Album Reviews Shortlist (March 2015)

4

It was admittedly tough to decide who was going to take the top spot, but since Blast Off was released last year, I had to give it to the next best album, which was The Passion Of Our Souls. Some might not like the mixture of pop and cruel melodeath, but there are some absolute scathing sections on that album that drew my attention instantly. We also have that Blast Off record, which is fucking phenomenal in the world of death/thrash and prog, as well as a collaboration between Godhunter and Amigo The Devil which came out fucking brilliant. Just behind that we’ve got a memorable death metal release in the form of Cauldron Of Hate. Furthermore, there are still loads of solid records on the list this week, so be sure to check them all out. You have no excuse.

The Passion Of Our Souls - Soulmates

The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (2015 Spotlight)Now here’s an interesting mix of genres, as this EP has been labeled as Melodic Death/Pop Metal respectively… and to be honest, it took me by surprise on first listen. It’s a female fronted act with a harsh vocalist and a cleaner one, which sort of makes me think of a cross between a much darker version of Arch Enemy and Kittie or In This Moment. “Give Me Your Soul 3:33” is that one in particular which first caught my attention due to its rather brackish vocal approach which does fill with melody, albeit use a little too much metalcore influence in the background. But that’s okay, because that will sell and that seems to be what the band is going for. What I really like though, is the craziness coming from the frontwoman Julia, who sounds like she would grab a giant pair of scissors and run after the Butcher Babies as they struggled to keep their intestines from hitting the ground. This stuff can even get darker than Otep at their most twisted at times, yet I’ll admit that “What Tomorrow Brings 4:00” sounds so damn evil in the beginning that it almost upsets me when the riffs change to a happier state and the clean vocals come in. Clearly, this band could actually do without the clean vocals or the lighter elements. Just on vocal strengths alone, The Passion Of Our Souls has the ability to be a real game changer. Now I don’t know what in the hell Julia has gone through to make her sound so goddamned psychotic, but this vocal approach makes me smile with a morbid fascination. This is actually the project of a loving Finnish couple, but it certainly sounds a little darker than you might imagine and that’s why I love it so much. Definitely give this record a chance, because you just don’t hear music like it very often.

(4 Tracks, 18:00)

9/10

The Sorrows - Gonna Find A Cave

The Sorrows – Gonna Find A Cave (2015) – I was looking for a cave to listen to this one in, but I figured they were all full of bears so I decided against it. But that’s okay, because I’ll bet that the bears would even get down to this classic 70’s approach. At any rate, I’m sure they’ll be thankful to hear what real music sounded like back in the days when they ate tourists and rummaged through their vehicles in order to find vinyl’s to play on their record players. Because everyone knows that bears don’t just sit around. This is just that kind of groovy, get down kind of album that gets your feet tapping and your hands clapping, which means I’m all for it. You can be going through the roughest shit ever, but one listen of this and you’ll forget all about your problems for eight minutes. It’s nothing musically that I haven’t heard before in the vein of classic rock, but it’s the kind of catchy rock that brings you back to the days when rock had meaning. Maybe it’s just me getting older, but I find myself feeling really good after this one. Give it a listen, unless you think I’m too old. And yeah, I’m getting there. But that’s still no reason not to check out these three groovy tracks.

(3 tracks, 8:00)

8/10

Bloodscribe - Prologue To The Apocalypse

Bloodscribe – Prologue To The Apocalypse (2015) – This brutal death metal band is all made of burly Latin American dudes, which is something you don’t see very often here in the US. But it’s definitely not something to fuck with either. Track after track come off like severe anal torture and threaten to rip your intestines right out through your ass. It’s not that long of a release, but it’s got enough going for it in lieu of the crushing performance and garbage-mouthed vocal approach to make you respect and jam the living hell out of it with all of your other gore-infested death metal discs. Sometime it references black metal, sometimes a little bit of technicality comes into play and other times it plays with punk. But no matter what realms these guys are digging into, it all seems to come off like a rampaging wildebeest. So if you want your guts dug out of your asshole with a shovel, then check out this putrid monstrosity of a disc.

