Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BRAIN DRILL – Quantum Catastrophe CD review

BRAIN DRILL – Quantum Catastrophe CD
Metal Blade Records

If you ask any of my friends, the ones I consume copious amounts of alcohol with, they will tell you I’m a fair man when it comes to my opinions on metal genres and the bands within them. I’m also well balanced after consuming copious amounts of alcohol just ask the North Carolina Highway Patrol. But for a while now Metal Blade Records thinks I’m neither and hates me for my reviews of their releases. I believe it goes back to that scathing review I did for their JOB FOR A COWBOY release. I had compared Metal Blade to a street corner drug dealer but instead of peddling crack they were pushing this A.D.D. metal on unsuspecting kids. Suffice it to say I added this band’s last release, Apocalyptic Feasting from 2008, to their stash of cheap tech death metal which they also unleashed on their prey. Hey don’t get me wrong Metal Blade is a great label who helped create and supported the Extreme Metal music scene. I’ve got plenty of their original releases and you’ve got the reissues and those best of box sets. But let’s be honest here, of late they’ve released some stuff that’s geared for the video gamers sect who have the reflexes of birds and the attention spans to match. It’s not death metal anymore it’s just an annoyance.

You wanna know what this new BRAIN DRILL release sounds like? Turn your radio on and turn the dial as fast as you can, flipping through the stations. I’ll be honest; Dylan Ruskin is an amazing guitarist who can poke through your ear drums with a searing solo and sweep an arpeggio with the best of em. But even within the tech death genre there’s a thing called over doing it. Maybe that’s why his drummer and bass player from their last release hit the road. They couldn’t keep up with him. Although the grunter, Steve Rathjen, stuck around just to keep things “brootal dude”. The newer members, Ron Casey on drums and bassist Ivan Muguia are easily extensions of Ruskin’s maniacal vision to kill everything that flies through the air with their continuous sonically practice soloing. There was just a loud thud against the side of my house. I think it was a bird so I’d better turn the volume down. Guess what, that’s when BRAIN DRILL actually sounds decent. When they get off the soloing showmanship and actually play some fuckin brutal death metal. But it’s too few and far between and the Ritalin addict will probably skip over to the next soloing ecstasy. There’s brutal death metal and there’s tech death, both genres have some decent bands who have defined excellence in their respected areas. I have yet to hear one that combines the two, along with adding some grindcore for extra kick, which has been able to stand the patience of a non addict. Pardon me but something actually brutal from Sevared Records is calling.

RUSTED DAWN – The Black Tides of War CD review

RUSTED DAWN – The Black Tides of War CD
Diminished Filth Records

After listening to this I wanna break out the milk crates of cassette tapes I have stacked five high in the closet and search for some rare demos I’ve had since the late 80s. Yeah well the last time I got the bug to do that the cassettes I was looking for were in the bottom crate. I’ll just play this a few more times and dwell upon the planned mess I’d make. RUSTED DAWN are from Canada, I’ve been reviewing alot of releases from there of late, and play (choose one: Speed Metal, Hardcore/Punk, Cossover or Thrash). I’m opting to call this their ten song full length debut a combination of all four genre terms. I say that because The Black Tides of War reminds me of some great bands from the late 80s. I should know since I’ve got them all on cassette tapes in the fucking closet and I saw alot of those bands live. Those were the days of bullet belts and spiked wristbands, mohawks and dirtheads, denim cutoffs and leather jackets, slam pits, loose women. Hmmm, I did visit Canada back in the 80s. How old are these guys?

Today’s climate of pigeonholing everything in nice neat columns will have these guys the subject of Forum debates. With a song titled “By the Hammer of Thor” they’ve gotta be Thrash or atleast confused. Then again the vocals by Jeremy Goddard sound exactly like the guy who fronted the band who opened up for GANGREEN in 88. I forget their name but I’m sure they were from a northern border state. Yeah well listening to this is like slamming in the pit all over again. Seriously I can turn this up, close my eyes and picture the experiences. I would say seeing all the old faces but you kept your arms up in the pit for defensive purposes. Even your friends were guilty of busting one another in the mouth from time to time. RUSTED DAWN has a sound that’s raw like a band playing in a basement club after driving a hundred miles from their last gig. They don’t sound tired on the contrary they sound hungry as fuck. Alot of their songs open with riffs that give me subtle reminders of the salad days of the 1980’s Hardcore scene. When they hit those tempo changes it’s like seeing the inside of a club all over again with bodies flying everywhere. These guys are fuckin incredible. Yeah this might be nostalgia for me but for the younger set it’s time to toss out the polish and go for the spit along with some sweat. Who knows maybe RUSTED DAWN will be doing a North American house show tour this Fall.

BAPTISM – Chalice of Death 7” EP review

BAPTISM – Chalice of Death 7” EP
Northern Heritage Records

Any black metal connoisseur worth their weight in grimness will admit that in the past decade Finland has been far more consistent, as far as their two Scandinavian brothers are concerned, in producing some of the more diabolical BM around. (Let the screaming ensue with that comment) Part of the explanation comes from having key players in all of their devious exploits. Lord Sargofagian has had his left hand involved at various times in some of his nation’s most infamous acts of blasphemy like HORNA, BEHEXEN and of course SATANIC WARMASTER as well as some others. His own one man project, BAPTISM, has sporadically put out some decent hellfire over the past decade as well. While most fans are now spinning the Grim Arts double LP reissue but waiting for their house to empty so they can pry up the floor boards in order to pull out their copies of The Beherial Midnight and really conjure up the evil. Lord S. has offered up a rarity teaser of what should be part of his next full length. Since he’s taking BAPTISM on the road this summer, aka: Lord Sargofagian and his uber evil live session musician friends, I’m guessing the material to fill up a full length release is not finished as of yet. So if you’re not a collector of the kvlt then you might wanna wait it out. Chalice of Death is just two cuts with the title song and “The Crown of Darkness” on the flip. Both cuts show Lord S. is still following the more melodious black metal path albeit harsher than most in this vein. Both cuts are similar in that they open with the sheer force of concentrated might but then creep off into blood curdling murk.

SOMNAE – Forever More CDEP review

SOMNAE – Forever More CDEP
Self Released

Even though this Seattle band is following a path that is littered with crater size footprints from the Death Doom genre giants of the past, this release shows that second hand is still pretty cool. I take that back since the three cuts on here, which is essentially their demo, are just a heavy handed knock on the door to greatness. Yeah everyone knows I’m guilty of hyperbole but in most cases I’m right and others are so miserably wrong. I say keep an eye and an ear out for this band in the near future especially if you take your Death Doom seriously with your Earl Grey in the afternoon. Yes I’m talking to you across the pond, the former landlords of these colonies. Wait till this band decides to unleash a full length of melodic yet downtuned Death Doom with grunted vocals that sound like they’re being sung from a resident of an old growth forest. On that fateful day you’ll be sitting casually in your parlors with your tea and crumpets. Suddenly your ex-patriot yank butler will take out the worn PARADISE LOST dink you’ve been playing since the vinyl copy has warped and drop SOMNAE in by surprise. “Oh bloody hell”, you’ll scream, “its 1812 all over again. Those yank bastards!” You have been warned.


