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It’s that time of year again, with little fat cherubim shooting heart shaped arrows into the derrieres of ladies and gentlemen ’round the world.  Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air…which means it’s probably a bad month for black and death metal.

Will darkness and hate prevail in the face of all this passion, warmth and goodwill?  Well…to judge by a fair percentage of this month’s offerings, the answer is decisively…no.

But there’s still a few decided gems and hearty recommendations to be found among the dross, so read on…

 

 

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Vanishing Point- Distant Is The Sun (AFM)

Leaning heavily towards melodeath, but infused with symphonic keyboard overtones and fronted by clean vocals.  Interesting, like a gothic/symphonic band with extra teeth, but it’s been done before – hands up, everyone who remembers Echoes of Eternity’s excellent debut The Forgotten Goddess.

Some interesting tidbits: they’re an Australian act whose name isn’t AC/DC and they don’t suck – how many other Aussie bands does THAT apply to?  Hell, how many other Aussie bands can you name in the first place?  Points if you mentioned Rick Springfield…

It’s been 7 years since their last effort, they have an Italian vocalist and technically speaking, none of their original members.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, but some major lineup changes have reaped surprising benefits of late – see Eden’s Curse and Silent Force if you don’t believe me.  But vocalist Silvio Massaro was there from their first album forward, so it’s debatable as to whether he qualifies as “sole surviving original member” or not – your call.

Regardless, guitarists Chris Porcianko and James Maier deliver a nice mix of heavy crunch, harmony lead fills and fretboard grating solo work, with some very polished production courtesy of none other than Orden Ogan’s Seeb Levermann.

It’s melodic, heavy and just impressive enough guitar wise to grab my attention, so I’m happy with this one.  Certainly recommended for those to whom all this sounds interesting enough to investigate.

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Ektomorf- Retribution (AFM)

ugh – aggro.  Here it is in all its screamo, downtuned thunka-thunka neanderthal glory. Really miss Pantera, Pissing Razors, Biohazard, Life of Agony and 10 million soundalike acts like that whose collective output utterly subsumed and destroyed any semblance of listenability at a once-mighty local college based metal station?  Yeah, I’m looking at you, WSOU.

Anyway, if that’s your thing, enjoy. Just take your full body tats and piercings and stay the hell away from me.

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Vornth – S/T (Iron Tyrant)

Wow, they recorded some hungry crows as an opener.

I remember as a teen working construction with my father summers. There was one site where they had a flock of crows nearby.  One of the guys was laughing about how a crow stole his sandwich once over lunch. We all got a good giggle out of that one.  What a ridiculous story.  Who the hell would lose a sandwich to a crow?

All well and good, until it happened to me!  Well, OK, everyone laughed even harder, myself included, though it did mean going a bit hungry for the afternoon…damn thing set down next to me, and before you could blink an eye, grabbed the half I wasn’t eating and flew off with it!  The unmitigated audacity of the damn bird…

Anyway, Vornth. Hands up if you loved Kreator back in the day.  You know, Endless Pain.  Pleasure to Kill.  Flag of Hate.  the Behind the Mirror single.  Terrible Certainty.  Well, OK, that last one may be a bit too polished and musically advanced for Vornth, but you get the idea.  Punishing, fast, sloppy as hell, with Mille Petrozza-like angrily shrieked vocals.  They even go for the switched vocals on certain songs, like the bizarre clean baritone of “rip rip rip”.  Whatever, “Ventor’s” vocals sucked anyway. I’d have ignored that aspect, guys.

Think of these guys as a Pleasure to Kill obsessed variant of Colombia’s awesome Witchtrap, and you get the idea here.  Derivative?  Definitely.  But who cares, when the result is this cool?  Hey, when I was that age, Kreator was the sh*t…Destruction sloppy seconds, and Sodom a joke.  Nowadays, scenesters express reverence towards all three acts, but back in the mid 80’s?  Anyone who tells you different is full of it.

