Saturday, 3 October 2015

Metal Bounty Hunter: Volume One

Interesting metal bands presented with shorter reviews instead of my usual, more longwinded style. I'll try to cover a wide plethora of genres, this first volume includes death metal, stoner/doom, heavy/doom and sludge!

Obsolete Mankind – False Awakening (2015)
Explosive Montreal death metal

The first release of the Montreal band hits pretty damn hard. Composed of veteran musicians from many bands, Obsolete plays a vicious form of death metal that's highly uncompromising and is devoid of any flourishes and unnecessary details. There's no solos, no breakdowns, no progressive atmospheric breaks, it's hellishly fast and brutal for 35 minutes. The two guitars of Thiel (composer and ex-Neuraxis) and Dufour (leader of Phobocosm) are mechanical, aggressive and there's some of old school grind influences here (we're far from the current brutal death metal sound). The vocals of Marie-Hélène Landry are deep and will nail you on a cross. There's some variety in her vocals and I particularly liked the highest ones (listen to the start of “Distance”) and her socially inclined lyrics are quite interesting (three of the songs are in French as well!). While the compositions are top notch, there's a true lack of diversity here and it's hard to completely withstand the full thing in one sitting even if it's short. It's a decent debut but even bands like Immolation know how to diversify their music while keeping it dark and menacing.

Chu – XI (2014) Chuuuuuu chuuuuuuuuuu

From Kazakhstan, these five dudes play an atmospheric form of doom/stoner with a great balance between riffs and introspective moments. The short album (28 minutes) only has three songs including a 12 minutes opener but it's packed with content. While there's some vocals here and there, Chu is mostly an instrumental band with a shitload of solid riffing, soulful soloing (check out the solos on “Midgard” and some well placed ominous samples. The presence of two guitarists helps the band go into groovy details and the loud bass certainly fills any space that you could find in an instrumental band. Some moments reminded me of Americans Karma to Burn, it's just solid fun doom from a peculiar country. Now, if they could release a longer album, I'd be happy.

Chalice – Chalice (2014) Epic pilgrimage to Montpellier

Chalice, from Vermont, is a quite promising epic heavy/doom metal and their debut demo released last year needs more exposure. Lead by a woman named Hagthorn who's mixing medieval-esque clean vocals (listen to the wonderful “Gaudete”) with a more metallic, Manowar influenced delivery, Chalice are my exact cup (chalice?) of tea. The demo, basically a full length running length wise packs 2 very epic longer tracks as its second half with the wonderful “Merlin's Lament” being the longest at 11 minutes. The integration of medieveal elements in both their music and aesthetic was smooth and isn't cheesy like most European power metal about sword & sorcery. Influenced by the likes of Solstice (England) and pure 80s heavy metal, the quintet has solid compositions full of interesting progressions and tasteful twin guitar melodies. It's compelling epic metal with balls, power and some generous bass licks! I can't wait to see what's next for Chalice and hopefully they'll come visit Montreal soon since Montpellier is so near.

Slave Hands – Collapse (2015) Hell, sin and sludge 

The Helsinki based elusive trio (there's barely any information about 'em online) plays a violent blend of sludge/doom with some hardcore elements and it's totally nasty in the best way possible. Akin to the noisy Americans of Primitive Man, Slave Hands is all about downtuned guitars, slow mournful riffing full of misanthropy and venomous, spiteful vocals. Collape's six tracks are mostly midpaced, slow affairs but they never drag too much and it's a brief but dark recording. I was expecting a hardcore number with the 2 minutes “Modern Day Misanthrope” but it's still a thundering sludge song that will kick your ass into a coffin full of cajun food.The production is airy and lets all the hate flow through the thick guitars and the simple yet effective drumming. Recommended for fans of the genre(s). Like the sample in “Abysmal” says: “fuck the world”.
PWYC on Bandcamp

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