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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Terzij de Horde - A Rage of Rapture Against The Dying of Light EP



A Quiet Walk Through The Woods.

Terzij de Horde is a post-black metal band from the Netherlands. Starting out as a band Liar Liar Cross On Fire, the band grew away from their punk influenced grindcore roots into more atmospheric directions. This new EP really demonstrates a wider range of influences being accumulated into their sound.
The 4 songs on this EP range in style, length, and uniqueness. I won't say that these guys aren't promising, because from what they show on here, a debut should hold quite a few good things, but there are several things that just don't seem to fit. Frankly, this is all a personal matter more than anything, and if it doesn't apply to you, feel free to ignore it.
First of all the riffs, they're really different sounding, for black metal anyways. Having come from a more grindcore and punk kind of background, you can hear elements of hardcore and mathcore present within several parts of this album. A lot of parts within the longest track on the EP, Vertigo - A Mithraic Ritual, really bring sludge and doom to the table as well, with large amounts of feedback and slow, dirge-like riffs for a good portion of the track.
Most of the riffs are very aggressive sounding, very rarely sounding more calm. A lot of the stuff on here contains that sort of Converge kind of pent-up frustration and anger, which sounds a lot more real than some band that try to fake their way through that kind of real emotional stimulation. Some have tagged this group as having elements of screamo and hardcore in their music, little if any screamo can be found, while hardcore is mainly in the vocals.
Secondly, the vocals, which are the worst thing about the band, but it isn't that bad a thing. The vocals consist of Converge-esque screams that are frantic and aggressive sounding. What makes this the weak link in the band is that the screams are really the only vocal style that is used on here besides a few lower growls that are used more as back-up vocals.
Overall, this is a decent release from a band that shows a bit of promise. If you're into Converge or more experimental sides of -core music, or just want something a bit different, check these guys out. It's going to be interesting to see where these guys go with their music next.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: The Roots of Doomsday Anxiety, Non Timetis Messor

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Bitter Frost - Bitter Frost



It's In A Forest, But The Sun Is Out.

Bitter Frost is a progressive/avant-garde black metal project formed by Swedish Musician Christopher A. Erikson. This project has spanned numerous years and many other bands before finally coming to fruition. Utilizing his unique brand of black metal as well as many guests, this is one of the most unique forms of the genre to come out recently.
In today's musical landscape, black metal has proved to be one of the most flexible genres within metal, being able to combine itself with not only other metal genres, but styles outside of metal's boundaries and make itself change and meld with that genre. This proves to be so on Bitter Frost's debut album, being able to combine elements of traditional melodic black metal with what many probably never imagined and hoped would never occur, power and neoclassical metal. Erikson states that one of his earliest inspirations for picking up a guitar was Yngwie Malmsteen's "Rising Force" album, and that is evident within this album.
This album really does manage to explore many different elements that are usually not as prominent in black metal. The use of more neoclassical and power metal elements along with what could otherwise be looked at as a progressive symphonic black metal album, only provides this album an even more unique sound. The sounds found on here all very and can be taken from all of those genres, a track like Novus Ordo Seclorum is much more black metal oriented while Signs That Point to Nowhere demonstrates much more of the neoclassical style guitar playing. Possibly the only other band to even come close to this project would be Wintersun.
The use of 7 different vocals that range in style also make this for a unique listen. You have everything from traditional black metal screams to soaring power metal singing and death metal growls on here allowing for a massive degree of variety. For someone that likes variety this is one of the best things next to the stuff that Arjen A. Lucassen puts out.
Another thing about this album is that even though several tracks are long, none of the tracks really feel as long as they are. Tracks like Till Norr and Vulnere Virtus both top 8 minutes, the latter topping 10, but feel just as long as any other track on here. Even the epic, 4 part, the fifth is on the bonus edition, Oplexicon tracks, fit so well together and are structured so well, that it just seems to go by in a flash. There were very few tracks or moments on this album that felt out of place, the only song that I really had a problem with was the already mentioned Novus Ordo Seclorum where most of the vocals just didn't feel right with the song.
Overall this is a strong album with a lot to listen to and lots of variety. Definitely one of the more unique sounding albums I've heard in a long time, there is a lot going on within any given track. If you like music that is different and takes chances, look no further, check this out.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Astral, Nemesis, Vulnere Virtus, Oplexicon IV - Arrogance

Here Is A Link Where You Can Download His Album:
http://bitterfrost.bandcamp.com/album/special-edition-cd-2

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Celeste - Morte(s) Nee(s)



The Unlikely Couple.

