Saturday, November 22, 2008

NECRONOCLAST - Haven CD review

Moribund Records

Scotland's Greg Edwards is the man behind the name NECRONOCLAST. He's responsible for all the guitars, vocals, and drum programming on Haven. He's also a miserable bastard who just released this excess of the Black Metal/Doom realm. It's the perfect release for when a winter ice storm hits and you're running your comfort sustaining power on batteries. Drop this dink into your CD player and watch the frost build up on the inside of your not so humble abode. What I do like about this is how Edwards doesn't try to numb you totally in soundscapes of sorrow and doom. He does hang into the misery index but is able to crank out some speed. Kinda like BURZUM in that he combines dissonant waves that also have melody running through. The vocals, if that's what you want to describe them as, are actually Black Metal rasps. Think of the harsh whispers of something lurking in that really dark corner of your home. You know that place where you can almost see eyes peering out at you from the blackness. This is perfect for late night listening when you are alone of course.

KILL THE CLIENT - Cleptocracy CD review

KILL THE CLIENT - Cleptocracy CD
Willowtip Records

Grindcore releases are fairly simple to review because to the music loving public you either like the genre or not. So for all of you people who hate the genre leave the room now. Next up, Cleptocracy is 18 tracks in 23 minutes of relentless grind that's just brutal for the sake of being brutal. These guys sound seriously pissed as if NAPALM DEATH screwed them over and are now chasing their tour bus down the highway on foot. Trust me they will catch them but they will be a mile ahead of them and have to double back. I mention NAPALM DEATH since KILL THE CLIENT have taken the older band's influence and ran with it, ah literally. In fact while writing this review this dink is on it's second rotation. It's insanely fast and chaotic. An intense firestorm of blasting from these Texans who I first learned about from that Grindcore compilation which came out on Relapse Records this year. Next time you're pissed off play this it just might help.

MOSS - Sub Templum CD review

MOSS - Sub Templum CD
Rise Above Records

Grass grows faster than this second release by MOSS. Seriously this is over an hour's worth of snail's crawl Doom. Actually I think a snail is faster in the crawl even after you crushed it under your fucking boot. Speaking of which, down-tuned crushing Doom is what you get on this four song nightmare. That's right four fucking cuts of feedback laced, extended drone, brutally slow ambiance. Don't dump the coffee from this morning into the sink. You'll need the really strong stuff to stay awake for this one. In all honesty I laid down and fell asleep the first time I played this, albeit the volume was turned down low. And since I'm being all honest with you I'll let this item fly out. This thing is so fucking bleak and miserable that it makes alot of atmospheric ambient shoe-gazing Black Metal sound down right cheerful.

Seriously this is no leisurely wait for a bus while standing in a tar pit with water dripping on your head once a minute. Now that would be eventful. I actually thought something was wrong with this during the opening cut "RITUS". It's five minutes of basically nothing but then "SUBTERRANEAN" kicks in. That's speaking figural of course since nothing kicks in on here. But there's some enormous riffs which echo like thunder in the mountains. Although it's an uneasy wait between them like bouncing off the walls as you're falling down a bottomless pit. I'll credit to Dominic Finbow's ability to drag a guitar chord to it's fullest extent. And then there's the vocals ok that's a stretch. What Olly Pearson does is wail from some far off place. Remember that bottomless pit I mentioned earlier? Sub Templum is the perfect soundtrack for someone who has alot of time to kill. Like someone spending life in prison maybe? Hey dying is easy but listening to this is a sentence I wouldn't wish on anyone I didn't hate.

STORMING DARKNESS - Sin Thesis CD review

Knightmare Recordings

Debut release from this Russian Black Metal band who are not afraid of some decent sound that's not weighted down in mud. This band takes their cues from early GORGORTH and DARKTHRONE for influence. So if you are looking for innovation you are in the wrong place. But together it all makes for a decent release worthy to stack up against other new bands of today. Personally I'll never get tired of bands who churn out powerfully cold riffs and spit venom for lyrics. Nine cuts of that convey an atmosphere of pure horror especially the non-stop blast beating drums. Although there are a few passages that let up for the weak ones amongst you to catch a breath.

The opener "V. and R./Supreme Murderer Moral" is a typical crushing number that sets things off. If you can survive this then you've got the goat's blood dripping from your sacrificial knife licked. This continues on through the next group of songs. Like walking down a long hallway with torture devices lining the walls. Each one adding more pain as you get through it's deadly assault on your senses. "Black Night of Soul/ Eschatological Hallucinations" and "Necrofaith Song / Voiceless Decadence" are two cuts which do give the listener a subtle break from this pain inducing madness. "Necrofaith Song / Voiceless Decadence" is a instrumental which embraces the listener in a cloak of dark themed abandonment.

STORMING DARKNESS have been around since 2001 and have released three demos, an EP and appeared on a split with fellow Russian Black Metallers Sigillum Diaboli in 2006. So what you have here is something cold and well crafted. I wouldn't be surprised if their next opus of suffering ends up on Moribund Cult or even a larger Label.

WORSE THAN BIRTH - Three Song Fall 2008 Demo CD review

WORSE THAN BIRTH - Three Song Fall 2008 Demo CD
Self Released

If Metal were McDonaldized than WORSE THAN BIRTH would probably be on the dollar menu. Faux Death Metal meets Post Groove Metalcore and what's with the Progressive guitar interlude on the first cut "Weeping Cunt"? At first I thought the song was ending with a nice sweet melody just to show that they have feelings. Actually that's not true, I thought they stole something from OPETH and spliced it in. It sounds like total shit. What's worse is that they repeat the same formula in the second cut. Their guitarist is playing this Progressive lead throughout the opening while the bass, drums and vocals are fighting it out for brutality. It all breaks down halfway through as WORSE THAN BIRTH pretend to Grind their way out to the cuts end. Third cut, same thing again. It's like vomit on the bathroom floor after a night of heavy drinking and Chinese buffet. For as much talent this band has it's unfortunate that their songs are structured like an undone puzzle. And guess what? You too will have a chance to see this all play out at this years Death Fest on Dec. 6th at Volume 11 Tavern. That's if you're lucky to be in Raleigh, NC that day. Also if you're really lucky then this band will start chucking these dinks out into the audience like Chinese throwing stars. Have a few drinks first it deadens the pain.

