27 Aug 2012

Auspicium - For the World that Was and that is to Come [Full length] (2012, First Church of the Left Hand Path)

Auspicium, an American practitioner of the dark arts more commonly referred to af black metal. One man projects like Auspicium are very widely spread in the world of black metal, and while I remember in the early years to me it seemed like kind of a novelty and something that made a band interesting, it's almost the exact opposite nowadays. I find it almost hard to find a black metal band with more than one member!

Patrick Hasson's band, labeled as atmospheric black metal, suffers from many of the same problems as other solo bands. The lack of differing opinions and varying inputs means the music has a tendency to become a little single-tracked, and while some bands musically can handle the lack of input I sort of feel that Auspicium is not one of those bands. Don't get me wrong, there are several decent riffs and the songwriting isn't as bad as numerous other things I've listened to over the years, but it does become a little dreary because it's easy to tell alot, if not all, of the ideas are thought up in the same tenebrous mind.

The solo effort managed to surprise me quite a bit on more than one occasion, though. Like when he threw in a little clean vocals in Judgement; While it wasn't as well executed as I had hoped, it still helped mixing things up a little and giving the listener a break from the otherwise monotonous atmosphere.

I almost feel like I'm giving Auspicium a little too much shit. I'm not familiar with his impressive back catalogue of four albums and a couple of demos, splits and EPs all released in about four years since the first album Valde Atra Mare in 2008. It's just that there's really not anything new under the sun. I read somewhere that the early material of Auspicium had a certain nautical feel to it, which I could imagine would be something a little out of the ordinary. However, there seems to be nothing of the sort on For the World that Was and that is to Come, but some parts, especially the guitar work, is actually pretty solid. I mentioned Judgement earlier and that same track has some great riffs.

To round things off I'd like to say that Auspicium does capture a cold, nature-like atmosphere that I'm quite impressed by. Through well-versed guitar playing and at times surprising choices in songwriting the album keeps me interested for a while, but ultimately I can't give it more than 7/10 because it doesn't really stand out among the hordes of other atmospheric bands out there.

1. For All Who Seek These Waves
2. The World that is to Come
3. Judgement
4. Reclamation
5. Justice
6. A Basilica of Black Stars

AUSPICIUM official site

17 Aug 2012

Terminate - Thirst for the Obscene [EP] (2012, Self-released)

Formed in 2010, Terminate (a name that weirdly enough isn't already taken) formed with a massive inspiration from the mostly well-respected Swedish death metal scene. I must say that the first thing I thought when I started listening to "Thirst for the Obscene" was that I had been mistaken in their origins, because Terminate sound nothing like your garden variety US death metal band. Instead they sound almost exactly like a Swedish death metal band, complete with Sunlight guitar tone, thrashy riffs, d-beats and rotten solos. Hell, even the logo looks Swedish.

When you mimick a certain sound like that you better make sure you're up for the task and are able to write some gruesome, neckbreaking death metal, and terminate obviously are. Only very rarely do they slow down on this their second release, and when they do it's only to induce massive outbreaks of headbanging with riffs that border on the grisly and macabre. Who needs to rest anyway!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I wish unknown bands would stop putting a slew of cover songs on their demos and EPs... It takes away focus from their own material, and there's absolutely no reason when your music is as solid as that of Terminate! The American band did a terrific job in making Slaughter's INCINERATOR their own. Though I don't feel the muddy guitar sound quite fits the chuggy riffs of Incinerator, I sorta prefer John Porada's vocals to those of Slaughter's singer Terry Sadler.

What can I say, everything just comes together in a putrid mass of charred remains and death metal, and I for one am not going to complain. Completely solid death metal with a Swedish touch all around. 8/10 guitars.

1. Thirst for the Obscene
2. Numb
3. Drown in Flames
4. Blind Leading the Blind
5. Incinerator (Slaughter Cover)
6. The Usurper (Celtic Frost Cover)

TERMINATE official site

14 Aug 2012

Extrakt - Stuck in the Trash [Demo] (2012, Self-released)

In 2010 yet another thrash band was created in Sweden. That band was Extrakt, and their brand of blackened thrash metal was first incarnated in March 2012 on their first demo "Stuck in the Trash". The terrific trio created a short, straight to the point thrash demo with nothing more than three ripping tracks, entitled appropriately "Bitch", "Extraktified" and "Stuck in the Trash".

