Thursday, 30 October 2014

Spectral Haze - I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 10/11/2014
Label: Soulseller Records


‘I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains’ CD/LP track listing:

01 I.E.V. I - Circumambulating Mount Meru (04:10)
02 Mercurian Mantra (07:44)
03 Black Gandharvas (11:03)
04 I.E.V. II - Observing the Centre of Infinity (02:51)
05 Descent Through the Intravoidal (06:02)
06 Triads and Trishulas (13:51)

Spectral Haze is:

Spacewülff | Interstellar Howls/Geetarrrgh
Sönik Slöth | Supercosmic overdrive pedalinfused guitarvoid
Döômdögg | Dronemachinated AUM
Cëlestïal Cöbra | Conjurer of souls through ritual drums

Bio:

Spectral Haze was first conjured from the Void three years ago, through four sonick sorcerers residing in Oslo, Norway; Cëlestial Cöbra (Battery), Döömdogg (Bass guitar), Spacewülff (Vocals, guitars) and Sönik Slöth (Guitars). Through these last few years, Spectral Haze has undulated and grown into channeling through a fifth vessel, namely Electric Starling (Theremin, VOID). The upcoming album "I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains" follows their eponymous debut EP released in 2012 CE, and brings even more psyched out doom rock rituals.

Review:

Spectral Haze- “Psyched Out Doom Rock Rituals.” That’s about all that’s written in this Oslo, Norway 4 Pieces Bio and it’s a pretty accurate statement aside from the “doom” part. I don’t really see all that much of a doom vibe from these guys, sure there are sabbathian flourishes here and there, but what you really get is huge fuzzy riffs, sparse yet pyched out-effects heavy vocals and full tilt space rock ala Hawkwind with a good bit of swagger thrown in for good measure.

The album starts out with a nice spacey intro right into a thundering rhythm that undulates and swirls into warp speed with the first track acting as an intro until you are thrust into the second track of the record. I really like this track as a record intro and specifically the approach it takes as a steady build into track two.  ‘Mercurian Mantra’ is just as thundering and groovy as the last track, it is also the first introduction to the bands vocals which come across as reverb heavy and manic. Great keyboard and effects are used on this song, upping the space rock ante and lead heavily to the darker parts of the track. Definitely a very trippy feeling of dissonance.

The first two songs play on each other with similar feels for a sort of combined effect. Enter “Black Gandharvas” with a darker and more straight ahead swagger to it. This song brings into play the sabbathian flourishes I mentioned early. A good head bobbing ass kicker of a track. At about seven and a half minutes into the song, it shape shifts into an acid rock harmonized guitar part before snapping back into the signature gallop to finish the track out in a fever dream state.

Track four is another instrumental track on the record and it reminds me of the first track the flip on a vinyl- and acts as an intro to the end of the record if you will. Another rad space rock sounding short, leading into the fifth track of the album, ‘Descent Through the Intravoidal’ which starts off with a very surf rock sounding part mixed with this bands space rock sound, it works superbly. This is the standout track on the album not only because it is different than the rest of the record but because it takes the sum of all the bands parts, throws them into warp speed and makes me love being in for the ride. Towards the end it pumps the brakes a bit and melds seamlessly with the last track and effective outro of the record.

The final track is a 13 minute jam of slowed down space rock bleakness, groove heavy plodding into a weird 70’s grind house sounding exit that works like a reverse version of the intro to the record. A very good and well played closer by the band.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed ‘I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains’, and find it hard to make many critiques. The record flows perfectly and takes the listener on a complete voyage with tons of different psychedelic aspects that make it stand out. This is a nice take on the stoner rock/metal genre and I really like the approach these guys are taking to it. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to the mighty Monster Magnet when people talk about Spectral haze, and that’s a hell of a compliment, but I’m not seeing it so much (I’m a self proclaimed Monster Magnet superfan) as I am seeing big influences from Hawkwind’s catalogue. That’s also a pretty big compliment and something you don’t see too much of these day, and neither is this record! I look forward to more from these guys in the future and I would really like to see how these songs translate in a live setting.

