Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Mailing Address!

My mailing address has changed. If you haven't gotten the mass email that I sent out yesterday, or you thought it was spam, plase send me an email to and I will send you the address for mailing promos or demos or whatever else you want me to review. I haven't moved yet, but will be there on the 29th. So I'll definitely get them.

- The Fallen Alchemist

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week 87 (September 24th, 2013)

I'll be moving on the 28th of September, so I thought I would get one more week of reviews out before I have to get things moved and resettled. It shouldn't be long after this until I'll be sending out my new mailing address to the PR labels that I have been working with and to the bands who have been patiently waiting. My apologies.


Stellar Master Elite - II: Destructive Interference Generator (Spotlight Album PR2013) - Stellar Master Elite's second album is as I've said; much better than the new Satyricon release therefore proving that the student has become the master. While listening to this record, I certainly got the feeling several times, "this is the direction that Satyr should have taken his music into" by bringing back the industrial elements that these two musicians have so carefully mixed together with the same scathing, yet ominous black metal. A friend and I were listening to the album on the way home and he was simply elated with the disc, stating "I think this is the album of the year for me" and going on to say, "this is what I wanted from Satyricon... to mix the black and roll with industrial elements..." Naturally, my friend also insisted that he was going to purchase a copy of the disc as soon as it becomes available as he's completely floored with it, to say the very least. So there is another opinion for those of you who might not like mine. '

I did like the album, don't get me wrong - I thought it was a great piece of music, but not my album of the year. I still stand by just what I've said, "this is the direction that Satyr should have taken his music into" and I highly recommend that you check it out. "Prodigium 3:17" starts the disc off with thick electronic soundscapes that go right into familiar Sonic Reign/Satyricon territory with the next track "Thoughtcrimes/Villian/Slave 4:21." Naturally, Ben from Sonic Reign also does vocals on the album. I hope that this will not change on the next release. As far as the lyrics go, the album is anti-elite/NWO/TPTB/Illuminati and I will recommend it hundred-fold due to that. Black metal that rebels against the all-seeing-eye is certainly my cup of tea. The lyrics are also very easy to understand, which makes it easier to get these points across. The song itself is absolutely scathing and is a tremendous opener to the disc. The next track "Beyond Light 8:15" opens with a much different sense though, and some interesting thoughts accompanying these new spatial atmospheres that blanket the band's familiar black metal style. "Turn Of Your Intellect, You Already Know Everything." Perhaps I should have asked him about these topics, other than the topics that I did ask. I'm sure a hearty metaphysical/anti-elite discussion would have formed from that. (Note to self - Will have to write an interview for this one.) There's not much else that I can say about "Beyond Light 8:15" other than the fact that it is a black metal spectacle.

As the promo material states, SME is not to be reduced to just a Thorns tribute, ("Stellar Master Elite" is a Thorns track that Satyr did vocals on.) and contains doom, avant-garde, and reminiscence of Ved Buens Ende, Virus, Sleep, Voivod, Coil, or John Carpenter. This is not just marketing speak, as the music does elicit all of these things; with black metal being it's largest construct. "Pattern Of Perception 6:50" adds atmospheres and melodic guitars that almost seem to shoegaze between the blasts. "Prison Planet 4:20" starts out well, but is one of the only songs I have a problem getting into. The melodies weave thickly in and out as the song seems sort of a whisper compared to the other tracks, it feels like it has a sort of "shadow essence" in tone and I guess after the third time listening to it, I think I can accept it for it's uniqueness. "The Mobius Strip 4:16" brings back the thunder of Satyricon, but with a few more atmospheres than you would expect from Satyricon. Satyr, this is called "evolution." You might want to try it.

"Destructive Interference Generator 10:43" is that one amazing track that mixes electronics and black metal together perfectly - it's worthy of then ten minute time-span and even includes some interesting quotes. I hope that's not Alex Jones though, because he's a known plant; just like Tila Tequila has become on YouTube. But there a few out there who are in the know. Notice I said "a few." At any rate, this track is also a spectacle. II is the kind of album that you have sit down and listen to yourself. I can't just rattle off a bunch of words and tell you what it sounds like. It's something that you have to check out for yourself, so when I say "a spectacle" then you'd better believe it's a spectacle, because I rarely ever use that word and there's a good reason for doing so. The final track on the album is "Empty Shells Of Being 3:13" which lightens the mood musically with a few claps and some maracas, but it's definitely still a heavy track and has just as fierce message as the others. I'm reminded of Sigh here, so that's a good feeling.

All in all, I can't find any fault with this album. I agree with the message and the music is a damned good conduit for sending out that message. These guys prove that this is no sophomore slump, and it's definitely worth getting your hands on when it's available on October 4th. That's not too long from now, so just be patient. Once again, I don't want you all to just think that this record is useless insofar as its lyrical content and that it's not just some "blah, blah satanic, misanthropic, nihilistic" content like you get with a lot of black metal lyricism these days. The topics that are put forth on this album aren't just for your enjoyment. It's not Iron Maiden's "Number Of The Beast" style historical/fiction. It's something that is very well happening all around us right now.

In 2030, China will be the world's biggest consumer of grain in the world. So what does that mean to you? Well, most things that you eat are made from grain. Obviously grain has much to do with flour and we consume a lot of grain based products. Many are complaining about Monsanto's GMO laden food, but the sad awful truth is that these modified foods might be our only sustenance in an uncertain future. Obviously, Big Brother is knocking on the door with the Xbox One (Seriously, why are they calling it "One?" That scares the living shit out of me.) and I suspect the elite to bring their oppressive chains down on us much further in the future. A world where everyone is connected and nothing is sacred, is just the start, my friends. I never would have believed that these things would actually happen, but it seems as if we're living in a very uncertain world with very powerful people who may or may not be contacting aliens (even the fact that they "think they are" should be unnerving to you) and who have built several underground shelter areas in case of some "event." The Ozark mountains I would have never thought would be one of those.

Yes, perhaps I am just a paranoid fool - and Wal-Mart is even buying into this "conspiracy trend" as I walked into the book section the other day to find that they just happened to have reissued 1984 and Fahrenheit 51 as well as another book of an older time who had the same sort of "dystopian future world" synopsis. I think Harper Publishing is behind this, calling them "classics." I can see that, but where is A Tale Of Two Cities, Moby Dick or The Call Of The Wild? Why are there just three conspiracy books here? Damn. I think I think too much. It's just that I've always believed one simple rule: "If a person sticks their foot out and you trip and fall one day, you might just consider it an accident and continue walking along. But if they do the same action again, you may start to realize that something more sinister is going on, and that the person might be deliberately sticking their foot out in order to trip you. The more times it happens, the more times you notice. Finally, you'll come to the realization that not everyone or everything is as peachy as you might be told to believe."

This would bring me into our youth, being constantly entertained and shown that "the good life" is paved with money, not with charity. A star can donate "some" of their billions to a private corporation that may or may not give one shit about a certain cause, but damn does it make them look good on the television. Our children are being taught that excess of sex, money, drugs and luxuries are what it means to succeed in life. We worry about Hollywood stars as if they're gods. We drown ourselves in media-driven films, television (reality shows) and video games aimed at marketing to a specific audience in order to falsely stifle the cold reality of "hive life." We're all connected. Even the powers that be are connected to us. They watch us constantly, as with the NSA scandal. And people are surprised? You must really research how computer systems and networking operate. It is much easier than you think to monitor or spy on someone using a little device that they carry around with them like a lifeline - a cell phone.

But it gets better. After all, this is just the first step. What do you think is next? Here's a clue: Start going through sci-fi films. I'm serious. Start looking at some of the technologies in recent or past science fiction films. How do these cities operate? How do they control their citizens? Also take a look at the newer ones - Elysium was a good example and The Hunger Games are almost a "Your Future World" for kids series. One thing is for sure, the eye is always watching - and Stellar Master Elite want you to know that. But don't forget about the positive messages in "Beyond Light" either. That's all we've got.

Go get Stellar Master Elite - II: Destructive Interference Generator when it's available on October 4th, of 2013. It's definitely worth checking out and is certainly one of the best albums of the year, albeit not my personal favorite. However, I am hit by so many great albums from time to time that I can't really consider just "one" disc to be my personal favorite album of the year. But II is up there, most certainly.

(8 Tracks, 45:00)



Dark Design - Prey For The Future (PR2013) - Just got a new issue of Decibel in, and that's relevant because Adem Tepedelen (that can't be his real name, unless he had it changed for 200 bucks - I can call myself Banana if I had the money.) gave the record a straight 4/10. In my review scores, that would equal an under mediocre score. The guy also complained that the production was just a step above a demo. And finally, he did not - I repeat, did not like the band's cover of "Dust In The Wind 4:39" (Kansas). I am not entirely sure why, because I thought it was a great cover personally. As a matter of fact, when I have moments of insomnia, a song will repeat over and over in my head and it just happened to be that "Dust In The Wind" cover. It was just that memorable. I've been listening to it in my head, over and over for the past three fucking days now.

Granted, the production is a little raw. But it's not that damned bad. I mean, this is their first release. Also, lower rung labels like Heaven & Hell Records don't necessarily pick the most "polished" records, just the most intriguing ones. These guys definitely have talent, so if you're looking at that review and consider Adem a notary on all things metal; then take a look at this review for a second. First of all, remember how Nevermore sounded when they first started out? It's kind of like that here. Not an amazing production and some of the songs could be a bit better, but you really can't go wrong with "Dark Design 5:13" as it shows the frontman's vocal range quite well and the strength of the guitar melodies and solo ability, which is extremely prominent throughout the disc. "No Death 5:18" also offers a strong effort (and things sound clear enough to me Adem, what are you listening to the disc on?) complete with a progressive jam out. "Abiding Contempt 5:25" switches things up a bit, adding some melodies that remind me a bit more of Slough Feg, yet things go back into Iced Earth territory. Yeah, the frontman sounds a little like Matt Barlow and I'm a fan of his style; so its good to hear that properly emulated here in some instances. There's actually some growls on this one too, which I didn't expect.

Now I'm not so sure about "Welcome To You're Doom 5:56" which I thought was just a spelling error, but it appears not. The track has more of a chunky sound to it, definitely thumps along with the solos and features some background shouts. "Dragonmount 6:47" is definitely a strong track, showing the skinsman a bit more than on some of the others, yet there's no denying that he's just as good as everyone else in the band. It definitely features more thrash and makes itself a highlight. There's also a bit of a folk influence to the chorus. "Meditations 4:41" certainly features the band in fighting form and comes equipped with a powerful solo piece in addition to the power/thrash onslaught. But mostly, this song just gives the band an excuse to show off. "Spice World 7:56" incorporates some middle-eastern melodies, but I can tell they're a bit rough. At any rate, the Iron Maiden influences can be heard, as can the Iced Earth influences (which are obviously very close to each other.) It's very hard not to deny the power of this closing track.

Well, there's also the "Dust In The Wind 4:39" cover which Adem is simply raving about. I wasn't quite sure what to expect either, but you know what? It's done as well as I would've hoped. It's a power/thrash version of the track with great riff melodies that still match the original? The frontman is able to emulate the vocals well enough, but I think that Adem is beating around the bush that he just doesn't like the frontman's vocal tone and is afraid to say it. I mean, if you're going to metal up a Kansas cover, you need to do it justice which is what these guys have done here. I really don't see what the problem is. I mean, come on. At the end of the day, are you really going to just sit there and deny the solo on it? I mean, at least give it that. At least these guys tried their best and you can tell that.

As a big fan of power thrash, I wasn't sure what to expect from these guys and as you know; I'm quite picky when it comes to who does it well. These guys certainly deliver. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that these solos and vocal acrobatics aren't worth checking out, because I'd be a fool. I'm not going to tell you that the drummer on the disc doesn't try, because he does. It's a bunch of guys with a love for the music, simply doing their best to do it justice. I'm really starting to get sick of Decibel reviewers giving releases from the smaller labels that I deal with bad scores because they're smaller labels. And I wasn't going to say anything until I noticed it with my own eyes, issue after issue. There's a Kriadiaz album review in this magazine as well that was given a 3. But I still stand by my 10.

