Saturday, January 13, 2018

Summoning "With Doom We Come"

   In the world of atmospheric black, Summoning is without debate one of the most respected and important acts around. Using music to create vivid sounding landscapes that bring Middle Earth and the world of Tolkien to life, Summoning has released album after album of captivating music. “

   The band’s new album, “With Doom We Come,” is another part of Summoning’s epic journey into the world of atmospheric black metal and is an album that continues their legacy in the black metal sub-genre. The band’s first album, “Lugburz,” released in 1995 is a black metal gem and one of my favorites, however, the album is very raw and not as atmospheric as following releases. It is really not until their second album, “Minas Morgul,” that Summoning fully dives into the atmospheric black metal world and truly became an inspiration for so many bands.

   On their 8th studio album, “With Doom We Come,” Summoning continues along the path of epic cinematic sounding fantasy themed atmospheric black metal and creates a unique release that does standout from the other albums in the band’s discography. Compared to some previous albums, I feel like this new release is much more cinematic and the production goes for a very grandiose sound at times. Another area I want to focus on is the vocals and how Protector and Silenius trade of lead vocals throughout the album. I believe the vocals were something I took notice of the most when listening to this album. Although I think both singers do a solid job handling the vocal parts, I tend to prefer the songs with Silenius more than the ones with Protector.

   Out of the eight songs, you will not find any weak tracks, however, there are definitely songs I would recommend over others. The opening song, “Tar-Calion,” is a strong piece of music with thunderous war like drums to start off the album in triumphant fashion. Also, I really like how the guitar builds up this dark sounding mood that compliments the vivid cinematic like atmosphere. The next track, “Silvertine,” is a more bombastic sounding piece and the style of songwriting definitely reminds me of previous Summoning songs that have that majestic atmospheric quality.

   Tracks 3 and 4, “Carcharoth,” and “Herumor,” are two solid tracks and contain these vibrant sounds which create powerful and impressive landscapes for the vocals to narrate over. “Barrow-downs,” the fifth song on the album, is an instrumental song that creates a suspenseful mood which I could see being used to accompany a scene in a movie based on Tolkien’s writings. “Night Fell Behind,” offers a burst of guitar distortion in the beginning of the song and maintains a very consistent sounding tone. My favorite song on the album, “Mirklands,” is a dynamic song with a strong atmosphere and haunting vocals provided by Silenius. I also like how the instruments were layered and it is just a really well produced song.

   To be honest I was not completely sold with the album’s final song, “With Doom I Come,” which was actually the first single off the album. Before the album was released I heard this song and had some reservations mainly due to the vocals and instrumental structure. Now after listening to the entire album and looking at the song as the album’s outro, I understand where the band is coming from and why it is the outro. I think the choir vocals on the song are probably my favorite part and remind me of classic Summoning songs like, “Farewell” and “Land of the Dead.”

   In the end, “With Doom We Come,” is a release that I think fans of atmospheric black metal will appreciate and let their minds escape into a world of endless epic sounding compositions. Sometimes you have to not set expectations too high, which I think I did at first when I heard the first single. After listening to the entire album one cannot deny the high caliber of musicianship and songwriting skills that Summoning has to offer. Just like the one ring to rule them all, Summoning is the one atmospheric black metal band to rule them all.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ethos "Two Song Demo"

  Hailing from the dark shadowy lands of Livermore, CA, the black metal band Ethos offers listeners two new songs of blasphemous grim sounding musical retribution. Building off their debut EP, “Empty Path,” that was released a couple years back, the band continues to write songs of blackened death like terror and keeps finding new ways to express their extreme music making talents.

    It was around two years ago that I interviewed the band's guitarist/vocalist for this blog and talked in-depth about the EP. I remembering hearing great potential on that debut EP and felt like the band had something to offer the extreme metal world. Compared to most black metal bands, Ethos wasn’t trying to go for the simple trim picking riffs and gimmicky simplistic satanic lyrical content that has been overused to death.

    The two new demo songs, “Unfathomable Essence” and “Decried by the Presence Beyond,” convey a more unapologetic and heavier tone. There are these thick layers of guitar that provide a more bombastic delivery. I find the recording of the vocals to be extremely well matched with the instrumental compositions which the band also did on “Empty Path.” Another strong area is the drumming and I notice a slight improvement in the playing and recording of the drum parts.

