Ah, yes, Yellow Eye’s Rare Field Ceiling (Gilead Media), the kind of metal album that asks its listeners if they’ve ever wondered what it would be like to clean out their ears with steel wool. It’s the type of gritty and unhinged music that one plays when you really want to let your neighbors and relatives know that you are indeed collaborating with the dark ones. What would it feel like to have a rabid wolverine give you a back massage? Probably a bit like Rare Field Ceiling. Continue reading
The Death, Thrash Metal act, Sinners Bleed caused a stir in the scene when they started out in the late nineties. Hailing from Berlin, this group of guys conjured a unique combination of speed and melody. Though they perked a lot of ears, life happened and the band had to take a step back from their fiery work. After a lengthy hiatus, they are now back and ready to release their second full-length album, Absolution (War Anthem Records). Even after being away for a while, Sinners Bleed has not missed a beat in their noteworthy, aggressive sound. Continue reading
Ok, laying my cards down on the table. I, Hans Lopez, fully admit that I don’t think I’ve encountered a Vader release that I didn’t enjoy. The way they combine brutal riffs, mind-flaying solos, and Nürburgring speeds just totally speaks my musical language. It’s the reason I’m willing to die on the sword for Slayer or will always go to bat for classic Sepultura. I’m a man of simple tastes. Continue reading
I can’t help but wonder if Theories’ practice room is to be treated like a hard hat area. The bleak album art for Vessel (Corpse Flower Records) should’ve been enough to alert me of what awaited, but I had to hit that play button. After the initial pummeling of ‘Human Vessel Cell’ I clearly understood that everything Theories does is designed with lethal intentions in mind. If you’re looking for melody, clean guitars or strict adherence to speed limits you can show yourself the door right about now. What Theories is serving up is not for the fair-weather Hard Rock fan. Continue reading
The Dutch Death Metal act, Sisters Of Suffocation stirred the scene when they released their EP, Brutal Queen (Hammerheart Records) back in 2014. Young and female, SoS was determined to defy stereotypes by making their sound ruthless and unique. Their sophomore album, Humans Are Broken (Napalm Records) continues to carry this conviction and delivers something rather riveting. Continue reading
It has been a decade now since I first saw A Forest Of Stars at their debut gig in Leeds, and they’ve always occupied a special place for me in music since then. They mash-up progressive Black Metal with a folky presence and wrap it up within a steampunk inspired Victorian based package. What results from this can sometimes be a little hit and miss, but generally contains many objects of wonder. Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes, marks their third full length released on Prophecy Productions. Continue reading
On paper, The Stone aren’t particularly cult. They hail from Belgrade, Serbia, not the frozen mountains of Norway, they mix elements of Death and Thrash metal into their sound and worst of all, their new album Nekroza (Folter), the Serbian quintet’s 7th album (8th including one under Stone to Flesh moniker) has decent production values. Clocking in at around 55 minutes, it is a solid piece of modern black metal. As well as the genre necessities of blast beats, punk riffs and guttural screams, The Stone mix it up with other influences. There’s traces of thrash, death metal reminiscent of Behemoth, and moments even bring to mind early Motörhead records.
Opener ‘Kamenolom’ begins with an ominous soundtrack of horns before the blast beats burst in. But this isn’t a relentless dirge, there are constant subtle shifts in the riffs and tempo. It’s still raw, heavy and oppressive in a way that only Black metal can be, but has a real energy permeating throughout every track. There’s plenty of hammering brutality, but it’s tempered with more intricate and ambitious rhythms.
Vocalist Nefas’ throaty screams combine with ominous yet aggressive guitar work from Kozeljnik & Demonetras. One of the most surprising elements of the band’s sound are the excellent solos dotted throughout the record; ‘Košmar,’ ‘Sunovrat’ and ‘Crno Zrno’ are all graced with some searing and melodic guitar flourishes.
While there’s plenty of variety in terms of pace, there’s nary a dull moment. The likes of ‘Pesimizam’, ‘Dani Crni’ and ‘Lov na veštice’ are all quality, while the epic, thudding ‘Mrak’ slowly builds from a snail’s piece to all out thunder, complete with melodic solos. But the seven-minute title track is probably the highlight, bringing together the different elements of the band’s sound into one melting pot.
The Stone may not be regarded on the same level as Dimmu Borgir or Satyricon, but on the strength of this record they should be. Mixing the crushing with the melodic in a way you don’t often hear, Nekroza is easily one of the most enjoyably Black metal albums of the year.
Ukrainian Black metallers Blood of Kingu are back with a new album, Dark Star on the Right Horn of the Crescent Moon (Season of Mist). It’s the third full length from the Babylonian-themed quintet, and continues in a similar vein to their previous efforts; black, bleak and unrelenting.
Led by Drudkh’s Roman Saenko, Blood of Kingu follow all the expectations of a proper black metal band; long song titles, blast beat, indecipherable lyrics and buzzsaw riffing. It’s pretty relentless stuff, full of dark atmosphere. And, unlike many records in the genre, Dark Star on the Right Horn of the Crescent Moon boasts some decent production values.
