- Published on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 11:10
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 1122
Gormathon –Land of the Lost/Celestial Warrior/Lens of the Guardian
Gormathon is a Swedish melodic death metal band and “Lens of the Guardian” is their 2010 debut album. I am also including the single “Land of the Lost” and the three-song EP “Celestial Warrior”, both of which were released in 2012.
So why am I grouping all three of these together in one review? About a week ago I was skimming iTunes for new bands when I came across Gormathon and their single “Land of the Lost.” I gave it a listen and was immediately impressed by how the band combines heavy grooves, harsh vocals and not-quite-as-harsh vocals that are catchy as hell. So one moment I am banging my head and feeling all grim, and the next I am throwing back my head and singing along to infectious choruses that would make a folk metal band nod in approval. This is some fucking bad-ass music!
It just came to me who the singer sounds like sometimes when he hits the higher notes: he takes on this David Wayne tone from Metal Church’s second album, “The Dark.” It has this “Watch the Children Pray” scratchy-yet-catchy sound. Very nice.
I hate singles, because if I like the song I am left wanting more when there is nothing more to have. I am a metal glutton; I like to consume whole albums of music. So I immediately cast about looking for more Gormathon. Next up was the EP “Celestial Warrior.” Awesome. Buy. Download. More please. Ok, now we are talking. A full 10-song album, “Lens of the Guardian.” Buy. Download. Rejoice.
If you are counting, that means I now have fourteen Gormathon songs in my collection. Now I am happy. All three of these releases sound incredible; it blows my mind that “Lens of the Guardian” has been out for over two years and I have never heard a peep about the band. So much amazing metal flies under the radar and never gets heard by the majority of metal listeners that I nearly weep for the injustice of it. I try my best to make people around the world aware of all this great music, but I am just one man with a very limited audience.
I hope that the single and EP are harbingers of a new full release in 2013. Please, please, please check out the video below for “Land of the Lost.” And because I love these guys so much I am also including the video for “Skyrider” from “Lens of the Guardian.” This band really deserves some attention. And check out the hair and beard on singer Tony Sunnhag, I am so jealous. He looks like a young Saruman (as played by Christopher Lee) from Lord of the Rings.
Gloria Morti – Lateral Constraint
Gloria Morti is a Finnish death metal band and “Lateral Constraint” is their fourth album.
The band members of Gloria Morti look like they just stepped out of a particularly gruesome first person shooter game. Their music takes a similarly brutal-yet-technical approach. “Lateral Constraint” sounds like the perfect soundtrack for eliminating enemies/aliens/monsters with extreme prejudice. These songs are fast, surgically precise and technical, and ultra-brutal and concussive. They are like Drano for dungeons, just pour in one bottle of Gloria Morti and everything in its path will be scoured away.
I am seriously impressed by how well the production quality manages to hold all this chaos together in a package that does not spin off into unlistenable noise. The sound is so good that all the parts whizzing by at warp speed don’t trip over each other, and as such you can make out most of what is going on, which in this case is the annihilation of all ear-drums within the sector.
“Lateral Constraint” isn’t out until next week, but you can get a taste of the chaos to come by listening below to the track “Sleep, Kill, Regress, Follow.”
Necrowretch – Putrid Death Sorcery
Necrowretch is a French death metal band and “Putrid Death Sorcery” is their first full-length album.
I hear death metal bands all the time, and many of them have a really poor production sound, whether by design or due to budgetary restraints. So I was a little surprised to find that Necrowretch is being released by Century Media. I mean, the production on “Putrid Death Sorcery” isn’t that bad, but I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality from CM because of all the metal heavy-hitters that they handle. This definitely has a rawer sound than I am used to from them.
The production isn’t really too terrible, though, it just has a little extra atmosphere that muddies up the sound. This isn’t really any worse than an old Dissection album though, so it will suffice.
