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Okay, daytime friends and nighttime lovers out there, it’s about that time to gather ’round the fireplace and let us thrill and chill your little hearts with yet another batch of Roundup Reviews, this time mainly hailing from our brothers up North.

So in honor of that, wrap yourself up in your favorite toque, pour a nice hot cup of Tim’s (double double, of course) and snuggle up close, because we’re about to begin.  And you don’t want to miss out, eh?

Third Chamber – Harvesting Our Decay (EP) (November 22)

(facepalm)

seriously? This is what we have to start off on?

Riffs and drums are very much modern metal, with elements of the more
bombastic black metal (think Behemoth), hints of melodeath (which kind of
goes hand in hand with the modern/NWOAHM/metalcore tag)…and aggro
vox.

…why?

Look, all the other stuff, sometimes it works, others it doesn’t. Occasionally
it even works really well, it’s happened. And from what I can make out under
all the screaming, this seems passably average.

But some guy puking his tonsils out?

Never. Not once has this been acceptable.

I mean, come on. Even with the likes of Howard Jones in Killswitch and now
Light the Torch, it’s his booming clean baritone that makes the man a legend,
not his entirely generic screamo bits!

and I hate to break it to ya, guys…but your boy sure as fuck ain’t Howard
Jones.

…next?

DIZASTRA – Elder Sun (November 22)

Black metal of the Watain school, gone all thrash/speed metal.

When they really get rolling, yet manage to hang on to some strong melody
beneath it all, it’s almost impressive. But there’s also an odd propensity
towards an almost progressive inclination to throw all the expected balls into
the air and screw with ’em so they never fall where they’re supposed to.

Jagged breaks where things should flow smoothly, quirky and spastic where
you’re expecting drone or legato feel, these Montreal post-thrashers bear
just enough of a melodic thrash and/or speed base to keep things
interesting…despite all the weird black metallisms and awkward, ill fitting
overtures towards progressive metal.

Vox alternate between shriek/scream nonsense, which as ever just kinda
sucks, and old school gang chants (where the hell did THAT come from?)
that actually work. So you mean they were listening to Anthrax, Exodus and
suchlike in between Watain tribute band rehearsals?

Promo materials mention Skeletonwitch as a comparitor…yeah, I can hear
that, though these guys are both more and less appealing in their variances
from even that rather broken and genre-miscegenated template.

Has its moments, if you can deal with the lousy vox and the weird black and
prog elements…which to be frank, they should just drop and come out as the
old school, almost Bay Area thrashers they actually are, beneath it all.

Growler Choir – “The Dayking” (October 30)

Talk about bizarre. The artsy-fartsy crowd among Montreal’s Quebecois
deign to stoop low enough to attempt to find high art in the lowbrow growl n’
howl quarter of metal.

We’ve seen crossover attempts like this before, inclusive of everything from
rich socialites feting (and fundraising for!) the Black Panthers in the late 60’s
and early 70’s in the name of “hipness” to Glenn Branca’s no-wave noise
guitar choir of drones in the 80’s and early 90’s and the “performance art” so
often associated with the industrial and transgressive art scene (Throbbing
Gristle, Kembra Pfahler and the Voluptous Horror of Karen Black, Joe
Coleman, GG Allin, et al).

Here you get a big group of growler/screamers being directed to work a 20
minute piece that touches on everything from Tibetan Buddhist monk
chanting to what sounds like fan motors running, with belches, bellyache and
bellowing ebbing and flowing and erupting in tandem.

It all sounds much, much better on paper than it actually plays out in
performance.

Silly ideas, they’ve long been associated with the modern and post-modern
art scene…and who is a bigger supporter and celebrator of the arts with a
capital A than the French?

So yeah, that’s what this is in the end…pretty damn silly.

Inoffensively so, sure. Cute that the idea was tried, I’ll give ’em that.

But pretty damn silly.

TYMO – “Sanity Clause”  (October 4)

Edmonton’s long running thrash scene produces yet another basic, drivingly
aggressive and overly raspy vocalled instance of the sound the area’s
become known for, well before even the likes of Mortillery dropped on us.

I guess if you dig bands like them or the Florida Solstice, these guys should
fill the bill.

The riff was likeable and hypnotic enough, anyway.

CRS – The Collector Of Truths (Concreto Records) (December 6)

Oddly syncretist (if decidedly modern) take on death metal out of Mexico.

