Legions of Crows – Stab Me (Review)

Legions of CrowsUK band Legions of Crows play Sludge Metal with a Blackened outer layer.

This brand of Blackened atmospheric Sludge is greatly enhanced by the presence of keyboards and other effects, which add  a layer of depth to the already thick torrent of misery peddled by Legions of Crows.

They also have an ear for a good riff, the effect of which is never to be underestimated. Second track Fellating the Lamb is a great example of this; it crawls along for the most part sounding really sinister and malevolent, with Black Metal shrieks burning over the top of it. Unexpectedly it then rises above the fog into a mid-song gallop with a guitar solo, before inevitably waning, slowing down and falling back into the murk with dying wails. Great stuff.

That’s one of the most enjoyable things about this album – they have plenty of variety and a grasp of mood and songs to envy.

The combination of Gothic keyboards/Black Metal influences and filthy Sludge may not appeal to everyone. Most bands who combine Black Metal and Doom usually do so from the point of view of the harsher, dirtier side of both genres, making the melding of sounds easier as there is less distance to traverse. Legions of Crows however choose the path less travelled and combine the filthy, dirty side of Sludge with the more Gothic side of Black Metal. The overall result of course is bound to still sound on the grim side, but the keyboards have largely avoided the corruption and the juxtaposition of both is a pleasant surprise and largely works in the album’s favour.

Interestingly Paul Di’Anno also makes an appearance on the album, which in keeping with a lot of Stab Me is an unexpected turn of events, but a good one.

The recording is functional and does the job, and I’ve certainly heard worse, but I would prefer the drum sound to be slightly more hard-hitting next time. This is only a minor quibble though, as the sound serves the album well enough.

A very interesting release with plenty of individuality and character. I’ll certainly be listening to this quite a bit more and watching what they do next.

Pyramido – Saga (Review)

PyramidoSwedish Sludge/Doom band Pyramido return with their third full-length Saga.

Slow, heavy and crushing is the way of Saga. Hulking great walls of guitar noise crash around you as tortured shouts assault your senses, topped off with lonesome melodies that seem at the same time both disconnected and essential to the music.

Haunting passages and gargantuan riffs share space in the songs and all the time the sense of utter Doom and despair is all-pervading. At least it would be all-pervading if it wasn’t for the quasi-hopeful melodic streak that adorns the album like a partially obscured crown, making appearances here and there to spread optimism only to be torn asunder again and again like the darkness eating the light.

Even the album cover draws you in; a promise of a hot fire on a cold night – sanctuary from the dark. All the time the frigid, gloomy woods creep ever closer and creatures stir within, hidden from sight.

This is a release that grows on you like an infection, revealing its next bleak gift with every repeated visit. Each listen brings you closer to damnation while promising redemption. It’s insidious.

Get lost in this album if you dare. You may not return, but what sweet release awaits?

Pus Vomit – Stoned To Death (Review)

Pus VomitPhilippine Brutal Death Metal band Pus Vomit have released their new EP Stoned To Death, packed to the rafters full of pig-noise, slam-downs and slaughter.

This is out-and-out brutality that worships the crushing, mid-paced attack of Death Metal as much as the out-and-out blast; and there is plenty of both. They play fast and slow equally well, but the slower parts can sometimes be so oppressive in their heaviness that they’re worthy of special note.

For only a three-piece, (with no bassist), they don’t half play an almighty racket. Proper Brutal Death Metal played for the sheer bloodthirsty fun of it. 5 tracks in 19 minutes means it doesn’t outstay its welcome; it simply enters the room, kills everyone in sight, stays briefly to molest the bodies and then leaves through a hole in the wall which it makes with a sledgehammer.

There’s even time to tack on a “hidden song” at the end of the last track, which is apparently a re-recorded version of one of the first songs they ever recorded.

There is nothing new here but that’s not the point; this is all about ripping, tearing, slashing and hacking your way through the corpses to the sound of dying pigs. And who can honestly say they don’t enjoy a bit of that in the morning?

Ritual – The Resurrection (Review)

RitualHere we have some Black Metal from the US in the form of Ritual.

