Drawers – Drawers (Review)

DrawersFrench Sludge/Stoner Metallers Drawers release their self-titled second album, and as soon as you press play it’s party time at the dive bar for everyone!

Coming across as a mix of Crowbar, Baroness and Mastodon, this is an enjoyable romp through France’s underbelly of Southern-tinged bars. Moving from scrape to scrape all night long and out into the crisp morning dawn to reflect on what’s been lost; the songs are largely high-energy but have a forlorn air of lost-innocence which is somehow endearing.

It’s this aura of fragility coating the otherwise burly riffing and coarse vocals that adds a layer of depth to the band; that lets you know there’s more to this drunken bruiser than meets the eye. The riffs may be heavy and scuzzy but the melodies hidden underneath the obvious give the band a secret ingredient; the same could be said of the vocals also.

Drawers have an undefined edge to their sound that is as apparent as it is hard to grasp. A wonderful combination.

If you enjoy rocked-out Metal of this variety but are also looking for something a little different with it’s own individuality then I’d suggest this album be on your list of wants.

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Black Space Riders – D:REI (Review)

Black Space RidersGermany’s Black Space Riders play a diverse modern brand of Stoner Rock and their new album is a whopping 80 minutes in length, so there is loads of content to get your head around.

Sounding very confident and polished, they still have enough snarl to them to give the tracks a bit of bite when appropriate.

This is a very accomplished album, mixing Rock and Metal together with elements of Stoner Rock, Skyscraper-esque emotional Rock, psychedelia and Progressive tendencies to create a very long and very involved album. With a release of this length it would be easy to include filler and bore the listener, but there is precious little of that on D:REI thankfully.

The album has a perfectly configured sound, with everything both clear and slightly fuzzed-up in true Stoner Rock fashion. In fact I’ll coin the term Sophisticated Stoner Rock to describe Black Space Riders, (You heard it here first); at their core is a Stoner Rock Band, but they’ve taken on a heap of other influences and have evolved into something more than these relatively humble beginnings.

With so much variety, interest and ideas in these songs it’s no surprise really that they needed such a long album to showcase them all. Each track has a different mood; a different feeling all based on an essential Stoner Rock core but with ambitious designs on being even more. Every song has its own character and the longer nature of the tracks gives each one the time to develop naturally and embrace the aspect of Rock that it is portraying.

A very complete album that is long enough to provide a journey and deep enough to provide a meaningful one. Highly recommended and highly enjoyable.

Interview with Upyr

Upyr3Bulgarian Blackened Doom band Upyr have recently released their very impressive first offering Altars/Tunnels, which is gathering them positive reviews all over the place. I was privileged to be able to grill them on the subject…

For those who are unfamiliar with the band – introduce yourself!

Brodnik: We are five mates who share the same need for expressing ourselves in the most grotesque and depressing ways the music allows.

V.B.: We are what represents the blackest of doom metal in the Bulgarian underground.

What are your influences?

Brodnik: The landscapes of our musical influences are quite vast and the borders kind of fade. If we begin with the ugliest of primitive black metal howls of Hellhammer, Bathory and the first releases of Sodom for example, pass through the mournful mists of Evoken, My Dying Bride and Tiamat, explore the psychedelic dimensions of Sleep and Neurosis and then take it south for a swamp ride with a blast of sludge to break it’s bones – that’s Upyr. The hardest part is to have all that in the bag and still make it sound simple and clear in form.

V.B.: In the cauldron we have mixed the legacy of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus with the dirtiness of Electric Wizard and Eyehategod. Outside of music we are inspired and provoked by life itself with all its philosophical and everyday aspects.

upyr4What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

Brodnik: From the recently produced albums I really appreciate Alkerdeel, Cough and Windhand. The Autopsy new album is a must! That’s what metal should be for me. Also tons of neofolk and post punk.

V.B.: Watch out! A Bulgarian band – Obsidian Sea with their debut album. Venomous Maximous, early Danzig stuff and the everyday dose of Johnny Cash.

What is the Bulgarian Metal scene like? How do you feel you fit in?

Brodnik: To talk about a strong metal scene in Bulgaria is a bit harsh. There are acts of class and original ideas but they are rather sporadic and they don’t lead to one strong core. We were welcomed very well by now. All our shows were well attended and we found bands that we share the same ideas of creating music with. That’s more than we expected. We will continue with the same passion to try and built those foundations of a scene because the audience here is very well educated, demanding and most of all deserving.

V.B.: Ok, Bulgaria is a former “communist” country and the iron curtain was no shit. The metal and the whole rock scene as a whole were almost forbidden and rather marginal till the early 90’s. That has had it’s effects on the forming of any kind of scene unfortunately. There is enthusiasm but it’s still hard for a Bulgarian band to expand its fanbase outside of the country.

