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

Monday, August 23, 2010

Future Posts

I regret to say that since I have returned to school this month, my posts will return to a less frequent format, posting whenever I get some free time. I regret to say this, but due to assignments and arangements that will take up more of my time, these posts will occur less often. Whenever I do get free time, I will try to post whatever I can, sorry to those that read whatever I posted everyday for the past several months.

Sleeping Peonies - Rose Curl, Sea Swirl EP

Daydream Fuzz.

Sleeping Peonies is a depressive black metal/blackgaze project from the UK. This is the debut release from the project and shows a much less metal sound than other bands put in this category. Despite being relatively new to the scene, they have gained a bit of a buzz on the Internet with this EP.
To start, the buzz on this project is definitely justified, at least in my eyes, as this is one of the few projects that has something different going for them. The production on here is very raw and a thick layer of noise and distortion covers most of this, but behind that I found were some of the most depressing melodies I've heard in some time. The music itself, as stated above, is not solely rooted within black metal, but elements of post-punk, dream pop, and shoegaze music can all be heard.
What drew me in were the melodies, mainly, for how soft and moody they were. The screams themselves weren't all that harsh or aggressive, recalling a bit of the depressive scene, but everything that was around it made it seem just a bit more real and truthful than what I find in a lot of depressive groups/projects. Frost, Sparkling demonstrates a more black metal feeling, that's one of the few tracks that actually comes across as aggressive. I might just be me, but this comes across as less pretentious than a lot of the depressive groups/projects that I've heard and just makes this sound more genuine.
Overall, this is a pretty cool debut release that shows a lot of potential. Though I do feel that this is more real and depressing, there are still plenty of flaws on here that stop it from being perfect. If you're not really into black metal, this has enough of it to have an edge but is probably still pretty easy for a not metal head to get into.
Overall Score: 6.5
Highlights: Lighthouse Alight, Stars Aligned, The Mist and The Sea Spray, Mermaids Singing Far Away

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Skon - At The End of A Journey EP

Softly They Depress You.

Skon is a depressive rock project from Slovakia. This is the debut release from this project, whose sole member is Carpath. This project takes a different route than the usual depressive black metal bands usually do.
Unlike most of the bands that go under the term of depressive music, the black metal groups and projects usually, this one has very little of that. Even the more rock based groups, like Grey Waters or Lifelover, have roots that connect them to the black metal scene, this one seems to have more in common with "Brave Murder Day"-era Katatonia. The melodies and slower builds do show at least a common adoration for that sound, but the cover of that band in particular, Cold Ways, doesn't dissuade that fact either. But there are still black metal parts on here though, the link to that genre is not so far.
For an EP, the four songs on here are fairly lengthy, with the opener, Forever Lost, being just over nine minutes. I found that these tracks really had a lot to offer, with highs and lows throughout any given track, from more slow doom parts to the occasional black metal tremolo picked and blast-beat section. These tracks also don't feel as long as they are due to the use of dynamics and solid melodies.
Overall, this is a very solid debut release with a lot of potential. This release surprised me with just how different it was compared to other depressive bands and is makes me excited to see where this project goes. For those that like the "Brave Murder Day" Katatonia or depressive rock, check this out for sure, very impressive.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Hopeless Words, At The End of A Journey

The Showdown - Blood In The Gears

Southern Comfort.

The Showdown are a southern rock/groove metal group from Tennessee. Since their inception back in 2004, the band have gone through numerous changes, from line-ups to styles. The group is known for their dynamic songs and more positive lyrics.
For those that aren't aware of the growth and evolution of this band, it's a bit unorthodox when you look at a lot of modern groups. Starting out on their first record, the band was stylistically rooted within metalcore and melodic death metal, which lumped them in with the whole metalcore movement of the time. Their second record showed a very noticeable shift into southern rock and more typical heavy metal territory that showed a bit more influence of Pantera. Their last record combined the two into a more groovy and thrash oriented sound, and that is where this record picks up.
What can be said for this group is that they have never made the same record twice. Personally, never having been all that familiar, save the singles which I've listened to on the occasion of actually remembering this band, I found this to be a hit or miss type of thing. I would imagine fans of this band are divided into those that can handle and accept their progress, and then there are those that like only one record and aren't as favorable towards the others. For better or worse the band have defined themselves as a band that will not repeat themselves.
This record, as stated, is most similar to what I heard on their previous record, 2008's "Back Breaker," by the use of more thrash and groove metal elements being utilized. Tracks like A Man Named Hell and the title-track, Blood In The Gears, perfectly showcase the blending of their more southern rock influence with more groovy and aggressive metal riffs. This record can best be described as tough-guy music, no one will dispute this fact, the preference of whether one likes this or not is a personal matter. I'm on the fence with it, I found tracks that were a bit different like slower Take Me Home or thrash influenced The Crooked Path much more enjoyable than some of the other tracks on here.
Overall, this is a solid record, nothing groundbreaking or world shattering, but a record with a few good songs and a solid stature. Whether you personally like or dislike this record, or band for that matter, you have to give them respect for actually shifting and trying out different styles rather than making similar records over and over again. If you like groovy, southern rock/metal stuff, definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Bring It Down, Take Me Home, Graveyard of Empires

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Drudkh - Handful of Stars

Dreaming Neon. Black.

Drudkh is a Ukrainian black metal band that has been around for about eight years at this point. Featuring members of groups like Hate Forest, Blood of Kingu, and Astrofaes this project, while being quite mysterious due to the lack of photos and any interviews, has become one of the most respected groups in black metal today. This album is their second album after signing to Season of Mist, a label which then preceded to re-release the band's back catalog, before releasing this beast.
Being familiar with only bits of Drudkh's previous work, not due to dislike of it, but more out of lack of interest to put on an entire album, my mistake, this album shows a bit of a shift in direction. From what I've heard of the band's early albums, and even the two most recent ones, this album takes a bit more of a post-black metal approach instead of their usual folk/black metal. This is demonstrated right from when the second track begins, following the intro, and lush melodies just bleed all over the sound.
I found this album to be a bit more in the vein of groups like lantlos and Alcest's more recent work, using a bit of that post-punk/shoegaze melodicism and integrating it with their own sound. The sounds on here aren't as punishing as previous record may have been and are possibly more accessible due to the inclusion of melodies like these as well. This boarders into that genre that many people might not want to see the band move into, using more melodies and parts that are memorable. The slow downs on this album also don't really venture into folk territory as they used to but rather stay in a cleaner electric sound.
I personally found that this album was very enjoyable from start to finish, with nary the stray riff or loss of attention on my part. This is certainly not as fierce a record as some of the band's older material, but does show that they can try out some other styles and blend with their own successfully. Whether you liked this album or not, you have to admit that the band was able to make this sound unique to themselves, hear the epic Downfall of The Epoch.
Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable album that demonstrates a talent that isn't usually demonstrated within this band. I'll agree that this is not up to the standards of the band's first two classic albums, but this is a cool experiment. If you like the whole post-black metal scene or black metal that has a more melodic edge, check this out.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Downfall of The Epoch, Twilight Aureole, The Day Will Come

Grey Waters - Below The Ever Setting Sun EP

The Depressive Season.

Grey Waters is a depressive rock duo from Australia. The band formed from the ashes of recently disbanded depressive black metal project Austere. This band takes the atmosphere and dynamics from that band and applies them in a somewhat more palatable style.
While this band is made up of two of the members of Austere, most of the black metal elements that made their previous band so unique are now gone. The music on here maintains that harsh rock/metal edge, but the vocals are done cleanly for the most part and the production is not nearly anywhere as harsh sounding. I found this EP to actually demonstrate a lot of what I actually found interesting about Austere present on here, with big sounding atmospheres and an almost abbrasive riffing style that maintained a melodic side to it.
I find that with only two thirds of Austere remaining in this band, the songwriting is strengthened. The final record of Austere, 2009's "To Lay Like Old Ashes," demonstrated songwriting that is not present in most groups and projects within the scene they were in, but this album really takes it to the next level. By removing the more black metal aspects of their sound, Grey Waters has kept the catchy riffs, but added extremely catchy vocal lines as well.
Overall, this is a very good EP that has a lot of what I like about depressive/atmospheric black metal in it. Fans of the black metal side of their older band might be a bit disappointed, but this is much more appraochable for people that don't like metal. If you like atmospheric rock music that is textured, check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Below The Ever Setting Sun, Broken

Friday, August 20, 2010

Íon - Immaculada

Ethereal Voices.

Íon is an ambient based project from the UK. The project was founded by Anathema's own Duncan Patterson who wanted to create a more personal and spiritual sort of sound as his career drew on. This is his second album with the project and it has gained high praises for the project's growth.
I'll begin this by stating that this album has little to no actual connection with the genre of "metal." The music on here utilizes softer and more ethnic instrumentation while maintaining a very orchestral and ambient based soundscape. The overall sound itself is very soft and soothing rather than harsh and aggressive. The album was said to have been written while Patterson was moving between Ireland and Greece, and the influences of both cultures manage to show themselves on songs like the beautiful folk song Adoration.
The vocals are, for the most part, performed by an Irish vocalist named Lisa Cuthbert while her sister Aoife and several other vocalists perform as well. Cuthbert's performance on here can be simply described as breathtaking, her vocals are not done in an operatic fashion or even that of a gothic singer, but more fitting in an almost folk way, fitting the music very well. I realize that not everyone has the same taste in vocalists, especially when it comes to female singers, but Cuthbert's vocals on here simply are the icing on an already great slice of cake.
This is also a fairly diverse album, taking elements of neo-folk, ambient, and classical music and melding them together into a very atmospheric way that is also very melodic. Acoustic guitars are the primary instrument in most tracks, but instruments such as flutes, violins, pianos, and sitars are used as well. This helps create a very elaborate sound that is very textured, but also very soft and open.
Overall, I found this to be a rather soothing record that really brings in a calming mood while it's being played. This is not the most outlandish thing that Patterson could have done after leaving Anathema, but it does show where some of the spiritual vibes that band had came from. If you're into neo-folk or ambient soundscapes, definitely check this out for sure.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Temptation, Adoration, The Silent Stars

Terra Impressionum - Transmitting Device

No Joke, That Is The Real Cover.

Terra Impressionum are an avant-garde/black metal band from the Ukraine. This is their second full-length album and demonstrates a more focused sound. While being young their sound showcases a lot of different styles, which can be a sign of being a young band, but also shows a lot of maturity in songwriting from the first record.
As soon as this record starts, you can hear the evolution from the first record. The keyboard solo that opens the first track moves into a more progressive styled track that is a bit less jumpy than their debut record was. Songs flow a lot better as well, when moving from a brutal death metal part into a mellower and jazzy section, it sounds more coherent, this is demonstrated due to the longer song lengths.
With music that shifts around a lot, so must a vocalist, and thankfully that's a point where Terra Impressionum succeed. The music on here is diverse and the vocals actually keep up, moving from low baritone croons, more tenor singing, brutal death metal growls, and high pitched black metal rasps. There are also several moments on here where the vocals perform the classic avant-garde vocal technique of call-and-response using different vocal styles to convey the different attitudes.
I found that the melding of genres had become more condensed into elements of extreme metal, a bit of electronica, and some jazz on this album, bringing the overall sound of a song a better flow. Most groups put under the avant-garde label often blend too many genres to really keep a grasp on any given song, on here however, the songs are easier to follow along with. This has lead me to believe that the band are moving towards progressive metal, or progressive extreme metal, rather than staying in the sometimes disrespected avant-garde scene.
Overall, I found this to be a very well executed and performed album with a lot to like. This is album, as stated before, shows a very good amount of growth within the songwriting of the band and moves them a bit more into the prog genre and less avant-garde. If you like progressive metal that is a bit extreme and weird at times, check this out. This comes highly recommended.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: TRDE1012+420, TRDE1015+501, TRDE1017+425

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gloria Morti - Anthems of Annihilation

War, Destruction, Chaos, But Then What Hasn't Been Covered Already.

Gloria Morti is a melodic death/black metal group from Finland. This is third full-length record and follows in a similar vein to their last one. The band have become known for their stage show and having toured with artists like Zyklon and Dissection.
Stylistically, the band juggle elements of black, death, and thrash metal with hints of symphonic textures and persistent melodies. The entire sound is very layered and creates a wall of sound throughout this entire full-length. This is also an album where, for the most part, songs are played fast and rarely slow down, something I find a bit boring and something that just has an air of sameness and little diversity. There are some parts on here where the music does slow down though, mainly during the instrumental Swallowed By Defeat, but here and there it does come up again.
The instrumental side, while maybe not as varied as my liking, is still proficient at writing some good riffs, hear The Final Framework. The keyboards on here are used for more atmospheric texturing, but are quite clear in the mix, bringing an air of almost mid-period Dimmu Borgir vibe to a few of the songs. Later tracks on the album really have a more atmospheric touch to them than earlier tracks would lead you to believe and such are made into the best tracks on here.
I, personally, found the vocals on this album a bit annoying, but that's just me. His vocals on here are pretty much a nicely varied, but the tone is just on that I found unappealing, especially his high screams, like in the otherwise great track Obey. Thankfully, the vocals tend to stay in the mid-range yells and lower growls for most of any given track.
Overall, this is an alright album with some decent riffs and songs, but nothing too great or amazing. Fans of this band will have already picked up or listened to this album and formed opinions so this doesn't really matter anyway. If you like melodic extreme metal, check this out, but otherwise, this isn't something that you should really concern yourself with.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: Awakening of A Discordant Machine, Cut From Gaia , Chaos Archetype

Ben Goldberg Quartet - Baal: Book of Angels Vol.15

I Don't Need To Rock To Rock.

The Ben Goldberg Quartet is a quartet, obviously, put together by John Zorn to perform one of his Masada pieces. Having listened to several other chapters from this series, this can be one of the easiest to get into and follow along with. Though it was composed by Zorn, this is one of the more tuneful albums within the series.
On this album you have Ben Goldberg, playing the clarinet, Greg Cohen on the bass, Kenny Wollesen on the drums, and Jamie Saft on the piano. This quartet play, on this album anyway, a very melodic style of klezmer jazz. It's not too abstract sounding or avant-garde, remaining more subdued and controlled instead. There are also parts that repeat in an almost chorus-like fashion as well as build ups and rising crescendos.
The pace at which this album is played is much easier to follow along and comprehend than some of the more improv based works Zorn has put out. There are times where the music on here does go into the realm of abstraction, hear Irin, but for the most part anyone listening should be able to follow along. Most of this album consists of winding melodies that flow into one another through mainly the piano and clarinet, with the occasional drum and bass breakdown thrown in.
Probably one of the weirdest moments on here is on the track Uzza, a solo clarinet song. The song itself isn't that abstract or challenging, but it stands out among all the other tracks on here. This track is also probably the most direct track on the album, so if you want to hear a short introduction before really getting into this, it would probably have to be this one.
Overall, I can safely say that this was an enjoyable album that did have it's moments where melodies stuck in my head. This isn't a sound a lot of young people might like, mainly cause it does sound like something that would be heard in a women's clothing store, but is certainly a bit more entertaining. If you like some more lounge style jazz that goes through some spazz parts, check this out.
Overall Score: 6.5
Highlights: Chachmiel, Lahash, 'Ifafi

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Whirling - Faceless Phenomena

The Swirling Nature Of Unique.

Whirling are an avant-garde black metal project from Sweden. This is the first release from the collaboration that this project is made up of, members of Lonndom, Sorgeldom, and Bergraven. If you've heard any of those bands, you can only imagine how the three of them together will sound.
When you get an album that, for all intended purposes is a metal album, begins with a, I'm guessing here, 50's jazzy piano tune, you know things are going to be different. But when you consider the bands that the member of this project belong to, it's not all that surprising. This is an odd album alright, as I've learned, having not really listened to Lik all that much, but from what I've read about them and this project, this is somewhat of an amalgamation of all the member's main bands.
At it's core, this is a black metal release, but it has elements of post-punk, psyche rock, and jazz thrown in there as well. The band is described by many as dark metal, I'm unaware of what exactly "dark metal" is, but I can certainly say that this is a dark album. The tempos on here aren't too extreme or extravagant, most of this is a a fairly slower to mid-paced feel, but does get fast on occasion.
The vocals on here are what may turn some off though. The vocals are split between AE of Lonndon singing, and an unknown vocalist, P. Gustafsson providing the screams. Those that expect a more black metal release will be left confused as to the amount of singing on this album, and it's done in a very original style that uses more of a baritone range, recalling a bit of a gothic style at times, while there are still plenty of songs with screaming, clean vocals clearly hold the prize for having more.
Overall, this is a solid debut album, and from what I've heard, has been getting quite a bit of flack for some reason or another, which I don't really get. This isn't the main band of any of these guys, and anyone expecting it to sound exactly like that is fooling themselves. If you like experimental metal that is not to out there, but still weird, definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Infinity of Ghost's, I Bring...

Mïsogi - Tofotukami Wemitamafe

Extreme Music That's Extemely Weird.

Mïsogi is a progressive/experimental black metal band from Japan. This is the band's first "official" full-length following three demo albums that have been released in the early 2000s. This album contains a lot of elements that should be familiar to the group Sigh, but otherwise should be a bit of a different experience for those that are not.
This record begins with an introduction track that is pretty much acoustic guitar with some singing on top, starting this very softly, then the second track, Susanowo, begins and it's nothing like the introduction. This track begins like an old-school black metal track, blasting and furious, it then changes pace around half-way using weird female chanting and a flute solo, before returning to metal again. This sort of thing occurs throughout the record, where you'll get typical black metal mixed with odd Japanese influences just popping in and out within tracks.
I'm not sure how many people have actually listened to metal, or visual kei, from Japan, but if you have, or ever listened to Sigh, you'll know that metal or rock from Japan is anything from normal. Japanese music mixes together music from various genres without much concern for a core sound, mixing traditional black metal with elements of Japanese folk music, old-school heavy metal, and prog rock on this album is not all that obscure a thing over there. Just to clarify, when I mentioned folk music, I don't just mean acoustic guitars, what you'll hear on here includes flutes and actual Japanese instruments.
This album has a pretty cool production sound, as it does have a primal sort of sound, not lo-fi or all that raw, but stripped down. Being that stripped down, this album isn't all that muddy or even dry sounding, everything is heard pretty well throughout on here. It's far from a perfect production, but it maintains that second wave of black metal sort of mid-90s sound while keeping it clear enough where everything that's playing can be heard.
Overall, this is a pretty decent album, not the best thing out there, but a pretty cool take on black metal, considering that I, personally don't hear too much black metal from Japan. Having heard other groups, not all metal groups mind you, from Japan, this isn't nearly as genre bending, but is still pretty unique compared to a lot of stuff out there now. If you're into something that is a bit different this is something you might want to check out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Filume, Phlebotomy, Simo

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drama - As In Empty Grave

They Have None Of What Their Name Is In Here.

Drama are a progressive black metal group from Russia. This is their second full-length record, excluding the live disc, and is a continuation of the path the band walked on their first. Using diverse influences in their sound, this is more adventurous than a simple black metal, but that's what the prog tag is for.
This, while being progressive, is not in the same vein of groups like Enslaved or latter period Emperor, bearing a more eerie similarity to Swedish suicidal Shining. The sound absolutely reeks of a similar riffing style, while having a bit more thrash than doom, the same dark vibe surround both bands. The riffing on here, on the other hand, bears a somewhat odd take on progressive black metal, as the riffing at times can be typical blackened thrash fast, tremolo picking, while at others it's more angular and harmonically strange.
This album was strangely effective at capturing several different moods while retaining a core black metal sound. Each song obviously has more of an aggressive edge than other trying to be happy or sad, but in tracks like Possessed By Darkness, there are a few points where things seem to become more somber and melancholic by using more atmosphere. These more atmospheric passages, that do still have the aggressive side playing alongside them most likely, show more depth and allow a bit more personality to reveal itself than just constant rage does. There are several points on here where the band do allow themselves to slow down more into a slower style before building back up again that proved to be a breather within tracks like Irae Nominem Tui.
While being relatively progressive with some song structures and riffing, this album ultimately does lean towards melodic black metal more. Like said many times above, this is an album that is pretty aggressive and fast, leaning towards blackened thrash at some points, but a lot of riffs are still melodic and fairly catchy, hear the title-track for such riffs, As In Empty Grave. There are a lot of harmonies used on here, guitar wise, which does lend itself to a more melodic sound than progressive black metal usually does.
Overall, this is a solid effort that shows a lot of potential and is definitely worth watching to see where these guys go next. Definitely a different sort of take on progressive black metal, interesting and probably a bit more to liking of those that are into more black metal than prog. If you like adventurous black metal, check this out for sure.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Around The Flame, In Hands of My Empire, The Cold Has Burst to Me

Nihil Novi Sub Sole - Jupiter Society

Themes For Sub-Culture Life.

Nihil Novi Sub Sole is a martial industrial/ambient artist from the Netherlands. This is the debut release from this project that was conceived by Marco Kehren. This project was conceived to combine elements of classical and ambient together in more eerie soundtrack like way back in 2008.
This album, as it's goal was intended, combines elements of classical and ambient together, but that martial industrial style is present in here as well. The use of more orchestral like melodies through the use of classical based, or string based, instruments, I'm guessing through a keyboard of some sort, as well as very open soundscapes and more hardened beats does combine for a different sound. There is also a constant use of samples on here as well, taken from movies or what have you that are used as almost narration for the tracks. The use of chanting in the background of more than a few tracks also make up some of the atmosphere to be found on here as well.
What you'll essentially get out of this record is a dark almost film-score take on electronic music. A lot of this album is very dark and brooding, but also very textural and filled with sound and ambiance. Tracks like Avvenimento Traumatico and Paralyze express a brighter aspect to this album that does stand out among the darker aspects that is used throughout most of this album. I was very impressed with the amount of texture on this album though, the dark sections really use more minimalist approaches toward their sounds while the brighter tracks really build up as they progress.
Overall, this is a decent record that has a lot of really cool sounds on it. I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of this sort of music, but I found several tracks on here to be rather entertaining. If you like sort of a futuristic take on neo-classical music, definitely check this one out.
Overall Score: 6.5
Highlights: To Enslave & Destroy, Obedience to None, Idolatry

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lamentations of The Ashen - In The Burden of The Heart's Plaint

The Little Boy Inside Is Crying.

Lamentations of The Ashen is a depressive black metal project from New Mexico. This is the project's first full-length album and does what any fan of the genre wants it to do, get you down and low emotionally. This record is filled with five tracks of intense black metal before you get any further, you should know that.
First off, if you're expecting anything along the lines of what Neige has done for the depressive scene, or even Kim's work (Lifelover, Hypothermia), you'll be sorely disappointed. This is fairly standard depressive black metal, nothing all too special is to be found on here that separates it from other projects or groups in the genre. What you can find is well sounding acoustic guitars, monotonous guitar playing when it is distorted, howling vocals that sound like banshee cries, and a heavy use of dark atmosphere.
Beyond all of that however, I found that Don, the creator and sole member of this project, has a decent grasp on the music he's playing. It's nothing new stylistically, but I found that the songs, while monotonous, actually managed to flow, and despite the longer song lengths, pass by quite quickly. The songwriting on here is a bit better than average as well, with more melody being used during the heavier and more distorted moments on here. The acoustic moments also were very rewarding in that the atmosphere that surrounded sole acoustic passages was very open and sounded like someone playing right in front of you.
When you take into account that the music on here was actually good, it makes it almost a shame that the vocals are so average for the genre that it nearly ruins songs where the vocals are more prominent, See My Struggles. Bon's vocals are high shrieks that are just filled with reverb that it echoes out whenever he screams. Most of this album is instrumental though, so they are ignorable with for the most part.
Overall, this is an alright album at best that does indeed showcase promise for what could potentially become a standard name associated with the genre. There are still lots of potholes in this album where things just go wrong, but for the most part it's actually a fairly easy album to sit through. If you like depressive black metal that is also a bit more melodic, check this out.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: Tresses of Enamoured Auburn, ...In Dreams Painted Red

Mother Susurrus - Mother Susurrus EP

This Is What Neurosis Would Sound Like If They Played Sludge Metal.

Mother Susurrus is a sludge metal band from Finland. This is the debut recording of the group and features two epic tracks. As with most in the genre, comparisons have been and will be made.
The two tracks that make up this EP are both over 10 minutes in length, providing a listener with over a half an hour's worth of music. But the music itself is pretty much standard sludge/doom metal with a bit of the post-metal vibe as well. The music obviously builds a lot before breaking down and making things quieter for a while. This does actually work to their advantage on here, as the guitar tone on here is crushing, so softening things for moments at a time stop these epic songs from feeling as long as they actually are.
Like the genres suggest, this moves along at a slow pace from start to finish, building and falling along the way. When comparing the two tracks on here, the second track, Apocatastasis, stands out as not only being the longer track, but also the one with a more unique take of the sound. This track grooves a lot more than the previous one and really becomes more dynamic by adding textures of guitars and keyboards throughout the track.
Overall, this is a decent first effort that shows a bit of promise. Nothing on here could be called original by any means, but these guys could really go places if they continue on the path of long epic tracks. If you like slower metal, doom, post, sludge, this is something to check out.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: Apocatastasis

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Csejthe - Transcendance EP

Above Modern Lo-Fi Recordings.

Csejthe are a melodic black metal band from Canada. This is their follow-up to their 2009 debut full-length, "La Mort Du Price Noir." This EP continues that path of melodic black metal, but is maybe a bit more accessible to traditional black metal fans.
I found this band completely by accident last year on some one's top albums list and expected them to be just another Canadian black metal band, I was pleasantly surprised to be mistaken. What I found was a band that actually had a lot of talent for writing melodic songs that had a few memorable riffs, nothing spectacular, but solid songs. I found that this album has a bit more atmosphere and is more cavernous than that first record was. Compared to the first record, this one is also less intense, and a bit slower in tempo as well.
Besides all of that, I still found the band to create interesting songs, maybe not as memorable, but a bit slower and shows that these guys do want to make themselves a bit more unique. The vocals manage to convey a bit more variety on here, using typical black metal raspy screams, but also some more depressive screams that are more, I guess you could term it this way, sad.
Tracks change a bit more often on here, it's not as consistent with intensity, but makes the song flow a bit more.
Overall, while it may not be as intense or as catchy as the debut, I still found this record really engaging and well worth listening to several times. If the band decide to further explore a slower and, at times, more depressive, side of black metal along with their more melodic sound, it should be quite interesting. For those that are into atmospheric black metal, or melodic black metal for that matter, check this out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Dereliction, Transcendance

Norma Jean - Meridional

The Core Of Their Sound.

Norma Jean are an experimental metalcore group from Georgia. This is their fifth album and is supposedly a return to their more technical and crazy side. The band have always gone the extra mile to separate themselves from the typical metalcore bands, we'll see if that's the case.
For those that aren't aware of Norma Jean's past work, they started out as a noisy mathcore-ish band on their first record, which was after the decision to end the band's first incarnation Luti-Kriss. Ever since then, the band has, with every record, developed a slightly more melodic and, somewhat, melodic metalcore sound. This album takes the most melodic sound of the band's more recent material and mixes it with the more aggressive and slightly frenetic nature of their first two releases.
It's very apparent that this is an angry record as soon as the second track begins, a short two and a half minute track called Anthem of The Angry Brides, fitting. This track in particular is fast and slightly technical, recalling the band's earlier work very well, the first track contained more of a melodic sound, but those two tracks can sort of give you an idea as to the combinations that this record contains, because those two tracks are probably some of the only tracks that stick to one side of their sound. This record, despite using two sounds that the band have already used, sounds fresh and, maybe not unique, but unlike anything the band have done before. The angry tracks on here are like fists to the face while the melodic songs are ones that have hooks that show the band's more post-hardcore influences, combined they work like a bridge between the two.
It can be said that this record contains not only some of the band's best songwriting, but also some of their best guitar playing. Tracks like A Media Friendly Turn For The Worse or Blood Burner has some great melodic harmonies, but also moves around with some angular sounding grooves that just get the blood pumping. Falling From The Sky: Day Seven also shows the band mellowing out into more subtle and almost ballad-esque territory. The Everlasting Tapeworm on the other hand demonstrated more use of subtle guitar textures in the background.
Overall, a very solid record that shows Norma Jean are still a band that is well worth liking even if you hate metalcore due to their constant push for change. This album has some of the band's most catchy and heaviest moments on it, so a win for all of their fans. If you like experimental metalcore that is not too heavy in modern metalcore, check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Bastardizer, A Media Friendly Turn For The Worse, The People That Surround You On A Daily Basis

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Raccomandata Con Ricevuta Di Ritorno - Il Pittore Volante

They're Back For Another Try.

Raccomandata Con Ricevuta Di Ritorno (or RRR) are a progressive rock group from Italy. The band originally formed in 1972 and released their one and only album, "Per… Un Mondo Di Cristallo," that same year. This album marks their return to playing under this group title again in over 30 years.
The music on here is done in a very dark way, not unlike their debut, but a bit more abstract maybe. Within the opening minutes of the album, the band combine hard rock, country, and more Western rhythms, but is done in a very modern sound. The production on here is just retro enough to give it that dusty feeling of old records, but modern enough to give everything a very up-to-date sound quality. There is a lot of different orchestration going on in any given track, so the production actually manages to give the record a very open sound.
The vocals are sung mostly in Italian, just to clear that up for those that don't know, but are done in an slightly offbeat kind of half-crooning/half-speaking way that makes it interesting. The female vocals that come in on a few tracks, most notably on the ballad Il Fuoco, also really spices up the vocals. Vocally, when the two sing together is when things get interesting and begin to sound even more unique.
The music on here is most likely what anyone listening to this album has come for though, lets be honest here. The album is varied in style throughout, like mentioned above, moving through elements of rock, 70's psyche/space rock, as well as bits of folk and jazz fusion as well. There is, for those that aren't aware, quite a bit of variety in instrumentation on here as well, everything from acoustic guitars, sitars, harmonicas, and saxophones. The track La Mente moves through some very outlandish sections making use of violins, crazy sax solos, and near it's finish, barking dogs and croaking frogs. While a good portion of this record is mellow and never really moves at a rockin' pace, the few songs that do rock, are solid and groovy tracks, hear opener Il Ñambiamento or Raoul.
Overall, this is a good and eclectic sounding record that gives a good sense at old-school prog rock done in a modern context. Definitely nothing mind blowing on here, but some really good Italian prog. If you like retro prog and psyche rock, this is one you have to hear this year.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Il Vecchio, La Mente, Raoul

Dekadent Aesthetix - Dekadent Aesthetix

The Mentally Challenged Working With The Depressives.

Dekadent Aesthetix is a post-black metal duo from Romania. The duo have roots in primitive black metal but have since evolved past that singular sound. This can be looked at as the debut release from the duo, as besides a some demo tracks, the only other release was a split album with depressive rock band Joyless.
As soon as the opening track, Audio Curse From Transylvania, ends, a gun is cocked and the real first track begins. This single track reveals that this is not just a depressive black metal duo, but a group that are willing to experiment with anything they can. Post-punk melodies push the track forward while sampling some rather odd movies, ones that I don't know about, while the real vocals are processed and soar above everything else.
Songs move through genres while keeping a dark and eerie vibe fluid throughout each passing track. Even when you have elements of post-punk, black metal, death metal, and classical music all mixed together, it doesn't loose the atmosphere. This is probably one of the few things that actually links this duo to the depressive or post-black metal scenes at all.
The genre switching puts the style more into that of avant-garde more than black metal, as the Ladytron cover of 17 is based, sonically, more in that of electronica than any sort of metal. There are more than a few points on this album, in both that cover and others, that the sound has an 80's synthe pop sound to it. There are still plenty of tracks that are heavy and maintain a black metal sound, but if you expect any track to maintain that style throughout it's entire course, you'd be mistaken. If you don't much care for the songs that delve into classical, post-punk, or electronica, songs like Shyny Morning and Whore Riflefuck have a more black metal/grindcore vibe to them and are much more intense and aggressive tracks.
It can be said that for outlandish some tracks are, they do work for the most part. There are several tracks that do veer into territory that doesn't really belong, such as chanting and animals sounds. These inclusions can serve as little more than annoyance and distraction from the album, and ultimately end up hurting the entire listen.
Overall, this is a strange album that can definitely be put into the avant-garde genre of metal. The vibe is most definitely black metal while the sound itself is certainly far from being simplistic or straightforward. If you like music that wanders around a lot, check this out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Suicide Hobby, Rock'n'Roll Machine, Incantatie

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cecilia::Eyes - Here Dead We Lie

Softly They Glide Across Your Eardrums.

Cecilia::Eyes are an instrumental post-rock group from Belgium. This the group's second full-length and continues their exploration with sonic soundscapes taken from indie, shoegaze, and prog rock. Their take involves a more relaxing listen rather than intellectual.
Like most post-rock bands and artists, what you'll find on this album are quiet and tranquil soundscapes that steadily build up with each passing minute. Textures of guitars and keys are used, creating a sound that is perhaps one of the more "ambient" I've heard on a record, without going into the actual ambient genre. This is probably better said in that the guitars can still be made out, the melodies and patterns as opposed to kind of laying back to the keyboards or transforming the guitar sound into a more ambient noise. There are also faint layers of distortion that I heard in a few places that did add to the build ups advantage.
The shorter songs on here do indeed showcase a bit more shoegaze sound in the band's style, mainly due to the use of more distortion. Slow guitar melodies still drift into atmosphere but the distortion manages to create just enough of a more punchy sound to glaze over the overall sound of the given track, For The Fallen. Perhaps it's even the atmosphere that is created that I find accents the ringing guitar notes more though, as the atmosphere still lingers when the guitars are not so present in the sound.
The piano that is used on tracks like The Departure and Fifty Years Under The Tent perfectly helps set a mood while still having a very constant atmosphere behind it to kind of maintain a certain vibe that carries from track to track. I found that the mood on this album was consistent throughout, never becoming too uplifting or too mournful, but steady and very revealing, almost meditative. Possibly the only song that I felt gave too much of an emotional attachment was the No Prayers, No Bells, No Homeland, which gave way to the heaviest moment on the album in the end, but still felt a bit too upbeat in comparison to other tracks.
Overall, this is a very good post-rock album that really does what, I personally, like post-rock albums to do, provide a more meditative experience. The soundscapes on here don't overwhelm the listener as much as they glaze through your body, providing a very tranquil feeling, to me anyway. If you like post-rock that dapples in shoegaze and ambient music than this is something to check out for sure.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Like Wolves, The Departure, Death For Treason

Hexenmeister - ...And Life In Insomnia

We Can't All Be Darkthrone Cover Bands.

Hexenmeister is an ambient black metal project from the Ukraine. Starting mainly as a demo, the project evolved into performing in a cover album for Ved Buens Ende, that cover is also on this full-length, and a split with Bergrizen. This debut, despite coming from a relatively large scene, manages to break away from the pack.
The scene in which the above was, or is, the depressive/ambient black metal scene that includes such big names as Trist and Deep-Pression. As mentioned, this is different from those bands in several ways, which might upset those that are passionate about that scene, but it still has more than a few moments of depressive sounds. If you're into that shrieking howls that are used as vocals in that scene, don't fret, that is the main vocal style on here.
Probably the most obvious difference between this and other depressive projects is in the production, it's not bad to put it bluntly. The production on here is much cleaner than on almost any other record from the Ukrainian depressive scene, none of the lo-fi, terrible recording sounds are on here. The vocals do take the role of being at the front of the sound, only surpassing the guitars, but every instrument has a clear presence on here.
Next, is the style in which Hexenmeister play, it's ambient black metal genre wise, but done in a much more avant-garde way. Black metal is the obvious demonstrated genre on here, but, like many other projects in the genre, utilize clean and/or acoustic guitars as well on here. The black metal, just as a side note, can actually live up to being called "black metal," due to faster sections being used quite often on here instead of slow, monotonous sections. It can also be said that there were actual riffs on here, memorable hooks, both acoustic and electric guitar, and occasionally bass lines, hear the title-track, A Life In Insomnia.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable release, as well as one of the most unique records I've ever heard come out from the Ukraine, besides Drudkh. For a scene that is so well based in lo-fi minimalism, this album strikes out against it. If you're a fan of experimental black metal, this is something you have to hear.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Melancholia Attonita, Hermitage, Where You Will Stop, and I'll Keep Falling

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lyzanxia - Locust

They Make What Others Do Seem Easy.

Lyzanxia is a french thrash/groove metal band. The band have steadily grown with each album, this being their fifth, and have become one of the most consistent bringers of modern thrash metal. Despite their growing profile, they are still very much an underground band thought.
The band's approach to writing music and creating a style involves a sound that, already mentioned puts them into the thrash and groove metal genres, but uses a lot of melody and never really goes too fast. The music on here is dynamic, it doesn't overwhelm with fast songs or riffs, but goes at a more mid-tempo approach and using some more melodic death metal influences at times, Separate World. There is also a lot more focus on catchy choruses on here, which is effective in a lot of songs, giving you quite a memorable hook to latch onto. This is probably Lyzanxia's most accessible release due to the use of more memorable melodies and choruses.
Vocalist/guitarist, David Potbin, has a different style of singing and screaming that could potentially turn some people off. He uses a style that involved shouting and a strained type of singing, often layered on top of each other, that feels a bit more unique than vocals that I've heard from the melodic death metal or thrash metal genres. The occasional growl is used on here as well, but sparingly throughout.
This record should be able to appease those that felt that two of the members joining industrial rock group One-Way Mirror on the side could have been the end of this band, but this release shows them at possibly their best. Though that project may have just been a way to stretch their creative muscles and bring in a new take to writing this album as there are several newer and/or fresh moments on here. Certain tracks on here use more textural synthes in the background or just focus on atmosphere, hear slower tracks like Mind Tracker or Hundred Story Moth.
Overall, this is an entertaining record that has a lot of solid tracks worthy of more than a few repeats. This isn't the most unique or technical thing out right now, but the art of songwriting is there and that is used effectively. If you like melodic and groovy thrash metal, check these guys out.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Under Lie, Parasitic Growth, SubHero Zero

Hesper Payne - Unclean Rituals

Those Dirty Old Men.

Herper Payne are a death/doom metal duo, trio live, from the UK. This is the debut full-length of this group, having previously released a compilation of demos and and EP beforehand. The band was originally formed by vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Brooke Johnson, and he has been the sole remaining member since the beginning due to several line-up changes.
The music on here is pretty much the epitome of death/doom metal, it sounds dirty, it's slow, and the vocals are brutal; but, with all that comes an almost quirky nature to this album, or band, where things are not as straightly performed as most groups or artists performing this style. The music has this weird angular style on here that takes the music into some weird territory, and the vocals are able to reflect that. If you were expecting something to be in the style of old Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride, you'll get a very outlandish version of that.
The music, as stated, is slow and at times morbid sounding, but the riffs are angular and at times do move into an almost sludge metal style, this is noticeable in Empty Emperor. The death metal comes in and out, as the music has more in common with the doom side, the occasional death metal riffs and low gurgles don't play into the sound as much as someone might think due to the tag placed on this group. The guitar playing on here does indeed capture a unique mood, unlike that of a lot of doom records I've heard, in that some spots actually managed to make me feel uncomfortable, even though I did indeed enjoy the song, hear the funeral doom track The Maiden and The Mariner.
The vocals on here are a bit more in the doom vein as well, sorry to disappoint those that were expecting the low gurgles and growls, though they are used, hear opener Hesper Payne. The vocals are very dramatic and at times, over the top in performance, very much in the vein of vocalists like Robert Lowe (Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus). The vocals aren't just the over dramatised because there's something inexplicably quirky about them as well, it might just be the tone in which the vocals are delivered. As the album progresses, the vocals seem to develop further into a traditional doom sound, just something that stuck me as a bit weird.
Overall, this was a very good album with very few moments that drag on. The more abstract take on this album really does make it stand out among many other artists put under the tag of death/doom. This is certainly a more obscure release, as the band are releasing it for free, so if you're into doom metal, and all of it's sub-genres, definitely check this one out.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Mirthless Dirge of The Toadstool Druid, Lord of The Green Abyss, Sarkless Kitty's Weeping

Download the album for free at this link:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier - Oblivia

We Told The Orchestra We Could Do It.

Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier are a violinist and pianist, respectively, duo. This is another record that the duo have released under John Zorn's Tzadik Record Label. From my knowledge of the duo's previous work, this is their second collaboration together.
The music, despite the fact that this is just two people and is, from what I can tell, done live in the studio, this is not just classical. This album moves through elements of jazz, classical, and avant-garde, sometimes all in the course of a single track. The music shifts around a lot, sometimes going very slow and haunting, sometimes wild and frantic sounding, so it's not as simple as what someone taking a violinist and pianist and putting them into a room might expect to hear, but then again, what else would you expect since it's coming out on John Zorn's record label.
Tracks on this record range from short, spastic minute long songs to epic pieces that seem more like the duo jamming. Depending on your view of jams on recording ultimately could effect how you even listen to this record, favorably or unfavorably, but that was probably obvious. Having said all this, I won't lie and tell you that I have any idea as to what's going on in some of these tracks, Oblivia De Oblivion.
I found this release a bit easier to grasp when I approached it as a single piece rather than smaller individual tracks, but that's just me. Whether or not this was composed as a single piece or not is unknown to me, but it certainly made the experience a bit more cohesive sounding, to me anyway. The album flowed a bit more for me when I did approach as a single piece, but single tracks still managed to feel a bit more fulfilling than others, both ways I kind of interpreted it, tracks like the finale, Sous Un Rêve Huileux or the second track, Dunes, still managed to sound better than others.
Overall this is an odd one, and maybe a bit out of the blue, but does have it's moments. This is not the most typical listen for me, but it did provide something different and at times, was very enjoyable. If you're into more abstract forms of classical music, definitely check this one out.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: Purveyors, Double Windsor, Sous Un Rêve Huileux

36 Crazyfists - Collisions and Castaways

If You Thought Their Last Record Was Good.

36 Crazyfists are a metalcore outfit from Alaska. They gained moderate success early on with their slightly heavy take on nu metal but have since evolved into a metalcore based sound. This is their fifth overall record and once again tries to sound cool with a now uncool sound.
First off, I had my share of flirtations with this group throughout their career, finding them being slightly intriguing or having a good hook here and there, but have been fairly disappointed by entire albums though. Their last album, 2008's "The Tide and Its Takers," I found myself leaning a bit more to the favorable side of the band, their sound make use of a tried metalcore sound, but with extremely effective hooks, this record I can't find so favorable. The first three records from the band I always saw as the band kind of being a mix of modern metalcore and their nu metal roots, but this is probably the band's most metalcore, and it falls short of any standard I would have ever put on this band.
The music on here is so, I hate to say it, pitifully generic and bland, it's almost painful to listen to. Multiple listens reveal no hidden details or anything new that isn't obvious on a first listen, which at times becomes almost tiring. The band rarely seem to explore new territory on here, staying in the core of actual mediocrity, I found myself actually drifting to sleep during certain songs, Anchors being the most notable point for me. Breakdowns are used numerous times on this record, while that in itself isn't the worst thing ever, it becomes tiring after about the third track.
Vocalist Brock Lindow has, in my opinion, always had a bit of a unique singing voice, maybe not the most melodic or technically great, but different enough to set him apart from others. This album turns his voice into possibly one of the worst I've heard in a long time, or that I've forced myself to sit through, his singing voice is underused on this album, while his usual decent growl/roar is now a high pitched scream. This scream is used throughout the album and serves as a constant ear piercer, sounding like some random scene kid picked up a mic and started screaming into it, tracks like Mercy and Grace and The Deserter are especially annoying.
Overall, I found this to be an extremely boring and very generic album. No disrespect to any fans of this band, but this is far from even putting on once in a while, I heard it several times, and have only grown increasingly angry at myself for each repeated listen. If you're a fan of the band you'll probably listen or check this out regardless of my opinion, but otherwise, stay away.
Overall Score: 2
Highlights: In The Midnights, Trenches, Caving In Spirals

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ion Dissonance - Cursed

Well They Certainly Aren't Blessed.

Ion Dissonance are a tech metal/mathcore group from Canada. The band originally formed around 2001 and were praised for their almost Dillinger Escape Plan approach to music, in a technical aspect. Their 2007, "Minus The Herd," turned many off due to the change in direction and including more grooves in songs, after a short hiatus, the band have returned with this album.
For anyone that enjoyed those elements of groove that were present on the last album, this album will disappoint you. As soon as You People Are Messed Up begins, you are hit with an instant surge of technical and spastic sounding riffs that are just filled to the brink with some sort of adrenaline. Despite being a technical explosion, I guessing they're using 8-string guitars here, the low end is just so powerful that it does cut through even the more frenzied moments.There are still moments of breakdowns on here though, or moments that are similar to them, so if you wanted that -core element to still be in here, you can still mosh.
The vocals on here still recall that -core sound as well on here as well, which at times can be the only drawback on a given track. There are times where the music is just punishing and crushing, but the vocals don't really provide that same brutality, but that's all perspective. One thing that can be said for the vocals though is that they sound pissed and angry for sure, no one on here is trying to act tough, this sounds real.
A lot of the songs on here are short and fast, be sure that things rarely slow down on here, a good portion of the tracks on here are under three minutes. With such short song lengths and the intensity on every song, it can become a bit difficult to tell the difference between one song and another as the record progresses, some of the shorter songs especially are hard to pick out. If you can approach this record with the intent of not finding something that is uber catchy or melodic, if you're being short sighted about it, then you can find an intense record that will surely give you that rush you want. Possibly the only song that comes close to having melody in it is the album closer, Pallor, where the music is simpler and more groovy, and at times, even atmospheric, even going so far to include clean vocals as well.
Overall, this is one of the heaviest and spastic record I've heard all year. Very little has come this close to pure aggressive and percussive, at times, for an entire record. If you want a record that is like a fist in the face and full of technical ecstasy that you could only get from early Dillinger Escape Plan record, this is for you.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: This Is The Last Time I Repeat Myself, This Is Considered A Mere Formality, Pallor