It starts off all plinky-plinky, (a technical term), before the drums start and then a mournful guitar sweeps in. It’s an unexpected entry into the album as I was ready for a more traditional blastbeat-heavy entrance, (probably after some perfunctory intro), so this was a welcome change of pace.

This is early 90’s-style Black Metal with a sorrowful NWOBHM edge to it, and highly enjoyable it is to.

The vocalist is full of passion and has a good set of lungs which he uses to scream praises of evil and hate. The vocal rhythms fit perfectly over the mid-paced riffs and the songs are simple but effective.

Short songs with good composition rule the roost and melodic guitars slip easily into the ear.

This is an easy album to listen to; the scything, razor-edged vocals and the Black melodies dripping with scorn and melancholy create an enjoyable listen. Recommended.

Brutally Deceased – Dead Lovers’ Guide (Review)

Brutally DeceasedFrom the Czech Republic Brutally Deceased play Old-School Death Metal in the Swedish style.

Instantly bringing to mind acts such as Dismember and Grave, as well as the fact that the last song on the album is a Dismember cover and they’re named after a Grave song; you’ll soon realise that this band like their Swedish Death Metal. A lot. Added to the fact that the album has that Swedish sound and you’ll soon be unpacking that old chainsaw and setting it to work once more.

Like rediscovering a lost friend, the album explodes out of the speakers with the chainsaw buzz-riffs sawing away at your ears while the short, sharp vocals bite deep into your flesh.

This may not be highly original, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in passion and enthusiasm. If you’re looking for the very latest in new things then look away as this is not for you, but if you like a solid slab of hero-worship and can’t get enough of classic Swedish Death Metal then you should definitely check this out. The fact that the band don’t actually come from Sweden is irrelevant.

A highly enjoyable trek down memory lane. Taken by itself this is a strong Old-School Death Metal album. The guitars roar, the drums pound and the vocals damage. They’ve succeeded in getting me moving; check them out and see if they can do the same for you.

The Lion’s Daughter & Indian Blanket – A Black Sea (Review)

The Lion's Daughter & Indian SummerI’ve been following The Lion’s Daughter for a while now and enjoyed their previous outings into the world of Blackened Sludge, so when I found out they were collaborating on an album with Folk group Indian Blanket I was intrigued.

I wasn’t sure what to expect upon pressing play, but it wasn’t this. I though it might be good, but this? This is a jaw-droppingly stunning album. In much the same way that Panopticon successfully incorporated bluegrass into Black Metal on their album Kentucky; The Lion’s Daughter and Indian Blanket, against all odds, have managed to successfully incorporate Folk into Sludge. The results are as astounding as they are fantastic.

If only I had heard and reviewed this at the end of 2013 it would probably have topped my end-of-year list I can tell you that now.

The album combines heaviness and softness in equal measure, using the best tools for the job depending on the needs of the song. Regardless of style it’s always dark, always emotionally charged and always tinged with melancholy.

Sludge Metal and acoustic passages; blast beats and strings; raw-throat shouts and delicate crooning; it’s all here. Taking the very, very best bits of bands like Neurosis, Isis, Year Of No Light, Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room then combining them with haunting Folk-inspired orchestration and Dax Riggs-style acoustics and vocals; this is a masterpiece of music awaiting discovery by any Metal fan looking for the best in unconventional heavy music.

To the cynical reader this may all smack of hyperbole, but the simple fact is that I absolutely love this album and it really is just that good. Do yourself a favour and get it immediately. 

Absolutely brilliant.

Root – Viginti Quinque Annis In Scaena (Review)

RootComing from the Czech Republic; Root play Black/Dark Metal and this is a live album spanning the band’s 25 year career.

The songs are veritable feasts of riffery that show the origins of Black Metal and darkened Thrash and are used effectively to create highly enjoyable Old-School Metal. Well-written songs in the hands of veteran Metallers was always going to end well.

The vocals are experimental, playful, varied and above all commanding and powerful – this is a singer who knows exactly what his voice is capable of and revels in showing off its abilities. He lends a very unique sheen to an already strong musical passage.

Boasting a raw yet clear and dynamic sound; this live album really makes you feel part of the show. More than just a recorded document it allows the songs to breathe and flex their considerable musical muscles and expand into your head so that you can feel the blood, sweat and passion exuded by the band.

A lot of live albums fall short of the mark for me, but this one does everything it is meant to do. As an overview and celebration of Root it’s just a great performance.

Coraxo – Starlit Flame (Review)

CoraxoComing from Finland, Coraxo play Industrial Death Metal with a strong Aliens theme running through the tracks on this release.

After a suitable intro we get first song Signal Detected which positively bounces along in a jolly, sci-fi kind of way; melodic Death Metal under a covering of electronics and effects; like At The Gates/Dark Tranquillity and The Kovenant/Deathstars/Neurotech fighting it out.

There are some pleasing riffs churned out, with the effects adding additional depth without smothering the actual Metal. This is a band using the electronica to enhance the Metal and the theme of the songs rather than to be a novelty or for wider commercial appeal.

With this kind of music there is a lot that can go wrong, and as usual this is very subjective so it does depend on the interpretation of the listener of course, (as always). For me this EP tends to largely be on the right side of the potential hazards; the electronics and effects are prominent but not overbearing; the guitars have substance and are not just there for show; the vocalist has bite and is not interested in being the next Marilyn Manson; the music is dark enough to avoid any potential “Cheese Factor”. I’m calling victory here.

The more I listen to this the more I fall for its charms. It has its own character and personality. It’s also very catchy in places. Xenotaph in particular. Tacked on the end of the EP is a cover of Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist that ends proceedings nicely.

If your taste in Metal runs to the less-conventional then check out Coraxo and see if you fall for their sci-fi sound.

Inferno – Omniabsence Filled By His Greatness (Review)

InfernoComing from the Czech Republic veteran Black Metallers Inferno start off their sixth album quietly and softly with PERVASION… before blasting off with first song proper, The Firstborn From Murk.

An enjoyable album that takes the Swedish Black Metal template and injects more of an eerie melodicism into it. After listening to this album I’m convinced this is an area worthy of exploration and Inferno have made a good start.

Inferno write long songs filled with dark praises and incantations to forgotten powers. The drums may spend a lot of their time going at full speed, but the guitars don’t always follow suit, creating a juxtaposition that probably shouldn’t work as well as it does.

In amongst the aggression and hatred on display in these songs there is a feeling of sorrow, of something lost or perhaps never had. This is chiefly displayed in the mournful guitar melodies and plaintive tones explored by them.

The vocals are low in the mix and combine the epitome of brutal Black Metal rasping with deeper, darker vocalisations. They play their part alongside the subtle keyboards and effects to enhance the overall feeling of the aforementioned juxtaposition between melody and brutality; light and dark; beauty and terror.

Fans of Black Metal can’t go too wrong here – give Inferno a listen and let the fires wash over you.

Loudrage – Uglier Than Thou (Review)

LoudrageUgly music indeed. Heavy and battering, but with unexpected melodic flourishes now and again. Loudrage come from Romania and play Death Metal that’s heavy on the groove, reminding of classic bands like Grave and Konkhra in their heyday.

The first song Doomed is a classic-in-the-making, such a good song it is. I was expecting this to be a one-off but then the second song As Long As I Live is similarly impressive, (although not quite as good as Doomed). The rest of the EP follows on in a similar vein – top-quality, well-written songs which are catchy and have rhythms and riffs to die for.

Each song shares a similar construction; mid-paced, groove-laden, almost-Swedish-style Death Metal that really knows how to wield hooks, riffs and songwriting skills to get the most out of this style of music. Each song is menacing and bouncy at the same time, (as odd as that sounds), and has an energy that is undeniable.

The vocalist is excellent. The deepness of the growls touches something primeval inside and has all of the bowel-loosening qualities necessary to be incredibly satisfying. The higher screams are equally proficient.

The EP has a strong, clear, crunchy sound that fits the songs like a glove. An iron glove made for SMASHING!

I am genuinely surprised by how good this EP is. A band I hadn’t heard of coming out of seemingly nowhere who somehow appear to have delivered an absolute triumph of a release. How they remain unsigned is beyond me. Go and get this now.