Week 110 (May 4, 2014)

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Folks, I have a bit of a confession to make. As far as music terminology goes, I’m not all that well-versed in it. But you can probably tell that from my reviews. When I review a disc, I basically try to describe it in the most artistic and literary style that I can. Perhaps it’s different from normal reviewers who focus on the different terms and what-not, but it still gets the point across so I will keep doing it. Regardless, I would like for you all to check out Spynal’s Discography Reviews as she is far well-versed in musical terminology than I am, due to having studied music theory. She’s been reviewing some newer promos which I haven’t gotten to yet, so definitely check her work out when you get a chance. She is also a much harsher critic than I am which gets to my next point…

About a week ago, I received an email from a band who argued to me that my score was much lower than what the album deserved. To avoid conflict, I will not mention this album or band; but I will say that I gave the record a much higher score than some of the other average or mediocre albums I have reviewed here. At any rate, the fellow asked if I could give the record something a bit higher, perhaps an 8 or an 8.5 for example. Please understand that I do respect the fact that every piece of music I review is someone’s personal artwork and that they may have a much stronger opinion of it than I do. My opinion of music counts for just one out of approximately seven billion people on this earth. It is almost guaranteed that someone somewhere may think an album that I thought was fair, poor or mediocre is the best thing on the planet. But that is why I once again reiterate the simple fact that you should check out each album I review. It doesn’t matter if I gave it a two or a one. If it sounds like something that you would be into, then please check it out and support the band. I’ve also mentioned this before, but The Grim Tower is not only about reviews – it’s about promotion. These labels and bands come to me with new artists and my job is to get them out there to you. I like artists who go above and beyond to deliver something really spectacular that you’ll remember for weeks, months or even for many years to come. Yet I will also admit that like everyone else, I also have my favorite genres and styles of music. Each person has something that speaks to them, after all. Please don’t email me in reference to altering a score, because I just cannot do that. I give each album what I feel it deserves and could not live with myself to do anything less. So without further ado, here is Week 110.

Sol Negro - Dawn Of A New Sun

Sol Negro – Dawn Of A New Sun (2014) – I’m under the impression that Sol Negro is a black metal band, but you can’t tell that at the very beginning. In fact, the opener “No Fear To Die 8:01” opens up on something that doesn’t even really seem like black metal at all. Doom riffs open for what sounds like folk-inspired melodies; while the gruff and raspy vocalist continues this spoken word vocal approach for abut the first minute and a half of the song. But when the drums finally kick and the melodies start flaring, something that seems very black metal begins to crawl out from the surface. Yet again, this isn’t an approach that is completely black metal and that’s why I’m curious as to what else is in store for the album. There’s a piece where blasts and scowls appear, but it doesn’t stay for long, allowing memorable melodies and a Satyr inspired vocal acrobatic to continue throughout. This actually makes me think of the self-titled Satyricon record, but in a good way. As in, Sol Negro might have actually done the style that Satyr was attempting in the proper fashion.

