REVIEW: Ecferus - The Tourniquet Hemisphere EP

ECFERUS
THE TOURNIQUET HEMISPHERE
BLACK HORIZONS

Atmospheric, progressive, and experimental breeds of extreme metal have long been favorites of mine; at a time, they were my bread and butter. I do love the slow climb, the inevitable climax (if the album is good enough to provide one), and I'm sure that anyone reading this has a soft spot for those particular sub-genres as well. Though, sometimes it's nice to have things a little more straight forward; a little more, well, actually extreme.

Ecferus, once again, provides that.
I'm no stranger to this project, it's fist to the face approach to subjects such as creationism, and poetically constructed theories on the nature of space, time, and existence (or perhaps I'm reading too much into things). The first album had me surprised, as during the time it was the only black-metal project I'd heard that wasn't being overly produced, or full of synth and outer-space travel themes - yes, that was a thing. But, hearing 'The Tourniquet Hemisphere' between the endless to-and-fro of promotional material, I find that the project really hasn't lost it's charm.

Though only three tracks, as most EPs are, 'The Tourniquet Hemisphere' is an absolute beast; a stand-out release. Somehow, Volcatalysmic, Prolaterian Chains, and The Matter of Illusory Grey seem to run a complete gamut of influences - taking the best of black-gaze, symphonic-black, traditional black metal, and mixing it together. You won't find dissonance nor breakdowns here, nor with you find yourself able to breathe between the extremely anxious, urgent, and somewhat claustrophobic song writing. There is absolutely no silence on this EP, even the quietest moments are laden with haunting electronics, shrill screams, or both.

Short, yes, but worth it. If you have the time, and the love for extreme, spend it on 'The Torniquet Hemisphere.'

Direnotes is not dead

Hi, this is Keith and I'm writing this message on an impossibly small screen, with large fingers, and thus I will keep things short and sweet. Direnotes is not dead, not in the slightest, but things have happened which have kept me away from a computer screen, not to mention Christmas this year has been hectic. The site will be back, and I thank everyone for being patient!

REVIEW: ANALEPSY - Dehumanization by Supremacy

ANALEPSY
DEHUMANIZATION BY SUPREMACY
ROTTEN CEMETERY RECORDS
PORTUGAL


If it isn't obvious, I was drawn to this band strictly due to the band's name 'ANALEPSY' and the fact that, despite sounding like a symptom of the ass, the cover art portrays something like some evil lord descending upon the earth. The obvious conclusion is that this creature is the lord of butts, why wouldn't he be? Though, in all honesty, its nice to see a Modern Death Metal release that doesn't feature grotesque monsters, strewn about body parts, or prolapsed rectums and genitals; strange to be surprised by something so normal compared. Anyhow, what really matters here is the music and not the art (sometimes). Usually with these late night bands, the kind I hazily open in the dead of night with some half-minded idea of doing justice for the little guys, I get exactly what I expect: too many influences, not enough originality. I get this, I really do. Everyone wants to be like their idols; wants to sound like the bands they love. Though, with bands like ANALEPSY, I feel like somehow Death Metal has become some sort of strange amalgamation - one that doesn't resemble actual Death Metal but more falls, as usual, into Grind or Beatdown.

Don't get me wrong, there is some talent behind ANALEPSY and these guys know how to play - albeit, there sound is painfully typical and follows every trope imaginable for bands of this ilk. There is some serious heaviness, lots of clean playing (as in, no bad notes), and I'm absolutely sure it'd piss off your neighbors due to the extreme nature of the vocals. The thing is, for anyone who frequently listens to this breed of music, it isn't going to turn heads. In fact, it's probably going to make them yearn for the days when Death Metal was more then just blast beats and breakdowns, when it had some character to speak of. Its not like I want to bash 'Dehumanization by Supremacy', I'd really like to say something great about this album or even a song but due to the band's Grind-y nature, there isn't even a single track that distinguishes itself from the others. Everything literally sounds the same, apart from a few momentary intro effects to let you know that there is another song playing. You'll thank the band for these because if they weren't here you wouldn't, in most cases, be able to tell where a track ended and another began.

Somewhere along the way Death Metal took a turn and sadly bands like this, who I'm sure love this style and sound, became way too typical. It's not completely the fault of ANALEPSY that they are painfully boring but I'm not going to let the fact slip either. Dehumanization by Supremacy is another one for the bin, where all the same-old non-innovative bands go.  And, damn, I was really hoping for something with this one. Maybe they should've just put a giant asshole on the cover?

-DIRENOTES

REVIEW: VAMPIRE - Cimmerian Shade

VAMPIRE
CIMMERIAN SHADE
CENTURY MEDIA
SWEDEN

There was a time where I'd thought VAMPIRE's debut album was the next best thing and, though a lot of other stuff has come along since, I still sort of feel it's a stand-out album. I even purchased it digitally and I hate owning digital copies of anything, that's saying a lot. So, imagine my surprise when I find that VAMPIRE has another release. This honestly came out of nowhere to me as I heard nothing about it until receiving a e-mail in my inbox as of the morning of this post. So, what do I think?

Firstly, you have to take VAMPIRE for what the band is (or used to be). It was a horror drenched, absolutely insane, homage to 80's and early 90's styles of underground Death and even Black Metal. Though that is great, I could honestly say back in the day that it would be unlikely that VAMPIRE would put out a release equally as entertaining or acceptably full of such influences. Holy lord though, they must have anticipated that fact as Cimmerian Shade's tracks are even better then their debut album. 

Not only has the band kept their roots, they've expanded on them. 'Pyre of the Harvest Queen' is a stand out track, showing that VAMPIRE can and will destroy your expectations. This time, the band takes things back a little, a little less thrash (though there is plenty of that on 'Night Hunter' and 'Hexahedron') and more of a progressive-metal feel. You can see that the band wanted to show off a little more of their musical skill this time, rather then just catchy hooks and insanely memorable lyrics. And, honestly, it works very well. Much to my surprise, I even sensed some Celtic Frost influences in here - something that pleases the hell out of a Tom Warrior fan such as me. Can I get a 'uh!'

The rest of the EP, excluding a instrumental track titled 'Sleeper in the Deep', is a little more typical VAMPIRE fare. Tearing, angry, and seething vocals paired with horror-laden lyrics - 'Night Hunter' probably being the most memorable song on this EP. The song-writing has stepped up a bit with these tracks too but not so far as to pull the band completely out of the realm of Blackened Death.

Fans of their debut, which I know there to be plenty, need not miss out on Cimmerian Shade. As this EP shows the world that VAMPIRE is back, with a vengeance, and they are no one-album wonders. I can't wait for a full album to come in the near future, and you shouldn't be patient either.

RELEASE DATE: SEPT. 25th 2015.

INTERVIEW: M.S. of STELLAR MASTER ELITE

INTERVIEW
M.S.
STELLAR MASTER ELITE


-III is a significant departure from the faster pace of previous albums (especially the first), did you feel that a more doom-laden approach to songwriting would fit the void/space/horror themes more?

