Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Deceased - Surreal Overdose


Drugs are fun. If you disagree or are one of those militant straightedge dipshits (like those people who go out of their way to prove it to others), then get the hell out. Luckily most people aren't like this, straightedge or otherwise - and they shouldn't discount trying Deceased's Surreal Overdose. As a band that's been around since '85, these guys are lucky to have a sound that still hasn't aged. They take death/thrash and inject a bit of horror into the mold, and it was great on their 2011 release.

The music on Surreal Overdose is pretty seamless with the thrash side of things taking dominance, especially on pit-stompers "Off-Kilter," "Kindred Assembly," and "The Traumatic." Like a healthy take of hallucinogens, each track slowly evolves into something pleasingly different as they bounce along. The bass is extremely prominent and plods along to every riff, each passage being speedy as thrash tends to be. The solos are also another highlight but not in the traditional sense. They don't stand out, but they compliment the tracks perfectly and add another layer to the mix.

Surreal Overdose is a big helping of fast-paced enjoyment. Other than the vocals there's not much to complain about, and even then the vocals are relatively easy to get used to. They're somewhere in the awkward range of not being guttural or gritty enough to be death metal and not being as melodic or as shouty as thrash metal. Another minor complaint is that "Skin Crawling Progress" while a great opener is a bit overlong, and "Dying In Analog" seems a bit overlong at times, but it unlike the former it does a good job of concluding the album. I have no complaints otherwise about Surreal Overdose that shows these oldbies still got a lot of life left.

8.0 out of 10


Tracklisting:

1. Skin Crawling Progress

2. Kindred Assembly

3. The Traumatic

4. Cloned (Day of the Robot)

5. Off-Kilter

6. In the Laboratory of Joyous Gloom

7. A Doom-Laden Aura

8. Dying in Analog

buh-leted

Encoffination - O' Hell, Shine In Thy White Sepulchres

Fuck this week. Still. At least it's finally snowing.


Doom is a great form of metal. It embodies all the 'darker' and 'muted' emotions, ranging from fear to despair. Death on the other hand embodies all of the more vibrant mindstates like rage, intensity, and passion. Combine the two and you get a frolicking gloom that expands to encompass all that you know. Riffs swirl to convoke demons or consecrate corrupted mausoleums, while ceremonious drumming brings horrors forth from dimensions far beyond human understanding. The sound is massive and thunderous like the roar of a behemoth crawling through the darkness. That's what listening to Incantation or Funebrarum is like, and it's the sound Encoffination wishes they had.

They do an alright job of mimicking the style on O' Hell, Shine In Thy White Sepulchres though. As an album I've put off reviewing for quite awhile, I feel like it's had ample time to grow on me. Initially I found the cavernous riffing to be a bit trite and uninspired, but now I just find them boring. The funeral procession begins strong with the entrance of the corpse on "Rites Of Ceremonial Embalm'ment," but the embalmer clearly had no idea what he was doing because the corpse continues to decay on later tracks, leaving nothing but the empty shell of a sound. There are some great uses of bells to administer a healthy dose of atmosphere on tracks like "Elegant In Their Funebrial Cloaks, Arisen," and the chants on "Pall Of Unrequited Blood" give way to some of the best riffs and grooves on the album. However for the most part, this is a funeral you'll want to get through quick and easy.

That won't happen since the pacing is as slow is molasses on O' Hell. With tempos set to 'off' tracks like "Washed And Buried" and "Ritual Until Blood" crawl along like watching bacteria rot out a skull. It's not a pretty sight, and it's not very fun to listen to either. Riffs are droning-level boring and make you want them over with quickly. The production is also relatively bassy if just fitting for this style of death doom. I can definitely give the album a definitive nod in the atmosphere department though - it just goes to show that atmosphere can't make an album.

6.5 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Sacrum Profanum Processionali

2. Rites of Ceremonial Embalm’ment

3. Ritual Until Blood

4. Elegant in Their Funebrial Cloaks, Arisen

5. Crypt of His Communal Devourment

6. Washed and Buried

7. Pall of Unrequited Blood

8. Annunciation of the Viscera

Monday, February 27, 2012

Asphyx - Deathhammer

Another quickie to celebrate as I just finished my paper: Asphyx's Deathhammer.


Asphyx is a longstanding death metal band from the Netherlands that produced the classic Last One On Earth. Despite being signed to Century Media, the production on Deathhammer seems adequate if a bit compressed. The doomier elements of Asphyx's sound are expressed on tracks like "Minefield" and "As the Magma Mammoth Kisses" and the more Swedish death metal-sounding tracks like "Of Days When Blades Turned Blunt" and the title track are fun, simple old-school romps. Deathhammer does have the modern death metal sound underneath all the effects though, which is kind of alienating for older fans. If you liked the sound on Sonne Adam's Transformation and the typical Swedish death metal sound, then you'll probably like this. However if you're expecting the next great death metal release or even an outstanding throwback album, you're not going to find it here.

7.25 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Into the Timewastes
 
2. Deathhammer
 
3. Minefield
 
4. Of Days When Blades Turned Blunt
 
5. Der Landser

6. Reign of the Brute

7. The Flood

8. We Doom You to Death
 
9. Vespa Crabro
 
10. As the Magma Mammoth Rises
 
11. Death the Brutal Way [7" Version, 2008]
 
12. Os Abysmi Vel Daath [Celtic Frost cover, 7" 2008]

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Son Of Aurelius - The Farthest Reaches

I'm really busy as of late. I went to Boston with the girlfriend, grabbed All Pigs Must Die's EP on vinyl, heard about the vinyl repressing being done for Mitochondrion's Archaeaeon and promptly cried since I may not be able to afford the limited Gold Edition anytime soon since I've been spending so much money. I've also been extremely busy with schoolwork. I have three exams in difficult computer science and math classes coming up this week, and while I'm writing this I'm working on finishing a paper about a subject for my easy-mode PoliSci course that is so pointless to address since it's in discussions everywhere, everyday: gay marriage. I'm a page and a half in. Only five more to go and it's almost 1AM...

