Here at Don't Count On It Reviews, you can read reviews from different artists from different styles.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Frostmoon Eclipse - The End Stands Silent (2011)

Band: Frostmoon Eclipse
Country: Ligury, Italy
Style: Melodic Black Metal
Label: Osmose Productions

Frostmoon Eclipse is a band that have done quite a bit of exploration within almost twenty year existence. It's hard to believe that despite their consistent output, they still remain pretty unknown to a lot of black metal fans, or even metal fans. This, their fifth full-length, is easily their most progressive yet, moving the band into an even more unique direction.
Any band that is able to start out being traditional black metal and then start to integrate more and more melody into their albums is most likely one that purists will detest, depending on how it's done. When it comes to these guys, the pinnacle of their experimentation with melodic and folk music came in 2005's "Dead and Forever Gone" record, an album that was entirely acoustic and cleanly sung. From what I've read from fans regarding that album is that despite it's more mellow approach, it was crafted well and retains the dark atmosphere from the band's other material. Since that album, the band has begun taking their hard rock influenced black metal sound into a bit more progressive directions. There's plenty of dynamics used on here, with opener Heaven Outside Hell Within switching between heavy and aggressive moments and softer, acoustic laden passages throughout the track. There is also a good use of variation in terms of speed on here, not every track is blasting all the time and then goes into a mellow section, there are songs that are more mid-paced, Corridors.
The riffs on this album are certainly what makes the album interesting, as both the acoustic guitar moments and the electric make use of solid, catchy melodies. Under Pale City Lights has one riff in it particularly which really stood out to me, it's not an original sounding riff, but it's just so memorable and straightforward one that it was impossible for me to ignore; but that's just one track, pretty much every track has at least one memorable riff in it. The album closer, The End of Everything, also adds something a little more epic to it's sound, making it's ten-plus minutes just fly by. The bass on here is also well done, coming out in a track like A Clandestine Freedom Between Shadows and just adding something a little different to the album.
Overall, this is a really cool release that only gets better with each listen. Songs many appear to be a little boring at first, but after a few listens, they'll get stuck in your head. Definitely check this out if you want some good melodic black metal.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: I Am The Absence, Unnatural Isolation, The End of Everything

Shroud of Despondency - Dark Meditations In Monastic Seclusion (2011)

Band: Shroud of Despondency
Country: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Style: Progressive/Melodic Black Metal
Label: Independent

It was only after reading some reviews for this album did I finally decide to check it out, as what I've read has been pretty favorable. Apparently starting out as a one-man band, and then after moving from Minnesota to Wisconsin getting a full line-up. I guess that move can actually attest to waiting close to six years for this album.
I think one of the most accurate statements I had read about this album was that it actually flowed like an album, not a collection of songs. It manages to go through sections where more folk-tinged acoustic parts are used, and then use more brutal black metal riffing at another. There's a solid balance of aggression and precision on here, knowing when to burst out and attack and when to pull back and relent. During those more calm moments on here, the band channel an almost neo-folk sort of vibe as well, hear the instrumental Flicker of The Ardent Light. There's also a good amount of shredding on here as well, but it should be to the point where black metal fans are getting their feather's ruffled about because of it. But I have to say that the biggest pitfall on here are the vocals, which just didn't fit with the music, they were clean, sort of reminiscent of A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial, but not as psychotic.
The album has a bit more dust to the production than I thought it would, it's a little more raw. What you'll find on here is not modern black metal with high-quality production and shine, this is still pretty dirty compared to what groups like Dimmu Borgir are doing. This sort of production works in the band's favor, while I'll admit that it's a bit rough during the opening tracks, it gets easier to get through, hear Sullen Murmur, Oppressive Stillness for a good example of some of the better sounding parts on the album. In all honesty, some tracks, Sybil being the one that stood out here, could have been taken out, though an interlude is fine, I don't think that that specific track needed to go on for five minutes.
Overall, I found most of this album to be really enjoyable, with some really impressive playing on it. Though it still has it's flaws, it's still very well done and it does have the flow of an album. If you like good musicianship within your black metal, that ventures into some more folky areas as well, check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Parting of The Way, Sullen Murmur, Oppressive Stillness, To Glisten In All The Colors of Distress

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa (2011)

Band: Moonsorrow
Country: Helsinki, Finland
Style: Progressive Black/Folk Metal
Label: Spinefarm Records

It's been a while since these Finnish prog-metallers put out something new, especially a full-length. Though their last release, 2008's "Tulimyrsky" was over an hour long, it's still considered an EP due to it really only having one new song. This new album has already been receiving massive amounts of praise, and though I'm not the biggest fan of the band, I think it only reinforces the incentive to check it out.
Not that anyone who's listened to any of the band's previous albums should be surprised, but most of the meat of this album are four tracks that all top ten minutes. The signature sound is present with the blending of black metal, folk music, and progressive rock all falling into place. Melodic riffs, epic song structures, powerful vocals, and well crafted song-writing have set this band apart from their piers, and continues to do so on here as well. All of these are trademarks of the band, so long-time fans shouldn't be surprised by these facts either, but the songwriting is what sticks out on here more so than on past releases. Another point I don't think I should have to make is the complex amount of instrumentation on these songs, ranging from electric and acoustic guitars to mouth harps and whistles, all used to great effect throughout the disc.
These songs, despite their length, are really well crafted and contain really great hooks that should stick in your head easily. I found it easier to get into these songs, and keep up with everything, rather than the two twenty-plus minute tracks on "V: Hävitetty." There's something that's striking about each track on here, the more brutal attack of opener Tähdetön, the epic nature of Muinaiset, the more melancholic melodies on Huuto, or the progressive movements of closer Kuolleiden Maa, something sticks out about each one, but I'm sure others would find their own identifiable trait within each track as well. While the tracks themselves are entertaining, I feel like the three interludes provide a short breather in between the epics enough to kind of allow the listener to catch their breath before the next track begins.
Overall, I can't deny the greatness of this album, it's certainly become my favorite of the band's work, and from what I've read, it has for others as well. I'm sure in due time, people will eventually criticize this album for being as great it is, but those that really listen will always know why this one stands out. If you enjoy progressive, folk, or black metal, this album is a must if you haven't heard it already.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Muinaiset, Huuto, Kuolleiden Maa

Mercenary - Metamorphosis (2011)

Band: Mercenary
Country: Ålborg, Denmark
Style: Melodic Death Metal/Power Metal
Label: NoiseArt Records

