Well, I managed to do it again. Ten more reviews right at 12:20 AM. It’s quite a mixed bag today (and I do say that with force) as we’ve got some rather powerful releases in Despot and Hyperborean as we alternatively witness as the mighty have fallen. Alternatively, there are a few band submissions here and the Feast review that goes with my Re-Kill review last year. Let me just say that this was a fun one, and it’s one of the reasons that I find time to do this kind of work despite my busy schedule in the world of the mass-processed objects that lurk in the foul depths of retail hell. Which makes me think that hell might really be on Earth after all… Without further ado, here’s Week 114!
Oh… 114.5 coming next week with 25 short release reviews (if I don’t die first!)
Despot – Satan In The Death Row (2014) – A Brazilian one-man project formed from the remains of Necrocult and Unholy Massacre, Marcelo Murrer’s Despot is definitely one of the more intriguing releases that I’ve heard this year. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this slightly raw expulsion of furious energy, but after having listened to the entire eclectic approach of black/death, I was quite surprised with the results.
First off, “Introduction: Divination 6:03” starts off with electronics. Not exactly what I was expecting, but they’re done it properly, with a sort of spatial vibe that flows effortlessly into the more atmospheric sounding “Matriarch 6:03.” Now when I say “atmospheric” I’m not talking about a ton of synths or light riffs and drone. More so this music is about achieving a much different mixture of black and death metal than we’re used to with it’s almost computerized approach to lead riffs, thick (almost industrial) bass lines and a mixture of death metal gravel, razor rasps and ritualistic clean vocal. “Auto-Da-Fe 6:00” lets loose with more thrash and punctuality, at times throwing some blast beats into the mix and those Brazilian clean vocals that come in when we least expect it. This kind of thing really requires some searching and you may have to listen to it more than once to really get into it, but that’s the excitement of hearing music that you have to think about. There are some synths in the background to give a backing atmosphere, but it’s nothing that I would consider overbearing as so much affectation is put into the foreground. A solo perks its way up into the mix as well, but it’s in a spot where we’d really never expect one to be. You really don’t even need the odd solo when you’ve got so much going on right in front of you, so much ear candy to offer the listener – it’s quite magnificent. But they throw one more solo at you anyway, just to make sure that you don’t leave home hungry. “Purified By Fire 4:58” actually features the sounds of fire in addition to its almost tribal percussion efforts backed with ultimately memorable melodies. Crowley says a few words, and then the thrash comes in, making for a black/thrash sound that I’m not going to offer any protest against. It’s a little straightforward compared to the other tracks, but I’ll allow it.
The title track finally appears (6:38) and it proves to be the lengthiest effort yet, with a back to the roots intro (which many of these songs share) which lets into a more black metal oriented affair. It ends in a more ritualistic manner before pulling a progressive backed solo section. Nice, you don’t usually here this all done so well. Genre mixing is incredibly tough sometimes, but this guy does it effortlessly. “Forbidden 6:19” also begins with the same style of thrash-inspired intro (but I love all of these, it’s been so long since I’ve heard a song with an intro tacked onto it) but moves into a rather brutal offering, as the drums thump relentlessly amidst an almost murderous injection of vocal. I can certainly say that these guys brought back the fear to black metal by adding the gruesomeness of death metal into that mix. “Le Roi Nu 5:54” changes things completely, bringing us a taste of death/doom. But this doesn’t sound like a half-assed attempt as it both musically and vocally crushes my spine underfoot. The melodies are memorable, yet melancholy; and the vocals are full of spite and loathing. Great guitar work and an impressive make this one an absolute winner for me and a must hear. “Egregious 7:28” is technically the last full-fledged musical offering here and it seems to have been influenced by melodic death metal a bit. There’s no problem with that however, as the vocal approach sounds utterly revolting in its black metal rasp, laying overtop of eighties inspired thrash melodies and some definite darkness entwined. I don’t really think that a great deal of bands would think to use the eighties thrash melody influence here, but it certainly benefits this track. The piece remains as frightening as it does melodic; culminating in a black metal goes thrash solo homage; which is truly the best way to end an album. There’s just one more piece on the record entitled, “Outro 2:03” but it serves to offer wind, water and film score theatrics. I guess it works well enough.
