Cain – ‘Into Abyss’

September 25, 2017

Formed in Buffalo, New York, in 2010, Cain are a 3 piece thrash metal band. Influences: Rush, Slayer, Death, Atheist, Voivod, Terror Squad (Japan), Grave, etc. Cain’s sound is new, yet familiar. They’ve played live with Suffocation, Nunslaughter, Malevolent Creation, Hellwitch, D.R.I., Deathhammer, Hellbringer, etc. So far, they’ve done 3 tours of the U.S. and 1 of Canada. ‘Into Abyss’ is their 2nd album, released on CD and digitally, following their debut, ‘The Ravaging’, (2015, also released on both those formats and on vinyl). Additionally, they did a demo, in 2011 and a vinyl split with Maximum Oversatan.

Necronomicon – Pure thrash heavy cathartic release intro. Absolutely smooth, seamless and sinister, yet compelling. Moving instantly, from considered chords, into outright fierce death-edged thrash. Short, but compact.

Evilution – Drums opening, into a gloriously chaotic thrash rhythm, with an old school vibe, shining through the modern twist of aggressive, death-tinged metal. Some gorgeous riff melodies in there, complemented by the sharp, blackened vocals. Frantic pace, lots of gore, with a persistently catchy chorus. Cohesively frenetic and lively as hell.

The Necromancer – Is it me, or are those vocals gaining in strength? Either way, there’s an audibly clear-sighted determination embedded within this sound and though it’s noticeably growly, the melodic riffs are strategically placed, so as to keep the catchy rhythm going. They succeed, as does the infinitely skilled precision of the all-out drum attack. All round, it’s very much a ‘wake up, world’ track and it works.

Yokai! – Guitar break down introing, intriguing lyrics, more melodically focused and generally, a brief, but intense and concentrated track, with plenty of drive and no shortage of passion.

Cyber Humans – That’s 1 tasty riff intro. Centring around the rhythm, this time, their enthusiasm’s blatant. Bringing in a new Bongo-like aspect to the drumming, revving up the rage and the rawness in the angry vocals, throwing in some well-placed speed elements, various rhythms and building momentum, till the end, it’s a highly intense and conscientious track.

In Hell – Very Viking-esque energy to this one. Visually evocative atmosphere, giving it 100%, the forceful terror embodies the title. Flooding it with vivid imagery, the end result is as dark as the blackest night.

Into Abyss – Drums taking the reins, at the outset, infusing the track with a deep physicality, matched by the other elements. A sinister, though curious overtone saturates the performance, bringing the diligence and experimental accomplishment to the fore. Unafraid to play around with sound and throw in a variety of possibilities, it’s a truly versatile, boundary pushing title track, intelligently crafted and thoughtfully ordered.

Overall – An intricately worked, multi-skilled album, in which the spirit of thrash pervades. Blending elements of thrash, with death and Viking metal, there’s much to be discovered within the evident labour and perseverance that’s gone into ‘I.A’. It’s an album which’ll take you down many different avenues, exploring the depths and possibilities inherent within thrash metal and each one will reveal a new twist.

9/10 *********

For fans of In My Embrace, Slayer, Testament, Carcass, Iron Monkey, thrash, death and Viking metal, generally.

http://www.facebook.com/cainthrash

https://cainthrash.bandcamp.com/

Available on CD and digitally.

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KLOGR – ‘Sleeping Through The Seasons’

September 22, 2017

Alternative rock/metal band KLOGR have now launched their new video for their latest single, ‘Sleeping Through The Seasons’. Along with the rest of the album ‘Keystone’, the track was recorded at Zeta Factory Studio and mixed at Mainstation Studio, Toronto, Canada, by David Bottrill, Grammy-winning producer, known for his past work with Dream Theater, Stone Sour, Tool, Rush etc.

