Friday, May 31, 2019

Kval : " Laho"






Was clicking around looking for doom and what I found instead was this Finnish depressive black metal band . These guys are dark and creepy. Most of the depressive anguish comes from the howl of the tormented vocals, but nothing is a light in these dark cloud. They groove on almost post rock passages, and by groove my head is bobbing along to this drone. It is a great blend of sonic atmosphere. I had to stop myself as I was making my best of metal 2019 so far list, because these guys might need to go on there. But would they rank higher  than the new Darkthrone I got yesterday. While they are in some stretch of the words black metal, Darkthrone and these guys are two different beasts.

The second song is more atmospheric in almost more of a post rock manner while , still keeping the mood gray before going into a more sweeping black metal. When they go into this sort of thing they are not as original as the first song. They are good at it just not feeling like we have never heard this sort of thing before. The reason it almost ranked,higher is because , while it sounds good midway into they are just working off of a sound .rather than songs . It is not until mid way into the third song that begin to incorporate some of the sounds that caught my ear on the first song. Where they do not come through is there is no groove. Not that groove is something that black metal works off of , so it was a nice change of pace.

The last "song" is more of an instrumental atmospheric outro. This album got off to a really strong start, then went off into well done atmospheric black metal, that was not as original. I will give this an 8.5 so it did not make the best of 2019 metal albums so far, unless I was doing the top 10 black metal albums of 2019 so far. It is going to take all other black metal albums that are not Darkthrone, Crowhurst or Gaahl to shoot higher than this album if they are going to make the cut. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Death Angel : " Humanicide"




It was the fact that their 1988 album "Frolic Through the Park" found the band diverting from the thrash sound every open  else had already latched onto, that made me drawn to them. Since reforming I do not hear as much of that coming from them. Instead they are straight up thrash. The only problem that surfaces on the second song is this thrash sound they now embrace can be one dimensional. There is clean guitar going into "Aggressor" , but they launch themselves into another attack after this calm before the storm. I do like that Mark's vocals are more tattooist. Though he has not yet opened up and really sung yet. When it comes to thrash these guys do care about writing song and have the experience writing them.

It is not until "Immortal  Behated" that I get the singing I came for . This is tempered with the double bass aggression under hem, but a much better dynamic balance in place. It does not come across any less heavy with Mark singing .  Even the more melodic chorus on "Alive and  Screaming" is an improvement. " the Pack" also carries enough nuance so it is not one dimensional and has few hooks thrown in for good measure. "Ghost of Me" shows once more how the vocals locking in the hook of the riff is a winning formula. That said it is a mid paced song rather than a speed fest. It is even better when there is a groove like "Revelation Song" .Lyrically it is not the best, but the music makes up for it. "Of Rats and Men" doesn't not really hit the mark like the others. The lyrics are cumbersome. "The Day I Walked Away" finds them playing with different sounds and vocal approaches which is just what I need more of .

I will round this up to a 9. Sure there are only glimpses of the band I used to love, but they are good at what they do and have enough that is different still about them to tell it is Death Angel. They are not apologetic about being metal, so thrash fans who want song writing should check this album out. 

Darkthrone : " Old Star"


Darkthrone has changed a great deal since kicking the doors open for the second wave of black metal along side Mayhem. More punk and rock influence crept in until they were playing black n . hen they brought in a more class NWOBHM" sound. This time around they are returning to black metal though it's roots , so the opener carries more more of a Venom sound. The 80s metal chug does return on "Hardship of the Scots" and sounds l;like the riff could have come right from a Accept riff, until the vocals come in and the guitar take on a frosty sounds that is more the hard ship of the Celtics.There is a more triumphant gallop that the song progresses into. The title track captures the hypnotic drone of their earlier , but with out the blast beats  It's almost more sludge like.

"Alp Man" has more of the classic metal chug. The snarl mumbles of the vocal give it more menace. Midway the song drops down into a more doom like pace as the riff lurches around the drums. The pick up the pace for "Duke of Gloat". There is a Mercyful Fate like riffs that creeps in . but the rule is  coo riffs alone do not a good song make. This is not a bad one I am just not feeling as much as the others. They continue to have a great deal of drive on " the Key is in the Wall"  , but shift tempos . Comparing this to "the Cult is Alive" , which is more fair than "Transylvanian Hunger" the vocals are set back further so don't seem as aggressive. The guitar is bigger. They have a great guitar sound here, so that is not a complaint , but an observation. 

This album is not their best, but it is pretty solid. The vocals of course the weak, point, but they have never been their strength. I am glad they are moving in a darker more menacing direction. I think fans of the band will find it easy to embrace if they have not been pretending they like the first few albums on vinyl

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Batushka :" HospodI"






There is some Dram with this Polish band and who is the real version. It seems that is best answered by considering this album was released on Metal Blade, so it's whomever the label's lawyers said was the band when they signed the papers to release this album, End of story moving on. perhaps not the most blasting cvlt of black metal metal, though there is a fair amount of it. These guys are creating something with a creepy darkness . The less full speed ahead and more creepiness the better. As the second song which works more off speed snarls like every one else. When the blasting does subside on the second song things get interesting. Granted this is midway into the song and I would prefer just getting to what makes this work rather than blasting for the sake of blasting. There is a ritualistic feel to some of the atmosphere, but not sure I can say this is orthodox black metal . The third song is denser and darker. The guitar sound is crushing ly heavy. They keep things at more deliberate pace and are heavier in so doing.

Four songs in it is evident they are fighting the need to validate themselves as being black metal, by the blast beats thrown in when double bass is clearly the strong suit of the drummer.  Even these section do not ruin the songs as they are adept song writing with winding passages of guitar.I prefer the darker pulse to the fifth song. The vocals are sung , but in a chanted fashion. for these guys it is seeking to find  a balance and using some restraint ot not fly into blast as then they begin to sound like everyone else.Their is a big guitar sound and the drums are thundering so it is recorded with better production value than your average black metal band. Might thought do not change song in regards to what works best, if it's a speed fest then they are not playing to their strengths.

The last song uses more restraint. I begin to notice the nasty snarl of the vocals  is just a layer and doesn't contribute as much as the low sung vocal that give a darker tone to the album. I will give this album a 7.5. It starts strong and creates a great mood that is then blasted out of the water as the album progressed and they give into their more primal urges.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

VR SEX : " Human Traffic Jam"







This California band's album opens with something closer to death rock, with ghoulishly crooned vocals and almost new wave guitars. Things to do not end their so don't be quick to label their sound. "Down Grade" has a lo fi drum machine and reverb jangle of guitars. The vocals take on a more matter of fact post-punk delivery and the begin to sound more like A Place to Bury Strangers. There is more melody to "Sacred Limousine". The vocals are almost more punk. Somewhat spoken but with a great deal of attitude. This is a pretty garage like recording , but it works with what they are doing. Their lyrics are pretty interesting. Some bleak social commentary not unlike Sonic Youth.

