Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Metal for Winter - Black Metal, Doom Metal

Winter arrived few weeks back and the cold swept the northern part of India. Having shifted to this region after ages, I was basically unprepared for the magnitude of this cold. I decided to compile a list of bands/albums that go along with the climate. Unsurprisingly, this list will consist of majority Black (mainly atmospheric/ambient and depressive) Metal and Doom Metal (again, either Death Doom or Funeral Doom) since both genres were have a close association with depression and negativity, just like Winters. There is no particular order followed in this list. So, here I go:

1. Evoken - Antithesis of Light and Embrace the Emptiness - Although the latter lacks the thickness and sheer gloom of the former, which is considered a masterpiece by a majority of Funeral Doom Metal fans, it is a highly recommended Evoken album, since it is well-done diSEMBOWELMENT worship, with great melancholic clean lead guitar lines and the music creates an empty atmosphere with the use of mellow synths. The former album needs no introduction.

2. Empyrium - Songs of Moors & Misty Fields - Empyrium, on this album play an infusion of Dark Folk and Doom Metal, similar to Uaral. This is a promising combination, but Empyrium's output is too mellow, flowery and romantic for stern metal fans. Nonetheless, it appeals to me.

3. Trist - Stiny - This one man band from Czech republic plays Depressive Black Metal, and not unlike most bands, it has a fuzzy, atmospheric sound. The difference lies in the fact that there is a good use of lead guitars and certain variations in drumming and main riffs in songs. The end result is a cavernous, claustrophobic sound of being imprisoned in sheer cold.

4. Nyktalgia - Nyktalgia - Inclusion of this album is a no-brainer. Out of the several Burzum clones floating around in the world, this is the one that managed to stand out, and for all the good reasons. Nyktalgia use the same idea as Hvit Lyset Tar Oss and throw in extra doses of depression, clean guitars, howled vocals and blast-beats, and however formulaic and generic it sound, it works really well. This is the perfect album for which I'd use descriptors like cold or grim.

5. Gorement - The Ending Quest - Probably the only Death Metal band in this list. Gorement are one of those bands with an enigmatic atmosphere. It feels distant, and has a feeling of being in an open space. The atmosphere has a serene and calm vibe to it, which contrasts the riff-tastic Death Metal assault.

6. Abyssmal Sorrow - Lament - Again, a no-brainer. It's obvious from a past review that Abyssmal Sorrow have that dreary, cold atmosphere, full of hopelessness and sorrow. There are no crushing, heavy riffs, but thin, Black Metal riffs played with the pace and feeling of Funeral Doom Metal.

7. Worship - Last CD Before Doomsday and Dooom - For the uninformed, Worship are one of the best known Funeral Doom Metal bands. The music is filled to the brim with pure emotion, and the riffs are crushingly heavy. Worship are well-known for their ability to mix sorrowful atmosphere with heavy riffs and spine-chilling lyrics. Just don't commit suicide after listening to this.

8. Darkspace - Dark Space III - Ambient Black Metal with a ridiculously heavy guitar sound, that is capable of making Death Metal bands hide their faces in shame. Despite that, Darkspace successfully evoke a sound that would be heard in outer space if it had any medium for sound propagation.

9. Black Autumn - Rivers of Dead Leaves - This album always gave me an impression of walking along the road, on dry, dead leaves during a cold, foggy winter morning. Black Autumn mixes Black Metal with Doom Metal, with some post-metal tendencies. Quite laid-back and relaxed, and unlike a lot of bands on this list, it doesn't invoke a miserable feeling.

10. ColdWorld - Melancholie² - No winter is complete without this atmospheric Black Metal classic in your playlist. ColdWorld's music is an amalgamation of Atmospheric Black Metal and Dark Ambient, with use of instruments like violins, and compositions with sweeping wintry melodies that would soak your ears with bliss.

11. Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane - This Black Metal classic is a stormy blizzard of icy-cold, melodic riffs and appropriate occult-based lyrics. Look at the album cover, add a blizzard to it, imagine being there. If you have synesthesia, you now know how the music sounds like.

12. The Howling Void - Shadows Over the Cosmos - Funeral Doom Metal laced with piano instead of lead guitars. A very laid back record suitable for contemplating or work. Also well-suited for winters.

This is all I can think of, at the moment. Keep checking back for updates on this list.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rotting Christ - Non Serviam : Album Review

Better known for the far more melodic Gothic-based albums, Rotting Christ started out as a Grindcore band, but abandoned that sound early on, embracing a riff-based, melodic sound, and establishing themselves among First Wave Hellenic Black Metal bands, alongside bands like Varathron and Necromantia. Although a lot of fans like their later sound, Rotting Christ on Non Serviam brought us a flurry of addictive riffs and melodies.

The album begins with The Fifth Illusion, a song with a catchy main riff and chorus. Like a lot of early Greek Black Metal, they don't blast away, nor do they try to create a grim or dark atmosphere. The atmosphere and sound here, are very ancient/medieval, which goes well with the imagery of the band. The riffs throughout the whole album are extremely catchy. The band chooses not to indulge in hard-to-make-out, distorted tremolo picking, and settles for slow to mid-paced riffs, with adequate use of melodies, which immediately brings Traditional Doom Metal bands in mind. The guitar sound is thinned down due to the production, but it shouldn't be a big problem, since the riffs are not overpowered by anything else in the mix. The scales used here are clearly distinct and different. I'm no music pundit, but there's something distinct about the pattern and combination of notes played by the band that sets Rotting Christ - and most Greek Black Metal - apart from the usual idea of the genre. 

The riffage is particularly memorable in slower songs like Morality of a Dark Age, which reflects the band's mastery in the craft of songwriting. The vocals are quite basic black/death metal growls, and there are no attempts by the vocalist to set himself apart. He's a no-frills, to-the-point vocalist, which proves to be a good thing, since they blend in smoothly with the rest of the music, never once grabbing the listeners exclusive attention. The bass guitar is played in a simplistic manner - almost exactly along the lines of the rhythm guitar - but it adds sufficiently to the heaviness of the otherwise thin sound. The drums lines are well written, although simple. There are no blast-beats, but a regular thrashy pattern, when swaying away from addictive grooves. That said, each instrument plays an important role, even though the guitar riffs are the main point of interest.

Thin production is the only problem I can point out, right now. Disregarding that, the album is an essential Black Metal release. The "melodic" part is done well and devoid of any cheesiness, so it shouldn't put potential listeners off. Very highly recommended for seekers of the riff, and for fans of Master's Hammer, Argentum and the likes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meth Drinker - Meth Drinker : Album Review

Sludge is known to be among the heaviest genres within Metal. The overall of sound of a Sludge band can vary between groovy and chilled-out, and misanthropic. Meth Drinker play depressed, misanthropic and hateful kind of Sludge, similar to crusty Sludge bands like Dystopia and Graves at Sea, but without the violence and brutality of Crust. Hailing from New Zealand, this self-titled album is the first release by this band.

