Week 101 (February 16, 2014)

(Completely Unprofessional Professional Reviews, Since 2010!)

This week we have an especially large amount of splits, as well as a few other odds and ends. This week’s spotlight album took me by a bit of a surprise, because I hadn’t expected it to be that good. So I definitely recommend it.

By the way, we have unleashed our first single from Elabrynth, entitled “The Marionette” for your listening/download pleasure here: www.torii.bandcamp.com It’s my personal favorite track so far, with more to be recorded and finalized in the next couple of weeks. But I feel that it represents the album best and you’re in for a real treat. And now, Week 101!

Thy Worshiper - Czarna Dzika Czeriwien

Thy Worshiper – Czarna Dzika Czeriwien (PR2014 SPOTLIGHT) – I wasn’t at all sure as to what kind of album I was going to get from this band. After all, Thy Worshiper sounds like some sort of occult black metal act in all honesty. But that’s not even one bit close to the exhilarating effect that I got from this disc. Thy Worshiper is actually a pagan metal act from Wroclaw, Poland by a man by the name of Marcin Gasiorowski. The band now resides in Dublin, Ireland (it’s a long story) where the six-piece compose a style of music that combines the tribal style of Dead Can Dance with acts like Rotting Christ. Yes, you did hear me right. Marcin uses a scathing vocal approach while playing some rather sharp black/death metal influenced riffs. It’s also quite interesting to hear the tribal drumming of Tomasz Grzesik and the vocal chants of Anna Malarz on the album along with Bartosz Maruszak’s metal drumming. This is very much a sort of mix of ritual and extreme metal and I’ve never heard anything like it before in my life. Dubbed “tribal metal” they really seem to be onto something here. The lyrics are all in the band’s native, but you’ll find that it doesn’t even matter. Not only do they balance the chanting sections with the metal portions, but they manage to flow the two dichotomies into one extremely heavy ritual piece. This is the kind of album I’ve been waiting my whole life for, especially since I’ve always gotten into this kind of pagan/tribal music, but always wanted to hear darker elements of death metal in it, not to mention guitars in general as are definitely embraced on the disc.

The thing is bursting at the seams with melody, showing once again that these guys aren’t just a band who decided to mix the two styles together, but that they’re a band who’s been perfecting for quite a while. Even a few prog metal riffs find their way in here. To be honest, this album is so good that I don’t even want to spoil it for you. If you don’t like female vocal chants you’ll hate it – but definitely pay attention to the song structures and guitar work on this album. Whether you want to believe it or not, these guys can really play. And metal, I mean by that. Thy Worshiper is essentially an experimental death metal band with a hell of a lot of talent who decided to tackle on the Rotting Christ style and combine it with more tribal and pagan elements. This is the band’s first album in five years and definitely their best yet. Even though not every song on the disc excels completely, I’m truly impressed with the package and would have never expected anything remotely like this. I do encourage you to check this one out and really give it a thorough examination. What I thought was going to be some regular old black metal album turned out to be something much greater and more unique than anything I could have imagined. Even though I can’t understand a damn word of this, I definitely can feel the energy, fury and beauty laden within this music and I think Thy Worshiper is one of the best acts that I’ve gotten my hands on this year. Definitely one of my top albums of 2014. Nothing is going to top this for me as of yet.

(9Tracks, 46:00)
10/10

Amon - Liar In Wait

Amon – Liar In Wait (Vinyl Edition) (PR2014) – Before Deicide, Glen Benton was fronting another death metal act by the name of Amon. Well, Amon’s Liar In Wait has been re-issued (and from the sound of the release, has also been remastered) for your listening pleasure and an added history lesson. As you can expect, the music here sounds very Deicide with pummeling drums, Glen’s fearsome vocal bark and death riffs of which we’re all familiar with. But if you can’t tell that it’s Deicide from album opener “Among Us 4:53” then you’ve probably never heard a Deicide record in your life. The song structure on the album is surprisingly good, even for this early on. I can even go out on a limb and say that in some ways it rivals that of Deicide. There just seems to be more drum involvement and the riffs seem to be hungrier with solos ripping right through the seams of this release. Amon sound full of vigor here, still fresh with youth and willing to explore what was back in that time still a flowering genre. There’s nothing earth shattering on the album, but nevertheless it’s still a piece of history. There’s not one slow song on this release; so expect a little over thirty minutes of pulse-pounding carnage that was forged inside the infernal wastes of the fetid abyss. Some might argue that perhaps there’s a bit too much machine-gunning as far as the drums are concerned, but it’s obvious that Amon knew what kind of album they wanted to make here. If you do get this album, be sure to listen to it and then early Deicide, as then you can hear the progression. It’s definitely worth getting your hands on, especially if you’re a collector or can appreciate the classics. Which we all should, for they form the roots of the current metal age.

