Mini-Reviews From Around The Bowl: 06/23/2016
The smallest breakfast continues. Just, you know, without the food. This week on the menu: While Sun Ends, Nuke, Gjendød, Countless Skies, Void Omnia, Cauchemar, Dark Funeral, Candlemass and Dream of Scipio.
I don’t really understand the whole “post” terminology when describing a band’s sound. Post-rock, post-punk, post-metal? What does it all mean? Is post just a catch-all term for bands that don’t fit neatly into a genre? Is it used for the so-called “City Bloggers” who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about “What’s to be done with this metal band?” Italy’s While Sun Ends has been given the label of “post-death” which I guess means that they’re zombies. Cool with me! Name notwithstanding (it’s missing a word or two), the band adeptly blends melodic death metal with moments of progressive metal beauty. The heavier moments are enjoyable, but it is the quieter moments where Terminus excels, wrapping the listener in a peaceful calm. A good listen for those that want to drift between grooving and feeling. RIYL: Amorphis, Between the Buried and Me, East of the Wall — 365
Metal can be, at times, a bit too self serious. Men will take the stage draped in hoods or soaked in blood and want you to buy into their nihilism or their off-the-rack satanism with straight faces, unappreciative of how silly it all can seem. Fortunately we have Nuke here to tell these fuckers to lighten up and go rage. Nuke essentially writes party ready bangers without any of the overt party themes. Album opener “Nuke Me Baby” rips out of the gate like a horse on PCP looking to take on all comers (I don’t know who would fight a horse, just go with it). The pace drops a moment at the start of the next track, “Metal Inferno,” but it’s really just a trick as the song quickly jumps into the most cock rock’d version of Iron Maiden you’ve ever heard (“Dead Space” also seemingly owes a debt to Maiden). Maiden moments aside, this is just pure punk’d up speed metal. Nuke thrashes from front to tail giving you minimal lulls, all just long enough to go fetch another beer. Nuke are silly, they know it, and they’re better for it. Grab some beers and party up. — Leif Bearikson
I’m not sure classic Norwegian black metal is in need of a reboot just yet. Gjendød disagrees. Although is it really a reboot if certain stalwarts of the genre have been myopically adhering to it all along? Whatever the case, Gjendød is a brand new Norwegian black metal band that sounds like a very old Norwegian black metal band. They worship that sound so fervently that it is as if they fear straying from the Path and invoking the wrath of the Old Ones. Fortunately for them, and us, they do it very well. — Richter.
Melodeath isn’t exactly the most inventive genre these days. I had a hunch a band named after a Be’lakor song was probably not out there to change that, and I was right. Though I admit mild surprise as Countless Skies is far more reminiscent of a certain Finnish group than the aforementioned, to the point where you have to question who actually wrote these songs. I even found myself hoping these Britons would’ve managed to copy the idiosyncratic, depressive but soothing melodies down to the last. From the opening notes of “Aubade,” to the fading of “Return” every chord progression, every single lead screams a second-rate Insomnium, but the melodies, in all their simplicity, don’t carry enough weight. Clean vocals make an appearance on a few songs, but I’d rather they didn’t. “Ethereal’s’ chorus is the only place they aren’t more disturbing than fitting, whereas its preceding songs, “Solace” and “Daybreak,” best emulate the aforementioned’s melodic-style making New Dawn something of a rarity – a record strongest in the middle. The band shows promise, and I very much like the fact the ten-minute finale “Return” is one of the album’s better songs, but Countless Skies seems to be writing bigger checks than it can afford to cash. — Karhu.
Earlier this year, black metal überfan Stanley told us how much orthodox blasters Void Omnia rip in the live setting. Thankfully, that rippage translates perfectly well to record, as new album Dying Light showcases five pure, unadulterated tracks of absolute rippingness. On his concert review, Stan noted that drummer Cody Stein always tilts his head just slightly before ripping into an unyielding cascade of blast beats. If that’s true, Stein’s head must have translated a full 360 degrees during the course of the first three tremolo-laden, non-stop blasting songs on this album. Things get really interesting on “Of Time,” though, as the band slows down the pace and injects some scrotum-squeezing doom riffs that grab you by the hojos and drag you upon an interstellar voyage that’s equal parts crushing (on account of the dong-vise grip) and glorious. Truly there’s some powerful sorcery afoot on Void Omnia’s second album. — W.
Cauchemar is a new acquaintance for me, and I never get excited when I see the words “female-fronted doom” etched into a promo letter. Purely because retro doom is one of the worst trends of the last few years (I love doom, but I don’t like poorly rehashed Led Zep-meets-Pentagram songs slowed down to a semi-crawl). Which means Chapelle Ardente is a welcome breath of fresh air, fresh being a relative term in this context – decades of doom echo throughout the record, and not every riff came from the band’s own pen. Riffing wise Cauchemar moves somewhere between the aforementioned Pentagram and Candlemass without directly sounding like either, and issuitably less memorable, mostly in tempo dashing for doom. There’s no wall of sound here, the guitars sounding fragile, which compliments the atmosphere of the album rather well. The all-French vocals might prove a bridge too far for some, but I like the dash of unique they add to the album, especially when there’s nothing to write home about the songs. Every single song, from “Nécromancie” through “Étoile d’argent” to La nuit des ámes” is rocking doom like you’ve heard it before, without any distinct pros or cons. But, like I said – the vocals keep it on the plus-side of things. — Karhu.
As a no-time Dark Funeral fan (mainly due to lack of exposure), I went in to Where Shadows Forever Reign expecting pretty much what every album that’s set to a blue/black ultra-grim cover contains:
sing-along flower metal no-frills black metal. And I was correct: the record is chock full of high-pitched screams, unrelenting blast beats and dismal tremolo picking that sets up the proper atmosphere for… a funeral? Sure. Of particularly fantastic note here is dummer Dominator, who weaves effortlessly from perpetual, high speed acrobatics into locked-in, hi-hat riding grooves. I highly enjoyed this slab of nothern darkness, but for all I know it could be the absolute worst thing Dark Funeral has ever put to tape, so I’ll leave that up to you to decide while I go discog diving. Check it out. — Moshito.
Get out your aromatic candless and draw the shades: The ‘Mass is back with four new tracks of depressiveness… only not so much this time around. Maybe it’s because I’ve listened to “Solitude” and the many other saaaaad songs it’s inspired so much, but these four tracks almost seem kind of happy to me. At any rate, Mats Levén kills it on the vocals and is the best singer Candlemass could have at this point, so that’s a good thing even if these tracks aren’t nearly as memorable as some from Levén’s previous project with bassist/head honcho Leif Edling, Krux. This will probably please diehard fans, but as a casual this is kinda… eh. Listen here. — Moshito.
Do you ever wish Vale of Pnath had more breakdowns? Yeah, me neither, but that’s exactly what you’re going to get with Dream of Scipio. However, as far as deathcore-tinged tech death goes, it’s pretty damn good. The majority of the riffing is superb, dancing elegantly across the fretboard from its highest reaches to its lowest depths. I’m a fan of the vocalist, too, who spits his lines with a shriek similar to Trevor Strnad and a beefy low growl. Even the breakdowns progress and push the music forward naturally instead of halting the action, even setting the backdrop for some awesome leads. At it’s worst, it can be pretty grating (“Together Unbreakable” is particularly cheesy), but at its best, it’s tons of headbanging fun. — Spear.