Friday, April 11, 2014

Halahkuh: Desecration (2013)

Originally reviewed here.
I'm not totally sure how a band can claim that their music is influenced by a historical figure.  Maybe I just don't understand.  But here we are with Halahkuh, an Indian melodeath/thrash metal band who claim that their influences are Genghis Khan and his son Hulagu Khan.  I admit to being a little in the dark as to Genghis Khan's son, but I am certainly aware of Genghis.

Halahkuh take influences from extreme thrash metal bands from the 1980's and mesh them with earlier Swedish melodeath, prior to the softening and bastardization of the Gothenburg sound.  Think heavier At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity meeting Kreator.  It is a heavy and aggressive sound.  Much like their historical influences the music is relentless and driven with fast-paced riffs and abrasive vocals.

There are a few breakdowns throughout this release.  I am not someone who completely opposes breakdowns, as long as they are used sparingly and written reasonably well.  Sodom did them well on occasion and of course Suffocation does as well.  Halahkuh does incorporate them well into their music.  They come at a decent time and are not overused.

The songs are mostly on the shorter end but they pack a lot of energy into them.  This is an EP, so there are only four tracks here.  Again, not really a problem.  It is enough of a teaser to whet the appetite for more.  I have to say I am kind of surprised that this is a release from an Indian band.  It really does sound more like the kind of thing you would expect from a European band.  It is impressive, just sounds out of place.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Albatross/Vestal Claret: The Kissing Flies/Black Priest (2012)

Originally reviewed here.
If you can parse this title then I am impressed.  I think I represented it correctly.  Essentially, this is a split album from Indian heavy metal outfit Albatross and the former vocalist of Hour of 13's new band.  Now Indian metal is not something I am overly familiar with.  I was not aware there was much of a scene in India.  I have a lot of mental associations with India, mostly due to my first real girlfriend being from there, but metal music is not one of them.  Anyway, enough of that.  Only one band from this split is Indian anyway.

Albatross kicks things off with four out of the five songs on the split.  Why so many?  Well Vestal Claret's song is 18 minutes long, that's why.  Albatross's music strongly resembles King Diamond's solo work and that seems to be the major influence.  The songs generally tell some sort of horror story and feature very impressive lead guitar melodies weaving through traditional heavy metal riffs.  The vocals are higher-pitched and include a lot of wailing and the occasional blood-curdling shriek.  Singer Biprorshee Das does not have the range of King Diamond, but his voice is effective enough to match the horror atmosphere produced by the eerie melodies.

As previously mentioned, Vestal Claret is the new band from Philip Swanson, formerly of Hour of 13.  I am well-familiar with Hour of 13, being one of my favorite recent traditional doom metal bands.  They had a strong gift for songwriting, putting out some truly catchy material.  I am not sure what happened to them but seeing Swanson in a new band makes me feel better.  Sure enough, that is exactly what this song is, catchy, traditional doom metal.  It is slow but demands attention.  Swanson's voice is terrific, exhibiting the gothic horror quality it has always had.  The song is a trip.

I enjoyed both parts of this split.  Vestal Claret probably did a little bit more for me on initial listens, mostly due to the fact that Das's vocals are definitely a grower.  Both bands are impressive though.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hiss from the Moat: Misanthropy (2013)

Originally reviewed here.
I have been exposed to an awful lot of Italian bands recently.  I won't complain about it.  I love finding metal from other countries, especially countries that do not have a real deep and well-known metal scene.  Italy definitely fits that.

Hiss from the Moat is a blackened death metal band with their leanings much more toward the death metal side of things.  This is definitely not a Behemoth clone, the production is much cleaner, with the razor-sharp riffs not as grimy or decayed, though they definitely have an overall evil vibe.  The drumming is crisp and clear while maintaining the typical relentless pounding and blastbeats common in this style of metal.  The vocals are delivered in two different styles, an Immolation-esque grunting roar and a more blackened raspy shriek.

The album starts off very interesting with some nice acoustic strumming and some storms and demonic voices in the background prior to leading into juggernaut "Conquering Christianity".  The rest of the songs are fairly straightforward, there are not a lot of instrumental segues, once the band gets going, they do not let up.  The music is chaotic, yet refined.  Hiss from the Moat do not do much experimentation.  They know they are here to break some necks and defame religion, and that's what they do.

Hiss from the Moat are nothing particularly original.  It's straightforward blackened death.  It does have a certain evil vibe to it that is necessary for the genre and some impressive riffwork and vocals.  It is interesting enough to hold attention, but is probably not a necessary album.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I.C.S.: National Blasphemy (2014)

I've been getting lots of Italian bands sent to me lately.  Most of them have been rather impressive.  That's notable because Italy has not had a lot of really great metal bands over the years.  Graveworm, Lacuna Coil, Necrodeath, and Fleshgod Apocalypse have been among the more notable groups from the boot-shaped country.

I have no idea what "I.C.S." stands for.  I have not been able to find anything on it either in the material from the band, it's probably in Italian.  Or not.  Oh well.  There have been a lot of bands with acronyms as their names sent to me lately too.  It's an epidemic.

