Alluvion - The Secret's Out, Antichrist Siege Machine - Schism Perpetration, Bestialord - Black Mass Wedding - GrimmDistribution, Black Lion Records, Book of Wyrms - Remythologizer, Cruickshank, Death by Fungi - Die in Bombay, Freighter - The Den, Grande Royale - Take It Easy, Hope Drone - Void Lustre, Hound the Wolves/Glasghote, Illyrian - The Entity Unknown, Krucyator Productions / Stygian Black Hand, LAMASSU - Into the Empty, Lindsay Schoolcraft - Martyr, MNRVA - Black Sky, Moment of Collapse/Sludgelord Records, Ole English, Over the CounterCultureRecords, Pyramido - Fem, Reflex Machine - Interzone, Rottendawn - Occult, Sabotage - The Order of Genocide, Saturnal Records, Sludgelord Records & Black Voodoo Records, SOPHIST - Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto, The Burning Tree - Pariah, The Drippers - Action Rock, The Last Martyr - Creatrix, The Sign Records, third eye cinema podcast, Torpor - Rhetoric of the Image, TripleMurder - "Cannibalistic", Truthseeker Music/Sludgelord Records/ Moment of Collapse Records/Smiths Food Group/Medusa Crush Recordings, Twin Earth Records/Stoner Witch Records, Vagrant - The Rise Of Norn, Wallowing - Planet Loss, Widow's Peak - Graceless
And here’s another one this week. Can’t promise the rest will follow with this sort of speed or regularity, and it’s probably about time to restart the research and recordings again over on the Weird Scenes front…but here you go, 3 smaller scale Roundups inside of two weeks. Don’t say I never gave ya anything!
Not much to offer only a few days on from our last installment, except to say that people are fucking crazy out there right now, with both sides of the conversation moving to weird extremes, pushing bizarre agendas and demanding complete obesiance, lest you become the next target of whatever tar and feather campaign of mob rule outrage they concoct.
It’s like the Arsenio Hall studio audience crossed with Jean Marat’s Reign of Terror, with everyone picking an increasingly more niche “side” of those who look, think or identify with them totally, completely, unreservedly (say those last three words like a teenager discovering their first crush or new all consuming obsession of a band or show, or you won’t get the proper effect)…
…and anyone and everyone else, especially those of more equivocal and rational stance who can hear both sides and look to the pitfalls everyone’s about to leap into eyes closed and arms open wide, is somehow the fucking antichrist, let’s revive the Burning Times, shall we?
Pagan fears, indeed…barbarism returns, the past is alive. Who knew black metal was so predictive?
So, as the supreme hubris and blatant idiocy of…well, it seems like just about everyone but you and me* drives us collectively to the collapse of not only our nation, but Western Civilization as a whole, let’s just tune those assholes and all their shouting, whining and threatening out for a while and kick back to talk some tunes, shall we?
* I’m assuming Third Eye readers have more intelligence and broadmindedness than the hoi polloi, just by virtue of all the things we cover and discuss in these pages. Let me have my illusions, at least.
Allons-y, mes amis…
Widow’s Peak – Graceless (EP) (April 27)
Okay, these Canucks ascribe to the (more or less) ‘tech death’ school of metal, which explains the consistently winding, overly busy riffing, yawn inducing wheedly-whoo leads and noisy blastbeat filled drumming.
I mean, there are a few veterans of the prog/tech death genre that had at least an album or two of worth in ’em – Cynic, to be sure, Gorguts’ first album (when they were still a straightforward death metal act), Pestilence circa Testimony of the Ancients and (at a stretch) early Monstrosity come to mind…
…but most of ’em are just noise mongers with a propensity towards showing off to their gearhead friends. “Look, I just threw down an Arabian minor lick over some Locrian mode augmented 13th chord! Wanna see it again?”
Worse…the vocals, which cross the new grindcore pig noises (and just what the fuck is that all about, anyway?) with undistinguished gargle-belches and whooooaaaaaaaaaa!!!! snarl/shouts. It’s kinda terrible, not assisted by the band’s utter inability to find an actual harmony or groove to stick with and vamp on.