There’s a lot of tech in here to the point of coming off djent at times, with too
many stutter beats and wheedly-whoo leads over the top…but then there’s a
weirdly 90’s/early millenium nu metallish aggro-groove that really takes over,
like someone decided to cross Ill Nino with Soulfly and Fear Factory or (at a
stretch) Prong (just check out opener “asfixia”.

Then in come the more melodeath to metalcore bits (“tan lejos de Dios”), but
there’s just too much tech-prog erraticness in there (as again, in “the art of
breathing”). Stop for a second and ask yourself: just who are these guys
trying to be?

While there’s a certain degree of proficiency and comfort with one another to
be able to navigate all the twists and turns here, ultimately this just comes off
with a vibe that screams “confused”.

I guess if you like your djent with a little more melody, or your tech with some
nu metal leaning groove, these guys will be right up your alley.

But who the hell is that going to be addressed to? One person out
there? Three, maybe?

(raises eyebrows, shakes head)

Well, I’ve heard much worse, much of it covered right here in these pages…

…next?

The Osedax – Meridians (January 17)

Interesting. Another act where it’s harder to pin down genre than it should
be, these Virginians work something that crosses black metal and doom
(“beacon/ox eye”), spacey yet depressive, sludge-central drone (like Conan
mainlining some Tangerine Dream, in a way…) (“offen”, “ratlines”), and a
lumbering yet sludgelike take on “underground” black/death (“white
horse/tempest”).

And somehow, they got this huge (if admittedly ugly and not necessarily
palatable to your average listener) sound as a trio…

This one’s more of a case of “moments work”, or even “phrases and
movements work” than a unified whole. With tracks that run 7-15 minutes,
you’ll have some amazing second halves (“beacon/ox eye”) or closes
(“offen”) appended to parts that are far more abrasive and unlikeable, or at
least generically forgettable.

And then you get a left field track like “ratlines”…

(shakes head)

Interesting, definitely. Has some really good moments, and I mean really good moments buried amidst the dross.

Question is…are you up for digging through all of this to get to those all too
brief moments and instances where they approach transcendence?

Bethledeign – Iconography of Suffering (December 13)

What would you get if you took the dual vocalled snarl/growls of the first
Deicide album, swiped some of that patented Morbid Angel by way of
Necrophobic spastic stop/start riffing, then jacked the mids to nearly
intolerable levels?

That’s right, Virginia’s Bethledeign, whose erratically buzzing bee riffing and
hyperspeed drumming brings all those bands and Nile to mind
simultaneously*.

* and Centurian, and Liers In Wait for that matter…

What’s weirdest about this isn’t the fact that mainman Tony Petrocelly swipes
a lot of his approach from those bands as crossed with latter day James Murphy (think Disincarnate-era in particular), but just how polished and
almost well produced this comes off…except for that atrocious, ear splitting
tonal choice to emphasize the mids over bass and treble.

Never a good decision, but one seemingly beloved by “all I need’s a
Marshall stack, run that signal straight through!” types…

That aside…well, that and the sheer abrasiveness of all this double extra
aggro, but hey…this one certainly comes off pretty professional in the end,
and there’s no question the guy knows who influenced him and where he
wants to go with his sound.

Which is a lot more than we can say for so many bands covered in these
pages of late…and a definite check in the “good” column for Santa. Or is
that Satan? Just a quick swap of a letter or two, I always get confused
there…

Byzanthian Neckbeard – Minaton (November 1)

Ah, scenic Guernsey, home of the cow.

I shit you not, that’s what the region’s famous for. Prized dairy as well,
though that’s saying much the same thing.

So here’s something else they should be famous for: being home base for
these sinister sounding sludge/doom neanderthals.

Vocally and in terms of base heaviness crossed with utter (if appropriate)
simplicity, they bring fellow Britons Bolt Thrower to mind, though to call this
death metal would require quite a stretch, like referring to Goatlord as such.

Now, make no inference from that reference, the two bands are as far apart
as you can possibly imagine in terms of style and production quality…but
there is a certain “evil, molasses thick, peat bog/swampy take on doom” they
share in common. Nothing like one another, but kindred spirits of a sort…

The lyrics are often quite dumb, though…and there comes the one argument
towards their at least wanting to align themselves with death metal on some
level.

If you can deal with that much, you should find a whole lot to appreciate
herein, particularly if you like ’em low and slow and as thick in tone as they
come.