As far as this record goes, it's a pretty high score for me. The album art kills and so does the album itself. Maybe you won't like the vocals, and that might have been Adem's issue (he said it was between mild enjoyment and mild annoyance) with the band. But as far as I'm concerned, the guy's great and I'm sure that these guys will only get better if given the chance to do another one. Sometimes, if scores are so bad a band won't get a chance to do another one; while some popular young punks get the chance to shit out three, four and five more records.

Definitely grab this one. Worth checking out.

Highlights: Dark Design, No Death, Dragonmount, Meditations, Spice World, Dust In The Wind (9 Tracks, 47:00)



Ashencult/Mephorash - Opus Serpens (PR2013) - Well, we've got a split here from two black metal bands.

Ashencult begins with "My Tenth Death 7:51" which features a recording that's halfway between raw and well produced. It's got plenty of blasts, scowls that sound like they're coming from the walls and good melodies. Ought to get your fists raised and your smile turned upside down.

Mephorash is next with "Atramentous Ungod Aspect 9:35" which features a little bit more in the invention department. Monk chants go into gothic organs and then into furious black metal with a deep edge and ravenous frenzy. The riff melodies are entirely catchy and the vocals are absolutely brilliant, as well as the atmospheres that the band manages to encapsulate. These guys are pretty fucking amazing, so I hope to hear more from them.

While I'm not going to say it's a slaughter; I definitely enjoyed the Mephorash slightly more than the Ashencult. Both bands are good in their own right and it's decent length disc that's worth picking up if it's not two expensive (but why would it be? It's just two tracks.) So definitely check these two songs out and support the bands if you like them!

(2 Tracks, 17:00)



Scalpel - Sorrow And Skin (PR2013) - I have been spelling this band's name wrong for a while now, since we say "scapel" here in the south, rather than the actual word "scalpel" and I'm sure I'm not the only one who calls these guys that. Too be honest, from the picture these guys seem like the right kind of guys to drink and smoke a little with and I'm sure they're good at starting up good conversations. Man, I miss that shit - getting together with your buddies in the band and talking about shit. Didn't matter what, just shit. You drink, you talk about shit. Speaking of drinking, there's even a bottle of alcohol in the background of the pic if you'll look closely. But enough about the band, let's talk about the music.

Scalpel is a death metal act that's full of hits and misses. It's probably their first outing and it shows they've got some decent skill. "Ripe 4:05" brings us right forward into the carnage with thick gravel on the vocal side of things and a surprisingly melodic end to the track, not to mention some Nile worship. "Gutmulch 3:52" starts out with blazing drums from the start and some progressive riffs that open into bits of technicality. "The Woodsman 2:24" is short, but it definitely has plenty of time to erupt. "The Black Juices 4:18" is next, and offers a bit of insanity amidst a slower pace. There's a tasteful solo on the end. "Skullscraper 3:19" comes next, throwing in that groove and Cannibal Corpse vibe. "Mincemaster 2:40" minces throughout, really showing that Nile vibe and throwing some melodies at the same time (things get sort of chaotic towards the end.) "Sentinels Of Severed Flesh 2:37" also hits hard and leaves a lasting impression - these guys definitely manage to pump out some strong and promising death metal. Title track "Sorrow and Skin 4:57" showcases the same amount of effort but is full with enough bells and whistles to keep it interesting. These guys definitely do the technical brutal death metal genre justice. But here comes my problem...

There's a song right after this called "The Exterminator Human Slaw 8:41" and it's essentially nearly nine minutes of either static or really kvlt black metal (heehee.) At any rate, it came off quite annoying; so I admittedly have had to skip past it. I was listening to the album on my loud speakers and had no idea that this track was what it was, so I'm making lunch and all of a sudden this eardrum bursting hiss comes and I'm thinking that something happened to my laptop. As I put my fingers into my ears in an attempt to turn it off, (because being that close to those speakers with that static coming through might deafen me) I notice that it's not my laptop, but that these guys literally packaged about nine minutes of static on their disc. After that track ended, "Unspeakable 2:25" began in a strong death metal fashion and delivered on all fronts. I have no fucking clue why there is nearly nine minutes of eardrum damaging static on here, but there is. Nice joke guys. You nearly made me go deaf!

When all is said and done, Scalpel are a pretty strong death metal act. They definitely know what they're doing and offer a relatively strong disc that mixes technicality and death metal at it's most morbid together with a vengeance and fury that some people will absolutely revel in. Despite the static, there's still a decent death metal record to be had here.

Highlights: The Woodsman, Sentinels Of Severed Flesh, Sorrow And Skin, Unspeakable (10 Tracks, 39:00)



Goregast - Covered In Skin (PR2013) - This is a 7" EP from an interesting act that plays a version of traditional death metal, with slight core influences. On A01, we have "Covered In Skin 5:29" which gives us a good exercise in groove, complete with some noted structural and atmospheric changes. It metamorphoses into something much different than when it began and that's interesting enough. The vocals could at sometimes be confused for core grunts, but are definitely trying to be as grimy as any Grave or Entombed vocal should be.

B02 gives us "Mindcreeper 5:02" a song that keeps pushing with the groove, but offers the right atmosphere of pure hopelessness and dread, as well as a good drum workout and strong chorus. Even though this is a 7" sort of deal, the music is surprisingly well produced. This last track is certainly catchy and I can feel the emotion in it, it definitely seems as if a great deal of rage is being spat on the microphone and it helps to convey the venomous soundscapes that the rest of the band are playing.

While not overly long, this short EP from Goregast is well worth checking out for fans of death metal with a bit of core influence.

Highlights: Mindcreeper (2 Tracks, 10:00)



Mark Deutrom - Modern Sensuality And Western Violence (PR2013) - Well, to be honest I wasn't sure what to expect from what appears to be a cowboy and a musician. Cowboys are common here in the south, whether you're in the cattle business or not. It was just a way of showing ruggedness. However, the material on this disc isn't anything like you'd expect from the promo photos and that's a very good thing. I like alternative country as much as the next person, but hearing something altogether different I found was much more rewarding.

Mark Deutrom's music is mainly atmospheres of many different colors and shapes. "Dick Cheney 21:17" starts the disc in something of a gothic manner, which later escapes into a guitar-laden drone. Drums eventually appear and so does a clean manner of vocal. It's got a sense of doom in it, not something you'd expect from the piece, but these guitars are definitely crunchy amidst their slightly unnerving melodies. Experimentation follows the song on it's way out. "Winter Haystacks At Twilight 5:51" welcomes a much lighter atmosphere, complete with flowing melodies and a borderline acoustic nature. "Sky Full Of Witches 5:21" comes in with a major 70's prog rock influence, and I'm actually suggesting Neil Young influence on the vocals. The riffs are a little heavier on this track, but it's not quite as thunderous as the opener. The melodies on the piece are definitely worth paying attention to, and I feel that Mark certainly meets the mark on vocal performance. "Temple Smasher 3:24" comes next, with a fuzzy rock progressive piece that has some semblances to thrash. It sort of reminds me of the music from the old Doom games if it had been done with a guitar and not a MIDI program. Near the end, there's a slight slowdown that I didn't feel was all that necessary. But it does go well into "Other Gods 4:15" which contains a hypnotic vocal echo and the sounds of ethereal piano. The track feels genuine and rather ghostly. "A Shaky Rabbit 5:52" welcomes jazz elements into the mix, as well as good ol' 70's trip rock. There's a Pink Floyd vibe going on here, especially insofar as the vocals are concerned. But the vocals don't last long, letting a sort of weirdness and trumpet take over. It would make for one hell of an elevator ride. "Venerate The Relic 5:46" brings in tribal drums and barely present guitar. Closer to the end, the riffs start sounding a bit more in the vein of Sabbath, but a bit more trippy. "Turn Toward The Sun 3:04" finishes the album with a light, ethereal track that contains a ghostly vocal approach. I'm curious as to what this song could mean, but have theories. Being a conspiracy nut like I am, I tend to turn away from songs that have "The Sun" in them, at any form as that is usually symbolism for the powers that be = Illumination. There's also a bevy of electronics that occur at the end of the disc, so perhaps that references extra-terrestrial beings? That would be my guess, they certainly sound like the bleeps and bloops of an alien craft. Which I am familiar with as I've certainly had my share of writing them into existence.

Despite my conspiracy meter flashing, (the same one that flashed during the Xbox One - I will not walk into anyone's house who has one of those things, because apparently it will ask you for your verification and you have to identify yourself if it doesn't recognize you; whether you want to play a game or not. Orwell rolls in his fucking grave, I do say. Even though fans put up a fight over the console's security, it has been announced that "only members" will be allowed to disable these features. And if I'm as smart as I think I am, then even disabling these features will not mean that they are truly "disabled." Because things can always go on in silent. We have no earthly idea just what that box can and does do, and where that data is going. But hackers will, and I'm sure the machine will be thoroughly gutted and displayed for all to see on the internet. I for one don't want a video game console that monitors my heart rate and utilizes facial recognition software) this record is definitely something interesting. Mark Deutrom has combined many elements to make a truly solid release that offers several different variations of atmospheres, as well as slight moments of weirdness and a 70's trip factor. It's not going to be for everyone, but I'm sure those who come across it hoping for something intriguing will be intrigued. Though I have mentioned that the disc contains elements of doom, it's not a "metal album" per se, so don't expect doom. If you want doom metal, then listen to a doom metal band. This is more than just that and I think it's worth checking out.

(8 Tracks, 54:00)



Darker Half - Desensitized (PR2013) - These guys from Sydney Australia actually have a lot of interesting credits to their merit, some of them involving Tim Owens, Paul Di'Anno and Empires Of Eden, which was a multi-musician project that I apparently missed and need to check out. Naturally, you can hear the Iron Maiden influence on Dom Simpson's drums, as well as Brad Dickson's guitar riffs and obviously, Vo Simpson's vocal lines as well as his own licks - yes, I'm sensing a lot of Iron Maiden here, but still some elements of prog and thrash, and those are great things indeed. "Lost In Space 6:56" was a killer way to open the album, with "End Of The Line 5:18" containing a powerful chorus. As I go through the album though, I'm noticing the same thing - it doesn't feature that much variation in terms of song structure. The vocals are truly monolithic, but they seem to standout more than anything, aside from the occasional guitar solo and drum patterns. I also have a problem with the recording quality on the disc, and feel that with a cleaner production the rest of the band might sound a bit better than just Vo's vocals. Granted, there's a long epic called "As Darkness Fades 7:49" which certainly helps to deliver their message across, but I certainly would've loved "Sacred Ground 5:12" more if it delivered a punch. The chorus is astounding, but the vocal lines are delivered on such slow paced riffs that it just doesn't work for the song. I mean, I really don't know what to say about these guys. They've got talent, but many of the songs just come off rather "same-ey" which kills the talent that they show. Was the last one better?

I guess you should check it out if you like Iron Maiden influenced power/thrash, but when the songs don't get more memorable as they go on and seem to become more annoying, it sets a bad vibe for the band. Not my cup of tea, but there are certainly some people out there who dug it.

(10 Tracks, 54:00)



A Storm Of Light - Nations To Flames (PR2013) - For some odd reason, I thought this was going to be another ordinary post metal band. But I was sure wrong about that. I even listened to the first track "Fall 4:44", not finding myself all that impressed; but it's when I kept listening that something really amazing happened... this album got really fucking interesting. And by that, I mean that it started to incorporate influences from Killing Joke and Ministry. "Omen 3:59" is one of that statement's greatest examples, as well as "Disintegrate 4:48" which continues to separate them from every other post metal band on the planet, but not from Killing Joke - which is what the good songs on this album sound like. Granted, there's nothing wrong with ripping off Killing Joke, especially if you're doing it right and these guys are. Very few bands can rip off an act like Killing Joke in the first place. I've heard covers done sub par, even when they were included on the tribute disc that came with the band's 2010 release. So give these guys that, if nothing else - a lot of people can make a grilled cheese sandwich, but these guys can made a damned mean one.

