Circaic – False Prophetic Roads (Review)

CircaicCircaic are from the US and this is their début EP.

The band play Technical Melodic Death Metal.

The singer has a great voice – when he’s being aggressive he either slices things up with his razor sharp shrieks or utterly destroys with his deeper-than-Hell growls. The growling I especially like. And when he’s not being aggressive? Cleans are used and they sound good – no radio-friendly commercial-tainted cleans, just decent singing in a European style.

This is for fans of bands like At The Gates, Soilwork, In Flames, Darkane, etc. – this is the stylistic area of Metal we’re in only Circaic are a touch more extreme.

The music is melodic and intense, with lots of technicality and complexity marking them out from similar bands who might largely use more simplistic riffs.

Well-played guitars and rhythmic drums provide the basis for the varied vocals and the music is accentuated and enhanced by the sometimes-subtle, sometimes-overt keyboards. Indeed; the keyboards and the nature of the music in general sees the band courting Melodic Black Metal territory on many occasions.

This is a very accomplished release with mature songwriting and tracks that feel finished and substantial. The problem with this style is that it was ransacked for ideas years ago by Metalcore and has never quite recovered. Thankfully Circaic show no signs of this; there are no breakdowns, no posturing and no selling out; what we have here is Metal through and through and it’s a joy to hear.

I heartily recommend this. Listen loud and enjoy.

Pyre – Human Hecatomb (Review)

PyrePyre are from Russia and play Death Metal. This is their début album.

This is Old-School Death Metal with swagger, confidence and a feeling of grim determination mixed with a sense of graveyard fun.

The singer snarls and growls his way through the carnage and there’s more than a touch of Obituary about him.

Quality solos and playing all-round make for an enjoyable listen. The sound is balanced and the drums in particular sound quite satisfying. I also like that you can hear the bass. Hurrah for bass!

This is an album of good songs and good riffs; an album celebrating the time when songs were more important than how fast or how technical you could play.

Slow, mid-paced, fast; Human Hecatomb uses all tempos, speeds and paces well demonstrating Pyre’s good grasp of dynamics and songwriting.

A healthy Swedish Death Metal influence can be heard throughout this album, but it’s not an overbearing one and certainly not one that would give people who are sick of that particular sub-genre enough reason to avoid Pyre. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that there are very few reasons to avoid Pyre if you’re a fan of Classic Death Metal.

This really is great stuff. If you love Death Metal you’ll love Pyre.

Prayed and Betrayed – The Abundance of a Sickened Mind (Review)

Prayed and BetrayedPrayed and Betrayed are from Finland and this is their second EP.

With a striking cover that screams New-School, this is modern Melodic Death Metal with a healthy dose of heaviness.

The Abundance of a Sickened Mind has a very good recording that allows the band to sound punchy and fresh. This EP sounds confident and bold, which is what you want for this style of music.

There are three songs on this release and each of them boast a strong sound and a good grasp of melodics and songwriting. They’re quite good for instant gratification but also for a bit of longevity as the songs themselves are pretty decent and can last the course.

The melodic side of the band is constant but not overt, meaning that you don’t get swamped with overly-melodic riffs or sickly-sweet sounding passages. This is because the band offset it with a core of heaviness that relies on thick riffs that are rooted in modern Metal.

The combination of modern Metal rhythm guitars and more traditional Metal leads mean that Prayed and Betrayed have a foot in both camps; while this could in theory lead to a muddled identity in reality it works well with the band coming off as a firm hit rather than a floundering miss. In this sense I’d compare them to Dead Earth Politics who also effortlessly combine the old and the new into something fresh.

Prayed and Betrayed have created a very enjoyable calling card. Now all we need is a full album to really see what they’re truly capable of.

Unanswered – Heliosphere (Review)

UnansweredUnanswered are from Poland and play Djent/Deathcore.

This is energetic and suitably face ripping in nature. It blasts out of the cage with a strong sound and no qualms about who it attacks.

I’m not a massive fan of Djent as I think it’s too easy to be mediocre, but this only has a sprinkling of Djent mixed with the Deathcore and it works for me.

The band have a nicely heavy sound and aren’t afraid to layer melodies over the heaviness, further distilling the Djent-isms and adding depth to what otherwise might be random riffs strung together.

These melodies have a Post-Metal quality to them that’s nice to hear when juxtaposed against the heavier, chunky riffs that make up the bedrock of the band’s output. Added electronics/keyboards further enhance their sound and it’s a credit to their songwriting that it all congeals together into a cohesive whole.

These songs have a good groove to them and there’s enough bite to satisfy. It’s distinctly non-commercial, with the main aim of the band to destroy what lies in their path.

The singer has a brutal set of lungs and shouts and growls himself hoarse as he keeps up with the rest of the music. Some semi-cleans appear on the last song and it seems that Unanswered have even more potential than we might have seen so far.

This has surprised me and I’m pleased to say it’s surpassed my expectations. Both Djent and Deathcore are much maligned in a lot of people’s minds, but Unanswered give a good account of themselves and it would be a shame if they were dismissed out of hand due to this.

Heliosphere is an enjoyable twelve and a half minutes of modern Heavy music and Unanswered are definitely one of the better bands to play this style.

Give them a listen and see if their immense groove and spectral soundscapes can impress you as it has done me.

Interview with Execration

Execration Logo

Execration’s latest album Morbid Dimensions is an impressive, multi-faceted beast. After I’d picked myself back up off the floor, I scribbled down some hastily-scribed queries onto broken parchment and launched them into the ether. Somehow, somewhere, Cato Syversrud responded…

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

We’re four people from in and around Oslo, Norway playing metal of death. We focus on atmosphere and feeling over technical wankery, and share more in common with the bands of the eighties than most modern death metal bands. Still, we’re no retro-act, and we keep trying to take our music new places.

Execration Live 2Give us a bit of history to Execration

Execration took its first steps in 2004. By 2006, we’d recorded our first EP, Language of the Dead. Immediately after that, Jonas joined on bass completing the band. After Jonas joined, we quickly wrote songs for our first album, Syndicate of Lethargy, which came out in 2008, over a year after it was recorded. In 2010 we did a split with fellow Oslo-area bands Lobotomized, Diskord, and Obliteration, called “Oslo We Rot”. In 2011, we released our celebrated second album, Odes of the Occult, and now we’re on the verge of releasing our latest album, Morbid Dimensions.

What are your influences?

Musically, I think we cover a lot of ground, as the four of us have our own tastes. I mean, we all share lots of bands in common that we all love, but each of us also have influences that the others don’t share. We all prefer things that sound “real”, things that have an edge and some dynamics to it, and that hasn’t been produced to a brickwalled piece of plastic. This means that we do enjoy quite a bit of vintage metal, but there’s also lots of cool new things coming out. Except for the metal stuff, there are of course bands in other genres as well, and I guess our tastes are less unified in this manner. Aside from other bands, we also find our influences in movies, and even to some degree other forms of art. These can inspire certain kinds of moods and atmospheres that we will try to incorporate into our music.

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

In the close future we will be sharing stage with Swedish Nifelheim at the Krater festival here in Oslo, so I’ve been playing their “Envoy of Lucifer” a lot recently. It’s really good stuff. Diskord’s newest EP has also gotten heavy rotation on all of our headsets, and I (Chris) have also spent some time with the latest Mastodon album. It’s not as great as they used to be, but it sure beat the previous one. Other than that bands like Bölzer, Twink, Circus 2000, Damian, Thorne, Old Razor, Sarcofago have been spinning a lot lately

What did you want to achieve with your new album?

We wanted the album to stand out in its own right, and to have an identity distinct from our other albums. This was a clear goal right from the beginning when we started writing the album, and to be honest, I think we’ve been pretty successful at this. We didn’t have in mind exactly how we would set this one apart, but we did have some ideas for moods and aspects of our music we felt we hadn’t explored fully on previous releases. As always, we also wanted the album to have a solid atmosphere, and not just be a riff-heavy metal album. On songs like Tribulation Shackles, this aspect has really been allowed to sit front and center, and on other tracks, it’s more subdued, integrated into otherwise intense and hectic songs.

