Monday, April 24, 2017

Hexheart : "Midnight On A Moonless Night"

Jasyn Banger of God Module is releasing the debut album from his newest project Hexheart, that backs away from the more electronic propelled edm industrial of God Module. This project is more dark wave. The guitar sits low in the mix and I had to listen for it pretty closely as it is almost mixed behind the synths. There is more of an edm/ dance current running through the back bone of "Nothing" almost making this seem like more of a re-branding of God Module. His low raspy voice is not as heavilly altered with distorted filters as it is with the other project. He says in more of a static spoken narrative than singing. While 'Stars In Your Eyes" is a turn in a darker direction, I think "Falling" a better song. The purpose of the vocals is much clearer and hooks me in.

He comes closer to singing on "Second Sight" which is a very well put together song. Banger's range is very limited and he manages to make the most out of where he puts what he does manage to get out in his sing song whisper. There is more of an epic new wave hook to the synth lines adorning " Problems and bigger ones" . There is an almost aggro tech aggression to the synths on "Lunatix' and he slips back into his more comfortable industrial boots. "Hollywood" is darker, but doesn't do as much for me as it sounds like it is not a fully realized as the other songs. Though when I pay more attention to the lyrics and the reverb heavy guitars it grows on me a little,

A similar problem plagues" Never  Understand". It has more atmosphere , but all the moving parts don't feel like they are really screwed into one another soundly. When this is the case the flaws in his voice are exposed. There is a bigger industrial feel to the last song. Its a big finish so you can't fault him for that. I will round this album up to an 8, which means I am considering loading it onto the iPod. If you like God Moduile, then this album is different, but still a must. If you like darkwave with a heavier electronic edge then this is also on your to do list. It comes out June 9th on Metropolis.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NEPHILIM'S HOWL : "Through The Marrow Of Human Suffering"

This band from Finland might not be black metal in how kids today think of the genre. The vocal somewhat spoken and declared from behind a veil of effects. The pace picks up on " Of Ordeals and Triumph". This brings them into a more black metal territory, the vocals gain some grit. They are not screamed and remind me of a less dramatic version of what Urfaust does. I like the fact that they put such a hypnotic throb into their music. The song builds but hangs in similar dynamic footing. The ten minute "Hate Revelations" finds them taking on more of a Venom like stomp. The vocals are delivered in a more dramatic fashion with a hateful sneer to them. Less punk influenced by Venom they are clearly metal in their intent. Things get more melodic around the six minute marks as the vocals take on more of a croon and the drums slow into a more graceful gallop.

They return to a more hypnotic throb once again for "Against the Worlds that Bind Us" . His vocals here to take on more of a Cronos like harshness. Not a flat out growl, but increased aggression in the way the lyrics are spat out above the pulse of guitar. Four minutes in the most overt form of black metal comes in by way of the blast beats. The albums reaches it's climatic end with the 12 minute "Through the Marrow of Human Suffering". At this point in the album I have already decided these guys are a bit of an enigma when it comes to Finnish black metal as they are rough around the edges but care about the songs rather than throwing a bunch of raw an reckless blast beats at you. They hold off until two minutes into the song to break them out.

If you are looking for black metal that combines the balance of grit and songwriting from the genres early days with a more sonic swell then this band is who you have been looking for. It generally kept me engaged, I am not sure how often I would listen to this , but appreciate it for what it is , which is enough for me to give this album an 8.

No Omega : "Culture"

This hard-core band is no stranger to this blog as we love them here because just like any other form of music I want my hard core dark and tortured. This is the Swedish band's third full length and even in the opener they drop down into the shadows to let things breathe with some atmosphere as the chords rings out midway into things. There is also a more metallic power, that is sonically similar to black metal in some ways. Despite some of the more heady guitar tones "Phobia" embraces the more punk tendencies. While I can't fault them for being who they are or where they come from in this regard, it's not my favorite side of the band. "Misgiving" falls out of the fade from the previous song into something more brooding that carries greater appeal to my personal tastes. Though when the song kicks in it goes into a more straight forward punk thing that has the rather stiff snare beat I'm not a fan of.

 At times though the ride the line between hardcore and screamo when they go into a more indie rock guitar jangle. As the album progress we continue to hear more of these melodic clean intonations. "Autoimmune" finds such lighter notes used as the calm before the explosion. They do get pretty brutal and battering on songs like "Cogs". This almost feels neanderthal in comparison to some of the moments they have already shown us. "Agora"finds them darkening back into the place that I prefer them to be in. Their lead screamer asks the listener if they know what its like to be treated like a stranger. So there is a very emotional current to these songs. They have an interesting trade of of dynamics on " Unsociable". This may or may not been embraced by the hardcore crowd who is trying to keep their scene underground as this song could appeal to a larger punk audience in the same way as early stuff from the Refused.

They get rowdier on "Within, Without". This has more of the punk recklessness and abrasion. There are some punches that get my attention. It's the moments that just don't sound like temper tantrums that get my ears peaked. "Contortion" is a more straight forward punk fueled song. The vocals on "Safe" are more barked despite the guitar at times providing room for more. The builds on this one are pretty powerful. They return to a cleaner strum at the onset of "Feral Houses". This one finds an angular groove in the syncopation they employ here. I like they more screamo juxtaposition of melodic guitar being screamed over, as they guys do it with a little more class,  The album closes with the angry pleas of "Resignation". This one works off more piss and vinegar than thoughtful song writing.  I'll give this album an 8.5 it's pretty solid the more punk side of this band typically just has me waiting for more of the dark brooding stuff, but fans of hardcore might have more of an appreciation for them.

the Black Angels : "Death Song"

I first came across this band when their music appeared on the second season of True Detective. The opening track off their new album "Death Song" holds all the qualities that originally attracted me to their sound. It's dark and sonic with a exotic pulse. There is rawer rambling rock kick with a touch of western to "I'd Kill For Her ". The vocals are sung in tentative  tenor that reminds me of many of the psychedelic garage rock bands from the 60s. There is a more relaxed feel to the almost ballad "Half Believing" .  The drumming on "Comanche Moon" reminds me a little of Hendrix's "Manic Depression". The vocals are more languid as an almost Stone Roses like haze is cast over the collection of swirling sonics.

The comparison's the Stone Roses era of Brit Pop could still be drawn in regards to the groove propelling "Hunt Me Down". They admit to being dope fiends on "Grab as Much". This song does have a drugged sluggishness to it despite being somewhat upbeat. They come back stronger with the more honest and intimate drone of " Estimate". There is a more snake like motion to the more upbeat "I Dreamt". It comes closer to rocking out than some of the albums more drugged out earlier moments. The pace gets marginally brisker with another ode to drugs on "Medicine". The keyboards bring another shade from the 60's into what they are doing.

The vocals drop into a lower effected murmur on "Death March" . I like it a lot as is it's much darker almost to the point of sounding like some of Psychic TV's more death rock like moments. There is the lazy space dirge "Life Song" that ends the album by floating away with it. This album recreates a mood I haven't heard since I used to get stoned to the Stone Roses senior year of high-school,so I'll round it up to a 9.


Jordablod : "Upon My Cremation Pyre"

The band from southern Sweden is not trying to emulate Entombed. There are some guitar passages that work together to breathe a sense of melody into things. The solos often lingers past the allocated sections. This is done with a very organic sense to both the tones on the album and the arrangements. They walk the line between death metal and black metal in a manner not unlike their country men in Tribulation. "Liberator of Eden" . Reverb coats the guitars. They hold onto the sense of melody when "Chants for the Black One kicks in. The arrangement doesn't stick as solidly and this sounds like it devolves into jamming. Some of the punches and accents towards the end of the song have their thinking caps more firmly intact.

