Monday, December 24, 2012
Haiduk - Spellbook (Band Request 2012) - This is a melodic death metal album like no other. It's intricately crafted and is more about creating an atmosphere than bashing you over the head. The one man powerhouse known as Haiduk (Luka Milojica) sent me this disc in the mail, and I immediately opened it up and checked out the booklet, which wasn't actually a booklet of lyrics. Sure, the songs were named and there were certainly words below each song heading; but I believe that the musician might be taking the name of this album, "Spellbook" quite literally. Of course, myself being an avid studier of the occult; I was certainly interested, but wanted to make sure that it wasn't some sort of hokum. Upon flickering through each incantation, the book outlined how one would create an undead, call upon a storm, a wind of plague, a self-protected force-field, (although I believe I have a certain friend who claims that he can make one that acts like a sort of metaphysical black hole, of course) the process of wielding fire and several other things that I'm not so sure as to their application in society.
The occult is a wonderful thing, but to paraphrase one of the members of Enslaved, "It can open up the mysteries of the universe, or it can be the first step towards hell." Of course, he wasn't talking about a sort of hell in the fact of devils and demons, but rather a hell in which one never leaves their surroundings, to get lost in dusty old tomes; just as some men have done ages ago. But regardless of the nature of the album, it is an experimental beast of a record, brimming with potential and some absolutely amazing riff structures. The drums on the album are programmed, but they seem to work well enough with the disc and Luka's vocals are scattered throughout the album in various growls that work to the advantage of the disc.
Now, I must tell you once again that "Spellbook" is not your ordinary death metal release. It relies heavily on guitar atmospheres and does a hell of a job with each and every one of them. Each song carries a different tone, but stays well within the lines of melodic death metal. Being a vocalist, I could certainly see where lyrics could be added in places, but he definitely wanted to showcase the instrumentations that sometimes get covered up with thick vocal lines. The majority of the disc is instrumental, but I don't find myself upset with that factor. It also helps to read the album's booklet while you're listening to each track, to get a feel of the incantation behind each instrumentation. For instance, while listening to "Hex", it may help to read the book's definition of Hex, and give you a sort of background for the music that you're hearing. A unique concept, but not everyone will buy it, of course.
There will certainly be those people who think that this album seems a little unfinished. Some of the songs only feature a line or two of vocals, and there are those of you who will still require that "extra element." However, if the music wasn't even as half as good as it is on this album, I would've also jumped in that boat. But there's just something about the catchy, hypnotic sense of the riff intricacies on this album that appeal to my ears and they certainly should appeal to yours. This guy is by no means a shredder of sorts, and I'm glad that a guitar-shred album is not what makes up this Spellbook. This album is all about making good leads and melodies, and showcasing your skill to others.
It also provides a worthy atmosphere to gaming. Perhaps this guy should look into composing game soundtracks, as these instrumental pieces are much better than some of the simplistic metal tracks that I've heard on a great deal of first-person shooters.
Whatever the case, I certainly would recommend that you give your full attention to this magickal work; and let yourself be swept up in the melodies of this powerful effort.
(10 Tracks, 47:00)
Hate Pain Gore Death Productions
Reviewing an album that's as seemingly untouchable as this one might prove to be very tricky, because either I'll come off as snake-oil salesman or some sort of metal fanboy, and those points of view are not ones that you want. But rest assured that there's a definite gem to be uncovered here, and not one that you'll soon forget. The band plays a melodic and sullen style of progressive death metal that certainly has an influence in black/doomers like PRIMORDIAL and Viking melo-deathers like AMON AMARTH. I also noticed a few tracks that remind me a bit of AGALLOCH, which is most certainly a good thing. From the very the opener of the disc, "Terra Soar" all of the way to it's closer, "A Drinking Song" which is anything but merry, these gentlemen prove that their music is certainly timeless and worth giving a shit about. The production quality is a little raw, but it certainly reminds me of early PRIMORDIAL. The drumming on this record plays around with tribal rhythms, frantic blasts and everything in between, the guitars showcase earfuls of amazing melodies; and the vocal approach from their frontman matches every musical effort with an element of unbridled, animalistic rage. This sophomore effort is more than just a worthy one, it's a disc that shows incredible musical structure, perfect chemistry, and an aura of forlorn darkness that only some of the best musicians can capture. In my professional opinion, these guys have the ability to catapult their way into underground cult status very quickly, so definitely check out this bleak and beautiful masterpiece of a record as soon as possible.
Despite noticing the wonderfully tongue-and-cheek album title in combination with the desolate cover, Love is an odd sort of disaster that also comes off as highly intriguing. Originally shelved for years, the band (who features in particular Lord K. Phillipson from THE PROJECT HATE) finally decided to bring this album to light in 2012 possibly fearing that the Mayans were right, (or perhaps just hoping that they were) and allowing Dan Swano to master it under Leukemia (the band's old name - they changed to Lame in 1994.) Whatever the case, 2012 was the right moment to bring out such a grand and chaotic beast of an album. It features everything that the genre of metal needs right about now, but certainly does a great job of reminding me of pre-Gossow Era ARCH ENEMY albeit with ten times more experimentation. Melodies ebb and flow throughout the disc and bring about some truly memorable guitar solos and overall riff structures in addition to the prog "Emotionally Dead", electronics, "Sad 2:59" and sorrowful doom-laden moments "Roses." This album really has an "anything goes" aura to it, as songs like "Hvrt" with it's odd beginning and down tuned nu-metal meets death feel, leave me extremely perplexed but wanting more. Despite the oddity of this disc, there are many surprisingly wonderful guitar passages that rival even some of Lord K's work in THE PROJECT HATE, where he is more well known. I certainly would recommend this one to fans of experimental metal, early ARCH ENEMY and definitely THE PROJECT HATE. Somebody needs to bend these gentlemen over and beat them, for they've been hiding a gem like this away in a vault for too long in my opinion. Certainly not a disc to pass up on this year, as you're doubtful to hear anything even remotely like it.
THE ADVENT EQUATION
Limitless Life Reflections
If you haven't heard of these Mexican extreme prog-metallers yet, you soon will. Though the album was rather late in coming out and didn't make any of the best album lists for 2012, it will hopefully make waves in the metal scene upon the album's official release. Being a definite fan of prog metal, I was completely enthralled by the disc and my eardrums were screaming for more. The melodies are absolutely mind-blowing, some of the best I've heard since OPETH's prime era, and the solos are remarkable. But this is due to the fact that the band sports not just one, but two impressive guitarists; Daniel Cordoba (who also does the band's clean and harsh vocals) and Luis Gomez. These guys seem to be able to snake their way through each and every track on the record, keeping up the pace with Roberto's (Roberto Charles) technical drumming and Esau Garcia's incredible use of keyboards. And when I mean incredible, I'm talking about soundscapes that remind me easily of SPOCK'S BEARD, DREAM THEATER, KING CRIMSON, AYREON, STAR ONE and several others in that vein. Not only that, but there is some rather impressive piano playing on the disc as well as some Latin percussions and flamenco that are dazzling, to say the very least. There are also beautiful sections of female vocal work and even some clean duets with the extremely talented bass player/vocalist, Margil H. Vallejo; but you'll also get some definite heavy portions on the record (albeit laden with piano) where Daniel belts out those trademark growls that you all would expect for the progressive death metal realms that this album mostly encompasses. The mastering on the disc was handled by Jens Borgen, and he's done an amazing job with this one - I can discern each and every instrument, as well as every effect used on the disc. In all honesty, the music that these guys create is truly nothing less than art, and every section of this masterpiece is executed beautifully. I would most certainly say that this work is on par with that of OPETH and would not be blaspheming in that regard, because it is really that good. When I hear some of the wonders that are being done here, I am beside myself with amazement. It's an absolutely fantastic disc from beginning to end.
Swallowed By The Ocean's Tide
These guys came out of nowhere with a Lovecraftian themed death metal album of monumental proportions. It begins with some heavy atmosphere and vocal chants to Cthulhu, and is then followed with a supersonic blast of pummeling death metal prowess that reminds me easily of SEPTIC FLESH and BEHEMOTH, two bands that I've always felt held the forefront of what one could refer to as epic death metal. Though you haven't gotten the privilege to hear this one yet, I can tell you with the utmost certainly that this album will be a sucker punch for next year that no one saw coming. M's vocals are completely chaotic, T's riffs are full of the blackened fire of DISSECTION's Reinkaos Era (an untouchable album in my opinion) and D's drumming is immense. This is how you want music that heralds in the arrival of his Cthonic majesty to sound and they've captured every spectre of that experience beautifully. This is the soundtrack to the end of all mankind at the hand of great and terrible gods and won't be soon forgotten or easily cast aside. In my years of experience with death metal, there have always been those rare albums that don't require words to explain. This is just one of those such albums and it's a mind-blowing debut from these German death metal titans. Go ahead and pre-order it now, because you'll wind up doing it anyway. H. P. Lovecraft has never sounded better.
ANGER AS ART
Old School Metal Records
Not familiar with this band one shred before now, I can certainly say that I've become a fan. Not only is the style of thrash that these guys play a little unique and differing on tones and presentation, but the band's frontman Steve Gaines has a vocal style that literally reminds me of the legend Bruce Dickinson (IRON MAIDEN/BRUCE DICKINSON/ EX-SAMSON.) And while I've heard Bruce wail on a few thrashers before, this is about as close as you'll get to hearing that vocal style on music that's this extreme. There's definite nods to death metal on this album, as well as slight bits of acoustic, groove and even female vocal scowls when Betsy Bitch (a woman who proves that females can do thrash) leaves her mark on a few of the tracks. There's also the track "Speed Kills" which was originally written in 1984 for Abattoir and is performed by all of the original members of that band, making it one of the last times you'll ever hear a new Abattoir song. Track after track on this album displays thrash in it's truest, most refined form and is recorded with a decidedly old-school production that doesn't hinder the quality by any means. Quite simply a blast from the past that should resonate with most thrash circles and most certainly a good chunk of metalheads worldwide. Don't miss out on this one. Thrash till death!
Magic Chaos Psychedelia
Greek black metallers ENSHADOWED haven't released an album in nine years, and that's because something like this really took time. Magic Chaos Psychedlia is an album that oozes with sludge - toxic, black and melodic hatred that spills out from every orifice of the disc. Very comparable to the masterworks of SECRETS OF THE MOON and DARK FORTRESS, this is black metal that's just as "hateful and nihilistic" as it claims to be. While I've listened to a great deal of black metal bands, there are few that I will actually go back and listen to a few times over and this is definitely one of those albums. The drums blast with a vengeance while the riffs drip with venom. But the vocal approach tops it all off, because it's not your standardized scowl and has more vocal depth, like it's coming from the very cesspool of human resentment. There is a certain fire in these words and those who can understand will feel this fire as well, this dissatisfaction with humanity and it's common ideals and an embellishment of all that is occult. The album was mixed by Fotis Bernado (Septic Flesh) and he is also featured on the album's title track, a ritualistic closer that flows from black metal into a session of occult worship, complete with chants and heavy atmospheres. This album truly resonates as modern black metal in the sense of what we should expect in this age, as compared to over-blown orchestral theatrics and art rock semblances. Definitely worth the wait.
Nepente - Suffering Is The Seed (PR2012) - I didn't know what kind of death metal to expect with this one, but I was glad to see that Nepente can do a lot more than just gravel and blasts. Of course, you might not be able to tell that at the very beginning, but let's keep in mind that most of the tracks on this album start out as groove-death and eventually become brutal death with a share of gravel and a demonic scream. It's very comparable to Kataklysm's In Shadows And Dust - which I don't know why I keep going back to that one, maybe it's because that disc is one of the only ones where I've heard the same kind of animalistic scream and blast the fuck out of the kit combo. Take "Hell Is The Name Of This Land 4:35" for example. I'm still wondering why the band even chose to incorporate deep growls at all. Obviously the scream/blast approach works myriads better and the gravel just comes in and kind of bores me. But vocals aside, the structure of this band is really brings them out to me. These guys know to do more than just straightforward riffs and even incorporate some melody into these tracks that only adds to the power of them. As I said, there's some definite groove mixed in amongst the blasts and those blasts might be accompanied by a memorable melody, not just some standard riffs.
