Archive for Album

Artania – Night Shall Crown Ye [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Artania
Album: Night Shall Crown Ye
Release year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

Russia is known for its cold and cruel winter and its old, bloodthirsty leader Stalin, both of which have shaped Russia into the perfect grim environment for any black metal musician looking for bleak and nihilistic inspiration for their music. The grim environment has done more than just provide inspiration however as it has been the breeding grounds for many underground black metal bands in Russia. In 2007, Artania was born from said breeding ground, with a more black-death metal sound. After several line-up changes, they soon developed a unique blend of symphonic black metal complete with Russian lyrics. “Night Shall Crown Ye” is Artania’s debut album, released originally on May 31st through Graillight Productions in the band’s native Russia but is now available for digital release exclusively through Hunter’s Moon Records.

The air raid sirens of “Alchemic Dream (Demonic Mantra)” begin the album. The symphonic orientated riffs soon follow complete with angsty drums and violent guitar sections. The vocals are a combination of beasty and scary – Probably due to the Russian lyrics they’re screaming. The drum work is very precise and technical, showing great intellectual playing from the drummer. The whispered section is somewhat eerily haunting. The only downside to “Alchemic Dream” is that it doesn’t seem as aggressive as a black metal track usually is – This could be a result of the emphasis on the orchestration or perhaps a fault on the producer’s behalf.

The title track “Night Shall Crown Ye” begins more slow paced with a slightly progressive sound echoing from the drum work. The pace slowly and ever so slightly increases, building up for the appearance of the vocals. To begin with, the vocals are more along the lines of death metal as opposed to black metal. The Russian lyrics help give the track that certain grim touch that very few black metal bands today can pull off. Another key element about the track is the lack of orchestration when compared to the guitars and drums and the use of female vocals is simply enchanting, for lack of a better word. “Mysteries of Order of Priorate Zion” is an aggressive and barbaric track at the start. The vocals have become more hateful and rage-fuelled. There is more use of symphonic elements compared to “Night Shall Crown Ye”, adding a very Gothic sound to it. A big downfall for “Mysteries of Order of Priorate Zion” is that it doesn’t seem as heavy as it’s meant to be.

The acoustic beginning of “Liturgy in Black Colors” greets the listener unexpectedly. Fortunately for those whom don’t enjoy acoustic guitars, the sound of electric guitars soon blasts through. There is more use of orchestration as well as more black metal screams, which is always a good thing for black metal fans. During the second half of the track, the acoustic guitar appears again, which puts a sudden halt to the energy of the track and the vocals seem to be more demonic, more violent and more spiteful, sounding almost like the blood curdling screams of Abaddon. “San-Grinyol (Theatre Of Death” continues from where the previous track finished, bringing in more use of acoustic instrumentation to begin with before the savagery of the electric guitars and drums breaks in. “San-Grinyol” is clearly more brutal than the previous four tracks and is possibly one of the best on the album so far. The guitar solo is well composed though slightly short.

The assaulting drum work and guitar riffs of “Fogs Of Witches Heath” tears through next, bringing raw, untamed energy and aggression with them. The vocals are more bloodthirsty and savage in their sound, which is both terrifying and awesome. The combination of female vocals and piano medleys is immense, especially when when the track turns heavy again with the female vocals working alongside the harsher vocals, in true beauty and the beast fashion. “Towards Northern Wind” brings a calmer approach to the album whilst retaining a certain element of heaviness at the same time. Disappointingly, there is a lack in the use of orchestration, save for the introduction and the middle section. During one part of the second half, the vocals sound very raspy, which is a great effect for both the album and the track. “Thirteenth Sign Of Nostradamus” can only be described as hauntingly Gothic to begin with before the melodic guitar work kicks in followed by the raw sounding vocals. The whole track seems to be more passionate and energetic than the rest of the album which says a lot considering how energetic the previous tracks are.

