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.