(9Tracks, 36:00)
8/10

Fallen Fate - Into The Black

Fallen Fate – Into The Black (PR2014) – Fallen Fate are a UK thrash act with a love for the sound of American metalcore, so you can make your assumptions from this definition. These guys have one EP and a full length in 2011 called The Virus Has Spread. The band’s new album however, is based around a story concept that leaves me a bit unconcerned because these guys don’t really seem to offer any real structural or compositional differences. It’s essentially a bunch of core and thrash riffs, backed by a thick vocal rasp that certainly sounds one-dimensional despite several memorable melodies. These guys do have their moments however, and I’ll give it to the frontman that he also has passion in his voice. Guitar solos also pop up every now and again, with respectable thunder behind the drums. These guys are trying so hard to be a fierce core act and I do think that fans of the core genre will find them easily accessible and marketable. They’ve got a strong enough sound to make it in the current scene, but won’t impress any old heads. But my biggest problem with this album is that it offers more of the same with each song and doesn’t seem to really give me anything more than the same sets of riffs and drum fills. The melodies are the most powerful part on this album, but sometimes it feels like they’re fighting for air with all the modern nuances that plague this act. I still think they’ll be able to put on a hell of a show and I’d certainly check them out live because the frontman sounds like he’d be a madman on the stage. Again, I respect any vocalist who actually sounds like he’s putting some effort in on the mic, like he really believes in the lines that are coming out of his mouth. If anything, Fallen Fate sound like they’re young and hungry to do some great things in their scene. Out of the many core acts that I get, I definitely would pick this act over many of the gut-punch vocal acts. Though you’ve still got your breakdowns and what not; the melodies on this disc help to break the monotony and the disc offers a satisfying conclusion to the tale within it’s closer “Vespa.” It’s solo efforts like these that show me Fallen Fate has much more to offer the world and hopefully they’ll refine their sound further in the future. Definitely pick it up if you’re looking for core that goes a bit beyond the stereotypes and focuses a bit more on the melodies and vocals.

(10Tracks, 44:00)
7/10

Nocturnal Fear - Seges Fendere - Allied For The Upcoming Genocide

Nocturnal Fear / Seges Fendere – Allied For The Upcoming Genocide (PR2014) – This split offers a blackened thrash band by the name of Nocturnal Fear, as well as a pummeling death metal act by the name of Seges Fendere. And I say pummeling, because I could hear a weighty amount of drums from just a brief sample of one of their two tracks. The album itself contains six tracks, with less than twenty minutes of material from each band.

Nocturnal Fear offer up a blackened thrash metal set with death metal influences abound, so you can pretty much place them in the same category as early Impiety. The production is crisp, yet still raw and manages to beat the stuffing out of the listener with several common thrash elements and harsh vocals to back those elements. While nothing truly memorable, it is still able to leave a dent and shows that the band have some promise. I don’t think they’ll ever be a headliner act, but they’ll definitely be something that I’d see live regardless. The band also throw a instrumental into their devil themed set with “Invade To Conquer (Pt.2) 1:47” ending their section of the split with a memorable finale.

The sound of roaring plane engines begin “Luftwaffe Trumpet Resounds 6:58” as thick gravel becomes a main element of the blistering thunder which composes Seges Fendere. These guys also use slight symphonic elements to demonstrate what might be the horns of battle. Then you have “On The Bloodshores Of Normandie 6:19” which continues the WWII themed assault with much the same performance as before.

Both Nocturnal Fear and Seges Fender have talent, but I don’t think that either band has really hit their prime yet. That’s a good thing though, as they have plenty of time to further refine the kind of music that they want to play. One band comes in with a much cleaner approach than the other, but they both manage to get the job done. While not essential, this is definitely the kind of disc that will ready you for the coming genocide. You might even wind up listening to it while fighting for your life.

(6Tracks, 30:00)
6/10

Trenchrot - Necrotic Warfare cover

Trenchrot – Necrotic Warfare (PR2014) – While I don’t know a damn thing about Trenchrot other than the Deadite with the gun on the front cover, I can say that they’ve gotten their grimy hands deep into the realms of classic death metal and play it quite proficiently. In other words, they kick all of fucking ass and there’s no doubt in my mind of that. There’s really no need to roll through each and every one of these tracks, as all eleven of these pieces manage to deliver just as much of a beating as you’d expect. I’m getting a lot of Autopsy influence on this album, but that’s a good thing. Even the frontman is trying very hard to sound like the Autuopsy frontman with his garbage growl. As you’d expect, the band also has that sort of death/punk sound that Autopsy is known for, at least on their last album, The Headless Ritual. Surprisingly though, there’s a break in the mood on the album’s title track, which clocks in at almost eight full minutes (7:36). The track slows the drum bashing down a bit for a moment of melody and an interesting solo section that we wouldn’t have even expected from the band, given the atmosphere that precedes it. But when all is said and done, you’ve got a truly formidable album that doesn’t require a five page essay. Once you start listening to it, you’ll know what to expect immediately. And what you expect, is exactly what’s delivered on this trashy death metal punk goodness. They just don’t make them like this anymore folks. Put me down for a hundred copies!