You want “new” mid-80’s Kreator?  Vornth is a good substitute.  Just don’t take your eyes off your sandwich.

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Fuoco Fatuo – The Viper Slithers in the Ashes of What Remains (Iron Tyrant)

More detuned, deep throated death metal.  It’s bad when you can tell the damn bass has been detuned.  Was that really necessary?

Too “speedy” (in relative terms) to qualify as funeral doom but reaching for a similar aesthetic, this is unpolished underground stuff, which can be a plus, but wayyyy too reminiscent of early Abruptum for me – I still feel burned by wasting my money on Obscuritatem Advoco Amplectere Me.  Two talentless clowns get drunk and screw around with a loose stringed guitar.  I did the same thing when I was 17, but we didn’t release it as an album!

Anyway, that’s Abruptum I’m talking about – there’s a little more effort involved here, at least.  I guess the extreme length of the 5 tracks make things feel a bit trancey, and there’s certainly sufficient “dark and evil” tritone inflected gloominess to give some old school atmosphere to the proceedings, particularly on the album’s best track by a mile, “inner isolation in a sea of mist”.  But there’s enough ho-hum to the rest of Fatuous Fire’s material here to leave most listeners nonplussed at best.

If you’re just looking for something to tune out to when you’re all alone some wintry night, The Viper Slithers will certainly fill the bill – in that respect, it’s a reasonably worthy effort.  But don’t expect Morrisound or Sunlight Studios here, and that’s what death metal means to me.  This is something different entirely.  Its relative merits I leave to the listener.

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Neige et Noirceur – Gouffre Onirique et Abîmes Cosmiques (Sepulchral Productions)

Allow me to extend a hearty welcome back to Sepulchral Productions, one of the few underground labels whose releases as a whole from last year have remained in rotation throughout the duration and who mark a welcome return to the fray with this release.

As with other Sepulchral releases such as Sombres Forets, Neige Eternelle, Monarque and Gris, what Neige et Noirceur represents is what appears to be something of a house sound for the label and possibly French-Canadian black metal as a whole: gloomy, atmospheric, trancelike and moody without ever approaching the more mainstream, clean and acoustic approach that might imply from the style’s European forbears.

This is nasty enough stuff, with rasping, snarled vocals, tremelo driven guitars and lo-fi production which, as with the best black metal, achieves its aesthetic through and despite its ostensibly offputting nature. Noise that draws one in, beauty in ugliness, if you will.

If you’re a fan of the tried and true, with the original Norwegian “black circle” that popularized and polarized the genre in the first place and the French Les Legions Noires that continued and maintained the underground feel the original bands all too swiftly abandoned, Sepulchral is without a doubt the label to pay attention to.  I’ve been quite impressed with their output to date, and moreso with the fact that (unlike all too many modern metal acts reviewed here) their releases have continued to grow on me even moreso afterwards.

More propulsive and cognizant of song structure than many of their labelmates more dreamlike approach tend to approximate, “Snow and Darkness” may well be the gateway drug to introduce the curious to what Sepulchral has to offer. Wake up taste, anyone?

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Black Vul Destruktor / Et Verbi Sathanus – Apocalypse Towards Apocalypse – split double-7″ (Blood Harvest)

whoo!  Evil sounding blackened death metal, buried in cavernous echo. Put an empty glass up to the wall outside a live show, and listen through that…you’ll have a fair approximation of the production here with Black Vul Destruktor.  It’s pretty cool in a certain respect, though not really something you want to listen to for long stretches.

The other band…still pretty underground black metal style death metal, but the drumming in particular is sloppy as hell – I decidedly do NOT mean that as a compliment, either.  Not like the band are amazingly talented musicians otherwise, mind.  They’re also trying to go for the Napalm Death Mick Harris vocals half the time.  I get the idea, but what a mess.

If you’re interested, get it for Black Vul Destruktor and you can ignore the B side.

