Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 09/28/17
They’re smaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall. But they’re also informatiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive. Catch up on recent releases with the Mini-Reviews!! Featuring Terror Empire, The Wake, Dead Is Dead, Persona, Fleshkiller, Hands of Orlac, The Wandering Midget, Future Faces and Serotonin.
Death + Thrash = Deathrash? Thrashened Death? Deathened Thrash? Whatever you call the genre, I’m always down to jam some if it’s quality. Terror Empire weave blasts and heavier riffs into their open-string-and-power-chords thrash recipe to create an album that is heaps of well-produced, head-bobbing fun. Obscurity Rising sounds modern and clear, while managing to retain a ot of bite and punch (I especially love the creamy, audible bass tone). If I had to compare it to anything, Terror Empire are like a deathier version of Sepultura at their hardcore-est playing Pantera at their grooviest. Yes, I’m committing to that. Look, I’m not good at comparisons because comparisons are like oranges, but if that combination sounds appealing to you, do yourself a favor and check Obscurity Rising out. – Moshito.
Expect a tightly-woven tapestry of the following:
Melody: Right from the intro, The Wake make it apparent that they’re prone to end up on the melodic, slightly melancholy side of the black metal spectrum. This continues on into the first real track, but a one-trick pony these guys are not.
Blasting: Cornerstones of the genre are not neglected here; holy crap, do they blast. The drumming reminds me of Apostasy/Evangelion era Behemoth. Pretty awesome.
Shredding: “Lost Paintings” highlights a no-nonsense approach with some straight-forward, super catchy riff action and d-beat drumming. By this point they’ve already shown mid-pace and hyperspeed modes; this is another most welcome ingredient.
Wailing: Rather frequently, the lead guitar will rear its head and deliver glorious, squealing cries fit to make you weep. Occasional solos are icing on the cake.
Anyone into modern black metal who doesn’t need it to get all avant-garde should give this a go. – Hans.
In case you missed the premiere a few weeks ago, here is your second and final reminder to check out Dead Is Dead. Drenched in that sludgy atmosphere, but with great melody punching through, these post-metal newbies are getting it right. Similar to North, who released one of my favorite albums of 2016, they know when to throw those knockout punches after a little buildup. One differentiator here is their influence by both old-school doom and just of a puff of stoner fuzz. The vocals are exactly what you are expecting from the genre (think Isis/Neurosis), which is more of a positive than negative thing since most derivations go awry. The grooves are good here, and that’s all that matters. – Joaquin.
If you were worried you could never think of a band from Tunisia that isn’t called Myrath, fret not: Persona are here! If I had to give you a frame of reference for their sound, picture a more straightforward Corsetcore, keyboard and synth-laden The Agonist. Vocalist Jelena Dobrić‘s screams, and especially her cleans, remind me very much of Vicky Psarakis‘. The guitars sway between more traditional staccato metal riffing and more modern heavy grooves, the keys add not overpowering melodies and texture while the drums and bass provide a solid (albeit not terribly varied) backbone for the entire deal to take place. Metamorphosis is a very solid modern Symphonic Metal record, one that’s well executed (moreso when you consider it’s an independent release) but probably won’t change your mind about the genre as a whole. – Moshito.
Okay fine, I guess I do have an immeasurable mancrush on Ole Børud (I mean, how could you not?). The Extol mastermind graces us with new music this year in the form of Fleshkiller, a project I’d heard about last year but had totally forgotten about until last week, when an ad for Awaken misteriously popped up while I was
browsing memes working. I’m gonna level with you here: this album is so good I smile when I think of its riffs. The glorious combo of jagged stop-start, melodic and technical guitar work that I’ve come to adore Extol for is all here (including the uniquely eargasmic guitar tone and signature clean vocals), if in a very slightly more riff-centric and less song-y fashion. Elisha Mullins (ex-A Hill to Die Upon), Ole Vistnes ([Good] Shining) and Andreas Skorpe Sjøen round out the album’s lineup and add to the experience of a spremely well-crafted and enjoyable record. – Moshito.
Featured once before on a very young Toilet, Hands of Orlac should tickle the fancy of any old-school doom fan and child of the 70s. Foreboding toms start off “Curse of the Skull”, followed by a low-key riff and a flute playing a lead that sounds decidedly like Black Sabbath (except, you know, played on a flute). The verse then locks in on a janky, sort of angular groove that defies head-nodding but nonetheless unfolds a hypnotic effect – especially when the chilling, dark, female vocals set in. While the song does proceed through more flowing, laid-back parts, it keeps returning to rhythms that jolt and unsettle, keeping you on your toes instead of letting you sink into a daze, and creating a beautifully sinister atmosphere. The identifying feature of “From Beyond the Stars” is the mesmerizing, catchy chanting appearing throughout the song, which will quickly worm its way into your head to nest there. While more friendly to your frail psyche in the groove department, the track is no less interesting, moving smoothly through several serpentine bends. Highest marks for songwriting and atmosphere here.
And thus we move on to The Wandering Midget. Crackling fire and an ominous narrator set the stage before we’re off to a plodding intro riff. With the more modern sound and the vocal style (which you’ll hear after about five minutes – these guys take their time), I could see this appealing to fans of Crypt Sermon and bands of a similar ilk. Now, an 18-minute song might seem enticingly epic to you, but I really don’t think it needed to be this long. While the individual parts make up a coherent whole, they all seem to go on forever without doing anything much of interest that would warrant their length. Hardly a catchy riff, no interesting drums, nothing that really sticks to memory. This may have fared better on its own, but after the amazing package that Hands of Orlac just delivered, it just seems way too tedious to me. – Hans.
Future Faces‘s debut EP Revolt is another step on the stairway to Goth Revival Heaven™. (Also, another goth album released by a metal label.) I bought it during a drunken bandcamp spree. Subsequent sober listens yielded slight disappointment. It sounded too simple and repetitive; too content to rest on the laurels laid out by the goth greats of yore. Mopy baritone vocals: Check. Sparse, keening guitar leads: Check. Minimally programmed drums: Check. I shelved the album for a few months, then came back to it on an uncharacteristically dreary desert day. What I discovered then was the power of the slow burn. Revolt is a subtle and patient collection–one that must be consumed during a specific mood (near total despondence) in order for its charms to become apparent. It does not grip you immediately; rather, it stealthily worms its way into the rotten underside of your subconscious while you are thinking of other things. It erodes your resistance like the merciless breath of time. If you’re a fan of Soft Kill, Blessure Grave or Black Mare, you just might want Future Faces to do bad things to you. – Richter.
This is a wonderfully chaotic, weird style of black metal. Dry, crunchy guitar sound, a schizophrenic array of vocal styles, and minimal use of synths make for an enticing concoction. The second (and longest) song is perhaps the strangest of the bunch: a fast, crusty beat is played over a slow, mourning synth line and a repetitive riff. From out of nowhere, a burst of blasting and shrieking suddenly erupts, disappears as quickly as it came, and things go on as if nothing happened, eventually leading to a chorus displaying manically wailing clean vocals. Songs one and three start off sounding pretty innocuous, but both end up bringing in unsettling, off-kilter elements in the riffing and vocal departments. A captivating listen; my only gripe are the programmed drums, which can get a little grating at times. – Hans.
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.
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