Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Dollar Store Movies – Immortal Demon Slayer

Dollar Movies Header

Immortal Demon Slayer (aka The Tales of Wukong)
2017
Writer – Hai Huang, Hezai Jin, Chi-Kin Kwok, Fan Wen Wen, Henri Wong
Director – Derek Kwok
Runtime – 123 minutes

immortal-demon-slayer

Welcome to yet another movie piece. A slab of scribbles in which I waffle on about my viewing experiences with a movie I’ve plucked from my collection featuring various films picked up at the insane price of a single dollar. Obviously, there’s not much you can do with a dollar these days. Perhaps a candy bar, a bargain priced burger (you’ll need a few cents for tax depending on where you live), a taco, small fries or a thimble full of the fizzy stuff. Hardly enough to sate any appetite. So, what of celluloid purchased for the same price?

(Trailer Courtesy of YouTube Movies)

In this instance I couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for fantastical martial arts mayhem and subtitles and that’s exactly what the cover to this film promises. The accompanying text alludes to what many might know as the mystery surrounding The Monkey King. I vividly remember a series on British television in the early eighties with much the same premise which, though rather silly, was thoroughly entertaining. In recent years, actually the last twenty years or so, there have been a slew of entries in much the same arena. But what of this? Honestly, I’m not one to compare this film with the myth/folklore it’s based upon. Instead, I’ll merely talk of the film itself.

immortal demon slayer art

From the very beginning IDS offers luxurious, extravagant set pieces and costumes ranging from suits of armor to spectacularly decorated ensembles one might expect to see in The Hunger Games. There’s no doubt, even this far in, that this is a lofty budgeted affair. But it gets better. The main characters, a mischievous “Princess” (played by Ni Ni) and Sun Woking (who some might think of as The Monkey King), played by both Eddie Peng and Eddie Pang, are introduced within no time within a scene which opens the eyes and sets the bar high for the remainder of the film.

Immortal Demon Slayer setup 4 fight

Dust swirls and bodies bounce from one side of the screen to the other amidst a myriad of high wired stunts and video game styled fighting antics. Although fast and furious there’s little crimson on display keeping this at a somewhat playful level for most to enjoy. The film progresses blossoming wonderfully on the backstory of the main characters and the reasoning as to why they are the way they are. In this case there’s trouble in the Heavens, a power struggle, control issues and a debt to be settled but there’s a whole ton more than that which I will refrain from elaborating upon.  Rather than spoil any potential viewers enjoyment, I will comment on why I believe this film works.

immortal dragon slayer why dos it work

So, tell me O Wise One what makes this… watchable?

IDS (an abbreviation to save digit fatigue) boasts a fluid story line, in fact a myth which many might wish to explore further. The film sports characters one can relate to, probably not at first but as they develop and the film rolls out they begin to take on more human characteristics as opposed to the enigmatic Immortals they are portrayed as. Humor is used expertly as well as lightening the mood it works to bring many of the main characters ‘down to earth’. Obviously, one of the films major draws is its action, of which there is plenty, and brilliant choreography. Fluid, fast paced and often surprisingly inventive it will please those newcomers fascinated by the genre and those who frequently dwell in what it has to offer. Larger than life the on-screen antics frequently run into the fantastical boasting wizard-like gymnastic moves and weapons of a dazzling amorphous nature wielding continent shattering might.

immortal demon slayer weapon

Cor blimey! That’s big!

However, IDS isn’t all about conflict, unearthly weaponry, fate/destiny and revenge. It also touches upon heart break, human emotions, the perils of being Immortal, overcoming obstacles and the power of determination and dedication. Add to that scenic views which are breathtaking, backdrops which are stellar and special effects of the highest quality you have a film which delivers in every aspect. The soundtrack is grandiose, fits and adds just the right amount of emotion where it’s needed. Although there might be one or two scenes which some might find a little ‘sappy’.

immortal demon slayer a sappy moment

What. I needed something to punch and he was there!

All in all, if you’re wishing to experience a dazzling display of the surreal and the fantastical slathered in mythical themes blanketed in force of nature back flipping, spinning, high -kicking action it doesn’t get much better than this. Naturally, you have to have the patience and willingness to read SUBS while watching in order to be able to enjoy this (although I’m sure there’s a dubbed version available).  I enjoyed IDS from start to finish and honestly didn’t look at my cell phone once, either for the time or to check anything, that’s a sign of a good film, right? And this is! Make time for this especially if you’re in the market for a spot of ‘light-hearted’ escapism.

8.5

Cult

Abrasive Audio Part Eleven

black metal gif

Yea, yea. It’s been a while. Life and a myriad of other things have again managed to place obstacles in my path which have made it difficult to function as I might normally. However, I’ve managed to squeeze out a few reviews and a bunch of WTF quick ones. Some are better than none… right? I’m promoting where I can and hoping to spark interest in artists/albums which have managed to slip under my radar until now. Without further ado. May I present that which has garnered my interest as of late.

March Releases

subtype zero

Subtype Zero (USA) – Ceremonious Extinction

https://subtype-zero.bandcamp.com/

Release- March/27/2020

Seeing Red Records

ARTWORK- 74

An undeniable old school vibe within a black and white image slathered in skulls and a setting which seethes with ill intent.

FIRST TRACK- 94

Sometimes you just get a “feeling”. This is one just moment and this is an opener which is both ferocious and aggressive, making one to think this is the likely hypothetical result of Dark Angel cohabitating with Slayer.

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

One can argue Subtype Zero wear their influence on their sleeve, there’s really no denying that or the fact that this audio collection is absolute ragin’ fire. Brash, unapologetic and too GD short. Add a spot of maniacal riffery and vocals which might not fit anywhere but here and you have all the makings of a release which, alongside the newest by Razgate, is sure to be mentioned adnasium come years end. I cannot get enough of this. I will need to be forcibly pulled away this is that damn good!

Favorite Tracks; “metal thrashing madness” from beginning to end.

FFO; Slayer, Nuclear Assault, Sodom, (vintage) Pestilence, Dark Angel.

walk through fire

Walk Through Fire (Sweden) – Var Afgrund

https://walkthroughfire.bandcamp.com/album/v-r-avgrund

Release – March/27/2020

Wolves and Vibrancy Records

ARTWORK- 66

An image with what appears to be a form with prison bars taking place of a ribcage. Naturally, the meaning of this is up for discussion and really doesn’t give much away as to the style within.

FIRST TRACK- 74

Suffocating, dismal, bleak and torturous. This is sludge for those who prefer their audio from the seedier side of the tracks. Gargantuan all- consuming riffs overtop melodies hinting at everyday “wearing blinders” normalcy.

INITIAL LISTEN- 70

Bludgeoning, unmerciful and experimental in places, seriously who would expect a saxophone in the mix? But it works adding a smoky layer to a soundscape (which has multiple layers though never really hits a rhythm which many might hope, especially based upon a diet of Thrash, Death and Black metal) akin to plunging into a seemingly endless abyss.  Instances seem as if plucked from 70’s cult celluloid specifically Giallo, whereupon a menace is always present though shrouded in unmistakable enigmatic qualities. Overall, this is not for those who require instant gratification but rather for those who prefer a slow, ponderous, burn dripping in palpable atmosphere.

Favorite Tracks; Den Utan Botten, Vzgar Mot Slutet, Till Intet Gjord.

FFO; Neurosis, Fetish 69.

April Releases

the Hyss

The Hyss (USA) – Extraterrestrial

https://thehyss.bandcamp.com/album/extraterrestrial

Release- April/20/2020

Independent

ARTWORK – 73

I’m of the mind this could be a motley crew of costumed revelers doing the “Monster Mash” if it wasn’t for the strange vehicle in the background picking up victims for potential probing purposes.

FIRST TRACK – 70

Mammoth limb twitching groove, humorous lyrics with a touch of Hardcore in the vocal department. Far from the norm but I’m intrigued.

INITIAL LISTEN – 67

Plenty of hooks, groove and riffs to keep one entertained here with somewhat a ‘party vibe’ prevalent throughout. Although miles from what I would normally lay ear upon this is growing on me. A diverse stoner/rock/fuzz laden treat for those who enjoy exploring the many avenues rock has to offer.

Favorite Tracks; Extraterrestrial, In Shadows.

FFO; The Misfits, Rob Zombie, Monster Magnet, Byzantine Neckbeard.

May Releases

devangelic

Devangelic (Italy)- Ersetu

https://devangelic.bandcamp.com/album/ersetu

Release- -May/15/2020

Willowtip Records

ARTWORK- 89

Archaic, biblical, with a classical theme which grabs the attention and perks the intrigue.

FIRST TRACK – 86

Blasting, unmerciful and unrelenting. Need I add ‘brutal’? Probably not. I’m honestly not usually into Brutal Death but this introduction manages, somehow, to hit the spot.

INITIAL LISTEN – 87

Balanced precariously on the Grindcore/Brutal Death fence this collection offers blast beats aplenty, swirling chaotic rhythms, menace and diabolical essence. All channeling a dirge tone which is oddly familiar, remarkable atmospheric breaks, a production which is a little muddy (though I believe fits) and vocals which are both guttural and ferocious. Overall a fantastic introduction to a band bearing a quality which warrants undivided attention and obvious exploration of their back catalog.

Favorite Tracks; Punishing throughout!

FFO; Disgorge, Disintomb, Nile, Origin.

witnesses

Witnesses (USA) – Doom II

https://witnesses-nyc.bandcamp.com/

Release – May/31/2020

Independent

ARTWORK – 88

A vessel at sea amidst turbulent waters which seem even more than just that. With a pallet of colors which portray moodiness, sickness and a certain unmistakable menace.

FIRST TRACK – 90

Immersive, powerful and emotional. A stellar beginning to any album.

INITIAL LISTEN – 92

Imagine the vast metal spectrum as an ocean and this release a craft which sails upon it (pun intended) with no presence at the wheel. The album is much like that although controlled in a masterful way, utilizing many an element from a diverse radius of styles, as to convey a myriad of emotions whilst invoking grand cinematic imagery depicting misery, desperation, lingering hope and despair. Pianos, cellos, violins and an exquisite vocal approach, deliciously different than what’s expected, adds to the albums allure delivering anguished and melancholic tones along the way. This is a listening experience which demands the full attention!

Favorite Tracks; Haunting, grandiose and powerful throughout.

FFO; Morning Beloveth, Paradise Lost, Opeth, Novembers Doom.

violent hammer

Violent Hammer (Finland) – Riders of the Wasteland

https://violent-hammer.bandcamp.com/album/riders-of-the-wasteland

Release – May/29/2020

Hell’s Headbangers

ARTWORK- 92

An image draped in a veil of crimson depicting a brute with weapons in each hand, or body parts he’s just ripped from the surrounding mountain of inert flesh.  One could well imagine they’ve been recently utilized, or he’s (perhaps a she?) fresh from the kill, thus the reason for the claret tinted image.

FIRST TRACK- 79

There’s enough old school influence here to smack the listener back a few decades. A tone which seethes ill intent and an undeniable cavernous aura which conjures underworld ritualistic shenanigans.

INITIAL LISTEN – 81

The image about says it all. This is raw, primitive and unrelenting. Old school values are doused in Crust attitude, slathered in D-beat repetition, dipped in Grindcore sensibilities and set aflame with blackened influence. Add to these ingredients maniacal flourishes and you have a release which though certainly not for everyone (this isn’t fad metal, melodic or easy on the ears for any novices amongst us) is devastating, uncompromising and nostalgic of extreme metal from yesteryear which is just that, not in the slightest polished and sans symphonic accoutrement.

Favorite Tracks;

FFO; Sarcofago

Plucked from Metal Past

crooked horns

Crooked Horns (Sweden) – The Metamorphosis

https://crookedhorns.bandcamp.com/album/the-metamorphosis

Release-May/31/2019

ARTWORK – 88

Classical in theme the image depicts a landscape under the scrutiny of a hovering moon, a shimmering globe which reflects another (similar) identity in the water beneath.

FIRST TRACK – 90

Melodic black metal which oozes grandeur and depth complemented by a familiar vocal style and cadence (which I cannot quite place at the moment). A stellar introduction to the band.

INITIAL LISTEN – 93

Equal parts menace, ferocity and majesty with an injected classical nature this is exquisitely composed and executed Blackened Death which fans of “Storm” era Dissection are likely to accept without complaint. I’ve “placed” the familiar vocals, they’re eerily similar to that of Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell) and give this that bite which most in the same genre are missing. Fans of the genre might dwell far longer than expected here. I know I’m finding it hard to hit eject.

Favorite Tracks; This is top notch Blackened Death which delivers throughout!

FFO; Dissection, Emperor, Behemoth, Moonspell, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir.

WTF Lightning Round Reviews.

In no particular order (of title, or date) here are a handful of varied releases I’ve found myself listening to which I believe deserve more attention.

Battalion (Brazil) - Bleeding till Death

Battalion (Brazil) – Bleeding till Death

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tilsRdZ9jg

Release – March/13/2020

Artwork – 66

Ferocity – 36

Groove – 77

Infectiousness – 74

Originality – 50

Genre – Heavy Metal/Speed/Thrash/NWOBHM

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 74

Fluid rhythms, heavily accented and infectious. Boasts rough edges, primitive nature, love them/hate them vox but oozes that certain “something”.

Witchspëll

Witchspëll (Mexico) -S/t

https://witchspell.bandcamp.com/album/witchsp-ll

Release – April/30/2020

Artwork – 71

Ferocity- 30

Groove – 85

Infectiousness – 88

Originality – 60

Genre – Heavy Metal/Rock/Speed Metal/NWOBHM

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 88

Top tier Heavy Metal w. obvious influences to delight fans of the traditional roots of the scene.

Theories (USA) – Vessel

Theories (USA) – Vessel

https://corpseflowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/theories-vessel

Release – Apr/12/2019

Artwork – 72

Ferocity – 84

Groove – 73

Infectiousness – 67

Originality – 65

Genre – Deathgrind/Grindcore/Death Metal

Revisit- Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 68

Surprising “movement” and direction for an entry in the genre, varied rhythms and a multitude of blastbeats. Seethes with a primal nature and angst to please traditionalists.

Atarka

Atarka (UK) – Sleeping Giant

https://atarka.bandcamp.com/

Release – March/27/2020

Artwork – 71

Ferocity – 74

Groove – 82

Infectiousness – 84

Originality – 72

Genre – Melodic Death/Doom/Thrash

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 84

Fans of Killswitch Engaged and Paradise Lost will find plenty to like here. A wicked vocal range complements a delicious mash of styles, tracks with identity and a quality that’s surprisingly listenable throughout.

Dragon Knight

Dragon Knight (USA) – Red Mountain

https://dragonknight.bandcamp.com/album/red-mountain

Release- May/7/2020

Artwork – 76

Ferocity – 78

Groove – 75

Infectiousness – 75

Originality – 60

Genre – Grinding/Atmospheric/Cavernous/Old School Death

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 74

A welcome and abrupt dip into the early 90’s extreme audio arena complete with raunchy tone and depraved soundbites.

Mutilated by Zombies

Mutilated by Zombies (USA) – Scripts of Anguish

https://mutilatedbyzombies.bandcamp.com/album/mutilated-by-zombies-scripts-of-anguish

Release- October/5/2018

Artwork – 76

Ferocity – 78

Groove – 78

Infectiousness – 84

Originality – 60

Genre – Brutal Death/Death/Technical/Progressive Death Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 84

A mix of European and American death with intelligent arrangements and plenty of movement, light years from mindless chuggery.

Satan's Taint

Satan’s Taint (USA) – Destruction Ritual

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7sg1JEBnyo

Release – August/2/2019

Artwork –

Ferocity – 65

Groove – 72

Infectiousness – 74

Originality – 65

Genre – Thrash/Groove/Heavy Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 76

Not wholly original, in times eerily familiar, but this does hit the spot and boasts surprising dexterity for an album which one might, at first, label typical thrash.

Fall of Rauros (USA)- Patterns in Mythology

Fall of Rauros (USA)- Patterns in Mythology

https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/patterns-in-mythology

Release- July/19/2019

Artwork – 66

Ferocity – 61

Groove – 65

Infectiousness – 66

Originality – 64

Genre – Post/Progressive/Folk/Atmospheric/Black Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 72

A hypnotic blend of flowing rhythms, arrangements and ferocious black passages. Given time this is sure to climb its way to the top tier of the favorite’s playlist.

Metal Disease (Ukraine) - Deadly Attack

Metal Disease (Ukraine) – Deadly Attack

https://metaldisease.bandcamp.com/album/deadly-attack

Release – May/16/2020

Artwork – 35

Ferocity – 67

Groove – 71

Infectiousness – 76

Originality – 60

Genre – Speed/Thrash/Crossover

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 76

I didn’t expect much, especially with the middle school, heavily influenced cover art but this is surprisingly catchy, hits the spot and hints at a myriad of influence. Although it’s not too original it begs to be replayed.

 Acid Leather (USA) - Baptized in Acid

 Acid Leather (USA) – Baptized in Acid

https://acidleather.bandcamp.com/album/baptized-in-acid-2

Release – March/20/2018

Artwork – 86

Ferocity – 81

Groove – 73

Infectiousness – 68

Originality – 64

Genre – Speed/Black/Crust/Heavy Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 72

Rabid vocals complement raw percussion. A blackened tone coupled with abrupt pace transformations and a maniacal nature.

 Road Warrior (Australia) - Mach II

 Road Warrior (Australia) – Mach II

https://roadwarrior-metal.bandcamp.com/

Release – April/24/2020

Artwork – 68

Ferocity – 64

Groove – 77

Infectiousness – 76

Originality – 72

Genre – Heavy Metal/NWOBHM/Speed Metal/Power Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 76

Dramatic vocals set against a rough and ready rock soundtrack sporting catchy hooks aplenty which sounds much as one would imagine given the bands moniker. This will grow over repeated listens guaranteed!

Dog Fashion Disco (USA) – Committed to a Bright Future

 Dog Fashion Disco (USA) – Committed to a Bright Future

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IIy6ckQQd4

(Re) release – June/ 28/2019

Artwork – 65

Ferocity – 63

Groove – 74

Infectiousness – 78

Originality -82

Genre – Stoner/Experimental/Synth/Avant Garde/Metal/Bizarre

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 82

Stylistically diverse, unpredictable and surprisingly humorous yet thought-provoking throughout. Its difficult to aptly describe what’s on offer here, much easier to praise this brilliance with an open mind. Don’t let the genre descriptions turn you away this is palette cleansing highly infectious audio indeed Recc for fans of Faith no More and the like.

 Ancestral Shadows (USA) – Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore

 Ancestral Shadows (USA) – Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore

https://ancestralshadows.bandcamp.com/album/wolven-mysteries-of-ancient-lore-album-2019

Release – August/23/2019

Artwork – 78

Ferocity – 83

Groove – 74

Infectiousness – 77

Originality – 73

Genre – Black Metal/Atmospheric Black Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 79

Equal part atmosphere and ferocity this is sure to please those who delve in the ‘rawer’ waters of the genre; shallows which also provide a certain amount of presence to go with. Melodies and classical interludes make for a listen which perks even my interest and I’m not normally a fan of the genre.

mix tape action

scribblin’ like a maniac when I’m able!

And that brings this installment to a close. For those who still read my scribbles, however belated they may be, thank you. Hopefully you’ve discovered something new with this installment. I’ll attempt to add to the site whenever able with various “Brain Droppings” (thanks to George Carlin for that description) when I get the chance to. Hopefully everything goes back to a state of somewhat normalcy in the coming months.

As always don’t fear discovery of that which might normally be foreign to the senses.

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020 – Part Ten

fuk covid

…or listening to Metal!

At present these entries have transformed to a few and far between affair. And for that I apologize. It’s frustrating I’ll admit; not being able to scribble upon that which interests me and brings a spot of shining brilliance to an otherwise humdrum existence. But it’s become the norm as of late and I’m having to ‘steal’ time in order to correlate, compose and post anything. However, I’m dedicated and determined to keep this thing going, to get the word out to praise audio which, I believe, demands discovery.

Without further ado…

Plucked from Metal Past
Drontheim (Germany) Down Below

drontheim

https://wraithproductions.bandcamp.com/album/down-below

Release – February/22/2019

Wraith Productions

ARTWORK – 70

Shadows, more shadows and what could possibly be either water or an outcropping of rock. I’m not even sure. However, if the music is as dark as the image, we’re in for some gloomy, doomy audio.

