Monday, August 27, 2012

FMA Reviews: Holodomor: Témoignages de la Gnose Terrestre

I had to look up the name of the band, due mostly to curiosity. Apparently Holodomor is the term for an event in the Ukraine for a genocidal famine provoked by Ukrainian communist rulers. So, with that cheerful thought in mind, I went about listening to this EP which was suggested to me by Full Metal Attorney.

This is one filthy beast of an EP. I have a feeling that the reason it is only an EP instead of a full album is due to the absolute insanity of the five tracks that are here. They do not get much more bestial than this. Holodomor easily stands up next to other blackened death/thrash metal bands like Angelcorpse, Bestial Warlust, Gospel of the Horns, and the first few Deströyer 666 albums.

Throughout much of the EP, the riffs are razor-sharp and extremely fast. There is a brief slower portion in a couple of the middle tracks which sounds more like melodic black metal bands such as Lord Belial and Naglfar. It is a much darker and sinister sound than the raw and primal blackened thrash the band employs throughout the rest of the EP.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

FMA Reviews: Bloodwritten: Thrashin' Fury

Originally posted here.

I have always been shocked by just how good Poland's metal scene really is. Beyond the incredible Behemoth and pioneering Vader, Poland has also produced a wide variety of impressive metal bands. Bloodwritten is another name to add to the list.

Bloodwritten play fairly standard blackened thrash, but they play it with such emotion and rage that it is hard not to get swept up in it. Their sound is something of a combination of Sodom, Kreator, and Nifelheim. The music mostly consists of fast-paced, sinister-sounding thrash riffs and shrieking Mille Petrozza-esque vocals. The band catches the listener's attention early, with the album opening with the sound of a gun being cocked and fired. It immediately reverts to a state of chaos and whirlwind riffs from that point on through the end of the runtime.

The music keeps up the frenetic pace throughout the album, with only a few times where the band slows things down. Even those rare occurrences retain a dark and evil atmosphere. While the band is not really innovative, they understand their craft well enough that they produce a pretty decent overall album. People who are not already a fan of blackened thrash metal will still probably not care for this. It's a fun ride, it's just not something that hasn't been done before.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

FMA Reviews: KozybunX: Practice Room Demo

This was originally reviewed here.

I have no idea what this name is supposed to represent. It looks more like someone's ill-conceived chatroom screen name than the name of a band. Furthermore, it certainly does not seem to be the kind of name a stoner doom metal band would choose. It seems much more likely to be chosen by a pop group or some other mainstream atrocity. But nevertheless, here we are, with KozybunX bringing some interesting Electric Wizard-esque psychedelic stoner doom.

KozybunX are a four-piece doom metal group who apparently recorded this demo in their practice room. Nonetheless, the production values are actually quite impressive. This sounds every bit as powerful and heavy as anything that the aforementioned Electric Wizard put out. The riffs are slow and muddy, just the way stoner doom should be. They have a very thick bottom end that gives the atmosphere a sense of gloom and desolation. The demo as a whole gives off a feeling of impending doom, which I guess is kind of the point of the whole genre.

The interesting aspect of this release is that the band does not use vocals. Instead, they add to the doom riffs samples from various B-movies and other sources. I know I recognized one sample from a White Zombie song. I could not tell you the actual source of the samples as I am not well-versed in B-movies these days. They do certainly add to the general atmosphere and the inclusion of samples is done well enough that vocals and lyrics are not even missed. The samples do a good job of actually telling a story themselves. It is a fairly original idea and it is presented very well in this case.

The only real issue I have with this is that the songs do tend to drag a bit. The shortest track is seven minutes long with the second track being nearly 18 minutes. That is not unusual for this type of metal, but there is not a lot of tempo change. Once the band locks into a riff, they keep it going for a long time. That is not to say there are no changes in dynamics, just not a lot.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tribune: Elder Lore/The Dark Arts

I had another review posted on Full Metal Attorney for Tribune today.  Here is the link.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Initial Impressions: Sonata Arctica: Stones Grow Her Name

I want to like Sonata Arctica's newer material, I really do.  Unfortunately it is just not happening for me.  It is extremely disappointing because I rank Silence as one of my all time favorite power metal albums, if not my favorite.  The combination of speed metal and power metal along with some amazingly catchy songs and some surprisingly heart-wrenching ballads keeps me coming back for more over and over again.  But that feeling is absent from their more recent material.  It's unfortunate.

Unia was the first album that really let me down.  I skipped the next one and then decided based on the hype that this was the band's best album in years to give them another chance.  I will probably not be giving them another shot after this one.

The album starts off fine, with a decent fast-paced song in "Only the Broken Hearts".  From that point on though the band descends into radio-friendly modern rock tracks with very few highlights.  Among the lowlights in "Shitload of Money" with its ridiculous lyrics.  "Cinderblox" is interesting, with its banjo melody, and the two "Wildfire" tracks have their moments.  The rest of the stuff is just too stale and boring.

This is pretty much it for Sonata Arctica as far as I am concerned.  I will likely not be checking out anything else.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Initial Impressions: Exumer: Fire & Damnation

It's kind of bizarre how so many completely random bands have been reuniting and putting out new music.  This certainly is not anything completely unusual but when we are talking about a band that released two full-lengths and a couple of demos in the mid to late 1980's that were mostly forgotten, you kind of have to wonder how the decision to reunite really came about.  I mean, I have never heard anyone say they really miss Exumer.  Not to say some people didn't miss Exumer, I just have not known of anyone.

Exumer is a German thrash metal band from the 1980's, and that's all it really took to get me intrigued.  Their presence on Metal Blade, which is still a label I trust, also helped matters.  Exumer does deliver on that promise.  As is typical of German thrash metal, this is a neck-snapping maelstrom of an album with lots of riffs and lots of aggression.  It kicks off with a bang and the frenzy never lets up.

The only real problem I have with the album is that there is a lack of variety.  The band never lets up on the accelerator.  That is not a major problem, after all this is a thrash metal band we are talking about.  It is not as if that is unusual.  Fans of the genre expect it.

I have not checked out Exumer's prior material, but something tells me it is right up my alley as well.