Saturday, 22 December 2018

Witching Hour - ...And Silent Grief Shadows the Passing Moon (2018) / 90%.



In the pale moon light! In the witching hour!



When I got this in my email from Hells Headbangers, I was expecting nasty black/thrash, something like Nifelheim, Desaster, Occult Burial or Bonehunter (from HHR as well) but no, I was surprised to hear what Witching Hour actually play. I’ve been familiar with the name for a while but that’s actually the first album from the German trio I check and it’s a banger.

What surprised me about this record is how smart it actually is. It’s really rare that a black/thrash band manages to be actually intelligent while retaining their primal destructive instinct. Witching Hour are like a barbarian who didn’t dump their intelligence stat. I think the latest non Vektor thrash band I’ve heard that wasn’t completely only into destroying corpses with their teeth musically was Norway’s Nekromantheon (definitely fucking due for a new record, by the way) and that’s saying something. I guess we could say that the shadow of Deceased isn’t far as well and Fowley’s mark is surely present in Jan Hirtz’s rough drawl.

Their approach is epic and long winded. The decision to start with a ten minute track was bold, especially considering that the first half is instrumental. It did create an interesting and worthwhile introduction to the album. It then continues with five packed tracks full of intricate thrash riffs not only content in delivering aggression but also focusing on delivering interesting time signatures without entering Mekong Delta German progressive thrash territories. Witching Hour also incorporates a large amount of heavy metal in there, it’s ancient occult metal and it made me think of Demontage, the unknown jewel from Toronto, in many ways. Drawn out songs full of incredible riffs combining melodic might with precision, wits and passion are what they offer on here.

They also offer some moments to breathe and gather your spirit such as the first moments of the superb closer “As I Walk Among Sepulchral Ruins” and its repetitive but atmospheric guitar introduction. I got nothing bad to say about this record, it gives me what I want in thrash metal in 2018, it’s not overly long, it delivers the riffs, it’s not fucking dumb and about pizza or “fun” and it remains evil while never becoming unnecessarily full of thicc nacho cheese.


Friday, 21 December 2018

Sadomagickal Seducer – Testicular Torture (2018) / 80%


Cum See Daddy


This had “magickal” in the name so I obviously had to review it. The fact that there’s a naked man being tortured on the cover was just the cherry on the sundae. Sadomagickal Seducer is yet another project by Comte Bergaby/Olivier B. Emond who’s known as Turbo Sodomizer here. He’s currently known for Shezmu, Palmistry, Complot, Pénombre, Hexeth or his new folk black project Moulin Banal. He’s quite a busy man. Unlike many underground metal musicians who have a boatload of projects, Emond finds the inspiration to make them sound all different and distinctive.

SS’s debut extended play is an intriguing mix of unhinged sexual tension. There’s a lot of things going on at the same time on those four dense tracks, all below the four minutes mark. There’s huge proto black/thrash/speed riffs à la Midnight mixed with some metallic punk lubricant not too dissimilar to what Satan’s Satyrs or Alucarda should sound like. The vocals are put through a wall of sexual moaning and lamentations, they’re rough and it sounds like there’s a maniac who’s being maniacally tortured by a bunch of horny Quebecois lumberjacks.

The special thing about the project is the huge layers of orgasmic keyboards all around the songs, it creates an atmosphere where a special orgy could happen. The EP ends on a lovely cheap church dirge and some sobbing just to make you feel uneasy. The project delivers enjoyable riffs with a peculiar ambiance and the room smell like a massage parlor once the release is done.

Bandcamp

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Mirror of Deception – The Estuary (2018) / 92%

Wurst Doom Ever I: Baden-Württemberg


2018 is a grand year for German traditional doom as it marks the album releases of three of the most important bands of that tiny but intriguing scene. I’m speaking of Angel of Damnation, Dawn of Winter and of course, the reason I’m sitting at my desk right now, the esteemed Mirror of Deception is back after a long break. Now, if only we could get a new Wheel full length…Oh, we also got the debut full length of Goat Explosion!

