Posts Tagged ‘Album Review’

After Oblivion is a technical death/thrash metal group hailing from Bosnia-Herzegovina and having released an EP and a compilation with No Blest from Brazil already, this is their third offering but the first one that has reached me, so I’m rather unaware of their past sound/approach done back in ’07 and the time gap admist could possibly grant some alteration in direction, but anyway. While this EP is a bit too short display of the band’s craftmanship, it still helps to figure out their musical proficiencies in a quick and clear note.

“Vultures” is what was described to me as a promo release of three of the selected songs by the band. I’ve noticed that their music is often closely related to with Death and I don’t deny this much. In fact, the music is stylistically derived much through influences lying in later-day-Death (specifically “Symbolic”) while some Martyr and Pestilence could also be observed in places. My taste is actually not much on the ground of technical death metal, but well, I always took it as, it’s always welcoming when bands imply technicalities to foster their songwriting and not merely for mindless wankery.

I don’t know if it was intentional, but incorporation of middle-eastern melodies could also be noticed, prevalent mostly in the riffs, much similarly done as the Egyptian Scarab. The bass is clearly audible, thanks to the clean production (which I would have liked it thick, but well…). And the vocals are like Schuldiner again and there come in more of those melodic lead solos that remind of classic Death years.

Although labelled death/thrash or technical thrash, this is more death metal and less thrash to me. And although the songwriting is pretty enjoyable, there is nothing new presented musically in surface of tech-death, and the experimentation in originality tends to be lacking at times while following the influences, but the inclination towards middle-eastern flavour could be what saves the album from sounding like plenty of others doing this style. All in all, a good, commendable record “Vultures” is, which is recommended to fans of Death and death metal in general. After Oblivion is a band worth watching out for in days to come, and I hope they find some good record label soon.

7.5/10

It is evident, heavy metal through its growth has now been incorporating various regional sounds from throughout the world, caressing respective cultural vibes through the music and thus marking the music’s own distinct identity. In this very process, the band in hand, Arsames is a death metal group from Iran, who could be found labeling their style as “Persian ancient” death metal, in verge of merging metal with Persian sounds and scales.

Well, Arsames’ music could be defined to have been derived from the blend of thrash, heavy and death metal, with thrash/heavy influences more or less overcoming its death metal character at times. So don’t expect some straightaway death metal here. There are few of the Persian elements enclosed as well, but which I couldn’t significantly distinguish with the Arabic, Egyptian or other middle-eastern tunes mostly apparent in bands as Nile or Scarab. So I lean to conclude they are more or less similar when mixed with metal, perhaps.

The foremost thing to say – there is this thin production that is a bit distressful if you ask me. A denser sound would have done better. Beside this, the compositions seem cool enough, with melodies eminent throughout. Yes, the melodies seem to embrace the whole length – more observable in solos which run all over the places, and even along the riffing.

The drumming isn’t as intense as noticed in most of the death metal bands, but they do nothing unfair when considering rest of the instrumentations – slow to mid tempo most of the times, with regular ascendance in velocity, still bordered pleasantly by the Persian mark. And well, the vocals by Ali Madarshahi are quite charming as well – slightly throaty but still retaining the low notes, but which go faint at times.

So the sound of “Immortal Identity” could again be described as thrashy death metal (nothing old school) with deep growling vocals – the music that contains some traces of Persian traditional music. All in all, a good and worthy debut showcasing the immense talents of musicians in their individual level, but I’m optimistic that they would be approaching with a better and more bad-ass record in future.

7/10

Well, comebacks usually upset when there’s a whole lot of time enough for musicians to catch up different tastes and questioning the musical direction of their past. Even big names like Terrorizer and Cynic fell in this category, and we’ve got no smaller name than those here. Atheist, awaken to do some newer stuff after more than a decade with two new members and everybody had obvious doubts on this one. Could they be same after seventeen fucking long years – the time long enough you could replace your former band-mate with your newborn son?

Well, my affiliation with Atheist goes back to “Unquestionable Presence”, which was the first album of theirs I genuinely loved. Although “Piece of Time” had reached me first, it couldn’t click me well. It was UP that described the typical Atheist sound to me and I could regenerate the love for Piece… as well. The third album “Elements” couldn’t do much with me though. When you listen to enough good music from your favorite band, the expectations are obvious to rise and the other generic ones too seem to be lacking the punch, and same was the case. “Elements” was alright, but wasn’t as significant as the former two ‘masterpieces’.

Alright. The thing is – you just cannot judge an Atheist album on just few listens. When I had put my ears on this one for the first time, I was confused, disappointed but expectant, all at the same time. A little more listens and it was still growing on me.

Musically, the band appears to have leaned less towards the thrashy edge this time. It’s more technical death metal here, still retaining the typical Atheist fragrance. It’s cool that it still sounds like Atheist even after seventeen long years, and that’s an achievement in itself, considering the awful doubts that everyone (at least most of us) had when we first learned about the band recording their newer stuff. To speak, “Jupiter” sounds like a progressive technical death metal band (let’s say Gorod) giving tribute to Atheist.

So besides everything else, let me point out few of my discomforts here:

Firstly, one of the hugest objections is the bass being not free, which isn’t off the trail of guitars as it was before. Bass is there, yes it’s audible, but is just to follow the guitars. It’s a blasphemy in Atheist’s case if you ask me.

Secondly, there is zero to little chill-out jazzy portions, which could be found in their previous albums (which I really adore/d). Surely, Atheist were the first band to fuse extreme metal with jazz, and the decision to omit them might be cool, but it’s just me; not that it is hindering the songs’ eminence through it.

Thirdly, the lead guitars – whenever I listen to “Unquestionable Presence” and the solos are put on, I go [bow them]. But now, they’re not so remarkable at all. They’re decent, nowhere close to their past stuffs. I could also sense some riffs/solos filled here and there just to invoke their early-years’-sound, which I think are already lame.

Fourthly, the production is a bit oozy besides all, and the best sound output tends to be the drums. This instrument could be the finest and most satisfying in here, possessing some awesome variations and all… typically Atheist.

Fifthly, the vocals. Well, the band wasn’t pleasing me ‘vocally’ at all through any of their preceding records anyway, but let’s put it this way – Kelly’s shrieks here, I think, are the best to offer after their debut (I know many will disagree). So I’m not pushed away a bit by his throat performance here.

All in all, Atheist now sound more like many of other bands trying to follow their path of being a death(/thrash) band like Negativa, Gory Blister, Quo Vadis, etc. This is no way close to their first two records, but this doesn’t imply in anyway that it’s a weak album. “Jupiter” is still ‘decent’ in my book, but I would recommend to begin with “Unquestionable Presence” or “Piece of Time” if you already dig thrash metal.

7.5/10

(Originally reviewed for KtmROCKS)

Those of you who aren’t aware, Misanthropia is a Dutch melodic black metal band that features drummer Sarban Grimminck, who had thrashed the Kathmandu metal scene in the late 90s with the band Dead Soul. I was thrilled to learn that the band had recently opened for Mayhem. They have also played in Hellfest, France, one of the bigger metal festivals in Europe.

“Slang Des Doods”, meaning Snake of Death, is Misanthropia’s second full length studio release after their 2006 album “Rise of Necropolis”. The debut was a testimony bold enough to garner worldwide attention, and I couldn’t discern much of the divergence between the two albums, but can sense that the variations enclosed within each song have just increased this time; hence the progressive tendency in the flow of music is up as well.

The sound of Misanthropia could be said to go along the vein of early Dimmu Borgir and I could also catch some faint Bal-Sagoth and Amorphis feels at times. You could have guessed it already – the keyboards are a fundamental element of Misanthropia’s music, which forms a backbone to and outlines the general sound. They range from plain organs to extreme orchestral string ensembles, binding the gloomy yet epic ambiance. The keys seem to be the major focused instrument here and the guitars are just there to aid it, it appears. But the arrangement seems welcoming and well portrayed, regardless that couple of points with abrupt shifts of direction sounded sloppy to me.

The guitar riffs tend to have originated from death, melodeath, traditional heavy and epic/power metal grounds as well, apart from the labeled black metal. I could also hear some later Cradle of Filth in it. To say, this band was formed from the ashes of Throned by Tyranny, a gothic metal project, but here’s no any bothersome Dani Filth, double bass rolls switching up to one-two beats and power chords that are of hold ‘em down and move ‘em around mode.

The songs mainly center at the melody and mood of the music rather than brutality or technical lines, which is mostly a nice thing. “The Light Bringers” is in fact some sort of slow ballad, in a Dimmu Borgir styled ‘romantic’ symphonic metal fashion. At times, I was questioning if the band name went along with the nature of the songs, but fuck that already; the lyrics are sadistic.

Bram Koller’s vocals are remarkable as well. Although he has released some generic black metal screams and the vocals do not range much apart, they are still enough to keep up the fires. The production is clean and superb, and this catches no old school dirty grimness to hide half of the notes played, though I’ve become sort of a fan of the dirtiness in recent times. The band had got around with Mike Wead (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, et al) who mixed and mastered the album.

The closer track “Tremolo Funeral” is an interesting one, as the band goes acoustic this time, and thus ends forty minutes of “Slang Des Doods”, which is a slow to mid tempo melodic black metal, and even though this variety of genre can hardly strike me enough, I think this one’s a commendable effort by the band nonetheless, who have disclosed a brilliant level of musicianship and much greater potentials.

