Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 83 (July 29th, 2013)


Sindulgence - (FB 2013) - Sindulgence is a band I found on FB through one of their "Download The Whole Record For Free" ads. I always think to myself; if a band wants to just give their album away, then I might as well do the right thing and promote it, just as I do with all the other discs I get. The disc comes with the tracks, the cover images and the lyrics split into separate notepad files. (WHY?) You guys ever heard of a PDF? Don't worry though, I've compiled these lyrics and am sending you one.

Considered a type of experimental metal, the album ventures between many different genres although it seems to stick towards the deathcore sound the most. "Swindle 5:27" makes that readily apparent (even though there's a scowler in some sections - that doesn't make it black metal btw) and opens up for some solos and grooves. Alright, next.

"The Woodsman 5:45" shows that these guys don't have a problem really bringing on the gravel (despite a couple of core melodies) and a nice solo that opens into a death/doom inspired moment. Not too shabby. Next!

"Thorns 4:57" begins with some good old putting one foot in front of the other; before it finally sees itself as experimental deathcore... until the acoustics and the clean come in. Then you'll have that scowler guy and the gravel come back into the fold. These guys really know how to put on a show with the album. As has been the norm, another great solo is featured.

"Poverty And Hand Grenades 4:24" starts out like Jungle Rot, but then flirts between progressive and some guy comes in to deliver a hardcore vocal. Another solo. Next!

"The March Hare 5:31" seems to be one of the bands greatest attempts, combining strong deathcore grunts along with spoken storytelling that runs off a bit a fanatical. It almost reminds me a bit of Acid Bath... almost.

"Dying To Live 3:33" is kind of the basic deathcore track with prog injections and melody. Though I like the end melodies, the song itself doesn't have that much melody. I wish it was less about core and more towards the melodic death metal side of things.

"Silly Dream 6:09" starts out a little Porcupine Tree-like, there's some obvious fucking about in the track and I almost hate that it welcomes deathcore vocals. The calming sense comes back, but turns into a big core hodgepodge. What the heck is this? For some reason, I thought I just heard some sort of chanting amongst all the cacophony. Love the ending licks though. Just wish they'd lay off the deathcore vocals so much and showcase some other styles.

"Wine Of The Gods 4:02" shows more great experimenting from these guys. That folk music feel is trying to creep up here, until it welcomes classic rock. Probably one of the best songs these guys have to offer, I'd recommend you go check out the disc for this one. More substance like this, gentlemen. I love it!

"Keith 5:09" is next, and has a bit of an old-school vibe on the riffs. It starts with a great deal of instrumental but then gets a bit punchier later on. As expected, some clean comes in with prog riffs and other experimenting.

"Conventus Kharon 1:16" is next, it's just some piano and an atmospheric. The disc ends with "Pale Gardens 5:12" and a rather dreary tone. There's definitely some brutality laden within this track though. It's a good way to end the disc and cements the band's presence quite well.

I don't know if Decibel will give this one a spin, but I know that what I've said here will be much more than they will. (But that's due to word count limits, to be honest.) At any rate, the band has a hint of potential hidden amongst the trends and I'd like to see more of that. Yes, there's plenty of deathcore here, but unlike umpteen million deathcore bands there are; for the most part, plenty of unique and intriguing things to be found within each of the tracks on this album. Some of them are vaguely different from the next, but all seem to feature a solo piece. It's odd how they've got this set up, but for a debut album it's certainly unexpected. These guys could have just done the same old thing and tread the same old "psuedo-experimental-but-really-doing-the-same-as-everyone-else" path, but they didn't and actually incorporated some real experimentation into their sound. Sindulgence is much better than I expected, and that's saying a lot for just grabbing their music at random and giving it a go. But I've done that with quite a few bands and plan to continue "the slot machine of metal" method, because sometimes... you wind up with some really interesting jackpots.

Highlights: Thorns, The March Hare, Silly Dream, Wine Of The Gods, Pale Garden (12 Tracks, 52:00)



Moria - Psy (PR2013) - Moria is a metal band from the Ukraine, they've had several releases before this one and have had them all reissued, as well as having played with acts like Deadlock and SepticFlesh. This new release sees the band in a relatively strong light, but has several nuances that will appeal to modern listeners. "Empty Land 5:05" comes on with a definite bite and a strong chorus. There are also some nice melodies used in the track, in addition to a speckling of female vocals and a noteworthy guitar solo. These guys certainly know how to mix it up and I'll give them that. "Phobia 3:26" features a lot of chug and some nice atmospheric moments, with the whole song giving off a foreboding, yet crushing nature. "Right Business 4:07" Begins with some great clean leads and continues to really shred, but I feel the vocals take away from the track and would rather it have been an instrumental. These guys definitely do some great things, but less is definitely more in this case. "Voices 0:29" is a short pointless instrumental with a spoken word piece. "Thoughts 3:12" continues the chug, almost in a Rob-Zombie groove sort of way. The guitarist definitely adds the meat to this act, as I don't think the vocals are strong enough in areas to really keep these songs afloat. "Who Are You? 4:28" is next, blasting right in with a familiar groove (again, think Rob Zombie) but with a Russian vibe, obviously. They've got the Nu-Metal sound though.

"Do Not Have Forces 3:11" contains a bit of electronic influence and the melodies really go along with it, along with the drum frills. There's also some great melodic leads to be found here. Even if they are playing a slightly upgraded form of Nu-Metal, they're doing a great job of it. "Give Me Freedom 5:47" continues the trend, proving that these guys can execute their formula well enough to appeal to their fans. The vocals occasionally approach gravel territory, but it could be the accent. There's a chorus here and I feel it works. "Illusory World 2:39" begins with even more melodic leads, (this guy can really play) but much like "Thoughts" it could do without these vocals, rapped or not. "You 3:53" is very much the same, I feel the disc is beginning to grate on me now, despite the fact that the guitar solos on it are indeed strong. "Nuclear Waste 1:20" is the final thought on the album, throwing a bit of electronics and some drums together to create atmosphere. It's an odd afterthought, like the buildup of a song; but then it just ends.

There's a bonus track on here which didn't have a name, so I'll just call it "Bonus 3:20." Again, the leads are the best part, (and you can hear some Primus influence) but it doesn't really offer that much to the disc. I mean, it's about the same as the rest, aside from the Primus influence. As expected, the solos certainly deliver though and the track goes out with a melodic bang.

Moria are certainly a strong band, but they won't be for everyone due to their Nu-Metal influenced style and vocal approach. They've certainly got some wonderful melodies, and I wish that the vocalist would give the guitarist more room to breathe on the disc. Not every song on this required vocals. The man on the axe is more than talented and I definitely would've liked to hear more of him. Nonetheless, they're doing an alright job of keeping the old style of Nu-Metal fresh.

Highlights: Empty Land, Phobia, Give Me Freedom (12 Tracks, 40:00)



Night Demon - Night Demon (PR2013) - Night Demon are an old-school throwback that sounds like they'd be a fun band to see live. This EP only contains about 4 songs and runs less than twenty minutes, but it's certainly well played. There are influences in this band that I'm probably too young to name, but that doesn't mean that I can't point them out. Let me give it a shot though...

Let's see, "Night Demon 3:47" makes me think of Motorhead a great deal, but with a much more clean and less mature vocal approach. The band also show that they've got their guitar chops down, as the song explodes with powerful melodies and a strong solo.

"The Chalice 3:13" reminds me of something I've heard from Mercyful Fate, I think. You might even go with Danzig... yeah, definitely Danzig influence here. I'm serious folks, this is a good one. The chorus here is very catchy and the vocal approach fits perfectly with the eerie verse melodies. This is one you could play over and over. But I can say that about the whole album, really.

"Ancient Evil 3:28" picks up the speed a little bit. I'm sure you could place the influence right away, but it's definitely steeped in early thrash, classic heavy metal. They do a good job of revitalizing it though.

"Ritual 3:43" is about the same. It's definitely along the lines of classic thrash metal, NWOBHM, that whole scene. Take that sentence, and apply it to this whole album and you've got the picture of what Night Demon is. And there's not one fucking thing wrong with that. Yes, we've heard it before. But it certainly doesn't hurt or cause any damage to the ears if we hear it again.

Night Demon is definitely a band for those who like to keep it old school. These guys deliver with each and every song, even though they aren't (and don't want to) reinvent the wheel for this kind of music. Remember, there are young ones on this planet who are still getting initiated into the world of metal. This is the stuff you hand to a bunch of scene kids who think that Black veil brides are a metal band.

"No, children." You exclaim. "THIS is METAL!"

Highlights: All (4 Tracks, 15:00)



Sinister Realm - Night Of Evil (PR2013) - I listened to this album while shopping in Wal-Mart and I will say that it made my shopping trip much more enjoyable. So thanks for that, gentlemen. Now, I'll repay that enjoyable shopping trip (even while waiting in line) with an equally great review.

Sinister Realm comes in with thumping heavy metal from the very beginning. Immediately, I'm reminded of Judas Priest as far as riffs and melodies go, but the frontman has a much rougher voice instead of the standard high-pitch vocal we get in the music. As soon as the disc opened up with, "Dark Angel Of Fate 4:30" I was already sold. The chorus is extremely catchy and done with a sense of pride, as can be said with the melodies. The solo is just icing on the cake. Starting your album out with a highlight is the way to do it, gentlemen. But then I get the slightly slower-paced "Bell Strikes Fear 4:19" with yet another killer chorus. "World Of Evil 6:30" starts up with an awesome set of leads, and once again delivers with an excellent vocal performance. I'm quite upset that I haven't seen any reviews for these guys quite yet in magazines, and they really deserve that kind of coverage.

What I really like about these guys, is that the music isn't over the top. It feels true to the nature of traditional heavy metal. You can hear the influences, and you can hear them well-represented. You'd think an almost seven minute track like "World Of Evil" would get boring, but it doesn't. In all honesty, I'm reminded of Iced Earth on this one - but in their less thrashy aspects. One thing I've always liked about IE is their choruses, and these guys deliver on strong choruses just as well as IE, if not better than some of their more recent outings.

Then you've got "The Ghosts Of Nevermore 7:02" which begins with mystic atmospheres and incredibly powerful vocal theatrics. The song is quite long, so you'd have to expect there to be some great instrumental sections, and there are. I'm reminded of Iron Maiden here, with a bit of Symphony X and that's never a bad thing. It's another highlight. "Prophets Of War 5:16" doesn't exactly hit for me as much though. I understand the idea of the song, but I just don't think it's a strong as the rest of the tracks here. I don't like the chorus much either. It's a just a song that I can't feel. There's also "The Forest Of Souls 1:34" here, which is nothing but a short acoustic interlude that gets a bit doomy towards the end. I've never really cared a whole lot for those, but it isn't going to stop people from writing them.

"Cyber Villain 6:26" comes next, and it begins with a out-right fanfare. When the song comes into form, it definitely brings the Priest vibe with it. It also sounds like something that I would hear from Priest as far as the lyrics go. I'm curious as to how Rob Halford would take on this one. The album ends with "Four Black Witches 8:56" which goes back to the doom-laden approach of earlier tracks. It's definitely the longest track on the disc and it faintly reminds me of Candlemass but with a bit more sunlight. It's certainly a good way to end the disc and includes an especially powerful solo.