Marcelo Murrer definitely shows his skills with this absolute titan of a record. I’m taken aback and utterly in awe by the fear and wonder unleashed within. It’s a record that holds a firm grip on eighties roots of heavy and thrash metal, yet still manages to confirm a thick hold on black and death metal as well. It’s a win-win situation all the way around. I highly recommend you get this one, because you’re not going to hear anything like it this year… or ever, really. It’s truly one of a kind and worth supporting. Highly recommended by The Grim Tower!
Highlights: Matriarch, Auto-Da-Fe, Satan In The Death Row, Forbidden, La Roi Nu, Egregious (9 Tracks, 45:00)
Fisthammer – Infallible (2014) – I’ve been waiting a very long time for this. But not because this album is great, or worth checking out; but rather because I feel that this once triumphant band has taken a bold misstep that sent me into a frenzy of rants and raves which culminate in this being the most disappointing album that I’ve heard all year. Compared with the band’s previous album, Infallible seems like a bitter tase of irony; showing Fisthammer as nothing but a bunch of sellouts who dropped what was a mesmerizing style to go and join the techy/deathy/proggy stuff that everyone else is doing. And seriously, what’s with all the Satanic imagery? These guys were fine before all that crap and it doesn’t help their cause. I listened to this entire record from front to back and found that it had nothing at all to interest me – not even one thing. It’s just boring, bland and overdone. And these guys know better. Whatever they were thinking, they should un-think it and do what comes natural. This makes Fisthammer sound like a bunch of copycats who chose the easiest alternative when their well went dry.
Let me add that I’ve just finished listening to the entire album again. I was dickering around on my phone and whatnot, but not one single track on this record managed to pique my attention during that time. There’s a definite problem when your whole album relegates to background music, especially when I know that you’re capable of better things. I’ve checked Encyclopedia Metallum and found that none of the band members have really changed since the last album, but Devour All You See seems so completely different from this. It just seems like they wanted to go for a more marketable approach and it just isn’t going to work. Even a few of the stronger tracks like the lengthier “Conjuration Of The Fire God 6:08” do not manage to get the bad taste out of my mouth for this one. I used to live close to Pennsylvania (or close enough anyway, on the east coast at any rate) and if I was in this band around the time that they said, “let’s start playing more technical shit” I would probably look at them and say, “you know what guys? I can’t do it. I just can’t follow in the same lines as other American bands. I don’t want to sound like the rest of the American scene or do what everyone else is doing. We made a great record the first time around and I think we should just build upon that instead of going this route. But if you guys really want to pursue that style of music, then I just can’t be a part of it.”
This being said, I just can’t recommend this record. It’s not something I would really listen to, or wouldn’t want to listen to more than once. I gave them a try, I gave them two tries; but nothing can really top the first album for me. I had high hopes for the band and I guess they decided to do something much different and I guess I have to understand that. Still, it’s unfortunate. It’s not quite run of the mill, but it’s definitely not even close to what they’ve done before. Going from a perfect ten to a six is usually what happens after marriage, but I guess it was my fault for putting a ring on Fisthammer’s fist too early. Can I get a prenup? All kidding aside, I don’t think I’ve been quite as disappointed this year as I have been with Infallible. It’s almost like calling the Titanic “unsinkable.” Which they did. And you see how that turned out. (Strangely enough, there’s a conspiracy related to that ship which suggests that its goal was to sink, along with all the wealthy individuals who would oppose the Federal Reserve banking system that we now have put into place.) If you’re into the technical death metal style that a great deal of other American bands are doing, then check these guys out. But they really jumped the shark for me. I’m definitely disappointed.