I really like the darker drive that propels "Maiden China". The chorus is a little under stated, but over all the song works. It is almost like a more punk version of She Wants Revenge. After this song there is a great deal of experimental noise filled with weird samples. A beat bubbles out of one such sonic landscape.   Sometimes these are more like interludes though on "Cheek Detritus". "Facts Without Faces" finds them embarking back upon a more low fi dark wave with half the melodrama. The vocals are more sung and less Joy Division..   .

The album ends with more atmosphere it reminds me of bands like the Butthole surfers from the 90s, where swathes of that sort of thing connected the album, back when people listened to albums all the way through. I will give this album and 8 and keep an ear out for what these guys do in the future it doesn't need much fine tuning and certainly heading in the right direction already. It came out on Dias Records

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Gaahl's Wyrd : " GastiR - Ghosts Invited"







In days where supposed fans of black metal and even other black metal musicians of lesser quality are calling into question church burnings, black metal needs someone who will stick to their guns  in the face of not being safe or politically correct. Black metal saw a spike in hipster interest a few years back, which has now waned. People who once thought Norwegian black metal was the coolest are not sided with safe politics and becoming puritans since they can not understand other countries govern themselves in ways not like america and only America wants to be America. Gaahl is true as fuck and been very vocal in his support of church burning , thinking there should be more of them. He is an iconoclast.  He is not settling with mediocrity or sounding like every one else. I am surprised how progressive this album is . This is balanced out with darkness. The first song is almost more sung, or spoken in a Gollum like voice. They are not just hitting you with blast beasts , but dissonance , creepiness and haunting melodies.

There are blast beats on "Ghosts Invited' but they take you on an  immersive journey with more thrashing section and some groove with Gaahl using more sun baritone vocals to off set the din. They slow down into a more elegant and melodic pulse with " Carving the Voices". If this is hurting your feeling because it doesn't sound just like Gorgoroth, well go listen to Gorgoroth, cause I am digging this . Yes he is singing more, but I imagine if he was just rehashing what he did in Gorgoroth, he would bore himself to death. Sonically this has more in common with Emperor than Gorgoroth.  The drumming is very tasteful and solid I like this guy's double bass work. There is a balance is the albums pacing. I t would be too easy for them to just play up tempo songs . The varied time \
signatures make when they do go into blast beats more effective as they have not numbed you to them.  "Veiztu Hive' begins into fall into a more typical black metal pace, but then they use restraint and pull back . Creating more powerful riffs in so doing. Even some folk metal like melodies creep in as the song crescendos.

More blast beats explode out of " The Speech and the Self". There is still melody in this aggressive buzz. Gaahl doesn't come in screaming . When it goes into more of a sweeping gallop, his vocals remind me more of My Dying Bride. One of the albums more overtly aggressive moments comes by way of " Through and Past and Past" . It gives Gorgoroth fans what they have been waiting for. They so not sacrifice song writing to achieve this . The song has both groove and hooky riffs.The album ends with " Within the Voice of Existence" which for the first 3 minutes is just dark and droning like an interlude from a Type O negative song. I will round this up to a 10, I could leave it one and listen to it on endless repeat so that says something. More than most black metal albums so far this year.Out on Season of Mist

Hey Colossus : " Four Bibles"





This one starts off with a heavier thump that is more in line with Failure's harder efforts. Then things take on a more indie rock feel and these guys begin to have more in common with Interpol than Failure. The vocals are less indifferent than this other wise stiff and tense form of post punk. I like the more Police like guitar tone going into "It's a Low". The riff is very taunt and the vocals are more light hearted. It winds into an interesting progression where it breaks down into a piano part.  "Decompression" just plods along a bass line never feeling like a song. The return to more of a the tense indie rock that works for them on "Carcass" . The vocals are melodic yet indifferent.

There is a more languid yet down trodden mood to the more surreal "the Golden Bough" .  I guess if it is inspired by the book then it is fitting.  It atmospheric in almost a Janes Addiction manner. "Palm Hex" is a more driving fuzzed out almost psychedelic brand of post -punk. The vocals take on more of a Iggy Pop cadence. There is also a noise rock recklessness in play so this song is interesting due to all the direction it goes in at once. The bass takes on a key role as the glue holding the groove of " Babes of the Plague " together. This song also takes on a more fuzzed out sonic sprawl that sounds more like stoner desert rock.

The album ends wit ha more slinking groove that I like as it's darker. The reverb of the guitar adds to the shadows here. The vocals are pretty much the same sardonic croon that we have gotten through out this album, less on the Iggy Side. When they all lock in to give more pounding accents the results are something pretty heavy without being metal. The feed back of the last two minutes could have been edited down. I will give this album a 9 and see how it grows on me . So far I have enjoyed listening to it .  

The National : "I Am Easy To Find"




Their last album was a disappointment, but I am up for giving these guys a shot because they have made some great music in the past. The first song is up beat and electronic, though the vocals a thoughtful and it feel more congruent with who they are They glum mood of this album so far connect with where I am so I am glad these guys are back to being depressed, they were too manic on the last album. The baritone vocals are well produced much more like "Trouble Will Find Me".
 'Roman Holiday" has the vocals taking on a more Leonard Cohen feel, while that has always been an element, but it is more pronounced when t he instrumentation is more minimal.  I prefer songs like "Oblivions" where they are recreating the sounds I fell in love with on their 2013 album. Things are still different there are great deal of female vocals layering these songs. French folk singer Mina Tindle sings on this one, but the guest list of female singers on this album also include former David Bowie bassist Gail Anne Dorsey,   Lisa Hannigan, Sharon Van Etten, and Kate Stables.

There is a great deal of experimentation, that almost falls into Radiohead like sonic weirdness on "the Pull of You". At times this one goes on into passages that are more like jazzy Sonic Youth. The ambitious scope of what they are going for here is pretty impressive. "Hey Rosey" is a good song, but I am not sure if it's a good song for the National even if they wrote it. It is getting cluttered with all the varied vocalists taking away from Matt's more intimate performances. The same could be said of the title track, if they just let him sing these songs I think it would have been better, good songs with too many cooks on the microphone.  This has become an album of duets. There are cool guitar sounds, but the fact Matt's vocals are buried and there is so much going on detracts from it.

"Not in Kansas" starts off with just his voice and an almost country guitar sound. This stripped down arrangement is what the album needed. Midway into the song other elements come in , but there is more of a balance. "So Far So Fast" stars off with "Lisa Hannigan, so it doesn't feel like a National song. So atmospheric it is almost not a song at all.  "Dust Swirls in Strange Light" finds the band once again getting off on the more pretentious foot with a choir. That is what this albums needs less of. I am fine with Matt  layering his own voice to create harmonies and would take much more like "Hairpin Turns" .  The female vocals are back with "Rylan" but there is a better balance and it still sounds like the National. I will round this one down to an 8. It is a much better step in the right direction, and while the album sounds great and these guys are wonderful song writers it just did not feel like they wrote these songs for themselves.


