Elevators to the Grateful Sky – Cloud Eye (Review)

Elevators to the Grateful SkyThis is the début album from Italian Stoner Rock band Elevators to the Grateful Sky.

This is a groovy and rocking release from this band.

A warm, happy sound emanates from the album and even in the band’s heavier moments the sound still manages to capture the heat of the desert in every note.

The singer has a good voice that’s as welcoming and familiar as the style itself. Not too high and not too low, it’s in that sweet spot where it doesn’t grate at all and fits the songs like a glove.

The songs are catchy and memorable and altogether a relatively relaxed affair. Even when the band rock out with their riffs at full throttle they still manage to foster a laid-back vibe at the same time.

The tracks have the usual Stoner Rock-styled riffs and composition that’s so definitive of this genre as well as having a bit of a Grunge feel in places. They do throw in the odd curve ball however; horn sections, for example.

Whilst not reinventing the genre this is still a solid and enjoyable release for anyone who likes this style.

Have a listen.

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Interview with Johnny Touch

Johnny Touch Logo

Johnny Touch have recently unleashed their stunning début album to the world. Inner City Wolves is the kind of throwback to a bygone era in Metal that has no business being as good as it is. It has the timeless appeal of pure, original Metal, however; that and the fact that it’s just a great collection of songs mean that this is an album that everyone should be getting their grubby mitts on. Determined to find out a bit more about this seeming anachronism, I grilled Denimal about the wonder that is Johnny Touch…

For those of you unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!

There’s 4 heavy metal maniacs in JT; Ramrod Hodgson on vocals, Jamie Whyte on guitars, Inphiltrator on bass guitar and Denimal (me) on drums/cowbells.

Give us a bit of history to Johnny Touch…

I started JT sometime during 2009, effectively a mere project at that point. I had collated enough material of the heavy rock/metal ilk since the late 90’s, to warrant some form of project at the very least. Along with a couple of session members, I recorded a demo called ‘Fight For It’, which was released on pro-cassette by Abysmal Sounds Productions.

It was soon thereafter that the primary band members wove their wicked ways towards JT! From that point on we became a focussed and deadly laser beam, having wrought 2 more split 7 inch records released and more recently the début album.

Where did the name of the band come from?

I think I construed this name on a whim, it kind of stuck! It is inspired by 80’s street gangs, the leader of such bearing the name, Johnny Touch.

What are your influences?

Rock, metal, martial arts, classic action films, big haired ladies.

Johnny Touch BandWhat are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

Rainbow – ‘Long Live Rock n’ Roll’
Realmbuilder – ‘Blue Flame Cavalry’
Pariah – ‘Blaze Of Obscurity’

That’s what I’ve been listening to this week, and heck, I’d recommend them all!

So, a bunch of Australians manage to faithfully recreate the glory days of the NWOBHM in style and with quality. How did that happen?

Hahahaaaa jesus man! They were the ‘glory days’ for a reason. We aspire and work hard! Simple. Whether that be in relation to our skill level, performances or song writing.

In my review I also state that if this album had actually been released back in said NWOBHM glory days, you’d probably be very big indeed and famous to most Metal fans. Discuss.

Maybe, it’s hard to know, but I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless mate. It seems to me, the biggest ‘metal’ bands worldwide are still the traditional heavy metal bands. The music appeals to a broader range of music lovers due to it’s quality, catchiness, conviction, and less extreme nature. Though I remember hearing Twisted Sister’s track ‘I Wanna Rock’ when I was a kid, and seriously believed that to be the heaviest song in existence! There’s a more extreme perspective nowadays, but that song is still really fucking powerful, no doubt. If you doubt, watch them play it live!

Unfortunately many of the great metal bands are disbanded so there may be necessary voids to fill in the near future!

What did you want to achieve with Inner City Wolves?

We wrote and recorded what we would want to hear from a new heavy metal band. There’s no good reason why traditional heavy metal should be dead. So we took our own high expectations and forged something that vintage metal and rock fans would froth at the mouth for. Interestingly we also have a large cross section of extreme metal fans into JT. Especially when we play live, is the power of classic heavy metal most apparent.

And that album cover! Tell us about that…

A fantastic artist called Andrei Bouzikow painted that up for us. It’s a vista of earth in post nuclear/war ruin. Fallout having altered the local flora and fauna, huge wolves are abound. The scantily clad warrior-ess has claimed this one from a pup, riding down men for mating and food.

Are you happy with how the album turned out?

Pleased enough. It’s a snapshot of that time I doubt we could really improve on without destroying the feel of it. Everyone whom we have spun it too has thought it was an album from the late 80’s…mission accomplished.

Give us a bit of information on the songwriting process.

Jamie and I write about 50/50. So either he or I will demo the tune, give it to every member to get acquainted with, then we work on that sucker until everyone has made it their bitch! I think songs should age a little bit too. Nothing like Father Time to weigh in on the formation and depth of a song.

How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?