Words by: David Heaton

You can pick up a copy here

For more information:


Martyrdöd - Elddop (Album Review)



Album Type: Album Type
Date Released: 22/7/2014
Label: Southern Lord Records

‘Elddop’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

01. Nödkanal
02. En Jobbigt Jävel
03. Synd
04. Mer Skada Än Nytta
05. Prästernas Tid
06. Victoria
07. Tentakler
08. Slav Manual
09. Elddop
10. Skum Pä Väridens Hav
11. Varningens Klockor
12. Steg
13. Martyren
14. Hjärnspoken
15. Under Skinnet

Martyrdöd is:

Fredrik Reinedahl | Bass
Jens Bäckelin | D-beat
Mikael Kjellman | Guitar, Vocals
Pontus Redig | Guitar

Review:

Prior to listening to ‘Elddop’, Sweden’s Martyrdöd were to me just one more metal band in a sea of those with eldritch names and Scandinavian origins. They fell by the wayside along with various others that allegedly combined hardcore/crust punk and metal to critically successful effect. Turns out they do this; the problem is they do this so damn well that it cannot be ignored.

The warning signs should have come sooner, being signed to Southern Lord puts Martyrdöd in the company of The Secret, Nails and Black Breath – all bands at the vanguard of hardcore infused extreme metal today. Then there’s the whole Sweden thing, which the discerning metal fan should always get more excited about than a band coming from, say, Croydon.

At its core this is a punk band with a punk based sound, yet it is metal in its execution and metal that ultimately fuels their d-beat assault. The record sounds thick, dense wall-of-sound bass and guitars forming the core of it, with drums curiously laying lower in the mix to masterful effect. You won’t listen to ‘Elddop’ for Mikael Kjellman’s vocals, not because they are bad, but because they are largely sparsely used and sit buried in the mix, being no more important than the guitar leads gliding over them or the bass buzzing away underneath it all. The band work as a unit, the whole surpassing its parts while each plays his vital role.

Listening to ‘Elddop’ you quickly realise this is a record of riff worship, not in the soporific three-note Orange-fuelled doom sense, but in the way you felt when you first heard Bathory’s ‘Nordland’ or Sabbath’s ‘Children of the Grave’. Speaking of Bathory’s later work, the lead guitar melodies often have a folk-esque inflection, that despite coming out of nowhere never seem to be at odds with the overall sound. The verbose may call it a neo-classical bent, I’m more inclined to call it cool as fuck and leave it there.

These guitar parts manage to saturate each song with keen melody throughout. That some of these guitar leads wouldn’t be amiss on Propagandhi’s ‘Potemkin City Limits’, while others could have been taken from Wintersun’s debut, speaks volumes not just on how well written the songs are but how much the band remains rooted in each genre. Combining this with the incredible production makes the band accessible from the first listen, drawing you in whilst the more subtle fruits of the record emerge after repeat spins.

The sheer energy of it all is a joy to hear, a fiery shot of aural adrenaline borne of ostentatious crust punk roots laced with heavy metal bombast. In theory this should be as innocuous as a wild dog robed in ermine, but ultimately comes out sounding like jubilation itself.

This is a record of disparities, opposites not just attracting but sounding like they should never be apart. What Martyrdöd have achieved on ‘Elddop’ is something forward thinking bands of all walks should aspire to – confidence, triumph, the skill to bring forward every musical influence they love and turn it into a cohesive LP of brilliance.

Words by: Jake Mazlum

You can pick up a copy here



For more information:


Fuzz Wars: David Majury of Slomatics Interviews Holly Hunt



I don't remember how I first heard about Holly Hunt, but I do remember the first time I heard them, as I had to stop everything and go back to listen to "Manchurian Candidate" on repeat straight away. The sheer weight of their sound was electrifying, and their grasp of rhythmical dynamics was up there with the Melvins. They're a hard one to pin down (always a strength for any band), with reference points all over the map from doom to synth pop. Then there's THAT sound. With this being the age of the internet and all that I was chatting to both Beatriz and Gavin soon enough, and was mightily impressed not only by their innate understanding of importance of a good tune, but also their dedication to sculpting the sound of their records to achieve sonic nirvana. "Year One" and the following 12 inch "Prometheus" are both absolutely absorbing, relentlessly heavy, emotionally uplifting and fun listens. Add to this the fact that they are a two-piece, and that they use more amps live than most "full band" line-ups, and there's plenty for readers of the Sludgelord to be excited about. I fired these righteous dudes some questions, which they were kind enough to find time mid-tour to answer



David Majury: Holly Hunt is quite an unusual name for a heavy band, and perhaps doesn't give much away. Was that your intention?

Gavin: In the beginning when we were still in the process of defining our sound we had a couple ideas about the direction the band would take. I think we all agreed it would be heavy, sonically influenced, brutalist and fairly aggressive. I wasn’t interested in an obvious doubling down on that with our band name. I wanted a name that didn’t implicate our sound, something not so obvious but that in an abstract way may lead to more questions and thought. My first choice was Carrie Fisher, a tortured soul, who despite personal failures purservered. We concluded this might cause some legal issues so we kept brainstorming. I brought up Holly Hunt as an alternative. I felt the name illiterated very well and was as far away from a traditional metal band name as any other.

