Monday, July 23, 2012

Portrait - Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae

Portrait occupy a strange space (especially for a new band) between NWOBHM, early Power Metal, and early Black Metal.  I know that sounds confusing, but all these Swedes want to do is sound like their idols in Mercyful Fate.  They do a pretty excellent job of satisfying the 'Fate craving without sounding like an overt rip-off.  They've taken the old template, modernized it, and bumped it up a notch in intensity.  The 'Fate comparison really gets made with the vocals, which have a King Diamond-esque melodic style, but are much more like a typical metal "scream" than a proper falsetto.  The tight, nimble guitar work is the other highlight here; showcasing different influences from Maiden-style gallops, to Black Metal tremolo picking.  My only complaint is that the drumming is far too linear and metronomic.  But otherwise this is a great, accessible record that'll appeal to many a metalhead.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fire & Ice - Not of This Earth

New York Hardcore by way of Richmond Virginia.  This reminds me a lot of fellow Richmond dudes Down to Nothing, but maybe slightly more metallic.  There's also a slight Rap influence to the vocals, very much akin to their influences Breakdown and Crown of Thornz.  But don't worry, they never end up sounding like Biohazard or anything, and the lyrics are anything but thuggish.  This is just super straight-forward Metalcore with killer riffs, near-perfect production, and some tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in too.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

No Mercy - Deathernity

In the endless ocean of mediocre Death Metal, I (so fortunately) stumbled across this monster.  Rhythmically, Deathernity is the most interesting album I've heard all year, along with Diskord's Dystopics.  These dislocated, stuttering grooves seem to be inspired by the expected world of Prog Death, the not-so-Death Metal realm of Mathcore, and all the way to the unheard-of plane of industrial and jungle.  It's true, I do detect an influence of electronic music.  Normally, that sort of thing would be grounds for me to banish a band to the recycle bin forever, but not here.  The "distant" production marries the effects with the instruments superbly.  The use of super-isolated drum sounds and solid-state  guitar amps create a uniquely "cold" atmosphere that's not at all sterile.    No Mercy have succeeded in combining extremely contrasting elements into one diverse, yet cohesive whole. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor

Have you guys ever put salad dressing on a sandwich?  If you haven't, you're really missing out.  I just took my bland supermarket sub to the next level by serving it with a side of Caesar dipping sauce.  What's next, bleu cheese?  The possibilities are endless!

I really didn't expect to like this record.  Their debut "Beheaded Ouroboros" bored me so much that I didn't even bother to download it for free.  Knowing that bands (no matter how supremely kult) do usually mature and diversify their sound is what led me to try it out.  This is exactly the case with The Grand Tormentor.  The production has been cleaned up, the speed is more varied, and the riffs are more memorable and palatable.  Witchrist haven't evolved into Death Metal royalty just yet, but have gone beyond their stylistic indulgence and become a formidable name in the international scene.  Together with Ulcerate, Witchrist are putting 'Aotearoa on the Death Metal map.