Naturally this mix of Killing Joke, sometimes Ministry and post metal band X might not sit well with everyone; but if you don't like it, well... I'll just leave that statement for you to fill in. My personal opinion is that A Storm Of Light is probably one of the biggest surprises in metal that I've heard in years. Here I was expecting the same old post metal, which is either hit or miss - then I get something like THIS. Something that I could always find time to listen to, music that I was actually really feeling - it had the right kick of post with the rage of Killing Joke at their most furious - maybe even Tool at their crunchiest; as I'm hearing a few familiar riffs in that department too.

But if I can really break this music down, imagine post metal that isn't so damn slow and atmospheric all the time. You get a lot of post metal and I have nothing wrong with atmospheres by any means; but you start to gain a classification for the genre after a while and I remember that Neurosis wasn't even as slow as some bands currently are. Some people just like to hear thick drudges of fuzz and that's fine - but the fact that A Storm Of Light actually throw in bouts of headbang-worthy thrash, certainly makes the whole disc worthwhile for me. Like I said, there's still "Fall 4:44" as well as it's following tracks "Apostles Of Hatred 5:20" and "The Fore Sermon 4:27" that still feature a little bit of slowdown and atmosphere. Yet they also feature the same sort of kick that some of these post metal albums have been lacking as of late. As far as production goes, it's certainly a warm and fuzzy type of album, laden with the same sort of conspiracy-laden sentiments that I've already alluded to with my Stellar Master Elite review. (No sense in writing another three or four page essay on it!)

I don't know who these guys are and where they came from; but I do know for certain that I want to hear more music from them. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that these guys will replace Killing Joke; but they are certainly borrowing from the right acts. They also won't replace Ministry, but once again; they're borrowing from the right acts. And I think that's all that needs to be said here.

Highlights: Omen, Disintegrate (11 Tracks, 51:00)



End Of Green - The Painstream (PR2013) - End Of Green are a gothic metal band with a heavy tone that verges into hard rock. But my only problem with the band is in their identity. These guys really just don't know who they are yet, and seem to be doing a little bit of everything while trying to find their sound. But it is in this vision quest of an album, that we find some intriguing points.

"Hangman's Joke 4:26" for example reminds me a bit of Lacrimas Profundere, but it also has a sort of catchy, radio-rock quality especially in the vocals that I think will appeal to more listeners than just the target crowd. "Holidays In Hell 4:07" thickens the riffs a little and brings on a familiar deep croon to the vocal approach, which gets downgraded to a regular vocal style. Why? Can you not just use the croons the entire time? Obviously you've got a knack for it, so it's pretty awful that the only thing good about this song is the chorus. The rest of the song is pretty forgettable. Can you just re-record it with the deep vocal croons and forget the clean vocals ever existed? We didn't really need them and it killed the song. There's an attempted Nick Holmes impression, but that doesn't help the fact that there's one hell of an identity crisis going on here. You have this perfect song, and vocally ruin it. This is what I do not understand about bands. If you can growl, but can't sing as well as you growl; then why sing at all? Obviously it's not your strong suite. Just as such here with the croons - if you can make me think that you're Peter Steele on the vocals and do a damn good job of it, then why in the hell are you bastardizing it with a sub-par clean vocal?

"Standalone 3:21" has sort of a party-stripper rock tone to it at the beginning, but then it captures one hell of a chorus. I think out of almost all of these tracks, this one actually got stuck in the concaves of my noggin which means that it's certainly one of the disc's catchier numbers and would be a good single. But it "stands alone" compared to the other tracks on the album. In other words, some people buy a disc because they expect all of the tracks to have this hard rock/Sentenced feel to them, but that's not true here. "Final Resistance 5:09" brings a Paradise Lost feel to the album, especially as far as the riffs and chorus are concerned; but the vocals on the verse portions of the song are not as strong as the chorus portions - which has been true for this entire record so far. They succeed on the choruses and on the bridges; but just getting to that part is going to be too much for some listeners who want to be captured from "that first note." I have the patience to wait, but not all are like me. "De(ad)generation 3:59" is a bit punchier than the last track, but features more of a radio-friendly vibe that feels forced. It's kind of an anthem with some cheers, and it might work for some teenage movie. Fortunately, the best song on the album comes right after this and it's worth buying on ITunes by itself or something.

The track is called "Home On Fire 5:31" and features some memorable melodies as with "Final Resistance." Though you'll still have to get around the verses, I thought the chorus was extremely catchy and the song as a whole does a good job of representing the disc. Go ahead and make a video for this one guys - a good example is a guy standing outside of his burning home. It was an arson, and his family was already burned alive before he even came home from work. The man kind of just kneels down, as tears fall down from his eyes and then of course, we've got the close up of the flaming house. He takes out a picture of his loved ones - the only one he has now, because everything else has gone up in flames. I think that would represent the band and the depression in the track perfectly. Then we have the rain come down, in droves - so this guy's just kind of crying while the rain pounds down on top of him. As the song lightens to the last couple melodies, we start to hear the man cry and scream in agony while he questions, "Why God? Why?" and then it just fades to black. The idea behind the video would reflect that horrible things just happen. It reflects the depressing nature of the music, once again.

"Death Of The Weakender 5:09" brings in more melancholy, but with a much lighter, subdued sense. As musicians, these guys are brilliant. Again, it's just tough for me to get around some of the vocal lines. The middle portion of this song has some impressive vocal portions and the melodies are mesmerizingly bleak. "Don't Stop Killing Me 4:40" comes next, as just a great dark rock song. It's got another catchy chorus and I even like the verses on this one. This is another good choice for a single. "Chasing Ghosts 3:52" will probably get used as a single, but it shouldn't. The echo effect of the vocal gets on my nerves, despite that it's quite punchy and has a strong chorus. I feel that the song is rushed as far as verse and musicianship, and it truly seems as if this is just one that the band put together quickly as a marketing showpiece. But it's not a good showpiece, aside from the catchy hard rock chorus. "Miss Misery 4:24" features a Ville Vallo impression that basically backs a ballad. If you've liked HIM ballads, you will probably like this one. Personally, it's not my favorite. Now as for the album's closer "The Painstreet 5:45" which should work as far as opening with the chorus, but unfortunately only the chorus and bridge sell me. Again, I have to wait for the song to get good.

All in all, End Of Green have some merit. I won't deny that they're talented at making melancholic hard rock music with slight tinges of Paradise Lost style gothic doom metal, but I think that they still need time to figure out who they are and I really feel that the lead vocalist should probably take up some vocal lessons. This is not meant to be hurtful, as I consider it to be constructive criticism. He hits the choruses well, but I'm just not feeling it in most of the verses and that's not good. Other than that, these guys have definite promise and I'd certainly hope that they'll continue on and release another more focused album. However I certainly enjoyed a few of these songs and one even enough that I wrote up a music video concept for it; so that should say something.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested it, then go pick it up. I believe I've broken it down enough for you to understand exactly what kind of music you'll be getting.

Highlights: Standalone, Home On Fire, Don't Stop Killing Me (11 Tracks, 50:00)



Fyrnask - Eldir Nott (PR2013) - Fyrnask is an atmospheric black metal project of epic proportion. Even the intro (4:06) starts out as something majestic, which later sees guitar fueled reverberations and chants opening the disc for it's next outing, simply titled "Vigil 9:10". The tracks seem to flow right into each other, with the waves crashing from the intro and right into a familiar sense of black metal, backed with furious blasts and convincing scowls. Melodies somewhat weave their way into the music, as do slight instances of drone and folk instrumentations in their most airy sense. The whole thing comes off as a ritual, which is what it is. "Jardheldr 12:15" begins with drone, which goes right back into wintry black metal; and even opens up for a few shouts. There's some sort of odd bells being used on this one, it's definitely a very foreign experience and that's why I've liked it thus far. Drone seems to carry it out. "Suonnas Sedir 3:24" is next, bringing a short drum atmosphere to the piece. "Saltrian 8:30" sprinkles a few bells and whistles in terms of vocal layering and synths on the black metal formula and "Samas Stigr 3:49" ends it off with an Arabic themed atmosphere, which I've liked more than any of the other songs on this album. Maybe it's because I tend to gravitate towards early middle-eastern gods and religions, (particularly in Egypt) or perhaps the music and chanting in general is quite hypnotic and responds to certain nerve impulses in my body in a way that I am not yet aware of. "Siaidha 10:05" comes right after this powerful atmosphere and brings the drone elements into what appears to be a more distant sort of black metal insofar as what's been featured on the album prior. It has more of a modern raw black metal sense to it, without the use of scowls and seeks more to the screams of more popular USBM acts. Alternatively, the track features a long Dead Can Dance style portion of atmosphere shortly after the chaos has ended, only to have it resume towards the end. "Su't 4:45" with chanting, more drone and atmospheres that at the finale, feature a crackling fire.

Fyrnask is certainly an entertaining act, and I particularly like how they didn't stay in the lines as far as the belief structure is concerned. The web version of the album cover seems to depict what could be referred to as Celtic or Nordic ideas, but the music also breaks off into middle eastern and Egyptian realms. This is the kind of atmospheres that I would delve into, if I were to make atmospheric music personally. It also means that a bridge is forming in pagan ideas and that people are becoming more open to other ideas, which is necessary for a sense of mental and spiritual evolution. There's absolutely nothing wrong with staying inside the lines, and for a large part of the album the black metal featured was very "commonplace" as in, I've heard the style used before. It's fine, but nothing wholly original. Once again, it was only until I delved deeper into the music that I realized there was a transformation occurring and I was delighted by these notions.

Certainly worth picking up if you're interested in a thrilling black metal influenced journey.

(8 Tracks, 56:00)



Gorguts - Colored Sands (PR2013) - Ah, yes. Colored Sands. So the time has come. This is, as you may very well know; Gorguts' first album in twelve years. And as such, it may bring a much different form and shape to the bands sound than you were expecting. But what you can expect, is that Gorguts is certainly all over the place and as colorfully dark as humanly possible with that endeavor, opening with a good show of technical drumming and riff barrages from the very start - as well as some prog injections and atmosphere. And they called that little number, "Le Tuit De Monde 6:33." And is it too off the collar to say that I'm noticing a little bit of post metal influence? Because it certainly seems as such. "An Ocean Of Wisdom 7:20" comes next and I'm still hearing the same post metal riffs in addition to the death plods and heightened song structures. There is also a great deal of atmosphere being laid out, as well as several bits of ear candy that warrant the moniker Gorguts. The ending of the track seems to close with a sort of ritualistic atmosphere, just as you would find in post metal. I'm beginning to see a pattern here.

"Forgotten Arrows 5:41" doesn't hit the mark for me, however. The djenting riffs and the post metal atmosphere don't seem to match the drumming. I understand that technicality is a trademark of Gorguts, but I just don't feel that these highly technical drum patterns work for this song and it seems like sort of a wash. "Forgotten Arrows" was better left, forgotten. "Colored Sands 7:55" has quite a bit of atmosphere, but then gets quite sludgy to be honest. There's still technicality, but I didn't expect so much grime from these guys. Then again, it has been twelve years. Children have damn near matured in the time since the band's last album, so I guess I can expect this new Gorguts to be quite different. When you compare this to Obscura it sounds like I'm listening to a completely different band - I really don't think anyone was expecting something so much in this post/sludge vein.

"The Battle Of Chamdo 4:42" is the album's instrumental and has already been covered and released by a band called Patrons Of The Rotting Gate as a bonus cover. This is probably my favorite track on the album, as it shows the band's classical chops and I think that the horror atmosphere it creates is absolutely perfect for a film. I highly recommend this track, even to people who do not like metal music at all. The sad part is, that there will be people who have never heard of Gorguts who will be looking for more of their music, expecting to find more classical pieces like this. "Enemies Of Compassion 7:03" comes next, reminding me more the Gorguts I remember. Though there are still a few dives, this at least has the nine million miles of technicality going for it; and that's what most people expect from Gorguts. "Ember's Voice 6:48" features roundabout the same, which is not the best sign at this point. Yes, they've made great soundscapes but they've used a lot of the same riffs while managing to do this. I don't feel that I'm listening to death metal anymore at this point, and the sludge is poured on so thick that it's like if Carcass started playing hard rock music. This just doesn't sound like Gorguts. Then of course, we've got "Absconders 9:08" and the closer "Reduced To Silence 7:38" which both sound roundabout the same.