Celeste is a hardcore/black metal group from France. They have made quite a name for themselves with their unique style in their few years of existence. This is the band's third full-length in their 5 year long career.
Celeste's style really consists of some of aggressive sounding blasts that push into your skull. Tracks utilizing elements of both Converge as well as Gorgoroth, hardcore aggression and the occasional breakdown with tremolo picked riffs and harshly screamed vocals. Their seems to be a surge of adrenaline that carries through every track, creating fast pacing for the faster tracks like Ces Belles De Rêve Aux Verres Embués but keeping the same intensity on slower tracks.
But besides all this aggression and a barrage of punches to the face, there is also a very prominent atmosphere dwelling within these tracks. I was surprised when someone mentioned the tag post-metal for this, as these guys don't really have the sort of building that one might find within that label. But I eventually found that while the music does not seem to move like waves, there are some elements of that genre to be found on this album. This album's overall sound is a wall, so much is coming at you all at once that it can be almost daunting at some points, hear En Troupeau Des Louves En Trompe L'oeil Des Agneaux for proof of this. When the band do actually slow down, the music does in fact air out.
The band, during some tracks, move into more of a doom influenced sound, not really hardcore or post-metal, because of the shear heaviness of the riffs aren't really layered or textured enough for the post-metal side and aren't fast enough for hardcore. Tracks like (S) or De Sorte Que Plus Jamais Un Instant Ne Soit Magique do this to a T, with riffs that are slow and epic sounding. These parts are actually some of the heaviest moments on the record in fact, not the constant assault of anger, but the slow and groovy tension filled sections that take the cake.
This is a really different record, due to the fact that I haven't heard their 2 previous releases, I can't say much, but I find this band to be really intriguing. The mix of styles may not be the most unique thing out there, but the sound of this record is just so full and big that it rivals records by Dimmu Borgir in terms of how epic it sounds. This is by no means as grandiose sounding as that, because this still maintains a raw edge to itself, but shear forcefulness is close to the same, if this doesn't beat Dimmu.
Overall, this is a strong record that has a lot of replay power. A different take on hardcore and black metal, not the sort of stuff like Abigail Williams, but much more entertaining and unique. If you're into something aggressive but has depth, check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Les Mains Brisées Comme Leurs Souvenirs, (S), De Sorte Que Plus Jamais Un Instant Ne Soit Magique

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ea - Au Ellai


Moves Like The Giant Uprising.

Ea is a funeral doom project from Russia. No members are known within the project, though the concept of this and the two record that preceded it are known. Focusing on ancient texts and civilizations and using dead languages within their music, this is no ordinary fd record.
Normally when you hear the term of funeral doom, you wouldn't be incorrect in assuming that this is the slowest thing out there next to drone and pure noise/ambient suites, but whether it's boring is really a matter of opinion. This record won't change your mind of the entire genre, but it safe to assume that this thing is probably a bit more entertaining than the average band playing their slowest to be cool. Things from the typical bag of tricks the genre has can be found on here, but there is a much more wider scope to the music on here then there seems to be a many other bands, but make no mistake this is still slow as can be, all 3 of the tracks on here top 10 minutes.
One thing that really seems to make this album, I have yet to hear their back catalog, so different is the use of obvious melodies. As soon as the first track, Aullu Eina, begins, the big guitar melody opens up and envelops you. Melody seems to play a very big part in this album, as it's not just droning chords that if you sped them up you could get a distinguishable line, they're clear from even the first listen. The use of guitar solos are also well used within here as well, which are not the most common thing in this genre.
Another thing that struck me with this album was the use of piano throughout the entire thing. Beautiful piano chords move seamlessly through tracks as an almost guiding force to the atmosphere, as more layers open up as a track moves forward. From what can be heard, most of the piano is actually used on this album, from the high and clearer sounding chords to even the low and bass ones, which is a nice contrast within just a single track.
Probably the biggest problem with this, and really the whole genre, is that the majority of bands aren't that memorable. Most things on this record are really great and cool sounding, but they really don't stick in your head that often; but, with that being said, this album has a greater chance of that than probably 90% of the other bands in the genre. There aren't a whole lot of specific parts that do get stuck, but every so often you might get a melody that you heard from this album popping up in your head.
Overall, this is one of the better funeral doom artists to come out in recent years. Making funeral doom into an original art statement, much in the same way groups like Esoteric, Thergothon, Skepticism, and Shape of Despair did. If you're into doom done slow but very melodically, check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Nia Saeli A Taitalae

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Hroptatyr - Auf Zu Neuen Ufern



Sail Across The Seas Of Metal.

Hroptatyr are a viking metal band from Germany. This is their debut recording and demonstrates the very folky side of the genre. Fans of this style will once again have another band to check out.
The overall sound of this record could simply be described as a mix between Bathory, Iron Maiden, and Týr, very melodic and folky. You'll find big gang choruses with loads of instrumentation behind a driving metal melody. The melodies are really catchy and easy to digest in the context of being a viking metal album, listen to Aus Der Asche.
This, by the way, is also not the same sort of viking metal that one would say Amon Amarth is, this recalls a lot more of the folk side of the genre. The band really seem a lot better when they do focus on the folk side of their sound, the side that features lots of melody, big gang choruses, and varieties of instruments. The acoustic guitars in tracks like Die Zeit Der Goetter Und Der Mythen and really add so much more to the tracks, keeping them for falling into just another viking metal band that's all brawn.
The vocals are varied enough on this album to keep a listener entertained for a while. Berserker really focuses more on the gruff clean vocals and hardcore-ish yells while it's follow-up track Die Schlacht uses a higher range of black metal screams. The vocals do contain a lot of variation and are definitely a strong point for this band.
Despite having a knack for melody, there is still more than enough cheese to go around on here. The gang vocals chanting "Oh-oh-oh" on Frankensturm or the short and fast clean chorus on a track like Der Sieg Und Seine Fruechte really are a little too much. Viking metal can be good, but it can also be a little laughable at times, both can be found on here.
Overall, this is a decent record when taken for what it is. This has some great melodies and choruses, and the song writing is good, if nothing else, these guys can craft something that will stick with you. Fans of the genre are going to find this irresistible, check it out if you want something fun and not to heady.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Der Weg Eines Helden, Aus Der Asche

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Castevet - Mounds of Ash



The Blistering Touch That Comes From Ashes.

