Monday, 27 June 2016

Intonate – The Swerve (2016) / 83%

Orphans of Sickness


We have a long standing technical death metal tradition to respect in Québec and Intonate are the brand new soldiers of this style. Their debut album takes the flexible bass fluctuations of Beyond Creation and push it towards a more dissonant and dark direction. One thing is for sure, the four musicians were able to totally play their way through the demented infernal landscape shown on the cover art with their instrumental prowess.

It’s a bit hard to distinguish progressive death from technical death as they’re often closely related. Intonate explores a lot of sensibilities here but we’re far from the ruthless and inane technicality of Necrophagist. It’s more akin to Spawn of Possession, Obscura or even the atmospheric obscurity of Ulcerate.

The bass is thick, played by a quasi virtuoso and we’re far from the annoying sound displayed by Dominic Lapointe on an album like The Aura. The Nucciarone brothers (Dominic on drums and Nicola on guitar/vocals ), just like the Duplantier brothers of Gojira, are one hell of a fraternal duo. The drumming is intense, precise yet subtle and the airy mastering gave it the necessary place to grow. Sure, there’s guitar solos but they don’t go overboard and become a burden to go through. While they remain a technically sound band, they still deliver loads of memorable moments such as “Retribution Waters” with the grievous harsh vocals performance of Nicola.

Some tracks are lengthy but even “Eternal Seed” and its 13 minutes doesn’t seem like a never-ending ordeal to listen to. It flows very well and even if I think it’s an exhausting style of music due to its demanding nature, I managed to listen to the album several times without being bored and helpless. All in all, Intonate’s debut album, while not totally something fresh or new is an excellent offering of intelligent spatial death metal and someone should sign these guys as soon as possible!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Metal Bounty Hunter: Volume 9

Brought to you by the Hound




Unru - Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts (2016) / 80%

Oppressive incestuous post black

This German quartet's debut album (that we can translate to "As an animal, man is nothing") is a brief voyage into the oppressive minds of their songwriters. Rooted in both black metal and hardcore (crust, post hardcore...), the four songs managed to incorporate the pure hatred and violent conviction of all their influences. The drums are buried under the loud and atmospheric guitars but I liked the way they were recorded, it seems to be natural and fits the aggressive yet pensive identity of Unru.


I guess we could say that they're a post black metal band but there's nothing fancy, comforting or joyful about their music. The vocals are deep howls and combined with the instrumentation, it's like walking in an old post World War II disaffected military complex, it's cold and suffocating in the best way possible. If you like the numerous incestuous explorations of black metal and hardcore, this is a band to check out. The lengthy songs made this an exhausting but rewarding experience.



Dautha - Den förste (2016) / 83%

Sweden's new trad doom titan
I do think that Griftegård only managing to release one full-length is a tragedy in itself but if we ignore this first world problem, I’m quite happy that Ola Blomkvist (guitars, lyrics, direction) is back with a new traditional doom project and it’s well worth the time for everyone who likes the style. While not reinventing the classic wheel of doom, the integration of some beautiful violins is refreshing in something else than melodic doom/death or goth metal à la My Dying Bride. After a brief intro (translated to “Adulterers should be killed”), we’re served two excellent mid-paced numbers with epic soaring clean vocals and terrific riffs. Definitely influenced by the medieval period and religions, Dautha’s music is classy, engaging and played by talented Swedish veterans. Let us rejoice when darkness thrive / Oh, this is Hell but we shall laugh This is a demo but the quality of the songs and the production made me wish it wasn’t. Unfortunately the handmade packaging limited to 78 copies is sold out but I’m sure we won’t have to wait too long before we get more material from these guys. Well, I hope so.


Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us (2016) / 97%
Nine Inch Cocks

Signing to Nuclear Blast definitely made Nails sellouts, right? Oh fuck no it didn’t. The Californian trio unleashed their longest album ever (still only 21 minutes) and it’s one of the perfect outlet for aggression and violence I’ve ever heard.
The band got added to the Metal Archives due to this record and rightfully so, I could compare it to the movie Alien, a cinema classic classified as both horror and science fiction… Well, YWNBOOU borrows as much from hardcore as it does from metal. Nails puts classic grindcore, old Swedish death metal, powerviolence, crust, Slayer-ish thrash in a dirty blender and crush the mixture till it’s just perfectly bloody.

