MOONSPELL - Night Eternal CD
The latest release by these Portuguese metallers is bleak, black and pleasantly Gothic. In other words it has the best of many extreme genres going for it, without sounding confused or experimental. But don't let the opening intro scare you off thinking maybe I need to be in Halloween garb to fully enjoy this disc. Once the the cut, "At Tragic Heights" kicks into gear with Fernando Ribeiro's bellows like vocals taking control. You'll be in your dark happy place. The keyboards swirl around pummeling cluster bomb drum explosions and guitar pyrotechnics throughout. Once the title cut hits you'll understand that this is a carefully crafted release. Musically this is like a murder mystery novel with plot twists on every other page. Once you
think that you've got the storyline down pat. Another surprise hits you square in the face.
After being pounded down by the blackened death spell of the first three cuts. "Scorpian Flower" comes out of the cemetery gates sounding like 69 EYES plus Fernado Ribeiro shares vocals with ex-GATHERING vocalist, Anneke van Giersbergan. But the Gothic interlude is very short. "Moon in Mercury" pulls you back out of the grave for some more torture as well as cuts like "Hers in the Twilight" and "Spring of Rage". There's more Goth/Progressive melody on "Dreamless (Lucifer and Lilith) which will be a hit with the wannabe vampire sect. But once again it's so short lived that there's no reason to put on the black cape and fake fangs.
All in all this was one of the surprise releases for me this year. Also it's very short lived since it's just nine cuts in less than forty-five minutes. I have to say that the cover art threw me. Prior to pushing play I was expecting something along the lines of a blackened WITHIN TEMPTATION meets TYPE O NEGATIVE. Then again the first listen had me leaning in that direction, especially on the more traditional Gothic numbers. But after multiple plays during daytime hours I have to admit that Night Eternal channels more from the Extreme Metal isle than anywhere else.
Friday, August 29, 2008
KATAKLYSM - Prevail CD
Nuclear Blast Records
Listening to this latest release by KATAKLYSM is the equivalent to attending a three day Death Fest. These Canadians have consistently put out over the top extremist Death Metal for years. Relying on the raw carnal power template of the genre and not the pretentious deathcore bullshit that seems to have crapped into the music scene. From the opening title track "Prevail" to the end cut "The Last Effort (Renaissance II) an instrumental piece, you'll be left wondering what the fuck just happened to me these past forty minutes and why are my hands bloody?
This CD opens with so much punishing fury you'd think some hell spawned behemoth climbed out of the abyss and kicked you in the balls so hard that you're spitting blood. We're talking shock and awe minor key Death Metal, guttural vocals and blast beatings that will have your neighbor's hardwood floors peeling up and flaming on. I can envision that happening to my neighbor upstairs as the cut "The Chains of Power" reigns out from my stereo speakers. So much for that good neighbor policy when I continually turn the volume up when songs like "As Death Lingers" or "The Vultures Are Watching" crank out. Maybe I can shake the foundation enough that the furniture
will rearrange itself. She'll think it's a poltergeist but no it's only the song "Blood in Heaven". She'll come home while "Breath to Dominate" rumbles from beneath her floor and think the house is being overrun by demons. But no it'll just be me enjoying what I call "easy listening".
Pardon my self indulgence but when it comes to Death Metal I wanna hear the true stuff from the past. And this CD hearkens back to that age of despair. I have no patience with the kiddie technical ecstasy stuff of today. KATAKLYSM remind listeners that if you want to hear some Death Metal that's akin to the soundtrack of World War Two. Put the babies to bed preferably a mile or two away and let the veterans show you how it's done right. Recommended for people who know true Death Metal when they hear it.
ISOLE - Bliss of Solitude CD
If there was one word to describe this release by these Swedish doomsters it would be "patience". INSOLE (pronounced EE-SOL-AY) give us seven songs ranging from six to twelve minutes in length totaling sixty minutes. Or in other words, this thing drags more ass than an alligator after dining at a Swedish meatball buffet. Which ain't a bad thing as long as you have enough time on your hands. Also when it comes to ISOLE's brand of epic doom metal, misery is bliss. Songs like "Imprisoned in Sorrow" and "Dying" are downright suffocating. You can practically feel the hands of doom clutching your throat and squeezing. "By Blood" is pure punishment like a forced funeral march over a mile of burning coals. "From a Clouded Sky", obviously inspired by their nation's long winters, is slow torture. For someone like me who takes in caffeine like normal people breath air, this grim and dark infused doom is a never ending pain. But if you're an isolationist who could care less for your eardrums as well as your sanity. Then this CD is for you.