Emil Bulls : " Mixtape"





I have always been a sucker for the "Pop Goes Punk" series of album. I like well done pop music , but more often than not prefer the harder edged re-imagining of those songs. This German band has taken upon themselves to so a similar venture. It opens with a cover of Destiny Child's "Survivor". These guys are more of a commercial hard rock like Bring the Horizon in the late 90s they are are on the more Disturbed side of nu-metal. The singer can get a clean tone, but his normal singing  voice, while still sung has a little bit of grit on it. In some ways they are a little like Blue October. On their cover of "Mr Brightside " he really nails the vocal in way that comes really close to the Killer's singer. On song's like Taylor Dane's "Tell it to my Heart"  it does  not feel as inspired.

Some songs like "Grenade" I have never heard the original, but from the vocal phrasing figured out it was Burno Mars. Yeah, I like pop music , but don't listen to the radio so things like Bruno Mars that are not the kind of pop I like fall between the cracks, the only song of his I know are from the Pop Goes Punk albums. Another song that it took the phrasing to figure out was "River" by Emenim. He manage to  pull off the rapped verse with a great deal of precision. When it comes to songs I am more invested in like Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell" I am going to be listening with a more critical ear, and think h needs to croon more.  "Duke" is my cut off point for Genesis so I missed "Jesus He Knows Me"> I am not sure if covering a Genesis song when your band is leaning in a Disturbed direction is the best idea , but they make the most of it.

I have heard of Billie Ellish , but never heard her music, so "You Should See Me in a Crown" is new to me. It's ok, typical revamped nu-metal for 2019. I do not know "Jungle Drum" either. Think I like the other song I did not know better. "We Built Built This City" is more faithful to the original than not, the main change is the chugged guitar tone. There is a more ballad like tone to their take on "Where is my Mind'. I might be most impressed with their cover of Placebos " Every You Every Me" . I know very little of MGMT but I like what they are doing on this song "Kids" . I will give this album an 8.5, not sure I would care for their original material.

Friday, May 24, 2019

TRISTENGRAV : " II - Nychavge"







Mixing punk with death rock is not new. Mixing black metal with punk is pretty much how the second wave came about. I have typically been a fan of black metal mixing with death rock as long as the right elements from both are used well. This band from Greece uses the more death rock trappings as atmospheric window dressing , but make their bed in metallic punk. The vocals are more of a black metal snarl. Yes there are blast beats , but as of the second song I am not tired of them. This trend doesn't change on "Tower of Silence". They keep raging ahead pretty hard. The guitar tone has some death rock like effects, but that is about it a far as that side of the equation goes. The could be Darkthrone during one of their more punked out black n roll moments. I do like this more than if the darker undertones were not there and this was another punk band trying to play black metal.

For a demo this sounds pretty much like an album. With all three genres , production is not the top priority.  There is a interlude of clean guitar before they go hurtling into the thrashing pace of "Pitch Black Catacombs". The press release for this mentioned Rozz Williams being an influence and I can't hear it, unless the mean the seconds of mumbling that was low in the mix. So it is obvious which genres I am rooting for. I want the most of death rock, then black metal with punk being the least of my concerns. I think regular readers will concurs this is no surprise based off my taste in music. The problem here is what I want most I am getting the least and they are teasing me with it.

Despite the lack of death rock., these guys are good at what they do. They need to quit teasing with the darkness, they way they merge punk and black metal works. This album sounds really good for a demo, I am interested in what the end result will be when they do decide to make an album. I will give this an 8 though I am not sure it will get much in the way of repeat listens from me . If you are into punk tinged black metal this is for you.

Boy Harsher : "Careful"






The first song is smoky dark wave with more of a hipster cool to it than being melodramatic flowery grave yard music from the 80s. There is a retro element , but it is more of a synth wave sound. Her vocals are in a low alto that is emotive and breathy. I like where she puts her voice on "Fate". The melodies are stronger and more defined than the song before this one. "LA" is more atmospheric and this lead the vocals to wander like a ghost looking for the chorus. "Come Closer" has more groove and the more droning nature of the vocals works pretty well over it.

Some of the song begin to run together until "Tears" which works off the winning formula for her where the vocal lock into the synth riven beats. Sure this is a winning formula for most cold wave / dark wave but since this project is prone to experimentation this is more crucial. Like pop these songs are very compact, stay under the five minute mark. There are some darker sounds on "Crush". Though these never materialize into an actual song. There is more of a new wave pulse to "Lost" . The bass line stays firmly planted in the 80s synth wave thing. But if you turned back the clock it could be the Thompson Twins just without the hooks. There is somewhat of a break down , but it never climaxes.

Th album ends with a atmosphere pieces of samples and noise , like the backdrop from something in Twin Peaks. I will give this album a 7. It never wowed me. There were some songs I like , but none that got stuck in my head and made me want to return to this album. If you are a millennial who missed out on this music the first time around , then you might be more impressed.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Deathspell Omega : " The Furnaces of Palingenesia"





This French metal band needs little introduction. Serious as heart attacks my favorite album from these guys is 2010's "Paracletus" . This one is not as angular of a ride , but the darkness and dissonance is there. The delivery puts them closer to Ulcerate than Emperor. There is a more straight forward chug to the dense heaviness of " Ad Arma, Ad Arma". The vocals have a snarl to them. It weight they hit you with feels more like death metal than black metal. The atmosphere is not their for black metal. There is more of an explosive thrashing on "Splinters From Your Mothers Spine"> The lyrics I can make out are pretty mean spirited. So I am glad they are making metal hate again. This is not the only time they lock into a strong chugging groove.  Truth be told I would rather hear this from them than blast beats.

They do build up more of a chaotic momentum on this one. They are wise to back off and let the darkness simmer with " 1523" . It is beautifully creepy. The songs are pretty compact. They do not waste time droning. Most are under 5 minutes. The formula for the dynamics seems to be swirling shadows of chaos then lock into the chug. It works . "Standing on the Work of  Slaves" reminds me of old Samael. What strikes me the most are the songs where it is clear they have their own identity and are not content just wallowing in the same old writhing pulse most blackened death metal seems to carry. "Renegade Ashes" does have more of a black metal feel. The drumming is pretty crazy, but when you are this kind of band it has to be. Sung vocals float out of the craziness.

When they get overzealous and focused on heaviness for the sake of heaviness or jerk you around int too spastic of a manner they are not playing to their strengths , but even in these momentum the sound and the musicianship tend to make up for it. I think this album is more accessible to a wider metal audience. Not a mainstream one. There is a looser feel to the slower "You Can Not Even Find the Ruins" , which not only does the title sound like an HP Lovecraft story, but the music does as well. I will round this up to a 9, as the pervading darkness pushes it over the edge. 




9.8

Morrissey : "California Son"






"Pin Ups" was Bowie's cover album, so while it can be a gimmick they can also be well done. Morrissey does most things with creative grace, though in recent years a few songs have been a hiccup here and there. This album is graceful. He is a lover of music and the only surprise here is the fact he doesn't do a New York Dolls song. Since Jobriath was the first rock singer to die of AIDS, I can understand why he covered him. I think Jobriath was trying to be David Bowie with a fraction of the talent so Moz takes the song and makes it better than the original.  Joni Mitchells uses such distinctive intervals when she sings it is apparent this is her song from the phrasing alone which he nails. The album's only hiccup is the Bob Dylan song "Only A Pawn in Their Game". Lyrically it shits on the accusations of Morrissey being racist, but the idiots using these allegations as their defense of Morrissey not agreeing with them don't do things like really check their facts. Political statements aside , Bob Dylan is really a waste of Morrissey's vocal prowess.

