Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Caïna "Setter of Unseen Snares"

    Massive dark clouds of unknown chaos cover the sky and the music of English black metal/punk band Caïna can be heard slowly rising in the distance. A storm is coming, better prepare for the destruction.
    This new release is one of many in the band’s complete discography, and the band’s founding member and primary musical creator, Andrew Curtis-Bringer, has been making music under the name Caïna for about ten years. With, “Setter of the Unseen Snares,” Andrew brings in some help by having three guest vocalists perform on a couple tracks. Also, this album cleverly combines a variety of extreme styles of music. At first you might think this is going to be a straight forward black metal/punk album, but as the album progresses the music becomes more unpredictable. I think Andrew does a great job demonstrating how to add variety to extreme music, and it shows how creative he is as a musician.
    The album begins with an introduction sound clip that sets up the second track, “I am the Flail of the Lord.” Song number two is definitely one of the most aggressive sounding songs on this album. The guitars brutally tear away into black metal riff while the rhythm section gives off a strong hardcore punk vibe. For the song’s vocals, the singer uses a black metal style that is less traditional Norwegian black metal like, but more black metal fused with a hardcore punk edge. Throughout the whole the song I felt the production was quite solid and the recording did the song justice. Too many black metal/punk bands in my opinion try to sound raw and end up sounding like a pack of robots passing gas.
    The third song on this album is the title track and maintains that harsh black metal/punk sound. Although the vocals tend to present the lyrics in a black metal style, I am able to make out what the singer is saying and the vocal presentation really compliments the music. Track four, “Vowbound,” marks in my opinion the part of the album where the music begins to sound more diverse. Andrew really incorporates more punk elements into the music and the instruments create some dark heavy grooving rhythms. “Applicant/Supplicant,” is another song where the music takes on so many different forms. There is a solid d-beat rhythm that sounds similar to music created by Neurosis or Amebix. Still, there is a hint of black metal that adds a vicious side to the song.
    The final song on the album, “Orphan,” really caught me off guard. This track begins with a solemn introduction and turns into slow atmospheric composition. Then the song takes on a post-rock form with a black metal vocal delivery. The musical contrast is brilliantly executed and for a song that I was not really expecting, I would say it is the best song on the entire album.
    If you are a person who enjoys black metal, crust punk, d-beat punk, atmospheric post-rock, or all these styles combined, you should check out this album. Caïna’s, “Setter of Unseen Snares,” is an extreme and powerful sounding release that will challenge your musical expectations from beginning to end.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rock and Metal Temple Top Ten Albums of 2014

1. Exmortus-“Slave to the Sword”

Amazing lead guitar playing, creative instrumental compositions and plenty of heavy bone crushing songs. The band takes technicality to an unbelievable level, especially with their instrumental version of Beethoven’s, “Moonlight Sonata (Act 3).” The whole album is exciting and the music is extremely passionate. Saw them play live this year too and they sounded just as good live as they do on the album. I hope to see more great passionate metal releases from these guys in the future. So raise your battle axes and swords to Exmortus for they are my number one album of the year!

2. Protestant-“In Thy Name”

You can call them crust punk with a black metal edge, but I simply call them fierce unapologetic musicians who know how to make extreme music. When I was first sent this album to review, I did not expect to hear such an extreme furious sound. The drums and guitars never seem to slow down, and when the band does alter the tempo the music still maintains a heavy face kicking attitude. From the beginning track, “Vengeance,” to the last hard hitting piece, “Delusion,” the band takes listeners on an extreme emotional roller coaster.

3. Rude-“Soul Recall”

Old school death metal music played by an up and coming band from Oakland, CA. The album sounds like it could have been released around the the same time as Pestilence’s, “Testimony of the Ancients,” or Morbid Angel’s, “Alters of Madness.” Agonizing vocals mixed with brutal guitar compositions and thunderous double bass drums for the entire duration. If you wish you could have been alive during that old school death metal period, listen to “Soul Recall,” and it will be like taking a time machine...a brutal death metal time machine that is. 

4. Accept-“Blind Rage”

The iconic German metal band shows no signs of stopping and they just keep charging forward. All three albums with Mark Tornillo have been unbelievably solid, but this one in my opinion is the best yet. Wolf Hoffmann is a brilliant guitar player with such a dynamic style. Also, the songwriting was top notch from the start of the album to the end. Do a new album with original singer UDO? Hey, as long as Mark is singing in Accept I could care less if UDO returns.

5. Mastercastle-“Enfer”

Italy’s Mastercastle surprised me this year because, I had not heard of them before this year yet they have been around for a decent amount of time. Then again, I am very picky with my Power Metal. Overall, I really liked the blend of neo-classical metal with straight forward hard rock. The music was not overwhelming like most power metal music and the songs allowed the singer to use her voice to its full potential. Her emotional tone definitely caught my attention and it is one reason they are on this list.

6. Obituary-“Inked in Blood

The old school Florida death metal legends delivered. After about five years and a little help from a kickstarter fund, they got their stuff together and put out one brutal release. John Tardy’s vocals are still haunting as ever and whole band maintains that unforgiving death metal presentation. No signs of hanging it up and playing croquette at the old folks home for these guys.

7. Overkill-“White Devil Armory”

Whenever the New Jersey thrash icons put out an album I know they will not let me down. Compared to their fellow thrashers in the Big 4(Megadeth and Metallica mainly), these guys never strayed too far away from the thrash blueprint. Overkill is what I like to call your working mans thrash, and this album is a perfect example. Killer riffs, fierce vocals from Bobby and most important, mosh forming tunes that would knock down a house. Better strengthen the foundation when listening to this album.

8. Exodus-“Blood in Blood Out”

At first when news came out that Steve Souza would be singing on this album, there were some mixed feelings from the Exodus camp. However, I knew the guys would deliver a solid release and I think they damn well did with this album. The album is just nonstop brutal thrash metal that can be appreciated by all the old and new metal fans alike. Compared to Metallica, Exodus doesn't need to make movies to show how badass they are...they let the music do the talking.

9. Triptykon-“Melana Chasmata”

Personally I am not a huge Celtic Frost fan that worships ever note Tom G. Warrior comes up with, but I will say that the new music he creates with Triptykon is amazing. I really enjoyed the chilling musical atmospheres along with the dark melodic progressions. The songwriting contains such strong emotional expression and the whole release is very powerful. 

10. Innsmouth-“The Shadow Over Innsmouth”

Technical death metal dudes from Denmark who demonstrated great skill and composed awesome technical death metal. Also, they wrote a song about my favorite H.P. Lovecraft story, “The Colour Out of Space.” Overall, a solid release that I thought stood out from most bands in the genre.

Honorable Mentions that almost got in:
Ghoul “Hang Ten” (really not a full-length album, but I was going to maybe let it slide)
Gamma Ray “Empire of the Undead”
Eyehategod “Self-titled”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ghoulgotha "The Deathmass Cloak"

    Slow crushing riffs that echo through mountains of distortion is one way to describe San Diego’s Ghoulgotha. This death doom trio constructs some loud ominous sounding musical compositions for their debut full-length album, “The Deathmass Cloak.”
    Set for release on January 13, 2015 through Dark Descent Records, the album will offer fans of slower extreme music ten tracks of original death doom music. The band’s sound is very unique, and blends death metal style riffs and vocals with more doom metal like compositions. Some of the bands that Ghoulgotha reminds me of are Dismember, Amorphis, Paradise Lost and a bit of Obituary. All ten songs on this album are consistent and maintain a heavy edge. However, I must admit that the death doom formula becomes tiring towards the end. Riffs begin to drag on and the drums seem lost in the endless void of growls and distortion.
    Still, one cannot complain too much as the overall sound is brutal and there are some songs on this album that display creative death doom dynamics. After the intro track, “Solar Awakening,” the band cranks up the volume and unleashes a heavy slab of chord crushing riffs. The band’s drummer pounds away at his kit and provides a strong backbone. “Gazing into the Melted Night” and “A Neck for the Nameless Noose,” are unapologetic thunderous sounding pieces of music. The vocals narrate by growling along to the riffs and compliment the heavy musical atmosphere. Ghoulgotha also messes around with some unique guitar effects to create haunting intros like the one heard on, “Saturnal Rites.” Another interesting example of musical experimentation that I found when listening to this album was the quick switches between slow death doom and fast paced old school death metal. The band can be hammering out a slow jam, and without warning, turn up the intensity meter by throwing in some wicked sounding blast beats.
    Songs like, "Arteries Unblest" and “Citadels of Heathen Flesh,” are brutal both lyrically and musical, so you get the best of both worlds. The band delivers a massive devastating sound that leaves no one safe in its path of destruction. As the drums pound along to the rhythm, the guitar screams out in agony over the noisy chaos. The longest song on the album, “Levitate Within the Curse,” is Ghoulgotha’s most creative track. There are a variety of different compositions and timings to keep a listener’s attention hooked the whole way through. Long songs can be scary to some metal fans, especially crust punk/grindcore fans, but this song is not too repetitious and attention challenging. There is this one part that sounds like something out of the X-Files, which was interesting and added a slight science fiction theme to the track.
    Although this genre of music is not my absolute favorite, Ghoulgotha’s, “The Deathmass Cloak,” is what I would consider solid death doom music. Personally I usually just prefer death metal or doom metal, but blending the two sub-genres in an interesting and not completely repetitive way can also work for me. I think a majority of your die hard death doom fans will find this album to their liking. However, crust punk/grindcore fans might need Ritalin if they listen to this album...   