Speaking of jam , they do that on "Hin Hale" and instrumental that works off feeling more than trying to dazzle you with prog chops. They attack "Sculptor of the Future" with renewed fury. This song is a little more straight forward, though manages to touch upon some sonic frequencies more kin to black metal. The vocals remain in their dray mid-range rasp not only for this song but the bulk of the album. "Of Fiery Passion" finds the band allowing them to finally ebb down into some atmosphere, which I think is important as it keeps them from being monochromatic. They stir things back up into more of a black metal frenzy, but this is black metal that more in common with Krallice or Mutilation Rites than Watain or Bathory. You can hear the bass amid the blast beat which gives them more balls and the subtle hook to the riff when they come out of the blast beat section at the 5 and a half minute mark also caught my attention.

The album closes with the title track that starts off with them basking in atmosphere and giving themselves more space to invoke the calm before the storm. There is more melody and grace in the build that majestically rises up from the atmosphere giving it a gleam of a slight post-rock influence without sounding like they are tying to jump on the Deafheaven bandwagon.  Over all this album is pretty solid and manages to not sound like everyone else while staying true to it's blend of death metal and black metal, I'll give it a 8.5. This album comes out May 27th on Iron Bonehead Records.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Clan of Xymox : "Days of Black"

Of all the old school dark wave acts Clan of Xymox continues to prove they still have it. The title track that opens the album is just a intro. When they actually kick into things they do so with a smart bass line and  s a pop skip to "Loneliness" that doesn't sound all dark at first. The vocal melody is well thought out and adds just enough darkness to the rest of the song. The synths sound like they could have come from "Disintegration". "Vixen in Disguise" works but is not their best work and would get filed under alright filler. There is more drive to "Leave Me Be" which melts into more of a introspective slink. At 55 Ronny's voice sounds great. In the lower register it still holds rich resonance and slides up into his more emotive whine. He is really what brings life to these songs , though "Leave Me Be" is dark enough to satisfy my goth cravings. "Rain Will Wash Away" is more electronic based, to the point that it feels more like an interlude.

They go into more a traditional dark wave for  "Set You Free". Not dialed in, but nothing new. There is a very emotional and Cure like vibe to "I Couldn't Save You". Reminding me the guitar tones on this album when they crop are are very nice. "What Goes Around" should get the dance floor of any good goth club writhing. The beat is not overbearing, but slinks in just the right way.  There is a more aggressive drive to "I Need to Be Alone".  Not the album's strongest song , but not bad either. The guitar continues to get amped up, this time in a darker more Sisters of Mercy like direction for "Loud and Clear". There is a soft more electronic touch to "Your Kiss" which has drive , but not of the rock variety more synth wave.

I'll round this up to a 8.5 and see how it grows on me. The second half of the album feels a little like they are playing too close to expectations , but what we do expect from them is delivered. They do it better than most of their peers so I am not sure why some songs just connected with me more on the first half and more of the songs later in the album were just kinda "Ok, this works fade into the background" sort of things. Anyway if you are a hard core fan of the band round it up.

Monday, April 17, 2017

November's Doom : "Hamartia"

I am always surprised when I forget these guys are from Chicago. They sound like they are from either England or Sweden. This band opens with a song that makes you think they are  melodic death metal  band that doesn't have aspirations to be anything other than that, though they wield some well crafted guitar melodies and the vocals are placed with great intention to make the most of every growl in the same way singers use every note. This album is very well produced with an excellent guitar tone as by the second song it's easy to hear the kind of love that they were tracked with. Clean vocals come in on the second song. "Plague Bird" brings in clean vocals with kind of a Katatonia feel the only problem is the melodies are not as focused as Katatonia's. They regain a little more of the focus with "Ghost" which goes in a more My Dying Bride like direction.

The sung vocals come back and this time fall somewhere between the Katatonia sound and My Dying Bride. The vocals are a mixed bag as the come across a little weak on "Ever After" as the drummer really begins to steal the show. The title track finds the vocals dropping to a more dramatic whisper. At first it feels like Wall era Pink Floyd. Its an odd ballad that never really settles into it self. "Apostasy" is more balls to the wall with death growls and double bass driving it into your face. It is one of the album's stronger songs and makes better use of the clean vocal trade off. They drift off into a more sorrowful My Dying Bride like tone on "Miasma". This has one of the albums better guitar solos on it. Lyrically it's a little to romanticized. "Zephyr" feels like it walks more of a middle ground and balances out the aggression with the more dramatic tone of the vocals.

There is a more mainstream metal hook to the guitar riffs of "Waves in the Red Cloth" the vocals could be more intense to hold the groove of the guitar. So while it sounds like the put a little more thought into making this one more compact, the vocals don't do it any huge favors. They go back into a more bland take on Katatonia that I am ot sure they are even convinced of.  I'll round this one up to a 7 as they are typically good at what they do with the more driving songs that roared more being the cream of this year's crop.


Ragana : " You Take Nothing"

This two piece out of Oakland has returned with a moodier yet more feral vision of black metal mixed with crust. "To Leave" places more emphasis on atmosphere and ringing guitar melodies than the  more deliberate opener. They do blast off towards the end of the second song. One thing they have going for them is their songs are very concise and streamlined never feeling like bloated drones. The two longest songs are six and a half minutes.

These gals prove they are capable of hitting you with varied colors and tempos. Lyrically I had heard they were angry about the state of politics. This presented with a haze of metaphors rather than going the more punk route of shoving their bitching down your throat. There used to be more of a neo-folk element, that is gone though there are some clean vocals going into the song "Winter's Light". This is interrupted by a blast of black metal that races into the song.

I like the more sludged out melancholy of  "Destroyer". The vocals are screamed with even more menace here. Her delivery on the chorus is one of the more effective uses of harsh vocals that I have heard recently as the cadence still accents everything as needed. The guitar riff to the verse of "Somewhere" is more like indie rock. The way the vocals urgently plea against the riffs makes this one of the albums strongest songs. The album ends with the title track that is ominous and darker than most of the previous songs which already have a gray shroud over them. Vocally there is more of  crust calling out to the void. There is a little bit of a drone to this one , but it is effective as the song keeps moving and the change of the vocals toward the end really make a difference. I don't care about what inspired this album only that the song writing has really stepped up and even though it might not be as black metal as their earlier releases its quality songwriting that counts. I'll give it a 9.5 The vinyl version of this album is already sold out but you can buy the digital version on places like their Bandcamp.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Necrowretch : "Satanic Slavery"


This band cranks out something that is very loud and is not what typically comes to mind when I think of French black metal, if you told me these guys were from Finland it would have made more sense. It' the break of clean guitar that leads to the songs more impressive sections that show you they can do more they just come at you like wild animals. The guitar players have chops and are not just lashing out with density. The high impact battery of  "Tredeciman Blackfire" at times reminds me of "Hell Awaits" era Slayer.I would give the drummer props but how can he not be great and play in this kind of band. The title track is pretty hit or miss. The vocals are this band's weak spot for sure as they make all the faster heavier sections sound the same.

The blur continues to blast past you with the others songs and forces me to start listening for parts that don't sound like everything else that is being thrown at me. Like I often say these guys are good at what they do , what they do just happens to be one dimensional. "Bestial Rites" should be the title track as it sums up the over all sound of this album.  By the time I am at "Cure of Blasphemy" I have already begun to lost interest as there is nothing all that unique about what is going on here . So on "Verses From the Depths" what is the band thinking ? That they just need an 8th song? It goes into the more death metal blast beat that I don't like because it sounds to stiff.

