Sunday, July 30, 2017

Monthly Blast: July 2017

Back in force this month with a couple full reviews and the Penetration interview, we also attempted to get some material covered in a shorter form. You'll also notice reviews by Mongrel, who is coming on a new contributor. He has an extensive background, running his own blog for a long period of time. We're excited to have him on board.

Afflictis Lenae - Post Nuklear Trauma (2012)

Afflictis Lentae is a one-man project born out of France playing thrash metal with some punk influences. On this demo, the band presents four original songs including covers of Negative Approach, Cro-mags and The Business. The three covers itself is a testament of the band's sound and influences. The music is comprised of shouty vocals embedded with thrashy riffs and hints of black metal here and there. Nowadays it has become the norm for hardcore/punk bands to infuse black metal elements into their sound, so it isn't such a strange concoction anymore. The music isn't bad - it comes off as fairly enjoyable and good for what it is, although I find the production a little too "digital" for my liking, including the fact that the drums are programmed and not particularly well. Then again, this is a demo recording, so I am yet to hear what else the band has to offer. All in all, Post Nuklear Trauma is a decent slap of thrash/hardcore that should appeal to people into crossover. The cover of The Business' 'No one likes us' is pretty cool, which is apparently based on a football anthem sung by the Millwall hooligans. (Mongrel)

Dead of Night - Dead of Night (2001)

We don't speak of these years, and Dead of Night proves to be an example of why not. So many US bands, inspired to play Melodic Death Metal, put up sheds in their back yards, bought some metal-zone pedals, and blindly chug chug chugged into the black-hole we have dubbed metalcore. Dead of Night, thought not quite as excrement-laden to the senses as Beyond the Embrace or God Forbid or Shadows Fall still cause my ears to fill with wax in earnest. A close comparison would be In Flames' Lunar Strain but only the worst riffs. Most of these tracks are apparently older with the exception being "Season of the Witch," which has some extremely cliche lyrical lines which Vocalist Duane Morris articulates extremely clearly. If you like the worst parts of In Flames best era, or Melodic Death Metal maybe look them up, but to most this is going to sound particularly aged by this point. (Orion)

Hordes of the Black Cross - Dawn of war, Nights of Chaos (2016)  

Melbourne-based miscreants Hordes of the Black Cross opts for a familiar sound on their debut album playing filthy blackened thrash in the vein of bands like Destroyer 666, Nocturnal Graves, etc. There's no shortage of ripping riffs, with a musicianship that is on par with some of the best in the genre, added a satisfactory production job and killer artwork depicting medieval warfare with demonic hordes slaying all that is human. "Dawn of War, Nights of Chaos" is an enjoyable slap of Aussie-styled black/thrash that's sure to leave some bruises in its wake.  (Mongrel) 

Lambs - Betrayed From Birth (2016)

A combination of sludgy rhythmic pounding, black metal tremolo and blasting moments, layered with hardcore vocals and the occasional breakdown, Italian group Lambs on Betrayed From Birth give a good expose on the band's multifaceted style. What they don't do is truly win me over the band's style. I'm generally picky with my black metal. I also picky with my sludge. The two combined often don't gather enough of what I like about either to give me tingling sensations. The three songs incorporate some atonal contrasts, feedback, and other sludge hallmarks as well. Not a fan of the hardcore style vocals which sound somewhat whiny overall and angsty but I'm sure some fans of the genre wouldn't find them appalling. "Fear Is Your Key" opens the three songs and I'm impressed with the bass playing, mostly, here and elsewhere on the release. It's very noticeable in the mix and defined with a nice dirty crunch that peeks out from behind the guitars and vocals. Lambs is perhaps best on display in the final track here, "And Your Time Will Be Collapsed," where the influences seem to best gel. The sludgy pace, atonal flourishes mixed with the black metal ringing notes, and hardcore impassioned - and less pubescent - vocals all combine for a worthwhile session. The demo title seems at odds with the rest of the song content, reading more as a Cannibal Corpse album title than that of Lambs, whose song titles are markedly less visceral. Neutral overall impression, regardless. (Orion)

Martyrvore - Obliteration (2014)

My initial introduction to Maryrvore was through their 2007 release, Possessed by Mayhemic Slaughter, which was a pretty relentless slap of black/death metal inspired by Blasphemy and Beherit. Fast-forward 7 years later, the band finally release its long-awaited debut album, entitled Obliteration. There are some re-recorded tracks here as well as a good portion of new material. For someone that's new to the band, this would be a good starting point. The songs on this album maintains an upper-tempo, with a solid injection of evil riffs and war-like percussion. The vocals play an integral part in the mix, adding a definite lethalness and interplay well with the crashing wall of guitars and drums. The production has an elegant touch, ensuring the subtlety of instruments without sounding too compressed, while the ambiance cast a dark and oppressive tone. The music on Obliteration is an exercise in excessive and unrelenting violence - A strong statement of militant black/death metal that should appeal to fans of Angelcorpse, Archgoat and Black Witchery.  (Mongrel)

Monastery - Ripping Terror (2015)

Dirty and authentic death metal out of Netherlands with a grind slant. Ripping Terror was originally released in 1991. this version is the Vic records re-release. The members may be familiar. Lars Rosenberg spent time in Carbonized and Entombed and Aars Kloosterwaard resides in Sinister. I'm not totally sure that the demo warranted a re-release even if these six tracks constitute the sole addition to the metal universe. The material is definitely listenable, and there are some good riffs to be found, particularly in "Monastery" and "Monastery II" but there is a lack of originality and memorability. The sound of the mix is awesome, though and when Kloosterwaard goes barbaric on the cymbals in "False Prediction," the aggression is hard to contain. There's more rewarding Dutch treasure from this era but Vic Records seems to do a great job of unearthing relics from this period and genre in Europe, just like they did with the Phlebotomized 
                                                          material. (Orion)

Mother Earth - Living With The Animals (1968)

Tracy Nelson is a heralded singer in the folk and country realms. Mother Earth's 1968 debut, Living With The Animals was her first widely circulated recording. The mix of styles here is quite nice, and meshed well. The tracks she sings on are without a doubt some of the best female sung Americana and folk recordings from this era. The bluesy "Down So Low" is a sultry and sensual classic due to Nelson's powerful vocals. Lyrically, it speaks for a more real and honest desire, as Nelson claims "And it's not losing you  that's got me down so low, I just can't find another man to take your place." Also standout is the brisk and rip-roaring "Goodnight Nelda Grebe, The Telephone Company Has Cut Us Off," with it's proto d-beat carrying a beat throughout saxophone solos. I'm also partial to "The Kingdom Of Heaven (Is Within You)," a psychedelic blues jam closing out the record sung by Powell St. John. Overall a forgotten record by this generation that would have an audience among fans of rock and blues and particularly fans of powerful female vocalists. (Orion)

Othar - Euthanasia of Existence (2016)

The Świdnica-based black metal band, Othar, have been around since 1996, with their last full-length, Human Fuel of Death, released back in 2006. The music presented on this disc is mostly slow to mid-paced, with an epic feel in the guitars. Whether it is purely the sound itself or their nationality, I cannot be sure, but they remind me of other Polish black metal bands like Veles, Graveland and Dark Fury. The atmosphere will spellbind you with its nostalgic sensibilities, as grim snarls interact with a rhythmic bass and epic guitar lines. While the drums are quite basic and get the job done, they have a tendency to be a little repetitive and loud in the mix. Other than that, there aren't too many quirks I can think of. The production is solid, with the songs effectively absorbed as a whole; it should be listened to in its entirety. Euthanasia of Existence does by no means tread on new territory, but that is hardly an issue when the presentation is this good. I recommend listening to this album in isolation and on a cold winter night. (Mongrel)

Pain - Insanity (1986)

Totally unnecessary listening from the mid-80's. Stanley Falk's vocals are a total deal-breaker here as they taint his mediocre riffs with bored and monotone ramblings. It's not like there was a reason to listen to Insanity beyond what amounts to stumbling through German bands from this era for a possible diamond that no-one's ever heard of. Spoiler: this is a lump of coal. Underneath all the pseudo-heaviness of tracks like opener "On My Knees" - a lame title for a song no matter how you phrase it - or title track "Insanity," an undercurrent of lameness pervades this record. Titles like "I'm Gonna Love", "Spending The Night Alone" (which steals a chorus from JP's "Love Bites" of all places), and "The Groove of Love," combined with the aforementioned vocals grab the listener in a gentle hug instead of by the balls. Skip this one unless you need some comforting in the night. (Orion)

Samot - Across The Abyss (2016)

The EP's cover art says it all, really, in what is almost stolen Dissection font, Samot's purple logo is haphazardly placed over a blue-tinted castle in front of an almost full moon drawing obvious comparisons to Dissection's The Somberlain cover. Across The Abyss, is a well mannered and politely offered EP. From the first tepid strums of opening intro track "Awaken" that the sauntering black metal of this Chilean band hints at a much too reserved attack. While it's true that the recording sounds great, and the instrumentals are very tight, and the material hearkens to the Swedish black metal movement very nicely... the lack of intensity and energy is a killer on this one. "The Calling" is rather timid as a first true song. "Across the Abyss" ambles along with the energy of a geriatric looking for his car keys. The songs are mid-paced mostly, nothing exceeds breakneck speed riff-wise. There are some faster drum parts but nothing takes off. In the title track, before the midway point, we get a slowed down 'spooky' section before what is the fastest section on the release - a generic tremolo riff - which doesn't come across as speedy at all. Ending with a thunderclaps and clean guitar, I'm left unimpressed. There's some melodic potential and compositionally the sons are structured well, but the band needs to somehow inject some life into the songs. (Orion)

Scarlett Taylor - III (2017)

Scarlett Taylor is a poor man's Lana Del Rey. III is a five song EP which takes the seductive, dry, nostalgic lounge style of Lana Del Rey or the less percussive tracks from Florence and the Machine, and adds touches of electronic and 80's synth to the mix to make it her own. There's also influence from 90's alternative rock like Garbage. "Children of the Sun" has a strict pendulistic rap section that pairs with the electronic elements and is the only track which I didn't enjoy. "Orphan" and "Unborn" - the latter of which has a lot of Florence and the Machine stylings - is a better example of what Scarlett Taylor does well with the electronic elements. "Concrete Angels" and opener "I Can Fly" show more of the Lana Del Rey style. A more washed-out bleakness and depressive angle places Scarlett Taylor in a slightly different box from some of her contemporaries; her dinginess comes across as more authentic than others who have already reaped the rewards of successful careers. I might be way off base with what exactly 'gloompop' as this is self-described as, actually is. I found it interesting that the promotional representative felt this would be a 'good fit for' this blog. I do like Lana Del Rey a lot though, so lucky for them. (Orion)

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