Loinen – Loinen (2014) – From the sound of it, these four Finns like to make a lot of loud, sludgy noise with barely audible guitar riffs and mostly drums and vocals. The vocals are as you might expect, very thick and the bass reverberates through the mix to the point where this album sound be used as a type of vaginal stimulation if inserted into a music loading vibrator (they have them, you know) or a device that one might wish to stick up their nether region for vibratory stimulation. It reminds me of the Howard Stern film, where Howard tested if a woman could have an orgasm by sitting on top of a loud speaker. The theory was that the thick bass vibrations could cause vaginal stimulation. And with a bass this loud, I would certainly think it possible. The music sounds absolutely filthy, simplistic and somewhat even insane as far as the vocals are concerned. Some would say that it’s absolutely fucking terrible. But I can’t say that, because I just realized how useful this would be for orgasms.
But then the use of violins come into place and I’m completely weirded out by the obscurity. “Ruumishuone 5:41” shows throughout its statically melancholic vibe that there’s something really obscure and slightly fucked up to be had here. Whatever in the hell noises these guys are making, I think I would like to hear what else they’re capable of. “Sekasin 3:20” sounds like what happens when you get a man to scream and another to double up on the drums. There’s no real lead riffs on the album, just fuzzy and thumping bass lines. If someone could tell me what in the hell is going on during “Jerusalem” it would also be nice. I’m almost to the point of laughter. This record is literally so bad, that it’s good. I can’t hate this, because I can’t believe it exists! If you’d like to hear this extremely interesting weirdness for yourself, then pick up a copy of it. I don’t think you’ll hear anything even remotely close to it this year.
Dissolution – Natural Selection (2014) – The third album from America’s Dissolution takes more of a turn into technical dynamics, yet the threatening progressive death metal and black metal sections still exist on the piece. Unfortunately, here I’m reminded a bit of the latest album from Shroud Of Despondency. As in, there’s really nothing here that stands out. Granted, “Ride To Devastation 5:47”, “The Pact 3:47” and “Abnormal Appetite 4:45″ were all good songs, with thickly layered structures and massive force – but nothing called out to me as memorable, or perhaps,” recallable.” I couldn’t tell a friend, “I recommend that you check out “song x” because it’s definitely one of their best, or “song x, a and y” are all really great. Keep in mind that I actually like what these guys have done and even in the Allegaeon sense of things, it still remains a beast worth checking out. There’s a few solos and some nice sections here and there, but I’m just not feeling the same thing that I felt with previous albums and I noticed that immediately on the unmixed versions of these tracks. But you can’t just go to the band and say “it’s a good job, but nothing really stands out” because that’s impolite for the most part and it’s also unprofessional… I think. I dunno… I would hate to be told that all the time spent on the record resulted in something less than I expected for the disc. I guess when you mix so many genres together with all that technicality, it sort of sounds like one long winding machine jutting out a few spurts of steam before it finally keels over and shuts off.
In the past, I believe I used to let albums like this fly because there was nothing really discernible and they all sounded relatively decent. But in the years that have gone by, I’ve become a better judge of music and I’ve noticed that I can’t just let something fly by that doesn’t really offer me anything special. Again, there’s not one single song that I could put on my play list because it stuck out, which is what I’m noticing here. There’s also a bit too much technicality this time for me, which seems to have overloaded the band’s backing riff department; culminating in the obtuse mechanical sound that I described earlier. But it is a bit stronger than the Shroud record and I think it shows that Dissolution still have some fighting power. Perhaps they’re just getting influence from bands who are also treading along the same lines and that’s why it sounds so common as opposed to past releases. But I can’t say it’s a wash, because there’s still some choice moments on the disc that are worth investing the time and effort into.
