Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Initial Impressions: Revocation, Misery's Omen, Waylander, Lord Belial, Blood Tsunami
Inevitably this band will be thrown in with the retro thrash movement, which I guess is okay as long as people do not dismiss them simply because of that fact. Revocation sounds more like groups like Sadus, Heathen, and other technical thrash metal bands. A well which has not been mined by many of the other groups in the retro thrash movement.
As far as the music goes, the guitar riffs are definitely the main attraction. Featuring frequent time changes and blazing leads, the guitars definitely steal the show. The vocals are delivered in a harsh yell, definitely a throwback to the late 80's underground thrash vocalists and a continuing force in thrash metal. The drum patterns are often quite complex, with the occasional blast beat thrown in for good measure.
This is a very good example of the retro thrash movement done right. Please do not dismiss the band simply because of that moniker.
Misery's Omen plays a sort of progressive, blackened doom metal. The music is mostly made up of slow dirges that sound like the music to a funeral march into hell. It occasionally branches off into more melodic territory, while always soon returning to the deathlike somber sound from whence it came. There are some faster songs on the album, but the band always sounds best when they are slow. There are some soft acoustic interludes that are often beautiful, yet unsettling in their own way as the listener is never sure of when the band will revert to the harsher sound again. The vocals are delivered in a deep grunt and are often indecipherable.
The band uses frequent time signature changes to keep the listener feeling off balance. It works. The entire album is an exercise in strangeness. The length of the songs varies wildly. The 11+ minute opener is immediately followed by aa 3+ minute song. This further leads to the strange feel of the album as a very long song may be followed by a very short song and vice versa.
This album is otherworldly and unique. I have their previous shorter album and enjoyed it so well I picked this one up. But, this one is infinitely stranger and more of an ordeal to listen through. The strangeness can get very unnerving and lead the listener into anticipation for the album to be finished. Not always a great quality in an album.
Waylander is a bit different than the other bands, preferring to blend Celtic music with more blackened metal whereas the other bands have different metallic bases. The vocals are harsh, black metal shrieks providing an odd contrast to the often beautiful Celtic melodies. The songs are often mini-epics in order to incorporate all of the ideas of the band. There are frequent slower interludes which allow more of the Celtic music to play freely and unencumbered by the thrashing guitar riffs and pounding drums.
Waylander is one of the better folk metal bands out there. The Celtic music is very prevalent but does not completely take over the metal elements. The two parts exist together in fairly decent harmony. Eluveitie is the only Celtic metal band that has more seemlessly melded their two musical sides. Waylander is definitely a good listen and I may keep my eyes open for more of their stuff.
Lord Belial started out as a typical melodic black metal band. They slowly began incorporating more and more death metal influences. The band on this album is almost half and half. It would appear that there may have been some problems internally as the band recorded this album. The album is a little more lackluster compared to their earlier material. It is not nearly as memorable as the band's prior albums. This is a shame as Lord Belial has always had a knack for producing some quality, memorable performances. Perhaps it had become time that the band had run its course.
All of the elements that have made Lord Belial such a vital member of their genre are still present: harsh vocals, soaring leads, pummeling drums, occasional melodic touches, and a fascination with Satanic or Anti-Christian lyrics. The band just sounds a little tired. As mentioned, the band broke up soon after the release of this album. It's a shame, but perhaps for the best.
Blood Tsunami perhaps became best-known for the fact that Bard "Faust" Eithun became their drummer. Faust has been the drummer for several black metal bands over the years including Emperor and Aborym. However, he was not a founding member of the band, so the fact that he is their drummer is one of the principal reasons the band became well-known is somewhat aggravating. Plus, Faust cannot travel to the U.S. if the band were to ever tour here as he has a felony charge of murder on his record. So it's actually kind of a disadvantage to have him as a member.
Blood Tsunami is from Norway, a country not well-known for thrash metal bands. Off the top of my head I can only name this band and Nocturnal Breed as thrash metal bands from Norway. As the country is not rich with thrash metal, the band had to take their influences from elsewhere. Blood Tsunami's thrash metal is a combination of the style of German thrash metal bands like Destruction, Kreator, and Sodom, along with Swedish thrash/death metal bands like At The Gates, Dismember, Nihilist, and Hypocrisy.
The music is very fast, as is customary with thrash, featuring mile-a-minute riffs and an almost buzzsaw sound to the guitars. The vocals are frequently shouted, but oftentimes revert to an almost death metal-like growl.
Blood Tsunami is one of the better newer international thrash metal band, showing that it's not just the U.S. seeing a resurgence in the genre. This album is very good and the band is worth checking out further.