Relapse Records

The appeal for this is really for fans because the DVD contains a live set from the band’s appearance at the Obscene Extreme Fest. Musically it’s faster than a cheetah late for supper with six cuts. The first three blasts of grind are new and the latter trio are NAPALM DEATH covers sans the title of it. As far as Grindcore goes I’ve suffered the children (whoa, is that a pun or what?) way back in the infancy of the genre. On that fateful day many years ago when I read, in the letter’s section of a so-called punk/hardcore zine, the words “sell out” being used against NAPALM DEATH because they dared to release a “death metal record”. I pretty much left the foolish petulant children (atleast in the US) of this scene alone. Years later I heard NASUM and then this band, finally seeing them perform live during that CARCASS reunion tour, and I slowly crept back to the genre. Personally I really consider the Euro version of Grind to be superior to the liberal minded trust fund babies performing it from the states, PIG DESTROYER and a couple of others are the exception.

MISERY INDEX – Heirs to Thievery CD review

MISERY INDEX – Heirs to Thievery CD
Relapse Records

I took a great big crap all over their Traitors release from 2008 because of its knee jerk liberalism themed subject matter as well as the stench of Kurt Ballou all over the recording. Sure they’re from Baltimore and are probably part of the general paralysis of modern social/political society but one sided, leftist opinion based garbage is a throwback from the 1980s. Reagan was the “scared of their own shadow” crowd’s pariah back then and helped sell alot of records. Who needs to write well thought out lyrics when you can shoot fish in a barrel? Back then it was Reagan and in 2008 this band’s target was the Bush administration. The hippies had Nixon and the beatniks had Ike, same old shit different target.

What’s really amusing is that their guitarist Sparky Voyles use to be in DESTROY THE REVILED. Texas Pete, bassist, vocalist and the main man behind DESTROY THE REVILED is a gun toting, liberal hating, son of a gun. He’s also a good friend of mine who wasn’t afraid to perform wearing a German WW2 officer’s uniform at Scumfest 1999, just to piss people off. He really did piss a bunch of whiney anarcho punk losers during their performance and I loved every damm minute of it. How this guy Sparky lasted more than an hour with Texas Pete before getting “lead poisoning” is amazing.

So here I am again with these Marys and the subject matter within their lyrics hasn’t changed. They’re still shooting the same fish in the barrel. They can’t go after the present day DC residents even though they are the worst fascists I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. OK so lyrically these guys are cowards who won’t speak truth to power. Musically this is fairly generic sounding minus the Kurt Ballou stains from their last one. Heirs to Thievery might be the title but it could also apply to where these riffs came from. MISERY INDEX must believe in the virtues of “riff re-distribution” or the “riff welfare state”. From the comments I received after the last review I gave them it seems their fans really don’t give a shit about their politics. It’s their Death Grind sound which is important to them so I should give MISERY INDEX a second chance. So here ya go with your second fuckin chance. Heirs to Thievery is the same old boring sound, knee jerk liberal politics and pile of crap two years later.

DROIDS ATTACK – Must Destroy CD review

Crustacean Records

This band just played my area last month but I missed their gig. I had people practically begging me on my Facecrack site to show up. I think they were playing in a nearby city which in the past I’ve called to have encased in impenetrable cement walls with towers on top armed with machineguns and minefields placed before it. That way the city residents would slowly die of starvation after cannibalism exhausted itself of course. After giving this a few spins I understand why this band played in a shithole of liberal politicking and a mecca of indie rock loserdom. DROIDS ATTACK is a light hearted version of THE SWORD, who are faves of the musically limited mentality of hipsters. This is not Stoner Metal but stoner rock which is the watered down alternative for the loser sect. That’s all I have to say about this frisbee, fuck them.

ARMORED SAINT – La Raza CD review

Metal Blade Records

First off naming your new release after a socialist organization which promotes open borders, taxpayer supported benefits for illegal aliens and the creation of a new Hispanic nation in the Southwest portion of the United States is not going to get people to like you. Since this is an election year here in the states where illegal immigration is a volatile political issue I think the title of this will turn people off immediately. Secondly I know SPV Records, the former home of still breathing bands from the 1980s, has shut down and some other underground labels who specialize in oldies but goodies have taste, so why does Metal Blade keep putting out releases by ARMORED SAINT? They must be selling a butt load of units in Germany and their last couple of releases were compilations. Their Revelation LP from ten years ago was the last one with new material.

OK lets all hear it for nostalgia since we all own at least one ARMORED SAINT release from the 80s. My copy of March of the Saint, on CD now, sits nicely stacked below a few GRAVEDIGGER and MANOWAR dinks. I wouldn’t even stick this one close to that threesome since something even worse might produce itself overnight with that formula. When these guys play this Summer’s European Metal Fest circuit, and they will since they can’t even get booked on the MOTLEY Cruise, expect one song off of here to be played and that’s it. I’m guessing it’ll be “Get Off the Fence” since it’s the only cut on here that is reminiscent of this band’s mediocre career. The rest of this is hard rock schlock giving John Bush a chance to strain his chords a bit but mostly it’s forgettable. Maybe they can get a touring gig with ANVIL.

Monday, July 26, 2010

LAETHORA – The Light in Which We All Burn CD review

LAETHORA – The Light in Which We All Burn CD
The End Records

Back in 2007 I got this band’s debut, March of the Parasite. It was DARK TRANQUILITY guitarist Niklas Sundin’s side project where he broke free for a bit. Seeing that I wasn’t a fan of his main band I came to it negatively but was completely surprised how much I did like it. It wasn’t the greatest thing around but as far as competent sounding death metal, yeah it was decent. Personally I thought it was gonna be a one off since Sundin is not going to leave his day job with DARK TRANQUILITY. But here he is back for another round. Then again that’s what Northern European musicians’ do, start side projects or new bands, in order to avoid working on the fishing boats.

The same lineup as on March of the Parasite is back which had three members, second guitar, bass and drums, from a Swedish Goth band called THE PROVENANCE. Also back on vocals is Jonatan Nordenstam who I thought made the last release worth the ride. This time around it’s not so special. It’s kinda like sleeping with someone from your past and the next morning you’re asking yourself was I drunk last time? The Light in Which We All Burn is fairly average sounding death metal with hints at the “core”. It’s all that chug chug chug and blast beats out the whazoo. 2009 was the year of the New Wave of Old School Swedish Death Metal with bands like EVISCERATED and my favorites TRIBULATION leading the way for a new generation of fans. This release sounds like just another band from Gothenburg.

MANDIBULA – Sacrificial Metal of Death Demo review

MANDIBULA – Sacrificial Metal of Death Demo
Self Release

This is like a Portuguese Man of War sailing the high seas with one aim and that’s to sink every damm thing in sight including whales. But instead of cannons as their primary weapons they’ve got huge speakers hanging out their firing ports and they’re blasting HELLHAMMER. Actually MANDIBULA is a one man band with Mandibula, which means “jaw” in Portuguese, performing all instruments. Well basically all you can hear are the down tuned guitar, drums and vocals with lyrics all sung in Portuguese. The song titles are the same so I had to go Google them to get the English translations. More on that later but musically this is pure HELLHAMMER worship with a Portuguese Tom G. Warrior as captain of said Man of War barking orders and cranking out lo fi riffs as if he’s drunk on all that rum he’s pirated. You want song titles to understand? Well how about the opener “Dogs of Death” then there’s the eleven plus minute crusher “Black Crown from Hell”. That’s a song which makes keelhauling an extreme yet fun sport. Another crowning jewel in this pirate’s booty is the final cut “Orgy in the Morgue”. All in all it’s demo quality but with an, I don’t give a rat’s ass attitude. Its eight minutes shy of an hour’s worth of a beating with a belaying pin.