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Ceremonial (Chile) – Ars Magicka 7″ EP (Blood Harvest)

wow, that’s a nice surprise.  Nasty old school blackened thrash in the classic 80’s style.  Mix Goatlord with the early Brazilian style and you’ll have a good idea. Definite thumbs up.

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Heresiarch – Wælwulf 7″ EP  (Iron Bonehead)

Downtuned, lumbering death metal somewhere between early Grave, Unleashed and Baphomet (of The Dead Shall Inherit fame).  Nothing to write home about, but the real deal and worth giving a spin to if the aforementioned sounds like it’s right up your alley.

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Éva Polgár & Sándor Vály – Gilgamesh (Ektro)

Some world music fans spent a little too much time listening to the minimalism of Steve Reich.  Think The Desert Music, but without its power or trancelike nature – this is more goofy and weirdness for its own sake, like hipsters saying “I know, let’s be clever!”

I don’t claim to get their intentions or mindset, and someone is clearly a respectable to rather good classical pianist, but I don’t see any real value to what’s being said here whenever the piano is not the sole audible instrument.

Next time, stick to a classical-modern piano recital, ala Bela Bartok, and leave the bleeps, bloops and saxophone loops in the closet.

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Orcultus – S/T 7″ EP (Forever Plagued Records)

Black metal comic geeks unite!  Who ever thought we’d see a song dedicated to that loser Xmen villain Unus the Untouchable?

Oh, wait, they’re trying to speak Latin.  Whatever.

Well, I was really excited when this one dropped, thinking it was another one from Gorgoroth side project Orcustus (which featured both ‘Infernus’ and ‘Tormentor’), but no such luck.  That one letter off doesn’t really distinguish you that much, guys…

Anyway, you could be forgiven for assuming Orcustus and Orcultus were the same band in a way, not only because of the huge variation in naming aforementioned, but because the music sounds like a very simplistic (think Dark Funeral circa Secrets of the Black Arts simplistic) take on Gorgoroth – all overly distorted tremelo guitars and incomprehensible puked vocals (see Gorgoroth) mixed with machine like repetitive harmonic patterns (see Dark Funeral).

Look, Gorgoroth was a good band early on (and may become one again, now that the weird direction ‘Gaahl’ and ‘King’ were taking them is being explored in their own fair-to-middling band God Seed), but Dark Funeral was total crap, at least on that album, which left me with zero desire to see if they got any better later (I hear otherwise, but who knows or cares).  So where does that leave Orcultus?

They have interesting aspects to their material. I liked the ending to every one of their four songs, and “tribus” is clearly the standout here, being the only song I felt motivated to go back and give another spin to (though again, it’s much stronger in the second half than the more searching first).

But there’s something very much unpolished here implied in that statement.  Why would the song fades be given more effort and attention than what came before?  Usually a song has a great intro or a killer chorus section.  Occasionally the song is great except for the chorus which kills it.  But the songs plod along aimlessly until they get to the denouement?  What the hell kind of songwriting is that?

There’s promise here, to be sure, and we could certainly use another pre-Gaahl Gorgoroth on the scene – we certainly have enough frigging Watain clones!  But in the end it’s a bit hard to recommend except to the black metal diehard.  Hopefully next time they’ll perfect the formula and make everything sound as powerful as their outros do here.

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Kult of Taurus – Divination Labyrinths (Forever Plagued Records)

It should say something that the best part of the album was the opening track, which is spooky ambient music over some Germanically accented mad scientist rambling about the fall of man.  That was kinda neat, would have loved to hear more from this loon.

Unfortunately, what you get is a really noisy take on earlier Watain. The guitars are all over the damn place, presumably in a failed attempt to approximate what Kristian Wahlin was doing in Grotesque (or even Liers in Wait).

It just comes out sounding like I said in the first place, a noisier, more unpleasantly atonal version of Erik Danielson’s little “wolf pack”.  And you know what I feel about all these thousands of Watain disciples. Nuff said.

