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martedì 21 novembre 2017

Délétère - Les Heures de la Peste

#FOR FANS OF: Black, Forteresse, Csejthe
Rumbling, somehow awkward sounding guitars characterize the production of Délétère's first full-length, dated 2015. This is a sound one has to get used to. The massive and more or less lumpy mix contradicts the actually fine leads and melodies. This is not as bad as it sounds, because this kind of inner conflict gives "Les Heures de la Peste" a certain individuality. By contrast, the hoarse and baleful voice does not provide a special contribution. Sometimes icy, passionate screams appear that build a bridge to the most extrovert Scandinavian black metal singers. But this is not as bad as it sounds, too. To close this chapter, the production is not outstanding, but okay.

What about the musical content? Délétère originates from Quebec and they fulfil every expectation in terms of style. At least the fast sections of the duo's compositions lie in close proximity to the songs of their neighbours. I am speaking of Forteresse, Csejthe and comparable bands from the constantly boiling Canadian metropolis. One could also mention Sanctuaire if one leaves their ambient pieces out of consideration. But wait, the here reviewed work also houses some ambient elements. However, do not think of endless keyboard lines that wander alone through the barren prairie. Songs like "Aux Thaumaturges Égarés, une Étoil Nécrosée" create a desperate, sinister atmosphere without neglecting the metallic fundament. Lonely guitars deliver the soundtrack to a sad scenario while darkness falls over the land, but they are mostly accompanied by the infernally echoing lead vocals and the reliable rhythm section. By the way, this piece with a duration of more than seven minutes shines with its compositional coherence - and this coherence is no exception, but the standard. The dudes mostly deliver intelligently constructed tunes and this is not a matter of course when it comes to a debut work with eight songs that clock in after 48 minutes.

The album - which is equipped with a stylish booklet - generates a very uncomfortabe feeling due to its strict leads and the painful yelling. The ecclesiastical choirs at the end of "Une Charogne Couronnée de Fumier" also create ambivalent emotions, to say the least. It is amazing to see that both sides of the band work very well. The raging outbursts and the atmospheric sections complement each other in a good manner. "Credo II" is the prime example. Its Forteresse-like high velocity parts shine with fascinating leads and pure vehemence, while the gloomy yet extremely heavy episode which sets in at 2:40 minutes delivers the perfect supplement. No doubt, it seems as if Quebec has become a guarantor for high class black metal with an unmistakable flavour. To cut a long story short, if one likes cascades of guitar lines, fervent vocals and a high degree of dedication, "Les Heures de la Peste" has a good chance of becoming his or her album of the month. Great songs like "Le Lait de l'Essaim" are not ten a penny. Indeed, the mostly fantastic compositions let me forget the slightly dubious production. Honesty speaking, I want to hear more of Délétère. (Felix 1666)
 
(Sepulchral Productions - 2015)

lunedì 20 novembre 2017

Three Eyes Left - The Cult of Astaroth

#PER CHI AMA: Doom/Psych/Sludge
Siamo in un cimitero di provincia in pieno medioevo, in una fredda notte d’inverno. Il velo che separa la vita e la morte è stato squarciato e un druido sta evocando un potente demone del mondo antico di nome Astaroth, principe degli inferi e braccio destro di Satana. Il freddo penetra nelle ossa, c’è odore di polvere, terra bagnata e fumo da combustione. È questo lo scenario in cui la musica di 'The Cult of Astaroth' ci catapulta senza troppi giri di parole, supportata egregiamente dall’artwork di Luca Solomacello. Si tratta del secondo album dei bolognesi Three Eyes Left edito per Argonauta Records, un concentrato di doom, psych e sludge, influenze che si fondono in un vortice di oscurità che trasuda esoterismo e magia nera. La prima traccia “Sons of Aries” apre con un leggero arpeggio di chitarra acustica particolarmente adatto ad accompagnare una seduta di meditazione che si riversa poi in un tetro ambiente cimiteriale dove solo una voce femminile ci guida tra le tombe diroccate e tra gli intricati sentieri illuminati fiocamente dalla fiamma di alcune candele che resistono al vento freddo della notte senza mai spegnersi. L'incantesimo però viene subito turbato da una cascata di valvole saturate che declamano pesanti riff doom sovrastati da quella che sembra la voce di Ozzy, tanto somigliante da chiedermi se effettivamente non stia ascoltando i Black Sabbath. Il viaggio continua con “You Suffer...I, The Evil Dead”: dopo un’evocativa apertura degna dei migliori film horror con un traballante carillon, inaspettatamente compaiono i primi attacchi di growl a contrasto con la sensazione di proto-doom che il disco nella sua interezza porta con sé. Personalmente è il mio pezzo preferito, racchiude l’essenza profonda del lavoro ed è costellato di accorgimenti sonori interessanti come l’utilizzo di metriche particolari (il tema principale si sviluppa su 10 quarti), la presenza di assoli allucinatori e gli spiccati connotati ancestrali ed esoterici della voce. Si tratta evidentemente di un rituale, una serie di formule che se ripetute nella giusta sequenza, possono portare energie che abitano altri mondi in visita nel nostro. Ripensandoci questo potrebbe facilmente essere il rituale che il druido in copertina sta celebrando per riportare in vita gli antichi demoni che andranno a riprendersi ciò che gli spetta dal mondo dei vivi. Il disco prosegue imperterrito navigando tra profondi mari sconosciuti, cieli in tempesta eterna e distese di terra spoglia a perdita d’occhio. Il viaggio non è privo di ostacoli, non è facile infatti rimanere agganciati ad un percorso di quasi 70 minuti, gli oscuri anatemi sepolcrali dei Three Eyes Left continuano a fluire nelle casse creando una coltre di tenebra spessa e densa tanto da oscurare il cimitero in cui mi immaginavo di passeggiare. Nel momento in cui arrivo all’agghiacciante chiusura “.. And Then God Will Die..” (ho avuto un brivido lungo la schiena solamente a scrivere il titolo di questo pezzo), l’oscurità ha preso il sopravvento, non vedo niente che possa essere umanamente distinguibile, rimane solo la sensazione di essere sospeso in un limbo infinito dove il corpo non esiste più e lo spirito è libero di vagare nei più neri anfratti dell’ignoto. (Matteo Baldi)

