Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline (2012)



Once known for their dark and yet gorgeous female fronted gothic metal, Lacuna Coil has taken an even bigger step in the wrong direction than any fan has ever feared. The Italian outfit has released their sixth studio album, entitled “Dark Adrenaline.” We were able to put up with the reckless off key vocals of male singer Andrea Ferro in their previous album, “Shallow Life,” however the new album just goes too far.

“Trip The Darkness” was the first single that the band released from the album. It’s also the opening track on the album. The music starts out pretty decent as thunderous drumming accompanies heavy blaring guitars that make you want to bob your head. But just as you get comfortable with the melody, Ferro comes in with his sour voice and ruins everything. Cristina Scabbia does her part to aid the chorus but it’s too late. The damage has already been done. The only difference between this song and songs like “Against You” and “Upsidedown” is that the band felt that Ferro’s vocals need delay and echo effects instead. So not only do you get to hear his god awful vocals but you get to hear it echo around you and ring in your head for days.

When you have a talented female singer in your band, you need to let her sing. “I Don’t Believe In Tomorrow” allows her to show off some of her gorgeous vocals in the verses but once the refrain kicks in it’s all Ferro the entire time. You’ll go from bobbing you’re head to the monstrous guitar riffs and rumbling drum rolls to shaking your head in disgust of such horrible male vocals.

Tracks like “Kill The Light” and “Intoxicated” are fine. They lean more towards a more rock type of feel but they contain catchy melodies in both the verses and the refrains. They also have little male vocal parts in them. Scabbia is able to take control of these songs and guide the instruments with her melodic vocals with no interruptions. Unfortunately “The Army Inside” goes right back to Ferro opening the first verse and hitting you with some terribly flat vocals that will make you skip to the next track immediately. If you end up making it through this track you will run into a nice little guitar solo towards the end with notes that destroy the musical scale. But is this solo worth the pain?

For all of you R.E.M. fans out there, you’ll find that Lacuna Coil covered “Losing My Religion.” Scabbia sings all the verses and she does a great job as well. Sorry to disappoint you but Ferro does that catchiest part of the song, the chorus. His raspy whining completely destroys this song. You will never listen to that track the same ever again.

The only track that I would say to definitely listen to before you dismiss this album all together is the final track, entitled "My Spirit" The verses are sung by Ferro and it's terrible but that's not important. Get pass that and listen to the refrain. Scabbia's vocal performance is absolutely ravishing and stunning in every way. This track proves that Scabbia still has it even with all of the flashy lights and distracting fame that has been around her.

From the looks of things, it seems like the band has really forgotten about their original sound and what people really liked them for and instead focused to much on the fame and attention that they’ve been getting. If it weren’t for Scabbia looking as good as she does, no one would want to listen to this band any more. They let Ferro do way too much singing in this album and it hurt them. I really hope that the band wakes up soon and starts putting out that good old Lacuna sound that we once knew.

4/10

Official Site - http://www.lacunacoil.it/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/lacunacoil
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Haze - Silent Deception (EP) (2012)



This all seems so familiar. Female fronted metal from Italy, with powerful vocals, and a strong mix of guitars and keys. The beauty of it all, when it comes to Winter Haze, is that this isn't the same old song and dance. A little heavier than current Lacuna Coil output, with a touch more opera than Nightwish can muster in the post-Tarja era, and a dose of growling that the likes of After Forever could be proud of. Frontwoman Giorgia has all of the vocal range necessary to paint the town red. In four songs, and a mere 17 minutes, "Silent Deception" gives you plenty to look forward to.

Despite the pedigree, the last thing you would expect to open a symphonic power metal track like "Cross The Sea" would be a smooth saxophone. The light synthesizers tie together the down tuned chugging guitars, with the sizzle of cymbals. Giorgia's voice is versatile, as is evident in the first switch from verse to chorus. She can change from standard register singing to a more operatic style, flawlessly. The track is straightforward, without any major twists or turns, but executed so well. Even the guitar solo is understated, but spot on. Unlike it's predecessor, "Vacuum" skips the subtleties, with a vicious attack springing from the gate, punctuated with a fierce growl. The trading male and female vocals sit so gently atop a pulverizing burst of drums. Even as she slips into the soprano register, a deathly growl chills you to the bone. The solo work here is excellent, adding another dimension to the overall soundscape. It transitions smoothly back into high speed, finishing with a flurry.

The title track to the EP, "Silent Deception," begins with a light use of electronics. Giorgia enters, her voice soaring over the top of an increasing bass line. This is the track that best displays the use of keys and synthesizers, a haunting element when used properly. The vocal mix has a slight crack in the armor in the middle sections, with the combined male and female vocals drowning out much of what goes on underneath. A blistering solo brings the track back to even, allowing for a strong finish. The building trio of vocals at tracks end, male, female, and growling, does wonders. The finale, a track titled "The Watchmaker," is as precise as the craft itself. Layers upon layers of sound come together, with the keyboards seeing a starring role. As with previous songs, the multiple vocal tracks come together in a beautiful harmony of opposites. A thunderous roll of double kicks and snares builds the density to near backbreaking weight. The solo, again, is light but effective, carrying a certain level of soul from start to finish.

All of the pieces are in place, and Winter Haze will only improve with time. There is a lack of lateral movement, choosing to stick with a formula that works. And while this isn't entirely a bad thing, it can lead to a full length album that may prove to be a touch too predictable and safe. As an exhibition, this is a collection of four songs that says, "this is what we can do, make sure you listen." And with an EP that takes less time to listen to than it takes to make a frozen pizza, it makes a statement: put away the DiGiorno. "Silent Deception" is far more satisfying.

8/10

Official Site - http://www.winterhaze.it/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/mywinterhaze
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 34 (Random shit with Chester)

After battling illness for weeks at a time, Murmaider and Hell22 are feeling fine and fancy free. Murmaider has some great new stuff to point out, with the new EP from Finland's Frozenbleed, and an old EP from his favorite artists.... Mastodon. Hell22, on the other hand, went to familiar territory. When a new Swallow The Sun album is released, you know the headquarters is buzzing with activity. "Emerald Forest And The Blackbird" is everything we had been waiting for.

But wait, do you hear what I hear? Who is that voice? It sounds so.... familiar. Yes, folks, Chester has returned. After some time away to direct the new movie "The Dugout," as well as penning "Heaven Help Us,"  he is back to join in our roundtable discussion of some random shit. From Lacuna Coil's cover song, to the rise of vinyl, we are all over the place. And damn, does it feel good.



SOPA be damned, part one can be downloaded, legally, here.



PIPA can suck a dick, part two is also available for legal US download here.
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

In Loving Memory: The Interview

Juanma, lead singer from Spain's very own In Loving Memory, sat down to answer questions from our very own Hell22 and Murmaider. Here's his take on songwriting, the new album "Negation Of Life," and touring.







First and foremost, we want to thank you for your time, and the opportunity to conduct
this interview. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

First of all we want to thank Sorrow Eternal for the opportunity of being interviewed by you.

When the band was formed, it was initially a female fronted act. What led to the decision to go away from that style?

Because we always liked guttural male vocals but never had a chance to get them because in our area is difficult to find a guttural singer that suited well with our style, so we decided to try with female. But after some time we went back to the original idea but had the same problem: inexistence of male vocalist capable to carry the heavy duty of singing, so after a long search Juanma took the vocal work teaching himself to sing in the proper way for our style and now there’s no turn back.

In the formative process, as well as the current line-up, who were some of your influences, musically? What is the writing process like for In Loving Memory, from idea to finished song?

We always liked classic doom metal bands such as My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost, but scandinavian melodic death ones as well such as In Flames, Dark Tranquillity or At The Gates, so we tried to guide our music in that way. Of course these examples are a narrow line to follow because we also like tons of diverse bands, from brutal death metal to symphonic rock, so I think we can say that all the music we
hear is suitable to be influence for us in some way.

The writing process usually goes in this way: Juanma comes to the rehearsal room with a riff, a bunch of riffs or even a whole song. When this happens, Jorge and Juanma start jammin’ to create a second guitar line and sometimes a song structure. When it’s finished both “J”s teach the song to Raul and Igor and when its done, Jorge and Alberto create the keyboard lines and arrangements. We play the song several times and when
we decide it has the right structure and melodies, Juanma writes the lyrics and start rehearsal with vocals. That’s the normal process, but sometimes we just start jamming for fun and play something interesting that we can use to create a riff or a song.

There is some tremendous songwriting on the album. Specifically, the song titles are very powerful. What inspired the lyrical content of the album and how personal are the songs to you?

Well, Juanma is the one that put the names to the songs as well creates the lyrics, so when he’s in the songwritting process he tries to adecuate the lyric to the emotion that he feels when listening to the music and names the song acordingly. Of course the title of each song must be unique and powerfull, because is the “trademark” of the song.

