Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 62 (Elvensiferum... er, uh.... Ensiferuking)

Band Of The Month time again, or BOTM for those in the know. First, there is the matter of reviews. Justin's love of Abraham, the band, and Darrell's subsequent praise for Unleash The Archers starts things off. Normally, we agree on our band of the month nominee. But this month, the vote was split. So, we take two bands who have seemingly nothing in common, and split the award. One thing is for sure, both of them have a clear shot at our "Album Of The Year" honors.


Download the audio here.
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Outwailed - Black Earth (EP) (2012)


Don't be fooled into thinking you will get more than you expected. Simply accept what IS. So goes the thought process that we all go through week in and week out when we search far and wide for new metal. When Finland's Outwailed make into your queue, which they hopefully will, don't think about all of your favorite Finnish metal bands, and hope that they follow suit. They don't. Don't stare at the cover and wonder what subtle beauties will lie within. The answer is none. What you have, instead, is three tracks and nearly half an hour or post metal mixed with sludge, plain and simple. No solos, no wild vocal lines, no problem. This EP, titled "Black Earth," is about as cut and dry as could be.

Throw subtlety out the window, as you are greeted with ear grating screams immediately on "Wolves' Hour." The crushingly slow backdrop is a fitting canvas for the style of vocals on display, with short bursts coming from the throat of frontman T. But don't let these few opening stanzas fool you into thinking this a one trick pony. Quite contrary, there is some more deft musicianship to come in the form of some winding clean guitar parts that, while sparingly used, help to further the overall sound. There is a heavy reliance on cymbals, with a constant sizzle coating the mix. Unfortunately, the vocals do little to prove themselves worthy, until a surprising clean portion cuts through in the latter stages. Even slightly off key, it does wonders for the track, injecting a touch of fresh air to the dark sludge of distortion. And while "Gown Of Moss" looms as a nearly eight minute piece, it doesn't feel nearly as long. A lone guitar starts things off, with a riff that is both soothing and slightly evil. The simplistic beginning is joined by those same quivering clean vocals, only this time to much less fanfare. But what follows is the pure strength of the band, an eruption of post metal instrumentals and pure sludge vocal lines, crushing everything in its path. Tying all of the pieces together is the underlying doom vibes, the slow, deliberate pacing that keeps the musicianship firmly rooted.

The last of the three tracks, the staggeringly long title track, follows a similar pattern of quiet to loud, but in a much more dynamic way. Light beginnings immediately followed by a blast of distorted guitars and drums, the pained vocals return to finish the job. But rather than long alternating portions of light and dark, there are shorter segments pieced together, continually jumping back and forth. There are is a lot of weight resting on the low end, both in the bass and kick drum, so much so that it can leave the track feeling bottom heavy at times. And while this can't be construed as an entirely bad thing, it makes the work of guitarist V all the more difficult. Combine that with an already overpowering vocal, and he may be fighting a losing battle against the mix. The free form middle section, which allows the band to tear the mix down, and rebuild it from the ground up, may be one of their strongest moments. By the time they get back to full steam, they have successfully constructed a monster wall of riffs and raw power. Not sure if the nearly thirty seconds of feedback at track's end was necessary, though.

There is something in the way Outwailed play their version of sludgy doom that makes you want to keep listening. It isn't the top notch musicianship, because you won't find that here. It isn't the visionary structures, because those don't show up. Hell, it isn't even the virtuosic vocal performance, because you have the wrong band for that. But when you invest 25 minutes into this EP, and really take the time to digest it, you won't be disappointed with what you here. It's like the Hollywood blockbuster action trailer that shows you two explosions, a car chase, and scantily clad supermodels. You know exactly what you are going to get. So, when you look at the cover of "Black Earth," know that there is a fuzzy wall of post-sludge waiting for you inside.

7/10

Bandcamp - http://outwailed.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Outwailed
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Abraham - The Serpent, The Prophet, & The Whore (2012)


Following a couple EP's and an album in 2011, Abraham is back and ready to make a big impression in the world of metal. They have recently released their new album, entitled "The Serpent, The Prophet, & The Whore." It takes you through tons of tempo changes and detailed structure which really forces you to listen closely. Their unique sound will have you addicted from start to finish.

The album begins with "Start With A Heartbeat" which automatically will grab your attention with it's odd chords and complex structure in guitar patterns. The vocals waste no time as they jump right at you with harsh growls. Double bass pedal drums beat up the background while random cymbals collide violently. Distorted guitars fly through the air with wicked melodies and slammed chugging riffs. The song definitely hits you out of no where leaving you a bit confused as to what just happened.

"Man The Serpent" keeps the flow of the album going with more detailed drums that will have you jaw hitting the ground immediately. The rapid toms and snares will blow your mind. Aggressive vocals step in as they raise hell with intense lyrics. The bass plays a big part as well as it comes in heavily underneath the guitars. They give you a breakdown type of feel only more complex and with added melodies in between. The layered vocals towards the end add a mixture of sludge and post metal sounds. You get a good mix of growling, shouting, and clean singing all in one. The ending is solid and will definitely have you hitting the repeat button.

Pulverizing growls and jack hammering double bass pedals beat you into the ground in "The Great Dismemberment." Vicious guitars send violent riffs from all direction knocking you out of your seat immediately. The track brings a lot of energy to the table and will have your blood pumping in no time. "New King, Dark Prophet" gives you similar results but only in the second half of the track. The first half has a lot less instruments in it. Some muffled bass lines and a few basic kicks and snares roll away as the verse plays through. It isn't until the refrain that the song really picks up. Thunderous chugging guitars blast away as devilish notes are layered on top of them. The growls become heavier and sound more fuller with wicked distortion blaring behind them. Also pay close attention to the drum fills towards the end of the track. The drumming is absolutely insane. Each pattern differs from the one before as you're met with crashing cymbals at the end of each fill. This just made this album that much better.

Later you'll come across a song called "The Chymical Fiance." This gives you a couple of different options in the vocals as you'll hear both growls and clean singing which at times are layered on top of one another giving you that eerie beauty and the beast sound. The drums continue to do their thing leading you off with detailed fill after detailed fill. The guitars change up multiple times as you get dark melodic notes along with violent chugging patterns as well. Definitely make sure you check this one out.

Abraham has definitely managed to create their own sound and has delivered a unique sound in their new album. "The Serpent, The Prophet, & The Whore" constantly changes and throws tons of different surprises at you throughout its entirety keeping you at the edge of your seat the whole time. the structures alone are remarkable and filled with intense energy. If you're exploring for new sound then definitely check out Abraham. Their unique sound is very refreshing.

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/abrahamband
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/abrahamtheband
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Elvenking - Era (2012)


It's a plain and simple fact of life; even the mightiest will fall. Italy's Elvenking had been riding the wave of pure greatness for thirteen wonderful years. But in 2010, with the release of their six studio album, titled "Red Silent Tides," it seemed as if their time had come to an end. The band had fallen into arena rock stereotypes on that disc, with a certain writer comparing it to Bon Jovi. That writer, the same one sitting at the helm of the keys now, thought it may all be over. Some two years later, a new album is waiting. There have been changes in the Elvenking world, both in members and in determination. With the release of "Era," the Gods of folk infused power metal give any and all of their detractors a piece of humble pie that tastes so damn good.

The first single from the album, "The Loser," leads off with a thunder of percussion and wailing guitars. In the first few seconds, you are treated to so many things that were lacking on the last effort. The guitar lines become tangled together with the violins, twisting and turning up and down. Not to be lost in the mix, the bass line is tremendous. Vocalist Damnagoras has found his voice again, filling the room with his booming sound. Blistering drums are aplenty, pounding away at your skull with speed and precision. All of the folk melodies of old are back, condensed into one monster wall of sound, complete with hair raising guitar solo. Without skipping a beat, "I Am The Monster" fades in with a light piano melody. There is an extra bounce in their step here, one that separates their sound from any other. There is even an added focus on lyrical quality to be had, delivered alone or in gang style. The backbone of the signature sound, the violin, is in full force, leading the band on a series of tempo and tone changes. Just when you think the ballad bug has sunk is teeth into you on "Midnight Skies, Winter Sighs," a booming assertion of percussion rescues you. There are far more harmonizing vocals here than before, giving an added depth to every verse and chorus. Even when the classic arena rock sound starts to creep in, it is fought off by the sheer density of the guitar work.

If ever there was a interlude that could be used a icon for Elvenking, "A Song For The People" would fit the bill. Clocking in under two minutes, this folk inspired short is enchanting, with a simple blend of strings, flutes and drums, all topped with a combination of male and female voices. Contrasting well, "We, Animals" adds a synth melody that is sure to launch a thousand blogs. The drumming is once again impressive, with fills and rolls that could fill an album all their own. In their booming kicks and snares, their is a declaration, carried in the repeated lyrics "we are just fucking animals;" a line which is an assertion of humanity, not of bestiality. One of the most solid instrumentals on the album comes in "Through Wolf's Eyes," with all of the pieces coming together in a perfect blend of folk and power metal. There is a wealth of violin work on display, most of which would make Charlie Daniels hug his fiddle with pride. The bridge section is a killer, filled with the sizzle of cymbals and distorted guitars. And while "Walking Dead" may share a name with a hit TV show, the similarities end there. This track is full of life, marching ahead on energy alone, erupting in catchy choruses. It's as if a new band sprouted from the opening riffs here, pummeling you into glorious submission. The breakdown is joyous, sure to bring a smile to the face of any fan young or old.

