Here at Don't Count On It Reviews, you can read reviews from different artists from different styles.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Servile Sect - Realms of The Queen (2011)

Band: Servile Sect
Country: Tempe, Arizona
Style: Experimental/Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Ecstatic Peace

Servile Sect is a band I've read some cool stuff about and have wanted to check out for a little while. Having, previous to this review, heard their last album, 2010's "Eternal Mind," I was interested in what else these guys could do. I am aware that this album has been out for a while, and I plan to review the new one as well, but I kind of wanted to do this one for a while.
I've come to expect that if you're in the market for black metal, or at least a band that has a semblance to the original form of the genre, Servile Sect is not for you. It's hard to really pigeon hole the band as they are so versatile in their craft, melding black metal with elements of drone, shoegaze, ambient, and noise together in ways that are unlike any other group. For the most part their sound, on here anyways, is based out of distorted black metal vocals being done over the styles I just mentioned. Black metal is not performed in the standard way either, with opener Only The Sky Is Gentle is an example where you have black metal being performed by a keyboard instead of guitar.
Each track on here really brings something different to the table. It's pretty interesting to go through each track and really think about what you're hearing, cause everything from background noises and ambiance to over driven guitars and processed vocals are used, to varying degrees of effect, in my opinion. There are some moments on here that make me think of Njiqahdda, hear Burning Season, for some reason, it's interesting and possibly the only comparison I can make to another band. There are moments on here that feel a lot more like post-punk or even new wave music, for some reason to me, and it really brings an interesting mood to the album. Possibly the only "black metal" song you will hear on here is the closer, Universe and Self, Sender and Receiver, which is still far from being a normal metal song, but as close as you're gonna get on here.
Overall, this was a decent album, not my favorite, but still very good. I know I'm not as much of a fan of experimental music as a lot of people are, but I still enjoyed some of this album. Check this out if you're in the market for some weird, psychedelic, black metal.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Stabbing Through, The Howling Abyss, Universe and Self, Sender and Receiver

Njiqahdda - Parallaxis EP (2011)

Band: Njiqahdda
Country: Illinois
Style: Progressive Black Metal
Label: EEE Recordings

That's right, mere weeks after I've reviewed both the new Njiqahdda and Oaks of Bethel records, and we have another release from the progressive black metal duo. This new EP supposedly takes their sound back a little bit from the technical side that was utilized on their last full-length. Like most of their releases, I eagerly awaited hearing this until I finally got it in the mail.
I guess the first thing that I noticed on here compared to other albums, even their early material, was how loud and clear the drums were; but to be fair the drumming has always been unique and interesting, but on here, in my opinion, it's probably their best production on them. I don't know what people will come into this expecting, and to be fair, a fan of the band should know better by now to expect the band to go into different areas, but this sound is much more melodic than even a release like last year's "Valsuaarpormiis" EP. In all honesty, where I said "The Path of Liberation From Birth and Death" was probably one of the worst places to start your listening experiences with the band, this is probably one of the best. The melodies are a lot more palatable and graspable to an average listener, and are quite memorable as well. There are also notable influences from classical, or symphonic, music on here, most notably on Spiral Flare, the piano lines on both tracks on here are simply fantastic, and easily beat anything bands like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth have done in the last decade.
This is a very good release, I don't know if you can expect the band to move into a direction like this on their next release, but it's a great place to start your listening experience with them. Now, I'll admit that I've liked some of the duo's previous work better, I'm sure this is common for anyone, but this stands up with some of the best, no doubt. Compared to a lot of other EPs that I've checked out this year, this is easily one of the best, definitely check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Parallaxis

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ignis Divine - Creatures of The Abyssal Depths (2011)

Band: Ignis Divine
Country: Volos, Greece
Style: Dark Ambient/Industrial
Label: Section XIII˙.˙COMA

Time for another dark ambient album, but a little different than the last one. Yes, I'm sure some people don't care for the genre, but it has its place and is worth just as much time as other styles. It's interesting to me how ambient records can sometimes have more metal sounding record titles than metal bands.
What I tend to think of dark ambient music is, is what you'll find on here. There's no real track on here that attempts to sound bright or full of light, only dark atmosphere with mechanical noise in the background or haunting Gregorian-influenced chanting. The few moments where a more calming sense appears can be heard on a track like A Dream of Liberation, where the sounds are much more entrancing and almost melodic. I found that different tracks also had their own qualities to them, where it wasn't just a similar sounding vibe on each track, the swirling synthe on Nascent Requiem really differs from the simplicity of the opener, At The Propylons of Shambalah, or really any other track.
Unlike a lot of other dark ambient music that I've heard, there's a real emotional weight that this album carries, with a track like Entrance to The Gate Down Below really sounding massive and dark. Each track on here carries with it something unique and whether that's a more mechanical/industrial vibe to it which adds a much more eerie or a much more authentic ambient calm. I did find that the last few songs on here didn't carry the same weight as earlier tracks, but contained a much more melancholic vibe than earlier ones, so trade one for the other.
Overall, I thought this was a cool album, full of lots of interesting ideas and sounds. I have to say it again, when I think of dark ambient music, these are the sounds that usually come into my head. Definitely check this out if you're looking for some dark, atmospheric soundscapes.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Dust to Dust, Nascent Requiem, Where The Sun Cannot Reach

Daina Dieva - Leaving The Garden (2011)

Band: Daina Dieva
Country: Lithuania
Style: Dark Ambient/Drone
Label: Section XIII˙.˙COMA

I'm not the biggest fan of dark ambient music, though I do find it actually quite appealing, from the little bit that I've heard. The few artists that I can actually say I enjoy listening to do create interesting soundscapes and odd noises that are captivating. So this new album from Daina Dieva does interest that side of me, plus the album title is pretty cool and dark sounding too.
The soft and somber sounds that open this album really bring an interesting sense of calm that I didn't expect to occur so suddenly after I pressed the play button. Waiting For The Snow just soothed me to no end with it's clever use of chiming chords and darker synthe work in the underbelly of the track. As the album progresses though, this sense of pure ambiance gives way to a more neo-classical and darkwave influence. The ambiance remains, but the female chanting really brings that sort of air to the record that can really take over the record if you let it.
I really liked the turn this album took on the title-track, Leaving The Garden, how from the quiet and calming ambient sounds, it now moved into a darker and more drone sound. Sure, a lot of this track is still in the realms of being ambient, but it's probably the darkest of the four tracks on the album, remaining very minimal and bleak. I really enjoyed how this track really just went from the dark ambient drones into that darkwave sort of chanting with much more sharp and precise sounds coming in the background and then into the cleaner and more pretty sounds of the first track to finish it off. This track is pretty much the essential one for the album, it has elements of the other three tracks all melded together.
When you look at the album as a whole, it's well constructed, but I feel like the weight that the title-track carries is a little too much, it could have been stretched out and made into a full album on it's own, but that's not really a complaint. I did enjoy this album, it was calming and soothing, but had enough of that bite with the chanting to really keep my attention. I'd recommend this to anyone that feels a need to listen to some new dark ambient music.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: Leaving The Garden

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ponytail - Do Whatever You Want All The Time! (2011)

Band: Ponytail
Country: Baltimore, Maryland
Style: Art/Noise Rock
Label: We Are Free

Time for another interesting noise rock band that I've heard good things about. Personally, as you can probably already see from the growing number of reviews that aren't metal this week, I've been listening to a little bit more of this stuff. I've had some friends who are fans of this band tell me they're good, so I figure I'll listen to it and see what all the hype is about.
From the little bit of information my friends had told me about this band before I decided to listen to it, I could immediately tell that this would be little different for me. The vocalist sings without using real words, making use of more sounds and noises rather than any sort of language. The music, which I was under the impression of being loud and distorted, was not, being rather controlled and melodic sounding. I didn't really know that this album was going to have as electronic a sound as it does, like on Beyondersville/Flight of Fance, which is really based more on samples and weird organ sounds. A lot of this stuff I could actually imagine seeing, or hearing to be precise, in a video game.
Despite all the above and any preconceived notions I had had about this band coming into this record were laid to rest by the time the second track, Flabbermouse, started. This album has a much more surf rock kind of tone to it, instead of the noise rock one. In all honesty, the most memorable part of this band is the instrumentation, which ranges from melodic and poppy to sort of spastic and bizarre. It's definitely nowhere near as noisy or aggressive as I had imagined it to be, though I'll admit that some moments where probably just as grating as I had thought, AwayWay.
To be frank, I didn't really enjoy this album all that much, it wasn't bad, it just didn't do all that much for me. Some of the melodies on here were really good and catchy, but to counter it, some of the vocals were just annoying and some of the electronics were grating. I'd recommend this if you're into experimental rock, but otherwise I don't think you're missing out on much.
Overall Score: 5
Highlights: Honey Touches, Tush

Parts and Labor - Constant Future (2011)

Band: Parts and Labor
Country: Brooklyn, New York
Style: Noise Rock/Pop
Label: Jagjaguwar Records

This is an album that I've been interested in covering for a little while, I had heard some cool stuff from the album and I was intrigued. Then, other things came up and I got a bunch of other albums to review, so this kind of fell to the wayside. Well, now I'm taking the time to finally listen to it.
The songs I had heard prior to finally listening to this whole thing really intrigued me with how different they sounded compared to a lot of other noise rock bands I have heard. The sounds that I heard were a lot more playful and electronic sounding, at times very childish, but it really drew me in with how sharp it all sounded, hear tracks like A Thousand Roads. This was really different for me, as the vocals also sounded a lot more tuneful and were done in a very nice crooning style that really was the icing on the cake, in my opinion. A lot of these songs are short and to the point, you won't hear a lot of excessive playing or soloing on here, it's very structured, but catchy.
There's something very odd about this band, which is probably why I enjoyed most of what was done on here. I often imagined a child playing in a room full of toys and machines while I was listening to this, cause it was very melodic and upbeat sounding but it always sounded like it could just go off the deep end into a surge of feedback and noise at any point. Despite all that, it's still very much a pop album, no matter how noisy it eventually gets, and tracks like Skin and Bones or Without A Seed definitely prove that. Now, I have to say that while the beginning of this album is great, tracks like opener Fake Names and the title-track Constant Future are great and catchy, the album kind of wears on you near the end, and songs just are not as memorable as earlier tracks. Not every track at the end is bad, Bright White has a great, heavy bassline, but a lot of songs are just sort of there, nothing special.
Now, this is a good record, I want to make the perfectly clear, I enjoyed listening to this. I have to say again that this album has a great start, unfortunately it kind of wears thin near the end, which is what kind of lowers the score. I'm hopeful that if you like experimental pop or rock music, you'll give this a go, cause it's worth hearing.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Constant Future, Pure Annihilation, Neverchanger

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Draugen - Among The Lonely Shades (2011)

Band: Draugen
Country: Lorraine, France
Style: Black Metal
Label: Ancestrale Production

Time for some French black metal, in my opinion, a scene with some of the most productive bands out there right now. Whether it's new bands, like this one, or older, I won't mention any names, you know who they are, there's always been a certain air about them that separated them from the rest of the pack. The French scene has always been one that has almost never let me down, so I'm hoping for the same results with this debut.
If what you're looking for on a black metal is straight ahead riffing, you won't find it on here. If you're looking for atmosphere encompassing everything, you won't find it on here either. To be honest, I'm a little conflicted on what this band is trying to do on here. The duo make a nice attempt at trying to blend atmospheric, melodic, progressive, and post-black metal together into their own blend, but I'm not sure the result was what it probably could, or should, have come out as. Influences come out quite easily, as the Shining sound is definitely one of the more prominent elements you'll hear used on here, Wolves Howl Again. There's also quite a depressive vibe going on in some of the vocals, which is not nearly as annoying as you might think, because it is not the prominent style on here, The Time of Sadness Is Coming.
I feel that this duo have a nice hold on what sound their going for, it's melodic and atmospheric, but a little more experimental, willing to make use of more acoustic led passages and catchy melodies, but the production on here just makes things a little difficult to really grab hold of. I feel like most of the album is just drenched in this sort of fog that makes it a bit hard to really grab ahold of a certain idea and really say, "Oh, I get what they're doing now." Though the album did get both better and more consistent, or cleaner if you will, hear album closer Forgotten Times for a good example, I still found that the ideas shown in the first half were much more original, despite being more obscured.
While I find that this album's best ideas are obscured underneath a rather hazy production, the better songs are cleaner, but not as original sounding. This duo does have potential, but this album just doesn't exhibit enough of it spread throughout each song to really grab me. If you're into black metal that does some exploration of different genres, I would suggest you check this out and make your own assumptions about these guys.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: The Time of Sadness Is Coming, Alone In The Land of Frost, Forgotten Times

Signum: Karg - Chöre Aus Dem Schlund Der Zeit (2011)

Band: Signum: Karg
Country: Freiburg/Offenburg, Germany
Style: Progressive Black Metal
Label: Fog of The Apocalypse

I'm reviewing this because I saw a cover that looked bleak and grim and made me think Enslaved for some reason. Sure, the German black metal scene is really good at the moment, but I'm curious as to just how many bands I can find that are actually good, to me anyways. Four songs, epic lengths, why not give it a shot?
It's obvious from the start that these guys want to be progressive, they want to be in the same league as the heavyweights like Enslaved or Odem Arcarum. There's a very traditional sense to the riffing, but there's also plenty of melody and spastic technical wizardry going on throughout as well. It's a nice balance of being melodic and progressive, but it's not so out-there, if that's what you're worried about, that it goes into wank territory, despite the neo-classical vibe on Steinerne Erhabenheit. you'll You can hear the left-field melodies and the nice bass work in the background, but what does it all amount to in the end?
After listening to this album, I don't feel like I experienced anything I couldn't get from the bands mentioned above, performed better as well. This is by no means generic or lazaly performed, it just doesn't feel original to me, and for some reason, that really made this record a bit of a chore to listen to, I hate to say. While some moments do stick out, Grabermoor is by far the best song on here, the record as a whole just didn't do much for me. In all honesty, these guys have all the right elements that would normally appeal to me, but for some reason, it just wasn't clicking here.
Overall, it's an alright record, there's actually nothing wrong with it whatsoever, I just couldn't get into it. There's some great ideas and some nice atmospheres, the productions a little rough, but it works. If you want to hear something that sounds like a younger version of the bands mentioned above, check this out.
Overall Score: 5.5
Highlights: Grabermoor

Friday, May 27, 2011

Benighted In Sodom - Reverse Baptism (2011)

Band: Benighted In Sodom
Country: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Style: Atmospheric/Post-Black Metal
Label: BadMoodMan

Matron Thorn is a man who has quite a knack for writing and creating some cool music. Since it's inception back in 2004, BIS has released several albums, all moving into a more original style. Since this album's release, Thorn has already released another full-length, "A Resplendent Starless Darkness," which I plan on reviewing some time next month.
Slowly, with each release, Thorn has been moving into a more post-black metal sound and away from the depressive/atmospheric sounds of his past. This album, along with the "Fort Lauderdale" album show some of his best explorations into that sound yet. Influences from gothic and darkwave music both appear quite frequently on here, along with the black metal sounds of course, but the atmosphere is quite different to that of almost any other band I've heard, especially within metal. I think it has to be said that this album is best heard at night, it's mood is perfect for a rainy night with darkened skies. A lot of these songs are done at a more mid-paced to slower tempo which really helps create a mood. For me, the most emotional moment on this album occurs on track three, Try to Forget Us, which shows a large amount of a gothic music influence, making use of more electronic elements and harmonized baritone vocals.
Most of these songs are really melancholic and depressing, as it stands, his attachment to that depressive scene is much more minimal than ever before, with songs on here showing a much more progressive edge to them. The two part Ocean show that the best on here, easily being the most adventurous in their structures. While most of these songs are far from being structured like a pop song, all of them do make use of a singular riff that is quite memorable and is used as sort of the focal point of a song. While the mood on here seems to be more of an attention grabber, for me anyway, rather than the riffs, I'd still say that the overall songs never give way to pure dark ambient or gothic metal.
So I guess the big question is, did I enjoy this? Well, yes and no, the songs themselves aren't bad, not at all, but I've already heard, and reviewed the two longest tracks on the album when they were released on the "Ocean EP," but the newer songs are all very well done as well. I'd definitely say this is a step up in the right direction for Matron Thorn. Check this out if you're into experimental black metal, and I'll leave it at that.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Sweetness Deprived, Try to Forget Us, Ocean II

Avulse - I Am The Liquor (2011)

Band: Avulse
Country: Brewer, Maine
Style: Black Metal
Label: Independent

Getting back into the swing of things, metal reviews anyway, I might as well tackle something new to me. I've never heard of Avulse before, though I have seen the last album, 2009's "Granted But Grace From This World," in passing, I've never listened to any of it. From the cover and title alone, I have some cool ideas as to what this could be.
No messing around on here, absolutely none, this thing is dirty, abusive, and punishing in its approach to black metal. When you open an album with a track like Maker's March, which is a minute and a half of blast-beating distorted fury, it becomes hard to not at least think that you're going to have a bruise when the entire album is done. This album doesn't hold any punches, making it clear that this is meant to be a punk-influenced, black metal album, hear the closing cover of Jawbreaker's Kiss The Bottle.
The one-man approach to black metal can be a double-sided coin that either works in an albums, or bands, advantage or against them, unfortunately what on here is the latter. While some tracks on here are well done, Your Blood, My Bidet being a nice example of well structured, short and catchy songs, a lot of this album is just far too under produced and noisy to come off sounding good. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good, noisy album, but when the programmed drumming sounds both louder and clearer than the guitars, I feel a little put off. In my opinion, the attempt at trying to sound more psychedelic or atmospheric on the second half of Naked In Flame/Black Heaven, just should have been omitted from the album, it feels really out of place and is just full of pot holes that were quite irksome.
I really wish I could have liked this album more, but it just sounds way too under produced and noisy for what I believe Diseased is going for. There's just way too many parts that sound like mistakes were made or where production differs from each other. There are some decent songs on here, but for every one, there appears to be one to counter it. Check this out if you're into noisy, somewhat atmospheric black metal, but otherwise, it's not essential.
Overall Score: 4
Highlights: Vacant, No Womb From Which to Tear, Midnight In Bayside/These Streets Lead Nowhere

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Psychic Paramount - II (2011)

Band: The Psychic Paramount
Country: New York City, New York
Style: Psychedelic/Noise Rock
Label: No Quarter

I'm sure that over the past few days of reviews, some of you have seen that I do intend to bring this blog out of pure metal and include some other styles as well. I've known about this album for a little while and have finally decided to give it a spin. How could I resist an album with a cover that reminds me so much of The Doors, for some reason or another.
I'm a huge fan of music from the 60s and 70s, and I am a fan of groups that can take me back to those sorts of sounds. With opener, Intro_SP, this trio immediately just blast into a trippy psyche-rock jam. I love how the drums keep this very jittery groove going throughout while the guitar and bass move from actual riffs into more soundscapes. I rather enjoyed the fact that these guys don't so much create songs as much as these seem more like ideas that just develop into long jams. It's songs like Ddb that just really take you in and just take you on a journey into the band's unique world of psychedelia.
The musicianship of each of these guys is great, and each track really gives you something a little bit different. Some tracks really have a more guitar, rock guitar, oriented sound, the aforementioned Intro_SP, while a track like N6_Isolated brings out a more post-rock guitar sound, with some great drumming behind it before escalating into noise rock during some sections. I found that the loudest, and most "rock" track was N5, which just opens up with a great drum fill before running into post-rock sounding territory. The jazzy closer, N5.Coda, also brings some cool ideas to the table, with possibly the best bassline on the album.
This is a really solid album, though one that isn't all that memorable. I could definitely see other people digging into this a lot more than me, as well as people who will definitely like this more than me, but I can only speak for myself. I would definitely recommend this to people who enjoy the whole jam band kind of thing, but also like it to be a bit more contained sounding.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: N5, N6_Isolated

Touché Amoré - Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me (2011)

Band: Touché Amoré
Country: Los Angeles, California
Style: Screamo
Label: Deathwish

Last year was really the first time I had begun to explore screamo music, or at least the real screamo genre. I can recall when I first started getting into music and I was listening to what could be referred to as mainstream screamo, I won't mention any bands here, but later fell out of love with the style. Having found quite a few good groups within the genre, and having heard some good comments about Touché Amoré, I decided to check out this new album.
This album is quite impressive, honestly, all but one song is under two minutes, yet there's a great amount of effort in having plenty of hooks in each track. The melodies are great and the sound is exploratory and constantly changing from aggressive distortion to soft and calming cleans. Everything is done with such energy, but plenty of expertise in the craft of each of these songs, which I don't hear all that often when a band makes songs this short, tracks like The Great Repetition or Crutch are two of many examples of this. Something I enjoy about screamo is the authenticity that I can hear in the vocalists, it's clear in here, but is seldom actually felt in metal vocalists.
For some reason, a lot of the screamo bands I get turned onto have elements of post-rock, note I said most, not all, and this one is no exception. A lot of tracks on here either have melodies that I could hear in a group like Explosions In The Sky, or go into softer sections that really emphasize that sort of hushed melodic guitar sound instead of the abrasive tone they usually use. I'd say what's on here is probably one of the best mixes of the two, aggressive and soft tones, I've heard in a while, because each track really brings forth a very different vibe to each section, but it never feels forced or rushed in any way.
This is a great album, to put it simply. This band does more in twenty minutes than most bands do with double that length, in terms of albums. I highly recommend checking this out if you're at all interested in hearing some unique screamo, post-rock stuff, you will not be disappointed.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Pathfinder, Method Act, Home Away From Here

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Young Widows - In and Out of Youth and Lightness (2011)

Band: Young Widows
Country: Louisville, Kentucky
Style: Post-Hardcore/Noise Rock
Label: Temporary Residence

Pretty much since their inception I've heard nothing but good things being said about the trio that is Young Widows. I kind of wish I had listened to them back when I first heard about them instead of ignoring them, than I would feel like I could really speak as knowledgeably as some of my friends who do. So, this is really my first "real" experience with the band as I've only heard a few songs in passing.
I'm not sure if I've ever said this in a review before but I love a band, or album, that has a great bass tone. The sort of rubbery and bouncy sounding bass that works well in both heavy and mellow parts is something I would honestly like to hear more of in music in general, but is sadly resigned to very little of what I actually listen to. This band, if you haven't already figured out where this was going, has that great tone and is used greatly, it really just grabbed me by the collar and made me bounce along with it. It may come as a surprise that bass is much more dominant on here than the guitar is, with guitar lines coming in more so as to reinforce a part or to add a little extra flavor to a groove.
I found it actually hard to take this seriously while reviewing it, in the sense that the sounds coming from this album are just so fun compared to almost everything else I've ever reviewed I couldn't help but just smile at some points, In and Out of Lightness. A lot of these song just carry themselves with this sense of coolness and almost swagger that just really prop this album up. The energy is always going, much like a punk album in a lot of ways, but is a lot more controlled and focused than a lot of straight ahead punk bands are, hear a track like Lean On The Ghost or Miss Tambourine Wrist. I don't really know what it is that makes this album just so passionate and fun, but I enjoy it.
This is an album that definitely has a lot of great songs, not so much riffs, but songs. There's just a lot of really great tracks on here that just got stuck in my head. If you like your rock music with a nice dose of experimentalism and groove, this should be high up on your priority list for music.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Future Heart, Miss Tambourine Wrist, In and Out of Youth

The Skull Defekts - Peer Amid (2011)

Band: The Skull Defekts
Country: Göteborg, Sweden
Style: Experimental/Noise Rock
Label: Thrill Jockey

As with any normal person, the magic and charm of listening to a certain style of music wears off the more you listen to it. Being brought up around metal, I think it was quite a logical step for me to make to want to explore other territories of music, noise rock being one that's fairly new to me. From the few bands that I've heard, I am impressed by the raw approach to it as well as the experimental nature of the groups I've listened to thus far.
Right from the start this thing is engaging and interesting. The title-track, Peer Amid, serves up a great slab of syncopated, noisy rock that just brings so much, in terms of sound, to the table. There's something about this song, really the entire album, that has this very hypnotic effect, I enjoy the very tribal drumming throughout the disc, though I've heard others say it ruins it for them, I find it to really enhance the album. The bass work on here is really good too, in my opinion it really keeps the band locked into hypnotic grooves. The band's flirtations with drone music also come out on here as well, with Fragrant Nimbus really throwing out any sort of preconceived idea at trying to make a song catchy, this isn't a drone song though, there are just elements of it in there.
The band do still have their pop sensibilities showing through on here though, so it's not all left-field sounding noise rock. Tracks like No More Always or Join The True really have a simplified, for them anyway, structure which doesn't deviate too much from a straightforward pop song; but even these songs bring in some interesting sounds, background chanting, metallic crashes, and odd synthe lines all going on behind the main instrumentation. If you're looking for the band at their weirdest, on here, The Silver River is what takes the cake with the tribal drumming going on under everything from surf rock riffs, white noise and feedback, metallic scratching, and vocal moaning.
Overall, it's an odd album, one that isn't that easy to really get into, entirely anyway. There are some moments on here where the band totally check all the boxes in terms of being catchy and different while others feel like experiments than actual songs, but take what you will from it. If you're into experimental rock, or noise rock, definitely look out for this one.
Overall Score: 7.5
Highlights: Peer Amid, What Knives, What Birds, Hidden Hymn

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Panda Bear - Tomboy (2011)

Band: Panda Bear
Country: Baltimore, Maryland
Style: Art/Psychedelic Pop
Label: Paw Tracks

I wonder how many people thought that this would ever be posted on here. I have wanted to cover this for a little while, what with all the press it's getting, I'm still hearing more mixed reviews from the sources I take seriously. I've listened and enjoyed Animal Collective, Panda Bear's main band if you didn't know, but I've never really listened to his solo music until now.
As soon, and I'm talking like once you press play here, as You Can't Count On Me starts I got a huge new wave vibe from it. The Beach Boys influence comes through quite clearly on a lot of these tracks as well, the vocal melody on Surfer's Hymn just screams it. This album just has that huge, incredibly layered sound that just lends itself toward being a headfuck, but it also has plenty of those catchy vocal hooks and dancy beats to really make it poppy. Personally, I love when things sort of die down and a more ambient sort of passage opens up and really just lets all these different sounds come by slowly, Benfica, as compared to tracks where you'll have several things all going on at the same time, Last Night At The Jetty.
Honestly, I can't really stress enough how textured this thing is. Almost every track on here has dozens of things you could listen for, cause some things go by so quick it's hard to even know they're even there. Scheherezade is one of the few tracks that is more atmospheric and simplified in it's choice of sounds, remaining very quiet and spacey for most of its duration. Now this, for the most part, is a keyboard and synthe dominated album with only vocals, which have so many harmonies and effects on them anyway, and guitar being the only thing not coming from a computer and to some extent, it can be a bit overwhelming. Electronic music is all well and good, I enjoy a good portion of it now and then, but that's meant to be digital and processed, to me, this should have more of a realistic quality to it, but then again, maybe it was meant to sound like a computer for all I know.
Maybe I'm just not getting all the hype that I've read from some of the more "indie" crowd on this album. I mean, this thing is ok, there are some really cool and solid songs on here, but it just didn't do much for me. If you want to check out some really cool, trippy pop music, check this and Animal Collective out.
Overall Score: 6
Highlights: Tomboy, Alsatian Darn, Benfica

Neal Morse - Testimony Two (2011)

Band: Neal Morse
Country: Nashville, Tennessee
Style: Symphonic/Progressive Rock
Label: InsideOut Music

If you're at all familiar with the prog rock scene of the last twenty years or so I'm sure I don't need to explain to you who Neal Morse is. In his long career, releasing several high quality albums both on his own and in his former group Spock's Beard, he's a well respected member of the prog community to say the least. So here we are, eight years later, with part two of his first solo record, or his first solo PROG record to be precise, expectations are high.
Now, I don't know what anyone coming into this should expect, but it's certainly more in line with the original "Testimony" album in that you have shorter songs making up a suite, as opposed to the extended pieces that usually top twenty minutes. This has all the typical Neal Morse sounds you've come to expect, the great Hammond organ sounds, great proggy hard rock riffs, soaring choruses, and structures that go just about every which way possible. Now, pretty much everything on here is the standard high quality grade, but the lyrics are still the stuff that aren't really my cup of tea, the likes of Jesus Bring Me Home are just plain bad in my opinion, even if they are part of the grand concept, but I'd still listen to this over his straight-ahead christian rock albums. In all honesty this is like some sort of gospel story or church sermon, lyrically, which isn't my thing, but like I said, again and again, I'm more for the music than the lyrics. Being a double-album, again, that's not really new if you're a fan, but to me anyway, listening to albums that top the regular eighty minutes can grow tiresome, especially if you're listening straight through from start to finish.
It's really hard to argue with the main trio who performs on here, Mike Portnoy on drums, Randy George on bass, and of course Neal Morse on keys, guitar, and vocals. It's hard to argue with the trio's compatibility when listening to tracks like the metal-tinged Time Changer, the bluesy Nighttime Collectors, or smooth jazz elements on Crossing Over - Mercy Street Revisited. The playing contains all of the above, and more mind you, but just has a great, positive vibe to it, a track like Jesus' Blood really just keeps building up and up till a great gospel ending that really just got me on the edge of my seat. Sure, there are still those elements of classic prog bands that show through, Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, but they're all performed and outdone by the moments that sound only like Neal. But of course it wouldn't be a Neal Morse album without an epic on it, hence the majority of the second disc of this album, the twenty-plus Seeds of Gold, that does pretty much everything you'd expect it to, it's proggy, somewhat jammy, and really heady and melodic. That epic also has a guest solo from Steve Morse, so just try and mess with that.
Overall, I enjoyed this album, it's not great, I've liked other records Neal's done better, but this one's still a solid release. Definitely more digestible than a record like "Sola Scriptura," and a lot more memorable. Definitely check this out if you're into progressive rock, but if you are, you probably already know about Neal so I don't have to tell you.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Time Changer, Chance of A Lifetime, Crossing Over - Mercy Street Revisited, Supernatural

Monday, May 23, 2011

Circles - The Compass EP (2011)

Band: Circles
Country: Melbourne, Australia
Style: Progressive Metal
Label: Basick Records

When it comes to djent, because this band is placed in that genre too, there's quite a large spectrum of bands. Sure, there are bands that are more inclined to groove, but then you have bands that lean more toward the prog metal. Circles is one of those bands that lies in between, carving their own little niche.
Unlike a lot of newer bands in the djent scene, Circles rely more on melody more so than their piers, but still provide plenty of groovy riffs as well. They have the precision to go out into tech metal/prog metal territory while still providing a great head-bobbing groove, demonstrated in The Design. Another thing they have going for them is the fact that their vocalist sounds more like an adult than a kid singing, no offence to people who like that stuff, cause I like it too, but this guy has more of a Mike Patton thing going on in his style, which really makes him stick out among other vocalists. But if that's not doing it for you, when in doubt, have a good chorus, and this EP is full of them, from the first time I heard songs like Clouds Are Gathering and Act III, months before this was released, I couldn't forget those hooks.
Overall, this is a great EP that should definitely appeal to people looking for a modern prog metal band that sounds more masculine and more melodic. There's a lot of fantastic songwriting on these six tracks and there honestly isn't a clunker among them. Definitely check this out if you want to hear modern prog metal at it's best.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Clouds Are Gathering, Ruins

Polkadot Cadaver - Sex Offender (2011)

Band: Polkadot Cadaver
Country: Rockville, Maryland
Style: Avant-Garde Metal
Label: Rotten Records

I'm a die-hard Mike Patton fan, I'm sure some may already know that, so it was inevitable that I would eventually find Todd Smith. Through my adventures through avant-garde music I had come across Dog Fashion Disco, and I enjoyed quite a bit of their material, I would have to say I was impressed by the first Polkadot Cadaver album when I first heard it. This, their second record comes four years after that debut, but will it live up to the hype?
This album really starts off to a less frenetic start than its predecessor did, beginning with a more subtle sounding opener before moving into Sea Grave, with it's groovy distorted bass lines guiding the song. This album, in comparison to the band's debut, and their work in Dog Fashion Disco, is much more melodic and straightforward, which is actually a bit of a disappointment as the band has made a name for themselves being Mr. Bungle's more demented and deviant cousin. If you've craved for a more straightforward sound, if only to hear how the band would take to it, you're in for a mix of mainly electronica, nu metal, thrash metal, and a bit of pop music as well all being thrown together into a blender. Maybe it's just the fact that I've come to expect the unexpected and the weirdest metal out there that I feel like the more straightforward approach of songwriting on this album doesn't really do the band justice and really kind of makes this album bland, for the most part, and unmemorable, Mongaloid being a prime example.
Now, I'm probably about to make a lot of enemies here but, I've always viewed Mike Patton as the superior vocalist to Todd Smith. I'm not saying Smith is a bad vocalist in any way, because he is certainly still one of the most versatile in the business and I respect him for that but in terms of performance, I've always felt that Patton had a much more natural authenticity in his screams, the screams Smith uses always seem like their forced and don't feel as natural. The bridge of the title-track, Sex Offender, really hit me as the closest he's ever gotten to sounding exactly like Patton for some reason. His singing voice, on this album, I feel is his best, with his harmonies just hitting that pop-vibe where the choruses on tracks like Starlight Requiem and Stronger Than Weak are just pure ear-candy.
Overall, I have to say that this album did not live up to the debut, or the Dog Fashion Disco material in mu opinion. This album felt way too safe and straightforward for the band, I wish there was a bit more chaos on here, or at least some better hooks. Check it out if you're a fan of the band, but otherwise, it's nothing you won't hear outdone by their debut.
Overall Score: 6.5
Highlights: Starlight Requiem, Cake and Eat It Too, Forever and A Day

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Petrychor - Effigies and Epitaphs (2011)

Band: Petrychor
Country: California
Style: Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Independent

Last year T. released the "Dryad" EP to some well deserved acclaim, this is the album that will accompany that EP in a physical release. I'll be the first to say that, while I enjoyed the EP, I had not kept up with any statements or plans for this album. After hearing quite a mixed reaction, why not go back and see what's causing all the fuss.
Listening back to the EP, there was a definitive atmospheric black metal sound, with the bit of folk influence, but on here, both have been turned up to ten. Listening to this album makes the EP feel so flat in comparison, mix-wise anyway, with the acoustic moments being soft and delicate and the metal sections just blasting you with distortion. The distortion on here makes this quite an interesting listen because a lot is lost in translation, while a track like Seared, Sundered works in the context of being a black metal song, that's pretty much all it's good for, because compared to other songs on here, it's short and pretty straight to the point, there aren't any forays into other styles. In my opinion, it could have been mixed a bit better, to make it heavier sections a bit less harsh and more dynamic. The transitions from one section, or sound, to another is very clumsy, and almost random, which is actually quite disappointing.
I find the folk sections on this album to be the real highlights on here, In Remembrance having a great interlude in particular with some fantastic playing. I know a lot of people who listen to this will most likely agree that the acoustic sections are well done, but I'm sure the majority will still find more comfort in the realm of distortion. Despite my problem with the transitions on the record, I found the post-rock sound on Subjugated and Abused to have not only the best shift from soft to heavy, but in my opinion, is probably this album's best track. It's a shame that the post-rock influence is not as widely used on here, as I feel like it really could have improved this album, for me at the very least.
Overall, this is a decent album, but there just isn't a whole lot grabbing me besides the distortion. I feel like this is just another record that doesn't really stand out with something original yet, like I said, the acoustic and post-rock moments are great, but too little of both are used on here for me. If you're into natural sounding black metal with some breaths of the genres mentioned above, I definitely suggest you check this out.
Overall Score: 6.5
Highlights: Subjugated and Abused, Beneath Highway and Street

Seeds In Barren Fields - Sounding The Siren Song In Vain (2011)

Band: Seeds In Barren Fields
Country: Göteborg, Sweden
Style: Blackened Crust
Label: Lundr

Surprisingly, I've actually been waiting for this album to be released, I say surprising because it's something I didn't anticipate caring about reviewing. This Swedish group caught my attention when they released a split with a band called Peregrine, and I obviously enjoyed their stuff. So here comes their debut full-length, something I only found out about through a Facebook post of all things.
The sound that SIBF bring to the table is a mixture of traditional melodic black metal, dark hardcore, gritty crust punk, and some elements of post-rock. It's a pretty aggressive record for the most part, rarely delving into softer territories, but consistently making each song interesting. Granted, what's on here is still pretty melodic sounding, the riffs are graspable, the vocals are clear enough to understand, and there are some great hooks, which may or may not impact how you view this record. Whether it's the melodic tremolo picked riffs, the occasional breakdown, or the vocal lines, I believe that anyone who likes any of the above genres can find something in here they like, hear a song like Tomorrow Black Birds Fly.
Looking back at the record, I have to say that the only flaw comes in the memorability department, I found that some of the songs on here were just sort of forgettable. I feel like some of these songs could have been shortened a little bit and made into stronger songs, since most tracks are around the six minute mark. A track like Destroy The Machines, the shortest song on here, is probably one of the most immediately memorable and catchy on the entire album. While album closer, I Natten Den Kalla Och Klara, is quite memorable for it's simplistic acoustic guitar lines, it also feels the most out of place on here, simply because it's really the only appearance of the acoustic taking center stage on a track and it just doesn't really fit in my opinion.
Overall, I enjoyed this album quite a bit, it has just enough grit to make it real and passionate. It's the type of record that I hear once in a while and just love the sound of the record, maybe more than the songs on it. If you're into crusty black metal with a bit of hardcore thrown into the mix, don't pass this album up.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Sounding The Siren Song In Vain, Pastures of Plenty, Leviathan

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Interview - Dødkvlt's Lord Theynian (Part II)

That's right, I told Lord Theynian at the end of our last interview that I would be happy to interview him when "II" came out, and this is the result of the interview. This is focused a bit less on maybe traditional musical questions and hopefully focuses more on the creative process that Lord Theynian goes through. I hope you find it just as interesting as I do.

Ian: Looking back since Dødkvlt "I" first came out, how do you think that you've improved?

Lord Theynian: To my perspective I have evolved a lot since my debut. The debut was rushed and naïve. I admit that it had that spontaneous energy to it as it was made in such a short period of time and it was not a bad way to my career. There were things that I liked and it was a necessary step in my evolution, but when I look behind to that album I don’t see that many similarities to what Dødkvlt represents and is in the present time. "II" is the true manifest of Dødkvlt and I can stand behind it 100%. I’m not saying that I regret my debut or that I hate it, I just have a lot more to offer than that, as you have seen with my new releases.

Ian: So would you say that improvisation plays a part in your composition and song writing process, or is that more of an isolated occurrence?

Lord Theynian: To tell you the truth, it’s all about the improvisation. I write my music as I’m recording it. I never just sit down to write a song and memorize or write it on paper to work on it later. I just grab my guitar and record everything that comes out. Usually it all starts from one good riff and it just naturally evolves from that to a whole song. The spine of the song is always the guitars. When I have the whole structure done on guitars, then comes everything else. When you listen to my songs, what you hear is usually the first times I’m playing this stuff as I have not rehearsed any of the stuff due to the fact that I just wrote it. That way the riffs have that virgin feeling to them, that excitement and energy when I come up with something good and record it straight away.

Ian: That's actually really cool, not a lot of metal musicians are able to improvise, or do it well anyway. Was that also the case on the Goats of Doom split?

Lord Theynian: Yes. I have been making my music like that for several years now. I created Dusk in almost ritual like setting, alone in the middle of the night in just candlelight. Really inspiring setting. I improvised for 20 or so minutes filming the whole session and that became the spine of Dusk. Prophecy was originally intended for the third album, but as I was thinking of songs fit for a split with Goats of Doom that was the first one that felt right for it. The rest of the songs sprouted from its atmosphere and as I was making the lyrics I ended up making a single concept for all the songs. I intend to continue the Domini Ascensiönem-saga on my third album. I already have one long song done.

Ian: That's awesome! I'm glad to hear that, because songs from the split feel very flushed out and complete, even compared to "II' in my opinion. Dusk was my favorite song from the split, and I really enjoyed the more atmospheric sections, do you see yourself including some more elements like that in future songs?

Lord Theynian: Definitely. As you can probably tell, Dusk was inspired by French black metal and I’ve been listening to loads of French BM bands lately to inspire me to make my next album. I absorb a lot of my ideas from what I listen to at the time and by that I don’t meant that I copy anyone’s ideas, I just broaden my musical horizons by listening to a lot of different bands and get my inspiration from that.

Ian: Absolutely, I totally get that sort of vibe. I hear traces of Blut Aus Nord and Alcest, would you say those are influences, or you at least listen to them, for that track? Who else would you site as an influence on that split?

Lord Theynian: Blut Aus Nord is possibly my favorite act from France at the moment. I especially enjoyed their new album "777 – Sect(s)" a lot. Alcest naturally had inspired me on that track, but the band that really sparked my inspiration to make Dusk was Vlad Tepes.
The biggest influence for the split came from outside the genre of black metal. As you noticed, I utilized slow doomy parts on Prophecy and Dusk and the inspiration for that came from no other than the Brooklyn’s late and great drab four Type O Negative (R.I.P. Peter). They have always been a huge inspiration to me and I consider them one of the greatest and most original bands ever to walk on the face of the earth. If you listen closely to the slow doomy middle section of Prophecy, you hear those industrial machinery sounds that are a clear tribute to Type O along with the distorted Steele-ish bass sound I used on all of the slow sections.

Ian: That kind of brings up my next question actually, because compared with even Dusk and Prophecy, I found, no offence here, the basswork to be more intriguing than the guitar work on Doom Sower. Did Type O influence the bass work on that track? How do you approach bass playing in your music?

Lord Theynian: Actually no. The bass lines on that track have more of a classic black metal feel to them to me. The bass is usually the final thing that I add on the songs and I always try to bring the song to the next level with them and try to add something new to them instead of just doubling the guitar parts. As usual, there’s a lot of improvisation involved in that aspect too. I enjoy making the bass parts the most because I have a lot of space to experiment with them. The bass parts can make the whole song sound different when you can mess around with the chord progressions under the guitar riffs and that makes the whole process of recording the bass lines really interesting.

Ian: When you're writing a song, do you approach it as you're making a "metal" song, or does it just naturally come out metal? Are there songs that you've written that are totally separate from Dødkvlt or that sound nothing like it?

Lord Theynian: It just comes naturally. I began writing songs when I got into metal music, so that has always been my main genre when it comes to making music. However, I do make other types of music nowadays. It is always clear to me when I get an idea for Dødkvlt, most of them usually are due to the fact that it is my main project and the most important and personal one. There have been some cases when I have doubted if a song is right for Dødkvlt, but most of them have ended up as Dødkvlt songs regardless of my initial thoughts and have thus shaped the face of the project giving it more space to evolve in different musical directions. I enjoy that freedom to explore with different ideas without having the fear that it won’t fit “the musical frame” of Dødkvlt or black metal in general. I let the songs evolve to the direction that is natural and best for the songs, not just suffocate all the spontaneous ideas because they don’t fir the rulebook of the genre I represent.

Ian: You said that you have a background in progressive music, how much of an influence from that style do you try to include with Dødkvlt?

Lord Theynian: I’d say that it’s more of a subliminal influence nowadays. I’m not forcing any of it or really thinking about it. I made progressive metal for several years and obviously those influences can still be heard in my songs. The proggy song lengths and structures are still prominent in my songwriting. It’s just the way I’m used to write songs. I always have a flood of ideas that I want to include in one piece of music so the song lengths come naturally to me.

Ian: I couldn't help but notice that you, like me, share a fondness for Mr. Bungle and Mike Patton. How much of an influence do you think he, or the band's he's been in, has had on your music?

Lord Theynian: Mike Patton and his various projects have been a great source for inspiration over the years. I wouldn’t say that his music has influenced Dødkvlt that much, but I have had other projects that were much closer to his style of music. It’s really hard for me to dissect where all of the bits and pieces of my musical style come from because I draw ideas from everything that I listen and it’s such a wide and shattered image.

Ian: I guess, for a new topic now, how did you first discover Goats of Doom and how did you first get into contact with them for the split?

Lord Theynian: A mutual friend who recorded their third demo “Ikuinen pilkkalaulu” in his studio introduced me to Goats of Doom and I instantly knew that there was something about them, so I said to my friend that I would like to do a split with them (I had been looking for a band to make a split with for some time). They were more than happy to get something official out through a label (all of their demos were only available in the internet) so that was pretty much it. Also, after the successful split collaboration I asked the head of Ewiges Eis Records if he was interested in releasing their debut album and he liked the idea, so that’s coming in the near future.

Ian: I'm curious why you had an interest in doing a split, what made you more interested in releasing the Domini Ascensiönem Prima Pars trilogy on there as oppose to an EP or wait for another full-length?

Lord Theynian: The songs (except for an unfinished version of Prophecy) didn’t exist prior to the idea of releasing a split. The initial spark to make a split with Goats of Doom was really because I felt that they deserved to get a chance to release something through a proper label and to gain wider recognition. If it wasn’t for the split and I had made these songs, I would’ve surely included them on the third album, since Prophecy was originally intended for it. I had some other songs that I made with a split release in my mind, but since I didn’t find a band good enough to release a split with so those songs still remain to be released. When it came to choosing material for this split, those songs weren’t strong enough, so I made new ones (along with finishing Prophecy) for this split and I must say that I’m extremely satisfied with the end result.

Ian: In our first interview you had mentioned that you were moving into a doomier direction, would you say that the material on the split is a good representation of where you wanted to go, or do you intended to go into even slower and more atmospheric realms?

Lord Theynian: Yes, that’s exactly what I was talking about. My music is all about contrast and doom is a new weapon for my arsenal. Slower sections give so much more space to bombard the listener with layers and layers of stuff and to me they have so much more depth and feeling in them when compared to going as fast as you can. You also need the fast stuff to make the slow parts feel even slower. Like I said, it’s all about the contrast. Fast and slow, heavy and light, melancholic and hopeful. They all enhance and feed off each other and take the compositions to the next level.

Ian: So is it a similar reasoning behind having fast tracks like Blinding The Eyes of The Bastard Christ on the front end of "II" while tracks like Of Deep and Dark Waters are more atmospheric and doomier (or mid-paced) near the end?

Lord Theynian: The song order of “II” that I ended up with just felt natural to me. It starts off a bit slower with Children of A Failed God and picks up the pace to the fastest songs of the album. Of Deep and Dark Waters is a bit like the beginning of the second act and from that moment the album reveals its other side to the listener. I tried to keep things interesting throughout the whole length of the album and I think that this is the perfect order for these songs. There is this clear sense of drama in the progression of the album. I always want to think albums as a whole, not just a compilation of random songs.

Ian: I would agree, a lot of albums have great songs, but the flow kind of ruins the experience if you have only blasting all the time, or you totally load up the front end with catchy tracks and the end is very dull and boring. How much of an effort did you put into the order of "II" and would you say, looking back, that you did it on "I" as well?

Lord Theynian: I really didn’t think of the flow of the album when making the songs. There were various different incarnations of “II” throughout its whole creation process and many songs were left out and replaced by others. I really tried to find the perfect mixture of all of the different sides of Dødkvlt with the final tracklist with the songs I had without going too far of the roots that were built with my debut. “I” was made in really short period of time (in like a month or so) and the songs on the album are in the order they were created in, so that alone creates that effortless flow to it. It just felt right to have them in that order so that the listener can hear the project take its first few steps in its journey of musical evolution. The ending of “I” created a logical bridge to the next chapter.

Ian: Would you mind discussing the idea behind the cover art of "II"? It's a very striking image that really reflects the aggression in the album, but to me, the album has so many other sides to it, even beauty, like the closer Taival Vailla Valoa, what made you decide to have the image as the cover?

Lord Theynian: I always imagined the album cover art to be blood red, I just had no concept for it otherwise. This image was from the promo picture sessions. I had an alternate idea for the cover later on that I was going to execute but when I edited these pictures and this one became so striking and powerful that I just had to make it the front cover. There was no question about it. I wanted to leave the logo and the title out because the picture alone speaks for itself. Good cover art is always crucial because that’s the first thing that people see. A bad cover can even ruin a good album so it’s important to me to make the whole concept of the album coherent from music to the artwork.

Ian: I know with "I" you were tagged as being "depressive black metal", I've seen that you are at least a fan of some artists like Lifelover, Xasthur, and Silencer, but would ever say that you identify, musically or ideally, with any of those groups/artists and have you ever seen Dødkvlt as a depressive band?

Lord Theynian: Never. It’s a mislabeling that I don’t understand. Satan and suicidal angst don’t walk hand in hand and I think that it’s pretty clear what side of the line I stand on. It seems that if you mention the word “suicide” on your lyrics then that instantly makes the artist suicidal. When I rarely write about self-destructive behavior, it’s always from an outside perspective or writing as a character (like for example in Buried Beneath the Rust). The case may also be that my lyrics are misunderstood. What is similar is the musical melancholy, but lyrically and ideologically there’s no similarity between me and DSBM acts.

Ian: That kind of brings me to my next question, the lyrics, with a song like Buried Beneath The Rust, and even with the Domini Ascensiönem Tertia Pars trilogy (so far), it seems like your lyrics are more story based, are there songs where you are being more personal, lyrically anyway.

Lord Theynian: There are some personal ones lyric-wise. Taival Vailla Valoa, Mitt Epitaf, The Rain and Taste My Sweet Revenge to name a few. I just tend to write more of wider and universal subjects in my songs due to the religious aspect. I want to paint a picture, a story, with most of my lyrics to enhance and to support the music.

Ian: Is there any update as to the status of "III" at this point in time? Is it still your plan to continue in a more doomy style, and can we expect an even wider sonic pallete next time?

Lord Theynian: Well, the first song, that is already been written and recorded, continues on that same path. It’s a quite logical continuation to where Doom Sower left off. Other than that, I must say that I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure that there will be new elements planted in there as the musical direction is constantly evolving in some direction. Musical and lyrical themes from the first three parts will be revisited to create continuation.

Ian: For those that don't know, what is the concept of Domini Ascensiönem Prima Pars?

Lord Theynian: It is about the prophecy of Satan’s arrival to earth to aid his followers in the battle against heretics. First part is self-explanatory. The second part, Dusk, is about Satan testing the strength of the faith and loyalty of his disciples. The weak ones are weeded out and the strong remain and in the third part, Doom Sower, they are rewarded as the prophecy is fulfilled. Like I said earlier, this is a prologue for the third album and the story continues on from that.

Ian: Did you already have the concept for this before you started writing the songs that became Prophecy, Dusk, and Doom Sower? For a project like this, which to me is more of a concept album, do you plan on having the music fit the lyrics?

Lord Theynian: I always write the lyrics after I have created the music. The music paints a certain image in my mind that I use as a base for my lyrics. Also the song titles give a good frame for the lyrical content. I usually name my songs when the music has been written before creating the lyrics or sometimes I even come up with the title first and then get inspired to make the music to fit it (like in Kun Kuolema Meidät Korjaa... Saatana Meidät Ottaa). The title Prophecy was a clear guide when thinking of the lyrical concept for this split and it all sprouted from that. Doom Sower was actually the first song that I wrote lyrics on for the split even though it’s the last song. After that it was clear what direction the story was going when the end of this chapter was written.

Ian: What are you currently listening to, are there any albums that are really catching your ear at the moment? Is there any music that you find to inspire you right now?

Lord Theynian: In the last few days I have been listening to the new Shining ("VII – Född Förlorare") album quite a lot. I admire the fact that they had the courage to step further out of the world of black metal and metal in general by showing their lighter side even more than on their previous releases. As I mentioned before, I’ve also been listening to a lot of French black metal recently. Also, the whole Wyqm (American one man black metal band) discography has still been on heavy rotation and they just released a new EP with two cover songs that I was lucky to get my hands on since it was limited to only 10 copies (2 white and 8 clear). There are many more. So much good music and so little time.

Ian: Well, I think that's about all the questions I have right now. I have to say it's been a pleasure to interview you again, you are truely a gentleman and a highly tallented musician. The last words are once again yours.

Lord Theynian: "Please buy our product" -Peter Steele

If you've read the first interview, you already know to check out Dødkvlt, so I don't have to tell you again. Definitely check out "II" and "Deathcult ov Doomgoat", they're high quality stuff, Lord Theynian is really starting to find his own style and they're albums you won't want to miss out on.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Infestus - E x | I s t (2011)

Band: Infestus
Country: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Style: Black Metal
Label: Debemur Morti Productions

Yes, this review is long overdue, sue me, I've been busy. I've had this album for a little while and just haven't gotten around to actually listen to it until recently. Normally, I don't expect much from one-man bands, but I've actually been quite eager to hear what this has to offer, mainly cause I thought the cover looked pretty sweet.
In my opinion, first impressions can make all the difference when listening to an album, and this thing really gets off on the right foot, in my opinion, with an intro that doesn't suck. Akoasma is almost four minutes long and makes good use of it's time with expansive guitar work and claustrophobic atmospheres and minimal vocals providing just the sort of haunting mood that the rest of this album maintains. As for the rest of the album, if your preferred sounds in black metal are melodic guitar work, expansive soundscapes, vocals that aren't right up front, and the occasional slowed down acoustic moment, you'll be very happy with this release. I wouldn't call this a progressive record, though I believe the songwriting is ahead of many other black metal band, but I would definitely say that the atmosphere on this album is second to none this year.
The sound of this album is very different compared to a lot of other records that I've listened to this year in that atmosphere really dominates the record, but guitars are still very much at the forefront of the mix. It's on a track like the syncopated Torn Observer that I really became intrigued because this is not just another black metal record, there are other influences coming through on here, including death and thrash metal, but it's still a defiantly black metal record. Some moments on here are pretty average in terms of the riffing, but on album closer Descend Direction Void, you really get some almost anthemic sections, which is something I don't usually get from black metal.
Overall, a very good release that should definitely get some people's heads turning and looking at this project. While the concept, or style, isn't original, the performances on here and the final product is very much an authentic and unique sound. Definitely check this out if you're looking for an underground atmospheric black metal band that really doesn't sound like anyone else.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Darkness Blazing In The Flame of Fire, Mirror Mind Reality, Descend Direction Void

The Axis of Perdition - Tenements (of The Anointed Flesh) (2011)

Band: The Axis of Perdition
Country: Middlesbrough, UK
Style: Progressive/Industrial Black Metal
Label: Code666

I can't remember what initially turned me on to the experimentalists in The Axis of Perdition, but I can remember the first time I listened to them. Back when 2009's "Urfe" was released, I can recall pressing play for the first time and just being blown away by how different it was compared to everything else I had heard. This new album might not be as avant-garde as the last one was, but from what I've heard of it before hand, it proves to be another new direction.
I'm afraid to say that the more industrial, more dark ambient elements that have really dominated the band's previous work is put back in the sound on this new album, I say I'm afraid to address any concerns people might have about this album, not my own mind you. This album features a more guitar oriented sound, with many more angular and twisted sounding riffs than ever before. Now, while the guitars are more at the front of the sound than before, the elements of dark ambient and industrial textures still remain in just that, textures and atmospheres that engulf this entire disc. I've heard comparisons to Deathspell Omega, and while the two share a similar sense in terms of creating dissonant, atmospheric riffs, The Axis of Perdition feature an almost English proggy sense to them that their French brethren do not have, hear a track like Sigils and Portents. You'll also hear the band's most melodic moments on a track like Ordained, in my opinion, one of the best album closer tracks this year.
For anyone that's actually made it through "Urfe," I believe that this will make much more sense, sonically anyway. The dark ambient, spoken word sound that dominated most of that album really gives way to the more chaotic feel on this one. Though, if you were hoping for another dose of brutal ambiance, The Dark Red Other should provide what you are looking for; but if a craving of brutality is what you want, the two opening tracks, besides the intro, Unveiled and Unbound should give you the fix you need. Later tracks express a more "heavy" sound through a denser atmosphere, in my opinion, and slower, and mid-paced riffs taking the place of the brutality that opened the album. I think this is what makes this album so powerful, the flow of the record really adds to the experience of it, it's not just a batch of songs that have nothing in common, this is a much more well-rounded album with highs and lows.
Overall, not that I had any doubts, this is a great album, definitely another notch for the band in terms of originality as well. It's hard for me to say this is a good starting point to start listening to the band, since none of their albums could be called easy listening, you really just have to jump head first in and try to make yourself comfortable. If you like experimental, atmospheric, industrial, progressive black metal and you like it to sound like it's crawling out of the sewers, look for this.
Overall Score: 9.5
Highlights: Every Track Is A Highlight

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sorgeldom - ...From Outer Intelligences (2011)

Band: Sorgeldom
Country: Skellefteå, Sweden
Style: Progressive/Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Frostscald Records

It's time for the second Sorgeldom album being released this year. As opposed to the other "Vithatten," this album was not recorded in a forest, or at least during the forest sessions. From the little bit of info I've gathered from this release, it's more in line with the progressive sound from "Inner Recievings."
If you're not a fan of lo-fi recording, you'll be happy to know that this album has a cleaner, more atmospheric sound than "Vithatten." Like I stated above, this is more in line with what the band was doing on "Inner Recievings," stylistically and production wise. Due to a cleaner production, this album's sound is much less aggressive sounding than it's companion album, but has a much more graspable quality to it. Now, this might just be me, but this album has a certain rainy vibe to it, or at least to me it felt as though the skies were darkened and rain was just pouring down as I listened to this album, especially the title-track, ...From Outer Intelligences.
The sound on here is much more melodic than it's companion, you'll find a much clearer influence from the shoegaze and dream pop realm in here, like in a track like Utesluten Från Universums Koreografi for example. This album also has a much more progressive sound to it, with a lot of interesting riffs and melodies that are constantly moving around. Along with the progressive edge comes the post-black metal style that the band have made use of on their previous two full-lengths, with a lot of clean and acoustic guitar playing with a lot of tranquil and gentle melodies that just float through your mind as your listening to this, hear To Where Your Tracks End. Something that stands out to me on here is the tone of the bass guitar, it's really bouncy and melodic sounding, meaning it's also pretty clear in the mix by the way, but it really adds this sense of playfulness to the album. In all honesty, this record is a lot more of a modern black metal record, as oppose to the more old-school take that is it's companion album.
Overall, I really enjoyed this record and it's definitely up to the standard that "Inner Recievings" set for me. It's definitely a more melancholic record than it's companion, but that works in its favor. If you like progressive-tinged post-black metal, definitely do not let this one slip through your fingers.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Through Dust Into Lostness, Hänförd Av Tvångshandlingens Synagoga, ...From Outer Intelligences