Search Results for "Album Review"

Album Review: Conquer At Will – ‘Lou’s Revenge’

Posted by Andrew Johann Datoush on Monday, November 27, 2017 at 9:36 PM (PST)

CONQUER AT WILL may just be the greatest 80’s metal band to come out in 2017. A bit of a bold statement to make in the beginning of a review on a virtually unknown band, but fuck you because you haven’t witnessed their power yet (I still love you readers though, some of you for a longer time than others).

I witnessed these guys for the first time back in October 2017 when they opened for the mighty DOKKEN and I was immediately hooked. They had the look, the sound, and the riffs to catch my attention, and they made one hell of an impression. I knew right there that these guys were something special. I mean, DOKKEN was always a huge deal to me, and considering I not only saw them live for my first time in my favorite local venue (The Chance in Poughkeepsie), but I had also gotten a chance to meet them that night, and even with all of that going on, the opening act still stood out to me more than the thumb of a hot hitchhiker chick that could be the opening of a horror movie, or a porno.

Fast forward a few weeks later. It’s Halloween day, and CONQUER AT WILL has just released their first album Lou’s Revenge. After making Nick Sinclari [singer / guitarist] drive a copy of the album over to me and probably making him late to a Dee Snider show in Poughkeepsie (sorry dude!), I finally had my own copy of the album. Immediately upon putting it on the stereo, I was hit with an instrumental sound that was like a cross between early IRON MAIDEN, OMEN, and SAXON. The sound is epic 80’s enough, that if I hadn’t witnessed them myself, I’d think this was an elaborate MILLI VANILLI type of thing, but these guys are truly the real deal. The album is straight 80’s metal from start to finish, and it doesn’t let up for a moment.

If you’re a fan of classic heavy metal, CONQUER AT WILL is the band for you. Don’t let their age fool you. These kids know metal, and will gladly show you how to rock the fuck out. Get your copy of Lou’s Revenge today! Your ears will thank you! Key Tracks 1. “Sea Of Agony” 2. “Angels In Hell” 3. “Not The Love”

Album Review: Morbid Angel – “Kingdoms Disdained”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 4:20 PM (PST)

Morbid Angel are back, reunited with Steve Tucker, death metal and a proper respect for the elder tentacle gods. The Morbid Disco of Illud Divinum Insanus and David Vincent are nowhere in sight and the band sound evil, fired up and hungry to recapture the death metal crown.

I don’t begrudge a band experimentation, but Morbid Angel had a near flawless legacy of album after solid death metal album. Illud just effed with that way too much and some of the vocals were just…how do I say this…goofy, hot garbage. Steve Tucker understands what the guys who made Illud let themselves forget, that while there are many bands influenced by Morbid Angel (Gojira prominently come to mind), there is no one who can BE Morbid Angel quite like the Morbid Angel. You can take the David Vincent out but I Am Morbid should take note that you can’t really do it without Trey Azagthoth. It just won’t have the same feel.  We have Igorr, Zeal & Ardor, lapis exilis or any number of all over the place stylistically bands in the underground but Morbid Angel are a precious well of slime that can not be replaced. I think about Jay Z telling people to buy his old albums if people want that him, but with Morbid Angel or Slayer it is just different. It just feels wrong when they stray too far somehow, haha.

Anyway, Kingdoms Disdained is incredibly enjoyable. Opening with the shifting and double bass heavy “Piles Of Little Arms”, the band are off to the races. The song title is almost too death metal, like a borderline early Cannibal Corpse title, but the group clearly want to prove they are back at it with no funny business.

The drums are kind of loud in the mix in places but there is a very present yet dirty quality to the bass and guitars. Rutan knocked it out of the park and he knows Morbid Angel, for sure.  Much like he has done with Goatwhore and Agnostic Front or other bands, Rutan captures their strengths and core sound and brings it up front and center to great organic result.

