Monday, 29 July 2013

Infera Bruo - Desolate Unknown (2013) 83%

barita per lojalecon

This band from Boston is back with their second album after their very well received debut released in 2011 and they don't disappoint. A shame that the band is still unsigned as they're truly excellent, I hope this album will give them the exposure they need and deserve.

Once again showing that the USBM (United States Black Metal) scene is only geographically adequate, Infera Bruo (Esperanto for hellish noise) doesn't sound American at all. Indeed, they're basically a Yankee answer to the progressive black metal sound of mid era Enslaved. Similar to the sound investigated by the Norwegians on an album like “Monumension” or even “Isa” and “Ruun”, The band develops a very enjoyable sound and compared to modern Enslaved, it's still undeniably black metal. Melodic, heavy and dissonant, the music doesn't break boundaries but their songwriting is more than excellent.

An apostle of both Enslaved and Opeth (two of my favorite bands), Infera Bruo is obviously very pleasing to my ears. “Oblivion” reminds me of the seminal” My Arms, Your Hearse” with its dark melodic black metal approach. There's long tracks (2 over 10 minutes) but the band is nowhere near slow, it's aggressive and doesn't let go of your balls (or your throat, choose whatever you're more comfortable with). Some parts are more subdued like the ending of “Ritual Within”, a very emotional epic 13 minutes song similar to the prog sound of “Axioma Ethica Odini” with its lush and subtle approach. The guitars are not quite technical, there's some leads here and there but hardly common. Even in the longer songs, it stays interesting and that's a feat not a lot of bands can achieve.

The guitars are dissonant, recalling the unorthodox scene. The presence of two short interludes can also remind the listener of the occult influence of a band like Deathspell Omega but contrary to the French horde, it's only a small side of the band. It would had been cool to expand on this but it's always a risky endeavor. You can either end up with 15 minutes of clutter or having a marvelous atmospheric ambient album à la Darkspace. I'm relatively happy the band chose to release a 50 minutes album with no fillers, maybe they'll experiment a bit more later? Their sound is far from incomplete though and it has a wide range of musicality and emotions. The drums can be very thunderous and fast, sometimes there's even blastbeats such as in the excellent “Dust of Stars” and the vocals are mostly quite competent harsh screams mixed with some cleans similar to, yeah no surprise here, Enslaved.

The production is superb, nothing is overshadowing anything except perhaps the vocals, they're a bit buried but it fits the occult atmosphere, it's self produced by the band proving they're in full control of their sound. While the album is very good, there's a big flaw I need to mention. The identity of the band is way too similar to Enslaved, I think they need to find a sound of their own to create their mark. For now, it remains an excellent worship of a great band, let the awesome artwork fool you and check them out.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady ladies (2013) | 42%

Ultrameh Volbeatdown

You know the feeling when you try the new restaurant in town for the first time ? You order the steak, probably even the T-bone and its plate is nice, the side dish is decent, a green salad or some something healthy like that (if you're on a date, if not, it's of course the fries, you fat slob). The steak looks nice, the exterior has a nice color and its smell is OK but the taste, man, it's way too fat and the inside is way too bloody. There's also an unnecessary amount of melted cheese on it for some unfathomable reason. The cook is experimenting and failing at it. Not everything you decide to mix together can be glorious.

Volbeat is that steak, they're indeed a very original band and I need to give them some credit for their inventive formula. Their artistic approach is not without merits and their intent is noble, well I do think so. Unfortunately, as one of Denmark's most well known bands, they totally missed the opportunity to follow Mercyful Fate into the depths of metal hell (Denner, Shermann and King Diamond are all guests on the record, this reminds me of Metallica Orion's festival, they seem totally disconnected of what metal is in 2013). But why is Volbeat missed their boat? Because they fucking suck, that's why.

On their fifth album, the band expands its more than catchy side. They always had these soft songs but I feel it's a bit more prevalent here. It's not necessarily a bad thing since they're not better at being heavy or soft, they're pretty mediocre at both. Volbeat is mixing the alternative era of Metallica with a fair mix of rockabilly, country, blues, pop rock, punk and folk with their usual heavy/groove sound. The amalgamation of genres is simply too much to handle. It doesn't even sound good on paper and it's an awful novelty in its execution.

From sugary FM ballads like “Cape of our Hero” (hell, Chad Kroeger wrote a better song on the Spiderman soundtrack) to lead infused groove (Rob Caggiano, an ex member of Anthrax, he's pretty decent). There's acoustic and clean guitars and all the stuff that can make a good song. I probably wouldn't change the radio channel if I were to find it, but hey I don't listen to the radio because, frankly, it blows. Volbeat is easy, simple and they don't try hard enough. Not as heavier as their early stuff, the band still thinks it's metal enough with tracks like “Room 24” with King Diamond or “Dead But Rising”. The metal ruler of Denmark really destroys Michael Poulsen on this track, well it wasn't quite hard since I think he's a terrible vocalist and the main flaw of their sound.

His pitiful deep southern approach is really grating on my nerves. He kills the band for me since their formula is very vocally focused. His mix of modern day “Yeaaaaah!” James Hetfield and cock charmer Elvis Presley impersonator is like a slap of bad taste on my face. Even though his voice is powerful, his delivery and the sound of his voice annoys me deeply. Nonetheless, he's charismatic and it fits their Americana approach but I wonder how a David Eugene Edwards (16 Horsepower & Wovenhand) would sound in a metal band. At least he can write decent noir and pulp inspired lyrics but after five albums, the theme is getting a bit redundant. I get it, you like leather jackets, fedoras and you love milkshakes and you go to conventions dressed as James Dean.