Sinister Realm have a lot to offer and I have a feeling that they might make any trip more enjoyable. These guys take a major cue from Priest, Candlemass, Iron Maiden and many others; and they almost always deliver a good performance. If these guys haven't been signed yet, something is dreadfully wrong because they succeed in crafting strong and memorable music. If you like doom, they've got it. If you like traditional heavy metal, they've got it. If you like power metal, there are some elements of that as well. Hell, I'd sign them myself if I could. Don't miss out on these guys, because they deliver where it counts. Most zines will probably give this about a 6 or a 7, maybe even an 8; but you can read my thoughts at the bottom of this page and then you'll know why I gave it the score I did. Because quite frankly, I'd listen to a good number of these songs over and over again. And that's what's important overall.

Highlights: Dark Angel Of Fate, Bell Strikes Fear, World Of Evil, The Ghosts Of Nevermore, Four Black Witches (6 Tracks, 44:00)



Serpent Crown - Serpent Crown (PR2013) - This self-titled debut is comprised of frontwoman and guitarist Dara Santhai (Ravana, Santhai) and drummer Will Carroll of Thrash legends Death Angel. Nothing more needs to be said there, I'm sure. Even though Will Carroll went back to bash for these guys in 2012, the album still features him on the kit. Serpent Crown sounds like a sort of thrash-tinged doom with a punk rock nature. Dara's got an "interesting" vocal approach which definitely lends itself to punk; yet she can also really fucking play and that's where we'll give her the credit. She's certainly pissed on most of these songs, or at least sounds as such. Will definitely does some great drumming here, really kicking up the end of opener "No Beacon Of Light 5:15" while Dara pulls out a couple of great solos on "Prelude To The Netherworld 3:42."

The disc itself is quite raw, but audible; kind of sounding like the step between a demo and a finished product. But that's fine, because the doom nature of the band survives better in warm climates than it would in the sterility of modern production. Punk definitely fleshes out more on "The Trickster 4:49" albeit fueled by thrash, and the same could be said for "Doomsayer 5:48." These two songs really kick up the speed of the disc, as the beginning of the album is much slower and are a worthy kick in the teeth. "Children Of The Night 5:48" ends the album with one big shot of doom, but Dara's vocals don't sell me. She does a good vocal performance, it's just not my style.

Serpent Crown won't be for everyone, because some people won't be able to get into Dara Santhai's vocals. There, I said it. It's nothing against her, she does her own thing and it works well with the music. But I know some people who just might not care for it so much, just like a lot of people don't like Jill Janus's approach in Huntress. It has that punk nature, but is a bit more than some people can take. However, she makes up for it with some impressive leads and solos on the album. At any rate, Will does a great job on the drums, the doom sounds like doom and the thrash sounds like thrash and even though it has that punk attitude, you can still tell that this is the drummer of Death Angel. But as I said, he just jumped ship to tour with Death Angel (Apocryphon drummer will take the slack for the band's coming tours) so I have no idea what's going to happen with these guys (and gal) in the future.

If you're curious to check out the band, you can listen here:

(6 Tracks, 28:00)


(No Image)

To The Pain - To The Pain (PR2013) - To The Pain goes all of the way back to 1988, and I'm not sure why they couldn't have brought the original concept to cross Racer X, Megadeth, Metallica, King Diamond and Queensryche together, because that sounds like it would've been pretty badass. The new version of the band features the Racer X solos, with the vibe of Megadeth but with some influences from Killswitch Engage (Why?), Shadows Fall (Why?) and Bullet For My Valentine. (Why, oh Why?)

As for the disc itself, "For The People, Buy The People 4:41" sounds like one of Mustaine's political rants, but without the nasally vocal approach. (There, I said it.) It also does a great job of being a thrash song. There's no new-school vibe here. Additionally, it's got one of those old-school cut-off solos that I would turn up a record extra loud, so that I could hear it (erm... play along with my air guitar) even when it started to fade out. I always thought those fade out solos were supposed to mean to the fans, "if you go see the band live, you'll get to hear the whole solo." Which from countless performances that I've seen on DVD or Youtube, has always been true. (I've only been to one major show!)

"Silent Horror 4:09" is actually a re-recorded track from the 1988 sessions, and you can hear the band's influences pretty heavily engrained in the music. I even picked up some Slayer. It's pretty well done. I'm actually hearing some Anthrax on "City Of Flames 5:25" but it doesn't come out that great. I think this is the track that really turned me off the record.

"The Smell Of Sulfur/Rise Of The Demons" is promised as "slow, Sabbathy brutality" and you can certainly hear that, but through the lens of Anthrax. I think the frontman might go a bit overboard on this one, but there are some good portions here and there. I just don't like the bass licks that much, I think this track would sound better without the bass plucking and I would've liked to hear it without that. You'll hear what I'm talking about and probably will notice the same thing. Just give us the delayed leads. A couple "dun, dun, dun" 's sound much better than "duh-duh-duh-duh-duh."

"Burn With Me 4:04" also sounds like Anthrax. Damn, I guess I'm hearing an unintended influence? It just seems to come off in John Bush style. However, I don't think the vocals work well with this one either. He needs to be a bit more subtle. Solo's nice, though.

"Fuel Injected Nightmare 3:25" is when the new school influences come in, but I just don't think they're needed. It sounds like a bunch of older heads trying to get out to the newer crowd. But John, Steve and the whole crew need to open up the latest issue of Revolver and see exactly what that scene entails these days. I'll include Outburn with that, since they're good on displaying the current trends. Trust me guys, you don't even want to compete with this new scene. Just play what you know how to play, and the true fans will come out of the woodwork for it. Appealing to people these days is just not worth the effort and your music will sound much better for it. The disc ends out with "A Good Revolution 4:09" which features an anthemic chorus and shows that these guys still have a little bit of fight left in them after those not so great missteps that followed it.

To The Pain still have some work to do, that's for sure. It's not that they don't know how to play, hell - they're rusty. They haven't been playing for years and years and need to really get back into the spirit of what they did when they were teenagers. I still believe that these guys would've been great back in 1988, and the fact that they're trying to reach the newer audience is a bit disheartening. If you want to sell these days, you'll have to get your sons and daughters and dress up your sons in a mix of goth and women's makeup and those girl jeans, then you'll have to dress up your daughters in provocative clothing, or you can just make them go completely topless except a sticker over the nipple, like current Century Media phenom; Butcher Babies. Can they sing? Doesn't matter. Make them scream and holler - it works for the modern scene. Hell, it doesn't even have to be as well-crafted as what you have here. A couple of down-tuned riffs with a hint of solo and there you go - modern metal.

Or, you can just do what you're doing and keep true to the original sound of heavy metal music. Because these trends will die, and they'll keep birthing new trends with no sign of an abortion. What you're doing is fine here, it just needs a bit of polish. But trust me guys, trying to appeal to the scene is like throwing your money away. Check out To The Pain if you want to hear some old heads thrash around like it's 1980, but with a few unnecessary twists.

Highlights: For The People Buy The People, Silent Horror (7 Tracks, 31:00)



Uvikra - Bi (PR2013) - Alright, man. I'm just going to tell you right now that you're probably not going to like this review. And that's fine. But I've got to be honest about your project. It's labeled as a progressive black/death project that's laden with atmospheres, but I just don't think it's for me. Granted, I've got a guy who would be interested in something like this; so there's definitely an audience for it.

The mastermind behind the project plays some rather hypnotic melodies while the gravel sounds about as deep as anything I've ever heard, but I have no earthly idea what in the living hell is going on with the drum kit. This is what my problem is with Uvikra. There are just these sections where the kit just sounds like it's having a spasm, but they're supposed to also sound hypnotic. I get the point, but it doesn't come across very well in the music. I just don't think cymbals are supposed to do that, and if they are; then it's not supposed to be that loud in the mix. Some of this also sounds very demo quality too, so it won't appeal to everyone. There's a certain niche audience who will enjoy this and I'm not one in the niche. I also felt that the songs went on too long and with this extremely rough and damn near inaudible quality, it's very difficult for me to get into.

And what in the hell kind of flute is he playing... or is that an animal, or some kind of gremlin or goblin thing he's got there? Seriously, there's a creature that makes a sort of noise that you'd expect from a cuddly cartoon character on "Sentimental Victory 9:01" and I'm not sure what's going to happen to me when I find out that the noise is being made by his hot Asian wife or something. (Whoops!)

As The Fallen Alchemist continues to dig himself deeper into a fucking hole, the album review resumes. Well, there are nice acoustic leads on the disc, as the goblin thing just plays around on the kit. It literally sounds like he just gave one of his kids the drumsticks and told him to play whatever on this disc. Though the atmospheres on the disc are good, I just really don't think I'd ever listen to this disc again. Maybe if it had drums that behaved and not the sound of the goblin thing (or the hot Asian wife he might have) I might want to check it out. But I have no idea what's going on here.

Check out Uvikra if any of what I've said might appeal to you. (Maybe the hot Asian wife might be a hot goblin wife? But how would that work?) As for me, I think I'll pass. I'm dreadfully lost.

(5 Tracks, 32:00)



Kryptos - The Coils Of Apollyon (PR2013) - A palette cleanser truly comes in the form of Kryptos and even though I can hear the Venom and Mercyful Fate influences a mile away; I relish them much more than I ever thought I would. India's apparently got one hell of a metal scene and on their third album, Kryptos prove that it's getting even stronger. These guys have opened for Iron Maiden, Dark Tranquillity, Kreator, Amon Amarth and Satyricon among others but they're certainly worthy of their own headlining performance.

"Anubis 4:30" is one hell of an opener that shows the band coming on exceptionally strong from the very beginning and the title track "The Coils Of Apollyon 4:09" continue the melodic blackened heavy/thrash approach that these guys truly succeed at. There are those bands who come out of nowhere and these guys are one of them. Just listening to these guys does them justice and they really are as good as the Indian metal underground claims.

You can certainly hear the Maiden in the melodies, but with that added vocal rasp, it just comes off so much more vile. "Serpent Mage 6:51" is a bit slower in approach, but it contains and orgasmic instrumental section that must be heard to be believed. I remember when metal used to sound like this. "Nexus Legion 5:23" makes me think of a thrashier Dark Tranquility and that works for me. "Eternal Crimson Spires 6:57" features a bit more groove and fierce hook on the verses, not to mention the strong melodies. Can these guys do no wrong?

"Spellcraft 3:49" continues with the awesomeness, and at this point it doesn't even matter if I continue with this review. The album's perfect. I really mean that, folks. This is what metal used to sound like and somewhere in India, that sprit came back. Everyone who is frustrated with the current scene will find something to like in Kryptos. "Starfall 6:04" is completely bloated with melodies, solos - just guitar in general - and with Nolan's acid-mouthed rasp, the band just couldn't sound any better. I'm speechless.

The last track on the disc before an outro is "Vision Of Dis 8:10" which begins with some wonderful guitar theatrics and includes some great thrash sections amidst the savagery of the vocal deliverance. As for the outro, it's a small piece called "The Isle Of Voices 1:37" and sounds like an unexpected sort of beauty to be found at the end of the disc. But I can't really knock it, because it's at least done with the same sort of passion found on the rest of the disc. But some heads might feel a bit... well, puzzled. Just save yourself the thinking and replay the first track. There. Problem solved.

Kryptos is a force to be reckoned with, just like Meshuggah and Melechesh, they are one of those bands who came out of nowhere and have the potential to leave their mark on a whole generation. Which would be great, because that might null the djent craze a bit. Maybe. At any rate, I strongly recommend Kryptos to all metalheads; throughout the world. They really are that good.