Anyway I present to you my new quickie format. One paragraph and a score for an album I've stumbled across and don't have time to properly review.


So the first of this series is melodic tech-prog metallers Son Of Aurelius on their debut The Farthest Reaches, with it's bright and flamboyant album cover. It does a great job of expressing the flowery music contained within. Here we have pretty stereotypical tech-prog performed by very young musicians - in other words it's every bit as colorful and zesty as the album cover. That's not really a means of bashing them as tech-prog isn't a simple genre to succeed in, and they deliver the goods when it comes to this subgenre. These guys clearly have talent and they display it copiously on tracks like "Facing The Gorgon," "The Fist, The Serpent," and "A Good Death." There's loads of soloing, plenty of arpeggios, and harmonized twin guitars not unlike many melodic death metal bands. There's not much in the way of brutality on The Farthest Reaches though, so don't go in expecting much there and the production and light guitars won't aggravate. Plus while nothing here is wholly original, it's all executed relatively well by a band that has plenty of time to improve their songwriting talents which are admittedly lacking at this stage but not offensively bad. Definitely a band to watch for in the tech-prog scene.

6.75 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Mercy For Today

2. Let Them Hate and Fear

3. The Farthest Reaches

4. Olympus is Forgotten

5. Facing the Gorgon

6. Pandora's Burden

7. A Champion Reborn

8. Mycordial Infarction

9. The Calm

10. A Good Death

11.   The First, the Serpent 











Link removed at request of the band.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Drudkh - Eternal Turn Of The Wheel

Eternal Turn Of The Wheel is Drudkh's touted return to form after the mediocre-bad Handful Of Stars. When an album is supposedly a "return to form" I guess the main goal is to never get your hopes up because no matter what the band produces it'll be a shadow of their former self. Is that the case with Drudkh's Eternal Turn Of The Wheel? Kind of.


Here we have Drudkh's ninth full-length in nine years starting in 2003. They've released an album just about every year (minus 2008 and 2011), and the first seven were relatively consistent with a few marked dips in quality, their lowest point being Handful Of Stars. However Eternal Turn Of The Wheel is supposedly a return to former glories like Autumn Aurora and Blood In Our Wells, which saw Drudkh creating atmospherically dense folksy black metal. Eternal Turn Of The Wheel capitalizes on this with an enchanting bleakness that the last few albums lacked (yes, even Microcosmos which I enjoyed).

The re-found atmosphere is as dense as ever. Like walking in a snowstorm, these guys really blanket you in some cold-as-fuck riffs. "Breath Of Cold Black Soil" is a strong opener with its tremolo riffing and subtle keyboards. Thurios' vocals are a bit more prominent this time around throughout the entirety of Eternal Turn Of The Wheel, but the riffing carries most of the weight of the music. The outro riff on "Night Woven of Snow, Winds and Grey-Haired Stars" is particularly powerful, and the Thurios' vocalwork is pained greatness throughout the track.

Not all the tracks are particularly amazing though and on an album of five that's saying something. "When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls" is passable at best with it's constant blasting and dominant keyboards. It has a strong outro at least. I just fucking hate dominating keyboards. As for the production, I'm kind of impressed. Eternal Turn Of The Wheel has a pretty solid bass tone that adds texture to the often overly-simple black metal riffing.

I know I've mostly praised the album, but something about Drudkh's formula is getting stale for me. This album is somewhat of a delivery on the promise of "a return to form." However I don't know if that form is something I find very appealing anymore. I've heard it done before and better by the same band not to mention others, and I found the whole of Eternal Turn Of The Wheel predictable. Is it acceptable? Yes. Is it really special? No. This wheel certainly can't turn forever.

6.25 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Eternal Circle
 
2. Breath of Cold Black Soil
 
3. When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls
 
4. Farewell to Autumn's Sorrowful Birds
 
5. Night Woven of Snow, Winds and Grey-Haired Stars

Monday, February 20, 2012

Abyssal - Denouement

I came across Abyssal's Denouement through word of a friend (that dude over at Curse Of The Great White Elephant prior to his post about the album), and subsequently I saw blogs light up with posts relating the greatness of the album. Some people labeled the album militaristic black/death similar Mitochondrion or Adversarial while others compared Denouement to more esoteric acts like Impetuous Ritual, Flourishing, and Ulcerate. I love all of those bands so I decided to toss out the idea of comparing these guys to them and decided to listen to them for what they are.


And they are indeed fucking awesome. If anything it assured me that Denouement is an early contender for album of the year.

Creeping cold. Cover the windows. Huddle up next to the candle for warmth as the frost begins to overtake your body and soul. That's what listening to Denouement feels like. The elements of black metal are refreshing and add a dense layer of foreboding, natural atmosphere that makes Denouement feel tormented and very human. The organic aspect of the album is fantastic, and when the tracks crescendo like at the end of album intro "The Moss Upon Our Ruins," it feels empowering with respect to the bleak aesthetic present throughout Denouement.

Musically speaking the album features technically proficient instrumentation with densely layered textures and dynamic song structures. If this doesn't sound appealing to you, then you're probably reading the wrong blog. I love this shit. Dynamics are something I can't get enough of in music and nothing irritates me more than stale, predictable structures with stale, predictable riffing. Denouement features neither, and each track grows in numerous ways. Some of the later tracks, in particular the album closer "Swansong Of A Dying Race" get a bit predictable, but for the most part each track is a breath of fresh air. "When Paradigms Supplant Gods" has a few interesting chromaticisms despite being a bit overlong, and "Detritivore" is a chugging, atmospheric ballad that reaches a glorious exposition.

