Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The Gates of Slumber (U.S.): The Awakening [reissue] (Abyss Records)
This is a reissue of the 2004 album, which I never got to hear, actually.
Metal hippies that they are, The Gates of Slumber sounds like the albums they love “Master of Reality” and “Volume 4” by Black Sabbath, and the slow-motion crawling riffs of doom, the stoner-rock vocals (a bit hippy Ozzy-ish, of course), the steady-beat drumming and 70s vibe. During the guitar solos, one clearly hears the “hole” in the song: the drums and bass take to the forefront, while the guitar noodling is taking place. How’s that for 70s style?!
Sometimes the pace might pick up to an uptempo beat, but by and large the rhythm is slow or midpaced, where the riffs take center stage. The heaviness is in abundance, and the melody is kept restrained, to maintain a somewhat rougher, stoner-rock doom metal feel.
This one’s for doomsters, 70s/classic rock enthusiasts, Black Sabbath/Saint Vitus/Cirith Ungol fans, and for those into stoner rock. www.slumberingsouls.com
Monday, December 24, 2012
Zonaria (Sweden): Arrival of the Red Sun (Listenable Records)
Of the ten songs on here, how many are so memorable that you need one listen only?
Well, let’s start with one song that could make them stars: “Liberation Zero.” The uptempo energy and opening hooks are like crazy-glue in music form. The combination of sugary guitar work, with thrashy riffing, and the melodic-thrashy growl metal results in an instant hit.
The three openers grab the listener’s attention quickly: “Arrival of the Red Sun,” “Silent Holocaust,” and “Gunpoint Salvation.” These three will make even a reluctant listener nod along. Zonaria rolls up melody, energy, blasting, thrashing and growling into a compact package.
In reality, it turns out that only “The Blood that Must Be Paid” and “Face My Vengeance” are midtempo songs, a bit slower, ones that will sound better live than on the recording, perhaps. The band’s strengths are in their fast and faster material, in my opinion.
Given that Zonaria has good and very good songs, something becomes clear: Zonaria makes an impression quickly. While it may be true that Zonaria has some fundamental elements of Hypocrisy and Amon Amarth—the gruff vocals, the mix of heavy rhythms, in conjunction with melodic hooks—Zonaria plays at a faster speed, and has more sweeter hooks.
To end, Zonaria is something a downtuned modern thrash band with growled vocals and a constant dose of background/symphonic effects/melodies. They sound like a band that utilizes the latest technology to record their music, so that the album is very ear-friendly. The drumming sounds fast/uptempo, but it is soft (like a drum machine), like a lot of metal with the hi-tech sound, not just Zonaria. I would prefer a drum sound that sounds like the drummer is hitting harder, on a more solid surface.
The description of Zonaria as “the saviors of melodic death metal” is floating around. Whatever. Decide for yourself, but do at least check them out because the material is undoubtedly well-written. www.zonaria.com
GRAI (Russia): O Zemle Rodnoy (Vic Records)
GRAI plays a particularly catchy style of folky, Oktoberfest beer hall music. The upbeat drumming (energized with double-bass in places), the constant quantity of the flute and Irina’s very clean singing makes all their songs instantly likable.
GRAI has the potential to appeal to a very broad audience because it is light and upbeat and happy folky stuff. Irina’s singing style is a pleasant melodic voice that is not too high, but very melodic. For the most part, it is not that super high Nightwish style, but more like a person singing in her own natural voice, and only on occasion going for the higher register, like on “Zimnaya Skazka (A Winter Tale).”
The band utilizes the growl voice sparingly, so it is mostly a clean-singing band, with some moments of growling. This is a good decision on their part because, to these ears, the growling does not particularly fit this style of light, poppy and folk-dancy songs.
I would imagine that this band will be huge in Europe, with those audiences that eat up the folky stuff, given that every song sounds like a “hit,” starting with “Pshenychnaya (The Wheat Song)” and “Pesn O Zemle Rodnoy (About Our Native Land).” The songs are not too long and vary between 3 and 5 minutes, with some going a bit longer or shorter.Investigate if you like folksy, happy songs. You will be very impressed with the vibe of the band. www.vicrecords.com
Katana (Sweden): Storms of War (Listenable Records)
Katana loves old, traditional heavy metal, the style of bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, like Raven and Angel Witch. The singer goes for the high notes a lot to emphasize the end of the verse, line or chorus. This is air raid siren heavy metal, without apologies.
If you listen to a lot of traditional heavy metal, the songs will sound familiar to your subconscious. These songs are made especially for you. Segments or brief parts will remind you of Saxon, Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest, Scorpions and those beloved bands from the NWOBHM.
Really, you can’t fault Katana for playing what they love. Some people might complain about the high vocals or that this is not “original.” Cynics will be cynics.
Good for Katana for playing what they like. They will be better in the future, sound more Katana-ish, but right now they do a competent job of rocking out. This is all the more reason for the band to keep at it undeterred.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Vomitchapel (U.S.): The House of the Lord Despoiled (Osmose)
According to Metal Archives, Vomitchapel is a one-person entity by Justin Blake Stubbs, whose other bands include Lilitu, Father Befouled, Festered, Chasm of Nis, amongst others.
Vomitchapel is garage rehearsal death metal, as hideously magnificent as sound quality of the demos by Sodom, Hellhammer and Mantas/Death. Everything is difficult to hear. The guitars are a rumbling murmur, the drums (machine?) sounds like Animal from The Muppets banging away on one drum and one cymbal. Speaking of Animal, he appears to be a football field away from the microphone in the basement of the sewage treatment plant where this was recorded.
Archgoat fan, you are hereby summoned to the court of Vomitchapel. You are to present yourself at www.vomitchapel.fatherbefouled.com for the enjoyment of possibly the fugliest recording that Metal Bulletin zine has heard in 2012.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Bestial Holocaust (Bolivia): Into the Goat Vulva (Iron Bonehead Productions)
People who swear by South American bulletbelt and leather-spikes-chains metal can point to Bestial Holocaust to demonstrate. The pentagram-evil-goat-inverted-cross and vomit-snarl-black deathrash raw war metal hits the mark of the fine and distinct tradition of metal that Bestial Holocaust represents.
So, then, what does motivate Bestial Holocaust to come up with those sharp-blade black thrashing riffs, that savage blasting and those growl-snarls? Most likely, it is the sounds of early, classic Venom, Bathory, Sodom, Destruction, Sepultura and perhaps no band standing in highest regard than Sarcófago and their classic album “INRI.”
Bestial Holocaust sounds like a band that thinks that Sodom’s best work was their first EP, “In the Sign of Evil”; that Sepultura’s most inspired work was the fury of their first EP “Bestial Devastation”; that Destruction’s best was their first EP “Sentence of Death,” so and so forth. Actually, once you hear this, how can you argue with Bestial Holocaust?
The Possessed-obsessed soul known as Sonia Sepulcral scowls, howls, growls and snarls, grunts and screams (and I think I hear pig-squeals, too) thereby assembling an arsenal of vocals that bring to mind Tom G. Warrior, Schmier, Quorthon, Cronos, Jeff Becerra, Angelripper and lots of Wagner Antichrist.
I could go on and on, but I need to finish this review now. Zine number 33 is ready to print and I have to stop somewhere.
To sum up: Is this music made by Sarcófago fanatics for Sarcófago fanatics? Is this something you would enjoy if you like black thrash deathrash war metal? Is Bestial Holocaust perfect? Yes, to all that. www.ironbonehead.de
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Breed Infection (Iran)
In the U.S., what things are necessary to play death metal of the heaviest brutality and what are some obstacles?: indifference, ridicule, connecting with other metallers, lack of resources and finding channels of activity, and more.
For Breed Infection these questions are very relevant in Iran also, as guitarist H.R. illustrates.
If you think that death metal, and metal in general, is worthwhile music, Breed Infection’s recording “The Maze of the Inaccurate Assumptions” offers much that you should support. Visit www.reverbnation.com/BreedInfection and get in contact with the band: firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Maze of the Inaccurate Assumptions“ is a brutal work. Where did you record it? You have been active since 2010?
H.R: Thank you. Since the sound quality of our work was very important for us, we recorded that in a studio. Yes, we have been working since 2010. At the present time, I'm involved with BI.
How did you start listening to death metal?
For the first time, by one of my friends who gave me a few CDs from Death and Morbid Angel, when I listened to them, I became so astonished and after one week, tracks were repeated over and over.
What do your parents and neighbors think, and where do you rehearse? Do they say, “No one understands what you are saying in the songs!!” By the way, how many languages do you know: Persian, English, Mazandarani/Tabari, too?
We’re practicing in a room we have prepared. We have tried to avoid propagation of sound as much as possible so that we don’t bother anyone. Fortunately, none of the neighbors has complained so far.
Persian and English and of course, Mazandarani isn’t a language, but it’s a type of dialect, like in Texas.
You live in Mazandaran, near the Caspian Sea/Mazandaran Sea. If you want to see a metal concert, where do you go?
If I want to go, I’ll probably go to Indonesia since it’s the
center of Asian death metal. We’re in Mazandaran, near the Caspian Sea, but there isn’t any club in Iran in which we can have any performance. Furthermore, live performance of metal music is illegal here. Other underground artists may also do live performance in houses or villas, but we don’t do that.
Can you tell us names of other metal bands in Iran? Was there death metal in the 1990s in Iran?
Currently, several good metal bands are working in Iran. You can refer to some of the websites such as ReverbNation and Metal-Archives and listen to their songs or get more information. Yes, the root of death metal in Iran goes back to 90.
The U.S. government has done great damage to the economy of Iran. The U.S. politicians celebrate that they have made life very difficult for people in Iran. They want to humiliate Iran, that’s imperialist aggression and arrogance. In this situation of economic hardship, what kinds of things are possible for Breed Infection in Iran? You know, working people in the U.S. do not want war with Iran. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made people here think about all these wars and invasions.
Iranian economy is really in a disorganized situation. In the current month, the Iranian Rial's value dropped to the minimum price. Inflation rate has increased to the highest level. The price of products and even foodstuffs has multiplied and is still increasing. People change their deposits into gold and dollars to avoid devaluation of their assets. One of the reasons that we couldn’t record a full-length album was the very bad economic situation.
We hope no war begins between Iran and the U.S., but the final situation will certainly beyond our desire and hope, and it will depend on the politicians.
As you know, metal music in Iran is forbidden and the only thing we can do is fade to underground.
How can people reading this interview contact you?
We appreciate all those who supported us. The orders we received were beyond our expectations but unfortunately we couldn’t accept all of them due to international sanctions. However, we have a good surprise for those who didn’t receive our album.
Thank you for interview, much appreciated. THE END.
Savage Annihilation (France): Cannibalisme, hérésie et autres sauvageries (Kaotoxin Records)
Savage Annihilation’s zombified, low-growl, blasting death metal creates the impression of monotonous and mind-numbingly fast and disgusting sounds. That is only partly true.
Don’t be fooled! They are a talented bunch with a drummer that sounds like an octopus playing drums: blasting and playing in a complex and fun style. The woof-woof growling is way incomprehensible, so everything’s dandy there. The guitar riffs—really low-heavy tuning--are chugging with some squealing pinch harmonics, without any harmonies/melodies, so that is a major chugging sound. The guitar solos add a nice change of pace from the chugging, actually. www.myspace.com/savageannihilation
Unconsecrated (Spain): Awakening in the Cemetery Grave
Unconsecrated has mastered the Stockholm-style death metal guitar sound, but it is the songs themselves that make the band a pleasurable listen. The growling, the guitar sound, the drumming and the vibe are all competently solid.
The riffs have a bit of identity, so the songs do sound like separate pieces, and not one big blur. Basically, Unconsecrated adds a little of spice, licks, and melody to their sound. That is definitely a prominent feature of the band.
FYI, there are 18 tracks here because it is a compilation of EPs and demos. The sound quality is remarkably good and appropriate. www.myspace.com/unconsecrated
Revolting (Sweden): Hyms of Ghastly Horror (FDA Recotz)
Gore horror movie death metal with lyrics and artwork artwork to show. Revolting’s horror metal has plenty of moments of headbanging good times. They also use melody and memorability in their songs, in addition to the chaos. The style and sound is more Autopsy/Dismember, rather than Krisiun/Origin. The old school feel to the music, regardless of the horror tomfoolery, makes it very easy to enjoy.
Apparently, this is their fourth album since 2009, putting out one every year! Well, well, what we have got here?! An album a year, four years in a row: Revolting is way better than the gore horror image they project. The songs are actually catchy. Surprise, surprise, Revolting rocks!
Shadows in the Crypt (U.S.): Cryptic Communications (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)
Traditional raw fugly nasty black metal, with a pretty good sound quality (not garage sound!). However, by far, the most important feature is the fact that the songs are distinctive, with effective guitar solos, intense yet creative drumming played at blasting speeds, plus a general strength for songs that take little time or effort to remember or to get into.
This album is way better than this review makes it seem. Listeners into serious black metal will need to look into this. Get ready to have a smile by how good this is.
King (Colombia): Forged by Satan’s Doctrine (Deathgasm)
Total woof-woof metal supremacy, with lyrics aggressively mocking religion: songs do not differentiate themselves for their musicality. Rather, it is monotonous repetitive blasting. King is a “no” to musicality, and an enormous “yes” to totalitarian monolithic one-dimensional, one-way track to mind-numbing roaring. www.myspace.com/kingbathroz
Nexhymn (U.S): Black Horizon
22 minutes of death metal where blasting and aural violence are the one objective. The songs go at ferocious pace: when the music ends, there remains in memory a huge, loud blur. Nexhymn is for those with an unending taste for blastattack death metal. Nexhymn sounds very professional in the execution and their death metal is serious business. Approach this if you listen to a lot death metal daily, one album right after another: driving, at the gym, doing homework, brushing your teeth, etc. Not for casual fans, nor for those looking for melody. www.reverbnation.com/nexhymn
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Dogbane’s album “Residual Alcatrazz” goes back and forth between traditional heavy metal and doom metal. In any case, it is “big riff” metal, so that the guitar work sounds it like comes from a secret riff vault that Tony Iommi put away in a hidden corner of North Carolina, where Dogbane found it, opened it and hit the jackpot!
Dogbane basically has a bit of everything for people who like different moods in their heavy metal. However, this is key: variety within the field of straight traditional heavy metal. For Dogbane, the metal trends/genres/styles that came after 1982 are essentially of no interest to them. Thus, no thrash/ death/black/grind, no emo/core/screamo/breakdowns, no poppy melodies and no funny-looking haircuts, no rapping, no synchronized jumping and things like that, basically.
Dogbane= heavy metal of doom. The band’s guitarist Mitchell Allred elucidates their take on metal.
To start off, please clarify something on Metal Archives. Your other guitarist David Ellenburg died this year 2012, but he did play on your album “Residual Alcatraz”? Did David play and hear the album completed before he died?
MA: Yes, David did play on the album. In addition David was a major contributor to our song writing process, as well as a founding member of the band. We both split the solo duties on the recording and worked together in laying down all the harmonies. The man was a friend and a pleasure to work with. Dogbane meant the world to him. David did see the release of “Residual Alcatraz” and we played several dates in support of the album before he passed. He was very proud of the album and excited about our future. We all miss him terribly, but carry on in his memory.
Are you looking for a second guitar player?
We are currently working with Warren Deatherage from the band “Steelwolf” who is a former band mate of our vocalist Jeff Neal. Warren has also contributed to our cover of the Kiss song “Charisma” which will appear on Rock and Roll All Nite: A Milleniun Tribute to Kiss; due out on Versailles Records shortly after the first of the year.
Tell us about the North Carolina world of metal that you guys come from. Does it have a bunch of dudes into heavy and doom stuff? Metal Archives says that your vocalist Jeff Neal is in Steelwolf, a band active since 1984(!)? So, Dogbane is a bunch of total classic doomheads? I suppose you were into Trouble and Candlemass back in the day?
Here in North Carolina at least in our particular area Dogbane stick out like a sore thumb. I think that is a good thing though. Most bands here seem to have a hardcore slant to them and vocalists that you can’t understand. We are certainly coming from a more traditional standpoint. Call us “old school” if you will, but a band needs melody, good song writing, and a vocalist that makes some kind of sense. There are some better-known doom oriented/slanted bands in the state, but they are certainly less traditional than Dogbane.
In regards to Jeff and “Steelwolf,” he did provide vocals in an early demo of theirs and was a member, but he is no longer in the band. All members of Dogbane have been involved in the scene for many years with various other bands. Speaking strictly for myself, “classic doom head” describes me perfectly. I’m still into Trouble and Candlemass. I think “Psalms of the Dead” was one of the best releases of 2012.
“Residual Alcatraz” begins with two up tempo, rocking, big-riff songs, “Ride the Serpent” and “Born to Die.” So, how are you getting that classic guitar sound, the bigness of it, of the Iommi School and fountain of inspiration, to sound so good and organic? Are your recording techniques different? Is it the methods?
There is no doubt that the “Iommi” influence is present. If one plays heavy metal guitar, how could it not be? Dogbane gets the classic guitar sound the very same way other bands have gotten it before us; Gibsons and Marshalls. As a band we do feel most new recordings sound too mechanical and sterile, and we have made a conscious decision to seek a more organic sound.
One will never discover pro-tooling, triggers etc. on a Dogbane album… that just isn’t us. A big portion of the credit must go to our engineer Kevin Davis, who just so happens to be our bass player. He makes sure we keep that big warm sound we all want. I’m not sure if our recording techniques/methods are any different from anyone else’s, perhaps it is the recording equipment: it’s all vintage.
I notice that you seem to care very little about image, gimmicks and other such marketing clichés. Does this come from having been around the block and observing the folly of aspiring musicians selling their souls to the devil just to “make it”? Do you figure, whatever happens, that you are ok having day jobs and playing music for fun, to be a cult band?
I think it just comes from being real. Dogbane is made up of a group of guys who are in their early to mid-forties. If we show up in skinny jeans and dyed hair the jig is up. We are not into being something we are not. We play the type of music we grew up listening to, the type of music we love. I think it is very obvious that we are not hipsters jumping on the retro metal bandwagon. We come from an honest place and I think it shows. I also feel this honesty resonates with people.
We are too old to care about trends or what is hot at the moment. We feel like we don’t have anything to prove to anyone and even if no one was listening to us we would still be rehearsing on Sunday afternoons because music is what we do. Honestly, every musician wants their band to do well, and in that sense we are no different from anyone else. What separates Dogbane from other bands is that we see things for what they are and we have no illusions of grandeur. We travelled those paths a long time ago.
What is the importance of age and wisdom in the world of the music business? Do you think that it is not a coincidence that it is young people, with their hopes and illusions of “making it” that get victimized by the veterans/sharks in the business, and their promises of “you can go far if you stick with me, kid”? Have you gone through some of these experiences?
One of the few things that get better with age is one’s bullshit detector. It will be in your band’s best interest to hone and use this tool. The fact of the matter is that there will always be those out there who want to take advantage of you if they feel there is a dollar to be made and you’re dumb enough to let them. If what you are being told sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. The best way to combat this problem is to be involved with as much of your product as possible. Dogbane produces almost everything in-house, our recordings, merchandise, along with our product design and layout. You will have to step outside in terms of distribution, public relations, mastering, and some advertising, but the more you can handle yourself, the better off you will be. The good news is that through new technology you can control a lot more than in years past. We have tried to avoid those bad kinds of experiences at all possible cost.
“Burning in the Light” melted the earwax in my ears! That heavy guitar sounds really good at the slow pace and Jeff singing like an evil monk channeling the spirit of Ozzy and Messiah Marcolin! You decided to include only one really long song on this album, and this one is it. Who is the person growling in the background?
I’m pleased you like the track. It was a conscious effort to include an extremely long doomed out song on the album. Some have criticized “Burning in the Light” for being too long and monotonous. I personally thought it hit the mark, but there is no doubt it tests the listener’s endurance. David and I did the background vocals.
“Fire and Brimstone” has some cowbell? No? Is it a tambourine? Am I hearing things that aren’t there? Maybe! “I have a disease and the only cure is more cowbell”!! The song “How the Mighty Have Fallen” does have cowbell, right? You decided to bust out with it at the very end of the album!!
What you are hearing on “Fire and Brimstone” is our drummer Jerry playing a Puerto Rican instrument called a guiro. It is a scrubbing instrument that sounds a little similar to a washboard. The tambourine sound is Jerry tapping on a one gallon glass carboy that I make homemade wine in. There is indeed some cowbell on “How The Mighty Have Fallen.” You can’t make a real album without a little cowbell, right?
Tell us how the heavy metal and doom metal heads can get in touch with you and get a copy of the album.
For more information, go to www.dogbaneband.com. We have a complete line of merchandise for those interested, and you can listen to several tracks off of the album. While you are there, follow the links to our Facebook, MySpace, and ReverbNation pages along with our label’s website Heaven and Hell Records. You can also follow us on Twitter. There are no plans for touring at present. THE END.