Tuesday, September 24, 2019

interview: Dialith

Earlier in 2019 the symphonic power metal band Dialith (Connecticut, U.S.) issued its debut full-length album Extinction Six. The general consensus has been that it is a rather impressive work. The songs, the skilled instrumentation and the singing have been noticed by reviewers and fans. In the review of the album this publication observed that the music “will be interesting for fans of guitar-driven heavy/power metal with soprano singing and keyboards.” Let’s learn more about the album and the band.
Congratulations on Extinction Six! People say that musicians have all their life to make the debut album. Does it feel that way?!
Alasdair: Thank you so much! It certainly feels that way! In a sense, it personally took me nine years to finally release this album. As glad as I am to have hit this milestone, I have no intention of taking a break. Krista and I made the agreement when we started that we would take this band as far as it would go, and after the success of the debut release, I’m as motivated as ever to write more music!
Cullen: I sought out looking for bands in my high school days. It wasn't until after those years that I found my first band and then later down the road came into contact with Dialith who was seeking a drummer. Finally meeting musicians that shared the goal of releasing an album I couldn't be happier that I can finally say I have recorded on an album.
Was anyone a nervous wreck and doing re-takes during the recording?!! For instance, are there several versions of the sweet guitar solo by Alasdair at the end of “Where Fire Dwells”?
Krista: I had just taken a few days off of my job over the course of three weeks in August, then went back to make a few edits in early October.
Cullen: In the studio I felt confident with almost all the songs. I recorded 8 songs in a 2-day period that I was comfortable with. Weeks later we went back to track remaining songs including the closer “Extinction Six” and that was the biggest challenge as I did not have very long to prepare for it as we wanted drums done first so the others could record along. It was a beast of a song to get through.
Alasdair: I’m certainly a perfectionist! I’ll re-record as much as I need to until I’m satisifed. That’s a great benefit to recording DI at home, I can take my sweet time and not worry about running up a recording engineer’s hourly rate. Another benefit of DI is I can re-use tracks. All the guitars from our first EP were re-used for the album, with only very minor tweaks. So it’s interesting you mentioned the “Where Fire Dwells” solo, it’s simpler because I wrote and recorded it quite a while ago! Fun fact: The fast legato run at the very end was totally improvised since I couldn’t figure out how to end it. Never quite learned how to play that back exactly so I always improvise that part during our live shows.
Is that a cowbell at the beginning of “Where Fire Dwells”?! (“I’ll be honest, fellas, it was sounding great, but I could have used a little more cowbell! I’m telling you, fellas, you’re gonna want that cowbell! I gotta have more cowbell. Guess what?! I got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell!” -SNL)
Alasdair: For the intro to that song, we actually incorporated exotic instrument effects taken from Charlie’s keyboard. Of course, any song could use more cowbell ;)
Cullen: I'll keep cowbell in mind for the next release ;)
On “Libra” is that an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar starting at 2:33? It sounds a little bit like a Spanish or Mediterranean bit. Nice. What about at 3:33 again? Is that the same instrument as at 2:33? It seems to make a return there.
Alasdair: People have called that part flamenco, others have called it Middle Eastern. I’m not diverse enough to have enough knowledge of those cultural genres, just something I came up and thought “hey, this sounds cool” haha. What you’re hearing is two takes of acoustic guitar, playing the same thing an octave apart, blended together. For the part at 3:33, that’s a clean electric guitar with a flanger effect.
“Libra” features some very nice keyboards, but currently you don’t have a keyboard player currently, right?
Cullen: Charles Woodruff recorded the keyboard parts on the album. He left earlier this year so when we perform live I play to backing tracks so we are still able to incorporate keys into our sound.
Do you need a full-time cowbell player? I have no musical skills but I want to be on stage rocking out. Maybe I could take some cowbell lessons?!
Alasdair: Depends, how fast can you blastbeat on the cowbell? :D
On your Facebook chat on release day you guys sounded a little less enthused about the ballad “The River Runs Dry.” It almost sounded you were apologetic about it. Do you not like it that much anymore?
Krista: I don’t think we’re apologetic or that we don’t like it much—we’ve just never had the opportunity to play it live and we’re not as invested in it as we are the ones that we’re constantly practicing.
Alasdair: “The River Runs Dry” is technically the oldest song on the album. I wrote it in 2015 and feel I’ve grown as a composer since then and it’s not my best work. I look forward to writing a much improved ballad in the future.
On “The River Runs Dry” your singer Krista gets to take the singing both very high and very gentle. It’s no wonder reviewers call it heavenly or angelic singing. Before you had a singer, were y’all attending shows at the local opera house, looking for a singer?!
Krista: Haha, Dialith always had a singer! I posted the ad on Craigslist that Alasdair responded to. I actually don’t sing opera, though I’d like to take some opera lessons someday. Symphonic metal has always been my favorite genre.
How did your singer Krista figure out that she could sing this way? How much can Krista tell us about her range and all those things related to being a soprano?
Krista: I don’t remember exactly, this is just my natural voice. I have a very high speaking voice, so it follows that my singing voice would be high as well. I used to sing along to Tarja Turunen and Sharon den Adel, so that’s basically how I figured out singing in this style. I’ve been singing in choirs since I was 12, and then when Dialith formed I started taking lessons on-and-off with a couple different vocal coaches. My goal for the next release is to develop a lower range and practice belting. As for my range, my lowest note is an F3 and my highest is a B5.
How much does making an album set you back financially?
Krista: We did as much as we could ourselves! While this was a big undertaking financially, it was nice to be able to have the freedom to do what we wanted.
Alasdair: One of the biggest cost savings for us was recording guitar, bass, and keyboards at home. For the guitar and bass, we recorded direct tracks which the mix engineer reamped later on. Cullen saved us a lot of money by recording 10 songs in only 3 days! He’s a beast.
Who are the members of the band in 2019? Is your band a dictatorship or a democracy?! Being in a band is like being married to a bunch of people, so what type of marriage is Dialith?! I hope that you won’t need a life coach like Metallica did.
Krista: The lineup as of September 2019 is Alasdair Wallace Mackie on guitar, Mark Grey on bass, Cullen Mitchell on drums, and myself on vocals. Alasdair wrote the vast majority of the music, but he’s always open to our suggestions. I wrote most of the lyrics. I like to think that we’re a pretty stable band! We’re all good friends outside of the band and a life coach definitely isn’t in the cards at the moment.
Have you received offers from labels now after the album?
Krista: We have not received any offers! In the age of self-releasing, I think a label would have to offer us a pretty sweet deal for us to take it, primarily in terms of promotion and booking.
Do you have any ideas about when there will be more music released? What are the best places to support your band without having the hated middle man taking your money?
Krista: We’re thinking there will be something new as soon as next year! Currently you can buy shirts and physical copies of the album in our Bandcamp store, at dialith.bandcamp.com. Buying merch helps us the most! Also sharing our music and the music video that’s available on YouTube is a huge help to us.
Alasdair: We already have new songs written, and we’re hoping to return to the studio early next year. If things go very well, we may be releasing something next year as well ;)
Cullen: Subscribing to our Dialith YouTube channel is a great way to support us as we plan to release plenty of video content. Following us on social media is another good way to keep up with us.
☙❦ DIALITH ❦❧ - The Sound of Your Voice

