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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NEWS: GEOFF TATE Is Not Interested In, Or Comfortable With, What The QUEENSRŸCHE Name Means Now

Source: BLABBERMOUTH.NET

Former Queensryche singer Geoff Tate was recently interviewed by rock journalist Mitch Lafon in Episode 33 of "One on One with Mitch Lafon". You can listen to the interview through the Spreaker widget below. Here are a few excerpts from the chat (transcripted by Blabbermouth.net) :-

On whether his QUEENSRŸCHE "farewell" tour means that Geoff Tate as an artist is done with:

Tate: "No, not at all. It's actually just a farewell to the [QUEENSRŸCHE] name, and kind of an end of the story. And [I'm] very happy about that, very glad that we finally reached a settlement and I can move on with my life now."

On whether he will continue to perform the QUEENSRŸCHE songs after he is done with the QUEENSRŸCHE 'farewell" tour:

Tate: "I'm gonna continue playing the songs I've written on all the albums. This is just, really, saying goodbye to the name and ending that chapter."

On how he is feeling about no longer using the QUEENSRŸCHE name:

Tate: "I haven't really got an answer for that at the moment. I don't have a definitive answer. I can say there's a lot of mixed emotions regarding it with me. I'm glad to be moving on, I can say that — very glad to be moving on. I wish that I was moving on in a different. I wish things would have been different… I wish that it all would have… I can't even really say it yet. Honestly, I can't quite put it into words yet… I just wish it wouldn't have gone to the level that it went to, with the lawsuits and all that stuff, and all the horrible negative stuff that's been said. That never was what I thought QUEENSRŸCHE was about. When I wrote 'Operaton: Mindcrime', people started saying, 'This is a thinking man's metal band' or 'rock band,' and I was very pleased with that moniker; that's what QUEENSRŸCHE really meant to me — was that it's thinking music. It's music that challenges you and you can lose yourself in it and get transported to a different place and it kind of opens up your mind to infinite possibilities. And I was very comfortable with that; that's what I always thought music should be. And I definitely felt proud of that. And now the name means something different; it means this awful lawsuit, this fight, these terrible, negative things, and that's not my idea of what QUEENSRŸCHE is. So I think it's a good time to put an end to that and put a period on it and move on and continue the vision that I had, continue progressing and exploring music."

On what is next for Geoff Tate after the QUEENSRŸCHE "farewell" tour:

Tate: "After this tour is done in September, I plan on launching into a new record at that time. I've been writing and coming up with new material and working on a new vision of where I wanna go musically. And I'm very excited about that."

On how it feels to be able to explore different musical styles without being restricted by people's expectations because of the QUEENSRŸCHE band name:

Tate: "I think I'm in a position that… It's actually a very wonderful position to be in. I can do a lot more of what I want to do, musically, without the confines of the QUEENSRŸCHE name. So that's a very good feeling. I can't get away from hard rock. I mean, I love hard rock and that's what I've always done. My version of it, or my vision of it, may differ from other people's, but that kind of goes with the territory, I think. I don't think, as a writer, you can expect everybody to love everything you do, because you're in a different place than the other guy; we're all moving in different circles, we're all living different lives. When you can line up with what a large amount of people are thinking or experiencing, I think that's a wonderful thing, but it doesn't always happen. So I think you have to like what you do and be into what you do and have a passion for what you do. And that's what it's all about for me, at least. And I think that passion that one has for what they do is contagious and it spreads out and people pick up on it."

On whether he plans to put on any more "Rock And Vaudeville" performances:

Tate: "I hope so. It's a really fun show. From an audience standpoint, it's very entertaining. There's drama, there's comedy, there's a lot of great rock music, starting from the '50s all the way to the present time, that we do. And it's a very, very entertaining show. And from my standpoint, it's incredibly challenging and fun to perform, because I get to sing all these incredible songs from rock history — all the way back from the '50s and the Chuck Berry stuff to KORN. And I love that; I love singing different material and I love the performance aspect of it too."

On whether he can still hit those high notes like he used to in the early QUEENSRŸCHE days:

Tate: "Oh, yeah. I'm not in a wheelchair yet. [laughs] I don't know how to explain it. You sing what you write and you write what you feel and you give the song what it needs, at least your vision of it. I think that singing high or singing low for a reason of, 'This is what I can do,' kind of a showoff kind of thing, is not what I'm interested in. I tend to lean more towards, 'What is the song conveying?' 'What's the sentiment behind the lyric?' 'What's the music doing?' First and foremost, in writing, I try to come up with a melody that's pleasing to me, that I feel conveys the emotion of the song, and then build on it from there. But just to sing high or sing low or… I guess it's more like… I don't look at music as a sporting event; it's not a competition to me. It's an emotional thing; it's an emotional presentation, really."

On how he plans to bill himself when he goes out on tour next year:

Tate: "I'm gonna be announcing some information later in the summer regarding that. It's a little too early to talk about it at the moment. I'm pretty much saying I'm writing a new record right now, and after the tour we'll begin recording."

On the negative connotations surrounding the QUEENSRŸCHE name following the legal drama and public war of words between Tate and his former bandmates:

Tate: "[The legal stuff] has been in the news for so long, and it's what people think about now when they hear the name QUEENSRŸCHE, and that's not at all what I'm interested in thinking about or talking about. An analogy for you: my wife and I used to go to this wonderful Italian restaurant near where we live. It was operated by this family who came from Italy — a man and his wife and their three daughters — and they made just exquisite food. It was just so original and different and unique and they had a very romantic environment in which to serve it in, And they had it for… oh, I don't know… 15 years, something like that. And then they retired. And some other people bought the restaurant, bought the name and continued on with the restaurant. But the whole thing changed. The food was mediocre at best, and what they did was they compensated by creating gigantic portions [laughs] — gigantic portions of mediocrity. The name is the same, but everything else is different. And that's kind of what QUEENSRŸCHE is to me. It's not the same anymore, it's not what I envisioned it to be and what I was striving for years to make with it. It's just a name now that means something different, and what it means I'm not interested in, I'm not comfortable with, and I wanna do something different."

