what doom used to be thought of in the 90s. Sure there was still real doom like St. Vitus and Solitude Aeturnus around, but this post-Kyuss blend of stoner rock came to the forefront. In someways this also owes something to grunge and even Helmet. The singer has a decent voice. This is however pretty straight ahead and not as dark as what as I normally listen to and that sentence there explains some of the problem if this is being called doomed and I'm saying its not dark. Sure it's way up beat tempo wise. Much in the same way old Queens of the Stoneage engaged in 70's arena rock, these guys have more of an edge to it.

This is their third album and it's pretty polished and well oiled machine of grooving riffs. Maybe not doom, but they do some times lay the smack down on half time riffs. "W2" doesn't capitalize on some of the song writing smarts that were infused into the first two songs. They back off on "Mythomania", this opens the way for new melodic ground to be broken. It is not unlike newer Royal Thunder just without the soaring vocals. I's midway through "Embers" that I realize the other huge influence I am hearing on this album is Quicksand. This ghost from the 90s continues to haunt "Green Diamonds". The closest this album comes to doom is on the closing song "Time For War". Here they simmer at a slower speed and the singer bring more aggression into his vocals.

This album might not be doom, but it's not half bad if you miss Quicksand and that era of the mid 90s. I did a ton of during during that time and this would have been a great addition to that soundtrack , but in 2015 I'll give it a 7.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Absconditus: 'Kατάβασις"

Deathspell Omega seems to be the band to beat in France these days, which is a shame because France had a good run of very creative black metal coming out of it. The Death Spell influence is strong on this one , but these guys are not as blatant an homage as some. There is an angular quality and some dark dissonance , but what helps set these guys apart is some of the very melodic guitar harmonies. They work better when they are taking more risks rhythmically than just lunging at a blast . It's in some of the more overt metal moments like like galloping that this band shines and makes the more Deathspell nuances just window dressing rather than jumping on the bandwagon.

"Exultet" seems a little darker to me. The vocals retain the same scream throughout the album dropping down slightly into a more guttural growl as an accent, but on "Exultet" they are double to create an very evil serpentine sound. There is some really excellent guitar work on this album. The drumming is pretty on point as well, but the guitar is where it is at. Most of the songs hand around the eight minute mark, which is a happy medium for me. Droning is not this bands thing so they are in twisting your head around and then out into the next cerebral rampage. Though on the closing song they do drift closer into the path of droning when they lock onto some tremolo picking.

I had to listen to "Hybris" more than once to fully ingest what was happening. It had the crunching angular wreckage mixed with more traditional back metal pacing. The gurgle low sound that could be an inhuman vocal is another good addition to the hellish mix of sounds, this one has more of an Emperor feel to me than Deathspell, though Emperor is obviously one of Deathspell's influences. I'll round this up to a 9.5 it might very well make it onto the iPod. If you need more discordant prog tinged black metal that is not too cool to be metal then here you go.

Midnight Odyssey : " Shards of Sliver Fade"

Another one man band from I, Voidhanger Records. Austrailian Dis Pater's darkwave past is obvious as the album opens up with clean singing set against a minimal synth backing. It's not until almost eight minutes into the twenty minute song that something metallic begins to stir and then it's distorted noise. This is more atmospheric than it is black metal. The actual metal doesn't occur until over fourteen minutes into it and I am not sure if it's enough of a pay off to justify the lead in. The main problem is the mix  the synths over power the very thin static drenched guitar more often than not. It's like I'm in some guys room who is playing synth then there is a black metal band playing next door. Pater doesn't make you wait as long on "Hunter of the Celestial Sea". This is mid paced, which I can appreciate the lack of blast beats, too many black metal bands have become overly reliant upon them. The long songs do get on my nerves. He does catch onto a more majestic riff that is easier on the ears around ten minutes in and sounds like the direction this project works best in. The clean vocals also appear at the end of the song so he gets credit for not using them in a formulaic manner.

The more Vangelis side returns on " Son of Phoebus" which only drags the intro out for three and a half minutes before metal elements are introduced. When I say metal here it is a loose term that some one like Alcest might fall into. I commonly find myself skipping ahead on this album to try and find the meat of the matter. On a "Ghost in the Gleaming Stars" this doesn't come about until seven minutes in the clean vocals which are well sung tend to dominate not only this song, but most of the album.  The second twenty minute song" Asleep is the Fire" takes on a distant drone. The clean vocals take a more chanted approach. The more ominous pound and the growled vocals put this song above the others. "Starlight Oblivion" gives you four minutes of darkwave droning, before kicking into something more akin to black metal, though the baritone vocals coast over this with throaty growls trading off.