But the fact that every song really has it's own feel really sets this apart from some releases that I've heard this year. Yes, there is A LOT of the scream/blast combo here, but I'd certainly say that these guys are picking off the best pieces of Kataklysm and other bands who do the same style that I have yet to encounter. Regardless of all this, the band embodies a certain kind of ferocity that you will just have to hear to ascertain. This album is anything but simplistic and features a variety of carefully calculated layers. While the drummer isn't blasting, he's also making some memorable hits that match the riffs and vocals perfectly. While it is unfortunate that I didn't catch any solos, there are plenty of well-rounded melodies that stop this disc from becoming just another death metal album. Oddly enough, I get the vibe of melodic black metal from this album at times which certainly can't hurt the band's nature any - it's wonderful to see a band that goes above and beyond trying to do something different, and it's often that I praise an act for doing so. One thing is assured, and that is the simple fact that there are probably more death metal bands out there than there are strands on my carpet, and hearing refreshing material like this is always welcomed here at the tower. Most certainly worth checking out.
(8 Tracks, 41:00)
Ion Vein - 2.0 (PR2012) - Ion Vein's latest effort has been a bit odd, to say the least. Mortal Music apparently decided to do a somewhat cloudy concept of taking what they call a "snapshot" of an album that will eventually released in a full physical form later on. But my only dilemma with this is that I'm not really hearing something that could succeed as a series of separate parts. This isn't some kind of grand progressive metal scheme, or great experiment - it's straightforward power/thrash with elements of prog metal. But in all honesty, I'm reminded quite a bit of Brainstorm. Which is good, because I love and have always loved Brainstorm's music, especially Ambiguity, Metus Mortis, and Soul Temptation. These three albums are power/thrash classics, and must be checked out immediately, if you haven't done so before. Ion Vein however, successfully attempts the emulation with "Seemless 3:22" and "This Is Me 4:29" which screams "BRAINSTORM!" and it's certainly just as catchy. Ion Vein do everything right, but I feel that I've been down this road before. Nevertheless, I would rather wait until the full release of the album and then check it out as a whole. I really don't think that singles or "snapshots" are applicable when reviewing an album and it seems as if I'm the one that's being tempted with a piece of food at a time, or perhaps fifteen minutes of foreplay every night. Eventually I'm either going to want the full measure of both of these things, which would equal either a satisfiably full stomach, or a pleasurable sexual release. My professional opinion would be to wait for the disc and to grab it at the end of the cycle. Though these songs were decent, I haven't heard anything that's begging me to tell you to grab this snapshot of an album that is more than likely finished and fully mastered.
Highlights: Seemless, This Is Me (3 Tracks, 11:00)
Agony Lords - A Tomb For The Haunted (PR2012) - Well, these guys have had quite a musical journey. They first started out as the band Ripping Flesh and released two tapes and a vinyl that received good reviews in the underground and are now considered collector's items. They then changed their name to the moniker you see here, back in 1992. These were "Unions", "Sun Of The Cursed" (which is considered to be their magnum opus) and "Nihilist Passion." These records were released on a slew of different record labels throughout the years and in 99, these guys split up. In 2008, they re-released a remastered version of "The Sun Of The Cursed" (Which this reviewer wants to get his hands on!) and now there's this - the band's fourth album.
"A Tomb For The Haunted" is certainly a good enough record, the melodies are strong and it's got fine structure. It just doesn't really feel like "death metal." But you can hear many different influences on the disc, from rock to prog to atmospheric influence and of course there's some of that modern metal/nu-metal sound that might not bode well with some individuals. But it's all there, and I might as well tell you now, so you're not bitching about it later. Personally, I think it's a rather bombastic work, quite layered and not shy on technicality, if that's your thing.
The album isn't a face-melter by any means, but it is an interesting disc with some interesting ideas and a band that sounds like they've still got it. Of course, Lord Brave's vocals aren't as gravelly as you might like and almost sound like he's trying to save his throat. I guess I can't blame him there. But if I'll mention any merits towards this band, those merits would be in Mauricio Barami and Jorge Inukai who both share guitar duties and meld together exceptionally well. It is this package that shines on each and every track of the record, despite the fact that you're not getting a machine gun drum approach and the songs seem to be more groove oriented than anything else.
I'll also mention that the band took the extra length to add that 11 minute track, and this one appears at the closer and shares the album's title, "A Tomb For The Haunted 11:09." Again, some of you might not like Baron's vocals that much, but despite what he's rattling on about over there; the guitars still manage to save the day and help this album from sinking too far behind the pack. While I don't think it will be heavily recognized, I definitely would be an ignoramus to deny some of the great musical passages that I've heard on this one; regardless of the fact that it feels more like gothic groove/thrash and less like death metal.
However, I can agree that the band does have it's moments of Venom, King Diamond, Sentenced and Death. This is not overblown PR market speak - I'm certainly hearing these influences in the music, so fans of those bands might want to go ahead and give this a spin. But with the Venom influence, think later Venom, not the earlier stuff - with Death, the latter (technical) era. There are also King Diamond like theatrics at play here, and it does also manage to capture some moments of deathier Sentenced. If you're in the mood for dark gothic thrash with experimentation in the realms of death metal, funeral doom and technicality; then check out this disc. Just don't expect unrelenting brutality, because it's not here.
(10 Tracks, 54:00)
Maveth - Coils Of The Black Earth (PR2012) - Maveth's official debut offers the relentless beating that you've been asking for this year. While it's certainly one of the many metal beatings that you can still experience in 2012, it's an onslaught nonetheless. The most vile form of evil breathes through this release, complete with furious drums, dreadful riffs and a true gravel approach to vocals. This is the very textbook definition of death metal that could sit comfortably next to your new Nominon and Incantation discs that you've more than likely already purchased this year. Even though mags seems to say otherwise, this year has also been great for death metal.
The disc features some lengthy songs, but they will certainly keep your attention with the dreadful atmosphere that they invoke. This is an album drenched in the blackest of arts, covered in the blood of sacrifice and full of hatred towards every false religion that's ever been shoved on to mankind. But with a frontman who goes by the moniker of ChristButcher, you should know well what to expect. Though the work is certainly solid, I don't think that this dark ritual was quite as good as others that I've heard this year. It's certainly better than mediocre, but seems to follow one path and never veer from that path. If anything can be said, for this band, it's in ChristButcher's vocal approach which truly makes this grim atmosphere what it is.
Quite simply, Maveth's debut is grim death metal that's about as grim as this fucking tower; but it's certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, especially since many discs like it have come out in recent months and have succeeded in areas where it has not. I'd certainly recommend it to fans of only the most brutal and extreme death metal. Because that's what it is.... pure fucking evil.
(10 Tracks, 58:00)
Sticky Boys - This Is Rock N' Roll (PR2012) - This three-piece of classic rockers might work for some of you, but if you've had your fill of ACDC and KISS clones like I have, then you'll understand exactly what I'm talking about. Not that the music is bad mind you; it's just that I've heard it before - the riffs, the drumming, the vocals (even though they're a bit dirtier than I'd like) and the overall package. This could be more or less just a bunch of guys that wanted to emulate their idols, and that's completely understandable. Maybe they're just trying to bring the traditional sound of Rock n' Roll back to the masses, but I really don't think there's anyone out there who doesn't know what that is, unless they're still teething perhaps... and even then, there's some rockin' toddlers.
Song after song plods along on the disc in the most unmemorable way possible, but it's done justice and the production quality warrants the classic sound of ACDC. So fans of ACDC might really jump up on this. The solos are pretty good too, but the fact that the riff structures on this album are more or less carbon copies of riffs that ACDC has already done at one point in time, make the disc just forgettable. For a guy that played more than his share of Back In Black, I'm not really hearing anything here that's knocking me off my feet. It's Rock n' Roll alright, but I don't feel that it's bringing anything different to the table. I could play this in front of some guys well versed in classic rock and they'd tell me immediately, "Why are we listening to some ACDC knockoff?" As much as I want to respect the band's hard work, there's not much to be said in plowing through restructures of ACDC cover songs with new lyrics.
Rock n' Roll ain't noise pollution, but this disc certainly might be closer to another "p" word, which I will not mention. But upon listening to the disc, you can certainly tell what that is. Still, I guess you could just call these guys a tribute band and escape all the red paint.
(11 Tracks, 40:00)
Stone Magnum - Stone Magnum (PR2012) - This is what traditional doom metal sounds like when it's made by six older dudes who like traditional doom metal. In particular, I'm hearing a great deal of Black Sabbath, especially on opener "Fallen Priest 7:33" where Ozzy vocal emulation is rampant. I almost question myself and wonder if I'd rather just be listening to old Black Sabbath discs. But then I continue listening to the disc and find that it does have some great moments.
First off, you'll hear some great riff structures and melodies on the album that certainly make it sound a little more than mediocre and that's a good thing. The solos on the disc also kill and that's one more good thing. I'll also need to mention that the Ozzy emulation on that first song doesn't really seem to appear on the other tracks, but catchy numbers like "Locksmith Of Misery 8:04" add a grimier vocal approach that just seems to work and introduce what almost seems like another band. This continues with "Savior In Black 5:15" and "Pictures Of Your Life 4:47" which lets loose with some thrashier territory, and that's always welcome. "Grave Of Cryptic Sorrows 5:51" brings back slower territory, and with it a powerful chorus. "Rolling Storm 5:31" brings the Ozzy vocal emulation back, but also further reminds us that these guys are musically versatile and able to create some memorable instrumental portions. The last one is "Am I Really Insane? 5:12" which features some great end melodies, but struggles in the buildup.
All in all, Stone Magnum isn't the best doom metal act that I've ever heard. I'm still getting into the genre of traditional doom, as I've not heard much of it - but with time I should become more versed in the genre as it's got the very birth of heavy metal within it's roots. Stone Magnum do offer some great instrumental atmospheres, and some worthwhile playing. They're worth checking out, but I do feel that I've heard better acts in the past few months.
Highlights: Fallen Priest, Locksmith Of Misery, Savior In Black, Grave Of Cryptic Sorrows (7 Tracks, 42:00)
Chapel Of Disease - Summoning Black Gods (PR2012) - This is Chapel's debut album, after just one "real" demo tape. Though the band has been together since 2008, the demo tape didn't release until 2011; so it's unclear what the band was up to before that time. But at any rate, the band plays along the lines of classic death metal with a doom-laden approach (and I don't mean funeral doom, I'm referring to the bluesy Sabbath style of doom) that should appeal to most, if not damn near all fans of metal. I know that you people might think that I've just been too busy to care about score or ratings, but that's not the case. I've given a lot of 9's and 10's recently, because I've literally heard material like this album, that resonated with me personally. You may feel that some of the discs that I've enjoyed heavily are not to your liking, but I am entitled to my opinion and have been told that it's a worthy enough one. I won't claim to be the be-all, end-all when it comes to metal, but I've never lied about albums that I didn't care for.
This is one of those discs that I would certainly consider to be among one of the better releases. Though some of you have more than likely heard this style of death metal done before, I've certainly liked everything that I've heard from it. There's a great deal of structure, the ghastly vocals sound "fucking brilliant" and the riffs and solos are everything that I would personally expect for a death metal album. There are some great classic solos on this record, showing that these guys truly know what they're doing even if you've probably heard music like this before. The production on the disc is also one of it's high points, because it doesn't feature a lot of gloss, which would destroy the classic feel that the band was going for. This is classic death metal in every sense of the word, and even IF you've fucking heard it before; I'd be an idiot to tell you just to pass it by. I know for a fact that there are some of you old heads looking for stuff in the vein of early Death, Obituary, Entombed and probably a slew of other bands tha play the style of death metal that you enjoyed in the early 90's.
So if you're sick of "core", "djent", "technicality", "clean vocals" and everything else that composes metal these days, perhaps Chapel Of Disease has the cure for your illness. But it's like they say - sometimes you need another virus to cure what's already making you sick. And with some fantastic tracks like "Dead Spheres 4:26" and the awesome closer "The Loved Dead 8:33" this is one disease that you'll want to have.
(8 Tracks, 43:00)
Deceptor - Chains Of Delusion (PR2012) - I wish I had more information about this one, but I don't. All I can tell you, is that it's a three piece power metal act with some extreme metal influence. The frontman certainly takes influence from Rob Halford and the rest of the band seems to carry that same torch. The album cover seems reminiscent of Judas Priest, and even song titles like "Heatseeker 4:18" seem to be signposts that point in the direction of NWOBHM. Of course, you will also hear a couple of prog influenced sections, but it's really nothing unlike what I've heard from Iron Maiden. One might even hesitate to call them prog, perhaps we would be better calling them slight bits of tech or riff structure changes. At any rate, the band is able to craft listenable atmospheres that follow the frontman's Priestly approach, which sometimes gets a little deeper and reaches into death metal. But to call this power/death would be misleading.
Just keep in mind that the band does like to experiment and comes across as an experimental NWOBHM at their purest. The quality of the disc is low and I would've liked to hear it better; but this is just an EP that is less than 20 minutes offering a good enough atmosphere to either make you a fan or foe in it's playing time. I'd personally like to hear more of this, seeing how this mix of Priest, Maiden, Death, and Halloween might evolve in the future. All four of these tracks are good, but I'd recommend that you give it a listen first.
