Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine [2012]

Here is a release that comes, as no surprise to most of their long time fans, as simply incredible! No one should expect any less from these experienced black metallers. Silencing Machine was released recently on July 31st on Century Media Records. This is an album that has tons of replay value, and takes you through a series of vast emotions, most of them very dark, if you didn't already know! They accomplish this through their very accomplished musicianship, and with the way the whole songs come together. They are also able to mix influences without mixing genres. It is all these things that make this album stand out!

The cover art of this beastly bastard describes the feeling of the album perfectly. It is dark but not in a way that makes you want to kill yourself. It is more of "I can feel the power of evil making me stronger" thing. The album starts out with fast paced black metal excellence, that transitions into an upbeat version of the riff that ties into the evil power for-mentioned. The songs also seem to move between one another very well, not jumping from one thing to another too often. Track number 4 is a very stand out track that keeps the dark feeling but at the same time making you want to conquer. Truly amazing stuff in every track that makes it come together as a whole.

Aside from the genius guitar work presented one of the stand out qualities that shows influence (without changing the genre). Take the title track for example, at 4:38 there is a stellar guitar break that busts into an upbeat riff that really makes you want to head bang and get up and mosh! But at the same time they never loose the black metal character. About midway through that gnarly riffing there is a guitar lead that will just make you want to pull your face off.

This is a solid release and there isn't really anything that takes away from being a flawless release. That is very opinionated, but when looking for an excellent black metal release this has everything to offer. Please don't pass up on this! They will be announcing tour dates soon! Check them out anyway you can!


Favorite Tracks: Dawn Over the Ruins in Jerusalem, Silencing Machine, I Wait in Hell, These Rooms In Which We Weep

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ashencult - Black Flame Gnosis [2012]

It’s funny when you lower your expectations of new releases so much that when you hear something that’s actually good, it blows your mind. Ashencult break that scale altogether. A relatively knew band, originating from Philly, PA, they released their debut album Black Flame Gnosis on May 31 of this year. This four-piece black metal band whose members go simply by initials, it’s quite clear, aren’t shy in demonstrating their love for melodic black metal titans Dissection. Not only the similar riffing, but small things like the occasional acoustic intro/outro or even some of the drum fills make this similarity especially evident. Notwithstanding that this style of melodic black metal is by no means original, one would be hard pressed to find a band better imitating it today; and that’s not to say that this album is a complete rip-off, either; no, Ashencult incorporate their own little preferences into their music, be it a black/thrash break or even some punky tendencies here and there.

The most astonishing song on this album is easily “Dark Law/Black Fires of Chaos,” which starts off with an acoustic intro, transitioning into some of the best melodic black metal riffing to be heard in the foreseeable future; and it’s hard not to feel an incredible urge to pound your fists and head over and over once the drums come in to push the song fully forward. There’s no doubt as to the riffs being the best part of this album; they dominate it, flooding songs with sundry and varied (almost perfectly varied, it should be said) sharp black metal riffing, tremolo bursts and black/thrash breaks being thrown left and right. And I reiterate--the variation on this album is perfect. One moment a melodic riff is played, the next you’re pounded on by a groovy black/thrash riff (“A Glorious Elegy” has an especially good one). It keeps things interesting. But the rest of the instruments, including the vocals, are near-equally deserving of strong accolades. The powerful drumming does a lot for the music, the drummer of whom seems to have a strong penchant for striking as powerfully as possible; definitely a pro. And the violent and aggressive vocals shriek and growl in both high and low tones; reminding one, perhaps, of the singer of Bethlehem mixed in with a lot of Dissection, but kicked up a thousand notches. These ear-piercing shrieks are especially apparent in the melodic points of “Plague Revelation.”

