Atlas Entity – Enceladus (Review)

Atlas EntityAtlas Entity is a one-man Progressive Death Metal project from the US.

This is a short EP, a taster really, at 16 minutes in length, featuring colourful Progressive/Technical/Melodic Death Metal with a textured delivery and an open, exploratory approach to the sub-genre.

There’s enough bite here to satisfy fans of aggression, but there’s also a side to the band that’s more restrained and considered, as well as one that likes to let loose with all kinds of guitar-mayhem.

Featuring a couple of different guests as well as the drummer of Decrepit Birth, the musicianship on Enceladus is first-rate and provides plenty of substance to get your teeth into as the playing time passes.

The vocals are a mix of deeper growls and high pitched screams, both performed well and with passion. When the screams are ringing out, the drumming speeds up and the melodics go into overdrive the songs take on their Melodic Death Metal aspect; this works really well as it then frequently collapses back into more technical or Progressive territory, allowing the songs a wide-reach when it comes to bases covered.

There’s a lot to enjoy on this EP and the tracks sell themselves well. These are not simple songs and it’s clear that a lot of time, love and attention has gone into them. It seems to have paid off, and I recommend you give Enceladus a few spins to see what you think.

Lambs – Betrayed from Birth (Review)

LambsLambs are an Italian blackened Hardcore band and this is their début EP.

You gotta love Blackened Hardcore. A sub-genre that takes the best of the violence and darkness from Hardcore and Black Metal? Yes please! This style is getting more and more popular and has already resulted in a plethora of good bands such as Hexis, Plebeian Grandstand, Dark Circles, Ancst, Cowards, Funerals, Protestant and Flesh Born, to name just a few. Some bands go slightly more one way or the other, while others, like Lambs, meet both genres in the middle. That, and a bit of Post-Hardcore thrown in for good measure.

This is a quality little release that showcases what Lambs are capable of, and it seems that they should have big things ahead of them if they can keep this level of quality control and intensity up for a full album. Well, big things for a small sub-genre at any rate.

The aforementioned intensity doesn’t mean it’s a Blackened blast fest, (although they can blast when they need to); Lambs have a darkly emotive and fanged assault that never lets up regardless of the speed they play at. In this way they can be compared to any number of modern violent Hardcore bands, as they keep on pushing and pushing with the relentless riffs, to make sure their point is rammed home; be this by straight forward assaults, dirge-fuelled slower sections or angular, atypical melodies. Lambs cover all of the bases.

There’s only three songs here but contained within them is a lot of dark intent and malevolent ambition. As calling cards go this is up there with the best of the style and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Play at full volume.

Fluisteraars – Luwte (Review)

FluisteraarsFluisteraars are a Black Metal band from the Netherlands and this is their second album.

Fluisteraars forge their windswept Black Metal from a core of the harsh, razor-sharp second-wave sound and build on this with expansive and emotive qualities to produce the Atmospheric Black Metal that we have on Luwte.

As noted above; their approach to lengthy Atmospheric Black Metal is a sharper and more dangerous proposition than most. Luwte shares more in common with the darker, more epic side of Burzum and Darkthrone than it does with Atmospheric Black Metal bands that incorporate Progressive and Post-Black Metal sounds into their music.

Icy, Blackened riffs tear out from the music like a blizzard, but this harshness is restrained by more melodic passages. These sections still have an affinity with the biting frost, but it’s a more insidious, creeping cold, and all the more deadly for it.

The music has a tendency to blow like a storm, interrupted by moments of calmer beauty that are still dark and foreboding, warning of what’s to come. The songs are punctuated violently by howling screams, although these are relatively few and far between, with the music remaining the focal point of the band.

Fluisteraars have created a deeply engaging album with Luwte. Rather than relying on keyboards, additional instruments or elements of different sub-genres, it’s nice to see Atmospheric Black Metal that takes its cues from the original, raw, frozen style.

Highly recommended.

Crimson Sun – Towards the Light (Review)

Crimson SunCrimson Sun are a Finnish Heavy Metal band and this is their début album.

This is Modern Melodic Metal with a nice heavy sound and added keyboards. An Electronica influence is included to add flavour to the sound, as well as a few Djent-isms here and there.