    “Decried by the Presence Beyond,” is probably my favorite of the two, mainly due to the heavier and slower riff sections that present more of a death doom sound, yet still conveys that raw black metal tone. You feel as though you are being sucked into a void of endless darkness falling through time and space with the sounds of guitar distortion and drums to lead you on through the cosmic infinity. Overall, it is a well crafted piece of music and one that I believe helps to separate Ethos from being labeled a generic black metal act.

    The other song on the demo, “Unfathomable Essence,” is a solid piece of music and definitely has the potential to become a strong song if featured on a full-length album. I just wish the drums would have been recorded slightly louder, because the drumming seems to get downed out by the guitars. The song’s overall atmosphere is what really captured my attention and the musical composition is also well thought out.

    After hearing these two songs I am definitely looking forward to Ethos releasing more new material, especially with what I think can be explored further if the band builds off the musical style that they established on these two tracks. If you enjoy raw black metal that opens your mind to the dark worlds beyond and shows no mercy, you need to check out what Ethos is currently doing.

Ethos “Decried by the Presence Beyond” :

Ethos Facebook Page:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Dekapited "Sin Misericordia"

    Merciless is quite possibly the best way to describe the sound conjured up by Chilean thrashers, Dekapited. These musicians show no mercy with their latest release, “Sin Misericordia,” (Without Mercy). The EP is a joyride through hellish sounding landscapes of pure thrash brutality.

    I think what stands out the most on this new EP is the aggressiveness and the unforgiving attitude that the band conveys with each track. Their style of thrash metal definitely has been done before, however, the band focuses on delivering their music with a tight and intense sound to vividly capture the listener’s attention. The EP opens with some suspenseful film score music, so right away the band attempts to get people anticipating what is to come next.

    After the intro fades out the song “Aniquilacion Total,” feverishly explodes into full force with a wicked main riff. I hear elements of not just thrash at times which I think gives the music a dynamic unholy sounding twist. The drum parts are well recorded and inject a raw sound to compliment the savage guitar riffs. The third song of the album, “Mundo Decadente,” unleashes more intense rhythms of thrashing hell to where you know mosh pits would be forming and people would be banging their heads ferociously in front of the stage. I also think the vocal style used by the band’s singer is very solid and matches the music’s overall tone.

    Track number four, “Sin Misericordia,” contains more strong palm muted riffs of apocalyptic fury. Once again, I really like the drum sound, especially the way that the toms and cymbals were recorded. The overall composition is haunting and each musician provides a noticeable contribution which goes to show that everyone in the band is pulling their weight. Track number five, “Condenado a Morir,” offers more furious compositions along with some frantic lead guitar playing that slightly reminds me of classic Slayer solos and Morbid Angel solos. Until the very end, Dekapited does not slow down and keeps hammering out sheer musical brutally without hesitation.

    I must say that Dekapited did a solid job with this new EP from start to finish. I think going forward I would like the band to continue to push themselves as songwriters, but always maintain that unforgiving and merciless approach. Too many thrash bands either recycle the same riffs, or get lost in trying to become too progressive. If Dekapited could find a balance between brutality and high caliber musicianship, I bet these guys will have some killer releases in the future. Definitely check this EP out as I do believe you can’t beat the impressive quality of unholy sounding thrash that would most likely scare the pants off your local priest.

Check out the full EP below! And if you like it buy a copy to support the artist:

Dekapited Facebook Page:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Top Ten Albums of 2017

Where has the time gone? I feel like I just finished doing my top ten albums of 2016 list and now I am starting on my top ten albums of 2017 list. Once again, it has been an extremely busy year for rock and metal music with numerous releases coming out this year. 2017 was also a year full of major stories with some positive and some negative, but no matter what happened the new albums that were released this year provided a great chance to escape the bullshit. Whether it was ANTIFA shutting down a black metal show with false claims, or Gene Simmons of Kiss opening up his big mouth and offering an ignorant comment, 2017's hard rock and metal music did not disappoint. So enough babbling, here it is people, my top ten albums of 2017...

10. Domgård “Ödelagt”

    Swedish black metal act Domgård is well regarded in the black metal community and their sound stays very true to the traditional black metal style. After some years of not releasing new material it was great to see a new album from them. Their sound conveys a raw aggressive black metal attitude, but contains some bone chilling melodic black metal moments. The album also contains these dynamic arrangements with really unique tempo changes and massive atmospheric sounding touches. Overall, the album is a strong and engaging release that should definitely be added to ones collection.