(6 Tracks, 19:00)
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Country of origin: Brazil
Location: Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul
Formed in: 2000
Genre: Power Metal
Lyrical themes: Fantasy, Life
Current label: Voice Music
Years active: 2000-present
Gustavo Strapazon: Bass
See also: ex-Holyfire, ex-Lápide
Francis Cassol: Drums
See also: ex-Holyfire
Renato Osório: Guitars
See also: Fighterlord, Hibria, Magician
Magnus Wichmann: Guitars
See also: ex-Holyfire
Fabio Juan: Vocals (2010-present)
THE INTERVIEW (With Francis Cassol (Drums)
1. "The Sniper" is an incredible piece of work. I'm sure it took a long time to craft and every track shows that hard work was put in. I was literally blown away by this one, so thanks for that. But could you talk about the recording process for the disc? What was the toughest part of that process?
First of all thanx for the incredible words about our new album. It really means a lot that so many people around the world are enjoying it and giving us the greatest feedback.
Yes, there was a lot of hard work put into the tracks, we were very careful during the writing process, with the demos, arrangements, and all. About the recording process, the drums were recorded in Germany, in the Blind Guardian Studios – Twilight Hall Studios -, and it was produced by Charlie Bauerfeind. Charlie is the most requested metal producer in Europe, he has a very tight schedule because he works with some of the greatest European metal bands such as Helloween, Blind Guardian, Motörhead, Halford, Saxon, Hammerfall, among others and records amazing metal drummers like Mikkey Dee, Mike Terrana, Anders Johansson, Dani Löeble and others. So it was quite an experience for me, as the band’s drummer, to record with Charlie. Not to mention that he is a drummer himself, so he really knows what he’s doing. But I was prepared, rehearsed and practiced the songs for months and things turned out great. We had a great relationship and a great time.
The rest of the band recorded in Brazil, and it wasn’t easy because of our dayjobs and because our singer, Fabio Juan, lives in São Paulo and the rest of the band is from Porto Alegre, that’s over 600 miles away. That was the toughest part for sure. So when we had to record him he had to fly all the way in from São Paulo on weekends. I believe he came 5 or 6 times so he could nail it. Vocals, guitars, bass and piano were recorded in home studios and produced by guitarist Renato Osorio, then Charlie re-amped the guitars and bass, mixed and mastered in Germany and sent the files over to us and to the labels.
2. My jaw dropped when I heard that Andi Deris and Paul Di'Anno were on this record, not only as guests; but as composers and co-writers of the disc. How did all of this come about? And furthermore, what was it like working with these metal legends?
We’ve been playing with Paul DiAnno for 4 years now, Scelerata is Paul’s backing band in Brazil. We developed a very strong friendship through the years, and when we started working on the album we knew we wanted him singing. And he was very open, agreed right away. So I sent him the song and we asked him to write the words and the melody for the fast part in the mid-section of the song ‘In My Blood’. We wanted him to create, because music flows through his veins in a way you wouldn’t believe. We took him to the studio in a day-off during the 2011 tour and he nailed it very fast. It was so fast that we had the time to record his parts for ‘Rising Sun’. It made our day!
Andi’s song came to us thanks to Charlie and to our lead singer Fabio Juan. We sent the demos over to Charlie and he showed some of our stuff to Andi, who really liked Fabio’s voice. So he offered us the song, which was kind of hard to believe! Of course we accepted this amazing gift, after all this is Andi Deris, Helloween’s lead singer and an amazing song writer. When we heard the song, we were completely blown away! It’s a beautiful song that could have easily been on a Helloween album. We are very thankful to Andi.
3. What does the name Scelerata mean? Who came up with it?
‘Scelerata’ comes from the latin language, and it means something like ‘rioter’, or ‘bad influence’. Also there is a roman legend where ‘scelerata’ was the name of a portal, gateway, and who ever passed that portal would have its fate written and doomed. But the main reason why we chose this name is because how close it sounds to ‘accelerated’ phonetically speaking, in the Portuguese language, which is our native language here in Brazil. The band’s former guitar player Rod Velasco came up with this name, over 10 years ago.
4. Most of your current band members were in a Christian group called Holyfire. I was surprised to know this. I have nothing against the faith, "to each their own" as they say; but what is your opinion on Christian metal?
Magnus Wichmann (G), Gustavo Strapazon (B) and myself were in Holyfire, from 2001 to late 2004. Actually the intention of the band Holyfire wasn’t to be a Christian band. We don’t have anything against it either, but we never intended to limit our fan base. The thing is that Holyfire’s singer, Marcio Machado, wrote the lyrics and we actually liked it, and it didn’t have such a Christian appeal. It was more about clonation, religious conflicts in the mid-east, human behavior, etc. To be honest I’m not sure why people classified the band’s music as Christian, but that’s ok. Some people used to say the same about Scelerata, but with ‘The Sniper’ I don’t think they will anymore. Like I said, we don’t have anything against Christian metal, like we don’t have anything against Black, Glam, Death, etc. I think you have to make real and truthful music and whatever makes you happy.
5. We're usually accustomed to devils and skulls and such in this genre; but as of lately there's been a lot of crosses and bibles. What is your opinion on some of these darker bands? Do you think it's all just an act, that none of them actually know what hell really might be?
That’s a tricky question because what is hell anyway? Does it really exist or does each person come up with their own hell? The only thing that I don’t like is when things get violent, like animal sacrifices, burning churches and stuff like that.
It’s very hard to question people’s faith and beliefs. Like I said before, you have to do whatever makes you happy, what keeps you going, since it doesn’t harm other people or the environment.
6. How do your friends and family react to the fact that you're in a heavy metal band?
I don’t know, but they act like they are proud. My friends are always at the shows, they buy the CD’s, t-shirts and stuff and help us promote the band, which is very cool. However I believe my parents would rather see my working as an architect (I have the degree), but I think they’re happy too.
7. What are some bands or musicians that you have really enjoyed as of late, in any genre of music?
If I was gonna list them all, we’d be here for days, so I’ll try to summarize! I love classical music like Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven, I love black and funky music from the 70’s, but mostly I’m into rock music. Let’s see, leaving heavy/power metal aside, I must say my all time favorite artists are The Beatles, Queen, Rush, Dream Theater, Metallica, Guns n Roses, Pantera, The Ramones, Van Halen... it’s just so many bands... I’m also intro instrumental music like Yanni, Frank Solari, and I’m a huge Bob Marley fan as well.
8. The album has many different lyrical concepts. But some of my favorite are "Must be Dreaming" and of course, "The Sniper." Could you explain these concepts further, and the intermission track "Money Painted Red?" I wasn't able to understand it, but I'd like to know how it relates to the concept of "The Sniper."
Yes, like I said before, we were very careful writing the album, and that applies to the lyrics as well. ‘The Sniper’ was inspired in the Brazilian political scene. Politics here are so disgusting that people just don’t take it seriously anymore – that’s one of the meanings of the clown in the front cover. Politicians rob from the people, the press finds out, but there is no punishment, and in the next election they are all back!!! And worst, they get elected!!! It’s like people gave up, because you can’t trust anyone. That is a shame, because when you don’t care, it gives the politicians a chance to do even more crap. So ‘the sniper’ would be the guy that would start cleaning up by killing the bad apples. Of course this is just a story, we’re totally against violence, but the ‘do it yourself’ thing seems like an option these days.
This is a way to criticize not only the politicians, but also our entire society, because the politicians are just a reflection of the people. So we’re kind of asking people to re-think their behavior in small things, by not cutting in line, not passing in the red light, stuff like that. Little wrong things people do every day.
The intermission brings parts of speeches from some famous Brazilian politicians with an orchestra of guitars in the background playing the melody of the chorus of the song ‘The Sniper’. And in the end there is a gunshot... the end of this story I’ll leave it up to your imagination!
9. They say that all music is an expression of one's soul, that it carries a message. What message are you trying to convey with "The Sniper?"
There was only one message we were thinking about when writing and recording this album, and that was to bring people a heartful music. We want people to feel the way we do about these songs, to transmit how much love we put into making and recording these songs and how much we enjoy playing them. Every drum and cymbal pounding, every melody from the vocals, every guitar and bass riff were recorded with a very hard d**k, if you know what I mean. I believe that is the real key to success, to be truthful and honest about your work, especially when it’s related to art, because when it’s not, it becomes disposable. People know what is real music and what is fake.
10. Tell me a little about your gear. What are you currently jamming with, and what bands/musicians inspired you to pick up your drum kit?
My drum set is inspired not in a specific drummer, but in the metal context. I play with a Ludwig drum kit with two kick drums 22”, two tom-toms 10” and 12” and two floor toms, a 14” (on my left) and a 16”. My snare is a Tama StarClassic 14”x6,5”, and I play with two 19” crash cymbals, two 18” crashes, two 19” chinas, two splashes 10” and 8”, two 14” hi-hats (one on my right), one 20” ride cymbal and a 12” stax cymbal mini-china + splash. I play with Pearl Eliminator pedals and C. Ibañez drumsticks.
11. You guys have had many tours, I'd imagine. Do you have any interesting stories that you could share with us?
FC: Well, yeah, I could go on and on talking about unexpected events that happen on tour, but I’ll just mention one! The day after the last show of the Paul DiAnno tour last year, we had to be at the airport at 2:00 PM. So everybody got up, had breakfast and was waiting at the hotel lobby around noon for the van that would pick us up and drive us to the airport. But the driver was taking forever, and we were starting to get nervous and worried about the flight. The guy appeared around 1:30 PM, and we knew we would never make it. After calling the driver all kinds of names, we tried anyway, but the airport was so far away that it never happened. Things got very stressful and ugly. The local promoter had to re-buy all the tickets and we had to go all the way back to the hotel and check in once again. We all ended up on different flights that only left at dawn, it was a mess but we survived. Luckily there was no show that night! Later on we discovered there were undercover police cars escorting us to the airport because they were worried things could get out of hand. Of course nothing happened.
12. What do you guys do when you're not making music? What hobbies do you enjoy?
I’m a lot into soccer, I support the local soccer team from Porto Alegre called Grêmio. I love hanging out with friends and family, share some beers and laughter. Also I’ve been reading, researching and learning a lot for the past 6 months about the atrocities that happen in farm factoring and about (the lack of) animal rights.
13. I live in the states and of course we're having some major troubles here, and an election which literally has some people frightened and scared to death of its outcome. What do you think of our country, and what are your current impressions of Brazil?
I believe most of the world sees Brazil as an economical rising country, but truth is things are very screwed up over here. I already mentioned the political scene, politicians and stuff, so you can see things can’t be good. Urban violence is growing day after day in major cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre, and that is making everyone crap their pants. Cars being robbed at gun point, schools and hospitals robbed too... they just don’t care. But at the same time people are very kind, heartful and mellow. We love receiving people from other countries and all. Not to mention the natural beauties, such as our beaches, rain Forest, etc.
The impression I have about the USA is the best. I lived in the USA for four years and a half as a child, and it couldn’t have been better. Me and my brother had a great childhood. We lived in West Lafayette, Indiana, a very small town, in the Tippecanoe County, so I’m very connected to the USA. Of course we know that the US government has been hard on 3rd world countries, with the neo-colonialism and stuff, responds too much with violence and war sometimes, but we also know that it doesn’t come from the people. We are aware of your political situation, but I’m sure things will turn out fine for you.
14. Society has certainly gone down the tubes as of late, and corporate greed and wealth has skyrocketed beyond sound means. What are some ways that you think we could fix the problems in society and the world?
Well, the way I see it, people and companies don’t know how to live in peace with Mother Nature. I keep cracking my head to try to understand why we are at war with the environment. There is no problem to kill and destroy if it’s in the name of money. Millions of dollars invested every year in technologies on how to kill more for less money, and that means more and more cruelty and devastation. There has been no respect for other forms of life from the past 50 to 60 years. Money is NOT the most important thing in the world, and I wish people could see that. I think it should be the other way around. Instead of investing on how to be more stressed and make more money, people should be more introspective, look more inside of themselves and be more in touch with nature, which is for me the only way to cure mankind and save the environment. Of course that won’t happen over night, money still talks very loud and governments and corporate will never tell you to stop consuming, so that’s something that must begin with ourselves as individuals.
Thank you very much for your answers and for such an amazing record.
Thank you for all the support and help in spreading the word about Scelerata. It’s great to see how music from humble South America reached and touched you. Thanks for that and hopefully we’ll see you on the road! Don’t forget to visit the band on the internet and to purchase the real deal! It’s on Amazon and other online shops, so no excuses!
