Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fading Waves - The Sense Of Space EP (2011)




Coming across another one-man band, Fading Waves is operated by a musician by the name of Alexey Maximuk. The Russian atmospheric post-metal band has come out with a new EP, entitled “The Sense Of Space.” It includes multiple guest musicians and many different instruments and sounds to create a unique and beautiful background.

“Air” opens up the album with two minutes and 45 seconds of eerie sound effects and haunting synths. You also hear voices in the distance. It almost sound like some sort of radio with people talking lightly in the background. As this strange introduction fades you are met with the song “Flashes.” It starts with calm guitars notes and soft hats and snares. An angelic voice soon follows starting off the verse with a gorgeous ghostly sound. This is the only verse throughout the entire song. The rest of the song includes a couple of different synthesizers and mixed melodies but keeps the overall pace the same. The track itself is over nine minutes long however after about five minutes a lot of it starts to sound the same. Nothing to exciting to look forward to later towards the end. It would have been better if they song faded out around five minutes in. The beginning is great and the vocals are beautiful but get ready to be bored as the second half of the song sort of just drags out with the same old repetitive melody.

The next song, “Destroying The Time,” becomes a little more aggressive as it starts out with distorted guitar riffs that build up as louder drums rush in with smashing cymbals and snapping snare drums. Things quiet down for a brief moment while just the bass continues to thump. Not even two minutes in however, the monstrous drum rolls and rapid guitars come right back in with a wicked melody and lots of distortion. And even more exciting, vocals kick in soon after with roaring growls and exploding drum fills. This is where the devil horns come in handy. The vocals could be turned up just a little more in the mix however for the most part everything sounds pretty good. The guitar work is crystal clear and almost becomes more of a lead than the actual vocals. Either way it’s a kick ass track with lots of energy and power.

“Perforate The Sky” keeps the mood heavy with more heavily distorted guitars chugging away while vicious growls rip through the first verse with harsh demonic tones. The drums are relentless through most of the song as they continue to pound away at you non stop for the first three and a half minutes straight. The great part about this song is that its got a softer side to it as well. The vocals switch from the aggressive growling to the gentle female singing vocals as slower guitars play soothing melodies in the background. Even the drums become a lot lighter during her verse. In the end, both vocals share a part as they go back and forth giving off a beauty and the beast type of feel to the music. The drums start to pick up again with rapid cymbals exploding behind the thunderous kick and snare patterns. You can tell a lot of emotion went into this song.

The final song on the EP is called “Through The Veins.” It too starts with distorted guitar blaring away with wild melodies. The thing you really want to pay attention to here is the drum fills. The detail delivered with the snare and toms are incredible and add a lot of energy to the music. You aren’t greeted with any vocals until a little of two minutes into the song. More devilish growls are thrown at you with reckless guitar riffs. The track starts to calm down for a bit while the drums and guitar become a little more basic and slower. This is around the time the female vocals fade in slowly with stunning melodies covered in lots of reverb. Afterwards are more demonic growls along with catchy guitar riffs and crazy drum rolls. The ending only gets better from here. After you hit the 6 minute mark, the guitars go absolutely insane with speedy melodic riffs that run throughout the rest of the song giving you no time to catch your breathe. Meanwhile the drums continue to blow up in the background. This will definitely make you want to hit the replay button. The ending is just phenomenal.

As a fairly new band, Fading Waves has got a lot of potential as the compositions show much detail into each song musically and lyrically. The EP started out kind of slow but really picked things up at the end. The performance in the guitars were excellent as well. The more creative this band gets, the better they’ll be. Especially delivering such a unique style of music.

7.5/10

Official Site - http://fadingwavesband.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/fadingwavesband
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Morito Ergo Sum - Moonchild (EP) (2011)




When Morito Ergo Sum released their initial offering, "I Die, Therefore I Am," it was merely a way of putting the pen to the paper. It was only the beginning of the journey for Paolo Cito, the founder, and Walter Basile, his new found vocal power. That disc garnered interest in and around the doom community, and fueled the search to complete a line-up. Barely a year later, they reemerge with a new look and a new sound. But amid all the changes and improvements, including Basile himself handling drum duties, some things remain the same. This is doom, with all the melodic distinctions that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

From the onset of "Behind These Tears," you find a far more aggressive incarnation of the band. The drums are boisterous, full of body, bringing a necessary wrinkle to the formula. This new found punch clears the way for more intricate guitar work. The ringing distortion remains, but is complimented with some expansive solos. This more detailed oriented work is the only piece that was lacking on their previous effort. Not only have they corrected it, but they have highlighted it. Frontman Walter Basile's voice remains as melancholy as before, the glue that holds this somber masterpiece together.

Within the intro to "When The Grass Grows Over Me," you find more evidence of growth. The slightly gritty guitar work is joined by a sullen violin, forming a haunting harmony. Even as the track changes, the remnants of that melody remain. Taking the more traditional doom path, the tempo slows and distortion reigns supreme.  However, the single identifying characteristic, the one that will always remind you of who you are listening to, is the voice of Walter Basile. His subtleties and range allow for the music to unfold around him, rather than on top of him. His voice finds its way through the heavy low end, rarely dominating, but always complimenting. And while it may sound like an after thought, it creates a striking balance with the guitars, allowing each one to play off the other.

A staggering drum roll opens "This Selfish Act," setting the stage for Basile's ghostly tone to haunt the body of the track. This is the most assertive track on the album, taking a very up front approach to the doom style. The tone on the drums is a drastic improvement from earlier works, with each snare and kick inviting a nod of the head. But the key word continues to be "balance," as each piece is now equal with the others. Whether it be bass, guitars, drums or vocals, each has an equal share in the final result. What makes this equality so impressive is the different emotions each brings to the table. Like any good collaborative effort, the contrast is what makes it successful. The guitars are distorted and bleak, while the bass clean and smooth. The solo section is unlike anything Morito Ergo Sum has ever produced before, taking their concept into faster tempos and more precise instrumentation.

Basile takes a much deserved lead on the title track, a cover of King Crimson's "Moonchild," alongside an effects tinged guitar melody. By far the shortest track on the EP, clocking in at a measly five and a half minutes, it contains and vocal delivery that would fit into a seventies folk rock masterpiece. Once again, his subtle sadness is the star, heightened by yet another great solo section. This track, like the others, is a realization of Paolo Cito's original concept. He has taken the doom mold and reshaped it, removing the amorphous blob of growls and screams, and replacing it with a clean voice of reason and despair. Not only does it play well off of the heavy, dark instrumentation, but it allows for a better vessel to deliver the lyrical content. And Basile fills that position perfectly.

Comparing the previous EP to "Moonchild" is like comparing apples and oranges. The former was the framework to something great. The latter is the vision come to life, an incredible display of doom theory, twisted into a new shape. On these four songs, Morito Ergo Sum separate themselves from the others. Whether it be the crystal clear production or the new found power to the music itself, it all comes together in a significant way. Add the vocals of a top notch frontman, and you are as close to a "sure thing" as the metal world gets. 

8.5/10

Official Site - http://moritoergosum.com/
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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sorrow Eternal: The Bloopers

Over the course of 26 podcasts, numerous Top 10 lists and a bunch of interviews, it is fair to say Hell22 and Murmaider have made a lot of verbal typos. So, ladies and gentlemen, we present you with the first of many blooper reels. Sit back and laugh at our misfortunes, poor pronunciations, and our inability to say the most simple of words. And hey, it may be time to reveal our real names...



Download it here.
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

As Autumn Calls: The Interview


Andrew and James from Canadian acoustic doom beast As Autumn Calls were kind enough to subject themselves to a Sorrow Eternal interview, where we sought to get some information on how the band developed their sound, the future of their music, and some great new bands coming from our neighbor to the north.


Download the audio here.
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Russian Circles - Empros (2011)



The "post" prefix is exploding in popularity, finding itself placed in front of every musical style, from rock to hardcore. But there are so many expectations that come along with those four genre bending letters, and a vague sense of meaning seems to accompany their use. Russian Circles have, throughout their discography, sought to define what the genre is, rather than what it can or should be. On "Empros," they try to take an evolved stance, a strong sense of timing, and a new found love of low end to the top of the heap.

The soft, clean tones quickly descend into a dirty mix, taking "309" to top speed in no time flat. This is definitely that heavy edge that so many "post"-anything bands miss out on, often choosing to go with a more atmospheric approach. Tempo and mood changes abound, the smashing of the drum kit accenting each new section. The sound of the kick drum, in particular, is enough to keep your eyes wide open. The production is raw, but not in the traditional sense. Rather, it maintains the integrity of each instrument, without covering them in the gelatinous goo of pitch corrected, over processed computer work. Thankfully, this choice leaves us with a bass line that is both disturbing and welcomed. There remains a sense of unwashed purity in each note, as honest as the concept itself. Even as the track fades into the remnants of chords and distortion, it is hard to believe it is actually over.

