Independent, 15.04.17 Moonlight Prophecy is a one-man band from the state of Pennsylvania, just west of New York city. Lawrence Wallace has a couple of other bands going, as well as a couple of bands behind him. Several of these are black metal band, while one of the active projects is his solo band where the guy pumps out progressive ambient shred.
Eternal Oblivion is the first EP under the moniker Moonlight Prophecy. The man has restrained his musical border a bit this time, and the music appears to be more concentrated and focused than in his other band.
The musical influences nevertheless form a mildly schizophrenic mix together. Spellbound opens in keeping with conventions derived from heavy/speed, has good drive, wistful moods and lots of nifty guitar work. Just like finishing Witch Hunt, this is an instrumental. The song Eternal Oblivion is a little calmer, with pleasant melancholy. Clean vocals with a touch of echo suits the fairly dark flair. When Witch Hunt speed things up, the shred guitar really comes into its own right .
Lawrence knows his way around his guitar, but ain't fully on a par with the most famous guitar virtuosos. That might be just as well, because unlike the worst guitar masturbators, Mr. Wallace writes actual songs, not just improvised experimental scales. The sound is clear and good, with decent dynamics of DR8, something the drums in particular makes good use of.
With an average of less than four minutes, Eternal Oblivion is done in 11 minutes. In my eyes, that's not much more than a brief taste, but a good one. The band's music is somewhat gentler than most stuff conveyed here, and the songs aren't immediate classics, but the melodies are good and the execution impeccable. You could do far worse things than giving Eternal Oblivion a spin with your eyes closed to get a well-deserved break from a stressful world bound to drive you insane.
Independent, 15.04.17 Dante's Theory is a quartet from Singapore that still seems to be at the starting gate. The quality of the five-track EP that's hereby released, however, suggests that the band is ripe for advancing.
The band has been around since the mid-nineties, but apparently changed their name from Pyro a decade ago.
In just a little over 13 minutes, the band has elbowed their way through all five songs. Deathcore is not really my thing, but Dante's Theory is not the worst thing I've ever heard. It must nevertheless be admitted that the cover art contributed to my inquisitive desire to explore.
Qiamat Heretics starts with tiresome staccato rhythm, and the song doesn't get any better when riffs, vocals and rhythms reek of modern gestures. The song is however very long. It does not let go until 3.5 minutes have passed. The second half has a bit more headbanger-friendly rolling pace, and the band calms down the most juvenile antics. Iron Coffin starts off pretty tough before jump-friendly beats again evokes annoying mental images of American morons with hip-hop clothes jumping around on stage. Insanity of the Saints is the short song of the EP, clocking in at 92 seconds. Aggressive drive, tough riff and an adequate sample makes it concise but cool.
With Singapore as the background and the cover art in sight, it's probably justified to hope for a little exotic fun, but this sounds rather ordinary. It sounds professionally and tight, though, and the sound is good. Yet there's nothing very unique about it. Dethroned the Purist pounds hard. The drums are fast and good, and the band shows they've got more than one trick up their sleeves. Last song Amuta ain't once bad musically. Especially the guitar solo that leaves the stage to the bass “solo”, albeit short and simple, it freshens and creates diversity for a band who proves they're no one trick pony.
A more objective analyzer, who's also willing to throw in a bit of goodwill, would focus on the better aspects here, for Amuta ain't bad at all. Me on the other hand. I've got an inherit prejudiced aversions and severe allergies that make me want to sharpen the slaughter-knives. Fortunately, I'm also one hell of a nice person with insight enough to realize that in the end, it's you who must decide whether this is killer or road-kill. I'm just the devil's messenger.
Amor Fati Productions, 02.12.16
I came across these Swedes' first release towards the end of last year, but despite good intentions, I never found the time to search for the right words to convey Döda Vägar.
Little is known about Mylingar, but the name is plural of the Swedish word “myling”. These are ghosts of unwanted children, killed or left to die without baptism. In the 1800s it was considered great sin to bring children to the world out of wedlock, which resulted in so many infant-killings that it peaked the Norwegian murder statistics. There's the result of Christian “charity and compassion” for you!
Döda Vägar, meaning Dead Ways/Roads, is a 23-minute EP that works best with headphones. The sound is violently compressed, and the first song, Elden is intense as hell. The compression is of course not any less noticeable with headphones, but the other details of the tornado's interior become more visible witnessed from the outside.
The band plays a form of cacophonous black/death with atonal elements of kaleidoscopic landscapes. The four songs that follow, have a somewhat airier expression in the performance. The sound, however, remains compressed in a deafening DR5 production. The music itself is, however, quite good, albeit somewhat chaotic. The atmosphere is claustrophobic, and more wretched than a mere dire threat, and as such suits a rather coarse and rotten production. It is, however, possible to create oppressive moods without crushing lack of sonic dynamics.
