Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 01/25/18
Heyooooooooooooooo. It’s been a while, so here’s some stuff to jam! Introducing Rise of Avernus, Marginal, Antigama, Ba’al, Lark, Eneferens, Woe Unto Me, Grotesque and Niche.
Orchestral death/doom? Please, sir. May I have some more? On their latest album Eigengrau, Sydney’s Rise of Avernus craft an album that is both soars to symphonic heights and crushingly heavy lows. This is the type of album that should accompany an epic battle scene or the world’s wildest art museum party. Fans of Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Paradise Lost will eagerly sink their teeth into Eigengrau. – 365.
Punkish grind played with command and skill, served piping hot. Marginal are the band that show up to your local squathouse punk gig and impress you out of sheer contrast. And while that may be a low bar, Total Destruction is worthy of attention in its own right; the low-pitched vocals and not-crappy production help to bring out the tight guitar and drum performances, which are rough but discernable. It’s very engaging for an album that relies on variations of the skank and d-beats, and a recommended listen for any fan of non-brainy. non-tech straight up grind goodness. – Moshito.
18 minutes of catchy riffs and atypically dance-y blasts: Antigama returned at the end of last year with a little-discussed release to aid you in your quest to beat your coworkers into the world’s weirdest conga line. Even the more straightforward (and even somewhat melodic) “Division of Lonely Crows” makes me want to yell along to it in my boss’ face. The best part? It’s over before the cops arrive! The grind band with the coolest beats around doesn’t mess around, and Depressant will do everything but weigh you down. – Moshito.
My introduction to Ba’al was the boss fight in the Act V Diablo 2 expansion, but my introduction to Ba’al was was just as exciting. This no-chill post metal is full of excellent melodic riffs and brilliant transitions. The first two long tracks just fly by with constant intensity, but they take the time to do some building on the closer. The “building” tracks are what got me into post metal in the first place, but when you’re trying to break into the scene, Ba’al did the right thing by just skipping right to the good stuff. The vocals are a little hit and miss for me, but mostly because they are out of turn with the norm for the style, flipping between a black metal shriek and nearly Deftones-like cleans. There’s nothing super technical here, but they get how to create cathartic moments. I’m a fan. – Joaquin.
They took our jobs! This french duo is making a stoner-ish sludge rock of the Mastodon/Baroness variety with that slightly southern tone you don’t expect from Europe. Well, that is until they stop doing that. They show their range on this 20 minute EP, easily switching to something approaching death metal with deep growled vocals and all. While the shape-shifting is a really excellent display of musicianship, it kinda disguises what the intent of the project is. All the songs are good, but I still don’t know what Lark is. Some people like not knowing what to expect and those people will certainly enjoy this, but I’m hoping they pick more of a solid identity next time around. – Joaquin.
Oh great, more trees’n’shit atmospheric black metal. Wait a minute… is this opening track seriously like a chill post/alt-rock song? I think they attached the wrong album to this promo. The 7-minute intro that isn’t bad but doesn’t necessarily go anywhere, then you need to wait another 2 minutes into the next song before you finally get a taste of the sweet sap of “cascadian” black metal. That being said, this is actually a quite good one-man project. It takes genre that is easy to make monotonous, adds in some introspection and pleasant clean vocals, and injects much needed melodies into the mix. This guy has some impressive vocal range, not even mentioning the various growls. The production is a little flat, but it’s probably intentional as it’s a common practice in the genre. The long album closer, “Ascension” is especially strong. – Joaquin.
Among the Lightened Skies is the doom album I kept waiting for all year. Excellent slow-burning music, the heart of which beats to a funeral march. There are more chord progressions than riffs, and even the shortest song exceeds the threshold of ten minutes, but abundant keyboards and occasional guitar melodies inject a sense of motion that keeps them from lagging. The opener “Triptych – Shiver, Shelter, Shatter” already introduces a more expedient pace halfway through, and the band returns to it on several occasions. “I Come to Naught” shuffles the deck with sax, no longer the most unusual instrument in metal, but surely so among funeral doom, and enough of a “wild card” to work, yet not vapidly utilized. Nor is it the only occasion the instrument rises, I’m almost certain it makes an appearance on “A Breath of Grief“, and elsewhere quiet horns are heard. The only thing I feel could be cut shorter is the endless piano & synth middle-section of “Of Life That Never Showed It’s Face“. Unfortunately this excellent record is somewhat marred by it’s second half, The Voidness Flashed. Shorter, sad-boy metal songs built around somber vocals, soft bass and acoustic guitar, though still flashing on the occasion the band’s other side. It’s an enjoyable night-time album, but not up to par with it’s brother. Otherwise, a strong recommendation. – Karhu.
I’m not much of a brutal death metal guy, but I really like this album. That should tell you something – e.g. that I have no idea what I’m talking about. But maybe it also says what I hope it says. Grotesque are relentless. There’s hardly a slow part on this album, and even parts where the guitar isn’t frantic will still have ridiculous amounts of double bass. It’s not slam, so there’s no dumb samples or breakdowns. It’s pretty tech, but not overwhelmingly so. Vocals could be a tad more guttural for my taste, but as it is, the intensity of it all still makes for a cathartic, cleansing, just-the-right-thing-after-work (or during, actually) experience. Probably my second (in order, not in preference) favourite BDM album after good ol’ Anomalies of Artificial Origin. – Hans.
It might be a little late for a review, but I can’t help singing this album’s praises. It all starts with a beautifully sung chorus and an excellent example of sad lyrics set to an uplifting tune, and from there on out, you’re in for a prog rock extravaganza. Second track “When I’m Gone” is the first to take its time to explore some psychedelic side roads, but on the whole, Niche keep it pretty to the point. Check that vexing bass line suggestively swinging its curves in the verse of “On Down the Line” before being followed by confidently swaggering guitar work that perfectly underlines the song’s theme of dogged persistence in the face of life’s troubles; the chill but melancholy “Dear Sweet Anne” with its abrupt, dramatic ending, again fitting the song’s topic; the leather-jacket-toting hard rock of the aptly titled “Tough and Mean”; and finally, the spaced-out wanderings of “Days to Come”, where the album ends on an optimistic note of looking ahead. If you’re even remotely interested in stuff like Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, or Hammond organs, I implore you to check this album out. – Hans.