(Argonauta Records - 2017)
Voto: 75

https://threeeyesleft.bandcamp.com/

Mystifier - Profanus

BACK IN TIME:
#FOR FANS OF: Black/Death
Here I have my review of an offering called 'Profanus'. This record is the fourth full-length studio album released by Brazil's Mystifier in 2001 under Encore Records. This coming November 24th 2017, the album will be re-issued by Vic Records with bonus tracks of Mystifier's 'Wicca' and 'Göetia' albums. I first heard of this band way back 2010, as I stumbled upon their sophomore full-length offering 'Göetia'. I dig that album a lot because of its dark and clandestine vibe, and its raw unrelenting assault on the listeners' ears. 'Profanus', however, falls short in both those categories.

Now I actually can stand listening to 'Profanus', but it just doesn't have the right amount of elements that made me admire Mystifier's first three studio releases and early demos. This album, although strongly in the black and death metal rank, holds several good classic heavy metal touches and thrash metal fragments. It has a number of decent thrash rhythm riffs and melodic traditional metal leads, and the album's tunefulness even has those Iron Maiden-influenced riffs thrown into the mix. Even the guitar solos are acceptable due to its dusky and ditty dispatch.

The bass is pretty clear on the album, no question to that. We can also observe that there are numerous fair amounts of blast-beats present in each song in here. I also would like to praise that vocal performance which is a good mixture of death metal growls and high pitched black metal screams. Except for "Beyond the Rivers of Hades" and "Superstitious Predictions of Misfortune", as those two has a clear power metal and dingy pitch vocal parts. But even those two tracks are both satisfying and entertaining.

We can also listen to keyboards in certain sections of the album. The keyboards provided are tolerable, but they lack of that dark and concealed feeling. The guitars, bass, drums, and the vocals are all fine to me. They pack enough force that catches the attention of the audiences. But the goth-sounding keyboard section is what doesn't really convince me about this release. I deem it weak, and it does not offer that level of spookiness that adds an atmospheric effect which you can find in early releases like 'Wicca' and 'Göetia'. Those two mentioned records by the Brazilian ensemble have that eerie keyboard sections similar to Emperor’s 'In the Nightside Eclipse'.

If the band had stuck with their relentless and bleak music disposition, like what they had done with the previous records, this release might have been more influential and compelling. Again, I want to be clear that I am entertained by this offering. Unfortunately, it just doesn't give me that same inkling impact that Mystifier's old recordings did.

To conclude, Mystifier come up with a fairly good record on 'Profanus'. Most of the instruments and the elements in the album -- except the keyboard part -- are appeasing, were well played and well performed. Loyal fans of the band can find this appealing, considering the catchy guitars, relevant drum blast beats, and suitable vocal haulage. Sad to say that for me, 'Profanus' just isn't that imposing and striking as the band's past materials. Well, at least the keyboards here aren't as lame as Dimmu Borgir's keyboard playing, where they play just for the sake of inserting a keyboard section on their music. (Felix Sale)