While I reckon the band successfully played their cards during their whole career, their flaws are just too important for me to thoroughly enjoy them. Believe me, I tried and I enjoyed Guitar Guitars & Cadillacs Blood back in the day. Quite catchy (well, it's needed since their songwriting is hardly a subtle affair). They seem honest and hardworking but their approach is simply something I can't get behind. Both the form (14 songs, that's just way too much) and the mix of styles that makes the band undeniably cheesy and predictable.

Most of the songs have good parts but they're rarely good all the way through except perhaps the two last tracks, both excellent. I enjoy the beginnings of most tracks like “Black Bart” with its punky overture but the aforementioned vocals ruined the track once again. Many tracks have this western approach like “Lonesome Rider” with a female guest vocalist. It probably would be a hit on CMT if it was advertised enough and honestly, it's not bad. What is bad though is the fact all their sound are not completely combined with each others. You can hear an acoustic intro, some harmonica but then, it changes and they forget their western influences for the rest of the song. Sometimes they remember and play a ten seconds of clean country guitars just to be cool. I'd like to hear a good mix of metal and country since Volbeat can't hardly mix them. I don't quite remember the amount of different influences in their early albums but I have better things to than to go back and listen to them like eating BBQed shrimp and trashing Pabst Blue Ribbon cans.

Some good moments here and there but the vocals are simply too obnoxious to deal with. The band has good solos, sometimes even hints of Megadeth's melodic thrash leads. I just don't care for their music even though it's emotional and catchy. If you already liked Volbeat before, you'll certainly like their latest album even if it's wimpier than their previous releases. They're certainly still terrible and not worth your time. Have you ever met a Volbeat fan? They're as rare as Foo Fighters but for some reasons they're both popular and their albums are gonna be good picks in low price bins.

Terrorama - Genocide (2012) | 80%

Vicious Pummeling death/thrash

Terrorama's third album is yet another half hour of vicious death/thrash played by veteran musicians. Peter Lidén, the owner of I Hate Records, plays something not very common on his label here but there's something familiar here : the old school feel. Similar to Hypnosia, Vulcano or Sarcofago, the band delivers a slab of vitriolic burning metal that will please the aficionados of pummeling classic onyx.

Genocide is a brief attack on all your senses and it's a fun ride, well fun is relative since the subjects are quite gritty and as a future history teacher, I'm pretty happy to read about other historic matters than World War II. Politically conscious, the band writes about the violent excesses of humanity as illustrated by the gruesome painted cover art. There's tracks about the Soviet era and even Uganda. You guessed it, it's all about famous genocides like the Holodomor (the last epic track) is literally “extermination by hunger” in Ukrainian is about the Stalinian purges in the 1930s and I fucking loved that era. History is a very dark subject and when the lyrics are well written, it's always fantastic. So kudos to the lyricist(s), great job and it's a change from the usual dark, evil or satanic subjects.

Even the longer tracks like “Conceived in Abhorrence” are machines of destruction fueled with the rage of early Kreator or Nifelheim's seminal debut. Armed with fast riffs with the right amount of rawness, the guitars are screechy and high. The production, capable, is right what the band needed, metal shouldn't be too clean and sterile anyway. Even though the band managed to mix death and thrash metal in their formula, there's some black metal here and there mostly in the tremolo riffs and the dark cavernous vocals such as the epic six minutes mid paced conclusion. There's also thrashier songs like the title track evoking Show No Mercy. It relies more on the early days of thrash or the proto black bands than on the more melodic side of this nowadays stale genre. The band acts as a good death metal counterpart to Norway's Aura Noir, both evolving in the modern scene with livid old school influences but also enough punch in their songwriting to keep things interesting.

Four years after Omnipotence, the band hasn't lost its power. It's fast, heavy and has this raw savage sound. Nonetheless, it's nothing extraordinary and while I played it often because it's easy to listen to, I'm afraid it won't quite pass the test of time. Definitely not mediocre but a bit mundane and I think it's for the purists of the genre, a good add for most metal veterans anyhow.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Garden of Worm - Garden of Worm (2010) | 87%

Enter the Garden of Unearthly Worms

Yet another doom masterpiece from the realm of Finland, Garden of Worm's debut full length is a very nice album with everything to please my appetite.  The country is rarely producing sub par material and this trio from Kangasala (near Tampere) is no exception, I only hope they won't fall into obscurity and release a sophomore album. Taking their name from a song on King Crimson's seminal release ''In the Wake of Poseidon'', the band is no stranger to progressiveness themselves as they mix the traditional doom approach with a shitload of prog influences.

I don't know what established Finland as a powerhouse for doom made for my particular being. Perhaps the bleakness and coldness of the sound intertwined with the mournful emotions. It's evoking the classic doom sound but with a darker yet immense approach usually found in black metal bands. You know the likes: candles burning, incense spouting its smell, big livid eyes looming at the lifeless prey.

Contrary to a band like Wandering Midget (definitely worthy of your time and money as well), they're not exclusively praying at the altar of the deceased Reverend Bizarre. Songs like “Psychic Wolves” or the lengthy “Hollow” can recall the Albert Witchfinder's touch but they have this added charming weird feeling that you can find on the more obscure RB releases such “Return to Rectory”.While there's a clear influence both in the vocal department and some of the doomier riffs, Garden of Worm is more of a apostle of label mates Revelation, the cult American progressive doomsters. They have this laid back musical approach with lush riffs varying in speed but always deeply atmospheric.. They also have this romantic and epic influence more obvious on fantasy inclined tracks like “The Alchemist's Dream”, a song recalling the Germans of Atlantean Kodex.

The prog influence is subtle but we can feel the European influence, be it kraut or the Jethro Tull influenced instrumental track “Rays from Heaven” with its flute part and its folk feel. The album, in my opinion, can be divided in two parts, the first three songs has this faster pace and its ending with this short interlude mentioned earlier. “The Ceremony”, the fastest track on the record is a groovy number with nice melodic vocals. The vocals have this operatic feel found in many European doom bands since the arrival of Candlemass, we can also feel the touch of Solitude Aeternus often. Even though the singer is not in the same league as Robert Lowe, his voice is pretty nice.

