I promise this foolishness will end on Friday with the long awaited Week 129. And yeah, I’ve got some heavy releases for it along with some requests. Week 130 will also have heavy releases, as well as something well… else. I’m not going to spoil it for you and some people might even get upset, but that’s no problem of mine. I’ve got to say what I’ve got to say about some “trends” in metal recently that I’m seeing become too popularized. It’s troubling. Alas, I’ve spoken too much. Hey, if you like our spotlight this week, go ahead and listen to them in the streaming section. It’s a real mix of things this week folks, but make sure that you give it a listen if it sounds interesting. If you don’t, then I’m doing all this for nothing.
Cemetery Filth – Screams From The Catacombs (2014 SPOTLIGHT) – If you haven’t heard this album yet, then you can easily hear it in our streaming section and you’re welcome. But basically, these five guys got together to play some rough, raw and dirty death metal that you’re going to love and appreciate, especially if you’re a purist. There’s a lot of Morbid Angel and Entombed worship here and it generally sounds like classic death metal should. I especially like the drumming near the end of the album’s title cut (5:06) where the drummer seems to channel his inner Sabbath in their more progressive moments. It’s not something that you’ll hear from death metal, but I like it. Of course, there’s a nice little solo moment right during this progressive moment and though it could be a bit louder in the mix, it sounds really promising. I think the guitar could really come up a lot, but these guys are just starting out and I’m sure with more time and practice, they’ll get the mix a little better. The frontman has a great rasp, just the kind of thing that you’d want to hear from death metal and it really takes a break from the normal bit of gravel that you’re used to hearing from the genre. Cemetery Filth is also the kind of band that is good at making a short song sound much longer (in a good way) due to all the different song structures that they utilize in the recording. Though it’s only got three songs, it’s definitely a promising album and I’m proud to have it up here for your listening pleasure. if you like it, support the band and grab a copy. I’m looking forward to hearing more from these guys in the future. They may be a bit younger than some of the older dudes that have been doing this stuff for decades now, but they’ve got enough of a memorable quality and an old school spirit for me to really give a damn and take notice.
(3 Tracks, 13:00)
Lucifer’s Hammer – The Mists Of Time MMXIV (2014) – This retrospective record from Lucifer’s Hammer is much different than the earlier, more classic heavy metal based material that I remember hearing from them on the EP. The record instead takes a turn into the darker realms of black metal, which is further reinforced by the album’s cover. The disc truly shines when it manages to step out of the comfort zone, allowing synths and female vocals to penetrate and break up the monotony a bit. Other than that, it’s a slightly raw but memorable approach that comes off much better than you’d expect. You see, Lucifer’s Hammer show that they’re capable of some truly grandiose soundscapes within the blackness that is displayed here and that enters the realm of thinking in which I’ve given a damn. Spiderman meme not necessary. First of all, this is nearly seventy minutes worth of music and that includes the short acoustic interludes that appear from time to time. Those are welcomed (as we also do them in my band and apparently will be doing more on the next record, so I’ve been told) and seem to once again break up the monotony between songs, which again – there really doesn’t seem to be any. If I’m listening to this as a person who knows what to expect from black metal and is looking to hear something a bit more unique and fresh, then I’ll like it. But if I’m looking for black metal that sounds very familiar and easy to grasp, I probably won’t like that the disc takes some atmospheric and even gothic tones. The record sounds like it could have been made in the 90’s, and reminds me sometimes of extremely early Graveworm. But one of the reasons that the disc is so long, is so that it can house a few demos; which judging on the riff matter are actually worth turning up a little so you can hear them. I do not know if Lucifer’s Hammer is still a band, but from what I’ve heard on this offering, they certainly should be. If this disc happens to be one of those reissues from a band who was never able to break out in the early days, then I daresay we’ve lost an incredible act in these guys and there’s no telling as to what they would have become if more people and labels had only given a shit. I feel like the gentleman on the Men’s Warehouse commercials when I tell you; “You’re going to like what you hear. I guarantee it.”
