Saturday, 28 May 2016

Yautja – Songs of Descent (2014) / 96%

As powerful as Shea Weber's slapshot


This trio from Nashville is fucking insane. I've seen them live recently in Montréal when they toured with Magrudergrind and while I was familiar with this album beforehand, I really was flabbergasted with their stage presence. I've been spinning their debut full length since then and it's a marvelous tour de force full of turns and crossovers.

Their genre on the Archives doesn't come close to how vast their sound is but it's also difficult to pinpoint it effectively. Simply by looking at the three dudes, you could think that there's no cohesion to be found here but you'd be wrong. Their bassist was wearing an Aura Noir shirt and looked metal as fuck, their guitarist looked like he could play in Car Seat Headrest and their drummer would fit right at home at a Grateful Dead community worshiping acid. For some reason, the three dudes combined together simply works like a charm.

Sure, there's grind here but there's a lot of other stuff like mathcore, death metal, experimental and a big dose of sludge. It's almost like a southern appropriation of the US East Coast's hipsterism. In some ways, they're Tennessee's chaotic answer to Krallice or to early Mastodon, they have those odd rhythms while keeping the heaviness as an integral part of their identity. While there's an interesting variety of tempos, all of supreme quality, you never get lost with Yautja. They're taking you places that you wasn't quite sure were real. From the grind might of "Blinders" to the weird epic sludge of "Faith Resigned"(a song that sounds like Crowbar who suddenly became a forward thinking band), it's as a varied as you'll get for a grindcore band. They do feel like slowing things down quite often and it adds to the immense weight of the album, a song like "(Path to the Ground)" just messes around with a slow grind riff for ninety seconds but it doesn't affect the pace of Songs of Descent at all. The bass is thick and loud and the guitars are super interesting with the way it alternates between a super fast and crushing sound. Tyler Coburn has to be one of the best drummers I've ever seen live, the moustachioed gentleman is a beast on the kit. He's good at everything and also alternates between the blastbeats and a more traditional style. Supremely good musicianship.


Yautja is the name of the alien species in the Predator series and Nashville's NHL team is named... the Predators, not a coincidence! Like the invisible master hunter, the trio kills you with a combination of intelligence and pure aggression.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Demon Bitch – Hellfriends (2016) / 93%

Demon Bitch – Hellfriends (2016)
Skol Records


Filth Demon Bitch Boogie

If you've been following my reviews, you possibly know that I consider the sole Borrowed Time full length to be a modern classic and despite the premature end for the band, Detroit remains a great hotbed for American heavy metal. After a good demo and an even better extended play, Demon Bitch (great name, fuck you all, this is metal) has now unleashed their debut full length and it's no less than the best traditional metal album of 2016 (Dark Forest might be able to beat them but I doubt it).

This is miles better than bands like Enforcer and the likes because you can, without a hint of doubt, hear the immense passion for the style that these guys have but the most important point is that they're able to play the style without falling into the dire pit of overproduced modernity. I mean, it's not lo-fi but it's certainly somewhat raw for the style. I feel that the production job is exactly what they wanted and it fits their style perfectly, the balance between all the instruments has this classic metal approach and it's just how I think heavy metal should sound regardless of the decade we're in.

The blistering solos sound like a great magician playing lead guitar in an enchanted cave but without any of the cheesiness emanating from this comparaison. Not unlike the most concise material of Manilla Road, Demon Bitch are capable to write super epic metal within an accessible and totally catchy timeframe. It's a short album but five of the seven songs are between five and seven minutes (damn, I know this is a weird sentence) and they offer everything I wanted. Perhaps not as classy and elegant as Borrowed Time, they're still fairly on the intelligent and intriguing side. A track like the super epic "The Microdome" recalls Iron Maiden at their most melancholic and ends with some superb rhythm guitars and a piano outro, a really great song. A great band playing a classic style must be effective at distancing itself from their influences and that's something that Demon Bitch are excellent at doing. Sure, you'll be reminded of Mercyful Fate and the likes but I feel that their identity is their own.