Just like “Unsilent Death” or Abandon All Life, most of the tracks are short motherfuckers who will slam your head and make you jump everywhere. They never forget to write compelling and truly awesome riffs such as in “Into Quietus” and end the album with a monstrous eight minutes track containing everything they ever been known for. Slow pummeling riffs, spiteful vocals and fast destruction. I was really happy when they played “They Come Crawling Back” live as it’s one hell of a track. The best extreme album of 2016.

"VIOLENCE IS FOREVER"





Pillars – Pyres and Gallows (2016) / 70%

The Baguette Doom Series pt. XVII: Nice

The quartet from Nice (not pronounced like you think) plays heavy as hell doom metal without turning into a stoner band. The vocals of Clément Flandrois are rough, sort of harsh and would fit a southern metal band. The dude has a lot of range though and shows how good he is on the 10 minutes title track.

Many French bands actually sound like they’re from the American south and I’m not totally sure why (check out Glorior Belli and their southern black metal sound) and Pillars are definitely one of them. I mean, it’s subtle, don’t expect to hear some classless Hellyeah worship here, it’s still trad doom with obese riffs and a sad lyrical approach. This debut extended play has no obvious problems, it’s honest, well written and even has this blackened feel not usually present in this style of metal. Nevertheless, they could streamline their compositions a little and there’s a certain lack of memorability on there.



Deathbringer - From Silence Was Born The Sound of Death (2016) / 75%
Unsilent death/black

Montréal’s Deathbringer plays a savage and natural sort of death/black metal. Their debut full length, a short
affair sounds like a demented Immolation at times. There’s an obvious focus on riffs and the album is full of great catchy ones. The production job was kept willingly raw and when I first heard a track from the album, I wasn’t quite sure it was the right decision but now that I’ve heard the full thing, I do think it fits the atmosphere they were going for.

Vocal wise, there’s a mix of cavernous growls, high pitched screams (both apparent on the last track “Bone Weaver”) and also some cleans (“By the Will of God”). The singer is one of the best aspects of Deathbringer, it adds to the dual identity of the band and their fluid back and forth between death and black metal. Even if they’re Canadian, they’re not really war metal, their core is death metal and there’s even doomy influences at times. War metal for me must be black metal with additional elements coming from death and grind.

All in all, it’s a strong debut for Deathbringer, they understood that riffs are the primordial element to make your band worthwhile and even though they kept the mastering and mixing lo-fi and raw, it makes the songs shine in the darkness.



Gevurah – Hallelujah! (2016) / 93%

Spreading of the indomitable fire

While their debut was pretty damn good, the debut full length from this Montréal duo defied my expectations as the project improves all their aspects. I believe Hallelujah! established them as the band to beat as far as Québécois black metal is concerned. What's weird is that they manage to crush all their provincial opposition by truly leaving aside the usual tropes we find in this scene. There's no wintery atmosphere, no folk interludes or instruments and no try hard patriotism or nationalism. Nevertheless, one important facet of Québec's ancestral society remains, the attachment to Catholicism and spirituality (made clear by their name taken from the Kabbalah). This religious identity is represented through the occult and evil atmosphere written so eloquently by the two musicians.

The themes of Gevurah are more comparable to Québec’s cousin, France (think of Aosoth), than with their own North American acolytes. There’s also certain influences from the Norwegian or Polish scenes in here. I think that those European scenes really adhere to the “let’s play black metal that’s atmospheric instead of playing atmospheric black metal” doctrine. I mean, even in the instrumental sections of this album, there’s still plenty of riffs to listen to. They never take the easy way out and just write sub par “atmospheric” parts where nothing happens. The riffs are delivered songs after songs even on their epic numbers like the concluding song.