In all ways one could respectfully imagine. We’ll produce speed metal songs, some 60’s/70’s sounding rock ballads, some overtly technical tunes. It really comes down to what the album needs to keep it interesting from start to finish.

What’s next for Johnny Touch?

JT had a quiet year in 2013 due to Inphiltrator being in hospital, so there were no live shows we could play. With the album fresh out we are now playing select live shows nationally and booked some shows outside of Australia. Hopefully ‘Inner City Wolves’ will earn us some invites to any of the myriad traditional metal festivals the world over. New material is currently being put together, we have a title and album cover concepts for this album, but who knows when we’ll be ready to record. Why rush?

Why indeed.

 

Oath of Damnation – The Descent (Review)

Oath of DamnationOath of Damnation are from Australia and play Blackened Death Metal.

This release features a heavy and dense sound, as if the band condensed a planet’s worth of matter and used it to fuel the recording process.

The deep vocals sound equally impressive, with a depth of guttural growling seldom seen. This is coupled with higher Black Metal shrieking that offsets them.

The music is fast and furious, combining the intricate riffing of Nile, the claustrophobia of Immolation and the Blackened bite of Arkhon Infaustus. It’s a heady mix and the resultant cocktail is as intoxicating as it is venomous.

The band also incorporate symphonic elements into their brutal repertoire. These are used to punctuate and accentuate the churning maelstrom of chaos that the band create. These are used sparingly to good effect and never sound over the top or out of character with the rest of the music.

Oath of Damnation have released something special here. Seek them out and listen to them today.

Apnea – Silent Cities (Review)

ApneaApnea are from New Zealand and this is their début EP. They play Post-Black Metal.

This combines Black Metal with Post-Metal and Shoegaze to create an evocative EP of fragile beauty and delicate power.

The songs build, crest and blast their way to moments of melancholy and bitter negativity. Apnea’s sound is the sound of a mellow summer’s day being clobbered to death by an unruly dusk. It’s this mix of beauty and harshness that gives this kind of Shoegaze Post-Black Metal such a haunting sound and such a lasting appeal.

Apnea have a good production that bucks the trend that these kinds of bands usually follow of having a paper-thin sound. The drum presence in particular is immense and it is refreshing to hear a band like this with a rather crushing sound in many respects.

Apnea also stand out from the crowd in having some real moments of Black Metal fury in their sound. This ferocious attack combined with the softer moments and Post-Metal explorations make for a highly enjoyable listening experience.

Overall this is a hugely impressive EP, especially for a first release.

As this EP is a couple of year old now, let’s hope that they will have a début album ready soon. If they can replicate what they’ve achieved with Silent Cities then it’ll be something I’m quite excited to hear.

Achren – The White Death (Review)

AchrenAchren are from Scotland and play Black Metal. This is their latest EP.

This is Black Metal with a healthy melodic side and a hard, Thrash edge to some of the riffs.

The vocals are mainly high pitched screeches designed to strip paint and puncture ear drums. These are joined by the occasional deeper growl that sounds quite fearsome. The vocal rhythms used are in sync with the music and are much more catchy than a lot bands playing this style. This is especially noticeable in The Eschatologist.

The White Death has a good recording and everything sounds in-your-face, much like the band themselves.

The melodic Black Metal romps along at a fair pace with the Thrashier riffs adding some groove. The songs are well-written and the band clearly know what they’re doing. The melodies are memorable and there are some very good tunes here.

The more you listen to this the more you realise that these songs are very, very good indeed and this is a very, very talented band. There’s nothing especially new or original here, (the same can be said of almost every band), but their talent and skill shows in the songs themselves – these are just incredibly strong songs.

At only 3 tracks in 15 minutes this EP provides a decent intro to the band whilst also leaving you hungry for more.

Catchy, memorable and with a good degree of bite; this is a great EP.

Favourite Track: The Eschatologist. What a brilliant song. Can’t say better than that.

Skiddaw – Skiddaw (Review)

SkiddawSkiddaw are from the UK and play Black Metal.

Skiddaw offer us 4 tracks across 13 minutes of Black Metal.

The first track Skiddaw Forest is a short opener that’s Blackly melodic and suitably raw and frostbitten. It does its job amiably and whets the appetite for the show to begin proper. Nice use of bass, also.

Skiddaw Towers follows this with a scream. Skiddaw have a classic Black Metal sound that’s somewhere between Darkthrone and Mayhem and this song does both of these spiritual parents proud. The track rumbles along with menace and a solid double bass foundation.

The third track is named Gates of Beleth and is faster then the previous tracks with a winding riff leading the way before descending into murkier climes. There’s a sense of urgency and escape, as if being pursued by something unnameable and indescribable. Enjoyably raw, with the vocals in particular sounding especially savage on this song.

Finally we have Even Titans Fall which is even faster, more melodic and has a touch of Satyricon about it. It’s a good closer and leaves you wanting more.

