Barely got this one out, folks. I was out this weekend with friends, so I had to rush a bit. But at any rate, it’s completed and I’ve even added a 16th album this time around. I had to cover the two (vinyl rip) LP’s from Boris Records, so those increased the count by one. Mord A’ Stigmata was also supposed to be reviewed a while back, so I jumped on that and it was worth the effort to review. One of 2014’s best for sure.
Mord A’ Stigmata – Ansia (PR2014 SPOTLIGHT) – The third album from these black metal experimentalists is definitely something unexpected, as per the norm. Ever since the band’s debut album, they’ve always gone above and beyond in terms of experimentation, further blurring the lines between black metal and something else… At any rate, this disc only has five tracks, yet still clocks in at almost fifty minutes of music; so there’s definitely a great deal of material and musical structure offered within the piece.
The disc opens with “Inkaust 13:54” which begins the album in an avant-black style complete with a bit of aggressive drumming and harsh vocal work. So far, so good. Then of course, the track builds into atmosphere which to some might be too much; but I strongly doubt that those “some” would be listening to a band like Mord A’ Stigmata if they didn’t like that sort of thing in the first place. Seriously folks, this things drones on for quite a bit to welcome (well, I don’t want to say clean) a sort of stressed vocal style that almost reeks of funeral doom. Towards the end of the song, the drums give the disc a jumpy; almost modern metal edge while the harsh vocals seem to take the stage. It almost reminds me of the death metal sections of doom/death and steps far from the realms of black metal. The song fades out towards the end however and I don’t care for that. Yes, there’s a nice atmosphere piece utilized; but it makes me think that I’ll have to go see the band live, just so that I can hear the entire song. I’ve always hated when bands do things like this. Perhaps a live version will appear on YouTube, so I can at least hear how the piece was supposed to have ended. “Shattered Vertebrae Of The Zodiac 10:16” sounds much like the previous piece, but it seems like some Enslaved influence got in to the track, with light proggy melodies and fierce harsh scowls working in tandem with each other. As with the previous song, you’ve got your highs and lows; but this track is particularly removed from the heaviness as a sort of trippy vibe sets forth, yet this vibe is also something very crystalline; very memorable. Electronics soon come into play amidst some more drum acrobatics (the drums aren’t amazingly technical on the piece, but they do a great job of tying everything together) and this whole spatial vibe. Truth be told, it sounds kinda nice.
“Pregressed 12:28” is next and it manages to brings some fear into the album with its eerie riff melodies, slight air of dread and some serious drum hammering. So far, this is the heaviest that I’ve heard the band on this disc, yet there is still some spatial guitar work going into the piece that allows it some breathing room. Towards the end of the song, things get really proggy however and they end it out with a dystopian soundscape. And the good news is, that’s the last of the long tracks on this disc. The next piece is called “Praefatio Pro Defunctis 8:08” and it offers a much thicker approach with more kit abuse (yet still the spatial prog melodies) and the harsh vocals that we should all be familiar with by now. I guess I could describe this album as a meteor shower of sorts; it’s beautiful, yet extremely volatile at the same time – definitely a work of art in any sense. And I’ll add that the Enslaved influences that these guys incorporated are actually working better for them than they did for Enslaved, (who I believe had a sort of identity crisis on Riitiir) so that’s a major plus. “Ansia 2:22” ends the album with a light, but ghostly atmosphere; something truly otherworldly that sounds like it belongs on this album. A weird effect which resembles some kind of etheric scratching seems to close out the disc completely; making you wish that you had the lyrics and could understand what this album was about.
Ansia is definitely a work of art. Though the band don’t stray from the formula too awful much, they manage to create some sort of ethereal space black metal that doesn’t come off sounding hokey. This is something that you really have to sit down and listen to in one go. There’s no pause for refreshments. It’s a metal disc that is also not very metal in some instances; but it’s that type of experimenting that we’ve known from Mord A’ Stigmata to be worthwhile when all is said and done. Three albums into their career and they’ve yet to stumble. I definitely recommend that you check this one out.
(5 Tracks, 47:00)
Daggers – Daggers (PR2014) – I don’t know much about these guys, as I just got a punky cover with a drawing of a guy who’s got his finger up his nose on the front. But yes, this is definitely punk. I’m not too familiar with punk music, so you’ll have to excuse me. I’ve got a Bad Religion CD that I thought was pretty good, so that’s about as far as I got into the genre. For the most part, we’ve got surf melodies, light drumming and a vocalist who sounds like he’s singing in the corner. It’s not very violent and seems relatively light. Hate to make this one short, but I’m not really hearing anything all that special from these guys, especially the light Buddy Holly ballad at the end of this disc, “Danger Days”. They know how to make catchy choruses and succeed in making solid punk music. I’ve heard better however, so I’m not sure how much I’d recommend it. I’m definitely up to review more punk bands though, so if you’ve got something you want me to check out; then I’ll give it a shot. I do wish these guys the best of luck however.