So what do you need from metal? If you like heaviness with no other need for songwriting and melodies just pounding into at 140 bpms, then this might be that album for you. I need a little more from music than that as I have been there done there got the t-shirt . I'll give this album a 5.5 , if you just want heavy then round it up to a 6.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Behavior : "Bitter Bitter"

Haven't covered much post-punk lately as none of it has really been of any note. In some regards these guys remind me of the Violent Femmes if Brian Richie was not such a champ on the bass. If Gordon Gano did not like gospel and got really depressed there might be a similar result. Two songs that follow run into one another. There is more energy to "Stupid Cherub" which is the first half of this collision. So it's when the song breaks down and then builds back up that the stage is set for "Song For My Sister". This montage of songs in collision occurs again with "Nice Cafe"  which turns out to be more of an interlude with "Civil Song" serving as the actual song. It reminds me of 90's indie rock.

The first song that really moves with the punk side of post-punk is "Topanga Keepsake" The frenetic energy of the song works well and the jangle of the guitar has more purpose at this brisk pace. "Birdsong" is more disjointed like if King Missle got to high to be quirky, though this is the kinda shit I got high to senior year of highschool. The lyric "your a pain in the ass my beloved" is very timely in some ways and is also the best part of "My Melancholy Baby" this might even vault it into being the best song on the album.The album ends with the more straight forward garage rock of "the Settlers Song". I think it is fair to give this album a 7.5. IUt is not going to win any album of the year lists , but they have their own sounds and s bit just Joy Division worship.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Life of Agony " A Place Where There is No More Pain"

Life of Agony used to be one of my favorite bands when "Ugly" came out.  Keith Caputo, who goes by something else now, has seen his voice evolve over the years . But things have changed. Let me stop you right here and say, I do not care what lifestyle choices he has made, I do care about can he sing like he once did . "Right this "Wrong" is better than the opener which sounds like a song that didn't make the cut on one of the post- Layne Stayley Alice in Chains albums .  The instrumentation sound like them even if it's stuck in the 90s. The problem might be the hormones he took, sometimes the intervals being sung are what he might have sung in his past life, but the cool trembling vulnerability to his voice which was always juxtaposed by a more aggressive croon is gone making this sound like someone else. "Dead Speak Kindly" would have been a decent Life of Agony riff at one point. Even with the effects on his voice it lacks the balls he once had.

You can hear a little of who he used to in " A New Low'.  The chorus of "World Gone Mad" really shows how little aggression he can manage to get out of his pipes these days.  "Bag of Bones" is the first song that hits me as being half way decent. He also comes close on "Walking Catastrophe" , this is a song that would have nailed it if his voice still had the punch. Right now it sounds like I Mother Earth, but I guess it makes sense that if you turn into a woman you are going to sound like Perry Ferrell. "Song For the Abused" would not sound out of place on "Ugly" it's also one of the better songs on the album with the band beginning to rally in the third act. The well layered vocals give Keith more tools than he has used before.

The album ends with the piano ballad that is more of an overdone outro. I'll give this album a 7.5 , from a band that up until "Soul Searching Sun" kicked out 10s on their first three this is a let down, but better than shit like Volbeat or what ever radio rock you are jerking off to these days.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bury the Machines : "Wicked Covenant"

John E Bomher of the Chicago based  band Yakuza released a solo album where he is a one man sludge band. He blends bleak melodies and layers the vocals on the first song so the more droning sung vocals sits over an almost black metal rasp. I like this much better than the typical gruff bark most sludge bands rely on. The song builds into a stompier more metal section that expands the dynamic journey he takes you and makes this the eps strongest moments. It more progressive than your typical sludge act , but doesn't over do it like say Mastodon. The song does go into more typical territory of what you might normally expect from sludge with big lumbering riffs.

There are some St. Vitus like doom moments on the more stream lined  "Victims" tears" The song drones on the same almost grunged out groove and reminds me of Warrior Soul in the nuances of the vocal phrases where he sings about squandering the years."Waterweapon" starts off as a subdued ballad like melodic piece. When it kicks in things stick to pretty much what you expect from a sludge band though with a slight transcendental sense of soaring. The guitar melodies are more metal and very thoughtful. This guy doesn't wast many notes and I think the guitar solos here really add to the songs.

I'll give this album a 9, I am unsure if it will make the transition over to the iPod as it's more coasting on a sea of bong smoke as nightfall comes sort of album rather than something that is upbeat on the go kinda music. If you like sludge this is an album that is worth your time.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Nightbringer : "Terra Damnata"

The Colorado black metal horde has returned with their 5th album and continue to slay by summoning some of the most legit black metal to come out of the States. The snarl takes you back to the golden years of the 90's for some classic hateful screaming. There is a cool angular section in the latter half of "Misrule". These guys have all the grandiose venom, but taper it with some eerie and unhinged moments. "Midnight's Crow " reminds me a little of older Dimmu Borgir. The production on the album is the shit it sounds pretty massive.The effect on the vocals on "Of key and crossed bones" further pushes it in the Dimmu direction. Which I am fine with as it's not really ripping them off but using a blueprint they perfected and working off of that.

A piano starts of "Let the Silence be..." before throwing them into a rapid fire blast beat. The drums sound like a wall that is rolling over you. They have a very dramatic and orchestrated sound without being symphonic. The songs is just well layered and arranged though it doesn't snake through the same dark maazes as Dimmu. /The use of synths is a card well played on this album as they push the dynamic intensity forward with adding an element of cheese. They do not rely on them as much as Dimmu and fall on the side of earlier Emperor when it comes to this. The vocals on "Inheritor of a Dying World" remind me a little of the more dramatic exclamations of Watain. This song slows things down a little and allows the double bass to speed up around it rather than trying to keep up.

The dark dissonance to "the Lamp of Inverse Light" sets a pretty powerful tone. They layer samples over the extended chords as the song creeps to life. While it sounds cool enough I am not sure it deserves to stand along as an instrumental.  They end things on a more brisk note  It is a more typical take on black metal but these guys do it so well that it doesn't bore me like a thousand other bands who might attempt this with a more rough hewn production value and less precise playing.  I'll give this album an 8.5, it's really good, I don't have any complaints about it some of the songs just grab me more than others and the ones that run off pure aggression don't speak to me as strongly , other than that this is a must for fans of black metal. This is being released April 14th on Season of Mist.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

buioingola : "Il nuovo mare"

This is an interesting project sometimes reminding me of Tombs older albums. They balance out the post rock parts rather than get lost in it. Some times the heaviness is done in a more typical blast beaten way and sometimes  they are handled with a darker creepiness. If you have read this blog before then you know which side I prefer.. The vocals are more of a hoarse death metal roar. This band out of Italy does even on first listen get a few things right. The songs are fairly compact, though they could have turned into mammoth drone fests. At the three minute mark a more atmospheric side is shown. This fore shadowing opens a door to a side of the band that I think is their strong point. They really delve into the darker side to the best of their ability on "Irriconoscibile". I would not say it is in and of itself dark wave or industrial, but there are dark electronic elements to it.

"Attesa"finds them really bathing in the atmosphere, until it drowns the song and becomes more of an interlude. There is a wonderful darkness to "Eclisse" . This might be one of my favorite songs from the album. The angular breaks show these guys could turn this around into something great at any moment. In so doing they would be wise to dip deeper into these murkier shadows.  Their potential is somewhat squandered on the raw barbarism they beat their instruments with on "Silenzio". With multiple listens some of the roughness begins to make a little more sense and you can hear where the song is within all the coarse barking. As it approaches the midway point things take a shift when it goes into Cure like clean guitar.