I guess that the vocals of Logon are sort of an acquired taste but I totally love his high pitched, unhinged metal version of Geddy Lee. Like J-P Abboud, he's theatrical and has a lot of personality. Even if I liked him a lot, the guitars on Hellfriends are the clear highlights, I think there's not a single bad note on this thirty five minutes record, it's all gold. The songs are just fast enough and never boring and there's a lof of attention to some subtle details in the songwriting and it made the album even better. All and all, it's a superb occult tinged heavy metal album and worth listening to two or three times a day.


P.S. Four of their members are also in White Magician, also a super good band but watch out, they're even more insane.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Snack Series: Pringles - Cheddar Cheese



Price :
5 bucks combined with a 500 ml can of Newcastle. I felt trashy.

Packaging/extra information :
Well, it comes in a pringles, you’ve seen the already or else you wouldn’t be reading a snack review… There's 168 grams of chips and there's 150 calories for 15 of them (or 28 grams). I ate the whole box anyway. I always like the colours of Pringles' tubes and the mustached logo with the bowtie, he seems like a cool dude.

Texture:
The typical Pringles thin texture, I like to eat like 3 or 4 chips at the same time, it's enjoyable.

Taste:
the cheddar taste is subtle, possibly a bit too subtle even but it's quite good. The new tortillas flavours like Chili Cheese or Nacho Cheese are superior and should be picked instead of this tame cheddar cheese option. Still, it's not spicy and if you want a simpler, down to earth Pringles option, this is a good one.


6/10
An underwhelming Pringles flavour. They're at least better than the original one. Try the pizza flavour or the aforementioned Tortillas series.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Snack Series! Doritos Dinamita Review



Dinamita - Chili and lime /chile limon


Price:
11 bucks with a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon Dry and another bag of Doritos or simply $1.49.

Bag/additional information:
The bright green bag is quite attractive to the eye. There's also 420 calories for the whole 80 grams package so it's perfect for when you decide to blaze it.

Texture:
The main novelty of this limited edition doritos flavour is the rolled/twusted shape of the chip recalling the shape of a joint but unfortunately you can't smoke those. Tostitos also made something similar but it was their normal boring flavour but in a easily dipable format.

Taste:
Possibly the spiciest chips I've ever tried! Usually, snack companies exagerate the spice level of their chips but this time Doritos were right to call those "Dinamita" as they really blow up my mouth. There's really a mix or zesty lime combined with the agressive chili flavour and it's super tasty. It's a potent mix and the Pabst was really useful to extinguish my fiery tongue. Even though it was really well done, the 80 grams bag was somewhat hard to finish without the whole thing without the help of my friend who has a bigger tolerance to spicyness.

7/10

Overall, a nice effort from Doritos.


Metal Bounty Hunter : Volume 8 – Sunmask Special

Metal Bounty Hunter : Volume 8 – Sunmask Special




Sunmask is a new Canadian label specialising mostly in doom metal and I’d like to offer my support by reviewing a bunch of their releases. I’ve already covered Sea Witch, Strange Broue and their excellent Shooting Guns/Zaum split but there’s many cool new stuff to check out. My country is producing some excellent bands and it’s a blast to see them released on analog formats (tapes and vinyl discs) by a legit label.

Check out the Facebook page to stay up to date: Sunmask






Lüger – The Lethal Tape (2016) / 84%

This Montréal quartet recently played live with The Death Wheelers (featured below) but I had to fucking this gig because I’m basically a boring dude. I really like this release, they mix a bunch of stuff and they do it very well. The tape starts with this introduction called “Red Magick” which sets the tone for the whole thing with its horrific and undead samples. Lüger are sort of a super heavy horror rock band who just mess around with the styles with ease and fun. Combine stoner metal, huge doom riffing, dirty heavy metal and you have their sound. It can differ from songs to songs, like “Lycanthropia” almost recalls Orange Goblin while “Snakebait” sounds like a doom version of Mötley Crüe and Motörhead.




The vocals of Jimmy Target (also in a rock & roll/stoner rock band called Jimmy Target and the Triggers) are just fueled by alcohol and hookers. Like the music, it’s captivating by its dirtiness but also how smart and well thought out it sounds. I can’t wait for a full length from these guys.