(11Tracks, 49:00)
8/10

Exhumed - Iron Reagan - Split

Exhumed / Iron Reagan – Split 12″ (PR2014) – This eleven minute split between Exhumed and Iron Reagan serves as a quick dose of adrenaline on those days that you might just need it. If you have a fifteen minute break at work, then this album will jumpstart your synapses, getting you ready to push the corporate pulp all of the way until the end of your shift. The split contains six minutes of new material from Exhumed and four minutes of new material from Iron Reagan, so don’t expect amazement. Nevertheless, “Gravewalker 2:29” comes off with furious punk as “Dead To The World 2:18” sees further punishment and the inclusion of the gravel that was oddly missing from the previous track. “Seeing Red 0:52” is included as a blink and you’ll miss it track, and “Ready To Fight 1:12” ends the Exhumed portion of the disc with another punk-influenced death metal romp.

Iron Reagan begin their thrashy punk with the frenzy of “Life Beater 0:54” and it’s follow-up, “Gave Up On Giving A Fuck 1:24.” While not as quick, it still manages to hammer down and will probably make that sandwich and bag of chips you’re eating go down a lot easier. Because you are jamming to this on a lunch break right? “Mini Lights 1:33” comes in with an arguably punkier approach, yet still heavy in the realms of thrash. The disc ends with “Holy Water Makes Me Wet 0:54” which is one of the best song titles I’ve ever heard. It’s also technically true. Water is wet. So holy water is holy wet. Whatever. At any rate, the song manages to bring it’s point across while ending abruptly.

Truth be told, you don’t exactly need this. It’s quite short and just serves as a snack between EP’s and full-length discs. If you’re a hardcore fan, you’ve already got it sitting on a shelf. But I don’t think that too many people are going to jump on this one, especially if they’re still spinning the Exhumed and Iron Reagan discs. The material here isn’t all that great either, just some cast-offs, more or less. But if you’ve got to have it, then get it. I won’t stop you. Hell, I’d rather you buy this than that album from Imagine Dragons.

(8Tracks, 11:00)
5/10

Queen Elephantine - Scarab

Queen Elephantine – Scarab (PR2014) – Queen Elephantine is one hell of a name for a band and this is undoubtedly one hell of an album as well. It’s much different that what you would think, as we’ve got these Indian experimentalists taking the drone genre on in an entirely unique fashion. The ritualism of “Veil 8:12” definitely shows their roots, yet still manages to incorporate some thicker riffs and sixties prog fare. Vocals don’t break in until the song is almost upon completion, but “Veil” serves to be an intro more than anything else. It’s just a very long intro. The track follows up into the longest number on the disc and real meat of the album called “Crone 18:55” in which bells and almost inaudible bass fills begin the track, leading into further atmosphere as well as incorporating a rabid drumming session. Just imagine it as very light progressive doom. There are no vocals to be found on this track either. “Snake 10:44” plays with prog as well as doom, yet everything is still quite reserved. Queen Elephantine might be one of the quietest bands that I’ve ever heard. Vocals do appear on the track, but just like everything else; they’re quite subtle. The album closes with “Clear Light Of The Unborn 13:05” which starts out as complete silence and builds slow momentum through the disc with light taps. The track ends with complete silence, closing the disc.

Well, I don’t think Queen Elephantine is the kind of thing for me. I never really got into drone music to begin with and though the doom influences are there, the album as a whole just doesn’t have any real meat to it. So yes, you can ignore what I said about “Crone” getting to the meat, as that’s just not true. This album zoomed past me so quickly that I didn’t get a real chance to absorb it and now that I have, I just don’t think that there’s all that much to absorb really. But if you’re looking to zone out for a while, then you might want to pick it up anyway.