This album has so many riffs that it's hard to be sure when one song ends and another one begins. Ashencult by far exceed most of the black metal bands releasing material today. Why those bands are signed and Ashencult aren’t, I will never know. But it’s more than obvious that these black metal fanatics probably won’t ever disappoint with future releases, and in that there’s some comfort to be found. Black Flame Gnosis has just placed itself as my favorite black metal album yet of 2012. No doubt once more people hear of them, they’ll fill the same position for them as well. Who knows what other bands are currently recording in their studios, about to release the next best album of 2012? I lie in wait. But until then, it would be a wise move to keep a close eye out for Ashencult.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deathspell Omega - Drought [2012]

For those few people still ignorant of their existence, Deathspell Omega of France are a three-piece black metal/avant-garde band, formed in 1998, and who have in recent years made a name for themselves as a result of their incredible musical and creative capabilities; “breaking the boundaries,” one could say, of a genre-gone-stale in desperate need of revival. With their tremendous 2010 release “Paracletus,” they even went beyond their own self-set boundaries, firmly cementing themselves as the pioneers of a still-flourishing take on black metal. Two years, a compilation and an EP later, they have come back with a fresh new offering, “Drought,” a reminder of the reason why we (those of us who did) became such avid fans in the first place, and why we should stick around for subsequent releases. Arguably one of the most influential black metal bands of our time, this has been (at least on my part) a highly anticipated release, and DsO did not let down; not in the least. In this release they incorporate an even larger focus on the ambient and post-rock spectrum of their music; all the while demolishing everything in their path.

The soothing yet eerily tranquil piece “Salow Vision” starts off the EP on a relatively slow note, easing you into the whirlwind of brutality that follows with elements evocative of post-rock and a poignancy not often heard in their music with such outpouring of emotion. (A note of similarity can be found here with “Paracletus,” as “Epiklesis I” also kicked that album off rather slowly). “Fiery Serpents,” the next track on the EP, blasts with their trademark sound of dissonance after dissonance, complex structures, and incredibly talented instrumentation for which they have made themselves known. But it’s not until “Scorpions & Drought” that we truly hear the extent to which DsO will go in terms of brutality, technicality and precision, more reminiscent of “Paracletus” than any new deviation in style. As in "Abrasive Swirling Murk," chaotic blast beats driving alongside highly complex structures are heard occasionally, though not nearly as much as in earlier releases; replaced instead by slower drumming and less frantic guitars. And, to my slight dismay, DsO have abandoned--or at least dimished in--the malign and raw evil that their earlier works tended to emit.

The final track on the EP, “The Crackled Book of Life,” closes off the EP with a groovy and--yes, you’re reading it correctly--catchy main riff, and despite its complete lack of anything black metal, it might actually be one of the better tracks off the EP. From start to finish, “Drought” drives through its 20 minutes’ worth of new material with speed and power, and enough dissonance for any DsO fan, not to mention the slower and equally amazing post-rock tracks. But even though quite dramatic changes in pace are heard, it’s hard not to be astonished by the incredible flow and seamlessness with which this EP was written. And, unlike its predecessor “Paracletus,” or, even before that, “Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum,” DsO seem to have opted for coherence rather than the absolute and utter chaos with which the latter was filled. It’s strange, though, that it can all at once be called a substantially brutal release and simultaneously surprise with its not-too-overpowering ambient, post-rock and progressive elements. This EP will easily establish itself as one of the standouts of DsO’s entire discography; a job damn well done.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme [2012]

Mother of all slams! This is everything you could want from the mighty Dying Fetus!

Don't you just love it when an album you have been waiting on for so long delivers beyond your expectations?! The newest album from the Brutal Death Slammers Dying Fetus. The instrumentals make you want to stare in awe. And then the slams kick in and it forces you to grasp the nearest poor fellow and beat his face so hard his mother will never recognize him! If there is any fetus albums anyone thinks is a little less impressive than others... prepare to get very excited.

You will instantly feel a great feeling of joy and excitement the second you hit play. The sweeps hit you right away in the first song, "Invert the Idols". And you find yourself thinking, this is going to be a masterpiece! This song is a perfect choice to open the album with, because not only does it rip right away with the sweeps and blasts, but it has all the characteristics of the ideal Dying Fetus track. About mid way through there is a build up with the guitars holding out that low open note just before the bone breaker riff. There is also choice guitar lead/sweeps in "From Womb to Waste" at 2:07. That riffage will definitely remind the fans of their earlier albums. And the riffage that follows that is stunning! They break for a second then go into an upbeat mosher! The thrashers might take interest in this!

