Monday, October 14, 2013

Pentagram - The Malefice

Being that I’m so into Death Metal, it’s a wonder why I haven’t heard of this Pentagram before.  Perhaps it’s because they’re from a country that isn’t really known for contributing to the genre.  Unfortunate as The Malefice is some excellent early 90’s Death Metal that deserves to be an honored release from that era.  The remaster job is excellent too, as the impact and clarity here surpass even most American and Swedish releases from the time.  Nothing particularly different on offer, just great, mid-paced Death Metal.  It’s the intense attitude and quality songwriting that really shine.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Aeternus - ...And So The Night Became

…And So The Night Became was the second Black Metal album I ever bought when I was just 13.  I remember being initially reeled in by the ultra-grim, black and red cover.  Back then I was rather on the fence about it because of its dreary, repetitive nature.  Now, listening to it with mature ears I realize just how much of an overlooked gem it really is.  Until their most recent album, this was Aeternus’ best work full of memorable riffs, tight musicianship and great atmosphere.  What really sets this album apart, though, is the quality of the clean, slow parts.  You see, in most Metal, folk instruments and clean guitars are really just a novelty.  Aeternus are such well-rounded musicians, though, that their mellow moments are every bit as good as the Blackness that is the bulk of their material.  Like Setherial’s Nord, and Emperor’s Anthems,  …And So The Night Became represents the best of the late 90’s Norwegian scene.

Witherscape - The Inheritance

You know what?  I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything by Dan Swano before.  With this new Witherscape album the time couldn’t be any better.  For me, Swano’s projects have always been hit or miss.  Thankfully, though, The Inheritance is the best thing he’s done since the first Bloodbath album 11 years ago.  You could consider this like a new Edge of Sanity album (as that’s the sound that he’s pulling from the most), but with a healthy dose of newer Rush added in.  The inheritance is definitely a Swano album through and through, but a little less Death Metal and a little more Heavy Prog than he’s known for.  One of the best albums of the year!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ouroboros - Glorification of a Myth

After a very long hiatus, I'm back with an overlooked Tech Death gem (which is what most of you have come to expect by now).  This one came recommended to me from the good folks over at youtube.  I wouldn't give this album a chance for so long because it already had two strikes against it: the word "ouroboros" is in their name (which has become a huge cliche in recent years), and it has a very annoying, Deathcore-ish album cover.  Once I finally looked past the flaws of the facade I was treated to some pretty awesome progressive and melodic Death Metal.  Ouroboros remind me a lot of later-era Death mixed with the modern styles of Decrepit Birth.  Glorification of a Myth isn't very "out there" or new, but it definitely delivers.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Demon Lung - The Hundredth Name

With hipster-friendly Doom now bigger than ever, it's a wonder how I can find anything good in this sea of shit.  Recently though, I'm in luck as Demon Lung have stepped forward with The Hundredth Name.  Sounding like a darker and all-around better version of Witch Mountain, Demon Lung manifest thick riffs and trancelike vocal melodies.  This will put you back in your depressive hole that you've been missing since February.

Deeds of Flesh - Portals to Canaan

Say what?  Why is Deeds of Flesh (often considered the most boring Brutal Death band) on this blog?  Well, it's because DoF have changed a lot in the past ten years.  They've created one of the top Death Metal albums of the year.  Like Unleashed did a year ago and Hate Eternal did the year before, Deeds of Flesh have shed the shackles of mediocrity and have started to write worth while music.  Portals to Canaan very much has the "Unique Leader" sound; cleanly produced Suffocation-style Death, fast and technical.  But they still manage to leave just enough human feel to make it listenable.  Deeds haven't redefined the genre, but they have laid down a beyond-solid effort for Death freaks by Death freaks.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Asgard - Outworld

Apparently, there are 20 bands with the name Asgard, though I'm pretty sure this one is the best.  They deliver some killer 80's Power Metal with sweet riffs and hooks.  Straightforward stuff without any prog tendencies or shredding, in fact, the techinicality level is pretty average.  What really sets this band apart is the absurdly high vocal range of of the singer Federico.  He seems to effortlessly go from the standard alto to well into "chipmunk" territory.  It would be a treat to witness him accurately reproduce these notes live.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Illuminati - The Core