AVENGER OF BLOOD - Death Brigade CD review

Heavy Artillery Records

This is beautiful just fucking beautiful! When it comes to these new Thrash bands coming out of late it's not that you've heard it all before. Only jaded idiots who jack off to HARVEY MILK think that. Oh did I offend someone out there? Well good because you need to be offended to the point where you get your head out of your ass and join in on the fun. The best part of this new Thrash Revival is seeing who some of these bands are aping on their releases. Clearly this Las Vegas band worships at the alter of Slayer, Kreator and Sodom, toss in some MEGADEATH for melody and you have four aces to lay down at the table.

My first introduction to this band came from hearing them on the Heavy Artillery Records compilation CD Speed Kills Again in 2007. That comp also featured tracks by MERCILESS DEATH, TOXIC HOLOCAUST and WARBRINGER, all of whom I've kept a close eye on since first hearing them. AVENGER OF BLOOD are the epitome of devastating old style Thrash that drives old fuckers like me into thinking of jumping into a pit one more time. Which is something I don't do anymore. I leave the pummeling to the younger crowd nowadays. Although watching the youngsters try to slam dance can be more painful than being in one. If you know what I mean and I bet you do. So I now just stand in the back or off to the side. Let the music envelope me and pit in my brain. Which by the way is the most awesome pit you've ever been in or witnessed. We slam with running chainsaws.

Death Brigade is an all out retro Thrash fest which is an assault on everything that's in the band's sights. You will be won over immediately by the opening cut “Vicious Onslaught" and if not then you need to lick the floor of the hall after one of this band's gigs. "Poserslaughter" is a cut dedicated to those who can't handle it. Pump your fucking fist to the guitar solos on "Mortally Wounded" and tell me you can't hear echoes of King and Hanneman. You know that those guys along with everyone else from the original days of Thrash are smiling with pride when they hear this stuff. Especially with the song "Terminate" which I swear sounds close to having Tony Araya on guest vocals. Even the slightly low-fi production smacks of old school Thrash. It makes this dink sound like some long lost release from years ago. Like finding a rare vinyl LP from the 80s Thrash era hidden amidst alot crap at the local used record store.

I know that there are still alot of jaded losers who will say that if they wanted to hear old school Thrash then they will pull out the old records and play them. Yeah right as if they didn't sell them in order to buy some other crap. Well forget those losers because they are dead to everyone. But I know that there are plenty of old fucks like myself who go apeshit over hearing bands like AVENGER OF BLOOD. That's who this CD is for, old fucks like me and the new kids who are experiencing this for the first time.

WAYLANDER - Honor Amongst Chaos CD review

WAYLANDER - Honor Amongst Chaos CD
Listenable Records

WAYLANDER has had a rich and significant history in the Pagan Folk Metal scene. The Northern Ireland band started out in 1998 and prior to this latest CD the band had two previous releases. Their first, Reawakening Pride Once Lost, is a cult favorite amongst fans of this genre. They followed that up with 2001's The Light, the Dark, and the Endless Knot which also garnered the band praise from fans. But since then WAYLANDER has been silent until now. WAYLANDER's Pagan Folk Metal sound is reminiscent of Finland's KORPIKLAANI in that they too intertwine traditional homeland folk instruments and song structures within their Metal sound. There's plenty of other bands under this genre title that just add a violin or an accordion solo to a song and call it Folk Metal. But WAYLANDER don't rely on cliched folk styles or gimmicks. Secondly they lean more toward Black Metal which is great in my book.

Honor Amongst Chaos is a release that could turn even the most jaded Anti-Folk Metal listener into a fan. Nine great tracks all longer that five minutes and each it's own mini-epic. There's a dynamic feeling behind each cut on here. Once you think you have them figured out WAYLANDER toss chaos into your midst. Insanity under control as Black Metal signatures mix with traditional Irish Folk music. Blast beats and tin whistles getting equal time together. Acoustic guitar passages morphing into traditional Metal anthems with joined in choruses. The vocals are a mix of harsh Black Metal shrieks and clean vocals. And the lyrics are more like the tales of an ancient story teller. These are things you find in the history books. All in all one of the best Pagan Folk Metal releases I've heard this year.

SOTHIS - De Opresso Liber CD review

SOTHIS - De Opresso Liber CD
Candlelight Records

There's a rule in the music business concerning success, if something sells then find more just like it. Now as far as mainstream Black Metal goes, bands like DIMMU BORGIR, CRADLE OF FILTH and to some extent SATYRICON are big sellers to certain Metal fan demographics. So any intelligent record executive who likes his or her job is going to find bands that are similar to what is selling. And we're not just talking about style or sound since any good producer can take a decent band who's willing to work hard and make em into a great one. But there's the "look" so one day you're wearing stuff from the second hand store. The next you've got a clothing allowance from Hot Topic and endorsements from foot wear companies.

So here we have SOTHIS who, according to a line I read from the Candlelight Records site, are "the next big black metal band". This Los Angeles, California five piece play Symphonic Black Metal which is based on the Norwegian style template. The band has been around since 1999 so anyone thinking that they're Black Metal band wagon jumping scum would be wrong. In 2004 they released a four song CD which caught the ears of someone at Candlelight Records. They've got the look of an Americanized DIMMU BORGIR. And after checking them out on Youtube. I'd say their years of playing on the Sunset Strip have payed off with an impressive stage presence.

