Author Archive

My Sleeping Karma – Soma

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 3rd December 2012 by tobiasgray

My Sleeping Karma
Soma
Released: 28th September 2012
Atmospheric Groove Rock
Released via Napalm Records

Soma is the fourth album by German groove rockers My Sleeping Karma. Eschewing vocals in favour of layered soundscapes of chilled out psychedelia and ambient waves of beauty, the four piece sound like Tool at their most relaxed – sweeping crescendos of rhythm and looping rock riffs followed by short interludes of white noise like ‘breather tracks’.

This is an album most appreciated in one sitting.  It’s a long journey, clocking in at almost an hour of relaxing grooves, but certainly one worth undertaking.  The production is crisp and the experimental waves of sound that texture every track sound professional and compliment the music perfectly.  The sleeve is a mixture of Eastern tinged imagery and a psychedelic circle of life, hinting at the underlying themes and influences that flavour this bands music.

It’s difficult as a reviewer to highlight or recommend specific tracks as they are all similar (in a good way!).  Soma should be experienced, with the high points of the complete package subject to each individual listeners opinion.  For example, the images I felt listening to ‘Interlude’ (track 6) will be very different from anyone else, yet the effect that music had on me coloured the next track…whereas another listener may be drawn to the thundering drums of Somalatha or inversely, to the serene stillness of the second track.

Music is notoriously difficult to quantify, but if you are drawn to bands such as Tool, Isis, This Will Destroy You & suchlike, the relaxing grooves of My Sleeping Karma will be worthy of you attention.

4/5

Tobias Gray

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Demonic Death Judge – Skygods

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 9th October 2012 by tobiasgray

Band: Demonic Death Judge
Album: Skygods
Release date: 5th October 2012
Genre: Stoner/Doom Metal

 

Down & dirty.  If that’s how you like your doom, you’re in the right place!  Demonic Death Judge’s fifth release is a metal stoner’s dream. Looping progressions of down tuned, dirty riffage, extended swirling freakouts and a varied vocal performance from despairing screams to wizened clean singing.

Both stoner & doom are definitely ‘headspace’ genres – in so much as you won’t be playing this album in the sunshine, getting psyched up for a night out; but when it’s time to come down, kick back and dim the lights, Skygods brings the tunes you need.  Demonic Death Judge have just supported Entombed, and while they are traditionally received by a more death metal based crowd, fans of Entombed could easily get into these eight tracks – especially live, where the wall of noise & powerful grooves are strongest.

If you aren’t feeling sludgy, this album is very much a take it or leave it, but with patience & repeated listens, the subtle beauty & message woven into Skygods is revealed.  Fans of Eyehategod, Raging Speedhorn and the like will feel comfortable enough to accept the chant like clean vocals when they manifest, and the jazzy drum breaks interspersed throughout the album offer enough of a ‘different’ flavour to catch the attention of those not listening to this through a haze of smoke.

Finally, the 70’s psychedelia tinged cover is gorgeous, props to the designer, for raising expectations of the music before a note is even played!

4/5

Tobias Gray

 

 

Obscene Entity – Self Titled EP

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 3rd October 2012 by tobiasgray

Obscene Entity
Self-Titled
Released October 2012
Death Metal
Self-Released

Cambridge based three-piece Obscene Entity have released their début EP.  A generous five tracks of technical, up-tempo brutality that promise good things for their future.

Duel death metal vocals, a talented (human) drummer & a penchant for catchy, groove based riffs elevates them above similar bands breaking out on the underground.  The production is clean and professional, and the organic yet precise mix mirrors the band’s musical style – modern ethics mixed with the old school ethos.  How is this achieved?  Through tight, beatdowns (not breakdowns!!) reminiscent of the early 90’s Florida scene, blending seamlessly with modern ‘tech’ riffs involving dissonant tremming and rapid guitar trills.  The vocals are similar to the gravelly spoken tone of earlier Decapitated releases, with enough clarity to hear individual lyrics on occasion (a rarity in death metal!).