(Encore Records/Vic Records - 2001/2017)
Score: 60

https://www.facebook.com/mystifier666/

domenica 19 novembre 2017

Damnation Defaced - Invader From Beyond

#PER CHI AMA: Melo/Cyber Death, In Flames, Scar Symmetry
Tornano i panzer tedeschi Damnation Defaced, con quello che è il loro terzo Lp dalla loro fondazione avvenuta nel 2006, a completare una discografia che include anche un paio di EP. 'Invader From Beyond' esce per la Apostasy Records, un'etichetta per lo più specializzata nel death metal melodico. E il quintetto della Bassa Sassonia, per quanto il loro moniker possa suonare fuorviante, rientrano alla grande in questa categorizzazione. 'Invader From Beyond' contiene infatti dieci ottime tracce (più intro) che ammiccano al melodeath di stampo svedese, quello carico di groove, ottimi arrangiamenti, melodie catchy e chi più ne ha più ne metta, per conquistare una fetta di nuovi fan. Ne è dimostrazione "Goddess of Machines" che sulla robusta matrice ritmica, ci piazza un'elettronica dal profumo un po' vintage '80s, su cui s'innestano poi le growling vocals del frontman Philipp e gli assoli taglienti e melodici quanto basta delle due asce, per guadagnare mezzo punto in più in questa recensione. Non aspettatevi voci ruffiane però, un minimo di connessione col brutale passato death old school dei nostri, bisogna pur preservarlo. E allora largo al riffing serrato della title track, che viene smussato nella sua foga selvaggia, da tastiere che chiamano in causa indistintamente Scar Symmetry ed In Flames, giusto per fare due nomi a caso del panorama melodeath svedese. E noi non possiamo che applaudire alla proposta dei nostri che, pur non brillando in fatto di originalità, ci consente di apprezzare una sound sicuramente genuino, divertente e in grado di regalarci una quarantina di minuti in relax, a sbatterci ancora come dei ragazzini con un headbanging compassato, come quello garantito dalla quarta "Mark of Cain". Il rifferama di "The Observer" chiama in causa la scuola "meshuggana", anche se qui i ritmi sono decisamente più pacati, ma sempre carichi di colate di melodia cibernetica che mantengono la proposta musicale del quintetto di Celle, aperto a frange più o meno estese di fan. Certo, se si fosse fatto uso anche di ammiccanti vocals in pulito staremo parlando di tutt'altro prodotto, decisamente più accessibile, però non nascondo che l'ascolto di 'Invader From Beyond' possa concedere momenti più o meno interessanti. Non male l'apertura affidata ai synth di "The Key to Your Voice" sul cui riffing, che mi ha evocato gli Edge of Sanity (non a caso Dan Swano è responsabile di mix e mastering di questo lavoro), si staglia il vocione del monolitico cantante, in una traccia che riserva un finale apocalittico e furioso, con una funambolica prova alle pelli del bravissimo Lucas e ancora una prova sopra le righe, dei due chitarristi, la cui caratura tecnica sarà confermata anche in altri episodi del cd. Epico l'inizio di "All Comes to Its End", cosi come dirompente è l'apparato solistico di "Back from Apathy", peccato solo che si tratti di sprazzi non cosi lunghi e strutturati e che ci si debba pertanto accontentare di pochi secondi. Ultima citazione per la più orchestrale e organica "Creator's Fall", che con le sue melodie ficcanti, i suoi chorus e le mitraglianti ritmiche, regala altri minuti di piacevolissimo death metal dalle tinte moderne. Non male. (Francesco Scarci)

(Apostasy Records - 2017)
Voto: 75

sabato 18 novembre 2017

Decatur - Badder Than Brooklyn

#FOR FANS OF: Heavy/Groove/Thrash Metal
With a logo reminiscent of what adorns the average Marvel comic book shining in the night's sky above an otherwise empty street, save for the buckets of blood soaking the pavement, Decatur attempts to cover lot of ground in this first album of rough-and-tumble heavy metal. Though “Internal War” immediately shows off an aggressive North American metal band, this Toronto trio brings a bit more breadth to its sound than only thrashing guitars and grooving rhythms. Somewhere along the line this band got on a Judas Priest kick and couldn't shake it off when it came time to record a debut album.

“Into the Night” has a great guitar sound to it that takes note of the prickly pace of “Stained Class” era Judas Priest and ups its ante with a fuller thrashing string compliment before it becomes a drawn out verse-chorus singalong. The lyrics, especially in the 'we believe' chorus hit with the sharp cheddar that will make you cringe enough to turn the volume down though the guitars will make you want those decibels to rise. Some bands just have a tougher time getting away with their cringy moments, but what comes after this song deeply cuts into one's personal sense of shame and drags it out for all the world to see. The guiding riff in “Vegas Girl” has a bit of Pantera's “Walk” flair while playing a fist-pumping NWOBHM sort of song that would give Jezz Torrent and Love Fist a run for their money. In spite of its catchiness, “Vegas Girl” is a song that I'll continuously skip due to the cringe of the vocal delivery where every line comes out as though the vocalist is just yelling 'one, two, three, four, five' over and over. This weird wedgie of down-home heavy metal nestled between two thick sets of bouncing grooves greatly changes the pace and mood of this album as the title track drips with more melty mozzarella in its by-the-numbers hard rock delivery. It's funny how the songs that Decatur chooses to lead with are so out of the general element of this album. Of ten tracks, three are of this oldschool ilk and though they're not as satisfying as the majority of the album, they do stick out like the sore thumbs they are.

Though the band broadens its approach in those seemingly ill-fitting songs, most of this album takes influence from modern groove, metalcore, and thrash sounds in songs like “Worst Enemy”, “Bottled Inside”, “Abaddon”, and “Shatterproof” which kick with a taste of Lamb of God while searching for the right amount of aggression to shake out their grooves. A lick in “Abbadon” will remind you just how ready the twin axe treatment is to split its force and strike from separate directions while rumbling rhythms with small cymbal clinks throughout “Shatterproof” tone back the aggression of “Blood of the Scribe” as they continuously maintain the kit's vicious punch. Even though the break-beat throughout most of “Bottled Inside” comes across as par for the course, the soloing at the end gives the song its memorable moment.