Interestingly though, all of the other songs are much shorter than this one, yet still enact the same feeling. “9th Conjuration 4:04” comes in with drums tapping and pounding along as some riffs that definitely reek of the old school come into place… and couple with that vocal approach – it’s fucking magic. These guys remind me why I love and get into heavy metal music so much, because every now and again you hear a band like this who is willing to turn the tables and offer something truly unique. Slow, but pummeling at the right moments; someone really needs to mail Satyr a copy of this record with a note attached that says “Is this what you were going for?” because these guys fucking nailed it. Then you’ve got these wonderfully dreary melodies that transform into clean folk. It’s truly unreal. “Dead Emotions 4:28” invokes some true doom, complete with a vibrato backing which brings the classic nature of the piece home for me. Then you have a solo interjection which fades out in favor of some synths. Beautiful fucking melodies come next in the form of another, much longer solo (with a few vocals) as the track makes you wonder how a nearly five minute piece can sound as grandiose as an eight minute epic. “Nuclear Sentinel 5:13” injects that classic doom style again, in the form of some almost bluesy riff melodies. It does that between sections of black metal and other assorted riff styles however, making for an atmospheric experience that’s quite refreshing. The piece actually ends out on thrash riffs, rolling right back into black metal and tremolo; but that’s perfectly okay with me. These gentlemen have exercised the book of metal with this piece, utilizing everything from its past and present (that’s memorable anyway) as they chop up and add it to a flavorful stew. Then “They Came from Darkness 4:53” comes into play with its middle-eastern inspired riff melodies, and several extra layers of guitar semen. “The Passage Without Light 6:44” reminds us that our journey is almost over, and it does that with a slower and more dreadful approach. But that’s not to say that the effect isn’t recallable. There’s definitely sections of bite to be found within this approach, making me think of Conan the barbarian wandering around a fortress, the band instrument his battles with the guards, whilst slowly creeping through the halls as he makes his way to the inner sanctum wherein the sorcerer dwells. During these moments of battle, the scowls spill forth from the frontman’s mouth as the drums come on loud and heavy, and the tremolos decorate his mighty blows against their steel helmets. As he creeps closer to the inner sanctum, the guitars continue to light his passage with their incredible sense of atmosphere which is damn near indescribable. If you haven’t heard this album yet, then you really need to. If these guys haven’t yet been signed, then someone really needs to get off their ass and give them a deal for this. I’d sign them twice for a release as potent as this one. Operatic female vocals too? Well, why didn’t you say so? There’s almost nothing that these gentlemen won’t employ and it shows me that Sol Negro really give a damn about the music they play. “Wherein Flies The Raven 5:39” ends the album with the same sense of death/black/doom that most of these tracks have employed thus far, keeping things ultimately timeless. Of course there are slight moments of amazement and wonder throughout, but if you look at just who helped to write these tracks in the past, then you’ll see why this album is so fucking good. Normally I would tell you that, but I want you to search it and discover the amazement for yourself. These guys make the same kind of music that we do in Torii, but I’ve got to bow to my fucking masters. This is definitely one of the greatest albums that I’ve heard all fucking year.

It goes without saying that you’ve got to get your hands on this incredible fucking masterpiece. I’m blown away beyond repair and can’t believe that something this great even exists. If you call yourself a metalhead, then you’ll definitely find respect for this one. This is the essence of great black metal, doom, thrash and death done by men who are clearly well-versed in their craft.

(7Tracks, 39:00)
10/10

Architect Of Disease - Open The Hearts

Architect Of Disease – Open The Hearts (2014 BR) – This disc came in the mail, along with a short bio which describes the band as a black metal act with denser and darker songs, which are unpredictable but still in the frames of the genre. Wiiku of (Persecutor and Pabiance) performs the vocals on this record, but I have to say that his vocal approach is a little rough for me. It’s not something that I absolutely despise, but I feel it’s not something that catches me right from the start. However, I had a metal-inclined friend listen to the album and he thinks that the vocals on this disc are quite good. So it really depends on your point of view. Regardless of that, we’re being confronted by a band that almost seems to inject progressive atmospheres into their fuzzy and slightly chunky style of black metal. Wiiku’s vocals aren’t quite the scowl you’d expect, sounding something that could work for thrash, or even classic death metal. Texturally, it’s rather well done and I can’t argue that point. Though a bit raw, the drums pound in the mix, as tremolic experiments (and yes, it appears that I’ve just made up a word) seem to soak the album in a style that sounds not only like the frost of black metal, but like something else entirely. And that, ladies and gentlemen… that is where I give a shit. For instance, “Bones Regime 6:01” entertains a solo during melancholic doom melodies wherein Wiiku’s vocals actually sound necessary. Once again, you can’t say that these guys aren’t trying, but it’s just a debut so of course it displays the band at its infancy and will be further ironed out with future efforts. The very fact that Architect Of Disease is mixing together black metal with elements of prog and classic heavy metal is something worth clamoring over and I do feel that on this second listen, I’m really starting to understand just what they’re going for here. Of course, I can’t end this review without mentioning the album’s massive closer in “Devour The Sun 15:46” which mixes down-tuned crunch with black metal and more melancholic moments. Wiiku does some absolutely wonderful vocal things here, reminding me a whole hell of a lot of Death and that says something about the band’s influences. There’s actually quite a bit of bands like Death, Master, Slayer and Metal Church that can be found here and I think that older heads are going to bang their heads in recognition. Yet none of this would really be possible without the dueling guitar force of Markiz and Matys, who provide the right amount of musical atmosphere with each solo and melody that they play. These guys sound quite old, but that might be a good thing, because it means that they’ve got some experience and they’re more familiar with the old bands. When you hear the old sound being channeled in through your speakers and melding partway with the new, then you know that you’ve really got something here.

