REVIEW: The Projectionist - The GallowForest Eulogy

THE PROJECTIONIST
THE GALLOWFOREST EULOGY
APPALACHAIN NOISE RECORDS & TRUE PLAGUE RECORDS

I try my best to give every band or project a fair chance, but there are times when I just can't find much to salvage from a particularly fetid attempt. So, as you can probably gather, The Projectionist is a disaster – even though it all sits atop a bed of rather competent song-writing. I'll try not to linger, but here is my opinion.

Low-fi, standard black-metal fair – you have your ambient sounds, a waterfall I believe; there is a really nice, yet simple, guitar bit; and in typical DIY fashion, you can hear the sound the strings make as fingers slide across them, personally I enjoy this. Sadly, this is the first few seconds. You are immediately slammed with the most obtuse, artificially distorted, vocals I've had the displeasure of hearing. This auditory diarrhea, feels like a lame attempt at sounding 'black-metal' by adding a cheap filter instead of actually practicing and developing a genuine style or sound. It whines and screams over everything, sometimes drowning out the actual music completely in favor of providing you with some offensive, badly executed, wailing. It should all end there, but it really doesn't. To further assault the senses, there is absolutely no structure to the vocals – they just whine and boom and squelch over everything without much reason, almost like spoken poetry (but not). If you've ever heard a hip-hop song where the 'DJ' randomly yells their names over the song, at the least sensible time for absolutely no reason besides letting those listening know that they are there, its something like that, only much worse. At times, I feel like there was some attempt at a Silencer-esque stylistics, but I might just be giving The Projectionist more credit then is deserved. I usually use the descriptors 'hideous,' 'gut-wrenching,' and 'filthy' in a more positive context, as most metal uses its harsh vocals in a sensible and understandable way, but this is garbage.


Hilariously, as I was getting at earlier, the underlying music is pretty well done. I liked it, I thought there was potential – until those vocals hit me over the head with a rubber baseball bat. And I guess that sums this whole creation up rather well. It's like a rubber baseball bat. Sure, it looks like a bat, it somewhat functions as one, but there is no denying that its just a imitation of an actual baseball bat. Truly, The Projectionist is an imitation of a black-metal record. Almost as if someone heard the genre and assumed that it was the easiest route to releasing an album of their own.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Tears of Dymphna - Compilation for Suicide Awareness 2016

TEARS OF DYMPHNA
DIRENOTES COMPILATION 2016

Hello everyone, I have a very special announcement! We will be releasing a compilation album titled TEARS OF DYMPHNA later this month, a joint effort between Direnotes and many talented bands of many genres around the world. What makes this compilation very special, to me at least, is that it is being created in an effort to combat suicide. All money will be donated to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I've taken the time to write up a rather detailed 'mission statement' of sorts to help everyone understand what exactly it is we are doing:

Abuse, be it emotional, physical, or sexual, is far more rampant than it should be. People of all races, ages, and genders find themselves victims to it nigh daily – be it from strangers on the streets, online, at school, teachers, friends, and parents. Sometimes, the very institutions claiming to help others abuse those seeking aid, seeing those they take in as no more then money. More then often doctors and psychiatrists will prescribe mood altering, highly addictive, drugs in lieu of providing real help – making emotional distress seem more a sickness, a disease, a illness. Because of all this, most are afraid to seek help from their family and friends, even their spouses, in fear of seeming weaker or different in their eyes. They seek alternative means to alleviate their pain, put on faces just to feel or seem normal, while within the problem escalates and fear of everyday interactions manifest. Some are able to hide it better then others, true, but this doesn't make the problem less of a problem – it is still there, be it out in the open or hidden away.
Music is a monumental force, perhaps more then people realize, and capable of inspiring people to do things they once found impossible – including overcoming depression. Though metal is considered a harsher, more negative, genre compared to those more popular and prominent – it dares to touch upon subjects and express emotions that are rarely experienced in radio and television media. Some find this frightening or revealing, but more then often it provides a more honest and truthful experience for the listener. Flatly, people suffering from depression don't want to hear happy songs, they want to relate to what they are hearing – to know that they aren't alone and that someone in the world has been where they've been. Despite the media hype, whereas many have used the genre as a excuse for others actions, we believe that metal is far more capable of good then bad.
With TEARS OF DYMPHNA we want to give people the chance, no matter who or what they think they are, to experience something new in their lives and perhaps discover a new genre, song, artist, or band that can help them through the darker times that life inevitably provides. We've all been there, we'll all be there again, and its nice to have something to escape to. A song does not lie.
As well a 100% of the proceeds from TEARS OF DYMPHNA will be donated to the AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION. There were no crowd-funding goals, no hand-outs, or allusions to fame when putting together this compilation. Every band agreed to let us include their songs so that you might enjoy it, might find your new escape, and to help spread the word – that suicide is not the answer.


TEARS OF DYMPHNA will be released as both a digital album AND a limited 2-Disc Edition.

Featuring the following bands and projects (so far, and in no particular order):

Void Ritual
Blacklands
Khaos of Death
Doomcult
Dhampyr
Matravian
Flummox
The Hourglass
Allfather
Permafrost
Arakara
The Sequence of Prime
vod
A Prophecy Misread
Supreme Verdict
This Present Darkness
Recdoom



More personally, this compilation is specifically made in the memory of Joshua David Ham, who took his life at only 16 years old. Direnotes is a family operation, of sorts, and the few of us who write on here have long lived with the memory of his death. We wanted to do something to prevent others from doing the same as he had.

