Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Hierophant - Spawned Abortions EP

Labels: Unholy Anarchy Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 07 Sep 2018


1. Spawned Abortions
2. Realm Of Chaos (Bolt Thrower Cover)

Death metal is truly gathering pace as the year draws to a close and while there are many full-length's out there at the moment, I've chosen to give this new EP from Italian's Hierophant a go. It's their first release following the 2016 album "Mass Grave" and it feature the original title-track as well as a Bolt Thrower Cover. Since their first album n 2010, Hierophant have been tearing through Europe and further afield, spreading the foul stench of the black death. 

Hierophant presents a unique take on death metal, which is fast and bludgeoning. Spawned Abortions is a wall of thrash/death-laden noise with intense guitars, percussive blasts and deadly growls. It’s not a slow-builder as Hierophant goes straight for your jugular and leaves no time for breath. 

They decision to cover Bolt Thrower’s Realm Of Chaos is a clever one as it suits their approach and sound perfectly. They present their version in a way that’s sympathetic to the original and it’s as dirty as it gets. Thrashing like maniacs the trio sets about making more noise than they really should. It’s glorious. 

Hierophant’s delivery on “Spawned Abortions” is nothing short of breathtaking. Two songs are nowhere near enough but for those who’re already initiated into their death squad, both act as a teaser to their upcoming material. Awesome stuff and utterly infectious. 

Stream "Spawned Abortions" and grab it digitally below:-

Physical records are available here - https://unholyanarchy.aisamerch.com

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Troll Mother - Forest Child

Labels: Self-Released/Skeleton Eyes
Formats: Digital
Release Date: 14 May 2018


1. Prologue
2. Battle For Troll Mountain
3. Forest Child

Damn I feel so tired. As if spending the day in front of a computer at work wasn't enough, I had to choose a hobby where I sit in front of one in the evening's too! It's as good job I have plenty of music to keep me going I guess. As I've mentioned before, I try to work to a rough schedule in terms of what I'm reviewing and it just happens that Troll Mother were next on my list (sorry for the delay guys). Troll Mother is a duo from West Sussex (UK) and they play a mix of sludge, black metal and thrash, as well as a strange fixation with trolls. "Forest Child" is the duo's first full release.

I’ve always considered trolls to be the subject matter of weird folk/power metal bands and album opener Prologue does nothing to change that; however, there’s something slightly tongue-in-cheek about the spoken word piece. Troll Mother launches into some heavy sounds midway through, which is a lot more promising. The narration does tell a story during Battle For Troll Mountain, as black metal fills the speakers. The instrumentation is loud and off-kilter at times and the vocals flit between deeps bellows and sludgy semi-clean singing. The cartoon-ish vocal interludes break up the momentum a bit but when Troll Mother hit their stride, they’re a lot of fun. 

The title-track is probably the most complete song on “Forest Child”. It’s angular, off-kilter sludge is very welcome and the instrumentation/song-writing shows what Troll Mother is capable of. I’m never one to give bad reviews for the sake of it and I’m not about to give one here, I don’t begrudge Troll Mother at all, as the duo is brave enough to do something different and there is definitely a call for that right now. I just feel that they need to focus more on writing songs like the title-track and reducing the narration in order to make things a bit more cohesive. They’ll certainly find their sound as they mature as a band, while continuing to pick up new fans I’m sure.

Stream and download "Forest Child" below:-

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Night Surf - Enemies EP

Labels: Wiretap Records
Formats: Digital
Release Date: 7 Sep 2018


1. Reanimate
2. Sleight Of Hand
3. Watersnake
4. Enemies

There's something about staring out to the trees with their bronze/brown leaves on an autumnal day like today that just makes me want to spin some punk and kick up the roots. I'm not sure why but that's the way I'm feeling and Brooklyn, NYC's Night Surf seem to be the perfect fit. Their latest EP "Enemies" was released digitally via Wiretap Record in September and it follows their first EP "Blasted!" from November last year. Night Surf is just a bunch of guys playing local shows in NYC and the surrounding area who're famous in Serbia!