Highlights: Under Attack (6 Tracks, 15:00)
Pyramido – Saga (PR2014) – Not much with this one, just the songs and that’s about it. But no matter, because I’ve already given you enough information to check out this band and album if you’re interested via the emboldened text. Now as to what kind of band Pyramido is, I’m definitely starting to feel post metal sentiments from the album’s first track, “Varje Steg Är Ett Snedsteg 7:16.” What we’ve got are thick riffs, with drumming that feels just as thick and a harsh vocal approach from a gentleman who seems to be royally pissed off about something. Either that, or Pyramido was suggested as part of his anger management course. As you can expect, all of the lyrics are in the band’s native tongue; but that’s never stopped us before. The atmosphere is still quite present and quite vehement. Skipping ahead, I find that the next track “År Av Onåd 7:45 doesn’t quite go right into the anger, but it certainly appears. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t seem to offer much more in this track; aside from the vocal effort. It’s much like the new Indian album, but not quite as ferocious. “Fosie 5:06” has an interesting beginning, but it brings me more of the same. I will say that it does get pretty heated in places though. “Klockrike 3:19” however does offer me something different. Perhaps there’s hope for these guys yet. The odd electronic soundscapes and light drumming offered on this piece makes me think that this might do well if mixed in with the band’s post-metal leanings. And why not? Something different with this genre would be most welcome. Damn, this one comes as a breath of fresh air with its victorious vibe. I feel like I’ve just finished a game and am listening to the music from the end credits. The next track “Ingen Människa Är En Ö 6:57” actually goes thicker into the punishing doom riffs, as it tries to offer a bit more substance and manages to shine much more than the past few songs on this record have. But I think it might just be a bit too long and takes a bit to warm up. But this is much better, guys. The last track is “Tiden Är Kommen 7:16” which continues with the post/doom sound and doesn’t offer much more than I’ve already heard. That pretty much sums up the album.
Pyramido are a decent enough post/doom/sludge act that should definitely appeal to fans, but I just don’t think they really stand out from other acts in their genre. It’s alright, but aside from the vocal performances; it’s pretty bad when the only song I really found interesting was the instrumental electronic piece. It’s kind of an insult to Pyramido to post that as a highlight, so I won’t. But they’ve got some promise at least. I just would like to hear a bit more, something different, unique and out of the box. They’ve already proven that they can do just that with “Klockricke” so maybe it’s just a matter of time before they start playing around with things a bit more. But who knows, they might just go back and make another Saga under a different name.
(6 Songs, 38:00)
Sceptre – Age Of Calamity (PR2014) – Scepter is a metalcore act with elements of technicality and thrash. There are even slight hints of prog if you listen closely enough. The album is not all that long, but it seems to consist of the same formula throughout – metalcore riffs with a slight air of prog/technicality, drums that either thrash or maintain the tempo of the song and a frontman who seems to do a mix of yell and shout. It’s the common metalcore formula, albeit with some surprising structural elements that keep the band interesting and help Sceptre to differentiate themselves from their peers. The band does like to thrash as I’ve noted and there are at times some worthy thrash sections on the disc. These guys are by no means run of the mill, but they still have a bit to go as far as their sound is concerned. I do think that tracks like “Lake Of The Traitor 4:51” and the thrashy “7 Seals 4:21” help to show this band’s mass amount of potential, but they’ve yet to make this technical progressive metalcore thrash with elements of the Gothenburg scene truly meld in the way that it should.
Nevertheless, I’m quite sure that Sceptre will find a large fan base and following for this effort and because of that I can’t quite give it a mediocre 5 or even an alright 6. This is something a bit better than that, as these guys manage to provide a decent, almost solid attempt of the several genres that they’ve here melded and with just a bit more experience under their belts; I feel that the band will be capable of creating something truly memorable. Folks, there’s something here but I can’t put my damn finger on it. So I want you to do that for me. Give the album a listen and see if you’re also hearing what I’m hearing on this disc, that certain “thing” that separates them from the umpteen million metalcore acts there are already out there. Because I’m hearing something more on Age Of Calamity. I just don’t think it’s all there yet. Give them time and I think that Sceptre will be a household name. I’m technically giving this record a 7.5, but since I can’t actually use the point system anymore (due to risk of abusing it) the album’s score will remain at a 7. At any rate, keep in mind that the effort here is almost to the level of a solid disc and it’s worth checking out if you’re interested. Sceptre is not there yet. But they will be.
