Jul 29, 2010

Place Of Skulls - As A Dog Returns Promotional Video

A one-minute promotional video for "As A Dog Returns", the long-awaited fourth full-length album from Knoxville, Tennessee doom metallers PLACE OF SKULLS, can be viewed below. Due this fall, the follow-up to 2006's "The Black Is Never Far" was recorded at Lakeside Studios in Knoxville by Travis Wyrick and founding guitarist/vocalist Victor Griffin (PENTAGRAM, DEATH ROW, CATHEDRAL, JOE HASSELVANDER), with drums recorded and engineered by Mike Dearing.

Said Griffin of the band's latest output: "The new album, 'As A Dog Returns', picks up dynamically where 'The Black Is Never Far' left off. Where 'The Black...' album had a bit more of a depressive theme lyrically, the new album tends to look to a brighter outcome. Musically we've gone further than ever before with dynamics and production. Though all the PLACE OF SKULLS' brand of heaviness you would expect is certainly there, there's a nice ebb and flow with quieter parts which tend to set a very dramatic and melancholy mood at times to the overall album.

"With every album we've done," he continued, "our growth and progression has been evident, and this new release is no different. I'm really enjoying the growth of my songwriting as time goes by. I don't feel as if I have anything to prove so I think the writing gets more open, honest, and genuine with every release.

"We're very excited to finally get a new album out and hit the road again!"

"As A Dog Returns" track listing

01. Timeless Hearts
02. Breath Of Life
03. Though He Slay Me
04. Psalm
05. Dayspring
06. The Maker
07. He's God
08. Desperation
09. As A Dog Returns

Formed in early 2000 by guitarist/singer/songwriter Victor Griffin, bassist Lee Abney and drummer Tim Tomaselli, PLACE OF SKULLS — a biblical reference to Golgotha — carries the torch of prior Griffin and Abney bands such as DEATH ROW and PENTAGRAM in the ever-burgeoning underground scene of doom metal. But as their sound continues to expand beyond those boundaries, they incorporate intricate dynamics in their songs that few bands of the same genre explore and lyrically reflect upon their spiritual beliefs, faith, God, politics, and the search for peace. Having stepped outside the proverbial box of "doom metal," PLACE OF SKULLS opens the door of accessibility to a whole other cross section of heavy rock enthusiast. But by no means should this be taken lightly. Their sound is as crushing and molten live as ever and no less threatening than any of their musical counterparts in volume. ( source - blabbermouth )



* Review Coming Soon To Doommantia Dot Com *

Jul 28, 2010

Abysmal Grief - Misfortune

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Regen Graves - Guitar, Labes C. Necrothytus - Vocals, Keyboards, Lord Alastair - Bass and Alexander Baël - Drums make up the Italian Horror Doom Metal band known as Abysmal Grief. Since forming in 1995, they have slowly built up a reputation of being one of the finest exponents of 70's influenced proggy occult doom obsessed with subject matter such as Divination, Occultism, Funereal Mysticism and of course Horror. In fact most of their tunes sound like they come from some 70's Italian horror movie and they nail that sound and style through simplistic music that is full of creepy and slightly morbid atmosphere. Since 1998, they have recorded demos, split albums, EP's and a couple of singles including the classic "Hearse" single released in 2002. Of course it was limited to 666 copies, what else would you expect from a band like this. The first full length album was released in 2007 and the CD version included a couple of bonus tracks, one of which was a cover of Paul Chain's Occultism. The "Misfortune" album is beautifully packaged in a very thick and heavy 4 way gatefold digipak adorned with great artwork of a graveyard scene on the inside and the purple and black color scheme is very striking. Its released on the amazingly good Black Widow Records, they have also have something to do with the Horror Records label. As a added incentive to purchase this disc it even comes with a bonus video of "Crypt Of Horror" which is the third track of gloom to feature on "Misfortune".