I SHALT BECOME - Requiem CD
Trying to review and get into a Black Metal release by another one man outfit during the summer months is not fun. You're listening to something that's cold, creepy and hypnotic. While at the same time you're looking out the window and the sun is shining. To make matters worse it's hot, very hot. Who wants to sweat to BURZUM inspired Black Metal? I'd be better off reviewing this during Fall or better yet in the Winter. You know those fun months when the weather and music you're listening to inspire one another.
I'm sure that S. Holliman (aka: I SHALL BECOME) recorded this during the cold winters of his home state of Illinois. Please note that it's the same area which spawned fellow USBM one man outfit JUDAS ISCARIOT. The cuts on here are definitely from someone who's outlook on life is bleak. And with depression comes laziness since this is Holliman's first release of new material in years. Unfortunately it was during those lost years that other one man Black Metal outfits like KROHM, XASTHUR and LEVIATHAN have taken over the market. And to some people's distaste, have become too hipster. So in the summer of 2008 when a new CD by another one man Black Metal outfit, inspired by BURZUM of course, is released. It's not such a big deal.
But to the credit of I SHALL BECOME the music here has plenty of misery to spread around albeit not groundbreaking. If you like textbook BURZUM Black Metal (of course I do) then you'll be a lost soul without this one in your CD player. The vocals, actually screams, are held back letting the music carry the day. Sound wise there's equal parts fast and furious along with more mellow atmospheric haunts. All in all there's nothing here that any Black Metal fan hasn't heard before or will jump out of their easy chair and scream "Hail Satan"! But it's until the next I SHALL BECOME CD comes out. And going by S. Holliman's timetable that will be in 2016.
THE BREATHING PROCESS - In Waking, Divinity CD
SIEGE OF AMIDA RECORDS
Here's another entry into the growing legion of bands floating in the metal scene like a boat without a rudder. I heard one of their songs on a Battle Metal compilation CD (how they got onto that I'll never know) so now I'm checking out their full length. And after quite a few listens I believe this New England band is actually trying to find an identity in any scene that will have them. Their sound is melodic Death Metal with Symphonic Black Metal elements and keyboards added to it. At times their vocalist does a good harsh vocal delivery. And at other times he sounds like he needs to be singing for some bad Metalcore band. This is very strange to get into. The release shows them breathing blackened fire and brimstone into this genre with cuts like "The Hunter", "Pandora's Rebirth", Dear Antigone" and my favorite "The Harvesting". Unfortunately the rest of the cuts meander around to the point where they're forgettable. In fact this reminds me of a chicken running around after it's head has been cut off. Some people might like a band that's confused but not me. It's just their debut so there's hope for the future. All I can say to them is when the time comes for a followup stick to what you know best. And leave the experimenting to those college kids in their locked dorm room.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
HELLHAMMER - Demon Entrails CD
Century Media Records
Be prepared for inconsistency when listening to these pre-CELTIC FROST repackaged and re-mastered demos from 1983. At their worst HELLHAMMER sounds like VENOM during a band practice after a twelve hour drinking binge. Yeah I'm talking so fuckin barbaric and amateurish that it'll sicken sophistication craving tech snobs, post-metal college radio losers and invading hipsters looking for kicks. Then again none of these previously mentioned individuals would be caught dead with a copy of this. I'd doubt that they'd even illegally download it. Even when I played it at work for some unsuspecting victims I just couldn't stop laughing. It was sadistic humor gone over and beyond. I wasn't just sharing my music with others. I was torturing them beyond their comprehension of pain and getting away with it. I had to take it off the stereo or I would've bust a rib from laughing. But when the boys are at their best is when you can hear that sound of urgency which makes this an essential release for all those into the extreme side of things.