There is a decidedly more melodic approach in "Mladek," with clean guitar tones echoing in the sea of snares and cymbals. This is not to say that mood set in the opening track is immediately tossed aside. You will still fill the darker side holding on to some of the lower register chords and bass slides. Tracks like this one seem to have purpose, going from point "a" to point "b" in a clearly visible way. I refuse to use the word "predictable" to describe it, but if a Shyamalan-esque twist is what you crave, you won't find it here. Instead, you run head on into a strong, guitar driven track that relies more on timing than momentum, moving along in a logical progression from beginning to end. A brisk chugging outro is the perfect means to an end. The band's evolution is never more evident than on "Schiphol." Melodic, airy, and rich, the opening stanzas are played with a deft hand and steady fingers. With each clean guitar strum, each singular kick drum stomp, you are woven into the fabric of the track, surrounded by threads of notes fading. Finally, it all comes down, and the same concept that made the song beautiful now brings you to your feet. The rhythm section is formidable, taking the low end to places this band rarely sees, guiding the wailing guitar notes down the winding path to greatness.

The air of beauty continues into the early moments of "Atackla," acoustic tones softly falling to your ears. But as the plucking becomes more forceful, you get the sneaking suspicion that something is afoot. Snares enter, then the rest of the drum kit. Each crashing cymbals tangled with the clean tones, erupting in a rattling show of distorted strength. The same melody repeats, but fades into the mix, overwhelmed by the sheer murkiness of the guitars. You will surely leave this fray bruised and bloody, tossed around on the wave of sludge mastery. But, like a life this time of year, the delicate outro will allow you to float back to Earth. Don't expect a gentle dust off, though, as "Batu" surrounds you in a haze of reverb and delay. This could be the "post-metal for dummies" handbook, as it guides you through all of the best elements the genre has to offer. It combines melody with massive riffs, backed by an incomparable presence of percussion. Fast to slow, slow to fast, the tempo changes allow for each individual piece to shine. Layer upon layer of distortion, settling upon one another in a sonic assault.

Having weathered the unrelenting storm, the finale is your reward. While the intro may seem like little more than assorted noises and feedback, "Praise Be Man" is much more than that. The near lullaby feel puts your mind at ease, with muddled but soft lyrics easing your eye lids. The key to the entire sound lies in the production, flawed but necessarily so. No need to be cleaned up, polished and corrected. The bass slides into action, as gritty as a bass can be. Guitars hum to each side, notes high and piercing. Until it all disappears.

Russian Circles are innovators, taking the post-rock/post-metal genre to its limits. They have continued to push the boundaries of their music, and you, the listener, are the one reaping the rewards. Six tracks and over forty minutes of music later, we are left with a clear idea of what that "post" really means. Throughout "Empros," you get a taste of clean and distorted, heavy and soft, light and dark. Those contrasting characteristics define Russian Circles, and, in turn, define their genre.

8.5/10

Official Site - http://russiancirclesband.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/russiancircles
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sam Locke - Era (EP) (2011)



Sitting quietly, half a world away, is the continent of Australia. And while we Americans may only know them as the land of kangaroos, koalas and Foster's beer, there is a low rumble that can't be ignored. Bands like Vyrion and Astral Winter opened our eyes to the heavier side of a nation. And Sam Locke, an instrumental wizard from Launceston, will make our eye lids, and yours, rise a lighter higher. On his new EP, titled "Era," are five tracks of progressive metal that can be heard over 10,000 miles away.

The loud burst of drums and guitars shakes you to life. "Epoch" is exactly what an opening track should be, catching your attention with a well crafted hook, but pounding your brain with an intense battery of percussion. The numerous tempo shifts keep things rolling along, even allowing clean guitars to shine through. The pulsing double kicks, programmed or not, are devastating, leaving a sonic void in your rib cage. A distorted chord fades away, and leads, conveniently into the second track, titled "Momentum." The layering of instruments is incredible, particularly when you think of the logistics of recording each piece individually. The guitars are crisp, both alone and together. It can not be overstated just how intoxicating these melodies are, drawing you in with a display of skill and technical prowess. Whether it be the darting single notes, or the expansive resonating chords, each piece fits into a tiny space.

The longest track on the EP comes in the form of "Inconsequential," a song that is anything but. With the emergence of an added keyboard element, Sam takes his sound into a different realm. You can hear all of the elements of progressive, thrash, black and death tackled without ever uttering a single word. He rips through dynamic signature changes, powerful guitar work, and a never ending tornado of kicks, snares and cymbals. He succeeds where so many have failed before, choosing to rely on top notch writing, rather than unrefined brutality. The short interlude, "Reminisce," is not a throwaway like so many tracks of the under two minute ilk. Rather, it is a one round pummeling, welcoming you to the more lasting "End Of An Era." By now, you think he has used his entire bag of tricks. But, as before, you end up surprised at how well composed the entire track remains. A guitar lead that would make any classic metal axeman proud leads the way, screaming over the top of a bed of distortion and dirty chords. And, before your lungs have regained their capacity of air, it is all over.

There are two distinct kinds of debuts. There are the safe ones, where a band plays to their strengths, stays between the lines, and tries not to screw up. Then there are those that are dangerous. High risk, high reward. Sam Locke's "Era" fits into the latter, with five tracks of self produced, completely self performed metal, finding the bulls-eye every step of the way. If this is evidence of what Australia brings to the table, time to pack my bags, book my flight, and relocate. Sorrow Eternal, down under.

9/10

Official Site - http://samlocke.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/samlockeproject
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Astral Winter - Winter Enthroned (2011)



Astral Winter has taken black metal vocals and riffs and mixed them together with symphonic tones and guitar solos and drums that have power metal speed. The band has just released their new album, entitled “Winter Enthroned.” It’s got demonic growls and heavily distorted guitars mixed with beautiful piano riffs and shredding guitar solos.

“Prologue” is a minute and a half intro that opens with thunder sound effects giving off an image of a dark cold night. Dark strings fade in slowly along with an acoustic guitar. The music builds up as the string go higher in octave. Soon after come distorted guitars all playing the same catchy little tune. This immediately runs right into the second track, entitled “Illustrations Of Death.” You’re hit with an loud and haunting growl that echo throughout the beginning of the song. This is accompanied by fast distorted guitar riffs playing rapid melodic notes. After running into such a rush of instruments, things calm down before the first verse is introduced. Acoustic guitars are combined with the distorted guitar as more eerie thunder sound effects rattle in the background. When the verse drops, wicked demonic growling comes flying in along with blaring guitar riffs and booming drum rolls. The tempo picks up with violent speeds as you are knocked down by the relentless vocals. You are then met with a wild guitar solo that plays for a good proportion of the song. This solo is all over the place with its quick notes that rapidly slow down in certain parts and then pick right back up again. The melody is at a constant change with tons of different catchy riffs. This is definitely the way to open up an album!

Get ready for some more high energy and thunderous beats with “Through Timeless Aeons Of Frost.” This eight and a half masterpiece starts with gorgeous piano riffs that is surrounded by uplifting strings. The vocals tear you apart with the opening growl thrown right in your face along with monstrous guitars and exploding drum fills. Pay attention to the many drum patterns in this song and the quick double bass pedal action in between. The verses are separated by a catchy piano riff that is repeated by destructive guitars while more double bass destroys the background. “Defenders Of The Astral Kingdom” runs for over 10 minutes long and also includes lots of epic piano riffs that will get stuck in your head for days. The guitar solos in these songs are phenomenal as they run up and down the scales with crashing cymbals and thumping kicks behind them. Soothing strings build up around the guitars completely surrounding you with a beautiful sound. The last five minutes really pick up with the drumming. The fills in between each riff is incredible and full of detail. This will have you pumping you fists in no time.

You’re attacked with violent guitar riffs again and again in the beginning of “Beyond These Frozen Castle Walls.” The verses kick right in with harsh growls that pound away at you while the strings lift you up just to get knocked down again. The chorus has an interesting mix of growls and clean singing vocals layered together keeping the music heavy and catchy with its clear melodies. At this point, guitars a going wild with notes flying all over the place during the solo. Meanwhile the drums are going insane with fills and double bass pedals at high speed. You’re gonna want to listen closely a few times to catch everything closely.

The last full song on the album is “Past The Realms Of Eternal Ice” which starts out quiet with soft strings slowly fading in the beginning. You’re soon hit with double bass action and a monstrous growl. The distorted guitars blast away as they lead you right into the verse. Dark and vicious vocals take over with anger and hatred. You can really feel the passion in the vocal performance. After 9 and a half minutes of pure destruction you then come across the minute and a half “Epilogue” with closes up the album with angelic acoustic guitar riffs layered with some distorted solos at the end.

With solid recording quality and clear delivery, Astral Winter shows a fantastic performance with “Winter Enthroned.” It’s definitely got that beauty and beast type of feel with all the different mixtures of soft acoustic guitars and harsh distorted guitars. And the vocals were right on par with their aggressiveness and evilness. Definitely give this album a shot!

8/10

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/astralwinter0
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Megadeth - Th1rt3en (2011)



"Th1rt3en." Yes, the thirteenth album by Big 4 thrashers Megadeth is called "Th1rt3en." Notice the "1" replacing the "i" and the "3" replacing the first "e". How could you miss it? Dave Mustaine and company, along with classic era member David Ellefson, return for another go. After the widely criticized "Endgame" ended a two album run that found Megadeth back at the top of the thrash mountain, many thought it was time to hang up the strings, and ride off into the sunset. But Mustaine has never been one to listen to his critics. This time, he should have thought it through.

