Album Reviews Shortlist (October 2014)

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Twenty album shortlists are tough when you’ve got a day job. But I managed to get it done. Splits actually win the day, with Sheol/For and Kult Of Taurus/Erevos Aenaon being in the top spots. Unfortunately, not everything here is absolutely amazing; but perhaps some of it you will want to give a try regardless. Week 126.5 will be unleashed next week.

Sheol UK - FOR - Split 7

Sheol (UK)/FOR – Split 7″ (2014) – We have a slightly longer split next from two promising death metal acts. Sheol comes in first with bustling brutalism, as the drums continue to pound full speed as the thickest truckload of gravel that I’ve heard in this genre vomits forth from the demon they’ve summoned for this performance. Some catchy leads manage to deliver in and out of the piece, but for the most part is all about the drums, groove and gravel. There’s an intricate little solo in the piece as well, which makes things even better when the song slows to really pummel down on the listener. This song is so fucking promising that I wish there was more of it (and on the actual album, could you guys not fade out the solo? I would really like to hear that awesomeness all of the way through.)

For is an odd name for a band, but only if you’re a native English speaker like myself. For it means something else in its native language and showcases a slow atmospheric act that proves utterly threatening and vile. I feel like I’m being held in a dark smoky dungeon with concrete floors, where soldiers in thick plates of armor walk their rounds. There is a section where the drums really let off some steam, but for the most part it is a very droning, yet horrific experience that seems to deliver. I’m sure that many of you will be waiting for the full length, when it hopefully releases soon.

(2 Tracks, 14:00)

9/10

Afterbirth - Demo

Afterbirth – Demo (2014) – Afterbirth plays a type of progressive brutal death metal, not unlike Demilich. This four track EP shows the band full of fire, with drums hammering throughout most of the piece, as the guitars weave in and out with absurd selections of riffs that wouldn’t work well together in standard piece of music. It’s truly art, backed by a monstrous snarl that never seems to become too overbearing in the mix. As it mixes what some might consider “out of tune” melodies with several beautiful melodic lines, there is certainly something to be had here. It could still use some polish, but the instrumental versions of the tracks that come included with this demo really help to show the amount of precision and power that this record holds. Hopefully this Afterbirth will survive the oncoming Ebola epidemic that everyone has been panicking about lately and be able to release another album soon!

(4 Tracks, 15:00)

8/10

White Noise - The Herd

White Noise – The Herd (2014) – This is the 2nd EP from Israeli death metal/hardcore act, White Noise. “4 AM 3:19” mixes classic rock elements in with harsh vocals, which come off rather punchy and deliver even though they’re a bit rough. “Between The Lanes 3:15” brings more metalcore elements in it, sounding a bit Japanese which is weird, but that’s what I’m getting from the frontman. The vocals are all in English, so perhaps it could be the accent. At any rate, they throw a nice shot of stoner rock into the mix, before pounding down with a nu-core experiment called “Near Life Experience 3:27” which reminds me a little bit of American Head Charge and older Mastodon. All in all it’s not a bad experience and it’s worth giving a listen if you like more modern approaches to metal.

(3 Tracks, 10:00)

6/10

Gramar - Oskolki Veri

Gramar – Oskolki Veri (Pieces Of Faith) (2014) – This Russian alternative band is quite popular in their native and I can certainly see why. The glassy electronics and powerful melodies of album opener “No Forgiveness 3:23” manage to catch me right from the start, showing a few nice leads here and there from the band’s axeman. He does manage to do a good job with this material, even though it shows that he’s capable of far more complex work. By the time “Time Of Losses 3:23” comes in, I’m definitely getting a mid-era Paradise Lost vibe from the band. But that’s certainly not a bad thing as these guys manage to do it with musically even a bit more style and finesse than those that may have inspired them. Even a nice guitar solo manages to work its way though. “Wings Of Sadness 4:10” continues the mid-era Paradise Lost feel of the material, showing that these guys manage to do glassy synthed dark rock well and may have unearthed the country’s next grand export. “Lies 5:08” ends the record with much the same feel as the other tracks, except that this one evokes a little bit more thrash and some light groove elements. After listening to this one, I think that Gramar show some definite promise and I think people who are open-minded enough to check out Russian rock will find something intriguing here.