(10 Tracks, 25:00)

8/10

Drap - En Naturlig Dod

Drap – En Naturlig Dod (2015) – These crusty death grinders manage to do just that with this short release, which definitely consists of punk riffing a handful of solos and a wispy hardcore vocal edge. There are very few structural changes throughout the release, although it does occasionally happen and showcases a band with a notable amount of potential. Towards the latter part of the album they seem to show what they’re made of, but there are still a few things they could work on as well. If you’re looking for a rough performance that will knock you on your ass though, I think you’ll find this a pretty decent listen.

(11 Tracks, 26:00)

7/10

East Of The Wall - Cryptodira - Split

East Of The Wall/Cryptodira – 7″ Split (2015) – This split begins with an odd act by the name of Cryptodira who seek to mix melodic prog metal with a rather fragile sort of clean vocal and an odd backing scowl which seems a bit out of place. But their track “Speaking The Ocean 7:08” isn’t something I’ve ever heard before, even though I don’t technically care much for this particular fronting vocal style. The band seems to have that real artsy hipster kind of touch to their music, but there’s enough musical muscle in here to show that they can stand the test of time. Sometimes it goes a little too Dillinger, but there’s definitely something here in all the meandering that they unleash. It’s a seven minute track with a lot of ideas, but it may not be all of the way congealed just yet. If you’re a fan of extremely artsy modern progressive metalcore, then I think this will be right up your alley. The next act here is a band by the name of East Of The Wall, which comes off altogether different. Their track “River Man 6:36” actually seems a bit familiar to me and I could have sworn I’ve heard it somewhere before. I’m reminded a little bit of Puscifer in areas, yet I’m also hearing a sort of hard-tinged prog metal that sounds a little more mature than the later act, and there’s no real sign of core nuances either. I’m actually quite amazed by the melodic beauty I’ve beheld here and it definitely seems to be the superior cut on the split. In the end, both bands offer unique progressive metal performances and I think this is a worthy split even though it only features just one track for each act. I can say that I’m definitely looking forward to anything that East Of The Wall puts out in the future… that’s fucking brilliant. But both bands are definitely worth a listen.

(2 Tracks, 13:00)

7.5/10

Enemy Insects - Radical Discharge - Split

Enemy Insects/Radical Discharge – 12″ Split (2015) – We’ve got two rough and rowdy punk inspired thrash acts here, maybe you want to call it crust, maybe you want to call it grind. But I call it punk metal, because that seems an easier way to describe it. Besides, crust always reminds me of pie and pizza crust and never punk music. There’s a little bit of groove to be had with Enemy Insects taste of balls-out punk fury, with drums ablaze and a rabid, raspy scowl emanating from the frontman. It’s especially good to hear a couple of structural changes, but nothing worth writing home about. You know what kind of no-holds-barred fury you’re getting from this. The second act Radical Discharge is still inspired by punk, but they’re also inspired by classic heavy metal and most definitely classic thrash. You’ll hear that instantly from the start of their selection and it manages to deliver a rather powerful and overly more enjoyable listen for those who’ll prefer more of a classic approach to this genre. Powerful solo efforts are also utilized and those catch my attention instantly. These guys can definitely play and I think they’ve definitely got a future ahead of them. Both bands will appeal to the thrash and punk crowd, but I clearly would consider Radical Discharge’s taste of the eighties to be the winner of this one. You just can’t go wrong with the classics.

(8 Tracks, 18:00)

7/10

Gouge - Beyond Death

Gouge – Beyond Death (2015) – This two piece death metal project seem to want to keep it raw, fast and heavy, although it’s also a little amateurish as well. That being said, there’s still enough raw energy unleashed by these two to matter even though it does sort of sound like everything that the world of thrash and death metal have offered to us in the past. I will say that they manage to keep up with the best of them and some worthy solo efforts are offered. It’s a good start, but hopefully they’ll only get better as they go on.

