Independent Metal Bands
Whoa! King Diamond meets Old Man’s Child in an amazing kind of way. Black Metal perfectly blended with Death Metal heaviness, a touch of Doom here and some occasional keyboards. Vocally Mike O’Brien is a match for any black metal vocalist while bassist Zane Matthews does a convincing King D sound alike with his additional vocals. This band is tight, aggressive, and deserve to be picked up by a major label. I won’t say what bands they’ve come from, but I will say that these guys have proven themselves in the past. With songs like “The Suffering has Only Begun,” “Sweet Vixen Sent from Hell,” and “China Doll Syndrome,” these guys eat up your stereo. I’m sorry, I don’t usually get this excited about a release, but I can tell you this, you’ll be hearing more about this group in the future. Get it now!
P.O. Box 626
Marietta, GA 30061 (yeah! So what if they are from Georgia. Norway will be seething with jealousy!)
Unofficial Abwhore Website
As to the music, there are some cool guitar riffs in parts of this cd. I particularly like tracks 2-5, I think they have a lot of promise (track one is so so, track 6 is an outro). The overall sound is Death Metal but there is a lot of atmosphere included. One hears a faint echo of early My Dying Bride and early Tiamat, especially on “Of Blood and Honour”. For the most part the production is a bit muddy and I assume that this is actually a demo—a very professional looking demo at that. I don’t think that “Feeling the Human Tragedy” is the full realization of Atrepsia’s potential, but it shows just that: potential.
WARNING: afer writing this review I looked at their website. There is some disturbing and offensive imagery there. Proceed with caution.
Via Brigata Casale, 55
35170 Gorizia, ITALY
There are few bands that play this style of metal this well. Listening to Aurora Borealis’ “Northern Lights” is a metal lover’s dream. It is a hybrid of fast Death Metal with a very Black Metal feel, a style that the American scene is contributing to the Black/Death style. Immediately combinations like Immortal/Morbid Angel, or Marduk/Carcass come to mind. On the one hand you killer riffs that are memorable, on the other hand you have blinding speed. It is a combination of technicality and crisp production that makes you want to play it again and again. In short, this is one kick-ass CD. If you listen to this disc and are not impressed you are not metal head!
To order, contact Aurora Borealis at: AURORA4DTH@AOL.COM or AURORA BOREALIS.
If the U.S. military had access to this 13 minute, ten second CD, Usama bin Ladin would already have surrendered. Exploding with all the force of ten “Daisy cutter” bombs, Crematorium must be the heaviest band in the United States. These four tracks are some of the most totally devastating brutal death metal to come out of L.A. for some time. If, for instance, the Polish black/death bands sound really angry, this band sounds like they could kick their asses. The first three songs, “Cast the Stone”, “Carved from Deceit”, and “Unlearn” are totally original tracks from this band, while the last track is a mega-heavy cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash” which originally appeared on the Dwell Records tribute to Metallica called “Overload”. The production is very crisp and it shows that in terms of absolutely devastating death metal, Crematorium packs a whollop!
Epicediums Of The Damned (Debut Full Length) $10ppd
A World Where Only Nightmares Prevail (EP) Free, send $1 for postage.
T-Shirts $12, write for sizes and designs.
C/O Dismal Records America
PO Box 6488
N-1634 Gamle Fredrikstad
If an unsigned band were ever ripe for the picking I think ESG may be one. As a matter of fact, from the look and sound of this CD you may actually be fooled into thinking that it is a label release and not a demo. From packaging to production to performance (alliteration is so important to marketing!) ESG demonstrate both a sense of what works and an air of confidence. This may also explain why instead of simply marketing this CD on their own they are making use of the EARSPLIT team, a move which signals a serious effort towards success.
From the artwork, the title, and the look of the band you would expect some slow, bass heavy doom in the vein of old Cathedral. Not so. ESG have a stoner sound. It sounds to me like a light mixture of Danzig, the Cult with a hearty helping of some Meteor City bands like Lowrider, The Mushroom River Band, and Captain Dog. And for that matter, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this band get picked up by a label like Meteor City, Tee Pee, or the like. But until then, there’s no reason to shy away from this demo because like I said, you may actually be fooled into thinking it is a label release.
HERE IS AN INTERVIEW WITH EARTHBOUND SMOKE GHOST. WARNING: I DID NOT EDIT THE LANGUAGE.
CRITICALTOM: Please begin with a short bio on the band.
Dalton: Basically, it started out 3 years ago when I left a sub mediocre hardcore band I was in and needed to find a new project. I was working @ Earache Records w/ Jeff who I knew was a bass player. We began to get together and just jam until one day it really clicked and we began writing some great songs. A year after we convinced Marcos (also an Earache employee at that time) to hop on board because we heard some shit he had written and it was perfect for what we were doing. We had a real fuck up singing for us, and after we started playing shows, people who came out to see us agreed that we should 86 the mother fucker and we did just that. Pheroze (yet another Earache slave) offered to help out on the side but that wasn't good enough since we didn't want to be a side project. He was already 100% involved w/ Scar Culture (formerly Scrape)until he committed to spend equal effort and time on each band. There you have it, E.S.G.
CRITICALTOM: What descriptive words would you use to explain your sound?
Dalton: That's never easy. I tend to think it's more of a retro sound, very earthy yet not exactly stoner or doom. We have a lot of pyschedelic tendencies at times yet at other times we just want to balls out rock out on some bad ass riff rock shit.
Jeff: We play a brand of music based on pure emotion, whether it reflects anger, depression, or pure energy. Every song has its own identity and its own groove. There is no specific sound to an E.S.G song, it can come from anywhere inside of us depending on how we feel at that point in time.
Marcos: It's chock full of riffs, twists, swirls....you name it it's in there.
CRITICALTOM: What influences did each of you bring to the songwriting process?
Dalton: Well, our influences are all over the fucking map, for me I listen to a lot of The Pogues, Acidbath, Danzig, Iron Monkey, Crowbar, & Soundgarden to name a few. I guess, unintentionally, I tend to bring all of those styles into the writing process w/ me.
Jeff: My music collection is huge and it is filled with a huge variety of shit. Most of my influences come from bands like Tool, Mindfunk, Clutch & Into Another, bands that I think have awesome basslines driving their songs. Other music that I listen to ranges from Obituary, Death, Amorphis,Tiamat, Anathema, just to name a few.
Marcos: My fellow ghosts are my influences, I feed off them and vice versa. Wherever it goes it goes and it's always a positive journey.
CRITICALTOM: Did you begin with a formula, or did you just jam until you came to an agreeable style?
Dalton: This is all the product of good old fashioned jamming. We never sat there and asked each other "hmm, what kind of shit should we do? Who do we want to be like?" Fuck that. We did what came natural to us and that is what you get on the CD and what we'll keep doing until the end.
Jeff: The first jam that Dalton and myself had in his basement studio room was terrible, but the next time we jammed it started to come together. We just fell into a groove that we knew was beginning of something. Each new member has only added to the groove until we created the fucking monster you hear on the E.P.
Marcos: Let the notes fall where they may, add a couple of cold ones and an occasional puff here and there and it's begun.
CRITICALTOM: Is the band a democracy or is someone the leader?
Dalton: Because alot of the material was written before Pheroze joined, Jeff, Marcos, and I did the writing pretty much equally, and now w/ the new shit, the same goes for Pheroze. There is no leader, we do everything together, all of us are very involved w/ the writing process.
Jeff: The floor is open to any ideas that are brought to the table. I think what keeps our songs fresh and different is that we have four great writers in the band with a lot of great ideas.
Marcos: Were all in it together, we wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for all of us.
CRITICALTOM: Are there any opportunities you are aware of that will help make you guys famous?
Dalton: One of us could OD and make the rest of band famous, you know? But, no, there aren't any opportunities in front of us right now that would prompt any of us to quit our day jobs.
Jeff: Right now we are just concentrating on writing the best songs that we can and hope the right people are listening.
Marcos: Hey Dalton that's what I was supposed to say! You ripped me off (haha). Seriously though it's all about having fun with your boyees first and foremost and if opportunities arise we will go for it so long as it benefits the 4 of us.
CRITICALTOM: If a contract and a tour came your way today, would ESG be ready to hit the road?
Jeff: If all of the factors fell into the right places and my bills could get paid I don't see why not.
Marcos: Man, I can't fucking wait till the day comes when I tell my stupid fucking boss to shove it up her fat ass!
CRITICALTOM: Are there any causes or issues that you guys particularly discuss in your lyrics? Are you nihilists? Hedonists? Stoics?
Dalton: Nietzche once wrote "There is not enough love and kindness in the world to permit us to give any of it away to imaginary beings." The lyrics deal with the exploration of the mind, finding a path for creative independence. There are so many beliefs out there, both organized and individual, that I don't feel it's true to our human nature to subscribe to any of them. There is a pagan approach to the some of the lyrics, bringing about some ideas of getting more in touch w/ the earth and the human spirit, not man-made idols and gods.
Jeff: Most of the lyrics definitely have references to the earth and the spiritual world, reflecting the different thought patterns that we try to communicate.
CRITICALTOM: What can we expect from the next ESG recording?
Dalton: Alot more diversity, branching out to some ethnic vibes for a lot of the new material. But it will kick your ass and you'll know it was E.S.G.. who did it to you.
Jeff: We are constantly growing and evolving, I know it sounds cliche , but our new songs are fucking mind blowing and I can't wait for people to hear them live.
Marcos: A much more matured band with a lot of shit going on. And as far as the recording process we will me much more involved in the tweaking of knobs and actually controlling the sound that is ESG. That's something that I've always wanted to do so hopefully I'll get that opportunity to do so.
CRITICALTOM: What would you like to say to someone who has never heard you before?
Dalton: If you can appreciate groove brought about in heaviest way we know how, get the CD, come to the shows. Let us know that true music is not dead.
Jeff: If you've ever heard the sound of a camel stomping a man to death as he plays a sitar, you will get the idea of the beautiful sounds you might hear coming from your speakers as an E.S.G song resonates in your ears.
Marcos: You like rock n roll muthafucker? Well this is it right here, Earthbound Smokefucking Ghost style.
Why isn’t this band on a label? This is one of the best Death Metal CD’s I’ve heard all year, and it is an independent release! Let me tell you, Gory Blister is a tight, machine gun drums and guitars Death Metal band with a hint of Morbid Angel crossed with In Flames. Interesting songs, GREAT production, and cool artwork. There are bands on some of the bigger labels that don’t sound this fresh and good. I have found out this year that Italy is a country with a ton of great bands just waiting to be heard here in North America.
E-mail for info: firstname.lastname@example.org
I applaud Grand Lux for their blending of some solid heavy power metal with their faith in Christ. We haven’t seen too many bands like this lately in America, though several European bands come to mind like Narnia and Seventh Avenue. Grand Lux are a threesome from Norway that sound more like Swedish and German Power Metal bands than the black metal ilk Norway is famous for. Those familiar with bands like Sons of Thunder on Christian Liljegen’s (singer of Narnia) label, CL Music will immediately appreciate Grand Lux’s juxtaposition of metal and faith. Their music rocks hard with screaming guitar solos, while their lyrics speak of their faith in Jesus Christ. Their compositions hold up well and exhibit a band with lots of potential. Fans of great music will readily enjoy this righteous platter of hard rock/metal.
Holocaust is back up and running. This demo represents three songs for their upcoming album “Primal”. At this point it is not certain what label will release it, so just be alert for that information later. Anyway, if you own the Metallica “Garage Days Re-Revisited” E.P.—you know, the one that came out on cassette, not disc, and then got pulled?—then you’ve actually heard one of their songs, “The Small Hours”. In other words, on that E.P. where Metallica recorded songs they liked, they recorded one of Holocaust’s songs. I’m not sure, but I think Metallica may have covered other songs of theirs. But I wouldn’t know for sure since my interest in Metallica waned some time ago! Another point of interest here, a recent issue of Metal Maniacs did a multi-page feature on them. So go back and look at that too if you are interested. These two facts, then, should help the fan of older, traditional Heavy Metal before all the sub-genres emerged to take a genuine interest in this band. The demo opens with “Iron Will” which is a plodding barrage of riffs and licks reminiscent of early 80’s Metal while tracks two, “Colossus” has a slightly more melodic sound. The final track is “They Colonize”, a very interesting song. To close, Holocaust are back and you can check them out at www cybercom net/~breadfan/holocaust.html
Rebel’s Mother"Sanctify" (9 tracks. 49:15).