The themes that inspire Juanma’s visions written in words for this album come from the idea of the good and evil duality, God and Devil, religion, pain, love and suffering. Almost every powerful feeling can be described in ambiguous way but with a simple words in order that can be understood easily.

"Shimmering Divinity" is a song that Murmaider is singing the praises of. Which song would you pick out as your favorite, and which song best summarizes your style for a new listener?

For me, Juanma, would be “November Cries”, a complex a rich evolution-structured song with double guitars soloing, catchy and syncopated rythms, a break in the middle of the song to create a new scenario, both whispering and guttural vocals and a pure doomy theme, like the death of a son and a wife and the desperation of husband for continue with his life. The first part of the song, before the break tells the history of the life loss and in the second part the efforts for being gathered again in death.

I think the best song for a new listener could be “Negation Of Life”, because it contains all the elements we usually introduce in our songs as acoustic parts, double guitar melodies, clean and guttural vocals and heavy rythms full of emotion. It’s a good showroom of our style mixing doom and death parts.

The album artwork is both simple, but very powerful. What inspired the image, and who provided the picture itself?

Well, is not as simple as it seems like our music. We always do things with a double sense: complex work inside a simple carcass . The cover artwork looks simple because the use of the famous crying angel statue that stands the pass of time at Lakeview Cemetary in Cleveland, Ohio, but it’s not the unique image you can find in the double-size cover. The image that is not shown due booklet fold is a mix of a church and an industry. The angel represents the pure, good and divine creation and the church and industry the bad, sick and mankind creation, that rejects the gift of life given by superior beings, which is also the title of the album, “Negation of Life”.

Also inside the booklet, every song has a different image under the words that represents the meaning of the song. We invite everyone to read the lyrics while listening to the music and watch the images of the booklet in order to better comprehension.

Last year, we conducted an interview with fellow Spanish death/doom band Helevorn. When asked about the metal scene in Spain at that time, they said that the genre had really begun to explode, with tons of great new bands gaining notoriety. How would you classify the current metal scene in your home country?

Yes, there’s a lot of new promising bands emerging from spanish underground. Some of them as Angelus Apatrida or Diabolus in Musica are now well known due contracts with first line record labels, but still a bunch of good others waiting for be known.

We are always interesting in knowing who our favorite musicians are listening to when they aren't writing or recording themselves. So, what bands, artists, singers, rappers, etc have you guys been stuck on recently? With 2011 just passed, could you pick an "album of the year" from those you have heard?

I, Juanma, am listening pretty much to Sybreed, Gojira, Orphaned Land, Abigail Williams, Decapitated, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Amorphis. Mmmmm. Album of the year?. Probably Decapitated’s “Carnival is Forever”

The major label part of metal is a puzzle to most. You seem to have found a good home with Solitude Productions, which is also the home of some of our favorite new bands (Mare Infinitum, Fading Waves, Tears Of Mankind). How did your partnership with Solitude come to be, and what do you think of their growing stable of artists?

Well, we send our job to some labels, big and small and after some answers, we decide that the best suiting record label for our music should be and small specialized one such as Solitude Productions. We are not in this bussiness for the money, but for reaching the biggest portion of people, that can be interested in our music, that is possible and with a doom based record label is easy to get this than with a biggest label with more diverse bands.

Solitude Productions has a good number of bands with them, such as Echo or Helevorn that we like very much

Touring plans for the band seem to be few and far between. What has lead to the sparse shows thus far and do you have some bigger plans in the works?

We perform live shows as much as we can. Our jobs and personal situations make the option of touring a lot very complex and difficult, so we gig as much as possible.

With the new album out, and some positive reviews coming in, what is next for In Loving Memory?

Well, now we’re planning a new album, so currently we’re writing new songs. We’ve two of them finished yet. The last year, 2011, has been complicated because we change drummer so we need to re-arrange some songs to the new drummer habilities but at the end of 2011 we were forced to hire a new drummer, so we started again with that process and the time for writing new songs was terrible limited as you can imagine. But
now that the matters go in the right direction we’ll go faster.

The new songs are stronger in terms of rythmn structure and riffing but with sensible and emotionful melodies as well, which is very important in our music.

Thank you again for taking time out to do this with us. We appreciate your time, and the music that you have crafted. We are looking forward to seeing a successful career for you guys!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity of this piece of written history! We’ll meet again for sure, so you know you have here a collection of friends! Stay metal!
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Indecadence - Elephant (2012)



Indecadence is a seven piece metal band from Badalona, Spain that list themselves as a death/doom band. They have released a new album, entitled “Elephant.” You will hear a lot of industrial tones in this album as well as you come across some interesting synth sound effect in some of the tracks. It’s got some intense growling vocals and vicious guitar riffs so you’re definitely in for a treat.

The album starts out with “Diario De Un Difunto” which opens with slow moving futuristic synthesizers that introduce soft acoustic guitar riffs. This two and a half minute introduction really paints an interesting image as you continue to the next track. “Tryouts” fades right in with sharp snare patterns and double bass pedals. They are surrounded by more synths and string sound effects as distorted guitars slow make their way to the front of the stage. The verses contain monstrous growls that crush everything in its way. Later you are also met with gorgeous clean vocals that echo across the guitars and synths. They use interesting sound effects on their instruments during the bridge that really give an outer space type of sound.

Punishing Guitar riffs come rumbling in along with crystal clear synth melodies that grab your ear immediately. The constant double bass pedal drumming will keep you head bobbing throughout the entire track. The guitars are relentless with their heavy chugging performance. Meanwhile you are completely knocked down by the wicked growls that fly straight towards you. They use delays are certain parts of the clean vocals that give off a unique sound as well. This is definitely one of the more powerful tracks on the album. You’re met with a ticking clock at the beginning of “Lost again.” Blaring guitars soon enter with splashing cymbals and booming drum rolls. The detailed fills are very addicting when first hearing this song. You’re definitely going to have to re listen to this track a few times to catch everything. An eerie piano riff floats in the background while the verse are filled with more terrifying growls. The synthesizers really draw you in closer with their catchy melodies. The only thing that through me off was the clean vocals towards the end. They sound completely off key and off tempo with the beat. I’m not really sure what they were trying to go for with this clean vocal noise. Besides that the track is pretty fucking heavy.

Another interesting song that will really catch your attention is the song “Elephant.” It’s an instrumental track that runs for over six minutes long and constantly changes in structure. This track really shows off the bands musical talents. It starts with angelic piano riffs which creep in slowly. Soon after comes synth sounds that give off strong industrial tones. The drumming sounds programmed as you will hear constant high hats at fast speeds. The strings float harmlessly in the background as you are swept off of your feet with relaxing piano melodies. You could definitely picture this as a score to a movie.

The final track on the album really goes above and beyond with everything that it consists of. The song is called “Inside” and it’s got everything from soothing strings and calm clean vocals to rocky drum rolls, machine gun kick drums, and deep demonic growling. The drum fills are constantly changing pattern as they add a layer of chugging guitars on top mixed with a light piano riff that carries over perfectly. The guitars roar recklessly in the middle of the song as they are followed by beastly growls and rapid double bass pedal drumming. By the end of this song you’re going to be rushing to hit the replay button for sure!

Overall “Elephant” contains some strong song writing and jaw dropping drum rolls throughout the album. The growling vocals stand strong and give you a solid performance every time they come rolling though. The clean vocals however are sort of a hit or miss. Sometimes they fit perfect with the track while other times they just sound completely off. A lot of the riffs come off as a type of chugging breakdown but manage to keep a groovy melody from verse to verse. Also the synth melodies are phenomenal and will definitely keep you at the edge of your seat. Make sure you give this album a listen.

8/10

Official Site - http://www.indecadence.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/indecadence
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Swallow The Sun - Emerald Forest And The Blackbird (2012)



Swallow The Sun is a band that needs no introduction. If you have perused this site once or twice, or even listened to one of our 30+ podcasts, you are certainly familiar with the band, their catalog, and the months of anticipation that we have endured before the release of their new album, "Emerald Forest And The Blackbird." Boasting some of the most well rounded and profound song structure to date, along with an album cover that will haunt you in your dreams, this Finnish death/doom band may have outdone themselves... again.

The level of storytelling has seen a dramatic improvement, with the opening track serving as the prologue to the story. Contrast is the name of the game, with soft female vocals teaming up with keys and orchestrated strings. But, just as perfectly, the signature screams and growls of frontman Mikko Kotamaki crush all traces of beauty. The sheer density of the guitars will overwhelm you at times, but as they fade out to reveal clean guitar tones, it is easy to forget the brutal thrashing you just survived. "This Cut Is The Deepest," not to be confused with the 1967 Cat Stevens song of a similar name, starts with completely clean vocals, something that may seem out of sorts. The use of atmospheric keyboards ties together the verse and chorus, which sees a more melodic musical approach as well. Even as the track fades out into a haunting haze, you are waiting for the hammer to drop.

That hammer sees plenty of work on the more dynamic and straightforward "Hate, Lead The Way!" This is Swallow The Sun in their deathly glory, with Kotamaki screeching his way through verse after verse. Guitars shred and rip through it all, with drums crashing from all angles. This is sure to be a crowd pleaser in the live setting, with plenty to pump your fist to, with each rib shaking drum fill inducing incremental bouts of whiplash.  The cohesion in the track is what remains the most impressive, with a flow from piece to piece at all times. The first single, "Cathedral Walls," is a collaboration with Nightwish's own Anette Olzon, and may be the greatest display of evolution a band of this genre could show. Olzon's voice takes a starring role, opposite the clean vocals of Kotamaki in the early stages. The tone is somber, but in a very subtle way, choosing to tell the story through understated and minimal guitar and bass work. Light synthesizers well devilish growls to the fold at the half way mark, with rolling double kicks and sizzling cymbals dominating the mix. But as Olzon reenters, they strike a perfect balance between profound and pummeling, switching back and forth between the two at will.

By now, it is clear that this isn't a standard outing for Swallow The Sun. There is a new take on melody to be found here, with passages in "Hearts Wide Shut" sure to pull on your emotional strings. But, rather than replace the old with the new, they transition from one to the other and back again, turning the black and white into a shade of gray. And while it may take some getting used to, the process won't take long. In fact, "Silent Towers" might prove to be the most accessible song by the band to date. Don't misunderstand me here, this isn't a radio rock song. But there is definitely a noticeable use of more easily identifiable melodies and structure. Hell, clocking in at four minutes, it is certainly the shortest song on the album. The forth part in the "Horror" series, "Labyrinth Of London," does not stray from the path. Following in the footsteps of the previous installments, including "Don't Fall Asleep" and "Lights On The Lake," this is a heavy handed composition, ripe with keyboards and heavy guitars riffs. The melodic passages are accents to the distortion, making both sides of the coin more profound. A spoken word portion, layered on top of clean guitars, is ominous but revealing. Even the solo section is inspired, with the ringing of bells furthering the richness of sound.

The track "Of Death And Corruption" is exactly what you have come to expect at this point, with a jarring set of distorted guitars cutting through the air. Kotamaki's clean singing has so much depth, so much weight to each syllable, creating a chilling tale. And as eerily soothing as it is, it can be equally frightening when he unleashes the growls of hell. The use of clean piano tones, however sparse, is the perfect compliment. But this track is the heaviest piece of work you will find, with an devastating blast of guitars and drums taking you to new heights... or new depths. The air is heavy with sorrow in the opening stages of "April 14th," with funeral organs blaring out. A light piano and spoken verses take the track to darker places, only to be shattered by the explosion of guitars and drums. The album concludes with the aptly titled "Night Will Forgive Us," an acoustic tinged piece that takes the beauty and beast analogy to a new place. To think that a band so heavy is capable of such powerful songwriting and emotional investment is astonishing.

There are those people who, as fans of a band, hope that said band will simply remake their favorite album, over and over again. Metallica fans wish exactly that every day. But in the case of the new wave of metal, evolution is necessary to stay ahead of the pack. And no, it isn't always a bad thing. Swallow The Sun are still the death/doom titans you know and love. What they have done is simply inject a breath of fresh air into the formula, adding another layer to the mix. If you remove the melodies, you would still have enough of the classic sound to fill an entire album. Add them together, and you have something much more fulfilling. "Emerald Forest And The Blackbird" could be the next step to reinventing the genre.

10/10

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mastodon - Oblivion (EP) (2009)



On November 4th of 2009, Mastodon, the sludge metal kings, released an EP over the internet, entitled “Oblivion.” It contained four tracks and two music videos. One video was of their first single “Oblivion” and the other was of “Diviniation” which is the second track on the “Crack The Skye” album. The first track on the EP is obviously “Oblivion.” It’s the studio version of the song and if you haven’t heard it by now then you haven’t heard shit and you should probably catch up with the times. Same with the second track on the EP, “Divintations.” This version was recorded live at Xfm. It’s a great recording with clear vocals and clean instruments.

The third track on this EP is really the main reason why I wanted to mention the whole thing. “The song is called “The Bit” and it is also live at Xfm. They have played this song plenty of times during live shows but it was never released on any studio length album. This downloadable EP is the only way to get it. The song starts out with aggressive chugging guitars with drum rolls that explode in the background. Right away you’ll be bashing your head and throwing your devil horns in the air. The melodies of the guitars are really catchy and definitely ring in your head for days. The vocals are muddy add that perfect sludge tone to the music. Make sure you pay close attention to the drum fills. They will blow your head off. The detail in the snares and toms are godly. Towards the end of the song you will run into a wicked guitar solo from lead guitarist Brent Hines. His guitar work carries you to another world as each melodic note takes over your mind. This is one of my favorite songs from Mastodon and definitely needs to be heard.

The fourth song on the EP is “Colony Of Birchman” which is also a live at Xfm version. This track was originally released on their 2006 album, entitled “Blood Mountain.” This is another popular song that I’ve noticed that the band plays fairly often. It’s got catchy guitar riffs along with heavy chugging guitars in the background. Meanwhile Brann Dailor completely tears it up on the drums with his complex fills and perfectly timed double bass pedals. Hines even hits you with another monstrous guitar solo that will knock you on your ass.

After watching the awesome music videos and listening to these four powerful tracks I have to say that the “Oblivion” EP is by far, the perfect EP. When you hear it the first time you will be blown away for sure. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself reaching for the repeat button constantly. I know I could listen to this for days at a time. I like that they include some old material, new material, and unreleased material all in one. And the art work is absolutely gorgeous. I know it’s been a few years now that this has been released but if you haven’t had a chance to download and listen to this EP, you should definitely get on that.

10/10

Official Site - http://www.mastodonrocks.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/mastodon
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Frozenbleed - Distance (EP) (2012)




All the way from Italy comes a fairly fresh band by the name of Frozenbleed. They have recently released a new EP entitled “Distance.” It’s got four track and an intro that are full of calm depressive vocals and soothing instruments. The band falls under more of a gothic rock band with post doom metal tones in between.

The album opens up with an eerie piano intro that carries depressive strings and emotional melodies. After this “Prologue,” you run into Distant Reflections” which contains mellow guitar riffs and slow drum patterns. Clean male vocals slowly fade in with the verse. Soon after the guitars build up distortion and booming drum rolls. The mood continues with sadness as the tempo slows down once again during the second verse. The guitar riffs are light and gloomy and add a dark and yet beautiful tone to the song. “Autumn Leaves” follows with soothing acoustic guitar riffs that pull you deep into the track. The music stays quiet until about two minutes later when blaring guitar riffs drop with catchy melodies and fast snare combinations. The vocals stay calm and emotional as they float over the instruments. This is probably the heaviest song on the EP.

“Absence” is the fourth track on the album. It starts out with haunting sound effects along with bone chilling piano riffs. The tempo continues to stay at a slow speed as the drums kick in. Basic drum patterns take over the background as sad vocals enter. What sticks out the most in this song is refrain. You’ll notice that the clean vocals are accompanied by a devilish growl slightly faded in the background. This definitely displays a clear sound of beauty and darkness. And if you like this effect, then you’ll love the final song, “Lost Fragments.” The vocals open with a more aggressive tone to it as the vocals switch from clean singing to monstrous growls. They even add a filter to the voice giving it a mysterious sound. The lead guitar throws depressive melodies at you almost sounding as if it were crying. As the instruments build up more and more you are eventually hit with a wicked solo about four minutes in. high flying notes are dropped on you from all directions as cymbals clash heavily in the background.

Frozenbleed has a solid delivery in “Distance” and has some interesting riffs and sound effects to offer. You definitely hear some Katatonia influences within their style of music as well. Each song flows well into the next both musically and vocally. If you’re looking for a more calm gothic sound then definitely make sure you give “Distance” a good listen.

8/10

Official Site - http://frozenbleed.bandcamp.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/frozenbleed
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

The 10 New Artists You Need To Hear, The Second Wave

Time flies when you are listening to some great metal. This week, Hell22 had some great pleasure listening to new albums from Avelion and Bare Infinity, while Intervals fell a little short of the mark. Murmaider, on the other hand could do nothing but shake his head at the latest work by Black Chalice.

Now nine solid months of reviews have passed, and we have discovered many new bands that you should all hear. In our first installment, we gave you a heads up on Brymir, Tersivel, Project Masquerade, Skogen and so many more. This time, we each have five more bands to check out. Do it. Seriously, go ahead. It'll be worth it.



Part one could be downloaded here, I suppose.



Part two? Right here, guy.

