Friday, 27 April 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Vendetta - Feed the Extermination

Genre - Groove/Thrash Metal

1. Feed the Extermination
2. Tremendous Brutality
3. Cancer
4. Ovulation Bitch
5. Storage of Anger
6. Dog in the Manger
7. De-Organ-Izer
8. Abuse
9. Trust in God
10. 'Til I'm Dead 

Every once in a while you just happen to stumble across an album where the sheer barrel scraping desperation of it all makes you throw your hands up and walk away after wondering how a band once so good could end up releasing something so unashamedly shitty. The band in question is German Thrash act VENDETTA who have recently released their album “Feed the Extermination” which is the second of their ‘comeback’ that began back in 2002. Well I use ‘comeback’ with a slight sense of reluctance as it isn’t really much of a return if this album is anything to go by.

 I picked up “Go and Live... Stay and Die” a good few years ago now in a second hand record store and instantly their brand of frantic, semi-melodic Teutonic Thrash cemented itself as one of my favourite German thrash records ever. They never did get the attention those first two albums so deservedly garnered, that album or “Brain Damage” easily stood toe to toe with NOISE’s other more recognizable German acts at the time, bands such as DEATHROW, DESTRUCTION and KREATOR. This current incarnation though appears only to have retained their original bassist Klaus Ullrich and not much else.

So onto the post-mortem and being as brutally honest as I can there is ultimately very, very little redeeming qualities present here. As far as modern Thrash Metal goes the first two songs are just about passable with the title track being the slightly stronger of the two. It strikes a nice rhythm with some thick heavy riffs and doesn’t descent into quite the same level of turgid nonsense that the rest does, like a third rate version of modern Kreator almost. ‘Tremendous Brutality’ has the odd decent passage but the guitar is far too loud and clean, which is much the case for the whole album. Thrash Metal was never supposed to sound this polished and sterile. The lyrics are also absolutely head-in-hands woeful: “I don’t care, look at me, I’m tremendous brutality” on a seemingly never ending loop from beginning to end. But you better brace yourself for here on in it gets worse, a lot worse.

 It’s in ‘Cancer’ where the Groove influences really being to rear their ugly head, chugging riffs with a downtuned groove and it all begins to sound like a really shitty PANTERA clone. ‘Shroud of Anger’ sounds exactly like something they would have written, and I can’t stress enough how jaw droppingly bad the lyrics are here. The absolute nadir of the album lies with the ham fisted attempt at a solemn ballad in ‘Abuse’ though which falls monumentally flat on its face. A little word of advice, if you’re trying to convey a feeling of sensitivity and melancholy, planting a great monstrosity of a Groove Metal riff slap bang through the middle of the song is not the way to go about it. Add in the uninspired drumming, awful vocals and toe curling lyrics and you have what can only be summed up as a train wreck.  Anyway, since when did Thrash go from lyrics about banging your head against the stage and Josef Mengel to telling people “Abuse is around you, is your daughter alright?” What is this, Jerry fucking Springer?

 Simply put, this is the perfect example what happens when a band feels the need to ‘modernize’ while remaining blissfully out of touch with their apparent target fanbase. The guitar is so flat and lifeless, the hackneyed and drab ‘chugga chugga’ Groove riffs aren’t what Thrash fans want to hear. That shit went out of fashion over ten years ago and it can stay that way. And the solos, where are they? I count about two on the whole album; there’s more soloing in the first minute of ‘Trapped Under Ice’ than this whole album. The vocals just don’t really suit the music and don’t hold a candle to the original vocalists Mickey and Daxx, who are sorely missed here. They sound almost like a cross between Zetro and Petrozza with all the aggression and venom removed completely, the same patterns and phrasings are utilized over and over at the same pitch without any range whatsoever.

Basically, “Feed the Extermination” is every bit as bad as the cover suggests, a self parodying overproduced Groove infested mess with lyrics so bad your brain will be doing somersaults. I mean, this guy could even give Alexi Laiho a run for his money in the ‘incessant and pointless use of swearing’ awards. There’s no two ways about it, this is one of the worst ‘Thrash’ albums I’ve ever set ears upon. Utterly contrived and unambitious, avoid at all costs.  