Castevet is a black metal band trio from New York. This is the debut full-length release from a group that are more prominent in bands in the grindcore genre. This album was also produced by Collin Marston (Krallice, Behold... The Arctopus).
This is not just another straightforward black metal release, but that's fairly obvious considering who produced the record. This contains much more influence from thrash, punk, and death metal within it's darkened assault. The record is full of dynamics and soundscapes that would not be expected from what is considered a "black metal" release. Even within the opening track, Red Star Sans Chastity, there are plenty of atmospheric and melodic shifts that don't sound forced or even like it's out of place at all.
Having only a trio allows every member of the band to be heard on here, but once again this is also a thanks to Marston's production. The vocals are rougher than and a bit more death metal sounding than most black metal, but it still works very well with the sound achieved on this disc. The riffs played shift between progressive-punk influenced stuff, Stones, to more atmospheric clean work, hear the title-track, Mounds of Ash, which by the way is a great title. The rhythm section is always pounding away keeping things a bit more grounded and focused on keeping things together. The bass on here, by the way, wouldn't sound off in a sludge metal outfit, it retains a very distorted sound throughout and really is wonderfully played.
Musically, once again the whole punk mixed with atmospheric progressive black metal (that's a mouthful) is just fantastic. There is so much achieved on here it makes out debut albums look so boring in comparison. There is so much raw emotion and intensity that really shines through on this record, but this record is in no way under produced.
The songwriting on here is so dynamic and creative. Riffs stick around just long enough to get caught in your head before leaving, while the rhythm section is often playing the backdrop to the entire song, keeping everything in line. Tracks like the aforementioned Stones and the final track, Harvester, are just so crushingly heavy, but also so melodically catchy that it is a wonder that these guys are just now putting out a full-length with all the tallent shown here.
Overall, this is a great record and hopefully a start to a line of great records. Once again, Profound Lore Records has put out a fantastic release that just blows most other label's away in terms of consistency. If you're a fan of experimental black metal, these guys are right up your alley.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Red Star Sans Chastity, Stones, Harvester

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Azahel's Fortress - The Chaos Kingdom



Take The Lead Young One.

Azahel's Fortress is a black metal project from Austria. This is their first release after the 2005 debut album "Secrets of The Forest." This album shows an improved sense of song-writing and crafting.
The music itself is very good, as mentioned above, shows a very good sense of song-writing and craft. Right when Slaves of The Throne begins, some influences or similarities can be drawn immediately. The riffs on here are very melodic, repetitive and catchy, and all that leads back to Satyricon, but there are some more dissonant and odd riffs that show a bit of Blut Aus Nord or Abigor styled experimentalism. There is also plenty of variety, tracks that are full bore blast-beating black metal, like The Pagan Sun, but you also have moments of mid-tempo stuff, Dark Forest Kingdom, that is just as good.
The vocals on here are very raw and have that classic sort of black metal vibe to them, where they sound almost on the verge of being rabid. The vocals, despite their old-school kind of approach, really fits the music, and is even distinguishable enough to be understood. This does wonders for this release, really making it so much more accessible than otherwise.
The bass on here is really well done, it can always be heard and it has a nice woody tone to it. There are several tracks where you can just hear a nice low thump from the bass. Unlike a lot of bands, the bass is actually worth listening to when it comes out, though there will never be a bass solo.
Overall, this is a very good release that shows a lot of potential for being a big hit, for black metal anyway. The songs on here feature a sort of technical version of modern day Satyricon. Definitely worth checking out if you're into catchy and melodic black metal with an edge of experimental nature in it.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Slave of The Throne, Dark Forest Kingdom, Behind A Mirror of Chaos

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Odem Arcarum - Outrageous Reverie Above The Erosion of Barren Earth



There Once Was A Band That Made An Epic Album With An Epic Title.

