Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review : Pale Divine – Painted Windows Black

If you’ve ever read this blog before, there are probably two things you might have figured out: first, I love doom metal, the classic kind of doom, the one with big groovy riffs, melodies and competent singers. Second, I love Shadow Kingdom Records, which is almost a consequence of the first statement. But that love is not blind, it’s not just a sentimental thing or a “doctrine” of loving small underground labels. It’s simply based on the quality of the records the label puts out; and the unbelievable amount of bands they made me discover (remember this? This? Or this?).
And yet, when I recieved this new record by Pale Divine, I didn’t get too excited. The thing is, I never really was a big fan of the band, and I never really got into their previous album, “Cemetary Earth” that came out 5 years ago on I Hate Records. To me, that record was just too academic although very well composed and played.
And I’m going to be get straight to the point here; Painted Windows Black is much better than it’s predecessor. Pale Divine has evolved, definitely in the right direction, they sound more powerful and more diverse. In fact, Pale Divine is not just a classic doom band anymore, call it whatever you want, their music is somewhere in between Doom, Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock.
And that fact is immediately demonstrated when first track “Nocturne Dementia” strikes; this instrumental masterpiece is one hell of a way to start a record, and I don’t know many bands capable of hooking you up that way with an instrumental. Everything here is perfectly executed and balanced. You’ve got the riffs, the leads, the big heavy sound and some tremendous melodic parts. Man that melodic break at 3 minutes is just PURE EXSTASY!

Anyways, after such an opener, everything is much easier, Pale Divine display their fantastic skills, playing some awesome slow-paced and Melodic Metal. The songs are epic, each musician is technically perfect (the power-trio line-up probably has to do with the band’s intrinsic groove), and singer Greg Diener stands out with his powerful and melodic voice. This guy is probably one of the band’s most improved elements by the way.
My personal favorites here are “Angel Of Mercy”, “Shadow Soul”, and of course the killer opener “Nocturne Dementia”. In fact, this fantastic record only displays a few flaws that a friend of mine pointed out. The guy found the songs a little bit too long and he thought that the music lacked feeling… And I need to admit he’s somewhat right. Some songs are a bit too long and the record would have been even stronger with a few faster and shorter pure Heavy Metal songs (the record is also pretty lengthy itself: 70 minutes of pounding Doom Metal might discourage some people). And yes, the music lacks a bit of spontaneity; but that goes with the progressive edge, everything is so nicely composed here… Bottom line is Pale Divine just needs to let it go from time to time and throw in a headbanging Metal hymn that would be an instant hit.

"The Prophet", taken from Painted Windows Black

Theses little flaws considered, I’m not going to change my opinion about that fantastic record that I just love listening to, everyday, over and over again. It’s great to see Pale Divine evolve in such an exciting direction!
See now why I love Shadow Kingdom Records? And more from that label is coming up very soon…

Yath – 8/10

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Revolting’s Hymns Of Ghastly Horror Vs Deserted Fear’s My Empire. And the winner is….FDA Rekotz !

Here are 2 tremendous records I’ve wanted to tell you about for a while now. Better late than never right? Anyways ladies and gentlemen, if you like Death Metal in general, you might want to check these two bands out.

And if you like Death Metal, you probably know about Revolting already. Or at least you know who Rogga Johansson is. This is the man’s 5th or 6th Death Metal record this year. Seriously, I lost count. I bought the new The Grotesquery LP earlier, I know about a new Ribspreader album, another one from Those Who Bring The Torture, plus some other new projects the man is working on. Anyways, the guy is a Death Metal universe on his own, and most of the time you can recognize his music just by the insanely heavy sound of his guitar riffs, the massive groove he puts into them and his special guttural voice. 
And the million-dollar question is: what the hell should you get the new Revolting record specifically, when you already have dozens of Rogga’s album, and when you already know that you will NEVER manage to get them all anyway?

Well, the answer is simple: Revolting is pretty different from his usual stuff, it’s more melodic, and kind of mainstream in a way. The melodies stick, they make you feel like dancing and the headbanging is constant. I personally love the choruses, the quick solos and some songs just kick ass, like “The Black Queen” that strongly reminded me of Evocation, another Swedish band that I love (the melodic break in the middle of that song is AWESOME). 

One last thing about this cool record: it’s full of funny references, like that FANTASTIC instrumental called “The Thing That C.H.U.D. Not Be” (man that melody’s so sticky!); or that moment where Rogga screams “MOSH” in the beginning of “Kinderfeeder”. Although there’s not much to say really about this very nice record, I really enjoy listening to it, over and over, it’s like my “mainstream” moment every day.

"The Black Queen" - The awesome song I just told you about! 

Deserted Fear is a new Death Metal power trio from Germany. And honestly, with all the old-school Death Metal bands bursting from all over the world I wasn’t expecting much from another 90’s-nostalgic band. But somehow, My Empire, the band’s first album really impressed me. Don’t get me wrong though, this is pure, classic, unoriginal and by-the-book Death Metal, no more, no less. But shit, the energy and the power on this one are so huge! Listening to this record is a guaranteed moment of pure pleasure. It's all in the heavy riffs, the epic melodies, and Mahne’s crazy voice, like some sort of John Tardy (Obituary) meets Martin Von Drunen (Asphyx). 

Yep, everything's perfectly classic here, even the old-school typical black and white artwork. 

Of course, the moments where these kids bang you head like hell with hammering riffs are great, but what I enjoy the most are the epic songs on this one, more specifically the final pieces “My Empire” and “Bury Your Dead”. 

Here it is; the might "My Empire" song

Don’t ask me to pick a favorite here, these two FDA-Rekotz releases are both fantastic in their own way, they are very complementary and they basically sum-up everything I love about Death Metal (since I’m not into the very extreme and super-fast stuff). 
One pretty impressive thing to note is that after all these years, when everything’s been more or less said and done, some young and hungry bands still manage to compose and record such great Death Metal records!

These are 2 highly recommended albums by Yath

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hellwell’s Beyond The Boundaries of Sin review

Hellwell is a new band formed by Heavy Metal Legend Mark Shelton, member of the mighty Manilla Road. And you’ll probably be reading all over the web and the magazines many comparisons between Manilla Road and Hellwell; the latter being presented as Manilla Road’s “evil twin”.

That statement isn’t exactly aberrant, but it’s pretty unfair to Hellwell, since the band is not just about Mark Shelton developing some dark sort of Manilla Road.
Hellwell was actually named after E.C Hellwell, the band's bassist and keyboardist. The man is also a horror novelist, whose work has strongly inspired Mark Shelton for Manilla Road. The Acheronomicon Suite that closes this album was also originally one of his short stories that Shelton has adapted. The guy has also co-written most of the songs, and therefore Hellwell is pretty much his band too. Jonny Benson completes the line up on drums. 

Hellwell is also extremely important when it comes to the band’s sound; because although Shelton’s guitars are obviously super important, the fantastic organ and other keyboards often lead the dance and help creating a unique sound (at least a sound that is different from Manilla Road) that perfectly reflects the typical horror-movie atmosphere. Really, that’s what I appreciated the most when listening to Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin. Just listen to the opener “The Strange Case Of Dr Henry Howard Holmes” or the final "End Of Days" and you’ll immediately get my point!

But Hellwell being an important member of the band doesn’t mean that Shelton is invisible. His guitar-riffs are amazing, twisted, heavy and even a bit more violent that the stuff he plays in Manilla Road. He also managed to inject a huge dose of that epic feeling he masters so much. His solos are also as fantastic as they’ve always been, filled with feeling and intensity.
These two guys managed to perfectly mix their talents and create something really interesting and original here. That record should have been one this year’s highlights; especially now that everybody’s so crazy about dark Heavy Metal.

I’m guessing you’re wondering why it should have been a highlight. The thing is, this record has an unbelievably bad sound. Mark Shelton handled the production, and just like on Manilla Road’s last record, Playground Of The Damned, the sound is extremely muffled, with triggered drums and VERY dirty guitars. I understand they wanted a nasty and organic sound, but they ended up totally killing the power and the impact of the songs.

One last word about Shelton’s vocals; which again, I think, are a little too extreme. He sort of screams/sings like a gargoyle but I really think more of the epic and “clean” vocals could have given more impact to the songs (the choruses are really awesome though).
All in all, this first Hellwell release is extremely interesting, and although Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin has some flaws, I really enjoyed playing it very loud, as each song overflows with top-notch musicality, Heavy Metal power and that typical epic feeling Mark Shelton masters so much. 
By the way, the final suite (the last three songs) called Acheronomicon is such a fantastic illustration of that; clearly the record’s top moment.
Fans of Epic Metal; there’s another Shadow Kingdom release you need to check out! (you can listen to the album and make up your own opinion right here).


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Vindicator – United We Fall review

I like Megadeth therefore I like Vindicator. That’s a pretty simplistic statement, but it’s also a very reliable one. If any of you guys are Megadeth fans, then you will most likely enjoy listening to Vindicator.
I got introduced to Vindicator when Heavy Artillery (great old-school label, dicoverer of Enforcer, Vektor and many other super talented bands, now part of Earache) sent me a promo for Antique Witcheries, the band’s second album out in 2010.
After that awesome record, the band just went under the radar (at least under my radar), and I found out almost by accident that they released their third full-length; United We Fall on Slaney Records earlier this year. And trust me; for less than 10 $/ (shipping included) you guys can acquire one hell of a thrash record. 
Original singer Marshall Law has quit the band, and the vocals are now handled by mastermind guitarist and composer Vic Stown. The guy hasn’t got THE voice, but he sure knows how to sing. Kind of like Mustaine -from you know what band- uses his vocals smartly. Vindicator also got reinforced by former White Wizzard guitarist James J.LaRue. By the way, White Wizzard already have one of the most impressive “former members list”: 12 past-members listed by Metal Archives, for a band that’s been active since 2007, I say BRAVO!

But let's get back to United We Fall as this record is made out exactly of the type of Thrash Metal I love: it’s rapid, sharp, violent, and aggressive, it’s got some killer riffs, awesome choruses and some outstanding solos. What else could you possibly need??? I’m a huge fan of that old-school Thrash, still close to it’s Heavy Metal and Punk-Rock roots. I mean, I can’t stand the “clinical” Thrash Metal bands, that just accumulate heavy riffs without that hysterical and "close to the edge" feeling. When I listen to Thrash, I want the music to screw with my mind, make me nervous, it has to make me want to go down the street and start a fight.
It also has to make me hate the way our society goes, and just protest over anything! If Thrash bands don’t do that, then who the hell would do it anyway??!!

"Bastards Of Noise And Agression", by Vindicator

And that is why this band reminds me of Megadeth, although musically there are some similarities as well. Just listen to “Nationwide Ruination”, or “Fatal Infection”, you’ll feel that you’re back in the late 80s, somewhere between Rust In Peace and Peace Sells. The similarities are sometimes so obvious that you can recognize some Hangar 18 solo parts here and there. 
Now I don’t need to tell you that there are a million other retro-Thrash bands out there, and some of them are signed on important record labels. They put out their records in fancy boxsets that include patches and wristbands, but when it comes to the music itself, believe me, these little “Bastards Of Noise And Aggression” (Third track, AWESOME song) are above average. I actually feel like mentioning each one of the songs, as they all have something special; like a super riff, a nice chorus, insane solos…

One of my favorite thrashers this year, a MANDATORY purchase of you like Thrash Metal!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Firewind – Few Against Many review

I was pretty surprised to read some very average reviews for Few Against Many, Firewind’s seventh full-length record. Greece’s most famous Heavy Metal band has always been extremely popular and respected by both fans and press.
But things have changed since last record (Days Of Defiance, 2010) as mastermind Gus G. is now Ossy Osbourne’s guitarist, and Firewind will inevitably be much more exposed. You’ve probably guessed as well the main critic I read about this new record: “the songs were composed and recorded quickly, as if Gus G. wanted to profit from his joining of Ozzy as fast as possible”. Well that’s a typical Metal-fan argument, the same old “selling out” theory; but in the same time, it could be true, because we can imagine that playing with Ozzy and doing 95% of the job in Firewind (Guitarist Gus G. handles a lot of things in Firewind: composing all the music, and producing it) is a lot of work.

As a fan, I decided to get that album and listen to it so that I can make up my own opinion. And after many listens, here’s my verdict: I have no idea if I like this record or not!
Gus G. has been saying in interviews that he wanted to modify the band’s sound a little bit, by focusing on composing good songs, and not just rely on the heavy riffs.
Few Against Many sounds indeed like a transition record, as the band seems to have intended to create something different, but without going completely through the process. The result is a patchwork of mostly melodic songs, with highs and lows.
Among the good songs, I want to mention the opener, “Wall Of Sound”. That one has a great rock’n’roll vibe, a nice and heavy riff and a cool hard-rock feeling. Irresistible!
I also love the second song, “Losing My Mind”, that sounds like a homage to Alice In Chains, and that clearly demonstrates Firewind’s desire to test new things. Singer Apollo does a fantastic job on that one. “Another Dimension” and “Glorious” are more typical Firewind songs, with some very fast and heavy parts and a cool melodic chorus. “Edge Of A Dream”, the ballad featuring Apocalyptica, is another cool moment, with again, a great performance from Apollo.
“Long Gone Tomorrow” is different; vey heavy and sounds like an attempt to write something more modern, with a big chunky guitar riff.
And as I was saying, there are some very ordinary songs here; that you pretty much forget instantly after each listen, not to mention some of them are just too cheesy like “Destiny”.

All in all, I must admit that Few Against Many sounds like “just another new Firewind record”, although it seems to be a transition album, as Gus G. has really tried many different things and vibes, which is a positive thing. All he needs to do right now is to decide in what direction he wants to lead the band to and to accomplish it fully. He clearly doesn’t want to go towards progressive metal, maybe Firewind will become more melodic, more modern or even more heavy? Or just get back to the good old Heavy Metal they completely mastered and that satisfied their fans? I guess we’ll have to wait and buy the next record to figure that out. And to make up our mind concerning Few Againt Many…


Tuesday, August 7, 2012


If you’ve read some of my blogs before you know that already: I firmly believe that “small” and specialized labels are the most interesting source of Metal records. 
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got nothing against important labels such as Roadrunner, Century Media, Metal Blade or Nuclear Blast… I actually buy some of their chunky “limited edition” CDs every single month (you know, the ones that come in big shiny digipacks with useless “making of” bonus DVDs).

The thing is, these important companies do not (and probably CANNOT) have a specific and clear artistic orientation, as they must enlarge their audience as much as possible. Specialized labels however select their artists according to one very simple thing: their boss's taste! That’s why it’s most of the time a completely passion-driven and authentic decision. In fact, after following some labels for a while, I feel that I know their bosses almost personally, because I understand completely their musical tastes, just by listening to their releases. Awesome right? And so old-school: you don't need to listen to a CD before buying it, with these labels, you know just exactly what to expect!

And yes: as you might have guessed already, Shadow Kingdom Records if one of those passion-driven labels. Their specialty is Heavy Metal, with a particular attraction for obscure and doomy stuff. This Pittsburgh-USA based label have made me discover some amazing new bands, like Argus, Sinister Realm, or Crowned In Earth, it has brought back from the dead the mighty Iron Man and it has reissued some hidden gems from the past like Deep Switch, Wolfbane, Revelation and so many more!

This summer, there are 3 Shadow Kingdom Released you need to check out if you’re into Heavy Metal or Heavy/Doom stuff. And the first one I want to tell you about is also the strangest one. Coven have reformed under the name Coven 13 recently. Probably because of the other 256 bands called Coven around the globe.
This US Heavy Metal band has existed quite briefly in the late 80’s, with only one official release, an LP called “Worship New Gods”. Back in the day, the band self-released it on vinyl only and split-up shortly after. And guess what, it’s now re-released on CD by Shadow Kingdom in a remastered version with a booklet including a bunch of old photos! Seriously, where the hell does Shadow Kingdom Records find these bands??!! Release after release, SKR's  boss shows to be one of the finest Heavy Metal connoisseurs in the world.

Coven sounds pretty much like a typical US-Heavy Metal band, with the sharp riffs and the taste for doomy atmospheres. Some might even classify it as “Heavy/Doom” which pretty much illustrates the global feeling of this record. I also must insist on the old-school taste of this one, just look at the artwork, the band photos and some details. The first song starts with a clear statement as singer David Landrum says “The Gods Made Men, Men Made Steel!”. Now that is HEAVY! I also love the old-fashionned effects in the beginning of “The Wicked Day” and “Loki”. 
This release may seem a little strange at first, as it took me some time to get into it, maybe because of the high-pitched vocals that sometimes get out of control. But when it did click, I really started to enjoy it, especially some songs like the aforementioned “The Wicked Day”, “Ruler” or even “Burial Ground” and “Jailhouse”. Another thing I like about this record is that I never really heard anything like it before... Some songs have a strange and very marked Gothic vibe like “Kiss Me With Blood” or “Threshold Of The New” (this one is like The Cure meet Heavy Metal!!). Last track “Loki” is also very original with a very unusual -not to say weird- structure and chorus.
Trust me, this release is not just a rarity destined to a few Metal archeologists, as it sounds like nothing you’ve heard before, although a bit “dated” maybe, but hey, that’s totally part of it’s charm!

Second summer release on Shadow Kingdom is another rarity reedition, only this time around it’s by a much more famous band: Pagan Altar. "The Time Lord" had only been released on vinyl a few years ago and Shadow Kingdom brings it to you for the first time on CD. These tracks are the very first recordings by the band, done in 1978 and 1979, so yes; this is another historical release.
I personally love this kind of very early Heavy Metal, still filled with hard-rock vibes and tons of BLUES. The feeling these guys have is just amazing, and it’s unbelievable that this band has been ignored for so long (although formed in the late 70s, their first official recording was released in 1998!). There are 5 songs on that release for a total running time of 32 minutes. The songs tend to be a little long, with multiple developments, essentially led by Alan Jones (accompanied by Les Moody on the songs “The Time Lord” and “Highway Cavalier”) who does a fantastic job on the guitars (both acoustic and electric). 

The song “The Time Lord” is truly one of my favorites on this EP, with it’s 8 minutes of pure transcendental pleasure. “Judgment Of The Dead” is heavier, and really sounds like many of the “doom” bands you might know from our actual era (Glen Robinson’s bass also gives me the chills on that one). “The Black Mass” has a darker feeling, still filled with blues and some HEAVY riffing! Really impressive stuff for a song composed in the late 70s. And that's when I realized that Pagan Altar could have been a real alternative for Black Sabbath, who are considered like the Godfathers of Heavy Music in general. History is sometimes so cruel… Last track “Reincarnation” is also a tremendous one, with a beautiful acoustic beginning that develops into one heavy and epic song. Terry Jone’s vocals are nothing short of impressive: full of blues and emotion. This EP is clearly an instant classic. What more can I say? As usual with SKR, the CD comes with a new and fantastic artwork.

The last SKR release on the menu today isn’t another hidden treasure. Grand Gesture Of Defiance is Altar Of Oblivion’s second LP. And as the bio on the SKR website says, this is probably the best Heavy Metal band to come out from Denmark since Mercyful Fate. Altar Of Oblivion are however quite different from their famous predecessors, as their sound is much heavier and “doomier”. The guitar-sound is very thick and the guys have got a Scandinavian approach to their Heavy/Doom (this label perfectly fits the band): everything is so bombastic and operatic here. Just look at the artwork, the song titles and even the style of the booklet. Of course, the very demonstrative vocals also totally reflect that. It’s even clearly specified on the last page of the booklet (awesome artwork by the way); Mik Mentor doesn’t just handle vocals, he’s in charge of the “Stentorian Narration & Ars Melancholia”. There you go!

Music-wise, this is some pretty classic stuff, extremely well performed and composed, with crazy riffing all over it, some killer melodies, and a few Mellotron parts here and there. The production is just perfect; very heavy yet organic and all the instruments sound natural. The Danish usually master the art of Metal production, so this is no surprise at all. The first track “Where Darkness Is Light” is really a strong opener, that will dive you into the record and that displays the band’s talent instantly. However, I absolutely love the second track, “the Graveyard Of Broken Dreams” because of its fantastic chorus and the melodic break in the middle of it. The other highlight of the record is the very heavy “Sentenced In Absentia”, preceded by the acoustic “The Smoke-Filled Room”. Again, nothing fundamentally new here, but these guys sure know what Heavy & Doom means…
All in all I really enjoyed listening to this record, because albeit being pretty classical in its approach, the band manages to show a unique personality, with a specific concept, a deep melancholia and an operatic attitude that does make a difference.

These 3 releases are equally awesome, each one of them being different and special in it’s own way. If you’re into the SKR stuff, then just do what you usually do, trust the label and get these releases. If you are a metal archeologist interested by bizarre and original stuff check out Coven, if you like your Heavy filled with blues then you must get that Pagan Altar EP. Finally, if you're into Heavy/Doom Metal, then Altar Of Oblivion is a band you absolutely have to check out!

As for me, I just can’t pick-up a favorite; I’ve been playing these records one after the other for the past few days…


Friday, August 3, 2012

Vesperian Sorrow – Stormwinds Of Ages

When listening to the new Vesperian Sorrow record, I get this very conflicting feeling: everything tells you there’s nothing special about that one, that you've heard a lot of such records, that you’ll never remember it in a few months. However, playing it loud is such a freakin' pleasure!

The thing is, Vesperian Sorrow is not just another symphonic black metal band. The guys have been around for 15 years now, with an amazing consistency in terms of quality. These veterans from Texas-USA sure know what kind of music they want to play, and they do it perfectly well; even if it means they have to do almost everything on their own (the record is however released by The Path Less Travelled Records).
This by the way, is another manifest aberration of the music industry, but what the hell, no-one seems to remember what Sympho-Black Metal means nowadays… Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth have moved on and so have the “fans”…

But Vesperian Sorrow have not given up; and they keep on producing that awesome Sympho-Black Metal they love, with a quality close to perfection. As I was just saying, there is nothing really special on this one, although there are some cool and original elements here and there, like that acoustic moment on “Crown Of Glass” and the nice clean vocals on "Eye Of The Clocktower”. I also enjoy very much the global “gothic feeling” on the record, nothing too cheesy, just a permanent dark and gloomy atmosphere. The job on the guitars is tremendous, with a bunch of killer riffs, fast, melodic and slow, and also many solos. The balance between the orchestrations and guitars -which is usually the key on such records- is totally mastered on Stormwinds Of Ages.
Did I mention that the band has a nice guest-list featured on those new songs? Among them Jason McMaster (former Watchtower), Carl August Tidemann (Winds, Arcturus) and Erica Tandy (Autumn Tears). Another proof that this band like to do it perfectly right!

This a new very fine piece of Sympho-Black Metal, perfectly produced and composed, with dynamic, symphonic and catchy songs. There is absolutely nothing wrong on this record, only around 60 minutes of big, fat, heavy music that will fill you with pleasure if you enjoy this specific genre.

Sometimes it’s just nice to quit listening to all the new & hype stuff and get back to basics. Vesperian Sorrow is a very serious band, extremely committed to the art they enjoy and I must say they did another great piece of work with this new record. Fans of Sympho-Black Metal absolutely need to check this one out, and fans of black metal in general should give it a try!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reino Ermitaño – Veneratión Del Fuego: some very fine doom from Peru

Reino Ermitaño isn’t exactly the most prolific band in the world; Veneratión Del Fuego is only their fourth record in 10 years of existence, and it’s the first one since 2008’s Rituales Interiores. But again, who really needs an album every year, since now we all have around 100 “favorite bands”? 

And Reino Ermitaño isn’t just another retro-doom band. There are several reasons for that; first, a lady handles vocals: Tania Duarte does an excellent job behind the mic, with that epic desperate feeling. Second reason, Reino Ermitaño come from Peru, not the first South American country you think of when mentioning Metal.
And the awesome thing with Reino Ermitaño is that they do not just rely on these "labels" to claim they're special, they utilize and exploit them perfectly. The Spanish vocals sang by Tania Duarte fit the music perfectly and add some mystique to the music.

Veneratión Del Fuego, kicks off in a very typical manner: “Quimera” and “El Sueño Del Condor” are two classical and very fine pieces of doom rock, played the old-school way, with a very fuzzy and gloomy sound, as if you were listening through a thick layer of smoke. 

But things start to be really exiting when third track “Sobre Las Ruinas” starts. That’s another classic doom song here, but it ends in a fantastic psychedelic orgy of guitar solos and keys. That's probably a contribution brought by new guitarist Eloy Arturo.
And things just keep on getting better, especially when the 9-min epic “Cuando La Luz Te Encuentre”, comes in with a violin  that pops out of nowhere in the exact right moment. But that’s not all, since the song also contains what appears to be a drum solo in the middle of it, before a totally psychedelic finish. Amazing song!

The rest of the album is just as fantastic, with some classic songs like “Soy El Lobo” and “El Rito”. These tunes are just a lesson of what traditional doom should sound like; they have the perfect sound, the cool riffs, the killer breaks and the psychedelic solos all over them. The ending of “El Rito” really reminded me of early Sabbath.  Can't really think of a better influence!

However, there is one more track that needs to be highlighted here; another 9-min epic song: “Sangre India”. This one displays some cool traditional elements that prove how much Reino Ermitaño perfectly use their heritage. That folk moment in the middle of the song is just AMAZING. Not to mention that it is probably the first time I appreciated listening to pan flute. Guys; believe me, nothing to do with the boys coverning Celine Dion songs in the subway halls. This cool folk moment transforms into another acoustic psychedelic part, before the electric guitars start roaring again. This song is one of my favorite ones on the record, and one of my favorite songs this year !

Reino Ermitaño is truly a fantastic doom band; that managed to combine some very classic doom with elements from their Peruvian roots. Nothing too flashy or progressive here, just some very fine doooom.  

I probably keep on repeating that but I totally believe in what I’m saying: stop accepting what important metal labels keep on feeding us every month (although they have a lot of good stuff, no doubt about that) and go looking for original and different bands!
I Hate Records is probably a good place to start if you're into doom: last year the label released the fantastic Wounded Kings album In The Chapel Of The Black Hand. This year however, their highlight album is clearly going to be Veneratión Del Fuego!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Start your summer the brutal way with Chaos Inception, Hypnosia and the mighty Massacre

Summer has finally arrived and I bet all you wanna do is listen to cool hard-rock and chill around with a cold drink. Or even worse: you wanna listen to the radio and put your brain on hold with some easy-listening stuff.
Well, to counter that, here are 3 different yet coolish BRUTAL releases that will remind you how much heavy is good, and how much you can’t live without heavy.

 The artwork is basically as awesome as the music: typical nevertheless amazing.

