- Published on Thursday, 10 January 2013 10:48
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 1259
Norska – Norska
Norska is a sludge/doom metal band from Oregon and this is their self-titled first album.
I first came across Norska on Bandcamp, but for whatever reason I did not pick up the album. Then, as luck would have it, I received a copy from Brutal Panda Records. This afforded me the opportunity to give the band a closer listen, which in turn made me realize I should have picked up the album earlier.
One thing I found interesting about Norska was that even though they are a sludge metal band, the songs are heavy as fuck while remaining tight and cohesive. I love that they can be this heavy while not letting all that heavy muddy up the mix.
But wait, there’s more; these guys aren’t just ham-fisted power-chord Neanderthals. These songs also have an experimental progressive side to them as well. Just give a listen to the third track, “They Mostly Come at Night” (I believe the title is a nod to Newt in “Aliens” – “They mostly come out at night. Mostly.” If it isn’t, it should be.)
This is another album that I feel could have easily made the best-of list. It just goes to show, you can make the list 100, 200 or 500 bands long and you’ll never be able to fit in all the great metal produced in the world.
Don’t miss out on Norska. Check out the track “Amnesia.”
Abriosis – Vessel
Abriosis is a technical death metal band from Vancouver, B.C. and “Vessel” is their four-song EP follow up to the 2011 album, “Tattered and Bound.”
Abriosis features the harsh vocal talents of Alxs Ness, who happens to be of the female persuasion. These last few years women have been putting men to shame in the harsh vocal department. Albums from Cerebral Bore and Landmine Marathon have both left my eardrums bleeding. The past months have left me saddened that both Som and Grace have left their respective bands.
Alas, there are only four songs on “Vessel”, which clocks in at roughly 21 minutes. Despite the brief amount of time I got to spend with the band I was pretty impressed. These songs are all that one would expect from technical death metal: fast, heavy and technical metal songs executed with masterful precision. The production is pretty good and helps to showcase the various band members’ talents.
Abriosis is a death metal band worth paying attention to; I hope the metal world will take notice .
Check out the track “Crypsis.”
Crimson Blue – Innocence
Crimson Blue is a Russian band who bills themselves as Nu Art Metal, and “Innocence” is their first album.
I am immediately wary of any band that includes “Nu” in their description, but I decided to give the band a listen. After listening to the album I find myself torn about which way to come down about the band. On one hand, there is some pretty good Katatonia-esque melancholy styled atmospheric doom music. On the other hand there is a lot about this album that is striving for Evanescence-styled commercial rock accessibility.
I like the guitar and drum work. I could do without the poppin’ bass and the melodic female lead vocals. The musicianship is definitely there, as is the production quality. There is definitely an audience for this music, but I do not think I fit among that crowd. It is hard for me to knock an album where all the band members involved are obviously good at what they do, but this is just not my style of music.
Here is the album’s title track, “Innocence.”
Infected Flesh – Concatenation of Severe Infections
Infected Flesh is a death/grind metal band from Barcelona, Spain and “Concatenation of Severe Infections” is their third album.
It didn’t take me long to decide I wasn’t going to like this album. First of all, it is riddled with those little guitar squeals that make me think of sneakers squeaking on tiled floor. I could probably deal with that, but the vocals, while rather unique sounding, remind me of a cross between a belch and a throat cancer survivor. So even though the music is not so bad, the vocals make this unlistenable for me.
Here is track “Erase the Rictus.”
Harry Big Button – King’s Life
Boy, if ever I was ready for a palette-cleanser it is now. Luckily for me I have just the thing.
Back in November of 2011 I reviewed the three-song EP “Hard ‘N’ Loud” by Korean band Harry Big Button. Last month Harry Big Button main-man Sungsoo Lee sent me their latest, “King’s Life.” This album includes the three songs from “Hard ‘N’ Loud” as well as six new songs.