So, the guitar work? The first outro solo at 3:32 is brief but definitely opens a chaos portal and sets up second slogger “D.E.A.D.” awesomely. “D.E.A.D.” has CRAZY riffage, really inspired stuff from Trey that climbs the walls and will make you stare with eyes wide and mouth open at the stereo or computer scarcely believing the structure. “Garden Of Disdain” opens with a lightning fast attack before crashing into a classic mid tempo gnarly crawl riff the way only Morbid Angel can really do it. It is as heavy or heavier than anything on Blessed Are The Sick or Formulas.

While the cover art made me scared they were going to go in some modern technical death direction, the record is very old school. “Paradigms Warped” has the sort of brutal heft that lifts you out of your skin which I crave from Morbid Angel, whether they are blasting you with speed or crushing you to dust. This song falls mostly on the latter side of the spectrum, a trudge through bloody mud towards a black hole swallowing cities as double bass reigns wild. There is also some great slow and muscular bass that is quite prominent through a dissonant chordal section. “For No Master” really lets Scotty Fuller prove his worth on drums, holding down the speed and tom action stupendously. I would say this album is better than Heretic and very close if not equal to Gateways, but it is also really fresh and so far I have loved every second of it.

I don’t want to spoil the awesome finale track, but suffice to say it rips your head off and you know the Gods have returned.

 

Album Review: Entheos – “Dark Future”

Posted by Metal Riot on Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 12:15 PM (PST)

Dark Future by Entheos, the group’s second full length, sees an expanding of experimentation and some awesome musical passages. Sadly it is also marred in places by weird choices and some sort of done to death djenty stuff. The sort of robot frog vocal approach at times can be super distracting from dazzling progressive passages that otherwise might lift you up and away.

Admittedly, Veil Of Maya or Whitechapel may have lost some ‘brootal bro’ fans who didn’t like when the group expanded their vocal templates, but it made them much better bands. On a song like “Melancholia” Entheos uses the screams to excellent effect, but in other places they just seem to be trying too hard. You shouldn’t be consistently feeling like a record would be more interesting as an instrumental than with metalcore vocals. “Sea Of Symmetry” feels like it succeeds more at what parts of Job For A Cowboy’s Sun Eater grasped towards, but the vocals again feel like the least amount of work went in compared to some of the insanely cool stuff other members are doing. In all honesty though, the kids who follow a lot of bands like this won’t care – though more attention would perhaps give the band more longevity and an expanded reach. Not that they need flowery melodic passages, but try to at least differentiate yourself from any dozen other screamers out there.

The tricky intro to “Suspended Animation” kept making my ears strain to hear the cool stuff from under unintelligible not even that intense kind of compressed sounding yargles. “The World Without Us” breathes a bit more and as such is a good choice for the single, but in other places it is just a super distraction from otherwise pretty killer musical passages. The solo section of “Suspended Animation” literally makes your damn ears feel relieved. The high pitch screams are a lot better, but an acquired taste. And meanwhile the rhythmic stuff and bass lines are so dope! If your ears are getting tired and you end up not remembering any lyrics but feeling kind of annoyed, that freakin’ sucks. As a result, this pretty stellar workout that would be getting a 3 or 4 out of 5 for effort and skill has the vocals bring it way down to a 2.5 for just being obnoxious and scene-core sounding.

Typing the title The Horse And Other Weird Tales, I accidentally wrote ‘takes’ instead of ‘tales’ and laughed. The world is full of so many bad hot takes lately and thankfully Jess and the Ancient Ones‘ new record feels like it could save people from illusions while also inspiring psychedelic spiritual autonomy and rebellion. Sorely needed!

Record number three from the powerful psych band sees the group forging ahead and sounding more like they jammed out the whole record in a powerhouse ritual bonding than ever before. “(Here Comes The) Rainbow Mouth” and “Shining” cast upbeat persistent hypnosis that loosens the limbs and brings you into the expanding lotus-like world of the Ancient Ones’ sound as they explore. There is nothing as darkly unhinged and intense as “The Equinox Death Trip” but the album makes you feel amazing and will open your mind wide. It really feels like witnessing history in the re-making, in that it sounds like vintage 60’s glory but the band are well into their own mythology.

Sheer brilliance and lightning in a bottle takes abound. Actually HOT “takes”.

