Saturday, January 28, 2017

Review: “Eldamar / Dreams of Nature”




  I was quite pleased to see Eldamar and Dreams of Nature teaming up for this brilliant split to kick off 2017. Also, the split is being released through one of my favorite labels, Northern Silence Productions. Although there are only two songs total on the release, I must say that the quality of the music is well worth the purchase and both acts skillfully demonstrate their atmospheric black metal talents.

In my opinion, what makes this release extremely special is that these two artists know how to compose captivating pieces of atmospheric black metal. Eldamar and Dreams of Nature have been releasing some high quality material within the last couple years. Eldamar’s debut album, “The Force of the Ancient Land,” came out last year along with Dreams of Nature’s, “Magic Transcendence,” which was the follow-up to the band’s 2015 highly acclaimed release, “Spirit of Nature.”

  Eldamar starts the split off with the track, “Hagalaz.” In the background rain can be heard falling down as the synth and drums slowly builds up to create an epic sounding main verse section. I like how Eldamar uses the guitar to be a main driving force in their music instead of turning down the volume and making it simply background noise. The recording of each instrument is perfectly executed along with the vocals. Faint echoes of black metal growls contrast with vibrant melodic choir like vocals to create a constantly evolving musical landscape. The dynamic songwriting skills of Eldamar throughout the song allows you to become lost in this magnificent world of atmospheric black metal. Sometimes I forget the song is around eleven minutes, because my attention is solely focused on each note and each sound.

  Dreams of Nature’s song, “Eternal Twilight,” is also a very exceptionally written track with vocals provided by Lord Valke from Svarte. I like the arrangements and how the music will fade out for a bit and then return in a triumphant sounding manner. The drum parts during the track really standout, especially when the music’s tempo becomes faster like towards the end of the song. Compared to Eldamar, the vocals during this song take on a different quality, because the style used is more in the vein of your traditional style black metal vocals. Overall, you get a great track from Dreams of Nature after hearing a great track from Eldamar.

  I think 2017 is shaping up to be a great year for metal music and this split featuring Eldamar and Dreams of Nature is helping to validate my claim. I encourage both bands to keep up their phenomenal songwriting skills as both of them are becoming such respected acts in the world of atmospheric black metal. The work ethic and dedication that went into this release is truly special, so I highly recommend everyone who is reading this review to check out the split right away.



Click on the link to listen to the full split:




Eldamar Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/eldamarnorway/

Dreams of Nature Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/dreamsofnature1/

Northern Silence Productions:
https://www.facebook.com/NorthernSilenceProductions/

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Battalions "Nothing to Lose"




    Heavy might be an understatement at times when describing the sound that Battalions has to offer listeners on their eight song debut full-length release, “Nothing to Lose.” The band’s music is like a juggernaut of terrorizing distortion destroying a helpless village of disco and rap fans.

    Based out of the United Kingdom, Battalions is yet another sludge/doom metal band throwing their axe into the arena and trying to get their music heard amongst the global metal community. I swear there are a lot of sludge and doom bands coming out these days trying to be like the next Eyehategod, or the next Crowbar. To me it really depends on how the band is able to standout from the usual suspects with their songwriting skills, musicianship and overall musical delivery.

    So, does Battalions give us a release that breaks away from the other simplistic and mundane sludge acts? Well, I would say yes for the most part and the reason being that the band writes some catchy doom riffs that convey a killer classic seventies hard rock groove sound. You get a balance of extreme sounding sludge with a mix of more classic doom metal style. The singer’s vocals are a strong part of the album and I like the way that they were recorded. Some bands go for that overly tortured raw sound to where the singer is literally just screaming his lungs out without making any impact. Again, some bands need to stop trying to be Eyehategod and focus on doing their own thing like what Battalions singer is doing.

    Songwriting is an important factor for me when reviewing and Battalions does know how to write some angry sounding tunes. The drummer, two guitar players and bassist come up with some solid tracks full of riffs that can be intense while at the same time very catchy. The opening track, “A Coward’s Manifesto,” contains these monstrous guitar parts and the vocals set the stage for some unforgiving sounding lyrics. I think this was the best song to start off the album, because it happend to be my favorite track off of the album.