I had to go listen to the original because "Suffer the Little Children" was not a folk song I was familiar with and Morrissey's arrangement reminds me of Dolly Parton's " 9 to 5:" The original is more folk than Dolly Parton. The first time I heard Phil Ochs I thought I bet Morrissey was influenced by this guy. So I am glad he covered one of his songs. When it comes to a Morrissey album what I am most concerned about is his voice. The last couple of albums felt like there were moments where perhaps age was catching up with him, This is dispelled on "It's Over". Roy Orbison is no joke. Morrissety gets up there and hits all the notes with conviction I have not heard from him in some time, so it is great to hear him in true form. "Wedding Bell Blues" is a little upbeat for Moz and sound more like Burt Bacharach. He goes up into a falsetto here. Billie Joe Armstrong's backing vocals are pretty pointless.

There is a similar summer time stroll in New York feel to his version of Dionne Warwick's "Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets".  His voice is really strong on "Lady Willpower" it has the resonance I want from his croon. The horn section on this makes me think of Neil Diamond and now I want to hear him cover a Neil Diamond song. Like Elvis when he covers someone else's song he makes it his. Even so Carly Simon's "When You Close Your Eyes" is an odd choice that he makes work well for him. "Lenny's Tune" has an intimacy that recalls his days with the Smiths.The album ends with the sedate yet steamy ballad " Some Say I Got Devil" .  I think the strength of the vocal performances on this album are enough for me to round this up to a 10. Obviously if you are a egular reader you know I am a huge Morrissey fan, that does not mean I am going to just give him a free pass, in fact the bar is raised higher and he pretty much comes back in full force and nails better than he has since perhaps "Ringleader of the Tormentors".

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the Meads of Asphodel : "Running Out of Time Doing Nothing"






It opens with a darker more industrial sound. This is a big change but I am fine with it. This is almost like Sigh in the sense each song is dramatically different. There is still a darker mood over this with some more Coil like vocals. This is less pounding and the guitars sit kind of weirdly in the mix. I would not say this is black metal any more, thought there are elements of it in places, but blast beats alone don't make something black metal. I think this is a positive thing as it means they have outgrown the genre. The songs do  wind around and has a dynamic range dipping into some more folk interludes. The title track reminds of of if Emperor were a prog band instead of black metal.

Things get even weird on "Black is Black White is White" which include jazz and rock elements thrown against metal.  The more straight forward metal moments are not as interesting though by no means dull and more often than not finding their way to at the very least atmosphere of progressive interludes. The guitar playing that is clean toned seemed to be very nuanced. The guitar solos are color by number though. The big rock drum flourishes are better than the balls out black metal ones. Things go into a weird eletronic direction that reminds me a little of Madness..yes the ska ban on the song "I Stood Tiptoe Reaching up For Heaven"

Siouxsie like female vocals surface for "Like Bloodshaped Flake of Snow" . This is straight forward, but the shift of the vocals works really well.  Thiis is not the only straight forward metal song that works there are a couple and when they do it is because the vocal melodies are strong enough to carry it. I am always going to prefer the moments that are sonically more heavy than metal an hopefully dark, which is what happens on "Funeral Drums of Insomnias Labyrinth. Though this song does tend to work off a drone more often than not. The more jazz inflected tones return on "Recollections of a Hand Loom Weaver".   This song flows with a graceful sense of dynamics that is not devoid of groove. "Souvenir of Death" has more of a death metal vibe at first , then it shifts into something that reminds me more of Samael. The lyrics are some of the best. There are references to angels masturbating over the dead.

I will give this one a 9, it might be their best album yet, because it is one of their darkest. Sometimes change can be for the better than his is a good example why. If you are looking for folk tinged black metal, this might not be it any more , but what you are getting is better than what they used to be. They are officially crossed over into progressive metal with out coming at it from the over wanking end. This album comes out June 21st.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Aseethe : " Throes"





This band is not at all like my idea of them was. For some reason in my head I thought they were an indie rock band. Perhaps there was a local indie rock band of the same name. These guys are from Iowa. Yes the home of Slipknot. They are tuned low, but nothing like Slipknot. Instead they play a throbbing  version of sludge. Like some bands who are very heavy, the first song kind of stuns you. Their brand of heaviness is one with great sonic weight. Doom paced, but for future reference they offer a good lesson in the difference between doom and sludge if you were having confusion in telling the two genres apart. There is not a dark sorrowful creepiness to what these guys do. Nor do they really owe that great of a deal to Black Sabbath, they may or may not smoke weed, but do not drive Camaros.

This is not to say they follow the text book doom formula. Other elements make themselves known on "No Realm". This is also my favorite song on this album thus far, because it doesn't play it safe and they break way from the pack to do their own thing. As one who reviews albums sub-genres are neat ways of me filing bands into organized systems  of sound. Some bands make soup and throw varied shades of heavy into the mix, the grind core/ death metal hybrids more recently find this to be a thing. They do drone. But I would not say they are drone metal. 'Suffocating Burden" where the most white noise like drone comes from, is more of an interlude than a song. Since to be a song there must be notes , melodies and rhythms grouped together. When they begin to really break the rules on "No Realm" the vocals have more of a punk snarl to them.

The album ends with the oppressive "Our Worth is the New Measure"  The band claims this album is an expression of anger. If so it is tempered with a great deal of brooding here. They lumber with power , but never launch an all out attack. Overall this is an interesting listen . I like how they defy the conventions of sludge . This sounds great, there are songs and not just drone. I will round this up to a 9.


Saint Vitus : 's/t"








Going into this album came the difficult realization that this was their first singer Scott Reagers and not Wino. As "Born to Late' as what  I think of as their high water mark, this has a more hippie vibe to it like Pentagram rather than the more disturbed plea of Wino's voice. The opener feel more rock n roll without him and lacks the personality Wino brought to their sound. It takes one song for me to get over this and then accept the fact it is Reagers on the microphone so that is what we are working with here.  The first hint of doom comes on the second song. Still there is more of a proto metal feel to it. "City Park" is an interlude not a song. But when they kick back in things do get darker on "Last Breath"  . The vocals are lowers and more grit behind them.

The minute and a half of the punk rock that is "Useless" really is out of character for these guys. When do get back to something doomy on "Remains". It also has a more jammy feel, which with this kinda of thing I am fine with.  They launch into something more up tempo , but not as out of character as "Useless" with "Bllodshed" .  "12 Year in the Tomb" reminds me of Celtic Frost at times . It's speed up doom with the minor notes still intact.  Not the best song on the album, but it could be worse .