(4Tracks, 50:00)
5/10

Morguenstern - Sepulchral Burden

Morguenstern – Sepulchral Burden (PR2014) – Morguenstern are an interesting Russian gothic metal band who incorporate electronic elements and gothic keyboards into their sound. It’s much different from bands that you’d normally hear from the area and I can certainly say that they’ve got some definite international promise. The lyrics are of course in Russian, but that shouldn’t delay your enjoyment of what I found to be an act that displays some incredible keyboard work. Fans of Type O Negative will understand what I’m talking about with these creepy keys and it doesn’t matter whether the band throws a million djent riffs in or not. Because they do utilize djent riffs on the disc quite a bit. Surprisingly, the songs are quite short even though they offer a dual vocal approach of clean female vocal and harsh male vocal, as you’d expect from a goth metal band. But none of the goth metal bands that I’ve heard have used keyboards as well as they are here.

I really hate to tell you to grab an album just for the keyboards, but the band really doesn’t deliver anything memorable as far as structure is concerned. As I mentioned, the songs are quite short and it tends to take after Karmacode era Lacuna Coil. Yes, there are times when the male and female vocals are both clean and duet together on these tracks, making some great harmonies and showing that there are some memorable Russian vocalists out there. Also, they do manage to throw in a few guitar solos here and there, so it doesn’t show an incompetent band; just one that needs a little more meat. You’ve got to give Morguenstern credit though, as they’ve definitely got something here and I’d like to hear more from them in the future as they further develop their style. If they play their cards right, I think that they’ll gain some international appeal as well. If you’re into electronically enhanced down-tuned/djent riffs with loads of creepy keyboards, memorable vocal work and some solo pieces, then definitely give these guys a shot. I think Lacuna Coil fans will flock to what they’re offering, especially if you liked the days of the band when Marcus still used a death metal styled grunt. The male vocalist here actually does that much better on this album, so there’s a plus. Morguenstern are nothing, if not promising. I think it’s worth a highlight. There’s effort here and I’d like it known.

(13Tracks, 50:00)
8/10

Cannabis Corpse - Ghoul - Splatterhash

Cannabis Corpse / Ghoul – Splatterhash (PR2014) – Only one minute longer than the last split, this short disc is another quick shot of adrenaline that you can implement during your lunch break. The pounding of “Inhalation Plague 2:41” begins the album, with Cannabis Corpse showing why they’re not just a joke band. Though I could do without the frantic scream at the end. The next track is “Splatter Their Bongs 3:06” which has a great deal of structure, surprisingly. Cannibis Corpse now sound like a more progressive and technical version of Cannibal Corpse, but I remember when they first begin and were literally parodying Cannibal Corpse songs. I hate to say it, but I like those days better. Ghoul is next on the split, and they don’t disappoint as expected. The black metal vocal on “Inner Sanctum 5:05” crawls around the track as the thrash and punk grooves help Ghoul to do what they do best. But it’s in their song structures that Ghoul shine and I’m pretty sure that with all the fucking experimenting on this one, the new Ghoul is going to be one of the best albums of the year. Yes, this song is really that fucking good. Gwar have definite competition now. But tell me? When will Gwar take on Ghoul? Come on, that’s like the battle of the century. Someone needs to give Brockie a call and whoever in the hell these guys are and have them get together for the best album that these two bands can make. Oh fuck, I love the end riff melody on this – sounds like something out of Opeth, but it fucking works. Please tell me there will be more interesting shit like this on the rest of the forthcoming Ghoul album!

Sorry, I freaked out for a bit. There’s another song on here called “Spill Your Guts 1:43” and that one ends the disc. This song also shows signs of greatness and what looks to be the best Ghoul album ever. I am highly anticipating this one. Folks, I’m telling you. The Cannibis Corpse performance is alright, but you just can’t get over what Ghoul did on this record. I hope to living fuck that this isn’t the best song from the forthcoming record. Please tell me that they have more to offer me than this. And no, that’s not a bad thing – I just want to know if they’ve got more greatness, or is “Inner Sanctum” going to be it. When you first hear the song it sounds pretty basic, but as it goes on, it begins to show why it’s much longer than a normal Ghoul track. These guys are actually putting their heads together and discovering exactly what four guys with bags of flour over their heads must do to stay current in this rapidly changing metal scene. And they’ve done it here. I didn’t expect anything like this to be honest. So you’ll need to go pick this up “just for one track” but yes, you need to hear that “I can go to youtube and stream it” one track.