While I’m a big fan of traditional fan, I reckon that the genre can be interpreted as samey or even “easy” to play. “Just write some Black Sabbath riffs, dude”. Sure, ok, but no, it’s not that simple. The best doom bands are the ones who go beyond the usual requirements and create distinct identities and pocket dimensions of goodness. MoD doesn’t sound like anyone else, they truly have an idiosyncratic take on the genre. It’s weirdly atmospheric with intriguing vocal melodies and trippy but subtle guitar riffs. I feel there’s some hints of Gothic rock in there or maybe crumbs of atmospheric rock but that’s just me trying to find where the uniqueness of their sound comes from. Veteran doomster Michael Siffermann has this German precision in his vocals, he’s mournful but confident. Alongside fellow guitarist Jochen Fopp, he took his time during after they got back together in 2014 to craft interesting and strong compositions

Their process and approach reminds me of Revelation, perhaps the best American doom band of all time that never got their due. I feel the same ritual was done with Mirror of Deception, they spent countless hours in a dark chamber where old progressive rock was then fused the hell out of it with doom metal. What was left was a sorrowful potent blend of unique metal that’s challenging my understanding of what the genre should be or become. It’s not progressive per se, it just feels wonderfully odd and the choice of melodies is charmingly off putting. Their doom is both accessible and obscure, both catchy and obtuse… They’re a band of differences being thrown together.

Ultimately, trad doom is a genre relying on the strength of the riffs but the emotional weight of those involved is also quite important. Mirror of Deception handles both masterfully without being cheesy and overly into sadguy sadness like 40 Watt Sun.

Bandcamp


Lycanthro – Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (2018) / 75%


Strong heavy metal lads in development

The second extended play from those Ottawa metallers is a professional homage to a bunch of heavy metal masters but they’re also starting to get their own identity amongst a sea of NWOBHM worshipers.

James Delbridge, guitarist/singer and what I assume main songwriter is only twenty and that’s possibly why his influences are so apparent. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and 70s Rush are to my ears the most prevalent and I mean, those are some of the best bands ever. There’s a bunch of other things too like some thrash, power, speed or even progressive metal and symphonic elements in there and it creates an enjoyable mix of engrossing snacks. Delbridge is definitely a gifted vocalist and guitarist, he demonstrates that on all tracks.

Like modern Maiden, most tracks are on the long side and the album’s culmination is the fourteen minute epic “The Pale Rider” with its beautiful piano segment à la X Japan. They’re a good mix between emotions and strong musicianship and that’s something usually akin to the European sound (bands like Blind Guardian or Wuthering Heights come to mind.) The band still has to release a full length album but I’m confident they’ll do good, they nailed their production on this EP (that could had been a full length to be honest). They simply need to be a bit more original and distinctive to establish themselves as Ottawa’s premier modern heavy metal band. They have the potential to be more than a local opener for well known bands.


Bandcamp

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard - Y Proffwyd Dwyll (2016) / 85%




Carl's Sagan Deep Fried Burrito

“What a fucking stupid name” is quite possibly what almost everyone would say if I mention the subject of this review and I mean, I can’t blame them even if they’d be wrong. I see it more as a parody of those super boring “dank” weed themed stoner bands who are trying to write the next Dopesmoker while working night shifts at a suburban convenient store. That welsh band is much more than that and their second release that can be googletranslated to “The Proof of Fraud” or “the False Prophet” based on what MA says is an austral voyage to an unknown and probably better not to be discovered aural plane.

Compared to their debut album, they decided to extend the tracklist to six numbers instead of having one long half an hour song, it’s a wise decision since it’s a bit more listenable that way. MWWB are a hard band to classify, I think it could be summarized as “psychedelic doom metal” and we could call it a day...







Oh you’re still here? Sure, I’ll continue. Well, the first element that really came to my mind with that band is the dichotomy between the vocals of Jessica Ball and the immense riffs displayed by the two guitarists. Ball’s voice is soft, feminine and melodic while the guitars are thundering and massive. This is The Gathering - Mandylion era or SubRosa maximized with a lot of vitamins and protein powder, probably some Red Bull mixed Vodka too. It’s big and it’s like me after I drank too much energy drink and I’m crashing down, it’s quite slow, heavy and hypnotized.