To the band's credit this CD sounds great as in corpse paint by the numbers polished perfection. The band's singer Drogoth has a decent sounding harsh vocal style. Their Keyboardist Asperia, a big breasted corpse painted babe, leads the band's sound by layering each song with plenty of synthesizer. Although guitarists Scathe and Nylock are geared toward riffing you through the grim path that's accented with an orchestral backdrop. Plenty of blast beating provided by their drummer Dross and thunderous bass lines from Keres. Former KING DIAMOND guitarist Andy LaRocque is responsible for the production. Oh and one more important thing to mention. Those are very close to the same words I had written about another new Symphonic Black Metal band from the U.S this year.

I'm not saying that SOTHIS sat down one day and decided to clone themselves after DIMMU BORGIR or CRADLE OF FILTH. It's just that the Symphonic Black Metal genre is very constrained when it comes to expanding on the theme. Comparisons to others are going to be inevitable. Especially if your promotional tool is geared toward the Hot Topic shoppers. Those people don't mind bands being ordinary. They just wanna buy a t-shirt especially if it has the CD cover art on it.

GAMA BOMB - Citizen Brain CD review

GAMA BOMB - Citizen Brain CD
Earache Records

Well I knew that sooner or later one of these new Thrash revival bands was gonna ruin my good feeling about the genre's return to form. Like years ago during the heyday of Thrash you had your undisputed kings who took themselves and the music seriously. I'm talking about the West Coast bands and their European counterparts. And then you had those other bands who sounded good at first. But then after a while you realized that they were more suited for the poseur punk crowd. Case in point back in the 80s the cool people liked SLAYER and the punks liked ANTHRAX. I know it should be obvious but I hated ANTHRAX but I loved SOD, go figure. I'm not saying that GAMMA BOMB play ANTHRAX style crap. If they did then I would have a better use for this CD instead of reviewing it. Hmmm? Yeah like using it to slice the throat of the first pants dragging neanderthal I saw walking through my neighborhood. Unfortunately they avoid my neighborhood as much as I avoid there's. Coincidentally GAMA BOMB are Irish. I guess you have to have an intelligent sense of history to understand that one.

To the band's credit they are not EVILE, a band so pathetically silly that I wouldn't waste my time to review em. I'm too busy to shovel more shit onto that pile. But GAMA BOMB tend to take their fun aspects of Thrash close to the silly zone. At least MUNICIPAL WASTE sing about partying but when GAMMA BOMB does a song about the video game "Space Invaders" or clothing accessories "Bullet Belt", please. And then there's "Sentenced to Thrash" which is probably a big hit with the juggalo skin/wigger crowd. Now the zombie songs are cool. Who the fuck doesn't love zombies other than the people who are about to be eaten by one? And I'll give em their due with "Thrashaholic" and "Final Fight". Although in the end do I really wanna play this on a regular basis or pull out some of those better New Thrash bands?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

TYR - Land CD review

TYR - Land CD
Napalm Records

One of the highlights for me at this year's Pagan Fest was seeing TYR for the first time. I was familiar with the Faroe Islands band's music from repeated listenings to their Ragnarok CD from 2006. At Pagan Fest TYR band leader Heri Joensen handed me a Napalm Records ad which foretold of this new release. Well it's been plenty of months since then and now here's Land. On a first listen I can tell this is not a concept album like Ragnarok. Instead it's a collection of songs or better yet, stories. One of the strengths of the Pagan Folk Metal genre is how the various bands sing tales filled with history and myth. If ever the term "Thinking Man's Metal" needed applying then it is with the bands of the Pagan Folk Metal genre, especially TYR. Another important note is that of all the bands within this now crowded genre, TYR have a sound all their own.

One signature TYR offering is the vocal styles. The songs start out singular then the chorus joins in. It's that Folk aspect which is used on Land in rousing fashion. The songs sung in their native Faroese are my favorites but there are also some sung in English and Norwegian. As always when it comes to artists in this genre. The ones who sing in their native language always sound more authentic. That's what made their Ragnarok release so great as well as their How Far To Asgard CD. This CD opens with "Gandkvaedi Trondar", which is a poem about a Faroese chieftain who fought for independence. It has an instrumental backdrop that does set the mood for what follows. Songs like "Sinklars Visa" and "Gatu Rima" are powerful bursts of Viking sagas with majestic sing along choruses. The song "Brennivin" still carries the pace along but unfortunately is not a perfect mood setting for what follows.

There are two long epics on this release. The first is "Ocean" which combines both Folk and Progressive Metal styles into it. It's a 10 minute long opus sung in English amidst the mostly instrumental overlay. The second one and the most majestic sounding of the two is the title cut. "Land" is 16 minutes and continues the musical theme of the aforementioned "Ocean". The three cuts that come in between the two epics, "Fipan Fagra", "Valkyrjan" and "Lokka Tattur", all follow the same style of the CD's first couple of numbers. The biggest surprise on Land is the closer, "Hail To The Hammer". This is a remake or extended version of the song which originally appeared on the band's How Far To Asgard CD.

This is TYR's fourth CD and if you're a fan of their previous work then you'll notice the journey they've traveled musically. Although their tried and true style is intact on Land. I can hear the Progressive quality that their music is moving towards. Although I doubt they will ever add keyboards to their sound. It just wouldn't cut it and it would be out of sync with the genre. Land is a damm good record and the people of the Faroe Islands should be proud of their native sons.


BLACKWINDS - Flesh Inferno CD review

BLACKWINDS - Flesh Inferno CD
Regain Records

To quote their site, "Blackwinds is the utter celebration of the death of all beings, the quintessence of the destroyer". That's a bold statement from two corpse painted Swedes. But the fact is they do come through with a musical onslaught on all of your senses. The band is made up of Lord Kraath and Lord Mysteriis both of whom are or were in the band SETHERIAL. In fact back in 1999 Lord Mysteriis started BLACKWINDS only as a side project which released the 7"er The Black Wraiths Ascend. For a while nothing was heard from BLACKWINDS up until earlier this year with the release of the Origins CD. This contained the aforementioned 7"er plus some extra tracks. Which brings us to this latest CD here. And once again I say this because it does bare repeating, it's a musical onslaught.