The last song picks up where some of the moodier atmosphere of the previous song went into droning noise. The vocals are whispered and the instrumentation swells into more of a post-rock dream sequence. I'll give this a 9. It works really well and often finds itself entrench in a very solid atmosphere. While black metal is one of the predominant metal ingredients this has a whole lot more going on.

Depeche Mode : "Spirit"

I have only kept a half ear open to their work outside of "Ultra", there have been moments I have liked and could stand to delve back into that era. Lyrically they are going way to the left. Things are not far removed in Britain from where they are in the states so I can see where they are coming from and it's not like with songs like "People are People" they haven't touched on this before. It think it makes the song fall a little flat though. We have some real guitar on play, while it's not as dark as "Ultra" there is a steamy pulse to "Going Backwards". There is more of a electronic quality to "Where's the Revolution" This song is working pretty well for me until they start chanting the train is coming. So it looks like my issues with this album are going to lie more in the lyrics than the quality of the music, which sounds like Depeche Mode. Dave's voice is fine , he is not really trying to throw his pipes around that much yet.

 I like Depeche Mode's ballads, but "the Worst Crime" felt dialed in. I do think the groove of both "Scum" and perhaps even more so with "You Move" takes them in a better direction. It does feel like they are a little all or nothing when it comes to guitar these days and that added texture is what keeps this from sounding like a re-mix rather than real Depeche Mode songs. They drop down a notch on "Cover Me". The guitar on this sounds like it's lifted from a Lana Del Ray song. It doesn't really take form until the beat comes in. His voice sounds great with his almost androgynous croon on "Eternal". But I am going to need these guys to do more than just croon over some synth chords.

We are back to a more Lana Del Ray like lounge on "Poison Heart". They are actually playing their instruments here and the song takes on a more rock like slink. There is an interesting mix of sound on "So Much Love". The guitar comes in right where it is needed. There is a more "Speak N Spell" like beat to "Poor Man" with gospel undertones returning with the vocals. The manage to get some unique guitar tones to layer over this.The get their groove back in a manner more fitting of their legacy on "No More".  They end things on a darker more somber note with "Fail". It sounds like Dave's tribute to latter day David Bowie. I'll give this album a 9. The lyrics are the only real problem and even then there are maybe three songs where they throw the worst turd in the punch bowl.

Hexis : "Tando Ashanti"

If you were to ask me who is the heaviest band out today I might point you in the direction of this band from Denmark. Heavy is more than low tuning, thick gain and how fast you strike the strings. It' is about the sonic tensity stirred and the feelings driving how you attack your instrument. Once again genres collides. "Ashanti" feels more like blackened death metal. With raw curdled vocals that are more grind-core. It slows into more of a sludge like dirge, showing these guys can pretty effectively handle both ends of the heavy spectrum. Production the album doesn't sound as dense as the one before it. There is more of  experimental wildness to what they do on this one.

Digging into further into their outbursts of song. The pace becomes more explosive on "Molestus". It becomes very clear in case you forgot what kind of bestial creation is sitting on the drum throne for these guys. "Ritualis" might be more sonic and dense than "Molestus" but is not as solid of a song.  "Calamitas" is more grind-core in length and the fury espoused. The go into spastic blast beats with more of a punk feel to it than black metal here. It does find it's groove. "Nocturnus" starts off with a dark jangling current of noisy guitar that washes out into the drum that come in with a more black metal blur. It does break down into moodier moments which I think are the albums stronger points.  The problem with the pacing is by the time we get to "Opacus" things are starting to run together for me. There is one riff that kind holds everything together, but how the golden rule here...Cool riff alone do no make a good song, stands to be questioned.

The vocals don't feel as varied to me. They seem to be one static scream, where I seem to recall some lower growls on the previous album. There is a pretty intense sonic opening to "Cordolium" the pace is more deliberate and this helps there cause though the song is woven from the same colors that have dripped from the bulk of the album. "Resurrection" feels more like the middle section to another song and the first time I played it through that is what it felt like to me. On it's on there is a few snare hts and cymbal mainly the screamed title of the song chanted to feedback. Much like what you expect from them the blasts of songs are to explosive to keep contained in some sprawling drone so the songs are mainly 2:30. "Septem" is as aggressive as in your face as you could ask for, but is works off the one dynamic.

If you hadn't been beaten into submission by the time they end the album on "Presagium". I really like the darker undertones to this song and latch onto the other moments like this. It's hard to imagine it but I think this album is more organic and sonic than their first full length "Abalam". I'll round this up to a 9 and see how it sits with me. The few listens I have given it thus far makes it one of those albums I can just leave on and let play, but how much longevity I get is another matter.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Acherontas : "Amarta (Formulas of Reptilian Unification Part II)"

On their newest slab of darkness the Greek band opens the album with the double bass  that gives them a more  melodic death metal sound, but the album as a whole should be called black metal.. They are in the same dark region sonically as Mortuary Drape. They get a little more blasty and aggressive on the second song. This is their 8th album so they have clearly been fine tuning things over the years. There is a vocal that does lower growls, but they are largely a gruff narrative. Riff wise things have a little more hook to the darker thrash tone of  "I AM Ness".

The songs are fairly compact , no long wandering epic bouts of excess. While they keep a brisk pace to " Sopdet Denudata", it feels like it wanders to close to traditional black metal to make the most of their own sound. By the time we get to the dramatic ritualistic recitation the song has grown on me. "Yesod Inversum" is a good balance of savagery, darkness and composition. The guitar lines are more flowing and fluid with these guys than they are with most black metal bands, so the melodies are always cutting through. It's the more triumphant galloping riff to "Rosa Andromeda" that catches my ear. Another vocal that has haunted the album with it's ghostly moan returns on this song. They do not rip into many shredding solos and the single no sweep they do leave hanging work more with the song it self.

"Savikalpa Samadhi" is darker and eventually builds into a slower section where it sounds like another spell is being cast. The title track goes for a more sweeping grandiose quality with it's guitar melodies soaring out above it. The vocal is generally the more dramatic narrator voice, so the guitars have to carry most of the weight. While it won't make the trip over to my iPod this album was an enjoyable listen and I'll give it an 8.5.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ides of Gemini : "Women"

Bands change. Not all are fortunate to change into something that I might call the perfect blend of goth rock and metal. This band from Los Angeles who are not strangers to this blog have done just that. Now putting down her bass to focusing on singing  Sera Timms, finds her voice even more colorful and energetic. While the Siouxsie influence is there is not just limited to that and has a reasonable sense of who she is.  Lyrically this album is thematic as all the songs are about women both rel and fictional. The guitar tone is less metallic and more death rock for "the Rose". The more doomy direction they used to dwell in has evolved into something with more of a NWOBHM feel to it. The chorus however have a more sinewy energy to them rather than being big anthems.

"Heroines Descent" almost feels more like an interlude until the vocals come at the mid way point. "Swan Diver" finds them getting way more in your face metal with a killer riff for the verse.  The drums are more brooding and powerful for the grungy "the Last Siren" . Emma Ruth Rundle lends her voice to "She Has a Secret". It's not a duet more of textured layering.  The guitar that plays around the vocals works really well. Tara Connelly of Clay Rendering joins them to layer some more vocals. This time it doesn't work as well as the song before it. There is more of a narcotic drone to this song. I do like how it gets darker and more sonic rather than heavy in the metal sense.