I wouldn’t say that there is a significant departure but that the songs on “III” are completely different. When we write our songs we don´t pay attention to what might be the concept of it. We just play and/or jam what we feel to play in that particular moment. If there is a good riff or pattern that feels right and good to us, we record it with our cellphones or whatever to remember it and try to combine it with other ideas. That´s it. The concept comes very late when we write the lyrics or add samples and synths. Summarized: We don´t give a fuck about concepts and play what we want to play. But yes, the doom sound fits perfectly to the lyrical content.  

-Did you face any difficulties when it came to writing such massive songs? Would you say your songwriting process has changed since the band begun?

No. As I explained above all the songs you hear on that album come into existence because we jam a lot and this was, is and will be the method that fits best for us. We feel that we can be a lot more creative with this approach. To act on impulse brought us some very good ideas I think. When we recorded the drums in the studio I only had some rough notes and Ideas that I wrote down but when it came to the recordings I just played what felt right for me in this moment.

-What was it like to work with other artists on the album?

Nothing special really, we are doing that since album one, but the session with Markus Stock for “Perdition Time Loop” was good fun. Lots of creative energy.

-Why did you pick the name Stellar Master Elite? How did the band form? 

I can´t exactly tell you how we agreed on the band name, but I guess it was because it wasn’t taken and we both are huge fans of Thorns. 

I know Dave for a long time now. Before we formed SME we both played in other bands and wanted to do something together because our musical taste is more or less congruent, and we had and have the same visions of how this band should sound and develop. No regrets so far. 

-I see you guys are huge fans of beer, does Stellar Master Elite have any choice brands?

Of course! Beer is love, Beer is life! For the everyday life we prefer Bitburger because the brewery is only some kilometres away from our hometown (say local patriotism). For fancy occasions I like some IPAs and of course Bavarian beer. Bavarian beer, no matter what sort is always good. But the best one for me is “Tegernseer Hell”. Hell means something like blond and not hell (just to eradicate clichés)

-What would you say was a great moment in the band’s history?

A great moment was definitely when we found out that the refrigerator in our rehearsal room is actually working. That was a good day. That and the great day when we discovered some leftover weed. Great times. 

Apart from these really awesome milestones we were pretty happy when our first two albums got released and we finally had some physical statement of work.

-And, on the flipside, what was the worst or most embarrassing?

There was mold inside the refrigerator and the weed didn’t taste good. What a bummer.

Then we had some kind of dispute with our former label which nearly drove us insane but I can´t tell you details about that. But I can say that this issue was the most embarrassing thing ever. And the awful weed.

-What do you think the future holds for Stellar Master Elite?

Well, I can only hope that the new album reaches some people that enjoy our work. We want to reach people that are focused listeners and don´t listen to albums while doing 5 things in between. 

-Favorite non-metal album?

Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets

REVIEW: Stellar Master Elite - III: Eternalism - The Psychospherical Chapter

STELLAR MASTER ELITE
III: ETERNALISM - THE PSYCHOSPHERICAL CHAPTER
ESSENTIAL PURIFICATION RECORDS
GERMANY

I'm no stranger to space-based Metal acts. The ether, stars, planets, infinite unknown, and beyond are prime subjects for the dark and despairing - the ideas always draw at least my curiosity. The execution of most, however, sometimes leans in the direction of overtly typical: zippy sound effects, cheap synth, and cheaper lyrical content. If I was to make a list of some of the most ridiculous lyrics I've ever heard, they'd mostly comprise of space-themed bands. STELLAR MASTER ELITE, though, really takes it all a step back and adopts 'space' more as if it was still in the belief system of the early 1900's - where it was the basis of nightmares, cosmic terror, and fearful psychological woes. Granted, these guys still know that the content almost requires a campy edge, though the whole album is essentially a blackened doom project, even if it's nothing more then some 80's sci-fi inspired pads here and there.

III: Eternalism - The Pyschospherical Chapter, I suppose, is the third part of a album trilogy that quickly grew into a space-horror epic of sorts. Unlike most bands which adopt this subject matter, who often incorporate a lot of industrial influences, STELLAR MASTER ELITE goes in a completely different direction with a slow, meticulous, doom sound. The most blackened aspect of the whole thing is a few select passages but for the most part it seems the band grew into a different sound as their album series progressed. And, what that essentially means is: long songs. III loves long songs,with the lengthiest being a second short of fifteen minutes (the title track)! Ambiance pervades every corner of these tracks, the low tuned and sustain laden songwriting almost taking a back seat to atmosphere. It's such a stark difference from STELLAR MASTER ELITE's previous albums, which were far more active, that you'd easily think it was a completely different band altogether. Especially since the band now uses it's vocal style for

There is one fatal flaw with this release, however. For all its interesting concepts, atmosphere, and uber-doom length - it really is a double edged sword. The pace sometimes feels artificial, whereas it feels like a track or two was meant to be much faster but then someone just slowed the tempo down to the speed of a snail. It does work, but sometimes there are massive gaps of space and such slow, simple progression that you can't help be feel a little bored. However, the creativity and darkness of the album as a whole outweighs these few down-moments and you still want to see where the whole thing leads.

For a massive experience, not just a collection of angry or weird songs, you'd better believe that III is the album you want to listen to. No matter if you listen to it as a enormous chunk of sci-fi themed doom, or songs individually to make them a tad easier to digest, you are getting something unique and frightening as hell (or space).

INTERVIEW: Orc Adams of ORCumentary

INTERVIEW:
ORC ADAMS
ORCumentary

ORCumentary (see the review here) is a unique Orc based project, opposed to the Troll and Goblin bands of late, headed by Orc Adams. Though it is fundamentally metal, Adams incorporates a lot of other influences and a heavy dose of comedy within his music. Currently playing a host of live shows in anticipation for the upcoming release of 'Destroy the Dwarves' - Adams took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for Direnotes.

-In a world full of Troll bands (and goblins too), why Orcs?

Why not orcs? Seriously though, I kind of stumbled into writing songs about orcs. I was huge into the LOTR films when I was a teenager (still am) and I was getting bored of piano lessons, so I thought it would be funny to write songs with vocals in an orc voice. I didn't expect it to go anywhere, at first it was just something to do during an otherwise boring summer. I didn't take it seriously for a while and didn't play my first live show until almost 2 years later.

-What sort of difficulties do you face when dealing with a more experimental form of music?

The bad part of making music that's "love it or hate it" is, unfortunately, the people who hate it. Fortunately, almost all of the negativity is online, which isn't a surprise. The people who come out to shows usually have a good time. 

Luckily I've been doing this for a while, so I don't have as many difficulties as in the past, such as being stuck on bills with bands I didn't fit in with at all and generally not being treated with the same respect any other local-level musician would get. There have been a few instances where I've been cut short because the other bands were indie rock bullshit and I didn't fit. It's like "the scene" didn't know what to do with me at first and I didn't know what to do with ORCumentary. As I got my name out there more, improved as a songwriter and a performer, things got better. I remember how surprised I was the first time someone came out to one of the shows specifically to see me.