Betty - Holly Hunt was Gavin's idea for the band name. At first I though it referred to an actress. His mother's name is Holly. There is a thing called a Holly Hunt, which has to do with winter and Odin and Norse mythology. There are over 100 women in the US named Holly Hunt, and probably many more in the UK. It reminds me of Adam Ant. The name is unusual for a heavy band… that was the intention.

DM: I know that both you and Beatriz are artists, do you see any connection between Holly Hunt and your visual art?

G: Absolutely. We try and maintain a distinct separation between the two but clearly both practices have begun to inform each other. Many facets straddle both the visual and the auditory but we choose not to blur the boundaries as much as possible. I think visually we both have a practice that explores similar concepts and themes as Holly Hunt. The same adjectives apply to both, naturally... brutal, heavy, entropic, dark.

B - Yes, both things are creative endeavors. Much of the same kind of problem solving takes place, from material usage (equipment) to rhythm (lines and patterns) to notes and tone (color) and possibly also size (volume). The biggest difference with the band is that we are collaborating on the music instead of being single creators, and the audience is different… perhaps it's more fun too.

DM: There's been an increase in the amount of two piece bands over the past few years. Was it always your intention to go for this format, and how does it affect your approach to writing/ playing live?

G: While we didn’t set out as a two piece, we have settled into the nuances and hurdles a two piece project entails. I think we always wanted to take a bare bones approach to our music as a three piece or two. As a two piece though our aesthetic of brutality has flourished. It has brought us closer creatively. Live it often feels like we form a fuller symbiotic connection. We are sharing an intimate experience.

B- We actually started out as a 3 piece, we played a few shows that way. It didn't work out with our bass player. We decided to try it as a 2 piece. With just there being the 2 of us, we have come to value the power of the wheel for moving equipment. Dollies and hand carts make everything better. 




DM: The Miami scene is well known for bands like Floor, but also as a bastion of death metal. How does Holly Hunt fit into that whole area scene?

G: Miami has proven to be a very eclectic scene. We’ve played with garage bands, rock-a-billy acts, noise shows and of course traditional metal shows. As an artist, I think you can gain something useful from all live shows. As someone who has insatiable curiosity, I am thrilled to have access and exposure to this much diversity of ideas and projects. We are humbled and honored to be accepted by the wide array people we’ve played with and for.

B- The DIY scene here consists of Punk (Punk, Crust, Hardcore, Grind), Noise (all kinds), and Metal (from slow and heavy to, slow with very fast parts, to super technical)… there's also outlaw country, garage, post-punk, surf, and all kinds of blends of these styles. So the scene is open to anything that is interesting and earnest. Somehow, we've managed to play shows with all the different styles I just mentioned. It's a great scene.

DM: One for the gear nerds now. You run a pretty impressive set up, can you tell us about your gear, and how important is it to the band?

G: I am a self professed gear junkie. When I started back into music I was inspired by a sound, a quality of tone I heard while at a Torche/Harvey Milk show. What I heard left an indelible mark on me. I needed to have that tone I heard. I needed to have the ability to recreate my experience as often as I wanted. So began the odyssey that has been the making of my rig.

When we lost the bassist, I knew that we would need to focus on recovering the frequencies often relegated to the bass player. With that in mind I figured I would run a biamp set up. One side would focus on mids and highs, while the other would focus on lows. As a long time fan of Pete Townsend and my close proximity to George Scholz (who worked with Harry Joyce of Hiwatt) I slowly gravitated towards Hiwatts as my primary amps.

Currently I own a dr103 and a dr201, the 103 powers the treble side and the 201 the bass. They are beefy and every bit the hype that surrounds them. As far as my guitars, I started this project with standard length guitars that I tuned as low as they would go (Ibanez Artist and a Charvel reissue). I knew I wanted Electrical Guitar Company aluminum but just couldn’t get one early on. When I was able to order my custom I knew I wanted to tune lower still so I decided on a baritone scale (27.5”). I simply love my EGC’s. They are an animal all unto themselves. I have a pretty extensive set of pedals, mostly fuzzes. These are the most fluid parts of my rig. I find myself always pulling one out or putting a new pedal in. The tone trip is never ending. It can be frustrating but in the end is always rewarding.

B- I'm playing a 1984 Tama Artstar Cordia kit right now, 24" bass drum, 18" floor, 13" rack, and a 70's Ludwig Supraphonic. I'm also playing Paiste Rude and Alpha cymbals. The kit is very loud, and needs to be, because of Gavin's equipment, and basement shows.