“Your Exploding Heads” has an amazing almost post punk intro before smoothly transitioning into a stunning opening verse section, the group fully in control of the build up that allows for the chorus to explode like the head in the title. 9 songs and 31 minutes, recorded and mixed together with their live sound engineer made for an experience not often captured by timid bands. Clutch’s records like Jam Room or the masterful Robot Hive/Exodus capture the kind of loose and yet super in the zone feel I am trying to convey, simply from that famed band playing together live and becoming psychic. This Jess and the Ancient Ones record has a similar spirit of intuition and innovation but feels more ‘in the moment’, if that makes sense.

“You And Eyes” is maybe my favorite, a chill yet confidant boogie that just feels so cool and good. The philosophical sampled spoken word segments on this album really vibe with the tunes instead of feeling gimmicky. The experimental psych jazz meets Floyd via Big Brother and the Holding Company-esque 4 and a half minute mark section of this tune will keep you flying free and easy but tuned in. There’s a warm and bluesy feel to parts of this song that is pitch perfect. Jess’ vocal performance on this tune and really the whole album feel like a huge victory. If the act never made another record the work they have done so far would already classify them as a very notable act.

“Radio Aquarius” is a song I wish the whole American public could chill out to right now, as raw and beaten up as we are lately. It makes you feel how some of the world’s problems and mysteries have remained unsolved since, say, the Vietnam War through the present day and that there is a heart of darkness always at war with the diamond awakening of consciousness expansion. “Return To Hallucinate” will make you feel hopeful and like you can hopefully keep painting your dreams for a better world through any hardships to come if we all keep faith in one another, clap and dance. There’s also a scorching fuzzy solo in that one and brilliant keys that are super addictive.

“Anyway The Minds Flow” seems to signal to outsiders to remember that while they might feel braced against the system and the world, they are also free from the constraints of conformity and just might carve their own fate. The Catcher In The Rye is evoked and hearkens to the courage to step forward into a bold decision. Time’s river flows by and you can interact as you choose, swept up in the times or making them react to you. But we all spin on the mandala. So alone or together we all are together and interconnected anyway and might as well try and make the best of it. The best part is, this album is going to be a gift that keeps on giving new delights with every listen, revealing more lessons, layers and love.

Surrendering can be hard but magical things just might happen.

Album Review: Shrapnel – ‘Raised On Decay’

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 9:05 PM (PST)

Daaaamn. Shrapnel are back! Raised On Decay (Spinefarm) is a big next step for the British thrashers after a good, if flawed, debut The Virus Conspires. You can tell they have been working hard because the new record increases all of their strengths and you can hear the band finding their own voice a little more. They were never bad but they are becoming who they were meant to be. You can hear it in the explosive 2:28 mark of “Echoes Of Emptiness” as they transcend the confines of an otherwise rad thrash song into full guitar solo glory and then a truly unhinged bridge that will satisfy Death Angel and Kreator fans alike and proves they can match the intensity of Warbringer and Battlecross when they assert themselves fully.

There is a lot of bad ass riffing here. “Jester” doesn’t even have to demand your attention because it has it. A hard charged riff slips into a super bad ass extended tom roll section and then we are off to the fuckin’ races. You can tell these guys are deeply invested in the music and set to prove they deserve the big time. Man, they need to be on the road with Testament or Shattered Sun like RIGHT now!

“Choir Of Wolves” is an example of a slightly weaker cut, though the song title is cool. An almost Queensryche intro with evil sort of bordeline campy King Diamond dark talking vocals (might have been better instrumental, frankly) sets the stage for a very militaristic sounding song that has some clobbering tones and great moments but is mostly held together by the stomp tempo and the great lead guitar. Other songs are more on point all the way through, in particular thrash fans will fucking delight (there is no other word) to the speed and skill excess of “Carved From Above”.

I dug this band when I first heard them and highly recommend this for a band who you feel like you can sort of be a part of from the ground floor up. I sincerely hope they stay going and make a handful more records after this, cuz they are really having an extended musical moment of greatness here for the vast majority of the offered tracks.

