Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 10/25/2018
Do you remember the 25th night of October? Well if you- wait, damn. I got nothing, just jam these bands because they’re good: Eternal Khan, Bear the Mammoth, Tomb of Finland, Avenged Sevenfold (?!?), Nigajyo, Grind Zero and Coatl.
8 years of consistent recorded and live slaughter have allowed Rhode Island trio Eternal Khan to evolve into a massive beast of riffery. Isolate, Dishearten, and Kill is a too brief three track, near 20 minute offering of their rampaging blackened doom, which continues the trend they started on previous effort Lost in the Night of Ages of having both the production and the songwriting breathe to better survey the wreckage they have caused. Middle track “Rune and Cross” in particular is one of the best songs they’ve written; trudging along in a mid paced tremolo filled march with a blast filled chorus guided by N. Wood‘s familiar commander’s bark before slowing a few paces, complete with harmonizing eerie enough to stop an entire concert hall dead in its tracks, closing out the song in a grimly majestic fashion. Also of note are how the lyrics are more drawn to the wars, both real and imagined, of our too hopeless reality. While this has always been the case, opener “Savage Tongues” seemingly draws upon an all too familiar recent conflict within our borders especially, with the closing verse of “The mob is enthralled. Torches burn bright. Gestures of war, but no will to fight. Time to silence children tonight.“ringing loud and clear. Simon says buy this EP and prepare to be consumed by the wrath. – Simon Phoenix
Guys, I am so dang tired of instrumental prog promos. “Ooh, a proggy version of x genre, you say? How innovative!” says the guy who has never listened to music before. It’s all been done, and I rarely see bands progressing in this particular instrumental realm anymore. That being said, Bear the Mammoth kinda rules. They remind me of a lot of other-bear-band, Minus the Bear crossed with This Will Destroy You back when they consistently created memorable jams (an album cover with a bear on it comes to mind, I smell a conspiracy theory). Years Under Glass is really mood driven, the song flow is predictable but never dull, and the production is incredible. For those of us who need a large catalog of instrumental music for working, this is a must-add album. – Joaquin
Tomb of Finland’s debut, released a few years back, presented a band brewing a familiar broth of melodic, doom and black inspired death metal, but not one without a flavour of it’s own. Coming relatively from out of nowhere and delivering a short and sweet record didn’t hinder the impression, and Below the Green still appears on my plate with regularity. Needless to say, Frozen Beneath was being looked forward to, and this time the name of the game is amalgamation. Every influence, every sound has been incorporated together. The doom on this record is as much in the muggy, oppressive atmosphere as it is in the near-constant mid-tempo, and the black lies in the chord choices and few menacing tremolo riffs. The album unfold’s promisingly as “Dead Again’s” familiar intro suggests the band has already found it’s own parlance, before withdrawing in favour of a riff dipped in melodic frenzy that itself seems to forfeit it’s blackened frenzy without actually changing, as the background groove mutilates it’s context. It both, masquerades the band’s songwriting ability as well as presents their characteristic sound in all of it’s splendor, even though the use of acoustic guitar underlines the need of a more dynamic mix. The opener doesn’t go unmatched for the album’s length, especially the weighty “Left to Die“, the closing instrumental “Into the Abyss” underscoring the simple, melodic impact of the band, and the vibrant “Mourning Chant” hit close to home. Which brings us to the album’s central issue – vibrancy. “Mourning Chant” is topped of with a particularly impassioned performance from vocalist Olli Suvanto, highlighting the fact, that for the most part he is very monotone. On the debut he was backed by Ville Lind‘s higher rasp befitting especially the blackened aggression, and elsewhere – Kaunis Kuolematon – he’s countered with an abundance of clean vocals. On Frozen Beneath it’s just him, and while his monotone delivery doesn’t get grating, it shows the heart of the problem. Frozen Beneath is a monotone album guided by a singular vision, manifesting in everything, from song lengths – only one goes well beyond 5 minutes, and only one doesn’t reach for it – to lack of diversity in between songs – practically every track attempts to be everything the band does, doomy passages, weighty chugs, menacing melodies and blackened outbursts. Frozen Beneath needs to allow each song’s individual personality to shine through and put weight on the differences between them, not amassing everything together. A more varied vocal performance and a dynamic, separating mix would do no harm either. Now Frozen Beneath is a good album, but not the next step in evolution I had hoped for. – Karhu