If you are fine with this band being without Wino and prefer their original singer then go ahead and give this album an 8. I don't think I personally will get much in the way of repeat listens though the spins I gave it did find it growing on me. This review is obviously short and sweet , because with or without Wino what you see is what you get aside from the odd interludes and the turn to punk they stay true to who they are most of the time which is very straight forward like they are the Motorhead of doom. This was released on Season of Mist

Paladin : "Ascension"





This "power metal"  band from Atlanta features on of the live guitarists from Arsis. There is a dominant thrash influence so they sound more like Helloween than say Iron Maiden. There is a little more hook in the riff to "Divine Providence". The vocals trade off from a harsher tone to the more power metal like yodelling. The songs do run together . Some are faster than others , but I find myself frequently having to refer back to the iTunes window so see what song we are on. The formula begins to become harsh vocals on the verse . Sung vocals on the chorus. They often opt for rapid speed with gratuitous double bass. Some times this comes across more like Anthrax than power metal. Some songs find the vocals taking a lower turn into  more of a death metal growl. If you are really into guitar solos then you will love this album as they pop up with no rhyme or reason other than to wank everywhere.

If you already grew up with bands like Flotsam & Jetsam or Sanctuary, then you have heard a great deal of this before. Though these guys are not as dark as either of those bands and are more interested in guitar harmonies. The need for speed begins to really make all of these songs sound the same by the time we get to "Black Omen". After taking a break from this album and coming back to it I find it less tedious. They pull from all the thrash and power metal tropes with little shame. A little over ten years ago we had another wave of this sort of thing with bands like 3 Inches of Blood who they are a great deal less gritty than, making a comparison to the band Cellador from Colorado a much more accurate representation to the sonic zip code these guys are content to shred in.

Are these guys skilled musicians ? Yes. Are they skilled songwriters ...well, if recycling stereotypes is your thing perhaps you will believe they are.  The deeper into this album I get the more my tolerance lowers, now I can only take 3 songs at a time. Dynamics are essential. Just think if every song Iron Maiden wrote was "Aces High".   What makes "Powerslave" great is while it is one of their more uptempo albums there is still a range of dynamics. Here we get barrages of double bass, though "Shoot For the Sun" is their version of "The Trooper" , just not as infectious .  The meat in the chug of "Vagrant" makes it more tolerable. Then it's back to thrash with "Dawn Of Rebirth" You probably guess that this is not dark enough for me, but power metal tends not to be , while thrash has more potential. They are good at playing this kind of music just not offering much in the way of originality. If you have never heard anything like this before then you are just to young because we have been here done that and gotten the bullet belt already, I will round this down to a 6.5. Which is still pretty generous considering how I endured this album more than I enjoyed, so that score is for people into this kind of thing.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

3TEETH : "METAWAR"




This band has been building momentum so this is the album that is poised to break them out to a larger audience. This fact scared me as it could mean they would sell out and become a more commercial nu metal version of what they were doing. This first track is a relief to find they are leaning into the more electronic industrial side of what they do without becoming a big dumb metal band.  There is a darker industrial thump to "Exxxit". This is so far not too far removed from the same zip code as Marilyn Manson's more industrial tinged moments. They do have a bigger guitar sound than Manson. They don't just drone at you with the same hammering beat like a great deal of newer industrial bands who have taken inspiration from say Godflesh do. Since these gods sound nothing like Godflesh their more nuanced song writing fits.

Lyrically it's sex and politics all served up with a great deal of tormented discontent. The groove to "President X" is thick with pumped almost djenty guitar syncopation. The vocals on the chorus don't feel as locked in on this one, but overall the song still works well.  "Altaer" is darker with a creepy slink to the verses.  The formula does not feel as fresh on "Time Slave". "Bornless" works , but is less inspired than the previous songs/ It feels as if the filler is beginning to creep in. With "Surrender" they return to the elements that make their sound work with out feeling like they are recycling them. Though the chorus is not as strong as several we have heard previously. There seems to be a growing rock vibe as the guitars become a more dominate force on "Sell Your Face" .  There is less rock and more of a bass driven groove on "Blackout".

"The Fall" is more brooding. By this point I am not paying as much attention to the lyrics. What I was not expecting was a cover of Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks". This is also one of the album's best vocal performances. The album has a big production , that takes these songs to the next level. I think they achieved what they set out to do and did so with a great deal of grace. I will see how this grows on me and round it up to a 9.5 This album comes out on Century Media July 5th.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Rammstein : " s/t"






After 10 years these guys are back. No line up changes. Their sound is still intact, They have not changed with the times, but still feel fresh. Perhaps the only thing that different is some of the synth sounds. They are worked in a way that is very true to the band. The album opens with the first two singles from the band. They are both very catchy yet not pandering to a wider audience. Either you like what they do or you don't. They are too comfortable with themselves to give a fuck. "Zeig Dich" is more aggressive. It holds a dynamic tension to it's driving beat and thrash guitar. There is more of a techno thump to "Auslander" . It might be as darkly triumphant as the first few songs. The vocals always keep a militant grip to things, but this more upbeat.

They continue on a more upbeat vibe with "Sex". This time with a dose of arena rock. This really high lights how big the production of this album sounds. "Puppe" finds them using dynamics that make this song row darker as it progresses. It also deviates from their standard formula. "Was Ich Liebe"  works off a soaring chorus and enough of the reich n roll we need from these guys. "Dia Mant"is a ballad with  more nuance to the singing. The electronics become more dominant on " Weit Weg" which plays of the strength of their song writing and how they use familiar sounds with a fresh spin on them to reinvent their wheels.

 "Tattoo" works off of solid drumming and a more metallic intent. Their are some really good bass tones on the his album and the last song opens with one of them. IT doesn't  venture as far from the formula as some of the songs, but if it is not broken then why fix it. These guys do that without being and AC/ DC or Motorhead and recycling the same old same old. I will go ahead and round this up to a 10 as the songs that did not feel perfet to me are really just a matter of growing on me. These guys prove why they are at the top of the heap when it comes to industrial metal bands spawned from the 90s.

Looking Back In Anger at Fear Of God's "Toxic Voodoo"





This my be an odd introduction for you to this band. Since this column is where I call older albums into question to see how well they have held up, the idea of reviewing their first album   "Beyond the Veil" in that context seems pointless since there is no question that one is perfect.Their singer Dawn Crosby died and with her  Dawn Crosby these guys would have been another thrash band. This is the last album she made before she died.  When this came out I was unsure how I felt about this more straight metal and less of the layer guitar approach from the first album.  Her lyrics are so fucking raw and biting . They higher breathy scream is a little weird. I like how she uses effects and makes her voice more of an instrument. I have not heard this album in such a long time there are songs like "Cloud Chamber"  that I forgot about.  They pour on the speed like any other thrash band, I think they do a better job of  this on Swine". It just feels like the music is working with her voice better and the chorus is more pronounced.

The shift in speed is major change from the first album, so I listened for the moments that set them apart for other bands. They threw in things like samples and her lyrics were still more abstract and gritty. She killed herself so the angst was not an act. The entire middle of this album seems like they are just blazing with the double bass and not enough atmosphere. It is still darker than most so in the zip code of Dark Angel. They get more deliberate on "Feed Time". I am not as impressed with "Mercy" when I listen back to it as they are playing too fast for what works best with her voice .   When they give her the space she needs then they are playing to their strength as a band. It is possible she was too fucked up during the recording of this album allowing the rest of the band to have more control of the sound.