NEWS: 220 VOLT New Album Titled 'Walking In Starlight' Details Out

Swedish hard rock act 220 Volt returns to the scene with a new album called “Walking In Starlight”. Anders Engberg (ex-Therion ex-Lions Share), who joined this group on late 2012, is the new voice of the band. This is his first full album with 220 Volt. Founding members Thomas Drevin and Mats Karlsson handle the guitars, and drummer Peter Hermansson completes the line-up.

220 Volt (founded 1979) was among the top hard rock acts in Scandinavia during the 80's and released their first, self titled album on CBS in June 1983. The band then went on to release five albums between 1983-1988. The last one recorded in the 80's was the album Eye to Eye which is their best selling album internationally, and it was also on heavy rotation on MTV and many radio stations around the world. It was produced by legendary producer Max Norman (Ozzy/Megadeth/Y&T etc..) and who also has mixed 5 tracks for “Walking In Starlight”.

The band’s reputation was built on frequent album releases and energetic live shows. Besides performing their own headline shows, the Swedes have also toured as support for AC/DC and Nazareth among others. In 1985, 220 Volt performed in front of 80.000 people in Warsaw, Poland. The show was broadcasted live on Polish TV, among the first ever TV-shows in the eastern block to feature a hard rock band.

220 Volt split up in 1992, but released the studio album Lethal Illusion in 1997. The quartet was active for a while between 2002-2008 with members from an earlier line-up and produced two albums, “Volume 1” and the live album “Made in Jamtland”.

NEWS: DIE SO FLUID Releases "Black Blizzard" Music Video

Los Angeles / London based gothic rock band Die So Fluid have released the official music video for their track "Black Blizzard" directed by David Kenny. The track is from the band's upcoming album which will be released in the U.S. later this year. Watch for Die So Fluid on tour in the U.S. this fall.

Black Blizzard was inspired by the Dust Bowl tragedy of the 1930s. It's referred to as a natural disaster but it was caused by man. Nature is wild and untamable, and my character in the video is the storm personified-bringing wrath after she has been abused and disrespected. - Grog (Die So Fluid)

Watch Die So Fluid - Black Blizzard Below:


INTERVIEW: GOATWHORE's Ben Falgoust On New Album - "It Reflects The Evolution Of The Band"

“The new Goatwhore sounds just like old Goatwhore. And that’s a good fucking thing.”

I can sum up Goatwhore's new album 'Constricting Rage of the Merciless' with that one statement, but that’d be undermining the efforts of these unholy saints of NOLA’s extreme metal scene. This quartet of Satan’s spawn has been one of the most consistent yet refreshing metal bands to come out in recent times. Formed in 1997 and featuring some of the biggest names from the metal underground like Acid Bath, Crowbar, and Silent Green, Goatwhore is one band who have managed to stay relevant by rightly mixing their influences ranging from old school thrash metal to death and black metal, to form their signature blackened death/thrash sound. The barrage of riffs, unrelenting drums, merciless vocals, and lyrics like “Who needs a God, when you’ve got Satan” which stand out like a dick on a cake, are some of the hallmarks of Goatwhore’s sound. If you are a metal fan, this is one album which should not skip your ears at any cost. And for those of you unfamiliar with the might of Goatwhore, let this be your stepping stone into Satan’s profane sanctuary, for which the rewards are an unrivaled dosage of brutality and blasphemy.

Currently on Summer Slaughter Tour, Metal Wani's writer Srishti Das and Kunal Batra had a chat with frontman Louis Benjamin Falgoust II. He discusses Summer Slaughter Tour, line-up, new album 'Constricting Rage of the Merciless', songwriting, Goatwhore sound, tours and much more.

Stream The Entire Live Interview Below:




Special Thanks To Liz (Earsplit PR) For The Continuous Support \m/

INTERVIEW: ELUVEITIE's Chrigel Glanzmann On 'Origins' - "It's The Most Complex Album We've Ever Come Up With"

Eluveitie’s saga of success began just when mainman and mastermind Chrigel Glanzmann decided to form ELUVEITIE with the goal to fuse Gothenburg styled melodic death metal with ancient folk melodies and themes to a powerful mixture that would soon become the "New Wave of Folk Metal". That was back in 2002 and Chrigel only meant to form a studio project. One decade later they still continue to kick ass and come up rock solid folk metal albums. Eluveitie use traditional instruments amidst guitars and harsh vocals. The lyrics are often in the now extinct language Gaulish.

Gearing Up for a release of their new album "Origins" (Read Our Review here), Metal Wani's Editor In Chief Owais 'Vitek' Nabi & writer Shwetha Kamath recently had a chat with founding member Chrigel Glanzmann as he discusses band's new album 'Origins', songwriting, Folk Metal History, Celtic roots, Tours, lyrical and historical background, trip to India and much more.

Stream The Entire Interview below:

NEWS: MÖTLEY CRÜE's TOMMY LEE Wants Each Show On 'The Final Tour' To Be 'Like A Happy Funeral'

SOURCE : BLABBERMOUTH

Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee told the Reno Gazette-Journal in a new interview that he wanted he each show on band's "The Final Tour" — which kicked off on July 2 in Grand Rapids, Michigan — to be like a wake.