What were your motivations to create this release, and why this style of music?

Brodnik: I’ve dig in almost every extreme and provoking genre of music and I had my share of playing in different bands but since I was a kid I was looking for something specific and with each next album and knowledge I’ve got, it was becoming clearer what it holds. You know that feeling. When I found doom metal, and especially depressive doom metal I felt like home.

V.B.: That’s the genre that unites us in this band, no matter of our different backgrounds. The right moment had come and we recorded, mixed and released the demo in the most natural way.

Brodnik: We released our first songs quite early in our time as a band because we needed a kickstart. Also I believe that releasing music no matter on what format is the most important part of the life of a band. That’s what remains in time, that’s the evidence of what you felt together in a certain period of time.

Altars/Tunnels is an extremely strong first release – how did the songs come about?

Brodnik: They came out almost by themselves, just after a few sessions of playing together. There are no newbies in the band and that also helps to achieve exactly what’s inside you.

V.B.: We never start with the idea of creating a certain type of song. It all begins in the rehearsal room with a riff or idea, then it turns into a jam, till we get the right pulsation of the upcoming song. We let our souls do it instead of our brains.

Upyr1What can you share about the meanings behind the songs?

V.B.: The lyrics are all written by Brodnik and they are deeply emotional. ”Hymn to Pan” is inspired by the original text of Crowley and I don’t think that’s a big surprise when you listen to our music.

Brodnik: They are profoundly emotional and true to my being. It’s an enormous amount of suffering implemented in the lyrics and the way I express myself through various vocal techniques. I try to create a world within the world, but the epicenter of it is the really messed up mind that I own. “Before the Altars of Necrotic Karma” is about the never-ending feeling that we’re doomed and we’re not meant to reach happiness, freedom or any kind of a conclusion or meaning for our existence. “The tunnels of my Sleep” is about my expanding problems with sleeping, I have insomnia that can last 4/5 days and cycle every second week, It’s really a different state of mind that you get into…

How did the recording process go?

Brodnik: The others recorded the first two songs live in a cheap studio for about a few hours, after that I recorded the vocals and we spent some time in the mixing room so we can get exactly what we wanted from the sound. The bonus song that’s only on the cassette release is a rehearsal jam of the dirtiest kind and sounds more like a demo.

V.B.: We should not forget that it’s a demo release. A friend of the band helped us with the mixing with great dedication and that brought the raw live material to another level without killing its punch.

Are you pleased with the end result of Altars/Tunnels? Would you do anything differently next time?

Brodnik: I’m pleased that we put out the songs in a release quite fast because that’s what matters. I believe that the magic of it is you can’t touch it when it’s out. I’m not a fan of reissues or remastered albums.

V.B.: I’m completely satisfied with the end product. There’s a lot of atmosphere. Nobody knows what it’s going to be next time but for sure the production will serve the music.

What does the future hold for Upyr?

V.B.: 2014 started more than well for us. The cassette release by Serpent Eve Recs. is already sold out in just a month and the guys from the label are working on a second edition due to the big interest. The reviews were really flattering for us and we will give our hearts to have a great 2014 year together.

Brodnik: We have two shows in February with KYLESA (USA) and TURBOCHARGED (SWEDEN), then we will take a short break and we will come back in April with a surprise. We plan some shows outside of the country too. Thank you for your interest!

Thanks!

Upyr2

Sceptre – Age of Calamity (Review)

SceptreAge of Calamity is the second album from India’s Sceptre. It’s a concept album about societal attitudes towards women delivered via the medium of a harsh brand of Thrash Metal.

By Jove there are some good riffs on this album! Wrath of God is a perfect example. Storming and crushing. The entire album is full of quality songs though, so it’s no surprise.

The vocals are raw and unadulterated, ranging from grunts to shouting to dirty-cleans. The singer is clearly passionate about the subject matter and nearly lets his enthusiasm get the best of him on occasion, but not in a bad way; this merely increases the authenticity of the feelings involved.

The music is clearly Thrash Metal, but with more of a modern tinge to the sound that might have some people surprised. This is the real deal though, with serrated riffs flying left, right and centre and high velocity drums leading the charge the entire way.

Sceptre may not be the most prolific band in the world but they have been around long enough to know their stuff, and this album is testament to that.

Quality Thrash from a quality band.

Godhunter – City Of Dust (Review)

GodhunterGodhunter are a Stoner/Sludge/Doom Metal band from the US, and this is their début full-length City Of Dust.

The album starts out slow and brooding, with the guitars sweeping in low and catching you almost unaware before pulling the feet out from under you in a flurry of desert dust and snake venom.

This is an album comprised of strong riffs and strong songs, but above all enjoyable. There is plenty of meat to the guitars and they have a great big satisfying sound; clear and organic. In fact the production in general manages to sound both professional and raw, taking the best aspects of both extremes to make sure that you know you’re listening to a real living band and not a computer-enhanced version of one.

