24 Nov 2011

Hedon Cries - The End of the Path is Nigh [Full length] (2011, Self-released)

Melody and brutality aren't necessarily direct opposites. While most brutal death metal bands aren't very melodic, some heavy death/doom bands are known to be very melodic and include the harmonies in their attempts to create a focused dark atmosphere.

The Greek sextet Hedon Cries, who've already released albums twice before, set a definitive example on how to create simple yet powerful death/doom metal with a melodic focus. Fronted by growler-in-chief Christos Aidonis, who's vocal efforts could be compared to those of Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg, the yet-to-be-signed Greeks prove the above-mentioned thesis that you can have melody and brutality in the same setting. The nine tracks of 2011's "The End of the Path is Nigh" is ridden with effective melodic metal for fans of Amorphis and the like.

With some of the best production I've heard from an unsigned band this third effort from Hedon Cries misses only few things. If you want your mix of death and doom metal to contain incredible technicality, this album isn't for you. The drums aren't very varied and the songs are rather predictable. That being said the general composure of the tracks are filled to the brim with convicingly executed vocals and good riffs.

The End of the Path is Nigh is also a good example that doom metal doesn't have to be slow and crushing. Tracks like Your Morbid Figure feature an altogether fast paced structure, both on the drum- and the guitar front.

Wholesomeness and flow are things I value highly on albums and Hedon Cries are masters of both. Comprising of only very few weak tracks the mighty The End of the Path is Nigh can boast a fine 7/10 guitars.

1. Like Snow in Her Hand
2. In Deep Red
3. Your Morbid Figure
4. Four Tears, Four Daemons
5. I Hate You
6. Forgotten Beauty
7. Never Again
8. In a White Page
9. Touching the Void

Hedon Cries - The End of the Path is Nigh is available for free download HERE
Visit Hedon Cries on Facebook

17 Nov 2011

Ancient Obliteration - A Menacing Reality [Full length] (2010, Self-released)

It's very VERY hard to come up with something new and to stand out in metal. Starting in the early 70's with roots as far back as mid-to-late 60's metal has been made in so many different ways with so many different elements, themes, ideas and atmospheres that to bring something new to the table is close to impossible. Since the 80's we've seen bands introducing completely foreign and weird elements to classic metal genres, like crazy instrumentation, uncanny time signatures and components that would usually be called either unfitting or down right stupid.

A band that can be said to completely disregard traditions and the conventions of metal is Ancient Obliteration. With a handful of releases under their belt the Canadian quartet have proven that alien elements in traditional death/thrash metal isn't necessarily just there to stand out. But stand out they do, and it took a few listens to the album "A Menacing Reality" to get used to the strange tendencies of their truly unearthly tunes.

Equipped with strong and interesting riffs and completely ignoring the vocal tendencies of modern bands Ancient Obliteration manage to carve a small niche for themselves in the dark depths of metal. Incorporating lots of traditional death and thrash metal constituents like thrashy bass lines and vocals that take from both death metal and crossoverish thrash the four-man band has found several elicit ways to evoke my interest with they utter weirdness.

The very heavy focus of the grittily produced album has a certain way to make the listener slighty rock one's head to the music without even noticing. While the 10-tracked album isn't exactly rich in detail it makes for interesting listening. The wholesome flow and mostly well-fitted songs makes me think of bands like Macabre, Nocturnus, Ghoul and occassionally even Gwar and if you're a fan of any of those bands you should probably give Ancient Obliteration a listen. 7/10 guitars.

1. Intro
2. Radiated Overlords
3. Look Inside Yourself
4. Seeking the Slimegod
5. Professor of Black Magic
6. Intermission
7. Giant Devilfish
8. Lust for the Curse
9. Pagan Rape
10. Hunted and Deranged in this Bleak Zone

Visit Ancient Obliteration on Facebook and Bandcamp

10 Nov 2011

Black Chalice - Years of Flame [Full length] (2011, Self-released)

The most disturbing metal genre of all has to be none other than the tenebrous, atmospheric subgenre funeral doom metal, mixing elements of black and occasionally death with the stygian pitch of doom metal. With lyrics often rooted in lovecraftian lore, depression and suicide and abstract subjects this genre of complete caliginousness is surely among the darkest and most deranged genres.