The first thing (or band) that springs to mind when EP opener Reanimate starts is Strike Anywhere. It’s more from the vocal melodies than anything else and there’s less of a political edge to Night Surf. Their punk is equally as driving though and catchy as hell. Sleight Of Hand rages like an old-school hardcore song. It’s fast and shouty from start to finish, with pure emotion yet it doesn’t come across as anything close to tough-guy hardcore, which wouldn’t have worked anyway on this EP.

I know that a writer using comparisons can be seen as lazy but with Watersnake I get some Alkaline Trio influences in there, sort of reminding me of Dan Adriano in the vocals while the music also delivers a slightly menacing and darker tone. The title-track is anthemic and it typifies punk at it’s most recognisable to me. The fast and rhythmic percussion and bass, the simple chords and riffs that add body and the vocals/melodies that tie everything up in a nostalgically clever way. 

This is a great EP and Night Surf as a band are exactly what I’ve been looking for, because while they could be considered a pop-punk band in some ways, they’re playing the sort of punk that sounds gritty and true as opposed to many of the big modern bands that could be classified as such. Here’s hoping this gets a physical release soon.

You can stream and purchase "Enemies" digitally via bandcamp below, as well as via all the major outlets:-

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Berthold City - Moment Of Truth EP

Labels: War Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 30 Mar 2018


1. Moment Of Truth
2. Left For Dead
3. Enough
4. This World On Fire
5. Like Knives
6. Walls Of Hate

Hardcore is still alive and well in 2018. Whether it's people discovering the bands that made the genre what it is for the first time or new bands coming to the fore and writing their own piece of history, the genre is still a massive part of heavy music. L.A. band Berthold City are one band that is spreading the true meaning of hardcore. The line-up includes members of Strife, Internal Affairs (to name a few) and "Moment Of Truth" is the first full EP to come from the band. It was released through US hardcore label War Records earlier this year.

Now the fireworks have died down here, I can finally get to listen to this EP from Berthold City. Starting with the title-track, it’s obvious that Andrew and the crew are pissed off. It’s a rallying cry that’s to the point. None of the songs on this EP outstay their welcome and Left For Dead is as pure as it gets. The US hardcore that courses through the band’s veins shouldn’t be a surprise but here they take it to a new level in terms of ethics and skill. Groove is also a big part of it and with Enough, Berthold City fills the first sixty-seconds with plenty. The mood gets angry again after that opening salvo but it’s that attitude that keeps it both true and enjoyable.

I’ve always found this genre to be uplifting and this EP does nothing to change my mind about that. This World On Fire rages for just over a-minute-and-a-half and it’s amazing how much music the band can fit into that time. The shout-along vocals rule as well. The off-kilter instrumentation adds a new element to Like Knives. The lyrics spread a message about people who talk when they shouldn’t and about how you should ignore them and be your own person (at least that’s how I interpret them anyway). It’s certainly a message to take to heart. The EP ends with Walls Of Hate and it’s clear by now that Berthold City isn’t just another fly-by-night hardcore band. They’re here to stay and to mobilise the genre and it’s followers again. Take notice or get left behind. 

Stream and grab "Moment Of Truth" either digitally or on vinyl below:-

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Hallas - Excerpts From A Future Past

Labels: The Sign Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital
Release Date: 13 Oct 2017


1. The Astral Seer
2. Repentance
3. Nebulon's Tower
4. The Golden City Of Semyra
5. Star Rider
6. Shadow Of The Templar
7. Illusion Sky

I've felt the need tonight to delve into something different and less abrasive. Swedish 70's hard-rock worshippers Hallas and their debut full-length from 2017 should do nicely. Release on Swedish retro/hard-rock/heavy metal label The Sign Records, it follows their 2015 self-titled EP. They're about to head out to support Graveyard on their Scandinavian tour, so they're keeping very esteemed company. 