Architect Of Disease bring on a refreshing take to the black metal genre that invokes some not so new and more entertaining elements than the core and technicality of late. It really does sound like black metal if Death or Master had gotten a hold of it, which makes for a wonderfully pleasing and memorable listen that might be hard to grasp at first, yet delivers in spades after you’ve soaked it in. But think about it for a second… You don’t really want an easily accessible release right from the start, correct? There are plenty of pop metal acts that will give you that sort of open door access, but very few bands out there who will give you real substance. It’s a sound that you have to work for, but it finally dawned on me that this disc is a real diamond in the rough. The next record should have much longer songs on it though, as “Devour The Sun” really fucking spoiled me. Definitely give these guys a spin.

Highlights: Bones Regime, Devour The Sun (7 Tracks, 45:00)
8.5/10

Sabbatory - Endless Asphyxiating Gloom

Sabbatory – Endless Asphyxiating Gloom (2014) – Canadian death metallers Sabbatory (made up of former/current members of Besieged) evoke a mood that sits between Morgoth and Celtic Frost, (which I observed from the PR info) and I can certainly sense that from the classic sound that I’m being bombarded with on the disc. Opener “Being, Thy Eternal Perplexor 4:59” sees thrash riffs coupled with menacing death metal groans, high flying solos and the entire spirit of classic death metal wrapped up into a nice little Celtic Frosty. “Hypnotic Regression 3:18” throws punk riffs into my face as the heat and warmth from the music then translates into a progressive era-Deathstorm. The old sound was bathed in heat, so listening to this thing is equivalent to being in a sauna. Then without warning, a screaming solo bursts forth from the ceiling. “Corrosive Decay 5:00” brings in the grooves, showing me yet another shade of classic era death metal. The raw production of this thing sets it right into the mood of nineties death metal, and few people would be able to tell the difference if you played it. As an experiment, try playing this in front of a bunch of “scenesters” (as they’re called, a new word on me) and see how many of them laugh and call you an old man. But oh, the irony. For you know what true metal is, and it indeed exists on this Sabbatory record. “Infantasy 4:24” adds more unexpected twists into the music, beginning in riff melodies that sound a little less conventional, but certainly welcome. Thrash riffs then erupt from the piece, with slight instances of groove and more structural presence. At least every song on this album doesn’t sound the same, which I can say for few bands these days.

The title cut (5:25) comes next, albeit with a couple of buried melodies in the beginning. Apparently they thought that the drums needed to be louder than they were. No matter, as the thrash comes right in to decorate the always punchy vocal effort. Later a solo flows into the mix, as more instrumentalism bursts forth creating a very fine moment of head banging. Sabbatory definitely evoke the spirit of true death metal better than some other acts that I’ve heard lately. Next we have “The End Of A Pessimistic Voyage 5:24” which piles structure upon structure upon prog upon structure. There’s definitely quite a bit going on here, including the inclusion of a rasped vocal guest which definitely helps the already intriguing piece to shine amongst the other truly great tracks on the disc. Two guitar solos are used on the disc, but Sabbatory don’t seem to go overboard with them. They seem to one and done most of these solos, with a “wham, bam, thank you, Mam” sort of formula. It’s like short orgasmic bursts, which allow the other instruments to show off as with the album’s closer “Orbiting Obscuron 4:53” which opens with thick instrumentalism before the vocals even appear. Another band whose taking something from Death and running with it, these Canadians are not to be taken lightly.

I definitely prefer the work in Sabbatory over the work in Besieged and am quite pleased that this debut album finally released. These guys are pumped full of energy and they come off like a raging powerhouse of metallic might. The definite definition of diabolic death dirges can be found within this oncoming storm of mixed emotions, ideas and unhinged carnage that is not only powerful, but perfected to proficiency. You’ll hear tight musicianship that doesn’t show nary a sign of a slip, with every note coming on just as strong as the one before it. These guys really brushed up on their death metal and Endless Asphyxiating Gloom proves it.