Thursday, September 19, 2019

review: Sempiternal Dusk

Sempiternal Dusk
Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation
Dark Descent Records
13 September 2019
Sound: Traditionalist, orthodox and conservative primal death metal heaviness that goes into segments of doom; thick, heavy, simplistic and primal death doom with background atmosphere (studio) and dark melodies. The band does launch into segments of intense speed in some segments.
Production: The production is thick and muddy and you can only hear things more clearly by turning up the volume to the max. Therefore, turn it up, way, way up.
Instrumentation: The thick grooving death metal guitar sound and the old-school brutal drumming create a big cloud of Pacific Northwest fog all over the album. This is not sophisticated virtuoso instrumentation, but do not be deceived. It takes experience to sound this way. This is not a low-skill, garage punk metal rehearsal cassette tape by youthful angry people. These are veterans of metal music.
Vocals: The growling is low and incomprehensible, like a monster speaking curses in a cave. There are some screams, but the vast majority is said type of growling.
Songs: If you stick around until your mind clears away some of the fog of the production, you are going to be surprised by how catchy the music is and by the extent of the melodies. Yes, melodies, and they are not ashamed to do them.
Lyrics: It is essentially impossible to figure out any intelligible words. The band, more than anything, wants mystery and obscurantism, and not necessarily to convey a religious-satanic nor a liberal-conservative political agenda.
Potential audience: Fans of old-school late 1980s and early 1990s death metal would understand this music quickly. Death doom fanatics in general will also understand this album.
Similar bands: Some old bands that have stepped into this territory are: 1993 Disenbowelment; 1989 Obituary; 1989/1991 Autopsy; 1991/1992 Asphyxiates; 1992 Cianide; 1992/1994 Incantation, and sounds that are in the same family as those bands. Of course, there are contemporary bands that sound somewhat similar, but for this music the band seems to prefer the old pioneers because they want to sound old, primal, and obscurantist.
Assessment: The album’s muffled production makes it a work almost exclusively for those already initiated into death doom, and for those new enthusiasts who have discovered their own fanaticism/fascination of death doom and are diving as fast possible into these styles in 2019. A candidate for a top ten spot in death doom in 2019?! Time for the zealots to sharpen their debating skills!

review: Midnight Prey

Midnight Prey
Uncertain Times
Dying Victims Productions
Sound: Midnight Prey plays uptempo late-1970s-style heavy metal, a type of heavy rock that is rowdy and a bit rough around the edges, a wild rock and roll style that pushed the limits of speeds of classic, hard rock and punk rock back in those days.
Production: The production/band team wants the audience to feel like they are hearing human beings playing the real instruments. Are the drums real live drums? Who knows, but the point is for people to hear bass guitar, drums, guitar and singing. That’s the band. Three Germans who play the music, and with relatively minimal studio magic. (If they are not using real, live drums, then it’s about time to do it!).
Instrumentation: The playing should be entertaining if you have an interest/curiosity in the sound of the vibrant spirit of the young heavy metal that was forming in the late 1970s until about 1981. The album is much more than just guitars and soft-ware/computer “drums” like today’s metal. The bass guitar has a much bigger role in filling out the sound. Sometimes it’s a very rumbling bass sound and the production really allows the room for the bass to have its own lane that it can run around in. There is some fast bass rumbling as if the bassist is playing the bass like a guitarist would play the guitar. Another thing is that distortion is not the king here; the songs are. Finally, in some segments the drumming goes really fast, in a way that late 1970s bands never did. The drumming almost sounds close to blasting in some spots.
Vocals: Heavy rock vocals predominates. Mostly singing, in a male voice; some yelling; some melancholic crooning in some parts, too. It is not fancy singing, and it’s a bit rough, like a self-taught person who is developing the singing skills, and doing a good job at it. Some punky yelling is present throughout, too. Again, buyer beware: Do not expect perfect pitch singing, but rowdy heavy rock vocals with a bit of melodic overtones.
Songs: The songs are direct and rocking. They are meant to be immediate and memorable.
Lyrics: We do not have the lyrics, but it seems like life and rock and roll are main topics. No profanities in particular stand out, although we cannot confirm if there are profanities or not. Two songs seem to be in German; five in English.
Potential audience: Fans of 1970s heavy rock in general should be the main audience, especially the heavy rock of the second half of the 1970s.
Similar bands: The band sounds like they love both late 1970s Motörhead and Thin Lizzy, more melodic than Motörhead, but faster, heavier and rougher than Thin Lizzy, yet the melodies are very present despite the rough style. The vocals may be described as Thin Lizzy covering Motörhead (but not the other way around), if that makes any sense. Another way to think of the vocals be late 1970s Iron Maiden, or a vibe similar in feeling, in that street metal type of way.
Assessment: The album is done well, with a professional attitude and the band is convincing. facebook.com/MidnightPrey