(12 Tracks, 68:00)
Bob Wayne – Back To The Camper (2014) – Somehow we caught the attention of Bob Wayne, who creates a sort of classic folk country that kind of sounds like a mix between Johnny Cash and a hillbilly jamboree. But truth be told, I like it. I guess it’s because I’ve been down south for so long and got exposed to a lot of old country or maybe because my aunt played country all the time when I was a young boy and would ride with my grandmother to all sorts of various places. But at any rate, “Sam Tucker 3:20” really set things off with the tale of a greedy old miner and a catchy chorus as “20 Miles To Juarez 4:00” is more of a classic country ballad with an outlaw flair. There are also songs on the disc about chasing women and running from the cops “Till I Die 2:16”. The devil’s dope train “3:29” (Is he talking about weed or hard drugs?) as well as religion “Hillbilly Heaven 3:37.” But things actually change completely when the music changes to a sort of gypsy folk akin to Voltaire on “Granuaile 5:17” and then rolls right into smoky 1950’s style noir folk music with “Showdown 4:15.” The record then shifts right back to familiar where Johnny Cash is channeled “Violent Side Of Me 2:14” and ends with a bit of end of the world salsa, as “Revelation 4:39” closes out the disc. As a whole, I really like the record and I think it’s good that it’s a bit vile. It sounds like a folk album made by a guy who also might play a brand of metal. Some of the topics seem a little dark for country, as well as some of the vocal approaches. Whoever this guy is, I definitely recommend you go check out YouTube, Google and Bandcamp and see if you can find these tracks for yourself, because I definitely think what has been crafted here is a damn fine country and folk album that might appeal to a great deal of people. Give Bob Wayne a chance, because this is good stuff.
(12 Tracks, 42:00)
Aborted – The Necrotic Manifesto (2014) – Doug Bradley opens the latest slaughter from Aborted, who of course are known for making technical, brutal and groovy death metal. Judging from just the first track alone “The Extirpation Agenda 3:11” I’m not sure that I like the vocalist’s decision to use a cleaner style of growl. I guess I’m an old school head when it comes to death, but he sometimes sounds like he’s channeling Bjorn Strid on the record and that’s not really necessary. But as I continue with my second listen of The Necrotic Manifesto, I find that it oddly sticks and I almost am thankful for the punishment and multi-faceted vocal style. These guys have been doing it for a very long time and although they’re not quite at their prime anymore, they still manage to pack a punch. Each of the tracks on the disc seem to at least harbor some sort of noticeable change and at least one pretty solo moment before the beating and I’ve really got no problem with that. These guys could have made a much more terrible album, like some of the more bland variety that I’ve heard before. From a musical perspective, the entire band seems ready to decimate with noticeable drum pungency, a slew of rabid vocalizations (even though obvious core influence has seeped into the band) and technical riffs that range from death to thrash and most certainly even grindcore. The album is incredibly fast paced and would help during a tough shit, as I imagine that one might find the strength to push the fecal matter farther outward whilst listening to such an amount of unhinged chaos. They really only seem to take a smoke break during the solo section and that’s fine. Someone needs to give this frontman a break before his fucking heart explodes from all that exhaustion. The album contains three special edition tracks, of which “Concubine 1:28” can be forgotten in all of its djent-laden uselessness. Why do you have to follow the crowd Aborted? Some of those djent bands wouldn’t even be incorporating death metal elements into their Meshuggah based structures if your band hadn’t been around to inspire them. So you can take or leave the bonus tracks in my opinion, and personally I think that “Cenobites 5:28” leaves the album off on a relatively strong note. WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE TO HEAR MORE HELLRAISER SOUNDCLIPS ON A SONG CALLED “CENOBITES” but I guess the band was in a hurry to finish up the album and didn’t care by that point. They began the record with one, but chose not to end the record with one ON A SONG ENTITLED “CENOBITES.” That’s about as disappointing as Hellraiser: Revelations. Other than that, these guys have crafted a rather solid album and I’m sure that fans who can accept the modernisms that have slipped their way in, will enjoy it. It’s obviously Aborted for the new generation of metalheads, so there’s no reason to go buy this one if you’re happy with the band’s old sound. Still, it’s a beating that would serve as great music in which to perform heavy labor – which is what I did while I was listening to it. Check it out if you haven’t.
