Due to my work schedule, I’ll be updating around the end of the week. Kind of makes it easy to tell when the Tower goes up now, since it’ll be before the weekend if at all possible. I’ve got plenty of interviews headed this way too, so keep a lookout each week for a new one. I’m still trying to hammer out the new Torii album so my hands are full between work and recording. We’ve got a .5 coming next week; so that’s going to be hell for me, but good for you, right?
Pale Divine – Cemetery Earth (2014) – Pale Divine is a traditional doom metal band that mixes a couple shots of Jack Daniels into their 200% proof Southern moonshine mix. These guys also know their way around blues guitar, which helps this shit to come off even more potent than normal. It’s jazzy solos like the one featured right at the tip of “Broken Wings 6:01” that really lays the potential down and you’d be damn fool not to recognize it. This blues-influenced doom reminds me a little bit of Acid Bath and Saint Vitus, which is one hell of a damned mix, if I do say so myself. “The Eyes Of Destiny 6:18” came roaring into battle, as “(I Alone) The Traveller 8:39” makes me think a bit of Paegan Terrorism Tactics. And yeah, that’s a good fucking album. There are no harsh vocals to speak of here, but the southern doom vibe is extremely well felt and well-meant. You could play this in the right kind of bar and it would fit the rabble rousers perfectly. And damn, can that guy play. I mean, I don’t even have to tell you how good this guy can play, it’s readily apparent after you’ve gotten lost in the fucking leads and solos. This thing is jam packed with each and it makes long ass songs like “(I Alone) The Traveller” and the title track (11:12) come off like fucking miracles.
There sometimes comes a point where I pause writing these reviews during my second listen to feel exactly what it is that I’m reviewing, and Cemetery Earth is just one of those albums that makes me stop and reflect. There’s a small instrumental piece with piano and synth that makes me also stop and reflect to wonder what the hell they were thinking with “Empyrean Dream 1:51” but the last four tracks on the disc more than make up for it. Now this thing also comes packed with the band’s demo and three live cuts on a bonus disc, which should appeal to those of you who want to hear what these guys sounded like before all the glossy production, or what you’ll hear from them when they play a dig near you. But really, these are all just icing on the cake of what it’s a phenomenal fucking doom album. I’m really blown away by this one, so I’m sure that you will be too. Pale Divine is the current definition of southern doom. If a beer-soaked brawl with some of the best goddamned blues solos you’ve ever heard works wonders for you, be sure to check this one out. Definitely one of the best damn doom discs I’ve ever heard.
Highlights: The whole disc minus “Empyrean Dream.” (2 Discs, 18 Tracks, 2 Hours)
Eyes Wide Open – Aftermath (2014) – This album actually released in 2013, but they’ve given it to me to check out this year; hence the 2014 designation. The band’s sound is a bit melodic death metal, a bit core and a bit melodic metal. Eyes Wide Open actually do a great job of mixing catchy melodies along with the clean/rough edged dual vocal acrobatic that we usually expect with this kind of music. The songs seem to capture a bit of muscularity and they do fashion some solo sections here and there to create brief accentuation to these pieces. You’ll hear plenty of Soilwork and In Flames influenced riffing throughout the piece, albeit with the added injection of core gone melodic death metal vocal acrobatics. If I could best categorize these guys, I would have to say that the term “modern melodic death metal” fits. And to be honest, it isn’t too bad a listen. Clearly these five gentlemen do a great deal of respect to their influences, while beefing up the style for the current generation. Don’t let your ears fool you, as this is still melodic death metal and it’s still just as catchy and fierce as anything you remember from Soilwork or In Flames; but there’s a definite sense of newness to the music that separates it from the records that helped to influence it. Yes, there’s a song called “New World Order 4:46” on the disc and noting my conspiracy rants, I didn’t really pick up any vibes from the track. It actually seems anti-elite, to be honest. This is a good thing, since they really perform the piece quite well. I’ll also note that I really love the stellar melodies on album closer, “Aftermath 3:10” which serves as a great way to end out a pretty memorable disc.