Odem Arcarum is a progressive black metal band from Germany. The band started back in 1995, but didn't release their debut full-length until 2003, 7 years later the band have finally released their sophomore record. This record is the first record to feature Ar on it as well.
For the entire line-up of the group that comprise Odem Arcarum right now you have C.A. (Seal) on drums, Zahak on bass, Skoarth (Lunar Aurora, Somber Serenity) on guitars, and Ar (Secrets of The Moon, Sael, Negura Bunget) on vocals, guitar, bass, and keys. With members of some of the most well respected and forward thinking black metal groups on this album, you can guarantee that this will not be a simple, traditional black metal record. The first record by this Odem Arcarum was just that, a fairly traditional sounding black metal record with elements that made them worth looking at, such as expressive and catchy song writing. Both continue on this record, but are much more than one might have expected, if you weren't aware of the line-up.
The production on here really is as close to perfect as one might expect for a black metal band. The sound is raw and allows for full-force aggression to be shown, but it is also lush and filled with texture, making allowing this record to seem much more 3 dimensional. Lush flourishes of keys flow through the background while occasionally rising up like waves, crashing over everything else, experience this near the end of Oceans.
The music itself is so much more progressive than one might have thought after listening to the debut from the band. The riffs are so much more dissonant, but also melodic, progressive and catchy, so much more than one might ask for in this case. While the main core of most of the riffs are still very black metal tremolo picked, it is much more expansive sounding, used in a lot of more atmospheric ways, hear Loss, or the beautiful melodies that soar through The Body & Perpetual Imagination. The bass on the other hand, is wonderfully played, always audible and at times even played melodically or jazzy.
Every track on here is like a journey, with songs ranging from just over 7 minutes to over 16 minutes in length. The epic of the album, the 16 minute Hell & Revelation, is the most captivating piece on this album, recalling elements of later period Emperor or Ihsahn's solo material. This track is absolutely breathtaking, despite it's length, it never once loses your attention, with enough going on to always keep you on your toes.
Overall, this is one of the most complete records of this year. Band can sometimes spend their entire career and never achieve this sort of dynamic and unique sound, and these guys have done it on their second record. If you're a fan of progressive or experimental music, or black metal, this is a must for this year.
Overall Score: 9.5
Highlights: Every Track Is A Highlight

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Sleeping Village - Fragments EP



Too Much Noise.

Sleeping Village is an atmospheric black metal band from Italy. This is their second EP and follows suit with that record with a very Burzum influenced sound. The sound quality of this release might be a little off putting, but for those that are into this style, they'll be used to it.
The sound on here is very raw and hazy sounding for the most part. This can really do wonders for the cloudy sound, keeping things in the dark, so to speak, by making things noisy and hard to really decipher. The guitars are extremely distorted and keep this sound through all 4 tracks, and this is probably the worst thing about the entire EP, the guitar sound. Everything else on here has a sound that fits very well with the sound I could imagine these guys going for, very open and dreamy soundscapes that makes for great ambient and post-rock vibes.
Post-rock is exactly where this band's sound is the greatest on this EP. In the opening track, My Quality of Being, most of the track is heavy and slow distorted metal with a strong presence of ambient work behind all the noise, but during several moments within the track, cleaner guitars playing very post-rock/dream pop kind of stuff emerges and really makes the track. Most tracks do tend to at least explore this realm, which is a good thing, and it never seems to wear on you after listening to this several times.
The vocals are not the strongest part of this band, reminiscing a bit of old Burzum. Basically you'll find that the style on here comprises of high banshee screams and some low roars. The vocals aren't all that high in the mix and don't appear all that often, so it doesn't really dampen this record too much.
Probably the most out of place track on here would be the 8 minute ambient/drone piece, Out-of-The-Way. This track really just is meant for background music, for the most part you get low drones with some weird synthe work over the top of it to try and make this all trippy and spacey. This track really doesn't seem to fit in with how the record was flowing together.
Overall, this is an alright EP, if you're a fan of this stuff. Hopefully the duo decide to experiment more with the shoegaze/post-rock stuff on their next release. If you were disappointed by Burzum's new record, check this out, it'll be in a similar vein to his stuff.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: My Quality of Being

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Clair Cassis - Clair Cassis



Out Of A Cacoon Into A Butterfly.

Clair Cassis is an atmospheric black metal band from Oregon. This project was born out of the ashes of founding duo's previous band, Velvet Cacoon. This project really seems to carry along with the same sort of principle style as that band did.
The sound of this band, and mainly this album, definitely have similarities to Velvet Cacoon. The sound on here is very based on the atmospheric and ambient sound, one of the few bands that actually manage to suit their title, allowing the music to be very open and spacey. You won't find a lot of blast-beat driven parts on here, slower, more shoegaze type riffs and playing is the real sort of style. The music is once again done with influence from drugs, drug trips, and luxurious life styles. Josh's voice is still high and very screeching, but is still farther back in the mix so it doesn't provide a big problem.
This album is not particularly long, being just over 30 minutes, which when compared to other artists within the genre, or even the duo's previous incantation, are never that short, usually being closer or above 40 minutes. Most tracks on here don't even break the 5 minute mark, but while being short, are certainly filled with enough content to please older fans of the group, hear tracks like Our Overwintering In The Ivories or Noctilucent Petrichor. The short length of songs makes this a lot more accessible than the latter albums from VC, that contained tracks 20 minutes, by this I'm referring to the ambient "Atropine" record.
The music on here could be seen as a lot more melodic and less blazing. The sound on here is not harsh, once again, recalling more of a shoegaze and ambient more than black metal, though a track like Pearls & Pinesmoke does bring that much more to the forefront of the sound. The melodic edge makes things on here far more catchy and ear friendly, worthy of several listens.
It was brought to my attention in another review for this record that besides the main duo of Josh (vocals, guitar) and Angela (bass), that a new member had been brought into the fold. The band have now hired a drummer, d.Marvin and brought him into the writing process, a position previously held only by Josh. This seems to have really done wonders for this debut, allowing the percussion to have so much more variety than the simplistic drum patterns used within VC.
Overall, this is a good debut, and a welcome addition to an experimental fan's collection. While the band still have their core sound in black metal and their goal in creating atmosphere dominating music, the melodies on here are far easier to get into. If you want to check out something that is a bit easier to get into than someone like Xasthur, this is where to look.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: The Feathered Fog, Pearls & Pinesmoke

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Forest Silence - Winter Ritual EP



And It Brought The Cold.

