Saturday, December 16, 2017

Video Review: SNAKEYES Metal Monster

Metal Monster
Official video from the new full length Metal Monster released independently November 25th, 2017
Directed, edited and post production: Leo Traverso
Produced by SnakeyeS & Leo Traveso
Art Assitant Camera: Juan
If one begins to feel nostalgic about the gradual decline of over-the-top, bombastic, cheesy yet lovable heavy-metal as a fashion fad then I doubt you could find a group as loyal to such a movement as SnakeyeS. Their blending of dystopian Tolkien-esque imagery, 80s-style production and harmonic guitar leads are more than sufficient in pigeonholing this group into the genre they wish to conform to. Their single 'Metal Monster' is based upon a fictional character the group have spawned under the same alias. The character appears in the music video as a gigantic, quasi-Gladiator figure who seems to exist in order to control the band members as they visibly play their instruments in a submissive manner. The aesthetics are overtly contrived of course but once you get past that minor flaw it's an undeniable truth that the musicians can indeed play, - and they're decent songwriters, too, albeit a tad streamlined. They're a group that will appeal indubitably to fans of contemporary heavy-metal at its most raw, template and predictable, and while those adjectives aren't ubiqutuously "flattering" the group seem to pull off the corny stereotypes of testosterone-driven metal and embrace it to a certain extent. The song consists of a nice verse, memorable chorus, sweeping guitar sections and a few unexpected breakdowns where you get to hear the drummer at his most choppy and demonstrative. Whether their derivative persona is one of parody or sincerity they do manage to portray an entertaining spectacle either way. -Jaime Regadas

Friday, December 15, 2017

Video Review: ABHORDIUM Obsidian Chamber

Obsidian Chamber
Official promotional video from their new full length Omega Prayer, released independently October 27th, 2017
The start of the video makes me think about the Norwegian band Dimmu Borgir (The Sacrilegious Scorn from the album In Sorte Diaboli and Gateways from the album Abrahadabra). I first thought this band was from Norway, but they are from Finland. It's good to be surprised by Scandinavian bands because their scene has always had a lot to bring to others. Finland is not only limited to Korpiklaani or Lordi. Like some people, I j discovered this band while writing this review. Abhordium is a black metal band, like those from the early 90’s, using old video effects. It's a well-structured video and the music fits perfectly. It's typical to see bones and rites from some black metal bands. This is often related to Christianity which some (most?) of us refuse as a religion or entity. This song is inviting us to think for ourselves. Symbolism is part of this musical art. People who say black metal is all about killing people, sacrificing animals/humans are wrong. The man (as human before the unknown universe surrounding him) is in despair; there's a kind of poetry in this video. Death is everywhere (bones). In darkness there's always the light (candles). We see darkness where light is, and we see light where the darkness is: depending on your point of view. The end of the video makes things clear concerning enlightenment. The One who came first was of Darkness, and gave birth to Light. With every band there's always a message for those who are able to see and listen. It's not easy to understand when your senses are not sensitive. It's like walking through a dark Nordic forest: all your senses are on, and your emotions enter another dimension. -Abyss Forgottentomb

Single Review: HAMFERÐ Frosthvarv

Second single from their new full length Támsins likam to be released on Metal Blade Records January 12, 2018
Promotional video directed by Franklin Henriksen
The beginning of the song sounds like the Swedish depressive black metal band Hypothermia with doom influences. In the beginning of the video we try to understand what happened, reminding more something related to the "end" of the Viking era: crosses as primitive tombs, some Vikings coming back from their long journey, all in a modern style (18th century?), we know that the Viking era ended around the 10th century. But in this video, it's how I see things. At a moment, surrealistic things happen, some dark blood appears and at a moment, there's a dark creature from the woods that killed the woman. Then the man, who saw the scene too late fought against this creature and won: but it's not the creature laying on the ground but his wife. Was it a battle against the man and himself? Was he fighting against his own old demon? Or... Was it especially a message showing that something from the Christianity itself killed too much innocents in Northern Europe? Through centuries, things remain the same, taking a look at the graves make us think to our ancestors. The doom side of the music add a deeper note to the melancholy. The vocalist brings emotions synchronized to the whole video. At the end, all the men sail away, taking with them bitterness and desolation into their hearts. I've never listened to their music because it's new for me, and thanks to this video, I want to listen to their album. Scandinavian bands are always special to me, because they really know to use their emotions in their work. I'm not disappointed at all and I'm sure most of us are not. -Abyss Forgottentomb