There’s nothing wrong with venturing into territory that’s easier on the ears from time to time. Retro rock (as some like to call it) is really growing thanks to a huge number of bands from across the globe, with Scandinavia very much at it’s forefront. Hallas is a band that’s gathering more momentum and it’s easy to see (and hear) why as album opener The Astral Seer brims with progression. keyboard flourishes and clean singing that hasn’t been affected by the usual Americanisation. It’s all very natural sounding and true to heart.

With Repentance, Hallas increase the length of their instrumental passages and layers, enhancing their music with subtle psychedelia, while vocalist/bassist Tommy Alexandersson sounds akin to Sting during his days in The Police when he reaches the higher registers. Nebulon’s Tower is an engrossing instrumental piece that highlights the folk-elements within their sound. “Excerpts From A Future Past” is very much an album for people who genuinely like music. There’s so much musicality present on songs like The Golden City Of Semyra that it’s so easy to get sucked in to it all. Again, the band’s progression is present as well a tempered but meatier percussion element, which give the music extra bite. 

Nicklas Malmqvist’s keyboard work that opens Star Rider is ridiculous, as it breezes through the scales from low to high. This is a super catchy song with some nice pop-like melodies and crunching guitars. I’m not afraid to say that It’s got me feeling quire sleepy in a cosy sort of way. Before you know it (or if you’re in a completely blissful trance), penultimate song Shadow Of The Templar is whisking you off on a journey into the star-filled night sky of the album’s cover. There’s a slight cosmic feel to it all and an upbeat one at that. The album’s final song Illusion Sky is a slower and more melodramatic song. Ultimately, it sums up the Hallas signature sound perfectly and rounds out a record that’s definitely worth more dues than it’s received so far. There are times when a different perspective is needed and this record gives you that without being showy or obtuse. Fantastic.

You can stream and download "Excerpts From A Future Past" via The Sign Records here:-

Physical copies are still available to purchase here - https://freighttrain.se/en/the-sign-record/

Friday, 26 October 2018

Invoker - Cursed To Feel

Labels: Grim Reality Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 12 Oct 2018


1. Black And Blue
2. Cursed
3. The Novel
4. Cease To Exist
5. End Me

When I first started this blog one of the music genres that really excited me was hardcore. It still does and that's why I've chosen to feature Swiss modern hardcore band Invoker as way to belatedly celebrate the blog's 8th anniversary. After releasing their debut EP "Loose Lips Sink Ships" in late 2013, this Lucerne trio has gone onto release their first full-length :Four Wall Nightmare" and are carrying on that momentum with new EP "Cursed To Feel". The European hardcore scene stretches far and wide, encompassing many bands of differing styles yet Switzerland seems underrepresented, until now that is!

I was expecting “Cursed To Feel” to sound very much like a melodic hardcore record but Black And Blue is a furiously-blasting slab of hardcore with crazy kick-drumming, cinematic guitars and vocals that belong in a power-violence band. This is angry stuff but it also transcends those negative emotions and makes you feel elated. There’s a throwback to European metalcore bands like Caliban towards the end of the song too, with clean/semi-clean singing and memorable hooks.

The momentum rages on through Cursed, which is a mix of solid, abrasive hardcore and atmospheric post-hardcore. Invoker aren’t content with following the crowd on this EP and using their raw emotion to deliver a sound that’s this infectious, shows that they should be very much bigger than they are. As you may expect from it’s title, The Novel is slightly more laid-back initially though that feeling of relaxation is soon shattered as the band launches into a song that’s got a rhythm section to die for and a running time that has no reason to stick around. It’s songs like this that leave their mark.

At this point you might think that my review is somewhat contrived but I genuinely mean what I say, or else I wouldn’t be reviewing this EP. Penultimate song Cease To Exist sees Invoker going back to their PV-esque best while filling the it with off-kilter riffs and stomping breakdowns. Despite the negative connotations of EP closer End Me, you’re once again dragged up from the brink and left feeling empowered by the violence that you’ve just experienced. The moments of introspection really accentuate the heaviness that’s presented and while i’d stop just short of saying that the golden age of metalcore might be returning here, “Cursed To Feel” and indeed Invoker is not far off at all. This is massive and easily one of the best modern hardcore releases of 2018. 