(12 Tracks, 29:00)

6/10

Horisont – Break The Limit (2015) – Horisont seem to be a retro-inspired progressive rock act and Break The Limit shows what they’re capable of in it’s just eight minutes of playtime. The first track “Break The Limit 4:03” offers a rather catchy chorus and a potent vocal performance to back that up, while “Yellow Blues 4:04” brings out the keyboards and throws us right in the middle of an LSD trip. This is the kind of music that my mother would’ve loved to hear back in the seventies and I guess maybe since some of those same DNA strands are embedded in me, I dig it a bit as well. One of the best things about Horisont is their musical compositions, which explode into instrumental fury and totally dazzle my senses in a way that I just can’t describe here. I definitely can’t wait to hear more from this awesome act and I hope that they’ll deliver us a full-length album soon!

(2 Tracks, 8:00)

8/10

Sepulchral Curse - A Birth In Death

Sepulchral Curse – A Birth In Death (2015) – Sepulchral Curse play death metal, just in case you didn’t get that from the band’s moniker. (Even though it’s admittedly hard to tell by name alone.) They actually start the disc out with their namesake (3:24) which is a pummeler right out of the gate, complete with extremely fucking thick vocal gravel. pounding drums and a nice little melody and solo section right towards the end. Not too shabby. There’s even a guy hollering in the background somewhere. “Demonic Pestilence 4:18” continues the speedy onslaught, while “Infernal Pyres 4:13” lays down some melancholy in addition to some hefty leads, which almost place these guys in a quasi-melodic metal state. But that doesn’t matter because A Birth In Death has just enough substance to keep it from flowing stagnant and it amounts to a worthy death metal listen and shows a band that’s full of potential. Let’s just hope they bring even more of that deadly gusto to their next release. Still, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this one either.

(4 Tracks, 15:00)

8/10

Isabrut - Isabrut tape

Isabrut – Isabrut (Tape) (2015) – This black/death act certainly bring it right from the start with “Omen 4:12” and it’s tremolo to chugging death semblances, which transform completely into the more ritualistic atmospheres of “Roots 5:26” a track that still manages to employ barraging drums and some definite Enslaved influence. “Gateway 3:35” continues that feel, except without the ritualism and instead more of a knuckling down into those hard chugs and heavy grooves that the band seems to like so much. “Prophecy 4:34” delivers one last dose of that, but it also allows for a little bit of doom which definitely helps the performance. All in all, there’s a definite torch flickering here and I think this is only the beginning for Isabrut. Fans of Enslaved who wouldn’t mind that approach filled with more chugs, grooves and gravel might find just what they’re looking for here.

(4 Tracks, 17:00)

8/10

Malsanctum - Metamorbid Fetishization

Malsanctum – Metamorbid Fetishization (Tape) (2015) – This is just one song, and it’s quite raw and steamy, as you might expect. But this is much more than your average death in the dark as it also has some rather ceremonial sections, which involve chanting and Arabian rhythms. Later, it becomes complete drone. So there’s a real bevy of sounds to experience on this recording, which will hopefully get ported to a CD or Vinyl soon enough. There’s definitely something interesting about the music that Malsanctum makes and I believe that this little tape is only the beginning of what they’ll be able to offer in the future. These guys actually even make drone sound interesting. Chew on that, Sunn0.

(1 Track, 24:23)

8/10

Godhunter & Amigo The Devil - The Outer Dark EP

Godhunter & Amigo The Devil – The Outer Dark EP (2015) – This dark folk collaboration between these two acts actually sounds much better to me than the music that they make outside of this collaboration. Essentially, it’s melancholic and rather dark folk music. There’s a certain foreboding atmosphere in play here, that works in the form of subtle drumming and slight effects, which accompany the pale acoustics. The whole thing is fronted by a fragile, but passionate vocal approach and ultimately makes me yearn for even more material. To be brutally honest, I’d rather these guys just get together and form a band for this kind of music as I’d really love to hear it. Godhunter’s pretty decent from what I’ve observed and the same can be said about Amigo The Devil, but outside of those two realms, these guys perform some amazingly deep and haunting tunes. I really wish this was an LP release instead of a short one-off.

