Dead in the Manger – Cessation (Review)

Dead in the MangerThis is the début album from the mysterious collective that is Dead in the Manger.

Dead in the Manger play a curiously unusual mix of Depressive/Funeral Black Metal and Blackened Grindcore, as ably showcased on their début EP Transience.

On this latest release the band continue with their exploration down the path lass travelled, (never travelled?), that they started on Transience.

The juxtaposition of Depressive melody and harsh Blackened Grind is still not something that’s common and by all rights it shouldn’t work, but Dead in the Manger take a hitherto largely unexplored sub-genre that probably hardly anybody else is usually bothered with, let alone covets, and make it fully their own.

A harsh Black Metal ambience and general negatively-charged melodicism are created by the band only to then smash it into a mutated, bastard Grind template that results in songs combining both atmosphere and aggression.

It’s like someone has taken Shoegaze Black Metal and given it some real backbone.

So has their sound progressed from Transience at all? Yes; I’d say that the Black Metal component is more prevalent on Cessation, although that could also be due to the fact that they’ve learned to incorporate beauty and brutality at an even deeper level on this release. There’s also more mid-paced sections where the band demonstrate that not only can they create an evil atmosphere but they can maintain it.

In order to get something like this right you really need to know what you’re doing, and Dead in the Manger have proven that their first release wasn’t just some fluke. Cessation is even better.

A highly recommended listen. If you haven’t done so already you need to discover Dead in the Manger.

Oh, and the band logo and album cover? Fantastic.

Ghost Season – Ghosts Like Her (Review)

Ghost SeasonThis is the latest EP from Ghost Season who are from Greece. They play Modern/Alternative Metal.

The band have a strong, professional sound and waste no time in grabbing the attention of the listener.

This is Modern/Alternative Metal with clean vocals and easy harmonies. Imagine a Heavy Metal band that were more influenced by Modern Alternative Metal and the New Wave of American Heavy Metal than anything from the European scenes and you’ll have an idea of where Ghost Season are coming from.

In fact, the only real nod to the European scene is Ghost Season’s inclusion of a good amount of guitar solos, which is something that’s less prevalent in the previously mentioned styles and something that I’m very glad they incorporate into their sound.

Don’t let references to the NWOAHM fool you though, as apart from the occasional backing vocal there’s no real shouting, nor is there any angry pseudo-Hardcore breakdowns here; the singer has a fluidly melodic voice and the music has a good, hearty Modern Rock influence to it.

These songs slip out of the speakers like they wouldn’t harm a fly, but then Ghost Season’s intention isn’t to threaten. The band aim to make music that’s melodic and polished without losing its passion and vibrancy. For the most part it succeeds and Ghosts Like Her is an enjoyable collection of tracks.

The band sometimes remind me of a modern interpretation of 90’s Alternative Rock and even with the thoroughly modern sheen of Ghosts Like Her I can’t help but feel vaguely nostalgic when listening to it.

Give them a listen and see if they hit that right note for you.

Favourite Track: Need.

Cowards – Rise to Infamy (Review)

CowardsCowards are from France and this is their second album. They play a brand of Hardcore that’s a blend of Sludge and Black Metal.

This is the kind of discordant, ugly, abrasive, extreme Hardcore that I absolutely love. Throw in a Blackened Sludge influence as well and you’ve a love affair just waiting to happen.

Well, actually it’s been happening ever since I discovered their début album really, but this new one affirms it.

Cowards incorporate interesting ideas and riffs into their aural assault and every song brings something slightly different to the table.

The granddaddy of this style is, of course, the mighty Converge. Cowards take the template laid down by the masters and dirty it up with Sludge and Black Metal influences until it’s firmly their own. I like a band that stamps their own identity on the style of music they choose to play; Cowards do this with jackhammers.

Toweringly slow, blisteringly fast, chuggingly heavy, Blackly aggressive, sadistically spiteful…I could go on. Suffice to say that Cowards have created an album that’s heavy and extreme in all of the right ways.

And have I mentioned the riffs? There are some choice ones on here. Slow, fast, atypical, angular, you name it.

The singer is appropriately intense throughout. This kind of music needs a singer who sounds like he’s about to lose it and explode into a fit of violence and this is what we get.

Great stuff. If you like music that’s heavy and aggressive you’ll love Cowards.

Heaving Earth – Denouncing the Holy Throne (Review)

Heaving EarthHeaving Earth are from the Czech Republic and this is their second album.

Now this is the stuff! Just take a look at the album cover and tell me you’re not sold on that alone. Class.

When you press play all Hell breaks loose. It’s like the essence of Death Metal just floods out of the speakers and everything is okay with the world again.

If you like Hate Eternal, Immolation, Morbid Angel and Gorguts then I feel pretty confident in recommending Heaving Earth to you. And recommend them I do, whole heartedly.

The singer has the perfect kind of Death Metal voice; it sounds like he’s chewing granite and he’s got that deeply satisfying style of growling that really hits you where it counts. It’s guttural but still expressive.

The music has a quality production that allows you to hear everything that’s going on without giving it too much of a polish.

Angry riffs and boatloads of leads make for songs that are both brutal and emotive in the way that bands like Immolation do so well. The songs on Denouncing the Holy Throne are well written, well played and just plain rule. As well as the ripping and the tearing there’s no shortage of atmosphere either.

There’s a good degree of interest and variety here, (within the genre confines obviously), and lots of good ideas are explored. A malevolent aura hangs over the entire album pulling everything together so it all sounds very complete.

Well this is just great. Top marks for Heaving Earth. What are you waiting for? Get out there and hunt this down now!

Sativa – 100 Years After Never (Review)

SativaSativa are from Bulgaria and this is their latest release. They play instrumental Post-Rock.

