Chain of Dogs – Burning Bridges in a World of Death – De Ep’s en nog get mieë (Review)

Chain of DogsChain of Dogs come from the Netherlands and play a mix of Folk and Thrash Metal. This is a compilation release combining their earlier EP’s Bridgeburners and Deathworld, with extra tracks added.

This is excitable music full of varied instrumentation and Folk-inspired melodies. Mandolin, violins, whistles and acoustic guitars all make regular appearances, each doing their bit to enhance the songs.

Each song appears to be a veritable powerhouse of Folk Metal and each one brings something a bit different to the mix; each one an extra idea for the band to get their teeth into.

Vocals are mainly half-sung, half-shouted combined with rougher-cleans that are characterful and work really well. There is a wealth of vocal variety on offer though.

The songs are very enjoyable and have a high catchiness value. These are infectious songs and it’s easy to find yourself getting carried away with them without realising.

Enjoyable.

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Obelyskkh – Hymn To Pan (Review)

ObelyskkhThis is the third album by Germany’s Obelyskkh and they play Doom that’s crushing and visceral.

They have an extremely full, heavy sound; like they’re about to birth a special kind of monster into the world.

As well as super-heavy Doom they are also adept at adding a bit of melody into the proceedings to further the depth and richness of their sound. I particularly enjoy these moments in The Ravens where it reminds almost of Agalloch.

Take the Pagan side of Agalloch, mix with some Post-Metal Neurosis elements and wrap in some demolishing Doom and you’re close to the Obelyskkh sound.

The vocals are very impressive; powerful, strong, forceful, full of charisma and with good range and variety – not a weak link to be found.

Importantly these are not just collections of riffs they are actual songs, with plenty of hooks to grab the listener and draw them close. They are, dare I say it, catchy in a lot of ways.

Each track is expertly constructed and well thought-out; designed to create a highly impressive collection of Doom that’s damn near essential for anyone with even a passing interest in this genre.

Compared to most bands this is an album that’s on another level entirely. Prepare to meet one of your new favourite bands.

Dead In The Dirt – The Blind Hole (Review)

Dead In The DirtDead In The Dirt play Grindcore and do it from the US.

The band throw out highly aggressive Grind with short songs and even shorter tempers.

With a solid sound that’s so sharp you could do someone an injury, the songs blast out of the speakers covered in bile and thoughts of execution.

I do so love this kind of Grind! Heavy and fast at the same time; taking the blueprint and class of a band like Nasum and mixing it with bits of Sludge, Crust, Brutal Truth and Converge.

Take any selection of songs on the album and you’ll find a fair degree of variety. Sometimes it sounds like Eyehategod mixed with Deathgrind, (Strength Through Restraint), next it sounds like Uphill Battle if they totally gave in to their Grind influences, (Idiot Bliss), and then it sounds like a Hardcore Crust Brutal Truth, (You Bury Me).

Amazingly the band manage to perfect the balancing of frenetic, ultra-intense speed with heaviness and brutality in a way that most bands fumble, but Dead In The Dirt manage to make seem easy and the most natural thing in the world.

Better Grind you won’t hear in a while.

Morbider/Abyssus – From the Abyss Raised the Morbid (Review)

Morbider AbyssusThis is a split release between Death Metal bands Morbider and Abyssus.

Morbider are up first. They are from the Czech Republic and play Death Metal inspired by the Swedish Old-School, although I can also hear the songwriting skills of a bit of Avulsed in their style as well.

They contribute 4 tracks to this release and they’re all solid slabs of well recorded, well played Death Metal with a nice chainsaw sound and plenty of atmosphere; the mid-part of No More Life is a case in point. Good ideas and good execution; Morbider impress.

Abyssus are from Greece and play a more primitive and darkly primeval version of Death Metal than Morbider, with even a bit of a proto-Thrash influence.

They contribute 5 slightly shorter songs to the split, one of which is a Sodom cover. The songs are simple but effective, with an Old-School feel and the obvious passion to back it up. The riffs are ripping and have a good feeling to them and the band Thrash along at a welcome speed.

A very enjoyable split from two good bands. Check them out.

Beehoover – The Devil And His Footmen (Review)

BeehooverBeehoover are from Germany and are a drum/bass combo specialising in a peculiar brand of Stoner Doom.

The drumming is unrestrained and energetic, while the bass is inventive and fiddly. Their music sometimes reminds me of a stripped down Tool toying with technical Stoner riffs. Complicated and simple at the same time.

The vocals are quite unusual sounding; free-form and loose and very individual; although slightly reminiscent of Mike Patton in style if not in sound. The vocals infect the complex musicianship like an afterthought that has nonetheless grown in the spaces between the notes and developed into an undeniable part of the intricate structure of the songs.

Beehoover manage to fit a lot of stuff into songs that, in the hands of other bands, might be 15 minute epics; in Beehoover’s hands though they typically last about 4-6 minutes are certainly don’t suffer due to this fat-trimming.