That is a common aspect of 'Badder Than Brooklyn'. The album, for the most part, isn't all that much to write home about but each song has a moment, a standout few seconds that will perk your ears up and make the time worth your while. In “Tear You” it comes at the beginning with a gripping riff before falling to the atonality of anger while “Worst Enemy” ramps up a rolling momentum. Most proficiently done is the instrumental closer, “Internal War pt. 2” where there is not a second wasted or note out of place. When it comes down to it, the vocals just aren't helping to hold down this band's sound throughout the majority of this album with drawn-out choruses that repeat clichéd phrases like 'cross my heart' in a voice that is singing but gravely and not very aggressive but still trying to grab you and rattle you around. The vocals and songwriting definitely do need work and some of the great ideas throughout this album can effectively be expanded on while eschewing some of the less original surplusage.

Decatur's 'Badder Than Brooklyn' is an unusual and somewhat disjointed album on your first listen. Mixing your average heavy metal sound with a thick layer of cheese in the title track, and sprinkling that throughout the first part of the album, stands in stark contrast to the more aggressive groove metal that makes up the majority of this release. In spite of these disparate and disorienting moments, the overall ability of these musicians and their self-awareness to put a spotlight on the hints of greatness they reach in each song that proficiently pull this album together without leaving the listener too far out in the cold. There is plenty of room for improvement but there is also an unmistakable potential here that, with some introspection, can result in a great sophomore album. For now, 'Badder than Brooklyn' stands as a solid beginning. (Five_Nails)

Hornwood Fell - My Body, My Time

FOR FANS OF: Post Black Avantgarde
'My Body, My Time' is the third effort from the Italian black metal band Hornwood Fell and it is, indeed, a very surprising record. From the artwork itself, the whole release becomes interesting, but the music and the compositions make it a solid record that creates a unique sound. Hornwood Fell started as a black metal band with its roots nailed deep in the Norwegian black metal movement of the early 90's, evoking bands such as Ulver, Burzum, Satyricon and even Darkthrone, that style was captured in a fantastic way in their first record. But now things have changed, and they changed for good.

When I listened to the album for the first time, I was very surprised by the fact that there are no harsh vocals or grim screams in the record, it is a risky step for a black metal band, but their choice works. It seems that the band found a new way to express their ideas, keeping true to their art and genre. It is possible to understand this evolution listening to their previous album 'Yheri' and more specifically to the final song of the record, “Them”, which is a progressive and technical song starring clean vocals only, it is a fine piece of work, very enjoyable, and now the whole new album is like that.

With their third record, Hornwood Fell bet on a new path in their music, this one takes a more post-black metal sound than a progressive one, but is still aggressive and raw. In general, 'My Body, My Time' has a great production and it is superbly mixed, especially the bass guitar, which is in the middle of everything, can be heard and followed in every moment and on each song. I love the way the drums sound, it is dense and powerful. At times the vocal performance is brilliant and melancholic, but in a few moments, the music demands more aggressiveness. Take “The returned” for example, the first song of the album: it is dark and gloomy yet fast and hostile, the vocals, at first, are a perfect element mixed with the music, but at the end of the same song, you get a potent guitar riff and a blasting drum performance which call for a horrifying scream to get the whole idea, but it never comes. Nevertheless, when you get used to the vocals, it is possible to enjoy the music and to understand their new approach, and if you ask me, I can say that it is original and risked.

The highlight of the album is the music structure and the compositions; every song has its own ideas and elaborated variations, although the first songs start as a typical black metal song: with furious tremolos and blast-beat drumming. This time the drums shine as a complex element ever-changing. The strings work is delightful; the melodic passages are psychedelic and heartrending.

“The Livid Body” is a terrific anthem that involves every aspect of the new sound with elegance and superiority; it starts with a psychedelic violent riff inducing madness and distress, after a while it gets more speed just to make way to the clean vocals and a change of pace, drowning the thoughts into desperation. After that, a more optimistic riff brakes in, but it is brief and ethereal, unforgiving the song keeps changing and the vocals are declaiming more than singing, creating a dark atmosphere. Finally, clean guitars surprise our ears and a post-rock melody ends the agony.

But, by far, the best song on 'My Body, My Time' is the last song, “Hidden Land”: it sounds like a black metal song, it has a post-black metal structure, technical guitars and a brutal drum line. Furthermore, it transmits its mood and ambience with perfection, crafting the new style of the band. Here in particular, the vocals are really fitting, mournful chants set an epic feeling at the beginning, then they evolve to a Bathory Quorthon’s style. The ambience is the key in this song, and even the music sounds purple — in a figurative way —, representing the artwork. It ends abruptly enough to make you want to listen to it again.