Highlights: Lake Of The Traitor, 7 Seals, Parasites Of The State, Lest We Forget (Bonus Track) (10 Tracks, 38:00)
Suicidal Angels – Divide And Conquer (PR2014) – Suicidal Angels is a thrash act, if you’re not already aware; and this disc already starts out memorable with “Marching Over Blood 3:35.” The formula for thrash that I love is all here, with the meaty drums, hungry guitars and angered vocals. There’s a little bit of technicality in the riffs, but it works for them. So far, the drummer’s performance seems to be the strongest and that’s just fine with me; because I love banging my head to fierce thrash drumming like with current-era Testament and Exodus and these guys offer that… when they’re not playing Metallica riffs. These guys like to borrow a lot of classic styles on the disc, but even if the Metallica influenced riffing on “Seed Of Evil 6:57” seems a bit haphazard, can you really deny that they’ve done a good job incorporating this style and making it their own? Are you really going to deny that guitar solo? I didn’t think so. And come on… when has Metallica sounded that good lately? Next the band plays with Slayer on “Divide And Conquer 3:07” which sees the frontman trying to be Tom Araya on the vocals and that’s just fucking fine. The song manages to kick up enough structure that it doesn’t sound like a complete rip-off, so there’s a plus. “Control The Twisted Mind 6:57” begins with piano and acoustics, but then launches off into something that sounds a bit more to the band’s speed. Though it is nice to hear them experimenting. They attempt atmosphere on this track and it does manage to give the song a bit more structure, however I think I would have been happier to hear a slew of proficient solo efforts. “In The Grave 5:23” throws in groove elements and edges towards hardcore. It packs quite a punch however and I like the Chuck Schuldiner vocal growl that the frontman attempts here. Things jump right into Slayer next, as solos serenade the piece on its way out. It’s a memorable effort.
On the next half of the album we’ve got “Terror Is My Scream 3:12” which is a Slayer track by another name. It even has a trademark solo effort. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess. “Pit Of Snakes 4:29” reminds me of Sepultura with a bit of Slayer injection. “Kneel To The Gun 3:54” brings back the groove for a minute as it then goes right into Slayer riffs. Slayer solo too. Song ends on the grooves and doesn’t really make that much of a mark. Drums seem to power right into “Lost Dignity 3:29” and damn, someone needs to take this guitarist to riff-jail for utilizing too many of those damned Slayer riffs. They pull some gallops out of their pocket later in the piece and these help to give the song some more meat, but it’s still got a Slayer solo. And some of these solos are so short that it makes me ill. Why a play a solo if you’re only going to play a few seconds of one? The disc ends with “White Wizard 8:49” and being that this is the longest song on the disc; I’m expecting a great deal of structural precision. And yeah, that’s more or less what I get. It seems to offer everything that has been showcased on the album – the grooves, the Slayer riffs, and the one and done solos; but then there’s a slight moment of misty guitar atmosphere that launches right back into groove where the song ends.
Well, Suicidal Angels can play thrash; but they just don’t seem to be quite as memorable as other thrash acts that I’ve heard. If you remember the Tower blog, a gentleman threw a slew of thrash bands on me; so I got to hear several different varieties of both interesting and bland thrash acts. These guys seem to rank just in the middle of those. They like their Slayer and their Metallica and perhaps even some hardcore along the way. They play their solos quick for the most part, which I cannot stand. The only song with a memorable solo was “Seed Of Evil” and everything else was just kind of rushed in that department. Again, why play solos if you’re not going to them justice? When all is said and done I can’t say too many great things about Suicidal Angels. The first half of the disc is marginally stronger than the last, leaving me with a middle of the road expectation. The bottom line is that it’s alright and I wouldn’t really recommend it, unless you’re a huge fan of the band or a diehard thrasher.
Highlights: Marching Over Blood, Seed Of Evil, In The Grave (10 Tracks, 49:00)
Skull Fist – Chasing The Dream (PR2014) – Skull Fist is a modern heavy metal band with influences in bands like Iron Maiden, Holy Grail, Helloween and even Motley Crue. But whether you like them or not will depend on how you like your metal, as the opener “Hour To Live 4:18” is more like the Maiden, and it’s follow-up “Bad For Good 4:26” is more like the Crue, maybe even Whitesnake. The vocalist has a voice like glass and he’s still young, so hopefully we’ll be treated to this classic approach for a few years before he gets old and it doesn’t sound quite as good as it does here. “Chasing The Dream 3:18” sounds more like classic power metal, whereas “Call Of The Wild 4:28” brings back the Maiden influence, but this time lays it on thick. Glorious solos fill the track as well, offering a genuine classic metal experience. The album itself even has a misty production quality which makes it sound like it could have released in the 80’s. Without going through the whole thing, I’ll just say that these guys have managed to capture the spirit of 80’s metal and wrap it up into a little thirty-six minute disc. Yeah, we’ve heard all this before; but there’s no denying that it’s been done justice. It’s been done right. If you haven’t heard classic metal before and you need this gateway drug, or perhaps you just want to see how well a bunch of young guys can do after they’ve made a pact with the devil and managed to channel the spirits of some of the long dead greats; then this album is for you. Of course, what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn’t mention the solo-tastic “Shred’s Not Dead 2:53”? With each track, Skull Fist proves that they’ve got what it takes to bring the sounds of both classic and hair metal out of their hoary crypts. Definitely recommended.