Murmaider's List:

Pursuing The End (Review #1)(Review #2)
October (Review)
Illuminata (Review)
Lethian Dreams (Review #1)(Review #2)
In Loving Memory (Review)

Hell22's List:


Eumeria (Review)
Nemesea (Review)
Lapis Lazuli (Review)
Morito Ergo Sum (Review #1)(Review #2)
Kayo Dot (Review)
Read more ...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bare Infinity - The Passage (EP) (2011)



Normally, this first paragraph is filled with comparisons and descriptions. In the case of Bare Infinity, I would fail to give you any sense of what this Greek band have done. Their new, and final, EP, "The Passage," defies labels. Released in August 2011, the five track contained here are unique in their own way, yet familiar all the same. I have a feeling that this one would have made it to my Top 10 list, if only I hadn't waited this long.

You are greeted by an explosion of sound so immense that it may shake you to your core. "Father Of Wrath" is a great example of the force that female fronted music can benefit from. The combination of heavy guitar riffs, deep, rich symphonics and crushing drum beats is the perfect vessel for vocalist Angel to add a touch of beauty to the mix. Her voice is tremendous, with a depth that so few metal vocalists, male or female, possess. When her angelic (no pun intended) tones meet the deathly growls, you are sure to be moved. Not to be outdone, the bass lines throughout are astonishing, moving up and down the neck with a marksmans accuracy. From the detail oriented verse sections to the pummeling chorus, there is a home for every aspect.

Taking things to another level entirely, "Everfade" sees an increase in the sheer brutality. No head will be left still, no fist will be left hanging at your side. There is something so devastatingly beautiful to be found here, all packed into a mere four and a half minutes. The use of keyboards and synthesizers ties each layer together, allowing them all to have an effect without pulling the track in any one direction. It takes all of the Gothic styled sounds of Nightwish or Within Temptation, and throws them head first into the fire. The growls alone would be enough, but adding the pitch perfect clean vocals puts things over the top. The title track sees a heavier use of keys and piano, carving out a more atmospheric background. To call this a ballad would be short sighted, but it fits the basic criteria, especially in the vocal harmonies. Angel's ability to sing from multiple ranges is stunning, especially in the "breakdown" portion, where she truly shines through it all in choir fashion. Darting keys and drums are locked together, distorted guitars thrashing through it all.

The longest track on the album is also the most ambitious. "Letalis Malevolentia," is Bare Infinity at their very best, heavy but melodic, powerful but delicate. Synthesizers provide the sound of blaring horns and keys, with a strong bass line flowing throughout. Angel takes a more operatic approach, bringing to mind the best that former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen had to offer. But the coarse growls that offset her will not be denied. With thunderous roll after roll, the drums continue to mesmerize the most casual drum fan, while also providing the solid foundation that all good music grows from. The chugging breakdown is nothing short of amazing, going from slow to lightning fast and back again. Guitars, bass, drums and keys all forming a wall that would take a million man army to destroy. There is no fault to be found, no note out of place.

The final track of the album, "Awakening Moonlight," is one final stab at perfection. Not lost among all the heavy riffs and drums, the vocals reign supreme. It is truly uncanny how many layers are present here, without a single weak link to be found. This is a veritable buffet for any metal fan to feat upon. The dense, meaty riffs are omnipresent, whether through chugging or dynamic chord shifts. The often ignored art of the bass couldn't be better represented. The drumming isn't merely heavy, but also precisely timed and executed. The keys, the soul of the band, are airy at times, but also vibrant in their melodic touches. And the dessert, the sickeningly sweet yet richly filling vocals. Separately, these would all be admirable. Together, this finale is one worth repeating.

Let's call a spade a spade. Bare Infinity is an incredible band, and this EP, "The Passage," is a testament to their talents and dedication to their craft. Sadly, as I write this review, the band have announced that they will not be continuing on together. As each musician goes their own way, one can only hope that they all find a new home in another band. But, regardless of their future endeavors, we now have the blueprint for all that female fronted metal can and should be. Fans of metal, take heed. This disc deserves not only your time, but also your attention.

9.5/10

Official Site - http://www.bare-infinity.net/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/bareinfinity
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Disdained - Kill My Only Enemy (2011)



Taking over the female fronted metal scene in Sweden, Disdained is well on their way to great success. The gothic metal group has released their new album, entitled “Kill My Only Enemy.” It’s powerful guitar riffs and ravishing vocals will blow your mind. Each song contains catchy refrains, head trashing drum rolls and electrifying guitar riffs. Passionate lyrics and hell raising solos will pull you deeper into the music.

Dominating horns and strings start off this epic adventure with “Prelude To A Dream,” which is basically a minute long introduction giving you a little sample of what’s to come. This jumps right into “Eternal Night” with starts with blaring guitar riffs and exploding drums that lung straight at you. The short chugging patterns will have you bobbing your head immediately. You are then met by lead vocalist Therese Thomsson and her gorgeous female voice which starts off the verse with its aggressive tones. As the chorus kicks in, Thomsson begins to show off her powerful vocals as her beautiful lyrics echo through the air on top of the heavy guitars. Later you’ll come across a breath taking melodic guitar solo that is absolutely phenomenal. Notes fall from all directions as they bury you deep into the music. “Longing For Serenity” follows with angelic piano riffs that will immediately grab your ear. Heavily distorted guitar quickly follow along with booming drum rolls and complicated fills. Thomsson displays her gorgeous vocals throughout the song lifting you higher and higher during the refrain. The melody will definitely be stuck in your head for days. Tracks like this one and “Numb” also include a brief moment of demonic growling that compliment the breakdowns perfectly. “Numb” also uses a lot of soothing strings that surround the vocals and keep all of the instruments close together.

“I Live For Your Pain” is an action packed song that really stands out from the rest for a few reasons. First of all, it opens with a fast tempo as the drum fills rumble underneath the wild guitar riffs. This will definitely make you want to throw your metal horns in the air. Secondly, The verse starts with vicious female growling vocals that will make you shit yourself. It completely catches you off guard and before you know it Thomsson is back to her regular clean singing voice. The verses go back and forth between the two styles of vocals quite frequently keeping you at the edge of your seat the entire time. The chorus holds catchy melodic tunes that will make you want to hit the replay button right away. “Redemption” comes in right after with another catchy guitar riff that is accompanied by double bass drum rolls and crashing hi hats. The guitar work in the middle of the song is quite interesting as you’ll notice the constant change in pattern along with many different drum rolls as well. This is all followed by growling vocals that echo throughout the bridge. You might actually shit yourself when you hear it for the first time.

“Trust” slows the album down with a more depressive track. The lyrics are filled with a sad love story and Thomssons performance clearly shows lots of emotion in each verse. The guitar are calm and simple as single chords blast in the background while basic kicks and snares lead the way. A little guitar solo is thrown in towards the end which really seals the deal with its beautiful melodies.

The album closes with “Dreams Never Come True” which starts with a wicked guitar solos that are heavily covered in reverb. Thunderous drum riffs take over the background and absolutely destroy everything in its path. The guitars are very impressive during the verses. They carry aggressive tones but are delivered in a very choppy way. Then chorus then takes over with angelic melodies and sad lyrics. Hearing this a couple of times will definitely make you want to hit the repeat button again. Her style of pitch towards the resembles that of Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil. It’s a very powerful performance that’s for sure.

Disdained shows a lot of talent and great musicianship in “Kill My Only Enemy.” The recording quality is excellent as well as the song writing and vocal performance. The album gives you a little bit of everything. You get the gorgeous female clean vocals mixed with some interesting devilish female growls. The tempos jump up and down constantly and flow well within each song. Definitely make sure you check this album out!

9/10

Official Site - http://www.disdained.se/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/disdainedmetal
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Avelion - Cold Embrace (EP) (2011)


The world of metal music can't always been doom and gloom, thrash and crash. Sometimes you need something to give you hope, something to convince you to drag yourself out of bed for another day in the daily grind. Italy's Avelion, who feature in their ranks Pursuing The End drummer Alessio Massimo, have the cure for what ails you. High speed guitars, dynamic keyboard melodies and soaring vocals await you. With their own take on European power metal, this six piece are sure to inject a little fire into "Cold Embrace."

Wasting no time, the band launch themselves into the album's title track. There is a strong keyboard presence, providing the melody that the track grows from. Lightning fast notes move up and down the scales, supported by a battery of drums. The guitars, both rhythm and lead, are expertly played, giving pace and power to each passing measure. Vocalist William Verderi has all of the power and potential of some of the genres shining stars, with his passages adding an extra layer to the song. The solo portion gives you a blitz of everything, with guitars trading jabs with keyboards. The two dart seamlessly in and out of one another, sharing the spotlight. If the first track was the appetizer, "Immortals' Light" is a main course to be reckoned with. The keyboards are the clear star, hammering out melody after melody that is certain to stir some heat in your deepest reaches. The high octane guitar riffs only drive the tempo further, surrounded by a hurricane of snares and cymbals, and a rolling thunder of double kicks. The dueling guitar and keyboard harmony in the breakdown is dazzling, taking the track to a rousing conclusion.