    Other songs to mention are “You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Sons and Your Souls,” “Whiskey and Wine,” and “Shitstorm Troopers.” I thought the other songs were decent, but these were some that just stuck with me after listening to the album. “Whiskey and Wine,” has some wicked sounding riffs that you can bang your head along to while taking shots of whiskey...just watch out as you might fall over once the song is finished and end up on the roof of your house.

    Closing up this review, I think it is safe to say that Battalions did alright for their first album. Of course, I hope to hear the band continue to push themselves as songwriters and keep hammering out more extreme sludge riffs that hit the listener right in the chest. Sometimes people want something not too technical and progressive, so if you desire a mean sounding riff with some pissed off sounding vocals...I recommend Battalions.

Battalions "A Coward's Manifesto" :


Battalions Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/BattalionsSludge

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ranking: Summoning's Full-length Albums




Summoning is without question one of the most iconic atmospheric black metal bands in the world. They have taken the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and crafted some of the most brilliant sounding songs that allow listeners to visits Middle-Earth on each release. So, I decided to rank their seven full-length albums in order from my favorite to my least favorite. Here they are... 

1. Oath Bound - The song, “Land of the Dead,” alone is pretty much why this is my favorite Summoning album. That track has some amazing guitar parts and the production is flawless. Also, the main choir part injects such powerful emotion into the song. Also, I always felt like the band took atmospheric black metal into an even more triumphant and captivating direction. The album’s distant sounding guitar riffs and long epic synth arrangements serve as the perfect score to accompany the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Plus the lyrics for, “Mirdautas Vras,” are written in the Black Speech of Mordor...now how many bands can do that!



2. Minas Morgul - The Witch-king of Angmar would approve on this Summoning release. A lot of fans consider this to be the band’s best album and it is the album that establishes Summoning as a major influence in the world of atmospheric black metal. “Minas Morgul,” is such a great release and contains tremendous songs like, “Marching Homewards,” Through the Forest of Dol Guldur,” “The Passing of the Grey Company,” and “Morthond.” The instrumental compositions are flawless while the vocals provide such haunting and sinister narration.



3. Lugburz - For their first album Summoning went for a more harsh and traditional style of black metal. I definitely hear influences like Burzum and Darkthrone, especially in the album’s production. There are moments where one might notice Summoning incorporating classical and atmospheric elements that become part of the band’s signature sound on future releases. I still think even though it does not fit the signature Summoning sound, the album is really well written for the style of black metal they were going for at the time.



4. Stronghold - Here is where Summoning started to add more melodic vocals and grand choruses that continue to be heard on the following Summoning releases. Once again, the long epic pieces are well written and tell magnificent stories that bring the works of Tolkien alive in the imaginations of listeners. Another area that makes this a solid release is the guitar riffs. “Long Lost to Where no Pathway Goes,” has a soothing melodic structure that opens the mind to a world of atmospheric splendor.



5. Dol Guldur - Sort of a continuation from what was being done on “Minas Morgul,” but I think the album has its own unique identity. I really enjoy the song, “Nightshade Forests,” which is my favorite track off the album. I have always felt like I needed to listen to it more, because this was at one time my least favorite Summoning release. However, since I have been going back to it more I have noticed it moving up and starting to grow on me. I think the balance of harsh sounding black metal elements and melodic structures is really what draws me to the album.



6. Old Mornings Dawn - Their most recent release to date that came out in 2013, “Old Mornings Dawn,” was a welcoming release after the band had not released a full-length album since 2006’s “Oath Bound.” They continued to write long epic songs like the album’s magnificent title track. Once again the band creates magnificent cinematic atmospheric black metal music full of fantastic sounding landscapes. As much as I enjoyed the album, I was hoping for the vocals to return to the raw sound on Minas Morgul. Still, those grand choruses are quite enjoyable and add a triumphant touch when needed.



7. Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame - Just because this is my least favorite Summoning album, does not mean it is a worthless release. Quite the opposite! I enjoy “Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame,” but think the other albums just standout a bit more. “Farewell,” is a really good song which I think contains a great choir section with some epic lyrics. I consider it to be the rough draft for what they were going to do on, “Oath Bound.”Still, I think this is a solid release and one that people should not dismiss.



Well, there is my ranking of the seven full-length Summoning albums. I decided to leave demos and EPs off because that would be an even longer article. If you want to provide your ranking of Summoning’s full-length releases, please do so in the comments section below. 