The first impression formed by this band on a listener's mind is "Wow, this is heavy". Feedback-laden, raw guitar riffs are prominent from the first note. The guitar tone is very similar to that heard on Eyehategod's In The Name of Suffering. Perfect for this band, since rather than engaging in bluesy riffing, Meth Drinker combine notes to make the most hateful kind of sound they can. Previous comparisons with Dystopia come into the picture here, but, again, the band is set apart by the total lack of fast, crusty sections, and relies solely on heavy, oppressive riffs. The vocals feel as if rasped out with full force, vomited out by a suffering man, perfectly contributing to the misanthropy. The bass guitar is prominent throughout this release as should be in any Sludge Metal album, and most of it blends in the extremely down-tuned guitars. The groovy, simple drumming here makes sure it doesn't distract the listener from the black, hateful goodness spread through in the guitar riffs. Yet, it maintains groove, without which the album would sound hollow.
Through the album, Meth Drinker showcase their good songwriting abilities, with impressive riffs, use of samples, and variations in songs. The song titles suggest a lyrical theme of drug abuse and mental illness. This is perfectly reflected in the music, and especially the vocals, so it wouldn't take you time to guess it yourself. The band does this variety of Sludge really well, without relying on Crust or Hardcore Punk to bring out the hate, and that is very commendable.

Meth Drinker is recommended for all Sludge fans, as long as they don't expect chilled-out, Stoner/Sludge Metal. This album is unsettling and depressive. There's no cannabis, no booze here, but abusive and destructive meth!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Abyssmal Sorrow - Lament : Album Review

Slowly, but evidently, I'm finding myself less tolerant towards mediocre music or bands, including Old School Death Metal ones. I simply cannot stand how each and every band playing that genre, no matter how average it sounds, gets utter praise by people with tastes similar to mine.
Fortunately, throw any damn Doom Metal at me, and I'll love it as long as it stays away from "fucking cheesy" territory. Personal opinions apart, the band that is the subject of the review is an Australian Funeral Doom/Black metal band, Abyssmal Sorrow. With just one EP and one album, Abyssmal Sorrow aren't very well known outside of Funeral Doom fan base.

On looking at the band photos, the album cover and lyrics/themes, prior to giving this album a spin, it's prone to a lot of incorrect judgment. The first opinions range from "must be cliched Depressive Black Metal" to "Another cheesy Gothic Doom?", but that's where the band lands in with a pleasant surprise. You might be a bit correct with the former, since Lament definitely has rather sad melodies and a very "Black Metal" sound to it, but that is where the similarity ends. The band tilts a lot towards the realm of Funeral Doom. What sets it apart, even yet, from its own genre, is the thin sound. It is not thick, heavy or crushing, but still follows the Funeral Doom norm of painfully slow riffing and heavy reliance on the atmosphere, provided by the synths, with near-perfection. The riffing is slow, very slow, and depressive in nature, but limits itself before breaking the barrier and sounding "emo". (PS: Emo, here, is not used as a term describing the post-hardcore movement, but used to describe the usual derogatory term for cheesy emotional melodrama). The riffing compliments the guitar tone perfectly, as a heavier sound would not have reflected the pure misery held in the combination of notes played. The synths are used in a very good way; Almost playing along the lines of the guitar riffs, but never too overpowering to drown the guitars themselves. They perfectly add to the atmosphere, in addition to the occasional use of acoustic guitar passages, which are used rather brilliantly. Listen to the intro on Austere Lament Part 1, which displays the best of such passages. The vocals are throaty howls, resonating with the rest of the music. they sound haunting enough to send a chill down your spine, and reflect the . They sound more like a part of the background, which is a good thing, since such a style has a potential to distract the listener from the rest of the music. The bass guitar is the sole instrument providing any heaviness the songs in here have, and play almost along the lines of the guitar, and as usual, is an important instrument here. Despite the thin sound, Abyssmal Sorrow's music is rooted in Funeral Doom Metal, owing to the atmospheric nature and the vast, desolate landscapes, visions of which the music creates.

All in all, a very good piece of Atmospheric Funeral Doom/Black metal recommended for fans of the genre and also for fans of Depressive Black Metal (due to the resemblance in sound). Of course, the album is far from perfect, but very good nonetheless.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coffinworm - When All Became None: Album Review

Long time, no review. Time to end the dry spell, and Coffinworm is a good enough band to do so. Formed in 2007, these bunch of guys play Blackened Sludge. Sludge, being a genre that works well in combination with most metal genres, seems to work the best with Black Metal, since the atmospheric and hateful quality of both is added up. After a raw and rough EP titled "Great Bringer of Night", Coffinworm released their full length album in 2010

Not unlike their preceding work, When All Became None is a pretty dirty, misanthropic pile of dark, blackened Sludge. Coffinworm utilize slower, crushing sections very well, as they literally pound and pummel the eardrums, like you would expect from any Sludge. In addition to that, there are rather groovy, sometimes Crusty mid-paced sections scattered across the songs, which adds variety and keeps it interesting. What makes this band stand out, is the highly atmospheric feeling to the music, yet, it is very unlike Post-Metal/Atmospheric Sludge. The guitar effects invoke a rather Black Metal-like, dark and dismal atmosphere. There is no trace of Stoner tendencies in the music, and there are absolutely no bluesy passages and riffs, but the general atmosphere is spacey and psychedelic at times. The dissection of the quality of riffing isn't necessary here, since this is Sludge, and to be a half-credible Sludge band, you need riffs, so this band obviously assaults the listener with a barrage of crushing riffs, varying between Doom, Black and Crust styles. The guitar tone fits their style of music very well. It is sometimes reminiscent of Graves At Sea, sometimes reminds of Evoken. The general goal of creating a dark, macabre atmosphere with crushing riffs is achieved through it. The vocals are Black Metal 'growls', and sound powerful. There is only a little variety in them, and the vocalist sometimes switches to low growls temporarily. There is a sense of rage in them, but a slight feeling of evilness and grimness would have really helped. This is just a minor drawback here, since the vocals are not playing the biggest role here. The drums are luckily neither too high, nor too low, and are mixed really well. The cymbals don't hurt, the snare sounds perfect and crushing, and the bass is loud. The bass guitar is not distinctly audible unless paid attention to, but since the Lows are turned up in the mix, it doesn't seem too much of a drawback.

Song memorability is low on the first few listens, since there isn't much that helps differentiate between songs. Every song is similar, and there are almost no defining moments, except the intro to Spitting In Infinity's Asshole. This is the biggest drawback of this record, and it will take a few listens to actually dig in. that means bad news for people without enough patience, who will likely discard this, labeling it as monotonous. Disregarding the poor memorability factor on the first few listens, this album is really good, and Coffinworm effectively combine Black Metal, Crust and Sludge. Recommended.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hell - Human Remains : Album Review

In the past couple of years, when a large percentage of unaware audience was mourning the declining older, more traditional forms of Heavy Metal and (rightfully) blaming modern metal for the imminent death of Heavy Metal, there were a good number of bands engaging in old school metal worship in all its flavours. While people are well aware of revivalist Thrash and newer Old School Death Metal, new Traditional Heavy Metal goes unnoticed. Though I should make it clear, Hell are NOT a new band and have been around since 1982, as a part of the NWOBHM movement, but never released an album till 2011.