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

PDF online: number 193 of Metal Bulletin Zine

The PDF is available at the links below: Metal Bulletin Zine 193: Archangel A.D., Lost Orb, Beyond Our Awfulness

PDF online #192 of Metal Bulletin Zine

Read the PDF online at the following links:
Metal Bulletin Zine 192: War of Ages, Torpor, Mourn the Light, Oxblood Forge, Ram, Void King, Capilla Ardiente

Monday, September 16, 2019

interview: Beyond Our Awfulness

Beyond Our Awful is an instrumental young band from Madagascar. In 2019 have a five-song EP called Awful. Their sound focuses on thrashing riffs within a metalcore framework. They also like to shred and doing a bunch of other little details, like blasting in some parts, they also add bits of melody, some proggy parts. Mostly, it’s very friendly for the mosh pit. The EP features the following compositions:
1.Glass Shattered 03:52
2.Anna's Song 05:14
3.Ashes Rise 06:27
4.Get to the Bus 04:18
5.お前はもう死んでいる (OWMS) 02:53
total time 22:44
What can you tell us about your band, the members and the history of the band?
BOA or Beyond Our Awfulness is a trio composed of guitarist Jason Malala, bassist Nampoina Ratsimiseta and drummer Setra. The band formed in 2010 where Jason and Nampoina where were still in middle school. Setra the drummer was in another local thrash metal band Sharks with Jason as well on rhythm guitar. Setra has already finished university, both Jason and Nampoina are still studying at the university. For the majority of time we are listening to the same bands like Killswitch Engage and Veil of Maya but also some death metal bands like Nile and Necrophagist. The first line-up which is only composed of Jason and Nampoina had being around 9 years now and the actual line up for 1 year and half.
How is the metal scene in your country: shows, fans, recording and things like that?
Metal scene is diverse with numerous band representing most of metal subgenre. However, the scene is very small, with 25 million of population the island as around 10 000 metal or rock fans spread all across. The metal scene is still very underground yet some bands start to have label support rising them out of the underground. We don’t play frequently because it’s very hard for band like us, we need to do everything on our own organize a gig, search for venue or rent it look for the PA to rent pay some tax to the town hall in order to have permission for doing a show. Per show an autoproduced band like us spend around 300$. The main issue for us doing live shows is organise it, it consumes a lot of time and preparing it without a staff and a manager is hell. There are very few places where metal band plays restaurant cultural venue and clubs. Only big named band can manage to have nicer spots
What bands inspired you? What are some bands in Madagascar that you like?
For me (Jason) I started to play bass at 13 years old. For the other guys maybe earlier such as Nampoina our bassist as theory knowledge. Personally, Cliff burton of Metallica inspired me to pick up an instrument further more Killswitch engage and a lot different bands. There many band that I recommend Behind the Mask from the east coast KR78, Jonjorombona, Sharks, Sasamaso, El Dino, Beyond Your Ritual (Setra our drummer also play in this band), Egraygore, Step To Heaven, Black Wizard Cult to name a few the list goes on go on YouTube and type Malagasy metal. I was introduced to metal by my cousins but before them videogames and wresting I would say.
What do you think about popular or traditional music in your country? Are there metal bands in your country that incorporate traditional music from Madagascar?
Popular music in Madagascar is mainly tropical music mixed with sampled electro synth or just song like “Gangnam Style” where you don’t find any sense within it. Yeah, there are 3 bands if I’m not mistaken Alina, Loharano, Jonjorombona. They blend the traditional sounds in Malagasy music into metal which is for an uncharted territory. But there also my thrash metal bands Sharks and heavy metal band Blackwizard Cult also have song that as the traditional Malagasy vibe into some songs but we have taken more a metal direction where the others bands that previously named balanced it.
Tell us about the recording of the EP and that whole process.
I recorded the EP at my house on my own. For the sound engineering I (still Jason) did my best to not s# on the mixes of the songs, for the next record I will search someone else to do the sound engineering. So actually did everything on the EP programmed the drums, played the guitar and bass because the schedule prog for the EP was so tight and I can’t bother my bandmates with it.
How have metal fans in your city reacted to BOA? What do your families think?
Very good question, we don’t have much of reaction since the EP is only available in cd and on Bandcamp we are invisible actually. My family they are not in to it. As far as I’m concerned Nampoina’s mother still angry at me because of the artwork of EP because its evil. I don’t know if they like it you never get honest opinion with family anyway.
Why is your band instrumental? Will future music be that way, too?
Very good question. We are an instrumental band, the main reason is we are tighter when is only the three us, but I think in the future if we found another guitar player we will two guitars, most BOA songs resulted of the others bands I was in so I had enough vocals to be honest. I don’t mind having vocals if it fits with the vibe.
Do you have any other news?
We are still struggling to resolve our financial crisis and we will record a full-length album, maybe a video and a remix of the EP with the long length version of some songs.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

review: Lost Orb

Lost Orb
Low Ebb's Lament
Giganto Records
20 September 2019
This is 17 minutes of mostly instrumental doom: guitar and drums. The objective seems to be the search for sublime doom. It’s not about heaviness, or trying to be super slow or anything like this that would be considered a doom-oriented genre goal, like trying to prove something.
There are basically no vocals here, except for some sparse angelic “oohs” and “aaahs” to make the listener imagine something beautiful, whatever that might be (the mountains, the stars, heaven, New Jersey, meditation).
It feels repetitive and circular because it is doom and it is slow, but for doom fans that is normal. However, in the 17 minutes there are passages of clean or acoustic guitar that is completely different from the parts of heavy doom, and with the vocals, as described above, shows serene segments that contrast really well with the doom.
The guitar tone is heavy, but with less fuzz than people assume for doom guitar. The riffs are big and they move at midtempo, not the super duper slow motion.
Given that there are no lyrics, the music allows the drums to be heard well. The recording’s sound is rather clear and pleasant to the ear. It is also short enough that even people who are not big fans of doom might feel in the mood to hear a more accessible, cleaner and simpler take on doom.