Being a young band, I was told that Extrakt were mostly beginners. But judging from the sound of their first demo "Stuck in the Trash" they're better than some bands consisting of seasoned musicians. Their style bears a certain tinge of early Sodom and Fear of Tomorrow and Terror Squad era Artillery and as such features some of the elements that made early European thrash metal stand out. True, nowadays the world is flooded by second- or third-grade blackened thrash metal with little appeal, but Extrakt's recipe for simple thrash is really effective in creating hugely enjoyable metal which is easy to imagine in a dark and energetic live setting.

Though the first song "Bitch" consists mostly of a repeated chorus, it has a realyl awesome thrashy riff right before a solo that just reeks early 80's thrash metal, and the other two songs "Stuck in the Trash" and "Extraktified" are fully up to par with many other excellent thrash demos. The young band has an excellent ear for riffing and thusly never become tedious or monotonous to listen to. 8/10 guitars.

1. Bitch
2. Extraktified
3. Stuck in the Trash

EXTRAKT official site

9 Aug 2012

Wacken Open Air 2012 Battle Report

This years Wacken Open Air, the 23rd of its kind, is over and hangovers are upon us. While WOA 2012 is by far the muddiest and most wet festival I have ever had the pleasure of attending, it wasn't all bad.
Many fans feel that the quality of Wacken's line up has been steadily declining for years, but this year's festival featured several great metal acts (mixed in with the horde of talentless german gimick-bands ofcourse) such as Overkill, Testament, Six Feet Under, Kamelot, Saxon, Machinehead and others.

Sadly I was forced to skip Overkill because of a very sudden and beyond extreme rain storm. Suffice it to say, I couldn't have been any more wet if I had jumped in a pool fully clothed. Overkill was one of the bands I had been looking most forward to, and I can't imagine them putting on a bad show.
Kamelot, who played right before Overkill and right before and during the torrent of rain, I witnessed however. Having seen Kamelot fronted by Roy Khan only two years prior I had to see (and HEAR) their new frontman Tommy Karevik in action. I was immensely surprised and pleased by his performance, which indeed was more or less an exact copy of Khan's previous Wacken performance with Kamelot, but vocally Karevik was superior to the efforts of Khan in 2010. Armed with a solid setlist, a well-balanced sound and a stage routine that was pretty much exactly the same as last time Kamelot gave a great performance worth withstanding the weather for.

Another outstanding Wacken performance was that of the stoner metal band Red Fang. I was somewhat worried that their show wouldn't meet my previous expectations as I have friends who saw their show at Roskilde Festival 2012 who described it as not up to par. But as I entered the tent that is the split stage "WET" and "Headbangers" I was blown away by a warm and mighty show. Only two albums into their carreer it leaves little room for a varied setlist, but the songs they played seemed well-picked and were more than appropriate for the crowd's state of mind.

The last positive show I would like to highlight is Testament. Playing on Saturday means that some of the crowd is already hung over and tired from the previous days of partying, but that didn't bother Testament and their completely awesome show didn't leave much room for sitting down and feeling sorry for yourself. The power of Testament simply demands vicious headbanging. Musically it sounded like everyone was in their prime. Especially Chuck Billy's unique singing, which range from old school thrashy vocals to more groovy roaring vocals, was nothing but spot on, which meant they could easily play both the really old stuff and a couple of songs from their brand new album The Dark Roots of Earth.

Some of the less positive experiences, other than the oceans of mud (seriously, I have never ever seen so much mud in one place before), were the cancelling of Electric Wizard's show, who I had looked very much forward to seeing, and the performance of Six Feet Under. As I stood and waited for Electric Wizard at the WET and Headbangers stage, which was at the same time as Six Feet Under's set, we were informed that Electric Wizard was "stuck in traffic" and wouldn't be playing WOA 2012. Even as my disappointment was extreme, I realized I could instead go see Six Feet Under, of which I'm also a fan. When I arrived the show was already in full swing, but their performance was in all aspects really boring and uneventful. Even the setlist was incredibly predictable, and though the new lineup of Six Feet Under is comprised of highly talented musicians, Six Feet Under's music doesn't really leave much room for them to show their musical prowess.

In closing Wacken Open Air 2012 was a wet year, which made it really hard at times to fully enjoy the music and the festival. I know I saw fewer bands than in my previous years due to the mud making it bothersome to get around. The metal market was as always worth a visit or five, and the food was equally alright. I wish for next year that they will bring in more extreme metal bands, as these always seem to be left out, making room for shitty brass-band covers of metal songs, medieval covers of metal songs, german covers of metal songs and other gimicky german bands that none but the germans (who are indeed numerous on the festival for obvious reasons) will enjoy.