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Esoterica – Aseity (Forever Plagued Records)

Blastbeat heavy, tremelo guitars, but mixed way down and muffled so that it sounds more death metal than the black metal the aforementioned indicates.

They’re going for a bit of a ghostly vibe, ala Gehenna’s First Spell, but it’s a lot less interesting than that.  I guess “a slave’s ablution” is the best representative of the style they’re reaching for, though “womb” nearly approaches a proper song construction, leaning very much towards gothic rock in that respect.  Mind, I said “approaches” – it’s still the same basic style throughout.

Interesting approach, but I doubt I’ll be dipping into this particular well again.

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Incursus – Adaestuo 12″ MLP (Forever Plagued Records)

More Watainism with a dash of Gaahl-era Gorgoroth.  Might as well make it a religion, there’s enough damn disciples out there!

I’ll say that Incursus may fall more among the few interesting examples of the ever growing cult of soundalikes and Watain zombies, but how many times do I have to say, enough already? zzzzzz….

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Dodsferd – The Parasitic Survival of the Human Race (Moribund)

Sound bites of an African revolt give way to some punk inflected aggro.  Can I point out just how much I hate the screamo vocals? The guitars are playing in a more or less punk style, but too downtuned and metallized for my tastes.  They do a reasonably obscure Misfits cover (“we are 138”).

Not a bad band at core, but do yourselves a favor and lose the screamer.

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Bleeding Fist – Deaths Old Stench (Moribund)

You know, if I didn’t hear the band was actually from Slovenia, I’d be positive these guys hailed from South America, and likely Brazil at that.  There’s something about that intro track that just spelled Coffin Joe to me (that’s Xe Do Caixao for you Brasilienos out there).  The drums have a nicely muted snare sound that keep them from ever getting annoying when the guy does his many fills and rolls.  I did not get the harmonica, though…

The band is very primitive.  Let me repeat that.  VERY primitive.  The earliest albums from Sarcofago, Vulcano and Sepultura were miles ahead of this, with the exception of the drummer, who as mentioned can be quite good when left to his own devices.  Unfortunately, there are long sections where you barely hear drums – not sure if this is a production issue or deliberate in terms of the songs.

But you have to give props to a band with the sense of humor (or is it clueless enough?) to record a song entitled “tweens of darkness and evil”…so THAT explains Bieber, Jackass and the Disney kids…

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Profezia – Oracolo Suicida (Moribund)

Italy has never exactly been a hotbed for metal.  You get Rhapsody, and that guy Vardan, maybe Mortuary Drape.  But that’s about it. What’s left, Theatres des Vampires?  Sheesh…

Anyway, while these guys won’t exactly be setting the charts on fire, they do have an interesting sound that incorporates a string quartet (seriously!) to what is otherwise template second wave black metal.

Not a lot to say about these guys beyond that either way – they’re not bad, but not a must buy either.  I guess if you’re into Mutiilation, Mortuary Drape and Master’s Hammer and looking for something new this month, Profezia should fill the bill, falling somewhere between all three of those acts.

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Anal Blasphemy / Forbidden Eye – The Perverse Worship of Satanic Sins – split CD (NIght in Terrors)

An amusingly filthy film quote opens the unbelievably titled “licking the cunt of chaos”.  If only what followed was half as entertaining..

Despite a really stupid and juvenile name that practically screams “Chris Barnes!!!!”, Anal Blasphemy is actually very underground black metal, could even be an offshoot of Les Legions Noires soundwise (think of the least appealing Vlad Tepes demo and you’ll be in the general ballpark).  Not bad at all, in the end.

Forbidden Eye, whose coolest track goes to the evocatively titled “monastery of satan”, goes for a more early Bathory approach, at least vocally and production wise – you can trace a clear line to the self titled in that respect.  But it’s nowhere near as amazing as that would imply – if you want the first Bathory album redux, hit up the Yellowgoat Sessions, Intoxicated, Maax or Canada’s Chapel instead.