This is an uncommon band who provide an uncommon listening experience; they are all the better for it.

If you fancy something unusual and interesting this could be for you.

Noble Beast – Noble Beast (Review)

Noble BeastUS Power Metal band Noble Beast are about to unleash this self-titled album on an unsuspecting, unworthy world.

Straight from the off they make a mark with their brand of epic Power Metal, full of sweeping harmonies, electric riffs and boundless feelings of Metal and enthusiasm for epic adventures.

The band remind powerfully of European Power Metal, especially Freedom Call. As such, this is proper Power Metal and certainly not for the average person. It’s refreshing to hear this kind of music done well, and not descend into parody or just plain worthlessness.

With this in mind the singer is slightly unusual in that a lot of the time his voice is deeper than the norm for this kind of music. It may not be as high as one might expect, but this is, of course, no bad thing. He has a great set of pipes and is more than capable of belting out a ripping tune; his vocals are professionally delivered and he puts in an excellent performance. Higher vocals accentuate his deeper ones and overall the effect is gripping and rousing.

The songs are epic, stirring and make you want to stand on mountain tops, sword in hand, defying the Gods. That’s right.

The album features well written songs with good musicianship and a quality recording. The songs are catchy, have plenty of hooks and are smothered in leads and solos.

This is a quality release of pure, unadulterated Power Metal with a heart of molten heroism. If you’re looking for adventure and high thrills you’ve found it.

Along with the recent Burning Shadows, this has firmly reinforced my love of Power Metal.

Dead Earth Politics – The Queen of Steel (Review)

Dead Earth PoliticsDead Earth Politics are from the US and play modern Thrash/Groove Metal.

This is southern-tinged Modern Metal in the style of Lamb of God, et al, only with a slightly more Metal twist and some nice melodic choruses. Look at the album cover. Look at the song titles. There is no weak pseudo-Metal here.

Said melodic choruses are not of the sickly, saccharine variety; instead they’re all about the Metal and owe more to Pantera than the more modern Metalcore clones.

The riffs are good and the songs have plenty of energy. The band also don’t shy away from solos, which is always a welcome thing to hear.

The vocals are modern Metal shouting, combined with the aforementioned cleans with some even verging on Power Metal territory. Almost.

I’ve seen this band described as a cross between classic Metal and New American Metal and I think this description fits. Either way this short 3 track EP has the songs to play in the big leagues and is clearly the result of talented minds.

An enjoyable EP, and if they can harness this energy and songwriting finesse then whatever upcoming album they may be working on should be well worth a listen. Based on this release I’m looking forward to what they do next.

A modern take on fantasy Metal? Works for me.

The Drip – A Presentation of Gruesome Poetics (Review)

The DripHailing from the US, The Drip play Grind, fast and brutal.

This EP is 12 minutes, 6 tracks of mutilating Grindcore. The band worship at the altar of Grind legends Nasum and Rotten Sound, and are just as tight and focused.

The songs are streamlined and belligerent, with a good grasp of Nasum-esque dynamics.

The vocals are mainly high-pitched screeches designed to curdle milk and other such meanness. They sound savage and layer the top of the music like broken glass.

The production is clear enough to hear everything but also dirty enough to avoid the band becoming sterile or safe. A band with bite.

Each song is a self-contained furnace of energy and destruction, with nothing being held back. The band manage to give off a very complete feeling of listening to both state-of-the-art Grind but also one that’s aware of its heritage, going all the way back to Napalm Death when they unleashed Scum upon the world.

This is a great little collection of high octane grinders and it bodes well for a future album release. Definitely ones to watch.

Stoneburner – Life Drawing (Review)

StoneburnerStoneburner are a Sludge/Doom band from the US and Life Drawing is their second album.

The band combine aggressive Sludge with minimal Doom in a pleasing and refreshing way, taking elements of the masters such as Eyehategod and Neurosis and combing them with an eclectic mix of bands like Electric Wizard, Warhorse and even a splash of Isis on occasion.

They have a punchy, buoyant sound for a group of this type, with the guitars seemingly larger than life and ready to pop out of the speakers at a moment’s notice. For all this vibrancy however theirs is a filthy sound, mired in dirt and caked in sin.

The vocals are low-in-the-mix rumbles that sound as if something lurking just underneath the surface is threatening to break through and wreak havoc, yet is restrained by the thick, syrupy music.

The songs are free form expressions of the darker side of life where not everything works out in the end. The album cover is quite evocative and one can imagine this album chronicling the life and times of the figure in the painting. Which is possibly why the album sounds so bleak, yet with moments of uplift; even in a drab life there are moments of colour. Of course the actual lyrics are probably about something completely different, but this is my impression and it seems to fit the mood of the album.

At over 66 minutes in length this is a long and rewarding journey through a damaged life that culminates in the final, epic track The Pheonix. A moment of hope as the final curtain falls? Maybe.

Music to captivate and absorb.