The songs each have their individual flavours and I expect will get heads banging live.  The band’s Facebook promote the track ‘Doomed’, a faster, tempo shifting song with a couple of substantial solos.  For me, however, the climax arrives with final track Hell Goeran oppressively violent number with a tight chuggy main, ‘tasteful’ sample use and eastern Nile style melodic leads dropped intermittently.

To sum up, they aren’t sludgy Autopsy copycats, but they aren’t hyperspeed sweep-laden Necrophagist enthusiastics either – they are a n interesting bridge between both worlds and this EP is an excellent career beginning…Check them out live if you can!

5/5

Tobias Gray

Dying Fetus – Reign Supreme

Posted in CD, Grindcore, Metal with tags , , , , , on 26th June 2012 by tobiasgray

Dying Fetus
Reign Supreme
Released: 19th June 2012
Death Metal
Relapse Records

“It’s not my fault I’m pregnant and I love drugs.  Who cares? Fuck the baby, let it die”


Controversial and talented in equal measures, the  Maryland trio Dying Fetus have returned with their seventh album. Reign Supreme – a bold statement, but an honest one.

Perennial underdogs since their inception 22 years ago, Dying Fetus have grown a dedicated fan base through extensive touring, hard work, and blistering live performances.  Followers both new and old will relish this latest album, with 9 tracks (plus the obligatory ‘novelty’ bonus track – ‘Dead Whores Love To Fuck’,) of brutal, high intensity death metal.

If it looks like the Fetus, and sounds like the Fetus…it’s gotta be the Fetus!  Their signature songwriting style is present from the start – John Gallagher and Sean Beasley’s fret melting runs and sweeps, abruptly collapsing into heavy grooves and brutal slam breakdowns.  The musicianship is as uncompromising and technical as ever, complimented by the crisp production; making Reign Supreme the most professional sounding album in the band’s catalogue.

This is the second album with Trey Williams on drums, and his incredible ability shines throughout.  It is hard to define the impact his warp speed grinding battery has, but after so many lineup changes, the current three-piece is quite possibly the best (in terms of sheer musicianship,) to date.

The shorter songs such as opener “Invert the Idols”  and highlight “Dissidence” standout, their tight structures providing unrelenting aggression and technicality.  The midpoint provides a mild respite with two  ‘old school’, groove oriented songs.  It is certain that every track on Reign Supreme has been designed for live performance first of all.  Breakdowns (not of the -core variety!) feature regularly, and even on first play through you can actually see the pits forming for these future classics.

Dying Fetus walk the tightrope of new school tech and old school groove ethics perfectly, they craft brutal, sexy music, and with this album have firmly cemented their position at the highest echelon of modern death metal.

5/5

Tobias Gray

Blastanus – Collapse

Posted in CD, Grindcore, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 19th June 2012 by tobiasgray

Blastanus
Collapse
Released: 17th June 2012
Grind/Death Metal
Unsigned/Self-Released

Blastanus…more a statement of intent than anything else.  Like Dying Fetus or Aborted before them, electing to give your band such an obviously extreme name automatically brings a certain expectation to your music.  You aren’t playing Collapse in anticipation of acoustic passages and uplifting sing along choruses, right?

Finland has a rich heritage of metal, and Blastanus can be proud of their contribution to it with this collection of brutal tracks.  Wall to wall slam, frying politically charged vocals, & well placed guitar sweeps litter this album.  The drums are (mercifully) real, and the truly awesomely-named Hammer Fredriksson is one sick drummer.  Grinding when necessary, double bass rolling the ‘quiet’ sections then blastbeating the rest!  A couple of obligatory samples emerge towards the end of the album and, oh yeah, they have a saxophonist.

Most extreme bands with quirky additions like to throw them in your face at every opportunity (such as Nile‘s ‘Egyptian’ samples), but blastanus barely utilise Jussi Huurre’s saxophone for the majority of the album.  It’s standout moment occurring in the epic final track, the 7 minute, prog/jazz infused ‘Collapse’, and don’t let that description deter, it’s a fitting & fascinating album closer.  In fact the under utilisation of their ‘fifth element’ prevents the saxophone becoming a novelty & allows it to be a welcome addition to the sonic onslaught when it does appear.