FIRST TRACK – 90

This could well be the resulting mash up of Paradise Lost and Katatonia if only David Bowie were to take the vocal duties. Then add some 90’s Goth Pop, Abstract lyrics and you’re even closer to what this provides. This is miles from my usual wheelhouse of interests but I’m finding myself strangely drawn to its Alternative, Post, Progressive, Doom allure.

INITIAL LISTEN – 90

With no two Tracks here alike this (album) offers a great deal to discover and get excited about. Industrial tones, progressive arrangements and melancholy all filtered through a veil of a palpable ominous, cinematic, atmosphere. Far from harsh this provides quite the distraction from the norm and offers rhythms to sink within accompanied by a certain nostalgia whose origins only seems to escape from the tip of the tongue as the audio evolves from one track to the next. Simply put if you enjoy the unpredictable diversity of Faith No More and are open to the occasional dip into Industrial Goth and murky Doom waters this is a release you need between the ears. Keep the assumptions at bay and the mind open and this will serve excellently to break up the day’s woes adding a spark to the normalcy of the day’s playlist.

Favorite Tracks; Varied, exciting and hypnotic throughout.

FFO; Rammstein, The Prodigy, Seigmen, Zeromancer, Ljungblut, NIN, My Dying Bride, Ulver, Red Harvest, DHG, Faith No More, Peeping Tom, Anathema, Katatonia, Kent, Ved Buens Ende, 3rd & the Mortal, The Soundbyte, Calmcorder, KkoagulaA, Manes, Atrox. (This is cut and pasted from promotional materials as I fear I couldn’t quite nail its wide influence radius and promote it to the audience it deserves).

Degenerate

Degenerate (The Netherlands) Devastation Ahead

https://band-degenerate.bandcamp.com/

Release – November/15/2019

Independent

ARTWORK- 76

Simple, vivid and to the point. I like it!

FIRST TRACK- 91

It takes a few seconds to realize this is neither Grindcore, nor Tech Death, though it displays elements of both it soon finds its rhythm. This is Thrash, aggressive have no doubt of that, bordering on Melodic Death it has bite, a rabid intensity and a flow which will have the listener up and on their feet in no time. An awesome start!

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

I’m not normally a fan of thrash, unless it makes an instant impact. And this does just that! Razor wire vocals, searing riffs, amazing solos, heritage flavor and vertebrae snapping rhythms, this is just the start of the list which makes this album stand out. I cannot for the life of me wonder why this didn’t feature on a plethora of year end lists, it’s that impressive (and my neck hurts so good).

Favorite Tracks; Adrenaline spiking from start to finish!

FFO; Sepultura, (newer) Exodus, Machine Head.

Interrupting the Normally Scheduled Broadcast for Something Completely Different.

folian

Folian (USA) -Blue Mirror

https://folian.bandcamp.com/album/blue-mirror

Release- January/31/2020

Anima Recordings

ARTWORK – 72

A little artsy, but I get the point; someone has perished, possibly at sea. But is the kelp or seaweed (or is that hair?) to blame or something entirely more sinister still?

FIRST TRACK – 86

“Post Metal”, “Shoegaze”, “Doomgaze”, “Noise Rock”, “Drone”. I’m honestly not sure what either of these terms means but this has an undeniable appeal, a curious start if truth be told, and has somehow managed to capture me in its allure even though at first the track appears rather relaxed and unassuming it slowly builds into a magnificent cinematic arrangement seething with a grandiose nature.

INITIAL LISTEN – 89

Far from what I would normally place in my ear this still has an undeniable charm, a familiarity if you will which is distorted, slightly jaded, taken into Ambient and Drone realms then delivered, repackaged, slathered in each of the aforementioned elements to envelope the listener in (“spacey”) tones which effectively cover a wide radius of the emotional spectrum. There’s an aura here, a strangely relaxed one that wavers, which surpasses atmosphere, an all-encompassing vibe which transcends the typical listening experience transporting the albums audience across transcendental landscapes dotted with passion, intrigue, daunting lows and exhilarating heights. Admittedly, this is a release I had second thoughts about discovering (especially after reading the genres listed as descriptions) however after doing so I’m glad I took the plunge. This is quite simply brilliant, but keep those assumptions at bay, go into this blind without prejudices and make time for a complete listen without distraction. Guaranteed to make more of an impression the more it’s experienced.

Favorite Tracks; Enchanting throughout, this collection is downright hypnotic even though it’s far from “the usual”.

FFO; Somali Yacht Club, NIN, Oasis, Stone Roses, Nuerosis.

March Releases
Reccd by @LFCMFighter

raider

Raider (Canada) Guardian of the Fire

https://raiderofficial.bandcamp.com/album/guardian-of-the-fire

Release- March/20/2020

Independent

ARTWORK- 74

Am I about to plunge my ears into Power Metal, or audio with an Epic feel with a possible fantastical edge? Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK- 83

Well, this is hardly Power, or even Epic, metal. It’s definitely Thrash. The bang yer head wicked variety complete with breakdowns, solos and venom dripping vokills. Suffice it to say I’m diggin the shit outta this thus far.

INITIAL LISTEN – 85

Who says one can’t have a kick ass Thrash album sporting cover art which might hint at more melodic arenas, perhaps audio of a more Epic nature? But that’s not to say that this isn’t. It is most definitely guilty of having riffs (for days) and rhythms you can most certainly without any doubt lose the last vestiges of your sanity too. Also, surprisingly, leads and solos which inspire air guitar aplenty, the air of old school Heavy Metal influence is distinct yet never an element which is utilized too often. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t let the cover steer you astray. Sure, this bears fantastical elements, lyrics hinting at conflict, menacing forces and the like. If truth be uttered this precariously teases jumping the boundary of the Death fence, though manages somehow to remain firmly rooted upon the Thrash side. This is inarguably audio which incites frenetic movement, sweat and exhaustion, for this makes one move and doesn’t let up till the digit moves against all restraint to hit the play button again.

Favorite Tracks; Blistering throughout!

FFO; Sodom, Annihilator, Crusadist.

Aodon

 Reccd by @uniquehifi
Aodon (France) – 11069

https://aodon.bandcamp.com/album/1-1-0-6-9

Release – March/27/2020

Willowtip Records

ARTWORK- 70

The onset of decay or time, I’m not sure which. This gives little away as to the audio within.

FIRST TRACK- 93

A dissonant nightmarish backbone complemented by evolving rhythms and ferocious vocals. A little different than most in the same arena but it certainly makes an impact.  This is rather hard to describe easier to enjoy. An unfathomable impressive commencement.

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

This is my first experience of these guys and just… wow! Honestly, I’m always a little put off by an album which might not make sense to me on first glance, seriously what’s up the title? But after a little proddin’ (thanks to @uniquehifi on Twitter) I allowed this entry into the ears. Fuck me (I never swear, just ask the Fn’ wife) this produced an instant reaction. It’s hardly traditional, actually rather hard to describe without making people shake their heads in confusion, but it works. The style is as equally as ferocious as one is lily to hear but the accompanying rhythms which set this apart from the pack, the feel, the atmosphere, the aura. This is different, you can be sure of that but it’s not so wildly obscure as to be totally out of left field (what, a baseball reference?) Give it a chance and feel free to thank @uniquehifi too.

Favorite Tracks; Astounding throughout!

FFO; Atmospheric Black Metal with a slight Avant Garde aura and a Post/Progressive edge.

Temple of Void

Temple of Void (USA) -The World that Was

https://templeofvoiddoom.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-that-was

Release- March/27/2020

Shadow Kingdom Records

ARTWORK- 94

Exquisite inks, oozing with detail and life, displaying an arcane location, a landscape painting which seethes with ominous atmosphere. I’m left to wonder is this the bands rehearsal space?

FIRST TRACK- 92

Slow, crushing, ritualistic with an atmosphere which is palpable. Albums don’t start any better than this. Death Doom of the highest order which makes me wonder why I haven’t laid ears on this band before now.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

At times the audio sounds as if Grotesquery and Paradise Lost got together and decided to combine their most notable talents. The vocal approach is a brilliant narrative (ala Grotequery) whilst the melancholic aura and arrangements of Paradise Lost (“Shades of God”/”Icon” era) is undeniable. This combination works superbly for the first few tracks offering a depth and aura which is quite simply astounding, but the album somewhat peters out, trudging into Groove Death depths, losing some of the magic the first half exhibited (although to be fair the bar was set extremely high from the get go). Climaxing with the near ten-minute title track the album reaches near the brilliance it started with to leave the listener hungry for another listen. Overall, this is a stunning effort sure to widen the eyes of anyone unfamiliar with how the band tackle the genre they choose to manipulate. Fans of Death/Doom take note this traipses into territories, both rhythmic and arrangement, one might not predict whilst still managing to return to familiar realms without alienating the audience, only one of many reasons why this deserves a slot in the collection amidst other greats. Make room!

Favorite Tracks; The Beast Among Us, Self Schizm, The World that Was.

FFO; Paradise Lost, Grotesquery, Novembers Doom.

Razgate

Another Reccd by @LFCMFighter
Razgate (Italy) – After the Storm…the Fire

https://razgatethrash.bandcamp.com/album/after-the-storm-the-fire

Release – March/27/2020

Punishment 18 Records

ARTWORK – 89

I’m all about Fantasy. Fantasy and Horror. Combine the two, in this case a questing Barbarian confronting an enigmatic entity perched upon a mountain of skulks, and I’m a salivating fool. Such is the case here!

FIRST TRACK – 91

A classical, Baroque, introduction sets the scene for pummeling, domicile obliterating, rhythms and a vocal style which is…wait for it…eerily similar to a certain Tom Arayas. This is my introduction to the band admittedly; Consider me sold!

INITIAL LISTEN – 94

This might ruffle a few feathers (keep in mind it’s my opinion) but experiencing this for the first time is akin to my virgin experience with Slayer audio. Daaammmmnnnn-! About covers it! This checks all the boxes I require checked to be able to enjoy a Thrash album (not all Thrash is the same, no matter what your parents tell ya). And then it rips the list from my hands and sets it on fire! This seethes with Ill-intent, with no consideration for the listeners well-being, seriously else why would those responsible make this so GD infectious. There’s even slivers of traditional metal and Speed influence in here and sufficient tempo changes to make one think for a brief moment that the punishment is through (but no-!) To make matters worse (just take my wallet!). Bastids the lot of em’, here I am spinnin’ this like one possessed and the day is just slipping away. You know, I’m sure I had things to do today. Ah, well. I can see my digits reaching for the Play button, again, I have zero control. Don’t get caught in the same trap. Save yourself!

Favorite Tracks; I’m going to burn this album before I lose my sanity, my job, my marriage and did I mention control of my appendages? I probably should have started with that, have a spotter when you listen to this and ear plugs for them so they might be about to hit Stop, every once in a while, but not too often.

FFO; Slayer, Nuclear Assault, Havok, Annihilator, Sodom, Three Inches of Blood.

April Releases

Carnal Savagery

Carnal Savagery (Sweden) – Grotesque Macabre

https://carnalsavagery-chaos-records.bandcamp.com/album/grotesque-macabre

Release- April/1/2020

Chaos Records

ARTWORK – 72

It’s as though someone ripped a page out of Seagraves book, blew up the image and added a Zombie, with a few scavenging companions, with his insides falling out. There’s little doubt as to what’s on offer here.

FIRST TRACK – 82

Filthy, mid paced madness with flourishes of abruptly inciteful rhythm (to send one into a moshtastic orgasmic salivating state) oozing with the trademarked genre’s HM2 menace, enough atmosphere to sate and unhurried commanding growls. All in all, a great combination with excellent delivery. A fantastic start to get one in the old school mood.

INITIAL LISTEN – 84

As the title of the album suggests the feel of the album is one of blood, bone, carnage and obliteration. Obviously, this concept isn’t fresh, new, or even ground-breaking but is delivered here in such a way as to make the listener sit up and take note (shit, it even comes complete with atmosphere). Carnal Savagery aren’t another dime a dozen copycat act, these guys have been around (since the scenes inception). Add to that the fact that a certain Dan Swano decided to ‘help out’ and it means be prepared, as he most definitely knows his stuff and the myriad depths of the genre itself. The album itself benefits from a fantastic tone, a dirge, an electric charged distortion which recalls the heyday of the scene and the audio itself? Well, it could well have been recorded in the same era as it reeks of professionalism, wisdom and a quality which will be instantly accepted. Hardly a parody of, and miles from plagiarist material but rather an addition to that which has already left its mark. Jump on this as I can only imagine if these guys stick around, they will stand alongside Entrails, LIK and Nocturnal Hollow to hold the standard for the scene into the new decade.

Favorite Tracks; Not a single one but the whole damn thing.

FFO; Bloodbath, Vomitory, Ribspreader, Dismember, LIK, Entrails.

 Grieve

 Grieve (Finland) – s/t (12″ MLP)

https://werewolfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/grieve

Release – April/3/2020

Werewolf

ARTWORK- 86

Black and white ink mastery. A form, a ghost, a wraith looks toward the storm laden distance for meaning, as He/She does so it parts welcoming his arrival. This is my take. I could be miles away but it’s impressive nevertheless.

FIRST TRACK- 92

Malicious blizzard riffs complementing a somewhat Folksy/Viking aura with slightly Cosmic undertones. Howls and snarls makeup up the vocal accompaniment. Blanketed in atmosphere the track makes for an amazing introduction to the band and their style.

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

Only two tracks on offer here, barely ten minutes but it’s more than enough to whet the appetite for more of the same. Blistering frigid riffs, snarled venom, epic narrative lyrics and melodic majesty. This is Black metal with bite, emotion, rhythm and a smidgen of D-beat combined to leave an undeniable mark.

Favorite Tracks; Both tracks are unfathomable impressive.

FFO; The Abyss, Dissection, Emperor.

Graveir

Graveir (Australia) – King of the Silent World

https://graveircult.bandcamp.com/album/king-of-the-silent-world

Release – April/17/2020

Impure Sounds/Brilliaint Emperor Records

ARTWORK – 78

I’m honestly not sure what to think of this. An excellent shadow heavy image with hidden meaning. Guessing I need to break out my thinking cap. A skull is front and center draped in a shroud of sorts with a plethora of crosses hanging from his/her(?) neck. Perhaps she skull is surveying its domain; “The silent kingdom”. And everyone is also of the not breathing variety, thus incapable of making a sound.

FIRST TRACK – 72

Grandiose Post meets Atmospheric Black metal with wailing vocals and a rumbling dirge nature. Not entirely what I was expecting but I remain intrigued.

INITIAL LISTEN – 76

Hardly tradition Black or even Death or the “assumed” combination of the two this relies more on ritualistic dirge and borders on an industrial tone. Rhythms are often an undercurrent rather than a driving factor and cavort playfully within the arrangements. Post and Progressive properties are dominant as too an undeniable ominous nature though overall this isn’t too far from the ‘norm’ as to alienate fans of either Black or Death, although as it stands  it should appeal to those more with Cavernous penchants perhaps even Grindcore and Crust tastes as this shows slight elements from each realm also, rather than that of the straightforward chuggery variety. This has grown on me over several listens, and has blossomed to show a wide swath of influences, so I don’t expect an instant downright appreciation.

Favorite Tracks; The Fetch of Crooked, Immacolata,

FFO; Akercocke, Aodon.

Kurnugia

Kurnugia (US) – Forlorn and Forsaken

www.reverbnation.com/kurnugia

Release -April/27/2020

Momento Mori

ARTWORK- 78

I can’t get over the fact that the face reminds me of the ‘witch’ creature from the “The Dark Crystal”. Otherwise a nice image with excellent colors and details.

FIRST TRACK- 82

With an intro with sounds like a soundtrack which accompanies the money shot scene to a later day Gothic shocker questions arise as to what might be on offer. But fear not, the first real track on offer displays melodies of a remarkable nature any fan will be able to instantly appreciate. Classic Death metal ripped from the 90’s playbook strangely somewhat both American and European in tone. Chuggery and atmosphere and a vocal approach akin to that of “Corpsegrinder”. I’m all ears; this is quite the opener!

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

Grinding, rumbling Death with enough movement in its arrangements to stray from the realm of boredom. A classic of all that works merging the old school ala Bolt Thrower with a dynamic approach, barely this side of technical bordering on at times Grindcore sensibilities, and plenty of groove to carve a grin on any fans chops and keep it there. This is quite the find for any bored with the plethora of acts sounding the same ole and bringing little to the scene. These fellas know how to play, compose and deliver an album which delights.

Favorite Tracks; Top notch Death metal throughout.

FFO; Angerot, Grave, Unleashed, Benediction, Vomitory, Bloodbath, Gorguts, Morgoth.

And a new segment, because I’m literally drowning in Metal (not time) I wish to promote. Introducing; The “WTF Lightning Review”.

TUUNBAQ

TUUNBAQ (Russia) – Graves of Ice

https://tuunbaq.bandcamp.com/album/graves-of-ice

Release – September/13/2019

Artwork – 74

Ferocity – 88

Groove – 87

Infectiousness – 88

Originality – 76

Genre – Grindcore/Crust

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 87

Atmosphere, Grind, Sludge and Groove…Hell to the yes!!

Legendry

Legendry (USA) – The Wizard and the Tower Keep

https://legendry.bandcamp.com/album/the-wizard-and-the-tower-keep

Release – November/1/2019

Artwork – 74

Ferocity – 24

Groove – 72

Infectiousness – 83

Originality – 76

Genre – Heavy Metal/NWOBHM/Folk/Prog/Doom/Epic Metal/

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 84

Exquisite fantastical themed Traditional Metal bursting with nostalgia, diverse styles and an undeniably fluid nature.

Embodiment

Embodiment (UK) – Palingenesis

https://embodimentofficial.bandcamp.com/album/palingenesis

Release – April/24/2020

Artwork – 86

Ferocity – 89

Groove – 83

Infectiousness – 92

Originality – 65

Genre – Tech/Prog Death

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 91

Ungodly impressive tech/prog death w. classical elements and a hypnotic allure which is unfathomable.

Divine Chaos

Divine Chaos (UK) – The Way to Oblivion

https://divinechaos.bandcamp.com/album/the-way-to-oblivion

Release – April/24/2020

Artwork – 84

Ferocity – 75

Groove – 78

Infectiousness – 84

Originality – 60

Genre – Aggressive Thrash/Melodeath

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 83

Insanely catchy, dynamic arrangements with wicked vocals topped off by impressive production.

Destroyed in Seconds

Destroyed in Seconds (USA) – Divide and Devour

https://destroyedinseconds.bandcamp.com/album/divide-and-devour

Release – April/24/2020

Artwork – 89

Ferocity – 86

Groove – 89

Infectiousness – 92

Originality – 70

Genre – D-beat/Crust/Hardcore/Thrash/Dirge-laden Death metal.

Will I Revisit? YES

Final Score/Remarks – 91

Top of the heap D-beat with varied influence which demands ears upon it!

It is impossible to sit still while listening to this!

exhausted animal Well shit, this turned into a Thrash lovefest, I didn’t intend for it to be the case but I just so happened upon a few Releases in the genre worthy of praise. I’m still hurting from Razgate (damn you @LFCMFighter!) And I suspect it might be the case for a great many others whom stumble upon its charm unsuspectingly. Again, this has taken a while, I only wish I could do more but alas thing while Covid thing has me working and babysitting (Can I call it that if it’s my child…?) rather than working and scribbling. Although I have inserted another segment in order that I might be able to promote more albums in a timely manner.

Until next time, don’t fear discovery of that which is normally foreign to the senses.

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – Zombieland 2; Double-Tap

Zombieland 2; Double Tap
Writer – Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Dave Callaham.
Director – Rubin Fleischer
Runtime – 99 minutes

Zombieland_Double_Tap_teaser_poster

Well, Cult has gone and done it again. That is, he’s done nothing! He’s really quite unable to. Poor bastid. In between his job, the crazy business of the current situation, and looking after his frenetic toddler he’s barely enough time to make use of his RedTube subscription. Those hands must be twitching!

As if you haven’t noticed this is another zombie film review and it doesn’t take but a few seconds and a creative spin on the lady holding the torch in the (Columbia Pictures) credits to realize the same. (Another zombie film, yet another zombie film) However, this seems different than most. I’m “primed”, and in record time.

(trailer courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Much like the first installment, in this series, the narrative plays an important part; “rules” are still important (but are they really? With rules comes complacency and boredom which more often than not leads to chaos). Types of zombies are given monikers; humor is prevalent and crimson is thankfully tossed around more liberally than ‘buzz words’ in a college debate.

(ZKotY courtesy of Fandango Movieclips)

Our old heroes, each named after a memorable city (in some instances a State), are back at it. But some are getting fed up and decide it’s high time to spice things up even though they’ve just spent a great deal of time trashing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (aka The White House). The collective split into two factions and go their own merry ways. Enter an (hypothetical) esteemed trophy and the humor quotient of the film rockets into the stratosphere.  “Zombie Kill of the Week” (or even the Year) is awarded to the most inventive survivors with a thirst for that which spikes the adrenaline and ultimately keeps them alive; slaughtering the undead but in the most ingenious of ways.

zombieland 2 madison

It’s where strangers give other strangers a ride, but it’s not a Taxi service.

The film progresses. One-liners fly as often as disembodied limbs and the cast of characters (ones with a pulse) builds. “Shut the fuck up. I know what you’re about to say…she’s dating a musician.” Tensions soon become flared and opinions whiz around much like projectiles shot by drunken teenagers in a firing range. There’s even a business proposition tossed around which would make the flawed Taxi industry sit up and take note.

zombieland 2 I don't like you at all

Add in a few references to “The Brave Little Toaster” and a landmark book by Steinbeck with “Mice” and “Men” in the title and the movie keeps entertaining. But it gets better, our heroes meet their doppelgangers, come to the conclusion they are indeed annoying pricks and again are left to ponder what’s left to discover on the open road, decide it’s worth a shot and move on (drop that John Denver track here DJ).

Tallahasse Zombieland 2

Just what’s in it for me?

Include a monster truck, a Valleygirl who is rather easy to look upon, lifelong dreams of visiting Graceland, a Peace commune and the rest, as they say, is history. But let’s not forget the amazing FX (this movie has a budget), kills aplenty, Woody Harrelson and a zombie upgrade (these bastids don’t fuck around!)

I can only hope the current Covid situation doesn’t transform this planet into much the same predicament. As I for one will go back underground, wa-ay underground in fact and take my chances with quite possibly the worst boss ever (the horned bastid himself and his many minions who are most probably going to notice the undocumented time I’ve taken away from my post) and the ‘tide of stinky green’ often referred to as the amassed Goblin hordes.  Let’s face it, odds are Mr. Woody Harrelson isn’t about to leave his compound to save the world. And why would he want to? Seriously?

And that’s about it. It’s been brief for which I have many a factor to blame but most notably my penchant for gnawing on those delicious four-legged creatures known as cats.

zombieland 2 emma stone

Badass of the Zombie wastes

But in all seriousness the taste is worth all the time it takes to clean the fur from between the teeth. But back to the movie, as I’m sure Cult would wish me to come to some sort of a conclusion. By all means, check it out. It has more zombies than you can shake a stick at (literally) and Emma Stone. Did I mention this has Emma Stone  in it? (Yumm). Woody Harrelson is obviously another great reason to give this peek, but it isn’t just that. The movie has a great flow, is entertaining throughout, be it through humor or abundant grisliness and all of the characters (the main original characters) are the kind one would find it easy to root for. To too it off, for all those old school thrash fans out there it also features a Metallica classic. There’s admittedly little to complain about. Give this a spin!

B

zombieland bill murray

Zom…b…laaannnndddd!

Whoops. Nearly forgot. Stick around for the credits to hear Bill Murrays reasonings as to why he tackled a third “Garfield” (he’s a tubby little thing, I wonder what he’d taste like?) film.

Who doesn’t hate Monday’s?

Abrasive Audio 2020 Part Eight

black metal gif

Tis perilous and uncertain times in which we live. Most things have become uncertain, we are reminded to wash our hands on a constant basis (seriously who doesn’t do this anyway?) and give a six-foot berth to those we are unsure of. Isn’t this behavior dictated by manners alone. Regardless with all that’s transpiring we still have distractions. Thankfully metal is still one of them and artists are still busy composing, creating and carving that which makes out senses tingle in excitement. I’d like to dedicate this installment to them and their tireless, ceaseless dedication. Thank you! I cannot seriously cannot write those words in a large enough font. It goes without saying therefore to support your local artists and those who continue to brighten your day with the eventual realization and maturation of their endeavors.

Without further ado may I drop you abruptly into grammar atrocious as IO attempt to put into words my appreciation of that which has delighted my senses in the last week.

February Releases

Angellore

Angellore (France) – Rein ne Devait Mourir
https://thevinyldivision.bandcamp.com/album/rien-ne-devait-mourir-2
Release- February/14/2020
Finisterian Dead End/The Vinyl Division

ARTWORK- 91

A touch of Gothic, a touch of SM and a flourish of Avant Garde. Just what is it I’m letting myself in for? Regardless this is a stunning image with makes the mind wander.

FIRST TRACK- 94

A twenty-minute opener. Yes, you read that right. And this isn’t Doom. Well it is, but there’s infinitely so much more on offer that it can’t be classed as merely that. Atmosphere aplenty, Gregorian chants, a smorgasbord of vocal approaches, strings and the occasional dip into Black waters make this an audio landscape one can truly get lost within. Think early Theatre of Tragedy but amp up the emotion and classical elements, only then will you be somewhat close. Outstanding doesn’t even come close.

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

Whoa. This collection of Tracks runs quite the extensive gamut. In one instance symphonic majesty in another an uptempo Gothic rock outing of sufficient godliness to place a smile on Pete Steel’s face, in others yet a folk vibe is unmistakable. Often landscapes are drenched in melancholy and the emotion produced takes the listeners to depths rarely attained, no matter the genre. Although this is hard to truly categorize the quality on offer is far superior to that I would ever think possible in a release which exhibits as much varied influence as this. The composition is sublime, the flow exquisite and the arrangements breath-taking. This is quite the achievement, one which I can only image will be celebrated for years to come setting the bar for others to strive for. The minutes will fly when this envelops the senses, bathe in the glory of Angellore.

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic throughout.

FFO; Moonspell, Theater of Tragedy, HIM.

March Releases

Shadowkillers

Shadowkiller (USA)- Dark Awakenings
https://shadowkiller.bandcamp.com/album/dark-awakening
Release- March/3/2020
Stormspell Records

ARTWORK- 88

Flinging open the doors a Dark Elf sees carnage and readies him(her)self for conflict. Awesomeness. An epic fantasy image hinting at audio of the same nature. Is it too early to say I’m sold?

FIRST TRACK- 90

A fantastical introduction and an Epic/Power metal style minus the falsetto vocals I was expecting. Top notch arrangements and a lyrical narrative I’m wholly intrigued by. I believe I’ve found a rarity here, but only time will tell…

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

Admittedly, this is the first I’ve heard of the band. The genre really isn’t my go to audio arena of choice. However, with that being said this offers a great deal to pique my interest. A stunning blend of Epic/Power/Speed and traditional Heavy Metal and lyrics basted in a fantasy vibe which only makes me wish I’d have tried harder at penning fiction of the same ilk. Shit, it even contains keyboard passages reminiscent of vintage Dio fronted Rainbow (my weakness). The vocals are thankfully more gravelly than falsetto though still firmly rooted in the traditional and are easily decipherable to the point of drawing the listener into the story which unfolds as the album progresses. The arrangements here are superb, complete with cinematic atmosphere which only adds depth to the albums lyrical concept. Rhythms and riffs are fluid and convey a wide variety of emotions effectively. I never thought I’d say this but I believe I’ve found an album in this arena I can preach about, honestly the first since Riot’s “Thundersteel”. If the genres mentioned above are to your liking you cannot allow yourself to miss out on this! As a non-genre fan, I’m loving it. I can’t imagine how much of an impact it’ll make on one whose penchants run to more the melodic and epic than extreme.

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic and enchanting from the first to the last

FFO; Magnum, Iron Maiden, Rhapsody, Ancient Empire, Primal Fear, Savatage, Blind Guardian.

dopelord

Dopelord (Poland)- Sign of the Devil
https://dopelord.bandcamp.com/album/sign-of-the-devil
Release March/10/2020
Independent

ARTWORK- 85

A gloriously archaic/medieval styled image depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse but dressed in their everyday garb sans disguise.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Dangerously infectious Doom with Cathedral, Trouble and obviously Sabbath undertones. Drenched wickedly in classical horror themes this gives off a delicious vintage aura. I’m hooked where’s my Lazeboy at?

INITIAL LISTEN- 87

Pulsating, throbbing riffs with seemingly a life of their own, fuzz dripping, spesker shaking distortion and a smidgen of psychedelia. Sounds like most Doom releases, right? It does, but this is surprisingly varied in its approach whilst still hanging onto traditional parameters. Ranging from melodic, to synth laden to a track with a somewhat industrial motif and saturated in occult themes this has a great deal to offer both the Doom aficionado, newcomer and casual listener alike. I’m not typically a fan of the doom genre this however is heavy in my playlist rotation.

Favorite Tracks; infectious and varied throughout.

FFO; CoC, Cathedral, Black Sabbath.

Venator

Venator (Austria) – Paradiser EP
https://venatorsteelcity.bandcamp.com/releases
Release-March/19/2020
Independent

ARTWORK- 76

Just me or does the cover have a slight Quiet Riot struck by lightning vibe? Or Iron Giant (inhuman form) going slightly bonkers? This screams late 70’s early 80’s without any doubts whatsoever

FIRST TRACK- 89

Hard rock meets NWOBHM meets mid- era Judas Priest. This is addictively melodic with some wicked twitch the limbs riffs. But let’s not forget the delicious production which lends this a nostalgic edge.

INITIAL LISTEN- 89

This checks all the boxes I would hope for in a release slathered in vintage values. The rhythms on offer are ungodly infectious, the instruments clear, the leads and solos passionate but not overly so and the vocal style has just a hint of falsetto (in the right places, to mynliking anyhow) without going into overly dramatic realms and without losing any of its manly bravado. The tracks are offer we a fantastic taster for what’s to come, hinting at both fantastical lyric narratives and other themes which are more easily identifiable to those of us without a unicorn parked in the shed or a tattered DnD rulebook close at hand.

Favorite Tracks; Paradiser, Blind Ambition.

FFO; Judas Priest, Blitzkrieg, Tank, Dokken.

