Collision/The Rotted – Split (Review)

The RottedCollision are a Grindcore band from the Netherlands and The Rotted are a Crust-influenced Death Metal band from the UK.

This is a short split at just over 6 minutes in length that shows off what both bands can do, so let’s see what we have here.

Collision have two songs. The sound is raw and brutal, with serrated vocals screaming and shouting out over speedy Grind. Both tracks are a fast and furious blend of Hardcore-influenced Grind and angry outbursts.

Both are good songs that have plenty of blastbeats mixed with moments of heavier restraint. The riffs are solid and the band seem to be having a blast.

I’m sold. Bring on The Rotted!

CollisionAfter Collision’s barrage of ferocity The Rotted pound out Rotted Fucking Earth which is a d-beat Punk-esque song with a good sound.

It has a drunken swagger and an aggressive temperament; it’s probably not something you want to mess with.

Simple-but-effective songwriting is powered by decent riffs and pure attitude. As Metal songs go it’s a veritable anthem.

Short but oh so sweet, this is a worthy split to add to your collection.

Azooma – A Hymn Of The Vicious Monster (Review)

AzoomaAzooma are from Iran and play Death Metal.

A nice acoustic intro starts us off, shortly followed by the opening track Self-Infected. It’s immediately apparent that the band can play well, and also that the type of Death Metal they play is non-standard.

Azooma play Progressive Death Metal with Technical Death Metal clearly playing a role, but rather than the schizophrenic complex-for-the-sake-of-it route that a lot of Technical Death Metal goes down, Azooma have chosen the arguably more interesting Progressive Death Metal route. This means more coherent song structures and more emphasis on the song itself and its accompanying feelings and moods. With this in mind A Hymn Of The Vicious Monster is a roaring success.

Think old-Opeth if they were more Death Metal. Think Gorguts and Death mixed together in a Progressive Metal melange. Tasty.

As mentioned; the musicianship is top-notch, which even includes a noticeable bass. The band proficiently play Death Metal, Progressive Metal, acoustics, Jazz-style interludes, and essentially everything else with pure class.

The vocals are deep and satisfying and the band even find space in their expansive songs to include a couple of low-key cleans that enhance proceedings on a couple of occasions.

A strong sound and production rounds of the package and Azooma have a winner on their hands here.

This is a supremely impressive release and one that you should definitely get if you’re even remotely interesting in challenging, stand-out music.

Astral Winter – Perdition (Review)

Astral WinterAstral Winter are an Australian Black Metal band and this is their second album.

But not this time; normally Astral Winter is Melodic Black Metal, but for this album things have taken an ambient turn and this release is all about dark soundscapes and sombre melancholy.

These tracks are mournful, droning, slow and relaxed. Light guitars, effects, keyboards, piano, strings and all manner of other instruments and sounds make appearances on this impressive album.

The songs presented here are wonderfully emotive and filled with feelings of darkness and hope intermingled. This is not a miserable album, this is one of darkened allure and ambitious scope.

Although this is an album of 8 tracks it could just as easily have been one long song as the tracks flow into each other and the entire album is a night-time journey into the mysterious and sublime.

Normally when bands take left-tuns like this it’s usually a misstep, but this is the work of a talented musician. This is a quality release by someone who knows what Neo-Classical should sound like and how it must progress and remain interesting to not bore the listener.

The sky at night has been shaped into an album of reflective beauty.

Get this.

Unisonic – Light of Dawn (Review)

UnisonicUnisonic are from Germany and this is their second album. They play Power Metal.

Confident and mature Power Metal floods the speakers when you play this album. It’s the product of absolute veterans who know their genre and know their roles. Even more importantly, however, they also know how to write good songs.

This is the kind of Power Metal that’s distinctly European in flavour and is powered by upbeat drums and high vocals provided by Michael Kiske of Helloween/etc. fame, no less. Also featuring other past members of bands such as Helloween, Gamma Ray, Pink Cream 69 and Krokus; you can see the calibre of the people involved in this project.

The vocals, as would be expected, are typically professional and flawlessly delivered. The choruses soar. The musicianship, also as would be expected, is tight and proficient. The sound is professional and slick, and nothing is left to chance.

For the most part the songs are in the 5 minute mark, with each track feeling like an epic-in-miniature. These are rocking, catchy tunes with highly memorable sections and hooks aplenty. In their competent hands, even the dreaded “power ballads”, (BloodYou and I), are handled well.

This is an album of greater depth than some might credit it with; on first listen it’s obviously highly accomplished and very good, but the more you listen the more the melodies seep into your consciousness and the more you want to listen to it. It’s downright addictive! The vocals in particular are deceptive. Michael Kiske is known for his exceptional voice of course, and Light of Dawn is no different, but the impressive thing is that there’s no showboating or ostentation with his voice; his talent is born from simply being a great singer and having a voice that flows smoothly like the finest wine.

Light of Dawn is an exemplar of the European Power Metal style. There are no surprises here but if you’re a fan of European Power Metal then there’s a wealth of treasure contained in this album.

This is a band destined to do well.

Kafirun – Death Worship (Review)

KafirunKafirun are from Canada and play Black Metal. This is their début demo.

This is True Black Metal. It’s aggressive and grim and takes its cues from the likes of Mayhem.

With riffs sharp enough to do yourself an injury on, the darkly melodic guitars churn and rage their way through the playing time of the songs as the drums pound or blast appropriately.

The vocals have a a touch of Mayhem about them as well and the singer seems quite at home whether he’s performing semi-clean chanting or high pitched screams.

For a demo release there’s nothing wrong with the production at all. It’s got a good Black Metal tone that allows the guitars to sound as if they’re sliding over each other and everything else to sound like it’s filling in the spaces.

