Released earlier this year, Twin Suns & Wolves’ Tongues is the second full length by Victoria, Australia’s Vahrzaw. The lead off track, “Arrows Pierce the Fog”, is nothing too special. Pretty straightforward Black Metal with a bit of a Death Metal tinge. Things get a bit more interesting with track two. “On the Shoulders of Giants” has some nice touches with the drumming during the intro (one hand following the rhythm guitar accents while a blast beat is carried out between the snare and bass drum). There’s even some aurally pleasing solo work, as well as a harmonized lead section. The bass break toward the end of the song is also a short, but noteworthy highlight as well. A very varied arrangement to be packed into such a concise song length. The first verse of “Endroom” starts off with a contrapuntal arrangement. With one guitar playing what sounds like arpeggiated chords against a riff based on lightly palm muted diads. Around the 2:30 mark there is some harmonized lead work with a bit of counterpoint to it. The underlying pulse, for the most part, is a fairly straightfoward 12/8 rhythm, but it’s executed tightly and helps keep the song pushing forward. “Acta non Verba” starts off as a fairly straightforward black metal song with the tremolo picking and such, but shifts to a more technical style more reminiscent of death metal around a minute in. Around 2:40 or so, the rhythm guitar simplifies to some ringing power chords as the guitar solo, a smooth harmonic minor based affair, comes in.
“Twin Suns & Wolves’ Tongues” is a great title track, packed with tight, dense frenetic riffing and impeccably played drumming. For my money, the highlight is the 12/8 mid section where the riff occasionally gives way to short, dissonant, harmonized runs. On “To Give Meaning to the Meaningless,” the band manage to pack more musical motifs into a 3:40 second run time than many bands in their genre can pack into 7+ minutes. What’s especially impressive is that the band manage to switch between them without losing a step. “Scourge” is another fast track with a lot of musical variation, shifting gears between standard tremolo picked black metal and jagged quasi technical death metal without losing a step. The lead lines that appear in the song are relatively simple but serve to add a bit of musical complexity to the mid tempo 3/4 section that happens from about 2:00 to 2:50. “Nihil Obstat” is a fast track that closes off the album right. It comes out of the gate with some diminished tremolo picked riffing and closes out with a reprise of this. Along the way, the listener is treated to the obligatory quasi swinging 12/8 passages that are part and parcel for black metal since at least the early 90s, as well as some dense atonal riffing and synchronized licks between guitar and drums. On the whole, a well written and well arranged album. The production provides ample space for all the principle instruments to shine, and the vocals are clear and intelligible. Bravo, Vahrzaw.
Key Songs: On the Shoulders of Giants, Endroom, To Give Meaning to the Meaningless
Vilifier are a Death metal band hailing from Australia (Brisbane and Darwin according to Metal Archives). This four track EP kicks off with “Bloodvomit Evocation.” While the bottom heavy guitar tone and growled vocals scream Death Metal, the instrumentation and arrangement on this track is much more akin to Black Metal. The guitars weave intertwining, diminished harmonies (executed with tremolo picking of course) and the drums alternate between a persistent four beat thrash pattern and the ubiquitous “blast beat.” The second half is the obligatory slow section. It’s well executed with a much more defined separation between lead and rhythm guitar and solid, powerful drumming. “Lacerated Flesh of Ancient Wisdom,” with its low register, chromatic riffs has its foot more solidly in the realm of Death Metal. The first couple minutes of the song are good, but it begins to suffer around 2:30 as the guitar riff during the slow section sounds much too close to the outro riff from the first track. “Ritual Obscuration” is a good track, undone by it’s overlong run time. While there are some excellent riffs going on here, and some nice drum lines, they repeat far too often for a song that is just under six minutes in length. Clocking in at just under 7 minutes long, “Twilight Dancer of Cosmic Devastation” is another track that sounds much closer to black metal with its tremolo picked and pretty “Nordic” sounding melodies. While the first half of the song leans mostly on a single musical motif, the persistent fast tempo gives it a sense of forward momentum that prevents it from becoming ho hum. Around the midway mark, the band transition into a sort of mid-paced, 6/8 waltz groove that even features some syncopated back beats. The whole EP is (as is often the case with this genre) hampered by terrible production. The drums in particular suffer as the tom toms have a tendency to sound blurry and distorted. When this occurs, the guitars also get drowned out. There are also times when I found the vocalist to be practically inaudible. Of course, these aren’t unforgivable transgressions when dealing with an obscure band on a relatively young label. Musically, their longer cuts could stand for a little more variation.
Key Songs: Bloodvomit Evocation, Twilight Dancer of Cosmic Devastation
Nonsense music with sophomoric communist themes? It has to be Hardcore. Well… Hardcore/Thrash crossover to be more specific. “Haircut I Never Got” is arranged (for the most part) thusly: guitar noise followed by someone screaming the title. NEXT! “The IMF” is a rant against the International Monetary Fund. Fans of Sacred Reich’s masterpiece “The American Way” will get a strong been there, done that vibe from this song. “Dubstep Sucks?” Yes it does, but this song does too. “Marx Was Right” is a sophomoric celebration of tyranny over fairly crossover thrash. Musically, “Beer Law” is practically identical to the previous track. In fact, if you dropped out the vocals I couldn’t tell the difference. The album carries on like this through five more tracks, each worse than the one that preceded it. There is just nothing redeeming about this album. If you want better punk inspired thrash metal with a half baked left wing political lyrics you would do much better to pick up something by Sacred Reich or D.R.I’s classic “Thrash Zone.” This is dated, cheesy, and repetitive. Practice kissing up to those erm… “Capitalist Zombies,” because this music is going nowhere.
Key Song: ???
Some of the riffs in “Aliens” have some interesting cadences, but on the whole, the track is good for what it is: brutal Death Metal. “Hiljos del Caos” is better put together than the previous song. The riffs don’t have the fancy, legato cadences, but there are no awkward dead stops when the band shift motifs. “Muerte Lenta” is a mid-paced, “groovy” song. It starts in 12/8 before switching to a lumbering 4/4 half time feel and finally a double time thrash rhythm. I would advise the band to clip the half time section out altogether. “La Valla” fluctuates between an old school Hardcore and a Death Metal feel. All in all, a decent track. The rest of the album maintains a similar quality. The riffing and arrangements straddle the line between those two genres, and everything is well put together, but it never quite peaks.
Key Songs: Hiljos del Caos, La Valla