Monday, February 27, 2017

Black Metal History Month- Azarath : " In Extremis"

This an album that makes me explore when does something become blackened and when is it just death metal, doom, sludge...etc ? The opening track off of the new album from Poland's Azarath strikes me as just being straight up death metal. The way the faint melody writes in the guitar riff could be the slightest hint , but how does this differ from what Morbid Angel does on the regular ? Drummer Inferno is from Behemoth, but that doesn't grand father then in as black metal. This experiment a bit here and there, but all death metal bands should be doing that rather than just dialing it in. This isn't to take away from what they are doing here, as that is impressive in the blast of the first song, but can they maintain that is the question posed to every band this heavy.

The vocals are very Morbid Angel. The way the layers chime in also remind me a little of Deicide. Death metal is not my thing as much as doom or black metal, so a death metal band needs to try a little harder to engage me. By the time we get to the third song "Annihilation" they are beginning to lose me a bit. They are going for a break neck blur, which is impressive drumming , but not great when it comes to how does this hold up as a song. What is being done here that I haven't heard before ?  While it is very much playing off of a formula fatal to the flesh, "the Slain God" does stand on it's own two feet better as a song. I think this is because it slows down and allows the guitar to create some texture.

I can hear where fans of older Behemoth would like "At the Gates of Understanding" . To my ears it snarls by quickly and doesn't do much to engage me. I am still listening for little bits of blackness to creep through by the time we get to the "Parasu Blade" . It is pretty much straight forward death metal. It does find a pit churning moment here and there , but cool riffs alone do not a good song make. "Sign of Apophis" is another that is all aggression and little else by way of substance and  makes me grateful that I caught all this the first time around when it sounded a lot fresher. "into the Nameless Night" makes it clear these guys are good at what they do . They question poised to me then becomes do I like what they do. I don't dislike that the what it is, I just have this need already met.The drummer is awesome and they are good at what they do I'll give it a 6.

Black Metal History Month- Rive : "Trist"

My favorite sub-genre of black metal is depressive or depressive suicidal as it was once called. There was even more feeling injected into this brand than that that of there more stalwart counterparts.There have been a couple releases so far, but in looking for something new to review as we wind down the month here, this was the only album I found. So it looks like 2016 might have been marginally more prolific here, but we are only a quarter into the year so it's too soon to say.  This project from Norway  opens their album with a somber piano piece. When it does kick in there is more of a straightforward aggression than what I typically think of as depressive black metal. The guitar holds most of the emoting in it's melody.  It is not until "Forsaken" that I notice the vocals going up into a more pained shrieked. The guitar seems to be the focus as the double bass is so stiff it might be programmed.

 "Heartless" is more dynamic in some sense, though the main riff of the song is pretty straight forward, the song's strongest moment is when it breaks down into a more melodic section and the vocals howl out of the normal gravelly register they are croaked in.  "Hviske" or whisper for Americans is darker, though displays the uneven production quality of the album. It sounds like everything is being played in another room. The synth more creates a cool atmosphere and I feel like song has more of what I want from this sub-genre of black metal.

What this band has going for them is the concise manner of songwriting, they do not sprawl out and kept things to under the six minute mark. They also give you are decent sampling of dynamics along the way to I think this speaks to their focus. This is not the best production you are going to hear from a black metal album and at some place it seems like that is the point. They are also not dependent on blast beats and you get more double bass, while the drumming is the weak spot, I think this speaks to having their own sound. All of this factors into why I will give this album and 8 out 10 .

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Cloud Nothings : "Life Without Sound"

It is comforting to know that one of the biggest indie rock bands at the moment does in fact know how to rock.

Arduini / Balich :"Dawn of Ages"

Here is an interesting album, that caught my eye in it's claims to be progressive doom. While that might not be a fitting description, what is deserves attention. After chugging with a fair amount of atmosphere they bring husky more power metal vocals that are from a Dio school of thought. Things get bigger when the vocals come in. The tempo lumbers up to something a shade more brisk than where Black Sabbath would typically go. "Forever Fades " finds them galloping into more traditional metal waters and while they have a dense ominous chug they are not really doom even when it slows into more longingly blue based moan. There is a heavier "Into the Void" like attack to "Into Exile" and enough atmosphere injected into the chorus to make this song stand out. At over 11 minutes this is not confined just to their Sabbath worship , but branching out into a grander narrative. The guitar interplay gets a little more interesting toward the end.

It's not until the 13 minute "Wraith" that they lean into a more sorrowful doom direction. Something about this songs sounds like it could be one of Iced Earth's more power-ballad like moments. Whatever the case it might be the album's strongest song as it's the first one where I am convinced of the feeling being poured into it. There is more of a Whitesnake type feel to "Beyond the Barricade" so think hair being blown about by fans in front the monitors than anything actually metal like we think of metal today. Still this punch emulates my favorite Whitesnake moment in "Thrill of the Night" so it works for me. This works for me in the first four minutes of the song, but we are talking about a 17 and a half minute song.

After the sprawling epic they streamline things down to the three and a half minute closer. They also slow down to more of a doom like pacing.At almost two minutes into this and more guitar solos being indulged I begin to get the sense that this is more of an outro. Overall even with some of the heavier winks to 80s metal this is above solid into pretty impressive blend of straight up metal, it might not be a doom album, but it is heavy metal in the strictest sense so I will give this bad boy a 9 even though it is not something I can see myself listening to on a regular basis.

Crystal Fairy : " s/t"

Holy shit! I guess I have le Butcherettes confused with the Ravonettes going into this because this chick can fucking belt it out with rock god size balls, I know she is from Bosnian Rainbows but it didn't all click now. The opener packs more of a punch and "Drugs on the Bus" takes a more winding prog grunge jam. You pretty forget this is a super group as Buzz Osborne and the dudes from the Mars Volta all take a back seat to Teri Gender Bender here. "Necklace of Divorce" is a much more solid song with room for melody and groove. "Moth Tongue" is still burly and angular but it feels a little more blues based than the previous song, almost slightly Zeppelin but through a filter of sludge.

The song named after this band is a boogie that has a harder rock edge and makes it clear this fuzzed out production is a big part of their over all sound.  "Secret Agent Rat" is a few degrees heavier than more rock direction this album seems to be planted in. They do more of a 90's alternative soft to loud dynamic that reminds me of PJ Harvey on "Under Trouble". It is also atmospheric in the same manner Queens of the Stoneage are. With those comparisons made its still a strong song. Things get a little more intense of "Bent Teeth". If drives like "Louder Than Love" era Soundgarden. It sounds like Jello Biarfra joins her for "Possession". This could be Buzz.If you wanted to know what Rasputina might sound like as a punk band this gives you a hint. There is a more 60s rock feel to "Sweet Self". "Vampire X-mas" is more like 70s hard rock almost bordering on metal. I'll give this a 9.5, which is higher than anything I have heard from Buzz on his own in a minute. This album was just released on Ipecac Records. Fans of female fronted rock go ahead on get this now.