I still have some trouble getting booked at new places because my act is pretty hard to adequately describe via email, unfortunately.

-There are so many genre’s melded into ORCumentary’s sound, influences reaching as far as dance, electronica, and industrial. So, that being said, what exactly did or does influence your particular brand of ‘Orc Metal’? (Even if it’s not music?)

I wasn't really into metal when I started ORCumentary, as weird as that sounds. Like I said before, my biggest influence to start writing original music was the LOTR films. I've always loved reading fantasy books (Shannara, Harry Potter, and Forgotten Realms are among my favorites), ever since I was very young. I took writing classes in college and was even working on a fantasy book for a while, but it got to a point where I didn't have the time and creative energy to devote to both, so I chose music since I was much more inspired. The storytelling aspect of ORCumentary is very strong though; my two most recent albums are part of a multi-album original story (which was loosely set up in the Praise Gor-Nacular EP) that I plan on continuing for at least 2 more albums.


For more musical influences, I love European metal. My favorite subgenres are melodic death, industrial, folk, and power metal, but I also like lighter music like film score stuff. Those are my main musical influences, but I also incorporate elements of genres i'm not as big into or even ones I don't like too much on the whole (like thrash and black metal). Basically, I make music that I want to hear and i'm not limited by genre cliches or stereotypes. Anything is fair game.

-What are live shows with ORCumentary like?


They are a lot of fun. It's just me on stage with a keyboard; I do the vocals and synth/solo parts live. My performances are really energetic and I can stand toe-to-toe with any full band. What most people remember about seeing ORCumentary live is my larger-than-life stage personality. I'm not "me" on stage. I am Orc Adams, hero of the Orcs and wielder of the Keyboard of Mayhem, slayer of Goblins, Dwarves, Elves, and Humans. It allows me to be the complete opposite of who I am in real life; Orc Adams is loud, rude, demanding, and arrogant, but it's done in such a dry and over the top way that it's pretty funny and almost impossible to take seriously. I love getting the crowd involved in the songs.

-With so many live shows under your belt, do you think ORCumentary will ever have a live release?

It's possible. I haven't seriously considered it, but it could happen down the line if the music catches on sufficiently after I have a few more releases under my belt.

-Some of your pet peeves when it comes to today’s metal scene?

So many bands in the local scenes mush together because they are just trying to sound like their favorite band rather than try to make their own sound. I want local bands to take more risks and to try to stand out.

-What do you think the future has in store of ORCumentary?

I don't like looking too far into the future. This year and next year I want to focus on promoting Destroy the Dwarves. Hoping to play a lot of shows and get to some new areas. I'd also like to make a music video. ORCumentary's 10th anniversary is coming up too, the tail end of next year. I have some ideas for what to do to commemorate that, but nothing I want to share just yet.

-Thoughts on ‘Babymetal’? (Had to)

LOL! Nobody knows better than me that niche artists definitely have an audience. I can get behind the instrumentals but I don't like the vocals and choreographed dancing doesn't impress me. They seem like a decent gateway band for non-metal fans to get into the genre though, and maybe pop fans can get behind the dancing aspect. Another "love it or hate it" band, Babymetal just doesn't do it for me at all.

THROWBACK THURSDAY #2: Roger Waters - Radio Kaos

THROWBACK THURSDAY REVIEW #2:
ROGER WATERS
RADIO KAOS
1987
For those unfamiliar, which I don't honestly know how one would be, Roger Waters was one of the major creative forces behind Pink Floyd. He contributed vocals, almost entirely on The Final Cut, as well as played bass for the band. Almost any song by Pink Floyd which had dark or outspoken content had him behind it, thus why albums began to shift towards more focused, questionable, and interesting topics with Animals, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall (in no particular order). There was a noticeable shift when he left, as he'd made the band almost all his own by that point - while others were primarily interested in doing things other then keeping Pink Floyd afloat. David Gilmour eventually resurrected the band but the edge Waters provided, and the focus his themes provided, was forever gone - hence the reprehensible mess that was The Endless River. Luckily, Roger Waters kept his outspoken self in the music-making business, albeit his presence was, and continues to be, less appreciated.

Radio Kaos is his second studio album, and I'll be honest in saying that it is a personal favorite - at least, the original release. As with his previous album, and future solo work, it revolves around a concept: a story of a disabled man who can hear radio signals in his head, becomes friends with a radio host, and who mourns the loss of his working class brother - who is sent to prison for throwing a brick that may or may not have killed a taxi driver. From there, it somehow ends with the main character trying to destroy the world. And yes, this happens as jarringly as you can imagine.

The sad fact about Radio Kaos is that it worked so well up to a certain point. All of the songs are extremely representative of music that was on the radio in the late 80's and early 90's. Everything playing sounds like that safe light-rock you'd hear on a late-night rock radio station. However, with a unprecedented darkness within the lyrics - especially with tracks like 'Sunset Strip.' The radio host is actually a good character in this story, having to put on a smile for a seemingly insane world that won't leave him alone. You actually feel like he is listening to the main characters story and connecting, finally, with someone odd but understandable. The problem stems from when Waters decides to shift the setting from radio to world. Instead of being more of a commentary of the world facing it's inevitable doom, the album just seems to drop the surrounding story and Waters seems to go on saying whatever he thinks about the situation. It's honestly jarring and it creates a gap where everything seems fine, then all of a sudden the end of the world is about to happen, then it isn't. Hurrah, the world is turning around? I fully understand what was being reached for here, but when things go outside of character stories and 'powers that be' type songs - then Radio Kaos falls, really hard.

Still, I have a lot of love for this album. The songs present are great, despite the story hooking you then having a jarring turn without much say or reason to happen. You'll find yourself in love with it, the messages of thought-freedom and corporate greed are well presented and extremely relevant even nowadays. Everything is catchy, thoughtful, meaningful, and though I've said some bad - it's beyond worth a listen. Oh, but don't expect the cut or expanded tracks to be hidden gems. There was most certainly a reason for them being cut and they add nothing to the album.


EDITORIAL: The Good and the Bad: Creative Freedom in Metal

The Good and the Bad: 
Creative Freedom in Metal
By Leatis Graves


The topic of creative freedom has been one quickly building lately, something that happens for one reason or another yearly in the Metal community. It doesn’t matter what you think you’re talking about, it usually boils down to this topic; no matter if it’s about occult, pagan, satanic, or atheist imagery; no matter if it’s about sexism, gender roles, or what fans, dancers, and bands are wearing while they sing. The fact remains that, while people are out there fighting for the goodness and greatness of certain communities and genders, no matter the case a person is going to be stepping on another’s freedom to express.

Metal, the entire genre and all of its sub-genre's, are completely open. This it’s one major benefit. People parade on against and about religion and, since there are a lot of people on both sides, others are drawn to those opinions and subjects – both of them. So, when it comes to sexism, women, and all then the same applies: there are people on both sides of the coin. It is not necessarily the problem, it is the natural condition of full creative freedom. You don’t have to go far to find bands almost completely dedicated to the defamation of women, races, and hell, even children. When you find them, you’ll find thousands backing up and agreeing to their form of expression. It’s an outspoken genre, driven by extremely loud opinions in which everyone has the right to express – even if we do not like the opinions being presented. To simply presume that the only issue present in metal is sexism is startlingly shortsighted and circumstantial at best. I may have only been on this earth a short twenty-seven years but I’ve seen more bands and fans stand up against it than anything else, and I’ve also seen my fair share of those who wish to simply jump on the ‘all metal is this and it needs to stop’ bandwagon –just because they can get a little attention- more than I ever should have. Truth be told, there is no actual battle to be fought. Because, if everyone was to remove all the negative opinions about certain genders or sexualities, then that would be infringing on the creative integrity of metal as a whole. Once you remove something simply because others don’t agree, then you have all sorts of people doing the same. No, I don’t feel it’s fair that SOME bands and groups treat women unfairly. However, I don’t feel it’s fair that I’ve been attacked for being a straight white male in my time either or that some of these ‘activists’ feel the need to treat me like I’m lesser because I was born that way. Though, I don’t feel the need to stifle their opinions on the matter. It’s not a political uproar to me: it’s an opinion of others. And, guess what? You have the right to your own opinion; your informed opinion.

The saddest truth of these constant debacles is that the people who empower these sexist, racist, and what-have-you bands are those that are against them. We all know the saying: all publicity is good publicity. When you are posting about these groups and fans who treat women so badly, take into consideration that you are driving up their views, making them more visible to like-minded people, and overall making them more visible to everyone. With the internet, where there are people who openly delve into every activity imaginable, this does not put the problem out into the open. It simply empowers, it pushes the muck up from the bottom and some people simply love the filth. But, every top does need a bottom. And, sadly, to remove it is to kick the legs out from beneath you and all band’s freedoms. Your opinion IS valid but so is that of those on the opposite side of the spectrum.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t believe that the community I’ve loved so long has resorted to such petty ways and bickering. Especially when the best and most sensible conclusion is to not draw attention to what you love, not bring the hatefulness out. However, despite how everyone goes on about the media doing just the same: we are all now doing the same. Nothing is worth talking about unless it is bad and nobody wants to see the good in anything. I, personally, have nothing against women as a whole, only individuals that have actually wronged me – including men. I say have a good time, make music, and like whatever you so choose. But, do not expect everyone to conform to some pseudo-utopian ideal. Everyone has something to say and no matter how popular or unpopular the opinion is to others: they all have the right to express it, especially in music.

REVIEW: Herida Profunda - Self-Titled

HERIDA PROFUNDA
SELF-TITLED
783 LANDSBERG HARDCORE CREW
POLAND/UK


Herida Profunda, after a short claustrophobic introduction, hits you like a bag of hammers. Though this Self-titled release doesn’t wholly rely on speed, the opening track ‘Spalone Mosty’ ensures you that what you are about to listen to is, in fact, no walk in the park and not your typical Crust affair.

Personally, I love when bands like this lean back on their punk influences, and this album certainly has enough of that to satiate someone like me. Things are kept relatively simple yet somehow the sound and songwriting here is almost expertly crafted, though the former isn’t overtly polished thankfully. It’s almost important that bands like this don’t delve too far into production standards. Songs are extremely concise, sticking to that Elvis/Misfits/Any-punk-band-ever formula of no song over three minutes. It does make this album feel more then a little on the short side but the sheer variety of it all makes the experience worth it. As I said, this is no typical Crust affair. There is a fair share of almost Death-like moments interspersed with a lot of punk, in fact I’d go as far as to retract the label of Crust and to go as far as calling it Death-Punk. There is just something about the vocals, the palm muting, controlled feedback, well-timed tempo changes, talk of Nazi-hunting and general all-round religious fuckery that makes me feel like Herida Profunda really has something all on their own.

The short run-time sort of hampers my enjoyment of this album, it’s fantastic and all – definitely something I’d purchase for both the Punk and Death metal fanatic within- but it’s the same problem I had with all the Misfits albums. Just when I’m hooked, it ends. Honestly, this is a minor gripe overall. There just is no shortage of great tracks on this release. I’d go as far as saying it’s almost essential to your Crust/Punk/Death collection.

MINI-REVIEW: Plague Rider - Paroxysm EP

MINI REVIEW:
PLAGUE RIDER
PAROXYSM
UNSIGNED

Paraoxysm is an EP bathed in, not only filthy and infectious ideas, but insanity as well. These four tracks simply refuse to follow only one track. Yes, it's Death Metal but it goes so far beyond - delving into grind, beat-down, and even throwing in some blackened elements. Vocals are all over the place - only, this is in the best possible way. Every style you've probably heard in Death Metal, aside from singing, is present here: guttural, bellowing, howling, screeching, and even some sections that feel very VAMPIRE-esque (though, less of a paranormal theme and more something along the lines of biological fear). At times, the variety seems almost too dense, overwhelming even - as song's hop around with styles almost violently. One moment your ears are being thoroughly slaughtered by its thrash-laden sound, seemingly unfocused collections of riffs quickly confuse you, and then the next moment PLAGUE RIDER presents you with an extremely intricate solo or sudden realization that maybe there is order in all this chaos your hearing.


For those who love their Death Metal -technical or not- heavy, varied, and thoroughly gruesome.


THROWBACK THURSDAY #1: Spooky Tooth/Pierre Henry - Ceremony

THROWBACK THURSDAY REVIEW #1:
SPOOKY TOOTH/PIERRE HENRY
CEREMONY
1967


Ceremony is a questionably experimental album by Spooky Tooth from 1967. It attempts to employ found-object sounds to create something more unique and surreal, along with the theme of a Church service. On paper, everything seems like it'd work and sounds extremely interesting. In practice, and due to the limitations at the time, however, it really doesn't come together very well.

Underneath all the breathing sounds, poles being banged on, and strange low-fi attempts at synth - there is a solid, albeit rather plain, album to experience. It isn't bad, somewhat enjoyable at times. But, my god, what could've been relatively good is put through the grinder by sounds that lay almost completely on-top of the music. Worse yet, none of these tones seem to follow any sort of structure, rhyme, or reason. You can very much tell the idea was there but the execution was not.

There are exceptions, however, which do show me why there is somewhat of a cult-following with this album. Songs like Jubilation (titled 'Credo' on some releases) do show promise, though I can tell you right now that even that song falls into a uncomfortable (and somewhat hilarious) awkwardness. While the song shows some real use of the medium at first, and the music behind it becomes very good - the song gets almost stupid half-way through when someone thought it'd be wonderful to have some people going 'bo-bo-bobo' continuously over the mix. Why? Was there some insecurities as to the music being played here?

This is an album of weird that I don't feel many will ever appreciate, only because its attempts at 'experimental' feel more like the workings of a child who thought he could do better. It would've held out without these inclusions, or at least far less of them. I personally felt the theme was extremely unique, and that without the shoddy found-object sounds it would've been a good album. I'm sure it provided the inspiration for quite a bit of noise albums, but as it stands - Ceremony was and is an inferior album.

REVIEW: GRIM VAN DOOM - Grim Love


GRIM VAN DOOM
GRIM LOVE
WOOAAARGH

There are few albums that confuse me, and fewer that I enjoy if they do. Grim Love is what you'd call intentionally misleading, surely it's not a love themed album and its sound is as ugly as hell. However, it's certainly a lovable chunk of sound and hell if it isn't grim either.

There is a certain groove to this album, and a backbreaking aggression that reminds me of late Pantera albums. Sure, it's way heavier and a whole lot darker. But, a lot of the time I hear a focus on melody and rhythm over technical skill. And, GRIM VAN DOOM, seems to carry this quite well. In fact, I'd even dare to say they probably surpassed that fated legendary band in many aspects.

As this album goes on, things drastically slow down and just seem to get darker. Whereas the first few tracks were relatively fast paced, not breakneck or anything - but faster. They soon slow down to a crawl, embracing an intense Doom Metal feel. Songs like 'Thulsa' even remind me of Lumbar, they are so slow and grimy. Even better, not a single track descends into a series of boring ringing notes (I hate when slower songs do), keeping things extremely interesting. Oddly, there is even a few moments where everything becomes oddly melodic, even on heavier songs like 'Butchr.' Specifically, mid-song an utterly fantastic moment features a guttural growl synchronizing with the music to create a strange, obscure, symphony of sorts.

There is, honestly, very little at fault with this album. Actually, I can scarcely find anything at all. Simply put, Grim Love works as a whole and it just keeps getting better. The album isn't too short, doesn't overstay its welcome, and there is not a single song on here I'd consider filler. This album is worth your time and it begs to be listened to.



MINI-REVIEW: Mord'A'Stigmata - Our Hearts Slow Down (MINI-ALBUM)

MINI-REVIEW:
MORD'A'STIGMATA
OUR HEARTS SLOW DOWN
PAGAN RECORDS

MORD'A'STIGMATA leans on a more calm, experimental approach to Black Metal. Though, yes, it contains a good deal of the genre's tropes - it's almost more akin to a progressive rock album then anything. Somehow, however, this works extremely well. A stark contrast is drawn between harsh vocal content and emotion displayed through music, Our Hearts Slow Down uses both mediums to more clearly express themes displayed in each of it's three tracks. While the lyrics convey a more manic and forceful approach, the music itself takes on a voice of its own - adding an atmospheric layer of depression and melancholy that this sort of vocal style cannot.

This entire mini-album is somewhat feels a cross between a late SATYRICON album and TRIPTYKON (Or even some CELTIC FROST). The progressive emotional styling is there, prominent and very well done - never used when not needed. There is, however, all the elements of Black Metal here too and a good deal of those heavy droning and whining notes you'd expect from the latter band I mentioned - especially on the instrumental track 'Our Hearts Slow Down.' These Polish masterminds have surely breathed some life into a genre that I personally felt lacked a lot of life in the last few years, even compared to their older work - your in for quite a step up in quality and general bravery when it comes to a more experimental sound.

REVIEW: Methwitch - Rotting Away

METHWITCH
ROTTING AWAY
CAMERON MCBRIDE

Capping off a rather excellent week in aggressive releases, I'm happy to present METHWITCH - an ultra low-end solo project out of New Mexico. Now, there is some speculation on it's genre but, to me, Rotting Away borders on Death Metal, Sludge, and Grind. However, it'd be more accurate to say this album is closer to Death and Sludge than anything - because, lets face it, Grind doesn't exactly pride itself on variety such as what is provided here.

This album has a rather unique approach to its track structure, providing it's listeners with a majority of shorter tracks and choosing to save the meatier ones (the best ones) for midpoints and end points. Personally, I love this. The songs are all to the point, never boring, and it all comes together to remind me of BLEEDING THROUGH's 'The Fire.' Though, don't expect the same brand of harsh content, METHWITCH simply aims to drag the scum of the this earth even lower.

As I mentioned earlier, this album is closer to Death and Sludge. Such is ever apparent on tracks like 'Stigmata' and 'Guillotine', which employ the use of droning notes and slow monotonous progression - though, not monotonous in a negative sense. These two tracks, no doubt, are the most sinister of the bunch. All the hate and anger of the album seems to have reached a cumulative peak at this point, like a festering clot of anger and disgust. It's almost surprising this content has been written by a single person; almost terrifying if you didn't know they lived in New Mexico.

The main highlight of this album is actually its extreme low-end nature, the entire album I believe was written in Drop F on a eight string guitar. It's thunderous nature begs that you listen to it at the highest possible volumes, and its way more appreciated when a copious amount of bass is involved on your system. Almost accidentally, METHWITCH employs a good deal of Djent mentality but throws it out the window - all the low end you could desire with no polyrhythmic 'technique' involved. Being someone who has experimented with extended scale guitars, I can say it's damn near impressive that Rotting Away didn't ever even play with that style.

The only negative aspect of this album is that, at times, there seems to be a bit of crackling. It's not a big issue, but it is persistent and several times I did check my headphones to see if they were going out. Of course, this is a independent solo release and there is only so much you can do with loud distorted and bass ridden guitars.

If your a fan of aggressive bands like RINGWORM, DISSIMULATOR, or even BLEEDING THROUGH (at least their last two releases) you'll like this. As well, two covers are included on this album which range from awesome (Festering in the Crypt - CANNIBAL CORPSE) to a little bit hilarious (Everything Ends - SLIPKNOT), so if you want to hear SLIPKNOT be as heavy as the uberfans claim they are - it might be the added bonus which gets you even more involved in Rotting Away.

REVIEW: Nex Carnis - Obscure Visions of Dark

NEX CARNIS
OBSCURE VISIONS OF DARK
NIGHTBREAKER PRODUCTIONS


Of all the bands, groups, and solo projects I've reviewed, I've yet to encounter any which describe an utter state of lunacy and despair as well as NEX CARNIS. There is some serious dedication to subject matter on this Iranian band's part when it comes to lyrical content, and it’s not really all that usual that a Death Metal band shows that sort of consideration. Sure, string me up and what-have-you but it's true, a lot of Death Metal bands stick to the typical tropes and certainly begin to feel stale after a while when it comes to substance - this album doesn't.

