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Well, with some unexpected baggage shed of late (the lead quote of the final review on that end should spell it all out for ya), we’ve had a bit more time to dig in on the music and film end of the equation.

As such, despite a fairly full roster of releases on the monthly roundup review cycle, we’ve been able to get this month’s batch of worthies covered and up and running a week earlier than usual.

So let’s turn life’s lemons into lemonade, and all that feel good/keep on truckin’ positivity in the face of bullsh*t business everyone tells you, and jump right into it, shall we?

Prepare yourself for some surprisingly well crafted AOR and melodic metal, power, symphonic, gothic, thrash, Viking, doom, stoner, postpunk, EDM and even a few admittedly questionable black metal efforts (a genre that’s seen better months and in fact better days).

So without any further ado, we present the May Roundup for your perusal and delectation…

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DRIVE, SHE SAID – Pedal to the Metal (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) (April 15)

Michael Bolton keyboardist/songwriter Mark Mangold joins forces with Frontiers jack of all trades Alessandro Del Vecchio for this project, which features vocals by regular Mangold partner Al Fritsch.

As you might expect from Mangold’s pedigree, some of the material borders on 80’s hard rock/melodic metal-style AOR in the vein of, say, Autograph, Black N’ Blue or Y&T (check out Bolton’s mid-80’s, pre-MOR fame albums for stylistic parallels).

“Touch” kicks things off on the right note, complete with flashy guitar solo, and there’s plenty of retro keyboard and guitar driven melodic rock that should bring everything from Cher or Heart’s self titled albums of the period to stuff like Bon Jovi or Giuffria to mind.

As ever with Frontiers, the focus is on positive toned, anthemic, feel good music with a decidedly retro flair. If you’re missing driving with the top down shoreside and real life analogues to summer beach films of the era ala Hardbodies (which themselves tended to feature soundtracks filled with similar material!), Drive, She Said should take you right back to a more hopeful, dayglo era.

While a percentage of the album’s tracks do run a bit soft (“said it all”, “rainbows and hurricanes”, “in your arms”, “all I want to do”), the better part of Pedal to the Metal holds true to its title, sticking to a relatively high energy, uptempo approach filled with all the elements that made music of this sort the soundtrack to a much beloved decade.

Not bad, not bad at’all.

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SHIRAZ LANE – For Crying Out Loud (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) (April 15)

On the more specifically Hollywood glam/post GNR hard rock cum metal end of the spectrum comes Finland’s Shiraz Lane, who merge a sort of Dangerous Toys-era Jason McMaster by way of Jim Gillette, Marc Slaughter or for that matter, Jackie Slaughter high n’ squeaky vocal with a Junkyard meets Hericane Alice by way of Roxy Blue guitar-driven sound.

You could even argue Shiraz Lane is working a more aggressive take on Trixter, Firehouse or Danger Danger (I mean, come on, the guitarist even calls himself Jani La(i)ne!), but the grit and slightly funky bounce of, say, XYZ or Lynch Mob plays into the sound as well.

While the energy does peter off a bit in the second half of the album, it’s still the sort of thing that’s sure to play well with the Sleaze Roxx crowd as a given, and should appeal to fans of most of the aforementioned as well. So long as you’re in a retro state of mind and missing the tail end of the 80’s, this should certainly resonate, not to mention rock your socks off.

If venues like Gazzari’s and the Whisky were still up and running with the vigor and cultural resonance they were back in the heyday of the Sunset Strip, Shiraz Lane would be a shoo-in for house band.

Pull the cans of hairspray and leather pants out of the mothballs, because it’s 1988-89 all over again.

To say this was fairly killer would be underselling it.

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TREAT – Ghost of Graceland (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) (April 15)

A Swedish hard rock/melodic metal act from the 80’s makes its (second) comeback.

After dropping no less than five albums between ’85 and ’92, these folks hung up their guitars and moved on (like all too many of us in the wake of the depressive, anti-good times and oddly mocking grunge, alternative and eventual aggro movements which all but destroyed the global musical landscape for over a decade). There was a comeback album in 2010, but again, nothing for a staggering six year hiatus.

So here we are in 2016, and The Boys are back (cough – look it up). So how does their latest hold up?

Well, pretty good, all told. This is a fairly light melodic AOR effort overall, with multitracked, anthemic choruses that bring later efforts from veteran acts like Journey or Foreigner to mind.

Anders Wikstrom’s guitars are reasonably distorted and crunchy and the production’s fairly crisp (despite some digital hiss and signal bleed on the busier sections – possibly due to too many vocal tracks?), and Robert Ernlund’s vocals are smooth and melodic throughout, to the point where this may actually leave Treat sounding like a softer, more AOR than hard rock/melodic metal oriented act than they probably intended.

Even so, there’s nothing here that won’t appeal to fans of this general style, and as ever with Frontiers signings, this is a highly professional, likeable concoction with tightly structured, well-constructed songcraft that both tickles the ear and goes down smooth and easy.

I dug it well enough.

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THE DEFIANTS (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) (April 15)

Didn’t we just mention Danger Danger?

Well, surprise, surprise, because this is a new project featuring Danger Danger veteran Bruno Ravel alongside that band’s later recruits Paul Laine (debut: 1995) and Rob Marcello (debut: 2005).

If you’re not expecting, say, “naughty naughty”, this may actually be a stronger affair than that band in its heyday, tapping Laine’s more muscular tenor and a beefier guitar sound that references contemporaries like Trixter and Lynch Mob (on the rhythm end, anyway – “last kiss” aside, don’t expect flashy leads here) alongside some strong, vaguely Bon Joviesque song construction.

Big choruses, some seriously sweet vocals (check out the multitracked chorus for “runaway”…absolutely heavenly!), busy guitars with plenty of fills and occasional melodic leads, and excellent production.

What’s not to love?

Even if (like myself, I must confess) you laughed at lighter late period melodic metal acts like Danger Danger and Firehouse back in the day, if you’re a veteran of the era or just have an appreciation for same, you seriously owe it to yourself to give this one a spin.

Good stuff, and more aggressive than their lineage might suggest.

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ECLIPSE – Armageddonize Deluxe Edition (Frontiers Music s.r.l.) (March 18)

Frontiers regular performer/producer Erik Martensson’s (W.E.T., Adrenaline
Rush, etc.) main gig.

