2005    CRITICAL UPDATE #3

Its only mid-April, a day past tax time, and once again I have another update with a ton releases, many of which are incredibly good.  This is been a very good time for Metal.

 

BALATONIZER  “Occlused in Ottusity”  (32 tracks.  25:24).  THIS DARK REIGN.

Rating:  7.   Country of origin:  Italy.         Release date:  ??

          Perhaps you could say these guys are a looney version of Cryptopsy meets Mortician.  They are mega-brutal death with extremely short songs and comic artwork (except for on the disc itself, which is pornographic and unnecessary).  The music is quite good and catchy, and if you don’t pay attention, you will not really notice the transition between songs. 

 

DARK MOOR  “Dark Moor”  (10 tracks.  44:11).  ARISE.

Rating  .  Country of origin:  Spain.    Release date:  March.

          Sounding like a cross between Italy’s finest, Rhapsody, and Germany’s finest neo-classical bands (take your pick), Dark Moor has produced another high quality album.  This is, Minus a guitarist and featuring a new bassist (Daniel Fernandez), Dark Moor’s self-titled CD does not seem to be missing anything.  All the expected elements are there and as clear as ever:  snappy guitar riffs and fiery solos, baroque-ish keyboards, and singable choruses.  I especially like “Green Eyes,” which is a beautiful ballad.  Unfortunately for me, since I have the promo CD, it is cut off before the finish, as are four other songs. 

 

DEBRIS INC.  “Debris Inc.”  (17 tracks.  49:08).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  4.   Country of origin:  USA.   Release date:  April 5.

          I was immediately interested in Debris Inc. when I learned that a former member of Trouble (Ron Holzner) helped form this band.  Unfortunately for me, this music is too fuzzy, too stoner for my taste.  Lots of people love it, and many people are hyping this band, so keep that in mind.  But as for me, it didn’t tickle my fancy.  It’s obvious that the band is going for humor in their song titles:  “Too Many Mushrooms on My Pizza,” “You’re the Reason I’m Medicated” and such.  And many of the songs are less than a minute long.  Not my cup of tea.

 

DOOMTREE  “Down Below” (10 tracks.  28:37).  LONG LIVE CRIME RECORDS.

Rating:  7.5.         Country of origin:  USA .  Release date:  ??

          Though they are called “Doomtree”, there is nothing doomy about this band.  They are a cross between rock and punk and easily bring to mind Rollins Band and Danzig comparisons.  But I don’t know much about this genre, so don’t quote me on that.  Anyway, the band contains Steve Zing, formerly of punk legends Samhain and Son of Sam.  Other members of the band include Steve Falco and Ronnie Borje on guitars, Danno on bass, and John Caton on drums.  In terms of this kind of music, Doomtree are professionals; well-rehearsed and confident.  On top of that, they have interesting lyrics. 

 

DOMAIN  “Last Days of Utopia” (11 tracks.  51:37).  Limp Music Products.

Rating:  9.   Country of origin:  Germany.    Release date:  March 22.

          Last year’s Aina was a real treat for me.  Domain’s Last Days of Utopia seems to me to be a candidate for Aina’s successor.  Though not a supergroup like Aina, I do believe Domain shares a few members with that illustrious collaboration.  But more important, The Last Days of Utopia shares the same creative spirit and musical virtuosity of said supergroup.  Take Human Fortress (especially in the vocalist department), add some Rhapsody, throw in some Blind Guardian and Iron Savior, and you have Domain.  In a phrase, first rate.  Or to put it another way, Domain have a lush, polished, and very theatrical sound.  The songs are played with expert musicianship, and it sounds like they have really got a good combination of members.  They know how to play power metal, and they play one or two excellent power ballads as well.  Formerly known as Kingdom, Domain are set to rule in my opinion.

 

DUNGEON  “One Step Beyond”  (10 tracks. ).  LIMB MUSIC PRODUCTS.

Rating:  8.   Country of origin:  Germany.    Release date:  March 22.

          It seemed to me that back in the 1980’s every day I walked into a music store there was a new pop/glam metal LP to buy.  That’s how I feel about LMP, every time I turn around they have another classic/power metal band for us to hear.  Dungeon is another example of young talent recognized and signed by LMP.  They have lots of talent and some really catchy tunes, but they haven’t necessarily done anything here to distinguish themselves from a dozen other similar bands.  So “originality” isn’t one of the choice terms here, though “quality” is.  You know what to expect.  This is one of those albums that every classic/power metal enthusiast will want to get and add to their collection.

 

GREEN CARNATION  “The Quiet Offspring”  (11 tracks. 55:09).  SEASON OF MIST/THE END.

Rating:  8.5.         Country of origin:  Norway.      Release date:  March 22.

          I can tell you right now that this review is not very objective.  Since getting into the band’s second album, Light of Day, Day of Darkness a couple of years ago, and last year’s Blessing in Disguise, this band can do no wrong in my opinion.  I am in awe of their talent.  I even knew that before this CD arrived that it would get a high rating.  So you can imagine my agony when I was informed that the promo for this new album was sent out on March 8 but did not arrive until March 18th!  I thought I would have a cow.  But now it is safely here and all is well!

          The change from Blessing in Disguise to The Quiet Offspring is not tremendous.  It seems that this band has hit a groove and are going with it.   So if the dramatic change from Light of Day … to Blessing in Disguise seemed like quite a leap, and you were wondering if the band would take another leap with this new album, you need not expect that this time.  This isn’t to suggest that the band has remained static however.  One thing you will notice on this album is how GC are beginning to take on diverse elements similar to Savatage and Katatonia.  This seems quite natural to me given their musical talent style.  The opening song, “The Quiet Offspring,” very quickly calls to mind Savatage’s Poets and Madmen album.  But more often, there is a somber, moody, and very understated sound which calls recent Katatonia to mind.  But if you remember Blessing in Disguise, you will know that melancholy is not a new sound for them, only here it has become more prominent like in Katatonia.  Green Carnation are an immensely talented band, and they have proven it once again here.

 

HAVOCHATE  “Cycle of Pain”  (11 tracks. 44:26).  INDECENT MEDIA.

Rating:  9.5.         Country of origin:  USA.   Release date:  available now.

          New York’s Havochate returns with their sophomore effort, a blistering slab of metal which is something of a blend of thrash, death, and classic metal, all with a ram-it-down-your-throat thrashcore vibe.  But let me tell you, this album is very special.  The word “transcendent” comes to mind. 

To begin with, vocalist Tim Bouchee reminds me of Russ Anderson of Forbidden.  He is, as far as I can tell, one of the few vocalists I have heard who has a brutal death growl and a Rob Halford classic metal growl.  His clean vocals are also great.  His versatility is a real asset to this band.  And if he also wrote these thoughtful lyrics, he is doubly an asset to this band.

Musically, this band is heavier than your mama.  Guitarist/producer Freddy Ordine and company have created here some really powerful stuff.  It is heavy, extreme, and powerful on the one hand, and very emotional on the other.  At first blush Havochate comes across as New England thrashcore, and this may well be their genre, but comparisons to early Testament and Forbidden are also appropriate.  No doubt fans of Shadow’s Fall, God Forbid, and Lamb of God will find plenty here to latch on to, but so will the “thrash traditionalists”.   

Every now and then a CD comes along that I feel is special, and this is one of them.  Apparently Indecent Media does to because they have signed the band and made them a top priority.  I expect to hear much more about them in the near future.

 

KREATOR  “Enemy of God”  (12 tracks.  55:50).  SPV.

Rating:  9.   Country of origin:  Germany .   Release date:  available now

          It does me good to get a new Kreator album and find it as satisfying as this latest.  Once again I revel in Kreator’s ability to stick to their guns and yet remain relevant.  I can’t say that there are any surprises or unexpected turns on this album, and after all these years, with just a few exceptions (like Endorama), Kreator has been doing basically the same thing.  And this is just fine with me.  I loved Violent Revolution and I love this one just as much as Extreme Aggression, my first favorite Kreator album.  And frankly, there some good, old-fashioned German thrash riffs on this album. 

 

KRYOBURN  “Enigmatic Existence”  (11 tracks.  50:43).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  8.   Country of origin:  USA .   Release date:  April 5.

          Kryoburn is, in my opinion, New Mexico’s answer to New England Thrashcore.  The early impressions one gets from this CD is a band in the neighborhood of Lamb of God, but leaning a bit more towards the “thrash” side than to the “core” side.  But there are some very unique elements to this band, though:  real melodic singing in places and industrial sounds for effect.  (In conversation, Criticalnate mentioned In Flames, which I can agree with in non-direct way).  Kryoburn are, then, a multi-dimensional band with the rare ability to diversify their portfolio without compromising their essentially heavy foundation.  They have finessed their harsher material with some rather reflective sounding parts, even some occasional Garm-like (Ulver/Arcuturus) vocals.  In other words, this CD is not just one quick burst of pure aggression, though it has plenty of that.  And notice, too, that this album is longer than your traditional thrashcore record.  Eddie Garcia of Pissing Razors took a liking to them and produced this album.  I think they have a little room for growth, but overall they sound great. 

 

MAUDLINASH  “Patina”  (4 tracks.  16:52).  Demo

Rating:  8.   Country of origin:  USA. Release date:  available now.

          So I was at the Ecryptus/Single Bullet Theory/Beyond the Embrace/Into Eternity/Amorphis show at the Masquerade—an excellent show, btw—when I run into someone passing out flyers for this band playing downstairs called Maudlinash.  I found out that they are a local band that describes themselves as “dark melodic rock” and claim inspiration from bands like Sentenced and other northern European bands.  So I figured I should check them out and I’m glad I did.

          I really enjoyed their live show but did not have time to hang around with the other bands playing upstairs.  Of course when you see a band live you don’t always know how they will translate to CD.  But the band gave me a disc and I brought it home and listened to it the next day.  My opinion is that the disc is an accurate representation of the band.  One of the members’ wives told me that the band also does cover tunes at local restaurants to supplement their income, but I’d say it also keeps this band sharp and in practice.  You can tell these guys play a lot together.  This doesn’t mean that this demo is pristine, but it is definitely close. 

          Maudlinash’s sound is like they say, “dark melodic rock”.  I would describe them as a cross between Green Carnation and Nevermore, more on the GC side.  They would be ideal on tour with said bands, or with Amorphis and other “metal for grown-ups” type bands.  The quality of this demo is very, very high.  If it were to have a label name attached to it you might think it an E.P. rather than a demo.  But I imagine that if this band did have a label, which would mean more money and studio time, they would sound even better.  Check them out at www maudlinash com.

 

NOVACT  “Tales From the Soul (To Those Who Understand)” (10 tracks.  52:10). SENSORY.

Rating:  10.  Country of origin:  Germany.  Release date: ??

          Several years ago Canada Dry ginger ale had a very clever slogan.  It was something like, “for the grown-up thirst.”  What it implied is that colas are for kids, but adults prefer something more sophisticated.  This is what I think of when I listen to Novact.  I can imagine a lot of bushy-haired, baggy jeans wearing, nu-metal types not appreciated the maturity of this CD.  But I, as a crusty old man, love this album.  It is definitely for the grown up taste.  Just look at the album title alone.  It suggests maturity.

          Being on the Sensory sub-label (of The Laser’s Edge), you can expect that Novact is some sort of progressive/power metal band.  But I also find that bands on this label tend to be serious-minded and lyrically deep.  As you can imagine, this is certainly the case here.  But Novact has the added benefit of being very interesting and compelling as well.  Not quite as heavy as Into Eternity, they are, in my opinion, of the same high caliber.  Not only does the music grab you, but so do the lyrics.  I would describe them as a “socio-religious critique.”  As I listen to this album I am reminded of groups like Wolverine, but also Into Eternity, and Kings X.  And especially of interest is vocalist Eddy Borremans.  He has so much passion and soul in his delivery that I at first thought he was black (the picture in the insert proves otherwise).  And as the band’s lyricist with songs like “Sharply Condemned,” “So Help Me God,” and “Nothing to Fight For,” he is obviously a deep thinker.

          The bottom line is that this is a very exciting, emotional, interesting, passionate, and compelling CD.  It has sidetracked me a bit, keeping me from writing other reviews because I cannot get away from it.  And after all those listens, I cannot find fault with it.  It gets a 10.

 

PROJECT:  FAILING FLESH  (10 tracks.  40:37).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  8.5.  Country of origin:  USA.  Release date: .

          PFF is a very solid death metal band with atmospheric elements.  There seem to be three disparate elements that come together on this album.  One is the heavy duty, old Sepultura-like death metal riffs which could crush granite into talcum powder.  Second are the very atmospheric keyboards which give the music a more ethereal flavor.  And third are the hardcore vocals.  This may or may not sound like a harmonious combination, but they are in fact.  There is a sort of classic thrash feel to the album reminiscent of Nuclear Assault, Kreator, Meshuggah (more-or-less), and Sepultura, if you can imagine these bands with pipe organ keyboards and some occasional industrial chirps and whistles.   No doubt there is some Circle of Dust/Celldweller influence here—especially, I imagine, for Kevin 131, who also worked with a similar type band called Aleixa.  I would like to know about their lyrics, because they seem rather interesting.  What little I can pick up seems very well-written and intelligent.

 

RIVERSIDE  “Out of Myself”  (9 tracks.  53:18).  THE LASER’S EDGE.

Rating:  7.5.  Country of origin:  Poland.  Release date: ??

          Fans of Opeth’s Damnation album pay attention.  Riverside’s Out of Myself is a very close cousin.  This is not to say that it sounds exactly like Opeth, because it varies.  But their overall atmosphere is a jazzy, occasionally clean/acoustic metal, and conscious imitation is not out of the question.  Riverside at their heaviest are not as heavy as Opeth, and definitely not death metal.  So while their heavier moments are not as heavy as Opeth is generally, their heavier parts are stronger than anything on Damnation.  Others may be inclined to compare this group to those bands that oscillate between prog.-rock and metal.  I’m not expert in this area by any means, but Karmakanic and Trans-Atlantic come to mind.  You might also think of them as a prog.-metal version of Dire Straits.

 

SEVERE TORTURE  “Bloodletting”  (15 tracks.  50:39).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  6.   Country of origin:  The Netherlands.  Release date:  3/22/05.

          This is a live and best of album by the “Army of Darkness” of Grind Core bands.  The recording quality is phenomenal, and a lot of the audience noise and such have been eliminated.  It took me a while to realize that this is actually a live album.  If you are into extreme grind/death, you can not do any better.  Cannible Corpse and Mortician fans who do not know this band will be very glad to discover them.  Even I, who find the previous two bands a bit tedious, think that Severe Torchure is very listenable.  They are much more death metal in that they have 2.5 minute songs rather than 8 second songs!  And their musicianship is there.  On the downside, the flat snare drum is a bit too monotonous in the mix, and the vocals are a little too grind for my taste. 

 

SLUMBER  “Fallout”  (7 tracks).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  7.   Country of origin:  Sweden.      Release date:  March 8.

          I really wanted to like this band more than I actually wound up liking them.  The music is really interesting, kind of a progressive doom, but I simply cannot reconcile the music to the vocals.  The vocals themselves, also good in some contexts, just get lost in the music somewhere.  I listened to this in my discman and my car, and the effect was the same:  after a while the music faded into the background, I forgot I was listening to it.  Now this is not meant to sound overly critical.  I think the music is interesting, but the raspy vocals give it the wrong effect in my opinion.  I think clean, passionate vocals would prevent this lulling effect.  A male baritone, female alto or soprano would do the trick.  In fact, Slumber sound a bit like Tristania and Sins of Thy Beloved, two bands I really like.  This is just my opinion and I expect that there are not a few who will disagree and say they really like this album a lot.  Perhaps repeated listens will improve my opinion.