The opening riffs of "Sudden Death" are classic Megadeth, without a doubt. But as the vocals enter, something seems off. Mustaine sounds fine, but the lyrics seem off-putting, in a way that steals so much attention from the music itself. There are moments where he seems to struggle for certain notes, but all is forgiven with dueling solos and some old school fret work. I would venture to say that this song plays like a five minute instrumental with an unfortunate vocal track tacked on. "Public Enemy No. 1," suffers from a similar ailment, with some impressive thrash guitars buried in a sea of mediocrity. "I'm unbeatable, my mind is untreatable." This is just a taste of the lyrical wordsmanship that awaits you. Granted, Megadeth has never been heralded for the power of their words, but the message is lost in this drivel. Even 2007's "United Abominations" writer Mustaine would be disappointed in this current output. Every piece of music is tight, with each note played to perfection. He hasn't lost a step, in that sense.

Speaking of lyrical abominations, "Whose Life (Is It Anyway?)," must have been a joke that simply went too far. The pity is that the instrumental itself is above average, especially for this stage of their career. But this might possibly be the worst song written under the Megadeth name. "You don't like the way I wear my clothes." The collective faces of all the fans in the world cringe together each time that line comes through. Mustaine redeems his lost vocal skill with solo after solo, setting his guitar ablaze with fast fingers and brilliant pick work. The song that manages to stick out from the rest, "We The People" could be a lost recording from the "United Abominations" session. It isn't on par from the quality standpoint, as the vocal track is a throwaway, but the deeper meaning finally finds a home. The breakdown portion is refreshing, with a tremendous display of drumming shining through what is otherwise a muddled mess.

There are a few bright spots as the album progresses. The chugging riffs on "Guns, Drugs & Money" hold some weight, the first sign of a real groove on the album. The vocals? At this point, it seems better to just ignore them. Mustaine tries to recapture the glory of his previous work, but he falls flat with each verse. This is a theme that continues throughout most of the rest of the album, save for the next track, "Never Dead." This one is the closest you are going to come to the Megadeth you know and love. The music is a thrashing, headbanging affair, with insane riffs paired with great fills. Ellefson's trademark bass sound comes through time and again, giving us a taste of what we've been missing out on for all these years. The opening to "New World Order" may have your hopes rising, but as the first verse kicks in, those hopes are quickly dashed to bits. Mustaine truly sounds like a shell of his former self. Where there were once dynamic, powerful vocals, there is a struggling, fading voice. The drumming is the real breakout star in this one, with crazy double kicks drowning out the weaker instrumentals. A great guitar solo takes the cake, almost wiping your mind of the nonsense you just heard.

Airy effects on a guitar intro is not what most fans of this band would come to expect. But the Van Halen style "drill" sounds are even farther from what you want here. The standards just continue to drop, with songs like "Fast Lane" accomplishing nothing, and "Black Swan" sounding like a second rate version of a classic Megadeth track. Both feel uninspired, lacking any sort of edge or quality control. Sure, the musicianship is good, but that shouldn't be good enough. The vocals are wasted, and drag the rest of the sound down with them. "Wrecker" is more of the same. Some great riffs, backed with a great bass line. The drums are, once again, top notch. Shawn Drover manages to impress, time and time again. But again, Musatine's subject matter and lyrics simply don't fit. Songs about homewreckers and whores should be left to the R&B and pop divas who do it so well.

For a brief period, thanks to the solo on "Millenium Of The Blind," we can sit back and enjoy. Then, as before, the vocals ruin it all. The lyrics are particularly sour, but the delivery is even moreso. The production doesn't even come across as clean, which is a disaster for a band of this caliber. Mustaine and company meander through the final two tracks, beginning with "Deadly Nightshade," which could easily be mistaken for the Weezer song "Hash Pipe." This contains, arguably, the best solo on the album, with some very catchy riff consuming you in the breakdown. The thirteenth track to the thirteenth album, simply titled "13" is a ballad. Yes. A ballad. Acoustic tones and softly sung lyrics take the lead, breaking into some more daring guitar work in the latter half. "I've stood here 13 times, and I'm still alive." Puzzling end to a confusing album.

Nothing could ever tarnish the legacy that Dave Mustaine and Megadeth have built over the course of two decades. As a man, he has withstood injuries, alcoholism, and an army of critics saying that he couldn't survive in metal. He has proven everybody wrong to this point. Reunited with David Ellefson, it felt as though Megadeth was primed for a return to the glory days. But, no matter how much we long for the past, our heroes can never go back. And "Th1rtEen" is reality, slapping all of us in the face.

6.5/10

Official Site - http://www.megadeth.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/megadeth
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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 26 (And the winner is...)

Better late than never! We have weathered the storm, and are back in full force. Hell22 had a busy week, with albums by Animals As Leaders, Isole and Dark Haze giving him a lot to think about. Murmaider reaffirms his love of doom with Lethian Dreams, and goes for a darker side with Sacrilegious Throne.

Another month has passed, and another band must be chosen. This month, an album that has our entire office captivated takes center stage, earning Boston's own Junius the "coveted" spot as our Band Of The Month for November. We talk about the band, the album, and what makes them so damn good. A round of applause is in order.



Part 1 - http://www.sendspace.com/file/7fodn6



Part 2 - http://www.sendspace.com/file/zxc1sg
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Northsong: The Interview

The folk genius behind Illinois based Northsong, Cortland Runyon, joins us to answer questions about his new EP, "Winter's Dominion," his aspirations, and what he thinks of the American metal scene as a whole.


We are always fascinated by the idea of a true one man band. There are obviously both challenges and benefits to being the one and only. How has this come in to play with you and Northsong?

I do enjoy the freedom of writing music and lyrics by myself without needing the approval of any other band members. It's also pretty cool that I get to record whenever I "feel like it" because I can be a real lazy bastard sometimes.

However being in a one-man band also has it's disadvantages. For example, if you're stuck composing a certain part of a song, there's not a lot of people who can help you. For the most part, it's only you. I have songs that I haven't finished because I couldn't really hear what would "sound good" to put next. There's also the fact that you're your only promoter when you start out. Luckily, I had connections beforehand. You also have to gain production knowledge before you just decide to record. No one wants to listen to a poorly produced album unless the music is good enough to do it justice.

It's no secret that you drew some influence from some of the titans of the genre, from Amon Amarth to Sonata Arctica. But what led you, specifically into the folk metal world in the first place?

At first I as really big in Power Metal and Melodic Death Metal. Eventually after exploring genres I stumbled upon Folk Metal, and fell in love. I looked up more bands under the genre until I came upon Windrider, who's music inspired me to create my own Folk Metal solo project. I could've started a project for any genre, really, but Folk was my favorite at the time, and it still is.

Your love of Norse mythology has a clear influence on your songwriting. How did you come up with some of the track titles, and the lyrics themselves?

For the most part, I usually write lyrics first, and name them later. With "Mountains of Madness" however, I named the song after I composed it, and I tried my best to make the lyrics relevant to the title. It was the first song I've written for Northsong, so I didn't quite know what I was doing. As for the other songs, I just looked at the stereotypical Viking Metal lyrics, and tried to create the same battle-like atmosphere in my own lyrics. They're not exactly the most poetic lyrics, but they get the job done, which is good enough for me.

Where did you find your inspiration while writing and recording "Winter's Dominion"?

My main inspirations came from other Folk and Viking Metal bands such as Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, and Windrider. The fact that I really wanted a release under my belt kept me going. It took me four times to record "Mountains of Madness" before I finally got the right sound, and I applied the technique to the other songs. I just wanted a real epic and heroic sound that most Folk Metal fans would be able to appreciate.


Besides the traditional bass, drums, guitars, what other instruments did you use in the recording of the album?

Believe it or not, I didn't put bass in any of the six songs on the EP. I just used a Contrabass/Cello combination on the keyboard for the low-end sounds. The orchestrations were all done on my computer, and I had the same rhythm track copied three times, but each copy had a different instrument set. I used full strings for one, the contrabass and cello combo I just talked about, and I added an orchestral ensemble for the third. Aside from all the rhythm tracks, I also had a few keyboard-made folk intruments, such as flutes and the occasional violin.

You made the decision to cover a song by Windrider, a band that Sorrow Eternal writers enjoy quite a bit. How did this cover come to life?

There's not much else I can say other than "Let Death Be Our Pride" is my favorite Windrider song. I originally only planned on adding the core five songs, but the combined length of those were too short for an EP. Really all I did was compose the orchestrations in a program called Guitar Pro 5, and I got to work on recording the guitars and vocals. It's not a real hard song to learn by ear, and I didn't have to write the song myself because it was already written, so it was rather easy to make.

Have you put any thought into the prospect of expanding the band, adding members, and taking the show on the road? If so, who are some musicians you would want to share the stage or tour with?

