Sunday, July 31, 2016

Concert Review: Melvistock at the Phoenix Theater (July 29, 2016)


    Well, I think there is much to be said about this past Friday night’s show at the Phoenix Theater. I mean, where do I begin? You had four bands who all conveyed that rebellious spirit which makes punk such a great form of artistic musical expression. Eventually the artistic expression would take a turn down chaos street and looked more like an ECW wrestling event. Still, Nor Bay Pyrate Punx delivered a solid benefit show with good music and very interesting moments. 

    The bands billed were R4ID from Ukiah, Sonoma County locals The Quitters, Modern Enemy who came up all the way from Orange County, and then Elderly Abuse from the East Bay. Right when I arrived at the Phoenix the skateboard punks were tearing it up on the ramps inside the venue. A venue known for its down to earth atmosphere, I have always admired the Phoenix for giving people a place to go and not feel restricted by overbearing house rules. Most venues would not even let you bring a skateboard in let alone actually do some tricks while the bands are performing. Of course there is a limit to how much you can get away with at the Phoenix and I will discuss that a bit later. 

    Opening up the show was R4ID who I had seen before play at the Phoenix with my friends in Amnesia back in June. I was quite impressed by these young punk rockers who reminded listeners that the music is all about playing fast, simple and not giving a damn about the shitty world around you. For a young band they really have a tight sound and all around seem to be solid players. They brought that same energy they did when I first saw them and kicked off the show with a big middle finger full of unapologetic distorted angst. The trio ripped through killer song after song while people were skating around the venue floor. The band’s bassist and singer Phoenix Lewis was extremely fired up during the set and guitarist Boden Vogus hammered away at the fast paced riffs. Drummer Daniel Young not only offered up a strong performance behind the kit, but also provided some solid backing vocals. Overall, R4ID put together a killer set and I believe these dudes are a band to be on the look out for in the world of punk.  

    Switching from young punks to veteran punks, The Quitters took to the stage next and unleashed their sound of no-nonsense attitude. These locals looked as if they had rocked the Phoenix before and seemed very comfortable while cruising through their songs. The audience was divided with those in the back watching the band and then those in the front of the stage skateboarding around. If you thought mosh pits were dangerous try dodging skateboarding punks doing tricks and coming up with different ramp ideas. One guy was literally taking wooden boards and tables trying to create some unique ramp. The Quitters played a decent set that sounded good for the most part and went over well with the audience. 

    Third up on the bill and driving a long way to play was, Modern Enemy. These guys must be really dedicated and passionate about the music to drive all the way from Orange County. When they turned up the volume and tore into their first song the audience started to put the skateboards down and actually mosh. The band’s singer had great stance presence which added the band’s vicious old school hardcore punk sound. Also, they have a solid twin guitar attack and heavy sounding low end. Their bass player even had a cordless bass, so he was frantically running around the stage during songs. One of my favorite songs from them was, “True 300,” which had a very simple straightforward classic punk sound. Towards the end of their set they played some really wicked covers with one being D.O.A.’s “Fuck You.” I truly respect the fact that they drove from far away to rock the Phoenix. Plus, the crowd’s response once they finished their set showed how much the audience appreciated their crushing performance. 

    After three bands and a rather humorous raffle for some of the stuff that they were giving away, the final band started setting up. Elderly Abuse from the East Bay not only has one extreme sounding name, but their stage antics are over the top. The band’s singer acted as if he were just released from solitary confinement and wanted to fight anyone who came near him. He started the set off right in the middle of the venue and welcomed anyone who wanted to come and mosh near him. Well, alcohol and moshing can lead to some interested things and the singer eventually started tackling people. I was really digging the guitarist’s tone and thought the drummer did an amazing job holding down the rhythm during all the chaos in the pit. Just everything kept taking a turn for the worst. People started throwing cans and bottles around the venue like it was a game of dodge ball. Then all of a sudden people were bringing out steal chairs and tables. Once I saw a trash can go flying in the air, I knew the owner was not going to be happy. Sure enough the owner came out turned down their sound and told them to get the hell out. 

