Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 07/28/2016
Once again for your grazing pleasure, it’s your weekly dose of mini reviews. Sink your fangs into Wired Anxiety, Feign, Infant Annihilator, End the Sun, Nifrost, Despised Icon, Anal Blasphemy, Celestial Grave, Solstice and iamthemorning.
When I think of death metal from India I think of… nothing, really. So here’s an EP by Bombay’s Wired Anxiety, and although they describe themselves as Brutal Death Metal, the closest I can think of for comparison is a heavier Lamb of God with much better vocals and less squeaky-clean production. A few riffs here are more slam-like in nature, their groove sometimes evoking Decapitated, and the slapped bass bits make for cool standout moments. I think in general the four songs could use a little more variety, but they make for an entertaining enough listen if you’re into mid-paced death metal with chunky riffs. — Moshito.
Rarely do you see an album so deserving of its cover art. Feign plays very spacey black metal tinged with the occasional burst of melodic death metal. My first thought upon hearing “Into the Celestial Nothingness” was, “Hey, this sounds kind of like Vemod!” For a large portion of the album, it does; though the styles aren’t quite the same (Feign likes to wander around the higher end of the guitar a little more), they evoke the same type of imagery, conjuring forth the sounds of a brilliant night sky. The peaceful solitude is occasionally interrupted by one of the aforementioned melodeath sections, but I wouldn’t say it hampers the experience so much as it just mixes it up. Jam this and contemplate the heavens. — Spear.
This is one of the most-over-the top albums I have ever heard. It’s so-over-the top that it feels like a parody of itself. I shouldn’t like this album. The drums are triggered to hell and back, there are sweeps right and left, breakdowns galore and the subject matter is beyond ridiculous. There’s even a few djenty tones in a few songs. 4 OF THESE THINGS ARE THINGS I HATE WITH A PASSION. So why then do I find myself sitting here with a physical copy in my hand? Please help. All that aside, the vocals on this album are arguably the craziest I’ve ever heard. Take Travis Ryan‘s vocals and amp them up to the 10th power and you get Dickie Allen‘s vocals on this album [BLASPHEMY -M.O.]. I will say that this is some of the best song structure I’ve seen in a deathcore album. There’s even a 17 minute song that somehow works within the context of the album, even though it should really just be divided into 4 separate songs. Most of you will hate this because it’s deathcore, and I don’t blame you. Hell, I don’t even know why I like it. Is this what they mean by guilty pleasure? Lastly, I’d like to point out that “Behold the Kingdom of the Wretched Undying” is a really cool song title. — Bauer.
End the Sun – Rhythm of Defeat
Independent | July 26th, 2016
Let’s get something out of the way, here. Yes, this band has a “Verb-the-Noun” name. Yes, Rhythm of Defeat sounds like it could be a Hatebreed album title. Surprisingly, though, this one-man-band is neither of those things. Rather than boring you to death with chuggitty chugs as you might expect, End the Sun instead walk you through four tracks of varying degrees of experimentation, with genre boundaries blurring and flowing in a spice-fueled delirium that somehow simultaneously evokes solar system-crushing doom, Barr-esque Cascadian riffs, mental astronaut solos akin to Fredrik Thordendal at his weirdest, and painfully stirring instrumental passages that would not be out of place on an Opeth record. It’s nearly impossible to capture the many faces of EtS in one mini-review, so I implore you to press play and explore the black/death/doom/prog weirdness of Rhythm of Defeat when you have a decent chunk of time for focused listening. — W.
Naturmacht has quite a knack for picking up awesome Gaia-oriented bands, and Nifrost are no exception. Motvind is very much the quintessential pagan black metal album; it’s unlikely to hold any surprises, but it’s going to have everything you’re looking for. This album has riffs upon riffs and plenty of roaring about larches and bears and stuff (I assume- I don’t speak Norwegian), broken up by the occasional clean bit (both vocally and, er, guitarally). It superficially resembles Bathory at times and Wolfchant at others, but it sounds surprisingly modern for a past-facing band. The production is clear and crisp, and the performance is very precise. Fortunately, it’s all the better to hear those sweet, sweet layers of tremolo harmonies. Sometimes all you want to do is bang your head, quaff some mead, and burn a small effigy in the name of the Norse god of your choice, and Motvind provides the perfect soundtrack for all of the above. — Spear.