Although if you are familiar with the hyper blackened speed which SETHERIAL were known for then you might be surprised by this. Flesh Inferno from the start is heavily in the ferociously melodic variety of Black Metal. There's a fair amount of keyboards used here to set a haunting atmosphere of eeriness. Nevertheless there's an abundance of harshness courtesy of blast-beating drums and tremolo picking guitar torture. Plus there's enough harsh shrieking to bring the authorities to your front door informing you that they got a report that there was an animal being tortured on your premises. "Not tonight officer I'm just reviewing the new BLACKWINDS CD. By the way the cover art was done by Erik Danielsson of WATAIN. I've just finished the reviews second paragraph and was about to replay it again. Wanna come in for a beer?"

Fans of early DARK FUNERAL and DIMMU BORGIR will probably get into this more than those who like their Blackness raw, stinking and putrid. Personally I like a little bit of everything. The riffs are memorable in their catchyness which is definitely a Swedish Black Metal signature trait. It's middle of the road type of aggression. One which I'm starting to see alot of newer Symphonic/Epic sounding U.S. bands take. Although the difference is that when BLACKWINDS deliver their blackened arrangements it sounds authentic. And that's the meaning behind the onslaught.

PREY FOR NOTHING - Violence Divine CD review

PREY FOR NOTHING - Violence Divine CD
Rusty Cage Records

Here is an extraordinary well crafted debut release for this Israeli Melodic Death Metal band. Not that there's anything groundbreaking enough to set it apart from other great bands of the genre past and present. It's just the execution of their playing and the talent shown from them on a first release. Even the really great ones from the past took two or three releases to sound this good. Chalk it up to lots of practicing or a smart professional turning the knobs in the studio. In the end the bottom line is that I like it and chances are you will too.

There are a number of things on Violence Divine which jump out at you. The first are the vocals by Yotam Avni. A number of Melodic Death Metal bands have singers with a wide range of vocal styles. Besides the growling there's the softer toned voice which many absolutely fail at and I just laugh. Not with Yotam Avni because aside from his more blackened tortured screams and throaty growls he tosses in normal vocals, although still harsh sounding, which emote an extreme amount of passion and pain. And if you look upon the subject matter within the songs on here you can understand why. Another point here is that PREY FOR NOTHING add slight Progressive Metal touches into their sound. Once again this is nothing new to the genre. But listening to guitarists Yaniv Aboudy and Eyal Glottman thread these elements into these songs is decent. At times they're overwhelming and obviously bombastic. Other instances are subtle which makes for a more interesting listen.

To be honest with you I have given up on a lot of Melodic Death Metal this year. You haven't seen many releases reviewed by me of that genre for a simple reason. Every new band follows the same worn template. There's far too many AT THE GATES wannabes farting around in studios with some high paid producer who's able to make them stars for a year or two. Yes this band did have genius Jacob Hansen producing Violence Divine. But to their credit PREY FOR NOTHING left the Melodic Death Metal template out in the parking lot and marched on their own beat. You all should know by now that I'm jaded and proud of it. But there's always an exception to my loose personal tastes. So as long as PREY FOR NOTHING can put out future releases which have staying power and interest, I'll be a fan.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

GNAW THEIR TONGUES - An Epiphanic Vomiting of Blood CD review

GNAW THEIR TONGUES - An Epiphanic Vomiting of Blood CD
Crucial Blast

This is not music. It's an experiment in terror that proves this one man Industrial Black Metal project by the artist known as Mories is seriously disturbed. Do you know what else? I LIKE IT! I wish I had this on Halloween. I wish everyone I know (well just the sick twisted ones) had this on Halloween. Get it now and save it for next year because it needs to played so people who come to your front door will hear it. Trust me they will never come to your door again. Screw that I would want this to play automatically every time some schmuck comes to my front door trying to sell me something. Like those annoying Girl Scouts, fuck them and their cookies. I can't believe that this guy is from Holland. For those of you who don't know, my father's ancestors came to the colonies from Holland prior to the Revolutionary War. So there is a kinship between the guy from GNAW THEIR TONGUES and I. Then again after someone listens to this tormenting massacre I doubt anyone will want to be alone in the same room with me.

I should've had this prior to the election. Every time some under paid campaign canvasser came to my door to tell me about (place any random candidate's name here). I could've put this CD on. The poor bastard would try to convince me to vote for their favorite clown. All the while the twisted orchestral sounds, Black Metal shrieks, crushing Doom, and samples of individuals in peril, would cry out at them. When one of them would start to leave (run away most likely) I could ask them to come in and tell me more. Yeah sure and the authorities would be at my door the following day wanting to ask a few questions. I could always play them this CD.

But on a more serious note after listening to this a few times. I started to dig deeper into the substance of what was crawling out of my stereo speakers. I was trying to hear everything in the background like the voices, conversations, samples, etc. Then I started to wonder, it's not the music or the man who created it that's disturbing. It's the one who sits there enjoying it like myself. We're the ones who are mentally numb towards the horror. Listening to this is like looking into a mirror. If the reflection you see doesn't repulse you, then what?

AMON AMARTH - Twilight of the Thunder God CD review

AMON AMARTH - Twilight of the Thunder God CD
Metal Blade Records

I'm of the firm belief that if vikings had electricity not only would they have listened to Metal, but AMON AMARTH would have headlined a few after conquest celebrations. Since 1992 this Swedish horde has been pounding out old school Melodic Death Metal laced with themes of Viking mythology, Norse Gods, tales of battle hardened warriors, Ragnarok, etc. Their 2006 release, With Oden on Our Side, saw the band finally reaching the top of the mountain or Asgard whichever you prefer. As far as the Viking/Battle Metal genre goes AMON AMARTH are it's rulers with fans worldwide. So will this new one take them to a higher level?

No it won't because you cannot reach any higher plateau than the one the band stands on today. In other words Twilight of the Thunder God is a great release. Just look at the cover art which depicts Thor wielding Mjolnir against the Midgard Serpent, Jormungand. You would have to be a real LOSER not to get off on that. Musically there's plenty more battle themed epics of Viking lore to keep anyone wearing a plastic horned Halloween store helmet happy. And while you're at it raise that plastic horn full of mead to your lips and take a big gulp. Because the production on Twilight of the Gods is in the low end of the scale. In other words the long boats won't sneak up on ya this time around. The guitars on here will blow you out of your make shift throne. Sure there's plenty of majestic Gothenburg sounding melody and that only makes Johan Hegg's bellows of a voice even more thunderous.

If there's one thing about this AMON AMARTH release that separates it from the previous six is the "special guests" who appear on it. For starters Roope Latvala from CHILDREN OF BODOM does some guitar shredding on the title track. Then there's Lars Göran Petrov from ENTOMBED adding vocals to “Guardians of Asgard". And if that's not enough then the biggest surprise of all is APOCALYPTICA adding strings to “Live for the Kill.” But will all of that bring forth more to the already huge legion of AMON AMARTH's army?

Probably not since if you've heard their music before and are not a fan already this won't change your mind. There are alot of people in certain Metal echelon circles who think Viking and Pagan/Folk Metal is ridiculous to start with. Secondly to them old styled Death Metal is over with. These people believe in music progression. Yeah like progressing all the fun out of it until it's only noise for nimrods. AMON AMARTH write incredibly interesting songs that sound great, grab your soul and tear you away from the here and now. And isn't that what Metal is all about? That's why I am a fan.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FAITH IN ASHES show review 10/30/08 w/WATAIN at Volume 11 Tavern Raleigh, NC

FAITH IN ASHES show review 10/30/08 w/WATAIN at Volume 11 Tavern Raleigh, NC

This show review also appears on the myspace blog at:

at Volume 11 Tavern Raleigh, North Carolina Oct. 30th, 2008

Back in the early part of 2008 a friend of mine told me about some bands playing a nearby club. He told me one of them was a Black Metal band. I was apprehensive since the club he was talking about wasn't known for putting on decent Metal shows. Maybe in the past but not now in 2008. Still I had nothing to do that evening so my destination was the club. This was the night where I was introduced to sounds of FAITH IN ASHES. They were the third band on the bill. At that time they were a five piece act with two guitarists, drummer, bassist and lead vocalist. Also they were crunched together on the club's small stage. They played a melodic style of Black Metal accented with neo-classical influences. I was completely surprised by them that night. While the lion's share of USBM (United States Black Metal) acts are taking their influences straight from BURZUM, DIMMU BORGIR or early EMPEROR. Here was this band from Raleigh, North Carolina who sounded more like early CHILDREN OF BODOM or a more blackened OPETH. That night I promised myself that I would keep an eye on FAITH IN ASHES. Especially if they get a chance to play a bigger venue.

Well as the months passed I did see that FAITH IN ASHES were playing larger venues. Unfortunately I missed all those opportunities to catch their shows. That was until this night October 30th, which as a youth we use to call "Hell Night". Sweden's Black Metal warriors, WATAIN, were playing the Volume 11 Tavern here in Raleigh, North Carolina and FAITH IN ASHES were also on the bill along with BOOK OF BLACK EARTH and WITHERED. Obviously this was going to be an incredible show since I sold my soul to WATAIN a while ago. In fact their Sworn To The Dark CD was on our SCUMFEAST METAL's Best of 2007 list. They were second only to ASTARTE's CD. But of course this was the perfect chance to catch FAITH IN ASHES in their element. And definitely an important role they had this night. They were to open an incredible Black Metal show on Hell Night.

When FAITH IN ASHES took the stage this night I immediately noticed two major changes since the last time I saw them. The first is that they've added a sixth member, Greg Meckley, on keyboards. This was an obvious move to enhance their sound making them more symphonic or epic. The second thing was that they were all wearing corpse paint. Up until this point the band's motto was no corpse paint and no fashion. The latter part was still the same. They came on stage wearing what I would call street clothes, black of course. Later on I would find out that their wearing of corpse paint was in honor of Halloween. On a side note I'd say that their new keyboardist, Greg Meckley,looked the best since he wore his like Abbath from IMMORTAL. Alright enough for stage presence, onto the music.

After an epic sounding keyboard opening FAITH IN ASHES blazed forth onto the crowd their Black Metal salvo. Immediately I realized Micah Moses's vocal quality has surpassed what I heard him do before. His death growls were meaner than a starved pitbull bitch in heat and his harsh screams were much better than before too. How harsh you ask? Imagine your 99 year old granny after smoking a carton of Lucky Strikes and downing 3 mason jars of old time Johnston County shine. Yeah that kind of harsh is what I'm talking about. Plus Micah was in full theatrical mode on this night. Whipping his body in front of the crowd like a possessed pantomime.

For those of you new to FAITH IN ASHES who plan on checking out their songs on the band's myspace site after reading this, here's a warning. The songs on there are older demos so don't judge them now for their past efforts. This was especially true at this show. Musically FAITH IN ASHES are on their way to creating something artistic irrespective of genre trends. During their performance I was moving from one side of the venue to the other. Just trying to hear every bit of what was being played. Whether it was guitarist Adam Johnson's intricate solos or guitarist Jesse O'Neal's abrasive riffing, both were mapping a construct beyond the confines of the genre. Together they laid down an unabashed cold melodic flow during their thirty minute set. As far as the midsection of the band, both bassist Jeff Pertz and drummer Justin Valletta never once went overboard on rhythm section hyperbole. And the keyboard playing by Greg Meckley was an added subtlety which made FAITH IN ASHES overall this night sound skilled.