These guys really had me fooled.  I was absolutely convinced that this was an Atheist side project, and to those of us that have been waiting persistently for the follow-up to Jupiter, The Core is the next best thing.  Of course, the Atheist comparisons make more sense when you read that Kelly Shaefer and Tony Choy guest on the album.  In fact, the guest spots on here are a literal "who's who?" of Prog Death with: Patrick Mameli (Pestilence), Luc Lemay (Gorguts), and Tymon Kruidenier (Cynic) all making noticeable appearances.  What prevents me from totally soiling myself with excitement are the "conceptual" spoken word tracks between each song (which leave only 22 mins of actual musical material).  Even if I understood Romanian I would still think they were just worthless fillers.  Even so The Core is still a tremendously promising effort.  Next time though, can you give us a full album please?

Boss Keloid - The Calming Influence of Teeth

This band has probably the worst name I've come across all year.  Suprisingly, though, they produce some of the best "Beard Metal" I've heard in some time as well.  Imagine a hybrid of Crowbar and Kylesa, only mathier.  The production is decent, but I wish it had the seismic low-end of those old Crowbar jams.  Pretty sweet overall.  Definitely recommended!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Svart Crown - Profane

It's been over two years since I last posted something from Svart Crown so it's high time for a new release from this French cult.  There's been some moderate changes since their impressive "Witnessing the Fall".  They've increased their Death Metal tendencies and are showcasing a stronger Immolation influence.  There also seems to be a modern Hardcore influence creeping in, especially with the vocals.  What you end up with is a diverse, well-played album of Blackened Death Metal dotted with pleasant suprises.

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Holy Moses - Terminal Terror

Holy Moses may be known as a Progressive Thrash band, but in their early days I would say they were more akin early Death Metal.  Some of that is from the lyrical subject matter, but most is from the sloppy, growly vocals that remind me much of Obituary.  Had this album come out two years earlier in '89, I think it definitely would be compared to revered releases of the early American school like Leprosy and Slowly We Rot.  Terminal Terror is simple, primal, and effective.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dormant Ordeal - It Rains, It Pours

This is the new Death Metal band that you need to be paying attention to.  Stylistically, Dormant Ordeal are about half way between the mechanical precision of Decapitated and the experimental dissonance of Diskord.  For years Decapitated have been softening up and sounding more and more like Fear Factory, so It Rains, It Pours harkens back to Decap's younger years (except better).  You get all the jagged complexity and baffling timing but with warmth and tone that hasn't been present in Death Metal production for over ten years.

Twisted into Form - Then Comes Affliction To Awaken The Dreamer

Like the name would imply this is basically a tech-head's wet dream.  Twisted into Form is not a Forbidden cover band but an Ultra-Prog, Post-Thrash project put together by David Husvik (ex-Extol).  The Extol influence is obviously very strong with some Believer and late-era Death in there as well.  I wish there would be some blazing fast parts instead of just being mid-paced all the time, but it still gives me that bi-weekly brain workout that I require.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Aeternus - ...And The Seventh His Soul Detesteth

It's always interesting to hear what old bands come up with these days.  Often they just release the same album over and over (Asphyx, Incantation), or they actually stretch their creative muscle and come up with something really worth listening to.  Aeternus have never been strangers to virtuosity, but they've never displayed it so well before now (and without being overbearing).  And The Seventh His Soul Detesteth reminds me of a rawer, darker version of Unleashed's Odalheim or a more accessible version Diskord's Dystopics.  Aeternus have always seemed unsure of their direction, but I do hope that they settle on the path that they've taken here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rotting Christ - Sanctus Diavolos

For years I never gave a shit about this band thinking that they were like the Greek Dimmu Borgir.  Turns out, that's not true at all.  Sanctus Diavolos, like their other works of the past 10 years, is a very ambitious and unique effort.  The clean production, vocal chants, and understated technicality combined create a very fresh alternative to "old fashioned" Black Metal orthodoxy.