9. Eldamar “A Dark Forgotten Past”

    Eldamar is a one-man atmospheric black metal act that captured my attention when I first heard their debut album, “Force of the Ancient Land.” I am glad to hear Eldamar continue all the elements and epic song structures from the first album on this new release. The music picks up where the last album left off and establishes itself as a unique journey through captivating atmospheric landscapes and heavenly choir like vocal sections. If you enjoy long epic pieces of atmospheric black metal you need to check out Eldamar. They also released an awesome split with Dreams of Nature this year, so Eldamar is extremely active when it comes to writing new material.

8. Game Over “Claiming Supremacy”

    I have reviewed quite a few releases from these Italian thrash metal maniacs over the years. Their new album once again demonstrates a group of enthusiastic thrash fans who seem to keep pushing themselves as musicians and songwriters. The choruses are catchy along with the solid arsenal of mosh forming riffs. Where their earlier albums felt more straightforward at times, the new album pushes into more progressive thrash boundaries. Game Over is definitely a thrash band to be reckoned with and one that I look forward to seeing grow even more with future releases.

7. Necrot “Blood Offerings”

    This Bay Area death metal trio did a tremendous job with the release of their debut full-length album. I reviewed a compilation album they released last year called, “Labyrinth,” and I was highly anticipating new music from them. The band has become a force to be reckoned with amongst the underground community by relentlessly touring their brand of gruesome old school death metal. Brutal cuts of bone sawing riffs and crushing drumming conjure up some killer headbanging opportunities throughout this release.

6. Rude “Remnants…”

    Rude has established themselves as a solid old school death metal worship outfit and the release of their sophomore album, “Remnants…” only verified what I already knew about these guys. There are some death metal bands who throw songs together claiming to sound old school, but Rude’s music actually sounds like something released from the late eighties/early nineties. The riffs grind away at your ears with an unholy terrorizing sound of old school death metal while being accompanied by monumental drumming to create vicious cuts of extreme music. I don’t think you can ask for anything more when it comes to good quality death metal.

5. Death of Kings “Kneel Before None”

    Death of Kings is a fierce and awesome bunch of metal musicians from Atlanta, GA. Their hard work paid off with the release of, “Kneel Before None.” The quality of wicked sounding riffs and head crushing pieces of brutal sounding thrash is definitely welcomed in a day when most bands sound like watered down versions of Slayer. Death of Kings did a great job injecting energy into the music and the album itself is well produced and well recorded. I hope to hear them continue to build off the success of how this album sounded on their future releases, because their talent is truly amazing.

4. Lustre “Still Innocence”

    Compared to previous Lustre recordings the new album, “Still Innocence,” is not as grandiose and has received criticism for not being as ambitious. I honestly felt the album offered a relaxing and very therapeutic sound that flowed with amazing synergy. The recordings capture your imagination, yet do not overwhelm you with too many unnecessary sounds. The album is one of those releases that I turn to when I want to escape and relax my mind. Lustre is one of those artists you can always rely on for solid release, so to those people bitching about the album…go chill out and maybe give it another listen.

3. Demonsmoke “Morphine Moonshine”

    I saw these doom metal musicians from Antioch, CA a couple years back play at a bar in Petaluma and literally destroy by laying down some unbelievably heavy sludge/doom riffs. When they released their debut album, “Morphine Moonshine,” I was blown away at how they were able to capture that raw destructive doom sound which I was fortunate to have witnessed live. These guys offer a strong selection of swampy distorted sounding tracks of pure doom with this album. There is not one weak song on the album and the overall production is quite amazing when comparing it to a lot of modern day metal releases. I really hope to catch them live again, because they put on one hell of a show.

2. Morbid Angel “Kingdoms Disdained”

    Released December 1 of this year, I honestly did not know if this album would even make the list. After the bands last release, “Illud Divinum Insanus,” was in my opinion a major disappoint, the band had a something to prove with the new album. Not only did the new album exceed expectations, but I think it is one of the heaviest and most unforgiving sounding releases to come out this year. Steve Tucker’s return was something I really looked forward to and Trey is back to being the death metal guitar master that we all know and appreciate. It is great to hear the band throwing down some pulverizing death metal which signals a new dawn of brutality. Just like when Tucker came in after “Domination” back in 1995, the band has the opportunity to unleash some more malicious sounding tunes moving forward. This new album is an extremely good starting point and was very close to being in my number one slot. 