(4 Tracks, 17:00)

7.5/10

Vorzug - I Am In Hell single

Vorzug – I Am In Hell (2014 Single) – Coming from Arizona, these three old dudes (one even having a stint in Green Jelly) got together and formed a black/death band that really does sound classic. But to be honest, as I’ve been rolling through stuff like older Deceased lately; I think there’s a sound and style to the kind of death metal that you just don’t get anymore. It needs a little work still, but there’s a hefty growl and some rather ravenous riffs. I think that the drums could use a bit more punch and the vocals could meld a little better, but it certainly sounds like a worthy effort and I’m sure they’ll have more to offer later on down the road. It’s just a single, so I can’t really go on much from it. But it’s worth giving a listen.

(1 Track, 3:47)

6.5/10

Volunteer - Goner 10 inch

Volunteer – Goner 10″ (2014) – These four guys make a style of stoner metal/rock that comes off much as you would expect. It’s got the obvious chugs, the throaty vocals and down-tuned blues melodies all over the place. It sounds decent, a little rough at times but definitely something that wasn’t a big budget production, as it feels like real “salt of the earth” music. Well, except for the stumbling of “I Love You So Much It’s Killing Us Both 3:50” which just sounds like it possibly shouldn’t have been recorded. You see, the band’s main vocalist and the backup guy sometimes get all mixed up and it doesn’t meld together as well as it should. So yeah, it sounds good from a musical aspect, but these guys really need to work on their pitch and timing a bit better. Still, there’s a promise in a few areas and it’s not a total wash out.

(4 Tracks, 16:00)

6/10

Kult Of Taurus - Erevos Aenaon - Born Of Fire Forged By Death

Kult Of Taurus/Erevos Aenaon – Born Of Fire, Forged By Death (Split 2014) – Well, we’ve got two black metal bands up for observation here, the first being Kult Of Taurus. The band exhibits a very true to form approach, with a production that sounds raw, yet audible as it fills with angry tremolos, blasting drums and harsh scowls. There’s a little bit of thrash influence to be found here, as well as some not-so tremolo melodies, but as a whole it’s definitely what you should expect from the black metal genre and pulls absolutely no punches.

Erevos Aenaon follows very much the same style, except they’re even rawer and may appeal to you even more. Tremolos are still heavily abound here, in addition to blasts and some rather horrific riffs. I really like the band’s frontman, as he manages to command a strong presence and brings a sort of ritualistic vibe to the music that makes it sound like more than just a regular black metal act. Not all of the songs here feel like they’re just speeding along though, as “Ending The Chapter On Humanity 3:20” allows for some slower tempos and some rather nice leads. I’m reminded a bit of Primordial and that’s never a bad thing.

After soaking these two strong black metal acts, I’d certainly have to recommend Erevos Aenaon over Kult Of Taurus. It’s a difference easily discernible by listening just once to the amazing performance put on display here. Get it for Erevos Aenaon, but definitely give Kult Of Taurus a listen as well because they’re a good opening act for the main event.

(8 Tracks, 25:00)

8.5/10

Gravecrusher - Morbid Black Oath

Gravecrusher – Morbid Black Oath (2014) – Are you ready to get down in the filthy muck and get real fucking brutal? Well, that’s where Gravecrusher deliver. The album doesn’t run that long, but it doesn’t need to. Morbid Black Oath serves as a quick fix of deliciously destructive death metal that is sure to come in like a battering ram to your eardrums and offers not once second of respite. Thick groove riffs, monstrous growls and mighty drum work all manage to meld together to make what is a satisfying listen all of the way through. If you liked death metal, and I mean death metal – then you’re definitely going to enjoy this slab of classic death that no one will have complaints about. Through and through, it’s the very definition of a solid, no frills death metal record with all the trimmings.

(7 Tracks, 23:00)

8/10

Destruktor - Throneum - A Prophecy Of Nihilism

Destruktor/Throneum – A Prophecy Of Nihilism (Split 7″) – This is a split with one song from each band. The first act is Destruktor with “Besieged 3:53” which offers a great lesson in death/thrash that I don’t think anyone’s going to forget anytime soon. An amazing solo section comes in to calm the piece down, but I’ve no qualms with the awesomeness and slight groove sections. Pretty damned promising. The next act is Throneum of which I’ve reviewed before. “Chtonian Lust 5:41” is admittedly hard to hear though and fuzzy in the mix. It sounds like a demo that should have been given a bit more love than this. The programmed drums sound a little bit too fake, even though the riffscapes seem to utter doomy overtones and the overall feel of the piece is quite dark and foreboding. He tries, but this really needs a lot of work.