 

 

Album Review: Couch Slut – “Contempt”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 10:42 AM (PST)

When people look back at this particular era of hardcore, metalcore and experimental music with extreme dabblings, the last few years will show bands like Couch Slut, He Whose Ox Is Gored, Ascend/Descend, Full Of Hell and perhaps even a band like South Wales’ upstarts Continents (who have had support of more mainstream labels but pushed their sound further regardless without aping Bring Me The Horizon) were some of the real standouts in quality and long run importance.

Couch Slut return with a quite anticipated sophomore release after a much debated and uncompromising first record. The first album was good in a certain raw and pure sense of purpose stage setting way, certainly with some very worthy moments. Contempt is a step up in that the band sound like they have really benefited from playing more live. There is a sort of synergy in the performances – especially the clobbering and discordant “Company Picnic With Dust Off” you hear a lot on some of the better Am Rep and Touch And Go releases by Tar, Helmet, Jesus Lizard or Today Is The Day where you know the bands were really breathing their material, living in it and running shit a lot. Who knows? Maybe Couch Slut just party and don’t need to rehearse a lot, tapping into the well of unquenchable radness from which Ronnie James Dio (who has been rumored to have not needed vocal warm-ups to ride the tiger and be master of the moon) drank from.

The mix is great and the tones compliment one another, chunky but with some room. I really like Theo Nobel’s drum sound and how it pads out the mix. The snare is driving but you feel like you are in the room with the band, despite good tones nothing feels over processed and front rager Megan’s vocal sits within but not massively above the mix, more akin to older hardcore records. It frankly sounds like a loud punch in the head in a pissed off traffic jam at times, in a good way. Contempt was recorded by Couch Slut’s Kevin Wunderlich and former member Amy Mills. It was mixed by Caley Monahan-Ward (Extra Life, Voice Coils) and mastered by James Plotkin (Leviathan, Sumac). It sounds like Plotkin knew just how much to boost everything.

Read more.

Album Review: ATRIARCH – “Dead As Truth”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 9:52 AM (PST)

Gloomy and introspective yet contrarily heavy and distorted tribal extroverts Atriarch spread their black wings on the timely monickered Dead As Truth (Pre Order from Relapse HERE). Imagine some of the barren dirge of older My Dying Bride if filtered through a West Coast penchant for organic punk and extreme metal scene history, harsher vocals and crescendos to match bands like Intronaut and Inter Arma (albeit with a much more sinister dynamic to the dynamics).

Dead As Truth could have been a two song with the opening crusher “Inferno” (one of the most compelling pieces yet from the group) and the almost Death Rock meets New Order by way of Rudimentary Peni sounding bassline genius of single length “Dead”. These songs are going to make the band really able to flex their muscle and range live in a way that I bet will be hard to ignore. Atriarch have refined their sense of dirge here while audibly coming together more as a unit. Their past work is great but there are certain jaw dropping moments of synergy here. 1:50 or so into “Dead” when the sheets of melting glass noise solo starts and into the next, more subdued nest verse is a key example, the band treating each section with respect and then exploding into the next heavy section due to the emotional weight of it all rather than for heavy style points.

These kind of tricks, authentic reaction versus trying to be “brootal”, makes this band or Deafheaven or even older bands in very different modes like the early stuff from The Used or Blood Brothers more interesting at times than some of their peers past and present in that whatever you say about the band’s various sub-genres or career preferences, you can’t deny they are/were feeling it.

“Devolver” is ok but kills the pace a little bit. The song is like banging an anvil with a sledgehammer and that is certainly awesome. Maybe it is because I chilled out with a joint before really digging into it. I am sure it will clobber with a certain early Swans/ Neubauten brutishness live. It isn’t bad just les original than the two songs before it which managed to subvert expectations while tipping the cap to predecessors.

Whatever your take away from this record, if you didn’t know the band’s earliest stuff you will still as a newer fan be stoked that the group are able to match the quality of “Bereavement” and prove their staying power. Check out “Inferno” for a song that uses the space of the intro to cast a thick spell, like clinging to a buoy in a foggy night as ghosts, regrets and the vague outlines of ships and memories pass you in the lonely night. The song conjures personal hells quite literally and would almost give Neurosis a run for their money in places. I am glad “Inferno” was a single because you won’t forget it and the song absolutely punishes. Some people might not like the growled spoken vocal style in the verses, but I think it works very well.