The female whisper that open "Forget-Me-Not" may have tipped you off that this is, indeed, a ballad. And while tracks like this are a given, there is no rule as to how sappy that have to be. For their part, Elvenking have given this installation a heartfelt nature, rather than a fake emotional investment. The vocals are smooth, alone or together in a delicate harmony. What is interesting is that the two halves are parts of the same whole. The first, a soft, vocal heavy piece, while the latter adds an injection of metal guitar work and assertiveness. The best part of a ballad, however, is what comes after. And even though "Poor Little Baroness" starts with a solemn guitar, it isn't long before it explodes forth. A dizzying array of drums fills the air, demanding your attention. What grows from those base beats is a track that sounds so huge, through production and execution. The violin continues to tie it all together, like the single string on a corset; it forms a bridge between guitar, vocal, bass, and drums. And united, they pour through a bridge that features some of the best guitar work the band have produced. Not to be confused with the Green Day track, "The Time Of Your Life" is the most emotionally haunting song on the album. Through the somber vocals and light instrumental, you are taken into the minds of these musicians, a rare treat. Simplified, a single lyric says it all: "it's like reading a letter, addressed to someone else, saying that everything will be alright."

Clocking in uncharacteristically close to seven minutes, "Chronicle Of A Frozen Era" is a monster of a track with a whole lot going on. Wherever you focus your attention, there is something to open your eyes. The guitar work is not only powerful, but it tangles with and mimics the violin at times, forming a beautiful pair. This all paves the way for a bass line that might as well be a lead. In the high speed chorus, the drums are the rolling thunder that keeps you at attention. A grunting bridge takes an amazingly progressive approach, one that is impressive beyond belief. The weight of the distortion is mind-blowing, forming the bass heavy foundation for a blistering solo and subsequent acoustic portion. Knowing full well that the end is near, you would be mistaken to think the best is behind you. "Ophale" is an instrumental you may never forget. The chills that creep up your arms and down your spine are the best kind, the ones that will form bright memories in years to come. Flutes and acoustic guitars are all you need to induce a tear. And after that beautiful display, who would ever think that the heaviest trackn on the album would follow? The initial blast on "Khanjar" blows you back into your seat, with simultaneous downstrokes on drums and guitars, a dark resonance. What evolves from those first notes is amazing, twisting and turning into a masterpiece of string and drum, without even a trace of vocal. In these last four minutes and change, Elvenking have launched a thousand ships.

On April 7, 2011, my review of the last Elvenking album concluded by saying that their dreams may be "truly drowning in "Red Silent Tides."" After thirteen tracks of in your face, heart pounding, folk inspired power metal, I can proudly say I was so very wrong. Everything that had been missing from that album has not returned. It has been reborn, with all of the energy and dedication of a band ready to prove they are only growing. Not only have they shown that they can still craft an album that is worthy of their moniker, but they may have, in fact, outdone themselves. For a band that is in their fifteenth year of existence, that speaks volumes. The new journey has begun, and "Era" is the perfect album, and title, to start things off.

9/10


Official Site - http://www.elvenking.net/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/elvenking.official
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kryptos - The Coils Of Apollyon (2012)






As we shine the stage light on the shadows of India we find a thrash metal band by the name Kryptos. This four piece band has recently come out with their new album, entitled "The Coils Of Apollyon." The album contains nine demolishing tracks that pound away at you from beginning to end. The delivery of the vocals remind me of the vocals from Mark Osegueda who's the lead singer of Death Angel. It's got a very harsh yet clean sound to it. Even some of the guitars have similar sounds to that of Death Angel.

The album opens with hell raising guitar riffs and thunderous drum rolls in "The Mask Of Anubis." Relentless cymbals crash violently as double bass patterns rumble beneath you. The verses contain devilish growls that will send chills down your spine from the minute you hear it. Definitely pay close attention to the drumming in between the verses. The wild snare and tom combination is absolutely mind blowing. Meanwhile rapid double bass pedals jump in and out with a booming delivery. You'll come across an insane guitar solo towards the end of the track that throws melodic notes at you from all angles.

The madness continues with "The Coils Of Apollyon." Fast tempos and speedy guitars will have your blood pumping. More complex drum fills collide in the background while the vocals soar over them with harsh tones. The refrain has a catchy ring to it as well as you will probably find yourself humming along to the guitar riffs. "Serpent Mage" has a similar build with its punching verses and catchy melodic chorus. The drums give you absolutely no time to breathe in the beginning as the track takes off with its detailed patterns. The melodies of the guitars will definitely have you coming back for more.

You're hit with machine gun chugging guitars in "Eternal Crimson Spires." Fast pace chugging guitars rattle your speaker while the lead guitar leaves a catchy tune on top. Meanwhile the drums are rocking away with complex snare rolls. The build up to the verse will have you at the edge of your seat waiting for what's next. The vocals come through with demonic growls and a strong delivery that hits you right in the face. The refrain contains some more catchy melodies and some outstanding guitar work.

Another big track that really stands out in this album is "Starfall." It opens with a soothing guitar melody as immediately grabs your attention. The drums slowly introduce themselves with splashing cymbals and snapping snares. The verse contains more aggressive growling vocals that will knock you out of your chair for sure. The layered guitars in between the verses are addicting as they play perfectly along side each other with a beautiful reverb effect. The solo follows soon after with more wild melodies that will hypnotize you deep into the track. On top of that you get an overwhelming breakdown that will have you throwing up your devil horns in no time. This track has everything and will definitely have you hitting the replay button.

Overall "The Coils Of Apollyon" gives you the hard hitting drums and blaring guitars that you're looking for in a thrash metal album. However a lot of their riffs do not sound very original. I kept thinking I was listening to Death Angel. In a sense I guess that's a good thing beause their quality and song structure was up to par, but in the world of metal you really have to get more creative if you want to stand out. Kryptos definitely has a lot of talent and a lot of potential in their music and I would keep an eye on where they go from here.

7/10

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


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Monday, September 24, 2012

Son Of A Witch - Son Of A Witch (EP) (2012)


What's old is new again; it is the way of the world. Whether it be fashion, cars, or even the music we listen to, everything will come back around. That is why the ever growing wave of young metal bands who are exploring classic metal sounds should come as no surprise. But when you come across Son Of A Witch, a five piece band who are merging the sounds of classic era Pantera with Black Sabbath in a nostalgic mashup, you may be surprised to find that they aren't American, or even British. No, these Brazilians are throwing their hat into the ring, trying to prove that, like a fine wine, classic metal styles only gets better over time.

The construction of the opening track, "Far Away From Dreaming (Giant Spheres and Humanoids)" is very much reminiscent of classic Black Sabbath. The influence is there, in every riff and passing distorted note. But more than that, they take that sound and infuse it with more modern stoner metal, as you can hear clearly in the verse sections and the guitar leads. Your speakers will rattle, both from the enjoyably murky production as well as the multiple layers of massive guitars. And while the vocals may be treading water in that dangerous gray area between singing and yelling, they aren't off putting in any way. Instead, they help to carry the immense weight of a seven minute psychedelic guitar epic. Constant changes in tempo and tone keep everything rolling along smoothly, even when the mix can't keep up. You are certainly going to be left with a lot to digest, between the incredibly delivered bass line in the outro and the wailing guitar solos that flank it.

Moving into "Mountain Ceiling," a much more grit infused track, frontman King Lizzard finds his melodic happy medium, give you a little dose of tremolo in his voice to drive home those coarse vocal passages. There is more of a groove here than before, with stomping guitar riffs taking the spotlight. The effects used in both the breakdown and solo sections are just the right touch of nostalgia without being too overbearing. The riffs are tight,  with just enough style to separate them from their predecessors. And when you complete a three song EP with a track called "Snake Arms Woman," any mystery about your influences, your style, or your fans will be thrown out the window. The down tempo southern metal stylings of Down can be heard at full force in the opening, including a fairly successful Anselmo vocal style. Sure, it may seem derivative at times, from the Iommi riffs to the melodic bass passages. But hidden in the hero worship of this seven minute monster is a band who have taken a classic sound and made it partly their own.

It is easy to take the three songs on this effort and nail down what Son Of A Witch are all about. Much like Sorrow Eternal favorite From Beyond, they have taken that classic metal sound of their forefathers, and turned into something that isn't necessarily new, but has their signature touches. This isn't a cover band, a tribute band, or anything of the sort. They are a part of the new wave of classic metal; a rebirth of the original tenets of the genre with modern touches and twists. And while that may seem like a cop out to some, to revisit the past, it can be a rebirth of metal without all of the modern bells and whistles that have tainted the new generation. And I'll take Son Of A Witch and the rest of the classic movement over a metalcore album any day of the week.