'My Body, My Time' is a solid and interesting record, one you would likely listen over and over again and you would keep finding new riffs to enjoy, definitely a record that will stay with you. Nevertheless is not perfect, a really good album, but the lack of harsh vocals and typical black metal screams could be disappointing for some listeners, besides that, at times the vocal effort sounds like a more hardcore style or a post-metal vocal style, which steals strength to the final result, this would have been something totally different with the proper black metal screams, but the band is exploring new horizons. (Franco "Morgoth" Galeana)

mercoledì 15 novembre 2017

Stillborn Slave – 7 Ways to Die

#PER CHI AMA: Thrash/Metalcore, Hatebreed
I francesi Stillborn Slave si sono ripresentati ai fan del metal estremo globale con un'ottima release, ormai datata settembre 2016, mostrando molta più determinazione rispetto alla precedente uscita, esibendo i muscoli e la volontà di dirottare o meglio fondere riff thrash con il metalcore più ferreo. Il sound è potente e carico di adrenalina. Velocità e tecnica d'esecuzione sono di casa e tutto fila liscio fino alla fine del disco. La voce gutturale di Kronar sradica montagne mentre le chitarre spianano la strada demolendo tutto con riff macina sassi; il suono è avvolgente e straripante energia, c'è molto del metal moderno in questo disco e i paragoni trovati in rete, che associano i nostri a Suicide Silence, At the Gates, In Flames e Hatebreed, non calzano poi così male, per una sorta di Sepultura in chiave metalcore. La cosa che risalta di più in questo disco è l'enorme equilibrio che esiste tra melodia e potenza, cosa che in tutti i brani è perfettamente distribuita e che un'ottima produzione mette giustamente in risalto. Una buona dose di potenza con un'importante visione melodica e un gusto per l'orecchiabilità del brano, pur rimanendo in ambito di musica estrema, fanno di questo album, i punti di forza per renderne l'ascolto convincente ed attraente, anche se bisogna riconoscere che in ambito di originalità la band paga spesso pegno a nomi più blasonati. Questo non toglie assolutamente la qualità del prodotto, brani come "Fiends" o "Fallen Empire" (song peraltro spettacolare!) sono da incorniciare, oltre ad essere un bel regalo fatto attraverso Bandcamp ai fan dalla band di Brive la Gaillarde, dove possono ascoltarlo e scaricarlo interamente gratis. Un box di canzoni piene di adrenalina, istanti violenti e velocissimi ("The End of Everything") per un cofanetto tutto da gustare, composto con perizia, passione e competenza da un ensemble che ha tutte le carte in regola per trovare la via giusta e fare la differenza in un genere molto inflazionato e pieno di cloni. Felicità assicurata per i cultori del genere. (Bob Stoner)

domenica 12 novembre 2017

Crushing Axes - Trail of Blood

#FOR FANS OF: Death/Thrash, Slayer
Crushing Axes is no stranger to death metal. Having released thirteen full-length albums in nine years, along with a pair of EPs, Alexandre Rodrigues shows an incredible zeal and tenacity for his prolific project. Though 'Trail of Blood' is this reviewer's first foray into such a sizable discography, the primitive pounding death metal from this Brazilian bedroom band doesn't fail to intrigue. Compared to the first glances at a slow Slayer inspired opening to his other 2017 full-length, 'Back to North', in “Invasion” or to the even more lethargic and timid start of the 2014 album 'Undead Warrior', 'Trail of Blood' sets itself up to be a far more pummeling and intense addition to this ambitious catalogue.

Rodrigues starts off this latest album with an old thrash axiom, when in doubt fill it with more notes. This principle makes “God Says Hate” absolutely beat the listener bloody with cleanly audible and palpable drumming that serves as a barbarous compliment to the quintessentially thrashing guitars. Ripping and tearing from riffing to speedy transitions and drowning the distortion in snapping wrists of quick picks, the notation of “South American Prison” and “Below Salt” truly lend credence to the band's name.

'Trail of Blood' can be summed up in its very crunchy riffs, like chewing a salad of sea glass. As is common in this more thrash influenced classic death metal approach, basic beating gives way to long drawn out groovy riffing without sacrificing the vengeful intensity of the instruments. Solos are used sparingly through the opening half of this album. Rodrigues instead chooses to thicken the atmosphere with lots of sawing guitars that chug and shake to the thrash standard while embracing the brutal atonality in the death metal standard. This comes across well when “Trial by Combat” opens an untouched vein with a traditional guitar before a shrill sound like one of the many screaming goats gracing YouTube. The song then falls into the slow and savage waltz that ends up flowing through to its follow-up, “Burn Everyone”, where small elaborations on higher-pitched tones help to claw out of the maw. These songs show how cohesive and consistent Crushing Axes is throughout this album with a smooth flow and great pacing. At the same time, the majority of this release can get a bit too consistent to really step into greatness as 'Trail of Blood' runs at too steady a step. The album effortlessly flows, but rarely deviates from its prescribed pace.

The three big stand-outs on this album feature guest vocalists and a fierce energy. First comes “In the Path of Death” which features Jairo, whose growling vocals compliment the more Morbid Angel style of this song with drawn out and regurgitating harsh yells that are not too far from those of Rodrigues in the majority of the release. The title track's guest, Glauber, brings a vocal of faster thrashy yelling, some distancing and echoing effects, and sounds straight out of a metalcore band, especially in comparison to Luiz in “Commotio Cordis”. These songs easily stand out on paper and more so when compared to the very basic ending of this album. Through the energy of “In the Path of Death”, the unusual distortion in the solo in “Trail of Blood”, and the commotion of “Commotio Cordis”, there is a good flavor of fresh personalities in these three songs that help the flow of this album and get the music to take a step out of its single-minded confines. The deviation from form works very well to personalize each song and serve as a tight knot to tie together an album which, for the most part, hangs as a straight and unbroken rope.

'Trail of Blood' is a solid album from a clearly experienced and dedicated musician. However, this album suffers from a common complacency found in many bedroom bands and may be the result of Rodrigues demanding too much of himself. Through fifteen releases in less than a decade, Crushing Axes' mastermind shows himself as a tenacious and talented trooper who stands firm without getting discouraged. Still, with simplicity as a stylistic choice, this album does get flat, as in the deliveries of “Deathcult” and “The Spoilers of War”. Though the cradle rocks well enough, the plain path of this all-too-clean production breaks from the bassier proclivities desired in down and dirty death metal. Rodrigues has a great handle on his instruments but he seems to be picking at an ever emptying pit. Though he may not have found his biggest nugget of gold yet, Alexandre Rodrigues is undeterred. Yet he might shine best in continued collaboration where he can show his strengths while tapping further veins of potential through uniting talents. (Five_Nails)

Dusius - Memory of a Man

#FOR FANS OF: Viking/Folk, Ensiferum
Dusius is an Italian band formed in 2010 which has finally released its debut album, 'Memory of a Man'. This project was conceived by Rocco Tridici, with the aim of sharing his love for viking and folk metal. Progressively, the band´s line up was completed with the inclusion of some fellow musicians, who immediately started to write new songs. Three years later, the band released its first demo entitled 'Slainte', whose three tracks are included in this debut. Only one year later, the line-up was finally completed with the arrival of Davide, who plays several instruments like bagpipes, flute and hurdy gurdy. This was obviously an important boost to reinforce the folk essence of the band´s compositions. As it usually happens with underground bands, it tooks some time to complete their first length. Thankfully and after three years of hard work, the Italian act has finally released their debut, 'Memory of a Man'.

Although the music of Dusius is obviously influenced by bands like Ensiferum, Korpiklaani and even Alestorm sometimes, the Italian band tries to create songs which have their distinctive touch. One of the most important elements to achieve this aim is the different vocals used through the album. Dusius combines in a quite natural way growls, black metal-esque vocals with some clean ones. Even though the growls sound quite forced at times, they create an interesting contrast with the more “blackish” screamings, making the songs sound more powerful and varied. The clean voices are not so often used, but I think they are quite good, fitting very well in the calmer tracks. Another good point of this album is the guitar lines, far from being monotonous and plain, they sound quite diverse and catchy. Tracks like “One More Pain” contain very good riffs and melodies which make the songs pretty interesting. Moreover, Fab makes a good job with the drumming, which sounds robust and consistent. I especially like his style when he introduces some blast-beats, which is something refreshing in a folk metal band, mainly because many bands sound too linear and quite predictable. Folk instruments and keys play obviously an important role alongside of nice acoustic guitars' section. “Dead End Cave” contains some very nice melodies which show the potential of Dusius in creating good folk oriented compositions. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if these guys increase the presence of both the keys and the flute in their future releases. In any case, it would be very important to maintain the balance between the most atmospheric and folk parts and the heaviest sections. This is the true key to create a truly memorable folk metal album.

The release has a good production and a pretty decent sound considering this is a debut album. Nevertheless, the keys and folk elements might sound a little bit louder, as there are a few moments slightly buried in the mix, mainly when they are played alongside of guitars and drums. Not a big complain, but it could be something to improve in next releases.

In conclusion, Dusius has released a pretty enjoyable debut. 'Memory of a Man' is not by any means something original or groundbreaking, but the songs have enough variety, dynamism and good melodies to grab the attention of fans until its conclusion. In my opinion, this is something remarkable when you play in such a saturated scene. There is still room to improve, but this album should appeal to those who enjoy a well-balanced folk metal album with catchy melodies. (Alain González Artola)