Forest Silence is an ambient black metal project from Hungry. Started in the mid-90s as a side project for then Sear Bliss keyboardist Winter. The first full-length was released back in 2006 to a moderate degree of success in underground scenes.
Despite being an EP, this release is longer than some albums, being just over 41 minutes. 3 of the 5 tracks on here are over 9 minutes long, so you can expect long building tracks. A lot of these tracks actually manage to have some parts that actually manage to live up to the tag given to them, instead of playing coy trying to be something more. But, just to mention as well, that only the first two tracks on here are actually new songs, the other three are from a 2002 demo.
This EP is very much ambient and atmospheric, there's no getting around that, plenty of open sounding black metal is found on here, and even within the first track, The Symbol, there are breaks from brutality into pure ambiance. The use of ambient textures can be seen so much clearer in a project like this when you compare it to an artist like Xasthur, who does something much less textural.
It's almost weird as to how different this sounds, it's not the most original thing out there, but it's strangely different from anything I've ever listened to before from this genre. The keys on here provide, the aforementioned textures, so much more depth, and when the music goes into a slightly more ambient part, recalling bits of post-rock at points. The bass is also especially louder than what I expected, actually having a few catchy lines in the title-track, Winter Ritual.
Probably the worst thing about this EP are the 3 old tracks, which seem to have been left in the state they were in when it was first released. Their production is drastically worse and much more raw sounding, there is still plenty of depth in the tracks, but they are a far cry from the 2 first tracks. The overall vibe of these tracks does in fact compare a lot more to the sound of Xasthur. The last track, Silence, does have a bit of a different vibe though, being almost a completely ambient track.
Overall, this is a decent EP where the two new tracks are very promising. If you were a fan of the debut full-length these newer tracks should get you pretty excited. If you're a fan of more textural black metal that is still very kvlt, check this out.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: The Symbol, Winter Ritual

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The Body - All The Waters of The Earth Shall Turn to Blood



The Slower Avant-Guard.

The Body is a sludge metal duo from Rhode Island. Taking bits of other more "creative" genres and mixing them together is what really makes this album different. If you're expecting something like Neurosis or old Mastodon, take a step back and prepare for things to get a little weird.
This record begins how few, if any, would expect it do. This will not blow you away with lots of distortion and powerful bass, instead, the opener, A Body, begins the album with about 7 minutes of a female choir chanting. This is irregular for almost any record to begin this way, unless it was a record of for a female choir, but it starts this album off on a very odd and left-field note. Once the 7 minute mark is reached a high pitched drone enters and begins to drown out the choir. The duo then begin to play the typical sludge/doom riff with their screaming vocals, in these final two minutes of the first track, a lone female singer will be heard, as well as some more orchestral like noises in the background of the band playing.
This record is really avant-garde sounding compared to any other sludge that I've heard. The use of a lot of different sounds, from the female choir of the first track to use of hip-hop, glitch, ambient, as well as others. One of the strangest things was the chanting used in Empty Hearth, which has a droning throat sound behind the chant, and glitches breaking the chants up. It can be a challenge to even put a label on this to try and define it due to all the left-field additions within this record.
When the duo do decide to make a song that is, for the most part, a regular doom/sludge track, it's a little bit more rugged and dark. These tracks don't really go forth with crusty vibe, seeming to have more in common with the darker ends of funeral doom or drone, listen to the epic closer Lathspell I Name You. The vocals add a bit of black metal flair to the track due to the shrieking nature of them. The drums on the other hand are really the only thing that brings the punk nature to the music, keeping things very hard hitting and doing fills every so often, really adding another color to the songs.
Overall, this is a very odd album, and at times is hard to even call metal. If you're into very strange, and certainly original, music than I would recommend you check this out. Not an easy record, but if you want something that is very engaging and demanding of the listener, this is for you. This is one odd ball of a record.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Even The Saints Knew Their Hour of Failure and Loss, Ruiner

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Averse - The Endesque Chants



The 70's Always Did Have The Best Metal.

Averse is a French progressive black metal band. The band take influences from 70's progressive rock and avant-garde music along with more modern progressive metal bands. This is easily one of the more unique debuts this year.
While the sound on here is most definitely progressive black metal, like all bands with that tag, it does have a sound that is quite different from another band. Within the 5 members of the band is a violin player that is actually heard right from the start of this album. Another thing that is quite unique is the dynamic shifts that the band use within tracks.
This album contains only 6 songs, 3 of which are over 15 minutes long. These tracks really have an Opeth kind of structural styling, where they'll often shift from heavy and aggressive to mellow and jazzy. The 70's influence is very prevalent in every track, the band even hire session musicians to perform clarinet and harp on here. Songs have a lot of dynamics within them and manage to always keep you on your toes. Every track has at least one thing that is ear catching in some way and that proves to be very appealing to someone that can listen to progressive music, or someone that just likes to listen to various kinds of music.
The musicianship on here is just impeccable, from both the metal and the progressive sides. The metal side explore more areas of black, doom, and post-metal, usually focusing more of slower and mid-paced riffs, but occasionally they'll break out and go full on like the beginning of Fleetingness of Solar Happiness where the band just breaks into a very unusual black metal section. The prog side of the band is spectacular, ranging from almost singer-songwriter like folk on tracks like the pair I'm Not Scared of Music Anymore and Breathing Eyelids, really showing influences from artists like Tim Buckley and Nick Drake to prog rock on a track like the opener, Translating Your Name Into Numbers, which really brings to mind elements of King Crimson and Yes. As much as numerous influences are contained within here, the band never manage to sound like carbon copies of their influences.
The production on here really makes the music so much better, allowing everything to be heard. Little details emerge from beneath lustrous walls of sound, like near the end of the title-track, The Endesque Chants, subtle chiming sounds can be heard. The rich sound really makes this so much clearer and opens it up to allow for such details to be heard, which would otherwise be lost within the complexity of the music.
Overall, this is a fantastic record that anyone should definitely check out. Probably it's only flaw is that some of the tracks are a bit lengthy, but even that's a stretch, because if a track is good, the longer the better. Definitely one of the most unique debut albums I've heard, check these guys out for sure. This is highly recommended.
Overall Score: 9.5
Highlights: Every Song Is A Highlight