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cvinger-"The Enthronement ov Diabolical Souls"

    All hail the demonic musical presence that is Cvinger! Those who enjoy extreme sounding black metal shall be overcome with sinister joy once they listen to this album.
    Titled, “The Enthronement ov Diabolical Souls,” the album is an unholy tale dealing with the rising dark forces from the world below. This is black metal at its extreme and unforgiving core. The overall recording for this album perfectly captures the blasphemous noises along with giving the music a aggressive tone. Compared to most black metal albums where the production is purposely harsh sounding, this release relies on the band’s vicious presentation to give the music a dark unholy quality.
    Cvinger makes this release interesting from the opening track, “Chapter I: Charons Passage to the World Beyond,” to the last track, “Chapter III: Amen II.” I like how the band divided the album into three chapters, because the songs seem to flow as if they were told in the form of a story...a story about hell of course.
    Musically, the compositions maintain a level of ferocity, but can become slightly repetitive. The drumming on this album is really consistent and the blast beats provide a strong rhythmic backbone for the riffs to take form. Cvinger’s vocalist has a harsh and loud delivery that compliments the unholy lyrics. Still, the whole darkness and evil black metal gimmick comes through at times, but I would say that these guys play with such passion that they stand out from your usual Mayhem and Immortal copy cat bands. Songs like, “Summoning” and “Bogs of the Ancient Ones,” actually demonstrate great extreme musical dynamics and feature multiple complex layers. The riffs are monstrous sounding! Once the guitars start tearing away chaos just ensues and there is no stopping the unholy sounding attack.
     The middle section of this album, “Chapter II: Pass the Seventh Gate,” and the last half of the album, I felt really expressed this bands extreme artistic expression. My favorite song this album, “Vile of Flesh,” is an intense musical ride for 3 minutes and 29 seconds. The song sounded like a cross between Dark Funeral and Nercophobic, which means the song was ridiculously intense sounding.
    So there you have it people, Black Metal from Slovenia that will knock any priest off of their podium. Cvinger’s, “The Enthronement ov Diabolical Souls,” is definitely one of the most creative and consistent sounding black metal recordings I have heard this year. Of course the lyrical imagery is not anything new, though I did like how the band went about writing this diabolical tale. Also, I am glad they didn’t sound like they recorded the album in an outhouse with a broken tape recorder. This release is highly worth checking out if you like extreme music with a sinister edge, and of course, solid production so you can distinctively hear the guitars and drums.
Band's Facebook Page:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Review: Night Demon "Curse of the Damned"

    Like an unseen killer breaking out of the shadows on a dimly lit street, Night Demon strikes and unleashes their fierce brand of old school heavy metal music. The Ventura, CA based three piece delivers a sound of epic headbanging proportions on their debut full-length album, "Curse of the Damned."
    Ever since the band put out their self-titled four song EP, fans of the classic metal style have been raving about Night Demon. The band puts a refreshing spin on classic NWOBHM and other classic metal music, but finds a way to make their overall sound distinct and unique compared to the other bands who play this style of metal. Bassist and singer Jarvis Leatherby has a great vocal presentation and provides so much raw energy to Night Demon’s sound. Guitarist Brent Woodward lays down some wicked sounding riffs and his solos are always blazing with precision. Drummer Dusty Squires holds down the rhythm section with great force and consistent beats.
    This debut album is full of amazing heavy metal energy from top to bottom and will keep you rocking hard the entire time.  The opening song, “Screams in the Night” explodes with a crushing intro composition. Eventually the band transitions into a catchy verse riff that then makes way for a great chorus. The band’s songwriting formula is flawless and they throw in a variety of creative compositions. Song number two is the title track and starts out with a thunderous bass riff. Talk about cranking up the bass volume! The tone is so loud and abrasive that you can’t possibly ignore it, unless you are completely deaf. 
    Track number three, “Satan,” starts with a slow galloping riff and features some great songwriting dynamics. The drums during the slowed down chorus are very ominous sounding and work well with the bass line. Brent’s guitar shrieks into the musical landscape and tears off into a ripping old school style solo. “Full Speed Ahead” is another ripping track that leaves the head spinning as the musicians lay down the musical attack.
    Song number five, “The Howling Man,” is one of my favorite songs on this album. The arrangements are simply amazing and provide tremendous passion to the overall song. Jarvis adds great emphasis when he sings the lyrics, and the section where the band drastically slows down the song’s tempo sounds extremely haunting. Songs like “Heavy Metal Heat,” “Livin’ Dangerous,” “Mastermind” and “Run for Your Life”, continue the old school sounding metal assault and never become boring or repetitious. The second half of the album is just as strong as the first half and the band’s raw exciting energy never fades.
    The last couple songs on the album are, “Killer” and “Save Me Now.” The song “Killer,” sounds exactly like the title, KILLER! Great riffs the whole way through along with some catchy lyrics that may be on the morbid side for some, but sound as cool as hell to me. Now, the song on this album that took me by surprise and is my favorite song on the album is, “Save Me Now.” This track has great heavy metal passion and is just well written. Probably the best written song I have heard in a while. The guitar riff during the chorus matched with Jarvis’ vocals is simply phenomenal.
    “Curse of the Damned,” is an album with eleven original tracks that do not disappoint. Night Demon delivers consistent well written heavy metal songs that continue to demonstrate why this style of music does not fade. There are many bands who play this style of music, but what makes Night Demon stand out amongst the others is the high level of raw musical energy and strong songwriting abilities. I strongly recommend this album for fans of classic sounding metal and heavy metal in general. I even think fans who are more into hard rock can appreciate and get into Night Demon’s sound. This album will hopefully get more people to check out Night Demon and recognize the hard work that goes into making such kick ass music. So for my final words I leave you with this....Prepare for the Night Demon! \m/

Album Release dates:
January 27th North America
January 19th Europe

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Manilla Road-"Out of the Abyss"

    The sky outside is dark and gloomy. A chill runs up my spin as I begin to write this review. All I need to make this moment even more haunting is a cauldron, ritual candles, Gilbert Gottfried dressed as a vampire, the Necronomicon, and of course, Manilla Road’s “Out of the Abyss.” 
    Yes everyone, the time has come for yet another reissue of one Manilla Road’s many horror themed metal albums. Shadow Kingdom Records is teaming up with the classic metal band from Kansas once again and will be re-releasing the band’s seventh full-length album, “Out of the Abyss.” A release date is set for next year, January 13th. Originally recorded in 1988, the album comes from a time when Manilla Road’s desired to play fast and had a more thrash metal sound. Eventually, this band would return to the classic more doom metal style, but “Out of the Abyss,” features some intense jams and aggressive compositions.    
    Compared to, “Mystification,” the album just before “Out of the Abyss,” the music on this release is definitely a bit darker. Also, the band writes more lyrics about H.P. Lovecraft stories, so the haunting occult themed lyrics definitely make for some very dark and heavy sounding songs. I even felt the vocals on this album were darker and the overall screams used during some of the songs sent chills down my spine. The guitar playing on this album is solid and maintains a ripping thrash metal tone. However, there are moments where the riffs slow down to create short spooky doom like atmospheres. The dynamics between the slow haunting riffs and fast aggressive riffs definitely creates a unique and distinctive sound. For example, the opening song, “Whitechapel,” begins with a sinister sounding furious thrash riff while the song, “Return of the Old Ones,” is slower and more classic metal sounding. The main bulk of the songs on this album are your semi-thrash type tracks with some galloping riffs and rapid fire drum rhythms.
    Manilla Road really enjoys writing lyrics based of off horror books and this can be found on all their albums. Also, the band becomes very descriptive with their lyrics and on certain songs it sounds like they are trying to narrate a book rather than sing a song. The song, “Black Cauldron,” describes a ritual sacrifice to Cthulhu and the sinister sounding thrash sound really compliments the lyrical content. Personally, I find the gimmicky horror imagery to get old after about five or six songs, but don’t get me wrong, I think Manilla Road does a great job describing their lyrics and matching the lyrics with the instrumental compositions. “Return of the Old Ones,” “Midnight Meat Train,” and “Helicon,” are creative metal pieces with plenty of heavy head banging riffs and lyrics that will make some people piss their pants.
    I think, “Out of the Abyss,” is well worth checking out if you are into classic horror themed heavy metal with a slight thrash metal edge. I am really glad that Shadow Kingdom Records is helping spread the word about Manilla Road amongst the metal community. Maybe this reissue will help pull Manilla Road out of the abyss of other old less acknowledged metal bands who deserve more recognition for their contributions. Just have to keep spreading the word, or reissuing albums each year...   

