Sunday, May 6, 2018

Concert Review: Cinco De Metal




  Cinco De Mayo was transformed into Cinco De Metal Saturday night at the House of Rock in Santa Rosa, CA. Four local bands unleashed their extreme music making talents for an audience that was hellbent on hearing some raw and heavy hitting metal music.

   This would mark my first time seeing a show at the House of Rock and for the local metal scene, I thought that this was a great opportunity to lobby for more shows at this venue. The four bands billed: Mournful Cries, Oneiric Eclipse, Ancestors Wrath and Electric Funeral, really turned out to be a solid line-up. Right away though, I need to point out how the venue is extremely professional and the layout is quite impressive. There were video monitors that would show different shots of the bands while they performed and the lighting setup was unbelievably well done. The service that this venue provided made all these bands feel like real rockstars. I bet there were bowls with only brown M&M’s in the back for the artists!

  Taking the stage first was the power trio of doom, Mournful Cries, a band that knows how to hammer out some Iommi like riffs and conjure up wicked sounding jams of authentic doom. I thought band played a crushing set and music sounded extremely tight. Drummer Alex Hernandez was keeping the rhythm section moving strong and threw in some brilliant drum fills at times. Also, bassist Matt Lasserre played an important part in maintaining a heavy rhythmic backbone by thunderously striking his bass like a God of Thunder. Guitarist and singer Luis Olguin put on a strong show too and his guitar tone sounded like something you would hear back in the Vol. 4 days of Sabbath. Songs like “Sinners Pyre” and “Phantasmic Poising,” are such heavy riffing pieces of doom that I can’t wait to hear what they will sound like on a full-length release. From what started out as just a two man project has now turned into a determined trio of musicians playing on stages with video monitors. I tell you, hard work pays off!

Mournful Cries 


  After Mournful Cries finished, Oneiric Eclipse began setting up the stage for their ritual of raw and merciless grim sounding black metal. They brought out some candles and skulls to create a dark atmosphere that would compliment their style of harsh black metal. Standing on the side closest to the bass player, I was able to hear where this band offers a bit more than just raw straightforward black metal. His style of bass playing is not so one dimensional and he has a great prowess for adding fills when needed to inject some technicality into the music. The guitarist and singer did a solid job establishing that bleak and abysmal sounding atmosphere, while the drummer seemed to be playing with precision and not missing a beat. For their first show I think the band sounded really good and unlike some black metal bands, they were able to play a show without Antifa protesting them.

Oneiric Eclipse


  Third up was Ancestors Wrath, a band I would be seeing live for the first time. They were definitely channelling that 80’s thrash metal vibe with a vicious two guitar attack and their music kept the crowd banging their heads throughout the entire set. I thought the singer had outstanding stage presence and did a great job interacting with the audience. He would stick the mic into the crowd and people would actually sing along without forgetting the words. Overall their sound was tight and the songs sounded well written. If you enjoy kickass thrash metal that hits you right in the gut, I definitely recommend checking these guys out.

Ancestors Wrath 


  The final act of the night was, Electric Funeral, a Black Sabbath cover band from the local area. The singer in Electric Funeral, Lance Oskitzo, I have seen before with his other band Skitzo, so I was interested in hearing him tackle all these Sabbath songs. I think for the most part the band executed the cover songs rather well. Of course I have my favorite Sabbath songs, so hearing “Snowblind” and “Children of the Grave,” stood out the most to me. Observing some of the other folks in the crowd, I noticed people singing along word for word. The musicians looked confident playing the material and probably grew up listening to Sabbath to where playing these songs was like taking a trip down memory lane. Their set seemed be well received by the audience and Electric Funeral did a smashing job closing out the night, especially Lance using an air raid siren for their rendition of, “War Pigs.”

Electric Funeral 


  Once again, Sonoma County proves to be a place full of passionate metal bands and fans all celebrating extreme heavy music together. Also, House of Rock is an exceptionally well run venue to host a show. I do wish more local acts get the chance to play this venue, as I feel the people will show up and enjoy their experience. All you need is four crushing acts like the ones who played and you will have one massive heavy metal celebration!


