Mini-Reviews From Around The Bowl: 07/14/2016
Why this started to be equated with food I have no idea. Now I’m hungry and confused. This week on the menu: Xaon, Summit, Noire, Joy, Sarabante, The Wretched End, Logistic Slaughter, Morbid Saint and Whitney Houston’s Crypt.
Switzerland’s Xaon (I’m not sure how to pronounce it. Zown? Zayon? Christian?) cranks out a Gothenburg-style version of melodic death metal, complete with sweet guitar work, pounding chugs, aggressive barks, smooth cleans, and catchy synths. So their self-released album Face Of Balaam is an instant win, right? Ehhh, I’m not really sure. The five-song album certainly has it’s moments, but those moments do not lend to a complete picture. There are good ideas and solid sounds, but it doesn’t quite come together the way you expect. Soilwork vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid lends his voice for the song Discrowned, and while it’s the best song on the album, it also serves as a reminder that Face Of Balaam doesn’t quite reach the upper echelon of melo-death. Xaon are an up-and-coming band and worth keeping an eye (and ear) on. Face of Balaam may not be a masterpiece, but a template of things to come. RIYL: Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, Darkane –365.
A solo project from Gabriele Gramaglia of The Clearing Path, Summit is some kick ass Italian post/progressive sludge. The Winds that Forestall Thy Return is mainly an instrumental offering, but they do a great thing to break up the consistently great riffage, which is to bring in a guest vocalist on one track and use some spoken word tracking throughout, both of which I enjoy immensely. My only complaint about the album is that two of the songs (9 full minutes) are a little too much like filler to really be excited about. But, as much as it drones, as good post should do, there is plenty of variation and rhythm change within songs to keep you interested. Summit is a must listen for fans of Russian Circles and Intronaut. — Joaquin Stick.
Though Winnipeg’s Noire is certainly a metal band, it would be remiss of me to call The Tracks of the Hunted a metal album, at least in the traditional sense. The main focus here is on acoustic guitar and piano in haunting introspective pieces that evoke as much sorrow as their more ferrous counterparts. The album’s title track, the nearly nine-minute centerpiece, is the only one to feature any distorted guitars or shrieks. It’s a damn good one, too, sounding a lot like a black metal take on Opeth’s Still Life. It’s followed up by the appropriately titled “The Sound of the Void” and another acoustic song, and it’s all tied nicely together at the very end. The Tracks of the Hunted is somber and depressive without wallowing in self-pity, and it makes for a great listen if you’re in the mood for something quieter. — Spear.
Are you little disappointed that almost half of the new Nails album is being sucked up by an 8+ minute closing track? If that’s letting you down, give the new EP by Joy a spin and let it serve as your companion piece. Of Nothing is strong in the three B’s of heavy music – buzzsaw guitars, blast beats and breakdowns, the cornerstone of any nutritious musical consumption. Those attributes combined with a well recorded effort give you five tracks of grindy hardcore capable of motivating a Florida man high on bath salts to eat a family of four. This will most certainly make you wish you could dropkick a Westboro Baptist Church protester while being propelled from some bungee chord slingshot contraption. The reality is that’s not going to happen, but in the interim, you can jam this fine release and it will bring you great………..wait for it……….Joy! — Ron Deuce.
“FFO: Tragedy” is how Sarabante was brought to my attention in the Toilet ov Hell Facebook group by a long-time bro of the site. That short description is totally apt. This Greek crew deliver dark, crusty hardcore that jives with the ragged politically-radical sound of Memphis’ greatest punk rock export. “Mneme’s Amaurosis”, Poisonous Legacy‘s best track, is my new soundtrack to violent moshing, smashing the state, and subverting the system, maaan. Also, light yard work. — Joe Thrashnkill.
This is metal that is black but also kinda deathy and it has Samoth from Emperor and that drummer dude from Dark Funeral and it is very Norwegian with guest vocals from the one crazy Mayhem guy and that handsome bloke from Leprous. It will make you feel cold inside if that’s the sort of thing you’re into, with atmospheric and slightly raw production that lends a nice touch to this good slab of (not too) modern black metal. FFO: Forests, Mountains, Mountains with Forests, Corpsepaint-less Grimness. — Moshito.
This album is real weird but good if you like sloppy strange death that has off-the-wall sometimes slammy riffs and vocals that are funny in a piggy way with more of an angular feeling than my tenth grade algebra class. If you like strident death metal you’re in luck: Corrosive Ethics is full of strange-sounding structures, stringy bass and car-brake vocals broken up by a cool sense of melody and the occasional subdued clean interlude. But really, the reason this album keeps me coming back is that one vocal section in “Over Pestilent Soil“. You’ll know it when you hear it. — Moshito.
I’m slightly behind on this release give or take a quarter of a century. Morbid Saint had a brief reign in the metal capital of Sheboygan, Wisconsin from the mid 80s to the early 90s. I didn’t get to hear this record upon its release because I was a toddler. Fortunately, Century Media reissued this lost late-80s thrash classic earlier this year. Let’s keep it brief (this IS a mini-review, after all) If you like Slayer you’re gonna love the shit out of Spectrum of Death. This is fast, hook-laden metal with all the riffs and speed that a thrash junkie could possibly desire. Pull it up on Spotify and jam out. — Joe Thrashnkill.
(FFO: Australian No Wave, Electro Shock Therapy) — Richter.
Since I’m not as big a thrash poser as Joe, I’ve been jamming Spectrum of Death for some decades now (totally, I did the math). I also knew of the existence of their second album, which was recorded in 1992 but never saw the light of day (other than in advanced demo copy form) due to label troubles and the band eventually breaking up. Destruction System Sounds like Morbid Saint, albeit with clearer production, lower tuned guitars and more midpaced tempos. It’s Spectrum, but through a slight 90s filter, if that makes any sense. — Moshito.