Thursday, 30 August 2012

Review: Witch Mountain - Cauldron of the Wild: Born of the cauldron, the wild will rise - 96%

This is, my friends, the greatest doom album of the year, Cauldron of the Wild, the sophomore release from this band from Oregon with the vocalist Uta Plotkin is almost perfect. Their first release on the Canadian label Profound Lore follows the excellent South of Salem and this album is a total continuation of their sentimental blend of doom metal. I wanted to review this musical piece since I got it, the day it was released if I remember correctly, but I decided to wait and found the appropriate words and I'm glad I did.

I know that I'm a sucker for doom metal with female vocals but Plotkin is truly, truly unique. She has amazing pipes and she's a real powerhouse. Perhaps, the most talented singer in metal right now. Seeing her live back in june was a real bliss, sadly the crowd was sparse, Montréal is not really a good place for doom, especially on mondays...Surprising how an amazing voice like hers came from a calm and sweet short woman, haha ! Her place is at the mic and nowhere else, she's a mesmerising frontwoman with natural charisma. Usually, she's going all blues berserk mode with high falsettos and slow romantic groovy drinking hymn vocals. But, sometimes, there's these strange harsh vocals, it's definitely good, albeit unorthodox and surprising for this genre. Plotkin wrote all the lyrics and they are fucking great. Sometimes about personal confessions, sometimes it's strange dark stories. For example, the first track "The Ballad of Lanky Rae" is about a strong tall woman who's the daughter of a demon, for example. It's quite fun and I really like the lyricism of her words, it's definitely a part of the complete experience of Witch Mountain. Each song has a different touch and reading them was interesting (I added the lyrics to the MA page and it was a joy to do so, can't say the same about many artists). Her poetry can be amazing, sometimes simple but at the same time full of imagery, I like these lines from "Veil of the Forgotten":

«We will win with patience cold in the stone. Gold Jade and blood amethys and bone.»
«No teeth sink deeper than teeth of time so we just watch it fester.»

She has a real talent for lyrics and she transmits her passion with ease and class on stage. She reminds me of Janis Joplin, she has the same vibrant passion and that's evident, but enough of miss Plotkin! 

During the 45 minutes duration of Cauldron of the Wild, we experience many different emotions. It can be fast paced doom such as  "Beekeeper" and very slow like the last and strong song "Never Know", which is a real romantic bluesy ballad. The guitarist Rob Wrong, the main songwriter of the band really shines throughout the record. His style is mixing the classic Iommi riffs, always the basis of traditionnal and stoner doom with a huge emphasis on bluesy Hendrix-like licks. There's even some Chandler influenced fuzzy riffs and leads. Fortunately for the doom purists, the doom influences are the classic ones, this album is safe from the modern influences of post metal and sludge, even if there's weird moments like these aforementionned harsh vocals, these are minimal. If this album had been released during the heydays of Sleep, it would had been a classic today, the songwriting is solid and just like the wailing and powerful vocals. The riffs are slow, undeniably heavy and borderling on the stoner metal style. There's no restraints in the leads, they're totally vibrant and reminds me of some sort of psychedelic jam sessions where everyone is stoned on acid. Nathan Carson's drumming is top notch, it's classic doom drumming, slow and without frills and defaults. The bass playing of Neal Munson could be higher in the mix, but the emphasis is clearly on the guitar and the vocals and that's fine in my book, but some cooler bass lines would had been nice. Still, the songwriting and musicianship is simply top notch, without limits and never overplayed or technical, it's truly music for your emotions and your spirit, it feeds you romanticism, dark stories and americana. 

The song lengths are perfect, 6 songs, nothing too long, the two last tracks "Aurelia» and "Never Know" are the longest at around 10 minutes each, when the album stops, the music continues in your mind, proof of its worth. Like the album art indicates, the cauldron is warm, full of familiar magic potion, attracting everything in its area with its seductive wildness. This is the sort of music that needs to be played very loud with lots of booze. It's shack music, remove your boots full of fresh earth, fill your cup with that potion and put on wool socks, it feels right, everything will be alright.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Review: Black Chalice - Submission : The deluge full of dementia and black shadows.

This is a very good demo from a one man project from Portland, Maine and it works as a counterpart to Auspicium, the atmospheric black metal project of this dude named Patrick A. Hasson. I never heard this other band so I can't hardly make any comparaisons, but Submission has this raw production and this lugubre feeling, somewhat coming from these black metal roots. The themes and lyrics are quite personal and deals with depression issues, it's profound and quite good.

This demo tape released on Contaminated Tones, a new underground label from New Jersey led by my friend Jon is very well done. The songwriting is solid and very captivating. We have 4 songs for 32 minutes of music and there's no time wasted, maybe the 4 minutes introduction called « Deluge » wasn't so needed but it's nothing to complain about, it gives us some time to dive into the harsh and uncompromising world that's waiting for us throughout the next 3 songs. There's nothing unnatural here, all is very vivid and atmospheric. It sounds like a restless grey ocean tormenting a sad old man on his little ship of dark dreams. Silly comparaisons aside, Black Chalice is very dark and captivating, the songs are slow and are long dirges. It's mainly atmospheric death/doom but there's some funeral doom and lo-fi traditionnal doom influences as well. The last title track is totally monumental and my favorite on the demo, it starts with a calm intro with soothing vocals softly murmured in the background and the guitar is quite clean, almost like a lullaby. A cool bass solo is separating the soft intro and leads to a heavier part, this part is as melodic as early Anathema. The musicianship is simple and does the job very well, the riffs are not really complimented by the minimal production though, they deserve a tightier production though. The harsh vocals are cavernous and slow and adequate to the music, they're in the background, like a howling deluge of thoughts and it feels right

With a better production and with a bit more colours, Black Chalice could really become a great beast. Hasson is a talented musician and he has a very bright vision of doom, it's lo-fi, simple but very dark and rewarding. Check that out.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Review: High Priest of Saturn - Norwegian fuzziness is quite good! 83%

Behold these new doomsters directly from Trondheim, the home of the black/doom acts Furze and Faustcoven, but contrary to these bands, HPoS plays a sort of doom metal influenced mostly by Om and Electric Wizard and they do it quite well. This demo has 2 songs for 20 minutes of music and it's a very good first release by this promising young band led by Merethe, she's singing and she plays the guitar and the organ. She's really the driving force of this band, her charisma and talent might be something to experience live. Too bad I live on the other side of the Atlantic.