Sounds like - Pantera, Exodus, Kreator

Originally written for The Metal Observer

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Hypomanie - Calm Down, You Weren't Set on Fire

Genre - Shoegaze/Post-Rock

1. 19 Stars And The Sweet Smell Of Cinnamon 08:01 
2. Alissa Loves Perfume 05:30 
3. If Only The Seas Were Merciful 08:29 
4. Lullabye For Ian 09:53 
5. Pale Blue 08:19 
6. You Never Listened To The Birds 03:48

HYPOMANIE, the Netherland’s finest (and only?) Shoegaze act returns with the follow up to last year’s very impressive “A City in Mono”; a sprawling release of tranquil Shoegaze dripping in the nostalgic euphoria all those Creation bands from the early nineties were renowned for. The rather extravagantly titled “Calm Down, You Weren’t Set on Fire” is much the same as its predecessor, taking those serene Shoegazing rhythms and enveloping them with gentle Post-rock influences culminating in a sound that manages to improve upon the already stirring previous album. Basically those expecting anything even remotely Black Metal will be walking away disappointed, whereas bands such as ALCEST and LANTLOS dabble with both Black Metal and Post-Rock/Shoegaze in varying degrees, HYPOMANIE have their roots planted firmly in that naive, floppy hair and skinny jeans territory.

The overall sound is a bit more full on than the last album, the guitar certainly appears to have been beefed up a touch and as this album is instrumental is the main focal point on “Calm Down...”. When cranked up it’s akin somewhat to a deluge of distorted, kaleidoscopic waves constantly surging over you, shimmering as they go. It evokes the same sort dreamy ambience that made SLOWDIVE and COCTEAU TWINS what they were, just listen to ‘Alissa Loves Perfume’ or ‘Lullaby for Ian’ and then anything off “Just for a Day” or “Treasure” and you’ll see what I mean, it’s exactly the sound Selwin is aiming for and he hits it pretty much bang on. The more intense sections are broken up well by some rather more Post-Rocky sections similar in style to EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY or MOGWAI and give some welcome respite now and again, for let’s face it, eight minutes of nothing but intensive feedback soaked guitar would undoubtedly become rather exhausting.

 It’s difficult to pick a highlight the album’s generally that good. ‘Alissa...’ conjures scenes of starry skies and moonlit dreams while ‘Lullaby for Ian’ (ignoring the toe-curling samples) draws you into its hypnotic state of wistful happiness with its heavily reverbed repetition. ‘Pale Blue’ is similarly absorbing in its layered approach of noisy riffing and airy, twangy leads. All the songs follow pretty much the same basic ‘quiet then loud’ foundation, subtly luring you in before being assaulted by a huge crescendo of noise and distortion. The only weak link song wise would probably be ‘You Never Listened to the Birds’ which is the shortest track here. It’s just too repetitive and basically sounds unfinished, as if it’s missing a beginning and an end. I suppose I could also have a grumble about the drum machine as well, it’s rather one dimensional and plastic but ultimately in this style of music it doesn’t really matter all that much.

“Calm Down, You Weren’t Set on Fire” is an altogether powerful and emotionally draining experience and something I would liken to an audial sedative. At times it transpires as extremely fragile and delicate, and others expansive and overwhelming. It’s a bit more dramatic than ‘A City in Mono’ and a further step forward from it, though during my listening to the album as good as it is instrumentally I gradually began to wonder how it would sound with some Elizabeth Fraser style vocals over the top of it. I have a feeling something like that would really set off HYPOMANIE’S sound even more. But regardless ‘Calm Down... is still a fantastic release and anyone who’s fans of Dream-Pop acts like SLOWDIVE, PALE SAINTS and COCTEAU TWINS as well as fans of the Post-Black/Shoegaze scene should definitely find something worth their time here. And on the subject of that scene, many bands have the tag but very few bands actually deserve it. HYPOMANIE are one of the few who do. 


Sounds like - Slowdive, Explosions in the Sky, Ride

Originally written for Metal Observer

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Genre - Black Metal
  1. Qesar Neron
  2. Vials Of His Wrath
  3. Mortuus
  4. Demonic Locusts Torment
  5. Alpha And Omega
  6. Phobos Kai Deimos
  7. Nex Cvltvs
Nex Cultus is the debut release by the mysterious Italian black metal barbarians ZERVM who ply their trade grinding out raw and unashamed satanic bile that sounds not too dissimilar to a crossover between “De Mysteriis...” era Mayhem and the depraved insanity of Beherit. The comparisons may sound promising, the music is somewhat decent at times but the reality is the material present on Nex Cultus leaves a lot to be worked upon.