The Death Wheelers – Mind Blowing Trip (2015-2016)
Witchstone – Summon the End (2016)

Split released on tapes or vinyl by Sunmask

84%

The Death Wheelers is Max Tremblay’s counterpart project to Strange Broue. While his other band plays huge doom/stoner vocals hugely inspired by Electric Wisard and the likes, this project is purely instrumental and like a bunch of Hells Angels high on satanic cocaine, it rocks hard. The songs are short burners with huge, thick bass lines and heavy as fuck doom riffs. There’s also many B movie (or just cult ones like Easy Rider on “Freewheelin’”) samples opening the tracks giving the Death Wheelers a welcoming nostalgic and vintage feel. There’s this fun atmosphere, perfect for driving at night and it’s almost as good as Karma to Burn, which are the masters of instrumental stoner metal in my opinion.

Actually released last year, the then sold out EP is now part of this split release with Witchstone and their two new tracks. I wanted to review their first full length released in 2014 so tackling this split is a pretty good opportunity to write about them. The quartet from Calgary is widely different than The Death Wheelers in the way they doom their metal. The two long pieces are full of old school horror doom influences with both venomous sludgey vocals and clean ones, super cool psychedelic guitar solos and slow riffs. The mix of harsh vocals and a musical background based mostly on doom/rock isn’t quite dichotomic (check out Black Magick SS for rock with harsh vox!), it really fits the occult mood they’re going for. Both songs are really damn good, they’re able to be atmospheric without forgetting to write compelling riffs.

This is a good split even though both bands don’t really fit together quite well. I think it should had been marketed differently but that’s just me! Anyhow, both sides are pretty damn solid examples of how good the Canadian doom/stoner/whatever scene is.








Witchstone on Bandcamp
The Death Wheelers on Bandcamp







Longhouse – Earth From Water (2015-2016) / 79%
Re-issue on CD by Sunmask


This trio from the Canadian capital of Ottawa plays top notch heavy sludge metal. The cover art inspired by the world turtle mythology really caught my eye, it’s pretty gorgeous and fits the quasi atmospheric side of the band well. They include some sad traditionnal doom melodies from time to time such as on “Gehenna Gate” and some progressiveness, especially in the well composed and modern guitar melodies. There’s also some heavy metal here, the epic instrumental banger “Phrygian Doom” sounds a bit like something Iron Maiden would do nowadays

The vocals of Josh Cayer are high
pitched nasty groovy growls, not too different from what we’re used to from the sludge world but they’re effective and not overly present or tiresome. Longhouse, the type of habitations the Iroquois native people used, evidently use this background as their main inspiration and more bands should write about this spiritual and often dark subject matter. Alongside bands like Monobrow or Norilsk, they’re one of the finest doom bands from the greater Ottawa area.


Bandcamp







The Weir – Calmess of Resolve (2015-2016) / 75%

Re-issue on vinyl by Sunmask


This band from Calgary plays slow, crushing atmospheric sludge akin to what Cult of Luna used to do. It’s heavy, extended numbers full of despair and feelings. While it’s nothing original and new for the experimented listener, they’re a fine band who’s able to develop those long songs correctly. The fourteen minutes instrumental title track is especially strong with the way it’s built and executed. The other songs have your typical harsh vocals but they’re sort of buried underneath the somewhat blurry mix.

Post metal, atmospheric sludge or whatever is a genre strong on building heavy and emotional crescendos and The Weir are good at them. While it’s a decent album, it’s possibly just not memorable enough for me to revisit it often. I guess they’re good enough to open for Neurosis when they’ll tour Alberta.


Bandcamp

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Sarcoptes - Songs and Dances of Death (2016) / 88%

Sarcoptes – Songs and Dances of Death (2016)
Cimmerian Shade Recordings

"Knock, knock, I'm Death, what's up!?"

Epic thrashy black, that's what up.



I do think it’s still possible for metal bands to release quality material falling in the traditional way we classify genres. After all, death, black or thrash are well defined styles played by a large numbers of young musicians. Nevertheless, bands playing one dimensional extreme metal nowadays tend to get boring and unimaginative. I’m not generalising, of course but bands like Vektor are much more interesting than generic shit like Bonded by Blood or Evile.