Their 6th album from last January, previously reviewed here, returns in a special edition, complete with an 11 song live performance, 3 acoustic versions of album cuts and a pair of new bonus tracks, one of which “come hell or high water” is surprisingly aggressive for all its melodic orientation, and the second of which (“into the fire”) sounds quite mid-80s Dokken if not Ratt. You know I loved ’em.

I’m no fan of the double dip, but suffice to say, fans will probably want to
look into this one, and if you haven’t already indulged, you know exactly what
to do.

Damn good stuff.

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Orden Ogan – The Book Of Ogan (AFM Records) (April 29)

This apparently comes as a set including a 2 DVD concert, 40 page booklet,
documentary and videos, but all we’re reviewing here are the (2 CD) audio
portion.

Disc 1 consists of favorite tracks from four of their five albums, including
the pre-AFM release Vale and their AFM trilogy of Easton Hope, To The End
(LINK) and Ravenhead.

Disc 2 is a reissue of their self-released debut album Testimonium A.D., which
the band claims as a sort of “demo” (which is kind of unbelievable if you hear
it – the quality of production and performance is quite impressive).

This was apparently motivated by the band noticing some serious price gouging on the reseller market (something that’s becoming more of an obnoxious regularity of late, across all sorts of media) – so hats off to bandleader Seeb Levermann and company for thinking of the fans here.

Fans know exactly what to expect here, but for those new to the band, Orden
Ogan works a uniquely bombastic, lush and symphonic take on power metal much akin to Styx crossed with Edenbridge by way of Epica, but with a touch of Helloween to round out the mix.

They’re very melodic, with a noticeable command of song construction, huge
vocal choruses and competent playing guided by (on their best material,
anyway) a nigh-emo/metalcore melodic lead line on the guitars throughout.
Vocals are clean (that in itself not all that common in power metal), and
while keyboards are present and part of the overall, extremely lush mix, they
never overpower things or leave it feeling “symphonic” in the cheesy sense.

I mean, it’s power metal, so it’s gonna be cheesy, but you know what
I’m saying here. There’s enough drama and bombast to take ’em seriously if
you wanna…

I spoke with Seeb a few years back, actually from a friend’s house during a
long cold blackout, and yet recall having a pleasant enough, positive toned
chat with the man.

How much more positive that chat would have been today, with a broader
experience of both this band and genre. And this is solely based on the 2
disc audio.

With the entire package? I can only imagine fans of this band and style would
have to be abject fools to pass this one up.

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Flotsam And Jetsam – S/T (AFM Records) (May 20)

I’ve always been a huge fan of the original iteration of Flotsam & Jetsam.
Even during a long stretch where ostensible metalheads took to mocking
Doomsday for the Deciever in print over the lyrics or the cover or whatever
ridiculous excuse they could dig up to diss it, I always defended and
continued to play it, pointing out that it was and remains the best work (by a
long shot) of bass player/songwriter Jason Newsted.

While the band continued on (after the pointedly absurd poaching of Newsted by a faltering (yet conversely increasingly popular with a non-metal audience) Metallica, who claimed they wanted a bass player who was also a good songwriter…then proceeded to never use him in that regard) with Mike Spencer from the also quite notable Sentinel Beast, No Place for Disgrace just felt off.  Great cover, but not the same band at all.

Apparently (and under the radar to most of us here in the States), the band
soldiered on through a litany of band members and changing musical trends,
until we come to this new self titled. Eric A.K. is back, as is Sentinel
Beast’s Mike Spencer and one half of the original guitar team, Mike Gilbert.

Sounds like a winner so far…

That noted, it’s been a lot of years since 1986. Eric’s voice no longer soars
like it once did, now more akin to the sort of raspily overscreamed thing
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth has been working for the last few decades. Hey, none
of us are getting any younger, so slack is deservedly being cut here. It’s
respectable enough, and he definitely tries to hit those higher range notes
(again, much akin to Ellsworth).

The band keeps it sufficiently aggro, while never tripping the line into
“overly modern” ala Onslaught – there’s enough of the old school Bay
Area…well, OK, Tempe area thrash sound and feel here to be wholly
recognizable to fellow lifers. Still a bit too polished and ProTools if not
triggered for my tastes, but the solos are still quite good, the drumming is
reasonably retro oriented and Eric A.K.’s vox and Gilbert’s galloping riffs
definitely manage to hold the whole thing together.

It’s hardly another Doomsday for the Deciever, or even another No Place for
Disgrace.

But come on, it’s fucking 2016. Were you really expecting that after 30
years?

Raise a fist in salute to the veterans, and a more than respectable nod to
their glory days.

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Iron Savior – Titancraft (AFM Records) (May 20)

Typically strong offering from the likeable Piet Sielck and company.

As a former bandmate of Helloween‘s Kai Hansen and Blind Guardian’s Thomen Stauch, you get the idea of what to expect: highly melodic, well crafted power metal with a strongly traditionalist bent and hummable, well structured leads and solos over a straightforwardly speedy, chugging guitar/typewriter drum base.

While most power metal tends to sound a bit samey, Iron Savior avoids many of the expected cliches with a complete absence of growly vocals, symphonic keyboard bits and fantasy themes lyrically. Instead, Sielck offers a comparatively clean vocal approach, sticking to a band-only zeitgeist and a Perry Rhodan-inspired science fiction conceit, with only Acceptlike gang choruses bolstering their otherwise highly traditional old school Teutonic power/speed metal sound.

Fans of Iron Savior, Helloween and Accept should feel right at home here, and Sielck’s notable bonhomie does translate to his band and material – you can just kick back and soak in the unexpectedly good vibes on every release.

I like this guy a lot, and his band hasn’t let me down to date – see prior reviews for Megalopolis 2.0, Live at the Final Frontier and of course Rise of the Hero if you need further evidence.

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Suidakra – Realms Of Odoric (AFM Records) (May 20)

Highly bombastic, almost cinematic power metal with occasional Rhapsody (of Fire)esque medieval fantasy/ren faire folk touches.

The band considers themselves to be some variant of melodeath, but that’s nowhere in evidence: even the (occasional) growl vox feel more akin to Pagan/Viking metal than any form of death metal per se, and there’s so much clean, multitracked/gang chorus singing, crystalline production and jaunty folkiness to their sound, it’s hard to believe anyone would even attempt to associate them with the likes of, say, At the Gates or Carcass, much less more “true” death metal bands like early Death, Deicide, Obituary or Morbid Angel – the gap between the sounds is so geologically vast, the associations so patently spurious, that it’s just silly to even try to (mis)label them as such.

