Archive for July, 2015

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.

https://www.facebook.com/SorrowsPath?fref=ts

http://www.sorrowspath.net/

 

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

STREAM & BUY: http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/americanus
LIKE: https://www.facebook.com/bearstormRVA
LABEL: https://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords

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

https://www.facebook.com/Paganland.UA?fref=ts

http://shop.svarga.eu/en/music/cd/paganland-fatherland-2015-cd-87

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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!!’

https://www.facebook.com/Soulthernbanda?fref=ts

 

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Kyy, meaning ‘viper’ in their native tongue, are a new black metal war machine vomited forth from the black pits of Finland. Their debut recording, ‘Travesty of Light’, is due to be released this August by Saturnal Records, and is 14 minutes of blood drenched rabid black metal.

Opener ‘Death – The Great Liberator’ has this great, uneasy vibe running through it, almost a swaying riff enclosed by harsh growls and a layer of murk. It is refreshingly different from a lot of black metal you hear these days, and I have to give Kyy a lot of credit for that. It’s easy for black metal bands to go purely blasting/tremolo, so to hear variations is always welcome.

‘Everlasting Fire’ is a bit more traditional, barrelling forward with an almost necropunk attitude. Dashes of latter Darkthrone clash with an icy regality reminiscient of Satyricon to create an intriguing mix. The musicianship is top notch, and the production is raw enough without losing any of the instruments. The guitars sound razor sharp and the vocals are a torrid howl of desperation and nightmares. The gloomy title track has dashes of Gallhammer at the start; a melancholic trudge through a misty evening. The crushing ‘Immaculate Serpent King’ brings to a close one of the more accomplished and interesting black metal releases you’ll hear all year. I recommend picking this up as soon as you can, as it is brilliant.

http://www.saturnalrecords.com/kyy.html

https://www.facebook.com/kyynkolo

Macabre Demise - Homicidal Parasites

German brutal death metal one man band Macabre Demise have released their follow up to ‘Stench of Death’, entitled ‘Homocidal Parasites’ on Rebirth the Metal Productions, and it is a fine slab of hard death metal assault, made all the more astounding by the fact there is only one man behind this project. Andreas Rieger has serious chops in all forms of death delivery!

Taking its cues from a number of classic bands, from Suffocation, Dying Fetus and Hate Eternal, Macabre Demise fashion their death metal from the finest riffs and the hardest drums. Vocals are brutal death growls but are definitely coherent which is a bonus. The song writing is tight, and while a little formulaic in parts, is generally pretty good. Chugathon ‘Blood Inhale’ is a favourite of mine, but I also dig the waspish Resurrection of the Walking Dead’ and the rampage of ‘Back from the Dead’.

‘Homocidal Parasites’ is a good, solid death metal record full of great riffs and brutality unbound. It’ll never win any awards, but if you’re looking for a good dose of heavy as fuck music, then Macabre Demise is your man!

LISTEN & BUY: https://macabredemise.bandcamp.com/
LIKE: https://www.facebook.com/macabredemise
BUY: https://macabredemise.bigcartel.com

Harrow - Fallow Fields

Harrow are Canadian black metallers, formerly known as Wraith until 2011. ‘Fallow Fields’ is their third album, following on from 2011’s ‘Wanderer’ and 2013’s ‘Fragments of a Fallen Star’. Harrow play a Drudkh/Wolves in the Throne Room style of atmospheric black metal, with a ghostly hypnotic drone permeating through each track.

Opener ‘Pathways’ has delicate acoustics that lead into a raging black metal frenzy, coated in an ethereal mood and wih some haunting keyboard effects in the background. There has been a massive explosion in this kind of black metal in the past few years, and it’s hard for bands to stick out but Harrow have got their own particular charm, coupling an almost tribal and ambient styling with the more prominent black metal moments.

Harrow’s compositions, while not particularly technical or unique, are however evocative and addictive. The frankly beautiful ‘Through the Grey’, with its acoustic start that feeds into a soaring lead guitar, is one of my favourite moments. There’s something about this kind of black metal, with the emphasis on the atmosphere and the ‘feeling’ it generates, that gets me every time. Harrow have got that magic for me, and I’m a fan.

Be it the engrossing title track, or the soaring epic of ‘Awake Before the Dawn’, ‘Fallow Fields’ is a hidden gem in the world of atmospheric black metal. Arriving with little fanfare, but leaving you emotionally drained and yet invigorated at the same time, Harrow have weaved something intoxicating here.

http://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/album/fallow-fields

http://www.avantgardemusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/harrowblackmetal?fref=ts

Dawn of Chaos - The Need to Feed

Dawn of Chaos wrote this album three years ago, then sadly split before it saw the light of day. I first came across them on the ‘Northern Discomfort’ split in 2009, and was impressed by their technical savvy and brutality. It was a shame to see them leave the scene, but I’m glad UKEM Records decided to put this out, as it truly shows what a loss it was.