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Petrification “Hollow of the Void”




    When creating terrifying brutal old school sounding death metal you want a band that is going to put in that extra effort to really grab your attention with some corpse ripping riffs and demonic growls that sound like they are coming from some blasphemous world from beyond. Well, the Portland, OR based band, Petrification, is a band that I believe knows how to raise the extreme music making bar and their new music definitely travels into some utterly extreme sounding realms.

    Petrification’s debut album, “Hollow of the Void,” is an offering of pulverizing old school sounding death metal that echoes through the catacombs with pure unapologetic force. When Sentient Ruin sent me a promo copy of their first EP, “Summon Horrendous Destruction,” I could not believe how raw and bombastic the band sounded on each of those four songs. I felt like it was a mix of Benediction, Bolt Thrower and Swedish bands like Entombed and Dismember. The riffs provide a decimating sound while the vocals are presented in a truly gruesome and bellicose manner. Each track is simply a cataclysmic impact of old school death metal that from start to finish is very solid and very engaging.

    The songs on this new album are produced in a style that I feel really represents what this band is all about, and that is to unleash an undeniable onslaught of monstrous old school death metal. Also, the musicianship is at a certain level to where I think the band as a whole is able to construct these powerful and complete pieces of extreme music. Unlike some bands who play death metal and sort of live off their names being brutal, Petrification’s sound is without question some of the heaviest and most bone crushing music you will find around.



    I like how the album starts out with what sounds like an army of hungry spiders devouring a corpse in some dark remote cave and then decides to burst into one of the most ferocious sounding jams imaginable. The song “Arachne Exsanguine,” is massive assault of brutal riffs that provide a devastating impact of chord crushing aggression. Petrification’s vocalist is an extremely solid singer and I think he has an amazing delivery. The next song, “Technological Assimilation,” is a well written track and contains some strong thought provoking lyrics. This vocalist really steps up his game with the song’s vocal parts and I also thought the lead guitar playing was perfectly executed and recorded. Probably one of the top songs off the album and the music video they did for the song is also really impressive.

    When I reviewed the EP, “Summon Horrendous Destruction,” I remember really taking a liking to the title track and I am glad that the band decided to add it to the new album. You are instantly drawn into a dynamic sinister sounding realm of old school death metal and become possessed by the gruesome sounding guitar tone. Another solid track is, “Hymn of Chaos,” where the band belts out more seismic instrumental compositions while the vocalist maintains his unforgiving brutal presence. Also, I want to point out, “Devouring Abysm,” which keeps a very death doom like tone throughout the song by slowly hacking away at a ghastly sounding main riff. The drummer also delivers a strong performance by leading music into that dark and hellish world off extreme musical insanity.

    Overall, I thought Petrification did a tremendous job with their debut album, “Hollow of the Void.” There is definitely room for the band to take the music into more extreme and creative directions, but this is a great starting point, especially how they sounded on this release. Easily one of the strongest sounding up and coming death metal bands I have heard as of recent. Hell, offer these guys a chance to write a horror film and I think they would be able to come up with a concept more horrifying than the garbage Hollywood is currently putting in theaters.



Check out Petrification's video for “Technological Assimilation” below:




Thursday, April 19, 2018

Interview with Eric Lee from Hellbender





Hellbender is a Sonoma County based metal act that knows how to throw down some crushing riffs of nuclear sounding devastation. I have seen them live a few times and when writing concert reviews I always enjoyed describing their straight forward brand of hard hitting heavy metal. Finally the opportunity came up to interview a member from the band and talk all things Hellbender and learn a little more about the band. So here is an interview with their bass player Eric Lee...

     Hi Eric, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. After seeing Hellbender a few times over the last couple years and writing articles about some of those shows, it is great to talk with someone from the band. To begin I wanted to talk about the history of Hellbender. When did you guys first form? What sort of led to the formation of the band?         