It’s fairly typical for symphonic power metal…or for that matter, the more
dramatic of folk-influenced Pagan/Viking acts, and is quite listenable for the
type.

Personally, I find myself fairly detached from these sort of bands, and speak more from an intellectual appreciation of their musical merits than any real affection thereto (a few standout acts like Leaves Eyes, Primordial and Manegarm aside), so it’s always tough to give a balanced yet honest review – with (appreciative) mind opposing (disinterested if not bored) heart, facts and feelings can’t help but war with each other somewhat.

Just know that I appreciate the band’s skills and the highly listenable, melodic
bombast on display here, and that those more emotionally attached to power, pagan or Viking metal should find more than enough to dig into here.

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WHITE MILES – The Duel (Long Branch Records) (April 15)  

OK, take a look at those quirky, sorta hipster, sorta punk photos.  Kinda like a grunge version of Roxette, right?

Is it any surprise they’re straight outta Austria?

Yep, the home of such amusingly likeable but off kilter acts as Kontrust and Serenity drops another unusual band on us, this time a duo who look kinda like Wendy O and an unshaven Krist Novoselic, but actually play a sort of minimalist, distortion pedal jacked take on Southern blues.

Promo materials mention something about this working for pole dancers, and yeah, I could see a biker bar stripper grinding to stuff like “insane to the bone”.

Nothing to get overly excited about, but likeable enough in its sheer strangeness.

If Crossroads were remade this year, they’d probably put White Miles on the soundtrack in place of Ry Cooder.

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Vetten Äpärät – Syntyi Talven Kyynelistä (Inverse Records) (April 1)

After a weird spoken word/symphonic intro, we jump headfirst into a sort of
sped up, thrashed out variant of the sort of humppa/pagan folk mix bands like
Finntroll and Trollfest are known for.

Every few tracks, the band dials it back down to a more ren faire sort of
thing, all placid acoustics and chanted vocals, but this is only to set you up
for the next track of high speed aggro cum jig pit insanity.

Nothing whatsoever wrong with this band or approach, it’s well produced and
the band is tight…but guess what’s missing.

Now think. When you start talking “troll metal”, jig pits and pagan folk,
what’s one of the first things you think of?

That’s right: the sense of drunken fun. You know you’re going there to party
with a likeminded group of rowdies.

And while you’d be hard pressed to describe Vetten Aparat as “serious minded” or “grim”, this is a far more po faced power/speed metal gone pagan than any celebration of beer and goofiness as the aforementioned acts (and likeminded pagan acts such as Turisas) are noted for.

Not bad on a strictly sonic and quality of musicianship level…just a bit
boring and stone faced compared to the sort of hard to dislike fun and frolics
they could just as easily have gone for.

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The Hypothesis – Origin (Inverse Records) (May 5)

er…

Heavy, prominent keyboard use and weird pop-industrial electronic bits over
crunching modern metal guitars and power metal-style typewriter drums.  The vocals are all silly aggro-puke bullshit, punctuated by clean sung chorus bits ala metalcore or emo. Then they throw in some nice, well constructed guitar solos that fall somewhere between power metal and prog!

Say what?!?

Sooo…OK.

Look, it’s obvious the band can play in a purely technical sense. The solos were the real proof in the pudding here, as the rest of the guitar/drum thing was pretty generic and straightforward chugga chugga chugga E string crap, occasionally devolving into slow blastbeats between all the typewriter triggered d-bass. But that’s about as far as the positives go.

The vocals – at least the puke ones – are typically ridiculous if not laughable,
I’ll never understand the appeal to fellow metal fans (the appeal to would be
“vocalists” is obvious – not everybody can sing, even less can sing well…but
everyone can belch and vomit!).

And while the whole affair is pretty well produced in the modern, punched in
ProTools sense, those keyboard and electronic bits are pretty damn superfluous and quite distracting. Worse, despite some obvious leanings towards melody over dissonance (in itself a precious commodity in today’s increasingly atonal, amelodic scene)…the songs just go no fucking where.

When it comes down to it, all that’s saving The Hypothesis from being rejected by scientific investigation are the surprisingly good guitar solos (which really are impressive, catchy and well phrased, it must be emphasized). I’m duly impressed by those.

Take whoever’s responsible for the solos and have them drop onto better bands’ albums, James Murphy at Morrisound style.

You can take the rest and shove it.

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Subliminal Fear – Escape From Leviathan (Inverse Records) (May 13)

Heavily electronic-suffused melodic metal in the modern, detuned, vaguely nu-metal vein.

The biggest thing these guys have going for them (besides being paisano – saluti!) is Matteo De Bellis’ clean light tenor vocals, which (when not doing a silly Alex Krull in Leaves Eyes death puke thing on portions of the verse) are the sort of airy thing effete mainstream music publications would likely describe as “flowing and angelic” (insert hearty laugh here).

While far higher toned than I tend to gravitate towards, his (clean) vox are quite easy on the ear and elevate the otherwise template modern metal cum radio pop material to a somewhat higher plane than otherwise merited.

There are some near-symphonic bits with the keyboard (“evilution”), but a whole lot more of the sort of sound Theatre of Tragedy was approaching in the
Musique/Assembly era, or perhaps even stuff like In This Moment, Lacuna Coil or (to a lesser degree) Sonya Scarlet era Theatres des Vampires – chunky, detuned and fairly simplistic guitar riffing covered by radio ready vox and slathered over in weird electronic/keyboard programmed/studio-generated noise effects.

Now, I like all the bands mentioned above (well, perhaps excepting the listenable if unspectacular Lacuna Coil and the cheesy and sadly current Atlantic era of In This Moment – and what the fuck happened there, anyway?), so this isn’t exactly a putdown, and I certainly found this listenable enough.

But did this excite me in any respect?

Not in the least.

Probably will appeal to fans of the aforementioned, early Evanescence and suchlike.

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Peekaboo Primate – Misanthropical (Inverse Records) (May 12)

Hipster nu metal somewhere between Ill Nino, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit, but with a really weird sense of humor and more melody than you’d expect.

I actually got a kick out of the strange, nigh-Canadian sense of the skewed and absurd in everyday life (“spray tan”), and they actually dragged current Battle Beast frontwoman Noora Louhimo in for some unexpectedly “barbie girl”-like, Aqua-squeaky guest vocals on “heroine” (!)