1. Night Demon “Darkness Remains” : 

    When Night Demon released their debut album, “Curse of the Damned,” back in 2015, I had it as the number one album or my 2015 list. Two years later after relentless touring across the world and showing true dedication for the music that they enjoy playing, the band has returned to the number one spot for 2017. Their sophomore album, “Darkness Remains,” continues the exciting and solid NWOBHM style you heard on “Curse of the Damned,” with more epic sounding riffs and catchy lyrical content. You cannot find a dual moment on the album, which I contribute to the band’s strong songwriting skills. Songs like “On Your Own” and “Dawn Rider” completely tear through your speakers with a heavy metal fury of blistering guitar work and thunderous old school metal rhythms. All hail the Night Demon! 

Honorable Mentions:

Petrification “Summon Horrendous Destruction”

Iron Griffin "Self-Titled EP” 

Mournful Cries “Three Song Demo”

2017 Rob “the metal guy” Awards 

Up and Coming Artist of the Year: Mournful Cries

Metal Label of the Year: A tie between “Sentient Ruin” and “Nordvis”

Come Back Artist of the Year: Morbid Angel

Best Live Act/Performance of the Year: Barren Altar 

Best Split album of the Year: Eldamar / Dreams of Nature 

Biggest Douche of the Year: tie between “Gene Simmons” and “Otep”  

Most Pathetic Group of People in the World: ANTIFA 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Morbid Angel "Kingdoms Disdained"

    After Morbid Angel’s 2011 album, “Illud Divinum Insanus,” received some rather negative feedback from fans and critics, there was a lot of talk in the metal press about how the iconic death metal band needed a strong follow-up. Their new album, “Kingdoms Disdained,” is quite simply a 100% grade A “death metal album.” Any bad feelings about the previous album disappear as your ears are decimated by the tremendous ferocity that can be heard on the new album.

    To begin, the departure of bassist/singer David Vincent and the return of Steve Tucker marked a positive shift, even though one cannot deny David’s contributions on albums like “Altars of Madness,” “Blessed Are the Sick,” “Covenant,” and “Domination.” Still, I felt like David Vincent needed to go and Tucker needed to come back. Just like when David left after “Domination” and Tucker came in for “Formulas Fatal to the Flesh,” the band was able to push forward into more brutal and unforgiving boundaries.

    I think the band really focused on coming up with a consistent and brutal release that pounds ferociously into your skull. Trey Azagthoth lays down some vicious guitar riffs along with these mind bending frantic leads to inject moments of savage musical chaos. New drummer Scott Fuller did a solid job hammering out some crushing drum tracks and provides a behemoth blast beat rhythmic backbone. Steve Tucker is without question a dedicated death metal warrior who unleashes one hellish vocal performance while also handling his bass parts with an unapologetic approach.

    Kicking the album off in a bombastic style, the first song, “Piles of Little Arms,” explodes out of the speakers for an unholy assault of extreme sounding carnage. I felt that this song established a solid foundation to capture my attention and build up anticipation for the following tracks. The second song on the album, “D.E.A.D.” takes listeners on another wicked ride through heavily distorted riffs of bold aggression along with destructive vocals provided by Steve.

    Out of the eleven songs on this album you find it difficult to really choose a favorite, but there are certain tracks that do stand out a bit more than others. For example, “Paradigms Warped,” is a mind twisting piece of death metal that reminds me of something you would have heard on, “Gateways to Annihilation.” Trey’s guitar playing is exceptional and I am always amazed by how he creates these unconventional sinister sounds with his guitar.

    Another killer track to highlight is, “Declaring New Law (Secret Hell),” which slows down the tempo for a less frantic sound and more mid-tempo approach. The very percussive sounding composition works quite well with the lyrical delivery and there are certain lines that get stuck in your head. The repetitive verse, “Torture any fool that does not submit…” establishes such a bellicose tone and strikes fear in the hearts of those who dare question what Steve Tucker is saying.

