Demon Lung – A Dracula (Review)

Demon LungThis is the second album from US Doom Metal band Demon Lung.

Having really enjoyed The Hundredth Name, this new release promised much.

Demon Lung’s Metal is the Traditional Doom Metal variety. Taking the occult route, the band have produced 45 minutes of material that sparkles with an evil majesty.

The songs speak of midnight heresies and sacrificial rites. The music has dark atmospheres and melodies that seep into the brain and stay there, unwilling to move.

The singer’s voice is drenched in occult blasphemies and reaches new heights, (or depths), of worship. Her voice already sounded great on their début album and here she sounds even fuller and more emphatic than ever.

They pepper the songs with some upbeat moments of course, but ultimately this is all about the DOOOOM. The band know this, and that’s where the true power of this album lies.

Like their first album album, A Dracula features a strong production that gives the band’s music a very satisfying sheen. Coupled with the songs themselves, it cements Demon Lung as a particular favourite of mine in the sea of bands that play Traditional Doom.

After their enjoyable first release, Demon Lung return with an album that does them justice. A Dracula is a very enjoyable listen and is firmly recommended for all Doom Metal fans.

Right. Now, where did I put that goat…?

Allfather – No Gods. No Masters. (Review)

AllfatherAllfather are from the UK and this is their début release of Hardcore/Sludge.

Allfather seem to have cornered the market on Punked-up Metallic discontent. They’re pissed off and have come to put the boot in, big style.

This is underground and raw; music that’s ready for a scrap and happy to get its hands dirty.

The songs on this short EP are tight balls of fury with guitars that fall halfway between murky Sludge Metal and Hardcore anger. Energetic and heavy riffs make up the bulk of this release and there’s no let up in the 11 minutes playing time.

Allfather do heavy very well, but they also write actual songs; these tracks have a good flow to them and are quite catchy and memorable. This is not heaviness just for the sake of it; this music is focused and directed so that the compositions have meaning and purpose.

An enjoyable and promising EP. The UK seems to excel at this kind of dirty, gritty Metal. More please.

A cross between elements of Crowbar, Gutworm, dBh, Raging Speedhorn, Labrat and the like.

No Trust – The Cycle (Review)

No TrustThis is the latest EP from US Metallers No Trust.

We know No Trust from their début album Unfound, so it’s good to catch up with their latest offering.

I stand by my previous statements about this band – they’re still huge worshippers of The Riff and still come across as a blending of Dopethrone and Chimaira.

The singer’s raspy roar is back once more and continues to provide very satisfying vocals for the unfolding Metallic carnage. His voice works even closer with the music on this EP to produce songs that gel together nicely.

The guitars seem to buzz and rage through the playing time with that interesting combination of Sludge and Modern Metal that they play so well. The production emphasizes the Metal side of the equation, but the Sludge quality is brought out in the music from some choice riffing and the singer’s acidic snarl.

The songs are more developed this time around and the time between releases seems to have been well spent; overall, No Trust sound more confident and professional than ever.

Well, I’m very happy with this. A 31 minute blast of quality Metal is never to be turned down.

Give them a listen and prepare to unleash the fury.

Relentless – Night Terrors (Review)

RelentlessThis is the second album by US Heavy Metal band Relentless.

Their first album, Souls of Charon, was a very enjoyable slab of Heavy/Doom Metal. This new release keeps the flag flying for Traditional Heavy Metal and all but drops the Doom Metal aspect of their sound.

In fact, Relentless seem to have gone further down the NWOBHM route on Night Terrors. The songs are upbeat rockers that value a chorus and are a lot rougher than their old incarnation, both in attitude and delivery.

The recording is grittier and less polished too. The band almost come off as some undiscovered garage Metal band, lost to the mists of Metal history.

The singer adds her own character to the songs and hearing her on this release is quite a contrast to her more laid-back style on their début.

The songs are proper Metal songs, full of swagger and upbeat energy. If you are familiar with Old-School Heavy Metal then this is quite the feast.

A change in direction, certainly; rawer, Traditional Metal with more attitude. I wonder, what will album number three bring for Relentless?