But another thing I want to mention about this album, and I rarely ever talk about things like this – is the cool cover art. Yeah, a lame excuse as any to buy a split EP, but I really think this is one of the coolest covers that I’ve ever seen for a split. You’ve got both bands on the front of it in comic book form and killer weed plants. Yes, like killer tomatoes. Somewhere I’m hoping that some guy will grab this album one day, and he just so happens to write, produce and or direct horror films. Because I want to see these things given life. You can look at the artwork and tell where they’ve literally adapted the sharp toothed killer tomatoes to the weed plants on the cover. You can not literally tell me that here in America, where weed has just been legalized in two states with more to come; that people would not go to see a film about killer weed plants. Even if it was On Demand or direct to Netflix, people would pay to see something like this. I would definitely want to watch a film about killer weed plants. And it’s something that I know a few friends of mine would watch again and again and again. Someone needs to crowdfund it. They’re crowdfunding everything else these days…

(4Tracks, 12:00)
8/10

Broken Anatomy - The Lazarus Regret

Broken Anatomy – The Lazarus Regret (PR2014) – Despite the weird gothic and Hot Topic friendly comic book cover art, we’ve got an interesting atmospheric doom/death band quite similar to Hooded Menace. The sound quality is a bit raw, with ominous synths working well with the thundering doom riffs as the sound creates a feeling much darker and serious in tone than the cover art. This has to be the most bizarre cover that I’ve ever seen for a band of this type, but then again it’s the kind of thing that the uninformed teen may pick up and discover atmospheric doom/death. “Redemption In The City Of Death 10:26” doesn’t hit so hard however and it seems like the vocals are the reason for that. It sounds like J Mann from Mushroomhead jumped on the track and that doesn’t bode well with the music at all. What happened to the gravel and the rasps? Do you want me to re-record your vocals for you? Because I will. There are some nice little guitar melodies however, and the girl finally shuts up and gets back to her keyboard where she unleashes some fascinating sounds. But seriously, who’s idea for the gut-punch vocal? She tries some acoustics on “Standing At The Precipice 10:30” which deliver a bit better than the tough to hear production of the track (even though the vocals are better). As far as I can tell, the only tracks worth listening to on this album are the opener “The Count Of Groundsoaking Blood 10:25” and the closer “Waves Crashing Upon The Shores Of Discordia 14:02.”

But we have to talk. Seriously, we have to talk. First of all, the three tracks in the middle seem to just weaken the whole thing. One has a horrible vocal approach and you left it there when you’re capable of better, the instrumental piece was kind of weak and I could barely hear the second to the last track on the disc. She could have just made the intro “Prologus 1:27” open the disc, and then flow that into the other two tracks I mentioned as being the main highlights of the piece. This other stuff wasn’t needed – maybe the instrumental if you want. But that would give you time to get a snack out for people, let them get a taste of the project while you go back and refine those other songs. If that means that you have to go back and re-record a whole piece, then do it. You’ve obviously been practicing this material for years, so I’m sure that it wouldn’t take much time to give these other songs the treatment they deserve. You’re making atmospheric doom/death, there’s no need to try to attract the hardcore audience, at least until you feel safe enough in your own element. As far as I’ve seen, you need to refine “Standing At The Precipice 10:30” first. If it’s an old recording, re-record it. Don’t throw us demos unless you literally don’t remember how to play the material. I’ve re-recorded old shit and think it sounds much better than demo days by far. If you weren’t trying to attract the hardcore audience and you were just under the weather or something, then you shouldn’t have recorded the track at all. I’m in the process of recording an album right now and I WILL NOT record under any circumstances if I cannot give the material 100% of my ability. If that means sixteen tracks and I can’t even swallow the next day, then that’s what I’ll do. It’s already happened, it’ll probably happen again and that’s just part of the job. I can’t really say much about the instrumental, because it was decent, “safe” more or less. But you need to heighten the quality of the other tracks up to the point where they’re as strong as the highlights. I don’t care if you’re ten or forty. This is basic recording 101 and if you’re going to put out a record, be sure that it reflects you at your current strength. Give it the best that you possibly fucking can. Listen to it often, and criticize yourself even when others think it sounds good. I hear vocals in my music all of the time that I want to re-record twenty more times. But if I do that, the record will never get done. It just won’t happen. Furthermore, the album cover for this is atrocious. It doesn’t match the mood of the record at all and will totally not reach it’s targeted audience. I’m expecting emo/goth rock from this cover, to be honest. That isn’t the kind of image that you want to portray with the band is it? You’re going to have about ten thousand confused people and you don’t want that.

Broken Anatomy is certainly broken. But that doesn’t mean that with time and effort, the album can’t be fixed. I don’t care what kind of medium you want to put out in this world, never rush it out. EVER! Go back and think about every medium that was rushed out because of due dates: music, movies and of course video games that are usually always riddled with bugs because of deadlines. I know game designers and have told them several times to just take it easy and don’t rush to get the damn thing out. I’d rather play something that was fully polished then something that was put together in a slap-dash hurry. The mediums that we make in this world, are our mark on this world. They are what one or more individuals will be known for. Whether you like it or not, people will either respect or loathe you for what you’ve attributed to this planet. So keeping that in mind, be sure that what you put out in your name reflects the hard work that you put into it. Even if others don’t fucking like it, be sure that you know it’s a 100% “could not do any fucking better than that” job. And always, always strive for more. When you want to try harder with each and every item that you release, then you know you’re trying your absolute best. Doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Just as long as that shit is what you wanted it to be.