Eric: Hey thanks for coming to our shows lol!! That was an awesome little intro there. Well, the band started to form back in 2011. My friend Clee, who plays guitar, and I have been friends since the 1970's back in 1st and 2nd grade at Grant elementary school in Petaluma. Over the years, we have played in many bands together such as Wingnut, Crimeseen and Porterhouse. We've been playing in the local music scene with those bands back to the late 1990's. So having done so many projects together we wanted to something new but heavier than anything we've done before. So myself on bass, Clee on guitar would jam in a little shack playing thrash metal with our first drummer Todd from the Heat Creeps. We played our first shows after we got Dollar Bill from Seeds of Hate, Indulgence, Bomb Squad! After a few jams Bill was sold and wanted in. We had our frontman!! He had an awesome resume of bands that he was in and myself and Clee had seen Bill perform before so we knew exactly what he was bringing to the table. We came up with the name Hellbender and played our first show at Spankys with The King Must Die at Quincys in Rohnert Park on Nov 1, 2011. We started playing shows around the North Bay as well as the rest of the Bay Area. We recorded and released our first demo Steel, Blood and Bone in March 2014. At that point, we really started to branch out with playing gigs down in LA. We got our second drummer, Matt McKill, to take over the drum throne around November 2014.  He would remain our drummer for the next 3 years, which he played on the Falling Down CD. Once our 2nd CD dropped, things really started to take off for us. We opened for Prong, one of my favorite bands.  We played more shows around the North Bay and the greater Bay Area. We were playing metal and people were digging it, so let's keep this going. We land a management deal with Distilled Entertainment, then WE GOT THE SUMMER TOUR WITH DESTRUCTION & WARBRINGER, HOOOOLLLLLY SHIIIIIIIITT!!! We learned a lot on that first tour and had a lot of fun, you know!! Made some great new connections with all those folks and really got out and played outside of California for the first time. I was a grown teenager living his dream playing metal on tour with a band I grew up listening to when I first started playing bass in 1982. Anyways, it was really a mind blown experience, I remember HUGGING Dollar bill in LA the last night on tour overlooking the SOLD OUT crowd, it was just surreal and inspirational as a lifelong musician. We ended last year, opening the Death Angel Christmas Show at Slims to finish the year off. All things aside, the new year brought change. So, low and behold,  we have changed drummers AGAIN.  We now have Tim Bailey on the kit. He used to play in Nuclear Rabbit for years and as well recently, Trinity Fallen. We wish Matt all the best but it was time to change. We found Tim luckily thru another mutual friend and we jumped at the chance to nail this guy as our drummer. We are very excited about what Tim brings to the table. We have several new songs in the works with him already. We played our first show with him a few weeks ago, in March at the Phoenix for Act of Defience. What a great first show it was super fun! Those guys shredded!!!

  Hellbender has been quite busy over the last few years and the band has played some killer shows and tours with acts like Death Angel and Destruction. Is there any show that stands out or any tour where you could not believe you were playing alongside a certain band?         

Eric: I actually just mentioned that, haha! But I'll go into more juicy details... the last show of the tour in LA, we played at the awesome Regent Theater. It was sold out! Line of kids down the block when we got there. By the time the doors opened, the theater started to fill up quick. We were the second band and when we hit the stage, we were playing in front of about 400+!!!People were headbanging, some even knew and were singing our songs!! Hell yes!! Everyone was pumped and it gave us an extra boost. And like I said before, at the end of the night, Bill and myself were standing up in the balcony watching Destruction overlooking the huge crowd of moshers, just going wild and I was just soaking it all in and loving every single moment of that night. Best Night of the Tour!!!! So cool.



  Now I wanted to discuss your album, “Falling Down,” which from my understanding is your most recent release. How do you feel about that release and what has the feedback been like? I really like the production of the songs and was wondering where you guys recorded the album? Also, how long did it take to record?                 