The sound is a bit ruining for enjoying the music fully, but Mylingar also a have some ways to go before they are fully on par with other depraved constellations marked by pandemonium, whether Deathspell Omega, Teitanblood or Imperial Triumphant is the nearest source of inspiration.
The music is at least reasonably good as it is, if not fully competitive just yet, but the Swedes have the potential to play with the big clamorous boys one day.
Listen and pay what you think the EP is worth on Bandcamp.
20 Buck Spin, 07.04.17
The quartet from Bay Area has been around since early this decade, and hereby presents their first foray. The band consists of musicians from Vastum, Agalloch, Repulsion and Necrosic, and plays fittingly brutal, but not excessively cacophonous death metal. Let's call it dirty, vulgar and boorish death metal.
After an intro, five songs follows, sporting just over five minutes on average. Better succinctly than to overstaying their welcome.
The band consists of 2.5 men and 1.5 women ± 0.5, as one of the ladies have not always been so. She is one of two vocalist / guitarists. The band knows their art of war and delivers a very audible piece of barbaric aggression that reek of carrion. The riffs are tight and the distortion thick. So thick that Stockholm's bloody saw blade expression comes to mind. The approach of the quartet is classic, and songs and implementation has everything required, including frenetic solos. Fans of dirty and warlike death metal are in for an agreeable lethal doze.
Yet, the tension is not overwhelming. My main objection is that despite sounding killer, it also sounds recycled. Through 26 minutes, they don't come up with enough hooks to earn shelf space among an already bountiful share of slaying death metal albums. Extremely Fucking Dead is a professional and sufficient album, but it's also a bit too ordinary to blow my mind. Ergo, I end up giving a slightly strict grading to an absolutely alright disc.
Weird Truth Productions, 12.04.17
A quiet piano piece on barely three minutes open this 33 minute long EP from the British trio Imindain. With the exception of a two-year hiatus, the band has been around since 2002, and the list of former members is five times longer that the number of current members.
The band has released a couple of demos and attended a couple of splits, including a tribute to Bethlehem's*Dictius Te Necare. Ten years ago, the Brits released their first album, and this is the first EP, with duration as a rather brief album.
Imindain plays heavy, gloomy and slow death/doom with gravity as of funeral doom, and a suiting black tinge of bitterness and disgust.
Three songs of ten minutes each on average follows the grand piano intro. Through passages of resounding guitars and bitter, hateful vocals and sequences with modest elongate guitar tones and drums with extensive use of the cymbal in resting pulse pace, the band convey a sense of absolute hopelessness. Said vocals is rasping and resentful, emitting a sensation of dsbm along with the musical expression. It is, however, deadly doom the band reel off.
Vocalist L.B. otherwise deal with sludge/stoner/doom and funeral doom in his two other bands. Guitarist and vocalist D.L. has primarily left a good handful of more or less brutal death metal bands behind him, and belongs to the original line-up of Cruciamentum*. Guitarist M.W. has played in three of the same deadly band that D.L. has belonged to.
The sound has an organic rawness that conveys naked and honest misery. D.L. owns Resonance Sound Studio, so it's natural to assume that the album was recorded there. The drums have a natural sound and the guitars drone in a resonating way. That the dynamics are not compressed (DR9) also helps create a natural soundscape.
The band conveys ample moods, although the song-writing is not quite on par with the British death/doom pioneers. The band doesn't play on conventional melodies to the same extent, but concentrates on utilizing the combination of resounding instruments, including a touch of organ, and heartfelt aggravating discouragement. Although they don't maintain the British heritage in a conservative manner, they still pass it on through evolutionary methods.
Imindain concludes with a cover of the last song on Australian Disembowelment's acclaimed sole album. The Brits makes it become one with their own two song on The Enemy of Fetters and Dwellers in the Woods. The album in its entirety has grown from mediocre to strong, but it has taken quite some time to reach this destination. Genre connoisseurs should make use of patience to achieve this, but that's also likely a trait fans of such music is known to have. Bon appétit.
Total Metal Records, 30.03.17
In 2014, Rik Charron, drummer of Canada's legendary speed metal act Exciter left after nearly 20 years of service. The reason appears to be that the band's only remaining original member, guitarist John Ricci first announced his retirement before reconsidering and reforming the band with the original line-up.
The following year, Dark Ministry was born. Rik, who turns 50 just before Yule-time, has recruited four unknown younglings to continue what he does best, hammer out speed/thrash.
The EP The Sermon Begins consists of three tracks divided over ten minutes, and was completed half an eternity ago. In early February, the band announced that they'd been signed by Metal Scrap Records, and the release is finally out through the sub-label Total Metal.
My relationship to thrash has largely been restricted to the dark side. Early black/thrash and other thrash with dark undertones have always appealed more than colourful covers and themes marked by radioactive mutations. But despite limited knowledge I have never discarded heavy metal's rapid devil spawn: speed metal.
