THE GRIM TOWER REVIEWS: June Shortlist Part II

Secret Admirer – Pale Shelter (2015) – The album cover looks like that of an eighties new wave act, with a neon border and a darkened cityscape. But in a nutshell, that’s kind of what we get. Except that it’s geared more towards atmosphere and almost makes me think of a section in an indie film that features a man walking through the city at night. In his observations, he notices several aspirations of nightlife, from a group of women chatting outside of a fashion shop, to an older gentleman smoking a cigarette on a bench. Men and women of various shapes and colors pass him by, as their business suits and various ringtones seem to almost blot out the sun. But there is no sun, not at this hour; not in this industrial landscape, this cardboard jungle of thoughts and feelings that roll by like a subway train headed straight for the abyss. The title cut (4:00) seems more misty in a sense, especially with the various voice clips that seem to add credence to such a light industrial atmosphere as a whole. It’s not just something you listen to, it’s something you feel. That’s what is so special about it. If you’re looking for a dark cityscape to immerse yourself in, then I definitely recommend Pale Shelter. Can’t wait to hear what’s next.

(2 Tracks, 7:00)

8/10

Vasomortus – Instrument Torture Of Pyramid (2015) Hailing from Indonesia, these three guys (who look like teenagers to be honest) manage to make a sort of death metal that seems to place the vocals and drums at the frontal point, with only a little bit of warmth coming from the guitar at times. They’re essentially one of those drum and vocal gravel death metal bands, where the guitars just kind of seem to be there and aren’t really doing anything but playing along with the drum track. They’re marketed to fans of Suffocation, Disgorge (USA) and Deeds Of Flesh as a sort of slightly technical death metal, but in all of the monotony that I’m hearing here, (regardless of the fact that these guys do manage to push out some strong structures every now and again and do have some promise in that aspect) especially considering the drum work, which seems to endlessly tap and does eventually get on my nerves, I’m not so sure that these guys are where they should be just yet. They’re still at that “I’ve got a signed death metal band and I’m still in high school” kind of stage and I think they’ve still got a lot of growing to do. But I digress, and will only recommend these guys to the ultimate death metal purist. All of the bands that they’re compared to are far better and seeing as the new Skinless was reviewed just last week that statement still stands brutally firm. Still, for their ages, it’s more than I could do back when I was that young and I guess that says something.

(9 Tracks, 26:00)

6/10

Far East Myth – Horizons (2015)Far East Myth are a sort of progressive melodic death act with an odd vocal mix of what can come across as a sort of a howl (which can get a little annoying) as well as brand of death growl and other iterations, which I seem to be able to tolerate. The album features foreign vocal inflections which seem to showcase an equally foreign heritage, but ultimately they display a rather textured version of the genre, which seems to showcase some wondrous progressive leads and some depth-defying solo moments within the two cuts that we have here. Of the four tracks, only two are originals with “Kujaku Ou 5:20” I feel being the stronger of them. Also included is a Nocturnus cover of “Neolithic 4:51” which seems to deliver well musically, with all of the death and thunder that we might expect from the original, as well as a misty keyboard in the background. The only problem I see is once again in the vocals, which may not get on your nerves that much, but I find that when the guy possesses such a harsh growl and scowl as he does, the annoying howls can be completely dropped. I’ll also note that the variety of spatial noises coming out of the keyboards on this one are quite amazing (and I would have loved to hear more of this on the originals) and really help to bring life to the track. Lastly, they cover Vektor’s “Black Future 5:00” and really blow it out of the park. Vocally there are some things I don’t like, but musically it seems done to perfection. These guys are an oddity of sorts that I have a love/hate relationship with, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend that you not pick up the record because of that. Instead, I think it’s worth giving a listen as these guys have more than enough promise to really become something in the future.

(4 Tracks, 20:00)

8/10

All Out War - Dying Gods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Out War – Dying Gods (2015)If you’re looking for hardcore, well these gentlemen really bring down the house and there’s enough protest and bitter hatred against the system on this EP to get you ready for a rally. These guys really hate the corporate elite, the governmental system and the amount of greed and corruption in power that has been going on for several decades now. They just want you to know that you shouldn’t have to stand for it. Thumping bass riffs demonstrate their anger; complete with several different types of vocal utterances that range from grunts to roars and everything in between. It’s quite similar to acts like Biohazard, Pro Pain and Sworn Enemy, which is just fine for me. This is the kind of really chunky, yet intelligent hardcore that might enlighten you as much as it will pump enough adrenaline into your body to show that punching bag who’s boss. As I’ve always been a fan of this kind of adrenaline, I definitely recommend this hardcore offering and I think that fans of the genre are going to find a knockout here. It’s definitely all-out war, and they bring a couple of solos into the battle as well. Not too shabby.

(7 Tracks, 29:00)

8/10 

A:S:Orchestra – Winter Rain (2015) – I don’t know much about these guys, or even if I’m pronouncing their moniker right (as you see from the cover, it’s a little difficult) but I will say that this somewhat dark and experimental electronic rock definitely has me interested. I don’t really the vocal portions where the frontman speaks, but when he sings during the melodies, I find myself enraptured in wondrous gothic croons. This is just one song, but I’m hoping that maybe some of the others will deliver a little more. I’m definitely looking forward to what they’ll offer in the future, but on the merits of this track, I’d say that it’s merely “alright” at best. They’ve got a long way to being as notable as Braindance.