  Eric: Yes, it is our most recent release and we actually just put out a video of that song, directed by our good friend Mr. Mike Sloat. You can find it on our website “www.Hellbender707.com." Anyway, we recorded the drums at Zone Music with Nick Botelho in November 2015. In January and Feb. 2016 we did my bass tracks and Clee's guitars at our friend from Profits of Doom, Julian Kidd's home studio. Then, April and May 2016, Bill and I finished the main vocal and backing vocals, also with a little help on a few songs from Ken Calmer of Outrage. Nick then mixed it in June/July and we released that in August 2016, jeez... seems so long ago. Two songs were previously on our first CD, Steel, Blood & Bone, but we decided it was worth redoing. And there is a surprise song on there, if you didn't already know, haha since it's been out for 2 years. Yeah, we did Live Wire. So there's actually 8 songs, even though we list 7!  Marketing genius!!! Also, we didn't want to pay Motley Crue, they get enough royalties,  haha! We have been extremely excited about the overall outcome of the record. We spent a lot of time on that record. The production was amazing working with Nick and Julian was super fun. We wanted to take our time and make a record that people enjoyed and I think we achieved that. I was really excited about the drum, guitar and bass tones we got. Also, the vocal production was pretty fuckin' brutal as well, We were all very pleased with the overall production and sound that we got on this record. You put it on and it just slams you in the fuckin' face!! That's what we were going for, so yes we are extremely happy with the outcome of this record!



  Being involved in the Sonoma County Metal Community, what have you noticed over the last fews years? Are more young bands coming through and do you feel like the scene is beginning to really grow?

  Eric: Yeah, we definitely feel that the scene has been growing over the last few years. It's not like it was in the 1990's when you could pack the Phoenix on a weekend. BUT, it seems like people are coming out more and more to shows now. There's a lot of great local bands out there! Skitzo hello, been ruling the scene since the 1980's. Other bands like ourselves, The King Must Die, Trial by Combat and Profits of Doom (also, Oden's Sun) and Aberration have all been making noise around Sonoma County. Ernest who runs the Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore has been the one who gets the National acts to come play in our local venues and that's really been a game changer. Now, bands like Soulfly, Dying Fetus, Prong and  Black Dahlia Murder want to come play in our backyard. This also brings opportunity not only for ourselves but also for younger bands like Trecelence, Incredulous and some others to get out there and play in front of a crowd of friends. So, yes, the scene is growing and it's awesome. Keep going to local shows folks, it's better then sitting on the couch all night. haha! Get out and get your Metal!!

    So I wanted to maybe get a little more background info on how you became a metal maniac and was wondering what were some of the bands who influenced you growing up? Being a bass player who were some of your favorite bass players?     

  Eric: I was 13 and went to see my first metal show, which was Iron Maiden & Scorpions at the Oakland Arena. Holy crap, that opened my eyes, I was front row about 10 feet from Steve Harris playing his bass like a freakin' maniac, wow these guys are badass. So I went and bought my first bass in 1982. Then, my first thrash show was SLAYER and Death Angel at the Stone in 1983'sh. Death Angel came out and killed everyone, but Slayer was just awe-inspiring. At the time, growing up a teenager in this area, we started listening to the first demos from Death Angel, Exodus, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. It was a great time for metal, also European bands like Kreator, Destruction, Venom and Mercyful Fate were also huge in my listening collection in the early '80s. Some of my favorite players are too many to mention but the big ones for me would be, for sure Steve Harris, Gene Simmons, Tom Araya, Rex Brown, Les Claypool and of course the man, Geezer F'n Butler.


Eric Lee with Chris Broderick 


    I always like asking this question because some of the shows people come up with sound unbelievably awesome. If you could book a show with three bands along with your own, who would you like to see Hellbender share the stage with for one night?