I'm definitely trying to get a live line-up together, but no one in my area seems to be interested in Folk Metal. There's a huge chance that I'll be moving to the UK after I graduate high school to go to college. If I do move, I'll be in the same area as bands like Windrider, Cryptic Age, and Ravenage, so I'd love to share the stage with them. I have no doubt that a few of my talented friends overseas would be part of a live line-up. If I got really popular, it would be really awesome to tour with Ensiferum and Finntroll in the future; and I would love a spot on Heidenfest, Paganfest, or any other Folk Metal tour/festival.

What are your thoughts on the folk metal genre, and the direction some of the newer bands are taking it?

Personally, I love folk and metal, so it's a perfect combination for my tastes. There is a lot of diversity in the sub-genre as well, because it has sub-sub-genres like Folk Black, Folk Death, Symphonic Folk (like myself) etc. Newer bands seem to be taking it in even more directions, for better or worse. I've recently downloaded a bunch of newer, more locally based bands' albums, and a lot of them were really good. Folk Metal is a bit more complex compared to a few other genres, and it's great to see more and more people becoming fans of it, and even starting Folk Metal bands.

What is it like being an up and coming metal musician in Illinois, and what is your take on the American metal scene as a whole?

In the town that I live in, there are quite a few metal bands that I could share the stage with to earn more recognition. Though they aren't exactly my taste. A lot of these bands play Metalcore-sounding stuff, which is really the gist of the American Metal scene. However, there are new folk metal bands emerging all over the country, such as Winterhym, Blodravn, and Abandoned Gods, who are really worth a look at. It's good to see other up and coming artists who aren't just trying to be the next Avenged Sevenfold.

What do you find yourself listening to in your spare time? Do you tend to stick with metal, or are there other artists and styles that you find yourself stuck on?

Folk, Melodic Death, Black, and Power Metal is really the core of my music diet, but I also listen to other non-metal genres, such as classical or symphonic arrangements, and neo-folk. There's also a few random songs I have in my library that belong to random genres. Flogging Molly, for example, is band who is a mix of Celtic Folk music and modern day Punk Rock.

You offer your albums up for free download to your fans. What led you to make this decision, and what are your thoughts on the concept of downloading?


I believe that offering my music for free will lead to it spreading around the net faster, to new audiences. In fact, I blame the non-existent price of "Winter's Dominion" for my swift success. If you ask me, I think every unsigned band should offer their first release for free, because fans would only have 1-3 preview songs to decide if they're willing to purchase the album or not. Then they can decide whether or not they'll be willing to purchase another. Plus, if someone buys an album for only a couple of songs and hates the rest, that's bad news for the band. When I buy an album, I want to know what I should expect from it. If it's an album from one of my favorite bands, however, I'll pre-order that shit in a heart beat. As for downloading, I believe it is a powerful tool for marketing yourself, though it can also be used for evil. Despite anyone's opinion, it is vital to support your favorite musicians

What do you have in mind for the future of Northsong? What can we expect to see and hear in the coming months?

I'm currently working on a full-length album titled "The Final Journey", which will feature 7-9 lengthy songs. It will have more folk instruments, and an overall better production quality. I think fans old and new will like the sound; it's like the "Winter's Dominion" stuff, but with all new elements. With that said, I'll state that I want to stay true to my original sound in all future albums. I also plan on charging for this one, because I can't fork up a lot of money for college with my minimum wage job alone. If you want to read an update I released for it, you can go here: ( https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=259163737461293 )

I also want to re-record the entire "Winter's Dominion" EP in the future, but I want to be more knowledgeable in the production arts, which my take up to 5 years. I mentioned earlier that I would be moving to the UK in the next year. I believe this will lead to big things for my project. Either way, I don't care too much for the fame. I just want my music to be heard....and liked.

Thank you again for your time, and for giving us some excellent metal to blast around the office. We look forward to hearing what you come up with next.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Animals As Leaders - Weightless (2011)



Some fans of metal have reported an earthquake, with the epicenter falling squarely in the Washington D.C. area. Don't panic, this isn't a tectonic shift. The shaking you felt was the blast off and subsequent meteoric rise of Animals As Leaders. Having taken the world by storm with their self titled album, they have brought a breath of fresh air to the otherwise stale world of instrumental metal. Now, some two years later, they seek to break into the stratosphere. They fire their stage two rockets, in the form of a new album titled "Weightless," and go from upstarts to idols.

Lightning fast picking opens "The Infinite Regression," building up to a full on thrash clinic. The unity of lead and rhythm guitar is what makes tracks like this special, forming something more than just a never-ending solo. The use of electronic effects heightens the experience, creating clear divisions between each piece of the song, without fragmenting it. This is guitar metal at it's best. It is undeniable that songs like "Odessa" can be catchy, while remaining devastating. The melodies ensure you will hum along, but the periods of chugging will keep your head moving throughout. song clocks it at over four minutes, but goes by in what seems to be the blink of an eye. The more melodic "Somnarium" paints a different picture, one that showcases the songwriting skills that mainman Tosin Abasi has developed. Rather than replacing the vocal line with guitar, he proves, definitively, that vocals simply aren't needed in any form. Such is the foundation of Animals As Leaders.

The rattling opening to "Earth Departure" is wicked in all aspects. The drums and guitars are fast and furious, tangling up in one another. The result is something that could be best described as oragnized chaos. Darting guitars, eerie synths, and the rapid tapping of drums fuels a fire that could spiral out of control at any moment... and does on several occasions. A rare appearance of clean, down tempo tones emerges in the opening of "Isolated Incidents." That melody soars over the top of dense chugging, a virtuosic used of form and function. But this isn't all sunshine with dynamic thrashing portions recharging your battery before another winding, whirling solo. The opening notes of "Do Not Go Gently" could come straight from a club hit, but rather delve deeper into the down tuned, eight string chugging that the band does so well. This isn't guitar wankery just for the sake of showing off, but rather a well constructed metal attack.

"New Eden" starts off in heaven, with light electronic notes fluttering in the air. This is a short burst of a song, displaying amazing fretwork over a consistent, low end beat. A clean solo takes you from heaven, to nirvana as the track eases to a close. The confident smoothness of "Cylindrical Sea" is refreshing, taking a more jam band approach at times. There is definite growth here, showing a maturity that will keep people listening. The band has learned to play heavy off of melodic, and use the two in unison. "Espera" is an interlude, with soft, clean strums mixed with light electronics in a soothing lullaby. Fitting, with the albums heaviest track to follow. "To Lead You To An Overwhelming Question" shows the darker side, without being overbearing. There is some rich, deep guitar work, outside of the normal finger magic. This is a clinic of epic proportions. The bluesy feel to the guitars compliments the hard edged chugging and heavy handed drums.

The title track, and also the longest track, is Animals As Leaders at their finest. This is everything they have to offer in one five minute package. It takes the chugging brilliance, pairs it with the unmatched guitar work in a one in a million combination. Back and forth, from melody to mayhem, they ramble through passage after passage of ever changing time signatures and styles. By tracks end, you may feel a bit lighter. The finale, "David," is the conclusion to the string of lullabies you have heard through the course of the album. Light, gently played guitars echo in the quiet background. In like a lion, out like a lamb.

There is a reason why Animals As Leaders has managed to accumulate hoards of fans worldwide. Despite all of the failings of the music industry, and the fact that somehow Justin Bieber sells more albums than Iron Maiden, people can still recognize talent. The efforts found on "Weightless" won't appeal only to metalheads, but rather anyone that can appreciate high level guitar work. Music like this has an effect on people, one that may actually make you float. No marijuana needed.

8.5/10

Official Site - http://prostheticrecords.com/?p=499
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/animalsasleaders
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sacrilegious Throne - Acts Of Apostasy (EP) (2011)



Sacrilegious Throne is a two man band that combines black and death metal tones in their dark and evil sounds. They’ve just released a new EP, entitled “Acts Of Apostasy.“ The EP is ruthless with its relentless guitar riffs and vicious growling vocals. The recording is clear and keeps the music well mixed yet is able to maintain somewhat of a raw sound.

Wasting no time, the first track “Acts Of Apostasy” comes right in with crushing guitar riffs full of devilish distortion. Booming kicks and snare accompany them, leaving your head bobbing to the beat. The vocals come in with demonic black metal growls that will haunt you in your sleep. The delivery is excellent as it stands strong against the currents of the indestructible drums. The guitars rhythms change from time to time, but continue to knock you on your ass with fast chugging and evil melodies. Towards the middle of the song you will run into outstanding double bass pedal drumming that pounds away at you leaving you no time to catch a breath. The guitars get even more melodic at the end with rapid notes being thrown in all directions. As the song fades you run into “Lying Dormant.” Again, constant guitar riffs are knocking at your door right from the start. When the verse starts make sure to pay close attention to the drums. The fills are absolutely mind blowing as the double bass gets faster and faster in every roll. Meanwhile harsh guitars are screeching away with wicked melodies the surround the vocalist completely. The delivery in the dark screams contain so much anger and emotion really pulling you deeper into the song. Later the instruments will fade for a brief moment as an eerie acoustic guitar steps in following the shadows of the vocals. The quietness doesn’t last long however as the distortion rushes back in followed by exploding drums and crashing cymbals. You’re then met with a pulverizing guitar solo that runs quickly up and down high and low octaves completely killing the musical scale!

