Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 01/12/17
Once more we find ourselves at the beginning. Profound quote about how time is but a man-made construct. Get your first fix of the year with Ritualization, Shaarimoth, Draugsól, Soothsayer, Black Therapy, Xoth, Serpentine Dominion, Temple of Hallucinations, Koljosen Tiekiista, Religious Observance and Wayste.
French underground slightly blackened, deathy stuff out on Iron Bonehead, anyone? Ritualization‘s got you covered, with their long-awaited debut album in tow. I was expecting the music to be a lot more cavernous, which is why I feel the production is a bit murky for some of the material (even if the bass tone is absolutely perfect). Regardless, Sacrament to the Sons of the Abyss is a really entertaining way to spend 44 minutes not around your in-laws. Ritualization play death metal. No-frills, straightforward and riffy. That’s all you really need to know to sway you towards pressing play. Listen to “Morbid Magick Stigmata” here. — Moshito.
I quested in vain for quite some time to develop a silly allegory or clever metaphor to describe this album, but nothing I came up with really seemed to fit. The fact of the matter is that this is a rock solid death metal album if you’re a fan of more adventurous fare and occult experimentation. While many publications have made a great clamor about the Morbid Angel comparisons (and, to be fair, they are there, especially in the lead work in songs like “Ascension of the Blind Dragon” or in the angular riffs in tracks like “Harba Di Ash’mdai”), the other touchstones for Temple of the Adversarial Fire are not to be overlooked either. Interspersed among the weird death riffs and chromatic solos are symphonic flourishes and well-timed choral call-and-response segments that invoke classic occult works from acts like Therion and Septicflesh. This unique blend of influences creates a cinematic and bold production that brings the riffs but is also downright fun throughout. If you’re looking for a solid soundtrack for reading some Edgar Allan Poe or plumbing the depths of Darkest Dungeon, quest no more, faithful hero. — W.
If there’s one thing that seems to unite any black metal band from Iceland, it’s a distinct sense of isolation and more than a little bit of melancholy. Reykjavík’s Draugsól load the tracks of their debut album with songs that all seem to begin with swirling blackness in mind, but by their end they’ve managed to find an unexpected path through the murk and begin to see hints of sunlight. Opening assaults “Formæling” and “Bót Eður Viðsjá Við illu Aðkasti” (jesus I hope I spelled that right) both follow this template, whereas “Spáfarir Og Útisetur” recalls Insomnium with its icy acoustic opening that quickly returns to faster, yet slightly more optimistic riffage. The final two of its six tracks “Váboðans Vals” and “Holdleysa” are a fantastic mishmash of screaming mid-paced beats, blasts and a full-on bear hug of wintry dourness that cherry pick what you’ve heard up to this point and amplify the intensity. Dissonance overall is meted out tastefully and where it’s most effective, avoiding the standard comparisons to Misþyrming and Deathspell Omega (wait… fuck). The entire album is recorded with a smooth, organic sound that rolls off old-school kvlt harshness in favor of loamy guitar mids and thumping drums. This is an album meant to be listened to from front to back, preferably while hiking straight into an oncoming blizzard, knowing you have hot coffee waiting for you back in the car. — CyBro.
This sludgy doom band from Ireland takes a few minutes to lure you in, but once your foot is submerged, they will drag you down into the abyss. After a very long (but not dull) intro, their 16-minute behemoth “Umpire” explodes and then continues to shapeshift. This band is all about creating a dark and mysterious atmosphere. Keeping a slow and plotting theme consistent throughout, there are more than enough speedy headbanging sections to keep it from being a drone fest. Strangely, if I had to pick a “for fans of” band, I’d go to a different genre and say they are like a doomier version of The Ocean. If I have one minor complaint it’s that the drums are a little muddled in the production at times (possibly purposefully for atmosphere), but overall, I’m very impressed by this record. — Joaquin.
Italy’s Black Therapy are relative newcomers to the melodic death metal scene. Despite still having that “new melodeath smell” their second album In the Embrace of Sorrow, I Smile fits right in among the genre standard bearers. The bands’ songs have a very early-to-mid 2000s Century Media feel to them if that makes any sense. Dark introspective lyrics are juxtaposed with melodic guitars and memorable hooks. Synths keep the songs from being too generic and accidentally delving into metalcore. A little more variety in future releases would go a long way in helping Black Therapy reach the upper echelon of the melodic death metal genre. Regardless, In the Embrace of Sorrow, I Smile shows just how much potential the band currently has and will be welcomed among fans of the genre. RIYL: Insomium, The Duskfall, Omnium Gatherum — 365.