But alas! DAT FUGGIN SLAM!! That is what we are all listening to this for right? They are just impeccable in this monster release. They make the guys like myself want to throw some elbows and bench press 400 pounds! It is incredible how they can pull of the brutal death slams with out sounding too much like slam death or hardcore. And there isn't any songs on here that one would just skip over. There is literally legendary beat your face in slammage in every track! I would choose some favorites but there is literally so many! The first track would definitely be up there. And all over the "In the Trenches" track. However this is some brutal death slams in the next track, Devout Atrocity, around the one minute mark. This is a track they better perform live. It is just death metal genius.

This is something any fan could run their mouth about for hours. The point could have been made in a few short sentences: "Maybe the best thing they have put out. This bad mother slams and will not let you down." Neither one of those statements is ever used lightly. This is a must have. Get excited.

100% (Seriously, it was that good. It had everything I wanted to hear from a Dying Fetus album. It deserves a 100)

Favorite Tracks: All of them were equally amazing. But Editors Choice: From Womb to Waste, In the Trenches, and Devout Atrocity.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HeXeN - Being and Nothingness [2012]

The musicianship here is uncanny! 

It is always incredible to hear an album where you can clearly hear each members love for their musical instrument. If it takes these gents a little bit longer than the fans wanted to get this one out then so be it. If you find yourself thinking, "Man, I have been waiting forever for this bad mother to come out! It better be good!"; then fear not! Because these songs are VERY thought out and much time was spent with each and every one. 

What really sticks out about this undoubtedly the astounding musicianship. Things keep moving here and well, progressing into something more. A lot of the time whenever the word "progressive" is uttered, people shun and think "BOOOORING!", and that could not be further from the truth. It is as if the band has to move forward each time they play a riff. The evidence is clear in every song, but for example with the first song "Macrocosm", which starts out with a piano playing a minor chord progression (total prog move), you can take every phrase and find a little something different each time. And that applies to every song on this glorious bastard. 

There is one thing that must be noted. This album is very melodic. This is one thing that I actually tend to stay away from because to be frank, it isn't my thing; nothing against it. It is just not my thing. But for those who cannot get enough of melody in metal this is the perfect album for you! These guys did not skip a day of music class and clearly know what they are doing. 

This really is a great album and to be honest, this one will probably be the one that takes them to the top. They really deserve it for the time and effort that was put into this bad boy. This is album appeals to everyone but if you happen to be a guitar player... prepare to crap yourself, and then start touching yourself... in that order. Legends could take a lesson for these guitarists. For a band that spent this much time trying to make themselves as well as you happy with killer tunes; you should return the favor and pick this up. Well worth your money and more importantly it is worth your time. 


Favorite Tracks: Defcon Rising, Stream Of Unconsciousness, Nocturne

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cripple Bastards - Senza Impronte [2012]

Very impressive grindcore that is impossible to put down!

This is just such a great listen! These veteran grinders from Italy really know how to rip you a new asshole. Seriously, keep a clean pair of pants nearby. The key to really first class grind album, and any genre for that matter, is the keen ability to keep ones interest. And it is easy to say that these men are experts at just that. Especially in grind though, because grind moves pretty fast (duh!) and if it gets boring... it gets boring fast! Not to mention the rapid fire vocals that keep it brutal as fuck! This album is like concentrated "PISSED OFF" played through amplifiers.

It's as if every few seconds there is a crazy transition that forces the mind to pay attention. You have to do something to keep the attention of all the psycho A.D.D. grind fans out there! How many lifetimes must one live to think of all these things! Of course the riffs matter, like always but it is the little things in this album you just have to treasure. And like all things grind they happen so fast you almost don't notice them but subconsciously they keep your attention. This is all probably because of how quickly they move between riffs as well. For example in the first song; those intro hits are only like 2 seconds long and the break at around the 1 minute mark is just to die for!

The first song also sounds a lot like Napalm Death; still Cripple Bastards but any fan of Napalm will hear it. Also, while on the topic of riffage and transitions; the dissonance in the notes is just terrific. It gives everything that classic, legendary, unsettling feel. Things like that go overlooked far to often. Choice riffage at :35 of Mondo Plastico BTW. It doesn't get much better than that fellow grind heads. You just gotta love that hot nasty bad ass tri-tone!

Another thing that is structured well in the tune-age is the vox! The vocal patterns really stand out and really add a lot to the riffs. You'll notice in the title track, and really all the tracks, that you have lower pitched vocals that growled more legato when there is a fast blast beat; and more staccato in the upbeat sections. This isn't true of all the songs, that would get boring, but there is a lot of truth to it. The best part of all the vocals however, is when they go back and forth between vocalists. It is orchestrated perfectly.

This is worth the listen even if you are not a fan of the genre. It is FAR from boring. These Italian grind experts prove their excellence in this gnarly release. The evidence is in the vocals transitions and riffs. And if you are one of those that believes that grind is talent-less obnoxious noise... then you and your Opeth sounding, melo death bullshit can fuck off somewhere. HA! But on a serious note, the promo description says it all, "Senza Impronte = total grindcore legends writing legendary grindcore...fucking CRIPPLE BASTARDS MOTHERFUCKER!"


Favorite Tracks: Agony of a Reformed Band, Mondo Plastico 

P.S. - Sorry for my lack of posts recently. I have been extremely tied up with work and it has been very physically and mentally draining. But I didn't forget about you! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Witchtrap - Vengeance Is My Name [2012]

Taking into consideration that I’m such an avid black/thrash fan (it probably being my favorite genre of all), I really wanted to give the new Witchtrap album a good listen. The first song struck me as mildly mediocre, and was slightly disappointed at how little ‘black metal’ it actually was. In fact, “Vengeance Is My Name” has little or no black metal traits at all, even though it goes around being labeled as such. No--Witchtrap are not black/thrash, let's clear that out right now. These Colombians are simply another retro-thrash act aiming to go big among millions of other retro-thrash bands, with thousands of new ones sprouting incessantly. And while they probably are better than most of said bands, there’s not much that “Vengeance Is My Name” actually had to offer, save the pervasive ‘fun’ and ‘headbangable’ factor, arguably bouncy and perhaps influenced more heavily by early German thrash than anything else.

Lately there’s been this weird retro-black/thrash thing going on, most notably in new bands like Witchaven, and this is the style that Witchtrap have adopted over time. I’d say that the latter is more old-school than the former, probably because of the razor-sharp riffing and the less overt new-school influences and derivative riffs. They've snatched a considerably catchy style that plays in the vein of various different forebears, namely the Teutonic thrash bands, early Metallica and some Venom; though less vicious than the Germans and more appealing to the retro-thrash crowd. I will say that most of the riffs found on here are quite catchy, fun and headbang-inducing, yet the songwriting isn’t always at its best and not as engaging as one may have wished. Riffs tend to get repeated a lot, but to their credit, a lot of them are catchy enough that they don’t get overly boring as the songs progress and play the same riffs over and over; and fortunately, there’s a nice addition of usually more-than-competent guitar leads, uplifting the band’s music.

The vocals aren’t, to my dismay, black metal rasps. They’re more of a cross between Schmier and Petrozza, honestly quite bland and not saturated with evil as much as with a thrasher attitude; aptly spoken and touching on various stereotypical black/thrash themes to drive along the lyrics. (Metal, evil, headbanging, anger and violence, etc. etc., you know the drill). While most of the album offers hardly original thrash traits, most of the riffs are catchy enough and there’s also a weird clean guitar thing that they had going on in “The Queen Of Hell”. As a whole, “Vengeance Is My Name” is not that varied nor original (at all), though it does flow nicely and offer some better tidbits on a few songs than others. And even though it has absolutely no black metal traits to make it all the better, I enjoyed what Teutonic-thrash influence it had in store, and did elicit occasional delighted headbanging on my part. Apart from that, however, this album has scarce memorability, serving as another offering of formulaic thrash that’s littering the scene, and when derivative songs like “Metal” came on, I was largely tempted to hit the ‘skip’ button and delete it. Worthy of staying in my music library, yet I fear it’ll be visited very rarely.