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: http://secretvii.com/ 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.