November, 14 2008 08:00 PM - Berkeley Cafe @ Raleigh, North Carolina

December, 6 2008 08:00 PM - NC Death Fest @ Volume 11 Raleigh, North Carolina


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NOCTURNAL FEAR - Code of Violence CD review

NOCTURNAL FEAR - Code of Violence CD
Moribund Records

This has been a decent year for Thrash Metal considering all the naysayers out there who see it as a threat to their post non-metal crap. Whether it was old heroes coming back to kick more ass or the new school crowd out to have fun. Thrash is back and that's not a boast but a fact so deal with it losers. As far as Detroit's NOCTURNAL FEAR, they have been around since 2000 so I wouldn't drop them into the new school crowd. Secondly their brand of Thrash is based on the more European style. If you need a reference point then think SODOM or KREATOR. Also there's that bloody touch of Death Metal influence lingering on this release which pushes it more into the Extreme.

NOCTURNAL FEAR was once a four piece outfit but dropped their bass player and singer. They replaced them both with Necromodeus who handles the bass and vocals. Obviously the two other band members made the right choice. Necromodeus's anger accented vocals fit perfectly beside Slavehunter's guitar pyrotechnics. After listening to this for three days straight I've actually forgotten who else was decent this year in the genre. Yeah that's what is so perfect about Code of Violence. It only reminds you of them and the feeling you had the last time you punched some piece of garbage in the face. Some crybabies out in cyberspace have made known that Slavehunter is also a member of a band with extreme views. Whatever, I didn't hear anything on this release which could be considered non-extreme.

GORATH - Misotheism CD review

GORATH - Misotheism CD
Descent Productions

This third full length from Belgium act GORATH is an impressive piece of Black Metal to say the least. Upon my first initial listen I was at a total loss for words. It's a concept album about religious heresy throughout the ages. The title means hatred of god, "miso" is hatred and "thei" is god. Thankfully there's some extensive liner notes to keep you from feeling lost in their darkness. At times the songs on here are spine shattering blasts of power, only to move off into more atmospheric territory. But once you're feeling comfortable GORATH returns to the chaotic sounds and fury. The vocals are not harsh screaming but instead more guttural shouts and spoken words. There's also Gregorian chants and acoustic guitar passages.

It's a perfect contrast almost like the ideas behind the music. The two most important aspects of religion are pain and pleasure. That's basically what this release is about musically. It breaks you out of every comfort zone you try to position yourself. This is not something you can just drop into the stereo and walk away. There's too much intelligent story telling behind every song.

ANNIHILATION TIME - Tales of the Ancient Age CD review

ANNIHILATION TIME - Tales of the Ancient Age CD
Tee Pee Records

I heard that this band was just another entry into the latest Thrash Scene Revival. But then I saw what label had put this out I was like, "you've gotta be fucking kidding me." Look I like this whole Thrash Revival thing and I understand that almost every decent Metal label now has at least one Thrash band signed. But this is TEE PEE Records, a label known for putting out modern day lethargic Psych by such bands as BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE and the WARLOCKS. Oh well anything is possible in the music business. So after letting this play for a few cuts I'm here to say this is not Thrash. Actually it sounds like what preceded it by a few years, Hardcore.

Now don't get all out of whack. Someone says the word "Hardcore" then all these ideas come flying out of the pie holes of babes. If I didn't know that this was brand new then I would've thought it came out circa 1980-83 from a west coast band. Wow guess what? ANNIHILATION TIME are from Oakland, Calif. What some modern day revisionists forget to mention is that Hardcore bands, the good early ones, had influences of Punk, Metal and Hard Fuckin Rock in their sound. And this band channels that early sound on this release. So I think it's fucking great. Actually this might be a perfect shot in the arm to all these modern day Hardcore bands who just wanna be NEGATIVE APPROACH without shaving their heads. These guys also have that early Hardcore lyrical spirit of not living by rules, drinking, partying, and fucking. Once again this is good stuff.

WALDHEIM - Fight Against Time CD review

WALDHEIM - Fight Against Time CD
Santo Grial Records

The debut full length from northern Spain's WALDHEIM combines traditional Melodic Death Metal with elements of the more Progressive nature. Nothing new under the sun to that degree. But it's the way all seven members of WALDHEM, yes I said seven, combine all the elements into one cohesive sound. Obviously they've been working hard for a long time in order to sound like veterans. The vocals, shared male and female, don't overpower one another. The guy growls and the woman has that operatic vocal that adds an almost Gothic quality. The two guitarists marry their riffs and leads together which keeps this from being boring like some of their better known peers of the genre. They also step out of the proverbial genre box by showing flair in some of the soloing. The keyboards weave a neo-classical tapestry through out, never dragging. Rhythm section just as powerful and adds a steady backdrop to everything else going on here. I'd say WALDHEIM will be fairly well known in this genre next year after a big label signs them up. They're as good as any other acts in this genre. And in some areas even better.

TESTAMENT - The Formation of Damnation CD review

TESTAMENT - The Formation of Damnation CD
Nuclear Blast Records

Well atleast it doesn't suck like some of their mid-career efforts. I could just leave it at that and be done with it. But we are talking about TESTAMENT dude. The band that was just missing something to hold the horseman of early Thrash, SLAYER, METALLICA, MEGADEATH, and ANTHRAX to a foursome. Personally I always thought TESTAMENT kicked ANTHRAX's fucking asses. ANTHRAX wasn't Thrash, it was music for wiggers. TESTAMENT should've been that fourth horseman, pillar or whatever the fuck you want to call it. But atleast the band's fanbase knew they were good enough. Having one foot in the mainstream and the other in the underground ain't a bad thing.

So here we have TESTAMENT 2008 with the exception of drummer Louie Clemente, this release features four out of five members from the original line-up. Vocalist Chuck Billy, who thankfully survived his bout with cancer, sounds fuckin great. No fuck that, he sounds hungry and mean whether he's growling or screaming. The same can be said about the musicianship on this dink. Guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick sound as if they never left each other's side. You'll notice that right after the opening intro, "For the Glory of" ends and "More Than Meets The Eye" kicks in. I'm telling you that seconds into it you're forgeting that this band has been around in one form or another for 20 years. Yes this sounds fucking fresh, exciting, and on the same level as their past great releases. The title cut and “The Persecuted Won’t Forget” are full bore thrashers. Makes want long hair again so I can really "bang it". All the songs on here prove without a doubt that TESTAMENT are not back to be some nostalgia act. No they're here to rekindle the fire for us fans. Obviously their Thrash pilot light was never turned off.

IRONSWORD - Overlords of Chaos CD review

IRONSWORD - Overlords of Chaos CD
Shadow Kingdom Records

One of the best things about the growing Battle Metal genre is how it has brought to the surface so many traditional or NWOBHM sounding bands to the forefront. The funny thing is that long before all the genre defining went on, we just called it METAL. That's what this power trio from Portugal plays, METAL. It's the sound from a bygone era. Back in a time when men were men and carried swords of steel. Women were women but they were scantly clad and big breasted. And metrosexuals were not writing books on metal. The tracks on Overlords of Chaos read like titles to epic fantasy paperbacks. "Dark Shadows Of Stygia", "Wrath Of Crom" and "The Pyre Of Kings" all conjure up visions of barbarians storming the gates of Metal Hell crashing through to reclaim their true throne. Musically this is powerful with heavy handed riffs, leads that will slice torsos in half and singalong choruses to raise your fists too. Hail the horns! Hail the steel! Plus there's also special guest vocals by MANILLA ROAD's Mark Shelton on a couple of tracks. That just adds more to the authentic feeling this release has.

BONDED BY BLOOD - Feed the Beast CD review

BONDED BY BLOOD - Feed the Beast CD
Earache Records

When you name your band after the album title from one of the best 80's Thrash acts ever. You better be good, damm good. Name recognition is one thing that might get people interested. But if your chops are plain old homage or silly noodling around? You are fucking toast. Luckily for these kids they've given due respect to their forebearers by recording a debut worthy of their name. Feed The Beast is an aggressive piece of headbanging, slam pit inducing mania. Their music is more serious than silly like some of their peer's releases. Guitarist's Alex Lee and Juan Juarez show right from the opening cut till the end that twin shredding will be the sound of the day. These guys toss out leads that'll make their namesake proud. The drumming on here is more fit for slaughtering. Vocal-wise Jose Barrales does a great job sounding flat out sinister with his scream attack.

Obviously you're going to have some jaded pieces of shit who'll flat out call this retro Thrash EXODUS worshipping. But that will just show they just gave this one listen with their heads planted up their asses. BONDED BY BLOOD sound more like the EXODUS of today than of old. But then you can thank the crispy clean production on here for that. And in my not so humble opinion I think Feed the Beast is better than EXODUS's latest. Plus these guys are from California you know where Thrash was born dude! This is more like the apple not falling too far from the tree than ripping off from the past. Get your heads out of your asses you jaded fucks and check out songs like "Immortal Life", "Vengeance", "Self Immolation" and of course "The Evil Within". These are just a few of the kick in your fuckin face cuts on this release. The only complaint I have is their cover of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme which closes this dink. I guess I'm not a fun guy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

KRISIUN - Southern Storm CD review

KRISIUN - Southern Storm CD
Century Media Records

The title seems a little deceptive since KRISIUN always sound more like a tsunami that crashes into a shoreline and wipes out a country. But since this long time Death Metal band is from Brazil I get the gist. Also I've been a fan of theirs since 1999's Conquerors Of Armageddon, therefore I'm never expecting them to deviate too far from their style much. That's what you have on this CD. Skull crushing riffs, blast beats that feel like tremors, Alex's vocals are consistently brutal and the solos will shatter windows if you play it loud enough. While reviewing this mine only rattled because it's early in the morning. People are still eating breakfast so I keep the stereo volume down.

With all that said KRISIUN still try to add an extra progressive touch to each new release without compromising their overall sound. Although you wouldn't know that from opener "Slaying Steel". It's that perfect opening cut for people who just drop a CD into their stereo, push play and then walk away. Only to run back after a few seconds because they forgot how high the volume control was on last night and it's fucking way too loud. Obviously I'm speaking for myself here but fuck it. I'll blast "Slaying Steel", "Minotaur", "Contradictions of Decay", hell I'll even play the SEPULTURA cover "Refuse/Resist" as loud as I want. Until that cuntrag who lives upstairs puts a fucking rug down on the floor to muffle her hoofed footsteps. I don't give a shit. I'll even dedicate "Whore of the Night" to her. Although I doubt she'll appreciate it. She believes 70's hair bands who did ballads were cool. So a good buttfuck while this new KRISIUN CD is blasting in the night wouldn't rock her world.

WITHERED - Folie Circulaire CD review

WITHERED - Folie Circulaire CD
Prosthetic RFecords

I just seen WITHERED the night before Halloween otherwise known in my childhood days as "Hell Night". They were touring with WATAIN and BOOK OF BLACK EARTH. On a personal note it was a fantastic show and hopefully you saw it wherever you live. But anyway I've never heard WITHERED's first release instead I only heard two cuts from this CD. So I was totally surprised by them live even with a short set. So now listening to Folie Circulaire isn't not going to bring that live show experience back to life. Especially while I'm listening to it on the computer. Although it's decent enough to enjoy while I write a review. It definitely won't annoy the neighbors. And isn't that what Extreme Music is all about?

After one listen to Folie Circulaire you realize that WITHERED are not a band to be pigeonholed by genre status. This Atlanta band uses everything including their pissed off neighbor's kitchen sink. I'm talking Black, Death, Grind and Doom but heavier on the Death and Grind especially when those blastbeats come flying at you. Normally I don't care for bands that are in constant buffet mode, otherwise known as experimentation. You need to be comfortable in your own musical skin. But where others suffer from this extreme musical pitfall, WITHERED sound as if they invented a whole new genre. Actually they didn't since it's always been called "kitchen sink metal". But seriously who cares whatafuck you call it as long as it's good. Actually when I saw them play I thought of GODFLESH, GRIEF and NAPALM DEATH all rolled into one. And that was before I heard this CD and found out that Barney Greenway from NAPALM DEATH does guest vocals on a couple of songs. Plus they close the disc out with a fucking NECROPHOBIC cover, "Into Armageddon".

GRAVE - Dominion VIII CD review

GRAVE - Dominion VIII CD
Regain Records

I already reviewed the latest release from UNLEASHED and it was great of course. Would you think any different? So here we have fellow Swedes, GRAVE, who were contemporaries of UNLEASHED and ENTOMBED back in Sweden's early Death Metal days. And after just one listen to this I just want to go out and hurt people. And that's what you'll be thinking too unless you're deaf. After the sustained reverb, which opens this release, the first cut "A World of Darkness" kicks in. After a few seconds you'll be thinking that you've just been transported back in time to the early 90s. GRAVE have gone back to the basics of their past Death Metal glory. This is basic and brutal. Songs blast out of the starting gate then dive bomb into Doom grooves only to revert back to annihilation time. "Deathstorm" rains a fiery hellstorm down upon you. "Bloodpath" lashes out at you from whatever speaker system you have. Don't listen to it on your computer and try to type. It'll fuck you up. The same can be said about "Annihilated God" and "Sinners Lust". This is war going on here. GRAVE are not just coming out to show Death Metal fans, "Hey Remember Us We're Back"! This Swedish trio is possessed and they're here to hurt you.

KORPIKLAANI - Korven Kuningas CD review

KORPIKLAANI - Korven Kuningas CD
Nuclear Blast Records

I became a fan of this Finnish Folk Metal band with their Tervaskanto release. It's because of liking that KORPIKLAANI CD so much that I dove head first into the whole Pagan/Folk Metal genre. And as much as I love alot of the bands that I've discovered. I'll always go back to the first band that turned me onto it. So here's their newest one Korven Kuningas, which translates into English as "King of the Woods". That would be the guy on the front cover most likely. Once again KORPIKLAANI continues the tradition of blasting out fun tunes about drinking and folklore. It's all good time music in the old Metal tradition. Yes that's right all of you young people out there. There once was a time long ago in the late 70s/early 80s when Metal was not all about Death, Doom and anti-social behavior. In those ancient days of yor people actually had a good time listening to Metal. It was our type of Headbanging Folk music and the traditional dress was long hair, jeans and leather, lots of leather plus spikes too. KORPIKLAANI brings back that fun aspect of Metal, without the spikes part of course. But they have been known to wear animal hides. Plus adding violin, flute and accordion also helps bring out a Pagan feeling from within.

Most of the songs are still sung in Finnish although there's a couple of songs sung in English. Personally when it comes to bands in the Pagan/Folk Metal genre, I'd rather hear the songs sung in their native language. I think it just adds to the listening experience and the authenticity. If you wanna sing along then learn the language. Long time fans, might notice that the band has gotten heavier in certain spots. But it's not like they're dropping the "hummpa" and playing full on melodic death metal. If you liked KORPIKLAANI before then you 'll like this too. And personally if you are unable to have fun listening to this. Well then you must be one grim miserable sonouvabitch. But I'll probably like ya anyways.

EMPIRE AURIGA - Auriga Dying CD review

Moribund Records

Weirdest release I've listened to this year or should I say so far. Hailing from Lansing, Michigan by way of the apocalypse, EMPIRE AURIGA (aka: Boethius on communications and 90000065B on transmissions) have done their damnedest to expand Black Metal into a realm which consists of droning ambient noise and industrial sound structures. In other words it's what some non-metal folks at Decibal Magazine would call "post modern metal", ah yeah right. By the way I hate JESU and the SWANS were always overrated. People who claim to like that stuff only do it to act superior. In real life they've got the complete collection of EUROPE on their Ipods.

Now where were we? Oh yeah, this release opens with a fucking air raid siren. And I'd like to warn you, don't have the volume up really loud when you push play. Secondly don't be doing anything that extremely loud and blaring noises might shock your concentration causing you to have an accident. For example do not sip coffee when the CD starts. You have been warned. Yes an air raid siren opens up with the song "Time Expanding" which reminds me of a funeral dirge. It's followed by "Sorrowsong" which is a nine minute and change monotonous industrial beast. I was getting drowsy after three minutes. I'm surprised this duo didn't slit their wrists after recording it. But then the next cut "Dreaming of Breath and Stars", with it's dark ambient tones, brought me to a realization. EMPIRE AURIGA want the listeners to kill themselves. Thankfully I'm not weak enough to end it all over a recording.

The rest of this moves on into shoe gazer type territory but still keeping the mechanized atmosphere alive and well. Yeahs ago I was staying with some friends till my new place was ready to move into. The couple would play this video game every night for hours while I tried to read in the kitchen. I forget the name of the game but it had something to do with killing demons and murderers in some type of alternative universe. But it had this monotonous background noise soundtrack. I once described to them as the sound of a living machine on it's death bed. That's what Auriga Dying reminds me of, a soundtrack to video game horror.