But it’s really quite good, and alongside another at least interesting contender like the ridiculously monikered act who shares the flipside of this release, Perverse Worship is practically a must buy.  And hey, neither band is trying to be Watain…we should be giving handshakes just for THAT at this point!

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Sabbath Assembly – Quaternity (Svart Records)

Ooky spooky female fronted Arabic chanting with pipe organ and (synthesized) bells, which later moves more into Black Tape for a Blue Girl darkwave gothic territory.  Supposedly these are Process hymns, and if you know who that is, you know what you’re getting into here.

Your call – there’s nothing even vaguely “metal” about this, it’s an (ir)religious cult thing.  Personally, if I wanted to get all witchy-poo, I’d rather pull out old Inkubus Sukkubus albums or Kenny & Tzipora tapes than this downside up gobbledygook, but I’m sure there are those among you who are more than happy to see this sort of thing in general release.

“I scorn the weak willed victims of life, burn the chaff of humanity” just sounds like a bunch of Fox News Republicans blathering away to me – not impressed in the least.

If you want to listen to a pseudo-metaphysical speech by Paul Ryan and the Tea Party Congress, here it is.  Whatever.

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March 15 – Our Love Becomes A Funeral Pyre (Svart Records)

Noise. You know, that sort of musique concrete that used to be called “industrial” back in the 80’s, but without the dance beat or propulsive edge?  Here it is again.  Ugh.

They even appropriated the provocative titles – “the love that dare not speak its name”?  “Love under will”?  This stuff was crap the first time around…if you really love Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle and Foetus and don’t mind losing any semblance of song structure or motion, this is your (rotten) meat.  The foetid stench tells me to keep the hell away.

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Messenger – Illusory Blues (Svart Records)

Somewhat folky psychedelia, with an emphasis on the mellow. Not really guitar based, even in an acoustic sense – it’s more ambient electronic, and I’m surprised to see this isn’t an Ektro release in that respect.

I thought it was going for a Donovanesque hippy trippy vibe, but was disappointed to find it doesn’t really go anywhere in the end.  Not my bag.

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VANDEN PLAS – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld (Frontiers Records)

I get the distinct impression these guys were going for a Rhapsody (“of Fire”) vibe, complete with a story about quests, knights, ghosts, vampires and kingdoms to be saved.

All good so far, but Vanden Plas seems to be more inclined to take the approach of leaning all too heavily on traditional classical orchestral instrumentation and far too little on plugged in guitars, bass and drums.

They do plug in quite a bit, but it’s not really enough and doesn’t feel integrated well with the many soft and meditative moments, leaving the album feeling more like a new agey orchestral piece than a band working alongside orchestra.

The vocals don’t really soar, though they are clean, and the music never really lifts the listener to the plateaus one has come to expect in the post-gothic/symphonic metal age.  If this had come out in 1995, it would have been groundbreaking and part of an emergent scene.  In 2014, it’s like a throwback, missing some essential part that would make it the album it’s actually striving to be.

Interesting attempt at shooting for glory, and I salute the spirit that went into it more than the end result.

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HOUSE OF LORDS – Precious Metal (Frontiers Records)

Originally a Greg Giuffria project (remember him from his eponymous band back in the day, or his work on Loudness’ Hurricane Eyes?), in recent years this has been more of an ongoing legacy act, with second vocalist James Christian and fourth guitarist Jimi Bell carrying the torch.

In all honesty, I’d been exposed to the original House of Lords back in the late 80’s and early 90’s and as with much material coming during the fall of metal heralded by the Hollywood tattooed junkie thing in the wake of Guns N’ Roses, was left fairly unimpressed.