What often distinguished great black metal acts from mediocre ones is the quality of their intentions. Gevurah masters both the musicality and the aesthetics of the genre, the tenebrous feel is one of the best I’ve ever heard and it’s combined with this lush yet totally claustrophobic production. The sound is fully controlled by one half of the band, Xavier handles it like a true professional (well he has his own studio after all). Another accomplished feat in their compositions is the ability to be pummeling while being long-winded, it’s not an easy task to write an almost twenty minutes black metal track without the need to include extraneous genres like funeral doom. At times it’s like if they were The Ruins of Beverast but without the atmospheric doom used by the German solo act. In fact the last track uses Gregorian chant and totally nails this occult yet relaxing part before unleashing the metal riffs to end the nineteen minutes trip into oblivion.

The vocals are deep, cavernous and it’s easy to follow the exceptionally well written lyrics (mixing both English and French). The drumming (X’s main instrument) are thoroughly awesome and he proved that he can play anything since he joined Cauchemar to record one of my other favorite albums of 2016. The guitars are pushing forward many different sorts of moods, from slow but still heavy riffs to dissonant faster moments. Just like the songs, they’re quite varied but never go into an unnecessarily sweet or overly melodic direction.

The superb art of Denis Forkas fits the dark aura emanating from Gevurah’s timeless and graceful black metal like a glove. An essential métal noir album.

Friday, 3 June 2016

The Snack Series: Jean Coutu délices - Ketchup / Sour Cream & Onions chips



Price : 
99 cents so I obviously bought 2 bags since I might as well be a family of five by now. I can feel good about myself because just before going to my nearby Jean Coutu (drugstore/convenience chain) to get those, I bought a bunch of sushis. I'm almost healthy.


Packaging/extra information :
1 buck for 140 grams of chips is really cheap. There's 270 calories for 50 grams but this is a totally irrelevant information since if you're like me, you'll eat the whole bag while watching the NHL playoffs or the re-runs of Friends on mute. The package is actually pretty cool in its subtility or the lack of it. There's a big bowl of ketchup and a tomato or some green onions (that are possibly absent from the recipe) depending of the flavour you got, they have nothing to envy from the big companies like Doritos or Lays except for the fact that Batman or Superman aren't on their bags.

Texture:
Pretty thin round chips, nothing to call your mom about but the design is honest and easy to put in your mouth in a repeated and really fast way.

Taste: 
The taste is worth more than what I paid for. It’s comparable to Pabst Blue Ribbon in the way that you get an easy to drink beer for cheap. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to ruin yourself by buying Miss Vickies’ latest new pseudo snob flavour (feta olive oil caesar salad or whatever the fuck they’re doing)


7/10

A very fair product from the Jean Coutu Délices line.  Shoot me an email if you me to send you a bag, I ship overseas.


Saturday, 28 May 2016

Yautja – Songs of Descent (2014) / 96%

As powerful as Shea Weber's slapshot


This trio from Nashville is fucking insane. I've seen them live recently in Montréal when they toured with Magrudergrind and while I was familiar with this album beforehand, I really was flabbergasted with their stage presence. I've been spinning their debut full length since then and it's a marvelous tour de force full of turns and crossovers.

Their genre on the Archives doesn't come close to how vast their sound is but it's also difficult to pinpoint it effectively. Simply by looking at the three dudes, you could think that there's no cohesion to be found here but you'd be wrong. Their bassist was wearing an Aura Noir shirt and looked metal as fuck, their guitarist looked like he could play in Car Seat Headrest and their drummer would fit right at home at a Grateful Dead community worshiping acid. For some reason, the three dudes combined together simply works like a charm.

Sure, there's grind here but there's a lot of other stuff like mathcore, death metal, experimental and a big dose of sludge. It's almost like a southern appropriation of the US East Coast's hipsterism. In some ways, they're Tennessee's chaotic answer to Krallice or to early Mastodon, they have those odd rhythms while keeping the heaviness as an integral part of their identity. While there's an interesting variety of tempos, all of supreme quality, you never get lost with Yautja. They're taking you places that you wasn't quite sure were real. From the grind might of "Blinders" to the weird epic sludge of "Faith Resigned"(a song that sounds like Crowbar who suddenly became a forward thinking band), it's as a varied as you'll get for a grindcore band. They do feel like slowing things down quite often and it adds to the immense weight of the album, a song like "(Path to the Ground)" just messes around with a slow grind riff for ninety seconds but it doesn't affect the pace of Songs of Descent at all. The bass is thick and loud and the guitars are super interesting with the way it alternates between a super fast and crushing sound. Tyler Coburn has to be one of the best drummers I've ever seen live, the moustachioed gentleman is a beast on the kit. He's good at everything and also alternates between the blastbeats and a more traditional style. Supremely good musicianship.


Yautja is the name of the alien species in the Predator series and Nashville's NHL team is named... the Predators, not a coincidence! Like the invisible master hunter, the trio kills you with a combination of intelligence and pure aggression.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Demon Bitch – Hellfriends (2016) / 93%

Demon Bitch – Hellfriends (2016)
Skol Records


Filth Demon Bitch Boogie

If you've been following my reviews, you possibly know that I consider the sole Borrowed Time full length to be a modern classic and despite the premature end for the band, Detroit remains a great hotbed for American heavy metal. After a good demo and an even better extended play, Demon Bitch (great name, fuck you all, this is metal) has now unleashed their debut full length and it's no less than the best traditional metal album of 2016 (Dark Forest might be able to beat them but I doubt it).

This is miles better than bands like Enforcer and the likes because you can, without a hint of doubt, hear the immense passion for the style that these guys have but the most important point is that they're able to play the style without falling into the dire pit of overproduced modernity. I mean, it's not lo-fi but it's certainly somewhat raw for the style. I feel that the production job is exactly what they wanted and it fits their style perfectly, the balance between all the instruments has this classic metal approach and it's just how I think heavy metal should sound regardless of the decade we're in.

The blistering solos sound like a great magician playing lead guitar in an enchanted cave but without any of the cheesiness emanating from this comparaison. Not unlike the most concise material of Manilla Road, Demon Bitch are capable to write super epic metal within an accessible and totally catchy timeframe. It's a short album but five of the seven songs are between five and seven minutes (damn, I know this is a weird sentence) and they offer everything I wanted. Perhaps not as classy and elegant as Borrowed Time, they're still fairly on the intelligent and intriguing side. A track like the super epic "The Microdome" recalls Iron Maiden at their most melancholic and ends with some superb rhythm guitars and a piano outro, a really great song. A great band playing a classic style must be effective at distancing itself from their influences and that's something that Demon Bitch are excellent at doing. Sure, you'll be reminded of Mercyful Fate and the likes but I feel that their identity is their own.

I guess that the vocals of Logon are sort of an acquired taste but I totally love his high pitched, unhinged metal version of Geddy Lee. Like J-P Abboud, he's theatrical and has a lot of personality. Even if I liked him a lot, the guitars on Hellfriends are the clear highlights, I think there's not a single bad note on this thirty five minutes record, it's all gold. The songs are just fast enough and never boring and there's a lof of attention to some subtle details in the songwriting and it made the album even better. All and all, it's a superb occult tinged heavy metal album and worth listening to two or three times a day.


P.S. Four of their members are also in White Magician, also a super good band but watch out, they're even more insane.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Snack Series: Pringles - Cheddar Cheese



Price :
5 bucks combined with a 500 ml can of Newcastle. I felt trashy.

Packaging/extra information :
Well, it comes in a pringles, you’ve seen the already or else you wouldn’t be reading a snack review… There's 168 grams of chips and there's 150 calories for 15 of them (or 28 grams). I ate the whole box anyway. I always like the colours of Pringles' tubes and the mustached logo with the bowtie, he seems like a cool dude.

Texture:
The typical Pringles thin texture, I like to eat like 3 or 4 chips at the same time, it's enjoyable.

Taste:
the cheddar taste is subtle, possibly a bit too subtle even but it's quite good. The new tortillas flavours like Chili Cheese or Nacho Cheese are superior and should be picked instead of this tame cheddar cheese option. Still, it's not spicy and if you want a simpler, down to earth Pringles option, this is a good one.


6/10
An underwhelming Pringles flavour. They're at least better than the original one. Try the pizza flavour or the aforementioned Tortillas series.