So I don’t recommend this album, but I do recommend that you hear the tracks I’ve mentioned, so that you can understand exactly what I’m talking about. Further reinforcement and positive encouragement entails better effort. Even negative encouragement works. But I can understand what’s going on here and this doesn’t sound like a case of “artist does not care.” It’s more like a case of “artist was in a hurry.” At any rate, I hope the artist/s will take my advice and really go back to work on this. Shouldn’t no more than a couple of months to get it refined.

Highlights: The Count Of Groundsoaking Blood, Waves Crashing Upon The Shores Of Discordia (6 Tracks, 51:00)
4/10

Nebelung - Palingenesis

Nebelung – Palingenesis (PR2014) – Nebelung is a three-piece folk group who succeeds in making the same kind of music that bands like Vali produce. The sound itself is mostly in the vein of dreary acoustics, yet there is a subtle beauty to the whole thing; like that of a night sky. For the most part, things are quite dim and melancholy, but the opener “Mittwinter 6:01” adds some light vocals and tribal drumming to the mix. The next two songs made for the world’s most depressing night, as “Polaris 7:11” sees the return of light vocal inflections and the light use of shakers to produce a percussion element to the music. A bit of light vocalizing comprises the beginning of album closer “Innerlichkeit 9:21” which could definitely become the soundtrack of a tear jerker. There are about a thousand depressing scenes that I could put with this one and I do think that it could drive those with suicidal thoughts to the commission of the act. It’s quite sullen to be honest, my eyes are literally watering as I hear it. But the song does manage to build with some acoustics and that helps to liven the track just a little.

Nebelung are certainly not for the suicidal or morbidly depressed. They make exponentially dark and dreary, yet enlightening music that like I said; embodies the perfect vision of a night sky. It’s actually quite relaxing and peaceful, but most will consider it very depressing and won’t be able to stomach it. But that’s fine as these three clearly know what they’re doing and they’ve done a presentable job of it. It’s worth picking up if you’re aware of the style of music and not heavily medicated due to depression or other mental symptoms. Yes, it really is that depressing folks, but it’s a welcome sadness… like a gentle air in the night.

Highlights: Midwinter, Polaris, Innerlichkeit (6 Tracks, 50:00)
7/10

Mantar - Death By Burning

Mantar – Death By Burning (PR2014) – This two man project sounds a little bit like Converge, but with a much sludgier and experimental sound. The vocal approach on the album is definitely influenced by metalcore, while the riffs seem rather thick, with loads of thumping bass and stoner/rock atmospheres. These guys aren’t afraid to experiment a little, making each track on the album come off a bit different than the others; yet still staying within the same guidelines. I don’t know about tracks as a whole, but certain sections of tracks come off quite promising, like the fierce atmospherics of “Into The Golden Abyss 3:43” for example. But the real meat of this band is in their drummer. No matter what the frontman does, it’s the kit that really shines and does a heck of a lot more than just keeping the band afloat. I’m guessing that one of these guys does the guitar and vocals, while another handles the drums and possibly even the bass. But it wouldn’t matter if the vocalist handled all of the guitar work and vocals on the album; because the drums really kick this album into gear, with post metal and even black metal-ish prowess. Yes, there are certain times where this gentleman believes himself to be in Immortal and punishes the kit exceedingly when doing so.

Mantar isn’t the best post metalcore act that I’ve heard, but for fans of scathing post-metalcore mayhem like Converge, you might like the slower-pace of this brooding yet still volatile act. They’ve definitely got some interesting things to showcase, but I just don’t know if this one is really my kind of thing. However, if you do like this kind of music, be sure to check Mantar out for yourself.

(10Tracks, 44:00)
7/10

Embryonic Devourment - Reptilian Agenda

Embryonic Devourment – Reptilian Agenda (PR2014) – Already considered album of the year by a friend, I’m going to have to dig through this monster in order to find out why it has such high regards. Embryonic Devourment have already proved themselves on their last disc, so I’m sure that this album will be just as strong. So let’s break down this reptilian conspiracy, shall we?