The album finishes with “Secrets Of The Moon”, which is another track to feature an acoustic beginning. The female voiceover in Russian adds a very creepy sound which is soon fought off by the sudden – and unexpected – increase of heaviness. The track remains consistent in its brutal aggressiveness. The drum work is intelligent and the guitar sections are immense. “Secrets Of The Moon” is possibly the most brilliant way to end the album.

It’s hard to believe that “Night Shall Crown Ye” is the debut album of Artania, as the album has such a mature sound to it, anyone would think its Artania’s third or fourth album. The sound is unique, brilliant and definitely worth a listen, even if some parts of the album are a let down. Clearly, Russia is a country filled with talented musicians and Artania’s “Night Shall Crown Ye” is evidence of this.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Pictures Of Pain – The Reckoning [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , on 25th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Pictures Of Pain
Album: The Reckoning
Release year: 2011
Genre: Melodic Metal

Pictures Of Pain are described as a “melodic metal band with a unique sound”. They hail from grim and frostbitten lands of Norway, a country renowned for its history, mythology and black metal. Originally, forming in 2005, Pictures Of Pain have gone on to support bands such as Kamelot, Ensiferum and Leaves’ Eyes.

The introduction of “Betrayal” is certainly a unique one. Its calm, melodic and slightly progressive with sudden, short-lived sections of heaviness which are combined with black metal styled vocals. The track does turn aggressive. The vocals are different to how one would expect them to be to they sound to be a combination of both power metal and black metal styled vocals. There is a major use of clean vocals throughout the song as well, which helps keep the track interesting. The drums are precise and intelligently played. In some sections, the cleaner vocals do spoil the song a bit when they begin to scream in the old skool metal way.

”Far Beyond” begins in a similar fashion, only the introduction has more of a hypnotic yet eerie sound to it. The vocals are more clean on this track as well, whilst the guitars have lightened up a little bit but still bring that driving force of metal with them. The melodic riffs are also featured, which is a good thing for those who are fond of the more melodic sections. “Eternal Rage” is more slow paced to begin with, with a slight progressive feel to the drums. The vocals can be scarcely heard to begin with which is slightly disappointing, though they soon become more audible. They contrast brilliantly between harsh and bloodthirsty to clean and powerful-sounding. The slow, calming section towards the middle is certainly a refreshing sound from the onslaught of heavy, face-melting metal found in the majority of the first track. The guitar solo is well composed and a brilliant addition to “Eternal Rage”. The only issue as such with this one is the length, as the casual listener would possibly get bored after the first half of the track.

”Deviator” blasts its way next, with a an old skool meets modern metal sound. The vocals are reminiscent of Judas Priest and Venom. The riffs and drum work are very savage yet well composed at the same time. “Sign Of Times” is another slow-paced song yet just as epic as the tracks before it. The melodic riffs are just brilliant and the drums certainly bounce off the guitars very well. However, the clean vocals are lacking a fair bit compared to the music. The clean and eerie introductory riff of “Years Of Disgrace” which suddenly transforms into an aggressive and barbaric assault of metal upon the listener’s ear drums. Interestingly, the track switches between the soft, clean sections and the heavily aggressive sections very well.

Next is the title track, “The Reckoning”. The intro is more brutal than expected whilst keeping the smoothness of the melodic riffs. The vocals are strong and powerful, almost operatic sounding. “The Reckoning” certainly has a very power metal sound to it. The screams aren’t too bad on this track, they just don’t seem to go with the riffs. The drums are almost machine like in their precision and power. “Final State” follows after with a majestic intro. The vocals are mesmerising and epic. The riffs can only truly be described as sagaic whilst the screams are somewhat demonic sounding, mixing well with the more aggressive sections of the track.

The final two tracks of the album are demos form 2005 and 2006. “From The Ashes”, the demo from 2006, is next. It certainly is very different from the rest of the album and shows how much Pictures Of Pain’s sound has evolved. “From The Ashes” seems to have more emphasis on the harsh screaming and the rough and raw riffs as opposed to a clean and crisp sound. The final song of the album is “Guardian Of Tears”, the demo from 2005. Again, it is different to the rest of the album due to the raw, untamed sound of the guitars and drums. The sound is also more distorted as well, giving it a more underground and in-your-face sound.

