Week 109.5 (April 26, 2014)



Holy shit, it’s done. Ten new reviews coming next week for Week 110. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates coming to other sections of the Tower. Sorry it’s late. Reviewing thirty albums is not an easy process while still holding a day job!

Sirion - Sirion EP

Sirion – Sirion EP (2014 SPOTLIGHT) – Sirion is a spatial melodic death metal act that of course, spoke to me immediately. Beautiful synths and clean leads compose the beginning of the opener “Symmetrical 5:11” which features a frontman who knows when to bark and growl when it fits the formula. I’m hearing a bit of Scar Symmetry here and I like that. Something has also got to be said about the guitar work on this one, as it’s brilliant; just as brilliant as the keyboard work. Clearly these guys are making a name for themselves with this fucking elegance. Clean vocals then break in and I can hear that not only can the frontman growl, he can also sing… and quite well, I might add. “Earthmind 4:44” comes next with the Soilwork/Scar Symmetry approach, yet those synths and the clean vocals are fantastic. Obviously there’s more than one vocalist, but they seem to balance it out quite well. Once again, screaming guitars mesmerize me as a slight breakdown occurs to allow for keyboards. This is how you do melodic death metal, folks. At least as far as I’m concerned. Listen to the keyboard at the beginning of “Interstellar 4:46!” That’s fucking great. Then the clean comes in and it’s quite noteworthy. This track shows that they can do more than just the harsh vocal style and I’d really hope that their full-length features more use of the clean vocals. I don’t think the second chorus of “Interstellar” should have the harsh vocals in front of the clean at the beginning. That kind of screwed things up for me. Some more interesting keyboard work comes in, as the clean vocalist goes into a classic metal acrobatic. This track is really the standout for me. I think it caught me the first time as well. You may have differing opinions, but “Interstellar” really does it for me. The disc ends with “Beyond The Depths 5:06” which definitely brings up Scar Symmetry, except with more keyboard influence (which actually makes a difference, especially when the 8-bit effects come into play) that you won’t soon forget. There are some prog atmospherics here, as well as some great spoken parts on the disc (I’m really enjoying this thing to be honest!) which see a solo jutting forth and an operatic metal portion right towards the end.

Well. That happened. It most certainly fucking happened, folks and I’m amazed. I have no idea who these guys are, or where they come from; but they’re the reason I do this work in the first place – to promote awesome acts like this. Sure, it is a style that has been done before, but there’s always someone who can one-up it and I definitely think these guys are on their way to becoming the next Scar Symmetry or even far greater than that. There are literal loads of potential on this disc, from the guitar work to the keyboard theatrics and vocal prowess. These guys show that they’ve really got a cavalcade of tricks up their sleeve and I’d love to hear more. This is well worth checking out for fans of melodic death metal and I’m ecstatic towards it. There’s nothing else to say, as I bow to these masters.

(4Tracks, 19:00)

Stormhold - Eyes in The Eyes EP

Stormhold – Eyes in The Eyes EP (2013) – Stormhold appear a relatively strong five-piece, mixing elements of death thrash along with clean vocal and jazz elements. But that’s what I got from the disc’s first track, “Another Day 5:22” which literally does show me a multi-faceted act from the very start. Not only that, the clean vocals used here have just as much merit as the growls and just as much muscularity and structure as the musical piece as a whole. Seriously, this is a promising track. And listen to that solo… so what’s next? Well, the title track “4:57” delights me with melodies and thick vocals, but doesn’t necessarily go into the jazz portions and whatnot of the other track. But they can’t all sound the same now, can they? Finishing the album is the closer “The History Pages 5:26” which starts out with more of a doom nature, but enters into crunchy prog and features some orchestral synths. I’d definitely consider these guys in the vein of melodic death metal, and from what I have heard so far – it’s quite good. I can’t wait to hear what they’ll come out with next.

(3Tracks, 15:00)

Ragged Barracudas - Motorwolf Session EP

Ragged Barracudas – Motorwolf Session EP (2014) – This is a two-sided vinyl from what appears to be a lo-fi blues rock band. There’s a couple trippy moments here, coupled with a passable vocal quality; even though the music delivers far more in the musical department, which is where people will find the disc’s main enjoyment. A1’s “Living The Dream 4:55” sounds decent enough, while “Cheap Allure 3:32” has some good atmospheres in the middle, finishing the whole thing off with “Motor Jam 2:43” which is just a jam session. It’s alright and I think those who are into it will really enjoy it.

(3Tracks, 11:00)

Cemetery Fog - Shadows From The Cemetery

Cemetery Fog – Shadows From The Cemetery (2014) – Despite the rather painful album cover art, what I’m presented with is an exercise in lo-fi doom/death with elements of thrash. It says that there are “no gaps between songs” but the performance scarcely changes throughout. It reminds quite morbid, whilst the frontman’s unearthly rasp decorates the vocal end. Sometimes a nice lead is demonstrated to create atmosphere, which the synths also handle. The band also utilizes bits of atmosphere, which you’ll find in the middle of the disc and at its very end. It doesn’t take a long gander at this thing to tell that Cemetery Fog definitely have some talent and hopefully they’ll get picked up by a label who appreciates these morbid tales with bits of thrash and melody. It doesn’t sound too far from the eighties, reminding me of other prominent doom and grueling death metal acts from that period. Get your hands on it if you like things particularly old school.

(5Tracks, 24:00)

Dead Label – Single (2014) – Irish metallers Dead Label want me to check out this single of theirs, and it’s got quite a bit more length to it than one might expect from the normal single. As a matter of fact, this little track is almost eight minutes long! Though it starts out promising, it switches right into core that could halfway be influenced by Heaven Shall Burn, but doesn’t quite have the bite. I think it’s a bit too full however and two to three minutes of breakdown riffs don’t help the package, even though an interesting solo is used. I’m not that swayed by it really and I think it’s kind of mediocre despite the length. Yet keep in mind that core isn’t quite my forte and I’ m really picky about the few core acts that I do like. If it sounds like something you’d be into though, check it out.