The music is exactly what you’d expect: detuned neanderthal riffs with a groove bounce and sprechtgesang/rap vocals from comic frontman Lauri Lepokorpi, covered in those weird electronic touches and dissonant open chord distorted bits you’d get with stuff like Kid Rock or Korn. There’s even some atonal guitar leads (shades of Primus-era Larry LaLonde!) from Matti Auerkallio.

Normally speaking, I despise all this shit, and as a generally applicable rule of law, that hasn’t changed in the least.

But that extra bit of melody and a likeably goofy frontman who delivers absurdist lyrics in a comparatively winning manner went a loooooooooong way here towards giving these guys a pass from the expected incineration in print.

Ya made me crack a smile, guys. Win win.

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Kratos – Arlechino  (Inverse Records) (May 6)

Romanian act who self-identify as “dark metal”.

Despite that odd and rather vague choice of nomenclature, the band’s sound veers from a straightforward gothic metal with light symphonic elements to something a bit more electronic – think late period Theatre of Tragedy for a reasonable analogue.  Safest call: gothic metal.

Vocalist Monica Barta has a pleasant voice that while sadly never actually approaching the operatic, still manages to call to mind the likes of Epica’s Simone Simons (in tone) and Magica’s Ana Mladinovici (in her unashamed, kinda fetching gypsy accent). She certainly enlivens the material to a greater degree than it might otherwise have merited.

That said, the riffing from Daniel Dron (who also provides silly if admittedly inoffensive “beauty and the beast” puke vox) and Iustin Petrescu does reach a bit further than, say, Robert Westerholt (Within Temptation) with all its tremelo picking and business bolstering the more standard sustained chords and nigh-nu metal detuned lunkhead bits (CHUG-CHUG A CHUG CHUG CHUGGGG!).  That crap’s still in there, and it’s hardly moving a million miles beyond the sort of thing Mark Jansen used to be noted for in Epica and After Forever, but it does help to set them a bit apart from what has become a sadly devolving pack over the last decade or so.

While it’s unlikely to really move anyone not already inclined towards the gothic-symphonic stylistic axis, Kratos at least offers a refreshing hint of promise in a field where even the leading lights have long since settled into mediocrity.

And with Barta as sort of a secret weapon in their arsenal, Kratos certainly merits a reasonably attentive listen to those so inclined.

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Kebu – Perplexagon (Secret Entertainment) (April 15)

Electronic synthesizer music bordering on EDM.

First track starts off quite promising, bringing Faunts and the first two Mass
Effect soundtracks to mind, but then he’s off into more of an early Depeche Mode meets Erasure sort of thing.

There are hints of, say, a sped up, dancified John Carpenter soundtrack as we
progress if not a touch of Rheingold circa R., and this isn’t a million miles away from either Speak and Spell or Nightsatan and the Loops of Doom – all of which are some pretty good signifiers to be compared to.

But make no mistake, as you progress into the album, it becomes far less soundtrack mood-evocative and far more of a late night dancefloor drunk girls doing jello shots with their hands up in the air sort of affair.

If you’re like me, that’s all good – ain’t nothing wrong with that, however it may pale in the light of day and sobriety.

But Kebu’s on to something more than your average workaday EDM fader pusher here, and I’d be lying through my teeth if I claimed I didn’t enjoy the fuck out of this, both under a midday sun and without a drink in sight.

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CREMATORY – Monument (Steamhammer / SPV) (April 15)

Oy. Do any of you remember the days before gothic metal meant fetching lovelies in corsetry with operatic inclinations? I mean, before the likes of Theatre of Tragedy, After Forever, Within Temptation, Epica, Krypteria, Leaves Eyes, even Visions of Atlantis and Unsun brought the genre to international prominence and acclaim?

Yep, we’re talking the days when all-male bands with dark inclinations who didn’t quite identify with the rising black, fading death or seemingly evergreen power metal genres, much less the still-to-arise retro-traditional and thrash revivals, delivered a heavier, more symphonic black-meets power metal sort of thing, with snarled and gargled vocals over clean production and keyboard-backed guitars without leads or flash?

Yeah, you remember. The boring stuff that nobody really cared about, at least outside a few pockets of diehard European fans looking for some vaguely similar alternative to Cradle of Filth and Dimmu.

So here’s one of those acts, a band who has more in common with the aforementioned symphonic black acts or tourmates My Dying Bride than any actual gothic metal band you could name, dropping their staggering 13th release in a (very, very) long line of such dating back to the very early 90’s (when death metal was just starting to peter out in the wake of grunge and alternative was just thinking about morphing into nu-metal and aggro…in other words, the last days of metal here in the States until fairly recently).

They’re likeable enough, particularly when growler Gerhard “Felix” Stass opts for a clean vocal approach (“die so soon”) and the keyboards get into that catchy (and quite recognizably) gothic metal groove, but for the most part, they take the martial bits of fellow Teutons Accept, Rammstein and Laibach and pair them with some unholy cross between gothic, symphonic black and power metal.

Make no mistake: when it does work, it works quite well, and the band’s polish and experience shines through like a diamond in a coal bin.

But to call this “gothic metal” in this day and age brings all sorts of inapplicable associations that Crematory and Monument simply can’t fulfill.

Maybe Crematory and Kratos should shake hands and switch their respective self-appointed genre labelings…the more nebulous “dark metal” seems a whole lot more appropriate here (and conversely, the more well defined “gothic metal” to Kratos) than the one these two bands choose to align with.

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Purson – Desire’s Magic Theatre (Spinefarm Records) (April 29)

Among ostensible “occult rock” oriented acts, Purson has always been something of an odd duck.

Fronted by the absolutely stunning Rosalie Cunningham (who handles frontwoman duties as well as additional guitar and keyboards for the band), the band duly taps into the late 60’s/early 70’s rock vibe of the “occult rock” scene, but veers harder into the psychedelic, while avoiding more than the general aesthetic of their witchier-to-satanic peers such as The Devils Blood, Blood Ceremony or Jex Thoth (much less forebears Black Widow and Coven).

And that’s what makes Purson rather strange. While Cunningham definitely and deliberately works the gypsy mystic/hippie witch thing on album covers and promo materials and the band is named after a goetic entity, this is the band whose best track by far was “leaning on a bear”(!)