Skiddaw have an energetic and enticing sound that’s bleak, windswept and icy; just how Black Metal should be.

Check them out.

Reciprocal – New Order of the Ages (Review)

ReciprocalThis is Reciprocal’s second album of Technical Death Metal. They are from the US.

A strong start introduces the band and their heavy, sprawling sound to the listener. It’s complex and interlinked whilst retaining a brutality and nastiness a lot of Technical Death Metal bands are lacking in.

This is Technical Death Metal mixed up with the modern, New-School breed of crushingly Brutal Death Metal. It’s a heady combination that immediately makes you sit up and take notice of them.

The songs are long, (for Death Metal), and the band use this time to explore the labyrinthine riffs and to show off their musical chops.

They appear to have quite the mixture of influences on this release. I hear elements of Cephalic Carnage, Carcass, Spawn of Possession, Arsis, Gorguts, Decapitated and many more crammed into the technically dense songs. There is too much going on here to absorb in one listening, which is a good thing as it increases the longevity of the album.

Vocally the band incorporate pretty much all styles in the album somewhere, although high-pitched Carcass-esque screams are the most used.

The sound is absolutely immense. It sonically shines and the tracks hit home like hammers. It doesn’t get stale or boring as the band have enough variety within their framework to introduce elements of several Death Metal sub-genres; Brutal Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal and Deathcore being the main ones in addition to the core of Technical Death Metal.

New Order of the Ages is an ambitious album; 68 minutes of music with plenty of ideas and enough talent to hold it all together. Piano and samples are used liberally to help spread the band’s message and to provide breaks between bouts of swirling riffs and widdly fret-wizardry.

I heartily recommend this album to anyone who enjoys bold, challenging, heavy, technical music. If this is you then this is a must listen.

Invidiosus – Malignant Universe (Review)

InvidiosusInvidiosus are from the US and they play Death Metal.

After the usual pointless intro we get dirty Death Metal with a Grind influence. It’s foetid, riffy, and full of rotten warmth.

The singer has an impressive growl. Deep and satisfying, straight from the bowels. Nice. The higher screeches are good too.

This is a kind of timeless Death Metal that might take cues from the past but is quite content in the present also. It’s heavy and fast, but also allows moments of technicality into the fray as well as slower, more considered parts.

The riffs rip and the drums pound. The gritty nature of the recording works in the band’s favour and overall this is a most enjoyable ride down the Death Metal canal of grisly delights.

Check them out.

The Order of the Solar Temple – The Order of the Solar Temple (Review)

The order of the Solar TempleThe Order of the Solar Temple are from Canada and play Heavy Metal/Rock.

This is Old-School with elements of Classic Rock, Doom Metal and Psychedelic Rock.

The band have a very warm, laid back sound that instantly makes you feel at ease like a welcome old friend.

The singer has an excellent voice; he’s soft and exquisite, or ultra-high and maniacal, or deep and melodramatic…He has character and personality that’s for sure and puts in a stellar performance.

Coming across as a mix of Blue Öyster Cult, (who they also cover), Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Merciful Fate, this is an enjoyable way to spend 45 minutes when you’re in that retro mood.

There really is some great material here! The singer has a forceful presence and some of these riffs are just epic in scope and feeling.

I thoroughly recommend you listen to this and experience the band first-hand. May you be drawn into their world…

Favourite Track: Aeon of Horus. Everything from the vocal delivery to the tense guitars to the understated bass…a stunner of a song.

Secret Cutter – Self-Titled (Review)

Secret CutterSecret Cutter are from the US and this is their début album. They play Sludge Metal with an added side of Hardcore/Punk.

The Secret Cutter sound is one of pure unbridled filth, fury and fucking heaviness. This is aggressive and nasty in only the way that Sludge and really pissed off Hardcore can be, and when combined like this it just sounds gloriously horrible!

Think of bands like Eyehategod, Serpent Eater, Ilsa, Corrupt Moral Altar, Wolvhammer, Enabler and the like; distil what makes these bands so interesting, nasty and individual and you’ll have a good idea of the murky swamp of urban decay that Secret Cutter dwell in.

I love albums like this – no messing around, just undiluted heaviness and aggression, whether that’s done at speed or slowly. It’s rough, raw and genuine.

The Sludge is strong and works well with the added Hardcore/Punk influence that the band have.

The songs have a good degree of variety in them for a short album, (only 26 minutes), and within the style they play. Each song is readily identifiable also, (no mean feat for any band), and show a creative force at the top of their game.

They have some great riffs on this release and the songs are surprisingly catchy for this type of band. Although catchy probably isn’t the right term. Infectious, maybe?

Special mention should go to the singer, who absolutely rages and tears his way through the songs as if it’s the last thing he’s ever going to do. His high pitched screams are the very incarnation of savagery.

This really is a top quality release that has so many plus points it’s silly. In many ways this is the best of heavy, nasty music, and this is one I’ll be listening to over and over again.

Play it loud and get it now.