(2 Tracks, 8:00)

9/10

Tidalwave - Tidalwave EP

Tidalwave – Tidalwave EP (2015) – Tidalwave is a hard rock act with some definite promise from the start and I can tell that instantly. There’s just something about these guys that has the possibility to explode and hit rock stardom. They seem to mix post-rock elements into hard rock, which creates a forward-thinking style that reaches its peak in catchy, sing-along choruses and recallable lead melodies. It’s very radio-rock, but it’s definitely not something that I would have a problem with even though I’ll admit that this isn’t geared to me personally. The problem is, there are a lot of bands out there like this and it’s going to take a lot of hard work for them to get this familiar sound out there. Still, I think you’re going to be hearing them on modern rock stations in the next couple of years. They just seem to have what the labels are looking for and that’s just as noticeable. It’s definitely catchy as I’ve said, and it’ll definitely appeal to the mass gamut of rock listeners. If you like catchy hard rock with sing-along choruses, then this is going to be right up your alley.

(4 Tracks, 16:00)

7/10

Zoax - Is Everybody Listening

Zoax – Is Everybody Listening? (2015) – What a strange crew of gentlemen that make up this artsy metalcore act. It’s definitely got that indie vibe in addition to a sort of sing/scream that also throws in a fragile sort of clean vocal approach. I know for sure that some people will be turned off by these guys immediately, but I also know that there’s a big market for this kind of sound. The band utilizes a lot of thick grooves and light progressive passages, which sometimes delve into other realms but stay firmly planted within the artsy melodic metalcore territory. Zoax isn’t my kind of act, but I won’t deny that they’ve got talent and are more listenable than other acts in this genre. It still won’t sit right with some listeners, but it definitely showcases a band with promise and potential. It’s also got quite a bit of passion, emotion and fury. Give it a chance if you like the kind of progressive melodic metalcore from bands like Periphery, because I think you’re going to be really pleased with it as a whole. Once again, this is not my kind of stuff, but I’ll admit that it’s not half bad and worth a listen; especially for the new school of metal listeners.

(6 Tracks, 20:00)

6/10

Countless Skies - Countless Skies

Countless Skies – Countless Skies (2015) – Countless Skies are a melodic death metal band that got my ears twitching a bit and even though the production value isn’t necessary gleaming, there’s definitely enough here to count in the long run. Immediately you’re going to be reminded of current era Insomnium and you’re going to feel melodies that almost feel like that of stargaze, except that the band have enough structure and progression within their sound to keep the record from sounding all too much like their influences. A powerful clean vocal also breaks out, making pieces like opener “Ethereal 6:04” a little bit more interesting than that last Insomnium record was, that’s for sure. With “Penance 4:45” they’re really trying to add several different ideas into the mix and build texture as “Everlast 4:57” continues to show an act with some real greatness. I’m reminded a little of Amon Amarth here, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. The album ends with “Reverence 6:54” as it continues to show a far more promising act than we’d ever have expected from the beginning. “Ethereal” might have served to open it up, but the disc truly shines around its latter half and ultimately comes off as an album worth listening to. Yes, the production isn’t quite what it should be and normally I don’t mind that, but it seems to take away from the performance and hopefully they’ll be able to get a higher quality going for them on their next album, which at this rate is going to sparkle awesomely. There’s definitely something special about Countless Skies and I think we’ve merely cracked the surface of it.