The music is pretty fast and the harsh almost screeching vocals bring a frantic intensity to the mix. While there are many death metal albums that have a cleaner production sound, not all of those have the songwriting kick-in-the-teeth that Necrowretch displays on this debut. The constant riffing combined with the perilous break-neck speeds is enough to win me over.
Check out the track “Ripping Souls of Sinner.”
Zombified – Carnage Slaughter and Death
Zombified is a death metal/grindcore band from Sweden and “Carnage Slaughter and Death” is their second album.
Carnage, slaughter and death, these are a few of my favorite things…
If you listened to Necrowretch and thought to yourself that it just wasn’t intense enough for you, perhaps Zombified will be more to your taste. Singer Roberth Karlsson has worked in differing capacities for a number of other bands, including Scar Symmetry, Edge of Sanity and Pan.Thy.Monium. Guitarist Patrik Halvarsson has been around the block a few times as well, and has worked in both Paganizer and Ribspreader with the ubiquitous Rogga Johansson.
Zombified brings the impressive one-two punch of incredibly heavy songs and a thick and punishing production sound. Not only are the songs heavy as fuck, but the low-end sound will gut-punch you and take your lunch money. If you even think of telling one of the lunch ladies about this transgression it will hunt you down after school and kick the shit out of you.
“Carnage Slaughter and Death” is a definite sleeper death metal hit. I went into this album expecting cookie cutter death metal that would barely hold my attention and came out of it with multiple lacerations and a deep need for therapy. These guys are definitely worth checking out. Here is the album’s title track.
- Published on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 11:07
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 218
Sons of Aeon – Sons of Aeon
Sons of Aeon are a melodic death metal band from Finland and this is their self-titled first album. I have not heard much about the band other than several members of the band play in, or have played in, Ghost Brigade and Swallow the Sun.
I don’t remember exactly where I first heard Sons of Aeon, but I do recall being impressed with what I heard and being frustrated that the album hadn’t been released yet. I only had to wait a couple weeks, and once it was out I quickly snapped it up on iTunes.
What really caught me ear about this band was their guitar and drum sound. Technically this is melodic death metal, but these songs have a deep and heavy groove which both crushes and gets the head bobbing. The vocals are harsh and well enunciated and when laid over top of this music they make me want to turn up the volume and thrash around the room like a maniac.
The production also plays a key role in the greatness of this album; the ferociously punchy drums combined with the thick and meaty guitar sound complement the albums groove quite nicely. I don’t think you can go wrong with a properly produced death metal album that also has great song writing.
Sons of Aeon will be gracing my headphones a lot this year, I recommend you give them a listen too. Check out the track Faceless below.
Nightland – In Solemn Rise
Nightland is a Viking/folk/death/power metal band from Italy and “In Solemn Rise” is their second EP.
“In Solemn Rise” contains five tracks of battle-ready metal mayhem. The first thing I noticed about these songs was that they combine a heavier folk/death sound with majestic Rhapsody-esque power metal keyboards for a sound rather unlike anything else I’ve heard in this style. Sometimes it works really well, and sometimes it doesn’t quite gel. For the most part, though, I like it.
When done well folk metal will generally get my blood pumping and fire me up and Nightland is no exception. The one thing that was bumming me out about this EP was that starting off the production sounded a little rough. These kinds of songs deserve a crystal clear production and anything less than that is doing the music a disservice. I don’t know if my ears adjusted as the songs played on, or whether it was just the first track that had problems, but by the third song the production wasn’t an issue anymore. They could definitely benefit from a stronger production, but “In Solemn Rise” still delivers.
I was just watching the video for “Diamond Siren” and the singer was making that scary Lizzy Borden “Me Against the World”-face. Dude is just trying to get into his music I’m sure, but once I saw that I couldn’t help thinking how cheesy it was. That, and the keyboard player biting his keyboard.
Anyway, I really dig what Nightland are doing and hope to hear some full albums from the band in the future. Hook these guys up with a slick production and I think they will amaze. Check out the video below.
Scarlet Hollow – What If Never Was
Scarlet Hollow is a progressive rock/metal band from California and “What If Never Was” is their first album.