Paimonia – Disease Named Humanity (2014) – A request sent in from the band, (you folks have to remind me at least once that you’ve submitted something, so that I can bump it up) whom I have no other information about other than the fact that these guys like thrash/black metal that also includes some sections of post punched into the mix. But that’s what I’m getting from “As Plague Scourge This World Apart 5:17” which reminds me musically of Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child as far as the riff melodies are concerned (but I’ve always liked that style of riffs to be honest) fronted by a raspy vocal approach that sounds quite memorable in the modern black scene. These guys are definitely in the style of modern black metal, reminding me of Gehenna’s Admirion Black in addition to the other bands I’ve recommended; but they’ve definitely got a promising style to them that caught me instantly. “Contagion Through Ages 5:37” knows when to blast, but it also knows when to add atmosphere, as “Ruined Form Catharsis 5:56” also adds with slight tinges of acoustic and post metal breaks. They’ve still got a little bit of work ahead of them, but there’s no question that Paimona come off fiery and interesting. By about the time of “Depth Within Nothingness Called Life 6:10” I kind of wish they would lay off the blasts a bit, but the drums do manage to offer more pizzazz as the atmosphere ever increases to allow a first showcase of violin. As you might expect, it goes in well with the rest of the album and rounds out in a rather potent experience. The fact that these guys didn’t blast through the whole thing automatically makes them worthwhile to me. The fact that Paimona know how to do more than just blast beats and tremolos make this band memorable to me. “Resurgence Of Malice 5:20” comes in pummeling, but knows when to throw a couple of progressive riffs into the mix (and why not?) just to spice things up a little bit. And that’s what I look for. It still sounds like black metal that will hit you over the fucking head with the drum expression, but there’s enough meat to these songs to keep them from being too monotonous even though I will say that the band is guilty of using a lot of the same tremolo tunings on the disc. “Funeral Of Decaying World 8:06” serves as the disc’s longest track, and the band definitely injects the sort of heavy atmosphere that you should expect to take up all that time on the disc. It seems like an exercise in progressive/post at times, but these lighter sections help the more grueling blasts to come off much fiercer than they would, had they been non-stop. The band is very much like a serpent, that coils and then strikes at will, each strike being far more venomous than the last. The track ends on a somber note, which culminates in “Opus VII (Through The Endless Phantasmagoria) 4:48.” It also seems that I missed Opus I-VI. At any rate, this instrumental piece shows the band really dialing down on the atmosphere, not employing any thickly laden drums or harsh vocals. It’s very much in the vein of an acoustic and gloomy number replete with some sheer amazing playing. Which leaves me to wonder, why not on the album? Why did the band wait for this track to really unleash some awesome riff melodies? I really could have done with these on the bulk of the album. I really feel that the band is holding back by not using these kinds of tricks on the main piece. I would not feel any disappointment if one of the heavier tracks unleashed into a furious solo section or memorable slew of melodies, like was offered here. I think the lead guitarist stuck too much to tremolos, when it’s obvious that he’s a master of melody if given the chance. If those tremolos had been mixed with that kind of melody, I’d have had an orgasm. But they weren’t, so I’m left with wondering what could have been.
Nevertheless, I still think you should check out Paimonia especially if you’re into modern black metal and looking for something that combines powerful thrash elements with frantic blast beasts, traditional tremolo riffs and unexpected bouts of atmosphere. There’s definitely something here, but I think it’s still going to take some uncovering before this jewel comes to light.