This band follows the trend of several of the more Metal minded Christian bands around today—a handful to be sure! Their music has a sort of pseudo Bay Area sound that is largely influenced by groups like Metallica and Testament crossed with elements of the Texas Christian bands like Atomic Opera, Galactic Cowboys and King’s X. The hybrid is a semi-groovy, semi-thrash sound. Groups like Eternal Decision and the now defunct Jesus Freaks come immediately to mind. In contrast, though, I have to say that Rebel’s Mother’s music is much more interesting than the aforementioned bands. Perhaps this is due to their insistence on sounding like a Metal band. They also make use of some other elements. One great example is the clever use of piano on the songs "Shipwrecker" and "Night" which sound a lot like music from some of the more ethereal bands like Sculptured or Scholomance. RM also make use of an extra percussionist and occasional harmony vocals in the singing. Another clever feature is the bluesy section at the end of the song "You Can’t Bring Me Down". And then there is the progressive epic "Night" to close out the CD. Guitar tone and production on this disc are very clear as is the commitment to creating a genuine Metal album. The overall effect is one of the more satisfying Christian Metal releases to come out of America. Finally, a domestic Christian band I can be proud of (I’m tired of being embarrassed).
Contact: Rebel’s Mother
P.O. Box 546
Lathrop, CA 95330
Metal @ rebelsmother.com
www rebelsmother com
the cd is $12 postage paid
send check or money order
Now here is an American band that could give Dark Tranquility or In Flames a run for their money. Believe me, these guys could easily pass for a Gothenberg band. Tight, crunch-heavy guitars with clean production dominate this CD both with some serious riffage, and lots of melody. The vocals bring occasional flashbacks of At the Gates. And the drummer alternates between some grooving blast beats and some straight-ahead drumming. The bassist also does his part. Perhaps the snowy, mountainous landscape of Colorado inspired these guys like the Scandanavian landscape has done for so many bands of that region, but it just may be that Serberus is just an incredible Metal band shopping for a label. I highly recommend this CD as it sounds crystal clear like it was released by a label and not the band. Even track 5, recorded live, has better production than a lot of professionally produced live albums. I would be really surprised if Serberus isn’t signed soon.
3550 Everette Dr.
Boulder, CO 80303
Send $5 U.S./$7 world for CD
e-mail: email@example.com website: www.serberus.com
Suicide Culture"Hallowed be Thy Agony" (5 tracks. 28:01).
This is a very decent self-released CD. I’m not sure if it is considered demo or not. Overall it has a pretty decent mix. The music is very much Death Metal, but of the older style. I mean that the guitars parts are discernable and the bass is too. The drummer plays drums and doesn’t play a monotony of blast beats. The CD begins with two groove-oriented numbers, "Swarming the Flies" and "God Forbid". The first song especially reminds me of mid-career Mortification. The third song, "Make Believe" is a slower tune. Track four is a Death Metal cover of Celtic Frost’s "Jewel Throne". When I first heard this I didn’t realize what it was because I was driving in my car. Then it dawned on me and I realized that while the music was played really close to the original, SC have made it their own song. Then the CD is closed out with the song, "Bury the Hatchet," a catchy tune somewhat reminiscent of Destruction. Needless to say, there is a great deal of variety within the song structures while maintaining a unified sound. With the renewing interest in more traditional Death Metal bands (e.g., Shadow’s Fall), and the return of groups like Opprobrium (formerly Incubus), it seems that Suicide Culture fits right in. Interestingly, in their liner notes they mention a thanks to all who "aided us in our war against Christianity." Honestly, I didn’t see anything in their lyrics that I would take offense to. But who can blame them for opposing all the false believers out there who are giving Christ a bad name. Like many Heavy Metal bands, Suicide Culture writes lyrics that point out immorality and wrong doing in the world. I assume that’s where they get their name too. To summarize, this CD is a refreshing alternative to the Grindcore influenced Death Metal. It may be that we’ll soon be seeing them with a label deal.