(1Track, 7:50)

Exhumation - Hymn To Your God

Exhumation – Hymn To Your God (2014) – Comparable to Vader, Hate or Morbid Angel, Exhumation claim to make true death metal and are tired of all the fakes. Hailing from Indonesia, they certainly make a pleasant slab of traditional death metal that seems composed of the normal elements that make up the genre. No use in going into the “pummeling drums and razor sharp riff” category as you already know it’s there. The Vader influence is definitely in full effect here with the opener “All Seeing Eye 5:06” and the Morbid Angel reminiscent solo that closes out the piece. Riffs reminiscent of black metal come in next on “The Apotheosis 5:14” followed by some moments of technicality and a strong drum performance. Though I didn’t like the vocal approach on the first track, I think I’ve warmed up to it a bit on this second outing and feel that it really does match that Vader-like quality. Bits of prog (or are they tech?) creep up every once in a while if you keep on listening, in the end bringing about a much more recallable piece than the opener. “Parasites And Enemies 4:11” definitely brings up that Hate/Behemoth quality, but I don’t think it’s nearly quite as powerful. “Omnipotent 5:04” features a bit more muscularity than its predecessor, but doesn’t seem to bring that much more to the table. Is it going to be rinse/repeat for the rest of the disc? “Dominion 4:27” sounds a bit different, maybe not going so heavy on the technical and overblown drumming, as punishing grooves seem to take the stage while the frontman grunts along. There’s a nice breakdown here, but that rejoins the band in the same style as before, albeit with the added influence of groove. “Hymn To Your God 2:13” comes next however, bringing a sense of intrigue with it. This is a sort of non-metal atmospheric piece complete with a native instrumentation and feel with the band’s Indonesian roots. It’s actually kind of haunting, in the way that I’d expect from the soundtrack of American McGee’s Alice. And yes, that’s because there’s a young female voice chanting amongst what sounds like a majestic and devious soundscape. Is there any way that you can mix stuff like this in with the death metal, or is this a one-time thing? We have a million bands who sound like Vader, Hate, Behemoth and Morbid Angel, but how many of them add haunting soundscapes into the brutish mayhem of death metal? Not many. The disc ends with a Blasphemy cover of “Ritual 3:10” which sounds absolutely volatile. I hate to say it, but this cover sounds better than the whole disc and that’s the truth. At any rate, at least they’re showing that they’ve got some promising meat to throw into the heavy metal grinder, so we’ll see what these guys have to offer in the future. You definitely wouldn’t be upset with yourself if you picked up a copy though. These guys aren’t doing anything really new as far as the metal portion is concerned, but they’ve got enough to satisfy death metal minions. In the end, isn’t that what’s most important?

Highlights: The Apotheosis, Dominion, Hymn To Your God, Ritual (7 Tracks, 29:00)

Reapers Riddle - Game Over EP

Reaper’s Riddle – Game Over EP (2014) – Reader’s Riddle already interested me with their album cover, which features a lot of screens from games that I have beaten already. Unfortunately, I think that I’ve gotten more enjoyment from the games featured on the cover than I did from this album. Especially when screens from Doom 1, Megaman 2, and Sonic The Hedgehog 2 are featured on the cover. I believe I still remember the stage select code from that game… Sound test, and then play 19, 65, 09 and 17. That should open up the game’s stage select. As for the album itself, after a short intro I’m brought into a ballady rock track called “If You Died Tomorrow 4:38” which features a punchy chorus with a rough vocal to back thicker riffs and an ultimately catchy nature. Though raw, Reaper’s Riddle have an extremely marketable quality as the track shows. “The Clock (Part 1) 4:35” again shows the marketable quality of the frontman’s vocals, while the band play a powerful version of hard rock. Though fuzzy, there’s something here and someone’s going to catch onto it. The title track (3:28) comes next with its Saliva/Ojo Rojo quality, that again should catch someone’s ear immediately. Reaper’s Riddle know exactly what kind of band they want to be and I think there’s definitely some room for them in the modern rock scene. “Fade To Grey 4:43” features more vocal acrobatics (and more guitar acrobatics too) as the album completely finishes up with the odd nature of “Labyrinth 4:27.” But as you could figure, it’s also catchy and punchy like the rest of this album. In the end, Reaper’s Riddle do a good job at being easy to absorb and I’m sure that there’s some record exec who thinks they’re the next big thing. Obviously they’re shopping this one out in the search of label support, which they should certainly find with catchy material like this. It makes for easily burrowed earworms with plenty of bite. Check it out if you like modern rock/hard rock.

(6Tracks, 22:00)

Apocrophex - Wheels Within Wheels

Apocrophex – Wheels Within Wheels (2014) – This is an effort so short, that if you blink; you’ll miss it. In this almost five minutes of material, I am treated to just two tracks. The first one is the title track (2:06) which features punishing technical death metal with thick barrages of brutality and a technical solo. The next track is “Halos Of Light 2:36” which features more gravel and technicality. Honestly, there’s not much here that I haven’t already heard from other technical bands. These guys just seem to want to be the fastest and the well… fastest out of all the others and they just don’t really have any real sense of purpose other than to do what plenty of other technical death metal bands are already doing. It’s definitely mediocre and not really innovative nor interesting. But if you’ve got to go fast…

(2Tracks, 4:42)

Shredhammer - Demo

Shredhammer – Demo (2014) – So what you’re all wondering right now, is can a band by the name of Shredhammer shred? Well, let’s just start at the beginning. The disc opens with a southern/thrash session called “Tyrants End 3:45” which reminds me a little of Pantera and Stonesour. When we get to the solo, we do find it to be quite muscular, but does it shred? Well, let’s go onto the next track. “Misery Is Gone 4:16” which really brings that same Pantera/thrash feel. The vocals sort of slip a bit here, it doesn’t sound quite as put together and definitely demo. It’s decent enough, but I am kind of getting the idea of what to expect next now. And that next song is the band’s namesake, “Shredhammer 5:11” which features a bit more effort in the drums, yet it still reminds be a bit too much of Pantera. So when we get to the final track on the disc, simply entitled “Bash 4:54” then what are we to expect? More blues-influenced groove riffs and whiskey soaked vocals. Shredhammer don’t really bring anything new to the table, but it’s definitely going to be right up your alley if you want more Phil Anselmo in your life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really shred either; so the band’s name sounds kind of confusing in that manner. Maybe they should have just called themselves Bash?

