- Published on Monday, 30 July 2012 10:19
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 314
Dew-Scented – Icarus
German death thrashers Dew-Scented have returned with their ninth album, “Icarus.” I have to admit that while I have always known Dew-Scented was a good band, I have not listened to them all that much over the years. I think the first time I heard them was on their fifth album, 2003’s “Impact.” I recall being impressed with how technical they were and how much better they sounded than a lot of the death metal music at the time. I have listened to tracks in passing since then, but never got deep into the band.
My passing acquaintance with Dew-Scented is why, until now, I never noticed that all their albums begin with the letter “I.” I wonder what the story is behind choosing that letter. I find quirks like these interesting; the other one that comes to mind is Morbid Angel who started with “Altars of Madness” and then named each successive album with the next letter in the alphabet (“Blessed are the Sick”, “Covenant”…)
It should come as no surprise, after nine albums, that “Icarus” sounds pretty damn good. The production is tight and punchy and sounds professional without seeming over-produced. The guitars are very thrash-oriented in their riffing style, which I very much enjoy. The vocals are harsh and I guess one would say they are reminiscent of Swedish death metal, which means you can make out a lot of what he is saying.
I really enjoyed “Icarus.” It made me want to go back and listen to the Dew-Scented catalog to pick up on the things that I have missed. I also want to add that I really dig the album cover art; very nice! Check out the track “Sworn to Obey.”
Dead Label – Sense of Slaughter
Next up is Ireland’s Dead Label and their debut, “Sense of Slaughter.” Dead Label sound like they play somewhere between death metal and metalcore. Musically this leans more towards death metal, or even thrash. The vocals are harsh and could also be classified death metal, except they have that piercing screech which I tend to identify with metalcore. As a rule, I hate metalcore. Dead Label narrowly escapes being written off thanks to the music.
From a production standpoint “Sense of Slaughter” is fairly middle-of-the-road. It sounds reasonably clear and listenable, but lacks the crisp, clean sound needed to rise above the average.
Yes, I think average is where this album shakes out. I like the musicianship and production well enough, but the songwriting and vocals are just mediocre to my ears. “Sense of Slaughter” is certainly better than a lot of other crap out there, but it just does not make me excited.
Dark Desolation – Blasphemous Pestilence
Dark Desolation hail from Bangalore, India and “Blasphemous Pestilence” is their five song demo. Who knew there was so much metal going on in India? I have been aware of metal from India before, but I was curious as to how many metal bands are from the area. I looked on Encyclopaedia Metallum and they have 117 metal bands listed as being from India! Wow! Hearty hails to all our metal brethren in India!
Dark Desolation plays raw, evil sounding black metal. With names like Misanthropist, Blasphemer and Maggot, these guys are certainly embracing the genre.
It sounds like these songs were possibly recorded during different sessions, as the production quality changes from track to track. In fact, when trying to pull up something on YouTube to post, everything I found online sounded like a different version than what I have here on the demo. Below I have included the track “Dark Desolation” which sounds pretty good on YouTube. The demo version I have sounds like a lower quality production. On the demo, “Futile Dogma” sounds really good, yet on YouTube the version I found sounded lower quality.
Anyway, regardless of which version is which, I like what these guys are doing. The songs are intense and driving, opting for pure aggression over atmosphere and melancholy. They close out the demo with a cover of Dark Funeral’s “Secret of the Black Arts.”
Maladie – Plague Within
Fairly recently I posted a review of the German death metal band Tombthroat and their album, “Eden Apocalypse.” I mention this as two members of Tombthroat happen to round out the crew of Maladie. Where Tombthroat is death metal, Maladie is more black metal in origin. “Plague Within” is Maladie’s first album.
I really like the music on “Plague Within.” It has the same majestic, dare I say, almost happy musical quality that reminds me of “Anthems”-era Emperor. The vocals, though, sound anything but happy. They are harsh and slightly more buried in the mix than I care for, but you know, now that I think about it, they are vaguely Emperor-like too. Not so much “Anthems” though, more like the vocals from “Nightside.” There are some clean vocals supplementing the harsh vocals, and I think this does a lot toward keeping things interesting. I just wish both styles of vocals were a little higher in the mix.
As first albums go, “Plague Within” is pretty good. Maladie is apparently a project rather than a band, so who knows if the project will produce more music in the future. I would like to hear it if they do. I could not find any full songs on YouTube, but here is a trailer from Apostasy Records.
Monsterworks – Man :: Instincts
New Zealand’s Monsterworks has seven full-length albums under their belt already, and “Man :: Instincts” is their latest three-song EP. Playing a range of styles that includes stoner, thrash and death metal, Monsterworks is hard to label. They say they do not play so many different styles to show off, but because it is just what feels right in the moment. Fair enough. While it does come across as a little musically schizophrenic at times, the mix of styles does seem to work well for them.
I am only working with three songs here, so maybe I should check out some of the full albums to get a better taste of Monsterworks. In the meantime I will work with what I have. Monsterworks disdain the overly produced sound of digital recordings, and as such, they record on 2-inch 24 track tape. This gives the songs a slightly less polished sound (which I suppose they would call warm lol.) I can respect the choice, and while I prefer digital myself, these songs still sound pretty good.
The three songs only clock in around 13 minutes total, so it takes a few listens to get this written. I do not even want to take a stab at trying to describe these songs, I think it will be much easier if you just listen for yourself. Here is the track “Free Will.”