7.5/10

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Son-of-a-Witch/236679209729730
Reverb Nation - http://www.reverbnation.com/sonofawitch666
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 61 (We really hate terrible metal)

After a few weeks of great reviews and great topics, we decided it was time to take a moment to focus on the worst that metal has to offer. We didn't want to cloud our message, or soften the blow. So, without further ado, here are the worst bands in metal today.


Part 1, dude.



Part 2, bro.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Ensiferum - Unsung Heroes (2012)


Finally, the masters of folk metal have returned with an exciting new album. The title is "Unsung Heroes." This is the follow up to their 2009 album, entitled "From Afar." This new album has ten brand new tracks that completely blow their previous album out of the water. You get everything from exciting orchestration and violin solos to fast tempo'd melodic guitar riffs and insane drum rolls that will have you up and dancing throughout its entirety.

The album opens with a soothing two minute instrumental with glorious strings and violins layered together into one beautiful atmospheric swirl. It sounds like it could be part of a score to a sci-fi movie. "In My Sword I Trust" follows with a hard thumping bass line along with a tremendous drum roll that leads right into catchy guitar riffs that carry a very upbeat tune. The verse starts with hell raising growls that flow perfectly along with epic string in the background. Meanwhile a relentless double bass pedal rumbles beneath you. The refrain builds up and hits you with catchy clean chanting vocals that will get stuck in your head for days. "Unsung Heroes" continues with more head bobbing drums and melodic riffs that grab you right from the start. The vocals run right through you with vicious growls. Monstrous chugging guitars take over the background as angelic orchestration plays along side. The refrain has similar chanting vocals that will have you singing and dancing along in no time.

"Burning Leaves" keeps the energy going with more melodic guitar riffs and a groovy bass line. Cymbals constantly clash in the background while double bass pedals jump in and out of the mix. This six minute track really stands out because of its catchy chorus and clean vocals that mix in between the growls and screams. They also add some interesting acoustic instruments that add a very medieval feel to the track.

The album slows down with a gorgeous ballad by the name "Celestial Bond." You're quickly hit with mesmerizing clean female vocals that will hypnotize you and carry you off into a whole other world. The acoustic guitars alone will send chills down your spine. You're also surrounded by soft strings that completely consume you deep into the track. Towards the end you'll come across an angelic violin solo that is joined with humming vocals that sound like they came straight from heaven. A couple tracks later the album picks up where this song leaves off with "Star Queen(Celestial Bond Part II)" which continues with light acoustic riffs. This time they mix things up with blaring distorted guitars as well. Also the first verse opens with clean male singing which is joined by the female vocals later into the song. The chorus has a beautiful ring to it that will have you hitting the replay button as soon as it's over.

Ensiferum has proved once again why they are the kings of folk metal. They reach all types of sounds with their unique instruments and creative song structure. "Unsung Heroes" is the kind of album that you can get lost in and listen from front to back again and again. Their epic orchestration will move you as you are swept off your feet by complex melodies and layered instruments. This is definitely a must hear for 2012.

9/10

Official Site - http://www.ensiferum.com/

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eulogy - Alpha Omega (2012)


With schools across the country back in full swing, it is safe to say that many of you, us, them, will be at the mercy of those arbitrary grading systems that pain us so. The world of music is no different from academia, with no foreseeable way to decipher good from bad. If objectivity has no place in the review process, it is increasingly difficult to separate yourself. For Eulogy, a young outfit from Davis, California, a keen, modern approach to traditional heavy metal sounds like a sure thing. But when one piece doesn't fall in the same tier of the class, it leaves the rest of the group to lift them up. On "Alpha Omega," a failing vocal grade isn't enough to ruin the GPA of this four piece.

Opening with the title track, there is an immediate familiarity to be found, a taste of classic metal intertwined in the riffs. The bass work stands out from the rest, with sleek moves up and down the scales. Things take a slightly downward turn as the vocals enter, their tone leaving the mix feeling a bit muddled and messy. Quick to redeem, an blasting guitar solo snaps you back to Earth, winding in and out of that same twirling bass work. A chanting finish, topped with a little finger wizardry, leads you out of the old, and into the new of "The Enchanter." The instrumental tightens up here, with layers of guitar, both rhythm and lead, coming together in a crisp unity. The rhythm section holds their own, elevating the track at times. Even the vocals appear much improved, though coated with effects, finding a balance between clean singing and the instrumental beneath. It isn't off base to say the guitar work stars here, with both Zakk Thonen and Brett Worley trading their share of licks, including a big finish.

An unexpected groove dominates the early portions of "Lurid Valley," with Sam Vanderlist's bass work, reminiscent of some primus material, shining through it all. But it isn't long before the entire band joins the acts. But while the instrumental itself is strong, there is an unevenness to the levels that throws things off, if only slightly. This my be the best vocal performance on the album, though, with Worley's voice taking a more gruff tone. Not only that, but he stays within his boundaries, and lets the backing riffs do the lions share of the work. Perhaps the most inspired guitar work comes on "Defend The Mead," which has a penchant for the memorable riffs you crave. There is also a touch of lateral movement here, with the band taking on elements of thrash and power metal that were absent before. The highlight of the track comes in the gang chanting portions, backed by a thunder of drums and bass. Percussionist Rowan Mcguire comes into his own by this point, leading the band in a high energy assault on your ears.

And while "Calm Before The Storm" is exactly as advertised, it is not a throwaway. The band have a chance to show their versatility in this two minute intro, keeping it subtle and smooth. This makes the transition into "Burn The Earth" that much easier, and that much more effective. Everything has fallen into place on this track, from the punch of the kick drum, to the way the guitars fit into the mix. Worley's vocals remain a key point of contention, sounding a little too unpolished to meld seamlessly with the rest of the band. But with a bass line like the one that comes through here, it becomes less of a concern, with so much richness to be had elsewhere. The bridge section may be the best on the album, with a melody on both guitar and bass that you won't soon forget. Take that, in combination with the jazz funk bass work on "Crimson Isles," and you have a cornucopia of metal influences running wild. The vocals are hit or miss on this one, with some sections hitting the mark, and others falling flat. With fear of belaboring the obvious, Vanderlist is a dynamo, driving and controlling the flow of the track from his four string. Finishing with a pretty astute cover of the UFO song "Doctor Doctor," the band show off their appreciation of the classics.

It's tough to quantify each and every piece of an album, and turn that into a grade. There isn't a formula to make that any easier; or at least I don't know of one. So, when the task of assigning a score for Eulogy's debut album is all I have left to do, there are some complex mathematics at work. Without "showing my work," it comes down to two halves of the whole. An album like this may certainly come off as stilted, with the instrumental being far superior than the vocal. But when the music itself is excellent, that leaves you grading on a curve. With Thonen, Worley, Vanderlist, and McGuire as musicians, Eulogy don't have far to go. But without a tweak to the vocals, "Alpha Omega" proves it may be a tough time getting there.

7/10

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/EulogyMetal
Bandcamp - http://eulogymetal.bandcamp.com/
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Haarp - Husks (2012)


It's always good to see new bands coming up with new sludge metal albums. Especially ones who mix doom into it as well. Unfortunately not everyone can pull it off. Haarp is a band from New Orleans that seems to have struggled heavily in the creative writing process. The band has recently released their new album, entitled "Husks," which has three lengthy tracks on it. Although it sounds solid at first, the album quickly falls to the boring side as you move through each track.

The album starts up with "Deadman/Rabbit" which throws deadly drum fill at you with booming double bass pedal kicks and crashing cymbals. The guitars chug away with dominating riffs that will have you bobbing your head immediately. The vocals step in with what first appears to be like solid deep growls. The tempo slows to a real sludge atmosphere as the drums continue to drop heavy snares and toms. The vocals go on for a few minutes straight as you'll start to realize that they don't really change at all. The verse starts to sound repetitive with the same exact tone of voice in the growls. You'll find yourself getting bored about three minutes in. The track runs for over 17 minutes long so surely things should change. However besides a few short breaks between vocals, the track doesn't really go anywhere. The tempo speeds up a bit while the vocals attempt a more higher approach but they end up sounding worse than the original. About 11 minutes in come the real doom side of the track as the drums slow down and the guitar riffs become muddy. The bass lines are pretty solid as a messy guitar solo comes in over the top. These are really the only highlights to this lengthy track.

The second track, "Bear," is the shortest track of the three running for just a little under nine minutes long. The vocals still have the same old tones and delivery while cymbals explode in the background. Constant distortion keeps you surround with aggression as the vocals continue to try to keep you hooked. Overall the track will put you to sleep. There are no major surprises in the structure of the song other than a few detail drum fills here and there. The last song "Fox" ends up doing the exact same thing as the other two tracks. Just chugging away slowly with the same notes and same distorted effects. At this point you won't even be able to stand the vocals. You would think that the final track would somewhat come to the rescue and save this album from completely horribleness but it really just gets worse and worse.

Haarp hasn't really shown us anything worth hearing in "Husks." The album is boring and way to long for what it is. It would have worked out better if they kept each track under three minutes because at least they would feel like they were dragging as long. Until the they get more creative with their work I would say don't waste your time with this band.

4/10

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/haarpnola
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/haarpnola
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Unleash The Archers - Defy The Skies (EP) (2012)






Spanning the gap between various forms of metal, Vancouver based Unleash The Archers aren't new to bending the rules. With all of the aggression of blackened death metal, but all of the grace and intricacies of traditional power metal, this five piece are anything but conventional. Frontwoman Brittney Slayes isn't walking the line that so many female vocalists before her have, choosing to go outside the proverbial box and deliver a performance that is more than basic sultry vocal patterns. What you are left with is a finished product that is both polished and raw, beautiful and frightening, and done with all the savvy of a seasoned veteran. On their new EP, the three song offering titled "Defy The Skies," they throw the rule book out the window.

From the early, quieter moments of "The Path Unsought," any doubt of the talent Slayes has is shattered, her voice carrying a melody with little to no backing. But at the first drop of the hammer, you can hear so much more. Rolling double kicks, quick fire guitars and her soaring vocals form a trifecta of power metal tenets. Harsh backing vocals, provided by guitarist Brayden Dyczkowski, are the perfect contrast to the versatile lead. The true genius here is in the writing, incorporating thrash styled breakdowns, and downright scary male vocal passages. With musicianship that is virtually flawless, it makes it easy for the song to ebb and flow, growing and shrinking in scope over the course of five minutes, culminating in a repeating chorus as the track fades.

Wasting no time for pleasantries, "Upon Ashen Wings" comes out of the gate roaring, with lightning fast riffs dominating the mix. But between high register cries from Slayes, there is something much deeper brewing. The rhythm section is hitting all the right spots, with a rich bass line laying just underneath the layers of guitars. Drummer Scott Buchanan leaves no stone unturned, filling every available gap with a smooth roll or blasting fill. The two come together to lead the breakdown movement, joined by solo work that is both impressive, and functional. Rather than just playing fast, both Dyczkowski and Grant Truesdell add an extra dose of technical craftsmanship to the track. And much like the previous track, there is something inherently catchy about the way everything is pieced together, leaving you wanting so much more. By the time you reach "Soulstorm," you may already be thoroughly satisfied with what you have heard thus far. With a run time that is half that of the previous two, this one is a blazing foray into accessible heavy metal. The thunderous gallop of guitars and drums puts the pedal to the metal, while Slayes rich harmony gives a layer of shine to the black metal inspired screeching that lurks behind.

Sad to say, but it has become all too common to make assumptions on the style of a band, simply because of the gender of their lead singer. True, there are a lot more Within Temptation's out there than there are Arch Enemy's. Unleash The Archers, however, defy that stereotype, and defy genre tagging in general. Slayes and company are building something special here, something that could help to drag conventional metalheads kicking and screaming into a new dynasty. They have taken all of the style and grace that comes with having a female lead, and smashed head first into versatile and complex song writing, leaving behind any doubts of their skill. The three songs on "Defy The Skies" may be the start of something big.

8.5/10

Official Site - http://www.unleashthearchers.com/
Bandcamp - http://unleashthearchers.bandcamp.com/
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Monday, September 17, 2012

As I Lay Dying - Awakened (2012)


The well known American metalcore band As I Lay Dying has gone through lots of ups and downs throughout their career. Their 2010 album, entitled "The Powerless Rise," was a horrible let down as the band tried to change their sound and style and strayed away from their earlier music(which was a lot better.) They are finally releasing a new album by the name "Awakened" and this is a giant step back into the right direction. They throw everything at you, from catchy hooks to wild melodic solos. This new album has it all.

Wicked blaring screams start the album off with "Cauterize." The vocals slash through you with quick delivery while monstrous guitar riffs fill the air with heavy distortion. The bass guitar sends a groovy tune down your spine as wild double bass pedal drum patterns rumble recklessly beneath you. The refrain contains some catchy shouting vocals as you'll find the melody stuck in your head immediately. Another great thing about this opening track is the it splits time between an pulverizing breakdown and an insane guitar solo. This is what keeps them in the mix of both hardcore and heavy metal.

"Resilience" will absolutely knock you out of your chair with its overwhelming bass and drum patterns. The fills in between verses are just mind blowing. Constant toms and snares roll right into massive cymbals colliding in the background while the double bass pedal beats you down relentlessly. Meanwhile the guitar melodies grab you with catchy melodic riffs that draw you deep into the track. The vocals continue with a hard growling delivery and mix it up between high screams and low growls. "Wasted Words" keeps the tempo moving with its deadly riffs and quick tempo. The track will have you up and moving. The guitars slow down in the refrain as a catchy tone takes over. The vocals keep up with their aggressive delivery and wretched screams.

Later you'll find songs like "No Lungs To Breathe" and "Defender" which show some more groovy bass guitar riffs along with some insane guitar solos and breakdowns. "Defender" changes things up with some clean vocals adding a little more melody to the track while the growling vocals still step in with their monstrous tones as well. The final track, entitled "Tear Out My Eyes," opens with some deep chugging guitars as they are layered with a lighter melodic guitar which floats in the background. The verses contain lots of vicious screams and growls forcing you to throw you fists in the air. The refrain comes in with soaring clean vocals that immediately grab you with its catchyness. You'll definitely find yourself singing along after the first few times you hear it. The close things out with a wicked guitar solo towards the end as high flying guitar notes hit you from every direction. This is definitely the track that leaves you wanting more and more.

As I Lay Dying has come a long way. Each of their albums are very different from each as they went from bad to good to worst. "Awakened" definitely brings you back to their good stuff from their 2007 album, entitled "An Ocean Between Us." If you've been a fan for a while and you liked that 2007 album then you will love this album and the direction that the band has gone in. If you're unfamiliar to the band and are looking for some solid metalcore done right then you should definitely give this album a listen.

8/10

Official Site - http://asilaydying.com/
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 60 (Ejaculating fire? Call an ambulance!)

This week, on a very special episode of Sorrow Eternal, Darrell wants you to listen to the new Blizzard At Sea EP, "Individuation," and donate money to their Kickstarter drive. Justin waited for the 15th Devin Townsend album to finally get on board, but "Epicloud" was well worth the wait. And with a new Dethklok single out, and album due out in 4 short weeks, and so many other things going on, we take a few minutes to return to a segment we call "Random Shit."



Part 1.



Part 2.
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Thristana - Devil's Destiny (EP) (2012)


Formed a single year ago, Hungarian symphonic metal band Thristana are still in their infant stages. With a talented frontwoman at the helm, and a musical mastermind with hands on the keys, they have checked off two of the main items on their list of steps to success. But time waits for no man, and the two have enlisted a handful of session musicians to create and craft their debut EP. Unfortunately, without a full lineup to share the burden of writing, speed bumps are sure to arise. On "Devil's Destiny," you are treated to three tracks that have so much to focus on, and yet very little depth to enjoy.

Within the first few seconds of the title track, keyboardist István Biró lays down a thick dose of symphonics, layered with strings and woodwinds. The heavy chugging of the guitars breaks up the light with a dose of the dark. But the vocals, provided by the sultry Anna Király, float somewhere in between black and white. Her voice has all of the operatic tones you may have expected, but with an added touch of grace. There are a few stumbles, however, as a disjointed instrumental portion throws off the momentum. This leaves Király to pick up the pieces, something her voice is very capable of doing. With a little help from session guitarist László Maródi and a wildly successful, if not slightly out of place, solo, the track cruises to an end.

The much shorter "Devotion For Dreams" doesn't suffer from the same trip and fall moments, choosing to stay within a more basic format. Kiraly is allowed to shine through in all her glory, with a pulsing drum beat padding out the mix. There is certainly a focus on keyboard melodies here, sometimes taking precedent over the simplistic guitar riffs. The downside, of course, lies in the lack of deviation from the plan. The marching tempo of snares does little to accent the track, leaving the lion's share of the work to the golden pipes of Kiraly. The closing track, "Our Never Ending Story," falls into a similar  trap. With Biró pouring everything into a dazzling piano piece, backed by synthesizers, all that is left is for Kiraly to carry the bulk of the load. Without any guitar, bass, or drum work to form a solid foundation, you are left with something that sounds more like a four minute intro or interlude, without the big payoff you are waiting for.

It is impossible to overlook the talent that both Biró and Király have. But without the full array of weapons at their disposal, it would be a tall order to put out an album that mirrors that skill. Session musicians, while useful, aren't always the best solution. Instead, what Thristana have here is an introductory EP that might not best represent what they have in store for the world of metal music. There are highs and lows, like any effort, but what stands out most on "Devil's Destiny" is the heavy reliance on Király's angelic voice. She can carry the tune, carry the melody, but without any help, even she might not be able to shoulder the load for long.