Execration LiveAre you happy with how it turned out?

Quite so. Writing is a creative process, and the process itself has taken us places we couldn’t foresee upfront. It’s always exciting to be able to sit down and review the final product once it’s all over, and this time was no different. We’ve achieved our main goals, which was evolving our sound and evoking a deadly atmosphere.

What can you tell us about the lyrics?

We like to keep the lyrics on the obscure side. I will simply point you to the album title, the cover art and the overall feeling of the album, and let you make up the meaning of the songs for yourself.

Give us a bit of information on the songwriting process.

We always write as a group. Typically, people will show up at rehearsal with a riff or two, or maybe even a series of riffs stringed into a part. We will then work on what we have, and start looking to combine riffs into parts. In the early phases, we will even occasionally switch instruments when someone has an idea for something, and work like that to hash it out. Eventually these parts clump up into songs, and eventually the creativity shifts gears from writing new material to moulding the raw songs into more refined arrangements. This will include rearranging things, working with tempos and shifts, and the little details that separate OK songs from really great songs.

You have a very diverse and accomplished sound – how did you decide what you wanted to sound like in each part of the different songs?

We tend to think in songs more than in individual parts. So the individual parts exist to support the overall dynamics of the song. I don’t think there’s so much consideration of how we want to sound in this part and that part, it’s more how do we create good dynamics throughout the song. This plays into all the aspects of a song/part: tempo, keynote, mood, and so on.

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

Well, that’s for the future to tell. All we know is that the next set of songs won’t sound like missing out-takes from Morbid Dimensions – that’s the drive of Execration, creating something new. On the new album, we made some drastic changes to the guitar sound by using a completely different tuning than the previous album. This may not be a permanent change. We’ll see where life takes us.

What’s next for Execration?

The album is about to come out, so first up is playing a few gigs to support them. Next year we hope to make it to more places further away. We also plan to write new material shortly, but what will come of it is impossible to say at this point. Rest assured, you have not heard the last of Execration.

And nor would we want to.

Bettyœtker – Barricades (Review)

BettyœtkerBettyœtker are from Germany and play Hardcore.

I have to say I like the cover, so that’s a good start.

The music itself is well recorded with a sound that accentuates the emotive nature of the band.

Angular riffs and chuggy, expressive guitars chop and change their way through the playing time. This would have been at home in the late 90’s/early 00’s Metallic Hardcore scene which spawned the likes of Botch, Zao, Norma Jean, Poison the Well, Nora, etc.

The songs here are wonderfully constructed and boast lots of ideas and interesting riffs to keep the listener hooked.

The singer performs with great gusto and has a voice that’s somewhere between a shout and a scream. He complements and suits the songs well and provides a warmer human side to the band; the music is emotive in its own right of course, but it has a cold, harsh edge to it that the vocals compensate for. Taken together these tracks are dangerously addictive.

This is a class EP full of the kind of meaty Hardcore Metal that’s in much shorter supply these days than it once was.

They’ve made a fan of me and I can’t wait for a full album now. Bettyœtker are here to stay.

Weltschmerz – Odium Humani Generis (Review)

WeltschmerzWeltschmerz are from the Netherlands and this is their début album. They play Black Metal.

Weltschmerz play harsh, angry Black Metal that’s fuelled by bile and rage. Blasting chaos and rhythmic pulsing darkness assault the senses as the band do their utmost to deafen and corrupt.

The band are not without nuance though; they also know how to pen riffs that cater to the depressive and the more subtle and considered. For the most part though they’re decidedly unmoved by anything remotely weak and their style reflects this.

Odium Humani Generis harkens back to the 90’s and their Black Metal makes me feel nostalgic for the past and pride in the present at the same time. This style should never be allowed to die and Weltschmerz carry on the tradition with fortitude and bluster.