UK's Hell released few demos back in the 80s, but never got any attention due to the large number of bands from the movement successfully releasing a number of albums. Human Remains is their first ever full-length album. Needless to say, Hell play Traditional Heavy Metal, very similar to the top-of-the-line bands from 1980s, most notably Mercyful Fate. Their NWOBHM roots are very pronounced in their playing style, but they also take a little from their American counterparts in form of Speed Metal riffing and wailed vocals and "epic" songwriting. The band doesn't shy away from inclusion of synth, which is okay, since it doesn't sound like flowery Euro Power metal keyboards. The style works well for the record, but can sound monotonous since the album is over an hour long with little variation.
The riffing is a combination of upbeat, punk-ish NWOBHM-like riffs and heavy, palm-muted Speed Metal riffs, which is like listening to Mercyful Fate, Riot and Angel Witch, all at the same time. The possibility of an amazing outcome of such a combination is hindered by the fact that they're arranged in a chaotic and disjoint manner at times in certain tracks. Nonetheless, the enjoyability factor is kept up by the quality of the riffs. The guitarists show their full potential with blazing, melodic guitar solos present in every song, upping each song's quality. The vocalist differs from typical NWOBHM vocalists with his good range and superior singing ability. Yet, he might come off as unoriginal, since the King Diamond-like style doesn't work for anyone except King himself. The vocals dominate most of the songs, and that can be distracting from the rest of the music. The bass guitar is not very audible, despite the clear and fairly modern-sounding production of the album. The drummer plays quite well, without a sign of sloppiness or error, and adapts well to the structural changes throughout the songs. The band engages in progressive songwriting, with constant changes in structure, tempo, riffs and certain unconventional (but not outright weird) time signatures. The progressive nature of the songs compels the listener to either pay full attention to the music or give it several listens. The lyrics deal with Satan, Hell, Occult, etc, and the dark nature of such is further amplified by the meticulous use of synth.

Even if the band comes off too similar to Mercyful Fate, Hell has its own flavour. There are no new ideas here, since it is a Traditional Heavy Metal release, and if it is all you're looking for, you won't be disappointed and Human Remains is for you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Raventale - After : Album Review

Ukraine's Raventale is a Black/Doom Metal (or often labeled as Depressive/Atmospheric Black Metal) project of  Astaroth, and was formed in 2005. Of the total of four albums released, After is the most recent work, released in 2010, under Solitude Productions. Raventale's musical approach, although very typical of modern melancholic Doom Metal bands is mature in terms of songwriting and production.

The album starts off with Gone, a 10-minute track that shoots off with a dark and atmospheric riff, which gives a basic idea of Raventale's sound, which is very distanced from what it is sometimes labeled as, since the production value is much cleaner and polished than you would hear in a Depressive Black Metal band. Still, the production suits, since musically, it is closer to the likes of Novembre or Darkflight. I would even draw a comparison between Raventale and Black Autumn. The rather atmospheric riff is followed by a much heavier Doom Metal riff, played by a separate guitar. The guitars are layered in a good way, and the music doesn't end up sounding thin or pale. The heavier riffs give the music a very strong Doom Metal touch, sometimes reaching heaviness that, when at its peak, can be likened to bands like Ataraxie. Despite the crushing heaviness, Raventale chooses to play faster than what is expected of Doom Metal. The playing speed doesn't hamper the melancholic atmosphere, since it is supported by intricate, melancholic guitar leads played by a second guitar, and the presence of clean guitar sections spaced and placed well in a song. To top it up, the atmosphere is further enhanced by synthesizer present throughout, but mostly audible when the guitars aren't playing or in cleaner sections. The vocals are overshadowed by the music, which appears to be mostly instrumental. Since they aren't that great, their long absence in song goes unnoticed. The music speeds up after the second track, which is also the title track of the album. The fourth track, Flames has a rather fast intro that breaks down into a part with a heavy, but depressive, palm-muted guitar riff. This song showcases Astaroth's ability to write good, engaging riffs, and also consists of a brilliant guitar and even a keyboard (of the non-annoying variety) solo. The keyboard solo is very bearable, very unlike Children of Bodom's keyboard wankery, and isn't audible unless you're paying special attention to the details. This song is clearly the highlight of this album. The bass and drums are nothing to write home about since the drums are mostly programmed and played by a drum machine, and that fact is very obvious.

The element of melancholy in the music isn't stretched far into Funeral Doom realms, but has a far more relaxed, less misanthropic sound. The music embraces nature and darkness rather than depression and emotions, both musically and lyrically, as evident from their mellow sound, and a rather positive, more than negative vibe.

Raventale is recommended for fans of bands like Novembre, but it nonetheless can entertain Doom Metal fans, as long as they don't expect a massively crushing wall of agonizing riffs to pummel them. This release doesn't have it, but it will surely be a great company during a long, tiring journey.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Woods of Desolation - Torn Beyond Reason : Album Review

Woods of Desolation was formed by D., in the year 2005 in Australia. Working alone in the band, handling all the instruments, Woods of Desolation released several demos and splits. In 2009, D. was joined by Desolate (Mitch Keepins) of Austere and handled the vocals in the EP "Sorh". Soon, Desolate left the band and was replaced by Tim Yatras of Austere, who handled the drums and vocals, and the gave us this piece of emotionally-charged music titled "Torn Beyond Reason".

Not having heard previous works of the band, I cannot comment on how different/similar this record is to the others, but Woods of Desolation's music can perfectly be described as sorrowful, with great emphasis on melodies, yet keeping up the qualities that puts it under the "Black Metal" category. This may or may not be a conscious effort, but is certainly favourable, considering the type of music they make. The songs are filled with tremolo-picked guitar riffs and very dynamic and energetic drumming, which makes it a lot less depressive, yet the tremolo-picked guitar melodies manage to invoke a sense of desolation and sorrow. That is combined with screamed and wailed vocals and rather generic emotionally-charged lyrics that are only few steps away from entering the "cheesy" territory, yet not quite stepping into it. The riffs and melody have very little to absolutely no Black Metal influence, barring the distortion, drumming and tremolo-picking and tend more towards Depressive Rock territory. That, of course, doesn't automatically render it bad by any means. It just places it apart from Depressive Black Metal. Woods of Desolation sits comfortably in the grey area between Depressive Black Metal and Depressive Rock. The playing style is akin to Metal, but the melodies and compositions are nowhere close to it. Tim Yatras clearly imports his drumming style from Austere, which makes it easy for any uninformed listener to confuse the band for Austere. The vocals have a slight similarity to Austere too, and so does the overall sound and playing style, placing both bands parallel to each other and hard to distinguish, and takes away the originality element from the band in question (since earlier demos had a different sound, whereas on this record, it sounds adapted from Austere's terminal studio album).

The songs have enough variations in terms of songwriting, which keeps the album from sounding like a clusterfuck of depressive riffs and screeched vocals. The band employs clean vocals and clean guitar sections. Especially in the songs Darker Days and Somehow.... The short instrumental, interlude-like track, November is probably the album's highlight. The band invokes a sense of melancholy in its own way, by not relying on the atmosphere, since it's nearly cancelled out by the energetic drumming, but with riff-work and vocals. The end product is mildly sorrowful music that does just enough justice to the lyrics.

Woods of Desolation's Torn Beyond Reason is strictly for fans of Austere. If you liked To Lay Like Old Ashes, you will certainly like this. People expecting cold, unsettling Depressive Black Metal, stay away.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Black Oath - The Third Aeon : Album Review

From the land of Doom metal greats like Paul Chain, hail Black Oath, a modern Traditional Doom Metal band. Formed back in 2006, and with just a few releases, Black Oath didn't make a big impact, especially in presence of bands like Hour of 13, Lamp of Thoth, and other better known present-day Doom Metal bands. Despite that, with The Third Aeon, they are definitely set for much better acclaim by Doomsters all over the globe.