Even with the bursts of speed "Santismo" manages retain more o f their older sound and shows they can blend thrash with it. The last two songs are the album's strongest . "Will of Evil" has more groove to it. It is faster , but the vocals are locked in. "Worms" might be the album's best song and once again proves that they could have  made this thrash thing works with the over powering double bass as long as the focus was placed on her vocals.  I will round this up to an 8 because the problem is more in my perspective, as the songs that recall the first album are the ones I like the most and listening back it shows I was resistant to change.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Varaha : "A Passage For Lost Years"






The drummer from Nachtmystium plays with this Chicago band. After the first song I am baffled as to why they are being called a doom band. Is their a darker melancholy to their sound? Yes. But this feels more like a cross between Opeth and Agalloch. Both those bands had a darker tint to their sound at one point in time, ok Agalloch kept it til the end Opeth lost it ten years ago. "Midnight Calls" feels more like an orchestral interlude. "Climax & Exile" has a more Katatonia like sound. I feel the harsh vocals coming in when it picks up the pace is a cop out. In fact after some depressive atmosphere there is more of a Deafheaven sound to " My World And Yours".

After another melodic interlude they return with a more flowing attack of "Refrained". There are echos of post rock in the way the guitar melodies soar. The vocals come in more down trodden in their croon. They do switch over into the harsher scowling. One of this band's strengths despite what genre they fall into is their knack for always weaving melody in some where. This album is really full of atmospheric interludes. In fact half the album appears to be just that. The sprawling atmosphere of " A Passage for Lost Years" extended even into the last song "Irreparable" . To the point that it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. The sounds are pretty pleasing to the years so the fact it runs together is not the greatest offense. 

I will give this album an 8. I like, it is just similar to things I already listen to so unlikely something that I would listen to  a helluva lot. Still I am interested to keep an ear out for these guys. This is moody symphonic black gaze that has more of a sense of melody than their peers.



Lost Crowns : " Every Night Something Happens"






This album came out in January, so I would say it slipped under my radar, but since I am rarely looking for prog there was no reason for it to crop up. I like prog, o I am open to new prog the problem is it either sounds like Porcupine Tree or is busy noodling power metal with Journey like vocals. And rarely ever dark enough. So I am content with my King Crimson and old Genesis albums. This band pulls from that time period, This sounds like it could have come out in the 70. There is a very angular labyrinth melody to the opener. The bass hold most of the grit. There no metallic elements in play. While it is not dark there are some shades of gray coloring it and I would not say it is happy.

There is a less angular and more introspective mood to "Lost Crowns" . They get back to the more angular progressive sound on "Sound as Color" . The lyrics are pretty interesting. The vocals are sung to fit in with the winding syncopation. He doesn't have the best voice, but it works with what they are doing. I might not have mentioned the odd instruments they also incorporate to create this weird symphony. They bring in bassoons, Clarinets, harmoniums and hand bells into the equation. The last two minutes of "Sound as Color" finds the bass leading them into a cool groove, but grooves are something that happens by chance here. Female vocals also crop up in this section of the song.

By "Midas Xray" the angular and atonal sound is a dissonance you now come to expect. There musicianship is impressive, it just seems like they are not progressing and we are getting theme we have already earlier in the album until a weird watery effect is placed over the vocals . An interesting melody does crop up, but it is less adventurous than the previous songs.  I prefer songs like with the more solemn mood like "She Saved Me" this doesn't have the noodling in circles feel that their music an take on. The vocals are more layered.These guys are very British, which might play into how they get the classic prog sound. "Sandy Doesn't Know" is not as focused as the other songs and is almost intangible.

They pull things back together on "Let Loving Her be Everything". It bounces around with a smooth dizziness.  You can hear the jazz influence on  the drummer here. The album ends with darker " Star of My Heart". It is a more abstract song with jazz like piano passages as it floats into ghostly realms. I will give this album a 9, it's pretty solid m not sure how many spins I will get out of it , but if you are a fan of progressive rock you need to give this a listen.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Bring Her : " s/t"


This duo claims to be sorrow wave. What that is might change depending on what song you are hearing from these guys..I like the more death rock meets dark wave more than when they default to a post punk sound on the second song. One the first song it seemed like her voice had potential and that goes untapped on the second song. Things don't improve on "Arms in the Circle" , I get that using a drum machine limits your options as to where you can take your songs, but I like what they did on the first song so that is all I am measuring them against. What I already know they are capable of.  "Choose Me Move Me" works off of a similar pulse. It begins to fade in the background a little so it's not until they divert into more of an interlude that I notice a turn in where the songs are going as they began to sound the same.

The beat changes for "Flesh in Line". It is denser and mixed well against the almost My Bloody Valentine waver of the guitars. The vocals are still moaned in a chant they just have a more ghostly feel to them. This once again shows they are capable of writing a good song. They do not compromise the weird darkness of their sound by doing this. I like the dreamy quality the vocals take on. They kept the momentum on "Eleventh Hour" . The guitar tone works really well on this one.  "Unholy Awake" is a little darker and has movement to it, but I am not sure it is as strong of as song as the two before it/

It closes with "Osiris Temple" which pretty much safely revisits the sounds and theme they dipped into earlier in the album . Overall I think this due has potential. There are some strong songs. I will give this one a 7, I have a great deal of music that fits this bill already, I guess I was hoping for something more death rock.


Idle Hands : " Mana"








I am a sucker for goth being mixed with metal. The times when this is well done is dwarfed by the times it is actually a Hot Topic haunted cheese fest.  Really the lyrics are the only over cheesed part. The guitars are the most metallic thing going here. If this had been replaced by a more death rock approach these guys would sound more like Bellicose Minds. I like the more melodic tension of "Jackie" even though it's not as metal. I am willing to compromise heavy for a good song.With "Don't Waste Your Time" I can hear how  AFI is another point of reference.  The baritone vocals are well done. I am interested to see if this guy is a one trick pony or not. The quick growls or attempt at grit are not his strong suit. In fact it's the only part of their sound that comes across somewhat amateur.  The metal guitar solo is pretty on point.

The guitarist is clearly the metal head of this band. There is almost an old Ozzy feel to the riff going into " Give Me to the Night". This is not the strongest chorus on the album.   I can hear where people  might feel riffs like these have this band leaning in a power metal direction. I think the fact the vocals are no operatic keep it from going there. "Blade and the Will" finds them doing this juggling act between horror punk like goth and old school metal. "Dragon Why do You Cry" is an odd power ballad, but it works. I think the lyrics to this song are less silly than some of the others we have already at this point in the album. We begin hear him to reach out of his chest register.