(4 Tracks, 22:00)

8/10

Zex - Fight For Yourself

Zex – Fight For Yourself (2015) – Zex are an Australian female fronted classic punk act that are probably a bit more exciting to watch on the stage than on this recording, and you can tell that from just the few pictures I have here. Anyone who’s familiar with the Ramones or the Runaways will know exactly what I’m talking about here and it’s literally going to sound like a record recorded around that time. But it’s not, as the band are gearing up to tour several areas around their homeland as well as Malaysia, New Zealand and more this year. If you love the sound of old punk, then you’re absolutely going to love this. The frontwoman is definitely following in the footsteps of Joan Jett and I’m quite sure she’d love to hear this record, as it would remind her of those early days in a female punk act. There’s really nothing about this one that sounds bad to be honest, and I think that most fans of punk rock are really going to dig it. It’s good to see that punk’s not dead and Zex truly prove it here on this album. I’m not even that big of a fan of punk rock, but I can definitely get into this. Give it a listen, and if you can – go see them live. Looks to be a real blast!

(10 Tracks, 29:00)

8/10

A Life Of Torment - Fracture Conscious

A Life Of Torment – Fracture / Conscious (2015) – I’ve played this record about four or five times already, but that’s simply because I can’t remember it. It just slips through my mind, feels like a whole lot of breakdowns and a drunken gentleman on the vocals. There’s I guess there are some interesting leads here and there, but other than that it’s not all that memorable and feels a little awkward. Both songs seem to connect to each other and feel like very much the same track. It’s just not something that I feel I can really get into and wouldn’t recommend, albeit to major fans of the hardcore genre. An effort was made, there are elements of structure and I like that – but it’s just not an effort remembered.

(2 Tracks, 5:00)

5/10

Blast Off - World Of Lies

Blast Off – World Of Lies (2014) – With a name like Blast Off, I was expecting to hop aboard a rocket ship to the stars. But instead, I’m blasted off right into the fiery mouth of hell, with screaming guitars and harsh vocal rasps as my guide. I’d actually like to think of World Of Lies more like a roller coaster than a rocket, but the feeling seems truly mutual as they not only provide great thrash, but follow many ups and downs in terms of muscularity, which equals out to a memorable thrash EP from beginning to end. There are those Death-like progressive moments laden within these pieces that really manage to stick out and make the band mean something. I don’t know where in the hell Galicia is quite frankly, but I will tell you that this record is going to put it on the fucking map. It’s a little odd to compare these guys to Metallica, Anthrax and Testament, as I’m hearing more death/thrash influence from acts like The Crown in some instances, yet I’m hearing things (ala that Death reference) that put them in a completely different territory. All in all, not even the publicist can really pinpoint their sound and that’s a good sign for a band looking to break out for creating something rapidly different. Now I’ll admit that I’m hearing a lot of Exodus here, but that’s not a bad thing either, especially coupled with all the D.A.M. prog. Old fans of the Tower should recognize that reference, or I’ll eat their heads! But at any rate, this is definitely the sort of memorable little thrash effort that could, and it could greatly blow several other acts of the same genre and style out of the water. Trust me when I say that this is a truly impressive performance, and I’d definitely love to hear more. (Originally Released In 2014)

(4 Tracks, 17:00)

9/10

Cauldron Of Hate - Emperor

Cauldron Of Hate – Emperor (2015) – Cauldron Of Hate play death metal, and they seem to do a pretty reputable job of it on this latest release, which indeed contains a lot of firepower, bravado and might right from the start. They seem to want to go into slower realms on “Abyssal Ascension 9:11” which winds up sounding like Nile’s “Sarcophagus” but not nearly as memorable in the vocal approach. What they do have however, is a sense of texture and a tightly woven playing style that seems to capture what will surely be a recognizable act in the next couple of years, if not much sooner. Memorable melodies make up a huge section of this band and not the kind of melodic leads that you count rainbows to as these leads serve as death marches, whilst the drummer pounds the kit in a way that a man who’s done his time behind the kit for many years might do. He’s the kind of drummer that you’ll notice more than practically anything else, save for the guitar playing (of which I’ve already mentioned.) Emperor sounds like it was handcrafted by a group of gentlemen that know what good death metal is supposed to sound like and I’m sure that we’ll be getting more great material like this in the future. Though the album is short, the performance is strong enough to easily draw comparisons to all your favorite death metal fiends and you’ll be jamming it all of the way home on the very first listen. When you’re listening to a band called Cauldron Of Hate, you should expect death metal. But on Emperor, you should expect good death metal, especially. Definitely give this one a shot, it’s much better than some of the other death metal albums that I’ve heard on the list this week.

