Friday, June 17, 2022

SOLE SYNDICATE - Brave Enough (Official Video)

Sole Syndicate
Into the Flames
Scarlet Records
17 June 2022
Today is the release date for the third album by the Swedish band Sole Syndicate. Below is a video for a song from the album and the Bandcamp link that is streaming another song. I do not know much about the history of the band, but I have been listening to this album. It is contemporary melodic heavy metal, with a bit of a chunky guitar sound in places, with melodic male singing but without screaming and yelling, including not much in the way of high notes. It is not retro heavy metal, although they do have some classic influences. These two songs are good examples of their sound: an ear-friendly type of heavy rock that would appeal to hard rock fans in general. The songwriting and their style keep things rather direct; therefore, it is not necessary to hear the music several times to understand it. In short, listeners that want something that sounds contemporary and melodic, and without glass-shattering yells, just ear-friendly vocals. Sole Syndicate is good at their interpretation of adult contemporary heavy metal.
SOLE SYNDICATE - Brave Enough (Official Video)
Into The Flames by Sole Syndicate

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Tank (U.K.) - LP and CD reissues of 1980s albums

TANK - the High Roller Records reissues LP and CD
Don't Walk Away EP 6. May 2022 (1981)
Filth Hounds of Hades 6. May 2022 (1981)
Power of the Hunter 6. May 2022 (1982)
This Means War 27.05.2022 (1983)
Honour & Blood 27.05.2022 (1984)
[The music below from YouTube is here for your information. See below for the links for the official High Roller Records full recordings. This commentary is based on the High Roller Records versions provided to this publication.]
The background leading to the formation of Tank (U.K.) involves Motorhead and punk rock icons The Damned. After The Damned’s hot 1977 debut Damned Damned Damned and another 1977 not-so-well-received album called Music for Pleasure, the band broke up, but soon three of the members, without guitarist Brian James, returned as The Doomed and then went back to calling themselves The Damned: lead vocalist Dave Vanian, bassist-turned-guitarist Captain Sensible, and drummer Rat Scabies. Now they needed a bassist. Enter Algy Ward, formerly of Australian punk rock band The Saints. With Algy The Damned recorded their fan-favorite album Machine Gun Etiquette (1979), an entertaining collage of punk, goth, classic rock and vibes of oldie rock and roll. The band also recorded some additional songs that were released separately. One of those is their cover of the Sweet song “Ballroom Blitz,” which features Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister as a guest on bass and backing vocals. The protagonist of our story, Algy Ward, seemed to be doing pretty well in The Damned, but it was not to be. He played bass on the album (he’s also on the cover of the album; he’s the one wearing a leather jacket), seems to have done some performances (Old Grey Whistle Test [available on YouTube]) and he also appears on the video of the classic song “Smash it up,” amongst other things with The Damned, but he did not last and was reportedly fired due to personality conflicts.
The Damned - Melody Lee
The Damned - Smash it up
Now out of The Damned, Algy forms Tank in 1980 with brothers Peter (guitar) and Mark Brabbs (drums) with him on vocals and bass. In 1981 they give everybody a warning of what’s come with the EP produced by Motorhead guitarist Eddie Clarke, who also produced the 1982 debut album Filth Hounds of Hades. The EP title track, as fans of German thrash know, has been covered by Sodom, and then later on Sodom again covered another Tank song from the debut full-length. The debut is basically a form of Motorhead heavy metal rock and roll rambunctiousness. The EP is cool, but Tank tightened up the speed and intensity on the full-length. Today the full-length sounds more like a greatest hits compilation because all the songs are good. The album sounds like a real band playing right in front of the listener. So full of energy, as the band says, of blood, guts and beer. Some of the songs are basically speed metal numbers, right there for the taking by the young American and German bands to retool it and repurpose it as thrash. The album in general has a wonderful energy to it.
Tank - Turn your Head Around
Sodom - Turn Your Head Around
Tank - Shellshock
They followed up with another album in 1982 called Power of the Hunter. It is the same sound. The masculine but melodic Lemmy-like singing, and in Tank the vocals are singing; it’s not shouting nor screaming, but it does have a rough edge to it while never forgetting to sing. The difference between the first and second album is that on the sophomore work the guitars have been pushed back some. There is less of a crunch, and also less of that urgency that makes the debut compelling. Perhaps it could be summed up this way: The second album did not push Tank into that next phase of songwriting. There are a couple of songs that seem less developed than perhaps they would have liked. Releasing two full-length albums in the same year is not easy, and Tank must also have been on the road at this time trying to make a name for themselves.