There are times where I find myself reveling in the brutality of the track as well. "Celestial Dictatorship" is a good example with it's mid-paced riffing and ultra-fast drumming, while halfway through "Deus Vult" is what I would consider the apex of brutality on Denouement. I can definitely hear how the drums would come off as militaristic and somewhat over the top in the mix. However as a sucker for rhythm instruments (drums, bass) I'm totally okay with that. I did call Adversarial's All Idols Fall Before The Hammer my album of the year 2010 after all. My biggest complaint with the production is that the bass doesn't shine through as often as I would like it to. I feel like bass guitar as an instrument could add a lot to further texture what is already a really dense release. Otherwise the instrumentation is relatively technical and the production is fine.

Some of the tracks do in fact sound very influenced by French black metal ("Deus Vult," "When Paradigms Supplant Gods") and you can hear the obvious influences from other bands, but for the most part Abyssal does a great job of distinguishing themselves by combining these elements effortlessly and fluently, creating a cohesive black/death monstrosity with Denouement.

9.0 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. The Moss Upon Our Ruins
 
2. Celestial Dictatorship
 
3. Deus Vult
 
4. Detritivore
 
5. When Paradigms Supplant Gods
 
6. Swansong of a Dying Race

the cold embrace of death (bandcamp, it's free!)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Abominable Putridity - The Anomalies Of Artificial Origin

Yeah I know it's not Sunday anymore but I had half of this shit written on Sunday. Passed out before I finished it, so don't take the blockers off yet!


Now onto Abominable Putridity's 2012 release, The Anomalies Of Artificial Origin. In the past five (more like four) years Abominable Putridity went through a few lineup changes, had a flirtation with Big Chocolate, and decided to amp up the technicality, amounting in this new release being a little different than its oft-hated predecessor.

The technicality on The Anomalies is more in the vein of master noodlers Brain Drill and Necrophagist as opposed to the more atmospherically-oriented tech out there. It's fast, arpeggio-based, and very, very annoying. I can't seem to come to terms with it. Opener "A Burial For The Abandoned" is ruined by this senseless wankery. Luckily it's the most flamboyant and obvious of the new-style tracks on the entirety of The Anomalies. The slams were left intact and are as skull-bludgeoning as ever. "Lack Of Oxygen" quickly devolves into a brutal slam rut and "Wormhole Inversion" has one of the better rhythm-bending slams present on the album. "The Last Communion" features a pit-monster of a slam in the first minute which proceeds to give way to groovy technicality without the wank, making it my favorite track on The Anomalies. This track is how I wish the rest of the album was.

I guess one of the benefits of having improved instrumentally is that the riffing between slams has grown to be somewhat interesting as opposed to filler. However for the most part Abominable Putridity will ruin these sections with a seemingly random arpeggiation. The worst is on "Remnants Of The Tortured," which has a cool mosh riff that could be easily tweaked as it breaks into the main slam, but instead is littered with noodling.

The production is significantly cleaner and more mechanical sounding on The Anomalies Of Artificial Origin. It brings out the more precise instrumentation, but really drops the brutality of the slams by a notch. If the idea of semi-techwank slam death is appealing to you then you should take The Anomalies over In The End Of Human Existence, but I definitely wouldn't.

6.0 out of 10


Tracklisting:

1. Remnants of the Tortured

2. A Massacre in the North

3. Letting Them Fall...

4. A Burial for the Abandoned

5. Lack of Oxygen
 
6. Wormhole Inversion
 
7. The Anomalies of Artificial Origin
 
8. The Last Communion

Abominable Putridity - In The End Of Human Existence

Break out your hater blockers and start struttin' because I'm about to review wigger-slam heroes Abominable Putridity on both of their full-lengths. If you know anything about slam death metal, you know it gets a lot of hate. In fact YOU probably hate it. I'm here to tell you that you're fucking retarded if you do. Slam death metal is groove at it's most brutal and is often rhythmically complex despite featuring some really stupid-heavy riffs.


Abominable Putridity capitalizes on this on their first full-length In The End Of Human Existence (alternative art here). The album sits at a glorious 32% on Metal Archives, which I find humorous. Everything about the album is brutal, rhythmic fun that gets stuck in your head. Sure, there's no atmosphere. Sure, there's no real dynamics. Sure, the songs eventually reach a degree of monotony, but if you're focusing on these points you're missing the point of the album: to be as stupidly brutal as possible.

And in that regard, In The End Of Human Existence succeeds.

Each track is like a sledgehammer to your skull. "Blindfold Surgery," "Skin Removal," "Throat Fisting Abortion," and my favorite "Sphacelated Nerves" crush bone and rend flesh with their intense slam riffing and the incessant hammering of the loose snare.  These tracks all feature slam riffs often enough to be considered three-minute-minute slams, while others like "Victims Stuffed With Nails" and "Intestinal Putrefaction" take a more speedy brutal death metal approach. Most of the time the pace remains at slam levels of medium though, and that's perfectly fine.

The production on In The End OF Human Existence is fittingly gritty and dense, and the loose snare really gives certain slams that extra oomph. Instrumentally these guys aren't given nearly enough credit either, as each track is often significantly more complex than it sounds at first. There's a lot of time signature changes, rests (see: "Intestinal Putrefaction"), and pseudo-technical riffing present that keep Abominable Putridity from reaching Emmurecore levels of monotony.

Now that's not to say the album is unabashedly wholesome fun. The lack of dynamics makes it a very periodic listen and the fact the album has no real atmosphere to it makes it a great listen when bro-ing out or at the gym and nothing more. However that's all In The End Of Human Existence needs to be a decent album in my eyes.