Virocracy

Virocracy (Germany) – Irradiation
https://virocracy.bandcamp.com/album/irradiation
Release- March/20/2020
Black Sunset/MDD

ARTWORK- 84

Strange that the sky and landscape are the same color. Chem trails, Pesticides, is that a mushroom cloud, or slightly perturbed smiley faces ? Insert your theory here but there’s definitely something afoot in this vivid apocalyptic themed image.

FIRST TRACK- 77

A typical of the genre ominous intro opens this album then it’s into familiar waters. Atmosphere and melody collide along with a progressive aura and rhythms ala Arch Enemy (this also sports impressive feral female vocals). Moving with dynamic twists and turns sans repetitive chuggery this track bodes for an impressive collection of Tracks in store. an impressive start.

INITIAL LISTEN- 77

The intro to “Rane” is an album highlight, sounds as if lifted from a ‘moneyshot’ scene in a Sci-Fi film and is, in part, eerily topical. The remainder of the album cannot truly be comfortably pigeonholed. It runs with a Progressive nature, arrangements which transform constantly to aid a concept narrative. The style also dips into Thrash realms and occasionally into Tech and Djent arenas based on its not relying on typical chuggery but rather melodies which are dynamic, exciting and rarely stagnant. Give this a shot, it’s a fantastic debut and bodes well for an act starting to find their niche.

Favorite Tracks; Rane, Solitude, Void of Heart.

FFO; Angela era Arch Enemy, mid era Death.

black phantom

Black Phantom (Italy) -The End is Near
https://blackphantom.bigcartel.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgaySL5pP9M
Release- March/20/2020
Punishment 18 Records

ARTWORK- 78

A fantastical sludge-like monstrosity is depicted against a background drenched in an ominous nature (yellows and greens of a hue which brings to mind imminent doom). A vintage hourglass in the foreground, in the creature’s grasp, adds weight to the album’s title. Is he the Grim Reaper or merely a “Stranger in a Strange Land” without a battery-operated torch? Perhaps the music will help to answer these questions? Perhaps not. But I’m hitting play regardless.

FIRST TRACK- 81

Galloping rhythms, a traditional NWOBHM aura and a style which brings to mind both vintage Maiden and Wolfsbane. Add to that a vocal style akin to that which Bruce Dickinson boasts and you you have the start of a release which is promising indeed. Though might turn some off based on its approach.

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Distinct bass, a familiar vocal style pulled off with significant ant range and an aura which screams Iron Maiden worship, but also that of others making waves around the same time. Dynamic rhythms, soaring leads, solos and undeniable fluidity throughout. At times Maiden esque, in others more akin to Dickinson’s solo material in feel, in others yet more a hard rock rather than a traditional metal approach. Whatever the case; this delivers. It shows creativity in its composition (this is familiar yet not to point of riff for riff plagiarism), sports intelligence in its lyrics and is sure to make an impression for those yearning for audio of undeniable quality with a distinct Maiden ‘edge’ (did I say Maiden enough here?)

In closing, I find it somewhat strange that an Italian act would make a German version of a track featured in the album but this seriously only adds to the intrigue this album sports. Did I mention I’ve listened to thus six times already? Nope? Well, it’s good. Discover it for yourself and tell me your thoughts.

Favorite Tracks; Redemption, Hordes of Destruction, The Road, Either You or Me, Hands of Time.

FFO; Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson (solo material), Iced Earth.

Graceless

Graceless (The Netherlands) – Where Vultures Know Your Name
https://rawskullrecordz.bandcamp.com/album/where-vultures-know-your-name
Release- March/27/2020
Raw Skull Recordz

ARTWORK- 78

This has an archaic apocalyptic vibe, Pompeii perhaps? And brings to mind Immolation (for one reason or another) complete with a smoldering lava aura the image invokes both despair, destruction and desolation. I’m left intrigued… hitting play.

FIRST TRACK- 86

The introduction seethes with a tribal and readying for war tone which soon transforms into a pulsing dirge. However, veins of melody and effective atmosphere add considerable depth to make this different than most. An intriguing start which although in tone is familiar is also oddly a mixture of influences making it quite unique.

INITIAL LISTEN- 93

It would be simple to merely label this as Bolt Thrower-esque material and be done with it; the unmistakable aura is there, the tone, the war motif. But this is slightly different and that’s what separates it from the herd (who apparently all seem to be riding the same coat tails). There’s undeniable presence (love that word!) here, a depth which only a rare few have managed to effectively capture. An epic nature only occasionally experienced in audio of this nature. And it’s the ease of execution which captures the senses, this doesn’t seem forced. Familiar, strangely so in some instances, yet flowing with a life of its own. And there’s even a spot of diversity, passages of groove, amidst a track designed to shake things up, to send the limbs a twitching. Prefer mid-tempo to face searing speed? Like a little sludge with your growling? It honestly doesn’t get much better than what’s on offer here. Sink in, allow this time and you might find it difficult to eject it from the playlist. You have been warned!

Favorite Tracks; Much like spending a distracted moment in quicksand this will eventually swallow your being. Nope. I can’t pick one, two or even, three tracks as favorites; this whole album rips!

FFO; Bolt Thrower, Vital Remains, Deicide, Memoriam, Hail of Bullets, Vallenfyre, mid era Slayer.

perdition temple

Perdition Temple – Sacraments of Descension
https://perditiontemple.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/27/2020
Hell’s Headbangers Records

ARTWORK- 89

I don’t think this is a meeting of the minds so much as a weekly event. A tabletop RPG convention of sorts perhaps or the Underworld Book Club? I’m only left wondering who’s left looking after the wee cherubs.

FIRST TRACK- 93

This track goes straight for the jugular, no glitter intros no atmospheric submergence into cinematic realms this hits hard, aims for the nearest major artery and grabs the attention instantly. Writhing rhythms complemented by bestial vocals and evolving galloping passages topped off by abrupt dousings of diabolical essence but my words don’t come anywhere near to doing this justice. Strap yourself in folks this is gonna be a bumpy ride!

INITIAL LISTEN- 96

Churning riffs and a mischievous diabolical nature sees one initially think vintage Morbid Angel worship slathered in an Incantation aura yet it isn’t just that and it isn’t quite that simple. Vicious intent rhythms put one in mind of Vader whereas maniacal solos and leads bring to mind early Slayer, vintage Witchery, as well the undeniable influence mentioned above, a prancing impish maniacal nature is injected throughout to the point that when playing this you can literally smell Sulphur and hear the tippy tap of cloven hoofs on hard packed dirt. An air of cloying menace blankets the experience and its one the listener will only want to punish their senses with again and again. This is top notch archaic elevator music (naturally it’s nothing like the drone elevator tunage most of us are accustomed to) wicked, unrelenting, maniacal and instantly appreciable this could well be the soundtrack to the decent into the office of the ‘Horned One’ himself. Honestly, this is hands down my favorite release of the year so far, each time this plays my torso is sent into spastic movements, which isn’t a pretty sight in the slightest.

Favorite Tracks; Blistering throughout this will not disappoint!

FFO; Incantation, Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel, Immolation, Goatwhore, Gravehill, Vader.

Left over from 19’

Remission

Remission (Australia)– The Tether’s End
https://remissionband.bandcamp.com/
Release – November/15/2019
Self-Released

ARTWORK – 68

I’m honestly not sure if that’s the Earth (I’m not sure how it could be) or the Moon in the Hangman’s noose, regardless it tells a great deal of what the band wish to convey. A primitive image which makes one think though doesn’t necessarily give much away in relation to the type of audio within.

FIRST TRACK – 81

Zero introduction here, this commences with rocket fuel propulsion straight from the gate. Wicked infectious rhythms coupled with melodic breakdowns and vocals typical of the ‘thrash drenched in death sensibilities’ genre. On its description alone this sounds similar to what the remainder of the genre offers though it has a certain something, a blistering and well-executed riff meets technicality element, which elevates it from the masses. A great start!

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Think Thrash meets Death balanced precariously on the Deathcore border and you’ll be close to what this offers. Aggressive blistering rhythms, technical phrasing within dynamic arrangements which any fan of the genre is likely to fall ‘ass over tit’ for in appreciation. Complex and tight are key elements here although this is only partly Technical it hints at a style which could well transform that way completely at any given moment (in the future perhaps?) Flourishes of other styles are evident throughout this album also; Djent rears its head, Crossover influence pops up via gang vocals choruses as well Post (whatever that in fact is). Another element is the albums atmosphere, which is plentiful, alongside the other mentioned factors as well the fitting though strangely discernable vocal style it makes a fantastic companion to the albums (Thrash) foundation. Overall, and although this style isn’t really anything new the band have obviously done their homework for this delivers what fans of the genre demand; it has excitement, unpredictability, expertly-placed breakdowns and passages of abrupt whirlwind ferocity one can lose their shit too. This does more than entertain, it makes a bold statement (especially based on the fact it’s the band’s first full-length outing) Remission aren’t fukin’ around. Sit up and take note as if they progress in this fashion these guys might well be the next big thing.

Favorite Tracks; Mother War, Temples, Black Scorched Earth, The Tether’s End, Transcending Chaos, Forced Entropy,

FFO; Sylosis, Black Dahlia Murder, Trivium, Psycroptic.

And Now for Something Slightly Different

Rodrigo Y Gabriella

I’m not usually into acoustic music. However, after experiencing the first track listed here, I was of the mind that I should write a few words in appreciation.

Rodrigo Y Gabriella – Mettal (Ep)
https://rodrigoygabriela.bandcamp.com/album/the-mettal-ep
Track listing;
Battery (Metallica)

Undistorted acoustic guitars can indeed be heavy and this proves it. Add a little Latin flavor, plucking, picking, fretboard manipulation godliness and a little creativity and this classic now has the presence to appeal to a new audience, one that possibly would’ve never heard this track otherwise. The perfect timing, phrasing and arrangement is what holds the attention here but it’s the talent and ingenuity (which more than make up for the absence of vocals) which makes this mesmerizing. An outstanding homage to the original though strangely with added oomph.

megadeth holy wars

Holy Wars (Megadeth)

Intricate, passionate and overflowing with energy whilst still remaining faithful to the original. I’m not sure how the pairing did it but this seems infinitely more grandiose than the original, this shines with an added sheen, a depth, a western aura but also a frenetic nature adding to the Tracks narrative (for those familiar, for those not do much it’s easy to figure out as the caliber showcased here invokes vivid tableaus) which is altogether hypnotic. Words fail me. Much like the ‘source material’ this demands discovery and showers of praise.

slayer seasons in the abyss

Seasons in the Abyss (Slayer)

It appears that I’m mentioning this more than I thought I would, however this is again an amazing example of the presence, power, depth and emotion one can bring to an already established track with only using acoustic instruments. In this case the air of sinister and ominous is palpable. As well as using traditional means the musicians here implement hands on the body of the guitar for added weight and boy does it work invoking images of dimly lit subterranean passages, flickering candles and archaic ceremonies (obviously “South of Heaven” in tone but I’ve always thought this track reminded me of that album). Again, there’s a certain Latin flavor here but it adds flair and bite making for another track which is undeniably astounding.