Black Metal History Month - Rebel Wizard : "Triumph of Gloom"

This project from Australia is self described "negative metal" this riffs blend the big melody of power metal with blackened thrash. The first song finds samples sitting in the space vocals would normally occupy. So if you wanted to get into Iron Maiden , but the operatic vocals  are too much for you then this might be your jam. The second song finds them lashing into a more traditional storm of feral black metal. The howling scowl of higher screamed vocals really cement them into this burning church. Fans of Mutilation Rites will dig what is going on here. The first song is more well constructed as when things accelerate the run off sheer piss and vinegar. There is more double bass driving the similar fury of  "Trampled by Wolves and Sheep" .

"Ease of Wretchedness and Wonder" finds the more melodic elements returning to the guitar riff, though the vocals stay pretty nasty. The riff to the bridge going into the verse is pretty fucking killer. They continue to work off of hooky riff melodies on " A Spell of Sorrow" .  This does speed up into a blast beat. Some pretty crushing thrash riffs kick out of the blasting. "Eat the Worlock " works off of sheer anger and little finesse in song writing. They get back into more winding Iron Maiden like riffs on " Sorcery" . This is just enough infusion of song writing and melody to keep my attention and from it just being a temper tantrum that fades into the background.

The samples return for "Hemorrhage wonders" the riff is slower and more powerful. Vocals come in towards the songs final moments to dial up the intensity level. The close the album with the high velocity thrash attack of " Defenders of the Gloom". The guitars once again takes up all the spot light with the black metal vocals the only thing earning the corpse paint here. The drumming isn't shabby, it's double heavy but clearly comes from more of a thrash place. I'll round this up to an 8 as it's attitude makes up for a lot here. This is fun and if you are totally devoted to black metal it will broaden your horizons slightly without making you any less grim.

Black Metal History Month -Sons ov Omega : "Reign"

In knowing what black metal is, it is just as important sometimes to study what it is not. Black metal has become a genre everyone wants to hop onto even by really reaching to squeeze themselves into the definition. We are gong to take a listen to a band who does this to some extent. This band from Sweden is more of a melodic death metal band than the black metal band they claim to be mixing clean vocals in a manner more heavy handed than even Enslaved. The first song is not bad, this albums sounds good and is well executed. Th pace eases back more some more melodic layers on " Fields of Ember' this is also the first song that speeds up into something that warrants them be considered blackened. The blacker momentum is carried over into the attack of the song after this as well. Though it kind of goes by me in a blur and doesn't really pull me into it. Lyrically they are all over the place "Nuclear Salvation" doesn't reall adhere to the album's occult themes Maleficarum" . Sometimes the vocals go into more of a croak that reminds me Shagrath.  There is a more mid-paced groove to "Malleus Maleficarum"

"Kali" finds them steering out of metal into a more hard rock place. But this is hard to argue against since it might be the album 's best song. They loosen the reins on the lead guitarist buy the time we get to "Brain Wave Zero" and allow him to rip out some impressive solos. There is a more classic metal feel to the chugs that drive this and it has more in common with Amorphis than black metal even when it speeds up. The racing guitar riff of "The Tempest" strikes me more as progressive death metal and the lower growl of the vocals helps to confirm this. There is more of a power metal meets thrash feel to the attack of "Deluge". Dark elements lurk around some of these guitar parts and the song is very well written, but these guys have a clearly scattered vision of what black metal is or isn't.  It ends with "Cthulhu" which is dark enough to make the cut as black metal though not the best song on the album as it works off of a more monochrome throb.

Overall this album is an enjoyable listen though the wheel is not being reinvented, while this can appeal to fans of black metal it does pull from many other metal genres and dilutes it from even being a blackened death metal album, I'll give it an 8. If you want something more easily defined as black metal this might not be for you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Black Metal History Month - A Brightly Painted Corpse : " Serenades of a Dying Swan"


These guys are more like Atmospheric black metal than they are the blackened doom often credited with, this is my first time with the band so not sure if this si a change in direction of not . The piano plays heavily in the first few songs. It is not until "Worn in Tatters" that you hear a beat that slows down to more of a doom, pacing but it is no slower than some Burzum or most Depressive Black Metal, which this also reminds me of . The guitar tone is more of a buzz of feed back that reminds of An Autumn for Crippled Children. The piano parts continue to flourish so it is certainly a signature of their sound on this album. It swells into a more doom like section where a weird scraping sound comes from the corners of the speakers and the vocals take a lower death metal growl.

On  "Hopeless Excavation"  the bulk of the song howls at you with a similar frenzy to most suicidal or atmospheric black metal I do like the guitar melody they groove out on in the song's final moments. It's not a bad song it jsut doesn't grab me and hold me for the hold ride and I don't get drawn back into til the end, but then again I haven't finished my first cup of coffee so that might factor in too.  There is a more spacious creep to the sparse verse that opens the title track. This is atmospheric , but I am not sure any traces of doom can be heard which is fine with me despite my love for it. The synths creep in over the more heavy convergence that still doesn't allow the song to descend into the more conventional forms of even atmospheric black metal much less a blast beat fest. In the song's final moments when it does take on a more dirge like pace, it strikes me more as atmospheric death metal than doom, do to the aggressive double bass employed.

The albums ends on it's most aggressive and perhaps most black metal note with "Suffering from Kuru" . It does slow all the way down to a piano interlude. I will say this projects strength is the wide dynamic range they entwine into these songs. At 13 minutes the last song sprawls on a  little long for me personally, but they make better use of the time than most. I'll round this up to a 9, unsure if this will make it onto the more elusive drive of my iPod , but I enjoyed this album and will continue to recommend it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Black Metal History Month -Slagmaur :"Thil Smitts Terror"

Is this black metal ? Is Behemoth black metal ? These guys from Norway have that kind of massive grandiose stomp to them. They are darker than your average death metal band and have more texture so we could possibly call them blackened death metal. If this wasn't Black Metal History month I might not be as ocd about finely categorizing these guys as they care about the songs and are good at what they do. There is a darker coating to the chords that ring out on the second song, but the vocals have more of a death metal bellow to their roar. The drummer prefers double bass to blast beats. The guitar is the most black metal element to their sound. "Werewolf" has a slower and darker throb to it that feels a little more black metal to me than the first song. They use choral chants to build off of the thickening atmosphere. The vocals and the drumming are really the only thing here giving it a death metal feel.

The guitar is much more melodic for the third song. If you listen closely you can hear some odd bits of percussion thrown in. When they get locked into the chug the distortion is a little overpowering in the mix, but is offset by the keyboards. "Heskritt" has dense groove to it and is powerfully heavy. At twelve minutes this does drone on a little, but you are never bored  "Hansel Unt" is another song driven by smart and sonically interesting guitar parts. There vocals feel more tortured here and are layered with weird middle eastern like chanting. "Vi Els' almost has an industrial feel to it until the big chorus of vocals booms in. It eventually hits it's groove and steadies out into a more deliberate pulse.

