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And now we come to the third and final part of our Spring roundup of new material.  This one is sort of a catch all for everything that doesn’t fall under the usual death metal/black metal/blackened thrash axis.  Hell, we even threw in one traditional metal reunion album just for the fun of it.

So without further ado, I present for your eager eyes…

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Circle – Six Day Run

Created to accompany a documentary of a literal footrace, this features an appropriate 6 instrumental tracks (one for each day).

But what a strange experience it is – crossing the borders of rock, trance house, dubstep and other substance-abuse related late night club styles, Six Day Run features a fairly standard rock combo (guitar, bass, drums, keyboard), but taking things far afield of anywhere the listener might expect.

Sticking mainly to major key, uptempo riffs which wouldn’t feel out of place in a “proper” standard pop-rock song, Circle transforms these song fragments through Steve Reich-style minimalist repetition.  With drums holding a steady tempo, and guitar riffs looping over and over, the keyboards and bass are set loose to carry things off in unexpected and unusual directions.

But this isn’t a static, Primus-style inversion of the usual rock tropes where those instruments which normally hold down the beat are given the forefront, and vice versa – this is more akin to reaching backwards to such “Krautrock” acts as Can and Kraftwerk, with a disorienting, dissociative simultaneity of motion and static immobility.  The mind races, the limbs remain still.  Clearly these guys have done a LOT of tripping in their time.

Head music for a modern age – quite recommended for the adventurous.   Get it from Ektro records.

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speaking of which, we have Finland’s E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, who are clearly trying to be Tangerine Dream, but with a dash of occasional Santanaesque guitar thrown in for good measure.  Really nothing to add here, if you like the style, you’ll be happy with this one.

If not, just think fairly generic space music – trippy, ambient, with vocorder vox and droning keyboards.  Serves its purpose if you’re looking for something to trance out to.  Kometenbahn (Comet trails) comes to you from Svart records.

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Hebosagil – Lahto

A sort of Biohazard meets death metal, ultimately coming off as a more aggro take on something like Pantera or Fear Factory.  The music is familiar and doesn’t stray very far from the general sound they seem to be aiming to achieve, but the vocals are quite strange, consisting solely of a pinched-voice shouting.

Not punk style chanted shouts, mind you, nor New York hardcore meets Phil Anselmo scream/croaking, but straight up yelling, like a rowdy drunk in the front row at your favorite concert yelling along to the lyrics of every damn song.  He thinks he’s Caruso if not Pavarotti, but everyone surrounding is at best bemused by his efforts and starting to get a bit annoyed.

Now you know what to expect…so you pays your money, you takes your chances.

Hebosagil comes to you from Ektro records.

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The Kolmas – Kolmas Testi

Talk about strange.  This is practically an ohm sound test from the late 60’s.  Somewhere between (very) early Kraftwerk and the Forbidden Planet soundtrack and obviously paying some measure of homage to Tangerine Dream in the process, this is barely classifiable as music per se – more of a random electronic sound experiment test lab.

Totally retro, totally bizarre.  I could have done with some music to drive the proceedings along and retain interest, but there are folks who eat this stuff up. So if it sounds right up your alley, it probably is.  Comes to you from Ektro records.

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Lacrimas Profundere – Antiadore

If Within Temptation were still the grandiose symphonic act they were around the time of Mother Earth or even the Silent Force era and had a male vocalist with an equal thing for David Sylvain of Japan and Ville Valo of H-I-M, they’d be putting out a record that sounded a hell of a lot like Antiadore.

Instantly familiar, instantly catchy and likeable, until the emo-screaming kicks in every once in a while.  When Rob Vitacca is intoning in his deep baritone singing voice, it’s very gothic, bringing to mind anything from the hundreds of Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus types in the gothic rock world to the late Peter Steele with Type O Negative.

Too bad the band was a bit too modern for its own good – without the screamo flourishes now and again, this would come quite recommended.  That said, I’m not sure if it will have legs to carry it through repeat listens – it’s a bit overlong and samey and while definite ear candy of its type, it may not bear up as well 6 months or more down the road (a typical curse of the instantly catchy).

As it is, it’s pretty damn good – I’d just advise the band to stop trying to pull  Hawthorne Heights or My Chemical Romance into the mix and stick to the gothic-symphonic metal meets H-I-M by way of Tin Drum thing, it works much better for you.  This one comes to you from Napalm records.

Riitaoja Mantereelle

Riitaoja – Manterelle

Weird mellow folk music from Finland.  There’s a female vocalist who reminds me of a cross between Tracy “fast car” Chapman and Me’shell N’degeOcello, with maybe a dash of Joni Mitchell for good measure.  The male vocalist who does alternate tracks brings it more into Tom Petty meets past his prime Bob Dylan territory.

Seriously.