(2 Tracks, 9:00)

5/10

Justin Symbol - Control EP

Justin Symbol – Control EP (2014) – Justin Symbol wants to be the next Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor, Matt Zane or Medavon De’Rage and his electronic industrial rock seems to prove that point true. There’s only three tracks here, but that’s just enough to chew on. It’s still kind of rough and has a good chance to evolve in years to come, but the electronic section seems to be rather proficient as well as the more aggressive sections of the piece. “Killing An Arab 2:05” sounds interesting with its surfer rock Egyptian vibe, but I think I would prefer the new Lockjaw album over it. I’ll definitely have to hear a full-length recording from him to get a better impression. Worth a shot though.

(3 Tracks, 9:00)

6.5/10

Morgoth - God Is Evil single

Morgoth – God Is Evil (Digital Single 7″) (2014) – It’s been a long time since anyone’s heard from Morgoth, but this digital single doesn’t seem to make me barrel over with unrefined joy either. The basic Death worship that you expect is here, which culminates in an experience that sounds like it came right out of the eighties, yet with a little more polish. The band manage to play their rough brand of progressive death metal well, but in the end it just sounds like a retread.

(2 Tracks, 7:00)

7/10

Amenra - Madensuyu - Split 10 inch

Amenra/Madensuyu – Split 10″ (2014) – This split gathers together two dreary rock acts, each with a little hint of teary prog. It’s the kind of thing you listen to once you’ve given up all hope, or are just completely upset with society. It’s the musical form of complete depression, yet it comes off rather nicely with the acoustic version of “Razoreater 7:52” serving as an intimate performance of dark rock, as “Days And A Day 4:48” offers the same style of melancholy dark rock, somewhat sounding like it could be in a David Chronenberg film. It’s alright, but just sort of bummed me out.

(2 Tracks, 12:00)

6/10

Children Of Technology - Future Decay

Children Of Technology – Future Decay (2014) – These guys look like a bunch of post-apocalyptic punks and they play a brand of thrash/punk that’s decent enough, I suppose. The vocals aren’t too much my thing, but the riffs seem to follow along the path of classic punk with some thrash alterations. There are also some good solo sections and the band sounds full of fire, but it doesn’t really deviate much from the formula and sounds a little plain. Still give it a try, because you just mind find something in it.

(8 Tracks, 29:00)

6/10

Obscure Burial - Epiphany

Obscure Burial – Epiphany (2014) – This sounds like a remastered classic, which is more or less what it is. Especially judging by the band pics that came with the tracks. These guys made a rather warm and fuzzy, but rowdy and destructive brand of death metal that I’m sure death heads have been waiting a long time to hear. Each of the four tracks revolves around the same hard hitting thrash riffs, drum pummeling, erratic solos and harsh vocal acrobatics, but it sounds like it could’ve been recorded in a garage somewhere last weekend. Still, you can’t go wrong with the thundering drum work and some of the eerie riff melodies on this piece, which makes for a pretty damn good listen. This is solid death metal that you’ll want to unearth from its hoary tomb. Obscure Burial could have really been something if a label had taken the time to give them better care. But we know how the music industry of old used to behave as well…

(4 Tracks, 19:00)

8/10

Auslander - self titled

Auslander – Auslander (2014) – Auslander are three middle-aged guys that play classic punk and that’s exactly what you should expect from this album. It’s not a very long record either, but it manages to utilize traditional punk riffs with a “stick it to em” approach to the vocals and shouting choruses that should definitely appeal to older punks who grew up with this stuff in the eighties and early nineties. There’s a lot of Ramones influence here, but there’s no problem with that in my book. I will say that the song “I Hate Hipsters 1:44” has a special place in my heart however, especially with the Dr. Seuss references thrown in.