Next up is the song, “Spreading The Swarm,” which starts out with swarming bee sound effects and a man yelling in the background. Then comes the heavy guitars riffs chugging away with power. The guitars slow down as the verse begins. Chords are slammed in the background as evil vocals echo throughout the song. Shortly after comes the non stop double bass drumming leaving you no choice but to get your devil horns up and rocking out. Following this incredible song is the fourth and final song called “Creating Eternal Darkness.” This song really goes out with a bang as it starts with a wicked growl that fades right into the dominating guitar riffs. This mixed with the monstrous drum fills will have you bobbing your head immediately. The vocals come flying in with evil echoing lyrics mixed with harsh screams in between. What impressed me most about this song is the constant bass line that moved smoothly in the background carrying the rest of the instruments. It’s groovy and yet demonic at the same time. You can definitely hear it clear over the deafening guitars. Later you’re hit with another electrifying guitar solo that will send you out of this world with its insane speeds and haunting melodies. The song comes to an end with all of the instruments fading out as an eerie acoustic guitar creeps in with dark, beautiful melodic notes. A gorgeous mixture of light and darkness.

For only being an EP, you definitely get a lot out of “Acts Of Apostasy.” Each song brings something unique to the table and keeps you at the edge of your seat at all times. Sacrilegious Throne does an outstanding job with their vocal performance and reckless drumming throughout the EP. These guys definitely need to go on your “must hear” list if your looking for some solid black metal.

8/10

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/sacrilegiousthrone
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Isole - Born From Shadows (2011)



Two years after "Silent Ruins" was unleashed upon the Earth, Isole has returned, more focused and more powerful. For these Swedish doom masters, each release is a new journey. Their new album, "Born From Shadows," is no different. Hidden deep within these seven songs is a dark undercurrent, overflowing with emotional passages and musical prowess the likes of which we have waited for. This isn't another album of repackaged riffs and cliche lyrics. Doom metal needed a breath of dusty, smokey air. And Isole just exhaled.

The opening chords of 'The Lake" have an eerie resemblance to Marilyn Manson's cover of "Sweet Dreams" from so many years ago. But the similarities end there. The vocal power of frontman Daniel Bryntse has grown exponentially, with his solemn voice surrounding you from all sides. The depressive guitar work that you have come to expect still exists, but with a razor sharp sound that will both impress and scare you. Harsh vocals offset the gray beauty, as double kicks and cymbal crashes encompass all that comes near. The song represents an evolution of the band, taking all of the finest attributes and magnifying them in every possible way. A rich solo leads you into softer guitar work, backed by a triumphant bass line. Heavy, yet memorizing, this is the height of melancholy.

A wailing guitar introduces "Black Hours," with a bending strings commanding the opening stanzas. The low rumble of distortion echos through, the pounding of drums complimenting precisely timed chugging. Bryntse shatters the preconceptions of doom, with his vocals taking on a nearly operatic tone at times. There is an array of sound coming through your speakers, not just uncontrolled distortion. There is melody, there is emotion, and, most of all, there is a sense of despair. The chanting vocals that dominate the chorus section are as powerful as doom vocals can get, bringing chills down your spine with each note. And, oh, that lonesome church bell ringing. The synthesizer backed opening of "Born From Shadows," the title track, will start your horns into the air. You run head first into a wall of sound, from distorted guitars to pounding kicks and snares. One glorious fill after another, you are pulled deeper in the dark pit of doom. The inherent beauty of softly played guitars, albeit a haunting one, is shattered by the emergence of lightning fast drumming and a trembling bass. The return of the growling vocals is just enough to empty your bowels, feeling as if the Devil himself is speaking to you for his throne below. The pieces form a bigger whole, a bigger picture, something so often lost in the hopelessness.

The more traditional doom comes in the form of "Come To Me," with a slow, deliberate tempo. But the melody that steps forward is truly fascinating, igniting a fire in the music itself. A switch is flipped, and an entirely new track seems to burst forth. As if powerful vocals aren't enough, the more emotion-fueled lyrics cut to the heart of you, amidst the crashing cymbals. A bass line goes up and down the neck, with a doom groove unlike any I have found before. Dazzling guitar work punctuates a track that is sure to be lodged in your frontal lobe for days on end. Fans of doom, be ready. This is an instant classic. The epic "My Angel" sees a vocal harmony take center stage amongst the crushing guitar riffs. Wrapped up in a neat ten minute package is everything that an obsessed or casual doom fan could ever need in a single opus. It sways but does not fall, bends but does not break. It has elements of the death/doom subgenre, but does not follow that oft traveled path for long. Rather, it straddles it, hovers above it in a glorious piece of mastery. It is almost disheartening to think a band can construct a song this good, and make so many worthy bands look that much less worthy. This is a masterpiece that so many great bands wait a lifetime to write, and Isole may have done so so early in their career.

"Condemned" is a growlfest, with gritty, guttural vocals taking over the reigns. By now, your neck must be sore, but you must persevere. There are so many intricacies to be found in the guitar work, you simply cannot stop looking for more. From the crushing chords to the twirling hammer ons/pull offs, you will be hypnotized by all this has to offer. Again, and I cannot emphasize this enough, the melodic vocals are king, taking you to places that doom rarely goes. It isn't just his sense of melody and timing, but rather Bryntse's stunning range. This isn't the almost off-key crooning of My Dying Bride, of the deep bass of Type O Negative. This is something completely different, something stirring. But it all culminates with the closing track, aptly titled "When All Is Black," a sentiment that all in the metal community have uttered to themselves late at night. From the quiet whisper, to a more explosive burst, this is a fitting end to this journey. Short, by doom standards, but packed with one last assertion that this band, this album, this music is one for the ages.

Being a fan of the doom genre, it becomes difficult to separate the diamonds from the lumps of coal. By trying to remain true to the "traditional" style, many bands stunt their growth, simply churning out recycled riffs and vocals that are not only melancholy, but mediocre. Isole have written their own blueprint for success, and executed it to near perfection. "Born From Shadows" is not an album that will change the entire genre of doom metal, but it will change how we listen to it. We can expect more than the same old thing. Keep your ears open, and your search will be rewarded.

9.5/10

Official Site - http://www.forevermore.se/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/isole
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lethian Dreams - Just Passing By & Unreleased Requiems (2011)




A French atmospheric doom metal band by the name of Lethian Dreams has recently released their new album, entitled “Just Passing By & Unreleased Requiems.” This ten track album consists of slow melodic riffs and ravishing vocals. Most of the vocals are done by lead singer and keyboardist, Carline “Kyrinla” Van Roos.

The opening track, “Just Passing By,“ is a short introduction of warm acoustic notes with welcoming strings to guide them. This is just a little taste of what’s to come. The second song, “White Gold” is where the beauty really begins. It begins with heavily delayed guitar riffs and light strings in the background. The verse starts shortly after with a soft, gorgeous female vocals. You can feel the haunting vibrations run through you as her voice is drenched in reverb effects. Soon after electrifying guitars and smashing drums come flying in. Echoing cymbals fill the air as the guitar melodies carry you into the next verse. “The Anchor Fades” also consists of the soft glimmering acoustic riffs while Kyrinla delivers gentle vocals. The song builds up towards the middle of the track as snapping snares and explosive cymbals sneak up behind distorted guitars. The song paints a depressive image with its repetitive minor notes and slow tempos.

“In seclusion” is a seven and a half minute track that starts with eerie spoken words along with more depressive notes. Monstrous guitar riffs come blaring in as the verse begins. Kyrinla’s voice consumes you while the drums pound away. You will also run into some punishing growls throughout the song. This is accompanied by screechy chords and thumping bass lines. The switch between clean female vocals and devilish growls creates the “beauty and the beast” feel. Every time you start to drift into the soft vocals you are immediately knocked back down with harshly delivered vocals.

Another lengthy track is the following song called “For A Brighter Death.” This one runs for a total of 9 minutes and 16 second. This is pure depressive doom metal at its best. The tempo is slow as the snare and cymbal take deep breathes between each hit. Meanwhile the guitars continue to slowly chug through the verses. Kyrinla soar over the instruments with whisper like vocals which is again, drenched in reverb. You are later met with more evil growling lyrics as the guitar work starts to become more detailed with its melody. They also manage to include some more spoken word while the drums take a break and let the demonic guitar riffs shine behind them. The tempo does pick up later on towards the middle of the track with faster drum rolls and chugging guitars. The song structure, overall, is amazing. You’re definitely going to want to go back through this song a couple of times to catch every little detail.

As you continue through the album you’ll notice it just keeps getting better and better. “Under Her Wings (Mournful Whispers)” and “Elusive” are two song that you do not want to miss out on. They each run for a little over eight minutes long and have so much to offer. The guitars hold out long demonic notes in between each riff as the drums explode in the background. The vocal performance is perfect. You don’t hear as much effect on the voices like you did earlier in the album. You’ll also run into a good amount of strings that go along smoothly with the female vocals as the completely surround her. After these to incredible tracks is the outro, entitled “December’s Blame.” It’s a short two and a half minute instrumental including orchestral strings and angelic piano riffs. The eerie tones give off the feeling that there is more to come. Perhaps another album to soon follow?

