Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ritual Necromancy - Oath Of The Abyss

Ritual Necromancy shocks nobody but pleases everyone with their full-length debut, Oath Of The Abyss.

The more and more I listen to it, the more and more tired of the OSDM revival movement I become. Some idiots go so far as to label this kind of death metal as a different genre, like "artistic death metal" or "atmospheric death metal" but that's like calling all the progenitors (the "old school") by those labels as well since their music is so goddamn similar. I am generally a forward-thinker when it comes to music, and I always love seeing what bands can put out next and what the current genres' limits can be pushed to. This old school death metal movement pushes none of those limits and leaves no room for originality, but sometimes it's just good for a fun little romp. This is where the appeal of this recent movement is, and earlier this year Disma kicked my ass with the infectious Towards The Megalith. I've got Funerus and Necrovorous on hold too. I love this stuff nearly as much as I love esoteric tech death, but it's starting to wear thin.

The majority of the bands that fit this bill are mimicking Incantation's warm, hellish, doomy death metal. Ritual Necromancy are no exception. After the semi-ambient intro "Accretion," the blasting opener "Cacophonic Dementia" rises from the depths of hell and threatens to drag you back down with it. Mid-paced riffs pound while a great bass-drum sound reverberates throughout the album. There's a few doom-influenced riffs, as is typical, that break up the fuzzy blasts, some of them are quite memorable. "The Chasm" is a good example. Not really sure why they chose to name the song after another death metal band though, but it's absolutely fitting for the earthquake-inducing music. "Desecrated Presence" is one of the better fast-paced tracks on the album. Imagine Satan tremolo picking away while demons open up a mosh pit in the bowels of a great volcano. That's pretty much what it sounds like.

The organic production really makes the fuzziness stand out. Lots of reverb, distortion, and strong bass frequencies are littered across the hellish landscape Ritual Necromancy creates on Oath Of The Abyss. There aren't very many standout riffs though, and the production really hurts their memorability. This is mostly in part to the very genre being based on the imitation of OSDM. There are a few cool standouts though. The title track has one of the more memorable outro riffs which drones on and on, in a good way. Although not the most unique combination of OSDM elements, overall Oath Of The Abyss is a fun but unmemorable listen, one that I'll be coming back to and forgetting over and over again.

6.75 out of 10


1. Accretion
2. Cacophonic Dementia
3. Descent
4. The Chasm
5. Desecrated Omnipresence
6. Penitence
7. Consummating Crypts of Eternity
8. Oath of the Abyss

Hound Of Hades - Keeper Of The Gates

A few quickies coming your way, so watch your eyes (also don't hurt your eyes with the obnoxious banner I made. The real version was a bitch to edit so I threw that one up there as a placeholder).

The three-headed beast, the gate guardian of Hades' lair, Cerberus the mythological monstrosity, is a complete pussy. Hound Of Hades is a new melodic deathcore band that reeks of being derivative (as if their logo didn't scream it loud enough). If this music embodies that dumb three-headed dog's ferocity, then I could sleepwalk into Hades lair and have more trouble getting out of bed than passing through the gates. Their debut Keeper Of The Gates is a prime display of heard time-and-again riffing, drop tuning boredom.

The redeeming qualities of this album? Well, there's a few. The first is that the musicianship here is completely competent. "Galton's Theory" opens with a flurry of hum-along melodies which is cool, but if you've even heard of deathcore or melodic death metal, you've heard this shit before. The Gothenburg melodies flow pretty effortlessly and there's plenty of solos. The second redeeming quality is the liberal hooks thrown into the tracks which kept me coming back for at least three or so listens before I got completely bored. Keeping in mind that this is deathcore, there's plenty of half-hearted breakdowns which usually lead to some sort of Gothenburg riff - see "Lens Of Truth." Ironically enough "Mantracker" begins with a sample from the overrated "comedy" film and coming-of-age-story Zombieland. It's only too fitting for this album.

5.0 out of 10


1. Galton's Theory
2. Mantracker
3. A Blessing, A Curse
4. Lens of Truth
5. In Loving Memory
6. The Most Dangerous Game
7. Prophecies
8. Keeper of the Gates

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blut Aus Nord - 777 - The Desanctification

Blut Aus Nord already has two albums in the 777 trilogy under their belt: 777 - Sect(s) and 777 - The Desanctification. The first featured dizzying guitar leads, chromatic riffing, and was interestingly coined the "spiritual sequel to The Work Which Transforms God." I don't know if I agree with that statement since The Work Which Transforms God might be my favorite Blut Aus Nord album, but Sect(s) is certainly worthy of the distinction. I posted a few months back about The Desanctification, and now that it's out, it might just be time to review it.