Overall this album is a good direction for this band. I'll round it up to a 9 and see how it sits on me. The only challenge is some of the songs on the second half of the album that lay off of the more explosive energy kinda drone and I almost fell asleep to this album, but I am pretty tired.

While They Sleep : Les Fleurs Du Mal

My two favorite sub-genres of metal are funeral doom and depressive black metal. This band from the Ukraine plays a dark and dirty form of black metal that moves at a slow throb. I appreciate the very deliberate pulse which is a nice break from blast beats all the time and forces them to write songs. This is more at a Burzum like tempo and while what they do works really well it feels like it need some variation approaching the end of the second song. The vocals are a mid range scowl. There sounds like there is distorted filter put over them or they could have just really tapped into some cool cvlt production tactics. It makes me think of interviews I have seen with Varg saying "Give me the worst mic to use".

"The Frame" kind of gets lost in the fuzz the songs tries to plow through sometimes speeding up into blast beats. While they are more feral on this one I would not say this evokes a depressive feeling. The guitar might be creepier and more melodic than your average blasty mcnasty black metal that is normally speeding past you , but I feel the album is beginning to sound very mono-chrome. I can see where this is different enough to gain some attention in under ground circles. By the time it picks up for the more savage "the Vampire" things have already begun to become a blur.  On second listen I could hear a more subtle angular Deathspell Omega quality lurking under it.

The title track really didn't blow me away. It worked off of a similar pulsing throb that is just enough out of time to seem like it's dripping out of speakers. I think the layered guitars would come across stronger with better production. But that is going to be a selling point to some. While I give these guys enough credit to say the are not just blending in with the blast beaten masses the are not the first project I have heard run with Burzum in this direction. I'll be generous and round it up to a 7.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lydia Ainsworth : "Darling of the Afterglow"

I get so many albums in my in-box I am sure there is a great deal of awesome music I might be missing out on as I can't listen to everything and unless something seems like it's going to be dark enough for me it gets passed over. So she is lucky she happened to be wear a leather dress in one of her promo pictures that made me more curious.  The vocals are beautifully layered against slick piano driven pop beat that focuses on being steamier than it does trying to make you dance along. This Toronto native's back is  classical music and film scoring. I can hear the cinematic quality, but it's not rigid like classical music can be. Her harmonies are pretty amazing. The second song is not as smooth, there is more movement and layers. The choice of instrumentation is interesting this is one of the best produced albums I have hear in a long time. The clarity of every thing that feels like it is surrounding you is immersive even at the album's most intimate moments.

"Ricochet" pulls back in more firmly by my heartstrings. It's one of those moments when the sounds hit me where I am at emotionally. "Afterglow" feels like a 90s ballad that Kate Bush or Sinead O'Connor might have written,so I am on board for that. "Open Doors" is more of an ethereal drift until the odd change of pace that introduces guitar in the mix that drives the song like something the Police might have done in the 80s. "Spinning" has more of the kind of movement that drew me into this album in the first place. The fret-less bass on here is a nice touch. "Into the Blue" doesn't really set it self from other Euro-pop as much as the other songs on this album.

Her piano cover of "Wicked Game" is not as dark as Chris Isaak's version. It is not as fragile as you might think it would be.  "I Can Feel It All" is smooth groove that finds modern electronic pop colliding with 90s songwriting.  "WLCM" lyrically is more powerful for me. I think when she really gives her self room to pour emotion into the song that she is at her peak. The album ends with "Nighttime Watching" feels very Kate Bush to me as well. I'll give this one a 9.5 and see how it sits with me, some of the most breath taking songs balances the songs that run into more common pop zip codes.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tusmörke : "Hinsides"

What is happening here ? This is my first thought upon hearing the opening track from the Norwegian band's new album. There is a flute and they are singing in our native tongue here, but the wacky has been dialed way past 11. There are some electronic sounds in play from the keyboards that are way up in the mix making this sound like Kraftwerk with a side of folk. It is unique and not bad though, not dark enough for me and a little more on the upbeat side than what I would typically want to hear from them. The synth heavy version of the band does lead them into a proggier place. After reading their promo package the band has admitted this is going to be a less gloomy affair and feels like groove is in the heart of darkness.

"I Feel Like Midnight" reminds me of new wave Alice Cooper, so that's an easy sell and goes to prove just because you are pulling out all the key boards it doesn't have to be happy. "Rykende  Ruin" or "Steaming Ruin" is big grandiose prog, that doesn't pull me in until the big "In the Flesh" like ending. "Lyssky Drom" gets off to more of a flower child like start as it floats on a cloud  smoky folk. The bass line begins to guide the song into more brooding shadows. I am unsure of the kazoos that end the song, but oh well.

The album ends with the 24 minute epic "Sankt Sebastian's Alter" which celebrates the 666th anniversary of the Black Death hitting Norway. The drummer gets to flex his chops on this song.  Three minutes in and they are taking a break for a folk break down, so this is going to be a long and winding road. 24 minutes always seems excessive for me and I am generally opposed to any song being longer than the "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner". There are some darker undertones introduced to the song around the four minute mark . Things really darken in a more dramatic fashion at the seven minute mark. This does make me wonder where can they go from here and pulls me back in. There is more of a building simmer that feels like they could get heavy if they wanted. Instead they go in more of a psychedelic jammy direction. I suppose if I was tripping I would not mind being taken on this journey.  At 12: 44 it does happen and they do get into a heavier stomp. Live this would be a lot of fun and the overall song length is what keep this song from really winning me over 100%.

I'll round this up to a 9, as managed to pretty much win me over with the changes in direction. Some elements are more of my thing than others , but none of it steps on the toes of the other parts that are in motions which is impressive considering how much is in play here.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

the Ruins of Beverast : "Exuvia"

 This German project is back in less than  a years time with more music. This time it seems like things are going in a darker more death metal direction. The album Opens with the title track which finds this project feeling more like atmospheric death metal with major melodic touches. Clean sung vocals are sprinkled in. The guitar solo towards the end really rips and makes it hard to hate on this guys for opening their album with a fifteen and a half minute song. There is a doomy and dark vibe to "Surtur  Barbar Maritime". The double bass is really killer and the arrangement is strange enough to lure me in. Things stay dark and creepy for "Maere". The overall mood of this album is pretty incredible as it takes you on a journey root in a throbbing darkness coated in fog.

They use lots of layers, even what sounds to be bag pipes going into "the Pythia's Pale Wolves". This song also uses an almost Alice Chains like minor harmony in the clean vocals that start it off.  By the end of the song it accelerates into a more blackened death. The vocals dropping down in to a wild feral growl that gurgles in the distance."Towards Malakia" feels almost more like a Urfaust. It even has the low baritone vocals that are sung at a bellow. The song drones along on a similar riff before breaking into blast beats which is the only part that really strikes me as being black metal.

"Takitum Tootem" works off more of a chaotic drone. Low gurgled death metal with an evil sounding atmosphere to it. It does build up after a chanted break down into a more sonic swell that is suitably the high point and brings the needed climax. However as a whole I don't think it is as compelling as what they achieve earlier in the album. Overall this album is pretty fucking incredible in terms of what the create as far as the mood and the over weight of the darkness these songs summon. This used to be a project that was in my periphery and I checked out when they released something , but this is their best work to date and places them on my radar. I'll give this a 9.5.

