Sanity’s Rage – You Are What You Swallow (Review)

Sanity's RageImagine, if you will; Anthrax and Kreator jamming together to create an unholy Thrash-tastic side project. Sanity’s Rage are that theoretical band.

Hailing from Belgium this is an absolute stormer of an album. Tight playing, and galloping, exciting riffs mean there is never a dull moment. A strong production accentuates the dynamic songwriting of each track and there is real bite to these songs. This is no nostalgia-fest. Rather than looking back to the past they drag it fully into the present and it’s like the Thrash heyday is alive and well and centred on Belgium.

Each song on here is focused, mature, and full of more chops, riffs and solos than most bands manage in an album. And it’s relentless. No pseudo-ballads here; just pure, unadulterated Thrash metal.

Pummelling. Pounding. Shredding. Shred-fest. I could go on, but you get the idea. Like a breath of fresh air this album fills you up with all of the goodness of Thrash Metal, before ripping your face off with speed and precision steel.

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Xothist – Xothist (Review)

XothistXothis play the kind of Black Metal that separates the true Black Metal affectionados from the wannabes. There is nothing even remotely pretty or commercial here.

Two tracks of wicked Black Metal full of spite and mystery, each song 20:47 in length. The songs are long but not dull, and have several shades of light and dark that Xothist move through like a hidden predator.

This is a very underground, lo-fi recording with fuzzy emotive guitars and drums buried under so much rawness that they are like a pulse; sometimes unnoticeable but always vital.

The vocals are of the really high-pitched, scratchy, almost-static variety that I enjoy so much. Sometimes it can be hard to ascertain where the vocals stop and the guitars start, and vice versa. All of which just adds to the the experience.

This release travels from ambience to blasting and all points in between. If you are a true fan of Black Metal then this should be right up your foggy street.

Colosso – Abrasive Peace (Review)

ColossoThe music is state-of-the-art bleeding-edge Extreme Metal, but the vocals are pure Death Metal; powerful and going straight for the throat. Colosso combine the best parts of bands like Behemoth and Nile, add a sprinkling of cyber-Metal akin to Fear Factory at their heaviest, and cap it off with focused brutality.

The songs tear themselves out of the speakers with razor sharp claws and venomous fangs ready to slay everyone in sight. This is music not to be messed with. The album boasts a thoroughly modern production and sound, and all of the benefits that 21st century technology can offer. In fact this is a perfectly judged combination of technological and traditional Metal – rather than swamping the metal with bleeps and break-beats to create some hybrid that is neither techno nor Metal, here the cyber-Metal influences serve to merely accentuate the relevant parts of the songs, while the very Metal guitars, drums and vocals take centre stage.

Eight tracks of thundering Metal later and the album is done. Oh, apart from the obligatory throwaway techno-Metal remix track of course, which does somewhat dilute the essence of the main album by being a rather poor closure after the last track proper has faded away. Nonetheless, this is a minor quibble in what is otherwise an exemplary album and a perfect example of what modern Extreme/Death Metal should sound like in 2013.

As a side-note there is also an instrumental version of this album out there named Peaceful Abrasiveness. That should tell you a lot about the quality of the music here and its ability to stand alone. And with the vocals added…well, that just makes it even better.

Cellador – Honor Forth (Review)

CelladorCellador play very lively and speedy Power Metal. The songs are chirpy, upbeat and have good composition. Their version of Power Metal is the hybridised Speed Metal version, with even the odd blastbeat appearing. This may bring up visions of Dragonforce, and although it’s undeniably the same genre they are not overly similar.

Plenty of musical chops and guitar heroics are displayed but an ear for a good tune and good song structure is not forgotten either. Vocals are passionate and well-done, not falling into the trap of being overly theatrical, (which there is nothing inherently wrong with as such, but it takes exceptional skill to pull off correctly to my mind).

Cellador are a very talented band, and very proficient at what they do. Both guitar and keyboard solos are incorporated into this EP increasing its enjoyability by being nicely embedded in the songs rather than sounding out of place.

Overall I liked this release and look forward to what the future holds for the band.

Verbum Verus – Melkiresha (Review)

Verbum VerusUnholy Black Metal from the Netherlands – this album is a powerhouse of occult music, straining at the walls of reality and communing with the dread beings that lie beyond.

Things start out very promising indeed with the opening hymn The Fourth Kingdom – a 10 minute Black Metal master-class in modern darkness. From here things progress nicely through the album with every song contributing something to the whole. The final song is an ambient invocation that ends things appropriately.

Solid songwriting and an evil atmosphere mean this album evokes the imagery of the underworld and has the musical class to carry it off without sounding like a pretender to the Black Metal throne. A good sound, good playing and impassioned vocals elevate this above the hordes to deliver what is, in essence, a modern Black Metal album that can hold its head up proud and stand tall alongside the Watain’s and Deathspell Omega’s of the world.

Really enjoyable. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys variety and passion – demonic darkness from the Netherlands.