The first song "The Protean Towers" opens the demo and remains interesting during its 10 minutes. Like his title, the song has many different influences, ranging from psychedelic stoner rock with a huge spacey sound and an hotbox atmosphere to fuzzy doom metal with nice leads. The vocals of Merethe are very cool, atmospheric and soothing and without a lot of reverb like in many stoner bands. Indeed, they're not quite buried under the instruments. It reminds me of Cisneros's vocals but sexier! I must say that, while the band doesn't innovate much on any grounds, these vocals are pretty good, Even if you usually dislike female voices, it wouldn't be a dealbreaker because it's really part of their specific atmosphere and it really fits the songwriting, handled by Merethe.

Don't be fooled, HPoS is hardly a copycat band, they use the organ a lot and it gives them a very vintage sound nourished by Orange amps and of course, bell bottom trousers. The proeminent keys really gives us the reason the band is called High Priest of Saturn. Like fellow Scandinavians Saturnalia Temple, the band is not afraid to put a lot of work on their spacey and lush wall of sound and in the end, it's a charming success. There's a real will to embrace the 70s sound in their playing, it's not particularly heavy and it's not creating a huge wall of noisy indistinguishable riffs. Yes, it's fuzzy but it's more on the soft side, restrained and subtle. The guitar playing of Merethe and Andreas (also handling the drums) is slow and the leads are quite nice, full of psychedelia, the solo in the first song is fucking cool. The bass is loud and busy but it's also letting the organ do its own thing in the background. Listen to the short bass solo midway through "Crawling King Snake", it's damn tasty, same with the lovely amount of organs, Ray Manzarek would be proud! Concerning the drums, like the overall sound of this release, they remain slow but interesting and there's cool fills throughout the songs, the playing is ritualistic, heavy and full of cymbals.

Not a fan of Om's recent direction change? High Priest of Saturn will surely interest you. Add interesting guitar leads and mesmerising soft female vocals to Om's blend of slow ambient doom and you're in business. This was a good discovery and these guys have a lot of potential, along with the Norwegian doom scene (Summit and Resonant especially, but let's not forget Devil as well). I think that Lamented Souls' legacy finally paid off as we can clearly see a new wave of Norwegian doom to compete with the Swedish retro acts !

Listen to the album here:

Friday, 24 August 2012

Review: Nomad Son - The Eternal Return: Malta's doom is nigh! - 85%

Another older review, this time from Nomad Son, great mediterranean doom, here's the review.

This is the second album of Nomad Son and just like their first one, it's high quality doom. Malta isn't a place where you expect metal to be created, hey, they just legalized divorce there, it's a pretty religious country. But Nomad Son is a band who's integrating christianity into their lyrical themes. They do it without the over top cheesiness which exist in bands like Place of Skulls (a quality band, but their Jesus-in-your-face lyrics don't do much for me). So, Nomad Son is evolving in the small doom scene of Malta alongisde the better known band, Forsaken. Both are sharing Jowita Kaminska as the album art artist, Her style is apt to the spiritual and serious music of these guys. They also share the same bassist, so look no further for a comparative band, but there's some differences between the two bands from this small European island.

What we have here is a mix between traditionnal doom and a more vintage sound. I think the proeminent use of the keyboard is quite original and invigorating. We have some keys leads here and there, like on the second song, "Sigma Draconis" or in "Comatose Souls". It's often used as a second lead guitar, something like bands like Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple were doing. It's also used as a stand alone instrument, the intro of the album's epic "Winds of Golgotha" is a proof of that. It's done quite well, not too fancy and not only there to create a ''background'' to the guitars. The keyboardist and the guitarist are also brothers, so maybe the chemistry between the two instruments is coming from this. Nomad Son is a really talented band, their riffs are solid and the other musicians are also top notch. The solos are always cool and not forced on the listener. It's a band who's searching the right atmospheres without doing compensations on its solid and direct songwriting. The songs are lenghty but they're not suffering from unnecessary and boring parts, something doom bands tend to include.

Something which took me several listenings to get used to are the vocals. But when I get used to them, I really loved them. They are somewhat unusual for traditionnal doom, but Nomad Son isn't usual for this style either. They're quite raspy and high, imagine an higher Dio mixed with some of the rawer side of NWOBHM (Venom or Atomkraft), also some of the lower parts of King Diamond's vocals. Anyway, the vocals of Jordan Cutajar aren't as polarising as the ones of Lee Dorrian, he's a good singer with lots of pipes. Like the other musicians, he's both able to transmit atmospheres and more agressive vocals lines. The title track can be a good judge for the dual ability of the singer. The song starts slowly by some awesome melodic vocals to go forward to his more rawer vocals. I think the better comparaison I can give is Terry Jones (Pagan Altar) but less nasal. Both of these singers are in very original bands who aren't thrown in the bunch of other similar traditionnal doom bands.

If you're looking for some original doom which is both influenced by the American and the European scenes, look no further. Here's a good mix of epic, traditionnal doom and a touch of atmospheric keyboards here and there. Enjoy the ride to Malta's doom.

Review: Evangelist - In Partibus Infidelium : Polish epic doom gem! 88%

One of my older reviews posted on Metal Archives, a great take on epic doom by Evangelist, written in august 2011. I improved the grammar a bit. Enjoy

This album is the first contribution from Poland to the new growing scene of Epic doom that I've discovered. And, I must say, this is an awesome contribution. In Partibus Infidelium is Evangelist's first album, but it doesn't lack in maturity, in fact I think everything that makes epic doom one of my favorite metal genre is present. Poland isn't really a country known for its doom scene, it's more praised for its death metal one with Vader and Behemoth. But, Evangelist is influenced by Euro doom but it's not a copycat band.

First of all, the vocals are great, the singer (all the names of the members are unknown, so I'll mention them by their position, obviously) reminds me of Albert Witchfinder of the famous Reverend Bizarre, mixed with a more traditional heavy metal feel à la Bruce Dickinson. Some Messiah influences thown in the mix too. This kind of high emotional, almost operatic vocals lines fits the music perfectly. Simply listen to the awesome chorus in ''Funeral Mounds'' to get some shivers. The ghost of the classic Candlemass era lives perfectly in their sound. They are a follower of the fantasy lyrical approach,  it's not cheesy though and much more subtle way than flower metal. ''Cthulhu Rising'' would be a great hint from where they took their inspiration. Some Howard references are present too, Conan is a popular subject and the many heavy metal interpretations are always welcome. The unknown singer is the main thing that makes this album an hidden gem for me, the vocals are amazing.