Godhunter also make use of subtle atmospherics in some of the tracks that enhances the songs by adding more depth and shading. This is done especially effectively in Snake Oil Dealer.

The vocals rage and spit like an extremely angry pit-bull; all belligerence and defiance. He sounds like someone you wouldn’t want to cross for fear of ending up in a lonely, forgotten hole somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It’s not all shouting and anger though as Shooting Down The Sun shows.

Check out Godhunter and see what you think. Like Black Sabbath if they came from the desert and had a singer who angrily grunted and shouted at everyone in the vicinity; there’s plenty of Sludged up groove for everyone.

https://soundcloud.com/earsplit/03-brushfires

Interview with Lethe

Lethe LogoLethe have been responsible for one of the best multi-textural dark-Rock albums of some time in their début album When Dreams Become Nightmares. I asked them some questions to see how it all came about…

Hi! For those who are unfamiliar with your band, introduce yourself!

Tor-Helge Skei (THS): Hi everybody! We are Lethe.. 🙂 We’re a Norwegian/Swiss band, or project, consisting of Anna Murphy (Eluveitie, solo, Fräkmundt, nucleus torn, and heaps of other bands/projects) and Tor-Helge Skei (Manes, Manii, Kkoagulaa, etc.).

As Lethe is comprised of members of other bands, how did this project come about?

THS: Mostly by chance, actually. I posted something on my blog a while ago, about me thinking abut doing an album of cover songs, and wondering where I could start looking for vocalists and contributors to that. Shortly after, I got an email from Anna, and we almost immediately started working on a few songs (among others, ‘Hutterite Mile’ by 16 Horsepower). It didn’t take long before we just knew we had to do more music together…and the idea about Lethe was born..

Anna Murphy (A): A journalist (singer of Three Days of Silence) contacted me because Tor-Helge was looking for musical collaborators. So we got in touch, started on some music, finished some cover songs and decided to do a real project.

Lethe 1Is it important to keep Lethe a fully separate entity from Manes/Eluveitie?

THS: The chemistry in the various bands and between the members are quite different, and that influences how we approach music and presentation and everything, so there’s not much real effort being done keeping them separate, really. It comes naturally.

A: Well with Eluveitie it’s pretty obvious that Lethe has nothing to do with it apart from some members maybe pitching in from time to time, but Lethe and Manes share a lot of the same collaborators so there’s more connection there. I can imagine doing shows together and combined things like that, but of course they’re still to be looked at as separate projects.

What were the influences you drew on for the sound of Lethe?

THS: Oh, the usual, I guess. Life, death, mental processes, nightmares. Everything that happen/s/ed in our lives.

A: Lyrically as well as musically we have no limits, that’s probably what influences us most, because then we can draw inspiration from everywhere 🙂

The songs are multi-textured and very well composed. How did the writing process work for this album?

Lethe aloneTHS: I can only speak for myself, but it’s quite similar to how the ‘writing’ is done in the other bands/projects I’m involved with…chaotic, unplanned, whimsical…the music kind of grows on its own, and we just follow along 🙂

A: All hail the internet. Most of it was done by exchanging files back and forth. Most of the initial sketches came from Tor-Helge and I built my parts on top of them. To finalize everything and also record some things together I went on a trip to Trondheim.

Do you feel you accomplished what you set out to with this release?

THS: Yeah, since we had no concrete plans for the final result. It was more like pushing it in a direction we would like to see it go.

A: Yes!

What would you do differently next time, if anything?

THS: Hmm.. Anna talks about some smaller mixing and audio issues she would like to do better on the next album, but I don’t hear much of that 🙂 She works in a studio, and is a lot more focused on sound quality and frequencies and stuff like that, while I’m obsessed with the general feeling and mood only. I guess we’ll do it quite similar to how we made this album, but with other songs and ideas, of course. Actually, we’re working on a set of songs for the next album already, even if the first one isn’t officially released yet 😀

A: Nothing except maybe the mixing. I’m not quite 100% happy with it and I’m learning more and more each day so I think the next one will sound better 🙂

How do you feel this album fits into the wider music scene?

THS: A little on ‘the outside’ of everything, I guess. Never been interested in being in the middle of any genres or milieus. For me, the exploration of new and unknown musical paths is massively satisfying and motivating, but I have no idea if the ‘general music listener’ thinks like that. Can’t start focusing on the potential reaction while making music! The only thing that would do, is putting breaks on the creative process. No way.

A: I have no idea if it fits anywhere, but I don’t really care either.

Lethe 2What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?

THS: It’s been a lot of Lethe and Manes lately, of course, because of the new albums from both. Apart from that…varied stuff, mainly…Dälek, Shpongle, Blut Aus Nord, Jega, Ggfh, Billie Holiday, Buddy Rich,

A: Frostmoon Eclipse, they’re cool

What does the future hold for Lethe?