Highlights: How To Live, Bad For Good, Call Of The Wild, You’re Gonna Pay, Shred’s Not Dead, Mean Street Rider (9 Tracks, 36:00)
Uvikra – Fulfill Thee (PR2014) – As you may know, the last album from this Lithuanian Doom/Sludge act did not do so well on the old Grim Tower blog. But something happened between then and now (even though the guitars are still emulated) and I have to point it out as a welcome change. Though short, Fulfill Thee attempts to mix 60’s prog rock with doom/death/sludge metal. It’s not something I’ve ever heard before, so I was definitely taken aback by it. Loikav isn’t the greatest clean singer, but the effort is there and I’ll consider it. His harsh vocal gravel sounds just fine, however. “Invisible Wall 4:31” channels the 60’s prog perfectly, as “Full Circle 3:55” seems to play with folk rock. There’s still quite a bit of doom here however, and I do like the catchy melody near the end of the piece. “Conditional Hell 3:08” sounds like a ghost singing the blues, albeit with some other odd influences. There’s no metal to note, but it makes for an interesting atmosphere. “Raped By Life 3:38” features more of the doom/death and it kind of drones a little, but they can’t all be perfect; right? “Turning Wheels 3:20” sounds like hypnotic rock that builds into weird death metal. These riffs are very obscure, but they seem to work. “Chasing The Wind 4:01” has the same hypnotic effect, but tends to lean towards acoustics and a sort of distressed clean vocal which work well for the piece. It’s done quite well. “Episodic 5:19” mixes those acoustics in with the death metal and still some odd melodies. Again, this whole thing just sounds odd and that’s what I like so much about it. Yeah, you could say he’s playing a little off-key in areas; but that makes it sound different. The last track here is “As It Stands 5:25” which brings back the death metal and adds some atmosphere, but it’s nothing truly memorable.
Uvikra managed to surprise me with this one. While I wish that Loikav would use a real electric guitar instead of a program, Fulfill Thee is still done well enough and shows that he’s got an old acoustic somewhere that he likes to fiddle around sometimes. The acoustic, blues and rock sections of the disc are quite interesting, yet also weird and oblong at times; which make for an interesting album. I definitely recommend that you check this one out as I haven’t really heard anything like it before.
Highlights: Invisible Wall, Full Circle, Conditional Hell, Turning Wheels, Chasing The Wind, Episodic (8 Tracks, 33:00)
Aesthetic Perfection – Til’ Death (PR2014) – I have been waiting patiently to review this as I’ve been so defiled by the experience that I’ve got to tell you how utterly frustrating it was to listen to. But no biases, folks. To be honest, I’m a big fan of electronic music in the darkwave approach which is what Aesthetic Perfection was trying to do. Taking a cut from Depeche Mode and putting it into modern terms. Sounds alright, until you realize that they found the whiniest vocalist in the world to front this thing. This guy’s so bad that he makes me not even want to listen to electronic music anymore. And that’s horrible, because as I’ve said; I’m quite a fan of it and you’ve yet to see the stuff I haven’t been able to review here yet due to time constraints (well over a hundred albums, plan on working on it this month with five-sentence reviews). I’m reminded of Klayton from Celldweller on this one, but I’d definitely recommend Celldweller over this. Alright, “Antibody 4:20” is catchy enough and the guy tries to scream a bit more than is needed (which doesn’t work for the type of electronic music these guys play) but other than that, it’s not my thing. Take “Lights Out (Ready To Go) 4:25” for example. Maybe if I was a teeny-bopper I’d like that one. But here I’m not so shaken. “Death Rattle 4:23” is what happens if you take a band like Hinder and replace their guitars and drums with electronics. “Big Bad Wolf 4:36” reminds me of Electronic HIM, yet I’d prefer Ville Vallo to this guy. Same can be said for “Showtime 5:01.” Just not digging it. “Oh, Gloria! 4:54” doesn’t do much for me either… is a new Cruxshadows album coming out anytime soon? But I will admit the chorus on this one is a bit of an earworm. “The Dark Half 4:42” features more of what I think is the wimpiest harsh vocal that I’ve ever heard. It sounds like this guy has never done a harsh vocal in his life. Is Grendel still available to teach him? “The New Black 4:30” sounds like something I’d expect for fake Goths to check out, the new trend; not the old school. I was wearing all black while listening to Voltaire and Black Tape For A Blue Girl; when you were still listening to Good Charlotte and My Chemical Romance. The last track on here is “Lovesick 4:45” can I can’t deny the Cruxshadows influence here, but I’d prefer them to this and they’ve already got seven great records of material like this to check out. But it’s much better.