(17 Tracks, 51:00)
Funest – Desecrating Obscurity (2014) – Well, Funest play death metal and they do it with a side of bacon. Thick greasy bacon that sits on top of a thick flame-broiled patty of beef complete with jalapenos and thick cheddar cheese. It’s very thick and very spicy… and very beef. This also might be the first time that I’ve compared death metal to a sandwich, but that’s what it seems to be. It’s also very much fast food. There’s no denying that Funest sound like a lot of other bands in their category, even though they do a reputable job with the material displayed here. Only problem is that there’s too much Grave worship and I can always just listen to Grave and get more or less of the same thing. If you really like classic death metal with all the trimmings and gravel so thick that you make a sidewalk with it, then I think you’ll find something in Desecrating Obscurity. But as for me, I’m still waiting on that one breakout track and haven’t heard it yet.
(12 Tracks, 39:00)
Gladenfold – From Dusk Till Eternity (2014) – What we have here appears to be a sort of melodic Viking/black metal act with plenty of symphonics and a clean vocal approach that could use a little work. But from a musical perspective, it seems like it got just as much from Ensiferum as it did from Borknagar and to be fair, there are some rather good guitar solos on the record, which really help to brighten up the piece. A common harsh vocal approach features, which mainly consists of a scowl and a hoary growl, something more along the lines of the Orc growl that you’ll hear on early Battelore albums. As the disc goes on, things continue to be as bright and majestic as you might expect from the synths and Borknagar influence, though at some points we even get a few moments of welcome keyboard frenzy and what generally sounds like a band that is doing a truly surmountable job with their material. Is it the best thing you’ve ever heard? Not yet, but with time and experience it will surely be there. We’re always in need of torchbearers and Gladenfold seems like they might just have the right amount of grace and skill to rise to the top. Now we’ll just have to see if they have the right amount of diligence and tenacity to make it for the long haul. I’m quite curious as to what the band’s next offering will bring, even though From Dusk To Eternity is surely a sign of promise.
(11 Tracks, 45:00)
Hour Of Penance – Regicide (2014) – Hour Of Penance is a technical brutal death metal band with a lot of Behemoth influence. As a matter of fact, you might as well call it Behemoth worship, especially on the vocals which do employ a sort of chanting (even though that could also be attributed to Nile, who was no doubt a major influence of Behemoth as well) and a style that sounds very much like, well… Nergal. I’ll give these guys credit though, because they manage to do the Behemoth worship justice, particularly if you like the sound of Thelema.6 mixed in with splotches of technicality. The vocals are catchy and fierce however, making this not the kind of disc to just throw over your shoulder and forget about. Hour Of Penance might even sound like a bunch of three-word hacks, but the disc shows enough pungency and promise to make a noticeable difference. There are also some rather spirited riff melodies placed in between the moments of furious drumming that emanate from the disc. Regicide is actually the kind of disc that sits right between a solid album and a good album. There’s so much about this band that I like, but I really think they could use some variety in areas and really step it up even more on the already great guitar playing. They’re not there yet, but they’re real fucking close. I’m curious as to what the next disc will sound like, but Regicide is a pummeled that doesn’t give a break for refreshments. Definitely check it out.
(11 Tracks, 40:00)
Mortualia – Blood Of The Hermit (2010) – If you like your black metal exclusively kvlt and depressing, then you’ll love this 2010 release by Mortualia. The record begins extremely fuzzy, barely audible and full of tormented howls with the very spirit of the classic material, which was only recorded that way because they didn’t have the money for better equipment back then, as many of the progenitors have laughingly admitted. I will say that “Manic Euphoria 10:09” has a little more kick to it than the disc’s opener “Becoming Meaningless 12:15” but for the most part, you’re getting a very raw record with the same screechy vocal tone throughout, complete with morose riff melodies and an overall feeling of uselessness. It’s bitter, cold and full of pain and spite. It’s definitely not my kind of thing and I don’t think I’d be able to get into anything else like this. But if you’re looking for something that is just as I’ve said, then give it a chance. Just make sure that you aren’t on any medication that might cause thoughts of suicide, because Blood Of The Hermit is definitely the soundtrack for it.