The musical dressing to the lyrics isn't half bad either, it wouldn't be hard to say that it's borderline fantastic. Aggression is abound on Obscure Visions of Dark, from the start your pretty much in for an assault akin to getting slugged in the side of the head about ten times repeatedly. Things also get very technical, though not enough to consider this band technical Death Metal or anything. A lot of thought was put into making tracks non-typical, Guitar riffs, though sometimes a bit of a chug-fest are interlaced with complicated solo work, which even sometimes play with dissonance, and even clean sections that, somehow, come off dark and brooding. It works to keep Obscure Visions of Dark extremely varied for a Death Metal album. And, dare I say, the drums on this album are some of the best I've heard in a long time - almost akin to that of Flo Mounier of Cryptopsy. They serve to keep the blood pumping, and keep the general uneasy feeling of the album alive.


Now, every good album has its downsides. Specifically, though I can go on about the lyrical content being fantastic - it never really lets down or drastically changes. Obscure Visions of Dark will no doubt be your fill when it comes to manic content. That aside, it's a great slab of Death Metal for those looking to have their brains wracked until the insides look a little something like the album's cover.


REVIEW: GRAVESITE - Horrifying Nightmares...

GRAVESITE
HORRIFYING NIGHTMARES...
XTREEM MUSIC

Its rare I find bands that aim to, not change, but perfect their genre; rare that a band that does, is able to maintain their own identity. GRAVESITE completely blows my mind with this. 

It took only one track, the first ('Submerged in Vomit'), to get me excited and wanting to listen. Yes, the album is a little more clean and well put-together than the usual underground release and there is a fair-share of tropes prominent throughout Horrifying Nightmares... but it all comes together to make a beast worthy of your time. Songs don't follow one specific route or repeat certain sections tirelessly and GRAVESITE doesn't even seem to care what sort of genre they are considered. Often you'll hear Death Metal but at times you can find yourself faced with more thrash, progressive or blackened elements. One track will be full of speed, aggression, and anger while the next will slow down and throw out aspects of despair or horror. The track, in my opinion, that best sums up the entirety of this album is 'The Painter of Agonies' - which seems to incorporate all facets of the albums themes.

As with anything Death Metal, there are some issues when it comes to GRAVESITE's straight-forward approach. It is painfully obvious that this album doesn't aim to break any molds, and as such you get sections that sound very much like other bands. Influences are abundant and I'd be here all day comparing certain bits to others, no matter if it was intentional or not. The vocals are good, very good, but sometimes they feel out of place or even uninteresting. A good bit of the time, I found their lack of variety as tedious and just focused on the music which surrounded them. Of course, these things are more or less nitpicks and are probably something everyone expects.

Overall, Horrifying Nightmares... is a good listen. It's hateful and horrific in all the right ways and knows what Death Metal is. GRAVESITE has some serious skill, I'd love to see them push things even further.


REVIEW: ORCumentary - Destroy the Dwarves

DESTROY THE DWARVES
ORC ROCK RECORDS


Niche groups seem to be popping up a lot these days, more-so then in the past at least. It almost seems like only bands that make waves, outside of the usual veterans and scholars of metal, are same-same metalcore bands or completely insane fantasy-themed bands. Personally, I prefer the latter and ORCumentary had insanity by the boat loads.

There is no doubt that ORCumentary's Orc Adams is very talented, his work with the piano/keyboard is extremely good when it comes to Destroy the Dwarves. In fact, the piano and synth of this album add a strange quirkiness, which I admire and appreciate considering the rather non-serious nature of this album. Oddly, however, it takes some serious patience, about four tracks, to get past some pretty rough tracks. Perhaps its the tone of the fuzzed out guitar, how it just numbs my ears the more I increase the volume, or how the industrial influences remind me of 90% of the music on vampirefreaks (no god, no) - but everything up to 'He Drank Deep From His Mug' almost hurts my ears. Get past this, however, and things really start to even out - even the fuzzy not-so-sure-if-its-real guitar finds it place and Mr. Adams shows that he can do a lot more then play a mean piano.

The vocal styles that Destroy the Dwarves consists of, at times, seem to sort of fit the whole low-budget insanity feel. Guttural bellows, raspy characterization, and black metal inspired screeching all fit rather well - but the shoddy attempts at 'singing' are beyond bad. Specifically, a terrible attempt at... some unspeakably high sound near the end of 'You must Procreate!'. The whole album would've been better off just doing something else completely. Luckily, any vocal downfalls are met with a host of colorful and questionable lyrics, surely a madman thought this entire saga of Dwarves and whatnot up - or else a genius terribly bored with today's limited content.

I think Orc Adams engineered this entire, ear rattling, and completely wonderfully odd album as a symbol of true creativity. That, yeah, sometimes not everything work and not everyone is going to like it, some might even hate it - its cheesy, its unnatural, its jarring, but its fresh and new. Get past those first four tracks, if you don't like them, and you'll start to see what ORCumentary is all about.

REVIEW: Into The Divine - Harbinger of Entropy

Into The Divine
Harbinger of Entropy
Self-Released

Death Metal is a precarious genre. Its intensity and specific sound is usually a very difficult thing to change drastically, responding best to inclusions or additions in technicality then anything else. Into the Divine, with their EP 'Harbinger of Entropy', might label themselves as 'melodic' but in actuality the band does little to follow the tropes or expectations of that subgenre. Instead, you are pretty much getting the sort of underground Death Metal experience you'd receive from a late 90's mix-tape.

The entirety of Harbinger of Entropy is sort a mixed bag. I was initially disappointed and confused following some research, in which they compare themselves to less technical bands such as In Flames, Megadeth, or even... Machinehead? Really, there isn't any of that here. Its raw, almost blackened, and extremely angry. The musical backing is very akin to oldschool Cannibal Corpse tracks and even includes a lot of strange tempo changes - tonnes of technicality in the bass (much appreciated) too, which shines more then any other instrument on this album. Clearly, Into The Divine is trying to appeal to the wrong audience, even with the bands they've played with, the band really doesn't fit too in-sync with things like Battlecross or even Septic Flesh. Fact is, Into The Divine is a white-knuckle and raw Death Metal band.

Sadly, there are some issues besides obvious miss-marketing. The first two tracks of this EP are a complete and utter disaster. The music is composed well but the pairing of vocals and actual music is horrifically bad. I honestly almost gave up on the EP until I heard 'Demons I Deceive'. From there, the whole thing picks up in almost every aspect. I'm sure there are people which would highly enjoy the off-kilter rawness and sloppiness of the initial songs but as it stands I feel they are way too amateurish.

This is for those who like more extreme styled metal. Its loud and crude but it has its merits and works about halfway through the EP. A little more work on the vocal style would have helped, a lot, but its nothing so bad as to say that the album is un-listenable - its simply not as advertised.


-DIRENOTES-

REVIEW: Pyrrhon - Growth Without End

Pyrrhon
Growth Without End
Handshake Inc. 

Coming hot off their second album 'The Mother of Virtues' - Pyrrhon aims to get everyone's attention with what is easily one of the most interesting EP's I've heard this year, so far. 

To be honest, I hadn't heard all that much from Pyrrhon prior to this release - mostly due to them escaping my radar rather then them being bad or something such as that. Labelled in some areas as 'Death Metal', Growth Without End is more of a very Dark and Experimental mix of Hardcore and Noise Rock. Of course, the EP starts its first few seconds out sounding somewhat typical but everything quickly shifts into beloved insanity.

Everything here surprised me, there was absolutely no moments I didn't enjoy. When the more streamlined and expected sections aren't happening, which they quickly fade away midway through the EP anyhow, you are treated to very intense distant sections that press the vocals back. Its almost as if you are listening to some crazed dictator talking down to you. Though that does sound like something we've all heard before, on tracks like Slipknots 'Pulse of the Maggots', you are getting the full effect of emotion and full-on intensity. And that sums up the entirety of Growth Without End. 'intensity' - as it never lets up and simply keeps compounding more and more until the EP evolves (or devolves?) into a cluster of almost composure-less noise. Its honestly something to behold.

The only weakness of Growth Without End is that it's not a entire album. Granted, the EP might be a little niche as it contains some highly experimental aspects - I can honestly say that, if your a fan of any sort of Extreme Metal then this is something you must check out. If Growth Without End is any indication of what Pyrrhon does and will do in the future, then count me in. 

-DIRENOTES-

REVIEW: A Light Within - Body Matter EP

A LIGHT WITHIN
BODY MATTER EP
Static Tension Records

Oddly, I can't draw any direct comparison to what I've been hearing on A LIGHT WITHIN's 'Body Matter.' Now its not like the EP is ultra experimental, its certainly progressive - but it has a good deal of easily digestible elements to it. For instance, the vocals are more of what you'd hear from bands like Sound Garden, The Tea Party, HIM, or any other Alt-rock styled late 90's MTV band. I'm not too against this as if works really well with the airy ambiance of the entire EP. However, those more akin to more experimental Progressive Giants such as Devin Townsend, Aeryon, or Opeth might feel the overall EP is way too vanilla. And, despite the bellowing grinding bass and keyboards -which is sometimes the only thing that stands out in these tracks- a lot of Body Matter feels really familiar. There just doesn't seem to be all that much I can hold onto, even after multiple listens, with this EP - no track really stands out or makes any sort of solid impression; I can't really sense any identity within this music.

Occasionally A LIGHT WITHIN attempts something different with a few attempts at spicing up what is here. There are some tempo changes, spacey ambiance, reverberation galore, 'pretty' keyboard backing, and chanty pads - but its all been done for the last twenty years. Sadly, I don't find this EP special in the slightest - A LIGHT WITHIN sadly is a medley of tired tropes and boring call backs to music nobody cares to listen to anymore.
 

REVIEW: The Lidocaine - Chicken Cage of HORROR

The Lidocaine - Chicken Cage of HORROR
Inverse Records

I don't honestly know too much of what to think about this band. The 90's styled Alt-Punk album title drew me in, the promise of progressive got me curious. So, I suppose the overall package did its job of making me listen. The contents... well I suppose you could call them akin to a Chicken Cage (or Coop) - in the sense that, despite not being wholly delicious at the moment, a little re-purposing might make them a deep fried dinner to remember.

Despite the strange title, this album doesn't hold too many comedic surprises. I'm sure they perhaps are in there somewhere, behind the strange folk-metal inspired vocals (think Turisas or Korpiklanni try and do Mr. Bungle), but I can't pick up on anything. I don't think these guys really get that singing somewhat goofy or Operatically to Metal isn't really comedy. However, aside from that I really found myself getting into the vocals despite the opening tracks being not so well done. Its almost as if the singer really began to find his way around the middle of the third track 'The End of the Beginning or the Beginning of...' and despite some rough mixing on said vocals - he really began to win me over.

The music, I couldn't believe it, is actually true to form Progressive Metal. Refreshingly, these guys actually knew what the genre was and did not tack it on for exposure. Songs progress from one form to another in a really great way. My favorite, especially, is the song 'Fabrication' which takes all sorts of different turns - from a strong old-school metal styled melodic verse, to a 90's alt-punk styled chant, to a layered chorus that lies somewhere in-between those two. There is no laziness when it comes to the Instrumental aspect of The Lidocaine.

As said, The Lidocaine is good; 'Chicken Cage of Horror' is good - really good. And the album grows on you fast. However, there are some hiccups - the mixing on the vocals is a little iffy but its not too bad as to detract from the experience. The comedic elements are either hit and miss or non-existent but that doesn't stop this from being an enjoyable album. If you are looking for something different, and you know I always am, I suggest you listen to 'Chicken Cage of Horror.'

REVIEW: VOD - ᑑᕐᖓᐃᑦ (Tuurngait)

VOD - ᑑᕐᖓᐃᑦ

As a reviewer and long-time fan of Metal, I have been feeling the very real wear of over-saturation when it comes to my favorite genre. If you didn't know (which unless you've been living under a rock I don't know how you haven't) the easier, cheaper, and more available gear and software for artists has lead to a unholy stream of bands popping up almost daily. I'm all for the little guy getting their sound out there, its great and I'm sure its a huge accomplishment - its what my blog is all about. However, the sad truth is that nobody really has the gull to do anything too ground breaking or new with what they have. The sheer amount of same-same bands I have to hear daily is equivalent to a endless supply of tonic water - bland; plain; unappealing. Thankfully, some people have some imagination left and we get genuinely interesting things like VOD's Tuurngait.

Interestingly enough, this whole project is done on bass (the guitar bits at least). This is something I can get behind as I used to play Bass and the sheer amount of 'you can't do shit with bass' mindsets is enough to turn away almost anyone from the instrument. Dave Tremblay, the mastermind behind Tuurngait, somehow surpassed the naysayers - the result is some unholy oddity as odd in execution as it is in presentation.

Firstly, I have to mention that the choice to implement a hefty amount of mysticism into this package only strengthens how much I enjoyed it. The choice to use foreign characters instead of universally known English titles helps elevate the general sameness even the most clever song titles have anymore. Seeing these strange characters and the artwork -a enormous eagle overshadowing a woman in the darkness- all really helped me warm up to the album. The reason I mention this is because, guys, sometimes good Artwork and Presentation really does matter.

The meat of the album, the music (obviously), is something a tad different as well. Instead of the Djent approach, which would have been so easy with a 6 string bass, Tuurngait is more of a progressive experimental affair. Of course, there is a hefty Drone influence but compared to most Drone I listen to the overall sound isn't akin to Drone. What you can expect is a lot of layered, extremely heavy, riffs coupled with ambient pauses and sometimes complete drop offs from heavy to quiet. VOD doesn't like to keep itself typical either. Any approach that seems somewhat familiar or typical is usually uprooted instantly by the inclusion of odd timing or seemingly off-tune riffs. This entire album seems to be a deliberate attempt to do something far outside the norm or known. Vocals, as well, seem to consist of long airy distorted bellows and howls, which would be haunting if not for the fact that they sort of exist behind the music.

