Monday, April 24, 2017

Hexheart : "Midnight On A Moonless Night"

Jasyn Banger of God Module is releasing the debut album from his newest project Hexheart, that backs away from the more electronic propelled edm industrial of God Module. This project is more dark wave. The guitar sits low in the mix and I had to listen for it pretty closely as it is almost mixed behind the synths. There is more of an edm/ dance current running through the back bone of "Nothing" almost making this seem like more of a re-branding of God Module. His low raspy voice is not as heavilly altered with distorted filters as it is with the other project. He says in more of a static spoken narrative than singing. While 'Stars In Your Eyes" is a turn in a darker direction, I think "Falling" a better song. The purpose of the vocals is much clearer and hooks me in.

He comes closer to singing on "Second Sight" which is a very well put together song. Banger's range is very limited and he manages to make the most out of where he puts what he does manage to get out in his sing song whisper. There is more of an epic new wave hook to the synth lines adorning " Problems and bigger ones" . There is an almost aggro tech aggression to the synths on "Lunatix' and he slips back into his more comfortable industrial boots. "Hollywood" is darker, but doesn't do as much for me as it sounds like it is not a fully realized as the other songs. Though when I pay more attention to the lyrics and the reverb heavy guitars it grows on me a little,

A similar problem plagues" Never  Understand". It has more atmosphere , but all the moving parts don't feel like they are really screwed into one another soundly. When this is the case the flaws in his voice are exposed. There is a bigger industrial feel to the last song. Its a big finish so you can't fault him for that. I will round this album up to an 8, which means I am considering loading it onto the iPod. If you like God Moduile, then this album is different, but still a must. If you like darkwave with a heavier electronic edge then this is also on your to do list. It comes out June 9th on Metropolis.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NEPHILIM'S HOWL : "Through The Marrow Of Human Suffering"

This band from Finland might not be black metal in how kids today think of the genre. The vocal somewhat spoken and declared from behind a veil of effects. The pace picks up on " Of Ordeals and Triumph". This brings them into a more black metal territory, the vocals gain some grit. They are not screamed and remind me of a less dramatic version of what Urfaust does. I like the fact that they put such a hypnotic throb into their music. The song builds but hangs in similar dynamic footing. The ten minute "Hate Revelations" finds them taking on more of a Venom like stomp. The vocals are delivered in a more dramatic fashion with a hateful sneer to them. Less punk influenced by Venom they are clearly metal in their intent. Things get more melodic around the six minute marks as the vocals take on more of a croon and the drums slow into a more graceful gallop.

They return to a more hypnotic throb once again for "Against the Worlds that Bind Us" . His vocals here to take on more of a Cronos like harshness. Not a flat out growl, but increased aggression in the way the lyrics are spat out above the pulse of guitar. Four minutes in the most overt form of black metal comes in by way of the blast beats. The albums reaches it's climatic end with the 12 minute "Through the Marrow of Human Suffering". At this point in the album I have already decided these guys are a bit of an enigma when it comes to Finnish black metal as they are rough around the edges but care about the songs rather than throwing a bunch of raw an reckless blast beats at you. They hold off until two minutes into the song to break them out.

If you are looking for black metal that combines the balance of grit and songwriting from the genres early days with a more sonic swell then this band is who you have been looking for. It generally kept me engaged, I am not sure how often I would listen to this , but appreciate it for what it is , which is enough for me to give this album an 8.

No Omega : "Culture"

This hard-core band is no stranger to this blog as we love them here because just like any other form of music I want my hard core dark and tortured. This is the Swedish band's third full length and even in the opener they drop down into the shadows to let things breathe with some atmosphere as the chords rings out midway into things. There is also a more metallic power, that is sonically similar to black metal in some ways. Despite some of the more heady guitar tones "Phobia" embraces the more punk tendencies. While I can't fault them for being who they are or where they come from in this regard, it's not my favorite side of the band. "Misgiving" falls out of the fade from the previous song into something more brooding that carries greater appeal to my personal tastes. Though when the song kicks in it goes into a more straight forward punk thing that has the rather stiff snare beat I'm not a fan of.

 At times though the ride the line between hardcore and screamo when they go into a more indie rock guitar jangle. As the album progress we continue to hear more of these melodic clean intonations. "Autoimmune" finds such lighter notes used as the calm before the explosion. They do get pretty brutal and battering on songs like "Cogs". This almost feels neanderthal in comparison to some of the moments they have already shown us. "Agora"finds them darkening back into the place that I prefer them to be in. Their lead screamer asks the listener if they know what its like to be treated like a stranger. So there is a very emotional current to these songs. They have an interesting trade of of dynamics on " Unsociable". This may or may not been embraced by the hardcore crowd who is trying to keep their scene underground as this song could appeal to a larger punk audience in the same way as early stuff from the Refused.

They get rowdier on "Within, Without". This has more of the punk recklessness and abrasion. There are some punches that get my attention. It's the moments that just don't sound like temper tantrums that get my ears peaked. "Contortion" is a more straight forward punk fueled song. The vocals on "Safe" are more barked despite the guitar at times providing room for more. The builds on this one are pretty powerful. They return to a cleaner strum at the onset of "Feral Houses". This one finds an angular groove in the syncopation they employ here. I like they more screamo juxtaposition of melodic guitar being screamed over, as they guys do it with a little more class,  The album closes with the angry pleas of "Resignation". This one works off more piss and vinegar than thoughtful song writing.  I'll give this album an 8.5 it's pretty solid the more punk side of this band typically just has me waiting for more of the dark brooding stuff, but fans of hardcore might have more of an appreciation for them.

the Black Angels : "Death Song"

I first came across this band when their music appeared on the second season of True Detective. The opening track off their new album "Death Song" holds all the qualities that originally attracted me to their sound. It's dark and sonic with a exotic pulse. There is rawer rambling rock kick with a touch of western to "I'd Kill For Her ". The vocals are sung in tentative  tenor that reminds me of many of the psychedelic garage rock bands from the 60s. There is a more relaxed feel to the almost ballad "Half Believing" .  The drumming on "Comanche Moon" reminds me a little of Hendrix's "Manic Depression". The vocals are more languid as an almost Stone Roses like haze is cast over the collection of swirling sonics.

The comparison's the Stone Roses era of Brit Pop could still be drawn in regards to the groove propelling "Hunt Me Down". They admit to being dope fiends on "Grab as Much". This song does have a drugged sluggishness to it despite being somewhat upbeat. They come back stronger with the more honest and intimate drone of " Estimate". There is a more snake like motion to the more upbeat "I Dreamt". It comes closer to rocking out than some of the albums more drugged out earlier moments. The pace gets marginally brisker with another ode to drugs on "Medicine". The keyboards bring another shade from the 60's into what they are doing.

The vocals drop into a lower effected murmur on "Death March" . I like it a lot as is it's much darker almost to the point of sounding like some of Psychic TV's more death rock like moments. There is the lazy space dirge "Life Song" that ends the album by floating away with it. This album recreates a mood I haven't heard since I used to get stoned to the Stone Roses senior year of high-school,so I'll round it up to a 9.


Jordablod : "Upon My Cremation Pyre"

The band from southern Sweden is not trying to emulate Entombed. There are some guitar passages that work together to breathe a sense of melody into things. The solos often lingers past the allocated sections. This is done with a very organic sense to both the tones on the album and the arrangements. They walk the line between death metal and black metal in a manner not unlike their country men in Tribulation. "Liberator of Eden" . Reverb coats the guitars. They hold onto the sense of melody when "Chants for the Black One kicks in. The arrangement doesn't stick as solidly and this sounds like it devolves into jamming. Some of the punches and accents towards the end of the song have their thinking caps more firmly intact.

Speaking of jam , they do that on "Hin Hale" and instrumental that works off feeling more than trying to dazzle you with prog chops. They attack "Sculptor of the Future" with renewed fury. This song is a little more straight forward, though manages to touch upon some sonic frequencies more kin to black metal. The vocals remain in their dray mid-range rasp not only for this song but the bulk of the album. "Of Fiery Passion" finds the band allowing them to finally ebb down into some atmosphere, which I think is important as it keeps them from being monochromatic. They stir things back up into more of a black metal frenzy, but this is black metal that more in common with Krallice or Mutilation Rites than Watain or Bathory. You can hear the bass amid the blast beat which gives them more balls and the subtle hook to the riff when they come out of the blast beat section at the 5 and a half minute mark also caught my attention.

The album closes with the title track that starts off with them basking in atmosphere and giving themselves more space to invoke the calm before the storm. There is more melody and grace in the build that majestically rises up from the atmosphere giving it a gleam of a slight post-rock influence without sounding like they are tying to jump on the Deafheaven bandwagon.  Over all this album is pretty solid and manages to not sound like everyone else while staying true to it's blend of death metal and black metal, I'll give it a 8.5. This album comes out May 27th on Iron Bonehead Records.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Clan of Xymox : "Days of Black"

Of all the old school dark wave acts Clan of Xymox continues to prove they still have it. The title track that opens the album is just a intro. When they actually kick into things they do so with a smart bass line and  s a pop skip to "Loneliness" that doesn't sound all dark at first. The vocal melody is well thought out and adds just enough darkness to the rest of the song. The synths sound like they could have come from "Disintegration". "Vixen in Disguise" works but is not their best work and would get filed under alright filler. There is more drive to "Leave Me Be" which melts into more of a introspective slink. At 55 Ronny's voice sounds great. In the lower register it still holds rich resonance and slides up into his more emotive whine. He is really what brings life to these songs , though "Leave Me Be" is dark enough to satisfy my goth cravings. "Rain Will Wash Away" is more electronic based, to the point that it feels more like an interlude.

They go into more a traditional dark wave for  "Set You Free". Not dialed in, but nothing new. There is a very emotional and Cure like vibe to "I Couldn't Save You". Reminding me the guitar tones on this album when they crop are are very nice. "What Goes Around" should get the dance floor of any good goth club writhing. The beat is not overbearing, but slinks in just the right way.  There is a more aggressive drive to "I Need to Be Alone".  Not the album's strongest song , but not bad either. The guitar continues to get amped up, this time in a darker more Sisters of Mercy like direction for "Loud and Clear". There is a soft more electronic touch to "Your Kiss" which has drive , but not of the rock variety more synth wave.

I'll round this up to a 8.5 and see how it grows on me. The second half of the album feels a little like they are playing too close to expectations , but what we do expect from them is delivered. They do it better than most of their peers so I am not sure why some songs just connected with me more on the first half and more of the songs later in the album were just kinda "Ok, this works fade into the background" sort of things. Anyway if you are a hard core fan of the band round it up.

Monday, April 17, 2017

November's Doom : "Hamartia"

I am always surprised when I forget these guys are from Chicago. They sound like they are from either England or Sweden. This band opens with a song that makes you think they are  melodic death metal  band that doesn't have aspirations to be anything other than that, though they wield some well crafted guitar melodies and the vocals are placed with great intention to make the most of every growl in the same way singers use every note. This album is very well produced with an excellent guitar tone as by the second song it's easy to hear the kind of love that they were tracked with. Clean vocals come in on the second song. "Plague Bird" brings in clean vocals with kind of a Katatonia feel the only problem is the melodies are not as focused as Katatonia's. They regain a little more of the focus with "Ghost" which goes in a more My Dying Bride like direction.

The sung vocals come back and this time fall somewhere between the Katatonia sound and My Dying Bride. The vocals are a mixed bag as the come across a little weak on "Ever After" as the drummer really begins to steal the show. The title track finds the vocals dropping to a more dramatic whisper. At first it feels like Wall era Pink Floyd. Its an odd ballad that never really settles into it self. "Apostasy" is more balls to the wall with death growls and double bass driving it into your face. It is one of the album's stronger songs and makes better use of the clean vocal trade off. They drift off into a more sorrowful My Dying Bride like tone on "Miasma". This has one of the albums better guitar solos on it. Lyrically it's a little to romanticized. "Zephyr" feels like it walks more of a middle ground and balances out the aggression with the more dramatic tone of the vocals.

There is a more mainstream metal hook to the guitar riffs of "Waves in the Red Cloth" the vocals could be more intense to hold the groove of the guitar. So while it sounds like the put a little more thought into making this one more compact, the vocals don't do it any huge favors. They go back into a more bland take on Katatonia that I am ot sure they are even convinced of.  I'll round this one up to a 7 as they are typically good at what they do with the more driving songs that roared more being the cream of this year's crop.