  Eric: Damn bro, ok, great question there. Thousands of bands come to mind of course, but, if there's any chance to make it happen, this would be amazing. Because they are 2 newer bands compared to old school thrash bands. And they are 2 bands that are the next ones to take over the throne after Slayer leaves. Come to think of it they were the 2 bands that I saw open the Slayer on the Christ Illusion Tour.  That would be LAMB OF GOD & MASTODON. When we started this band, those were 2 bands that were very influential in our development of our sound. Not that we wanted to copy them, but we wanted something new and something we hadn't done before. And both bands we love!! That one show would have to be at Budokan, Japan to a sold out crowd, oh man that would be so fucking' epic!!! Maybe someday Hellbender will tour Japan, sky is the limit my friend, haha!!!

    What can we expect next from Hellbender and what are some goals you have for the band in these coming months? 

  Eric: Summer is here and the time is right, to play some killer shows baby!! We have the Cinco De Mayo Slayer-bration @Spanky's, paying tribute to one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Dollar Bill, Timmy and myself will be playing a few Slayer tunes that night along with some other local musicians. We also have some shows coming up with East Bay thrashers Hand of Fire and Cultural Warfare. Maybe play some Sacramento and San Francisco shows. There's also talk of doing some more LA/San Diego shows, anything is possible with us. Hellbender is always looking for new opportunities and markets to crack into, within reason of course. We are not looking to go on the road for 6 weeks or anything like that. That would be nice but it's not realistic for us. Since we have to work to make money, touring is not cheap or easy. It's hard to do, and costs a lot of money, A LOT!!! So, we just spreading our wings as much as we can, do interviews like this and just trying to get our name out to the Metal Community!! We know you are out there!! haha!! So, we are also write new tunes for what will become our 3rd record, which will hopefully come out by the end of the year?... But I'm not making any promises because there is still a lot of work to be had! Henceforth, we shall bestow upon thee most brutal and in your face metal that we can deliver!... Sorry, I sometimes bust out in Old English banter!! Anyways, we are really excited to be working with Timmy our new drummer who has a ton of experience. We set the bar high for ourselves with Falling Down and our plan is to crush that last record! Things are coming together for us, so we are excited about starting that process of recording when we are armed and ready for it!!

  Well Eric, once again thanks for taking the time to do this interview and look forward to seeing you guys live again down the road!

Eric: Yes, thanks again for this opportunity. Hellbender is excited for the new year and really wanting to get a new record out again because music makes the world go 'round! We will continue to play around Sonoma County as well as the greater Bay Area, so watch our facebook.com/Hellbender707 page for show announcements, live updates, videos, etc but also check out our website www.hellbender707.com... & Remember to kick back with some friends, crack a beers, spark up a fattie and crank some mother F'ing HELLBENDER!!!!!!! Rock On!!!!



Hellbender Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/hellbender707/

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Concert Review: Act of Defiance, Trecelence, Hellbender, Trial by Combat and Secura





    The last time I attended a show at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, CA was about a year ago. For some people that may not be a long period of time, however, as someone who used to review concerts at the venue quite frequently, it seemed like an eternity. Lucky for me my return was greeted with an epic metal show featuring five brilliant head crushing bands.

  Act of Defiance, Trecelence, Hellbender, Trial by Combat and Secure was a line-up that brought out the die hard headbangers and once again proved why Sonoma County is a strong metal and hardcore scene that continues to gain more recognition. When I attended school at Sonoma State I was fortunate enough to get to know a decent amount of the local acts. Trecelence for example is one band that I interviewed during my radio show and became good friends with over the years. This show I felt meant a lot to the local musicians as it was an opportunity to share the stage with a well respected national touring act like Act of Defiance, and to showcase their extreme music making talents.

  Upon arriving at the historic music venue I noticed the metal fanatics were already waiting outside with great anticipation. After going around and seeing some old friends, I found myself gazing at that all familiar main stage where the first band was starting to get ready. Taking the stage first was, Secura, a new local act I would be seeing for the first time. I could tell playing this show meant a lot to them and for a young band they handled themselves fairly well. Their brand of thrash is rather unique and I would like to hear them push that progressive quality a bit more. The two guitar players seemed to work well together, so utilizing the dual guitar attack will hopefully yield more wicked sounding tracks in the future.