Well, my verdict is simple. I’m not new-Goth and I won’t dig this. While I love the look of the new-Goths, (you mostly see these attractive looking women dressed up in all black and skull earrings with green or blue hair – women I would never have had a chance with in high school had they not been goth, mind you) my tastes go back a little deeper. Did anyone catch The Cure’s Pornography? How about Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s Halo Star? Voltaire’s Almost Human? What about everything by the Cruxshadows? I guess I’m getting old. But if this album appeals to you, please go back and check those ones out. Please, I’m begging you. And definitely check out The Cure’s Bloodflowers too. That’s an amazing disc. But this is an act from Metropolis Records and they used to have some great Goth/Darkwave acts. I don’t know what happened. Don’t tell me that Goth is dead yet. I remember when The New Sound Of Goth came out almost fifteen ago. Is there now going to be a The New New Sound Of Goth to come in the future? I think I’ll just have to pass on that one.
Highlights: Antibody, Lovesick (10 Tracks, 44:00)
Anarchos – Descent Into The Maelstrom EP (PR2014) – Next, we’ve got a short death metal disc from Anarchos. It begins with a thrilling performance of “Anointing Of The Sick 5:56” which shows the band’s Swedish death metal influences done justice. One of these guys is wearing an Entombed shirt and I can hear the Entombed influence. It makes sense. The song has a surprising amount of structure and doesn’t resort to relentless kit abuse, though the drums do take a thick pounding. “Morbid Ways To Decay 4:35” continues to showcase the razor sharp riffs of the act, but the gravel from the frontman seems like it’s enshrouded in a bit of fog. This doesn’t help the act unfortunately, but the fact that these guys lay on some thick instrumentation does. There’s also a little melody that plays on the track, but they don’t seem to be a band that utilizes much melody. These guys revel in the Grave/Hypocrisy/Entombed sound for sure. “The Great Black Death 2:15” actually sounds quite dirty and incorporates a fair amount of groove. The band comes off viciously on this track, so it’s definitely set apart from the others. “Saggeburt 5:02” takes a while to warm up, but once the doom settles, melodic technicality decorates the raspy growl approach of the frontman. The disc ends with “Tales Of The Mutilated Remains 4:44” which offers another up dose of classic death metal. There’s nothing really more to say about it, it’s solid.
Anarchos offer a decent enough effort on the disc. I don’t think it’s amazing, but it shows a band that does what they came to do. They play classic death metal and that’s what’s offered here. It’s got enough structure to not become a bore and it’s got some definite nods to the greats. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but no one asked them to either. It’s a strong effort that’s worth checking out if you like your death metal classic.
Amputated – Digest, Molest, Ingest (PR2014) – Amputated is a technical brutal death metal band, but they’re not so technical as to lose the flow of the gore-infused death splatter that they’ve created on this disc. As you can expect, the songs offer little in the way of overall variation; it’s just about machine-gun drum blasts, gravel that also encases rasp and death riffs that we’ve heard time and again, but this time with the added element of technicality. The record is fine for what it is, but I haven’t really noticed anything all that special within it. There’s no guitar solos or any sort of memorable riff changes or structural nodes. It’s more or less a big glob of red meat that hasn’t yet been put into the pan yet to cook. There’s a lot of groove riffs in the piece however and it works well if you’re looking for something to listen to while you’re in the act of lifting weights or performing strenuous physical labor, but other than that, I don’t see it being all that special. But if you love this kind of muscle-work music, then definitely give it a shot.
Shroud Of The Heretic – Revelations In Alchemy LP (PR2014) – Yes, there’s a great big pyramid and eye design on the album’s front cover. But don’t think that I’m just going to consider these guys “Illuminati” because of this symbol. Because I know that symbols are taken from places and used for other things. The Illuminati didn’t come up with the pyramid and eye design, I’m sure it’s quite older than they are and I’m also sure that they have no idea as to what in the fuck it really stands for. For example, if we get a bunch of the so-called elite into one room and a bunch of actual practicing occultists in the other; I’m quite sure that they would be running for the door, pissing their pants and/or finding devotion in the Jesus Christ. That’s just what it boils down to, a bunch of monkeys with no real clue as to what the symbols they use mean as in the terms of magick, true occultism. And if they did find out exactly what these symbols meant, they’d be quick to print a new dollar quite quickly, with the pyramid and eye symbol removed.