Highlights: All (9 Tracks, 47:00)



Impiety - The Impious Crusade (PR2013) - it's awful odd to me that almost every metal/rock magazine in town (Decibel and Revolver so far) has been giving these guys a good score for this quite short EP, and not only that - apparently people are quite happy that these Spanish black/thrashers are now doing more technical things. I guess I can't blame them for attempting to soar into more technical realms, but it doesn't really sound like black metal anymore. Forgive me for being the elitist bastard this time around, but mixing technicality and classic thrash with black metal just doesn't work for me. It just sounds like Impiety is trying to be someone that they're not.

And sure, they've got it. I won't deny that fact. The EP is well put together, kind of like Atheist with a bit more of a black metal bite and definitely the same notion of thrash that they've always had, but I just didn't feel it. It's technical blackened thrash and I'm sure that will appeal to you, but I liked it when it was just regular old blackened thrash metal. To some, this is going to be the best thing they've ever heard from the band. It'll also get people into Impiety, who previously weren't into the band. Like Watain, they're definitely on their way up the steps of becoming a big thing in the popular metal scene. But I don't think they care at this point either. These guys aren't getting any older and sometimes you do what you have to do, in order to monetize your act. Yes, the world's economy is apparently that much of shit right now. I can't say that they didn't try though, as some good leads still manage to come through on the title cut (5:23) and
"Lucifer's Legions 3:08" which shows me that these guys still fucking have the blackened thrash spirit despite all the technical play they did for most of this disc.
The enhanced production quality of the disc works in their favor, as the band has never sounded better. But to be honest, I'd like this better if it was just a single called "Lucifer's Legions." That got my head banging and my fist up in the air.

But then there was the final track, which every magazine writer should lose his job for not mentioning in magazine printed reviews. The band included "Super Trouper 4:11" at the very end of the EP. It's a very old pop song, I have no fucking clue who did it. It's kind of catchy, maybe better than most current pop. I think it's a wonderful addition to the disc and should have been mentioned in reviews. After hearing this, I really want to do a metal cover of it. I can see it now...

(You can skip this part if you want. Not necessary for the review.)

First there's got to be some pretty fierce drumming in the background, a mix of blasts and thrash, like Impiety's good at. Alright, I've got that, now for the guitars. The main melody line of the song is rather saccharin, so we need something that matches the same melody, but comes off just a bit harsher. Not too harsh, I don't want to kill the vibe. So many bands cover pop songs in death metal, but you can fuck it up if the melodies aren't right. Remember that pop is all about melody, so if the song is not recognizable, you've failed.

The chorus is the main part of the song. I wouldn't want to growl it, that's a good place for a scowl. Definitely want to hold the note on "...number one" to really cement the fact that this is supposed to be a very brash version of the original, that part of the song has to 'stick." I really don't think anything should be growled to tell you the truth. Overused cookie monster = no substance and makes the death metal genre look bad. Sure, you could kick up the grooves and do cookie monster - it would work, kind of like Eddie Kim did for some of his work, and I've heard Ten Masked Men do the same... but in the end, it wouldn't be anything original. Just another death metal pop cover, of which thousands exist on Youtube already.

Another thing that would make this one come off rather revolting, is the fact that the vocal element should be obscenely venomous, real piss n' vinegar. The whole vibe needs to make the lyrics sound satirical, without changing one actual word in the song. Doing an extreme metal cover of "Super Trouper" (Is it an Abba cover?) would be difficult, but I'm sure it can be done in so harsh a way, that Abba's agents are threatening the book and three slightly smaller volumes at the Youtube video that gets released for it. When you've pissed off the agents, you've successfully pulled off a good cover. When you've pissed off the artist, THEN YOU KNOW YOU'VE DONE A GREAT COVER!

Also, this could be done with use of a video. Take Hall and Oates "Maneater" for example. Not only have I thought that this song would translate well into death metal, if one takes the symbolism of a harlot and twists it around to mean actual cannibalism; then we've got one hell of a fucking video. I had an idea to show some hot new intern walk into an office one day, but every day she seduces one of the men who work there and that guy isn't there the next day - as she's walking back into the office - that's when the chorus comes in and images of her devouring the man (extremely graphic shit, like devouring his entrails) flash as she walks back in for the next feeding. I mean, we've got blood dripping out her mouth, and just this ungodly look on her face, like she's devouring something really tasty. Except it's a liver, or a spleen, maybe even an arm. But the result would be the same. The agents would shit themselves, wonder what just happened; and the thing would become some huge hit that everyone's talking about.

(Now Resumes The Review)

At any rate, I'm really upset that the "Super Trouper" on here is somewhat of a joke by the band, and that they didn't have the balls to actually cover it. Yeah, I'm calling you out, Impiety! You've can throw Satan all over the albums and lyrics, but the real evil will be found in this cover. But will you guys actually do it? That's my question. I think Satan would want you to cover this track. I know I would.

Highlights: The Impious Crusade, Lucifer's Legions, Super Trouper (6 Tracks, 23:00)



Revolution Harmony - We Are (PR2013) - Revolution Harmony is a song with a purpose. The music was created by Ray Holroyd with help from some major heavy hitters like Ihsahn (Emperor), Serj Tankian (System Of A Down/Serj Tankian) and a guitar solo by Devin Townsend (DTP, DTB, SYL). There's also a female vocalist here, but she's uncredited for some reason. As for the song itself, it's dedicated to the life of Nelson Mandela. Proceeds of the track go to BUSKAID.ORG.ZA, so be sure to check it out. BUSKAID helps provide instruments to South African kids, which is a great thing. I'd rather them have guitars then guns.

Ihsahn sticks to his clean approach with some harsh right towards the end, but it's too late in the song and goes right into Devin's extremely interesting solo. It's certainly one of his more interesting solos. Basically, the song is set up with Ihsahn on the verse and Serj Tankian on the chorus portion. It's a strong and catchy track, but might be a bit over-bloated with piano bits and atmospheres that really don't need to be there. At any rate, it's got a very powerful message so definitely check it out - especially if you like helping people.

(1 Track, 6:38)



Erimha - Reign Through Immortality (PR2013) - They say, that if you put enough monkeys together in a room with a typewriter, that they'll eventually type out the complete works of William Shakespeare. Well, if you put enough core guys into a room with some musical instruments, you'll eventually get something that vaguely reminds me of Dimmu Borgir's breakout release, Death Cult Armageddon. This is Erimha's second album, and if you haven't heard their first one yet; it's because no one knew who they were until Victory signed them.

I swear, from looking at the advert in Revolver which exclaimed "Black/Death Metal" and then finding that the band was on Victory Records, I quickly expected the same results that I received. Erimha is black metal through the lens of core, of that there is no doubt. There's a triumphant little atmosphere that begins the album, but after that you'll get a mix of scowls and deathcore growls. Along with, guess what? Dimmu Borgir symphonics and a mix of deathcore and black metal riffs.

Now, let's bring up another band. Grim Tower fans might be well aware of Sidious and that I definitely praised their blackened deathcore effort. So if I liked that disc, why would I not like this one? Sure, "Ascetic 4:16" has it's moments, and I can't say that they're not trying - it's definitely the black metal album for core fans, but I've heard this done better. "Condemned To Desolation 3:13" would be nothing without the keys and Dimmu melody rip-offs. Damn, where have I heard this before? Hold on. Maybe I'm going the wrong way with this. Yeah, these guys aren't THAT bad. At least, they're borrowing from bands that I actually don't mind listening to. This could've been just another BVB or Motionless In White or whatever the fuck else these kids are listening to these days. (How is Asking Alexandria metal, Metal Storm?) But it isn't. So let me continue my review.

"Saunter To Extinction 3:02" actually does manage to incorporate some nice atmospheres, so the guy on keyboards is no amateur. He knows what he's doing. Sounds like they may have recorded with a full orchestra, and if they did; I'm not going to knock that. "The Ritual Of Internicon 3:54" doesn't really one-up the formula any, it's just another day at office for them, but the frontman is certainly trying. I can hear his voice straining, there's emotion being put into these scowls. The riff melodies are also quite strong. This guitar player isn't just plucking any old thing. The album also is devoid of breakdowns. Maybe it's not so bad, after all.

Then we've got the one track I actually really love on the disc, called "Metaphysical Countenance 6:57" which reminds me a bit of Graveworm. The chorus portion here slays and even though it's only one of two long songs on the disc, it's warranted the length. It's not a song obsessed with pounding the shit out of the kit and a lot of people are going to skip it because it's not quite as heavy as the rest of the tracks. But I mean, we get it - it's symphonic blackened deathcore. Yet this is much better than I thought. I mean, there's not much in me that can doubt this track. Especially the ending. That guy's vocal range is fucking fantastic.

"Verdict Of The Soul 3:51" however doesn't sound much unlike other regular old symphonic black metal bands that I've heard. It's just not that great. The deathcore vocals don't make it much better, but at least it's got a solo. Things could be worse. "Cataclysmic Tides 4:44" reminds me completely of something I'd find on Death Cult Armageddon. But that's fine, because maybe it'll get the younger heads interested in that record. There's no deathcore there, but it'll show them where these guys got their influences and that's a great thing. The disc ends with the multi-faceted epic "Metempsychosis 10:08" which plays Dimmu some more, atmosphere included.

I can't even tell you how much this sounds like Dimmu Borgir, but only so far as the Death Cult Armageddon album. It's important to repeat myself about this one, because it came up the most. Not even PEM, this is definitely the one that came after. But it actually makes me kind of smile, because there will be so many young people who'll rediscover those old albums and hear great tracks like "Kings Of The Carnival Creation." I'll never forget that one. I really wonder what those guys would have to say about this album, because in a way it's a sort of tribute - a modernization of their sound. But it is still modern, right? Damn. No. Of course not. Shit, I'm getting old! (pounds on walls in frustration) At any rate, Erimha goes to show me (how fucking old I am, damn!) that the next generation of popular black metal is already starting to rise up and conquer.

Alright, so I'll bow and agree with the other magazines on this one. Erimha is really not that bad. It's not my preference, but it certainly could be much worse than this. At least they're trying to do their influences justice.

Highlights: Metaphysical Countenance (10 Tracks, 46:00)



Battlecross - War Of Will (PR2013) - Obviously, a band named Battlecross would be some sort of pagan folk metal act, right? I mean, that's what you think of when you hear the name Battlecross, right? But if you think that, then like me; you'd be wrong. When you think of this Battlecross, think of Skeletonwitch with the addition of deathcore vocals. Bah! Did we really need this? In any case, the album is definitely a bit of a basher, it's going to give you a good headbang for your money if that's what you're looking for. But don't expect anything amazing.

"Force Fed Lies 3:20" isn't so bad, until the deathcore grunts come in. It's rife with melodies and contains a lot of the scream/scowl approach (and is delivered well, I might add) that you'd get with Arsis. "Flesh & Bone 3:29" starts out with one of the most impressive melodies on the disc, and includes some true prog hidden in the mountains of core. I feel that these guys are much better than they showcase themselves, but are trying to reach the current audience. "Never Coming Back 2:24" is entirely too short to care about, but it tries so damn hard to be death/thrash. It really does. A nice set of melodic leads try to come through, but they're just thrown right out the window in the place of a screaming solo. Not such a bad choice, fellas.

"My Vaccine 4:20" once again starts out great, but then I get another "WTF happened?" moment as it returns to the same plodding death/thrash/core. I liked these guys better when they were Impious. Looking at the band picture, these guys look like the very definition of a motley crew. I'm wondering if the guy with the awesome beard is the vocalist, because if he is; I just want to see this incredible scream come out of such a gruff looking man.

