Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Snack Series - Doritos Mojo Citron & Doritos Heatwave

Doritos Dinamita mojo citron - 4/5

Another of those special Doritos experimental flavors. Compared to the others, this one isn't spicy. There's a little tangy but the dominant flavor is lime. The corn flour taste is predominant too and it's enjoyable.

I really appreciate the circular shape of the chip. It's easy to put in your mouth (in a phallic kind of way) and it makes the experience more complete. The crispiness of the chip is also a big plus.

Doritos are making some really avant garde tortillas right now and it's a resounding success. I really hope they do bigger bags of this series

Doritos heatwave - 3/5

In one of my earlier snack reviews, I proclaimed that the Doritos Chili & Lime were their spiciest ever but damn, the new Heatwave flavor is the new champion. 

There's something weird about 'em as they're not as crispy as their other tortilla chips.They're somewhat more granular and fragile. It's not something detrimental though

The taste is at first really BBQish but then turns into an explosion of heat! The spiciness stays vibrant for a while too.I'll be honest, I'll admit that they were a bit too much for me. Still, They're good! Try them now as they're only available for a limited time.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Possessed Steel – Possessed Steel (2014) / 80%


The Toronto band is about to release their new record so let’s go back to their debut EP before they do, shall we? The quartet plays honest and powerful epic heavy metal. They’re in between bands like Cauldron, Phantom, Axxion and Cromlech if we’re talking about the trad metal scene found in the Ontario metropolis. They have the doomy and uber epicness of Cromlech and the speed and charisma of their other brethren.

After a short classical piano introduction, we’re served four songs about mythology (Greek, Nordic & Roman) and fantasy. Rest assured, it’s done in a manly Manowar-esque kind of way and not in a wimpy LARP/Rhapsody way. Sullivan’s vocal delivery is clean and somewhat powerful but can spit some venom when it’s necessary, he’s pretty decent even if Possessed Steel isn’t the kind of band with legendary vocal acrobatics. I’ve learned to like barely adequate singers in heavy metal (see Angel Sword or Scalare) as they give the bands a charming and welcoming feel. Nonetheless, Possessed Steel’s vocal identity is a bit above average as far as I’m concerned.

At times, they remind me of a tighter and to the point Atlantean Kodex as they’re classy but still true to the roots of what makes heavy metal a compelling genre. I guess that’s the sound you try to get when you worship both Manilla Road and Omen? Three of the songs are around the six minute mark and they’re packed with metal nutriments. They do need to work on some aspects of their compositions to make them a bit more cohesive (judging by the first track from their new one, they did it) but I enjoyed the EP a lot.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Dwoom – Pale Mare Demo MMXVII (2017) / 85%

Swedish Rules Divine - Part 2

I always preferred the Finnish doom scene but the mighty Sweden always delivers the good. I’m not exactly crazy about their current crop of traditional doom (see Below or Anguish) but their stoner scene is pretty healthy with bands like Monolord (constant touring helps!) or Vokonis. Dwoom from Northern Sweden not only has the best name around but they got a renewed epic doom sound and their debut demo is a slab of insanely great pure hot iron.

The main feat of Dwoom is that they play doom metal with HM2 pedals. I’m not a gear expert or musician but I can easily recognize this sound and it did wonders for this band. It’s basically like Hooded Menace but without the horror inspired death metal of the Finnish band. The quartet injects an almost illegal dose of steroids to the epic doom sound of Candlemass and it’s a shame the demo is only seventeen minutes, give me more!!!

Gustav Lund has nothing to envy to both Johan Längquist or Messiah. The dude can sing! He has this operatic approach common to epic doom but he’s sometimes a bit rougher. There’s some rare harsh vocals too but it’s mostly a clean affair.

The subtle organ notes too and this gives a tenebrous feel to the crushing doom played by Dwoom. Their atmosphere is spot-on too, it’s groovy, entrancing and will make your neck move. The three songs are tight, mid-paced numbers with strong guitars and catchy vocal lines. Simply put, Dwoom are above-average and this demo is highly promising.

Ceremonial Bloodbath – Command Sacrifice (2017) / 82%

Sliced open by a rusty ceremonial dagger

The new quartet from Vancouver formed by members of Ahna, Haggatha and Mudlark plays unadulterated, intense death metal. The quasi-raw demo contains five tracks and most of them are over the five minutes mark. The track named after the band (I always like those) is eight minutes long and it’s a total banger full of evil riffs.

Their best skill is their ability to switch from slow to fast in an instant and keep the songs insanely heavy and cohesive. They play their death metal with some black and doom influences and while it fits the current scene of occult death metal cultists (see Dark Descent, Iron Bonehead etc), their compositions are fresh and exciting. No need for overblown originality when you have riffs this good anyway.

The natural production works well for their archaic and ancient sound. We’re served Slayer/Deicide-esque soloing (see the aptly named “Hordes of Demons Feeding”) and cavernous, unhinged vocals. It’s primitive and deadly. Their riffs are bouncy and dangerously chaotic. They constantly stab you in the gut with a rusty but really sharp ceremonial dagger.

I’m hoping that they will not polish their sound too much for their future releases, it’s totally adequate for their sound. It’s perfect to sacrifice human lives to whoever you think should rule the world. Command Sacrifice is one of the best demos of the year and if you like your extreme metal dirty and bloody, check them out.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Emblem – Emblem (2017) / 88%

Newfoundland's soldiers of steel

Heavy metal from Newfoundland, eh? Yes, sir and it's awesome. The debut self titled album sounds like if the maritime province is still an English territory and never entered the Canadian confederation in 1949. Their sound is basically beefed up NWOBHM and they deserve all your attention.

The main element they have that most other current heavy metal bands lack is the intricacy and attention to details of their compositions. Their songs (such as "Encased In Stone") are often long, detailed and filled to the brim with riffs and solos. What's enjoyable is that they're able to push the genre to this level without distilling it with outside influences such as progressive, thrash or doom. It's pure pummeling heavy metal from start to finish with interesting, super metal lyrics (fantasy, horror, medieval) and above average soloing from the pair of guitarists composed of Knee and Cooper.

You know a band is good at their craft when it's hard to pinpoint their influences. This means that they took their time to assimilate enough metal and create something worthwhile and not derivative. I mean, sure, you’ll hear Iron Maiden here since there’s the same love for intense and soulful soloing on Emblem but overall, this is devoid of pure particular worship towards anyone.

While the riffs are solid and all the songs are good, vocalist (and bassist) Harry Clarke is my clear highlight of this record. He reminds me of Blaze Bayley a little, not really because their voices are similar but because they’re both manly, powerful and evocative singers. I think he allows Emblem to sit at the grownups’ table, that’s just how good he is. He shines on “The Mountain Trail” where the best vocal lines on the album can be found.

With that said, the album can feel a bit bloated with those long numbers (not as bloated as modern Maiden though!) and it’s a bit samey. While I like the rich foundations of those songs, some editing could had made the album even better. A long epic song could had been enjoyable too as I'm sure they have the balls and the required skills to pull it off.

With their epic, memorable compositions without any fluff or gimmicks, Emblem should establish themselves as the best heavy metal band in Canada. Incredible debut.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tractor Pulling – Ghost Hungerland (2007) / 88%

NWOFHM #11 - Pulled Pork Fuckery

The intent of Jussi Lehtisalo with this New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal scene he gave birth to was to create an artificial and totally insane metal scene in his native city of Pori. Tractor Pulling just like Krypt Axeripper, Pharaoh Overlord, Arkhamin Kirjasto, Motorspandex, Aktor or Steel Mammoth (all reviewed by yours truly) bring his heavy metal vision to life in a completely batshit insane way.

Tractor Pulling is mostly comparable to Krypt Axeripper (also released in 2007) as they have similar eccentric heavy riffs and almost has the same vocal delivery. Jussi’s voice here is rougher around the edges and it’s also reflected within the compositions. The two compositions of this single are doomier and heavier overall. They’re also a bit more longer than those on Mechanical Witch. You’ll have to check both “projects” and compare them with each-others.

The guitars are raw, almost rooted in thrash/speed metal, the drums is fast but kept simple and the guitar leads have this quasi melodic surf rock quality to them. This is traditional metal played by someone who distanced himself from any of the obvious, popular influences or staples of the genre. It takes a really talented mad genius to make this alien kind of metal while keeping things oddly familiar at the same time. Be ready.

Citadelle – Citadelle (2016) / 85%

Defend the citadel!

France had one of the best heavy metal scenes in the world during the 80s with bands like Sortilège, ADX, High Power or Vulcain and Citadelle from the Occitanie region worships this sound. A wise decision, if I may say so. This is their debut release, a great demo.

With one of the members of Weird Light (the best doom band to ever exist in France) at the forefront of the band, Citadelle were only destined to greatness. France is of course a country with a long and famous (sometimes infamous) history so it makes sense for the band to use it as their background. This demo is based mostly on the Crusades (as illustrated by the artwork) and it’s more than adequate theme!