Contact: Suicide Culture
(Josh or Kevin)
P.O. Box 70566
Seattle, WA 98107
e-mail: Suicide Culture @ webtv.net
Since the demise of Stryper the one who founded that band—at least that’s how I remember the story—endeavored to continue on in the music business. I’m talking about Robert Sweet of course. Ironically, Stryper will always be remembered because of his younger brother Michael whose voice, songwriting and guitar playing propelled them to fame. That’s important to know when you listen to Robert Sweet’s latest musical project, eponymously titled, “Robert Sweet”. Everything on this album is Robert except vocals, which are handled by Larry Worley. He plays drums, bass, and guitar. The drumming, obviously, is recognizable as that trademark Robert Sweet drumming from the Stryper days, but that’s where the similarity ends. The music on this CD sounds much more like Titanic, King James, or maybe Guardian. Vocalist Larry Worley does actually sing a lot like Jamie Rowe. Anyway, the music is very gritty, power driven rock. Aside from drumming, Robert really shines as a lyricist. The song titles alone are cool. I love the titles “I’m ?@#$%&!” and “Best Regrets”. But there is more to these songs than just clever titles, the lyrics are thoughtful and honest. “Help Me to Help Myself”, for instance, talks about how we cannot live the life we want until we surrender control to the Lord. “Love Trash” and “Me, Myself, and You” deal with romance, no doubt written to his wife. “The ‘F’ Word” is about forgiveness, and “Any Enemy” is about how we shouldn’t have any enemies. Robert comes full on with this release, and maybe that’s what will make it more successful than any of his previous work with King James, Titanic, and various other groups. We see Robert the musician, the contemplative, and the Christian.
Robert's disc can be found in some outlets. It can be ordered at robertsweet.com. The international number for ordering is: 1-800-888-314-5040
The Christian Metal scene continues to be treated with some excellent Black Metal from Scandinavia. If you are into Crimson Moonlight, Antestor, or Mordecai, let me strongly recommend you buy this CD. The best comparison for Vaakevandring, to me, are to say they sound like a cross between Extol and Crimson Moonlight. First of all, you’ll notice some very tight, melodic, extremely fast guitar playing like Extol. Second, you’ll notice that the music is accented with majestic sounding keyboards similar to Crimson Moonlight. In 17 minutes you the listener are treated to some really fast, aggressive parts and some soft, beautiful keyboard parts. Those familiar with secular metal will recall Bathory’s “Blood, Fire, Death”, “Hammerheart”, and “Twilight of the Gods” albums. There is much here to remind one of those records, especially on track 3, "Og sorgen slilnel i smerlens rann". Vocally Vaakevandring benefit from more than one vocalist; therefore, they have semi-operatic baritone vocals and shrill black metal vocals. The shrill vocals sound much like the vocals from Antestor or maybe Kekel or Darkthrone. Two of the songs are in Norwegian, but the middle song, “Some Day” is in English. Finally, the artwork is supreme and is a great touch to a great recording.
Contact: P.O. Box 105
“Somber Romantic” is not the sort of album you listen to for a particular song. They really don’t stick out that way. Instead, there is a cohesion with the whole work which makes the entire experience more like watching a movie than listening to a CD; that is, an epic movie like “Gladiator”! There is a lot of cello, violin, and keyboards mixed throughout this album, and couple of the songs might more resemble Black Tape For A Blue Girl than, say, Tristania. There are also places, like the opening song, where London sings like a Gregorian Monk (i.e., Gregorian Chant). On songs like “Walk Without Limbs” and “Lamenting Kiss” there are some Industrial elements, particularly drums. Lots of moody, clean singing. . The sound is a mixture of their original demo material, material from their “Trance” E.P., and yet they have progressed beyond both with experience and the addition of some new elements. Virgin Black certainly belong loosely in a category with other atmospheric bands, even the ones they don’t sound like, such as: Agalloch, Katatonia, The Sins of Thy Beloved, and so on. In a few notable spots VB even break out into some rather violent sounding Black Metal. The lyrics are just like the appropriate title of this album, “somber” and “romantic”. But in the end I have to say that the experience of “Somber Romantic” is indescribable. I think it is a most compelling album, one that deserves consideration for album of the year.
send $15 dollars, U.S. well hidden cash.
PO BOX 1073
I loved Virgin Black’s songs on the “Falling On Deaf Ears” compilation from Rowe Productions . . . once I got used to it! It was a bit different but the more I heard it the more it grew on me. The same is true here yet it must be noted that the music here is quite different. The music on this EP varies from soft and moody to fast and groovy. Sometimes the music is anthemic and melodic, sometimes it is downright creepy, and other times you want to mosh around the room. The opening track, “Opera de Trance” sounds almost darkwave in the beginning and then it begins to sound almost like Living Sacrifice on their “Reborn” album, then the vocals become a shrill whisper like some black metal bands do. Other times piano comes through. The same can be said about the other two tracks: ‘A Saint is Weeping” and “Whispers of Dead Sisters”. One thing is for sure, Virgin Black works the moods over on this CD. In about 14 minutes you feel as if you’ve been up and down a gothic/metal roller coaster.
Contact: Virgin Black
21 Tracey Avenue