"Get Over It 4:59" has some nice riffs, but it follows the same pattern. I know that these guys are "genre x" metal, but sometimes you get really aggravated when most of the songs just sound the fucking same. "Ghost Alive 3:19" is the same fucking song with different lyrics and altered melodies. "Wage A War 3:25" actually throws a little old school Killswitch vibe into the mix. (I can't believe I'm saying old school Killswitch, since I remember when they debuted!)

"The Will 3:48" is also very much the same thing, but "Beast 3:56" manages to - for the love of god - fucking change the tempo. Just hearing the drummer do something different is great. My old band had more to offer than these guys did. At least we changed the damned tempo so not every song sounded the fucking same. Alright, even if you do add some brutal death metal elements into the mix, it's not going to save you, Battlecross. The album ends with "Never-Ending Night 3:07" which just ends the disc out with more of the same.

I'll be honest, there's not one fucking song here that I did like. I thought some were better than others, but when you take in the fact that "Get Over It" sounds like "Ghost Alive" sounds like "Wage A War" sounds like "The Will To Overcome" sounds like "Never-Ending Night" then you get the picture. There's battle to this cross, but not a hell of a lot of fight. As I said, legitimate moments of prog do exist on opener "Force Fed Lies" and I have no idea why they were scuffed on the rest of the disc. At points in the album, there are also wonderful injections of melody. But these guys just want to do the same thing on every track, and that doesn't work. It just doesn't. Where's the fucking substance?

The band covered one of my personal favorite Pantera tracks as a special edition bonus. It's "Fucking Hostile" of all tracks, and I'm not really too worried about hearing it. Call me what you want, but I loved the original so much, that I don't want these guys to tarnish it for me.

(10 Tracks, 36:00)



Into The Flood - Vices (PR2013) - What better way to follow up core-laden death/thrash, then with slightly experimental deathcore? Into The Flood offers just that, with each one of these thirteen cuts not being entirely too long. Heck, the longest track that these guys offer is at the end of the album, and it's just a few minutes over four. The title track is nothing more than an intro, with opener "The Destroyer 4:01" showcasing some harsh screams, deathcore vocals and some gravel in places, while the music itself seems to take a turn every which way but loose. But at least they're trying.

The djent covered "David Scheinost 3:25" injects a bit of atmosphere, while "Sacrificing The Worm 3:32" adds a bit more groove and a really unexpected scream, that sounded like it was one of agony, rather than rage. "Mirrors 3:08" tries to be a deathcore as possible with grunts left and right and some turns into full-on gravel that back what is just as multi-faceted an act as this band has been. It's still deathcore, but at least they're trying to add at least one new element every time.

"Regret 3:41" brings back the djent, but does nothing new. I might have to retract that last comment. It seems they're running out of steam. "Disconnected 3:35" also features our friend djent (but when he comes over to visit, he sometimes never leaves.) "21:4" has a bit of death/thrash influence, but for like two seconds. What are these guys doing? As a matter of fact, you can probably put all the death/thrash elements together and make one good song out of them. A solo is also useless if you're just going to raise the bass in the breakdown so we can't hear it. "Your Judgement Is What Condemns You 3:02" is nothing to right home about. But "Faitheater 3:34" might be one of the band's better outings. "Eye For Eye 2:44" sounds the same as everything else. The album ends with "By Way Of The Snake 4:03" which is the longest track on the album.

All in all, it sounds like deathcore with extra things thrown in. Very sporadic deathcore; but still deathcore. Kind of run of the mill, if you ask me. Some deathcore bands I can respect - but this isn't one of them. Sure they're mad, but that doesn't mean that they're good. I saw a review in Outburn giving this a 5/10, which is mediocre. But I'm going to go a half of a point lower than that, because they at least tried to add a few extra elements into the music.

That being said, I still wouldn't recommend it.

(13 Tracks, 42:00)



Castle - Blacklands (PR2013) - Castle, not surprisingly; is not made of band members who represent the idea of an actual Castle. They aren't dressed as royal guards, and the frontwoman is not dressed as a queen. (Too much Game Of Thrones for me, I think.) However, the band does lay down a mean version of stoner/doom metal with psychedelic elements. But one of the oddest things about this act, is that it doesn't have a strict singer and while opener the psychedelic fuzz-rock of opener "Ever Hunter 4:32" prominently features a female vocal, "Storm Below The Mountain 3:25" features a rather gruff male vocal. There's nothing really wrong with this, as it gives everyone a turn and adds a different style to the band's music. (But the internet is going to be fighting over who does it better, I assure you.)

In addition, this style change creates a bipolarity to the act. One which I feel is genre-stereotypical. Pay attention to this, because it's important. The heavier portions of the band feature the male vocalist, while the lighter more atmospheric portions of the song will feature the female vocalist. She's made not to have to sing over the more thunderous parts of the album and perhaps that was the band's idea (the whole orc and elf thing ala Battlelore) but these days, I think we need to open that box up a bit more. I've seen women belt out lyrics with the best of men, and while drums and guitar thrash madly about. "Curses Of The Priests 5:30" is the biggest example of my observation here, as it features the two vocalists, behaving in the same expectable way. Then the song that follows that is "Venus Pentagram 2:57" which sounds almost like occult rock, instead of the thrash metal. And guess what? Female vocals are prominently featured.

But enough about this, as it's a minor gripe. Castle are able to craft memorable psychedelic/stoner rock with metal elements here and there, and definitely know how to create just as memorable atmospheres. Some songs are certainly more rock-oriented, as I've named; but there are certainly a couple of thrashers on here too. The thrashers feature a man with a stark British tongue, almost in that it reminds me Sabbat/early Skyclad, so that's a definite plus from my perspective. This is the kind of stoner rock/doom/psychedelic music that sounds just like you'd expect from the band's image and the album cover. It's like looking at a box of Cheerios and knowing how it will taste after you've bought it. While Castle adds nothing new to the table, they certainly lay down some worthwhile melodies and impeccable solos. I'd certainly recommend the act, just for the fact that it employs both the male and female touch to this genre which is normally fronted by either one or the other (Demon Lung, Kadavar.)

Simply put, Castle certainly has something to offer to fans of the genre; but they won't be making converts anytime soon. It's tried and true 70's influenced stoner rock/doom that works just the way it always has. I thought it was a decent enough performance, so there's really not much else to say here. Go check it out, if you think you'd be interested.

Highlights: Curses Of The Priests (8 Tracks, 36:00)



Sadgiqacea - False Prism (PR2013) - Oh, Sadgiqacea... Boy I wish you guys had picked a less pretentious name for your act. I can't even pronounce it, let alone spell it, and I'd like to think of myself as a rather astute master in the art of spell-craft. (What? You didn't think that was punny?)

But let's get down to brass tacks here (another phrase that I'm not quite sure of the origin) and discuss this extremely intricate release. Although my press pics display only two musicians in the act, there are apparently two more (according to what I saw in a Decibel interview) and the other two gentlemen are apparently chopped liver (which is a probably a good dish that gets a bad rap.) All joking aside, this act utilizes a sort of psychedelic post metal with influences of black metal that might not come off too uncommon for fans of Inter Arma, but on a much different scale.

"False Segments 8:40" starts off with psychedelic fuzz metal, definitely playing up the doom elements that have helped to make up the post metal scene (don't deny it, they're definitely responsible.) Even though the band doesn't go into full on black metal blasts during the track, the frontman certainly employs his best scowl in the mid-portion of the track and the riffs take a slight turn into still post, but certainly grimier territory. In laymen's terms, the scowls compliment the riff melodies. It doesn't sound like a band who decided to throw something together.

"False Cross 10:23" starts out with a very tribal nature, but when the heaviness comes in to the mix, (and it's the same heavy, so you know what to expect) the vocalist actually goes for more of a deathier vocal notion and it pretty much loses the black metal elements, that some might argue it never really had in the first place. We could just quit beating around the bush and say that these guys are another post metal act with harsh vocals and that's about it.

"False Prism 6:06" is of course, our title track and it's the only one that seems to get the black metal influence. The track begins blasting and sounds like, well... raw black metal. Post metal moments are made later, but I can see most people making their own personal cuts on the track, removing all the post metal stuff and just keeping the three minutes of raw black metal; considering it to be the best thing the band's ever done. But we all know that this isn't true and it kind of seems like a cop-out in a way; a post metal band trying to appeal to black metal audiences but not being quite sure how to do it yet. Maybe on True Rhombus they'll get it right.

"True Darkness 14:44" is the last track on the disc, which does sound good; I'll admit - but it's really more of the same. There's a handful of black metal riffs mixed in with post metal and some slightly progressive elements. But you can just go ahead and apply that statement to the whole album. Alright, so maybe they do go back to blasts and scowls during the song, but not long enough for it to matter. I understand that they are making an atmosphere, but why even have black metal moments on the disc if you aren't going to bother with flushing them out? It's like if I made a death metal disc and included thirty seconds of saxophone. Would people tell me that my act is a jazz/death metal act because of thirty seconds of sax in one song? That's kind of how I feel about this act. Thirty seconds of black metal does not make you black metal. You would be post with harsh vocals and some light verges into black metal realms. Let's change "light" to brief. Some brief black metal verges. But for the sake of these guys, at least they know how to end a disc; and True Darkness ends with some light atmosphere and psychedelics that go out in a fashion which screams doom. It's a repeating riff melody, almost like you'd expect on the end of Opeth's "Deliverance." And of course, the album ends on that note.

Sadgiqacea really needs to take a cue from Inter Arma, because they have actually been successful in their attempt to combine black metal with post metal elements. This is more post than black, but it certainly thumps and if that's what you want; that's what these guys will give you. I'd prefer Thrown, but if you want to see how 'merica does it, then check out these guys. It's not a bad album, just not something that I haven't already heard. I listened to the disc about three or four times prior, just to make sure I heard the whole thing - and it did sink in well enough that I could actually recommend it. Just don't expect this to be some black/post metal/doom hodgepodge because there's just not as much frost here as you'd like.

But it is a change of pace for post metal fans, and I'd certainly like to hear what the next album would be (and if it'll be another shape! Maybe they'll do animals next time and it'll be Metaphysical Giraffe.)

(4 Tracks, 39:00)


Powerwolf - Preachers Of The Night (PR2013) - I've never heard Powerwolf before now, and I'll certainly say that they're a very interesting concept for power metal. These guys look like Dimmu Borgir, but sound like Pavarotti fronting thrashy power metal.

"Amen & Attack 4:02" starts the disc up with a furious display of the band's theatrical nature to choruses, and then "Secrets Of The Sacristy 4:00" sounds like the same religious themed operatic vocal belting over Helloween style riff melodies. The whole nature of this record is almost like a metal version of a papal choir and it's certainly religious. You'll hear your "amen" and "hallelujah" more than you can count, so be ready for that. "Coleus Sanctus 3:51" definitely hammers my last point about the papal choir. This man can certainly sing, and the organs certainly make me think I'm in church, but there's a definite power metal influence here that can't be denied. I just don't think I've ever heard a papal choir this heavy before. But damn, it's certainly catchy.

"Sacred & Wild 3:47" lets up on the choral theatrics and goes for a punchier nature. This is about the band's biggest stab on actual power metal so far and it's a good stab. "Kreuzefuer (Crossfire) 3:54" is as you might expect, in German and features the theatrical choruses again and such. You know what to expect with this by now. "Cardinal Sin 3:53" is a bit more towards speed metal, so there's a break from the obsessively holy nature of this disc. "In The Name Of God (Deus Vault) 3:21" defends the bloodshed of holy wars, so I can't really defend it because people killing each other over whatever gods they've made is absolutely foolish. "Nochnoi Dozor 3:52" is the same thing, more or less.