6.5/10

Official Site - http://thristana.hu/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Thristana
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Evocation - Illusions Of Grandeur (2012)


Keeping consistency in albums, the five piece death metal band Evocation has released their fifth album, entitled "Illusions Of Grandeur." The album contains 10 monstrous tracks that will leave you devastated after the first time you hear it. Each track runs perfectly into the next. You'll even come across a few surprises as you get deeper into the track.

The album opens with "Illusions Of Grandeur" which rolls in with screaming guitar riffs at wicked fast speeds. Relentless double bass pedals and snapping snares echo in the background with violent fills. Cymbals shatter recklessly behind them. The tempo is very fast as venomous growls step into the verses. The lyrics will completely bash you into the ground and give you no time to breath. Later you'll come across a monstrous break down that includes melodic guitars and exploding drum rolls that will have you up and moshing in no time. If this first track is something you like then prepare to be hooked by the entire album.

"Well Of Despair" picks up right where the last track left off. Dominating drum patterns come rushing in with more fast tempos. The fills in this track are absolutely mind blowing. You'll find much detail in the snares and toms especially. Meanwhile the guitars are chugging away with viking like melodies. The great thing about the vocals is that most of them are fairly clear and easy to understand. You may even find yourself quoting the lyrics throughout the track. The guitar solo towards the end of this masterpiece is what will really grab you. Catchy melodic notes float through the air with ease as the drums and cymbals take a short break. The refrain picks up one last time before the song finally comes to an end.

More fast pace melodic guitar riffs come through in "Perception Of Reality" and "Metus Odium." The chugging patterns in the guitars is quite addicting and will have you bobbing your head from start to finish. Constant double bass pedals rumble violently beneath you as more vicious growls tear you to shreds. Later you'll come across a short track, entitled "I'll Be Your Suicide." It runs for only two minutes and 54 seconds long but it definitely pack a punch. Booming double bass pedal drumming and thunderous toms and snares will completely rattle your brain. The guitars throw a lot of different melodies at you as well. You'll find yourself hitting the replay button over and over again.

By now you may be thinking, "Some of these track definitely seem to have some strong influences by the band Amon Amarth." Well it turn out, later in the album you'll come across the song "Into Submission" which actually features Johan Hegg who is the lead vocalist of the band. This is actually what caught my eye when i first looked at the track listing of the this album. The track will knock you out of your chair with its beastly growls that soar high over the guitars and drums. The guitars deliver catchy chugging melodies that you could definitely picture in an Amon Amarth song for sure.

The only issue that I have with "Illusions OF Grandeur" is that after a while, some of the tracks start to sound the same. Almost every track opens with the same exact distortion and same melodies. The album is definitely heavy and will definitely have your blood pumping but I think they need to change up some of the opening riffs of certain tracks. Besides that Evocation delivers some incredible double bass drum patterns and insane growling vocals. The album is definitely worth checking out, especially if you're not familiar with them.

8/10

Official Site - http://www.evocation.se/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/evocationswe
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blizzard At Sea - Individuation (EP) (2012)


Blizzard At Sea might be one of the best kept secrets of American metal. And while it wholly unfortunate, it is all about to change. After their first album, 2011's "Invariance," made the rounds, the trail of destruction it left behind was a sign of things to come. The question has never been if this Iowa city three piece would create a masterpiece, but when. And as strong as they were, few would have thought little over a year later, the day would arrive. With the release of their new album, "Individuation," they are no longer a post-sludge band on the rise. Woven through the 35 minutes of new material is a mastery of all things metal, and a statement that their time is now.

In the opening moments of "Accelerating Returns," you find a growing maturity, an ability to exercise restraint without compromising. There is an atmospheric quality to the guitar riffs, one that helps to build and craft a lasting melody in your head. But as the rolling of toms comes through, the imminent explosion is upon you. Without fail, the distortion blasts through, followed by a destructive low end. The punishing vocals that formed the foundation in their earlier effort are back, but with an more refined nature. Everything has a perfectly thin coat of polish on it, from the production work on  the drums, to the rattling bass lines. But don't take that to mean that the aggressive tones and violence have left. The short melodic passages are merely fuel for the flames, igniting with a single downstroke and crushing chord. Even more staggering than the music itself is the way it seems to bend space and time, with a near thirteen minute play time coming and going in what seems to be a blink of an eye. The outro portion, for all the sound and fury, may be the most complete blitz of metal instrumental you will find on a sludge album this year.

Offsetting the more dense work, "The Technological Singularity" is the necessary lateral movement, with both guitarist Steven Douglas Ross and bassist Jesse Cohen laying down some of the more vicious screams the album has to offer. The added depth comes from not only the dual voices, but from a booming drum kit that fills every available hole with a roll, a kick, or a crashing cymbal. A brilliantly written and executed stop inhabits the middle portion, with all going silent. Note by note, the guitar reenters, flanked by the building bass line. Just when you think you have an extended crescendo at work, the sky drops on your head, with new drummer Pat Took coming back with a kick sound that has every chance of rattling your brain loose. It is when all three members come together in a single lock step attack that the band are at their best. The outro here is the perfect example, with both bass and guitar darting up and down the scales together, in a flash of pure musicianship.

The closing track, a nearly twenty minute opus titled "Longevity," could be packaged and sold as the how-to for post metal and sludge. But not only does this three piece touch on all of the sub woofer rattling tenets of the aforementioned genres, but they dabble in progressive elements, sometimes bringing to mind the more bass driven works of Tool. At nearly three minutes in, a bass and guitar combination is all you have gotten, and there won't be a second where you regret it. But as the percussion enters, and you perhaps expect the first shots fired, you get a little surprise. Clean vocals, without a trace of anger or rage, float through the air, in a startling change of pace. Even more than that, each subsequent verse is beautifully performed, with an amazing focus on melody and harmony.

There is a crispness to everything going on, whether that be due to flawless production, or just a band that has begun to reach their musical apex. If your head hasn't moved to this point, it surely will. Hidden in the riffs and bass work is something intrinsically catchy, a style and tempo that may seem familiar at times, and completely new at others. That ability to blend old and new is what sets this track apart from others, including the vocal changes. Even when the coarse screams return, they are given an added boost, thanks to the contrast now at play. All three members are at their level best here, forming a sonic bulldozer, but one that is as much finesse as it is power. Somehow they take a airy buildup and push it head first into a gritty vocal performance, and make it not only make sense, but allow it to thrive. Every kick drum, every roll, every pluck of a bass string does nothing but expand the sound. And unlike so many tracks of this length and scope, there isn't a point where you think it should be over, and find yourself bothered that it isn't. Every second has a purpose, and every movement is a necessary part of things, up to and including the last notes of the album.

The guys of Blizzard At Sea aren't worried about the old "sophomore slump." Not only do they capture all of the heaviness of modern American metal, but they take the next logical step in the evolution of their own sound. They manage to balance out the raw power of "Invariance" with a smoother finish. Every melody is catchier, every blast beat is more bruising, and each and every guitar chord blows you back in your seat. This is a post-sludge style of music that is as versatile as it is rewarding. And while it only took a year to go from debut to masterpiece, these three towering tracks have a lifetime worth of blood, sweat and tears sprinkled throughout. They have now come to define "Individuation," even more than the album defines them.

9.5/10

Official Site - http://blizzardatsea.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/blizzardatsea
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud (2012)


For a man who's been in involved in so many different bands and worked with so many different musicians, Devin Townsend continues to come up with his own fantastic masterpieces. The Devin Townsend Project is releasing their 15th full length studio album. It's called "Epicloud." The album contains 13 phenomenal tracks that contain multiple genres mashed up into one giant opera. This includes gorgeous female vocals from the Dutch singer/songwriter Anneke Van Giersbergen.

"Effervescent!" is a quick intro that opens the album with a choir of vocals harmonizing beautifully. This leads you right into "True North." Female vocals take over and are full of reverb effects. She is soon joined by the choir of vocals from the beginning of the album. Thumping kicks and snares come rocking in while guitar riffs start chugging away as the instruments build up for the verse. The verses are filled with a mixture of male and female vocals. There's definitely a lot going on in the track so you might want to replay it a couple of times. They throw an aggressive breakdown towards the middle of the track that has more female vocals floating in the background as violent guitar riffs blast away with harsh distortion. Although the riffs are dark the synths and epic vocals in the background give it a lighter feeling.

The epic vocals continue to layer each other in "Lucky Animal." Catchy melodies in the verse will have you singing along immediately. The guitars still stay heavy with monstrous riffs and rough distortion. The upbeat tunes will have you pumping your fists in the air for sure. The track is only three minutes and 21 seconds which is one of the shortest tracks on the album. It's followed up by "Liberation" which is also the same length. This leans a little more towards the power metal side with its epic high flying vocals and relentless double bass pedal drumming. The fills in the track are insane so definitely make sure you listen closely. The refrain has soaring vocals with solid harmonizing back up vocals giving it a full sound. It's a very addicting melody so don't be surprised if you find yourself listening to this one over and over again.

Townsend slows things down with "Where We Belong." The vocals give a sort of Junius type of sound. Very mellow with a post metal feeling. The refrain is absolutely gorgeous with more addictive lyrics and melodies that you'll be singing along with right away. The verses have acoustic guitars giving a soothing sound to the mix. The drums don't come in until the chorus hits. This is where you'll also find blasted distorted guitars and heavy shattering cymbals. This is a must hear track.

What's great about this album is that you'll have songs like "Divine" which is completely calm throughout its entirety. The soothing vocals put you to sleep while keyboards and synths completely consume you. Then you have a song like "Grace" which starts out the same only with female vocals and still gives you that post metal feel. However then out of no where come these exploding drum rolls and machine gun double bass patterns that will knock you out of your seat. Punishing shouting vocals take over with harsh aggression leaving you with no other option but to bob your head to the drums. Then the ravishing female vocals step back in towards the end mellowing everything out again. It definitely give you that beauty and the beast type of feeling.

This album throws you through ups and downs s far as melodies and moods go. Some tracks are heavier and more aggressive than others while some just have some gorgeous musicianship and great song structure. The mixture of so many elements keep you at the edge of your seat at all times. Devin Townsend has definitely out done him self this time. Make sure you hear this album. It's one you won't want to miss!

9/10

Official Site - http://www.hevydevy.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/devintownsenddtb
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Valonkantajat - Tuomittu Elämään (2012)


When Finnish modern metallers Valonkantajat wrote their latest opus, they chose to keep the lyrics in the native Finnish language. They felt that no other language could capture the every day hardships of living in the north. With so much thought and care put into the words, they hope to bring light to the dark, and tell stories from the native land. But on "Tuomittu Elämään," their debut full length, they make the choice to combine thought out lyrics with cop out instrumentals, leaving their message lost at sea. With or without your Rosetta Stone, there isn't much to celebrate here.

Barking dogs open "Tuomittu elämään," followed immediately by a dense chugging guitar and our first glimpse of the melodic Finnish vocals. Even without being to understand a word, there is something that pulls you in. Musically, there isn't a whole lot of lateral movement from standard metal riffs at this stage, focusing more on the lyrics themselves. There are signs of life to be had, with some fairly intricate guitar work occupying the lead section. A few background screams accent the vocal line, and give a little added depth to the track. Double kicks emerge in the early stages of "Surunmurtama," giving you the extra punch you may have been craving. But what follows is bordering on power metal structure, with a range of tones layered together. There is a unique ethnic nature to the vocals, obviously; one that keeps you following the various ups and down of the delivery style. The guitar work gets far more detailed here, showing off the versatility available. That is even more clear on "Rakkaasi kadotat," a song that gives you your third style in as many tracks. A more straight forward rock track, it may leave you wanting something more than you get. What echoes throughout the track is the simplistic, yet expertly delivered, bass line. Buried late in the track is a solo that breaks you from the haze you may fall into. Brisk, smooth, and passionate, this is some of the best fret work on the album.


Without deviating much from the formula, "Raskas päivä päättyy" does pack a wallop. With both guitars crushing down together in unity with an array of drums, you finally get a true density in the chorus section. However, the stripped down verse, dominated by a bass line and vocals, drains some of the all important momentum. A solo saves the day again, continuing to give you the desire to keep listening. But as you delve into "Ihmisen laulu," you are subjected to a track that is more modern American punk than anything else. The unique qualities that set this band apart from others are lost here, in a generic turn for the worse. In hopes to regain your attention, "Paha ei saa palkkaansa" employs some of the more dynamic instrumentals on the album. Machine gun guitars lock in step with pulsing drums to form a wall of distorted glory. The tempo has increased, thanks largely to the more raucous percussion at play.

But despite that one off display, things once again go stale on "Tavoitinko taivaan." There is nothing inherently wrong with the track on the whole, but there is nothing to elicit repeated listens. By now, the vocals are no longer a selling point, as you wait for something else to emerge as a strength. And without any real variation to the guitar work, you are left with standard radio fare. And while credit must be given for frontman Jaake Nikkilä's attempt to resurrect "Käädyt," the damage is already done. His occasional screams are little more than a pop, drown out by cookie cutter riffs and a lack of true emotional investment in the instrumental. And as the track wears on, every second seems to last longer, leaving you stuck in a purgatory of recycled ideas. And when "Lupaus" takes control of you, you can be sure the end is coming close. The song plays out like a ballad, but in a good way. There is a breath of fresh in, in the form of some acoustic guitar work, that gives the track new life. An extended solo section is the last real wave of metal influence to be had. The closing track, "Hiljainen mies," clocks in at what amounts to six excruciating minutes of modern radio rock, followed by a successful closing minute. The intensity on display in the last sixty seconds could be a positive, as a sign of hope for the next offering, or a negative that it took so long to release that.

Music is the universal language. You don't need to understand the lyrics of a song to get the true emotion behind it, or even to appreciate the way it is all delivered. But for Valonkantajat, there is something lost in the translation. Perhaps the Finnish lyrics are hiding something far deeper than what you can hear from track to track. But with a bevy of basic guitar structures, on again off again drum patterns, and tracks that all hover around five minutes each, there has to be something more to it, doesn't there? Of course you have victories here and there, mainly in the rare lead parts, but not enough to turn this 50 minute offering into a mind altering event. And with each listen "Tuomittu Elämään" is less of an event.

6/10

Official Site - http://www.valonkantajat.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Valonkantajat/154609347929737
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 59 (Production 101 is now in session)

Justin talks all things APVTH, while Darrell has some high praise for Italy's Wind Rose. But more importantly, we honor the fact that school is back in session. With the kids, young and old, back in class for September, we decide to hold our own lecture about what it means to have good, or bad, production values. Some albums can be perfected with precise mixing or mastering. And some become just plain awful.



Part 1.



Part 2.
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

SinophiA: The Interview


It isn't often that a band from 4500 miles away makes an impact here in the US. Serbian classic metallers SinophiA have a sound that may come off as familiar. Embodying all of the best traits of bands from Judas Priest to Hammerfall, this young team of musicians are about to make a big splash. We sat down with guitarist Stefan Apatović to get the ins and outs of Serbia's up and coming metal kings.

First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking the time to answers some questions for us. Let's start with the name. Where did the name SinophiA come from, and how did you decide that it would be right for your music?

Stephan:
Thank you guys for calling me. It is an honor and privilege to do interview for Sorrow Eternal Blog. You're awesome. 

The first ideas for SinophiA's current work and music writing were established in 2008.  in Serbia, when singer Miodrag Fodora, my blood brother and  bassist Nemanja Apatovic and I began to cooperate in a former band. After a few bands and members were exchanged, in the middle of 2011. We decides to elevate our work and music creation to a higher level, and we finished a couple of our own songs and started looking for permanent and serious members in order to make it all come true. Drummer Ugljesa Cubrilo and guitarist Attila Lukacs soon joined the lineup in January 2012.

Let me introduce you inside our story. SinophiA story happens in the 41. millennium where the world is no longer what it used to be. After many disasters that our civilization has endured are born many many more. Humanity has experienced a crisis which many do not even remember. Spaceships are the only way to travel through many galaxies, and death follows us at every possible corner. Heresy took advantage of mankind and trying to root it out. SinophiA is one of many cities that are victims of corruption and conspiracy. I personally chose this name for the band, because the story I'm going to break down over time, it will describe the world in which we currently live. When you look at the story you will see that we are not far from the truth. You need to stand and fight for what is ours and what we have been building for centuries.

Your influences include some of the biggest names in metal, past and present; from Iron Maiden to Dio, Iced Earth to Hammerfall. How did those bands help to bring you into metal, and shape your sound?

Stephan:
The most distinctive element of the band’s sound is the harmonies, melodies and gallops that can be heard in every song.  The vocals are often high-pitched, but express a full range, while the rhythm section uses thrash and power metal techniques such as double-bass-drumming to keep the speed and energy high. I personally have gotten into the whole story about themes and stories that stretch to almost every song. I'm a big fan of concept albums. I am an amateur writer and because of these bands I started to write lyrics and books.

What does the name of the new EP, "Blessed & Cursed," mean to you personally?

Stephan:
Personally, one part of my life is in that EP. We sacrificed  a lot for this band, and I thanks my brothers from the band for helping me with that whole story. Some good and bad things that have happened to us in life, we have poured into this EP of 4 songs.

I am grateful to people who were with us and whom without this would not be possible. I also want to thank the people who did not believe that we can do this. I believe that everything in life can be achieved if you have enough faith in yourself and in what you do. That's exactly what we did and here we are.

Two things stand out over the course of the four songs on the album. First, the vocals are very strong, with great range. How does Miodrag's vocal range help when writing?