I mean, I’ll enjoy a new and well done old school death metal album but if I want to hear the style, I’ll go back to the classics (freaking Asphyx or early Deicide hits the spot). Damn, it’s nice to hear some inventiveness from time to time. Metal is a genre where almost everything has been done, bands who manage to impress with their distinctiveness are often the ones who are combining many genres at once to create some new concoctions. Sometimes, the recipe just doesn’t work and is inedible, some pretentious kids think they can compose 15 minutes songs of Opethian proportions and get away with it but you actually need a lot of talent to pull off those mashups. Sarcoptes are definitely above average on that front. The duo from Sacramento combines black metal with an healthy dose of thrash aesthetics and riffing (possibly due to their Californian origin) but they also add a huge helping of symphonic and epic influences to their superbly crafted debut album.

I like how the album flows, it starts with four six minutes tracks, delivering epicness in a well contained package and then the two longest tracks are unleashed at the end. “Barbarossa” and its thirteen minutes duration clearly was the highlight of this tight but expansive record for me. It ends with lasers and World War 2 warfare effects recalling the B series classic starring Jane Fonda but surprinsingly, it fails to be cheesy or ridiculous.

At times it sounds like it’s combining the early material Cradle of Filth (I don’t care what you guys think, Dusk and Her Embrace and Cruelty and the Beast are fucking excellent) with the melodic, riff based approach of Dissestion or Immortal at their thrashies. The symphonic arrangements are audible and sometimes in your face (the joyful conclusion of “Within the Labyrinth Mind” combined with the mighty blastbeats is incredible) but they’re never asinine or boring. They knew that the winning formula was to compose ultra good riffs before anything else, their songs are complex, rich and mostly fast while keeping the epic feel throughout the whole thing. The mid paced moments are extremely well done as well, their music has this sense of grandeur and it’s really interesting.

I’ve been mostly ambivalent towards symphonic black metal these days, I’m not quite following the genre as I think most of what I’ve heard is on the asepticized side but Sarcoptes with their clever mix of black, thrash, epic and symphonic metal could very well make me interested in the genre again

Oh and compared to Iron Maiden’s Dance of Death, the cover art isn’t crappy at all!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Austrian Special - A focus on the non-metal music from Arnold's native land



One of my best online friends is from this mysterious country located near the Alps and we often share our local findings. He discovered Québec rock (Karkwa, Ponctuation, Galaxie…) because of me and I was pleased when he sent me a lot of Austrian suggestions. This is sort of related to my Local Sounds series but done with bands from cities located on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Considering I don’t currently really have the means to visit Vienna or Graz, this exploration of Austria non-metal music will have to do for now. Summoning were the musical act I was thinking of when this country was getting mentioned but it’s always fun to expand our horisons. Let’s start.


Wanda-Amore (2014)
-Bussi (2015)

This quintet from the capital are one of the biggest bands in Austria right now and for good reason. Their blend of heartfelt rock integrates a lot of tasteful pop influences, folky overtones and even some Americana. Their singer, Michael Marco, has some roughness to his delivery, you can hear the fact that he’s a smoker though the German lyrics. Their indie pop with some slight symphonic arrangements is a bit too cheesy for me but you can hear that they’re deeply inspired by Bob Dylan’s electric material for some of their musical aspects. It’s old school pop, really but there’s this modern catchiness. They sort of remind me of Arctic Monkeys if they were not heavy at all. Interesting band, it’s refreshing to hear.


Witchrider – Unmountable Stairs (2014)
Josh Homme just turned 43 this week and he’s possibly the biggest influence here. The
trio from Graz definitely dig the huge guitars of Queens of the Stone Age but they’re not a carbon copy of the seminal American band. They mix things up and add some occult rock to their huge and super catchy riff dirty rock fest. Signed on Fuzzorama records, Witchrider aren’t afraid to unleash the fuzz through their stoner rock and they even include some psychedelia to the mix. 


The song "Far From You" is particularly stellar. Legit band with super good vocals. All hail Austrian desert stoner rock!











Carousals – Unstable (2015)
This viennese quartet released their debut extended play last year and it’s a very enjoyable mix of post punk, indie rock and alt rock with a strong Sonic Youth influence. The riffs are loud and noisy and Sonja’s excellent vocals definitely recall Kim Gordon’s approach. Compared to a band like Savages, they take their time with those slow burning compositions full of distortion (like “No Good”). Great EP and I’m interested to hear their future material.







