Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Initial Impressions: Nephelium: Coils of Entropy

This review was originally posted here.  I don't usually reprint the reviews I contributed to Full Metal Attorney, but I felt this was worthy of a rare exception.

I don't really know what to call this quality that certain death metal bands have that appeals to me. Apophis has it. Cenotaph, the Mexican band, has it. It is this particularly savage riffing and vocal style that comes across as exciting and fresh. It is like the bands truly enjoy what they are doing and this enthusiasm comes across in their intensity.

Nephelium has the same quality.

I have listened to this album over and over again and the same thing jumps out at me every time. I love this album. The riffing is top-notch and the band really never gets bogged down with just one idea. There is a lot of variety in the music with tempo changes and some technical riffwork. The tracks are a little on the long side, none of the songs are less than five minutes and there are a nine minute song and a ten minute song, but that does not matter when the music is as good as this is.

I don't think I can pass up an opportunity to mention that this band is originally from Dubai, although they have since relocated to Canada. It is an interesting little nugget of information. I have not previously heard a metal band from the United Arab Emirates, so this is a first for me.

I am extremely impressed with this album. The intensity is infectious and this band has a very bright future.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Initial Impressions: Pilgrim: Misery Wizard

I feel like traditional doom metal has been missing a leading band for the last several years since Reverend Bizarre broke up.  There have definitely been good doom bands, but Reverend Bizarre gave the genre a truly outspoken leader.  Enter Pilgrim, a band with a similar look and feel, from the historical yet sinister cover art, to the crushingly heavy and morosely slow doom metal therein, Pilgrim definitely recalls the good Reverend.

Pilgrim has only been around for a couple of years now, and this is their debut full-length album after a demo and a split, so of course there is going to be some room to grow.  That is definitely the case here.  The album kicks off with some monolithic riffs and the opening track is definitely a steamroller of a song.  Unfortunately almost every song after that takes the exact same formula.  The result is a long lumbering album with a lot of songs that sound virtually the same.  Only the last track really changes up the formula with a rolling faster-paced start before slowing down a little and then speeding up again.  A little more variety would likely help this band quite a bit.

Pilgrim has released a fairly impressive debut, but they definitely have some room to grow as artists.  It will be interesting to see where they go from here.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Top 10 of 2012 So Far

We are a little over halfway through 2012 so here is a Top 10 list so far.  This was not too difficult to do because I have not been buying a lot of new music this year.

This is one I have not had a chance to put up a full review on yet.  I just got it a couple of weeks ago.  Pilgrim is a doom metal band with an emphasis on the doom.  Most of the tracks are incredibly slow but undeniably heavy.  There is not a lot of variation in the tracks, other than the rollicking final track, but once in awhile that's good.  Look for a full review very soon.

Another album with a full review soon to come.  Exumer is a longtime German thrash metal band who has recently reunited.  The band previously put out a couple of albums in the mid 1980's and this is their first album since.  I am not familiar with their earlier material but if it sounds anything like this, I will definitely be checking it out.

16 is a fairly brutal band in the sludge metal genre and is another group that it took me quite awhile to finally check out.  This is an incredibly infectious album although it does tend to drag a little at times.  16 is not as violently aggressive as Eyehategod but they are similar to Acid Bath.  16 shows us what real sludge metal sounds like.

One of the most consistent thrash metal bands in the history of metal, Overkill has never put out a bad album and this one is certainly no exception.  Overkill continues to put out fantastic album after fantastic album.  While this is something of a step down from their last release, it is still a phenomenal album.  Overkill deserves a lot more notoriety than they get.

Once a very promising band, 3IOB took a big step backward when one of their vocalists left and threw the band's sound in disarray.  But this album finds the band realizing their sound once more and gleefully enjoying their take on classic metal.  This is an excellent return to form for the band.

The most recent album from this list, I picked this one up in the final week of June so it just barely made the cut for consideration here.  Since pulling out of their tailspin in the early 2000's Kreator has put out a number of great brutal thrash metal albums.  Kreator is still going very strong after all this time.

Martin Van Drunen is one of my favorite extreme metal vocalists and this is just another reason why.  Asphyx was one of the more compelling early death metal bands, particularly with their infusion of doom metal elements.  Aspyhx has not been back together long but they have put out some amazing work in the time they have.

I cannot believe it took me so long to discover Aura Noir.  Blackened thrash metal is one of my favorite genres and Aura Noir is considered one of the better bands in the genre, and for good reason.  Their music is raw and infectious and recalls early Venom and Sodom.

Goatwhore has been one of my favorite bands for a long time now and they just keep getting better.  Each album is an improvement on the one before it and this one is no exception.  Their sound is more streamlined but that does not mean it is any less intense.  This is a neckbreaker from start to finish.

The top metal album of the year so far has come from a somewhat unexpected place.  This is only the band's second album so far but the band has a very bright future.  They play a brand of NWOBHM-influenced retro metal.  Their songwriting skills are top-notch and the vocals are incredible.  A terrific album from start to finish.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Initial Impressions: Aura Noir: Out to Die

I am a sucker for blackened thrash, which brings up the question "why is this the first time I have heard Aura Noir?"

The Norwegian band has been around since the early 1990's, but have now only released five full-length albums.  Nevertheless, for some reason they have been operating under my radar despite performing a style of music that I rank as one of my favorite metal forms.  Norway is not really known for their thrash metal bands, although this is not pure thrash.  Aura Noir is made up of former members of a number of well-known Norwegian black metal bands, most notably Blasphemer of Mayhem.

This album brings to mind early Sodom and Venom albums.  It is fast, filthy, and raw, just the way blackened thrash metal should be.  It does not rise to the levels of ugliness present on a Gospel of the Horns or Bestial Warlust release, but that is not really the intention.  The goal is to call back to a simpler time when bands were fusing the sounds from Motorhead, hardcore punk, and trying to up the evil factor.

This album is a neck-breaker.  It's fast-paced, dirty metal all the way through.  The band never slows down. This may have been the first time I heard Aura Noir, but it will not be the last.