There is no doubt that Pictures Of Pain have a very unique sound. Each track seems to be different from the other whilst retaining that certain sound that Pictures Of Pain are working hard to create. Even the vocals seem to be different on each track. “The Reckoning” is clearly an album for those bored of the same old generic sound that most bands seem to have these days as it is fresher and more exciting than most albums out at the moment.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Adamus Exul – Death, Paint A Vision [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 24th July 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Adamus Exul
Album: Death Paint A Vision
Release year: 2010
Genre: Black Metal

Australia is a typical tourist destination due to it’s wonderful sights and hot weather – Too hot for frostbitten music like black metal one would think, however, this is not the case because in the shadows of Australia’s tourist destinations lies an ever brutal, ever frostbitten, ever extreme black metal scene and at the heart of that scene are Adamus Exul.

The first track of “Death, Paint A Vision” is called “Dreams Of Desolation”. Even at a low volume, the listener’s ears are savagely assaulted by a great mix of guitars and double bass pedals. The vocals are strong, raw and beasty – As is to be expected of any black metal band. Interestingly, there are some slightly melodic sections which keeps the track entertaining. The drums are precise, almost machine-like though still barbaric and face-smashingly heavy.

”Ruins Of Zion” mixes melody with sheer aggression in its introduction whilst the rest of the track seems to favour straight forward brutality over melody, though this is not a bad thing for fans of no-holds-barred black metal. The use of a speech over is certainly unexpected but fits in well with the theme of the song. The vocal section that follows sounds very much like Dimmu Borgir and a casual listener to black metal would certainly make the mistake of believing it to be Shagarth. Another interesting section of this track is the short section that sounds very much like a breakdown of some sort.

The title track, “Death, Paint A Vision” favours a melodic yet bone smashing approach at the beginning. The drums add to the savagery of the track, whilst the vocals help it sound more beastly. Whilst the title of the track is somewhat poetic and intelligent, the track itself is the complete opposite, bombarding the listener with bloodthirsty riffs and demonic-like vocals. “Death, Paint A Vision” is very much like an old-skool Gorgoroth track in sections due to the fast tempos and sheer aggressive brutality. “In Absentia” is the half way point of the album and the interlude. Shockingly, “In Absentia” is acoustic though the acoustic guitar is a welcome change for those tired of orchestrated interludes.

“Echoes Of Self Destruction” tears its way through the album next, beginning with a frightening and hellish introduction of pounding guitars and drums. The vocals are more aggressive and unholy-sounding as well, mixing well with the demonic essence of the track. Though “Echoes Of Self Destruction”, there are small sections of melodic guitar licks every now and then which do keep the track interesting. The use of acoustic guitar returns as well, adding a certain calmness to the hurricane-like force of black metal, though this calm doesn’t long before the hurricane returns. “Abhorrent Euchrist” changes the style of the album a bit, bring a more melodic use to the album, which is both weird and refreshing. Even the vocals have changed, sounding more raspy, to fit in with the melodic stylings of the track. Drums still sound good despite becoming somewhat lighter for this track and the guitars seem to have less distortion. Fortunately for those who prefer black metal screams over raspy vocals, the screams make a triumphant return towards the end of “Abohorrent Euchrist”.

The final piece of the album is the song “Ashes” which like the previous song, begins melodically. However, “Ashes” brings back the raw aggression and savagery found on the rest of the album. The sound on this track seems to be more raw and barbaric with everything sounding like they have more punch. Interestingly, the acoustic guitar, once again, returns but combined with some majorly angry growls, making for a strange yet brilliantly created sound. Unfortunately, the sound doesn’t last for long. A military styled drum roll also makes an appearance, working well alongside the raw guitar riffs.