Mercenary, a band that has been ignored in my eyes for far too long. I first heard of these guys through their 2006 masterpiece "The Hours That Remain," an album that is still my favorite. But back in 2009, the band went through a major line-up shift, where drummer Mike Park Nielsen, keyboardist Morten Sandager, and lead/clean vocalist Mikkel Sandager all left the band, reducing the band now to a four piece.
While I originally found the band when I was going through a big melodic death metal phase, these guys struck the right chord with me, mixing melodic death metal, power metal, and a bit of progressive metal all into a very unique sound. Even though I found them great, I soon realized that they didn't really get the press they really needed to come overseas it seemed like with every album they made, they kept improving and getting even more unique, writing better songs, sounding better as a whole. Although the loss of a drummer and keyboardist ultimately doesn't impact the band's sound, the loss of a vocalist does, and to me that's the biggest difference between the band's last four albums and this new one. While bassist/vocalist René Pedersen is certainly well versed in both screaming and singing, opener Through The Eyes of The Dead certainly proves to recall the band's sound from previous albums, his voice just doesn't reach that certain peak that Sandager's could. Instrumentally, the band is at the top of their game though, so there's really no complaint on my part when it comes to that.
I'll come out and say that the band's last two outings, 2006's "The Hours That Remain" and it's follow-up 2008's "Architect of Lies," were great albums all the way through that managed to be engaging, catchy, and fluid sounding, in my eyes they were some of the best melo-death albums to be released in recent years, this album does not follow that trend unfortunately. While some tracks, Memoria or Shades of Gray, definitely have great hooks and musicianship, other tracks just don't stick as easy, In A River of Madness. In my opinion, and I know a lot of people will disagree, but I don't think the songwriting is on par with previous albums.
Overall, this is a decent album with some strong playing but lackluster songwriting. For me, this doesn't top the last two albums and just falls short. If you're a fan of the band you're probably curious to hear this if you haven't already, but be prepared that you might be disappointed.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Through The Eyes of The Dead, Memoria, The Black Brigade

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Eternal - Under A New Sun (2011)

Band: The Eternal
Country: Melbourne, Australia
Style: Doom Metal/Progressive Rock
Label: Firebox Records

Another first for me, I've never heard The Eternal before now, so here's a fresh perspective. Honestly it was the cover, big surprise, that attracted me to checking this out. Hearing that this was apparently a doom/gothic band that started to go Anathema and take a shift in the prog direction also interested me after reading a bit on the band though.
From the opening of Control, I got something that I did not expect, while I enjoy the atmospheric prog metal of groups like Porcupine Tree, Katatonia, or Anathema, what's on here is a prog of a very different variety. Instead of having a large atmospheric focus, you get songs that retain the heaviness of doom metal with a more 70's sort approach on songwriting. Even that metal element is used within the more 70's style as well, so it's not as crushing as it is just distorted, recalling a bit of Led Zeppelin at times. It's a very different sound than what I expected it to be, it definitely shows a similar evolutionary trend to Ananthema.
Like I said, I haven't heard the band's previous albums so I can't really compare this new one to their past work, but this is an album that definitely tries to lay on that 70's aesthetic. Most songs don't exactly tread the path of doom metal, often containing more of a psydo-hard rock/psyche rock vibe. This album also contains a very melodic sound, both musically and vocally, you won't be hearing any growling, if at this point you still thought they would, delivering some solid catchy choruses, hear the title-track, Under A New Sun. At times it's more appropriate to call these guys prog/psyche rock rather than metal, hear tracks like Eclipse or Despondency.
Overall, this is a really solid album that should definitely appeal to those of you that enjoy more psychedelic sounding rock music. This album has a lot of hooks and should definitely appeal to a lot of people. Whether you like 70's hard rock music or groups like the ones listed above, I'd recommend you checking this out.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Delirium & Desire, Eclipse, Collapse

Windmills By The Ocean - Windmills By The Ocean II (2011)

Band: Windmills By The Ocean
Country: Boston, Massachusetts
Style: Atmospheric Sludge Metal/Post-Rock
Label: Robotic Empire Records

My it's been a long time since I've heard this band, it was probably no more than about two or so years back when I first discovered Isis and my love for post-metal began that I discovered this group. Whether or not it was really a side project when I discovered it or not, it did feature Bryant Clifford Meyer of Isis and that was more than enough to spark my interest in this project. Up till now their sole release was the self-titled debut back in 2006.
Opening with a shocking shriek of feedback, I somehow guessed that this was not the same post-metal group that I remember listening to some years ago. Once the feedback fades away, an odd mix of distorted guitars, organ, and harmonized clean vocals hit you, which was another surprise as I was under the impression that this was going to be instrumental, like their debut. Instead what I found was an album that was not heavy, in the sludge sense, but more melodic and textural than anything.
Throughout this debut, I was surprised by the shoegaze influence, or sound, that persisted throughout. The wall of sound, despite being distorted, is nowhere near as crushing or monotonous as their debut; and constantly changing atmospheres and textures also add to a more atmospheric sort of sound. The clean vocals, whether harmonized or straightly by Brooke Hamre Gillespie also reinforce that idea of a shoegaze influence on this record. There's also a bit of electronics on the track Star as well, which, while are not bad, just seemed strange to me. Whether it's the acoustic interlude track, The Circul, or the epic album closer, Occul, there's just something about this record that makes it stand out to me more than some other releases I've heard this year. It's melodic, but very experimental, melancholic, but full of life, this is an album that I certainly did not expect from this band.
Overall, I really enjoyed this record, it's unlike any other record I've heard this year, and in a few years actually. While this release certainly keeps a post-rock interior, the exterior has been spiced up with so many new sounds it's hard to believe this is the same band that released an instrumental sludge album five years ago. I don't imagine a lot of Isis fans would probably get into this, but if you want something different, definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Azure, Occul

Friday, February 25, 2011

Radiohead - The King of Limbs (2011)

Band: Radiohead
Country: Abingdon, England
Style: Alternative/Art Rock
Label: Independent

Yes, even I am not one to pass up or ignore the greatness of Radiohead, I am a fan. While I can say it's only been within the last year or so that I've truly been able to finally appreciate what it is that makes these guys so special, I can't say that I am their biggest fan. But when I heard these guys were releasing a new album, I can't say that I wasn't a little excited to hear it.
From what I've heard about this album before listening to it, I have to say that it wasn't the most positive. It seems that this new album does not manage to compare to the band's previous work and I've not seen a single review that gave this album a more than average score. Apparently the four year gap between this and 2007's "In Rainbows" and the short length of this album just didn't please a lot of fans. Sonically, I've heard it being compared to albums like "Kid A" or "OK Computer," my personal favorite album from the band, and while I can see where they're coming from, this album is still very different from those. While there are plenty of electronic loops and samples being used throughout the entire record, the entire thing just doesn't hold the same sort of bleakness or stark feeling that those earlier records did.
Apparently this record is supposed to be less transparent or abnormal compared to their previous more alien records that put the band on a map of their own, this album brings them closer to a sound that is more normal, in a sense. Having said that, while I don't find this album as unique, genre-defying, or catchy as the stuff I found on records like "OK Computer," I did still find the vocal melody in Morning Mr. Magpie or the somber nature of Codex memorable none-the-less. I've heard comparisons to the likes of Flying Lotus and I can certainly say that that is a reasonable link to be made, a track like Feral definitely reminded me of something I would have heard from his last album.
Overall, I'd actually say that I enjoyed this album quite a bit, it is certainly different, but that's why I like Radiohead. I'll reiterate by saying this isn't one of my favorite records from the band, that honor belongs to the aforementioned "OK Computer" and "Hail to The Thief." But if you like experimental rock music that explores the realms of electronic music, you should have already heard of these guys anyway, but check em' out if you haven't already.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Bloom, Lotus Flower, Separator

Long Distance Calling - Long Distance Calling (2011)

Band: Long Distance Calling
Country: Münster, Germany
Style: Post-Rock/Progressive Rock
Label: Superball Music

I'll start this off by saying that this is my first listening experience with Long Distance Calling, so excuse anything long time fans may find rudimentary. Even though I was made aware of the band with their last album, 2009's "Avoid The Light," I never actually checked it out. While curiosity did get the better of me, as I'm reviewing their new album, it was actually hearing that Jonas Renske of Katatonia guesting on their last album that made me want to check them out.
It was only after I started looking around a bit that I realized that this was an instrumental group, a fact I didn't actually know when going into this. From the beginning, after I found that fact out, I was expecting something a little more post-rock influenced, maybe some bigger sounding parts, but this album wasn't really comprised of that. What I found instead was an album filled with impressive playing that ranged from the softer and more quiet aspects of post-rock to the heavier and more epic sounding elements of metal. Each instrument on here was also used in more of a proggy way, a lot of fluid bass-lines, atmospheric keys, and guitar riffs straight from the 70s.
I think that when I think about post-rock, memorability isn't something I would say I get from many records, but this album is full of catchy riffs and melodies, hear The Figrin D'an Boogie for example. Tracks are also quite diverse sounding, some are more upbeat and proggy, others a more laid back and soft, both work to the band's advantage in my opinion. Though I personally find the more contemplative aspect to the band to be what grabs me more so than the heavier aspects, the more rock parts are actually the more memorable parts on here; as a matter of fact, the title-track, Arecibo (Long Distance Calling), is probably the heaviest and most straightforward track on the entire album, though Middleville is contains some straightforward elements, it has been widely disliked by fans for the vocals on it, though I didn't really have a problem with them.
Overall, I found this to be a pretty solid album with some great playing on it. Though I admit that I do prefer other records to this one that have come out in this genre, this is still a good listen. If you already like the band or if you like more proggy post-rock, check this out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: The Figrin D'an Boogie, Timebends, Beyond The Void

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ava Inferi - Onyx (2011)

Band: Ava Inferi
Country: Almada, Portugal
Style: Gothic/Doom Metal
Label: Season of Mist

I was initially disappointed with guitarist Rune Eriksen's decision to leave Mayhem in favor of this, his original side-project, but have come to terms with it. While I can't say I was ever the biggest fan of the whole scene these guys are lumped into along with groups like Draconian or Madder Mortem, I certainly appreciate them, and Erikson's involvement. This is not my first album with the band though, as I can remember originally finding out about them though a song on their last album that featured Garm (Ulver) on it.
Now I won't say that Erikson, or Blasphemer as he was known in Mayhem, is one of the best guitarists in the genre, but he certainly has a sound and style that's unique. In the genre of doom, there aren't a lot of bands that really craft solid riffs or explore different territories as Ava Inferi have for one reason or another. Erikson, much like how he managed to make every record he played on while in Mayhem sound different, he does so on here, allowing a wider spectrum of influences to bleed into the doomy sound of the band. On here, besides the gothic tone brought in by vocalist Carmen Susana Simões' operatic tone, I heard elements of stoner rock, prog rock, and a bit of melodic death metal on Majesty.
While being a far cry from what could be looked at as standard for the gothic/doom scene, this album, and band, still have their roots. Tracks like A Portal or By Candlelight & Mirrors definitely have that sound that's a bit more "average" for the style their playing, but still make use of great melodies. But it's tracks like the haunting ((Ghostlights)) that take the cake on here, being extremely mournful yet beautiful at the same time, or the more progressive inclined The Heathen Island that moves enough to interest for it's nine minute length. It works in the band's favor when they do go into a more metal direction, not to say the softer moments on here aren't good, but some of them do drag on a bit long.
Overall, this is a good album, definitely the band's best in my opinion. While I'm still not 100% on the operatic vocal style, that's just something I'm not that into, I have to say this was still an entertaining and enjoyable listen. If you like doom metal with some elements of adventure in it, than I'd suggest you definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: The Living End, ((Ghostlights)), The Heathen Island

Illuminatus - Glasnost (2011)

Band: Illuminatus
Country: Nottingham, UK
Style: Alternative/Post-Metal
Label: Pork Neck Records

I find it odd that a band that's been put into more of a post-metal sub-genre had a cover that made me think metalcore. While musically the two have almost nothing to do with each other, that simple conundrum intrigued me enough to check this out. Another thing that intrigued me, by the way, were the shorter song lengths, so this band is apparently post-metal, with an exterior of metalcore.
Short songs, odd cover art, and songs that feature dynamic structures, choruses, and riffs, this is an album that definitely tries to wear a few hats. Sonically, these songs definitely have the post-metal sound, the vocals have that sort of Isis sound to them, and the music behind them is well layered with clean and heavy guitars. Songs are also fairly mid-paced throughout the entire disc and manage to build epic sounding finales on tracks like Murdocracy and Cave In, but beyond that these guys have a more accessible sound than most bands that come from this genre. In my opinion most post-metal/rock groups write pieces of music rather than songs, in the sense that most of the tracks on groups like Isis or Neurosis albums are long and move into a lot of different directions throughout their course as oppose to short and catchy tracks, this band definitely writes more songs. Even the longer tracks have more of a structured sort of sound, by that I mean that this band makes use of the verse-chorus-verse style of songwriting rather than the long instrumental passages between verses.
Other than the comparisons with their main tag listed above, other genres definitely come through like the Gojira influenced sound on Division, the Klone sounding alternative rock on You'll Never Know What This Means, or the epic Mogwai sounding Clarity. There is certainly a lot more diversity found on here than on a lot of other groups that come from this genre, and for the most part these songs all turn out well. I think that the ability to branch out and more into more groove metal and alternative rock really does put these guys on the fast track towards gaining a big and respected fanbase.
Overall, this album gave me quite a ride and I can say that there wasn't a dull spot along the way, which surprised me. It's a really consistent record where every song feels right and never drones on too long. If you like post-metal with songs that would have choruses that could get stuck in your head, check this out, you'll most likely find it to be a record you otherwise might not have checked out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Reconnect, You'll Never Know What This Means, Clarity

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nekrasov - In Solitude and Darkness, The Final Step Is Taken (2011)

Band: Nekrasov
Country: Melbourne, Australia
Style: Atmospheric Black Metal/Noise
Label: Void Seance

After a pretty solid year of releasing a handful of new releases to the underground, Nekrasov has returned with what I've heard is his only planned release for this year. Blurring the lines between obscurity and total isolationist is what I've seen this project doing with sole member Bob Nekrasov putting out some of the most ear piercing music I've ever heard. Those who've seen my top fifty albums of 2010 might remember that his album "Cognition of Splendid Oblivion" even made it on due to how additively brutal it was.
First off, I'd like to say that I consider myself lucky to have gotten one of the 40 copies of this album that were made. But musically, this is a single, hour and eight minutes long track of blistering blackened noise. Nekrasov's music has often been described as void metal or abyssal noise, and I think that describes the sound of this album perfectly, it's brutal, uncaring, and indifferent to everything else out there. I remember playing this album while my mother was home and having her describe it as the sound of someone putting a microphone into the propeller of an airplane and recording it, which is a fairly acute first impression, as this album is the sound of the spiralling of void.
But behind all that hatred and noise lies a much more ambient and quiet sense of melancholy. Throughout the whole track, while noise dominated the foreground, a dark ambient mood persisted in the background. It was this quiet background that pulled me in and allowed me to open myself up to be entranced by this album. Around the half-way mark of this album, I found myself starting to pick up melodies or riffs, whether they're actually there or not remains to be seen, and they were actually pretty memorable, nothing super technical, but pretty straightforward melodies. Another tag that's often been associated with Nekrasov's sound is that of industrial black metal, which I can see how it comes into people's heads when listening to his older work, but on here, rarely appearing until the closing minutes of the album.
Overall, this is one hell of an album, it's unrelenting in how it just dominates over a listener and refuses to let them breathe. This is non-metal music done with a metal mentality, so I don't think a lot of mainstream metal fans will be getting into this. But if you like your music as unapologetic and aggressive while being experimental as well, this is an album I'd suggest you try and get while you still can.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: There's Only One Track

De Magia Veterum - The Divine Antithesis (2011)

Band: De Magia Veterum
Country: Drachten, Netherlands
Style: Avant-Garde/Post-Black Metal
Label: Transcendental Creations

For those unaware of the stir in the underground that's been cause over the past few years by solo musician Mories' illustrious project Gnaw Their Tongues, this album will probably shock you. Due to the sheer amount of publicity that I've seen GTT getting from magazines like Decibel or Terrorizer, his output under that moniker has steadily become more and more recognized. While I don't think it would be an understatement to say that GTT is Mories' main project, he has also made room for his blackened noise project Aderlating as well as this one.
I don't think it would be an understatement to say that while DMV is a project who's output is not as vast as Aderlating or GTT, I think it is a bit more consistent. The time between releases is more steady, with one, maybe two at most, releases coming out a year, while his other projects may have anywhere from about five upwards. But release wise, there's always a similar theme of harsh, noisy sounding music that seems to permeate most of Mories' musical output, and this album is no different. This is a very rough sounding record, something that I'm sure might turn some people off, but the rawness does have it's advantages, as it does make this record sound so much more savage, listen to how much it adds to a track like Torn Between Ruins, Faith, and The Divine for example.
When it comes to DMV, there is a much more metal aesthetic to it, as riffs are more tangible, vocals are not as far back in the mix, and there isn't as much a focus on otherworldly forms of horror tactics. However, that doesn't mean that this isn't weird and disturbing, as the frequent shifts on a track like The Stench of Burning Wings were quite unsettling to say the least. A lot of what's on here is quite disorienting and to an extent progressive at the same time. Everything is always changing, blazing black metal riffs will slow into funeral doom and then burst into an almost grindcore like part within several seconds of each other. In some spots, The Flaming Sword, this album will probably loose a lot of listeners simply due to how defiant it is to conform to any one style or sound.
Overall, I'd have to say that I really enjoyed this album, it's quite a challenging listen, I can only imagine what first time listeners to Mories' work would think of this. It is certainly one of my favorite releases Mories has released in a little while, if you look up his output with GTT you'll understand why I say a little while. If you like aggressive, progressive, and noisy sounding black metal, definitely check this album out.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Transfiguration, The Heavens, Burning Hands and A Crown of Flames

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Imbroglio - Sleep Deprivation (2011)

Band: Imbroglio
Country: Dayton, Ohio
Style: Sludge Metal/Grindcore
Label: The Path Less Traveled Records

I like to think I have a decent ear for good sounding grind and sludge metal, though I'm sure many would disagree, in my head I think that I've made some good choices with what bands I actually have on my music player. Imbroglio is a band I recently discovered and checked out due to their combination of the two genres, which is something I've always enjoyed. If it's crusty and has variety, chances are I'll at least listen to it.
The band's sound owes a lot to groups like Converge, Botch, Neurosis, Napalm Death, and other bands of that ilk as the sounds of all of them come through on here. Despite being rooted within sludge metal for most part, there's also a quite a spastic streak to these songs as well, hear Mechanical Vulture, where the band just go off the handle and break into dissonant and chaotic riffing. Even when there's a more melodic part there's always just something a bit more dissonant than usual, compared to other groups, which stood out, hear Dead Rain. The longer songs on this record actually come through as somewhat of a more volatile sort of vibe, the post-rock sounding Cellar Door or the dirge of a title-track, Sleep Deprivation, come out as some of the most powerful pieces on the album because these tracks are a bit longer and develop into more weighty pieces.
Something I've always loved about both grind and sludge is the punk kind of vibe I get from them, and this album totally has that spirit of not giving a fuck and just playing whatever they want. There's a genuine sense of anger on here as well that really comes through in the passion with which these songs are being played, just hear tracks like Black Sheep or Scum On Bones. The flow from part to part on here, within each song I mean, just feels very natural not forced, with slow and sludgy parts coming in between chaotic riffing. But when the heavy, doomy parts come down, they groove and sound so dirty and filthy I'm sure anyone that loves sludge would find it hard to resist.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid album, not great, but really good. I'd say the worst thing was maybe the lack of anything memorable or truly catchy, there are some, but I would have liked to have found more. If you like filthy, dirty, and grimy sludgecore definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Cement Shoes, Black Sheep, Sleep Deprivation

Dead to A Dying World - Dead to A Dying World (2011)

Band: Dead to A Dying World
Country: Dallas, Texas
Style: Crust Punk/Blackened Sludge Metal
Label: Tofu Carnage Records

When it comes to the style of crust punk being mixed with black and sludge metal, I often find myself, more often than not, enjoying those bands. When I first heard of this collective, I thought no different, though from seeing the song lengths on this debut, I was a bit hesitant. As a new group there's always going to be a bit of hesitation on any listener's part about whether or not they'll end up liking a certain album, and this was a album that definitely did that to me.
This album is a staggering three song long debut, with two of the tracks trumping ten minutes. Opener Concrete and Steel really showcases the depth to this collective, making use of not only the traditional guitar, bass, and drums, but also cello and up-right bass. I found the use of these additional instruments to really be the band's trump card as it added a very unique sound to this album that other groups don't seem to have. Having said that, I found that the first two tracks didn't really capture my full attention like the last song did, but with each listen it grows on me more and more, so this is a grower.
Throughout the record, the collective manage to make use of both soft and more melancholic sections where more often than not, the cello will take the lead, while the heavier part definitely recall both the band's more doom and black metal roots, with the cello still retaining a good portion of the overall sound. Now while the longer tracks do build up and fall down, Stagnation keeps things on a more metal note, being more crusty and blackened than the other two tracks for it's entire duration. Vocals are fairly standard, with the main vocalist providing low and harsh death metal growls and yells, while the cellist provides the higher shrieks, giving the album another sort of variation. However, and this might be obvious, but the highlight of the entire record is the twenty-two minute closer, We Enter The Circle At Night... and Are Consumed By Fire, which takes the band's sound every which way, making use of sludge, crust punk, black metal, progressive rock, among a bit of more classical cello playing as well.
Overall, I'd say that this album is really solid, but like I said, it's a grower. It will definitely require patience from those who listen to it, as with any band that performs long songs. If you like experimental sludge or black metal, this is a band you should check out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: We Enter The Circle At Night... and Are Consumed By Fire

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fen - Epoch (2011)

Band: Fen
Country: United Kingdom
Style: Post-Black Metal
Label: Code666

Ever since I heard of Fen about two years ago, I've heard nothing but praise sung for them. From their debut EP "Ancient Sorrow" into this, their second full-length, I've not heard a single bad word about this band. Taking cues from post-rock and shoegaze, but altering it in such a way as to make it more progressive than most within the post-black metal or blackgaze genre.
Showing their true colors, this is an album that doesn't show fear in moving into more melancholy realms that do call back to post-rock music, even within the opening title-track, Epoch. From what I've seen, the fact that these guys have only one guitar player brings something a little bit different to the table, as guitars aren't as overpowering as other groups make them. Not to say there aren't parts on here where the guitars get loud and aggressive, as more than half the album is pretty brutal melodic black metal, but there's a more dreamy quality in the tone of the guitar, not to mention the use of keyboards adding a similar vibe on top of it as well.
But I think it's the dreamy quality of this album that really makes it stick out from both other records from similar bands, not to mention black metal bands in general. The spacey and more atmospheric sections are what really stuck out on this record, to me anyway. Though I do have to say the dynamic between heavy and soft is explored quite a bit throughout this disc, constantly evolving between the two and sometimes going for a sound somewhere in between. This variation definitely justifies the song lengths on this album, as several of these songs end up pushing around eight minutes. Plus, listening to tracks like The Gibbet Elms or Half-Light Eternal, you can't help being encompassed by all the atmosphere that they bring.
Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed this album and it is certainly a refreshing listen. I have always been attracted to unique atmospheres within bands, and I absolutely love the soundscapes found on this record. If you like experimental black metal, I'd suggest you check this out immediately.
Overall Score: 9.5
Highlights: Every Song Is A Highlight

Dornenreich - Flammentriebe (2011)

Band: Dornenreich
Country: Tyrol, Austria
Style: Ambient Rock/Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Prophecy Production

Dornenreich is a band I've kind of developed and love/hate relationship with throughout my listenings with them. While their early albums are definitely some well crafted melodic black metal recordings, their more recent work has moved them much farther into the ambient rock genre, something I always associated with groups like Katatonia and Anathema. Their more recent work was decent enough, but not really anything that managed to really keep my attention for too long.
This new album has gotten quite a bit of hype from the underground community, some praising it as one of their best works. From the opening title-track, Flammentriebe, this album already shows that it will not be like the last album's more recent material, which for me treaded the fine line between being pure atmospheric folk influenced rock and the black metal stylings of their early material. This album proves to be a much more extreme venture, taking hints from their older material, and maybe from tour mates Agalloch, to include a bit more variety within their sound.
While I would say that this album certainly is more of a black metal record than the last few have been, there is still the presence of a more atmospheric and folk influences. Tracks like Tief Im Land or Fährte Der Nacht make use of the violin and melodic riffs to create a very organic and almost spiritual atmosphere surrounding them. It's in these sort of tracks where I believe the band could further expand their sound and explore, territories that made me think of bands like Agalloch or Opeth, and at times even Enslaved. During the softer and more acoustic parts of this album, I actually found them to really be more pleasing, as they didn't dominate the record, I found that I was able to appreciate their use a bit better, hear closer Erst Deine Träne Löscht Den Brand for example.
Overall, I'd say this is a really solid record, but one that I found was maybe just lacking that special something for me, or might require a few more listens. I definitely liked this more than the band's more recent work, but not as much as their earlier stuff. If you like progressive, atmospheric black metal, I'd say you should check this out.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Der Wunde Trieb, Wolfpuls, In Allem Weben

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Virus - The Agent That Shapes The Desert (2011)

Band: Virus
Country: Oslo, Norway
Style: Avant-Garde Metal/Psyche Rock
Label: Independent

Anyone that knows about the outer extremities in black metal's history knows about the sole "official" album from experimentalists Ved Buens Ende. The "Written In Waters" album changed the game of black metal, forever demonstrating some of the most left-field influences to ever be brought into the genre. A long while after that album was first released, two-thirds of that band created a new place to play some of the weirdest rock/metal out there called Virus, this is that band's third full-length.
I'll get my biggest gripe with this album out of the way first. From what I understood, there was supposed to be a Walker Brothers cover on here, Shutout to be precise, and that track is not on here, and being the fan of Scott Walker that I am, I am sorely disappointed with that. But onto what's really on here, it's essentially what Virus was on their last album, weird, forward thinking, and not willing to compromise. The dissonant guitar lines, jazzy bass-lines, and intricate drumming coupled with some Czral's left-field crooning. I think it's only fair warning for those that haven't heard these guys before, the distortion on this record isn't really that found within metal very often, but something, I hear, more commonly within garage rock or more retro bands.
When it comes to performances on here, they're all top notch, especially the bass work, which really blows me away. Bjeima just keeps this record together in my opinion, when it comes to the aforementioned dissonant guitar work and intricate drumming, with bass playing that both acts as the glue keeping the two together as well as the knife cutting out enough room between everything allowing everything to stand out. When it comes to the drumming though, Esso's playing ranges from almost simplistic and danceable on Chromium Sun to sparse and quite jazzy on Where The Flame Resides. Czral's guitar work is solid as well, providing a great amount of avant-garde-ness to the band's overall sound with riffs that sound like they were pulled straight out the the 60s and 70s, and then chopped up to sound as dissonant and weird as possible, but still sounding melodic. Hints of jazz, garage rock/60's rock style, and even bits of surf rock came up throughout the record, for my ears anyway.
Overall, I have to say that I liked this album quite a bit, it was more than just an entertaining album. There's quite a bit of replay power to this disc, though not as good as their last one, this is still solid. I'd recommend this to anyone that wants to hear something a little out there.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: The Agent That Shapes The Desert, Red Desert Sands, Call of The Tuskers

Angizia - Kokon. Ein Schaurig-Schönes Schachtelstück (2011)

Band: Angizia
Country: Vienna, Austria
Style: Avant-Garde/Classical
Label: Medium Theater

Over the years since it's inception, Angizia has been a band that, to me, has constantly been overlooked within the avant-garde metal world. Taking just as much from polka, jazz, and classical music as it does from any sort of metal, if not more, I rarely see any sort of press for this project. Having been labeled "circus metal" by some fans, I would think that more people would have become more aware by now.
While the project's last couple of albums haven't really wowed me, they still sound like no one else. Offering up a unique sense of drama and classical orchestration that has rarely been matched by others, Angizia continue on their more recent trend of having albums filled with more story-esque song sequences. Combining a very operatic, or cinematic, sort of orchestration style with very avant-garde tendencies often lands the band into territories no metal fan would go near, like the third track, Ein Quäntchen Gift, which makes use of that cinematic orchestration but also mixes it with black metal vocals and more polka and rock stylings, it's done well, but that doesn't make it any less weird. Now, while tracks like Sack Und Asche remain on the more symphonic side, a track like Maß Für Maß manages to be one of the few times the band actually ventures into metal. But while about half of these tracks, there are sixteen all together, are short minute long pieces that, while they might fit into a complete puzzle, feel a bit short and end up doing little to entertain.
For those wondering, the metal in this band is very limited, as the band make use of violins, cellos, and piano more often than electric guitar, which is a nice change of pace for someone that is always listening to metal. The vocals are pretty varied as well, making use of the aforementioned black metal screams, operatic female singing, extreme metal howls, and spoken word, sometimes all within the same track. While I would say this album is definitely much more classical, I personally enjoyed when the band went into something a bit different, like the heavy strumming of the acoustic guitar in Ich or the piano solo on Aus Traum Und Tanz. Ein Walzer. that really stuck out.
Overall, this is a decent album, but by no means my personal favorite, I'm always hoping for something a bit more metal. This is definitely not going to appeal to people that like their music heavy, aggressive, and brutal, as it's pretty much the exact opposite of that. If you want your music weird, eccentric, and more adventurous than this is a record and band I would recommend to you.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Es Ist Leidenschaft., Sack Und Asche, Maß Für Maß

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lapageria Rosea - Suave Susurro EP (2011)

Band: Lapageria Rosea
Country: Puerto Montt, Chile
Style: Black Metal
Label: Independent

Although I am aware of the presence of South American black metal, it's never really been a place that I can say I've ever found myself interested in. The few projects and bands that I have heard did little to impress me and wound up being little more than a rehashing of older bands. What drew me to this demo was how different the cover was compared to most black metal covers.
The three songs that make up this demo are some lo-fi black metal in the vein of what I've come to expect from the South American scene. These are fairly aggressive songs with wretched vocals that seem to take just as much from early Mayhem as they do from Xasthur. As you might be able to imagine, atmosphere is something that takes precedence over real songs on here. For some reason, unlike some other groups that make use of a more atmospheric sound, the one that permeated this release didn't capture my attention as fully, though two tracks did peak my interest through the melodies the guitar was crafting.
Overall, this is a decent release, it's not awful, but it's not exactly something I could see myself playing over and over. I think that the founder, Furufuhué, definitely could make a solid record. If you like atmospheric, lo-fi black metal, check this out.
Overall Score: 5.5
Highlights: Dulce Inocencia

Pestilential Shadows - Depths (2011)

Band: Pestilential Shadows
Country: Corrimal, Australia
Style: Black Metal
Label: AOM/Seance Records

When looking into the Australian black metal scene it becomes apparent that a lot of members are interconnected with various projects. Seeing how members of Pestilential Shadows contains members of heavyweights Naxzul and the prolific project Drowning The Light along with many others, it might appear that an individual sound might be hard to come by. While I'll definitely say that I do back Naxzul, I have never quite found an affinity for Drowning The Light, but this band did manage to draw my attention with their last album.
Pestilential Shadows plays a brand of black metal that while remaining firmly within the old-school realm, is constantly evolving for the better. While I'd never say that this band falls in line with groups like Artefact of Slechtvalk, the sound on this album is very melodic and driving. The addition of both softer and slower passages also does wonders for the band's sound as it definitely increases the intensity of the more aggressive sections while bringing in a more tense atmosphere to a given song, hear Tribulations of Man for example. Even the addition of the slightly cheesy spoken word parts on the album, Choirs Beyond The Blackened Stars, manages to only increase this album's overall effect. There's also a much more epic feeling to this album, with a tracks like Putrid Earth or the title-track, Depths, standing out in that regard with how grandiose they are.
In terms of songwriting, these are definitely well crafted tracks with plenty of replay power, but I would say that the one downfall on here would be the lack of memorability of these songs. While the entire album is certainly an experience, especially when listening from front to back, I wouldn't say that any songs really stayed with me for too long. Though I will say that certain melodies do actually come up after the album closes as they managed to leave, at least it was the case with me, a sort of scar ingrained in me, as these melodies are more haunting rather than catchy, as tracks like Poisoner will attest to.
Overall, this is a really good album and one that should hopefully get the band much more attention. While this album doesn't break the mold of black metal, it is certainly an album with a lot of personality, a nasty one but that's beside the point, that should win over more than a few new listeners. If you like black metal done with just a hint of experimentalism, definitely look into this album.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Tribulations of Man, Shrine, Depths

Friday, February 18, 2011

Neuraxis - Asylon (2011)

Band: Neuraxis
Country: Montreal, Canada
Style: Melodic/Technical Death Metal
Label: Prosthetic
Neuraxis was a band I first discovered when I was looking through different bands labeled as technical death metal. It was around that time that I started to grow fond of artists coming from Canada, groups like Cryptopsy, Voivod, and Quo Vadis, so I figured I might as well give these guys a shot. While I was not completely floored by their sound, I found that I enjoyed them enough to at least pick up 2008's "The Thin Line Between."
Once again on this album, the band has a new line-up, with guitarist Robin Milley taking over all guitar duties on this album, and Alex LeBlanc reclaiming his vocal duties from the last album. But for those that have not been introduced to the Neuraxis style of playing, I'll tell you that first and foremost, despite being technical, like the title says, there's still room for melodies and catchy riffs, just hear Asylum. There are also no clean vocals or anything resembling metalcore or hardcore, instead, as always in this band's case, they take a firm stance in the death metal ground. When it comes to the performance on this record, I can't really criticize Milley, as his guitar playing has always been spot on, and it hasn't changed on here, just hear the transitions made in Sinister. LeBlanc is a killer vocalist and definitely feels more comfortable on this record than the last one; and his growling is solid, low and guttural but also very clear and easy to understand. The two newest members play well, but don't really stand out as much as they probably could have.
This album definitely is much more melodic than any of the band's previous albums, in my opinion, with songs being much more defined and structured as well as much more catchy. Tracks like By The Flesh and Purity should showcase just how much the band's sense of songwriting has improved since the last album. The whole album also feels a lot more fluid than previous ones as well, including the short interlude Resilience helped make the the album feel more cohesive. But for fans who have grown attached to the band's older and more technical material, the later songs, hear V and Left to Devour, totally recapture that sort of style that should please you. I can honestly say that this is the most complete sounding record the band has ever recorded, in my opinion.
Overall, this is a really solid album that definitely reminded me as to why I first got into this band. I could definitely see some old school fans not really liking the more melodic sound of this album, but it totally works for them. If you like technical and melodic death metal, I would totally recommend this to you.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Asylum, Sinister, Purity

Subversion - Lest We Forget (2011)

Band: Subversion
Country: Kent, England
Style: Djent/Progressive Metalcore
Label: Independent

It's strange to see the surge of djent/tech metal in the last year or two. Since my discovery of the genre, I've found quite a few bands that have peaked my interest and it has since been a genre, or style, that has brought more talented and unique bands into the spotlight. Subversion were one of the first bands I took an interest in, after hearing a two track single they released last year.
Subversion are certainly a band that take a bit from the Meshuggah influenced djenty sound as well as a bit from metalcore, which might turn some off immediately, but it's the other things they do with those sounds that intrigued me. The metalcore aspects to their sound mainly comes from the more "simplistic" or "accessible" song structures, as the band tend to use similar methods of structuring with most of their songs, which works for them, and the use of occasional breakdowns, hear Seizure. However the industrial rhythmic patterns, keyboards, and clean vocals bring to mind Fear Factory at some of their best as well as the more technical musicianship, there are solos on here as well, bring to mind groups like Strapping Young Lad or the already mentioned Meshuggah. It's the unique sound of industrial djent, similar to that Sybreed, a band I've never really been a fan of anyway, but a bit more intense, that makes these guys differ from other bands.
I was surprised at how long this album was, being about an hour in length, holding sixteen songs, and that's not meant to be a bad thing, it works in their favor as most of these tracks are really solid and catchy and make that hour go by pretty fast. Tracks like What We Are Entitled and Treason (Beyond Forgiveness) really demonstrate some killer musicianship and interesting structures, and those always make an album more interesting. Probably the most annoying thing about this album, and it might be because it's a concept album, I'm not sure about that, is the use of clips, not really samples, at the beginning or end of songs, and interludes, it kind of ruins the flow the album could have had.
Overall, this is a solid debut album and I'm actually surprised this band isn't signed yet. While this is no masterpiece, this certainly has some really great songs. These guys definitely have a lot of talent and are worth checking out if you like a more progressive brand of industrial metal or metalcore.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Butchered, Te Odio, Failed Alliance, Lest We Forget

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Alghazanth - Vinum Intus (2011)

Band: Alghazanth
Country: Jyväskylä, Finland
Style: Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal
Label: Woodcut Records

It's been a while since I listened to Alghazanth honestly, I remember a few years ago when I think I had all their albums, listened to one after another and found myself constantly amazed with their sound. Years pass and I guess I grew up and kind of left them behind, cause I haven't really listened to them since then. From what I remember about their albums was a strong sense of songwriting and catchy melodies, I'm hopeful this new album might keep with the feeling that originally made me really like this band.
Musically, this is a fairly straightforward melodic/symphonic black metal record, it doesn't really divert from that sound too often. The riffing is very melodic and memorable, the vocals are tuneful, of at least as tuneful as screaming can be, and the keyboards provided what's to be expected from them, an atmospheric backdrop to the rest of the band. Apparently this album is the band's return to their roots, which means making use of less busy songs, but I think that that might have been what attracted me to the band in the first place, as several of these songs were just kind of there for me, it wasn't bad by any means, but they weren't that great either, hear opener A Living Grave. I just couldn't find something that really got me going or really stuck in my head after a song finished for some reason.
When the band indulge in a little bit more of a mellow interlude in a given song, it usually works in their favor, in my opinion, as tracks like Only The Reflection Bleeds or For Thirteen Moons, which mellow out and make use of piano and acoustic guitars end up being tracks that don't feel as long as others. Even the symphonic parts, when they move up in the mix, aren't that bad, and actually add a cool dynamic to the band. I found these two aspects of the band to really being this album's saving grace, as the rest just didn't amaze me like I wanted it to, especially in the latter track mentioned above, where there's an more gothic, not bad gothic, sound that really had this really great vibe which made it stick out.
Overall, this album is decent, it's alright, but I'm pretty indifferent to it. I'll have to go back and listen to the band's older material to try and see if I find something in there that made me find them so great before. If you like symphonic or melodic black metal, I'd recommend this to you even though it's not really my thing.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: With A Thorn In Our Hearts, Under The Arrow Star, For Thirteen Moons

The Beast of The Apocalypse - Henosis (2011)

Band: The Beast of The Apocalypse
Country: Friesland, Netherlands
Style: Black Metal
Label: Transcendental Creations

When calling a band The Beast of The Apocalypse and citing groups like Mayhem, Archgoat, and Beherit as influences, it shouldn't be difficult to imagine what said band would sound like. In the case of this Dutch duo, it's pretty to the point, old-school black metal, which means aggression and atmosphere come first with evil lyrics. I had heard this band's album "A Voice From The Four Horns of The Golden Altar" last year and was pretty indifferent to it, I'm hoping this new album might do something a bit more unique.
From what I remember about their last album, it was really atmospheric, really dense, and really epic sounding; and in comparison to this new album, they've pretty much stepped it up on all three levels. This album is definitely much more aggressive and engaging than their last one was, with a more melodic, at times, approach to the guitar work and more diverse sounding vocals. I'd say that the wall of sound on this album is definitely much more original sounding than before as well. While I found that the duo's debut did feature enough variation of structures to provide at least a more original take than others, this new album definitely doesn't drone on in as many spots, hear I Am Not Worthy to Utter Thy Name.
In all honesty though, I would not say this record is as visceral as the last album, while the overall sound has definitely been improved upon, this record just isn't as much as an onslaught. Though tracks like the title-track, Henosis, and An Enlightened Aeon are definitely two of the more brutal tracks on here, they don't really touch the same sort of pure hatred I felt came from the debut. I'm sure some will differ on this sentiment, but I just didn't feel the same sort of malevolent urges coming from this album.
Overall, this is a decent album, like I said, I like it more than their last album. While I'd still say that this is a long way from being a great album, in my opinion, it's still good. If you like old-school black metal, or blackened noise, I'd recommend this to you.
Overall Score: 6.5
Highlights: Vision of The Twelve Priests Before The Altar, Henosis, Yaldabaoth

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Door Into Emptiness - Vada (2011)

Band: Door Into Emptiness
Country: Belarus
Style: Ambient/Black Metal
Label: Possesion Prod.

It's become increasingly difficult to expect unique sounding music from smaller countries of the world when it comes to black metal. Belarus is a country that never really appears in my head when I'm thinking of bands that are breaking new ground for the genre, not to say there aren't good bands there. When I stumbled across this album, I found the cover striking enough to give it a shot, having almost no idea what it could be, as the term black metal nowadays is a fairly ambiguous term to say the least.
After the intro title-track, Vada, this, I don't know if it's a band or a project, album moves into what could only be described as a mix of atmospheric black metal, a bit of doom metal, and hints of industrial punk being thrown at a wall and seeing what sticks. There's actually a lot of diversity on here, songs can range from slower and more ambient tracks, Last Hunting, to more aggressive and almost death metal, Uel or SS 18, something that I surely didn't expect. But despite that fact, the production shifts on a few tracks, making it seem as if several of these tracks were recorded at different times, this most noticeably happens on Aujom.
Despite any and all musical shifts that occur throughout this album though, an ever present atmospheric sound always remains. This atmosphere tends to give the music a very cold and more mystic, if you will, feeling that sits better with the slower tracks than the faster ones, as one might imagine. The aforementioned Last Hunting providing the focal point for this atmosphere to control an entire song, remaining very minimal, with repetitious guitar lines behind walls of cold keyboards and wailing screams and soft whispers.
Overall, this is a decent album that holds quite a bit of variety that should please fans that want a little more of that in their black metal. With the ever present atmosphere on here, I don't think one track ever become so different that it made it sound like a different band, despite the production shifts. If you like atmospheric black metal that takes a bit more pleasure in doing more adventurous styles, check this out.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Uel, Last Hunting, Vavorok

Lake of Blood - As Time and Tide Erodes Stone (2011)

Band: Lake of Blood
Country: Los Angeles, California
Style: Melodic Black Metal
Label: Human Jigsaw Records

This is really my first encounter with the band named Lake of Blood, though I was familiar with them. I had first heard of them through the split they did with Kentucky based Panopticon, and though I paid little attention to that split, I had heard good things about it. For some reason or another, I've seen them being put along side with bands that have been put into the Cascadian black metal scene, which I don't really understand.
From that split, the band had three tracks around five minutes, two years later, on this full-length, the band has written two tracks that both top ten minutes. Like I said, I can't comment on the sound of the band from the split, but this album definitely contains some more doomy and tribal elements. There's a very strong sense of adventure within each of these tracks, both in terms of structures, and lengths, and actual instrumentation. The acoustic guitars used in the first track Proxigean Arcanum should give a clean indication as to the type of band this is, or it should clear up any sort of misconceptions people might have about this band being a straightforward melodic black metal band. There's also quite a sense of epicness to this album, in both songs being able to capture a more grandiose sound without sounding pristine, and the build up within Destroyer of Vices only reiterates that point.
However, there is still a very prominent black metal core to the band, as seen with their more extreme sections. The more aggressive points on here do have that melodic black metal sound that one might expect, as well as the inclusions of the occasional solo. Though I would say that this album really removes the band from most of the stereotypes one might associate with this genre anyway, so most of the similarities are limited.
Overall, this is a great album and one that I didn't really have a ton of expectations from coming into. Though I really loved this album, I do fear that going back in their catalog might not present me with the same feeling I got from this album. But if you like epic sounding, somewhat progressive, blackened doom metal, definitely check this album out.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Destroyer of Vices