Highlights: As Plague Scourge This World Apart, Depth Within Nothingness Called Life, Opus VII (7 Tracks, 41:00)
21 Octayne – Into The Open (2014) – Make no mistake, 21 Octayne (a project made up of members of Axxis, Rhapsody and The Joe Perry Project) is hard rock with a little bit of heavy metal influence. Think of Tobias Sammet’s Edguy and Avantasia at their most rocking and you’ve got it. Opener “She’s Killing Me 4:13” really does tremendously well at opening the album, providing a highly memorable chorus and just plain good rock riffs. “Dear Friend 6:01” comes off a little longer, but it pumps some progressive sections into hard-driving riffs and comes off like Creed at their most punishing. “Turn The World 4:18” is a heartfelt ballad, which although seems a bit sugary; also seems more mature than most commercial pop rock songs. But they could have a radio hit here, if they wanted. “Don’t Turn Away 4:36” brings some jazz into the mix, culminating in heated, yet still rather commercial rock. There’s some nice bits here and there though and the chorus delivers. Marco Wreidt seems to switch often between heavier down-tuned approaches as shown with “My Teddy Bear 4:35” and the much lighter rock oriented material of which I’ve already mentioned. The melody section of the whole band hangs heavily on his shoulders, but he manages to prove a formidable guitarist amongst Hagen Grohe’s easily digestible vocal approach, which should generally appeal to anyone in its familiarity. The man seems built for a rock and hard rock act, which is what 21 Octayne are. But don’t count these guys out so soon, as they still manage to drum a few pretty good solos in places on the disc which you really don’t hear much in hard rock these days. A rule of thumb that I generally adhere to in rock music is the length of time that it takes to get to the chorus. It’s true that choruses like those displayed in the widespread majesty of “Into The Open 4:53” are well-employed, but when a band immediately jumps right into the chorus within the first few seconds of the song, then something is wrong. Yet I hear much of this in commercial music. However, it’s good to see that 21 Octayne aren’t that kind of band.
“Me, Myself And I 5:22” adds some Indian influence, almost becoming tribal at points, which does a great bit for me in the fact that it shows these guys are capable of more than the common style. They’re doing more than run of the mill bands do and deserve more than a run of the mill score. There’s some exceptional lead work during the break on said track, to boot. “The Heart (Save Me) 4:07” brings back the blues and groove (definitely reminiscent of Aerosmith) as well as little tinge of prog (which you’ll find scattered around the album) as it warms up for a rather meaty solo section that you might not expect for a song of its nature. But it’s a welcome surprise. “Your Life 4:31” closes the original disc with a rather thunderous cut which seems to end things on a memorable note. That solo section also doesn’t hurt much. The first bonus track is “I Will Always Be Right There 4:30” which is an acoustic ballad that I wasn’t too crazy about, so I’ll go right into the fist-pumping “Leave My Head 4:05” which delivers a memorable hard rock performance and hops right into “Come Alive 3:47” as it closes out the digipack on a decent enough note.
21 Octayne definitely weave their way around rock and hard rock by adding their own touches in prog and heavy metal. That formula equals out to a rather catchy and memorable disc that should please fans of Aerosmith, Creed, Edguy and more. It’s quite powerful and I have to say that I rather enjoyed it. After listening to it this second time, I think it really soaked in and I came to like some of the tracks a bit more. Definitely worth checking out for rock fans.
Highlights: She’s Killing Me, Dear Friend, My Teddy Bear, Me Myself And I, Your Life, Leave My Head (12 Tracks, 54:00 Digipack)
The Wounded Kings – Consolamentum (2014) – This is my first The Wounded Kings release, so be a bit generous. Apparently they had a male vocalist before, but I’m not very familiar with those days, so I’m judging their performance solely on this record. “Gnosis 14:00” starts up immediately with drone, as it really takes about three minutes before I really start to hear the guitars come into play. They’re definitely building up an ominous atmosphere with the slightly eerie leads employed. The female vocals seem to deliver right along with the thick dirges of doom and symphonic organs, which at times escalate into a guitar flurry or two. If you give that lead guitarist some room, he’ll definitely sprinkle some solos into the mix. “Lost Bride 6:43” gets right into the doom, still with that rather ominous vibe, definitely influencing the band’s occult persona. On second thought, though she’s a good enough singer, I don’t think that she really stands out all that well and I’d really rather hear a bit less drone and more overall guitar work. “Elige Magistrum 2:08” does just that however, bringing in some wonderful guitar licks that you know this guy was chomping at the bit to throw on this record. He sounds like he just wants to shred and I don’t think that the rest of the band are really allowing him to do that. Why? Hell, they cut it off… You heard me! They cut it off, mid-solo. I would rather hear that guy jam for twenty minutes than any more of this doom/drone with little real guitar influence at all. Finally, we get to the title track (9:47) which begins with absolute silence (after that wonderful solo section is abruptly cut, like the hand that takes a beautiful woman away from you when it crashes through your ceiling ala Legend Of Zelda) starts up with some tribal, trippy stuff and then goes into the same kind of doom I’ve already heard for about twenty minutes now, but with more synth influence. I will say that this title track really proves itself and displays the band at a higher potency than previous dirges have offered. The gothic-influenced organ section near the end of the track also proves to be one of the finest moments on the album. From Satan, we go to “Space Conqueror 3:02” which is really just a trippy little acoustic that builds up to “The Silence 12:53” wherein shines brightest in the synth atmospheres. Clearly, the keyboardist is the strongest person in this band, ironically. They finally let the lead guitarist go back to soloing amongst the keyboards one more fucking time… just to come back through the ceiling and take off with that beautiful, sexy guitar solo gal. Yeah, they cut it off again. I guess they call it “mystical.” I call it a misstep. I’m quite upset by the whole thing, which is only slightly better than average. Someone liked this fucking album, but it certainly wasn’t me. I’ve heard far better doom this year.