The songs are catchy and full of hooks and memorable melodies. A band like this is all about the songs and Crimson Sun have some good ones here. Psuedo-Classical and Electronica-tinged keyboards add another layer to the songs and there’s a lot of meat here to get your teeth into. There’s even the odd guitar solo, which I always appreciate.

In addition to these elements though the band also need a good singer to pull everything off. Thankfully they seem to have found one; her voice is a nice combination of the powerful and the melodic, adding a formidable presence to the songs.

I like that there’s actually a bit of bite and substance to the guitars, as frequently in these kind of bands they tend to play second fiddle to the vocals so much that they almost become afterthoughts. In this way, Crimson Sun remind me of Jaded Star; both bands have a decent guitar presence and both sound like real bands and not some commercially fabricated female-fronted hit machine, or something.

Having said that though, it’s not as if any number of these songs couldn’t be a hit. With the right exposure, the right video, etc.; Crimson Sun clearly have what it takes to succeed.

Melodic Metal played well, written well and performed well. Unless you’re allergic to the style then there’s nothing to not like. Towards the Light is a strong album full of strong songs.

Tor Marrock – Destroy the Soul (Review)

Tor MarrockTor Marrock are a Gothic Metal band from Wales. This is their second album.

Tor Marrock play Gothic Metal with a plethora of different influences; Black, Death and Doom Metal are all represented to various degrees. The tracks are an interesting combination of these influences and make the band quite hard to pigeonhole in some ways.

For reference points I’d say an unholy mix of Type O Negative, Celtic Frost, Paradise Lost and Moonspell. Essentially it’s an Old-School Peaceville sound updated with a few different elements from some of the aforementioned bands and genres.

The songs are quite catchy and are quite accomplished in the verse/chorus technique. You could almost sing along, if you fancied trying to keep up with the usually gruff tones of the vocalist.

Some of the songs are quite upbeat while others take a slower, more maudlin route. I find I slightly prefer the latter, although the former is almost as good. Songs like Christ Betrayed have the best of both worlds, making this track one of my favourites.

The songs are stripped back and simplified; it’s easy for Gothic Metal bands to pile on the keyboards and other sounds/effects for quite an ostentatious sound, but Tor Marrock have gone for a basic and raw sound, (relatively speaking), making the most of the standard instruments to colour their emotive palette.

Tor Marrock are doing something a bit different with their take on Metal and this relatively short album, (36 minutes), is an individual and charismatic take on the genre.

Serpentine Creation – The Fiery Winds of Armageddon (Review)

Serpentine CreationSerpentine Creation are a Bulgarian Black Metal band. This is their second album.

This is some good old-fashion Satanic Black Metal with lots of darkness and some Classical overtones in their choice of malevolent riffs.

It’s multi-paced, razor-sharp and infused with a Blackened melodicism that cuts like a knife. They also incorporate a few non-orthodox riffs and ideas into the mix, which gives them an added dimension of interest. Serpentine Creation are firmly rooted in the Old-School but are looking towards the future at the same time.

The Fiery Winds of Armageddon is a solid album of Black Metal that features decent songs and surprisingly catchy melodies and hooks. This is one of those bands that I’d hesitate to call Melodic Black Metal; it’s more that they play Black Metal that features melody. As I’ve said before, it’s a subtle distinction but a distinction nonetheless. Although, having said that, this is closer to Melodic Black Metal than some of the other bands I’ve said that about, so I guess it’s all subjective really.

The album boasts a solid sound and everything is clear and crisp without being overly so and ruining the Blackened mood.

Screamed vocals are the main order of business, although the singer is not above varying this on occasion. He does his job well and screams out his invective with ease.

The guitars as a real highlight of this release, partly for the melodies, partly for the Blackened auras they create and partly because of the riffs themselves. Serpentine Creation really seem to be on point here with their writing and I love how they can change from fast, serrated riffs to chunkier, spikier riffs in short spaces of time.

Leads and solos are common and well performed. They add spice to an already tasty meal and it all adds up to an album of really pleasurable Black Metal. Sure, there’s nothing particularly innovative or new here, but who cares? The amount of bands that play innovative or new types of music is vanishingly small compared with what’s out there, and I for one have thoroughly enjoyed The Fiery Winds of Armageddon.

Check them out for yourself and see if you can feel the heat from their apocalyptic winds.

Tentation – Tentation (Review)

TentationThis is the début EP from French Heavy Metal band Tentation.

This is Classic Heavy Metal played in a 1980s style. Early Iron Maiden is an obvious reference point, and it’s good to hear that there are still bands playing this style.

The singer has a good voice and has no trouble with the material. The lyrics are sung in French, which adds a different aspect to their sound than is the norm.

The songs are well-written and feature plenty of melodies and memorable parts. This is an upbeat, energetic band that are obviously playing this music for the love of it, and this comes across in the songs.

The guitars have a certain relentless quality to them. Not in the way that the word “relentless” is usually applied to Extreme Metal, but in the sense that they constantly seem to be moving at, or close to, a gallop and pushing the music forward all of the time; no rest is allowed in Tentation’s world, only more headbanging!

As début EPs go, this is pretty solid. Six songs, (one of which is a cover of a band called H-Bomb), in 24 minutes. A decent recording, including a nice, punchy, analogue drum sound, means that the band get the chance to shine and the EP is an enjoyable throwback to an earlier, simpler time in Metal.

Try them out.

Subterror – Antropomortum (Review)

SubterrorThis is the first EP from Brazilian Death Metal band Subterror.

Subterror play ugly, primitive Death Metal with elements of Grindcore/Crust.

This is raging and brutal music straight from the underground that tears through the 24 minutes on offer here like a frenzied animal looking for meat. There’s a primordial Metal power to Subterror’s vicious assault and they channel this with shotgun precision so that everyone knows not to mess with them.

This is not all speed and bluster though; Antropomortum is more like a rabid, Crusty Bolt Thrower/Jungle Rot than it is some easily-dismissed blastfest. Sure, the band can ramp up the speed when they need to, but they have a very good line in rolling, mid-paced destruction as well.

The singer has a throaty growl that is just as rough as the music. With the dirty production of the songs his voice fits perfectly and much satisfaction is gained from his efforts.

There’s a Punky energy that drives these songs forward, and Antropomortum is a very pleasing listen.

Filth and fury.

Esotherisst – Voyage (Review)

EsotherisstEsotherisst are a Progressive Metal band from Poland. This is their début release.

Esotherisst’s Progressive Metal is polished and has a modern sound and production.

You Have Never is the first song. It’s the shortest of the three and it has a kind of Threshold-style, although this is mainly in the music rather than the vocals. The guitars are rhythmic and solid, with the leads and melodies used to add colour to this strong base. The singer has a good voice; it’s relatively low in the mix and used in an understated way throughout.

The second song is How to Fly and this is the longest track here at 6 minutes in length. This has more of an epic feel than the first one, with stronger keyboard backing and reminds me of Kamelot in some ways, although a more restrained, Progressive version and still tinged with a Threshold feel. Frenetic guitars and hyperactive keyboards are the centrepieces of this track and really drive home the Progressive tendencies of the band, like the 70s have been dragged into the modern day. This is bookended by lighter, more relaxed sections where the singer really comes into his own.

The final song is In Winter’s Arms. This continues the feel of the second track with an epic introduction and then a lighter verse, (although without the extended Progressive workout in the middle that the second song boasted). This is a theme developed throughout the 5 minutes playing time, ending on a softer note to finish.

The weakest link for me in this is the singer, although that sounds worse than it is. It’s not that he has a bad voice, quite the contrary in fact; I just feel he is slightly lacking in confidence and needs to develop a little more presence and force in his delivery. This is not insurmountable though and he has the necessary attributes for success, they just need to be brought to the fore a bit more. This is only a minor quibble though, and might actually be less about the singer himself and more due to the recording – the music has such a strong production that he can sometimes sound overshadowed.

Overall, Esotherisst have impressed me with this release. With a few tweaks to the songwriting and vocal delivery their début album should be an extremely strong release if this is any indicator.

Give them a listen.