Elderly Abuse

    I understand Elderly Abuse wants to have that no limits punk rock attitude, but they should have respected the venue and realized the liability issues of having objects like steal chairs being thrown around. I thought it was hilarious that the singer started shouting, “Fuck the Mystic Theater,” as he left the stage. Luckily the chaotic situation was diffused and some people from the audience even helped pick up the cans and bottles. Punk is all about rebellion and sticking it to the authority, however, the venue that allows you to play your music should be treated with a bit more respect. I would like to hear Elderly Abuse with less chairs, tables and bottles being tossed around, because they didn't sound to bad before all the mayhem broke out.

    Even with the out of control finale, I must say it was an enjoyable evening at the Phoenix Theater. I always love coming to this venue because there are few places around that give bands like this a chance to play. However, some people need to maybe tone down their behavior and think before acting at times. For my usual cheesy closing statement I say...the bands that play this style of music do it for the passion and love of the music, so let's make sure we do our best to support them and also respect the venues where they allow this type of music. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Putrid "The Triumph of Impurity"

    I am quite familiar with the black metal band Putrid and unlike my run-ins with certain black metal groups who I have reviewed in the past, there is no controversy when I have done reviews for Putrid. Coming from Lima, Peru, the band is one of the areas premier extreme acts that is really creating some sinister old school black metal with some gruesome touches of old school death metal. Their full-length release, “The Triumph of Impurity,” once again calls upon the spirits of the dark world to help unleash extreme chaos with each of the album’s ten tracks. 

    Now, after reviewing bands for about four years, the Latin American metal community has offered up some great sounding groups with Putrid being one of them. For some reason their passion for extreme metal music vividly comes out on their recordings and sounds well produced. Unlike some North America metal acts who literally throw some things together so they can go around painting their faces and holding upside down crosses, Putrid puts the work into writing solid sounding songs and then probably focuses on their stage image. It is easy to look black metal, but creating good quality black metal is a whole different story. Also, Putrid incorporates some other extreme elements into their music which I think gives their sound an extra boost of diverse sounding blasphemy. 

    Some of the tracks on here I have already heard since they were on previous EP/demo releases from the band. The opening track, “Alive In Decay,” is from their EP, “Proclaim the Pest,” which I reviewed. However, the sound is noticeably different in my opinion and compared to the earlier more raw sounding recording, the production on this new version sounds more bold and has a very old school death metal style in the presentation. I really like how the drums were recorded which I can say is heard throughout this new album. The blast beats are extremely intense and help push the song into a very dark and morbid sounding world of instrumental expression. The vocals sound louder too with more of a vicious bite at times. Track two, “Desekrator,” is another song that seems to have been given some new life and the intro sounds similar to the intro of Morbid Angel’s, “Chapel of Ghouls.” Putrid of course steers the music into a more primitive and straightforward style of extreme musicianship. 

    Songs like “Unholy Catacombs,” and “Pentamorphic Maze Asylum,” seem to explode into a chaotic sounding wave of blast beats and demonic sounding riff arrangements. You can hear grindcore influences at times, because the music really does burst out of nowhere and maintains a very adrenaline pumping tempo. Track five “Gehenna,” is just over the top double bass pounding and cymbal smashing to where the band is almost drowned out by the drumming. I really liked, “The Morbid Raids,” and “What Preys On These Ruins,” because Putrid develops such an unholy raw sounding tone with the music. Closing the album is the song, “Triumph,” which I remember from one of their previous recordings and I do like the cadaver ripping guitar riff that compliments the tormented sounding growls from the band’s singer. 

    Wrapping up this review, I liked how the songs from previous releases that were put on this album sounded in my opinion more full in sound and were well recorded. I think Putrid put some hard work into, “The Triumph of Impurity,” and they have a lot to build off of for their next release. The extreme music they are creating is nothing that has not been attempted before, but the quality and sound that they have is really impressive. This is some passionate black metal and old school death metal worship which proves that the Peruvian underground metal scene is something more metal fans should be checking out. 

Putrid Facebook Page: 

Gojira "Magma"

    Oh my god! It’s Godzilla! Oh is actually the new album from Gojira that is taking the metal world by storm with its massive sounding guitar arrangements and extremely powerful lyrical content. 