Now as far as Shroud Of The Heretic go, we’ve got several “hand drawn” alchemical signs on the front cover, which I would certainly hope that the gentlemen in the band could accurately describe, lest I would be quite upset with them. I would never use a symbol on an album cover or in the booklet, nor in any photo that I couldn’t discern the meaning of. But I’m sure that you’re all tired of me rambling about an album cover, especially when I haven’t mentioned a word about the album itself yet. Basically, what we’ve got here is a very dark piece of work; something that seems to mix the thickest of death metal along with the most grim sections of doom metal. The idea of the record seems to be “great dark ritual” which they’ve done justice to with a misty production value and hugely fuzzy doom riffs that drone to create atmosphere. Occasionally, they use their leads to create hypnotic atmospheres (something I’ve always thought was interesting) and you could compare them to Portal in that aspect. Of course, you don’t get much else with this formula, unless that is entirely what you’re looking for. They sometimes slow things down to create more atmosphere, which is what you can expect for this lesson in atmospheric doom/death.
There is a song on here by the name of “Illuminism 7:13” but I’m not going to take too much stock into it. Even though this whole Illuminati thing seems like an occult revival, which I think is a good thing because it’s time that mankind started searching beyond the answers of religion to find some truths about himself. Problem is, the 1984 shit comes as a packaged deal. You can’t get the occult revival without the 1984 Orwellian shit, which is the only thing I have against the whole movement to be honest. I mean hell, these guys won’t even be able to play this fucking kind of music if the New World Order thing goes down, they’ll have a whole bunch of robot soldiers shoot them all to death because music of any form will be banned. So that’s one reason I won’t support this shit. And thought police? Fuck that. Maybe these guys saw something else in here that I didn’t see, maybe they just don’t care and wanted to write an occult album because they thought it would be interesting, or maybe they just haven’t done enough research into the greedy scumbag elite.
Whatever the case, the album is a solid piece of material that should appeal to fans of slow and brooding death metal with thick elements of doom and some slight hypnotic and ethereal effects. They’re not going to compete with Portal, but it’s still worth checking out if you’ve worn out your copy of Vexovoid. But there’s always Hooded Menace or Aevangelist as well. Yet there’s still the case that you’re tired of all those bands and want to check these guys out. So do that.
Voidhanger – Working Class Misanthropy (PR2014) – I have to say that this album title is one of the most interesting I’ve heard in quite a bit. I’m part of the working class, and misanthropy translates as basically “someone who hates people, more or less humanity in general.” So it seems to refer to just being pissed off at everyone if you’re in the working class. It couldn’t be the other way around, because I’m quite sure that these three Polish guys are probably also in the working class. They play metal, so I guess you can expect that. Even though people don’t want to believe it, our music is basically for peasants. We play for the poor, downtrodden and frustrated individuals out there as a way to keep them stable in this fucking chaos that we call a planet. Think about it. How many CEO’s do you know that listen to metal? Or that would even consider metal an actual genre of music? Do you think that the CEO of GE (General Electric) blasts Pantera out of his Porsche? I didn’t think so. And that’s where I’ll begin this review. (By the way, those guys probably listen to fucking elevator music.)
These guys are obviously pissed on the disc, but they’re also able to show restraint, so that it doesn’t end up being a Nails record. For the general gist of the record, we’ve got blackened thrash soundscapes with a harsh vocal backing that works a lot better than just an average scowl. More of these modern acts are using the harsh vocal yells these days and I think that they work just as well as when people go back to relive the 1996 black metal scowls. We are in 2014 after all. There’s also some serious punk influence on the disc, like on “Scorpion 4:00” which doesn’t need a long playtime to prove its point. Priest bashes the hell out of the kit when he needs to, but he doesn’t make it a habit to just blast and blast and blast. Which is what makes the band sound fresh. Zyklon plays a mixture of black, thrash, punk and groove riffs and no one’s complaining on that end. Or they’d better not be, because there’s nothing fucking wrong with it. Warcrimer definitely does a great job on vocals, of that there’s no question. It’s a fierce vocal style that just like the riffs; match the anger of thrash with the spite of black metal. There’s even an alternate take on John Lennon’s Imagine called “A Song For Lennon 4:01” which definitely shows the misanthropy of the band. “Man, I fucking hate this world, I do not care at all!” is just one of the lyrics here, which I like that he’s blunt about it. A lot of vocalists (including myself) try to be poetic about their feelings, but this guy just comes out and says basically, “fuck this shit, you suck, I suck, humanity fucking sucks, this world is shit, people are shit and the whole goddamned world just needs to fucking end.” So that’s what you’ll get out of the album.
These guys basically kill with each and every track, making for a memorable fucking performance the whole way through. It’s not an album that changes much from song to song, but they do utilize several riff structures on the album and that keeps things interesting. It’s very much like a sort of modern misanthropic punk with a metallic bite and I certainly fucking recommend it. This album was made for people who are fed up. It’ll sit well in your collection with the Indian record that I recommended a few weeks ago. You can put it in the “Fuck The World” section. You do have one, right?
Highlights: No Ground To Hold, Scorpion, A Song For Lennon, Ilsa (8 Tracks, 33:00)
Dinner Music For The Gods – Beautiful And Treacherous (PR2014) – Folks, you’re in for a real treat with this one. Dinner Music For The Gods is an amazing instrumental act that took me surprise so quickly that I had to bump them up on the list. When you listen to a mass amount of promos at one time, you get some that stick and some that don’t (as I’ve said many times) and these guys really stuck with me while I was unloading things like heavy washers and refrigerators off the truck. There’s no real gimmick to these guys either, no special religious ideals or lack of them – it’s just great instrumental music. With this next paragraph, I’m going to briefly describe it to you as best I can.
The album opens up with the title track (6:57) and I’m hearing very tight musicianship from the whole piece. There are also bits of prog, classical influence and more than a few good solo sections. When you make instrumental music, you need to make it so that it doesn’t need vocals and speaks on its own. I think that’s what these guys have done here and it’s quite uncanny. Uncanny how? Let’s go to the Latin fare of the next track, “Sofia 5:35.” These melodies make my ears sing. I feel like I’m hearing a slew of Santana solos back to back to back and that’s a wonderful feeling for me. All I need now is a senorita caliente to dance with while listening to this one. Wow. Then we’ve got “Kashmir 5:09” which begins just as the Led Zeppelin classic. But it doesn’t stay that way, as these guys light the sky on fire with this one. They do that by adding several more instrumental pieces to the song, yet still keeping its original nature. There’s even a jazz-influenced piece that works with well with the original composition of the song. This is a great reboot of the track, I’ll have to say. “Winterfell 5:42” comes next and obviously that’s a Game Of Thrones reference. (For those of you who are curious, George R.R. Martin also just finished the newest book in The Song Of Ice And Fire describing the winter that has been taking so damned long to come. It’s called Winds Of Winter. So be sure to read that. No, it’s not going to be on television! You have to pick it up and read it!) At any rate, this piece has a slight folk influence but seems to work heavy on the solos, which is where these guys shine. There’s a little bit of acoustics here and there, but it seems like it would be good music to accompany a battle. The next song is called “Wind Through The Trees 4:09” and it features a more light-hearted, almost balladic effort. There’s still some heavy portions here and there, but it’s a very romantic piece that guitar geeks will fall in love with. The next song (might be dedicated to us?) as it’s called “The Tower 6:46” and is by far one of the most interesting pieces on the disc. I somehow feel like video game music might have influenced this one just a bit, as it could be the soundtrack for one’s ascent up a tower (and I can’t even count the number of role-playing games that have had a tower ascent) and seems to be one of the most breath-taking musical experiences here. I can even see the battles as the group of heroes work their way to getting up to the top of the tower, where the dark one might await. “Queenshead 6:22” goes in a jazzier direction, but reminds me of Contra. There’s nothing wrong with that is there? There are little dips in the song, but I still think I’m playing Super C. Oh, come on. How old am I? Don’t tell me that you’ve never played Super C. There are also some parts that remind me of the classic Castlevania soundtrack. Nope, that’s not the Lords Of Shadow series either, folks. Regular old, 8-bit Castlevania. Now the last track on the disc is “Ghost Troopers In The Sky 6:03” which works well by throwing in a bit of the Iron Maiden classic, “The Trooper” into the mix. But there’s more to this song than that, and you’ll just have to listen to the whole western influenced piece to get the whole story. It serves as a great closer for a very entertaining release.
To end this review, I only have to say “Holy shit, someone’s thinking out of the box when it comes to instrumental music!” and that’s what I’m getting with Dinner Music For The Gods. They’ve taken classic songs and reconfigured them along with their own original material to make something extraordinary. Yes, I said extraordinary. Most people say it as one word, when really it’s pronounced as two. Grammar lessons aside, I do think that it would be in your best interest to check out this amazing release that struck me be complete surprise. Not only did the band have an interesting name, but they have interesting music to boot. It doesn’t come in any special packaging or with any major gimmicks or beliefs or anything of a lyrical nature. It’s just great instrumental music with proficient musicianship and a metric ton of solos. I definitely enjoyed more than the stuff I’ve been hearing from Yngwie Malmsteen as of late. Definitely get your hands on this album. It’s incredibly memorable.