If there’s anything that Eyes Wide Open offer, it’s punchy and potent modernized melodeath with some catchy as hell melodies and choruses. Though the clean vocals aren’t necessarily the most beautiful you’ll ever hear in the genre, they certainly remain firmly in key and have the potential to become earworms if listened to for long enough. But it’s these kinds of qualities that we respect and look for in memorable melodic death metal. Even though the band throws a bit of core into the mix, there’s a real solid melodeath album to be had here. I really can’t complain about that, and yeah – I definitely recommend that you give the disc a spin if it sounds like something you’ll be into. I think it’s the kind of disc that will grow on you if only after a few listens. Eyes Wide Open clearly is headed somewhere and I’d definitely like to hear where this will go into the future. It’s a modern example of what the melodic death metal/melodeath genre should sound like. Hell, I’d buy it.
Dyscarnate – And So It Came To Pass (2014) – Often times I receive several bands I’ve never really heard before and Dyscarnate are one of them. But if there’s one thing that I can say about these guys, it’s that they’re pummeling. The drums erupt from the very start of “In The Face Of Armageddon 2:42” and they keep on rolling up until about “Engraving Ecstasy 3:48” where the sound changes more notable into a hardcore influenced death metal, thus adopting the deathcore sound. There’s still clearly a brutal death metal backing to these guys, but they certainly mix it in with hardcore grooves (and some other surprisingly muscular song structures) as you’ll hear boldly enforced on “The Promethean 4:32” But even on that track, the vocalist adopts a rough gravel with an additional rasp that seems to work well with the material. The bottom line is that if Dyscarnate are deathcore, then they’re some of the most memorable deathcore I’ve ever heard. I know it’s not necessarily out of the ordinary for other deathcore acts like Oceano to mix brutal death metal with the hardcore sound, but these guys seem to do it and fucking mean it. Some of the grooves might not work for the old heads, but I think that people who like unhinged brutality will find a great deal of angst and anger in the disc.
Problem is, they seem to adopt the same style as seen in “The Promethean” on the two tracks that follow after, leaving me a bit dissatisfied. I am aware of what kind of band this is and know that if nothing else, I should expect nothing less than this core-groove, but I can’t help but wonder what the album would have sounded like if things had differentiated up as much as they did at the very beginning with a song that didn’t even echo deathcore. Once again, the drummer certainly pummels the hell out of the kit, and if given enough time the vocalist will certainly unleash the fearsome beast within you. It’s the kind of thing that you put on after a hard fucking day, built with lyrics that were probably written after a hard day of menial labor with bands like All Shall Perish and Behemoth blasting in the background. If you like your core with more than a spoonful of death, then you’ll probably find something to like here.
Enthrallment – The Voice Of Human Perversity (2014) – Next I’ve got death metal from a band that could bench press me twenty times over. Seriously, damn near all of these guys look like they’ve been hitting the gym, the buffet or both. So they’re probably going to be pissed when they read this review. But then again, if I just went on the album opener “Screams Echoed Within The Cage 4:11” then I wouldn’t really be going on much. The track for the most part sounds like a basic death metal approach with not a whole hell of a lot going for it, to be honest. It’s just the kind of thing you put on and say, “Well, I’ve heard this all before.” So then I went into “Rats Before The Worms 4:28” which had a strong section in the middle, but then kind of petered out in the same way it came in. Now “Mummified Ante Mortem 4:09” for example, is a completely different piece altogether. Though it still has the same technical (almost triggered) drum style and the same barely audible melody section, something highly technical and interesting is going on here. There’s also a nice solo section attempted on the piece that makes it stand out from other albums of its type. “Rove In Hell 5:00” also sees the band at a strong moment, with plenty of little tweaks and sections that make the track feel much livelier than some of the material at the beginning. You can hear the Suffocation and Decapitated influence on the record, but I think that both of the bands (and others) who inspired these guys are probably a better listen. That’s not to say that what these guys did is a bad album, just that I think it’s a first step towards something much grander. The band seems to attempt a new idea on each track, so at least what you’re getting sounds like it’s been inspired. These guys may not be the greatest band you’ve ever heard, but you’d be an idiot not to notice the effort that was put into this record. It’s what separates underground music from the more processed and easier to absorb tunes coming out of the mainstream. These guys made technical death metal with a great deal of brutality and the albums showcases that. I definitely think these guys have something to offer, so if you’re interested, then check them out.
Highlights: Mummified Ante Mortem, Rove In Hell, Tools Of Suicide (8 Tracks, 34:00)
Kosmos – Le Vecteur Transcendantal (2014) – If there’s one thing that I remember about this exercise in the Satanic cosmos, (which is actually true in Christian belief, they used to tell me that space was the devil’s bedroom) it’s that the black metal effort was quite lengthy. I’m not going to say that these French gentlemen didn’t pour themselves into the music however, as I’d be lying. Hell, the thing’s got a nearly five-minute intro (La Jouissance du Mal 4:40) that does manage to unleash some memorable tremolo melodies right before the album kicks into gear with the title track (5:13). From this point, we’re hearing a slew of slightly progressive, heavily melodic tremolo riffs, backed by blasts and a very interesting vocal style. It’s definitely in the vein of rasp and scowl, but doesn’t have as much of the banshee wail as you might expect. To be honest, it sounds like something of a tormented whisper. But this seems to work with the spatial aspects of the piece and demonstrates the band as something unique, as we can usually find from French bands. They can have Goatee, we’ll take these guys. I think that fans of Krallice and Blut Aus Nord may find something here in this demonic symposium of the stars to sink their teeth into, with its mix of light (sometimes even acoustic) melodies amidst thundering riffs and fierce scowl-whispers. The vocal approach doesn’t work for me, but I think that the majority of listeners won’t be concerned with so much to vocal instrument as the melodies, which are the thickest and most memorable element of this record. Other than that, it’s definitely black metal in the truest sense of the word, and still elicits the same feel that I’ve gotten from the genre since it began. You can clearly tell who influenced Kosmos and what kind of album they wanted to make, and I believe they’ve certainly achieved their Memoria Vetusta II.5 of sorts with this release. It doesn’t quite appeal to me as much as it may to some of you, but I certainly can’t say that what these guys have done with this one is sub-par or even run of the mill.
Le Vecteur Transcendantal is something that just might require a few listens to appreciate, but this space-tinged journey into Satan’s starry lair might be one of the best albums that some of you have ever had the fortune of listening to. I definitely feel that there will be some people out there who consider this one of the year’s best. I’m not one of them, but I don’t want to discourage you from checking out this mass of melodic intrigue fused with only the finest of black metal. If an atmosphere was something that Kosmos were looking to achieve with the album, then they’ve achieved it with a record that captures the same cosmic vibe throughout each of these ten pieces. I also have a feeling that some people are going to want to hit me over the head with something heavy and blunt, because I didn’t give this record the 9 or 10 that they feel it deserves. If this starry spectrum of black metal appeals to you, then by all means, give it a listen and support the band.