No power metal album would be complete without the emotionally charged ballad. Avelion are no different, offering the lighter inducing "Bright Angel." Verderi holds his own, though his voice seems far too restrained at times. You may fin yourself waiting for him to unleash a flurry of higher range notes, something that never comes to be. But once again, keys and chords rule all, choosing to go against the norm and provide some more intricate work to offset the somber vocals. Not to be slowed for long, the album comes to a stirring conclusion with the amped up "Follow Me." You won't find any sappy exchanges here, with the band going full speed ahead. The keyboards bring to mind the best the power metal genre has to offer, layering each piece on top of the last. The drums are relentless, pounding and pulsing throughout the track. A softly spoken interlude leads to a wailing guitar solo, one that may warrant multiple listens right away.

It takes a lot to get to the top of the mountain, regardless of what genre you partake in (Minus pop. That shit just seems to easy). Avelion have four songs under their belt, which is a mere fraction of what their career will produce. They have all the tools, all the skills to make the climb. With a little more time, a new full length album, and some unrestrained vocals, they could find themselves at the top, looking down. And while "Cold Embrace" might not have supplanted the likes of Stratovarius, Rhapsody and Blind Guardian, it may be enough to send a single chill up their spines.

8.5/10

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/AvelionMusic.Official
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/avelionofficial
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Black Chalice - Submission (2012)



A small unknown band from the U.S. has recently released a new album for the new year. The band goes by the name Black Chalice and their album is called “Submission.“ It contains four lengthy tracks and has a raw recording sound. The quality takes away from music as it‘s clear that they weren‘t purposely going for the low quality recording. As far as the genre goes, the band is clearly going for that progressive doom type of sound however they kind of go about it the wrong way. Certain parts of each song are a little too repetitive and don’t really change up too often.

The album opens with the song “Deluge” which is a four and a half minute intro that contains multiple guitars with gorgeous strings of melodies that flow together perfectly. You don’t really hear the first few riffs until about a minute in as they fade in as slow as possible. More and more layers of soothing guitars enter little by little as they give off an ambient sound. As the guitars continue to build, after hitting their peak, they quickly drop as you meet the next track. “Regret” comes in with basic drum patterns in a slow moving tempo as a calm guitar riff takes over on top. This melody kind of drags out as nothing changes until about two minutes into the song. This is when relentless guitars come roaring in with fast chugging riffs and loud snares snapping in the background. You will also run into a demon of a growl as the vocals finally reveal themselves. Large heaving lyrics rumble under the guitars shaking you violently. After the verse is done, the guitars go on a rampage of more reckless chugging as double bass pedals start to pick up the tempo. This is where you’ll want to start bobbing your head. The only issue with this track is that some of the guitar riffs are a little too repetitive. The song is over eight minutes long and half of it carries the same couple of chords over and over again. This might make some listeners want to skip on to the next track. Perhaps a little more creativity in this song structure would do the trick.

The third track on the album, “Cornea,” starts out with static guitar riffs that give off a strong depressive vibe. This repeats for about a minute and a half. Unfortunately, that’s over a minute too long. Finally the drums enter with a slow tempo as chords continue to be slammed in the background. The vocals fade in with deep demonic growls delivered with aggression. The starts to pick up speed about five minutes in as the guitar chugging becomes constant and the drums rolls start to explode. But right as the song starts to progress you start to realize again that they are just gonna continue to play this same riff over and over again. The drum pattern may occasionally change but that’s about it. The song has got so much potential as you’ll find tons of energy in the last few minutes. The only issue is that nothing changes. The melody, the instruments, and the tempo all kind of just stay the same.

The final track, “In Submission,” is an 11 minute track that starts out with a soothing guitar melody that has the same issue of being played way too many times in a row with absolutely no change what so ever. The one interesting thing about this track is that the vocals change up as you hear a soft clear voice enter with depressive lyrics. It’s nice to hear something a little different than the other tracks. Unfortunately this is the only difference. About half way through the song enters a specific guitar riff in which they decide to play for the rest of the song. Feel free to turn off the album because at this point the riff that you’re hearing just plays all the way through. So save yourself some time and move on to another album.

“Submission” has got a lot of ups and downs throughout each track. There are times you can really start to get into it and want to bob your head to the beat, however there are other times where you just want to skip to the next track because of how bored you’ve become with the same repetitive riff. The eight and ten minute long songs would be a lot better if they were trimmed down by four or five minute. Besides the opening track, the rest of the album turns into a let down with its constant repeats of basic guitar riffs. Black Chalice definitely needs to add some creativity to their music if that want to separate themselves from other bands.

2.5/10

Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q87dSr7kMdo
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Intervals - The Space Between (EP) (2011)



There is always a style of music on the rise, a trend that many will pounce on and take it for all it's worth. Case in point, the current derivative of Messhugah's signature style, also known as "djent." And while many have throw their name into the ring, Toronto based Intervals are the latest to ride the wave of sheer terror into the abyss. On their new five track EP, titled "The Space Between," they shuffle their feet all the way to the edge of the cliff, teetering on the brink of disaster. Yet somehow, they escape to fight another day.

We begin with the opening track, "Begin." Guess that makes sense. A low rumble gives way to a very synthetic set of tones, very futuristic in nature. Drums explode from underneath, and a chugging guitar bursts onto the scene. The chords are repetitive, but thankfully short, as electronic bits come in and out, taking this brief opener to a close. The real talent is showcased on "Still Winning," which may or may not be a nod to the ever popular Charlie Sheen. The sheer density of the rhythm guitars, along with a booming rhythm section, is almost too much to bear. But the dazzling fret work still manages to come through with the utmost clarity and effectiveness. The syncopated beats and heavy riffs are straight out of the Meshuggah playbook, though not quite as deftly played.

"Duality" expresses exactly that, a duo of styles and deliveries. On one hand, you have that which has been shown already, a desire to combine hard nosed metal riffs with virtuosic soloing, a match that can spell success or disaster. Let's face it, sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. And there examples of both outcomes contained here. The portion surrounding the three minute mark is genius at work, with a great flow being exhibited along with the ability to play loud and fast. The segment that immediately follows is a miss, coming off like a muddled mess, rather than a cohesive breakdown. The same can be said for the following track, "Sonar." The use of synthesizers cuts through the chunky mass of distorted guitars and bass. But as the tempo slows, and melody comes together, you are greeting with much more than a muscle car. The bass line is epic, and the guitars come together into a harmony of sorts.

The album cruises to a conclusion with it's longest track, the nearly seven minute "Inertia." The appearance of some clean guitar will instantly make this song stand out in your mind. The groove on display in the early stages is encouraging, showing off a side of the band you may not have known existed. It isn't long before the ceiling comes crashing down, and echoing distortion reigns supreme once again. A small electronica break gives way to the more down tempo chugging. But the high pitch shriek of guitar that rolls over the top is just enough to keep the pieces together.

There is a conflict to be settled on these five tracks. Intervals clearly have all of the talent and skill to write solid instrumental metal tracks. But the real question is whether they can continue to make music that is a reflection of who they are, without sacrificing structure and form. Following the djent trend is going to work for some, and fail for others. But great guitar work is universally accepted. Maybe this band needs a little more of that Van Halen sensbility, and a little less Messhugah thrash. "The Space Between" may prove to be too much.

7/10

Bandcamp - http://intervalsmusic.bandcamp.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/thisisintervals
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 33 (Songwriters write songs)

No rest for the wicked, folks. We are back with another installment of the podcast, despite fighting off vicious colds in this warmer than usual winter. Murmaider really enjoys In Loving Memory, and has some pretty strong things to say about their new album "Negation Of Life." Hell22 took some advice from his fellow writer and checked out Lethian Dreams. Needless to say, he was not disappointed with what he heard on "Season Of Raven Words."

"Drake is the greatest songwriter of this generation." These words were actually spoken by a real person, to us. We didn't know what to say then. But we sure know what to say about it now.



You can download the first part here.



And part 2? Right here, bro.
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Lamb Of God - Resolution (2012)



The infamous groove metal band Lamb Of God is back with a brand new album, entitled “Resolution.” This is the bands -- studio album and it might just be their most intense album yet. The tempos constantly run at high speeds with quick reckless guitar riffs and detailed drum rolls. The album contains 14 songs of nothing but relentlessness and overwhelming excitement.

Deafening screams open up the album in the song “Straight For The Sun.” Slow groovy guitar riffs blast through your speakers with thumping drum fills behind them. Lead vocalist, Randy Blythe, throws hell raising growls at you from all directions hitting both low growls and high screams. This little two minute intro runs right into “Desolation” where the tempos pick up quickly. Reckless guitar riffs run right into the verse the Blythe comes in with monstrous growls that will beat you to the ground. The double bass drumming is absolutely mind blowing as it rumbles heavily beneath you. The energy from the song will have you bobbing your head in no time.