Visit us at:
http://WWW.scelerata.com, http://WWW.facebook.com/scelerataofficial, http://WWW.twitter.com/scelerata, http://WWW.youtube.com/scelerataonline
And purchase the album here: http://nightmarerecords.com/NMR/online-store/pgxso-product-details/prx-988/ctx-1
This third opus from Brazilian power/thrashers SCELERATA definitely took me by surprise. At first, I had no idea what to expect; but as soon as the disc cranked up with the onslaught of opener "Rising Sun" I was completely hooked. The drums pound, the guitars snake their away around with every little melody and solo, and the soaring vocal performance from Fabio Juan reminds me more of the legendary Germans HELLOWEEN than anyone else. But perhaps that's because Andi Deris (HELLOWEEN) and Paul Di' Anno (ex-IRON MAIDEN) are not only guests on the album, but they also composed and co-wrote this great work. Being a fan of power metal for several years and finding little to like from the genre especially since HAMMERFALL's hammer is getting rusty, and only finding Japanese bands like ANIMETAL USA and GALNERYUS to be of any real merit, this album gives me a great sense of hope for the genre. This is every bit what power metal should sound like, with bombastic choruses, thundering riffs and hearty melodies, and a drummer behind the kit who isn't afraid to mix things up a little. Trust me, folks - there is little on this album that is not to like. While not all of the songs are as fast and mighty as "Road To Death" or "Till The Day We Die" the ballad "Must Be Dreaming" is certainly worth hearing, with it's odd melody structure and soaring vocal performance. But the real icing on the cake? The disc's closer, "The Sniper." This is the very definition of "epic power metal finale" that you were looking for. With this bombastic release, SCELERATA proves that they're able to re-light the power metal torch that seems to have been extinguished in the fuzz of technicality, djent, and deathcore. The special edition of this disc features two more tracks and some live performances that this reviewer wasn't given the privilege to hear, so definitely check that one out. SCELERATA might very well be the saviours of power metal, and they couldn't have come not a moment too soon.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Country of origin: United States
Location: Deland, Florida
Formed in: 2007 Genre: Power/Thrash Metal
Lyrical themes: Fantasy, Battles, George R.R. Martin
Current label: Nightmare Records
Keith Byrd: Drums (2007-present)
See also: ex-Cast Asunder
Kevin Byrd: Guitars (2007-present)
Camden Cruz: Guitars (2007-present)
See also: ex-This Solemn Vow
Sabrina Valentine: Vocals (2009-present)
Aaron Sluss: Bass (2010-present)
See also: Vermiform
THE INTERVIEW (With Camden Cruz (Guitars) and special input by Sabrina Valentine (Vocals)
1. I first want to start this interview by saying how impressed I am with the content of this new release. Forgive the flattery, but this literally does sound like Blind Guardian with an incredible female vocal performance. I've listened to your album twice already, and the songs are still playing in my head. For a band who started out just doing this for fun, did you ever expect to become so popular?
Camden: Haha, well thank you very much! It’s always nice to see that the album is having such a great reaction! We really like what we do and genuinely love the music. We hope that we get to play lots of shows in 2013 and bring the music to the masses!
2. Speaking of Blind Guardian, (a band which I am more than completely familiar with) they hand-picked you to open for their 2010 North American tour. What was going through your heads at that time? I mean, these guys are absolute legends in the genre, they practically had a hand in conceiving it. It must have been a life-changing experience. What was it like playing on the same stage with these guys?
Camden: It was definitely a dream come true. I always joked with Kevin and Keith the whole time we have been a band that our first tour would be with Blind Guardian. Who-da-thunk? Haha, a little band from Florida getting their feet wet for the first time, it was very terrifying the first show or too but we learned really quick! I wish we could have played another 25 dates after the last show! They were really good guys and very nice. They also had the nicest crew and tour manager ever!
3. What was the recording process like for the new album? What was the toughest part of that process?
Camden: Well it was much more together this time. There was a lot more of riff trading and just helping each other constructing a song. We also spent some time to make sure it was right. The hardest part was coming up with the cold hard cash to get it done. We have to bring our material in the highest definition possible so Morrisound is always the choice, and its right here in Tampa!
4. This question is for the frontwoman, Sabrina Valentine. First of all, I really have to say that I like what you add to the band. I know there have been a few bands out there that use the female touch with power metal (Vision Divine) but your vocals work incredibly well with the material. These days, more women are coming into metal music, which I personally think is a great thing. I think bands like Evanescence and Lacuna Coil helped to spark that seed, but it has grown into bands like yourself, Arch Enemy and Huntress, which show much more maturity and structure. What is your opinion of women in metal and how do people receive your band when you're playing shows? I hear all the time about idiots who holler obscene things in the crowd because the vocalist is a woman.
Sabrina: Well thank you! I'm glad you like what you hear. I believe in this style of music you have to have a different sound in order to be noticed among the sea of new bands that pops up every day. Being a woman is both a privilege and a challenge. Women are just as able as men and one day I truly hope everyone excepts us with open arms (just as we have the men) the truth of it is, women really look up to the men. It's like watching a big brother show you how to do things. You want to be just like them and be loved just like them... But the hard part is the way women are perceived. Your only acceptable if your beautiful (by a great percentage of the fans/media) and to the rest, you better have something that stands out or you get called a Nightwish rip off or the next blah blah blah. As far as shows go, I believe by the time we leave the stage the people who didn't think twice about us have become a fan. We have something real to offer, in both talent and in person. We are the kids next door, the ones out in our practice unit till all hours of the night writing music that we hope changes not only our lives but our fans... We are the believers and the doers that just wanted to show the world there are something's you can truly believe in, yourself. People see and feel that, and it changes them into a fan for life. Just ask Joe Foster, he'll tell you all about it :)
5. What was the worst fan-reaction that you guys have received, and how did you guys handle it?
Camden: Honestly, I’m not sure. If there was ever anything you just brush it off the shoulders ;)
6. I'm sure you guys have some great stories from being on the road. Everybody usually does. What are some interesting or funny stories that you can share with us from the tour?
Haha. if this interview is published online, here are some great videos from the Blind Guardian tour!
7. Who came up with the name Seven Kingdoms? I'm sure it refers to the seven kingdom's in George R. R. Martin's "A Song Of Ice And Fire" but was it a set name from the get-go? What were some other band names that you were throwing around at the time?
Camden: Originally Bryan approached me with the names inspired by the book series: Dragonstone, Valaria and Seven Kingdoms - I immediately said, Seven Kingdoms \m/
8. I noticed a great deal of Game Of Thrones content, not only in the band's name, but in several of the tracks including "The Fire Is Mine" which I believe is a song about Daeneryus finding the strength to get over Kal Drogo's death by making dragons rise from the ashes of his pyre. (Yes, I am also reading the books.) Who does the majority of the lyric writing, and explain the process of coming up with ideas which mirror the mythology of the series so well?
Camden: Bryan usually helps with the Martin songs, he’s a fantastic lyricist. He kinda gives us a story and we make it fit the song. It works well. Now several of us are making it through the series it could get pretty deep! Lol But other than these, we just write the stories ourselves, anything that’s cool and sounds good.
9. I also noticed an intermission track called "A Debt Made In Steel." I don't recall this be taking from the television series, so was this acted by members of the band? If so, it's a great job. You guys might want to consider acting.
Camden: Haha, yes we wanted to bring a little part of the book to life in that one, and it hasn’t been done yet so we made it, The legendary Jim Morris is actually one of the voices! Can you guess which one?
10. This is for the axemen in the band. Your solos are absolutely tremendous, on par with some of the best solos from Blind Guardian that I've played air guitar to. Could you talk a little about what equipment you use, how long you've been playing, and what bands/musicians inspired you guys to pick up the guitar?
Camden: Kevin and I have been using ENGL ever since we had the chance to own them. They are a key ingredient in our sound and we consider them the best amps on the market for metal guitarists. Kevin has been playing the longest Probably for 8-10 years? Myself I am on 6 years going on 7.
11. What are some bands that you guys are currently into in the metal scene, or in music in general?
Camden: We mostly listen to power metal in general but we also branch off a little into other genres. Aaron is our resident extreme metal guy. He usually keeps us posted on good Death, Melo-death, Black and stuff like that. There are a few local bands in the area that are good. One that comes to mind is the band Wirethrone. They should be releasing their first album in early 2013 so watch out for them ;)
12. What do you guys do when you're not playing music? Any hobbies, or interesting things that you do outside of the band?
Camden: We’re Working! Hahaha making as much money as possible to throw at our future goals. Other than that, we are video game heads, writing new music or cooking! I love to cook! I have a goal to be on food network, even as a guest, before I die!
13. Here's an interesting question. What are some ways that you think we could improve the world, or society in general? Is there anything about this generation that really irks you?
Camden: If more people listened to Seven Kingdoms! Haha nahh but honestly I think it would have to start with some transparency in the USA government but who really knows when or if that will happen? The Media over here is also a huge culprit. Depending on which news station you watch, you get one side or another, never anything ‘right or true’. Someone is always paying someone. I think our generation will have to step up to the plate and fix this heap of a mess we have here. Time to get to work!!!
14. If you guys could compose a song with any other bands/musicians, who would they be and what would the song consist of? What would you call it?
Camden: Oh man, well we would have to have a flock of guest vocalists right off the bat. Im sure that would include Hansi, Stu Block, Kai Hansen and Andy Deris, minimally. We would have a few guests guitar solos from Jani (ex- sonata arctica, I would FIND him and make him do it), Christian Muenzer (obscura), Michael Romeo and Paul Gilbert. I think we could tackle the other guitars, bass and drums ;) Of course this song would be the most power metal thing of all time! Imagine Avantasia Pt 1, but even more power metal!!!!!
15. Is there anything else that you think we should know about the band, or it's message?
Camden: not really lol! We are just a bunch of normal people trying to make our mark on the world doing something we love. I just thank everyone that has followed us in our journey so far and hope for their continued support! We are far from done ;)
Thanks for such a mind-blowing power/thrash disc. These ears really needed it. I wish you guys the best of luck, and hope that you'll continue to take the metal world by storm.
Camden: Hey, thanks man! We appreciate the time and hope everyone gets a chance to hear “The Fire Is Mine”!
The Fire Is Mine
SEVEN KINGDOMS are a wonderfully fantastic power/thrash band from Florida, much in the vein of legends like BLIND GUARDIAN. One would be perfectly sound in saying that these guys (and gal) sound just like BLIND GUARDIAN with a female vocalist, and however blasphemed you might feel by that statement; you only feel that way because you haven't heard this album yet. The disc thrashes with new classics like "After The Fall", "Flame Of Olympus", "The Fire Is Mine" and closer "The King In The North" and that's just for starters. The solos on this thing are just as immense as some of the solos I'd expect from BLIND GUARDIAN's early thrashers "Born In A Mourning Hall", "Somewhere Far Beyond" and "Traveller In Time" for example. The album even incorporates the background choirs in a couple of the tracks, which really add to the atmosphere that these guys were trying to achieve and successfully did. But not all of the songs are perfect, despite the dual guitar onslaught and thundering drum barrage, and there is an acoustic ballad here "Kardia" that follows the title track and kills the mood for me. I know there will be fans out there who will like this, but I personally would've rather had more thrash. Also, "Forever Brave" is a little weaker as well as the groovier "Symphony Of Stars" despite the fact that the track does showcase some good melodies. However, I know of people that will also eat this one up and the chorus does manage to capture Hansi's Kursch's vocal acrobatics, which I found intriguing. There's also a modern approach taken to "Fragile Minds Collapse" which might not appeal to fans of the classic style of power/thrash. I also might mention that while there are eleven tracks here, only nine of them are actual songs. Despite all of this, I still think that Seven Kingdoms and their amazing Siren on vocals Sabrina Valentine, have brought much to the world of power metal. But not only that, they've also helped to further bring down the barrier that metal is man's game, as she seems to be able to hold up just as well, if not better than any man I've heard in the genre of power/thrash. Her soaring vocals are more than enough to carry this album throughout all of the twists and turns that this band takes as they weave you through Greek Mythology, the worlds of George R.R. Martin and many other lands of mystical enchantment. An absolute must for the power metal fan.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
The Advent Equation - Limitless Life Reflections (PR2012) - If you haven't heard of these Mexican prog-metallers yet, you soon will. Though the album was rather late in coming out and didn't make any of the best album lists for the year, it has already been considered an undiscovered gem by some reviewers, and will hopefully make waves in the metal scene upon the album's official release.
