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