Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 03/29/18
Welcome to Mini Reviews! No jokes today, no memes. Just reviews. Yep. Quantum Hierarchy, Coilguns, The Absence, Green Druid, Morbosidad, Sammal, Road to Jerusalem, Insect Ark and Cicada the Burrower.
If you missed our premiere of “Mausoleum of Eternal Absence” a few weeks ago, go fix that right now. Neutron Breed is short but sweet, loaded end to end with some nasty death metal reminiscent of some of Morbid Angel’s speedier offerings. It’s fast and frenetic, but it doesn’t sacrifice any of its heaviness for the sake of velocity. The tremolo-heavy riffs are pierced with sharp spikes of dissonant chords, occasionally working in some microtonal bends and slowing down for groovier moments. There aren’t any real curveballs thrown your way- once you’ve heard the first song, you know what to expect from the next two- but the focused approach works for this little three-song EP. This is a band to watch. – Spear.
This band, almost entirely made up of The Ocean ex-members, sounds nothing like The Ocean. It’s a sort of lo-fi hardcore affair with some kroutiness mixed in. It seems to be a bit of an odd choice to go from something so wildly popular to something so niche. I just can’t see how these super talented dudes felt the need to create… this thing. Ok, I’m being a little harsher than I should be. For what it is, it’s very listenable. The raw live-ness of it is really appealing, actually giving reason for it being lo-fi so it’s not just an arbitrary choice. There’s a ton of “noise” influence too, so maybe you folk who can tolerate such things will dig significantly more parts of this than I. – Joaquin.
The melodic deathrash stalwarts are back with their first full-length after re-vamping their lineup. And though I’m not all that familiar with the rest of their catalog, the breath of fresh air given by their two new guitarist is evident. To keep this short: if you like solid riffs, dual guitar leads and just about every other thing that you can come to expect from melodic death/thrash metal, I can’t think of a reason for you not to enjoy A Gift for the Obsessed, which feels familiar but refreshing within the context of the genre and that of the band’s discography. Jam at high volumes. – Moshito.
Green Druid – Ashen Blood
Earache Records | March 16th, 2018
Yet another Denver doom band, Green Druid is perhaps one I would point to as the definition of stoner doom. Now, that’s not to say they are the best stoner doom band, oh no, I just mean they are so obnoxiously rooted in the genre that they should, at the very least, be dictionarized for it. I’m also not saying that it’s bad! You will really dig it if you’re into the classics by Sleep and Electric Wizard. I’m not really one of those people, so I was a little bit of a challenge to keep my brain actively wrapped around this 74-minute pile of slow methodical riffage. But yes, I am suggesting you listen to this thing that I will only listen to once in my life. It ain’t for me, but it achieves its goal. – Joaquin.
War metal from Tejas. “Sung” in Spanish, the “direct descendant of the Latin tongue spoken by the crucifiers of Jesus” as noted in the promo letter. End of review. You want more? Fine. On Corona de Epidemia, Morbosidad’s fifth full-length, blast-beats do not let up and even if distinct riffs were presented, the buzzsaw sound would see to the fact that and they’d be distinct no more and the last remaining original member, Tomas Stench, rasps over the scourge sound with more conviction than rhythmic variety. Here and there, like in the title-track, thrashy half-time sections break the bare monotony for a moment – and power chord barrages that make up most of the record occasionally slow down to a dirge, as on “Crudeza”. Corona de Epidemia is exactly what fans of these veterans keep asking them for, but even though I like myself some war metal, Morbosidad is a band that’s never quite managed to craft an album half as effective as their short form releases – Karhu.
Two albums and an EP later, Sammal stands at the forefront of Finnish prog, and though claims were heard of Suuliekki making a break with their past, as each members’ musical interests were better integrated, but honestly, this sounds very much the same psych and folk infused old-school prog that Sammal has been making since day 1, maybe they’re all listening to the same albums. With each passing year, the playing gets tighter, solo’s longer and unfortunately lyrical arrangements worse. It’s not the contents on the lyrics, but their form, elongated words stretched far too thin to fill predetermined lines. Not that it would bother the uncivilized majority of you, given your gross lack of understanding the fine language of Finland. It’s especially a shame because the band shows exceptional skill in arrangements elsewhere, as the song flow smoothly from a psyched up jam to a Sabbathian riff and ever on. These shifts feel less like transitions and more like growth, stressed with livesome drumming and organic sound that make for an elastic experience. Though it lacks any particular song, or even moment, that would clearly rise above the sentiment, Suuliekki is not be missed by any friend of prog music. – Karhu.
For reasons I’m not quite sure of, I thought Road to Jerusalem played some form of doom metal, so you can imagine my surprise when I dove into it and discovered some very jammy… progressive psychedelic-ish hard rock? I really don’t know how to label the band’s debut album, but whatever it is I want more. The music is rooted in rock, for sure, but the drumming is ghost-note abundant and the guitar work relies heavily on not overly distorted, dark arpeggios (although there are plenty of bonafide riffs and shredding throughout). To try and compare it to something, it sounds like a hybrid of the best parts of both Opeth and Mastodon‘s most recent directions, with a healthy dose of bluesed-up psychedelia and wailing, crooney vocals. This is good, people. – Moshito.
Groove, soul, and heart. Those are the things that lie at the center of Insect Ark‘s latest album Marrow Hymns. Initially a solo project from Dana Schecter (also in the band Gnaw), Insect Ark now features Ashley Spungin on drums. The dreamlike instrumental sounds from the duo conjure up a sense of strength and resilience, a determination to face the adventure ahead and the dangers around every corner. And it’s all done without saying a word. That’s special. RIYL: Red Sparowes, Pelican, Russian Circles. – 365.
Cicada the Burrower is the one-man project of Cameron Davis, though you’d never know from the sound that this album was the work of one person. The Great Nothing is an aggressively depressive progressive black metal album that plunges headlong into the eternal struggles of the self. While some depressive acts weep and wallow, this album rages against the dying of the light. My one gripe is the final song “Please Stop” which features the constant chirp of a ringtone. I get it, I really do, but it does detract from an otherwise enjoyable song. Regardless, The Great Nothing is a stellar album and I look forward to more from Cicada the Burrower. – 365.