Sheer audial nonsense.
SOPHIST – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (August 16)
Supposedly some unholy cross between grindcore and black metal…but wait. We already have that, it’s called “war metal” (also known in a nigh-indistinguishable variant as “bestial black”).
And this ain’t it.
Apparently a two man job, and they just started playing together a few months ago. Really?
From the sound of it, you’d think they got together last night…should have learned to play…er, together a lot better by now, especially after a few months!
whew. Rough month on the Canadian front. Let’s hope a better wind blows soon.
TripleMurder – “Cannibalistic” (July 11)
…and this ain’t it. Pantera goes more pointedly thrash (or arguably even deaththrash).
Some of the riffs aren’t terrible, but there’s a whole lot of Zakk Wylde pinch and shake ’em for dear life harmonics and (Southern) groove/aggro bits, not least in the rather Phil Anselmo Jr. “Phil goes black/death” vocals.
Hellfire and damnation! Let’s hope the next one sounds more promising than the last three…
The Last Martyr – Creatrix (August 9)
Melbourne, Australia delivers a surprisingly decent femme-fronted metalcore act…or as promo materials would have it, “melodic metal”. You know, the kind with breakdowns and clean vox that go all death belch/aggro every half a phrase.
(long, stink-eyed pause for snark)
The plus here is, if you dig the better end of that genre (think pretty much anything Adam D lays his hand to producing or creating, or the first album or so from In This Moment. Hell, I’ll even allow the first Agonist album, before she went full on screamo), you should be pretty content with this one.
Could use better production…could stand to pull back on the screaming and stick more to the clean vocals. Hell, could use more memorable solos, if we’re really going at ’em.
But all that aside? This longtime Killswitch fan was pretty happy with this particular burst of thunder from Down Under.
MNRVA – Black Sky (October 4)
Ah, sludge. That somewhat indefinable netherworld bordering those of stoner (itself some odd bridge between Sabbath, trippy early 70’s ‘space rock’ and 90’s grunge) and doom (a far richer beast, also primarily indebted to Sabbath but expanding out into multiple, equally sturdy stylistic branches).
The fact that you can call both black/doom act Goatlord and grim Celtic Frost-indebted thrash act Dream Death sludge with no small degree of accuracy on both parts says a lot…though more often it tends to sound like some overweight bearded trucker in flannel bellowing out for another slab of bacon at the local rest stop over a slow n’ sloppy sounding overdistorted grunge act.
Well, you know what? Yeah. That describes these guys pretty well.
I mean, there’s enough molasses-slow tempo and such to keep the Electric Wizard fanbase happy, and enough of the other end to keep your typical Red Fang aficionado well stocked in beef jerky for a month…but it’s not really doom (even Wizard-style stoner doom) or especially stoner, either.
Sludge is about the most accurate label to slap on these guys, and fans of same (moreso than it ever could appeal to lovers of the aforementioned component genres or acts) their core audience.
It’s listenable, as this stuff generally tends to be…but nothing to write home about.
Unless you really, really love sludge, to the exclusion of doom, stoner or even retro grunge.
Cruickshank – S/T (August 23)
Now this is interesting. Thrash/sludge?
So, yeah, you remember Non-Fiction? The pared down, more simplistic to the point of grungy, almost Badlands meets Alice in Chains or Soundgarden style band that sprung up in the aftermath of New Jersey’s Hades? Really heavy, depressing shit, with loud, yet mids heavy and thin toned guitars and noisy drums, and Alan Tecchio (ex-Hades, ex-Watchtower) bellowing away those powerful vocals of his?
Okay, not like these guys sound anything like Non-Fiction stylistically speaking, nor do they have a top tier vocalist like Tecchio in tow.
But damn if they don’t remind me of the Jersey kids in terms of not only guitar tone, drums and minimal production…but in their sheer aggression and the way they burst into thrashy bits of speed their slow and gloomy, sloppy sounding approach would lead you to think completely incongruous. And yet, it worked, and quite well at that.
