Saturday, 30 April 2016

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Check 'Em Before You Wreck 'Em (2014) / 85%

I like big butts and I can not lie

This English trio possibly has the best band name to ever exist. I dig their fringe historical reference to this British navy officer who died in a shipwreck in 1705 (thanks Wikipedia) and I must say that I was already sold just by looking at their name, album cover (in this case, their solid debut album) and the overall aesthetics of those three vintage weirdos lead by Johnny Gorilla. It turns out their music just freaking rocks so it’s a win-win situation.

One of the main components of their music is how it’s so effortlessly fun and trashy (note: not "thrashy") it is. Their blend of hard hitting psychedelic hard rock, heavy metal and some doomy stoner influences truly hits the spot. Their riffs and bass lines are groovier than Austin Powers on a new brand of extremely potent acid. I’m in constant grin mode while listening to the ten songs of this record, it’s irreverent, puerile and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The ode to curvy women “The Thicker The Better” is a good example of their approach. Like many bands evolving in the vintage metal/rock revival (a movement now out of breathe), they don’t lack balls. I mean as they’re probably busy playing with theirs and those of their mates all day long, They really know how to integrate this abstract element to their sound. Their balls are cleaner this time around though, the production isn’t as raw as on their debut but the bluesy goodness is still quite present. There’s no tricks, there’s only one guitar and no extra tracks added, the playing is flashy yet totally unrefined (in a good way), I like how sometimes it just goes into jam territories and the soloing and riffs just can’t stop bludgeoning you. I'd like some more extended numbers where they'd go completely insane though

It’s so sleazy that Lemmy’s corpse would probably nod and drink another whiskey to celebrate. Gorilla is definitely inspired by the late singer in the way he sings but he’s still cleaner and the compositions of the Admiral are more varied than most of what Motorhead ever did (excluding the excellent 1916). He alternates between lead guitar and vox well and there’s a good balance between all the elements and instruments. If you’re a power trio, you obviously need a strong rhythm section and Louis and Bill are solid as hell. The drums are loud and the bass is as thick as Siri, the mix is perfect and puts the emphasis on all the right things at all time.

They’re not simply rehashing the good old days of Cream and Hendrix even if it sounds vintage. I was able to distinguish some elements that made them a modern band that just enjoys playing
their music like it’s 1972 while hanging out with Budgie and Sir Lord Baltimore (do I sense an inspiration for their name here?). It’s mostly in the riffs and the heaviness but you can tell they’re from our era even if they wear bell bottoms! I also feel they're combining the 60s and the 70s together to create this sort of proto-metal feel and that's highly enjoyable.

From the slow psych solo-heavy final of the eight minutes epic “Captain Merryweather” to the urgency of tracks like “Don’t Hear it… Fear it” (the name of their debut album…), it’s simply an awesome timeless record who could please both the young and the old rockers. They’re currently working on their third album and I’m sure it will be hard and heavy. I’ve seen their more famous friends of Uncle Acid and the Deabeats live but I’d like to experience these guy now!

Unlike the real Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel, I hope those three guys survive the tumultuous seas of rock & roll and make it to North America one day.

To be played as loud as possible on an old ass system!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Metal Bounty Hunter: Volume 4

I'm back with 4 fresh bounties to deliver, there's two speed metal bands from Germany, one doom/stoner band from Finland and a progressive metal about cats from the US! None of those guys are robots...

Tailgater – Rehearsal Demo (2015) / 75%
Independant: Bandcamp

Raw pure german steel
There’s some things in rehearsal demos by heavy metal bands that you just can’t find in well produced albums, it’s primal, raw and you can’t hide your faults with the help of modern technologies and some studio magic. That’s what I liked in the two releases of Finland’s Legionnaire and that’s what I liked in the debut of Tailgater. The five songs are fast and fun affairs preaching the bibles of Priest and Maiden. Fast twin guitar melodies, high pitched & fist raising choruses and thunderous drums, it’s a super legit demo full of well placed nostalgia. Songs like "Messenger of Emptyness" possess this sense of epicness that's hard to achieve.

Sure, the live rehearsal feel won’t please everyone since its recording quality is lacking but Tailgater is a cool discovery and they’re a band with a lot of potential even though they’re obviously not reinventing the wheel nor trying to do so.

Tombstoned – II (2016) / 80%
Svart Records

Tony is reviewing Finn doom again
The sophomore full length from the Helsinki trio is quite interesting. Their doom/stoner blend is tighter than on their self titled effort and there’s some great influences thrown here as well. Outside of the obvious psychedelic background (just look at the artwork), there’s sort of a deathrock/goth influence, especially in Jussi’s clean, mournful powerful vocals. The way the vocals were recorded and their presence at the forefront of the production is perhaps the thing I liked the most about II, the lyrics are easily understandable and it’s a good way to differentiate yourself from the countless 
Electric Wizard wannabes who hide the fact they can’t sing for shit under a ton of unnecessary (or in their case, maybe it’s necessary) reverb. Don’t worry though, the bass is still thunderous and the guitar tone is savage enough to compete in the best league the genre has.