Kingcrow – Eidos (Review)

KingcrowKingcrow are an Italian Progressive Rock band and this is their sixth album.

This is Progressive Rock that sounds to these ears not too far removed from a modern version of 70’s Progressive Rock with a bit more of a distorted guitar. The music has a similar feeling and immersive quality, only updated for the present day.

The songs are easily assimilated, with honey-dipped melodies and top quality Progressive riffing seemingly on-demand.

The playing is exquisite and their songwriting skills are highly developed and advanced, as would be expected for a band of their pedigree.

After six albums Kingcrow have nothing to prove and this is an album that’s put together extremely well. The interplay between the vocals and the guitars is well-judged and everything fits together flawlessly.

Modern Progressive Rock doesn’t always sound this professional, slick and polished, but there’s still an edge here and a hunger and depth to the songs. Kingcrow still feel what they’re doing, and this comes out in the music.

This is a really enjoyable album.

The Meads of Asphodel/Tjolgtjar – Taste the Divine Wrath – Split (Review)

The Meads of Asphodel/TjolgtjarThe Meads of Asphodel are from the UK and play a very individual brand of Black Metal. Here they team up with US one-man Black Metal project Tjolgtjar, who you may remember from 2012’s Kjal Tjormejn.

As such, this is an interesting and exciting split release from two atypical Black Metal bands that succeeds in putting two very individual and different spins on this well-worn genre.

The Meads of Asphodel are up first and contribute 16 minutes to this release.

The Meads of Asphodel always manage to imbue their songs with such personality and character, due in no small part to their charismatic singer Metatron. On this release he’s as expressive as ever and has his performance aided by other vocal styles such as croaking screams, ghostly chants and female vocals.

The music manages to be underground, extreme and catchy all at the same time. Classic Blackened blasting and experimental pseudo-Pop share space on this impressive collection of tracks and whether they’re playing fuzzed-up, dirty Black Metal or synth-heavy atmospheric sections, The Meads of Asphodel are at the forefront of Experimental/Progressive Black Metal.

Oh, and track three is a cover/re-imagining of Candi Staton’s You’ve Got the Love, retitled You’ve Got the Hate. It works.

After this it’s on to Tjolgtjar, supplying 18 minutes of music. It’s an odd, atypical expression of Black Metal, with a more garage, underground feeling than the more flamboyant tendencies of The Meads of Asphodel.

In some ways Tjolgtjar remind more of a conventional raw Black Metal band, but this is only superficially true. Upon closer inspection, the riffs and general composition of the music is unusual. Even when the blast beats are flowing swiftly, the guitars are playing Blackened rhythms and melodies that are almost like semi-distorted Country/Folk acoustics. Almost. It’s as if this music came from decades ago and is a Black Metal version of 70s Progressive Rock.

The vocals are screamed croaks but also benefit from cleaner accompaniments. It’s an added extra that, when combined with the music, reinforces the 70s music connection, at least to my mind.

Black Metal, Classic Rock and Progressive Rock, combined. Nice.

But this is what Tjolgtjar do so well; their music is not your average Black Metal and their contribution to this split is superbly delivered and realised.

This is a very impressive release from two impressive bands. If you’re looking for Black Metal that’s challenging and different from the norm then this should be your first stop.

Very highly recommended.

Tenebrositas – Forever Nothing (Review)

TenebrositasThis is the second album from Croatian one-man Black Metal band Tenebrositas.

This is Black Metal that’s minimalistic and cold. I love the album cover and it speaks in the same, simple language as the music.

The raw sound nonetheless has a certain frosted vibrancy to it and the sole band member may be trapped in the past but no matter how inhospitable it may sound, he’s perfectly at home.

The vocals lash out as if from a storm and they’re the kind of vocalisations that come across almost like static; high pitched screams, nearly lost in the mix. It’s the kind of Black Metal delivery that shouldn’t really work but I find that it adds a certain something to the style that usually makes me a very happy bunny indeed, as is the case here.