Like the style or not, how far from metal can you get?  Those looking for the Euro version of a Phish concert or suchlike can thank Svart records for putting this one out.

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The Senseless – the Floating World

umm…British football stadium cheers over Suffocation-style brutal-tech metal, eventually fading before a vocalist who switches between sing/shouting in a more or less clean grunge style, credibly throaty death metal grunts and Phil Anselmo screaming.  Can you say weird?  Well, this is definitely one for fans of nu-school metal to rate amongst themselves – for my part, I didn’t get it at all.

There’s sections that call stoner metal ala Kyuss or Fu Manchu to mind.  There’s a ridiculously fast, likely computer-generated double bass flourish ala Atari Teenage Riot a few seconds later…then there’s handclaps, like we’re listening to good-time 70’s “classic rock” party music!  And for an ostensibly metal (or at least “metalcore” or “aggro”)-oriented band to put out a song titled “death to metal”…yeah.  This gives new meaning to the acronym WTF…

This…really strange record comes as an independent UK based self release.  Like I said, WAY outside my turf (LOL…but seriously!), so you judge for yourselves.

Slussenanalys - Aquila Helvetos Asfaltos (hi-res)_EDIT
Slussenanalys – Aquila Helvetos Asfaltos

Another off kilter Finnish punk band, with mocking, sarcastic-goofy vocals falling somewhere between Jello Biafra and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo if not Frank Zappa, and managing to come off even more tongue in cheek (not to mention weird) than all of them.  The music’s good, and the whole thing is somewhat of a throwback to the dawn of the 80’s, where New Wave just meant punk with a haircut and a little less flipping off the crowd.

Very strange, but I liked it – the band that kept coming to mind here was Japan’s Plastics.  “Fuck off, Mr. Diamond Head!”

Those jonesing for a raucous return to the heyday of CBGBs can thank Ektro records for this one.

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V.H.K. (Galloping Coroners) – Bite the Stars

umm…the first song opens with what sounds like Norville “Shaggy” Rogers quivering with fear, before people start chanting American Indian style and other guys make weird noises with their lips (like little kids pretending to be a car or something).  Semi-acoustic guitars plink away and a guy makes shivering sounds and there’s some of that throat singing Tibetan Buddhist monk chanting.  Yeah, it’s more WTF territory…

This really reminds me of an early Exuma record, which I guess could be a good thing for those expecting to hear a folk-based voodoo ritual of sorts (Dr. John The Night Tripper would be the closest “mainstream” example I could offer to what’s going on here).  But you certainly wouldn’t be thinking in that direction with a metal moniker involving coroners, so this is just another weird head trip from the folks at Ektro records…

Things start to turn a bit more “normal” as the album progresses, but it’s still somewhere between Southern Death Cult, Ghost Dance or Skeletal Family and The Residents with Sting on occasional vocals, so don’t expect to be playing this in front of your girlfriend (or for that matter, just about anyone) without them wondering if you need to get your head examined.

This is some seriously strange shit, man.  I kind of like it.

Recommended for the adventurous.

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Fejd – Nagelfar

A cross between Arkona and Tyr, but without the heaviness of either.  Swedish pagan folk metal without the metal, if you prefer.

The openings of ‘ulvsgald’ and the title track, both of which come across like a desert sands version of Enya, are the highlights – once the songs kick in (and mind you, this is primarily an acoustic concern with drums), it falls somewhat flat to my ears.  Hell, ‘den skimrande’ practically sounds like the Celtic Women or Cherish the Ladies got together with Beausoleil – which pushes this way, way outside my personal comfort zone.

You can decide for yourself whether this speaks to you or not, courtesy of Napalm records.

Witch Cross - Axe to Grind - www.witchcross.dk
Witch Cross – Axe to Grind

A long overdue comeback album from a Danish act known for their lone mid-80’s album Fit for Fight and a truckload of demos.  They’re pretty straightforward traditional metal with a dash of NWOBHM and clean vocals somewhat reminiscent of Biff Byford and Saxon.

It’s competent and pretty damn good for a bunch of guys who probably haven’t jammed together for 25 or 30 years, but it’s so typical of the style and ultimately mainstream that it could come off a bit dull to sensibilities geared towards the more colorful and evocative sounds of the underground.

Ultimately, this is the deal: don’t expect a revelation ala discovering a hitherto unknown act from back in the day like Heavy Load or a truly surprising killer comeback like Satan’s Life Sentence, but seriously, this ain’t bad for the type.

Fans of reasonably anthemic old school metal falling somewhere between Saxon and U.D.O. should be happy, and “Pandora’s Box” and the instrumental “Axe to Grind” are both quite impressive and memorable, with “Lost Without Warning” acquitting itself rather well also.  This one comes to you from Hell’s Headbangers records.

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