If you have found this blog, it probably means you were searching for something that isn’t in the public eye. My intention is to promote awareness of artists that you would otherwise likely never know existed. If you like what you hear, support the artist by purchasing their music so that they can continue to create, and enjoy the release in the quality they intended.

Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Axis of Metal.

Pigsty – Planet of the Pigs

Posted by T. Bawden Monday, 29 June 2009 0 comments

Pigsty – Planet of the Pigs – 4.5/5

I don’t believe for anyone who’s read much of this blog it’s a big leap to realise that Death/Grind is about as far from my ‘normal listening’ as it gets within the metal genre. Whether this means this is a band that have done something really spectacular to catch my attention, or this is only on the cusp of being a part of the genre I am unsure. What I am sure of though is this album has happily been a consistent part of my playlist for a while now, and it still feels as fresh and addictive as it did when I first gave it a spin.

Certainly, this isn’t a band to follow suit with the crowd, an apparent willingness to do things their own way, and the vocals are no different. With the lead spending most of his time performing an energetic mid-ranged rasp, he is assisted by the guitarists in providing high pitched shrieks and the commonly found death grunting. Rather than any individual being particularly adept, the combination that they are far enough back in the mix so as to give the impression they are yelling at the top of their lungs, yielding a powerful sense of aggression, coupled with the frequent interchanges between vocalists giving a chaotic and frantic tone to the proceedings more than compensates.

The drumming is competent, easily heard but rather basic by comparison to the combination of vocals and guitars which steal the show. With a deep sludge-like distortion they provide a machine-gunning of riffs, simplistic yet hard hitting and easily capable of mixing things up. This doesn’t appear to be a band interested in ‘sounding more aggressive’ than what came before it, showing a willingness to slow things down to a – comparatively doom like – crawl, and even provide the odd psychedelic interlude to shake things up, contrasting the more aggressive passages. The bass is more than capable of holding his own during slower sections, and the guitars prove themselves in their all too infrequent solos, proving a flurry of squealing notes to contrast the bass work.

Clocking at 30mins this is a rather short release, but that simply means they have trimmed all the fat. This is an album demonstrating the chaos that can be created without sounding monotonous, layering addictive riff after riff in an ever-changing unrelenting musical assault, and it is one album I have yet to tire of listening to.

Highlights: Inspection Report, Demon Alcohol, Reborn

The Agonist – Lullabies for the Dormant Mind

Posted by T. Bawden Thursday, 25 June 2009 0 comments

The Agonist – Lullabies for the Dormant Mind – 3.5/5
[Link Removed]

I at first wasn’t considering writing a review for this one, knowing full well that their previous effort was nothing more than a guilty pleasure of mine, but this shows them evolving, tackling a new style that separates them from their ‘dime a dozen’ metalcore brethren. The inclusion of a 3rd style of vocals, and both technical and symphonic tendencies over their metalcore base lends a rather unique twist to them, which whilst it isn’t up to scratch, does make me wonder if in the near future their ‘guilty pleasure’ status will need a second look.

The first thing on this album that hits you is a big drum intro. In fact, the drums are remarkably audible throughout the most part of this album, but unfortunately im not sure this is a good thing. From a technical stand-point, they’re quick, fairly good at varying styles, and never abuse the blast beat. But they have also been produced to death, they sound mechanical, lifeless, and void of emotion. It needs more grit, a bit of dirt – you don’t come out of a fight sounding sparkly – in order to deliver the impact, the rage and aggression that this album so desperately could have used.

The guitars have improved, and display at times riffs worthy of a greater band, the intro for ‘Birds Elope with the Sun,’ or the work in ‘chlorpromazine,’ stands a testament to that, and whilst small fill make themselves apparent, for the most part it is a variety of standard metalcore riffs. (Aka Chugga-Chugga-Chugga-RIFF). They simply have little time to shine, with hardly a solo to their name, or even a notable section where they can do their own thing without the vocalist screaming over it.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this is a vocally dominated album. Beyond the intro and a short section in ‘chlorpromazine,’ she more or less is present at every point of each track, and whilst she has both varied her tone more than her last effort, and has improved, she still isn’t up to scratch. Adding to her repertoire of clean vocals and hardcore rasps is a new, far deeper growl more akin to that used by deathcore artists, (No pig squeals though, thank god) which is used sparingly, more to add another tone than as anything more prominent. The main body of the work remains the rasps and clean vocals, which have improved since their last effort. The clean vocals are varied in pitch, and have a good hint of emotion behind them, successfully varying between the more powerful and aggressive to the softer side. She even succeeds in pulling of her own rendition of a section of the operatic work found in ‘swan lake,’ which if nothing else proves she has ambition. Not top of her game, but easily comparable to the likes of Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil). Her hardcore rasps follow much the same pattern, impressive variation, even up into the higher notes, occasionally issuing an almost black metal like rasped scream.

I was shocked by the album. I went in expecting little and they’ve tried to do so much more than that. They haven’t pandered to the mainstream and gone more accessible, they’ve done the complete opposite, and whilst there are many areas that need work, and especially the vocalist needs to take a step back here, and let the other instruments shine, the number of layers they’ve worked in with style, the improvements in the vocalist’s prowess, and the willingness to attempt new styles leave much promise for their future.

Highlights: Thank You Pain, Globus Hystericus, Chlorpromazine

Note: This is NOT a new review. In fact, it went onto the forum 16th March. Apparently I forgot to post it >.<

Arcane Grail – Arya Marga

Posted by T. Bawden Tuesday, 23 June 2009 0 comments

Arcane Grail – Arya Marga – 4.5/5

If the concept of an epic toned and melodic metal band on the extreme side of the spectrum, with an opera singer sounds intriguing to you, you should probably be reaching for that download link right about now. Hailing from Russia, this is a real oddity of a sound to figure out; aggressive with as many black growls as deathly howls, blackened symphonic backing not getting in the way of the – almost Gothenburg tinged – riffs, and without fear of calling in the backup artillery, consisting of acoustic guitar, flutes, violins, cello arrangements and choral work. The core of the sound stays between Symphonic Black and Melodic Death Metal, but the arrangements, harmonies lending a variety of tones. The frantic shrieking, the warming folk-ish keyboard work, or gothic/doom violins all lend to create a rollercoaster of sounds, compressed into 40 mins this is one album that I expect will be on my playlist for some time.

The greatest feature here would undoubtedly be the vocalists. Both are impeccable and work unbelievably well, the soprano vocalist proving her versatility and talent time and time again, without dominating the sound and even holding her own through her own track which is completely void of other instrumentation. Yet even her prowess – which is quickly finding its way to my list of top female vocalists – is matched by her partner, capable of high pitched frantic shrieking, slower deathly doom-filled growls, clean vocals and even of a ‘king diamond’ style falsetto at times, it is this range that steals the show from the soprano which – whilst impressive – could all too easily get monotonous.

In terms of the backing, there is little that comes forward as being prominent. The keyboards probably have the most memorable pieces in the form of Classical/Burzum-inspired short passages with the soprano vocalist, and the occasional riff-like interlude within the track, for the most part they lend a backing tone during the more blackened sections. The bass is frequently drowned out by the guitars, which performs a variety of melodies, with notable use of tremolo picking, to sustain the track. Whilst often not as strong as the keyboards they are integral in maintaining the aggression and in keeping the changes in pace and tone during the track fluid, as well supplying the core of the tracks rhythm. The drums can be heard, but are perhaps a little quiet at times. Frequently relegated to maintaining the tempo, they nonetheless succeed in doing so with an energetic enthusiasm.

And despite all the diversity already presented, there’s the whole host of other instrumentation used sparingly and simplistically with incredible effect, and – perhaps even more surprising – is that this doesn’t end up feeling experimental. Indeed, there are changes in tones, aggression, pace and enough changes in instrument use to sound like two bands battling off with each other, but somehow it remains feeling unique. Distinct and separate from anyone else I could care to compare them to without feeling unusual. Unquestionably one of the greater releases I’ve heard released this year.

Highlights: Of Snake and Raven, Renaissant the Reverie, Imprisoned in the Greatest War, Iniquitous Yoke

Dominion – Blackout

Posted by T. Bawden Thursday, 18 June 2009 1 comments

Dominion – Blackout – 4/5

A UK Death/Doom that may well have been years ahead of its time, for whilst the likes of ‘The Gathering’ and ‘Therion’ had begun to dabble in the use of female vocals, few had used the ‘beauty and the beast’ (a growled male vocalist and a clean female vocalist) vocals that would emerge later. Taking cues from the recently emerged British Death/Doom scene (My Dying Bride, Anathema, Paradise Lost), there is another element at work here, distinguishing them from their peers, a slight thrash or groove influence that results in a simple, but effective and insatiable bass driven melody. This feels more experimental, and may well be the sound to bridge the gap between death/doom and the gothic metal it gave rise to.

Straying far more into doom territory it must be said, providing a deep and distorted bassy tone it thunders on, combining a lean and aggressive tone, slow to change and hard hitting, with occasional use of slow-paced tremolo riffing to create a dark groove, a catchy and addictive melody that powers onwards. Working magnificently with the drum work, which provides a constant clear and prominent aggression, as he pounds furiously on the cymbals and succeeds in creating creative ‘drum leads,’ often almost as addictive as the guitar work.

Even the vocals seem to fit perfectly in their unique style. The growled vocals quite thrash-like in tone, they can be fairly monotonous at times but break up the lead vocals perfectly. Demonstrating a good range of pitch, as well as power, the leading lady can only be described is unusual, with a frequently relatively deep tone, sudden sharp transitions in pitch and volume it leaves it feeling jagged, earthy and ultimately ‘dark.’ Yet despite her unconventional manner I can’t fathom how anything else could work, it feels a perfect fit for their style, resulting in a distinct but effective sound.

Despite its simplicity, it remains effective in providing an addictive groove, of stylistically presenting a sound to be played with, with the touch of folk tones in ‘Release,’ the deep seated deathly aggression in ‘Prism,’ or the thrash-y ‘Today’s Tomorrow,’ they retain a core style whilst providing a plentiful supply of new idea’s to keep themselves sounding fresh. This is not just another clone band, they have succeeded in innovating and experimenting with idea’s well before they were commonplace, and they feel as fresh now as they did over a decade ago. Fans of the genre would do well to give this a chance

Highlights: Release, Todays Tomorrow, Prism

Dungeon - Fortress Of Rock - 3.5/5

Bad production.
Usually the bane of my existence, very rarely does a band supersede a lousy knob job to charm its way into my musically black heart. Exceptions usually come from the hazy hemp induced fog of the NWOBHM, where quite often, a botched production could lift a band into realms unknown, creating new(totally by error) terrain for metal to roam. I think of Venom, Savage, Angel Witch, Grim Reaper, and More in these terms. Black and Death metal seem to have overcome these impediments to its fans for the most part, but not to these ears.

So here we have an American entry into the junk heap of lousy sounding albums that, when given proper attention, turns out to be quite fetching in its lunk-headed quest to conquer. While the gutted and thin guitar sound is initially off putting, the strength of song and a full blooded performance by vocalist Buddy Hughes lift this album unto a new plane of being. It works quite well thank you, despite it's inherent short comings.

Enduring melodies, varied modes of attack, good old '80's cheese lyrically, and a timeless aggression vital for memorable metal, all combine to make this a most worthy aural journey. Riffs are strong, solos concise and well aimed, drums adventurous and more than adequate. Dungeon ride that mid pace gallop perfected and perpetrated by other luminaries such as the previously mentioned NWOBHM punters, another touchstone being Cirith Ungol, Dungeon mirroring their off beat approach and unpredictability. The vocalist occasionally reminds one of Ungol's Godly Tim Baker as well, as he shrieks and growls his way through each mini epic, stamping each track with unbridled enthusiasm and authority. A certain Savatage -like aura is also attained.

I highly recommend this sledge to any fan of old school metal, or indeed any fan of good music period. In spite of it's underground production, and total obscurity then and now, Dungeon's Fortress of Rock is a valiant stab at metal relevance, and quite a successful one at that. The kind of obscurity that makes wading through mounds of dreck worthwhile. Enter the Dungeon.

Choice Cuts: Infernal Reign, Permanent Wish,Seasons of the Witch

Poobah – Steamroller

Posted by T. Bawden Tuesday, 16 June 2009 1 comments

Poobah – Steamroller – 4.5/5

First introduced to me on a mix shown to me by Mr. Costigan, it seems we weren’t the only ones to re-discover this lost late 70’s, prog rock gem, which saw itself re-issued only last month. Featuring most prominently a dirty and psychedelically toned guitarist with plenty of solo time, working with a vocalist whose versatility resonates throughout. From the slow and soft ballads, the virtuoso leads, and the track that initially caught my attention, the oddly addictive “Jump Thru the Golden Ring.” Ignore the bad artwork, for this is one band that still feels fresh 40 years since its creation.

The vocals vary from an almost whispered tone, to an all out rock scream, the short high pitched rock shrieks to the schizophrenic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ style ‘talking to yourself’ tone (e.g. Jump Thru the Golden Ring). He even manages to pull off an impressive cover of Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” which actually feels weaker as a song than most of the material present here. Most commonly utilising a distinct yet catchy tone his contributions are second only to the impeccable guitar work.

With a crunch he lays down a deep distortion filling the job of both rhythm, and most prominent member. Alternating with the vocals he provides short solos with no shortage of style as he plays something in between a jazz-fusion inspired frenzy of creativity, and a bass-filled, proto-stoner groove, proving capable of slow bluesy tones as well as being a match for the Schenkers of the genre in an all-out shred-match. One of the truly great unknown guitarists, this album demonstrates he is deserving of recognition well beyond what he receives.

The drumming is competent but relegated to the background, and the bass for the most part is only heard keeping the rhythm during the guitar solos, but their presence doesn’t feel too sorely missed. Even including – on top of the cover – 30mins of live material, this is an album of two members, and they dominate and walk all over the place, chaotic, frantic, melodic and psychedelic this is one blast of prog rock goodness that shouldn’t have been forgotten.

Highlights: Jump Thru the Golden Ring, She’s That Kind of Lover, Don’t Change

Hai Karate – Hai Karate

Posted by T. Bawden Sunday, 14 June 2009 0 comments

Hai Karate – Hai Karate – 3.5/5

Another one from Mans Ruin records, the record label who showed me ‘Greenmachine’ have presented to me on a silver platter a Punk band that could have been so much more. With energy coming out every orifice this band bounds on with catchy riffs, multi-layered harmonies and dirty guitar solo’s. With plenty of diversity throughout this albums course it provides an entertaining, but rather too short, splutter of in-your-face, high octane punk rock.

The guitars are thick and dirty, with a mean aggression they play a constantly changing array of chord sequences, the songs kept short enough that it doesn’t get old (clocking an average of just 2 minutes), and can survive a number of listens. Often contributing short solo’s to the track, whilst not the most technically capable each solo feels tailored to fit with the track. The bass sticks largely to the background, and the drums provide plenty of fills as it bombards you throughout the songs duration, and the multiple vocals give the final kick. In the classic Ramones ‘We can’t actually sing but we don’t care and will yell at you instead’ style, its earthy and shouted nature adds an aggressive touch that would be lost using a more conventional singer. With attitude he finalises a simplistic tone that needs nothing else. Except, of course more of it all.

This “album,” woefully clocks in at just 18 minutes, and passes by all too quickly. More suitable for a demo perhaps, it questions where did the rest go? And with no follow-up, this lone release gives a snippet into a band that could have been, a glimpse of an artist that for some reason, unfortunately, couldn’t quite make it.

Highlights: Bad Luck, Tear Your World in II, Get Off My Planet

Alamaailman Vasarat – Huuro Kolkko

Posted by T. Bawden Friday, 12 June 2009 0 comments

Alamaailman Vasarat – Huuro Kolkko – 4/5

Trust the Finnish to choose a name so obscure no English-speaking man would be capable of remembering. Rather aptly chosen considering the overtly Avant-Garde sound I would be hesitant to refer to as a form of Jazz. An instrumental piece, certainly with many of the instruments associated with the genre; cello, trumpets, trombones and tuba’s, saxophones, drums and clarinets, the sounds created belong to no jazz genre. Likewise they can’t be pinned to any specific rock or metal genre, feeling neither ‘here nor there’ but rather an obscure ‘in-between,’ breaching a void that previously I was blissfully unaware even existed.

At times displaying an unusual melancholic chaos, other times a thick doom filled confusion. The doom-filled tuba, creating a tone so deep it has drone bands shitting themselves, counteracted perfectly with an assortment of unconventional saxophone styles and the slow grinding of cello’s. Quickly transitioning into a strong ‘groove,’ fitting somewhere between jazz funk and old school doom, once again counter-balanced by the upbeat tune of the cello’s, sounding something perhaps akin to if Petrucci (Dream Theatre) collaborated with Paganini (classical composer).

In a break from tradition, in getting to grips with the scale of tones provided here, background information as the inspiration of the band (and in particular this album, taken from their own site) may be of benefit. Huuro Kolkko was a Finnish explorer in the early 1900s unrecognised by his peers. He received no funding, and without hope of being remembered for his work he set off to explore the world, discovering untouched islands, lost tribes and cataloguing a vast array of new plant and animal life. This is the album in memory of his journeys, taking influences from his notes and journals chronicling his travels. This means that the music is just as likely to transport you to a lazy afternoon in China as it is the tribes of Africa, the folk tones of the Middle East or the energetic bazaars of Morocco.

Each instrument is carefully layered in a rich – almost classical – composition, yielding focus to various instruments too numerous to number. In fact, conventional instruments wasn’t even enough to satisfy this bands desire for specific sounds, playing a ‘tubax’ (somewhere between a tuba and a saxophone, designed and made in ’99, delivering a more earthy, rich timbre at a deeper tone to the sax) as well as playing the cello so slowly so as to deliver a slow grinding tone, similar to a pick scrape on a guitar (except at a constant pitch). Despite this, the cello’s frequently find themselves stealing the show, heavily distorted and amplified to play somewhere between the more conventional acoustic sound, and their equivalent of the noise-rock tone, providing a unique atmosphere even when the saxophone is most prominent.

The band describes themselves (jokingly) as “kebab-kosher-jazz-film-tr

affic-punk-music.” The joke is perhaps that this isn’t far from being true. This is the sort of Avant-Garde band that the other Avant-Garde bands pointed at in the playground and called weird. This is beyond most Avant-Garde, where you can pick out the influences; this is a seamless blur of genres, swaggering past with a grin as it watches you try to piece it together again. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoyed “Diablo Swing Orchestra,” what it lacks in vocals it makes up in sheer consistency. It simply has to be heard to understand.

Highlights: Mielisaurus, Tujuhuju, Luola

Norbert Kraft - Guitar Favourites - 4.5/5
(sorry for the link - best one I could get)

Here we have to do with something frightening and strange in the world of metal - classical Spanish guitar. Luckily for me my father`s addicted to classical music, so I have plenty to choose from and possibly the most beautiful of classical instruments is the guitar - elegant, energetic, timeless.

The album is a selection of Norbert Kraft`s guitar favourites, as the name implies. Some of the works have been transcribed from other instruments to the guitar, i.e. Niccolo Paganini`s Romanze. Kraft delivers a strikingly lively and emotional interpretation of the pieces - fast when it needs to be fast and slow when it needs to be slow. Even though he`s Canadian one feels like you`re being transported into the corridirs of El Cid`s palace in the 1300`s, where the ministrels compete for the king`s favour. From the beginning one will be persuaded to dance, to cry, to sing and to laugh.

This being a classical album, there isn`t really much further that I can say. It`s a beautiful interpretation of some of the most wonderful compositions of all time. Composers of the likes of Albéniz, Villa-Lobos and Tárrega are perfectly done justice in this fantastic album.

So sit back, relax and let the music soothe you and take your emotions on a once-in-a-lifetime trip through the Spanish guitar. Olé!

Highlights: "Albéniz: Asturias (Leyenda)", "Granados: Danza Española #5"

Frozenpath - Apocalyptic Winter

Posted by T. Bawden Wednesday, 10 June 2009 0 comments

Frozenpath - Apocalyptic Winter - 3/5

I can`t believe it! My one shot at finding decent South African Black Metal and I get this! I`ve had high hopes for this album, but I my first thought on listening was "". But the reader should keep in mind that I`m not the biggest Symphonic Black Metal fan and I also have some other predjudices that play a role.

I`ll start with the superficial bits. The album cover is, in itself, a piece of art. A shot of a misty mountain paired with the names "Frozenpath" and "Apocalyptic Winter" awakens expectations of a mystical, empowering ride through the mind of a true pagan. I was expecting this AND much more. How wrong I was.

When the intro started playing I was still being put under a false impression. Dramatic piano along with the usual choir-sounds that we come to expect of Symphonic music. But from the first track it all goes horribly wrong. The overall atmosphere is still in the region of "Symphonic" for the first part of the album, yet later in the album, in "2012: A New Day Of Empery", for example, one gets the distinct impression that Symphonic BM has suddnely turned into Metalcore. Instead of good, solid tremelo picking, we get riffs that are more comparable to Bring Me the Horizon than to Emperor. It`s that all-too-familiar feeling that the band has run out of good ideas but someone insisted on adding another track.

The drumming is of acceptable standard, though you do start feeling like telling Vinter that there are other drums than the bass-drum, later on. The guitarring is nowhere near good enough, though. Instead of supporting the feel of the music it tries to take centre stage and fails miserably, I might add, since there is only one leading instrument in this composition and possibly the biggest compliment to the whole operation: the keys. Finely placed, often sinister sounding keyboard dominates the entire project, often in the form of pure piano. It`s the only part succeeding in giving you that cold sensation that you expect on seeing the cover. But in the end one instrument can`t make up for an entire, decidedly sub-par ensemble.

Finally, I have one last complaint: the vocals. The first 30 seconds or so of vocals are those basic, throat-produced screams that I have come to expect and adore in Black Metal, but it all falls apart when, for some unknown reason, Vinter adds that disgusting abomonation of a sound that is the Grindcore gurgle. I cannot stress how much I hate that sound, but this is my own predjudice, if you can look past, or even like, it, this album is for you.

There`s nothing majorly wrong in this album. If one of these tiny mistakes were made I would be able to look past it but, sadly, there are just too many tiny mistakes. A build-up of insignifigant splinters of imperfection pull together to make the stake that deals the final blow, through the albums heart. If you really like your BM - you might like this; if you`re looking for perfection - look elsewhere.

Highlights: Frozenpath, Putrid Possession

Envy – Insomniac Doze

Posted by T. Bawden 1 comments

Envy – Insomniac Doze – 3.5/5

Naturally in keeping with my Japanese kick comes a post-rock/post-hardcore band that at first glance impressed me. With an opener holding as much impact as the first time I’d heard that iconic introduction for ‘Limbs’ (Agalloch), this is an artist oozing with emotions, filled with climactic crescendo’s and as many thick epic passages as delicate notes, its only disappointment in this sorrowful journey is that of longevity.

The first obstacle I was expecting to encounter was the vocals. Sung entirely in Japanese, the emotional tones he succeeds in portraying makes the lyrics an unnecessary inclusion, from the gentler, solemn tones to the screams, both seem to come from the heart, with a deep-set emotion that cannot be faked. Whilst I’m sure many pricked their ears up and the mention of ‘screams’ – for indeed, these are the same screams that identifies the genre of ‘screamo’ – they have done what many an artist before them have failed; they have shown me the merits in that style. With a raw and energetic emotion, the impact is unbelievable, retaining a ‘crying through the microphone’ tone, it somehow lacks feelings of teenage angst. This is the mature realisation of a dire situation, the complete breakdown of comprehension and knowledge of what to do next, and it is this complete and utter desperation, the feeling of hopelessness that has been performed so magnificently that constitutes the major highlight in their work.

The backing is very simplistic, minimalist in its attempt to accent the emotions presented, carefully worked in a multi-layered harmony, keyboards, drums, guitars and bass all clearly heard working in unison to provide this atmosphere, capable of producing a slow and barren tone, slowly building up with ease to a climax by the slow inclusion of additional instrumentation, or rapidly transitioning between thickness of tones. Whilst no instrument stands out, they all succeed in working in unison to accomplish what is required of them, and none are left feeling redundant, except perhaps taking second place to the vocals.

Unfortunately, despite all this effort that has gone into creating such a piece, there is no diversity to it. The vocals literally have those two tones and nothing else – if he isn’t screaming in a repetitive manner he’s softly speaking in a repetitive manner. The guitars have the same tone for the entire albums length, the keys stick to the same few chords and the bass is even simpler in tone than most rock bands. Somewhere around the third track, this becomes really striking as you realise that the tracks are almost impossible to distinguish, leading to a tiresome affair which the emotion itself – also at a constant – cannot sustain. The epic climactic crescendo’s that are in no short supply feel identical, and whilst all this may not present an issue for some, I expect will lead to a short-lived affiliation for many.

Highlights: Further Ahead of Warp, Crystallize, Night in Winter

Gert Vlok Nel - Beaufort-Wes se Beautiful Woorde - 5/5

Where to start with this album? I decided to share some of South Africa`s finest work with you and only one album came to mind. Before you listen make sure you get a box of tissues and a strong whiskey to still the pain: this album is no joke.

I know you won`t all be able to understand the lyrics (translations can be organised, if you want, and I actually reccomend asking) but this is so much more powerful than just the lyrics. As I am writing, not listening on the words, I can feel the shooting, ice-cold emotional pain that this man has managed to convey in just 44 minutes. Many artists have been called blues: Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC... This album puts all of these bands to shame in what it really means to sing the blues.

I can`t call the album "minimalist" as there is a very distinct use of instrumentation, lively drumming in "Rivier" or steel guitar in "Hillside Lullaby", for example, but most of the album is dominated by the acoustic guitar, harmonica and desparing wail of Nel. An almost repetitive musical sequence is present in all the songs but to call it boring is, quite simply, to lie. To call this music repetitive is like calling a roller-coaster repetitive: true, but unfair.

I once heard someone saying of the blues: "Blues is about the guitar. The singer is only there to narrate." But what Nel has managed to accomplish is so much more: a myriad of techniques, ranging from a morbid female back-up singer to subtle touches of piano, are successfully used to create an unforgettable atmosphere. All of this is only improved by the fact that this man is a poet of the highest quality.

The lyrics don`t paint a very different picture: an ongoing road-trip through the pains and sorrows of Nel`s mind. From a tale of lost love ("Beatiful in Beaufort-Wes") to a eulogy for one of Afrikaans music`s greatest legends, who sadly passed away in a road-accident ("Waarom Ek Roep Na Jou Vanaand"), this album shows you exactly how it would feel if everything you love, died and you were slowly walking to the cliff where you were going to commit suicide. I don`t even care about the constant English words he throws in and I`m the biggest Afrikaans-purist you`ll ever meet!

The only downside to the album is the few scratches on the first track but I am willing to take full responsibility for that (scratched CD`s and such) and hope it doesn`t keep you from enjoying the sweet, sweet melancholy that Gert Vlok Nel has ceated.

(Link provided by me :D AND YOU`D BETTER APPRECIATE IT!)

Highlights: Every-bloody-thing! And I`m not even kidding!

» Click to show lyrics - click again to hide... «

Emir Hot – Sevdah Metal

Posted by T. Bawden Sunday, 7 June 2009 0 comments

Emir Hot – Sevdah Metal – 4/5

I should really stop making such judgements about genres because it seems as soon as I point something out I discover a flurry of bands proving me wrong (see "Vanishing Point" review). In this case by dislike for Prog/Power has given me yet another reason in the form of a Bosnian (though he now resides in the UK) guitar virtuoso by the name ‘Emir Hot.’ Joined by vocal powerhouse John Hunt (Artension/Royal Hunt) and drummer virtuoso Mike Terrana (Masterplan/Artension/Rage/Gamma Ray), this is neo-classsical without the wankery, with strong influences from the traditional Bosnian music called ‘Sevdah,’ integrated in such a way to lend a distinctly unique result.

The drumming more than competent, he presents no issues providing a solo (and indeed does in ‘Sevdah Metal Rhapsody’), whilst often finding himself relegated to the back he does so with ease, creating a number of perfectly fitting beats and fills, he works to seamlessly integrate the variety of tempo’s and emotional tones presented by the vocalist – and that’s no small range. With a variety of aggression behind his voice, the vocals can often be slow and gentle, yet still capable of performing with ease where the music requires him to go into overdrive. With a clarity that allows each word to be heard with ease, he provides the ‘yin’ to the guitarists ‘yang,’ providing an addictive melody and thoughtful lyrics, written by Emir Hot himself with influences taken from his life in Bosnia.

Despite this, the focus frequently finds its way to the guitars, and their unique blend of neo-classical shredding and ‘Sevdah.’ Sevdah can be described as an unusual blues-toned boisterous folk-like music, which as you might expect feels like something of a juxtaposition of the lightning quick neo-classical aggression, but these aren’t the only sounds he creates. From soft acoustic ballads to more conventional sounding tracks, he bounces off of guest work from accordians, xylophones and keyboards during his solo pieces which are in no short supply.

This is an album built around the epic “Sevdah Metal Rhapsody” – a medley of covers from traditional Sevdah tracks, which can be seen throughout the tracks. Everything feels carefully planned, from the well written lyrics to the unique solo’s, the way everything is worked so as to not give too much attention to any one source – this feels less like a solo album and more of a group effort with, many individual contributions despite the presence of a leader. This may still be his debut album, but already he’s made something of an impression; one which I only hope he can build on in the near future.

Highlights: Devils in Disguise, Sevdah Metal Rhapsody, Stand and Fight

Frank Klepacki – Infiltrator

Posted by T. Bawden Thursday, 4 June 2009 0 comments

Frank Klepacki – Infiltrator – 4/5

Now, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that for most this name means nothing to the majority reading this. Most notably known as the composer for the “Command and Conquer” series, he is a solo artist in his own right. Something of an oddity, his music can perhaps best be described as an instrumental fusion of hard rock, hip-hop, electro, and funk. Attached to no label (disliking the thought) and releasing all his material himself, this sees him drawing inspiration from his earlier C&C material, if you belong to the majority unaware of his existence, this – his most recent album – is as good a place as any to become acquainted with his unique style.

The diversity between the tracks is what gives this album such depth, with a variety of tempo’s he utilises bass lines so funky they make funkadelic look bad, to the boisterous hip-hop drum beats. The soft and calming keyboard lines, to the all out hard rock fury, complete with heavy, grinding distortion of the guitars, wailing cymbal crashes and even a guitar solo, to adequately describe everything he accomplishes in the space of a little under 40 minutes is a mammoth challenge. Each track achieving a completely unique tone, he will make you nod your head, groove to the funk and transport to a world of calm with each passing track, and then he’ll start all over again. Not that those aspects are mutually exclusive, frequently (at least) two of the four major genres he draws influence from will take precedence, resulting in an assortment of odd blends as you swoon to a calm funk, groove to hard rock and relax to a crunchy blend of rock and electro, and as confusing as all that sounds it works unbelievably well.

Whilst this can certainly be considered experimental, at no point does it feel as such. Everything fits nicely into place to create a multi-layered composition, as fans will be able to attest. Those who know of his works can expect some of the finest music the man has made since those early ‘Red Alert’ days. As for the rest of you, listen as he makes an impossibly complicated premise seem simple.

Highlights: Militant Funk, Ownage, Odd Funk, The Reaping

Album: Hold Your Horse Is
Artist: Hella
Released: 2002
Rating: 4/5

Hella are an instrumental math rock band made up of two guys. Guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill play difficult, twisted songs that ignore conventional structures and have a strange, unique sound. The music is definitely an acquired taste, but for people willing to take a chance, it's worth it.

Zach Hill's drumming decides what direction the songs are going in. His drumming is frantic, chaotic, fast, and all over. On the first few listens, it can seem like he isn't following any time signatures or patterns, but after a few listens, patterns begin to emerge. He seems to take most of his influence from free jazz. He keeps the rhythms constantly changing and twitching throughout the album.

Spencer Seim's guitar playing is similarly fast and chaotic. His playing is ultra-rapid and jumpy. He makes runs up and down the fretboard which become twisted and mangled and bounces riffs all over without seeming showy. He displays bits of noise and surf-rock influence that pop up throughout the songs in the single note runs and bits of noise that occasionally appear.

The album is most clearly influenced by the work of math rock trailblazers Don Caballero, but this is still something else entirely. Along with the math rock influencs, genres like free jazz, surf rock, noise, electronic and a few others. Hella do remember to include melody among all the rythmic shifts and noise, you'll just have to listen a few times to find it.

Hold Your Horse Is isn't an easy album to get into, but for people willing to put the time in, there are alot of rewards here. The musicianship is superb and the songs are all good.

Highlights: "Biblical Violence", "Been A Long Time Cousin", "Republic of Rough And Ready"

Band : Hieronymus Bosch
Album : The Human Abstract
Link :
Rating : 4/5

So, Upon debating whether Opeth should be labeled "Progressive death metal" , the name Hieronymus Bosch was mentioned as a good example of progressive death metal, so, I decided to check out this Russian band - I havent been impressed by the Russian DM scene to be honest - not knowing what to expect, I downloaded this album, upon first listen, this reminded me greatly of Atheist in the technicality, prominent and thick bass, and the guttural growls .

The songs structure is rather complex, as you're often surprised with always changing time signatures and many transitions where acoustic guitars are often used, but it's not too complex to repel you of the whole thing. The guitar leads are quite impressive , the riffs are catchy, harmonic and memorable, showing great level of technicality at the same time. The drumming is dominated by the guitars as it's really a guitar driven album, but has a solid presence nontheless with some shiny moments. The bass as previously mentioned plays an remarkable role in this album, adding depth to the tracks and melding greatly with the guitars. The vocals are nothing special , actually they rather sound boring , but doesnt affect the overall sound much. The production is good , instruments are audible , the drums being the less audible one though.

Now, the problem with this album is, the songs dont differ much from one another, not as in theyre boring, no, at all, but as if it's the same song being played over and over with just different - but great to be honest - riffs. Overall, this is a pretty solid album, decent listen , fans of bands like Atheist or Cynic should get this.

Highlights : Expectation Of Autumn, The Gardens Of Earthly Delights.

The Sounds of Animals Fighting – The Ocean and the Sun

Posted by T. Bawden Wednesday, 3 June 2009 0 comments

The Sounds of Animals Fighting – The Ocean and the Sun – 4/5

Borne out of the ska band “Rx Bandits” to call this band experimental doesn’t quite convey the full meaning of the word; it would be like saying Cannibal Corpse sound ‘mildly agitated.’ It’s as though they have tossed away the rulebook and come up with their own set of guidelines, and then proceeded to systematically break them in turn. With a strong 'post-hardcore meets post-rock' core to their sound, they fuse the occasional atmospheric electronic passage with an (at times eerie sounding) space-rock psychedelic motif, intertwined with passages of unbridled technicality in the veins of rolo tomassi or protest the hero and a healthy dollop of good ol’ fashioned noise rock. Needless to say, this is a real bitch to adequately describe.

Despite the number of guests, especially vocalists, throughout the album, the vast majority of the music is performed the core of four, who for the most part contribute an impressive degree of prowess which is essential in making an endeavour such as this work. Perhaps the weakest link is the lead vocalist, those with hatred for ‘screamo’ vocals need not fear, for whilst shouting frequently occurs in the more aggressive passages, it all retains a comparatively clean tone. Performing well within his niche but with limited range, this could easily result in a monotonous affair at times, if not for the guitarist contributing heavily, as well as the aforementioned guests. Used sparingly, it contributes much like an additional layer of instrumentation, switching vocalists like a guitarist uses his effects pedals.

And with the guitarist, performing more of a fluid transitional piece than standard riffs, is the primary contributor to the atmosphere presented, be it psychedelic and slow or upbeat technical mastery. From the cleanest – almost jazzy – tones to the gritty and crunchy distortion of hard rock his versatility and creativity is pivotal in making this release so bizarre. Despite this, the show for me is well and truly stolen by the drumming, insatiably chaotic, there are no simple beats to be heard here. Even in the slower passages, he provides a constant variation, working an unusual harmony with the rest of the instrumentation that assists in doing so much more than just keeping a beat. A modern master of his instrument, if he ever receives considerable recognition it won’t be a moment too soon.

But despite all this, it’s not an album for everyone; it is at the end of the day, one of the most bizarre sounding pieces I’ve had the joy of listening to. However, if you do decide to embark on this 50 minute journey, prepare yourself for an acid-overdose of a lifetime.

Highlights: Another Leather Lung, The Heraldic Break of the Manufacturer’s Medallion, Blessings be your Mister V, On the Occasion of Wet Snow

Band : Mar De Grises
Album : The Tatterdemalion Express
Link :
Rating : 4.5/5

Mar De Grises are a doom metal band originating from Chile. Honestly, I'am very picky when it comes to doom, meaning only few doom release manage to attain my interest and a most of them are death/doom. Now to just state they're doom metal wouldn't be fair. They mix various elements of different sub-genres of doom and blend them masterfuly to be honest, with the high sense of melody taken from melodic death metal - dont worry that's all they've taken of it - You find yourself upon a rather rarety of a doom metal album.

The song structures are quite interesting although it sticks to simple time signatures and non-complex transitons as there are many transitions thrroughout the whole album. The instruments, despite the high rating, are nothing special, not much of interesting guitar leads, spectacular drumming or special bass riffing. This really isnt due to the lack of talent of the band members, no, they show that they can be capable of technical music, but choose not to, but it's due to the fact they choose to work as one big instrument to serve the purpose of creating a romantic melancholic atmosphere, and they managed greatly to do so. Before moving on, I must emphasise on the keyboardist , I know I've said the instruments arent anything special, but the keyboard is, it works perfectly in the background without dominating other instruments but yet you can feel it's remarkable overwhelming presence, there's also a piano/keyboard solo " Self Portrait No.1 " which is quite beautiful really. The vocals are mostly high pitched - emotional - growls, with the presence of clean vocals in the more soothing sections of the tracks.

The production is great, all the instruments are audible , though not beeing clean for it's own sake, bottom line, fits the atmosphere created perfectly.

This is a great album for what it is, quite a treat for doom fans, and might appeal to non doom fans either.

Highlights : Self Portrait No.1 , Recklessness.

Leonard Cohen - Recent Songs - 4.5/5

For my second review I have chosen one of my all-time favourite albums. One of the reasons for this is that I wanted to provide the good folks of Lifer a gate into another side of the musical spectrum - lyrically-based Folk Music - while also getting a chance to listen to this great album again. I`m still struggling to describe exactly what I`m hearing but, if you`ll bear with me:

It kicks off with "The Guests", a song which immediately creates that wonderfully melancholic atmosphere that I have come to love and expect of Leonard Cohen. From the start of the album the listener is taken on a trip of Cohen`s memory to look at the sorrowful ruins and jolly carnivals that occupy this almost disturbed man`s mind. Aided by a very minimalistic instrumental approach, the album creates a perfect atmosphere for the listener to regard the lyrics in.

Most of the album consists of a deep, almost gutteral bass-sound, a few light notes played on the guitar, an electric organ and Cohens voice, telling of his loves and losses. In most of the songs there are additional instruments, i.e. a mariachi band in "The Ballad of the Absent Mare" and a violin in "The Guests", but the backbone of the album is clearly the almost exaggerated bass and Cohen`s own guitarring and vocals. I find that to be pretty sufficient to describe the musical aspect of the album, because spending too much time on the music doesn`t do justice to what I think is actually the central focus of this creation: the lyrical aspect.

From tales of heartbreak ("The Traitor") to the story of a lost Canadian boy ("Un Canadien Errant"), Cohen takes us on a mental ride of emotions: love, death, fear, sadness, joy and regret. Where one will be forced to want to get up and dance at the start of "Un Canadien Errant", you will shortly procede to weep on Cohen`s behalf in "The Gypsy`s Wife" and equally abruptly become relaxed and quiet when he starts reminiscing on his life in "The Smokey Life", aided by a smooth electric piano. I would heartily advise all listeners to get the lyrics and follow them if they expect to get the full impact.

What saddens me is the fact that most people immediately turn off the music when they realise that there is no adrenaline rush to be gotten from listening to this and never realise just what it is they are actually missing. Do yourself a favour and spend the 53 minutes to listen to this long, boring, deppressive... masterpiece.

Highlights: Came So Far for Beauty, Ballad of the Absent Mare.

Hank Williams III - Damn Right, Rebel Proud

Posted by T. Bawden Monday, 1 June 2009 0 comments

Album: Damn Right, Rebel Proud
Artist: Hank Williams III
Released: 2008
Rating: 4/5

Hank Williams III, Hank 3, or simply 3. He has many names by which he goes, but only one mission, to reclaim country from the clutches of the establishment. While this is career that started as a court appointed job. He has been on this mission for a while and like any good artist is honing his skills with every release. This one finds him combing not only his love of country but adding more of his punk influences. The “Hellbilly” is in full affect.

3 pull’s no punches on this album. Foregoing the small slice of punk in is songs and going full boar. With the opening song, The Grand Ole Opry (Ain’t So Grand), you know right away this is not your father’s country music. He is never one to shy away from conflict and these songs prove it. The topics he speaks of are not the type that radio is all that comfortable with playing, especially Country radio. Butt whether it is about suicide or his ode to G.G. Allin, you never doubt his sincerity. His lyrics are basic. There are no hidden meaning his feelings are as raw as his music. None more so than 3 Shades of Black (a song that every metal fans should hear), just Hank 3 and his guitar. He has the ability to combine the vocal emotion and sound of his grandfather (the legendary father of Country Hank Williams Sr.) and the subject matter and fearlessness of his father. Anti-establishment is something a lot of artists aspire for. 3 has it running through his veins.

Musically this is a varied album. Songs ranging from slow country ballads to full on barnburners. He can make you cry with one and make you throw up the horns on the next. Most of the songs incorporate many of the standard instrumentation one would expect from true country. The production is clean and allowing each instrument to be heard. Whether banjo, steel guitar, or Dobro all are used to great affect. From the plucking of a stand up bass to the crying steel guitar, none over power the others but compliment each other in the mix. Allowing the listener to get a feeling for each instrument. These songs beg to be played live. Some even feeling as though when played live could lead to some interesting improvisation. While it is a Hank album he has never half assed it when it came to finding talented musicians for his band. This album is no exception, even enlisting the talents of Marty Stuart. Maybe the first sign that some in the establishment are with him on his mission.

While he may add punk and sprinkle some hard-core vocals in for affect, make no mistake these are Country songs. Made by the son and grandson of Country royalty. While some with that kind of family tree would be comfortable to rest on those credentials alone, Hank feels it his job to blaze his own path. He could easily play radio-friendly country and watch the dollars roll in. But instead is willing to risk it all and play his brand of country despite what others may say. Making his father proud, and you can be sure his grandfather, wherever he may be, is glad to see his grandson carrying on the family tradition.

Highlights: 3 Shades of Black, Workin’ Man, The Grand Ole Opry (Ain’t So Grand)

Citadel - Игра Света и Тени – 3.5/5

After finishing its third spin, I realised I still couldn’t remember any of the tracks, and therein lies the problem here. By all means I should be reeling over from shock at the sheer number of layers they’ve successfully integrated here, clean male and female vocals, high pitched soprano, flutes, high octane guitar leads and atmospheric keyboards with a littering of violin backing, and even a saxophone on the second track, nothing feels as though it was performed especially poorly, but somehow I often find myself drifting, allowing it to become background music too readily. It is this unfortunate lack of gripping leads that ultimately spoils an otherwise intriguingly unique symphonic/power metal album

Getting the main obstacle out of the way first, be prepared for high pitched soprano. Very high pitched (think the highest note possible by Logdlund of ‘Diablo Swing Orchestra’) in fact. Performed by the second female vocalist, it constitutes a relatively minor presence compared to the leading lady, who favours less of a shrill tone, she works with the third ‘backing’ vocalist (yes, there are three different vocalists with notable presence). Working the upper tenor register he works well playing off of the soprano to provide a soothing vocal harmony, and whilst both are performed well (particularly the soprano) neither seem top of their game, providing the grace but lacking in the power at times. Sung entirely in Russian, it lends a unique, and oddly not as hardened tone as expected, which only adds to the unique end result.

The guitars for the most part do little creatively, creating competent riffs, occasionally going acoustic, the two guitarists working together coherently, and the lead providing upbeat – if not neo-classical in feel – shredded solos. Not void of melody, he is capable of performing well at a slower pace too, if not perhaps the highlight of the outfit he certainly does nothing to bring it down. The flutes, however, felt vastly underused. Proudly displaying their prowess in the instrumental (track 7), which quite frankly wouldn’t feel out of place in Kalevala (Russian Folk), their delicate and unique touch creates a draw like nothing else on the album can.

Unfortunately, these dominating layers tend to render the violins for the most part lost and inaudible in the backing, a situation only more problematic when it comes to the bass, which becomes almost entirely redundant. The drumming comes through clearly, with a decent repertoire of fills he greatly assists the guitars, particularly in creating tension, but the keyboards – like the flute – whilst having specific moments to shine, and in such situations assist in providing a soft and fragile atmosphere and mellower passages, once again for the most part feel lost behind the guitar and vocal work.

There is a lot present here, and certainly the potential to produce a unique strain of the genre, but too often it gets dominated by the same two aspects, which simply don’t have the draw required to create something memorable. Their greatest strength lies in their multi-layered approach, but there is still work to be done, and I have hopes that they can improve on this. Certainly worth a look if you’re getting tired of the same style, don’t go expecting a work of genius and you’ll uncover a solid and satisfying release.

Highlights: Track 2, Track 6, Track 7

Vanishing Point – The Fourth Season – 4.5/5

I don’t like prog/power, quite simply. Overpopulated by musicians who treat the genre as an excuse to cobble together some half-assed cheesy lyrics and play their instruments incoherently as quickly as they can, so when I point out that this is probably one of the best releases I’ve had the joy of listening to within this genre, you can be damn sure I mean it. Not driven by technicality, but by mature emotion, void of any feelings of angst or whining, everything they compose serves to assist in this regard. Comparable to a ‘Fullness of Time (Redemption) meets Underworld (Adagio)’ affair, each instrument is worked seamlessly to provide a perfect harmony.

The artwork present here aptly describes exactly what to expect from this release, simplistic, elegant, epic and with a slightly darkened tone, this is one release with a difference. Barely feeling belonging to the progressive genre, the tempo shifts and time signatures are done in such a way to feel completely natural, retaining a deceptive complexity as each aspect feels connected. The keyboards providing more than a simple backing, often directly contributing to the melody without feeling overwhelming in making light of the emotions contained, with a subtle repressed tone they work their magic without undermining the phenomenal guitar work.

And the guitar work truly is phenomenal, the bass creating a deep, almost gothic crunch, evoking a storm on the senses, working with the guitars to create perfect transitions between passages; dark, depressed, furious and epic, the range and versatility is remarkable. With no short supply of solos, creating a piece that – beyond all else – actually fits with the music, there is no sense of playing rapidly for the sake of it, it highlights their ability to create a seamless piece, with a truly remarkable sense of direction, as though each member envisions precisely the same result.

Even the drums are no slack here, whilst perhaps not as impressive as the other components they aren’t required to be. Simple, yet with plenty of variety, clearly paying careful attention to the rest of the components of the tracks and utilised to create additional impact at critical points, to give emphasis to the focus, which unquestionably is more often than not the vocalist. Why he isn’t being heralded as one of the greats already is a complete mystery to me, with all the power of LaBrie (Dream Theatre), aggression of Allen (Symphony X), and greater versatility than either of them, he delivers an emotional master class on vocal delivery. Without slacking for the lyrics (just listen to “A Day of Difference” for proof of that), he succeeds in creating an almost AOR feel to the proceedings, and is capable of a producing a whole range of tireless emotions in a supremely addictive tone that will have you bellowing along side for the entire albums duration.

If you’re looking for technical wizardry, you’ve come to the wrong place – go look up behold…the arctopus instead – because these Aussies are beyond that, better than it. This album proves something far more important than how quick they can play; it proves that they have passion. Only let down by a couple of sub-par tracks towards the end, this comes a whisker away from perfection. If you’re still reading this, stop. Its time to reach for the download link.

Highlights: Surrender, Hope Among the Heartless, Gaia, A Day of Difference

Averse Sefira - Tetragrammatical Astygmata - 4/5

Before I get going with my comments on the album the reader should be made aware of 2 things: 1) I am still a bit of a n00b when it comes to metal in general; 2) when I do listen to Black Metal, I like it raw. With that in mind let`s get going:

I know what a drag it is to read a 5 page review, so I`ll try to keep it short. The album kicks off (as all respectable Black Metal albums should) with a minute-long intro that, admittedly, becomes frustrating after the 2nd listen - an evil-sounding nik-nak to tantilise the listener for what`s to come, but nothing to get excited about. But soon after the 'assault on your senses' (I hope my phrasing is BM-cliché enough) begins when the eerie, warped sounds of "Exordium" (the intro) explodes into avalanche-sounds of "Detonation". The listener is swept away by a rain of purcussion and general noise which more or less gives one an idea of what`s to follow.

The rest of the album is equally raw and aggressive and even borders on predictable at times. No "luring into false sense of security" is ever experienced in this album - it`s just one big, aggressive mess of extremeness, but this is not necessarily a bad thing as one will be forced to want to listen to more after hearing the first song. Where some parts focus solely on creating a raw, demonic atmosphere even at the cost of intelligebility, i.e. "Cremation of Ideologies" which kicks off with Wrath Sathariel Diabolus screaming like only a unhappy toddler (haha) could, others have a clear melodic, albeit metallic and distorted, quality (think Vivaldi with distorted electric guitars and a drummer).

Sanguine Mapsama`s guitarring is pretty standard, with nothing really standing out as exceptionally good or bad, but a good overall effort that actually becomes quite catchy at times; the drumming is used to much avail to create an aggressive atmosphere that would make any Sunday-school teacher fall off his chair; the bass is... inaudible and, finally, the vocals: some excellently executed schreeches and screams puts one under the impression that something very bad is going to happen very soon.

One down-side of the album is the fact that you have to turn the volume up to the very maximum to get the full effect, as the production has rendered the album very soft - something which you will regret when another, louder album starts playing before you have time to turn down the volume.

I really like this band, it may not be the best thing out there but it gets the job done and very much so. So all hail to one of a very few American Black Metal albums that`s actually worth getting.

Highlights: Helix In Audience, Cremation of Ideologies.


Blog Archive


Guide to the Ratings
0/5 - This caused me physical pain
1/5 - This is really bloody awful
2/5 - This was below average
3/5 - This was above average
4/5 - This was pretty darn good.
5/5 - I cannot fault this epitome of perfection.

I cant guarantee all reviewers adhere to these guidelines, but work as a general guide.

Author's credit is given on all posts.