(7Tracks, 33:00)
9/10

Conan - Blood Eagle

Conan – Blood Eagle (2014) – I’ve put this Conan review off for quite a while. But that’s because I just found them very hard to get into to be honest. I like doom as much as the next person, but this disc is just too damn slow for me. “Crown Of Talons 10:06” began with groovy doom riffs and it ended with groovy doom riffs. There’s really not much to these guys but a veritable wall of warm fuzz and occasional vocals that remind me a bit of Neurosis, but with a gruffer edge. Everything about this band is slow and barbaric, but to some, that’s going to sound just how they like it. The drums are incredibly thick, as thick as the riffs and the ever looming thump of the bass. Whew, this band is about ten thousand pounds of steel being thrown into my eardrums at once. It’s probably good for lifting weights. Damn, “Total Conquest 6:39” sounds the same, except that it’s got more vocals. The music is exactly the same. There’s not even much a difference in tempo. Would we even know if they changed songs during a live concert? Thankfully, “Foehammer 5:04” comes off a bit more rambunctious. At least in the beginning. There’s a little bit of a drone feeling in the riffs later on in the song, something that could do well to snake around one’s head.

And here comes the CRUNCH. “Gravity Chasm 8:11” sounds just like the album’s opener, but with a bit more groove. These guys have probably blown amps on stage with such ridiculously thick bass riffs. “Horns For Teeth 5:57” is the same damn thing! Lastly we’ve got “Altar Of Grief 9:17.” There’s a tribal sort of thing going on here at first, but it doesn’t take long before all we hear is BASS. As a matter of fact, the band should call their next album Bass Of The Gods as it would be fitting for the sound they deliver. I like post metal and I like doom, hell – I can even really get into sludge. But this is the wall of sound thing that I was warned about by a friend years ago. Conan is one big fucking wall of thunder and heat. I’m sure that if it gets cold enough, you can probably crank this album up to full blast and use the fierce amount of sound waves that it carries to heat your home. If that sounds like your bag, then definitely check it out.

(6Tracks, 45:00)
6/10

Anal Blasphemy - Forbidden Eye - The Perverse Worship Of Satanic Sins Split

Anal Blasphemy/Forbidden Eye – The Perverse Worship Of Satanic Sins Split CD (2014) – Here’s a split from two black metal bands, Anal Blasphemy and Forbidden Eye. Let’s get right into it, because my sinuses are killing me.

Anal Blasphemy start out the split with “Licking The Cunt Of Chaos 3:51” a decidedly raw black metal effort with fuzzy guitars and half-audible drums, yet strangely loud vocals. The band employ a raspier tone as well as more gruff one as they take us through a style that we’re quite familiar with. You have to give it to the frontman though, he’s got some rather ghoulish screams amidst the dark riffing that pervades this thing. Then we have “Sperm Of Satan, Antichrist Semen 4:19” which comes on hokey that it’s almost laughable. Good luck really hearing anything at this point, as the static of tremolo and beats that might be drums continue throughout this recording that sounds like it was recorded in a shoebox somewhere. You have to give them points for using the vocal chants though. These guys really love their Satan. This side of the split ends with a much slower track with a sorrowed nature, as it slowly gains momentum only to go into atmosphere wherein spoken vocal chants follow.

Forbidden Eye is next and they begin with a gothic “intro 1:20” which sees keyboards play along with slight hints of vocal rasp. “The Moon Of The Blood Serpent 4:16” finally comes in with clearer riffs, audible drums and vocal scowl that I like much better. Tremolo melodies throughout, but I can identify with it more. “Monastery Of Satan 4:15” comes in with blasts and more tremolo as the vocals deliver in much the same way. Not much to expect here, but it’s being done right. Alright, here’s the last song on the disc called “Hour Glass Of Black Tears 4:54.” So, is there anything new to be found here? Nope, not really. Other than the same melodies, blasts and vocals; only a slight guitar outro exists to differentiate the track from anything else that is here.