(4Tracks, 18:00)

Suffering - Chaosatana

Suffering – Chaosatanas (2014) – Suffering are a black metal band, if you can’t already tell from the album cover and title. These guys actually come off rather rambunctious, rather ferocious and rather venomous… and so far, I like what I hear. It’s definitely in the vein of traditional black metal, complete with memorable melodies amidst the tremolo riffs, yet there is also a slight moment of spoken word that seems to provide atmosphere, doubling up with another set of structure and following into a closing portion that really packs a punch. I don’t know what these guys have, but “Suicide For Satan 4:23” shows me that they definitely have it. The next track, “Essence Of Sin 3:42” shows the drums at a more frantic pace, while the scowling frontman continues to deliver a furious atmosphere with his vocal lines. This is the sort of thing that I expect from black metal and I think Suffering have pulled it off quite nicely. “I Am The Existence 4:55” slows things down a bit so that the scowls are given time to brood, just as “Leviathan Rises 5:45” with a return to the rambunctious nature of which the disc began. Several structural elements are employed, most notably with the drums; which seem to be doing much more than just keeping the songs afloat. This guy knows what he’s doing behind the kit, which also works well with the frost-bitten guitar riffs and venomous scowls. Again, this is what I expect to hear in black metal. “Frozen Faith 4:12” continues that memorable trend as the album wraps up with “Ofiara 6:00.” And just as you might expect, it offers much of the same memorable style that we’ve already received. Suffering demonstrate a surprisingly potent and recallable form of black metal with this disc, which shouldn’t get boring easily; especially to fans of the genre. I don’t know how kvlt it is, but it certainly remains traditional while adding a few new school touches here and there. At any rate, the effort comes off as a memorable tribute to the very spirit of black metal. There’s a great deal of passion put into this disc and I think that most listeners will notice it from the beginning. Keep your eyes peeled, as I strongly doubt that this is the last you’ll be hearing from Suffering.

(6Tracks, 28:58)

Possession Belgium - Annelise

Possession (Belgium) – Annelise (2014) – Not to be confused with the other well-known version of Possession, this Belgian band is certainly just as powerful. At least, that’s what they show with the short 7 inch. “Annelise 6:19” opens up with some death-grooves, which see a light howl in the background and scathing rasp at the forefront. Alright, so perhaps they’re not quite on the level of THE Possession, but they’re decent enough. I mean, I do feel that the riff repetition was getting stale as was the vocal acrobatic that I just mentioned. After about three or four times, it doesn’t matter how death n’ roll you make your music sound. it just sounds like a motorcycle engine revving up and never really going anywhere. Thank god for the drummer, who manages to punch in at the right moments and save my ears from monotony. And what the hell is going on at the end of this song? Is all that really necessary? It sounds like he’s strangling a cow. The next song is “Apparition 4:51” which goes right into groove, eventually joining up with blasting drums and that same dual vocal style. A slight amount of atmosphere helps the piece, but by that time I’m already kind of bored by it. Though the effort sounds utterly dark and doom-laden, this sort of black/thrash/doom/weirdness needs some work. I have no idea what’s really going on here and why these guys feel the need to use constant repetition. This album might actually drive you nuts. I’d definitely take the classic Possession over this. I believe I’ve had to change my opinion three times during this damn review, but that’s because it’s in real-time. I don’t think these guys really did anything for me the first time and most certainly not now. Definitely not interested.

(2Tracks, 11:00)

Dead Earth Politics - The Queen Of Steel

Dead Earth Politics – The Queen Of Steel (2014) – Next up is an Austin, TX band by the name of Dead Earth Politics. They’ve been compared to Lamb Of God and Pantera as I can certainly hear from opener “Redneck Dragonslayer 4:38” but there’s a clean vocal element here that that I don’t hear much from the acts these guys have been compared to, nor have I heard that many screaming solos from them either. So clearly, while these guys have influence, they’re not just playing from their record collection. I definitely feel that the playing is quite sharp and memorable, it’s got a little bit of early Slough Feg influence; yet with the bite of the latter bands. The riffs just don’t come off like the riffs that you’d expect for this kind of band, and it’s this kind of progressive power/thrash modern mentality that makes me very interested in these guys. The title track (4:25) brings to mind latter era Shadows Fall, but with some definite surprises as well. What I’m hearing is a band with no boundaries and that translates to something ultimately memorable. There’s definitely the fury of harsh vocal combined with clean vocals and some Iced Earth flair to the release as well. “Madness Of The Wanderer 4:06” ends the disc with just as much grandeur as when it began (these guys have more muscle than the more popular bands that they’ve played with) and continues to deliver throughout. I actually took a gander at some of the review snippets in the PR info and really have to agree with mike Smith of Metaleater. The guys says “the band always stay one nimble step ahead of the listener, with the next trick waiting right up their sleeve” and that’s really the best fucking way to put it. You really don’t know what to expect from Dead Earth Politics and any nut-head who just gave this band a poor score needs their fucking head examined. Yeah, they have their modern metal influences; but they’ve got a hell of a lot more to show than Lamb Of God ever has. Just listen to the compositions here and you’ll certainly understand just what I’m saying. These guys have chops, and I don’t know how much chops count this day and age; but I know that they used to count for a hell of a lot. Definitely give this one a listen. Man, I’ve got to get a hold of the Weight Of Poseidon record that preceded this one.

(3Tracks, 13:00)

Circle - Kumiluoti

Circle – Kumiluoti (2014) – I have no earthly idea what Circle were thinking when they made this, but this hardly sounds like the same experimental act that I remember. It seems with the title cut (2:03) they’ve gone punk, with a little bit of harsh vocal influence and some slightly proggier punk melodies than normal. Though I like the melodies, it doesn’t really work that well for me. Next on the disc is “Liian Paljon Liimaa 2:37” which attempts to add some more weirdness into prog, including what seems to tinge on black metal at times. Again, while not my thing, I’ll certainly consider it interesting and a new take on punk if nothing else. Just goes to show that you never know what to expect from Circle and I like that.

(2Tracks, 4:00)

Various Artists - Monsters Six Of A Kind

Various Artists – Monsters! (Six Of A Kind) (2014) – Kaotoxin and Grindcore go together like well, hot sauce and fried fish. Which is a very tasty but unhealthy meal for those of you who aren’t from the US and have never heard of breading and frying fish, then having a heaping mound of hot sauce poured on top of it, followed by a round of acid reducers and later ulcers. But that analogy also describes this album in a way. It’s quite volatile and unhealthy, but it’s certainly tasty. This album is instant hot sauce, with twenty-three watery tracks totaling in at just a little more than a minute for the most part, yet they certainly get their gut-burning point across with the right amount of kick and flavor.

Total Fucking Destruction begins our little journey into heartburn heaven with three tracks, one of which is “Blinded 0:42” a Nasum cover. It doesn’t take very long to see that TFD bring their own sound and style to the genre, making it just a little bit more than unrelenting brutality. It’s actually got sort of a punk nature, which isn’t so bad at all. The Nasum cover even has the punk natured riffing to it and there’s a nice little solo to boot. Grind pretty much sounds like metal on FFWD and that’s what they’ve accomplished here. Department Of Correction come next with the next seven songs, bringing a little bit more brutality and drum kit abuse to the disc. Vocally though, it takes mostly from hardcore while injecting some death growls and shots into the mix. I could do with more of the gravel though, personally. That’s why “Back On The Earth 1:08” works best for me. So I guess these guys sound better when they’re grounded. C.O.A.G. is next, as he works his way off the toilet with the next four tracks of this split. However, there’s a really nice intro (1:38) before the first lesson in proper bowel strain. The drums however are a bit more active as the guitars bring about a slew of eerie riffs and some interesting leads. Though I don’t think that anything will ever sell me on the vocal end of things, I do believe that the performance was decent enough for fans and new listeners. Miserable Failure are next, and after this performance you’re going to need some Tums. It doesn’t really matter what language these guys are singing in, every song sounds like they’ve literally flipped their lid and that’s what I want to hear in grind. The performance is pure fucking insanity. There’s a section in “Martyr 1:05” that seems to kill the mood for a minute, but these crazy bastards mange to bring back the insanity instantly. There’s nothing I like more than a bunch of guys screaming and hollering in their native language, which sounds indecipherable to me. The performance also ends on a surprisingly interesting note. Unsu only got two tracks on the disc, so they show what they can. The drums are thick, the riffs are thick and the vocals are thick when there’s no sign of shouting. The performance is equally brutal and spiteful to the very end. “Save The Planet, Kill Yourself 1:15” definitely contains a good section of hardcore though. Infected Society end the disc with two tracks which seem to be much longer than the others. It’s not even really grind to be honest, but it works. What I think I’m hearing is a sort of death/thrash with core elements. I don’t think grind fans will like it all that much, because it’s not grind. But I’d certainly welcome it any day. There’s a lot of structure here and it’s plenty promising. Whatever band Infected Society are becoming, I’m all for the transformation. “Human Cancer 2:52” is definitely one of the more interesting tracks I’ve heard on this disc. “Lies, Incorporated 2:49” serves as the final track on the disc, reminding me more of Carnal Forge and The Crown, which definitely both work for me. But like the previous track, there is also a section of atmosphere that helps the more threatening parts of the song to come off with more potency.

Whatever you want to say about these monsters, it can definitely be assured that this disc is one spicy meatball. It’s definitely a heaping helping of fried fish doused in oceans of hot sauce and sprinkled with bits of jalapenos. You’ll definitely need a Nexium after this one. Talk about major acid reflux.

(23Tracks, 26:00)

Skelethal - Deathmanicvs Revelation

Skelethal – Deathmanicvs Revelation (2014) – After a brief intro, this two-piece offers a decaying mound of molten morbidity right out from the gate with the punishing, yet brooding “Macabre Oblivion 4:03” which certainly delivers in the way that real death metal should. These guys also have a rough and raw approach to their music which sounds decidedly old-school and decidedly proper as well. I mean, you wouldn’t want to hear “Putrefaction 3:16” which a clean production job would you? Of course not, because that would take away the spirit of old death. And that very track does decorate with grooves aplenty, backed by a vigorous drum approach and an overall touch to classic Swe-death that Dan Swano would certainly nod to in approval. Solos are also not hidden behind the wall on this album, as the band certainly utilize them when necessary and they do help the piece. Again, these guys aren’t reinventing the wheel with this one, but they’re certainly kicking plenty of ass and doing the genre justice. If you’re looking for good old death, then you certainly can’t do wrong with this one. And it’s short, so you can just replay it if you need another dose before clocking back into work.

(7Tracks, 23:00)

Edenkaiser - Doomsday Juggernaut EP

Edenkaiser – Doomsday Juggernaut EP (2014) – These Catalonian thrashened black metallers (I thought it was blackened thrash metallers?) start out with a raw but audible production value which entails tremolos, pounding drums and lots of fuzz. It almost sounds like they recorded the album with a fan blowing full-blast in order to create a fuzzier atmosphere. “Enter Mephisto 3:20” works well with guest vocalist Secthdamon who provides some hefty growl on what would normally be a rather triumphant black metal track. “Inner Kingdom 3:14” begins with a bolt of thunder, goes to black metal and then enters a slight bit of atmosphere before going back into a kvlt natured sound. Demonic voices open “A Jewel In My Skull 5:31” which seems to be more about the fuzz guitar than anything else. “Kill For The Crown 4:12” ends the raw performance on a thrashy note, showing less of the fuzz guitar and more punch. It’s good to know that these guys are capable of more than just the fuzz guitar at any rate. If you’re looking for something kvlt, thrash and other; then check out EdenKaiser. They’re at least trying to break a couple of boundaries and that’s a good thing.

(5Tracks, 17:27)

Lucifers Hammer - Night Sacrifice

Lucifer’s Hammer – Night Sacrifice (Demo MMXII) (2014) – Lucifer’s Hammer is a heavy metal band and you can hear the Maiden influence immediately. That can either be a good thing or a bad thing, but these guys manage to make the Maiden melodies work for them. The vocalist is a bit rough and hard to understand due to his accent, but he definitely makes his point know with his soaring vocal acrobatics, as the guitar-end of things definitely channels Iron Maiden intact, as I’ll mention once again so you don’t forget. Of course, this is what I’ve gotten from “Wolf 4:16” the demo opener, so the rest of the disc might be different. “Shadows 5:20” is next, bringing with it the longest effort on the demo (which has surprisingly crisp production for a demo) as well as more of the calculated NWOBHM melodies and drumming that we’d expect. The title track (4:54) ends the album with much of the same, although the vocals don’t nearly hit all the time. These guys still have a lot to learn, but this demo shows that if they keep going, they’re sure to achieve some truly great things in metal. Worth checking out, especially if you like NWOBHM.

(3Tracks, 14:00)

Gunpowder Gray - self titled

Gunpowder Gray – Gunpowder Gray (2014) – These guys have made an interesting rock album that has the odd touch of a frontman who’s definitely a fan of Guns N’ Roses, and Axl Rose specifically. The album actually sounds like what would happen if Axl decided to front a much different kind of band than the one that he did (which we’re still not quite sure what kind of band that is anymore). But more than that, the band comes off quite memorable with the stoner rock influenced album opener, title track and band namesake (that’s a mouthful) “Gunpowder Gray 4:34” which contains a very memorable chorus and some wonderful guitar aesthetics. I wasn’t so sure what to think of these guys at first, but now I’m quite sure that they could be the next big thing in just a matter of time. “Cummin’ My Way 3:20” changes gears to where it sounds like Axl fronting the Crue, but that works for me too. Goddamn this shit’s catchy. “Outta Sight 3:35” continues the band’s touch to classic rock as powerful melodies decorate the already memorable vocal approach. “Under The Gun 3:36” continues to bring memorable choruses and memorable rock melodies, ending the front side of the vinyl. On the back side of the vinyl, “Dancing With Death 3:09” brings us much the same style, still just as memorable. The other two tracks feature a bit of a lower tone in some areas, but round-out the disc on very much the same style. All in all, Gunpowder Gray make for a very interesting act who are in part trying to resurrect the spirit of classics like Guns N Roses and I’m sure that GNR fans all over the world will embrace these guys as a sort of second coming. Definitely interested in hearing more from these guys.

(7Tracks, 26:30)

Zoldier Noiz - Regression Process

Zoldier Noiz – Regression Process (2014) – Well, what can I say about Zoldier Noiz? Basically they’re a French act that combines thrash and punk together with a stone throated vocal approach much in the vein of Bolt Thrower (as noted in the band’s PR Info) and they sound just as you’d expect. The band stands by being an “old school metal act with no video game covers exc.” and even though I like video game covers, I wouldn’t expect these guys to do one. It’s not hard to tell from the release that these guys don’t want to be lumped into the same category as their fellow avant-garde and experimental peers. What we’ve got here will come off like candy to old heads, yet perplexing to new ones. But that’s kind of the way it should be. There’s a decidedly old school sound and sense of raw power on the disc that I certainly think is worth checking out, regardless of what metal gods you praise. It’s rough, and it goes down as hard as the thickest ale you can imagine. Which is going to be right up the alley for you, I would say. Especially if you like to drink while banging your head. No matter what new children come out of metal’s many orifices, it’s the firstborn that remain the most memorable. Definitely a decent and powerful punk/thrash effort that recalls the greats. What else can I say?

(10Tracks, 29:00)

Infernal Curse - The End Upon Us

Infernal Curse – The End Upon Us MLP (2014) – Infernal Curse is a horridly dark and demonic death metal act, yet with some nice odes to rock music here and there, as can be seen with the lead touches on the opening title track (5:26) as well as the traditional death metal solo. There’s certainly the feel of atmospheric brooding here, but these guys manage to put some pep in their step and give a kick to the gloom. Now this is something that doesn’t put me to sleep quite so fast. The drums get to pounding as the frontman gets to gurgling and chanting at the same time. There’s a echoing effect to the vocals which helps to accentuate the atmosphere, yet there’s still quite a bit of the pummeling on “Lascivious Malevolence 4:29” which eventually slows into groove. It’s not really a wild style that requires a thick description, so there’s no need to fully elaborate on what is apparent from the first few tracks on the disc. They came, they saw, and they conquered… as well as giving us a short cover from Hadez which also sounds very much in the band’s style. If you like your death metal full of ominous atmosphere, some brooding and some ungodly metallic might just to keep things refreshing, then look no further than these three cloaked gentlemen.

(4Tracks, 19:00)

Hades Archer - Circus Of Abominations Slaughtbbath -  Antichristos Thanatos

Hades Archer – Circus Of Abominations/Slaughtbbath- Antichristos Thanatos – Split EP (2014) – Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like – a split of two separate EP’s on one single disc. So let’s break each disc down, shall we?

First off, we’ve got Hades Archer with “The Pyre 2:26” which sees blackened thrash metal riffs and rough snarling vocals. It’s decent enough, there’s a good bit of drumming but nothing really that special. Then we have “The Ascension 1:01” which perplexes me in its shortness. Though I like what comes after the silence, why the silence? it’s almost like grindcore. “Portals 1:18” comes next as the metal returns. but it doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot really. And that’s it from Hades Archer.

Slaughtbbath comes in with “The Grand Dialogue & Mortal Paradigma 7:37” which sounds much in the vein of Hades Archer, except for the fact that it’s much darker, blacker and offers more music. Slaughtbbath actually sound like they’re trying here and give a memorable performance from the beginning. Hell, the song actually carries some structure with it. Not to mention the fact that the vocalist also sounds far more venomous than the Hades Archer frontman. “Tempest 3:00” truly does bring in the fury, while “Black Revelation Of Death 5:52” just kind of sits there and stirs for a bit. It’s not their greatest track, but they sound like a band still getting their footing. But if it suits you, then that’s awesome. I might mention that these guys truly deliver in spades when it comes to the solo department as well. Without a doubt, Slaughtbbath is truly the winner of this split. I can say that, not even having heard the entire disc yet!

For some odd reason, it sounds like another track from Hades Archer has oddly been placed at the end of the disc. It’s not any better than the others unfortunately, and reminds me that Slaughtbbath still wins the game by a mile. At any rate, I don’t think you can go wrong by checking out this split no matter who you like more or less. it’s still a good dose of black/thrash and I’m sure that fans of these genres (and that particular sub-genre) will love the hell out of it.

(7Tracks, 25:00)

Forteresse - Chasse Galerie - Monarque - Csejthe - Legendes Split

Forteresse/Chasse Galerie/Monarque/Csejthe – Legendes Split EP (2014) – This is a one song split between four French black metal acts. So here’s the breakdown:

First up is Forteresse with “Wendigo 6:23” which seems to carry some hummable melodies to it, as well as thick barrage of drums and scowling vocals. Definitely in the vein of melodic black metal, this one sounds quite promising. One can tell that the clean guitar melodies are where these frenchmen deliver best, as they assault my ears with mounds of subtle beauty. The song only gets more crystalline as it goes on, making me wish there was more here from them!

Chasse Galerie come in with “La Bois Des Belles 6:21” and though I like the melodies here too, I don’t find the effort quite as powerful. Truly, the vocalist seems like a foul beast recently summoned from a repugnant pit; but the effort likewise is just a little flat. Maybe next time?

With Monarque’s “La Griffe Du Diable 5:41” I’m starting to wonder if the production quality of these bands is getting worse by the track. At any rate, we’ve got a far less pretty version of black metal here, even though it keeps the same pace and style as the previous two acts. Monarque’s vocalist is even more threatening than the demon that fronts Chasse Galerie and I daresay that the band is even more volatile. As far as true black metal goes, these guys are much closer to it than the others. A crackling fire also appears on the track along with some demonic howls.

Finalizing the disc is Csejthe with “Murmures Nocturnes 6:21” which has the most melody out of the whole pack. The vocals are few and consist mostly of a few horrific noises every so often, but these guys would do just fine without them as a pure instrumental act.

It’s really tough to say who won the split, but all of the bands are really worth checking out for the lover of beautiful French black metal. With a sound that is as mesmerizing as it is defiant, there’s definitely no reason why you shouldn’t check this one out.

(4Tracks, 24:00)


Whitby Bay – Unextinguishable Candle (Single) (2014) – The band’s press release certainly intrigued me, going on about Dracula and Cthulhu and other things that remind me of English metal. But Whitby Bay is not an English band, as they’re actually Danes who are most certainly fascinated with early Ulver, Ildjarn, Harry Pussy, Black Dice, Bram Stoker, HP Lovecraft and many others. What I get in return is a promising four minutes of raw black metal with its share of interesting little tinkers here and there, as well as a spitting scowl which resulted in spit flying everywhere, more than likely. Towards the end of the opener and single title (1:40) the band move into a more of a groove oriented thing, replete with the growls of a stone golem. We’ve also got “Black Cape 2:49” which shows much of the same, with some eerie little sections and signs of promise. Although I’m hearing some interesting things here and there, I really think I’m going to need more time to soak this slimy thing in. Hopefully, the band’s soon to come debut album will offer more content for me to dredge through. But I do like the cover art… Hail Satan!

(2Tracks, 4:00)

Graves At Sea - This Place Is Poison

Graves At Sea – This Place Is Poison EP (2014) – Now I’m going to give you a sneak at something I’ve already heard from these guys and absolutely fucking loved. There’s a split that these guys did shortly after this release with Sourvein and a song in particular called “Betting On Black.” I connected with that song so much as I walked through the halls of the stock room, looking at all the merchandise that serves to fill the hands of needy consumers and the pockets of corporate money-mongers. It’s really just poorly made junk, but people buy it because that’s why people go to a store. To buy things, things they don’t need. And that’s when I really felt the lyrics on “Betting On Black.”

Now as for this one, you’ve got the same approach with the EP title track (6:36) which includes the same post/sludge style, replete with a sound so thick that you could make tires from it. Blues grooves still make their way into this rough-necked piece, as the harsh vocal is backed by a slight rasp which can either sound like black metal, or an upset child throwing a tantrum. After you listen to it long enough however, you’ll find that it works. “Orchid & Lord Of This World 13:13” are next, with “Orchid” being a folky acoustic with a melancholic feel and a few voice clips, while “Lord Of This World 13:13” comes off as an extremely rough Sabbath style tune with some definite post, sludge and blues influence… you know, like always. But these guys definitely have something and I’d be a fool to deny that. Plus, there’s apparently a Rottweiler in the band, so I’m interested as to how the dog will do during the live shows. I do know that Caninus actually recorded metal while dogs barked in the background, so perhaps we’ll hear some animal influence later in the band’s work. All joking aside, there’s definitely something noteworthy here and I think it’s going to speak to all fuzz fans – fuzz doom, fuzz sludge, fuzz rock and just plain fucking fuzz. These guys are fuzzy, doomy bluesy, rocky and manage to mix it all together into a satisfying pot of stone soup that tastes great going down. Get yourself a copy of this one.

AndIlltellyoumoreaboutBettingOnBlacklater. WhenIgettocoveringthatsplit. Man, Ifuckinglovethattrack.

(2Tracks, 19:00)

Eths - Ex Umbra In Solem

Eths – Ex Umbra In Solem EP (2014) – Slowly but surely, Eths is becoming a different band altogether. It’s actually quite odd since these guys made albums up until 2008 before anyone decided to jump ship. But then two members did exactly that, after almost ten years of making music. The drummer hopped back on for 2012’s III but then afterwards, the band’s front woman since they began; Candice Clot decided to leave citing “personal reasons.” Alright, so now Eths is half the band they once were. Remember that the lyrics of the band usually dealt with Candice’s horrible upbringing and her Christian faith. It’s very hard not to notice the praise and worship sessions going on under the guise of metal on III especially on “Adonai.” So isn’t it funny that the band finds a new vocalist in a talent star, and there’s a great big eye on the front cover of this EP. Yes, a great big eye. Maybe I can understand why Candice jumped ship now. At the risk of running into another anti-elite rant, I’ll just review the album.