The melodrama is heavier than the metal on "Darker Skies Once Radiant" with six of the song's fifteen minutes embracing the metal. By the time it get's to the closer "Shards of Sliver Fade"  I find the song fading in the back ground with it's drone , the vocals are the only distinctive element, I like this guy's voice and I am interested in checking out some of his other projects. I am not sure he has really come into his own in regards to black metal though this does have potential.There are some shoe gaze like sections in the closing moments and if this had better production value some of the more sonic qualities might have proved to be more powerful. I like where he is going with this so I'll give it an 8.5.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Report to the Dance Floor : Camouflage's "Greyscale"

In the same club as Twin Shadow , but coming from a much more Euro vibe. Think Depeche Mode. Well I don't have to tell you to think anything because if that doesn't come to mind when you hear this I'm not sure what blog you are normally reading. This is however better than anything Depeche Mode has done since "Ultra". They are not totally stuck in the 80s as a song like "Laughing Proves". No wonder the title is "Greyscale" as that is how dark this album is.  So not goth, but it will appeal to goth's who have "Violator" in heavy rotation, as this is which era of Depeche Mode this projects draws inspiration from. They do tend to ride some of the grooves into the ground, but it allows the songs more of a drone.

"In the Cloud" drops things down into more of a ballad. This guy has a great voice that really carries the songs. It's mostly a very smooth baritone with room up his upper register to almost create a tenor quality. These guys have their roots in darkwave enough to have "Peter Heppner" from Wolfsheim guest on the song"Count on Me". This is yet another slower song, though it builds into the lightest shade of darkwave, that is more ebm than not. The appearance of Heppner's vocals does give another color to the song that it needs since , it might be more uptempo beat wise than the previous song the  emotional context is very similar. The groove does darken slightly on the title track that still carries a tenderness rather than the stark coldness of darkwave. I do not however think that what's going on really carries the song as an instrumental track.

The album begins to lean toward being ballad heavy, unless this is chill wave, which I do not think is the intent. This does give his melodies more room on "Still". The pace finally picks up on "Misery". His vocals drop down into a more hushed urgency. More ballads follow.  Some are more effective than others. It really begins to boil down to if there is a sense of movement under the melody. It starts to stray into more Savage Garden territory. But it comes down to more than pacing at times, however when they work at a more danceable tempo every thing clicks into place. The stripped down sound of piano and the singers voice compliment each other. This album is impeccable in terms of production and performance.
"End of Words" finds the music getting into one of its darkest corners the album has shown us yet.The singer's almost too perfect phrasing takes away some of the edge. Though it simmers around in circles from there.

Doom Snake Cult : " Love Sorrow Doom"

So hungry for new doom I am listening to every promo that might be some sort of doom in my inbox. So if you guys have any suggestions of new doom...meaning 2015, that I haven't hit yet lemme know in the comments. So this album is pleasing to my ears in that it owes a lot to Celtic Frost. I alway like the fact these guys don't drag the songs out pat the ten minute mark. They get off to a good start then when they speed up into more of a blackened death metal pace, it gets a little sloppy and sounds like they are going into a rushed punk beat.There is a slight "Altars of Madness" element under the surface, some of the more experimental elements in "Tribal Se'Ance" help keep things varied. I find myself tapping my foot to "Love" but the lyrics are stupid, some one growling to me that we should try to love one another ruins it for me. It is one of the rare cases where they lyrics can ruin the song for me to the point that I could not make it through the whole song.

 By the time we get to "Doom" I fin the album fading into the back ground with little hope of recapturing my attention. We have a bunch or recycled Celtic Frosts riff and little in the way of song writing. I have ton of drugs in my day , but I do not hear any of the psychedelia that is supposed to be here aside from some effects in the intros. I even give "Frozen Doll Land" another listen to hear if I missed something. I like the sluggish beginning then the song goes sideways. "Sorrow" is an improvement, the syncopation varies and gives the song more depth and groove.One thing about this album is the song title always seems to be growled where the chorus should be in a rather juvenile manner that's how I though songs should be written in the 7th grade. In the 7th grade I also liked Impaler's "If We Had Brains We'd Be Dangerous" album, which this album reminds me of in some ways. Since there was no such thing as the internet when I was in the 7th grade I tended to buy albums with cool covers so they would have suckered me in on this one. While they get credit for not going the way of current bandwagons the songs didn't demand my ear consistently but enough to earn a 6.