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Temnozor - Урочища Снов



The Folkin' Way.

Temnozor is folk/black metal band from Russia. The group originally began in 1996 and have continued to expand since then, releasing 3 albums that have garnered them some success in foreign countries. This is their fourth full-length and it continues on their path of including more folk elements into their sound.
As soon as the spoken word/ambient folk intro of Вежды мора ends, Бусовы враны begins blasting you in the face. Tracks on here contain your traditional sounding melodic black metal but with the obvious inclusion of folk instruments, most notably the flute. Unlike what most are probably thinking, this does not lead the band into viking/pagan territory of gang chants and epic songs speaking the gods of war and viking heritage, but then again this band is from Russia, so it would be a bit pointless to go that route, nor does it lead them into the full-blown folk metal direction, with upbeat songs that include big choruses that speak of odd fairytale lands. If you took out all of the folk instruments on this album, you'd be left with that melodic black metal sound and some gruff sounding clean vocals.
Even within all of this easily definable and distinguishable sound, the band still manage to have certain traits in their music that can be traced to more unlikely sources. Солнцеврат-коляда is the most melodic track on the album, utilizing mostly clean vocals for most of the track as well as using riffs that would sound a bit more appropriate in a heavy metal song. The band even include a very unlikely ballads on the album, Урочища снов and Сердце журавлиных просторов, that are perfect mood setters, using acoustic guitars and clean chants while keyboards add light touches to the overall sound of the track.
Even more than the previous releases, the band seem to be increasing the use of clean vocals in their sound. Old time fans may not find this as pleasing as constant roars and screeches did on early albums, they are still here, but the cleans range from whispers to gang chants to almost soulful like bellows. Over time a band becomes increasingly aware of how to use each ability that they have been given and make use of it in certain ways, and it seems like the band is learning that the singers on here can make some very unique sounds and enhance their originality.
Overall, this is a record that surprised me, I did not anticipate liking this as much as I did and eventually found some tracks to become highly addictive. Very different sounding than other releases within the folk/black metal genre this year. If you're a fan of Bathory, or any band that decided to take their later work and develop it further, than you should definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Солнцеврат-коляда, Братина утра, Сердце журавлиных просторов

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Defuntos - Invocação aos Mortos



Transilvanian Hunger Is Still Feasting On Bands.

Defuntos is a blackened doom duo from Portugal. This is the duo's fourth full-length in their 5 year existence. Taking a lot of their sound from the raw and more primal side of black metal, this is a record, and band, that is not for everyone.
Just to make this clear to anyone reading this before reading any further, if you expect any sort of black metal, or at least some form of black metal that contains anything that would even keep a new fan of the genre listening, you will not find that on here. This is just to address a point that most people will most likely find this the most kvlt thing out there in a long time. I won't try and dishearten you from checking this out based on what you read or already know of this band, but let me simply warn you with the following statements.
First of all, I have to say that this is about as kvlt as I would ever consider a band getting. The production is very raw, very lo-fi, and very dark. What little that occurs within these 3 tracks can be heard and analyzed by even the most casual listener.
Secondly, if you expect to get pummeled by pounding drums, wretched vocals, or buzzing guitars, let this serve as a deal breaker, sorry if this ruins your perspective on this. There are no guitars on this album, the duo simply make use, most of the time, of drums, bass, and vocals, with a piano every so often. The drums are very minimal and downplay most of what is going on, keeping things on here very doomy. The bass lines are repetitive and are the foremost melody provider on this album. The vocals are in fact sung in a very mournful and depressive way and ever occasionally enter into an almost wine, they are not screamed.
Finally, the real tracks on here, this excludes the organ interlude, Cemitério Ardente, are just way too long. Both tracks top 15 minutes, and really don't seem to move anywhere, ending pretty much in the same place you began. This probably proves the biggest hindrance to the album.
But on a more positive note, I will say that the band certainly can create an atmosphere. This is incredibly minimal in terms of structure, performance, and sound but that in turn actually makes this album incredibly potent when achieving a very dreary vibe. Unlike most of the depressive projects that have popped up in recent years, the atmosphere on this is much more morose and depressing.
Overall, this is a very dark record. This is the type of record that is created when you go up listening to early Darkthrone and Burzum records and you have to record in a bad studio. If you're looking for a very brooding and morbid sounding record from a very underground band, check this out.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: Funeral De Memórias

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Forgive Me - Last Drop of Life



Sadness Fills The Cup.