"Double Negative" finds the pace picking back up. There is some interesting syncopation on the verse.  It almost sounds like one of Queensryche's darker moments.  The power ballads keep coming with some stronger than others. There are  moments somewhere between the two like " A Single Solemn Rose". It's more uptempo, think the Police. The title track is a little more metal, though this album does back off a great deal in the second half. It does wind it's way around to a solid groove.  I will round this one up to a 9. Lyrics aside it hits more often than not. I think all the elements of the two primary styles meet in middle.

Combichrist : " One Fire"









8 albums and 15 years later this project has been through some changes. By now things are more polished. In fact the opener is an improvement. There is more groove and the more metallic elements gel better. When he goes into his lower more spoken voice, it is enough for me to break up his other wise monochromatic yell. On the second when they go for a more abrasive heaviness, it doesn't work as well until the chorus. The guitars are very staccato and militant. I think this album will appeal more to metal fans than the previous efforts. The lyrics are pretty cut and past average adolescent anger empowerment. There is a more electronic pulse to "Guns At Last Dawn" until it throws itself into more of a thrash attack. I think the more edm feel of "Lobotomy" feels more natural. I think this might be the second song I have heard that references drinking.

The title track splits the difference between their two sides. I say their like this project is not primarily Andy. Though he does have partners who help him realize this. "Bottle of Pain" sounds like if Tom Waits wrote a song with VNV Nation.It's interesting and I like it because it is something different for them and I think they need to take more risks like this.  "2045" is back to a more standard industrial sound. There is a spoken narrative that trades off against the screamed vocal.It's the songs like "Undersatnd" where the electronic and heavier elements come together and find a groove together than work the best for me. Then comes the cover of "California Uber Alles" . After allegations of ties to neo nazis cropped up against Andy on social media, lines like "I'll be the Fuhrer one day"  might be given a more sinister meeting.  Not one for witch hunts and  If forced between listening to an album by neo nazis or Christians, at least the nazi's would have a better fashion sense. But I'm not here to talk about politics of any form , so  moving on.

"Last Days Under the Sun" gets marginally darker which is enough to make me content. It has a decent groove to it. "the Other" is more of an outro due to the focus on the atmosphere rather than building off anything to have an actual verse of chorus. So I am going to give this album an 8, as it suceeds in what they set ouyt to do. I enjoyed what I heard when I listened to it perhaps more than their other albums. I am not likeluy to get much in the way of repeat listens t o it as I would probaly go with Frontline Assembly when I want to hear this sort of thing, and while they are better this go around, the vocals here would probaly grate on me over time. If you are into these guys I amsure this is what you are looking for. />



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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Sigils : " You Built The Altar, You Lit The Leaves "





Here is a band that almost defies description in the way they blend sounds from the genres that influence them... Almost defies. If you know music these can be pin pointed, while not taking away from what they are doing here. This band from New York has the detached surrealistic pulse that is shared by bands like Jesu. Ok, you know I always shoot straight with you, so let's face it the album cover even looks like a Jesu album cover, so they are a huge influence. Rather than offering a metallic aggression the vocals drift above it. They sung in a way that would not be out of place on  shoe gaze album. They are mildly more emotive than the indie rock indifference. The guitar carry a lumbering to them , but are also the prime architects of the album's atmosphere. This band has more in common with sludge than they do doom. The vocals are the only aspect of their sound that carries any sense of loss.

 The vocal get even more like Justin Broadrick on "Ritual". Jesu is one of my favorite bands so I am totally ok with some one trying to carry that torch. While this song works off of a dense pulse, it is done in a way that is no retreading the vibe of the first song, while holding a uniformity in sound.
"Faceless" starts off with a more depressive indie rock feel closer to Dinosaur Jr then builds it's dynamics as it swells into something with more heft and sonic intensity. The album ends with the 13 minute "the Wicked , the Cloaked". The vocals here carry more of a melody. The song is more melodic than the previous songs on the album with guitars no just providing a distorted throb, but adding melodies of their own.  Normally I don't like songs this long , but I don't begin to notice until we are nine and a half minutes into the song.  Thought the last two minutes of this song could have been trimmed off.

This goes to show that while I sometimes harp on bands wearing their influences on their sleeves , there is a way to do it. These guys hit every mark. They took their influences and added enough of their own spin so it doesn't feel like a tribute band, They have also not just captured a sound that many bands try to , but they care enough to write songs with it. I will give this album a 10 it falls more solidly on the shoe gaze side of doom gaze, and this is done with a great deal of grace making it a worthwhile listen for fans of either genre.



Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Hands of God : " Blue Print For Self Destruction"

The first song blends an early 90s style of cross over hard core, that was before the Myspace days put the emphasis on breakdowns. The vocals are shouted.There are lower death metal grunts as back ups. The lyrics are socio-political which is appropriate considering the genre. They are good at what they do. The thing about what they do is that it is not all that original as I have heard a 100 bands do this before 2001. The key is since not many bands are currently doing this it makes it more effective.

It is when we get into the meat of the album  with songs like "Sacrifice" and "245a" that things being to get somewhat weighted by the adherence to the more typical trapping of traditional hard core that give them a more uniform sound. "245A" At least benefits from a strong enough groove to inspire enough head nodding to make the conventions of the genre muted at least on the first couple of listens. These guys are as good as any of the Victory records bands, though the employ the metallic side of what they do as secondary factor to the street wise slam of the riffs.  "Ethnic Decay" makes even more use of the break down groove and gather momentum.

The strength of this band is the fact they don't get caught up in punk like bursts of speed. "W.M.D" . This song finds the anger more refined and dealt like a solid punch. I will round this down to a 8.5 ,as it is not the most original thing I have heard. I get that many or most of my readers are too young to have been around for the first time this kind of thing came about in thee late 80s so it might feel fresher to them than it does me. I do think this band nails the sound they are going for and does so with a great deal of conviction.



Bather : " s/t"





If we are getting picky about truth in advertising when it comes to sub-genres, I guess I like neo-crust more than crust in and of itself. This band is not pure crust as it is tempered with sludge.It does have a balance of raw attack and atmosphere guitars . This can create a creepy mood to provide a more bleak current to these songs. It is best realized on the opener so by the time we get to "Birds" it still is effective, it just has me hoping this is not the only secret weapon to their sonic arsenal. There is also more of a death metal feel that develops one you get further into the song. This death metal tones carries over to some extent into "All Dark Rooms" .

There is a commanding groove to "the Path". This sets straight what I have previous stated about extremely heavy music.It can often take your breath away when it first hits you with it's speed, density for feral nature. However this leaves more discerning listeners asking, ok that sounds good, but can you write a song. With these guys the answer is yes.  That is not to say this kind of nuance permeates all of their songs. They are sometimes content with just being heavy , but even on "Flesh Obsessor" there is till a touch of atmosphere , even if it finds them returning to a formula that has graced other songs. 