    The French progressive metal masters in Gojira have really raised the bar with their sixth studio release, “Magma.” Over the years one has come to learn that Gojira does not simply reproduce the same exact sounding album. The early days of Gojira are definitely different from this current sound that can be heard on the new album. They have always shown a desire to push themselves as songwriters and it should come as no surprise that, “Magma,” is sort of the pinnacle right now in Gojira’s career. Everything I enjoyed about their last album, “L”Enfant Sauvage,” has evolved into a more focused and determined state of musical expression. Honestly, the songwriting with its almost straight forward progressive hard rock style matched with these monumental metallic elements, allows for the band to dish out brilliant song after song. 

    The music on, "Magma," draws you in right from the first song, “The Shooting Star.” Gojira builds a very atmospheric calm environment that evolves quickly into a massive distorted delivery of crushing emotion. Vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier’s voice echoes with great force over the drum and guitar arrangements. Compared to the first song track number two, “Silvera,” starts off with more aggression and attitude. The vocals have that unforgiving shouting like growl which are then met by a more melodic style at times. I really liked the guitar playing on this track and felt the band created some outstanding riff sections. Track three, “The Cell,” has a very fast tempo intro part that displays the tremendous talents of drummer Mario Duplantier. Again, the music is presented without any restraint and the emotional energy from the song is constantly being unleashed upon the listener. 

    Probably my favorite song on the album and in my opinion the track that helps make this album one of the best releases to come out this year is, “Stranded.” Simply a moving piece of music that contains a simple yet addicting heavy riff and some really memorable lyrical content. My favorite part is when the band is hammering out this angry sounding riff section and you hear Joe shout, “Don’t lock the door on me, you’d kill me face down dead...”, with such raw emotion. 

    At about midway through the album you realize Gojira is not showing any sings of slowing down and the songs continue to offer so much creative diversity. The album’s title track is a very spiritual sounding piece. “Pray,” is a song that starts with a chugging guitar riff that eventually mellows out for a bit until the band unleashes a burst of intense musical fury. Keeping to the raw aggressive tone that was heard on, “Stranded,” the album’s eighth track, “Only Pain,” delivers yet another bold chorus of guitar chord destruction. I liked the song’s raw expression, however, I felt it was not as moving and well composed as, “Stranded.” The last two songs on the album are a strong finish with the six minute piece, “Low Lands,” and then the final acoustic driven instrumental song, “Liberation.” I honestly felt as though the band could have just concluded with, “Low Lands.” To me the instrumental outro did not match up well with the other tracks and did not offer much to the album. 

    Gojira once again has found a way to capture the metal world’s attention with their tremendous recording talents. “Magma,” is an album that some might argue is the album of the year, but we shall see as there is still time for other releases to come out. As stated before, compared to previous Gojira releases, the songwriting and recording on the album is raise to newer heights. For a band who has never settled for a repetitive sounding formula, Gojira maintains their artistic unique standing in the metal world with, “Magma.” 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Concert Review: One Foot In The Grave Tour (July 22, 2016)


    Very rarely do you have such a diverse line-up featuring a selection of extremely talented acts from different areas of the metal spectrum. The One Foot In The Grave tour may have had four bands who sounded different, but they all happened to have undeniable passion for the music while up on stage. Who would have thought to have Carcass, Crowbar, Ghoul and Night Demon on the same bill? Well, it happened and let me tell you what this killer tour package brought to Sacramento. 

    After making the metal pilgrimage from Rohnert Park to Sacramento and getting stuck in the well known I-80 traffic, I finally arrived at Ace of Spades in downtown Sacramento. I was really impressed by the layout of this venue and how the stage was setup. Also, talk about a strong turnout and even before the opener, the crowd was taking up most of the floor space. I had a feeling that with such a diverse line-up that this could draw out all kinds of metal maniacs. Again, whoever put together this tour really did something special and in my opinion a bit rare when it comes to North American tours. 