What an album cover. Kind of has that psychedelic cult, almost mystical vibe to it. It certainly fits the music pretty well. Knowing that this is an "experimental" Blut Aus Nord album (what else would you expect from French black metal?), this album works well as a whole. The Desanctification is naturally a continuation of Sect(s), but with a bit more atmosphere and less flashy leads. Some of the tracks are a bit long-winded and dragging, while others completely envelop you in the sound of primordial chaos.

And if this is the sound of chaos, it sounds oh-so-good. Songs like "Epitome VIII" exemplify this perfectly. There's aggressive drumming, winding riffs, interesting time signatures, and triumphant leads that all meld together over the span of six minutes. "Epitome VIII" is probably the most vocal-intensive track on The Desanctification as well, although the vocals kind of take a back seat to all of the riffing and serve as the atmospheric equivalent of a subtle synth. Not that they're programmed or fake or anything, but they really don't stand out at all. This holds true for the rest of the album as well.

If that doesn't bother you, then you may be in for a treat if you can get over the droning boredom of certain tracks. The opener contains a memorable riff that drags on for a bit too long. That's a recurring complaint throughout all of The Desanctification and one I can't forgive them for. These guys are clearly talented musicians and know how to write some unique material, but beating a riff to death in the name of atmosphere is something that irks me to no end. On another note there's some powerful dissonance on "Epitome X" and some interesting industrial sounds on "Epitome XI," although once again the latter drags a bit. The finale, "Epitome XIII" is probably the best single track on the album and the only one to really rival "Epitome VIII." The track takes all the twisting, winding riffy goodness and combines those traits with atonal chromaticism (a recurring theme for sure, but here it's done so well). It blends all the sounds explored by Blut Aus Nord perfectly. If only the rest of the album were as memorable and less boring.

7.25 out of 10
EDIT: I shouldn't review when I'm so damn tired. So many errors in this one.


1. Epitome VII
2. Epitome VII
3. Epitome IX
4. Epitome X
5. Epitome XI
6. Epitome XII
7. Epitome XIII

Monday, November 21, 2011

JEFF The Brotherhood - We Are The Champions

Man all I wanna do is play some fucking video games but all this schoolwork piled up the week before break and I haven't had time to do anything but study my ass off. And so is life. However, now that I'm back onto the review scene, I'll try to update at a regular pace.

JEFF The Brotherhood is a unique musical duo from Tennessee. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall are the masterminds behind the music, and although they're only recently bursting onto the indie rock scene, they've got quite a few limited releases under their belt stretching all the way back to 2002. On We Are The Champions, JEFF The Brotherhood combines elements of psychedelic and garage rock with punk and old school '70s and '80s heavy metal.

"Hey Friend" is the definition of the latter heavy metal style and sets high standards for JEFF's latest excursion (ironically . After all this is the type of music that JEFF The Brotherhood excels at. Going into We Are The Champions I was expecting a more cohesive doomy, psychedelic rock album. I was caught off guard when the punk beats and four-chord progression on "Cool Out" came on. The frustrated riffing and down-toned progression made the out-of-nowhere blast beat ending feel that much more appropriate. Tracks like "Bummer," "Diamond Way," and to an extent "Wastoid Girl" however are much more low-intensity and reminiscent of older Weezer. These tracks are more dull, less inspired, and honestly dripping with insipidity. I've always hated Weezer and their ilk for that reason.

There are a few more gems on We Are The Champions though. "Shredder" is a personal favorite, combining punk-esque rhythms with schizoid guitars. "Ripper" brings back that classic heavy metal and psychedelic rock sound, with trippy sounds, structures, and noise lacing slow doomy riffs. The whole album is in fact layered with a degree of fuzz and noise. In fact if there's one word I'd use to describe We Are The Champions it would be "FUZZY." The album is noisy, not too heavy, and caked in effects, like early heavy metal. Although technically indie rock, the punk and heavy metal influence leads to an easy, and relaxed, listening experience that has some redeeming features despite the more derivative tracks.

7.0 out of 10

1.  Hey Friend
2.  Cool Out
3.  Bummer
4.  Shredder
5.  Diamond Way
6.  Endless Fire
7.  Ripper
8.  Mellow Out
9.  Stay Up Late
10. Health and Strength
11. Wastoid Girl

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Insain - Spiritual Rebirth

Derivative logo fonts aside, France's Insain plays some mean, compressed, and altogether predictable death metal. However even though it covers similar territory, that doesn't keep it from being a fun, brutal romp. As a sucker for brutal death metal - all kinds from slam to technical - I was addicted to this for a few days, often getting some of better pit riffs stuck in my head.