Well, there’s really not much here to satiate my black metal urge. We’ve got two black metal acts, one that’s not quite audible yet has some great vocal aesthetics, and the other who just kind of well… gets by, more or less. To be terribly honest, there’s nothing really special about either of these acts no matter how kvlt they’re trying to be. I’ve heard much better acts of this nature and I hope that evolution will come from either of these acts in the future. Right now, I’m just hearing another rehash of the late nineties black metal scene. If it speaks to you, grab it. But I’ll pass.

(7Tracks, 32:00)
5.5/10

Cynic - Kindly Bent To Free Us

Cynic – Kindly Bent To Free Us (2014) – It took a while, but I finally made it to Cynic’s latest album and like you’ve probably already guessed, (or have already heard by this time) it’s certainly not a return to form in Focus. Nor did you expect that. I actually think that The Blank Page said it best with their small rant about the album, saying that it was a little too much like progressive rock, comparing it to bands like Aeon Spoke (of whom I’ve never heard by the way.) But at any rate, this comparison to progressive rock certainly seems to fit Kindly Bent… as it certainly takes the band’s music into a whole other level, far removed from their early days. While there are heavy riffs, you really can’t call this sort of thing metal and even Cynic know and realize this. Just like Mastodon, they’ve left the harsh vocals behind and are working to a much more mature sound. In about ten years, they’ll probably making cheery little songs for holo-decks that we’ll hear inside of our heads after brain implants become the norm for most of humankind.

Truth be told, there are some memorable tracks on the record like “The Lion’s Roar 4:35”, “Moon Heart Sun Head 5:21” and “Holy Fallout 6:35” but the rest of these pieces just seem to come and go. It’s much catchier than Traced In Air, but might be a bit too light-hearted for those who like it dark, hard and heavy. Paul’s vocals are quite angelic for the most part, with never even an utterance of anger. It could very much be seen like a sort of metaphysical meditation in all honesty and far be it from me to believe otherwise. Prog heads will love the multi-textured landscapes, layers of technicality and enlightening keyboard antics. Death metal heads have already given up on the band years ago. Whatever the case, Cynic is making the music that they want to make and it’s a natural evolution from their previous efforts, (except for Focus of course) shining brightly in the night sky, draped in all the colors of the universe. If nothing else, it’s certainly a beautiful exercise in rock, metal or whatever you wish to call it. Quite simply, it’s an album that you either love or loathe as with Tool, of whom is definitely an influence here. If music is an expression of ritual for you, then you’ll definitely want to pick up this multi-colored vision (before you drink the blue lotus tea, not afterwards) today.

Highlights: The Lion’s Roar, Moon Sun Heart Head, Holy Fallout (8 Tracks, 41:00)
7/10

Invertia - Another Scheme Of The Wicked

Invertia – Another Scheme Of The Wicked (2014) – New Englanders Invertia mix the sounds of black metal with harsh industrial elements, but their approach still needs a bit of work and I’m sure that it will get fleshed out in the future. After all, this is just a twenty minute EP with five wonderful remix pieces attached to it, in essence giving the listener two different versions of the album.