    Opening the show was Ventura, CA’s very own NWOBHM-style soldiers Night Demon. This would mark my fifth time seeing Night Demon. I can’t believe that about two years ago I saw them playing at a small bar in SF and now they were opening for Carcass. Hard work and dedication can honestly take you places and Night Demon is living proof of that. Starting their set off with some epic cinematic music, the band then proceeded to burst out the song, “Ritual,” from their debut EP. The crowd was really getting into it as bassist/singer Jarvis Leatherby and guitarist Armand John Anthony feverishly played away on stage. Drummer Dusty Squires was pounding away on his kit and the drum parts to songs like, “Curse of the Damned” and “The Chalice,” sounded titanic at times. During, “Curse of the Damned,” the band really invoked the crowd’s inner metal spirit and people were throwing their hands up and rocking out the entire time. The band concluded their set with the self-titled song from their first EP and I was singing along until the last verse. 

Night Demon

    After Night Demon’s highly enjoyable set, Ghoul quickly began setting up for what would be their set of wild splatter thrash music. I saw Ghoul open up for Gwar awhile back and could not wait to hear some wicked riffs and get sprayed with fake blood. The crowd started making more of a push towards the front, because these headbangers in the audience did not seem to care about getting some fake blood on them. The cannibal thrashers from Creepsylvania walked out on stage and proceeded to rip into a crushing song. Also, in between their songs they had some visitors from Creepsylvania who ended up getting hacked up or disemboweled, but no matter what, they sprayed fake blood into the crowd. Ghoul also played some songs off of their new album which I believe comes out later this month. “Shred the Dead” was one of new tracks I really liked and the new material is definitely worth checking out. Cremator and Digestor also have some of the best stage banter and I think they deserve their own talk show. Overall, Ghoul knew how to appease the Ghoulunatics during their set with plenty of thrash and fake blood. 


    The third act of the night would not be spraying any blood into the audience, but instead cranking up the volume with some good old fashion New Orleans sludge. It would be my first time seeing Crowbar live and I could not wait to hear what Kirk Windstein and the other dudes in the band had to offer. Not only does Kirk have the beard of doom, but he has the riffs of doom. From the start of their set the guitar tone was extremely heavy and addicting. You just wanted to keep hearing those slow behemoth sized riffs. I noticed that the band had a good mix of old material from different albums and even threw in some of the new tracks that I personally enjoy like, “Walk With Knowledge Wisely.” Plus, only Crowbar can take a Led Zeppelin song like, “No Quarter,” and turn it into a crushing riff onslaught. The entire band sounded tight throughout their set, which contained killer riffs and planet colliding compositions. 


    Ending the night of diverse and epic metal music was the surgical themed death lords, Carcass, from Liverpool, UK. Talk about an iconic and influential band that has had a brilliant career. Also, after not releasing an album for some time, the band put out what in my opinion was one of the best metal albums of 2013, “Surgical Steel.” Right when they walked on stage, Carcass was given a loud welcome as they tore into the first cut of death metal madness. Jeff Walker is a great frontman and not too shabby of a bass player. Bill Steer played some phenomenal guitar leads and the riffs him and fellow guitarist Ben Ash played were undeniably brutal. Drummer Daniel Wilding is a technical machine behind the kit and gave quite a drum lesson while up on stage. 

    I noticed during their set a few people would shout certain classic songs they wanted to hear, which I honestly get annoyed with at times. The newer material like the song, “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills,” is an amazing song with one hell of a catchy chorus. So, new songs or classics I don’t mind...It all sounds damn good! The band also threw into the set, “Keep on Rotting the Free World,” where they even asked a member from the audience to come up on stage and sing a verse for them. Unfortunately, the first person they picked forgot the words, but they found another person to help them out. To conclude, Carcass put on one crushing set and the Sacramento audience let them know how much they appreciated the band by making endless noise until the last note faded. 