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Local Metal Show: Trial by Combat, Oden Sun, Lord Mountain, Condemned?

    With the cost of tickets being ridiculously expensive and most of your major metal shows usually being a hassle to get to since they are in the city, sometimes those local metal shows are just hard to pass up.
    The Sonoma County metal community was fortunate enough to have a solid four band show in Forestville, CA this past Saturday night. Not too far from Sonoma State where I am currently attending, Forestville is a small town that one might miss if driving through because it is so damn small. The venue was your typical dive bar with a decent stage area. Compared to some dive bar music clubs I have been to, this place had a decent floor space for the crowd and that would come in handy at this metal show.
    The first band of the night was Lord Mountain. This Santa Rosa, CA doom metal band really cranked up the volume. Their guitar section sounded massive with the two guitar attack. Also, they incorporated some killer harmonies into the dark heavily distorted doom jams. The only problem during their set, which was really not the band’s fault, was that the vocals were just not miked loud enough in my opinion. Compared to the guitar volume and drums, the vocals were getting drowned out. The singer’s voice sounded good too and complimented Lord Mountain’s classic Sabbath like doom sound. They were a strong opener and definitely got the metal crowd going crazy. I think the liquor was helping getting the crowd going crazy too and eventually some people were really having fun.
    After Lord Mountain was Oden Sun. By the name one could tell this band had a metal gimmick and during their set the singer would even take out a sword and start swinging it around. Before they even started, one of the guitar players was complaining about the lights. This guy thought he was Cher or something the way he kept complaining into the mic. Their singer lucky knew how to address the crowd and his stage presence was really good. Oden Sun’s rhythm section was solid and I felt the drummer and bass player helped to establish a heavy grooving sound. On the guitar side, it was really hit or miss. The diva guitar player who had complained about the lights seemed to get lost a couple times during his solos. The other guy seemed to know when and where to stop, but his style of soloing was nothing that you can’t hear when walking into a guitar center. Overall though, Oden Sun put on an entertaining set and the sword waving part was hilarious.
    The third act of the night was a band called, Condemned?. I think the question mark at the end of their name represented how this band can’t decide to be a punk band, a metal band, or a band capable of blending the two styles of music together. Their singer, who looked like Batista from the WWE, had vocals that seemed to be almost power metal like, but this style of their music had a metal/ punk tone to it. The guitarist was a madman and his solos were extremely chaotic. I will give him credit for showing great stage presence and really rocking out, however, his solos were just too overwhelming. The band’s songs also tended to drag out, so when I thought a song would be over the guys would start adding on some more verse riffs that sounded really unnecessary. About half way through their set I started looking around the venue at all the interesting concert attendees because I was so bored. Some fans were really digging Condemned?’s set and some of those fans looked stoned out of their minds. This one guy looked like Captain Caveman, or like he just crawled out of a cave!
    Finally, Santa Rosa’s Trial by Combat took to the stage. Even after rocking out to three bands, the crowd still had enough energy to go crazy during Trial by Combat’s set. If anything the crowd exerted the most energy during their set. The band opened up with a can of metal whoop ass and the aggressive death/thrash sound got the place raging. Compared to the other acts, during Trial by Combat’s set their was a little moshing going on and tons of front stage head banging. They really sounded tight and lead singer Dashiel Mckenzie had a powerful voice. Also, Birthday boy Jesse Palmer was constantly rocking out and with the aid of his wireless guitar, he was running all over the stage and even into the crowd. The riffs were constantly crushing and that double bass drum rhythm is still ringing in my ears. Without question Trial by Combat stole the show!
    For the cost and opportunity to support local metal music, this show was definitely worth attending. The small town of Forestville, CA was overrun with numerous head banging lunatics and guys that looked like Captain Caveman. If you ever have the chance to support local metal acts you should seriously do so, because you never know how enjoyable of a night you might have and who you might see...like Captain Caveman.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Convent Guilt- "Guns for Hire"

Here is a group of classic Heavy Metal loving dudes from the land down under who are looking to steal your women and rock your face off! Convent Guilt sounds like they came straight out of the NWOBHM period. Their sound, image and overall musical attitude is unbelievably retro metal to the max! 
    These Australian’s offer up eight songs full of catchy riffs and triumphant sounding lyrics for this album titled, “Guns for Hire.” As much as you can hear a classic metal vibe throughout this album, there is this energetic punk attitude that comes across too. Still, the fist raising anthems are extremely Saxon and Judas Priest like. Vocally, I would have liked the singe to have a louder and more assertive voice. The lyrics are written in such a triumphant way that I find the lack of loud epic screams to give the music a very mellow tone at times. Still, there are some moments where the riffs are building up to that epic climax so the vocalist gets a bit of a boost.
    Overall, the band writes some really catchy songs. The opening track, “Angels in Black Leather,” creates this image of biker dudes riding down the road ready to raise some hell. Solid heavy crushing riffs and catchy drumming right away establish Convent Guilt’s old school classic metal sound. “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” is a slower very eighties sounding tune. It has that catchy dark sound and creates a mellow yet still heavy vibe. “Perverse Altar,” begins with more of a punk rock approach and I liked how the band repeated the chorus. The music gets stuck in your head for hours!
    Track number four, “They Took Her Away,” is very folk rock sounding with an acoustic guitar riff to start the song off. I reminded me a bit of certain Thin Lizzy songs. Overall, I enjoyed the mix of folk and classic metal, especially when the guitarist did a short electric guitar solo over the acoustic riff. The following track, “Guns for Hire,” begins with a blazing jam and never slows up. The music I felt could have used a bit of a kick, because the vocals did not really standout like I felt they should have. However, the vocals I notice start to pick up some steam towards the end of the album. “Desert Brat,” was a crushing song that was written with great catchy verses and blistering solos. “Convict at Arms,” my favorite song on the album, is extremely triumphant sounding and the vocals matched with the guitar playing, demand the listener’s attention. The last song, “Stockade,” starts off with a fast paced thrash attack sound that forms into a fierce chorus. I felt like the album consistently became louder and the music intensified with each song. A very rare quality these days.
    When the album is all said and done, and the metal biker dudes are riding off into the blazing Australian sun, I must admit that this was an overall enjoyable listen. The catchy and fierce classic metal sound can instantly hook listeners, and this style of music definitely has the potential to appeal to a wide range of rock/ metal fans. There are tons of bands who have that classic NWOBHM sound, and of course some do it better than others, but I would say Convent Guilt is one of the better bands. They also stand out from the other groups with that slight punk rock sound. If you are in the mood for some classic catchy metal sounding music, well put on your denim jacket and crack open a cold one, and then put on some Convent Guilt on. Get ready to rock until the neighbors call the cops!

Friday, October 31, 2014

King Diamond Concert Review

Hail the King...that is King Diamond of course. The lord of high pitched haunting sounding proportions and lyrical conceptual evil came to San Francisco with one main objective... and that was to give the crowd a show they would never forget.
    Scheduled the night before Halloween, the perfect night for a King Diamond concert, I was really looking forward to this show. After being sold out for some months now, I was anticipating a large die hard classic metal loving crowd. I made sure to arrive early and get inside the venue as quick as possible. Of course walking through San Francisco is a horror movie in itself that I do not think King Diamond could even write up. Standing in front of the Warfield Theatre I gazed up at the massive glowing sign that read King Diamond. Already hanging around the venue were patch covered leather jacket and metal t-shirt wearing die hards. I even saw a decent number of people with King Diamond’s make-up on. Since King Diamond has not toured in a very long time, everyone in the crowd was extremely excited.
    Once inside I went right away to the lower level general admission area in front of the stage to see the opener, and of course to establish a good viewing area for when the King would come out to do his set. On this tour King Diamond had Jess and the Ancient Ones as his opener. I liked how the King was taking a band around instead of just adding local acts to the bill. It gave Jess and the Ancient Ones a chance to perform their brand of psychedelic doom rock to various locations.
    Jess and the Ancient Ones came out to a sound clip of an old horror film, something from the old Universal black and white years, my favorite. Jess, dressed in a black gown, reminded me of a mystic Wiccan priest. She always seemed as though she was in a trance. Vocally, she has an amazing voice that is both melodic and doomy. Her voice mesmerizes as she sings over the psychedelic compositions and instantly grabs your attention. The other guys in the band were all solid players, and the three guitar attack created a killer sound. Also, the organ player added so much to the band’s overall sound and ambiance. “Astral Sabbat,” was by far my favorite song during their set. The opening bass line is very vintage Sabbath like and sets up for a spooky grooving jam. I felt that some people in the crowd were hooked by the haunting cosmic sounding music while some stood looking dazed and confused. I think your typical speed metal dudes were not digging the music as much, but I personally thought Jess and the Ancient Ones were a great opener. Their dark psychedelic sounding musical atmospheres definitely fit with the night’s spooky and evil theme.
    After Jess and the Ancient ones finished, the stage crew quickly began setting up for King Diamond. They lowered the curtains too so no one could see them setting up all the elaborate props. Trust me, it helped add to the mystery and eventual amazement of the King’s stage show. After each song from the house music ended the fans got all excited and started shouting, however, they had to wait a little bit. These fans were getting really rambunctious and the whole concert hall was buzzing. Finally, the lights dimmed and the curtains came up. I gazed upon the stage where there was an iron gate, double sided stair case, upside down glowing crosses, skulls on poles and an enormous gigantic pentagram. I nearly fell over from the sheer awesomeness! Then there standing on top of the star case structure was King Diamond. Right away the band began playing some classic King Diamond hits and the place nearly erupted when they played, “Welcome Home.” A person came out dressed as King’s evil Grandma from the “Them” album. As King sang he would humorously interact with the Grandma and his stage presence was brilliant. The theatrics mixed with the ripping heavy metal music was perfect. During the song, “Digging Graves,” King never missed a note while he used a shovel to pretend digging up a grave.
    Now as a guitar player, seeing Andy LaRocque who is one of my favorite metal guitarists, was an unbelievable experience. He cranked out tons of glorious guitar shredding solos. The other guitarist Mike Weed was also an exceptional player and tore through multiple scales to create a face melting sounding. Drummer Matt Thompson and bassist Pontus Egberg provided a solid rhythm section and both added their own passionate energy to the show. Pontus was really rocking out and seemed to be running all around the stage. King too was really enjoying himself and would even use his upside down cross microphone to air guitar. When the band played Mercyful Fate’s, “Come to the Sabbath,” all the old die hard metal fans went crazy. I just could not believe how after each song the band never slowed down. King Diamond sounded great the whole night. After all his medical issues in the past he is such a trooper for still working at keeping his voice in great shape. Towards the end of the show, hearing songs like “Halloween,” “Family Ghost” and “Eye of the Witch,” was a great way to finish the night. Each time the band finished I thought they were done, but the crowd kept yelling for more. The energy from the crowd seemed to keep the musicians on stage and King Diamond graciously played a couple more songs to finish off the night.
    When the show was all over, I think both the musicians and the fans were truly grateful for each other. For a show that you could say was shrouded in darkness and haunting imagery, the overall vibe was pretty positive. I would have to say that was one of the best and most memorable performances I have seen in my life. The whole presentation was professional and the musicianship was just as impressive. King Diamond is one of metal’s greatest theatrical performers and he knows how to put on a fantastic show. I really hope he releases some new music soon, because a world with new King Diamond music, makes for more a better world...Hail to the King, that is King Diamond!!!!(epic scream when saying his name of course)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sempiternal Dusk- "Self-Titled Release"

    Seemingly endless death doom music is what this Portland, OR group has to offer on their self-titled full-length album. Sempiternal Dusk, appropriately named might I point out, blends loud massive sounding doom metal atmospheres with some aggressive death metal cuts.
    This album is one enormous five song blanket of thick guitar distortion and sinister heavy grooving rhythms. Also, the singer uses that monstrous death growl which adds to the album’s overall dark theme. When the guitarist plays a riff, you feel the impact of each chord hitting your eardrum. Drumming, same effect as the guitar, and the drummer’s timing and feel is very powerful. As he pounds out heavy earth shaking rhythms, the sounds of each hit echo through the dark distorted abyss. For only five songs, one might think they are being cheated, but let me tell you that these are no short Grindcore songs. We’re talking 8-14 songs, so short minded music fans beware.
    The album starts out with the longest track, “Moon Beneath Hook Cross.” I personally questioned this move to have the longest song be first, however, I do believe the song best represents this band’s style and approach. The guitar gradually builds like the sound of an angry giant walking towards a town that he plans of destroying with his bare hands. About midway through the song the drums pick up pace and the song takes on a more death metal approach. The guitar playing maintains a loud destructive sound and fuses slower doom like riffs with chainsaw sounding death metal licks. I thought the song carried on a bit too long in certain parts, but I think what made this song not too repetitious was the fact that the band constantly switched between the two styles. 
    Song number two, “Streams of Night,” begins with a more abrasive sounding old school death metal composition. The song explodes instantly into a chaotic heavy riff assault and the drums add to the song’s overall behemoth sounding musical landscape. I especially like when Sempiternal Dusk hits the slow button and constructs those massive sounding ominous doom parts. Now, track three, “Upon the Gallows at Perihelion,” is yet another death doom mixture sure to swallow up all happiness in the universe. The chemistry between the guitar and drums is amazing and every composition flows harmoniously. Vocally, the death growls provide some bone chilling sounds, but the words never really standout and I can't tell what he is saying over the guitar distortion. Towards the end of the song the band uses some lines from Stephen King’s, It. I laughed when I heard the lines because I swear that another band I reviewed used the same lines in one of their songs. Pennywise the Clown sure gets plenty of recognition from metal bands these days.
    The fourth song, “Seclusion of the Bereaved,” sounds like impending doom and features some unapologetic riffs that hit harder than Mike Tyson. “Urn of Dawn,” is the last song and finishes the album off with a haunting vibe. The song is just a short guitar piece that creates sinister sounding riffs while demonic noises are heard in the background.
   For the most part this album maintained a certain distinct sound that I really enjoyed. Of course with most death doom music out there, the formula can become redundant. However, if in the mood for dark slow aggressive sounding music, this album is well worth the listen. Sempiternal Dusk is the theme music for an endless abyss of pure darkness where no light shines and evil clowns lurk in the shadows. Who wouldn't want to listen to that?! Well, maybe someone afraid of the dark and clowns...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Electric Wizard-“Time to Die”