Do you like science-fiction? Do you like Lovecraft? Do you enjoy the Corpse-stuffed-with-Fritos stench of a comic book convention? Do you like spooky scary skeletons that send shivers up your spine? Well then Xoth‘s Invasion of the Tentacube is for you. This foursome from Seattle, Washington which features ex members of Warbringer, Lecherous Nocturne, and Phalgeron, cranks out a blackened death metal sound that feels both epic and accessible. Musicianship is the name of the game as skill and talent oozes out of the speakers with each slime-soaked song. How this band is unsigned remains a mystery to me. If you have a label, snatch up Xoth before someone else does. RIYL: Vektor, Absu, Rumplestiltskin Grinder — 365.
While Xenophobia may be Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year (you can probably guess why), the metal Word Of The Year should be “Supergroup”. Any side project that features members of established bands is now instantly dubbed a supergroup. Most of these groups start off with a bit of hype, release their album to tepid public response, do one tour, and that’s it. The Traveling Wilberries they ain’t. So how does Serpentine Dominion‘s debut album, which features George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer (Cannibal Corpse), Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage) and Shannon Lucas (ex-The Black Dahlia Murder) stack up to the likes of other recent “supergroups”? It is a solid, is somewhat polished death metal album. Corpsegrinder would be the first one to admit that he doesn’t have much range, so whatever he does sounds like Cannibal Corpse. KSE’s Jesse Leach was brought in to write lyrics because writing anything besides dismemberment and disembowelment is too much for Fischer. Adam D adds some clean vocals throughout, which help break the monotony and add shreds of catchiness, but could get some traditional death metal undies in knots. The album is on the short side, clocking in at just under 27 minutes, but since I want to hear more, that means that they did something right. Time will tell if Serpentine Dominion live up to the supergroup moniker. — 365.
Temple of Hallucinations – Mantis
Independent | October 16th, 2016
Formerly known as Screaming at the Sun, Temple of Hallucinations describe themselves as “a studio based collective of weirdos and freaks” hailing (appropriately enough) from Weed, CA. Designed, like their first album, as one long song broken into bite-sized pieces, Mantis could have been the soundtrack to a David Lynch movie. The first couple of tracks warn listeners to expect the unexpected. Sure enough, track three features spooky samples from the mysterious “number stations”. Tribal/ritualistic undertones surface periodically within dark ambient soundscapes, fully engaging the imagination. When we eventually get to the sludge it hits home hard, and we end up on a battlefield in the midst of a raging battle. Hallucinatory. — BvrialChamber.
Koljosen Tiekiista is a Discharge-loving HC threesome that draws their inspiration from TV series Fakta Homma. Undoubtedly having begun after a night of hard drinking, as a side-project of sorts – to the masters of melancholy, Viikate. But they’ve been around long enough, gained enough traction and delivered the goods so that they ought to be considered an entity of their own. And as it’s own man, Ypäjä Palaa falls a bit short. Maybe it’s that KT has been on a roll lately. After a couple of simple, fun records they added a a bit of Motörhead, some piano and female vocals to their hardcore of traditional kind, and hit the jackpot with IIII-K.A.A.K.K.O, or that I didn’t really get immersed into their previous album, Heka Metal until this year. But Ypäjä Palaa feels like they released it just because they didn’t want to wait between records for too long. Still, even with it’s flaws, it’s an enjoyable short piece of punkpie with added flavour. –Karhu.
The use of film samples by metal bands can sometimes seem hackneyed or just plain lazy. Religious Observance, on the other hand, evidently know their cinematic history and brilliantly incorporate some of the most blood-curdling samples you’ll ever hear into their brand of heavy sludge/noise/doom. The opening sample, from the climax of Hostel II, sets the tone and is likely to prompt a huge grin. Later, in the title track, the witch burning scene from The Witchfinder General or a harrowing castration scene from The Last House on the Left in “Arnold” might wipe that grin from your face. With Boiling Excrement you get what it says on the can. — BvrialChamber.
You’ve probably never wondered what a band playing the style of Cursed meets Unsane would sound like and quite frankly neither have I. Turns out those two bands are a perfect match for breeding. Germany’s Wayste takes crusty hardcore punk n’ roll and marries it wonderfully with noise rock. The six tracks on No Innocence are incredibly fierce and well written with not only the two genres at play, but a very keen sense of melody which gives their sound an added dynamic. Closer “Dusk” makes great use of melody with nods to post rock in it’s opening as it gradually builds with intensity. The bottom heavy rhythm section delivers a punch that hits deep into the stomach and will leave you lying on the sidewalk holding your abdomen while you wait to recover. All in all, this is not to be missed if you’re a fan of the styles on display here. And that banjo interlude/outro is dope AF. — Ron Deuce.
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