C’est ne pas un power metal. French Canada’s masters of flat-brims are back after a prolonged absence from the scene, and they return with what could be their most hardcore-leaning release to date. Beast is filled with blast-beats, breakdowns, gangshouts and the band’s signature two-vocalist attack. As always, drummer Alex Grind is the standout performer for most of the album, blasting at a staggering 280 BPM on “Grind Forever” and generally laying waste at similar tempos throughout the album. If you were a fan of the band before they called it quits this is sure to appease you; if you are not a fan of heavily-triggered drums and getting ignorant, look elsewhere. Check out singles “The Aftermath“, “Beast” and “Bad Vibes“. — Moshito.
Anal Blasphemy has been around a while and I like their brand of raw, filthy, unhinged and simple black metal enough to check everything they spew out. Western Decadence’s titular track opens with a Darth Vader-sample leading into far lass noise and distortion than I had expected. Organs and faint melodies at the background round out a fast and filthy anthem that sounds just like the band, but not like they’ve done before – the rocking frolic is rather reminiscent of Barathrum. From thereforth things are simple. “I Am the Claw of Vengeance” is a fast, tremolo-lead song with awkward spoken word sections, “…And God Punished Them” is as much an interlude as an industrial metal song, and “Believe in the Devil” breaks out the clean vocals, and I keep hearing “His king Tom Waits” on that chorus. A sign? I think it’s a sign. The only real complaint I can think of are the last two song, both basically stretched outros. — Karhu.
Burial Ground Trance seriously took me by surprise. When you have pretty much heard every riff and guitar tone under the sun, black metal can feel a bit stagnant, but worry not my brethren, I have found a remedy. This German black/thrashy duo does the tried and true trve buzzsaw, low-fi approach, but this ain’t your average basement dwelling group. With undeniable melody and a mix of atmospheric shouts along with standard screams creating a remarkable listening experience, Celestial Grave create an impressive first taste of what is to come, despite being only three songs long. A haunting and unforgettable debut is soon to follow hopefully. This just became my demo of the year. FFO: Mgla, Malum, Bog of the Infidel — Brock Samson.
In preparation for their upcoming full length, UK epic doom metallers Solstice have released their latest demo, To Sol a Thane. Do not let the medium fool you however; this is far more than a mere demo. To Sol A Thane spans just over twenty-three minutes and is a masterpiece of epic doom. On it, Solstice performs as battle-tested veterans proving they still have the vigor for war and metal. The title track opens the demo with a majestic execution of riffs and harmonies. “White Horse Hill” sits as the median, featuring an astounding chorus with pummeling drums that mark my favorite track. Finally, rounding out this demo is “For All Days, and For None” a somber ballad of clean guitar, the sound of waves on a beach and Paul Kearns‘ chill inducing, baritone vocal performance. I await with anticipation for the full length LP, but in the meantime To Sol a Thane is reserving its spot in my top 10 of 2016 list. (FFO Slough Feg, Candlemass, Manowar) — Boss the Ross.
We haven’t talked about chamber pop in a while, so now seems like a good time to introduce this amazing progressive Russian duo. I was grabbed instantly by the impressive way vocalist Marjana slips between notes in the most beautiful and uncanny way. This alone would keep me coming back, but the instrumentation on this album is unmatched in complexity. Gleb’s piano work is subtle and lays the perfect atmosphere, and (to my nerdy surprise) the album features guest musicians Gavin Harrison and Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree and Mariusz Duda of Riverside. A never ending list of additional musicians and instruments adorns their bandcamp page, showing just how meticulous this album is. Though often light and ethereal sounding, this album is heavy in theme and gorgeously somber. This flawless piece of art will be in my top ten this year. — Joaquin Stick.