Monday, March 19, 2018

Abjection Ritual : "Soul Of Ruin, Body Of Filth"

 We have "Filth Pig" to thank for opening the cross roads where sludge and industrial music mix. Such is heard on from this sludge band out of Pennsylvania. They have a great deal of  potential is displayed on their newest album. Having added more live instrumentation to this release they follow the path made popular by Neurosis. The first three songs collide together and you don't really notice this until it is broken up by what sounds to be a sampled musing of a crack whore. I like the lyrical content that seemed to be about the dark side of urban life. Screams about hepatitis are rare on a metal album. It's not until this song "Blood Mother" that I really hear them breaking away from the "Through Sliver and Blood" influence and showing your their true face, which is delightfully ugly. Can they maintain this sense of identity? There is more a celebration of noise and ambiance on "Deathbed Conversion". It is very dark though not musical enough to be a song.

They do go into actual music on "Ruin". It has a more blackened feel. As the melody is somewhat sweeping on the verse and the vocals are more manic. A lower growl joins them on what could be considered the chorus. The singer from Starkweather shows up mid way into the song which is a welcomed surprise. The "song" after this is total noise. It is abrasive and unsettling which means it achieved it's goal but is more of an interlude than a song and not really my thing. They end the album with the apocalyptic crunch of the more doomed paced "Old Sins".  I like the effects on the vocals that are giving more of a Ministry sound. Though I would not call this industrial. It is more sludge. The song winds around to a more post-rock section where samples begin narrating more harrowing tales of loathing.

I'll round this up to an 8. While it is not an album I think I am going to get a ton of mileage out of , I greatly appreciate the mood these guys are going for. It is gritty and grounded in real world torment. If you are looking for a new sludge band, these guys have been around the block but just now fully stepping into themselves so check this out.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Winterfylleth : " The Hallowing Of Heirdom "

Well this is something that might not be totally out of left field for the band as they have always had folk elements to their sound, but for this album they have abandoned metal altogether to make a neo-folk album. The first song I thought was more Dead Can Dance for them, then I went and read the promo pack for this album to find it's all acoustic. I guess even them you could have double bass or growling without distortion, but I don't think that is their intention here. It might not be what I want from them but it is well done. The test will be is it all ballads. Just because you are playing acoustic it doesn't meant it all has to be ballads, but that is what we continue to get on the second song. This time is largely instrumental with the vocal parts mainly textures in the background. They find their way back to a strum for "Aecerbot".  I guess this still falls in the ballad pile. The strum of the guitars gives it a little more movement. The vocals kind of drag behind the guitar.

The bulk of the instrumentals on here just sound like they are playing around on the guitar and decided to record it. The vocals return for "Elder Mother". Another song that is more reflective in it's pacing. It gives a bardic recall about one of England's kings. Then "Embers" is something that feels more like an interlude than a song. But since they feel it is a song and the bulk of the album are pieces like this , then I will judge it accordingly when rating this album. A string section is introduced to the gloomy "A Latch to a Grave" this is one of the album's stronger moments. Much of that is owed to the strings and the layered vocals.

The last real song is also the title track that closes the album. The vocals are really well recorded and it's not a bad song, but it continues on the same gloomy ballad tangent they have been on for the bulk of the album. While I am fine with gloom, I would like some varied shades in terms of dynamics as this sits kind of flat with me. I'll round this one down to a 6 for this reason. If you are really into neo-folk, how much new stuff can be coming out ? so you will glad to get anything.

This album comes out  April 6th

Saturday, March 17, 2018

the Crown :" Cobra Speed Venom"

Well as far as Swedish death metal goes, this is not a total rip off of  Entombed or At the Gates so that is a surprise. Of the two bands it is in more of the At the Gates vein. Three members of the band have been around since it's 1998 inception. So for twenty years they have been about the head banging. The frequently meet at the intersection of death metal and thrash. You can hear the Slayer influence on "Iron Crown" .  At one point thrash was called speed metal and as metal heads would have there was debate in line at concerts (since the internet did not exist) as to the difference between the two. Speed metal was cleaner and thrash was rawer with more of a punk influence. This would be speed metal. It is very refined. Some of this is due to the fact these guys have been doing this for 20 years. The arrangements are very fine tuned. Live this guys would likely be tight as a damn bastard.

