Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (4/2/20)

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Like normal reviews, but with fewer calories.


Morbid WindsThe Ruin of Forgotten Desolation
Morbid Chapel Records | February 25, 2020

For the most part, the music is about as primitive as the cover art: lo-fi black metal patiently hammers away while one-note synths provide some background ambiance. Still, Morbid Winds manage to do enough things just right. First of all, said synths are of the eerie variety, which I’m an absolute sucker for. The other thing that won me over is the vocal style, which sits somewhere between Abbath and the robotic croak of Inquisition. It’s a distinct, somewhat inhuman style that I don’t hear very often. Lastly, the band hit a stride in the latter half of the EP, with “Into Eternity” and “Tomb Of My Sanity” providing catchy and headbangable parts, respectively, and varying the synth sound a bit. A very enjoyable little release that doesn’t overstay its welcome. – Hans


KorgonthurusKuolleestasyntynyt
Woodcut Records | March 13, 2020

Though it’s probably just a sign of my ignorance, I found it intriguing to hear a Finnish black metal record that strays somewhat from the grim and frostbitten traditional style. While the sound still effectively envelops you in coldness and blast beats and tremolos do rear their heads here and there, the majority of the record is dominated by mid-tempo grooves. It never gets to the point where the “black ‘n’ roll” tag would seem appropriate, but you’ll find yourself bobbing your head much more often than groping invisible fruit. Further straying from the typical moods and tropes, a number of songs also bring a distinct melancholy to the table, which finds its climax in slow burner “Yön Iapsi” and the wistful outro of the closer. I’d hesitate to call this a “modern” approach, but it does feel nicely fresh. – Hans


AfterbirthFour-Dimensional Flesh
Unique Leader | March 13, 2020

Hooooo boy. This album kinda deserves a full-scale review, but since I can’t do it justice either way, I’ll keep my stammering to a minimum. Just two quick questions: do you like sci-fi, and do you like the vocal style of Will Smith from Artificial Brain? If so, this thing is a no-brainer for you. It is not required to like brutal death metal, for while that’s where the album is nominally rooted, it transcends the genre so hard that it loops back around about three times before ending up in entirely uncharted regions of space. It’s a fantastically mind-boggling, meticulously crafted grab bag of extreme metal genres that keeps surprising you with just about every turn it takes. I mean, even the instrumental interludes fucking rule. In the short time it’s been out, it has already cemented its place on my year-end list. Please listen to this. – Hans


Myth of I Myth of I
Artisan Era | April 10th, 2020

Buncha Berklee nerds getting together to make prog? Where have I heard that before? Fair warning, Myth of I relies a little on the kind of djent you thought was dead and gone, but what they do with it is far more interesting than what was coming out in the djent boom. There are plenty of look-what-I-can-do moments, but they are all nestled in actually good songwriting. The tracks are all very fluid, always looking forward while forgetting the past. It’s a solid collection of ridiculous rhythms, groovy melodies, etc. FFO: Chronologist, Animals as Leaders. — Joaquin


Demonic Death JudgeThe Trail
Suicide Records | March 27th, 2020

Demonic Death Judge managed the impossible. After parting with the founding, songwriting Brothers Hakuli, they put out Seaweed. Following on their tried and true, eh, trail, it’s mix of sludge, doom, stoner and psychedelic rock was hardly a novel idea, but doubling down on everything they’d had going on for them, sinking further into the deep, soggy depths of the riff, its one of the finer riff-fest of the last few years. Nevertheless, it seemed to miss that one final push, which I then expected The Trail would eventually lead upon them. Instead, it’s led the band up a mountainside, and away from where I had hoped they’d further delve. Not quite as heavy as it’s predecessor by sound, The Trail subsides the sludge and the doom to a degree, in favouring the psychedelic side of things. A more notional effort, Demonic Death Judge now paces their forays unto the riff with lengthier jam-sections and acoustic instruments, even touching on roots music. But in missing the nuclear missiles which “Skygods”, “Taxbear”,  “Heavy Chase” and their ilk were, The Trail feels a bit more like a sidestep, than one forward. –KARHU


Ville HerralaPu:
We Jazz | Feb 21st 2020

Even in jazz, solo albums from bassists are an all too rare occurrence. And Ville Herrala’s, whom to me is best known from his work on ethnojazz/prog/world music legend Piirpauke’s Sillat and Laulu Laineilla albums, and his collaborations with Jukka Eskola, Pu: isn’t really one either. Not in the traditional sense, which is to say that no other way to describe it, would ever do as right by it, as a solo bass album would. As in, you’ll only be hearing the sweet sounds of Herrala’s double bass, and nothing else whatsoever. Pu: lacks in melodies and harmonies, and isn’t concerned with the blocks of sound, or discord, that music intentionally avoiding them usually deals in. Instead, it offers 14 sketches, in thirty minutes, exploring how the instruments can be played, what can be played with it, and especially how it can be made to sound. As far as solo albums’ concepts go, you’d hit closer with Adrian Belew than Tony MacAlpine. Herrala often lambastes his instrument in ways that make it moan rather unlike a double bass usually does, recognizably even. Hopefully we’ll be hearing these techniques put to good use on some of Herrala’s more conventional work to come, as though for an album as adventurous as this, Pu: is comely for a spin or two, but I doubt it will remain a regular on my table. –KARHU


Symbolik Emergence
The Artisan Era | April 10th, 2020

Symbolik is an extremely Tech Death band, an embodiment of the primary tenets of the genre. It’s basically everything you would expect from melodic technical death metal: an intricate dance of dueling guitars, a touch of synth, piercing high shrieks and barking growls, and blastbeats and double bass all over the place. Emergence sits somewhere between the melancholy of Inferi and the whimsy of Flub, matching the instrumental prowess of both with some clever songwriting twists in its melodies and rhythms that make their hooks stick a little more. Little new ground is broken, but it’s a good comfort food album, perfect for when you want some technical music without breaching into avant-garde territory. – Spear


Ethir AnduinPathway to Eternity. The Agony
Grimm Distribution | March 16th, 2020

It’s entirely unfair to give an album of this enormity such a small review, but perhaps the album’s length will offset it somehow. Ethir Anduin defies classification as a band; their music is a potent, progressive concoction of doom, post-metal, and slick modern death metal, cohesive and focused in presentation spite of its eclectic sound. They convey this with a mixture of tasteful, airy leads and monstrous low-tuned riffs, raging and rampaging one moment and slowing to a menacing crawl the next. The vocals are equally varied, bringing just about every style imaginable to the table. As one might expect, the songs are pretty long; their ideas range as wide as their influences, but they never feel like they’re meandering. Its length might be its only true shortcoming (though I know some won’t be a fan of the clean vocals), clocking in at a daunting 81 minutes- it’s not easy to pick up and jump right in. That said, there are so many awesome moments throughout its run that I can’t help but give it a glowing recommendation, and patient listeners will enjoy the incredible journey the band takes you on. – Spear

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