AKITSA – Au crepuscule de l’esperance CD review

AKITSA – Au crepuscule de l’esperance CD
Hospital Productions/Tour de Garde

Years ago during my bartending and bum tossing days I had a beautiful young woman for a co-worker who was from Quebec, Canada. It was from her that I learned my knowledge of the place. In fact that’s all I got from her since she played for the other team if you know what I mean. One little tidbit of information she provided was that Quebec had a very high suicide rate compared to the rest of the country. Now I thought that was strange considering Quebec is kinda populated compared to the Western part of Canada. If you’re gonna get cabin fever and decide to end it all then I figured go west troubled man. But here we have AKITSA from Quebec and they play, wanna guess, suicidal black metal. There’s always been a discrepancy with the understanding of this sub genre which is simply, now is the band going to commit suicide or is the listener supposed to do it? My thoughts have always been the latter since some of these bands tend to linger around a while. Also they tend to put out releases in small numbers and alot of tapes or EPs with two songs. Yeah two songs are all you’ll need to kill ya.

I must admit my knowledge of Quebec black metal is limited to just a few bands. Although I do know that the La Belle Province is home to quite a few tech death and metalcore acts. As far as AKITSA is concerned I knew they had a split EP with SATANIC WARMASTER some years ago. I don’t own it I just know my SATANIC WARMASTER releases like I know the hairs on the back of my hand. AKITSA have been around for close to a dozen years now killing individuals all over the great white, or is it black, north. They’re a two piece mainly with both members, OT and Neant, sharing all instrument playing and vocals, which is a stretch to even consider them as vocals. Out of the ten cuts on here all but two have vocals, thankfully. I mean that in the most insincere way since I haven’t heard pain induced howling like this since I came home one night and found not only my house broken into but the would be thief caught in one of my bear traps. I take my home security measures very seriously. How else am I supposed to protect my rare collection of blood diamonds and ancient crystal skulls? Anyway all the lyrics are in French so if you don’t know the language you’re shit out of luck. Fortunately for me I know enough French to get my face slapped and from what else I can gather from listening to Au crepuscule de l’esperance, which means “at the twilight of hope”, is that these guys have a very dismal view on life.

Musically AKITSA spare all expenses when it comes to creating a sound that’s part nails on chalk board and part saws all scraping monotonously across aluminum sheeting. They make those Radio Shack quality recordings from years ago sound high tech. There’s some murky atmosphere tossed in from parts unknown which is a nice way of saying they know how to use feedback. All in all it’s a minimalist musical formula that rolls on like a conveyer belt to nowhere. There are one or two exceptions on here but for the most part Au crepuscule de l’esperance is a mechanical buzz with a lunatic screaming at the top of his lung capacity. I believe a few more listens to this and I’ll be taking up residence at that place with no windows, wearing a one size fits all straight jacket and befriended by the big guys in white coats. If you have any friends or relatives who are just teetering on the brink of sanity then give them this and over the edge they’ll go. I’m sure it will be fun to watch as well and you could even invite friends over to make a party of it. Just tell all your friends, Hey I’m gonna blast this new AKITSA release tonight and see if my aunt goes nuts then I can have her committed and the fuckin house is mine. But be careful what you wish for. After just a couple of plays I feel like ants are crawling all over me.

GOSPEL OF GRIEF – Our Symbol is Death CD review

GOSPEL OF GRIEF – Our Symbol is Death CD
Cryptia Productions

When you think of Greek black metal the obvious names pop up like scene launchers ROTTING CHRIST. Then there’s everyone’s favorite one man misanthrope DODSFERD who has a split release out now which might be a side track for his planned destruction of the human race. Another favorite of mine is the all female black metal act ASTARTE who hasn’t released anything in the past three years. SLAUGHTERED PRIEST is another name which should pop up as well especially if you like your BM a little necro, which I sometimes do. I know I’ve forgotten a few others but another name to add towards the great heritage of Greek black metal will be this band, GOSPEL OF GRIEF. Our Symbol is Death is their debut full length and no it’s not the second coming. But in a genre with various bands from all over vying to be unique and out of the ordinary what this band does is keep things consistent and turn out quality.

The black metal wheel doesn’t need any more spokes and the tread looks to be in good shape so what GOSPEL OF GRIEF does on here is add mileage to the old bugger. Their major influence, as far as their sound goes, comes straight from Scandinavia and the genre’s latter second wave. Obviously their homeland comes into play but they’re not trying to be a carbon copy of any Greek well to dos. That’s why this kind of sounds like some long lost gem from the mid 90s albeit with slightly better production. Their vocalist, 108 is his nom de plume, has a good sick sounding voice which he uses well in the harsh screams as well as the spoken word portions of their songs. They employ a twin guitar assault but they keep it very melodic. With all that said their songs range from mid paced mood inducers to all out beat nails into your forehead blasts. There’s ten good cuts altogether on here but that’s if you include the forty second intro. Sometimes it’s consistency and quality of craft which beats out progression. Its bands like this which you need to keep an eye on.

ARTEP – Thy Will Be Done on Earth as is Done in Hell CD review

ARTEP – Thy Will Be Done on Earth as is Done in Hell CD
Bleak Art Records

Back in January 2009 I was singing the praises of this Canadian band’s Black War CDEP. Yeah it came out in late 2008 but they sent it to me in Jan. At that time my opinion of present day symphonic black metal was fairly low. There were alot of DIMMU BORGIR wannabes here in the states all playing a template driven generic version of the Norwegian’s commercial sound. Another part of the act was to include a woman in each band behind a keyboard array. Not that I’m against women in metal, quite the opposite I look forward to seeing more but not in the role of cheap eye candy as these bands were doing. I can just imagine the want ads those bands posted, “Wanted: Experienced Keyboardist for Seriously Satanic Black Metal Goth Rock Band Must Be Hot or Willing to Be Photoshop Hot”. ARTEP was not like that in fact even though there was a woman in the band. She, Artep (guitar, synthesizer and backing vocals) is the driving force behind them. Secondly their take on symphonic black metal is far from generic.

Well that was over a year ago and here we have their latest and debut full length. I’m glad to see my praise was not in vain. I’m also glad to see all three cuts from their CDEP are on here. Those cuts being “Antichrist”, “Black War” and “Eye of the Serpent/Oko Hada”. Another good thing is that they haven’t succumbed to the more commercially generic symphonic sound on their newer material. I think that’s the key which separates black metal artists from the other bunch of musicians out there who simply perform in stage outfits and Halloween makeup. Another thing I saw after I reviewed their EP were other people’s comment/reviews of the release and their over use of name dropping DIMMU BORGIR. Thankfully I’m not some Hot Topic employee moonlighting as a music critic, who whenever keyboards are used in black metal thinks DIMMU BORGIR as some sort of poster child for the genre. I didn’t say it all last time but I will now. If I was going to use a modern black metal band reference to compare ARTEP with I’d say they were closer to a lighter version of EMPEROR or a symphonic version of WATAIN than anyone else.

