Monday, January 12, 2015

Dustbin of Demos: Vol VII

The dustbin of demos is an homage to the unheard bands of the metal underground, or perhaps just a token listen to the ones that sucked. 

Silverbones - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Heavy/power metal from Italy

100% Running Wild worship, leaning towards the earlier pirate-era as they don't quite have the grandoise of "Blazon Stone" though they certainly try. Big power metal melodies and gallops are the foundation of their style, and really pretty much all of the style. The vocals lack power and fall a bit flat. They're pretty deep in reverb to add some depth, but their lack of fullness is really emphasized when a second vocal line comes in and makes them sound genuinely grand. The chants and backings are quite nice though. Very entertaining, you'll enjoy this if you're into Running Wild's style, but it's clearly a second-rate homage - second to Sweden's Blazon Stone. (Steve)

Hellripper - The Manifestation of Evil
Speed metal from Scotland

Speed Metal's resurgence casts a long shadow these days and Hellripper, while definitely in the shadow of bands such as Midnight and Speedwolf, have everything needed to cause severe whiplash. In many ways I get the same chills with this as I did with Bark at the Poon - killer songs, especially "Total Mayhem" and "Trial By Fire" which appeal to my first love of early 80's power metal. The riffs are sharp, the vocals are outlandishly theatrical and even though I'm inside, I had to go put on a leather jacket to listen to this and feel proper. Awesome. (Orion)

Witches Steel - Witches Steel
Heavy metal from Germany

Old heavy metal worship - in the vein of later NWOBHM, Heavy Load, and the first Mercyful Fate album. Intentionally old fashioned in the most German way possible - retro yet with some touches which reflect influences from a bit later. Sounds like an unpolished, yet well-done 8-track recording with the guitars up front. The riffs scream the influence of Accept and Tokyo Blade. The vocalist is like a poor-Ger-man's Andy Michaud (Liege Lord)  - his singing is wild, yet little power and control translates through the recording. Some charismatic swings up and down in tone and fades in volume sound cool and old-timey with the heavy reverb, but he is still limited by barely being able to hold a note. All in all, enjoyable but forgettable heavy metal worship. (Steve)

Olathia - Demo
Metalcore from Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Olathia borrows much of their riffing style from melodic heavy metal of the 80s, yet the vocal arrangements and songwriting are a mix of radio metalcore and alternative rock. The metal riff is used as a hook, then the guitars sit back beneath a confusing barrage of several different vocal styles, from an Evanesence-esque croon to metalcore screams to a melodic wail to a rasp that sounds almost like Children of Bodom. The cliches of 90s alt rock soft/shout and the metalcore sing/scream all play in, and the guitarists manage every cliche of the last 25 years. While there's no shortage of hard rock and metalcore bands who seem to write songs solely shooting for the skies of radio play, this band really exemplifies how this type of purposeless band simply tries to shoehorn as many radio-rock cliches into a song as possible. Listening to this is like being force-fed a whole variety cheesecake. (Steve)

Dread - Tenth Circle
Death metal from Zagreb, Croatia.

Alternative rock with growls and downtuned guitars is still alternative rock. Despite considering themselves a death metal band, this is basically a lightweight Lamb of God wannabe that can't find a groove. The music is pretty much a gruff shuffle of string-skipped riffs and simple breakdowns that can't even break out of a simple chug. It's got no groove, it's not heavy, it's hardly even aggressive despite harsh vocals and downtuned, distorted guitars. It's alt-rock which appropriates some aspects of a death metal sound and goes nowhere with them. (Steve)

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