I really want to start with the newcomers CHAOS INCEPTION. In fact, they’re not exactly newcomers since “The Abrogation” is their second LP, but that is the first time I hear about the Alabama-based band. This record is Lavadome Production’s third release; and man, what a release! The Abrogation is an impressive Brutal-Death record, with all the necessary ingredients the genre requires: extreme brutality, technicality, smooth songwriting and that boiling sense of urgency that will hang by the skin of your teeth all along these insane 30 minutes. 
Obviously, you’ll need to enjoy brutality to appreciate such a record. But if you do like your riffs fast, sharp and technical, there is no way you can miss Chaos Inception. Their music reminded me of old-school acts like Morbid Angel, Krisiun and Incantation. The riffs are fast, brutal, technical and they just keep on changing! I also need to underline the top-notch production; crystal clear yet very organic and “warm”. Really appreciated that release although I can’t pretend I’m a specialist when it comes to Brutal Death Metal. Songs like “Hammer Of The Infidel” and “The Exterminati” (so heavy with a fantastic melodic lead) stand out, as their songwriting skills are definitely one of the band’s top assets.
Everything is very typical here, but this is some very fine piece of work, done with passion, dedication and truckloads of talent.

The second record I’d like to mention today is a reissue out on the LOVELY I Hate Records. Horror Infernal is a compilation by Sweden’s Hypnosia. This release comprises “The Crushed Existence” and “The Storms” demos, plus “The Violent Intensity” mini-album from 1999 and 3 bonus tracks (“Outbreak Of Evil”-Sodom cover, “My Belief”-Possessed cover, and a live track). This Scandinavian Thrash Metal band has split in 2000, after the release of their only LP “Extreme Hatred”. I hate Records have remastered these songs and the result is really outstanding; powerful and totally rough, exactly what you need for Thrash Metal. I’m actually not surprised to see I Hate Records releasing that material, since this is typically the music label founder Peter Lindén loves (just listen to his band Terrorama and you’ll understand). This is furious Scandinavian Thrash Metal (see my blog about Nekromantheon for a definition of Scandinavian Thrash), driven by unbelievable riffs. Hysterical, fast, furious, heavy, punk, aggressive, harsh; it’s all in there. You like Thrash? Then you like Hypnosia, Period. Check out the songs “Undead” and “Haunting Death”, probably some of the best Thrash songs you could imagine

Nice Interview with the band on Voices From the Darkside Webzine right here

Although I'm a bit late, I couldn't miss the reissue of Massacre’s ultimate Classic “From Beyond” out on Earache. This edition comes with a red version of Repka’s sublime artwork, a nice poster (so old-school to insert a poster in a CD!) and most importantly, this release comprises the 1992 “Inhuman condition” EP, that has become pretty hard to find.
What could I possibly say about this record? It’s a classic, no doubt about that and about the fact that it has definitely been underrated. The line-up still looks like a supergroup today, with Terry Butler on bass, Bill Andrews on drums, Rick Rozz on guitar and Kam Lee for the screams. Just go to Metal Archives and look at these guys Curriculum to reconsider your definition of “super-group”. 
Anyways, here’s a fantastic collection of old-school Death Metal; that simply crushes all the new bands that are trying to recapture that specific sound. I just love the riffs, the crazy rhythm section -technical yet so instinctive- and also the lyrics, so typical of the 90s! There is an immense amount of classic songs here, like ‘Biohazard”, “Chamber Of Ages” (coolest intro for that one, with those cheesy effects), “Corpse Grinder”… 
The “Inhuman Condition” EP is no exactly as impressive, but it does contain some awesome tunes, like the title song or the Venom Cover “Warhead” featuring guest vocals by Cronos himself.
All in all, that is one essential release that you must posses if you like Death Metal. Also note that the band has actually reunited and is currently touring with Rick Rozz, Terry Butler Mike Mazzonetto on drums and Edwin Webb on vocals.