    Overall, there are multiple areas that I would like to express my feelings about how the band did on this album, however, I feel like it is time to wrap up this review and give my final thoughts. First off, Erik Rutan did a solid job recording this album, so going forward I think Morbid Angel should stick with him to avoid return to that weak industrial metal sound you heard on, “Illud Divinum Insanus.” Secondly, I do not believe this is by any means the greatest Morbid Angel album to date, but it sure is one of the most impressive releases to come out this year. Final point to make is that the line-up featured on this album was stellar together and history shows that when Steve Tucker is in the band we are guaranteed Morbid Angel will crank out quality death metal releases.

    In the end, fans win because you get a crushing new album from Morbid Angel and David Vincent wins because he can now focus on his cowboy music. Saddle up the horses Evil D, because with Tucker in the band I think you will be ridding around the open range for a while.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Element "Dusk"

    Fans of progressive metal and impressive cinematic music videos might want to check out what The Element is doing right now. The American based band’s new single, “Dusk,” is burst of intense sounding metal with a technical flare that provides the most optimal soundtrack for the new music video.

    “Dusk,” which is the first single off their upcoming album, “From Sand-Part II,” is just the beginning of what these metal musicians have in store for fans. Their upcoming album will be produced and mixed by the well respected heavy metal producer, Jens Borgen, who has done work for bands like Arch Enemy, Symphony X, Paradise Lost and Devin Townshend. The music video for “Dusk” was shot by, Tommy Merry, who seems to know how to capture the essence of a song through film.

    All around The Element demonstrates great promise with “Dusk” and the track is a strong first single. The main guitar riff delivers an impactful punch while the keyboard provides a haunting atmospheric touch at times. There are a variety of creative compositions and dynamic arrangements throughout the entire song. Also, the vocals were well recorded to really compliment the instrumental compositions. I personally enjoyed the guitar and keyboard solo section which is very reminiscent to that of Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Dream Theater and Rhapsody.

    In the end, if you are a fan of progressive metal and are looking for a band that does not cheaply throw something together, you need to check out The Element and their new single. I was quite impressed with the recording quality which I hope the band maintains on their upcoming album. Usually with prog metal I find bands get carried away with showing off how complex and technical they can write music. The Element stands out because they provide a solid balance of technicality and songwriting skills. Check out the video for the song below and you can buy the track via iTunes, Google Play, Beats, Amazon and CD Baby. Support the artist if you like their music!

The Element "Dusk" :

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mournful Cries "Debut Demo"

    Rising from the smokey filled confines of Iommi’s Vault, the music created by Mournful Cries will spread across the lands leaving behind haunting sounds of Sabbath like doom. The trio from Santa Rosa demonstrates their love of classic doom metal and Sabbath worship by crafting their own brand of pure no nonsense riffs of doom.

    I’ve know the members in Mournful Cries for a couple years now and I am quite familiar with their other groups. Drummer Alex Hernandez and guitarist/vocalist Luis Olguin played in one of my favorite sludge bands called Amnesia. Luis also plays bass in an awesome death metal band called Sepulchre which I recommend checking out. Bassist Matt Lasserre plays bass in a killer band called Scrape the Earth who I have seen live a few times.

    I enjoy hearing what new ideas the members in Mournful Cries have to bring to the table and this band demonstrates great promise on their debut demo. The two songs featured on the demo are, “Budlust” and “Evil Confessor.” The songs take on a variety of influences ranging from Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Sleep, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and of course…Black Sabbath.

    Both tracks are solid offerings of doom with plenty of world consuming riffs from the black voids beyond. The intro to “Budlust” conveys a prog rock like flare and builds into a distorted jam of behemoth riffs and seismic drum parts. The song’s entire vibe pulls you in from start to finish as Luis hammers away at each chord while Matt and Alex maintain a strong rhythmic backbone. I personally like “Evil Confessor” just a tad more than “Budlust,” because the music contains a harder and more aggressive tone. Also, Matt lays down an impressive bass part during the intro that is very reminiscent of classic Sabbath songs.

    If you are a fan of doom metal you need to be on the lookout for more loud distorted Iommi like jams from Mournful Cries. I believe what makes this band standout compared to a lot of your other doom acts and even young up and coming metal bands, is that these guys are massive fans of the style of music they play. Through their enjoyment of doom metal they are able to write some extremely solid pieces of music. So crank it up and drop out of life with bong in hand and follow the smoke to Mournful Cries wicked sounding riff filled lands.

Check out the entire demo below: 

Mournful Cries FB Page:

Mournful Cries Bandcamp: