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!

Innsmouth Official Facebook:
Thor Sejersen Riis Official Facebook:

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...