Sad news to pass on as Thrash Metal legend Jason Rainey, a founding member of Sacred Reich has died. Jason was just 53. He died of a heart attack on the night of March 16th and was reported to the world in a Facebook post by his wife and later his former band. As the co-founder and rhythm guitarist of Sacred Reich, the classic second wave of thrash metal band is essential to the genre. Rainy co-wrote several songs on their early essential releases Igonarance, The American Way, Surf Nicaragua EP, Independent, Heal, and the live album Still Ignorant. Rainey was dismissed from the band in 2019 due to health issues and he was apparently embittered about the split. Rainey had also been a tour manager and guitar tech in his career. We send our condolences out Jason’s, family, friends, and fans at this time. Continue reading
Despite their stateside sounding name Lonely Dakota are a British quartet who formed at the tail end of 2015. With a few lineup changes and singles in between, including 2018s ‘Dead Stories’, this year saw the release of their debut EP End of Days (Self-Released) – serving up the kind of Post-Grunge that Shinedown and Seether built a career on. The plaintive melody and general melancholic aura of opening track ‘Victoria’ sets the tone for this five-track offering, emotive Hard Rock with radio-friendly sensibilities and a nagging sense of deja vu. Continue reading
Despite a heavy music scene that is abundant in talent, not many of India’s Metal bands have appeared on the radar outside of their native country. Aside from the likes of Demonic Resurrection especially, Bhayanak Maut and (although more an international band) Skyharbor, India’s Metal scene is still a hidden entity to many on the outside. With a formidable live presence and with an exciting debut full length in Miasma (self-released), if there is any justice, Mathcore mentalists Orchid should be poised to be the scene’s next breakout. Continue reading
Seeming to be a relatively unknown entity, Kansas based post-Metallers A Light Within has developed a small cult following over the course of two previous, strong releases. The closing piece of their linked trilogy, latest EP Epilogue (all self-released) takes all the foundations they built before and closes it with significant levels of improvement, and a new found production level (mixing courtesy of Acle Kahney of TesseracT fame) which shows a heightened ambition. Continue reading
Across a four-album lifespan, Bay Area’s Cormorant had consistently proven to be one of metal’s true and brightest hidden gems, offering a branch of Black Metal which takes as much worship from progressive giants such as King Crimson as it does from Extreme Metal’s icons. Still independent to this day, Cormorant have always showcased a meticulous detail that encompasses not only their rich and textured music, but even down to their vibrant, detailed and often awe-inspiring artwork. Having always shown true forward thinking and near limitless artistry, it is simply staggering that their fifth release Diaspora (self-released) breaks their mould even further, and is without a doubt their boldest offering to date. Continue reading
Since Kiefer Sutherland’s piercing, well, I was going to say eyes but let’s go with teeth, made rock chicks around the world swoon and crick their necks to be bitten, vampires and rock/metal have been more than bedfellows, with both aesthetics, lyrics, band names and even subgenres and scenes entwined. Cradle of Filth blew up by cleverly playing the vampire game (no, not ‘I Vant To Bite Your Finger’), Atreyu resurrected the spirit of the Old Ones in their ascension, Korn temporarily buried their career by associating themselves with the Queen of the Damned, even the hippest of the underground, Tribulation, danced with the children of the night earlier this year, Manowar penned one of their best songs (‘Each Dawn I Die’) in honour of the sleepless, and let us not forget Aiden, the dumb bastard black (formaldehyde) sheep of the flock…
And so Saint[The]Sinner have exhumed a classic, pale theme for their sprightly, theatrical pop-rock meets post-hardcore, and it’s a cape they wear well as, with a flourish, they swoop down on ‘Theatre Of Broken Dreams’ haunted house intro and sink their incisors into a vibrant, hurtling, fast paced metalcore lead off track to new EP Masquerades (self-released). As twin vocals trade-off, the throatier screams give way to an engaging, welcoming chorus and a pattern is set.