Highlights: Beautiful And Treacherous, Sofia, Kashmir, The Tower, Ghost Troopers In The Sky (8 Tracks, 46:00)
Vanishing Point – Distant Is The Sun (PR2014) – I was originally going to review this for New Noise, but someone got to it before me. So I’m reviewing it at the Tower. Nevertheless, it is a memorable piece of Australian melodic metal majesty. Other than the fact that this is the album that almost never happened, Distant Is The Sun truly captures Vanishing Point at a career best in so far as I’ve heard. There’s no doubting that an amazing amount of effort, power and emotion was put into this release. Let’s just take the very first song (and believe me, this one’s going to hit you like a sledgehammer) “King Of Empty Promises 4:48” for example. Orchestral pieces open the track to thundering drums while Silvio Massaro absolutely kills it with the chorus and Chris Porcianko readies an impregnable solo piece in addition to powerful piano aesthetics. Not only is the song beautiful, it’s ravishing. That’s how you open an album. No doubt about it. Then it goes right into the amazingly powerful title track (4:46) which takes just a second to warm up, but sticks to its mesmerizing chorus. Silvio sounds a bit like Matt Barlow at the very beginning of the track, but he builds up to the chorus and that’s where it kills, as I’ve said. “When Truth Lies 5:17” also features a hard-driving chorus, which is the best thing about melodic metal. Essential choruses are the bread and butter of this genre and that’s where these guys succeed. “Circle Of Fire 4:47” features Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica in which they duet on the chorus, and it’s a solid effort. “Let The River Run 5:55” is about Chris’s departed father and it’s a truly majestic and emotional piece. The same can be said about “Handful Of Hope 4:20” as the band prove with this album that a song doesn’t have to be heavy to be memorable. The disc ends with the instrumental “April 4:27” a somber acoustic piece which also hides a bit of majesty within the synths. All in all, it’s a truly memorable performance and you surely won’t forget it anytime soon. For fans of melodic metal, look no further than these steadfast Australians who have worked tirelessly just to get this album completed. It’s definitely worth checking out and supporting.
Highlights: King Of Empty Promises, Distant Is The Sun, When Truth Lies, Denied Deliverance, Let The River Run, Pillars Of Sand, Handful Of Hope (11 Tracks, 63:00)
Sadistic Ritual – Hellish Mercenary (PR2014) – I wasn’t really sure what to expect with these guys, but the vinyl artwork (and this is the first vinyl that I’ve ever been sent by the way, but I couldn’t listen to it until I was able to download the vinyl rip of the record) was pretty gnarly and I was guessing it was some kind of black metal/thrash stuff. Turns out I was right. Though the disc is just a little under ten minutes, these guys still manage to do a lot in that amount of time. “Neurotoxin 5:18” comes out thrashing, though it’s not afraid to add the black metal portions and reminds me of Toxic Holocaust, but with a much fiercer vocalist. This guy sounds like they just dug him up yesterday, so the authentic undead approach to vocals works well with the thrashy but still structured riffing. Any band that’s worth their salt knows how to keep a long song entertaining and that’s what these guys do, even if they have to sprinkle a couple of Slayer riffs into the mix before treating us to a solo. All in all, this is great performance and I’d definitely like to see these guys live. I think it would do well live, if they play live. Some bands don’t. Next we’ve got the groovier “Hellish Mercenary 3:49” which gives us more of a thrash n’ roll feeling. But there’s nothing wrong with that, as these guys can actually play their music as I’ve previously noted and manage to showcase that here. Again, the fact that these guys can keep me hooked on just an intro section alone proves their worth. As far as the approach to this one goes, I’ve heard it in many proto-black metal acts like early Bathory or Venom perhaps. But that shit never gets old and shouldn’t. Towards the end of the song they really break it down, drums pounding and memorable riff melodies all the way through. That was good; I’ll have to spin it again!
Sadistic Ritual proves that they’re not fucking around with this solid blackened thrash effort and I’d recommend that you hop over to the nearest record store and grab a copy of it. These two tracks are both worth checking out.
(2 Tracks, 9:00)
Death Of Kings – Knifehammer (PR2014) – Got another vinyl and I’m digging the fuck out of this artwork. Again, I couldn’t play the actual disc (don’t want to get my grimy prints all over that fucking sweet cover either) so I got a vinyl rip of it and let me tell you, here’s another killer act from Boris Records. These guys play a version of thrash/power/punk that sounds a lot like Three Inches Of Blood but has a bit more of an edge. It’s faster, sharper and ready to decapitate. Seems right for the title, as this track’s an absolute “Knifehammer 4:36.” (Still trying to imagine what that would look like. Scratches head and wonders if knifehammer is an obscure phallic reference, realizes that it’s time to get out of the gutter and get back to reviewing.) One thing that these guys truly succeed in is soloing, which you know by now that I’m an absolute fan of. I fucking love when there’s like twenty solos on one track and each one of them is done justice. Yes, I was at work jamming to this and almost ended up playing air-guitar in the stockroom. The next song then hit, “Beyond The Obsidian 4:24” as it definitely continued to deliver with the same power metal sensibility and solo prowess. Again, these guys can really play some fucking amazing solos and I almost lost it when I was listening to this one at work. The hi-pitched shriek/shout of the band’s frontman is also uncanny and works well with the material. All in all, it’s a perfect package.
Death Of Kings is definitely worth checking out, especially if you like power/thrash with an extra bit of vinegar and some spectacular guitar solo efforts. I was playing the air guitar at work while listening to this (it was kind of an involuntary thing, the music just kind of hit me) so that gives you what kind of impression it left on me. Definitely a solid disc, but I would like to hear more from both of these bands.