(Extreme Metal Music - 2017)
Score: 70

https://www.facebook.com/viking.metal.dusius

God Syndrome - Controversy

#PER CHI AMA: Melo Death/Thrash, Hour of Penance
I God Syndrome sono attivi dal lontano 2011 e dopo un EP nel 2014, si ripresentano al grande pubblico (nel 2016) con un full length, 'Controversy', a dir poco sbalorditivo per coerenza, dinamismo e peculiare ricerca sonora. Il campo di battaglia non è nuovo ed è il death metal, a volte con tendenze più melodiche, a volte più orientato al thrash, a volte più incendiari (come accade in "Clan"). La tecnica la fa da padrona con quel suono lisergico che trasuda Hour of Penance e Bloodbath da tutti i pori, rivisti però con una passione più incline ai Malevolent Creation ed anche una nera visione alla Immolation non guasta nel descrivere la loro musica. Comunque le band citate rimangono punti di riferimento che lasciano il tempo che trovano, visto che 'Controversy' è un album che vive di luce propria, maestoso e potente, devoto alla causa e portatore di sani geni acquisiti dal metal più estremo. Una produzione egregia ed una copertina degna di una band d'alto rango, completano il resto. Aggressivo nelle violente vocals gutturali, frenetico e melodico al tempo stesso, elettrizzante in ogni sua parte, il lavoro della band di Samara è heavy e metal fino al midollo. Il suono vira sempre verso soluzioni molto moderne, fresche, cariche, complesse ma accessibili, con ricami chitarristici di tutto rispetto e ottimi risultati sonori per veri estimatori del genere. Le casse del mio stereo tremano e le mie orecchie godono di fronte ad una song come "Five Acts of Deception", devastante ed epica. La corsa continua, velocità, rabbia e perizia tecnica ("The Last Option" è peraltro splendida) si mettono al servizio del buon ascolto senza perdersi mai in virtuosismi insensati. La band russa sfodera dal suo cilindro magico una gemma di rara bellezza e brutale intensità, una scarica di adrenalina pura, per un'oretta di piacevole violenza sonora, tecnicamente perfetta. Ascolto consigliato in attesa di un nuovo album. (Bob Stoner)

sabato 11 novembre 2017

Gunash - Great Expectations

#PER CHI AMA: Alternative/Grunge
I Gunash nascono in Piemonte nel 2003 da un’idea del cantante e chitarrista Ivano L. Zorgniotti e del batterista Danilo Abaldo, la line-up si completerà poi nel corso del tempo. Gunash è un gioco di parole tra Ganesh (la divinità indiana con la testa d’ elefante), Gunas (le quattro fasi della materia in trasformazione dell’alchimia indiana) e le parole inglesi Gun (pistola) e Ash (cenere). Una contrapposizione importante tra religione e materialismo, due estremi che rappresentano il dualismo insito nella vita ma anche nella band piemontese. La discografia della band include il loro album di debutto alla fine del 2005 e pubblicato dalla New LM Records e 'Same Old Nightmare', un concept album uscito nel 2012 con la partecipazione di Rami Jaffee, tastierista che milita tra gli altri in Foo Fighters e nei The Wallflowers. Questo terzo album 'Great Expectations' è stato prodotto dalla GoDown Records proprio con Rami Jaffee come produttore (peraltro anche tastierista nella release), quindi un po' di hype è d'obbligo. Il sound dei Gunash è tosto, un mix tra grunge ed alternative rock come quello che si riscontra in "Need to Bleed", song che colpisce per la timbrica vocale che vagamente ricorda gli Offspring e la parte strumentale in stile Seattle anni '90. Roccia dura e polverosa, come il suo riff di chitarra, mentre la sezione ritmica accompagna gli stacchi solisti del vocalist per dare enfasi ai vari stop & go che spingono il brano verso un headbanging da rocker stagionato. La title track addolcisce i toni e ci regala una ballata rock coinvolgente, fatta di chitarre acustiche che s'intrecciano in modo armonioso, cori e assoli lisergici. A conferma che il grande rock non è solo ritmi serrati e riff distorti, ma anche un brano strumentale che si adatta ai vari stati d'animo di chi ascolta e assapora il momento. Dopo l'energia e l'autocontemplazione, arriva il momento più malinconico e rabbioso, ovvero "Mean", brano dal testo graffiante e beffardo, dove la band dà prova della sua bravura nella scrittura dei brani. I Gunash infatti riescono sempre ad unire melodia ed energia senza cadere mai nella banalità, grazie ad arrangiamenti e scelte stilistiche che partono dalle loro influenze, ma che sanno reinterpretare in maniera convincente.Un brano lungo, dinamico, che progredisce solido e vibrante verso la meta. Nota particolare va a "Gunash Blues", un traccia strumentale dal sapore mediorientale, dove sitar e percussioni etniche ci trasportano a miglia di distanza in luoghi carichi di storia e cultura. Nel corso del brano si aggiunge la sezione elettrica per una perfetta fusione tra tradizione e modernità. Una perla strumentale che travolge con il suo flusso melodico che scorre nelle vene come ritrovasse un antico sentiero tracciato nella notte dei tempi. Un album notevole, maturo e dal respiro internazionale, non solo per la produzione e la collaborazione citata in precedenza, piuttosto per lo spessore artistico della band e la loro convinzione nel voler fare musica di qualità. (Michele Montanari)