DM: The way people consume music has changed radically over recent years. What are your feelings about digital releases/ iTunes and all that?



G: I think it has helped relieve some of the climb to get your material out. It has certainly reduced the distance between bands and audience. Personally, since I have acquired a turntable I’ve been listening to more vinyl. It is the most organic way in my opinion to listen to music.

B - I prefer Vinyl, but I've also got an iPod. The more ways for people to share and listen to music, the better.


DM: A lot of bands are using the pledge approach to funding recording and tours. What are your views on Kickstarter and the like?

G: To each his or her own. It’s not a format for which I’ve found a suitable use. I choose a more DIY approach but have found some crowd funding projects I’ve supported.

B - For me personally, I'd rather have people 'pledge' to us by coming to shows and buying our merch. However other bands want to fund themselves is up to them.

DM: What were the last three records you bought?

G: Music Blues. YOB. Aphex Twin.

B - I honestly couldn't tell you as we just came back from tour and we haven't unpacked our tour booty yet. I know I bought a used copy of the Evil Dead 2013 soundtrack… can I just list my favorite bands that we played with during these 2 back to back touring runs?

Tuurd, Christworm, Drose, LB!, Empty Vessels, Shit Brains, Permanent Makeup, Set and Setting, Recreant, Wage Slave, Alma, Foehammer and Ex-Breathers.
DM: What inspires the Holly Hunt creative process?

G: Entropy.

B - Everything and anything. I will say, I'm most inspired when I see a band I've never heard of before, absolutely kill it.

DM: Finally, the obvious question - what are your plans for the future, and will we experience the Holly Hunt live assault in Europe?

G: After a long run of touring this past summer, followed by the production of the split with Slomatics we are preparing to get back into the lab to write the next full length. Nothing concrete as to completion or sound but we are definitely in the start up phase. We have been discussing Europe as a possibility for some time next year. It would be a huge undertaking for us but we would have a blast I’m sure.



B - Our plan is to continue, and to challenge ourselves, and yes to make it to the UK and Europe, hopefully next year. We have a split 7" coming out later this year with Slomatics. We're really excited about that.
Intro & Interview by : David Majury

You can read our review of their latest record 'Prometheus' here


For more information:

Live Review: Witchsorrow/Shazzula/Satan’s Satyrs/Electric Wizard. The Ritz, Manchester, UK. 23/10/2014


If there was ever such a thing as having too good of a time, Electric Wizard’s lurid, intrepid and unsurmountable one-off show at The Ritz was just that. Several days have passed since they transformed the usually glitzy ballroom into an atramentous hollow inside which they delivered, quite simply, a sermon of doom metal perfection. The sun has since risen and set, the earth has continued on its cyclical course around the burning star, yet I find myself desperately scouring the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary, unable to find a phrase more eloquent but equally as telling of the evening than ‘holy crap!’ And so I scrawl in the hope the words will just fall fatefully onto the page.

Why exactly the band decided to play one lone standing show in England’s Third biggest city is a decision shrouded in the kind of wonderfully disdaining mystery we’ve come to expect from Electric Wizard. This is a band which adheres to no rules but its own – arguably one of the last remaining bands to truly do so. They, like the Manchester show itself, stand defiantly against the grain, spreading their message about humanities endless list of pitfalls like wildfire, all to the soundtrack of their unmistakable, unequivocally guttural and unapologetic sound. Their unwavering integrity has earned them a cult status like no other. Amongst the crowd tonight are people who have travelled from every corner of the country to worship at their shrine. No one wants to miss out on this and so many have. Those lucky enough to be here know it. From the woman who added my drink to her order to save queuing time – the bar was predictably heaving a zombie like swarm of dry-throated stoners – to the all-round sense of comradery that enveloped the place and gave it a real sense of occasion, we were all brothers in arms. When Electric Wizard rumbled into life, that unity intensified beyond belief.

But first, Witchsorrow were tasked with opening proceedings. The room was practically empty as they rolled through a droning set list that never stepped away from the ‘tune low, play slow’ mantra, of which Electric Wizard helped establish many moons ago. The size of the venue however, coupled with its sheer emptiness blunted their performance; it took the edge right out of it. For a band well loved by The Sludgelord, we know they’ve had better nights than this and will do yet.          