This is winding Post-Rock with a nice Progressive Rock edge to their sound. There’s also some Psychedelia and Stoner elements to their sound that essentially mean 100 Years After Never is a very relaxing, easy listen that washes over you like a rippling tide.

That’s not to say it’s all calm sailing as the band ramp it up a bit when they need to, but there’s no real heavy aggression here or anything of that sort.

Ethereal Post-Rock guitar blends with down-to-earth bass to create a listening experience that’s tranquil and charged at the same time. Sativa do well in this combination of beauty and gritty realism and the songs on this EP are nicely judged.

With the Stoner connection it’s the usual thing to make lots of comparisons to deserts, etc. but the reality is that Sativa have got somewhat of a watery vibe going on in some ways. This is especially strong on track 3, which gives the distinct impression of bubbles…

Maybe it’s just me, but I can hear it, I swear…

Overall this is a neat little EP that hits more times than it misses.


Inharmonic – Flesh Inferno (Review)

InharmonicThis is the second EP from Finnish Death Metallers Inharmonic.

Inharmonic play Death Metal with a classic 90’s feel via a very modern production. It’s a brutal and traditional style that recalls Deicide or Decapitated’s catchy simplicity.

The band do have a modern sheen characterised by the strong production and the razor-sharp riffing.

Some nice winding leads appear to enhance their core brutality. Solos also appear but for me the real star of this recording is the rhythm guitars as they’re both memorable and infectious.

The crisp sound makes the punishing rhythms almost crash out of the speakers and the band take full advantage of this to pummel the listener into submission.

Flesh Inferno is an effective Death Metal war machine designed to tear through the weak like a carefully honed weapon. It’s surgical, precise and deadly.

I look forward to their first album; if Flesh Inferno is anything to go by it’ll be a right fiery treat.

Good stuff.

Evisorax – Goodbye to the Feast..Welcome to the Famine (Review)

EvisoraxEvisorax are from the UK and play Grindcore. This is their latest EP.

Violent, intense and uncompromising; Evisorax have entered the building.

What can you say about Grind as demented as this apart from advising people to run as far away as possible? This is only advice to the normal people of course, for if you’re a fan of Grind then you should be hurrying to embrace the carnage that Evisorax deal as quickly as you can.

Evisorax are a whirlwind of destruction. It’s an apt image as their music twists, turns and convulses in ways that defy the listener to keep up.

I’d say if you combine the intensity of Discordance Axis, the unhinged brutality of Brutal Truth and the Sludgy extremity of Labrat then you’ll have a starting point for Evisorax.

Hidden behind the pure maelstrom of visceral lunacy that they play the band have a strong sound and actually have compositional skills. To the uninitiated it may seem that a band like this simply turn up, turn on and play whatever they like, but to the Grindcore connoisseur it’s clear that thought and refinement has gone into these tracks.

They may know how to unleash chaos but it has it’s own warped version of dynamics and pacing, which only increase the power of the impressive noise that they create. This is especially apparent on the penultimate track So Many Fat People, During the Famine, which sees the band expand their sound into wider Extreme Metal territories.

I was already a fan of Evsiorax’s 2011 release Isle of Dogs, but this new one has taken the extremity to a whole new level, and I love it.

Get this.

Karma to Burn – Arch Stanton (Review)

Karma to BurnKarma to Burn are from the US and this is their sixth album. They play instrumental Stoner Rock.

Karma to Burn are one of those bands that I’ve been aware of ever since they first came out, but for some reason I’ve never actually heard them. As such, Arch Stanton is my first experience of them.

This is riff-heavy Stoner that is not lessened by the lack of vocals. If anything it improves things as it allows both the band and the listener to concentrate on the music exclusively.

Karma to Burn have an ability to write relatively straightforward Stoner songs that have a good energy and vibrancy to them. They quickly capture the listener’s attention with their riffcraft and easily hold it with emotive fretwork and enjoyable, easy-to-digest songwriting.

The album’s just under 38 minutes long and the playtime just melts away as the band do their thing and the listener gets drawn in.

A thoroughly enjoyable romp through the land of the riff.

Holotropic – Permeate (Review)

HolotropicHolotropic are from Slovakia and play Progressive Technical Extreme Metal. This is their début album.

I wasn’t sure what this was going to sound like and was afraid it was going to be some wishy-washy, formless nonsense. I’m not sure why. This was all dispelled shortly into the first song; what I expected to be some throwaway intro track turns out to be masterful Extreme Metal that wouldn’t be out of place on an album by Between the Buried and Me or The Faceless.

More fool me.

No, cynical me has taken a firm beating and I’m very glad too. Permeate is a very impressive album.

Holotropic mix brutality, progressive sections, melodic parts, piano interludes, Jazz, heavy riffs and chaotic rhythms together into a cohesive whole that they’ve then weaved into their comprehensive Extreme Metal tapestry. This is either a Progressive Metal band that have taken Death Metal as their own, or a Death Metal band who have learned the value of expansive variety. Which it is doesn’t really matter.

Death Metal is an apt genre, but the nature of the riffs, the modern cadence, the exploratory nature of the music…it’s simply more than most Death Metal bands get up to. Again the comparisons to the aforementioned Between the Buried and Me and The Faceless come to mind, as this is Extreme Metal that has a modern Progressive slant.

The band can play very well and there’s a boat-load of technicality on display here too. As Technical Death Metal goes it can give most a run for their money.

For all the variety and interesting ideas of the music, the vocals are mainly pitch-black growls. It works well though as it provides a central anchor for the band’s extremity and musical meanderings. They sound great too. Occasional cleans appear sparingly and are professionally done.

Permeate is a varied and interesting début from an extremely promising band. I insist you take note of Holotropic and get your hands on this. They have a bright future ahead of them.

Highly recommended.