Weekly Reviews 121.5 (August 28, 2014)

There are only ten this week because things have been a little hectic and I had to rush a bit. But you do want a Week 122, right? So this will have to do for now and I’ll bump the other two to next week. Week 122 will have Krieg, Pallbearer and more; so stay tuned!

Near Death Condition - Evolving Towards Extinction

Near Death Condition – Evolving Towards Extinction (2014 SPOTLIGHT) – These Swiss death metallers make you say just one thing on their third full-length album and first on Unique Leader… Who in the fuck is that on guitar? And from a quick observation (hell, even the first song “Words Of Wisdom 3:49”) we can quickly come to the conclusion that Near Death Condition make anything but ordinary death metal. You can call them technical, you can call them progressive and you can even say that they sound like Deeds Of Flesh and fucking Nile as MA stated. But as far as I’m concerned, these guys are doing something innovative with death metal and making waves in ways that I can only merely explain. You see, the leads that bellow forth from Patrik and Stephane’s guitars will make you feel like you’re in the center of a spiraling tornado, watching as the world circles around you and the wind whips against your ears with its fierce gusts. Drummer Guido Wyss definitely has skill behind the kit, as he has shown in his three previous acts (and the still active black/death outfit Enigmatik) as Patrik (also of doomers Lucifer In Love) belts out the fierce kind of golem growls that you should expect from this kind of music. Stephane even adds vocal influence in the band, making for a double dose of throat-backed wallop, which is intensified by the otherworldly and assuredly violent textures created in the band’s extremely intricate riffscapes. A few guitar solos pop out in the mix every once in a while, and they’ll make the poor guys in Alterbeast cry with their grandeur. By the way, these guys are on the same label as Alterbeast, so I’m hoping that those guys got a copy of this record from the band because I think that Near Death Condition could show them how to write a highly textured death metal album that doesn’t come off stale and boring. Though not completely fucking perfect (there are a few songs on the record that I wish saw more of the weird riffscapes and mesmerizing leads), Evolving Towards Extinction is a definite must hear for 2014. If you’re looking for any modern death metal act that is bound to leave an impact on your cranium that will reverberate for many years to come, then look no further then Near Death Condition.

(11 Tracks, 51:00)

9.5/10

Frozen Dawn - Those Of Cursed Light

Frozen Dawn – Those Of Cursed Light (2014) – This is the sophomore album from Spanish black metallers Frozen Dawn, and I’ve really got to say that there’s certainly something here for fans of Satyricon, Rotting Christ and several others in the modern black metal contingent. Regardless of the fact that both of the aforementioned acts did have raw early years, this echoes them at their latest, but just before they both switched up their acts completely (Rotting Christ went more theatrical, while Satyricon went for a more atmospheric approach). Though the approach is modern, it definitely has a bite that will be long remembered after the initial listen thanks in part to frontman Grinder. The guy’s got a voice that is suited especially for this style, with vocal lines that torrent forth with a seething aura of rage and hatred throughout. Lord Morgoth might certainly bring forth the freezing fire with his guitar, but he also knows how to play some rather convincing leads that immediately show me promise. As for the drummer Arjan Van Der Wijst, he pretty much follows the common formula of black metal and brings the traditional feel of the genre along with him. For a country synonymous with Hieronymus Bosch and his fiery take to religious artwork, Frozen Dawn show that not everyone in the country is so religiously inclined. Those Of Cursed Light doesn’t try to offer any more than what it is, but the frostbitten symphony laden within will be more than enough for black metal fans who like a harsh yet melodic performance, with a cleaner approach to production.