After a short count off, a southern guitar melody flies in during “Ghost Walking.” Blythe really mixes up the vocals back and forth between the high screaming and deep growls. Meanwhile, cymbals are constantly splashing in the background as relentless snares snap away in between kicks. The chorus contains a constant heavy breakdown which will have you bashing your head to every drop. Then you run into a wild guitar solo that twists notes into a violent mix of melodies. “Guilty” takes their guitar work to whole other level as the riffs are constantly changing patterns and speed throughout the song. Vicious growls are delivered by Blythe as he continues to change up his vocals. More insane guitar work destroys your speakers in “The Undertow.” The guitar structure is a little more direct as a constant melody runs recklessly in the background. Thunderous bass lines will begin to shake every bone in your body. To top things off, the double bass pedal drumming is absolutely incredible. The detailed patterns in each roll is amazing. Definitely get ready for some intense breakdowns in this track.

“The Number Six” shows some interesting vocals towards the end where they mix screaming with chanting that echoes loudly over the electrifying guitars. It goes back and forth between that and deep heavy growls. The switch really keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout the song. Another song that really jumps out with different types of vocals is “Insurrection.” The first verse sounds like something off of a Chimera album. It’s like clean singing but at a low tone giving off an eerie sound to the track. This of course changes later in the song as Blythe comes through with vicious growls destroying everything in sight. Musically this song is one of my favorite ones on the album. Double bass pedaling is in and out while kicks and snares rumble through heavily with detail. The guitar riffs are catchy and aggressive as they whip their way though each verse. You’re hit with another astonishing guitar solo towards the end that will absolute crush you.

Another track that really stands out on the album is “Terminally Unique.” The guitar work is full of melodic riffs that hit you verse after verse giving you no time to breath. The vocals are powerful as hell as Blythe delivers excruciating screams and growls throughout the verse. Meanwhile the drums are constantly pounding you into the ground with their complex double bass work along with exploding cymbals and shattering snares. The is definitely a track that makes you want to hit the replay button immediately afterwards.

Lamb Of God has continued to change and improve for the better with each and every new album. “Resolution” shows a good mix of their old style of groovy guitar riffs along with new and old styles of vocals. Each song runs into the next with a pretty smooth flow leaving no interrupted pauses or disruption. From front to back this album is an intense rush.

9/10

Official Site - http://www.lamb-of-god.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/lambofgod
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sons Of Liberty - Spirit Of The Times (EP) (2011)


With many politicians already riding high on the campaign trail for the 2012 election, Iced Earth mainman Jon Schaffer has taken his political side project Sons Of Liberty off the shelf for another go. These songs were conceived during the latest Iced Earth sessions, that which became their last album, "Dystopia." I guess when your main band is so prolific, you will always something left over for whatever you choose. On "Spirit Of The Times," Schaffer once again wears his views on his chest, for better or worse.

For a release headed by Shaffer, the opening clean riffs on "Alive" and accompanying melodic vocals may come as a surprise. He has honed his vocal skill noticeably, despite keeping his more raspy delivery. Lyrically, it is exactly what you would expect from the Sons Of Liberty moniker, seeking to empower the "little guy" against big brother. This is a call to arms, far more powerful than anything from his initial offering. It is a rock anthem, complete with chanting gang vocals and heavy, bass driven guitars. The heavier side comes out on "Full Spectrum Dominance," with a pummeling at the hands of an aggressive drum track. Screw polish, Shaffer's vocals are as raw as can be, yelling at full speed ahead. This certainly could be confused with an Iced Earth b-side, minus the vocal range of a Matt Barlow, or even Stu Block. There is a lack of subtlety here, which may or may not be a good thing. There is something to be said about being up front and honest, and Shaffer has that in spades. But the true star of the track is the dynamic guitar work on display. But the chugging, thrashing verse to a ripping solo, this is a well rounded assault.

The musical effort on "Molon Labe" is equally impressive, though the same can not be said for the vocals. There is a fine line between emotional, aggressive delivery and a pure struggle, and this one seems to fall more into the latter. Shaffer is, as you may remember, not a true singer. And his weaknesses show here. Though, to be fair, he has never claimed to be the second coming of David Lee Roth. The "300" samples layered into the solo are somewhat inspiring and well thought out, making the Spartan references that much more applicable. The parallels being draw between the Greek struggles and those of the American working class are a stretch for some, but not wholly fictional. If you are looking for one track to take away from this effort, "Mind Control" could be the one that sticks with you. The riffs are as catchy as ever, and the simple, effects laden vocal track is straight forward. No twists, no turns, just a great hook and heavy handed drumming. And despite the slander of the almighty television, it is hard to say that Schaffer's heart is in the wrong place.

The EP finishes with the title track "Spirit Of The Times," a final rallying cry to these who are in harms way. It begins softly, but comes out swinging shortly thereafter, with Shaffer proclaiming "my soul is not for sale," an attack at so many government agencies and entities who may or may not have sold out our future. The bass line is tremendous, with a glowing groove that could excite a jazz man of any generation. With some deft guitar work, both in chord and fret form, the song cruises to an end with one last burst of freedom.

Side projects are what they are. Jon Shaffer has worked long and hard in the musical industry, and has built himself into a successful guitarist and mastermind. So, if Sons Of Liberty is his way of being open and honest with his fans, then so be it. "Brushfires Of The Mind" came off as heavy handed and pretentious to some, including myself. His stint opening for himself on a string of Iced Earth dates seemed egotistical and a bit off-putting. But in the context of this five song EP, it actually seems as though he has grown as an activist and a singer, all at the same time. "Spirit Of The Times" may actually serve a purpose for those who listen.

8.5/10

Official Site - http://www.sons-of-liberty.net/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/meettheshackles
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pursuing The End - Withering (EP) (2012)



After much success from their previous EP, “Dawn of Expiation“, the Italian symphonic band Pursuing The End is back with a few brand new tracks from their up coming EP, entitled "Withering." We have been fortunate enough to get a first look at three of the unreleased tracks.

The intro track, entitled “Overture,” opens with overwhelming orchestrated instruments that will immediately open your ears. Heavy toms are surround by flying strings layered heavily with many different chords. It sounds like a score written for an epic film. Rolling snares soon fade in with thunderous energy as the song builds up and prepares you for “Withering.” Your immediately hit with soaring operatic female vocals as they fly over distorted guitar riffs and booming drum fills. Clean male vocals take over the verse as relentless snares bash away in the background. Wild synth melodies consume you as you run into the gorgeous chorus. Quick double bass pedals keep the tempo high while the female vocals come back in and sweep you off your feet. They are accompanied by devilish growls that follow her every lyric giving off a beauty and the beast type of sound. Soon after comes a breath taking piano solo during the bridge. All of the guitars and drums fade out while you hear nothing but angelic piano riffs and soothing strings behind them. This is quickly taken over by an incredible guitar solo that completely destroys the musical scale. Notes go flying by from every direction with electrifying excitement. This is a fantastic track that really shows of the talents of this band.

The third track is called “Glimpse Of Forbidden.” This starts out in a dark tone as haunting female vocals open with eerie synth effects in the background. Her ability to hit such high notes is absolutely mind blowing. Monstrous guitar riffs chime in soon after with heavy distortion. They are joined by exploding drum fills that carry much detail. The double bass pedaling towards the middle of the song makes you want to throw your metal horns up. Both male and female vocals share the stage through most of the song while they even manage to include a few growls in between. The high female chanting during the pre chorus really gives off an old school Nightwish feel it reminded me of Tarja’s style of vocals. The song structure amazing and the orchestrated instruments definitely keep you hooked throughout the entire track.

Pursuing The End has clearly taken their musical talents to a whole other level. The layering of vocals is right on cue and fits perfect with the instruments around them. Musically, the orchestrated instruments will amaze you as soothing strings and beautiful piano riffs hypnotize you deep into each track. Definitely check these songs out. We cannot wait to hear what’s next!

9/10

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pursuingtheend
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/pursuingtheendofficial
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In Loving Memory - Negation Of Life (2011)



Showing off their deathly tones all the way from Spain is the band In Loving Memory. The melodic doom five piece have released their second full length studio album, entitled “Negation Of Life.” It’s nine destructive tracks that will leave you stunned with its depressive riffs and beautiful melodies. Crying solos will hypnotize you deep into the album as you will be rudely disturbed by vicious growls and bone crushing drum rolls.

This album starts out with a violent and powerful track, entitled “Even A God Can Die.” Screeching sounds poor into your ear with sharp frequencies leaving you flinching for the first few seconds of the song. Meanwhile eerie bass lines follow shortly after. Muddy guitars begin chugging away with soft strings floating in the background. The vocalist wastes no time as he begins the verse with a deep heaving growl that will knock you on your ass. Towards the middle of the track enters an interesting combination of guitars and piano riffs that play back and forth giving an evil yet beautiful tone to the music. Also the vocals switch on and off between growling and eerie whispers as the guitar chugging begins to get even heavier. It ends on an upbeat tempo with booming kicks and snares that are sure to leave you head banging for the rest of the song. You’re even hit with a melodic solo which really tops off this awesome track.