Horror loving doom metal fanatics, Electric Wizard, are back with a new album titled, “Time to Die.” Their last full-length album, “Black Masses,” was released in 2010, so we have gone four years without a full-length Electric Wizard album. Oh no, what was I to do?!
    Well, in that four year period they did put out an EP that was titled something to the effect of legalizing drugs and murder, not surprising coming from this group. Also, they played a select handful of festival appearances while failing to tour North America. To be honest, they kind of annoyed me in the last four years by showing an apathetic work ethic. In all fairness they did go through a legal battle with their old label. Still, not touring North America! I had not been following the band as much, so this new album kind of snuck up on me. For this new album the band does carry over some qualities of, “Black Masses,” and even taps into their older catalog too. However, this album is a bit different in the way that it is presented, being based around a strong conceptual format. I actually think the band thought about how to incorporate the songs together rather than just get high, jam out some tunes, and then throw them all together on an album. I still think they got high, but the songs seem to have a certain flow.
    The introduction of this album starts with the sounds rushing water and are soon broken up by an audio news piece talking about a satanic cult murder. Those type of news sound bites are played often, solidify the satanic cult theme that this album has going on. That first song, “Incense for the Damned,” is one dark massive sounding track. The beginning organ part adds this old fashion horror vibe. Once the drums start building up the sinister atmosphere the guitars come pounding along cloaked in black robes of blasphemous distortion. Jus Oborn, singer/guitarist who is the main driving force in the band, sounds as though he is in a trance as he sings and hammers away at his guitar. Rhythm guitarist, Liz Buckingham, adds to the thick distortion sound with crushing backbone forming riffs. The band maintains that famous Sabbath like tone and the whirling feedback is unmistakable. On the second song, “Time to Die,” the band perfectly continues to pound out heavy grooving distortion filled jams. The two songs blend perfectly together in an unholy harmonious union. 
    Track three, “I am Nothing,” is the longest track on the album and contains plenty of long slow moving riffs. The beginning drum sound is thunderous and drummer Mark Greening decimates his kit with unbelievable force. There are times when the guitars explode into the soundscape with atomic sounding force. This song is great if you enjoy long heavy noise driven tracks, but I don’t think short minded music fans will be exactly enthusiastic. Track four, “Destroy Those Who Love God,” is a gimmicky instrumental that contains sound bites of more people talking about satanic cults. The band uses the organ again and this composition seems to be very chaotic. I personally like the next track, “Funeral of Your Mind.” Here the band comes up with a really heavy grooving jam that sounds similar to something that Saint Vitus would do. Good use of effect pedals and the guitar tone compliments the vocals well during the song.
    Track six, “We Love the Dead,” is another slow Sabbath like crushing jam and really no different than the first two tracks in style. It sounds a lot like the stuff from their “Come My Fanatics...” album. The next track, “SadioWitch,” is my least favorite track and sounds like a track that did not make it on “Black Masses.” The recording is subpar and the riffs are not as powerful as the other riffs on this album. “Lucifer’s Slaves,” is a return to the more crushing drawn out riffs and dark massive sounding atmospheres. The album ends with an instrumental piece called, “Saturn Dethroned,” and offers a bone chilling farewell to this distortion driven tale of terror.
    For an album that snuck up on me since I had not been expecting the band to do much besides continue to play festivals once in a blue moon, this album was an enjoyable listen. Is this their best album to date? No, but I would say that the way Electric Wizard approached this album was very creative and helps make it standout amongst the other albums in their discography. I think the longer songs over use guitar feedback at times, however, it does help in creating that sinister theme which Electric Wizard was going for. If you are a fan of doom metal and endless heavily distorted jams of satanic proportions, I believe this album will be your cup of tea. Now, hopefully Electric Wizard puts down their cups of tea and other substances, so they can do some touring in support of this album!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Nader Sadek-"The Malefic: Chapter III"

    This four song EP “The Malefic: Chapter III” by Nader Sadek, is one ferocious blend of multiple metal sub-genres. The reason for this EP’s diverse extreme sound is due mainly in part to the fact that their are many great metal musicians making contributions. 
    Nader Sadek is a metal project that yields extreme technical talent. The band features drummer Flo Mounier from CRYPTOPSY, vocalist Travis Ryan from of CATTLE DECAPITATION, Guitarist Rune Eriksen from AURA NOIR and Bobby Koelble, who played on my favorite DEATH album, “Symbolic.” Also, there are three different bass players on this album, all who are well recognized in their craft. The main guy is Martin Wriggle who formerly played with of DECAPITATED. Alex Webster, Cannibal Corpse bass master and songwriter,  offers his brutal talents to the song, "Deformation by Incision." Olivier Pinard, who used to play in NEURAXIS and is now currently the touring bassist for CRYPTOPSY, shows off his bass playing abilities on the track, "Carrion Whispers.” With such accomplished musicians working together, one can only expect blazing technicality, brutal unapologetic vocals and music with plenty of attitude.
    The opening death metal juggernaut piece, “Deformation by Incision,” is a chaotic blitzkrieg of pure insanity. The rhythms are complex and push the music into dark mind bending voids of technical endlessness. Travis Ryan sounds great with his low death growl vocal tone that gives the music a vicious quality. Each guitar riff is fluid and the dynamic technicality just does not disappoint. When listening to this song I can’t believe a human is able to play that many notes and maintain a solid sound the whole way through. Track number two, “Carrion Whispers,” begins with a more black metal sound. The main guitar riff in the beginning of the song conveys an intense dark sound. Throughout the song as the riff changes, the drummer aggressively pounds away at the complex time signatures. The virtuosic lead guitar playing is also quite compelling and adds to the band’s massive in your face brutal technical sound.
    For the third track, “Entropy Eternal,” the band sticks to a more straightforward tech death sound. Solid blast beats, loud bombastic growls and insane guitar parts simply make up the song, well of course the music is not that simple. These guys never stop altering the music and you can never predict the direction in which the instruments will take you. The final song, “Descent,” is actually a deviation from the other more intense technical death metal tracks. I feel this track is a little more atmospheric. The tempo is slowed down to create a very bone chilling atmosphere. About half way through the song a sharp lead guitar piece is thrown in, and it adds some variety to the slower death doom sound. I really like this track’s overall composition and the songwriting reflects Nader Sadek’s diverse creative extreme metal minds.
    If you are a fan of extreme diverse sounding technical metal, this EP is right up your alley. I would say there is definitely an emphasis of tech death on this EP, but there are some black metal moments and atmospheric death doom elements too. With this many great musicians, hell, you are going to be getting something that is pretty damn mind blowing and musically challenging. Prepare yourself...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mastercastle-"Enfer (De La Bibliothèque Nationale)"

    Italian Power Metal band, Mastercastle, opens the gates to epic metal sounding lands with their new album, “Enfer (De La Bibliothèque Nationale).” This is the band’s fifth release to date and the album continues to display the band’s neoclassical influenced power metal style.
    Italy of course has been the home of many great neoclassical power metal bands, such as Rhapsody of Fire and Labyrinth. Mastercastle is right up there with that technical grandiose epic sounding style, but this band is more straight forward hard rock at times too. Guitarist Pier Gonella knows when to use his special shredding talents while still creating simple solid heavy riffs. I find on this album Mastercastle does not overwhelm me with endless blazing technicality, but thoughtfully incorporates it when needed. Also, the compositions are very uplifting and of course, very symphonic. Lead singer Giorgia Gueglio definitely helps add to the band’s massive melodic symphonic sound. Her voice is magnificent as it glides over the ripping instrumental jams. She delivers the music with plenty of emotion that makes the words take on an even greater meaning.
     The opening track, “The Castle,” begins with a very Helloween like introduction. The main riff is really heavy and has a catchy groove to it. Giorgia comes in with her clear melodic voice and gives the song a pleasant quality, yet still rocking hard. The riffs on this album constantly maintain a heavy tone and allow for the other more technical parts to take shape. Songs like “Let Me Out” and “Naked,” are just pure crushing power metal songs. Plenty of heavy dynamic style riffs, precision drumming and powerful vocals that offer a pleasant contrast to the more aggressive riffs. One song that really stands out on this album is, “Pirates.” The song is very uplifting and emphasizes the band’s fierce melodic approach. Towards the end of the song there is a fluid guitar solo that is played with tremendous feel and emotion.
    The second half of the album really does not differ that much from the first half. I think Giorgia’s voice helps keep the music sounding very consistent. The lyrics are very moving and the words are thoughtfully presented. There is a certain harmonic quality that this album conveys. “Straight to the Bone” and “Throne of Time” are solid tracks with very triumphant choruses and fierce lead guitar parts. The final song on this album, “Coming Bach,” is yet another example of Mastercastle’s high level of musicianship. During this instrumental piece, the band dazzles with technical brilliance and the progressions are very fluid.
    In the end, Mastercastle’s, “Enfer (De La Bibliothèque Nationale),” is an album full of fantastic neoclassical power metal moments. Most of the time I find this style of music to lack simple hard rock and classic metal stylings, but Mastercastle finds a way to maintain a world of technicality and heavy enjoyable simplicity. I would recommend this album for fans of fierce melodic epic music, because the sound is heavy yet there is a soothing melodic side to this music too. Definitely music I have to be in a certain mood for, but when I want some epic neoclassical power metal, I will immediately consider Mastercastle. For those who are really interested in this album, be prepared to enter into a castle full of neoclassical power metal wonder that can be found around every turn.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Concert Review: Hysteria, Exmortus, Allegaeon, Arsis


    Technicality, sheer musical insanity and plenty of what the fuck moments, easily sums up went down Friday night in Walnut Creek, Ca. Well, of course I can elaborate further on the events that took place during the four band metal show at Red House Studios in Walnut Creek. Arsis, Allegaeon and Exmortus, are currently doing an extensive tour across North America and made a stop in Walnut Creek. Luckily for me Walnut Creek is not too far from where I go to college, so I was definitely not going to miss out on this show.
    The opening band for the night was the Bay Area’s own Hysteria who were added onto the bill. I have seen Hysteria before about a year ago, surprisingly around the same time, open for Havok. This local metal band really does stay true to the classic heavy metal formula. Their lead singer who also plays a mean guitar gives the band a really distinct sound. He has great stage presence and knows how to the crowd going. Hysteria tore through a short, yet very energetic set, full of blistering harmonic leads and crushing riffs. For the first band of the night, there was a decent amount of fans and I really hope more Bay Area fans begin to embrace Hysteria. I think these guys just need to keep pouring out the metal energy, and eventually, they will get their name further out in the metal world.
    The second band to take the stage was the extreme technical thrash/death group from southern California, Exmortus. Earlier this year the band released their third full-length album, “Slave to the Sword,” and have been touring non-stop it seems like since the album’s release. One cannot forget to point out this band’s amazing technical guitar playing abilities. The twin guitar attack of Exmortus really gives their music an extra kick in the pants, and it showed during their set. From the start of their set to the end, Exmortus looked enthusiastic up on stage and played their hearts out. David Rivera and Conan Gonzalez played some blazing lead guitar parts while constantly banging their heads. Bassist Aldo Bibiano and drummer Mario Moreno were a solid rhythm section that laid down plenty of thunderous jams for the lightening guitar shredding to take place. All four of these guys are tremendous up and coming musicians who know how to put on a killer show. One memorable moment during their set that really stood out, was when David and Conan put their guitars behind each other’s backs and played the other guy’s guitar. I thought they were insane shredders to begin with, but this behind the back dual guitar trick just unbelievable. The crowd was going nuts during the whole set and once the band finished their set, the ravenous metal loving concert goers wanted more. So, the band played one more song, which was a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at the Moon.” David put down his guitar and sang the song with plenty of passion channeling his inner Ozzy. Conan of course shredded his way through the metal classic and would have made Jake E. Lee very proud.
    Now, the third band Allegaeon, I was not very familiar with and felt bad because I had pronounced their name wrong a couple times during my radio show when talking about this concert. This five piece Colorado melodic death metal band was a bit of a pleasant surprise, but also a bit of a repetitive random shred machine. Their singer was simply awesome and did a great job interacting with the crowd. If there are any young up and coming frontmen out there, the singer in Allegaeon can help give you some pointers. Just the way he carried himself onstage really showed how he cared about the music he was playing and the people he was playing for. The two guitar players were good and ripped through melodic scales like it was no big deal. However, after a couple songs I became tired of hearing the random shredding and finger tapping. If not for the main crushing head banging style riffs, I would have easily lost interest. I would say they are amazing musicians who have a singer that seems to be a natural perform, but the style of technical melodic death metal can carry on for far too long.
    Arsis, the veteran melodic death metal band from the East Coast, was the last band to take the stage. By the time they began their set the crowd was beginning to get rowdy and the pit was getting larger. I was having to keep pushing people back in after they would fall chaotically out. Arsis is an amazing live act that just delivers precise technical musical abilities that one cannot sometimes begin to fathom. They played their first album, “A Celebration of Guilt,” in its entirety along with some other extreme metal songs. James Malone the singer and guitarist is an energetic frontman and even more ridiculously talented musician. He plays with great fluidity and can hammer out some ear shattering riffs. One could tell these guys have been playing for a long time and know how to melt the minds of melodic death metal fans. Towards the end of their set the band even played a WASP cover that was surprisingly good. 
    Eventually some of the drunks were beginning to fall down, but the crowd for the most part kept roaring and throwing the devil horns up in the air until the final song. Overall it was an enjoyable night of amazing musicianship that showed why metal bands are no musical schmucks. These guys can play their instruments and if you need proof, just catch one of these bands the next time they play your town. Trust me, your mind will explode from the constant shredding and technical madness. You have been warned...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Track Review:Corpse Garden-“Suspended Over the Abyss”

   Costa Rican death metal madmen, Corpse Garden, strike yet again from the unholy musical depths. Their old school technical death metal style strongly shines through on this new single called, “Suspended Over the Abyss.” Not only does the song title sound brutal and epic, but the music will have death metal fans head banging and causing all sorts of moshing chaos. The introduction riff is very intense and makes way for a sinister double bass drum attack. As the instruments continuously follow the forceful rhythm, the vocalist narrates the song’s haunting lyrics with a brutal old school death metal growl. His growl is consistent and it maintains a massive sounding low tone. Still, what I enjoyed most about this entire song was the relentless heavy guitar riffs. The guitar parts sound mean, as if they will tear your soul apart in extreme technical fashion. Also, the thick heavy distortion guitar tone easily amplifies the unholy riffs to an even greater level of musical chaos. For the full 4 minutes and 21 seconds, I constantly felt the band's extreme musical passion. 
    Now, I reviewed an album from these guys a couples years back, so I was aware of what they had to offer musically. Their overall sound is tight and the passion that they put into their music helps make them really standout from the thousands of other death metal bands who wish they could be Morbid Angel, Nile, Obituary, Pestilence or Death(There shall never be another Death!). If you enjoy old school technical death metal and want some music to help release plenty of rage and frustration, well you need to check this song out! Hopefully these guys put an album together, because the more extreme music I have to listen to, the more time I have to piss off my neighbors...
Link to the track below!
Corpse Garden-"Suspended Over The Abyss"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

At Dusk-"Anhedonia"

   As the dusk set, the sound of black metal filled the air and an album lay forth for all to hear. The one man black metal project from California, At Dusk, definitely presents a haunting vibe with the album, “Anhedonia.”
    The music tells lengthy dark tales filled with tortured screams from black abysses unknown. The four songs on this album are no simple black metal pieces, but long atmospheric tracks that average around fourteen minutes. There are plenty of slow drawn out crushing riffs and moments of eerie silence which are broken up by bone chilling sound effects. This style of black metal definitely takes from Burzum and Darkthrone, but travels deeper into those painful shadowy sounding musical landscapes.
    The opening track, “Anhedonia,” begins with a soothing piano piece. As the piano glides through a solemn sounding scale, dark sounds of ghostly quality begin to make their presence heard. After a while the piano fades and the loud chaotic black metal music takes over. The drums pound with aggressive force, laying down a forceful main rhythm. Following the slow ominous rhythm is a guitar riff that is recorded with massive amounts of sharp distortion. The vocals, those haunting tortured vocals, just complete the dark ambiance so darn well. As the track continues I feel as though I am being sucked into this dark world of fascination. The song changes musical directions a couple times and leaves me curios to the future possibilities that are contained on this album.
    Song two, “Agonia,” does not hesitate to jump into the chaotic black metal world. Right away the drums start building up a fast paced rhythm as the guitar and vocals sinisterly follow up. The guitar riff maintains a consistent dark edge and the chord progression tends to change tempo as the music becomes almost dreamlike in certain areas. “Agonia,” is full of unique timings and seems to travel on an endless cosmic atmosphere.
    After “Agonia” fades out, track number three, “Miseria,” silently builds up. There is an organ piece which make me instantly think of the Phantom of the Opera or some other old black and white horror movie. On this track I like how the black metal was incorporated into the haunting atmosphere. The instruments are composed really well and tell a long story of pain, suffering and misery. The final song, “Melancholia,” continues to travel along that road of epic dark sounding musical landscapes. One part during the song that really stood out was when the vocals were screaming over the chaotic black metal composition, a soft piano piece could be heard in the background. It was a pleasant musical contrast to finish this album off.
    At Dusk’s, “Anhedonia,” perfectly sums up what atmospheric black metal is all about. The music constructs endless dark landscapes of instrumental wonder and fierce musical expression. This is music that you really have to be in a certain mood for, because the purpose of this style of music is to let go all expectations and welcome the calming darkness. Also, these songs are not for the impatient mind that expects the song to be simple and straight forward. Ultimately, I recommend this album for those who are willing to suspend their preconceived musical attitudes and enter the dark seas of unknown sounding wonder.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Interview with Kim 'Dvergur' Brandhøj and Thor Sejersen 'Krieg' Riis from Innsmouth

 Here is an interview with a couple members from the Technical Death Metal band Innsmouth. Their debut album is out this coming October, and the title for the album is, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth."

1. Hello Guys! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Are you excited to have your first album finished and soon to be available for everyone to hear? When is the exact date so people can know when to mark their calendars, or type it into their phone calendars?

Hello, this is Kim (vocals) and it’s my pleasure to answer your questions!
 We are really excited to reveal the entire album for all of you guys really soon, it’s gonna be a blast! We have had such a great response on our newly released single, “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, and we can’t wait, to show you guys even more of our album - and it will be available for preorder the 10th of September and release date a month later, through Crime Records, Norway.

