Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 22/02/17
We’re back, with review nibblets for short attention spans. Jam on with some Six Feet Under, Benighted, Flesh of the Stars, Naddred, Cranial Engorgement, Soen, Don’t Drop the Sword, Steelballs, Ruetz and Gösta Berlings Saga.
By now you’ll have formed an opinion on SFU; you’ll undoubtedly also already know that Torment will do absolutely nothing to persuade you to change your opinion one way or another. Personally, I’m not a fan. At all. Quite the contrary. Torment features a capable line-up (Marco Pitruzzella on drums, and Jeff Hughell on strings, both formerly of Brain Drill), so although the songs plod, groove and hack as ever before, the duo’s playing occasionally hints at more technical ability than on any SFU record before. Likewise, it is to be said that there are only a couple of those embarrassing-ass moments that the band is nigh-synonymous with (to me), namely the stop-start riff on “Sacrificial Kill” and Chris Barnes‘ goat-shout intro to “Separation of Flesh from Bones”. Other than that, Barnes sounds compressed, like the band was trying to minimize the damage. Anyways, I can’t think of anything to say about this record, and I can’t think of a single reason you should bother with it. Unless you’re already a fan, in which case it might even make your favorite. —Karhu.
First off I want to address Benighted‘s latest’s title. It has to be a misprint, it is clearly NecroBREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and not Necrobreed. Faulty naming aside, this album RIPS. No genre-bending surprises here: Grind and core-y Death Metal with a good clear production is what’s in store here, and this time around it really does feel like the band is hitting it way out of the park and not just going through the motions. Breakneck drumming and dense, chord and tremolo-packed guitars serve to highlight the sharp blows that the hardcore-tinged vocals help deliver straight to your unsuspecting skull. Experience some of that pleasant unpleasantness here. —Moshito.
Flesh of the Stars play an interesting brand of psychedelic doom that is heavier in feeling and spirit than it is in brutality. Make no mistake, the riffs are there, but the dudes in Flesh of the Stars opt for a more dynamic and somewhat retro-minded approach. The riffs have a nice stoner fuzz to them, but they sometimes give way to clean guitar tones and synthesizers that create an atmosphere of melancholy in a way that is slightly atypical for a doom record. It’s a neat little album that feels like a whole experience, more like one 45-minute jam than anything else. Even though it contains an intro, outro, and a pretty lengthy jam-session with keyboard solos in the middle, the album doesn’t drag for me. It keeps the doomy atmosphere while allowing for a hefty dose of psychedelia. Anhilla is best enjoyed in a dark and smoky basement, walls laden with 70’s band posters. Plan accordingly. Yep! —Rusty.
Naddred are the latest group to join the ranks of the nascent Irish black/death metal scene which is quickly amassing international attention. Featuring members of the narcotic Slidhr, and the epic Eternal Helcaraxe, Naddred’s debut Sluagh is a consuming 20 minutes of exceptional quality black metal that draws influence from a healthy pool of adjacent sub-genres. The execution here is highly impressive for what is dubbed a “demo”. Naddred infuse atmosphere at every moment through winding guitar passages and a robust percussive presence; think of the labyrinthine approach of Malthusian but with a more black metal-centric focus. The production is another notably strong point, and allows you to hear all the nuances of the riffing without sacrificing the integrity of the dense shroud that looms over each track. Well worth your time and money. —Lacertilian.
Okay, so you should be able to accurately assess the contents of this here release with the previous information alone, but I’m here to help in case you can’t. As far as I can tell, Cranial Engorgement want only for you to be ignorant in the pit with other long-haired and smelly individuals, and to attain their purpose they bring groovy but speedy drumming paired with slammy yet fast riffs. The perfomance is not 100% perfect or synced up to a click track grid, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want it to be. Just crank it, be fruitful and multiply your moshing bruises. Listen to the full album here. —Moshito.