    By the end of the night I was pretty tired along with most of the people in the crowd. There may have been only four bands, but the energy coming from the stage was never ending. I must say that The One Foot in The Grave tour is something I would like to see more often. You had old school classic NWOBHM from Night Demon, splatter thrash from Ghoul, massive sized sludge riffs from Crowbar and feverish surgical death metal from Carcass...if anyone could not find something enjoyable to take away from that line-up, they deserve to get a foot in the rear end and fall right down into a grave. There may have been a difference in sound and style, but what these bands showed was that it is the passion for heavy metal that can make for one evening of great metal music.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Stone Kings "From Creation to Devastation"

    After being sent what seems like a lot of black metal lately (I still have yet to figure out why...), I am finally getting a chance to check out what the world of hard rock has to offer this year. Coming from the UK, Stone Kings packs a hard rock punch to the jaw with a slight metal under cut that mostly contains stoner rock and subtle doom touches. This band is jumping out into a sea of countless acts who play a similar style of music. Some groups are able to standout by having great songwriting skills and a truly heavy recording sound, while others drown in the waters of boring repetitious sounding hard rock that calls itself doom or stoner rock. Call it want you want, but if it does not sound engaging and interesting, I am not buying it! 

    Now, Stone Kings has twelve tracks on their full-length release, “From Creation to Devastation,” so you get plenty of opportunities to check out what these dudes have to offer. In my opinion, bands similar to Stone Kings that I have reviewed tend to write the same sounding tracks over and over again to where the entire album is pretty much based off of the same riff. There were a few songs I felt sounded repetitive, but overall you get a fair amount of unique sounding tracks. 

    The album opens with the distortion blasting instrumental track, “Creation,” that also contains this mellow vibe at times. It sort of reminded me of old Alice in Chains where you have that balance between heavy and soothing. Song number two, “Far Out,” has a very basic sound, but is written in a catchy manner. Again, I hear a lot of nineties hard rock influence, especially in the vocal delivery. The band sounds tight during the song and the guitar solo added a nice little kick. Track three, “Head Shot,” builds up with a crushing drum and guitar section that I quite enjoyed. The lyrical content and chorus section were a bit lack luster, but the guitar riff helped boost the song’s energy with a fierce tone. “Out Cast,” the following track, uses that strange vocal effect that sounds like the singer is singing through a megaphone. Honestly, the song was just a continuation of what you heard on the previous song. 

    I think track five, “Krokodil,” was where the band really got me tapping my foot to the bluesy hard rock/doom sound. The guitar player throws in a mean sounding solo of note ripping aggression. As I stated earlier, you get a little more than just the same type of tracks on this release and song number six, “Time Out,” is without question the one that I think stands out the most. The song features an acoustic guitar riff mixed with a more solemn and melancholy vibe. Powerful lyrical content also provides a deep message for listeners to take away. The next track, “Full Throttle,” returns straight back to the more grooving hard rock sound. Two tracks that also caught my attention towards the end were, “In My Place,” and the thunderous instrumental outro, “Devastation.” Both well written songs that contain these explosive moments of tire slashing riffs and glass shattering cymbal hits. 

    Overall, Stone Kings maintains a strong identity throughout this album, even if the music wasn’t exactly clicking with me. I did find moments where the music was not anything new to my ears, but I will acknowledge that there are tracks which help push this band towards the front of the modern hard rock line. For hard rock standards these guys are not bad, however, I think there is more to be done and if they keep pouring their hearts and souls into recording more music, who knows what they might be capable of doing? I will say that the talent is there and this release is definitely worth checking out. 

Stone Kings Facebook Page: 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Interview with Jacob Lizotte from Feign

With the release of his first full-length album, “Atlas,” due out later this month, Jacob Lizotte the mastermind behind the band, Feign, was kind enough to take the time and answer some questions I had for him. This one-man band combines atmospheric black metal and melodic death metal to create one unique and enjoyable listening experience. You can find a link to my review of, “Atlas,” at the end of this interview. 

Hi there Jacob! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Also, congratulations on your first full-length release, “Atlas.” How does it feel to have a full-length album out and available for people to check out?

Jacob: It feels mighty fine.

Now I reviewed, “Into the Void” last year and have heard some of the songs from “Lost to Eternity,” and I really enjoy those recordings, especially the songs on, “Into the Void.” What did you learn from those releases that might have helped influence you when writing and recording, “Atlas?”

Jacob: I liked the demos but I hadn’t fully captured the essence of how I wanted Feign to sound until now. The sound will continue to evolve, but now I feel as if it’s really established itself.

Production quality is extremely important and it can truly make or break an album in my opinion. How you do feel about the album’s production quality? Also, can you maybe talk about where you recorded the album and briefly go through the process?