Stephan:
Miodrag is a music genius. He is the main composer in band. He's insane. Whatever we wants, it's not a problem for him to make that possible. And I need to mention it. He only have 18 years and he never went to singing lessons. He just sang along with his favorite bands.

Secondly, the layered guitars make the instrumentals so powerful. How did you balance the heavy distortion with melodies and get this classic metal sound?

Stephan:
Well, it just happened. I think that good part in that have studio where we recording. We love old school rock, metal bands. We just found our sound. We don't have expensive equipment, but we definitely have a lot of ideas.

The production on your album is good. How easy is it to find places to record, and what is the recording process like for an up and coming band?

Stephan:
Well, in Serbia we don't have many studios where we could record our stuff. You just need to pick one of 5. Some of them is very expensive  and we just don't have opportunity to record right now in some huge, expensive studio. I've entered the studio for the 1st time in my life with SinophiA. And it was like, whoa, stop.. This is great! I've found myself in there, and I like the time that we spent in the studio. It's funny, and awesome experience. You just need to be yourself. Don't hurry when you need to record your parts, and everything will be ok. 

Being from Serbia, what is the metal scene like in your country? How big is metal there, and how difficult is it to build a name for yourself?

Stephan:
My personal opinion of Serbian Metal scene? Huh,that's a complicated theme, I must say. I personally think that  Serbia has many good metal bands, I can assure you in that. But it's very hard to find places for young bands to play some gigs. It's also hard to find money for financial support of these bands and to promote them. Surely, metal is not the main genre in this country, but Serbia does have a lot of metalheads which support domestic metal scene, which is very important. 

As for some big names in Serbian metal scene, I have to mention some bands like Sangre Eterna, Forever Storm, Destiny Potato (who signed for Century Media month ago), Midgard. Those are bands in which Serbia can be very proud of. I don't think that Serbian metal scene is very developed, but I hope that soon there will be some good conditions for the bands to develop the scene as much as they can. 

That said, you have shared the stage with other Serbian bands over the last year. Who are some of your favorite local bands?

Stephan:
Definitely Power metal band Forever Storm. They recording 2nd album right now. Thrash/Groove metal band Rapid Force, Heavy metal band New Mythology and Heavy Progressive band Third Gallery.

In September, you have the opportunity to open for Tim "Ripper" Owens, former frontman of Iced Earth and Judas Priest. How do you feel about playing this show, and sharing the stage with a legend?

Stephan:
Our greatest achievement so far was gaining the approval of the Extreme Metal Fest organizer and owner of Zlabog Promotions (booking & promotion agency), Nikola Vukobratovic, who gave us the honor of sharing the stage with the former singer of Judas Priest and Iced Earth,  Tim "Ripper" Owens, as well as the bands Atlantida (Serbia) and Sandstone (Ireland). It happened completely unexpectedly. He offered us a gig and we accepted it without even thinking about it. I believe that we are worthy to open the gig and for us this is a dream come true. 

Do you think that playing this show, along with your other dates for the year, will help to spread your music farther around the world? How get hard has it been to get your name out there?

Stephan:
This is our time, right now. I hope that concert will open some wider horizons further. There are not many bands that get that opportunity and ruins. This is the life opportunity, and we're still shocked. We can't wait for it. 

With bands from across the world, there is always a question of language. Why do you think English tends to be the chosen language across metal, and why did you guys do your lyrics in English?

Stephan:
It's easier for me to write in English. I feel more comfortable. English language have many aspects of words and it's pleasant. It's the language that speaks almost every person in the world, and everyone is ok with that fact.

Lastly, with the EP out on your site, and live dates lined up, what comes next for Sinophia? What are the plans for the future of the band, and when can we expect a full length album?

Stephan:
More and more gigs that is for sure. We wants to visit some states like Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Hungary, they are our neighbors. There is a video too that we need to do. We still don't know where, but everyone will be informed when it comes to that. Also, next year we will surely entered the studio and start with the recordings of the 1st full length album. That's it for now.

Thank you again for taking the time to sit down with us. We are looking forward to a bright future for Sinophia, and other Serbian metal.
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Ex Deo - Caligvla (2012)


As they shake the ground beneath you violently, Ex Deo has returned with another dynamite album. It goes by the name "Caligvla." This bone crushing album delivers nothing but exploding drum rolls, roaring vocals, and electrifying guitar riffs. This is only the bands second full length album but they sure do pack a punch with this one.

The album opens with "I, Caligvla" which has epic strings and horns that make you feel like you're entering in a parade in the streets of Rome. Distorted guitars come chugging in with monstrous riffs while horns light up the background with constant tunes. The vocals step in introducing themselves in a shouting tone. They then switch to violent death metal shouting and completely take over the verse. Heavy double bass pedal drumming rumbles beneath you with reckless thumping bass lines. The refrain throws more pounding guitar riffs along with overwhelming vocals and beating kicks and snares that'll have you up and moshing for sure. The strings step back in towards the end of the track adding more epicness to the song. This track will have you hooked and ready to go for the next nine tracks to go.

"The Tiberius Cliff" picks right back up with the powerful chugging riffs and aggressive vocals in the verses. Cymbals are constantly shattering in the background while double bass patterns roll through with complex fills. The vocals surround you with energy has they blast in your face with a harsh delivery. More strings and horns come back in with "Per Occulus Aquila." You'll find two growling vocals in this track. They layer on top of one another in certain areas adding build up to the refrain. The chorus has machine gun double bass pedals along with high flying strings and other orchestral instruments. They also hit you with an impressive guitar solo half way through the track which is the first real solo of the album. Notes hit you from every direction leaving you clueless as to where the track will go next.

Songs like "Pollice Verso (Damnatio ad Bestia)" and "Teutoburg (Ambush Of Varus)" really begin to step things up with the double bass pedaling. Both tracks shower you with jack hammering kicks and relentless snares that beat you into a pulp. The deep chugging guitar riffs will have you pumping your devil horns in the air immediately. If you're looking for some amazing death metal to blast in your car then these are the track to do it with.

Ex Deo has a similar delivery that Amon Amarth has only their music is a bit more darker and violent. "Caligvla" has some really catchy hooks and certain breakdowns will have you bashing your head automatically. The album provides electrifying riffs and thunderous drum rolls that will keep you addicted for days. And on top of that, the orchestration is absolutely incredible. Definitely give this album a listen. It's well worth the time.

9/10

Official Site - http://www.facebook.com/exdeo
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/exdeo
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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wind Rose - Shadows Over Lothadruin (2012)


There is a pretty good chance that if you begin your musical career in a band covering the likes of Symphony X and Dream Theater, you have quick fingers and a good sense of rhythm. Evolving from those humble roots, Italy's Wind Rose decided that, in 2009, it was time to strike out on their own, with original material. After their debut EP garnered some positive attention a year later, it was time to take things to a new level. Enlisting the help of renowned producer Cristiano Bertocchi, this five piece symphonic power metal outfit is aiming for the stars. On their new album, "Shadows Over Lothadruin," classical inspirations evolve into something larger than life.

A short orchestral opening, titled "Awakening," sets the scene, as if opening the epic film to come. Our narrator speaks over a combinations of immense strings and horns. The tempo builds and boils over, just in time to launch "The Endless Prophecy." Wasting no time with formalities, the band gives you a quick smack in the face, aided by rolling drums and distorted guitars. The ringing of bells is the accent that puts the sound over the top. By the time Francesco Cavalieri flexes his vocal muscle, the budding instrumental already has you hooked. With only one guitar, a departure from the power metal norm, much of the honus lies on the bass to carry the tune, something Alessio Consani does with bravado. The keyboards and synthesizers give an added depth, even when they are taking over the lead. After the short galloping of horses in "The Tournament," you flow without haste into "Siderion." It is here that you get your first taste of the medieval intricacies on display, with fluttering strings blanketing the thunderous double kick drums and the perfectly syncopated vocals. Somewhere between the enchanting tune and the dense chugging, you find yourself lifted above it all. Whether it is the soaring voice of Cavalieri, or the sea of keyboards provided by Federico Meranda, you are bound to focus on one thing at a time, which is dangerous and may require a few trips through to take it all in. The battle of keys and guitars in the outro, however, is not to be missed.

And while "The Grand March" is exactly that, a call to march forward, it is merely a stepping stone into the next track, "Son Of A Thousand Nights." Constructed from a base of piano keys, there is a beauty and richness to the early stages that carries on throughout. While calling this track a ballad wouldn't be frowned upon, it fits better as a movement in a play, ripe with harmony. The bass line stars here, simple though it may be, driving each passing vocal melody.  Even in the stripped down setting, Claudio Falconcini manages to deliver a blistering piece of fret work. A somber end is a beautiful contrast to the aggression beginnings of "The Fourth Vanguard," a track that boasts some of the heaviest moments the album has to offer. A dynamic allegiance between the booming kick drums and the surgically precise guitar chugging forms, creating boulders of sonic weight that come flying in your direction. That cinematic feel that is so often found in power metal has a home here, both in overall sound, as well as the arching vocal patterns. No piece of this puzzle can stand without the others, a quality that keeps your ears open for every detail. Even when Cavalieri is doing a more standard approach, there is a strength in his voice that commands the track. Lightning fast finger work inhabits the latter half, both on keys and strings, leaving you in a sweat, with mouth agape. A howling wind and ominous warning are all you get in "Dark Horizons," before it is time to move on.