"Lust For Blood 4:01" actually sees the band without so much of that damn choir influence. It's good to see things not so theatrical and much heavier. You can do great power metal, so why do the choral shit? But there's no stopping these guys. "Exatum Et Oratum 4:03" continues with the same power metal choral approach we've heard for most of the album, but the album ends with a closer in the form of "Last Of the Living Dead 7:49." It's not really almost eight minutes long as the length suggests - but it is a much slower and grandiose effort. The ending features an instrumental section which sees the album going out in the same way it came in, incredibly overblown.

Powerwolf is a great attempt at mixing power metal with papal choral hymns, but I just feel that the effort is entirely overblown and will come off as laughable to most metalheads. But if it sounds like something you'd be interested in, give it a shot. Definitely different.

Highlights: Secrets Of Sacristy, Coleus Sanctus, Sacred & Wild, Cardinal, Lust For Blood, Extatum Et Oratum (11 Tracks, 46:00)



Astronoid - Stargazer EP (2013) - I bought this one in support of the artist, as he was only offering the piece for 2.00 and I took advantage of it. I don't know how much it costs now, but I think the material here is certainly worth two dollars. I wouldn't say it's worth more than that though. Considering an MP3 is 99 cents, (and that's Amazon price) and there are only two real songs to be offered on this piece; the two dollars is merited. Stargazer is a fifteen minutes black/shoegaze trip that let me down just a bit, as I was really warming up to the harsh vocal/shoegaze melodies of the last release. Sure, this stuff is more accessible, but I felt both the grime and beauty of that second track and this album just doesn't offer so much of that.

"The Stargazer 6:51" definitely features black metal riffs and melodies, (tremolo picking or whatever the fuck you call it) but it champions clean vocals, with scowls in the background. There's certainly a great deal of melody and structure to be had in the song, and it's certainly in the same vein as you might expect from Krallice (of whom I'm reminded of) though much cleaner. "Detachment 1:53" is a short electronic atmosphere which really isn't that special.

"Lightspeed 5:20" is the last real track on the disc and moves disappointingly away from black metal and more in the direction of bands like Intronaut and Last Chance To Reason, (Stay with me here, I have already heard Level 3 and can attest to this change) which is a direction that I wish they hadn't taken. That's because we have so many bands out there like this already. Thrash cuts in later on the track, but then I've realized that it's almost over by now. He keeps the same clean approach while the thrash is pounding and opens up for a nice solo portion. This song will sell well, but it's just not as great as what I heard in the beginning. The man can sing though, and I'll give him that. "Prologue: Equilibrium 1:45" is the end of this disc, but seems to be a segue into the band's first full-length outing. As far as a track, it's not worth the money. Sorry, but I just don't feel that I should have to pay for very short instrumental pieces which don't offer much. The EP would actually be better without them, in all honesty.

Astronoid worked very hard on this, so I'll give them that. But I'll be honest and admit that I feel I was duped. I expected four tracks this time around and only got the same as the last album, but with two miniscule atmosphere/instrumental things sandwiched in. But I'm not going to cry about two dollars. These guys need it, so I'll support their efforts. At any rate guys, just consider the two bucks payment for that first impressive release which I loved so much.

Highlights: The Stargazer, Lightspeed (4 Tracks, 15:00)


Closing Note: Thoughts On Reviewing

"I like to think of my score as my personal reaction to an album. Would I check this out? If it was sitting at the store with a 7.99 price tag on it, because it's not the "hip teeny bopper stuff" and I grabbed it because it looked interesting, would I enjoy it?

This has happened to me before. I bought an album from Saxon for 3.00 because the video rental place also doubled as some sort of flea market. (Neither exist anymore, except for a 24 Hour Fitness Gym, which isn't actually open 24 hours.) The name of the disc was "Unleash The Beast" and I was absolutely gobsmacked by some of the tracks on the disc like "Circle Of Light" and "Ministry Of Fools." I also bought a disc at our (now-defunct) FYE brick and mortar store called "Judas Priest - Demolition." it was quite cheap, and I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not. Now I know that it's one of the non-Halford discs, but I still fucking liked it and still have my copy (which was a promo that someone sold to the store.)

So this is what I think of when I grade an album. It's not about whether or not an album is perfect or not, it's about how many tracks you'll actually like on the disc, and how well you'll actually like those tracks. If there's five tracks on a ten track album that you really like, chances are that you won't think of the album as mediocre. "Yeah, there's only five good tracks on the disc, but they're really fucking good tracks." You're not going to say it's awful because half of the album wasn't as good, especially if you can't get the first five tracks out of your head. It might be true that said LP should've been and EP, but at any rate; it's not going to be a 5. You'll give it an 8, because you fucking love those tracks. Now if you get an album that has five great tracks, and two or three that are better than decent, but the rest are filler; you're probably going to give it about a 9. It may not deserve a nine, but in reading reviews, I'll see plenty of 10's where they don't need to be. A 10 is considered by us reviewers to be the best thing a band's ever released, or has ever released in a while; but it does get over-used quite a bit. I try to limit my tens and use more 8's when necessary. It doesn't mean that your album isn't bad. I'd be happy with an 8 myself and it'll make me try a little harder next time.

Just keep in mind that it's always the opinion of another person. I hate to say this, and sometimes I'll see something in a magazine where a reviewer praises something high that I personally didn't like so much. But then you take in mind the kind of music that they listen to. Even though we don't try to be, a reviewer always has a set bias, and major music critics are the worst. Just with movie and game critics. You might watch a movie and think it's awesome, while someone else might not like it for some other reason that might only make sense to them, in all actuality. That's fine, it's what makes us human. Maybe one day you'll open a book and discover that it's one of the best things you've ever read, just to later find out that it's been slaughtered on the internet. Comments like "Author's "Such And Such" was better!" might make you upset, or even make you question your own judgement. I got onto Chris Dick about his treatment of the latest Summoning record, seeing that later on, it was given an 8 by Daniel Hinds in the latest issue of Outburn magazine. So despite my posted tirade here at the Tower, not everyone hated the new Summoning record as much as Chris Dick. It all depends on you, first and foremost; but I try my best to (and I say this while gritting my teeth) keep an open-minded opinion about the material unless it's just really awful to begin with. But that too, is my opinion. Amy Sciaretto (she's quite well known in the rock/metal world for writing) gave the New Year's Day record an 8 in the same issue that the band was featured in. She also mentioned Paramore as a great act, one that an ex-girlfriend of mine considered to be great; (even though she also enjoyed cutting herself in the tub) and I was all ears until I heard them and wished that I could flush the sounds out of my brain forever. But everyone has their own opinion and while I would've rather had my wisdom teeth pulled than to have to listen to the Top 40's pop disguised as rock/metal music which made up Victim To Villain, Amy rather enjoyed the disc. I guess "to each their own" might be the best way to put it. You may not agree with me, but at least I'm telling the truth. If a bad I like makes a terrible disc, you're going to hear about it. I don't give people a handicap because I'm a fan of their music. But if you've stuck with us long enough, you already know this.

Next week, I'm not going to post a week of reviews. But don't think that I'm leaving this work, because that's not true. Instead, what I'm going to do is to get the rest of these 2012's up and off my HD and to get some other surprises up here that I've been talking about for a few months now. Then after that, I'll have a massive coverage of everything of merit that came out during the Summer on the first week of Fall. Fall releases are POURING in, and it appears that GETMETAL is getting them faster than we promoters can actually get them promoted. Perhaps this is a sign that the fans are becoming press?

Till next time, folks...


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Week 82.5 (July 20th, 2013)


Osyron - Harbinger (2013 Spotlight Review) - I'll be honest. I wasn't so sure what to think about Osyron when I first heard them. Despite the fact that they're being touted on Rockbox (which now for some reason, appears to be offering torrents of promos complete with info and press pics) which is as good a promotion factor as any these days; I found them on the site a few weeks back because their genre description sounded interesting. These guys play a very convincing version of progressive power/thrash metal, rife with guitar and keyboard theatrics. Musically, they're a downright powerhouse.

"Visions 6:34" didn't sell me at first, but "Dormant Insurrection 5:29" did, with it's strong chorus and notable attention to detail. I don't really know who these guys are, but I can tell you that they're going to matter in the metal scene sooner, rather than later. This is a self-released effort? You're kidding me. Labels will be chomping at the bit for a band with this much potential.

"Becoming The Omen 7:47" starts out much like a ballad, where the frontman clearly showcases his amateur vocal approach (he clearly needs to mature and that will come with time) as the song crunches along, allowing just enough sunlight to peer through the mechanical gears. "Gallery Of Fools 4:59" reminds me a bit of melodic death metal without the harsh vocals. Yet there's still some pomp expected in the realms of power/melodic metal.

"Lifting Of The Veil 5:40" kind of reminds me a bit of early Falconer. The vocal approach is subtle, while the musical approach is much more ferocious. These guys also really love the concept of complex midsection instrumentals. I believe that every song on the album features one of these, sans the instrumental which could be taken as one large instrumental midsection.

"Going Under 5:14" starts out with thrash, but makes me wish that the frontman had more vocal bite. He needs to come on much stronger than he does during these rough parts... and the band does get pretty damn rough on this one.

"Ruination 6:10" seems like it's going to follow the same pattern, but plays with keyboards a little more as the song breaks for a brief moment of light before going into something quite Arthurian in nature.

"Silent Judgement 7:30" is one impressive instrumental. It would have to be, to fill up the nearly eight minutes of time that it spans on the disc. If anything, it shows that these unknowns can play. And not just play, but play exceptionally well. That's why I've spotlighted them. The sheer fact the band doesn't mind you downloading their music for your own free enjoyment is mind-boggling in itself.

"A Return 4:25" however, doesn't seem to be quite as strong as the last track. Of course, you might feel different, and think that the frontman's vocals are especially strong here coupled with the wonderful guitar melodies (and some Italian influences too?) that go right into the thundering "Facing Fate 8:41" the longest song on the album. Additionally, it features death metal growls which should really have been featured on more songs. The guy can growl, so why isn't he? "Going Under" should be recorded with growls during the parts which lacked bite. He's trying for a thrash vocal, but isn't hitting it. As for the rest of the song, it's quite layered in the way that an almost nine minute piece might go. I also need to mention that there's about a three minute guitar orgy on the track, so that should speak to some of you. "Prosperity 6:46" ends the album out strong with the same thunder and melody that you've heard for most of the disc.

In the end, I can honestly say that it was a good ride and I'd recommend that you guys check it out. Again, that's why there's a big picture of the album cover which will link you to the band's website on the sidebar. As I mentioned, it's at Rockbox for a trial listen and promotional purposes and I'm also going to end this review by reposting the readme file that comes with that download:


Thanks for downloading our album, and giving it a shot!
We wanted to try and incorporate as many music styles as we could, so hopefully it shows (and sounds good).

If you haven't noticed, this is a concept album. It's the first album of a trilogy, and it's about one man's
struggle against his quickly, and tragically changing environment. Songs 1-3 is Chapter I (Burden), songs 4-7
is Chapter II (Occurrences), and songs 8-11 is Chapter III (Reflections).

Thanks again for listening, and we really want to hear what you think of it! We have a MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, so
you can get in touch with us through any of those sites.