The album almost reminds me of Sister, the masterpiece of the now deceased In Solitude in its ability to mix its core sound (in this case doom) with estranged elements to create a potent and groovy formula. I wasn’t expecting anything fantastic with this album but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it is. It’s far from generic but still has enough familiar elements to please most fans of the genre(s).

The Cosmic Kitten Project – The Kitten Galaxy (2016)  / 73%
Independant: Bandcamp

Catnip flavoured progressive metal

I’m not sure if these guys are trolling or not but they actually wrote a four page story about space cats (or space kitten) and their “kittendom” or whatever, and it’s as infantile as doing a concept album about My Little Pony (check out Glacier Frost if you want to have some fun or cry). Anyway, even though it’s this peculiar element that lead me to review their first extended play, they’re not bad at all. I must say that I’m happy that they’re instrumental and that there’s no lyrics about space cats, I’m fine with Slough Feg’s Traveller as far as silly sci fi concept albums are concerned, thank you very much. John Petrucci and his dystopia concept album/musical comedy where “music is outlawed” and there’s a “chosen one” can go fuck himself.

Musically it’s fine, their progressive metal hits the spot without relying on djent modernism and masturbatory shredding. There’s a lot of keyboards and programming but the guitars are atmospheric and the riffing is decent. The compositions are well done and they offer a wide variety of moods and tempos throughout the three songs. Even if their concept is ridiculous, they’re good musicians who possess enough musical knowledge to craft intricate spacey prog metal numbers.

Septagon – Deadhead Syndicate (2016)  / 83%
Cruz del Sur Music

Efficient & clean speed

When I discovered that Markus Becker, the singer of Atlantean Kodex (one of my favorite current bands) also used his pipes in this band, I had to check it out. Compared to the classy epic doom/heavy metal of his other band, Septagon (awesome name) plays an awesome mix of speed metal, some power and heavy metal and sprinkles of thrash. His clean voice fits the distinctive style like a glove and he’s not overused, he’s such a great singer and he’s showcasing all his versatility with this record.

It’s technical with lots of expertly played guitar solos with a semi neoclassical vibe, it’s also intense as hell but knows when to slow things down and give us the time to catch our breath (listen to “Henchman of Darkness”). The songs are loaded with stuff, the four songs ranging to five to six minutes give us a lot of ideas to chew on.

Like many thrash bands, they took the social issue approach for their lyrics like the 1984 themed track “Unwanted Company”, they’re not too dissimilar from Anthrax (check out the last track “Secret Silver Panorama Machine” or Megadeth on that front.

The Temple – Forevermourn (2016) / 84%

Hellenic Metal Help Fund part IV : Doom 4 ever

Ah, doom metal, admittedly easy to play and compose if you want your band to be plain and dry but that’s not what these Greek dudes did, oh no. The quartet from Thessaloniki has been alive for a while but this is only their debut album. It took a long time for the band leader, Alex (bass, vocals, compositions), to find an appropriate lineup since like doom metal, life is not always an happy affair and sometimes many things can stop you from achieving your vision. I’m glad that in the end, nothing could stop Alex and his love for traditional doom. Let’s enter the temple in his company.

The seven songs of Forevermourn are mournful affairs but they’re far from being timid slow numbers full of despair. Tracks like “Remnants” are relatively mid-paced busy songs full of twin guitar melodies recalling the heydays of epic doom but The Temple is infusing this style with the depressive, emotional style of Warning or the current German doom of Cross Vault (that I personally thought to be underwhelming). Alex and company are also adding slight black metal touches to the fold in certain guitar moments and it’s well done. What differentiates the Greeks from some of their peers is the actual quality of their instrumentation, it’s heavy, never whiny and soul crushing.

Alex’s vocals are clean highs that fits his music very well. There’s loads of melancholy in the somewhat buried singing and while he’s not on the same level as Messiah Marcolin or Markus Becker (Atleantean Kodex), he gets the job done. I’d say that like the songs, he’s a bit samey and some diversity would had been better but there’s still not a lot of weaknesses in the songwriting. I’m not asking ‘em to add strings or whatever, this would be silly as they don’t try to be My Dying Bride, but some tempo variations could be cool. Nevertheless, the identity they developed on this debut album is clear, it’s dreamy but sad traditional doom metal.

Thick basslines, memorable melodies, sweet guitar leads, I don’t want to leave the temple, I’d mourn there forever.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Skyless Aeons - The Era of Famine (2016) / 80%

Satiated melodic extreme metal

The first extended play of this Canadian quartet from Ontario is quite impressive. The young men are playing a mix of many metal styles while showcasing their excellent musicianship pushed forward by a professional production.

There’s a rich diversity to Skyless Aeons’ music even though their material is cohesive and doesn’t feel the need to go into extra clean, girlfriend metal territories to get their point across. The four tracks (all between seven to eleven minutes) are progressive affairs without too much flush. The guitars of Nicholas Luck alternates between early 90s tremolos, a modern dissonant approach to black metal and an healthy dose of melancholic Nordic melodic death metal and he plays everything well.