And the plain fact is that while they do affect a bit of a Black Sabbath influence in riffing every now and again (“electric landlady”), for the most part, they’re working a wholly incongrous White Album/Abbey Road-era Beatles sort of thing otherwise.

In other words, this is quirky, fey, especially British psychedelia of the decidedly precious variety. How the hell they got lumped in with the metal crowd is well beyond me – this is off kilter, retro-inclined pop music whose most notable recent memory antecedent lies with Peek-A-Boo era Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Glove/The Top-era Cure.

While I do enjoy listening to (and moreso, looking at) Cunningham and her throaty, quavering alto, this is far too…delicate for my tastes overall.

Fans of the psychedelic-era Beatles should enjoy this a whole hell of a lot more than I do.

The later version of “let it be” with the killer solo aside, I stopped caring after Revolver.

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ATTALLA – S/T (CD, TAPE) (Shadow Kingdom) (June 3)

Stoner rock generator party adds a tad more Sabbath to the expected straight
up Kyuss.

Make no mistake, Blues for the Red Sun is all over this fucking thing. Just
add in a few more recognizably Iommi-derivative riffs and flourishes of
technique. “Lust” even goes all “fairies wear boots” at the end…

Wailing, swallowed-tone vocals, thick, muted rear pickup guitars backed by
distorted unison bass and straightforward if active basic kit drumming.
You know the score. Light one up and dive in.

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CARDINALS FOLLY – Holocaust of Ecstasy & Freedom (CD, LP) (Shadow Kingdom) (June 3)

Impressively old school doom metal of the quirky variety – very much in the
vein of Italian doomsters Black Hole, for example.

Bassist/vocalist Mikko Kaarlainen keeps things resolutely weird with his
declamatory, regularly off key warbling, clogged nasal delivery and Charles
Iveslike polytonal multitracked voice (two hesitant but opposing keys at once,
hey, I’m onto something here!)…and yet, as with the aforementioned Black
Hole, the very singularity of his by normal standards failed approach to
singing leaves his sound as interesting.  Wrong, but likeably so, for those
open to give it the chance.

The riffing is extremely simplistic, but busy for doom, with repetitive single
note riffs given preference over held chordal fermata and suchlike.  You even
get some basic but reasonably melodic solos here, what’s not to like?

So the only hurdle for newcomers is the vocals.  If you’re into precision and
keeping things in tune and in key, forget it – run the other way NOW and don’t
even think about giving this one a listen.

But if the very wrongness of it appeals to you, this one’s pretty much a
winner.

I dug it.

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LUCIFER’S HAMMER (Chile) – Beyond the Omens (CD, LP) (Shadow Kingdom) (June 3)

Totally retro-traditional metal out of Chile. This is so NWOBHM-influenced, it
hurts, with touches of Omen clearly discernible in the mix.

If Twisted Tower Dire weren’t so slavishly Maiden-obsessed, they’d sound a whole hell of a lot like Lucifer’s Hammer.

You’ll be surprised this isn’t some obscure and forgotten gem from 1984, unearthed and re-released for a retro minded generation. Great guitar work, harmony leads and authentic-feeling vocals.

Another good one from Shadow Kingdom.

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WEIRD LIGHT – Doomicvs Vobiscvm (CD, LP) (Shadow Kingdom) (June 3)

French doom act who never got past the demo stage. They’re pretty good, if you’re really into trad doom ala Trouble, Candlemass, Sabbath and St. Vitus, with clean (English) vocals and deliberate riffing in the classic style.

Shadow Kingdom pulls their two song demo together with two newer, previously unreleased tracks to make what we understand will be the only release from this band.

And that’s a shame.

While the new tracks smack a bit more of the (comparatively) overproduced experimentalism of The Skull, it’s safe to say that fans of Psalm 9 or Nightfall should be right in their element here.

I sure dug it.

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FORGED IN BLACK – FEAR REFLECTING FEAR EP (self released) (April 29)

 

Hmm. This is a weird one.

Picture a band that mixes the trad-meets-prog vibe of Crimson Glory with a
melodramatic doom-style vocalist ala a more Irish tenor version of Messiah
Marcolin, then throws in some thrash riffs now and again.

Now put a slight Mercyful Fate-style neo-neoclassical dual-tracked guitar thing on the solos.  Then add a King Diamondesque, nigh symphonic black metal darkness to the riffs.

You could say that bands like Portrait or In Solitude were working a pseudo-
Fate thing a few years back, but this feels more authentic in its very syncretism.

Hats off to Chris “Stoz” Storozynski for the Midnight goes Marcolin vox and Andy Songhurst for the quirky guitars, which marry an arpeggiated yet sloppy feeling Chastainism to the intended Denner/Sherman vibes.

It’s short, quirky and interesting, which counts for quite a bit in today’s ever flowing stream of copycats and soundalikes.

We’ll see if they make anything of this and keep up the momentum displayed on this odd but worthy release.

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Iron Mountain – Unum (Prophecy Productions)

Irish band who brings traditional instrumentation and a strong folk influence to a more prog-style heavy rock cum indie approach.

Back in the 90’s, when metal was completely dead here in the States, one of the many musical avenues I pursued vigorously was traditional Celtic and British Isles folk and folk-rock: stuff like Pentangle, The John Renbourn Group, Steeleye Span, Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention, with a reasonable sideline in more trad Gaelic folk like the Clancys.

So to hear so much of that sound and feel, complete with uileann pipes, fife and fiddle amidst a more aggressive and heavy rock/almost metallic sort of affair is playing right up my alley.

Things get a bit more 60’s psychedelic prog on the almost atonal “blitz”, but for the most part, this quintet of instrumental folk-prog-who the hell knows what tracks should leave you pining for the rolling green hillocks of the Emerald Isle.

Very, very interesting, not a little trippy and quite good.

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Prag 83 – Metamorphoses (Nordvis Produktion) (April 22)

Ambient neofolk that eventually drifts into Nick Drake territory.

These Germans are aiming to put the existentialist horrors of Kafka to music, so the relentless grimness of the music is entirely appropriate…though all things considered, I’d probably have gone much heavier and jagged edged for something like The Trial or The Castle…

They definitely put a pinpoint focus on the hopelessness and inevitability of injustice Kafka put to pen, and being Teutonic, both performance and production are as impeccable as you’d expect.

Not bad for what they’re aiming at.