Ever since the release of the first Evanescence album I have been struggling with the idea of female-fronted hard rock bands with huge vocals and ethereal sounding music. I really hate Evanescence and the stain they have put on some otherwise decent bands that play similar sounding music. Scarlet Hollow does a good job of helping to take the style back again.
Don’t read that last line and think Scarlet Hollow sounds like Evanescence. Gods no. What I mean by that is that in a very general sense these are fairly accessible songs and they are fronted by a strong female vocalist. Scarlet Hollow has a much more progressive sound going on that make their songs infinitely more interesting than the formulaic drivel that other band foists on listeners. There is something much more genuine about “What If Never Was.”
Ohhhhhh shit! Can you see the goosebumps that just leapt up on my arms? As if the album was not already pretty amazing, Scarlet Hollow have guaranteed my approval by giving over the last track on the album to a cover of one of my favorite prog metal tracks ever, “Nightfall Overture” by Nightingale. Dan Swanö is well known as a producer and singer of death metal and other heavy albums, but the Nightingale albums where he unleashes his amazing clean voice and that prog rock monkey he has on his back are among my favorite. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Dan and Mikael Åkerfeldt got together for a prog project? They worked together in Bloodbath (and possibly other projects, Dan gets around a lot) so it is not outside the realm of possibility.
Anyway, sorry to get sidetracked; I got a little excited by that excellent rendition of “Nightfall Overture.” Scarlet Hollow definitely gets my stamp of approval. Make sure to give this band a listen.
Overtorture – At the End the Dead Await
Overtorture is a Swedish death metal band and “At the End the Dead Await” is their first album. Everyone in Overtorture looks to have been in several other bands, but the only one that really stands out to me is vocalist Joel Fornbrant who also fronts Coldworker.
The songs on this album are some that I would qualify as above average death metal. The music is really good, and the vocals are pretty huge and harsh while remaining fairly clear. What kind of bugs me about the album is that the production is mediocre at best. It has an airy and slightly muddy sound that takes what would certainly be a dominating release with the right production, and gives it the same sound as a thousand other middling death metal bands.
If you are one that doesn’t care at all about the sound quality, then I think there is much you will like about “At the End the Dead Await.” I like what they are doing, I just hope the next time around they put a little more time into the production. Check out the track “Murder for the Masses.”
Yayla – Nihaihayat
Yayla is a one-man Ambient Black Metal band from Turkey and “Nihaihayat” is his fourth album.
I’m not really a fan of ambient music. I can’t help feeling like it is all done by some dude with a cheap Casio keyboard who holds down one key for a minute and then moves on to another key and so on. I need more structure than this in my music. As a background for other music, great, but as a stand-alone style of music: booooring.
So of the five tracks on this album I skipped through the majority of the first track because it was all ambient nonsense. The second track kicks in with some black metal (with of course heaping amounts of ambient “atmosphere.”)
If you dig that old school black metal sound this album might be for you. For me this was kind of boring. As a former DIY practitioner of one-man-music, I respect what it takes to put together an album all on your own, but as a music listener this sounds like it could use a few more people in the band to fill out the sound. There are plenty of classic albums from Norwegian black metal bands that do this style a lot better.
Here is the track “Through the Sigil of Hate.”
- Published on Thursday, 24 January 2013 11:14
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 197
Nightfall – Cassiopeia
Greek metal band Nightfall has returned with their ninth album, “Cassiopeia.” Over the years the band has worn many mantles – doom, death, gothic, and black metal. Listening to this latest release I hear little bits from all those styles, which really makes it hard for me to narrow down the sound. You’ll just have to listen to the track included below to hear for yourself.
I have heard Nightfall albums as far back as 1997s “Lesbian Show”, but it has been such a long time since I have heard anything by the band that honestly this is like hearing them for the first time. That said, listening to “Cassiopeia” makes me want to head back and listen to these earlier albums, because I am really enjoying what I hear.