(GoDown Records - 2017)
Voto: 85

https://www.facebook.com/gunashband/

giovedì 9 novembre 2017

Hourswill – Harm Full Embrace

#PER CHI AMA: Heavy Progressive, Morgana Lefay, King Diamond
Sempre dal Portogallo ecco un'altra release targata Ethereal Sound Works: si tratta degli Hourswill, che tornano a distanza di tre anni dal loro debut album, 'Inevitable'. La proposta di questo nuovo 'Harm Full Embrace' si conferma orientata verso un heavy progressive che si rende debitore ai Nevermore di Warrel Dane e soci. È infatti da subito chiaro il riferimento al vocalist dell'ensemble statunitense con la opener "Children of the Void", una song sicuramente articolata che però manca di una certa fluidità musicale che risulta palese durante l'ascolto. Nulla da eccepire sulle qualità tecniche del quintetto di Lisbona, forte peraltro del recente ingresso di Leonel Silva alla voce, che oltre emulare il già citato Warrel Dane, ad un certo punto sembra imitare lo stile canoro di Serj Tankian, in una song che mette in luce anche una buona sezione solistica e diversi cambi di tempo ed atmosfera. Le cose tendono a migliorare con la seconda "Blinding Light", anche se il sound continua a puzzare di vecchio, visto che mi viene a ripensare a 'Maleficium' dei Morgana Lefay, ecco non certo un album dell'ultima ora, ma che ci riporta indietro nel tempo di ben 21 anni! Quello che voglio dire è che la proposta degli Hourswill non è malvagia, anzi è ben curata nei dettagli e nella tecnica, però siamo nel 2017 e un qualcosa di simile me lo aspettavo piuttosto negli anni '90, oggi suona tutto come tremendamente già sentito e non adeguatamente modernizzato. Non mancano ovviamente episodi più interessanti: "Liberty Theory" ad esempio è una song più aggressiva, con una bella linea di chitarre, un buon chorus, ma soprattutto con un feeling (e dei vocalizzi) che richiamano quelli di King Diamond. Ultima segnalazione per "Everyday Sage", una lunga suite di oltre nove minuti, dotata di uno splendido arpeggio iniziale che mette in risalto le origini lusitane della band e che poi evolve in un bel pezzone di musica heavy con le palle. Insomma 'Harm Full Embrace' è un album discreto che pone le basi per un lavoro più sopraffino e ricercato per album futuri. (Francesco Scarci)

(Ethereal Sound Works - 2017)
Voto: 65

https://www.facebook.com/Hourswil

lunedì 6 novembre 2017

Terrifier - Weapons of Thrash Destruction

#FOR FANS OF: Thrash metal, Exodus, Nuclear Assault
When people talk about Canadian thrash metal what comes immediately into my mind are the works of Razor, Exciter (yes, I consider their work during 1983 thrash though they are labeled as speed metal), Slaughter, Annihilator, and Voivod. Who wouldn't remember such killer records as 'Evil Invaders', 'Heavy Metal Maniac', 'Strappado', 'Alice in Hell' and 'War and Pain'? Those who are fond of collecting old relics from the glory days of thrash can back up the next words that I am going to utter. Those Canadian metal acts mentioned above can throw down as hard as those bands coming from the Bay Area and Germany. The record that I am going to review is the work of Terrifier, and I can most certainly say that this offering must be added to that list of highly recommended Canadian thrash releases.

Terrifier is a British Columbia-based thrash metal quintet that was formed in 2003 as Skull Hammer. The band changed its name in June of 2012 after releasing a full-length album way back in 2011. 'Weapons of Thrash Destruction' is the band's sophomore studio record after the debut of 'Destroyers of the Faith' in 2012 while carrying the name Terrifier. What 'Weapons of Thrash Destruction' brings to the table is 42 minutes of fierce and unrestrained thrash music. With electrifying and bellicose tracks such as "Reanimator", "Nuclear Demolisher", "Violent Reprisal", "Drunk as Fuck", "Bestial Tyranny" and "Sect of the Serpent", the band doesn't fall short in supplying blatantly aggressive guitar riffs, kick-ass solos, supersonic drumming, and superb vocals.

The band has prospered in handing its listeners very good metal tunes which are pleasantly reminiscent of an earlier time when groups like Exodus, Overkill, Nuclear Assault and Testament were furnishing a tasty extreme metal blowout for headbangers around the globe. The ingenious and hasty guitar riffs present in this album will make the listeners go insane while headbanging to the material. Both Brent Gallant and Rene Wilkinson show splendid skills behind the axes that they are handling and the solos are well executed. They totally supplied their audiences with a bombardment of top-grade guitar shredding in here. In fact, even some of the tracks that do not stand out appear more fun to listen to because of those awesome solos.

I would also like to mention how well the bassist did in this release. Listeners to this offering can totally feel Alexander Giles' presence and there are moments where his bass playing really stands out. The drum work, though not that one of a kind, contributed as a solid mantle to the overall music that the band was able to engineer. Kyle Sheppard had dispensed a sufficient amount of diversity behind the kit that amplified the profundity and punch of Terrifier's already exuberant resonance.

Chase Thibodeau's vocals are also adequate, and his technique suits the songs in the record very well. Chase's higher pitched shrieks are the clear zenith of his performance in this opus. Of course, the production has also met the highest standard of accuracy in this release. I usually prefer a more raw production when it comes to thrash albums as it gives a more hostile feel to the whole product, but I certainly can make an exemption for substantial records like this one.

This offering may not be an inventive or advanced thrash metal piece, but it's still a terrific release for a group that takes its listeners for a ride down memory lane with this supersonic and turbocharged thrash metal music. Fans of old-school, state-of-the-art, speed metal and 80's thrash will definitely dig this masterpiece. (Felix Sale)