Archive for July, 2015


Austria’s Deathstorm are just one of those bands that comes along with a short, sharp kick to the jewels. ‘The Gallows EP is just that, and showcases their ability to thrash like a motherfucker.

‘Consummate Horror’ comes spiralling in with wailing guitar before taking off with a vintage Germanic thrash sound, replete with smashing drums and a rasping, shrieking vocal that is just classic Sodom. Then it becomes something special, with an great spacious melodic section before a crazed solo takes us to the conclusion. ‘From Oblivion’ is a rampant, razor shot to the head, vicious and straight to the point. It’s thrillingly visceral, and contrasts nicely with some of the other moments on the EP, like the classy harmonies at the start of ‘Burial Ritual’.

There’s a lot of variety on this hsort EP, which helps makes it feel even more impressive. A lot of thrash bands can come across as one dimensional, where Deathstorm succeed by mixing it up a bit. Great riffwork and a refreshing vitality makes ‘The Gallows’ a pleasant surprise.

Fear Factory - Genexus

Fear Factory have been, and probably will be, one of the bands that changed my perception of heavy music. When I was a kid, it was all Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit. Then one night I saw the video for ‘Linchpin’ on Kerrang and it blew my mind. I loved the cold, industrial thud, the razor sharp riffs and the machine gun double kicks that FF brought to my table. Their early work is wildly influential, and although their later output varies from very average (Transgression) to sublime (Mechanize), I always look forward to a new Fear Factory record.

After 2013’s ‘The Industrialist’, which I didn’t give as much time to as I’d wanted to, ‘Genexus’ has a lot to live up to. As ‘Autonomous Combat System’ kicks in, all the traditional Fear Factory tropes are there. The stop start razorblade riffing of Dino Cazares, the relentless drumming of Mike Heller and the instantly recognisable roar of Burton C Bell. Everything they do is instantly recognisable. The band know what they do well and stick to said formula. So does that still cut it these days? Take lead single ‘Dielectric’, or the super heavy ‘Anodized’ as examples. The latter contains the album’s finest soaring chorus, with Bell’s vast clean vocals a highlight. ‘Dielectric’ could be a cut from ‘Digimortal’, but ramped up to eleven.

‘Soul Hacker’ is a choppy and strangely addictive tune, that worms its way into your mind and won’t leave. ‘Protomech’ is urgent in its release, filling the double kick quota for about three albums in just shy of five minutes. The title track combines lashings of melodies with a thunderously heavy delivery. ‘Regenerate’ has that same glorious feeling that ‘Resurrection’ brought us back in 1998. ‘Genexus’ feels in parts like Fear Factory combining all their finest moments into one record.

The real question is how relevant is a new Fear Factory album in this modern age of metal? Their sound is no longer as cutting edge as it was 15 years ago, with so many bands ripping off their cold, industrialised death metal. Listening to ‘Genexus’ makes me realise how many djent bands have an unwitting debt to Fear Factory too. But for me, there’s no one that pulls it off as well as them, and ‘Genexus’ is another stellar example of when an older, influential band get back to the drawing board and show the young pups how to slay. The magic of the Bell/Cazares double act strikes again, and ‘Genexus fits right into their discography comfortably.

Displaying Majesty in Ruin demo.png

Majesty in Ruin are a two man, epic melodic doom outfit from Florida, and come to me just as I’m TOTALLY in the mood for this kind of music. After Sorrows Path brought me back to a love of Candlemass, Majesty in Ruin have now added themselves to my highlights reel for this week.

‘All Lights Shall Fade’ is three tracks of rich doom with some great riffs, a nice thick production adding that murky atmosphere and a soaring vocal that hits the spot. First track ‘Mother of Desire’ is a lumbering behemoth of a track, with a grandiose vocal performance by Rich McCoy, whose Messiah Marcolin/Rob Lowe style of vocals captures the spirit of the genre just right.

The guitarwork is ace, combining some great galloping riffs with some uber melodic soloing and a gritty stomp that’ll satisfy the gnarliest of battlejacket-clad doomsters. Lead guitarwork is provided by Greg Diener of Pale Divine, overlaying a lynchpin rhythm performance.The result is a soaring, ultra-epic fist to the sky collection of doom anthems, all courted by the powerful baritone of McCoy. Be it the crawling majesty of ‘The Lamp of Invisible Light’, or the looming, hefty misery of ‘Remembrance’, Majesty in Ruin are definitely a band to keep an eye on. These guys may just be the usurpers of Candlemass’s throne. Feel the hammer of doom!






Sorrows Path - Doom Philosophy

Now, I’ve listened to a lot of doom in my time. So when you come across a record entitled ‘Doom Philosophy’, you raise a sceptical eyebrow and look further. Sorrows Path are a Greek band who were formed way back in 93, but were on hiatus from 98-05 after some demo releases. ‘Doom Philosophy’ is their second record since their comeback, and is just shy of an hour of gloomy metal tunes.

First track proper ‘Tragedy’ feels almost like a gloomy trad metal song, like Candlemass crossed with Maiden almost. This kind of power metal influence runs throughout the whole album, and gives Sorrows Path this unique sound. It’s not a mix you’d ever expect to work, but here it does. The band work this uber melodic metal sound with aplomb, combining with a melancholic darkness synonymous with more traditional doom. The genuinely closest comparison I can feel is Candlemass, but more melodic and more upbeat. Vocalist Angelos Ioannidis has a rich voice with a great ‘doom’ tone to it, that adds a gravitas to a song like ‘A Dance With the Dead’, which oozes a Septicflesh feeling in parts too.