If you like the album and wish to support us, it is available for purchase on most online digital retailers like iTunes, Amazon, Napster, Bandcamp, etc.


So you've got options on this one. You can torrent it to try it out, you can listen to it on the band's Bandcamp. But you can also go ahead and buy it, if it completely blew your fucking mind. Remember that this is the first part of a trilogy and methinks I want these guys in for an interview to talk about this record and future releases. A band with this much talent shouldn't go to waste.

Highlights: Dormant Insurrection, Gallery Of Fools, Lifting The Veil, Ruination, Silent Judgement, Facing Fate, Prosperity (11 Tracks, 69:00)


(NO IMAGE, brings up this instead: Suggest name change to prevent copyright issues!)

The Secret VII - 2013 Demo (PR2013) - This is Scotty CH's new project, many of you might know him from the days when Otep was actually heavy. Not that Smash The Control Machine, Atavist and Hydra weren't good records, but they don't hold a candle to Sevas Tra and House Of Secrets which focused more on the brashness of the act. Scotty left Otep to form another act in 2009, which failed to reach any acclaim and led him to create this new act which is inspired by Morbid Angel style death metal. So how does it fare?

Well, there are just three songs here so it'll be brief; but to the point:

Disc opens with "Krist Murder 3:11" and certainly unleashes a rampage complete with some modern groove and breakdown elements. Certainly a great deal of relentless brutality and some definite promise to be had here. Not incredibly extreme, but definitely catchy. "Dying Revelation 6:05" comes in next, the longest track on the demo. It's a much slower paced track that comes off punchy and incredibly psychotic. I recommend this one be recorded for a debut album (and don't change a thing, guys - leave it just the way it sounds here.) The world needs to hear this. There's even a worthy little solo. "Eternity 4:30" ends the disc out with more of the Morbid Angel fury that he was going for. Definitely has some black/death notions and a hell of a lot of blasting, but it's a great way to end a demo. I actually feel really glad to have gotten my hands on this one. I'd like you all to be able to hear it, but I really don't know if they're going to release this material to the public just yet.

I'm not sure if Scotty is going to read this, but if he is I'll just say one thing. I know that your last project didn't do so well, and since I haven't heard the album I can't commentate on it. But this is some very promising material as far as I'm concerned. I hope that you'll continue the project because it really seems that this is where your heart is. You can hear it in the music and that's what important. I can't wait to hear what The Secret VII will come out with next, especially after hearing "Dying Revelation." Keep up the good work.

(3 Tracks, 13:00)



Blacklist Union - Till Death Do Us Part (PR2013) - Here's a rock band that's composed of 3/4 of Saliva, Hunt Sales (David Bowie's Tin Machine/ Iggy Pop & The Stooges) the guy who helped to write "Butterfly" (I once saw a stripper dance to that song during a birthday party) and Todd Youth who's played with Glenn Danzig, Glenn Campbell and others. Not to mention the other members of the band. Cutting the info short, this is their third album and it's definitely interesting.

How could I explain this... Well, the opener and title track "Til Death Do Us Part" kind of reminds me a bit of the Deftones lighter material but not as pungent. The chorus is the strong point and it's certainly radio ready. Even though I like the riff melodies on "Alabama Slammer 4:13", I don't care much for Tony West's vocal performance. But it's got a punk quality that may resonate with others. Very catchy. "Blown Away 3:51" is a decent ballad, but doesn't reach it's high point until the chorus, which I can say is true for most of the songs on this record. Tony West just seems to be a chorus man for the most part, delivering with the choruses and muttering about the rest of the lines. The same can be said with the kicky "Game Over 3:15" which sounds about like every alt. rock song I've ever heard. "Same Ol' Pressure 2:42" is a bit stronger and has a bit of a bluesy party vibe.

"Diggin' 4 Gold 4:42" is a pretty basic rock track, you've heard many like it. But the solo section is pretty powerful and it reminds me a little bit of The Cult, which isn't such a bad thing. Then again, I'm also reminded a bit of Velvet Revolver. "Feed The Snakes 3:12" really hits the Jane's Addiction vibe with the chorus. it's pretty unmistakable at this point. The rest of the song has a party rock vibe. "I Do 3:00" goes back to the Deftones influence again, but not as pungent as previously mentioned.

"Don't Change 4:21" goes back to the punk vibe. Now it sounds like they're going backwards. Hold on a second... isn't this a cover? Yeah, I could've sworn I heard this on the radio. Where I'm at, we only have one major alt rock station (they used to play metal on Sundays, but don't know if they still do) and they to this day, play the same gamut of songs that they played back when I was in high school. I used to sleep to the radio at night, so I guess many of these songs got subconsciously embedded into my brain and this one I remember. It also reminds me of good, youthful days. When you start to get old, you really want to go back. But you can't. It's life. This is a good representation of the cover, as it reminded me of the original and those good times.

"The Lick Kitty Split Theme Song 3:12" has a dark vibe to it, and sometimes reminds me a bit of Ozzy in the vocal approach. It's a little too much Ozzy though. Really like the riff melodies here. The disc ends with "I Don't Love You Anymore 5:20" which is a light ballad to end it all out with.

Blacklist Union is a decent enough band, they're certainly radio ready and could be quite catchy to the right ears and quite marketable to the right labels. I'm quite surprised that I haven't heard their like on the radio, but then again I don't listen to the radio quite as much as some of my friends do. You can hear their influences in the music, which shows an evolution and it's definitely better than some of the stuff on the radio right now (or at least as far as I've heard.)

Give them a shot, if you want to rock.

Highlights: Til' Death Do Us Part, Same Old Pressure, I Do, Don't Change, The Lick Kitty Split Theme Song (11 Tracks, 41:00)



Steik EP (PR2013) - Steik is an alternative rock band from Russia. I've got three songs on this EP and can't discern any of the titles or the lyrics. At any rate, here goes:

The disc begins with "Крылья 3:58" which is a light way to start the disc and features a strong male vocal with a powerful chorus and an occasional female vocal who will duet. "Я выбираю сам 5:41" is next, being a bit meatier than the last track and featuring another powerful and catchy chorus. It's the kind of music that you really don't need to know the lyrics to enjoy. You can definitely hear the band's roots in American alternative/hard rock music and they play it just as well as we do. There's a nice little guitar section on this one too, which is worth mentioning. The last track on this disc is "Война с самим собой 3:37" and it contains some electronic use at first glance, which is always a good sign of experimentation. There's also a use of vocal filtering. They're trying new stuff and they've certainly found their sound. Again, the track is catchy and there's even a little solo piece this time. It's rather tasteful but just about as long as a radio friendly solo. But that's when it refrains a couple more times before the chorus comes back in to hammer it home. I'd say this last song is full of potential and even takes some metal influence. But it's good to see sister hard rock playing in brother metal's toy box from time to time.

Steik definitely has it. The band has a bull's face as it's logo and shows that this bull isn't shitting around. This is worthy hard rock that is just getting started. I'm sure they'll do quite well in their native and maybe even cross over in to our shores. Whatever the case, check them out. But just so you don't have trouble finding them, the band isn't called Steik in their native; it's Стейк.

Highlights: Я выбираю сам, Война с самим собой (3 Tracks, 13:00)



Seneron - Order Restored EP (PR2013) - This power punk band from Ireland is getting well recognized here in the states for their brand of very catchy rock anthems. An example would be the disc's opener "Please Me 3:23" which follows a pattern of driving alt rock and some well-placed vocal lines. It's already radio ready, so it comes to no surprise that Cleveland and Ohio have already syndicated the EP. The bottom line is simple: You haven't heard of Seneron yet, but you're going to.

"Stand Your Ground 3:39" is a bit lighter, but still manages to kick a little bit of a punch where it counts. Just remember that we're talking about rock music here, so keep your expectations to the level of tasteful rock music and you'll be pleased. "Dead Stare 4:18" brings in a couple of chugs and comes at full-force with a very catchy chorus. Quite simply, I can sing along to Seneron. I can tap my toes, maybe unleash a light head bang in areas. There's a little metal quality here, but it's definitely more for the rock crowd. However, if you're a normal human being who is of allegiance to certain genres; you'll find that Seneron's a great band to begin with. "Just A Kid 3:59" is the last track on the EP, but features a little fire and some light thrash. It's definitely got more substance than most alt rock these days.

If you're looking for rock that actually takes a bit of metal with it and some punk for good measure; Seneron don't disappoint. Be sure to check them out!

Highlights: Dead Stare (4 Tracks, 15:00)



Promise To Take - Ascent EP (PR2013) - Now I've got a metalcore band by the name of Promise To Take. The production on the album is quite clear, there's a welcoming clean vocal tone and the core grunts and djent riffs are here. Very expectable metalcore, all except for the melodies. Some of these melodies are quite powerful like on opener "Burning Edges 4:06" which at times sounds a bit spacey. It's different, that's for sure.

"Cold Blooded Poetry 4:14" continues the disc with some really great melodies right from the very start. Whoever this guitarist is, he's really breaking out of the shell of normal metalcore and almost playing something that resembles "shoegaze core." A solo even breaks into the track, showing that these guys really are trying to do more with metalcore. "Hard And Frail 3:29" starts out rough, but I think that the grunted chorus actually goes well with the melodies. Other than though, it's kind of bland. "Walking Through The Crowd 3:34" ends the album with more core, but lets that guitarist fly loose with his shoegaze riffs when he gets a chance. It's like they go back and forth with these, where one guys says "I've got great melodies" and the other guy says "but I like djent." They finally find harmony closer to the end of the song and that encapsulates into a finishing solo.

Even though I liked two of the songs on here, I didn't like the other two tracks quite so much. Just didn't feel them. When these guys let loose with melodies, they shine. But when they don't, they sound like metalcore band "A". Promise To Take has skills, they just need more time to develop them. And I'm confident that they will. Revolutionize the genre if you think you can, guys. I grew up with it, so I'd like to see a change in core.

Highlights: Cold Blooded Poetry, Walking Through The Crowd (4 tracks, 15:00)



Deformity - When Tomorrow Comes (PR2013) - How in the hell can I explain Deformity without eliciting a chuckle? Well, for starters they really like the self-titled Metallica album and you'll hear plenty of thinly guised Metallica riffs among the Hetfield approach to vocals. He even has the "Aughh!" thing down.

"Burn Them 4:57" is a good way to start, definitely reminding me heavily of the black album. There's also a pretty good solo here. Then we've got "When Tomorrow Comes 5:48" which borrows a little from the intro to "Raining Blood." Maybe if Metallica did it though. I don't know if this is a tribute or what, but they've got Metallica down. "Alone 4:06" is next and I'd swear that it was a Load cast-off, if it wasn't. It's got some light melody portions and a tasteful solo, but I just don't know why these guys are playing mid-era Metallica instead of their own stuff.

"Reflection Of The World 4:43" is next and.... well, you can guess by now. Metallica? Yeah. "The Life Is Better Than Love 6:58" comes in as a ballad and opens up with some very capable melodies. Again, they can play - but they're playing Metallica. As for the length of the track, imagine one of those ballad to heavy to ballad tracks that Metallica's done on and off after the black album. It's good, well played; but sounds like a cover that's not a cover. Same can be said with "Liars 3:49" except that it's much weaker than the last track. "Get A Life 5:45" starts out like it might be an original attempt, but that fades as Master Of Puppets style stuff starts playing, but not as fast sans the flying solo.

Again, point mentioned - they can play. But why Metallica?