Being a definite fan of prog metal, I was completely enthralled by the disc, and my eardrums were screaming for more. The melodies are absolutely mind-blowing, some of the best I've heard since Opeth's prime era, and the solos are remarkable. But this is due to the fact that the band sports not just one, but two impressive guitarists, Daniel Cordoba (who also does the band's clean and harsh vocals) and Luis Gomez. These guys seem to be able to snake their way through each and every track on the record, keeping up the pace with Roberto's (Roberto Charles) technical drumming and Esau Garcia's incredible use of keyboards. And when I mean incredible, I'm talking about soundscapes that remind me easily of Spock's Beard, Dream Theater, King Crimson, Ayreon and several others in that vein. Not only that, but there is some rather impressive piano playing on the disc as well as some Latin percussions and flamenco that are dazzling, to say the very least. These gentlemen are masters of soundscapes, the music they create is truly nothing less than art. This is something that took a great deal of effort to create, and every section of this masterpiece is executed beautifully.
There are also beautiful sections of female vocal work and even some clean duets with the extremely talented bass player/vocalist, Margil H. Vallejo; but you'll also get some definite heavy portions on the record (albeit laden with piano) where Daniel belts out those trademark growls that you all were expecting from this extreme progressive metal album in the first place. I would most certainly say that this work is on par with that of Opeth, and would not be blaspheming in that regard; because it is really that good. What I always loved about Opeth's earlier work was their ability to carry you off into the musical atmospheres that so many of those wonderful songs created, and very few bands have that same gift. But when I hear some of the wonders that are being done here, I am beside myself with amazement. I must also add that the mastering on the disc was handled by Jens Borgen, and he's done an amazing job with this one - I can discern each and every instrument, as well as every effect used on the disc. It's absolutely fantastic.
I would highlight certain tracks for you, but I really feel that it would spoil the listening experience that this album is, and I really want you to listen to it as a whole. This was sent to me at the last second before my "Helliday List" and I thought it would be an absolute sin not to get this review out, and just to let you all know about these up and comers, who are anything BUT amateur. This is a monstrous debut from a band with more potential than many bands of it's type. This is the kind of music that I personally enjoy and can't wait to get my hands on normally, so when I'm telling you that this is a prog metal album worth checking out, then you'd better believe me. I would purchase this in a heartbeat, and recommend that you do the same.
In one word - incredible. If this came in 2013, it would be on par for the best prog metal album of the new year, already. I'm really privileged to be able to review fascinating material like this before anyone else has had a chance to hear it, and I'm going to make sure that people know more about these guys. I have a lot of musician friends who would certainly like to check this one out.
Again, yeah - it's that good. Do yourself a favor and quit reading this review, so that you can check out The Advent Equation as soon as possible. This should put smiles on the faces of prog metal fans worldwide. If it doesn't, then you're all deaf! These guys might very well be the next Opeth!
Highlights: All. (8 Tracks, 64:00)
Monday, December 10, 2012
REMEMBERING MITCH LUCKER OF SUICIDE SILENCE
First of all, I'm going to be blunt. I hate Suicide Silence. I've always hated the band and never could find myself getting into their music. But I've recognized their following and applaud them for it. However, Mitch as many of you already know; was in a motorcycle accident that took his life the very next morning in the hospital. He was only 28 years old. As I looked at his picture in Revolver, I saw what to me looked like a young man who had been taken in his prime. He was still doing what he loved in life and had just got done talking with one of the men who invented the genre of Nu-Metal, Jonathan Davis. It's no secret that he was famous, well known and well respected. I remember reading in an interview that Mitch admitted to having some psychological disorders, (quite like myself, as I have a slight touch of Aspergers) and I could certainly relate to how he was feeling at times. I know what that's like sometimes, when your head is all over the fucking place. When you've got all this anger and frustration - but he channeled it through his music, just as I do with my projects.
But what hit me hardest was that I was looking at a man who wasn't but a year older than myself. Yes, I'm 27 years old and hopefully will reach 28 in July - but the fact that you can be ejected from life so quickly and without a moment's notice, is pretty damned frightening to say the least. This could've been anyone. It wasn't some drug or alcohol related death, it was a simple accident. Any of us could have one of those tomorrow. Granted motorcycles aren't that safe, but motor vehicles aren't necessarily beacons of protection either.
But what I'm trying to get at is a message that's old, simple, and extremely blunt: Don't take for granted the time that you have here on this planet. Because you never know when your number is up. Mitch had no idea that when he hopped on his motorcycle, that that was going to be the last ride he was ever going to take - and in this world of hustle and bustle, where all we're concerned about is tweeting, sending pictures on Instagram and sharing statuses on Facebook; we need to be mindful (there's a good word for you - stick that one in your pocket) of the limited amount of time that we have. Whether or not the world ends on December 21st, 2012 or December 21st, 3057 is irrelevant. While speaking to an older gentlemen, he told me simply that "Eventually the world will end. For you. When your number is up, your world has ended." And it's very true. These wonderful atmospheres that we create in our heads, these unique worldviews that we have, (no one is like the other) they will all cease to be. Mitch's outlook on life is certainly gone, that's a fact.
But this isn't an attempt at fear-mongering, or an attempt to scare you with the unknown world beyond; it's the sheer fact that we need to accept that we can (and will) be ejected from this life in a flash. With every breath that you take - no matter what emotion you're comprised in at the time, be thankful that you have that breath and thankful for another. We are weak, fragile and the complete opposite of durable. As Sentenced said, "We weren't made to last."
I'm sure that this isn't the end for the band, just as Slipknot said that they will continue on without Jim Root; and they'll probably continue to make extravagant noise that I can't stand nor make heads or tails of; but Mitch's legacy will always live on through that music. People will listen to him and once again feel as if they knew him. This is the same way with me and Woods Of Ypres frontman David Gold when he died, also in an accident. I wear songs like "The Mirror Reflection And The Hammer Reinvention" like badges, and I got very emotional when I heard the news. Then there was Type O Negative frontman, Pete Steele, who will NEVER be replaced, no matter how many bands have tried to copy his style in the years since his passing. And Dio... well, let's not even get into that. All that I can say is that I remember reading an interview with his wife and how she talked about how brave he was, losing the battle to cancer - that rancid horrible thing that takes too many good lives - and I damn near started to cry right there on the pages.
But their music, ladies and gentlemen - their music will always remain. Anytime you want to hear their voices again, just play an album - maybe just in your headphones so that only you can hear it - and feel that record of life that they've left within that piece of music. But that is what the very core of music is, isn't it? It's life. When you watch a film of the band playing, or perhaps even view something on youtube; it's forever immortalized. And even when all of that fades away, your own mind will still play back their voices, their sounds, their songs... on and on and on... until your world also, comes to an end.
Rest In Peace, Mitch Lucker. Thanks for sharing your music and your voice with us all.
This debut album from Canadian two-piece WILT is just as you might expect. It's cold, atmospheric and quite grim to say the very least. Although there are occasional (and I do mean occasional) melodies thrown about on the record, they only seem to be there so that the crushing blow of melancholy doesn't hurt so much. The band takes cues from several other bands like WINTERFYLLETH, ALTAR OF PLAGUES, WOODS OF YPRES, NACHTMYSTIUM and the like, but these two gentlemen don't dare try to sound too much like any of these bands and keep their own unique sense of darkness. But don't be mistaken, as this sort of music makes the blast-beat laden Satanic black metal of bands such as GORGOROTH, WATAIN, 1349, OLD MAN'S CHILD, DEATHSPELL OMEGA and others seem quite warm and joyous in retrospect. With those bands, one can at least bang their head happily and throw up horns, but with these gentlemen; it's much colder and not in the frostbitten sense. This is the sound of isolation, despair and hopelessness. Imagine it as the kind of music that might play in one's head while surveying the damage caused in the aftermath of a major natural disaster. The band's moniker of WILT matches their sound perfectly, and might make the depressed feel even worse than they were before they heard the album. But if you think that you can stomach a bellyful of Canadian sorrow, then this is probably the record that you're looking for. As far as the rest of us are concerned, there are plenty of warmer albums out there with which to vent out your rage and frustration.
Dragged Into Sunlight - Widowmaker (2012) - I think I'll begin this with a famous line from former astronaut Neil Armstrong. "Houston, we have a problem." And this problem in question does not reflect that this is necessarily a bad album, because it's climax is full of piss and vinegar; but the fact that this disc takes so long to get to a point of interest. "Part I 14:51" is far too long, and even if the drone riffs and soundscapes help to make an atmosphere, they definitely don't make a very good one. It's just boring, for damn near fifteen minutes of the album and you'd be better off skipping this "introduction" entirely. Think of it as the opening credits of a film that you'd more or less rather fast-forward through.
The meat of the album begins with "Part II 11:48" which is probably what most of you were expecting this album to sound like from first play, and in many ways, that's how it should have sounded to begin with. "Part II" gives us all that we'd expect from this band - be it the doom, gloom, death and slight bits of melody all wrapped in a blanket of dirty, filthy, grimy fucking sludge. The thick oily shit that you were begging to hear all along. Yes, it's a bit raw still; but you and I both know that we'd have it no other way.
Then comes "Part III 13:10" which sounds like a much slower version of the second part of the disc, until it's given the ability later in the track (after some needless drone atmospherics) to thrash around a bit and cause hell through even more of these senseless little drone tracks. Though I am hearing some truly great material right near the end of this piece, there's an ADD sensation that might anger some folks who expected to bang their head relentlessly. Yes, acoustics do show up - some melodic acoustics and odd riff styles that experiment and enhance the sound.
But here's my take on this disc. The bottom line (and I mean, the very bottom line) is that Dragged Into Sunlight knew without a doubt that they could not top (or would not dare to try to top) or remake their last album. Despite that it was a sort of cult classic in some underground metal circles, and certainly one of this reviewer's favorites - the band knew that they had to forge along a different path, which is exactly what they did here. They played with drone and atmospheres and acoustics that previously were alien to them, (at least as far as I know) and this became of it. If you don't like it, there will always be Hatred For Mankind, but for some of the more adventurous, there will be this album. Granted, I still think of it as a sort of disturbing movie with the first part being the opening, the second the actual film, and the final part the end credits. Just as not everyone likes a certain film, not everyone will love this "film" either. But if you'll hear anything from Widowmaker, at least check out the main film itself (Part II) and you'll find some worthy aggression. While Dragged Into Sunlight haven't quite lost their edge, they certainly might lose a few with this sucker punch that none of us particularly saw coming.
Highlights: Part II (3 Tracks, 39:00)
Eryn Non Dae - Meliora (2012) - The new album from Eryn Non Dae is quite different from the last record, but it still has some semblance of the old material. There are still some blackened tinges, but the post metal and core influences still play a large role in the album. If anything can be said about this album, it's that the skinsman is really fucking good. Take just the first track, "Chrysalis 8:54" and listen to those drums pop. That is how you fucking play the kit, folks. I can't even think what this band would sound like without a drummer like that. This guy not only keeps the boat afloat, he also holds it together. Like the band I previously reviewed, this band has also decided to add more atmospheric influence to their music, and for them the result is much different - it actually enhances the impact of the album.
I'm also going to bring up "Ignitus 5:37" which really has some unprecedented technicality and musicianship. Again, listen to those drums pop. Then listen to the djenty leads. Yeah, that works. It's a bit jaunty, but it's sort of fun in a sense. For the most part, many of these songs carry the same vibe and aren't necessarily that much different from each other. The frontman carries forth his angry grunts throughout each and every song of the album, much in the vein of several other post-hardcore vocalists. The atmosphere of the disc is very much like that of mid-era Neurosis, as you can clearly tell that they were going for that vibe on this one. It's certainly not bad, but I'm not so sure if it can stand up to other heavy hitters in this vein, like the latest Yakuza album.
It's certainly worth checking out, but I'm not so sure how many times you'll spin this one. The drummer's a madman, a technical genius - but everything else seems like we've heard it before and the djent doesn't help much, because it seems as if EVERYONE in metal is now doing that. I'm starting to wonder if Meshuggah regrets introducing that sound into the metal scene and then into the mainstream, when all those who watched The Osbournes on MTV first heard Jack Osbourne playing the band's music and then name-dropping them, sending thousands upon thousands of metalheads onto the internet to pillage and plunder the band's discography.
But this isn't about djent or Meshuggah. That's another reason why I feel it was necessary for this post-metal band. However, I'm sure that there will be fans to embrace the djenty moments of this atmospheric post-metal barrage, and more power to them. As for me, it's another lap around the same fucking track with some bells and whistles.