Insain's debut Spiritual Rebirth is an exercise in modern death metal brutality. You've got your Suffocation-inspired riffing with a few sparks of Origin's instrument finesse. As I mentioned before, this album is heavy on typical brutal death metal pit riffing. There's plenty of hammerblasts, D-beats, and surprisingly melodic leads which will have you wanting to start a pit right there. Throw in some breakdowns (brutal death breakdowns. Get your mind out of the gutter) and you have yourself a winner. There's also quite a few instances where the vocalist will spew out line after line of gut-disemboweling rhetoric in a speedy fashion similar to Francesco Paoli from Hour Of Penance or Julien Truchan of fellow French band Benighted. The title track is a prime example of this. There's a few gurgling and squealing bits which should appease fans of brutal death(core), slam, and grind as well.

I have two big issues with the album though, and the first is the more obvious. "Well you basically just described the majority of brutal death metal." Spiritual Rebirth is pretty much an entirely derivative venture, yes, but it has a few redeeming qualities. First is that the songs are memorable, and second is that they combine many of the more interesting elements of other artists' music in a way that is relatively seamless. My second big gripe with Spiritual Rebirth is that although the songs are so instantly memorable, the album wears thin quickly. The compressed mid-range-heavy production just exacerbates the issue, and I had a similar issue with Origin's latest. However this is a debut album, and I understand it takes some time to develop a unique sound. Often enough new artists in metal only get signed because they sound like someone else.

If you understand these two big issues going into Insain's debut, you're in for a good time. The pit riffs on "Prophet" are monstrous and addictive, the vocals on the title track, "Inquisitor," and "Angel Of Pain" are frenzied aggression, and the bends on "Dying Mind" are fun. The latter half of the album is samey and definitely drags a bit at times, but that doesn't stop Insain's momentum which remains at breakneck speed throughout all of Spiritual Rebirth.

6.75 out of 10

1. Black as Your Light
2. Me & I
3. Inquisitor
4. Spiritual Rebirth
5. Corpse Before Death
6. Prophet
7. Dying Mind
8. Worthless
9. Angel of Pain
10. Ethereal Enemy
11. Back Into the Wild

Monday, November 7, 2011

Altar Of Plagues - Mammal

Pretentious titles aside, I'm sure by now some of you have heard of Altar Of Plagues, a premier black metal band of the "Cascadian" (post) variety. Their previous release White Tomb is merely an exercise in the style, while Mammal nearly perfects it. I feel like a track by track review is appropriate for this album, so I'll briefly cover each.

Oceanic. This word is often applied to post metal or post rock bands with an immense, layered sound. One that is often tranquil and peaceful, yet reminiscent and emotional. Mammal is an album of oceanic proportions, but this ocean is turbulent, brooding, dark, and filled with the souls of all living things. The eighteen-minute opener "Neptune Is Dead" exemplifies these aspects perfectly and with a finesse many of the more aggressive cascadian black metal bands lack. Overarching guitar leads swirl while dense, droning riffs drag you into the depths of the sea Altar Of Plagues creates. "Neptune Is Dead" also has the classic post metal "feel" to it, where the song builds to various climaxes throughout all eighteen minutes, and in my opinion it is the best song Altar Of Plagues has ever composed.

"Feather And Bone" is a bit less subtle and a bit more relentless. Pounding double bass, immense effects, and a layered sound keep that "oceanic" vibe going strong. Dave Condon's tormented cries mix perfectly with the track as it builds, climaxes, and rebuilds again. The feeling is recurring throughout Mammal - you aren't going to escape from the depths anytime soon. "When The Sun Drowns In The Ocean" however is a bit more forgiving, and is ultimately kind of boring because of it. It's got a bit of noise, drone, and ambient mixed together with an operatic female-vocal intro and a (what I presume is a sample) chanting outro. However none of it really felt compelling and I find myself skipping over the track when I just wanna hear intense cascadian black metal, which is most of the time. Ambient tracks are a one-off for me. If they're gonna be there, they gotta comprise the whole album for me to enjoy it.

"All Life Converges To Some Centre" is the emotional conclusion to all of this, and it peaks with plenty of aggression. The last few minutes are more of an outro than anything, as distortion, reverb, and a simple noise-filled riff converge unto the end of the album. Quite a powerful outro if I may say so myself.