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Brutus – Wandering Blind (Svart Records) (May 20)

Working the same thin, but clearly Hawkwind by way of Foghat and Grand Funk style stoner-psychedelic early 70’s rock feel as they did on Behind the Mountains, Norwegian retro-maniacs Brutus return with what feels like a more developed and catchy album than the last go around.

The riffs feel less one note, the record comes off far less monotone than its
predecessor, and while the production is just as rubbish as it was last time, it’s clear they’re shooting for the vocals of Ozzy in Sabbath or Mark Farmer circa 1969’s Grand Funk album, along with the latter’s distorted rubber band guitar sound and uber-simplistic drumming.

This actually sounds like the sort of thing your stoner older brother (or father,
or grandfather by this point in history!) used to drive around blasting from his
customized Econoline van’s 8-track, wafting away all that dank smoke and trying to get some bell bottomed groove into the fur-carpeted and upholstered back for some sweet lovin’.

Retro as fuck, and with much better songs and riffs this time.

Raise your lighters in salute, then pass one around.

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Sleep of Monsters – II: Poison Garden (Svart Records) (June 3)

More darkwave gothic meets 80’s New Romantic business from the Finns.

We’d reviewed their debut Produces Reason a few years back, and this is more of the same, with the likes of Simple Minds and The Mission UK knocking heads with Audra or Athan Maroulis-fronted Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

As before, the only problem is the band’s tendency towards anthemic pop (think post-Breakfast Club Simple Minds), which undercuts their otherwise fairly respectable darkwave orientation (think anywhere between The Church and 90’s-vintage Projekt Records).

The production is excellent, with Ike Vil’s dark, dramatic vocals being the justifiable locus the rest of the band circles around and complements, with a trio of female backing vocalists adding due ethereality to the proceedings.

While it’s hardly a major change from Produces Reason, it’s unquestionable that the band took notes before putting Poison Garden together, with a fuller, more generally gothic-leaning sound and less of the jarring, ill fitting elements discussed in the earlier review on display herein.

They’re definitely improving, and since they started out on a fairly high point, one can only hope the upward momentum continues.

Who knows, they may spearhead a much needed gothic revival yet.

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Vainaja – Verenvalaja (Svart Records) (May 20)

OK, the Finnish death metal meets nigh funeral doomsters have returned for another round.

Musically not far removed from their debut Kadotetut, this time around they’ve come up with a sort of concept album that ostensibly explains the band name while inventing a (wholly imaginary) 19th century cult of “blood casters” led by an undead effective demilich.

It’s a cute idea, and sure to appeal to the death metal crowd, tabletop gamers and comics fans everywhere. I certainly appreciate this sort of fantasy-horror aesthetic in tandem with heavy music, the two of which tend to work together like ice cream and hot apple pie.

While it’s pretty straightforward and kind of samey throughout, they do toss in some elements we didn’t notice last time around, namely a “dramatic” John Williamsesque film music punctuation every now and again (mostly isolated between songs or fading in on intros and closes).  A bit silly, but it will probably work for the crowd raised on bad American fantasy film of the past 20-30 years.

As a pure doom-oriented death metal album, it’s listenable but somewhat unspectacular.

But with the extra frisson of the eerie, open ended faux-historical tale (think the sort of forgotten if not deliberately hidden literary “discovery” you’ll find in the pages of Lovecraft and Howard), it works well enough.

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IN MOURNING – Afterglow (Agonia Records) (May 20)

Well, they lay claim to a melodeath orientation…mmm, sorta, I guess…and make the mistake of assuming that namechecking some supposed kinship to Opeth is a positive thing.

Nope.

Well, the production is questionable, being reasonably clean and thick on one
hand, but very hollow sounding, as if it were all mids. There’s a sucking
sensation at core that is not appealing…

They pulled in Kristian “Necrolord” Wahlin (of Grotesque fame) to do the
cover, but don’t expect the sort of stunning cover he delivered to the likes
of At the Gates, Dissection, King Diamond, Emperor or Thulcandra here.
Instead, it’s just a lighthouse on a stormy sea, all in fire tones of orange,
yellow and red – nothing terrible, but hardly what you expect from an artist
capable of stuff like The Somberlain, Voodoo or In the Nightside Eclipse.

Tobias Netzell sort of swallows his growl-shrieks, akin to a goofier take on
Martin Van Drunen or Frantisek Storm but without the quirky individualist
appeal of either.

Were the music better produced, you could make note of the intended lushness of some of the material (“the grinning mist”), and there’s certainly a touch of prog to the proceedings, but I’d be quite hesitant to label this as melodeath – there’s simply nothing Carcass, At the Gates or even Mors Principium Est about this.

It’s listenable if you’re in a certain mood, working best as a sort of
innocuous background music for the metal inclined rather than as a “check this out and pay attention” sort of affair.  In other words, yeah, it’s OK, I
guess, but it has a whole hell of a lot of that aural wallpaper feel to it.

I’m sure some quarters will make a big ass deal about this, like it’s the
second coming of Christ or something.  You know the sites, you know the print
sources.

But the reality of it?

Meh.

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GLORIOR BELLI – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes) (Agonia Records) (May 6)

French black metal of the decidedly modern variety on the first two tracks switches gears radically into weird Entombed-style pop music (“rebels in disguise”).

It feels like the entire album was written in the exact same key – flipping from key points of one track to the same area of the next feels like one unbroken song – but then you throw in these oddball sections (and the rare song in its entirety) where they slow things down to a nigh-Bruce Springsteen level of speed and aggression (no kidding, it gets that slow and laid back at points) and it starts to feel like “death n’ pop” instead of “death n’ roll” (much less “black n’ roll” or whatever the hell they were aiming for here).

Production is far too heavy on the treble end, particularly with all those open ringing distorted chords in the (yawn) Watain style (groan) – all you can hear is that noise and crashing cymbals when they put on the speed. When they actually slow things down to midtempo or less, it’s more listenable and even a bit thick on the back end, but think Earache over R/C and then make it even more buried under surface noise and high end signal bleed.

You’ve heard, and seen reviewed here, much, much worse.

But the more pertinent question is, is this any damn good? 

hmm…

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SEKTEMTUM – Panacea (Osmose Productions) (May 26)

Well, this is a band out of France which used to feature none other than Les
Legions Noires leading light Meyhna’ch (of Mutiilation fame). They’ve
replaced him with a fella who used to front German avant-gloomsters Bethlehem (albeit not on any of their recorded output), and while I can’t speak to how they came off under their more famed prior vocalist, Panacea just
sounds…sorta generic.