THS: New music, new albums, new personal horror stories.

A: No idea, let’s see! 🙂

Thanks!

Megascavenger – At the Plateaus of Leng (Review)

MegascavengerThe latest Megascavenger album, (a project of Rogga Johansson), contains quite the list of guest vocalists – just have a look at the line up, (taken from the promo blurb) –

1. At The Plateaus Of Leng (Vocals by DAVE INGRAM of Bolt Thrower/Benediction)

2. The Festered Earth (Vocals by KAM LEE of Massacre)

3. And Then The Death Sets In (Vocals by AAD KLOOSTERWAARD of Sinister)

4. The Mucus Man (Vocals by MARTIN VAN DRUNEN of Asphyx/Hail of Bullets)

5. Like Comets Burn The Ether (Vocals by DAVE ROTTEN of Avulsed)

6. When Death Kills The Silence (Vocals by FELIX STASS of Crematory)

7. The Hand Of Bereavment (Vocals by ILKKA JARVENPÄÄ of National Napalm Syndicate)

8. Back To The Ancient (Vocals by BRYNJAR HELGETUN of Crypticus)

9. Night Of The Grand Obscenity (Vocals by ROGGA JOHANSSON)

If that’s not enough to get expectations running high I don’t know what is.

This album is full of melodic Old-School Death Metal goodness, but also a few unexpected turns such as the clean vocals/keyboard side of The Festered Earth, or the cleans of The Hand of Bereavement. Variety is a good thing however and these little flourishes and touches just enhance the album as a whole.

At the Plateaus of Leng is crushing and without mercy, stomping and stamping on all who oppose. But more than brutality these songs are surprisingly melodic and succeed well in hooking the listener. The tracks march along easily enough, propelled by the mid-paced barrage of the drums and carried aloft by the tuneful guitars. Each song is well-written, being identifiable from the last and not just because of the different vocals. This is an album of songs rather than just a collection of tracks, and there are catchy moments in great supply.

All of the vocalists do a sterling job and add their own personality and character into each of the compositions. Each song may have a different vocalist but the album flows nicely and doesn’t sound disjointed or like a compilation album, even when they veer into more Heavy Metal territory with clean singing it still holds together well as a package.

A very accomplished release, chock full of classic Death Metal songs, each one as enjoyable as the last.

Chaos Inception – The Abrogation (Review)

Chaos InceptionUS Death Metallers Chaos Inception play such a chaotic whirlwind brand of Death Metal that it’s easy to get blown away by and miss out on just how much is going on in these 9 tracks.

Imagine a band like Morbid Angel only with the technicality and speed ramped up to the max. Chaos Inception mean business.

There is a relentless frenzied feeling to this album that is just short of an animalistic, instinctive craving for destruction. Having said that though there is nothing simple about this music; the band seem to have sharpened their attack to a fine point and the guitars in particular show some considerable musical muscle flexing.

It’s easy to like this kind of Death Metal, (assuming you’re a fan of complete extremity in the first place of course), as it just sweeps up anything in its path and dumps it unceremoniously into the grinder when it’s done. The instruments are all played extremely well, presumably by plague-ridden demons, and the album is just a treasure trove of brutal delights.

All of this adds up to an album that has a feeling of savage malevolence and ultra-violence. Chaos Inception will rip off your face and laugh at your misfortune. And they’ll do it at speed before you’ve even noticed.

For fans of real Extreme Metal only; if this is you then this is a must.

Cripple Bastards – Nero In Metastasi (Review)

Cripple BastardsItalian veteran Grinders Cripple Bastards darken our doors once more with their new album – 18 tracks in 36 minutes.

Playing a pissed off Hardcore-tinged version of Grind; Cripple Bastards may have been around for many a year now but they are not falling short on the ideas or integrity fronts.

Riffs fly around all over the place like splinters and the drums pound like bowling balls being dropped. Effortlessly combining Hardcore, Punk, Grind and Death Metal into short songs with all being presented in their inimical savage style. There is a even a 9 minute epic Splendore E Tenebra which is as unexpected as it is welcome.

The vocals are a thing of rabid beauty; running the gamut from deep, guttural Death Metal vocals to higher rasps, the one thing that never changes is the intensity of them.

Favourite Track: Lapide Rimossa. The Old-School and the New merged flawlessly to create an excellent song. A microcosm for the album as a whole.

When Grindcore is played this well it’s easy to remember what you love about the genre. The energy and passion in these songs is infectious.

This is a Grind masterclass performed by people who are at the top of their game. This album easily differentiates itself from so many Grind-wannabes by the character and individuality of the band, let alone the quality of the songs. A must for any fan of Grindcore.