Hyperborean – Mythos Of The Great Pestilence (2014) – Hyperborean is an experimental black metal act from Sweden and they’ve certainly got some firepower as far as I can tell. It’s just a two-piece (Magnus Persson and Andreas Blomqvist) and a session drummer (Fredrik Widigs), but as Marcelo shows with Despot, it only really takes one man to deliver awesomeness. “Hail Dystopia 4:56” starts off the album with some blasts, a mix of scowls and growls and some tremolo riffs that threaten to reach towards prog and employ thrash. They also capture a rather creepy solo section where you wouldn’t expect one to be. It’s an eye blink, but it shows that these guys are full of tricks and they’ve only just begun. “The Great Pestilence 7:20” brings on that morose, yet uncomfortable atmosphere that we most expect with black metal, as it warms up for more structural changes throughout the piece. Hyperborean deliver a great deal of different stylistic sections through the piece, including some leads that coupled with the riff melodies, begin to sound like the twisted march of some evil king. It does dip into traditional territory in a few instances, yet picks things up with some thrashy bits. I really love the riff intro to “Bring Forth The Deadman 4:07” which almost sounds like a mutated tremolo, as Magnus’s vocal also mutates itself into an decaying sort of gravel. As the song continues on, it shows several varieties of riffs amongst Fredrik’s bashing; bringing an unexpected sense of melody which remains both classy and frightening at the same time. As I continued through the disc, I didn’t find too many changes from the pattern I’ve described, but there was a magnificent solo section featured on “On The Nature Of Mankind 6:12” which managed to perk my ears up a bit. But on the first listen, much of the songs began to bleed together, despite how talented Andreas Blomqvist is (and he’s definitely got some merit as a musician, this album speaks for it) and don’t leave me with too many tracks that I can pick out among the rest of them. But don’t get me wrong, because this is exactly the experimental approach to black metal that the band claims to deliver in the press leaflet and it leaves me certainly impressed on that level. This is only their sophomore album however, so they’ll certainly mature further as musicians in the coming years.
Directly following the aforementioned is “Ethics Of The Conqueror 5:35” which also caught my attention in its grim and folky atmosphere. No, it’s not quite the style of black metal that we got earlier on the album, but it shows that these guys really are capable of more than that…. No, don’t tell me that they didn’t just cut that man’s solo. Damn it! At any rate, the track proves that Hyperborean are a force to be reckoned with in so far as what they’re capable of. Listen to how album closer “The New Paradigms Outcasts 7:59” starts up and you’ll immediately notice just what I’m babbling on about. Hyperborean is a record that is a lot about riffs, which you really don’t find much in black metal. If that’s what makes it experimental, then we really need to go back and re-examine the genre a little bit. Maybe we’re using too many tremolo riffs these days and not enough actual melodies. Though I know that greats like Emperor and Mayhem used loads of tremolos, I am quite certain that they employed a barrage of other riff melodies as well, which helped to inspire musicians the world over. Hyperborean build on that formula, and regardless of the Blue Oyster Cult cover of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper 5:19” (which is done amazingly well from a musical perspective, I might add), Mythos Of The Great Pestilence is definitely going to shake the ground for what we consider the basis of black metal. Its two guys like this that are capable of pioneering the next wave in black metal’s icy future. Though it has a rather slow mid-section, the record still holds some rather breathtaking moments that should do well to hold your attention for many weeks, months or years to come. Definitely check it out.