(1 Track, 3:34) 

6/10

 

Demona – 2015 EP 7″ (2015) – When I look at the band photo for this mysterious act, I only see one very foxy guitar goddess. She also handles vocals on what sounds to be a very classic sort of speed metal. Even the quality of this album sounds like it was made back in the eighties, but that seems to go great with the atmosphere here. She definitely has a handle on these classic and very warm sounding tracks, which seem to be able to start a fire if left unattended. Without a doubt, there’s certainly something here and I think it’s currently in an embryonic and unrefined form. There are still some things to be ironed out, but I can’t say too many negative things about a girl and her guitar. Especially when she can play like this. If future material is coming from this axe-wielding siren, then I’m sure that you’re going to want to get your hands on it.

(2 Tracks, 7:00)

7/10 

My Reflection - Dead Musician

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Reflection – Dead Musician (2015) – My Reflection offer up a sorrowful ballad with female fronted vocals that sometimes roll into a bit of a duet. It’s quite a catchy number however, which would find itself on the radio if it was marketed right. There’s a certain dark bubblegum sensation here, which feels like a sort of Goth rock with a classier tone. No doubt that fans of acts like Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, Nightwish, Leaves Eyes, Theatre Of Tragedy and the whole gamut will find something to like here. It’s just one song, but it could be a rather strong single.

(1 Track, 4:48)

7/10 

SNOISIΛ ˥ƎNNn- – SNOISIΛ ˥ƎNNn- (2015) – Complete with a cover that reminds me of Shotgun Suicide Victim’s work (seriously) this atmosphere that I’ve been confronted with sounds quite steely and rather… uncomforting. This is far from the mantric humming one might hear while in trance and seems like it carries the vibe of an alien ship. But not a friendly one, as this seems more like a Ripley Scott affair. This is only the first track in what I’m sure is a rather fearsome selection of moods, but I certainly would hope to hear more of these bizarre yet intriguing soundscapes on the full album. Which I’d hope releases soon. It ended far too soon for me.

(1 Track, 3:59)

8/10 

Blasphemic Cruelty – Crucible Of The Infernum (2015) – This three piece certainly sound like they’ve got that classic death/thrash formula down, as they pump in speed metal and raise loads of hell while they’re at it. These are also the kind of guys that you’d expect to hear a Sarcofago, Venom or Sodom cover (I’m also reminded of The Crown) from as well, which they do deliver in the form of Sodom’s “The Crippler 4:11.” The frontman has an absolutely diabolic scowl, which seems to flow just perfectly with the fiery leads and pounding drums. All three of these individuals are highly skilled and deliver a veteran performance that you’ll notice and remember instantly. In short, they’ve made some rather promising black/death/thrash or whatever you want to call it. I know they didn’t call it that back in the old days, and that’s definitely what Crucible Of The Infernum reminds me of. Blasphemic Cruelty sounds like the kind of band that really know what they want to sound like and have that style down-pact. They’re ready to go out there and destroy and do so with this release. Chances are that if you dig their influences, then you’re going to dig them as well. This one’s definitely for the old heads out there who remember how heavy metal used to sound. Grab a beer and jam it, you’ll enjoy the hell out of it.

(4 Tracks, 21:00)

9/10

Neck Of The Woods – Neck Of The Woods (2015) – When you start out an album with a solo, that’s definitely a sign of good things to come and Neck Of The Woods are one of the very few promo records that I remember from the first listen. Unfortunately on this second listen, I’m trying to remember what it was that I found so interesting. It’s true that these guys throw prog and groove together like a peanut butter and whip cream sandwich (that actually sounds good right now) but there’s a lot of stony monotony on the vocal end. We have the grunts and gravel, which just seem to follow along with the grooves. So basically, it’s grunt, gravel, groove and a little bit of technicality and prog. It kind of reminds me of old metalcore, just without the clean vocals (which are a good thing) which makes it meatier than an Arby’s meat mountain (which can fucking kill you by the way) and beefier than one of Hardees’s thick burgers. Actually, to describe this thing, I’m going to need about twenty pounds of meat, which I’ll roll into a great big glob and then sprinkle more meat on top of. Then I’ll have to serve that meat with more meat as a side dish and meat as an appetizer. It’ll have to be served with a large goblet of gravy, which will help to wash it all down perfectly. You have to really love meat to handle life in the their Neck Of The Woods, which is what these intelligent stone golems seem to offer with their thick and pleasantly profound mixtures. Though I think I’m going to drop the joke for a second and really close in on a notable moment in the album closer “Two Smokes 7:23.” There are some truly memorable leads used on the track, not to mention the instrumental beginning, showing that they could really have something if they had held back on all the beef. Nevertheless, they seem accomplished enough to make a big name in the scene and should very well do so with this release. Chow down!

(6 Tracks, 28:00)

8.5/10

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