A perfect example of a band deeply nestled in the black pits of funeral doom metal with slight eldritch influences from death metal would be Black Chalice. The absolutely esoteric sounds of the 4-song album "Years of Flame" has a sharp focus on darkly atmospheric moribund funeral doom metal with a thorough emphasis on tradition aswell as the incorporation of death-like elements. Like the howling of an ancient beast Black Chalice have created a convincing release of solid, although a bit unimaginative, death/funeral doom metal.

While Years of Flame is generally haunting and disturbingly deranged with tracks like Chronophage and Infallibility of Semen there seems to be an overall problem with the mixing as the drums are often very hard to hear and the guitar's sound is quite boomy at times. Fortunately for Black Chalice, who have made other prior releases aswell, the lacking quality of the mixing does not overshadow the escatonic simplicity of this fine release.

With a total length of almost 31 minutes Years of Flame by Black Chalice is by no means a lengthy album. The four wholesome tracks (all of more than 6 minutes in length), however, make for a fairly interesting journey through the disturbing soundscapes of Black Chalice. 6/10 guitars.

1. Empirical Solitude
2. Chronophage
3. Infallibility of Semen
4. Years of Flame

Black Chalice - Years of Flame is available for free download HERE
Visit Black Chalice on Bandcamp and Facebook

5 Nov 2011

Gatling - Absolute [EP] (2011, Self-released)

As rock evolved from blues and folk music, metal evolved from rock. Therefore it's not a stretch of imagination to envisage a mix of the two - A hybrid if you will. Since metal in it's original form is merely a heavier style of rock it's not surprizing to see bands like AC/DC, Motörhead and Metallica make something in between.

The American band Gatling mixes a ton of progressive rock elements with metal. The melancholic feel of the 3-track EP "Absolute" makes one think of newer Katatonia while they have an overall tendency to shoegazy parts aswell as entire sections that are predominantly metal. It's hard to categorize a band like Gatling as they mix so many different components to make their music. These elements include - but aren't limited to - metal guitar solos, shoegaze vocals at times, general rock composing and metal riffs.

I generally find that this EP would probably be more enjoyable to a fan of rock music rather than heavy metal. While more rockish metal isn't inherently bad to me it seems the Canadian four-man outfit has more inspirations from rock bands than metal bands. There's still a lot to work on for this band, but armed with tracks such as the very wholesome "Midnight Cemetery" I think Gatling would be capable of becoming great.

Overall I'd say Absolute features some generally good elements and some very nice guitar work, but the vocals could use some work in certain cases. Future works of Gatling should be very interesting, and because I like the first track of the EP so much Absolute deserves 6/10 guitars.

1. Midnight Cemetery
2. Absolute
3. Statue of a Statue

Galting - Absolute is available for free download HERE

3 Nov 2011

Amputation Spree - Messiah [Track] (2011, Self-released)

The more brutal side of death metal first came to the fore with bands like Suffocation and Dying Fetus. Since then many bands have experimented with the genre and with Devourment and arguably Mortician came "slamming brutal death metal", which is essentially brutal death metal with a focus on the moshing parts rather than the blasting parts. Slam has been getting a lot of attention during these last years, both negative and possitive. There are several slam bands that borderline deathcore, which is notoriously hated by many metalheads, but a great number of brutal death metal bands can also be hard to distinguish from slamming bands.

The one-man project Amputation Spree from North Carolina in the US to me is one such band. While featuring no -core elements, the new single "Messiah" definitely has some dominant slam parts. The pathologically themed band excels in relentlesly chugging ultra brutal death metal with deep guttural vocals and slamming parts. All of these elements put together make for some pretty good low-tempo brutal death metal, but I'd have to say that if you're not into brutal death metal the song Messiah isn't going to change your mind.

The otherwise good track has a tendency to boomy guitar sound, inaudible drums and some repetitiveness. If you're acquainted with Amputation Spree's earlier material - like Addicted to Beheading Children - you won't be surprised, for Messiah follows in the same magnificently brutal style. If Messiah is representative of the upcoming 3-song EP I won't be disappointed. 6/10 guitars.

Amputation Spree - Messiah is available for free download HERE
Visit Amputation Spree on Bandcamp