I enjoyed their EP, so I was glad to hear from Sungsoo and have an opportunity to hear their new material. There was roughly a three week break between our first and second emails. It turns out Sungsoo was in a bad traffic accident after we talked the first time, and by the second email he was just starting to recuperate. All my best wishes go out to Sungsoo for a speedy recovery. Hope you are back to 100% and rocking harder than ever real soon brother!
It is my pleasure to report that, while I liked the songs on “Hard ‘N’ Loud” (particularly “Angry Face”) I like the new songs even more. “King’s Life” is full of energetic, catchy and infectious hard rock music. My favorite part, as always, is Sungsoo’s deep thick vocals; dude has got a monster voice that is tailor-made for rocking.
MetalDisciple.com fully supports Harry Big Button and their new album, “King’s Life.” Make sure to pick up a copy of this album. To get you started, here is a live version of the album’s title track, “King’s Life.”
- Published on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 10:19
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 369
Newsted – Metal
Jason Newsted, a man who I am sure needs no introduction, has returned with a four song EP called “Metal.”
For those of you who need the history lesson, Jason of course once played with Flotsam & Jetsam before jumping ship to Metallica for a fifteen-year run. He left Metallica in 2001 and spent some time with both Ozzy Osbourne and Voivod. Now it appears Jason is ready to do it all his way; not only does he play bass on the EP, but he is handling the vocals as well.
I find myself hesitant to attach a label to these songs. If this were anyone other than Jason Newsted I would probably say this falls somewhere in the range of sludge/stoner/doom, but from what I’ve seen/heard of Jason I would guess he just calls this heavy-fuckin’-metal. That works for me.
I listened to the preview clips from these songs on iTunes about a week ago, and I was pretty impressed, so I pre-ordered the EP. I don’t normally bother with pre-ordering, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t forget about it when it was finally released. iTunes of course does nothing helpful when you pre-order; I still had to go seek it out this morning and tell it I wanted to download the songs.
So the million dollar question is how do the songs hold up? Well, personally I love all four of these songs. I sure hope Jason is hard at work flushing out a full album, because I want more, dammit. I have always respected Jason’s work ethic and how his love of the music outweighs the desire to make a cash grab by flashing his Metallica credentials. But he has been in the shadows long enough. It is time for Newsted to shine again. It’s only $3.99 on iTunes, pick up “Metal” and let Jason know we want to hear more.
Here is the teaser for the track “Soldierhead.”
Apocalypse Warhead – Opening the Silos
Apocalypse Warhead is a death metal band from Helsinki, Finland and “Opening the Silos” is their first album.
Holy shit! Forgive the pun, but when “Opening the Silos” started playing it was like a bomb went off in my headphones. The first few seconds nothing much is going on, and then all of a sudden there is a crushing wall of metal plowing over everything in its path. I picture one of those films of nuclear bomb detonations where buildings and trees just instantly go flat from the concussion wave. To put it in a musical comparison this is on the demolition level of bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse or Hour of Penance.
The only way an album of this ferocity will work is if the production is clear enough for the drums and guitars to both come across as clear and surgically precise. Mission accomplished I would say. The vocals are very harsh and sound really deep and throaty, but the production is such that they do not get buried. I may need a lyric sheet to know what he is saying, but at least I can hear him.
With a debut this crushing, what kingdoms will there be left to conquer? Make sure to give these guys a listen. Check out the title track from the album below.
Terrorway – Absolute
Terrorway is an Italian extreme metal band and “Absolute” is their debut EP.
So what exactly do I mean by extreme metal? Honestly, I am not sure, it was meant as a catch-all. Sometimes I get tired of splitting hairs and trying to properly place bands in the correct genus metallicus. The music is heavy, the vocals are mostly harsh, but not in a deep death metal kind of way.
The bass and drums get preferential treatment in the mix and sound really good. I just wish the guitars sounded a little more in-my-face. They sound like the guitars are standing behind the drums. The vocals are placed alright I suppose; they aren’t buried, but they could be a little more on top of things too. Otherwise, the production is pretty good.