7.0 out of 10
Tracklisting:

1. Intracranial Parasite
 
2. Entrails Full of Vermin
 
3. Blindfold Surgery
 
4. Skin Removal
 
5. Dissected from Within
 
6. Throat Fisting Abortion
 
7. Intestinal Putrefaction
 
8. Victims Stuffed with Nails
 
9. Sphacelated Nerves
 
10.   In the End of Human Existence

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Charon - Sulphur Seraph

Germany's Charon are a grim duet featuring the vocalist for Hatespawn (who did an awesome split with Dead Congregation which I own) and another dude who does all the instruments. Unlike the awful Finnish Charon these guys play intense black metal with abundant thrash elements. There's plenty of great solos, technical riffing, and a few times a semblance of death metal brutality. With all this good shit present it's hard not to say Sulphur Seraph (The Archon Principle) is one of 2012's stronger releases thus far.


Charon is no atmospheric slouch. They exhume a sense of creeping darkness throughout Sulphur Seraph. Drenched in reverb, tracks like "Key To Nowhere - The Absolute" rip into flesh with eerie tones and a cult-like vocal track. "Solution... Averse... Tenebrous... Answer - Nothingness" is a long descent into the depths of hell and features some of the more doom and death metal-influenced riffing, along with my favorite track "Flagellum Horribils (Trident Lash)," on Sulphur Seraph. The blend of styles is really apparent on these two tracks. In general Charon does remind me of a more black and less brutal sounding Scythian, which is a good thing in that Scythian is awesome, and a bad thing in that it makes Charon feel less inventive.

Whatever the case, Sulphur Seraph is worth a listen. I do have a few gripes with the different vocal distortions on here though. Other than the clean cult shouts, there's the occasional echo effect and that really lame Dimmu Borgir-sounding whisper distortion present on "Ambassador Of Bonds." I hate the shit out of that. It sounds stupid and takes me from the state of immersed and puts me in the state of annoyed. The production in general is as I said reverb-filled and as ready for this kind of music as it gets, and all the instrumentation is proficient enough. There's definately a few, noticeable pseudo-technical thrash riffs amongst the densely textured black metal atmosphere.

I keep comparing them to Scythian in my head. Charon isn't as fluid, technical, or for lack of a better word, brutal. However if you're looking for some semi-raw, intense black/death/thrash, Sulphur Seraph will tide you over.

7.5 out of 10


Tracklisting:

1.
 
2. Sulphur Seraph (The Archon Principle)

3. Flagellum Horribils (Trident Lash)

4. Ambassador of Bonds

5. Thy Weapon

6. Key to Nowhere - The Absolute

7. Solution... Averse... Tenebrous... Answer: Nothingness

8. ‡‡

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Artificial Brain - Demo

Running out of creative titles here, not that the other posts' titles before this were very creative to begin with. This time I've got a demo for you. In my opinion it's easily the best demo of 2011 and it's by a band featuring members of Revocation, Biolich, and Cyanide Breed. That's a pretty sick lineup and the Revocation and Biolich sounds are obviously present. I haven't listened to the deceased Cyanide Breed's only full-length release so I can't say if their sound is in here, but I could see it if Metal Archives is correct in calling them progressive death metal.


Don't get the wrong idea about Artificial Brain though. The music contained on this demo is anything but flamboyant Dream Theater self-indulgencies and is instead blisteringly frenzied and bizarre technical death metal in the vein of the bands the members are from.

"Tongues" rips into existence with a harmonized tremolo riff. These occasional segments are the only black metal influence you'll hear on the demo aside from the occasional rasp, and as the tremolo part ends on "Tongues," Will Smith's (is that really his name?) guttural vocals take over the mix. I'm really impressed by the clarity of the instruments and vocals. The mixing on the demo is fantastic and allows for all the subtleties and nuances of technical instrumentation to shine through. Odd rhythms and time signatures add another layer to the sound on here, and they're really noticeable on "Spacid." The drumming in particular is excellently done, and Keith Abrami's work is highly skilled. The riffing on "Spacid" is a bit less exuberant and exciting than the other two tracks, but it's a rhythm-dominated track, and the bass is well-performed on here as well. "Lightwaves Birthing Ages" opens with a flurry of guitar intensity courtesy of Dan Gargiulo. Multiple vocal tracks work wonders on the ears as their timbres weave dense textures around the riffing. The solo builds the track up and it collapses into a colossal, melodic drone riff that echoes out the end of the demo.

The production and mixing really blew me away for a demo, and although it is kind of silly to put that much emphasis on it, the production is clearly better than most full-length albums by established bands (especially in technical death metal). These guys know how to compose excellent death metal and each track builds to some sort of exposition or follows the sort of linearity that I absolutely adore in bands like Flourishing. I'm really pumped to hear a full-length.

8.75 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Tongues
 
2. Spacid
 
3. Lightwaves Birthing Ages

Bandcamp (it's free!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cianide - Gods Of Death

After reviewing Alcest I figured you should get a dose of ballsy, testosterone-fueled death metal. So I present to you: Cianide's Gods Of Death!


Masculinity: This album has it. These old-school death metallers from Chicago don't know when to relent. High gain riffing and muddy, reverb-drenched soloing dominate the soundscapes on Gods Of Death. Consistency is the name of the game for Cianide and their sound really hasn't changed much since the early '90s. However this time around there's more than one track that breaks the seven-minute mark...

Balls: This is what Cianide excels at. "Rising Of The Beast" is filled with thrashy d-beats and some unintentionally funny, traditional death metal lyrics like "six, six-fucking, six" and "All your gods are dead, now you fucking die!" It's this goofy charm that makes Gods Of Death so appealing. Pit fiends and ripped dudes wanting to flex need not worry, there's plenty of bruising to be done when the pit riffs on "Idolator" and the entirety of "Terrorstrikes" play too. I feel like Gods Of Death is a hard album to hate for that reason. The album is fun and energetic, not to the point of stupidity or cheesiness, but it has all the bouncy crossover sounds of thrash seamlessly blended with the intensity of death metal. Sadly the longer songs are really boring. The second long track, "The One True Death" almost borders on doom/death metal, and that'd be fine if it was one of the many OSDM revival bands that usually incorporate that sound like Funebrarum, but instead it makes for a boring track that I often find myself skipping over.