review: Archangel AD

Archangel A.D.
23 September 2019
There are so many bands with the name Archangel that it is necessary to put the letters A.D. on this Texas group in order to distinguish it from all the other ones. That’s alright. Make it a competition of the Archangels: Which one will outlast the other ones? Which one is strong enough to survive the thankless hard labor of making music that will bring fulfillment and fun for the musicians involved and will most likely achieve for them no net profit financial gain and a very minuscule amount of fame by way of likes and thumbs up online. It’s a long way to top if you want to rock and roll, indeed. Which Archangel has the guts to withstand the burns, bruises, beatings, tears, arguments, fights, depression, bad food, dirty motels, friends’ couches, the mud and the dirt of being a metal band? No private helicopters, no private jets, no fleet of boats. Only more work for little material reward. Only the strong survive this boot camp of underground metal music!
This Texas thrash action tag team has been kicking up dust since about 2015. In 2016 they lassoed a demo at the ok corral, and they rode to town on an EP in 2018. Now they have this single (an album is on the way?!).
This is one song only. This song is traditional American Bay Area-style thrash. They have the shredding guitars. What is the verdict? The referee declares victory for the shred guitars of thrash! The sound quality is another win for the Texans. The vocals are totally comprehensible and also rock. It’s not punk yelling, although it’s not power metal virtuosity, either. Good, solid thrash vocals. Very promising, and it’s already better than the vocals on the 2018 recording. The song itself is a declaration of mosh pit intentions. Good stuff.
One problem is that the band could not resist trying to be funny like stand-up comedians. At the end of the song they repeat a line with the typical thrash gang shouting. At the end, they say, “You get the f# picture!” They have done this type of joke stuff before and they seem addicted to drunk alcoholics telling them that they’re funny. They have to decide if they want to be “funny” like Jack Black singing Dio songs or whether they want be like Kreator and be a great metal band. Be Gabriel Iglesias the fluffy morbidly obese comedian** or aim to be legendary thrash band? Both are good, but only one of those is metal music.
**(or lame metal music reviewers who try to be funny, like this reviewer right here)
Their audience is already tiny. No need to make it even tinier by being known as a joke band (or as the butt of a joke band). Remember: cursing like a sailor and joking and obscene pranks will make people who are already fans laugh, but it is limiting and keeping away more potential metal and thrash fans. Thrash and metal fans in general want good metal, and they know that for comedy they can turn to the "edgy" potty-mouth stand-up comedians on television.
Keep the thrash going! Now, when exactly are we getting that full-length album? If thrash fans have not heard this band, be sure to check out their six-song 2018 recording. It's a headbanging moshing guarantee of good times. Whatathrash!

Friday, September 13, 2019

review: Capilla Ardiente

Capilla Ardiente
The Siege
High Roller Records
“This is epic!” and “That was epic!” are two ways that people go around throwing the term epic for just about anything that they like. It is common practice to speak of “epic” heavy metal and “epic” doom. The long-running band Capilla Ardiente seems to be annoyed with how people use the word “epic.” They are simply asking, “How can a song be epic if it’s only 3 minutes long?!”
Maybe it rocks. Maybe it’s cool. However, you cannot be epic in 3-5 minutes. That’s what they seem to be saying with their second album. Take a look for yourself.
1.The Open Arms, the Open Wounds 13:19
2.The Crimson Fortress 09:41
3.The Spell of Concealment 09:45
4.Fallen Alphas and the Rising 13:11
total time 45:56
The album is a statement. Capilla Ardiente is dedicated to the art of epic traditional doom metal, as you see from the song information above.
This album requires a lot of patience. You have to trust that the veterans know what they are doing. They have plenty of riffs and guitar solos. They try to give people good traditional/classic epic doom singing, and the good singing is not just there as a necessary evil to avoid being an instrumental band, but due to the long songs and the extended instrumental passages that’s exactly how some of the music sounds: like an instrumental band for a lot of the music’s duration. The album is a rewarding work for audiences of epic doom, but it would be too ambitious for casual fans of doom. One reason is that these long songs go off on tangents and by the time they return to the chorus you might thinking that you kind of remember the chorus from a while back or maybe you don’t remember it at all. In that situation a good way that you will be able to become familiar with the song is by hearing it a bunch of times.
The result of the tangents is that the music turns into progressive metal wrapped in a huge umbrella of doom. The band is obviously skilled. The production is a strong point of the album. The singing fits the music very well. Perhaps if the listener is prepared by understanding that the music is actually progressive doom, by comprehending that this album is not accessible like the vast majority of doom. If the listener accepts that proposition, then the music will open up in a different way than perhaps might be expected. It will prove too proggy for some fans, but those discerning doom customers will welcome a brand new big project to explore and to come back to as they join the mighty quest to make doom metal epic again.

review: Void King

Void King
Barren Dominion
Off The Record
13 September 2019
This is only the second album by Void King, a band that began around 2014/2015, says Metal Archives and Facebook. When you hear the music it does not seem like a second album, though. Maybe it is the maturity of the music. The vocals seem exceptionally well done. Let’s begin there. The vocalist, according to Metal Archives, sang on an album in 2009 with a previous band. Metal Archives then shows that the vocalist possibly has been in bands since at least 2003. Therefore, Void King is relatively new, but the musicians have been laboring around the block for years. That explains a lot. For one thing, Void Kong’s vocalist Jason Kindred appears to be 46 years young, and has the voice of someone with lots of experience with the craft.
This Indiana, U.S. band offers one particular characteristic that is special, and some others that should win over the devoted, can’t-get-enough doom fans. The first thing that is for the doom fans is the slow, thick fuzzed out guitar sound. They have riffs, but oftentimes it sounds like a slow motion pulsating fuzzed out effect that keeps echoing. It sounds like they want to trap people in a hall of mirrors that leads to an echo chamber of fuzzed out guitars. It’s a very nice sound, actually. The second thing is that the overall songs are pretty good. In other words, the band has good tunes. The third thing is that the production should be up to the standards of the genre that people expect.
Doom fans will notice that the singing is rather peculiar to the band. It is a big-belly type of gritty and bluesy crooning that is not one of the usual vocal styles of doom. Different people will hear different things. Some people say that it sounds like Tool’s vocals, but Tool sounds like a dude whining, like he’s crying in every song and it’s just an annoying voice, but Void King doesn’t sound like crying. It’s more like BB King has joined a doom band (which is not that difficult to imagine because Void King does play the doom blues in a real way). Another possibility is to imagine old Alice in Chains vocals hooking up with doom. The band apparently loves Clutch, so there may be a bit of that style of singing here, too. Void King does not sound like any of those bands, of course, but the point is that the singing does sound bluesy and croony. It’s not the typical doom growling and screaming, and the singing might win over people who don’t care for doom in general. voidking.bandcamp.com/album/barren-dominion
Void King - A Lucid Omega

Thursday, September 12, 2019

review: Ram

The Throne Within
Metal Blade Records
13 September 2019
Ram began 20 years ago. The first ten years went kind of slow and they had only two albums, but they got good reviews, while they were getting off the ground and establishing their credentials. After ten years they became a lot more efficient at solving their problems, and the albums are now coming down the pipeline in a more regular schedule: 2012, 2015, 2017 and now in 2019. With more experience, more resources and being more established in the music business, things have gotten better and the evidence of that fact is the band functioning more efficiently in making albums.
Ram has always had the same fundamentalist, orthodox and traditionalist classic-style heavy metal mission. Ram is the Swedish answer to Judas Priest, basically. They have that mentality of seeing themselves as defenders of true heavy metal of the dark side. The Swedes focus on creepy things that go bump in the night, death is always a popular topic for them, sinister characters populate the world of Ram albums. They also like skulls. A lot. They don’t really have songs that sound like summer barbecue parties, and they don’t sound like they want you to rock and all nite and party every day. However, but they do sound like they want you headbanging. Ram seems unhappy with the heavy metal bands that are more concerned with having funny songs than headbanging songs. Ram’s not like, “We’re a bunch of funny Swedish dudes! Hey, we play fun happy Sweden rock! Yay, Sweden, Sweden rocks!” They’re more like, “We are right, we play metal tonight. We are not stand-up comedians. Bang your head with us!”
The new album finds the band delivering the riffs of the 1980s sound of classic Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate and Accept, a marching-forward style of vibe, a style that goes from one big riff to another big riff, and on we go. Notice, however, that Ram does not do the happy folksy sugary melodies of Iron Maiden, instead they prefer the solid, clenched-fist punching pure heavy metal riffs in the style of Judas Priest. The previous album seemed more like a concept work and that tends to confuse some people who prefer album of rockers, rockers and more rockers. If the previous album presented problems for some people, problem solved. All these songs are stand-alone tracks.
The nerve! Ram has a lot of nerve. Have you noticed so many albums put the best songs upfront and then the rest are not as good? Towards the middle, when other albums are running out of juice, this one actually picks up, which is awesome because the first half is very cool, too. Once song number five “The Trap” hits, the album seems to get even better. What a nice surprise! On the song “Spirit Reaper” Ram breaks out with a bit of the background keyboard action for a very appealing and accessible song, which is a nice change of pace and it’s good to hear Ram do something a bit different. “You All Leave” is a clean-guitar ballad in which the band shows that the singer can carry a tune in a more melodic way, different from the rest of the album’s rocking songs. So, apparently, the vocalist can sing melodically, too, not just scream like a banshee. Not that we don’t like the banshee. We do like the banshee.
The only possible caveat is that it seems they like to flirt with satanic/evil imagery as a gimmick and they seem to glorify violence, killing and murder. There seems to be some cursing, too, so you’ll need to consider that, if these issues are problem for you. Note that this is a contradiction because sometimes they might write a song about government violence and oppression, and then they turn around and have a song about “kill under my command,” so the lyrical approach is contradictory with this band.
Alright then, do you like pure classic traditional heavy metal? If you do or if you are interested in finding a band that is dedicated to defending that cause, then this album is a great place to immerse yourself in classic heavy metal in 2019.

review: Mourn The Light / Oxblood Forge

Mourn The Light / Oxblood Forge
Mourn The Light / Oxblood Forge
13 September 2019
In this case both bands share a commonality of interests. They both play a particular form of traditional style of doom that insistently incorporates the rocking element, as if they were saying that they (1) love doom and traditional heavy metal as equally and feel no need to separate them, and (2) they don’t want to be slow-all-the-time, put-you-to-sleep doom monotony. Mourn the Light is traditional heavy metal/doom with melodic male midrange singing. The vocals are not too high, and the melodic aspect is not very developed as of yet, but the overall voice is pleasant.
The music fluctuates between those big slow riffs and the uptempo riffs that pick up the pace for headbanging. In addition to two songs of the doom/heavy metal style, they have a requiem of keyboards (they say that it is piano, actually) and vocals. This is a totally different and great side of the music, but unfortunately it seems they needed a guest for the piano. If someone in the band were able to play piano, the band would show another dimension to their music and could it a lot more as part of their identity. The band also tags on a cover of Candlemass’ “Bewitched.” It’s a good cover. Take it or leave it. It doesn’t take away anything from the band’s own material.
The other band is Oxblood Forge. They are a doomy type of heavy metal, but the music sounds good for headbanging, and it’s not shoe gazing doom. The vocals need some description. The vocals sound like a screamed-type of style but it is substantially comprehensible. It is not really unpleasant nor is it particularly harsh, but it is a screaming voice, and not a singing one. Actually, they do have singing, too; a pretty melodic voice, but they do both the screamed-out voice and the singing as their thing. In the case of Oxblood Forge, potential listeners will need to check out the two types of vocals and see what they think about it all.
To sum up, both bands offer a more rocking style of doom, as opposed to pure doom of slow tunes all the time. In fact, Oxblood Forge is less doom and way more heavy metal in spirit.

review: War of Ages

War of Ages
Facedown Records
13 September 2019
This is the ninth album by the Pennsylvania, U.S. band, according to Wikipedia (War of Ages is not on Metal Archives, whether that’s because no one has submitted the band or because of the website’s prejudices, that’s unclear). Active from 2002 until the present, in 2019 they return with their American melodic extreme metal.
The first thing that stands out is the work of the production team and the band in getting a very nice bouncy sound that is attractive to the contemporary ear. In other words, they worked the studio magic a lot on the album and it has given very good results that should be interesting to fans of the style. It seems like they took their time in the production of the album and like there was a standard that they wanted to meet, instead of just rushing out album number nine. At any rate, that’s the impression that one gets when listening to the album. The contemporary studio magic will be a selling point for those customers of the post-2010 American melodic extreme metal sounds.
The album presents an effective mixture that threads together the classic European melodic death metal, the American metalcore components, and a fun addition of other small details that bring out other layers. Here and there, you might hear some blasting drums, some pop-oriented melodies, some catchy choirs that are slightly reminiscent of 1980s rock/metal productions; there is a bit of a hip hop vibe in the vocals in some small segments; a bit of symphonic bits here and there. In summary, this is post-2010 American melodic extreme metal, but in a rather more polished or sophisticated production.
The songs offer much to the open-minded listener that wants melodies and grooves, without worrying too much about what particular genre it is. The songwriting works with the grooves and the melodies, and from there they open up the doors to doing songs that are different from each other in various ways, but still part of the same entity. In 2019 the band and its production team have opened up the melodies and the choruses. The longtime supporters will be pleasantly surprised with the production and the songs, and new potential customers are going to be hooked on the melodies.
Their lyrics, as always, communicate the same love that has characterized them since the beginning. They do not claim an original message or anything like that; just the same mission to deliver words that can inspire and uplift people. Anger and hatred are the opposite of what motivates the band. If believe in Jesus with all your heart, you will find here reinforcement of your faith. If you do not, the pleasant surprise of a different type of lyrics might just be something to think about. The important thing is not to be guided by stereotypes or prejudices against heavy metal music that seeks to communicate a different type of message when compared with the vast majority of metal bands. Listening to/reading these lyrics, we find that there is not a single curse word (hopefully, this is factually accurate!), which makes the music friendly for the little people riding in the back of your car or playing in your living room.
In summary, the War of Ages American extreme metal is replete with mosh pit or head bobbing grooves and with an abundance of big melodies in the guitar and in the sing/growl/scream vocals. A very catchy album.
War of Ages - "Miles Apart" OFFICIAL VIDEO

review: Torpor

Rhetoric of the Image
Truthseeker Music/Sludgelord Records/ Moment of Collapse Records/Smiths Food Group/Medusa Crush Recordings
20 September 2019
Torpor is slow heaviness with lots of quiet moments. Torpor is the medicine that doom fans can use for meditation, prayer, relaxation, clear the mind, or space out while doing some homework. Torpor tells the listener, “Friend, we are just going to growl along and play our music slowly, very slowly, and do our best to put to you in a mood of relaxation because you’ve had a long day at work/school and we’re here to help.” Torpor is heroes, essentially. Problem solvers. Got stress? Don’t like PE class? Call on Torpor. They basically say to the listener, “Friend, we don’t have melodies or pretty singing, and our music is ugly, but you are a doom fan and you know that heaviness is a beautiful thing. We’re going to keep it simple, keep it slow and you can ride with us and let’s find each other on the other side.”
That’s the agreement that the listener enters into with Torpor. Along the way, the band will seek to take you to spaces of void with extended segments of almost nothing going on, except for some sounds of imaginary intergalactic noises and the imagery soundtrack to traveling alongside a spaceship observing the moons, asteroids and rocks that populate the darkness of the cosmos. Then, they wake up the listener from those moments of stupor with slow-screamed vocals and heavy instrumentation, and we are back to the heaviness of slow chugging-grooving.
It is some 51 minutes of Torpor. We don’t have the lyrics so we don’t really know what the band is hollering about, but it’s not like you can understand the vocals, anyway. They could be talking about love, maybe they ain’t talking about love just like they told you before; maybe they are talking about yoga, space travel or how much they do not like their day jobs or about their opinions about the European Union or whatever. You will find out when you purchase your newest addition to your doom chicken soup for the soul this September (they better give you the lyrics, right?). Go slow, go big, go to sleep. See you in the morning. Here’s a pillow and a blanket. torpornoise.bandcamp.com/album/rhetoric-of-the-image

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

online PDF available of no.191 of Metal Bulletin Zine

The two links below have the PDF of number 191 of Metal Bulletin Zine.
Atavistik Death Pose
Dawn of Ouroboros
No Bros

number 190 PDF of Metal Bulletin Zine

See the links below for the PDF of Metal Bulletin Zine number 190.
Hope Drone
Casket Robbery
Surface of the Sun
Juliet Ruin
Child Bite/Ringworm

PDF of Metal Bulletin Zine 189

The PDF of Metal Bulletin Zine 189 is available at the links below.
Imperial Cult
The Holeum
Ice Vinland
Illusions of Grandeur

read online issue number 188 of Metal Bulletin Zine

At the links below you will find the PDF version of Metal Bulletin Zine 188 with:
Book of Wyrms
Helvetets Port

Monday, September 9, 2019

review: No Bros

No Bros
Export of Hell
Pure Steel Records
13 September 2019
The Austrian band No Bros began in 1974, according to Metal Archives, although due to the usual personnel changes, they have had various name changes: first as Target, then as No Bros, then as Schubert, and then back as No Bros; or something like that. As you can imagine, a bunch of young Austrians forming a band in the middle of the 1970s, the heavy rock of the time (now called heavy metal, classic rock, progressive rock and hard rock) must have had a tremendous motivation for them. In the very late 1970s and very early 1980s all this music begins to be called heavy metal by more and more writers (sometimes as an insult) and more bands like the idea of being part a new worldwide phenomenon in rock and roll music. In 1982, says Metal Archives, the first No Bros album was a live recording called Heavy Metal Party, which is the name of a song and another song is called “Metal Man.” The album has a song called “Reggae,” but it’s not reggae, it’s a heavy metal song that starts out with a bit of a fun intro and then gets to the rocking. The point here is that No Bros saw themselves as part of the rise of heavy metal. The music sounds like a faster-paced, slicker style of late 1970s heavy rock, not very far away from classic Deep Purple/Uriah Heep/Rainbow or music like that, but with a bit more bounce in the step, including in the presence of the keyboards.
Besides those American die-hard fans of all things Pure Steel Records, this band remains almost unknown in USA, correct? After decades of activity and a whole bunch of albums under the umbrella of the several No Bros names, in 2019 the band has a new album. The album has a terrible title and even more terrible artwork. Rock fans might think that this is an extreme metal band or perhaps some kind of shock rock band. Be that as it may, but this is the important fact for fans of 1970s-style of heavy rock (fans of heavy metal, progressive rock, hard rock, classic rock, and of today’s 1970s-loving doom/stoner styles), these elder statesmen of Austrian rock have put together a solid, quality album of hard, blues-based rocking music that stands up very well to their long history and legacy. This is the type of music that has a very broad appeal for fans of heavy rock in general. Of course, we are talking about musicians who are in their 50s, and some of them are their 60s nowadays. It’s oldie but goodie heavy rock.
To conclude, they have a weird name for a band; they have an uneven history (are there any Austrian documentaries on this band?), they have bad album covers—though not nearly as embarrassingly bad as their neighbors Scorpions—and the new album has once again bad cheesy artwork more fitting for an old-school extreme metal band (like a black metal band). All of that is true. However, the music in 2019 is confident and knowledgeable veteran rock; that’s what’s truly important. puresteel-records.com/releases/view/638/Export_Of_Hell

review: Endseeker

The Harvest
Metal Blade Records
13 September 2019
Endseeker (Germany) provides several main strengths for the customers that purchase traditional, classic and early-style death metal, especially those customers that find themselves attracted to the first releases with the thick guitar sound of albums produced by Thomas Skogsberg at Sunlight Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, examples of which are the highly regarded debut albums by Entombed and Dismember, amongst others. That guitar sound, and other variations of that thick guitar by bands emulating the Sunlight sound, have in general been received well by the devoted fans of the genre. The production team has done a competent job in achieving for Endseeker that guitar sound that is reminiscent of Skogsberg-produced early Swedish death metal.
Another strength of the album is the band’s focus on groove and simplicity, over technicality and speed. The first two songs, for instance, are fast death metal, but (1) it is not so technical as to be overwhelming and (2) are not representative of the band’s fundamental sound. Overall, the riffs will sound familiar to the supporters of the style and those customers should be pleased with the band’s delivery and execution of the songs. There is an emphasis on keeping the songs manageable and listenable for the potential buying public. The vocals are gruff but are enunciated remarkably clear, for this type of vocal work. The rhythm section holds down the fort very well and they keep together the backbone of this album. All good work. In terms of style, the band prefers the simplicity of death and roll: that chugging-grooving way of doing the guitar work, and the rhythm section excels in this style. Therefore, customers should know that this album is not a 1988-1991 Swedish death metal throwback work, even though there is certainly a good portion of that here. Instead, the death and roll is the bread and butter of the band and it’s what they do best on the album.
Fans of death and roll are aware that the simplicity of the guitar work can sometimes lean too much in the direction of monotony. Compared to the landmark death and roll albums of yesteryear, this one is more conscious to avoid making it seem as if the band is on autopilot or too comfortable just grooving and growling in each song. That’s very positive. Of course, the growling vocals, while very competent, can feel one dimensional, but that’s not a specific problem for this band but rather for death metal in general. Overall, the band has made a good-faith effort to avoid the monotony in the mood of the songs.
One major weakness of the album is the band’s inability to cash in on the melodies. Time after time, they have good melodies, like in the guitar solos, and just about every time they leash in and restrain the guitar solo. This is a mistake. These solos have to be one the highlights of each song. Knowledgeable metal fans look forward to the good solos. That’s one of the main reasons those Entombed and Dismember albums are so beloved by the fans. What is the problem? Is it that the guitar playing lacks the skills to develop the guitar solos? Is it that the band is afraid of getting criticized for having soloing that is too good? Is that a problem? Whatever the reason, this problem should be rectified. The soloing is an important way that fans remember songs. There are quite a few moments of cool licks and solos on the guitar. It’s not too melodic, but the thick tremolo always sounds nice when in the songs there are some melodies and brutality going on. However, there is not enough of these things and the album could stand to use more of it.
For this reason, the album lacks standout tracks. It doesn’t feel like there are any big standout tracks that you would want to recommend for people to check out. Perhaps the band and the record label are aware of this situation. That’s why at the end of the album they have a death and roll cover of the Megadeth hit “Symphony of Destruction.” The inclusion of the famous song basically is a confession from the band and label. They needed something sweet, something cool, something attractive to spice up the album.
To conclude, the album is very competent. It is consistent and it is music that with a few listens quickly becomes intelligible. The band sounds like they are on the cusp of making their own landmark album on the next one if they allow the solos/melodies more room to breathe and if the band continues progressing on making the songs more memorable.

review: Dawn of Ouroboros

Dawn of Ouroboros
Sorrow's Eclipse (single)
13 September 2019
This is only one song, so it’s not useful to say much because we don’t know what is going to happen with this entity in the future. Having said that word of caution, and sure, readers should also take these words with a grain of salt, if this song is any indication of what’s going to occur (and sometimes one song is not an indication!), then this will be an entity that the customers of classy melodic black metal will need to pencil in, just in case this song is not a fluke when the full-length The Art of Morphology eventually is ready.
Here is the scenario. Imagine fast, blasting, tight drumming teaming up with classy tremolo and melodic guitar. Imagine that it works well, very well, in building up the moods. Imagine traditional black metal vocals. Imagine big melodies in the guitar. Imagine atmosphere/progressiveness in order to have contrast. Imagine some melodic singing, too. Imagine the blasting returning once and again. Imagine yourself banging your head upon finding a band that does melodic black metal with skill and class.
Now it is not the time to get hyped up because we need to hear more. For instance, is the melodic singing a consistent part of this entity or just a guest for the hit song? We will reserve judgment until all the cards are on the table. Nobody wants to feel cheated and deceived by one awesome song. Let’s wait and see. So far, very interesting.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Number 187 of Metal Bulletin Zine

Number 187 of Metal Bulletin Zine is online at the following links.
Atlas Pain
Overt Enemy
Dead Kosmonaut
Sacred Reich

number 186 of Metal Bulletin Zine

Read online number 186 of Metal Bulletin Zine.
Crypt Sermon

Metal Bulletin Zine number 185

In case you missed it, this is Metal Bulletin Zine number 185. Read it online at the links below.
White Mantis

Saturday, September 7, 2019

review: Atavistik Death Pose

Atavistik Death Pose
Atavistik Death Pose
September 13th 2019
In the days of extreme metal’s beginnings in the early 1980s the socially resentful malcontent kids with no recording experience, very little skill, and no money would get together in a garage and do their best to play as loud and as brutal as they possibly could. Today you can hear what the results of those adventures were. The Hellhammer, Sodom, and Mantas/Death demos that were considered garbage by just about every metal music fan, including by the bands themselves, are barbaric and chaotic, and show “musicians” obsessed with taking extremity as far as they could at the time in terms of heaviness and outrageous vocals. It sounded like the music was recorded with the band playing live in their own crude way, while a friend stands around holding up a cellphone to record their rehearsal, except that it was a cassette tape recorder, not a cellphone.
Such cave-people brutality is the essence of the 12 minutes of Atavistik Death Pose’s recording. The gutter garage sounds of extreme punk/metal is the only objective at hand. The drummer sounds like Animal from The Muppet Show going crazy on drums as Animal tends to do, and the guitar makes sure to play as heavy as possible without solos and without melodies (maybe they don’t know how to do solos or because they like sounding like brutes) and the vocals holler, grunt, growl, bark, barf, and scream as obnoxiously as possible. The result is not substantially different from those early 1980s demos, except that this recording is more like mutant punk metal.
Next thing you know, it’s all over because it is only 12 minutes, and before you ask yourself, “What was that stuff?” the music (using the term very loosely) begins again in order to witness this monstrosity once more. Approach if you like to hear punks beat up on music, and avoid if you want polished music. This is the equivalent of a bunch of angry anarchists breaking into the Louvre Museum in order to draw graffiti on the Mona Lisa. wooaaargh.bandcamp.com/album/atavistik-death-pose-s-t

review: Wallowing

Planet Loss
Sludgelord Records & Black Voodoo Records
13 September 2019
Doom bands are like, “Alright, alright, man. Take it easy. Sit back and let us relax y’all with some chill tunes. Now doom time is here, babe, need something to keep you cool, and if you let me cool you one time, you’ll be my regular stop, babe.” You know how it is. Doom has drone bands to lull you to sleep with their meditation doom medicine, and epic bands that make you be spiritual and holy, and hippies that make you go, “They call me mellow yellow.” Doom has Southern dudes that make you go, “Cause as I’m free as a bird now” and stoner guys that make you sing, “Psychotic reaction, the old man dies.” Doom is easy, chill and accessible.
Forget that.
Wallowing is the kind of hideous cantankerous antimusic that it makes you wonder if they do this just to annoy people, annoy each other or play a joke on the whole doom metagenre. Check out what this cockroach-covered salad of extremity has to offer. They have a vocalist that likes to express feelings, oh so many feelings, by screaming from the top of the lungs the whole time. The whole livelong day. This person sounds like a poor thirsty soul trapped in some kind of inferno hollering for water, and no one is around to help with a drop. This person is most certainly screaming, shouting, yelling like a crazed hyena, and the only shield between you and the maniac is that the lunatic sounds about a few yards away from the microphone, so that the tortured screaming is not right next to your ear because if it were, this screaming might just be even more horrendously handsome and wretched.
Wallowing is the weirdo kids of the doom scene. The vocalist sounds like someone who just could not find other people to form a grind band or a necro black metal band with, and so this person ended up joining a sludgy noise band. Is death doom too happy? Is funeral doom too poppy and bouncy? Yup, yup, says Wallowing.
You will struggle to find a more irritating/genius/ridiculous doom recording this whole apocalyptic year of 2019. Wallowing is not so much epicus doomicus metallicus as it is horribillus noisicus annoyicus. Here’s the deal. They mostly like the slow chugging, it’s kind of a violent chugging style, but once in a while they burst into blasting parts, and we are willing to bet that it’s going to catch listeners by surprise the first time when they do it. Then, to make things even more ridiculous, they have a recurring tendency, an obsession with using the most annoying guitar feedback sounds and use them just because, you know, why not, it’s Wallowing. Have you ever been to a show at the local bar in which during the sound check the guitar makes a super high pitched noise that makes everyone put their fingers in their ears. Like, you know, that’s going to destroy your hearing if you hear it again. Wallowing likes to use that noise repeatedly on this recording. Wallowing is conducting an experiment on you, the listener. The experiment consists of making highly irritating sounds and seeing if you find the joy in it.
Doom just got a whole lot uglier when Wallowing showed up. Help us, Boris Johnson; help us, Boris Yeltsin; help us, Boris Becker. Help us, Boris The Blade. This is going to be a bumpy ride, Boris. Oh.the.fun.