(5 Tracks, 57:00)
Jeremy Irons & The Ratgang Malibus – Spirit Knife (2014) – Well, damn. Anyone seen my weed? I’m about ready to get to rolling a few joints, I’ve got my rolling papers and my rolling table ready… but I can’t find my weed. Must have gotten way too stoned from the last time that I listened to this Jeremy Irons & The Ratgang Malibus record. It’s not one you’ll forget quickly either, as it’s got a great big Injun on the front of it and he looks just as high as their music is going to get you. Seriously, this disc is so long that you can’t even put it on a disc. It runs six minutes over the normal length of a CD (80:00) so you’re going to have to get this one digitally, I guess. Which is odd, since it’s kind of odd having your computer screen staring at you while you’re rolling joints. My computer screen always stares at me while I’m rolling joints. The record definitely sounds like much of what consisted of classic sixties rock and it’s got a good sense of heart and soul. In all actuality, this is a disc worth sitting through and I think you’re going to like the experience that’ll give you. It’s contemporary in sound, but not in length as these songs are given plenty of room to breathe, whether that be nearly eight minutes (Sworn Collision 7:55) or fourteen whole minutes (Fog By The Steep). Sometimes there are even some atmospheric moments, like on the acoustic and slightly trippy “Dark Hardened Woods 8:31.” But I think the album’s title cut “13:19” sees the band at their heaviest, even though that’s still in the realms of rock. Keep in mind that these guys aren’t metal by any means, but that’s okay – because they make better rock music than I’ve heard on the radio in nearly twenty years. Spirit Knife is filled to the brim with memorable moments in classic rock, which spans many different avenues and I think that you’re going to like taking the journey down each and every one of them.
Edit; As a side note, I need to mention (and this happens with promos sometimes) that many of my tracks are labeled improperly and the times are incorrect. For instance, “Fog By The Steep” is actually only about 10:39, instead of fourteen minutes. If you fixed the problem, the entire album would fit on one disc and it would be about an hour in length. But does it really matter how long the tracks are when the album sounds as good as it does? It’s definitely a terrific exercise in 60’s rock, whether it is ninety minutes or a mere hour in length. It’s an hour well spent and chances are that you’ll want to spend that hour with these guys again and again.
(8 Tracks, 60:00 Approx.)
Blaspherian – Upon The Throne Of Eternal Blasphemous Death (2014) – I really don’t know how these EP’s found their way in among my normal review sets, but I guess since they’re here, I’ll have to review them. I mean, there’s no sense in reviewing them later if they came out around the same time as the April material that I am still covering. Blaspherian look like a bunch of metalheads just having a good time in their photo, as they hold up candles and inverted crosses and wear a shitload of spikes. I always thought the spikes were fucking cool, even though if they do also remind me a little bit of The Shredder. But I like him too, so that works. As for the album, you’ve got two tracks of extremely gloomy death metal, quite like the kind that Portal revel in; but not based around H.P. Lovecraft. No, these gentlemen seem to revel in antireligious landscapes as the drums and guitars seem to mix into the same sort of blasphemous fog that atmospheric death metal is known for. You can definitely bang your head to it and throw up the horns, but it’s extremely airy and probably not the most brutal stuff you’ve ever heard. Blaspherian is a more ominous act, something that you sort of find yourself lost in the mist and the gravel and the drums, just like when I was at that Portal show. I imagine that seeing this band live would also have the same effect as enduring heavy labor, as these soundscapes are absolutely pulverizing to the body and torturous to the ears. But I don’t think that there are enough bands out there like this and I’m sure that if you’re one of those people who revel in the grim darkness and mists of hatred, you’ll find something to like here… or rather, you’ll find something in which to revel as you wallow in despair.
(2 Tracks, 11:00)