What makes this band, and especially this album so special is the originality in their sound. They do not try to directly lift ideas off Black Sabbath, Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus, although there are many observable similarities with the latter two bands. Black Oath have an occult-like atmosphere, supported by their occult-based lyrics. The eerie atmosphere is created by careful use of organs and mellow piano in certain places. That of course, is led by heavy riffing. Stylistically, most of the music is inspired from the likes of Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus and Solstice, rather than Black Sabbath or Pentagram. Hence, the riffs lack the bluesy quality of the latter two, but have a horror-inducing sound and crushing heaviness. This is where the band brings forth its own ideas, by only in certain places, delving into the melancholic territory of Candlemass, and sticking to a much creepier, occult-like sound, reflected in the riffs and the keyboards. This combination, i.e., the good use of melancholic elements and a more extensive use of desolate, horror-invoking sounds, is what sets this band apart from their mentors. The riffs are, needless to say, one of the most important aspects of this album, and though there isn't much variety in the one-note riffs that chug along through almost every song, the slower riffs and most guitar leads are what make the atmosphere. The drummer does his job well, although his job here is only giving the music a sense of presence, so that it doesn't turn into snooze-inducing drone within minutes. The bass is crunchy and loud, sometimes louder than the guitars, which is always a big plus in a Doom Metal band. The bassist doesn't restrict himself to playing the same thing as the guitarist, and hence, is even more noticeable.
The vocalist, who also happens to be the guitarist, does an amazingly good job on the mic. He doesn't try to replicate Ozzy's vocal style, which I hold a lot of bands guilty of. His singing style is similar to Messiah Marcolin, but without the melancholic element and a comparatively masculine pitch. He doesn't have an extensive vocal range, but manages to pull off relatively higher notes with easy. This perfectly suits the occult nature of the music and lyrics.

The album doesn't stretch too long and clocks at an appropriate length of 45 minutes. This lessens the chance of boredom or "How long before this ends"-thoughts. The 6 songs are enough to satiate a Doomster's hunger for slow, plodding and possessing metal of horror and sin.
Extremely recommended for a Traditional Doom Metal fan. This isn't a release to be missed by any chance.

Good luck finding a copy of the album for a lesser price. Available on Amazon for a whopping $43.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

High Rise - High Rise II : Album Review

Since the 1970s, Japan has had a large underground Heavy Psych and Noise Rock scene, and since I am, as usual, unfamiliar with it, I cannot enlighten anyone on who the pioneers were, or who started it. That said, High Rise are among the large number of impressive Japanese rockers following a largely noise-based Heavy Psych sound. High Rise II is the band's second studio album.

The music the band plays is a rather noise-laden, distorted variation of Deep Purple's music. But this is no clone band, as they have their own unique ideas. High Rise II is an album full of typical 70s-sounding riffs, yet quite powerful and noticeable drum lines, and a lot of noise and distortion, sometimes similar to a 90s Norwegian Black Metal band. That makes this album a lot less listenable to a classic rock fan who swears by clean production, as it has more noise than a badly produced NWOBHM tape, which explains why the whole scene never got enough exposure.

The album is very enjoyable for the fact that these guys churn out straight-up Hard Rock songs, never once to slow down and sing a cheesy ballad. The riffs are quite chord-based and simple, but memorable enough that you'd remember the song next time you play it. Especially the main riffs in Pop Sicle and Monster a Go Go. The whole album is filled with Acid Rock-esque guitar solos. In fact, it is filled to the brim with it, and in later parts of the album, the vocal and rhythm sections are overshadowed by the solos. The 13-minute song Pop Sicle is a long solo-fest, but never induces a single yawn. The bass guitar is buried by the rhythm sections most of the time, but you can hear it rumbling when the lead guitar plays, and is apparently not a big part of the music here. The drum lines, as previously mentioned are dynamic and energetic, and play a major part in the music. The vocals are mildly sung out, probably in Japanese, probably in English, but since I never bothered to check the lyrics sheet anywhere online, I don't know. That is because the vocals are there just for the sake of it. The whole album would have sounded as good if it was solely an instrumental album.

Overall, a good album for Noise Rock fans or even Psychedelic or Hard Rock fans, provided they can handle the noise in this record. For others, there are certainly better alternatives.


Buy: High Rise II

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Nachos - Worthless : Album Review

After being disappointed with the highly acclaimed Powerviolence band, Capitalist Casualties, I had no plans on checking Weekend Nachos (due to the Powerviolence tag) till my fellow reviewer convinced me to, and I believe that was a pretty good decision. Formed in 2004, the band has come up with 3 full-length albums and few EPs and a split album. Being still unfamiliar with the underground Hardcore Punk / Powerviolence movement today, I can comment no further on the band's background, except that the band still appears to play in small venues, yet has a good following.

Weekend Nachos play a very heavy version of Powerviolence. Like every powerviolence band, their playing speed usually borders on grindcore. I would usually disregard a band that plays fast but nothing particularly memorable or even good, but Weekend Nachos aren't your regular grind-away-till-the-album-finishes band. When not raining your face with chaingun riffs,  the band brings in the tank - slow, heavy, sludge riffing similar to Noothgrush and Grief. Even if not reaching the heights of the mentioned bands in terms of creativity, the sludge sections are what make this album a treat to listen to. Coupled with the heaviness and power of the heavily feedback-laden guitar sound, those portions crush the brains out of the listener's skull. Vocals are nothing new. The vocalist screams in a hardcore fashion - at the top of his lungs with utmost rage and disgust. The drums too are quite typical hardcore/grindcore (in the respective sections of a song). Bass guitar is audible but plays exactly the same as the guitars. Never once during its course does the album lose intensity or ideas. Riffs are aplenty and their transition into sludge doesn't sound out-of-place or broken. The only place where they sound unoriginal is the middle portion of the song "Worthless" (the main riff is clearly lifted off Noothgrush's Hatred For The Species). Nevertheless, the album is thoroughly enjoyable for at least a few continuous listens. The song lengths are appropriate, most of them clocking at 1 minute (plus or minus 30 seconds), except 3 songs, which are above 3 minutes long and the longest being 7 minutes 21 seconds long, which is a completely Sludge song and makes for a good closing track.

This album is appropriate for fans of Grindcore, Powerviolence and even Sludge. It's not top-notch when in comes any of them, but is enjoyable due to the sheer power it packs, and the adrenalin rush it induces because of that.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Goreaphobia - Apocalyptic Necromancy : Album Review

Goreaphobia was formed in 1988 in Philadelphia, making them among the earliest Death Metal bands from Pennsylvania along with Incantation, but unlike them, Goreaphobia managed to get a cult status only through years of Demos as they never released a single Full-length till 2009.

The album cover slays just as much as the album itself.

With Apocalyptic Necromancy, Goreaphobia proved that they are among the most consistent bands when it comes to making dark Death Metal with good songwriting. The album has a modern-styled production, but they still maintain an organic and fairly old school sound, which is a good thing. The album's material isn't as powerful as the new songs heard on Vile Beast of Abomination compilation, but more powerful than that heard on Mortal Repulsion. Apocalyptic Necromancy sounds an extension to Mortal Repulsion, so can get boring at times, but as each song brings forth a new and engaging riff, it manages to draw back the attention of the listener. Chris Gamble does a good job on vocals as always. His growls are decipherable, and have a good range, but lack heaviness, but that can be excused because they sound evil enough to go with the sound of the rest of the instruments. Don't expect bowel-churing Chris Reifert screams, but Gamble's vocals are unique in their own way. Alex Bouks does a good job with the riffs. Each one of them written and played well. The band, like always manages to come up with interesting mid-paced riffing in each song with occasional, catchy palm-muted riffs. The bass is crystal clear and audible everywhere, but follows a simple pattern. Even though all it does is add to the heaviness of the already heavy record, it does its job well. The drumming is well done, precise and follows a Thrash Metal pattern than the usual blast-till-no-tomorrow. The snare sound can get a little annoying, though.