Good: That's what Gods Of Death is. It's not really much more than that to be completely honest. The production is clear but filled with just enough reverb, and the riffs are sometimes catchy enough to become stuck in your head, but there is absolutely nothing special on Gods Of Death.

7.0 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Desecration Storm

2. Forsaken Doom

3. Rising of the Beast

4. Dead and Rotting

5. Idolator

6. Terrorstrikes

7. The One True Death

8. Contained and Controlled 

Alcest - Les Voyages De Lame (Lame Indeed)

Alcest is one of the frontrunners in the hackneyed "blackgaze" front. Oftentimes these bands overlap with "Cascadian" black metal, which is significantly more tolerable than this shit. You could see the beginnings of the movement in progressive goth/doom metallers Novembre, but at least they had the riffs to back it up. Here, sitting at Alcest's third and arguably most accessible (along with 2010's Éscailles De Lune, which I hated) release, we have more of the same shit.


Les Voyages De L'Âme is another attempt at creating a somber, dreamy atmosphere with tremolo riffing and the occasional "tormented" black metal screech. Neige's voice was never particularly strong on either front, and some of his better harsh vocals were done with his Lantlôs side project which I vastly prefer to Alcest, although part of me did enjoy the fuzz rock on Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde. Here we have Neige once again using his dream-like timbre in an attempt to soothe or create an emotional response with half-melodies, but like most of his attempts, it falls flat on it's face the second the corny harmonized riffs play along with his voice. Les Voyages reeks of cheese, and if you came looking for an album with a compellingly ethereal atmosphere far from morbid teen angst, you're looking in the wrong place.

Perhaps it's the occasional symphonic keyboards which irk me. They're blatantly placed in the mix so they always reach the peak frequency as Neige sweeps into a crescendo, except on "Nous Sommes L'Emeraude," where they're just annoying all the way through. The instrumentation on Les Voyages is perfectly fine and fitting for this kind of music, ignoring the irritating keyboards. The major-scale tremolo riffing harmonized with Neige's high-pitched vocals tries to convey a sense of dreaminess, and sometimes the combined two do a really good job of that. "Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles" is a good example here, as the riffs and layered effects build up rather nicely until they all come crashing down, leading into one of the few black metal rasps you'll hear on Les Voyages De L'Âme. "Summer's Glory" is another cool one that builds well into one of the few sequences where the dreamy atmosphere is realized. However most of the time the atmosphere is terribly executed, like on "Beings Of Light," which reaches Darkthrone levels of repetition in all its two-note glory. Sadly it's probably the most intense song on the album.

I keep getting the recurring idea that listening to the riffs is like peering into a rippling stream that reflects the sky, the sun, and all the fun, fruity things in life. This might be the atmosphere that Neige's trying to convey on Les Voyages, but I don't like it. It's whimsically happy as opposed to realistically happy, and it isn't really psychedelic or dense enough for me to get behind it. The latter is what Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde achieved and is the reason I can at least give that one a half-nod of approval. Les Voyages however? No. Not In the slightest.

4.0 out of 10


Tracklisting:

1. Autre Temps

2. Là Où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles

3. Les Voyages de l'Âme

4. Nous Sommes l'Emeraude

5. Beings of Light

6. Faiseurs de Mondes

7. Havens

8. Summer's Glory

John Talabot - Fin



Apparently "deep house" is a real subgenre of house. Nothing I knew before listening to John Talabot's ƒin, despite all the hipsters and electro-heads going wild over it. I'm not too big on house in general and I tend to prefer the more hardcore-driven genres like Rotterdam and gabber. Despite my house inhibition I really enjoyed ƒin.

As a new listening experience I might be biased, but John Talabot's producing here is great. There's lots of textured, layered beats drenched in melancholia, an emotion seldomly heard in electronic music I feel. The seven-and-a-half minute opener "Depak Ine" serves as a fun (if simple) disco-groove with a preview of the layering and textures you'll soon hear on ƒin. The track reeks of an eerie dimness, and leads perfectly into an album highlight "Destiny" featuring Barcelona's Pional. I don't know much about his work, but whatever he did on here is really cool. "Destiny" features one of the few vocal melodies, notable others being on the tracks "Estiu," a favorite of my roommate that sounds very R&B-esque, and the closer "So Will Be Now," also featuring Pional. "Journeys" feat. Ekhi is another track that utilizes vocal melodies but in a way that doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album. It's not bad - but it doesn't fit the atmosphere of the album very well.

For the most part that dismal, half-light eeriness is present throughout the entirety of ƒin. "Last Land" features some nice synth melodies and even the more dance-oriented tracks like "When The Past Was Present" are smitten with a case of sadness as well. It's an atmosphere that really sticks with the album, but it's not very negative sounding. It's almost a sort of cynical happiness - something that I find most people could relate to on some level. With that feel John Talabot has crafted one of the better album entries in the house subgenre. It's one that I'm not too familiar with I feel like any fan of dance-house could enjoy ƒin.

7.75 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Depak Ine
2. Destiny (feat. Pional)
3. El Oeste
4. Oro Y Sangre
5. Journeys (feat. Ekhi)
6. Missing You
7. Last Land
8. Estiu
9. When the Past Was Present
10. H.O.R.S.E.
11. So Will Be Now... (feat. Pional)

Devilish Distance - Deathtraction

I've had a random attack of tachycardia in the past few days and with that lame, fake Hallmark holiday being this past week, naturally I've spent more time with my girlfriend than on the internet. I'm jumping back into reviewing tonight though so get ready for a heavy dose of criticism (or praise).