"I always thought it was weird and cool, there's something very bizarre about going to a wake," Lee said. "I still find it so odd that after somebody's funeral, there's that thing where everybody gets together and has drinks and celebrates and parties. And you're like, 'This is f-ing weird.' But there's something real cool about it (too), because everybody's celebrating a life and death simultaneously, the beginning of something new and the end of something old. So I think we've figured out that's how we want this to play out, much like a happy funeral, a celebration."

Lee also spoke about Crüe's over-the-top live show, which features a pair of scantily clad, dancing female backup singers as well as the usual dose of ear-splitting volume and eye-popping pyrotechnics.

"I think that's one of the awesome things about Mötley Crüe," he said. "I think people can blindly go buy a ticket knowing full well when they get there they're gong to be like 'Holy (crap), that was insane. And I think that's cool. That's one of the things that fans will probably miss because not a lot of guys in bands put on shows like we do, not very many that I know of. Just know that it will be mindblowing. That's for sure."

While announcing the first details of "The Final Tour" at a Los Angeles press conference in January, the four members of Mötley Crüe revealed that they took the unusual step of having their lawyer draw up a formal "cessation of touring" agreement that goes into effect at the end of 2015 and prohibits the members of the group from going on the road again under the Mötley Crüe banner.

"This is definitely not something new. We've been talking about this for years," Lee told the Reno Gazette-Journal about the decision to stop touring. "We would constantly ask each other how do we want to, you know, end this thing? I know how we don't want to end it. We don't want to end it with one or two guys still out there touring with two other hired guys. That's just not how we ever envisioned it — ever. And so to prevent that, before anything bad could happen ... we're all still alive and everyone's healthy maybe now is a good time."

Monday, July 28, 2014

REVIEW: SONIC SYNDICATE - "Sonic Syndicate"

Sonic Syndicate from Sweden have released their self-titled fifth studio album 'Sonic Syndicate' this July after a three-year hiatus and the loss of some of their founding members. A follow-up effort to the negatively received ‘We Rule the Night’, the new album breaks away from the old formula that didn’t seem to work. However, the new formula doesn’t do much better.

The challenge that Sonic Syndicate faced here was to try and re-capture the sound of their first two albums, ‘Eden Fire’ and ‘Only Inhuman’, having gone astray on their third and fourth. The band did away with its blend of nu-metal and rock and tried to bring back the tough metalcore edge that had propelled the band to fame in the first place.

However, most of the tracks here feature monotonous, predictable and generic metalcore riffing. Furthermore, the melodies that are prominent seem very lacklustre and uninspired. The new formula seems to be directed towards a much more commercial sound, and this certainly doesn’t work in the band’s favour. Lyrically, Sonic Syndicate traverses over-used and beaten paths, with themes ranging from love’s battles to frustration and anger, and there is nothing new or exciting that one can find here. Nevertheless, it is still an improvement from the previous album.

The only interesting thing is a guest appearance from Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid on “Before You Finally Break” which is sadly forgotten as the album progresses. However, the individual performances from the members deserve some credit. Nathan Biggs delivers powerful vocal lines with solid intonation while John Bengtsson lays down some promising rhythms and grooves on the drums. Karin Axelsson backs up each melody on the bass and Robin Sjunessonn guides the band forward with his technically sublime riffing and leads. But this brings us back to the question: Do just individual performances and technicality make for a great album?


The answer lies more in the feel of the album: and it is “no”. It is a good album, at best. The tracks haven’t been mentioned since most of them are pretty generic and straightforward, giving it the feel of a ‘collection of songs’ rather than a ‘progressive work of art’. Overall, Sonic Syndicate have tried too hard to recapture that energy they radiated in their first two albums, and thus have put out a rather tame effort. The band will, no doubt, receive flak for this new album, but I feel that the group must take a step back and figure out what went wrong here before writing new material.


Rating: 5.5/10


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Reviewed By,
Rishabh P. Mansur

Top 5 Doom/Stoner/Sludge Metal Albums of 2014 (So Far...)

Of all the various sub-genres of heavy metal that have surfaced across its existence, doom metal is perhaps the most idiosyncratic of styles, encompassing a vast spectrum of human emotions yet so otherworldly in its innate spirit. Doom metal is an art form that serves as the medium for merely chronicling one’s suffering and wallowing in the sheer misery of it all rather than acting as an uplifting force on the spirits, which other metal genres ultimately solicit. The genre, despite being based around a limited number of stylistic blue-prints, never fails to produce music that is worth taking note of not solely on the basis of musical value but also genuine artistic endeavoring due to the sheer emotional value of the music. 2014 is no different, and the year has already seen a slew of fantastic releases. In light of the same, making a half yearly selection for this broad genre classification was a difficult of task. As a general disclaimer, the opinions presented here are entirely that of the writer and webzine, and are of course open to debate, as ever.


5. Indian – From All Purity

Easily among the more unhinged releases of this year, Indian’s sludgy blend of doom metal and noise makes for a sonic amalgam of incredibly bludgeoning compositions. A wall of sound would best describe the general aesthetic of this release fairly well given the density of the sound found on this album, yet the compositional prowess and nuancing of the album is something to revel in once the listener gets the past the caustic atmosphere of the album – unifying tracks on the one hand and yet, it might well impression as a extended singular dirge on the other. Noise music and the realm of doom metal certainly go well together, and the complementary nature of the same is certainly attested to by the ploddingly claustrophobic and deranged sound put forth by Indian on ‘From All Purity’.