(5 Tracks, 27:00)

9/10

Swarth – Veneficivum 7″ (2015) – Swarth have released yet another EP release in the form of Veneficivum. Definitely treading along that “black metal version of Portal” realm, there’s definitely something to be said about the performance and admittedly it’s got a much higher quality production value which makes the monstrous groans, capable drumming and twisted riffs appear all that much clearer. There’s still quite a bit of fog and mist to be found here, but at least I can fucking discern it this time. The album is composed of just two sections “I 5:54” and “II 5:58.” The first section feels more like a groove/black metal than anything else, which actually sounds quite pleasant to my ears and really gets the head banging. I have no idea what in the hell is going on during the clean howls though, it seems to break the whole experience in half for me. The second part of the disc features tremolos so old that Varg is going to be knocking on the door asking for royalties. There’s an odd note to the drumming here, especially. The tremolo melodies and the constant pattering seem at odds with each other, even though I’ve heard Dark Fortress attempt this with “Osiris.” I liked it there, but it just seems kind of awkward here and it repeats itself to the point of boredom, which is never good. There’s only so many times that you can record a tremolo before the listener wonders why it needs to be played about six times in a row. At any rate, this is definitely a much better effort than the last time and it shows an artist willing to grow and evolve as long as he can move away from that 1996 mentality of black metal. It’s alright to keep the sound close to the genre’s roots, but there’s no real sense in the monotonous repetition and whatever in the hell he’s doing with that clean howling. I mean, that kills the whole goddamned performance for me. But it’s just a small EP and it gives the band a chance to experiment and feel around for the kind of sound they want to procure for a larger release.

(2 Tracks, 11:00)

7/10

4 Responses

  1. Chuck Rowland

    While I agree with most of what you say overall…it is evident that most reviews are hurried..and not really heartfelt. First impressions and then write..been there/ Before there were computers to hear things with, we (I) would go out to the country..with beer and weed and listen to albums while sitting in the back of my truck or van or car..with my dog..and really hear it all. It is different now I know..and easier to make prospective clients happy by a fast and easy internet based review. I just have to admit to old schoolers..it’s obvious when it’s a fast and effortless review. You seem to be in a hurry. Slow down man..don’t have to be first but should not sound generic.. I appreciate most of these..and did get it..when I compared the songs to your reviews. I love you man totally but let me add one thing..its hard to some when music is compared to other bands..they may never have heard of..it is NECESSARY to offer info to someone that has never heard of this genre..at all times. While comparing to band WE might know..most wont..for example..if I were to offer a review of say Opeth..and say it sounds like old Edge of sanity..who knows what EOS is? Only your fans? MUST offer descriptions that suit all that may read.

    Reply
    • Eric May

      You’re right, but I have to keep up with my ten a week limit. I’m going to try to pull three reviews a day throughout the week. I also have to add in reviews from the other writers and get them properly formatted now. But as far as the influences thing, a majority of people now should know most of these influences, so pick the most basic ones. The more popular acts that most people into this music would have heard of. If I can’t really think of anyone, then I’ll describe the sound. Like thundering doom, or something of that nature. Most people know what doom and classic doom are.

      Reply
    • Eric May

      Additionally, this is a shortlist. It’s just a simple descriptor of twenty five albums that are under thirty minutes or less. Future shortlists will be limited to five sentences per review.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *