Júlio Stotz – Dark Ravishing Energy (Review)

Júlio StotzJúlio Stotz is from Brazil and plays piano-heavy instrumental Progressive Metal. This is his second release.

His previous EP was an enjoyable atmospheric blend of Progressive Metal and Djent, and this latest EP carries on where his previous one left off.

Once again we get 4 songs lasting 17 minutes in total. It’s replete with lashings of Classical influences and orchestral moments, all backed up by an ultra-modern take on Progressive Metal.

I have quite a low-tolerance level for this kind of thing by-and-large, but there’s something about Júlio Stotz’s work that makes it quite palatable. I think the fact that it’s so very atmospheric easily raises the Djentisms above their normal levels, plus the fact that the Djent influence is only part of the equation.

This release feels more accomplished and grander than the previous one, and it’s good to hear him progress in his chosen style.

Very enjoyable instrumental Atmospheric Metal that doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Recommended.

Xenosis – Sowing the Seeds of Destruction (Review)

XenosisThis is the second album by Xenosis, a Progressive Death Metal band from the US.

Here we have a thoroughly modern take on Extreme Metal, incorporating state-of-the-art Death Metal, (à la The Faceless), the Progressive and Technical styles, as well as a bit of Djent, Deathcore and Melodic Death/Thrash Metal thrown in for good measure. It’s not as eclectic as it sounds though and it all gels together nicely to produce an album that has a lot going for it.

The combined impact of the above sub-genres is that Sowing the Seeds of Destruction features a lot of actual songs, as opposed to merely essays in technicality/brutality/speed/etc. All of these aspects are here, of course, but they’re all tempered by an overarching aesthetic that largely puts the song first over anything else. As such, this is a surprisingly catchy and memorable release from the off.

The vocals are mainly higher than you might expect, more in-line with the style employed by Carcass than your typical cookie-monster growls. Deeper grunts do appear, but these are less common than their higher counterparts. Clean vocals also make an appearance on one track, with these being delivered somewhere between those of The Faceless and Opeth.

This is a professional package that shows a band coming into their own and injecting their collective personality into the music. The songs are involved and intricate enough to have a lot of content within these 31 minutes and the playing time just flies by far too quickly. Lots of ideas are explored too, with the band thankfully unafraid to express themselves in whatever way they see fit.

I’m very impressed by this and I’m amazed they haven’t been snapped up hungrily by one of the more well-known Extreme Metal labels.

For now though, let’s just enjoy Sowing the Seeds of Destruction and the treasures that it offers.

Tibosity – Bimbocracia (Review)

TibosityTibosity are a Spanish Grind band and this is their second album.

This is ugly Goregrind that favours a big ol’ groovy approach to its carnage, rather than the ultra-fast method.

The vocals are mainly of the sick-sounding pignoise-style that can be so hit and miss at times. Here the singer has just the right amount of grit and roughness to his voice to make it work for me. Higher screams also appear, and these sound knife-thin.

So – groove. As stated. Groove-based Goregrind, although definitely not unheard of, is still fairly uncommon, especially when done in a, (relatively), catchy way as it is on Bimbocracia. Some parts of these songs wouldn’t be out of place on the latest Modern Metal release, apart from the less-polished production and depraved vocals, of course.

Tibosity also have a playful side to them, albeit one that finds joy in fingering the corpses of dead fat people, but you get the idea. It adds a certain appeal and character to the music without descending into the realms of worthless comedy-Grind.

So give Tibosity a listen and see if they tickle your fancy.

Interview with Suppressive Fire

Suppressive Fire Logo

Suppressive Fire’s début album Bedlam ticks all of the right boxes as far as Death/Thrash Metal goes, from the riotous album cover to the gritty, catchy songs. I donned some body armour and stepped into the fray…

Give us a bit of history to Suppressive Fire

Greetings and thanks for talking with us. I’m Joseph Bursey, the guitarist in Suppressive Fire. The band begin with the simple goal of playing fast and aggressive music. I put out a classified ad and was nearly ready to give up until Brandon Smith (drummer) answered my call. We hit it off great, riffs wrote themselves and soon we found our capable bassist/vocalist Aaron Schmidt who was originally going be our second guitarist, the dude shreds, but we decided to move as a 3-piece which has been working great for us.

What are your influences?

Everything fast, dirty, and offensive. I love 70’s rock like old Scorpions, Thin Lizzy, ZZ Top, but I also love some 80’s thrash. I guess the more German thrash bands like Kreator and Sodom are pretty big influences on me. Brandon’s our resident ex-punk made death metal guru. The dude loves all that techy stuff and honestly barely listens to thrash and then we have Aaron who loves doomier stuff and bands like Sleep. We’re all over the place but we’ve come together I think with great dynamics because of it.

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

All Hell – The Red Sect! This is seriously one of the best albums to come out of North Carolina. They’re like a punky blackened thrash and they put on one hell of a live show.

Love the album cover – tell us about this

Thanks! I feel like Par Olofsson caught what we wanted very well. I wanted album art to represent not only the music that was coming, but also some of the story unfolding within. Par illustrated this in a very Mad Max meets modern dystopia type setting wonderfully.

Give us a bit of background to Bedlam – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?

Bedlam is much more than simple chaos. Nearly half of the album kind of follows a theme. Ceasefire starts with government betrayal, The Hellwraith follows our mysterious gas-masked ghoul who’s kind of controlling and steering everything into chaos, Coup d’etat is the uprising of people against the State, Crucify the Kings is the actual execution of all false leaders of our world, and we close with Bedlam, everything that’s left in absolute carnage. There’s a lot of other songs that fill in between that aren’t really tied to it, like Nazi Face Melter that’s pretty much just about Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Thy Flesh Consumed which is the demon’s perspective in the video game Doom. We’re just having a ton of fun and didn’t really aim for a concept album, it’s just that our style really came together and made one on its own.

Suppressive Fire BandHow do you go about writing your songs?

I really just start writing riffs with no real end goal and listen back to them and classify them. Some may sound like good openers, mid-section riffs, verses, choruses, ya know, proper song writing! We come up with riffs either at practice on the fly or I’ll have a great riff come to me and have to hum it into my phone’s recorder because I’m busy driving! There’s no rules here!

How did the recording process go?

Recording went very well. Having had recorded our demo and the ‘Covered in Conflict’ split, we were pretty much ready to reload and attack a full album. Greg Klaiber did an amazing job capturing the sound we wanted. Joel Grind also did an amazing job. We played with his band Toxic Holocaust a few weeks before hand so I was very happy he had a chance to hear us live before mixing and mastering it. The best compliment we’ve gotten so far is simply that our album sounds just like us. No bullshit and straight forward speedy thrashy metal.

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

That’s a tough one! I think I’ll have to go with the title track itself. Bedlam is a song where we threw everything we had at it. Like, 3 more songs could have been written with the riffs invested in it. The song was the most recently written song and definitely shows a lot of progress as we’ve gotten more used to writing together. It’s also really fun to play live!

What’s next for the band?

Unleashing Bedlam on the world! We’ll be hitting the road January/February. ‘Bedlam’ releases on 1/14 and we’re doing a 4-date run that weekend across North and South Carolina, then we’ll be joining Hot Graves for a 9-date tour of Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia. We’ll also be playing with Warbringer, Exmortus and our friends Gorbash in February, 2/21 at the Pour House in Raleigh. We’re returning back North this summer as well! Then I guess more writing. I already have a lot of ideas for album #2.

Windfaerer – Tenebrosum (Review)

WindfaererWindfaerer are a Black metal band from the US. This is their second album.

Windfaerer have a Black Metal base which they build on with Melodic Death Metal and Folk-style influences. Their Folky Black Metal vibes are melodically fluid and have an added bite via their Melodic Death Metal influences.

Sharp and streamline, these songs create atmosphere via a variety of delivery methods; whether that be through fast guitars and relentless drums, dual guitars that are subsumed into the Melodic Death/Black easily, or slower, more evocative sections.

Added to all of this is a violin that speaks of the band’s Folk influences and the overall melancholic atmosphere that Windfaerer foster through the faster sections as well as more reflective, slower parts.

These songs are both familiar and friendly; it’s a joyful listening experience, despite some of the darker atmospheres that infuse the music, and it’s one that’s easy to digest and enjoy. These seven tracks are well-paced and well-judged, delivering just the right amount of diversity to hold the interest while remaining cohesive overall.

Windfaerer have produced a strong album that’s a recommended listen for anyone who likes a bit of Melodic Black/Death Metal with some nicely-played violin.

Yidhra – Cult of Bathory (Review)

YidhraThis is the latest EP from US Doom Metal band Yidhra.

This is Classic/Traditional Doom Metal played with passion and mystique.

The singer has a leaden presence that adds weight and charisma to the band’s delivery; his voice is darker, deeper and thicker than is usually the norm for a lot of bands of this type, and it adds volumes to the music.

The songs are well-written examples of the style that have both a modern and a timeless edge to them. They’re also gritty and earthy without losing a certain lustre.

It’s easy to enjoy these tracks and the 27 minutes on this EP pass quite pleasantly with a companionable and personable flow. The riffs and melodies the band employ are familiar without sounding stale or over-used, and the drums have got a delicious sound to them that makes them very satisfying indeed.

Each of these songs have their own personality and distinctive style, all within the overarching framework of Doom Metal, of course.

Mephorash – 1557 – Rites of Nullification (Review)

MephorashThis is the third album by Swedish Black Metallers Mephorash.

Throughout the four extended tracks on this release Mephorash demonstrate their approach to elite, sophisticated Black Metal art. Theirs is Black Metal that conjures effective atmospheres without neglecting the rest of the music; the band have both heaviness and bite to them when they need it.

Managing to create music that’s both resplendent and uplifting as well as drenched in the occult and mysterious is no mean feat, but this album manages to juxtapose those two aspects of Black Metal quite nicely.

The band fuse the style’s core delivery with influences from Atmospheric/Post-Black Metal to create a contemporary spin on the genre that nonetheless has all of the essential elements in place to produce something both recognisable and special.

Featuring all kinds of additional enhancements, (keyboards, choral singing, guest vocalists), that work well within the music to add layers of depth to it, these songs are strong exemplars of the style of Black Metal that bands like Watain/Deathspell Omega pioneered so well.

There’s a vibrant unlife pulsing through these songs and they bristle with dark energy. It’s a joy to hear and the strong production allows them the space to do what they do unfettered.

Mephorash have created something really impressive with this album and I know I’ll be listening to it and trying to unravel its dark secrets for some time to come.

Interview with Novallo

Novallo Logo

Novallo’s latest EP – Novallo II – is something a little bit different and a breath of fresh air. Let’s dive right in and find out some more about them…

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

Gino Bambino – Guitars, engineering/production
Sam Gitiban – Vocals
Nick Salvatore – Percussion
Brandon Johnson – Bass

Give us a bit of background to Novallo

We’ve all grown up and lived in Columbus, OH for most of our lives. Novallo began in its raw form about 10 years ago, when Gino and Brandon would just jam. Nick joined shortly thereafter (having already been close friends with Brandon), and around ’07 we found Sam through Myspace classifieds. From the onset, there was a desire to transcend our immediate surroundings. This meant dabbling in world music initially. Anything we do is always a little off kilter in some way – and we’re very okay with that; that’s character, redefining a sound, making something new… sometimes you need a mutation to evolve!

3. What are your influences?

Tool
Michael Jackson
A Perfect Circle
Judas Priest
Rob Dougan
Juno Reactor
System of a Down
Stone Temple Pilots
Jane’s Addiction
Nirvana
Soundgarden
Foo Fighters
Portishead
Radiohead
Alice in Chains
Faith No More
Skrillex
Kimbra
Imogen Heap
Rage Against the Machine
Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy VII)
John Williams
Hans Zimmer
Paul Antonio Ortiz
Audioslave

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

Brandon – Jaco Pastorius, Frank Sinatra, & Chimp Spanner
Nick – The Ink Spots, Ella Fitzgerald, & Stone Temple Pilots
Sam – Any Stone Temple Pilots album – in its entirety.
Gino – Kimbra, Marbin and Rage Against the Machine

Novallo 2

Give us a bit of background to Novallo II – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?

Novallo II touches on concepts such as flight/levitation, death/suicide, rebellion, awakening, altered states of consciousness, energy, otherworldly entities, and more. There is a strong sense of immediacy, wherever you look, carrying you from beginning to end. There are extremes, e.g. from small to large – from the cracks in the floor, to a theoretically cyclical Universe, and everything in between. Our favourite artistic inspirations have created worlds where you can just sit, or run, or glide, and absorb your surroundings – we aim to achieve something like this.

How do you go about writing your songs?

As our engineer/producer, Gino often conceives/writes and records the music almost simultaneously (or closely in tandem). The rest of us listen, provide feedback, and go about forming the accompanying percussion, bass, and vocal/lyrical parts – usually on our own time. Everything then gets refined & rearranged more and more, as we familiarize ourselves with the song, its sonic tendencies, and its underlying message/concept. In this way, there are cooperative, live moments of creation, coupled with the undeniable power of individual explorations of each song.

How did the recording process go?

Well, it went on, and on, for awhile! Keep in mind, we are completely self-produced, so if things go wrong (and they always do) we have to pick up the pieces, with only our own resources to pull from. There were many setbacks in that time, from failed hard drives/computers, to (much more importantly) lost loved ones – these were devastating events. In that time, as a whole, we still made giant leaps, from recording capability to finding new sounds and a new direction. All of this was done in the same basement we’ve been marinating in since high school – not necessarily a bad thing… we think.

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

All of us seem to be partial to “Give Gravity a Choice”, which is a very welcome departure from the rowdy sounds we’ve been churning out for years. It recognizes the need for balance, from soft to heavy, light to dark. For these and many other reasons, it just feels more real, in a way… especially considering the conceptual content.

What does the future hold for Novallo?

In writing music, we want to continue the melding of genres, in a way that is interesting, yet powerful and simple. After years, we feel that we’ve finally hit our stride, and found our style – which, as Bruce Lee described best, strives to achieve “the style of no style”. We just want to continue growing, writing well, and honing our skills for live shows – which should echo the vibe of the music as much as possible, i.e. via a dedicated setting/ambiance.

Villainy – Villainy II: Dim (Review)

VillainyVillainy are from the Netherlands and this, (as the name would suggest), is their second album. They play Metal.

Their début album was enjoyable Thrash Metal with a few added elements of styles like Crust, Black Metal and Celtic-Frost-esque Metal to make things more interesting than your average Thrash band. It demonstrated a group who were not content to be mediocre and were striving the be different.

Well, on Villainy II: Dim they’ve progressed even further. This new album is more ambitious than the first and their Thrash Metal core is further enhanced by Doom and Black Metal influences, more so than the first.

The songs have a lot of ideas, depth and real potential for lasting impact. Featuring a surprising amount of variety over the 12 tracks, this is well-written Metal that doesn’t allow the listener’s attention to wane or wander.

Albums like this are a complete package, and by that I mean it’s a very holistic release with every song having its own identity, but still snugly fitting together as a whole.

The charisma and character of the singer has been brought further to the fore, and he sounds more confident and proficient than ever. Backed up by music that’s also more self-assured and expansive, this release is very impressive.

A strong, beefy guitar sound adds to the band’s delivery and the songs sound vibrant and fresh. Even though there’s a definite whiff of the Old-School about Villainy they have managed to produce an album that still sounds contemporary and relevant.

There’s over an hour of music on this release and no filler in sight. It’s always pleasing to see tangible progress in a band’s development and Villainy II: Dim is an impressively realised transition from what they were to what they are now becoming. Only time will tell where this will lead them.

This one’s a must.

Disquiet – The Condemnation (Review)

DisquietThis is the second album from Dutch Melodic Thrash/Death Metal band Disquiet.

Disquiet play a heavy and aggressive brand of Thrash Metal with a nice Death Metal edge to it that means the band keep things dark and intense.

With plenty of jagged riffs and Metal leads, this is an album that it’s easy to feel at home with.

The singer varies his delivery between growls, shouts and what I’ll call almost-sung vocals – they’re almost sung, but not quite. Yeah, yeah, it may not be a very fancy description, but it suffices, and the end result is an added emotive edge to the vocals when there needs to be one without going full-blown into Metalcore-style cleans, for the most part.

I really like the production on this album and the thickness of the guitars. Everything else sounds top-drawer too and overall The Condemnation sounds quite immense.

If this album gets some good exposure I can see it doing very well indeed. It has the right combination of underground brutality and integrity combined with a songwriting skill that should ideally see them reaching a larger audience than a lot of their peers.

Recommended.