Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 05/04/17
It is now May, no big deal TRY NOT TO PANIC WHERE THE HELL IS TIME GOING. Get your brain up to date with Legacy of Emptiness, Lucifer’s Dungeon, Slagduster, Doublestone, Life of Agony, The Fierce and the Dead, Farsot and Saille.
Band history: Started as a “hey why not?” tongue-in-cheek joke in 1995 as Permafrost. Recorded some demos then abandoned a few years afterward. Resurrected in 2010 to record said demos professionally. Wrote full album of new material called Over The Past. Now that we’re caught up, Legacy of Emptiness channel the year of their birth and the second wave of black metal with a fondness for keyboard experimentation and cathedralesque atmosphere. Synths, organs and strings often take center stage here to ornately decorate melodic guitar lines reminiscent of Diabolical Masquerade (thanks to its production from Dan Swanö), Graveworm, older Dimmu Borgir and even Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. There’s an interesting variety to unearth here as well – some segments swap harsh vocals for a softer spoken voice and dial the intensity back a bit to almost approach a gothic rock vibe, and the second track “Despair” closes with a classy banjo (!) solo. I know programmed drums bother some folks here at the toilet, but it’s not a problem except in the few cases where the tempo hits Ludicrous Speed and the artificiality becomes apparent. —Cyborg.
If you like 58 minutes of generic, repetitive riffs with little variety that go on for way too long, you’ll love Lucifer’s Dungeon, a laptop/bedroom project at best. One song starts with a heartbeat stock sound effect and heavy breathing. Are you creeped out yet at the evil lurking within? No? How about one song that’s so painfully off-tempo it hurts to listen to? Does that chill your soul? What about the obviously-made-in-PowerPoint artwork, where only the R and Ns have inverted crosses? And what’s with that star? Not enough time to make it a full pentagram? This won’t raise any dark armies, but you’ll be raising your phone halfway through track 2 looking for a better use of your time. —Cyborg.
Do you like groove? Slagduster like groove. They also like dissonant bouncy riffs, time signature changes and general weirdness. Fans of strange, varied technical metal that doesn’t sound like it was produced with 100 wax finishes: this is your thing now. There’s something for virtually everybody here: really shreddy guitar solos, tight-but-loose drumming, lots of syncopation, blast beats, you name it. As intricate and tight as the music is, please avoid playing this while working on an assembly line, because the changes in rhythm could make you wind up creating some really wonky parts that may or may not include several or all of your limbs. —Moshito.
If you haven’t had enough 70’s throwback, how about this Danish retro-rock group? This stuff really brings me back to my youth, when I was negative twenty years old. There’s no shortage of crunchy stoner vibes, and though it’s stoner doom in only the earliest versions of the term, it may appeal to some fans of the old-school psychedelic rock fare. Basically, if you like Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, you should be checking out Doublestone for a slightly more updated version of that. —Joaquin.
Life of Agony, now there’s a band I never expected to be reviewing anything new by, yet here I am. If you’ve ever wished your radio rock experience was darker and a bit more genuine in the “Hardship and Suffering” department, A Place Where There’s No More Pain has you covered. Like, a lot. Hats off to Mina Caputo for the authentically emotional vocal performances, which really are what the chunky, groovy guitars and simple but effective drumming revolve around. Hints of Alice in Chains tend to seep through a lot of the sorrowful vocal harmonies, when the band get their mid-pace melodic doom on (such as on “Dead Speak Kindly”, one of the strongest moments on the record). Don’t skip this. —Moshito.
I don’t know how to cover live albums, and it’s especially hard when it’s a band that I had never heard of before, but they sent it to us, and I enjoyed it, so here it goes. The Fierce and the Dead play a sort of psychedelic instrumental rock that is very groovy and absolutely perfect for an outdoor festival. There’s a strong 70’s vibe with LSD-laden tones and the occasional blistering solo. This band that would pull me away from the beer tent for a half hour if I heard them playing in the distance. I really appreciated that the live album included all the between-song tuning and banter. Sure, there’s some dead air, but it feels authentic and lets some of their personality slip into the record. Also, how sick is this album artwork? (go to the BC page to see the whole thing). —Joaquin.
For their third album, “experimental black metallers” Farsot, have developed a convoluted concept to convolute them all. Inspired by the film, Drowning by Numbers, and Art Nouveau artists like Khnopff and Kotarbinski. Trying to marry “failure” and “allure” together, FAIL.LURE seems to possess characteristics of a cold and even depressive atmospheric trees ‘n shit black metal record, rather than an experimental one. After the initial, ambient overtones subside, the record gains a warmer tone, with clean vocals, acoustic guitars and angry riffs. The songs are clearly ambitious, but rather flat – nothing shines through, and they lack hooks as well as memorability.And while I am hardly the right person to comment on the Art Nouveau influence, I’d have expected a lot more repetition and honing of focal themes over and over again, from an album inspired by a film essentially telling the same story three times, emphasizing structure and symmetry. Maybe I’m just missing something, but it doesn’t seem to show much. FAIL.LURE would’ve made a great EP, the three first songs carrying certain compelling qualities and “With Obsidian Hands’ ” piercing screams and cold keywork resting on Burzum-esque ground, but unfortunately the back half can’t answer to the quality. Working on similar sound, but with less intensity and failing to captivate throughout it’s length. Promising record, half-great/half-eh. Seemingly focusing more on it’s concept than contents or the dialogue between the two. —Karhu.
Symphonic black metal is often ruined entirely by the “symphonic” part, choking out all the good parts with enough cheese to make Alex Staropoli gag. Saille are one of the few exceptions; they put the music first and theatrics second. Gnosis bolsters the soaring tremolo-picked melodies and blastbeat foundation typical of atmospheric black metal bands with subtle use of synth, only putting the orchestrations at the forefront for the occasional intro or conclusion. It also carries its share of progressive elements, such as the throat-sung intro to “Before the Crawling Chaos” and a few dissonant passages cropping up here and there. This is an album that shares the same presentation as Dimmu Borgir– clean, big, and sinister- but they don’t go overboard with gimmicks, succeeding where the former fails utterly. —Spear.
Hey you. Yeah YOU. Want to contribute to mini-reviews? Find an album you’ve dug (or not) that preferably hasn’t been reviewed on the blog yet and has been released recently (within the last few months, or year if you’re so inclined), write around 100-120 coherent words about it and send it to toiletminis[AT]gmail[DOT]com. Please include the album’s release date, title, label, a link to the band’s facebook (if they have one), another one to their bandcamp (or any other place to listen to/buy the album if they don’t have one) and any other information/links that you think are relevant and want to include.
Don’t do it for me. Do it for the ghost of the MasterLord.