Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CTP - 004 - II: Aeternus - Beyond The Wandering Moon Patches

Official Aeternus - Beyond The Wandering Moon artwork patches. 4" x 4".

$6 USA / $7 ROW. Postage Paid. Limited to 100 copies.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Venom - Cast In Stone

Venom is a band whose contributions to metal are so powerful that it is difficult to accept that they are also guilty of releasing “Cast In Stone.” The year was 1997, and with worm Castings on Stone the band released their first full-length album to showcase the Cronos-Abaddon-Mantas lineup since “Possessed” back in 1985. Reuniting with the same intensity, chemistry, and passion displayed by a divorced couple chatting while picking up their children from a neutral location, Venom offers definitive proof that an all star lineup can mean absolutely nothing. Sometimes people wonder how bad music can really be when everything is produced fine and everyone pretty much knows how to play their instruments - this is the answer. While production and performance traits are typically regarded as strengths, they only make things worse here by allowing Venom to more clearly convey how awful the album is. Don’t waste your time listening to this. Each one of the 14 songs is awful, each riff is awful, and each syllable gargling or growling out of Cronos’s mouth is awful. Ideas like “passion” and “feel” can be really intangible with music until you hear an album like this that is completely lacking in both. As the band goes through the motions of making music, everything becomes so predictable that you essentially suffer through the entire faux-Venom album just by hearing the first note. Similar to post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Venom probably reunited for around one hour and simply recorded the meeting because there couldn’t have been any premeditated thought behind writing these songs. This process would have meant that everyone was on the same page musically, so the band had to devolve into predictable, pathetic, and poppy song structures and rock pastiches. Now, no one can accuse Venom of having ever been a technical band. But, when you have endless pop-rock styled “hooks” in your songs and pandering choruses, it is a depressingly far cry from the band’s influential and edgier past. Compare the gang chants on the infantile song “Infectious” that stupidly spurt out each of the word’s syllables “In” “fec” “tous” every fifteen seconds, with the classic “Teacher’s Pet” where gang chants of drunken revelry create the sense of genuine juvenile lust and ribaldry. This album is a shamefully bald attempt to go in a more commercial route to become popular again. On each song you can tell which small bit of crap you are supposed to remember and shout to your headbanger friends. Interviews from around the time even show Abaddon citing Marilyn Manson as an influence. If that doesn’t make you reach for the nearest antacid to counteract the vomit in the back of your throat, then maybe this album is for you. But when you have shit like the two notes that make up half of “Domus Mundi” farting around until the sun explodes, it is hard to imagine anyone liking this. (That particular song also has an appearance of “shitty 90’s robot voice,” which for those too young to know, was a megaphone type vocal effect used to ruin songs before musical criminals adopted autotune.)

There is a rocky path for a band once on the extreme end of metal trying to become relevant again as quickly and effortlessly as possible. First, Venom starts ripping unrelated pages out of books like “stock rock riffs that people who hate metal think are heavy” and “song structure for the cognitively impaired” then throws these page into an ugly hat to write the next song. I challenge anyone not to become irritated after the 500th time that: Cronos says “You’re All Gonna Die,” Mantas plays the same pentatonic guitar solo again, or the band uses an obviously stock song idea. For examples of the default-setting nature of the album you don’t even need to look further than the song intros. Clean intro? Check, “Destroyed & Damned.” Drumroll intro? Check, “All Devils Eve.” Breathing intro? Check, some other shitty song. And there’s more to hate! Each one of these intros is completely uninspired and could have been taken from a small cheap sound library and pasted before the songs that also might themselves be compiled from a rotten sound library. This sense of automation is so strong in the songwriting that it would seem like the band was engaging in self-parody - that is if it weren’t so obviously poppy mainstream pandering. One interesting thing is how parts of the album manage to stick out as particularly musically repulsive in an album that has so little musical merit. In fact, the especially awful parts are the only thing clearly showing that the rest of the album is a step above worthlessness.

Even the cliched Eastern mood of the final outro serves as another wink to the listener that says “look at us, we are safe, please buy our album.” Imputing these kinds of selfish motivations onto a series of notes is completely justified here because of how enjoyably filthy Venom used to be. For those who haven’t suffered enough and need more proof, there is also a bonus CD metastization of re-recorded songs that really help to show how a band can destroy songs without playing any notes incorrectly or making productions mistakes. The intro to the second CD is also helpful as an obvious sign of the band’s attitude when they have a spooky voice announce “Ladies and Gentlemen, from the very depths of Hell, Venom!” A window into the band’s thoughtprocess “we are still relevant, look how 90’s tough we are, pay attention” and a stark contrast from the moody monologues from the band’s past. To be clear though, the band’s past doesn’t make this album any worse or better, Castings on Castings would still be an awful abomination of pop ethos imposed onto formulaic metal if an unknown band had released it. That would be fitting too, because this release deserves to be unknown. I’m going to bury this album at the bottom of a 10-pound vat of hemorrhoid cream. That way, if I ever get a hemorrhoid so severe that I need to use ten pounds of cream, I can make myself feel better by seeing Castings at the bottom, all creamy, and thinking: “hey, things could be worse.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Severed Receptors - Severed Receptors

I never thought I would hear back from the Psychobliss crew after the Dreams of Dystopia incident. I reached out to Dan Stollings during that time to let him know we'd love to hear his next output and there were no hard feelings meant. I never actually expected to be contacted. There was a single new Psychobliss track after the EP that made it's way onto YouTube that actually seemed to indicate some progression in the right direction and then all went dark for a bit. Severed Receptors is the current incarnation of Psychobliss. The name change is appropriate, as the band sounds a whole lot different here. Severed Receptors, the self titled debut is a step in the right direction for the band sonically. However, it's weird. I actually found Psychobliss to be more entertaining, even if Severed Receptors is technically a much better effort. Psychobliss was a really weird textural presentation that failed with the force of a pumpkin being hurled into the air by a trebuchet and consequently coming to rest embedded in the car windshield of the siege device's operator. But at least it was weird. Severed Receptors is generic in many ways, even if it outwardly doesn't appear so. The melodies and rhythms are straight out of the early 00's wave of bands that had that groovy kind of Gothic and dark sound. Within Temptation, Leaves' Eyes... Tristania and Evanescence... the list runs on.

To touch on specific songs, "I Become The Night," has the most memorable intro, but it stands out from a lot of the other tracks in that there is nothing anywhere else on the release that is as memorable or even comes close to being as strong of a hook. It reminds me of some of the slower, catchier parts of Israthoum's Black Poison and Shared Wounds. Opening track "Nothing Remains" is the most black metal track here but the repetitiveness is a bit obnoxious. "Blood Descendants" is basically Evanescence with some screamed parts. Kyla's clean vocals are best on "Ruins of Eden" and she definitely sounds a lot stronger as a vocalist but there is still a sense of reservedness. In some moments, such as midway though this track where she more-than-less talks her way through the lyrics, her vocals can sound a bit amateurish. Her screamed vocals aren't exceptional in any way, can be a bit monotonous, lack inflection and be held back by the strict rhythmic patterns she presents. More flow would add some emotion and depth to what is essentially presented as the standout feature of the release. The music is generally a salad to feature her vocals. Dan Stollings once again offers some vocals, here in "Cold and Callous," which aren't too bad.  On Dreams... he sounded impish, sickly, shy and nasally all at once so it's a big improvement. Another standout aspect of Severed Receptors are some of the in between song ambiance and atmosphere, which is actually done really well but might be over-used. It cuts up the flow and pacing. Some tracks would be best to simply just launch into, like "I Become The Night."

If the Stollings and their now complete band can imbue some of the strange timbres and textures of the Psychobliss material, with the better production and the simple verse-chorus form evidenced in the Severed Receptors material and still somehow manage to incorporate some of the moodiness, they'd have a much more original and distinguishable sound. Still, I don't see this appealing to fans of black metal, or to anything particularly avantgarde, since the material isn't complex or inventive. It's really only going to be enjoyed by fans of the above mentioned bands that want something a little heavier but are too afraid to delve into the real underground. If Severed Receptors can find some sway with these listeners through radio or mainstream publications, their name might become a common utterance in the halls of middle schools and amongst teenagers sporting too-baggy black jeans, wallet chains and spiked chokers. To be fair though, I haven't seen anyone in a hot topic in years and, unfortunately, there is a possibility that Severed Receptors has missed their chance to cash in on this trend.

I was originally going to correlate the whole Stollings / Psychobliss / Severed Receptors saga to the classic 1935 The Bride of Frankenstein but I felt it was going to be too much of stretch to cast Dan Stollings as Dr. Frankenstein's Monster and Kyla as The Monster's Mate since I couldn't really figure out who Dr. Frankenstein would be played by. Abstractly, Dr. Frankenstein could be represented by Severed Receptors - the band as a single entity - and the band actually created the monsters out of two people who prior were normal. It was a humorous thought for me to think of it that way but because this was better than I expected, I can't really call the Stollings' monsters anymore. They're more like Harker and Mina of Dracula fame. Let's hope Van Helsing shows up at some point to remedy some of their musical woes.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Treeweaver - Spirit Worlds

After a brief intro consisting mostly of circusy laughter that may well have been sampled from an episode of the Goosebumps tv show, Treeweaver briefly unveils a wild jangling of riffing with fast paced, energetic, and off kilter notes. This demo could be described as psychedelic black metal. There is an odd and almost keyless melodic approach involving big jumps and exceptionally wide vibrato notes. Reinforcing this mood is how the percussion is clearly programmed, but comes across more like a drum machine. Fortunately, it gives the release a slight industrial edge more often than a cheap one. However, while “Spirit Worlds” has some interesting ideas, they are too sparse, disconnected, and also frontloaded (especially with how the first track is so much stronger than the others.) This scattered fourteenish minute long demo can easily be seen as an ill omen for the project’s future.

An infatuation with homogenized rhythm is a major problem here, and it cuts away the strength of the more intricate melodies. For example, there can only be so many constant eighth note snare or other percussion hits holding hands with changing guitar notes in a song before things get irritating, see “Silencing Void Dweller.” Treeweaver essentially takes a black metal approach in this sense, but isn’t quite black metal enough to build that familiar and imposing soundwall. The result is that the disjointed melodies don’t translate in the same satisfying way that you’d hear from a more heavily industrial black metal approach or a more tremolo oriented band pulling off the same kangaroo melodic jumps. Nightbringer is a better example of the latter. Treeweaver could also benefit from a more rhythmic approach as the melodies lend themselves to a more ample use of rests and varying note lengths.

A minor, but revealing issue is how the third track’s intro is not at all incorporated with rest of the song, and sits as a textural experiment included almost as an afterthought, like an awkward acquaintance that should have been cropped out of a photograph. In the more interesting pieces, the songs maintain energy while touching wild heights yet retaining a heavy low contrast. For example, in “Death Stares Back” this comes through by having eccentric riffs that sometime connect well together, and their high energy helps level out the natural aversion to the overly random chromatic flavor.

On the production end, each instrument eschews bass tones; the crows-stuck-in-a-sewer-drain vocals, guitars, and even the snare heavy kit. Treeweaver ought to throw some more toms into the beats and pour some Budweiser on the sickly bass because this demo desperately needs a thicker low end. Even the lower growling vocals feel thin in this way, which also adds to the industrial black metal feel but subtracts from the music.

Even though the melodies could be technically called dissonant, it is better to think of them as tangential, since that carries less musical connotations. The closest comparison may be something like Trey Azagthoth trying to emulate Furze or Brown Jenkins, especially given healthy population of feral guitar solos that help break up the more intractable riffs. These solos fit really well despite the fact that the riffs have little in common with Morbid Angel other than being metal.

Overall, “Spirit Worlds” is interesting, but this neutral demo’s flaws leave me skeptical. Sure, there is obvious creativity here but it is poorly executed to the point where there is little satisfying momentum to speak of.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Endsight - A Vicious Circle

Ensight are a metalcore/melodic death metal band, pretty much the epitome of the stuff that's called "Gothencore." While I don't normally cite the press quotes in a review, this band's style is characterized by how they fall short of their influences. They play some sort of streamlined metalcore following Killswitch Engage, but they lack the understanding of the function of the chorus - a recurring melodic hook that holds the song together from all sides. They also don't favor breakdowns, a simple groove element that holds together many of Killswitch's heavier songs. They hardly remind me of Darkest Hour - a cited influence and one of my favorite bands - they completely lack that sense of melody, keeping melody up mostly through some directionless string-skipped fragments and clean bits. Hardly a single melody is developed, never mind a sequence of them. That brings us to the primary influence of Gothencore, At the Gates. Despite being a relatively cookie cutter metalcore band, this band has none of the punkish energy necessary to drive the style. Yeah, they copy a few ATG riffs, but they feel more stale than the pure worship of Casketgarden. The plastic production really doesn't help the lack of energy, it's way too clean yet hardly forceful.

Endsight focuses on a lot of slightly atmospheric chordal riffs that are common in hardcore and metalcore to set the tone and build a feeling within a song, but they alternate them hastily with directionless and mismatched string skippers. Neither of those has much effect, there are a few moments when it feels like they might be getting on the right track, but they never get there. Part of it is that the band has little sense of dynamics - even if the drum speed is halved, they don't feel like they slow down. The production feels like an amateur tried to do something halfway between Devin Townsend's wall of noise on Undoing Ruin and Adam D's typical metalcore production and it doesn't hit the sweet spot of either. Worst of all, the vocalist is painfully monotonous.

Bottom line, it's bland metalcore and it doesn't even have the genuine feel of the real-deal American metalcore copycats who did this nearly a decade ago. At least it's not djent.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Alright... So it's been a while since I updated the site and the lurkers of the underground with news about what's going on. Let's get right down to it with the two newest Contaminated Tones releases.

Last week the pre-order period for the Intolerant - Live Intolerance (CTP - 017 - L) tape ended and the tape was officially released. Thanks for all that pre-ordered the release. You already are enjoying some nasty raw black metal. Those that didn't pre-order the tape can pick it up now for $5.00.

What you CAN still get at preorder price of $3.00 is the brand new Clamfight - Thank You Delaware (CTP - 014 - L) tape. This tape features this foursome of New Jersey and Philly monsters hammering out tracks from both their 2010 debut, Vol. I as well as their recent second album I Vs The Glacier. Heavier than carrying a sack of ancient rocks around, Clamfight is an obelisk of monstrous doom and sludge. The tape will be two colors: a blue label and a standard black and white label. The blue labels are limited to the first 20 copies so if you're a collector and you need that limited edition... put one on hold now! Track off the tape below as well as the front cover artwork.

Also, the Midnite Hellion Live tape, Bitchin' At Champs! is of course available so grab a copy of that and their EP, Hour of the Wolf!

 Also on the docket are a few other merch items. I'll be revealing one of these at Maryland Deathfest so keep an eye out the week after for some of that stuff. Before that though, will be the long-awaited follow up to Maximum Oversatan's sold out Too Evil For Hell demo titled Satanic Invasion. Back and more over-the-top than ever, Maximum Oversatan is ready to speed into your soul and tear you apart from the inside out. The band is opening for the Mentors in July at The Paperbox in Brooklyn. Information on that show is available on the Show Listing and the official Facebook event page. Support Signature Riff, Maximum Oversatan and pure, unadulterated sin! For something closer, Tomorrow night the band plays in Philly. Flyer is below for that gig. Artwork for the demo will be revealed very soon.

Big things coming up later this year which I can't say yet since they are not set in stone but I have a feeling that once they are chiseled into certainty, there will be some seriously wide eyes out there. One thing that is certain is that there will be another Okketaehm release... when... I have no idea... but I was sent a half finished track sample from the band in the mail. I listened to it five times in a row in my car. Stones got a lot of great reviews but if the rest of this next release is as good as what I was sent, the release may make some best of 2014 or 2015 lists, depending on when the release comes out.

Also there will be plans for another pro-tape this year at some time from a band that Contaminated Tones has supported but not yet worked with professionally as far as the label side of things is concerned. In addition, any bands playing in the New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia region that wants their show listed on the show listing, let us know via email. Orion_metalhead@hotmail.com. I'm also looking for more bands interested in doing some live tapes. I've got some interest from a few places and with some known bands but I'm always looking for more stuff to do.

Along the same page, I've added wholesale prices to a lot of the CTP items. Also, Free Shipping in the USA if you buy three or more items. Wholesale on the live tapes is also available and it's mix-and-snatch so for $18 you can get five live tapes - just pick which ever you want. The more live tapes that get done, the more options to choose from! In the mean time, you can get an extra one for a friend or for trade or whatever. Something that might not be known about the live tapes but we actually pay the band for each copy sold a royalty that is equal to or greater than many contracts. The more copies of the live tapes sold, the more money that goes back to the artist.

Another thing, something I'm really proud of is that the Contaminated Tones Website is only 6000 views away from hitting 100,000 views. That's absolutely mind boggling for me. When I started this website in 2008, I never expected to have so many viewers from around the world reading the reviews, and interviews. Now, people are also buying stuff and Contaminated Tones continues to grow. I thank everyone that has helped in any way to make this successful. I receive about 15-30 promos a week for review digitally, I receive a handful of promos each week physically... Both Steve and Apteronotus have been a huge help the past year in helping create content and reviews for the site to keep our readers interested and up-to-date on some of the stuff coming out in the underground metal world. We will continue to honestly critique and review the material sent to us.

Thanks to the readers, metalheads and artists out there!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hellgoat - End of Man

Hellgoat's End of Man EP is a super short release. It's only eight minutes long but for fans of war metal and more aggressive black metal, the two tracks will surely make you want to check out the rest of their discography. This American project has been pumping out throbbing blasts of vitriolic black metal since 2004 and have already built quite the discography. End of Man is more a single than an EP with "End of Man" seeming to be the focus of the release. It's shorter, and more emphasized. "Demonic Worship of the Horned Beast" is fronted by a long ambient intro and at the back door is another twenty second snippet of vocals. "End of Man" starts immediately. Closest comparisons I can give for Hellgoat would be Embrace of Thorns or Blasphemy with higher pitched vocals. The actual songs are quick and enjoyable though. Nasty and noisy bursts of speed with some slower doomy riffs mixed in and a sparse atmosphere. When you die, this is the music you want to accompany you to hell. You'll definitely make an entrance.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Murderbeast - A Call To Severed Arms


Murderbeast is another one of Armon Nicholson's projects. While Licrest and Yfel share some  similarities, the final vertex in his trifectum of musical projects sounds as if it could have  been written by a person in a far away land - especially the Phillipines where this kind of  second-rate gore-grind is such a massive export. Where Licrest and Yfel are married with their  blackened subtexts, Murderbeast is essentially a gore-grind-death metal-lite affair minus the  pseudo-shocking album art. It's like going to a bar and getting Miller Lite when you asked for  the bar's best beer. Yfel and, especially, Licrest are much better pours from Armon's tap. Fast  songs, down tuned guitars, brutal(ish) riffs with an element of groove and occasional screamed  accents are par for the course here and even though it's obvious how redundant the album ends  up, Armon performs admirably and respectfully on A Call To Severed Arms.

Chuck Norris Look-alike?
Six songs pass by in as many minutes and without any highlights. The first half of the twelve  song album - more like an EP in terms of run time - is found to be rather monotonous. Opening  track "Screaming Won't Stop The Torture" is less boring if only because it's the first morsel to  touch the tongue. The monotony continues for the second half of the release though two standouts  appear in at the ten and eleven spots. Tenth track "Morgue Feast" features some atonal  scratching techniques which separate the textural blandness of the previous tracks and it's  tailing track, "My Next Victim" features some similar riffing flourishes. I'm not entirely sure  these riffs weren't meant to actually be part of the same song at some point as they are the  only appearance of these techniques on the album.

Final track "Orgasm Through Vivisection" is a contender for the most-awkward-drum-beat-in-an- Armon-Nicholson-death-metal-album award. The verse riff, about as interesting as watching celery  suck up colored water in a third grade science project, is paired with attempted kick drum  variations that often run in contradiction to everything going on around them. I wouldn't say  for certain that they are technically out of time but if a Berkley Music Major told me they were  I wouldn't argue with them.

With an album cover that may have been a lost Jackson Pollock painting of a bloody sewer, groovy  death metal paired with a sludgy production and few highlights, Licrest and Yfel remain as  golden beacons in Armon's eclectic mix of projects. A Call To Severed Arms isn't a super witty  title and the music also isn't impressive. This will be tossed onto my shelf, collect dust, and  I don't see a need for removing it from it's cramped quarters anytime soon. Armon should focus  more attention on Licrest and, to a lesser extent, Yfel. Hopefully he got this out of his system  here.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

CTP - 012 - L: Sacrificial Blood - Live At Sinclairs

 An hour of pissed off cruddy New Jersey Metal. Sacrificial Blood's mix of thrash, death metal and Heavy Metal is sure to light the fires of old school bangers and individuals with a taste for rebellion, aggression and unsavory attitudes. Contains fifteen tracks, three covers and just over an hour of unrefined energy. This is what happens when you send some guys from the Jersey Shore to Long Island. 


Sacrificial Blood Interview on new album Soul's For Sale as well as a bunch of other crap: Here


Agonised - Total Devastation

With Total Devastation, the 2013 demo from Agonised, listeners will be rewarded with proof positive of the still-existent love of Swedish death metal in this modern age. While the demo may seem short with only two original songs and a cover of Morgoth's "Sold Baptism," the two originals present are longer run-time than normal. Together clocking in at almost fourteen minutes, I don't feel ripped off time wise or quality wise with these tracks. They are of quite a high caliber. The efforts of lone Spaniard Bourbon Devastator, Agonised is poised to surprise death metal fans. Obviously there is a huge influence from bands like Grave and Entombed but also an eminent Asphyx flavor runs through the recording. Similarly, Bourbon shares more in common vocally with Van Drunen or John Tardy with his wretched slurred drawls slithering across riffs with ease. Released by Black Mass Records on cassette, this is surely a worthwhile demo to add to any collection, especially those with a love for the Swedish style. The guitar tone is classic, the riffs are memorable and defined and the performance of all instruments is well done. There is very little to complain about.

Opening the demo, an intro with some campy pitch shifted spoken vocals. "Putrid Thoughts" is the opening track really, then, and it starts out fast and with fervor mixing some tremolo riffs over faster thrash drum beats and thick HM2 drenched riffs. The song devolves into a crawl before long with some noise adding texture. At over five minutes long, it's a lengthy opening track but it remains interesting. A solo halfway into the track is reminiscent of Ashpyx. If a gripe exists, it's that the song remains slower too long. The demo's title track rounds out the originals nicely. It too is quite lengthy at eight minutes long but it retains a more mid-fast tempo longer. I might have preferred it as the opener on the demo but midway through the track a harmonized melody riff patiently drifts over long thick chords that end the original material quite nicely. I get a similar vibe with Agonised that I did with Deathevokation's debut demo, especially during these solo sections.

One noticeable aspect to the recording is that it is one-sided and might benefit from a second mind incorporating some different ideas into the songs. This is generic but in this case, it's not a bad thing since the tracks are strong and interesting. With a Morgoth cover rounding out the material, Total Devastation should turn a few heads that keep an eye out for these kind of releases. For those that don't, they're missing out on some great death metal with definite old school charm.