(9 Tracks, 53:00)

8/10

Ageless Oblivion - Penthos

Ageless Oblivion – Penthos (2014) – This is the sophomore (damn, I’m really getting a lot of sophomore albums this year) from the English technical/progressive death metallers and it’s quite refreshing in all of its assorted textures. This really seems to be a record based on texture and structure, where anything seems to go and where songs can escalate to nearly thirteen minutes in length, depending on how experimental these guys want to get. But just for a second, let’s go ahead and mention “Where Wasps Now Nest 12:20” and see why exactly a song of this nature branched out so long. First of all, I’ve noticed that there’s a drone-like sensibility at the very beginning, which throws in a little bit of melody until the pummeling death metal with a slew of riff delays pops in. A clean vocal harmony break later as the piece rolls into atmospheres which entail a slight jazz-club style harmonic before the crushing comes back, where it continues until the song ends (with the slight injection of a shoegaze style melody). Then of course, that rolls on into “Submergence 2:52” which continues with more drone and atmosphere. However, this atmospheric drone sound is not what comprises Penthos, as for the most part it seems a modern approach to death metal, with a hefty growl used in most of the areas, while a slightly punk influenced shout is used in other areas. This might be the deciding factor for old heads who don’t want chocolate getting into their peanut butter, and perhaps a band with so much core influence shoved into their death metal could come off as something of a plague. But Ageless Oblivion definitely knows their way around song structures and don’t seem to bore me with an intriguing soundscape that doesn’t stay stale for very long. At least Stephen handles the vocals well enough for more adventurous death metal fans to get into it, and Richard punishes the kit well enough to bring out that classic death metal feel. If you think you can handle all of the drone and atmospheric moments thrown into what some would say “would be perfectly good death metal” then give it a shot.

(10 Tracks, 66:00)

7.5/10

Alterbeast - Immortal

Alterbeast – Immortal (2014) – Next we have California’s Alterbeast (which was originally Gary Busey Amber Alert, but God knows that no label will sign you under that name) who comes in with a technical death debut that sounds just as you might expect, with everything kicked up to 11 and the disc running in at just one minute over thirty. Though Metal Observer and some random dude praised the hell out of this, I really don’t see what the fuss is. I mean, I’ve heard ten and twenty albums that sound roundabout the same as far as the structure is concerned. Yes, you’ve got crazy technicality here, backed with gravel and loads of guitar solos, but other than that… is there really anything else? Each song sounds exactly like the previous one that came before it, making Alterbeast sound more like a band that only wants to show off to the crowds. I’m thinking that the band’s name might have been taken from the Genesis classic Altered Beast, which in that case makes me even more upset, because that game is truly one of a kind and doesn’t represent what I’m hearing in another cookie-cutter tech death act. Sure they’re fast, sure they’re loud, and sure they’re angry and can play their guitars really well. But I think for the sake of music, I would rather listen to an act that gives me more to chew on than this. It’s good for a few headbangs, but in the end I’ll just wish that I was listening to something else. When is this trend going to die? Faster, louder, harder? I think I’d rather hear those words when I’m having sex, instead of when I’m trying to describe a metal album. Anyone got a copy of Reign In Blood?

(8 Tracks, 31:00)

6/10

Brutality Will Prevail - Suspension Of Consciousness

Brutality Will Prevail – Suspension Of Consciousness (2014) – Apparently these guys have been around for a long time in England, but went through a pretty rough breakup with one of the band’s former members who left a Tumblr page about his experiences, which came up when I did a search for the band. Though I cannot speak for the band during his years, it certainly now sounds like an act who embraces hardcore and post metal, creating an atmosphere that can be either abrasive or quite atmospheric, as many bands are these days. (I feel that I am wearing out that word’s welcome.) But there’s really no other way to put it. But whatever the case, this “money making scam” seems to be doing quite well reaching close to 40,000 fans on the band’s Facebook page which shows they’ve attained a great deal of support from fans past and present. Truth be told though, these gentlemen do have a lot to offer with their Neurosis meets hardcore approach, even halfway entering Killing Joke territory on “Burden Of Love 3:17.” Even though things might be bitter sweet for the band, it’s good to see that they haven’t gone stale and are perfectly capable of moving on without certain founding members. There’s a lot to love on Suspension Of Consciousness, and I think that fans of hardcore, post metal and more trippy acts will find something to like here. From the album’s impressive cover (trust me, you haven’t seen the whole thing – there’s actually a woman hanging on that cross above the water and what you’re seeing is her reflection) to its flavorful insides, this is a feast worth checking out. They don’t make miracles, but it’s definitely got some promise and talent has been noted.

