Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Getting a new computer this weekend.  Mine is pretty well fried, which explains the lack of posts lately.  I would anticipate that I will get back to work early next week.  Sorry for the delay.

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.