Track one is quite midpaced, and while brutal, left me completely unprepared for what was to follow. Reward Failure is where the album really takes off. Full aggression and some tech death lead work had me banging my head incessantly.  And any band with a track called ‘HAMMERFIST’ deserves respect.

Being what it is, unashamed grinding death, Collapse won’t be to everyone’s taste.  Blastanus proudly display their influences, and if you’ve ever given the likes of Origin, Cryptopsy, Cephalic Carnage or even Ephel Duath a try, you’ll enjoy this!

With the resurgence in unsigned death metal across Europe it wouldn’t be surprising to see a tight unit like Blastanus on future festival and tour bookings, and if they keep to this level of intensity, I’ll certainly be watching them.

4.5/5

Tobias Gray.

Distorted Harmony – Utopia

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 15th June 2012 by tobiasgray

Band: Distorted Harmony
Album: Utopia
Release date: 14th May 2012
Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: Unsigned

Few things cause more trepidation and anxiousness to this reviewer as the words ‘Prog Metal‘.  For every band that does it well, there are thousands trying to be the next Dream Theater, Tool or Opeth; tragically falling on their own pretentious swords.  Thank (insert relevent deities here) for Distorted Harmony then.

The over-arching impression of Utopia is one of sublime beauty.

Here is a band that understands that no matter how complex  or rhythmic your music, all things must serve the song.  Every instrument has its’ moment to shine, including multiple keyboard solos that are actually listenable (Bodom take note)!  Songwriting aside the strongest element of Distorted Harmony is Misha Soukhinin’s heart-rendingly gorgeous voice.  A cross between Maynard James Keenan (Tool) and Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), with hints of Muse and unusual melodic lines thrown in as a welcome bonus.

The song durations are unsurprisingly long, as to be expected from this genre, and yet your attention is held throughout.  I would recommend listening to this album as a whole, as it offers a much more rewarding experience digesting as a complete ‘works’.  The production, as practically everything else on this album, is flawless, and the band are offering it free from their homepage (although donations are welcome).

Distorted Harmony have created a universally appealing 6 track release, it’s jazz and classical influences colliding with a very Western, epic style of songwriting – somewhat surprising considering the band all hail from Tel Aviv, Israel.  ‘Utopia’ is well worth checking out, an emotional journey of an album and, as previously stated, sublimely beautiful.  Maybe next time I hear the dreaded ‘Prog Metal’, I’ll think back to Utopia and not be so cynical.

5/5

Tobias Gray.

Walking Dead Suicide – The Rise Of Resistance

Posted in CD, Experimental, Metal with tags , , , , on 14th June 2012 by tobiasgray

Walking Dead Suicide
The Rise Of Resistance
Due For Release: July 2012
Prog Death Metal
Self-Released

Walking Dead Suicide are a progressive death metal band from Helsinki.  Featuring members of Difuse Content Band and Fitcone, they aspire to create epic tracks described as ‘atmospheric, dark death metal without limits’ in their own words.  The measured pace and down tempo drums betray an affinity for sludgy old school DM, while the extended song lengths and meandering song structures give them their ‘prog’ credentials.

The first thing that struck me is just how similar their vocalist is to Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal.  If someone played me a track from The Rise Of Resistance I’d swear it was an early demo of his.  Musically the ambition is plain, but the epic, labyrinthine music Walking Dead Suicide so eagerly want  to create is beyond their range so early in their career.  Whether it’s through inexperience or a hurry to get an album done, the end result feels a little hollow.  Some experimental sections seem to be put in at random, purely for the sake of extending and (or) disrupting the song.  The solo’s also appear improvised somewhat and once again, through overreaching or bravado, they don’t compliment the music that backs them.

You can never fault musicians wanting to push their own abilities and attempting to create complex music, but I feel that a little more thought and time in the studio would have reflected Walking Dead Suicide‘s vision more accurately.  Unfortunately in its current state, The Rise Of Resistance is the sound of a bands reach exceeding their grasp.

2.5/5

Tobias Gray.