4. Eyehategod – Eyehategod

While Eyehategod’s classification under the doom metal label in the strictest of senses is up for debate, if one is to look at the birth of sludge metal, one may view the style as the bastard child between hardcore punk and doom metal. Eyehategod has pioneered the style in a most consistent manner, never deviating from its stylistic root and yet always managing to make for a memorable, or at the very least a fun, jammy experience. Rhythmic compositions by nature, the riffs are unostentatiously simplistic, driven by two schools of riff phrasing – one descending from Black Sabbath and the other from the hardcore punk branch (a la Black Flag and Discharge). Thus, most compositions, brief as they are, are essentially a juxtaposition of these two elements. The jammy, free-flowing and bluesy doom-laden riffs is often overcome by a kinetic burst of energy that brings to fore either the punk-ier side of things or an entirely new motif, perhaps a repetitive, comparatively up-beat riff alongside a laconic chanting of a lyric. Introductory phrasal riffs reinforce the main idea driving the song by means of lumbering iteration before moving onto variations of any sort. The vocals haven’t lost their piercing, languid and angsty venom, adding to the contouring of the songs by inadvertently serving as a sonic contrast with the meaty riffs. Eyehategod’s return is a strong one, if that wasn’t obvious already. 


3. Doom:VS – Earthless

The funeral doom outlet of Johan Ericson, otherwise known for his work with the fantastic gothic/doom metal outfit Draconian, Doom:VS’ artistic mantra throughout its decade long existence is one of genuinely despondent endeavouring. Funeral doom metal is perhaps amongst the most personal of heavy/doom metal sub-genres, being so utterly despondent in its emotional scope, thus one certainly can’t fake the style. Doom:VS is amongst the most compelling and genuine practitioners of this style in today’s extreme metal landscape. While some of the tonal sensibilities of Ericson’s main project seem to leak into this project, this can also be found in the more melodic side of doom/death metal as in bands like Daylight Dies. The extended riff phrasings here have a keen sense of euphony and work in counterpoint with the lugubrious and utterly pensive leads that creates a sense of cohesive augmentation. The soundscapes here are bleak and yet strangely elevating due to their melodicity, like a glimmer of nugatory hope amidst the funereal, endearing the listener to the beguiling gloom. Yet another fantastic addition to the sombre oeuvre of Ericson, Doom:VS' latest is as spiritually compelling as it is richly textured and executed.


2. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata

Eparistera Daimones’ was a perfection of the latter day Celtic Frost formula, albeit it was driven by a heightened sense of rage and exasperation than the more brooding and pensive ‘Monotheist’ was. The primary tool employed by Fischer when creating his sound-scapes is the guitar tone, superseding the intricacy of the riff itself. This is not to say that it is lacking in the latter department, as the muscular, finesse-laden riffing and decrepit grooves of songs like ‘Tree of Suffocating Souls’ or ‘Breathing’ (parts of which will certainly make the Hellhammer/Celtic Frost fan smile) will attest to. Rather, the less is more formula serves its purpose when it has such a monolithic tone to lean back on, which is precisely why this textural quality make songs like ‘Black Snow’, ‘Altar of Deceit’ or ‘In The Sleep of Death’ such suffocatingly emotive experiences, painting utterly morose images of doom and death as opposed to being mere droning chug-fests. Fischer and V. Santura’s guitar work invokes a certain gargantuan majesty that is primitive at heart but cultivated and seasoned in its execution, as if to analogically project Fischer’s journey from both a personal and creative perspective. Creative profundities and musical intricacies aside, Triptykon’s sophomore is an album that not only stands proud within the context of metal music but as a piece of art in itself. It is a far more pensive and introspective experience than ‘Eparistera Daimones’, an admittedly more outright heavy and furious record. ‘Melana Chasmata’ is cathartic, it is theatrical and full of a poetic sense of existential agonizing and yet has exuberant moments, and as a whole the integrity and sheer honesty of the artists at hand is more than evident in this type of music, which is both otherworldly and fantastical in its purview, utterly bleak in aesthetic and yet so incredibly intimate and personal.  


1. Novembers Doom – Bled White

With their impeccable balance of doom, death and gothic elements, Novembers Doom is arguably one of the best practitioners of this style of music today. Being a tapestry of various elements, two aspects are key to the band's signature sound - its impeccable mix of the death/doom/gothic metal aesthetic and prog rock ideas. These elements are reintroduced in a distinctive and unique way relative to their older material on ‘Bled White’. Unlike many of the bands that Novembers Doom often finds itself being compared to, the duration of the compositions are sufficient enough to present their ideas by means of cyclic repetition and dabbling in progressive song-writing, while not coming off as overtly mechanical in the alternating set of chord progressions and overall riff phrasings, which have a palpable sense of undulation. Kuhr’s vocal melodies are doleful and thus appropriately baritonal yet with an almost liberatingly empyrean sense of finality. The harsher vocals on the other hand are strident and raucous with a high sense of enunciation. Despite being cast from the same clay, endless comparisons with the Peaceville triumvirate is at the end of the day intellectually dishonest and sells short the sound Novembers Doom has forged for themselves. The band certainly has a distinctive manner in which it presents the various eclectic elements of its compositions – it is elegant and balanced, with a song-structuring that befits its lofty vision and brooding emotional value, while still being plainly memorable within the range of the recursive songs, managing to invoke the intended gamut of somber moods. It is majestic, melancholic and emotionally stirring without any of the pretense, a testament to the honest sense of artistic expression alongside its cultivated conceptual dramatism that the band has honed.



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Article By,
Achintya Venkatesh

REVIEW: GORGASM - "Destined To Violate"

Two albums in after splitting up in ’06 and their reunion later on, and Gorgasm is completely back to where they left off. ‘Destined to Violate’ is a crushing record that is sure to make its mark on this year’s top charts. This record is Gorgasm doing what they do best; simple, no-bullshit brutality wrapped in the guts of whores and sluts alike. From the guttural, indistinguishable vocals to the super-poppy snare, everything about this record is on point.