Forgive Me is a depressive black metal project from Jordan. Formed by Lord Azmo of the funeral doom project of the same name. The intention of this project was to create and represent the absolute form of sorrow within a musical context.
Beginning with the intro, January: Entrance For The Ending, you can almost assume that this is, or at least can be seen as, a concept album. Suicide, depression, unhappiness, all of these and more can be found in here, but seem to actually be a bit more "real" than most of these other bands popping up now. The very raw sound that many bands seem to use to try and convey their sadness is on here, and it's undeniable that it doesn't do to much from a listening perspective for most listeners, unless you're really into that; but on here, while remaining raw, sounds more dreary and mournful, rather than tiresome and sad.
The production really keeps a lot of the record in a haze. The guitars are very fuzzy and distorted, while moving a slower, more moody pace creating the room for the harsh screams and low spoken word vocals; by the way, the vocals are lower in the mix. The drums are, like one might expect, very minimalistic and feature little variation from a strict pattern to keep the mood dark and morose.
Probably the worst thing, I found about this album is that some tracks really just seem to blend together. While there certainly are tracks that stick out, like Forgotten Tomb cover of Springtime Depression, a track that really seems to get the point across, or the longer and more indulgent tracks like Life = Nightmare that just seem to bring a lot more melody to the table, a lot of tracks don't really differ in sound all that much from the one before it. The Forgotten Tomb cover, by the way, still has the safe effect here as it did on the original album it came from, with a truly morbid and self-loathing sense of atmosphere pervading throughout it's performance.
Overall, this feels like just another depressive black metal band trying to convey their sorrow. I won't deny that this album feels a bit more real, emotionally, than some of the others, but the vision I don't find any more satisfying. If you're a fan of that style, check this out, otherwise, there are some other guys in the genre that will get your blood curling and your eyes dreary.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Life = Nightmare, My Wretched Branch

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The Sarcophagus - Towards The Eternal Chaos



More Black Than They Thought Was Possible.

The Sarcophagus is a black metal band from Turkey. This two-piece enlisted the help of vocalist extraordinaire, Niklas Kvarforth (Shining), for the vocals on this album. Having existed well over a decade, they only put out their debut record, this one, last year.
After a fairly epic intro track, Towards The Eternal Chaos, which actually manages to set a mood of pretty much that, chaos. Piano, strings, war bells and percussion are littered throughout that 3 minutes intro and can serve to give you a mental picture of what is coming next. The Legend Sleeps Behind The Mountains is a monstrous track that manages to stay on the rails of melody while swaying into that chaotic area every so often that it keeps your attention.
For those that are aware of Kvarforth's usual style of screaming, which is what he does on this album by the way, you know kind of what to expect, vocally. On here you get a very dramatic style of screaming that ranges from regular black metal screams to low bellows to deranged yells. In a world of black metal vocalists that sound the same for the most part, Kvarforth is one of the few that has a distinguishable style, which can be found on here as much as in his other projects and bands.
Musically, the band ride in between the melodic black metal, ala Dissection, on tracks like Hymn to Awakening, while going for a more an atmospheric vibe on a track like The Sarcophagus, which by the way, has one of the best vocal moments on the album. Every track remains to a very melodic riffing style with blasting drums, this does not mean constant blast-beats by the way. Even the bit of folky melodies that rarely seem to enter the band's sound is very cool and, while not groundbreaking in any way, is done tastefully enough to not seem cheesy, hear Anatolian Dragons for proof.
This is, overall, a decent record that proved to be well worth revisiting. Taking plenty of influences into account and using them wisely enough to not sound like a total rehashing of that band, these guys manage to create a record that is both catchy and not at all boring. Kvarforth's vocals are just the icing on the burning black metal cake, check this out if you haven't already.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: The Legend Sleeps Behind The Mountains, Age of Demons, Under The Lunar Eclipse

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Celestia - Archaenae Perfectii - L`arche Arcane des Parfaits



None So Idle.

Celestia is a black metal band from France. Having been started in the mid 90s, it wasn't till 2002 when the band was finally able to release a full-length album. Nowadays Noktu is the only remaining member from the first line-up and continues to be the principal songwriter.
Starting out with acoustic guitars, one would wonder if Noktu wanted to go into a more post-black metal sound, but you would be proven wrong. Once the intro portion of the opening track, Grandiohsia Obverturae/Vue Du Ciel, ends, the normal sound comes out. This album is pretty much a punch in the face kind of black metal done with a bit of a rock'n'roll spirit that manages to go off the beaten path every so often.
This whole album is pretty consistent with old-school black metal sounds. The production has a rawness to it, no produced layering or high quality stuff on here, giving it a very live kind of sound. Saying this, don't misinterpret it meaning that this is in a Darkthrone kind of sound, think more of a Mayhem sort of vibe. This is the type of album where you could just picture the guys playing these songs in a rehearsal room together.
What is most surprising throughout this album, is the incorporation of certain touches of other artists within the format of Celestia. On Dogmatii Duality/Au Crepuscule Sous Les Larmes you get a bit of the post-black metal/blackgaze style mentioned before hinting at a bit of Alcest, Neige was in this band for a time as well, using acoustic guitars, more moody tremolo picking progressions, and a more sombre atmosphere throughout the track. Phoenemenae of Creation takes on a bit of a Shining kind of flavor throughout the track, which contains some of the best vocals on the album on it, with a bit of a darker mood then other songs.
Overall, this is a decent album that has some really great traditional sounding black metal on with a few experiments in it. This album is under 35 minutes so it's not that long either, really showing you a bit more than what might have been expected in a short amount of time. If you're into old-school black metal that leans a bit to left field, this is worth checking out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Demhiurghic Deity (Devilution), Dogmatii Duality/Au Crepuscule Sous Les Larmes