Eye of Solitude – Canto III (Review)

Eye of SolitudeAnd it begins – the start of the apocalypse is soft and gentle; slowly building and eventually giving way to a torrent of Doom so monolithic it’s almost overbearing. The sheer oppressiveness of the deep, deep vocals washing away all resistance to the new world that this depressive, bleak, yet wonderful music heralds.

First comes the Doom, and then comes the blast, but Eye of Solitude even manage to infuse blastbeats with a sense of hopelessness and despair. It may not sound like it, but for this kind of music that’s a compliment. 15 minutes in and the first song has finished. The second starts with no intro; it goes from silence to destruction in the space of a heartbeat. The sense of majesty is terrible to behold.

The nature of Eye of Solitude songs is one of a constant oppressive misery, spiked with the occasional uplifting, hopeful moment, only to have this hope removed and crushed without comment. The songs are long, the emotions deep. There is also a sense of frustration at play here; as if there is a railing and thrashing against the inevitable, before final acceptance takes place.

One of the clever aspects of this album is the simultaneous appearance of uniformity and linearity while at the same time having dynamics that are merely disguised by the highly emotive atmosphere that Eye of Solitude foster. This is a masterful stroke as it adds a layer of depth and complexity to the songs that is not always apparent on first listen – the very definition of discovering something new every time.

Based on the strength of their previous releases this is an album that I have been looking forward to, and I am very pleased to say I am not disappointed. Essential.

Coven 13 – Destiny of the Gods (Review)

Coven 13Well this is an enjoyable romp of an album! Traditional Heavy Metal mixed with elements of Revered Bizarre-style Doom, 70’s psychedelic influences and some good old rock ‘n’ roll swagger for good measure.

Attitude and plain old metal fun is the order of business here. Not to imply that they are a novelty band or “jokey” in anyway. Not at all; rather they have a joyousness to their sound that I imagine would translate very well live and that their performances would be, well, fun!

Traditional song structures and strong choruses abound, as well as some nice fretwork and solid tub bashing. The vocals immediately strike the listener as the most noticeable element of the band as the sheer enthusiasm and character that they have is a welcome change – there’s no way you could accuse this singer of not giving his all. The vocals appear to be imbued with the full force of his personality in a way that is relatively rare these days. In fact the entire album sounds out of place in today’s modern metal climate in many ways as it is a very individual record with scant regard for trends and cliques, etc.

A refreshing blast from the past come to liven up the present.

Warmaster – The End of Humanity (Review)

WarmasterWarmaster play old-school Death Metal in the style of Bolt Thrower, Obituary and the like. This style comes from an era when playing as fast/technical as you possibly can just wasn’t necessary and this really shows in the songs, as songs is exactly what we get. Unconcerned with these added-on extras to the Death metal repertoire, Warmaster play Death Metal as it originally was intended – with menace and skill.

Vocals are measured, good quality and are in the classic Death Metal vein. The drums hammer a steady beat to the relentless riffing and punishment metered out by the guitars. The odd solo or two also adds a splash of colour to proceedings while not sounding out of place. The songs are generally mid-paced with the occasional faster bit, but there is enough quality and variety of riffing to keep you engaged throughout the album.

Challenging all who hear them not to be carried away in a rapture of calls to war and destruction; I can imagine that these songs would translate extremely well into the live environment. Groove, melody and heaviness combining to make the foot tap, fist clench and head bang. And that’s just in the privacy of your own speakers. The more volume the better! Listening to this album it’s easy to get carried away with it. The End of Humanity is a respectable length at just under 47 minutes long bit it seems shorter than this as it passes by in such an agreeable way that I could, (and did), quite happily start it again from the beginning upon completion.

There’s more to Death Metal than just blasting. Discover the banner of Warmaster and let them lead you to victory.

Andramelech/Serpent Noir – Gateway to the Nightside (Review)

AndramelechA rather tasty split release here from two purveyors of dark Black Metal.

Andramelech offer up two largely, (but not wholly), mid-paced slices of exquisite Black Metal art. Speed is used as and when necessary but otherwise these tracks are more about the feeling conveyed and the atmosphere of blackened hellfire. The melodies, especially in The Voiceless Verb of Vovin, conjure up appropriate images and feelings of otherworldliness and tension. For 9 minutes the listener is made to feel distinctly uneasy – something bad is about to happen but who knows what? The songwriting here is first-rate and Andramelech are definitely a band to watch.

After Andramelech leave us with feelings of discomfort and incantations, Serpent Noir ease us in gently with a light chanting and invocation. Surely nothing bad can come of this? What could they be calling out to anyway, really? Whatever it is the next track, the 11 minute epic Shadow as a Portal channels it perfectly. A sense of forlorn longing and hopelessness slowly settles over this track. Something has been taken away and can never be returned. Despondent; what solution do you have except to succumb? Oblivion beckons and it is hungry.

Serpent Noir offer a complex and interesting take on Black Metal, and all the more pure for it. Exceptional drum work, atmospheric riffing and varied vocals make for a song that has more ideas and interest than a thousand Darkthrone-clones.

Two bands that are well worth a look.