The songs on Thy Will Be Done on Earth as is Done in Hell are more in a sinister, darker vein which draws you in. The opening cut “Birth of the Antichrist” is a keyboard driven piece which lures you out from your comfort zone. At first you might be thinking oh yeah I’ve heard this before but then the song “Antichrist” commences and then you realize you are wrong. Plus someone takes a flaming torch to your hide and sets you ablaze. From there on the songs lead the listener through a blasphemous journey through realms of blackness. Songs like “Desolate Land” and “Armageddon” will shake you out of your comfort zone. No wall of sound or over produced polish; these are melodious guitar driven compositions interwoven with keys that sting like a branding iron at one point than float you on a river of blood. It’s not modern black metal in fact this harkens back the better days of the third wave.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

IN VAIN – Mantra CD review

IN VAIN – Mantra CD
Indie Recordings

I’m surprised that Indie Recordings would release something like this. Its progressive death metal with interludes into the black and doom realms, which this label excels in but the vocals are annoying. Andreas Frigstad sounds like a an emo guy who’s experience with puberty turned his vocal cords rusty. Plus he sounds like a whiner and it just doesn’t fit with the music also I hate whiners. I just push em in front of speeding cars with pizza delivery markers on their hoods. IN VAIN hail from Norway so once again what’s with the whining and all that sorrow? If you’re that miserable why start a band, just climb a mountain and jump off a cliff. Speaking of vocals their keyboardist adds cleaner sounding vocals but why bother at this point. This band reminds me of another progressive death metal band in this label’s corral and they are BORKNAGER. I had the displeasure of reviewing their latest release this year and if I were to compare the two then the veterans win hands down. I’m not a fan of BORKNAGER’s latest but atleast they don’t whine. Secondly the atmosphere put forth on here is exactly what a blind man would feel while sitting through a silent movie.

SIGH – Scenes from Hell CD review

SIGH – Scenes from Hell CD
The End Records

Over the years I’ve devised a formula for listening to every new release from this long time Japanese black metal outfit. The formula is simply “after four listens you’ll get it”. That idea has led me to liking a handful of releases from their vast catalog and the VENOM tribute release doesn’t count. Anyone can cover VENOM and make it sound decent. Hell the band MIDNIGHT is just one big fucking VENOM tribute and they’re good. So after four listens in one sitting I’m not turning Japanese if you know what I mean and remember that VAPORS song. Although every time I stare at a photo of Dr. Mikannibal, the hottest sax player in Metal, I get a hankering to visit this Japanese restaurant downtown. I’m no fan of the sushi, I’ll eat the cooked food on the menu, but I just like staring at the hot waitresses. But enough of my Asian sex fantasies, although I think bringing her into SIGH was the best thing this band could’ve done. The woman is sure to be a feature in a Revolver spread which fat guys in BLACK LABEL SOCIETY shirts will enjoy but on the music front Mikannibal does add alot to this already talented band. One of the first things you notice are her death grunt and growl added vocals which complement Mirai’s blackened harsh shrieking. Another thing is her saxophone playing which does stand out on a few tracks.

The addition of Dr. Mikannibal hasn’t changed the band’s brand of blackened thrash meets avant garde symphonic metal. What does separate Scenes from Hell from their recent past releases is that the symphonic elements (it’s that damm saxophone) fly out at you like daggers. There are times when things do get a little overwhelming and annoying like when the keyboards drown out the guitars but like I said earlier, it takes four listens. Another difference from past releases is that Scenes from Hell has a dirty quality sound wise. Kinda like being in a badly lighted Japanese restaurant where you need a lighter to read the menu and suddenly all the specials move. Yeah that’s a hellish restaurant and this release is all about experiences in Hell or their interpretation of it. Some cuts convey that feeling well like on “Musica in Tempora Belli” with it’s great duel vocal standoff or “L’art de Mourir” which starts off as a brutal assault but ends in an orchestration which still carries a sense of peril. All in all after four listens I get it.

GWYDION – Horn Triskelion CD review

GWYDION – Horn Triskelion CD
Trollzorn Records

Portugal is a beautiful country rich with its own unique history and tradition, but Vikings, I don’t think so. One would wonder why a group of musicians from Lisbon would pass on the opportunity to mix their own homegrown folk influences into the framework of Metal music and instead opt to copy someone else’s. In the case of GWYDION they chose to go to the Norse lands for inspiration. Along the way they must have read a copy of Viking Metal for Dummies because this is fairly generic sounding. Horn Triskelion incorporates all the template genre favorites like the Cecil B DeMille epic cinematic intro, the somber instrumental which is supposed to invoke sorrow and a newer addition to the fray, gothic operatic female backing vocals. Now as you all know when it comes to Viking Folk Metal bands one thing which is also a constant is the addition of non traditional Metal instruments into the songs. On here GWYDION use bagpipes and an accordion, the keyboards don’t count. Obviously their influences didn’t quite reach as far to the lands of the Norse as they had wished with those two choices. All of this is intertwined within a power metal landscape that has some blackened touches but not enough to push it into that direction. Trollzorn Records seems to be trolling for Viking motif bands with no relation to the parent subject. I hear there’s a few in India. Either way I think it’s time to throw down the gauntlet as it were and finally say “Death to False Vikings”! Although the cover art work is incredible and I wouldn’t mind it painted on a wall in my home.

A DREAM OF POE – Lady of Shalott CD/EP review

A DREAM OF POE – Lady of Shalott CD/EP
Self Released

This is the side project of IN PECCATUM keyboardist Bruno “Spell” Santos. Basically it’s a two piece doom band with Santos performing all instruments, but he includes various musicians for session duty some of whom are bandmates from IN PECCATUM. The vocals are handled by Paulo Pacheco. A DREAM OF POE are from Portugal by the way, well actually they’re from the Azores which is probably a Doomish place to be. I can see how you would be in a doom metal outfit if all you had as influences were staring at the ocean and reading Edger Allen Poe. I’m sure there were some MY DYING BRIDE CDs on the islands as well after a few listens to this. Lady of Shalott is a five song affair but there are two versions of the title cut, one long and the other a shorter version. Maybe that’s the radio redux version. There’s also a CURE cover, “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep”. So if you wanna get technical, and I always do, there are basically three cuts on here but its doom so it’s a long CD/EP.

I think if you are a fan of the previously name dropped outfit then you’ll get into this. It’s that dreary melancholy type of doom sound and style that just might influence you to walk into the ocean, not for a swim but for a sinking. That’s not a slap against the music here because the ocean floor is lined with doom metal fans since the sound travels well in the murky depths plus the shellfish like it, but I digress. The three main cuts on here, the title cut, “Laudanum” and “Whispers of Osiris”, can’t help but make you think of the oceans waves their place on here taken by the riffs. In surfer speak it would be “Dude, narely riffs”. Then there’s the simple guitar strumming parts that inspire dreams of rocking in a boat at a drift. There’s definitely some island life influences on here. I’m wondering what the male to female ratio is on the Azores. I’m getting that feeling as well plus why hasn’t this act put together a full length yet. Strangely enough the two cuts, “Laudanum” and “Whispers of Osiris”, appear on their previous EP from 2009 albeit they were re-recorded for this one.

I SHALT BECOME – Poison CD review

Moribund Records

My first experience listening to this one man black metal act from Illinois was in 2008 with the Requiem CD. Not only did I think it was one of the best black metal releases of that year but it also expanded my appreciation of atmospheric black metal. I’ve always liked that area of the genre plus I have a special love for certain classical composers but what I SHALT BECOME, aka: S. Holloman who performs all instruments, did was allow me to fully understand that full blown classic orchestration within the medium of black metal is black metal. Sure many bands have dabbled with adding keyboards and synths but there only add on. What I SHALT BECOME does is more in depth. Last year’s The Pendle Witch Trials was another head first dive into the abyss while the instrumentation trumpeted around your skull like symphonic flies.

