31 Jan 2016

At Dusk: "At Dusk"

Building upon the work of titans
Popularised by bands such as Shining, Xasthur and Silencer, depressive black metal has been gaining quite a following in recent years, focussed mostly on droning rhythms and a cold atmosphere. While depressive black metal is mainly about the lyrics - which are more often than not about nihilism, apathy and depressed moods - you often see it go hand in hand with the above description also featuring lengthy passages of simplistic guitars, gritty production and acoustic elements.

30 Jan 2016

Witchcraft: "Nucleus"

The Swedes leave behind the 70s
Witchcraft broke out as an early mover in the the resurgence of 70s influenced doom metal and hard rock in the 00s with classic albums like "Witchcraft" and "Firewood". Their style, however, changed quite a bit with 2012's "Legend", the Swedish group's fourth album. By then the songwriting had put on a more modern guise, taking on a more widespread audience. This time around Witchcraft's main songwriter Magnus Pelander is flanked by two new members in Tobias Anger on bass and Rage Widerberg on drums.

29 Jan 2016

Rise of the Synths

"The Old Soundtrack of a New Generation"
It goes by many names. Retrowave, Vintagewave, Synthwave, whatever you want to call it. With musical roots stretching as far back as the late 70s, it's a far-reaching style. Musicians like Edgar Froese, Giorgio Moroder and others pioneered the electronic music genre in the 70s, and it exploded as part of modern culture in the 80s. Later French House musicians like Daft Punk and Kavinsky revived the genre and perfected the style, mixing it with modern sound engineering and newer elements. In 2011 Nicolas Winding Refn's film "Drive" reacquainted many with the sound we today call "Synthwave".

28 Jan 2016

Sabretung: "Conquest"

Standardised by enjoyable thrash from down under
Checking all the boxes when composing isn't everything. Sure, thrash metal bands can have shredding guitars, fast drumming and throat-tearing vocals, but it's not all you need. You'll need flow, engagement, aggression and more. Sabretung gives the middle finger to all the black metal-infused thrash bands Australia has become known for with a spell of straight up thrash metal.

NEWS: New STONE MAGNUM album "Holy Blessings to None" up for download and streaming

The Unholy Doom-Wizards Return

Indiana's prime doom metal overlords Stone Magnum have returned, three years after the release of their previous opus "From Time... To Eternity". The quintet arrives with promises of epic hooks and tales of phenomenal metal music.

27 Jan 2016

Hedon Cries: "The End of the Path is Nigh"

Going just above and beyond with a simple setup
Melody and brutality aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. While most brutal death metal bands aren't exactly known for their melodic approach, you needn't look further than the early efforts of bands such as Katatonia or Amorphis to find examples of bands that combine brutal heaviness with melancholic harmonies and focused melodies.

26 Jan 2016

Ancient Obliteration: "A Menacing Reality"

Engaging thrashy death from space
One way to stand out is adding uncanny elements, foreign bodies that at first might not feel like they fit. There's always been a fair share of bands or groups with varying types of gimmicks that often serve as placeholders for actual talent or interesting songwriting. Ancient Obliteration, a metal quartet from Canada, is a band that can be said to completely disregard tradition and the conventions of heavy metal. With a handful of released under their belt they're out to prove that alien components aren't principally useless gimmicks.

25 Jan 2016

Black Chalice: "Years of Flame"

Grotesque blows to the mind
Black Chalice mixes the stygian pitch of doom metal with tenebrous black and death metal atmospheres, soaked in lovecraftian lore and deeply rooted in deranged insanity, and distills it into a vile concoction of funeral doom metal. "Years of Flame" provides an excellent example of music nestled in the black pits of eldritch influence with sharp focus and traditional emphasis.

24 Jan 2016

Amputation Spree: "Messiah"

Unchallenging "thinking man's slam"
To some the slight difference between death metal and brutal death, and the difference between brutal death metal and slamming brutal death metal is so minuscule that they simply don't care. Admittedly these sub-sub-subgenres can be incredibly similar. Like Suffocation and Dying Fetus popularised brutal death metal, bands like Devourment popularised slam, and more and more slamming brutal death metal bands are popping up in different guises. The one-man project Amputation Spree from North Carolina labels itself as the "thinking man's slam".

23 Jan 2016

Gatling: "Absolute"

Breezing over the heavy and light-hearted
Obviously not all bands are wholeheartedly metal or solely rock based. There are countless bands in the borderlands between the two, often mixing them to a point where metal or rock is completely indistinguishable from each other. The American group Gatling provides a good example of a mix between progressive rock elements mixed with modern heavy metal parts. Their 3-track EP "Absolute" brings to mind newer Katatonia albums although there's a more assertive presence of shoegazing passages.

22 Jan 2016

Conan: "Revengeance"

When it just can't be heavy enough
Conan is one of those bands born out of good ol' frustration and wild abandon. Those feelings are well and truly evident in their screamed vocals and ultra-heavy riffs. They've had somewhat of a comet-like career, gaining a loyal audience from early on with their two EPs "Battle in the Swamp" and "Horseback Battle Hammer". If those titles don't set the mood for what the band themselves call "caveman battle doom" I don't know what does.

21 Jan 2016

Viraga: "Death of a Second Kind"

Another prog effort form the Land of a Thousand Lakes
Though the term "gothic" has meant a great multitude of things over the years, in music it usually refers to that one hard-to-identify vibe of dark melancholy, at the same time both violent and gentle. Viraga, a one man project from the cold and wet country of Finland, recalls the gothic eras of bands like Katatonia and Opeth, retaining the progressive edge that the latter made integral to their sound.

20 Jan 2016

AGGA: "Agga"

Take the trip to ancient Babylon
Folk legends and traditional mythology of old, be it Celtic, Norse, Mesopotamian or other, is as good a source of inspiration as any, and certainly helts create an atmosphere. Bands like Nile, Melechesh, Orphaned Land and Scarab are noted for their incorporation of mesopotamian, mediterranean, egyptian and oriental feels in their music, forerunning the scene that glorifies the ancient days of the cradle of civilization.

19 Jan 2016

Damnum Animus: "Forgotten by the Waves"

The return of the unlikely union
Damnum Animus, the one man band from North Carolina, experiments once again with the unlikely union of classical instrumentation and traditional black metal. The previous EP I reviewed by Damnum Animus was a confident delivery of 'sombre classically-inspired black metal' with a clear atmospheric focus, and he has clearly not abandoned his calling on this single.

18 Jan 2016

Brainerd: "Brainerd/The Goat"

Sonic suckerpunches and musical roundhouse kicks
Once in a while a band comes along that just grabs you by the balls and pulls you in with everything they've got. One such band might be Brainerd from the US. One day they'll just show up at your front door, drag you in their rusty ol' van filled with fucked up gear to produce their dirty garage sound with smashing riffs and barked vocals.

17 Jan 2016

Aortic Regurgitation: "Aortic Regurgitation"

Five ruthless broadsides from the East
I don't think anyone would argue against the impact bands like Metallica and Slayer have made on metal as a whole. While thrash metal was a while under way it has held its throne for years. Usually when it comes to thrash USA and Germany in particular come to mind. One thing is for sure, China is one of the places in the modern world you'd least expect to find it.

16 Jan 2016

Burning Caskets: "To Burn a False Prophet"

Giving Six Feet Under a run for their money
Death metal obviously has a lot of history, all things considered. You can find just about any fusion of death metal without much effort, and the death metal scene is probably one of the most active to this day. As such newcomers have a lot to prove, and standing out is tough in any genre.

15 Jan 2016

Oranssi Pazuzu: "Värähtelijä"

Soothing tales of the mind's echoing paranoia
Is there such a thing as progressive black metal? Whenever anyone adds just a tiny bit of free thinking into the stale melting pot known as modern black metal everybody has a nervous breakdown tossing the term "post black metal" at it like it cures cancer. But if there's any band out there that deserves a defining term at all, it surely is Oranssi Pazuzu. Since their debut in 2009 they've been in a state of constant roiling evolution, never quite content with their style, always pushing borders. Every album since then has had something different going on, and every time they've got new material coming out it's bound to be surprising.

14 Jan 2016

Kon Hex: "Magnetic Sun"

Black hole mantras for patient initiates
Drone, the genre of the masters of patience. There's nothing like it to remind you of your cosmic insignificance in the grand scheme of things. If you're listening in, you had better be prepared for tracks longer than most people's attention span. To some it is ambient background music, to some an active journey, a hymn set to the rumbling of the universe.

13 Jan 2016

Desiderium: "An Image of Solitude"

Scandinavian spirits in North America
Although black metal as a genre isn't that old - defined in the 80s by bands like Bathory and Hellhammer of course - it hasn't ceased to evolve and change through the years. Post 2000 there's been a substantial focus among newcomers on atmosphere and lengthier compositions, although it seems mostly like an exaggeration of the style bands like Burzum and Satyricon perfected in the early 90s.

12 Jan 2016

Benalthel: "Reach Towards the Sky"

Melodic death metal, the comic sans of metal
Commercially speaking melodic death metal is probably one of the most popular subgenres of metal. The popularity of bands like Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, In Flames and Soilwork stands testament to the appeal such bands pose. It is however also abundantly clear from the oversaturation of the melo-death scene that only very few manage to actually produce anything worthwhile.

11 Jan 2016

Thomas Taylor: "Yet to be Named"

Songwriting duo with a chip on their shoulder
Progressive metal is a genre that by its sheer nature is hard to define and classify. It is a term usually used to describe metal that doesn't fit in under any of the other numerous subgenres or metal that features a certain level of technicality.

10 Jan 2016

Damnum Animus: "Sanity: The Lies of the Father"

Stellar compositions of neoclassical under the sign of the black mark
America has made itself very noticable in these last years on the black metal scene. With bands like Absu, Ludicra, Leviathan and Xasthur, the Americans have proved their rightful place among the titans of black metal along with their European counterparts.

9 Jan 2016

Denyall: "Dehumanized"

Grooved out symphony of the night in gothic lettering
Since the 2000s symphonic and gothic metal has prospered immensely with bands like Nightwish, Evanescence, Within Temptation, Epica and Sirenia at the helm. Like with any trend, this wave of female fronted pseudo-gothic bands has spawned hundreds of bands that try to copy their sound and image.

8 Jan 2016

Second Chance - Part 1: Bombs of Hades "Atomic Temples"

Inspired by the "Giving it a second chance!" thread on the Metal Archives forum by user droneriot, who also writes at http://droneriot.blogspot.de/

Some albums just don't do it for you when you first listen to them. It can potentially ruin your enthusiasm for a band if you were really riled up over a new release. Seeing the band perform the songs live can sometimes sway you, I know it did for me when Symphony X released Iconoclast. Then there are those that don't click right away but just needs to sit for a while. Maybe even for years. There are albums that never click, usually the ones which are too different from what you'd expect.

7 Jan 2016

Commissioner: "What is Commissioner?"

An impossibility made possible
Big Chocolate, the hyperactive brain behind Disfiguring the Goddess, former lead vocalist of Burning the Masses, Abominable Putridity, Misericordiam and Malodorous, and producer, and Mitch Lucker, former lead vocalist of the deathcore titans Suicide Silence, got together in late 2009 and created Commissioner. Soon after their first track entitled Consume was conceived, and in 2010 they released the EP called What is Commissioner?

6 Jan 2016

Krotchripper & Mass Murder Messiah: "Split"

The brutal death of cavemen
Brutal death metal as a genre has had a huge surge in popularity in the last few years. The genre has been subjected to much musical advancement and has changed from the lo-fi production of the 90's to a more clean sound during the 00's. Krotchripper and Mass Murder Messiah in a sense represent much of what modern brutal death metal stands for.

NEWS: PANASONIC relaunches their flagship turntable, the SL-1200 from TECHNICS

Return of a titan
After having pulled the plug on its audio brand TECHNICS a few years ago, PANASONIC at this year's Consumer Electronics Show - CES for short - in Las Vegas announced they are going to be launching a new version of the most classic of all turntables - the Technics SL-1200 - in 2016.