The band is a trio and they keep things relatively simple and smooth, although it's proggy there's no blistering leads or mellotron solos here. It's pretty much all in the songwriting and incorporated in the sound. Well presented and produced for its genre, the band controlled its delivery and served an album with subtleties and it's an impressive debut. I'd admit I haven't heard their Eps but I wouldn't be surprised if they were pretty good as well.

Garden of Worm's Facebook

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Karma to Burn - Slight Reprise (2012) | 85%

toodoodo! You found the instrumental tits of groove!

The instrumental stoner veterans released their sixth album last year and while it doesn't deviate from their usual sound, it's still pretty enjoyable. You don't need to fix a solid recipe, eh ? I always have a time hard time with instrumental bands, they really have a different focus than bands with singers. They paint landscapes with sounds and it's sometimes harder to truly achieve a pleasing sound of their own. Not for K2B though.

From fast paced stoner to slower southern kicks in the ass, Karma to Burn's wheels are pretty used to the long road. "Fourteen" starts with a bluesy slow riff and evolves into a stoner metal track. The three musicians are extremely good and they're never showing off, the drums, the bass and the guitars all brothers in arms, in perfect cohesion. Three Harley Davidsons rolling at the same speed on a gravely road, they're all leaving tips to the huge tits waitresses at the bar and drinking their Mexican lager with immense pleasure. The guitars are heavy and catchy, fast and rich giving a sense of movement to the listeners. The bass, loud and subtle at the same time, is a perfect acolyte who's choosing its moments to shine like on the immense ''Seven''. The drums are a powerhouse of might, heavy and easy to groove to. They often do their own thing and while the instruments are often quite unique in their approach, everything is cohesive.

Even though like I said, I usually prefer the presence of vocals in my metal, these guys are perfect like that and even if they sold out their soul for their first album (Roadrunner forced them to get a singer). The album is a reinterpreation of the debut (hence the title) without a singer and with the current lineup and it's much better since the vocals were so out of place and mediocre. They had a no name dude probably found in a local cougar infested bar somewhere. The only song with vocals is ''Two Times'' and it features the legendary John Garcia from Kyuss and it's obviously quite cool as Karma to Burn is one of the best stoner bands around, instrumental or not.

They threw feces at the establishment and endured as a trio for the rest of their career and I expect them to do so until the end, as it should be. Artistic integrity is important, you play metal because you want to break free of these conventions but you're never really free. Somewhere, somehow, someone will tell you what to do, you can sure become successful but respect is somewhat harder to get. It's a matter of decisions, smart or not it doesn't matter when it's conform to your ideals.

Their sound can be a bit formulaic at times since there's not a lot of variations and the songs are pretty much all alike but it remains interesting and it's not a long album. As their third album in three years, the passion is still there. Unfortunately, I don't have a car but I guess this band is ideal for road trips.

While not as interesting as psychedelic instrumental rock bands like Sungod or even perhaps some particular drone/doom, their sound exists for a reason, it's groovy, sexy and smells like leather and asphalt and you need to admire that.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Albion Codex - Summon the Ancients (2013) | 65%

Union Jack Prog/Psych Metal pt. 1: Empty Book

The Albion Codex is a British quartet who's playing a mix of progressive metal/rock with epic doom and other different influences. While I liked their debut album, it still has clear flaws that made Summon the Ancient an underwhelming release. Although their compositions have many intricate layers, their compositions are too complicated for their own sake. That's unfortunate but I think that's a fault they can correct for their future releases.

The five songs are all pretty long, three of them are reaching the nine minutes mark and even if I'm usually a fan of extended compositions, I don't think it works here. Mostly because of the way the songs are composed, the transitions are pretty awful, Mikael Akerfeldt is really a master composer compared to that. The heavy to soft progressions are far from natural and in my opinion, they're not helping the bands. There's simply too many things tried at once and as newcomers, they don't have the necessary skills to pull it off nicely. Furthermore, it gave me the impression that the band is directionless. A good example is actually the first track ''Witch in the Mist'', the first half is pretty good but when there's the softer transitions, it fucked up the rhythm  That's the case for pretty much all the record. Being progressive doesn't mean that you can mash up many different genres together with crazy glue, it's about melting them to form a solid, condensed and listenable mixture that has diverse feelings.

The production is decent while not heavy enough, maybe it's the atmospheric approach but the band is a doom unit nonetheless and I expected harder hitting guitars. A bit like countrymen Solstice who can be epic, doom and atmospheric with ease. It fits the softer side of the band better than their heavier since I'm not a fan of the electric guitars tone. The title track is quite fast and almost remind me of the first two The Sword albums with its stoner vibe. That's of course before the clean break towards the middle. Believe me, I like clean and soft music breaks when it's done appropriately and not forced unto the listeners like pancakes when you ordered eggs.

Influenced by Opeth and Porcupine Tree, Paul Wale has a nice clean and melodic voice similar to Steven Wilson sometimes. They're not quite powerful but he's also one of the guitarists and it's totally fine for their sound. I always liked the English accent in my doom metal and it's no exception. What doesn't work though are the harsh vocals, they're completely out of place and they seem to be present only to give the band an edgier sound. While not awful, they're not convincing, not well written and useless. They're not even often present in the songs but they're an unnecessary flaw. Hopefully they'll be gone from their future releases.