Mass Infection – For I Am Genocide (2014) – These Greek death metallers were influenced by Deeds Of Flesh, Hate Eternal and Severe Torture, which I can tell easily from the music. There’s nothing here other than raw fucking brutality, with the drums ablaze, the guitars making every sort of little technical noise you can imagine and the gravel laid on thicker than a cement mixer. Most people will feel the drums more than anything else, knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that this is death metal. In all its rage though, it is rather simplistic. The riffs probably aren’t necessarily easy to play, but there’s not a whole lot of meat to this mixture other than what I’m hearing here. I also think that a solo got completely lost in the middle of “Beyond Perpetuation 4:15” so that’s quite unfortunate. The press leaflet considers the band to be barbaric, as I’m certainly getting quickly from the music. But I just don’t feel that this is my brand of barbarism and I’d hope that maybe with their next album, things will be a bit stronger. However, this disc took five years to make, so it might be a while before we hear anything else from these guys. I also think that this whole thing is going to sound better live than it does on this disc. I think that this whole sub-genre really lends itself better to the stage, where you can really feel the drums separating flesh from bone. Of course, this album really offers that same obnoxiously powerful drum element to begin with, so you may not have to wait until they get on stage to feel the full force of this pulverization.
If you’re into deadly, but slightly technical melodies backed with vocal cement and drums that overpower everything else, then I definitely think you’ll find something to like in these guys. They’re not the best brutal death metal act that I’ve ever heard, but they’re certainly not the worst either. If you’ve looking for another disc to play while trying to survive the fiendish world of Dark Souls, then grab this disc. It’ll be the soundtrack to your death.
Neige Et Noirceur – Gouffre Onirique Et Abimes Cosmiques (2014) – This one man black metal project fronted by Spiritus is normally known for an ambient and frosty nature, which it still embodies a little on this third release. The only difference here is in the addition of nineties black metal elements, of which Spiritus probably wanted to add to the record as a tribute of sorts. Additionally, this album is also the most grandiose of his releases, embodying some theatrics in the vein of bands like Summoning, but not quite on that level. The album opens with the title track (6:27) which brings in the atmosphere that fans have already expected, taking a turn into more black metal realms with “Future Torture 8:38” which seems to bring in a sort of snake-like hiss, backed with folky tremolo riffs and capable drums. “Echo Des Abysses 8:18” pumps things up a little with more of a fearsome grandeur, quite like being in an elaborate mansion after nightfall. The keyboards really add quite a bit to this album (when the drums aren’t blasting a mile a minute) and seem to decorate the album with a dark and mysterious overtone. The vocal approach also changes as the album continues on, oddly enough. Spiritus’ vocals seem to get thicker and thicker as the album goes on, with “Le Portal De Kadath 9:20” almost a sort of blackened death, with some small helping of the snake-like scowls I told you about earlier.
Then there’s “Le Marche Des Astres Noirs 9:03” which takes a dark and sorrowful tone. The vocals switch to match its oppressive nature, as the song eventually fills with a thick amount of fuzz before it ends. And just as you might expect, the final three tracks on this album are built of just one atmospheric track – “La Caverne De Glace 14:00.” I believe it’s right here where Spiritus shows himself strongest. Anyone can make the sort of atmospheric black metal disc that he’s made with the first few tracks, but it’s not far from my mind that this fellow is far more suited to foreboding soundscapes than he is to 96′ retreads. The ghastly feeling in this piece is beyond words, it literally sounds like it came from a classic horror soundtrack and that’s what I seem to like the most here. But if you’d like to hear what Spiritus’ already macroscopic soundscapes sound like with the added advent of black metal, then you’re definitely looking in the right place. It’s doubtful that he’ll make another album like this, so grab it today!