Keeping energy levels up throughout is one boon of Masquerades, a Premier League production is another, allowing the endearing and vigorous song-writing to flourish and (widow’s) peaks to peak. With the clean vocals adding an off-centre Panic! At The Disco feel to their arsenal, particularly on lead single ‘She’s A Vampire’, it’s a welcome addition to the heady mix of AFI, Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold and Dommin that is sure to see the band on a steep upward trajectory their burgeoning and bloody talents deserve.
The camp horror theme is a cute touch, but don’t let it detract from the fact that the English South Coast crew have summoned forth a beastly set of strong, gratifying, grin-inducing tunes. Saint[The]Sinner have hit the mix right on the money; whether it’s clean or scream on the vocals, it’s all about being dramatic and leaving those hooks in you, as fangs lock into your flesh and notable melodies are injected like venom into the bloodstream in a way that reminds you that, you know what, sometimes this metal thing is about energy and fun, and each track sounds like it was a (monster’s) ball in the creating.
It’s hardly a new observation, but one of the many effects of the home-production/internet release revolution was to completely change the expectations of what we can reasonably expect from a band at the stage of putting out their first album. There are many reasons to celebrate the death of the system by which labels were the sole gatekeepers of the power to record, but one thing we’ve arguably lost is the filter which used to block many amateur or poorly-conceived outings before they hit the studio.
Which makes it even more satisfying when a début album arrives so well-formed.
Every aspect of Fractal Generator’s aesthetic – from the name to their white lab-coats – tells us that this is that engagingly awkward nerd hybrid Science Fiction Death Metal. There are significant nods to Wormed and The Faceless in their sound, touches of first-album Cynic and even the odd distorted riff that Meshuggah would be happy with, but they’ve already started combining them into their own sound.
Apotheosynthis (Independent) doesn’t sound like the first self-released fumblings of a band who’ve skipped past the old gate-keepers and jumped straight to the album stage. One of the first things to catch your attention here is just how tight the performances are – a blinding blur of taut riffing, thunderous blasts and well-executed keyboard work exhibit a band with total confidence in their chosen style. They know what they’re doing, too, never allowing the more esoteric expanses of their sound to detract from the central task of writing powerful, urgent Death Metal.
Apotheosynthesis isn’t without its flaws, of course. It’s arguably longer than it needs to be, losing some of its momentum in the last ten-to-fifteen minutes, and though the production is crisp and crunchy it sometimes relegates the keyboards and spacey noises to sonic garnish, burying some of the atmospherics that the band are aiming for. For a self-released début, however, it’s an absolute revelation, and leaves behind several of the year’s more established Death Metal releases in its wake. Fractal Generator are not simply a band it’s worth keeping an eye on in the future, but one who deserve your attention right now.
For all the talk of sophisticated song structures, syncopated rhythms and harmonised vocalising that can often dominate reviews of records nowadays, sometimes it’s just nice to sit back, relax and be absolutely pummelled into submission by an album that is considerably more metal than you. Architects of the Void (independent/self-released), the third album from doom metallers Behold! the Monolith (no, I have no idea why they dispensed with the rules of grammar either) is one such record.
Upon first listen, Architects of the Void appears to eschew anything that would remotely suggest a lightness of touch. It arrives as the sort of record that is unapologetic in its roots and sense of self; belligerent in its execution and resolutely single-minded with how it brings a smile to your face and a crick to your neck.
Upon repeated listens however, the album reveals a much richer palette of sounds and creative touches; there is an undoubted progressive sensibility at play here – whether in the blending of musical styles (admittedly from the far left of the heaviness range) or in the playful riffing and energised pounding that comes from an understanding that, as listeners, we want this music to move us. And moves it does.