(8 Tracks, 18:00)

7/10

Brainoil - self titled

Brainoil – Brainoil (2003 Reissue 2014) – Originally released in 2003, this doom album sounds pretty fucking potent in 2014. As soon as I pressed the play button, I was greeted with pounding riffs and drums that pounded just as hard as those riffs. It sounded rather sludgy to be honest, with frantic screams bellowing forth from the gelatinous puddle of slime that the band have entrusted with vocal duties. It sounds like muck, a little bit of Acid Bath and some EyeHateGod, but much faster in areas. This is music for mudmen, so you know how that goes. Yeah. they bang their muddy heads all over the place and get mud everywhere. Never sit next to a mudman on a bus, especially if they’re listening to Brainoil. Because they’ll be thrashing their heads about, which technically isn’t good for them since they’re made of wet soil. You’ll be covered in mud and so will everything else. But if your ears still have a little bit of dirt in them, you might also be able to get into this thick sludgy mess. I’m not quite sure who brought the mudmen to life, but now that they’re here we will have to deal with them. Just make sure to keep your doors and windows locked at night and to have a hefty supply of Brainoil CD’s on hand, just in case one of them wants to cause some filthy mischief. If you give them a copy of this record, they’ll leave you alone. So make sure that you buy a hundred of them, just to be safe!

(8 Tracks, 21:00)

8/10

Madrost - Into The Aquatic Sector

Madrost – Into The Aquatic Sector (2014) – Madrost play a form of death/thrash with a little bit of technicality at times, reminding me a little of Revocation, Slayer, Metallica and Death. The core influences are there in the vocal shouts, but these guys don’t wind up trotting down the same well-worn path that most modern technical death/thrash acts travel. Instead, these guys really tear it up and incorporate some rather punchy solos and finely crafted instrumental sections, which help the abrasive nature of their thrash to come off quite promising. The production is a little raw, but I’d much rather listen to these guys than Revocation. For a record that is supposed to sound aquatic, it sounds like a volcano just went off and now the ocean is set to boil.

(8 Tracks, 27:00)

8/10

The Sabbathian - Ritual Rites

The Sabbathian – Ritual Rites (2014) – This female fronted doom act certainly comes off in the same vein as Demon Lung or Mount Salem and I’m sure that if you like those and the bazillion other female fronted doom/occult rock acts that have appeared in the last few years, you will find something in The Sabbathian as well. As we might expect, loud torrents of doom flow through the piece, with occasional sections of melody and the odd solo every once in a while. The female vocal element manages to come off rather potent as well, though her vocals are just a little lower in the mix than the rest of the instruments. The Black Sabbath influence on the record is quite noticeable, and to most this will sound like a female fronted Sabbath. Decent record, but nothing I haven’t heard before.

(3 Tracks, 20:00)

7/10

Endzeit - Years Of Hunger EP

Endzeit – Years Of Hunger EP (2014) – Endzeit play black metal, but they certainly don’t look your everyday corpse-painted fiends and I’m okay with that. Originally this was supposed to be a raw black metal project, but with the start of “Hunger 4:58” you can see more thrash muscle from the drums coming into place, as the piece later incorporates light melodies and finished off with a roaring section of blasts. “Godless 5:29” might sound more like you were expecting, with “Life? 6:43” continuing in that tremolo-driven territory, at least into it rolls into groove and blasts. The piece does little more, but it makes its presence known. The record finishes off with “The Dawn No More Rises 3:52” which sends it off on another pleasing note. These guys manage to produce some top quality black metal, culminating in a solid EP that shouldn’t upset black metal fans (unless you’re completely kvlt.)

(5 Tracks, 22:00)

8/10

Lunarsapian - The Gilded Fucking Whore EP

Lunarsapian – The Gilded Fucking Whore EP (2014) – These four extremely abrasive songs (labeled as doom/death, but I would also include atmospheric) are interesting enough, but certainly a bit fuzzy and hard to hear. During the inaugural listen, they were so loud and fuzzy that I thought my eardrums were going to explode, regardless of the fact that when the shit gets heavy, it really delivers. I’m also sensing a sort of nu-metal like groove to this, which is awkward; but it’s there. I’ve made records that sound like this before, but I never released the static-laden things on the internet, no matter how much I liked them. The title track (4:21) is completely fucking unlistenable for example and I never would have put it online. How unfortunate, because these songs had a little bit of promise. I just wish I could’ve heard them better.

(4 Tracks, 22:00)

3/10

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