2. When I first listened to the album I was really impressed by the insane technical compositions. Each song is full of diverse brutal creative pieces and demonstrates sharp technical death metal knowledge. How hard was it to record the album? Were there any songs that presented a challenge when recording the album? Did you break any chairs?

Thank you! It wasn’t really that hard to record the album, time wise. Thor (guitar), had some recording equipment in his apartment, so whenever we had the time to record the album, we simply just did it at his place.
 We also didn’t really have a deadline, except for the one, we sat for ourself.
Personally for me, the hardest part of the album, to record, was the part with the ”raped angels”, in “Vomiting A Hole In The Soul”. That took forever for me to record, haha!
 No chairs were hurt during the record!

3. With a sound like yours that takes on so many different styles of extreme music, I was wondering what bands you guys listen to/ what bands are some of your all time favorite that you could not live without?

We listen to a lot of different bands, and some we can agree on, is Death, Obscura and Necrophagist.
 Martin(bass) is into the more melodic parts of metal, deathcore and bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, and Beyond Creation.
 Thor is into all the technical stuff like Nevermore, Dream Theater, and of course the old school 80’s shredding scene!
As for me, i’m really into death metal and black metal. At the moment, I listen a lot to Behemoth, Taake, Angantyr, Kampfar, but I guess my all time favorite band is Pantera.

4. Now, your band's name is taken from an H.P. Lovecraft story, as is the title of your album, The Shadow Over Innsmouth. I too enjoy Lovecraft's works and find them to work well with heavy metal music. I was wondering what are some of your favorite Lovecraft stories, and why do you think his writings make for great heavy metal songs?

I haven't read that many Lovecraft stories, so I will let Thor answer that question:
Thor: It's very hard to choose just a few of his stories to mention as my favorites, since they're all so good! But from the top of my mind I would probably choose ”The Colour out of Space”, ”The Haunter of the Dark”, ”The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”, and ”At the Mountains of Madness”. For some reason Lovecrafts writing just triggers my creativity and I usually get inspired to write both music and lyrics after reading his stories. I am obviously not the only one who gets inspired by reading his novels, as a lot of people have written Lovecraftian music throughout the years. One of the best Lovecraft inspired songs that i have ever heard is ”The Thing That Should Not Be” by Metallica. This was also the song that got me into Lovecrafts writing in the first place. Back to Kim.

5. One of my favorite songs on this album, "The Colour out of Space," also my favorite Lovecraft story, is a brilliant instrumental. You guys did some things different on that song, such as use a piano to accompany the guitars and drums. I was wondering if you could talk about your inspiration for that song musically and how does that track compare to the other songs on the album in your opinion?

Once again, I will let Thor answer the question:
Thor: Thank you so much, I am very glad that you liked the song (and the rest of the album!). ”The colour out of space” is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories as well. For some reason, this song was really easy for me to write. I felt really inspired one evening and i wrote the whole song in one go. We use synth, keys and piano parts occasionally on some of the other songs, but on this one we went a step further. Coming up with parts for piano, choir etc. is something I think is very fun. I am a big fan of classical music, so writing a song such as this with lots of orchestration parts, is something that I've always wanted to do. Other than that, I was listening to ”The Faceless” non stop at the time, so they ended up having a huge impact on the guitar/bass/drumming of that song. Now back to Kim´s answers!

6. There eight songs on this album, but if you could pick only three, which are your favorites and why?

Hmm, “Under the Pyramids” has this really angry, aggressive vibe that I really like and so does “Reanimator”. The lyrics in “Reanimator” are hilarious as well!
 As for my last, but not least, favorite song on the album, I guess it is “Dream of Slowly Drowning”. It has a dark and gloomy feel to it, that kicks your ass, and makes you weep!

7. Being from Denmark, I was wondering if you could tell the global metal readers about your local metal scene?
Does the band play shows often? Are there plenty of venues for you to play?

We currently don’t have any plans of playing live shows, but there is a lot of great venues for underground bands to perform here.
The scene here in Denmark is stronger than ever! A lot of new great bands are flourishing in the underground, just waiting to be unleashed!

8. What are some of your future plans once the album is released? Any tour plans?

Our goal from the start, was to write music that we would be proud of and not play any gigs. Also, we are in the brainstorm phase of the next album. It’s gonna be awesome, trust me! Unfortunately, as it is right now, we don’t have any plans for touring, or even playing a single gig, but who knows, what will happen in the future!

9. Well guys, congratulations on the album and keep unleashing your technical talents with fierce pride! All readers need to check out Innsmouth’s debut release, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, NOW! So technical and brutal Cthulhu would even be impressed!

Thank you, it was my pleasure to answer your questions!
We will keep releasing assaults from the forthcoming album in the future!
 Thanks to all who have supported us, friends, Cthulhu and you!
 Keep supporting metal!

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Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/thorsr

Monday, September 1, 2014

Innsmouth-"The Shadow Over Innsmouth"

    May the Great Old Ones be praised with insane brutal technical death metal! Innsmouth, a name taken from an H.P. Lovecraft story, is a band with a very complex death metal sound. This group of Danish metal musicians demonstrates some extreme technical musical abilities, and references plenty of H.P. Lovecraft stories with their debut release, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” They approach their music in a similar fashion to groups such as Nocturnus, Nile, Origin and Vile. There is a mix of old school death metal and more modern technical death metal. Innsmouth cleverly alters their tempos and time signatures to keep the music constantly evolving. Also, the technical guitar fills display some amazing guitar shredding talents. 
    Now, lyrically all the songs on this album convey a science fiction horror vibe, and they draw noticeable influence from H.P. Lovecraft writings. I personally enjoy H.P. Lovecraft stories, but find too many metal bands use his works to write lyrics. Sometimes I wish bands would create their own science fiction horror themed lyrics while maybe taking influence from how Lovecraft came up with his ideas. However, I guess bands just decide it is easier to take the themes directly from his stories. Although I seem to find this trend overdone, I cannot deny that the music is enjoyable and compliments Lovecraft’s stories rather well.
    The beginning to this album commences in chaotic technical brutal style with the song, “Vomiting A Hole in Your Soul.” Right away the guitarist rips through a variety of scales in maximum overdrive speed. For some reason the drumming seems to lack passion and did not provide a strong rhythmic backbone. Vocally, the singer does a decent job presenting the lyrics with a loud thunderous death growl. His vocals at times seemed to get drowned out by the chaotic guitar shredding. “Dreams of Drowning,” is a prime example of this band’s insane technical sound, but the song is also an example of how the music becomes very overwhelming. I must credit Innsmouth for exploring the extreme music spectrum. Still, they do get carried away on this album with the random guitar shredding and complex compositions.
    Song number four on this album, “Under the Pyramids,” is one my favorite songs on this album and contains some really good solid death metal riffs. The fills are more strategically placed compared to the previous songs. Also, I like how the tempo fluctuates as the singer presents the science fiction themed lyrics with his brutal death growl. Another great track to take away from this album is the instrumental song, “The Colour Out of Space.” Taking the name of one of my favorite Lovecraft stories, this song surprisingly begins with a soft piano piece. Soon the piano is accompanied by a heavy guitar riff and there are moments of pleasant melodic guitar shredding. The final song on this album, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” is another track that I enjoyed and features more fluid technical death metal riffs.
    Even after hearing numerous bands write music about H.P. Lovecraft stories, Innsmouth found a way to keep me interested. Their guitar playing abilities deserve high praise and the musicianship on this album only comes from hard work and dedication. I think people who enjoy technical death metal will really gravitate towards this release, while those who prefer less complicated extreme music might be left scratching their heads. No matter what your preference happens to be, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” is an album full of amazing technical death metal surprises. I think even the Great Old Ones would be impressed by Innsmouth’s technical musical abilities. They might even let the band live...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Interview with Jason "brainsplitter" Gluck from Rude

Hi, thanks for taking the time to do this email interview. Great job on “Soul Recall.” That album really captures the essence of old school death metal. Now that the album has been out for a while, what are some of the reactions that you have been receiving from fans? How satisfied are you with the album overall?

Jason: No problem dude! Thanks for the kind words. So far we’ve got almost nothing but praise. We ran into some bumps in the recording process that forced us to rush a bit to make the release date, but overall I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

I actually saw you guys open for Morbid Angel in SF at Slims. Being my first introduction to Rude, I was impressed by your very old school death metal sound and have to say you were the perfect opener for Morbid Angel. As fans of Morbid Angel, what was the experience like opening them? Do you think that helped get you exposed to a larger audience?