On Poison, S. Holloman gives the listener a tour de force in darkness and morbid fascination. I consider this to be his best work of which I’ve heard. For history’s sake Holloman, under I SHALT BECOME, has four previous releases. The two I’ve already mentioned as well as Wanderings from 1998 and In the Falling Snow from 2008. But getting back to this his fifth full length, Poison is not an easily accessible release for any black metal fan who enjoys maniacal blast beating and two riffs, one fast and one slow. For those individuals I suggest taking a sharp object to your head. Cut deeply in a straight eight inch line to open up your skull. Next place your fingers into the slit and pry your skull apart to expose your brain better to the musical sensations. For everyone else your ears will do nicely.

S. Holloman goes far beyond that suicide black metal tag he has unfortunately been issued by lazy journalists who compared him to Malefic of XASTHUR. Fuck XASTHUR and that over hyped bed room black metal. S. Holloman is a composer of death like soundscapes that linger in your brain bucket like a nest of bats and fly out your ears as night time comes. The flair here is for the theatrical and not the grim depressive sod in the corner. The lyrics, which can only be understood by reading them along as the music cascades around you, are poetic journeys which also linger in your conciseness for further thought analysis. I find it to be a complete sick experience as the keyboard melodies bounce off of the filthy guitar riffs then grind to a halt as synth string arrangements takes hold of your attention. And before I forget S. Holloman’s violin playing can be down right scary as if he were in the room with you standing behind the chair you’re sitting in. Yes Poison is one morbid affair with overtones that would lead a listener to think gothic. The case is there for Holloman’s progression from black metal to classical. The man could be doing film scores.

ALCEST – Ecailles de lune CD review

ALCEST – Ecailles de lune CD
Prophecy Productions

Well it’s been a few years now since the idea of shoegazer influenced black metal, or what I so affectionately call “black metal for coffeehouse worms”, has raised its corpse painted heroin chic face. Still the more I delve into listening to these releases for review the less I think black metal is the case. I keep picturing some haggard looking long hair with raccoon eyes clutching a LUSH LP hoping to one day have it signed by the band. So it must be obvious when Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde came out in 2007 I was not one of those who got dry mouth from over salivating upon it. The fact is I called it what it was, post black metal for indie rockers who hate black metal. I wasn’t part of the scene police who denounced it as blasphemy to black metal which is kind of an oxymoron. I just pointed out that it was perfect music for people striving for enlightenment because achieving conciseness is too high a goal.

So it’s been a couple of years and Neige, we meet again for another round of music for people in a vegetative state. Don’t get me wrong I have plenty of respect for Neige and his previous work while in PESTE NOIRE. As far as his other side project AMESOEURS, that was straight forward JOY DIVISION worship which didn’t invoke suicidal tendencies. I was a sucker for those feminine vocals ala Audrey Sylvain singing in French on their debut full length from last year even if it was recycled post punk. But on here it seems Neige has surpassed his experimenting stage into shoegazer music and now is a full blown convert. While listening to the opening cuts, “Ecailles de Lune Parts one & two” I couldn’t help but envision myself lying in a hospital bed with a thorazine drip in both arms as well as my temples. The ethereal fart sounds were being piped in from a speaker above my head. Although the climax has some appeal. Some of the other cuts, for example “Solar Song”, have that unmistakable MY BLOODY VALENTINE swirling of floor pedal induced noise and floating on dry ice crystals vocals. “Sur L’ocean Couleur De Fer” is so down right lovely that I’m sure some over caffeinated post graduate dude will place this on the mix CD he makes for the tattooed female barrista he’s secretly in love with but doesn’t know is a lesbian. That’s ok since the authorities will find the original CD still playing when they finally find his body hanging in his college dorm room.

Ecailles de lune will probably be on some end of year best of lists by people in the business of music media which it should. It’s shoegazer to the hilt which is fine if you’re into the revival. But for me as more and more bands progress further away from the metal template then it shouldn’t even be looked upon as part of a metal genre anymore. Trying to create sub genres in order to have some sort of extreme credibility is a foolish pursuit. I think bands like this should be judged on what they are and not how to fit them into flattering pigeon holes. The same thing happened in the 90s when certain black metal bands started experimenting away from the genre. In the end they finally admitted that their music wasn’t black metal anymore. Maybe the present day metal journalist crowd who were raised on alternative rock will finally accept their musical birthright. It’s alternative as in not the real thing.

INVASIVE COMMAND – Ride Invade Kill Conquer CD review

INVASIVE COMMAND – Ride Invade Kill Conquer CD Records

There’s nothing like reviewing a release by a promising band who seem to have split up or so when I checked out their Myspace page. It seems that two band members quit after this was released. Well thankfully it was from nothing I said. I say promising because this Philadelphia, PA band sound like they were weaned on Teutonic Thrash or more specifically SODOM and to some extent DESTRUCTION. Whenever I hear something which reminds me of those two greats I go into the closet to pull out my German World War Two helmet. Once fully seated upon my head I then turn up the volume and proceed to down copious amounts of German lager and smash the empty bottles against my helmeted head. Luckily this CD ain’t that long or there would be a case of broken glass all over my fuckin floor.

On this the band’s debut full length the connection from 80’s German Thrash and Hostile City, USA is not a straight line but the chaos is evident. Its blackened thrash that sounds like it was recorded in a filthy sewer underneath South Street. Some cuts sound more primitive than others and there’s even a hint of Hardcore/Punk which is to be expected since the city is infamous for it. (RANCID VAT anyone?) I use to live a short drive away from Hostile City years ago so it’s no surprise to hear a band from there who harnesses the more primordial edge of Extreme Metal. All they have to do is look at out their barred bedroom window from their row house to get inspiration to produce filth ridden thrash. Hopefully the remaining members of INVASIVE COMMAND will keep it going. This band’s second outing could truly be some screams from the gutter. We need more bands like this now since the Thrash Revival has become redundant. I won’t say rest in pieces yet to this Hostile City band.

Friday, July 16, 2010

KALMAH – 12 Gauge CD review

KALMAH – 12 Gauge CD
Spinefarm Records

Imagine if you will AMON AMARTH with keyboards and at least one Amott brother on lead guitar. That’s what is on the menu here for your listening and thrashing pleasure. But KALMAH is not Swedish, instead they hail from a place called Oulu, Finland. Their bio mentions the northern swamps of Finland as well and there’s a cut on here called “Swampwar”. If you wanna simplify things their sound is swamp metal by way of Gothenburg. KALMAH have been around since 1999 and this is their six full length. Since this is my first time listening to em I have nothing to go on as far as their past works are concerned. Still when it comes to the melodic death metal genre you really have to bust out of the seams in order to be recognized as something more than just another Gothenburg influenced band. Thankfully KALMAH actually do that in various ways to keep things interesting. First off there’s the vocals which vary from time to time with death grunt/growls to blackened harsh ala CHILDREN OF BODOM. Speaking of which if you’ve been waiting patiently for Alex Laiho to actually release something decent again why not switch over to KALMAH. They’ve got the cool guitar and keyboard soloing with thrash riffs wrapped in death’s grip. With all those elements plus songs with tough melodies, these Finns add fresh rubber to a much worn genre wheel.

KEEP OF KALESSIN – Reptilian CD review

Indie Recordings/Nuclear Blast records

To put it politely I’ve never been a fan of this Norwegian band’s brand/style of black metal. Over the years I’ve reviewed two of their releases, Armada from 2006 and Kolossus from 2008. People who are true fans of this band always say I need to get their 2003 EP Reclaim because it has Attila from MAYHEM on vocals and Frost from SATYRICON (and with every other band in Norway for that matter). Attila also did some guest vocals on Armada. In 2008 the band even came through my little corner of the world on tour. I didn’t go which of course caused concern from people who wondered why I didn’t show up for a black metal show. Was I sick or something? Yeah and this band gave me the running trots. I will see em this year since they’re on the bill with NILE at a local venue for a Halloween show. I can see it now, corpse painted faces and people walking around with King Tut headdresses. I’d better put a deposit in early for a seat at the bar. I kinda feel bad for em now since who buys merch on Halloween, especially a t-shirt?

So here we are again with KEEP OF KALESSIN and after a few listens I’m still to the point of calling em progressive black metal-core. Maybe that’s just part of their appeal which garners them so much hype. I have read the hype. If that’s the case then progressive black metal-core it is and these four guys do it well enough to drive me into the bedroom in order to place a pillow over my head. They also add plenty of symphonic keyboards to their songs which makes me wonder are they trying to hide something. On a whole the band’s sound seems mainstream popular metal and even includes a song “Dragontower” which seems like a radio friendly hit. Maybe they’re shooting to be on Norwegian’s Top 40 with Kasey Corpseface or something. Good luck with that. Most of the cuts on here are similar to Kolossus as in riffs, structure, etc. There’s also an obligatory 14 minute closing number, “Reptillan Majesty”, standard fair nowadays. Maybe someone should just hold the pillow over my face for the length of that song and just get it over with.

KEEP OF KALESSIN must be trying to expand their career shelf life by appealing to a more mainstream audience. The production on here is incredible. Compared to the above mentioned past releases, their singer adds more clean vocals than before. Clean sounding choruses in black metal? The cuts chug along at a precision pace and there’s very little technical effort put into the musicianship which is why the full blown symphonic keyboard treatment feels so overbearing. Pushing my own bias aside, if this band is shooting for the degree of popularity and sales that DIMMU BORGIR garners, well they’ll get it with Reptilian.

Friday, July 9, 2010

COFFINWORM – When All Become None CD review

COFFINWORM – When All Become None CD
Profound Lore Records

There are alot of newer bands these days who sound like they found a few Amphetamine Reptile label band records at the used vinyl store and ran them through the black and death metal strainer. The remains are collected and placed onto CDs for the adventurous among us to consume like free acid at a party. Trance Syndicate/Trance Records was another label doing the post punk thing back in the nineties. I wonder if those old bands hear what’s going on now in extreme music and pull out those boxes of unsold LPs for future sale on Ebay. One of the problems I had with alot of those bands back in the day was that they would start off with some steady headbanging riffage but then by the halfway mark crawl their way out of every song. A year or two later the metal version was coined Sludge and the metal world was dragging more tail then an alligator. Don’t get me wrong I like my Sludge Metal just fine as long as I’m in a venue with a fully stocked bottom shelf liquor selection.

COFFINWORM hail from Indianapolis, Indiana, which surprisingly enough is a mecca for extreme metal or so I’ve heard from the people who live one town over who complain about the fuckin noise. To make matters worse all their milk cows have dried up and their utters have turned into sharp spikes. Well be that as it may this is the band’s debut full length and after a few listens I believe there won’t be a follow up because this band wants you all to die, preferably horribly. There’s nothing like a nihilist to liven up a party. Profound Lore really knows how to pick em. This band snorts Nyquil, smokes cigars and pisses blood. The music is death/doom with an emphasis on pure unadulterated hatred towards the human race. Yes it’s sludgy, down tuned and after awhile a bit of a bore. In all seriousness I’m all for the kill em all and let the worms make love in your rotten flesh covered skull thing. But come on even STEELPOLE BATHTUB had a few up beat numbers.

LUDICRA – The Tenant CD release

LUDICRA – The Tenant CD
Profound Lore Records

Black Metal from San Francisco yeah right and the next thing you’re gonna tell me is that Rob Halford is gay. He’s a biker and they wear lots of leather, ride motorcycles and do guy stuff. ?????? Eh ok so LUDICRA are from San Francisco and they’ve been around for a few years now. Their first full length, Hollow Psalms, came out in 2002. This is the first release I’ve heard from them thanks to Profound Lore Records home of everything brave ears can handle. They put out a few releases on Alternative Tentacles Records. Now I have to do some backtracking just to see what some Punk Rock mags had to say about em. Back in the nineties you had snot nosed, spiky haired children calling Jello Biafra a sellout in the pages of Maximum Rock and Roll aka: Maximum Butt Wipe. I always laughed at that one. Alternative Tentacles helped shape that scene and you had a bunch of kindergarten Marxists attacking him for making a buck. Cruel world and I hope all those kids are dead.

First reaction, female fronted black metal and about time the US got into the act since the Europeans have a small contingent most notably from Greece and Turkey. Off the top of my head I can only think of two other US BM bands, DEMONIC CHRIST and ARTEP, who are fronted by women. I’m sure there are more but not so high on the radar. I’ll probably get feedback from some guy who’ll say “My little sister sings for a black metal band and she’s great, you bastard.” Fine, when they’ve got a few releases out call me and practice CDs don’t count. There are women in black metal but usually regulated to playing bass, or as with some California bands, stuck behind a set of keyboards wearing outfits that pump out their cleaves. Personally I wouldn’t have a problem with that if I was just going through puberty but now I think it’s just for eye candy promotional purposes and demeaning. Actually there are two women in LUDICRA, lead vox and the other on guitar.

LUDICRA are a big surprise and this release I must say is an exciting listen. While the lion’s share of black metal I listen to has one objective and that’s to kill. LUDICRA have the power of resurrection and accessibility to their sound. It’s black metal that crosses paths with other extreme metal genres which is enjoyable to anyone who likes some variety. The vibe on The Tenant is melodic and there’s an instrument very prominent being played which you don’t hear very often in black metal. I think it’s called the bass. But anyway, Laurie Sue Shanaman has incredibly perfect vocals when she rasps. Kinda reminds me of an aunt of mine who had throat cancer. She’s dead you know. But on here Shanaman also tosses out some clean choir like choruses to boot. The structure of the songs varies from almost standard seventies hard rock painted black to partial doom brushed from the same can. You could also toss in some thrash and NWOBHM styles. It’s exciting as themes weave in and out almost like PMS but without the screaming and crying.

1349 – Demonoir CD review

1349 – Demonoir CD
Indie Recordings

No shit there I was at our local venue of all things metal, Volume 11 Tavern, watching 1349 on stage going blackened insane. This was back in 2008 when they were the “out of their element” act on tour with the reformed CARCASS. My friend Big Jon was standing next to me when after a few songs he grabs me by the shoulders and screams in my face, “Why didn’t you tell me this band was great?” Well I told him that they’re black metal and he doesn’t care too much for bands of that genre. I think he bought everything they had for sale that night except a t-shirt. Thankfully he didn’t have to endure last years Revelations of the Black Flame like I did. Let me put it another way, when I came up with my list for the Scumfeast Metal 666 favorite black metal releases of 2009 that one was not even considered. I remember reading some pre-release interviews with the band where they were saying some fans might not like the progressive direction they were taking. BULLSHIT! Frost wasn’t even on half the album since he was busy with his own band SATYRICON and that pathetic OV HELL. The damm thing was an EP’s worth of 1349 and the rest was filler.