This album is a lot of dark twisted fun. It might not appeal to black metal purists , but much like Behemoth whose fan base might not be Darkthrone fans as well, this is good metal no matter then genre, blackened death metal might be the most fitting title to file it under, what ever the case I will give this album a 9.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Obituary : " S/T "


Tampa legends are still a finely tuned machine at what they do the first song is just much more uptempo than what I remember them doing and has less of the Celtic Frost stomp to it. John Tardy's voice still has isn't signature torment belch to it. The second song is cut from the same mold as the first so I am hoping they switch things up by the time we get to "Lesson In Vengeance" .  The guitar solos play it much safer than what I remember hearing from these guys in the late 80's . There is more of the Celtic Frost gallop when "Lesson in Vengeance" kicks in. Bass player Terry Butler from Six Feet Under  and former Andrew WK guitarist Kenny Andrews man their battle stations with vigor.

There is a more guttural hint to Tardy's voice on "End it Now" which has a much more solid groove. I don't hear the same amount of personality invested in "Kneel Before Me" , which sounds a little like they jacked some Morbid Angel. There is another repeating moment that we felt earlier in the album where it seems "It Lives " just picks up where "Kneel Before Me" left off. "Betrayed" finds the pace picking up and it is still clear that these guys are great at what they do, it just sounds like that is being coupled with a need to fit into death metal as a whole. The more deliberate groove reminds me of the band's more classic work. Tardy's phrasing is unique to what he does and is something aspiring death metal bands should take note of. The high impact guitar solo seems like it is a little out of place , but as a whole the song works more than it doesn't.

There is a slight hardcore hint to "Straight to Hell" . I really like when the song slows midway in. I am totally ok with the idea of laying down my peaceful vision on "Ten Thousand ways to Die" as it's groove is hard to not head bang at your desk to. While this album is a solid slab of death metal that holds up against younger bands I would like to have heard this done in a manner that as more in commong with the sound of  "Slowly We Rot". I'll give it an 8. .

Lock Howl : " Pareidolia'

Here is an odd hybrid of an album with gothy crooned vocals that have more of a Beastmilk feel to them. The metal side of the coin, is more progressive in some of the passages, while this keeps a neo-classical tone in play that works with the over all sound it is weird hearing this in the context of the more lo-fi production. The is a more dark vibe to "Echoes From the Chemical Void". I am not sure all of the guitar melodies are where they need to be. The way they kick into the chorus also need a bigger sound production wise to live up to its potential, "Nephilim " is a little happier than I would have hoped it would be, but I guess that is where the song wanted to go.

As far as influences go it seems this is more influenced by the revivalist bands than actually pulling from Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus like some reviews might suggest. There is a more 80s metal guitar tone to "Into the Darkness, Into the Unknown" the more metal elements have faded away except for a more Emperor direction the chorus flirts with. 'Graveless" is the first song that really turns to older goth . It also collides with metal. "Lost in Static" takes more of a middle of the road approach I do like the fact it uses more of the tried and true gothic trapping but needs the hooks to hook you in. I really like the verses to "She Was Found By the Lake" the metal vocals that come in on the chorus strike me as more of a nu-metal good cop bad cop thing. He even gives a wink to Type O Negative on this one. When it comes to being a one man band the guitars on this album are it's strongest point. To say this project is in any way black metal even on the last song where the rasped vocals are dominant, would be like calling Sentenced black metal. It would not make sense.The exchange of the almost surf rock reverb heavy guitars on the last song which has a more driving tempo, but barely what we would call metal in these parts of the black woods. Overall even though it is not the marriage of black metal to post-punk that I had been promised, what this album is still works well on many levels and I like it as I am still mourning the demise of Beastmilk and awaiting another Grave Pleasures album. so I will round it up to a 9.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Black Metal History Month- Verheerer : "Archar"

I found this one prowling Bandcamp for new black metal. Here is a black metal project from Germany that proves on the opener of it's new album it can nail both the atmosphere and the raw animalistic attack. They do hit you with blast beasts in the last minute to remind you this is a black metal band, but they have already trampled you with a wide array of other mean spirited riffs. They have girt to the production with out sacrificing quality. You can hear the bass an it gives their over all sound that much more punch. On the title track that follows their powerful intro, they follow a slightly more standard path. They are tagged with sludge and though I would not call them a blackened sludge band they do pack a similar punch, just at higher speeds and with a more venomous intention.

The vocals are a throaty scowl more long the lines of Goatwhore, just not dropping down into he lower more death metal tone, so more like what Sami does. They throw in samples that are well placed and provide a narrative to some of the more droning riffs as they are being layered. On the thirds song their momentum doesn't relent, but it also runs into a blur and sounds like every other black metal band so I am less impressed. The closing song which is named after them finds the locking into riffs that mean more and the song it self has more space to breathe. The drummer and bass player are locked in to make it a juggernaut. The vocals snarl at you in a make that doesn't hide the lyrics are their thoughts on the bastard world, which is something a little more convincing than just dialing in the Satan. The guitars are really well layered here and make the most of the 8 minutes this song consumes. This album is pretty solid, I think it starts at the strongest point and then finds them trying to reclaim those sounds summoned at the height of their powers with out slipping back into the mire of sounding like every other black metal band. I'll give it an 8 , which is high praise for these guys considering I just gave "Plaguewielder" and 8.5. Not that they are in the same league as Darkthrone, but they are finding a well earned spot for themselves in the charred halls of black metal lore.

Black Metal History Month - Looking Back in Anger at Darkthrone's "Plaguewielder"

One of my favorite things to do this month is go back and pull certain album's down from their pedestals and see how they hold up over the years. I remembered interviewing Mike Williams of Eyehategod and when the question of black metal came up he listed this as his favorite black metal album. Sure it came out in 2001, so well after what purists might consider past the prime in regards to the rise of Norweigan black metal, but lets get real and admit in 2001 the coolest of your were listening to either Opeth or Converge at best.  Black metal that wasn't Cradle of Filth or Dimmu was more than likely not in your rotation. This album finds the band has stepped up production quality and moved into riffy song writing, The snarls vocals were still more metal than punk or the kind of New Wave of British Heavy Metal the band would delve into on the past few albums. I can hear touches of Bathory in their attack, but find the opener "Weakling Avenger" holding up over the past 16 years.

It's funny to hear how bands like say Craft were influenced by this and how this album helped draw up the blue print for many of the more legit black metal bands of today. "Raining Murder" finds them picking up into the kind of blast beating that we regard as black metal. They do this with a very feral energy. The cymbal work is more relaxed than some of the more bombastic acts that followed. It slows into very solid head banging groove. There is more of the punk inspired energy that opens "Sin Origin". I can accept that it's a part of what they do , but not what I consider their strongest side, but I can see how punk kids find this to be a good entry point.