One of my favorite things about bands with a brutal death/slam sound is their extreme use of sound clips in their music, especially because most of those clips are appropriately from the goriest grindhouse films you can find. I couldn’t recognize the intro clip from “Carnivwhore”, but while listening to the record, my roommate walked in at the beginning of the song. Hearing a female crying and a male mocking her sobbing, he looked super confused and backed out of the room slowly, which made me laugh really hard. This whole album is full of absolutely fantastic sound clips that appeal to my fucked-up sense of humor. From what sounds like some chick being gutted, to the always chilling “Whores don’t get a second chance” clip from ‘Identity’, it’s a fantastic way to mix up the tracks while also making some great references.

As for the actual music, it’s great too! The whole album is set at a relentless pace from the beginning and only picks up steam from there. A really nice surprise was the fact that they kept the same guitar tone they’ve been using for years now. For some reason, countless bands are shifting to the exact same, hollow, boring guitar tone that they probably think is the heaviest thing ever; when in reality, it’s boring and generic. So, more credit to the guys of Gorgasm for holding true to their sound and staying incredibly brutal without changing a thing.

Another point that really separates this album from most of the brutal death pack is the heavy presence of the bass guitar. You can actually distinguish it from the other instruments the whole time, and holy shit, does it add massive balls to this record. The guitar tone sets a pretty heavy bar, but the bass is that final key in really bringing the most brutality possible. It thickens up the groove-laden chugs exponentially, and adds a wicked bite to the faster riffs; listen to the track “Corpsified” if you don’t believe me. The riff work on this record is great as well. It’s getting harder and harder to really stand out in the brutal death metal genre since everyone feels the need to use the same riffs and tone, which is frustrating.

There is a lot of variety on this record that really makes ‘Destined to Violate’ stand out from the rest. This also ranges from the slower, slamming tracks like “Starved for Perversion” to the speedier tracks like “Depraved Depredation” and everything in between. Also, just to throw out some of their fantastic track names, my favorites were “Kuntkiller”, “Funeral Gangbang”, “Visceral Discharge”, and “Mouthful of Menstruation”.


So, the next time you get some LDS folk knocking on your door wanting to talk about their imaginary friends that are going to save your lives, just start throwing these track titles at them; I’ll guarantee that you’ll never hear from them again. The best way to ensure that is to just play the record in the background, since you’ll be wanting to buy this for sure. So yeah, this concludes my dosage of album reviews and life advice for today; you’re welcome, Internet!


Rating: 9/10



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Reviewed By,
Dallas Luckey

REVIEW: OPETH - "Pale Communion"

It’s so hard not to appreciate the work of the band, in the case one doesn’t like it, given you know the kind of effort that goes into recording, writing etc. With that being said, there do exist bands that receive only two types of reactions – love or hate. Opeth is definitely one of them, and others being bands like Mastodon, Dream Theater and Dragonforce. Opeth are often found to be labelled as boring and repetitive. This could be due to the fact that that they have relatively longer songs than other bands, leading to the alienation of the novice listener. On the other hand, there exist fans that seem to think in the specific vein of Opeth and tend to love them and their ideas.

Opeth’s latest release ‘Pale Communion’ has the band settled in a region in which they seem to quite comfortable in. With the release ‘Heritage’, they seem to have found an accent they had long been looking for. Mikael Akerfeldt seems to be a major influence on this, judging by the release of Storm Corrosion (along with Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree). After a 3 year wait, do the fans get what they wanted?

Expectations were vastly differing from a hope for a return to more darker elements to a continuation of the direction they had chosen on Heritage. But, the Swedes are still walking down the unexpected path, and people will continue to lose their minds. What was one of the main shortcomings with this stylistic shift is that with the exception of Damnation, Mikael & Co. had incorporated a progressive rock influence on the albums Ghost Reveries and Watershed, yet always in a generous connection with their death metal roots - something that completely fell off the grid on the band’s previous effort.. In other words, if Åkerfeldt had released the album under a completely different name, nobody would have had any idea that it was indeed Opeth’s work.



“Eternal Rains Will Come” smacks you right across the face with technically skilled assault at the start before slowly transitioning into a relaxing and elegant track boasts of intelligently composed background work. It is already evident that this new and evolved entity that may be Opeth is best when they play their atmosphere card. Throughout the record, you have stunning solos and licks that seem fresh in the midst of the intelligent rhythmic atmosphere. “Cusp of Eternity” and “River” seem to lose their continuity in the middle of the track. This is a great let down because of the seemingly good progressive build that the former song possesses. The notoriously long chunk in the record “Moon Above, Sun Below” is the pinnacle of progressive character on Pale Communion. This could be the best song on the album. From an angle, it can be seen as a synopsis as what the rest of the album is. It is a progressive metallers’ dream. The contrast to the atmospheric “Faith in Others” or the beautiful closing of “Elysian Woes” is unbelievably astonishing.

No prizes for finding the rather repetitive tone this band tends to use for balladic pieces. Same goes for the fact that Mikael harmonizes across the album a bit more than usual. Something most people won’t notice is the drastic change in the guitar tone. Mikael and Fredrik seemed to have taken a more technical approach to the guitar this time around – focusing on the area of finger tone. They both have drastically reduced the overdrive and decay on their guitars. This is something only a privileged few can do, owing to the fact that they can play their axes perfectly. It takes only a common man to appreciate the perfection to which these two have evolved over the years. Martin "Axe" Axenrot has done a great job commanding the tempo of the album throughout, without ever overpowering the music being playing. This is often seen in progressive music, owing to the tone of the music itself. The production work has been taken up a notch, possibly due to the fact Mikael had everything to do with it. Along with Steven Wilson (who mixed the record), they have taken every essential melody, harmonization and guitar solo and they have polished to the extent that it sounds perfect. The whole album should be listened to with the mid-frequencies higher than usual, considering a balanced pair of speakers.

With this release, one can term Opeth as ‘closing down’ or ‘opening up’, relative to their stance on progressive music laden with blues and jazz elements. They seem to have found stable between Ghost Reveries and Blackwater Park but with a different perspective altogether. Clocking just under an hour, Opeth's 11th opus is nothing short of what many will consider a desperate attempt to change their style. They seem like teenagers transitioning to adulthood. If you are one of those who became an avid listener for the progressive side of Opeth, you will be disappointed. On the bright side, this new accented style brings out a very dark and somber style of Opeth which would almost be impossible to propagate with their traditional style of music. Another worry is how this kind of music will affect their caliber of stage performance. Although I’d have liked to hear some death metal parts as from this band, this is undoubtedly a great effort by them. It takes a couple listens to get the flow of the album, and it’s definitely more adjustable to than Heritage. Hope to hear something heavier in general in the future.


Rating: 7.5/10


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Reviewed By,
Nehal Shastri

REVIEW: QUIET RIOT - "Quiet Riot 10"

When reflecting on bands who can be credited with being wildly popular during the formation of "hair metal" in the 1980's, one that immediately comes to mind is Quiet Riot. Initially formed in the early 1970's, Quiet Riot didn't enjoy widespread success until 1983 with the release of their iconic album Metal Health which spawned the classic hits "Cum On Feel the Noize" and "Bang Your Head (Metal Health)". It was also one of the first albums dubbed as heavy metal to top the Billboard charts.

Quiet Riot went on to release several more albums which met with varying degrees of success. The band has had countless numbers of members over the years as their line-up has had as much turnover as a New York subway train. Unfortunately, their biggest loss came with long-time lead singer, Kevin DuBrow's, untimely death in 2007 from a cocaine overdose. It was thought that Quiet Riot died along with DuBrow when drummer Frankie Banali announced that Quiet Riot would no longer be a performing entity. But, after a period of time and blessings from DuBrow's family, Banali decided to bring forth another iteration of the band. The current lineup consists of former Love/Hate singer Jizzy Pearl on vocals, Frankie Banali on drums, Chuck Wright on bass and Alex Grossi on guitar.

Their first outing since DuBrow's passing in 2007, 'Quiet Riot 10' is a pleasant, if unexpected, surprise. Not having been a huge fan of Quiet Riot's catalog, I really wasn't expecting much from this record. I was wrong. The 6 original songs on this record generally have a strong rock/blues base with vocal harmonies in just the right spots. Pearl belts out his vocals on the new original tracks in a mid to high range, quite similar to his predecessor. Banali is still killing it on drums and Wright and Grossi meld their sounds with a slight southern rock and blues inspiration.



The album starts off strong with "Rock in Peace", the first of the 6 original songs with Pearl at the mic. It's hard rocking and anthem-style with lots of overlayed vocals in the chorus. For the first song on the track list, it will make you happy. "Bang for Your Buck" opens with a guitar intro very reminiscent of classic 80's hair bands. While an overall decent song, the repetitive chorus gets a little tedious. "Back Side of Water" and "Back on You" both have that same anthem-style chorus and down to earth garage band sound that give the impression that this band really had fun writing and recording these tracks. "Band Down" has a more bluesy feel, capitalizing on the overproduced vocals and guitar pedal effects. The final original song is "Dogbone Alley". This, along with all the new material, showcases Banali's prowess on the drums and, in this case, is the best aspect of this song. Grossi's solo is unique but not exactly epic.

The final four songs on the album are live versions of Quiet Riot classics taken from the last professional live recordings with late singer, Kevin DuBrow. However, not the classics one might expect. While providing relative nostalgia having two songs taken from their last official studio album, the recording quality isn't stellar and DuBrow's voice sounds a little strained at times. The final song on the record, titled "Rock & Roll Medley", is the last of the live recordings. It rambles on for a lengthy 9 minutes and while probably great for the people witnessing the show, it's far too long for this medium.

For what it's worth, this album is pretty good. Listening to the new material, it's hard to tell you're actually listening to Quiet Riot. The new songs are good enough to rival any of the new hard rock bands that are making a surge right now in 2014. The live recordings are slightly less palatable with lackluster recording quality and DuBrow's crackling voice sounding like he just hit puberty. Overall, definitely worth a listen.


Rating: 7.5/10


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Reviewed By,
Dawn "Mama Love" Brown

REVIEW: OVERKILL - "White Devil Armory"

The east-coast variant of thrash metal has been known to have a heightened sense of punk/hardcore influence, while no doubt borrowing from the NWOBHM in terms of structural complexity, it retains the anthemic simplicity and street sensibilities of punk rock and its derivatives. Overkill is of course one of the earliest and most well known practitioners of this distinctively east-coast style of thrash metal and pivotal to the evolution of thrash metal as a whole despite the sheer unadorned style of their music relative to some of their more complex peers, which comes as no surprise given the original formation of the band was under the moniker Virgin Killer, which was a punk-oriented outfit.

But, isn’t that the very charm of Overkill’s music? Apart from some minor dabbling in slower, more groove-laden elements in their mid-era catalog, Overkill has never undergone any easily discernible stylistic changes and easily puts some of the bigger names in the game to shame as far as sheer consistency is concerned. Seventeen studio albums down, and the band show little signs of neither deviation nor deceleration. The riffs are as explosive as ever, adhering to structuralism as much as they are abrasive and outright fun. The clanging bass that acts as a structural skeleton to the explosive strumming of the guitars, unabated in their intensity, and yet riff phrasings are carefully executed with a palpable sense of tempo regulation and selective melodicity. 

The sheer rhythmic intensity of the album in itself makes this thoroughly enjoyable throughout, be it in songs that are quintessentially thrashing or on the more chug-laden, slower numbers such as ‘Bitter Pill’, which also presents fantastic vocal-lead guitar counterpoint in the chorus, only accentuating the hooky nature of this release. Groovier moments are executed with additional subtleties that take on a bluesy or more melodic countenance. The lead guitar work too is commendable, at times prosaic but certainly shines through when the band pushes forth on songs like ‘Where There’s Smoke...’ or ‘Freedom Rings’. Blitz’s unique vocal delivery adds to the aforementioned rhythmic nature of this album, being as tuneful as it is abrasive, bringing out songs with his bouncy enunciation.

A riding rhythm section accompanied by muscular riffing, alongside Ellsworth’s tireless anthemic proclamations makes for yet another compelling offering from Overkill, and is a solid as any of their better releases. How well some of the songs on the latter half of the album sit well with the listener in terms of immediate memorability is questionable, and doesn’t grip one as firmly as its predecessor ‘The Electric Age’ did in its entirety. I mention this only for the sake of analysis, and one would be fastidious to disregard this album due to the same. ‘White Devil Armory is no doubt a testament to Overkill’s integrity, consistency and executionary finesse. But moreover, it’s a solid slab of meat-and-potatoes, hooky thrashing done marvelously right.

Rating - 8.7/10

Also see: Interview with Overkill's Bobby Blitz

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Reviewed By,
Achintya Venkatesh

Sunday, July 27, 2014

REVIEW: ELUVEITIE - "Origins"

The eight-piece folk metal giant, Eluveitie, hit the metal scene in 2002 with a new and original sound never really heard before with this level of professionalism. In fact, thanks to the band's success, a lot of people refer to this band as one of the original folk metal bands that really developed the sound we have all grown to know and love over the years. Eight members seems like overkill, but the band's past member list is even larger, including instruments varying from the Irish bouzouki to the crumhorn to the hurdy gurdy, and everything in between. One of the band's most iconic features is the fact that, yes they use keyboards and electronic elements, but a lot of their folk sound comes from actual instruments played by actual people. Though it sounds like a simple fact, it's getting surprisingly more and more difficult to find this in the metal world.

Despite being around for 12 years, the band has completed six full length albums, with the most recent one releasing in August of 2014, Origins. All of their albums have been consistently strong and well-thought out, though the band set the bar very high with early releases Spirit and Slania. While Origins is no answer to either album, it is still a very well put together piece of art, and tells a wonderful story thanks to great voice acting.

The album kicks off with an intro track as their albums tend to do, and features a man speaking from the bible “he who has ears to hear, let him hear” which is revisited later in the album as well. The instrumentation, in true Eluveitie style, is top notch and flows seamlessly into the next track, “The Nameless”. This track isn't my favorite on the album, though I love the main melody from the flute in the forefront, the vocal work is weighed more-so on the melodic death metal side and just doesn't flow for me. Immediately following are two very strong folk-driven songs “From Darkness” and “Celtos” with catchy melodies and wonderful drumming. These songs have that traditional folk metal gallop, that rings the dancing elements out of the music.



Then comes the album single, “The Call of the Mountains” which is an undeniably gorgeous song. This song strikingly features female vocalist Anna Murphy, and contains such a large presence, it really manages to take over the album. However, to me, no matter the genre of metal, what you're saying in a song is just as important as how you say it, and while the musical composition is great, the chorus seems to fall short for me. The song builds up so strongly through the verse, then the chorus seems to fade back with simple repetitive lyrics and “ooohs” and somewhat diminishes the strength of the song. Personally, I just feel the chorus could have been even bigger. However, the album quickly picks the melodic death metal aspect up a notch in “Sucellos” which features more themes from the bible in the lyrics. Through the beginning of the song, the drumming and guitar riffs truly drive this song, as the folk instruments take a back seat. However, towards the last half of the track, the song manages to grow even bigger with the addition of (what I believe to be) the hurdy gurdy and pipes.

The last half of the album is just as strong as the first with notable tracks, “The Silver Sister” which maintains a driving tempo with a soaring, catchy chorus, and “The Day of Strife” with a war-like feel. It's safe to say my favorite song on the album has to be “King” that has a moderate tempo, which is where this band really shines in the blending of folk metal and melodic death metal. I could listen to the intro alone on repeat for hours, but of course when Chrigel Glanzmann comes in he only makes the song stronger.

All in all, Origins is another strong release to add to the impressive Eluveitie discography. You must listen to the album from start to finish to really feel it's progression and wonderful story telling. While it's not their strongest album, and does feature some questionable moments, it's very enjoyable and absolutely a release to be proud of. I can't help but wish that they would release this album in an entirely instrumental form so I could truly dive into this massive sound they have, and experience all of the skilled musicianship they have put into this. There are some moments that just sound so massive, it's impossible to hear everything, which in no way is a bad thing!


Rating: 8/10
Reviewed By,
Mattie Jensen

Top 5 Blackened Death Metal Albums of 2014 (So Far...)

2014 yet again seems to be turning out to be an excellent year for the more extreme side of music, with a satisfying balance of both homage payers and stylistic cultivators, and of course artists who largely fall somewhere between the ersatz and innovatory. The realm of extreme metal that doesn't fall neatly into either black or death metal is an interesting one, showcasing different interpretations of the respective genres and sensibilities as far as blending the two are concerned. With the passing of merely half of 2014, there already seem to be a slew of releases that are worth taking note of. As a general disclaimer, the opinions presented here are entirely that of the writer and webzine, and are of course open to debate, as ever.

5. Bölzer – Soma [EP]

<br />Bölzer - SomaSwitzerland’s Bölzer has in recent years produced one of the most refreshing takes on extreme metal, blending bludgeoning death metal with the atmospheric sensibilities of black metal. ‘Soma’, while not as confounding as its predecessor still takes forward the unique riff ideas of the band in a manner that doesn’t take one by as much surprise, as opposed to serving as a rostrum for the compositional evolution of the band. The sheer monolithic quality and sonority of the band still shines through, while pursuing different riff motifs and pacings that are as atmospheric and resonant as they are explosive, accompanied by the thunderous howls of vocalist/guitarist KzR. Certainly, this 19 minute EP isn’t as immediately appealing as ‘Aura’, and showcases a band in a nascent stage of sorts as far as its sound and compositional sensibilities are concerned. However, while this EP is not an avenue for immediate appeasement, it is a grower, putting it simply and a testament to the versatility of the band, in addition to being a teaser of sorts for greater things to come.

 
4. Necros Christos – Nine Graves [EP]

<br />Necros Christos - Nine Graves
Necros Christos’ place in this list is subject to debate, given the stylistic osmosis the band’s music presents between death, doom and black elements into a cohesive dosser of fluid polyrhythm-driven compositions in the spirit of the bands of the yore such as Demigod, Morbid Angel, early Tiamat and Incantation. And, while they may also be compared to newer entities such as Grave Miasma, Bölzer and Weapon, their counterbalance of the comparatively orthodox death/black/doom metal elements with ethnic constituents and instrumentals is quite unique to their occult-driven compositional amalgam. Never is a Necros Christos release without an underlying thematic and conceptual vision, with each song being preceded by a Temple interlude/instrumental. Riff phrasings either assume a crawling pace or a intertwining syncopated disposition, while the percussive sprightliness ushers in a sense of dynamism, something that makes this release something to take note of, apart from the band's unique approach towards its thematic explorations and general atmosphere.


3. Diocletian – Gesundrian

<br />Diocletian - GesundrianInitially having started out as band cast from the same mould as Conqueror and Blasphemy, with time Diocletian have gradually moved towards a more structurally varied variant of the bestial death/black metal style with a more structurally complex constructions akin to the likes of Angelcorpse, who themselves were heavily inspired by the Morbid Angel school of song-writing. The riff phrasings emanate a certain linearity in their execution during a given segment given the limitations of an almost a wholly blasting indulgence, never compromising on chaos within the structural precision, but still bringing out a sense of pulsating and varied constructions. Seeking to portray profound abstractions of the grotesque realisms of ancient warfare in the most fantastical sense, as is attested to by the lyrics, ‘Gesundrian’ is measured and intelligent sonic belligerence typified. Strategic and tastefully placed relief-like pauses and crawling segments, alongside tempo changes accentuate the focal riff ideas. It is by means of nuances like these, combined with the band’s imagery and thematic sensibilities that distinguishes the likes of Diocletian from a sea of bands that, all frills aside, essentially ape the Sarcofago/Blasphemy-Beherit blueprint.


2. Domains – Sinister Ceremonies

While being mostly loyal to the death metal side of things, there is a very palpable layer of blackened compositional ideas on Domains’ debut album, a fine tapestry of quick-moving death metal and blackened melodic nuances in the sense that it rarely fixates on recursive syncopation and instead perpetually seeks out different motions and varying directions. Compositional evolution is the only thing that is constant here, ushering in kinetic yet measured bursts of energy via slower, crawling and emphatic passages. Incantation, Mortuary Drape and Morbid Angel warrant a mention for the sake of comparison, and Immolation for its similarly individualistic approach, yet Domains never borrows directly from them and adds song-writing ploys to songs, often unique melodic constructions or blackened segments that distinguishes itself from the pack. A structurally diverse album that is as melodic as it is dissonant and abrasive, ‘Sinister Ceremonies’ is certainly a breath of fresh air in an otherwise mostly derivative extreme metal landscape. 


1. Teitanblood – Death

In the context of modern heavy music, few artists present legitimately intelligent musings and introspections on the metaphysics surrounding iconoclasm, theurgy, death and the left-hand path like Spain’s Teitanblood. Unabashed in their explorations of the arcane while maintaining a sense of enigmatic expression in their aesthetic sensibilities, both sonic and visual. Using the very theologically conformist concepts they are inimical towards as weapons of narrative building and evolution, with ‘Death’, there is no calm before the storm, not the slightest hint of warning and instead the gross disarray and turmoil is immediately brought to fore, breaking directly into a kinetic sense of riff phrasing that is simply blistering at first impression but quite obviously has a very well thought out sense of frenzy to it. Mainly deriving from the likes of Blasphemy and Incantation, compositions are kept in line with structural dexterity, allowing for periodic and often trudging breaks yet quickly picks up pace and expedite the sonic canvas with its majestic yet inherently primal chord progressions. With a cavernous and downtrodden aesthetic that is as dense as the sometimes obfuscating oscillations of the simplistic yet immensely formidable riffs, and the intense blast-beats of J that catapults these subterranean constructions forward, the bludgeoning soundscapes that are painted by the duo evoke an entropic range of sensations that paint abstractions of bleak millenarianism, almost as if to revel in the imminent doom spewed forth in their heretical hymns. An evidently polarizing release, one camp with its superficial outlook will denounce ‘Death’ as a substance-less, crude and pretentious black/death metal (or better yet, war metal) release; while the other will celebrate this nihilistic yet grandiose monolith; a logical continuation of the extreme art of yore, adding to its primitivistic disposition an aesthetic aided by modernity, with a unique artistic vision to its name. If ‘Seven Chalices’ was the band’s foray into a Qliphotic quagmire of ritualistic mercilessness and occult-driven chaos, Teitanblood’s sophomore outing is a solidification of all these dissident thematic explorations atop an ominousness that is almost apocalyptic in its scope.
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Article By,
Achintya Venkatesh