‘STTS’ was influenced by the book and film ‘Lord Of The Flies’, based on the concept of a group of boys trapped on an isolated island and the catastrophic results of their self-government. Artist for ‘Keystone’, Andrea Saltini created the storyboard for the ‘STTS’ video, together with art director Chiara Silvestri. Shoot organisation was by Roberto Zampa, who directed the bands’ previous videos, ‘King Of Unknown’, ‘Breaking Down’ and ‘Breathing Heart’. It was edited and directed by Matteo Pasquali, previous director of ‘Bleeding’ and ‘Draw Closer’.

Front man Rusty feels that the use of the ‘Lord Of The Flies’ inspiration brought a broad perspective to the album, consolidating it into the video. He’s personally inspired by networking with fellow creatives, whose opinions he values, pertaining to his work with KLOGR. The ‘Keystone’ album, on which ‘STTS’ features is released on October 6th, by Zeta Factory/PHD. This single follows the ‘Keystone’ album’s lead track, ‘Prison Of Light’. KLOGR will perform as special guests to Rasmus on their ‘Dark Matters’ tour of Europe, this November.

Right in there, wasting no time, with an instantly catchy punchy hard rock intro. Massively melodic, raw and upliftingly energetic. Visually and audibly, it’s got a range of emotions packed into it and the presentation, along with those lively vocals are an absolute winning combination. Moving, seamlessly, between black, white, grey and coloured backgrounds, matching the lyrical dexterity, vocal range and instrumental passion and edge, it’s a heavy, vibrant track, with immediate hit written all over it. Watch, buy, play. Now.

10/10 **********

For fans of melodic hard rock and heavy metal, with lots of groove.

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September 21, 2017

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September 21, 2017

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Bong Cauldron – ‘Binge’

September 21, 2017

APF records have announced the launch of ‘Binge’, Bong Cauldron’s debut album, on 30th November 2017. The sludge meisters now have a big following in the underground metal scene, leading to support gigs with Corrosion Of Conformity, Eyehategod, Pentagram, Weedeater, Yob, Windhand and Monolord, etc. Recorded by Chris Fielding, of Conan, at his own Skyhammer Studio, ‘Binge’ will be available on limited edition green and black vinyl, limited edition digipack CDs and digitally. Renowned for their massive riffs and huge grooves, Bong Cauldron have sought to attain this sound on ‘Binge’.

Devil – Fittingly evil feedback intro, before launching straight into classic sludge territory. Aptly satanic lyrics, set to what becomes a fairly catchy rhythm. Well conveyed vocal frustration and an effective outro, equalling the intro. A fair start.

Bury Your Axe In The Crania Of Lesser Men – Good penetrating bass heavy intro, with very bloody vocals and lots of generic sludge. Pretty basic filler. Still effective, but just not much more to say about it. Needs a few diversity markers.

68 – Great powerful drum intro, throwing in much more power to the vocals and accompaniments, this time. A far more memorable, speed themed, aggressive track. Refocused catch and hooks – it’s a vast improvement.

Binge – A bit yo-yo-ish, in intro sound terms. Big reverb emphasis and quite growly, vocally. More anger coming across now. Catchier melody injected into this one, which although simple, really becomes the main focus, forming a stronger base around which, the rest of the songs’ structure is formed. Building in power and momentum, for the acute finale, the title track’s redeemed the album, so far.

Bigfoot Reigns – Faster riff intro takes control, evolving into a fairground revolution like intensity. Central to the song, it does it great justice. Drums and bass forming a new layer of sludge, strengthening the general intensity, it then moves on to another level of sensory experience, ending just in time to rescue itself from the risk of becoming lost in the chamber of its own sound.

Hopeless – Clearer brief fingerpicking solo acoustic intro, then launching into newer ground. Taking on a new life, in the form of a more power focused composition, the sludge returns, towards the end. Powerful close, ‘Hopeless’ displays an oddly hopeful blend of uplifting speed, melody and grounding sludge. The strongest track so far.

Toxic Boglin – Lots of heaviness here. Slight vibrato approaching edge to the riffage now, it’s a short track, yet holds a lot of power. Slightly clearer vocal emphasis, too. A track with not much to say, but which packs a lot into its brief message.

Yorkshire Born – Upping the party rock fun factor, it’s a track approaching mosh pit territory. Filling the whole song with that kind of light-hearted vibe, it’s almost like a form of light relief respite, saved for last. Over fairly quickly, it brings a relaxed element, to the album’s end.

Overall – A fairly average, but gradually improving sludge offering, gathering pace and enjoyment, as it progresses. Could do with more excitement, but picks up the power, 3 tracks in. Its strengths are in its speed, melodic and power elements, so playing to these a lot more would serve it well, even as a sludge album. Heard better, but also heard far worse. As standard sludge, it’ll do. Just best kept for low-energy days and indifferent frames of mind.

5/10 *****

For fans of Iron Monkey and other doom based sludge metal.

Mastered by James Plotkin, at Plotkinworks.

Artwork by Dominic Sohor, at Dominic Sohor Design.

Released 1st December 2017, via APF Records.

Pale Horseman – ‘The Fourth Seal’

September 18, 2017

Welcome to sludge doom metal band Pale Horseman’s forthcoming release, ‘The Fourth Seal’. A self release, recorded, mixed and mastered at Comatose Studio, in Bradley, Illinois, USA, by Dennis Pleckham, of Bongripper. The band feel that since new drummer Jason Shryver  joined the line-up, the overall sound, quality and production of their work has improved immeasurably. It’s this positive influence to which they attribute increased pride and confidence in their music, in particular, this release.

Pale Horseman hail from Chicago, utilising twin guitar and vocals and a pounding drum section. With acclaimed live performances, their studio albums are produced by some of their own favoured influences, for instance, Dennis Pleckham, Noah Landis of Neurosis and Justin Broadrick of Godflesh.

Final War – Instant impacting, attention grabbing, heavy riff intro. The sludge comes into play immediately, with obvious elements of death and doom metal, vocally audible. Whilst it’s not what you could call exciting, it’s not too downbeat to listen to either. Slightly samey, for most of the track, but there’s enough melodic and rhythmic alternation, to make it an okay listen.

Witches Will Gather – Again, fairly riff focused, with a large sludge/doom aspect. TBF, nothing from this genre is likely to win prizes for upbeat sounds, but that’s not it’s aim. Having said that, there is definite catch in this track and its hooks, from the mid-section on, are undeniable. Slowing the pace down, increasingly, from there, it fades out on a reverb sound. Passable.

Aokigahara – Classic doom/sludge intro, with some more deathy stuff included, it’s just more of a standard filler, than being inspiring in any way. However, there’s also variation in sound, style and technique, after the mid-point. It seems it’s a trend, with Pale Horseman, to incorporate the changes and diversity from the central point of tracks. Still, there’s not much change, after that. Slight ominous sense to the outro, but given it’s a sludge/doom album, that’s to be expected.

Bereavement – Slowing and seemingly toning things down even further now. Interestingly, early Sabbath-esque. Deeply ominous now, exuding sinister force. Gaining in strength, there’s a wilful energy infecting this track here. Blatantly battle-esque and severe, in tone, till the merest chink of light manifests, in the slightest loosening of the instrumentals, through which, that minimally higher key is performed. By the closing section, you’re aware of the impressive aural portrayal of ‘bereavement’, itself.

Gnashing Of Teeth – Alarmingly affecting, physically palpable intro. Enough in itself, to distract you, with its sudden, unexpected impact. Much like how you might imagine being slammed and sandwiched between two cars and then thrown from bumper-to-bumper incessantly. P.H. are certainly skilled at immortalising the sense of physicality, inherent within their track titles.

Forlorn Extinction – Coming into the intro, in a manner so smooth, it better befits a mid-way point, like one long, continuous stream of consciousness. A noticeably more aggressive edge to the lyrics, creeping into the accompaniments, till it becomes the song’s general essence. Unusual choice of sentiment for this particular title, but well delivered.