So here’s the new one and wow that was fairly quick. Maybe all those bad reviews and half ass pro ones scared 1349 back into the studio. Well after listening to Demonoir I’m here to say that there’s still no joy in black mudville tonight. Hang onto your copy of Hellfire real tight, grin sinisterly and bare it. Demonoir is more like looking for a few strands of hay in a stack of needles. Sure there are some choice cuts on here but the blood is running a bit thin. If you take away all the intros and ambient tracks off of Demonoir, which is half the fuckin CD, it’s still mediocre for what this band has previously done. If I really want to insult them then I’d say they sound more and more like a Swedish black metal act. Right now there are a dozen ashen faced long hairs at an airport in Norway buying one way tickets to the US in order to hunt me down for that one.

1349 were once considered heirs to the great tradition of true Norwegian black metal but now seem to be just coasting along hoping to stay relevant. I mentioned Hellfire as their high water mark and to me it is. It was like four lunatics walking out on stage in a crowded hall but instead of instruments they’re armed with automatic weapons and proceed to spray the room with hot lead wasting everyone. Actually that sounds more like what a bunch of leftist Berlin terrorists from the 1980s would do and no I don’t condone that. Well let me think about that one again. I’ll get back with ya. But if there’s one redeeming thing I could say about this release is that I got the limited version which has a second CD containing cover songs of BAUHAUS, EXODUS and MORBID ANGEL. 1349 ruins every fuckin cut but ain’t that just the way of things nowadays.

BLOOD OF KINGU – Sun in the House of the Scorpion CD review

BLOOD OF KINGU – Sun in the House of the Scorpion CD
Candlelight Records

Those of you who are regular readers of Scumfeast Metal 666, and frankly who isn’t, will know that I’m a huge fan of Roman Saenko’s musical output over the years. I have everything he did with DRUDKH, a few things from HATE FOREST and the first BLOOD OF KINGU release De Occulta Philosophia from 2007. I’ve passed on some of his other projects but all in all when it comes to Mr. Saenko I’m biased as fuck and I’m not Ukrainian either. Like the last release what we have here is DRUDKH without the majestic atmosphere and production values or, if you will, HATE FOREST in an early stage of progression. Obviously what I’m getting at is the sound and style is somewhere lurking inbetween those two great bands. Instead of running through an Eastern European forest high on sampled hallucinogenic tree bark you’re traipsing through tombs examining hieroglyphics. That’s why I look at BLOOD OF KINGU more like Roman Saenko’s personal indulgence. It’s like a photo artist who also does weddings for the extra cash and then sells the up the skirt shots to sleaze merchants.

Music and lyric-wise the songs on here are bathed in ancient Sumerian and Egyptian mythology. Those of you who are subject matter fans of NILE and newer BEHEMOTH might take notice. Although soundwise this is colder than Napoleon’s nuts when he invaded Russia. Roman Saenko’s vocals sound like someone trying to recite poetry while suffering in the throes of hypothermia. Musically there’s an almost IMMORTAL sound to a few cuts although not as crispy. You know they weren’t really playing outside in the ice and snow. If you’re a DRUDKH fan from way back, as in a few years ago when you found one of their reissued CDs at Hot Topic, then you are not going to like this one bit. Although I would love to hear your thoughts on LUCIFUGUM, another time perhaps when I’m comatose and have five minutes left to live. But let’s not dwell on the future because Sun in the House of the Scorpion, which sounds like a movie title starring special effects, is dusty, dirty and without mummies running around with swords. The fact is this dink is brutal to the point where nardowells who are now into DRUDKH will not understand the depth of the song craft and historical significance put forth by Roman Saenko. Its ancient history set to black metal and for those who don’t get it well DIMMU BORGIR has a new CD coming out.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Burning World Records

Unlike the hipster herd I didn’t think this Irish band’s 2009 full length release, White Tomb, was a masterpiece. It was decent as far as post rock shoegazer music can go without boring the living shit out of ya. The fact is I find Drone bands like SUNN O)) or older BORIS far more exciting to listen to then shoegazer stuff. I wouldn’t call it black metal either and that’s one of the many problems I have when college radio losers or indie rock losers get involved in extreme music. They start promoting watered down versions of the real article then stiff up their noses as if everything before hand is now juvenile crap. What’s more annoying is how they act authoritative since they have that college degree in ass grabbing that they spent the better part of eight years earning. I’m sure that ALTAR OF PLAGUES reminds them of the good ole university days, listening to the COCTEAU TWINS on the radio while experimenting behind the locked dorm room doors with their same sex roomates.

With the exception of the harsh yet gruff vocals this two song EP is as exciting as watching eggshell white paint dry on a wall for thirty-five minutes, which is number eighteen on my list of things I wouldn’t do for money. The lethargic ambiance of these two cuts will give you a headache. Don’t get me wrong since I’m not part of the corpse paint scene police. I like alot of the more avant garde style blackened artists then most non indie rock girlie men. But in all honesty, and I’m as honest as the day is long, bands like WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM and SECRETS OF THE MOON do a better job at this post shoegazer stuff. Plus the production on here is muddier than a bum washing up in a creek bed on a rainy day. Maybe if things were a little cleaner and sparks jetted out from my stereo speakers I’d be concerned. I read a review of their White Tomb release last year where the critic called ALTAR OF PLAGUES purveyors of organic black metal. I would’ve loved to slap that recycled turd for brains for coming up with yet another black metal sub genre for losers. But all it not lost in the vastness of post rock oblivion. The actual time of this two song EP is thirty-six and a half minutes. There’s alot of things you could do in that amount of time. You could fold that laundry which is now heaped into a pile on a chair. Music like this is perfect to do house chores to because it’s so mellow and sedate. It’s not exciting so there’s no fear of letting your emotions take over and run head first into a wall because you always thought the space needed a window. Yeah I've done that.

SKYFORGER – Kurbads CD review

Metal Blade Records

After so many years hunkered down in the cult status regions of extreme metal this Latvian institution has decided to release something more mainstream. Yeah they’re still buried in the Pagan Folk metal genre but gone is the blackened aspects of their older releases. This new one stands along side other genre notables like ENSIFERUM, ELUVEITIE and FINNTROLL. The songs now are more thrash oriented with galloping rhythms worthy of starting a pit to. Hopefully some loser with one of those plastic Halloween Viking helmets jumps in then you can bash the shit out of em. Actually I kinda like this release as it stands up well to contemporary releases by the previously named bands. Hey look it has been seven years since SKYFORGER released some new material and their last one was all folk music. In that time you’ve had battle metal become commercially successful. The Paganfest is a perfect example. So if these guys wanna play to a friendly crowd, sell a few t-shirts and maybe a few of their older releases it’s fine by me.

Unfortunately I’ve read a few bad reviews for this release by some so-called “older fans”. Yeah well I’m old enough to have fathered some of those “older fans” so I’m not gonna let their whiney opinions bother me and nor should you. Unless you were a truly hip third grader in 1998 then I’d drop the “older fan” shtick. Fact is that here we have a decent sounding batch of catchy classic metal/thrash with folk snippets which many people might just find accessible. Plus it’s on Metal Blade so you know it will be in stores. Now for some people hiding in their parent’s basement clutching their copies of Latvieou Strclnieki (Latvian Riflemen) which they downloaded for free, this is sacrilege. Well fuck you ya dumb pieces of shit. It must really suck to be jaded at such a young age in order to look cool and impress people who don’t know that you’re parents still buy all of your clothes. Wow five listens into this dink and I’m opining. But I digress.