Those who would consider themselves averse to black metal of the rough and under produced variety would do well to escape now as Nex Cultus is in a nutshell just that, no pretence just ‘in your face’ repulsiveness . The guitar riffs are ugly and repetitive, and while basic they are occasionally surprisingly catchy. The guitar along with the vocals are without doubt the strongest aspects of this album, although to be honest that isn’t really saying much. The vocalist utilizes a demented low pitched growl not too far away from Attila which adds a certain primal element to the overall sound here.

 It’s the repetition and lack of variation that is the main problem that plagues Nex Cultus though; it’s essentially a succession of songs where each one sounds exactly like the last, they all follow the same basic principle and pattern while generally remaining wholly unremarkable and samey save for the occasionally impressive riff. As stated, the production is also extremely shoddy, fair enough many bands playing this bestial style of black metal exploit this to their advantage but here the guitars are just too thin and there’s almost no low end whatsoever.

Ok so it may be slightly repetitive and loose around the edges but fans of this style of maniacal, degrading and primitive black metal may find something here. It’s not horrible by any means and just about wavers on the threshold of what I would consider listenable but I’ve heard a lot better and can easily see ZERVM becoming just another raw black metal act in a sea of others. They’ll need to up their game next time around. 


Sounds like - Mayhem, Beherit, Blasphemy

Originally written for Metalcrypt

Friday, 20 April 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Nightqueen - For Queen and Metal

Genre - Symphonic Power Metal

1. Into the Night
2. Nightfall
3. Mystical Nights
4. For Queen and Metal
5. Lady Fantasy
6. Nocturnal Thoughts
7. Secret of the Blind Man
8. Majesty
9. Rebel to Rebel
10. Screaming for Mercy
11. Dark Fairy

Among all the Black and Death Metal I’ve been spinning lately, and as much as I adore my music satanic and repulsive, you sometimes just need a bit of respite and something a touch more light-hearted to wrap your ears around. This is where Belgian crowd NIGHTQUEEN come into play with their brand of fantastic, frilly keyboard drenched Power Metal that contains more cheese than a Swiss fondue convention. The surprising thing is, “For Queen and Metal” is not even a style of Power Metal that I would consider myself my much a fan of; when I want Power Metal I tend to lean more towards stuff with a bit more grit and testosterone such as HIBRIA or STORMWARRIOR but I’ve really grown to like this album.

It’s an album that almost sounds as if it could easily have been recorded ten to twelve years ago when this style of Power Metal was arguably at its pinnacle; the outlandish neoclassical bombast of acts like RHAPSODY and DARK MOOR are the big comparisons that come to the fore when listening to “For Queen and Metal”, much due to the heavy presence of cascading keyboard work and Laura’s thickly accented vocals that really hammer down on the early DARK MOOR influences. So considering the band’s influences, you sort of know what you’re going to get lyrically; fluffy fantasy lore and magical themes abound. It’s sweet enough to make your teeth drop out. Who ever said that was such a bad thing though?

There’s always a lot going on throughout each song, the guitar work is superbly varied as are the keyboards which I must add are very well done. The huge backdrop of polychromatic and crystalline synth really plays on the fantasy themed sound the band are aiming for and this is none more evident than on tracks such as ‘Lady Fantasy’ or ‘Secret of the Blind Man’ for example, they actually add a nice deft medieval touch to proceedings. The guitar riffing harks back to the likes of early GAMMA RAY and HELLOWEEN among others while all throughout we’re treated to sweeping fret-melting neoclassical soloing that is much the hallmark of bands performing this style of music.

There’s no doubt that the first half of the album is certainly the stronger of “For Queen and Metal”, that’s not saying the latter half is weak, just not as flat out awesome. “Nightfall” and “Mystical Nights” would be my pick of the bunch along with the PRIEST-esque fist clencher “Screaming for Mercy”. The former two especially have some great choruses and vocal lines by Laura, and yes her accent may put some off but I find a certain charm in it, she has a real powerful presence which above all is what’s important, and when coupled with the driving double bass and riffing it prevents it from ever becoming too limp wristed.