"Upon the plain, there rushed forth and high
Shadows at dead end of night and mirrored in the sky

Far far away beyond might of day
And there lay the land of the dead of mortal cold decay"
-Summoning "Land of the Dead" 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

X-Method Album Release Show


X-Method

    Saturday night outside the Phoenix Theater may have been crappy with all the wind and rain, but inside the historic Petaluma venue was a joyous skull crushing metal show to celebrate the release of X-Method’s new album. The punk and metal maniacs who showed up proved that a little rain wasn’t going to prevent them from having a good time.

    Release shows are always fun, especially for the band who is putting out their new album. Plus, you also have some solid supporting bands like the ones who opened for X-Method. The Publiquors, To Kill a MockingBird and Thought Vomit definitely added something extra to the release show by putting on strong performances. Walking into the venue you could feel the positive energy all around and once the first band turned on their amps, people made their way to the front of the stage with full enthusiasm.

The Publiquors

    Opening the show was, The Publiquors, a punk rock trio from Sonoma County. Their songs definitely had that classic punk rock sound that captures the essence of punk from the seventies and early eighties. Also, the band had a tight sound and breezed through their songs without any problems. I could tell the crowd really appreciated the band’s music as people were jumping around and banging their heads. One song towards the end of their set called, “Army of Darkness,” contained a riff that sounded a bit similar to Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Not saying there is anything wrong with that since it added something different, but Lars might throw a small tantrum over it. Don’t worry, just have his butler give him a glass of warm milk and cookies and he will calm down.

To Kill a MockingBird

    After the Publiquors finished the second band began setting up to begin their set. Hailing from Modesto, CA, To Kill a MockingBird takes their name from that famous book that was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck and at the time a young Robert Duvall. Enough about the book and the movie, let us talk about the band and their performance. To Kill a MockingBird played a style of hard rock and metal that seemed to be very emotionally driven. I will be honest and say that the sound was not exactly something I tend to listen to very often, especially the type of riffs they were offering. However, I will give credit to the band for putting on what seemed like a solid set. The band’s singer really stole the show at times by having tremendous stage presence.

Thought Vomit

    Following To KlIl a MockingBird was Thought Vomit, a group I am quite familiar with since I have been writing about these guys for about over a year now. Thought Vomit is one Sonoma County’s hardest working live bands and these guys know how to put on an exciting show. Since seeing them last for their album release show, I was anticipating another electrifying performance. The band definitely mixed up their set with some old material and then some songs from their most recent release, “Punks Brutal Retaliation/Sync the Skies.” It was great to hear my favorite song, “Glad to Lose,” and the bass parts during that song always seem to stand out the most. Guitarist Chris Meyer played some some wicked solos, while drummer Clay Prieto and bassist Jordie Hilley held down the rhythm section. Even though singer Spencer Clark claimed to be feeling like, “dog shit,” he put on a energetic performance and was running around the crowd screaming his head off. During their performance Abby from X-Method came out to sing, “Punks Brutal Retaliation,” which showed the strong friendship between the two bands.

X-Method

    Once Thought Vomit finished and after people took a minute to catch their breath, X-Method started their massive sounding metal assault. I had reviewed the new X-Method album for this blog, so it was nice to hear how the songs sounded live. I will say this about X-Method, they have undeniable passion for metal music which you can hear and see when they play live. I also like how the band has songs where the crowd can sing along. For example, the song “Brutal as Fuck,” has a simple chorus that is easy to learn. You simply repeat the words, “Brutal as Fuck!” The band also played crushing Sepultura cover and I notice that is one group I hear often in X-Method’s sound. All around the band seemed to be playing at the top of their game and each member was on the same page. For their release show you could notice the excitement and enthusiasm from the band which of course resonated with the audience.

    In the end, bad weather could not stop the metal mayhem from being unleashed at the Phoenix Theater. Another solid night of music from the punk and metal community. Congratulations to X-Method on the release of their new album and hope to see all these bands continue to destroy live in the future.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Antifa: The New Fascists and New Enemies of Rob “The Metal Guy”


Graveland "Thousand Swords"

    I guess you could say I am late pertaining to the whole Graveland and Messe Des Morts music festival situation, however, after seeing some more anti-fascist activity that in my opinion looks pretty darn close to actual fascist tactics, I am finally expressing my thoughts on the subject. If we can all be honest with ourselves, throwing rocks and resorting to terror like tactics to shutdown a concert because one band is accused of having a certain point of view, comes across as more fascist than anti-fascist.