8.0 out of 10


1. Neptune is Dead

2. Feather and Bone

3. When the Sun Drowns in the Ocean

4. All Life Converges to Some Centre

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chelsea Wolfe - Apokalypsis

I'm generally not too fond of female vocalists. They're either a little too twangy, a little too whiny, or just all-around grating on my ears. There are a few exceptions to the rule, and I'm not talking about lame dude-growl sounding vocals like those done by the abomination in Arch Enemy, or obnoxious symphonic trash like Nightwish.

Chelsea Wolfe is one of the exceptions to the female vocalist rule. Soulful and dark, twisted yet refined, each of her songs combines elements of doom, folk, alternative, indie, and ambient rock. As the primary songwriter and singer, Chelsea Wolfe really contributes 110% on Apokalypsis. Wolfe begins the album with possessed growling on "Primal/Carnal" which shortly after transforms into "Mer," perhaps the most hook-laden track on the album. Each track follows a generally doom-esque chord progression. Distortion blurs Wolfe's voice, guitars, and the ambient noise into a sonic venture into the deep and forgotten recesses of the nature.

As a singer/songwriter, Wolfe's vocals are by far the biggest highlight on Apokalypsis. Her droning guitarwork sets the atmosphere and is a working backdrop for her winding vocal delivery. What impresses me the most is that her vocals never grate, nor do they reach melodic highs. Although they're somewhat gothic in nature, the vocals and atmosphere really work hand-in-hand to create a strong theme for the album. I often find myself humming along to the more catchy tracks on the album, like "Tracks (Tall Bodies)," "Mer," "Friedrichshain," and "Demons." However there are a few more ambient tracks on the album which in my opinion are not as enjoyable. "To The Forest, Towards The Sea" is a relatively pointless ambient outro, and "Movie Screen" is pretty dull as well. Tracks like "Moses" and "Pale on Pale" grew on me after listening a few times. Slower songs like these tend to need the room to grow a bit.

I feel like I'm cutting Chelsea Wolfe some slack solely because it's a female-fronted act that I enjoy, but when I really listen to the music there's a lot of emotion despite the semi-gothic delivery and atmosphere. Usually stuff like that falls flat on it's face, but here it's authentic, austere, and catchy. Best of all is that Apokalypsis has got a degree of heaviness to the music, which naturally as a big fan of metal and psychedelic rock appeals to me.

7.5 out of 10

Although simple, this album has a lot of re-spin value.


1. Primal / Carnal
2. Mer
3. Tracks (Tall Bodies)
4. Demons
5. Movie Screen
6. The Wasteland
7. Moses
8. Friedrichshain
9. Pale On Pale
10. To The Forest, Towards The Sea

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Monumental Torment - Element Of chaos

Two things that Monumental Torment is devoid of.

One of the most overbearingly stupid albums of 2011, Monumental Torment burst onto the technical death metal scene with their debut album Element Of Chaos. Ironically enough they broke up shortly afterwards, and certainly not to my dismay. Monumental Torment seems to be of that brand of technical death metal: the kind that is devoid of low-end, lacks brutality, and is filled with frenzied noodling and pointless sweeping. It's a first-class exercise in guitar douchery and the whole album feels like an attempt at appealing to teenagers with ADD rather than discriminating fans of metal.

Being overly harsh on this blue turdstain of an album? Not in the slightest. This abomination is everything wrong with technical death metal today. The electronic drumkit and the obnoxious lack of low-end on the bass and bass drum really kills any sort of aggression. Similar to Brain Drill, there's buttloads of predictable blastbeats and "off" rhythms that I'm sure the band thought were classy showcases of their supposed talent. The bassist's dry tone is really apparent in the few emotionless solos he plays. Throw in an overabundance of sweeps (even piano arpeggios!), like those found on the throwaway tracks "Lethargic Sleep" and "Mental Slavery," and suddenly Element Of Chaos feels like it should have "TRYING TOO HARD" stenciled on it in big, blocky hXc scene letters. If you're looking for virtuosic talent, look elsewhere because Element Of Chaos will beat you over the head with its blatant disregard for decent songwriting.

The good part about riff salad is that there's always a few pieces worth ingesting. This album has a few notable standout riffs, like the outro on the aforementioned "Mental Slavery." There's a few semi-interesting tapping solos, and the song "Paradox" is actually listenable. The title track is the definition of obnoxious, and the band decided to take the never-done-before path and include an ambient outro. Go figure. I guess I shouldn't have been expecting too much considering their Oppression Submission demo was pretty subpar and included the three forgettable tracks "Millenium Of Death," "Oppression Submission," and that annoying-as-sin "Lethargic Sleep." Oh well. We can't all be winners.