This is an album that embraces the early Norwegian sound and certainly does it justice. The icy melodies and repetitive strumming do exactly what they’re meant to. These songs are less about riffs and more about feelings. To that end, Forever Nothing succeeds in producing raw, underground Black Metal that focuses on a holistic Blackened delivery, with everything contributing to the replication of the core Black Metal style.

This may not be to everyone’s tastes, especially if you’re sated on this form of Black Metal, but it’s certainly to mine.

All hail Tenebrositas!

Jarun – Pod Niebem Utkanym z Popiołu (Review)

JarunJarun are a Black Metal band from Poland and this is their second album.

Jarun play Black Metal with Progressive/Folk elements.

This release combines considered reflection, passionate delivery and fiery Black Metal into a cohesive hole that does well to temper Black Metal’s dark flame with a subtle Folkier perspective. The Progressive Metal elements fit well into this musical tapestry and allow the music an even broader scope.

If you think of a merging of Enslaved, Thy Worshiper, Opeth and ugly, primitive Black Metal then you’ll be on the right lines. The juxtaposition of the raw Black Metal core with the sophistication and nuance of Progressive Black Metal is enough for many bands to contemplate, but add to this some Folk influences and Pod Niebem Utkanym z Popiołu becomes even more impressive.

The band have a guitar sound that they use well; when distorted it’s gritty and abrasive, but when the distortion fades it’s nicely clean and polished.

The vocals are gruff, savage barks that wouldn’t be out of place on an underground Grindcore release. They add real bite to the tracks and show that Jarun have that aggressive core, even when the music is more refined.

These songs are impressively realised beasts that have a lot of variety and content to them. They’re well-written and the playing time makes the most of the incorporated styles to take the listener on a journey through Jarun’s highly textured world.

Jarun strike the right tone with their songs and they get the correct balance between their particular influences. Acoustic and cleaner sections abound within the heavier, grimmer framework and the riffs, solos and leads all add a lot to the moods they create.

When I first approached this release I wasn’t sure what to expect; the cover gives little away, and I don’t read Polish so apart from knowing it was a Black Metal release of sorts, that was all. As it turns out, Pod Niebem Utkanym z Popiołu has been an extremely pleasant surprise. I love albums that have a depth to them and Jarun succeed in being able to write songs that capture the attention with their Progressive style and yet have ample enough aggression to satisfy.

I do fear this is somewhat destined to be a lost gem; let’s try to stop this from happening. Jarun are a band more than deserving of support; this is an impressive album from a talented band.

Extremely highly recommended.

Sågverk – Sahataan ne Kaikki (Review)

SågverkThis is the début album from Finnish Black ‘n’ Rollers Sågverk.

Angry, Crust-fuelled Black Metal with a modern Rocking aspect and plenty of attitude; Sågverk make this kind of music look easy, but also offer up something a bit different.

There are 8 tracks of Blackened belligerence and groove here, comprising 7 originals and a Metallica cover of Motorbreath.

Buzzsaw riffs and brutal guitars power the songs, but there’s a lot more control here than I was expecting to hear. The tracks are written with more than just Black Metal in mind – as well as the Punk/Crust there’s a bit of a Stoner vibe to some of the riffs, making Sahataan ne Kaikki a bit different from the norm.

The songs are well-written and make use of a strong riff-oriented approach. This is not a release that’s top-speed all of the time, but nonetheless maintains a high energy throughout.

The vocals are shouted screams that vary in tone and delivery a fair deal. Cleans are also used sparingly but it’s mainly all about the shouting. The singer plays his part well and gives a good performance.

The band have a very clean and clear sound; again, a bit different form the norm as this kind of Crusty, Blackened assault is usually a lot dirtier in delivery. It works though and allows the Rockier aspects to their style to come to the fore.

This is a really interesting release that smashes my preconceptions about what Black ‘n’ Roll can sound like. If you imagine a Black Metal/Crust/Punk hybrid, the likes of which we see relatively often, then make their sound cleaner and add in a combination of Kvelertak with a bit of (old) Mastodon to the riffs then Sågverk will be the end result.