Like earlier mentioned, Goreaphobia are masters of the art of creating absolutely sickening and sinister Death Metal in a way that the modern production couldn't take any of its essence away. Chris Gamble's horrifying vocals reciting tales of horror and sickness, combined with Alex Bouks' and VJS's guitar riffs spewing evil through sound waves, and Jim Roe's ritualistic drum pounding definitely make Apocalyptic Necromancy among the better releases of 2011 so far.

2011 has certainly been a great year for Death Metal. Who knows what the coming moths have for us. Till then, enjoy this corpse-infested crypt of an album.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Azarath - Blasphemer's Maledictions

Poland is known among metal fans as the home to some of the most intense bands. Azarath ranks among the highest in that matter, as almost all of their releases - barring their weak 2009 album, titled Praise The Beast - were very intense and powerful.

Despite the fall in intensity and memorable songwriting, Azarath return to their form with Blasphemer's Malediction, with a slight change in lineup, i.e. a new vocalist, who adds a different flavour to their music, but lacks the commanding power of their ex-vocalist, Bruno. In spite of this, the music presented by the band in this album is top-notch with only little flaws and drawbacks. Each song is filled with catchy riffing, brutal drumming and fairly audible bass, which is only partially drowned by the guitars like in earlier albums. The album, judging by the cover has a Sumerian theme and a slight mid-eastern tinge in the music, yet is far from being gimmicky. The production job is well done and suitable for Death Metal, even thought it is slightly modern (somewhat like early 2000s). Bart Szudek does a good job on the guitars with chaingun riffing, which manages to be catchy as well as evil, and blazing, yet melodic solos, reminding the listener of Diabolic Impious Evil. Inferno executes drums with perfection - no sloppiness, no errors - with aggressive blasting, blazing double bass and tasteful drum rolls and fills. He is, as always, the highlight of the album. The vocalist has a rather Blackened Death Metal style, that works well for Azarath, despite being different from Bruno's possessed, low-pitched growling, which perfectly suited their sound. Still, Necrosodom unleashes his vocal chords with full fury, in resonance with the band's aggressive and brutal sound.

Blasphemer's Malediction does not surpass their Magnum Opus, but comes close enough to it and is equally enjoyable. Recommended for Death Metal fans who can survive a continuous onslaught on their eardrums.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mütiilation - Vampires of Black Imperial Blood - album review

Mütiilation was one-man Black Metal band (featuring Meyhna'ch as the sole member), and a part of Les Legions Noires, an underground group of Black Metal musicians in France, known for releasing numerous demos, EPs and splits.Vampires of Black Imperial Blood is the band's first full-length released in 1995.

The album is the polar opposite of good musicianship, and has received acclaim as well as criticism, solely for the fact that it is an ugly, misanthropic work of sonic interference, dripping with muck and blood. Out-of-tune guitars, fuzzy riffing and almost inaudible bass, and sloppy drumming are the main characteristics of this album, yet, this is the perfect non-music album for expressing hatred towards humanity. The slower parts are nothing less evil than early New York Death Metal or Norwegian Black Metal, and the vocals are demented screams and vomits befitting the misanthropic atmosphere created by the fuzzy guitar riffs. The riffing is varied - sometimes catchy, sometimes depressive, sometimes downright grim. The sloppy drumming does almost nothing to add to the music, but because this isn't music in the first place, it doesn't matter - it just plays, blasting in fast sections, plodding in the slower ones. All songs are just sonic impersonations of hateful ramblings of a misanthrope confined to an asylum and surrounded by white walls, and in a straight jacket. The fact that Xasthur chose to cover one of Mütiilation's songs is enough to support that.

Every song in the album has a slightly depressive tinge to it, leading a lot of people to tag it as Depressive Black Metal, but this is something much primitive, and a lot more deranged than that. This is the epitome of rawness in the genre. It may not be musically good, but this is something what Black Metal has always been about, according to a lot of purists. It's solely the emotion and the hatred of the man behind it, encapsulated in the form of audible violence.

Mütiilation's Vampires of Black Imperial Blood is recommended ONLY if you like raw, badly produced, non-musical Black Metal. Otherwise, you will hate it more than you've hated anything else. Either way, this album achieves it's objective of invoking hatred in the minds of listeners.

No amazon link. Good luck finding an original Mütiilation record.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Disma - Towards The Megalith - Album Review

Disma appeared out of the blue in 2009 with their demo titled The Vault of Membros, and quickly gained attention attributed to the fact that it comprises of musicians from Incantation and Funebrarum. The fact that Disma is fronted by Craig Pillard was enough to send waves of excitement down any old school Death Metal fan's spine.

As with their demo, Disma prove with this album, that the immense amount of attention they got had a lot more to do with their music, and not with the mere presence of members from respected bands. Towards the Megalith is musically similar to a lot of new old school Death Metal bands - heavy, downtuned-as-fuck, and production similar to a mid-90s band. The riffs are slow to mid-paced, and the faster riffs are similar to those played by Disciples of Mockery. They evoke a sense of evil, not unlike a lot of early 90s Death Metal bands. The drumming is sharp and precise, which is a good break from the sloppiness shown, sometimes purposely, by a lot of Death Metal drummers. The snare sound is perfect and loud enough to support the crushing wall of sound created by the riffs and bass, and the bass drums sound neither too high nor too low in the mix. Craig Pillard's vocal delivery is sinister, low, and guttural as always. Though nothing compared to what he did on Mortal Throne of Nazarene, they can still be compared to dragging a heavy boulder on a gravelly road. The songwriting here is much more refined than that in their demo, and the songs are a lot more memorable and even catchy. The album includes the 3 songs from Vault of Membros, but with a much more refined sound, which isn't a bad thing, considering they sound even heavier and better than they did on the demo. The doom element is clear and obvious in this album, and is apparently something Craig Pillard really digs, as evidenced by the fact that almost all the bands he has been in, and has been involved with the songwriting, have slow, doomy sections.

Disma continue their assault throughout the album, constantly demolishing eardrums with their bass-heavy riffs A highly recommended album and among the best albums of 2011, right up there with Autopsy's Macabre Eternal. and powerful drum sound, with intense vocal delivery. The album cover artist did a very good job with the album art, as that is a near-perfect description of Disma's sound on this album - evil, horrifying and heavy. Disma is a perfect band for fans of old school Death Metal in the vein of Incantation or anything that sounds like it was recorded while performing occult rituals.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Anatomia/Grudge/Coffins - Doomed To Death, Damned In Hell

Japanese once again prove to the world that they're among the best when it comes to metal. In this split album, 3 absolutely crushing Death/Doom metal bands present some of their best material, pounding the listener with sheer force with each note.

The album begins with Anatomia, bringing their sludgy, heavy and slightly melancholic variety of Death/Doom metal. It's reminiscent of Autopsy and a bit of Hooded Menace. The vocals are not low gutturals as implemented by Coffins or most bands from the genre, but are growls with a good range, similar to that of Chris Reifert (but nothing like them). The riffs are heavy, pulverizing Death/Doom in almost every song, except Mournful Cremation, where the band adds a strangely melancholic melody in midst of the powerful riffs the guitarist churn out. A certainly good band and worthy of being in this album.

After 5 songs of raw, suffocating power of Anatomia, the listener is treated with Grudge. The band stands apart from Coffins and Anatomia here, as they're experimental in terms of sound and songwriting and especially the vocals. The vocals are similar to Depressive Black Metal but not exactly like it. Distant moans of someone being tortured suit their music perfectly. The percussion, though not pummeling like that of Coffins, is prominent in the sound. The guitars sound more similar to early 90s Death Metal than Death/Doom.