What we have with I.C.S. is a thrash metal band with some very strong punk inflections, to the point where they are almost a crossover band at several points.  Influences are clearly Overkill, Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, and other groups.  It is fast-paced and almost upbeat at times.  The lyrics border a bit on the grotesque occasionally which is a little strange for thrash metal.  Song titles like "Overrotten Anal Supremacy" and "Erection and Resurrection" are typically the type of titles you would see in a goregrind band.  But the band also stays true to the genre with the far more thrash-like "Toxichrist" and "Foolish Party".
I am impressed with this group.  They write extremely catchy, crunchy riffs with a good sense of the style.  There is nothing really here that no one has heard before.  I.C.S. do not reinvent the wheel, but what they do is write some damn infectious retro-styled crossover/thrash metal.  That's perfectly acceptable.  Plus it makes great driving music.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ugh

So the trial is over.  Unfortunately now my computer has now died on me, further delaying my return.  Sorry.  I promise to return shortly.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Impending Trial

Tomorrow is the beginning of my two-day custody trial.  It is the major reason things have been quiet around here lately.  I hate custody cases with a burning passion.  I am definitely looking forward to getting this thing over with.  Things will pick back up afterwards, though this weekend I need to help my dad with a big remodel project.

Kelly in particular, I will get back to work on stuff very soon.  Thank you all for your patience.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Little Update

I know I have been a little slow on getting things up lately.  Work has been busy once again.  I had a civil trial early in the month, a big hearing on a Motion to Suppress a statement in a stabbing case this week, and then a two-day custody trial next week.  I will be back on a regular posting schedule soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dementia Senex: Heartworm (2013)

Huh.  Where do we begin?  Dementia Senex is a kind of odd band from Italy with quite the disparate influences.  Ulcerate is probably the most accurate reference point for Dementia Senex's sound.  The band draws from brutal death metal and post-metal weirdness to form a dissonant, chaotic sound.

Despite the wildly different styles, like Ulcerate, Dementia Senex seems to know what they are doing, which makes all the difference in the world.  It is a little difficult to combine two seemingly wildly different styles like these into a cohesive sound, not to mention one that actually sounds good.  The songs are generally on the longer side which allows for a lot more time for experimentation.  The music is marked by frequent tempo and riff changes with some sections driven by dissonant chords and screaming and others by more typical death metal-styled riffing.

Dementia Senex is an impressive mix of atmosphere and aggression, the two major elements they draw from their varied influences.  What is consistent however is that the production brings these two seemingly diverse sounds out perfectly.  Despite the unusual combination, the band sounds great.  All of the instruments can be heard clearly, with the stunning guitar work the big highlight.  The vocals are agonized and strained, yet intense adding to the dark atmosphere.

Dementia Senex shows an unusual mix of styles, but it works for them.  This is recommended for fans of Ulcerate and other weird death/post-metal hybrids.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Terrifier: Metal or Death (2013)

And we finally come to the end of the VladPromotion stuff that has been sent to me over the last year.  It was a huge number of thrash metal, and the occasional traditional metal release, from a variety of countries.

This is Canada's Terrifier.  I have heard a little bit from this band through the stuff that has been sent to me.  They used to be called Skull Hammer which I remarked that I would have stayed with as it is a little bit more of an unusual name than Terrifier.  But to each their own I guess.

This is a short three-song EP that sounds even shorter due to the fact that it is so fast.  In fact it's too short.  The music is surprisingly good so that it made me want to hear more.  Unfortunately that just is not possible.

The bass is definitely an important instrument here.  We have come a long way since Metallica turned Jason Newsted's bass way down in the mix on ...And Justice for All.  The bass is playing a lot of the riffs alongside the rhythm guitar and is so high in the mix that it gives the sound a thundering, rumbling feel.

This is definitely a fun, fast-paced thrash EP that is just too short.  Looking forward to more, Terrifier.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sanity's Rage: You Are What You Swallow (2012)

Belgium is not a country well-known for its metal scene.  I had to look back at my post from 2011 to find what I listed as my favorite band because I could not think of anyone off the top of my head.  Enthroned and Aborted have been the only metal bands I have had much exposure to.  Which brings us to the thrash metal band Sanity's Rage, just the third Belgian metal band I have heard.

I'm not really sure of the album title.  Sounds like something that could be a little juvenile, disgusting, or something.  The album cover though has little or nothing to do with the album title, so maybe I'm wrong.  It's never happened before, but I suppose anything is possible.

Sanity's Rage is a fairly impressive mix of Bay Area thrash, Iced Earth-style galloping power metal, and a little bit of German biting thrash thrown in for good measure.  The music is very fast with lightning-fast riffs, jackhammer-style drumming, and impressively fast staccato vocals, somewhat similar to Sabbat's Martin Walkyier.  The riffs fluctuate naturally without feeling forced, which is noteworthy given how fast these songs move.  It is amazing how much you can cram into a five minute song when moving so quickly.

