Season of Mist, 08.09.17
It may be easy to dismiss a band called Cannabis Corpse as simply a parody band. But doing that would be a rash mistake. Even with a parodic title like Left Hand Pass, the Americans deliver deadly goods that stands firmly on its own feet.
The band ain't my absolute death metal favourite, and during the first spin, their new album felt rather generic. The bong-raisers have nevertheless always delivered a decent downpour, something they also do this time around. The brothers Landphil and HallHammer are also gradually starting to becoming ever so experienced.
The press release suggests in jest that the song titles could be used in a death metal quiz, as these are borrowed and rewritten with tongue-in-cheek. The longest title spells Papyrus Containing the Spell to Protect Its Possessor Against Attacks from He Who Is in the Bong Water. You can either chuckle in your beard or scratch your head in bewilderment.
Cannabis Corpse, currently a trio of men with a tendency to prefer a sensible drug alternative, are now out with their fifth full length after over ten years in the game. It lasts for about 37 minutes, which is an okay duration when the material is largely crafted in the same mould. As I wrote about classic death metal in connection with From Wisdom to Baked three years ago, I can easily fall for albums that presents creepy melody lines with hypnotic and unpredictable diversion, while high-speed material in a straight-for-the-jugular avalanche with no notable substance, can become uninteresting very fast.
Some of the material has a straightforward feel that don't offer a whole lot of excitement in 2017. The band, however, knows to present hypnotic passages between the sprint stages. The mixture of killer sequences and more ordinary parts feels quite evenly distributed. After many spins, I'm left with a somewhat ambivalent impression of a rather good, but not exemplary release. To pick out favourite songs ain't too easy either, as the album as a whole is quite even. The album still seems to built up slightly toward In Battle There Is No Pot, that is in turn followed by a number of songs with some more mood and not just ordinary staccato pressure waves.
I'm torn between 3 and 4 points. At its weakest, the music don't have a whole lot of identity, while the songs don't stand out beyond what's expected. I still choose not to be particularly strict, as the music at its best is quite solid, and I like this a wee bit more than its somewhat mediocre predecessor. Rating: 4-
Seance Records, 26.06.17
When Kafirun, a for me totally unknown band, brings fairly atonal and kaleidoscopic black metal with occult overtones to the table, one would think it would be spot on.
At the first and second attempt, however, I don't entirely get their music. After a while, the impression improved and the album became quite pleasant.
In many cases, I would say “unpleasant”, but the album is comfortable and I don't feel that the inhospitality is aimed at me as such.
The band hails from Vancouver, Canada, and was started in 2014. Eschaton is their first album in the wake of two EPs called Death Worship and Glorification of Holy Death, a compilation of these two releases, as well as a split from last year.
Their music on the debut album has moods of a somewhat malignant character, and sequences of cascading maelstroms with a mildly chaotic touch. The execution is nevertheless rather dreamy. The word atmospheric becomes a bit misleading, but the band has a more soaring expression than many of those it would otherwise have been natural to compare them to.
The sound, and especially the guitar sound, must take some of the blame. It has a rounder and softer style than what you normally associate with barbed wire, distortion and black metal. A few places, I also get associations to newer Keep of Kalessin.
Those in search of primitive disgust in the form of a dissonant spiral straight to Hell, won't find it on Eschaton. The album in stead conveys an atmosphere of exploring the netherworld with curiosity and open-mindedness, without what's being encountered being considered as neither negative nor ill-natured. On the contrary, the strange surroundings and the perilous sensations seem to be perceived as a positive experience, without the music appearing as overly lighthearted.
The initial feeling of having heard music of that ilk done better, is eventually replaced with a sense of hearing a familiar scenario from a slightly different perspective. Thus, Eschaton is a nice, albeit not directly mandatory album to add to the collection. Rating: 4
Cruz Del Sur Music, 08.09.17
Time to dip the toes in the fountain of youth again. Argus is an American heavy metal band that might not need any introduction among genre connoisseurs, but that's not to say that any bells of remembrance chimes for me.
The band has amongst other three albums behind them, released from 2009 to 2013. In other words, it' been a few years. From Fields Of Fire is a thorough work, and I enjoy the album's company, but a few subjective appeals still reduce the overall impression.
So let's start with one of them. From Fields Of Fire has a somewhat calm, doomy character that can at times (especially in some vocal lines of Are You The Curse) remind me a bit of Iron Maiden after the turn of the millennium. The style is a bit harmless and inoffensive, and therefore lacks a little bite. That the vocal is also mild and innocent, doesn't make the music any less edgeless. I prefer my metal a bit more rebellious and disorderly. Hell, even antagonistic and nihilistic.
That said; The quintet offers well-written material with good structure and some solid tracks. After a nifty acoustic intro, four alright, but not overwhelmingly impressive songs follow, of which 216 is the one that I take most notice of, so to speak. The second half of the album consists of three longer songs and an acoustic outro, and it's within this part that the lads' compositional flair comes best to its own.
11 minutes long Infinite Lives Infinite Doors is a nice treat, but it's during the two remaining songs, at just over 7 minutes each, that Argus occasionally “shine”, to overstate slightly. From the last half of Hour of Longing and throughout No Right to Grieve, heartfelt moods are in the spotlight.
You can of course make the objection that all in all, not a whole lot of the material seem to engage noteworthily. Unfortunately, you're right, and that's my second appeal. From a heavy/doom perspective, however, no part of the material is directly weak, even if far from everything is giving me all that much. I nevertheless consider the album as absolutely listenable, and the toothlessness to be highly tolerable. The music is good, but a bit too ordinary to evoke the greatest enthusiasm.
A little bit of gentle and safe heavy/doom should work fine in the background of most contexts, and shouldn't get on anyone's nerves. From Fields Of Fire can be played on family trips and picnics. And if someone were to protest because of the excessively noisy nature of the music, feel free to smack 'em upside the head and tell them to go fuck themselves with legitimate indignation. Rating: 3