The music seems to range from a medium pace to quick, but I don’t know that I would call it fast. It tends to stay slow enough to allow for a nice heavy groove to set in. The vocals are harsh and well executed so as to be mostly understandable. The great production ties it all together in a wonderful sounding package.
I am highly impressed with Nightfall’s “Cassiopeia.” I will definitely be listening to their back catalog very soon. I recommend giving a listen to the track below, “Oberon and Titania.”
Hate – Solarflesh
Hate is a death metal band from Warsaw, Poland and “Solarflesh” is their eighth album.
By the time a band reaches the release of their eighth album you kind of figure they know what they are doing. Hate certainly sounds like they have everything well in hand, so why don’t we just say the production is really good and the songwriting is also well-crafted. The bottom line being that there aren’t any production or talent related issues with this album.
Skipping over all the technical-speak we can get to the fun part of the review: what I think of the album from an aesthetic point of view. Well, if you must know, I am enjoying the album immensely. The songwriting is much deeper than typical death metal thrashing madness; the songs are certainly heavy as balls, but they obviously put a lot more thought into them than just saying “how heavy can we be?” There is a level of perfection on this album that leads me to believe these guys look at their music as a craft rather than a way to make beer and gas money.
“Solarflesh” is a very impressive death metal offering. I heartily recommend these guys. I love Hate. Check out the Napalm Records album teaser below to get a taste.
Nidhoeggr - Ragnarök'n'Roll
Nidhoeggr is a Swiss folk/death metal band and “Ragnarök'n'Roll” is their 8-track EP. These 8 tracks clock in at 36 minutes; if this is an EP, their idea of a full album must be huge.
I had to turn the sound way up to hear the songs properly, but other than that I rather like the production sound of the EP. The vocals and instrumentation all sound clear and mixed well, but there is a simple and unburdened quality that I think works really well. It is probably just that the band is working really well within the boundaries of limited budget and resources, but this almost reserved or restrained sound makes the songs very tight and causes the vocals to pop out at the listener, which pleases me greatly. Alas, the vocals are not in English, but at least I can hear them well.
I can say with certainty that I have not heard an album quite like this one before. If they would throw me some songs in English I would toss all reservations out the window and declare my undying passion for this band. I very much enjoy what they are doing.
Check out the title track below.
Nervochaos – To the Death
Nervochaos is a Brazilian death metal band and “To the Death” is their fifth album.
Technically speaking “To the Death” is a pretty good album. The production sounds well done and everyone seems to know what they are doing. But after listening to the previous three albums, particularly “Solarflesh” by Hate, I feel like I should be expecting a little something more from this album. Nervochaos definitely outshine many of the bands they compete with in this genre, but there is a multi-dimensional quality that they seem to lack which bars the way to greatness.
To use Lars Ulrich’s word, this sounds a little stock. These guys have the technical side of death metal down, what they need now is personality and passion. Because it is a real shame that an album can have a production this good, but I find myself yawning by the fourth track.
For those who just want a mosh-worthy album, you could do worse than this album. For those seeking something more, I recommend the above “Solarflesh” album.
- Published on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 10:35
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 339
Lightning Swords of Death – Baphometic Chaosium
Lightning Swords of Death is a black metal band from the heart of corruption, Los Angeles, California. “Baphometic Chaosium” is their third offering to the dark powers.
Several weeks ago I received the “Baphometic Chaosium” promo from Metal Blade and I became very excited. Not only does the name Lightning Swords of Death sound like a totally awesome blade to have in a Dungeons & Dragons fight, but they smite listeners with some wickedly evil black metal as well.
The LSOD sound has been mutating and evolving over the course of their last two albums, and finally on “Baphometic Chaosium” they have reached a sound that I feel moves them out of the black metal dark ages into the 21st century black metal elite. The production quality is still quite raw, but it sounds like it was recorded much cleaner, and I like that very much.
Fear not gentle reader, for just because the production sounds better it does not mean they have lost that Cthulhu-rising-from-the-depths quality. LSOD prove that you can make a decent recording and still maintain an atmospheric ambiance.
“Baphometic Chaosium” will be a black metal force to be reckoned with in 2013. I throw both hands in the air sporting horns in appreciation for Lightning Swords of Death. Check out the title track below.
Holy Grail – Ride the Void
Holy Grail come from Pasadena, California and “Ride the Void” is their second album of traditional heavy metal.
So Holy Grail has several members who were once in White Wizzard, most notably singer James-Paul Luna. I wasn’t a big fan of the first White Wizzard album, which featured Luna. I was much more impressed by the bands second album, which featured then vocalist Wyatt Anderson. White Wizzard’s third album was not nearly as good and Wyatt has since left that band. While I liked the second White Wizzard album better than the first Holy Grail, I now find myself in the position of liking the second Holy Grail album better than the third White Wizzard. Hahahaha, you getting all that? To put it more succinctly, the Wizzard is on the decline and Holy Grail is most certainly on the rise.
I recall that the thing I didn’t like so much about the White Wizzard album with Luna was that his voice seemed a little too high-pitched for my ears. While he can still hit the high notes, on average he sings in a much more pleasing range these days.
Musically, what is there not to like about “Ride the Void”? This is heavy metal. The drums are pounding and the guitars are heavy. The leads are smoking and the vocals melodic (though Luna does get a little growly on occasion.) Holy Grail is heavy enough to satisfy the average metal fan, but not so over-the-top melodic as to drive off those who cannot stomach power metal.
My friend Buke texted me last night to say the new Holy Grail sounds really good. I have to agree, “Ride the Void” is a very solid album and one that will hopefully firmly ensconce Holy Grail as a pillar of the traditional metal community.
Here is the lyric video for “Ride the Void.”
Pendact – Days of War
Pendact is a French melodic death metal band and “Days of War” is their first album.
The band’s bio sheet says they are influenced by Scandinavian metal acts; I can put a finer point on that and say they sound a lot like Children of Bodom. Pendact has the same ultra-melodic guitar and keyboard lines, the same Alexi-vocal-roar and an incredibly tight and punchy production sound. To be honest they sound more like Children of Bodom than Bodom has lately. This sound is reminiscent of the “Hate Crew Deathroll” album before Alexander Kuoppala left the band. That has always been my favorite Bodom album, so I’m happy to hear someone is continuing the sound.
Pendact may not sound all that original, but then few bands come across as entirely original these days. I can’t fault them too much for wearing their influences on their sleeve on their first album. Hopefully as they continue they will start to evolve into a sound that they can call their own. Even if they don’t, I like what they are doing and would continue to pick up their albums.
Give Pendact a listen. Here is their video for “Days of War.”
Anger As Art – Hubris Inc.
Anger As Art, like Holy Grail, also hails from Pasadena, California, and “Hubris Inc.” is their fourth album of thrash metal music.
Sometimes it pays to read the bio information. Without that info I would not have known that Anger As Art singer and guitar player Steve Gaines is the same Steve Gaines to once front classic 80s L.A. metal thrashers Abattoir, and he also currently handles guitar duties for another classic L.A. metal band from the 80s, Bitch.
So anyway, back to Anger As Art. “Hubris Inc.” There are a number of guest appearances on this album. Betsy Bitch, Jim Durkin of Dark Angel, Timothy Gaines of Stryper and Steve Nelson of Evil Dead all contribute in one way or another.
The songs on “Hubris Inc.” are perfect examples of old school thrash done well. The songs are tight and well executed; the vocals are gruff but not harsh, so the words are pretty easy to make out for those who are used to listening to metal. For an old school metal head like me, this album is rich slice of heaven.
There is no reason you should not be listening to Anger As Art. You may too lazy to bother, but look, I make it easy for you by providing the link below to the video for “Time Devours Life.” Now you have no excuses. Give it a listen.
Corpus Mortale – FleshCraft
Corpus Mortale is a Danish death metal band and “FleshCraft” is their fourth album.
I start off listening to the first track on the album, “Weakest of the Weak” and I am thinking that the music is pretty good and the vocals are more than acceptable for a death metal album, when it occurs to me that for death metal this is rather laid back. It sort of lacked that insistent and frantic feeling that gives death metal a sense of excitement. I was starting to wonder about these guys, but then it occurred to me that laid back wasn’t the right way to describe it; these guys have that same persistence-moves-mountains style that makes Bolt Thrower so awesome. That realization put me in the correct mindset for this album and I enjoyed the experience a lot more moving forward.
The more I listen to this album, the more it is growing on me. I am inspired to look up their first three albums and see what they sound like. I will definitely be keeping my eye on these guys in the future. To think I almost wrote this album off based on the first thirty seconds. Sometimes you have to stick around longer to learn to fully appreciate a band. Time is somewhat of a luxury when trying to decide whether to review bands, there are just soooo mannnny bands. Sometimes things slip through the cracks. I’m glad I stuck it out and listened to the rest of “FleshCraft.” It was well worth the time I invested in it.
Check out the track “Love Lies Bleeding.”
- Published on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 10:39
- Written by George Washburn
- Hits: 387
Voivod – Target Earth
Voivod have returned with their thirteenth album, “Target Earth” and I cannot help having mixed emotions as I begin listening. I have been a die-hard Voivod fan for something like 25 years, so I have always gladly welcomed the release of a new album.
“Target Earth”, however, is the first album not to contain the contributions of late Voivod guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour. Voivod’s last two albums, “Katorz” and “Infini” both featured material Piggy had been working on before he died. The two signature elements of the Voivod sound have always been Snake’s voice and Piggy’s guitar style, which at times may seem discordant and abrasive to the uninitiated. I don’t know if I read it somewhere, or just made a wild assumption on my own, but I figured that once the leftover material was gone, Voivod was over. You can’t replace Piggy. Can you?
Well, apparently they are going to try. The band welcomes back bass player Blacky (back for the first time since “Angel Rat”) and new guitar player Daniel Mongrain, aka Chewy. I was pretty busted up when Piggy died, so this new album without him has an uphill battle trying to win me over. I’m sure the rest of the guys in the band hand much more difficulty dealing than I did, since they actually knew Piggy, so I should give them the benefit of the doubt and give “Target Earth” a fair listen.
I was wondering whether the new guy would adopt Piggy’s style or go in a completely different direction. Well, listening to it, this is definitely a Voivod album. I’m not sure whether to be comforted by the fact that Chewy plays much like Piggy, or be offended that they feel someone can just come in and ape Piggy’s sound and call it a Voivod album. Of course, that is the bratty little fan boy in me speaking. Ultimately, I am glad he retains the sound.
As I continued listening to the album my inner conflict, rather than lessoning, became more intense. “Target Earth” sounds really good. All at once I feel the extreme elation of hearing a great new Voivod album, while at the same time the crushing guilt of daring to enjoy Voivod without Piggy. I suppose this is something I’ll just have to work out on my own.
I have to wonder if perhaps the influence of Jason Newsted dominated the last few Voivod albums, because while I enjoyed them, they were much more heavy and driving than the pre-Jason albums (I don’t count the Snake-less “Negatron” or “Phobos” albums). Now, perhaps because Blacky is back in the band, this sounds a lot more like old Voivod than the last few albums did, even with Piggy.
I expect in time I will get used to this new lineup, particularly if they continue releasing albums as good as “Target Earth.” It is good to hear this return to the old Voivod sound, even if someone is missing from the band.
Attic – The Invocation
Over the weekend I came across this German band called Attic and their first album, “The Invocation.”
I saw this listed on iTunes, and since I hadn’t heard of them before I clicked on it to give it a listen. I expect they get this ALL THE TIME, but hello, King Diamond called, he wants his vocals back. Seriously, this Meister Cagliostro guy does not even try to pretend like he wants to sound like anyone but King Diamond. Both his high vocals and his lower vocals are dead ringers for the King himself.
What are we going to do about this? Do we burn them at the stake? Perhaps tar and feather them and then run them out of town? Me, I fucking bought the album right then and there.
So here’s the thing. It is one thing to kind of swipe another band’s sound and act none the wiser like you’ve always sounded like that. That is pretty deplorable. But this is full on 21st century identity theft. This is so blatant that they are obviously expecting to be called out on it; perhaps they are hoping the publicity will give them a boost. I expect it will.
So here is another thing. They pull it off brilliantly. There isn’t an original sounding note on the album, but what this is, works really, really well. There hasn’t been any new material from King Diamond in like six years (but he will be back this year!) so hearing some old school King Diamond/Mercyful Fate style metal, that is done really well, is satisfying a need I wasn’t aware I had.
Back in 2010 Ghost rose to popularity on an album that borrowed heavily from this same style, without actually sounding like King or Fate. Based on that release there has since been a flood of dark 80s retro sounding music. Attic takes this to the next somewhat logical level and borrows the whole sound. I know I should be denouncing these guys as uninspired thieves, and I probably would if I could stop listening to the album long enough.
There is a quote attributed to the late artist Pablo Picasso. “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” If Picasso knew what he was talking about, that makes Attic great. All I know is I like what I hear.
Sacred Steel – The Bloodshed Summoning
Sacred Steel is a power/thrash metal band from Germany and “The Bloodshed Summoning” is their eighth album.
Considering this is their eighth album, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I feel familiar with the name Sacred Steel. Yet when I look over their discography, none of the album covers or songs jog any memories for me. Somehow I have been aware of the name, yet have never heard Sacred Steel. Well, let’s hear what they sound like, shall we?
The music is pretty quick and thrashy, and the vocals vary between a hard-edged raspy and a clean sound that at times reminds me of Warrel Dane. The raspy sound reminds me of someone too, but at the moment I cannot think of who it might be.
Sacred Steel is turning me into a fan in pretty quick order. These songs are heavy and mosh-worthy, yet at the same time have catchy hooks. It can be tough to pull that off without coming across as overly commercial, but they guys manage.
The sound quality is quite good without sounding overly polished. It has an old school kind of production that is clear and sounds good without being too crisp and perfect. Maybe this was recorded in analog rather than digital. I’ve never been great at telling the difference, but this does have a warmer sound.
Here is “No God / No Religion.” Check these guys out.
Downcast Art – Forbidden Memories
Downcast Art is a symphonic gothic metal band from Croatia and “Forbidden Memories” is their first full-length album.
The first track on the album is an instrumental piece called “Everlasting” and to poke a little fun at the band, yes, it was. I kept waiting for a full song to kick in, but it took nearly four minutes for that to happen.
Downcast Art is a female-fronted band, courtesy of Jelena Mužar. Wow, what a voice on her! She sounds very operatic. That can be a good thing, because obviously she has the skills, but despite my love of classical music, operatic vocals can grate on me after a while.
The music comes across as thick and deep sounding; I like that. There is perhaps a little bit much keyboard going on. I prefer keyboards to add depth and atmosphere rather than battling for dominance with the guitars. Still, the music sounds really good.
“Forbidden Memories” is an impressive debut. Give a listen to the track “Face Without A Name.”
Matricide – We Are Alive
Matricide is a groove metal band from Israel and “We Are Alive” is their debut five-song EP.
The first thing I noticed about this EP is that the sound quality was a little soft. I had to turn the volume way up to hear it, but once I did it sounded pretty good. Might want to work a little mastering magic on that and compress the mix and get it a little louder.
The songwriting and musicianship are alright, and the vocals are good, if rather typical screaming. I think these guys are on the right track, but this material screams mediocre to me. It is well done, they certainly don’t suck, but there is a particular spark that is missing that would lift the band above all the other bands that also sound like this too.
Find that spark, that something special, that signature element, and you might have something there. For the moment, though, this is merely adequate.
Here is the track “We Are Alive.”