Sunday, January 18, 2015

Odota: Fever Marshal (2014)

Some time ago I reviewed an album by a band called Talbot.  That was a pretty interesting sludge/doom album that I really enjoyed.  I was recently contacted by the former drummer/vocalist from the Estonian band to take a look at his new project under the name Odota.  Having enjoyed Talbot, I was eager to see what Odota had to offer.

Odota is actually quite dissimilar from Talbot, which is definitely not a problem.  It was just a little surprising.  Where Talbot played murky doom metal, Odota plays sludge-laden black metal with a bit of a psychedelic tinge to it.  It is fairly similar to the terrific Silencing Machine by Nachtmystium.  The experimental elements add a lot of depth and intrigue to the otherwise straightforward black metal riffing style.  The vocals are more aggressive black metal-style rasping which fits well with the music and distinguishes it from being too much like Nachtmystium.

There are some exclusively experimental tracks here, most notably "Staked Plains", that kind of drag things down a little bit.  I don't really understand the desire to throw in mostly atonal, noise tracks onto albums, but then it is not my decision.

I'm not really sure if there is some sort of lyrical theme here or not.  I do not have any access to any lyrics sheets, but the song titles seem to lead to the conclusion that this may be a Western-themed albums.  We have words like "marshal", "horse thief", "plains", "eagle", and "rattlesnake" in each of the titles.  Kind of odd choices really.  I suspect this is the first ever Western-themed psychedelic black metal album in history.

I thought this was a pretty decent release.  It is hard not to compare it to Jarmo Nuutre's other band, and I think it falls a bit short of Talbot.  But it is a very good effort and it will be interesting to see what this band can do in the future.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Vanagloria: La Dinamica del Miedo (2014)

Power metalcore?  Powercore?  What would you call this?  Whatever it is, it is definitely a unique take on a couple of metal genres.  Vanagloria is a Spanish metal band that actually got their start playing plain old power metal, well there is not really anything plain about power metal.  Over time though, the band began incorporating more modern, mainstream metal influences to the point that we get to this.  The promotional materials describe it as black/death/thrash, but I am not sure that really accurately reflects this, maybe power/thrash, but there are some definite breakdowns at times.

Well enough about the genre, what do we have here?  The riffing style is at times edgy and aggressive, and at others incredibly melodic.  The band makes liberal use of keyboards and techno/industrial elements at times, particularly in the intro track.

The vocals are definitely on the extreme end for this style of metal, but not all power metal features particularly melodic vocal styles.  Just look at Helstar and the weird Finnish groups like Children of Bodom and their ilk.  On occasion, the vocals are delivered with a more extreme backing track, or the vocalist actually uses more extreme vocal styles at times.  There was also a female guest vocalist on one track which brought quite a bit of dynamics to the track.  The vocals are all in Spanish, which is not surprising.  My Spanish is a tad rusty so I have a little bit of trouble figuring out what they are singing about.

Despite the disparate styles of metal combined by this band, the songs were surprisingly cohesive.  There are definitely some unusual things going on at times, but the band is talented enough to keep things from turning into a mess.  In fact, the album is quite interesting.  It is likely one I will need to hear a few times to really get a good idea of what is going on.  But it was definitely good enough to bear repeated listens.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top 14 of 2014

It has been a pretty bad year for me on this blog.  I have been a little burned out as I have been very busy with work.  It has been hard to find time to listen to new music as much as I would like.  I have been really bad with bands contacting me.  I still heard a lot of great new music though.  And I managed to put together a Best Of list.  Here we go:

The reunion of the year finds the pioneering melodeath band releasing their first new album since the landmark Slaughter of the Soul.  At The Gates manages to recapture the spirit of that album without remaking it.  Sure a lot of bands copied it over the years, but At The Gates still manages to sound fresh, even after all these years.
Other bands have come around that do what Septicflesh does better than them.  Rotting Christ does Greek mythology better and Fleshgod Apocalypse does symphonic tinged extreme metal better.  Nevertheless Septicflesh keeps going and they still do their thing damn well, as evidenced by this terrific album.
If I had to name a favorite thrash metal band, I would honestly have to consider Overkill at this point.  Mostly due to the fact that the band has never really softened their sound.  Sure they were groove metal for a little while, but they were still good.  And they continue to put out amazing, kickass thrash metal albums.
Slightly disappointing after the terrific Carving Out the Eyes of God and Blood for the Master, this is nevertheless still a very strong album.  Goatwhore continues to put out uncompromisingly brutal metal.  They get more extreme with each release.
Ex Mortus bring a lot of symphonic and classical influences to their style of riffing.  The solos in particular display these influences.  The band even goes so far as to cover "Moonlight Sonata".  Seriously.  The rest of the album is unapologetically cheesy and metal as fuck.  It's campy and fun, and we need that once in awhile.
Finland's Insomnium are easily one of the best melodeath bands still going.  Their somber and melodic style comes as a welcome change from some of the other groups in the genre.  This is yet another melancholic masterpiece from the band that just keeps getting better.
Easily one of the most controversial albums of the year, particularly due to the album's insane cover art, Lord Mantis's third release is also one of the year's best.  Their take on filthy rotten sludge metal puts a lot of the mainstream sludge acts to shame.  Those who refused to check it out due to the cover are missing out.
Grand Magus makes this list every year they release something.  That should tell something about the quality of this band.  They just continue to put out terrific album after terrific album.  They are quite simply on of the best traditional metal bands going today.
First of all, awesome name.  Secondly, awesome death metal album.  Corpsessed reminds me most of groups like Angelcorpse and Teitanblood, filthy, disgusting death metal that blows everything else out of the water.  This is just the band's first full-length album, which is shocking because they sound like seasoned veterans.
Vader is simultaneously one of the most consistent and most underrated metal bands in the world.  They just never seem to get the respect and notice that they deserve.  Every single album by Vader is terrific and the fact that the band has been doing it since the mid 1980's is astounding.  This is once more a very strong album in typical Vader take-no-prisoners style.
Triptykon was the release I probably looked most forward to this year.  After all, their first album was my Album of the Year and it did not look at all like this would be a disappointing sophomore album.  While I do thoroughly enjoy this album, some of the songs seemed to be a little too similar at times and the band was often comfortable plodding along.  Certainly not the case with the opening crushing track.  All in all, a great album, but one that pales in comparison to the first one.
I have always liked Mastodon, but none of their releases have been so great that I listened to them frequently over and over again.  Until this one.  This album features some of the catchiest songs I have heard all year.  Mastodon seems much more focused on crafting songs rather than the meandering psychedelia the band once used frequently and they are that much better for it.

One of the most hyped releases of the year managed to exceed even my expectations.  Behemoth has always been a favorite band of mine, but some of their releases have lacked dynamics, focusing instead on simply blasting away.  This release is incredibly dynamic and therefore blows away everything the band previously released.

The debut album by this Australian death metal act is incredible.  Dark and mysterious with an obvious Lovecraftian influence, the album features twisted riffs and psychotic, gibbering vocals.  It is one of those death metal albums that simply grabs you on the first listen and will not let go.  I have mentioned that certain death metal albums, particularly lesser-known ones, sometimes have an intense quality that makes it difficult to turn them off.  This one has that same quality.