Jacob: It gives the exact vibe that I wanted it to give. I wouldn’t change any aspect of the production, I want it to sound a bit old and weathered but while conveying a certain amount of clarity and allowing all of the layers to stay audible. I recorded it in my bedroom with an SM57.

I feel there are a lot of solid tracks on this release to where I would have a hard time picking out a favorite. Is there a song on the album you feel most proud of writing, or are there maybe a few tracks you think really standout?

Jacob: I like the title track a lot, mostly because it’s like an entire beast in its own. The title track was written last summer and it took me by far the longest it’s ever taken for me to write a single song. I’m proud of it, I think it’s sort of a good “overview” of the album and ends it on a good note. Other than that, I really like “…A Visitor” and I will definitely be exploring more emotional and melodic ideas like that in future releases.

As much as I hear atmospheric black metal in your music, I also hear a variety of other unique sounding musical elements at times. I was wondering if you could talk about some of the bands who influenced you growing up and maybe inspired you to write your own music? 

Jacob: I could give you a list of super obscure black metal bands to sound musically savvy, or I could be honest and tell you what really influenced me and potentially shift the way you see or hear the music. Feign is more influenced by melodic death metal then anything. I grew up listening to a ton of In Flames, Metallica, At The Gates, Soilwork and even Killswitch Engage. You get the point, I love all forms of music and appreciate all forms of metal and music. In my mind Feign is early In Flames with blast beats, high screams and a heavier emphasis on atmosphere and progressive elements. I love Black Metal and everything but it’s not where my heart lies completely by any means.

Not only do I find the instrumental compositions to be extremely creative, but the lyrics on this album also seem to convey great imagination. I was wondering, where do you look for lyrical inspiration and maybe talk about the lyrical origins for some of these songs?

Jacob: I’m not really sure. I sort’ve just try and use imagery and metaphors to convey certain ideas about society, relationships and even my own personal thoughts. It’s not THAT well thought out, to be honest, it’s just as thought as the music itself.

Are you interested in getting other musicians to come in and play with you in Feign, or do you want to keep this a one-man band? Also, are you interested in having Feign play live shows at some point?

Jacob: I wouldn’t mind collaborating but I’m sure I’d be hard to work with at this point, after years and years of creating music on my own. Playing shows would be neat but again, I don’t know anyone that plays instruments and I don’t mind doing it solo. If you know anyone who can play drums or something have them give me a shoutout.

I know this might be a bit early since, “Atlas,” is just being released, but is there already another potential album in the works? Will there be more creative atmospheric extreme sounding music in the future listeners can except from Feign? If this is top secret classified information I understand you might not be able to give the readers the full details, but maybe subtle hints might be sufficient...

Jacob: It’s top secret. Only 3 people in the known world possess such highly volatile information, and will be shot on command if they utter any word or phrase that hints at its existence. Kidding! Yeah, I mean I’ve actually recently been working on newer stuff and it’s been super fun. I’ve enjoyed writing for Feign now more than ever, the sound is expanding and I’m drawing on new elements, as well as other cool things going on. It should be fun to see how the newer music will compare to Atlas and such. I’m thinking about bringing in some electronic elements and maybe more thrashy/death metal type stuff just lingering in there. But of course the sole sound will stay and there will be moments of “classic Feign” sprinkled all over it. It’ll be like an ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles!

Well, congratulations once again and I truly believe your hard work has paid off, because “Atlas” is definitely an album that I highly recommend people check out. Can’t wait for what Feign has to offer up next! Cheers! \m/

Jacob: Thanks mate. Hold up them devil horns for me! I appreciate the interview!

Link to Review of "Atlas":

Link to Feign Facebook Page: 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Karcavul "Intersaone"

    Hailing from the unforgiving darkness somewhere in Lyon, France, Karcavul digs deep into the sludgy nightmarish depths of society and unearths a tomb of relentless extreme music. While listening to this three song release called, "Intersaone," I found myself lost in the music and overcome by this frozen feeling of terror and enjoyment. 