Opening with ‘Crowned Scarlet Moon Is Waiting for Eclipse,’ we’re given five minutes of pure blast beat fury, demonic vocals and endless abrasive riffing. It’s a good opening, managing to summon some really bleak and grim sounds. However, despite the promising opening, the album never really goes anywhere interesting. All the songs are samey and repetitive and there’s never any deviation from tried and tested formulas. The two ambient interludes really add to the eeriness of it all, before it returns to the standard blast beating fare.
For those who like their metal as Kvlt as possible, Blood of Kingu offer all the right genre tropes. For anyone who likes to see Black metal pushing the boundaries however, Dark Star on the Right Horn of the Crescent Moon offers little fresh or interesting.
Boston is well known for a bar where everybody knows your name. Worcester has a bar where not everyone knows you, but everyone knows if you are there, you probably love metal. Except one guy in a suit and tie, there with his date. I think they showed up by accident. Anycase, Metal Thursdays’ at Ralph’s Rock Diner is a local institution as an semi-intimate place to catch a show, and one I have partaken in too few times, living closer to Boston proper myself. Still, it was worth the trek out there to see a ton of cool friends (and some of the Ghost Cult crew such as Wren Leader and Hillarie Jason) to see Chicago’s Immortal Bird and some other killer bands as such a cool place.
Grue opened up the night with their evil sounding, mystery laden black metal set. Setting the mood just right, with a two-man affair, monks cloaks, and eerie sounds. From the start they barely spoke to the crowd, and just bludgeoned all in attendance with their songs; that’s how you do it right, folks! Precise beats dropped and blasts fell and shifted with interesting, uncomfortable tempo changes. The articulate rasp of the vocalist could rot the hearts of the kvltist of man, or woman. The guitars went back and forth from melodious and really catchy, to a sickening crust. Their songs were varied and their writing was much more mature than I expected, making me beam. Absolutely terrific, I became an instant fan. This is clearly a band on the rise in USBM circles, and I need to catch up on their new album Casualty of the Psychic Wars (Eternal Death Records), like yesterday.
Cryostasium was next and they are an interesting prospect, at first. They have a lot of releases out under this moniker, have been around over 15 years. Their combination of Neurosis sludge, avant-garde noise, and post-metal, post-hardcore heaviness is usually right up my alley. Unfortunately, even pulling in all of those influences together, requires a certain mastery these guys seem to lack. They were a little all over the place stylistically, and as a result some of the songs went from experimental to nonsensical quickly. Still, I liked where they fit in on this bill and I gave them every chance to win me over. Then at the end of the set the front man ragged out his band mates on the mic for continuing to play, after he thought the set should have ended. A total non-pro move. No excuses, just lameness. I was glad they were done at this point.
Immortal Bird went on third on this bill and the crowd was sufficiently amped. Front woman Rae Amitay (Thrawsunblat) attended nearby Berklee College of Music, so this show had a homecoming vibe of sorts. As the band began playing, I spied Rae off-stage, psyching herself up for what was to come, and readying for battle. When she finally jumped on the mic, the gruesome voice that sprang from her came from a truly primal place. Playing their harrowing songs full of equal parts blacked doom-grind and terror-inspiring death metal, the band pummeled away at their short, tight set. The songs came off of their excellent new EP Akrasia (Closed Casket Recordings), and the set had no filler, no jokes, and no covers. None were needed as it was straight to business. Rae prowled the stage, at times in-between vocal lines, looking pensive and calm; later giving way to more anguished expressions, and screams. She has a very clear growling voice and shows off cool technique for the lowest lows; never rushing herself or running out of air. The band was killer, highlighted by the crushing style of touring drummer Garry Naples (November’s Doom) in place of Rae herself, who played drums on the album. Bassist John Picillo’s killer tone and deft lines held it down, while touring guitarist Ryan Bruchert of Trials filled in admirably as well. Whether it was rabid riffs of ‘Ashen Scabland’ or the gruff bombast of ‘The Pseudoscientist’, this band slays live. Wren Leader even dubbed them blackened tech death, which I think is appropriate.As the outro of the latter track heard Naples bash away with abandon on some of the best power grooves I’ve heard in an age or two, I couldn’t come away more impressed.
Obsidian Tongue has almost become a black metal institution in these parts. Their brand of painstakingly crafted psychedelic influenced black metal has seen them become a fixture in the local scene and has garnered them fans in the underground USBM scene far and wide. Not only did they open for Agalloch when they played here, John Haughm made a guest appearance on their last album! That shows the kind of talent these guys have and why they deserve your respect. It’s takes a Sherpa-like patience to absorb their music, but that is also its reward. Guitarist/vocalist Brendan James Hayter and drummer Greg Murphy have a flair for the dramatic, but they can be heavy as hell too. Like a mosaic, their songs come together a piece at a time, creating a whole, only understood when its all over. Triumphant is another word I would use for this bands music too, as all kinds of feelings come to in the course of a set. ‘Into The Heart of Night’ is still my favorite song by the band, with its many changes and twists. Folk, black metal, thrash, doom, and even some slight power metal influences can be heard in about 10 minutes time. The thing is, with the long, complex structures, the songs somehow stay fresh and never feel over-wrought. At times vocally Hayter will remind you of Heri Joenson of Týr or his former band mate, the late David Gold from Woods of Ypres with his dynamic baritone voice contrasting his shrieks and howls. Murphy is an unbelievable drummer, who matches Hayter musically and emotionally with his drums. Their hour long set closed out the long night of metal in style.
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Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes