Posts Tagged ‘Vernon of Persia’

Abrasive Audio 2020 Part Seven

black metal gif

As the world nears total lockdown and a possible zombie apocalypse looms, we can all rejoice in the fact that we still have audio to lift the spirits and transport us to a better place. However, before I continue, I’d like to mention that artists are some of the folks hit hardest during these times of uncertainty, obviously close behind those who work in a serving capacity in restaurants, bars and similar establishments. Be  good neighbor, support others in these times of need and help out whenever you can. As a nation, as a people we will make it through this and only be stronger because of the adversities and instances of silliness we are currently enduring. Without further ado and preamble may I present a handful of audio treats which delighted my senses. I have hopes they might do the same for the listener.

Note; As much as I’ve tried to keep this brief it’s somehow worked its way into diatribe lengths and for that I apologize. However, for all those willing to dip their retinas in my atrocious grammatical (lack of) skills may I present this week’s findings.

January Releases

vernon of persia

Vernon of Persia (USA) – Ascend
https://vernonofpersia.bandcamp.com/
Release- January/10/2020
Self-Released
ARTWORK- 82

Who I can only assume is an astronaut stares longingly at a planet in the distance? I can also only assume the planet he/she’s on is Mars as it’s red whereas the other planet is blue. Is it Earth? Why would he/she want to go back? Questions, questions and more questions all leading up to the all-important one…what about the quality of the album itself?

FIRST TRACK- 76

Djent and Technical Death leanings with sparse Progressive breakdowns aided by vocals (hardly traditional grunts, growls or shrieks) dipped in angst. This is hardly Brutal Death but rather Deathcore, an intriguing start with significant ‘bounce’ and I’m curious.

INITIAL LISTEN- 78

Surprisingly diverse this release encompasses elements from a variety of genres (namely Djent, Progressive. Tech and Melodic Death) whilst adding a twin-pronged vocal approach to add depth. The tracks on offer are pleasingly different and showcases the bands willingness to inject a little experimentation into the mix. However, with that being said this most probably won’t appeal to those whose penchants run to Brutal Death and traditional Tech or even Prog Death but rather to those who prefer their breakdowns just short of Slam territories and audio which is just barely too extreme for traditional/terrestrial radio airplay. Honestly, I’m liking this more than I thought I would (admittedly it has its moments) it’s growing on me. But then again, I have a soft spot for other audio in much the same vein; ie, vintage Beartooth which most don’t understand. My recommendation is; if you’re adventurous, give this a listen & decide for yourself. It might surprise you?

Favorite Tracks; Weightless, Ascend, Inner Sleep, Sea of Trees,

FFO; (vintage) Beartooth, Killswitch Engaged, Between the Buried and Me.

incinerator

Incinerator (Norway) – Awakened by Evil
https://incinerator-norway.bandcamp.com/releases
Release (digital) – January/17/2020
Self-release
ARTWORK- 82

The art here is dominated by a large logo, obviously the band’s name, and with what it includes there should be no doubts as to what to expect in regards to the audio within. There’s an inverted cross and an ancient torch with a blazing pentagram at its center. But that’s not all. There’s also a skull held aloft by a hand and wrist encased in a studded wristband. The skull looks none too happy being engulfed in flame but it all makes for an intriguing image.

FIRST TRACK- 85

An intriguing introduction (taken from “Awaken” by NORDVARGR) leads the listener into exquisite black speed/thrash territories (draped in nostalgic qualities) to snap the spine. Heavy accented vocals top the unholy concoction off leaving me rabidly eager for the remaining three tracks to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Only four tracks here. Surprisingly each boasts more than enough to keep the listener sated. Atmosphere is plentiful thankfully invoked through percussion rather than keyboards. Swifter than-something-quite-fast rhythms alongside an impressive drum salvo and wicked vocals make for a hypnotic audio experience. But that’s not all this offers, this isn’t merely thrash nor speed (with at times a decidedly South American flavor) for within the four tracks here is a distinct homage to the blackened spectrum though it’s not until the final track, “In the Dead of Winter”, that this becomes neon sign bright. Crisp production with a raw edge elevates this into stellar realms.

If you’re a fan of the acts mentioned below do not let this pass you by unheard.

Favorite Tracks; Intoxicating from start to finish.

FFO; (vintage) Slayer, Hellripper, Wraith, Bastardizer, (vintage) Bathory, Venom, Bewitcher.

February Releases

Karnivore

Karnivore (Sweden) – Dodsriket
https://southcoast-productionssweden.bandcamp.com/album/d-dsriket
Release- February/13/2020
South Coast Productions
ARTWORK- 77

Classic bronzed and somewhat archaic statue-esque art. Puts me in mind of blackened death audio, but I could be mistaken (it’s happened before).

FIRST TRACK- 78

An over two-minute instrumental, I’d say this would normally be a risk but this is surprisingly upbeat audio complete with rhythms and a somewhat epic melodic vibe which hints at perhaps that which is to follow. Color me curious.

INITIAL LISTEN- 80

It isn’t often that a release touted as ‘Death Metal’ from Sweden surprises me as much as this. And it didn’t take long for it to do so either! One might expect the olde tried-and-true HM2 approach, but it isn’t here. This boasts melodies (not rare in and of itself in the genre) and a certain infectious nature but it’s how it gets there which is the kicker. Think a Viking touch ala Amon Amarth mixed with the rhythms usually associated with ‘Storm’ era Dissection and you wouldn’t be far off. Add to that certain traditional Heavy Metal passages, a spot of Sodom worship amidst the albums thrashier moments, rough accented vocals and the hypnotic effect is complete. Barring a few hiccups, the album is a great find and introduction to both the band and their style.

Favorite Tracks; Empire of Filth, Slice n’ Dice, No Freak, Black Flames, Disfigured Man.

FFO; Amon Amarth, Dissection, (vintage) Arch Enemy.

March Releases

pestifer

Pestifier (Belgium) – Expanding Oblivion
https://pestifer-band.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/13/2020
Xenokorp
ARTWORK- 72

Blues, greens and a most unmistakable aura, that of seething menace amidst towering spires. I’d swear this was a black metal release if I didn’t know better.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Complex rhythms, multi-layered riffs and amidst it all a purpose, a story to tell, woven intricately throughout. Fantastical passion invoked by undeniable hypnotic qualities and captivating melodies. A stunning mix of chaos and precision.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

Impressive, unpredictable and bursting with a mischievous sense of boisterous adventure, a spiraling narrative (which puts one in mind of Atheist as well, in instances, Voivod but also Testimony era Pestilence) and a varied progressive approach thankfully miles from the brutal assault many others offer. However, this still offers a technical pace and sublime precision, which most will be able to instantly appreciate, to keep the listener on their toes while offering nostalgia for those who have been around the extreme audio block. Give this a couple of spins, its grown on me and continues to do so.

Favorite Tracks; Exciting from start to finish.

FFO; (mid) Pestilence, Necrophagist, Atheist, Obscura.

 

 

Wolf (Sweden) – Feeding the Machine

Release- March/13/2020
Century Media Records

wolf feeding the machine

ARTWORK- 94

A little girl nonplussed at having to walk upon a landscape of shattered bodies (if that’s what this depicts) There’s something going on here. Is this a deleted scene from “Soilent Green”? Is she the harbinger of doom in sheep’s clothing? Regardless this is probably my fave album art of the year thus far.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Melodic Heavy Metal bordering on Speed metal with Halford-esque vocals. With solos and leads also of the Priest ilk, though this is a tad darker I’m liking it.

INITIAL LISTEN- 77

An impressive vocal range, rhythms and melodies which are highly infectious and a style which is perilously close to Thrash. The leads and solos are what separates this from the crowd but for me there’s still something missing as it didn’t live up to the initial excitement the first track provided and only a few tracks grabbed me. Perhaps a few more listens are in order?

Favorite Tracks; Shoot to Kill, Midnight Hour, Mass Confusion, Feeding the Machine.

FFO; Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Iced Earth.

Aronious

Aronious (USA) – Perspicacity
https://aronious.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/13/2020
The Artisan Era
ARTWORK- 84

A burst of color. Reds, pinks, grey and darkness and even a splatter of green. I believe I see a tree, there’s definitely a moon in there, apart from that I’m not sure what I see, apart from the bands logo. A little confusing, but I like it. Perhaps the image is a nod to the style of audio within; the melding of one color into the next, the ominous approach of night and the transforming glory of nature (?) Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK- 91

From its slight Middle Eastern/Sci-Fi themed instrumental opening one instinctively knows this will soon twist, transform and lead the listener into unpredictable waters, and it does. Cut to octopus-esque drumming abilities (an obviously well-trained creature) intricately carved guitar rhythms (I can only imagine a smoking fretboard) and a constantly evolving arrangement; flourishes of an intricate nature, frenetic galloping movements, melodious breakdowns and the scene is set. Add brutal death vocals and every Prog/Tech Death fans interest is piqued, as well it should be! A fantastic opener setting the stage fur what’s about to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 90

Tech/Prog Death is a fantastic genre, however it’s a little tricky to write upon if truth be told. One can only say “intricate”, “tight”, “fluid”, “precise” and “inhuman instrument manipulation” only so many times and I’m pleased to say those phrases all fit perfectly within the parameters of this review. I’ll state that The Artisan Era are certainly expert in choosing talent for inclusion within their stable, and they’ve done so again with Aronious. I only find it strange that they aren’t from Californian soil (as most appear to be). In regards to this album, and without trying to sound repetitive, it entertains from its opening note to its last. Perspicacity stays far removed from predictable, remains exciting and careens through a myriad of genres as it transports its listener into dizzying heights, brutal arenas and landscapes both serene and surreal. And often all within a few seconds of each other. This is in short, an excellent example of what the finest of the genre has to offer. And yet another winner for The Artisan Era stable. Need I say make room for this in the collection? Probably not. But I just did!

Favorite Tracks; Within an album of this quality, forget it!

FFO; Inanimate Existence, Equipoise, Obscura.

neorhythm

Neorhythm (Russia)- Terrastory
https://neorhythm.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/20/2020
Self-Released
ARTWORK- 88

Can you depict the history of mankind in an image, a diorama, perhaps trapped in a bubble?

– You bet

Schweet. Great job. But where’s the Queen mum and the cast of the Jersey Shore?

FIRST TRACK- 72

A wide ranged vocal approach, crunchy guitars, varied pace, riffs for days and an aura overflowing with passion. This boasts a rainbow of elements and promises that the remainder of the album is going to be quite different.

INITIAL LISTEN- 83

I wasn’t honestly sure what to think when presented with an album, concept of sorts admittedly, on the history of mankind. I sure as hell wasn’t expecting it to be as impressive as this. Promo materials state “Dark Groove” and it’s close, for wont of a better term. As the album rolls out certain passages bear a distinct Moonspell Gothic Rock vibe, others a Rotting Christ grandiose feel, while others yet a bouncy mix of styles I’d associate with Gojira. In short, this is quite unique, Avant Garde could well be used in its description (hopefully it wouldn’t scare potential listeners away) as well a slew of other genre monikers though not a single umbrella to cover that which is on offer. It becomes more consumable as it matures though that might be based on the fact that the listener is merely becoming more familiar with the style on offer? One thing is undeniable; this has a great deal to offer those with patience and an open mind. With that in mind I’m rather surprised I like this as much as I do.

Favorite Tracks; Fight for Fire, Zeus Rules, Empire Glory, Sapere Aude, Information Age.

FFO; Soulfly, Sepultura, Gojira, Meshugga.

April Releases (Why? Because I just couldn’t wait)

grim fate

Grim Fate (The Netherlands) – Perished in Torment
https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/perished-in-torment
Release – April/7/2020
Xtreme Music
ARTWORK- 75

A Bull, twisting human souls, a Jason looking fellow, an Eagle, even a few tombstones, there’s probably a few more details in there if you peer hard enough. Intriguing art with a bronzed effect and a myriad of intricate details leaves me curious as to the audio on offer.

FIRST TRACK- 79

Mid-paced infectious dirge with carefully injected Doom elements and a certain familiarity which nods to old school sensibilities. This leaves me eager for what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 76

Death Doom driven by unmistakable dirge qualities. Old school influences are front and center with plenty of bludgeoning groove, galloping passages and tempo changes to spare. Not much that’s genre defining or ground-breaking here but this is guaranteed to make one move and will please the ominous mid-paced chuggery crowd. Is it just me or does the ten-plus minute closer bring to mind “Shades of God” and “Icon” era Paradise Lost?

Favorite Tracks; Pile of Corpses, You Will Rot, Perpetual Anguish.

FFO; Grave, Benediction, Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Gorefest.

 

khora

KHÔRA (International) – Timaeus
https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/timaeus
Release- April/17/2020
Soulseller Records
ARTWORK- 91

Undeniable boner material for those into Lovecraft themed chaos and otherworldly cosmic Sci-Fi themed shenanigans.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Dropped unceremoniously into a cosmic landscape via cinematic synth mastery the listener is soon pummeled with a style akin to Death meets Black with Symphonic elements to spare. A dizzying introduction if truth be told which overflows with intricate details and nuance hinting at an album with a great deal to offer those who have the willingness/patience to allow it to do so.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

It becomes clear within the first couple of tracks that this isn’t a traditional, run of the mill, extreme audio affair. It’s neither comfortably Black, Death or even Progressive though it does utilize elements of each, with a more than liberal helping of atmosphere, within its epic, sprawling arrangements. As one listens the description Avant Garde might come to mind for this is slightly ‘different’ in its composition and approach. Unmistakable however, is the underlying dark/ominous nature aura throughout (even in the tracks with a remarkable Progressive Devon Townsend feel) though highly polished in its production. Balanced is a term which I believe fits in describing this album. Progressive themes are evident as well the majesty, coldness and harrowing nature often associated with Black metal. This isn’t all that’s evident but amongst the styles here these are the most prevalent and effective in making this a listening experience which leaves an impression, fits the cosmic narrative and warrants further exploration to fully digest. In conclusion I’m of the mind that this is an album which demands repeated listens to fully appreciate. Much like consuming a Pringle; one just isn’t enough.

Favorite Tracks; Noceo, l’Annihilateur, Existence, The Occultation of Time.

FFO; Septic Flesh, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir,

Something a little Different

Askvader

Askvader (Sweden) – s/t
https://askvader.bandcamp.com/album/s-t
Release-March/13/2020
The Sign Records

The artwork for this release depicts various instruments piled upon a minuscule island (of sorts) with a storm raging, lightning pierces the sky, in the background. Miles from the imagery which would normally appeal to my refined (ha-ha) tastes this album boasts what I can only imagine is more a rock and roll/traditional heavy metal vibe. However, after playing it for the first time with my daughter in attendance and having witnessed the look of sheer joy spread across her features, and her little legs and digits twitching in time with the music I came to the rapid conclusion that it deserved a few words.

Cheshire Cat

Similar to the grin on my daughters face

Undeniable is the fact that this isn’t what I would normally have pounce between the ears. The lyrics aren’t based upon anything dark, morbid, the apocalypse, shenanigans in the Underworld or any other manner of perversion humans or other biped abominations are capable of. The lyrics here are based on happier, more relatable everyday things. In fact, this is radio friendly audio if only the majority of stations would ever give it a chance. The music has rhythm but again is oceans removed from that which I would normally allow entry into the senses. This isn’t Thrash, it isn’t Death it certainly isn’t black nor Grindcore or any variation or mixture of those already mentioned. It’s obviously classed as a pallet cleanser but for those who let their ears frequently wander into such realms, I would venture to say this is very good. It overflows with melodies, both acoustic and otherwise, all of the instruments are clear, the vocals are instantly likable, in a fresh, youthful, kind of way. The style however, is varied, ranging from Doom, Brutal Death and Dirge. Ha, I jest! In actuality this is Blues laden Rock and Roll with an emphasis on passion and emotion. A retro vibe is prevalent throughout and it’s here that I should really mention a plethora of acts (from the era in question) which this style sounds like. But, I’m at a loss. Suffice to mention this has an air far removed from modern rock and more an aura which The Black Crowes and Old Man Wizard have more recently captured and probably a slew of other acts I’ve yet to discover (perhaps even a smidgen of vintage Wolfsbane). This shines with leads, solos and riffs one can’t help but appreciate be it through spastic limb movement or the smirk which continues to spread across the chops as this plays out. I’ll admit I’ve listened to this more than I thought I ever would and I delight in playing this whenever my youngest joins me in the car as I much prefer to either of the “Frozen” soundtracks, surprisingly I’m actually coming around to it but more importantly it makes my daughter ‘light up’. And that seriously is all that matters (it’s the little things in life) and the reason why I’ve just spent more than a few minutes scribbling these words.

mix tape action

Keep it up old man. Hopefully you’ll make at least one persons day slightly better.

In closing, give this a chance. It isn’t “extreme” in any way, I believe I’ve mentioned that before, but it is well- crafted, infectious and addictive.

And, that’s about it for this week’s extreme audio exploration.

Stay safe out there.

Cult