As far as the recording quality of the album goes, there are some areas of the album where there is a little too much effect. It’s mainly noticeable in the vocals. Too much reverb and delay effects really take away from the beauty of her voice. Regardless you’re still going to fall in love with the vocals, it’s just that they could have been more natural and it would have all sounded a lot better. “Just Passing By & Unreleased Requiems” is an album that deserves much attention. Its angelic lyrics and soothing instruments will have you wanting more every time you play it.

8.5/10

Official Site - http://lethiandreams.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/lethiandreams
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Dark Haze - 天霾地晦 (EP) (2011)



The Asian metal scene has gained momentum in recent years, having seen more and more bands getting global recognition. Dark Haze, a melodic death metal band from Beijing, China, is looking to ride the thermal currents, right into the public eye. With a masterful grip on thrashing guitars, diverse vocal structures and all things brutally heavy, there is little doubt that this five piece has all the tools to grab a piece of the pie. On their new EP, titled "天霾地晦," they showcase their skills over the course of five grinding tracks.

Right out of the gate, you are in for a thrashing treat. "Deep Sea" is full of monster riffs just waiting to start your hair swinging. The verse vocals are gritty, screeching through lyrics like the blackest of black metal bands. But the use of the more guttural growls mixed with clean vocals is the true highlight. A ripping guitar solo layered over lightning fast drums takes you on a roller-coaster of metal riffage. There is a noticeable focus to the music, remaining heavy, but cohesive. "Rebirth After Robbery" is no different, with a dynamic guitar lead bringing the track to top speed in moments. The vocals remain impressive, hitting all of the most brutal delivery styles. Precisely timed cymbal crashes launch stop/start moments, practically telling you when your head should bob. A beautiful acoustic interlude heals your wounds, only to be followed by excellent solo work. The soundscape is so rich, focusing on how things sound together, rather than disjointed layers of distortion.

An ear piercing scream begins "Mournful Tree," with an infectious guitar groove dominating the opening measures. It is rare for an album of this style to be just as easily called "catchy," but Dark Haze are just that. The track is equally abrasive and memorable, playing one off of the other in a dark harmony of sorts. The vocals stay toward the blackened end of the spectrum, and it suits the song well. The guitar solo found in the latter half is a blitz of skill and technical prowess. The diversity of their sound is found in "Endless Wind," which displays the ability to switch to a more uptempo, almost power metal, feel. The clean vocals are the perfect compliment. There is a little bit of sloppiness in the early fret work, something that seems almost impossible given the previous material. It gains steam as the track progresses, finding a groove in a late bursting solo. The closing track, "在末世的上空" is a summary of the previous four, spanning every corner of their respective highlights. You will find the heavy, mixed seamlessly with the brilliant melodic passages. With silky smooth bass lines flowing from all angles, this is an encore waiting to happen.

I am not sure who decides how a band will be marketed to perspective fans. In this case, whoever picked "melodic death metal" as the tag line for Dark Haze should be relieved of their decision making duties. There is a tremendous amount of talent on display, and it is so easily passed over if you pigeonhole this band so carelessly. I am no lyrical wordsmith, no literally magician. But this EP, simply titled "天霾地晦," could be labeled as a "hair swinging, head banging metal assault." Better yet, I should just let the guitars speak for themselves.

8.5/10

Myspace - http://www.myspace.cn/darkhaze
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 25 (©2011 Sorrow Eternal)

When albums this great come out, we just want to talk about them. Hell22 remembers how he got into Giant Squid years ago, and discusses what makes their new album a winner. He then takes a look at the new, and possibly only album by German duo Albez Duz. Murmaider had a great week, with reviews of the latest Iced Earth Opus, "Dystopia," and a stunning new album by Junius.

But then some anger comes through. Twice over the last month, we have endured the pain in the ass of copyright infringement claims. Watchdog companies like ____ (name removed so they don't file a claim AGAIN) sit on their computers and file claims against people they THINK are breaking the law, without ever looking further. And this is yet another reason why the music industry is crumbling. Give Hell22 a break. After filling out form after form in defense of what we do, he is a little irritated.



Part 1 - http://www.mediafire.com/?t8lt86mfvr72jtb



Part 2 - http://www.mediafire.com/?t3yyfqc74g362y1
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Asphagor: The Interview

 After listening to their latest album, "Havoc", Hell22 and Murmaider sought out Asphagor for some questions about the themes, the challenges, and a unique perspective on downloading. Here is what Atlas had to say.


First and foremost, we would like to thank to you for taking the time out of your schedule to answer some questions for us. We greatly appreciate it.

Thanks a lot for this opportunity.


When Das Nichts left the band last year, and Morgoth stepped in, how did the sound and direction of the band changed? What has it been like since the line-up has been solidified?

There was not too much change. Atlas and Aeshma changed their instruments. The sound is now more variable. Morgoth has more nuances in his voice.

As for “Havoc,” what were your influences in the writing and recording of the new album? Are there any themes or concepts behind the songs?

The development of the album havoc was done in about 3 years and first we did not notice that there was a concept behind the songs, and then when we finished recording the album it right came into our sight that chaos was the concept behind our music.

The album artwork creates a stirring image of destruction. Can you give us any insight into the photo that graces the cover of “Havoc”?

Well Axis did the cover art work, and we only wanted to create a dark image that fits right to the music.

The album production was very crisp and clean. What made you decide to go for the cleaner production, as opposed to the traditional raw sound?

Nobody wants to buy and listen to shitty produced music which sounds like a vacuum cleaner. This is not really worth the money.

Black metal musicians are always lumped into the same stereotypes; Satan worshippers, church burners, etc. What are your feelings on those stereotypes, and in particular, the scenario of burning churches?

We do not really identify our selves with those people although we also play black metal. It seems to us as if this is only for entertaining purposes and there is no real need or sense behind this stupidness.

The metal scene in Austria is a mystery to the fans in the US. So, what is it like to be a metal artist in Austria, and more specifically, a black metal artist?

So there is a scene in austria but we don't really feel that we are a part of it, and we don't have much insider knowledge about the scene in general.

The video for the song “Havoc,” a track that will be included in the first Sorrow Eternal Sampler disc, has started an argument around the office. What is video about, and who came up with the concept behind it?

Thanks for this honour. The concept was done by morgoth and axis. The video itself should be interpreted by your self.

What bands do you find yourselves listening to in your spare time? Do your tastes fall more to metal, or do you find yourself listening to things outside the genre?

Everybody in our band is into different kinds of music our taste goes from Black metal to Synthie Pop.

How has social media, like Facebook and Myspace, affected the way you communicate with your fans? Do you find they have been an effective tool to spread your message?

It is a great opportunity to advertise our gigs, and spread news about the band. It also makes this things easier.

On the opposite side of that thought, what are your thoughts on the downloading of music? How has the illegal distribution of music affected your lives as musicians?

It is shit, but on the other hand, who cares.


What are your plans for the future of Asphagor? Are there any plans to take this project abroad?

Yes indeed, we want to play abroad, but it is not easy to organize gigs in other countries with no help of local promoters/bands.

We are writing on a new album at the time which is going to be more variable and heavier.
We have 5 songs finished so far and it will not last very long to unleash these bastard songs on cd.
The new album is going to be produced by patrick w. engel.


Thank you again for allowing us to ask these questions. We appreciate the time, and wish you the best of luck with the album, and future efforts.

Thank you too.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Entropia - Chimera (EP) (2011)



It’s interesting to see how bands can tweak their sound just a little and be able to stand out and be different. Entropia does exactly that. These guys are a post-metal band from Poland and offer some black metal vibes to their sound. The album is only three songs long however the songs do get kind of lengthy. They include a lot of progressive riffs and gorgeous melodies that flow together smoothly. Also, be ready for a mixture of calm singing and wicked growling.

The first track is called “Limits,” and runs for over 13 and a half minutes long. It starts with dark piano notes followed by calm futuristic guitar riffs and quiet kick and snare patterns. The riffs are constantly striking keeping you drawn to the melody and drilling it into your head. It’s not until about four minutes in that you are hit with vocals. What’s interesting is that the vocals play more of a background instruments than they do a lead vocal line. The guitars become more aggressive as the tempo in the drums start to pick up speed as well. Soon after comes some demonic deep growls as cymbals continue to splash from left to right. After about six minutes in all of the instruments drop and a dark piano riff sneaks in. The low rumbling drums add an eerie tone to the mix as a guitar slowly joins in as well. This is all smooth and mellow and first but don’t get too comfortable. Eventually the distortion turns on full blast with skull crushing guitar riffs that chug away as more clean vocals reenter. The drumming starts to add more detail to the riffs as well. There’s a lot going on in this track so make sure listen closely or feel free to hit that replay button a couple of times.