Highlights: Chrysalis, The Great Downfall, Ignitus, Black Obsidian Pyre
Rings Of Saturn - Dingir (2013) - I have no idea what's going on with this band or this album. This shit wasn't supposed to come out until next year, but apparently it leaked and they just decided to give it away? At any rate, people have been praising these guys as the saviors of deathcore. Whatever that might mean to some of you. But to others, it means that there's actually good musicianship on the disc. Which there most certainly is. Dubbed "Aliencore" I can certainly see how this otherworldy mess got it's name and I'd have to humbly agree that this thing is a fucking monster.
First of all, I'm convinced that whoever is fucking playing the melodies is not from this world. Check his eyes, he might be one of David Icke's lizard people and this is an attempt to brainwash us all into enslavement through these incredible and inhuman melodies. But all joking aside, this is the kind of material that really sounds like it took a fucking long time to make. Or a hell of a lot of "artificial influence." This hasn't even come out yet, and it's probably going to be the best deathcore album of next year.
Who knows, maybe the band were literally worried about the Mayan apocalypse and thought it was best to get this material out early, because they would rather people hear it now, instead of never. But even if that were to happen, that would really suck for the whole of humanity, not to mention the metalheads. Hypocrisy, Suffocation, Septic Flesh, and a slew of other releases are coming out next year and it would be a damn shame if a bunch of ancient Indians were right and we all got wiped the fuck out before any of those releases could be heard. Not to mention the bands, who worked their asses off on creating them and all for naught. Even if Cthulhu decided to rise from the abyss.
Speaking of Cthulhu, that's exactly the kind of spatial vibe I get from this one, when it isn't playing the deathcore game. You know what deathcore game I'm talking about. The same one that a few of these songs choose to take, like "Shards of Scorched Flesh 3:08" and "Dingir 3:35." Any deathcore band could've made these tracks, and only when "Faces Imploding 5:50" comes into play, does the magic return. After that, the band plays with deathcore until about the latter half of each track when something else is actually done on the album. I know that deathcore has a certain sound and style, and I do like it - but when band A's style sounds like band B,C, D, E, F, and many others with next to no discernible difference; I'm left at a standstill. If not for "Immaculate Order 4:36" and the BREATHTAKING closer that makes me think that this band should just do instrumentals, "Utopia 5:26" I would probably not be as entirely impressed with the latter of this disc as I was with it's first couple of tracks.
But honestly, when I hear majesty like "Utopia" I think to myself, "This band is capable of myriads more than what they're showing here." I mean, think about this - the frontman might be able to ploddle along to the deathcore tracks, but could he really put vocals on something like Utopia? No. Because that takes a seasoned kind of vocalist, someone who can analyze every note and melody to see where a vocal line could fit. But that's what I'd like to hear from this band, more tracks in the style of "Utopia" that break away from the blandness of deathcore bands A, B, C and so-on. Granted there are some wonderful and quite amazing things being offered on the release, but perhaps it's my odd mind that wants even more. Maybe it's the fact that I want more melody, and less crunch. One can "crunch, crunch, crunch" with growls and screams all day long, but the band shows that they matter both in the beginning and at the very end of this album. It's like a sandwich with delicious bread, but cardboard bologna.
But it's still better than the last one, and has more going for it than the last BTBAM, which I think was overrated. But the last Faceless? No, not a chance. But with time, perhaps... Still, I think that one was a fluke.
Highlights: Galactic Cleansing, Faces Imploding, Immaculate Order, Utopia
(10 Tracks, 41:00)
Isis - Temporal (2012) - Isis decided to do what many bands still haven't done yet, (even though it's painfully obvious that their work is done and is being horribly retread) and split. What would a follow up to Wavering Radiant sound like? Well, it's obvious that it wouldn't have been that great, since the band decided that their work was done. But they've left us with some great gifts to remember them by, like some demo (and alternate demo) versions of songs from that last album, as well as some old favorites; a cover of "Streetcleaner 5:47" and "Hand Of Doom 8:41" which are both done nicely and in the band's native style, two remixes, three unreleased tracks "Temporal 2:05", Way Through Woven Branches 6:26" and "Pliable Foe 7:46" and an acoustic version of "20 Minutes, 40 Years 7:43." But just as another reviewer noted, the true icing on the cake is the "Grey Divide 16:36" demo, which has everything that we would've expected from the band and more, just without vocals.
Without getting into too much detail, because this release is truly massive - I would certainly recommend to fans of the band as a last hurrah. This is all that you're going to get from a post metal group that's been around for a damn good while, so you'd better enjoy it. It's presented well enough, I mean as well as demos can be, and even though it's cast-off and beta material, it's still worth checking out. Some of this stuff works better when it's instrumental and I'm not too sad to say that most of the material you're getting will be without vocals.
But it's a good compendium of all that was, and will ever be, the band once known as Isis. They've since gone their separate ways to pursue other areas, (some of them are just playing in different bands now) and we should be thankful for the gift that they gave us. Because the music always fucking remains. Even if all these guys keeled off tomorrow, we'd still have the tunes.
And in the end, that's all that matters.
(14 Tracks, 112:00)
Hypno5e - Acid Mist Tomorrow (2012) - The experimental metal of Hypno5e is well worth checking out, even though some of you have probably never heard of them before. On this large and djent-filled offering, the band is taking the over-used element to heights that it's never gone to before. These guys have no problem mixing soft acoustics and thundering time signatures together, the whole experience leaving sort of a mysterious and truly unique feel that I would recommend experiencing at least once. Song structures and prog elements play a huge role in this album as well, one might say that these gentlemen are undiscovered geniuses at it, despite the frontman's harsh vocal style that comes off as more of a scream then the manly growls that some of us might want to hear from him. Though these guys are French (and so are their soundclips) the lyrics are surprisingly in English.
In total there are five songs on the album, but some of them are broken into several parts, such as "Gehenne" which is broken down into three separate portions. Nonetheless, the five tracks are at the shortest "Six Fingers In One Hand She Holds The Dawn" with both parts adding up to 8:00 of playtime. And that's the shortest track. yet it will soon come apparent to you that the band utilizes their time on these tracks wisely, as these guys use several different means to create atmospheres within each and every track, trying their best to differentiate from every other band on the planet earth who uses djent and time signatures. You'll hear several "interesting" things from time to time, and I won't say what exactly because that would spoil the surprise that this release will deliver into your ears. It is something that you have to soak in, maybe through a couple of listens; though the drums will still manage to imprint themselves into your brain on the first listen. As I've said, there is a lot of talent coursing through Hypno5e's veins, and the sheer technicality and musicianship will send some of you flying, wondering why "you hadn't listened to this one sooner." And I blame myself for that, because this has been out for a good while now, and I've just gotten to it. It is a very tough album to review, a very thick release that speaks for itself. I can fill up this entire page with words, but it still won't prepare you for the artistic display that you'll witness here.
However, I can say that with all honesty, these guys feature a lot of acoustics and clean vocals in addition to the heavier parts of the songs, so if you don't like your music getting all of a sudden lighter and more melodic, you probably won't be able to get into this act. But I still recommend it, because this is what abstract art sounds like in a slightly extreme form. I was fortunate enough to hear the older release from this band as well, and I can say that they've improved considerably and the production value of the disc is much better here as well.
If you're still on the fence, go check out something from Youtube. Any one song should suffice enough.
Highlights: Acid Mist Tomorrow, Six Fingers In One Hand She Holds The Dawn Pt. II, Story Of The Eye, Brum Unique Obscurite (Pts I & II) (9 Tracks, 53:00)
Deftones - Koi No Yokan (2012) - Revolver's Album Of The Year this year, is much fucking better than what they chose last year (Korn & Skrillex) so I'm glad they don't have their heads up their asses this time. And I'm gonna agree with them, Koi No Yokan is a fucking masterpiece and it's well worth checking out for any one who's cast off the Deftones long ago. This stuff is right up there with Around The Fur or White Pony easily, but doesn't have the bark that some of the material on Diamond Eyes had. Koi No Yokan is a masterpiece of melody, it's one of those albums that you just have to listen to in it's entirety, as it has the ability to truly be a hypnotic transportation device. I was listening to this record at work while on Black Friday, and could not have picked a better calm to assist to me on such a busy fucking day as that one was (a day that started at 4:00 AM BTW.) But as I've implied, the album made me feel like I was operating from another plane. Tracks like the amazing opener "Swerve City 2:45" which seems to be about astral projection, are absolutely monumental for the band. This is an album where the cover spells out the experience. Look at the art closely, and besides the stars (which obviously signify man separated from the physical plane) you'll also notice candles, which are commonly lit in ritual or during an induced AP. The red floor on the cover is seemingly floating/transparent as well, furthering my belief that the album through it's riffs, melodies, structures and Chino's vocal tones; is meant to be a transcendental piece.
Not only that, many of the songs seem to go together despite the heavier "Poltergeist 3:31" and "Entombed 4:59" which comes right after it. As I've said, each track "flows" into the next, creating an experience uncanny for most discs. The band does plenty of experimenting on this one, and some damn near god-like stuff that you just have to hear. This disc isn't about huge guitar solos or punchy riffs, it's as I've said for the fifteenth time - getting your ass off this physical plane. Chino said that he had no idea what in the hell most of the lyrics on the disc even mean, the words just "come to him" during the recording process and after listening back to the songs, he discovers what they're about.
Without going to far into another paragraph, I'll just say that this is definitely one of the best metal/hard rock albums that you'll hear this year, and even if they are playing some of this stuff on the radio; those people should be thankful that they're actually hearing real music and not "hook" "hook" "hook" rock like Nonpoint. This is how real rock music is made, and I most certainly recommend that you get this into your ears as soon as possible. If you've been putting it back, wait no longer to take this journey. It's a experience that's worth it's weight in gold, and I'm convinced that some of this has it's roots in the melodies of the astral plane, quite like "Bath" and "Leaving Your Body Map" from Maudlin Of The Well.
Don't let this one pass by your ears. It's a metaphysical masterpiece.
Highlights: All (I highly recommend the experience be listened to as a whole and most importantly, directly into your ears - I don't feel that speakers alone transmit the experience into your brainwaves as well as earbuds or headphones.)
(11 Tracks, 51:00)
Converge - All We Love, We Leave Behind (2012) - Decibel's Album Of The Year is a much different beast (though Koi No Yokan was honorably mentioned) in the form of experimental post-hardcore band Converge. Apparently, Decibel staffers have been wearing this thing out, and consider it one of the best releases since Jane Doe, which they called album of the decade. (Really? I didn't like it that much.)
First of all, Converge has never been my cup of tea; but this album sees the band definitely experimenting around a bit, especially with that opener "Aimless Arrow 2:23." but don't worry, as you'll soon be thrown forth into chaos with the next track "Trespasses 2:43." You know, if there's one thing that Converge manage to do with this album, it's to take a track that's not even a minute and thirty (Tender Abuse 1:25) and give it some well needed structure.
Even though I'm not (and never will be) a huge fan of this band, I can still appreciate the odd riff melodies on "Sadness Comes Home 3:12" a track that manages to mix some sludge moments with a rock solo. This one was in many ways, "an anything goes" sort of album; where you can expect to hear something different on each and every track. Listen tot he militaristic drum marches on "Empty On The Inside 2:29" coupled with a much different vocal approach that you'd expect from the band.
"Sparrow's Fall 1:27" gives us as much ferocity as can be had in less than a minute and thirty (what is with these guys and these less than 1:30 tracks?) but "A Glacial Pace 4:27" the longest track on the disc, sounds altogether different. You don't really expect to hear ethereal atmospheres on this one, but they're there. Of course, looking at the album cover; it's almost something you might expect. Whatever the case, the track kills. "Vicious Muse 1:52" comes in next, with the sort of style that "Trespasses" had, just a little slower. "Veins & Veils 2:32" however sounds like a completely different song with a mysterious quality that explodes into some drum-play that sounds like it'd be fun to try out on a kit. Then the song erupts and doesn't really do anything new, other than the drumming.
"Coral Blue 4:48" slows things down a bit and adds melody, as well as clean vocals with some clean and sung vocals. It shows maturation for the band, and I'm glad that they show that they can do more than just the same extreme shtick. Not once does this song envelop into the bludgeoning thrash of "Trespasses" and I'm glad for that, because that shit is too common for these guys. I'd hate to be known for being in a band that has done "that style" for most of their career. Nonetheless, "Shame In The Way 1:59" continues the same style that we've expected from the band and I guess there are those people who only want to hear the frantic screaming stuff because it makes them feel better, and it's certainly better than killing a fellow and going to jail for it.