There’s only three songs here but they’re good ones and the band ably show what they can do.

If you’re not sated on Mayhem-influenced Black Metal then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy what Kafirun do. Check them out.

Nothgard – Age of Pandora (Review)

NothgardNothgard are from Germany and this is their second album of Melodic Metal.

Nothgard specialise in epic and stirring Melodic Metal. They have a Melodic Death/Black Metal base with a Power/European Metal covering. Think of a Power Metal band who have Symphonic leanings. Then, make them heavier and give them a vocalist who uses serrated screams as his main form of attack. This is Nothgard.

It’s technically proficient and rabble rousing at the same time; a rare combination of clinical application and emotional drive. As I listen to them I can’t help but just get swept away with their enthusiasm and passion of delivery.

The songs are typically catchy and high energy. It’s immediately apparent that this is a quality album with lots of hooks and memorable melodies; the more you listen to it the more this reinforces itself.

The vocalist mainly screams his way through the songs, although he also has a versatile enough voice to deliver deeper grunting and some semi-cleans for added effect.

The guitar playing is flawless and the amount of solos and leads is like the most sugary of treats.

Symphonic and keyboard ostentation is constant and seems to sometimes even merge with the guitars at a cellular level. It’s exciting stuff!

Of course not everyone enjoys this very European-styled Melodic Metal, but if you’ve a taste for this kind of thing then Nothgard do it better than most. As for me, I haven’t heard an album in this style that I’ve enjoyed this much for quite some time.

Check out Nothgard and play them loud.

Bloodstrike – Necrobirth (Review)

BloodstrikeBloodstrike are from the US and this is their début demo. They play Death Metal.

For a demo the production is very good indeed; strong and heavy. They have a very dark sound and the songs sound better than some albums.

The band play aggressive Death Metal with a preference for the Old-School and a nod towards the Swedish style. It’s an addictive sound and the band play it with an expertise that belies their short existence as a new band.

The vocals are cavernous guttural roars that sometimes are straight growls and other times have a snarling quality to them. She is capable of a fair degree of diversity as higher vocals are also used on occasion as well. They all sound very good.

The music is straightforward Death Metal with some good riffs and melodies. Combining blasting and groove, the band have birthed three very enjoyable tracks that show a maturity of songwriting and an intimate understanding of the Death Metal genre and of what makes a good song.

This demo showcases the massive potential of Bloodstrike. Their first album should be very good indeed if this is any indication.

Ann My Guard – Innocence Descent (Review)

Ann My GuardAnn My Guard are from Hungary and play Melodic Rock/Metal. This is their début album.

Mixing the extravagance of bands like Evanescence and Lacuna Coil with the Earthy grit of bands like Hole, Ann My Guard have produced a very impressive début.

The singer has a very powerful voice that’s versatile and strong. The vocals seems to seep from every pore of the music, however they don’t overpower it as the band has a core of Rock/Metal that refuses to be subdued.

This is richly melodic and falls on the more commercial side of the Modern Metal spectrum, although that certainly doesn’t intrinsically mean anything is wrong with it. Quite the reverse in fact, as the songs are strongly written and well-produced.

Although the vocals are undoubtedly the central focus, the music doesn’t slack. The instruments are well played and have a good sound to them. The fact that the guitars are not completely watered down like some bands of a similar style to this should tell you all you need to know. Rather than a vehicle for a singer this is a real band, as the coherence of the album attests to.

The band create very lush and textured soundscapes, with plenty of piano and subtle sounds to accompany the traditional drums/bass/guitar triad. This is an album of memorable tunes and good songs.

Although a lot lighter and considerably less extreme than a lot of the stuff that makes its way onto this site, this is nonetheless a worthy acquisition for when you want something a bit less intense and a lot more floating-ly melodic.

Check them out and have a listen.

Apocrophex – Wheels Within Wheels (Review)

ApocrophexApocrophex are from the US and this is their début EP. They play Technical Death Metal.

This is only a short release; 2 songs in just under 5 minutes.

With such short tracks it’s a brutal and dense affair straight from the start.

The band make a good impression with their deep vocals and rhythmically pummelling brand of Death Metal, all backed up with some fretboard wizardry and blastbeats.

The second song Halos of Light surprises by having some interesting melodic riffing and some semi-cleans in amongst the blasting and brutality. It’s unexpected and shows that Apocrophex are willing to experiment with areas not typically of the Death Metal template. This is to be encouraged, of course.

For a first release the production is functional but could do with giving the band a bit more room to breathe next time. Only a small thing but something they could benefit from.

Other than that this is an all-to-brief hint at what this band is capable of. My interest is peaked. Bring on the full length.

Natanas – All Is Permitted (Review)

NatanasNatanas is a one man Black Metal project from the US. This is Natanas’ second album.

This is atonal, obscure, underground Black Metal that’s more focused on creating particular moods and feelings rather than songs in the traditional sense.

The vocals are deep gargles and spewings; barely-human sounds and daemonic mutterings are the stock in trade of this warped intellect.

The drums are off-kilter and sometimes seem quite out of place with the more organic guitars and bestial vocalisations. I get the impression that this is done intentionally however, thus fostering the strange atmosphere that All Is Permitted shows off.

This is not a release for everyone, not even necessarily the hardened Black Metal fan. This is for people who enjoy bands that put uncomfortable feelings and sounds before everything else, even production values and traditional Black Metal.

Think bands like Xasthur, Portal, Mitochondrion, Enbilulugugal, Ævangelist and the like, and although I don’t think the guy behind Natanas is currently playing at their level just yet, given enough time and development he could be.

If this is the kind of Black Metal that does it for you then check out Natanas and see what you think.