Archive for usa

Agon – Hollowed Lake

Posted in Experimental, Metal with tags , , on 6th December 2018 by izaforestspirit

Agon
Hollowed Lake
Released 21st October 2018
Atmospheric Black Metal
Self-Released

Agon - Hollowed Lake

‘Hollowed Lake’ is the debut album from the American atmospheric black metal artist Agon. The project is the brainchild of solo musician and vocalist Andre Basora, based in Miami, Florida.

Miami is hardly the place that you would typically associate with black metal. It offers a sharp contrast to the grim and frostbitten northern landscapes where the genre first became popular. Straight from the start of the opening track My Yearning Heart you get a sense of the haunting atmosphere. If I were to imagine a setting which would fit this kind of music, it would be a dark forest on a stormy autumn night. The guitars sound raw, abrasive with an eerie feel and the bleak keyboard only adds to the gloomy ambiance. The vocals are fairly sporadic, coarse sounding rasps and yet they are still clear enough for you to follow the lyrics. Tunnel of Desolation is a bit of an acquired taste – if you are a fan of avantgarde metal with lots of distorted guitar noise then this is the song for you. Personally speaking that track gave me a headache and I would rather skip it.

Luckily what follows is more atmospheric black metal. We are still roaming through the dark forests, desperately searching for shelter from the ongoing storm. There is constant sense of fear and dread of what might be lurking in the shadows. The title track also caught my attention mainly due to the shift in style from black metal to early Burzum-esque dark ambient in the first half before returning to raw and eerie black metal for the remainder of the song.

In summary, ‘Hollowed Lake’ is a decent black metal album which succeeds in creating an eerie atmosphere whilst offering enough variety to keep the listener interested. However, at times it feels as though the avantgarde elements have been taken a bit too far, making the music disjointed.

3/5
Iza Raittila

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Sunflower Dead – Coma

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 12th November 2018 by Paul Macmillan

Sunflower Dead
Coma
Released  16th November 2018
Hard Rock
Released via Combat Records

Featuring former Fear Factory bassist, Christian Olde-Wolbers, Coma is the latest recorded work from Californian rock band, Sunflower Dead. If you’re expecting chuntering, mechanical metal, however, sit back and prepare for a surprise. This is nothing like the aforementioned metal giants of the 1990s.

Drawing in equal parts on nu-metal and 80s classics, SD have melded together a surefire concoction, utterly guaranteed for rotation on mainstream alternative channels. Big chunks of Korn, Dope, and Disturbed have been cherry picked to form a large part of the body of sound, but are equally matched by volumes of Skid Row, and Zakk Wylde (especially in some of the lead work shredding). Everything is further fleshed out with something else of the band’s own creation, plus a spritz of something akin to Pist. On. jamming with Sevendust.

Nothing groundbreaking, then, yet it still has character worth giving a chance. It wouldn’t be too much of a shock to see this band taking the reigns of the soundtrack for a sequel to Queen Of The Damned. Looking over their back catalogue, Coma is certainly a big step up from previous releases, but continues in the same style. Existing SD fans should get a real kick out of it. Personally, I’ve moved away from such things for the most part, as years have gone by. I wouldn’t shy away from it, but I’d be more likely to plump for yet another spin of Demanufacture. Maybe I’m just old…

3/5

Paul Macmillan

DevilDriver to release outlaw country covers album

Posted in Metal, Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , on 31st March 2018 by izaforestspirit

The American groove metal band DevilDriver have decided to stir things up in the metal scene by releasing an album of outlaw country cover songs. So if you want to hear Dez Farara’s take on Johnny Cash or Stan Jones’ classic ‘Ghost Riders in The Sky’ you’re in for treat.

The covers album will be called ‘Outlaws ‘Til the End’ and it is scheduled to hit the shops worldwide on 6th July 2018 via Napalm Records. You can see the cover art and the track-listing below:

1. Country Heroes (Hank Williams III cover)    
2. Whiskey River (Willie Nelson cover)    
3. Outlaw Man (Eagles cover)    
4. Ghost Riders in the Sky (Stan Jones cover)    
5. I’m the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised) (Johnny Paycheck cover)    
6. If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will) (George Jones cover)    
7. The Man Comes Around (Johnny Cash cover)    
8. A Thousand Miles from Nowhere (Dwight Yoakam cover)    
9. Copperhead Road (Steve Earle cover)    
10. Dad’s Gonna Kill Me (Richard Thompson cover)    
11. A Country Boy Can Survive (Hank Williams Jr. cover)    
12. The Ride (David Allan Coe cover)