The disc starts out with “The Sidewinding 5:20” which demonstrates the band’s mix of dark, progressive riffing with some minimalist programmed drums. There’s a harsh vocal element here of gravel, but it doesn’t work so well as the scowls in the background. It sounds a little under-produced, or needs to be raised higher in the mix. I can’t really hear the vocals at all. However, I’ve got to recognize the handle that these guys have on voice-clips because they seem to deliver them in between thick drum blasts, which really makes the song memorable as it edges closer to the end. The vocals seem to not meld very well, one of the vocalists appears to be on a completely different page than the other and it’s a bit unfortunate. It almost sounds like one vocalist is screaming a different set of lines than is uttered by the gravel. I’m just curious as to why Dave Coppola and Tim Winston didn’t realize this earlier. “Cross-Eyed Christ 3:12” has the right atmosphere going on as far as thunderous electronic death metal with slight tinges of black metal, but the deep throated growls that cover the piece are too low in the mix to even care about. “Void Of Community 4:04” however mixes the progressive black metal with a much fiercer approach in the scowl, which should be the band’s permanent manner of vocal. As much as I love death growls, the guy just doesn’t have it, I’m not feeling it. I’m not the best growler in the world either, (I wish I could have redone the vocal tracks on “Lord Of Waters” to make them sound more like those used on “Inexorable” but if I didn’t release that album, I’d have gone mad) but I’m just hearing a whole lot of nothing when I am hearing the growl portions on this album. The music on the disc it’s good, it’s always done well; but the growls vocals will test the listener’s patience. I’m sure that these guys mean well, but why isn’t this thing mixed a little better? Shit, I’d mix it for free if I had the vocal tracks. All it needs is a bit of polish. I’m literally to the point of pulling my hair out because a simple raise in the vocal level could have improved the performance of the whole disc. You want people to hear your growls right? Well, mix them so that people can hear the growls. Mix them high in the mix so that they’re loud enough to be heard. And the screamer performs well on the disc, but this album would kill if those scowls were raised so high that you could feel the animosity that I’m only getting a glimpse of. I’ve heard quite a few black metal discs that benefit from a screeching scowl vocal and this harsh industrial approach would have greatly benefited from it. As such, “Hourglass Without Sand 4:19” is forgettable, while the closer “They’re Everywhere 3:14” gives me exactly what the fuck I just mentioned. But why on one song? Raise those scowls on the other tracks. If you re-record the other four for a debut LP, then please raise the vocals. That’s all I ask. Even though it’s still got a raw approach, I think “They’re Everywhere 3:14” is the best song from the original material hands down.

Now for the remix material. The remix of “The Sidewinding 7:17” is from Justin K. Broadrick, who should need no introduction. As such, Justin found the problems with the original recording and fixed them. Everything sounds much louder and more demonic. The man who damn near invented this genre got a hand in this, and as such, the result is amazing. Justin, I think it’s really fucking awesome that you decided to help out a small act like this. It’s stuff like this that really separates the border between popular musician and underground musician. It shows me that if you just put the word out and if the person has time, then nearly impossible circumstances like this can be achieved. Personally, I think this track is remarkable. It’s worth buying this whole album for this track alone. I’m quite amazed at the time he took to make something that leaves my mouth agape. End.user of The Blood Of Heroes takes on Cross-Eyed Christ with a fierce but rambunctiously drum and bass approach. End.user also fixed the volume levels on the vocals as can be heard on the remix. The original growls are not lost, but now serve as signposts in this bizarre and interesting experiment that’s a blast to listen to. TranZi3nT handles the remix of “Void Of Community 5:18” as he manipulates the vocals to that of a spasmodic robot demon thing. Back that with some eerie harmonies and the original guitar track, and you’ve got a very interesting take on industrial black metal. “Hourglass Without Sand” got a remix by Submerged of Method Of Defiance and The Blood Of Heroes, (I’m going to have to check these bands out now) creating a punchier version of the original complete with more drum and bass mayhem. Yet the guitar tracks are intact, so you’ve still got the faint feel of black metal. It just sounds like black metal if composed in the year 2042. The last remix on the disc (and album closer) is “They’re Everywhere 4:54” which received an interesting and extremely frightening interpretation by R3TRD. He’s slowed the original track down a lot, making the vocal approach sound like something of an echo. Hell, the whole song shakes quite a bit to be honest. There’s also quite a bit of “Jesus!” on the track, which adds to the message behind the album. Though not on the original piece, R3TRD displays this piece as an accompaniment piece to the horrors of modern institutionalized religion. It’s on that note that my overview of the album is complete.

I believe that I’ve noted everything there is to note about the original versions of these tracks and the remixes. I vastly prefer the remixes over the original, but I will say that there are still some strong moments to be found in a few of these pieces. I definitely recommend that you check it out, because there’s promise in the band and perfection in the remixes. You get the choice of two separate versions of the album piled onto just one single disc. No extra fees, no DLC charge, not LTD edition nonsense. Every copy of the album contains these tracks. So definitely grab it. I strongly believe that Invertia will get better as they go on and hopefully on their next effort the mix will be much better. The original album suffers from a bad mix and vocal problems, but everything else is done well enough. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more in the future.