Belgium’s Shazzula then split the crowd like Ernest Rutherford did likewise to the atom. The ‘pluridisciplinary artist, filmmaker and musician’ produced a spellbinding set that was met with both indifference and inspired delight. Playing alone on a stage with just her keyboard and a large screen projecting a dark, slow-moving noire film including pentagrams, skulls and other shady revelry, many in the audience, myself included, were under the false impression that this was merely some grandiose introduction before a full band proper waltzed on stage to pummel our eardrums. But no. While she gargled ominous, uneasy tones from her keys and as you watched the film unfurl on the screen behind her, you were left mesmerised, rapt in the ingenuity of it all or baffled, bewildered and bemused. You can’t knock her towering ambition to, much like her peers in Electric Wizard, surge against the grain and to dwell in a niche of her own finding – and you won’t see anything like this ever again, of that I assure you. But whether this really was deep, meaningful art or art for art’s own pretentious sake is a matter of opinion that will forever be widely divided. I’ve been to an exhibition where a putrid clump of soil – of which I have a shit tonne in my garden – was given the same arbitrary title, so it’s impossible to say for sure.

That however, is the joy of music on nights such as this. There are no rules, no guidelines to be sheparded into and confined within. What Shazzula offered was resoundingly unique while Satan’s Satyrs offer a much more straight forward old school rock n’ roll vibe. The two contrast greatly, yet combine emphatically. Packing the bombast of Grand Funk, the bluesy grit of The Groundhogs and drawing from horror-tinged aesthetics like Dracula sucking blood from another hapless victim, Satan’s Satyrs can sit comfortably in the ethos of the likes of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. The wheel is left untouched really, this is nothing, certainly in comparison to what preceded them, strikingly new. But it’s groovy as hell, shit-kicking good fun. When bassist and vocalist Clayton Burgess is left battling sound issues with his frustrated roadie, guitarist Jarrett Nettnin and drummer Stephen Fairfield kick out the jams and keep the ball rolling. There was something magical about watching two musicians free flowing, making the noise that comes from their soul and not from over-thought academia. It was like watching a lion prowling and thriving in its natural habitat. An excellent set. 




So all was left to Wizard to finally preach their most unholy of gospels. The opening chapter, ‘Witchcult Today’ sounded catastrophically huge. These are the vigorous tonalities of impending doom, shaking you to your very foundations: A staggering introduction. The entire wall behind them began to mutate into a sea of lava lamp like shifting colours, a collage of psychedelic beauty with scenes plucked from biker films, shots of Nazi Germany and more breaking through the artisan canvas from time to time. I look around me to see the entire room transfixed. There’s no one filming their performance on their phone or tapping away some fumbling tweet about how ‘I’m never gonna forget this moment, man’ because people are savouring it, living in it. Across their nine song set, the rest of existence simply doesn’t matter. The fast approaching apocalypse that they so adamantly rattle on about could very well have been happening outside, comets could have been plummeting to earth and Satan’s army of daemons spilling out of the ground from a vortex in the pastries aisle of the neighbouring Sainsbury’s and we simply wouldn’t know. Or care.



Betwixt whining feedback their thunderous riffs and impassioned, crackling vocals take hold. ‘Black Masses’ is downright dirty and ‘Satanic Rites of Drugula’ is gloriously gothic, Liz Buckingham’s lead guitar work sounding so menacing you’re convinced it could grind your bones into bread if she so wanted.         

‘Time To Die’ rears its twisted head in the guise of the sprawling, ten-minute long grim opus that is ‘Incense For The Damned’ and the penultimate earth-shaking ‘Lucifer’s Slave’. On the latter it’s the rhythm section who truly impress. While Jus Oborn hollers his satanic verses bassist Clayton Burgess sounds like the demented offspring of Geezer Butler, that fuzzy tone the audio equivalent of the mouth of hell itself.

Surprisingly, the room never exhales smoke, no one lights up a joint mid-set. Security had worked hard to stamp out any possibility of that, even clamping down on e-cigarettes like they were machetes. It’s a shame, but they’re the rules and no one wanted to risk missing out on this entirely for a few meagre hits of grass. 


When the final throes of set-closer ‘Funeralopolis’ faded out and the band walked triumphantly off-stage – not that they would ever show such an emotion, fearing it would intrude upon their almost unhuman like personas – you’re left ensnared in a paradox. You’re entirely satisfied, the set was magnificent, but you don’t want it to end, they really could play on until comets do fall to earth and wipe us all out. There are no encores, no egotistical bullshit. They came, they saw and they conquered. That’s it. Holy crap.