7.5/10

…and yet again, I’m chuckling at the cover art 🙂

– Samyam Shrestha

(Originally reviewed for KtmROCKS)

Honestly, I am no big fan of the symphonic metal or black metal thing in general, and have listened to lesser amount of black metal than let’s say, brutal death metal or thrash. Even bands like Emperor and Arcturus fall short to keep me engaged after a listen, whereas Equilibrium (Ger) and Negura Bunget may just do the thing sometime. It’s not about experimentations or the taste, may not even be the hazy old school productions tending to defy modern bedroom brutal death metal for its tendency to fuck a listener’s ears. Thus, considering that Vesania is the one name that instantly comes to my mind when hearing the genre name and Om, I can think of as my favorite album in the subgenre right now, I often lean to seek for the ‘it’ in every other music I listen to, in relation or in comparison to these ‘good’ bands. Saying these, I think the band in hand currently, Kalodin, after having a few listens have hit me hard enough, informing about the sharp existence of the ‘it’. Well…

Kalodin play symphonic metal inclining towards black/death metal with progressive, gothic, traditional heavy metal and power metal constituents also noticeable in their music. All these things jumbled, the final sound crafted could be rather distinctive in itself, like what we’ve been offered here in this LP. Still, the band doesn’t tend to stop here and notifies us about their unconsciousness towards setting boundaries. Wah-wah solos from surface of classic rock n roll… in black metal? Heard before? At least I haven’t (or am I too naïve?). Things are a little stretched from what it would have been otherwise, hence forming a sort of an original version of what it is called symphonic black/death metal. The closest I could match their sound right now is with the Indian monsters, Demonic Resurrection, who had also experimented with the very aforementioned musical styles in precision, to win worldwide attention. I don’t know if there is even any DR influence there in the musicians in actual though.

Now.

The keyboard marks its dominant existence in the release, supplying the general ambience to the songs and forming a melancholic atmosphere throughout. The string ensembles don’t attempt to drown the guitars, and there’s an extent of utter balance and organization between the two – keyboards have their own moments and the guitars have their own. But overall, I can sense it would have been a little barren if the synths were to be erased in entirety. It’s not that there aren’t any keyboard-free parts, and these sound splendid too, like in In Glorificus Luctus…, past the acoustic/ambient phase. At other moments, it’s good enough that the keys have trailed with haunting followings in aid to the strong guitars, without infecting their aura.

Guitars, as said, have their own moments – from interludes and acoustic passages to lead solos – Davin Shakya, the brain of Kalodin, behinds the axes, have composed everything with splendor. There aren’t much chugs and tremolos, setting them apart from the trend of writing an entire black metal song through one-note-thirty-two-hits alone. And the song structures are pretty varied – from complex sounding Forsaken Virgin Demonlord to easy but vigorous Face of War. Technicality isn’t the primarily focused facet as the riffs don’t sound difficult, but one may clearly state where the technicality lurks when a piece like the beginner of Souls of the Dead rolls in. The riffs may also provide similitude with several other bands at times, like the beginner of Forsaken Virgin Demonlord, which may exactly fit in any blackened death era Behemoth album; Necrophiliac contains a certain proportion of gothic (Cradle of Filth, maybe) vibe; while the guitar solo accompanied section near the Face of War opener may adjust in any decent progressive rock/metal song. So saying that this album has something for everyone may not be incorrect. But as said, if you wish to subtract their sound on one band, think of Demonic Resurrection.

Kiew Jay Joel’s vocals have done a big favor to this release. His vocals range from high pitched shrieks, typical in black metal standards, to low Nergal sound-alike death growls, which have only made the things more absorbing. Here is also an inclusion of female vocals, in Interlewd: Into Purity, and it, to a huge level reminded me of Antim Grahan’s similar track When Silence Mourns, especially because of the female vocals, approach of the keyboard and the drum beats. Were the band listening to The Ruin of Immortals while writing this track? May be.

Since Kalodin have no drummer, the drums are programmed here. It’s reasonable enough to have applied this alternative in a circumstance that there’s no drummer in the band and all members are scattered over different regions of the continent. An excuse? I don’t think so. But the programmed drums do not sound artificial at all. If you think machined beatings do not go with this form of music at all, you may want to think it again this time… unless it’s the full-pace double bass part of Souls of the Dead. Yes, you could find plenty of other cases where human beatings have sounded more mechanic than these. Thank the production that it has attempted to make the drums sound as human as possible. Moreover, the album as a whole is produced tremendously and besides, everything has been mixed well so that you could hear every note being hit, even on the bass, which is plainly audible. It seems Davin Shakya knows his shit of how to catch a perfect output for an ideal composition.