Psychedelic, stoner, epic doom, progressive or acoustic, The Albion Codex managed to mix interesting genres together but they lack the conviction and skills to make it truly enjoyable. Instead you get a forty five minutes album that drags too much. The band still has some cool riffs and they're talented, I think there's a certain lack of leads though. I thoroughly enjoyed the six minutes ballad ''Swordwielder'' because it was entirely soft and has this fun fantasy medieval feel. The band is good at both doom and atmospheric prog but when it's mixed in the same song, it's like eating chocolate bacon

Despite some flaws, I'll await a sophomore since the goods were delivered and it's a mix of genres I like. I hope they'll have a more condensed and established personality. I suggest to the fans of the aforementioned bands to check them out, it might calm your hunger for progressive whatever doom metal for two or three weeks. Summon the Ancient has a superb cover and it's showing a band that has a lot of potential, only the future will tell us if they can make a name for themselves.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Blackholicus - Megaforte (2009) | 90%

I only dream in black and white

Coming from Texas, this band is truly fucking underrated and definitely deserve more recognition. Their two albums are pretty damn good but I decided to review the second one since I think it's a better example of their genre. They sound like a female fronted Slough Feg, that's obviously a simple description to make some people interested but they're so much more than that.

Metal is often accused of not being artistic enough, instead it's primitive and for the working class, etc.. Sometimes being raw or amateurish as hell is truly acceptable as it's a genre that comes from the heart. Blackholicus, on the other hand, can definitely combine passion for heavy things with a classical and almost baroque approach. The band plays something quite unique that I never heard anywhere else, they have this tasty instrumental side to heavy metal (1/3rd of the album is instrumental, 6 tracks on 11 on a 35 minutes album, whaaa, I hate mathematics!). And it's neither post metal or any trendy stuff like that, it stays what it is and it's working wonderfully through their awesome songwriting.

The band is proving once again that women in metal shouldn't be a big deal and that their input is important both because of its pertinence but its social connotation. Indeed, Margaret Myrick is extremely talented, her bass playing is excellent and her voice, not cute like the mundane divas of symphonic power balling, is instinctive, honest and fits the music. Nevertheless, it's treated as a true instrument here and it's rarely the focus of the music. She also sounds like Laura Pleasants of Kylesa a little and that's a plus in my book ! 

The leads are very Mike Scalzi esque and the intricate guitars serves as the main ingredient in their recipe. The music is very fast, it has speed, heavy metal and even thrash metal components, it has this old school feel similar to Iron Maiden's instrumental tracks like Losfer Words from Powerslave. It's loud, uncompromising and hits you in the face with its original and experimental approach that is subtle but very obvious after many spins. The structures of the songs are complex and while never bordering the progressive territories, it has some avant garde tendencies, not quite in the sound but in the intent. The song ''Victory I'' is 5 minutes of hard hitting instrumental heavy metal and it's one of the best tracks on Megaforte. Blackholicus also has this classical side that in my opinion could be expanded, there's some parts here and there such as the 45 seconds conclusion ''Charm'' that are wonderful and soothing and has acoustic guitars.  It's an interesting counterbalance to their fast and rocking side. Loud bass, shredding leads, fast drums are all coming together to create very powerful and witty atmospheres.

The production is pretty interesting for their sound, the guitars are screechy and high, the vocals are buried but not too much and the intonation is enjoyable. The only modern thing to be found here is the aim of changing the conventions and making something different with an old school heavy metal basis. Outstanding stuff and well worth a look if you're into traditional metal and think the genre is a bit uninspired these days. Both of their albums are decorated with superb and dreamy black and white art to make the experience complete.

Weird without being obnoxious, inventive without being derivative, Blackholicus is expecting you.

Blackholicus on Facebook

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Trouble - The Distortion Field (2013) | 74%

Slaughter in the Vatican


After Saint Vitus' return last year with the underwhelming Lillie : F-65, another American doom legend has been resurrected. Their revival is also a successful one and after a six years pause since the mediocre Simple Mind Condition and the departure of Eric Wagner (who formed his own Trouble cover band, The Skull). The Distortion Field is the first album with Kyle Thomas formerly in cult thrash/groove progenitors Exhorder. In an unfair world where the new Black Sabbath is number one in the charts, quality doom metal is still alive and this album is indeed the proof.

Trouble has always been pushing the boundaries of doom and changing their sound often such as the excellent Plastic Green Head with its psychedelic influences. The new album feels like a fresh start with nods to their entire career. From a stoner, bluesy feel to their slower traditional doom original sound, there's almost everything for everyone on this album. Thomas is bringing his NOLA roots to the sound and if you like Southern metal/rock, there's a sweet little overtone to be found here especially in his vocals. Let me tell you that I'm not missing Wagner. His voice is powerful and don't be afraid he doesn't sound like a thrash singer most of the time. He kind of does in ''Hunters of Doom'' but it's still pretty enjoyable. The lyrics, more social, sentimental than their usual Christian or psychedelic themes are good, albeit a little too mundane for me. They do evoke the necessary despair for a doom record! I guess they don't really care about that stuff anymore or maybe they really wanted Thomas to sing for the band and based on some of his other bands, not sure he'll praise Jesus!

I'm not the biggest fan of groove and I can't say it would had been my approach of choice for the album but for what it is, it truly works. There's enough heavy riffs to satisfy the purest doomsters though. Such as the excellent last track ''Your Reflection'' with its awesome solos. Nevertheless, they tried to everything on this album, while it's quite diverse, it's also too long with its 13 songs for one hour of music. I had the same criticism for the latest Alice in Chains, while everything is good on both records, their musical genre doesn't need albums that long, a forty five or fifty minutes of material is more than enough. My comparison to the famous Seattle band is not random, I hear some grunge influences here and there such as ''Have I told You'', a very smooth personal song. The album, like most of their releases, have fast paced to mid paced numbers and it flows very well. It's definitely hard to swallow at once because of its length.

A good return for sure, be prepared for a different approach though. It does sound like Trouble since both original guitarists are still in the band but there's a bit more stoner, southern and groovy. It's not a great album but it's nowhere near bad, it has good riffs but some weaker unnecessary songs, I like long records but I prefer when there's longer atmospheric tracks than a bunch of shorter ones and I like the subdued side of the album like on ''The Greying Chill Of Autumn", my favorite track on this release.

Nonetheless, check out The Distortion Field, it proves that the band still has what it needs to write good doom metal in 2013. It's not breaking any new grounds, but it's honest and will kick your ass.

Oh by the way, this cover art is terrible!

Trouble on Facebook

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Reverend Bizarre - III: So Long Suckers (2007) | 100%

The hymen of my sanity is broken

You were probably expecting this if you knew me, I had to write a review for this band, it was destiny and it was written under the pussy in the sky. I always liked adventures and epic tales and ''So Long Suckers'' is definitely a legendary achievement both in form and content. Encompassing the wackiness of leader Albert Witchfinder in a mere two hours physical entity, the album is a voyage, pack your things and join the fellowship of the Reverend till we reach the apex of the monument. Closing the coffin lid of one of the most seminal modern doom bands, this double album served as a catalyst for my appreciation of this metal genre. The hyperbolic nature of the album can of course be a repellent for the easily bored listeners but I couldn't see a better testament to the spirit of the reverend.

Dark and self loathing, it's pushing the doors of perception of traditional doom metal to their utter limits. No one ever came close to the intent of So Long Suckers, they always were one step ahead of their contemporaries in both intent, songwriting and musicality. While their pristine debut is perhaps their best legacy, their third and final album really touched my heart and my spirit. Witchfinder with all his mental issues found the way to move my apprehensions towards a world without known limits, an heaven of deep lust, metallic might and Styx labyrinths of melting entrancing lava.

During this two hours trip to the funeral house of the devil, you're served with eight tracks divided unto two discs, literally breaking the chains of decent song editing but I wouldn't remove one second. Fuck ''less is more'', I want my dream city with extravagant architecture, lush parks of singing birds, life embodied with passion and dedication. It's a test of endurance, to choose the worthy to sacrifice at their altar. Despite its length, the album is varied, from mid paced groovy riffs to slow mournful like in the excellent track ''Sorrow'', the darkest track on the release. There's even some surprising experimentation like the almost kraut rock influenced ending of ''Caesar Forever'' to the romantic soft part of ''Anywhere Out of This World''. The band always found ways to move me near the abyss or in the arms of a deceptive yet charming angel.

With his bludgeoning bass playing, Witchfinder leads the charge against the kingdom of good taste. His down tuned playing is crushing everything on the instrumental track ''Kundalini Arisen'' which has this lovely stoner vibe. A master worshiper of Geezer distorting his will to make us cream, the bass is fucking loud and in your face. It can also be subtle such as in the four minutes introduction to ''Anywhere...''. Witchfinder (Sami Hynninen) is undeniably the leader, the man with the hood and the ceremonial moving his arm forward his victim. As loud as he is, his exalted playing is often burying Peter Vicar (Kimi Kärki)'s playing and it's a bit of a shame since he's a very talented composer who didn't have a lot of space to grow in the Rev proven by his excellent projects. The only track he penned on this release is exceptional, it's the aforementioned ''Caesar Forever'' and you can definitely hear the progressive tendencies he'll show in Orne. Deep down, this was Hynninen's project and it's the termination of his love for traditional doom as his new oeuvres are quite different and I might say underwhelming. Opium Warlords or The Puritan are much more experimental and avant garde in nature and are showcasing the deep madness and multiple talent of this genius of a man. Furthermore, his raw black metal are demonstrating his darker side and not much more, I'm afraid.

He is, as the identity of the band, uncompromising. It's unbelievable what they managed to achieve during their career, they took a admittedly stale genre and made it contemporary without making it modernly disgusting. They never changed the laws but pushed them forwards, an aggressive expansion into magical realms. Akin to a dark sorceress, the album still works its magic every time I listen to it. I still apprehend the epic parts that make me reach doom climax like I was a five years old waiting for his dad to bring him to the hockey game. They started with all the necessary skills like Teemu Selanne's 76 goals debut season and finished  by winning the Stanley Cup as Jari Kurri alongside Gretzky. The grand finale has thirty minutes songs, mighty as fuck and nailing your head to the table, your scalp is bleeding, you're disgusting. While there's obviously a lot of repetition, the riffs are great, the songs almost have a drone approach intertwined with traditional doom. I mean, not a lot of people complain that ambient or drone bands are too repetitive, it's part of their identity, that's kind of the same thing for me here. It's extremely flamboyant and doesn't give a fuck about your precious genre conventions, they want a twenty-five minutes song ? Here you go ! Liberating riffs from their shells is the mission, they created something different while staying true to themselves and to their ancestors

''Once, in a dream, I have been here, but now, when with you, I have no fear''

There's probably more lyrics in a Cradle of Filth song than during the whole two hours album but eh, it's restrained and poetic in a subtle way. Talking about his personal experiences in a mesmerizing way, Albert writes about relationships with a woman who ended badly on ''Teutonic Witch'' and it's full of oppressive magical analogies. He has this power to make everything he says so mystical, nourished by death and love. We're presented with these ethereal landscapes full of devotion, full of affection towards the crafting of doom arts. It's breaking the hymen of my sanity and it's playing games with my blood pumping organ. By divine will, I will become your disciple.

And man, Hynninen is probably my favorite clean singer ever, he's so versatile and powerful and unique in the scene. His baritone vocals can even recall the late Peter Steele, combined with his operatic feel, he's the guy to beat in trad doom, so many emotions. There's no need for mindless harsh vocals, it got this true metal purity established and it's more profound than the well where your crazy aunt dropped her dead baby.

Decidedly audacious, life is about taking risks but also knowing when to quit. The trio achieved both of these things here. They apparently had three albums ready but they decided to release a final double album, I heard it was because of Hynninen's psychological issues and that's definitely a good reason, not sure it was any good for him since I heard his newer stuff and that's fucking insane but eh ? In a way, I'm sad this was their last album but it spawned so many good things such as the superb Orne albums and it's the perfect conclusion to their full length trilogy.  The music is thoroughly excellent, it's groovy, dark, romantic and the total opposite of shallowness, no doom is that true and you can try but you'll utterly fail at accomplishing what they did here, Esoteric only wish they were that dark and sinister.

Breaking your skull in pieces never felt so good, heavy guitar riffs rusty like axes left to rot in the snow of Lohja, heavy martial beats that makes you shiver, bass as loud as the the thunder god himself, I'm not worthy of such kindness, make it stop. Three sorcerers blending hope and despair in a bubbling mess of sinful spirits and hallucinogenic drugs. You had to die, for your own sake and ours, to create a work loved, a work hated.

''Death is all that I see when I observe the world we have built, and Death is the majesty we all have to face.''

More is less.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bomg - Polynseeds (2013) | 43%


I'm getting quite difficult for doom metal these days, it's pretty damn hard to really succeed at this genre as it doesn't really rely on technical abilities and it's pretty much all about atmosphere especially for doom/stoner. Bomg from Russia plays this genre and unfortunately, they fail at it.

It's pretty drawn out doom/stoner metal with some psychedelic influences. The sound of the album is not that much problematic, it's rather the execution. After a three minutes intro, the album has four massive tracks ranging from twelve to nineteen minutes and fuck, it's just mindlessly too long. Furthermore, the quality of the songwriting is nowhere near the length of the songs, it's boring and mundane. The songs are pretty much what you would expect, not a lot of riffs (not a lot of good ones too), buried vocals which are not quite good and over all, simply generic.

I had huge expectations for the album when I saw the cover art. I knew I had to listen to it and so I contacted the band and asked the band to provide a download. Nevertheless, I couldn't get into their stuff. It's not as adventurous or natural as the art. I was expecting something very atmospheric or even forested, a stoner counterpart to Gods Tower perhaps. But nah, the production is maybe a bit lush but it's not heavy enough, not emotional enough, not distorted or psychedelic enough, It's just...boring. It starts and after more than one hour it's over, I felt nothing but annoyance. There's too much useless feedback, repeated riffs, under-produced vocals completely interred and uninteresting riffs. An atmosphere like that can work in the hands of master musicians like on Electric Wizard's seminal album Dopethrone. Writing interesting fifteen minutes songs is a challenge and while there's some enjoyable parts like on the longest track ''Sannikov Land'' it's obscured by a lot of mundane stuff. It's not bad and if you like the genre you'll probably spend a good time listening to the album, I heard it tree times and it was way too much for me since I grasped everything on there quite quickly since well, there's not much going on.

I'm perhaps too harsh but mediocrity is annoying,  some bands with weak songwriting make up for it by being heavy as fuck and bludgeoning your grandmother with her own skull but it's not the case here. It's not offensively bad, guys it's just mediocre and I was fooled by the pretty wrapping like when I first tried an awful salt and sweet candy. Burdened by long ass tracks, the band has difficulties at establishing a vivid sound of their own, it's middle of the road doom/stoner and it doesn't pass the Tony test. It's their first album so perhaps things can improve and I hope they do.

There's a guitarist, a drummer, a singer and a drummer, I guess. They can play their instruments and seem to have some fun, I simply had none. There's better doom around people. Check Stoned Jesus instead for great Ukrainian doom.

If you want to listen to them anyway

Monday, 15 July 2013

Bonfire Sessions Montréal: Half Moon Run + Young Galaxy & Young Rival

The event:

For something different than what I usually talk about, here's a live review of this awesome free event. I must say it was one of the best musical experience of my life and twinned with a beatiful sunny day, I had a lot of fun. The location was kept secret until our arrival and I was pleasantly surprised that it was in Old Terrebonne, a city on the North Shore of Montréal. The location was on island near the old watermill and it was very dreamy. I was with my friend Pascal (from Tribunal, reviewed here) and considering beer was free, it was orgasmic! The atmosphere was joyful and friendly and everyone (around 700 to 1000 people) were enjoying themselves. It was a park with lots of trees and the stage was very beautiful and cosy. The girls were pretty, the smores were tasty, the grass was green and the shades of the hipsters were reflecting the sun into our minds.

The first band was Young Rival from Hamilton, Ontario and they were pretty cool. They're a trio and play conventionnal indie rock with some surf rock and garage rock influences. They're catchy and the vocals are similar to Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, so lots of reverb. Good songs albeit a bit by the book.

The second band was Young Galaxy from Vancouver (yeah, they're both young bands!) and they were much better than the first one. The female singer with red hair had a really vibrant stage presence while the music was quite good. They're a new wave/electro pop band with lots of post punk and synth pop influences. The keyboardist played 2nd guitar often and they had an excellent bassist. Their atmosphere was fun and I was into their sound, all dressed in white they were classy and 80s as fuck. Cool discovery and they have a lot of albums to check out, their new one Ultramarine is nominated for the 2013 Polaris Prize!

And the band we were all waiting for, the new indie darlings of Montréal Half Moon Run. Formed in the Québec metropolis by Ontarians and British Columbians, this band is one of the most promising indie bands on the planet. With only 1 album under their belts, the young and charismatic guys offered a very great show and they played 3 new songs. Their brand of indie rock with many different influences ranging from dream pop to folk and country to electronica and post rock is very lovely and pleasing. A trio with a session multi instrumentalist dude, they have a real synergy and a lot of energy. Devon Portielje's voice is powerful and full of emotions and his guitar playing is exceptional. Combined with his brother in arms Connor Molander who plays keyboards and guitars and back/co lead vocals, they're in total symbiosis. The third member plays both drums and bass (keys) at the same time! They're very lush and the vocal lines are melodic and recalls Simon & Garfunkel at times.

A great band with an immense future ahead of them, can't wait to hear their new stuff!

Their setlist thanks to my friend Pascal:

Half Moon Run!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Zud – The Good, The bad and the Damned (2013) | 85 %

Sleazy jammy rockish black metal

I was pleasantly surprised when I approved this band on the Archives, they're an original act with a fun name, a distinctive approach and a great aptitude at mixing genres. Way better than the usual groove or deathcore crap we deal with ! They were classified by a long blurb of terms that rarely go well together, something like ''blues rock and roll black metal'', I decided to change it to ''black metal'' but that's almost oversimplifying things. In their words, the band play ''sleazy n' cheesy bluesy rockin' black metal'' and that's totally accurate. There's not a lot of bands that could play a better rendition of this style.

After a pointless intro of 1 minute, the first song starts with a bang. With its twelve minutes, ''Skull Shaped Bell'' is perhaps the best song on the release, encompassing the band's genre very well. The band has this jam vibe that's really really nice obviously influenced by acid and psychedelic rock. We can feel the touch of Roky Erickson, Grateful Dead or even Krautrock in Zud. The four ''real'' songs are all lenghty numbers ranging from eight to twelve minutes and they're all interesting.

When it's more on the metallic spectrum, it reminds me of a black metal Deceased. Especially the vocals of bandleader Justin Curtsinger, the specter of King Fowley is near. It has the influences of the early European black metal scene with nods to Bathory, Mayhem or even Immortal. The production is nice, not too raw and not overproduced. The vocals are rightfully placed and the riffs are natural and warm. You can hear the experience of these guys, they're definitely veterans of the Maine's metal scene and they really knew how to achieve the sound they wanted for this album. The band intertwines their primitive brand of black metal with some very high class clean leads and rock parts. All the solos and leads are quite good, it has this rock sense of melody that will please the fans of a more melodic and less abrasive sort of black metal. It's akin to Darkthrone's punk approach on albums like The Cult is Alive. Even though their transitions from heavy to soft remind me of Opeth, it's very well mixed and enjoyable. Still if you're a black metal cultist, you probably won't like their transgressions into rock territory. 

It's not a fast band even when they're at their heaviest, they're pretty laid back and atmospheric. Not in a ''we love nature soooooo much'' way like state brothers Falls of Rauros or the whole Cascadia movement but in a old school charming way. Comparable to the dark but romantic aura of The Chasm. Evolving from within their influences, Zud is an original band who isn't pushing the boundaries because of a so-called will to transcend musicality. They play their music with an honest blend of Americana, blues, rock and roll and all the good things my dad tried to push on me when I was a kid. Thanks dad.

Good melodies, tasty tremolo riffs, interesting leads and cool understandable harsh vocals bordering on death metal are good aspects of this album. While the songs could necessitate some slimming down and the tempos could be a bit more varied, the band is a band to discover. They're like a rockier slower version of Midnight, fun stuff, really.

Their blog to get their stuff and shit

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Goatess - Goatess (2013) | 85%

The Goatess of Stockholm

The doom metal god Christian Linderson and his co-members formed this project in 2009 and in July 2013, Goatess released their first album. A work that will please most doom fans since it's mixing a lot of different influences. Despite their juvenile name, they truly deliver the goods on their self titled album and are offering one of the finest doom metal album of the year. Svart records knows who to sign and it's another good catch of the Finnish label.

You have no reasons to ignore this album if you're a fan of Chritus' old bands, be it Count Raven, Saint Vitus or his current other current project Lord Vicar (led by Kimi Kärki formerly of Reverend Bizarre). His vocals, a true representative of the classical age of traditional doom metal are as good as ever. His delivery, full of nuances is an underrated jewel of Sweden. Stop praising this old rubbish singer trying to make a buck in Black Sabbath and listen to what's really honest and well done. The songwriting is both rooted in doom and stoner metal. Nodding to trad doom, Sleep and Kyuss, it's nowhere near a safe album as far as doom is concerned, the oriental influences of ''Tentacles of Zen'' were very fun to hear and I almost wish they were more present throughout the album. They reminded me of Kingston Wall, this amazing now defunct progressive/psychedelic rock band from Finland.

The quartet lineup really works here, one fuzzy guitar is enough to keep me interested. It's also quite influenced by the psychedelic rock/metal movement that has invaded doom this past decade with bands like Naam, Blood Ceremony or Om embracing the LSD ridden rock of their ancestors. The songs are all pretty long, the album is culminating with two long ass ten to twelve minutes tracks and that's totally fine with me since it's a band who knows how to put atmosphere first. The album is a bit too lengthy though with almost seventy minutes of material but that's a mild criticism since everything is quite strong on it. It perhaps need some tightening at some places but it's a very soothing doom album to listen to. I prefer that over the not even thirty five minutes last Vitus album, I had to listen to So Long Suckers after this one because I was still hungry.

The bass is loud and in your face and it's appreciated, doom needs to be bassy and loud as fuck. The drums stay simple as they should be, why should they be complicated when they can be slow and feelsy like that ? The riffs are catchy when they're on more mid paced tracks like the excellent opener ''Know Your Animal'' and emotional for the lengthier songs. Contemplative while not losing their pertinence, they have this old school vibe that I love. Still, the highlight of this album is the vocals, they were personally the reason I decided to check the band and I don't regret it. Chritus' vocals are restrained and are giving the music the occasion to grow. They can be powerful when it needs to be but it rarely needs to since this album keeps this relaxing attitude

A very good doom album with nice stoner elements is what we have here. If you like your doom slow, rich and soothing, check out Goatess and kiss their ring. Their brand of baby demon music is interesting although grounded in the past.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Tribunal - Green/A\thouille (2013) | 75%

Guilty for being fucking weird

Their bandcamp is decorated with a whale in a boat wearing a multicolored cap and holding a baseball bat and a megaphone, a ombie puking and a rainbow saying ''pop métal'' .

While I'm not a fan of brutal death metal, I reckon that the genre successfully pushed the boundaries of extremity and that it has its appeal. Montreal's band Tribunal really likes to push the limits of good taste but they're doing it with originality and they're really fucking weird.

After a tongue in cheek introduction where the band members talk about their own project. The one minute and a half song is garnished by vulgar, obnoxious comments and a reggaeton/pop song playing in the background. I didn't really knew what to expect after this, I was awaiting really awful pornogrind but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked their sound. Maybe it's something in our beer but the grind and brutal death scene here is pretty strong. The band will play with Mesrine in July and I'm guessing it's gonna be insane.

Musically, the band play a form of death metal/grindcore with some hints of brutal death, deathcore and more extreme forms of grindcore. It's of course decorated by some experimentation such as the ''what the fuck is that ?'' moment on ''Suck la marde pour une tuerie'' (Suck the shit for a slaughter), it's a funk/ska/hip hop break with clean almost rapped vocals. It's eccentric and definitely not for everyone. The music is not so fast, there's lots of slower breaks reminding me of a band like Cattle Decapitation. Their lyrical themes are nowhere near the vegan or anti human themes of CD though. They're all sung in French and it's pretty fucking absurd, as weirdly written as local comic heroes Les Denis Drolets, they sing about dragons, ass cracks or whatever subject they found in their basement while drinking Colt 45 and watching hardcore Japanese uncensored porn. At least, they made me smile and that's something I can't say about all these goregrind bands talking of dismembering women and eating their livers. I suppose you can Google translate the lyrics and laugh with me (and them). They're an important part of the band's identity, irrevent and giving no fucks about anything else than pushing their complete madness down your throat, self-mockery is their friend. 

Even though the lyrics are pretty bad in a humorous way, the music is quite catchy. The singer, Laurent Bellemare is very competent (he joined up and comers death metallers Chthe'ilist as a live vocalist this year and he's in Impalement). The diversity of his growls is enjoyable, deep vocals that are quite understandable if you force your ears. The aforementioned clean spoken vocals are mostly done randomly by the other members.The instrumentation is quite fun, cool drums that are not your constant blastbeat engine, some cool bass licks and a well produced double guitar attack. While there's breakdowns, it's not in a jumpdafuk matter and it remains rooted in metal and not your usual core kiddie stuff. They can definitely build  nice songs and have the necessary talent to make them interesting. They could be even better if they want to, they have a shitload of potential, they probably should tighten their sound a little without changing their sound and themes too much.

Their image is fucked up, the album art is...I have no idea but their logo is quite awesome ! Weird as a Japanese band, Tribunal will be judged for what they are, a fun experimental death metal band singing about weird retarded stuff for their own amusement. Check it out if you're not yourself too seriously.

Check out their 2 other singles released in 2012, ''Fleur Bleue'' and ''À la prochaine fois'', both very good tracks at well and perhaps not as fucked up.

Tribunal's Facebook

New Keepers of the Water Towers - Cosmic Child (2013) | 74%

New Worshipers of the Crack in the Sky

Ok yeah, their name is a mouthful but their music is at least interesting. The Swedish horde is back with their second full length and it's with this one I discovered them. They took a different direction than their debut album released two years ago. Indeed,  The Calydonian Hunt was much heavier and similar to early Mastodon or Baroness. Let's see if the transition is a successful one.

NKotWT (sorry for the acronym) has a very atmospheric touch to their music with two twelve minutes track demonstrating a proggy songwriting. Both prog giants Mastodon and fellow Ikea furniture builders Opeth are massive influences on this album and while I'm a fan of both, it was a bit too obvious for my taste. This has a similar spacey vibe to Crack the Skye with superior vocals (fuck off Brent Hinds, you bum). Mixing progressive metal/rock with hints of post metal with the corpse of their doom/stoner sound, it's a bit hit and miss. The epic track ''Pyre for the Red Sage'' is a good combination of laid back clean vocals, good heavy riffs and powerful leads.  The instrumentation is very restraint, full of nuances and it has some acoustic guitars sometimes like on the short track ''Cosmosis'' reminding me of In Abstentia's era Porcupine Tree or even Anathema.

Trading heaviness for progressiveness is a difficult endeavor, while it's definitely not a failure here, it falls a bit short. The first two tracks (six and nine minutes) are pretty good but the longer songs are not as interesting even if has some of the best moments of the album, they're just too long for their own sake. Yeah, there's some fillers on the album and I don't think the atmospheric parts are quite original, Mikael Akerfeldt wrote very similar and better ones throughout his career. The first five minutes of ''Lapse'' are pretty boring but when the bass starts his thing and the song is becoming metal, it's much better. The two epic tracks follows the same formula, a long spacey non-metal intro followed by a crescendo into heavyness and then some cool leads, it gets a bit boring and predictable. I was impatiently waiting for the tasty moments to happen... I do prefer their soft acoustic side over the spacey one though, the conclusion of the album, a three minutes acoustic instrumental is very enjoyable. The opening of ''Visions of Death'' has very folky guitars garnished by buried Opethian whispered vocals akin to the calmer moments of the Ghost Reveries album. Mixing the modern prog metal of Mastodon with softer folky moments works well for this track but it's not always the case for NKofWT.

The imagery and lyrical side of the band is quite cool, it fits the space approach of the band. It's an intelligent band with a lot to say, they perhaps wear their influences on their sleeves but I'm sure they can improve and create some of their own. If you feel like listening to a decent slab of proggy doom, check them out but if you're not a fan of the genre, look elsewhere.

NKotGT's Facebook