The album kicks off with an absolute riff fest in “Sectarian”, slows down for a few songs, kicks some ass again on “Opal”, has a few more high points over the next few songs, then ends on another downer in “Paragon”. Lykaia is a bit of an odd one because I prefer Soen when the tempo is up, and there’s probably a 50/50 split here with slow melodic stuff and awesome energetic Tool-esque metal [with good amounts of Opeth riffs that at times sound more like Opeth than Opeth. -M.O.]. It’s a more subtle album, one that will surely grow on me, but if you’re looking for loud and fast, you’re in the wrong place. Although I sound like I am down on the album, I actually think it is excellent, it’s just not what I was expecting after the singles they released. Regardless, it’s a must have for fans of Karnivool, Caligula’s Horse, etc. —Joaquin.
Into the Fire was actually the first new metal release I purchased this year on Bandcamp. Nothing really jumped out at me throughout January and a lot of my time was spent in a dungeon. Lo and behold! A German band by the name of Don’t Drop the Sword crossed my path. As you can imagine, their name is what caught my attention first and I honestly haven’t decided if I like it or not just yet (it is certainly growing on me, however). Upon first stabbing play I was attacked with an onslaught of traditional Metal riffs and lyrics of GLORY that reminded me of early Blind Guardian, particularly in the vocalist’s delivery (very much a young and melancholic Hansi Kürsch). So far, so good, me likey. In fact, as one could imagine, I purchased shortly after the intro track without a second thought. The eponymous follow-up track began and I was greeted with a Tolkien-inspired tale, complete with a passage recited in the Black Speech of Mordor. Yep, no regrets whatsoever, I had stumbled upon greatness! The EP continues on a path of righteousness in an epic display of grandeur that concludes with the song “Don’t Drop the Sword” and is a triumphant calling card for this budding band. I am certainly looking forward to what they has to offer next. (h/t to the Verminerd John Brooks). —Boss the Ross.
Yet another band that gained my attention via their name, Steelballs suckered me in with their glorious cover art and triumphant song titles at first glance (though admittedly, I had discovered them late). This Argentinian band had worked their way into my heart and I hadn’t even hit play! Lucky for me, they had the riffs, they had the speed and they had the power. After giving the tracklist one last mouth-watering glance, I hit play and was floored by an immediate drum roll, lightning speed riff and a rising falsetto scream. The next 15 minutes was so engrossing that I replayed it not once, not twice but 4 times during my first session. Their brand of speed metal riffs hit me just right and the tone sat so perfect in my ears that I couldn’t help myself. Couple their riffs with singer Juan Pablo’s almighty voice and Steelballs has released the perfect fist-pounding, anthemic metal EP to start off their career and I look forward to their output in 2017. They are most assuredly “Defenders of True Metal!” —Boss the Ross.
If blackened sludgy hardcore is not yet a thing then Ruetz possesses the ability to make it a thing. Their combination of those three things is outstanding in the way the music has the urgency and impact of hardcore, the grime and grittiness of sludge and the tremolos and blast beats that are synonymous with black metal. The icing on the cake is the use of hardcore shouting instead of the standard issue shrieks that usually accompany the artists who dabble in this style. That may deter some from even taking a stab at this, but if you leave your pre-conceived notions at the door you’ll be handsomely rewarded with something that is fresh, new, innovative and exciting. The drum work alone will keep you dizzy with the constantly shifting beats and fills that manage to hang around in the background with the purpose of keeping things moving. The guitars do their part as well with riffs that flow smoothly from one part to the next. All this coming from two gentleman supplying guitar, drums and vocals who make it sound like there are more people than that involved in the proceedings. —Ron Deuce.
This three piece from Sweden uses a wild array of instruments to make sweet instrumental love to your eardrums. It’s a great mixture of jazz, rock, and a little old school prog that keeps things light, off-kilter, and undeniably funky. It’s the furthest thing from noodly and is a lot closer to King Crimson than it is to today’s progressive metal. I have to admit, I was first attracted to this album by what I thought was an outdoor toilet with a tree growing in it on the cover, but the music did not disappoint once I got past the thumbnail. If you want some background jazz but don’t want to stray too far from metal, GBS has you covered. —Joaquin.
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.