Adamus Exul bring a new sound to black metal with “Death, Paint A Vision” whilst sticking to an old skool Norwegian black metal sound as well. Most of the tracks are reminiscent of the early black metal scene in Norway while containing a fresh feel. Adamus Exul are certainly a band to keep an ear out for because they could be dominating more than Australian metal scene soon enough.

4/5

Nico Davidson

Episode 13 – Death Reclaims The Earth [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 20th June 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Episode 13
Album: Death Reclaims The Earth
Release year: 2010
Genre: Black Metal

Turkey is a country known for its rich history and culture but less known for its metal scene. In 2001, Episode 13 formed, slowly building both a fan base and a name for the Turkish metal with their black metal stylings. “Death Reclaims The Earth” is their latest release.

”Ars Moriendi”, Latin for “The Art Of Dying”, begins with a dirge like guitar riff, which suits the track well considering its name. The vocals aren’t as rough or vicious as expected to begin with, though when the tempo increases the vocals become far more aggressive, fortunately. The drums are heavy, like they should be on any black metal track. the tempo switches between fast and slow, which is slightly irritating to begin with though one soon gets used to it. “Physical Comatose & Mental Overdose” starts with a slightly faster guitar section, whilst the drums are slow but precise to the beat. The vocals come in with a good start, full of aggression and angst. The blast beats are immense, bringing heaviness to the track.

The third track, “Unmensch”, which is German for either “brute” or “monster”, comes next, turning up the aggression, brutality and heaviness by a few notches. Everything sounds more violent and savage on this track, which is always a good thing. “Ignorance Is Bliss” turns things down a notch whilst staying murderous sounding. The drums sound disappointing at first though they gradually improve. The vocals, on the other hand, sound more grim and bloodthirsty. “Ultimate Sterilization” brings things back up a notch with a brilliant opening section that assaults the ear drums like a blitz over London. The riffs have a very old skool black metal sound to them, similar to a mixture of Venom and Gorgoroth. The drums are savagely intelligent whilst the bass work is immense and somewhat different in some sections.

Nearing the end of the album is the second track “Worthless”. It is lighter compared to the previous track though still heavy enough to considered metal. The tempo has slowed down as well which is a nice touch. The vocals, on this track, could be compared to the dying groans of a cow being mutilated – Which is pretty damned kvlt. A faster tempo does occur on this track, though it still stays light. The final track is “Spread His Word”. The introduction sounds like a stampede of a demonic legion due to the sheer brutality of it. The vocals sound more powerful, more aggressive and more violent while the riffs are like the hellish anthems of the underworld. This track is virtually unrelenting in its brutality, aggression and musical genius.

Episode 13 have proved themselves to be one of the best bands rising in the black metal scene. With a raw, untamed sound combined with unrestricted brutality, “Death Reclaims The Earth” is a gemstone of an album, worth every penny. Episode 13 are a band to keep an ear out for as we’ll certainly be hearing more great things from these guys!

4/5

Nico Davidson

66crusher – Blackest Day [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 20th June 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: 66crusher
Album: Blackest Day
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Thrash Metal

66crusher have been on the rise since the release of their debut album “in 2005. Since then they have been fighting their way to the top of the worldwide metal scene, gaining new fans each year. “Blackest Day” is the next step in their journey.

The title track, “Blackest Day”, is the first track of the album. It begins with a very thrash-influenced guitar riff whilst the drums are more laid back in comparison. The vocals are classic metal in their sound, standing out from the music – In an epic way. The vocals work well with the soft riff about half way through the track, giving the track a slight progressive edge. The track ends in true thrash metal style. “Recreated Destiny” has a slower, more emotional sounding introduction. Both the guitar riff and vocals are soft yet majestic, whilst touching a very deep emotional level not usually found in thrash metal. The track’s pace increases with the appearance of the drums, which again are quite laid back compared to the guitars. The vocals sound more powerful later on during in the track.