This is being released on May 5th.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Steel Panther : " Lower the Bar"

Hair metal ...cock rock or whatever you want to call the metal from the 80's that held a glam tinge and packed arenas, is what Steel Panther is. These guys are more of a parody, but in the process make some good music by mistake. It opens with a some what subtle ode to anal sex. There have more similarities of Bon Jovi  and Van Halen's more metal moments than anyone else. While they are a parody of the big hair school of metal I listened to in adolescent they are still clever song writers. The lyrics to "Anything Goes" are funny, but I am not sure this is the same level of songwriting that they show on the first song. The chorus is like "Cherry Pie" ,which is admittedly a more main stream take on the genre than I was into back in the day, but in this context it works better than say the Darkness. Lyrics seem to be the main hook of this album, because if you put the lyrics to "I Remember You" to "Thats When You Came In"  it would not be the same.

"Wrong Side of the Tracks" is lyrically not much different from Faster Pussycat did on a regular basis. The melody and verse riff to this one is better than everything so far except for the first song so they can be semi-serious as needed. There is a more surreal grunge like filter on "Now the Fun Starts". Thus far it takes itself a little more seriously and might be one of the album's strongest songs as it deviates away from your typical cock rock. We back to more humorous tone on the grittier "Pussy Ain't Free". Which is as serious as a song like that can be. There is more of power-ballad like tone to "Wasted Too Much Time" . The big chorus of "I wasted too much time  fucking you" is catchy enough and keeps me from thinking of it as filler.

There is more of an upbeat "Fair Warning" era Van Halen feel to " I Got What You Want". The chorus reminds me more of Ratt. There is a more of "Ice Cream Man" meets Guns N roses vibe to "Walk of Shame" which is the first song that hit me as filler so far. "She's Tight" feels like their take on "Talk Dirty to Me". The chorus reminds me of Cheap Trick. There are also a couple of bonus tracks which are pretty decent , but for the purpose of this review we are sticking to the basic album tracks. I'll give this one an 8.5, it's pretty decent for a parody.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sabbath Assembly : "Rites of Passage"

It my be the addition of a second guitarist , but this album kicks off a lot heavier than I remember these guys being. Female proto-doom bands where almost a thing 5 years ago when bands like Blood Ceremony and Devils Blood really rose to prominence, Guitarist Kevin Hufnagel who has played in both Gorguts and Dysrhythmia , brings a technical prowess to the riffs. This makes them winding and angular while still holding a more classic metal chug. There is a darker touch to doom to "Angels Trumpets". Jamie Myer's alto is dramatic and exclamatory, she almost sounds like a witch from a Hammer horror movie from the 60s. I do not think once we get into the meat of the song that it doesn't draw you in until oddly enough a more tech death like riff surfaces and then they lock in behind it.

"I Must Be Gone" is darker and in some sense more melodic though it broods over the song before committing to it. It does build up, but I don't feel I really connect with it as much as I did the first two songs. More melodic layers are gradually introduced as the album progresses.  I lose time and fail to see where the darkly moody "Does Love Die" ends and "Twilight of God" begins. "Does Love Die" feels more like a neo-folk intro to the next song which would thus kick into the jams like a power ballad. It's the lonely wail of the guitar solo in "Does Love Die" that helps blur these lines , until I got a second listen in. Then I can hear the weird atmospheric ebb down that marks the beginning of the next song. It's has a creeping riff with a delay heavy clean to that smooths you back into the build up.

There are several things to like about this album. The fact it's proggy , but still has a darker mood coloring it. There is an almost Voivod like dissonance to "Seven Sermons to the Dead".  It also feels like Fear of God in how the vocals attack the chugged chorus like section. The closing song "the Bride of Darkness"  has an almost Iron Maiden feel to the way the riff gallops. There is a stellar almost Frank Zappa like solo going into this song's third act that is worth taking note of if you are into that sort of thing. While this is a guitar players album the riffs never seem like they re being written with 'Would this sound good to solo over ?" in mind. This is a pretty solid album, I am not sure how much air time it will get on my end , but can respectfully round this up to a 9.

Spectres : "Condition"

Well things have gotten interesting for these guys. They must have started doing a shit ton of drugs if this is the same band . If it is and the link of their Bandcamp page doesn't really help in the regard, then they have gone in a more A Place to Bury Strangers direction. There is some noise going into "Dissolve" but this song and the two before generally glide into shoe gazed out post-rock. The vocals are mixed further back and not as Joy Division of a croon which was the first thing that clued me into the fact this might not be the band I was thinking it would be. The noise does get out of hand and the coat of abrasion is a distraction to the angrier Sonic Youth tone of  "Neck".

"A Fish Called Wanda" relaxes back into a more reflective place. The vocals are breathy and chanting as the song grooves along it's own drone. There is a hypnotic droning element to most of these songs. The opener is murky where "A Fish Called Wanda" has plenty of room without being uncluttered to the point of minimalism. There is noise rock explosion to the dynamics of "Welcoming the Flowers". This harsher tone beocme the path the album begins to take you down. The feedback becomes a grating coating of distraction from what could otherwise be a pretty decent if not sleepy song when it comes to "Welcoming the Flowers".

" End Waltz" is another feed back beating for your ears to bleed to at high volumes. Why it's an instrumental and not just the beginning of the song that follows , I don't know. I'll call it an interlude. The album end with one of the albums more dynamic moments "Coping Mechanisms" which actually has really good lyrics something that is not always common with this sort of thing. I'll round this up to an 8, some of the noise could have been dialed back to allow the songs to shine more.

Cherry Glazerr : "Apocalipstick"

Here is a wacky indie rock band that works best off best clever, though they can build into a more punk infused punch on the opener "Told You I'd Be With the Guys". The lyrics are just as smart as the arrangements especially on "Trash People". There is a little post-punk and 80's new wave on "Moon Dust" which has a Police like swagger in the jangle of the guitar. In their most aggressive they don't get much more worked up than older Sleater Kinney. "Moon Dust" is more effective to my ears as it goes in a moodier place. The pick the pace up into more of a garage punk on "Humble Pro". This one is more straight forward and while it works for this song I don't think a whole album of this would work for me.

The singer has a good voice that can pull of the more balladic "Nuclear Bomb". There is certainly and element that might remind you of some of the more radio friendly riot grrrrl rock from the late 90s. The synths are the main thing that set them apart from the Elasticas of Alt-nation. There is a creep to "Only Kid on the Block"  then they transition into a more playful tone on "Lucid Dreams" . The melodies have a lighter mood than the synth line dancing behind. It's a good balance of organic and electronic sounds.

The beginning of "Sip o Poison" reminds me of Rasputina, but the energy reminds you of their punk tendencies. Though we are never talking hardcore punk, just aggressive without being metal and have more of the snotty recklessness to it. That ebbs back to a more introspective jangle on "Nurse Ratched", this builds into a more intense dynamic, not sure heavy would be the right way to describe it unless you are talking about "She's so Heavy".  "Instagratifaction"  is a more straight forward rock song. There is an interesting middle section that is more melodic.  One of their strengths is they do not pay by the rules when it comes to songwriting and throw lots of curve balls. They would obviously be lots of fun live. There is a slower almost Sabbath lumber to the title track that closes the album. Overall this album is sonic and compelling indie rock that's familiar in some ways , but they are very much their own person so for that I am going to round this up to a 9.5 and see how it sticks to my ears.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Royal Thunder : "WICK"

I really loved "Crooked Doors" I wore it out. This means the bar is held pretty high here. So I was uncertain of the slow droning riff that accompanies the more circular chant of the first song. They don't come out swinging like they did on the previous album. I went back and gave this song another listen after hearing the entire album, and it made a little more sense , but didn't really grab me. The snarl Parsonz summons on "April Showers" sounds almost like Blackie Lawless. This song snakes around but drones less than the opener and has more balls to it. She has a greater grit to her voice on this album for sure, but they have really backed off on the distorted when it comes to the guitars. Sure there is almost an "Amorica" like soul to "Tired". The only problem is they are not the Black Crowes. While she tries some interesting things with harmonies and less rock-centric melodies, it is not as focused as the previous albums. By the time we get "We Slipped" which is pretty uptempo, you might as well resign yourself that the metal trapping that gave intensity to other albums has been shed. The rock jangle is going to be hard pressed to grow on me in the same way the last album did.