The distortion and blast beats, the Blackened melodies and venomous vocals; this is real Black Metal.

The recording is typical of the era and is authentic and as welcoming as a blizzard. It suits the album down to the ground and provides a firm basis for the band to carve out their Blackened home.

Weltschmerz have crafted a thoroughly enjoyable Black Metal album. Give them a listen.

Tantal – Expectancy (Review)

TantalTantal are from Russia and this is their second album. They play Progressive Melodic Death Metal.

This is upbeat and Melodic Death Metal in the vein of Arch Enemy, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Nightrage, etc. Tantal differentiate themselves though by having more of a Progressive edge to their sound.

The vocals consist of harsh male screaming and clean female vocals pairing off against each other. Both sets of vocals are performed admirably and the clean melodies in particular are quite enjoyable and remind of classic Lacuna Coil back when they were still a rising power to contend with.

The band’s progressive influences mean this is a relatively lengthy album and the songs have some good meat on them due to this. Everything is played well and the songs make an impression.

This has a strong European flavour to it, (despite originating in Russia), and takes me back to a time when European Metal still sounded quite exotic and had a unique flavour to it. Although this is still quite true in many respects, it no longer feels new to me any more, having heard it for decades now; Tantal remind me of a time when it all was still new and exciting, so that alone endears me to them even before you take into account the fact that they actually write good songs too!

If you like the more modern, melodic style of Heavy Metal yet eschew the more commercial tendencies of a lot of bands that play in this genre and want something a bit meatier to sink your teeth into, you could do a lot worse than check out Tantal.

A recommended listen.

Gory Blister – The Fifth Fury (Review)

Gory BlisterGory Blister are from Italy and as the name of the album suggests, this is their fifth album.

The band play Technical/Progressive Death Metal and take the listener on a whirlwind journey.

On The Fifth Fury we hear influences from bands like Carcass, Death and Morbid Angel. Gory Blister make these their own and use them throughout the 35 minutes playing time to create an album that is involving and complete.

The band manage to be sharp and aggressive in their assault whilst tempering this approach with restraint and more considered passages that show their Progressive Metal influences. Although they have plenty of Technical Death Metal in their sound the Progressive edge and the Carcass influence never let this side of the band get in the way of the songs themselves.

This is music that likes to explore itself. For a relatively short album there is plenty of variation around the central theme and lots of nice ideas scattered around to engage the listener such as the subtle synths that add further feeling to some of the tracks.

The riffs are largely inventive, with plenty of leads and solos to sink your teeth into. Melodies and Progressive tunes punctuate the brutality in a way that works with the flow of the songs rather than against them.

Serrated screamed vocals are the main mode of attack but satisfyingly deep growls are also used.

A strong sound and strong songwriting means this is a strong album. Strongly recommended.

Tarnkappe – Tussen Hun En De Zon (Review)

TarnkappeTarnkappe are from the Netherlands and this is their début album.

As soon as it starts it makes an impression. The band have the classic-era Darkthrone/Burzum feel in spades and I can’t help but get a bit excited. It may be an old style but it’s a very welcome and enjoyable one.

Their cold-hearted Black Metal has a great sound that’s raw and organic whilst retaining a clarity and strength about it. Quite simply they sound fantastic.

The vocals are evil croaks that are genre-perfect and adequately portray the evil and disgust that’s spewed out. They also sound suitably demoniacally demented on occasion. It’s a flawless Old-School delivery that fits the music perfectly and the entire package is authentic and historically accurate.

Tarnkappe are their own masters though and are not simply Darkthrone clones. This is an album which has a darkness all of its own and the songs fill me with a deeply personal satisfaction in that special grim way that only Black Metal can.

Listening to this album is a real joy. The Blackened melodies and mid-paced icy rhythms have infected the pleasure centres of my brain and won’t stop.

It’s not new, it’s not perfect but it’s Old-School Black Metal through and through. If you still enjoy this style then you’ll enjoy Tarnkappe.