Kurbads is essentially a concept album about this mythical hero who is like a Latvian version of Shazam. Yeah try looking him up in your Nordic Gods handbooks, assholes. Anyway as far as the concept goes I don’t give a flying fuck. I am a huge fan of Pagan Folk Metal and some bands do draw you into an imaginary place where the myths take shape and have meaning. Other times it’s just great background music for a fuckin party, that’s if you’re old enough to drink and I’m not talking about that store bought mead kiddies. This new SKYFORGER is part of the latter and in my not so humble opinion it’s better musically then what many of their contemporaries have released.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NYDVIND – Sworn to the Elders CD review

NYDVIND – Sworn to the Elders CD
Trollzorn Records

Sooner or later if you listen to alot of extreme music you succumb to the new band playing well traveled genre burnout. It happens and if you’re lucky to catch it in its early stages, like I have, then you won’t turn into a full blown smiling eunuch music snob. Take this band for example who hail from France and play Nordic sounding pagan/folk metal. The first time I played this release I thought it was decent. The second time, by the halfway mark, I wanted to reach for something more traditionally Nordic. I don’t blame the band. I blame the genre that has become bloated with anyone can do it from anywhere type bands. In my not so humble opinion music that has a true sense of tradition should be performed by people from that area of the world. The further away you are from that region of the world the less authenticity and appeal you have. For example, if some band from Africa wants to play Viking metal that’s fine but you’d be hard pressed to convince me that you’re not jumping on the genre bandwagon. You’d be better off sticking with your homegrown influences like cannibalism, slavery, hunting elephants and buttfucking monkeys.

Now getting back to this French band, to their credit NYDVIND hit all basic genre buttons. They have epic songs from the shadier areas of the forest with black metal vocal screams as well as clean vocals by the warrior chorus choir. Some cuts go on far too long but that’s part of the process. Musically it’s classic sounding stuff with hints of a mythical historical background but I doubt these four guys were kidnapped at birth from Norway and transported in Gaul. When I listen to a song on here like “Icewinds Unleashed” I’m thinking a cold snap killed off half the wine crop and not what they probably had in mind. Then there’s “Nordic Dawn” which is a decent attempt at copying KAMPFAR but in reality it’s probably a cold morning in Paris.

DARK FORTRESS – Ylem CD review

Century Media Records

I thought this German band’s 2008 release Eidolon was fairly decent even though it was the first with new vocalist Morean behind the mic. It was also a concept album which is not a great way to start your new dig. Tom G. Warrior of CELTIC FROST/TRIPTYKON made a cameo appearance on that one. I considered it more like feeling their way around in the dark. Two years later we have this new one which is basically melodic black metal that drips off along the edges of the template enough to make it a fairly interesting listen. Sound wise there’s plenty of newer era SATYRICON sounding musical influences but that’s easy to over look once the blackened doom dirges enter the ear drums. To me that’s the best part of this release. “As the World Keels Over” is a slow moody cut with a freezing atmosphere that’s more doom than melodic black wallpaper paste. The same can be said about “Osiris” although it’s much harsher and would be my pick for a show opening cut. It’s a militaristic headbanger that takes a few melodic breaks. It has an amazing old school cadence with riffs sounding more from a Finnish fjord than the black forest. For face ripping demon spawned numbers there’s “Satan Bled” and “Silence” albeit the title is an oxymoron. Nice opening screams by Morean on that one. Actually Morean is more comfortable in the role of death growler leading the sermons of dread. Guitarist V. Santura, who use to be the touring second guitarist for CELIC FROST and now also plays in TRIPTYKON, adds some non black metal technical solos to the songs. There’s also a few groove riffed cuts that totally take this off the mainstream melodic black metal map. Ylem is not your typical German black metal that’s for sure but if you are willing to step off the treadmill you’ll find it memorable.

TRIPTYKON – Eparistera Daimones CD review

TRIPTYKON – Eparistera Daimones CD
Prowling Death Records/Century Media

I guess the obvious thing about Tom G Warrior’s post CELTIC FROST band’s debut is that it doesn’t suck. The second thing is did anyone out there in doom joyland think it wouldn’t be Monotheist Two? You figure after releasing that one and having it touted as album of the decade why even try to fuck with a good thing. Although fans do remember Cold Lake and Vanity/Nemesis so I’m sure there were a few doubters out there. For them, by the time the opening cut “Goetia” ends you’ll recognize the pattern of greatness aka: Monotheist is to Eparistera Daimones as HELLHAMMER is to CELTIC FROST. Tom G. is a genius and his music bleeds well into each other, albeit a few missteps in the past. He has done it all as far as extreme metal goes and he can do it with anyone. On here he’s aided by guitarist V. Santura of DARK FOREST fame plus Vanja Slajh on bass and Norman Lonhard on drums.

The earlier mentioned eleven minute opener “Goetia” doesn’t necessarily lead things off but continues where the final embers of CELTIC FROST burned out. This is followed by “Abyss within My Soul” and it’s both of these cuts that serve as an attitude adjustment. The riffs are like thunder in an echo chamber. Tom G’s viciously spits out the words like they were bile whether it’s done in growls or rasps. All of which was done incredibly well before hand on “A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh” but this time around it’s not an anomaly. When this thing plays you are not sitting there in awe going “holy shit”! This time around you are settled in awaiting the punishment to overcome your senses. The cut “A Thousand Lies” does just that. Tom G. also expands on themes he experimented with on Monotheist with the addition of added gothic female vocals. Songs like “Myopic Empire” and “My Pain” add a scope of dark beauty to Tom G’s tortured vision. Both of these cuts come near the end of Eparistera Daimones which once again follows the previous Monotheist pattern. Crush the living shit out of them early on with anger and pain although “In Shrouds Decayed” gives you some brief melancholy relief. Next give them a glimpse of a nicer life while glancing through the prison bars. Then finally destroy them without prejudice.

“The Prolonging”, a nineteen minute closer, is similar to the closing cuts from Monotheist in that yeah it drags ass. To me that’s signature Tom G. and easy to overlook. One of the reasons it’s taken me so long to review this thing is that at 72 minutes this dink is plenty to take in. I didn’t indulge in any of the pre-release hype. In fact with the exception of my friend Tara, I haven’t heard or read anything about this thing. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there in the world falling over their collective thesauruses trying in earnest to find that perfect descriptive line. Not knowing what they’ve expounded on works best for me. I like it that way because Eparistera Daimones is something you need to clear your schedule for as well as your preconceived ideas. Once you immerse yourself then the monstrous riffs will be bouncing around in your brain bucket for weeks on end. I have “Goetia” running around in there all day during work. I’ll grant the jaded ones this line. Like I alluded to earlier Eparistera Daimones, which by the way means “To My Left, The Demons”, surpasses Monotheist mainly because Tom G seems unrestrained and willing to take his apocalyptic vision to the next extreme. Will this be near the top of everyone’s collective end of year schmooze lists? Yes but ten years from now will it be remembered or will Tom G. surprise us many more times with this his triptych?