When the foundation begins and ends with keyboards and pianos, as it does in "Majesty," you are balancing precariously. But somehow, as this nine minute epic gets a head of steam, everything falls into place. A number of tempo and tone changes keep every section flowing and fresh. There is an odd element to the keyboard that may bring to mind an eighties prog ballad, but those shortcomings are quickly covered by a barrage of drums, courtesy of Dan Visconti. And if you aren't sure, to this point, just how deep Cavalieri's talent goes, you will get your answer. Our narrator returns in "The Havoc," recapping the destruction. But "Oath To Betray" brings the hammer down with authority. This is the kind of track where the instrumental shines, and singer, for better or worse, is just along for the ride. Through the winding guitar riffs and bass heavy rhythm section, the story advances, even with Cavalieri seeming overpowered. The breakdown portion, complete with stop/start guitar and drum dynamics, pounds the nail down for good. When paired with the very operatic storytelling style of "Led By Light," you have a duo of songs that showcase the best the band has to offer.

Starting the home stretch, "Sacred Fount" follows solemn footsteps. In his prayer, he calls out for the "Moontear Sanctuary," which is, not coincidentally, the next track. This is the building ballad you may have been expecting. Beginning with softly played acoustic guitars, it builds slowly to a simmer, with daring vocal harmonies filling most of the track. As the wall of voices fills your ears, a pulsing drum beat enters to keep time. This isn't a throwaway, however, with a catchy hook cutting through the massive choirs. The final interlude, "Vererath," is the beginning of the end of the story. With middle eastern inspired guitars ringing out, it shines the light on the finale, "Close To The End." In its ten minute plus run time, you get a taste of it all. Cavalieri gives a commanding performance, his voice hitting all of the notes, from the soaring to the solemn. But the band, tighter than ever, takes the proverbial cake here. Falconcini and Meranda duel, weaving in and out of one another. Their fingers twist and tie, float and sting, laying down trails of notes that would make you dizzy to follow. This is the coming to fruition of everything once thought to be a dream. The conclusion to an album that, until three years ago, would have been left unmade.

With the tremendous talent of the next generation of progressive power metal bands, it is almost becoming a forgone conclusion that each and every album will be above expectation. And while this is wholly unrealistic, Wind Rose make it look all too easy. The musicianship is exciting, and the way it all gels together is nothing short of astounding. But what sets "Shadows Over Lothadruin" apart from so many of the other albums you will encounter this year is the balance between storytelling and cohesive metal music. Most acts favor one or the other, leaving the other side of the scale tilted and unsettled. But here, both sides get equal thought, leaving you with an album that sounds larger than life, and may actually be.

9/10

Official Site - http://www.windroseofficial.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/windroseofficial
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

APVTH - The Necropolis (2012)


Awesome symphonic black metal music out of Montreal, Canada?! I never would have guessed. APVTH, originally known as A Psycho Voyage Through Hell, has come out with their new album, entitled "The Necropolis." This is the bands third full length album and it contains 8 darkened orchestrated tracks that will blow your mind. Wicked screeching growls backed up by angelic strings and synths and melodic guitars is what this band is all about.

The album opens up with overwhelming guitar riffs that are piled on top of each other throwing you into a world of chaos right from the get. Stings float in the background wild fast drum rolls send double bass patterns and clashing cymbals flying at you. After about a minute in, the instruments mellow out as eerie keyboard come in with dark melodies. The vocals kick off the verse with fast pace black metal screeching. They are covered in filters and reverb giving off a real devilish feel to the track. Raging guitar riffs come soaring back in with mind blowing guitar riffs that run up and down musical scale. The song ends with keyboard melodies that contain some interesting reverse reverb sound effects that add a very dark feel as it comes to an end.

You're then hit with a complex drum opener smashing toms and snares recklessly as the guitars quickly join in afterwards. Relentless snares beat you into the ground giving absolutely no time to breath. This cuts right into the verse with more ominous growls and screeches. The refrain contains some catchy riffs and a light female vocal that hums gently in the background. This definitely gives you that beauty and the beast type of tone. "Revolt And Crucify" comes rushing in with fast pace drum patterns and quick chugging guitar riffs. The vocals knock you off your feet with their violent delivery and screechy tones. In between each verse is this gorgeous set of strings that are accompanied by angelic piano notes that will completely hypnotize you deep into the track. This little break will have you hooked and hitting the repeat button immediately.

You'll come across some angelic instrumentals later throughout the album. "Corpus Hermeticum" and "Valley Of Kings" place you in a whole other world with their beautiful riffs and sound effects. "Valley Of Kings" runs for over four minutes long and has an amazing build up of instruments. The string surround you with comfort while monstrous guitars blast you in the face. The orchestration in this track is absolutely phenomenal.

The final track is actually just an extended version of the first track, "War Machine." They add about a minute and a half onto the track and give a little more of an orchestrated background. Most of the beginning of the track stays the same as the original but soothing flutes and keyboards close out the last minute. They should have just made this track one and left the album at a total of seven tracks.

APVTH has its own sound of unique structures and melodies that really help them stand apart of others. "The necropolis" contains some insane drumming and incredible guitar work that'll definitely have you wanting more. It's topped off with great orchestrated instruments and some powerful and demonic vocals. This is an album worth checking out. You won't be disappointed!

8/10

Official Site - http://officialapvth.wix.com/home
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/apvth
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SinophiA - Blessed & Cursed (EP) (2012)


Far be it from me to comment on the Serbian metal scene. Somewhere, 4500 miles from where we sit, there is an upswell of bands, looking to make their mark, not only on their brethren, but on fans the world over. SinophiA, a classic power metal act from Novi Sad, the second most populous city in Serbia, are crafting a brand of metal that could be as far reaching as their wildest dreams. Taking their influences from some of the most heralded bands in the world, Iron Maiden, Dio, and Iced Earth, this five piece has garnered a great deal of praise, even given the opportunity to support Tim "Ripper" Owens. So, with the eyes of the world watching, they launch "Blessed & Cursed," a debut EP that may resonate from Serbia, To New York, and beyond.

Leading off with "Void Of Doom," they waste no time mashing together a melodic guitar lead with a distorted rumble beneath it. The squeal of harmonics cuts through, welcoming the vocal lines to the track. Taking on the sound and structure of classic power metal bands, like Judas Priest, the vocals aren't necessarily operatic in any way, but the evidence of range is there even in the weaker moments. Each element, separately, does its job. But there are moments when, layered together, they lose a little bit of their punch. The band seems more at home in the heavy galloping riffs of the breakdown portion, one that is bookended by some good guitar work. The title track, "Blessed & Cursed," is a stand out here, right from the word go. The guitars have tightened up, and the melody that flows throughout the track is catchy, if nothing else. That same thunderous stomp that worked so well before returns, but with vocalist Miodrag Fodora finding his stride. Between the drums, which are suitably busy, and the constant vibration of bass strings, the rhythm section powers the track forward, while the guitars steer you left and right. trhow in a light piano outro, and you have a well rounded offering.

Unlike before, "Hallowed" sees a dramatic increase in tempo, particularly in the raging opening stanza. There is a noticeable change in tone as well, with Fodora's clean vocals being met quite aggressively with some gritty growls. The combination works well, but does leave the instrumental feeling a little weak underneath. This is not to say the backing band has lost any of their drive, but the dueling vocals create a plastic wrap over the guitars, leaving them muffled. A never ending run of double kicks breaks free, opening the flood gates to a bevy of guitar riffs. And while there isn't a single riff that will blow your mind, there are plenty that will, together, get the nod of approval. Not to be outdone, a flowing bass line opens "Warscream," which boasts a larger than life type of sound. Any lack of instrumental dynamics earlier are easily rectified here, with distorted riffs commanding every moment of the track. Everything falls into place, from a dazzling lead to an over the top wailing cry from Fodora. There is a veil of maturity that surrounds this song, aside from an odd grunting pre-chorus.

It's easy to find a sound from the past in the work of Sinophia. They embody so much of classic metal workmanship, as well as the mentality. Just on these four tracks, you can witness a growing, an evolution of the band and their sound. And while it is great for the here and now, it is even better for the future. And even though Serbia might not top our list of metal destinations, with more performances like this one, it very well could. "Blessed & Cursed" found its way thousands of miles to our ears, and shows once again that we don't have a magical telescope that helps us to find bands across the world. Sometimes, their music does the work for them.

7.5/10

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SinophiA
Reverb Nation - http://www.reverbnation.com/sinophia
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