Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth (2012)

Testament, the veterans of thrash metal, are back with a brand new album for 2012 and from the sounds of it, they are here to stay. The new album is called "Dark Roots Of Earth." It's got a total of nine tracks with 4 extra bonus tracks to top things off. Lead guitarist, Eric Peterson, has really taken this group above and beyond where anyone ever thought that they would go. The guitar riffs in this album really communicate with you and send a powerful message.

The album starts out with vicious guitar riffs that blast away with wild melodies and heavy chugging riffs. The drums come in and completely kick your ass with booming drum rolls and complex fills. The verses contain aggressive shouting vocals that'll knock your teeth in. You're definitely going to bobbing your head from front to back. There's a lot of energy coming off of this opener. What a great way to kick off an album. Then your hit with more wild guitar notes in "Native Blood." The wild melodies whip back and forth while deep bass lines rumble beneath you. The vocals echo high over the instruments with a monstrous delivery. Clearly lead singer, Chuck Billy, still has it in him. Towards then middle of the track you're hit with and amazing guitar solo that shreds up and down the musical scale like it's nothing. Meanwhile rapid double bass pedal drums roll right through you with quick speed.

Songs like "Dark Roots Of Earth" and "Cold Embrace" lean more towards the ballad side as they incorporate soothing acoustic guitars mixed with distorted guitars display a more mellow tone. The best thing about some of these slower tracks is that you're able to really get close and personal with the drum rolls. Each fill with have you jaw dropping to the floor in seconds. The drums really keep the track aggressive even though the lighter vocals and guitars show a more mellow side to the album. It's definitely a great mix of beauty and the beast type of sound. Then you'll come across a song like "Throne Of Thorns" which has a little bit of everything from the album all in one track. The beginning starts out slower with gorgeous guitars and strings adding a gloomy feel to the mix. Then your hit with punishing guitar riffs that slowly start to to speed up as the a constant kick steps in giving you a solid beat to bash your head to. The vocals take over with hell raising lyrics and a very dark and aggressive delivery. They even include some some haunting clean spoken word that plays well with the story line. This seven minute masterpiece with definitely have you wanting to hit replay as soon as you finish hearing it the first time. The distortion effects on the guitars are just absolutely mind blowing. They even throw in some futuristic sound effects on the vocals giving them a very tripping sound. And of course, you are then hit with another godly guitar solo. They just keep getting better and better throughout the album.

The final track on the album, entitled "Last Stand For Independence," is an explosive piece that constantly sends bone crushing drum fills and melodic riffs. They manage to fit tons of wicked riffs that will have you completely addicted to the album. The vocals continue to stay aggressive with harsh shouting tones. Meanwhile guitar solos jump in and out rapidly giving you no time to even catch your breath. Chugging riffs keep the track heavy and make you want to throw up your devil horns while the solos hypnotize you deep into the track. The track is less than five minutes long so definitely make sure you back to this one a few times. You're gonna need to in order to catch all of the details. Once you hit the end of the album you will discover four bonus tracks that the band has added. You'll find covers of Queen, Scorpion, and Iron Maiden. They also include an extended version of "Throne Of Thorns" which is definitely a must hear track so make sure you check it out.

Testament is bigger and better than ever. "Dark Roots Of Earth" is a skull shattering, fist bashing album that will completely destroy your speakers. The guitar solos alone are out of this world as you'll love them more and more through each track. The drums will absolutely blow you away with each and every kick and snare. This is definitely an album you do not want to miss out on so check it out!


Official Site - http://testamentlegions.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/testamentlegions
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Monday, July 30, 2012

Officium Triste & Ophis - Immersed (Split) (2012)

What do you get when two masters of doom come together for a four song split EP? No, this isn't a joke. There is no punchline. You get "Immersed," the new split from Holland's Officium Triste and German doom band Ophis. While the concept of a split is often clouded, two new songs by each are better than none, a fact on which we can surely agree. There may not be any revelations to be had here, but for the uninitiated, or those who struggle to find new music, this is the perfect showcase of doom styles, distinct and different. Through their respective pairs of songs, both bands give you a taste of what is to come.

The first two tracks, provided by Officium Triste, carry all the wight of their traditional doom style. The heavy guitars and low end focus of "Repent" is the perfect way to start the offering. Underneath it all, synthesizers mimic the sound of a organ, creating an eerie, almost haunting mood. Through alternating quiet and loud portions, they continue to tear down the mix, then build it back up from nothing. In the softer segments, the keys take the lead, while the rolling double kicks and distorted guitars command the heavier sections. The vocals are deathly in tone, with low roars shaking you to your core. The much longer "Bittersweet Memories" takes its time building to a boil, with spoken words helping along the way. Guitar chords linger and fade long after they are struck, disappearing in time for strings to cry out. What stands out here is the way the band fuses traditional doom with a more melodic, progressive version. The use of strings and keys takes their sound to a different level than their contemporaries. By using both styles, both methods, they keep a track that stands at nearly eleven minutes fresh, with a constant shift back and forth.

Unlike their fellow doomsters, Ophis leave out the melodic approaches, and combine their doom with old school death metal, a result that is clear on "Storm Of Shards." The tempo remains true to the traditional doom paradigm at times, but with far more aggressive drumming along the way. Whereas the previous duo of tracks saw and infusion of spoken word or melodic vocal passages, you will find more death metal inspired grunts and roars here, tinged with black metal influences. The pacing increases over the course of the track, erupting several times into a full on thrash. The guitars try to keep pace with the drums, which are lightning fast and deadly accurate in every swing of the stick. The more ominous "The Mirthless" may very well be the only way you could end this offering. There is something in the way the song is written, the way the guitars pummel you without ever really getting too aggressive, that leaves you feeling battered. Machine gun snares only increase that feeling of battery. The addition of cleaner guitars works wonders for the sound, one that syncs up with modern death/doom. And despite a daunting length, one that might scare away those unfamiliar, there is no filler, no space that could have been removed.

For two powerhouse bands with similar fanbases, a split might seem futile and pointless. But somehow, Officium Triste and Ophis make this feel like more of a joint effort than most splits offer, one that may have you thinking each set of two songs really was half of a whole. Both flex their respective muscles and, through the ears of the other, may in fact expand their reach. And while two songs may only be enough to wet your proverbial whistle, it is a great sign of things to come. With new albums on the horizon for both outfits, "Immersed" is the perfect way to get your feet wet.


Officium Triste
Official Site - http://www.officiumtriste.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/officiumtristeholland

Official Site - http://www.ophisdoom.de/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/ophisdoom
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 54 (Clever title goes here)

Another week, another undisclosed location for the podcast. As the apocalypse rains down from the sky, we brave the elements to talk about some of the reviews for the past week. Justin travels to Germany for Leviathan, and up to Norway for classic power metal from Cyclophonia. Darrell goes back to Italy for Kalidia, and all the way to Ukraine for the death/doom assault of Edenian. Every week we see more and more great releases, eh?

Download. Here. Now.
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sinister Frost: The Interview

After Justin stumbled unknowingly into their pit of symphonic black metal, Russia's Sinister Frost gave us a lot of things to ponder. So much so, that we felt the need to reach out to them for some answers. We sat down to discuss the imagery of the name, the music itself, and how the Russian people respond to metal in the modern age. A special thanks to Philip and the entire Sinister Frost team!

First and foremost, we want to thank you all for taking the time to answer our questions. What made you guys decide to go with the name, "Sinister Frost,"and what kind of imagery do you think it creates?

Sinister Frost:
Hello. Firstly the band had a “Wolves of Hell” title. After a short period of time we decided to change it. The reason was not a full correspondence of old title with the concept of the band and us as persons in overall. Sinister Frost – it’s not just a name of the band. It means us. The band presents the darkest aspects of the soul, the absence of love and compassion. It’s like an icy indifference. Furthermore, we believe that Hell – if it exists – is a devilishly cold area.

How did you guys come up with the album title, "Cryotorment?"