When I first started the disc, I was greeted by the high precision of technical death metal. Now it’s rare that a tech-death disc these days does so well, but I’m certainly feeling album opener “Challenging Forms Of All Hope 3:57” (even though the intro music was ripped from a low quality stream) as the drums seem to pummel throughout the track, while the guitar riffs execute complex mathematical equations. The frontman seems to be one of the best contributions to the band however, as he launches forth vocals that definitely seem like they could have come from out of the mouth of an eight foot tall lizard creature (if you believe David Icke. He seems right on most things, but I don’t buy the reptilian conspiracy personally.) at any rate, the song is proficient. “Masonic Angeldust 3:24” starts with what I think is a quote from David Icke (though it’s still a little rough in the mix, should be brought up as high as the vocals) while it entertains Atheist-like atmospheres with the obvious injection of fierce growls. Yes, they’re clearly playing Atheist riffs, but Atheist are great; so let’s not knock them for it. “Reptilliphiliac 2:48” comes right off the heels of the last track, the disc starting to feel like one gigantic tech-death track. Once again, the drummer truly delivers here; making for a memorable piece as a solo finally injects itself in. Some of the melodies seem to get lost in the mix, but you can tell that the effort is there. “Experimental Deformation 2:43” comes next, with a nice showcase of melody at the beginning. I don’t like the dual vocal approach and feel that the other vocal element is not needed in the track. Embryonic Devourment prove that they’ve got plenty to offer with the little bits of ear candy throughout this piece and I think that it’s only a matter of time before they explode into the mainstream tech-death scene. “Sufffer The Seas Of Gore 4:25” delivers on machine-gun drum promises, while gentle melodies help to further accentuate the track as mathematical equations get hammered out further on the track. It might go on for a bit too long however, as I found myself becoming a bit bored towards the latter half. “Sealed With Resin 5:03” begins with what sounds like chisels and tribal chants. A Behemoth approach opens the track with a garbage mouthed vocal. A guitar solo that sounds like it was played in a hall escapes from out of the woodwork, as the brutal death metal treatment continues. Another set of melodies come in later to the piece, which sound a bit like Nile. That certainly separates this track from the others. I love the name of this next track, “Whilst The Rich Dine 4:04” as it pounds right on through familiar soundscapes. The disc ends with “Bloodgift 3:38” which just sounds like bashing drums, familiar tech-death riffs and growl vocals. Kind of the same thing throughout the disc.

I wanted to like this disc, but I just don’t feel that it works for me. I like tech-death sometimes, but the disc really seems sort of brainless with it’s constant drum pummeling and death growls. There are great guitar ideas here and there, but I just don’t think this compares to their last record, which I liked a whole lot more. They’re really overdoing the tech-death here, playing many overused Obscura and Atheist riffs as they unload with plenty of time signatures and a Necrophagist pace. The disc is only thirty minutes, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for greatness; yet there’s not much here that I haven’t heard already done better like with Wormed, for example. They pound, pound, pound to the fucking ground of that I’m certain; but I feel that the entire album was just on fast-forward and I really never got to soak anything in. It just sort of blazed by this time, just like it did on my earbuds the first time I listened to it. Nevertheless, these guys do showcase some semblance of talent and uniqueness, but it sounds like they’re trying to be the next Obscura or Quo Vadis. I honestly don’t know what happened between the last disc and this one, but I feel like I’m hearing two completely different bands. Nevertheless, a friend of mine says that it’s his album of the year; so if you’re apt to check it out anyway, please do. It’s decent enough and I’m sure that there’s an audience of people out there who will enjoy it. But The Reptilian Agenda just not my thing and I take as much stock into it as I do the actual reptilian conspiracy. I’d chalk it up to greed, not giant alien monsters.

(8Tracks, 30:00)
7/10

Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies - Earth Air Spirit Water Fire

Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies – Earth, Air, Spirit, Water, Fire (PR2014) – A very experimental form of progressive rock, Selim Lemouchi and Robby Geerings make some rather interesting and otherworldly sounds on each of these five tracks. And there are loads of other people working along with them as session musicians, but I don’t have time to get into each and every one of those fine people. Just know that Selim Lemouchi and all of his enemies actually worked together to make this disc what it is. And yes, I’ll definitely have to break this one down for you.