Lahar - Umění Strachu

Remember when Municipal Waste were a good band and not poster-boys for trendy suckitude?  Lahar take me back to those humbler times.  Umění Strachu is an excellent (though, expectedly short) album of "Post-Grindcore" Crossover.  You'll hear a lot of influence of 80's Proto-Grind Thrash like Cryptic Slaughter and SOD, yet it still sounds honestly modern.  There's a generous helping of blast beats and borderline Death Metal riffs which help this album keep pace in this era of outlandish tempos.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Archetype - Dawning

Over the past two months I've been listening to Angra more than any other band, but they're just too damn popular for this place.  Archetype are the next best thing and they've created a motherfucker of a Prog Metal album with Dawning.  Especially for a debut, the songwriting and musicianship are stellar.  The guitars and drums are particularly amazing.  Even with the hefty 70 min. length, they manage to still be interesting throughout.  If you're a Prog or Power fan at any level you need to hear this.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hexen - Being and Nothingness

I always considered Hexen part of the Thrash revival bandwagon, which may have been true four years ago, but not so today.  How bands can start off so traditional and then tip the prog scales on their very next album is beyond me, but it almost always works in everyone's favor.  This album holds its own against the classics and sure as hell beats what the "old guard" of Thrash bands are putting out these days.  Time changes, abstract concepts, and ultra-bright production are all waiting for you on the other side of the link.

Riot - The Privilege of Power

Since it's been a solid two weeks since my last post, I shall return with an overlooked prog jewel.  This album represents one of those strange moments in almost every bands career when they forget about fan expectation and really let their artistic impulses flow.  There's so many influences showing up here from Power/Classic Metal to Funk Rock and Fusion all expertly executed.  Then there's the whole anti-utopian, cold war concept in the lyrics and way overblown sample intros.  It's honestly hard to tell how serious Riot were trying to be with the concept, but it only adds to the outrageous mystique.  Ok, there are a couple throw-away love songs, but even if you cut those out, you're still left with over 40 minutes of gold.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Heaven's Gate - Livin' in Hysteria

Here's another album that four of you will like and 100 of you will hate.  Heaven's Gate is a German Power Metal band that never got the attention of their contemporaries Helloween and Blind Guardian, although they did release a few damn good albums in the late 80's.  As you would expect the cheese factor is cranked throughout the whole thing, but accompanied by great musicianship and that understated German humor that you've only read about.

Arkhum - Earthling

I haven't even fully listened to this yet, but it's been two weeks since my last post and my conscience wouldn't let my avoid posting any longer.  What you have here is modern, technical Death Metal in the Santa Cruz style, except that it's coming out central Oregon.  There's a strong Black Metal influence too, reminding me of Fallujah.  Worth looking into, for sure.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Running Wild - Death or Glory

Power Metal is like fruitcake; a bad joke to most people, but a wonderland of delicious treasures to those more educated and refined.  Unlike fruitcake, the best Power Metal comes from Germany.  This album represents the golden age of the genre, before it became just a soundtrack for LARPing.  You had the cheesy, epic and melodic quality of the English New Wave paired with the emphasis of speed and techinicality of Thrash.  This is also the pinnacle of Running Wild's long career, where they achieved their highest level of musicianship and before they went in a more slick and accessible direction that the whole genre would lean towards through the rest of the 90s.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bitter End - Climate of Fear

One of those cases where the imitators surpass the originators.  Bitter End have always impressed me with honestly catchy songwriting with a strong emphasis on groove or "mosh" as the kids call it these days.  Like most Metallic Hardcore bands, the late 80's New York influence is most apparent, reminding me most of Breakdown and Judge.  Honestly though, I think this is better than anything those bands put out.  Yeah, I said it.  Older doesn't mean better.

Katalepsy - Autopsychosis

A lot of you may already have this, but for those who are "behind" in the blog scene I deliver this most impressive work.  In the six years since their debut Katalepsy have progressed from bonehead Guttural Slam to the highest-brow Technical Death.  Gone are the annoying cricket vocals and steel-drum snares.  Replaced by sweeps, pinch harmonics, and endless intricate brutality.  Now with their old playground no longer in sight, Katalepsy are fast approaching Death Metal mastery.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Svartidauði - Flesh Cathedral

Surprising that none of my blogger buds have picked up on this release, but so fortunate because that gives me free reign to step in and fill that overlooked void.  With Flesh Cathedral, Svartidauði have truly established themselves in the world of Black Metal.  Comparable in style and quality to Swedish masters Ondskapt and Ofermod, they deliver pretty much everything you would want in a Black Metal album.  There's ample amounts cavernous echoes, lethargic misery, and muderous blasts.  Along with the variety of pace is a refreshing balance of dissonance and melody.  I'm pretty certain these guys are the finest Black Metal band out of their small (but prolific) country of Iceland.  Don't miss the boat on this one.