Ars Moriendi – La Singulière Noirceur D’Un Astre (Review)

Ars MoriendiArs Moriendi are from France and this is their third album of Black Metal.

This is atmospheric and creative Black Metal that makes a left-of-centre entrance under the guise of some form of slinky lounge lizard whilst retaining a core of darkness so you know you actually are playing the right album.

When the Black Metal truly kicks in though it’s noticeable and memorable. Propelled by interesting riffs and subtle but meaningful effects the music is stimulating and diverse.

The vocals are Black Metal croaks that have some personality to them and the singer appears to have a good range to his voice rather than staying too monotone.

Long songs allow for plenty of variation around the central theme and the band allow themselves the luxury of exploring and developing the soundscapes they create.

Progressive Metal elements make appearances here and there, adding character to the songs and increasing the listener’s depth of appreciation for the tracks.

The production is low-key and surprisingly warm and organic for a Black Metal release. The adds another facet to the album and the songs are very easy to listen to and enjoy; the music is warmly absorbed like a fine wine.

This is a quality release from a band who are likely to be overlooked by many. Don’t make this mistake – give Ars Moriendi your full attention.

Of Spire & Throne – Toll of the Wound (Review)

Of Spire & ThroneOf Spire & Throne are form the UK and this is their latest EP.

Looking for some dirty, colossally heavy Doom? Then you’ve come to the right place. Of Spire & Throne have it in spades.

This three track EP clocks in at just over 30 minutes in length and is the latest release in a growing catalogue of quality works from this band. I can only hope they get around to releasing a full album at some point in the near future as I’m sure it will be something special.

The songs here are crushing in scope and monolithic in their oppressive nature. The singer’s vocals only seem to be getting deeper over time and the guitars have never sounded better.

This is slow, uncompromising Doom that won’t be rushed for anyone and can’t be made to clean up its act. Not that we would want it to of course, as Toll of the Wound is covered in just the right amount of filth.

It’s not all about playing slow however, as the band understand and fully utilise dynamics. The build-and-release nature of Post-Metal is here translated into its Doom counterpart with the same effective results.

Like Doom? Like Of Spire & Throne.

Monolithe – Zero/II (Review)

0France’s Monolithe play Doom. And lots of it.

This is a review of two releases, Zero and II, both of which are reissues.

Zero contains one new intro track, as well as the entirety of their Interlude First and Interlude Second EPs. Both have been completely remastered, as well as the two tracks that comprised Interlude Second being combined together into one long song. You can read my original review of Interlude Second here.

II is their second album, containing one 50 minute song, and has also been completely remastered.

So what’s changed? Essentially the sound is a lot fuller, well-rounded and less plastic feeling. The originals had a perfectly fine sound of course, but the songs now sound as if they are clearer, warmer and just plain better. The instruments are in a better place balance-wise and the bass seems more noticeable as well.

IIMonolithe specialise in epic Doom of the long variety, with lots to take in and some space-age effects added into the mix.

Deep, bowel-shaking growls accompany the music and the band create dirge-like soundscapes that accompany the listener on a musical journey through unexpected places and wide vistas of possibilities.

If you’re unfamiliar with Monolithe these are an excellent set of releases to start with.

I heartily recommend both.

Giant of the Mountain – Moon Worship (Review)

Giant of the MountainThis is the latest album from US Blackened Progressive Death Metal band Giant of the Mountain.

Blackened Progressive Death Metal? Sure it’s a bit of a mouthful but it is a more-or-less adequate description of Giant of the Mountain’s music.

Their songs have distinct Progressive tendencies with complex riffs and structures congealing around an exploratory Metal core.

Death Metal serves as the largest percentage of that core, albeit a form of Death Metal that relies on melodics and technicality rather than sheer brutality.

And the Blackened part? This is sprinkled on top of everything really. It’s not as if Black Metal is a massive part of their sound, but it’s definitely a feature and they would sound quite different if this aspect of their music was removed. It’s a quality of some of the riffs, it’s in some of the vocals and it’s apparent in the distinctly non-Death Metal recording.

Couple all of the above with a bit of Sludge and a DIY attitude and you have Moon Worship.

Apart from the Blackened vocals we also get Death Metal grunts and some Viking-esque epic cleans.

The involving songs make the most of their play time with melodies and passages that seem to draw you in before going off on another tangent. These tracks really have been well written and the underground production enhances the feeling of listening to something special. This is a very creative and enjoyable release.

If you combine parts of bands like Enslaved, Opeth, Death, Gorguts and a whole slew of others then you’ll have an idea of the Giant of the Mountain sound. It’s refreshing. My only slight complaint is that even though the production on the album is adequate for the most part and for some instruments, (like the bass), it’s perfectly judged; for me the drum sound is a little weak and timid sounding. This is very subjective of course, (like all things music-based), and it’s not enough to spoil my enjoyment of this album, it’s just that it sounds a little flat to me and for a band that are as good as this I would prefer fuller-sounding drums.

Slight sound issues aside though, this really is the kind of album you want to take your time to get to listen to; absorb and repeat. It’s well worth the time.

As you can see, this is not your average release and certainly stands out from the pack. Get your fill of Giant of the Mountain and get worshipping the moon as soon as you can.

Pyrexia – Feast of Iniquity (Review)

PyrexiaPyrexia are from the US and play Death Metal. This is their fourth album.

The band play Brutal Death Metal which has a Slam/Hardcore/Groove side to it; Suffocation-style USDM gone the way of Kataklysm.

An acid-etched sound with pounding drums and guitars like stone; the band kick up a maelstrom of dust and leave devastation in their wake.

As the album progresses it reminds me strongly of the aforementioned Katakylsm and their combination of blasting and groovier rffing. Pyrexia employ pretty much the same formula and even the vocalist is similar in style; raw growls that are obviously Death Metal but not quite deep enough to be truly extreme.

The short songs and relatively short nature of the album mean it’s over quickly and overall leaves a positive impression.

If you like a bit of heavy groove with your Death Metal then look up Pyrexia and give them a try.

Star Insight – Messera (Review)

Star InsightThis is the début album by Finnish Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal band Star Insight.

First off – I like the album cover. A good start.

This is futuristic Cyber-Metal with Symphonic Black Metal elements in the style of Neurotech, The Kovenant and certain Samael material, and anyone familiar with these bands will immediately have a good idea of what Star Insight sound like.

The band are actually a bit more varied than a lot of this kind of stuff and have a good ear for a song. A lot of these tracks are catchy and filled with hooks and unless you’re completely inured to this style it’s hard not to like them. They have a good Power/Euro Metal influence which gives them an edge over similar bands. Add to this a harsher, Dimmu Borgir-style influence and you have a recipe for quite the enjoyable album.

Vocals are predominately harsh, slightly-deeper-than-the-norm Black Metal vocals. One of the main ways Star Insight differentiate themselves from the aforementioned bands though is through the inclusion of clean and semi-clean vocals, and these are extremely good. The singer has a good range and runs the gamut between these styles. Female vocals also appear on Poem of Misery which sound great and add another aspect to the band’s sound, even if it is for only the one track.

The songs never have a chance to outstay their welcome as only two of them breach the 4 minute mark. Instead, we get focused and catchy songs aimed at maximum enjoyment in minimal time.

The symphonic elements and effects are never overbearing and add to the songs rather than smothering them.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable album that I like way more than I thought I would; the band are more adventurous and varied than I was expecting and this is to their credit.

Give Star Insight some of your time.

Ass to Mouth – Degenerate (Review)

Ass to MouthThis is the second album from Polish Grinders Ass to Mouth.

Just under 31 minutes, 20 songs; you know it’s not going to be pretty. But do we want it any other way? Certainly not.

It’s immediately unsubtle and makes its mission statement known within seconds of the first track.

Angry shouts and sickening screams are spewed forth like vomit, backed up with some good old pignoise for good effect in the background. The vocals are relatively versatile for this kind of release and you certainly can’t accuse them of being monotonous.

The music is Grindcore of the crusty and blastbeat-fueled variety. The songs are short, tight and dirty. Punked up and furiously brutal, they lay waste to their instruments and sound pretty much exactly like I expected them to sound with a name like Ass to Mouth.

Some of the tracks have a good Metallic Hardcore groove to them, adding a different facet to the band which makes the album better than it would be if it was just a one-dimensional blastfest.

This might not be anything new but originality is overrated, sometimes you just need to GRIND!

Also, One Shot Too Far has a cowbell in it. So there.

A solid album that doesn’t outstay its welcome and is a perfectly adequate soundtrack to the crushing of pigeons. Or something.