The last part of the split album is the legendary Coffins. They sound even more evil here, than they did in Buried Death, with 2 sluggish, outrageously heavy Death/Doom tracks, and 2 faster-paced songs bordering on grindcore speeds, and equally heavy and destructive, which in turn sounds like a jackhammer pounding your face with relentless consistency. Not much needs to be said about Coffins, except that they don't disappoint and are clearly the best part of this album.

An amazing Death/Doom metal split album that needs to be checked out by each and every metal fan. This album grabs you by the feet and drags you under quicksand, choking the life out of you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ashpyx / Hooded Menace Split - Album Review

Asphyx recorded a split EP with Hooded Menace, released on 20th May 2011. A probable prequel to what the legendary band has to offer to us with Deathhammer, this split is a good 2-song EP.

The first side is Asphyx's "We Doom You To Death". The song starts out with an eerie riff that continues through most of the song. It is absolutely crushing and something that might fit on The Last One On Earth. Though it lacks the dirty, distorted sound of the aforementioned album, it doesn't take away from the crushing quality the song has. Absolutely devastating, slow to mid-paced, and menacing riff plays alongside Martin Van Drunen's equally menacing vocal delivery, and the heavy bass. Martin van Drunen's vocals never show a sign of degradation, and are the same for the past 20 years. The doom element is clear - both in the tempo and the sound of the band. The drums pound away at a rather slow pace with nice fills, and perfectly contributing to the doom atmosphere the band sets, and never unnecessarily speeding up or blasting. A very addictive song that I played over 5 times in a row.

Side B is Hooded Menace's "Abode Of The Grotesque". Which starts out with a blazing solo, transitioning into a mellow and melancholic lead, followed by the heavy rhythm guitar similar to that heard on Fulfill The Curse. The whole song relies mainly on the guitar solos which are quite remarkable, though the mellow leads do tend to drown out the crushing quality of Hooded Menace's sound. The vocals are vicious growls, and add a lot to the music during the heavier parts. This side isn't as catchy as the Asphyx side, and takes a few listens to really set in to the listener. The riffs are not very remarkable or memorable which a big downside. The song would have been better released as a single as it is a significant drop in the intensity and heaviness set by Asphyx. Nonetheless, a good song by a good band.

Overall, this is a good split and a must listen if you are a big fan of either or both of the bands.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Slugathor - Circle Of Death - Album Review

Slugathor from Finland was formed in 1999. They are considered among the newer Old School Death Metal bands. The band has released 3 full length albums and numerous EPs. Circle of Death is their second album released in 2006. The band consists of members from much older Finnish bands like Excrement and Apoplexy.

The album cover too screams Early Nineties
Unlike many Death Metal bands, Slugathor don't play a morbid, atmospheric style of Death Metal, but rather chunky, heavy and groovy style, similar to Bolt Thrower and Jungle Rot. Despite being released in 2006, Circle Of Death sounds like an album from 1992 or 1993. Like any band that plays mid-paced Death Metal, the riffs are the highlight of Slugathor's music. Infectious grooves combined with like heaviness and war-like atmosphere compel you to headbang along with the music. Bolt Thrower is an obvious influence on Slugathor, as the guitar sound and chunkiness can be mistaken for that of Bolt Thrower. The drumming is standard Death Metal. The drums provide sufficient groove and engage in blast-beats during fast section. The bass drum is loud - much louder than the snare - and that makes for a heavier sound when they play along with the riffs, and makes the groove much more evident. The bass guitar is loud enough to be audible, but doesn't play anything different from the main guitar riffs, so it doesn't stand out, and its only job is to add to the heavy sound.

Vocals are mostly indecipherable low-pitched growls, but the vocalist does throw in some variety with occasional high-pitched screams. In short, the vocals perfectly suit the music, without leaving a chance to sound redundant and repetitive. To keep the listener's interest up, Slugathor throw in some time signature and structural changes in their songs. They are very very minor, and far from sounding like technical wankery, but are noticeable. The only problem being that it sometimes causes songs to sound rather disjoint.

Some flaws apart, Circle Of Death is a very good album. Highly Recommended for fans of Bolt Thrower, Jungle Rot, etc.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Surroundings - Surroundings

Surroundings are a Hardcore/Sludge band from the United States. Not being very familiar with Hardcore, the background and history of this band is a little obscure for me. The band has come up with a split and an album.

Surroundings play an aggressive and heavy style of hardcore punk, and combine that speed and aggression with the crushing heaviness of sludge. The album consists of 11 songs, 8 of them with a typical hardcore punk song length of under two minutes, and pounding aggression and blazing grindcore-like speed, but occasionally slowing down to smash the listener with crushing heaviness. The other 3 songs, clocking over 3 minutes are, needless to say, sludge tracks. That makes Surroundings a rather short album clocking only 25 minutes. The album starts off with World Of Failure, which is a straight-to-the-face hardcore song, followed by another very short and aggressive hardcore song Virgilkapelle. Both the tracks are impossible to tell apart, and hence seem like one continuous song. The two songs are followed by a rather mid-paced, almost sludge song Harvesting Dirt, which gives the listener an idea of Surrounding's style of sludge. Unlike a lot of other sludge bands, they plays slowed-down hardcore, rather than distortion and feedback-laden, bluesy, Black Sabbath-influenced sludge/doom. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of feedback and heavy distortion involved here, but just lacks that Sabbath-like feeling.

The vocalist is consistent is churning out typical hardcore punk screams, and adds an immense amount of energy to the already energetic music heard here. Even thought the drummer doesn't stand out in terms of playing style or technique, the snare and cymbals are quite loud in the mix, which make the drums a major element in their music - adding to the heaviness and crushing quality. Overall, if you are a fan of hardcore punk or sludge, this album is a good listen. Nothing less, nothing more. Nothing stands out or is unique about this band or this album, but it definitely doesn't bore.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Autopsy - Macabre Eternal - Review

After the comeback signs in form of a demo in 2008, and an EP in 2010, the Death Metal legends are back with a massive 65-minute album that sounds fresh while retaining the old, pungent quality Autopsy was always known for. Unlike a lot of bands that aim to "return to their roots", and fail, Autopsy's comeback is a good blend of their old style and some new musical elements. With this album, Reifert & co. prove that they haven't lost their form or the creativity needed to write quality Death Metal. The long wait since 2010 really paid off because Macabre Eternal is probably the best metal album this year so far.

Reifert & co. never disappointed when it came to putting out some quality Death Metal. Be it in Abscess or in Autopsy. Macabre Eternal has all the good elements the previous albums had, with some notable new elements and slight shift in style. The doom elements have been mostly dropped, except in songs like Always About To Die and the 12-minute epic Sadistic Gratification, traded only for twisted leads and some neat mid-paced and fast riffing. Drumming is notably more precise than any of the previous albums, but the vocals are slightly weaker, but much better than Reifert did in The Tomb Within. Nonetheless, he still sounds like a psychotic killer chasing you with a knife. Eric Cutler's guitar solos sound as good as they did in Severed Survival and Mental Funeral. they bring a sense of urgency in the music. The guitar sounds massive like hell, enhanced a lot more by the bass. Don't expect a muddy sound like any of the previous albums, but these sickos keep it as dirty as they can with current production and recording techniques. Nothing needs to be said about the riffs or the basslines here. It's Autopsy, so they have to be really good, sludgy and horror-invoking. Needless to say, Reifert is a madman on the drums. As mentioned earlier, he is more precise and like on every other album, pounds them to oblivion. 

