Sepultura – Machine Messiah (Review)

SepulturaLegendary Brazilian metal band Sepultura return with their fourteenth album.

On Machine Messiah Sepultura continue their blend of thrash, modern metal, experimental metal and tribal percussion, and they do this in such a way on this release that they sound revitalised, energised and fresh.

The band’s albums are frequently exploratory and tentative in nature, with a mix of straightforward metal tracks and more experimental ones that see them pushing the envelope and trying new things. Continue reading

Brain Tentacles – Brain Tentacles (Review)

Brain TentaclesBrain Tentacles are an experimental/avant-garde/jazz/grind/doom metal band from the US. This is their debut album.

Experimental/avant-garde/jazz/grind/doom metal is a bit of a mouthful, and in all honesty doesn’t even properly do justice to the sounds that this album contains at any rate.

In addition to the usual drums and bass you’ll also find synth, piano and horns on this release. But no guitars. Continue reading

Novallo – Novallo II (Review)

NovalloNovallo are a Progressive Metal band from the US. This is their second EP.

Well, there’s a lot going on here. At only 22 minutes long this features more creativity and ideas than most albums three times the length. This is Experimental Metal featuring elements of the Progressive style as well as Jazz, Funk, Djent and Electronica influences.

This EP is a like a bright, shiny beacon of exciting and interesting music. It’s like the proverbial breath of fresh air. Of course, it won’t be for everyone, (but then again what is?), but these groovy and imaginative tunes certainly can’t be accused of lacking ambition or flair.

The singer’s voice is smooth and slinky, fitting in with the ultra-modern delivery of the music with ease. He’s like a Rock version of Jamiroquai.

Try to imagine a Djent base mixed in with a Progressive edge, Electronica melodies and added Jazz/Funk. Periphery meets Incubus meets Jamiroquai? It’s not far off.

The music is like an unusual version of a Pop hit, only with added guitars. It’s quite rare these days to hear a band doing something so completely their own, but Novallo are doing this more than most others.

Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to freak out to music that doesn’t care what you call it, but just wants you to feel the groove and move.

A hit, to be sure.

Super Massive Black Holes – Calculations of the Ancients (Review)

Super Massive Black HolesCanadian band Super Massive Black Holes play Experimental/Progressive Jazzy Death Metal, and this is their début album.

This is bright and shiny music that’s technical but also slightly whimsical in nature; there’s something of the Devin Townsend about it.

The band manage to mix disparate elements of Devin Townsend, Opeth, Ephel Duath, Gojira and Cephalic Carnage; schizoid jazzy breakdowns, atmospheric interludes, Stoner vibe rockathons, pseudo-Grind workouts and heavy melodic cyber Metal all collide on this album.

The songs are surprisingly cohesive for all this. Sometimes an idea or a section can feel a bit half-formed or unfinished, however, although from the sound of it this could very well be intentional; to keep the listener guessing or to stop them becoming complacent?

The vocals are mainly between a shout and a growl, with the vocalist reminding a little of the singer of Gorod, or even Gojira on occasion, only not quite as emotive.

I like this album, although it definitely needs time to reveal its charms and won’t be to all tastes. Give them a listen and see what you think.

Epistasis – Light Through Dead Glass (Review)

EpistasisEpistasis are a US band that play experimental Metal.

It’s relatively hard to classify; combining elements of Black Metal, Hardcore and Progressive Metal. With a trumpet.

Let me see…if you take the urban decay and atmospheric barrage of a band like Red Harvest, mix in the experimental extremity from some of Converge’s work and add splashes of Ephel Duath you’ll be on the right lines. Add to that a singer who screams with the best of the Black Metal/Scream-core elite and you’ll have a package for a very interesting and gratifying release.

There is a lot going on in these songs and although they have brutality and intensity in spades they also offer a whole lot more than that. When they want to they can be very atmospheric and create darkened moods ripe with promise of arcane fulfilment, if only the price is right of course.

The use of the trumpet is inspired and is nowhere near as intrusive and incongruous as you might expect; its contributions are relatively subtle and work wonders in adding a further layer to their labyrinthine sound.

Unfortunately this release is only 26 minutes long, which is a shame as the band clearly have a lot to offer. However what they do give us as exceptional and worthy of repeat listens.

Individual and distinctive. Highly recommended.

Interview with Barishi

Barishi BandBarishi have recently released their self-titled début album, the review of which you can see here. A harsh, angular, progressive Metal treasure trove; this is an album with a lot to give to those who crave experimentation and music that forges its own path. Their guitarist was nice enough to answer some questions I threw at him…

Hi! For people who are unfamiliar with your band please introduce yourself!

Hi, I am Graham Brooks, I play guitar in Barishi. We are from a town called Jamaica, Vermont. We have been playing together in various forms since high school, about four years ago.