Was it terrible?  No, but it wasn’t exactly Lizzy Borden, Hellion, Dokken or Ratt either, occupying a sort of middle of the road approach that was neither as sleazy and Aerosmithized as bands ranging from Law N’ Order and the Sea Hags to Circus O Power or as truly metal as the aforementioned “true” Hollywood metal acts that dominated the better part of the 80’s.

Truth be told, when Nirvana first streeted and it appeared to be heralding a punk revival (as opposed to the mopey alterna-junkie grunge crap it actually did bring in its wake), I greeted them as a much needed breath of fresh air same as everybody else.  Metal was already taken down and castrated by Axl and his stoner pals, and we were all treading water, just waiting for the barbarians at the gate to puff and puff to blow the house down.

So here we are over 25 years on, with a rather different iteration of House of Lords.  How does the band and its basic sound hold up after all these years?

Well, there’s still that crummy Zeppelin-Aerosmith bar band sleaze rock thing poking its unwelcome head in the door here and there, like in the verse riffs of tracks like “permission to die” or “action”, but surprisingly, the smooth choruses and harmonies tend to elevate the band beyond such ugly reminders of bad times agone.

Moreover, I don’t recall much guitar work of note from guys like Lanny Cordola, but James Bell does let it rip on occasion, if sadly limiting his flashier fretboard runs to 4 bars or less (well, he does get to 8 bars sometimes, but you get the idea).  Gee, didn’t George Lynch pretty much break up Dokken over that sort of restriction?  Let the guy loose a little more, huh?

There’s also some of that cheesy Extreme-style balladeering (remember all that crap, with everyone from Firehouse to Trixter punctuating albums filled with female-pleasing sappiness with actual rockers rather than the other way around?) on tracks like the title cut and “enemy mine”, but at least these excesses are kept to a relative dull roar, with a more midtempo rock approach predominating throughout.

Bottom line, if you don’t have as profound a distaste for that sort of goofy downtuned single note riffing that marked the final days of 80’s metal, you should absolutely love this album.

In all honesty, I found that the good parts (generally residing in the smooth, well harmonized and constructed choruses and Bell’s flashy solo work) more than offset the parts that pissed me off, so that should say a lot right there.  If only they could lose that early 90’s glam-grunge stuff and stick to the melodic 80’s sound they’re so good at, we’d have a definite winner here.  Guardedly recommended.

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W.E.T. – One Live – In Stockholm (Frontiers Records)

Don’t you just love it when you discover a killer band that you never heard of or knew existed?

This is a Jeff Scott Soto led project (yep, another Yngwie alumni, whose soaring tones graced the man’s earliest and best albums Rising Force and Marching Out).  I believe it’s supposed to be a ‘supergroup’, though I’m unfamiliar with any of the bands the members hail from, and they released two albums in 2009 and 2013.

Anyway, this is a 2 disc live record with DVD (making it a 3 disc set en toto) that draws from their two prior albums and tags in a few songs from their other acts as well to round out the set.  While the middle of disc 1 gets a bit weak (everything from “love heals” to “bad boy”), it starts and ends on some very strong notes (“walk away”, “invincible”, “learn to live again”, “I’ll be there” and “I’ll be waiting” show the band at their best).

Disc 2 starts off with a move into softer AOR territory, with only “the great fall”, “what you want”, “one love” and arguably “mysterious” remaining in a more metallized vein.  Bonus track “Poison” isn’t bad for a midtempo power ballad, but it’s definitely not in the same league as the aforementioned strong points the band is capable of achieving.

Soto comes with a throatier tone these days, but he can still hit those high notes with elan.  There’s something about his vocals that brings to mind old school Christian rocker/metallers Rob Rock and Ken Tamplin, and Soto has in fact been involved in that arena in the past, working alongside Tamplin and Stryper.  Must be a particular sound they strive for…

Overall, a good choice for newbies to dive into, with an equal sampling from both of the band’s studio albums plus a few extra incentives to sweeten the deal.