Sinister Frost:
Cryotorment may be represented as the suffering from the Cold or as the frozen torture. In general it means the same icy indifference. This title reflects our concept.

Your music has some pretty complex riffs and song structure. Who does most of the writing, musically? What is the process like for each track?

Sinister Frost:
Generally the music is composed by Upsetcross. There are no special schemes. The main goal is to make any track unique. It should be different from the previous and the next one. That’s why each track has individual structure. Usually it’s a complex structure.

"Vicar of God Of The Death" really balances out the light and dark tones. Was there any significance to the track compared to the rest of the album?

Sinister Frost:
This track was composed at the very end. While the record process we allowed ourselves to experiment with the sound. The result was rather interesting and promising.

The vocals offer a very unique tone to the album. Who were some major influences as far as vocalists go?

Sinister Frost:
Vocals are the thing which we wanted to make original. There are a lot of bands with ordinary vocals and we don’t want to be the same. So we have two vocalists and our vocals hopefully aren’t so usual. At least we never used any kind of voice templates.

Your album artwork seems to fit the music perfectly. Where do you come up with the artwork?

Sinister Frost:
It seems that while the creation of artworks the designer was influenced by our common mood and different types of cold representations. The artworks were a great addition to the general concept and album atmosphere. Crytorment CD sheds the cold on its listener – even if it is on the counter of some music store!

What are your thoughts on fans downloading music? Do you think this helps bands spread their music around or do you think this ends up hurting bands because of low album sales?

Sinister Frost:
In the whole civilized world generally people are ready to pay for a CD or the uploaded track. To pay for anything that can be acquired for free in Russia is similar to bad manners. It’s sad but true. Here there’s almost no musical market at all. However in any case the band which doesn’t have a name yet can acquire it only via internet by spreading its art for free. As a matter of fact the leak of Cryotorment CD into the internet made this interview possible.

Are there any bands you would enjoy touring with in the near future? What kind of live show can we expect from Sinister Frost?

Sinister Frost:
Unfortunately, the organization of gigs and the quality of music gear on the local venues aren’t so great here.  We know that and that’s why we plan to make infrequent but quality gigs with our own equipment and the sound engineering crew (4-5 gigs per year). Undoubtedly we think that a musician should give all that he has got on the stage. The good gig is when you don’t have any strength to crawl to the dressing room after the concert.

That said, how do you think the look of the band (make-up, costume, etc) plays in to the live experience? Where did your physical style come from?

Sinister Frost:
The look of the band has a significant meaning. As well as music and lyrics have. Besides, it’s very important to combine well all these components. Especially it is necessary for the live gigs where the proper atmosphere must be created. The concert is like a show where people come and look at you. And you must make them pleased with themselves. The visual style of our band is connected with frozen world as well. We were influenced by the local climate conditions which sometimes could be rigorous.

We have listened to, reviewed, and watched quite a few bands from Russia recently. Some were good, and some were far from it. How do you feel about the current metal scene in Russia, and what other bands do you think are helping to make your home a better place for metal?

Sinister Frost:
Now when the internet is available for all of us and it is unlimited, people here almost stopped to attend the gigs. This fact had a bad influence on gig promoters and organizers. Furthermore, now it’s much easier to buy the music gear. Considering this fact, it’s understandable why there are a lot of new bands appear. Most of them do not function long and usually they are replaced by the new ones. It’s so sad that this doesn’t make the music as a whole better in most of the situations. So you have to work hard to mark yourself from all this chaos around.

Lastly, falling into the black metal genre, how difficult is it to separate yourselves from the rest of the genre? How much resistance have you been met with by people who confuse the music of black metal, with the ideology (church burnings, etc)?

Sinister Frost:
Now by the efforts of true black metal fans any deflection from the genre is estimated like a natural heresy. Initially we didn’t plan to build any kind of borders. For example, there’s a death metal passage in the track. If it sounds well why not to put it in the whole song? The dogmatism creates monotony and prevents you from the real and unique art. As for the resistance from other people… All began while USSR age when our young people firstly began to be interested in heavy music. Unfortunately, they didn’t know how to do it and that’s why their behavior was a bit cheap and absurd. Everybody jeered at them. Unfortunately even now – after about three decades – such defiance is still here even if our metal fans became better in all aspects. We know that and we will do anything we can to make the Russian people change their point of view.

Thanks again for your time and insight. We will be waiting, anxiously, for whatever comes next.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Cyclophonia - Impact Is Imminent (2012)

All the way from the Norwegian black metal scene comes... a power metal band? Yes, Cyclophonia goes above and beyond what Norway is known for in their metal world and delivers you a brand new power metal album by the name "Impact Is Imminent." This album has got eight tracks of soaring vocals, crazy double bass pedal drumming and relentless guitar solos that carry you into a whole other world.

The album opens with "Impact Is Imminent" which jumps right into fast chugging guitars and galloping double bass pedals that'll have you bobbing your head right away. The vocals enter with epic clean singing that reaches high and low octaves. The style of music definitely reminds me of the power metal band Freedom Call. The even hit you with an insane guitar solo towards the end of the track. Wild melodies run up and down the scales with lightning speed. this is definitely a great opener to this fast pace album.

"Warbird" continues with chugging guitars and high pitch vocals in the verses. The drum rolls become even more complex sending thunderous beats at you violently. The refrain is loaded with catchy melodies and lyrics that'll have you singing along in no time. The guitar solo comes out of no where in the middle of the song and will definitely knock you out of your chair. The speed of the solo is just mind blowing as gorgeous melodies fly through the air. More explosive drum patterns beat you into the ground in "The Mirror." The vocals are aggressive but jump up and down in pitch giving you a good mix of operatic sounds and classic rock tones. The refrain grabs you immediately with catchy high pitch vocals and melodic guitars in the background. Monstrous drum rolls rumble beneath you as you're attacked by shattering cymbals from above. Also the double bass pedal patterns are absolutely tremendous. You'll definitely find yourself going back to this track again.

Later in the album you'll come across the song "The Hero." It starts with fading echoing vocals that smash right into heavy distorted riffs along with detailed drum rolls. The verses continue with the melodic riffs as epic clean singing come in with solid vocals. The refrain is what really draws you into this track. It contains some really catchy lyrics that'll definitely be stuck in your head for days. A gorgeous piano riff follows into the middle of the song along with deep bass lines and calm tempos. An electric guitar slowly fades in on top playing a beautiful ballad solo that will sweep you right off of your feet. They then cut right back to the aggressive galloping drums and fast guitar work. This is definitely the backbone to the album and is a must hear if your looking for their best work. This goes for "Hand Of The Righteous" as well. The guitar melodies are upbeat an full of excitement and the chorus is full of catchy lyrics that will have you singing along immediately.

It's tough for power metal bands to really stand out now a days but Cyclophonia has shown that they can stand out from other bands and have their own sound. The guitar work on the album is absolutely astonishing and will send chills down your spine with every riff. The lead vocalist has a solid delivery and can really hit all kinds of notes and pitch. They definitely have an epic side and an aggressive side to them. Keep an eye out for this band and their future projects.


Official Site - http://www.cyclophonia.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/cyclophonia
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Edenian - Winter Shades (2012)

Beauty and the beast. We use that phrase so often to describe the world of metal; the way a harsh male vocal somehow fits like a puzzle piece with a heavenly female voice. Separately, they would be enough to delight fans the world over. Together, they can move mountains. Edenian, a six piece from Ukraine, work this combination with the skill and savvy of the best of them. But with a band that was merely an idea two years ago, and only truly came into being last year, the contrast is as impressive as it is powerful. On their debut album, "Winter Shades," this newcomer may quickly remind you of one of the titans of the death/doom genre.

A short intro, titled "Decadent Blossoms," gets things started with a sense of beauty. Light piano keys and airy synthesizers fill the air, before landing squarely into "Thy Heavens Wept In Mourn." You are immediately taken to familiar territory, a sound that may echo the previous output of Draconian. The striking voice of Samantha Sinclair plays the perfect contrast to not only the grating male vocals, but also the heavy distorted guitars. The verse sections are down tempo and simplistic, with a consistent drum beat and piano riff backing Sinclair. But as the chorus nears, the walls come down, and the full bands explodes onto the scene. They are at their best in segments like these, at full volume and full power. As you roll into the title track, "Winter Shades," you get some of the strongest, and weakest points all in one. The combination of light, ethereal segments and massive splashes are excellent, making each separate portion stand out all that much more. But the clean male vocal falls slat, but literally and figuratively, taking away from the overall sound of the track. The drumming, however, transcends the vocal missteps, with blast beats and fills that ring out well beyond.

Beginning with a spoken word segment, "The Field Where I Died" carries an emotional weight, both musically and lyrically. Synthesizers make up the backbone for the track, always present in some form. The deathly growls shake you to the core, before the off key clean vocals enter. Despite their lack of punch compared to their counterparts, they don't throw things off the same way they did before, thanks largely to a well crafted musical portion. Unlike many bands who flood their music with constant double kicks, they are used sparingly here, heightening their impact. The beauty of light piano keys returns on "When I Gave Her My Eden," eventually enveloped in a rattling distortion. Sinclair also makes her return to the fold, carry the torch through the verse sections. This may fit in as the strongest track on the album, giving you everything you have come to expect from the death/doom genre, but with a power that is often lacking in newer acts. The guitar riffs carry the aura of darkness, both in their fluttering notes and massive chord work. And, unlike some of their predecessors, the harsh male vocals, provided by Alexander Ovchinnikov and Vladimir Tsymbal have depth and variety.

A tempo change is in order for the early stages of "Embittered Silence," taking a more subdued approach in the first verse section. But as Sinclair enters in the chorus, things come back to life, rolling like thunder under the higher register of her voice. The screams sound pained, as if carrying the weight of so many wrongs from before. This makes them, in some way, relatable and easier to understand. The shifts back and forth from slow to fast, clean to distorted, create a great sense of style. In a band with so many moving pieces, it seems odd to say that the drumming takes center stage at any point, but it does just that in "Beauty Entwined." The layers of distortion part for a barrage of percussion. Every snare, every cymbal, every kick hit you squarely between the eyes. When stacked in cooperation with clean and heavy guitars, and dueling vocals, you are left with a sound that is larger than life, and bigger than you could expect. Intertwined with the heavenly vocals of Sinclair, "Fall The Dusk" also boasts some spoken words that enhance the mood created. It is almost frightening how a beautiful voice can make the most painful words seem so much less so, as if an angel is delivering the death sentence.

Another well rounded track, "Burning Horizon," occupies the tale end of the album, giving you as much as you can handle from the darker vocal styles. Each deathly growl, every grunt finds a place. Followed closely by a stunning female voice, that of Sinclair, gives it all a layer of polish. The band is in full force by now, with every separate element melding together in a fractured, and frightening, harmony. The death/doom style is played to perfection here, combining that raging distorted guitar work with a booming drum kit. Each note is played like it could be their last, an excellent way to treat it all. Even the choreographed stop before the final push is enough to get a fist up in triumph. The finale, an outro by the name of "Beneath An Abstract Sun," plays at your heartstrings with an array of strings and synthesizers playing the saddest tune you will find on the album. single piano keys rings out above it all, bringing you full circle.

For every shining star in any given musical genre, there is always a need for a breath of fresh air to keep things from going stale. So while the death/doom arena is packed to the rafters with impressive bands from all over the world, Edenian bring so much to the party that it is impossible to ignore them. Whether or not this album is beginner's luck remains to be seen, but there are an awful lot of brilliantly written and executed passages to be considered luck. Instead, it would be safer to assume that we will not only hear more from this Ukranian six piece, but that it will be equal to the challenge of the sophomore slump. In the meantime, take "Winter Shades" with you on the gloomiest of days, and show the storm who is boss.


Bandcamp - http://edenian.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Edenian/168859386497489
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Leviathan - Beyond The Gates Of Imagination Pt. 1 (2011)

A powerful album was released last year by Leviathan, and no I'm not talking about the sea beast. I'm talking about the young melodic death metal band from Germany. The five piece have put together some extraordinary music clashing together some outstanding guitar work along with powerful drum patterns that really give the band potential to stand out. The album does have a few draw backs to it but if you can get passed them then it's definitely an album worth hearing.

The first track, the "Prologue," opens up the album with a wildly melodic instrumental that blends melodic guitars with heavy chugging riffs along with soothing keyboards that float in the background. The drumming in this opener is overwhelming with shattering hi hats and thunderous kicks and snares. And if you like this then you're gonna love "Beneath A Blackened Sky." It opens with calm keyboards and strings that give a very medieval feel to the mix. Machine gun double bass pedals come roaring in with tremendous speed. Distorted guitars light up the track with reckless melodies that will blow your mind. The verses come in with very harsh growling and a very aggressive delivery. Unfortunately the growls lean more towards the lighter "hardcore" screams and really turned me off of the album. I think a set of solid death metal vocals would have been a lot better for this kind of music. The instruments continue to stay amazing in "Where Light And Death Unite" as they come through with a wicked guitar solo completely destroying the musical scale. Epic double bass pedals come rumbling in with relentless snares and exploding cymbals. This is all followed by an incredible piano solo that is absolutely astonishing.

Beautiful piano riffs open "Reaper's Edict" that immediately grab your attention. Distorted guitars fade in with the same melody adding a strong build up to the song. Soon after come booming drums that'll have you throwing your devil horns in the air. The verses are fill with detailed drum rolls that constantly change pattern and beat you into the ground. The vocals still have that weakness to them as they take over the verses. If they just dropped their tone to a deeper punch then i think they would be powerful. The guitars continue with their awesomeness giving you a wild guitar solo that will send chills down your spine. With all theses creative melodies from each instrument, it definitely had me going back and replaying this track a few times.

If you're loving the guitar work on this album as much as i am then you're gonna love "About Fangs And Feathers." It opens with a bone crushing guitar solo and complex drum rolls that will knock you right out of you chair. Catchy guitar riffs follow afterwords with monstrous chugging and heavy bass lines that play along side. The vocals switch up a lot in the track. Of course you have the heavier screaming and the higher pitched screaming but then you come across some clean vocals that seem like they really fit the music better. They add a more epic feel to the album and i definitely could picture more of this throughout the album. Besides this you're hit with another hell raising guitar solo along with some punishing drum rolls mixing toms, snares, and kicks with solid detail. You'll definitely find yourself going back to this track multiple times.

"Beyond The Gates Of Imagination Pt. 1" turns out to be a pretty awesome album setting aside the vocals. I think if they got some heavier death metal vocals in there music then then they would be set. The guitar work on the album is absolutely mind blowing and will definitely shock you the first time you hear it. The drumming was also very impressing giving tons of different blast beats complex rolls. Leviathan definitely has a lot of potential and it'l be interesting where they take their talents.


Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/leviathanmelodicdeath
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kalidia - Dance Of The Four Winds (EP) (2012)

With the amount of time we have spent reviewing great metal bands from Italy, we wouldn't be completely crazy to think that the entire population has a band or two of their own. And while some aren't quite ready for primetime, relative newcomers Kalidia are proving to be a force. Formed just shy of two years ago, this five piece have already shown a command over the power metal genre, crafting tracks that would be difficult for even the most seasoned of bands. On their debut EP, "Dance Of The Four Winds" they give you four tracks of classic power metal that may launch them into the up stratosphere of their country, and their genre.

Subscribing to the assertion that you may as well hit with your biggest punch first, "The Lost Mariner" blasts into action with a thick layer of keys and symphonics. Joined soon after by the drums, bass, and guitars, you have already been hit by a tidal wave before you even enter the meat of the track. Vocalist Nicoletta Rosellini manages to take things to an even higher level, with a voice that is both powerful and full of energy. Her voice, much like that of Nightwish's Annette Olzen, is accessible for the casual fan, without being overbearing. Instead, she complements each musical passage well, leaving the door open for the true "team" effort. Trading solos, guitarist Federico Paolini and keyboardist Nicola Azzola complete the well rounded sound, especially when backed by the top notch rhythm section of Alessandro Cecchini and Roberto Donati. The track, topping the six minute mark, flies by as if it was a mere three.

Rather than take a step back, the band moves forward, as "Winged Lords" wastes no time getting to the heart of the matter. The classic power metal sound permeates all, with rolling double kicks and surgic ally precise snare/cymbal rolls. The vocal progression is delightful, giving you a bounty of emotionally charged lyrical content, and a delivery that is sure to move you. The bass line, not to be ignored or downplayed, is the perfect way to drive the track ahead, smoothly and soundly. Bursts of symphonics over wailing guitar riffs provides the perfect vessel for a rich vocal harmony. It would seem odd to say that "Reign Of Kalidia" carries a much darker edge than the previous tracks, but there is an element of evil present in the beauty. There are some catchy riffs to be digested here, the trademark of all great power metal, and Paolini does just that with expert hands. But as each chorus hits, the massive waves of drums are the star, rolling through with a rumbling low end, one that matches with Rosellini's voice. As they handle the lower register, a guitar solo that hits the higher octaves screams through, setting you up for the final burst.

The finale, while certainly a more subdued one than you might have expected, shows a more complete side to the band. "Shadow Will Be Gone" gives you a taste of the versatility at play, whether it be in the different tempos and time signatures, or just in the individual performances. Rosellini flexes her vocal muscle, despite the more ballad-esque style, and places herself squarely in the vein of some of the top names in the female metal community. Once again, Azzola adds the perfect touches of keys to it all, even without dramatically altering the flow of the song. Subtle pieces work best here, and he manages to be impactful without disturbing the balance. A short, but altogether successful guitar solo brings it all full circle, allowing the track to return to it's foundation and cruise to a finish.

For a band that hasn't even reached its second birthday, there is certainly a veteran sound to this debut. Kalidia have found their groove, found their niche, and are making it all seem easy. This isn't to say there aren't small bits that can be improved, slight touches that will most definitely be ironed out after some time together. But what we do have is a band that is ready to take themselves to the next step in the process, one that will catapult them to the top of an increasingly competitive Italian metal scene. But with the vocal command of a strong frontwoman, and the textbook display of musical control, "Dance Of The Four Winds" may be just the EP to get them there.


Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/kalidiaband
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/KalidiaBand
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Snailking - Samsara (2012)

Another powerful three piece steps into the world of metal and show's everyone their insane talent. Swedens' Snailking has recently released their new demo, entitled "Samsara" and it is everything you look for in a stoner sludge metal band. The powerful guitar riffs alone will have you bashing your head to the melody while the drums and bass reel you right into vicious shouting vocals.

The demo opens with a 14 and a half beast, entitled "Shelter." Sludge guitar riffs come blaring in with messy distortion. A basic drum pattern starts to pick up in the background giving you a solid beat to bob your head to. It starts off pretty progressive with the same few riffs in the beginning but eventually switches up about 4 minutes in. The drum rolls begin to get heavier along with more distortion that is added to the guitars. The vocals finally drop around the fifth minute sending a chill down your spine. The lyrics are delivered in a very harsh and aggressive tone that echoes throughout the track. You'll even been taken by surprise with the short growls that jump in and out of the middle of the track. The guitars stay heavy as the drums continue to pound you into the ground. You'll definitely be pumping your devil horns in the air at this time. You'll come across even darker guitar riffs with vicious distortion and a catchy tune. Make sure you have this track on high volume the entire time.

Some interesting reverse reverb starts off "In The Wake" adding a very futuristic and psychedelic sound to the mix. Gloomy sound effects also entire drawing a dark and unclear image. The drums waste no time as they jump right in with violent snare patterns and cymbals that splash recklessly in the background. The vocals step in soon after with more harsh shouting. Monstrous chugging guitars take over the background with consuming riffs that give you absolutely no time to breathe. The structure of the song is fantastic. The guitars change direction constantly while the drum patterns are constantly mixing things up as well. The track will leave you at the edge of your seat for sure.

The final track of the demo is "Samsara." This is the shortest of the tracks running at just over nine minutes long. Right away comes bone crushing riffs that will completely destroy your speakers. The verse cut right to the chase sending overwhelming shouting vocals with harsh tones. The surprise you with a wicked guitar solo in between the verses dropping wild melodic notes from all angles. The guitars continue to chug away as thunderous snares and kicks fire away behind them. The refrain has a little more of a melody to it even though the vocals are still shouting. The notes are held out longer giving you a chance to hear the guitars switch up in between. Overall this is definitely the heaviest of the tracks and will have you playing it over and over again.

Snailking gives you over 25 minutes of amazing music in this three track demo. The guitars waste no time getting straight to the point and blast anything that gets in their way. The vocals stay pretty constant and even add a few small surprises along the way. If this is what Snailking has to offer in just a short demo then I can't even imagine what a full length album would be like. Definitely check these guys out and experience it for yourself.


Official Site - http://snailking.bandcamp.com/
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 53 (No time for apolgisex)

This whole "undisclosed location" thing is starting to get out of hand. Tonight, we sat in a massive warehouse, metal ceilings and all, to talk about some of the metal we listened to last week. Justin is head over heels for Inborn Suffering, and perfectly content with the new album by Soundcrawler. And while Darrell wasn't blown away by the latest material from Agalloch, Minnesota's Earthrise gave him cause for hope. And so, as the latest season of Metalocalypse comes to a close, what is next for Dethklok, and for Brendon Small's brainchild?

Part 1, Skwisgaar.

Part 2, Toki.
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gorgantherron: The Interview

The story of the Gorgantherron will be passed down through generations. The chimps, their intergalactic journey, and their new found love of all things metal. But before we start to tell the story, nay, the legend, we sat down and got some straight answers from the men themselves.

First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Let's get the big one out of the way. Where did the name Gorgantherron originate, and what made it the obvious choice for your band name?

it was originally a gamertag i googled it... & it was un-used... gorgantherron has killed many skelletons.

Your bio is another story entirely. Literally. How did the three of you decide that that was the best way to introduce the masses to the story of the band, and your music?

That came about because we had started a facebook page, to invite our friends to shows and send to clubs to get gigs locally. People that book kind of expect a bio, but most bio's are kind of dry and boring. We had finished the song “Gorgantherron” recently. So, I just kind of fleshed that story line out. I showed it to the guys at the next practice, they said they liked it, so that's what we went with. We didn't really give it a lot of thought. We plan on continuing the story, just to see where it goes.

I want to take a quick detour and talk about the album artwork. First off, what is going on on the album cover? And who created the image?

The artwork, entitled "Leonid Meteor Shower", was painted by E. Weib in 1833 for an astronomy guide. We're inspired by science fiction and actual science, so what better way to mix science and doom than a portrayal of nature's fiery death in all directions? The Gorgantherron creature artwork on the disc itself was created by Keith Seifert of forbiddenzombie.com.

The new EP shows off a lot of different styles throughout, from blues and doom, which go hand in hand, to more punk based passages. Who were some of your biggest influences in creating your signature sound, and how did this evolve into what we know as Gorgantherron today?

I grew up in the 90s, so most of my influences came from those days. There's some Jimmy Chamberlain, Dave Grohl, Matt Cameron, etc. I've also always been in love with Led Zeppelin, so that can't help but peek through. Joining Gorgantherron has actually opened me up to a whole world of music I didn't know about. I can't get enough doom!

Jimi Hendrix Experience(the whole band, I love Mitch as much as Jimi), Dead Kennedys, Melvins, 50's chicago blues, 60's psych, 70's blues-rock and prog, 80's hardcore punk. Toby: Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Sleep.

"Cemetary Shoes" quickly became our favorite track on EP. Clint's guitar work on this track is the best on the album. What do you think separates your playing from your peers, and how does that come out in this song in particular?

That's a tough question, because I'm my own worst critic. I can't shred, so I feel like I have to focus on melody and phrasing. I don't know if that sets me apart because there are so many players out there that blow me away. It's interesting that your favorite is Cemetery Shoes, because there are several spots in that song where I didn't quite get what I was reaching for.

There seems to be this misconception that to play heavy music, specifically anything doom inspired, your tracks have to be ten minutes long. Your track times vary, from three minutes up to six or so. How do you know that a track is enough, and have you ever felt that something could ever been "too short"? Do you even look at the track times when you write or record?

As much as i love the drone... i like songs that can be a little more to the point... most of ours are 4 or under on purpose... but we may have some longer songs on the horizon...

As best we can tell, Evansville, Indiana is home to lot of up and coming, or dreaming, metal bands. What is the overall music scene like in your home town, and where does metal fit in?

Evansville is definitely friendlier to cover bands than to originals. If you can get enough people to go wild when you play "Crazy Bitch" you'll be invited back. There is, however, a strong presence of passionate original bands and quite a few venues that are willing to let us play. There are a lot of mind-blowing metal bands in Evansville who really put a lot of time into their songs and it shows. At any given metal show there will be a crowd made up of mostly people from other metal bands, so we're a very supportive lot.

You are active on Facebook, obviously, but how has the social media world affected you guys, as a band? Do you think your shows lead to a better online presence, or does your online presence bring more people to the shows?

Facebook gets a few more people in.. I'm pretty happy it's around.

Along that same line, Bandcamp has become the primary method of up and coming bands to promote and distribute their music. How do you feel about the way that portion of the music industry is functioning, and what has your experience been in selling your merchandise through Bandcamp?

I'm thrilled to be playing and recording in a time when distribution is possible without the aid of a record company. We're able to reach fans in Sweden, Australia, or wherever we happen to get noticed. The minor downside is that it's just as easy for every other band, so sites like Bandcamp and Reverbnation are very crowded, making it difficult to stand out. Bandcamp has overall been a very good experience. It leaves the control in the hands of the artists, which is never a bad thing.

It is hard to avoid the topic at this point, so I will ask. The Randy Blythe story has gotten some major lip service throughout the metal world. So, if/when a fan comes at you on stage, what do YOU do?

I played in a band where shows would regularly get out of hand. Our singer, on many occasions, shoved people off stage. I've pushed people out of my way, but I don't think they ever hit the ground. My thoughts are, if you're going to get in my way while I'm trying to play for people that paid to get in, you should expect a negative reaction. There's a difference between stage diving and interfering.

So, the new EP is out and ready for purchase over at your Bandcamp site, along with two T-shirt designs. You have shows booked, including Indiana's Kaos Fest next month. The question is... what's next?

We're working on getting out of town more. Playing for new people. We're always working on new material. This whole thing has just kind of happened, we're really just making it up as we go along. Toby and I started playing together, just to play. And we still are, but now Chris is on board and people are responding to what we're doing. It's very gratifying, but mostly it's just fun. So that is our plan: Have More Fun.

Thanks again for giving us some of your time. We are looking forward to the next album, and the next part of the story.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Vesperia - The Swordsman (EP) (2012)

We do our best to seek out new and exciting bands to review. We do this, of course, not only for ourselves, but for you. But every now and then, a band or album lands squarely on our laps, sent to us by a band, fan, or label. Such is the case for Vesperia, a Canadian band that classifies their style simply as "Symphonic Celtic Death Metal." Yes, this Ontario based four piece is pushing the boundaries of metal once again, evolving from the brainchild of bassist and vocalist Morgan Rider. Released as a follow-up to their 2011 debut album, "Voyage From Vinland," this new four track EP will only serve to solidify what we already know. And "The Swordsman" is exactly as advertised.

Riding a cold wind, and one slide down the neck of the bass, the title track comes into frame. The rolling double kick drums are fast and furious, driving you deeper into the mix. In the guitars, you get speed and precision, but not mindless heaviness. Each segment runs perfectly into the next, with smaller melodies coming together to form one big one. Rider's bass work is electrifying, joining with drummer Cory Hofing in a dynamic rhythm section. The vocals are a highlight, switching from pure death growls to airy chant and clean singing. Even the light keyboard and piano effects do wonders for the mix. Following the same basic formula, "Huntress" finds itself built on a foundation of neverending drum fills and guitars, but with a twist. There is a folk tone to the way the music is played, something akin to Ensiferum, but with a decidedly death edge. The snare drum has a metallic sound, one that might make even Lars Ulrich cringe, a slight imperfection to a booming kit. It does, unfortunately highlight small problems in the recording process, but ones that are easy to overlook when you pay attention to the fluttering folk instrumentals at play.

A crackling fire welcomes you to "To End Times We Ride," joined soon by dueling guitars. Guitarists Tim Ferriman and Casey Elliott form the lead here, joined by rich strings. As a Viking styled chant emerges, you may find yourself pulled into the middle of the music. The faster paced opening gives way to a slower, more pounding segment, where Rider delivers his growls expertly. Everything from here seems to take an upbeat approach, almost victorious in scope. The Celtic influences are apparent, even though they are only used sporadically here. You can pick them out in the guitars, as well as the smaller use of ethnic instrumentation. A more delicate intro opens "A Silence Prolonging (In Longing)," with beautiful clean guitars forming a melody. There is a softer side, to both the band and the music, with Rider laying down a set of clean vocals atop of this newly found sensitivity. As the gang style vocals enter, there is the aura of chanting to behold, something that fits so well with the backing music. And an album that began with such a thunder ends with a whisper.

The folk metal genre is flooded with bands doing the exact same thing, at the exact same time. This, unfortunately, takes one of the most inspired genres, and makes it stale and unappealing. But Vesperia, with all their eccentric instrumentation and added influences, have the potential to reinvigorate things in a slightly new form. The balance of sound is what makes this EP so successful, putting out a pie that is divided equally among death, folk, symphonic and traditional heavy metal. The end product, despite the somewhat clouded production, should be enough to reignite a flame in some folk fans of yesterday. Canada damn near has it all, with free health care and "The Swordsman" under their belt.


Bandcamp - http://vesperia.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/VesperiaMetal
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Soundcrawler - Sandcrawler (2012)

Listing themselves as stoner metal, the band Soundcrawler has recently released their new album, entitled "Sandcrawler." The album consists of six solid tracks however i wouldn't quite call them stoner metal. They may have a few minor stoner influences but they definitely aim more towards a southern hard rock type of sound. Regardless what they are, the album is pretty solid.

The opening track, "A Truck On The Blazing Sands," starts with monstrous chugging guitars blaring with heavy distortion. The deliver a groovy southern sound to the mix and definitely get you pumped right off the bat. Crashing cymbals and relentless snares get you bobbing your head while smooth bass lines follow the guitars through the verse. Clean singing vocals come in with an old school type of feel. They're calm and yet direct and add aggression as the track goes on. "The Sandcrawler" starts out with wild guitar riffs and constant cymbals that blast away in the background. The upbeat tempo will have you throwing your devil horns up immediately. Towards the middle of the track comes a wicked bass solo that is followed by a melodic break down. The guitars have you leaning in all directions as they send powerful riffs at you from left to right. The drums pick up detail towards the end as constant toms and snares rumble heavily beneath you.

Things slow down drastically in "My Mind Is Going Away." Acoustic guitars take over with mellow tones and catchy melodies as soothing clean vocals step in. You'll definitely find yourself singing along after the first few minutes. About two and a half minutes in enters a wicked bass melody that completely hypnotizes you deep into the track. Eventually this relaxing track turns into an aggressive monster. The distortion comes roaring in with overwhelming drum rolls that pound you into the ground. By the end of the track you'll have forgotten all about the acoustic kick off.

"Escape" throws a quick bass line at you as hi hats follow and lead you right into monstrous chugging guitars. The heavy tones will have you up and stomping around for sure. The drum fills become more complex while the guitars get louder and louder with distortion. This three and a half minute instrumental leaves speechless and gives you no time to breath. The final track, "Redesign," opens with some funky bass lines followed by melodic guitar riffs and thunderous drums. The vocals continue to have a strong southern tone to them and fit perfect with the instruments around them.

Overall, "Sandcrawler" is a solid hard rock album with great recording quality and awesome structure. The track run perfectly into each other and each hold a unique sound separating them from the rest. This isn't going to reach anyone's top ten of the year list but it definitely has potential and makes Soundcrawler a band worth checking out.


Official Site - http://soundcrawler.bandcamp.com/album/the-sandcrawler
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Earthrise - Eras Lost (2012)

The scales of metal are starting to shift, with some of the most talented bands falling on the side of sludge. With this subgenre becoming one of the most popular, particularly in the United States, you can now find your fair share of great acts spread across this great nation of ours. From Iowa's Blizzard At Sea, to St. Louis' Fister and The Lion's Daughter, the bass heavy, distorted art form can't be stopped, even in the frozen north. Minnesota's Earthrise are no different, playing a brand of post metal that may leave you seeking out a lawyer for a personal injury suit. On their new album, "Eras Lost," this drunken four piece may give you a nasty case of whiplash.

After a brief spoken word, and crashing, distorted chord opens "Challenger Deep," resonating for seconds afterword. A rumbling bass line comes through, joined by the sizzle of cymbals. As heavy as the music is, there is always an underlying sense of melody to be had, even beneath the grating vocals. Every drum hit is deliberate, every down tuned chugging chord is not without purpose. Despite the ferocity of the lyrical delivery, there is substance to the screams, almost taking on the characteristics of free form poetry. Though, to be fair, it would be easy to lose sight of that amongst the bruising kick drums. It would be safe to call  "Titan" one of the heaviest tracks on the album, with a drum piece that is devastating. Once again, the grating vocals tear down any chance you had of surviving unscathed. And while the song may be one of the more simplistic pieces on the album, it is by no means a sleeper. A short, but equally enjoyable solo pops up, giving you one last push before the crashing end.

You get lost in the smooth instrumental of "Suspension," with a minimal vocal addition, in a way that has become synonymous with the post metal genre. The music isn't overly complicated, but intensely rich. It elicits a slow head nod with each blast beat, a visual approval. Almost a continuation, "Former Worlds" begins with that slow melody and an atmospheric blast of distortion. The vocal passages remain sparing in comparison to the multiple layers and waves of instrumentals, but this time they have a dimming effect on things. The screamed lyrics don't evolve, leaving them stagnant in an ever changing musical landscape. But the rhythm section comes to the rescue, through sliding bass lines and surgically precise drum fills. Alternatively, "Polar Low" is a more complete affair, with the vocals doing their part to elevate the track, rather than bring it down. They find a stride here, allowing the band to lead, while the words follow suite. The true disappointment is how the vocal style itself will distract from what is a fairly impressive lyric sheet, full of poetry and wordplay. That aside, the distorted riffs at play are at war with the crashing cymbals, in a battle where everyone wins.

Standing out from the rest of the album, "Relentless" gives you a more melodic approach to the formula, with guitars, bass, and drums finding a comfort zone somewhere between solid and explosive. The drumming, in particular, is at a high point, with amazing detail put into every passing measure. More than anything, this feels like an extended interlude, a transition from one half to the next. And with that, "Mirovia" breaks through. There is a density at work that, while present in the earlier tracks, is taken to a new height here. Every down beat is a joining of a massive chord, and a thunderous array of drums. if you can prevent your brain from turning to complete mush under the weight of all of the pummeling of the outro, you will be handsomely rewarded with "Eighteen Hundred." Throwing melody to the side, this is a heavy exhibition of tempo changes and pure, unadulterated destruction. Don't hold your breath waiting for a dazzling solo or clean vocal lead. Much like the leaders of the sludge movement, this is the sonic beatdown you deserve.

After the assault and battery you have endured, "Transmission" gives you a few moments to breathe, with whining guitars echoing throughout the four minute piece. This is drum lead, with electronic elements coming in and out, mingled with radio transmissions. The final descent begins with "Exhale," a track which thankfully exhausts all of its lyrical and vocal load in the first half. The second half is a flowing instrumental, simplistic but powerful in its delivery. Once again, the drums take center stage, with each cymbal and tom finding the perfect place in the mix. Sure, the guitars set the tone, set the mood. But the way they bounce and kick off one another is the true strength of the band. To close it all out, "Frame Digging" becomes the song of submission to the new regime, accepting that the life you once new is over. Through the most intense screams, the band take you through one more walk of flames and fire, beating you down with kick snare combos and raging riffs.

Earthrise have a solid handle on making music that is both punishing, but also rewarding. They manage to offset their rage fairly well, without lessening the impact. But with a vocal attack that seems to be one dimensional, it is hard to differentiate one song from the next, despite lyrics that are far more inspired than one might think from the way they are presented on tape. That said, these eleven tracks are well rounded, balanced with melody and mayhem, and have every opportunity to grow. The question is whether "Eras Lost" will be the start of something big, or the just another piece of sludge lore.


Bandcamp - http://earthrisemn.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Earthriseband/
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inborn Suffering - Regression To Nothingness (2012)

After six long years, Inborn Suffering has finally reawaken with the release of their new album, entitled "Regression To Nothingness." This is the bands second full length album six years was well worth the wait for it. The atmospheric death doom metal band from Paris, France, gives you everything and more. The recording quality is excellent, the growls are breath taking, the drums and double bass are overwhelming, and the guitars are fucking brutal.

The opening track, "Slumber Asylum," kicks off with monstrous chugging guitars and heavy drum rolls that'll rattle your sub woofers immediately. The progressive build up in the beginning of the song really has you on your toes as you're waiting for what's about to hit. The verse comes in with vicious growls that echo through the dark melodies sending chills down your spine. More punishing drum rolls rumble in with overwhelming detail in pattern. The vocals switch between dark growls and wretched screams. The gorgeous strings that float in the background really give you that beauty and the beast type of feel to the track. And if you think that this eight minute masterpiece is amazing than just wait til you get to the next couple of tracks. Most of them average to be about 12 to 13 minutes long.

"Born Guilty" comes in with roaring vocals and demonic guitar riffs that chug away violently beating you deep into the ground. The constant double bass pedal drumming will have you throwing up your devil horns and bobbing your head immediately. Reverb and delay effects linger on the growling vocals leaving them ringing in your head for days. The vocals also switch over to slow depressive spoken word. The mood stays the same however as you'll notice that the drums rolls and bass lines are non stop in the background. They constantly pound away at you giving you no time to even breath. Later comes more wretched screams that run right through you.

Slow haunting guitar riffs start off "Grey Eden." Mellow depressive spoken words take over the first verse a double bass drums slow start to fade in. This quickly switches the vocals over to monstrous growls that soar over the soothing keyboards and thumping kicks and snares. This is only for a brief minute as the spoken word comes back in only this time with distorted guitar blaring in the background. The drum fills get more and more ridiculous although the tempo stays the same. The drummer manages to fit insane blast beats into such a slow tempo'd part and yet it fits perfectly. You'll find more incredible drumming like this in "Regression To Nothingness." The slow progressive guitars chug away with demonic chords and depressive tempos however the drums add some pretty detailed rolls to the mix throughout the track. Meanwhile haunting keyboards take over the background with spooky melodies. Spoken word continues back and forth with the devilish growls keeping you at the edge of your seat at all times. The beat does start to pick up towards the middle of the track as the guitar riffs begin to get more demonic and gain more distortion.You'll notice that the song changes so much that you might lose track as to when you actually go into the next song. That's when you know an album is doing what it's supposed to do you definitely can get lost in a song like this. Then you'll come across the final track, entitled "Self Contempt Kings," which closes the album with nine minutes of raw, depressive metal with progressive builds that lead you right into thunderous drum rolls, cut throat guitar work and ominous vocals both growling and spoken word. Beautiful keyboards fade in and out revealing ravishing melodies in a calm mellow delivery as guitar riffs continue to rip you a new one along with relentless double bass pedal drumming and reckless cymbals that shatter from all directions. This ending track definitely leaves you begging for more.