Things started getting bogged down and boring for me in the middle of the EP with “Survivalist Instinct”, but “Threshold of Pain” pepped me up again.
“Absolute” is a strong debut. Reading the bio I noticed some, if not all of these songs, are several years old. They should head back into the studio and let us hear what they sound like now.
Check out the video for “Threshold of Pain.”
See the Sky – NWODOA
See the Sky hails from Denmark (though Blake Gardner, the guy who put the music bits together is Australian) and “NWODOA” is their first full-length album.
The bio on the band is rather interesting, but rather than retell it all, I will direct you to check out their Facebook page.
Well now I am going to seem just plain lazy, but honestly it makes no sense for me to paraphrase the description of their music when they say it so well: “Describing their style as 'PsyMetal', they fuse styles such as 'hardcore', 'doom', 'progressive' and 'numetal' under the umbrella of a mood driven psychodelic atmosphere that is created primarily by guitar effects, brooding vocals, groove heavy riffs and synth.”
The album has an experimental sound combined with a lot of electronic flourishes. That sort of thing tends to bore me pretty quickly, particularly with sweeping clean vocals. But just when I start nodding off, Bjarne hits me with some pretty crushing harsh vocals and my interest is renewed. At certain points in the album I start thinking this could double as a lost Voivod album, which also endears me towards the album. It isn’t really as heavy as Voivod, but it has that same feeling of doing something different from the norm, and I like that.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that it is going to take many repeat listens to extract all there is to appreciate about “NWODOA.” There is so much going on here, and most of it is far from typical fare for a metal album, so a couple quick run-throughs is never going to allow me to do this justice. That in itself is really enough to recommend the album.
Have a listen to the album trailer and check these guys out.
- Published on Monday, 07 January 2013 10:36
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 206
Infernal Poetry – Paraphiliac
Infernal Poetry is an Italian death metal band and “Paraphiliac” is their fourth album.
Death metal covers a pretty wide stretch of ground these days, so let me try to pinpoint Infernal Poetry’s sound a little better. This is not blood and guts brutal death metal. I suppose you could call it melodic death, only this is not your At The Gates or Soilwork kind of Swedish melodic death metal. “Paraphiliac” has a polished sound, but not quite so commercial a sound as I’ve come to associate with melo-death lately.
So we have heavy-yet melodic metal with harsh-but-intelligible vocals and a very solid production. I don’t know why I spend so much time trying to describe the sound when you can just go below and hear it for yourself. I forget myself sometimes.
The meat and potatoes of this write up is that I like what these guys are doing. Death metal can sometimes sound a little tired to me lately, because I’ve heard it all before, but sometimes a band just does such a good job that I can really get behind them. Such is the case with Infernal Poetry. I like this album.
16 – Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds
16 is a sludge metal band from Los Angeles and “Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds” is their sixth album. This album came out last April, but I just got this along with a bunch of other material from Relapse and I liked it enough to include it, despite the fact that it has already been out awhile.
I have been peripherally aware of 16 for a number of years, but never really listened to the band. I’ll be honest that I wasn’t really expecting much; I figure if a band has been around awhile and they haven’t grabbed my attention yet, there must be a good reason.
Well, I was only half right. 16’s sound does not exactly jump out and grab you; rather it has a more subtle appeal. The deep sludgy music has a nice thick heaviness to it, which combined with some solid groove made it very easy for me to get sucked in by these songs. The vocals don’t exactly stand up and beg for attention, but rather act as a necessary accompaniment to the music. They remind me of a “Filth Pig”-era Al Jourgensen. They do the job, but it’s the music that really grabs me.
If, like me, you haven’t heard this album yet, it is worth giving them a listen. Here is “Her Little Accident.”
Ion Vein – IV v2.0
Ion Vein is a heavy metal band from Chicago. They have two previous albums, but have since had some lineup changes, including a new singer. “IV v2.0” is the second of two three-song EPs featuring their new singer Scott Featherstone.
The first thing I noticed about these guys was how Scott’s vocals occasionally bring to mind Eric A.K. from Flotsam and Jetsam. Some people might not agree with me there, but I hear it. For me, this is a cool thing; I love Flotsam. Beyond that there is nothing else that sounds particularly Flotsam-like.
I like the sound of these songs, but I am a metal graybeard and have a special place in my black and twisted heart for music that reminds me of my youth. The songs sound a little dated, and with a younger crowd this might have a tougher time gaining hold.
For my 2 cents, I like what these guys are doing. Now how about a full album?
Desolate Shrine – The Sanctum of Human Darkness
Desolate Shrine is a death metal band from Helsinki, Finland and “The Sanctum of Human Darkness” is their second album.
Can you say way too much “atmosphere”? I think I like the songs on this album, but it is kind of hard to tell because something in the mix is acting like white noise in front of all the actual music. Whatever it is, it makes it damn hard on my ears trying to focus on the important parts of the music and that annoys me. I think if not for that this would be a really good album. As it stands, all I can do is hope that their next album sounds better.
It seems like they are mixing the heaviness of death metal with some of the epic grandeur of black metal and they totally pull it off in a way that…well…I wouldn’t call it unique, but let’s say this is not typical. I like what they are doing, I just hope they clean up the production next time around. Here is “Plane of Awake: Dreams Over Angel-Serpent Tower.”
- Published on Friday, 04 January 2013 08:51
- Written by Corey Morris
- Hits: 244
Revolution Within - Straight from Within
Revolution Within is a thrash/ heavy metal band from Portugal. I definitely hear the influences of Sepultura throughout the entirety of this album. Looking at the track listing, this band is pissed off to say the least. Revolution Within presents 11 tracks that are as nimble as they are ready to be moshed to, which by today’s standards earns them some gold stars. Better yet, there’s no tiptoeing the line of generic thrash of the retro variety, “Straight from Within” is how modern thrash metal should be played.
Thanks to a streamlined production job that befits the band’s technical savvy, this album employs a battery of angular riffs from start to finish. The regular back-and-forth between speedy and groove-laden segments have lasting appeal, especially on opener “Pure Hate,” and “Pull the Trigger,” which goes from breakneck thrash to merry-go-round circle pit action in no time. Down the line, the riff cartwheeling on “Only the Strong Will Survive” and the standout track “Unleash the Anger” cuts in line between The Haunted’s marvelous self-titled debut and Made Me Do It, tossing in knifing guitar solos and tempo shifts galore.
Certain to be a force in the thrash metal scene for years to come, Revolution Within’s grapple on modern, European-sounding thrash is commendable. In fact, “Straight from Within” easily takes out Dew-Scented’s recent Icarus and in time, could nip at the heels of thrash’s big players. Fans of Sepultura, The Haunted, Hatebreed, Dew-Scented, and Machine Head should definitely give these guys a spin.
Primal – Prorok
Primal is a Polish, one-man black metal project. Poland has been a region which has consistently released influential and classic metal albums. “Prorok” is one of Primal’s numerous releases which include full-length albums, demos, EPs, and splits. Each one had brilliance littered throughout, which gave me a tinge of hope for this release. Unfortunately, my excitement after this listening to “Prorok” was as bleak as Polish winters.
The album opens with the band going into their blazing fast approach and the ferocity with which the music is executed. It reminds listeners of a less polished version of bands like Watain. This moment of excellence is unfortunately short-lived as the music starts sounding messy with the drums going at breakneck speeds while the guitars sound as if it were struggling to keep up. This results in the riffs sounding almost disjointed from the rest of the instruments, leaving the listeners confused, and this goes on for the majority of the album. Moments such as the transition between slower and faster arrangements appear suddenly with little to no warning and often end up sounding awkward, displaying some of the weaknesses in Primal's songwriting style and song structures. Compliments definitely have to be given for the band’s mastermind, Primal, for handling all the instruments on the album.
The execution of the drums at times is inconsistent and the album would have benefitted if a dedicated drummer handled these instead. However, there are certain moments on the album where the band manages to salvage the situation. One aspect that surprised me and kept me engaged throughout is the heavy atmosphere that Primal has managed to conjure and maintain throughout the album, whether it is through the usage of the keys or through the heavy and dense tone of the guitars. There are also some sections where the lead guitar provides a haunting melody to the music, reinforcing the ambiance and moodiness of the album. The production is average at best, but expected in regards to most black metal, especially with underground bands like Primal.
Lastly, despite the small moments of ingenuity littered here and there, overall, “Prorok” is a disappointing album. The long running times of the tracks definitely don’t help and most of the tracks drag on unnecessarily long. This method has the tendency to lose its listener’s focus and attention, causing the entire album to sound like one giant track or song. Hardcore black metal fans should check Primal out, but to me they blend in with other unsuccessful black metal bands.
Rise of Malice - Rise of Malice
This self-titled release is the second output by the Greek black metal band Rise of Malice. Only five tracks are offered on it, including a cover of Immortal’s “Withstand The Fall Of Time.” Their style is purely raw black metal. Furthermore, the band used only one guitar, one bass, and a drum computer, which led to a thin and narrowly focused approach.
Rise of Malice delivers a solid performance and has been able to write some decent melodies, which happen to suffer a bit from the adverse situation of the line-up and production value. “Rise of Malice” takes the listener back to early days of the black metal scene by delivering straightforward black metal with little compromise in terms of the arrangement or song writing. Solos are scarce, keyboards are unknown, and the lyrics reveal a certain continually used pattern, which is still quite common in the black metal scene today. Their final track on the album, the Immortal cover, is a disaster due to the ultra thin sound and the lack of supporting guitars.
“Rise of Malice” is hardly listenable. It does not push any limits or instill any new ideologies in the black metal realm. This album will be long forgotten along with numerous other carbon copied black metal bands. Overall, I found it dull and boring, every track gelled into one another. I blame this both on the bands musicianship and its terrible production. I would avoid this album at all costs due to the horrible production and craftsmanship.
Rhyme – The Seed and the Sewage
Rhyme is an alternative grunge band from Italy and “The Seed and the Sewage” is their sophomore release. I cringed as soon as I discovered their genre of music. I don’t understand why bands are trying to reinvent the 90’s alternative rock music scene. In my opinion, only a few bands really made an impact and even they are hardly are as popular today as they were in their glory days. Rhyme has a sound that is a hybrid of Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, Godsmack, and Papa Roach. Simply put, it’s horrific! I guess if you like these bands or genre of music than Rhyme might appeal to you, for me its soccer mom rock.
The production is above average and every member of the band is talented. They tend to write and sing about social and economical events, including plastic surgery and war. Rhyme even covers Depeche Mode’s “Wrong,” which was wrong in my opinion. They would probably be more successful and commercially accepted if they took another direction musically and reconsidered their style and genre placement. Guitarist Matteo Magni exhibits influences of Slash and Zakk Wylde, but it is sadly wasted with Rhyme. I honestly wrote this review while listening to another band; I could only sit through “The Seed And The Sewage” once. Simply put, it was sewage on the ears.
- Published on Thursday, 03 January 2013 11:28
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 253
Mage – Black Sands
Mage is a Stoner/Doom metal band from the UK and “Black Sands” is their first album.
Lately I have been cruising Bandcamp for interesting new releases from bands that I haven’t heard before. There is a nice mix of established acts along with bands that are unsigned and trying to get their material heard, so it gives me the opportunity to hear things that I might normally miss.
A few weeks ago while on one of my Bandcamp hunts I came across this band called Mage and their apparently self-released album, “Black Sands.” While there is a lot of cool music on Bandcamp, there is also a lot of shit. This particular day I was having no luck and everything sounded awful…until I came across Mage.
Mage has a fairly simple recipe that works really well: one part deep heavy guitar/bass work laden with monster riffs; one part huge monster drums; one part clean-yet-raspy vocals that are both catchy and slightly menacing. The result is an album that probably should have been on my best of 2012 list last week.
There are riffs are so monstrous I have to wonder if perhaps Tony Iommi is getting royalties on them. At the very least I expect Tony would give them a nod of approval.
The production sounds quite good as well. Oftentimes bands this heavy come across sounding very muddy. I wouldn’t say “Black Sands” is as crystal clear as I would like, but they have done a better job with their sound than many other bands in the style I have heard.
You should head over to Bandcamp, give these guys a listen and then lend them your support. Here is the track "Danse Macabre" to motivate you.
Malnàtt – Principia Discordia
Malnàtt is an Italian melodic black metal band and “Principia Discordia” is their fifth album.
A lot of classic operas are sung in Italian, and even if one doesn’t know what they are saying the music can be very beautiful. The flipside of that coin is Malnàtt, who sing in Italian and find their beauty in darkness.
I speak not a word of Italian, but “Principia Discordia” impressed me from the very first song. The songs have that huge spacious sound like a Dimmu Borgir song, but without the overly symphonic cheese that goes with it.
While I was working on my best of 2012 list last week I found myself struggling with whether this album should be included. It is a really good album, and despite not knowing the language I like the novelty of metal sung in Italian. Ultimately the album didn’t make the list but this was only because I couldn’t bear to give up anything that was already on the list.
For those, like me, that do not speak Italian, don’t let the language barrier dissuade you from giving this album a chance. Give these guys a listen. Here is “Ave Discordia.”
Aoria – The Constant
Aoria is gloomy post-rock/shoegaze/doom band from Sweden and “The Constant” is their first album.
Comprised of members of A Swarm of the Sun, October Tide and Katatonia, Aoria does not want to be known as just another side project. I’ll not debate whether they have achieved complete separation from their other projects, but my first impression was that this sounded like the bleakness of Katatonia blended with the shoegaze melancholy of Alcest, only in English.
I am not generally a fan of shoegaze type music, particularly when it isn’t in English. “The Constant”, though, is in English, and in the dreary early hours of January I find myself enjoying the quiet wistfulness of this album. This is not an album for partying with on a Friday night; no, this my-girlfriend-just-left-me-and-my-dog-just-died music for people that don’t like country music. This is music for staring off into the sunset like Luke Skywalker on Tatooine from the first Star Wars movie. Hell, I bet Bill Bixby could walk around looking forlorn in The Incredible Hulk to this album (double nerd points for working Star Wars AND the Hulk into a metal review!)
I’m pretty impressed with how Aoria manage to suck all the happiness out of the room without going even a little bit black metal on me. I just may have found a new stand-by album for those all too common black days. Check out the track “An Overwhelming Calm.”
Trepalium – H.N.P.
Trepalium is a French death/groove metal band and “H.N.P.” is their fourth album.
Aoria put me into a little bit of a trance and now Trepalium has prepared my wake-up call. The first two things I notice about Trepalium are the guitar tone and the vocals. The guitar tone sounds exactly how I wish it did on every other album I listen to: it has a nice crisp leading edge that follows up with a thick punchy blast. No frayed edges on this tone, this is smooth, clean (well, distorted actually, but clean in that does not sound dirty) and lethal. The vocals have much the same sound; they have enough bite to slice through the music but a thickness and depth that complements the guitar tone while rising above it in the mix.
The vocals are harsh but very intelligible. The music has the stench of death about it, but must also have some groove in its DNA somewhere, because these songs do not just barrel along mindlessly. Nay, there be meat on these bones and it knows how to get down while likely inspiring prodigious circle pits wherever these guys play.
The solid production (which you could probably have already guessed at by my previous comments) helps make “H.N.P.” an incredibly impressive release. I’d never heard of Trepalium before receiving this album, but you can be damn sure I will be keeping my eye out for them in the future.
Check out the video for “Heic Noenum Pax.”