Following after is “Unsaid”. The intro is slow, heavy and dominating. The vocals, again, are soft to begin with, as is the piano medley that joins them. The drums slightly overpower the piano, which is somewhat disappointing. The track switches between light and heavy – Which is a nice emotional effect for the song. Next is “Concept of Elimination”, beginning with a choppy guitar section, which soon replaced by a more consistent, melodic guitar riff and an acute drum pattern. The vocals are strong, with a hint of a Judas Priest-sound. There is a good blend of progressive-sounding softer sections and heavier, savage thrash-styled riffs throughout the track, which makes up for it being almost ten minutes long.

”Recreated Reality” blasts next with an immense riff of violent proportions. The drums are barbaric yet precise to the beat. The vocals are still going strong, keeping the track interesting. Some of the riffs leave much to be desired though it is mostly a decent track. “Borderline” is another track that begins with a choppy riff, which can be off-putting for new listeners and just seems to drone on for the first few minutes. Another issue with the track is the length of it – Just over twelve minutes – Which again, can be off-putting for new listeners. The other riffs are well composed and sound great, as do the vocals and drums.

Nearing the end of the album comes “Shipwrecked”. Like some of the other tracks, the intro riff is soft and melodic, though it is short lived. The heavier riff certainly brings more excellence to the track though the drums are lacking in comparison. The vocals seem deeper yet more defined. They seem suitably combined with the acoustic riff. One thing that stands out the most about this track is the emphasis on the acoustic riffs, though the heavier riffs do play an important part of the track. “Shipwrecked” is certainly the best track of the album.

”Diminished Mind” starts with a mediocre sounding riff, which is a let down compared to the previous track. The vocals seem weaker as well and the drums also are lacking in power. The track does improve later on however, with some very Megadeth-styled riffs. “Us Beneath The Sea” is the final track of the album. Like some of the previous tracks, its intro is a soft riff, as are the vocals and drums. The riffs later become more wild west-sounding for a short while but they stay soft for the majority track, making for a good chill out track after eight brutalising tracks. The guitar solo towards the end does make the track slightly heavier though not by much.

”Blackest Days” features a strange yet wonderful mixture of progressive metal and thrash metal combined with some old skool sounds. 66crusher have certainly out-done themselves with this album, though there are some sections that could have done with more work.

4.5/5

Nico Davidson

Sulphur – Thorns In Existence [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19th June 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Sulphur
Album: Thorns in Existence
Release year: 2011
Genre: Blackened Death Metal

Sulphur, who formed from the ashes of nineties black metal band “Taakeriket” and are made up of ex-members of Gorgoroth, Aeternus and Enslaved, have been a fierce, dominating force to be reckoned with in the Norwegian metal scene. Following a few years of laying dormant, Sulphur are back and fiercer than ever with “Thorns In Existence”.

”Revelations” begins with an eerie yet cheesy keyboard introduction, the kind that would be heard in a low-budget horror film. The guitars and drums, while greatly composed, are lighter and more melodic than expected. “True Father Of Lies” follows after, continuing from where “Revelations” finished. The guitars are less melodic and focus more on violent riffs, whilst the drums favour an aggressive approach as well. The vocals are ruthless and unrelenting, keeping the track beastly and heavy. A huge improvement from the first track “Revelations”, though the keyboard section on this track has a hint of cheesiness.

“The Purifying Flame” begins with a very creepy set of sound effects which are soon replaced by ferocious guitar riff and a brutalising drum pattern. The vocals, again are ruthless sounding, unrelenting in their aggression throughout most of the track. The strained whisper-like vocals combined with the slow guitar riff bring a new dynamic to the track. The guitar solo is most impressive, blending well with the stream of double bass pedal. The next track, “Hunting Sickening Seas” starts with a slow, brutalising and shockingly good intro. The vocals have more of a death element which mixes in well with the slow intro. There is a use of clean vocals on the track which gives it more a creepy sound. The acoustic section about half way through the track is a surprise yet a welcome break in between the storm of guitars, vocals and drums.