Highlights: The Great Pestilence, Bring Forth The Dead Man, Ethics Of The Conqueror, The New Paradigms Outcasts, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (9 Tracks, 54:00)
Karmamoi – Odd Trip (2013) – Karmamoi is an Italian female-fronted prog rock band, that is prog rock’s answer to female fronted Italian rock and metal bands like the now iconic, Lacuna Coil. Don’t be mistaken however, as these bands are completely different with Karmamoi utilizing some more memorable riff melodies amongst thumping numbers like “If 4:14” which technically opens the album. These Italians employ memorable melodies, trippy keyboards and dreamy choruses as “Labyrinth 5:42” quickly jumps to. So perhaps they do have just a little in common with lacuna Coil in the fact that they both have a mainstream and alternative rock music appeal. But as you might expect, there are also meaty sections within these tracks which prove Karmamoi isn’t just a “let’s get to the chorus and play a few prog riffs” band and they show that further on later tracks. Take the interesting tapestries of “If I Think Of The Sea 6:34” for example, which could have gone through as an ordinary acoustic piece, but instead it envelops as sort of Portishead or Bjork quality in its trippyness. But you have to remember that this album is called Odd Trip after all, so that makes sense. “Samvega 5:24” brings forth some instrumental grandeur into the mix, as “Yours 5:08” brings back the alternative rock/prog notions, while still keeping things relatively different as far as the landscapes are concerned. I’m almost reminded a bit of The Gathering in this instance, as the lyrical content is much like that of the relationship and love based material of Lacuna Coil, albeit with a thicker layer of instrumentalism. It’s that quality which makes the band really stand out.
Of course, it’s prog theatrics like “5+ 4:06” and space ballads like “Lost Days 4:26” which definitely give the act an ever sharper edge, showing that with this sophomore album, they’ve certainly defined their sound. While not for everyone, I think that fans of prog rock and alternative female fronted rock music might find something to like here. It’s going to be tough to convert Halestorm fanatics to the point where they’ll start digging through old Rush and Yes classics, but Karmamoi might just be the kind of band that could do such a thing. In any case, it’s the only other female fronted prog rock group that I’ve heard, sans The Gathering. Women don’t usually venture into this style, so it’s glad to see them giving the vocal edge a shot. The end result is definitely somewhere between Lacuna Coil and Yes however, which makes for a mildly entertaining listen. Here’s to hoping they’ll really beef it up on the next album and really boggle my mind with prog theatrics. Definitely worth a listen.
Highlights: Labyrinth, If I Think Of The Sea, Samvega, 5+, Lost Days (12 Tracks, 51:00)
Annihilator – Feast (2013) – First of all, this is just a review of the main album. Though the disc is also repackaged with Re-Kill (re-recorded Best of), I have already reviewed that one earlier on the original The Grim Tower blog. I couldn’t find the post through Blogspot’s horrible search engine, but it’s definitely there and I went quite in-depth with that disc (due to the fact that I had more time and wasn’t working full-time back in those days).