After that bit of fury, the band returns to atmosphere with "Precipice 1:47" which has a sort of robotic edge to it, and the background melody makes me think it would perfectly fit the score of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film. Then we have the title track, "All We Love, We Leave Behind 4:06" which really comes in as a masterpiece no matter how you slice it. I love the melodies and drum work on this one, the post-metal influences are only helping to strengthen the band. I actually had a chance to see this band live, but wasn't able to. Which was a shame, because I would have loved to see how this one translated on stage.
The last track on the album is the slower "Predatory Glow 3:25" and I think I only like it because it has the feeling of post-metal and not the punky atmosphere that some of the tracks on this one have had. It's certainly extreme, but is another great attempt to show that this band can do much more than what they did on Jane Doe. All in all, I'm quite satisfied with many of the songs on this album, but I wouldn't consider it the best album of the year; by any means. It's definitely worth checking out, but just liked I never care for the films with an Oscar buzz; I never really care that much for the albums that get praised by magazines. There are exceptions like the Deftones disc of course; but I think I've heard better underground and unsigned releases this year and would encourage all of my readers to check out those bands, because they are the future of metal music.
Nonetheless, this album was much better than I had expected. And this is coming from a person who never really cared much for the band in the first place.
Highlights: Trespasses, Sadness Comes Home, Empty On The Inside, A Glacial Pace, Coral Blue, Precipice, All We Love We Leave Behind, Predatory Glow
(14 Tracks, 38:00)
Denial Of God - Death And The Beyond (2012) - I'm not quite sure why these guys are classified as black metal, because I wouldn't consider them that. But when I checked the genre description in Windows Media, that's what it said. At any rate, these guys are what I would consider to be a type of extreme horror metal, far removed from any notions of Dani Filth and his poetic Goth troupe. Perhaps the intro "Veni Spiritus 2:07" serves as noting more than a short appetizer, maybe something of atmosphere, but the foreboding thunder of "Funeral 6:35" is where the meat of this album starts. Eerie melodies and ghastly vocals open up what is probably one of my favorite horror tracks of the year. There's no way that you can possibly tell me that after hearing that track once, that you'll not want to go back and play it one more time.
Alright, now some black metal influence comes into play with "Behind The Coffin's Lid 9:08" but I'm a little muddled by this opening riff. Sounds a little happy, like some kind of J-Pop melody. The lyrics are quite diabolic however, and there's a good chorus melody that adds just a little bit of terror to this quite jaunty track with lyrics about being buried. I guess if you're happy to die, maybe this one will work for you. But there's no denying the great vocal performance on this one. Whoever the fuck this guy is, he's certainly one of my favorite vocalists in the genre. The second part of the song is mesmerizing, there's just not much I can say about how well the concept here is illustrated. Then you've got some absolutely wonderful fucking melodies coming in right after that, with the drums joining in and just making what I would call "classic." I mean classic as Venom's early material "classic." Old heads should certainly appreciate this one.
"The Cursed Chamber 8:10" begins with atmosphere and chant, which opens into guitar melody backed with synths. The song eventually becomes a sort of blackened thrash with some classic era drumming and an atmosphere that is only enhanced by the vocals of the cursed mummy. Yes, it's about a mummy - I guess this album would go perfect with a round of Castlevania Fighter; but at any rate the song is done right and reaches it's climax in black metal.
"Bones Turn To Dust 8:55" is a much slower track with the same melodies you're expecting from the band at this point, but once again there's something to be said for the frontman. He really brings "life" to these tracks, and while not plowing you with vocal, he sprinkles it where needed. One thing I really like about these guys is that there telling stories, perhaps horror stories; the instruments serve as a background for the frontman, who is more or less the storyteller. Frankly, there aren't enough bands who do this anymore. Some people feel that stories should be told to them through the pages of books, or perhaps through the frames of film - but I like the fact that this band and Carach Angren are using the grim nature of black metal to tell horror stories. Despite the fact that Carach Angren's effort wasn't even noticed by critics ( What the hell? Are you idiots deaf?) and this album will be probably be passed right over (not surprisingly, since everyone loves core and djent so much) because it's not what people want; the fact that these guys are essentially "grim bards of the age" is something that at least makes me fucking happy.
"Black Dethe 9:36" will however give you much more of a black metal experience, with blasting drums and trademark scowl vocals backed with the same sort of melodies we've heard throughout the album (even though yes, those are good melodies.) The song slows but keeps the same doom-laden style that we do hear in many parts of this disc, (it would actually do well to classify these guys as a sort of blackened doom) with the melodies ever peppering the track, along with the vocals. As you can expect, drums increase in fury towards the end of the track.
The final track on this disc is a damn near 20 minute epic called "Spectral Lights/Pendulum Swings 16:21" which opens with piano and ghosts telling you "Get Out!" and laughing. They seem to be not quite happy with your presence, so perhaps you should stop reading this review and go onto the next... Oh, right. Ill Nino. Yeah, I guess I see your point.
Anyway, the song starts out light, but goes into blackened thrash for a minute, before synths and violin come in with what sounds like a music box and then we hear "The ceiling is covered in cobwebs!" which ultimately makes me think of the feeling of being in a haunted house. Once again, the frontman tells a wonderful tale of horror and the instruments illustrate it perfectly. When the doom comes in, it's painfully obvious that you just can't tell this tale any other way. The music box echoes through the track and listen to those end riffs, they breathe horror. The song begins to go back into a black metal onslaught.
Denial Of God aren't just worth checking out, they're essential. I've seen these guys interviewed once in Decibel, and that was just a short paragraph. Perhaps I'll try for an interview with them in the future, but for now that's uncertain. At any rate, I'd like to do something to get the word out about these guys that I've never fucking heard of until a friend told me about them and I found their album eventually in the same place that many of us who can't find albums anywhere else look. At any rate, go listen to this now. I won't tell you again. Definitely one of the best albums of the year, despite the fact that magazines don't seem to think so. But that's due to everything going fucking corporate these days. Good shit goes unheard, unseen, unread, unplayed, and it just fucking sits there to rot in a tomb, forever...
Highlights: The Album (7 Tracks, 60:00)
Ill Nino - Epidemia (2012) - Here we are once again to Mexico's Ill Nino. This album actually makes me glad that Brujeria are working on another album, because this disc doesn't show too much merit. Besides that, the new disc from The Agony Lords (Review coming shortly) devours this one whole. But let's briefly (and I do mean briefly) discuss the disc.
For the most part, the band incorporates some heavier riffs along with the same Latin percussion along with the same clean vocal choruses that we've heard ten thousand times already. There is a decent growl attempted on this one, but lets be honest, this isn't and will never be death metal. One of the only tracks on this disc that actually stands out on this disc is the hard-hitting "La Epidemia 3:10" which might be one of the heaviest tracks in the band's career. There's no clean vocal chorus on that one either. But at any rate, the band has gotten better after all these years and there are some interesting musical structures on this one. Though there are many of those melodic choruses, things were done on this one that makes the songs sound less like "verse/chorus." But it's still a modern metal album.
Then we've got "Death Wants More 3:55" which is your heavy ballad. Even though they have a screamer and a growler that work hand in hand on this disc trying to give the band an extreme metal edge, it's not really giving me the feel of extreme metal. Oh, wait. There's an even lighter heavy chorus on "Time Won't Save You 4:49." Wow. "Forgive Me Father... 3:28" is the exact same type of ballad. Then there's the closer "Invisible People 3:58" which really tries to be an extreme metal song, but just winds up being modern metal shtick.
This thirty-seven minutes is pretty much the same crap we've been used to by now. Which brings me to the point. Who's been buying these albums? I myself bought Confession back in 2002, and I liked it for the time, but then they released several more albums after, all of them being round-about the same. This disc does feature some heavier attempts, but it just keeps giving me the feeling that Ill Nino wants to be both an extreme metal band and appeal to fans of hard rock as well, and you really can't do that. We don't need clean vocal choruses in almost every song and three or four ballads right near the end of the disc. Despite their popularity, (and whoever's been buying these discs) we all know that there are much better Mexican metal bands that actually classify as extreme metal, and just wait until I have that review up for the new album from The Agony Lords, as that band is definitely one of that country's finer exports (aside from Marijuana of course.)
Highlights: La Epidemia (10 Tracks, 37:00)
De Magia Veterum - The Deification (2012) - And here's another disc from the band that literally made me sick to my stomach. No, that's not because it was a bad release, but because the music literally had a nauseating sort of quality. It's the way that it's played really, that seemed to upset my stomach somehow. But this disc sees the band doing the same thing, producing black metal that sounds like it was recorded inside of a fucking vortex. Every time I play this stuff, I feel like I'm spinning in circles, and this style continues until a point in "Passage 5:26" where atmosphere and sound clips momentarily break up the chaos.
Things get even more chaotic on "Evoked In Poison 4:25" where it sounds like they got whatever inter-dimensional creature that they summoned while creating this unholy racket to guest on vocals. And things just keep getting more chaotic. Even though this album has breaks, they are short and sweet and may prevent you from losing your lunch. This album is the equivalent of being on a black metal roller coaster - it's fast, loud, and all over the fucking place. Imagine if a black metal band just took everything and decided to mix it all together into a sort of soup. Yes, it does sound like you're traveling in a vortex, but it also makes me think that I would end up throwing up everything I've eaten in the past few hours if I was ever given the chance to hop into one. And then on the closer "The Deification 3:48" they use this eardrum piercing noise that only harms the listener further.
I'm not sure if you can call it music. This is the equivalent of everything playing different melodies all at once and at times matching up. Imagine if you got together with your band members one day and said "Alright guys, just start playing music. It doesn't matter what, just whatever the hell you want and well throw it all together and record it."
In the end, it just winds up sounding like noise. De Magia Veterum are good at what they do, that's for sure - but I hope and pray that this style never catches on. If every band started doing this, I would definitely be under the assumption that the end of humanity was nigh. People would have just abandoned their ideas of structure completely and all music would just become a big blob of relentless sound. I could literally write a short horror story about it, the end of music as we know it. And these guys would be the clear inspiration for that.
Highlights: Really? (7 Tracks, 29:00)
6/10 (Well, it's certainly different. I'll have to give it one more than mediocre.)
Weapon - Embers And Revelations (2012) - These black thrashers come in with higher and clearer production than most black metal bands, and according to their interviews, they don't care about being raw and kvlt. But at any rate, these guys also don't mind throwing in thrash metal solos and an all around thrash vibe to their black metal. That's all just fine with me. The music is still dark as one would expect, the drums still blast and blast and then some; and the vocals are fierce and deeper than most black metal scowlers.
In all honesty, it's hard for me to not recommend material like this, especially with all of the excitement that builds tracks like "Crepuscular Swamp, Unhinged Swine 5:22" and it's follower, "Liber Lilith 5:05." This is everything I not only expect out of black thrash but black metal to begin with. There's even a light instrumental (with a killer solo) that breaks up the madness, called "Grotesque Carven Portal 2:31." These guys have made it known that they love classic metal solos, and by fuck; they're going to play them.
Weapon is a black metal band that you can bang your fucking head to. Wear that frown all you want and be grim about it, but these guys definitely aren't holding back on their influences. Venom, Dissection and several other classic bands probably had a lot of influence here and this album shows those influences manifest. I'm just kind of pissed that the whole experience is only about forty minutes long. But there is a lot of material covered here, like "Disavowing Each In Aum 5:35" where the drummer is making love to the cymbals, overtop of some great atmospheric riffs. I'm not sure if this album is on anyone's "Best Of" list, but it damn sure should be.
Who would skip out on this one? Yeah. Probably the same idiots who skipped out on Carach Angren, Denial Of God, Sigh, Secrets Of The Moon (Slams Fist Into Wall.) Honestly? Can't you people do your fucking jobs? Converge, really? Sigh put out one of the most interesting and best albums of their career and you idiots didn't even think to nominate them? What about Secrets Of The Moon? What wasn't great about that album? Seriously, tell me you fuckers! Maybe it's because you've all grown complacent. Too much pop-culture and Youtube. Maybe you'd all rather be "Gagnum-Style" than actually listening to real metal music that musicians put their life's blood into.
Guess what else wasn't nominated? Outcast. Has anyone heard that one except for me? Did anyone give a damn? It wiped the floor with Converge. Speaking of deathcore, what about Allageaon? That one skip over you? Borknagar? Yes, one of the best albums from those guys in years... NOT EVEN NOMINATED.
Seriously, did you guys skip some things? Jesus Christ! If you can't do your jobs, I'll just have to make a best of list right here, to show people what they should be checking out. (And no, that's not Asking Alexandria. There are REAL metal musicians out there.)
Candlemass? Shit. I just saw that one. Why in the hell did they not get any mention? Are you people high, or just tired?
