Manes – Teeth, Toes And Other Trinkets (Review)

ManesNorwegian band Manes have released this anthology album that collects together alternative versions, unreleased, obscure and live songs.

This is of the Avant-Garde style, replete with dark melodicism and atmosphere. It’s heavy on the electronics and effects, both of which are used skilfully to craft memorable songs and melodies.

Even if these tracks are essentially B-sides, the talent of the band is still apparent. Combined with the soulful, melancholic vocals the tracks portray the same kind of depth and nostalgic feelings as some of the best of 80’s pop/Darkwave music.

Some of the songs are unfinished or works-in-progress, but as a whole the album works surprisingly well and doesn’t sound as disjointed as one might expect from a release of this nature.

A quality band with quality songs; even though they are off-cuts this is an enjoyable collection. This should appeal to more than just completists and also serves to adequately whet the appetite for the next album that this always-evolving band release.

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Barishi – Barishi (Review)

BarishiBarishi play off-centre Progressive Metal that goes down a storm and comes back up a real treat.

This is a rather great album. Unusual but memorable melodies and guitar parts are all over the place, with a meshing of off-kilter tunes and 70’s prog vibes sharing the same space sometimes at the same time. And even some Saxophone.

Barishi are obviously not afraid to experiment or explore and it pays off handsomely. Overall this album has a harsher sound than I was expecting; combined with the eclectic sound that they have it has quite a unique style that is a refreshing change from the norm.

For the most part we get shouted, almost hardcore-style vocals alongside the more occasional cleans that work well together to build atmosphere over the tangential music.

Favourite track: Through Mountains, Through Plains. Just brilliant.

This is the music of a mathematical nightmare come to burn synapses and wreck memories. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes abrasive, never ordinary.

Beckon – Beckon (Review)

BeckonBeckon are a Scottish Metal band and this is their first EP.

A sample starts things off and then we’re straight into the galloping Metal with the singer showing off a very decent bark that has character and flavour. He can also belt out some almost-Power Metal clean vocals when the urge takes him.

The band’s ability to produce speed and aggression are ably demonstrated, as is their willingness to inject some variety into the mix. And guitar solos too, which are always welcome.

This is well-recorded modern Metal played with passion and enthusiasm by a band that wants to impress.

Beckon wear their influences on their sleeve, and in a weaker band this may have held them back; with Beckon though they simply flaunt them as a badge of honour and build on them to produce three good Metal songs that show great things to come for this band in the future.

Preludium – Redemption (Review)

preludiumWe have some Polish Death Metal from this band and they wear their influences on their sleeve; so much so that it’s instantly recognisable as being from the Polish scene even before I knew that this was actually the case. As such we get quality, solid Death Metal with plenty of blasphemy and the occult, all in a mid-to-fast paced assault, depending on the song.

Chances are when you think of Polish Extreme Metal the first name that comes to mind is Behemoth, probably followed by Decapitated, etc. This is more in the Behemoth vein, but that does not mean that they are mere copycats or pretenders to the throne.

Preludium offer the listener a very satisfying experience with the blastbeats coming thick and fast. There are also underlying melodies that are quite subtle so that there is actually more going on in the music than you may otherwise think at first glance. Certainly after repeated listens there are hidden gems to be had.

This album is not 100% pure Death Metal though; there is the odd sneaky Black Metal part here and there. There’s just enough darkness to some of these riffs to earn the title of Blackened Death Metal I think. It’s a welcome addition that allows another facet of their sound to be heard.

This is the bands fourth album so it’s safe to say that they know their trade by now which is why everything here is top quality, confident and assured. This is also a real grower; the more you listen to it the more it gets its meaty claws in you.

Favourite track: The Seven Gates of Hell. Highly enjoyable song, with some excellent leads that turn up the atmospheric dial to 10.

Give Preludium a try.

Lvcifyre – Svn Eater (Review)

LvcifyreThese UK Black Metallers are releasing their second album and I have been quite looking forward to listening to this. I have not been disappointed.

Things start out unexpectedly creepy and slow. Blackened vocals scrape out of the speakers while the music crawls along at a menacing and disturbing pace. Only about halfway through the first song Night Seas Sorcery do proceedings pick up the pace and the vocals become even darker with the music matching this to precision.

For the most part the rest of the album is less Doom-influenced, but Lvcifyre consistently demonstrate a grasp of mood and atmosphere, be this when they drag themselves slowly through the mire or when they propel themselves towards you all fangs and razors.