This three track EP showcases the brilliance and awe-inspiring adaptability of two seasoned musicians. In somewhat adapting (minutely to be fair) the three Tracks on offer they’ve undoubtedly introduced a whole new generation to acts they might never have heard otherwise and reminded long-time fans why the tracks chosen are so important to the genre. I honestly can’t say good things about the audio on offer here, I’m enthralled and can’t help but sing along. Admittedly it’s the first I’ve heard of the dueling guitar duo but it won’t be the last. Apparently, there’s more to discover, and I’m up for the challenge.

Animal - music is meant for sharing

Becus’ great music is meant to be shared!!

And that concludes another foray into the extreme audio realm. Stay safe out there folks. As always feel free to comment, share and/or suggest anything you think I might be interested in covering.

Yours, virus free (for now)

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – The Hunt (Quick Review)

The Hunt (“A rapid get this done before it’s time to pay” review)

The hunt-poster

The Hunt (USA) 2020
Director – Craig Zobel
Writers- Nick Cuse, Damon Lindelof
Runtime – 89 minutes
Blumhouse productions, White Rabbit

I’ll make this quick. I don’t have much time, I’m squeezing in a few minutes of scribbling following the screening while the wife gets a Pedi/Mani (nope, I’m out! No one touches my feet!)

Commencing with a grandiose soundtrack reminiscent of epic features of yore The Hunt starts off on a great footing, I’m excited already. Cut to the first scene – a luxurious aircraft in which a collective of well-too-doers (whatever that means; in short people with money and positions of esteem) are busy “subduing” someone who has apparently “woken up too early”. The mind spins, the word “Hostel” comes to mind, an ‘unfortunate’ is dragged back into the cargo hold and the movie continues.

Trailer courtesy of amazingMOVIEtime

Cut to a wooded area and a small, varied, assortment of confused individuals awakening with bits (I believe that’s the term) attached to their mouths. Yes, this seems uncomfortable enough, but it gets worse.

The Hunt the crate

But I can’t find one that’s vegan!

The appearance of a crate boasting varied weapons raises a few eyebrows whilst the sudden whizzing of bullets shreds said eyebrows and sinuous attachments into naught but crimson clouds. The frantic group soon find their bearings, a small fence and come to the realization that most have already been picked off.

Unlike most, The Hunt starts at an adrenaline spiked pace and rarely let’s up. Several characters have been introduced (but don’t get attached. Whoops!) as well their flaws. But those running still only have only the slightest inkling as to why they are in the situation. To make matters worse they have no clue as to where they might be.

The Hunt

But…I’m American!

Ingenious twists and turns (otherwise known as Red Herrings) aid the narrative in its flow and in little time the viewer has a better understanding as to what is in fact transpiring.

Who to trust, who can you trust and why should one? Many questions exist with one thing being plainly obvious; someone is having fun at the expense of another. The reasons as to why this is the case is carefully intertwined in a myriad of factors including conspiracy theories, the court of public opinion, stereotypes and numerous ideologies. One might immediately think ‘Class Warfare’; rumors exist that the films original title was “Red State versus Blue State” which have since been dispelled, whether they held merit, or not. Delicious dialogue interactions throughout might make the viewer ponder upon all manner of opinions and reasoning.

The Hunt reserved for the boudoiur

mmm…hhrrrr…mmmhhhh (and assorted other garbled mumbling)

Without ruining that which might already have been depicted in the trailer I’ll state that the characterizations here are humorous, varied, familiar and often surprising given that which many characters boast.

The Hunt is rooted upon the foundations laid down by such ‘classics’ as “Manhunt” (which I’ve just covered here), “Turkey Shoot”, “Hostel” and numerous others whose titles escape me at present while also boasting dialogue interactions which put one in mind of Tarantino- esque affairs.

Turkey Shoot movie

The action is top-notch (including more than merely the atypical cat n’ mouse scenario one might expect) the tension well-crafted aided by an excellent score/soundtrack and the scenarios which unfold vaster in scope than that depicted in many a similarly themed feature before.

For those who might be on the fence (check first. It might be electrified) this contains enough grisly explosions, gouging, shootings and unflinching brutality and even numerous surprisingly well-choreographed fight scenes to sate. Though, thankfully, it doesn’t sink into OOT realms which would glorify or put one in mind of a Cult Italian or Troma production. Occasionally, the unflinching factor is turned down.

The hunt fkn ouch

Fkn’ ouch!

The result of some actions are left to the viewers imagination, seriously when it’s that obvious one doesn’t need to see it in glorious technicolor, this is a nice touch (as too, for me, the exquisitely delivered grisly bits). The result is a feature which could well be placed in either the thriller, action or horror genres comfortably.

The enigmatic/mysterious factor is played well to the point that one of the main characters isn’t unveiled until well into the second act. The main character isn’t unveiled until deep into the first, keeping the viewer on their seat wondering if they are in fact going to perish as quickly as the others (whoops. Spoiler alert!) In regards to the main character; She (probably not as huge a spoiler as the others before it?) is portrayed brilliantly, kudos to Betty Gilpin for such a strong Femme Fatal portrayal which is sure to be remarked upon for years to come, retains a mysterious aura (what’s up with all this ‘mystery’ amidst such unrelenting bloodshed and carnage?) and truly doesn’t show her cards until the film’s final act/stanza (call it what you will).

the hunt femme fatale

In short, I need to get this wrapped up, (it’s time to pay) without dropping any more spoilers. I’ll gladly state this was fun from start to finish though admittedly a little predictable in places. However, the pace so fluid, the characters so enjoyable, and the dialogue refreshing (even that concerning “Grilled Cheese sandwiches”) though often doused in dark humor, as to make one not linger upon such things.

The Hunt how to make a good grilled cheese

Lets not concern ourselves with cheese

In conclusion, and because it’s time to break out the wallet for yet another Anniversary gift, give this a chance before you write it off as just yet enough survival feature. The Hunt is vastly entertaining, smirk inducing, often thought provoking and most importantly fun! And has earned my stamp of approval.

Fun fact;

The most dangerous game book

Because no movie review is complete…without the picture of the book it’s based upon.

Heavily influenced by Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game”, “The Hunt” now nestles amidst a myriad of others (including “The Pest”, “Hard Target”, “Surviving the Game” and “The Eliminator”) with much the same premise (imagine that!) for those whose penchants run to binge watching similar features, film comparisons (be it scene by scene or otherwise) and/or discovery of  directors whose works remain relatively unknown.

 

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020 – Special Edition; Part the Second

(Another collaborative effort with a few friends)

Abrasive Audio Special Ed 2020 Paty 3

This installment is the second in a Special Edition Series. And again, sees a collaborative effort with friends (whose opinions I respect) from as far afield as the releases featured within. But before we dive in first a few words from Drew

metal cactuses

A gathering of “Metal Cacti”, how about that?

Greetings from the deserts of Arizona.

When I was first approached about the idea of writing this intro, panic and fear consumed me. “What should I say?” “When do you need this by?” and “Please tell me you don’t need it by tomorrow” were several of the thoughts that crossed my mind. After my good friend Cult here was able to reassure me that he wouldn’t need it until “Monday or Tuesday,” a wave of relief washed over me.

“Thank God” I thought. “That gives me at least four more days to put this off until the last minute.” And here’s where my sloth bites me once again.

My house is sick. More specifically, my wife is sick. She has been on death’s door since Saturday. And while I’m never one to panic or overreact, I’m going to just go ahead and officially call this one as Corona virus (I can’t prove it is, but you can’t prove it’s not. And that’s how science works.)

Fast-forward to today and guess who woke up feeling like aged dog shit. By now you should have guessed that would be me. So, what does any of this happen to do with the latest trove of reviews? I have various fluids starting to seep from orifices above the neck. I have slight chills. I have some body aches. I’m also developing a fever blister radiating across my lip and into my face creating an almost offset cleft palate. Combine all those factors together and I’m slowly transforming into something of a Sam Raimi prop reject worthy of a Goregrind cover. Perhaps even for one of the multitude of bands you have read about and will read about here. And it really doesn’t get any more metal than that. So, without further ado…

Onwards to this installment’s selections dedicated, yet again, to a few which apparently…

Slipped Through the Cracks
(Releases of 19′ which I have somehow missed)

Obviously, this isn’t all or even close to those I’ve failed to cover before but rather a handful which have fallen under most radars though still deserve attention.

altarage

Altarage (Spain) – The Approaching Roar

https://altarage.bandcamp.com/album/the-approaching-roar

Release- January/27/19

Season of Mist Underground

ARTWORK- 73

Hardly typical of an image one might normally find within the genre, this nods at audio with the words post and complex in its description. Something sinister is afoot here, these aren’t forms frolicking in shallow depths those depicted here are done frolicking in any way shape or form. There’s a story behind this image and I am intrigued.

FIRST TRACK- 80

Suffocating, all- consuming and claustrophobic. This creates a diabolical atmosphere and embellishes upon it crushing the listener into absolute submission. From a tranquil start to an abrupt cataclysmic apocalypse the transformation is shuddering.

INITIAL LISTEN- 82

More a harrowing experience than a listen, this is what I’m imaging the onslaught of the apocalypse might sound like if one is floundering under water perilously close to drowning. Intricacies flow like blood through a frenzied pumping vein through the audio. Nuances adding to the aura of absolute annihilation and yet there’s also moments of nothing, an ominous silence, as if one has lost consciousness only to be plucked from the brink. But it’s not over. Much like Bolt Throwers “Realm of Chaos” this is also undeniably enveloping audio but here it isn’t a narration telling of unmerciful conquest and advancement by way of city sized industrial death machines but rather being a witness, a participant, in what feels like the very end. An Approaching Roar signifying the climax to all.