“Mermaid” is the second song on the album and kicks things off with eerie strings that is followed by a repetitive guitar riff carrying haunting tones. Heavy reverb effects allow the guitars to surround you as you slowly fall deeper into the song. Snare and kick patterns constantly change up in the background while strings continue to provide a layer of darkness. About half way through the song comes violent growling as the guitars pick up speed and throw distorted riffs at you beating you into the ground. The snares is constantly smashing away with crazy drum fills. Again the vocals stay faded in the background providing more a an instrument feel instead of a vocal effect. The guitars are really what take over this song as the riffs continue to get heavier and heavier as piano notes weave in and out at certain moments in the song. The structure of this track is just phenomenal. There’s even a monstrous breakdown at the end that will have you throwing you’re fists in the air immediately.

The last track entitled “∞” is a beautiful instrumental that fades in with a melodic bass line and bright cymbals crashing in the background. The lead guitar comes is shortly after with soothing riffs as drum fills start to take over the background. The lead guitar switches to a high screeching sound that represents a vocal. Each note is played with incredible speed making it sound like one long note. The melody is really catchy and will definitely be stuck in your head for a while. I found myself replaying this track quite often when first hearing it.

Entropia does a great job creating an atmospheric image in “Chimera.” The melodic guitars and bass lines really set the mood and give the music an emotional push. And although the album is only three songs long, each track has its own part and really keep the album diverse as it changes back and forth between aggressiveness and slow psychedelic tones. This is an album you don’t want to miss!

8.5/10

Myspace.com - http://www.myspace.com/mourningentropia
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Giant Squid - Cenotes (2011)


Several years ago, following the direction of a trusted musician, I became enthralled with a San Francisco, California based band called Giant Squid. Their new album at the time, "The Ichthyologist," consumed many hours of my life over the last few years. The album wasn't just good, it was altogether mind blowing. This was post-sludge metal of epic proportions, glued together with an ever present cello. Three years later, the world is finally rested enough to digest another effort, this one titled "Cenotes." Brace yourself. This one is going to hit you hard.

From the opening notes of "Tongue Stones (Megaptera Megachasmacarcharias)," there is no doubt this is Giant Squid at their best. The winding cello melodies are backed by the light tapping of drums and a low bass lines. Those raspy vocals we have come to know so well enter, leading you further. The eruption of distortion and heavy kick drums slaps you across the face, igniting the coarse screams. The guitars, while increasing heavy, remain slow and deliberate. This is unpolished, murky sludge, but with something that defies description. A constant presence of the cello sets this apart from the genre, giving each track a unique feel. Even as guitars, drums and bass crash around it, the cello remains daring, with lightning fast movements and notes. More uptempo moments come later in the track, with the guitars finally joining the strings in a high octane assault, ending in a final blast.

Much like the album that struck me years ago, this one has its share of beauty. "Mating Scars (Isurus Metridium)" starts so delicately. Even as the rest of the band joins in the fray, there is an airy quality to the vocals, which, when combined with the instrumentation, will induce a head nod or two. The cello is the melody, with the guitars playing rhythm. Aquatic themes dominate the lyrics, but not in cheesy way. There is an undeniable nautical element to the music, reinforced by the vocals. "Uncanny, I sailed straight to thee, in tonic immobility, One drop in a million." A poetic approach to a style of music that is so often classified as tasteless and mindlessly heavy. The purity in the singing is worth noting, with no effects, no pitch correction present. Slightly off key at times, but always potent, singer Aaron Gregory is the captain on the vessel, setting a course for dynamic harmony.

The clean guitar riff that opens "Snakehead (Channidae Erectus)" is as catchy as anything the band has ever written. Throw in the kick/snare/cymbal drumming, smooth bass and a weaving cello line, and you have all the makings of a hit. The vocals enter, light and breathy. The mood seems to take a lighter turn, with cellist Jackie Perez Glatz even lending her voice to the song. The tangled nature of the instruments leaves a lasting impression on you, with cello, guitar, bass and drums becoming one entity. Undoubtedly, this is the song that steps the furthest from the labels the band has gathered over the years. It stays light, almost psychadelic at times, before seeing a burst of distortion and blasting drums. A few furious rolls later, the track fades to a close.

A building flurry of drums fades into range on "Figura Serpentinata (Pycnopodia Sapien)" before a full on barrage of percussion hits you. By far the shortest track on the album, this could be the one that ropes in new fans. The cello melody is stirring, and the drums are aggressively played. Layers of vocals rest atop the growing pile of sound, delivering cryptic rhymes of lyrical content. "Don’t let them know what the child can do, Growing back three where there was two, And keep his reach contralateral." The combinations of all of these pieces creates a beast unlike any you have ever heard. The rumbling low end will shake you, while the beauty of the strings holds you tight.
 
An epic album closer, "The Cenotes (Troglocambarus Maclanei)" wastes no time getting to top speed. Uptempo drumming and a dominating guitar riff light the fire, and the cello adds the gasoline. A surprisingly restrained vocal enters, one that seems to be a departure from the earlier efforts. The pounding of drums is a constant in this one, carving out a piece of the action with each down stroke. Unlike the previous tracks, the guitar melody is the lead, while the cello is the rhythm, both benefiting from the dazzling low end bass line. Just as you think the track has taken it's last breath, it fades out to a softer melody of guitar and cello. The spark rekindles the flame, and the cello heavy sludge returns. "A millennium ago, my father was of my age, rumor has it, I look just like him."

Do a search for Giant Squid on Google, or your favorite search engine. After sifting through the sites about the actual creature, you will be told that this band is nautical, avant, stoner, sludge, doom, progressive rock/progressive metal. Yes, they are all of the above. And yes, it sounds like a ridiculous way to describe this or any other band. But the fact of the matter is they are a fusion of so many things, that it becomes impossible to classify them. So, forget about genres, forget about labels. Listen to "Cenotes," read through the lyrics, and hear what you've been missing.

9/10


Official Site - http://giantsquidlives.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/giantsquid
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Junius - Reports From The Threshold Of Death (2011)

 


More bands are attempting the futuristic “space rock” genre and are starting to get a little more noticed. Post metal band Junius hits this nail on the head beautifully. They have released a new album called “Reports From The Threshold Of Death.” This is the bands second full length album and it definitely deserves some attention. This album has tons of psychedelic sounds and futuristic tones mixed with calm vocals and catchy hooks.

The first track on the album is “Betray The Grave” which quietly fades in with eerie synthesizers. Shortly after come blaring guitars with tremendous distortion. Snares and kicks are exploding in the background while cymbals crash in the distance. This will definitely have you bobbing your head. The verse enters with soft clean vocals delivering a soothing melody along side the instruments. And if you enjoy these vocals, just wait until the chorus kicks in. It gets even better. As the song builds up to the refrain the guitars become more relentless with heavy riffs. The vocalist soars high over the instruments with his ravishing voice and deep lyrics. The melody will run through your head for days as you find yourself singing along every time you hear it. What a way to open up this moving album.

“All Shall Float” is one of the most passionate tracks on the album. Make sure you check out the lyrics to this song as you’ll find them to be quite enjoyable. The reason I say that this is so passionate is because of how the vocals are performed. There is so much emotion and raw energy from the lead singer which draws a clear image of his expressions. The verse consist of harsh guitars chugging heavily in the background while the vocals lay gently on top. Meanwhile you are completely consumed by the melodic synths that float behind everything. The tempo is slow throughout the song yet the drums are booming with each and every fill. The refrain grabs you and pulls you deep into the song and you are later surrounded by little voices chanting all around you. “A Universe Without Stars” is another great track that really captures your ear with its heavy guitars and gorgeous refrains. You are completely knocked on your ass when the chorus hits. The pulverizing drums will amazing you as detailed rolls hit you every single second. The vocal performance is just phenomenal. Everything from the lyrics to the quality of the recording, everything is just perfect and on point.

Synthesizers are used heavily in “Haunts For Love” giving that futuristic feel to the album. Drums roll into each verse as snares constantly pound away at you. The vocals are very calm with mellow lyrics that are full heavy reverb. The drum pattern in the bridge towards the end changes dramatically as the melody of the vocals shifts as well. Definitely an interesting track to hear. This of course runs right into “The Meeting Of Pasts.” This one starts out with a catchy melodic synth that fades in with strings backing it up. The snare starts out quiet and slowly builds up to the verse. Distorted guitars step back in as they play lightly in the background. You then come across the chorus which has echoing vocals with more beautiful lyrics. The guitars pick up as well adding a little more heaviness to the track,

Another “must hear” song on this album is track number nine, entitled “Transcend The Ghost.” When I first heard this song I could not stop listening to it. It’s a 5 minute song that starts with calm guitar riffs leaving out the reckless distortion. The verse starts right way and goes perfect with the melody. Futuristic synths join in as drums also begin to crack away at the snares and cymbals. As soon as you reach the chorus you are met with distorted guitars that chug away in a simple pattern following the bass and drums. You’ll be nodding your head from this point on in the song. The refrain is so catchy with its repetitive lyrics and mesmerizing melodies. It will really put your mind at ease. If there’s one song you had to hear from this album, this would be it.