Gorguts may have championed technical death metal when they made Obscura many moons ago, but this is definitely not technical death metal. It's some kind of heavily technical post/sludge and to be honest, it doesn't even sound like the same band. Though the guitar solos are great, they are short and bogged down with all of the post metal riffing and slow moments of sludge that most tech deathers just don't and won't want to hear. Yes, the drumming is still superb, but I would honestly pick Flo Mournier's work over this in so far as technicality. I can name plenty of albums right off the top of my head that go more places than this one did for me. I like to namedrop the last Sculptured album, Embodiment as one of them. Hell, I guess even Obscura makes better tech-death these days then the guys who made the fucking album that they took their name from. I have read most of the interviews for this album, but I don't recall any of them stating post metal and sludge influences. Which are fine, but a little disappointing even then - because they didn't really go anywhere with these post metal and sludge influences. The only track that stands out is "The Battle Of Chamdo" and that's pretty bad, as it's not even a metal track. Personally, I'd like to hear more of this dark, yet refined classical sense from Gorguts. Being classical composers, I would rather they just put out more great classical music. Besides, don't you think we need more classical music these days? Classical music that isn't as uplifting, more in the vein of Beethoven in his darkest hour?

As it stands, the disc is solid. I'm not going to tell you that they don't still have the same talent as far as musicianship goes, because they do. It's just a very unexpected direction for the music to go and I don't think that the tech death heads are going to like it as much as more current technical death metal acts. It could be a divergence from the tech death style, as the band might be convinced that they can't do another Obscura again; which I don't want to hear either. Colored Sands is a solid album, but that's about all it was for me. I expected much more from these guys. Maybe they'll deliver when a classical project gets announced next year. You know as well as I, that they've probably got hundreds of great classical compositions to fill our ears with.

Highlights: The Battle Of Chamdo (9 Tracks, 62:00)



The Ruins Of Beverast - Blood Vaults: The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer Cryptae Sanguinum (Evangelium Flagrans Henrici Institoris) (PR2013) - While not completely familiar with the Ruins Of Beverast, this new album is quite a monolith in as far as the scope of the disc is concerned. Even the lyrics are almost completely in Latin to go with the theme of the disc. But to be honest, I can't quite tell you what that is. It appears to equate the pleasures of a woman to sin, which seems like an awful shame to me. At any rate, I'm sure this is blasphemy in nature especially due to the album cover art and that the architect behind this (simply known as Gnarl, which makes me think that I should just call myself Chomp) is not of the Judeo-Christian standpoint. But I would hate to ask him if those words spoken in Latin are being correctly pronounced...

At any rate, the film (well, it feels like a film) opens with "I: Apologia 2:22" which is mostly the sound of a demon that Gnarl keeps under the floorboards of his house, so that it can perform on his albums every now and again as well as occasionally escaping to feast on lost souls. But as the music finally begins to come in, after some chanting and backwards speak (which isn't difficult to program, you just speak into the mic and have the program inverse it, giving off that quality.) While I've been told that Ruins Of Beverast was originally more black metal in nature, this new release sounds more like a sort of foreboding doom/death which certainly seems to be delivered well enough.

"II: Daemon 8:57" comes into play (daemon meaning either "guardian spirit" or "demigod") with just this formula in tow, bringing down thunderous riffs amongst holy chanting and more backwards speak. This, I could have done without as it works to cheapen the track. But I guess I feel this way because I've used this effect in my own work and didn't feel it was all that great. I would have rather spoken the words aloud backwards instead of using the program. A couple harsh scowls get in, and the drums definitely become present towards the end. All in all, it's a great introduction piece to the disc. "III: Malefica 10:24" uses some nice echo effects and is a bit more atmosphere-laden than the last track, although some heavier portions pop up as well as organs, which seem to dominate most of the album thus far. "IV: Ornaments On Malice 8:14" actually feels more like traditional death metal at the start, even with the trademark fuzz of older death metal releases. It breaks for more organ-laden atmosphere and certainly succeeds with that. "V: Spires, The Wailing City 13:16" delivers much of the same, despite it's length. By this time, you should know what kind of album this is. It is a record full of ominous, deep and lethargic atmospheres that don't really seem to envelop into blistering death, nor black metal at any point. VI: A Failed Exorcism 15:33" breaks up the monotony with a little tribal piece and some clean vocal injections. Then the band finally decides to kick it up a notch and introduce some actual death metal thunder to the disc. Finally, the drums have something to do! But after that, there's just a bit of synth and a return to some very slow and quite common doom riffing. "VII: Trial 3:43" comes next, and I really like this one as there's some acting. It's essentially a soundscape, but at least I can perceive a story. Amidst the chants and drumming, this trial really sounds like it's taking place. But I don't feel that the growls in the background were needed. I don't feel I could hear everything that was being said (unless it was in Latin, in that case I'm not too worried) over the background growls. It's a strongly impressive atmosphere at any rate. "VIII: Ordeal 3:47" must have been written after Gnarl showed this album to one of his friends and the guy told him that it was putting him to sleep, as it sees the drums kicking amongst female vocal speech. It's meant to be an atmosphere, but you can probably bang your head to the drum assault if you want. "IX: Monument 12:05" ends the disc with more doom-laden atmospheres in the same brooding style.

It's very tough for me to get into brooding material and sometimes it matters on the time of day, and my mood as to whether or not I can just jump into the genre. I have a friend who really likes the stuff though, so I'm sure he'll be buying this one. As for me, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and say that I was pleased with the acting on a few of these tracks and any instances with more punch. If you're looking for something that might sound both pious and impious all at the same time, well then I think you'll love the makeover that Gnarl has given to the Judeo-Christian faith, the gist of this album appearing to deal with witch trials and eventual burnings as is always a familiar topic in metal, especially in doom. While nothing new, chances are that you won't care. A solid disc from a musician who has far too much time on his hands, but nonetheless makes his time on the earth productive with this latest effort.

If you like death/doom at it's most thick and menacing, then I don't think there's any reason you'll pass this disc up. It's also a constant reminder that we set people on fire, drowned and hung them because they didn't believe in the words of a book that has been revised well over a hundred times in the course of it's lifespan. What a great joke, humanity. Next you're going to tell me that you herded up a bunch of people like cattle and then executed them because of their race. Wait...

Highlights: Apologia, A Failed Exorcism, Trial, Ordeal (9 Tracks, 78:00)



Cortez - Phoebus (PR2013) - Cortez is a French Hardcore/noise band, but of course I'm hearing a ton of post metal influence on the disc as well. This new one is called Phoebus and is their sophomore release after Initial. The album seems to be composed of a great deal of chaos, rage and melody but I'm also suggesting that there are soundscapes at work here. "Temps-mort 7:28" is for the most part a soundscape and it's the very intro to the release. But I tend to like the anger that launches "Transhumance 6:31" and the atmosphere that flows thereafter, much better. "Au-dela Des Flots 5:41" is also one to check out, especially if you the experimental hardcore sound of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan before clean vocals were added. The lyrics for the album are all in French, but that doesn't mean that you won't be able to get into the music. Language is no barrier in music, and these guys do a great job of communicating a message of noise and mayhem better than I've heard in a while.

These guys certainly do play with technicality, prog and all sorts of different things in order to create their own unique brand of metal. But can we even call it metal? It certainly sounds more like extremely experimental and progressive hardcore. But you can still bang your head to it. It doesn't offer much more than what it is though, most of the songs carry the same weight, but you probably won't care and neither did I during the listen. I really believe that there are people out there who have been crying out to hear this kind of material after Dillinger sort of lightened up and that's what you're getting here. The material is raw, remorseless and undoubtedly fierce. There are slight atmospheres, but just to give you enough time to recover before another bludgeoning. Those melodies might be melodic and beautiful, but the band definitely wants to fuck some things up on this record. It's got the grime of hardcore with the beauty of the most melodic post metal, which is an odd but intriguing mixture. I really don't see how these guys aren't that popular as they've shared the stage with many familiar acts, including the aforementioned Dillinger Escape Plan.

The digipack version comes with an extended version of "Borrelia 7:45" which is definitely worth checking out, as this is an extended version of a track that appeared on their last album. So the original is not featured here, meaning that if you haven't heard the first album; you at least get to hear a track from that disc as well. Definitely check this out. I know guys in bands right now that would be into this shit, if they knew it existed - and again, that's the reason I run this page... TO PROMOTE MUSIC!

Highlights: Transhumance, Au-dela Des Flots, Arrogants Que Nous Sommes, Un Lendemain Sans Chaine..., Sulfure, Nos Souvenirs Errants, Borrelia (Extended Version) (10 Tracks, 50:00)



Eyes Set To Kill - Masks (PR 2013) - It might surprise some of you, but I’m actually not going to tear this band a new one like I’ve done with some others. And there’s a good reason for that – the reason being that they’re actually not all that bad. Remember that I grew up with acts like Lacuna Coil as the female fronted metal/hard rock scene was just starting to emerge, and I’m definitely getting that influence here. Alexia Rodriguez is definitely the standpoint of the act, with Cisko Miranda sort of falling in behind with a few metalcore grunts here and there. The band themselves play a mix of down-tuned hard rock and metalcore which comes off as a mix between Lacuna Coil, Halestorm and many familiar metalcore acts. Whereas Lacuna Coil mixed a sort of masculine death metal growl with female vocals on their earlier albums; Eyes Set To Kill mixes the same female vocal harmonies with a masculine metalcore approach to harsh vocals. Alexia has really made herself known on this album, with several powerful vocal lines on tracks such as “Where I Want To Be”, “Little Liar” and “Haze” which also contain radio-friendly choruses. “Little Liar” in particular is worthy of many spins at my local rock station, if it’s not being spun there already.

Despite that the music is very catchy pop metal at its core; they have brought in a couple of solo pieces such as on “Killing In Your Name” which is refreshing. If these guys are looking to be the new Lacuna Coil, I think at this point it’s only going to take a couple of lavish music videos complete with a bevy of special effects to really grant them that status. My only complaint with the record is that there aren’t any subtle tracks, and it feels like Alexia has to half sing/half yell these choruses, which does become monotonous after a while. I’d like to hear her do something a little less rough, to truly test her vocal abilities. I remember when these guys first started out, accompanied with a music video for a song that really didn’t seem to hold my interest. Alas, it seems that the years have been kind to their experience as a band and that’s why this new release comes off much stronger. I think that fans of female fronted metal who can appreciate traditional singing will like this one, but they’re still light years away from holding a candle to the big guns like Nightwish, Theatre Of Tragedy and Tristania.

(13 Tracks, 45:00)



Symbolic - Scarvest (PR2013 Review Reprint) - Since I already reviewed this in 2011 and that review seems good enough to reprint and my opinion hasn't changed on the disc - here is my original review for the album:

Well, I’m certainly impressed with this one. It’s technical melodic death metal with an emphasis on the technicality, melody, and death metal. So what’s not to like? My jaw almost dropped at the caliber of these songs, each and every one of them offering me something that I never knew that I needed to hear.

Whether it be the unconventional technical chorus line of “Everlasting 6:21” or the catchiness of “The Greed 8:49” or even the classical metal stylings of “Bittersweet 6:39” the band certainly knows exactly what in the hell this genre should sound like. As much as I love the musicality of Revocation, I wish they had a vocal line-up like these guys - a gravelly growler, and a true screamer that make the music all the more worth checking out. There's not some hardcore guy on this one, no sir!

There’s even a nice instrumental ditty called “MySery 3:23” which starts out with a nice acoustic and goes into a fantastic solo, which is just the sort of thing you can expect from the band; since they really have some killer guitar work, with impeccable solos and melody. This band reminds of the heyday for melodic death metal, but put into the mainstream technical light - and it fucking works 100%.