EP Review: MORS OMNIBUS Circus Verses (Promo Sampler)

Circus Verses (Promo Sampler)
Release Date: October 31, 2017
There are musical acts that really prompt one to question the very definition of what constitutes "music" and how far such a definition can stretch. MORS OMNIBUS, a dark-ambient noir inspired project is a musical act that really did leave me scratching my head over such a question. The promo release of 'Circus Verses' is perhaps one of the most detached, disassociated and withdrawn releases you'll have heard for a long time and is best thought of as "loose" music designed to accompany an contemporary independent psychological-thriller film of sorts. The project manages to summon the psyche's long-held uncertainty regarding the oppressing question of how we can truly define "music". This is virtually melodically-incoherent in nature yet its structural basis lies within the arms of its intense rhythmic capacity. Throughout each track there's an ominous droning echo that almost imposes an impending threat upon the listener, yet the continuously disjointed patterns of the organic percussion makes one feel at ease.. almost. The opening title track is almost entirely a feast of haunting organic samples whereas 'Old Book' manages to evoke its feelings of terror and dread through the interplay of just a handful of note changes throughout. 'Harlequin', the six-minute track consists entirely of wind-chimes, bells, marimba and celesta. As the track progresses it transports the listener into its own hypnotizing trance and you begin to feel as though you've taken a misplaced detour into the infinite void, - and alas one just continues to spiral into the haze. It may seem a tad orthodox to have released something like this on Halloween night but it certainly wouldn't be incompatible on one's Halloween playlist. -Jaime Regadas

Track list:
1. Circus Verses (preview)
2. Old Book (preview)
3. Premature Burial l (preview)
4. Harlequin (preview)
5. Theatre Macabre (preview)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Documentary Review: British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground

British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground
Tourmaline Films
By Andy Horry in association with Ukem Records
Release Date: Feb 16, 2016
From Motorhead to Venom to Napalm Death to Cradle Of Filth to Akercocke, it’s undeniable how much England has contributed to heavy metal and extreme metal. Of these bands, Napalm Death came from a post-punk scene that would go on to make an impression on thrashers in North and South America who sought to take thrash to the next level. This led to the second wave of death metal that swept the world like a relentless, insurmountable wave, the likes of which would never have been expected. It’s important to remember how it was rooted in a self-sustaining industry that in many ways was deliberately exclusive, made up of radical free thinkers opposed to the government and corporate greed (not to mention the possibility of nuclear war) and not afraid to voice their convictions. A point made at the beginning of Tourmaline Films’ half hour documentary British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground is that English fans had Cradle and could listen to and be inspired by bands from Scandinavia, but they never a black metal scene they could call their own on a similar level to the grindcore scene. Now in the 2010s there is an exclusive English scene in which the bands pay tribute to their heritage and cultural traditions going back to the Victorian era. There are a few differences between this scene and those that emerged from other countries in the early 1990s, and the various controversies that surrounded them at that time. Instead of being fueled by Satanism or dark paganism, many of the new English bands (including Winterfylleth, A Forest of Stars, Old Corpse Road, Fen, Eastern Front and Ethereal) center on spirituality and metaphor, actively applying their traditions, history and folk tales to a modern context. Reflecting on the contemporary social and political state of the United Kingdom, and how religion comes into play when used to rationalize wrongdoing, the scene has a bit more in common with the grindcore scene than Scandinavian. Comparisons are made to My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, two U.K. bands whose music reflected on depresson and desperation. Individuality is an important theme in this new wave of black metal, besides what the themes cited above mean to each musician and songwriter in the scene. The music is quite decent, it relying on atmosphere along with the aesthetics black metallers are familiar with and occasional death metal guitars. I should add the theatrics are different as not all of the bands wear corpsepaint. The live performances have more in common with traditional metal, through the onstage light shows are not intended to overshadow personal connection with the fans. This is a scene that is striking out to become its own entity rather than emulate those of yesteryear, and it seems there is much headway being made here. See for yourself. -Dave Wolff