The songs, all between six and ten minutes, are dense with otherworldly effects that are really wrapping the normal metal instrumentation in a special vibe. It’s like if you deep fry a meat lover burrito in duck fat, it’s a bit too much at times and it can overwhelm your senses but it’s consistently tasty. With their spacey prowess and their desire to be unequivocally uncompromising, I guess we could call them the doom metal Mithras.

All in All, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard are good at putting the doom/stoner tropes in the garbage, putting the garbage can on fire and throwing it into a star gate where it can come back with a symbiotic entity who’s actually chill as fuck and just likes to blaze it while watching old Carl Sagan documentaries.

Allfather - And All Will Be Desolation (2018) / 81%



My father is proud that I review metal


I was sold right away when I first heard of this British quintet. Their look, their political stance (anti nazism, antifascism etc) and their blistering sound were good selling points. The main aspect that really made me go bonkers is that fact that they’re basically what happened when you really slow down Nails. “Suum Cuique” from Abandon All Life made me cum buckets and I was salivating at a whole album of that stuff.

Allfather is indeed tough guy slowed down beatdown but they’re guys who want to beat down white supremacists and they support trans equality. The kind of tough guys I want to actually support, you know. Not thinly veiled right wing metalloids. Still, their lyrics are full of dark images and putrid realities. The Brits mix a lot of things in their sound, from American sludge to mid-era Entombed (think Morning Star) to modern doomy/crust. You know the genre that a lot of bands play nowadays, a scene where the hardcore and the metal divisions are really blurred. It’s not a bad approach at all.

Their songs are heavy dirges, sometimes slow, sometimes mid-paced but almost condensed and compact. The opener “Black Triangle” starts with a quasi ethnic guitar introduction before delivering the good and the eleven minute closer “Lampedusa” offers a Crowbar-ish vocal performance armed with an epic song structure full of snappy heavy riffs and an a prehistoric elephantine drumming. The riffs are varying in quality, sometimes it’s fucking incredible like on those previously mentioned opener and closer but the middle of the album is a tad weaker. That’s the q-tip method and it’s often used in music. I can’t blame them. All in all, it’s a pretty solid essay by those cool Englishmen and alongside Dawn Ray’d, they represent left wing metal in the UK. Full support.

Bandcamp

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Musta Risti - Musta Risti (2018) / 86%

NWOFHM #13 - Worship the Black Cross


Doom metal. Finland. Svart Records. I mean, I knew this was gonna be at least immensely solid. My guts were right. Musta Risti (black cross) was formed back in 2012 and it took them six years to unleash their debut album and while I’ve only discovered the band, I’m sure it was well worth the wait. Finland is a fertile land for doom of all horizons and the Lahti quintet is apt mixing some of those obscure sub genres together.

Vocalist Einari Toiviainen shines on that record. While I regret not speaking Finnish to understand the lyrics, he delivers them effortlessly and with conviction. He’s a strong vocalist with a traditional voice that could easily fit in heavy metal or hard rock bands. Musta Risti bangs hard and don’t waste any time. Seven songs, less than forty minutes, it’s short and condensed like a cute grandma baking pies from a rustic Scandinavian village. They remind me of a band like The Gates of Slumber with how varied they are. They alternate between groovy heavy/doom to psych trad doom and they do it well.

They’re mostly able to distance themselves from the omnipresent presence of Reverend Bizarre in current Finnish doom but the longest track “Kaaoksen lapset” (The Children of Chaos) evokes the masters. The presence of Minotauri isn’t far either. You know, the good influences. Musta Risti is a band with two guitarists and it’s evident. They use their lineup well and indulges in feelsy leads. The bass could be more present but sometimes it’s unleashed like on the closing track. I think the production could had been a bit thicker at times but overall, it fits the band. I’m stoked to see how the band will evolve. They have a lot of potential just like the Montreal Canadiens’ new rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Alongside Mansion or Deep River Acolytes, Musta Risti released one of the strongest doom albums from Suomi and proves that the scene still has a lot to offer.

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