Grim Observations – July 2019

It’s been a thrilling month with so many new albums on the way, as well as a few submissions and otherwise. I hope that you’ll like this new style of doing reviews, as it will allow me to cover more ground in a smaller amount of time. First off, I really have to say that I loved the new Disillusion album, The Liberation. I’ve listened to this beast three times already and I’m already making comparisons to Back To Times Of Splendor, one of my personal favorite heavy metal albums of all time. Though proggier than their previous efforts and with less harsh vocal influence, I find there’s a lot to like on this disc. Added guitar solos only increase the fun, as passionate vocals rip through pieces like the title track, “Time To Let Go”, closer “The Mountain” and opener “Wintertide.” I didn’t really know what to expect with this one, but it’s knocked my socks off and I want to play it again and again and again. Without a doubt, The Liberation will be among my favorite albums of all time and is certainly one of my personal favorite albums of the year.

Gyze finally released a new Japanese melodeath album in Asian Chaos, which definitely seems to invoke the same traditional Japanese folk instrumentation that has been popular in the genre for quite some time now. As for the meldoy compositions, I’m brought easily into the kinds of realms that made video game soundtracks in the nineties so popular, with a dab of Touhou influence for good measure. I didn’t think someone could outdo Veiled In Scarlet, but these gentlemen definitely have and I’m obviously trying to restrain myself from listening to it again. Unexpectedly Regnum Caelorum Et Gehenna, another Japanese melodic death metal act also released a new album after what I’d consider to be a great number of years. Yes folks, we have finally reached Dimersity III. Vocally, it’s still tied to Slaughter Of The Soul and I don’t think Mr. Metal will ever get out of that mode of expression, even though it can be rather quite bland when he’s not experimenting with other elements. The synth sections are prominent as always, as flying solos and traditional Japanese folk implements also pervade the immense cacophony of atmopsheres present on what I found to be a definite journey. I’m not sure if this one is quite as good as Dimersity II, but it’s definitely up there and I’m just glad to see Mr. Metal back at what he does best. Quite simply, Japan is without a doubt making some of the best melodic death metal we’ve heard in years.

Middle eastern metallers Myrath released Shehili as well, definitely reminding me of Kamelot during their best era. It’s certainly a bit basic as far as the riff structures are concerned, but there’s enough going on in the vocal end of this experience to get you singing along. In my experience, a good sing-a-long can sell quite a number of records, so I think that Myrath will certainly find success if marketed right. I can also say that Corroded, a band that I lauded years ago for sounding too much like Nickelback decided that they would go for a more Soilwork friendly vibe and it definitely works here with Bitter. The Swedes decided to go with what works best and they’ve definitely put their heart and soul into these tunes, making for an experience that I found much more than simply a solid drop in the bucket. Once again, there are a lot of great pieces here where the listener will be urged to sing-a-long and it’s not too heavy on the growls, so more casual listeners might want to pick this one up. There’s enough chunk in the bass however to stop it from sounding too much like rock radio and thankfully Corroded didn’t try to jump on the Five Finger Death Punch bandwagon like Bad Wolves did with their “Zombie” cover. I’m also thankful that they didn’t decide to jump on that abhorrent Imagine Dragons bandwagon and I have so many terrible things to say about that band in a future article. Professionally, they are probably not in good taste to say; but personally I have an awful lot of disdain towards a bunch of talentless hacks who’ve turned the greatness of rock and roll into a saccharine flavored pack of bubble gum. That would be putting it mildly. I was also submitted a rock act by the name of Wicked Garden, with an album titled Post Dystopian Leisure Music. Though quite raw, I found the band to be sort of a good mix of what at times came off as southern rock and moved slowly towards grunge and generally nineties rock. Wicked Garden are certainly a good throwback, but I couldn’t hear them as well as I would’ve liked. Maybe I should have turned the disc up, but my volume was at a relatively high level to begin with.