Fiction: The Demon Of Cortez by Devin Joseph Meaney

The Demon Of Cortez
Fiction by Devin Joseph Meaney

The "Dark Dwarf", a large fishing vessel, had just finished sinking into the blackened abyss that was the Sea of Cortez. There was a violent storm raging, wind and vicious rain plummeted in different directions as the sea was turned into a gaping chasm of malevolence. Michael, a shrimp fisherman, was the only surviving member of the Dark Dwarf. He was clinging to life, hanging on to a small buoy fading in and out of consciousness. The storm raged all night, but somehow, Michael had survived. The next morning was not at all like the previous night. The sea was calm once again and Michael could see nothing on the horizon as he desperately clung to his buoy, his mouth parched with undeniable thirst. For hours he floated in a sunlit purgatory, surrounded by nothing but water, open air and his forever growing anxiety towards his future. It seemed as if things could not get worse. That’s when he saw the ripples. About twenty-five feet away, there was a sudden movement in the water. Bubbles were surfacing and Michael could hear a faint sound that he had never heard before. Then Michael saw the tentacles. Two tendril like whip extensions that seemed to emerge from a watery hell. All went still and a few seconds seemed like hours. With ferocious speed, this aquatic monstrosity darted at Michael, wrapping him in razor tipped appendages. The whip tentacles pulled him closer to the monsters ravenous beak, the evisceration that commenced afterwards was and still is too grisly a tale to tell. Blood and bits of flesh and cloth encircled a buoy, the only remnants of a disaster that will most likely remain unknown. Larger than any squid known to science, this demonic cephalopod had ravaged many a fisherman, but their tales were always regarded as grotesque over-exaggeration or just plain tomfoolery. Men continue to fish. Squid continue to eat. Every now and then when the stars align, a monster meets a man, the sea looking on like a chronicler, too absorbed in his own writings to lend a hand to a fallen commoner. Humans eat squid. Sometimes, the squid eat us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Preview Review: STARSOUP Your World Is Dead

Single from the new full length Castles of Sand released by Metalism Records
Released digitally November 20, 2017
Released on CD December 1, 2017
The lyrics for Your World Is Dead are based on Stephen King's Dark Tower saga. That to me, is very cool because Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I like how this track is melodic, but powerful. The flute sounds really awesome. I like how it has somewhat of a fantasy feel when I listen. Starsoup is a progressive metal band from Moscow Russia, primarily made up of Alexey Markov, with guest musicians. Alexey is a phenomenal vocalist. It seems that he puts so much feeling and energy into his work that you can feel it when you listen. It's clear that he pours so much of his heart and soul into his work. He brings such a strong presence to the microphone. -Deanna Revis

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Full Length Review: AZZIARD Metempsychose

Release Date: December 8, 2017
A cold, snow covered Sunday mid-afternoon is an ideal setting for listening to this French black/death metal band. I felt compelled to open the window in front of my desk so I could feel the cold as well as seeing it, to enhance their disposition. The sun is going down as I listen on and it’s starting to get colder, which makes for an atmosphere even more fitting. Azziard has been active since 2001 and released two demos, a split, an EP and three full lengths. The latest of these full lengths Metempsychose was passed along to me by Juliette Morand of Malpermesita Records and Xenocorp. Again I’m a latecomer to a band I’m just hearing of but from listening to a handful of songs I’m already getting impressions of their singular direction and frame of mind. The lineup is comprised of former members of Mind Asylum, The Negation, Bran Barr, Dreamcatcher and Repudiate to name a handful. All the members of this band have sufficient experience they make use of in this band. Their uniqueness comes from musical subtleties adding up to generate a flight of imagination making you uneasy from the outset of the shadowy introduction Premier Jour. The pensive guitars, haunting lead solo and eerie disembodied voices prepare you for the nightmares waiting to jump into your frail human perception. Azziard stirred this in me with their ability to create grisly, hair-raising ambience with minimal effects and no additional instruments outside guitars, bass and drums. No keys, synths or even acoustic instruments. Just an adeptness at getting different sounds out of the instruments at their disposal and a healthy imagination. This approach to black metal reflects their death metal elements without overshadowing them. Again I refer to the intro Premier Jour which makes use of dissonant chords you hear on death metal albums. The precision of the blast beats speaks of the primal brutality of Deicide and Vital Remains. Drummer Anderswo makes the most effort to cross the two subgenres over, and deserves credit for pulling it off considering the hard work required to do so. Just about every song here is a prime example of where Azziard is taking their black/death crossover, but if I had to choose specific songs they would be L'Enfer, L'Anachorète, Dies, Ascension, Le Meurtre du Héros (check out the shrill screams about midway through), Archétype, Psyché and Le Sacrifice. Night has fallen and it’s colder still so I’m going to listen to this album again. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Premier Jour
2. L'Enfer
3. L'Anachorète, Dies
4. Ascension
5. Le Meurtre du Héros
6. Second Jour
7. Archétype
8. Unus Mundus
9. Psyché
10. Le Sacrifice

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Full Length Review: EXHUMED Death Revenge

Death Revenge
Release Date: October 13, 2017
The metal opera has existed since King Diamond’s classics Fatal Portrait, Abigail and Them were released in the 80s.Then there was Operation: Mindcrime from Queensryche which opened doorways for bands to pass through in the 90s, 2000s and 2010s. This is not even counting the demos released by the Long Island thrashers Maelstrom, the concept of which was reawakened when they reformed in the 2000s. I’m sure there were others by local bands here and there. Back then the idea was in its infancy and there was unlimited ground to cover. I’ve heard many greats since then (the most recent being Zornheym’s Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns), but with the exception of bands like Nile I’ve heard few from death metal bands. Well here’s one death metal band that proves their capability to create a concept album of their own. I just heard about Exhumed’s new album from Alan Lisanti, and getting wind of it was manna from hell. “And they say Death Metal is dumb,” he writes on Facebook. “[The band] is over here turning classic literature into a magnum opus of death. Give it twenty years and all the hipsters will love it.” The hipsters can wait that long if they want. As the California death metal band’s first attempt at doing a concept album, Death Revenge has creative and historical merit in equal parts and clearly a great deal of painstaking research went into the conceptual theme and the lyrics. If you don’t know of the band they play old school melodic death metal reeking of Unleashed, Obituary and Hypocrisy, with shades of Slayer and Venom, guaranteed to make your ears bleed. The storyline takes place in the early nineteenth century and is based on a gruesome practice that from what I understand was commonplace. For clarification of what I’m referring to I’d suggest watching the movie Gangs Of New York, particularly the scene where Amsterdam and his friends raid the ship in the harbor. According to legend this practice happened in Scotland as well as old New York, and the Scottish city of Endinburg is where the narrative of Death Revenge takes place. It’s being called an ambitious work by Exhumed’s label Relapse Records. Divided into thirteen chapters, it has members of the band personifying different characters, pushing Death Revenge closer to death metal opera. Giving it more of a horrific edge is that it’s based on actual historical events, adding reality to the gore soaked brutality of the soundtrack. I should mention the classical pieces adding weight to the album’s conceptual theme and reinforcing the notion that this is an effort on the band’s part to branch out on their own terms. If anything, even if you don’t like death metal, the possibilities presented is endless since there are many historical themes bands of all subgenres can explore. On many levels Relapse has a real winner on their hands. Exhumed has two promotional videos made for Death Revenge, and both can be viewed at the album’s Bandcamp link. And check out the bonus Exodus cover at the end. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Death Revenge Overture
2. Defenders of the Grave
3. Lifeless
4. Dead End
5. Night Work
6. Unspeakable
7. Gravemakers of Edinburgh
8. The Harrowing
9. A Funeral Party
10. The Anatomy Act of 1832
11. Incarnadined Hands
12. Death Revenge
13. Death Revenge Underture (Bonus Track)
14. A Lesson In Violence (Bonus Track)

Poem: 'Where did all the money go?' by Tony Sokol

Where did all the money go?
by Tony Sokol

Where did all the money go?
I had some in my pocket.
Don't even got those pants no more.
So broke I had to hock it.

Yeah I'm selling everything,
my stocks, bonds, Chevrolet.
Last week I had a sandwich.
Cashed out my 401(k).

Saw the president on the news last night.
Cleared my head a bit.
But I saw something in his eyes
that said, it's my job now. Oh shit.

Can't afford to have more kids
might sell the ones I got
If I wasn't scared they'd tax it
I'd try selling pot.

No, can't afford to have more kids.
Can't even afford to jack off.
I invested in some online porn
but they invested with Madoff.

I might lose my job.
I might lose my house
Where did all the money go?
Have you looked behind the couch?