Secura

  The next band was honestly the band I was most eager to see, especially since the last time I saw Trecelence live was at their album release show. I have watched Trecelence over the years evolve and become one of Sonoma County’s most accomplished up and coming metal acts. Their hard work and dedication has produced phenomenal songs and given them the chance to open up for some iconic metal bands like Possessed and Death Angel. This show with Act of Defiance was yet another piece in the continuing legacy of the band and would mark the first show without bassist and vocalist Zane Covington. Guitarist Chris Olney Burnett would be taking over on bass and vocals leaving just Donnie Small to handle the guitar duties. I was interested in seeing how Trecelence would sound without their twin guitar act that made them such a force too be reckoned with musically.


Trecelence (Also in photo Elias Small of Scythe)

  As a trio I thought the band did an outstanding job and each member played with an amazing amount of enthusiasm and raw energy. Drummer Ilan Cabrera unleashed a merciless assault from behind his drum kit while Chris and Donnie shredded together in exquisite style. Chris especially stepped up to the plate by slapping his fretless bass with authority and singing with a certain profound confidence. During the first song Chris shouted into the microphone, “We are Trecelence and we’re not fucking going anywhere,” giving people a reassuring statement that the band had no plans stopping anytime soon. I personally felt like this was one of their best performances, mainly due to the three members playing with such ferocity and passion. Looking to the future I am really excited to see what they can create after watching them put on a stellar performance.

  The night’s third act, Trial By Combat, is a veteran band from Sonoma County that have seen live a few times live. They delivered a deafening blow to the audience of bombastic thrash metal music. Singer Dashiel McKenzie is a solid frontman and his brutal vocal style offers up some monstrous vocal parts to compliment the vicious instrumental compositions. Overall I have always enjoyed Trial by Combat’s sound and think that their presence in the scene is very important. Here is an act that has a strong sound and gets the job done when performing live. I hope to see them maybe channel that same aggressive live energy into a killer full-length album one day.


Trial by Combat 

  Taking the stage next was, Hellbender, yet another veteran metal act from the scene that I have had the opportunity of seeing live before. Their style is very straight forward hard hitting heavy metal where the riffs are simple yet provide a punch right to the gut. The singer seemed to be thrilled opening for Act of Defiance along with the other members who were all in good spirits throughout their performance. I also really liked during one of their songs when the bass player turned on a bass effect to make his bass tone vividly standout. Sometimes guitarists steal show with all their fancy effects pedals, so it was great to hear the bassist taking control.


Hellbender 

  When the show’s headliner, Act of Defiance, finally took the stage I was not surprised to hear such a loud response from the crowd for this out of town band. Even after four bands and plenty of headbanging, the audience was full engaged and ready for some more rancorous metal music. Act of Defiance guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover both used to play together in Megadeth, while bassist Matt Bachard is known for his work with Shadows Fall. Singer Henry Derek is an accomplished vocalist who used to sing in Scar the Martyr and I thought sounded really good live. All four of these musicians are extremely talented and I think make a solid sounding overall band. Chris Broderick is without question a extremely talented guitarist who plays with percussion and can construct some fluid lead parts. The band’s aggressive thrashing sound allowed for a fair amount of mosh pits to form along with some stage diving. I thought the band during their set played with a certain professional quality to where the audience was not losing interest and constantly banging their heads.


Act of Defiance 

  At the end of the night one could feel the positive vibes from the entire show and Act of Defiance even showed how they were a class act by sticking around and meeting with the fans. I was reminded why the Phoenix Theater is such an important venue and a sanctuary for metal music. Getting to see young up and coming talent mixed with veteran bands and a national touring act like Act of Defiance is a testament to the power of heavy metal. The scene continues to thrive thanks to these bands keeping the metal spirit alive. And remember metal never dies... because it is not FUCKING GOING ANYWHERE!