"Command" rumbles out like a Faustian panzer brigade before giving up the groove for blast beats. When we get to "I, Voidhanger" it hits the place many Darkthrone albums do where the pulse just kind numbs me into a place where they albums begins to breeze by me. It's not until two minutes into "Wreak" this is a solid album, but not their best by a long shot as I would only give this one a 8.5, so now I'll move onto "Hate Them" and see how it does against it , I'll tell you right now it has a better guitar tone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Black People : " Dust and Shadows"

I want more death rock. I really do. I wish bands could deliver it to me , but this is where the problem lies. This is largely a very sonic lo-fi punk rock band. The vocals are certainly influenced by death rock, but I am not 100 percent convinced that they are a death rock band. The production is pretty inconsistent as the second song suffers where the opener worked. I like what the vocals do on "Shame" but the guitar is not always working with him. If we think back to what really works with death rock, we know the bass needs to have more of a presence to leave the guitar more room to snake round and get creepy. "Anxiety" is more intangible in it's arrangement.The more lo-fi elements work here to help create the atmosphere and for ma more hypnotic feeling, but this is hit or miss.

They sound more like blown out garage rock that is really dark on "Follow" if some left the Cure playing on a boom box in the next room while they recorded it. The first song that has a shoe gaze feel is the swirling "Hush". I like the guitar on this song more than anything i have heard from these guys yet and this is the least punk moment so far. "Filth" is more in the almost psych garage rock side of things and not as original as the previous since it reminds me more of Blue Cheer. Things do get darker on "Sterilize". This one also has female vocals layered in the background to help add a touch of elegance. The difference between goth which is first off more of the broader blanket and death-rock, is death rock has the elegance it's just the morning after waking up in the gutter with a needle in your arm. I like lyrics referring living in a world of entitlement, which this almost anti-millennial sentiment seems to juxtapose what ever cause they are backing Bandcamp on.

There is something being said about sterilizing humanity on the next song "Solidarity". It is dreamier and the female vocals play a larger role when the take over for the more drug induced male narrative. This is also the second moment on the album where shoe gaze might apply to what is going on here. I like this album, some of the production could have been fine tuned to give a clearer picture of what they were trying to to . I'll round it up to an 8.5 .

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Black Metal History Month - Wiegedood : "De Doden Hebben Het Goed II"

When it comes to black metal  things are fairly divided even when it comes to varied sub-genres. This is the case with many of the sects of metal, but black metal finds this even more pronounced. Go to a Deafheaven show and then go see Abbath and it clearly looks like you are in two different cultures. One could almost double for a Mumford and Sons crowd the other has on enough spikes to sink a long boat. This band from Belgium is one of the few able to bring some legit metal that is not punk or post-rock in disguise and still make picky critics like me happy. So this is the sequel to the Belgian band's 2015 album. This start off with a blaze of fury in their skies as it blast with a bunch of mean spirited rage. The vocals are screamed in a very throat curdling manner. The drummers sounds like it might be the weak link on the opener , but some of that could just be due to the guitar really pushed up and slicing into your ears in this violent mix. The first half of the 11 minute second song is more melodic , but the instrumental section sprawls on until the 5 minute mark. They kick things up to the kind of manic pace established in the first song. I don't mind when these guys get into the more blast beaten moments because they do so tastefully and there is never a sense that it's all they can do.

 I really like the groove they end up in on the title track. They really hit the sweet spot where the sonics are as heavy as the metal. While they hit a very high point here the more thrash rooted song that follows really doesn't do a helluva a lot for me. It sounds good and I was listening to this loud enough to make my ears ring...if you don't typically listen to good metal at this volume then lets just go ahead and get the fact you are pussy out of the way.I will give this short and sweet four song little thing a 9 though I doubt it will make it over to my iPod as most of it takes it time or sprawls out beyond what I want to listen to walking to get coffee in the morning no matter how hard it is snowing.


Black Metal History Month - Goatmoon : "Stella Polaris"

Opening with the title track, we have some very well recorded and executed black metal that is very thrash influenced, so it holds more groove than just blast beats making it rather obvious that this Finnish band is no strangers to Dissection records. There is a little more of a pagan metal folk swing to the gallop of the next song, but even though it is not as dark as prefer my black metal, it is refreshing they are not relying on momentum alone to numb you into submission. Folk metal melodies continue to frolic over their Northern Euro stomp. "Wolf Night" is a brisk jaunt at under two minutes, but gets the job done with an almost more punk energy that shows this album has yet another color to it.

They get back to more of an epic folk metal vibe with the instrumental "Sonderkommando Nord". It would work better as a full fledged song , but for what it is it works well enough.The keyboards on this album are well used adding another layer to more blasty songs like "Warrior". The vocals are higher pitched rasp that not as crazed or shrieked as some, but above a growl. The more melodic interludes in this song are interesting and I think well paced. They seem to be increasing their need for speed once when are rocketed into "Conqueror", by the time we get to this song I think it is not playing to the band's strengths and begins to feel like filler.

"Overlord" starts off at yet another dizzying tempo. I think if this was band I just expected that from it would not make me raise an eye as I would already be numbed out by them. Here I had my expectations raised on the first half of the album, so it feels more like they are dialing it in and just settling with blast beats when they can do more."P.A.I.L" is a more drastic change of pace with it's ballad like tone. Singing is not this guy's strength, but it works well enough as it begins to feel like a viking was just thawed out of a block of ice and trying to drunkenly sing a folk song to a Skid Row power ballad. Having grown up on a steady diet of hair metal I can appreciate this. This album is a lot of fun despite being caught in a mire of blast beats in the second half, I'll still give it a 8.5. Being released on Werewolf Records who are pumping out some pretty decent black metal these days.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Unearthly Trance : "Stalking the Ghost"

Yes, I will break away from Black Metal History Month to cover albums of note such as this one that finds the driving sludge of this New York band hitting me with renewed power. This is more aggressive than what I recall hearing from them previous to this. Two minutes in and it seems like they are in the same zip code as Tombs when it comes to having a healthy balance of brawn and beauty. They are not like many of their peers and simply content with nibbling on the nuts of Neurosis. The songs tend to run along the six to seven minute mark. "Dream State Arsenal" wallows in feed back for the first minute and a half so with the fat trimmed we are talking five minute songs. There is  more Melvins like stomp to this one. This one can really be heard in the howl of the vocals . The vocals become more pained for "Scythe" which makes me think more of Crowbar as they go doomier with the guitars as well.