Avenged Sevenfold – Black Reign
Warner Bros. | September 7th, 2018
Avenged Sevenfold has been recording songs for the Call of Duty game series for some time now, and since 2018 would otherwise been left without a release, they’ve been compiled for an EP. I’ve never been a fan of the game series, nor the band – but have to admit that A7X did have a knack for writing imaginative songs and musical parades wresting any which way but loose. Emphasis on “did”, as sadly, after the untimely passing of The Rev, A7X’s capabilities have seemed to degrade. From Hail to the King’s much maligned basically covers, to The Stage’s perfect exercise in lack of self-criticism consisting more of separate ideas than finished song, which made me wonder if anyone in the band could actually still write one. But being responsible for the livelihood of not only themselves, but their crew as well, the regularity of new releases is a must, which brings us to Black Reign. “Not Ready to Die” is a seven-minute mid tempo plodder that meanders pointlessly throughout its length, “Carry On”, a more brisk cut that features plentiful shred and a power metal-ish chorus, a highlight of Sevenfold’s post-Rev era (a depressing thought in comparison to cuts like “Afterlife” or even “Nightmare”) finally “Jade Helm” isn’t even a song, but a literal compilation of riffs that I’m guessing can be heard somewhere in the game(s). The “bait” of this EP, the new song “Mad Hatter” – that’s already been remixed due to fan complaints – is a five-minute bore-all, with a pile-driving riff and vocal performance both reaching for the sleaziest, Soundgarden throwaway with a loose mid-section and glued-on horns. It’s so easy to gang on A7X these days that any and each criticism will surely bounce off both the band and the fans; Black Reign does do what an album is usually required to – evoke emotions. As such, at least some of the criticism is bound to have a point, which is more than can be said for A7X. – Karhu [I’m really as shocked as you are -M.H.]
Kinda looks like slimy, down-tuned death metal that just crawled from a sewer, doesn’t it? Well, to my surprise, Nigajyo go about their deathly business in a much more melodic and classic-metal-infused manner than the cover would make you think. This combo brings to mind Italy’s Barbarian, but the sound is a good deal chunkier here, and the lengthy compositions do a better job of holding my interest, as plenty of blazing guitarwork and many little, unexpected moments always seem to keep things moving. Together with the aforementioned list towards heavy metal, the length also lends everything a sense of epicness. With songs seamlessly moving from Viking to black to death metal, I daresay fans of all three should find something to like here, as long as they’re not averse to melody. Perhaps even power metal fans who can stomach gruff vocals would dig this, but who can tell with those weirdos. Thanks to Rolderathis for the rec! – Hans
They got the big ol’ HM-2 / They got blasting out the wazoo / They got a bit of doom, too / If you like Swedeath, they’re for you // They sound a good deal cleaner / They sound a fair bit meaner / After “Sodomizing the Sun” / they must have a burnt wiener.
Okay, I give up now. Just trust me when I say this album works a lot better than that fucking poem does. The production really is squeaky clean, which is a point of contention with me, but there’s no denying that it gives it all the more pummeling force. And for all the straightforwardness, they don’t neglect the finer points; guitar leads and harmonies abound amidst the merciless beating these guys can dish out at almost any tempo. – Hans
It just shreds and shreds and shreds. Black metal, punk, thrash, d-beat, and grindcore are the tags, and while the last two would technically be enough to do the music plenty of justice, the others don’t really feel superfluous. As with acts like Saccage or perhaps even early Dephosphorus, strictly sticking to any one genre takes a bit of a backseat to traversing the biggest distance in the shortest amount of time, and to this end, all means are welcome. And so, from the moment all hell breaks loose with the blast beat in the intro, these Mexicans merrily rip and tear their way through four songs filled with crust and thrash riffs, somewhat blackened vocals, and frantic drumming, not slowing down for anyone and coat(l)ing everything in beautifully ruddy production. Before you know it, it’s over, but there’s at least a mild concussion and some bruised ribs in it for you. – 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.
Don’t do it for me. Do it for the ghost of the MasterLord.