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Amestigon - Sun of All Suns



The Sound Of The Future Coming.

Amestigon is an ambient/industrial black metal band from Austria. This is their debut full-length after several splits, EPs, and demos since their original inception in 1993. This debut seems to really collect bits of their past work, as well as bits of the member's side projects together into a cacophony of black metal.
Over the band's 10 year plus existence, this is their first full-length due to numerous line-up problems over the years. Members left, then came back into the fold with newer takes on their presence with the group. Members include Lanz (Dominion III) on guitar and bass, Tharen (Dominion III, Dargaard, Abigor) on drums, vocals, and keyboards, Herr Wolf on guitars, and Silenius (Abigor, Summoning) on vocals. The presence of some of these projects can, as stated above, be heard within this album.
The sound on here is a unique take on a left-field approach towards more straightforward black metal, creating something that is a bit off. Musically, the sounds on here are black metal, but at some cases a bit slower than usual, Sun of All Suns, sometimes at a normal breakneck pace, Satanic Flesh. It's really the atmospheres that make this album sound a bit different, while atmosphere, for any fan of black metal this is common knowledge, is one of, if not the, most important thing in black metal, the atmosphere on here is not as mystic or open sounding. One could take this as an influence from the more industrial side of Dominion III and Abigor's more recent excursions due to the very, almost modern vibe from the ambiance.
The band also has quite a love for moving into more "progressive" routes on here as well. On a track like Daymares, Ketamine & Misanthropy, the band move into some mellow and more open moments where the music is able to breathe a bit more. Despite having tendencies into the more open territories, one wouldn't accidentally mistake these guys for having quite as much progressive tendencies as Enslaved, but this is more of a flirtation with the genre more than an overall embrace of it.
The production on here is also very well done. Throughout the entire album, the bass can always be heard and has a distinguishable voice within the overall sound numerous times. The guitars are rough and aggressive, but when they get more mellow and jazzy, hear That Which Is Falling..., things still maintain the same level of clearness. The vocals are loud, but not really at the very top of the mix, it sounds more like the guitars and vocals are about the same level.
Overall, this is a very good album that has a lot to offer any black metal fan. If you're a fan of any of the bands listed above, these guys are right up your alley. While they may not be the most noticed band around, these guys are doing something a bit different from your average black metal band by not fully embracing every influence, but allowing them to casually come into their sound. Check these guys out.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Daymares, Ketamine & Misanthropy, That Which Is Falling...

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El Scar - The Human Instrumentality Project



It Says Instrumentality, But It Has Vocals.

El Scar is a djent/tech metal project from the UK. Created by guitarist, composer, and main creator Marc Le Cras, this album was intended to be his major project for college, but he also made it available to the public as well. This is really another one of those djent bands popping up right now.
As soon as the intro, A Transfer, ends, A Human Work just pummels you with a heavy groove. The overall sound on here consists of extremely heavy, 8-string guitars pounding you with the main grooves while there may also be a clean guitar in the background adding a bit more ambiance to the track. It's almost a bit off-putting at times because the 8-string is just so heavy and down-tuned that the cleaner guitar really doesn't have the intended effect, I would presume, of giving the track a bit more depth and texture, sometimes just sounding like one really heavy guitar and one lighter clean guitar separate from each other.
Vocals were provided by Cras' ex-band mate, Jack Fletcher, and while there are vocals on most tracks, they are obviously not the main focal point of the sound. Fletcher's vocals aren't really what this project needs, often being just a hardcore-like yell or a lower growl more reminiscent of deathcore/metalcore; but occasionally you'll get some decent singing, hear Introjection, where it seems to benefit the track a bit more. For those that aren't a fan of the vocals, it's a lucky thing that the vocals aren't mixed all that high in the final mix, remaining behind the guitars for most tracks.
Probably the biggest problem, if you would call it that, is that several of the tracks on here feel very incomplete compared to others. When you listen to a track like A Hedgehog's Dilemma or Weaving A Story, they sound more like ideas rather than actual tracks/songs like The Beginning and The End or Tears. The feeling of completeness of this album is lacking with tracks like this on here, but the songs that are more full, are actually very promising.
Overall, this is an alright album, with several good ideas, some not as great and not really as developed. There is a lot of talent and potential here, lets hope Cras can create something even better next time. If you're a fan of artists like Meshuggah, Fear Factory, or the djent genre, check this out.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Ambivalence, The Beginning and The End, Rebirth

Here Is The Link Where You Can Download His Album For Free:
http://elscar.bandcamp.com/