 There is a more Led Zeppelin boogie to "the Sinking Chair". This is much closer to what I want from these guys. The distortion could have been more amped and taken the chugged section to a heavier place so this is production choice. She lets her voice go into more of harsher metal scream at some points, though this song is more of a mid seventies vision of metal that what metal is by today's standards. The very stripped down "Plans" marries a starker version of Janis Joplin to the Black Crowes. I like this one more than I thought I would when it started. Her soulful vocals really sell it. There is much more piano on this album than I remember them using in the past. I also have a much harder time envisioning how these songs would translate live than I do with their other work.

"Anchor" works for me right of the bat. It's not metal but has rambling moodiness that connects with me and feels more powerful. The vocals and guitar work together much seamlessly than what happens on some of the other songs. The atmosphere and the brooding that drives the title track both immediately work for me. It does kick into a harder rock direction. The shadows that color the mood are obviously of importance to me. There is a more stripped down intro to "Push" than what the song ambles into which feels more like a lost Jeff Buckley track. The vocal performance really sells this song. While it rocks more and moves pretty fluidly it seems like "Turnaround" is one of those songs that is going to need to grow on me.

The hypnotic winding western tinged riffs that these guys do so well are invoked on "the Well" . The doing go to the obvious big rock chorus off the back and build tension. There are metal influences under the surface but I would not say this is a metal album. By the album's third act it becomes obvious they have remembered who they are and what they should be doing. The album comes to a close with 'We Never Fell Asleep". There is a dagger like quality to how the lyrics are spit out on this one and they gain some punch as the song progresses.   Overall this one shows the band growing away from who they where and that takes some adjustment if you are invested in their old sound, but I'll around this one up to a 9.5.
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Mastodon : "Emperor of Sand"

Living in Atlanta it's hard to gauge just how big of a deal a new album from Mastodon is outside of the microcosm here. It feels like more of a fully realized vision that the past two albums. "Sultan's Curse" doesn't find the band returning to the death tinged sludged fury of "Remission", but they do deliver what fans of the band have come to expect from them over the years. When I say "Show Yourself" is the band's poppiest song yet, it's not disparaging considering I love Taylor Swift, and this is one of my favorite songs on the album. To their credit it is poppy in the same way as Queens of the Stoneage can be. there is a really good groove to "Steambreather" . Brann seems to get the spotlight on the vocals for this one, and is a little more soulful of a vocal than I typically expect from him. "Roots Remain" finds Sanders more typical baritone bellow doing a call and response with the drummer's now more soulful tenor. While this song is not prog in the same way the term once described the kind of mathy ventures they embarked on. There are now longer passages that defy the formulaic arrangement motif, with guitar solos sprouting out around them. They get more metallic on " Word to the Wise". It's concise and a more straight forward rocker than most on this album. The guitar solo finds a section where you find they have more room to stretch out and dig into their playing. There is a more prog metal tendency on "Ancient Kingdom" which also recalls others songs from other albums. I think they are had already raised the bar higher for themselves by the time we get to this song. Some of the mathy riffs that seemed like they were missing earlier in the album crop up in the more upbeat "Clandestiny". While there is nothing new the vocal trade off, everything fits really well on a melodic level. Two minutes in things the break down further shine light on their prog tendencies. There is a robotic voice that being to murmur. "Andromeda" which eventually features a guest vocal from Kevin Sharpe of Brutal Truth, has a heavier under current to it. The vocal hook plays out nicely on the chorus and there is a well balanced blend of the elements you expect from these guys. The obligatory appearance of Scott Kelly happens on "Scorpion Breath". Kelly's performance is more of a metal growl than anything we have heard recently from Neurosis. "Jaguar God' might be the band's first power ballad. It's a half a shade darker than the bulk of the album and takes me back toward some of the more compelling moments of "Crack the Skye" which likely the album I got the most repeat listens to. The signature angular picking of Brent Hinds is allowed to take center stage midway into the song when things pick up. Overall this might be the band's best album since "Crack the Skye" so it will be making the much envied trip over to my iPod and then I will see how it stands the test of time. For now I'll round it up to a 9.5 as some of the songs that didn't hook me in as strongly as the groovier poppier numbers still have room to grow on me. "like" us on Facebook...

Friday, March 17, 2017

Isenordal : "Shores of Mourning"

This album takes a few listens to really let sink in. There is a lot going on and while in some ways the dark folk is blended with black in a manner like Agalloch these guys have their own sound. Seattle is not the first place I would have thought these guys came from. The title track opens their full length debut. One thing this band has going for them is they are very dark. There drummer is good, but some times rushes them into faster sections and clearly wants them to lean more into the black metal when I think they could milk some more doom out of these songs. There is a piano intro to "Of Winged Fire and Crawling Shadow".  This atmospheric beginning lends itself to some really nice guitar passages.When the metal does kick in it's black. The vocals has the hateful nasty rasp to them. The more galloped trash inspired riffs are pretty bad ass. and in the guitar harmonies you can hear where their chops are.

There is more of a an Agalloch quality to the whispered rasp of the vocals against the acoustic strum of "Pyres at Nightfall". It is more darkly romantic where Agalloch has a more hipster folk thing going. The doom part of the equation doesn't really kick in until "Tear the Veil of Dreams" Thew first few minutes of the song find the black metal vocal laying onto of a bleakly lush arrangement that is not really metal at all . When the lower growled vocals and distorted chords ring out then we are deeper into metal waters. Female vocals haunt the background of  the song in when the double bass kicks in and things speed up into blast beats. "A Gallows Prayer" is another sprawling 11 minute song

The album closes with the woeful "Cleansing Rites" which marries black metal vocals to and almost My Dying Bride brand of dramatic metal. The violins really add a lot of texture and along with the keyboards things get gothic it works well with what these guys do. It's their drummer who seems to tempted them back into stepping on the gas and launching these songs into black metal. I like how the vocals are layered midway into the song before things slow back down. Overall this album sucks me in enough for repeat listens to earn being rounded up to a 9. I might grow on me further certainy at some of my lower points today it resonated with me.


Pallbearer : Heartless

Things have changed , but this is very much still the same band just venturing further down the road away from the sub-genre funeral doom they came from. The vocals are even more upfront in the mix on this one. As they should be as the vocals are really killing it, though the guitar is taking a back seat that makes me think this album might be heavier if they were pushed forward or maybe I am not listening to it loud enough yet. "Thorns' is a logical step from where they were on "Foundations of Burden". There are plenty of those angular riffs snaking themselves around the songs.

 While they have added more colors an textures this does fee like less of a metal record, but at the end of the day the vocals tend to draw me in and win me over. While I love doom and want to hear them take it to another place on this journey, I love music more than being bound to a genre. The glaring difference in some of the tones on this album is first made clear on " Lie of Survival". While I heard that this album was going to take them in more of a shoe gaze direction I don't really hear that.  There is a beautiful guitar solo at the beginning of " Dancing in Madness". At almost 12 minutes there is more of a Pink Floyd drift to the song than you might expect from these guys. The vocals are more effected with the come in at the harder rock verses leaning more in the psyche direction than doom. It does get more aggressive around the seven minute mark at the vocals tense up into more of a bark. At the eight minute mark it transitions back down to a acoustic guitar tone for a minute.