Words: Phil Weller 

Pics by: Mike Ainscoe


Set list: 


Witchcult Today
Black Mass
Incense for the Damned
...A Chosen Few
Satanic Rites of Drugula
Dopethrone
Supercoven
Lucifer's Slaves
Funeralopolis










Horrified - Descent Into Putridity (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 28/10/2014
Label: Memento Mori Records

‘Descent Into Putridity’ CD/DD track listing:

01. Tomb of Rebirth (04:41)
02. Narcolepsy (03:43)
03. Mortally Deceased (03:31)
04. Descent Into Putridity (05:05)
05. Buried Among Putrified Flesh (04:26)
06. Veil of Souls (05:08)
07. Repugnant Degeneration (04:32)

Bio:

Welcome to the darkened recesses of old school death metal. Firmly rooted in those hallowed traditions, we have one band who twist the sickening riffs and patterns of old even further, in their never-ending worship of the extreme. Names like Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Pestilence, Cancer: these are the gods of a depraved group of individuals from Newcastle, UK. Their name is Horrified.

For a start, the band are deceptively young and fresh: mastermind Daniel Alderson started it last year as a studio project, enrolling Sam Butterfield (guitarist of Hieroglyph) for vocals. This resulted in the chaotic Carcinogenic Feasting demo, which was subsequently released on local DIY label Tombs In The Valley Productions/Torn Flesh Records. Their first ever concert was the first edition of Byker Grave, a highly successful if brief set which is available on YouTube.

For their début album Descent Into Putridity, Dan steps up to the microphone, and despite being so young his vocals already resemble the throat-ripping snarls of Martin Van Drunen (Pestilence, Asphyx) or Lars-Göran Petrov (Entombed) circa Left Hand Path, although with Dan's own demented treatment. The band are all deceptively young, and yet have already racked up an impressive amount of time in bands like Plague Rider, Winds Of Genocide, Risen Prophecy and Vacivus. This lends a maturity to their sound, yet still with the vibrant urgency that this genre requires. The album is packed with encrusted riffs, wailing solos and pummelling drums: this is a reminder of why people fell in love with death metal in the first place.??

Descent Into Putridity is scheduled for an October release via Memento Mori Records.

Horrified is:

Dan Alderson - Guitars/Vocals
Ross Oliver - Guitars
Dan Hughes - Bass
Matthew Henderson - Drums

Review:

As with all genres, the popularity of which bands are influential shifts as time goes on. Amongst the more underground death metal bands, the primary influential bands have been comprised of two main camps in recent years. On one side there is early Incantation and Autopsy and on the other is Dismember and Entombed. On The Incantation/Autopsy side, we have bands like Father Befouled, Ignivomous, and Dead Congregation. On the Dismember/Entombed side we have bands such as Black Breath, Miasmal, and Entrails. Those two camps have dominated the more old school-minded of the last several years.

In 2014, there is a new camp developing with a set of different influences. Specifically, I’m referring to Asphyx and Death, with the Death influence tending to come from the pre-‘Individual Thought Patterns’ era. Two of the year’s best albums, from Morbus Chron and Horrendous, feature these influences, along with several others. Horrified’s debut album ‘Descent Into Putridity’ draws from similar influences, along with with making use of the Sunlight Studios sound of Dismember. Horrified tend to focus on the uglier, simpler side of things as compared to Horrendous’ more melodic approach. It makes for an album that is very enjoyable, though not without its flaws.

My primary concern is that songs all too often fall apart at slower tempos, and it seems to be a drumming issue. The issue is exacerbated by the kick and snare being so prominent in the mix. A prime example can be found at about the 2:20 mark on “Narcolepsy”. There is some excellent riffing going on, but it’s less effective than it should be because the kick feels out of sync with everything else going on in the song. There’s a lot to like on the album, but the drummer tightening up his performance will be of crucial importance down the road. Even slower thrash beats are tripped up by the kick either dragging or being ahead of the downbeat, and for a band that is at this level compositionally, it presents a problem that can’t be resolved soon enough.

With that issue addressed, the album overcomes those mechanical shortcomings with some powerful death metal songwriting skills. Vocally is where the Asphyx influence is strongest, with Daniel Alderson’s style being a clear homage to Martin van Drunen, and it’s a good fit on the whole. Horrified seem to be at their best when in that relaxed thrash beat groove, even with the inconsistent drumming. What makes Horrified a bit more interesting than some of the more cut and paste old school death metal bands is their willingness to include additional musical influences from other American death metal bands, both Florida and New York.