I hadn't heard of Devilish Distance until a few weeks ago when I checked out their newest release, Deathtruction. These Ruskies have a sound not too distant from Polish acts Vader, Decapitated, and Behemoth (and by extension the mediocre wannabes Hate). Devilish Distance play that same brand of pseudo-technical death metal but with quite a bit more groove and time signature changing. It's a little refreshing to hear a bit of Decapitated worship in lieu of the shitty Carnival Is Forever too...


That cover art is pretty fucking cool despite the album having a dumb title a fourth-grader could've come up with. The color scheme and zombified bishop both evoke a sense of decadence which I can't really say fits the music, but it's cool nonetheless. The music on Deathtruction nails the modern death metal mold, and if that's your thing then you'll enjoy this overused harmonics and all. Tracks like "In Hate We Trust" and "Perverted Existence" really do sound like a mid-era Decapitated, as they are littered with technical melodies and intermittent chugging. Opener "Apocalypse," "Legion Christless," and thrashy, symphonic-intro'd "Panzerfaust" tend to borrow more heavily from Vader as they implement thick tremolo riffs and high-speed blasting. One of my favorites is "Spread Of Infection" which completely blindsided me with a random, highly melodious sequence.

All in all I have to hand it to these guys. Their playing is pretty polished and they're all technically proficient. Even the production stands out as audible basslines lead into more frenzied technical riffing while the drumming is always precise and the snare doesn't sound disgusting. There's just one thing that really irks me on Deathtruction, and that's the vocals.

Vocally speaking, the album is somewhere between bad and bearable. The vocals shift from mediocre mid-range growling to dull, robotic sounding rasps which are kind of distracting from all the other talent that went into making Deathtruction (damn that title makes me cringe). While the album isn't original, it's still fun, although how fun is completely determined by how much of this shit you've listened to before.6.5 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Marching Forward
 
2. Apocalypse
 
3. In Hate We Trust
 
4. Legion Christless
 
5. Stand
 
6. The Nameless One
 
7. Legasy of Pestilence
 
8. Scorn
 
9. Perverted Existence
 
10.   Panzerfaust
11.World Beyond (Kreator cover)
12. Spread of Infection
13. 1843

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Martriden - Encounter The Monolith

Part two of my Martriden redux reviews. This time I cover their superior 2010 release, Encounter The Monolith.


That cover evokes a sense of mystical space-lore and to a degree the totality of the universe. The art is fittingly fantastic for an album that really takes the melodic death/black metal mold and transcends galactic boundaries with the intensity of a blazar storm. "The Three Metamorphoses" pounded me with a stark realization of just how far these guys have progressed. Gone are the blatantly Gothenburg riffing, the metalcore influences, and the lame chugging, instead replaced with an explorative, open-ended sound that creates a spacey atmosphere. The synthesizers now take a more directly space-influenced vibe and the guitar leads and solos are just as spacey sounding as the synths. The solo on "Heywood R. Floyd" is layered with dense symphonics that really bring out that feeling.

Another thing I noticed right away going into Encounter The Monolith is that the tracks are much more progressive in nature and each track covers from six to nine minutes as opposed to the shorter, direct song structures of their debut. "Discovery" takes a page from Deathspell Omega's cult bible and works odd chromaticisms into the songwriting. For the most part the songwriting never reaches any degree of self-indulgency which is great and somewhat surprising. Instead Martriden focuses solely on creating a cohesive, isolationist space vibe that really sticks throughout all of Encounter The Monolith. The title track covers all of these elements perfectly.

The production is another issue, and one that hasn't improved that much since the debut. The bass is a bit more prevalent this time around and the synths being geared towards creating a stark atmosphere really helps Encounter The Monolith. The hi-fidelity recording makes this release somewhat unique in that it's done well for melodic death/black metal, and doesn't hurt the theatrical space-vibe of the album. It's amazing to see how these guys have matured since their meh-weak debut. Also there's no track called "Intro" on here, which makes it infinitely better in my book.

8.0 out of 10


Tracklisting:

1. The Three Metamorphoses

2. Heywood R. Floyd

3. Discovery

4. Human Error?

5. Encounter the Monolith

6. Death and Transfiguration

Martriden - The Unsettling Dark

So I was going through some old reviews I wrote years ago and I decided to do a redux of one band that I completely forgot: Martriden.

Now Martriden is a melodic death metal band. Yeah, my ears used to go there. It wasn't pleasant, although I might've said otherwise when I still thought Opeth was unique and Nile was brutal. Montana's Martriden are a bit different than their annoying Gothenburg counterparts in that they combine predictable Iron Maiden melodies with elements of black metal and sinister synths. Their music on The Unsettling Dark reminds me more of Dissection than say At The Gates or even commercial turds In Flames, which is a plus considering the Gothenburg scene's mediocrity.

There's also a cliche, bland metalcore sound on a few tracks. They happen to pop up every once in awhile, and when they do it's fucking annoying. "Ascension, Pt. 1" is a great example of this. It opens with uninspired noodling and a dumb breakdown "chug, chug-chug" riff.

Generally though these guys do a good job of displaying their musical talent without relying on those cliches. "The Enigma Of Fate" has some quality melodic black metal riffing and subtle symphonics which don't detract from the track, and "A Season In Hell" begins like one of Vader's or Behemoth's slower tracks. As the track grows, it builds into an atmospheric solo which makes a great transition into the acoustic outro. The title track is perhaps the most intense on the album with speed chugging riffs and double bass out the ass. It's alright if nothing special.

The production on The Unsettling Dark is light and typical for this kind of melodic death metal. The drums are the standout with a clean, triggered sound while the bass takes a backseat to the guitar. It's not like I expected anything more or less when I listen to a melodic death/black metal album. Overall it's pretty meh though and there's definitely better albums in the genre out there.