"The Clone 5:05" which makes me hold back a bit of a laugh at the title, as this could rightfully be the band's name. Whew, where have I heard those riffs and vocals before? You know, I just can't remember. Do you think you can help me? The disc ends with "The Lost Man 4:08" which is another song from you know who, but it's not you know who. Seriously, where the heck are Metallica's lawyers? This is far beyond tribute. I wonder if I could put this album on and make someone think that I'm listening to Metallica? Like play it at a party, and everyone tries to guess the song, but they can't.

"Is this a new Metallica song? Where did you get this?"

"Top secret demo release. Press only."

"Cool. This sounds really great. I'm gonna blog about it when I..."

"No you won't. Top secret demo release. Press only."

And there you have it. The perfect gaslight gag. "But I swore I heard Metallica!" they'll say. Yes, you can use this album to fuck with someone's head. But in any case, this Metallica knock-off band does a pretty good job of (What do they do a pretty good job of? Being Metallica?) and if you're interested in hearing Metallica that doesn't sound like the Metallica you already have and actually has some structure and substance (Why am I even saying that?) then go check this act out, I guess. I'm kind of lost.

Highlights: When Tomorrow Comes, The Life Is Better Than Love (9 Tracks, 45:00)



Fade-Out - Welcome To My Hell (PR2013) - Fade-Out is a Russian alt metal/nu metal act that's very comparable to Otep. "Welcome To My Hell 2:10" starts out with a fierce female display of vocal bravado, but when she goes to sing; it just doesn't come out that great even though it's technically in tune. "I Realize 3:31" has some growl rapping on the track, but the clean vocal portion will upset your stomach. "Jump! 3:49" features the same d-tune and chug and you can see how much she's really taking from Otep on the vocals. At least she's a got a good growl. Singing opens "Ultima Ratio 4:34" and it's definitely better than it was on "I Realize" but virtually anything is. "Don't Shoot 3:12" has a vile vocal approach with crunching vocals and Russian shouts, but "Five Seconds 2:47" shows me that this woman can actually sing when she wants to... as well as growl, which she showcases quite a bit on the track. It's actually one of the only highlights I've found on the disc. "Twitch For Threads 3:39" is just a mix of clean and growls backed by the same d-tune that's one very damn song here. The music is quite minimalist with the frontwoman's vocals at the forefront of everything. "Annihilation Tool 4:50" is technically the last song here and it's also very much in the vein of Otep. At any rate, I like the vocals here - the woman sounds tough, like she might be able to bench press me a hundred times or something and that to me is quite sexy. But the album isn't over yet.

There's a Russian version of "Five Seconds" here called "Пять секунд 2:48" and I didn't even realize the other one was in English. Her clean vocals sound better in Russian. She should stick to her native. It suits the music better. Remember when Rammstein did English songs? Lame, right? Same here. The last track here is "Три цвета 2:38" and it's from a live show. Meaning that this band plays live in their native and is quite popular. They're also quite good in their native tongue.

To be honest (and strong woman fantasies set aside for a moment) I really would like it if the whole album had been done in Russian. Here on the Russian tracks, I'm noticing a better performance and the flow of the songs is much stronger. I'd have loved it if the whole thing was like this. Fade Out has potential, but not with this album. Hopefully there's a Russian version of Welcome To My Hell, because I think I'd like it much better. I kept trying to figure out what the problem was and it's in her thick accent. The English tongue is a bitch for foreigners (just ask the Finns) and it's just a pain to perfect when you've got a thick accent.

At any rate, check it out if you're interested. They have other albums too more than likely, so check those out if you liked this one. Recommended for fans of Otep and other hard-edged female fronted alt metal bands.

Highlights: Five Seconds, Annihilation Tool, Пять секунд, Три цвета (live version) (11 tracks, 34:00)



Crimson Blue - Innocence (PR2013) - Considered "Nu Art Metal" I think the genre description for this band is true for the most part. They take Nu-Metal riffing and really turn it on it's head by adding some rather oblong moments of avant-garde and shoegaze music like you'll hear on "Iceland 5:22." But then you'll get a regular dose of Lacuna Coil with a little bit of a kick on "LMA (Losing My Angel) 2:47." Then you've got "Clouds 4:17" which entails some unique melody lines and offers a strong performance from the band. The front woman really seems full of spice on this one. These guys could be the next (The) Gathering if they play their cards right.

"Flax 4:35" doesn't need the echo in the background, it doesn't help the piece any. However, the chorus portion seems quite strong and I like the Tool-esque riffing. One thing that Crimson Blue does, is innovate what would be a Lacuna Coil style (much in the same way as Laid8) even though I'll admit that they have quite a bit of fun with djent too. "Ave Sensorium 3:34" incorporates the frontwoman's keytar along with a vocal approach that reminds me quite a bit of Anneke. Anneke Von Giersbergen = Great, so I'm already sold here.

"Nagual 4:47" comes in a bit thicker, but continues the use of the keys and incorporates a bit of a vocal filter (something that's not unheard of on later Lacuna albums) This is beginning to sound like Anneke fronting Lacuna Coil with some progressive and experimental elements thrown in. Why aren't these guys signed? I'd sign them myself! "Forest (Atonement 3:38)" is a bit punk, but still with that influence on the vocals and it just works. It reminds me a little bit of Hole, but with a better vocalist than Courtney Love. There's also a solo on the song, but don't expect amazement. This one's actually radio ready. It's kind of catchy in an odd sort of way.

"H. U. Lab Experiment I - The 6th Sense 7:49" is the most experimental of all the tracks on the disc thus far. They throw in some Primus riffs and a few gaze melodies for the first bit of the song, elevating into a lighter phase and a small, tasteful solo. Electronics and all sorts of ideas are then thrown into this interesting hodgepodge of sound. I'd be a fool not to highlight such an impressive performance as this one. At least the band shows with this album that they're musically talented, and are more than worth their salt to the scene. Again, these guys should be signed immediately. They're worthy of a major record deal.

"September 5:29" is next on the disc, showing the once again amazing vocal capability of the front woman. The disc is really starting to warm up for me now. "Haesitaio 7:04" finally comes in and blows the lid off of everything. Not only is it one of the catchiest songs on the disc with Tool influenced riffs in the beginning, and a couple moments of heaviness that balance in between a Gathering-esque atmosphere that must be heard to be believed, but it also wipes the pants off anything that I've heard from Lacuna Coil musically. These guys just have it - the substance that I expect from bands of this genre; but have never really gotten. It's so simple for them to pull out little numbers like "LMA" but when you hear the more vibrant material featured on this album, you'll be a believer in Crimson Blue's talent.

The last track on the album is "Innocence 5:22" and it puzzles me as to why nobody's really heard of a catchy little number like this. When you hear material that sounds this good, it really proves the old adage that "out of 1000 bands, only 100 actually make it and half of those that do make it are nowhere near as good as the bands who don't." Not only is the chorus extremely radio ready, but there's a dark turn in the music that comes off as an unexpected treat. However, the song does end with a chorus refrain which keeps the balance of the material. If it ended abruptly, it would have thrown me off a cliff.

There's no question that Crimson Blue has got what it takes to make it in this densely over-populated female fronted metal scene. Though many out there might have the same qualities, Crimson Blue has the ability to go virtually anywhere at this point. I actually took so much interest in the act, that I checked their official FB page to find out exactly what's become of them. Though they barely have 200 likes on the page, they do manage to update it and have been playing several shows since this album released in 2011. Yes, that's right - 2011. There has also been a video released on Youtube for "LMA" which is not surprising, as it's rather catchy but not as much as the album's title track. Additionally, the band has been throwing some hints and it seems that they are currently in the studio working on the follow-up to this album. That I am certainly looking forward to, as I wanted to get these guys on NN but the album is an older release and we're not allowed to review old releases. I guess that's why it's called New Noise and not just Noise. :(

However, I am pleased to announce that the band is offering the entire "Innocence" album for free at their Bandcamp page. I'm also going to download a copy of this album, as the version I have is 192kps and the band is offering 320kps on their page. :)

Highlights: Iceland, Ave Sensorium, Forest (Atonement), H. U. Lab Experiment I - The 6th Sense, September, Haesitiao, Innocence (11 Tracks, 54:00)



Lucifericon - The Occult Waters (PR2013) - This album offers five tracks and about twenty minutes of music, so I'll judge what I've got here. It's not going to be a huge dissertation like Autothrall recently did, but it'll explain the album well enough.

First track is called "Infinituum 0:59" and it's nothing special. To tell you the truth, it's just empty space on the disc. Who's idea was that?

"The Temple Of Lucifericon 3:39" actually opens up the disc, and it opens it with a version of black/death metal that seems drenched in Venom, Mayhem and Darkthrone. Though it seems to have a bit of promise, it's really nothing that I haven't already heard before. A solo is encapsulated and it manages to deliver, eventually going back into the main riff and following the same fashion until the end of the track. Not too shabby. "Moon Freezing Over Fading Statues 6:32" has your bit of atmosphere and cymbal play at the beginning, you've all heard it before. A nice melody then comes in and it's a while until the vocals hit, but when they do; the tempo of the track itself changes and it resembles the same style. They've got something, but it just isn't fleshed out yet. I can count the influences on this one, (Freezing Moon ring any bells?) but at least it's performed with some degree of skill. It's definitely listenable material.

"Azazel's Torch 4:23' comes right in, as if we didn't even know that the last track had ended. And very much like the two tracks that came before, this still follows the same formula. It's done right, but we've heard it already. Cue Morbid Angel solo. "Deathtongue 2:32" ends us on black/thrash. These guys know what they want to sound like (or more like "who") and there's no stopping them at this point. I've heard it before, but they do a good job of replicating it. So Lucifericon is a great replicator, but as far as an original act - that still is yet to be determined.

In all seriousness, Lucifericon is just the kind of band who belongs on an LP. They've got the kind of old school flair that you'd expect, whether you've heard it before or not. Not everyone's going to like them, but I can't knock what they do. They perform the material just as well as their inspirations and it's a great act of tribute, if nothing else. I can't chop this album all to pieces, because it just doesn't come off as a bad or poorly made release.

I recommend Lucifericon's The Occult Waters to fans of classic black metal in the vein of early Bathory, Darkthrone, Mayhem and the thrash of Venom. It's got a certain old school mystique about it that should find appeal to the right crowd. You know, the ones with record players.

Highlights: Moon Over Freezing Statues, Azazel's Touch (5 Tracks, 18)



Dichotomy - Paradigms (PR2013) - According to my media pack, Dichotomy are a five-piece melodic technical death metal band from Dublin, Ireland. I wasn't sure what to think of these guys at first, but after listening to their debut album in full, I was completely sold on the band's musicianship.

"The Sentient Oppressed 4:07" comes right in with both fury and technicality, but stops to take a breath for just a moment so that a wonderful solo can emerge as the song changes terrain completely for a few minutes. "All - Seeing Eye 5:36" continues right along with the same kind of brutality that you would expect fro the first track, but multiplied just a bit. These guys are definitely good at raising a ruckus, and that's going to be good selling point from them. Screams definitely have their place among the gravel, an approach that definitely was inspired in part by Lamb Of God frontman, Randy Blythe. As a matter of fact, Kev O' Connor sounds a great deal like Randy on this record, albeit the portions of gravel. The song finally gets tired of bashing and welcomes another solo, as it begins to bash again and welcome yet another solo. Dichotomy has a great deal of potential, as they're what many in the technical death metal and technical deathcore scene are looking for, and the band seems to bridge the two.

"Polarity 4:02" Blew my face of from the very beginning with it's opening grooves. I just started banging my head from the very first moment. Have you ever experienced a groove section that sounded so good that you just wanted to hear them do it again? This is one of those songs, that while it has many parts - makes you want to hear that fucking opening groove section. Alternatively, they try some other approaches later in the track, like spacey riffs which back a portion of drum/vocal play. Then that envelops right into another great solo piece. This could very well be the next big thing in the tech-death scene.

"No Catharsis 5:08" contains more gravel than the other tracks thus far, and it follows suit as a more extreme and technical version of Lamb Of God. Oddly enough though, the band considers Death, Necrophagist, Gojira and Opeth to be among their influences. But I'm not really hearing many of these in the music, just not as much as I'm hearing the core and groove influences. It goes out with some breakdowns and more gravel. "Covenant Of The Forsworn 4:02" features more technicality than the last track and a duet between screams and growls mixed in with all sorts of other heavy objects that eventually finds itself into a solo. The only difference, it that the solo actually gets it's place in the sun and goes on for a lengthy amount of time compared to the other solos on the disc. After that, it's business as usual for these guys.

"Alea Iacta Est 4:34" is an instrumental piece that begins rather lighthearted and escalates back into heaviness, but it's rife with guitar solos and a definite highlight on the disc. Truthfully, it's everything that one might expect from a Dichotomy instrumental, given the rest of the material on the disc. That goes right into "Of Strife, Of Discord 5:18" which mainly sticks to the groove before it pulls off an interesting sort of breakdown section later in the track. There's also a bit of whispering (right in front of the same melody lines that end up ending the track) and a couple more heavy vocal lines before the album ends.

Dichotomy have great potential, but stick more to more a technical groove metal with core and melodic elements, more than they do a "melodic technical death metal." This band will undoubtedly sell albums and play a barrage of shows, as they really are "that good" and have the potential to become a major player in the metal scene. As for me though, I've heard material like this before and don't consider it anything to write home about. Nonetheless, I expect fans of core, groove and technicality to check these guys out as they deliver it all with a rather strong sense of technicality as well as a refined sense of melody,

Highlights: Polarity, Covenant Of The Forsworn, Alea Iacta Est (8 Tracks, 32:00)



Dying Spirit - Uncomfortable Silences (PR2013) - With a triumphant howl at the very beginning, Dying Spirit makes themselves known as a sort of groove-laden melodic death metal. "Tolerance 4:34" backs that groove with some slightly progressive riff melodies while the frontman says a myriad of things into the microphone. He delivers well, but he's very profane. And I never expected to hear a breakdown as weak as I've heard one here. It's a good thing that they threw the solo right into it, because if they hadn't; it would have been one of the worst breakdowns I've ever heard in my life. And I don't even care much for breakdowns... so thanks for the solo.

"Hoax 5:06" is a bit stronger, letting the melodies have a bit more fun, but it still acknowledges the grooves. A couple of blasts are found in the middle with some expected clean plucking that'll go back to groove. Even though I say that there's a lot of groove here, there's still quite a bit of death metal to be had on this disc, so please don't think that Dying Spirit is a core band, as I don't want to give you that impression. They do manage to unleash some interesting melodies from time to time and know how to deliver on the savagery. "You Write Your Own Story 3:55" might take cues from Dillinger Escape Plan in it's drum antics, but regardless of what prog and core grooves are used on this disc, it still remains vocally in the nature of death metal gravel. This is what bands like Lamb Of God are gateway drugs into. If that shit's Coke, then this is straight Heroin.

"System 5:52" has some impressive grooves and by now I'm really starting to like these guys. The album really feels like it could positively go anywhere right now, and needless to say the track length warrants the musicality of the piece. If this track is on Youtube, I want you guys to pull it up and listen to it for yourself because I feel this is the prime moment on the album. It's one I'd personally pluck for my own collection and display to a few friends of mine. The guitar solo is just the icing on the cake. While listening to this disc, I had to check the folder and see if it had a band image, which it did; and it showed me that these guys are quite young. So they're already at this level. I'm speechless. By the way, "Breathing 1:31" really goes well with "System" as it feels like it's a part of that track. It's the mint after the meal.

"Great Expectations 5:01" is a bit thicker, but still contains the band's signature touch with the use of slight prog and melody portions. There's also the same groove amounts that you'd expect. It's a very stable track, but doesn't really seem to explode until the end melodies reach in. But how can they really top the "System" madness at this point? "Dokad Zmierzam 4:02" is next on the list, and it's in the band's native, obviously. Starts out a bit thrashy, but lightens up and welcomes more melody and prog. Just as I mentioned, these guys throw their paintbrushes every which way, and it creates something that I consider quite effective. You don't need to know what the band is saying to enjoy the track, and that's always a sign of good musicianship, good structure and overall - good substance. You'll notice I use that word a lot these days, and it really isn't just tossed into any old review. For instance, "Distorted Choices 5:28" which ends the album, continues that substance as it melds effortlessly with it's precursor and opens the groove up for something that features a myriad of style changes that come without warning. Even though it mostly sticks to the formula, at least it leaves a few holes open for experimentation. I'll also applaud the band's decision to end the disc on some fantastic drum play. When the album is finished, it feels finished. It doesn't feel like any more needs to be added or said. They invite you to join them on this journey, it's got tons of twists and turns; and it's definitely exciting, yet familiar territory.

I'll say it again; "The album really felt like it could positively go anywhere" and I'll amend that by saying that they did just that, completely fulfilling my personal expectations. It's this out of the box thinking that will prove to benefit the entire genre as obviously some of the majors seem a bit confused and are signing "flavor of the week" acts, while Bandcamp crowds with promising talent. Sure, that guy listening to the Erihma record might think he's hot shit because they mixed Dimmu Borgir with hardcore; but chances are that real talent like this will get scooped right over in favor of something more marketable. But you know, that's music these days. I remember speaking to a musician and good friend of mine who's been working on material that he hasn't yet been able to properly get off the ground for years now (but is still trying) and he told me that in the end, "You're trying to sell a product. You're trying to sell your art. No matter how pretentious you want to be about it, that's what it boils down to."

Metal music is certainly in the realms of art, it's got the same amount of emotion and passion that one may derive from looking at a piece; except that the notion is audial instead of visual. That's what I feel when I listen to something like Dying Spirit, that I am listening to many different facets of one art piece. I would also very much consider the band in the realms of slightly abstract art, if their music could be applied to visual art. But as my friend noted, the band is trying to sell their art - not anyone else's art that they were nudged into, or perhaps given a certain kind of brushes, because every other well-known artist is currently using those brushes; nor were they being told to apply a certain style or medium to the piece, because it seems to work well for everyone else.

If we think of the metal music scene as an art gallery of sorts; how different do you think that the pieces would be? Perhaps if we walked into the popular section of the gallery, where many of the artists have seemed to create the same exact painting with just one or two extra lines or perhaps the same image with different colors; could we really call it art, or plagiarism? Then we'll walk into the section of the gallery with the artists who have the freedom to really experiment and use different mediums and ideas. Even if you don't like it, you can honestly admit that it's a refresher from the section where virtually everything looks the same. And this is the dilemma of the metal scene in it's current age.

So that's why Dying Spirit deserves their 9. I wasn't entirely sure that I'd be won over and will admit that "Invitation 1:40" and "Tolerance" were not great ideas to open a disc with, but they managed to pull it off as the disc went on. One could liken the first two tracks to warm ups, with the band fully in gear by the end of the disc. Without uttering another word about metal and art galleries, (as I've either enlightened or confused the lot of you) I'll simply end this review by recommending that you check out the music that Dying Spirit have made on their debut release. Like the latest Blinded By Faith album, Uncomfortable Silence goes everywhere and anywhere proving that these guys are more than worth their merit.

Highlights: Hoax, You Write Your Own Story, System, Breathing, Dokad Zmierzam, Distorted Choices (9 tracks, 37:00)



Mockingbird - Live Cuts (Band Request 2013) - Changing gears for a moment, I got a request from an Irish rock band by the name of Mockingbird. They gave me their live album Live Cuts, even though I don't really do live albums all that often. However, this is all I've got for material from the band and it's as good a place as any to review them. First of all, the disc isn't that long - it's just a little over thirty minutes and features a high level of clarity. Even though it's live, everything is discernible enough for me to be able to review this as if it were a studio album.

It's not secret that Mockingbird revels in the classics. They take influence from bands like ACDC, Kiss and Blue Oyster Cult. It's essentially feel-good rock music with a strong frontman and a well-oiled backing band who seems to really enjoy themselves. Music should be something that you enjoy playing, even though some grow to the "work mentality." You know, if something that you enjoy ever becomes a chore, then take up something else. The band powers through "All That I Need 3:07" right at the start, which contains a powerful chorus, but not near as powerful as the Kiss-like "Steal Your Heart Away 4:07." The southern rock influence is certainly audible in the band's music and that translates just as well here as when done by the greats. "Crossfire 2:44" is a shorter, but punchier number; while "One Shot 3:57" seems to struggle a bit on the chorus, even though a solo manages to let loose.

"Draggin' Me Down 4:14" kicks up the blues with a strong chorus, reminds me a bit of Foreigner. Then there's a short interlude "0:56" that steams up the guitars a little and "Hard Rain 5:02" which really shows some of the best work that these guys have to offer, and is alight with screaming guitars and a truly catchy chorus. It's just good rock, plain and simple. "Movin' On 3:41" goes a bit faster, toying with thrash but not quite. "Free Your Mind 3:22" on the other hand, injects a bit of Motorhead into the band which wasn't actually expected; but it works. I'd say it's the heaviest moment on the disc and comes off rather well. The concert (and disc) ends with "Already Gone 5:23" which is a feel good Kiss-inspired moment to end out the disc with. It also includes a powerful solo, which is one of the best ways to say goodbye during a live show. Apparently, the people at the concert were still half-asleep, so the sing-along portion didn't go as well as the band would've hoped. But it still comes off as a great show, nonetheless.

Mockingbird like to rock and this concert album proves it. It's definitely worth checking out, if you also like to rock.

Highlights: Steal Your Heart Away, Hard Rain, Free Your Mind (10 Tracks, 36:00)



Coffin Fuck - Yankee Doodle (Single 2013) - Good god, they've done it again. This time, well-known parody death metal act Coffin Fuck has decided to turn away from their tired old tradition of covering Christmas songs and decided to do something more patriotic. Believe or not, the thing is just as jaunty as it is deplorable, with the frontman's vocals reminding me a little more of the parody nature of Nathan Explosion/Brendan Small with a raspier vocal occasionally backing him. The drummer plods along and the bass just seems to be there, with the damn flute or keyboard being the strong point of the song. I'm not really sure what the point of the track is, but it's certainly catchy. A bit doom-laden in nature, but with a jaunty little flute/keyboard.

But then I'm going around in circles, aren't I?

At any rate, they go through all of the lyrics to "Yankee Doodle" including verses that I never knew existed in the song. It's the reason why I always hated hymnals, because there's a million of them and they have all these different verse sections. I'm glad that lyric books of today aren't written like the hymnals, with the second verses under the first verses and so on. It's very confusing, which is why I hate choral music, even though I was apparently very good at it in youth.

And the verse "...and with the girls be handy" does that mean what I think it does? Or is my head just in the gutter again?

(1 Track, 2:57)


My apologies to Moria and Mulligore PR, since I'm just having some track title problems with I will air out later in the week. The file came back as lines for track numbers, so I'll replace them with their English translations and have the review up separately later on in the week. I apologize for the inconvenience.