Favorite Tracks; Sighting, Urn,

FFO; Pa Vesh En, Blood Incantation, Tomb Mold, Portal.

Need a Second Opinion?

atomic heartbeep on twitter

Here’s a few words from Dan, a fellow Brit who added to the sites Best of lists with a handful of intriguing picks I’ve still yet to dive into. He can be found on Twitter displaying his love of Transformers masquerading as @Drachenstrum711

Altarage are a band who have somehow evaded my radar with their releases up until now, and I was only fortunate enough to hear of them through Cult.

“The Upcoming Roar” starts in a very deceptive fashion before exploding from the speakers in a barrage not unlike Incantation battling with Altarage‘s countrymen, Wormed. The overwhelming darkness of that opening salvo continues throughout, with the vocals being quite low in the mix adding to the air of desperation coming from the record. It grinds along with a dissonant fury until the velocity suddenly dissipates into unsettling droning sections, adding a whole new dimension to their already original sound. An extremely refreshing take on modern Death Metal, it picks up the gauntlet of Gateways-era Morbid Angel and pulls it through barren darkness until only a smoking skeleton of that sound remains. It certainly deserves a lot more recognition than it received last year and easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the best releases of 2019.

wilderun

Wilderun (USA) – Veil of Imagination

https://wilderun.bandcamp.com/

Release- November/1/19

Independent

ARTWORK- 74

Its rather hard to tell what this is, though a bouquet of flowers growing from a dead tree is rather close (I believe). The more I look however the more I’m of the understanding that this could be something else entirely; new intricacies and details pop each and every time I rediscover this. I’m intrigued and this is not at all what’s typical of the art which adorns the albums which normally caress my senses.

FIRST TRACK- 93

Spoken word poetry is the first thing to pass the eardrums, this might make many ponder on what’s to come. But have no fear the pace soon picks up but not first before offering perhaps some insight into what this might offer in its totality; an undeniable presence, a depth, a weight of sorts which is sure to make an impression (as weight often does!). With the pace comes at atmosphere as well a familiar aura. Spoiler alert this sounds like certain Opeth audio but with an added and considerable cinematic oomph behind it. But it doesn’t end there, the track meanders across many a landscape in its close to fifteen-minute length. Progressive and driving rock elements are front and center as the track nears its finale, as well a passion which cannot be ignored. All this in a package which screams excellence in both composition and creativity. I cannot believe this is the first I’m hearing of Wilderun, although I had been hearing whispers as the past year waned to its culmination. An exquisite way to start an album.

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

A stunning tapestry rich with depth, intricate melodies, plentiful detail and a perfect balance of ‘beauty and brawn’. Styles are as colors plentiful and blending together seamlessly whilst still standing proud and distinct. A powerful narrative invokes strong emotions, utilizing as it unfolds a myriad of differing rhythms and vocal styles, even what sounds to be a full chorus of voices for beyond cinematic effect. Progressive, progressive metal (for they are two different genres), power metal, symphonic, rock, folk, death/doom, melodic death and more. This album about runs the gamut (save for the darkest end of the extreme spectrum, although some instances do put me in mind of Cradle of Filth’s “Damnation and a Day” album, while others make me reflect upon the Opeth releases which I’ve enjoyed) and delivers throughout while offering an unpredictable nature and intricacies which only unfold following numerous listens. Simply stunning doesn’t even come close to what this offers! It need saying if only I had discovered this that much sooner there’s no doubt it would have featured in the Year End Review/List it took me so damn long to compile.

Favorite Tracks; Distracting from start to finish in the best possible way.

FFO; Opeth, Amorphis, Between the Buried and Me, Devon Townsend, Gates at the Morning, Rhapsody, Akercocke.

Need A Second Opinion?

rickmassive

Here’s a few words from a pal in Canada who will be releasing a single and an album very soon which we are both very excited about. He can be found on Twitter as @rickmassiemusic Visit his website; http://rickmassie.com/ and show support for someone who’s always happy chatting it up about all types of extreme audio. Here are his thoughts;

 Wilderun is a band whose name kept popping up in my Twitter feed, so often in fact, that I eventually decided it was time to take a quick listen. I find it hard to make time to discover new music these days, but something about the many conversations going on about the band gave me the indication that they might have something special going on. So, I checked them out, starting with their newest album, “Veil of Imagination”.

First off, the cover art is a thing of beauty. And discomfort. And strange, lovely grotesqueness. Which actually fits the music within quite well.

Dark, epic, melodic, and at times uplifting. From the very beginning, you feel as if you’re immersed in a fairytale – sometimes dark, sometimes bright – with a soundtrack by the finest folk moments you’ve heard from Amorphis. Before long, it veers off into vast soundscapes of ugly dissonant death metal riffs, that are somehow lovely, despite the ugliness. Think Opeth in their weird-but-heavy moments (“My Arms, Your Hearse” and “Still Life”). Or some of Edge of Sanity’s groovier DM sections. And then… black metal. Then folk. Then prog-laden synth sections.

This music is a bit more like a journey, or a wonderfully written film or book, except expressed in purely musical terms, as opposed to being expressed through words or visuals.  It doesn’t sit still – moving from one riff to the next seamlessly, changing time signatures, tempos, and never seeming like anything is disjointed (except for some moments when it completely intends to do just that, to make you feel uneasy) and never feels forced. There seems to be clean vocals for a little over half of the vocal sections (mid-range vocals, not high-pitched, and not super-low. Like a bard serenading trolls in the forest), and are often accompanied by mixed choir-like groups of low-pitched male voices. The death vocals are clear, mid-to-low-range, but easy to understand. Definitely reminiscent of Opeth and Dan Swano (who coincidentally mixed the album.)

The album never gets boring. I myself get bored with music quickly if it sounds like something I’ve heard before. “Veil of Imagination” sounds fresh and unique, almost as if it’s intentionally trying to catch you off guard. With some of the riffs and sections, you think you know what chord is coming next, but Wilderun proves you wrong each time. Those moments of surprise are one of the things that will keep me listening to this for a long time.

The music flows seamlessly into sections of very cinematic compositions, as if it’s meant to play behind some dark, fantasy film. Orchestras, violins, and flutes all make an appearance in the folky and fantasy-like sections. In the death and black metal moments, the band wouldn’t feel out of place on stage with Opeth. In the acoustic moments, there are visions of Jethro Tull and Amorphis uniting into a prog supergroup.

I particularly loved the way the 2nd-last track (“The Tyranny of Imagination”) threw me off. At the end of the track, I thought it must be the album ending, So, imagine my excitement when it turned out that there was still one more song, nearly 12 minutes long. It starts with a lone piano piece, and vocal accompaniment, eventually working its way into the most glorious and epic moments on the album, and the weirdest. It’s the kind of album ending that you keep coming back for, one that pulls you to re-listen to the full album just so you can relive that epic last track in the context of the full album.

Then, when it ends, you’ll feel uncomfortable, as the last melody and harmony makes you feel nearly sick. In a delightful way, of course.

And that’s my take on this album. Beautiful and ugly. Melodic and dissonant. A pleasant sickness, that you don’t want to go away.

brotthogg

Brotthogg (Norway) – Echoes from the Past

https://brotthogg-no.bandcamp.com/album/echoes-of-the-past-special-edition

Release- July/31/19

Independent

ARTWORK- 80

A wicked jumble of accoutrements and remains (bronzed skeletons, skulls and bones) and this is framed which makes the image all the more oddly intriguing. Strangely reminds me of the 18’ release from Ironflame (“Tales of Splendor and Sorrow”).

FIRST TRACK- 88

Wicked mischievous riffs, rhythms of a pace which could strip paint from the walls, an undeniable ‘presence’ and a style which incorporates elements from a slew of genres including black, death, traditional and pagan metal. This has my attention!

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

For some ungodly reason the band’s name puts me in mind of “Dukes of Hazzard” (anyone else?) The similarities thankfully end there. Imagine if Dissection (“Storm of the Lights Bane” era) was pissed off force of nature fast with a fine gossamer symphonic veil, exhibited flashes of power metal guitar brilliance and other instances which invoke Bathory, Satyricon, and Cradle of Filth. But that’s not all, this also shines with passages of a style eerily close to tech death in a manner befitting Inferi or Vale of Pnath. Either way you shake it this is an album I’m finding hard to remove from the space between my floppy audio catchers. In fact, I’m frustrated as this would’ve ranked especially high on my Year in Review/End of Year lists. Put this between the ears at the next earliest convenience.

Favorite Tracks; Amazing throughout!

FFO; Dissection, Inferi, Vale of Pnath, Inculter, Hellish.

Need A Second Opinion?

drew infared avi

Here’s a few words from the funniest, most loyal person, I believe I’ve ever had the fortune to come in contact with. In short, my BBF, Drew (ha, I sound like an eleven-year old girl) let’s read what he has to say (before I make the full transition) shall we…

The name: Yeah, it’s weird. My initial reaction with a band name like this is it’s going to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek ode to metal a la GWAR or Crotchduster, but this turns out to be not the case. There’s serious metal to be had here.

According to the always faithful Encylcopaedia Metallum, Brotthogg is a 3-piece lineup out of Norway with only one musician setting the sound for two vocalists. Okay. This hardly seems fair to me and I’d love to know how they divvy up royalties, but whatever.

A very thrashy black sound and yet, at times melodic, permeates throughout. Blisteringly fast, heavy riffs can be overwhelming and I imagine physically tiring if you were to see them live.

What’s done here is nothing that hasn’t been done before, but that’s not to dismiss Brotthogg. It’s still done well and has certainly been done worse by others in the past.

Seven tracks (there’s also a bonus, ten-track, release available – Ed*) clock in at just over the half-hour mark, which is honestly all you really need. I can’t imagine keeping pace with this speed for much longer out of respect to my sanity and neck.

“Echoes of the Past” is worth checking out.

Get better minions gif

And these words bring “Guests Taking the Reins” Part the Second to its conclusion. Huge thanks again to all involved for their wisdom, patience, insight, honesty and their amazing ability to put up with my constant badgering, prods and asking “is it ready yet?” Part Three is ready to be put in the can, until then please support the artists included in this installment but most of all don’t fear discovering that which is normally foreign to the sense. But let us not forget some parting words which, in this instance, seem more than appropriate. Drew, get batter. Dammit!

Cult