The album begins with the post metal riffs of “Chiaroscuro 10:51” which fill with a progressive style vocal and a backing sort of high pitched acrobatic in the background that makes the piece sound hypnotic. It’s quite powerful, like a heavier Pink Floyd or Yes and that works for me already. As the song winds down, (and trust me, you’re going to feel like you’re in a bad part of Wonderland by the time this one is over) strange sounds seem to elicit from the track, like a trailing shadow. “Next Stop Universe B 3:31” then begins, with a definite nod to the old school of prog. This song is a little shorter, even something of a single. It definitely plays around with the style and form of the 60’s prog-rock heyday, yet there is also some spatial mist effects which certainly make these gentlemen seem like they’re singing on a spaceship headed for a new cosmos. A trail also emanates from this one and I’m beginning to see a pattern. “The Deep Dark Waters 11:16” really does seem to have a sort of oceanic vibe, with light melodies merely sitting on top of the lightly pulsating drums. There’s also a bit of keyboard effects on the piece which help to give it the same otherworldly nature. Selim’s vocal lines come across just as clean as they did on the first two songs, but with a bit of reverberation which helps to demonstrate the atmosphere of the piece. A classy solo helps to give a jump to the piece right near the end and I welcome it greatly. It’s not something that I expected, but I’m certainly glad to hear it. “The Ghost Of Valentine Part IV 7:09” is next, as it serves as a mere atmospheric effect. A long atmospheric effect, probably the sort of thing that will make you temporarily leave your body. Drums fire up the album’s closer “Molasses 13:19” which is a 100% progressive rock tour-de-force with spacey keyboards, progressive rock riffs and the whole nine yards. Female vocals also appear on the track, as the song slows to allow Frida Lemouchi to express the lyrics with a firm grace. Prog solos aplenty as the song changes into that of an LSD influenced affair that might just make you high by listening to it.

Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies are certainly worth checking out if you’re a prog rock fan. Their song structures are quite intriguing, as are the amount of different styles that they employ throughout the record. It’s definitely a decent album that any prog rock fan should enjoy, but it doesn’t completely rewrite the genre either. Selim and crew do what they’re good at and it comes off rather well on this album. Once again, give it a shot if you’re looking for some classic prog-rock with a modern touch.

(5Tracks, 56:00)
7/10

Various Artists - Warfare Noise

Various Artists – Warfare Noise (PR2014) – This is a 2014 reissue and remaster of a 1986 four way split between four legendary thrash acts: Chakal, Sarcofago, Mutilator and Holocausto. Each band had two songs on the split, some of them with lyrics and others that were purely instrumental.

Chakal starts it off with “Cursed Cross 5:48” and it’s break-neck approach to thrash which features aggressive drumming, fierce thrash licks and scathing vocals. It’s a great way to open the disc. “Mr. Jesus Christ 4:43” takes a slower approach, though it still manages to unleash some powerful thrash portions in the song in addition to a little solo piece. Overall, the job is quite solid.

Mutilator is up next with “Believers Of Hell 2:57” which seems to run along the same lines as Chakal. The guitarist utilizies some thick riffs, while the drummer bashes the living hell out of the kit and the frontman uses an almost gravel style approach. It’s almost death thrash – almost. There’s a bit of a groove section and a flying solo to end it all out. But then there’s “Nuclear Holocaust 3:30” which definitely assures me of the death metal influences in the band. The drummer again, is a fucking madman and the vocal scats on the piece seem to work well with the whole package. Sepultura might have gotten some influence from this. Definitely memorable and so far, the best band on the split.

Sarcofago come right after, and this is my first time ever hearing these legends. They get talked about by many bands of both the past and present, so it’s a fact that they’ve definitely been a major influence on many acts throughout the years. Their part of the split begins with “Recrucify 2:33” which has now been separated from “The Black Vomit 2:33.” This intro is unimaginably interesting, and I see where they get their reputation from. The man is literally screaming at the top of his fucking lungs, like he’s being tortured to death. Then of course begins the actual song, and I can see where 9/10 of the blackened thrash acts got their start. I can also hear the Venom influence, even though the frontman spits his lyrics with a definite pre-black metal shriek, as the drummer does his best to make the kit as upset as humanly possible. They even give King Diamond a nod on this one. These guys are great. “Satanas 2:03” is next, beginning with a rasp and a high pitched shriek. And from listening to this one, I can definitely tell where most of black metal in general came from. The vocals on this guy are quite fantastic; he’s so dreadfully fucking evil. Though a short song, it shows the power of these guys and I’m definitely interested in checking out their old work now. And the King Diamond at the end is most welcome. Best band on the split by far.

Holocausto ends the split with the death/thrash nature of “Destruicao Nuclear 3:20” which slows to almost a crawl, as it once again regains speed and does very much what you’d expect. The lyrics are also spat out quickly. “Escarro Napalm 3:11” ends the disc in very much the same fashion. While Holocausto have their moments, they didn’t seem to really leave much of an impression here.

This four-way split is history if nothing else. Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of the classics, or just want to get educated. The Sarcafago stuff is by far the best in my opinion and I’d definitely recommend it for that. It’s great to see that the classics are coming back again and I hope that the young heads will embrace this stuff. But that probably won’t happen. At any rate, it’s certainly worth a listen.

(9Tracks, 30:00)
8/10

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