There is more of a traditional metal sound to "Cruel Road", that touches on the weird 80's metal power metal mire at the edges of thrash. The title track sticks close to what we have heard from them previous to this until going into the atmospheric break in the middle then coming out of it in a more like fashion, if we are thinking Tool. They are still more doom influenced than say Royal Thunder, in that they are leaning into more metallic influences. I love the lower vocal that opens up "A Plea For Understanding" . This is an interesting song as it marries the melancholy lethargy of doom with what feels like more of an alternative rock song writing sensibility.  It's more emotionally heavy than it is  metal , with  melodies taking center stage. While this album might take some getting used to it seems to be growing on me in a positive way so I'll give it a 10, some of the songs are easy to get lost in their wandering , but overall it's pretty emotionally powerful stuff here. "like" us on Facebook...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


There is not question this Italian death metal band knows how to blend their technical skill with convincing brutality. The first song steam rolls you, then the second song they eventually give you the hooky chant to latch onto. These guys know what they are doing. This album sounds massive and while this is not my favorite form of death metal I like the sound they are hitting me with. WIth members of Aborted and Hour of Penance on their ranks the 3rd album is dialed in to the max. "Passages" they begin to get a little mired down in the huge sound and at one point I think I am listening to another song when we haven't gone anywhere. They continue to throw a lot at you on "Angel of Revolution" and at times this kind of playing even hits the velocity that it sounds rushed.  At times it reminds me of "Legion" era Deicide if they took a bunch of meth and couldn't concentrate on the verse chorus format. I like the use of samples on "Feeding off the Blind".

There is a touch of Morbid Angel about this whole album, but filtered through more of  modern metal attack, it's more like post- David Vincent Morbid Angel on "When Flesh Unfolds". "Future in Red" catches my ear again, but the song before it blasted by in a blur that I did not even feel the need to pay attention to. "Embodiment of Chaos" really doesn't divert drastically from the carnage filled oath they have already paved. If you have gone the entire album with out noticing the drummer is a monster of a machine then his cyborg nature can no longer be denied . In fact that is probably him on the album cover.  Guitar wise they don't feel the need to really shred a shit tone, which plays to their favor more guitar solos would just clutter things up. I don't remember if I have really heard that much as far as solos go this entire album which means if they were there they were not memorable.

While these guys are better than most of the tech death metal out their, I'll give this album a 7 as most of these songs sound the same. If you are into this kind of thing then round it up to an 8. This is not what I normally listen to when it comes to death metal thought they pull enough from the classics to make me admit they know what they are doing.

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All Hell : "the Grave Alchemist"

The Asheville band is back with their debut for Prosthetic Records  album opens with a darker take on thrash that might remind some of Possessed. The song is smartly written so it's not just ripping past you like reckless punk. There is a little more of a Venom like snarl to "Necrosophia". There is a darker blackened feel to "Wed the Need", The vocals are rasped in a more thrashy sneer, think a more sinister version of old Kreator. There is another touch of black metal, if we are talking Darkthrone's more black n roll days on "Vampiric Lust". Then we get into the meat of the more stagnant racing with "the Castle". They slow it down a fragment on "Laid to Unrest" which is a more satisfactory head banging experience as they begin to remind me more of Skeleton Witch.  They even speed things up to a more howling blast beat, but it feels more thrash than black metal to me in it's intention.

The first touch of a darker punk than has touches of death rock rears up on "Memory Tomb" this is a really needed dynamic shift as things were starting to get a little stale. They finally hit a more moshing groove on "the Madness out of Time".  There is something that comes closer to being a hook and almost able to live up to the bar set by 80s thrash.  "The Thing In the Ground" and "Return of the Reaper" both feel more like filler to me though if you are a hug fan of  balls to the wall thrash, then it might do more for you. "Elixir" is more punk influenced and finds the drummer sounding more into his playing. They care more about their song writing again on "I am the Mist".

The album started off strong and then kinda got mired down in the speed of their metal. So here is a word to the wise when it comes to thrash, go back and listen to some of the classic albums from back in the day and then perhaps you will see even the non- Flotsam and Jetsam like bands such as Coroner or even Forced Entry wrote songs that go stuck in your head without vocals that were yodeling. These guys have promise in the moments that stand out where you hear something darker and different. I'll give it a 7.5.

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Junius : “Eternal Rituals For The Accretion Of Light”

I have been a fan of this band for several years so jumped on the opportunity to give this a listen. I really like the stark Interpol like vocals set against the dramatic harder rock back drop and the album opens right where I would want them to be. There are large doses  of post-rock flirting with the more rock side of metal in it's drive. "Beyond the Pale Society" is even more emotionally charged than the first song and it's clear this album really sounded great and has a darker undercurrent. I some ways this is  thanks to the keyboards. They pretty much become a Deftones tribute band on the song "A Mass For Metaphysicians". This gets cleared up a little on the chorus, but I am a little at odds as to why they wanted to spoil a good thing with such a obvious attempt to cop the Deftones. the more atmospheric passages that wind out of this song do help redeem them.

"Clean the Beast" continue to find them employing a sense of drive and even harsher screamed vocals to accent the chorus, but I think most metal fans would still be reluctant to call this metal. Once again their yearning to be the Deftones is a distraction when it comes to parts of "the Queens Constellation". I can deal with the more Cure like touches of atmosphere that keep "TelePaths and Pyramids" floating.  They continue to redeem their Deftones tendencies with the almost Dead Can Dance like "Masquerade in Veils" . So one lesson to learn here kids is , I don't care if you rip off the bands I love, but even the Deftones don't want to sound like themselves these days.

They close the album on a less epic note than expected with the last two songs being  "Heresy of the Free Spirit" and "Black Sarcophagus" . This is an album where the song titles are harder than they are. Despite the Deftones moments which are somewhat forgivable and seldom consume the whole song, this album is very moody and melodic with more balls than your hipster post-punk, so it has that going for it enough for me to give it a 9 and a few more listens. "like" us on Facebook...

Author & Punisher : " Pressure Mine"

We have been big supporters of Author & Punisher here for some time so glad to hear him back at it with the new ep before he transitions over to Relapse records. The first thing that stands out is the moody melodic vocals. The thump of the beats lurch ominously under it. There are a lot of layers and atmosphere to the first song. The second song also finds the machine offering more of a loving grace on the song "Pressure Lover". The vocals are pretty impressive as the float through varied levels of effects some more sinister than others. This song gets darker than it does aggressive, which I have no problem with as it offers a much different side to this project.

"Nazarene " is even darker it reminds me of "Year Zero" era Nine Inch Nails, though there is less of an emphasis on the beats and more on the maze of melodies and synths woven around the song. It is a few degrees heavier than the first two songs. There is a murky lethargy cast over the sluggish beat to " New World". The song reminds me of Gotye if filtered through a morphine drenched nightmare. While this one is almost like a torture ballad, it doesn't connect with me as strongly as the first few songs.  There is a much more interesting beat to "Black Wand". The vocals float up near the top of his register in almost a head voice. It also sounds like their is barely and effects on his voice. Knowing his work I am no surprised if there is some political under currents to the lyrics of this one, but the song still works for me.

This is a less punishing version of the Punisher side of this project. I think "New World" will grow on me so I will go ahead and round this one up to a 10. It's a pretty bold move on Shore's part considering how he typically plays with metal bands so has a fan base rooted in heavier music, but this moodier side is welcomed at least by me at the end of the day it comes down to the fact that these are good songs.