The record streets on August 11th and is an eye opening, ear bleed inducing morass of knotted emotion, leaving you feeling like old tree roots, tight in the shoulders and tired but braced to endure. You’ll likely wonder at impermanence and the things we can and cannot change about others and yourself.

 

Album Review: For The Win – “Heavy Thoughts”

Posted by Metal Riot on Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 11:41 AM (PST)

“Give me a reason why I should stay.” “This is a song for the beaten and broken”. “You took everything from me.” “I’ll keep pushing on.” None of these are exactly original sentiments for an easycore record. That said, For The Win are good enough at what they do and if you are into this lighter cousin of metalcore you prob are more concerned with the general vibe, singing along and moshing to relatable riffs and themes than having the lyrics be on the Mars Volta end of the spectrum. Still, as the San Diego based band – newly signed to Victory – moves forward through their new record Heavy Thoughts, the moments of passion and clear conviction are pulled down by a lot of cliche. That said, I am sure this will do fine with scene kids. It isn’t on par with Homesick by ADTR but at least while you are listening to it the album is decent. It just doesn’t stick with you afterwards.

Don’t think I am being a hater. There are some very enjoyable melodic threads wound around the heart of these riffs, like a lighter Parkway Drive with more unabashedly giant pop hooks over the verses and breakdowns. “G Series” and the almost Foo Fighters-esque intro to “Nowhere To Run” might not break the mold but you’ll be humming along one way or another. Kyle Christensen is a very capable vocalist who just happens to sound like tons of stuff that has come before and the band throw in too many one note chug breakdowns that are the epitome of lowest common denominator. Like, they make some Bury Your Dead breakdowns look like rocket science.

I was recently watching Phil Anselmo & The Illegals cover “A New Level” with Rex Brown sitting in on bass from Download 2014. The riffs are signature no matter who plays them, and not just because they are from such a gigantic hit metal record. The parts are just memorable! Even when Dickelback covered “Sad But True” you can’t help but sing the main riff afterwards.  Or, say, the intro riff to Dagnasty’s classic “Circles”. It’s just undeniable, one of the best punk songs ever no matter which vocalist. In my opinion too many younger punk scene bands might be having fun but the commercial ambition tends to squash a lot of bands into a similar vein. It’s not bad music but it doesn’t grab with the intensity of risks paying off.

Like Homesick, the album ends with a high school heart strings radio emo ballad. The most telling number though, and also maybe the best song, is the fast kind of Jimmy Eats World sounding “All Or Nothing”, which is basically also what you will take away from this band. You’ll either love it or never care if you hear any of it again. With the country plagued by social horrors and scandal daily, we kind of need the punk of the world to be more like Downtown Boys, Oak and Le Butcherettes right now a lot more than more of this style that has been glutting the arteries of the scene since the early 00’s. Like, we get it.

Album Review: Expulsion – “Nightmare Future”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 8:41 PM (PST)

Seven songs in fourteen minutes as vomited out by alumni from Exhumed, Lightning Swords Of Death, Intronaut and of course Repulsion? How could you possibly go wrong?!

This Expulsion project seems like the guys just wanted to have a total fucking blast while still showing their utter devotion to extreme grind and thrash. The songs are high speed, take no prisoners bangers that give Iron Reagan or Lock Up a fair fight in the over the top intensity department. Out mid Ju;y via Relapse, this is kind of a must purchase little record – even if they never make another one.

“Total Human Genocide” has more political lyrics from Exhumed’s Matt Harvey (akin to some of the excellent Necrocracy themes). “Altar Of Slaughter” gets more gory with classic Harvey stuff about eye gouging and laughing while sawing someone, etc. Everything is quite metal. All in all you are here for the overall effect than the lyrics on this outing.

Matt Olivo – Guitar, Danny Walker – Drums and Menno Verbaten – Bass do a tremendous job here. The hyper march of “Funeral Bells” or the many distorted and barelling down on you kick ass bass parts from Verbaten add perfect support for the riff-sanity from Olivo that all allows for Harvey to go off with ease. Not much more to say other than that for an idea conceived for fun, this smokes a lot of full time acts out there. But what would you expect from this cast of characters?

Nightmare Future was produced by Matt Olivo, mixed by Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind and mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Mayhem, Faith No More, Halford). Physical preorders and bundles are available at Relapse.com HERE and digital downloads can be preordered via Bandcamp at THIS LOCATION.

Album Review: Twilight Force – Heroes Of Mighty Magic

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 9:51 PM (PST)

The cover art for Twilight ForcesHeroes Of Mighty Magic and even some of the Falun based power metallers promo pics look like something Matt Stawicki  might have dreamed up for a fantasy game, and indeed that is the general vibe here. Twilight Force are nothing if not unabashedly celebrating power metal in all the joy, absurdity and thrills it can encompass. If that is not your thing you really should avoid this. If it is you are going to be incredibly pleased. They are likely Legolas the elf’s favorite metal band.

Each song is an adventure unto itself, almost like a stand alone game module in a greater campaign, haha. By the end of the album you feel like you have really been through many realms of adventure, as the sort of whole energy of the band seems to encapsulate this goal. I was talking to a lady friend and we couldn’t decide if they either are virgins or absolutely slay ass whilst conquering infinite realms of wonder.

The slick leads really are a highlight and pretty mind blowing on a lot of this stuff and they come off as very classical music or Yngwie compatible. Sonata Arctica (who they have toured with), Stratovarius , Sabaton or especially Rhapsody fans will be really into much of this band’s power. “Guardian of the Seas” is one of the most stirring numbers, full of crescendos, sweeping emotion, rousing vocals and some very pro execution.

“Keepers Of Fate” absolutely soars midway through the record, practically sounding like a massive choral Christmas song of triumph over lightning fast guitar heroics. Blackwald symphonic keys on many tracks really help the arrangements climb rather than being obnoxious. The title track is also really of note, the intro almost like watching a fantasy movie spring to life right in your mind’s eye. This album is fun and not for those who need everything to be super dire all the time. If you want a very well done escape with some silly but super awesome elements, the musicianship and attention to detail here is pretty phenomenal. Great job.

-Steve Grimmett recorded a solo album, Personal Crisis, that was originally released in 2007 via Germany’s Metal Heaven Records.  The album never saw proper North American distribution. That will change on June 30, when Dissonance Productions makes this gem available for the English singer’s stateside fans.-

I’ve always thought that if there were to be a Mount Rushmore of Heavy Metal singers, Steve Grimmett would be one of the most deserving men to be a part of it. Think about it. He was a singer for bands like ONSLAUGHT, LIONSHEART, and of course, the legendary GRIM REAPER! You know, now that I think about it, I’m pretty offended that there isn’t a metal Mount Rushmore. Can we get a trending campaign going to raise awareness? #NotMyRushmore immediately springs to mind. (Editor’s Note: If Dio was on it as well we could sing “Man On The Rushmore Mountain”).

While we are awaiting our mountain, some great news has come to light. In 2007, Steve Grimmett recorded a solo album which got an extremely limited release. It sadly would never be seen on North American soil…until now. Well, by “now”, I mean June 30th, so there’s a little wait time left my little Drewgies. (Get it? I’m Drew, A Clockwork Orange, see what I did there? Yeah, ok… I’ll stop.) Once I learned of this news, to say I was pumped would be an understatement.

I grew up with the GRIM REAPER albums in my collection. Fuck, I opened this by saying Grimmett was on my personal metal singer Mount Rushmore. (The other 3 are Dickinson, Halford and indeed the mighty Dio if you’re wondering.) This man has had one of the greatest voices in metal and he’s still kicking ass with that god-like voice of his today. Don’t believe it? Buy last year’s GRIM REAPER album Walking In The Shadows.