Vocals are of both the Black and Death Metal varieties, with each style being mastered and used to better emphasise the chaos and confusion the band wish to sow. In fact although I would say this is predominantly a Black Metal album there is a healthy dose of Death Metal going on as well.

Brutal, passionate, otherworldly and hellish – join the Blackened Death Metal elite.

Rusted Brain – High Voltage Thrash (Review)

Rusted BrainRusted Brain. High Voltage Thrash. Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Oh but this is good stuff. A strong Metallica influence, and plenty of speed and aggression make for a thoroughly breakneck, enjoyable experience. The listener is left clinging on for the ride as the band Thrash about with real feeling, intent and conviction.

The songs are fast, the vocals strong, the guitars attack, the solos shred, the drums seemingly endless – this is the stuff proper Thrash is made of!

A short album at only 28 minutes, but this is to be expected. This is their first album, and gives Rusted Brain a solid foundation to build on for the future. I look forward to what comes next!

Relentless – Souls of Charon (Review)

relentlessRelentless are from the US and rather than playing Death Metal or Grind as one might imagine from their name, they actually play a very satisfying brand of Traditional Heavy/Doom Metal.

A well-rounded, organic sound greets you as you start the record. Theirs is the sound of a band playing naturally, rather than being overly sanitised and copy-and-pasted. To put it simply; it sounds good.

The vocals are a relaxed, laid-back female croon that does the job nicely and is a great match with the music. The singer has the kind of voice perfect for telling old Metal stories and sagas. The songs wrap their arms around the vocals and nurture them while nourishing them with hard language and harder liquor.

Sounding as if they would be perfectly at home in a smoky back-room in the back of some far-distant obscure speak-easy; this is a great antidote for the more modern, soulless, clinical music out there. This music has soul and wears it proudly on its leather jacket.

Sol Negro – Dawn of a New Sun (Review)

Sol NegroThis is one Hell of a Death Metal album. Sorry, I mean Black Metal. Oops, I mean Doom Metal. Hang on, I mean Progressive Metal…

Sol Negro have a very curious sound that will have people who enjoy pigeon-holing bands running for the hills in fear. They have aspects of Black, old-school Death and Doom in their sound and yet somehow manage to sound independent of each genre, creating something that effortlessly takes aspects of different sources and melds them together into an album that really is a bit different and a bit damn special. The closest vibe I can think of I suppose is a Celtic Frost-esque one.

The songs have an instant timeless feel to them as if you’ve always known them, yet you can tell that it is not an album to tire of easily. Repeated plays bear this out; there is depth and longevity here. The songs contain straightforward easily-accessible passages, but can quickly turn more progressive and emotive at the drop of a plectrum. No easy feat.

The vocals are accomplished and tread a fine line between Black Metal and old-school Death Metal. The old-school vibe permeates the music as well, with the riffs and bass reminding of Death at points before venturing into more Black/Doom/Prog territory on others. Regardless of what they’re playing and how, the overwhelming feeling is that yes; you are indeed listening to a Metal album through and through, and one to be proud of.

These tracks are even strong enough to stand side-to-side with a Paradise Lost cover, which is performed to a very high standard and sits more than comfortably with the original material. This band know their stuff; just listen to the start of They Came From Darkness for example. Phew!

An extremely top-rate album that I’ll be listening to for some considerable time to come. Do yourself a favour and pick this one up.

Besegra – Infortunium (Review)

BesegraCanada’s Besegra appear to have found the perfect melding of Thrash Metal and Melodic Death Metal. There is a natural overlap between these genres anyway, but Besegra happily operate on the edge of both worlds and bring them together into one compact 29-minute release.

Lots of high-octane melodics and leads punctuate these tracks, and the band capitalise on this energy by throwing everything into their attack and delivery. A strong first release; the songs are well composed and played with talent and skill.

Besegra know how to pepper their sound with solos and lead work without it feeling overwhelming or like a contest. I’m quite partial to a good solo, and there is a woeful lack of it in a lot of bands, so it’s nice to hear.

The vocalist spits his lyrics out like they are too hot to voice, giving the tracks a feeling of, (almost), melodic Black Metal at points. His is a kind of raspy shriek that lashes out over the top of the guitar melodies and double-bass drumming. I feel it was the right choice for this band as more Death-y vocals could have sounded clumsy against the razor-sharp riffing, and a cleaner delivery may have diluted the sound somewhat.

Check out Besegra and see what you think.