Highlights: The Sidewinding, Void Of Community, They’re Everywhere, All Remixes (10 Tracks, 42:00)
7/10 (Org. Album) 8/10 (Remixes) = 7.5/10

Suffer Yourself - Inner Sanctum

Suffer Yourself – Inner Sanctum (2014) – A Ukrainian death/doom project that originally started out as a one man band in Poland, Suffer Yourself considers their music similar to acts like Evoken, Catacombs, diSEmbowelment and Mistress Of The Dead. Not surprisingly, long and creepy songs fill the atmosphere of this record, backed by thundering thick vocals. The guitar melodies are as I’ve stated, quite eerie, replete with slow, but mountainous drums. Clean vocals are also used on the record, sounding ultimately breathtaking and evoking quite a lot of passion amidst the melancholic synths. Quite simply put, this is death/doom at its very apex. The title track alone is filled with monolithic majesty, something that I could wax poetic about for hours, but I’ll save you the time and leave it there. The next track is “Darkness Pt.1 12:29” which adds violins and piano to the already synthy gothic mix of doom and death. Yet this is continued with “Darkness Pt.2 14:12” which proves that these guys really love the darkness. This song is much different however, as it begins with an atmosphere that sounds like something out of a horror film before the guitars even come into the mix. These guys really know how to get under your skin, which makes for a frightening lesson in dread, despair and hopelessness. But that’s not without a few guitar theatrics here and there. I’m not sure if it’s Eugene Dmitrev or frontman Stanislav Govorukha, but one of these guys isn’t afraid to do a little bit of completely out of element guitar fiddling. A fearsome vocal shriek also comes into play on the track as the drums get to kicking up and the whole thing takes a massive turn from the slow nature that usually pervades this kind of music. But bringing some true death metal tendencies is nothing that I will shun and it wakes the listener up in a ferocious manner. “Winter Evening (Soir d’hiver) 9:55” comes next with its use of icy keyboards and Paradise Lost influenced melodies. We certainly won’t dismiss either. Whoever these guys are, they certainly know their doom and they recognize its influences. I’m actually really impressed with this disc and it’s not even over yet. There’s just one more track that remains on the album and it contains Greg Chandler of Evoken and Lychgate, who also mixed the album. So wasn’t that fucking awesome of him? Anyway, the track I’m referring to is “Eternity (L’Eternite) 10:20” which does sound rather more menacing with Greg’s unfriendly backing vocal, yet it also employs a section of groove right when we need it most. Powerful melodies pervade throughout the track, making for a wonderful closing section to the piece as a whole.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Suffer Yourself is one of the best doom/death bands I’ve ever heard. These guys capture the spirit of morose terror that I’ve always loved about the genre. They’re able to utilize each and every instrument to its full potential, including the vocal element which shines in both the brooding gravel department and the melancholic clean department. This is the very expression of the sub-genre of death/doom, presented in its most epic construct. The very fact that these gentlemen don’t shy away from the element of death metal like heavyweights November’s Doom, shows me that there’s something noteworthy to be had here. This is definitely the death/doom record of the year thus far for me, and I highly recommend getting your hands on it.

10/10

Warfist - The Devil Lives In Grunberg

Warfist – The Devil Lives In Grunberg (2014) – With a name like Warfist, I’m quite sure that these guys aren’t about to cover any of Luciano Pavarotti’s classic opera tunes. But what they are about to do, is give you an old school thrashing the likes of early Bathory, Venom, Sodom and Motorhead. Hailing from Zielona Gora, these guys bring out a raw and dirty approach to black/thrash that you’ll soak in quickly. This is their debut album after doing a few demos and splits earlier, showing the band at an experienced level as they’ve certainly got their style down and do manage to do justice to all of their influences with this record. Each and every song offers a raw and punchy nature, complete with Mihu’s rough vocal utterances which sound perfectly at home with thrash, and as such; go well with this material. You can certainly hear the Motorhead in “Hellslut 2:39” and the Venom in “Vengeance From Hell 3:35” yet there are also some more modern influences that find their way into these songs from time to time, which does keep things fresh and interesting. Both “Black Mass Ritual 2:07” and “Ironfist Commando 2:07” contain sections that can’t be described by any of these four aforementioned acts, which is a good thing, as again; it keeps things refreshing. There aren’t actually a load of solos on the disc, which is awfully odd however, as I quite remember their influences utilizing some rather massive solo efforts. I mean, what’s this kind of metal without a healthy helping of guitar acrobatics in the form of a solo?