As soon as I got my advance of the Personal Crisis  album re-issue, I began to assemble my team in my office (Johnnie Walker gold reserve and my dancing Groot plant), and together, we had one killer heavy metal happy hour, as this album is an unrelenting metal assault. A classic metal sound with killer riffs and Grimmett’s powerful voice on what may possibly be his best recording. There isn’t one weak moment on the album. Ian Nash [guitars], Richard Walker [bass], and Pete Newdeck [drums] created a perfect sound that really compliments Steve’s voice. Key Tracks – 1. Karma 2. Enemy (with guest vocals by Joanne Ruiz) 3. Fallen

Album Review: Shores Of Null – “Black Drapes For Tomorrow”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 10:42 AM (PST)

Shores Of Null‘s Quiescence was a sleeper of a debut that was so good it enabled me to get people who hadn’t been much interested in more extreme metal since Pantera or, more recently, Dillinger to get into it. Some of that is that the vocals are not only gruff growls but also dip into a rich and honeyed well of powerful and bold melody that stirs the soul. Above all the band are well-paced, don’t over do any one element and are firm in their identity.

These traits continue on new, better produced album Black Drapes For Tomorrow (which is really fucking hard to Google without getting home decoration websites as a result, dudes!). For the moment I like the debut better, but only because it made a big impact on me from the get go and I listened to it a lot. I feel like this new record is likely just as strong and am certainly yet to find fault with it, rather I need the songs to just get into my bones a little more as much as “Kings Of Null” did. That said, if you loved the band before you certainly still will. With all due respect to Katatonia, this band is packing a bit more punch these days despite not having as storied a history of releases to draw from live.

SoN are clearly hungry, however. This Rome based band sound fully committed to their art on songs like “Tide Against Us”, which gives the feeling that the tide will not be enough to halt their determination. This is one of the handful of metal bands I really want to see live these days that I haven’t. I really hope they release “A Thousand Storms” as a single if they haven’t. I feel like that could be a big song  for them from this record and win both Amon Amarth type fans as well as fans of more melodic vocal, epic heavy metal. It also just has some killer guitar work.

Fans of Novembers Doom will appreciate the often borderline ponderous and morose feel of many of these songs but the band manage to inject traits of melodeath elements and classic metal flourishes as well as prominent drum fills that add forward motion to the sounds like a battle march. The stunning “House Of Cries” almost sounds like black metal meets melodeath in places and I think this band should really get on a tour with Wolfheart after hearing it, despite having much more melodic vocals. I think that would be a popular pairing.

“Carry On, My Tiny Hope” is not about how metal will make your penis grow bigger if you are a dude (though that is actually true). I have a feeling it is actually about something more inspiring like passing down legacy of heritage to family, but I have not spoken to the band about it. I DO know that it is one of the finest arrangements from the group to date, seriously setting them in a cool place and almost sounding like if Hetfield sang with Jerry Cantrell in places. It is a hard song to even do justice to descriptively as it has many movements that move even the casual listener.

The closing classical guitar influenced number “Death Of A River” also bears specific shouting out, evidence that the band’s dynamics are not a fad and they are continuing to build on some of what makes their style work so well. I really hope this group catches on more in the United States.

Album Review: Lancer – “Mastery”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 6:40 PM (PST)

Lancer are sure to break out bigger in the metal scene with Mastery, their first album since signing to Nuclear Blast. Do these Swedes deserve it? The passion is certainly there as are the serious playing chops needed for power metal, perhaps the sub genre that prides itself on skill more than any other maybe besides prog and tech death. Power metal is basically 80’s metal without the sex and with way more fantasy elements, soaring choruses and often insanely ambitious guitar solos that defy human reason. It satisfies geeks and nerds on an almost subatomic level.

Granted, this means the good bands in the genre are really amazing and the bad ones are almost unfathomably bad. Lancer are quite good. I came to this with a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I am such a Stratovarius fan that I never expect something I haven’t heard to tickle my fancy as much in this genre. When Strato’s Infinite or Polaris and, say, the over the top brilliance of Sabaton’s The Last Stand demand so many replays on their own, why waste time on something else?