Apart from the vocals, we have a really nice wall of riffs. They are simple (it's still doom we're talking about, they're not played in a more traditional epic metal way like Solstice or Isen Torr). We also have nice clean and emotional solos to encounter, which are always cool to hear in doom. Riff wise, we could make a parallel to the Chilean doomsters Procession or to a lesser extent to the aforementionned Atlantean Kodex, but less epic. The instrumentation is quite typical from the epic doom scene, not very innovative, but it's done well and with passion. The riffs are heavy as hell, just like The Gates of Slumber. It is dark, serious and at only six songs and a little more than forty minutes, the album isn't repetitive. The feel is somewhat mid paced and when the last song ''Confiteor'' ends suddenly, you're up wanting more. 

So, if you like the current traditional doom scene, you'll dig Evangelist for sure. They're maybe a safe band for their genre. But they're doing everything correctly and for a first record, they deserve all the credit I can give them. Doom album of 2011 for me, but I'm still waiting for the new The Wounded Kings, so we'll see.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review: Arkhamin Kirjasto : Torches Ablaze - NWOFHM # 3 : Show me the way to R'lyeh ! 90%

"Venom on acid, bad trippin' in space and killing witches." - This would be the poster if this album was a B- movie.

This is the third part of my New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal special, in reality a genre led by Jussi Lehtisalo, a very charismatic musician usually wearing spandex and spikes on stage and it's damn impressing. Torches Ablaze is the latest album of his prolific label, Ektro Records and shows no  musical compromises. For this project,  Jussi is teaming up with Samae Koskinen, a live member of Xysma and a well known musician of the scene. Compared to Krypt Axeripper or any of the numerous and all excellent projects of Lehtisalo, Arkhamin Kirjasto is really winning the crown if we're searching for his weirdest stuff. It's basically a mix of harsh vocals reminding me of the Old School death metal scene like Autopsy or even some Asphyx mixed with a traditonal metal approach à la Judas Priest. All this without forgetting the huge dose of experimental influences.

Koskinen's voice is really cool and the sound of it mixed with the very diverse music is very unorthodox. It's almost surreal and out of this world. He's also playing the drums and he's sharing the bass and guitar duties with Lehtisalo. Will I can appreciate their sound, his vocals aren't especially great, they're quite on the lower register of harsh vocals and wouldn't really compete with someone like van Drunen. But for what they are and for the music, they fit very fucking well. We also have some spacey vocals like in "Sea of Madness", there's even some Manilla Road similarities, from their more psychedelic stuff obviously. There's not a lot of variation or very particularly memorable vocal lines on Torches Ablaze, I like the catchy chorus of Bitch from Hell though, a cool brainless and fun song, but the force of Arkhamin Kirjasto is their absolutely stellar songwriting, like all of Lehtisalo's projects apparently. Hey, I'm a fanboy and I'm proud of it! It really sounds like Venom and Priest reading Lovecraft and smoking opium and that's very fucking cool.

You can feel the mix of influences in their music and even though I was expecting something like this based on their first self titled release, I wasn't disappointed. It's very organic and despite the rather strange mix of genres, everything has a clear direction and it's coherent. As an introduction to the album we have "The Cult of No Return', there's some kind of keys or organs in the beginning, you're perhaps awaiting some kind of post metal à la Isis but instead there's a riff stolen from Downing and Tipton's secret vault of awesome riffs mixed with a Reifert influenced vocal approach. It's cavernous and mysterious, you can clearly see the shades of Cthulhu dancing on the walls, awaiting the opportunity to devour your soul. It's weirder than Atheist without even trying to be. It feels a natural blend of genres, not a forced one, it's not "hey let's put some jazz interludes just because we can" metal, it's all in the feelings, all in the emotions and at the end, it's truly rewarding. The production compared to their self titled release (completely in Finnish compared to this English release) is really good, it's not perfectly clean but less raw than their previous EP. The guitars are quite fuzzy, they have a lot of reverb and this very cool old school feel.  There's some cool leads reminding me of Krypt Axeripper (my first review of this NWOFHM special). The basslines are tasty and it's present enough to make us forget that it's a duo, they remind me of the more punkish side of metal, even hardcore at times. check out the song Speed, Yog Sogoth, heavy bassline right there! Sometimes the traditional metal influence is clearer, sometimes it sounds more like Autopsy trying its hand at glam metal. Anyway, we have a good variety of tempos and atmospheres, but it remains quite fast paced and it's very groovy. From Angel Witch to Venom, the influence of NWOBHM is unambiguous and much appreciated.

If you're a fan of traditional heavy metal but you feel a bit bored by the lack of experimentation of this realm, check out Arkhamin Kirjasto's new album, it's great stuff. Mindblowing and strange riffs mixed with sepulchral vocals creating a weird lovecraftian mass, but you absolutely want to be there. (by the way, yes, there's booze)

Listen to the whole album

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Review: After Illusion - s/t demo : Nosferatu is in dire need of blood... - 58%

I wrote this review because the band asked me to in the Request a Review thread of the Metal Archives, it was written back in july. 

After Illusion is a young doom metal band and this self titled demo is their second one after one released in 2007. It was a musical piece the band didn't like and they threw it in the garbage can, was this one also worthy of being thrashed? You will see. What we have here is 3 original songs, a short classical intro and a cover of Saint Vitus. The album art is cool, it's a picture of Bega Lugosi as Dracula, it's scary and totally metal. I was expecting some kind of occult doom metal, maybe similar to American peers Hour of 13, but what we have here is some kind of epic doom with some influences from power metal, but at the same time, it's trying to be traditional doom. After Illusion is classified as a power/thrash band in its earlier years on the Archives, the epic vocals and the atmospheric guitars are possibly a remnant of this power metal phase. Anyway, it feels like a doomier version of epic heavy metal at times, it could be linked to bands like Doomsword, albeit not as epic and it's not based on fantasy and history. The themes of the lyrics are about horror and the occult, but I hardly find this in their music, it doesn't invoke that kind of atmosphere within me as a band like The Wounded Kings would. It's not spooky, it's boring.