I was also submitted Stone Leaders self-titled album and they’re not quite what you think. With a name like Stone Leaders I was for sure expecting stoner rock, but what I got was a type of progressive metal not unlike that of Symphony X. I definitely felt that Stone Leaders sounded very much like a Symphony X clone, but not in a bad way. Rather, the same way that Katana sound like a terrific Iron Maiden clone. The aformentioned influence hasn’t released a new album for quite a while and these guys are definitely dealing with a style that picks up where The Odyssey left off, so maybe you ought to go give this self-titled effort a try. I enjoyed it enough to consider it solid and I think you’ll find something in it as well.

Beelzebubs released their debut just a few months ago as well and like the Dethklok albums, it’s just as good. Pantheon Of The Nightside Gods is definitely not black metal and feels more like an Insomnium record (of which is never a bad thing) though it delivers in much the same fashion that one might expect, with tremendously dark melodies and wonderful atmospheric efforts like “Dark Mother” that truly showcase the power of this mysterious cartoon project. You know, it is really a shame when these cartoon bands are able to come out with discs that manage to rival their human competitors, but that seems to be the case yet again. You cannot go wrong with the Beelzebubs comics, music and hopefully a television series to come in the future.

Emil Bulls released their first cover album with Mix Tape, a record that made me nearly want to tear the roof off when I’d heard about it. I love heavy metal covers of pop, especially with the harsh vocals that I knew they’re capable of. However, it seems that the frontman for some unknown reason decided to not use a harsh vocal approach on any of the covers here, which resulted in you guessed it – a modern rock version of all the songs included. Not that a few of the songs didn’t need harsh vocal influence (“Where Is My Mind” by The Pixies for example) but I was astonished at the lack of harsh vocals for Destiny Child’s “Survivor.” My God, there were so many spots for a good gruff edge on that one and they fucking blew it. “We Built This City,” “Grenade” and several others could have also benefited from the use of harsh vocals. It’s definitely not the first time these guys have done alternate versions of albums before, so I’m available if they want a guy to really throw down on these pieces. I’ve been exposed to far too much Ten Masked Men and others to settle for this. As a rock record, Mix Tape is decent and it definitely has it’s moments, but these guys are starting to get a little too soft for my taste.

Next, I’m going to talk about Inferi‘s End Of An Era re-recording, which definitely stands up there as one of the best melodic death albums I’ve ever heard. Just listening to samples from their newest release was enough to turn me off, I think there’s far too much Septic Flesh worship going on in metal these days, which is why I’m glad Fleshgod Apocalypse moved away from that just a bit with their most recent album, Veleno which mixed it up a little. Thankfully, End Of An Era seems to go back to the days when melodic death metal actually meant something and wasn’t plagued by theatrics and core modernisms. These gentlemen had actually written a piece that felt like the equivalent of a classical composition and as Beethoven famously coined, “music is melody.” Judging from an interview that I’d heard in Metal Trenches, the guys are going for a much heavier sound, which is going to turn me off immesely. I think I’ve grown tired of bands in this genre going heavier and heavier, while modern rock bands seem to become lighter and lighter, almost to the point of pop music. There’s a sweet spot right in the middle and very few bands these days are hitting it. Inferi knocked my socks off with this impressive meld of melody and screaming solos, which I don’t think they’ll be able to top in my eyes. I think they’ve made the best album that they can make as far as I’m concerned, especially considering that this record was originally made several years ago. Nothing can top it for me, just like the melody quotient of Septic Flesh‘s Mystic Palaces Of Dawn.

I was also submitted Relinquished‘s new album Addictivities Part I as a physical promo and quite excited by that fact. Not only because I enjoy receiving physicals, but especially when they’re the kind of albums I like. The record is of course one’s relationship with drugs and I like the fact that there were some parts about dealing with relationships on there as well, which add to what I’d consider to be a very black pilled album in general. It’s extremely dark, quite like my own music and if there’s any judge of depressing, slit your wrists to this (no, not really) style music, then it’s me. There’s definitely a sullen air to this release, with strong riff melodies, passionate vocals and an all around sense of hopelessness. Now, I’m sure the next one will be about how it felt when the character got off drugs and it’ll probably be a bit happier. I don’t know if I’ll enjoy that one so much, even though I’m certainly against most drugs that haven’t been prescribed by doctors for treating serious mental or physical conditions and some that have. My childhood doctor was a pill doctor, so I was an addict at an early age. They tried to get me addicted to Clonodine years ago, my body couldn’t sleep without it. When I ended up in a mental ward, they finally took me off of all these drugs and the director said, “there’s nothing wrong with this child, he’s perfectly fine.” However, all of the withdrawal effects of those drugs caused issues in my brain that I will be dealing with for life. I was always high functioning autistic, but now of course I’m that and the whole snack bar and I’ve got to live with it. So thanks, American pharmeceutical industry. Regardless of my little story, Addictives Part 1 is seriously great and I cannot recommend it enough to those who are looking for truly dark, yet melodic and meaningful music. Moving into darker territories, I’d also recommend October Tide‘s In Splendor, especially as they’ve taken a bit of a death metal edge here, maybe lightening up the mood only to make it a bit fiercer. These guys have been stuck in the muck for years, making depressing gloom that seldom went anywhere. I was under the assumption to that this was another drop in the bucket, but some of the cuts here were surprisingly upbeat.

Rounding it out, I also have to talk about Nocturnus AD who on their long awaited Paradox album have taken a big influence from now defunct British theatric black metallers Bal Sagoth, at least in far as their synths are concerned. The result wound up being an effort that I would consider far better than that of Kull, who actually comprise what was left of the aformentioned defunct band in the first place. I didn’t expect Nocturnus AD to disappoint and was more than glad when cookie monster growls so prevalent in this music today were instead replaced with the kinds of vocals that death metal fans from back in the nineties would closer idenitify with. The record was also structurally pleasing and quite acrobatic. Paradox was literally everything that an album with the Nocturnus name slapped on the cover of it should be. I take this name and moniker very seriously, as should you – and they haven’t disappointed us with their latest adventure, that’s for sure.

In the same breath, I have to talk about Abbath, who with Outstrider proves that he can craft a better disc than the rest of Immortal. Who needs those guys anyway? The best they could come up with was a retread of everything I’ve heard before, athough without a soul. The record was black metal for the sake of black metal. However, Abbath is a bit more willing to experiment. He’s not afraid of heavy metal’s roots and even threw in a couple of guitar solos on a black metal album. And why the hell not? They certainly didn’t hurt the process, as well as record where the riff tempo actually changes throughout. You mean, it’s actually possibly to write a black metal album where every song doesn’t sound the same as the last? Despite Abbath’s silly antics in real life, he definitely put a lot of work into this record and it’s quite serious topically. At least to him. No folks, there are no songs about ice cream to be had here, but I’m quite certain that if ever one was to manifest itself, Abbath would write the very best black metal song about tasty frozen treats that we’ve ever witnessed.

I’ll also have to mention the latest Hate album, Auric Gates Of Veles which is unfortunately the same goddamned thing I’ve heard from this band for a number of decades now. It was quickly thrown into the background and I certainly can’t recommend it. This is quite a shame, since there are so many great bands coming out of Poland, like Misanthropic Rage and the Batushka Bros for example.

Now let’s get into older albums here as I do like to go through old defunct discographies and see what cracked back in the day, as it were. The first of those was a project called .Spout which I hope will never see the light of day again. In all seriousness, these guys grew closer and closer to emulating of all bands, Limp Bizkit. With The Ultimate Love Connection, the frontman was even emulating Fred Durst’s vocal tone and mannerisms. Imagine when people emulate James Hetfield’s “yeah” as a joke, even though that was not the case here. If you’re looking for rap-fused Nu-Metal that moved ever closer to emulating one of the genre’s worst acts, then look no further than this monstrosity. What’s bad, is the band released three full-length albums and I had to sit through them all. We Brake For No One was by far the worst, with it’s fifteen tracks that no one ever asked for.

Finishing up this month, I have to mention a stellar tribute album to King Diamond, which was simply titled Various Artists – Tribute To King Diamond. You may have heard this album before, but if you haven’t, I found that black and death metal takes from everyone from Dark Funeral to Exhumed more than suited my palette. Especially after stomaching all that crappy Nu-Metal.

Those are all the observations I have for this month, so I’ll see you again with more in August. Take care of yourselves and remember – smashing a large hammer into your chest will not be a way to complete this adventure. Till next time!

– The Grim Lord

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