Well, if you don’t keep an open ear you will miss out. Lancer have a lot to offer for fans of this genre, though some songs are much better than others. The strongest, from the battle ready and very well composed/confident “Freedom Eaters” to the epic Maiden-indebted but by all means rad “Envy of The Gods” or the album opening heavy metal charge of “Dead Raising Towers” are more than worth the purchase. Classic heavy metal is celebrated with aplomb, the band racing through some very demanding sections. Ewo Solvelius and Fredrik Kelemen on guitars pretty much steal the show on many of these numbers, keeping this a very guitar focused journey. The rhythm section are locked in and capable, keeping up but never tipping their hand, though you also get some awesome surprises from the quite thankfully audible bassist Emil Öberg who makes his mark in a jaw dropping way on the aforementioned “Freedom Eaters”, for instance.

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Album Review: Isis – “Live VII”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 3:12 PM (PST)

Isis continue their stellar run of live post-break up releases with Live VII, a fantastic document of a set focusing mainly on the Wavering Radiant-era. Panopticon favorite “Wills Dissolve” again makes an appearance (as it did on Live III) as do a few other older songs- including a massive set closing version of signature post-metal chug anthem “Celestial” that can’t help but make you feel nostalgically recall just how big this outfit could sound and what a hole they left behind. Still, the majority of the songs here are the lengthy and more progressive and melodic forays found on the band’s final opus. This nine-song set was recorded on Feb. 25, 2010, at The Corner hotel in Melbourne, Australia during the band’s Soundwave Festival appearabce.  Mr. Aaron Harris mixed the album.

Hearing these live documents in the series, which some Lambgoat comments section type trolls who have never done shit with their lives have called unessential, is really awesome for real fans. I personally love that, say, Ian Mackaye did his extensive Fugazi Live series through Dischord, as it allows for cool versions and the development of the band over time to literally be heard in an organic, non studio setting. Some live albums fall flat, but with bands as exciting as Fugazi or Isis, that is not the case. You are always going to be hearing something special each time. Personally, the one time I saw them I was pretty trashed so it is great to have at least a second audio chance, or third or fourth or SEVENTH in this case.

I am in the minority among most post-metal snobs who personally liked Wavering Radiant perhaps even more than some of their earlier classics. Post chumming with Tool in, I think it was 2006 or 2007, the band really started to stretch their material out even more and expand their vocabulary as players. I for one found it exciting, though some people just don’t have the patience for that. It was kind of a precursor to some of the Palms stuff, but there was still a fair measure of harsh vocals as well.

The Wavering Radiant stuff sounds positively alive on this release, the band’s excitement from this era palpable. The watery grandeur of the hypnotic opening to “Ghost Key” is breathtaking and the rhythmic guitar parts really cut through on this version as the song progresses. The brief post-huge crescendo quiet ending of “Threshold Of Transformation” is another stunning section, almost befitting a calm yet cosmic spaghetti western.

All in all this gets very high marks because it is not only so cool to hear more organic versions of “Hall of the Dead” and a fit to exploding “Holy Tears”, but the simple breadth of what the band accomplishes and the ground covered here is far beyond the reach of most groups.

 

Album Review: Aborym – “Shifting.negative”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 10:48 AM (PST)

Aborym always do something interesting, even if they will never be the type of project that will please everyone. That’s certainly never been the point of the band. That said, some people will never get over that they don’t sound like Fire Walk With Us anymore, an admittedly exceptional moment for the group. Still, Fabban has never been content to let the band become a repetitive copy of itself. Anyone with ears should try and trust that while the direction may shift, it will always be somewhat negative (haha, see what I did there?).

Dirty was more of a nihilistic party record, as shock rock as they have been in some ways. Shifting.negative has an all new line up backing Fabban, a very 90’s industrial type record that has some of the projects most dense textural layering yet. There is a lot to unpack here but the listener will find so much new ground with every listen. It is both organic and very electronic, a garden for the ears.

This is Aborym’s best SOUNDING record by far. Engineered by Emiliano Natali  and Luciano Lamanna,  mixed and mastered by Grammy-award winning Marc Urselli with post-production work from Guido Elmi, this album has some serious juice. Fabban has always had an amazing ear himself and has also gotten an insane array of cool guests for this one, from Ministry’s Sin Quirin to Youko Heidy and many more.

Read more below.