 

THINE EYES BLEED  “In the Wake of Separation” (9 tracks.  36:24).  THE END RECORDS.

Rating:  8.5.         Country of origin:  Canada.       Release date:  April 26.

          I found this to be a refreshingly different take on a familiar style.  In my view Thine Eyes Bleed are another band taking up the mantle of the currently ascendant thrashcore sound made popular by Shadow’s Fall and Lamb of God.  Only this band puts more of the thrash in there and immediately brings to mind the almighty Carcass and fellow Canadians, Quo Vadis.  Production is tight and riffs are downright killer.  Best of all, every song flat out kills.  Among others, TEB features former Kittie touring guitarist Jeff Phillips and Johnny Araya (brother of Tom in Slayer) on bass.  While this CD will certainly appeal to the younger generation of up-and-coming thrashers, it also pleases we old timers.  Rock on!

 

VICIOUS ART  “Fire Falls and the Waiting Waters”  (10 tracks.  43:32).  CANDLELIGHT USA.

Rating:  8.   Country of origin:  Sweden.      Release date:  March 8.

          Featuring ex-members of Dark Funeral, Entombed and Grave, Vicious Art is exactly what you would hope for:  a good old fashioned, Swedish death metal butt kicking.  Vocalist Jocke Widfeldt and guitarist Tobbe Sillman pulled in ex-Dark Funeral guitarist Matti Makela and drummer Robert Lundin, and recruited Entomed/Grave/The Project Hate bassist, Jorgen Sandstrom to form this violent, straight-forward death unit.  There are no surprises here, and no attempts at diverging from the Swedish formula, but what you have here is rock solid.  Fans of the above mentioned bands as well as bands like Carnal Forge and Kataklysm, and so on will definitely appreciate this band.

 

WHITE WILLOW  “Storm Season”  (7 tracks.  47:27).  THE LASER’S EDGE.

Rating:  9.   Country of origin:  Norway.      Release date:  ??

          This is one of those CD’s that you don’t get at first, but when you do, you love it.  White Willow sounds like The Gathering playing Katatonia with touches of Lacuna Coil and Amorphis; they create a dreamy, surreal atmosphere.  You get the impression that the lyrics tell some sort of ghost story.  It is very creepy, though there is an occasional “lighter moment.”  I think it would make an awesome soundtrack to The Ring or some other Koji Suzuki story.  Storm Season is not a heavy, heavy record.  But the atmosphere is incredible.  And what an entourage:  three vocalists and about seven musicians who play multiple instruments.  No doubt some of them are guest musicians.  Don’t listen to it in a dark room unless you are brave.

 

NEWS

 

“DENEB, a band from Poland which plays a mixture of the black and death metal has just recorded their premiere album entitled "A Path Without Destination". You can download three compositions in mp3 format from their website (www.deneb.metal.pl). The cost of the (self-released CDR) album is 5€ (euro) for Europe and 5$ for the rest of the world (p&p included). The band is still looking for a Record Label that would be interested in releasing this material. With unholy regards leon/DENEB”

 

 

Polish horde IPERYT has just finished its first assault called "Particular Hatred".  This EP consists of four massive nihilist hymns which can be only described as dehumanized terror metal where raw oldschool meets speedcore beats and cadaverous venom of lyrics in its particular way.  "Particular Hatred" was recorded and mixed during january/february of 2005 in the pits of hell.  IPERYT is now looking for suitable label to cooperate with. The Band will also appear on two live warfares in Poland this April.  You can find more (mp3, photos, frontline news) on IPERYT's official website: http://www.iperyt.pl  If you have any questions please contact us: hellhound@iperyt.pl

 

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