What are your main influences?

My favorite metal band is Iron Maiden, I am also a Beatles nut. We are all big Mastodon and Meshuggah fans. Jon (our bassist) and I are both really influenced by bands like The Cure and MBV. Our singer Sascha is a huge funk fan and also is a Queen and Led Zeppelin fanatic. We draw from a lot of those bands and a lot more that I can’t think of right now.

What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?

I have been listening to “So” by Peter Gabriel. I think it is incredible. I am sure a lot of full-metalists wouldn’t be into it but I think it is a great album. I have been digging on this band called “Anciients” who kill it and a band from chicago called “Yakuza.” I highly recommend both if you are looking for some metal that comes out of left field.

You have an unusual sound that fuses Progressive Metal with more 70’s-style Proggy vibes, all wrapped up in with elements of more modern avant-garde bands such as Ephel Duath, (at least to my ears anyway!), how did you go about deciding on the sound that you wanted as a band?

Barishi BandCool! Honestly we never really talked about what type of sound we wanted to go for. I think we sound the way we do because we never had one of those talks. Some of the songs that we like playing the most came about because someone in the band wrote something that made us say “I don’t know if that would work in a heavy band” and then we would try it and it would sound cool. I think the freedom to do that had a big impact on how we sound.

I love the angular guitar work on this release. How do you write your songs? What’s the process involved?

One of us usually has a riff or something that they will come into practice with and then we will just try to expand on it. We don’t really have any method or go about writing in an organized fashion. Sometimes it can be a shit show because we will be writing 3 different songs that we think sound cool and we will end up abandoning all of them because we get overwhelmed with all the little parts that are floating around.

After seeing the album art and band pictures, your album surprised me slightly as it contains more harsh and more abrasive moments than I was expecting. Was it a conscious decision to embrace the heavier aspects of music just as much as the more mellow/melodic aspects?

I think we just naturally got heavier. We play with a ton of bands who are way heavier than we are and I think some of it rubbed off on us.

With an eclectic and diverse album like this I can imagine possibly having parts of it that were potentially divisive when creating it – where there many discussions in the band about which parts to keep/throw out/change/etc.?

We wrote a lot of stuff that did not end up on the record. Usually when we did not end up using something it was because we just were not digging it that hard. We try to keep the songwriting process as democratic as possible. If someone really does not like a part or song we usually will end up changing or discarding it. Fortunately everyone in the band understands and it doesn’t require a long talk most of the time.

Barishi BandAre you happy with the finished album? Is there anything you would change next time?

I am. We had a lot of fun recording together and I think the album represents what we were doing for the past year. Brian Westbrook who produced the album is an amazing musician and producer. Thanks to Brian the album sounds way better than we ever thought it would. In terms of things I would like to change, I would really like to record an album down-tuned. It adds a really guttural element that I love.

As I said in the review; my favourite track is Through Mountains, Through Plains. It’s brilliant. This is less of a question more of a comment really! This is also the longest song on the album – do you see yourself going for more of the longer, epic-style tracks in the future?

Thanks so much for the kind words. I love writing long songs. I am sure that we will have some longer songs in the future.

What does the future hold for Barishi?

Hopefully a lot of touring. We love playing shows, it is our favorite thing to do. I think all we want is to play as much as possible and keep on recording. Hopefully at some point we will find a label that is a good match.

Thanks for your time Graham!

Code – Augur Nox (Review)

CodeCode are from the UK and they specialise in Progressive Avant-Garde Black Metal that’s a triumph of both style and substance.

A good musical starting point of reference would be bands such as Arcturus, Dødheimsgard and Enslaved, as well as aspects of Opeth or Borknagar. This is only a starting point however, as Code definitely have their own sound as well as masses of talent and songwriting skills.

Gleaming, obsidian riffs crash against each other in a sea of percussive paranoia and nightmare orchestration. It’s as if someone has been having fantastical dreams about a dark future and they have sprung fully-shaped into life in the form of this album.

The vocals criss-cross all over the complex music and create the impression of power, synergy and importance. Very impressive and brilliantly realised.

There is so much colour and depth to these songs that most bands sound one-dimensional by comparison. Multi-layered vocals take centre-point while the music is no slouch either, effortlessly conjuring up the impressions and feelings that these songsmiths wish you to experience as you travel with them on this wild journey.

This truly is an exceptional and individual release; the kind of album that keeps Metal alive and kicking; stops it from becoming stale and stagnant.

Favourite Track: Garden Chancery. Vocal harmonies to die for. But really I could pick almost any song – Augur Nox is that strong.

This is for all fans of Metal, or just for those with heavier Progressive proclivities. If there’s only one album you get in the near future then make sure it’s this.