(8 Tracks, 56:00)
Numph – Theories Of Light (2014) – Numph create an alternative sort of prog rock that sounds quite comparable to Tool or Karnivool. It’s quite obvious that Marco Bartoli is a fan of Maynard James Keenan, as he’s used quite a few of the same acrobatics on this album. It’s almost unmistakable. Whether you want to call it plagiarism or tribute, it’s pretty fucking good, nevertheless. The album’s opener really just serves as a light appetizer to the veritable Tool-fest that is “Jacob’s Ladder 5:55” and what a meal it is. These guys manage to capture every aspect of Tool that I liked with their tribute style, as they light up the sky with as much a force as I remember from Maynard and crew at their strongest. Then we have the veering “Dust Of Souls 8:13” which seems to take us away from Tool and more into the realms of, let’s say Spock’s Beard, or Pink Floyd. Sure, Tool has also been inspired by these sorts of acts, (especially King Crimson, from which a majority of prog erupted) but there’s something a bit more special to this slightly jazzy, Floydian number. “In Dark Limbo 3:52” continues the mellow acoustic vibe, lightening up just a bit with its bright melodies in order to accentuate the vibrant vocal approach towards the end of the piece. “Death And Rebirth 7:31” brings a little bit more gusto to the album, but it’s not quite the rocker that “Jacob’s Ladder” was. However, I feel that people will find something to like it’s in fragile nature, something that feels emotionally deep and relatable. “Deep Impact 5:21” actually brings the fire back, as thundering riffs come in (along with some really nice clean leads) to pound out a rather intriguing piece. It’s not quite as strong as “Jacob’s Ladder” either, but it’s better than some of the slower material has been. “Within The Core 8:13” slows things down a bit after that, as it continues to roll out the atmosphere, with a slight crack of thunder near the end of the track. It’s similar to “Death And Rebirth.” The album ends with “An Angel 5:19” which is a slow acoustic piece with crystalline keyboard melodies. It’s a fragile way to end what in the end, is a very fragile piece.
Numph started out a bit like Tool, but became a much slower; more emotional affair and may not exactly appeal to everyone. I kind of feel that “Jacob’s Ladder” might be a misrepresentation of the album, since it’s quite a heavy track and the rest of the album is quite a bit more mellow. But if you would like to try a much softer version of the alternative prog rock made popular by Tool, then you’ll love this album.
Highlights: Jacob’s Ladder (8 Tracks, 51:00)
Omnium Gatherum – The Redshift (Reissue) (2014) – If you haven’t heard 2008’s The Redshift before, then you will find that this album delivers a much more straightforward approach to the band’s melodic death metal sound, which Beyond might have missed out on in lieu of its grandeur. Omnium Gatherum never really have made a bad disc, but this does come as an odd choice to reissue (why not Spirits And August Light?) and doesn’t exactly feature the band at a necessarily mind-blowing moment. While the disc does feature some fantastic melodies (A Shadow Key 4:31) and an interesting keyboard melodies (Chameleon Skin) throughout and the band’s progressive melodeath style still shines through, it’s just not quite as memorable as some of their earlier material. However, it’s still a solid disc in its own right that would be worthwhile to pick up if for some reason you were having problems picking it up beforehand. It was originally released in 2008, so it really hasn’t been that long and this choice has me scratching my head. At any rate, I certainly think there’s something to be said for the material here and it certainly shows the band with their best Dark Tranquillity come At The Gates impression, replete with all the keyboards that you might expect. It’s a very straightforward disc in all regards. Though I will say that the insurmountable darkness on “The Redshifter” is certainly well worth checking out. Without all the goodies, it’s only eight minutes over forty; so there’s not a whole hell of a lot to get excited about here. But if you consider yourself a diehard fan of the band you’ll grab it for the bonus stuff.
As for that bonus stuff, you get two very rough demos of “Chameleon Skin” and “A Shadow Key” as well as live cut of “Nail” and an alternate mix of “Shapes On Shades” called “Shapes And Shades.” It’s also in the vein of a rough demo. So why didn’t they just consider it a demo mix? All in all, I’m quite confused in the decision to re-release this thing and throw some extra demos and a live cut on it just for the sake of doing it. There’s really nothing to be gained from getting this reissue, unless you haven’t heard the original album. And then, you’ll probably only listen to the extra stuff once. It’s really not that spectacular and real tough to hear at any rate. If you’ve got the original, then don’t rush out for this one. Whew, what a waste of money and time. Especially since it’s not really that old of an album. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about bringing the band’s out of print classic records back into circulation?
Highlights: A Shadow Key, Chameleon Skin, The Redshifter (15 Tracks, 67:00)
8/10 (That’s with or without the bonus cuts.)