Yep, it’s yet another black metal band playing very much in the Watain vein.
While there’s a bit more of a lilt and bounce to the material and even a
surprising focus on non-blastbeat drumming, at core it’s more of the same open chord dissonance, clean production and tonsil-quavering vomit-snarl vocals.

Look, black metal is a decidedly “orthodox” genre, hesitant to embrace change
and therefore endlessly self-repetitious if not self-regurgitating. But in
earlier days, from better bands, this led to some truly interesting if not
inspiring music, particularly out of Norway, Poland, Finland and France (and
not necessarily in that order).

But when it’s all starting to sound just like Erik Danielsson’s little
troupe…not even the arguably similar minded Mortuus era Marduk, mind, but
Watain Jr. after Watain lite after Watain wannabe after Watain zombie…

It’s getting to the point where this black metaller is about ready to hang up
his horns.

Sorry, but this stuff sucks.

Enough already, guys.

Something original, please…

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BAT – Wings of Chains (CD, LP, TAPE) (Hells Headbangers) (June 10)

Motorhead and Venom (and therefore early Bathory) inspired biker band cum blackened thrash outfit Bat returns with their first full length, containing what appears to be every single track off their Cruel Discipline and Primitive Age EPs as well as a few new tracks.

As mentioned in prior reviews (here and here), Bat consists of Municipal Waste’s Ryan Waste and veteran DRI drummer Felix Griffin alongside Waste compatriot Nick Poulos on guitar.

It’s straightforward but high energy, raw but not unpolished or unprofessional, and should work well for fans of the early to mid 80’s metal underground or more recent one percenter-oriented USBM such as Maax, Intoxicated or even Venomous Maximus.

I liked these guys a lot before, and the new tracks continue in the same vein as the releases which came before (and appear again en toto herein).

Sold.

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POWER FROM HELL – Sadismo (LP) (Hells Headbangers) (May 6)

Sorta old school, very underground USBM-style blackened thrash out of Brazil.

With more in common to the more recent US revival of the style than the likes of early Sepultura, Sarcofago or Vulcano, this is certainly playing in the
right ballpark, it just tends to bunt and never really scores a home run.

There’s enough of the early Bathory by way of Venom and Motorhead thing going down here to give ’em the nod, and the production is just raw enough to feel “authentic” without being so nasty as to put anyone off, and it’s great stuff to put on while cruising an open highway.

Good enough for the type, just seems to be missing that much needed bit of
versimilitude that gets this veteran a’thrashing.

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Ill Omen (Australia) / Slaughtbbath – Pestilential Hierophanies – split 7″ EP (Iron Bonehead)

Australians ILL OMEN have appeared no less than four times in our pages, and have something of a spotty record.

Enthrone the Bonds of Abhorrence didn’t fare all that badly, and compilation Compendium Melificarium, as usual for those sort of gatherings of odds and sods, got the nod for sheer completism, but followups Remnant Spheres of Spiritual Equilibrium and AE.Thy.Rift were sorta bleh.

And sadly, their track “Whited, Pestilent Sepulchre” is just more of the same. Even in the hamster wheel aesthetic of black metal (where for all the speed and “progression”, it remains harmonically, spiritually and existentially static), Ill Omen appear to have a unique penchant for delivering the exact. same. thing. over and over again ad nauseaum.

I guess if you really dig their sound, you’ll never be disappointed by a sudden
change in style…

Chile’s SLAUGHTBBATH didn’t exactly set the world afire with their split with Hades Archer either, and I guess you could say this is also more of the same.

“Inverted Hierophany” is a lot more uptempo and listenable than what Ill Omen has to offer on the flipside, but still feels kinda…meh.

Not below average for the style, I’ll give them that…but so toe the line everyday feeling as to actually be the median, mean and average all in one.

Respectably tepid.

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Seventh Xul – Qliphothic Rites of Death 7″ EP (Iron Bonehead) (May 27)

One off Greek blackened death metal single in re-release.

They’re working a hyperspeed triggered D-bass thing on the drums between the expected typewriter thing…well, expected for death and power metal, anyway!  Thankfully, there are few if any blastbeats to be found herein, and that already gives them a leg up on the competition.

The guitars are still overly detuned, and tend to go for the Immolation cum Killswitch harmonic squeal punctuation throughout, but this is all a plus by comparison with others mixing and melding the two styles.

Vocals are forgettable but inoffensive and the production is pretty clear considering the highly underground nature of what’s being recorded here and for what audience.

Considering it’s blackened death, not a genre syncretism/miscegenation I tend to care for as a pretty reliable rule of measure, Seventh Xul manages to pull off the near impossible here:

They get a nod of respect.

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Necromantic Worship – The Calling… TAPE (Nuclear War Now! Productions / New Era Productions) (April 1) 

Dutch weirdoes Necromantic Worship (of Spirit of the Entrance unto Death fame) return with a slightly longer 3 song/2 long drawn out intro affair.

The oddness and sorta Drawing Down the Moon-era Beherit influence is still
there, but this time around, there’s some Gloomy Grim-style in your face
keyboard bits, much better production and material that actually feels like
songs rather than just weird chants and experimental bullshit.

This may be due to the fact that they’re working an actual band dynamic this
time around, recruiting outside session folks for drums and (occasional) lead
guitar. The last one was weird but interesting…this one actually works.

As such, at least on the three tracks that count, I really liked it.

A definite and decidedly huge improvement on an already interesting and quirky project.

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CAUCHEMAR – Chapelle Ardente LP/CD (Nuclear War Now! Productions) (June 5)

French-Canadian doom act. Promo materials name check Pagan Altar, which was an eye opening comparison to evoke…yeah, I guess I can hear a bit of that in here, though I was thinking more of the Run After To EP.

Annick Giroux offers throaty, depressively angsty female alto vox, and the mood remains fairly solemn throughout, albeit in a very 80’s traditional metal sense. This is definitely standard tuning Tony Iommi worship, with moments that actually move (“main de gloire” and “l’oiseau de feu” – “hand of glory” and “bird of fire” for the non-French speakers out there) and occasional church organ accompaniment (“voyage au bout de la nuit” – “trip at the end of the night”).

It’s darker and less old school in feel than Weird Light, but I certainly liked this one.

Worth a spin for sure.