6.0 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Intro

2. The Enigma of Fate

3. The Calling

4. Ascension Pt. 1

5. Ascension Pt. 2

6. Processional for the Hellfire Chariot

7. The Unsettling Dark

8. Prelude

9. A Season in Hell

10.  Immaculate Perception

Eventually.

Cormorant - Dwellings

Cormorant's Dwellings was one of my favorite albums of 2011 as you could see on my top 25 list. The full cover art is also pretty sweet and captures the progressive, whimsical feel of the album.


I'm not normally a fan of progressive metal. I find the whining vocals and over-indulgent instrumentation and soloing to be dull and emotionally transparent. These guys are an exception, although I wouldn't go so far as to label them as purely progressive metal. They have elements of black metal and folk metal present in their sound as well, and Dwellings is anything but an album that can be pigeonholed in such a way.

Opener "The First Man" should be an obvious example of why Dwellings can't be easily labeled. The main riff is folk-ish, with a treble dominant sound, and it slowly progresses into a mid-paced jazz break halfway through the track. The whole album flows like the winding coils of a snake, undulating between black metal riffing, progressive melodies, all backed with a dense ethereal atmosphere. Slower tracks like "Funambulist" and "Unearthly Dreamings" dominate the soundscape with rich textures and solos that remain fluid. Cormorant never delves into self-indulgent wankery either. Even the mid-album instrumental "Confusion Of Tongues" avoids this while remaining a solid showcase of musicianship. The folk melodies resurface on"A Howling Dust" while "The Purest Land" has what is perhaps the most black metal influenced intro on Dwellings. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the variety is here if it's what you're looking for - and all of the different styles are implemented near flawlessly.

Speaking of flaws, there aren't many on Dwellings. The most blatant complaint I had is with the vocals. The cleans and monotone shouting work most of the time, but sometimes on tracks like "Junta" and the latter half of "The Purest Land" they get a bit grating. The production values are pretty stellar and every instrument is completely noticeable. Thanks to the huge amount of variety on here, Dwellings succeeds in being an atmospheric and emotionally compelling piece of progressive metal.

8.5 out of 10

Tracklisting:
1. The First Man

2. Funambulist

3. Confusion of Tongues

4. Junta

5. The Purest Land

6. A Howling Dust

7. Unearthly Dreamings

Bandcamp (because the interbutts is dead)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

All Pigs Must Die - God Is War



All Pigs Must Die caught my ear with their self-titled EP last year. Their first full-length God Is War caught my ear and kicked my ass as well. Here crusty kids All Pigs Must Die are as abrasive and chaotic as ever, with all the raging disdain that the genre is known for liberally sprinkling throughout its music. "Pulverization" hits like a truck, "Third World Genocide" slices with intense arpeggios, and the phenomenal "Sacrosanct" will have even the most ignorant neo-conservative Baptist joining in on the pit calls.

Did I already mention that "Sacrosanct" is phenomenal? I can't stress that enough. The track is everything crust punk should be. To summarize it's a fun, d-beat track with a great bass solo and some killer tremolo riffs slightly akin to those found in black metal. This gives "Sacrosanct" a unique feel that most crust tends to lack. All the praise I'm heaping on that one track doesn't make the rest of God Is War any worse. As I mentioned a few of the other tracks share the same themes and aggression. The opener "Death Dealer" builds into a hardcore monster and "The Blessed Void" descends into a crossover thrash riff that had me headbanging the first time I listened to it. Surprisingly the weakest track on the album is the title track, which is slower and a bit more repetitive. The closer "Sadistic Vindicator" shares some of those elements but is a bit more interesting musically, riff-wise and in exposition.

The anti-religious themes are something I find interesting. Not because they're unique themes, but they're slightly more unique when brought into this kind of music. They link these themes lyrically with the traditional crusty whining about corporatism, which is pretty cool. Another thing that I can attribute my like for this album to is the dense, highly abrasive production. The guitars are heavy, the kicks have some bass to them, and the bass itself is overdriven and apparent on nearly every track. It's a nice touch that covers the entirety of God Is War. If I had given this a listen last year I would've included it in my top 25 of 2011. It's that damn good.

8.5 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Death Dealer
2. Pulverization
3. Sacrosanct
4. God Is War
5. The Blessed Void
6. Third World Genocide
7. Total Extinction
8. Sadistic Vindicator

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pulling Teeth - Funerary

Been really busy these past few days. There was the Super Bowl which I didn't give a fuck about, rampaging fans all over the school with riot police, flashbangs and rubber bullets, class work, and a bunch of other shit. I also acquired around 2gbs of hip hop and have been listening to a lot of crust lately.

And thus I shall begin my triumphant return to the blogging world with Pulling Teeth's aptly titled final album, Funerary.


Pulling Teeth plays ballsy hardcore punk that is often similar to (real) metalcore or crustcore. Funerary is my first foray into Pulling Teeth's music, and it is exactly what I expected based on that description: heavily riff-based hardcore with some intense breakdowns and pissed off vocals. Following the worthwhile keyboard intro "A Bitter Harvest," crustcore anthem "From Birth" unleashes a full myriad of furies upon the listener. It's got all the fast, metallic riffing of crust as well as the soloing, the absolutely ferocious vocalwork of Mike Riley, and it all coalesces into a breakdown. The song clocks in at just under three minutes, and on the first half of Funerary that's pretty long.

The tracks following the awesome opener, "Extinction" and "Brain Drain," are both further exercises in the style. The former opens with a grinding riff followed by a breakdown, while the latter is an exercise in more traditional hardcore with its d-beats and shouts. As you can expect from the label "metallic hardcore," some of the tracks on Funerary are a bit more metal influenced, like "The New Dark Age." This isn't a bad thing by any means, but these tracks are a bit more slow to mid-paced. They're placed in the middle of Funerary as a transition. As the album closes, the tracks get longer and much more slow-paced. "Funerary" is a droning exercise in doom-structuring that continues through "At Peace" and the clean vocals and solo-driven "Whispers." It's a fitting conclusion to the band's career and the name of the album applies perfectly here. However these songs are a bit slower and more predictable, and often delve into sludge territory.