2.0 out of 10

You're better off listening to Archspire, or just about anything else that came out in 2011.

1. Nameless One

2. Slaughter House

3. Lethargic Sleep

4. Mental Slavery

5. Oppression Submission

6. Seek to Destroy

7. Paradox

8. Millenium of Death

9. Element of Chaos

10. Last Voice of Future

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Septicflesh - The Great Mass

Also known as Septic Flesh's newest release. I believe their name is now one word too, so I'll be calling them Septicflesh from now on.

The Great Mass released this year to a surprisingly warm critical reception. Fans of the band seem to be a bit more conflicted. Some cry "Masterpiece" while others condemn it for losing the death metal element that made the band great. However for me, just one word comes to mind upon listening to The Great Mass: mediocrity.

Here you have a Septicflesh that, similarly to the oft-compared to Opeth (never got those comparisons, but whatever), doesn't know where to go. Septicflesh is a band that thrives on melody and a degree of subtlety that's always been about balancing the more flamboyant symphonic aspect with the thick, death metal guitars. Sumerian Daemons was a prime example of this balance in my opinion. However this album throws that balance way off, and shows Septicflesh falling from the tightrope into a crocodile-filled pit where the second group of fans are the crocodiles unwilling to accept the change.

I'm somewhere in the middle on this album. I applaud Septicflesh for trying to find their niche as a symphonic "death" metal band, but the symphonic elements on this album are just TOO much. They remind me of the worst parts of Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth, just with deeper vocals and slightly heavier guitars. The fruity symphonic elements annihilate the pounding drums and riffs that occasionally reach prominence on tracks like "Rising" and "Five-Pointed Star." However the rest of the tracks, like "Pyramid God" and "A Great Mass Of Death" are overwhelmingly symphonic. Apparently they thought power metal and forgettable symphonics would mix well on "Therianthropy" but it just makes me snarf. At least all the symphonic elements sound like they were performed by a real orchestra. It might be because they actually were. It's cool that they got those guys from Communion to work with them again.

Now there aren't many bands that can pull off symphonic death metal. It's a subgenre that frankly shouldn't exist, and even though Septicflesh has teetered on the brink of "fruitality" for awhile, this is the album that really pushed them over the edge.

5.0 out of 10

1. The Vampire From Nazareth

2. A Great Mass of Death

3. Pyramid God

4. Five-Pointed Star

5. Oceans of Grey

6. The Undead Keep Dreaming

7. Rising

8. Apocalypse

9. Mad Architect

10. Therianthropy

Disma - Towards The Megalith

Posting will now be on a when-I-can basis. However, that doesn't mean I'm giving up just yet! I'm gonna try to redo the banner and some other stuff sometime this week to make it more fitting. And maybe get some dropdown bars working for the reviews so I don't have to have such cluttered sidebars...

Disma is an interesting old-school death metal band that really garnered a lot of attention in 2011 with their most recent release, Towards The Megalith. As Disma's first full-length, it's quite an impressive combination of reverb-filled brutality and suffocatingly heavy doom riffs.

The OSDM scene has really gotten a lot of attention as a reactionary movement to the whole technical death scene which itself has fractured into many splinter movements. Disma is a new face amongst the plethora of bands spearheading the OSDM movement, and likely they'll be mentioned alongside modern classics like Funebrarum and Blaspherian. This album has all the trademarks: heavy as fuck riffing, guttural vocals, and the production quality one would associate with old-school death metal.

As most old-school death metal is, Towards The Megalith is a riff based monstrosity of an album. There's plenty of memorable chug-along riffs in the opener "Chaos Apparition" and my favorite of the album, "Spectral Domination." There's also quite a few tempo changes which keep the sometimes long-winded songs from getting stale. "Lost In The Burial Fog" is a prime example here, and the track remains interesting throughout despite visiting similar patterns and structures explored on the other tracks. There are some weak links though, and the middle of the album does drag quite a bit. "Vault of Membros" almost treads into funeral doom territory with it's plodding pace and the absolutely abyssal vocal approach. "Purulent Quest" on the other hand is a completely forgettable track that really serves no right to be on the album.

Although Towards The Megalith is generally a derivative venture, it's overall a great one and easily one of the highlights for OSDM this year. Definitely worth checking out if you're into that stuff.

8.5 out of 10

1. Chaos Apparition

2. Chasm of Oceanus

3. Spectral Domination

4. Vault of Membros

5. Purulent Quest

6. Lost in the Burial Fog

7. Of a Past Forlorn

8. Towards the Megalith