If you’re looking for some catchy tunes with a twist of psychedelic synths and heavy drumming and guitars then “Reports From The Threshold Of Death” is definitely an album I suggest checking out. Keep in mind it’s post metal so don’t expect any breakdowns or violent instruments however the band does manage to give a progressive feel in some of there songs as well as future like tones and fascinating lyrics. Junius has shown that they have much to offer and definitely deserve a couple of listens. So check’em out!

9/10

Official Site - http://www.juniusmusic.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/junius
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Albez Duz - Albez Duz (2011)



From the German capital of Berlin, comes occult doom metallers Albez Duz. The project of two like souls, the band take doom metal to even darker and more heart wrenching places than many thought possible. On their self titled album, they look to infuse traditional doom with the likes of Pink Floyd. And with the passing of singer Lars earlier this year, this album is a testament to their collective vision.

Haunting feedback opens the album, as "Missa Lunaris" begins. The drums enter with a resounding boom, and distorted guitars echo in the distance. The low rumble builds, with the constant thud of kick drums leading the way. This is down tempo doom in the purest form. The vocals enter with a unique sound, more of a melodic speech occupying the early stages. A deep, throaty clean singing takes over later, taking the My Dying Bride sound to even deeper levels. The background noises are frightening, with the cold breeze of an autumn night chilling you. Keyboards provide the atmosphere and drums provide the beat, with sparing guitars coming and going. Softly spoken words creep in and out, as if from beyond the grave. The heavier moments approach, with guitar strings bending into twisted notes that cry from the dark. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, only darkness.

A flurry of drums and guitars launch "Rev. In Blood," completely contrary to what the track before it had displayed. But soon, the activity calms and we are back into the darkest of doom. There is something eerie about the vocal patterns as they are layered over music that would feel at home in a cemetery. The drums cut through it all, crystal clear and thunderous, shaking you to your very core. Th downtuned chugging, with harsh distortion accenting each spoken word. It all descends into a rolling drum solo of sorts, pounding away at every kick, snare and tom in site. A ghostly guitar melody pulls you back on track,  taking you by the hand and leading you down a path of despair and sadness.

"Redeemer" is a complete work, with well thought out instrumentation coming together in an otherworldly way. Keyboards provide an ambiance, a foundation for everything else to be built on. The vocals can't help but bring to mind a hybrid of My Dying Bride's Aaron Stainthorpe and Peter Steele, fallen frontman of Type O Negative. Rolling double kicks and light guitar melodies see this through to the end, without falling victim to the dreaded over extension that doom bands so often try. Likewise, "Going Nowhere" begins with a bang, and carries out its purpose with precise and well delivered bursts. The band even break from the traditional doom tempo and choose to push forward with high speed drumming. The lyrics speak to thoughts of sorrow and loss, painting an ever fading picture of life. The atmospheric use of keyboards in the outro portion leaves a cold mist around you.

The instrumental track, "Leichenhain" could easily find an niche as a horror movie score, with organs filling the air. The track is rolling thunder incarnate, with a never ending supply of kicks and snares demolishing everything in their path. The bass line that creeps in and out of your sonic path is smooth, yet somehow frightening. The soft interludes of organ and tapping of cymbals combine flawlessly with clean guitar plucking. It cuts through the gloom to the heart. The closing track is unlike anything else the album has to offer, seeing a more uptempo approach, reminiscent of seventies psychedelic rock. By far the shortest track on the album, it sees some more colorful instrumentation, from the guitars to some vocal chanting.

Far too often, doom projects trip over their own feet, trying to hard to be heavy, both musically and contextually. Though perceived to be one of the easier sub-genres of metal to make, doom is one of the more difficult to perfect. Albez Duz do an admirable job of creating an album that is both dark and sorrowful, without being pretentious. It remains to be seen where the band will go from here, especially after the passing of their singer. But I fully expect that will provide countless inspiration for a sophomore album.

7.5/10

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/albezduz
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Iced Earth - Dystopia (2011)



March 3rd, 2011 was a said day for Iced Earth fans, as lead singer Matt Barlow announced his retirement from the band. Band mainman John Schaffer later announced that the lead singer of Into Eternity, Stu Block, would be taking over vocal duties for Iced Earth's new album “Dystpoia”. After listening to the album, there is definitely some ups and downs throughout the tracks. Musically it’s amazing but vocally… well, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

You’re immediately hit with marching snares in “Dystopia.” Electrifying guitar riffs run through octaves with catchy melodies as they carry you to the verse. Chugging guitars take over with fast drum patterns behind them. This all sounds like good old Iced Earth. However, the vocals are a whole different story. Block has some aggressive clean singing vocals in the beginning of the verse but then switches to this really high screaming voice that gets kind of annoying. The delivery in the high pitch vocals just doesn’t sound right. He goes back to the aggressive singing during the rest of the verse, and that sounds pretty good. But that high screaming just puts a damper on the song. You’ll really enjoy the refrain though. The lyrics are great and the melody in the vocals is very catchy. This part is the part we all know and love from Iced Earth.

The mood slows down with “Anthem,” which starts with slow none distorted guitars gently hitting gorgeous chords. The drums sneak in quietly with soft hi hats and other cymbals. Keeping the same melody, distortion kicks on with blaring riffs and snapping snares and kicks. The verse comes in with clear vocals that soar over the instruments, leading right into the chorus. You’ll definitely be singing along after hearing this one a few times. Guitars are slammed in the background leaving you bobbing your head to the melody. Block gets a lot better in this song, as he shows off some of his power metal vocals in the refrain at the end. As the music fades you run into a wall of guitar riffs in “Boiling Point.” The vocals jump right in with more rough clean singing in the verse while complex double bass pedaling runs wild in the background. The drum fills are mind blowing and full of speed. There are a few parts where that annoying high pitch scream comes in, but it’s not as bad as the first track. Surprisingly, this track is less than three minutes long.

Next thing you know, you’re moving right along into “Anguish Of Youth.” It’s starts out calm with soothing guitars and light drumming. The vocals in the verse are kind of weird. This is where you’re really gonna wish you had Barlow back. The clean singing just doesn’t have that delivery that an Iced Earth singer should have. It actually makes me think of the “bro” singing that Avenged Sevenfold does in their newer material. It just doesn’t have that heavy metal feel to it. The song is saved, however, with the catchy chorus. This is where the vocals get a lot better. The lyrics are performed in an aggressive manor while blaring distorted guitars play along with them. If you can get passed the weak verses then you’ll really enjoy the rest.

The album gets heavier with monstrous guitar riffs in “V.” The booming drums will have you pumping your fists in no time. The verses contain nothing but pure solid clean vocals. The chorus is the best part as both Block and Schaffer sing together while chugging guitars blast through the background. There’s even a part where they’re chanting loudly towards the end which really reminds you of some of their older albums. Also, there is a beast of a solo towards the end where the guitar is just murdering the musical scales one note at a time. Definitely make sure you check this track out.

I was a little iffy with “Dark City” at first because of some of the vocals. Soothing clean vocals echo in the beginning over soft guitar notes. Then out of no where comes more high pitch screaming. I was very tempted to just skip the track. Good thing I didn’t though, because the rest of the track is amazing. The drums kick in with detailed rolls that’ll have you bashing you head left and right. The vocals become harsh as they prepare you for the chorus. Catchy lyrics come flying in with chugging guitar riffs and blasting drum fills. This is followed by another pulverizing guitar solo. Later enters the bridge where the guitars are just relentless with catchy melodic riffs. Meanwhile the snare pounds away at you beating you into the ground. This will definitely leave you wanting to play this track again.

Jumping to “End Of Innocence,” things start out slow again with acoustic guitars and light drumming. Block does some clean singing that boarders the “bro” vocals that I mentioned earlier. However, it gets better as the distortion comes in. The vocals in the refrain are awesome as you're hit with catchy lyrics that you’ll find yourself singing along to immediately. Also the guitar work between verses is absolutely stunning. There are lots of wild solo parts that really take over the mood of the song. This leads to the last song “Tragedy And Triumph” which runs for a lengthy seven and a half minutes long. Snapping snares march in with distorted guitar notes along side of them. This builds up for about a minute and a half until the verse finally drops. Here you’re hit with thunderous double bass pedaling and uplifting guitar riffs. The vocals are delivered with harsh aggressive tones. Overall the song isn’t anything that really stands out from the album but if you pick up the deluxe version of the album you’ll find that there are three bonus tracks. Now these song definitely stand out and are a great way to close out the album. The songs are “Soylent Green,” “Iron Will,” and “Anthem (String Mix).” Make sure you get the deluxe edition because you do not want to miss out on these great tracks.

Overall, “Dystopia” is another successful album. Iced Earth manages to keep their sound and style of music even though Barlow is no longer with them. As far as the new singer goes, Stu Block does a great job for the most part. I can imagine that filling in as Barlows position isn’t an easy task and although there are some parts that don’t quite fit, most of the vocals stay aggressive and strong throughout the album. It’ll be interesting to hear them live. But definitely make sure you pick up the album. It’s definitely worth it.

8.5/10

Official Site - http://www.icedearth.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/icedearth
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