(12 Tracks, 33:00)

7.5/10

Domains - Sinister Ceremonies

Domains – Sinister Ceremonies (2014) – Spain’s Domains combine black and death together in a grisly sort of approach that has already taken the metal world by storm. If you went to MA and typed them in, you’d find this record has an average score of 92%, which is factored in from seven different reviewers who for the most part hail it as a masterpiece or a Eucharist of brilliance. I’ve never even fucking heard that term used to describe an album before, but so help the guy; he fucking loved it. Though if you want the real skinny on the album, you don’t have to look awful far, because all of these fuckers are right for the most part. Being compared mostly to Morbid Angel and Dead Congregation (of which I’m not familiar with) the overall vibe that I get from the record is one of utter darkness and absolute brilliance. Sinister Ceremonies is a record that allows you to experience so much in such a very short time, making songs that don’t seem all that long fill with a vibrancy that literally makes your brain skip a beat and imagine them as being far longer than they actually are. But that’s because these guys have really fucking got it. From the memorable guitar melodies, to the calculated drumming and grisly (hence where I said it in the beginning of my review) vocal approach, there’s nary a bad note in sight for this band. You’ll be sure to notice the black metal sections amongst the deathier portions, as you get sucked into the atmospheres which vary from thick and foggy to a bit more ghastly and bloodcurdling. Memorable guitar solos echo throughout the piece, coming in at just the right time and with the right amount of vitality and classic grandeur that you’ll clearly hear and feel that ancient Morbid Angel vibe on the record. While it’ll never be a contender for Domination or Blessed Are The Sick, you can greatly see that influence here and it is tremendously reproduced in only a way that these three crafty gentlemen could have achieved. I hope this is the start of something truly amazing and I’m quite sure that Lucifer would be pleased. It’s all for him, after all.

(10 Tracks, 43:00)

9/10

Pet Slimmers Of The Year - Fragments Of Uniforms

Pet Slimmers Of The Year – Fragments Of Uniforms (2014) – Coming all of the way from the Estados Unidos or rather the United States; is a little instrumental post metal, post rock and experimental act that sounds a hell of a lot like Pelican. You may here an occasional set of vocals lines on the record, but I didn’t hear a vocal peep from this band until its last track “La Tormenta 6:54.” I don’t really have much background on this band, but I’m not going to look at other reviews in order to ascertain it for fear of gaining insight from them and becoming biased. But my opinion of the band stands in the one that considers this act a slightly heavy yet mostly atmospheric act that never strays from the tuning of basic post rock/metal and doesn’t offer anything that I haven’t already heard from Neurosis, Isis, Minsk and countless others who do this same style. It’s done proficiently, but there’s nothing on Fragments Of Uniforms that I haven’t heard done before and better. Pelican fans will eat it up though.

(8 Tracks, 50:00)

7/10

The Chewers - Every Drop Disorganized

The Chewers – Every Drop Disorganized (2010) – First of all, what in the living hell am I listening to? You may ask yourself the same questions as sail through the tumultuous seas of this “interesting” release, which spans just a little over forty minutes of amazement. I’m reminded a lot of some of the groups on CatONineTails Records (go grab all those, they’re always free) especially Flowers Of Disgust. But these guys are from West Virginia and seem to have a little bit more sanity to their playing than a band who wrote a “100 People, Their Professions And Where They Work” which went on for nearly thirty minutes, as the band literally said the names of a hundred people, their professions and where they worked (or where they worked in 2003, as some of them are probably now laid off and destitute.) Fans of Flowers Of Disgust and those other oddities in experimental music will find something to like here in these signed (does that mean that Flowers could have been signed for this stuff too? I need to let them know, as they did it first!) oddballs, who definitely will appeal to anyone looking for something else in music. Quite possibly the weirdest thing you will ever hear, like Frank Zappa on steroids, Every Drop Disorganized is worth listening to for it’s interesting take on human observation and it’s off-collar nature. At first, you might think the band is one big set of musical trolls, but if you listen through the whole album it might make a little bit (?) more sense to you. There’s nothing as good as “Potato And Onion (Getting It On)” but they’ve got two albums out, so maybe you’ll find something even greater in 2013’s Chuckle, Change And Also. I’m not even sure if this was a promo or a submission to be honest, but I reviewed the damn thing anyway.