Warfist definitely have their style down, they’ve got the production down and they’ve got the feeling of the era they’re trying to capture down. But they still lack a little to get it fully flowing. Standout tracks like “Hellslut”, “Thrash Through The NIght 3:09” and the title cut (4:09) definitely show the band at their strongest, but I’m not so sure how well this thing will do against other records of its type. At any rate, they’ve definitely got enough punch and promise to make a dent out there and that’s saying something. Maybe not now, but soon. At any rate, I don’t believe that you can go wrong with this album if you like black thrash, as that’s exactly what they capture with this release. It’s a thrashing good time that you’ll come back to whenever you need it, that’s for sure. Just bring a little more muscle next time, gentlemen… and some more solos!

Highlights: Hellslut, Thrash Through The Night, The Devil Lives In Grunberg (11 Tracks, 33:00)
7/10

Bleeding Fist - Deaths OId Stench

Bleeding Fist – Death’s OId Stench (2014) – Another band of fists, this time in the form of fearsome black metal by two chainsaw wielding maniacs; Bleeding Fist have released this set of previously unreleased sessions (which they’ve entitled “The Deathcult Sessions”) to the public for the first time ever. I think the most interesting thing so far that I’ve heard on the disc is the inclusion of harmonica on the piece of black metal blasphemy entitled “Holy Saint Of Death 4:43.” It’s certainly a unique touch for the album and hopefully we’ll hear even more interesting things on the disc to come. “Brotherhood Of Chaos And Death 5:29” comes immediately next, as the raw atmosphere of the disc fits well with its unholy howling and even more unfriendly riffs. If these guys are trying to praise Satan, then they’re doing it in the most hellish of ways, as they bring forth the very experience of hellish torment on this interesting release. “Revelation Of Degenesis 4:14” even contains a loud “ugh!” just to show how devoted these guys are to kicking ass and playing black metal. While not offering anything truly special since the round of harmonica, they do make a pretty mean black metal sandwich and I can’t fault them for that. “The Veiled Crowned Queen 4:19” brings in some doom elements and an unheard vocal approach, but that doesn’t last long before they go into something that seems a bit more towards the melodic style of Rotting Christ. It does work for me, however. And there’s a return of the harmonica if you’ll listen closely. A couple of chants compose an interlude, which leads right into “Azazel 6:45” which features another “ugh!” I keep imagining that one of these guys is doing the whole Duke Nukem kick in the air thing with his fist in the air. All it needs next is for someone to say, “I’m here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all outta gum.” Regardless, this rough effort sounds a whole lot thicker for some reason, yet it also doubles as the longest song on the album. As such, more vocal chants are uttered, summoning all sorts of unholy denizens into my home. Good, at least I’ll have someone to talk to now. I wonder how Azazel takes his coffee.

“Death Almighty Death 5:09” kind of runs through the motions, with some more chanting and such. “Blackened Illumination 6:33” is the second longest track on the album, but it doesn’t really do all that much for me. To be honest, these guys offer little more than what I’ve already heard. They have the right sense of feeling and devotion to these demonic hymns, but there’s not much musically going on. Perhaps the disc contains too many theatrics and not enough musicality.

There’s really not much else to say here, other than the fact that Bleeding Fist do try to do something interesting things while unleashing a listenable performance. It’s definitely full of satanic blasphemy, occult chanting and sometimes even harmonica. But uh, whatever works, right? At any rate, I’m curious as to what their future material will sound like, as they really do a decent job with melodic black metal and seem to have the right amount of comedic devotion to pull this off. Once again, I wonder how Azazel takes his coffee.

(12Tracks, 48:00)
7/10

One Response

  1. Bill

    Hey man. Great reviews! Been listening to Suffer Yourself’s CD…super heavy. Greg Chandler is in Esoteric and Lychgate. But Suffer Yourself sounds much more like the death/doom of Evoken to me.
    While the musicianship on the new Cynic CD is interesting enough, the songs don’t seem to have many moments that express any emotion strong enough for me.

    Peace

    Reply

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