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THE UNGUIDED – Fragile Immortality (Napalm Records)

oy. While there’s a strong metal basis to The Unguided’s overall sound, in the end result, they ascribe more to an emo cum screamo vibe.  What that means is that, as usual for the style, I appreciate the darkness and musicality of the band and approach, but seriously?  Can’t you stick to the clean vox (which are just fine, mind)?

I loved the Howard Jones-led Killswitch Engage, but it was because the screamo shit was kept to a respective minimum, with Jones’ booming, heartfelt baritone predominating.  In terms of The Unguided, there’s a very good band and songwriting to be found beneath those stupid ‘vocals’, but when the screaming takes over, I tune the fuck out.

You’d think they’d have more taste, given their sound otherwise.  Next album…

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VAN CANTO – Dawn of the Brave (Napalm Records)

And so we come to another album from Teutonic metal’s great novelty act Van Canto.  For those who don’t know, they take the Manhattan Transfer / Bobby McFerrin / Rockapella approach and apply it to metal.  There’s a drummer, but all other “instruments” are vocals, presumably double and triple tracked in studio, but even so.

What makes these guys (and gal) interesting is that it actually works if you don’t know what you’re listening to – a casual listen, particularly if you’re not prone to paying attention to your music, might leave you thinking they were just into Piero Umiliani (it’s hard to miss all that bub-ba-dum-bumming going on).  But listen a little closer, and recognize that the guitar, bass and keyboard you were hearing just ain’t there – it’s totally a capella other than the drums.  Pretty neat, huh?

But that said…once you know what’s going on, showed it to your disbelieving pals and had a good laugh over the sheer weirdness of it all, is this the sort of thing the average listener is likely to pull out time and again?

Bottom line: fascinating that they can do this. But you have to ask at some point, why are they bothering?  While certainly impressive in the sense of human accomplishment (see, the human voice really is the most versatile of instruments), Van Canto proves little more than a really cool novelty act, in the end.  Emphasize the really cool part, if you will – you have my blessing to quote me on that. But when it comes down to brass tacks, the bottom line remains unchanged.

Take a listen and decide for yourselves, you may really like it.

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APOKALYPTIC RAIDS – Only Death is Real… (LP reissue) (Hells Headbangers)

oh my God, were they serious about this production?

The drums are very in your face, which means you can hear just how poorly they’re being played (check out that floppy footed double bass, intermittent cymbal work that falls out of meter on occassion and those hesitant tom rolls). The guitars sound like they’re trapped in a cheap mono speaker, which results in a mids-heavy early Celtic Frost roar with all the force and authority sucked through a hollow tube.  The vocals are buried furthest back, entombed beneath a ridiculous tonnage of slap echo.

And yet…it works.  Yeah, Celtic Frost was my favorite underground thrash band back in the day (yes, kiddies, they did call it “thrash” in those days), and I love all those Hellhammer reissues, the Coroner demo with Tom G. Warrior (which might as well be another Frost release) and even adore their faithful clones Warhammer and post-Transilvanian Hunger Darkthrone (ahem).  So you know that even an atrociously recorded, poorly-drummed take on Fischer’s favorite sons is going to fly with me.  Case in point.

So here’s the scoop.  Are you as big of a Frost or Hellhammer fan as I’ve been since the mid-80’s?  If so, don’t walk, run to get this one, you’ll adore it.  If not, mind my opening paragraph about the production and that drumming from one Pedro “Skullkrusher” Rocha before indulging.

Personally, I’ll admit this: his kit work is so abominably and unutterably childish that I find it somewhat endearing.  And hey, give the guys credit for sheer chutzpah: it’s amazing they had the balls to put this guy on record, much less mix him to the front!

Very divided grade here – depending on where you stand and what you’re basing your review on, this will either be manna from hell or hilariously inept dogshit.  My take? It’s both.  I loved it…just don’t mind me laughing at it very, very hard.