Tank - Set Your Back On Fire
Tank - Power Of The Hunter
Some of the Tank lyrics veer too much into joke-band and x-rated territories, making some people dismiss them as a potty-mouth band of drunks. The first two Tank albums have typical rock and roll lyrics. It’s possible that politically-correct people will not like Tank lyrics for the same reasons that they might not like Motorhead or Venom lyrics. It is also possible that Tank realized that they had two problems: they needed to step up their songwriting and needed better lyrics. It’s not good to get dismissed as a joke or stupid band, and they must have sensed it.
They rectified on both counts with This Means War (1983), and also with the next one Honour & Blood (1984). Overall, they focus more on their war and personal lyrics, and step away from the I-think-alcohol-is-the-best-thing-ever lyrics and got further from the x-rated lyrics, too. Two improvements. The new phase of the band features two guitarists and with new personnel after the Brabbs brothers left after the recording of This Means War. How was the music different? One finds the best answer to the question with the opening song “Just Like Something from Hell.” It sounds like Tank. The drumming, the speed and the singing is all Tank, as is the sound of the riffs and guitars. Clocking in at a total of eight minutes and thirty seconds. This is the new Tank. The biggest sign of change is that this song boldly features a solo of dueling guitars going at each other. Tank has taken their game to the next level. Everything about it sounds 100 percent like Tank, but compared to the previous album, these just sound like better riffs, better solos and a more professional presentation, including better lyrics. While the majority of the album is not as ambitious as the first song, and some of the songs would fit perfectly fine on the first two albums, it is, considered as a work, Tank upping their game, and recognizing that they understand that heavy metal music in 1983 equals better guitar playing, more professionalism and a tighter sound. All these matters also apply to the next album Honour & Blood. Once again, Tank continues their transformation into a band that can hang with younger thrash bands that they influenced. The 1984 album has plenty of war-themed songs, and an interesting cover of the soul classic “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin. The music itself would not lead many people to identify it as a cover because it sounds like another Tank song.
Tank - Just Like Something From Hell
Tank - The War Drags Ever On
TANK - Chain Of Fools
Aretha Franklin - Chain of Fools
In conclusion, in 1984 Tank has made some changes with guitarists Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans joining. Who would have thought that just some five years earlier this same Algy Ward was the bassist in a punk band playing a rather different type of rock music? These High Roller Records versions of the albums have extra songs that the devoted Tank collector may be interested in. As expected, they are extra songs for the die-hard collectors. The bonus songs do not make or break these albums, and the albums stand on their own just fine without the extra songs, some of which are good, and some of which are ok, and others do not add anything to the album. For example, This Means War has a bonus song called “The Man That Never Was.” It’s a good Tank song, but then there is “Whichcatchewedmycuckoo,” which is Algy showing his prankster and punk personality. This track is very underdeveloped. There is a reason why this “song” was not included on the album. It’s because it’s stupid, that’s why. Hear it one time so that you can hear for yourself that it is not a real song, and then never listen to it again. Regardless of these shenanigans, the album itself, the official album, is worthwhile for the enthusiasts of 1980s British heavy metal bands, especially the ones forgotten by time. Tank did not survive the 1980s. By the end of the decade, they were gone after another album in 1987. Nowadays, there seem to be two Tanks. One Tank is Algy doing everything himself in a solo project, and the other Tank is former members Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans calling themselves Tank without Algy in the band. However, in the 1980s Tank was a worthy band and these High Roller Records reissues are a good reminder of that.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Space Vacation - melodic metal from California