 The solos have plenty of shredding for those of you into that kind of thing. There is more density in the driving riff to "We Avenge". It doesn't really grab me. The notes are all the right place, but I am not compelled to listen to this song more than once. The title track seems more of a show case for guitar wanking, with a few riffs that sound like warmed over System of a Down clustered around it. By "World War Machine" the album is beginning to get mired down into the kind of single minded aggression that hampers the bulk of death metal. "Necrohammer" is in more of an Entombed mindset, but it's an improvement. The chug is more powerful. More Slayer-isms can be heard hear as well.

There is a little more groove to "Rise in Blood" despite it's more hammering pace. The vocals drop into a lower death metal growl as opposed to the more mid ranged thrash rasp. "Where My Grave Shall Stand" is more melodic , but and instrumental meant to show case some guitar solos. It ends with more of the same that we have heard earlier in the album, just with a few more blue notes carrying over from the instrumental. Some of the bonus tracks might be better than the album tracks , but for the sake of this review I am just going to review the normal album tracks, which brings this album to a 6.5. Very meat and potatoes. If you want heavy, but no real sense of adventure and everything in your face all the time then this is for you.

Black Foxxes :"Reidi"

I really loved 2016's "I'm Not Well" so expectations are somewhat high. I want them to give me more emotive blues edged grunge. Their front man Mark Holley went to Iceland to write this album. The opener finds them remembering who they are but with a lusher sound that in it's androgyny reminds me more of Placebo than the last album did. It is suitably dynamic with smart melodies. Though it doesn't have the same raw urgency. There is more of a radio alternative rock feel to smoother "Manic In Me".  It's pretty content in this territory and upbeat considering what we have heard from these guys in the past.  Things continue down this more upbeat direction on "Saela".

There is a more organic sound to "the Big Wild". It is no where as brooding as their previous album. The casual strum has a more Police feel to it. The guitar playing is nuanced and these guys are good at what they are doing, I guess I am having to think about how invested I am in their previous sound. There is no way to avoid saying this is more middle of the road. This album sounds more like it was conceived on the beaches of California than in the cold of Iceland. I continue to wait for this album's explosive moment. Things do get closer to this on "Oh, It Had to be You". Gone are the almost punk like moments of tension. I suppose it could be described as introspective. They do have more colors of sound on this album. It makes me miss the band who played on "I'm Not Well" when this never moves into the dark corners that I want it to. It does have more of a dynamic build , but they never cut loose.

The first real rock is "Joy". It is still run through a radio filter and ebbs back down into this more atmospheric side. The rock that they do cut into still feels like they are driving with the breaks on. There are some cool guitar tones on the restrained "Am I Losing It". The guitar passages are almost Cure like. "Flowers" comes closer to resurrecting their older sound. Though with less teeth. Their is more of a Jeff Buckley influence on this album which really comes to the forefront on "Take Me Home". So in this way they are similar to Ours. There is a slight post-rock flavor to the atmospheric build of this one. It does swell into Holley using more of his gritty rock voice as well as a falsetto. He continues with this Jeff Buckley tribute on "Float On" which has a little more drive to it. While I am glad he found his upper register, I wish his vocals were at least more aggressive to compensate for the more atmospheric instrumentation. This is not bad it's just different and is going to take some getting used to. I'll give it an 8.5 and see how it grows on me. "I'm Not Well" got a 10 to put this in perspective.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Adversvm : "Aion Sitra Ahra"

Since Mournful Congregation is coming out of mourning to play a lot of guitar solos the quest must begin to replace them. The first candidate is this German band, who seems some what since in their occult approach to this. Right from the 12 minute opener they are heavier than the new Mournful Congregation. The vocals have a lower death growl to them. The patter of double bass follow the ringing riff to "Ps. XII Maledictvm". There is a subtle dissonance embedded in the riffs. Ominous and melodic , I'm am not sure that I would call these guys funereal doom, but they are a very richly textured mix of death metal and doom.

The title track just kinda floats out of the other songs as this album begins to fade into the back ground. It sounds good, but perhaps it's just this song that sounds like it is beginning to drone a little even though the drummer is still earning his cut of the royalties. The spoken exclamations accent the gradual build.They like their chugs and double bass, which proves their death metal leanings. This does take them out of the drone and assures they are not dynamically flat. They sample some evangelist ranting about hell going into "est in fatis". As far as instrumentals go this is certainly one of the better methods of approaching it as the samples occupy the place the vocals would normally sit. I think this would work better opening the album than in the middle of it.

The album closes with "Current 218" which is six minutes wasted on not a song but white noise. I'll give this album a 7.5. They summon some powerful sounds , but like the rule around here "cool riffs alone do not a good song make" the same could be applied to these sounds woven together. That is not to say this is a bad album, there are many good ideas in play I would just like to hear them applied to song that make me want to listen to them again. If you are into death doom, then wawit for this one to come out May 4th on Iron Bonehead.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Between the Buried and Me : "Automata "

These guys are a band I have appreciated for a long time, but never really got into. I saw them open for Converge when they were touring for "the Silent Circus", so my introduction to them was a hard core band with some technical acrobatics rather than the progressive metal band they have become. The first song on this album finds them returning to more of their metallic side. The clean vocals that follow the growls are almost like Korn. "House Organ" is more groove oriented. The verses narrated by growled vocals and the sung vocals come in on the dreamy passage that would serve as the chorus. I can hear the influence of touring mate Devin Townsend. They return to  heavier more Opeth like chug on "Yellow Eyes".  The song weaves around varied vocal styles leaning in a more grunge direction as it dances around death metal. At the midway point int breaks down into a mellower groove. Here you can hear traces of their other touring mate Cynic in the odd harmony choices of the vocals.

"Millions" kind of feels like it floats out of the previous song, particularly if you are leaving the album on and letting it play. This would not be the case if it was on shuffle mode. I like the off time groove of the song. The sung vocals alternate between Johnathan Davis and Layne Staley. The album closes with the ten minute prog Odyssey "Blot". In the first three minutes they have gone through more changes than most bands cover in an entire album. There is the vocal trade between the harsh and sung vocals as well as long instrumental passages. This album is really well produced. It is almost too clean. It has to be to some extent since their is so much going on, but I think this also dulls the edge and the guitars might sound heavier with a less fine tuned approach to lend some organic flavor to it. Some of the clean vocal melodies sound both too refined and flowery, when they could be sung with more grit.

Technically these guys are on point. They are heavier than Dream Theater and the current state of Opeth, but not heavy enough to make me take notice. Their songs even at the most melodic moments just don't have the hooks to make me want to give it another spin. If you are a fan then round it up past the 7.5 that I feel is being generous to a band that still manages to feign a sense of adventure in order to dial it in and have a reason to go on tour.

LLNN :"Deads"

It's rare that I download an album from a band I never have heard before. I typically stream it. I sort through so much music and know such a small percentage will be music that I need to own that I listen to an album a few times, review it then move on. So it says a lot when a really heavy band like this grabs my attention. Hard core might be at the beating heart of this monster. I think what I like about this the most is the sonic intensity. They are brutally aggressive, but don't stop there possessing a wider scope of dynamics, after a minute of ambiance on "Parallels" they come back and hammer you before ebbing back down a few degrees to give you room to breathe.

"Armada" has a powerful chug set against the sonic sprawl that hangs over it like a storm cloud. The vocals are delivered in angry screams. I can hear them becoming the one element that might grate against me in time. I am surprised that a band so intent on this kind of raw heaviness keeps my attention .  It's not that I do not like heavy music, as it's obvious I do or you wouldn't be reading this. It just that the bulk of band can see past the gain. There are some interludes of atmosphere. The first song where these two side are really combined is on "Appeaser". The thick bass line drives most of the song.  They get more in your face on "Deplete". The more hardcore centered vibe really comes on strong here.

The title track that closes this album has the most metal riff, if we are talking about metal in the conventional sense, though is bass driven almost like Godflesh. The raw power of what they do begins to get a little dulled when they swell into their heavier side, because at this point I am now used to it. So it behooving of them to pull out these other tricks. Tricks like the sonic buzz that it builds into which holds an almost black metal feel. Not unlike bands such as Nails or Hexis, where many different sub-genres collide This band is powered by a dark metallic hard-core draped in cinematic ambiance.  I'll round this one up to a 10.