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Ygfan – Köd (A Sad Sadness Song) (June 3) 

Dark toned postpunk in the (very) vague ballpark of, say, Echo & the Bunnymen or certain phases of The Cure goes quite prog, then drags in some (modern) pagan/black metal to top it off.

The drumming is very busy and syncopating all over the meter, with a fairly
good production on that end (albeit one mixed evenly with a muted tone bass
that tends to get buried under all the guitar and overprocessed vocal business
– it sounds much better during instrumental sections than “full band”
portions).

When the guitars aren’t shooting for that now-boring open string distorted
dissonant crap Watain fucked the black metal scene’s works with, it feels
incongrously 80’s (note the points of reference noted hereinabove), which was
good by me as well.

Vocals are that harsh snarl thing you get with black metal and a lot of
pagan/Viking metal as well, with the overall sound approaching a progressive-
pagan thing, particularly given the clean, Teutonic-level production
throughout.

It’s unclear what Ygfan is shooting for here – it’s not really black metal (or
pagan, or Viking, or prog, or postpunk for that matter), and isn’t exactly
that odd hipster thing that generally gets lumped under the term “post-black
metal” either – there’s too much good playing, especially on the percussion
side, and too much of an authentic-feeling love for these various genres to
relegate it to the Arcade Fire swings a tad “dark metal” shitpile.

In point of fact, it’s pretty damn good, with some mournful chant vox between
the snarls (making them sound a bit Viking…a Manegarmesque connection
springs to mind here) and more prog and metal of the extreme variety than
alternative in base orientation.

Unusual but effective. I’ll give ’em the nod for sure.

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Head of the Demon – Sathanas Transmigestos (The Ajna Offensive / Invictus Productions) (June 24)

Swedes working a sort of Kyusslike stoner rock goes black-doom thing.

Things get a bit doomy, and there are obvious touches of generator party heavy tokin’ bounce and grind, but the vocals are straight up growl-rasps and the sound feels more deliberate, darker and more fatalistic throughout.

Is it doom? Nope.  Elements of it, sure.  But doom?  Nah.

Is it black metal? Nah.

Is it “occult rock”? Not in the expected sense – there’s little to nothing retro 70’s/classic rock/psychedelic about this.

But there are some analogies to, say, Hour of 13, early Danzig or even King Fowley’s October 31 to be found, so make up your own mind as to where Head of the Demon truly falls on that scale.

Quite listenable and quite dark. Didn’t make a huge impression, but I was hardly running to hit the fast forward button either.

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Qrixkuor – Three Devils Dance (Invictus) (April 30)

Well, on the one hand, it’s yet another one of those overly detuned, slap
echo-laden underground black-death metal jobs, this time from some London yobbos.  Sigh.

But I’ll tell you something weird. Maybe it was just due to being a bit sleepy
after a weird weather-related temperature shift, but there seemed to be a bit of something…at least background level listenable about opener “serpent’s mirror”.  The solo even smacked a bit of a (far less neoclassically inclined and much looser/sloppier) James Murphy sort of thing.

There was enough of a (true) death metal feel buried beneath all the sinister
barfing, overdone echo and detuned to the point where the strings scrape the
pickups bullshit that not only was I surprised to hear it in there, however
faintly…but I found I kind of liked this track, actually.

Too bad the other two tracks dropped the ball.

Nothing to write home about, but I’ll spare the usual merciless slag given my
unexpected appreciation of “serpent’s mirror”.

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Wóddréa Mylenstede – Créda Beaducwealm (Altare Productions / Legion Blotan) (June 1)

OK. We have a mainly Portugal-oriented black metal label, putting out a Yorkshire-based UK noise act.

Don’t be fooled by the weird name (which left me assuming they were a Polish or Slavic act): it’s Olde Englishe, so pull out your John Donne and start reciting the Twa Corbies as this muddy mess of nasty noise drones on…and on…and on in the background.

Think the shittiest black metal bedroom band rehearsal you’ve ever heard, make it ten times more dissonant and pointless, and you may approach something as laughably bad as this.

Then again, what you’re picturing is probably a whole hell of a lot better.

Don’t just pass.

Pass the Advil while you’re at it.

Pure shit.

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Candelabrum – Necrotelepathy (Altare Productions) (June 1)

Two tracks that are more or less identical mirror images of each other.

The first starts off sounding like an extremely poorly produced old school black metal track (awesome), but quickly degenerates into a slow and boring thing with weird major key overtones and some perfectly horrible yodel-howling as “vocals” (what the hell is with that trend lately, anyway? Who ever thought Slim fucking Whitman spelled black metal?).

The second starts off slow and boring, then picks up to sound a whole hell of a lot like the opening of track 1 towards the end.

Word of advice: next time, stick to what you promised at the opening of track 1 and drop the rest.

Shows hints of real promise, so good you can smell impending victory…then the schmuck drops the pizza right in front of you.

“What an asshole!” is the only possible response to ’em after that…

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Enligthen – Illvmantithesis (Signal Rex) (June 3)

Portugese black metal heavily influenced by the Watain school of dissonance and ringing open chords. It’s different enough from template not to be the usual slavishness, but still fails to work.

“Shroud” bears enough of a traditional harmonic structure beneath the poor choice in stylistic embellishment to almost feel like a real song.

Who knows, a bit more individuality and cleansing of outside influences may flower into a much better release next time around.

Some hints of promise beneath the usual ho-hum bullshit.

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Invehertex – Hacia el Vórtice (Signal Rex / Atavism Records) (June 3)

To quote Archie Bunker: “oh, jeez, Edit’…”

Yep, it’s yet another one of those fucking underground yodel and slap echo
jobs, where (literally) every other track is wasted on ambient intros and the
actual “songs” all sound alike, buried by poor production and an obvious lack of musical imagination.

At least when they’re actually playing, they play fast and almost in tune, at least by comparison to their ever growing company of likeminded peers…something to be said for that, I guess…

These guys come from Chile, if that makes any difference to ya.

Who knows, someone out there may be a “bad sorta black metal from Chile” completist and therefore need to check this one out…

The rest of us need not apply.

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Maleficence – Realms of Mortification 7″ EP (Blood Harvest) (May 6)

Brussels delivers some high speed Destruction worship by way of Witchtrap
(Colombia) and Bestial Holocaust.

The speed is fucking relentless, the production is surprisingly clean but the
playing is still raw enough to feel “right”…yeah, I liked this about as well
as the aforementioned bands in their respective heyday.

Horns up, looking forward to a full length.

 

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