The last song "Leaves Like Bones" is also the longest, but this is justified as the song actually goes some where and does not drone any more than the opening minute o guitar leading into it. Even then it is still under 6 minutes. It is this song that the Neurosis influence is most pronounced, Some of that is the lower rasp of the vocals. It also moves at a more lumbering sludge. This is pretty powerful in the way they locked into the chug. I will give this album a 9, as it is very dense and heavy, well done with taste and attention to serving the songs. If you like crust or sludge this is worth checking out. I am not sure how much air play this will get for me but it is certainly one of the sludge album of note so far this year.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Playlist -London's Ozzy Mix



Since London has been getting into Ozzy , I decided to make her mix of Ozzy songs. These might not be the all time best Ozzy songs , so things like the song "Diary of Madman" and " Suicide Solution" are not included. But these are some of my favorite Ozzy songs, that are kind of a 101 into his more accessible fun songs, rather than the ones he wrote in a depressive drug binge, those are obviously the best song, but perhaps not for a 9.After all that what I listened to an we know the route I went. If you are not really familar with Ozzy's solo work then this is as good of a place as any to start, as I have pulled from a cross section from the 80s to more present.  

Devils Daughter



Let Me Hear You Scream



Breaking All the Rules




No More Tears



Over the Mountain


Waiting For Darkness


Ultimate Sin


Thunder Underground



Mr. Crowley

 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Intothecrypt : "Vakor"





This Russian band is technically folk metal it just so happens the metal side of the equation is death metal. So the big cinematic sound they conjure is in the same part of the woods as perhaps Moonsorrow, just with a less frosty viking feel. The title track is a little more upbeat and straightforward than the first two songs which are in a darker part of the forest. The are almost like a death metal Dead Can Dance on "Yavi Sya Merek" . Though after I typed that I realized that a death metal Dead Can Dance might be another way of  saying it reminds me of old Negura Bunget. Instead of really wallowing in the atmosphere the gutiar tend to chug ahead without stopping. When sung vocals come in they do so in a less than predictable fashion.

There are moments that are darker and more brooding. At the end of the day while I prefer dark, I will compromise it by a few degrees for songs that really grip me. They do a good job of employing melodic tension as needed. "Deko Po Markushe" opens with female vocal that work better than the bellowing grunt of the vocals. The folk elements begin to fade into the edges of the song as window dressing for mid tempo death metal. The song after this falls into a similar formula. "Dolne Videnie" falls in line with your more typical folk metal just without the power metal like silliness. It's broken up with atmosphere that kills the momentum in a way that when it kicks back in it feels like a new song.

There feels like more Irish vibe going into "Mga". It's mid tempo death metal once again though not following a hard and fast formula. The album ends with a song that is also the band's name. It has a darker pagan feeling to it. The death metal growls have officially gotten stale for me by the last song. The album begins to lose momentum towards the end , but overall it is pretty solid and is a good example of how folk metal doesn't have to sound like elf drinking songs. ,

Lust For Youth : "s/t"





This band has been heading  in this direction for some time. Their new album just finds them arriving. The production sure helps. The last album was more lo-fi. There is a canopy of lush shadows providing the atmosphere. This is a kind of new wave that falls somewhere between Gary Numan and the Faint. The song writing is hooky, so it is not just that they capture the retro vibe of new wave and married it to the kind of indie rock the Faint evolved from. The guitar takes a back seat to the synths, but it is still there. Sometimes it just has a more Depeche Mode feel. The vocals are robotically dead pan. The effects on the give the vintage Gary Numan feel. Trace of a post -punk past can be felt on "Great Concerns " .

While the songs are dancey, they did not set out to write dance songs. Your coolest hipster dance night, would be wise to have the dj spinning this. The female vocals on "Fifth Terrace" really help to switch things up. It gives a hazy feel to what the do as the mood becomes more introspective than the previous song. "Adrift" is more up beat. It still has the detached coolness that marks new wave. The vocal melody moves differently than the previous songs. He is not really throwing his voice around, it is more a matter of using more spirited phrashing. "Imola" is more of an atmospheric interlude than an actual song. It doesn't really attempt o be a song until the last minute and a half.

"By No Means" is however a real song with some thump to it. It almost feels like this song is written closes to a dance song, yet the vocals have the 80s new wave thing going on with them. It is one of the album's strongest songs.  I will give this album a 9 and see how it sits with me over time.  This album comes out June



N'Zwaa : "Maha Kali"



Here is a black metal comprised of chants of the infamous Indian goddess Kali. After an atmospheric opening bit, they blast into pretty dense black metal with some thrash influence to make it more interesting than just blast beats. While it's very heavy and impressive what I say about extreme metal is the first impact is impressive, but after the sting wears off you are faced with the question...but can they actually write a song. The answer is still a little vague on "Kali Gayatri" there are some galloping chugs to break things up and a hint of Morbid Angel influence, think "Altars of Madness" , but nothing that recall sets them apart from the herd aside from the overall concept of the Indian mythology rather than defaulting to more typical occult trappings.

These guys make better death metal than black metal and when they go that route on "Jaadoo se..." the results are much more powerful. The title track also leans more in a death metal direction.  It continues on with the more old school death metal feel. It might be best to in fact consider this band more blackened death metal as that is where there heart seems to be. It doesn't feel like the same darkness that black metal carries in the first place. The last song finds the vocals more scathing. Some of this is the rough filter put over them to give a rawer sound , The production shift on this song almost makes it feel like it was live. There is more of a the creeping darkness that feels like black metal here.

I will round this up to an 8 , as i think my expectations caused me to listen to this with a different set of ears. This is not to say that at some junctures they are no not sometimes confused as to what direction they truly want to go and split the difference with what ended up as the final product. The same could be said about bands like Vimur, who came around and have been more secure in their vision, so by the next album this band should do the same. As it stands this is still pretty impressive.


Institute : "Readjusting the Locks"





The first three songs all kind of sound the same. It has a garage punk sound, like if Iggy had been a less inspired vocalist. Iggy might not have had the best set of pipes even in his peak, but he knew where to put his voice, where this guy seems to be a one trick pony. "Roll Music' is more in the rock beginnings of early punk. While I normally prefer this era because it was more song focused , this seriously lacks dynamics and the guitar might attempt to hold the tension of these songs, but these songs are not holding my attention. Thankfully the bulk of these songs are under 3 minutes. They do not go anywhere that really even needs that long. There is "Sonic Reducer " like riff to " Can't See Nothin" . The vocals are so terrible they don't really give these songs much of a chance.

When the guitars slow down going into "Shangri la" it is clear they are attempting to write a song, but the vocals continue to work against the song. It sounds like disgruntled mumbling.  I think this is the first song on this album that works for me. There is almost a more Sonic Youth feel to their sound here. The next song that stands out to be is 'Dazzle Paint".  The tension on this song is more effective. The rest of the time they seem to be intent on a reckless ramble. Sometimes I can make out the lyrics better than others. This could be any drunk muttering into a microphone. It is not until "Deadlock" that I check back in. There is a strummed guitar that offers another sonic layer.

The vocals are so terrible that I will have to round this down to a 5. I appreciate the knod to old school early days of punk. They captured the rawness of that sound . What they did not do was really connect when it comes to song writing , but the vocals are largely to blame for this . I just reviewed the new Bad Religion yesterday and it was a clear case of how a punk singer cna try to sing and actually add value to the songs. Sadly the opposite happens here.