Inborn suffering has really shown the metal world what they are made of with this new album. "Regression To Nothingness" contains some incredible material that will absolutely blow your mind. Progressive guitar riffs lure you into a whole other dimension full of atmospheric keyboards, sharp drum patterns, and violent growls that relentlessly pound you into the ground all at once. The vocals paint a beautiful image of dark depression and sadness that carry you throughout the entire album. The detailed structure of each song is outstanding connects the album perfectly. This is definitely a must hear album.


Official Site - http://inbornsuffering.bandcamp.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/inbornsuffering
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Agalloch - Faustian Echoes (EP) (2012)

For some reason, that stigma of American metal leaves homegrown bands at a disadvantage. Somewhere along the line, it was decided that bands from the US couldn't make music that was brutal enough, atmospheric enough, or heavy enough to be compared to the bands of Europe and beyond. Our answer has been, and will continue to be, Agalloch. This four piece, based in Portland, have been tearing down the stereotypes of American metal for nearly two decades. On their new EP, "Faustian Echoes," they can redeem us from our sins of Slipknot and Disturbed, and give rise to the black metal of the Pacific Northwest.

As the cold winds blow, a spoken word portion opens the lone track. The first shots are fired, blowing you back with high speed snares and blasting guitars. You may have the sense that evil is lurking somewhere close, and that suspicion is confirmed with the first appearance of the devilish vocals. They screech forward, as if you are being lectured from the pits of Hell. There is something in the way you are buried in heavy distortion that heightens that vocal style, makes it seem more powerful. This isn't to say the guitars are a one trick pony; rather, they give you the density of chugging one measure, and erupt into more deft solo work immediately after. The more downtempo sections stand out from the rest, whether it be because of the layered guitars, or the more forward use of melody. Even when things break down and descend into a traditional doom beat, you are left waiting for something to tear you down.

A lightly recorded spoken word keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next drop. Unwittingly, you may have stumbled into a black metal assault, thrashing ahead with lightning drums and unearthly screams. But while each individual section has its own distinct feel and sound, there are times when they drag on for a minute longer than necessary, leaving you wanting to shift gears, but unable to do so. The beauty is in the contrast though, as you go from the most punishing sections, right into clean guitar passages that soothe the savage beast. The ability to make these drastic changes in such short times is key, without which the entire track would crumble. But they maintain the flow, building it up and tearing it down again and again, until their last breath is spent in a final barrage of guitars, drums, and screams. As things fade away, the voice that started it all takes you to your end.

There is something in the way that Agalloch crafts their music that transports you to another time and place, one of darkest nights and coldest winds. And yet, people always seem surprised to hear that this juggernaut is not Scandinavian, but from the American Northwest. In a recent Pitchfork interview John Haughm and Don Anderson remarked that "Having grown up in the Northwest and on the Columbia River Gorge, I saw nothing that couldn't easily compete with the images of Norwegian landscapes on so many black metal albums." Without a doubt, they have done just that on this EP. This one song, 21 minutes in length, gives you a glimpse into their world; one that you won't soon forget.


Official Site - http://www.agalloch.org/
Bandcamp - http://agalloch.bandcamp.com/
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 52 (A long time ago, on a podcast far, far away...)

As we mention, we have been busy as shit. With two "Best Of" lists in the can, we come back to talk about more reviews that you need to hear. Justin talks symphonic black metal with Sinister Frost, the terrible vocals of Bonded By Blood, and the eighth studio album by Sweden's Vintersorg. Darrell, on the other hand, raves about the new look of Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, the space inspired stoner doom of Gorgantherron, and our favorite quadrophonic act KONG. Then, the guys come together to talk about an album that surprised and impressed them. The two discs of "Yellow & Green," the latest album from Baroness, weren't what we expected. But hot damn, they are awesome.

Part 1, which we will call brown.

Part 2, which shall be known as black.
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Mourning: The Interview

After the release of their latest opus, "The Weight Of Oceans," our interest in Sweden's In Mourning couldn't get much higher. With the sheer density of their music, it is hard not to get yourself wrapped up in it. So, we sat down with bassist Pierre Stam to talk shop, from their careers, their label home, and how the album came to be.

First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking time out to answer some questions about your work. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much, its our pleasure!

What was the inspiration behind the title of the new album, 'The Weight Of Oceans'? And how do you feel the album artwork represents the meaning of the album?

The title of the album comes from the conceptual story that all the lyrics on this album is about. It's a mythological-inspired concept that me and Björn came up with when reading some old stories from different ancient cultures, so we just let our imagination flow and created this concept of a man's journey to conquer his fears of the great unknown, the ocean. The album artwork represents the concept well, it captures the overall feel of the album and of course it contains the seamonster wich is included in the story, so I think its a very fitting artwork for this album.

What inspires your writing style, lyrically? Where do you find the inspirations for the lyrics and melodies of your music

I think the last answer tells you that, as I said we got the inspiration from reading a lot of old stories and diving in to a lot of mythological stories about seamonsters and astrology. The melodies is a lot Tobias work, he has a really strong sense of melody and atmosphere in his musical writing, and melodies have always been very important for us, music without melodies tends to get boring I think.

From melodic keyboards in “Colossus” to violent breakdowns in “A Vow To Conquer The Ocean” you clearly display multiple genres in your music. What brought you to these diverse mash ups of styles and instruments?

Actually there are no keyboards on the album except on the instrumental song ”Sirens”, the stuff on ”Colossus” are guitars with a synthish sound. About the different styles in the music, that kind of comes naturally for us because of what we listen to and get inspired by, we all listen to a lot of different music. I listen to a lot of Jazz and Progressive Rock, Björn listens to a lot of Post-rock and stuff like that, Tobias listens to a lot of melancholic pop and more modern metal, and so on, so its a lot that gets in the music making.

The Swedish metal scene seems to be getting more crowded, which must make it hard to get noticed. How difficult is it to build a following in your home country, and how have your fans embraced you so far?

It's hard to get recognition in Sweden, we have a very small following in our home contry. There are a lot of good bands in Sweden but a lot of them are bigger outside of the country. You have to be really successfull to get accepted in Sweden, so basicly you have to be popular outside of Sweden to be popular on the local scene, and that's a shame. But we have nothing against playing in other countries, more of the opposite, it's more fun to get to see different places and cultures and play to people abroad.

We all accept that our favorites metal musicians don't exclusively listen to metal. So, what are you guys listening to right now, when you aren't performing or recording your own music?

Oh that's a lot of different stuff. At the moment I listen to a lot of Miles Davis, and I have had a period for quite a time where I listened a lot to Iron Maiden. Now I'm waiting for the new The Flower Kings album wich comes out very soon, they are one of my favourites. I can't really answer for the other guys though.

With shows scheduled throughout Norway and Finland, and well as Sweden, are there any plans to take your live show farther abroad?

We´re trying to get to more countries in the autum or winter, so hopfully we will cover some more territory later on this year.

Around the time of its release, "Monolith" was featured as a spotlight download on one of many torrent community sites. With your music being downloaded and traded freely on the internet, what is your opinion on how downloading affects the growth of bands and musicians across the world?

That is not an easy subject. For a band like us the downloading is just a good thing i think, it helps us getting across to more listeners. But for a bigger band, especially if they are in the stage where they are trying to live on just the profits from the band and the music, that's when it gets hard when you depend on record sales to stay alive as a band. For us it's a different thing because we dont have the band as our main income, we have our day jobs to make a living.

To that same point, your new album was released and distributed via Spinefarm Records. How has your relationship with your new found label helped to expand your name?

It has been really good so far, they are aasy to work with and they are a bigger label with a lot of input and contacts in the business so that's really helpful for us.

Working in and around the music business, we have noticed a sharp rise in the sale of vinyl, and the desire for bands to support the return of it. How do you feel about vinyl as a medium?

I love vinyl, it's a fantastic format to experience music with. That's why we have put out our past releases on vinyl and we are working on a release for the new record as well. I am a vinyl freak myself and buy a lot of old vinyls with good music, so I try to push that we will get every release out on vinyl. So hopefully we will see The Weight Of Oceans on vinyl too.

With the album release now a month ago, and shows on the horizon, what can we expect from In Mourning in the coming months, and into the future?

We will focus on doing some live shows, we are not able to do a lot of touring because of familys and dayjob-commitments so we try to do ”the good ones” that we come across and those that we can fit in our schedule, but we love playing live so we try to get out as much as we can. And of course we will start writing new stuff soon so we can make another record in the not so distant future.

Thank you again for your time, and your answers. We are looking forward to what comes next.

Thank you very much!
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Vintersorg - Orkan (2012)

Just judging by the amazing art work it's pretty clear that you're in for an adventure. Vintersorg is back yet again with an even more incredible album than the last. Their new album, entitled "Orkan," is the bands eighth full length studio album and contains 8 magnificent tracks. These tracks contain tons of complex instruments, gorgeous clean vocals, and growls that'll make you shit yourself. The band only consists of two members however they list a bunch of names of session musicians that helped out along the way.

The opening track, "Istid," wastes no time with the verses as epic clean vocals rush in combined with violent guitar riffs blasting in the background. These switch back and forth with devilish growls that send chills down your spine. The chorus contains both vocals layered over one another giving that beauty and the beast type of tone to the music. Meanwhile the guitar riffs jump back and forth between dark melodic riffs and vicious chugging riffs. Double bass pedals run right over you with booming bass tones and shattering cymbals in the background. They also include some jolly stringed instruments that make you want to get up and dance and yet mosh at the same time. The keyboards towards the middle of the track are absolutely phenomenal. This is definitely the perfect track this powerful album.

Later you'll come across song by the name of "Polarnatten" which is a seven and half minute masterpiece. The beginning opens with some melodic strings that have a very catchy ring to them. Then you are completely blown away by monstrous growling vocals that come in and knock you right on your ass. Meanwhile haunting guitar riffs run over you with evil melodies and stomping drums. The refrains turns into a more upbeat catchy song with clean vocals that will have you singing along in no time. Fast pace chugging guitars are accompanied by jolly keyboards and then drops right into the violent verses that are full of monstrous growls. The track has you leaning in all directions when it comes to emotion. One minute its dark and vicious and the next it's all happy and catchy and makes you want to dance.

"Myren" has some really catchy strings in the beginning that will have you hooked immediately. Wicked growls jump in about a minute after. They give off a strong black metal feel to track. Of course they manage to fit in the higher pitched clean vocals as well throwing you into a whole other direction. The structure in some of these tracks are absolutely astonishing and will definitely have you at the edge of your seat the entire time. "Havets Nad" opens with ocean waves and catchy guitars. The vocals start out by ripping you apart with violent growls while a beautiful violin plays in the background. Then comes soaring clean vocals that take over the refrain with catchy melodies and guitars. They layer the vocals a few times in the chorus giving it a fuller sound. The violins in the background truly add beauty to the mix. You'll definitely find yourself going back to the track again and again.

Vintersorg has really outdone themselves with this new album. "Orkan" hits you with all sorts of elements from catchy melodic orchestration to monstrous guitar riffs and relentless growls that pound you into the ground. The complex drum rolls have you up on your feet from beginning to end giving you no time to rest. I can only imagine what kind of spectacular show they put on live. Definitely take some time and check this album out.


Official Site - http://www.facebook.com/vintersorganic
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/vintersorganic
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Baroness - Green (2012)

There is something in the artwork, something in the style that always let's you know that a new Baroness album has landed. With the release of "Yellow & Green," Georgia's four piece outfit have given us all a reason to widen our horizons in metal, and in life. As Justin pointed out in his breakdown of the first disc, "Yellow," this isn't the blisteringly heavy metal album he was expecting. And as we continue on into the second disc, "Green," there is little doubt remaining. These guys aren't just a juggernaut of riffs and yelling vocals. They have become so much more.

With a whining distortion in the background, soft, clean riffs open "Green Theme." They are joined soon by a light tapping of drums, and a smooth bass line. But the impending explosion wastes no time, with a full blast of snares and cymbals coating a grooving guitar riff. What results is a massive sound, one that seems so much larger than the sum of its parts.Even cutting back and forth between the punch and the subtle, the wheels are already in motion, which helps to flow seamlessly into "Board Up The House." Once again building from silence, there is a much quicker turnaround at play here, diving right into the main body of the track. It may be hard to feel the initial impact of the vocal line, one that seems to be equal parts soulful and mesmerizing, but it will come as the track progresses. This may not be their heaviest work, or even close, but there is something to the way it is all delivered, something to the tone of not only the vocals, but the guitar work underneath it, that makes it bury itself so deep in your skull.

To say that the opening moments of "MTNS (The Crown & Anchor)" has a feel that could be classified as "indie" may seem worthy of a lynching, but the tone is there, with deeper melodies taking center stage. This is a more focused Baroness, a band that is showing off how rich their music can be. Whether it be the clean guitar riffs, or the constant sizzle of cymbals throughout, you may find something entrenched here that you didn't expect. That same foundation is used to form "Foolsong," which sees the dueling vocals each taking a very soulful approach. There is an emotional investment to be made here, both from band and fan standpoint, something that is often asked for but never required. But in this three minute track, you have to give a piece of yourself to really enjoy it, something so worth the pain. If you are looking for something am little more intricate, "Collapse" may hold the key for you. From the subtle drum touches, to the light picking of an acoustic guitar, there are so many small layers to digest, all beneath a sullen vocal. Even the sparse use of electronic effects can't derail the arc of the track.

There is something overtly positive in the sound of "Psalms Alive," something you might not have been completely prepared for. With an electric piano accompaniment, you seem to be slipping in and out of consciousness, into some dream world of dream-pop beats and hoarse vocal melodies. But for the first time since the disc opened, you are rewarded with a backdraft of distorted guitars and heavy snare rolls. Two voices combine into one harmony, pounded home by two guitars melding into one singular wave of fluttering riffs. As if taken straight from a driving scene in your favorite drama, "Stretchmarker" bends and winds into action. multiple acoustic guitars tangle up inside one another, with a softly played drum beat backing it all up. There are no vocals, and rightfully so. The guitars do the job here, telling a story with each pick or slide.

The longest track on the album, barely topping the five minute mark, "The Line Between," is a different sort of animal from the rest. This is the raucous affair you may have expected from the onset. Immense guitars riffs and pounding drums open the track,blasting through your speakers with the aid of a deep bass line. As the vocals in the verse kick in, there will be comparisons to the Foo Fighters. The multitude of different guitar sounds and structures keep things moving and fresh, while also providing you with fodder for the shower singing sessions you have planned for later. This may be the most complete track, depending on your point of view. The closing track, "If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry," is predictable in the best possible way. After the album you have just be treated to, it would only make sense to finish things off with a soft, acoustic based track. The effects are ethereal, as if you are floating in the air, surrounded by notes.

Standing alone, "Green" is an album that would warrant all the praise you could possibly heap on it. This is unique in so many ways, without being pretentious or preachy. Instead, Baroness have taken a step out of the pigeonhole they get shoved into by the mass media, and given us all something unexpected and delicate. Combined with the first disc, "Yellow," this becomes a sprawling soundscape of riffs, melodies, and well crafted songs. In a day and age where releasing one album of new, fresh material has become a chore for lesser bands, Baroness give you two full albums worth of inspired tracks. Now that, my friends, is a bargain.


Official Site - http://www.baronessmusic.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/yourbaroness
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