Macabre Eternal, though being an excellent album has it's flaws. One of them being the album length. 65 minutes is too long, even for Autopsy. Because of the enormous album length, the songs that don't stand out become unnoticeable, as they're mostly similar-sounding. The album takes time to grow as it is nothing like Mental Funeral or Severed Survival, but it's an Autopsy album that dares to sound different from everything else they did, while sticking to their roots. Now, that my friends is called "sticking to your roots".

A highly recommended album for Autopsy fans or Death Metal fans.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Nontinuum - Dwelling In Oceans - Review

Nontinuum is a relatively young Black Metal band that plays a very typical depressive variety of the genre. Like most bands of the genre, they have released their first demo the very year they were formed.

Dwelling In Oceans is a short, 3-song demo. Each song has little or no variety, but it certainly works for this band as they focus on minimalistic, melancholic black metal. The sound is mostly guitar-driven, although minimalistic, with drums and bass left out in the background with little or no purpose. Each song has only a few riffs spanning over a long time, but the band appropriately inserts acoustic passages, and transitions the songs to prevent boredom in the listener. The riffs create a melancholic atmosphere, and I cannot help but imagine the album cover with them playing. The guitars are quite distorted, and even though you can hear the riffs, there is a fairly audible wall of noise beneath everything, but it doesn't take anything away from the music.The vocals are typical DSBM - painful wails, but not high-pitched or annoying or ear-piercing, but rather similar to those of Totalselfhatred. The band even includes a section with annoying singing near the end of one song, but otherwise, the vocals are quite good. As mentioned before, the drums or bass are not noteworthy, as the drums play along with no variation at all and adds almost nothing to the music than adding a beat to it, yet, it fits the minimal and atmospheric nature of the music.

Nontinuum manages to create a bleak atmosphere, but lacks in other aspects, which I expect would be polished up in their future releases. This demo is a hit or miss. You may or may not like it, depending on whether you dig atmospheric Black Metal and can sit through long, minimalistic songs without getting bored.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tytan - Rough Justice - Review

Tytan is one of the many lesser known bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. They have released a single and a full-length, in 1982 and 1985 respectively, when the moment just began dying, which explains why the band did not get much recognition, which is surprising, as it consisted of Kevin Riddles from Angel Witch and Les Binks from Judas Priest (at least on this particular release).

Rough Justice is a very good Heavy Metal album, and my personal favourite album from the movement. The album places itself apart from other NWOBHM bands with its fairly mid-paced songs, cutting down on the aggression factor and going for an early Judas Priest-like sound, which makes it tend a little towards Hard Rock than Heavy Metal. The vocals are by Kal Swan, who was also the vocalist of the Glam Metal band Lion. His vocals are not over-the-top shouts, but powerful at the same time. The vocals dominate and stand out in most tracks. I could compare his vocals to quite a lot of Hard Rock vocalists. The guitar work is very unlike what you would expect from NWOBHM. It lacks the punk-like aggression of Tank and the crunchy sound of Jaguar or Raven, and the sound is cleaner, more akin to Hard Rock. Soloing is beautifully done, especially in the song The Watcher. The drumming is standard Heavy Metal, and is handled by Les Binks, so there's not much to say about it except that it is good, despite being simple. The bass is audible and crystal clear, which means the production job is very good. The pace varies with songs throughout the album. Some songs are slower, while some sped up. This makes sure each track stands out from one another.

The album is long enough to keep you entertained, has quite some variety and is slightly different from your run-of-the-mill NWOBHM band. Maybe I am praising this album way too much but it is definitely worth a try if you like digging NWOBHM or if you are a Heavy Metal/Hard Rock fan in general.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Austrasian Goat - Stains of Resignation - Album Review

The Austrasian Goat is a Black/Funeral Doom Metal project of Julien Louvet a.k.a. The Goat and has released a large number of splits and EPs and one full-length in the past. The Austrasian Goat is an effective combination of Funeral Doom and Black Metal, carefully combining the heavy, depressive sound of Funeral Doom metal with tremolo-picked, blast-beat-laden, Black Metal to create a truly depressive atmosphere rivaling even the best depressive Black Metal bands.

Stains of Resignation is the project's second full-length album, clocking at 1 hour and 4 minutes, this album is lengthy, and anyone without patience could get bored after a while. Though the only other release by The Austrasian Goat I have heard is the Void EP, I am assuming that The Goat has changed the overall sound. Yet, the album manages to keep a slow tempo and melancholic sound that doesn't rob it of the main element that made The Austrasian Goat different from most bands. Every song still manages to be different from the other. This is especially seen in songs like Voice of Aenima and Arrheton and the inclusion of Shoegaze and Noise/Drone elements in the music. Another addition appears to be clean vocals and acoustic sections, and an overall less Funeral Doom-y sound, and more inclined towards Atmospheric Black Metal.

The Shoegaze/Drone elements of the music are more noticeable, compared to the Funeral Doom elements in this album. At times, the album sounds like a Black Metal version of The Angelic Process. The riffs are distinct in the songs without these elements. The drums are a sidelined part of the music, as with most drone, except in songs that have a distinct Black Metal vibe to them. The second half of he album has nearly no Funeral Doom song, and is filled with drone-driven Black Metal. The album is bass-heavy throughout and that's where the Doom elements persists and doesn't die out completely. The vocals switch from shrieks/rasps to clean singing from song to song.

Attempting to experiment and keep up variety, The Goat came up with a rather flawed and imperfect album. Not that his previous works were perfect, but they surely did work really well. Maybe the shift in sound was not easy to digest for me, because I gave this a listen expecting some Funeral Doom, and the album might grow on me, but yet, the album is quite flawed in the attempted experimentation, but in no way fails to deliver good quality Black Metal. Stay away from this if you expect Funeral Doom Metal, but if you want some good Black Metal, do get it.

Note: The Austrasian Goat Self-titled CD is expensive to the limit of being unaffordable on
Piano and Stump Vinyl:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Vomitory - Opus Mortis VIII - Album Review

2010 and 2011 have been host to some good Metal releases. Vomitory's eighth studio album titled Opus Mortis VIII is one of them. The album was highly awaited by fans of the band and Death Metal in general. Vomitory are known to be consistent as all their previous releases have the proper blend of brutality and old-school vibe. Even though their sound doesn't change much across albums, they manage to keep it fresh with newer riffs and energetic songs. I'd dare compare them to Bolt Thrower - they are consistent, rarely change their sound, but always deliver.

The album art kicks as much ass as the album
Opus Mortis VIII is slightly different from other Vomitory albums as here they concentrate more on mid-pace riffs and drumming rather than in-your-face brutality as seen in Terrorize, Brutalize, Sodomize. They do speed up at places, but the level of brutality doesn't quite reach high enough, and is as brutal is Blood Rapture at most. But that can be ignored as brutality is just an added element of their music. The highlights of the album are the riffs. They are all over the place and cannot go unnoticed. Each riff is catchy-as-fuck and headbangable. There are breakdowns too. Yes, breakdowns as in the ones usually present in Swedish Death Metal, more closely related to "Thrash Breaks" rather than -core breakdowns. Most of songs sound like a cross between Asphyx and Slayer, and the band has apparently cut down on blast-beats and super-fast riffs, which, even though present, are scattered across the album just in few places. The riffs on Forever Damned and Combat Psychosis are especially memorable. Just listen to the break in Combat Psychosis, and tell me you weren't imagining swinging an axe towards someone's neck. The whole album is full of such moments and it doesn't get stale.

