Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 10/12/2016
No matter how long I’m away, the small things come back to haunt me. We briefly dissect Writing in the Skies, Adaestuo, СтатуС, Watchtower, Epica, Thy Catafalque, Fractal Cypher and The Fading.
Looking to bulk up your library with some more instrumental progressive music? I know that’s a hard no for many of you, but here me out. These guys from Holyoke, MA put together a pretty solid album that’s worth a listen or two. A few of my favorite moments: “Shimmer” uses a squeaky guitar tone that overlays an acoustic riff that reminds me of newer Steven Wilson material, which is always good at evoking an emotional response. “Floodgates” has a super weird last minute with a short and silly interlude that leads into a crushing finale. They use just enough changes in rhythm, intensity, and mood throughout the album to keep me interested, but still have a recognizable sound. All in all, next time I go to a show in the Boston area, I hope I catch these guys as the local opener on the bill. — Joaquin Stick.
World Terror Committee are one of the few labels that I can confidently entrust with my scant time; regardless of whether I’m familiar with the band they’re promoting or not, it’s always worth a cursory listen. So of course when I saw the debut EP from the previously unheard of trio Adaestuo arrive and beckon me with but a single crooked phalange, I complied immediately. What emerged from the other side of the
play button portal was a nightmarish 2o minutes of haunting black metal. These four tracks find Adaestuo evoking the ghastly atmosphere of bands such as Akhlys and Emperor, combining it with the spectral riffing of Nightbringer, and stirring the charred cauldron with vigour until a swirling central vortex forms, into which vocalist Hekte Zaren howls her arcane incantations, conjuring a unique and otherwordly dreamscape. If you’ve been sleeping too well lately (fuck you) Tacent Semitae is just the tempestuous succubus you need to fuck that right up. (Check out the third track “Destroyer of Constellations“) — Lacertilian.
СтатуС – Damned
Independent (Depression Illusions Records) | October 13th, 2016
You want riffs? These Russian nuts bring the riffs! Damned, originally released as a limited cassette in 2012, just received the Bandcamp reissue treatment, much to the delight of old-school freaks everywhere. СтатуС (Russian for Status) plays deliciously necro metal, yet their initially regressive sound is just a facade for some devilish intrigue lurking beneath the surface. Nominally death metal, СтатуС aren’t afraid to inject trace elements of second-wave black metal and European thrash into the formula, showing off a greater taste for chaos and violence more in the vein of chaotic classics like Kreator and Sodom than bands of the Floridian school. The rhythm section hits with a decidedly early nineties warmth and stomp, but the real stars here are the ghastly, even discordant vocals that sneer above the barbarous, slightly melodic riffs. If you like divebombs and big booming chords with a garnish of bile, you need to revisit this forgotten classic. — W.
I had no clue there was new Watchtower in the works. NONE. This is the first release containing new material since 1989’s Control and Resistance and this nerd, for one, was greatly excited. You may know guitarist Ron Jarzombek because he’s RON JARZOMBEK, and the remaining members of the classic Watchtower lineup are no slouches either if. It’s all here yet again: progressive-tinged thrash that stands out from the competition as soon as you hear the unique guitar tone and passionately delivered vocals. These five new tracks left me wanting more, get Concepts of Math: Book One here. — Moshito.
Epica return after releasing one of my favorite albums of 2014, The Quantum Enigma, and are back with a follow up that is sure to please anyone who enjoyed the original. The Holographic Principle is, yet again, full of bombastic orchestration mixed with mostly modern metal riffing; I found myself particularly enjoying the Symphonic Nu (TM) stylings of “A Phantasmic Parade”. You read that correctly. If choirs and strings intertwined with downtuned distortion is something that sounds appealing to you, get on this, because the album is deftly written and sounds amazing. Grab it here. — Moshito.
My quest into the avant-garde has led me to a band I’d never heard of in my life, one-man folk-inspired and all-around weird project Thy Catafalque. Drawing from a lot of different genres is something hard to pull off, but this man does it in a way that’s really overwhelming. The mix is brimming with induced distortion and saturation which lends the album’s louder moments with an air of uncomfortableness I’m pretty fond of. Both male and female vocals soar and growl above the guitars and occasional strings, that contrast well with more subdued acoustic passages that transport one to meadows and streams with the surrounding samples. Check it out here. — Moshito.
I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that anything that could aptly be described as both “djent” and “power-prog” would be abomination of the eyes of God, man, Satan, Gaia, or anyone with ears, but hear me out on this one. The Human Paradox opens up with an intense battle between synth and guitar that goes beyond simple theatrics and carries into the riffs themselves. You’ll hear plenty of them, too, playing with driving melodies and complex rhythms in equal measure. The vocals have a lot more grit than you might expect, taking the greatest influence from the “power” portion of their multifaceted genre description and even throwing some solid harsh screams in there. Fractal Cypher have a lot to offer, and even with a couple cheesy ballads, it’s an offer that’s hard to refuse. — Spear.
Israeli thrashy melodeath? Yes please. There’s a lot of stock and standard stuff here from a few genres mashed together, fast riffs, melodeath catchiness, aggressively barked vocals, and it all works well. The production is solid; everything is clear and nothing is distracting. My only complaint, besides the super generic band name and bad album title, is the fact that they only use clean vocals in one song, and even then, only in the chorus. In fact, I started writing this mini-review after the second song because I was hoping to talk about how much I liked the clean backing vocals, but then they never showed up again. All in all, it’s still a solid album, but if you want to hear one kickass song, check out “A Moment of Insight”. — Joaquin Stick.