The title track is also especially good, with the band really showing some emotion both musically and vocally. True, there are some parts where things don’t work quite as well as they should; but for the most part, every track is a winner. You may not have heard of these guys, like myself; but I wished that I’d have listened to this one sooner. What an incredible band. Definitely one to watch out for.

Edit: A track was added to the release called "7H8P7P5H7 7:06" and it is also worth checking out, as it includes some unexpected electronic play after another solid track. It doesn't bring the score down any, that's for sure.

(8 Tracks, 51:00)



Ramming Speed - Doomed To Destroy, Destined To Die (PR2013) - For a bunch of guys who can blow through thirteen songs in thirty five minutes, that's got to say something, right? And yeah, that's what you'll get with Ramming Speed. They play a sort of thrashy punk with good attention to detail, and the vocals come off as fierce shouts amidst strong guitar melodies. Occasionally, there' s a few growls on the disc as well, and some variations on the band's formula - like the inclusion of technicality and doom. "Gorgon's Eye 2:15" sees the band playing with black/death, but only black in vocals; and that's emulation at best. But whether they're playing metal or just catchy punk like "Anthems Of Despair (Summer Jam) 2:46" they're definitely doing their own thing and don't seem to want to color inside the lines. This is a bunch of guys that just go in there knowing what kind of music they want to play and tried to incorporate as much of their influences as possible on the record. I also think that "Hollow Giants 5:07" has a huge amount of potential and separates itself from the speedier punk/thrash of the rest of the album, so be sure to give that one a listen. One can definitely say that these guys do a lot of the same thing for most of the disc, which is to play fast and balls out and in several different styles; but at least the slow, but delivering pace of this track showcases the fact that they can bring things down a notch and come out sounding just as clean as when everything was still at about a thousand beats per minute.

While not usually my cup of tea, these guys are definitely not an act to pass up on. I'd never heard of them before now, and I've got to say that they've really got some merit. But I'm sure this material is much better performed in a live setting, so go buy some fucking tickets!

Highlights: Gorgon's Eye, Anthem Of Despair (Summer Jam), Hollow Giants (13 Tracks, 35:00)



Blood Pollution - Monster Truck Man (PR2013) - The sound of punk appears to be strong in Russia and Blood Pollution is a good sign of that. There's definitely the feel of early Motorhead here too, but for the most part these guys like to write solo heavy tracks that verge on rockabilly and feature titles like "Too Big For You 3:44" and "Jesus Ate My Neighbors 3:06." The vocals might not be your thing, but you can't deny that these guys definitely have some talent and they definitely prove it with this release. It's not an album that really requires further digging, but it's worth checking out if you'd like to a promising hear a mix of punk, southern rockabilly and early heavy metal.

(6 Tracks, 16:00)



Govor - Lucifer Demo (Band Request 2013) - This is a seven track demo from a mostly instrumental and somewhat atmospheric black metal project by the name of Govor. It also seems to be the musical accompaniment to a 30 page PDF essay on the concept of Lucifer, that has been written in the most astute manner and even includes an appendix of references. It very much feels on the collegiate level and I highly recommend reading it even if you don't listen to the music at all.

As for the music, it's as I've described - a mostly instrumental and atmospheric black metal project of respectable recording quality. Govor incorporates classical elements into this melodic black metal dish, which still retains partially raw and has a side of tribal elements. "Mit O Noci 4:51" is the first to bring those tribal elements into fold, you can even hear the crickets chirping in the night and the feel the fire blazing against your skin as chants are being sung around this fire, yet there is still a sense of mesmerism in it all, like Govor has more to offer to the world of music than we are currently aware. "Bitka Na Nebu 4:40" utilizes some simplistic drumming and familiar black metal riffs, but the song lightens down a bit to open up a much different atmosphere before it goes back to searing your skin with blazing riffs once again. There's a bit of a vocal element here, but that might be a sound effect. "Gospodar Tame 6:07" brings back the classical elements of the piece, but eventually runs back into a stripped down sort of black metal that seems to allow for the light chants and rolls seamlessly into a much lighter tone. This isn't the kind of black metal disc for one who expected an all out shitstorm, but it is a disc for one who doesn't mind a convicting atmosphere. Which is what this has. "Cetvrti Element 4:37" brings folk elements into the mix, but covers those light tones with boiling lava as volcanic riffs erupt and cascade through Pompeian soundscapes, or what the music from such a culture might have sounded like before it became encased in ash. "Zrtva Paljenica 6:33" throws Arabian melodies into the mix, amongst other odd; yet interesting, ideas. "Samozapaljenje 5:04" is next, bringing more black metal force and adding more chants to that force. "Prosvijetljenje 5:22" sounds like one triumphant last hurrah for the concept of Lucifer, and contains a light break just before the final promenade. After all, this seems to be the last that the topic will be covered and you can read more about these interesting concepts in the essay.

Lucifer turns black metal into an art gallery piece of sorts, which might turn some people off. Even though it does have a fair share of black metal riffs, this is definitely not the kind of album that you'd expect. Which is why I like it. It's not your run of the mill black metal disc and something quite interesting and unique appears to be developing here. Despite that the song titles are all in Croatian, the essay is entirely available in English and is once again - quite astute. You could, if you wanted to; listen to the album while reading the essay. They seem to go well together and are both quite entertaining. Definitely something worth checking out.

(7 Tracks, 37:00)



Deadfall - The Sentinel EP (FREE ALBUM Band Request 2013) - The first EP for this djent project seems to offer a decent musical performance, but to be honest I've never been that much a fan of this djent style. However, these guys are one of the scant few acts who DON'T completely resort to harsh vocals during djent riffs, making "Sentinel 4:04" a real gem. The frontman has a vocal approach that's as soft and smooth as glass, he also comes off as clean as Chino Moreno and reminds me quite a bit of him. "Shades Of Inception 5:04" sees things a little heavier, but with still light melodic leads and those same polished vocals. It may be a quality issue, but the music sounds like it's in the background and needs to be recorded just a bit louder. The vocals are a good level, but I just can't hear the actual riffs and drums that well in the mix. The song also contains a clean/harsh duet that sounds roundabout like a thousand other djent bands. But at least they are trying to do something different. "The Divergence 4:39" actually brings the light side back for a while, before a bludgeoning comes in. Again, the djent riffs are here; but there's nothing truly interesting about them. Eddie just seems to be testing his metal at making a djent album and that's fine - but I'd really like to hear other influences come into this music, to really separate it from djent album x, y and z.

The band are recording a full length and I think it will be available a little later this year. I really hope they raise the volume on the mix, because I just can't really hear the riffs all that well; and I'd hope that they add some variation on the disc. But then again, djent really isn't my thing.

If you're interested, you can pick up a copy of this (and other work) here:

Highlights: The Sentinel (3 Tracks, 13:00)



Incarceration - Sacrifice (Band Request 2013) - These guys revel in classic death metal and they certain deliver a ravenous approach to the genre. This is their debut vinyl, (digital rip, I don't have a record player) but it is also available as a tape. I'm not even sure where you can get tapes anymore in this country, even blank ones. At any rate, the disc starts with pummeling death metal with an emphasis on drum battering; and ends with pummeling death metal with an emphasis on drum battering. "Forsaken and Forgotten 2:15" is the track that begins the onslaught and it comes packed with familiar riffing, ghastly vocals, and a drummer that knows what he's doing. These guys play death metal like they may have had prior experience playing it before. "Sacrifice 4:11" features a groove injection that slows the thrash down a bit, yet Daniel Duracell still manages to display some killer vocals on the track. It's also the only track the contains a solo. The EP ends with "Cemetery Of Lies 3:18" which ends the disc on the same note that it started. These guys are inspired by Nihilist, Sadistic Intent, Repulsion, Repugnant, early Sepultura and early Slayer. But I'm hearing a hell of a lot of The Crown.

The 7" EP is well worth checking out if you like raw and thrash-laden death metal. By the way, here's a freebie that they did with Escarnium:


Free Download:

(3 Tracks, 9:00)



Voyag3r - Victory In The Battle Chamber (Band Request 2013) - Voyag3r sent me this short 7" comprised of just two tracks, but there is definite promise within. The beginning of the disc starts with "Victory In The Battle Chamber 4:06" and it sounds like something I've heard from an obscure 80's sci-fi film and I love every minute of it. The synths are so delightfully old school and the guitars have that 80's tone that just sounds like they were illustrating the soundtrack for some awesome interplanetary battle - there's enemy ships everywhere, and then there's this one ship that's completely badass. That one ship is able to disintegrate each and every other ship with no problem at all, minus a few dives and rolls to avoid being shot.

Now for the next track, "Hunted Becomes Hunter 4:10" which sounds like it belongs in a shmup. Like literally in the game. Remember that Machinae Supremacy used their music for Jets N Guns, so these guys could contribute something to either the shmup or FPS or platforming genres. Plenty of Kickstarter folks that would pay you, I'm sure. This track has more metal influence, but still retains great synths and the same clean performance as the last one. This project doesn't miss a beat. I'd like to hear more.

(2 Tracks, 8:00)



Metadox - Birth Of The Dragon (Promotional Free Track Review 2013) - This is a free track, so I'm going to give the link where you can download it; (and hopefully their demo, because after hearing this - I want to hear the demo) even though it might spoil Game Of Thrones for you, as it did me. But I kind of figured it would be Denaeryus that sits on the fucking throne. I mean come on, she's got the fucking dragons, the only bit of magic in the land besides the things behind the wall. But she probably won't sit on the throne forever, as Martin seems to love playing Shakespearian tragedy with his characters (which I personally say is an awful move for a writer - if you keep killing off your main characters, people will just stop reading the books. You let people down too many times and they'll just go on to something else.) and I guess he's just using this fantasy world to reflect real world matters. As in, there's no real "happy ending." Oh well. Could always read The Wheel Of Time. I dunno. My books (The Will's Downfall Saga) aren't too clean either, but I always feel bad when I've killed a main character. It's like killing your own child. But I guess you get over that in time.

At any rate, what I'm hearing is definitely something I'd like to go on much further. It's power thrash and it's got a lot of promise. These vocal lines are powerful and the chorus is catchy as hell. The front man kills it with these lines and the guitar melodies are also quite strong, as are the drums present. Yes, there's also a nice guitar solo. They didn't fuck up a song about Game Of Thrones/ASOI&F, so I'm glad for that. I'd like to hear the song with greater production value, so I hope that they re-record it at some point - but it's definitely memorable and it's not the first time I've played it.

Now it's stuck in my head again. Go grab the track for free, right here:

(1 Track 5:57)


Fall Rundown: Releases You May Have Missed Pt. II


Many More Of These To Come!


Darkestrah - Manas (2013) - I don't know about you, but I really anticipated the new Darkestrah album. But I was more than surprised that they'd gone away from their Native American lyricism and into something more, well... Russian? While I know not why they chose this path, the harsh black metal nature of the band is still intact complete with the twiddling of acoustics, and in some parts, clean vocals. Though I can see how the female vocalist would like to compete with others of her ilk, I much prefer her scowling; as her clean vocal tone reminds me of the Demon Lung frontwoman. There's also, as you can expect - a lot of Russian on this disc. It's probably doing well in the motherland; but I don't really know if fans over in the states or elsewhere will really get into it. But however you throw it, the main point of this album is atmosphere mixed with folk instruments and a side of black metal. The black metal is like the fries here. So don't expect this to be anything like their last album, The Great Silk Road. Then I look at the release date (2008) and discover that we've waited five years for this.

Despite the fact that the band does a great job on the heavier side of things, I just don't feel this album in the same way that I felt The Great Silk Road. It just doesn't resonate with me. That's no reason not to check it out, but for me; the album just didn't feel like Darkestrah to me.