After a short introduction, we’re served four portions of high octane heavy metal in French with melodic clean vocals and I’ve been told that they’re an acquired taste by non-francophone people but I personally had no issues with them. I guess it helps when you understand the lyrics… Max is a bit rougher on “Hérétiques” but his delivery is fun and fits the music like a glove.

« Les flammes de l’enfer brûlent au fond de mes yeux! »

They rely on effective, to the point songwriting with bouncy classic metal riffs and the inclusion of well placed solos works well within the songs. They’re not a super technical or complex band, relying more on strong traditional melodies. There’s also some slight folk influences (in a Skyclad kind of way, of course) found in the combination of riffs and vocals. The last track ends with monastic or religious chanting to add a Catholic feel to the tape release.

If you’re a fan of French heavy metal, you’ll definitely enjoy Citadelle. The production is solid, the riffs are pretty fantastic and the theme is spot-on. They’re currently working on their debut album and I have high expectations for it.

Jordablod – Upon My Cremation Pyre (2017) / 93%

Sweden rules divine

This young three-piece from Malmö, Sweden possibly released the best black metal album of 2017 with their debut full length album (out on the always reliable Iron Bonehead.) It’s everything I like about the genre in one marvelous package full of riffs and killer atmospheric bits.

While clearly looking at the olde gods of the genre such as Bathory, there’s a definite will to keep things balanced between ancient and actual. That’s something you can find in contemporaries allies such as The Ruins of Beverast or Tribulation. Like those two bands, creating an occult atmosphere was one of the goals they gave themselves and they truly did that with this record. Jordablod do something new but in a subtle way, it’s all in the details. Their style is an amalgam of primal black metal and barbaric (in the best way possible) death metal. It can recall the earliest foundations of the genres where things weren’t written in stone. They play around with different slow-burning atmospheres, some of them can recall the cold feel of pre-Christianity Sweden where Viking rituals were common (“Hin Håle”) while some others are rooted in fast quasi-folky metal à la Melechesh (“A Sculptor of the Future”.). Those numerous perspectives gave this album an additional coating of quality.

Despite those influences, they’re never silly or sugary. It’s done with good taste and a profound understanding of how their music should sound. At times, Jordablod sounds like a more organic Negative Plane. They both took the first wave sound and made it contemporary. The guitars are vivid, in your face and even in the softer, slower moments, there’s stuff happening. There’s absolutely no filler on this record. The guitar tone has this complex otherworldly charm. The band shines on those epic moments (see the conclusion/solo of “Liberator of Eden”) and I think they’re up there with Primordial for this long-winded intense approach to metal. Just like its artwork, Upon My Cremation Pyre is a grandiose, colourful record full of twists and turns

Weeping Sores - Weeping Sores (2017) / 72%

The pus is mostly gone

The new project formed by two members of both Pyrrhon and Seputus explores a slower style than what we’re used to with those guys. The duo of Moore and Schwegler is joined by a violinist and the instrument adds an extremely sorrowful layer to their compositions.

Their debut extended play is made up of four extended compositions with a lot of stuff happening. The better comparison I managed to find is that it’s midway between the atmospheric brutal death of Ulcerate and the sadness found in My Dying Bride’s heaviest material. It’s a pretty original take on death/doom as it’s mixing both the technical and angular side of modern death metal and the simplified, raw aggression of primal doom/death. The riffs are dense and often repeated (see “The Shadow in the Seer”) till your brain is mush and then, a violin break appears and the mood is transformed. It's not always quite cohesive but I must say I thought the violin is the best thing about their music.

The last track starts with a calm, soothing introduction before delivering loads of heavy riffs. Sometimes it almost sounds like they’re playing slowed down groovy deathcore, it’s peculiar. It doesn’t work all the time but there’s a lot of good ideas found on the record. The fact they succeeded at making a novel sound work is a feat in itself, let’s see if they’ll manage to go somewhere really interesting with their sound.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Vokonis – Olde One Ascending (2016) / 90%

They do love their craft!

This is without a doubt one of the finest doom albums of 2016. Despite that fact, it took me a while to gather my thoughts and do a review. This challenge is a perfect opportunity to do just that. To me, this album is more satisfying than the entire Sleep discography. I know, this is perhaps hyperbolic but eh, this is great stuff, guys!

The power trio from Sweden sounds like a ton of brick on steroids. Those guys probably eat six to eight eggs a day to maintain their heaviness. I mean, to appeal to the ancient ones, you need to be convincing cultists or they will not answer your dark prayers. Vokonis' prayers are repetitive but highly effective. It’s perhaps their only weakness but they were wise enough to keep the album relatively short for doom/stoner standards. This is mostly the fault of Ohlsson’s vocals, they’re a bit redundant and samey but they do not lack power, no sir. I really love when he goes all in and screams the hell out of those bonkers lyrics (check out the huge closer “Hazmat the Ashen Rider”.) That said, this small default certainly adds another layer of psychedelic stoner to their sound.

