Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Olddwrvms : " Ignobilis"

Can you believe everything you read on the internet? Can you believe anything ? Questions raised when going into this album after reading how this band made people feel like they were on drugs. As some one who has done more than their fair share of drugs, this is a pretty tall order since the bar has been raised pretty high. I own "Souls At Zero", so if that is what you are throwing at me, we are going to need to do better than that. The clean vocals that lead off the verse are an improvement to the dynamics of that formula. Fans of newer Tombs will certainly appreciate where this band is heading on the first song as long as you are not too tied to Tombs more black metal side. But even with the bit of atmosphere at the end, I don't feel like I'm on drugs.

For "Amongst the Pines" things stay dark and melodic almost down to a more Katatonia level. What sounds to be a sample of a witch's monologue breaks up the jammy wandering . It never develops into an actual song, but rides a groove for 11 minutes. They get back to more of a sonic sludge based style of heaviness on "Scorn" . The vocals feel like a more depressed version of Pink Floyd to me. This is not to say it vaults this band into being the trippiest thing ever. I like how this is very dark, but more melodic than most sludge bands. At times it can make me zone away from the song because it's so droning of a riff on "Hear them Sing While they Burn". The harsher vocals fall in line with what is expected of sludge. The clean sung vocals return and add to the atmosphere.

These guys are dark atmosphere sludge, which there is certainly nothing wrong with at all. I think these guys are good at what they do, the pulse of their playing ca take precedence over actually writing songs, but they capture some cool sounds that I would like to hear more molded into something a little more mature from a song writing perspective, because at the end of the day even Syd era Floyd was about the songs. I'll give this an 8.5.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Wretch : "s/t"

With roots in the band Gates of Slumber, Wretch takes a more traditional approach to doom. The vocals are melodic falling somewhere in-between St. Vitus and Pentagram. So no Candlemass like soaring just a slightly acid-crazed slant. The songs are about the ravages of drugs and the deaths they lead to. "Rest In Peace" feels a little less inspired than the opener.There is a more jammy stoner rock feel to "Blood Finger". The song really places a lot of emphasis on the guitar solo, which sounds like Toni Iommi fooling around to get warmed up. "Winter" makes better use o their talents by going into a more trippy atmosphere. This album was released last week on Bad Omen Records.

"Icebound" finds the band digging into a heavier groove. They shift the pace in a manner similar to Sabbath, which in this genre is not uncommon. I do have to give this band credit because aside from the guitar solo in "Blood Finger" this is the first moment that has really struck me as being Sabbath inspired. Sure they have taken plenty of notes from bands that worship at the altar of Sabbath, but these guys don't directly rip them off themselves. At minutes this is the longest song on the album, so they are not trying to rock you to sleep with numbing drones. "Gray Cast Mourning" totally fails to catch my attention and breezes by me. They redeem themselves with " Drown" which is perhaps the albums best song. The vocals work best when they are coated in the type of effects used on this song.

If you are looking for ground breaking doom that will sound like nothing else you have ever heard before, then you have come to the wrong place. These guys are good at what they do and this album has some strong moments,  but I own the St. Vitus albums so I would prefer to listen to those when I am in the mood for this sort of thing. That is the key for me you have to fill some sort of sonic void that is not already occupied by a band you did it better the first time around. But I am not a teenager just getting into metal so while I appreciate what these guys do and will give this album a 7.5, I am not going to be wow by it like I might if I was a pot smoking 16 year old.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

An Autumn For Crippled Children : "Eternal"

This band from the Netherlands keeps pumping out on a yearly basis. This time they are releasing it in lp format. the first song isn't bad and finds them doing what they do, but nothing jumps put at me, like it does on the second song which recaptures my attention. The third song brings in even more of a melodic element and shows they have been doing what Deafheaven does way before the fact. However it feels a little like Black Sabbath's "Cross Purposes" album where even though grunge would not exist without Iommi, the vocals were all in the minor third harmonies Alice In Chains used at the time. If that comparison is too much for you to get what is going on here, then you are a lost cause and should go back to sleep.

The bass and drums are totally on it from "On Fire " on. The guitar has a weird fuzzed out tone for most of the album up to this point it makes them sound almost like a synth. When the real synths come in then things get really weird and confuzzing. The vocals cry out in the same rasp they normally do. Though it's become less expansive in it's range of tortured cries and like older Deafheaven sticks to a mid range that is mixed back into the guitars.  "You Have Been in the Shadows" finds the vocals much angrier than the music around them. The post rock thing is not as obvious as it has been on other releases, yet there is no way any one in their right mind can think of these guys as a black metal band any more.

"Days of Sleep" floats on towards sightly darker clouds and a more melancholy mood. These are the best guitar melodies so far on this album. The drums sound more like they are programmed on this song, but it isn't a deal breaker. There is a lighter tone to the ambiance coating the drive of "Swallowed By Night's Despair"  The melody to "Cloud Mood" is more compelling even though it pushes them further into the more shoe gaze side. The album closes by finding the band in their more classic sonic space. I'll give this album a 7.5, it strikes me as playing it safe and almost bland. It would be nice if they got back to being a little darker like their early stuff, I could except them no longer being a black metal band if this was this case. I have accepted this for the past few albums, it's just finding them at a place where they need to rethink their direction before it leads them into stagnation. This album comes out October 17th.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Volur : "Disir"

This trio from Canada, replaces guitar with distorted violin.They are darker and somewhat leaning towards being a doom band even though the opening song is more mid-tempo. The vocals split the difference between the ales bassist and the female violinist. They do have a unique sound, though I did space out a little during the violin solo of the first song. Which when I tuned back in had to give credit to her a using the instrument to replicate a guitar tone to the point of me thinking for a second it was a guitar solo I was tuning out. I am unsure why they released this album back in June and I am just now starting to hear a tiny bit of buzz about it.

 They keep the atmosphere thick going into the long and winding "the Deep Minded". The bass mainly drives this one. The violin solo on this one sounds more like a violin solo. I am however confused as to why people are saying they blend elements of classical music into their sound. So to set the record straight, just because you have violin it doesn't mean you are playing classical music.Even the more scenic interlude "White Phantom" is not classical music, post-rock or slo-core played with a violin. The fourteen minute closer is good background music. It feels like Dead Can Dance being merged with east European folk music. It's hard not to drone out to it. I'll give this album an 8.5, though if you are really into instrumentals you might round it up to a 9. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future, I would like to hear them in a heavier and more song focused mood, but I totally appreciate this for what it is. If I still did drugs I would get a lot more play time out of this.

Gatecreeper : "Sonoran Depravation"

They have an old school death metal feel without directly ripping off Morbid Angel or Cannibal Corpse. I can hear touches of Obituary in what they do, however they are more hammering. The members of this band are were once in either Languish or Hellhorse, so this is not their first rodeo from hell. This album is being released on Relapse , so this reflected in the production quality...and no it doesn't mean that it sounds like a Neurosis album. The production is very full with some time spent dialing in the best guitar tone possible. The album sounds so good that it is not until the second song that I begin to think about the question that I must ask all extreme metal bands....ok you are heavy, what else can you do?

The answer is a little unsure as they pick up the pace. The guitar sounds great, but it also sounds just like it did on the first two songs. The same goes for the vocals. The song takes a weird shift midway in and almost sounds like an entirely different song, though sonically the band is right where they have always been. "Rotting as One" starts off with a cool riff, but the rule around here is cool riffs alone do not make a good song. They don't let up on "Stronghold Either" , but the double bass is kicking everything into a riffy mush, that aside from the guitar harmonies is making me drone out on this as it all begins to take a rather monochrome shade.

The guitar at the beginning of "Patriarchal Grip" is doomier. The bass and drums help out by not blasting in behind and the band creates a more oppressive mood for the first minute before the double bass steams rolls them back into death metal.There is more groove in the catchier riff to "Lost Forever". The vocals are pretty much an incomprehensible growl at this point. "Flamethrower" finds it self in a similar place to the other a cool riff driving it, but nothing else to set it self apart.They finally commit to a doomy pace on the closing dirge 'Grotesque Operations". This marks the first really shift in dynamics the album sees. I'll give this album a 7, it sounds good, but doesn't expand much beyond the one trick they have mastered. If you like death metal with a single minded goal of pounding you into submission then this is for you.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ketch : "The Anthems of Dread'

I am not going to paint these guys as the most original band ever. They play dark and dirty metal. The vocals have the expected scowl to them. I would even go to say they are death metal that is rooted in 2016 and rough around the edges. They have the attack of a sludge band. When they hit you it has some weight to it. The vocals often snarl with a feral intensity. Many of these qualities are pretty much what you expect from a metal band these days. "En Nomine Eius" finds them getting deeper into the mire of death metal and capturing some powerful grooves along the way. They ride a more fluid riff on "Monsters of this World" that once again proves that they care about the song and are not just trying to bowl you over with the sheer weight of their sound.

There is more atmosphere to the interlude that leads into the last song. At nine minutes this is the longest song on the album, but considering what I have heard this week, it's almost pop format for a metal band these days.I forgot these guys were from Colorado until I glanced back at their Bandcamp page. I suppose I can see an influx of metal bands coming from there considering the current state of pot. These guys are expansive in their thinking when it comes to metal. Like I said at the beginning of this review, I am not going to convince you that they are the most original band, but they have created on of the smoothest death metal albums I have heard in a minute. By smooth I do not mean that it's over produced, it's actually pretty dense. Smooth here means that the songs roll through you like liquid. I'll give this album an 8.5. Not sure if it will make the old iPod, but it's a solid listen that I enjoyed. If you knew how many bands I get a few songs in and decide "I just can't do this any more " you may or may not be surprised.

Up From the Underground : Shiver's Addiction

This band from Italy is more of a hard rock band than a metal band. The album is called "Choose Your Prison"  The only really heavy thing about them is the fact they heavily pull from 80s hard rock. Vocally they remind me of Alice Cooper and sonically fall somewhere between Queensryche and Skid Row. When they pull out the acoustic guitars on "Death Has Nothing to Teach" it reminds me of that moment in the early 90's when the hair rockers knowing their days were number began to experiment with different textures. I am not sure it is done as smoothly here as it was on an album by say Saigon Kick. The drummer is pretty solid on this album. His performance would be followed by the guitarist.

I like the bass intro to "Eternal Damnation" but a few songs into this album and I can tell these are going to be to upbeat for me. The guitar tones are often bright. The singer might not making the best choice by singing in English. The chorus intends to be metal, and by metal I mean it in the most Iced Earth manner possible. Once upon a time the riffs that open up 'Freedom" might have been considered metal, but even the most hefty chug they muster, is still just like "Queen of the Reich" era Queensryche. They do want to be a metal band and even try to churn out a more Metallica like riff on "Money Makes the Difference". When I refer to Metallica I'm talking "Black Album" and after, not their metal years.

"Painted Arrow" is yet another song that hovers close to a more metallic sound without committing fully to getting heavy. There is some good guitar playing on this song and the singer actually proves he can sing here. There is another near metal moment on "King and the Guillotine" which serves as a pretty good vehicle to get you to the guitar solo. You might be willing to concede them as power metal if you are really into power metal and feeling generous. The singer has a little more grit on "We Live On a Lie".  When he tries to go up into a falsetto it feels a little strained. Much like the brand of music they are paying tribute to here this album is all about the guitar. I guess if you are going to go for more of a retro metal sound , going the way In Solitude did is probably for the best. These guys are skilled players trying to make all the pieces fit and if you are into 80s metal ...not Celtic Frost,  anything less heavy than Iron Maiden then this might appeal to you.