If you don’t already know, the new vocalist Rachel Aspe freaked out the judges when she covered Sybreed during France’s version of America’s Got Talent (it almost seems like the elite would use these sorts of shows worldwide in order to scrounge for new puppets… err… talent) and she also did vocals on that Dividead album I reviewed in one of my Mayan review weeks. (Didn’t know that until just a few minutes ago.) Well, on this EP the band thought that they would show everyone how she would perform for what should be the forthcoming album (IV?) from the band. The only new song here is the title track (4:07) which follows the groove style of the band, groove-laden deathcore. The song is relatively catchy and features a clean chorus that reminds me a little bit of Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil. But to her credit, Rachel does hit some rather thick gravel during the breakdown of the piece. If we hear some gore-gravel from her, it might be worth it. She certainly seems full of fire on the track and it delivers as well as we might expect. It seems like it could be a single, so I’m sure that’s why they picked it. The band also recorded some tracks from a live set where they were apparently testing Rachel’s performance live. During this set, they covered some classics: “Samantha 2:37”, “Bulimiarexia 4:19″ and Crucifere 4:32” Though recorded live, they certainly sound of studio quality and show that Rachel can perform the band’s classics just as well as Candice, though fans might respect Candice in these songs more, as they come from her history and background. As a vocalist personally, I don’t think I could come in and sing about someone else’s personal feelings. If I can’t connect to a song, then I won’t try to. Finally, the band recorded three tracks from their previous album just to show more of Rachel’s vocal style. These are “Voragine 3:48”, “Harmaguedon 4:42” and “Proserpina 5:47.” I think they still used Candice’s clean vocals in the background, which sounds quite odd. Unfortunately, I can’t really hear Rachel’s growls that well… or they just really don’t sound quite up to par with what Candice offered on that album. I’m actually worried for the band, as Rachel hasn’t offered one hint of clean. Clean really works well with Eths, so can Rachel do it? That’s the question.

In all honesty, I would just tell you to wait for the next album and check out the single and the two live tracks when they pop up on YouTube or something. I understand that the band wants to show that Rachel can do it, but maybe they should have just given us a couple of a new tracks and the live cuts instead of the three vocal mixes. They don’t stand out. Additionally, as no clean vocals are featured on the new track; I don’t really think some of the fans will be around for the aftermath and will jump to whatever new project Candice fronts in the future. Of course, some new fans will also be picked up.

(7Tracks, 29:00)

Morbid Flesh - Embedded In The Ossuary

Morbid Flesh – Embedded In The Ossuary (2014) – Sometimes a band just gives me MP3’s. But sometimes, that’s all I need. It’s a “less is more” kind of thing really, where I don’t really have to know or care about who you are or where you came from, as the music you made is what’s most important. And folks, these guys, chimpanzees, aliens from the planet F9X3 or whatever they might be (with no info this could be anyone playing metal) clearly are talented. Immediately I’m reminded of Revolting, and you know how much I live for those fucking melodies. The title track and intro piece to the disc opens with a gloomy, yet melodic intro that sounds like it would be great against the backdrop of a sinking ship. But as that ship is sinking, I’m now starting to see small creatures rise out of the water… sort of like those things in Subspecies. They start to come into play around “Charnel House 3:56” (which features one of the most awesome solos ever) as they jump onto the ship and start stabbing people with their tiny but sharp pitchforks, stabbing some of them right through the eyes. As the blinded masses struggle to see their imminent demise either by the cold icy waters, or these miniscule monsters, “Under Ragged Hoods 3:51” comes along with powerful grooves, memorable gravel and very essence of death metal. Which makes sense, as people are screaming as they die, with blood spilling all over the deck of what still remains of the ship. As the rumble of “Rising Of Shadows 3:17” comes into play, then so does the rumbling of the ocean around the sunken cruise liner itself. Drums thunder in the background as the already tortured passengers can do nothing but scream in agony, knowing that something truly horrific is on the horizon. As eerie riffs continue to appear on the track, a solo erupts and so does the earth with it. I can’t quite gather as to what these passengers might be thinking as they blindly scurry for some semblance of life where nothing but death surrounds, but I can assume that when they felt the rumbling; there was no longer any need to cling to life. “From Beyond The Bounds 5:30” certainly rings true here, as something that was previously caged, deep underneath the sea begins to rise. They can’t see it, but its presence is very near. The beats jolts up in its torrential might, as the riffs slow to allow the ominous presence of doom and the monster’s clarion call to disaster. The roar that bellows forth from the unknown monstrosity is enough to send their ears ringing, of that I’m sure. It nearly broke the glass of the view screen by which I’m watching this death metal disaster. With its presence now being known and felt, it begins to greedily scoop up the bodies of passengers and minions alike, not knowing the difference between the flesh of man nor monster as it succumbs to the unholy roar of its massive stomach. As “Summoning The Sorcery Of Death 4:10” closes our tale with the oncoming fury of doom, only the music of Morbid Flesh can decorate what is one of the most deprecating images that my eyes have ever before witnessed. What colossal evil… what foul torment has been wrought here? Where forth does this demon dwell? But that is no matter, as with a feast famished; the beast slowly merges back into the ocean waves as it prepares itself for another long and peaceful slumber… at least until the next vessel comes its way. Perhaps we do not yet know all of these things that exist underfoot, deep beneath the ocean floor…

Certainly the music of Morbid Flesh is for those with an appetite for hard-hitting, relentless, eerie and true to form classic death metal. The ghastly scene at which I’ve described certainly sits well with the music by which it decorated. If a thumping, brooding and melodic soundtrack to a horrible tragedy such as this one catches your eye… then definitely get yourself a copy.

