Eindhoven Metal Meeting 2016 – Part I

Mayhem, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

As the world was setting up for Christmas, De Effenaar Eindhoven hosted the European metal scene’s unofficial office Christmas party known as Eindhoven Metal Meeting. With some heavy hitters on the bill, 2016’s edition of EMM was shaping up to be one for the ages. Continue reading

Stick To Your Guns – Better Ash Than Dust

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Stick To Your Guns are back, baby! The Orange County-bred hardcore outfit returned to the studio for a 5 song EP and, boy, were they angry when they did. The opening track, the eponymous Better Ash Than Dust (Pure Noise Records), opens with the line “The fire burns…”, immediately setting the sentiment of the EP straight for the listener. Vocalist Jesse Barnett is not in agreement with society and he wants you to know he has had enough. The vitriolic screams are pleasantly intercut with more open, melodic, clean compositions. Continue reading

Noctem – Haeresis

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Spanish extreme black metal group Noctem do NOT mess around. With this year’s release of Haeresis, the band leaves no page unturned. No frilly intro, no soundscaping, and no gently easing into the album; it starts fast, heavy and loud. The band’s bandcamp tells us that the album was recorded by Tore Stjerna of Necromorbus Studio, who have also recorded material for Watain and Tribulation. Continue reading

Die Young – No Illusions

 

die young cover ghostcultmag

Everything is bigger in Texas,” the saying goes. Now, I don’t know about the size of the gentlemen of Texas outfit Die Young, but what I do know is that they are not messing around. As no-nonsense as their message, their newest effort No Illusions (Good Fight Music) starts off swinging a few fists. With their Bolt Thrower-like mix of hardcore and thrash, they take no prisoners.

Before reforming and dropping the record, the band released the single ‘Providence’. In an interview, vocalist Daniel Albaugh said that ‘Providence’ is about preferring a chaotic universe to a universe led by one – sadistic, according to the Old Testament and Albaugh – God. The rest of the record also points to a very anti-theistic message, from the title of the album (No Illusions) to songs like the very sarcastically titled ‘God’s Promises’.

The song Providence itself, in terms of sound, is very reminiscent of a young Hatebreed. Aggressive, no-nonsense, no fancy riffs, just honest hardcore. The slowed-down intro gets the listener amped up for the violence yet to come. With a commanding shout they kick the song into a higher gear, ready to fire up a mean mosh pit.

After ‘Providence’ the album barrels on like a semi-truck, floating between almost Slayer-like thrash and classic Knuckledust-, Blood For Blood-style hardcore. In some songs, like ‘I Repent’, they mix the thumping hardcore backing, with a warp-speed thrash metal shred solo. The two genres go together quite nicely, forming an audio barrage of pure aggression.

However, No Illusions does not really stand out for me. Most of the songs are quite interchangeable, and I have a feeling I’ve heard most of them before. It is a solid record, with solid riffs and a solid sound, but it does not manage to surprise the listener. The songs are good for throwing a beer or two and running into the pit, guns blazing, but it does not really have any memorable hooks or riffs.

6.0/10

SAM C.A. VAN DE LEUR

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Baptism – V: The Devil’s Fire

Baptism – V The Devil’s Fire album cover ghostcultmag

After four long years of waiting, the Finnish black metal troubadours Baptism have finally regaled us with a new album; V: The Devil’s Fire (Season of Mist). Their newest effort follows their 2012 release As Darkness Enters.

From the very start of the record, the production is a pleasant surprise. Whereas most black metal bands seek the “trve kvlt” sound of low-fi recordings, this albums benefits from a very crisp and clear sound. Every instrument has its own place in the aural painting and the vocals are nestled in quite nicely.

Next to the tremolo-picked chords, the blast beats in triplets, and the Abbath-like growling vocals – all must-haves in black metal – Baptism also ventures into very melodic (almost post-black) sections with original chord progressions, which give you a moment to breathe between the old school black pummeling. The song ‘The Sacrament Of Blood And Ash’ introduces the melodic meandering to the listener quite well, with the help of the death/doom outfit Swallow the Sun’s vocalist Mikko Kotamäki. Mr. Kotamäki’s haunting vocals compliment the first gloomy respite of the album very nicely. His vocals complete the gloomy, weary, almost desperate atmosphere of the instrumentation.

Moving ever further down the line, ‘Abyss’ and ‘Cold Eternity’ further explore another venture away from the traditional black metal sound. Earlier on in the album Baptism already hints at a Pagan influence in their songwriting, which comes to true fruition in these two songs. The arrangements, very reminiscent of England’s Winterfylleth, project vivid mental images of veteran pagan warriors contemplating their battles and losses, and the feeling one gets when aimlessly wandering around ancient forests.

All in all, Baptisms fifth studio release is a solid black metal bastion, with a fresh twist. Purists might argue that it is not “black enough”, but for a casual of curious listener it is a very solid record. Most importantly, the reason I did not single out any band member in particular, is that the band sounds like a unified front. A solid record by a solid band.

7.5/10

SAM C.A. VAN DE LEUR

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