(18 Tracks, 42:00)

8/10

Embalmed - Brutal Delivery Of Vengeance

Embalmed – Brutal Delivery Of Vengeance (2013) – These Texas death metallers have been playing off and on since 1991. Seriously. They just never really got a chance to sit down and create a full-length, which has finally come to fruition in Brutal Delivery Of Vengeance. Much longer than a standard death metal romp, this thing comes in at almost an hour of fierce death metal that never seems to let up, yet shows plenty of song structure and displays a great deal of staying power. The band isn’t worried about being the fastest, hardest or loudest band that you’ve ever heard, but they pack a serious amount of groove where it counts and where I’m most interested. Brandon Partain is the band’s new drummer, who comes in and delivers a rather strong performance on the kit showing that he can (and does) much more than the normal double bass onslaught that we hear from most bands in the genre. It’s still plenty heavy, but there’s room for the songs to breathe and allow Ed Taylor’s nearly ancient riff melodies to escape onto the tracks, where he proves himself as a more than capable guitarist. Ed also takes on the gravel with a classic approach, which you can pretty much tie to all the classic acts of the era (Entombed, Grave, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, exc.) Though nearly two decades in the making, Embalmed’s Brutal Delivery Of Vengeance sounds in no way dated and offers a rather solid approach that sets this band’s career firmly into motion. Death metal purists will want to get their hands on this one, as it’s everything that you’ve been craving and then some. I’m just wondering if “Stalker, Texas Mangler 6:52” is about Chuck Norris losing his shit and killing people. It that’s the case, then these guys have got a fan for life.

(11 Tracks, 46:00)

8.5/10

Mach 22 - Sweet Talk Intervention

Mach 22 – Sweet Talk Intervention (2014) – Well, they’re calling these L.A. rockers, “Lenny Kravitz meets Led Zeppelin” and that doesn’t really sound too far off. They roll right into “Content Denier 4:58” which provided plenty of punch right from the beginning. But before we discuss the album any further, let’s talk about the fact that these guys beat three-thousand other bands to win Guitar Center’s On Stage With Slash contest. Slash got to handpick the winner himself, and while I don’t know how fair/unfair that decision was as I haven’t heard the other acts, I can certainly say that Mach 22 offer a worthy plate of classic rock and roll on this platter. The band’s lead axeman Sebastian is none other than the son of Jeff Labar of Cinderella and he plays just as well as his father, rolling out hefty leads and classic grooves as he shreds it old-school and brings this classic rock to the modern era with a force. There’s no doubt that Mach 22 certainly have something to offer the world of rock music, as almost every song on this fucking record has kicked my entire ass and it’s not even over yet. With hits popping off like firecrackers (“Don’t You Give Me 4:23”, “I’m Just A Man 5:08”, “Stone Rose 4:46”) on the explosive first part of the album, it definitely goes to show you just how much firepower these guys have in their arsenal. The latter part of the record isn’t nearly as strong, but it doesn’t set the album out as a dud by any means. This is after all their debut and these guys already have a ton of musical experience. If you don’t believe me, check out their website and read the bios yourself. But if you want catchy hooks, memorable melodies and the overall sound of a band that’s really having a good time and enjoying what they’re doing in the studio, then definitely give Sweet Talk Intervention a try. If it was good enough for Slash, then it should be good enough for the vast majority of rockers and open-minded metal heads (oh come on, I know there’s not one person on this fucking Earth that only listens to metal) out there. Grab a beer and get ready to rock out!

(10 Tracks, 40:00)

7.5/10

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