The band's overall sound has remained largely unchanged with this album - the guitars sound muddy as always, the drums reek of brutality when they blast away. Each snare shot feels like a sledgehammer and in mid-paced section, they provide a sufficient groove. The bass drums pound away all the while like no tomorrow. Erik Rundqvist does a great job on vocals. He is guttural, yet comprehensible enough. Erik's vocals lack variety, but are consistently brutal and do the job well for a bassist-vocalist. The album is bass-heavy too. That combined with the muddy guitar sound is reminiscent of some late-90s Death Metal album. It goes without saying that a dirty guitar sound with heavy bass makes for a good album. In terms of sound there is a noticeable improvement from Carnage Euphoria. The wall of trebly distortion that made the album impossible to listen to with poor quality speakers/earphones is not a big problem here as the sound is rather thick and bass-heavy, so poor people like me, who lack good hardware can rejoice.

A great release by a rather consistent band. Being one of the bands that always put out similar-sounding albums, do not expect anything new from these guys, buy if you are a Death Metal fan, Vomitory will keep you coming back for more. Get it now! Get the whole discography an you will NOT be disappointed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

10 Finnish Death Metal Albums/Demos Recommended Listening

The Death Metal scene in Finland was one of the most active scenes in the early 90s. The bands had a distinct, atmospheric sound, which made them different from Swedish Death Metal bands.
I will list some bands and album (or demos) here that should be heard by any Death Metal fan.

1. Convulse - World Without God : The album is Finnish Death Metal at its very best - heavy, crushing, and catchy at the same time. The palm muted riffs accompanied by the drum grooves with the rather low-fi production, and an atmosphere that induces imagery similar to what the album cover depicts makes a good OSDM album.

2. Demigod - Slumber Of Sullen Eyes : A band that perfectly blends atmosphere with brutality. Each song is a relentless Death Metal assault with a feeling of being in a bog/swamp surrounded by crocs that will pull you down any time. No frills Death Metal that keeps a constant pace at all times.

3. Cartilage - The Fragile Concept Of Affection (Split with Altar) : Similar to Demigod in Nature, but only a little more mellow and atmospheric, and honestly, wrote songs that are more memorable. Especially the riff at the beginning of the song "The Altar" got stuck in my head for days.

4. Abhorrence - Abhorrence EP and Vulgar Necrolatry : Both demos are crushing Finnish Death Metal with a crypt-like atmosphere and mid-paced to slow songs, but fast sections are laden with evil-sounding tremolo riffs and blast-beats. The slower sections are some of the heaviest I have heard in Death Metal, especially the ones in Vulgar Necrolatry demo.

5. Depravity - Silence of the Centuries : One of my favourite bands from Finland. Rather than relying on Heavy, palm-muted riffing, Depravity rely more on tremolo-picked riffs and successfully create a dark sound unparalleled by any Death Metal band. No, it does not have any Black Metal elements in it, so it cannot be called Blackened Death Metal, yet, the band's sound it too dark and less heavy for Death Metal.

6. Rippikoulu -  Musta Seremonia : Easily one of the heaviest bands I have heard Rippikoulu's Musta Seremonia is the second demo by the band. Though I have not heard the first demo I have been told it is even heavier and had less Doom Metal in it. Yes. Musta Seremonia is essentially a Death/Doom metal demo. The guitar tone is distorted to an extent that it cannot be heard properly unless you have good speakers/earphones, yet the bass is quite audible and adds to the heaviness. The drums, when pounding away during the fast parts, completely crush everything it their way. Highly recommended!

7. Disgrace - First 2 Demos : Like their fellow Finns, Xysma, Disgrace changed their genre a number of times, playing all from Death Metal to Punk Rock. The first 2 demos - "Beyond The Immortalized Existence" and "Inside The Labyrinth Of Depression" are straight-up murky Death Metal with a typical Finnish sound. The low, Death/Doom-like vocals really suit the band's mid-paced (and occasionally slow or fast) music. An interesting thing about them is that they don't mind making their songs sound groovy at places. That makes them interesting. The recent split with Coffins is worth checking out too.

8. Adramelech - Psychostasia : Adramelech deviated from the typical Finnish Death Metal sound and adopts a rather fast, thrashy and slightly technical sound, but that doesn't stop them from being an important Death Metal band from Finland. Psychostasia is a very good record with fast songs and memorable riffs. Another good feature is the presence of memorable solos.

9. Purtenance - Member of Immortal Damnation : Getting back to a band with the typical sound. Purtenance are another Finn Death Metal band that incorporate muddy guitar sound while being generally slow or mid-paced, but never shying away from speed and blasting. If you have already heard Abhorrence or Rippikoulu or Disgrace, you might find this band rather unremarkable, but it still deserves a listen.

10. Preprophecy - Season Of Sorrow : The band made no break-through in Death Metal, even though some elements of their music are rather unusual. They place thrashy Death Metal, slowing down at most parts, but their overall sound is very gloomy - even the fast, thrashy riffs sound more gloomy than aggressive. They also had the audacity to include clean singing vocals here and there but it doesn't sound bad, even though amateur.

11. Demilich - Nespithe : I had not added this because I had not heard it, and I regret not having heard it till now. Demilich play Death Metal similar to Demigod in many ways, but their music is a lot more complex and technical. Crazy, spiralling riffs, lengthy song names and overall epic sound make them a special band. The vocals are especially different as they are extremely guttural. A MUST HAVE! DOWNLOAD IT, IT IS A FREE ALBUM!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Brief Guide To NWOBHM (With Recommendations)

Every person into Heavy Metal knows what New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was. Even the less-informed know about it because of the movement's association with Iron Maiden. Needless to say, every person begins his/her journey to the ocean of bands and genres related to Metal with Iron Maiden.

NWOBHM is often associated with Diamond Head, Venom, Grim Reaper, Angel Witch, Raven, Motorhead, Tank and Saxon, apart from Iron Maiden, but this movement was as big as Swedish Death Metal scene in the 90s, and a lot of bands died unnoticed and are still probably unknown. I will now list some bands that you need to listen to, with a short description of their sound.

1. Tytan - My personal favourite from this movement. The band chose a less raw and aggressive sound, settling for a 70s Judas Priest-like sound, with a more Hard Rock-oriented sound than Punk-oriented, which most bands chose.
Album : Rough Justice

2. Wolf - Not to be confused with the Swedish heavy metal band with the same name. Wolf was formerly known as Black Axe and released a single called "Highway Rider". It was rough, it was raw and totally metal. Wolf's album Edge Of The World is just a follow-up, with more songs. Awesome band.
Album : Edge Of The World

3. Atomkraft - One of the earliest bands to have a much more aggressive sound. Their sound can be described as Speed/Thrash Metal, with songs like "Demolition" containing fast riffs and thrashy drumming.
Album : Anthology

4. Blind Fury - Closely Related to Satan and Angel Witch, the band was weaker compared to both the bands in terms of sound, but that doesn't change the face that they made really good Heavy Metal. Their songs are a standard fare, nothing unique, but still worth checking out.
Album : Out Of Reach

5. Tysondog - Speedy riffs akin to Raven and high register vocals. Though the band hardly qualifies as Speed Metal, it is still close to that. The drumming is continuous and not very notable, but still adds to the "fast" sound the band aims for.
Album : Beware of the Dog

I cannot think of more at the moment, but will keep updating this list.