"Famine" gives you a more aggressive pounding before backing off into a more atmospheric section that eventually takes on a more angular slink before the anger returns. This is the first song that really strikes me as taking a more conventional metal approach. "Lion Strength" is a weird one , in some way it reminds me of back when Mastodon used to be a metal band, then it does a werid loud to soft dynamic thing.  It some how all works. There is more of a death metal thing going on vocally when it comes to "Invisible Butchery". This one has a more doom tinged pound as it lingers.  This song does build in tempo but doesn't strike me as being as compelling as the others.

There is an increased aggression in the attack of "the Great Cauldron". The rasp is pretty mean, though the lyrics can still be made out through the throaty sneer. There is a oppressive hammering to the song as it slows, which is what you want from sludge to really bring it to a more doomy place.  I can see fans of doom digging this. The clean vocals return and kinda surprise me. The last song is more of an outro. I'll give this one a 9 and see how it grows on me as it's a lot of fun and might make the journey to my iPod

Black Metal History Month - Kassad : "Faces Turn Away"

It could be argued that this one man project out of England adheres to the blue print drawn up by Deafheaven, but if feels like he has dug back into Deaheaven's influences and is aware of bands like Weakling and Coldworld. The vocals are harsh and static. The guitars offer more color and I can not tell if the drums are programmed out not as sometimes their patter sounds like they are machine like and digital blips. The end result is a gray explosion of sound that I appreciate, so how they got there is a little less of an issue. The second song is more of a monochrome forward blast that doesn't eave me as impressed as the first song did. I hope the rest of the album doesn't get stuck in that rut. I like the darkly melodic intro to "Void" even if it drones on for a bit, it is much darker than the kind of post- rock Deafheaven indulges in.

I would not go as far to say this project ever dips into depressive black metal though there is a very low swing feel at times. The rageful attack of "Madness" which is condensed into a three minute punch. While the wheel is not reinvented, I appreciate the fact it's in and out without having to waste any time. There is more melody in the moody guitars that ring out during "Broken". There is more of noise sprawl to the beginning of the title track that brings older Coldworld to mind. I am not sure I would call this black gaze. It is atmospheric, but has more of a chilly detachment to it. It pulses over this in a way that is more of an interlude than an actual song.

This album turns out to be more of an EP as the closing "song" is more of a snyth outro than ever turning into anything that is more than just sonics even by kraut rock standards. I will round this one up to a 9, the songs that are fully conceived are solid and stand on their own. While it will certainly appeal to fans of Deafheaven, this guy is not simply hopping on to ape Clarke and company. I am not sure it will make the trip to the iPod, but I will recommend it to my friends who like Deafheaven.

Black Metal History Month - Clandestine Blaze : "City of Slaughter"

This is the 9th full length from the one man band from Finland. It goes in step with many other Finnish black metal projects , being that it has a raw savagery to it. There is more of a pulsing throb to the opener and the second song defaults to more of your typical blast beat frenzy on "the Voice of Our Mythical Past". Production is a little rough as the amps the guitar is played through sounds like it is even more blown out than early Burzum. "Circle of Vultures" is another aggressive high seed jaunt that throws a wall of blast beats at you. There is more of wink towards Celtic Frost on "Return into the City of Slaughter" .  There is a more melodic interlude a couple of minutes into the song that takes it into a more sorrowful direction, which if you know my tastes by now is a direction I would like to hear this project delve deeper into. Perhaps he has , this s really my first time ingesting one of his albums whole. I do really like how this songs builds into a pounding climax in the final minute.

The vocals are in a mid-range ranting gurgle of sorts that is more along the lines of mid-period Darkthrone. If you are going to do lo-fi raw black metal the atmosphere that rings out of the opening riff to "Archeopsychic Fear" is the way to do it. Of course this gives way to blasting that reduces this to just another raw black metal song. The album closes with "Century of Fire" . There is more feeling in this guitar throb than what we have heard thus far in the album and might be one of the album's most well thought out songs.

I will give this album a 7.5, it has some great moments , but for it to be this projects 9th full length I expect a little more. If this was some kid screwing around in his basement, it would be a different story as the old saying goes "to those with much given, much is expected". There are some cool sounds and if you are a fan it's not going to disappoint, it is just churning waters that have already been sailed over.

Black Metal History Month - Funeral Chant : "s/t"

Not generally a fan of raw black metal, but in all fairness I am reviewing one such album during Black Metal History month and this is it. Glad I picked this one because for what it is these guys are pretty decent. This Oakland black metal band nailed the raw ambiance part and they have some pretty mean feral riffing kicking you in the ears on their self titled album. It opens really strong with the highly Darkthrone influenced "Spiral into Madness" which is way more cohesive than the song that follows, which is reckless barrage of blast beats, with riffs that sound more death metal. "Flood of Damnation" doesn't find them recapturing the level of song writing the showed us on the opener and opts for a thrasher sound that has more in common with altars of madness.

They throw even more caution to the wind come out with blustery banging over garbage can blast blast beat that is recorded in a manner that hits you like a jagged storm of riffs until they go into more of a gallop. A guitar solo goes down amid all of this and they even wind up on a darker more melodic progression, so if old Bathory is more of your thing then you will dig this song, I am not quite as impressed with it , but oh well. The more punk aspects of black metal are in play on "Morbid Ways", which might bring to mind a dirty version of Venom. It has more of a thrashing snarl to it. You can make out what it going on in this song better than the first. Diving whammy bar propelled solos give a wink to Slayer here and there before the song converges into a more locked it chug.

This album is book-ended by two songs that show this band can write song, but they often choose to take a sloppier path.If this sort of thing is what you are into then you are likely more of a punk who likes to dabble in metal than an actual metal head so all of my issues with this album are going to be the things you love about it. My friends over at Cvlt Nation are going to be right there with you.With all of that said I am rounding this down to an 8 which is a pretty high score for a sub-genre of black metal that I normally do not care for , so that means they are doing something right.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Black Metal History Month - Kreator : " Gods of Violence"

Of all the German thrash bands credited for being an influence on the second wave of black metal, these guys along with Sodom, can be heard in the dna of the genre today. This album is a little more grandiose than the band's earlier work and "Coma of Souls" is where I left off with these guys so some time has passed. I like "Satan is Real" better than the more feral snarl of the opening track. It is smartly written in a manner that holds up to the band's legacy, and this is after we have already gotten over the fact that Mille's vocals are never going to repeat "Extreme Aggression" again. There is a more meat and potatoes thrash feel to the angry shred of Totalitarian Terror ". The compromises being made with the vocals are made up for in the layers of guitar, which are so melodic they almost add a folk metal tinge to the titles track that takes a little of the bit out and leaves in feeling more  like Amon Amarth.

There is a more a Big 4 style of arena thrash to the beginning of  "Army of Storms". The vocals are lower and have more spoken grit to them. The chorus is bigger than most and like many of these songs so far have a good sense of hooks to it.  Guitar harmonies are given a lot of emphasis on this album. They almost remind me of Savatage on " Hail to the Hordes". This more melodic trend continues on "Lion With Eagles". What can be said is they have changed with the times and this sounds just as vital as any young band playing melodic thrash. Mille and the drummer are the only two original members remaining. Though the other players have almost been with the band for a decade so not wet behind the years by any means. Production wise, everything is dialed in close to perfect. Sometimes this strength can become the albums weakness as a little roughness around the edges might give this a heavier sound.