“Luna Noctiluca” follows after with a slow-paced, brutal and melodic guitar and drums section. The tempo increases with the introduction of the vocals. There is a contrast of clean vocals and screams, which works well with the music. The guitar solo is certainly a highlight of the track and perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about the album. “Into Nothingness” fades its way next. Even after the faded intro, the track seems weak and soft. In some sections, the vocals sound odd and the drums are semi-audible. in the same way it began, it fades out, making way for “Inverted Visions of Eternal Salvation”. It begins with a half-muted intro which soon turns beasty and aggressive. The drum work is intelligent, whilst the guitars are masterfully played and composed. The vocals are still going strong, working well with the synth sections. The track ends on a very creepy note.

“Ravner Beiter I Banesår”, which roughly translated means “Ravens pastures in his death-wounds”, blasts its way next, turning up the level of violence and brutality. The vocals are more slow-paced compared to the guitars and drums, though just as beastly and savage. There are some melodic riff use in one or two sections of the track, which is a pleaser for those who prefer melody over brutality. The track ends with a dramatic symphonic section. “Throne of Illusion” is the second to last track, beginning with a ghastly synth riff, similar to one found in a previous track. The guitars and drums that follow are nothing short of violent, savage and barbaric. The vocals have the bloodthirsty sound to them, as is to be expected. The breakdown towards the end is extremely unexpected however brings a whole new level to both the track and the album.

“A Crimson Line” is the final track of the album. The introductory riff is similar to one found on a Lamb of God album, only with more bite. The brutality and melody contrasts and blends brilliantly and the vocals are still going stronger, perhaps stronger than what they have been for the rest of the album. The use of keyboards and drums only on part of the track is just pure genius. “A Crimson Line” is certainly one of the best tracks on the album.

It’s easy to see why Sulphur have been a dominating force in the Norwegian metal scene. “Thorns In Existence” combines the best of black metal and death metal and mixed in a vast amount of musical genius and talent. This is certainly one of the best albums to come out of Norway since the early days of the Norwegian black metal scene.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Northsong – Winter’s Dominion [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 18th June 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Northsong
Album: Winter’s Dominion EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Viking Metal

Northsong is the solo project of American musician Cortland Runyon. “Winter’s Dominion” is the debut EP, due for release 24th June 2011.

”Prelude” begins with the sound of wind, which is eventually replaces by a symphonic section, semi-audible drums and a guitar section. The symphonic sections are grand and majestic, giving the EP a very regal feel. The track is very keyboard heavy, as the guitars only have a small part on this track, however the stream of double bass pedal throughout the majority of the track doesn’t blend well with the symphonic elements. “Mountains Of Madness” begins where “Prelude” finishes. The intro keyboard section has a very Gladiator soundtrack feel to it. The drums can be barely heard over the guitars, keyboards and vocals. The vocals are very death metal-influenced. The guitar sections are rough and aggressive whilst the vocal sections sound very distorted.

”Heathen War” begins with a fast paced and brutal guitar riff. The keyboard sections are epic and heroic-sounding, making the track somewhat sagaic. The drums are still semi-audible. The guitars remain fast paced throughout most of the track, stopping only for a symphonic break halfway through the track and one at the end. Next is “Desperation”. The intro riff is slower compared to that of the previous track. The vocals are still going strong, though still sounding distorted in some sections of the track. The keyboard riffs, however, are thing that stand out most about this track.

The title track, “Winter’s Dominion” begins with a calm, melodic intro mixed with an epic symphonic medley. A fast paced drum section joins in soon after, ruining the intro slightly due to the contrast in speed between the two. The track turns heavier with the introduction of the guitars. The drums however remain seemingly weak. The final track is a cover of Windrider’s “Let Death Be Our Pride”. The track is pretty much exactly like the original except for a slower tempo, weak drums and different vocals, though the clean vocals sound eerily similar to the ones found on the original. However, it is a surprisingly good cover.

”Winter’s Dominion” is a good EP though there is much room for improvement. The EP could have been more enjoyable if the drums were heavier and some parts of the tracks were produced better. However, it is a good debut EP and shows potential for Northsong.

4/5

Nico Davidson