The Sado-Maso Guitar Club
-We Love You Too (2011)
-Sado Maso Guitar Club (2013)

Possibly my favorite band included in the folder than my friend Daniel sent me, SMGC
are classic rock in the purest sense of the expression. They’re basically a modern version of the Rolling Stones and that’s a super good compliment. “Get the Sound” from their debut album has one of the best guitar melodies I’ve heard in a while and combined with the organ, it’s just an infectious and groovy bluesy rock tune. They worship the late 60s and 70s era of rock where things weren’t getting super yet and it was still highly mixed with folk, blues and singer-songwriter influences. They’re not reinventing anything but they do everything correctly and they’re just super fun to listen to.








Binder & Krieglstein 
-Alles Verloren (2007)
-New Weird Austria (2010)


Rainer Binder-Krieglstein‘s music is pretty unique and quite excellent. Combining ethnic music (arabic, german, austrian, gypsy) with soul, pop, electronic, reggae, hip hop, this project is all over the place in the best way possible. Mostly in German, the album has a variety of singers from soft female voices to deep male ones and it‘s literally insane. It‘s so different from what I‘m used to but I really enjoyed the wide array of sounds displayed by this Austrian producer, it may seem to be disjoncted but it‘s put together expertly.







Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Purgatoire – Passé décomposé (2016) / 78%

Excellent artwork!

Terrible Bear Attack


Rimouski’s Purgatoire (purgatory, duh) was created with the goal to play pure, unaltered
savage death metal and they definitely managed to do exactly that. The francophone quartet inspired by proto brutal death wrote a vivid and aggressive record that purists of the genre are gonna enjoy.

The two main inspirations I can hear in Passé décomposé (decomposed past) are the two American death metal giants Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation. Like those guys, the riffs are thick, hellishly groovy and the tracks are fast paced, vicious and are very good at destroying your eardrums. There’s not an ounce of progressive, atmospheric or deathcore elements to be found here, it’s death metal to the core and it’s still a relevant genre after more than twenty years. There’s no need to inject some asinine elements to the recipe when the basis is already tasty.

The vocals of Félix Ouellet are massive growls and this greasy violence fits the demolishing machine created by the experimented guitarists. Those veterans are obviously in love with the style and they do it because of that and not because it’s a trend. Rimouski is located in north eastern québec (5 hours from Montréal) and there’s this enjoyable side of the band that’s related to the harsh natural aspect of their region such as the closer “Baribal enragé” (enraged black bear). The song starts with a man being attacked and eaten alive/dismembered by a bear and that’s pretty freaking metal. The wild is a pretty cool theme and should be used more often by metal bands.

I do dig this highly groovy version of death metal even if I do think it got a bit samey, variety was not needed here, don’t get me wrong but there’s not a lot of you can do with the genre without fully changing its textures. The intent of this 37 minutes record was to bury you alive and the duration is just fine enough to do that. I think the guitars are a bit too mechanical at times but I do enjoy the quasi lack of useless solos, an aspect that many death metal seems to favor a bit too much most of the time, there’s some well placed like in the opener but they never go overboard.




The production recalls the mid 90s old school death metal, the heydays for the genre and while I mostly hear the American influences, there’s a some nice touches of Swedish goodness here (Grave? Unleashed?). It’s not ground breaking but it’s well done Québécois violent death metal executed with care, precision and with the the might of a 500 pounds black bear devouring your limbs like they were pork sausages. Pretty good debut album.
Thanks to PRC Music for the promo copy

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Friday, 13 May 2016

Metal Bounty Hunter: Volume 7 - THRASH EDITION

Lars Ulrich is in no way affiliated to Metantoine's Magickal Realm.



Vektor – Terminal Redux (2016) / 90%
Earache Records

These guys definitely ate their cereal this morning

Vektor are possibly the best thrash band on Earth (and in the universe) and while I think this new album of theirs isn’t better than Black Future, it’s still a top notch affair. The 5 years it took them to finish this album were worth it since it’s a tremendous trip into space. Not a lot of bands can pull of a long album like this one, with its seventy-three minutes, it takes a lot of time and energy to full absorb all the kinetic energy that those four Americans deliver. Keeping the listener interested througout he whole record is a grand feat by itself but Vektor also has the ability to bludgeon them with their pristine skills.