All is not well with this album, however. As much praise as I'd like to give it - there are some flaws. Really, when you unravel the album after several listens - you realize the whole thing isn't too far out as to not be digestible. Its not like I'm asking the album to be so different as to be too much to the average person, its just that for all it does to be mysterious or different - its not too different then some of the odder tracks you'd hear back in the day. At times, it even feels as though I'm experiencing some of the rarer and more serious moments of Primus. That isn't too bad for me but it shows that the experimentation isn't really as far out as initially believed. Also, the vocals and lyrics are barely there and completely unneeded. I'm aware instrumental albums have a really difficult time standing out but the vocals really don't do much for me on this one; they don't do very much for the album at all.

Tuurngait, though a sizable and much needed difference in the genre still has its flaws. But, I can't deny that this is no doubt one of the better things to hit my inbox in some time. The Bass-only approach only makes everything more deep and unique. I couldn't imagine this album being done any other way but I can't help but feel that maybe there are some aspects that could be improved - if only slightly.

REVIEW: Sinners Moon - Atlantis

Sinners Moon - Atlantis
Inverse Records

There is no lack of Symphonic Metal. Thanks to the likes of Nightwish, Leaves Eyes, Within Temptation, Epica, and countless more, there is just about as many Symphonic Metal bands out there are as there is Pornography. Sadly, it takes a lot for any of them to gather the steam that any of the aforementioned bands have. So most rely on shameless copying or uninspired attempts at individuality (i.e. Epica's god-awful 'rough vocal' inclusions). So, as a rule I'm extra-tough when it comes to these bands. They have to really be something else for me to give them that final word.

Sinners Moon comes off as what you'd expect from a Symphonic band. I could never get away with saying they bring anything especially new to the genre - but almost every other band of this ilk is guilty of the same thing. They do, however, bring a really refreshing energy to the whole experience that I don't really feel with any other band happening right now. Everything has that young energetic edge that Annette Olzon did when she was part of Nightwish. Sadly, female vocalist Simona doesn't do too much outside of the norm - at times, it feels as if shes about to do some accentuation but she doesn't really do anything wholly unique. And this is a bit of a shame considering the early tracks have a lot of extreme metal influences going on. 'Growl' Vocalist Derick has such a great handle on his chosen style that its a shame to see his presence somewhat falter on so many tracks - we want more Derek!

Oddly, Atlantis gets a pretty spectacular track with Guest Vocalist Tonny Kakko of Sonata Arctica. This track 'My Servant' is honestly a huge draw point to this album. In fact, the two prior tracks 'Pray For The Child' and 'Falls Of The Neverland' had me thinking the album was gearing up for completion, as they were generally dull as dirt, until this one came along. Sadly, again, Derick is somewhat pushed to the background - despite the fact that he provides a great contrast to Tonny Kakko as compared to the female vocals, which at this point on the album were getting so grating to me I had to take a break.

Potential is abound on this release. Sinners Moon has all the pieces of a great album and band but they played it far too safe on this one. Hell, if Simona had done anything besides what was completely expected - and the band utilized their defining trait (aka Derick) then this would've been something to make a splash. I sense that this band needs to find their own unique direction. Until then, I'll be watching patently in anticipation for a monumental Sinners Moon release.


REVIEW: Forward Unto Dawn - ALPHA

Forward Unto Dawn - ALPHA
Red Tentacle

ALPHA garners sort of a mixed reaction to me. On one hand, its pretty well written and there is some talent within its seven tracks - some trickier guitar work. The problem, however, stems from actually finding said talent beneath this endless barrage of the familiar. Breakdowns and dissonant chords were once edgy, exciting, and new - maybe at some point there was some heaviness to that formula but at this point it all feels like a wet-noodle approach to music. Why, I wonder, do bands like Forward Unto Dawn revel in this tired old approach - I'd really like to know. Beyond that, there are a few moments where the band takes some extra effort to add experimental and progressive elements to the music. For instance, the track Concord & Dissolution adds some technical and melodic hints compared to tracks before it. Actually, if anything, its by far the best and most stand out track on the whole damn album - which is a shame considering it contributes the colossal amalgamation that these tracks are. Every song bleeds into each other making the whole thing feel like one big song rather then a album of any sort.  But this doesn't make ALPHA epic or anything, instead it further waters itself down by adding even more to its repetitive nature. Holy crap.

I'm not going to pretend I don't like some Hardcore or 'core' bands in general. Really, I do like a bit of everything - but I don't like everything of just one thing, if that makes sense. With ALPHA, I feel like I've heard almost everything this album has to offer before. Atop that, the band simply beats you over the head with way too much familiarity and comes off as just another 'core' band that sounds like every other.

REVIEW: The Whorehouse Massacre - Altar Of The Goat Skull VI

THE WHOREHOUSE MASSACRE - Altar Of The Goat Skull
Transcending Obscurity

I wasn't around when people were exchanging tapes, sadly. My transition from action figures and colorful cartoons into teenage curiosity, where most of my interests began, was at the peak of the Compact Disc's popularity. Most 'heavy' music at that time was neigh always Nu-Metal, the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkut, or P.O.D. However, I was lucky enough that, one fateful summer working at a Summer Camp, the sister of one of the counselors saw I was into Metal and handed me a CD-R full of some truly far-out bands. I'd not heard anything beyond the overly-produced messes and coming across bands like Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum, The Melvins, and such (remember, this was also before Youtube) was like discovering a new life-form. I'd say, it was the closest I ever got to experiencing something along the lines of the Tape-trade days. However, with The Whorehouse Massacre, I almost feel reminiscent of that first CD-R - experiencing something so different among the ever growing crowd.

Truth is, I'm not usually a huge fan of rawness in my music. I don't mind it sometimes so long as the entirety of the music doesn't get swallowed in a sea of caustic tin-box reverb. The Whorehouse Massacre isn't exactly guilty of this but there is undeniably a lot of rawness and amateurism to 'Altar Of The Goat Skull VI' - but, somehow, this just adds character to the whole experience. You see, whats even better then a overly-polished album that thousands are sunk into is a album in which the band takes a lot of personal and creative risks. Call it a lingering similarity but The Whorehouse Massacre's unnerving uniqueness and willingness to lay their creative style out is reminiscent of my all-time favorite band Celtic Frost (Or Hellhammer). In a lot of cases, this huge wall of sound and horror isn't exactly as dark or 'Blackened' as bands such as Old Witch  pull off but the creativity far outweighs that typical route. Much like the bands name 'Altar Of the Goat Skull VI' feels like a old, cheap, but endearing Grindhouse feature.

The album, of course, isn't made for those looking for a Grind or Core type of experience. I've said it before about other bands but the whole thing hits you like a bag of hammers, creative hammers. The Whorehouse Massacre puts up one of the most satisfying walls of deafening fuzz I've heard in a long time, I just love the Sludge tone they've pulled off here. No doubt, if this all sounds up your alley it'd be a shame for you not to pick it up or... download it, whatever you kids do these days.