Space Vacation
White Hot Reflection
Pure Steel Records
April 29th 2022
The melodic traditional band Space Vacation (California, U.S.) is now on its fifth album since its 2008 formation. If the question is, what is most ear-friendly melodic heavy metal in 2022? The answer might be Space Vacation, a type of European-U.S. sound combination of Priest/Scorpions/Maiden and Van Halen/Night Ranger/Sammy Hagar/Y & T. The choruses and singing style are closer to Night Ranger, which is to say that it is exceedingly easy on the ears. The guitar playing is mostly traditional melodic riffs and solos and some shredding. Speaking of Night Ranger, Space Vacation has a song called “Don’t Say It,” which could function as a cousin song to the classic arena hit “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.”
The album is 13 tracks in one hour, and of those, 12 are songs and another track is a Van Halen-style nice, gentle tapping track called “Sleep Tight.” The guitar player could probably do a solo album of songs like that every month. It’s a short two-minute fun little number, not a song.
Space Vacation is classic-rock-based melodic metal, generally speaking. However, listeners should be warned about some of the lyrics like the opening song “Reign in Hell” or “Being Evil,” which makes them seem like a pro-devil and pro-hell band. Such lyrics may be a turnoff for people who want “fun metal,” not “some jailbird creep who works at Walgreens” telling them about the power of Satan. (To which those people will reply, “If Satan is so powerful, then why does your little band have only 11 people, including your girlfriends, at the local bar when you play a show? Why is Satan not helping y’all to rule the world?”.) Most of Space Vacation lyrics seem ok, and some are even funny in a good way, like on the song “Middle Ages,” with its golden oldies rock vibe singing about a middle-aged person taking pills, going to bed on schedule and being tired all the time. What American mom would not identify with those lyrics about mental and physical exhaustion, right?!
To end, Space Vacation is solid, full of good songs. The melodic, gentle, soft-on-the-ears singing helps.
SPACE VACATION - Reign in Hell (Official Video)
Middle Ages

Dead Head - long-running thrash/death from Holland

Dead Head
Slave Driver
Hammerheart Records
In 1989 the Dutch exporters of fury began by recording two songs “Rites of Kandar” and “I, Tormentor” in what can be described as raging thrash, in a tight, compact, high-speed iteration of Kreator metal. Think of the Kreator songs “Ripping Corpse,” “Pleasure to Kill,” and “Under the Guillotine” and that’s the type of “thrash” that Deadhead had in mind. Decades later after demos, EPs and other recordings, now with a total of seven studio albums (including this one), their music remains aimed at thrash fanatics. The drummer Hans Spijker (1989-1992, 1995-present) believes in playing fast. The guitarists Robbie Woning (1989-present) and Ronnie Vanderwey (1989-present) riff and shred like nobody’s business. The vocalist nowadays is Ralph de Boer (bass, vocals) (2008-2011, 2021-present), given that Tom van Dijk (bass, vocals) (1989-1999, 2003-2008, 2012-2021) is no longer a member of the band.
This new album (ten songs in 46 minutes) is what thrashers and long-time fans expect from this band: headbanging, shredding intense songs. One interesting thing that they are doing on the album is the moderate, limited use of tempo changes. In some spots, they slow the pace from frenetic thrashing to something closer to death metal. They show that they can play some less-than-frenzied moods, but they prefer to keep it as a tertiary element used with a purpose, and not as a recurring formula. Headbanging songs remains the number one priority. That, after decades of music, is worth the time of the rabid thrash zealots the world over.
Dead Head - Acolyte (Official Video)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Mangog - doom lifers from Maryland, U.S.

Economic Violence
Argonauta Records
June 25th, 2021
I missed the boat on this 2021 album by Maryland, U.S. doomsters Mangog. It is their fourth release overall after an EP, an album, another EP and now this album. The band has been active since 2014, but the members are lifers of the scene. The band is led by Bert Hall, Jr., who has been doing the doom craft since 1988, starting with the cult band Revelation.
Mangog is all about traditional doom, almost like if you can imagine the pioneers of heavy rock (Cream, Blue Cheer, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Mountain, Sir Lord Baltimore, Iron Butterfly and all those bands) doing their heavy rock thing in 2022 and you’d have a good idea of these ten tracks in 51 minutes. Some of it is just heaviness, while other parts are a bit more psychedelic, and other segments are bluesier, but it all makes sense as Mangog, giving the die-hard fanatics the sound of a band playing its instruments, not the sound of computer software metal. It’s heavy, with that blues rock edge and grit. The singing is that blue-collar-man singing out his joys and frustrations in life, with a declared sympathy for the working masses struggling to survive under the brutality of the capitalist ruling class and its government. This is pretty much what you’d expect from Bert and company: some quality doom with real-life lyrics.
Economic Violence by Mangog-official page

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Laverno - death metal from Venezuela

The Venezuelan death metal band Laverno is back in action. They say that they have five members and that they all live in Venezuela. They were active between 1992 and 1998 doing shows with bands like DEATH MORTOR, HEX, NOXIOUS, DEMISE, POSTMORTEM, CRUXIFICTION, METALEPCIA, MANIFESTO, EPIDEMIA, TRAUMA, ABADDON, CENTURION, EPITAPHIO, KRUEGER, NECROPCIA, LEVITICO, CROSS OF IRON, BLASPHEMY, TRIFIXION, INQUISITION, REBELION and others. They continued again in 2015 and have been doing shows with: OVERGROUND, FLESH ROTTEN INGESTED, PREDATOR, BIOWARFARE, MORTUORIUM, VALLIUM 100KD, SACRIFICE, ASHTAR SHERAN, CLERIGO EN FUEGO, KHARMA, PERISHING, NOCTURNAL HOLLOUW, VIL HEX, EXARIGON, LA BANDA QUE NO JUEGA, MORPHIN LIPZ, WITHOUS SOUL, and others. They have a 2018 EP called "Regreso a la absolución" (Return to absolution) and it is available at their Youtube channel and at Soundcloud. The band is: Carlos Luis Solórzano and Marcos Alfano on guitars, Hernán Sequera on drums, Jacob Gouverneur does the growling and Jorge Rodríguez is on bass.
The EP is three songs of headbanging death metal in the old-school way. This is not melodic music, but the solos do have a bit of melody. The rhythm or pace of the songs is about the same as thrash, but the music is a bit heavier and with growling, of course. They say that they are working on a new EP that will be called El mar de los cangrejos muertos (The sea of dead crabs). Fans of old-school death may enjoy the direct, no-nonsense approach displayed on the 2018 recording. I have not heard the new music, but if it’s similar to their previous work, it should be a fun listen.
Laverno - EP - Regreso a la absolución (full album)

Noisgoroth - blasting black metal for Christianity

Noisgoroth seems to be work of one Kenneth "Nattesorg" Holsen, who appears to have done lots of solo metal projects. Specifically, Noisgoroth is blasting black metal, one fast song after another, in the prototypical style of the guitar work associated with the genre. The lyrics do not seem to be available on Bandcamp, but the project is associated with the Christian label Annihilated Pentagram Productions, which features Noisgoroth as one of the entities on the roster. Anyway, it is fast extreme metal for constant headbanging. It is meant for the songs to be in the same style, and on Facebook this is called "monotonous black metal." This is for when only fast black metal will do.
Laid His Mountains and His Heritage [black] by Noisgoroth

Friday, April 15, 2022

Catacomb - old French atmospheric death metal lives again

Back to Unknown Kadath
18 March 2022
Catacomb originally was demo-level 1990s death, active from 1990 to 1994. They were active again for 1997 to 2003. The French entity is at it again from 2018 to the present, according to Metal Archives. Including this new EP, there have been some seven demos and EPs. This EP is a re-recording of their 1993 demo called In the Maze of Kadath. The old recording is available on YouTube. It is a good demo of atmospheric uptempo death, but listeners are not able to hear fully what the band was trying to do, given the low quality of the recording.
Catacomb knows this. This is why they felt the need to go back and do a new version with the knowledge, experience and skills that they have now. The result is substantially better in sound quality. From the old recording only two members remain: Benjamin Bussy on bass and vocals and Anthony Derycke on guitars, and no drummer appears to be credited, although the drumming does not sound like real drums, which a weakness of this recording. Nowadays people would say that this is old-school 1980s/early 90s ominous, sinister atmospheric uptempo death, the same style as the demo. The vocals are all low, brutal growling, while the riffs fly about every which way and offering melodic flavorings. The keyboards are important to smooth the harsh, heavy feel. Essentially, they have revived songs that they felt were good compositions but were hindered by the low quality of the recording. Maybe this is a sign that new music is on the way?!
Stream it on all platforms
Back to Unknown Kadath by CATACOMB
CATACOMB "Back to Unknown Kadath" [Full Album HD]

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

in Everett this Friday: Rat King, Born Without Blood, Alum Occulta, Effluvia

This extreme metal show will take place this coming Friday in Everett.
Rat King, Born Without Blood, Alum Occulta, Effluvia
Night Adder Productions - Tony Vs Garage[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%7D]%7D

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Void Dancer - Washington state melodeath debut album April 22

Washington state melodic death band Void Dancer has announced that on April 22nd they will have the debut full-length called Prone Burial. The album is a follow-up to their first official recording from 2020, the self-titled EP. Right now they have a song available on Bandcamp and it is called "Utopian Sprawl." Below is said song and also the 2020 EP in case that you may be interested in hearing more of their music by hearing what they have done previously.
Prone Burial by Void Dancer
Void Dancer EP by Void Dancer

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Falamh - melodic black metal from North Bay, Ontario, Canada

Here is something that I have been checking out recently. They have a 2020 EP and this new one, and both have a rather raw feel and the drum sound seems a bit muffled, and a bit stiff, like drum sampling, resulting in a sound quality not as clear and powerful as the band would want. Yet, despite this issue, it is a pretty good EP (4 full songs in 24 minutes). It is mostly midtempo/uptempo (but not blasting) melodic extreme metal, mostly in the style of traditional, melodic, tremolo black metal with strong growling in the lower register (for black metal) and not too much shrieking. In addition, sometimes the guitar sounds similar to melodic death metal, so there is a feeling that there is some of that in there. There is some clean guitar and some passages in which they go into brief mellower moods, perhaps like more melancholic in feel. They are in that good musical place in which they have some variety in their music, but they are keeping everything balanced. There are headbanging moments, of course, but some other moods. In short, audiences looking for some new classic-style melodic extreme metal may want to consider taking a look at this Canadian band from Ontario.
Aeons Effigy by Falamh

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Varathron - - CD reissues of Greek black metal cult recordings Walpurgisnacht (1995) and The Lament of Gods (1999)

1 April 2022
The Lament of Gods
25 March 2022
These are reissues of the long-running Greek cult black metal band Varathron (1988-present). Walpurgisnacht (1995) was the second album following the 1993 debut full-length that came after a few demos/singles going back to 1989. The Lament of Gods is a 1999 EP, and in this reissue it includes the 1997 demo “Sarmutius Pegorus.” The music at times launches into full-on headbanging speed, but more so on the 1995 album than the 1999 recording, for instance. By 1997 the band has developed the horror-gothic keyboards further and reached a good balance between extreme metal and somber/horror moods. I sometimes get the feeling that these Varathron recordings are, if you are able to imagine it, something like 1984-1986 Celtic Frost covering Mercyful Fate songs with the added element of more prominent keyboards. Does it sound like any of those bands? No, it does not, but repeated listens reveal spots in which you hear the music that influenced them. There are some brief moments in which I feel like, “That could only have from Celtic Frost and nowhere else!”, if you know the context of the time and of Varathron.
Let’s unpack this matter with an example. The Lament of Gods EP has a cover of Mercyful Fate’s 1982 song “Nuns Have No Fun” (which itself sounds like a Judas Priest/Scorpions-based song, with explicit lyrics [and Judas Priest and Scorpions themselves took a lot from Led Zeppelin]). Varathron takes this standard-style heavy rock song, and then adds Greek Orthodox Church choir chanting at the beginning, brings in the heavier tuning and pushes up the keyboards, and then the low-growl scowl extreme vocals. Really, they could have changed the lyrics and called it their own original song, and not many people would have noticed. At the very worst, they, like Metallica, just could have said that they love the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (of which Mercyful Fate was basically part) and that some of their ideas are inspired by those bands. Varathron could have left it at that and said no more about it. Anyway, so it does kind of sound like classic Celtic Frost covering Mercyful Fate. Wait. There’s more because the song is wrapped in that horror movie soundtrack, dark classical music and gothic rock vibe. For instance, somewhere in there in the song, there is a trace of bands like Joy Division, like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and those keyboards. Those types of keyboards do not come from Judas Priest nor Mercyful Fate. Varathron was getting ideas from other places.
However, then listen to the next song on this Vic Records reissue, namely, “The Grim Palace” (from the 1997 EP), and this is closer to headbanging black metal, a bit like neosymphonic black metal, with a mellow middle segment, and with some blasting, but in the Varathron way. Anyway, so that’s how this band rolls, kind of doing various things at once and turning it into what people call the old-school Greek black metal sound. The recording sound quality is ok, it’s not bad at all, considering the level of technology and resources available to an underground Greek band at that time. In some spots, the drumming sounds fast but stiff, like drum programming. It's also possible that all these recordings have drum programming. It’s not clear from the information available and it’s not like the band wanted to brag about their use of drum machines.
To get the fancy reissues see what Vic Records is doing. The YouTube videos below are here for your information only. The videos do not come from Vic Records.
Nuns Have No Fun
Varathron - Walpurgisnacht [ Full-length 1995]
VARATHRON The Lament of Gods - 1999 [FULL ALBUM]

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Nasty Bits - old-style heavy metal (Washington state, USA)

Bandcamp and Metal Archives have a 2018 album listed for this hard-rocking heavy metal band in the Seattle area. On their Facebook page it looks like they were playing shows in Washington state around 2019, but it is not clear what is happening now. The album could be of interest to audiences wanting a bit of that old-school, rough sound in heavy metal, perhaps a pre-1983 type of sound.
Nasty Bits by Nasty Bits

Bludgeoned - brutal death (Washington state, USA)

Metal Archives shows that this brutal death metal project formed in 2018. They did a single in 2019, another single in 2021 and then the EP below in 2021. It is Sean May on guitars (2018-present) (ex-Covidectomy); Jonathan Huber on the growling (2018-present) (ex-I, Detest, ex-I Declare War, ex-Pathology, ex-Aegaeon [live], ex-Whitechapel [live], ex-Figureless Embodiment) and Nikhil Talwalkar on drums (2020-present), who seems to be a drummer-for-hire for projects in the U.S. and abroad. Anyway, this recording is exclusively for fans of the brutal sounds.
Summary Execution by Bludgeoned

Thursday, March 24, 2022

when Denver death metal came to Everett: Astral Tomb, Insipidus, Cronos Compulsion & Sunshine Lollipop

On Wednesday night March 23rd at Tony V’s Garage in Everett three Denver, Colorado area bands brought their death metal. Cronos Compulsion kicked things off with their old-school death doom. They have their slower moments and they also launch into high speed headbanging segments. Their music overall stays more in the primal, brutal side of things.
Cursed and Decaying by Cronos Compulsion
Insipidus followed with their guitar-shredding-jamming death metal. The growling and drumming make you think this is death metal, but the guitar is not the normal or expected death metal riffs. Rather, there is a shreddy, jam or solo-mania trait going on that suggests that there are other things happening besides regular death metal. When you hear the music on the recording it already seems like a sound individual to the band, and when you hear it live that is confirmed. It is a bit different, and sometimes it sounds like the guitar goes into its own little world of shredding and soloing, all the while the growling, drums and bass are keeping the main road of the rhythm steady so that listener does not lose track. The band played its own material, and also did at least three covers: Deicide, Sepultura and Death.
INSIPIDUS Banal Apathy — Demo by Insipidus
The third band was Sunshine Lollipop from Washington state. This is a band obsessed with destroying and ridiculing music as we know it. Their positive-mind grind songs last anywhere from one to 30 seconds. They say that their lyrics are all about happiness, and they even played a birthday song for a man that said it was his birthday. The band told him that they loved him, and the strange man revealed that he had lied to all of us and it was not really his birthday, and so we grabbed objects to throw to the stranger because of how furious we felt at being lied to at a metal show. Just kidding. We did not assault the stranger. That would violate the rules of Sunshine Lollipop.
This band also played a longer song that could have lasted up to two minutes, which felt like an eternity. I sensed that they were mocking the laziness of doom bands’ one-note boring super long songs of nothing-happening. The band, I believe, likes to play short songs because they love it when people clap every few seconds, which is what happened on this night. So many short songs (maybe 25?!), and people clapped. A lot. A whole lot. The drummer, Scott Sandefur (formerly of death metal monkey wrench wielders Born Without Blood, and he’s also like in a dozen other bands of all genres), told me that they are not on social media yet and they have not published any music. This was their first show; and I was there to witness it. You were not. So sad for you.
Astral Tomb closed with their “cosmic death metal,” which is another way of saying psychedelic death metal. Imagine a bunch of hippies (into Cream, Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Mountain, Black Sabbath, Sir Lord Baltimore, Uriah Heep and all that expansive heaviness) teleported to 2022 and discovering that they like the heaviness and brutality of death metal but want to keep the adventurous spirit of Iron Butterfly’s "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” There is growling, but there are long instrumental passages. The music goes anywhere from blasting speed brutality to mellow, quiet segments, and everything in between. Perhaps not by coincidence, the band likes to wear tie-dye shirts, which adds to the idea of “cosmic death metal” or “psychedelic death metal” or whatever other similar term is preferred. They are following up their 2021 EP with a full-length called Soulgazer out on March 25th.
Soulgazer by ASTRAL TOMB
Degradation of Human Consciousness by Astral Tomb

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Veriteras - U.S. melodic extreme metal coming to Finland in May

The debut full-length Shadow of Death (nine songs, almost 32 minutes; March 10th, 2022) follows the 2020 and 2021 EPs. Fast, sometimes blasting, the music sounds tight and skilled, part melodic death metal and part melodic black metal. The vocals are prototypical melodeath growling, which basically means black metal vocals. It is the classic Mille Petrozza (Kreator)* shriek scream, as revealed on the albums Terrible Certainty (1987) and Extreme Aggression (1989), the inspiration for classic In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates vocals, a style also found in the melodic black metal of Dissection and Sacramentum, and the deathrash of Merciless, all Swedish bands.
(*The German band did play live in the late 1980s in Sweden. The young Mille’s live vocals were the prototypical style later known as Gothenburg melodeath.)
This melodic extreme metal heritage, by way of Scandinavia and Finland, gives Veriteras a classy, tight execution, an abundance of guitar hooks, riffs and melodies that manifest amply that great care has been taken to avoid “play-on” lazy, chugging riffs. There is good melodic singing in some spots, but they do not use it as a predictable formula on every song. There are background keyboards present, at a lower volume, for smoothness. The one area that the dynamics are lost to some degree is the drum sound. It is clear and all, but not as vibrant as the sound of real drums. By the way, Veriteras has somehow organized for themselves a tour of Finland. I figure that one of the boys had the ridiculous idea of playing in Finland. Someone said, “Dude, that’d be funny if we called bars in Finland and booked a tour!” The boys laughed about it while enjoying their diablo hot sauce burritos with Pepsi at the local Taco Bell in the U District. Then, out of curiosity, one of them looked up their favorite Finnish bands’ cities on Facebook and began calling from Washington state to Finland.
Yes, so in May of 2022 the Washingtonians will be in Finland. Believe or not, Finnish friends. These boys are coming to see you.
Shadow of Death by Veriteras

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

death metal March 23 in Everett: Astral Tomb, Insipidus, Cronos Compulsion & Sunshine Lollipop

This is a death metal/grind show that will happen tomorrow, March 23rd, in Everett at Tony V's. Here are some recordings from the bands that are available at Bandcamp. It looks like the bands are from travelling from the Denver, Colorado area.
INSIPIDUS Banal Apathy — Demo by Insipidus
Cursed and Decaying by Cronos Compulsion
Degradation of Human Consciousness by Astral Tomb

Monday, March 21, 2022

That's A Good Idea - melodic instrumental prog duo from Arkansas, U.S.

The Arkansas, U.S. "All-Over-The-Place instrumental" mind travellers called That's A Good Idea (yes, their name is "That's A Good Idea," actually) recently released a new song titled "Moon" that is available on YouTube and Spotify and who knows where else. You young whippersnappers who are hip to the latest Instagram and Twitter and MySpace hullabaloo probably will find your own special way to access the music. The only version I have is the 8-track tape that the band sent me via the horse and buggy bandwagon that travels between Arkansas and here in Washington state.
Given that I did not know anything about these guitar wizards, they also sent out an old scroll explaining the history of the state of Arkansas, and the strange pronunciation of their state's name and the why of their music. This is what they say: "Both members (myself [Michael Pettingill] and Josh McGee) were gigging musicians in the central AR scene (former members of Innocence No More, Shadow's Edge and Sons of Mayhem but upon starting families had to move away from that passion. Our first album was simply a way to create new music and was themed around our only other shared experience (having worked in a call center together!). Recently, we've decided we would like to release music that would fit for video games or playlists so that we can continue to create but also make sure it is heard despite not touring."
Their discography is: Your Leads Are Now Diamonds (2017); Beyond The Journey: Volume 1 (2018); Slightly Beyond The Journey (2020); Beyond the Journey: Volume 2 (2020).
Below is the new song, and below that there are a couple of songs from the 2017 album Your Leads Are Now Diamonds. So far, my impression is that said album works with thrash and melodic death metal ideas for a melodic prog sound with plenty of guitar and uptempo vibes. However, I am not familiar with their entire discography and I am unable at this moment to comment in a more general way about their music.
Anyway, if you like instrumetal metal music in the realm of melodic, rocking prog, then this is something to look into. I am looking looking into it myself today, on this grey, cloudy, wet and cold western Washington day.
That's A Good Idea
Begin Day Meeting
Objection / Rebuttal