While Vektor hasn’t changed its formula (you don’t change a winning one), there’s a lot of surprises to enjoy on Terminal Redux like those clean Lion King-esque chanting on the superb opener “Charging the Void”, the clean vocals of Disanto on the phenomenal semi ballad “Collapse” and also, the fact, that well... they did a “To live is to Die”-esque ballad. This shows that like Metallica, they have the balls and the vision to try new things. The clean break on “Recharging the Void” is probably the nearest a thrash band has come to including cheesy 90s pop influences in their music with those soulful female back vocals reminding me of the ones in Dream Theater’s Scenes from a Memory. This is possibly their best track ever.

Nevertheless, their greatest strength is those extended, rich and completely bonkers tracks and this album is pretty much just that.
They’re able to convey emotions with the help of their precise and chirurgical technical musicianship and it’s extremely rare to hear a thrash band do something like that.

While I think there’s absolutely no bad or simply “ok” moment
(t’s all pretty damn great), god it is exhausting. I mean, it starts with three seven minutes tracks before giving us a short atmospheric interlude. Still, I’ll never skip any parts since I want to hear the whole sci fi savagery in all its glory. Vektor deserves their fanboyism. They rule the cosmos.

Spacebook





The Paolo Girardi thrash duo!

Division Speed – Division Speed (2015) / 77%
High Roller Records

Bombing the shit out of London



This quartet from Saxony evolves in a particular thrash style pionnered by their legendary compatriots of Sodom, this genre is called “War Metal”, no it’s not raw black/death played by heroin addicts former bodybuilders, it’s super fast barbaric thrash metal about war, in this case the infamous World War II. The fourteen songs albums (including 2 short interludes) is all about dropping bombs on everyone for like forty minutes and that’s a great thing in their case. They mix the raw intensity of Motorhead and Uncle Tom’s band with a fair share of proto black/thrash goodness (think Desaster, Aura Noir) and it’s pretty damn cool. 
The sole guitar of Venomessiah (lol) is thick, greasy and alternates between those insane fast riffs and those more mid paced ones and he has those solos of the purest Slayer quality, just unfiltered aggression played with the guitar.


Their vocals are raw croaks with all the necessary venom to make Churchill trembles with fear. Their music, unlike the Normandy landings, is just freaking fun. I’m starting to dig thrash again after a long break, there’s a primal quality to this kind of stuff that you just don’t find elsewhere. It's present here.

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Wildhunt – Descending (2016) / 82%
Metal On Metal Records

Classy Austrian thrash power trio



This Austrian trio’s debut album is definitely some top notch thrash metal. Combining the epic side of Metallica or Heathen and the complex power trio attitude of Coroner, Wildhunt were able to write compelling songs showcasing all the extent of their skills and their versatility.

The 1 hour album has many different moods and is quite varied, the band shines on the long tracks such “Crystal Deth (U.M.D.A.)”
or the eight minutes opener “Age of Torment” but they’re also delivering the goods with their shorter ones. I personally think mid paced thrash is the best since it doesn’t only rely on blistering speed to be effective, it relies on subtle (as far as possible for the genre) songwriting.

Wolfgang Elwitschger (Austrian names are awesome) is super talented and plays the sole guitar while handling the mic duty as well. His vocals are very good too, clean and not so high pitched, they add to this classy and distinguished flair the band has. His solos are also on the proggy/power metal side and he simply delivers on that front too. There’s also a huge bass presence, the lines are pretty groovy in“Death Spares (N)one”. All in all, their musicianship is intense, well calculated but it never overshadows their epic songs. Smart thrash, guys.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Metal Bounty Hunter: Volume 6





Yellow Eyes – Sick with Bloom (2015) / 79%
Gilead Media
"Behind Yellow Eyes" - Fred Durst