Jason: It was truly an honor. We really couldn’t have asked for a better show to play- it proved that to us that our work was paying off and gave us exactly the exposure we needed. Not only that, but people began to take us very seriously.

I was wondering if you could give the people out there a little background history on Rude. Is this the original line-up? How long has this current line-up been together?

Jason: Far from the original line up. Rude existed in 2008 with different members aside from Yusef. They played different music too, darker and dirtier metal, more primitive to what it is now. My old band played a show with them once which is how I met Yusef. Ended up bumming burgers off of him at his job in Berkeley for years to come... In those years, Rude kind of evolved into a short lived thrashier band called Forsaker, with a new line up including current Rude drummer Tony. When that ended, Yusef joined a band called Scolex, and eventually in 2012 he hit me up to record some new stuff he was working on that didn't quite fit with Scolex. Of course I was surprised how good it was!! That material became the Haunted demo, and since then its been the same drummer Tony and lead guitarist David along with Yusef. I joined the band just before the Morbid Angel show. But you can say I've been there along the way.

Also, what other bands have any of you played in before Rude, and what is different about those bands compared to Rude?

Jason: I also play guitar in a band called Limbs, a pretty looney death/grind band with some powerviolence and noisecore thrown in, so it's different from Rude in that we don't take ourselves very seriously, and the songs are shorter, more frantic. Before that I was in high school, playing guitar in a band called Lobotomizer. That project had a lot of old school death metal influences, but especially more technical bands like Atheist. It had some funky and groovy riffs with a lot of real heavy slap bass. When it comes to Rude, I don't write much of what I play, so the style is different. I like the style the band had before I joined, so I'd rather adapt to it than try to inject my own style and make it all funky and weird. I'll save that for when I get my own project going again.

Of course it does not take a rocket scientist to tell that you guys enjoy death metal. What are some of your favorite bands? Also, what is the one death metal album you could not live without?

Jason: I enjoy the technical and quirky stuff. Atheist is a favorite for sure, along with Gorguts, Ripping Corpse, Demilich, Edge of Sanity. Of course we all worship the classic masters like Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Entombed, etc. The album I could not live without is probably Piece of Time or Unquestionable Presence. It's not often you hear such heavy music played with such depth. And the BASS!!

Time to talk more about what I consider to be one of the best death metal albums of the year. When I first listened to “Soul Recall,” I noticed how all the songs sounded solid and there were absolutely no fillers. How long had you guys worked on those songs? Also, how long did it take to record the album?

Jason: Thanks so much for the regards!! Most of the songs are from the Haunted demo, so they've had plenty of time to develop. Although, newer tracks like Internal Ascension we kind of worked out as we recorded them. So there's really both sides of the spectrum!

To record the album, it took a few months total. The first sessions were done in Yusef's basement and we didn't really get the sound we were hoping for. Later we did everything again in our rehearsal space where everything went smoothly over a few days worth of tracking. By then we were under a lot of pressure from our label, so I spent a week or two mixing it and sent it off with a pretty rushed mastering job. Some things I would have liked to change, but again, pretty satisfied overall.

All the songs on the album are great in my opinion, but if you could only pick three, which would you say are your favorite songs? Also, what song is the most challenging to play?

Jason: My favorites are all the new ones! Soul Recall, Last of Us, Internal Ascension. I recorded the Haunted demo and listened to those songs over and fucking over mixing them. I'm too tired of them to like them so much! Not to say they aren't any good of course. The most challenging one for me is probably Haunted. Those long 16th note sections are tough on bass, using 3 fingers to play notes in groups of 4. Alternate picking is a piece of cake, but that kind of stuff trips me up a bit, and my fingers get pretty tired whenever we play it later in the set.

As much as I keep saying how great the music sounds on “Soul Recall,” I must not forget how amazing the album art work looks. Dan Seagrave did one spectacular job. How pleased are you guys with the album cover art?

Jason: Um, its god damn amazing. Thank you Lord Seagrave. It helps us fit in with the old school classics! Can't wait to see what he might do for us next....!!

Now practice makes perfect, unless you are Allen Inverson, so I was wondering how often do you guys practice together? Do you come up with most of your songs when you all practice together?

Jason: We don't practice enough if you ask me. But its okay, cause the style we play doesn't exactly call for surgical precision or anything. We're only starting to write songs together more recently, after Soul Recall. Before it was mostly Yusef with some input from David. Of course Tony is there laying down the most pummeling rhythm section to support their ideas.

Now, Rude is signed to FDA Rekotz, a great German label specializing in some of the best new extreme bands. How did you guys get in contact with FDA Rekotz? What have you liked most about working with them? 

Jason: Man, Yusef sent those tapes everywhere. He is relentless. I guess the demo just ended up in the right hands! It's been nice seeing so much recognition in Europe. They seem to be making great connections for us that we hope to utilize soon. Its awesome, seeing our pictures and interviews in magazines with languages I can't even read, haha.

Recently Rude just finished up a west coast tour with Derogatory and Skelethal. Overall, how did the tour go? What was your favorite venue to play at on the tour?

Jason: It was a lot of fun! The crowds weren't very big, but people really enjoyed the music bought a lot of records. And the West was introduced to Skelethal, who are doing a killer job bringing old Swedish style. My favorite venue was the Metro in Oakland. 3 tours all crossed paths that night making for one hell of a show. Also the biggest and most comfortable stage!

I know touring is becoming extremely difficult for bands. However, do you have any future tour plans in the works, or are you still working the local scene for the time being?

Jason: We are hoping to tour Europe next and reunite with Skelethal over there! It will be nice to play for people that have been waiting to hear us live. The local scene here is pretty apathetic.

Well, I guess that is all the questions I have. Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. Can’t wait for the next release, and highly recommend everyone reading this who has not yet listened to “Soul Recall,” do so now!

Jason: No problem!! Cheers! If you dig the sound of the album, check out my studio website www.brainsplitterstudios.com - I have killer deals for recordings and I'm happy to travel.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Northern Crown- "In the Hands of the Betrayer"

    Prepare for massive haunting melodic doom metal that will send chills down your spine. Northern Crown’s, “In the Hands of the Betrayer,” is an album that summons up plenty of dark melodic sounds.
    This debut EP features five songs that represent classic sounding melodic doom metal. Northern Crown builds enormous haunting musical atmospheres and comes up with a variety of sinister guitar riffs. Vocally, the singer presents the material with a loud melodic voice that also creates a chilling vibe. As he narrates melodic tales of terror, the band follows along by constructing even darker sounding musical landscapes. One area that really caught my attention on this album, was the band’s use of keyboards. Just imagine if Jon Lord was playing doom metal. Each keyboard progression perfectly compliments the song’s overall atmosphere.
    Once the album begins, the growing doom sound washes over like a gigantic wave and drags listeners into a sea of pleasant darkness. The opening song, “In the Hands of the Betrayer,” instantly kicks into a fast past heavy jamming riff. When the singer enters his vocals echo with fierce melodic presence. About midway through the song, the band slows down tempo and creates a cosmic sounding atmosphere. Also, the guitarist unleashes an intense guitar solo that deviates from the slower cosmic like section.
    “A Perfectly Realized Torment,” begins with a really slow tempo and throughout the song, the rhythm picks up pace. However, the band never departs too far from that haunting overall tone. I find the slower riffs to be extremely heavy and the sound gives the lyrics an extra emphasis. Song three, “Crystal Ball,” is a Candlemass cover, and works well with the other material on this album. Northern Crown sounds very similar to Candlemass, so the song could be mistaken as an original from Northern Crown.
    Now the track, “Approaching, Encroaching Storm,” is a bit bizarre, yet still works with this album’s haunting theme. The track features some fierce wind noises and a short spoken monologue. If anything, the storm piece sets up the final song, “To Thee I Give an Orchid.” This final song is the longest track on the album and continues to present that dream like melodic doom sound. Northern Crown even sounded a bit like Type O Negative with this song, especially during the keyboard parts. Towards the end of the track, the contrast of heavy sounding riffs and rhythms is matched by a soothing piano piece. The finale is magnificent and solemnly fades into the doom horizon. 
    “In the Hands of the Betrayer,” is highly recommend for all fans of melodic doom metal. Northern Crown constructed this EP with brilliant musicianship and the band faithfully follows the doom metal formula. The music is a great blend of haunting melodic sounds that welcomes all listeners into its dark harmonious realm. Don’t be afraid, and let the band guide you through this amazing five song musical creation.