All in all, the songwriting is really commendable with loads of delightful moments sealed within. It’s really tough to discern apart better songs from other good ones. One thing, I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I could sense that as the album runs along, the songs turn less brutal and bends more towards melodic harmonies. Progressive tendencies?

So The Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry may be one of the finest releases in symphonic black metal I’ve heard recently, and is also likely to go well with the followers of any other metal subgenre than that. But if you’re a brutal DM extremist or something like that, then why are you even reading this anyway?

Stand-out Tracks:
Forsaken Virgin Demonlord
Dark Whisperer
Souls of the Dead

8/10

…and did I say that I am still chuckling at the album title and the artwork? Haha.

– Samyam Shrestha

(Originally reviewed for KtmROCKS Emag 08)

Well! Thrash revival happens to be a sprouting movement lately, trying to invoke the misdirected 80s’ darling – the music that could defy any other metal genre in its content of pure aggression and antagonism. Modern thrash bands though, have a slight twisted route to pull things off – for this, either the bands are seeking to step up the extremity or experimenting to trigger newer sounds, like one of my favorites, Vektor are doing. And then are some self-proclaimed thrashers who ‘mistakenly’ have played groove metal instead. Well, lets not get to that point. But anyway…

The band in hand, Devoid, balances well to put themselves between the retro-sound of thrash metal with a strong blend of originality that offers a slight touch of death metal and hardcore/groove metal intersections. Devoid come from Mumbai, India and “A God’s Lie” is the band’s debut full length album which was released in September 2010 through Demonstealer Records. Great song patterns and a whole lot of brilliant riffing, and I was being ass-kicked already.

So…

The album commences with an acoustic intro, “A Silent Death”, which soon flourishes into the up-front thrash strike of “Battle Cry”. With sirens and gunshots to welcome a listener, the first introduction of the distorted guitars and bass had given me a sort of “Pierced from Within” feel, but soon the sound spreads off in tone that could fairly be derived from any of the traditional thrash records.

Although Devoid cite Slayer as their foremost influence, they have managed well to mark their sound away from them, and hell! I haven’t found any significant amount of Slayerism in here actually, not even any chug based riff. There is also an apparent persuasion of hardcore/grindcore. For example, pop into “Possessed” (00:38) for instance. These hummable melodic parts in amid the avalanche of forthright brutality make this album so pleasant. To speak, I adore moments as such that tempt us bang heads. And hence melody points its existence throughout. You may think of “Enemy of God” melodic thrash but forget it already; this album doesn’t worship Gothenburg sound half its way anyway. Along the play, there were also Lamb of God, Death/Atheist and NWoBHM and groove metal influences felt.

The title track grasps a bit of progressive shape as it tends to go for a few tempo changes with (somewhat) erratic flow here and there. The band members too do not hesitate to mess around a little bit at times before actually hitting off towards full-on thrash. Well, the instrumentations incline a bit towards technical concentrations too, and the complex arrangements from the multiple genre ingredients still are mixed up well, which are proficient to build an in-your-face assault.

Philosophically, the songs are tilted towards ‘new world order and the evils of a prehistoric setup of the social norms and social deities’. The ending track “Beer Song” is actually a distinct one that plays homage towards… beers! “Beer Song” caresses a bit of Megadeth spark, comprising some traditional heavy metal within it. (Why is the song called ‘bonus’ anyway? May be because of the very reason of its concept unfitting with those of others? Perhaps!)

Drumming is a creative territory in the album as well – precise and very well executed fills, rolls and few blast beats providing the rest of the music a robust backbone. And I’ve got another thing to admire – Arun Iyer’s vocals – violent and hateful. We’ve heard a lot of this type before in thrash (or any other extreme metal), but hell I’m really impressed by the aggression he has released. Think of Kelly Shaefer’s work in “Piece of Time” and you already know what I’m talking about. Anyway, the growls are a bit more accurate and deeper than Kelly’s. Sharp! is the word.

The production is near to flawless, which roughly summons the vibes of old school atmosphere. This makes the release unashamedly modern yet grasping the primitive touch. Amogh Symphony, Devoid, Hydrodjent. Man, the Indian bands are just getting better by the day in regard to handling the production facet. The bass drums could have been switched a bit louder in the mix though.

All in all, it’s an excellent display of virulent thrash (/death) attack. This is a five-year-in-making album and the motive and seriousness of the band are further clarified by the super-consistent line-up, to pursue the common aspiration to making the top-notch thrash music possible. The release has already won a great deal of attention worldwide, which suggests the band is really up for a huge run. And so let me revise myself once again – “A God’s Lie” is one of the best metal albums India has to offer lately. Yeah!

8/10

– Samyam Shrestha