Their sound is accessible (in metal terms, of course, this is still extreme metal) but not too polished. Nonetheless, t
hey could benefit from adding a second guitar to the band as their sound could become even more emotionally complex but still, Luck is everywhere and that’s not really a complaint. It would certainly help them to transfer their intensity to the live setting (I’m saying that but I’ve never seen them live so take that with a grain of salt). The short, well placed solos are also tasteful and I think this side of the band could be expanded.

The vocals of Nate Ferreira are very freaking good, rough and earthy, they’re piercing and striking. The deep death metal inspired growls are one of the highlights of this record. He almost reminds me of British legends Dani Filth (but not as obnoxious) or Dave Hunt (listen to the first part of the title track). Despite the quality of the singer, I do think he’s overly present in the compositions. They should let the songs breathe a bit more. Maybe Ferreira had too much to say? I liked his lyrics though, they’re mostly about we suck as a society and how the earth is doomed.

Watch as our culture crumbles to dust  The earth overpowers our greed and our lust 

They’re a solid instrumental band so it would be enjoyable to get more extended musical sections especially since they compose lengthy numbers. The short introduction of “Contrived Into Form” reminded me of The Gallery era of Dark Tranquillity and that’s certainly a good thing.

It’s a shame that they’re still unknown as they should be opening the tours of Insomnium and the likes, in fact they should probably tour with Be’lakor since the Australians definitely are one of their main inspirations. One of the best new Canadian bands, for sure. They shouldn’t have to show their buttholes to anyone to get some recognition, they’re talented and heir mix of influences feels relatively fresh. They have my full support.

Support the band by buying their album on Bandcamp.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Cauchemar - Chapelle ardente (2016) / 90%

Death Magnetic Doom

I've been following Cauchemar since their entry in the metal world with their excellent debut EP “La vierge noire” in 2010 and their first gig ever with Vulcain, Midnight in Inepsy at their traditional Montréal venue, the Katacombes. Luckily, their second full length effort shows that the quartet kept progressing for the better since their formation as it's a total doom tour de force.

While not intrinsically different from Tenebrario in the sense that it's the same music style, it's still heavy/doom metal, there's enough new elements to say that they're out of their comfort zone. The first really noticeable addition is the organ found in several songs (like the mesmerizing “Voyage au bout de la nuit”), it adds another layer of ancient paganaltaresque metal to their already olde sound. It's also more epic than before with some longer songs like the sublime closer “La nuit des âmes” or the ethereal “Funérailles célestes” and I think they should expand this side of their music a bit more. At least it brings an additional variety to their songwriting. Finally, the whole band is better as a whole, their songwriting has improved and the musicianship is at its best. The addition of Xavier Berthiaume on the drums is noticeable and I feel that Andrés Arango's bass playing is more special and audible here than it was on their previous effort. Frontqueen Annick Giroux's vocal range has also progressed a lot since their beginning, I feel she's using her voice in a more meaningful way on this album, she's using her strengths (deep female voice with a lot of personality and character) well and she really shines on the latest two tracks of Chapelle ardente. Their music is both tighter and more atmospheric than before and that's a good way to realize that they've progressed as a band.

Their blend of busy but relatively lo-fi traditional metal is definitely one of my favorite styles of music and you really can hear the love and care for their craft within the nine songs. That's a constant concept with Cauchemar and if you know Annick, you know it's a true statement. They breathe and eat heavy metal and you want to follow them into the abysmal nightmare.

One of the sole issues I had with the album is that it can be somewhat uneven, there's some little quality drops on certain tracks but nothing dramatic. It's also perhaps not as catchy as Tenebrario but that's not necessarily a bad thing... There's still catchy, fast tracks like “L'oiseau de feu” or “Main de gloire” but in general, it's a more subdued album.

Francois Patry is once again an absolute beast on the guitar, the dude is indeed tighter than Satan's butthole.
The tone is also perfect for this style of metal, it's not modern at all and recalls the sound proto metal bands were using with the speedy doom acrobatics of Pentagram. Nevertheless, my favorite moment remains the clean, acoustic overture of the aforementioned final offering “La nuit des âmes” (possibly their best track ever), it's the most subtle piece of music I've heard Cauchemar play and it's outstanding.

Overall, it's a very strong, straightforward, rich and enjoyable album. It's still a joy to hear well written occult French lyrics in my doom metal and I'll always be thankful to Annick for sticking to her guns.

Emmène moi dans ton monde car la nuit est longue
Emmène moi dans ton monde, ce soir je suis prête

This was one of my most awaited albums of 2016 and I'm far from disappointed, it's a great album and Cauchemar's best effort. It's fun to see a local band that you've been following for a while improve and evolve! I can't wait to see them live again, I've already heard some of the new tracks live when they played with the majestic Magic Circle back in January and I was already convinced by their new compositions. Long live the nightmare!