‘Blind, Torture, Kill’ is a thudding, chunky riff laden death metal beast, channelling Cannibal Corpse at their sleekest. Following this with the equalling visceral ‘The Thrall Engine’, with its stop start blasting time changes, it is clear the stall that Dawn of Chaos set out was one of destruction and razor riffage. The delightfully monikered ‘Force Fed Embryonic Slurry’ is a brutal worship of Suffocation or Nile, plowing the sludgy depths of brutal technical death. Dawn of Chaos clearly understood the importance of combining all the singular elements of death metal that makes it appealing into one, cohesive whole.

Take ‘Engineering Atrocities’ as an example. We have brutal guttural vocals, rampaging blastbeats and double kicks underpinning a devastating range of riffing.At once, they reference Immolation and Cannibal Corpse, with a crushing morbid chug and a deathly growl. Dawn of Chaos also win some bonus points with me due to some of their inspired song titles. ‘Muffocated’ anyone? Although I can’t believe there’s not a band somewhere called ‘Abominatrix’, because frankly that’s brilliant.

I’m glad that the spirit of Dawn of Chaos lives on in Vacivus, because to lose the talents that created this record from the scene would be a great shame. ‘The Need to Feed’ is a chugging behemoth of a death metal record, each song crafted from the heaviest of metals and the darekst of places. CRUSH. KILL. DESTROY!

Originally published here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/reviews/album-reviews/h/high-on-fire-luminiferous-cd-lp-dd-2015/

If you follow this site, or indeed any metal site, you’ll know who High on Fire are. But for those who are uninitiated, let me explain who High on Fire are. They are not just Matt Pike and cohorts. They aren’t just a band with former members of a legendary band. High on Fire have evolved past that. High on Fire are one of metal’s great personification of the RIFF. Their new album, ‘Luminiferous’, is yet another testament to their embodiment of heavy metal’s most primal weapon.

I want to take a second to mention the artwork of ‘Luminiferous’ first. Normally I look at metal artwork and either think ‘yeah that’s pretty sweet’ or ‘that’s a cliché’. Not with this record. ‘Luminiferous’ stands as the demon guardian in the art, a roiling sea around him while behind lies the temple. That is the temple of metal, where High on Fire sit as gatekeepers to the realm of the RIFF. It is as perfect a summation of a band as you could hope to find.

‘The Black Plot’ begins with that familiar rumble, that tectonic weight, that earthy roar and that instantly infectious guitar style. Matt Pike is a true guitar hero, but not of the widdly type. He wields his axe as a weapon of music, cutting swathes through mediocre cut and paste doom bands who will never measure up. Within minutes, the listener is given clarity and insight into what metal represents. High on Fire obliterate the mediocrity and stride triumphantly into the arena, slamming down their riffs and screaming ‘Are you not entertained?’ Be it the grinding stomp of ‘Carcosa’ or the primal roar that reverberates throughout ‘The Sunless Years’, High on Fire fight for metal’s core beliefs. A belief in great riffs, great music and passion.

The freight train-esque ‘Slave the Hive’ is a pulsing, propulsive monster of a track, ‘The Falconist’ a more ponderous and melodic offering. High on Fire don’t always play the full throttle riff game. ‘The Falconist’ may be as close to a ballad as you’d ever get from the band, but it possesses this killer bluesy swagger that’s so addictive. ‘The Dark Side of the Compass’ rips that classic High on Fire tribal thunder to start, then unleashes an apocalyptic chug that demands your head begin to nod. The calming, almost psychedelic start to ‘The Cave’ brings back those quintessential memories of Sleep’s most drugged out moments, and it also has a bit of a Crowbar vibe about it too, channelling a bit of Southern groove throughout.

Be it the fury of the title track or the slow burn titan ‘The Lethal Chamber’, High on Fire have yet again hoisted themselves back to the pinnacle of Riff Mountain. Their music is a cathartic release, an exercise in heaviness and pure fucking metal. It is refreshing in this age of constant sub categorising, that there are bands out there that are nothing but metal. High on Fire are one of those bands, and ‘Luminiferous’ is one of 2015’s greatest records.

Futhark Dawning cover art

You ever find a band just because a friend shared them on your social media network and you happened to notice it in amongst all the dross that usually fills your day? This is how I found Runemaster. How fortuitous!

Runemaster hail from Edinburgh and call themselves heavy metal. That generally implies either they play traditional metal or they don’t want to pigeonhole themselves. This is definitely the former, with ‘Into the Hall’ showcasing some nice galloping riffs and a soulful vocal that brings to mind Brocas Helm. This is honest heavy metal, with a definite eighties vibe. There’s nothing finer than traditional heavy metal done well, and Runemaster do this very well indeed.

‘The Leavings of the Wolf’ is next, bringing a more Grand Magus feel to proceedings, that swaggering riff heavy approach instantly appealing to me. Rarely does a band leave me stumped as to how to put across just why I enjoy it so much. Runemaster have. I can’t really explain what it is that gets me with this recording, but Runemaster are magic. Conjuring that classic heavy metal vibe brilliantly, each track is addictive and anthemic. ‘North Sea Demon’ is a grandstanding finish, with a rousing battle anthem that owes as much to High on Fire as it does to Manowar. Runemaster are an amazing proposition. It has been a long time since heavy metal felt truly this alive!

http://runemaster.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/runemaster