Almost more power metal, "Fallen Brother" sounds big and finds the vocals working with with the riffs to hook you in . Once again the leave room for shredding, another place where it's a matter of perspective as what some might hear as the album's strength could be seen as a weakness depending on the listeners threshold for wanking. I like the melodic guitar break in the other wise punchy "Side By Side " and the vocals get pretty close to really singing in one section, though it just begins to feel more folk metal there. Then it gets almost like something from Iron Maiden's "Fear if the Dark " album on "Death Becomes My Light" . When they lock in on a few of the chugged parts and continue to embrace a more Iron Maiden feel on some of the more winding turns to galloping. The guitar solo goes into a much cleaner tone and proves they can rip with the best of them.  I'll round this one up to a 9 because they nailed the sound they are going for even if it is not what I think of as classic Kreator and slightly panders to the current trends. Not sure this will make the trip to my iPod as it has a little too much of the 80s sounding power metal like interludes, but I have enjoyed the listens I have given it thus far.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Black Metal History Month - Falls of Rauros : "Vigilance Perennial"

Claiming the throne from Agalloch , this band from Portland really comes into their own from the sound of the majestic stomp that drives the opening track off their new album "Vigilance Perennial". The guitar playing is the strong point, staying equal parts melodic and aggressive , with much more metal riffing than some of the more hipster cascadian black metal bands. "Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes" could very well be an Explosions in the Sky song. This speaks to the quality of their clean tones, though this is ripped apart when the blast into the three minute mark. The vocals are a hateful mid range rasp. The drumming is the most raw sounding element to their sound, though the bass is typically buried somewhere south of Mordor. Some of the tricky timing of the punches winks in a more Liturgy like direction so you can certainly grow a cool beard to this.+

After the clean guitar interlude they play it a little safer on "Arrow and Kiln" we get some cool guitar harmonies, that are not on an Iron Maiden level, but for black metal pretty good ad then the bass player wakes up and we hear him emerge from a better mix.  Any guitar players under the impression that black metal guitar is boring and simplistic need to give this album a listen. This song doesn't feel like it is 12 minutes long so they are doing something right. The last minute finds a cleaner guitar tone creep in, and think the varied guitar tones are one of the strong points of this album. As long as there are layers you have a more appealing dynamic sound.

And the solid guitar playing keeps coming on the closing song. They do bring in tremolo guitars but it is layered against a more post rock shimmer and the effect is something other bands need to pay more attention to. The guitar solo to this song is really well done and tasteful and adds to the song rather than just wanking on it's chin. The vocals chime in with more of a gang vocal chant that makes me think these guys were into hardcore before they got into a black metal band. This album is great for what it is a very enjoyable listen I will give it a 9.5, but unsure if it will make the journey over to the iPod because the songs are so long.

Black Metal History Month - Fen : "Winter"

It is clear that Fen misses old Enslaved as much as I do. The result on this album is the more atmospheric and folk elements have been scales back to the fringes of their sound in favor for a more bombastic epic charge of sound. The blast beat come even amid the long 17 minute , opener. At seventeen minutes you have time to work in every heavy metal staple that you can think of. This si their fifth album and they have clearly matured and everything sounds great production wise. The bass playing is still superb and sits better in this large take on their sound. The majority of the songs are over ten minutes. "Penance" has more adventurous guitar playing and reminds me more of their earlier work in the way the mix has a lot of space. The song swells into a gang cheer of some sort. I think this album is more focused and more black metal than what I remember hearing from these guys 5 or 6 years ago.

There is smoother jam in the calm before the storm to "Fear". It then builds up into a more feral fury that is very black metal, but not really mind blowing. There is a more post-rock instrumental feel to the first half of "Interment". The scathing vocals follow a more melodic vocal chant. Sure it sounds great but is a little on the more color by numbers side. "Death" emerges from the swell of feedback left over from the previous song which is a pretty fucking metal way to segue. The harsher vocals feel like this have a little more aggression to them this go around. I am more impressed by the nuanced prog metal like guitar parts that offer groove.They try to re-kindle their more atmospheric days of old by going all out for the almost kraut rock like closing song which comes back harder with a more metallic tone in the final two minutes of it's almost ten minute wandering.

This was a decent enough listen, not a huge fan of the band but appreciate what they do and think this is one of the stronger examples of what that is. The vocals have improved so I will give this an 8. Black metal has not been redefined at all, but this has a fan base that is eager to hear this well done and it is well done and very tasteful.

Black Metal History Month - Morast : "Ancestral Void"

This album from the German band is a puzzling piece of darkness. I think the fact it is so dark earns it's place to be covered during Black Metal History Month. It's a form of blackened deathly  doom with  the vocals coming across like a more brutal less sung version of Chronos, so varied versions of black metal are in play, it throbs with a dark dissonance that works for me. On forlorn this comes as a steady more relentless pounding. I can see where the deliberate pace and tone of this album would appeal to fans of doom, though it's more black metal than doom despite the lack of blast beats. The more creeping mood of third third song further erasing clear cut genre lines though if you have not already been drawn into the hypnotic pulse of this album flowing along the waters of the river Styx, then you might be overthinking it. Not that over thinking it isn't the nature of what we are doing here, I just find it easier to listen to the mood of the music here rather than break it down into pieces. The vocals do have a nastier growl here and the drumming picks up into the kind of double bass that drives death metal of the more occult variety.

The bass continues to set the dismal tone on "Compulsion" . The one finds the chords ringing out with more melodic hints and the vocals having a more desperate rasp to them. It grows into a more mid-tempo creep. "Loss" falls out of the previous song and moves at an even slower pace. The guitar picks up into a more wavering black metal tremolo. The vocals also shift into a more Venom like howl. I like when the song finds it's groove as it progresses. The steady mid tempo beat to the title track gives it a sense of identity and before the guitar comes in to coat it with a creepier mood. While this might be one of the albums more powerful songs and I ca appreciate it, I am not sure as I am as engaged by the closing song as I was the opener. At it's best the song sounded like Obituary jamming with Venom.

This bands strength is the sound they have woven easily blended the three genres of doom, black metal and death metal, and finding where they perfectly intersect. What keeps this from being a contender from album of the year is it rides the throb and song then is what it is rather than seeking to explore further. Granted to some this might be a minor complaint and it really speaks more the the limitations of operating in the confines of being an extreme metal band. They do this in a pretty tasteful manner and some listeners might be blow away by it, so maybe it's my jaded ears are becoming increasingly difficult to please, but I did give the new King Woman a ten, many of you might say it's unfair to compare the two since in many ways it's apples to oranges, though they are both metal bands , I think it comes down to how far you want to push the song. Still if you wan a cool blend of the sub-genres these guys are onto something.

King Woman : " the Image of Suffering"

There is an even more dream like haze cast over the doom-gaze of the band's debut full length than we found on their previous ep. This hits a sweet spot for me as it once again proves you don't have to adhere to the typical trapping of metal in order to be heavy.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Black Metal History Month : Helheim - "Landawarijar"

Norway's Helheim succeeds on many levels here, one of them being the trade off between the clean vocals and the harsher rasp work really and the creepy chords really make this stand out rather than these guys just to come out of the burning church with blasting. Speaking of burning churches the are from Bergen. So they come from a city with a rich history of black metal. Thee second song is not as engaging but gallops along and carries you along for the ride with  more of a folk metal type feel. By the third song that have established their momentum and it's the interesting choice of chord progression and their attention to details as song writers that really sets them apart from the rest of the corpse painted herd.

They are not afraid to leave room for guitar solos and if you are a guitarist who has always wanted to get more into black metal but finds the guitar playing to thrive more of feral crudeness than shredding then this is a band that you need to check out. They have a lot in common with Enslaved. The solos section does drift into the title track and every thing blended together until I notices a distinct change in the mood of the riff."Ouroboros " is a much more melodic turn for the band. The do not let up on the guitar wizardry. The build finds them taking a more death metal like tone. Where they really win me over is with the passage of guitar with more of a surf rock sound, this shows me they are thoughtful and not limited to what is expected. "Synir af Heidindomr" has commanding vocals that have a more Celtic Frost like tone to them. The music underneath this goes on cruise control . Ths song is structured in a much simpler fashion that recalls the first wave of black metal. They eventually build up into more of a blast beaten direction. They close the album in a more melodic and moody manner on "Enda-dagr". This one gallops at a slower canter and finds a clean chant of vocals creating a call and response. They do create some tense and release it in a big epic metal manner. I have no problem rounding this up to a 9 for the guitar tones alone. The pagan parts never get too cheesy and are pretty understated.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Black Metal History Month - Heretoir : "the Circle"

Any one who thought black gaze was just a phase can now his this German band's ass as the have now been around for 11 years. The smooth clean vocals that come in on the verse have more a Swedish flair to them they remind me more of Katatonia or Opeth , than what I remember hearing from this band before. They do bring back the harsher growled vocals , but once again the song builds more like something Katatonia would do than black metal. After 11 years I am sure you are ready for some of the black metal trapping to fall away, just ask Darkthrone. "Inhale" finds things speeding up with very clean double bass. Things more much more calculated here. There is a more conventional placement to the harsh vocals that are punchier with a more metal-core like cadence to them. This doesn't mean they have gone total mall metal as there are still beautiful passages attached to this song, the bigger production makes them almost sound like something a progressive death metal band would do.

The clean vocals on "Golden Dust" work really well and sound more like what I remember to be their own voice. This isn't the heaviest song so far , but it might just be the most well written. There is a really nice flow to "My Dreams are Lights in the Sky" that is propelled by some really top notch drumming. Not sure if it justifies being an instrumental though. The best song that Between the Buried and me did not write is called " Exhale". The blast beats do show up. In you you were worried they might not. "Eclipse" finds them to continue to go down this modern progressive metal road though the ending of this song is more black metal than not. They tap into a much more organic Deafheaven like take on things with "Laniakea Dances", this is a better direction than some of the more metal core tinged things.

"Faded With the Gray" finds them slip forward back into the more progressive side, while it sounds good this style just doesn't resonate as strongly with me as the previous song did.The album closes with "the Circle" which must be a wink at the more A Perfect Circle like intro that eventually does build into actual metal. This is a weird album to review, the reasons many people might like it are there since it sounds more like a metal album is heavier, but I think the things I wanted from this band are rather toned down, namely the shoe-gazing side. I'll give this album a 9 and see how the changes wear on me.

This drops March 24th.

Black Metal History Month - Acriminous: "Eleven Dragons"

If Watain never listened to Fields of the Nephilim and was just out to make raging in satanic black metal they would sound more like this, here is one of th rare occasions where the geographic   influenced is numbed out as these guys sound more like they are from Sweden than they do Greece. The guitar is pretty ripping , yet the bass is even more impressive, the drummer just knows he has to be good. They hold off on the reckless blast bets til the 3rd song.Dissection is also a fair comparison when they are not locked in the faster more modern black metal sound which would then default back to Watain.

They are capable of indulging a more melodic side to bring a more majestic color out, though this quickly falls back into blast beats about a couple minutes into "Elder of the Nashiym". The bass is audible and the guitar works together well and gives the song the space it needs. The spoken word sections are ok as in the are a departure from the normal vocal roar. The drummer gets the job done, but haven't really heard him shine yet.These guys are capable of throwing some nice melodic interludes together, would be cooler to hear them in context of a song and in some cases unsure why they are not just the intro to the song that follows it. "Qayin Rex Mortis" blasts off with manic thrashing and sounds pretty much like the rest of the black metal that is influenced by Bathory. They keep up this furious pace on "Ominous Visions of Nod" which rages in a blur right past me until the bother to slow down into a darker throb. Unable to control themselves they speed back up into a more deliberate tantrum and then back down again so you can't fault them for a lack of trying.

When they slow down to take the time to smell the burning churches and go with some some lower more guttural growls they begin to step out of the shadow of their influences on " Stirring the Ancient Waters" . 'Litany of Moloch's Feast" just kind of blasts by and seems a little like a waste after we heard  this band really begin to come into their own. They further their addiction to speed with the more thrashy closing song. It is however a song that is over seven minutes so they can afford to blast into it at the beginning , but I am more curious to hear what else they can do. I'll give this album an 8, just when I think they are sinking into what every other black metal band would do they throw me a surprise.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Black Metal History Month -Medico Peste : "Herzogian Darkness"

Yesss... this is what I am fucking talking about, black metal so dark and dissonant that you can taste the motherfucking evil dripping off of it, yet it has balls and power to it. This band from Poland doesn't over do it with the blast beats, but their drummer is a god damn animalistic machine capable of putting a beating on your when they feel like it. I think the key here is they know how to maintain a healthy balance with all of these varied elements we have come to know as being components of black metal over the past decade. Not to say that this is not from the Mayhem school of thought. It is. There are also other influences at play, while the Bauhaus cover is going to come until the end, there is still a little but of darker punk behind the wheel of "Hallucinating Warmth and Bliss". The title alone sounds like something I experienced back in my drug days. If you thought you recognized a snarl back on the first song, you might have since it was Mark of the Devil from Cultes Des Ghoules lending his voice , which gives you idea of the company they are keeping which puts them in a bizarre zip code of their own, so even when the blast beats do come they are touched by surreal weirdness. There is less form and more chaos to the beginning of the the slower paced "Le Delire De Negation". The drummer do a pitter patter march around the slink of the guitar as the vocals descend into madness. It creates a great mood, but compared to the first two songs isn't as strong of a composition. They tackle "Stigmata Martyr" by Bauhaus. It has more attack.And to some it might seem like blasphemy to say perhaps to much as it obscures the main theme of the song. So overall the first half of this ep is stronger, with the first song really grabbing my attention and raising the bar, look forward to hearing a full length from these guys I'll give this a 9.