Though if we’re going to talk about Feast, I’ll have to say that’s a very peculiar beast. Not peculiar as in very interesting, but peculiar as in a sort of “what in the hell were they thinking?” notion as to the strange variety of songs placed on the disc. “Deadlock 4:31” definitely comes in as a straight thrasher though, certainly one of the heaviest songs that I’ve ever heard from these guys, which says quite a lot. “No Way Out 5:29” continues the approach with beefy drums, frantic solos, and a switch to rock-influence. It’s definitely not something you’d expect for thrash, but Annihilator really pushes the boundaries. And I really can’t argue with the fierce amount of shredding that’s going on here. Yet even though the song dips into rock territory, it rolls right back into metal towards the end of the piece. “Smear Campaign 4:22′ goes into more of a punk-fuelled thrash notion, which also seems to carry a little bit of rock-grooves. This really is an odd beast. In something that most thrash fans would already proclaim and wonder “what the fuck is this?” the band go right into eighties rock ala early Faith No More combined with still some thrash elements. Should I give them points for being this experimental, or be a bit worried? Clearly, “No Surrender 5:45” is a mixed bag sort of deal, but it shows that Jeff Waters doesn’t feel the need to stick to any one genre. “Wrapped 3:54” rolls right into rock music, but it does feature a few thrash leads and some southern grooves as well as lyrics that well… seem a little different. But is different good? Honestly folks, I’m a little confused by this one. Re-Kill was much easier to decipher. Then “Perfect Angel Eyes 4:33” comes on and a ballad completely devoid of thrash begins. I’m beginning to think that this is no longer a thrash album at this point, quite comparable to Metallica’s Black album or Load/Reload to be honest. It’s like that song (The Unforgiven III) where James Hetfield talked about sailing the seas of cheese. Or gold. One of the two. “Demon Code 6:34” finally pumps things up again with some evil laughter and menacing riffs. The band actually went back to playing thrash again, (at least for the moment) so that’s a plus. This one actually sounds more in the lines of “Deadlock” so you’ve got two rather heavy thrash tracks to check out on the album. And I’m talking about un-tainted thrash, where it’s recognizable to the thrash aficionado. I don’t really have a problem with the experimenting, but old school thrashers might. Still, this guy uses rock riffs wherever he wants regardless. But it’s better than “Perfect Angel Eyes” by like a fucking mile. Imagine listening to Slayer and all of a sudden, a song like “Decayed Corporal Confusion” turns into “Your Golden Heart.” Might kind of bat a few eyebrows as men shout high from the rafters in proclamation… “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?” Just a little food for thought, at any rate. Then “Fight The World 7:08” comes in, and guys and gals… that sure as hell isn’t nearly seven minutes of thrashing. What I’m getting rather, are some really sugary melodies overtop of piano and light drum work. Then some thrash comes in. Alright, so maybe there is some thrash in between the piano and sugar. This guy must think he’s a regular Axl Rose. Okay… so maybe I was wrong. This actually comes off as one of the fiercest tracks on the disc, bringing with it a real sense of muscularity that I just haven’t heard so much on this disc. Solos also come into sweeten the deal a little more and they’re quite bright, yet nonetheless effective. Alright, so that was completely unexpected. Ending the disc is “One Falls, Two Rise 8:50” which serves as mix between a lighthearted rock ballad and a thrash track. That’s actually quite entertaining and I can certainly get behind it. It’s awfully odd to see these guys mixing a melancholic ballad with a monstrous thrasher, but they’ve done it. I have to applaud that, because I’ve never heard anything like it before.
All I am saying is give Feast a chance. It’s actually got some interesting ideas and despite the sweet little ballad of “Perfect Angel Eyes” there’s actually some might to be had on this one. I’ll also say that I’ve never in my life heard thrash mixed with some of the genres and ideas that have been utilized here. You’ll either love it, or seriously fucking loathe it. I’m not sure what thrash purists will think, but it was much better than I expected and shows that Jeff Waters definitely has some tricks up his sleeve in his quest to apparently, innovate thrash further. Though whether or not his innovations might be more in the vein of wanton destructive attempts to wipe out the genre faster than a full-on grunge revival movement, is entirely up to you. Don’t forget that this thing also contains the Re-Kill recorded Best Of, as well as a DVD with the band flying through their classics in the blazing heat. It also includes a new 3D cover with an extended booklet. So there’s a lot here, including twenty-four new musical recordings. Check it out if you think you’d be into checking these guys out again.