The next song, “Skilled Nihilism,” comes out of left field with its futuristic synth effects that sound like you’re walking into a dance club. This is quickly interrupted by mean distorted guitar riffs and catchy melodies. The drum fills in the track are very impressive and will have you throwing up your devil horns immediately. The mood calms down in the beginning of “Adversus Pugna Tenebras.” Non distorted guitars come rolling in smoothly while low clean vocals lay gently on top. The drums stay upbeat with interesting fills and crashing cymbals as the tempo starts to pick up. The vocals soon switch over to demonic growling along with distorted guitar riffs that blast away. The guitar work towards the middle of the track gets even heavier with its wild, melodic breakdowns and fast double bass pedal drumming. This calm down again for the bridge as a gorgeous guitar solo takes over and plays angelic melodies for about a minute straight. This is definitely a track that you’re gonna want to replay a couple of times.

A couple of song later comes a seven minute masterpiece, entitled “Shimmering Divinity.” It manages to combine melodic riffs with short breakdowns in between where the drop is just incredible. The bass alone will not only knock you down but also beat you into the ground recklessly as relentless growls roll over top of you with its vicious lyrics. The solo guitar work is astonishing as it will pull you deep into the music as the drum fills surround the background and capture for the rest of the track. You do, however, get a chance to catch your breath with the next song, entitled “Through A Raindrop.” It opens with a simple little acoustic melody that shortly after switches to electric. The cymbals are clashing hard in the background but the drums stay basic for the most part at first. The whispering clean vocals enter with eerie tones. Distorted guitars begin to take over with heavy chugging chords and thumping bass lines. The tempo stays steady throughout the song, however the vocals switch back to devilish growls that rumble across the guitars and drums perfectly. Definitely an awesome combination.

The album ends with “Nulla Religio, Solum Veritas” which carries a lot of emotion. Slow tempos of sad guitar riffs open the track as the drums deliver exploding rolls. The vocals enter with thunderous growls that will shake you violently throughout the track. It definitely has a strong doom feel to music. Strings play a small part as well as they consume the background during the middle of the song. Gorgeous melodic guitars keep the track catchy as the growls continue to deliver dark, depressive tones. By the end of this track you will be reaching for the replay button for sure.

In Loving Memory really goes above and beyond the death/doom genre as that provide dark melodies along with violent, yet gorgeous tones. “Negation Of Life” takes you into a whole other realm of demonic sadness and beauty. Each track runs smoothly into the next as the song structure is also well balanced between the vocals, solos, and other instruments. This is definitely an album worth picking up. It leaves you wanting more every time you listen to it.

9/10

Official Site - http://inlovingmemory.es/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/inlovingmemoryband
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Lethian Dreams – Season Of Raven Words (2012)


It would seem that the French have cornered the market on the new wave of doom metal. Alongside fellow countrymen Grey November, Lethian Dreams are carving out French doom that is as melodic as it is crushing. Among the heavy riffs, there lies a depth of despair, all fronted by Carline Van Roos. On their new album, "Season Of Raven Words," they expand on their original formula, and forge an even more complex sound. When atmospheric music meets heavenly vocals, what is left to want?

Fitting than an album should be with a track titled "Dawn," which in its early moment gives the imagery of a sun rising over the hills. But as the crash of cymbals enters the fold, there forms a bitter haze. The guitars echo for seconds after each chord is struck, allowing for Van Roos to spin her somber tales in a tone that is both angelic and forlorn. By the midway point, you will feel as though the weight of the world has come down squarely on your shoulders, leaving your heart as heavy as each booming kick drum. The tempo, slow and deliberate, may induce a slight swaying in your shoulders, but not of the aggressive variety. The drumming is more explosive on this effort, as is evidence in "Wandering." Each kick and accompanying cymbal and snare punch through your speakers with an emphatic push. Each riff, each strum of a shaking chord fills the air around you, shielding you from any outside interference. But as a platform, it does wonders, as Van Roos cuts deep into you with each melodic vocal passage. The strength and vulnerability that you find here will astonish you.

As a reprieve, you are treated to a minute and a half interlude, titled "See," consisting of nothing but piano keys and Van Roos, a combination that brings chills to your skin. The soft, sullen chords that follow are a perfect go between, leading you gently into the dense guitars and bass of "Raven." The vocals remain the constant, tearing you apart at the seams. The distortion cannot drown out the beauty, instead coming together in a stark contrast of grayish hues. Once again, the drumming shines through, with double kicks and sizzling cymbals filling your ears. There is no dead air, but rather a bounty of doom musicianship on display. Clean guitar tones take the early spotlight on "White Gold," a dramatic change from the previous tracks. But don't get too used to the light on light mix, as an eruption of distortion and battering drums awaits you, coming to and fro, underneath expertly delivered vocals. Not to belabor the point, but Carline Van Roos has a voice that could stop the world from turning. When layered on top of the more aggressive guitar tones that inhabit this piece of the album, the result is simply awe inspiring.

Another interlude, this one titled "Invisible," sees soft whispers over a delicate arrangement of guitars and synths. Nothing more, nothing less. It is a jumping off point for what follows, a track titled "Satyrs" that boasts some interesting drum work in the front end. Off time beats and oddly timed cymbals punctuate the early stages, allowing Van Roos to enter with her verse. There is a dynamic blend of beats and chords to be had here, witheach corresponding earthquake of distortion and low end fury driving you further into your ethereal haze. The latter half of the track is a drum clinic, slamming and swaying you back and forth with blast beats and the rolling thunder of non stop kick drums. The display of musical proficiency would make the most seasoned doom musician envious. Everything comes full circle in "Roads," which borrows from each of the previous seven songs, giving you a fresh reminder of what had you so captivated for the last 40+ minutes. There are no weaknesses, but so many strengths. Van Roos, once again, paints a bleak but somehow hopeful picture with her words, backed by a crushing, harsh melody. The added use of synths creates an even more impressive atmospheric tone, and takes the album to a conclusion that may seem too early.

There has always been a beauty in darkness, and darkness in all that is beautiful. Lethian Dreams manages to bring out both qualities equally, track after track. There aren't many bands who can capture all of the sorrow the world has to offer, and make it seem so much less terrifying. Through every riff, every snare, every kick, "Season Of Raven Words" delivers a subtle sadness. When death comes to take me, I hope that the voice of Carline Van Roos is waiting in the light at the end of the tunnel.

9/10

Official Site - http://lethiandreams.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/lethiandreams
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 32 (Different strokes to move the world)

It's a new year, and there are plenty of albums for us to review! This week, Murmaider takes a good, long listen to the new album by Aquilus. Hell22 had a mixed bag, with a flat effort by M.A.I.M. and yet another stellar outing by office favorite Alcest. Then we revisit a previous topic, from way back in episode 19. Side projects can be both good and bad. But we take a few minutes to applaud those who make their side project different from their main act. Diversity is the key to a great metal year, and these guys get it done.



Download the first part of this here.



And the second part can be had here.
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Kayo Dot - Gamma Knife (2012)



By now, it would be safe to assume that many people far and wide have seen and digested the movie "Inception." Well, friends, it may be time to experience the concept in a new way. On their latest album, the far reaching Brooklyn, New York based Kayo Dot have drawn you into a dream world. With massive woodwind sections, rumbling guitars and bass, and a taste for the theatrical, "Gamma Knife" may leave you with a feeling that you are listening to a song within a song, which is inside another song, which is on an album which is in your wildest dreams.

The choir of bells emerges through the silence, joined soon by layers of strings. And while this opening track, known as "Lethe" is both haunting and beautiful, it is merely a precursor for what is to come. A light voice is added to the mix as the strings begin to twirl and flutter onward. There is something inherently calming about the choral sections, with voice upon voice coming together in a wave of harmony. But as the heavens part, an odd roar begins to cut through. "Rite Of Goetic Evocation" finds distorted guitars becoming entwined with woodwinds and percussion, in an immense wall of sound and fury. The heaviness of the background is offset perfectly by the variety of instruments used to construct this foundation. It provides stability for the building to sway and shake with aggressive screaming vocals. At first, it may seem like muddled chaos. But beneath each layer is a sound all its own. As they crash and merge together, it becomes clear that they are pieces of the same whole.

Eclectic as the track before it, "Water Mirror, Lightning Night" begins with a frantic burst of instrumentation. From guitars to saxophone, bass to snares, the tornado of musical curiosity spins. There is an undeniable groove in each sax melody, each passing note taking you to different places. There is a soul, a flow to the way the music is presented, with each drum fill and distorted chord finding a home nestled in the sprawling landscapes of horns and strings. And while there is certainly a more structured "sludge" feel to "Ocellated God," it isn't long before this track, too, goes upside down. Bitter screams and growls fill the air, drawing some of the focus away from the music itself, allowing it all to boil, and ferment. Finally, at the most opportune moment, it all explodes in a thrashing of musical instruments that some may not have survived. The album ends on the most odd of notes, with the beautifully performed "Gamma Knife" containing little more than a piano melody and some light strings. It is played to perfection, sung to a heavenly accord, and left to fade into the night.

Those familiar with music as a whole have surely heard the term "avant garde" used to describe many an artists, from jazz to blues and so on. But it has never been more fitting a title than when applied to the stylings of Kayo Dot. And while the mix of standard metal instruments and big band classics comes off as an odd choice, it is beginning to become a proven formula, one that Kayo Dot execute to near flawless brilliance. They wind and weave through five tracks of sheer intelligence, carving out sounds and spaces the likes of which you may have never heard. "Gamma Knife" is as sharp as its title conveys, but as smooth as Coltrane ever played.

9/10

Official Site - http://www.kayodot.net/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/kayodot
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mare Infinitum - Sea Of Infinity (2011)



Defining themselves as atmospheric black metal, Mare Infinitum brings you depressive sounds and demonic growls in their new album, entitled “Sea Of Infinity.” It’s five tracks of magnificent composing blackened by devilish vocals and overwhelming guitar riffs. They balance this well with a mix of gorgeous strings and angelic piano keys. The tracks run anywhere from nine to twelve minutes long so prepare yourself for this lengthy album.

Thundering drums rolls and mean guitar riffs blast into the first track, entitled “In Absence We Dwell.” Rumbling toms and snapping snares shake violently for the first two minutes of this 14 minutes masterpiece. Short clips of low demonic growling jump in and out between riffs as the distortion hits you in the face. Eerie string lay gently in the background while evil melodies continue to blare through the verse. The drum fills towards the middle of the song are absolutely mind blowing. Definitely make sure to check them out. The strings play more of a role as the song progresses to the five minute mark. Uplifting chords lift you for a slight moment as they layer them over the chugging guitar riffs. The dark growls take over with a devilish delivery. Soon after, everything becomes silent except for a light wind sound effect that lingers in the distance. As the wind whispers quietly, it begins to draw you in closer and closer as you are curiously waiting for what is next. Slowly enters a melancholy guitar riff full of depression and darkness. You are then surprisingly hit with clean vocals about nine and a half minutes in. This is followed by an eerie yet beautiful guitar solo that sweeps you off your feet with its gorgeous melodies. What a way to start off the album.

“Sea Of Infinity” is another lengthy track that runs for a little under ten minutes long. It starts with screaming guitars blasting from left to right. Each chord crashes right into the next as cymbals collide in the background. A light chant of clean vocals fade in for a short period of time but is then taken over by demonic growls. The two sets of vocals go back and fourth throughout the track as they are accompanied by a beautiful piano riff that adds light to this depressive scene. A melodic guitar solo rocks you to sleep towards the end of the song as soothing strings accompany them in slow depressive tempos.

Swampy guitars come rumbling in with heavy distortion in “Beholding The Unseen.“ The snare slams heavily in between each thumping kick in a very slow motion. More monstrous growls open up the first verse. Deep guitar chugging consumes the background. Halfway through the song, the growling vocals are mashed together with the clean vocals as they perform the same lyrics together giving clear and yet monstrous tones through the refrain. The delivery is phenomenal. “November Euphorio” develops a little more slower than the last track as depressive strings open up the song. About two minutes later enters piano riffs, booming drums and echoing guitars. Crying guitar solos take over most of the song as they are backed up with destructive minor chords and soft strings. The song goes back and forth from dark and depressing to absolutely beautiful.

“In The Name Of My Sin” is the closing track that runs for over twelve minutes long. They continue with their slow opening starts as repetitive guitar riffs take over the first three minutes of the song. Exploding drum fills collide in the background as monstrous growling vocals enter. More crying guitars enter shortly after as they surround you with sadness. The drum fills begin to get more detailed as well. Definitely make sure to listen closely. Ground shaking guitar riffs beat you down constantly throughout the rest of the song as the vocals destrioy you one last time.

Mare Infinitum does a tremendous job with the delivery of “Sea Of Infinity.” You’re able to capture every depressive detail with their slow tempos and melodies. The vocals are performed well throughout the entire album as they continued to knock down everything in their way. There were a few elements that really reminded me of the band Ahab. They carry a very similar style in their guitars and song structure. Definitely check out “Sea Of Infinity.” It’s an album you won’t want to miss.

8.5/10

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/mare_infinitum_official
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Alcest - Les Voyages de L'âme (2012)



After reimagining the original EP, "Le Secret," and launching yet another side project, Old Silver Keys, Neige has returned to his main attraction, atmospheric post-black metal band Alcest. And oh, the pressures of releasing an album in the first week of a new year. In eight tracks, and some 51 minutes, he controls the fate of the metal world for 2012. Ok, maybe not. But... he could. On "Les Voyages de L'âme," or "journeys of the soul" for the uncultured like myself, Neige and company wander through the world of sound and color, discovering endless forests of sadness and beauty. Happy New Year, indeed.

The decision that most bands face is which song best fits the "lead" role, with so much momentum hanging in the balance. The first single from the album, "Autre Temps," fits the bill to perfection, beginning with softly played notes, evolving into clean strumming. It is enough to welcome you, while also catching your ear with the melody. After a sweetly delivered verse, the chorus erupts with a flurry of drum fills and beautiful chanting vocals. The layered soundscapes that are created here are vintage Alcest, with a bittersweet combination of purity and melancholy seeing you through the haze. This isn't a b-side from "Ecailles de Lune," but rather a step in a more emotional direction. The more atmospheric "Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles" follows, with a strong focus on distorted, but manageable, guitar riffs leading the way. The emergence of a smooth, flowing bass line takes things to a new level. The drumming has been elevated as well, with a myriad of fills, rolls, and precisely timed cymbal crashing sizzling through your speakers. The more raw black metal style makes an appearance, but with a noticeable difference. The vocals have less of effects laden take, with Neige's scream coming through in the most dynamic form, rather than coated with delay and reverb. The driving riffs that dominate the second half of the track will surely burrow into your mind, lingering for days after.

The title track to the album,"Les Voyages de L'âme," emits a blue glow from it's down tempo verse section. But the double kicks roll through the bridge and chorus sections with all the fury of a perfect storm. The build up is incredible, from simple notes to an immense wall of sound and sadness. The emotional weight carried in Neige's voice is tremendous, even for those of us who simply do not have the mental capacity to speak French. It is as if, at times, language is a state of mind. One that, when absorbed can change your mood without any idea of "understanding." Ahem. Sorry. Got a little sidetracked there. Moving on to "Nous Sommes L'Emeraude," a track which finds Alcest at their melodic best, the rich layered guitars take a spotlight all their own. Lightly strummed clean notes fall together with rapid distorted chords in a fractured harmony. Once again, the drums deserve mention, whether it be for the simple things like keeping time, and playing each portion with deadly precision, or for the more intricate fills that tie verse and chorus together. This is a band, a sound, that has evolved into something far beyond previous efforts.

A delicate chanting female voice opens "Beings Of Light," with light synthesizers taking up the rear. The beauty of the intro isn't truly seen until the bands erupts from inside, rapid drumming and chords tearing through the fabric. There is no relaxing from this point on, with this tempo keeping up for nearly the entire six minutes of the track. High speed distortion, paired with chanting, melodic vocals, all forming a perfect match. It seems to fade away far too soon, despite an extended playing time. But stumbling right into "Faiseurs De Mondes" is a piece of planning that should be commended. The music remains melodic and moving, while the vocals descend into a dark place, taking a raw approach in the verse. But, as is the norm, there is a give and take between harsh and heavenly, with the latter seeing it's fair share of time here. The clean guitar work is refreshing after the assault of the previous nine or so minutes. There is a relaxing quality to be found, putting you at ease, but feeling somehow empty at the same time. The pairing of dark and light isn't limited to one style, but there is a flip side as well. The heavy, demonic music can just as easily split time with lighter vocals, as it does here. Rattling drums and guitars can add to the atmospheric tone. The soft, clean interlude "Havens" gives you a moment to breathe and reflect on the previous six tracks, while preparing you for the closing track, "Summer's Glory." There is an understated, simple beauty in each and every note, chord and snare. One that defies description, and simply must be heard to be enjoyed.
 
Neige and his work with Alcest are not easily pigeonholed into one style or genre. He walks a path that, in my experience, has yet to be explored. The ability to somehow juxtapose the differing styles is what keeps you listening, and what keeps the album flowing from one track to the next. And while this album is certainly a lateral movement from the previous work, they do share common ground. Everything you loved about "Le Secret," "Souvenirs de Autre Monde," and "Ecailles de Lune" can all be found in the shades of blue and gray that the "journeys of the soul" have to offer. But doesn't it just sound better to call it "Les Voyages de L'âme"?

9.5/10

Official Site - http://www.alcest-music.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/alcestmusic

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