DevilDriver - Outlaws 'Til the End

For further details go to:

https://www.facebook.com/devildriver/

http://www.devildriver.com/

 

Æther Realm – One Chosen by the Gods

Posted in CD, Folk, Metal with tags , , , , , , , on 4th February 2013 by Hannah

Æther Realm
One Chosen by the Gods
Released 8th January 2013
Folk/Death Metal
Self-Released

North Carolina’s Æther Realm– no, they’re not from Finland- are a brilliant band that play no holds-barred, folk spirited metal that rouses the soul and provides an excellent soundtrack for generally epic activities- from pillaging villages to playing Skyrim. Their debut album, ‘One Chosen by the Gods’ is a solid and impressive offering that is incredibly atmospheric, and very strong from the first track to the last.

Opening on the mighty ‘Oak’, the album dives headfirst into epic folk melodies that are intertwined expertly with harsh vocals and an excellent use of both hard, metallic riffs and a softer, instrumental sound. As with the rest of the tracks, the lyrics are effective and play along to the ‘Viking’ theme exceedingly well. Second track ‘Journey of Discovery’ begins with an atmospheric, almost cinematic sound. In fact, this wonderful song in its entirety would be suitable for a fantasy epic. Fantastic effort here, with a good use of vocals and instrumentation throughout. This epic quality continues with ‘Hourglass’, which also contains a nice variation in tempo throughout, and helps to keep the album as a whole even more interesting. There are some very intricate melodies at play here, which adds to the multi-layered feeling of the track altogether. The band’s namesake song, ‘Æther Realm’ is a much faster paced track, with a heavy, stomping tempo that is reminiscent of horses galloping into battle. As heard on the previous song, this track contains some nice tempo changes and this helps to showcase the talent of the band well.

If I had to pick a favourite of the nine tracks on offer here, track number five would probably be it- but the fact it was so difficult for me to decide this shows how strong all of the songs on this album are! ‘Swampwitch’ is an incredibly catchy tune, with an infectious refrain and an impressive and not too excessive guitar solo. I particularly like the group of voices shouting the title throughout the chorus. Eponymous track ‘One Chosen By The Gods’ has a ferocious beginning, and it doesn’t disappoint as the track progresses. It’s a fantastic, rasping battle-cry of a song, complete with pounding, machine-gun drums. There’s an interesting use of symphonic keys in the mix here, which adds another melodic element to the track and lends it an almost video game-esque quality to the sound. Next song, ‘Ravensong’, includes a great use of choral vocals, with (the almost signature) sweeping melodic background- another excellent song, which is becoming something of a trademark for Æther Realm! The penultimate offering, ‘Winter’s Grasp’, is almost progressive in parts, and lends itself well to comparisons with Wintersun. Even so, in some ways this would be the weak link of the album, if it was at all possible to single out any of these songs as being ‘weak’- I merely feel, personally, that a slightly rawer, folk edge would have lent itself to the song a little better. Album closer ‘Odin Will Provide’, however, is a truly epic way to bring this triumph of an album to a close. Here are, once again, a strong melody, supported by fantastic and intelligent lyrics and another catchy refrain. This track ensures that the album makes its mark on your memory!

Overall, ‘One Chosen by the Gods’ is an excellent debut offering from a band that is well on their way to taking their place in the glorious ranks of the other Viking-clad folk metal behemoths. Æther Realm’s sound is somewhere in between Ensiferum and Wintersun, and if they can constantly deliver goods as solid as this, they will have nothing to worry about. A fantastically impressive set of songs, with no real weak link among them, and it has certainly whetted my appetite for more. I look forward to seeing what more Æther Realm have in store.

5/5

Hannah O’Flanagan

 

Arthurian Shield- Arthurian Shield

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , on 19th January 2013 by Hannah

Arthurian Shield
Arthurian Shield
Released January 16th, 2012
Death/Black Metal
Self-Released

Fayetteville, New York’s Arthurian Shield are purveyors of the death/black metal melding that seems quite prevalent recently, and their self-titled and self-released début suggests that they have definitely got what it takes to take their place in the ranks. Sole member Uther’s talent for song writing and expertly blending medieval touches into the general heavy sound of his tracks is evident in this release, and whilst it may not be showcased to its best potential, it is certainly there to be heard. As someone who is currently applying for PhDs based on Medieval Arthurian literature, I was very intrigued to find out whether or not the subject matter was handled successfully, and I was mostly pleasantly surprised.