The main drawbacks lie in the structure which remains pretty much the same throughout the whole release; thundering double bass, soaring vocals patterns and the exhaustive keys and soloing it does become a little one dimensional by the end. Closer “Dark Fairy” especially with its cringe worthy intro just never really goes anywhere and is simply unremarkable filler while “Nocturnal Thoughts” is a bit overwrought in its delivery as well at times but disregarding this “For Queen and Metal” is an extremely accomplished effort of the likes that many other Power Metal bands could only wish they could produce in a lifetime. It may not have quite the same staying power of similar acts like DARK MOOR or DREAM EVIL but if over the top showy Power Metal is your thing then by all means give this a try.


Sounds like - Dream Evil, Dark Moor, Edguy

originally written for The Metal Observer

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Yayla - Sathimasal

Genre - Ambient Black Metal

1. Fordreame Wonderlore
2. Emperor; Elegy to Wars Never Fought
3. Harvester; Modesty of All Malevolence
4. Conjurer; Prophetillars Will Hollow
5. Will to Walk Paths to No Temple

Turkey isn’t exactly what can be described as a country with a huge extreme metal scene, I’ve come across a few in my time both good and bad, but very few as promising as this fairly recent obscure act by the name of Yayla. Consisting of a sole member called Emir who handles all the instruments, Sathimasal utilizes an approach that dredges the depraved depths of black metal, twisting and manipulating it into something altogether perverted before spewing out what can only be described as a vile cacophony of ritualistic black metal which is nothing short of unnerving or exhausting.

The first and last tracks are both instrumentals, but the music is such that they fall in line perfectly with the other three tracks as when you do hear Emir’s sparse vocals, it’s evident they’re nothing more than an additional instrument in the conjuration of Yayla’s nightmarish and disintegrating atmosphere alongside the enduring reverb soaked drone of the guitars and repetitive drum programming.

“Fordreame Wonderlore” begins the hellish descent with its apocalyptic surge of heavily distorted guitar and relentless drumming which has to be said remains pretty one-dimensional for its whole seven minutes. While this repetition is effective in getting the basic message across, it is abused a bit too much throughout Sathimasal. Still though, when this album is good, it is exceptionally so. None more evident than “Emperor; Elegy to Wars Never Fought” which is somewhat comparable to a journey through a vast and eerie underground city inhabited only by the stench of the dead. The ending passage of ambience has a slight similarity in its arrangement to “Tomhet” and ties up the song in wickedly hypnotic fashion.

The next two songs are much the same in their arrangements; the very definition of lo-fi, much in the way Mutiilation and Paysage d’Hiver are. When describing the guitar I would use the term ‘riffing’ very loosely for a lot of the time there are no discernible riffs at all, the guitar is distorted to the point where it’s just an impenetrable suspended drone drifting in and out. The vocals range from a low pitched nigh-inaudible groan to a more typical throaty rasp and as stated play a bit-part role as they’re so buried in the mix. “Harvester...” retains the quality of the previous song, the same bottomless and infernal atmosphere though suffers like the next by being overlong and ends up fizzing out over halfway through.

When it’s good, it’s fucking brilliant, but the truth is much of the album could easily have been condensed by cutting all the songs in half as it just tends to lose focus after a while. With a bit more refinement then Emir could definitely be on to something. Nevertheless Sathimasal still contains some quality material and if you’re in the mood for some arcane black metal that’s focused heavily on the pitch black ambient side of things ala old Leviathan or even Urfaust then definitely give it a go.


Sounds like - Lurker of Chalice, Negative Plane, Burzum

Originally written for Metalcrypt

Saturday, 14 April 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Vowels - Hooves, Leaves and the Death/As December Nightingales

Genre - Ambient/Post-Black Metal

1. Wolves Eating the Sun
2. Not Unlike a Falling Leaf
3. Vespri
4. At Night
5. Wake

This surreal bunch of melancholic bastards called VOWELS have just released their first album on Sun and Moon, a double EP which is entitled “Hooves, Leaves and the Death/As December Nightingales” and consists of an EP previously released last year and what appears to be a new EP for the latter three songs. They’ve a hard sound to pin down, the influences are extracted from many different sources; there’s everything from Black Metal to Post-Rock and even Noise present but the main foundation to this release lies firmly in the conjuration of ambient soundscapes and lacing them with a dream-like reclusion culminating in something which is nigh impossible to classify.

The first two tracks are the EP “Hooves, Leaves and the Death” and the first track, ‘Wolves Eating the Sun’ is the only track with any remote metal influence, and even at that it’s minimal. It starts off in a subdued fashion playing a soft melody before a lone riff of tremolo picked dissonance comes in accompanied by the murky clean vocals of V.Z. It follows this same basic pattern while ascending through varying degrees of obscurity before building to a climax consisting of a huge wall of sweeping riffing, soaring vocals and an overall epic grandiosity about it which briefly recalls the best of WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM before petering out into a minute or two of ambience.

The vocals really add a detached air to things, not just the previous song but the whole release in general. I’d liken them to URFAUST or almost even a downtrodden Peter Murphy. ‘Not Unlike a Fallen Leaf’ is where the experimental influences really come into force; a vastly encompassing number that has that definite ominous GODSPEED! YOU BLACK EMPEROR vibe to it enhanced by the stringwork on the cello coupled with sporadic periods of guitar distorted beyond recognition. It’s relaxing yet still manages to leave a lingering trace of uncertainty underneath it all. The previous track took a while to warm to and still doesn’t really click with me fully but it’s certainly not poor by any means. The next three were similarly difficult, but once you sink your teeth into them and sit down and pay attention you begin to hear some really fantastic and unique stuff.

It’s very much ‘headphone music’, introverted, restrained and utterly submissive. ‘Vespri’ with its piano invokes a subtle spatial atmosphere of inner reflection and together with ‘At Night’ and its isolated acoustics, brass and deep gothy vocals and ‘Wake’s’ sultry female vocals they bring up grainy images of an otherwise empty bar in black and white New York during night’s twilight hours, accompanied by nothing but your inner thoughts, the smell of whiskey and a thick haze of cigarette smoke.

As I’ve stated it’s extremely hard to pin a sound down on this release, it’s unconventional and has a myriad of different influences which early on can be a bit jarring and conflicting but its core is centred mainly on a dark minimal ambience which is flat out stylish as well as engaging. The highlights are the second half of the opener and the final three tracks, these are just brilliant and a proper album consisting of this laid-back ambience of the latter would be very welcome indeed. Just unwind, pour yourself a glass of Ireland’s finest and sit back and soak it all in, it may take some time but it’s worth it.


Sounds Like - An alcoholic depression

Originally written for Metal Observer
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Thursday, 12 April 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Graveyard - The Altar of Sculpted Skulls

Genre - Death Metal

1. The Altar of Sculpted Skulls
2. An Epitaph Written in Blood
3. Deathcrowned
4. Cult of the Shadows
5. Ritual (Re-recorded)
6. Howl of the Black Death (Re-recorded)

Spain isn’t exactly the world’s most renowned hotbed for Extreme Metal, Black and Death doesn’t really appear to have much of a presence from our Iberian neighbours. Still nevertheless there are occasional gems that bubble to the surface from time to time, GRAVEYARD being one of them. It’s been two years since their debut “One With the Dead” which was to be blunt fucking devastating, and they’ve just unleashed upon the unsuspecting their newest EP “The Altar of Sculpted Skulls”. And those who loved the debut will be pleased to hear that nothing has really changed, they’re just as deranged and ferocious as before, if not even more so this time around.

Looking at the artwork, I’d almost be tempted to buy this for that alone. Of course it also helps that the music present on this brief EP is Death Metal straight from the top drawer. The first four of the songs here are new while the last two are re-recordings of the tracks from the split with TERRORIST which slot in alongside the new material seamlessly. So for those not in the know, GRAVEYARD extract the shameless groovy brutality of early nineties Swedish Death Metal and fuse it together with the tentative Doom-Death oppression of ASPHYX. If that doesn’t whet your appetite then you’re a rubber eared false.

The sound on this release is nothing short of punishing, a filth laden steamroller that’ll grind your bones to dust, and then reverse back over you again for good measure. The guitar work is fantastic, thick pulverising riffs with an altogether arcane tone are frequently followed by some outright sinister cascading lead work which together with Gusi’s flagellating and vigorous drumming and Julkarn’s booming grave dredging gutturals make for some extremely inspiring music.

Even on ‘An Epitaph Written in Blood’ you can hear the ENTOMBED influence vividly, especially in the beginning before you’re trampled under a huge annihilating riff made of all kinds of awesome. This is pretty much par for the course for all the material present here, extremely claustrophobic Death Metal littered with shredding solos, surging riffs weaved into passages of sheer pedal to the floor speed and slower ASPHYX-esque dirges. The intricacy of some of the drumming and guitar work is simply stunning, and the way the vocals are half submerged by the blizzard of everything else likewise.

It doesn’t stick around for too long but “The Altar of Sculpted Skulls” is exhaustingly good. Death Metal hasn’t been in a form as good as this in many years, and GRAVEYARD are another band to add to that list of promising young acts currently making waves. If frenetic, morbid and downright repulsive Death Metal is your thing, then you could certainly spend your money on a lot worse. If you want innovation and melody then you’re looking into the wrong place. Their next full length will definitely be something to watch out for.


Sounds like - Asphyx, Entombed, Unleashed

Originally written for The Metal Observer

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Horrendous - The Chills

Genre - Death Metal

1. The Womb
2. Ripped to Shreds
3. Altars
4. The Somber (Desolate Winds)
5. Fleshrot
6. The Ritual
7. Fatal Dreams
8. Sleep Sickness
9. The Eye of Madness

There’s been a plethora of bands who’ve emerged from nothingness in the last few years carrying the torch for old school death metal, acts such as Cruciamentum, Morbus Chron, Corpsessed and Venenum among many others, I could go on forever. The truth is, if you’re in anyway a fan of Entombed, Pestilence, Autopsy and the likes these are certainly prosperous times. US act Horrendous are one of the latest to emerge from this crowd of old school idolatry and if not told otherwise I’d have swore blind they were Swedish the resemblance is that uncanny. Ok so their name is a bit naff, but then again, names such as ‘Master’ and ‘Grave’ aren’t exactly stand-out are they?

The music itself though is anything but horrendous, in fact it couldn’t be further from that if it tried; simply put, if you’re sick to the back teeth of sterile blast-fests and soulless wankery then The Chills is the perfect antidote. Horrendous takes your Hate Eternals and Blood Red Thrones and shits on them from a very great height indeed. The way in which the first wave of death metal bands, especially those of Sweden managed to capture such horrific atmospheres with their releases has always fascinated me, and what attracted me to death metal in the first place. Horrendous are no different in this respect as it’s the sheer unique and insanely depraved atmosphere which they manage to concoct that snagged me in the first place and set them out as something different from everyone else.

The vocals certainly do their bit to heighten the atmosphere, a colossal Van Drunen-esque guttural that sounds as if it’s being roared up deep through the cracks in the earth. While the vocals recall Asphyx and Pestilence, the guitar playing has that unmistakable Swedish tone to it, that vague heavy metal slant that spearheaded the riffing styles of Dismember, Dissection and Edge of Sanity among others. It’s thoroughly crushing and has a nice sharp crunch to it, and in their more up-tempo passages they have a great penchant for retaining an underlying catchiness in the midst of all the repulsive savagery. Then we have the soloing, not for a long time have I heard solos as good on a death metal album, nor as frequent. All throughout the album there’s wild unhinged guitar leads rearing up everywhere again recalling classic Dismember among others. The guitar work in general, lead and rhythm on this album is just so well performed; simply put it’s just fucking awesome.

Horrendous have that special ability to be brutal and technical at the same time without even trying, and that’s why I will always prefer bands like this to those such as Origin, Dying Fetus et-al. Song wise they’re all amazing, though choice cuts would be the vicious “The Womb” with its feral lead work, “The Sombre (Desolate Winds)” which is essentially the essence of pure fucking death metal that’s shrouded in a haze of psychotic madness and has on overall more downcast tone that the rest of the album. They even manage to make enough room to fit the nine minute “The Eye of Madness”, an abyssal mesh of sweeping riffs and leads and insane vocals that simply put don’t sound of this earth. Even the bass work is astounding, surprisingly prolific, swaggering about in the background holding everything together like filthy black glue.

It would be an injustice to lump them in with every other new death metal band though, because The Chills is just light-years better than much else the genre has to offer at the minute. It sounds as if it was recorded in some distant subterranean cavern surrounded by an aura of death, decay and madness, otherworldly almost. I suppose in a way the album cover is the perfect embodiment to the sound these guys were aiming for. I wish I could say i was exaggerating when I say I’d put this up there with Like an Ever Flowing Stream, Left Hand Path, Into the Grave and the likes but I’m not. It is that good, and my definite album of the year so far and one the best examples of death metal I’ve heard in a long time. As for this ‘new wave of old school death’, the bar has been set.


Sounds like - Dismember, Nihilist, Edge of Sanity

Orignally written for Metalcrypt

Sunday, 8 April 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Huntress - Spell Eater

Genre - Heavy Metal

1. Spell Eater
2. Senecide
3. Sleep and Death
4. Snow Witch
5. Eight of Swords
6. Aradia
7. Night Rape
8. Children
9. Terror
10. The Tower
11. The Dark

It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much hype revolving around a bands first release, and judging by the reaction of the press you’d be lead to believe there hasn’t been a female in metal since sometime around the Neolithic era. The band in question are Cali act HUNTRESS who ply their trade in an aggressive and upfront traditional style of Heavy Metal that bears a little resemblance to their neighbours north of the border, 3 INCHES OF BLOOD. There is always one thing that was guaranteed to provoke a lot of discussion and arouse interest (among other things) in the band and that is having an ex-playboy model fronting your band, which of course is a great selling point when marketed at a legion of sexually frustrated metallers. Of course they claim ‘she may have been a model but it’s not used as a marketing ploy and gimmick to sell the band’; My fucking arse, so let’s just casually ignore all those promo photos then eh…?

Anyway, enough ranting, “Spell Eater” follows on straight from where the previous EP “Off With Her Head” left off, plodding, middle of the road Heavy Metal that’s about as offensive as a RHAPSODY lyric book. Being honest, front woman Jill Janus does have an impressive set of lungs on her, and has a decent range, she can certainly tear through a scream or two, but other than that her vocals just aren’t that good. There’s no melody whatsoever in her delivery and while she may be a classically trained singer it doesn’t detract from the fact most of the vocal work on the album never really deviates from a mess of shapeless wailing and screaming that sounds somewhere remotely between Kimberly Goss and Angela Gossow . Let’s also not forget the awfully cringe worthy lyrics at times with the rather blunt “Come lay upon me, take me asleep” or poetic genius of “Deep space, that’s the place”. It’s the place for this anyway, and it can fucking stay there for all I care.

The rest of the album is similarly disappointing and ultimately lacks any significant depth save the speedy punch of “Eight of Swords” which is actually quite impressive and the only track with any kick and drive to it and closer “The Tower” to an extent if you can make it that far. The certainly knew how to the pick the single anyway. The rest of the songs just occupy that grey area of mediocrity and very rarely ever threaten to break out of it while riffing is on the whole fairly pedestrian and unremarkable and the guitar solos appear thrown in for the sake of it. I mean technically they’re very good, there’s just no feeling or emotion whatsoever behind the guitar playing, and for a Heavy Metal release it’s inexcusable. The basic foundation of what makes a good straight up blood-pumping Heavy Metal song isn’t there, the memorable and catchy choruses and infectious guitar harmonies just aren’t present.

It’s impossible to pluck any real discernible features that could make “Spell Eater” stand out at all it’s that average, overproduced and dimensionless. It’s not quite offensively bad, its problem is that it’s just unequivocally inoffensive. I could possibly see the appeal if it were to be thrown on for a while at a party or something for a pissed up sing along, but realistically it’s just too derivative and predictable to be of much interest elsewhere. The unfortunate thing is I just know these guys are going to be huge; the hype machine is a fascinating thing, they’re halfway there already before they’ve even released a single album yet, while there are other bands far more deserving of praise such as CHRISTIAN MISTRESS, SIGN OF THE JACKAL or even CRYSTAL VIPER still virtually unknown to many. If you prefer your Heavy Metal with genuine integrity and attitude then look to the above. This is just poor.


Sounds Like - 3 Inches of Blood, Sinergy, Arch Enemy

Originally written for The Metal Observer