Enjoyable and different, Sahataan ne Kaikki is a really good listen.

Highly recommended.

Interview with Neck of the Woods

Neck of the Woods Logo

Neck of the Woods’ début EP is an exciting blend of Progressive Metal and Hardcore fury, one that’s really made itself felt around these parts. I was eager to find out more about this compelling new band…

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

Dave: Neck of the Woods is a five piece metal progressive metal band from Vancouver, BC. Myself and Travis Hein on guitars, Jeff Radomsky on vocals, Jason Puder on bass and Jeff Brown on the drums.

Give us a bit of history to Neck of the Woods

Dave: Jeff Drums and I starting jamming back in 2012 after my old band split up. I had one song ready to go and that got the ball rolling. We found the other guys, mostly through Craigslist, and the plan was the keep the band on the down low until we were ready to play our first show. We released a two song demo in 2013 and made our live debut January 2014 ready to go. Just a couple months later we were chosen to represent Vancouver in the Waken Metal Battle Finals in Toronto. We didn’t make it all the way to Germany but we had opening gigs for The Faceless, Havok and Wrecthed shortly after we returned. Hit the studio in October 2014 and here we are now with our debut EP!

Where did the band name come from?

Jeff vocals: When we were picking a name we wanted something that wouldn’t pigeon hole us as a metal band, something that looked good in type and was easy to remember. ‘Neck of the woods’ was something I remembered my dad saying all the time as a child, it fit our criteria and goes along thematically with the art and design I wanted to do while hosting a kind of pacific north west feel to it. We’re all happy to be playing under the name.

What are your influences?

Dave: There are a couple key bands we all really enjoy. Between the Buried and Me, Gojira, Every Time I Die, Opeth, Misery Signals, Converge…

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

Dave: I’ve been listening to a lot of Cloudkicker lately. The album Beacons especially. Instrumental stuff, really cool grooves and riffs. If we’re hanging out having beers we’ll toss on From Parts Unknown, the latest Every Time I Die album.

Neck of the Woods BandYour début EP contains a number of different influences, where do you think you fit in the wider Metal scene?

Dave: Wherever we land really. We naturally end up writing in the ‘progressive’ style. Regular use of odd time signatures and cool transitions, quieter clean parts to help with the build ups… but our singer Jeff has more of a hardcore sound so it’s a cool blend. We really don’t limit ourselves when it comes to the style of riffs we write, so you never know!

What’s your favourite song on the EP and why?

Dave: Right now, I Know Where I’ll Bury you. Which is strange because there are no guitar solos on it haha. We ended up choosing that tune to release as the single from the EP, and now kids are going off when we play it live! We’ve been closing our set with it as of late and you can’t help but throw down the whole time. Feels good man.

What are the subjects/themes of the songs on this EP?

Jeff vocals: Self awareness and personal growth are the two main things that all 6 songs branch from. The EP touches on faulty leaders, close friends, family grievances and the quarrels of endorsements.

Give us a bit of information on your songwriting process.

Dave: Travis and I are always riffing, but only certain ones will make the cut. One of us will show up with a decent chunk of a song started… the first couple riffs or the general feel/groove and then we build from there. Play it a couple times, see if we need to extend/shorten certain parts. Usually we’re just hashing it out in the jam space, but lately we’ve started recording riffs and sending them to each other just to help things along.

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

Dave: Hard to say, and that’s the best part. The EP has a pretty good mix of longer prog tunes, and short riffy bangers. I can see that being a consistent thing with us. Actually the new song we are playing has more of a Opeth groove going on. We had a chance to play it at the EP release show and it was really well received. At the same time we’re working on a new thrasher tune that has some Revocation style stuff happening… so we aren’t slowing down just yet!

What’s next for Neck of the Woods?

Dave: We’re got Calgary Metalfest in June and Armstrong Metalfest in July, as well as an all ages gig and another local show in between so we will be busy. Hopefully hit the road again in September to support the EP, and keep on the riffs so we’ve got enough for a full length next year! Make sure to check out the album stream at https://neckofthewoods.bandcamp.com/album/neck-of-the-woods

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