Video of Trecelence performing live at the show:



Monday, March 19, 2018

Skeletal Remains "Devouring Mortality"




    A rising force in the death metal community, Skeletal Remains is a band focused on bringing destructive and apocalyptic sounding music to the ravenous extreme metal fans around the world. Their new album, “Devouring Mortality,” is yet another example as to why these guys really do know how to create some vicious old school death metal.

    The Southern California based band first came to my attention with the release of their 2015 album, “Condemned to Misery,” which is their second full-length album. After listening to that album I then decided to check out their 2012 debut album, “Beyond the Flesh.” I respect the band’s passion for old school death metal and you can hear on, “Condemned to Misery,” a band that works unbelievably hard to come up with very solid extreme sounding tunes.

    For the their third full-length album, “Devouring Mortality,” the band continues to fire on all cylinders with eleven brutal cuts of corpse splitting death metal. The opening track, “Ripperology,” is a true behemoth of old school death metal and contains some sinister sounding riffs. I thought the lead guitar playing was also exceptionally executed throughout the song. There are leads that reminded me of classic material from bands such as Death and Pestilence. Another area that stood out was the drumming and I thought the mixing of the drums was very well done on this entire album.



    Track number two, “Seismic Abyss,” is a crushing piece of music sending seismic shocks throughout the body making you want to feverishly bang your head to the malevolent sounds. The song’s ferocious tone and the band's tight overall sound is what I believe allows Skeletal Remains to really standout when pertaining to their style of old school death metal. Songs like “Catastrophic Retribution” and, “Torture Labyrinth,” are extremely well recorded and demonstrate a group of musicians who know how to hammer out some monstrous sounding compositions.

    Other songs I want to mention are, “Parasitic Horrors,” “Mortal Decimation,” and “Reanimating Pathogen.” Once again the riffs convey such a bellicose and aggressive sound that captures your attention right away. I felt like the guitar playing, the drumming, the bass playing and the vocal delivery, work together in such perfect synchronicity. The entire album flows with an extreme synergy and the songwriting is without question some of the best new death metal you will find around.

    In the end, Skeletal Remains did not disappoint and in my opinion created their strongest release to date. In the extreme metal world some bands just don’t seem to get the sound right and the songs seem to fall flat, however, that is not the case with Skeletal Remains. Plus it helps when you have the legendary Dan Swanö doing the mixing and mastering. He did a great job capturing Skeletal Remains utterly vicious and brutal sound, so I hope the band continues to work with him and future releases. If you want solid old school death metal I highly recommend this album, because this is the type of death metal you want in your life. Unlike those death metal bands that are really metalcore, but the band members are all huffing paint thinner so they think they're a death metal band. Don’t huff paint thinner kids! Listen to Skeletal Remains instead!




Check out Skeletal Remains "Seismic Abyss" :



Skeletal Remains FB:
https://www.facebook.com/SkeletalRemainsDeathMetal/

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Old Tower "Stellary Wisdom"





   Conjured in some remote location by a musician shrouded in mystery, Old Tower's, “Stellary Wisdom,” is a soundtrack into a shadowy realm where ancient castle ruins stand tall amongst hidden landscapes lost in time and space.

    The mastermind behind Old Tower known as, “The Specter,” is an artist who has become well regarded in the old-school dungeon synth community. I still remember when I first heard Old Tower’s, “Ruination, the New Dawn Cometh.” The track was an emotional sounding odyssey of captivating dungeon synth with a magnificent overall atmosphere.

    “Stellary Wisdom,” once again demonstrates Old Tower’s distinct and mysterious dungeon synth talents. I feel like what the iconic dungeon synth artist Mortiis established with the landmark album, “Født Till a Herske,” Old Tower continues by crafting even more mesmerizing sounding compositions. Also, the music on, “Stellary Wisdom,” is extremely well recorded and the album’s overall production is flawless in my opinion.

    The album features two brilliant compositions that both happen to last around fifteen minutes. “Deep Within My Somber Castle Halls,” is the album’s opening track which begins with a powerful presence of synth and establishes a very melancholy atmosphere. You feel as though you are traveling through an isolated mountain fortress far away from the modern world. I find the music to be very therapeutic and helps clear my mind. If you enjoy classic dungeon synth music with a strong ambience you will truly enjoy this track.