You can stream and purchased "Cursed To Feel" digitally below:-

Pre-orders for the 12" vinyl pressing of "Cursed To Feel" have just gone live via Grim Reality Records here - https://grimrealityrecords.bigcartel.com/product/preorder-invoker-cursed-to-feel-12

Sunday, 21 October 2018

New Caina Track - Resurrection Tantra

Apologies for the lack of anything this weekend, I've been busy. Thankfully I've not been too busy to notice that I've been tagged in a Twitter post by UK black metal act Caina. Said post drew my attention to the band's new song Resurrection Tantra.

For those of you who're unaware, Caina is (and has been) one of the UK's most revered black metal acts for many years. From the band's humble beginnings in 2006 with founding (and sole member) ACB at the helm, to the releases "Setter of Unseen Snares" and "Christ Clad In White Phosphorus", in 2015 and 2016 respectively, Caina as always pushed UK black metal further and further on.

Anyway, this video is a stark visual accompaniment to ACB's new song. please enjoy it below:-

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Scolex/Mortuous - Split 7"

Labels: Carbonized Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 31 Oct 2018


1. Scolex - Black Pyramid Ritual
2. Mortuous - Desiccated

I'm moving back into more familiar territory now with a review of the soon-to-be-released split 7" featuring Californian death metal bands Scolex and Mortuous, which is being release by new US label Carbonized Records. Scolex has been plying their horror-filled death trade since 2010 with their only previous release being the self-released EP "Torn From Beyond" from 2013. Mortuous has been a band for a similar period of time, putting out two demos in 2010 and 2012 respectively, before unleashing their debut full-length "Through Wilderness" earlier this year via Carbonized Records and Tankcrimes. Both bands include personnel with years of experience within the US death metal scene.

This split contains two ripping and disgusting death metal tracks. Black Pyramid Ritual by Scolex is a filled with old-school mid-paced riffs, low dirty growls and a rumbling low-end that will have you running for cover. Scolex’s music is also technical, but not in an overbearing way. It’s more of the thrashing and headbanging variety, with lead work that’s more Autopsy than Cynic. 

Mortuous presents an even bleaker image via Desiccated with a sound that’s even more rooted into the deepest depths of the extreme old-school. The percussion is deeper in the mix, the vocals are delivered via deep gargled rasps, while the guitars themselves still provide melody and riffs aplenty. 

While these two tracks aren’t enough to just both bands on, this split shows that the ever moving US death metal production line is continuing to spit out bands with the chops and technical prowess too hard to ignore. Scolex and Mortuous are both excellent and keep the fires burning. 

Pre-orders for the both physical and digital copies can be placed via the below sites:-

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

Labels: Pelagic Records/Metal Blade Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 02 Nov 2018


1. The Cambrian Explosion
2. Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence
3. Ordovicium: The Glaciation Of Gondwana
4. Silurian: Age Of Sea Scorpions
5. Devonian: Nascent
6. The Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse
7. Permian: The Great Dying

Early November will see the release of the new album from German/Swiss post-metal band The Ocean Collective (probably better known as solely The Ocean. This will be the first of two records focusing on the Phanerozoic period of the earth's geological evolution, with the second coming in 2020. "Phanerozoic 1: Palaeozoic" will be released on cd and vinyl (both in separate full-band and instrumental forms) as well as special collectible box sets. For a band that's always followed a similar trajectory music and presentation-wise, this new record promises to be something special.

Beginning with the dramatic instrumental intro The Cambrian Explosion, The Ocean creates intrigue and anticipation through the use of keys and ambience that leads straight into Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence. The guitars loom large as the melody from the keys and synths form continuation. When the full band kicks in it’s an aural cacophony of harsh vocals, clean singing and stellar musical progression, which is what The Ocean is known for. The Ocean’s heaviness is plain to see on Ordovicium: The Glaciation Of Gondwana. It’s a magical song and while it’s shorter in length, there’s no passing up on the layers of warmth that come from the whole band. When The Ocean fires on all cylinders, they are a cut above.