(5 Tracks, 40:00)



[b]Galneryus - The Ironhearted Flag Vol.1 - Regeneration Side (2013)[/b] - What this is, is an amazing new compilation from one of the best power metal bands in the world - Japan's Galneryus. But this isn't just a "let's take our best tracks and put them on a compilation album" it's rather a "let's re-record them all with today's modern equipment and with our incredible new vocalist." As such, the result is as you can expect - mind blowing. For those of you who enjoyed Angel Of Salvation, these re-recorded tracks are right up there with that material even though some of them come from 2003's The Flag Of Punishment up to 2008's Reincarnation. And this is just the first installment of these re-recordings. If you're already familiar with these songs, then you know that the band could only do them more justice here - and they certainly do so. There are also elements of neoclassical and folk added to the soaring guitar solos and amazing melodies laden with this masterpiece. Definitely one of the best power metal albums of the year, even if these are simply re-recordings of already strong material. I'm still curious as if they're going to do a re-recording of the theme to Rin: Daughters Of Mnemosyne, which is where I discovered them. Never even finished watching that anime even though it was just six episodes long - but I've been playing the living hell of Galneryus ever since.

Some of this album brought back memories. So yeah, it's a keeper for me. Japanese power metal at it's absolute finest.

(10 Tracks, 62:00)



Darkane - The Sinister Supremacy (2013 Ltd. Edition) - It was quite funny to look at the Decibel review for this and see the caption "Where's The Reefs?" Because I clearly didn't hear the same thing that he heard. Nevetheless, I did notice a few troublesome patterns on the disc. Those I will lay out for you.

Alright, so the title track (The Sinister Supremacy 4:22) came in very At The Gates, clean chorus, great solo. But "Mechanically Divine 4:25" is clearly a much better track. The drummer's still bashing the hell out of that kit, but at least the clean is much better and the riff melodies are a bit stronger, as with the inclusion of several solos. "Ostracized 3:49" is a real basher with little in the way of melody and more in the way of drums - again, the drums are the most audible thing here. The band does try to utilize some orchestration on the disc, but I can't really see how it affects the album. "The Decline 4:41" has a strong chorus, but nothing else on it is worth noting. "Insurrection Is Imminent 5:27" is long and boring, while "In The Absence Of Pain 4:20" makes me think of fist pumping hardcore with slight bits of technicality and a solo, coupled in with a clean chorus. "Humanity Defined 4:05" sounds much like the rest of the disc, with an added chorus and solo. Getting a pattern here? "Hate Repentance State 2:31" is just more piano and violin. "Collapse Of Illusions 4:38" has a bit of dirt and grime to it, along with a clean chorus and you guessed it - another solo. "By Darkness Designed 3:56" is just as speedy as the others, but has a much stronger clean influence that makes it sort of catchy. The disc's closer is "Existence Is Just A State Of Mind 4:53" and mixes djent and melody well with another clean chorus and a solo.

Bonus Tracks

"Malicious Strain 4:24" throws in more groove and technicality, yet it seems to revolve around one technical pattern that they manipulate throughout the track. The last one here is "I, Author Of Despair 4:06" and explains where the riffs went. This sounds more like melodic death metal, but it also sounds a bit death n' roll too. They really should have included this track on the disc to provide some needed differentiation. ie: VARIETY, which is what this disc sorely lacks. It's not about the riffs, it's about the lack of structure. They pretty much used the same formula for every song and that's what killed it. It's still listenable, but not entirely memorable. There were "riffs" on the album. They just weren't all that good.

Highlights: Mechanically Divine, I Author Of Despair (Bonus) (14 Tracks, 57:00)



Anvil - Hope In Hell (2013 Ltd. Edition) - This is my first foray with Anvil, but not the first time I've ever heard them. Granted, I watched their story on VH1 and such and I'm glad they're getting some kind of recognition now. The new disc (at least this version) contains thirteen tracks of classic heavy metal thunder.

The opener "Hope In Hell 4:43" is a sort of darker track with some Sabbath riffs thrown into it and has a positive message. Then we have "Eat Your Words 3:41" which doesn't thrash too much, and isn't all that loud. There's a good solo on it, but it's definitely not as thrashy as some thrash bands that I've heard. "Through With You 4:48" is a bit more rock than metal, but "The Fight Is Never Won 4:28" actually has a bit more thrash muscle and a nice solo to boot. "Pay The Toll 2:48" is also more rock than metal. But the solo also stands out. That seems to be where these guys excel - being catchy and playing good guitar solos. It's very marketable, "safe metal" that Wal-mart would have no problem with. "Flying is a pretty strong track with a Priestly vibe, it also contains a memorable solo. Then we have the (facepalm) "Call Of Duty 3:54" which is no doubt inspired by the best-selling video game. I'm curious how many people have actually blasted this one over the internet while playing the game. Nevertheless, it's a strong track which is not surprising. I'm really surprised that Activision hasn't endorsed it. "Badass Rock n' Roll 4:35" is a great Kiss impersonation, but it has nothing on Monster. "Time Shows No Mercy 4:36" has a great message, but I'm not so sure about the presentation, again - other than the rockin' guitar solo. "Mankind Machine 4:13" is a good stab at metal, I'll give them that. But I thought these guys were better than this album. "Shut The Fuck Up 3:38" might be the point when Wal-Mart draws the line, but it's definitely one of my favorite songs from these guys. Definitely punk in nature and makes it point known. "Hard Wired 3:08" is a decent rock song. Not much more I can say about it. The album ends with "Fire At Will 4:03" has the Priestly vibe returned once again and reaches into metal just one more time before the disc ends.

Well, there was hope in hell for these guys finally being recognized; but now that people know who they are, it doesn't really give them the right to put out a sub-par album like this. This album was about a 7 when I first started listening to it. It just didn't really leave a mark on me and I doubt it will you, either. It's a warm and fuzzy album filled with mostly positive messages and pro-war sentiments. You'll also notice that warm and fuzzy also applies to the production value. It sounds old-school, but with a hint of clean production. They mix rock and metal just as good as some other bands can, and it's certainly music that parental units would buy for their young rocker kids, but it's just not that great as far as a disc. I couldn't sworn that Anvil was thrash, but I'm hearing very little of that here. At any rate, it's a catchy alternative to more extreme genres and will probably go great with the disc that I've reviewed right after it. It's safe metal.

Highlights: The Fight Is Never Won, Flying, Call Of Duty, Shut The Fuck Up (13 Tracks, 53:00)



Avenged Sevenfold - Hail To The King (2013) - As you know, I reviewed Nightmare and thought that it had some great moments. I've never actually hated these guys, but I'm well aware of their influence on the mainstream culture of hard rock and heavy metal and their blatant commercialism. But let's face it - they're catchy and appeal to my dwindling tastes in hard rock.

For this disc, they listed to a lot of ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Pantera and especially, the black album. It's an album that incorporates a lot of study as the band wanted to create a "classic album." And for the most part, they've succeeded. "Shepherd Of Fire 5:18" uses damn near the same riff melodies as "Enter Sandman" but they manage to cap it with a strong chorus and memorable guitar solo. Yeah, it's a little heard rock in areas; but at least there's no emo shit going on. Believe it or not, M. Shadows finally decided to just sing in a respective tone and I'm quite thankful for that as I can actually get into a few of these tracks in all actuality. "Hail To The King 5:02" apparently plays on the radio, complete with the same chunky guitar and some memorable guitar melodies. A friend of mine talked about how much he hated this song, but if you go back and look at other classic songs in it's style, it's actually done just as well. Granted, the radio probably over blew it which helped to create more hatred to what is actually a solid piece with a strong guitar solo. Hate them all you want, these are decent chops. And again, no emo shit. Plus, the song makes me think of Duke Nukem and I've always been a big fan of that series, so maybe they'll use it in a follow-up that doesn't suck.

"Doing Time 3:30" was a little weak, but I'm catching a bit of Billy Idol on it. Plus, you can't go wrong with the guitar solo. "This Means War 6:09" is next and definitely borrows from Metallica's "Sad But True" but they've sort of made it their own. Sort of. It's still quite apparent. Shadows utilizes some strong lines on the lead up to the chorus and there's another memorable guitar solo. "Requiem 4:24" features a darker tone, some orchestral influence and powerful solo. There's also a choir. "Crimson Day 5:00" is a light ballad that I didn't really care for, but I'm sure that someone out there likes it. A solo won't save this. "Heretic 4:53" actually seems to be anti-religious for a band who started out as Christian. It's about the witch trials. Not as strong as some of the other tracks, but it's close. "Coming Home 6:20" seems like the band's biggest attempt at channeling power metal. "Planets 5:58" is the last bit of heavy on the disc, and I actually really like the lyrics to this one - it definitely overtook me on the chorus. If these guys ever deserved a crowning achievement, it's on this one. Yeah, I can hear the influences - but at least they're attempting to channel metal this time and not the emo shit that they've been doing for ages now. There's no screams on the disc, and the quality of the album is also warm and fuzzy like that of Anvil. They're actually good purchases together, and better than some of the other crap that's out there. I don't think there would ever be a day that I would recommend these guys over Butcher Babies or whatever the fuck else is teeny-bopper metal, but this is about as close to the real deal as the mainstream gets. It's a good gateway drug, if nothing else.

But I'm forgetting about the album's closer in "Acid Rain 6:44" which is a light ballad. Think GNR's "November Rain" but not as good. There is a worthy solo on the track though, so I gave it a few points. There's a bonus track to this album, so pick it up if you want that track (I don't have it.)

At any rate, I would definitely recommend this one to people who are tired of whiny emo metal and whatever the hell else is going to come out of the woodwork and be signed as the next big thing. Sometimes it takes a band several albums before they're worth a shit. Nightmare was a good sign of things to come and I'm glad that they continued with that style.

Highlights: Shepherd Of Fire, Hail To The King, This Means War, Requiem, Coming Home, Planets (10 Tracks, 53:00)



Agrypnie - Aetas Cineris (2013) - Ah, Agrypnie. Finally I can go ahead and review this one. it's been sitting on my hard drive for ages now and I can't even remember the last time I listened to it. Partially, because this new disc just isn't as spirited as their previous work. Now considered in the realms of advant-garde black metal, it's much different than the electronic laden work of their past. Why they've changed directions I cannot tell, but it's an unfortunate surprise.

There's only eight tracks here, most of them being quite long. "Trummer/ Aetas Cineris 8:33" doesn't really get good until it's almost a quarter of the way in. The melodies really start flowing then, even though the drums definitely still get just enough time to be heard. There's a melancholy solo at the end. "Dezember 10:51" continues the melody backing German harsh vocals (not necessarily scowls or growls, but at points enveloping into scowls) synth atmospheres break in, and electronics are featured amidst some interesting riff drops, finally ending the whole thing out with acoustics and wind... until it gets heavy and again and fades out. "Zuruck 8:19" is next, and it starts out like something you'd expect from Depeche Mode. There's portions where the drums rip into fury and the vocals are rough, but then it hops back into atmosphere, later getting heavy (and are those breakdowns at the end) and finally finishing up. "Kosmos (Alpha) 8:10" starts out with atmospheres that seem spatial, but those atmospheres continue... for the whole of seven minutes. Then the band gets a bit of the shoegaze black metal riffs going and it's got me thinking that maybe this is the intro to a great track. That never happens, as the song fades out. Are these gentlemen lost? "Gnosis 9:04" as you might remember from the Asche EP sounds just like it did there, as it had here. And it doesn't really leave that much of a mark after that. I mean, it's a good track - but how memorable will it be a day or two from now? "Erwachen 9:28" throws melodic atmosphere into the mix more and succeeds where other songs just seem to come off as normal. "Sinnflut 11:25" does the same thing, but not as successful, I think? That's my problem with this disc though - I'm not really feeling it. It just seems like much of the same. And finally, the disc ends with "Asche 11:32" which sounds just the same as it does on the Asche EP. It's filled with light atmospheres and melodies. A very beautiful piece, yet still a bit melancholy - however, it speaks to me more than this entire album ever will. They ruin the song with metal. For some odd reason, these guys want to take these great melodic mood pieces and just throw the extremity in where it doesn't really fit. Yeah, to some of you "they ruin the song with metal" might be a turn off, but why record an 8:00 atmosphere piece, just to throw about 2:36 seconds of metal on it at the end?