    The second track which is the title track off the album, slowly builds up with a more ambient celestial sounding style. For me the recording conjured up mental pictures of an endless black sky leading toward an abyss beyond Earth and into another dimension. The Specter seems to be a master of recording and his ability to convey such vivid emotional sounds throughout the composition is rather impressive. I also liked the dynamics of this piece and felt like there were some moments of unpredictability that kept me paying full attention to every sound coming through my speakers.

    I believe, “Stellary Wisdom, “ is not just the strongest dungeon synth album to come out in the past few years, but the album is also one of the strongest and most well produced albums to come out this year so far. For fans of early Mortiis and dark ambient dungeon synth, I think Old Tower is a power rising from the darkness that you need to check out. I highly recommend going back and checking out the band’s previous releases as well as this new one. Sometimes when you need a break from the chaotic modern world, the sounds of dungeon synth can be a great escape and Old Tower provides a great sanctuary for those looking to escape.


Preview the entire album below. Also subscribe to The Dungeon Synth Archives on Youtube. The person who runs that channel has some great bands to check out:




Link to Old Tower's bandcamp. Physical copies of the album are available. (Already have mine!) :

https://oldtower.bandcamp.com/album/stellary-wisdom

Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Mournful Cries “Thy Horror Come”




   Prepare to the light those ritual candles, pull out the occult books and turn the stereo up to full volume, as Mournful Cries shall be the soundtrack to your ceremony of unholy doom. The bands new EP, “Thy Horror Come,” reaches across the reverb filled valleys and takes you on a journey through mountainous riff landscapes where giants dwell wearing Sleep and Saint Vitus t-shirts.

     Having known the guys in Mournful Cries for a decent amount of time now, I am starting to hear their sound truly take on a unique and distinct form. What started out as friends jamming on some Sabbath like sounding riffs has evolved into a vehicle of unapologetic doom. The trio from Santa Rosa, CA keeps hammering out killer riffs while crafting some strong pieces of music. I thought the songwriting and presentation of the songs on the new EP really stood out. Also, the band’s overall energy was perfectly captured on both tracks.

    In my opinion, Mournful Cries excels the most when pertaining to their riff crafting abilities. When guitarist Luis Olguin lays down a wicked sounding riff, both drummer Alex Hernandez and bassist Matt Lasserre follow along with a powerful rhythmic backbone. Luis is able to strike these simple yet heavy chord progressions out and ultimately construct a mushroom cloud of distorted sounding terror that seeps through your speakers.

    The two songs, “Hallowed Tomb” and “Witches Herbs,” are well written tracks and bring to the table a massive helping of bone chilling doom. Compared to your stereotypical doom metal bands, Mournful Cries is focused on trying to create a solid musical foundation and sound that can be explored further. The thirteen plus minute song, “Witches Herbs,” demonstrates a band that can take a simple riff and expand on the idea for a long period of time yet not lose the listener’s interest. I thought that the other track, “Hallowed Tomb,” contained a very horror like atmosphere which reminded me of material from Electric Wizard and Cathedral. Plus the beginning riff has that Iommi like flare and then explodes into a massive jam of relentless sounding attitude from each musician.

    I look forward to what the band has coming up for doom fanatics in the future and I believe they are making strides in the right direction. They just need to continue hammering out those riffs and seeing where they can take their ideas. Also, I recommend taking their time and making sure the overall recording captures what they are truly wanting to express. Don’t feel like you need to release something just to release something. There are too many bands like that around right now and the quality of music has suffered at the hands of people making mediocre recordings. I believe in the end that Mournful Cries has the passion and inner spirit to unleash a killer doom album. “Thy Horror Come,” is the perfect starting point to set course and aim for that ultimate killer album of monumental doom. Definitely check it out!



Check out the EP below:




Mournful Cries FB Page:
https://www.facebook.com/MournfulCries/