This is Sanity's Rage's first full-length album even though the band has been around since 2002.  You wouldn't know it was a first album based on the crisp production and the tight instrumentation.  This is a band that sounds like seasoned veterans of the thrash metal scene.

If fast-paced, relentless thrash is your thing, this fits the bill.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mad Agony: Chernobitch (2013)

Mad Agony is another of those bands that have recently re-formed even though precisely no one was clamoring for a return.  They previously released a demo in 1992 before disbanding in 1993 and then returned in 2011.  This is their first full-length album.  I do not really know what lead to the re-formation of this long-dead Italian traditional metal band.  All I know is that they have re-formed.

The album starts off with the intro track, "Industrial Waste" building into the title track "Chernobitch", which I think misses the point of what Chernobyl was.  Musically, Mad Agony bears a strong similarity to German heavy/power metal bands such as Primal Fear, Sinner, Accept, and others.  The songs are melodic, but the riffs definitely have a heavy, razor-sharp edge to them.  Vocalist Max Zanetti has a powerful, wailing voice that furthers the comparison to Matt Sinner.  It fits the music very well and calls to mind metal vocalists from the early 1980's.

The big problem with this release is that a lot of the songs tend to drag at times.  Mad Agony is trying to do a little too much musically at times and the band loses focus and the songs suffer.  There are a few songs that could be a minute or two shorter and would be much better for it.  They are at their best when they are playing fast and heavy, loud and proud.  The straightforward material is the best material here.  Mad Agony even succeed with the much slower and acoustic-driven "Eclipse of a Friend", particularly during the remarkable guitar solo work.  The ultra fast, thrashy section in the middle of "The Poetry of Rage" is another triumph.

The album is a tad on the long side, but it is interesting and entertaining enough.  For those looking for some real 1980's-style German heavy metal, Mad Agony fits the bill.  Or you could just turn on those well-worn Accept albums instead.  Your choice.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

FMA: Vardan: The Woods is My Coffin (2013)

Originally reviewed here.
As a metalhead, I try to immerse myself in as many different types of metal as I can. I find there are styles I like more than others of course, but I usually try a little bit of everything. One style that I have done only minimal exploration of is depressive black metal. I have heard Xasthur, Leviathan, Silencer, and a few others, but that's really about as far as I have gone. Most of it is a little tedious to listen to, long and very slow songs without a lot of direction. So I was a little reluctant to look into Vardan when the first song started.

Vardan is a one-man black metal band from Italy lead by Vardan, of course. This is as basic as black metal gets, minimalist riffs which are typically very slow, drums doing little more than keeping time, and tortured wailing vocals. The songs are quite long, with the shortest being just over six minutes. Vardan does do a decent job at changing up the riffs to keep things from becoming too monotonous. There are only five songs so it makes the length of each song a little more bearable.

Vardan is not, as it turns out, a depressive black metal act, despite the extremely slow-moving opening track. He does slow things down frequently and there is a little bit of depressive influences in the music, but he also throws in the occasional faster-paced riff just to keep things a little more interesting.

Ultimately this is probably a little too raw and simple for me. I like my black metal to have a little more going on than a couple of endlessly repeating riffs. I could see being able to listen to this in the dark alone, but it is not something that would have frequent playbacks in it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

FMA: Tiger Junkies: D-Beat Street Rock 'n Rollers (2008)

Originally reviewed here.
I had seen mention of Tiger Junkies quite a bit but I never really looked into them. Part of that is probably due to the band's ridiculous name. It is the kind of name you might expect for a hair band. And the "D-Beat" in the album name is more of a reference to something hardcore, rather than metal. I never really looked much farther than that and certainly not enough to see who was attached to the project.

If I had looked at the two individuals responsible for Tiger Junkies, I would have felt a lot different about checking them out. That is because Tiger Junkies is made up of Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust (a favorite of mine) and Yasuyuki Suzuki of Abigail (who I am not as familiar with but still enjoy). The band began as a tradition between the two in which Grind would play with Suzuki whenever he happened to be in Japan. I am a big Toxic Holocaust fan and also enjoy Grind's work with Yellowgoat, even though both projects are basically the same thing. This is a re-release of the project's 2008 album with some extra material thrown in and one song removed.

With Grind's involvement, it is pretty clear what style of music this is going to be. It is a fast-paced thrash/crossover style that owes a great deal to the music of Motörhead, Discharge, Agnostic Front's Cause for Alarm and early Corrosion of Conformity. It is hardcore punk played with a lot of metallic riffs and a punk attitude. The songs are all fast and short with sneering vocals provided by both Grind and Suzuki oftentimes in a call-and-response style. The songs are not overly sophisticated, the riffs are simple and straightforward and the lyrics are typically about sex, partying, and booze.

Ultimately this is a dumbed-down, simplistic crossover album. There is something to be said for music that you can just put on and trash everything in sight while listening to. This is not for people who want their music to say something as it really doesn't. It's hardcore mixed with metal. That's it. There's nothing wrong with that.

Thursday, February 27, 2014