Killing Machine goes straight to work with thrashing riffs. The combination of driving riffs and rhythms form the core before the solo lifts the track a little higher. The vocals are a bit to “talkative” for my taste, and gives the song a touch of Anthrax's distinctive approach to the genre. Something that doesn't quite make sense as Anthrax was the thash metal band with the vocalist who actually sang.
Voodoo Sacrifice is the shortest of the songs, and it doesn't take long before the guitar-fireworks are launched. The downside is the sequences where guitar and drums goes monotonically on repeat and leaves the stage to singer Tyler Knapp who drag the music in the wrong direction with groovy hardcore-punk and semi-rap vocals. Or something. The style is beyond my expertise. More cool guitar parts drag the track back in the right direction, though.
Blood Driven is the third and last song, and yet another example of speedy metal with elements from heavy, thrash and death. Energetic drumming finishes off a short EP with vital guitars which this time keeps the vocalist more in check. With more diversity, more metal and a more meaningful solo, this is undoubtedly a personal favourite.
With two guitars in decent interaction, it's desirable to see more thorough duels, but one can always hope for better exploited twin guitars on the upcoming album. Twelve tracks intended for the album debut is long since written.
As you already realize, I have a taste for the riffs, drumming, solos and the flow in general. The song content could, however, have been somewhat stronger, and the vocals lowers the impression on my part.
The music is nevertheless absolutely alright. At its best, I'm really digging what is delivered. Less picky bastards might savour this a few notches more than me. Nice cover art, by the way.
War Anthem Records, 06.04.17
When you come across two bands with the same name, these have a tendency to come from the same country as well, as in this case.
The Stockholm-band Lik must not be confused with the eccentric band known as Lekamen Illusionen Kallet, usually referred to as LIK.
Both Lik and Uncanny plays pure death metal, and has recently released a 7.5-minute split 7".
With such short duration, it should come as no surprise that the two contribute one song each.
Lik (Meaning Corpse) released their debut album Mass Funeral Evocation one and a half years ago, and they're planning the release of a sophomore album after the summer. The song Only Death is Left Alive is short but succinct. At three minutes they quickly and swaggering plough through slaying circular saw riffs and howling solos, and a damn tough middle section. The men enter, do the job and disappear before you know what hit you. Effective as a professional assassin.
Uncanny has a considerably longer history. The band started up under another name in 1989, but soon changed it. After the first, and so far only full-length album, the band went into the grave in 1994. In 2008, the sleep of the dead was disturbed, and the men began to haunt the scene, which has resulted in a compilation and a two splits. The Reaping is taken from last year's EP Liturgy, and is a slower, more groovy thing. These corpses also use circular saw along with more screeching band saw guitars, delivering cool riffs and creepy moods.
Of 500 printed copies, only 19 physical disks remain at the time of writing. I unfortunately don't know whether this one will be released digitally or not. A preview of Lik is not available as far as I can see, but here you can at least hear The Reaping:
When was the last time I wrote about an album solely based on streaming from Bandcamp? It's been quite a while for sure. Something about Polish Sanctus Hexe and their first album The Abyss of Ancient Forest made it difficult to break away after first having started listening to it after coming across it among half a dozen other interesting items in a post on No Clean Singing.
The only sign of life until now is a short single from 2015. The genre is specified as black/death on Encyclopaedia Metallum, but we hereby corrects it to atmospheric black metal.
The band has an inherent monotony, something I don't always appreciate, but in this case it works superbly. The music has a rich floating soundscape where guitar, synth and tinctures of amongst other accordion, fiddle and wind resonate excellently together and creates a relaxing, dreamy expression. The band also, not unexpectedly, mixes calm passages of acoustic mournfulness and more intense sequences.
Opening tack The Whispers of Eternal Forests is biting, albeit a few degrees above the freezing point, as when the snow slowly melts and forms ice cold and clear mountain streams. The Oath is in turn an instrumental snippet where melt-water drips from icicles while one warms up around the fire under a starry sky. Subsequent The Ritual of Resurrection begins with resounding riffs that's soon joined by grieving, albeit in excess artificial violin.
Through nine tracks and close to 50 minutes, we're presented a number of great melodies from guitar strings with varying fierce sound, drums with seemly variation in pace, fitting vocal of a diverse nature and delicate tones from an arsenal of cushion-soft instrumental accessories. Until the Last Breath, another short instrumental, also has to be mentioned with its vibes of Agalloch, even if it's an exception rather than the rule. If you crave for an elixir of furore and poignant moods, Nocturnal Moonlit can for example be recommended.
The Abyss of Ancient Forest never suffers from a homonym uniformity, as the expression and the ingredients are varied and changes constantly occur, but said inherent monotony provides a hypnotic effect. The album at times has a distant doomy echo of funeral, albeit cloaked in a quicker and blacker shroud. If you have a taste for “calm”, evocative black metal with more zest and edge than post-black, this may be well worth investing in.