At any rate, check out Weapons. And every other fucking band I just named off in a rant. Fucking idiots who can't do their job, and call themselves metal reviewers. But that's what money does, folks! 500.00 to say that Converge is better than fucking Sigh or Secrets Of The Moon or bloody fucking Candlemass's Swansong.
Yeah, I know that Baroness damn near died this year and I feel for them, but that doesn't mean that we should feel the need to give that hipster rock crap they did a high spot in the Album Of The Year. You know what was 2010's disc of the year for Decibel? Agalloch. And why? Because it was fucking good. All these great discs in 2012, and we gave it to musicians that needed a cover story done on them.
BAH! Fuck off and ride your invisible horses! I've got METAL to listen to.
(8 Tracks, 38:00)
Aeternam - Moongod (2012) - These Canadian symphonic death metallers are already known for coming out with a killer debut "Disciples Of The Unseen" back in 2010, and in 2012 we're seeing even greater things. I like how these guys are in fact making a complete mockery of the Muslim belief by singing songs about Hubal, the bad guy in that book. (Allah's the Sun, Hubal is the Moon) But in a way, it's the same thing as Satanic Melodic Death Metal, this is just Huballic Melodic Death Metal. Allah's probably pissed. But other than that, this album is truly killer (and should have been included in the 2012 list) and delivers just what I want to hear out of melodic death metal.
The album definitely has an Arabian feel to it, with "Moongod 5:41" coming in and really taking no prisoners. From the very beginning, you can already tell that this is going to be a melodic death metal disc like no other, and it is. In many ways, the symphonic death metal on this one is on par with Septic Flesh, and I wouldn't say a thing like that if I didn't mean it. This album is replete with so many elements of traditional Arabic music that I would've never believed these guys were from Quebec. Even the clean vocals take a turn into a middle-eastern accent. One of the biggest examples of this is "Iram Of The Pillars 3:53" which is absolutely mesmerizing and works well in the context of this album.
But yes, there are plenty of moments where you can bang your head and "Rise Of Arabia 4:45" will have you doing that, just in case the latter track was too "pretty" for you. At any rate, the way that these guys mix death metal and Arabic folk music together is unparalleled. I just haven't heard it done like this since Orphaned Land. But I have to say that this band is much darker and far more diabolic than those guys, for sure. There's no Christ-like band image here.
I'm going to quit giving you reasons to check this out, because if you haven't and you like truly epic death metal that just sounds in the vein of Septic Flesh; you're only hurting yourself. This is definitely one of my picks for best album of the year and it was also ignored. I mean, what the fuck else did they want these guys to do? Everything here is done to complete perfection. It's absolute death metal with great riffs, melodies, solos, drum-work folk instrumentation, deathy growls, great clean vocal work... the epitome of a great melodic death metal album.
It doesn't get much better than this.
Highlights: ALL (8 Tracks, 45:00)
Sinister - The Carnage Ending (2012) - My first complaint with this album is it's name. Is this Sinister's last disc? The carnage is ending, things are going back to normal. Sorry about that carnage. Really was a pain, wasn't it? We'll never do that again.
Alright, enough wisecracking over the title. This oddly entitled disc is just as good as the band's last death metal opus, "Legacy Of Ashes." Anyone who liked the straightforward death metal of that disc should definitely like this one just as well. The band hits hard and heavy, with the drummer pounding the living hell out of the kit, the frontman performing his deepest guttural growls, and the guitars sounding just as meaty as you'd expect from death metal. This is just the kind of Cannibal Corpse, Deicide style stuff that you want; and yes - those great solos are still there. These guys haven't "forgotten" how to do anything and continue to make the same great death metal that they did last time.
Of course, there are some little bits of technicality and structural changes here and there that keep the album from being boring and we welcome them. But this is still brutal death metal that would sound great on almost any day of the week. If you're looking for music to blow off people's heads to in the world of FPS, then you can't go wrong with this. Plus, let's face it - Linkin Park has no place in a Call Of Duty game where you shoot people in the face. Am I supposed be crying while I'm fragging? No. I'm supposed to go in there like the Doom marine and wipe Borderlands 2's ass with my all the fucking guns that they gave me to clean it with. And I'm not going to do that to silence or cheap fucking atmospheres. No, I'm going to go through Pandora blasting the shit out of this record.
Sinsier's new disc hits harder, has cleaner production and just sounds more fucking brutal. There's no love ballads or beautiful melodic leads - it's just death, death, death, and more fucking death.
Do you like death metal?
Oh, you do? Well, you need to get this album.
Do the drums blast furiously with no remorse?
Does the guitar sound rough and meaty?
Are the solos fast and killer?
Does the frontman growl throughout the whole thing, and does he sound really fucking angry, like there's a stick shoved up his ass?
Is there some technicality in the record, but it's much heavier than what Gojira would do with it?
Yes. It's still brutal as hell.
So in answering all of those questions, one can assume that this is a death metal album of the highest order of brutality with a few bells and whistles of modern technicality, but not enough to make you forget that it is a death metal album, not a technical death metal album, not a melodic death metal album, not a deathcore album... but a DEATH METAL ALBUM.
There. That's all I've got to say. Get your fucking hands on it and bang your head or kill shit on some FPS. Just don't murder your neighbor or anything. Because that fucking sucks. Heard about some 17 year old chick that murdered an 80 year old dude as he was taking a walk, on the news. While that sounds brutal, keep in mind that it's also pretty fucked up. But if you're going to beat a poor old man to death, this would be a good soundtrack for that.
Even though you've got to be a sick fuck, regardless. Might just want to stick to FPS. That way, you wont be jailed or possibly even executed.
Did I mention this album has some great fucking solos?
(11 Tracks, 45:00)
(Had to include this, too. It's the band. Now there's something you don't see everyday.)
Troglodyte - Don't Go Into The Woods (2012) - Though this isn't a long album, it hits fucking hard. Troglodyte is one of those bands I decided to check out on a whim and am quite thankful for the opportunity. From the start of the disc several bands come to me - Cannibal Corpse being the most prevalent. Having plowed through their entire discography not but just a few months ago, as soon as I heard "Crippled Foot Cast 2:21" the only thing that I could think of was Cannibal Corpse's 1996 disc, "Vile." The song lengths are round-about the same as well, with no song even coming close to the four minute mark. But for some of you, you might feel that you're hearing a Corpse-clone and I honestly cannot blame you there. After all, the band released a new album this year that proves it to be just as good as anything else they've released.
At any rate, these guys know what they're doing and don't seem to care. They do it well, and happily emulate all the best of Cannibal Corpse. Of course, there are subtle differences where the band puts more technicality into their music like in "Murderous Bi-Pedal Hominid Rampage (Where Are My Legs?) 3:10" which includes one of the few solos that you'll hear on the disc. This continues on "Sasquatch Ocean 1:58" and further on into the album. I think that the band differentiated their sound in this second half of the disc, so that people wouldn't call them a Corpse-clone.
Then we've got "Don't Got Into the Woods 2:10" which has a slightly different approach and features a guest screamer, and "Minnesota Iceman Cometh 3:24" which has a slightly bluesy feel. And I'm curious as to whether or not "Oregon Trail 2:10" is a death metal song based on the horrible things that could happen to one in the game, or the real thing. (For those of you who've never played the Oregon Trail, it's now on your tablet devices.)
At any rate, this Bigfoot inspired death metal is definitely worth checking out. it's different in some ways, despite how much they copied Cannibal Corpse in the beginning. But if not for the evolution in the latter part pf the disc, this could've really gone downhill fast. Chances are that you're not familiar with this band, so go check them out if you're interested. Hits and misses, but all around good death metal.
(13 Tracks, 28:00)
The Fusion Syndicate - The Fusion Syndicate (2012) - The Fusion Syndicate is a progressive rock project from many different individuals (go check out the band's info for a complete list of them all) but despite the excitement that you might first get from this album, you'll soon become rather bored with it's instrumental theatrics and begin to wonder why it all starts sounding like elevator music, or the music that companies play when you're on hold. In effect, it's the equivalent of being on hold for nearly an hour. But the clincher there is, that you're not actually waiting for a customer service representative; you're listening to it of your own free will.
All joking aside, there are some really great things done on the album and it does feature some good guitar work in addition to the other myriads of instruments on the disc. While the first three tracks on the disc feature a good bit of prog rock, the saxophone and acoustic guitar of "Particle Accelerations" makes me think of the music they play on your "Featured Free-Preview" channel with DISH, or the music that the Weather Channel plays while they show you different forecasts, and you're waiting for your own. I also get the same feel from "Atom Smashing 7:33" and the closer, "In The Spirit Of... 7:15"
There are small bursts of excitement here and there, but I just feel that too much is going on at one time and nothing gets fully realized. For example, a great guitar solo comes in backed by a synth and seems like it's going to explode until it's just replaced with a very stale saxophone piece that honestly sounds like a channel that is having temporary difficulties, or is moving.
I wanted to like this, because I have respect for some of the musicians on it; but I honestly don't expect to hear this anywhere else except as temp music for businesses.
(7 Tracks, 52:00)
Dreamscar - Dreamscar (2009) - The reason why I chose to review this hard to find first album from Dreamscar, is first because it's altogether different from the album they put out this year. While it still has that modern metal influence, it's myriads heavier and features a female vocalist on the choruses. One thing about this disc is how striking it reminds me of my first band, Shadowed Sun. We were making this kind of music (mixing extreme metal with female vocals) back around this same time (2009) and I've got a demo somewhere that I can use to prove it to you.
But other than that, these guys fully realized and released the same kind of music that we tried to complete back then (we had plenty of completed songs too) so in a way, I'm vicariously hearing what would've been through them. They always say that there's always somebody out there who's doing the same thing that you are even though you don't know it; and this proves it. Granted we never used pianos like these guys do (because I don't know how to fucking play one) but as far as the groove metal elements, thunderous drumming and the vocal that focuses more on a sort of scowl (that would be me) coupled with a clean female vocal (that would be our female vocalist) it's very close. I still think we would've been much heavier though - as we shed off that band to form the blackened thrash/groove band Unholy Sacrifice shortly after that.
But despite how much this raw quality (which is close to what our demo sounded like) reminds me of our old band's work, I still think this material is ten times superior to the crap that this band released in 2012, and I would gladly tell them that. Obviously, the band is getting somewhat famous and that "changed" the style of this band to something more poppy. I'll be honest, I had to fight some torrents in order to get this one, but it's so hard to find anywhere else. Of course, on that new album; there also isn't a female vocalist so the frontman had to clean sing. Not only that, this album is much heavier than the shit they released this year.
One more thing. My lyrics were also much more poetic than some of this shit.
“The City Of Dis”
I can no longer hear the whispers of nature
All I can feel are cold machines
The capitalist gods, and the working parts
Who die and are easily replaced
They are emotionless in the eyes of society
They are worthless in the eyes of the conglomerate
They are puppets in the eyes of the media
They are fools in the eyes of the ancients
We are trapped in a fool’s utopia
Any man worth his merit would realize this fact
Nature has been replaced by the building
But the building can only stand for so long
Look at them, brainwashed by the media
They aren’t concerned of the outside world
They let the walls of this city entrap them
These buildings never crumble
See them wandering, looking for happiness
These buildings never crumble
See them all obsessed, lost in their pathetic fucking lives
Pathetic fucking lives
Wondering what to buy, what to try and how to lie
A hellish monotony for all time
I could see the demon’s metal eyes
Her mechanic cackle echoed in the night
They are lost in their wants
Consumed by their greed
I awoke from my dream, to realize that I was not asleep
This was not a nightmare, it was reality
See the buildings growing taller
Covering Sophia’s light from their eyes
Pathetic fucking lives
Still see them wandering
Still enclosed by the walls
Trapped by Medusa’s gaze
Their fucking pathetic lies
There’s no sign of happiness
Trapped in the City of Dis for all eternity
See what I mean?
The chorus on that track was dual with both female and male vocals (male vocals were scowled) and there's was a lot of groove and heaviness in the track. People told me it would've made a great "hit" song, but nonetheless the project fell through and this one survived to do roundabout the same thing. Luck of the draw, I guess.
At any rate, I would most certainly recommend this disc over the band's new effort, as it was much more realized and "metal" than the Nu-Metal territory that they broke into recently. What they need to do is go back and re-record some of this stuff (there's definitely some fuzz in the recording) and find a new female vocalist, (can't be too hard - they're in fucking Vegas for crying out loud) then call it an album. Definitely some promise here. But I have no idea why bands wimp out and start playing contemporary crap. If you're going to be metal, you should play metal, not Linkin Park meets metal. No one wants to hear that.
Definitely check this one out, but keep in mind that it is modern metal.
(10 Tracks, 42:00)