Monday, October 31, 2011

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

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

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

Part 1 -

Part 2 -
Read more ...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Northsong: The Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

Animals As Leaders - Weightless (2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

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

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

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

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

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


Myspace -
Read more ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Isole - Born From Shadows (2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dark Haze - 天霾地晦 (EP) (2011)

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

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

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

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


Myspace -
Read more ...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 25 (©2011 Sorrow Eternal)

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

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

Part 1 -

Part 2 -
Read more ...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Asphagor: The Interview

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

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

Thanks a lot for this opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you too.
Read more ...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Entropia - Chimera (EP) (2011)

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

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

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

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

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

8.5/10 -
Read more ...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Giant Squid - Cenotes (2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Junius - Reports From The Threshold Of Death (2011)


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

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

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

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

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

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


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Albez Duz - Albez Duz (2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Myspace -
Read more ...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Iced Earth - Dystopia (2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Podcast: Episode 24 (This band is your band, this band is our band.... of the month)

So many good albums, so little time. Murmaider was stuck on Insomnium this week. Hell22 digested more, with albums by Akribi, 3, and Agartha earning a variety of scores.

The beginning of the month is an exciting time in the Headquarters, as the gang has the opportunity to single out one band to take the "Band of the Month" honors. This time around, Pennsylvania progressive black metal project Appalachian Winter steals the show. Hell22 and Murmaider take some time to discuss the mastermind behind the music, the music itself, and the interview we were lucky enough to score.

Part 1 -

Part 2 -
Read more ...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Appalachian Winter: The Interview

Fresh off becoming the focus of our October "Band Of The Month," Daniel Klyne, the sole member of Pennsylvania metal juggernaut Appalachian Winter, sat down and answered some questions that Murmaider and Hell22 simply had to ask. We get a look into his influences, his collection of instruments, and why he hates doing vocals so damn much. This was a fucking blast, and we thank Dan for affording us this opportunity!

Part 1 -

Part 2 -

Read more ...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Agartha - V (2011)

Straight from the country capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee, comes Agartha, a one man band of metal grooves and opinions. Falling somewhere in the middle of black, gothic, thrash, and death metal, Adam Phillips' creation has taken on a life of its own. And on his new album, simply titled "V," Phillips looks to take things to the next level, with a flurry of chugging chords, rolling kicks and airy keyboards. But every man has an Achilles heel. And for Agartha, that fatal flaw could be the dreaded "core."

Light piano opens the album, with "The Council of God (Genesis 1-26)" building from nothing. The sudden crash of electric guitars bursts forth, covering the piano keys in a murky distortion. It descends into madness, double bass pedals ripping ahead, atmospheric keyboards stirring the pot. The first screams enter, falling somewhere between blackened death and thrash style coarseness. The keyboard and synthesizer sounds keep the track fresh at times, in what may otherwise fall into the rotten repetition of the "core" curse. The music becomes almost too mechanical, with the drumming sounding like programmed beats rather than a human touch. As a guitar solo takes the spotlight, the backing music fails to support it. Only when the music slows do all the parts come back together, fueled by deep, abrasive growls.

The music often feels disjointed, as is the case on "Destruction Of The Gateway." It begins like a black metal massacre, complete with hoarse, screeching vocals. But the instrumentation doesn't sync up in a way that really makes sense. It sounds, at times, like each band member is playing to a different time signature. It isn't until nearly the three minute mark that things fall into place. A guitar solo unites the pieces, and the song takes a turn for the better. Intermittent chugging mixed with ravishing drums creates a momentum that carries into the next track, "Eleven Shadows Of Ahasuerus." The downtempo track fits the band perfectly, allowing the guitars to simply inflict damage on top of a loud, powerful drum beat. The brief spoken word segment is forgettable, only hurting the flow of the track. But it is soon buried among the carnage of the punishing distortion. All the while, dancing keys flutter in and out, haunting the song like a ghost long dead.

The keyboards are never more important than on the atmospheric "The Cry Of Aggni." The keys take the lead, providing the melody. The contrast of the haunting tones and the aggressive vocals is a new direction for the band to take. This is a song that fully embodies what Agartha is capable of. No tricks, no gimmicks, just straight forward, synth fueled symphonic metal. Unfortunately, then follow up their strongest track with what is probably their weakest. "The Elder" is everything that metalcore has done wrong, from the mechanical chugging to the repetitive vocal patterns. A little guitar chord work is thrown in for flavor, but it does little to salvage the wreckage. The only saving grace is the outro portion, with keys standing alone in a ghostly sound. There is something to be said about "MCCCVII," a track that is equally short and brutal. At just two and a half minutes, it is a foray into the thrash/death realm, complete with rapid drumming and some impressive fret work.