You could make obvious comparisons at times to a certain US progressive metal band but that would be pointless and disrespectful to say the least. Silurian: Age Of Sea Scorpions sees The Ocean’s dynamic flipped with ocean vocals taking the lead to great effect. The piano definitely adds to their progressive nature as well. No one texture rules over the other despite what I said earlier on in this paragraph. Dense, engaging metal and classical elements work in harmony to make it one of the more conventional (in a listening sense) song’s on the album. Devonian: Nascent follows in the same vein and it makes me realise that I was a bit rude when calling Silurian… conventional. Both songs are soaring metal songs that seem happy to tread further from the genre’s confines and Devonian.. contains a grunge-like clean vocal tone that makes the hairs on your neck stand up, especially when backed up by the harsher growls. Being the longest song on the album, you might be fearing something pretentious but this couldn’t be further removed. 

The Ocean return to heavier realms on penultimate song The Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse, which is mostly instrumental, save for the subtle screams that can be heard deep within the music (at least that’s what i’m hearing so correct me if I’m wrong). Album closer Permian: The Great Dying is the progressive beast that every album of this ilk should end with. This whole record is astounding and it’s made me fall in love with proper progressive music again. The Ocean may be leaning further away from the post-metal that helped them to make their name, but it’s no bad thing when they can produce music of this quality. They are set to become the biggest progressive metal band on the planet.

You can pre-order the album's closer via The Ocean's bandcamp page, where you can also pre-order it digitally and stream two songs:-

Physical pre-orders are available below:-

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Autumnwind - Endless Fear

Labels: Symbol Of Domination Productions/More Hate Productions
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 20 May 2018


1. The Panic Attack
2. The Hallucination
3. Lost And Alone
4. Forever Insomnia
5. Endless Fear

The weather conditions here are terrible today and I don't much feel like going out. Instead, I've decided to surround myself with music and try to be productive on here. For this first review I wanted to write about a project from a far-flung nation, that's going against the general populous in what is still a war-torn country. Autumnwind fit that bill perfectly, being an instrumental ambient/black metal band from Syria. This is Autumnwind's third album and it was released in May via Belarusian label Symbol Of Domination Productions and Russia co-conspirators More Hate Productions. 

It’s always interesting to hear music produced by individuals from countries like Syria, as often the hardship they face comes through in the music. On “Endless Fear” though, Autumnwind projects a feeling of hope and positivity though the use of ambient keys and uplifting black metal featuring subtle riffs and a drum machine. The Panic Attack opens the album in a calm way and is structured really well. The lack of vocals doesn’t affect it either. There’s a cosmic feel to The Hallucination and the melodies that comes through provide a glimpse into the Middle-Eastern roots of the band. It’s more heavily synth-led, which helps to add more atmosphere to it’s mid-paced tempo. Haunting is a word I’d use to describe this song and it sums up the emotions of those behind the band.

The lengthy compositions on “Endless Fear” are meant to be listened to with no distractions or stoppages and as such are oddly relaxing, with Lost And Alone being the longest piece on the album. The ambient instrumentation led by pan pipe effects make it quite hypnotic and the minimal use of dissonant guitars also helps. Forever Insomnia is filled with strings that add a slightly more jarring edge to Autumnwind’s sound, though that’s maybe just me being a bit unfair. The song itself is more urgent and of a slightly higher tempo, with more prominent guitar melodies. Ending with the beautifully calming title-track is a masterstroke as it’s quiet instrumentation washes over you with no threat of heaviness to break the mood. The ominous bell closes it out and leaves only silence. This album may not be extreme (musically) but it is when consider the band’s roots and the work that has been put in to release it. Excellent in it’s own way and worthy of further support.

You can stream "Endless Fear" below:

It's available to purchase digitally and on cd from Symbol Of Domination Productions above and you can can also purchase it from More Hate Productions here - http://www.morehate.com/release

Symbol Of Domination Productions - https://www.facebook.com/SymbolOfDominationProd/