‘Doom Philosophy’ has some fantastic songs on it. Sorrows Path may be a lot more lively than many doom bands, but there’s a permeating sense of gloom about the tracks. The guitarwork is stellar, but the riffs don’t have that satisfying thick crunch that a lot of doom has. Personally a bit heavier would have done me better, but I definitely can’t fault Sorrows Path for trodding their own way. I’d rather that then have them lost amongst every sub par doom clone. Plus, I’d have never heard the theatrical stomp of ‘Everything Can Change’ featuring Snowy Shaw, which is probably my favourite track here.

While avoiding the main pitfalls of doom metal (relentless repeating boring riffs, thinking the slower the better is law etc etc), Sorrows Path cut a new direction for melodic doom. Candlemass may have invented the term ‘epic melodic doom’, but they were really meaning stuff like this. ‘Doom Philosophy’ is a monster of a record, full of classy songwriting, great riffing and a rich, full vcal performance.


Richmond, Virginia’s own Bearstorm (cracking name) have given us their first record on Grimoire Records entitled ‘Americanus’. A rollercoaster of prog and blackened death metal fury, ‘Americanus’ is looking like being one of 2015’s most challenging albums.

Opener and longest track, ‘Glacial Relic\Riparian Forest’ flows from the speakers like the bastard child of Mastodon and Enslaved. The musicianship is top notch, each convuluted segment meshing perfectly with the next into a joyous orgasm of dissonant melodies. This channels the spirit of progressive music beautifully, almost like if Enslaved had grown up in the Deep South rather than the frozen North. There’s a sense of freedom here, a flowing crash of thunder here and there when a death metal crush arrives amid spiralling guitar lines, and a rasping vocal adds that hint of blackness. Your first eleven minutes are spent wondering how Bearstorm will top THAT.

‘De Soto’ is more death metal than the previous track, a lot heavier with a more defined style. But that doesn’t stop it aping the crush prog doom of Mastodon’s ‘Leviathan’ in parts, particularly the octopus-like drumming. Ending with a ghostly, mountain acoustic moment belies a definite country backbone lurking with this beast somewhere. ‘Little Portals to the Greater Sadness’ opens with one of the best Clutch jams that they never wrote before barrelling off into a lost Southern sludgey b-side. ‘Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ is a choppy, blackened death romp with an insanely catchy main riff. Bearstorm suck me in with every track, each Mastodonism is perfectly meshed with more extreme moments to create something rather special.

Bearstorm’s ‘Americanus’ is like a glacial relic. It is like a young black/death metal band came across Mastodon’s uber riff/jagged melodies formula in 2004 and said, ‘this is what we want to do’. ‘Americanus’ is glorious in its adventurous spirit, raw in its delivery and full of great music. This is a band that are gonna be huge


Paganland - Fatherland

Paganland are one of Ukraine’s oldest pagan metal bands, and their sophomore record ‘Fatherland’ is dedicated to Ukrainian patriots fighting against Russian aggression; sadly a situation which seems to have dropped off the world’s news radar. Let’s see how their heathen and witchcraft inspired black metal does as a tribute to those at war.

‘The Dawn of a New Era’ brings us out with a vast, grandiose keyboard swell, before a rousing folk metal riff appears and a clean, rich vocal leads us on. Paganland’s music is filled with passion and uplifting moments. Take the vast melodies of ‘The Voice of the Carpathians’, which feels evocative of frozen, misty mountains full of mystery and wonder. Even when it adopts a more savage black metal blasting and rasping vocals, the keyboards fill the songs with a sense of the huge. The clean vocals add an esoteric vibe, and while are probably a matter of taste more than anything, do complement the music well here.

‘Through the Winter Coldness’ should be held up to every pagan metal band out there with a notice underneath stating ‘this is how you do epic, cinematic folk metal’. The sense of scale is massive, and rarely does music sound so epic while still retaining those ‘extreme’ moments. Paganland aren’t really black metal, they have those elements mixed in but their main aim seems to be as epic as possible. ‘Fatherland’ is full of these soaring moments, music bursting from the instruments and weaving a skyful of stunning aural delights. The urgent ‘Native Word! Shackled Eagle!’ is a particular favourite, but I could point to the lush keyboards of ‘Stellar Path’ or the all encompassing title track as moments that will stand out to anyone who is a fan of well constructed, grandiose heavy metal gestures


Brazillian heavy metallers Soulthern have unleashed their debut demo, the somewhat oddly titled ‘Rock You ’til Die’, a tribute to those halcyon days of proper 80s heavy metal. Three tracks await us, so strap on your denim and your leather and lets go back in time.

‘Midnight Wild’ is SO eighties heavy metal you can almost feel it. A chugging riff and a catchy as hell chorus are delivered with an infectious enthusiasm, and the solo is pretty sweet too. ‘Rock the Night ’til I Die’ is a galloping melodic track, that gets better each time you hear it. Soulthern have got the style down to a tee, and seem to having great fun with it. ‘Runaway’ is another proto speed metal gem, closing the demo with a solid and memorable finish.

Soulthern give it their all in such a way that it is hard not to be charmed by ‘Rock You ’til Die.’ It is a bit rough around the edges, but as a representation of the best that the eighties brought us, it is pretty fine indeed. All together now, ‘MIDNIGHT WILD!!’