The first disc is the "Satanic Rites" demo from December 1983. There's plenty of choice cuts on here to remind you of where Tom G. Warrior and Martin Eric Ain would be heading soon afterwards with CELTIC FROST. Songs like "Messiah", "The Third of the Storms", "Maniac" and the title cut "Satanic Rites" are like ancient weapons from a bygone era. Although primitive by today's standards, in their time they were deadly. Tom G. is responsible for guitar and bass (as if their was any bass playing to be heard) as well as lead vocals on the "Satanic Rites" demo with the drums provided by Bruce Day. Martin Eric Ain only gets credit for the backing vocals. Of course a year later he would be playing bass for CELTIC FROST.
The second disc consists of their "Death Friend" and "Triumph of Death" demos which were recorded in June 1983. The first thing you'll notice is that there's some actual bass being played which is credited to Steve Warrior who also shares vocals. Tom G. takes care of the guitars and vocals and Bruce Day is on the drums. There's some earlier versions of cuts that would be rerecorded on "Satanic Rites" like "Triumph of Death", "Reaper", "Maniac" and "Crucifiction". Obviously since these are the ones which Tom G. was responsible for. But there's a few hell spawned gems sung by Steve Warrior that stand out like "Blood Insanity" with it's hardcore style and "Death Fiend" which drones forth only to pick up speed at mid-length. Personally I'm more into all of these ripe versions since there's that over indulgence of bass which is bludgeoning. Plus the vocals are like raw rasps from the bowels of Hell. Who would've guessed a Swiss band could be so fucking down right evil? They're such a peaceful, neutral, non-aggressive lot.
HATE ETERNAL - Fury and Flames CD
METAL BLADE RECORDS
You have to give Erik Rutan (guitarist/vocalist) alot of credit and respect for all that he's gone through over the years just trying to keep this band alive. Since he started HATE ETERNAL as a side project from his work in MORBID ANGEL back in the late 90s. (He would later leave them in 2002 to perform in HATE ETERNAL full time.) The man has watched a revolving door of line-up changes and even the loss of his friend and bandmate, Jared Anderson, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 30. And still with all that turmoil he continued to produce three well received and successful releases. On "Fury and Flames",their fourth release, Rutan returns with a whole new HATE ETERNAL line-up which includes bassist Alex Webster from CANNIBAL CORPSE and newcomers Shaune Kelly as second guitarist and Jade Stimonette on drums.
After listening to this I can easily say that "Fury and Flames" is Rutan's way of resolving some personal issues. Hey why pay a psychiatrist to talk to when all you really need is to enter a recording studio and vent your inner demons through music. Besides the couch might have erupted into flames once Rutan laid on it. This is most evident on songs like “Proclamation Of The Damned” and “Fury Within" in which HATE ETERNAL is like a volcanic eruption of Death/Grind destruction. I'm just talking musically now. If you factor in Rutan's vocals then it's as if he's exorcising demons from over a hundred past lives. In other words, he's pissed! Although he does show some humanity on "The Funeral March". By the way this release is dedicated to Jared Anderson.
If pain and suffering makes you stronger and this is HATE ETERNAL's strongest release to date. What kind of earthly hell will Erik Rutan have to endure next in order to surpass this beast of a release? There's a cut on here titled "Bringer of Storms" which to me is a precursor of future events. And it's strange how a song can bring back a distant memory from the past. During my second summer in Alaska, the summer of 85, I was at the top of a mountain with some friends (OK it was a smaller mountain since we did drive the four-wheeler up a dirt road). We all were looking off in the direction of the valley we had just crossed. And we could see this rain storm coming at us. It was erie since we were the same exact height of the storm clouds. The valley below was being drenched and then the clouds reached us. We didn't get rained on as bad since we were standing in the clouds. But I'll never forget that storm coming towards us. I remember one of my friends saying afterwards that there should've been some music playing when that happened. I now know what song should've been.
ELUVEITIE - Slania CD
Nuclear Blast Records
One of my favorite moments of this years Pagan Fest was seeing ELUVEITIE, all eight band members, crammed on stage performing at Volume 11 Tavern here in Raleigh, NC. Hey the place has a good size stage for an average sized band, but eight? Unfortunately I only caught the last half of their set since my friend and I were still waiting in line to get in when they started. Thankfully this CD fills those gaps of what we missed. And as far as Battle Metal or Pagan Folk Metal goes, ELUVETIE are not average. But if you're someone who just can't stand traditional folk inspired interludes with your Metal. I suggest you toss your SABBATH records in the trash. Oh yeah remember those folkish interludes? OK now that we've defined your hypocrisy in musical taste we can move on.
For me the little folk elements that this Swiss band does throw into their sound only adds to what is simply Gothenburg inspired Melodic Death Metal. We're talking heavy like a battle axe crushing an enemy's skull. Guttural vocals blend into the ripping guitars along with various medieval instruments. Call it beauty and the beast. ELUVEITIE are at their best on songs like "Bloodstained Ground" and "Tarvos". Obviously these cuts could never be played near the Alps for fear of avalanche.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
DEATH ANGEL - Killing Season CD
Nuclear Blast Records
Last year there was alot of talk about it being the year of the "Thrash Resurgence" with all these newcomers showing how well they were weened on their parent's old EXODUS and KREATOR Lps. So now 2008 will go down as the year when one of the most influencel Thrash bands to ever come out of the Bay Area scene in the 80s returned to show all the kiddies how it's done. Sure the band's "The Art of Dying" 2004 release might of told people that DEATH ANGEL was still alive and kicking. But on "Killing Season" the band is here to show all of you that they are still the masters of ass kicking Thrash.
"Killing Season" is simply a genre defining release. It's pure straight forward Thrash for people who like the original Thrash sound and style. All eleven cuts on here deliver that type of power which drives fans to raise their fists and scream. We're talking about music to hurt people over and commit violent acts of aggression just for the fun of it. This is 80s Thrash diving head first into the death pit of 2008. From the opening cut "Lord of Hate", after the quick acoustic guitar intro of course, you easily realise this is one release that you just can't stop moving to while it's blasting forth from your speakers. No kicking back in the easy chair while songs like "Sonic Beatdown" or "Buried Alive" are demanding your full attention. "God vs God" and "The Noose" are anthems of destruction which will have you bouncing off the walls in anticipation of seeing DEATH ANGEL at a club near you. Yeah I can see this CD sitting high on my end of the year "best of" list as well as the show they just put on during their 2008 tour stop in my city.
One more thing I'd like to point out about "Killing Season", if you're expecting anything more than vintage 80s style Thrash then forget it. That's what I like the most about this release. DEATH ANGEL didn't succumb to experimenting with perfection. The sound here is crisp with the guitars delivering onslaught style riffs and the rhythm section is held in check. Plus the vocals are delivered in that intense dramatic style. Any fool who would call this a nice little exercise in nostalgia will have their head blown clean off. Then again look on the bright side, you'll finally get some blood on your nice clean TRIVIUM t-shirt pussy.
BELPHEGOR - Bondage Goat Zombie CD
Nuclear Blast Records
Hail Chaos! Hail Satan! Hail BELPHEGOR! When it comes to Extreme Metal bands who blur the line between Black and Death, no one does it better than BELPHEGOR. There's nothing like blasting their past stuff on unsuspecting victims. Now we have this opus of primitive violence, their seventh studio release, to continue the torture. What's great about this new release is how BELPHEGOR stuck to the basics which is to blast out brutal hatemonger fury. And on this CD they've placed nine tracks that'll pack funeral homes with the dead bodies of wet shit, butt pissin, pussies who just couldn't handle it.
BELPHEGOR waste no fuckin time as the opening title cut slams you in the jaw like a vicious upper cut. The whole song is just a blast beat to the head. "Stigma Diabolicum" is Blackened Fuckin Thrash to turn a slam pit of spiked gauntlet wearing nutbags into a slaughterhouse. By the way, I play these two songs every day now after I get home from work to calm me down. Yeah sometimes my job pisses me off. But be that as it may, songs like "Armageddon's Raid" and "Sexdictator Lucifer" are comforting to people like me who believe hate pays the bills and there's a little left over at the end of the month. "Shred for Sathan" (don't you mean Satan?) is just a blast of fun in an ultra sick way. I can see how some anti-hate nerd scribes in certain Metal magazines might be turned off by the violent themes. Well tough fuckin shit but here's a bone. "Chronicles of Crime" hearkens back to NILE's good ole' days of Tech Death Metal. So for all of you out there who will automatically hate this. Please suck Satan's tail because his dick is so fucking big, it'll cause blood to flow out your nose. Do it while "Der Rutenmarsch" is playing. It's Blackened Death Metal at it's fuckin best and a perfect way to end this CD.
By now you've probably figured out that I'm a huge fan of BELPHEGOR. They are one of the many bands I like who are the epitome of Extreme Metal. Their music fuels my sanity in a world where alot of people tend to flock to shrinks for drugs to calm them down. Fuck that bullshit! I see this release as a step above their last one. A heightened aggression of brutality that works for anyone who needs a fucking release through great intense music. So hey if you've had a bad day or are angry to the point of pissed off motherfucker? Don't reach for the pills or the gun. Just put this CD on and let BELPHEGOR take your worries away.
AGENDA OF SWINE - Waves of Human Suffering CD
You've gotta love Pop Culture, well actually no you don't. But it's these Pop Culture Losers who like to subscribe to these worn out cliche terms like "The Second Coming" or "What Was Old is Now New Again" and of course the use of the word "Revival". Extreme music is not without the use of these same cliche terms when describing a genre that's suddenly back in "fashion". Take Grindcore for example, please? Sure NAPALM DEATH redefined the term "Extreme" back in the fuckin 1980s and I was there to witness it. But to some people it supposedly died in the 90s which is total bullshit. It simply went underground like almost all music genres that burn out the mainstream's appeal do. Sooner or later it rises like a phoenix from the ashes and takes out it's revenge. And as for the Grindcore music genre, bands like PIG DESTROYER, ANTIGAMA, and INSECT WARFARE, to name a few, have not only crawled out from the Underground's chokehold but have injected new life into a genre that surely needed it.
Now with all of that said, AGENDA OF SWINE are part of this latest Grindcore injection to the masses who eat it up like it was a free all you can eat buffet. Luckily for you, the members of this band are not upstarts just trying to ride some coattails into genre glory. Lead vocalist and main man, Pete Pontikoff, has paid his extreme music dues with San Francisco's BENUMB. Plus he's aided by some Powerviolence vets from the band VULGAR PIGEONS. Look em up on the fucking Internet if you're curious. Now for all of you who wanna hear "Phantom Limb Volume 2", sorry but it's not fucking here. But what you will get is some decent sounding mixture of Death Grind meets older Hardcore 80s fury. In other words it's the basics with a few twists that'll make the basement Hardcore scene tear down their homes during one of AGENDA OF SWINE's shows.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
BURZUM - Anthology CD
I have not had the pleasure of checking out any Myspace Black Metal Forum sites of late, for obvious reasons. What in theory is an incredible idea giving people from all across the world the ability to share knowledge on Metal's most notorious and misunderstood genre. Unfortunately they have become these children's daycare centers for bullying elitists. So with the release of this CD I'm sure that the whining by some of these cretins has gone up a notch. Think about it, here we have Varg Vikernes, who's non-musical exploits have progressed from reality towards mythical proportions. And now thanks to Candlelight Records his music is available to the masses or what these Forum flunkies refer to as "Non-Troo Black Metallers". Like they think it wasn't available before? Sure it's been a little pricey. I once saw a copy of "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" going for $24.99 in my local record store. Then again you could always check out Blackmetal.com and get a BURZUM release or two cheaper. But we're talking about these "Forum Brats" who wear alienation on their sleeves as a mark of pride and were still in their dad's balls when BURZUM's debut came out in 1992. So for them this release is their worst nightmare along with seeing BURZUM t-shirts on the same racks as CRADLE OF FILTH and DIMMU BORGIR at Hot Topic stores. But while these kids are whining about so-called hipsters storming the gates of Hell. They forget that hipsters serve a important purpose in any music scene. If the brats would simply take a few hours out of their illegal downloading, visit their local independent record store and comb through the Used CD racks, they would find treasures galore. You see hipsters, who I despise equally along with elitists, don't stick around for long. They're always on the lookout for the next big trend. So they sell their CDs after they get bored with them. I recently purchased a few CDs by a certain Black Metal band who in 2007 were considered to be "hip" for half their original price.
Now with all of that said anyone who thinks Varg's music will be loved by the latest trendys has their head up their ass and knows crap about BURZUM. The nine tracks on here represent ambient noise hostilely and treble blasting barbarism. Today we have plenty on one man Black Metal projects like CAINA, LEVIATHAN, JUDAS ISCARIOT and XASTHUR who are all great in their own right. But it was Varg Vikernes who created the template to which they copied and progressed upon. For me at least there are two cuts on here that exemplify the mad genius of Varg. The first is the blistering storm of "Jesus Tod". One night at work I had this CD blasting on our stereo. I was kicking back at the bar with a beer. My friend who bar tends was finishing up the cleaning. This song was playing and my friend looked at me and screamed, "Dude, you've got the most sickess smile on your face I've ever seen. I don't wanna know whatafuck this music is doing to your mind." "Jesus Tod" sounds like a mechanized beast methodically marching off to war thanks to an eerie guitar tone, pounding drums and Varg's fingernails running down a chalk board like vocals.
The second cut is "Det Som En Gang Var" which embraces the bleaker side of metalgaze and adds a wall of psych noise. Varg screams like some tortured animal throughout. Once the keyboards take over midway through the song turns into an avant-garde suicide serenade. It is at this point where the listener is either teetering on the brink of insanity or haunted with waking visions of malevolence. Either way if one can get through both of these bizarre yet passionate cuts than you'll be able to appreciate BURZUM to it's fullest extent. The rest of this CD is like a grim stroll through the depths of a nightmarish labyrinth. Best of all is that it's sequenced chronologically so you can listen to Varg's music progress from the early Black Metal blast beat barrage to more of an ambient style. I caution you not to play this at your next friendly get-together. This is for private listenings only, unless you're out to scare away hipsters. And for all of you young twits, this is not music to sit back and say "Cool Dude". I personally feel that no one without real life experience should be listening to this. I don't give a flying fuck about the number of hours you've spent playing violent video games on your X-Box. I don't care how much knowledge you've accumulated over the Internet. I don't give a rat's ass if your mom's a drunk and your stepfather rapes you on a nightly basis. Unless you're growning up in a warzone and witness inhuman atrocities on a daily basis, then maybe you can listen to this. Otherwise this CD is beyond the capabilities of any adolescent. Don't worry it'll still be around when you're all grown up.
HEAVEN SHALL BURN - Iconoclast (Part I: The Final Resistance) CD
Century Media Records
You know maybe it's me. Maybe I just want to go back in time and relive the late eighties and early nineties all over again. Maybe I have too much frost on the roof and it's slowly freezing my brain. Therefore I'm unable to catch onto this newer wave of "Deathcore" (it's not fuckin Death Metal people). Maybe I should just get two sixteen penny nails and shove them into my fuckin ear drums. You know when all the bands start sounding the same. The whole genre gets stagnate and boredom sets in. The hardcore fans start moving on or in this genre's case, growing up.
Of course all music genres suffer the same fate eventually, so I'm not singling out just "Deathcore" in general. Once the genre starts to grow then the imitators outnumber the originators. Then along comes individuals who want to branch out in order to create something new. Deathcore came about by infusing Death Metal with wannabe tough guy Hardcore. Maybe when it first rose it's ugly head the average listener could tell the difference between one band from another. But nowadays you have to be an expert and the average listener is left guessing. Yeah like, "Ah well it does sound familiar." Of course it all sounds familiar! It's the same recipe only the names and faces have changed.
What these Germans have done is simply water down the "core" part with more melodic overtones. Since this is their sixth release maybe they figured it was time to steer into a new direction. But there is no new ground being crossed here, as if this genre could do that. It's just the same tired theme which by 2008 has become aggressively lackluster. Someone needs to slap the kraut out5 of these guys.