Pale Rider – Lots of slide in the opening riffs and not discounting that now ubiquitous darkness, embodying and enshrouding the vocals. A bit morose, but it is doom/sludge, after all. Just a concerted doom fest. An overshadowing sense of encroaching, impending doom, expected of a track so entitled. In that respect, it does its job well.

Tyrant – Livening things up now, with a marked uplift in pitch and a breathier rhythm, it exudes a powerful angry force. Becoming angrier, in deference to the title, it’s just a forceful energy, overpowering, in its strength.

Phantasmal Voice – Highly catchy drum rhythm intro, that’s the prime focus now, with the prideful, tribal vocals, primal in their delivery. Some snazzier, jazzier riffs and a more concentrated rhythm. Very classic heavy Dio-esque vocal section in there; fans of the Dio, Iommi, Sazzo version of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ won’t forget this closing section). Clever way to end, on a sound resembling such a memorable version of such a well-known carol).

Overall – On the whole, a passable background filler, but with enough experimental variation and clear emotional energy to make it memorable. So it’s never gonna win any prizes for its uplifting quality, but no one expects that in sludge/doom productions anyway. Not unless you happen to be Down. Or Electric Wizard. Or Kyuss. You get the gist. Anyway, a largely reasonable listen, with a few hints of intrigue thrown in.

7/10 *******

Self-Released 24th November 2017.

For fans of generic doom, sludge and early Sabbath.

Moonlight Prophecy – ‘Vanquished’

September 17, 2017

Introducing ‘Vanquished’, Moonlight Prophecy’s debut album, only months after their ‘Eternal Oblivion’ EP was launched. A 10 track album, filled with catchy songs and heavy riffs, ideal for Dragonforce and Nevermore fans.
A thrash power metal band, Moonlight Prophecy was founded in (unbelievably) March 2017, by Lawrence Wallace, as a natural progression from his instrumental riff band, ‘Lawrence’s Creation’, with the aim of producing material with more vocal focus. The other permanent band member playing on ‘Vanquished’ is Mika Mage, Lawrence’s long-time co-performer, from various bands. Session musicians Raphael Gazal, Persou M. and Dustin Hughes all guested on the album. Due to the international geographical distance between members, M.P. is largely a studio band. Though its main aspects are thrash and power, M.P. also incorporates prog, together with a whole raft of other styles. It’s a highly melodic venture, with a large element of speed metal within it.

Abandoned – Introing gradually and eerily, with a fantasy action film soundtrack essence, complete with rain and thunder sound effects, it certainly does an effective job of whetting the appetite for more, injecting intrigue, to open your mind and keep you guessing.

Escape The Ruins – Blasting into life, with a punch machine style drum attack and a blazing riff fest, matching the strength of the power vocals. On it continues, in that same light, treating you to a metallic feast, of total consummate professionalism, from start to finish. Accomplished ground, throughout.

The End Times – A battle force intro, this time, emulating the greats of speed metal vocals, with effortless flow and equal riff magnitude. Again, a smooth, familiar and comforting ride through classic metal terrain. Soulforge fans will be in their element.

Spellbound  – Riffs growing ever more ecstatic and exuberant, the life force is palpable, as it races on, through colourful scales of life affirming soundscapes. Faultlessly performed, with ease of delivery, a great escapist track.

Fading Away – Lovely chords introing, with a new sense of contemplative pathos. An immediate sense of beautiful melancholy permeates it, with complete lyrical and instrumental synchronicity. So precisely harmonised, the brief track length’s of no consequence, as it’s said all it needs to, encapsulating the title, with perfect precision.

Fury M – Slamming into your energy field, with sheer energised, determined will; instant hit material. Summarising its title perfectly, with total conviction, this track’s gonna take them far. Its immediacy, drive and outright imagination, in themselves, make it a standout, unforgettable track. Bound for greatness, with all the right ingredients.

Never Forgotten – A slower, mellower track, returning again, to that unmistakable sense of melancholy, yet deeper, this time and palpably darker. As an instrumental, it’s still very beautiful, in its own way and solemnly, speaks its wordless message. A world of purity’s contained within.

Eternal Oblivion – Slowly, bringing the mood back up again, with thoughtful, life enhancing vibes, well constructed lyrics and intelligent rhythm. A short, but again, concise and meaningfully arranged song.

Witch Hunt – Clear, rapid transition, into uplifting, upward motion, sensual riffs, more instrumental focus, but this time, conveying absolute exhilaration and joyful expressive release. It needs no more.

Omen Under The Stars – Aurally depicting the title’s nature, with effective totality, once more, the instrumental emphasis comes to the fore. Now, bringing in an element of ominous mystique. As with the rest, it may be short, but it’s certainly not lacking or inadequate, in any way. Quite the reverse, as the inherent skill, sensitivity and musical intuition builds the ideal sensory framework, for each section of the track, conveying the truth and sincerity of the passions behind it.

Overall – A real, impacting representation of the influences at play, throughout the album. Demonstrating a very real sense of feeling, on a multi-sensory level, ‘Vanquished’ deserves to succeed. It’s unusual proliferation of pure instrumentals serves it well, further reinforcing the depth of skill and accomplished craftsmanship at work within it. Holding a purity of sound, increasingly rare these days, ‘Vanquished’ is a one-off gem of metallic musicality, warranting your full attention and metal devotion.

9/10 *********

Self released 10th November 2017.

For fans of Soulforge, Dragonforce, Taberah, White Wizzard, Chris Rea.

Krysthla – ‘Yawm Al Qimayah’

September 12, 2017

Krysthla’s new lyric video, ‘Yawm Al Qimayah’, comes on the back of drummer Wayne Minney’s sad departure from the band, due to serious health issues. It follows Krysthla’s 2015 debut album, ‘A War Of Souls And Desires’ and their current release, ‘Peace In Our Time’ (2017). ‘P.I.O.T.’ hit number 2 in Amazon’s charts, besides Mastodon and While She Sleeps. Krysthla has solidified its name, as a benchmark for British metal, having gained a notorious reputation, headlining and supporting such bands as Decapitated, playing acclaimed festival sets, at Bloodstock, Mammothfest, etc.
As new drummer, Nick Plews joins the band, on Wayne’s departure, after his final show with Krysthla, on November 25th, 2017, at Firebug, Leicester, the band would like to offer ‘Y.A.Q.’, as a tribute to Wayne’s valuable, significant contributions to Krysthla.

Blasting into life, with a raw, primal energy, unleashed in the darkness of the lightning infused background, it screams and fights its way onto the scene, with no mercy. A positive battleground rifle assault on the senses, waking the life force and proving its mettle, with a solid, got punching, ferocious metal attack, it says it’s piece, leaving no room for doubt. Dramatic, impacting and affecting.

9/10 *********

For fans of extreme metal, death and black metal.

Released September 7th, 2017. Artwork by Andy Pilkington, of Very Metal Art.

Death Blooms – ‘Sick’

September 11, 2017

Emerging metal band Death Blooms have now released their new video, ‘Sick’, ahead of their upcoming UK tour, in November, as guests of renowned horrorcore combo, Insane Clown Posse, along with fellow guests Mushroomhead. Fans will recall Death Blooms’ self titled debut EP, last May, acclaimed for its melodic hard-core style, influenced by the band’s drive to promote the need for greater awareness of mental health issues, within the metal community and the community, at large. So ‘Sick’ pertains to the dichotomy of craving release from limitations, whilst needing to acknowledge, accept and come to terms with their very real impact and express these truths, both to others and to ourselves.

Exploding into aggressive life, in an almost scarily angry intro. That’s what you call power! Carefully conceived grey/black background, with thoughtfully blended lyrical validation of the individuals feelings re: their illness and verbal portrayal of the counter-productive terminology routinely used, to describe those with mental health issues. A brief, but effective and plausible expression and release, incorporating a strong combo of visual auditory elements, conveying the subject matter, forcefully and observantly. Verging on nu metal/rap techniques, but always retaining the hard-core aspect, impressively performed.