Our Last Enemy – Pariah (2014) – Our Last Enemy is an Australian industrial modern metal act that was produced by Christian Olde Wolbers of Fear Factory and features Bryce “Bizz” Bernius of the Genitorturers. But what I’m getting here is a surprisingly lengthy release (it almost takes up a full CD) filled with many of the current nuances of modern metal. It’s not Nu-Metal, but it definitely takes from it. Simplistic down-tuned riffs back most of the tracks on the album, given definition by the barrage of keyboards (ala Mushroomhead) and the harsh yell, sometimes light gravel of the vocal section. It sounds like a mix between early Sylosis, Static X and later Pantera. Of course you can throw current era Chimera or Daath influence here too, as well as mid-era Throwdown or Devildriver or several other acts. Problem is, there’s not really anything that sticks out on this album at all. I’ve gone throw about three songs so far, and the only thing that’s really caught my attention halfway is “Waves Of Perigord 3:42” which features more gravel influence from the frontman than the other songs, which give me that hardcore meets Phil Anselmo vocal approach that is getting just a tad bit overused lately. This is the kind of band that mixes core and Nu-Metal together and doesn’t really give a shit. The effort is oppressive and makes for good music to play during a workout or while indulging in a violent shooter over Xbox Live, but there’s no real meat to this. Spynal could probably break this down into more technical terms, but more or less I figure she would probably say that it sounds pretty damn weak from a musical standpoint.
Jesus, there is just one fucking nice lead on the album so far during “Pariah A.D. 6:08” that plays while the frontman is doing some sort of Nu-Metal tortured croon thing. As I flip through the track, I find that it has more structure than anything else on the album. Good leads came into place and a solo actually appeared. I really didn’t see that coming, but it’s not going to be enough to keep this boat afloat. If you’ve got chops like that chaps, then why in the bloody hell aren’t you using them? At any rate, Our Last Enemy is such a mish-mashed hodgepodge of styles that it sounds like it came from where metal goes to die. There’s just no real form to it, other than perhaps some more nifty lead work at the very end of the disc on “Into The Light 6:17” which manages to send the album off a good note. Three little bonus tracks come with this album and they’re all remixes. Mortiis takes on the first one, doing a great job with a rather weak track. He at least has given “Internus Diablos Verni 5:38” more structure and form that it originally had. I just wish that he hadn’t sampled the vocals at all and left it as an instrumental. And I guess we won’t be getting a new Mortiis album for quite some time, (Puts On The Smell Of Rain) so this NIN style will have to do for now. Angel gives us a mix of “Devour The Sun 4:00” but there’s only so much that you can do with this kind of music and electronics. I just don’t think that modern core influenced metal and ghastly piano go well together. “Pariah A.D. 7:11” gets a final mix from Travis Neal Karloff who seems to distort the track in an interesting fashion.
When all is said and done, I find myself disagreeing with the quotes found in the leaflet, including the “this album isn’t metal for the sake of metal” portion, because that’s what I’m hearing. They claim “nothing is easy or simplistic” but it just sounds like padding. Why would you have to reassure people of these things if you didn’t believe them yourself? Why tell people that your music isn’t simple if it is? There’s just not enough here for me to be interested in, and someone’s certainly blowing smoke. I gave it a chance when I listened to the entire album from front to back. (I always listen to each and every album that I review from front to back. There are no exceptions.) This isn’t what was advertised and I’m just not satisfied with it. There’s certainly an audience for it and perhaps in the future these guys could get better and show their talent in a stronger suite, but for now I’m just hearing a band that is unsure of themselves and is plodding along with their influences. It’s like mashed potatoes and jelly, whipped cream, sprinkles, pudding, cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, bacon and peanut butter. It just doesn’t go together and it all eventually ends up in a very rough case of heartburn.
(16 Tracks, 76:00)