     Karcavul is not an easy group to categorize, which I think plays to their advantage when making music. I hear sludge metal along with some old school death metal and even black metal elements. The band’s tone and presentation at times reminded me of Noothgrush and Eyehategod where the music could serve as the theme song for the fall of humanity. Still, compared to the two groups I just mentioned, Karcavul is very diverse sounding on this release. 

     No matter how you want to describe them, the atmosphere created by the band when recording these three songs fringes on the edge of human sanity. The opening track, “Mangepierres,” is quite bizarre with these inhuman noises in the background and then some guy comes in speaking calmly in French. Once the audio clips fade out the band starts pounding away at a blackened riff that eventually slows down for a thick sludgy part. As the drums feverishly smash at the cymbals the guitar creates a haunting landscape. The vocals really capture the song’s tone by crying out in agony over the harsh noise. 

    The band displays some dynamic songwriting skills and the second track, “Illuminashichs,” definitely starts out more sludgy and creates this fear in the back of the mind as if something wicked is coming towards you in slow motion. The band sort of returns to the more quickened paced black and death metal approach, but towards the end fades out with a doom like riff section. How do you make this type of music more distributing? Add the sounds of children screaming in complete terror as the guitar pounds away creating powerful waves of distortion. I think the final song, “Crackleurres,” perfectly closed the books on this horrific musical journey. Once again the band tears through heavy sounding riffs that range from sludge to death and builds a gruesome atmosphere. 

    In the end, Karcavul is following in the footsteps of all those other extreme bands who write music that crosses over into the bleak and sinister side of the human mind. Their musicianship was rather solid and I think my only complaint is that the vocals could have been recorded louder at times. Other than that, this is an album that I strongly recommend for fans of extreme and haunting music. Actually, I want to see Karcavul’s music played at a high school dance...the looks of fear on those students’ faces would be priceless...

Karcavul "Illuminashichs" :

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Warfather "The Grey Eminence"

    Last year it was confirmed that Steve Tucker would be returning to Morbid Angel and will be appearing on the band’s next album whenever that is to be released. This year his other band, Warfather, will be releasing a new album in September. One can say that Steve Tucker is keeping quite busy in the extreme music making world these days. 

    Set for release September 16th, “The Grey Eminence,” is the band’s follow up to their debut release, “Orchestrating the Apocalypse.” I think what helps Warfather stand out amongst the endless sea of similar death metal acts is the production quality on, “The Grey Eminence.” To have a strong sounding album, one needs an exceptional producer in the studio. I was not surprised to see that Erik Rutan, guitarist and singer for Hate Eternal and ex-Morbid Angel guitarist, was the album’s producer. The recording quality throughout the album definitely maintains a solid presence to where the music never loses its aggressive and sharp edge. I especially liked how the guitars were recorded which I believe listeners will notice right away. Also, the drums are recorded exceptionally well to where the intense blast beats deliver that destructive feeling as if the walls around you are crumbling to the ground. 

    Songwriting is another area on the album that I believe deserves major credit. Yes, the lyrical themes are rather similar to your usual death metal lyrical content about war and how our society is on the verge of collapsing due to the morons who run it. However, the delivery matched with the instrumental compositions adds great emphasis to the lyrics. Again, the songwriting is simply solid on the album and right from the opening track, “Orders of the Horde,” you feel drawn into this massive world of non-stop brutality and musically insanity. The riffs can be extremely quick at times and then slow down for those sinister pinch harmonic breaks like on the song, “Heedless Servant.” That is something I felt sounded similar to Tucker’s time in Morbid Angel, because those slower and dark sounding moments reminded me of certain songs on Morbid Angel’s, “Gateways to Annihilation.” Tracks like, “Headless Men Can No Longer Speak,” and “For Glory or Infamy,” are faster and feature some insane technical moments. 

    When going through each song I noticed how the band sounds really tight and the music is exciting until the final song, “Fair and Final Warning.” Probably my favorite song on the album, "Fair and Final Warning," begins with a ripping note screaming guitar solo that turns into a crushing attack of old school sounding death metal. I felt like this song had all the right elements and once again reminded me of Steve and Erik's days in Morbid Angel. I tended to prefer the songs on the album that had the more old school quality, which luckily happens to be most of them.  