Like Conan (the British band, not the character), their main appeal is the power of their sound. The production is an absolute gem and adds ten thousand pounds of pure steel on everything. The guitars, the clear highlight of the record, are Jabba-esque. The leads are also pretty good (like the one minute solo on “Olde One”) as they expand the sound towards proggy fields. Still, a good tone is nothing without good riffs and they deliver on that front too. The lush six to eight minutes songs are never boring and are constantly offering the olde gods something worthwhile.

They're not a slow band either, they maintain a steady mid-paced speed throughout the record as they alternate between groovy as fuck riffs and trance inducing leads. Their doom is simply fun and rewarding.

Sure, what Vokonis plays isn’t the most original style but they do it with verve and talent. Perhaps not as adventurous as a band like Elder, they’re nevertheless as talented and worth hearing.

Rookscare – Ecotone (2016) / 86%


Rookscare from West Virginia are one of those bands with an interest in melding many different genres to make a new identity for themselves. I can say they managed to do exactly that with this excellent extended play. Ecotone, the zone between two ecosystems fits the wide array of genres they use but also links their southern, rural roots to their theme.

Their Metal Archives doesn’t do justice to what they play but I guess it fits the band since we can’t put an essay in there. They’re sludge in the same sense than Acid Bath or Melvins are sludge as the genre is only a part of their whole conceptual scheme. Rookscare incorporates swampy acoustic passages, progressive black metal, heavy and even trad doom at times. All of this is surrounded by a constant attention to subtle details and a thick layer of psychedelia. The vocal approach also reflects this uncompromising kitchen sink formula, from clean to harsh, they’re always interesting and hostile.

The EP opens with the extensive title track and it’s followed by another long piece before delivering the sludgey, bass heavy to the point closer of “Brother James”. It’s an album full of contrasts but the mood remains constantly depressive and uneasy. It’s like if three hicks were hunting a bunch of jocks from the east coast with axes, sawed-off shotguns while smoking really potent weed out of heavy iron pipes.

Oksennus - Sokea idiootti (2016) / 84%

Finland is weird. We all know that. Still, I wasn’t quite prepared for Oksennus’ music. I was intrigued by the simple yet out there artwork so I decided to check their sound and I wasn’t disappointed. Most stuff released by Caligari Records is high quality and this is no exception.

Oksennus (vomit in Napero-speech) relies heavily on the excellent bass to build their compositions, the bass is heavy and fast but at the same time, it’s also soft and melodic. It creates some sort of dichotomy with the guitars that are often quite noisy and metallic. There’s this conscious choice to make the rhythm section louder than the guitars and it works well for them. The bass creates the main melodies and the guitars just builds the foundations underneath. It’s a cohesive album, it’s the songwriting that’s just very fucked up and original. They took the current blackened doomy death metal trend, stripped it of everything, burned the house and built a new one from scratch. There’s also this odd technical feel, probably inspired by how they thought Demilich used to sound.

The vocals are mostly deep cavernous howls but the track “Ekstirpaatio” features some clean but ominous chanting, reminding me of a twisted version of Viikate. All in all, like with most metal genres, Finland shows that it’s able to put its own touches to something and make it crazy. Oksennus’ music is cold, unforgiving and worth looking into if like the Finns, you hate everything but saunas.

Malebranche - Enlisé (2017) / 78%

In Movement

The young quartet from Montréal took their time to produce their first release and it was a judicious decision. They went straight to the EP format and did no demos. That’s fine nowadays where it’s entirely possible to get a great sound with ease. That’s something the boys of Malebranche got right on their debut.

In fact, they got a lot of things right. They got their style right, for sure. At first, I wasn’t quite convinced by their approach but it won me over after a while. Their blend of black metal genres is subtle and effective. They include elements of post black metal without never fully embracing it, same for Cascadian atmospheric black metal. Those two sub genres are toppings to the intense, fast paced black metal style of Malebranche. They’re a good representative of the actual Québec black metal scene as they’re removing themselves from the famous aesthetics. Like Basalte, Eos or Entheos, they’re the new wave of like-minded bands who aren’t afraid of exploring other genres.

Their compositions are dense and even though they’re not really lengthy, they’re epic in scope. The riffs are evocative and varied, the vocals obscure and powerful and the drumming strong and above average. Their sound is midway through traditional blistering black metal and the more subdued, prone to ambient side of the genre. A strong debut.