The doom metal architecture of ‘Lord of Bones’ is gloriously sludgy, there is a heft and glowering to ‘Philosopher’s Blade’, and the extended, rhythmical menace to the title track is absolutely beguiling. In fact, the entire enterprise is imbued with that sort of glorious, we-know-exactly-what-we-are-doing-and-we-are-having-a-marvellous-time-whilst-we-are-doing-it schtick that will have you running around your abode looking for a cap, proverbial or otherwise, to doff at them.
Monolith’s journey to this agreeable space might have come from digesting quite a lot of Mastodon records but that is hardly a bad thing. In fact, on ‘The Mithriditist’, it is demonstrated with a combination of power, precision and panache. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then this is something akin to a love letter.
Architects of the Void is the sort of record that you could easily pass by such is the vying for competition in today’s musical marketplace; please don’t. It’s inventive, passionate and as heavy as you could possibly wish for. Do you need any more than that? No, no you don’t.
Sometimes a band shifts out from under you when your back is turned. The last time I really paid attention to Krallice – on their 2009 second album Dimensional Bleedthrough (Profound Lore) – they played a style of modern, distinctly un-necro Black Metal characterised by vast, otherworldly ambience and broken, alien riffing; fiercely technical, but also rooted firmly in atmospherics and the desire to transport the listener somewhere different.
Six years later, they’ve somehow managed to shift sideways while remaining broadly in the same place. The basic components of their sound – yelped vocals, broken dissonant riffs and rapid-fire picking – are still recognisable, but used to achieve a very different effect. The transcendent, other-worldly qualities of their first two albums has been replaced by something much more mundane and earthly. Their musical links to Black Metal (always somewhat controversial among the panda-faced orthodox) are now almost completely absent, their song-writing now rooted more firmly in Noisecore, or whatever it calls itself these days. Fellow New Yorkers Pyrrhon come to mind on several occasions, but the comparison is not a favourable one – where Pyrrhon rage and howl and storm against the urban madness of modern culture, Krallice don’t seem to conjure any emotional response beyond Look How Many Different Notes I Can Play.
At its best Ygg Hurr (Independent) can coalesce into something that combines both technical complexity and savage groove, but more often than not it collapses into a swarm of dissonant riffing with very little behind it. The vocals, perfectly effective when Krallice were searching the stars for alien worlds, also seem ill-suited to the bands more compact, technical style. Where someone like Doug Moore takes his voice on a trip every bit as convoluted and challenging as the music, Krallice’s vocals just screech along regardless of what’s happening around them.
Though in every meaningful way a hugely impressive achievement, Ygg Hurr feels like a triumph of technicality over character, a band who left behind who they used to be and haven’t yet decided who they’re going to be next. The playing is, of course, absolutely beyond fault, and those seeking technicality and virtuosity for its own sake will definitely find something worth listening to, but anyone else will find it hard to shake the feeling of a wasted opportunity.
You can find out a lot about a band simply from their name. Take Hiraeth for example: Hiraeth is a Welsh word which has no direct English translation. The University of Wales has described it as ‘homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the departed’, as well as a mixture of ‘longing, yearning and nostalgia’. With such a unique and interesting band name, it is clear from the beginning that there is something different about them. Their debut EP The World Ends With You is self-released, and they have recently finished their first UK tour with Black Polaris and wars.
Opening track ‘Words To Echo’ opens with a simplistic and distorted guitar riff, proving their melodic hardcore roots instantly. Lead vocalist Charlie Clayton demands your attention from the get go, using his harsh vocals to enhance the emotion-filled lyrics. ‘Barely Breathing’ kicks up the pace, proving that Hiraeth are not just a one trick pony. The song features William Alex Young from Clockwork, and their different vocal styles fuse together perfectly.
There is something almost reminiscent about Hiraeth: they are able to use all of the previously successful melodic hardcore techniques to a high standard. The World Ends With You is an easy EP to listen to, and if you like melodic hardcore then there is no reason why you would not enjoy this band. For a first EP it is impressive, however, it would be great to hear how their sound develops in time and find out what will make them stand out from the thousands of other bands on the UK underground scene at the moment.