    Warfather’s, “The Grey Eminence,” is full of solid death metal music that one can expect on each of the album’s nine tracks. I think the veteran death metal presence that was involved in the creation of this album, helped maintain that consistent sound. Both Erik Rutan and Steve Tucker know a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t work, so I am not surprised that this release sounds strong from start to finish. I really hope that some of the parts I liked on this album find their way onto the new Morbid Angel release. Warfather did a great job with this sophomore release and I recommend the album for fans of death metal that hits hard and leaves a trail of massive devastation behind. 

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Eldamar "The Force of the Ancient Land"

    Sometimes music can have such a powerful connection to where it unlocks the door to the listener’s inner imagination. There are very few albums that I have felt deeply awaken by, however, Eldamar’s, “The Force of the Ancient Land,” is a true atmospheric and ambient black metal gem.  

    Released earlier this year, Eldamar’s first full-length release is filled with captivating musical landscapes that contain massive sounding atmospheres and mesmerizing moments of ambience. Each song is composed with great attention to detail and the tracks flow as if guided by some spiritual force. I was quite surprised to find out that only one person was behind the creation of this music. The music is so majestic that you would think that multiple people were involved. 

    Overall, Eldamar presents an almost cinematic sounding release that I personally felt gave me the opportunity to create my own mental pictures to fit the music’s emotional tone. Listeners will notice that the music goes through constant tempo changes and that there are climatic moments of atmospheric grandeur. The opening song, “Spirit of the North,” is a long dynamic piece full of endless sounding wonder. There is a soothing keyboard board intro that is met by a distorted guitar riff and haunting black metal growl. Eventually the music turns towards this triumph chorus like section that coexists with the harsh growls. The balance of melodic moments and grim ambience creates a striking contrast, which only propels the music into more epic and powerful sounding atmospheres. The following track, “Winter Night,” really utilizes the keyboard’s ability to establish a solid backbone for the song. From there the black metal vocals and guitar parts seep into the music like snow falling through the trees of a forest. 

    Track number three, “Travel in Woods,” is very pleasant sounding and a brief departure from the longer songs that contain those distorted guitar riffs and echoes of growling agony. “From Life to Spirit,” once again returns to the powerful contrast of what was heard on the first two songs. I do notice the band has some similarities to groups such as Summoning and Lustre, especially in the keyboard arrangements and composition approach. Unlike Summoning though Eldamar does not use lyrics to narrate the album's themes and compared to Lustre I found Eldamar’s use of the female vocal parts to inject more triumphant emotion into the music. Still, I do hear the similarities between Eldamar and other atmospheric/ambient black metal bands, but there are without question distinct areas where this band is going in a slightly different direction. 

    The second half of the album maintains much of what the first half had to offer, but there are moments of noticeable difference in certain parts. “Valkyrjur Ancient One,” contains the sounds of wind blowing with a solemn ambient synth tone in the background. Right after track number six, “The Border of Eldamar,” commences with some vibrant sounding chords to usher in one of the album’s most enjoyable tracks. I found the cinematic vibe to be most strong on this song and the xylophone like synth and keyboard riffs are a main driving force. As the wordless female vocals soar over the guitars and keyboards, the black metal growl cries out as if wishing to drown out the more melodic sounds. At the end of the song, there is an epic build up of the contrasting elements that heightens the song’s overall tone. Track seven, “GalaĆ°wen The Eldar,” is a very relaxing piece while the final song on the album, “New Beginning,” is yet another return to the same musical structures that were used before. I personally felt like, “The Border of Eldamar,” could have been the final song on the album since that track was extremely impactful, but, “New Beginning,” was still a decent final song. 

    Some listeners might consider Eldamar’s, “The Force of the Ancient Land,” to be repetitious, but I felt that when listening to each song there was always something that kept me engaged. For example, the changing of tempos and emotional tones along with contrasting sounds made listening to the album exciting until the very end. I do believe those who appreciate atmospheric and ambient black metal will instantly be hooked by Eldamar’s music. This is already an album I believe could be my album of the year since the release has so much replay value. Seriously, check it out now! 

Eldamar "Spirit of the North" : 

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