There is some inspiration to be found on "The Dawn Of The 1st Great War," a track which seems to follow the metalcore formula, but sees a twist in the form of some well orchestrated horns and strings. This is a step outside of the box, a way to reinvigorate a (hopefully) dying style. Short, but strong, it leads directly into the closing track, "The Creation Of Parsifal." The keys steal the show again, remaining atmospheric behind a wall of pounding drums and muddled distortion. The vocals, by this time, are predictable. This isn't to say they are any less enjoyable, but there simply is no variation. Even as the instruments change their tone, with a blaring guitar solo erupting from below, the vocals maintain a constant delivery. But the instruments are truly the star, winding down to a sampled chunk of trumpets and drums.

Agartha isn't a metalcore band, but any means. But they do borrow from the genre too often to suit their talents. They take what would otherwise by a pretty rousing album of keyboard fueled brutality, and water it down with unnecessary use of industrial strength chugging. But, in this case, the good outweighs the bad. Each dark, mechanical cloud has a silver lining. And on "V," they weather the oncoming storm, and brace themselves for the next.


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ghost Brigade - Until Fear No Longer Defines Us (2011)

Back for another round of Finnish progressive death metal, Ghost Brigade comes out of the shadows with their new album, entitled “Until Fear No Longer Defines Us.” This is the bands third full length album and man what a performance it is. This ten track masterpiece has got everything from roaring growls to calm clean singing with constant change in tempos and melodies. Each song being diverse and yet just as amazing as the next.

You’re greeted with “In The Woods” which is a four minute acoustic performance with lead singer Manne Ikonan singing smooth clean vocals that will draw you deep into the music. The acoustic guitars float gently in the background with relaxing melodies. As the song fades you are rudely awakened with “Clawmaster” while guitars ignite with tons of heavy distortion. Deep demonic growling vocals come flying in on top as massive drums and cymbals explode behind them. There is so much bass in this song that you’ll feel the vibrations run through your body the minute the notes are played. The vocals are interesting as the verses go back and forth between the dark growling and the soothing clean singing. This is the same for the refrain as well. You’ll also find the guitar work to be quite incredible as blaring guitar riffs scream throughout the chorus. The instruments calm down again during the second and third verse. Definitely check out the guitar work during the refrain though. The melodies being played are just phenomenal.

“Chamber” leans more towards the first track where you’re hit with gorgeous clean singing while they hold off on the reckless growling. Drumming is added toward the beginning of the song as calm guitar notes play softly along side them. The bass gives off a very warm sound as it collects the rest of the instruments and keeps them close together. The refrain does pick up and get a little heavier musically. Distortion is added while the kick and snare start to become a little more repetitive with mixed patterns. The way the cymbals and hi hats are incorporated are quite catchy and will definitely make you want to bob your head to the rhythm. As far as heavy growling goes, you run into that in “Traces Of Liberty.” It’s accompanied by loud catchy guitar riffs and reckless cymbals crashing everywhere. This track definitely jumps out and grabs you by the throat. The refrain gets even more aggressive with dark melodic guitar riffs and more deep growling vocals. You’ll also notice eerie strings in the background which provide haunting tones to the music.

Things slow down with "Grain." The guitars are light as clean vocals are delivered with such passion. The verses contain beautiful lyrics as simple hi hats and snares lead the way to the chorus. The guitars become heavier as you hit the refrain. As distortion flies by, the vocals are what you'll be following. After hearing them once or twice you'll definitely find yourself singing along. Also the melody to the guitars are absolutely gorgeous and full of energy. Make sure you don't skip this song.

By now I’m sure you’re all looking for that one track that just completely consumes you. Well “Breakwater” is that track. It’s dark chugging guitars will surround you with dark tones in the beginning as the drums beat you down repetitively. This eight minute piece of work changes up a lot with its diverse song structure which keeps you at the end of your seat the entire time. After the demonic riffs fly through, vicious growling vocals follow destroying everything in their way. After the dust clears, the distortion disappears as calm guitars take over. This is where the softer clean vocals come into play. The relaxing tones in Ikonan’s voice put you at ease as you try to recover from the violent riffs before this. Of course this doesn’t last long as harsh guitar riffs come rumbling back in at full speed along with more wicked growling on top of it. Meanwhile the cymbals are just shattering from left to right. This is where you’re going to want to throw you’re devil horns in the air. The bass is just relentless in the breakdown towards the end as monstrous guitar riffs stomp you out. The song closes out with soothing guitars and deep bass lines as you finally get to catch your breath.

Another powerful track is “Torn” as it opens with a quick drum solo. Violent guitar riffs jump in after a few seconds as devilish growls follow after that. Pay close attention to the drumming in this one because the drum rolls in between each riff is absolutely bone crushing. The detail in each fill is incredible. The melodies of the guitars are catchy during the bridge with uplifting notes and soothing synths behind them. Keep in mind that the man behind the synths and keyboards is none other than Swallow The Sun’s Aleksi Munter. The instruments combined paint a beautiful image. This is followed by the final song on the album, entitled “Soulcarvers” which is another lengthy track only this time it stays to the more mellow side. Catchy guitar riffs run throughout the song while clean vocals soar over the top really reaching out to you. The refrain builds up with deafening guitars and destructive drums while the vocals stay clean. Again, the drum fills during the chorus are breath taking. You’re definitely going to want to play this track over a couple of times.

What’s great about “Until Fear No Longer Defines Us” is that anyone and everyone can find a little something that they love on this album. If you’re not really a fan of growling but you love heavy progressive instruments with amazing clean singing then you’ll love this album. Same thing for those who are all about aggressive guitars and harsh vocals. There’s no way around it. You’re gonna find something incredible about this album. Their diverse style is what makes Ghost Brigade such a magnificent band. So make sure you check this one out. It’s an album you cannot miss!


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3 - The Ghost You Gave To Me (2011)

After a seemingly endless absence, the band with a number for a name returns with a new studio album. 3 has soaked in praise from all corners of the country, thanks to their critically acclaimed album, titled "The End Is Begun," and in part to their slot on the Progressive Nation Tour of 2008. But three years later, Joey Eppard and company have compiled a collection of songs that may take them to new places. "The Ghost You Gave To Me" sees the Woodstock, NY four piece with an edge that is sure to garner some serious attention.

The intro track, "Sirenum Scopuli," is vintage 3, taking the dulcet tones of clean guitars and pairing them with Eppard's often airy voice. It has a short but sweet effect, connecting directly into "React," a sure fire crowd pleaser. The alternating bursts of fast and slow, combined with a catchy melodic vocal hook, are the perfect way to get the ball rolling. Eppard's strength as a vocalist and frontman is equaled only by his prowess on the guitar strings, with fluttering flurries of acoustic notes floating through the air. The first single from the album follows, and "Sparrow" has a stomp that may catch you by surprise. The sizzle of cymbals and crushing guitar riffs that lead off give way to the soft crooning of the verse. But that aforementioned edge cuts through in the pre-chorus, a heavy strike that is a welcomed change from the normally progressive rock vibe. This is a realization of how impactful this band can be.

The vocal delivery that has become the band's signature returns on "High Times," a track that showcases the sheer power of Eppard's voice. he hits all the right notes, and all the right styles. His ability to cut back and forth from purely clean, to slightly raspy and gritty is enough to keep the more elitist members of the metal community happy. The rhythm section follows suit, with blasting fills and a head bobbing bass line keeping things tight. The rattling opening to "Numbers" reminds you that drummer Gartdrumm is alive and well behind the kit. The softly sung verses trick you, setting you up to be shaken, not stirred, in the chorus. A smoldering guitar solo takes you on a ride, and crashes you back in the middle of the booming riffs. The blasting outro is one that will shake you to your core, only to be saved by the beautifully sung "One With The Sun." The lyrical content has a dark playfulness, one of the band's best qualities. There is a soul to Eppard's voice, something lost far too often in the mind numbing progressive metal scene. he captures every ounce of emotion in each syllable, playing his tones off of the resonating guitar notes.

The title track begins with a pulsing drum beat, and machine gun snares. A weaving, winding guitar riff twists around you, all the while you are soothed with Eppard's vocals. From the ethreal "oooo's" and "ahhhh's" to the wild tremolo in his voice, he keeps your ears hooked. The opening riffs of "Pretty" lead into a downtempo verse, one that allows the bass to come through loud and clear. But the undeniable appeal of the chorus will be sure to get any crowd bouncing. The contrast of crunchy riffs and soothing vocals is what makes this band so accessible to so many. The guitars build in strength, initiating the head bobbing you may have resisted thus far. For fans of 'The End Is Begun," the track "Afterglow" is going to be a favorite. From the distorted guitars to the light tap of cymbals, you will find so many things to enjoy. The upbeat nature of the tune is infectious, with every layer folding together in a perfect harmony.

The clean guitar notes that dominate "It's Alive" will stick with you for days. Their immediate descent into something heavier is awe inspiring, with Eppard letting out a mighty scream over the top. It plays out like organized chaos, even through the solo portion, crashing cymbals capping off a decidedly heavy, stomping riff. The surprisingly long "Only Child" follows, and in true 3 style, commands every ounce of your attention throughout. There is so much going on at any one moment, whether it be a great bass line, a ridiculous fill, or the overall arch of the vocal melody. The track length allows the band to take a longer path from A to B, jutting off on tangents here and there. But the flow remains from one piece to the next, connected through each riff, and the haunting keyboard notes. The closing track, "The Barrier" brought to mind Beck's "Ramshackle," with the band taking a stripped down approach in the early stages. The track builds to a rolling boil, twisting and turning through solid guitar passages and vocals. It is a delicate end to an aggressive album.

Despite their past successes, 3 seem to still be relatively unknown, or at least as much as a major label band can be. The comparisons to Coheed and Cambria have been lobbed time and time again, whether they be fair or otherwise. But "The Ghost You Gave To Me" sees the band stepping out of the shadows, and into the spotlight in a way that they hadn't on their previous works. They have found a balance that could, and should, propel them into the collective consciousness of metal fans the world over. And with a slot on the Metal Sucksfest, they are sure to get some nods of approval along the way.


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Insomnium - One For Sorrow (2011)

Finally, melodic death metal band Insomnium has returned with another pulverizing, action packed album. It goes by the name “One For Sorrow.” It’s got tons of progressive riffs mixed with deafening guitars and depressive tones. You will find nothing but godly guitar solos and beautiful melodies throughout the entire album. There is even some diverse change ups in the vocals as they add a little more clean singing mixed with there demonic growls.

The album starts off with “Inertia“ which is a three minute intro that really builds up the album and gives you a little taste of what is to come. It’s nothing but insane guitar work and catchy melodies. As the intro fades you fall right into “Through The Shadows” which opens with loud monstrous guitars that chug rapidly with violent drum fills. They layer this with the lead guitar throwing melodic notes from left to right relentlessly. The motion of the song will have you bobbing your head from start to finish. As the verse starts, you are hit with a deep devilish growl that will make you flinch as he lyrics beat down on you. Fast chugging riffs accompany the vocals as they build louder and louder into the refrain. A mixture of clean singing and growling are combined together in the refrain leaving a catchy melody echoing through your head. After hearing this, you won’t be able to help but replay this track again and again. It’s got so much energy and overwhelming vocals that consume you deep into the album. Although when you finally do decide to move on to the next track, you are definitely in for another treat. “Song Of The Blackbird” provides you with complicated drum fills and blaring guitar chords with heavy distortion on top of them. The snap of the snare will constantly shake you violently as the bass lines run you over. You’ll find similar elements in “Only One Who Waits” as well. It’s nothing but pure melodic death metal being shoved in your face. This bridge in this song has got a really catchy melody to it as well as it starts off quiet and builds up to be a gigantic wave of reckless guitars all mashed together with a solo to follow. This will destroy you.

“Unsung” is a crucial track off the album that you don’t want to miss. It starts with a soft melody that is immediately torn down by the monstrous guitars that follow it. The verse kicks in with harsh growling that runs along side dark aggressive guitars and exploding drumming. The double bass pedaling is phenomenal. You are hit with the refrain often throughout the song as melodic guitar riffs take over sending you to a whole different dimension of sound. About three and a half minutes into the track you will come across the bridge which contains some beautiful clean vocals which have heavy amounts of reverb. This then leads into the refrain one last time as machine gun double bass pedals come through with explosive energy.

The band takes a break from all the violent guitars and heavy growling with “Decoherence.” This little three and a half minute track is a gorgeous instrumental with lots of soothing strings and acoustic guitars. Its got a lot of passion and it definitely adds more beautiful to this beast of an album. They use some interesting flange effects on the drums as well giving it sort of an unclear image. This is one of those relaxing tracks then let you catch your breathe as you prepare for more heavier songs like “Lay The Ghost To Rest.” Wild melodic guitars coming flying in with booming drums. Meanwhile cymbals are crashing all around you. The verse contains some vicious growling as the guitars provide the melody. Definitely check this track out.

Towards the end of the album you’ll come across another great song, entitled “One For Sorrow.” It starts out slow with soothing clean guitars and calm drums patterns. The verse comes in with layered vocals. They combine clean singing with a light growl that barely fades behind it. This gives off a very eerie feel to the song. The chorus however, is straight harsh growling lyrics with overwhelming guitar riffs chugging in the background. The guitar work overall is incredible and definitely gives a epic sound to the music. As the song fades, you run into the final song on the album, called “Weather The Storm.” This is the beast of them all as far as wicked growling goes. The vocals are amazing as dirty guitar riffs soar in the background carrying the deep growls throughout the track. The drums are relentless as well as they leave no time for rest with all of the constant snares and kicks. The fills towards the end of the song are absolutely mind blowing.

Clearly the band has shown that they will continue to release the fantastic melodic death metal sounds that they have always produced. They have improved again and again with each and every album and they have done it again with “One For Sorrow.” Hopefully they do a world tour so we can witness these incredible tracks live. Don’t miss out on this exciting new album!


Official Site -
Myspace -
Read more ...