I like some of the riffs, but the production on them is quite soft, the drums and bass are also quite ordinary, not much to say about them, they're in the back doing their thing, without any form of artifices. The demo obviously lacks adequate production, and the songwriting is also uninteresting. The first song, Life and Death is quite influenced by Pagan Altar, one of the biggest influences on the band. We have an enjoyable clean lead riff at the beginning and some laid back epic styled vocals, not nasally like Terry Jones though. I'm not crazy about these vocals, they're decent, but not as good as the riffs which are themselves only semi decent. The production on the vocals is not the best, it's not complimenting the music enough, they're not bad, really, but both the execution and the production could definitely be improved. The band leader Adam Thomas is a talented fellow though, he's playing the guitar, singing and also playing the keyboards, although these aren't much present. We can feel their lush presence in Life and Death, but not so much elsewhere. The song Black Ritual has a well written solo, but again the production is soft and tired. Also, the riffs progression is not worthy of a first class doom band. For example, Nosferatu included a soft break in the middle of the song and it feels totally out of place and the transition is not well done. The songwriting has potential though, but the songs we have here are pretty boring, not mediocre, but it's lacking the sheer mighty force that I enjoy in doom metal and the production isn't to blame here. The songs are not very long for the genre, 4 to 6 minutes, but they feel like an eternity. The band is kind of in between genres, they're not sure if they're playing a more epic and atmospheric style of doom or a more traditionnal one. Something that better known recent doom bands can be accused of as well, but these (Pallbearer, Pilgrim and co.) are able of creating a good balance between the solid and fuzzy riffs and the atmospheric ones and also, they're writing with their balls and it's heavy as fuck, not something that I can say about this demo. Even the Vitus cover (Zombie Hunger) is boring, it's lacking the blurry, occult presence of this great track from Vitus' first album. 

The band doesn't fail though, they're still young and I liked the first song, but sadly, the best songwriting on this demo is the intro track, Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky... I won't throw the files in my virtual garbage can, because I recognize the potential and the effort and it's not badly written, but it's not very inspired either. Doom is not the most complex genre, but it needs passion, After Illusion is nothing new and it's tiresome

Review: Griftegård : Solemn • Sacred • Severe - Touch me, Priestly ! 90%

In the dark shadows of Sweden, Griftegård appears will all its despair and they are truly mesmerising. I can't yell or scream my love for these guys enough, their brand of doom is perfect and refined. If I had to choose another heir to Reverend Bizarre's immense legacy, this band would be my choice alongside Lord Vicar (they have a split together too). Their music, like their peers mentionned ahead is lyrical and profound doom metal. Depression, bitterness and sadness are all common themes in Solemn • Sacred • Severe but it's not some kind of "My girlfriend left and I'm crying because I'm a redhead" stuff. It's dark and mysterious, but at the same time there's some hints of romanticism. It feels like the cold moonlight's embrace on a cemetery, hey, but that's the meaning of the Swedish word "Griftegård" ! Let these sad Vikings take you on their drakkar, direction : despair !

Signed on Germany's Ván Records, a high quality label and
having Ola Blomkvist (co-founder of I Hate Records) in their rank, this band doesn't disappoint. What we can hear in here is a very vivid and organic doom with an emphasis on atmosphere, something that can recall The Wounded Kings. It's mythologic and for a while, you're totally under their spell. The main characteristic of this band in my opinion is the vocal harmonies of Thomas Eriksson (formerly of Bokor, a prog metal band). There's even some choirs to add to the religious feel throughout the release, something we can clearly hear along with the organ in "Noah's Hands", the fourth track. The vocals are helping to create and maintain the deep slow pace of the record, there's no fast paced to be found here, the fastest it can be is probably the main riff of The Mire, it's heavy and riff driven, one of the only songs structured like this.

They're not a band with a focus on bludgeoning riff. A good comparaison would be While Heaven Wept's first 2 albums, especially the debut Sorrow of the Angels. The album starts with its two longest tracks "Charles Taze Russell" (who's an important religious figure of the 20th century...) and "Punishment & Ordeal", both around 10 mins. These two songs are really giving the pace to this album. The instrumentation is subtle, not overstated, there's no blistering or fuzzy leads like in Saint Vitus. It's plain, unprocessed emotion compressed into music. There's also cool piano & organ parts such as the beginning of the last track, it's evocating some darker doom bands, almost in a funeral doom kind of way. Don't expect hard rocking doom like Age of Taurus or other modern doom revivalists, it's sloooooooow and it's without any compromises. Imagine the emotions and pace of Reverend Bizarre mixed with slowed down Candlemass, that's approximately what Griftegård is playing.

I can't say that I'm a fan of religious lyrics in general, but the lyrics of Blomkvist are really damn well written. Fortunately, they're not as preachy as Place of Skulls but it's beyond doubt their main lyrical theme, read this from "Drunk with Wormwood" :

 "Jesus dies inside my heart
Judas lingers on
All my values broken down
In a bitter frown"

We can't deny the poetic approach, it's classy and well done, just not my preference as far as traditional doom is concerned, still, it's nothing that can make an album mediocre for me. I like the imagery and the mythic feel of christianity in music, after all, its history is very bloody, isn't it? I salute the dedication to a theme even though I disagree with it, hell, that's at least as ridiculous than overtly believing in Satan. Using religion as a lyrical vehicle fits the dark prose and approach of these gentlemen. Personally, I usually prefer the over the top silliness of Albert Witchfinder or the fantasy based lyrics of The Gates of Slumber to these priestly lyrics.

It doesn't really matter to me in the end, the music is perfect. The 6 songs of this 46 minutes albums are all amazing, there's no fillers to be found, it's all graceful and higher tier doom. The production is great and the songwriting is much better than a similar band like Warning. Judging by their recent split release, this band has enormous potential, they'll be one of Europe's doom leaders in some years, believe me. If you're into slow and very emotionnal doom, they are highly recommended. Praise Satan, praise Jesus, praise who you want, it doesn't matter in the end because the goods are delivered and they are blessed by holy water. 

Monday, 13 August 2012

Review: Cathedral - The Guessing Game

I'm in the process of correcting my older reviews since my English has improved quite a bit since their publications. Here's the first one, this one was written in july 2011 and it appears on the Metal Archives, just like all my other reviews. So it's perhaps not as good as my recent ones, but I like it well enough!

What we have here is the first double album of the famous British Doomsters Cathedral (if we can still call this Doom, hardly really). The band, even since its debut, always got some psychedelic/progressive influences, but it's really on this album that Dorrian, Jennings and co. totally embraced this sound and mixed it with their familiar one which apart from some albums (like Endtyme) didn't really deviate from the one from their amazing second record ''The Ethereal Mirror''. Basically, the sound of the album is a continuation of their precedent ''The Gardens of Unearthly Delights'' but mixed with a much more apparent psychedelic and groovy influence. Just listen to the intro of the album ''Immaculate Misconception'', there's an heavy organ sound, mixed with heavy guitars and ends with the cries of a baby, that's something to start an album. The weirdness doesn't go away, IT GETS weirder, the kind of rapped vocals of Lee during ''Funeral of Dreams'' were a total surprise for me, I remember not liking them at first, but the strong point of the album is that it's really a grower, much more than any album of their back catalog in my opinion.

Let's talk about the format. A double album is always something delicate (some will say pretentious) to achieve and most of the bands are failing at this project, even renowned and loved bands like Judas Priest. Talking about Priest and their album ''Nostradamus'', I consider ''The Guessing Game'' to be the same kind of album as it would have been way greater on only one cd. The album is only one hour and twenty four minutes, so i'm thinking that it's a bit pretentious or lazy to not edit the album or to remove a song from it to fit the 80 minutes. But what we lack in editing, we get in diversity, listen to ''Death Of An Anarchist'' and its awesome clean guitar intro, lush keyboards parts and the great bass lead at the end of the song. It's a trippy album but the new fully contained influences don't let the heavier side of Cathedral intact, it's a metal album for sure, but less hard (the second disk is heavier than the first though) than the previously mentionned ''Endtyme'' or even ''The VIIth Coming''. The influence of the prog scene from the 70's is apparent and I would had loved a complete progressive Cathedral version with the ''Tull'' and the ''Yes'' influences. In fact, this album is the nearest thing to this (I'll say that while waiting for their swansong album). The title song is actually a pretty great atmospheric interlude ''à la'' Gentle Giant. I must say this sound fits Dorrian vocal approach and his psychedelic lyrics (which is one of the things that's making Cathedral an essential band to me), verses like ''Flickering candles, midnight sky. Feline presence senses high'' on the last song of disk 1, ''Cats, Incence, Candles & Wine'' feels at their place on an album like this. 

This album encapsulate the Cathedral identity, it's one of the reason I really like it. It's dark and mysterious like ''Forest of Equilibrium'' or ''Soul Sacrifice'' and it's trippy and modern like ''Supernatural Birth Machine''. We can feel the heritage of their british forefathers, like I said before. It's apparent in the drum roll starting ''One Dimensional People'' and some of the parts of ''a Noche Del Buque Maldito (Aka Ghost Ship Of The Blind Dead)'' that's the album is almost a tribute to the zombies drummers, I'm talking about Keith Moon and John Bonham or the living zombie, Bill Ward. 

It's probably one of the weirdest album on Nuclear Blast. It's strange for me (apart from a distribution point of view) that the band isn't fully on Lee's label, Rise Above. It's really not an album to discover Cathedral, it's the strangiest of their discography. Strange samples, long songs and progressive tendencies are all present. The only major letdown of the album for me is the last ten minutes song, it's a cool song musically as always with Gaz's riffs but its lyrics are totally autobiographic like the Megadeth's song ''Victory'' but everybody knows that Mustaine is a self absorbed born again christian, so that wasn't a surprise. It's a bit pretentious of Dorrian to write a song about the history of his own band. 

Finally, I consider this album one of the best of modern Cathedral, better than ''Gardens'' and its apple scent cd concept. ''The Guessing Game'' is truly a complete, conceptual and immersing album that flows together very well (the cd change is lame though). But, beware it's not a reconception of the band (so haters, don't bother) but more one of the final statements of this quatuor and a vision of its heritage and identity, i'm really waiting for their latest album ''The Last Spire'' for the definitve statement of the band.

Weird Stuff Special Podcast

Here's my new podcast/compilation. The theme is "weird stuff". Check it out. I have a guest on it, he's Alex also known as Necroticism174 from the Archives forum. Enjoy!
The playlist
Weird stuff, download the file here

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Pharaoh Overlord - Out of Darkness (2011) 88%

NWOFHM #2 : Tiger, space and lasers - 88%

"Hear me roar" a Lannister would say, but this tiger won't warn you, he'll eat you alive!

Pharaoh Overlord released their only true metal album in 2011 and I must say it's a very good one. They usually play some kind of stoner/experimental/psychedelic rock with lots of improvisations and jams but they decided to make a very direct and to the point album with Out of Darkness. Escape the grasp of the tiger on the art of the album and run in their spacey forest, don't forget to dodge the lasers though.

Jussi Lehtisalo (the owner of Ektro Records and member of Circle, Motorspandex, Krypt Axeripper, Arkhamin Kirjasto and many others) is handling the bass, his usual instrument. Along with Jussi Kangas who's on guitar and vocals. On the drums we have Tomi Leppänen, also in Motorspandex. These three are very good musicians, but there's also the presence of guest musicians including Bruce Duff (who's in the Canadian underground icon Thor and used to be in Jester of Destiny, an American heavy metal band of minor or non existent fame). There's also Sam Velde fom Night Horse, a promising hard rock unit from the US. They both do guest vocals on some songs and as I'm not familiar with Pharaoh Overlord's usual vocalist, it's not changing many things for me. I simply can say that all the vocals on this album are fucking top notch. Bruce Duff is supposed to be on track 5, "Transylvanian Afternoon" and these vocals are quite good. We have a fun vocal diversity, very good romantic and proggy vocals on the aforementionned track or a more nasal approach on "No Speed Limit", a speed/heavy metal track with a huge German influence. There's also some sort of a doom and almost grungey vocal approach sometimes, like on "Unseen Eye". Sam Velde's sleaze metal approach is also very enjoyable. He's on the title track and the last track "I am the Light". There's a great vocal variety but it stays in the traditional clean realm, no harsh vocals like in Motorspandex or Arkhamin Kirjasto here. There's some experimental moments though,  like Devastator, the longest track on the album at 9 mins where the name of the song is repeated in loop towards the end, it creates a very psychedelic and hypnotic feel. There's soaring clean vocals worthy of praise.

The music is also quite varied, going in many directions, be it speed metal, psychedelic metal with hints of Judas Priest and progressive rock. There are even some moments reminding me of Manilla Road on some songs. Sometimes more direct with fast paced songs, sometimes they take their time with slower tempo numbers, but one thing is sure, it's always great. The song "No Speed Limit" reminds me of early Voivod but cleaned up, especially these weird vocals. The riffs are cool, heavy and with a NWOBHM influence. But my favorite thing on the record is the atmospheric leads, like this psychedelic break in "Unseen Eye", almost something we could find in an old Genesis album. Some parts are similar to Tony Martin's Sabbath as well. Some very powerish heavy metal with the occasional doom riff. The album starts with a short accoustic introduction before the good title track and it never looks back, the quality is constant and quite high. Out of Darkness is a perfect mix of English heavy metal with obvious old school Iron Maiden influences, some USPM à la Griffin while not forgetting the European roots.

To conclude, it's a very interesting album, it's a wind of fresh air in the stagnant sea of heavy metal. It's old school while bringing cool and new ideas and it's clearly not an emulation of the past, something a band like Cauldron is doing, their music is played with passion though, that's hard to deny. The spectres of classic metal are lurking in there, but they are giving the band the required space for their music to grow, rock and destroy !

Favorite albums of 2011 \m/

Top 5 of 2011

Primordial- Redemption at the Puritan's Hand
-Amazing album by these Irish veteran. In the same vein of their previous 2, but they push this genre to its creative peak with this sublime album. Folk, pagan, prog, black metal, call it what you want...

Lord Vicar - Signs of Osiris
Peter Vicar formely of Reverend Bizarre came back with a vengeance with Lord Vicar, this is their 2nd album and it's a perfect traditional doom metal album written by one of the most iconic guitarist of the modern doom scene.
Satan's Host - By the hands of the DevilAn amazing traditional heavy metal album mixed with some black/speed and thrash influences and with Harry Conklin, singer of the now split up Jag Panzer.
Wormrot - Dirge

The 2nd album of these crazy grinders from Singapore and it destroys. Amazing fast and clean grind for fans of Nasum and the likes. 
Pharaoh Overlord - Out of Darkness
Amazing heavy metal with different influences from Finland.

Lord Vicar - Signs of Osiris


The Wounded Kings - In the Chapel of the Black Hand
The Devil's Blood- The Thousandfold Epicentre
Blood Ceremony - Living With the Ancients
Enslaved - The Sleeping Gods EP
Forteresse - Crépuscule d'automne
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Blood Lust
Orne - the tree of life
Vektor - Outer Isolation
Graveyard - Hisingen Blues
Autopsy - Macabre Eternal
Hell - Human Remains

Castle - In Witch Order
Gridlink - Orphan
Arch/Matheos - Sympathetic Resonance
Manilla Road - Playground of the Damned

Opeth - Heritage
Disma - Towards the Megalith
Morbud Chron - Sleepers in the rift
Vreid - V
In Solitude - The World. The Flesh. The Devil
Pharaoh Overlord - Out of Darkness
Thy Catafalque - Rengeteg
Cormorant - Dwellings

Leeches of Lore - Attack the Future
Hammers of Misfortune - 17th Street
Fen - Epoch
Evangelist - In Partibus Infedelium

Review: Krypt Axeripper - Mechanical Witch : NWOFHM # 1 : Shubidubah - 90%

The weird album art!
"Oh no, the riders of death coming from the paradise! Lucifer!"

Directly from metal's heaven, what we have here is a really weird unit called Krypt Axeripper. It's yet another project of Jussi Lehtisalo (watch out for my future reviews of his stuff) and like his other bands, it's really damn good. I don't know what's in the water in Pori, probaby only booze, but everything I heard from this scene is so special and fucked up. I have to thank my Austrian friend Azmodes for the cd, as I'm quite obsessed about it these days. You know it's gonna be strange when you hit the play button, the first sound you're hearing is the unorthodox drum part indicating your short but rewarding ride. It's like spending a day in a Disney movie but on shrooms, in Finland and with drunk Russian studs making jokes while huffing jenk.

Jussi (known as Krypt in this project) plays everything except the drums (played by one of his co members of Circle, his most well known project, an experimental/prog rock band). Krypt Axeripper has a false back story as a cult band from the 80s and I'm totally buying this. The cd looks like a reedition of an old 7" inch and it's even written "Ektro Archives' on the disc itself, a very cool and funny gimmick if you ask me. The lyrics are pretty good, a shame they're not in the booklet, but they are quite understandable. Read this jewel from "Possessed (By Trees)": "screaming fire, screaming night, the kraken surrounds you". It's epic and fun, just like their music. The vocal lines are awesome, they sound like a wizard who's whispering magic formulas to kill legendary beasts, like this kraken. There's also some 'shubiduwah' lines that are gonna put a smile on your face, there's almost a surf rock influence haha. The vocals are clean, something quite different from Motorspandex's experimental harsh vocals (One of Jussi's other EP project, it's basically KA but even crazier, highly recommended as well). It's both very catchy and metal as fuck. Only a simple look at the song titles would convince you "Battle of the Axehammer" and "High Speed Thunder Forever Gone". It's over the top and it's great. Everything is forming a great iron rolling ball of catchiness and it's hitting everything on its route, by mistake or not.

This band is undeniably metal, but it's very poppy. Obviously, not like their compatriots Nightwish and the other candied music for grown up children produced by the metal warehouses. We have four quite short songs for a total of 10 minutes and it's NOT enough. I want more! I usually put the album on repeat, drink some beers and swing an imaginary sword towards my foes. It's basically over analysed traditional heavy metal, decorticated to his primal origin and injected with extra liquid weirdness. An exercise of style of some with massive orgasmic results. For a more traditional version of Krypt Axeripper, you can check out Tractor Pulling, they only have a single released, like the two aforementionned bands. Jussi is definitely a fan of starting many projects, he probably forgets about them before starting a new one. 

This EP, Mechanical Witch doesn't sound like any band I heard, it's mixing glam, heavy metal and experimental into something, new, something alive and worthwile. The leads and riffs are interesting and quite unique, they twist and turn and manage to make you lost control of yourself in their whirlwinds. The drummer is using the cymbals a lot and it created a very original and demented feel. Jussi is handling the bass, his usual instrument and unlike the music, it's not quite, more present bass lines would had been nice. It's not a technical album, but you can find this mechanical feel throughout their music, but at the same time, it's natural and really cohesive. Released in 2007, I don't have much hope for a sophomore EP or a LP by Krypt Axeripper. Let's just hope he'll focus his metal songwriting on Motorspandex and Arkhamin Kirjasto or release a new Pharoah Overlord album sounding like Out of Darkness. He has a knack for special metal, that's for sure.

If you're looking for something different but still within the heavy metal genre, you should listen to Krypt Axeripper, also check out all the bands on Ektro Records while we're on the subject. Embrace the Mechanical Witch, this wicked and amazing creation of an obscure musical mastermind, Jussi Lehtisalo. Get possessed by their trees, let them wrap your body in their sonic roots.

Tony's notes: NWOFHM is the New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal by the way

Review: Castle - Blacklands : In these blacklands, a castle stands tall - 92%

This album is a true masterpiece and it will probably be my favorite album of 2012, but here's a more detailed opinion! I've seen the band live with Witch Mountain and they totally destroyed. They played the whole album, it's short, but it's quality over quantity. The band has something plenty of newer doom acts are lacking: charisma. When you experience the album, during a live atmosphere or at home with your headphones, you can hear the emotional vocals of Liz Blackwell. She's a very inspired and inspiring musician, a very beautiful woman with a down to earth approach. But the fact is that her feminine presence is only a tool to Castle's quality, it's not something you should put on a pedestal. She's not a generic symphonic metal diva, she's what a woman should be in metal, uncompromising and powerful, not simply a pretty singer in a corset. Her bass playing is fully irreprochable and it's creating a very lethal doom duo alongside the guitarist of Castle, Mat Davis, who's also the main composer of the band. The power trio is completed by the very good and tight drummer Al McCartney. There's nothing unnecessary in Castle, it's a doom trio with a full blown attack, no artifices, no tricks, only good riffs and top-notch songwriting.

Despite being a traditional doom band, Castle truly has a sound of their own. We can find the American doom giants' influence in their music, but also some stoner and some psychedelic rock influences (the first 30 seconds of Alcatraz is a good example). Despite that, mistaking them for another band of the same vein as The Devil's Blood, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Blood Ceremony, or the aforementioned Witch Mountain would be a mistake. They're in a niche of their own, albeit borrowing many elements of many genres. Honestly, I'm all for a much bigger feminine presence in my favorite genre. If there's a genre where women are taking a preponderant place, it's in this slow one. Maybe it's not so slow to open it's doors to a feminine influence. Outside of the occult doom scene, a scene that's already kind of breathless, we have these great bands from all over the world who are releasing quality stuff, including Rituals of the Oak from Australia or even Cauchemar from Canada, a band with a lot of potential. The band Mourn from the UK is a great forerunner for bands like Castle. They released their only self titled album in 1995 and it's a romantic and emotionnal record without being over the top cheesy, just like Castle, they had the right amount of vigor and emotions. 

Without being one of the most visible figures of the doom movement, this band is one of the is one of the best new ambassadors of the genre, they certainly have a bright future ahead of them. They do everything right, their sound is quite varied, we can find some excellent groovy and pounding riffs on faster songs like the the title track (check out their promo video for this track, it's pretty cool). The band are not fans of long jams, what we have on Blacklands is 8 normal lenght songs, only the final track, Dying Breed is 6 minutes. There's even a very cool short song called Venus Pentagram (it's the only music Davis wrote with Blackwell, maybe we'll get shorter and rockier songs in the future?). Mat Davis' playing has just the right feel, not too fuzzy, not too clean. I like the atmospheric touches too, like the beginning of Curses of the Priests, that's before the awesome double vocals attack of Davis and Blackwell. The vocals of the guitarist are giving a cool stonerish edge to their music -check out the song Storm Below the Mountain for an example. This song has very cool leads too, these aren't only doom, there's some epic heavy metal thrown in there too, the mix of all these elements made this song one of the best on the album. In contrast to Davis, Blackwell's voice offers a fine contrast, blending cleanliness with sheer power, taking the role of the evil seductress in a somewhat unorthodox manner, listen to Corpse Candles, it's a very lustful and dark song. The vocals aren't alien to the riffs, they fit the atmosphere really well, unlike some other doom bands with female vocalists. Some might say that's a gimmick, maybe it is... But, it isn't with Castle. There's a real chemistry going on here, It's a busy album, there's no wasted time at 35 minutes, it's a release you put on repeat, it's hynoptizing and fulfilling, almost handing a hand to your doom. There's some truly amazing parts on Blacklands, like these clean leads section that are very well done and are preventing the album to get monotonous and boring. The lyrics and atmospheres are about the occult and fantasy, but without an excess of poetic lyricism, something that wouldn't fit with their music. Unlike epic doom bands, like Solstice and Atlantean Kodex, they stay in a more controlled vibe, a bit like The Gates of Slumber's latest album, The Wretch. It's dark and profound and bewitching. 

The two key words for Blacklands are cohesion and control. Nothing is out of place, everything feels right and the production of the veteran and legendary producer Billy Anderson is perfect. It's tight and airy when it needs to be. Castle is fast paced traditional doom metal but you can feel the passion and the will to transcend the conventions. They're not really bringing anything new or original to the table, but they're a very convincing unit. They're quite unique, they don't sound like any other bands of their style. Even if you usually dislike metal with frontwomen, Castle needs your attention, after all, music is like an arrow shot through the heart. I must say that Castle shot an arrow through mine.

"There's always doom for the wicked, take hold of the pain "

Review: Black Capricorn - S/T : The sorceress' cauldron is tempting - 75%

What we have here is a very cool fuzzy doom band from Sardinia and contrary to their famous cheese full of flies named Casu marzu, it's quite tasty. They are signed to the American label 12th Records and just like the previous bands (Yob, Ocean Chief...) of this small label, they are quite psychedelic. It's dark, bewitching and full of heavy riffs made of 10,000 tons of lava (listen to the song of the same name!). 

The veil of smoke obscuring the mightiness of the vocals reminds me of Electric Wizard, quite obviously one of the biggest influences of Black Capricorn. Another band influence by Oborn people will say? Yes, absolutely and I have no problems with this! You shouldn't necessarily skipped this band if you're bored of this genre though, while not bringing a lot of new things to the table, they use novelty and fantasy in their music. The passion is there, waiting for you to simply dive into the sorceress' cauldron and let her spellbending music do its magic.

The Italians are more direct and less inclined to the stoner induced sound of the British masters. This band is very talented, melting subtle songwriting and bludgeoning riffs to create an intricate blend of powerful and emotionnal doom metal. The vocals of the guitarist Kjxu are priestly, check the song The Maelmhaedhoc O' Morgair Prophecy for a good example of this, the sample at the start reveals the intention of making music with a grandiose religious vibe, only the organ solos and the (inverted) crosses are lacking, but eh, there's a sorceress on the album art and she's preparing an evil mixture! The vocals are lacking power and originality, but they fit the genre well, some improvement are needed here. Another great example of the particular church like vibes we can find on this album is the second track, Perpetual Eclipse. The track has a very strange introduction with some kind of flutes or oboe, maybe a traditional Sardinian instrument (if you know what is it, feel free to let me know)

Despite being on an island in the Mediterranean, we can't hardly link these Sardinians to their Maltese doom friends (Forsaken, Nomad Son). There's no keyboards, it's not a christian band and they are not epic, both their lyrical themes and overall sound. They sound more English or American. Albeit being a very psychedelic doom band, they don't forget their Sabbathian roots and indulge Iommi riffs all over the record, check the instrumental track at the middle of the release. The sound is dominated by the guitar, I can't really say much things about the bass and drums, they do their job carefully without frills (both played by pretty Italian girls too). It's quite riff based, something true to doom, but the solos could be better as well, something that will be improved on the next release based on the lineup changes.

I can see why the band decided to improve their lineup and based on my Italian friend Uncolored, their new stuff is pretty good. They added a vocalist and a second guitarist to the band, I really think it will pay off and create a more sonic and rich psychedelic atmosphere. Yes, the songwriting is quite good, but there's some limitations to their vision, the new lead guitarist will bring some uber heavyness to the band and transcend to new heights. 

If you enjoy doom metal with an emphasis on huge fuzzy riffs, buried clean vocals with hints of psychedelic influences, check Black Capricorn, you won't be disappointed. Along with Holy Martyr, they are a Sardinian force to reckon with and they have lots of potential.

Review: Leeches of Lore - Frenzy, Ecstasy: Oh my! Spaghetti with meatballs! Eat that, cowboy! - 98%

Imagine for a moment we do find something interesting on Mars, hopefully it would be proof of the existence of life, maybe a settlement? Let's enter this hypothetical city, let's walk in the midst of its red sand streets, what do you see? A cantina? YES, let's have a drink shall we? The cantina is dark but inviting, Ennio Morricone is drinking a glass of Italian red wine at the bar, he's talking to a trashy cowboy with an accoustic guitar strapped to his back, the later seems pretty drunk and inclined to a fist fight, you ignore them and continue. In the pale light of the bar, a long hair stoner is playing a game of pool with a more clean cut metalhead, it's a rough game but at the same time, it's cohesive. The psychedelic scent coming from the stoner is making you dizzy, you don't know exactly why you like this place, but it's captivating, you try to move, but someone is grasping your leg, instinctively, you kick the danger in the face only to see that it was a dead drunk thrasher, he's now bleeding on the floor and the remaining people in the bar are looking at you suspiciously, you actually missed the show, damn you. Suddenly, there's a scream coming from the bathrooms, along with the metalheads, you investigate the scene. « Ah, it's simply our zombie, Jon Lord, he scared the waitress again, no worries» says the stoner. The stage is freshly empty, the air smells like tobacco and tequila mixed with German sausages, you're suddenly very confused and you decide to go outside to get some air. Unfortunately, the warm sun of mars is making you sweaty and sick, you fall on the sand, subjugated, but happy, you close your eyes.You hear that the Martian cowboys are fighting, lasers are burning on the walls, is it the siege of Cydonia ? You'll never know. You wake up in your bed, your headphones are on the floor but your jaw is surprisingly in place, but there's a sparkle in your eyes.

That's the emotions and thoughts I got when I first heard this album, and no, I'm not taking drugs, not often anyway. I simply don't have the words to describe this masterpiece, I think they simply don't exist yet. Maybe the rover Curiosity will find them for me because this band is totally out of this world. Let's come back to our planet, let's pretend the dudes from Leeches of Lore are still living in their native New Mexico and hanging out in a similar bar. Frenzy, Ecstasy is the third album from this very strange, original and powered by kryptonite trio. If you took the time to read my short story ahead, you got an approximative understanding of this band. With influences ranging from country, flamenco, spaghetti western, noise, indie, experimental, avant garde, progressive and psychedelic, well name a genre, it's probably there. All this within a solid core of speed/thrash/heavy metal. Leeches of Lore are the most original and ground breaking unit I ever heard. Encompassing so many things I like without randomness and confusedness, it's a very well balanced record and at only 37 minutes, you have no time to get tipsy, you barely have the time to understand everything, you need a second, a third, a fourth listens, and you'll still oblivious to the intricate songwriting. The name of the first song sets the bar quite high for some funny silliness, it's named "Afghanistan Banana Stand", but let's not decline the invitation, this is not a humoristic band, this is a modern version of Rush if they got lost in the Mexican desert, met the guys of Sleep, smoked weed for a couple of years while watching old westerns on a black and white television. All this on a porch full of dwelling geckos. 

The band consists of 3 extremely talented musicians, Steve Hammond handling the vocals & guitars, Andy Lutz on the drums and Noah Wulters playing the organ, bass and piano. Three musicians in a perfect chemistry, creating a penetrating sonic orgasm which is grasping your living heart in its invisible allure. The keyboards, just like 80s Rush, are quite prevalent in their sound, but it's not modern sympho pseudo snoozefest metal, they are played on old school rhodes piano, hence you should expect a very natural sound, just listen to the parts on "Reverse, Cowgirl". It's dense, captivating and it has the shadow of 70s progressive rock to look upon. After this cool song, we have a slow dirge full of Morricone influences, the trumpets are blazing their glorious despair upon us, mere listeners. These influences can be found in the best and longest track on the album, the second song "L'evoluzione dei Microbi", an eight minutes magnum opus of incredible variety. The begining is quite slow, it's an emotional reminder of a Leone movie. It's slowly building a crescendo culminating with some epic doomy metallic riffs, fast paced drums and soaring clean vocals and it ends with an experimental and noisy conclusion. Quite a ride, it's a good summary of the album in fact. 

There's also some real thrashy moments, like "Savory Marshmallow" with cool high harsh vocals, heavy riffs and epic vocal lines. But overall, what's dominating this album is the country and spaghetti western influence mixed with their already awesome metal sound, hell, the trumpets are credited to Pancho and Nefty, an obvious reference to the classic song "Pancho & Lefty" of Townes Van Zandt, a folk and country legend. Really, I don't think I heard a similar band, they're doing what they want with no contraints , being an independant band is probably a plus for them. Unfortunately, they're going on a hiatus, one of the member is going to Mexico for a while, I can't hardly see how they can be more influenced by this culture than on this record witout losing the other metallic and rock influences, but we'll see. I'll wait patiently for a new release and my expectations are quite high after this masterpiece.

I don't think I can continue praising this album, like their 2 previous releases, Attack the Future and Leeches of Lore, it's really strange but mesmering music with a knack for visual odysseys. Their album art is a good proof of this, take a look at the very poetic cover of Frenzy, Ecstasy , it's not capturing the sound like the two previous albums though (their second album could easily be a NES game artwork), but it's describing a very beatiful content with many surprises. This band like Voivod is for a vivid generation of weird listeners, there's no boundaries to their music.

The spaghetti is metal, already full of butter, add these tasty Italian meatball sauce, this western seasoning and let it melt in your mouth. This is Leeches of Lore, welcome to Mars, enjoy your stay. Soak your face in their magical tomato sauce and ride your horse till there's no more bad thoughts in your mind..

Tony's notes : the mp3 album is available for 6 bucks on their bandcamp. Help them buy some more spaghetti sauce.