R.I.P. Josh, you will be missed.

INTERVIEW: Richie Brown of Mindscar

INTERVIEW
RICHIE BROWN
MINDSCAR

How do you achieve such a large sound with only three members? Especially during live gigs?

The same way that Rush does, by playing our asses off.

Now it's said that your cover art is completely comprised of blood and semen, what exactly was the motivation behind such a decision?

Creating What’s Beyond The Light took many personal sacrifices from an entire group of people. The large amount of blood used is symbolic of the large amount of energy that went into creating the album. Metallica mixed a small amount of their blood and semen together for the cover of Load and Behemoth used a small amount of Nergal’s blood in the cover painting for The Satanist. However, No one has ever used this much blood for an album cover. It’s alarming to see in person. Naturally, my semen was the icing on the cake.

Would you say artwork is just as big a part of music as the music itself?

Artwork is extremely important! You gotta have the visual aspect of things covered! However, music itself is the most important.

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Some notable, musical influences of mine are Trent Reznor, Danny Elfman, King Crimson, Dissection, Dimebag Darrell, Shostakovich, Jason Becker & Ihsahn from Emperor. Non-musical influences include movies, especially Alejandro Jodorowsky’s films, literature, science, nature and life experiences.

What band would you say was your biggest influence?


When I was a kid, I was heavily influenced by Metallica and Pantera. Metallica inspired me to begin playing guitar to begin with. Pantera inspired me to write heavier riffs and take my leads to the next level. These two bands were the bread and butter of my self-taught guitar education as a kid.

What's a day in the live of a Mindscar member like?

Each one of us is constantly writing new material, teaching music lessons and working towards improving at our instruments when we’re not on stage. We all like to keep busy and are all involved in other projects as well. I have recently been traveling and playing guitar live for Nader Sadek in different countries.

What the funniest or craziest thing you all did together as a band?

We accidentally took some crazy drugs that we would never knowingly take due to a miscommunication with someone who was providing hospitality for the band on tour. It was an experience that none of us will ever forget. We are all very health conscience to begin with so it was a scary surprise.

What's the most bizarre thing to happen while you were onstage?

Sharting in my pants. Haha! After years of touring, it was inevitable. All the belting from my diaphragm puts a lot of pressure on my guts. Now I literally don’t eat for about 6 hours before a show or else I’m in the danger zone.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk! Cheers!

REVIEW: Swampcult - The Festival

SWAMPCULT
THE FESTIVAL
TRANSCENDING OBSCURITY


The Festival is a multi-part take on Lovecraft's short-story of the same name by the wonderfully obscure SWAMPCULT. I've read the original myself, as I own far more Lovecraft collections then a person should, and a lot of the details are here – albeit a lot of liberties were taken with its scope. Whereas the original is painfully straightforward, much like a good deal of Lovecraft's tales - and no doubt the main reason why it never became as popular as his more fleshed out tales- SWAMPCULT tries to infuse a bit more purpose into it all. In fact, the CD release even includes a set of story cards to match the tracks and help fill you in on their version of the story. It's insanely clever and wildly entertaining to follow everything – it draws you in just like Mercyful Fate or King Diamond did with their story-based albums. Better yet, it's more than a loose story concept, you'll actually know what is going on if you follow the lyrics.


There isn't really that many bells, whistles, or theatrics here, however. You are pretty much getting what you'd expect from a band going by the name SWAMPCULT. It's filthy, yet somewhat basic, stuff. With the first couple of songs, the band sticks to a rather straight-forward, usually chuggy, riff and runs with it until the song is over.  It doesn't really give a good impression as to what to expect from The Festival, especially when you're hearing something that initially sounds rather plain and uninteresting. Thankfully that all changes rather quickly as the album begins starts get rather boisterous around the third or so track. In fact, at this point the vocal style becomes extremely reminiscent of Tom G. Warrior's Hellhammer days, almost to the point of duplication at times. Tracks like 'Chapter III – Al-Azif Necronomicon' sound like they could be right at home on Apocalyptic Raids – albeit they are far better produced. It's almost as if, at this point, you're less being told a story and more being given a sermon by some demented priest. That being said, the wonderful story focus suffers somewhat as the vocals become far more muddy, albeit more suitable for the genre. Likely, you'll be too caught up in the music and mayhem, at times, to really pay attention to what is going on with The Festival story-line.


Story based albums are always some of the best and best remembered as well, but when you pour a bevy of low-fi filth and wailing vocals atop it all – it can only get better (for me, at least). This isn't exactly the most original concept but it is highly effective, but even if it wasn't – the music itself is good enough to keep things going. High praise for SWAMPCULT's The Festival!

REVIEW: Pyromancer - Demo MMXV


PYROMANCER
DEMO MMXV
GODZ OV WAR


I don't usually judge a band, project, or artist by the quality of their demo. To me, a demo usually is the absolute base version of their work -a musical doodle, so to speak- and, as such, its not always fair to judge something that might change drastically over time. Then again, not all demos are as good as Pyromancers; not all albums are even as good as what I've heard on Demo MMXV. Yes, this means that I have yet again stumbled upon something which adds yet another exception to one of the many 'rules' I have established when it comes to reviewing albums.


This Demo is, for a lack of a better definition, black metal with a big bloody splash of death thrown in for good measure. Certainly, Pyromancer has quite a few influences at work with their album -no doubt the typical few that every black metal group or project swears by- but makes up for the typical tropes with a bevy of Celtic Frost styled bravery. Not that there are any pop song covers on this (though seriously Pyromancer, a black metal cover of 'Take on Me' would be legendary), but Demo MMXV really does include a few non-typical stylistics that you rarely see nowadays – especially since those devout to the sub-genre now shun change in general, for no apparent reason. Songs will, without rhyme or reason, suddenly switch gears and go-full on death metal. A change that should be abrupt and unfitting, but really shows that most of the differences between death and black are either superficial or strictly to do with certain vocal styles.


I personally loved the obscure contrasts within Demo MMXV. I feel that they added a lot of spirit, but that's not to say that the more pure blooded affairs present on this album are sub-par in any way. The Pyromancer duo seem to have a firm grasp on their chosen sub-genre and they know exactly what black metal should sound like. Yes, the production is bare-bones and dirt-poor but not so much as to, say, sound like the whole album is being played in a closet three rooms away. Xul at Studio Hell hit the mark with the low-fi filth-laden quality of it all, sacrificing none of the charm whatsoever.

Bloody, filthy, and full of PURE OCCULT FIRE!


REVIEW: Like Animals - Feral EP

LIKE ANIMALS
FERAL
SELF-RELEASE


'Core' genres are a tough game nowadays, be it metalcore, deathcore, or mathcore; a popular thing to hate on, due to the usual over-production and generally shallow 'easy' lyrical content. Even more-so, the target audience is more then usual teenagers, and those of us who've left that phase of our lives, sometimes not all that gracefully, harbor bitterness towards music which harks back to those turbulent times. I'm not saying there aren't things to love, some of my own favorite bands are metalcore (I.e. BLEEDING THROUGH and THE AGONIST), but yeah – core is a tough genre.


Bands like LIKE ANIMALS though, they seem to be pressing through nonetheless. This trio seems to be proud of where they are, and they aim for a more pure sense of the mathcore genre – especially with FERAL (which is the fourth in an 'animal' themed EP series.) Firstly, this EP does not bask in production values and absolute clarity in content. Everything sounds very true, like what you'd hear if you went to a live show rather then something laden in computerized effects and heavy keyboard work. Perhaps that is a product of the 'feral' theme, but I find that it works and experiencing 'raw' mathcore is extremely interesting, albeit  a bit odd.


You can pretty much expect the song-writing aspect of a band like LIKE ANIMALS, of whom have apparently played over 400 shows, to be pretty tight. These guys know how to play and they do so almost flawlessly. I found myself extremely impressed with the guitar and bass work, and since there isn't a whole lot of over-production, the bands skill is far more evident – though I'm pretty sure there is some layering, considering there are only three people at work here. As far as the drums, they seem rather standard fare – despite a healthy bit of boasting regarding their apparent 'spastic' nature. Honestly, they do what they need to do and not much else. There really isn't anything wrong with that, just nothing special. I really feel that, for a band with so much experience, not a whole lot of creative things are at work here. Sure, lyrical content and thematic focus is the main show here, but can you blame me for expecting a little bit more?


This EP does have a severe weakness though, which happens to be the singing vocals. At times they click, while at others the singer sounds as if he is droning on without much aim. This is also where the under-production rears its uglier side, at times the vocals actually feel as if the vocals are atop of the music, poorly blending into the tracks. I don't think LIKE ANIMALS intended this, but it really draws attention away from FERAL's better aspects. Things aren't always bad though, some songs actually have the feel of early THE AGONIST or DILLENGER ESCAPE PLAN albums, but those that don't – such as 'Lions Share' - just fall extremely flat and drag the entire songs down. Its a shame, really, since a lot of effort has been put into the lyrical themes of FERAL, but when the actual singing doesn't work – it makes a song pretty ineffectual. On the flip side, the harsher vocals are always excellent and always fit where they should.


I'll be honest, FERAL really isn't for everyone and it doesn't really do everything right. It's part of a series of EP's with extremely clever ideas behind them and has the potential to be the fantastic but this release just doesn't reach far enough to hit the intended mark. I love it's straight-forward sound, its DIY nature, and I can get behind all that, but I don't find FERAL all that special.

REVIEW: Heathen Beast - Rise of the Saffron Empire (EP)

HEATHEN BEAST
RISE OF THE SAFFRON EMPIRE
TRANSCENDING OBSCURITY

Political events within both the USA and Canada often leave us North Americans jaded and confused. Electing new officials usually boils down to who can lie best about who, what, how much money they have, and how fanatical their backers truly are. It has come to the point that media tycoons can take the stand simply because of their wallets, making the entire political system a joke. I don't really need to mention how bad, how thoroughly immature and shortsighted, it all is because you've definitely seen enough of it on your Facebook posts or Twitter. That being said, however, both Americans and Canadians seem to forget that they live in a rather safe environment. One that allows the expression of dislike, even hate, towards their government - and the ability to simply not participate when it comes to most governmental activities. Meanwhile, bands like Heathen Beast put themselves in danger by simply writing a three track EP about their disdain towards a terrible political situation. Yes, there are places where you don't even have the right to express your opinions through lyrics.

That being said, the fear and despair towards this situation does transfer into 'Rise of the Saffron Empire' very well. It makes for a very genuine  and inspiring experience, if not one that makes a person feel a tad guilty. There is just something about a band making a EP in lieu of their livelihood and lives. for the love of music, that puts everything in perspective. You can feel the sadness, almost melancholy, in the music as the band does their best to put their feelings towards a flawed, yet unmoving, system out in the open.

Rise of the Saffron Empire, though simple musically, is extremely captivating in its hybridized sound. Combining traditional Indian instrumentation with black metal stylistics (i.e. walls of distortion and gritty, ugly, vocals) is a truly genius idea and works surprisingly well. I'd never thought that a black metal track could sound so good without a traditional drum-set, but there exists one of this EP and it is truly fantastic - truly original. I'm simply blown away. The remaining tracks, however, are more traditional black metal fare, but of the highest possible quality.

As of writing this, it seems that Rise of the Saffron Empire may be Heathen Beast's final release. This is saddening, as I've fallen in love with what I've heard by them, but completely understandable considering their situation. Not a group to missed, even considering their brief existence.

REVIEW: Altarage - Nihil

ALTARAGE
NIHIL
SENTIENT RUIN LABORATORIES

Raw. That was my first impression when it came to listening to Altarage's 'Nihil' and that was only within the first few moments. This album is rough as hell! But, that really is a vague statement and, yeah, I guess it could be taken out of context; in a negative sense. So, let me clarify: Nihil is rough is all the right ways. A swirling, pounding, downward force of an album and, if you've missed this Spanish band's glorious debut, you are sorely missing out on one of the best death metal albums you'll ever hear.

When I say 'swirling, pounding, downward force' I am not over-exaggerating. Altarage's debut, from the get go, hits you over the head with walls of gritty distortion, a drummer that sounds like he is beating the living hell out of his set, and a questionable vocal style that works, but really starts to grow on you after a while. Hell with all that 'death metal' purity mumbo-jumbo going on these days, Nihil kicks you in the teeth with surgical precision - only to skew your sense of reality in a haze of nightmarish sound. Some tracks even feel as if they exist purely to bombard you with the nastiest grimiest sound possible - tracks like 'Vortex Pyramid' are even genuinely frightening in segments. Even with all the hundreds of albums I've listened to, on this blog and personally, I cannot believe some of the sounds made within these recordings were thought of by actual human minds. Its truly mind-blowing.

There really is no reason why, if you love death, or even sludge, that you shouldn't be at least giving this album a shot. Your out there bashing Deathcore? Well, this is truly everything that genre can never be (not that I hate Deathcore, I'm sort of down the road on it). Hell, it is even on cassette and vinyl for those of us who love our obscure media (I'm addicted, personally). Support the bands you love, and, for crying out loud, support bands like Altarage so that they can keep making albums like this.

REVIEW: Blacklands - Peaceful Shores

BLACKLANDS
PEACEFUL SHORES
BLACKLANDS MUSIC

Three years ago, I reviewed a Symphonic Metal album 'New Dawn' by a German band named Blacklands. I loved the band automatically. The lead singer at the time, Moja Nardelli, had a beautiful, powerful voice, one perfect for the Symphonic scene. They took a leap of faith to self-produce the way they had, and it is one that has brought us yet another powerful Blacklands album!

Their original bassist Rudiger Sartingen decided for his own personal reasons to leave the band, as did their original singer. Oliver Muller, the former bassist of Heavenward (who had been in the band with Thomas Kellener, Blacklands’ current drummer and Heavenward’s former drummer) replaced Rudiger. This replacement was not an unwise one by far. Moja was replaced by Tanja Magolei-Schupper, and this replacement was one amazing move!

While I had loved Moja’s voice, she was very one-trick pony. She was good for the Symphonic Metal scene, but there was really nothing else there (no disrespect meant in any way). Tanja on the other hand has the kind of voice that could go from soft-symphonic to powerful rock! And one thing I sincerely loved about Blacklands’ 'Peaceful Shores' was that no two songs are the same! They bring something new, raw and emotional with each new song.

The very beginning of their album is setup with a powerful track. And while that’s never a bad thing, I kind of dreaded that would be the only thing I would see. “A New Dawn” had a softer side, one that I had enjoyed. My favorite song by them was “Love Will Never Die”. So I hoped for another track like this one that I would enjoy. While there isn’t a track on this album that stands out just yet the way that track had, they are all just amazing.

After the first listen, I turned to my husband and told him, this album would be the perfect set-up for a movie. I have listened to this album at least seven more times, and I fully stand by this statement. I had so many writing ideas while listening to this album. Maybe my next novel will come with all this inspiration!

Thomas Kelleners, the band’s founder (who I have come to befriend), was kind enough to remember me from the first review I had given them, to send me this new album. And I tell you, had he not, I would have bought it anyway! As I have said before, I believe this band has a long, successful career ahead of them. I will be along the way to see it unfold!

-SAM HAM-


INTERVIEW with [RED] and [BLUE] of Puesdo/Sentai



Art by Grace Passerotti
*For those who haven’t heard of Pseudo/Sentai, could you introduce yourselves?

[BLUE] I am [BLUE]. I carry the battleaxe of bewilderment, and I find power in the contrast between light and dark. I am from an inconsequential town in the mid-west of the United States. As a civilian, I was interested in music, but never as interested as I am now.

I am [RED], wielder of the Firearm. This particular gunblade is fueled with magma and fire, which is not easy to load! Combining fire from the Firearm with gusts of air caused by my voice I am able to expel a pyrocyclone. 

*What inspired you to meld manga and metal, especially when it comes to a theme like Super-Sentai?

[RED]: We hold a great interest in art in its many, many forms. Manga is but one of many mediums we draw inspiration from. I think what inspires us most in Anime/Manga is the sense of urgency used to illustrate the seriousness of a circumstance. For the same reason, we look to metal for ideas concerning translation of that urgency.

[BLUE]: Both of us have lived complicated lives after being tasked with saving the world and the Loracle taught us many interesting stories... it seems her knowledge of the universe and even multiverse is almost endless. We scribe these stories in our language through song and it makes sense to share them with the world. It fits with the idea of manga because of the rapid ideas that get fired out in that medium. We don't necessarily consider ourselves a metal band, though we are heavily influenced by metal. Often we are too abrasive for non-metal fans so it's easier to loop us in with that area of music.

*How did a project like Pseudo/Sentai begin?

[BLUE]: The appearance of mysterious instrumental weaponry thrust this project into our lives. [RED] and I ended up in the central nervous system of a strange ghost/computer named the Loracle. We spent years studying stories from other galaxies and systems while training our minds to handle our deep insignificance in this multiverse before venturing out to warn the world of the danger that it faces. This is not an easy task.

[RED]: As an opposition to Eunuch Rock. You know in your heart what I speak of.

*It isn’t exactly common for a band to release their music for free, at least not entire albums, so why go the free route (not that I’m complaining)?

[RED]: Getting strangers to listen to music is like pulling teeth as it is. There is just a lot of music in general floating around on the net, so we wanted to increase the likelihood of civilians finding it. The world faces many threats and people need to be aware of them!

[BLUE]: The Sentai operate at a loss. It is more vital for the message to be heard than it is for us to make back 20% of what we spend. Can you believe that we were told that we must save the world by a sort of computerized ghost entity, whatever she is, and that despite existing for thousands of years, she had never invested any money? In anything? Just because she is logical, doesn't mean she is always practical. I wouldn't trade this mission for anything in the world, but it can be frustrating sometimes.

*Psuedo/Sentai is heavily reminiscent of Shaolin Death Squad, is there any connection or inspiration there?

[BLUE]: Shaolin Death Squad is a band that I have heard, but not really listened to much. I would say it is more likely they share some of our influences than us being inspired by them. Obviously Mr Bungle, Naked City, and Dillinger Escape Plan are groups that they also seem to enjoy. Shaolin occasionally fall into 'weird on purpose' territory while we try to keep things as fluid as possible no matter how far we stray from what others may be accustomed to.

[RED]: I’ve heard a few of their songs but that was years ago. I remember them being pretty damn good, though.

*It’s sort of difficult to pin-point the exact genre-definition of Psuedo/Sentai, what would you say the band would be classified as?

[RED]: Squad Rock!!!

[BLUE]: I'm certain that I hear our music in a different way than most would, because we craft every single detail and repeatedly listen until even the most abstract moment sounds insanely catchy to us. The other issue is that many words already have associations for people. I often consider our music doom pop, but doom has already been used to define groups like Candlemass or Paul Chain. We do not sound like those groups. Other terms we've used is Aftermath Rock, Apocalyptic Rock, Naught Metal, among other things.

*Being such a non-typical band, what other bands could you say influenced Psuedo/Sentai’s creation – if any?

[BLUE]: The Mars Volta, Mastodon, King Crimson, about a hundred more. (There isn't a band with that name though, I mean this figuratively.) I'd say the stories we are taught by the Loracle are the things that influence us the most.
[RED]: Other than the bands already mentioned: the Beatles, Frank Zappa, Fair to Midland, Blind Guardian, Queen, Bowie, System of a Down, Black Sabbath, Styx… the list goes on in a big way! We love a lot of music.

*Is ‘Enter the Sentai’ the end, or just the beginning of Psuedo/Sentai?

[RED]: We are in an interesting era right now. For the first time ever we don’t really have the next one planned and already in progress. It’s been that way for the entire time we’ve been a band. I like that the future is uncertain, but the Sentai is far from accomplishing its mission. [BLUE] is still living in Brooklyn while I have made base out in Portland, so we’re holding down the fort in difference sides of the country. A lot of what happens next depends on how well “Enter” is received. 
[BLUE]: Both. It is just the beginning, but also the end of a particular era. I'm not sure details are the best thing to talk about right now.

*Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, it is extremely appreciated!

[BLUE]: We appreciate you helping us spread the word. You have no idea how much danger awaits this planet.


[RED]: We are here to save the world!

REVIEW: Gjendød - Gjendød

GJENDØD
GJENDØD
HELLTHRASHER PRODUCTIONS

It seems 'traditional' black-metal is making a comeback of sorts, with bands like WODE clearly looking to seep through the mass of progressive and atmospheric additions that have practically drowned out the basic constructs of the genre - a process that has been underway since Dimmu Borgir decided to be more friendly to the masses with Death Cult Armageddon. However, I can't vouch for if that album was friendly or not, in truth but it's mainstream exposure and symphonic-like vocal sections really inspired a lot of people (I know they weren't the first, but they were one of the most known at the time). Anyhow - no, I don't hate progressive or atmospheric black-metal but it is nice to see that a more pure-blooded approach has begun to resurface - Gjendød being a prime example.

Though brief, this self-titled release really captured what I'd always thought black-metal to be. It's ugly, unfriendly, and completely unorthodox. The musical structure is, as expected, frantic and edgy - if not a bit simplistic with it's wall-of-distortion approach. There is a lot of sound here and it's meant to be loud and brash, and the vocals meant to be strange and otherworldly. There are no clean breaks or strategic build-ups. It's mostly a expression rather then an attempt at song-writing genius - because Gjendød really just doesn't need to be that, at all.

So, in that regard I give it praise. But as such, it carries the downside of the entire genre as well - the very downsides that experimentation has somewhat attempted to weed out over the years. Gjendød is unfriendly, Gjendød is unorthodox - but in such a way that it's utterly expected and almost lacks anything truly special. It's a wall of sound, its thrashy, and the vocals are harsh and ugly - but, on the other side of the coin, it's all familiar. There isn't anything you'll hear here that you haven't heard somewhere else in abundance.

For those looking back to a simpler and more pure form of black-metal, but for us who look for something a little different - Gjendød simply won't fit the bill.

REVIEW: Cairiss - Fall (EP)

CAIRISS
FALL (EP)
UNSIGNED

It would be so simply to call Cairiss black-metal, and it would certainly save me a lot of time. However, it wouldn't do the band justice since the majority of it's content is along the lines of symphonic, rather then black. Now, we've all heard of that terrible sub-genre they call symphonic black-metal but I wouldn't exactly say that Cairiss follows that road - mostly because Cairiss doesn't suck. Instead you are getting a sort of blackened symphonic atmospheric jumble and I'm quite alright with that.

In the whole day and a half I've had this EP, I've not been able to put it down. Usually when it comes to these vocal-driven albums, I'm all about praising the vocalist (by the way Freyja Brown is downright spectacular with both singing and harsh screams), but I was extremely impressed by the care and talent that went into writing these three tracks. Ethan Bishop and Martin Williams have really done something special with the guitar work here, the opening to 'The Lives He Stole' is extremely reminiscent of some of the clean work I've heard on Devin Townsend's 'A Monday' (that lowly guitar whine, I love that) - with a whole lot of Opeth thrown in. I know, I just compared a blackened band to a Devin Townsend song but, seriously, listen to it and you'll know what I'm talking about. As for Connor Frapwell, don't worry - any black-metal drummer is worthy of a medal in my books.

What is really special about Cairiss, to me, is that the band took the time to have their album produced right. Too much of the time, a band labels themselves as black-metal just because they have zero production done on their tracks or were too lazy to do anything more then record a mass amalgamation of sound on a stereo-mic tape player. Some people might like this, but I don't - to a degree - and to see this little blackened band pop-up out of nowhere with some extra care put into their sound, well it's almost amazing. Though that certainly doesn't mean that this is the first time, or last time, I'll hear it done.

What is criminal about this band, is that they don't have any sort of physical release as of yet. 'Fall' is no doubt one to be bought, treasured. It is such a spectacular piece of work, I can't hardly recommend it enough. Buy it digital for now, but save that extra bit for when Cairiss can please those of us who want to own it on cassette or vinyl.

REVIEW: Pseudo/Sentai - Enter the Sentai

PSEUDO/SENTAI
ENTER THE SENTAI
TRULY TARCON RECORDS

It isn't often that a band so openly embraces a gimmick, even rarer that it's all backed up by some truly excellent song-writing. I'll admit, I had my reservations jumping into Enter the Sentai, as I'm not the biggest fan of either Manga or Super-Sentai (or it's Americanized counterpart 'Power Rangers'). However, I am a fan of Ghost, Mr. Bungle, and other bands such as Flummox and Shaolin Death Squad. And, wow, does Pseudo/Sentai ever bleed that same archaic schizophrenic fusion-laden energy.

You aren't going to get any anime-theme-esque tracks here, for those who are worried about such a thing. No, Pseudo/Sentai is grounded in a more modern progressive styling, plenty of clean singing and it's all in English for those of us who couldn't be bothered to learn another language. The silliness of it's content comes from it's lyrics and, almost musical (as in movie musical) vocals. From what I can gather, there is a story here, but I was too engrossed in the music to put two and two together. I can only imagine that things would've been made even better if I'd paid attention to it.

The absolute best part of Enter the Sentai is that it doesn't like to stay put. When downtime does present itself, there are genuine attempts to keep the energy alive with sudden tempo changes and almost jazz-like intervals and, during said intervals, every instrument truly has it's chance to shine. It is rare to hear a bass guitar being pushed from it's stance as a rhythm/bottom-end instrument to being far more prominent then a guitar. On Enter the Sentai, this happens. There are just as many bass solos as there are guitar solos and, all the while, Pseudo/Sentai's drummer is working overtime. In fact, I'd have to say the band's drummer is probably one of the most underrated around - considering the band doesn't really share their names for this particular project. Oh, and the fact that this entire album is going to be free? What?

Honestly, I have a hard time describing these experimental bands - especially when they work so damn well. So, the verdict is: check out Pseudo/Sentai and don't forget to get the album digitally on July 8th. Really though, is there a reason not to?

THOUGHTS ON: Babymetal - Metal Resistance... (All of it)

I post this as a collection of thoughts, rather then a actual review because of one simple fact: I don't believe this album deserves an actual review. Do take note that I've never hated Babymetal and I've stuck up for them quite a bit, because face it - Pop/Metal hybrids are not that uncommon and I don't really get why anyone ever thought they were. Even Devin Townsend, one of the biggest names out there, has pretty much done it. Don't believe me? He started the slow drip with 'Synchestra,' then went full on with one of his most popular albums 'Addicted' and continued the whole Pop/metal hybrid thing with 'Epicloud' and even 'Skyblue.' There are countless examples, even In Flames did it with the track Dead End on 'Come Clarity.' The Pop/metal argument is stupid, and so are you for participating in it - do your homework because the damned sub-genre has been there since before it existed in the first place. You want don't little girls doing metal? Listen to Murp and live with it, this is here and this exists.

Rant Done.

Now, the album? It's garbage. 'Metal Resistance' is a collection of bits and pieces, songs constructed from a bunch of fools doing a google search for 'popular metal sub-genres' and then writing a bunch of random songs to fit. It's almost as bad as the band's utterly scripted response during interviews, where when asked what their favorite band/influences are they shout out the easiest response in the history of mankind - 'Metallica!' Seriously. Worst yet, they got some genuine talent behind these tracks and all of it's guest musicians are horribly wasted on the most cookie-cutter, generic, songs you could possibly think of. What the hell is Dragonforce doing here? Clearly they haven't become so irrelevant that they have to try and skulk into something so fueled by internet opinion? Well, here is my opinion: Road to Resistance is a shitty uninspired track designed to lure Dragonforce fan's into buying this album.

Sure, I mentioned in an earlier article that KARATE was a great single, and it still is. However, the track poorly reflects the rest of the album - any track would. Why? Absolutely nothing is connected in any way, at least not one comprehensible to the human mind. Every single song is a completely different sub-genre, aside from a few utterly generic J-Rock songs that really just divert Babymetal from it's original basis: being a fucking metal band. The worst of it all is 'Meta Taro,' in which Babymetal takes a shoddy attempt at Viking Metal. It is painful, so hard to describe that I'm actually repeatedly deleting lines trying to think of the words to describe what I've heard - so here it is: Corporate Kids do Amon Amarth. There you go. I said it. If you think that's bad enough, they even dabbled in ambient Tesseract-style song-writing with Dusk Til Dawn, but at least that didn't make me cringe. Oddly, every track seems to have completely different production values attached to it - making some songs sound insanely better, some more over-produced, and others far worst then the rest of this short-sighted amalgamation.

The worst part of all this is that Babymetal's initial album actually had some flow to it, it all fit together and it all made sense as a whole. Most songs were catchy, if not simple, and you could listen to a song and actually know what album you were listening to. It was a album, not a collection of corporate mandated musical experiments. Speaking of corporate, I can sense the presence of Amuse, Inc here. This whole album stinks of their short-sighted meddle - no doubt their inexperience with the genre leading to some desperate do-it-all deduction, possibly since these girls are growing up and maturing as women. Guys, they say 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' for a reason. Metal has always been OK with older men, women, or otherwise - there is a place and no, I personally wouldn't mind seeing Babymetal go on into the far future. But, shovel-albums like this just don't fly once people actually sit down and realize what they're listening to.

My Thoughts Summarized:

REVIEW: Thy Worshiper - Klechdy

THY WORSHIPER
KLECHDY
ARACHNOPHOBIA RECORDS

Please excuse me ahead of time, I'm but merely a humble Canadian and so my knowledge of the greater world is somewhat limited. I do not rightly know the origins of Thy Worshiper's particular ethnic style, its particular influences, or even the language it's tracks are sung in.

Klechdy is the fourth studio album from the band Thy Worshiper, the members of which seem to be either from Dublin (Ireland), Wroclaw, or both - the information is somewhat vague. They play a strange mix of folk/progressive/black metal, combining themes of occultism, mysticism, and the archaic to create a unique yet uneasy atmosphere of their own.  It's an odd album, yes, but not one you'd want to pass on. Especially not if you are, like me, into the use of less common folk instruments and simpler song-writing.

If you're coming into Klechdy expecting some sort of blast-fest of double bass and 8-string guitars, you can probably expect to be disappointed - highly disappointed. This album takes its time, especially to breath it's sullen atmosphere, before it even dares touch upon the likes of anything one would consider 'metal.' There is a whole lot of ethnic singing here, which remains the primary focus for much of the album, sung by a multitude of Thy Worshiper's members and when that isn't happening, you're probably about to experience one of the album's few peak moments. Granted, the singing is great and almost lulling (I fell asleep several times attempting to listen, not sure if that is good or bad)  but it's these moments you are waiting for. I have to say, I absolutely love the fast, heavier, moments on Klechdy. They seem to be crafted so that a person doesn't quite mind their repetition, because each of them is, in fact, utterly simple. So you get a bit of chug, some squeals, and a few moments of death metal vocalization or maybe even blackened vocals - right to the point, mostly. Problem is, getting there is more then tedious at times. The first couple of tracks breezed by without me even knowing they were two separate tracks, it wasn't until 'Marzanna' that I realized they'd passed me by.

To me, it takes a bit too long for the more interesting songs to begin. I had to wait quite a while before I heard anything too far from slow plodding guitar and bass and ethnic singing. Things get very repetitious, and after a few listens, whole sections of the album feel like little more then gratuitous filler - especially considering the fact that tracks can go on for upwards of 11 minutes. This is a little ridiculous seeing that Klechdy has twelve tracks, and half of them could comprise a entire neatly cut full-length album without issue. Actually, if one was to take the 7 longest tracks, you would have the albums best tracks. The rest? As I said, filler.

Great talent, song-writing, and production but there is just too much of it here. And, it makes the album feel unnecessarily boring rather quickly. The ethnic diversity, occultism, and here-and-there heavy sections are certainly a draw for Klechdy, but it's overstuffed and tracks bleed into each other far too much. If you feel like listening to a LOT of the same thing, over and over, it's right up your alley. However, for anyone else it's a lesson learned: way too much of a good thing.

MIDNIGHT MOVIE: Godzilla Vs. Biollante

MIDNIGHT MOVIE
GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE
TOHO

There are few Godzilla movies I haven't seen, and as such I'd like to think I understand the structure of a Godzilla movie by now. Basically, each film boils down to setting up some target, human or otherwise, for the ol' God Lizard to beat on for a while and, defeat or not, he just walks back into the sea by the end. Occasionally you might need to watch another movie to fully grasp whats going on or why the military hasn't fully blown the crap out of a city destroying super-monster, such as the last few titles in the Heisei era movies (which had a somewhat interconnected series of plots), but even with that in mind the general plot rarely changes. Though truly, what happens in-between is usually inconsequential for your enjoyment when it comes to the action -but there for those who do like a story and are more tolerant when it comes to the series shortcomings in terms of writing. What's truly interesting is that, at one point, there were so many Godzilla movies being made that Toho actually had a contest in which they asked fans to send in their stories. The winner, as you probably suspect, got to have a somewhat familiar version of their entry made into the next movie. This is how Godzilla Vs. Biollante came to be, and began a steady trend of 'evolving' monsters for Godzilla to battle.

As menacing as a giant flower can get.
Before you jump into this movie, realize that Toho did a lot of hopping around when it came to if
Godzilla was truly evil, good, or a neutral force. The first film saw him as a simple mutation that simply wrecked havoc, a metaphor for nuclear warfare but not truly evil. Sometimes he consciously attacked humanity, like with the earlier Heisei films, while at other times, he was a natural defender of earth and, thus, humanity was just in the way when it came to him walking about. One film even had him possessed by the spirits of the dead! Continuity is really not important here, and when Toho tried it, things just got more confusing - especially when the plots start to rely on the existence of multiple Godzilla monsters. Luckily, Godzilla Vs. Biollante really has little ties to any other movie - despite resting in the middle of the Heisei era. Oh, and the reason I mentioned all this is because, when it comes to this particular film, Godzilla is the villain whilst Biollante is technically the hero.

The film begins with a series of plants being developed by a scientist (name: Shiragami) alongside all of them, look fantastic - even when she's little more then a rose growing in the water.
his daughter in which are capable of growing in harsh conditions such as deserts, but mega-corporate baddies decide to try and take it for themselves - killing poor Shiragami's daughter. Naturally, he takes a side-ways approach to his grief and implants a rose with his dead daughters cells. This traps her soul, which is genuinely interesting as it adds a supernatural edge to the whole move; a wildly fresh approach compared to what came before. In-between there is something about developing a bacteria to repel, or kill, Godzilla but that only serves as a way to get Shiragami Godzilla's cells after the rose is almost destroyed during a tremor. Basically, he's a super-scientist and they need him, despite his work being with plants and not bacteria. Corporate baddies, from ultra-generic 'Bio-Major', come to take his research but the Godzilla cells make the plants mutate and they attack back. It takes off into the lake, and there you go, the film's newest monster is rather neatly setup. Plus the practical effects for Biollante,

Now at this point, Godzilla has been sunken into a volcano and had been worrying the JSDF (Japanese Self-Defense Forces). This has lead them to start developing the clearly-going-to-be-useless bacteria to defeat Godzilla. When Bio-Major can't get their super-plants from Shiragami, they plant bombs at the base of the volcano and threaten to awaken Godzilla if they don't get them. To me, it's probably the best use of Godzilla I've seen in one of these movies. Without treading old territory, it connects the human element properly - rather then having humanity sitting there and watching, always inexplicably explaining things they can't possibly have the information to know, like they do in almost every movie. Oddly, GvB does try to remedy just how the human element knows anything about Biolantte as well by including a psychic character that sort of connects with the creature at times. Clever.

Biollante absolutely wrecks Godzilla...
When Godzilla does make his appearance in this, he is straight up evil. He destroys just to destroy and the film tries desperately to make you root for it's semi-hero monster. But, this makes way for one of the film's biggest flaws: Biollante is too much of a force. She comes and she absolutely wrecks Godzilla -spitting acid, attacking him with tentacles, biting him to absorb is cells. It gets to the point that Godzilla literally decides to turn and run. Of course, Biollante's exit is just as confusing since she just poofs into spores for no apparent reason (they try to tie this into the plot to Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla but that movie's plot is... a review for another day). It's as if the creators realized what they were doing and went 'whoa, um, we might have gotten a little too excited about this new monster.' It also marks itself as one of the weaker endings during the Heisei era of films, as GvB proves to be very anti-climactic when it comes to monster battling. And, my god, they really tried to make Godzilla look less-then-bad in the final moments but failed miserably.

So, oddly, the human element is strong in this title - not something you usually get with these films. The effects are fantastic and the story is initially, but it has a lot of trouble finding a good place for it's monster battling and instead puts it secondary to the plot of evil corporations and super-plants. Regardless, it's one of the better Godzilla films and I highly recommend it for those who are fans or looking for a good B-movie fix.


DIRENOTES RATING: 7/10