Sunday, 24 January 2021

The Snack Series: Doritos 3D and Ruffles Double Crunch Jalapeno Cheddar

Doritos 3D chili cheese nacho

Packaging: The overly modern package with the big 3D letters isn't super aesthetic, it's a bit too much. The red and white colours are very aggressive too. The main intent was to show off how three dimensional the Doritos actually is since that's the main selling point of that new flavour. Mission accomplished, I guess. It's just ugly. Looks like a 90s sport logo or something.

Texture: The 3D Doritos are bite sized and yeah, they're hollow. They're like small triangular balloon disks. It's a fun texture to put in your mouth. It's almost adventurous, that's the kind of chips people in Star Trek would eat if they were actually unhealthy and not boring.

Taste: A mix of spicy chili and their usual nacho flavour, the taste is pretty decent while nothing out of the ordinary or special. It works. I think the size of the chips helps for some reason, probably a placebo one. If they were the size of a normal Dorito, it would had been weird.

All in all, it's a gimmick Doritos and I'd rather see them do adventurous flavours like Sonic Sour Cream or the guacamole collisions or something

6/10


Ruffles Double Crunch Jalapeno Cheddar

Packaging: the bag highlights how thicc the chips are and shows us a big chunk of cheddar and those powerful jalapeno boys. I always liked the blue Ruffles bag and the add green on the bottom is a good mix to their classic colours.

Texture: if one of your desires in life were something like "hey I'd like those Ruffles to be twice as thick and crispy" then you'll be satisffiied. They're as advertised and that's appreciated. You'll need to increase the volume of your TV though.

Taste:  Similar to the Cheetos crunchy jalapeno cheddar in taste, it doesn't reinvent the wheel. The focus was given to the texture and that's ok. It's not overly spicy but it has a nice little kick and the cheese flavour isn't overshadowed either. I'm intrigued by the double crunch ketchup Ruffles as well.

Strong effort by Ruffles

8/10

Friday, 8 January 2021

Falsehood - Falsehood (2017) / 82%

Nah dudes, I agree

Falsehood from Edmonton features two members from death/black veterans Begrime Exemious but explores a different style of extreme metal. Crust is basically punks playing metal (or trying to) but the lines between punk and metal is getting quite blurry. It’s possible that metalheads can play punk as well! Anyhow the quartet mixes several influences into one potent patty of aggressive and uncompromising music.

Their approach relies heavily on heavy riffs and the repetitiveness of said hard hittin’ guitars. It’s cold, dangerous and it doesn’t mess around with the puck at all. They would have broken that fucking QAnon Shaman in pieces if they had the chance. It’s thundering politically inclined metallic punk taking no fucking prisoners. A mixing pot of death metal, sludgey doom, crust and hardcore punk, Falsehood is able to digest those influences and shit us something worthwhile and captivating. The dual guitars attack of Franky and Derek are fantastic and doesn’t show off at all, they’re there for the power of the riffs and they serve the songs. The guitar tone is disgusting (in the best way possible) and while there’s distortion, it’s never sloppy and badly written. Those dudes are solid musicians and the combination of the two guitarists with a very effective rhythm section created an aural devastation. A good example of how everything is so expertly combined is the eight minutes closer “Deceiver”, one of their slower but still super urgent compositions. The drums and bass are also very very good and it's something I focused on more and more after a few spins of the album. The backend of the album is rich and the tight and focused production definitely helps.

Protect the rich, serve the state

Mindless pigs fill us with hate

The vocals of Franky are pissed off deep growls, it's harsh and full of venom. What I like is that it's not a constant barrage of vocals, it's present like any other instruments and it plays its role within the band's music. Tracks like "Descent Into Madness" features vox only midway through the four-ish minutes track but when they start, damn. That track almost has a grindcore feel to it as it ends. They're good at showcasing their riffs and they let them breathe a while too. There's a few cleaner moments ("Waste" or "Militant Swine") and they bring forward some sort of depressive post metal stylistic exploration to the fold. It's interesting and doesn't feel out of place.

The only modern thing about them is their intent to combine old school styles together but ultimately, this combination creates something that could have been released ten, twenty or even thirty years ago. Like their left leaning themes, It’s pretty timeless for punk music. Throw Asphyx, Bolt Thrower and Amebix in a garbage bin and let the raccoons do their job, you’ll end up with something close to Falsehood.

Bandcamp

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

John the Baptist – John the Baptist (2021) / 90%

 

Pour some (un)holy water on me!


I’ve been expecting a full length album from these guys for like four years now but it’s fine, they’re playing the long game in every aspects of their identity. The mysterious fellas are coming from a black metal background (Blood Red Fog in particular) definitely embraced true doom as it’s oozing from everywhere on that debut album. I’m embracing the depressive and morose start of the year even more with their downer music. 2021 will suck too y’all, better prepare yourself.

Obviously fans of Reverend Bizarre (as any sane people should be), John the Baptist is still a different entity than their ancestor. Sure, they have the same guitar, bass and drums formula we’re used to in doom metal (and other metal genres...) but they used their tools in a sprawling, almost funeral doom kind of way. It’s slow, brooding and thundering like an angry god.

It’s six songs for eighty minutes of music so put on your warmer socks since we’re going in cold. There’s no breaks either, they don’t let go and aren’t allowing you any toilet breaks. It’s a deluge (hehe, look at the artwork) of riffs, either slow, mid paced or sometimes even fast (!!!). The two shortest tracks, expertly placed in the middle of the album, showcases some faster riffs and the main melody of “Odds at Redemption” reminds me of Uncle Acid’s Blood Lust album but slowed the fucked down.

While still aiming at some sort of grandiose true traditional doom, I feel John the Baptist are also minimalist in nature. Things are kept rooted in aura of do it yourself-ness and relies entirely on the strength of their songwriting and musicianship while an airy and natural production engulfs everything. The guitars are heavy but relatively muddy (in a good way) and the drums are precise, loud and surprisingly subtle at times. The bass isn’t as hard as I was expecting but it’s filling the void with care. They let things breathe in the compositions and there’s a solemn atmosphere created by the simple yet catchy riffs here. There’s almost the same feel as on Evangelist’s outputs, it’s anti-Christian in a studious way. Even if they’re not epic doom like the Poles, there’s a few more epic moments such as the medieval war samples and the use of an organ on “A Glimpse of Valor” bringing more variety to the album.

The vocals are often the highlights in Finnish trad doom and while we’re not reaching the same high peaks as on the Hynninen albums (Reverend Bizarre, Spiritus Mortis) or even the ones fronted by Pesonen (The Wandering Midget or Serpent Warning), they’re pretty enjoyable. The deep, tenebrous and operatic vocals are well done and they’re somewhat under the waves, laying perfectly on the seabed.

Even if I’m a bit uncomfortable with some of the far right views the band could be linked to (Circle of Dawn, Nécropole, Finland’s black metal in general), this album is a gem of slow true doom metal and it’s great to know that this kind of stuff is still being created right now. It’s probably the best album of that specific niche to be released since Acolytes of Moros’ debut album. If your idea of good doom is fifteen minutes songs with a maximum of three or four riffs in each, buy this immediately.

Bandcamp

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

English Breakfast: An overview of Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom

 

Here's an overview of Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom's full length discography. This English duo deserves more attention, I've discovered them due to their 2020 extended play Kingdom of Killers to realise that their previous releases were also very interesting!

Droner (2003)

English Breakfast Chapter 1: The Eggs

The debut album of the duo built the foundations of what’s to come. They embody what I like in my metal as newly thirty year old man and I’ll explain why. It’s primitive and made in a vacuum by true connoisseurs of the underground who really don’t care about trends and fashion in the metal world.

Droner could be described as a mix of of doom, first wave black metal, heavy metal and while the crust elements aren’t as present as on other albums, it’s there. Think of Amebix combined with Cathedral and Venom. That’s a pretty fucking good English breakfast, lads. Their riffs are loud, primal but precise in their sloppiness. It’s like being stabbed by a pointy rusty dagger and left to bleed in a cold forest while the wolves gather around you. The vocals are rough and while somewhat in the background, they’re not an afterthought and they can be varied too. “Droner in the Fog” has clean vocals giving a quasi post punk feel mixed with epic metal when combined with the tasty guitars. It’s not epic like Virgin Steele talking about Greek or Roman mythology, it’s instead done in a pure English manner, it’s just men dying in the woods while their wives are cooking a stew they’ll never be able to eat.


Those dudes are good musicians too, the drumming on “Whispers of God” is creative and tight and the clean guitars almost bring a progressive folk tinge to their metal. There’s a few stoner elements too, especially in the bass playing and in a few particular songs such as “Hillfort Ghoul”, that’s possibly due to the omnipotence of Electric Wizard and Cathedral in England but regardless, it fits. Their hometown of Birmingham is also the birthplace of doom metal so being from Black Sabbath’s home turf must have some sort of mystical influence.

Throughout the short album, Acwealde and Wartooth were really capable to explore different tempos from fast, mid-paced to even slow. That’s a strong debut with all the elements of their identity already in place even if it’s the only one to feature some stoner metal parts.


Battle Staffs in the Mushroom Woods (2006)

English Breakfast Chapter 2: The Sausages


Battle Staffs in the Mushroom Woods (best album title of all time?) is the second album of our duo of merry gentlemen carousing through England under the name Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom and it’s a doozy. Compared to their debut (that I really liked), it’s more focused and clearer in its intents. There’s a beefier Celtic feel here and while it’s not exactly folk metal and it’s relatively subtle in its approach, it’s there. It’s irrevocably English in its nature, mixing the rawest and undisciplined side of NWOBHM with proto extreme metal to great effect. Think Motorhead slapping Skyclad because they’re nerds but still integrating a few hints of their sound.


Released the same year as Darkthrone’s The Cult is Alive, Bretwaldas are definitely contemporaries of the blackened punkier side of the much more famous duo but they’re so much more than that. They just happen to share a liking to old school crust punk. It reminds me of Toronto’s Demontage in the way they're primal, lo-fi metal with a lot of heart, inventiveness and authenticity. While the production values here are better, we’re still far from the saccharine and overproduced sound of big labels and I’m totally fine with that. It suits their meat pie sound very well.

They're like if The Meads of Asphodel were actually too busy drinking in pubs to go to partake in weird Medieval reenactment. They dream of the past while drunk at the bar before using the ale soaked broom as a bastard sword. They might get lost in the nearby forest afterwards or at least, that’s what I imagine drunk Englishmen do for fun. They eat fish and chips, drink beer, talk about olde kings and smoke cigarettes.

Those dudes aren’t parodies and they’re smarter than you may immediately think. Songs like “Paths of River, Root and Stone” conjures intricate but blue collar guitar leads while closer “Blood of Gods and Men” could easily be something from Bathory’s epic Viking metal albums. This track and the eight minute “Beneath the Eaves” are basically blackened epic doom and it’s fantastic.

The varied influences they were able to gather makes this album an intense and rewarding affair for experimented metal fans. They’re more interesting and rich that you’d think and they make Midnight sound like an amateurish one trick pony with only one or two ideas.



Seven Bloody Remparts (2010)

English Breakfast Chapter 3: The Beans


Seven Bloodied Remparts, the third (and last one for now) full length from Bretwaldas is perhaps the widest foray they made into black metal and it’s a bold attack. The diversity found in their discography is one of the most interesting aspects of the band. Even though, to the unfamiliar ear, they could be concluded to be similar albums, their stylistic progression twists and turns quite often but remains rooted in some sort of

This effort could be described as some sort of epic black/crust, the doom elements aren’t as prominent here as they used to be. They always had a focus on history, archaeology and mythology and that’s what we find here again. Wartooth (bass, vocals) is an archaeologist but he’s able to easily contextualize and simplify topics to make them appropriate for metal music. It’s somewhat influenced by pagan metal here and there but it’s transformed into English ugliness. They’re never as cheesy as fellow English bands Forefather or Wodensthrone as well, they never played folk/pagan metal outright but they definitely used some Viking bits in the guitar riffs. Based on the No Clean Singing interview they did this year, the fact that pagan metal was often associated to national socialism and other far right movements wasn’t something they were keen with, for good reasons. 

The atmosphere here is pretty epic and contains some worthy anthems. Songs like “Rise” or “Smite” have some singalong lyrics, something they never really did before. It’s fairly appropriate for the music showcased here. “Smite” reminds me of Ireland’s Primordial with its slightly Celtic guitar melodies and its violent but historical hymn mood. The vocals are gruff, rough and there’s no clean singing here, like the English countryside when it rains, it’s muddy and dirty and that’s often how I like my metal. Even if Bretwaldas are a DIY affair, they’re not amateurs, they know what they do and what to do to achieve their particular sound. One of my favourite aspects of the band is the quality and melodic feel of Acwealde’s guitar parts (see “Grey Wolf” for one of the best examples), it brings another level to their Celtic Frost plus Amebix dual identity.


Listen/support the band on Bandcamp

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Wytch Hazel – III: Pentecost / 95%

 

Humble and heavy


Wytch Hazel from Lancaster, England makes me want to start going to church for one of the first time since christmas 1995. I argued that I wanted to stay home to build the Lego pirate ship I got but my grand-mother insisted. I only did my catholic confirmation because it was expected of me and I got a shitload of Star Wars episode I toys but damn, those boys almost make me wish I still had faith. I’ve never liked preachy religious metal and mostly stayed away from anything Christian metal related but there’s something special with Wytch Hazel. I also rarely like happy stuff so that’s like two strikes against them already. Turns out they’re one of the best bands in the world right now.

I’ve been a big fan since their second album, the aptly titled II: Sojourn, an album I’d easily place in my top twenty of the last decade. It’s just astounding that their third album is at least just as good. They succeed at continuing their signature sound but with a few tweaks that makes this album a pure banger. Their blend of NWOBHM inspired heavy metal, heartfelt English folk rock, hard rock and pop is just so catchy and memorable, it hurts. They’re able to put Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, UFO, Fairport Convention and Judas Priest in the same meatpie and make it taste wonderfully by adding their own spices. Maybe they found the dried remains of Jesus and they’ve been sniffing that since 2011? Their main strength is how they’re so good at grabbing you while never letting you go, their songs are almost aggressive in the way they reel you in and writing such efficient earworms isn’t easy. One of the complaints people had concerning Sojourn was that the album had too many ballads (I didn’t mind much) but it’s not the same here. The album is tight and flows nicely and only has “The Crown” with its beautiful acoustic guitars as its true ballad. With that said, there's soft, romantic moments scattered throughout the album such as on “Reap the Harvest” with its “death is comiiiiiing” (appropriate for our current plague) chorus or the instrumental beauty of the interlude “Sonata”. It’s a forty-ish minutes album but it’s one you’ll replay until you sing their simple but potent lyrics all day long.


Pentecost also showcases their best and heaviest production to date. The guitars are heavier than on their sophomore too, they increased the heavy metalness in their sound to great results. There’s some dope solos like on “Spirit and Fire”. It’s played big, it’s entertaining and just fiery. Colin Hendra has a distinctive voice and he’s not pushing it too much, it’s quintessential English and there’s not a bad vocal line on the whole album. Wytch Hazel are great musicians who could easily overplay and enter progressive territories but they keep things subtle but grandiose, that’s probably their biggest strength. They have the ability to restrain t
hemselves while at the same time going all out. Still, it was nice to hear some mellotrons here and there (“I Am Redeemed”), it gave the band a fuller sound.

A song like “I Will Not” (perhaps my favourite
on the album) is immediate and outstanding while the album wastes no time and gives us the riffs right when “He is the Fight” starts. The band gives us a few moments to breathe but ultimately, it’s a full experience without any faults and failures.

Even if I’ve always been somewhat uncomfortable with their Christian themes, they use them with such panache that I now have no problems with the band. I think it helps that it’s rooted in medieval themes, it feels antiquated in a good way and doesn’t remind me of the woes religions caused and are causing today. It’s an album full of feelsy melodies and it’s great for the time we’re in right now. It’s humble, hardworkin’ and just plain excellent.


Bandcamp

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Nachtstille – The Inquisition of Death (2020) / 90%

 


The only Inquisition we need in 2020

Nachtstille (nocturnal silence) is a new project formed by Brendan Radigan (Magic Circle, Torture Chain, Mind Eraser...), his wife Kim Mercado and US east coast music engineer Trevor Vaughan. This three track demo released by the always excellent Tour de Garde (seminal local label for me) explores a sort of black metal that’s very close to my heart and does it with a lot of care and strength.

Three long-ish songs make up the release and I just end up wishing for more after it’s done. There’s a sense of epicness found within their atmospheres and it’s expansive without being overbearing or dull. It’s taking the old sensibilities of Emperor sans the corniness and adding a fair share of occult medieval influences. At times, it almost reminds me of a Cascadian take on the middle-age witchcraft slow dirges of Cultes des Ghoules and I mean, that’s incredible. The keyboards are loud but they bring this DIY, Summoning-ish feel I really liked, especially when it sounds like an organ like on the first track. It can be chaotic (in a good way) when combined with the fast drumming and the epic, incisive but melodic guitar tremolos but there’s a lot of time to let the whole thing breathe as well. Compared to Radigan’s “main” black metal project Torture Chain, this isn’t oppressive and as experimental in its sonic darkness but there’s the same odd deeply attractive charm. That quality can be expressed through beautiful moments found mostly through the intertwining of the powerful guitars and the sometimes subtle but often vividly present keys. Lastly, the vocals (Mercado) are subdued but effective as this sort of background ghastly presence. Not a highlight but it works well for their black metal approach and it could recall a sort of hellish take on Jeanne d’Arc or the many witches that were burned alive.

Nachtstille has the ability to channel highly epic and atmospheric black metal that’s able to be both bombastic and viscerally raw at the same time. The Inquisition of Death is close to symphonic black metal but it was thankfully made without the big budget of a band signed to Nuclear Blast or Century Media. It’s inspired and powerful material influenced by what could be considered cheesy 90s black metal that’s not too afraid to incorporate modern yet primitive elements recalling dungeon synth, raw black and epic medievalism. Outstanding. Everything Radigan touches turns to gold.

Friday, 4 September 2020

The Baguette Doom Series XIX and XX - Le Strasbourg Spécial with Monoatomic God - Astronaut Witch Bootcamp (2020) & Dionysiaque - Dionysiaque (2018)

 

Monoatomic God - Astronaut Witch Bootcamp (2020) / 75%

The Baguette Doom Series pt. XIX: Strasbourg I


The oddly named quartet impressed the hell out of me when I was working on the undying Band Queue of the Metal Archives and I knew I had to tackle their debut release for my Baguette Doom series. The band guided by the powerful vocals of Laetitia Convertini (great Astérix name!) was able to bring three condensed, strong but atmospheric nuggets of groovy doom/stoner on Astronaut Witch Bootcamp.

While probably inspired by the spacey themes and name of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard (or maybe a stoner metal name generator, who knows?), the French band doesn’t mess around with long psychedelic movements and approaches things differently. There’s still some cosmic touches here and there such as the synths on “Effroyable Sphère” or “Funeral Orbiter” but the songs are mid-paced and dynamic with riff driven tempos. In spirit, I was reminded of High Priest of Saturn but without the Om/Sleep worshiping. I’m surely mistaking here but the mix of ethereal female vocals with a psychedelic doom vibe reminded me of the Norwegian band. Monoatomic God incorporates strong 70s vibes in their blend too (Deep Purple, Rush?) with modern stoner sensibilities and it works pretty damn well. Sure, proto-metal plus stoner isn’t new (Spiritual Beggars, The Sword) but I felt their formula was fresh and somewhat exciting, especially for a debut extended play. Don’t expect something like Windhand or even Blackwater Holylight either, it’s not that sort of trance inducing doom/stoner with dreamy, fey vocals. We’re in groovy tight doom territories, the energy, the type of riffing and the vocal delivery reminds me of Castle as well and that’s certainly a good thing.

All in all, Monoatomic God delivers the goods on their debut EP, it’s hard rockin’ doom/stoner with strong melodies, catchy and well delivered vocals and a legit familiar but enjoyable spacey atmosphere. I’m stoked to hear more from them.

Monoatomic God on Bandcamp


Dionysiaque – Dionysiaque (2018) / 85%

The Baguette Doom Series pt. XIX: Strasbourg II

Probably named after the philosophical ideas (from Nietzsche) rather than a reference to Dionysos, the god of wine, Dionysiaque are one hell of a band and they're much too sad to be about parties and celebrations. Their first release comes off as a strong foray into traditional doom territories with overt dark atmospheres. Like some other French bands like Barabbas, they’re able to create a fairly unique take on a genre that’s too often at ease with worshiping the greats.

While their riffs are very good and the two guitars do bring an extra oomph to their compositions, their moods are perhaps the best thing about them. They have this occult, crypt feel akin to the best style of black metal. Some riffs (check out “Doctor Kerjentsev”) can almost bring us back to the proto extreme metal days (see Mortuary Drape, Celtic Frost) in their execution. The first two tracks (about four minutes each) are mid paced goodness while the third brings us something more solemn and slower but still full of fucking heavy riffs. The vocals of Nathaniel Colas are extremely good and fits the intent of the band like a glove. He alternates between some madmen cavernous clean chanting and some more putrid harsher tones. He sounds like he’s underground while the rest of the band is vanquishing the undead in the graveyard. I'm not asking for much more in life.

I don’t usually like cover songs but Dionysiaque picked an interesting one from an obscure 70s English band called Tractor. The hard rockin’ vibes fits their style well and it’s a cool ending for the demo, it's full of catchiness while having a quasi goth rock vibe, very nice. I’m pretty sure their debut full length will propel them to the doom metal Mount Olympus. Essential demo.

Dionysiaques on Bandcamp