Aetas Cineris is a solid album, but might get on one's nerves due to the length of these pieces. A man hollering in German amidst the melodies just doesn't seem to work. He should have just scowled this stuff. Why are you hollering? Ruins the whole damned disc for me. Good ideas that went nowhere, is what this album amounts to. I'd definitely recommend all of their previous work, save the Asche EP, where this new direction began.

Highlights: Kosmos (Alpha), Erwachen, Asche (8 Tracks, 77:00)



Azure Emote - The Gravity Of Impermanence (2013) - While "It's better than their last one" might be enough to suffice for some listeners, I was definitely a bit more intrigued by this release from American Avant-Death specialists, Azure Emote. The disc came with lyrics, so that helped a bit in my understanding of the material. I'm extremely interested in the song "Annunaki Illuminati 3:41" and would be more than willing to pick the lyricist's brain about this:


Saurians, Pleiadians, Zeta Reticuli...Nibiru and Tiamat, earth's formation from destruction. The ecliptic Annunaki, monatomic gold enhancement.
Manipulation of genetic Nephilim, Bohemian concealment.
The triangle domination, history repeats the all watching eye!

Saurians, Pleiadians, Zeta Reticuli...Hypnotizing beliefs and misdirection.
Questions ignored, yet obelisk's erected. Anomalies symbolic, diplomatic planned war and re-enslavement! Behavioral frequencies, illuminati.
Greada treaty, and black budget espionage. Technological control and global union, strategic powers in place. Spectrum secrets, knowledge concealment, the Ark is moving west! Saurians, Pleiadians, Zeta Reticuli...Stars removed, harmonic vibrations of equilibrium.

Auditive levitation, geomancy, anti-gravity. Open source pyramid electricity. Upper-class monopoly, fear of our freedoms from dependency. Saurians, Pleiadians, Zeta Reticuli...Hypnotizing beliefs and misdirection. Questions ignored, yet obelisk's erected. Spectrum secrets, knowledge concealment, the Ark is moving west!

From what I can discern, the song begins to depict two alien races that I've heard people discuss on conspiracy boards; the Saurians and Pleiadians. I'm not sure if these have any relation to David Icke's Reptilians, but apparently they are a sort of master race hiding as humans in a seat of power. I've no clue who the Zeta Reticuli are. Nibiru is of course, that other planet that was supposed to crash into and destroy are little blue ball around 2012. Well, it's 2013. Tiamat is the dragon from ancient Sumerian lore. She was killed by Gilgamesh and her body formed the heavens and the Earth. Of course, the Annunaki are supposedly the "winged ones" that helped to educate us and are falsely depicted as angels. Monatomic gold enhancement has me a bit interested, not sure what that is - but I remember hearing that gold was a vital resource to these races. Manipulation of genetic Nephilim (is that us?) Of course the triangle and the eye are symbols of the pseudo order called the "Illuminati" which is actually a front for something darker and more mysterious. A friend refers to it as the "dark cabal" while others consider it to be "The Powers That Be" or quite simply, TPTB. The history portion must relate to their manipulation of events.

He continues to say that they have helped to misdirect and misguide us in our beliefs, of which I believe the Judeo-Christian religion to be one of those constructs. Without a fear of punishment, or a promise of eternal peace in the afterlife, a man would not sit idly by while the current system continues to bring him down. One's only solace is in this, "if I live well, I will be free from this monotony." Of course, the Obelisk has a sort of symbolism to it - I'm not sure what occultic energies it may have. Diplomatic planned war and re-enslavement could mean that there is a ploy to get people to rebel against their government, so that they could lose their freedoms and become slaves. I'm not the only one who's thought of this. Behavioral frequencies must refer to electromagnetic waves. It is thought that one can be controlled through those frequencies (ie: watch The Signal). No need to cover the false disguise of Illuminati, yet I am curious as to this Greada Treaty. Will have to do some research on that. Black budget espionage must refer to covert operations, technological control (NSA) and global union (one world bank, Amero) strategic powers in place - that's obvious. No need to dig there. Knowledge concealment (something I'm trying to un-conceal with my novels) The Ark has me puzzled, I keep thinking of either Noah, Utnapishtim or Transformers and neither of them are correct. But it must be some sort of ship/colony? Moving west, must mean moving towards the US. Stars removed, harmonic vibrations of equilibrium - I've got a friend who's quite in touch with the universe and claims that he can "feel vibrations" as of late. Not sure what this means, but it could be why my head has been so stuffy lately.

Now we're getting to the interesting part. Auditive levitation, which doesn't even sound probable (auditive = auditory = hearing) geomancy, the ancient art of earth related magick, for those who believe in such an art. Open source pyramid electricity - watched a documentary on this that said the pyramids were originally used as power sources and were different colors than what they are now. I wrote about this in one of my books. The rest refers to the class warfare, which pits rich against poor. This will get chaotic when food shortages begin. Then he goes back to say that the Ark is moving west.

First of all, yes - I've studied up on this stuff. I happen to have a thing for conspiracies. I've also studied everything from witchcraft, high magick, generalized occult, metaphysics and then some. My band's old drummer was in the alien portion and that's when I began getting interested in that material. I'm also a fiction author who delves into the realms of science fiction, fantasy, horror and beyond; so there's definitely a bit of intrigue here. We are living in somewhat interesting/chaotic times where I've noticed the media filling minds with useless knowledge and giving them insight for things that they should not be interested in. I'll also add that some Christians believe these alien races to be fallen angels. I'm not entirely bought on that idea. What I do know, is that I remember (wrote about it in my Ghost review) that the elite (not Ghost) want to build a Ziggurat in the desert. If you're not sure what a Ziggurat is, go look it up. It's essentially a type of pyramid. Hell, you can even find images for what this thing will look like when completed online. It's going to be a lavish structure, which I will be writing more about it my next book; but for now just know that you aren't going to be allowed in it. Why you want to live out in the middle of the desert, I have no fucking clue - but who knows what the plans for that Ziggurat are by these alien races? I don't know, but I'll be writing about it.

Now that all that is done, let's review the album as a whole. There are fourteen tracks here, starting with "Epoch Of De-Evolution 5:41" which mixes technical death metal along with electronics and female vocalizing (hums) There's also a rather nice, albeit confusing solo. They've definitely chosen one of the odder tracks to start the disc out and that's a good thing. "Carpe Diem 7:45" has the whole "ancient civilization of wonder" vibe going for it and then goes into gothic choirs. It reminds me of what might happen if old Therion and new Therion got together. There's even a tasteful violin solo. Fucking beautiful. Upon studying the lyrics, I'm completely clueless as to what this song is about. But the lines "Particle based expectations - deep rooted!" are quite interesting. "Marching Forth 5:26" seems to lyrically be based on being your own hope in life (savior, messiah, exc. - think Iced Earth's "My Own Savior" for a more blunt interpretation) and the song itself trudges a bit slower, but still maintains the technicality and violin solos. There's also some symphonic elements that make the track come off as something of a filmscore. I do have a feeling that these violin solos might get on people's nerves, even though I find them quite beautiful. "Sunrise Slaughter 1:01" is basically about a farmer killing pigs in the morning. There's a flute throughout the whole thing, and some people might laugh at it. Was that a rooster I heard? It probably could have been left off in all actuality.

"Conduit Of Atrophy 3:28" has lyrics that are quite audible. I'd actually love to do another review of this, where I attempt to explain these songs since he's hidden a lot of things inside of them, making this album a lyrical scavenger hunt. But if I'll say anything, there are two lines on this track that may not be apparent to most, but they need further study. "Behold! We are electricity consciousness... Borrowed Energy" which simply states that we (as in the spirit/soul/consciousness, whatever) are essentially, filled with electricity. The brain is chock full of it, all of our memories akin to ultra-computers, with all that data being stored in electric form. This is why those who have passed can manipulate electricity. It is in a sense, the same energy that we're all based on. The "borrowed" energy of the universe itself. It's not ours. We're just temporary users of this energy, like everyone and everything else throughout the whole of existence. Everything has an energy and a pulse, these pulses are all linked together. The song is about the fact that we will die and are eventually going to have to put this energy back to where it belongs (I've heard of something called the guft, of guff that stores universal energy.) It's also true that we become small circular orbs when we're gone. Yeah, that's how we're observed at any rate. A friend of mine has an old, haunted farmhouse (believe me, that fucker's definitely haunted. I stayed a few nights over there and you don't want to be there when it's the witching hour. Weird shit happens.) and he showed me pictures that were taken of the residence by some indie paranormal research group (not the phony Ghost Hunters - TAPS) and it's pretty damned spectacular to see all these orbs, each representing a single spirit. So yeah, they'll fuck with electricity and try to get inside your head and fuck with your brainwave patterns if you let them. It's all just a part of science that we haven't yet been able to give a proper definition to. But I remember a scientist saying that if there was a life after death, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. It would just be a part of science. It wouldn't prove any one religion or idea. It would just prove something that occurs after one exist this physical plane. It's really nothing to get excited over, and no reason to jump into the church with a Bible in hand, hoping for heaven. There's not even a guarantee that those realms exist - and if they do, that you would be allowed in them. As for the song itself, it's quite strong and offers an actual guitar solo. So if the violin was getting on your nerves, this one offers a straightforward approach.

"Veils Of Looming Despair 5:03" features electronics, more violin and the return of the ten million direction song that these guys are known for. It's certainly just as strong as anything else. The next track, "Dissent 4:45" has a fairly straightforward message, but I'm having a problem discerning the viewpoint. is this from the artist or that of the elite? It basically seems to demonize the elite, while exerting that we have unalienable rights since birth and freedoms within those rights. But then there's "Patience is key to manifest design" and I'm not sure what kind of design he is talking about. Finally, there's "expand the chosen bloodline" which threw me completely off balance, as I would equate the bloodline with the supposed thirteen bloodlines (really? 13? come on, that has to be a joke. I mean, of all numbers it's 13) of the elite. (Rothschild, Bilderberg, all those "monocle" sounding names.) I get what the idea of the song is (rebel against the elite) but the bloodline thing has me confused. I would figure that we should end their bloodline, not continue it. As for the track, it's technical death metal with soloing keyboards and thunderous drums. The keyboards definitely remind me a bit of the PSX Megaman X titles, but then there's the portion of the track which is strongly audible, yet still a bit masked and leads into the chorus that contains a punk shout "I want you dead!" and finally has fun with the gothic organs. "The Living Spiral 4:34" brings on saxophone and female vocals with lyrics that remind me a bit of Woods Of Ypres "Mirror Reflection & The Hammer Reinvention." Basically, it's about crushing all obstacles to achieve your goals, there's no soul in longing to complete your tasks, you've got to find your purpose and get out there and do shit. That includes busting your ass. I mean, I could - I really could have spent all day long playing a PC game. Would've been a lot of fun. But I believe so much in this music, the bands, and my writing; that I want to get it out and make my opinions known. When I get done with this, I have still even more reviews to do. There will be time for games later. You've got to become the hammer and smash through all the shit that life throws at you, reflecting the truth of your being.

Not quite sure of the meaning of "Obsessive Time Directive 2:49" with it's electronics, saxophone and continue death metal abrasion; but I guess it's about that it doesn't matter what you do because it won't matter in time? Then we have "Patholysis 2:05" which features a Kevorkian quote. It's alright, mostly atmospherics and female chanting. Don't really get it. Kevorkian also had some better quotes than this one. He said something about the system one time that I liked. "Destroyer Of Suffering 3:41" starts with another Kevorkian quote, and it's decent enough - not quite my favorite track. I guess the idea of the lyrics are basically that no one's any more special than another person, (hence the quote about "is the fecal material in your intestines sacred - Crowley thought it was) and that some of us have been brainwashed to believe that they are over others because they believe in popular dogma. The next song on the album is of course, "Annunaki Illuminati 3:41" and so help me, I thought that after reading the lyrics to this one, it was going to suck. But it didn't and turned out to be one of the highlights on the disc. The electronics used in the vocal filters and the "march" rhythms I get on here are great. Plus there's this part (0:56 - 1:21) in the song that just sounds like it would have been awesome to record the vocals for. I can listen to the tone and will tell you that he hit those notes perfectly. I would've done roundabout the same thing, it even reminded me of some of my own vocal work. The keyboards are also doing some incredible things. This is probably the best song on the disc (apparently the band thinks so too, as they posted it up their FB page to promote the album recently, amidst many posts about shirt designs.) "The Color Of Blood 4:32" is quite good as far as the song goes, but I'm lost as to what in the hell it means, other than a confusing way to say that we're the reason for our downfall. There is this wonderful clean vocal that appears "In the eyes of the betrayer, find the lies layer by layer" and I don't know who that guy is, but hopefully he'll do lead vocals for a band someday, as that's a fucking perfect clean tone and I'd love to hear more of it. If this is the frontman's clean tone - an electronic project with those vocals would have money thrown at it. Finally, we get into "Puppet Deities 5:59" which is basically about cutting the puppet strings on who we see as pseudo-avatars (gods in flesh) and uncovering the truth. The track is violin-laden death metal complete with keyboards - but mostly violins. A lot of violins. If you don't like violins, you probably won't like this track. But I fucking like violins, the original instrument of metal - Wagner's precursor to metal and therefore; I also like this track.

Azure Emote's new album is far better than the last one. Yes, that can be derived from just the first few songs. But there are some odd things on the disc that just don't feel like they belong (or should have even been recorded) like "Sunrise Slaughter" which just doesn't work for anyone. Even as a comedy bit, it's only funny so many times. After that, you just skip it and go into "Conduit." Also "Patholysis" and "Destroyer Of Suffering 3:41" just didn't work for me. Lyrically, it felt like there were too many ideas thrown into one album. But musically, it's roundabout the same as The Monolith Deathcult, The Project Hate, Septic Flesh, Unexpect (but not quite as over the top) and many other acts in that vein who are coining this "Kitchen Sink Metal" style - as in, including everything but the kitchen sink. (But I'm sure there's a guy somewhere who's incorporated even that into his music.)

Hence, I close my almost essay length review of the new Azure Emote. It's definitely worth checking out and I'd give it an 8.5. Like I said, a few tracks that just didn't feel they needed to be in there, but there's definitely some interesting material and subject matter on the disc. Hopefully I've given you all something to think about as well. I've been meaning to do this review for a while, just have been so busy putting the finishing touches on my novel that I haven't had the time.

Highlights: Carpe Diem, Marching Forth, Conduit Of Atrophy, Dissent, The Living Spiral, Obsessive Time Directive, Annunaki Illuminati, Puppet Deities (14 Tracks, 60:00)



Altar Of Plagues - Teethed Glory And Injury (2013) - The new Altar Of Plagues introduces electronic elements to the band, where none had existed before. "Mills 4:08" opens the disc with electronic atmosphere and slight melodic riffing, making it a good introduction piece; but a much different style than we would expect from the band. As "God Alone 4:31" comes in, things get a little more familiar - furious drumming, scathing vocals and a sense of darkness still manage to creep in even though it's very different from what we would have expected. The riffs on the album are very unconventional chugs, almost like a sort of djent black metal with hints of keyboard atmosphere. "A Body Shrouded 4:59" doesn't even sound like black metal, so the "post black metal" genre tag does them justice here. "Burnt Year 4:49" continues this same electronic laden style, that only picks up to introduce drums and the yelling which is more apparent in post black albums. "A Remedy And A Fever 9:00" seems to be a bit slower and reminds me of Godflesh or Jesu in all actuality; there are moments of clean vocal and the track is wholly laden with atmosphere. Some may not even approach this album due to it's fierce use of electronics, and it's vulgar turn away from the black metal of the band's past. There is so much electronic atmosphere on this disc, that it actually overpowers anything that could be considered "extreme" and this is not a disc that you could "bang your head to" in most instances. It's very different for the band and genre as a whole. Believe it or not, a electronic music fan who doesn't even like metal at all might find something here to like; which might be a turn of for those who were expecting another metal album. "Twelve Was Ruin 4:47" is mostly instrumental, but with more guitar influence and vocals near the very end. The disc is oddly sporadic in that fashion and doesn't seem to offer a standardized song structure. "Scald Scar Of Water 7:07" might be one of the only "black metal-ish" tracks on the disc as far as the blasts and vocals are concerned. You can tell that these guys are trying to do their own thing with the genre, but I'm sure that kvltists will be done with them at this point. "Found, Oval And Final 3:27" seems to be more based in the atmosphere, but features plenty of bite. The album ends on "Reflection Pulse Remains 6:29" which is the only damned song on here that gives me the fucking melodies I wanted to hear. There's also some really odd electronic tinkering that comes off as slightly annoying, just this one "sound" that might not sit well with the ears. After that, you get a bunch of sound effects and it ends.

This album, like Agrypnie's Aetas Cineris is very much an atmospheric black metal disc. That being said, it's not my favorite and I'm not quite sure how to score it. Is it good? Is it bad? That's really going to be up to your ears. You might like the large amount of electronic atmospheres thrown in, but I thought it just slowed the disc down. I'd consider myself a fan of electronics and of the (at times shoegaze) melodies on the record; but for some reason it all just didn't work for me here. Call me crazy, but this album style is quite like the material I've been recording as far as vocals go, so maybe there's a sense of "I'd rather hear it done my way" that gets in the way of hearing it done as the Altar frontman has done it. Knowing full well that both styles would sound round-about the same with the exception of growl vocals, which I have sometimes used (but we are talking about two quite different, yet similar musical styles here) in my vocal recordings, I still prefer the work that I do over this.

Additionally, I also think that I just can't feel these electronic atmospheres in extreme metal. There have been several bands that I have given a decent or solid score to because of this. I like my electronics a bit jumpier, not so much in a sense of drone - unless it's in drone or atmospheric music. When a band is giving me these two extremes (dim electronic atmosphere and black metal) at once, I can get carried away from the music completely. It all becomes background noise. The electronics on this disc are so subtle, and then when you mix them with shallow black metal parts (that really are nothing special in retrospect) it just fades all into the background. Most of these songs all seem to sound the same, which is the major problem. It's a good effort, but probably won't be seen as much more. He's angry, I can tell that. But I hope the next album has more black metal, or they should just strip the metal entirely and turn Altar Of Plagues into some sort of dark electronic atmosphere band.

EDIT: Apparently the band felt that the album wasn't very good either, as they have just announced that they are splitting up. Seems right, after hearing this. It just doesn't sound like Altar Of Plagues anymore. But at least they knew when to throw in the towel and work on something fresh.

(9 Tracks, 49:00)



Facebreaker - Dedicated To The Flesh (2013) - If you remember my last review for Facebreaker, you'll know that I gave their last album of foot stomping and head banging death and grime a perfect 10. Because it was just that good. Yet here they are with another release, and it seems that this time lightning wasn't able to strike twice for these guys. Since this isn't anything out of the ordinary, there's no real need to trudge it song by song. It's definitely classic death metal as you know and love it. "Meat Freak 3:40" sets a good tone for the start of the disc, with "Zombie Flesh Cult 4:06" featuring a sing-along chorus, just like the old days. "Mutilator 3:20" is a little slower, but it's sure as hell punishing. I think this is a universal standout track for the album and most will agree. You've got the bludgeoning of "Nuclear Outbreak 3:06" and the much speedier "World Cremation 3:00" which both pull no punches. This album doesn't pull any punches, you know what to expect from the minute you throw it on. The disc closes with "Tomb Of The Hungry Dead 5:03" which has the right amount of dread and some actual threatening (well, somewhat threatening) riffs. The tenth track was taken off the disc and thrown on as some kind of bonus, so "Legions Of Doom 4:12" is actually worth having, showcasing a strong effort from the band and another sing-along chorus. It's actually a really good song that should have been on the original press. Nice solo too. But you know how it goes...

At any rate, there's a few tracks on here that don't really cut the mustard and if I haven't mentioned them, it's because they're so-so or solid. I tried to highlight the good tracks here, but at the end of the day it's going to come down to your ears, not mine. While I didn't like this disc as much as the last one, it's still worth checking out.

Highlights: Meat Freak, Zombie Flesh Cult, Mutilator, Nuclear Outbreak, Legions Of Doom, World Cremation, Tomb Of The Hungry Dead (12 Tracks, 44:00)



Autopsy - The Headless Ritual (2013) - Yeah, don't give me shit for it. This is my first rendezvous with Autopsy and I have to say that I'm really enjoying this punk-influenced death metal. The punk riffs are there, don't deny them. But that's what makes it good. A little punk, a little death metal and some doom? Why, that's a great mix. The vocals are a little comedic at times, but come on - these guys are just trying to make a good album about death, gore and murder in the style of horror films - not the shit that goes on everyday, you know? I mean, you got "Slaughter At Beast House 6:33" which starts out punk and jumps right into doom, brandishing a solo at the same time. Then "Mangled Far Below 3:37" comes in with that great vocal style (I mean, this guy sounds like a punk-monster, it kind of reminds me of David Brockie from GWAR, but with a bit more blood in the throat) and it's essentially the same mix - punk, death doom. Another great solo? Yeah. You guys should get it by now. These guys know what they're doing and have been doing it for longer than some of us have been alive.

"She Is A Funeral 7:32" came next and really stood out to me - I fucking love this one, I've got to admit (listen to those riffs) and the solo that busts out of it is quite nice too. I really wish I had gotten the chance to see these guys live, because this album just doesn't do what the live show would be capable of. This seems like you're taking what's essentially a killer live band and trying to contain all that shit on one disc - like Dying Fetus. Go listen to them live and tell me how good the albums sound afterwards. It's just not the same. Alright, so "Coffin Crawlers 4:32" comes in with a horror intro, thrashy death and some more unsettling melodies as a rock solo comes in. Love the fucking vocals here "They want to eat my eyes!" just the fucking passion in that shit, it works. "When Hammer Meets Bone 5:34" just sounds as gruesome as hell, but it welcomes the punk melodies lowering things down a bit to enter the realms of doom. Was that a cow I heard, or a guitar riff? Doom and bovine influence makes for a great album, I'd have to say. "Thorns and Ashes 1:45" you might think is a little interlude type thing, but it's actually got some gore vocals and relatively interesting riffs. I'll allow it.

"Arch Cadaver 4:22" definitely gets back into the realms of classic death, sounding like that Facebreaker I just reviewed, but nobody can touch this guy's vocals. And another rockin' solo, just because we can. Sucks I'm just now hearing these guys. "Flesh Turns To Dust 3:27" has some unconventional melodies, some interesting shit going on there - again, got to love the vocals here. Thundering doom and somewhat comical, yet somewhat amazing vocals. I could listen to this shit for days. "Running From The Goathead 4:29" really pumps up the drums and features some gravel and a bit of scathing vocal influence. Those are still essentially punk riffs with a bit of a dark tinge to em, but the shit sounds good and at this point I don't give a fuck what kind of riffs they are. This is definitely one of the more "death metal" of the tracks on the album. There's also some interesting melody patterns (are they trying to do prog?) on this track. These guys just throw whatever they want into the mix and it sounds great. So the disc ends with "The Headless Ritual 2:24" which is just an intro to a good horror film that hasn't been made. A definite grindhouse film if I ever saw one. And I have... too damn many, in fact. I'm a fiend for them. At any rate, yeah this thing needs to be licensed and used for some good murder flick. Not Hollywood shit, either. I said grindhouse and I meant it.

So that's that. Autopsy's fucking awesome, to put it blunt. They do whatever the hell they want and make it all sound like nothing else out there. I've heard thousands of pounds of gore and death and doom, but these guys manage to make it their own. No one's got vocals like their frontman - no one. That guy really puts himself into each and every fucking song here. Whether it's funny or just fucking thrilling, it works. I guess that's why these guys have been around for as long as they have. This shit is timeless.

(10 Tracks, 44:00)