With a nicely varied songwriting style already in place and an improved drumming performance, there is no reason we shouldn’t all be keeping Horrified in the same company as all of the bands I mentioned earlier in the years ahead. If nothing else, the future looks bright for them on future releases, and I would still recommend giving this album some of your time.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a DD copy here (Name your price) and CD here



For more information:


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Monster Magnet - Milking The Stars: A Re-Imagining Of Last Patrol (Album Review)


Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: November 14th 2014
Label: Napalm Records

Milking The Stars: A Re-Imagining Of Last Patrol – track listing

1. Let The Circus Burn
2. Mindless Ones '68
3. No Paradise For Me
4. End of Time(B-3)
5. Milking The Stars
6. Hellelujah(Fuzz and Swamp)
7. I Live Behind The Clouds(Roughed Up and Slightly Spaced)
8. Goliath Returns
9. Stay Tuned(Even Sadder)
10. The Duke(Full On Drums'N Wah)

Members

Dave Wyndorf - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Garrett Sweeny - lead guitar, sitar
Phil Caivano - rhythm guitar
Chris Kosnik - bass guitar
Bob Pantella - drums, perc

Review:

I've always been a tad suspicious towards re-worked/ re-mixed albums, especially when said album has only been out for a year and is damned good as it is. So when Monster Magnet announced the release of 'Milking The Stars: A Re-Imagning Of Last Patrol', a remake of the excellent 'Last Patrol' I didn't know what to think. The only recurring thought I had was simply 'why?'. 'Last Patrol' was in no need of a facelift whatsoever. Therefore, when the boss asked if I was interested in reviewing it I agreed but braced myself for stink affair. Come on, the new wax is called 'Milking The Stars...' and that is a pointer at cashing in. But like so many times before though I have to admit defeat, and I gladly do so, since this is a fantastic platter!

To be honest, I haven't read any press releases regarding Wyndorf and Co's latest offering, so I have no idea about Dave's reason to put this one out. And that might be a good reason, you know, gives a fresher take to it. What's on offer is ten tracks where four are brand new and six are redone. Some versions come with two live tracks. And what can I say....it's bloody marvellous!

Before playing I recommend you sit very comfortably, relax, close your eyes anf then hit play. The moment opener 'Let The Circus Burn' there is no turning back. Spaced out to the max the song will pull you in to this headfuck of an album. Slowly building up this instrumental will throw you out into deep space and if you make it all the way to the end, you are a new person all together. 'Mindless Ones 68' starts off like Rolling Stones' 'Paint It Black' before turning into a mix of The Doors playing 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' on a shitload of acid. I love this song in it's original version but holy hell, it's a whole different kind of beast now! Eerie and lurking 'No Paradise For Me' gives me the feeling of seeing a new day dawn after three days of no sleep and the sunlight fucks with you as is the visions you've witnessed during the insomnia. This song will mess with you...in a good way no less. Fast and furious 'End Of Time(B-3) has been soaked with the sweet tones of the good and trusted Hammon B-3 organ and it fits in extremely well. An already psychedelic song in all it's heaviness this addition brings more of the late sixties, early seventies vibe that Wyndorf is going for. Very, very good. Another eerie track is the title track. Kind of the same vibe as 'No Paradise For Me' there's more of a reflective mood amidst all the trippiness, although there is a sinister touch floating in the background.

Renaming 'Hallelujah' 'Hellelujah(Fuzz And Swamp) is brilliant. Having added a lot of fuzz - read even more fuzz - to the original version while bringing in the delta swamplands of Mississippi and Louisiana, has turned it into a stomper of a sinister and evil psych blues song. Absolutely love it! One of my favourite songs on 'Last Patrol' is 'I Live Behind The Clouds'. Here it is called 'I Live Behind The Clouds(Roughed Up And Slightly Spaced) and man, it has lost none of it's appeal. Hell, true to the new title, it is as trippy as anything can get and the added roughness plays along excellently with darker themes of the album. The last of the four new songs is 'Goliath Returns'. Instrumental and foreboding a sense of Armageddon oozes from it. Another favourite from 'Last Patrol' is 'Stay Tuned' which is now called 'Stay Tuned(Even Sadder). Again, Dave has succeeded in altering a song just enough to make it new while still retaining the original greatness. The guitar towards the end is so beautiful in all it's despair. Last one out is another survivor from the 2013 release, 'The Duke(Full On Drums'N Wah). Well, the name has been somewhat altered but most of it remains the same. What is different is a fuller, richer sound where both the guitar and of course drums have been enhanced.

All the worries and concerns I had regarding about this LP were not only unfounded but I was also thrown out of the park. Dave and his band took all they had and turned a beast into a rare double headed beast. What I mean is, rarely can any band or artist take their own material and recreate it into something so fantastically good as Monster Magnet has done. To pull this off, not only do you need a hell of a lot of talent, you also need the confidence and oomph to go through with a project like this, all the way to the end. A truly amazing album!