New York is definitely a hot bed for “hipster” black metal with Krallice at the forefront (sup Colin Marston) and Yellow Eyes fits the scene. While I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of dissonant black metal, I do appreciate the genre and I don’t think it’s the worst thing to ever happen to the underground. While not as discordant and “technical” as Krallice, Yellow Eyes do share a lot of similarities with them in the way they compose their songs and riffs. Their six compositions are all somewhat on the long side with loads of well written riffs and buried yet enjoyable typical screams. While not an atmospheric band per se, tracks like “The Mangrove, The Preserver” explores a more natural territory than most of their counterparts without turning too much into hippie/tree lovers like Wolves in the Throne Room or Skagos. Nonetheless, the excellent closer “Ice in the Spring” certain has this forest feel with its ethereal outro full of cicadas and subtle acoustic guitar


Band members Will and Sam Skarstad (no, it’s not a Viking metal band) self produced the album and they were able to retain this vivid raw sound and it was for the best, really. I can’t wait to see these guys in Montréal when they’ll play with Forn.

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Witchthroat Serpent – Sang-dragon (2016) / 54%
Deadlight Entertainment

The Baguette Doom Series pt. XVI: Cloning

The big trend in doom metal right is to sound like Electric Wizard. This French trio is quite good at it, perhaps too good even. The main problem of this scene is the fixation on the SOUND and the AMPS. I mean it’s one of the reasons it’s getting more and more popular with the non traditional metal crowds. It’s LOUD music. If you know your doom, you’ll get nothing new with Witchthroat Serpent, even their name is inspired by the used, unoriginal tropes of the genre. What you’re getting here is the standard doom/stoner clean vocals (not as buried as usual) with heavy, mid-paced to slow riffing and efficient bluesy solos. I mean, it’s not bad at all, it’s even pretty good sometimes (“Into the Black Wood”) but it’s just mundane. There’s too many bands playing this style and the scene is saturated. Be an innovator, not a follower. If you can’t wait for the next EW album, check this out.

Altarage – NIHL (2016) / 93%
Iron Bonehead/Doomentia Records/Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Basque annihilation


I really liked Altarage’s debut demo (both tracks reappear here) released last year and I was expecting something great for their debut full length, I’m far from disappointed. This is perhaps the heaviest and most insane album of the year, it’s mindblowing good. It’s primitive death/black metal with a strong war metal attitude, they’re usually in an insane crushing vibe but they can deliver on the occult atmospheric side as well (such as the debut of “Graehence”). As expected, the drumming is super fast, the guitars are so loud and heavy that their sound just creates a loud but totally blissful and enjoyable mess. Sure, it’s repetitive but so is life, death is the only solution and these guys certainly kill everything they encounter.

Think of Adversarial but add some grind intensity, a more vicious attitude and an additional thickness and you wouldn’t be too far from what Altarage plays. Their music and pummeling guitars are so intense that NIHL becomes some sort of trance experience that will nail you to your chair Nightmarish music that would make our ancestors kill themselves out of fear. All hail nihilism, the Earth is doomed anyway.

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Geryon – The Wound and the Bow (2016) / 83%
Profound Lore Records


Bass n' drums abstract exploration


This band formed by the rhythm section of Krallice (yes, them again) is quite interesting. It’s some sort of bass and drums exploration into cacophonous experimental death metal. They’re like Neoandertals if the Estonian band wasn’t terrible and hilarious. The bass playing of McMaster is perfect in all its dissonant glory, as a novice (if I can call myself a novice at all) bass player, it’s fun to hear the instrument at the forefront. Compared to what I’ve heard from the debut, this is more experimental and less than trying to play death metal without guitars. The drumming of Weinstein is jazzy and full of subtleties, he really shows how good he is on the closer “Dioscuri” and its long extended instrumental moments. There’s not a lot of vocals but when McMaster sings, it’s deep vitriolic harsh vox with a sludgey feel. It's meditative, entrancing material with a simple and uncomplicated yet technical approach, I think the cover art done by the bassist/vocalist is a good representation of how abstract the whole thing is.

It may seem like a pretentious fest played by NY snobs but it’s actually highly emotional in the same sense that improvisational jazz can be, it’s metal that’s free of conventions, rigid ideas of what the “metaldom” should be and should like. It “transcends” labels and isn’t for the narrow minded. Post-black? Avant-garde? Experimental? Who cares, it’s intelligent and well played.