Black Metal History Month- Woe : "Hope Attrition"

Woe has been one of my favorite American black metal bands. They don't settle for just blast beats and Chris Grigg understands he has to write songs first. When the vocals come in on the first they give them space to roar. The recording captures a dense and dark sound that still has clarity to it. They know when to lock into a powerful chug to create a dynamic kick. Grigg's snarl still allows for you to make out most of the lyrics. They throw themselves into a more thrashing speed for "No Blood Has Honor". He drops down into a more death metal roar at times on this song. Their hard-core roots help the breakdown toward the end of the song reach a more emotional climax. They get into a more blasting form of traditional black metal on "the Din of the Mourning". There is a more melodic section that kicks in with clean vocals that are not too over the top. There is a more death metal tone to "the Ones We Lost". It is the album's most aggressive moment thus far. The vocals are more of a husky growl. It paints a portrait with sweeping swathes of darkness, that makes you forget this is nor coming to you by way of Sweden. The vocals are angry , but there are more introspective emotions in the guitar harmonies. They launch back into the blasting for "Drown Us with Greatness" the guitar work on this song is very mature and nuanced.The bass playing creates a very tasteful under current. The song builds into a more punk like charge forward. Their drummer really earns his pay on the closing "Abject in Defeat" which smoothes out from the avalanche of fills and blasting into a more fluid gallop into battle. The vocals trade off between the scowling higher pitch of black metal and lower death metal like snarls. The guitar melodies really make this one soar nicely. Nicely seems like a funny adjective to use for a black metal review, but it's very flowing and clean and feels like a little stream is guiding you down this otherwise post-apocalyptic landscape. I'll round this album up to a 9, it's slightly more straight forward than past releases, but the song writing has stepped up a notch.

Black Metal History Month -Digir Gidm : "I Thought There Was the Sun Awaiting My Awakening"

We are not ruling out blast beats altogether this month. I might a little disappointed if I didn't get a few . Right from the opener of this album we are getting them , but in doses that are not making this creep-fest a monochrome blur of blackness. The vocals stand out to me as there are varied approaches at work here from chants to some really fiendish snarls. Things at time get dark and angular which when you have a 12 minute song you are opening your album with then you have to do something. I like the fact the atmosphere being used here is unnerving. Going into the second song I suppose you could hear /more of an Emperor influence.  The elements that give them more of an original sound like the angular riffs and chanted vocals thrown in are still intact, but the drumming sounds more typical of what you would expect from this sort of thing, you can also hear where Deathspell Omega could be an influence. Though  it gets darker the song also seems to get a little lost in its self in the last four minutes, which is the risk you face with 11 minute songs.

"The Glow inside the Shell" finds itself where the other song got lost, it doesn't really stray much from where they had previously wandered, some of the sung vocals had a little more purpose. This loose jazz like dissonance also carries over into the last song "the Eye Looks through the veil". This band thrives on chaos, which is both their strength and weakness. The first lyrics I can really make out is the scream of ''greedy whore" .  Overall the album got off to a strong start and I like the fact they did not just jump on a blast beat bandwagon, but the songs wander and don't always go somewhere that justifies it. So I will round this down to a 7. If you like disjointed and angular black metal you might get more out of it than I did.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Anwar Sadat : "Ersatz Living "

There are hipsters in Kentucky? Who they hell would have thunk it? I am surprised as you will be this came out of Kentucky. Post punk is an influence, going into this the dudes over at Dead Air On the Pulpit who I know not to trust, tried to convince me this was industrial and I don't hear much hinting at that until midway through the album on "Quantum Fighter", then the electronic elements which up until this point has just created noise , provide more of a groove. Something about it also reminds me of older Inxs, a fact brought even more to the forefront when the guitars take on more of a jangle.

It "No Exit" which almost sounds like a Joy Division cover ,that really makes me take note. The vocals are crooned a little more like Iceage and the punk influence is all over this thing. The Joy Division influence is also felt in some other places following this most noted would be the drone of the synth on "Geshenkgeber" which find the throaty vocals in more of a Rollins like hushed whisper pledging to be submissive and getting down on his knees. Overall the lyrics are just as coarse and rough as the music with a pretty shitty attitude and the needed negativity in their outlook. If you ever wanted to hear what it might sound like to have Henry Rollins front New Order then " Ubik" might answer your question. I like when the vocals chose to actually sing in a more Depeche Mode like fashion these guys hit upon sounds that are some of my favorites.

This is an album I had to go back and re-listen to in order to be sure I have really given every song the proper trial that it deserved and heard things differently on songs like " Lower Than Life" which finds the angular riffs and coarse vocals working very well in their rough and tumble pounding with a hook buried under all the noise rock attitude. They go into a more confrontational ranting on the last four minutes of the album that brings more noise. I'll give this album a 9, it's more impressive than even the first song might have suggested going into it, this Godflesh vibe that I have heard some talk about is no where to be heard , but what they do is just as dirty and hopeless in all the right ways.

Black Metal History Month

It's that time again, cus black metal matters. We are going to dig back into the crypts to take another listen to some classics as well as see where black metal is heading so far this year. Before you get you little glue sniffing hopes up this doesn't mean that I am going to settle back for the next 28 days and be alright with blast beats for the sake of blast beats or ease up on the mandate that I passed going into the new year that I would asking more from black metal bands along with every other genre. The days of settling for tremolo picking and the same old same ole, are long gone. I want black metal that stands out from the pack. I want darkness, but I want to to sound beautiful, sonic and hypnotic.

So if a band is typically described as raw black metal then chances are they are no longer going to covered here, even if I have covered them in the past Horna is about as raw as I want to go , if I want to hear something that sounds like old Burzum or Darkthrone, well I own those albums. What I will look for is new depressive suicidal black metal , which is one of the only sub-genres that I am willing to compromise on recording quality for, some times as older Cold World has proven a little rough around the edges works to create the atmosphere.

Since history is a key component here we are going to going to take another listen to some of the albums that influenced the genre even though they might not be what kids growing up in 2017 consider black metal, but kids growing up in 2017 don't know shit any way. So grab you lighters and spark up the lawns out side of the church in you neighborhood, lets hope for snow after all listening to black metal with the crunch of snow under your boots is the perfect setting. The world is going to hell and certainly deserves, so lets celebrate true misanthropy and slap on come corpse paint to praise the coming darkness for Black Metal History month.