So yeah. Ignore if you can the gargling a lung full of snot vocals and tune in to the guitar n’ drum show. It’s simplistic. It’s noisy. The tone kinda sucks, for all its power and aggression. But it works, somehow, particularly in their ability to move from doomier tempos to full on thrash speed, in a genre and with a tonal approach that would never suggest same.
Surprisingly listenable. Now I’m gonna go pull those two Non-Fiction albums out again. And I won’t “just put it off till tomorrow!”
Ole English – S/T (August 23)
No, it’s not some Skyclad tribute band or a Northern Oak revival project…but a perfectly scuzzy sounding stoner rock act out of Louisiana!
Walking some middle ground between Blues for the Red Sun and Deliverance, these guys work the heavy distortion power trio thing like a Kyuss who based their entire schtick on Pepper Keenan and the CoC boys rather than Sabbath, Grand Funk and Blue Cheer. It’s loud, punchy, and fucking raunchy.
Hell, there’s even a touch of Witchfinder Generalesque Sabbathian doom in the mix (“visons of Ghana”).
Misleading moniker aside…what’s not to love?
Alluvion – The Secret’s Out (September 6)
Boy, that Alice in Chains influence is really coming out in younger bands, eh?
This time around, the Seattle grungesters get props from a band who marries stoner rock tropes, vox that cross Staley with a touch of Rob Zombie and enough of a slow n’ heavy vibe to both border on doom and positively scream early Kyuss.
But then other tracks, they throw in some oddball stuff that suggests something more modern in origin: quirky riffs and melodic build and shifting that more properly hails from a background in emo, metalcore and post-millenial iterations of punk.
It’s pretty damn strange, but when you’ve got something as lumberingly powerful yet tuneful as “by design”, who’s keeping books and assigning red check marks?
A very strange beast, and wayyyyy too much AiC for our tastes…but the rest works pretty well for all its oddity.
The Drippers – Action Rock (The Sign Records) (August 2)
Punk gone crust (or is that sludge?), as raw and gritty as Medieval but as punchy as classic Motorhead, with bits of the Dead Boys and a decidedly amphetamine driven take on the Sex Pistols thrown in to boot.
Speedy, angry, raw and as poorly produced as a Guitar Wolf album…but so, so perfect.
As raw as the Iggy mix of Raw Power, as punchy as The Saints. This one’ll get you strapping on your boots n’ braces and starting a pit before you know it.
Totally killer, zero filler…and fascinatingly, hailing from Tomas Skogsberg and Sunlight Studios, who must have been on an album long smoke break with some drunken janitor shoving all the faders to 11, meters never leaving the red zone.
“Shounds great, fellash! (hic)”
The Burning Tree – Pariah (September 6)
Bass player from Ghost:Hello gets a few dead of night hours in the studio and screws around while completely loaded.
Weird falsetto voices, drunken mumble-groans, sparse, sloppy basslines…you name it, it’s not supposed to be on tape, here it is, all in one convenient package for consignment to flame.
…it’s been a bit, hasn’t it?
well, you all know where this one’s headed.
oof, there’s pieces of jagged CD shrapnel embedded in the trees al around the Flaming Pyre of Dead Bards, is everyone alright?
Torpor – Rhetoric of the Image (Truthseeker Music/Sludgelord Records/ Moment of Collapse Records/Smiths Food Group/Medusa Crush Recordings) (September 20)
It’s no secret to regular readers of Third Eye that yours truly is a big fan of the low and slow school of rock n’ metal. Yeah, a good high speed rave up is untouchable, but if all else fails, drop some atmospheric doominess on their heads, it’ll suffice to set a mood.
But there’s always a point where you hit the extremes, where too much goes from “never enough” straight through to “enough, already”.
And this appears to be the case with England’s Torpor, who marry massively detuned instrumental guitar drones with zero apparent aim and precious little motion to rare underground black metal-style buried shrieks or airy female spoken word bits. But most of it’s instrumental, and practically ambient, for all its harmonic…well, torpor.
Essentially pointless, this one’s more of a kid’s first band rehearsal than something ear gratingly bad – the issue not being listenability or lack thereof so much as why does this even exist, and who the hell would be interested in blowing good money on it?
Like they always say to the young ones, equally disingenuously: “keep practicing, sounds like you’ve got some promise, there!”
LAMASSU – Into the Empty (September 2)
Aussie stoner rockers who wish they were Soundgarden.
Seriously, these Melbourne potheads try to marry a more pointed stoner riffing and sensibility to vox that are clearly trying to ape the late Chris Cornell (check out “chokehold companion” or “failed” if you doubt).
The songs are overly mellow, which while offering a trippy and almost jazzy component to the mix in tracks like “control” seems oddly out of place for either the stoner or grunge fans they’re obviously attempting to draw to their side.
Let’s put it this way. I doubt I’ll be spinning this one often…but the odd elements they bring to the template did intrigue me.
Sabotage – The Order of Genocide (August 3)
Stranglers of Bombay!
er, sorry, that’d more properly be Thrashers of Mumbai. Grew up on Hammer films.
Good news is, they’re quite credible, with Anand Mulgund offering some straight up clean shout vox ala Vio-Lence’s Sean Killian or Sacred Reich’s Phil Rind (among others) over punchy, Bay Area riffing from Yash Pujari and Cyril John Thomas.
Pujari drops some technically basic but very credible and familiar solos to veterans and aficionados more accustomed to the European school of 80’s thrash – think open string tremelo runs, trills, box position pentatonic lines and suchlike. Nothing very flash…but it fits and keeps the energy flowing.
Hell, a track like “failed is the law” brings By Inheritance-era Artillery to mind, so it’s not like the riffing is overly simplistic, and again, the solos fit ’em quite well. And even Malhar Bhanushali’s drums get their moment in the sun, with some nice production (on that front) pushing the fancy footwork right up front in the mix – nice touch.
I was quite pleased with this all too brief four song EP, and would absolutely love to hear a full length follow up to same.
Don’t change a damn thing, guys…though a bit stronger production overall (rather than just emphasizing clarity on drums and vocals) might make things even better.
Wallowing – Planet Loss (Sludgelord Records & Black Voodoo Records) (September 13)
Noise, meet what passes for “hardcore” these days. Now both of you shake hands with grind.
Lots of screaming, crummy production and atonal riffing. What a masterpiece, eh?
ONE MORE, INCOMING!
ah, no fun. This one just evaporated when it hit the flames…
…there was absolutely nothing to it.
Hope Drone – Void Lustre (Moment of Collapse/Sludgelord Records) (August 30)
Black metal gone weirder than usual.
Barf-shriek “vocals”, lumbering tremelo drone riffs…and strangely front and center drums, showing off some nice footwork trill patterns throughout otherwise disposable material like “in shifting lights”.
Sadly much of even that end of things is marred by a recurrent reliance on the blastbeat…is anyone really impressed by that technique? Seriously?
Not atmospheric enough, certainly not bearing any sort of “sinister” or “evil” feel, nor is it “orthodox” in style and approach. It’s not a comfortable fit with any form of black metal proper, but neither does it fit well with the more shoegaze/depressive/indie underpinnings of the “post-black metal” scene.
Just kind of pointless and forgettable in the end, despite some instances of interesting drumming buried between all the detritus herein.
Book of Wyrms – Remythologizer (Twin Earth Records/Stoner Witch Records) (August 23)
Fascinating cross between the doomier end of “occult rock” and stoner, with frontwoman/synths Sarah Moore-Lindsey lending a witchy, almost Blood Ceremony by way of Lucifer feel to the lumbering Hour of 13esque doom being worked beneath.
Another Virginia act…if the South were ever to rise again, it’d be in taking over the rock and metal scenes domestically. There’s sure enough bands hailing from the region of late, many of which are pretty damn solid.
Case very much in point.
Grande Royale – Take It Easy (The Sign Records) (September 13)
Swedish act working the “classic rock” thing in the vein of Argent, Free and bands of that ilk.
Upbeat, positive toned and straightforward 70’s good time rock n’ roll, oddly alternating with a similarly minded but rather more modern sounding almost countrified pop radio thing.
Try comparing “on and on” with “sweet livin'” and you’ll see what I mean…the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth between the two approaches.
Either way, it’s unlikely to alienate fans of the former – you could certainly see grizzled “classic rock” veterans playing this one without any track skipping or head shaking.
Not really my thing, but it definitely works if that’s what they’re aiming for.
Pyramido – Fem (The Sign Records) (September 27)
Instrumentally speaking? Slow and moody, with a strong sense of the earlier, heavier school of shoegaze (think Curve, Lush, My Bloody Valentine) permeating, but as appended to a crunchy, stoner doom guitar tone. So far, so good.
unfortunately…and here it comes…yeah. Screamo vox.
(sighs, shakes head)
seriously? Every fucking time?
There’s like 10 million bands out there to the few thousand we had back in the day. People fileshare and member-share like crazy nowadays, not many bands are proprietary about their frontman or guitarist or what have you anymore.
You. Can. Find. A. Real. Vocalist.
Next time your drinking buddy, school classmate or guitarist says “hey, we don’t need a real singer…I can step up to the mic”?
Do the world a favor. Smack him.
Freighter – The Den (July 12)
Weird ass “tech/prog/math metal” act who ape quick elements of Frank Zappa between all the Atheist meets Mr. Bungle nonsense.
Totally atonal, totally unlistenable…sure to impress the fuck out of your djent fan neighbor who never leaves their basement.
(casual, disgusted toss into the Pile of Dead Bards)
Illyrian – The Entity Unknown (July 26)
To judge by a few tracks on here (like the excellent “the entity unknown” or “grant us eyes”), what you get is some pretty damn cool retro-thrash (well, more tech thrash, but even so) from our brethren up North.
Busy, quirky but still melodic riffing (think, say, Believer crossed with Tourniquet, with just a hint of Heartwork-era Carcass and/or Cynic for good measure) and punchily mixed drums (another one where the footwork and toms are pushed right up front, always a major plus).
It’s all pretty damn good and impressively executed…marred only by some perfectly shit snarl n’ shriek black metal “vokills”.
Hey, calling a band meeting – I know who to vote off the island!
Seriously, these guys have definite potential.
Lose the baggage.
Hound the Wolves/Glasghote (split) (August 2)
Two ill-matched Oregonian acts.
Glasghote is positively atrocious, all atonal noise and nu metal spaz rhythms with ridiculous screamo vox. Two tracks of pure shit, no nice way to phrase it.
Hound the Wolves, on the other hand, is a far more straightforward and listenable stoner/space rock act very much of the Monster Magnet school (hell, frontman/guitarist Juan Carlos Caceres even sounds a hell of a lot like Dave Wyndorf…and that’s not even reckoning with the fat heavily overdriven riffs and spacey Hawkwindesque overlays!)…or at least that’s how they come off on the better track here, “godhead”.
Their other offering isn’t half so impressive, but may still be of interest to fans of Mazzy Star and similarly minded ghostly and sparse dark Americana like Sono Morti. It works, alright…just doesn’t kick the door in and take no prisoners like “godhead”.
Wouldn’t mind hearing more from Hound the Wolves.
The other guys, yeah, pfft, whatever.
Lindsay Schoolcraft – Martyr (October 7)
Nothing personal intended towards the lady herself (who is quite attractive, if that counts for anything here), but I never thought Lindsay Schoolcraft…or for that matter, any of the other femme fatales trying to fill the shoes vacated, ever held a candle to the infamous Sarah Jezebel Deva (or for that matter, her dark predecessor Andrea Haugen.)
Those first three Cradle albums (and the trio of EPs released between them) are the ones I’ve always defended and continue to pull out on a regular basis for the umpteenth spin…after that, despite occasional signs of life now and again, it’s really never been the same (Liv Kristine’s guest appearance on “nymphetamine” aside).
No one after Deva even tried to bring that level of dramatic gravitas, sinister vibe and libertine snark to the table…though admittedly, the best they’ve done since was Schoolcraft’s debut, the rather retro-minded Hammer of the Witches…so props for that much.
So what does our favorite Canadian cum de facto Brit (though who knows, maybe they just send files back and forth and meet up to tour. Things are weird nowadays.) have on tap for us?
Well…it’s a two person operation. Lindsay obviously handles vox and keys, but the rest (including “drum programming“, not actual drums, mind) comes from a former Evanescence drummer.
So he’s a drummer who doesn’t do the drumming here, but programs the drum machine and does guitar and bass. uh-huh.
(eyebrows raise quickly, tongue clicks)
…so! Where were we? Oh, yeah…there’s a terrible, and I do mean terrible cover of the Cure’s “lullaby”.
I’m beginning to think younger Cure fans only know them for Disintegration…they did several far superior albums (cough their first four at least), with dozens of quite excellent singles along the way, all quite cover worthy.
You don’t have to be like all those yuppies at the Bloodflowers show, who were bored and dismayed by all the goth going down, only to jump up and dance like loons for the overplayed and very “safe” pop hit “just like heaven”…that aside, this is a really shit cover, did I mention that?
The bulk of this is really, really mellow. “Blood from a stone” and “my way without you” sound like a pair of Amy Lee album tracks (gee, think our drummer/not drumming here wrote ’em?),
both “saviour” and “dangerous game” come off like forgettable Delain castoffs,
“dawn” sounds like an ambient track off the Mass Effect soundtrack,
“see the light” sounds like Nightwish’s rather post-heyday contribution to Uwe Boll’s Alone in the Dark…
…but the bulk of this is really, really mellow. Did I mention that?
I have to admit, when I saw this one in the queue, I perked up. Oh, there’s something I wanted to hear. Cradle member, Hammer of the Witches was pretty close to an abortive comeback album (the subsequent album sucked, unfortunately)…yeah, this could be good.
Sadly, what we got here wasn’t even generically passable, but something too “intimate and personal” on certain tracks and just…didn’t hit any of the expected marks, and never distinguishes itself as an entity unto itself.
Best you can say is, “oh, there’s that crummy Evanescence album (as if they had any good ones since Fallen – there’s a laugh!) done by a Cradle of Filth member and an ex-Amy Lee sideman who won’t even play his chosen instrument on it.”
Fail. Perhaps not “epic fail”…but definitely a “fail”.
Reflex Machine – Interzone (Over the CounterCultureRecords) (September 6)
Never were truer words spoken in a promo than “for fans of Mastodon”.
Let that one sink in for a minute. Yeah.
(rolls eyes, shakes head)
so. What you get here are long, long, LONG drones of guitar and bass so detuned that the strings are buzzing around on the frets.
On a precious few tracks, eventually something happens (the rest of this stuff, that’s all there is to say – long, slow, string rattling across the neck drones. Next track…)
If something does actually happen, you have your choice whether some Zac Rocha wannabe screamer or a sludge bellower takes the mic. Once or twice they even pick up the tempo above a crawl. Nothing ever really happens.
Yeah, definitely for fans of Mastodon.
Death by Fungi – Die in Bombay (August 5)
We’d run across this Indian “hardcore” act once before, on a split with Shepherd, and remained quite nonplussed.
So it’s with some small pleasure that I can report that they’ve at least made an attempt at looking up just what a melody is, or how to structure a song proper.
Sure, it’s only in portions of the material here, and only truly succeeds on the final cut (“attrition”). But hey. Baby steps.
I’d compare the one track that actually works with the late lamented sXe punk band Turning Point, arguably with a touch of Bold to account for the extra aggression.
But it’s surprisingly decent, as is the all too brief bridge/chorus section of “ingrates” (circa 38s-53s of a 2 minute song), which for some reason they close on a local female’s critique of. She also mocks their propensity towards mindless screaming over cohesive songcraft…is this like how Eminem used to put himself down, so everyone else saying the same would now magically sound hollow and ironic?
More stuff like “attrition” and that section of “ingrates”, these guys could actually become a force to be reckoned with.
Watch this space.
Bestialord – Black Mass Wedding – GrimmDistribution (June 20)
Well, we’d spoken to these Kansas “occult horror metallers” on their debut Law of the Burning, and heard much the same thing we were picking up this time around.
In other words, this is an at times rather satanically lyriced (at least on tracks like “now it begins” and “black mass wedding”) but otherwise far more death metal-style horror film driven slice of…the only way to describe it is Acheron-level simplistic n’ sinister sounding, arguably with a bit of Abominations of Desolation-era Morbid Angel or demo-era Nocturnus (minus anything complicated or tech about it).
Bottom line, it’s Acheron fronted by Mike Browning, but with a lot of the songs sounding more teenaged VHS horror-obsessed death metal act. I mean, they even did one for that cheesiest of British horror “series”, Dr. Phibes…ooh, Vincent Price, how chilling!
Is it as good as Law of the Burning? Well, no, not really.
But is it very much of a piece and worthy of shelving side by side with that earlier album, possibly as a sleeper that’ll grow on ya more over time?
Antichrist Siege Machine – Schism Perpetration (Krucyator Productions / Stygian Black Hand) (August 26)
Interestingly credible Virginia-based “war metal” act.
And here you thought they only came from Canada, portions of Europe and South America…
The production is better than you usually find on one of these affairs, with the black metal grindcore riffs coming via a decidedly fat guitar tone, drums being mixed quite loud, particularly evident on slower sections or occasional tom fills – you can tell he doesn’t stuff his drums and likes ’em deep dish, let’s put it that way.
Vox are appropriately cavernous, with a tad too much reverb, but not enough to relegate this to that silly “underground black/death” ghetto. It may not be Blasphemy or Conqueror/Revenge…but some combination of the surprisingly strong production and the band themselves leaves ’em as a choice tour opener.
I liked this one, yeah.
Vagrant – The Rise Of Norn (Black Lion Records) (July 25)
A surprisingly brief five song affair (with an obligatory pointless intro track to set the mood), these guys are working the Viking metal thing, albeit more akin to Hades (nee Almighty) dropping the black metal vibe and putting some bombastic, keyboard suffused and impeccably produced power metal in its place.
No, it’s not vintage Leaves Eyes or even Manegarm…but you get the general idea here.
For whatever admittedly undefinable reason, I found this one a bit boring (if, as noted, quite competent.)
…but if you’re looking for a rather festival-ready symphonic power metal take on the Viking template, these Germans should fit the bill quite nicely.
Can’t fault it on any objective merits, it’ll certainly make you wake up and pay attention if a track from this album came up on the radio…and who knows, it may well grow on me over time.
It’s certainly ticking all the right boxes.
Rottendawn – Occult (Saturnal Records) (September 6)
Finnish doom/death with a drummer from the obnoxious Impaled Nazarene (or more importantly, of Abhorrence, the excellent Finnish death metal act who later…er, morphed into Amorphis).
They’re really low and slow, and even incorporate church organ on “dusk demons”…so why doesn’t this really work?
Well, there is one moment where the album comes to life: the 56 second long “ode to Pjotr”, which crosses straight up punk with the sloppier, rawer HM-2 sound of the Sunlight Studios crowd. I really liked that one…probably a cover.
But the rest of this…lumbers aimlessly and without atmosphere or groove. It’s not desperate or depressive like Winter, Sorrow or Eternal Darkness…I don’t know. About the best it gets is “et vol taas kuollakaan”, which at least has a sluggish life to it (probably residual from the preceding track aforementioned).
Surprising to see a label as strong as this snapping up acts that don’t quite measure up to their usual standard. I guess they’re “branching out” and “trying new things?”
And here I thought black metal was all about keeping it true and old (hell, “ancient”).
Come on, Saturnal. You can and have done better.