First track ‘Arthurian Shield‘ is a strong opener, and although (like the rest of the album) it is plagued with some issues with the sound quality, in general the production on the track is not bad. Regarding the track itself, there are some good death vocals present here and the medieval inspired guitar licks throughout the song are a nice touch. The overall theme of the band/album and the general sound is continued in next track ‘Merlin‘, which has a steady and rhythmic opening and creates an almost trance-like and ritualistic feel to the track, which is definitely appropriate for the subject matter. Partway through the song, the vocals seem to disappear into the mix a little and become another instrument; whether or not this was intentional (and I suspect that it wasn’t) it is actually very effective and creates a wall of sound that helps the song to feel stompy without any sense of boredom. My personal favourite track ‘Avalon Arise‘ has a much cleaner and more melodic start than the previous two, complete with stock wind sounds and an almost magical quality to the melody. This is supported by the melodic chants that are reminiscent of Gregorian chanting and create an overall effective and atmospheric feel to the track as a whole, that effortlessly encompasses the character of the mystical and mysterious Isle of Avalon incredibly well.

Following track ‘Battle of Camlann‘, dealing with the final battle of King Arthur, should have been a ferocious and epic song, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite live up to expectations. There are blast beats galore throughout the track, but where this song fails comes mostly down to the production quality, which is a shame. The complexity of the guitar licks is lost in the mix, which means that the song falls a little flat after starting so ferociously. Penultimate track ‘Death of Uthyr Pendragon‘ starts well (strong starts are a continuing motif of this album!) and explodes into heaviness; after ‘Battle of Camlann‘ one finds oneself hoping that it can keep the energy up. Luckily, this track does succeed in staying energised, and the onslaught is successfully broken up every now and again through a recurring clean guitar line. This allows the listener to catch their metaphorical breath! Album finisher ‘Guiniviere‘ is something of a surprise, being a beautiful, soft medieval love song with wholly clean instrumentation and vocals. Uther does not possess the strongest clean singing voice, but the emotion he portrays throughout the track more than makes up for this- and the vocals get much more confident as the track progresses. ‘Guiniviere’ is a lovely way to bring the album to a close and again proves Uther’s skill as a songwriter.

Overall, the thing that Arthurian Shield suffers from the most is the production quality, but this is to be expected from a self-released offering. Every now and again the music suffers from a little bit of mistiming, but it’s generally impressive considering that it was recorded solely by Uther, excepting the bass parts. There is also a sizeable gap in between each track, which results in a fairly awkward silence that could detract from the quality of the songs on offer, but I am still more than satisfied with the album Uther has given us. Arthurian Shield have a lot of promise here, and they faithfully reproduce their subject matter without falling into the realm of cheese. I look forward to hearing their next selection, and wish Uther luck in finding the right people to complete his line-up.

3.5/5

Hannah O’flanagan

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

Corretja – ‘American Ragnarok’

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 30th April 2012 by tobiasgray

Band: Corretja
Album: American Ragnarok
Release date: October 2011
Genre: Metal
Label: Unsigned   –  http://corretja.net

 

 

Melodic death metal, with viking imagery and titles such as ‘A Battle For Lundene’; deathly vocals and blastbeats…this isn’t the new Amon Amarth album, but it’s a worthy addition to the (battle)field.  From Virginia USA, igniting the fires of European pagan metal – electronics included – on their home shores, Corretja have produced an album celebrating both American history and Norse mythology.  The tracks are concise (the longest clocking in at 3.55), and relentless in their energy.

From the American civil war to London’s bloodstained streets, ‘American Ragnarok’ is constantly throwing surprises and new ideas forward.  The opening tracks set the tone with pounding blasts, epic twin leads and atmospheric keyboards, then ‘Bull Run II’ introduces clean, electronically harmonised vocals intermittently – and the sample of a bull!

After 5 tracks of similarly powerful melodic DM (with thrash elements), ‘Throne of Bebbenberg’ appears with a minute long blast of old school, no frills death metal, minus keyboards.  It provides a quick detour from the established sound and nicely sets up the closing numbers ‘Enjoy the Violence’ and ‘Thrashowar’ – a drastically reimagined cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Photographic’ and a fitting tribute to Manowar’s drummer Scott Columbus respectively.

Corretja have an admirable DIY ethic, and while the programmed drums and prominent keyboards lack the ‘polish’ of major label releases, this does not detract from the charm, energy and aggression of the album.  The songs are well written, the instruments played well and the delivery is consistent.  The band want to pay tribute to metal and they have totally succeeded.

With eight tracks in 20 minutes, there’s no danger of getting bored, the variety of riffs on display and the catchy melodies keep you enthralled until the end.

4.5/5

Tobias Gray.