Musically speaking Pulling Teeth doesn't do this doom-influenced style perfectly despite it being fitting for the album, but since it fits the dismal atmosphere of the album so well I'll cut them some slack. The production is also very "metallic" for lack of a better word, with high gain and reverb, which adds to this atmosphere. Shame to see these guys go since the album is pretty awesome, even if the later tracks are a bit weak in their execution.

7.75 out of 10


Tracklisting:

1. A Bitter Harvest
2. From Birth
3. Extinction
4. Brain Drain
5. The New Dark Age
6. Grudgeholder
7. Plastic Tombs
8. Funerary
9. At Peace
10. Whispers
11. Waiting
12. August 29

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spawn Of Possession - Cabinet

Part II of my coverage of Spawn Of Possession's full-length releases. This time I'll be covering their debut album Cabinet.



Unlike Noctambulant, which I've always hated, I've always maintained that Cabinet is a solid album. It's a more aggressive, more entertaining take on the immense talent that Spawn Of Possession is notorious for displaying. The riffs have meat to them, the bass pops out in the mix, and the production doesn't make the instruments sound like they were replaced with FL Studio samples. Those are good things by the way, just in case you were deluded into thinking shit like Brain Drill actually sounded like quality.

It's pretty amazing what some gain can do for the tone of a guitar. Even though the bass features a dry tone, the mixing lets the lower frequencies out, giving texture to otherwise self-indulgent riffing. "A Presence Inexplicable" and the hook-driven "Dirty Priest" feature dense basslines which actually add something to the verses. This tidbit of heaviness does wonders when combined with the slightly more gain-ridden guitar tone, making the virtuosic elements of Cabinet memorable and catchy. Killer demo track "Inner Conflict" features one of the most memorable, hammerblast-driven verses on the album and it opens with a fucking awesome intro that I often find myself humming along to.

There's some decent track variety on here as well - and no not in the bad "riff salad" way that I often complain about. Each track feels separate yet they all fit together cohesively. "Swarm of the Formless" does a great job opening Cabinet while "Spawn Of Possession," another demo track, marks the transition to the second half of the album with it's ghoulish chants. The last demo track "Church Of Deviance" is a competent display of speed and technicality and closer "Uncle Damfee" features some ambience and use of synthesizers. It's tasteful, unlike most times bands like this use synths.

The virtuosic musicianship is all here too. There's no doubt that these guys are talented after listening to either of their full-lengths. The difference between the debut and Noctambulant is that Cabinet has balls and memorability and isn't as concerned with self-indulgent neoclassicism.

8.5 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Lamashtu

2. Swarm of the Formless

3. Hidden in Flesh

4. A Presence Inexplicable

5. Dirty Priest

6. Spawn of Possession

7. Inner Conflict

8. Cabinet

9. The Forbidden

10. Church of Deviance

11.  Uncle Damfee

Eventually.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spawn Of Possession - Noctambulant

Herein I shall review Noctambulant, the latter of Spawn Of Possession's two full-lengths. Since Incurso is coming so soon, I figured I'd go on a nostalgia trip and listen to these guys again in preparation.

I never enjoyed Noctambulant. Going back to it, I don't think my opinion has changed much. It is one of the poster children for the new(ish) neo-classical technical death metal movement. Noctambulant essentially has it all: technical riffs based around high speed arpeggiation, odd time signatures, and diverse rhythmic elements ranging from the belted growls and drum patterns to melodic basslines.


All of it amounts to nothing. In fact 'nothing' aptly describes everything I feel when I listen to Noctambulant.

The production might be to blame here. Everything is glossed over to the point of sterility. By that I mean literally every track and every instrument: guitar, bass, drums, and uh, synth. The bass frequencies are almost nonexistent in the mixing, leaving Noctambulant with a very inoffensive, wimpy sound. The times the bass guitar rears it's dry, progressive-toned head are few and far between as well. One such time is on "Dead & Grotesque," where a montage of riffs and a solid bassline wreak havoc on your brain before collapsing into a mid-paced (for Spawn Of Possession) solo. That track is easily one of the best on Noctambulant, and sadly there's few others that come close to matching it.

Noctambulant is a virtuosic display by musicians with no talent for songwriting otherwise. Despite cleanly played arpeggios and extensive soloing, most tracks often make jarring transitions and change time signatures without warning. Generally this is cool by me and creates an unpredictable atmosphere, but where the production is so pathetic and the riffs are so dominated by modal structuring, it makes listening to them a bore. Take for example "Lash by Lash," a track ruined with mid-paced hammerblasts and a main riff exemplifying all the guitar noodling douchery I've grown to hate.

Another big problem for me with Noctambulant is the "riff salad" nature of the tracks. The fact each song contains so many differently styled riffs and structures makes the whole thing feel like one long guitar exercise. The attempt at adding some jazz flair on "Eve Of Contempt" comes across as half-baked despite the song having one of the better solos on the album, while the useless ambient intro to "Scorched" further diminishes what I presume was supposed to be a 'brutal' track. All those hammerblasts and the metronome being set to 300 make it seem like a giant dick-wagging fest that they lose in every regard.

The redeeming qualities of the album? There's plenty of talent in the instrumentation. If you're a sucker for guitar wankery and listening to theory exercises over and over, you'll probably enjoy Noctambulant. I however enjoy my talent with a side of feeling, and that's something Noctambulant sorely lacks.

4.0 out of 10

Tracklisting:

1. Inception

2. Lash by Lash

3. Solemn They Await

4. Render My Prey

5. Eve of Contempt

6. Sour Flow

7. By a Thousand Deaths Fulfilled

8. Dead & Grotesque

9. In My Own Greed

10.   Scorched

Eventually.