    Since the Graveland show cancelation in Canada has past, I will try not to dwell too much on it, but the main points of the situation should be discussed. If you do not know what happened here is the quick rundown: Graveland is a Polish black metal band that has been labeled a national socialist black metal band(NSBM), which is false since the band constantly denounces any affiliation with NSBM, so people need to get over this false narrative. A bunch of Canadian Antifa(anti-fascist psychos) protestors used their terrorist like tactics to shutdown an entire black metal festival the band was playing at, and screwed over fans who paid money to see some good black metal acts perform that night. In the end, their actions were childish and Graveland was not going to put on a pro-Nazi performance like those Antifa jerks claimed would happen.

    See, I am worried that this is not just a metal related issue, but a societal one. I am not afraid if I lose readers over this piece, because I honestly think that I am speaking from my heart. Racism is wrong and supporting Nazi ideology is wrong, but you can’t go around covering your faces and throwing objects to silence others for having an extreme point of view. In this world you have to deal with different points of view no matter how silly or outrageous they might be to you. Using aggressive force to silence them is no different than what the Nazi party did when Hitler was around. Also, to reference the Graveland case again, we can point out how the protestors were acting on false information about the band being NSBM. Now that is scary, because people are jumping to action without knowing the entire facts!

    Again, I worry about how the metal community and society will be able to move forward if people are going to be running around acting like the gestapo because one band is “accused” of having a certain extreme point of view. If a band actually advocates for the physical harm of a group of people, I can see where that is serious matter that should be looked into right away. However, that is not what happened with the Graveland situation and most of the Antifa incidents involve the anti-fascist protestors doing most of the physical harm.

    In conclusion, I am a fan of Graveland and will not stop supporting them because some Antifa whack jobs believe they are a racist band. If you want to believe the false narrative of them being NSBM, you can choose not to support them. One day I would like to see everyone put on their big boy/girl pants and just do what they want to as long as it does not physically hurt someone else. Now, go listen to Graveland my people!...or write a comment insulting me. Either way, you have the freewill and option to do so.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Omnizide "NekroRegime"




  Sweden is a country where extreme music continues to thrive and the number of bands with great releases is endless. Omnizide is yet another band from Sweden with extreme metal talents that will impress hordes of metal listeners from around the world.

  For their sophomore full-length release titled, “NekroRegime,” the band summons up an unholy assault of black metal and old school death metal. The vocals and riffs definitely fall along the lines of black metal, however, there are sections during some songs that give off that crushing old school Swedish death metal vibe. Overall, the album’s dark and brutal atmosphere will freeze the hearts of listeners and inspire headbanging lunatics to unleash their inner aggression.

  The opening track, “Himmelstrasse (330ft),” sets the tone for the album and builds up anticipation with rapid snare drum strikes and the tolling of bells. Omnizide constructs a horrifying blackened riff that is accompanied by some gruesome growls from the band’s singer. The musicianship from each member is quite impressive and the songwriting is solid throughout the album. Haunting minor chord driven songs like, “Walls of Flesh,” and “Doomsday Revelations,” remind us what black/death metal music is all about...delivering musical chaos without remorse. I like how this band puts their foot on the gas pedal and keeps hammering out extreme song after extreme song. There is consistency, yet the songs never become boring or lackluster.

  Out of the nine song featured on this album, I find it hard to pick a favorite, so I will name off a few tracks that I think standout. “The Return of the Loving Dead,” is a vicious sounding assault of raw black metal energy. The song, “Death Womb,” has a sinister and catchy main riff which reminds me of something you would hear from Darkthrone. Lastly, “Devil in Me,” is a killer piece of blackened sounding terror that covers the musical landscape in frozen darkness with plenty of haunting guitar moments.

  In the end, Omnizide wrote a consistent sounding release that I thought offered a well crafted sound of black metal with a little old school death metal. I can see some people finding this album to be nothing new in the world of extreme music, but I think the band’s musicianship along with the album’s overall production, helps to make this a solid release. It is definitely worth checking out if you like black metal and old school Swedish death metal, or if you want a soundtrack for when you go walking through the woods at night under a full moon. Just remember to not pet the wolves, because they will eat you.



Omnizide "NekroRegime" :


Omnizide Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/omnizide/