Words by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Andy, Jon and Mona at Napalm Records for sending us a promo. Milking The Stars: A Re-Imagining Of Last Patrol will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Napalm Records on November 14th 2014.


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Thy Darkened Shade - Liber Lucifer I: Khem Sedjet (Album Review)


Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: October 31, 2014
Label: W.T.C. Productions

Liber Lucifer I: Khem Sedjet – track listing

1. Holy Lvcifer
2. Revival through Arcane Skins
3. Elixer of Azazel
4. Black Light of Sitra Ahra
5. Or She-ein bo Mahshavah
6. Nox Profunda
7. Drayishn-i Ahriman o Divan
8. Saatet-ta Renaissance
9. Liber Lvcifer
10. Deus Obsconditus
11. Δαήμων Ὁ Φώσφορος (Daemon Phosphorus)

Bio

The entity known as Thy Darkened Shade was formed nameless in 1999 by Semjaza. The music composed was Black Metal with Old School and Epic influences. In order for Thy Darkened Shade to achieve the best representation of what this band's music signifies, nothing was unleashed.

Over the years and after various experimentations, the sound of Thy Darkened Shade changed significantly resulting in ETERNVS MOS, NEX RITVS. Expect a mix of raw yet technical Black Metal with old school, avant-garde and 80s' Thrash influences.

Members

The A – Vocals
Semjaza – Guitars & Bass
H.G. – Drums

Magus Wampyr Daoloth of Necromantia – Guest Vocals on Daemon Phosphorus

Review:

For those raised in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s there were two types of Satanism: the non-existent bogeymen abducting, molesting, and sacrificing children in the minds of religious zealots and regression hypnosis charlatans nationwide; or the very real, fairly boring pseudo-objectivist secular humanists/atheists of Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan. By the late 90s, the real possibility of baby-murdering Satanism was revealed as a kind of national hysteria and Lavey garnered a fair degree of hipster cool by hanging out with Marilyn Manson.

For all but the most backwards of us, Laveyan Satanists are a joke – meme ready neck-beards wearing fedoras and tweeting Penn Jillette quotes into the ether. Moreover, when it comes to Lucifer himself, they tend to be party poopers, ready to spout endless trivia about the power of the individual, the adversary, the outsider against repressive institutions like churches and governments. Mention theistic Satanists, and they’re likely to blow a gasket. According to Church of Satan “High Priest” Peter Gilmore, “My real feeling is that anybody who believes in supernatural entities on some level is insane. Whether they believe in The Devil or God, they are abdicating reason.” Snooze.

I can’t pretend that I know much more about theistic or atheistic Satanism, but simply judging by musical talent and output, I’ll take Behemoth, Watain, and seriously talented Greek disciples Thy Darkened Shade over a Sam Harris- or Richard Dawkins-inspired album any day. Thanks be to Azazel that Thy Darkened Shade have helped in some way to rescue Lucifer from the tired bin of 90s rock metaphor and have structured the first (of several?) prog meets blackened death metal masterpieces centered on the Morningstar and his demonic brethren, or as they describe it Acausal Necrosophic Black Metal.

Instrumentalist Semjaza and vocalist The A (joined on this release by drummer H.G.) craft Miltonian hellscapes on their sophomore album, complete with unholy chanting, blast beats galore, what feels like an orchestra of both electric and folk instruments, stretching across 77 minutes of relentless metal. Remarkably, it never feels tired, even with four (!) 10 minute mini-epics filling out over half of the album’s runtime. Rather, it seems like Thy Darkened Shade, like so many remarkable metal bands, continue to balance a truly fringe ethos with diverse musical traditions. There is a section of title track Liber Lvcifer (about the last 2 minutes) that really defies mere critical language. After the structured chaos of the preceding 8 minutes, the bursts of cacophony and breakneck shredding, the ethereal chanting, guitar harmonies, and martial drumming transcends the simply horrific to become sublime.

When John Milton wrote Paradise Lost, he made a charismatic Lucifer whose tragedy would allow mankind some access to the infinite mystery of being, but was ultimately bound to the conventions of Christianity. With Liber Lvcifer I, Thy Darkened Shade evokes the same kind of transcendence, unbound by the strictures of religion or dogmatic rationality. At its core, it stands out as a paradox: a divinely unholy work of irreligious devotion.

Words by Mark Ambrose

Thanks to Nathan for the promo. Liber Lucifer I: Khem Sedjet will be available to buy from W.T.C. Productions from October 31st.

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