8/10 ********

For fans of nu/rap metal, such as Linkin Park, hard-core metal and and metal core.

Upcoming tour dates –

13th November – Leeds O2 Academy
14th November – Newcastle O2 Academy
15th November – Glasgow O2 ABC
16th November – Bristol O2 Academy
17th November – Manchester O2 Ritz
18th November – Birmingham O2 Institute
19th November – London O2 Forum Kentish Town

71 TonMan – ‘Earthwreck’

September 10, 2017

Lifeless – Depicting the title well, a downbeat, deadened set of chords intro, prior to the accompanying ogre-like growls and heavy, earthy sound, eroding its way through the rest of the song. Aptly dulled down, in deference to the track’s title, there’s a corrosive quality to the overwhelming dulling of the senses. Party animals can safely opt out of this one. I know it’s aiming to demonstrate the concept and feel of lifelessness, but you can go too far, with such ambitions. Almost painfully repetitive and there are more cheerful dirges. Not for fragile, depressive mind frames.

Negative – Not sure quite what to make of that screechy, overbearing intro, but for me, it was tantamount to hearing fingers scraping down a blackboard, at full volume. On the positive side of ‘Negative’, they’ve got the heaviness factor down. Unquestionably so. However, there’s doom and there’s ….’ARGH, get me out, I’m being buried alive’! Please, guys, please, have some pity and throw some mercy onto the open grave, with something resembling even the merest possibility of hope. Dark. Very dark. Too dark. Frighteningly so. I think it’s too late. I’m being led to my doom. Those looking for a chink of light are advised to try Maiden’s ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ or even ‘Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter’. Okay, now there are some more melodic riffs towards the end, so maybe there’s still hope, but it just seems the axe has been buried too deep. Oh and there are the sirens and a distant funeral bell, closing, just in case you were in any doubt. Kudos to them, for having the strength of mind to continue the funereal theme, for so long, but nope, doesn’t do it for me.

Phobia – Opening with sirens this time and finally, the riffs are beginning to lift the mood higher… Until the devilish darkened doom takes over again. Monster-ish roars, slowed down pace, murky riffs and mud encrusted drum beats, it’s all a bit much. One thing in its favour is that it certainly covers the dread and despair factor of phobia well. Not to mention the aspect of time dragging on and on and on…..

Zero – Introing with much the same continuation of doom and despond, with which track 3 finished. For some, this level of doom works, but the chink in its armour is actually the loss of focus and stamina triggered by its tendency to overdo the doom and darkness, to the exclusion of anything else. Really, it’s time the creature from the black lagoon returned to the depths of the blackened trench now. There is power and passion audible in there, but it just comes too late and is always killed, by the over emphatic doom. Doom of which there’s too much. Just too much.

Torment – Marginally livelier intro, but only marginally. A continuing sense of impending doom and an even louder version of it, it seems. Increasingly evil entrenched vocals and really, just an overriding sense of evil. Much more than that is difficult to establish, due to the over insistence of the darker than dark ethos, saturating the track.

Spiral – Oh, now they’ve increased the speed, to begin with, at least, but oh no, it’s just more of the same. I think it’s time to search for the light and climb out of the grave now, before it’s too late. Lyrically risky for those of a delicate disposition and generally, it’s just monotonous, hopeless misery. Reinforced at every point. I surrender. Please just end it all now.

Overall – Doom overload, beyond measure. There’s doom, incorporating other elements and reasons to listen, then there’s doom, which is nothing but doom, to a morbid degree. This falls into the latter camp. To a soul destroying extent. Doom can be creative, soothing and even enjoyable, if crafted around other aspects of composition, but it shouldn’t be painful to listen to. Listening to this hurt me and metal’s not supposed to hurt. Sensory overload, on an immeasurable scale. Yes, the album summarises its title well and the tracks certainly define the mood, but that’s just the problem, in this case and I can’t find anything to like about it. Please, just kill me now.

3/10 ***

For fans of morbid, mind destroying doom.