Highlights: Entrance To The Ossuary, Charnel House, From Beyond The Bounds, Summoning The Sorcery Of Death (6 Tracks, 23:00)

Tetrarchate - Symposium Of The Tetrarchs

Tetrarchate – Symposium Of The Tetrarchs EP (2014) – Next I have a band from Pesario Urbano (which I’m guessing is somewhere in Italy, given the band member’s names) which creates a technical and melodic sort of death metal. It’s very textured, as opener “Scars 3:22” shows, even if frontman Andrea Biondi still needs a little bit of work. “Massachertorte 1:31” continues the slightly progressive and technical work, jumping into action towards the end. It’s alright for what it is. “Genocide 4:56” comes next, with an interesting intro that flows into a completely different piece (after a slight break? It almost sounds like the track changed completely) which takes on a different style of music laden with grooves and still that sense of interesting technicality. I will say that I like the experimental melody touches here, so something can certainly be said for Nezario Biscotti on the lead and rhythm guitar. There’s not a whole lot of Andrea here, but Nezario certainly keeps me entertained with what I’m almost going to say is a Death influence. Now I don’t take that lightly, because you don’t just go around throwing the work of Chuck and crew like it’s a bag of sprinkles; but I am hearing some of that influence on this short record. The guys end the album with “Chant Of The Forsaken 5:18” which adds the techy prog mixture into what sounds like driving thrash. That’s not too bad at all. I almost think of hearing something like this playing while I’m racing down the track in F-Zero. Andrea Bondi and Nezario Biscotti together make a great lead and rhythm team and though I’ve heard no real solo on the disc, I’m still quite confident that we will hear much better things in the future from these guys.

Highlights: Genocide. Chant Of The Forsaken, (4 Tracks, 15:00)

Chaos Order - Werewolf Congress - Order Of The Wolf Split

Chaos Order/Werewolf Congress – Order Of The Wolf Split EP (2014) – Here’s a split EP from Chaos Order and Wolf Congress, as denoted already by the title. But before I waste any more time typing things that you already know, let’s go right into it.

Tennessee’s Chaos Order begin the album with the punchy “Through Humanity’s Venom 1:44” as they give us a good dose of paralyzing hardcore from the beginning. There’s some great bits of speed here too and these guys sound full of fire and ready to tear some shit up. You’ll be ready to tear some shit up while you’re listening to them too.

So-Cal’s Werewolf Congress have more of skater-punk sense to their style of hardcore and it makes them stand apart from Chaos Order. I think the band also sounds like they’re ready to tear some shit up. I don’t really like the vocals as much as Chaos Order, but Werewolf Congress will undoubtedly have fans. However, I do like the slight atmosphere during the breakdown for “The Dead Generation 3:37.” I do believe that there’s definitely an audience for this and that we’ll be hearing more from these guys before you know it.

Chaos Order come back with “A Conscious Decision (Ritualistic Rebirth 2:01)” which seems to deliver with just as much power and spite, as Werewolf Congress go into a heavier take with “Second Chances 3:01.” To be honest, I can’t really get into these kind of vocals; but I know that people like this stuff. It’s just not really my thing. Werewolf Congress does try to elicit some atmosphere, but I just can’t get into them otherwise, but Chaos Order makes me want to beat the hell out of something. All in all, both bands show their strengths and it’s a good tie-over for their respective releases.

(4Tracks, 10:00)

Gluttony - Beyond The Veil Of Flesh

Gluttony – Beyond The Veil Of Flesh (2014) – Eight tracks and less than thirty minutes compose this album from classic death metallers Gluttony, who manage to get right to the grime with “The Revenant 2:49.” Obviously, the death-churning grooves and drum thunder appear here just as they would with any other band of this nature, but I feel that the band really have a hell of a frontman (he utilizes wonderful fucking rasps and growls) and that separates these guys from other acts of the type. The title track (3:12) speeds things up a bit, as “Eaten Alive 4:35” opens with an interesting quote as it thunders into battle with the barreling “Eaten Alive 4:35.” Through and through, this is death metal just like grandma used to make. “Raise The Dead 4:27” comes on with a bout of fury as these demonstrate that they can indeed play loud, heavy and with passion. Choruses are a large part of the band as well, as the frontman spurts them out like water. But that’s perfectly expected. “Coffinborn 4:32” dials down the speed a little and makes way for the groove as “Post Mortem Decapitation 2:57” brings the speed right back again. “And Then You Rot 3:02” comes off sounding like Grave, finalizing the disc with “On The Slab 4:06” which displays some crushing points in the chorus. All in all, Gluttony are good at what they do; but I’d like to hear a little more from them than this. They can play classic death metal but there’s no solos, not a whole lot of new melodies and a bit too much of the same when it comes to song structure. However, they’ve got a killer frontman and his performance is well worth remembering.

(8Tracks, 29:00)

Violation Wound - self titled

Violation Wound – Violation Wound (2014) – Violation Wound is a three piece, and only the drummer still has his hair. With bald heads shining, these guys manage to make a rather short but angry punk/metal album. Punk riffs back frantic metal screaming, and some solos also make an appearance here and there. The longest track on this record is “Off The Rails 3:11” which is about average single length, but some of the songs here are only thirty-five or fifty seconds long. It’s not an album that you really need to say too much about, but these guys have managed to put forth a good mix of punk and metal that should appeal to fans of each. They know what they’re doing and have created a rather ravenous style of musical rebellion that speaks to the guitarist’s chops and the frontman’s vocal bark. It’s hard-hitting punk with a vocal approach that fits and makes it even more abrasive. These guys are quite upset and they want people to know it. But they have every right to be, with the world we live in.

(18Tracks, 25:00)

3 Responses

  1. Alon Mei-Tal

    Hey man! This is one of the guitarists of Sirion and I have to thank you for that incredible review. Do you have a physical copy of the EP? If not, we’d love to send you one along with a t-shirt or something.
    As an unknown band in a city brimming with unknown bands, it really means a lot to have our music recognized and praised so highly. Maybe when we release our full-length we could work out some kind of cross-promotional giveaway type of thing?
    Thanks again and definitely let us know if we can send you some merch as a thank you.
    You rock!

    • Eric May

      Yes! You can contact me through the contact page, where I will send you an email with my mailing address. Thanks a lot! – Eric


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