"Ignis Fatuus" (watch the Youtube video below) begins with medi-evil chanting to set up the dark and damp atmosphere that continues to flow through the entire album. Atmosphere is the key word when it comes to describing Abysmal Grief and "Ignis Fatuus" is a perfect opening track to this album of morbid curiosity. Basic doom riffing that sounds like it is set to standard tuning is joined by a churning church organ sound and Labes C. Necrothytus growling croon is menacing but has a very infectious style about it. The guitar solo that takes the song to its demise it pure 70's inspired greatness, while the band sticks to the basic Saint Vitus kind of plodding groove, they also surprise you with some inventive touches and the guitar solo in this tune and others are a major part of this album's excellence. "Cadaver Devotion" is up next and the song's title explains what this is all about and its a sinister, bizarre musical journey that would fit in any number of obscure gore flicks. Here is a lyric sample....

Failure through damnation
Grimness breaths that make them crawl
Celebrate this great tragedy
By evoking desperate souls
Walk the way without lights
Mourning clothes for the Quest
Touch the corpse, feel its charm
Prepare the rite... 

Organ is again the centerpiece of the track and again its very creepy and the sound coming out of the instrument is pure vintage. With no disrespect to Abysmal Grief, this the kind of organ sound that your grandmother might have got 50 years ago. I always thought that ancient sound was kind of eerie and on the Misfortune album, the sound is a perfect vehicle for creating these kinds of depressing hymns of doom.

"Crypt Of Horror" follows with a sickening sample of what sounds like worms chewing through your flesh, it could also be footsteps in a stone covered graveyard, whatever it is, its spine-chilling and effective. More Saint Vitus styled sinister riffing and rather than simply playing the riff this time, the organ is the background supplying pure notes of horror. As i previously mentioned, the music of Abysmal Grief is simplistic so don't expect big dramatic riff changes but do expect sounds rarely heard within the Doom Metal genre. "Crypt Of Horror" has a keyboard solo like nothing else heard in the last few years, its really hard to find the words to describe it but its weird. Another lyric sample....

The smell of dead which fills the air
Exalts your mournful realm
I leave the place of light and sun
Where people fear the gloom
And silently I celebrate
The World beyond the tomb

 "The Arrival Of The Worm" is like a soundtrack to someone awaiting a exorcism and the spoken word accompaniment delivered in what i think is Italian makes your flesh crawl. Easily the most depressing and darkest track here but also the most easily forgettable but still it adds to the already overwhelming dark atmosphere. "The Knells Accurse" slithers through your soul for over 7 minutes but without vocals, a great instrumental that is the most diverse offering on the album. The organ, keyboard, synth work is again the driving force to the piece and its magical and flawless with many subtle but interesting twists and turns along the way. The final track is the 13 minutes of "Resurrecturis", starting off with the most crushing riff on the album, this is depressing dirge made for the Traditional Doom fan that wants music made to reflect the doldrums they face in their daily lives. When they sing "We're entering the Reign of Gloom", you better believe it. The added wind- like sound effects contributes to the overall bleakness and despairing guitar riffs also add even more gloom. Its a fitting finale to the album and then you get the added pleasure of the bonus video directed by Lorenzo Zeppa which is almost worth the purchase price alone.

Sure this album is basic, a little repetitive in parts and a bit on the cheesy side of horror doom but its a engaging listening that flows remarkably well. The cold atmosphere is maintained throughout and the production is vintage but seriously warm and rich with earthly tones. The debut self-titled album was very good but this one is even better as it seems more complete with no filler moments to be heard. A soundtrack to your next visit to your local graveyard, this album people will love or hate but i can't stop spinning this disc from Abysmal Grief. Highly recommend this one. 9.5/10



Abysmal Grief Official Web Site
Black Widow Records
Horror Records @ MySpace
Horror Records
Regen Graves @ Myspace

Interview With Egregoir de Sang From Krief De Soli

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Krief de Soli are a ambient Funeral Doom one man band from Canada. Egregoir de Sang handles all the instruments and vocals but apart from the songs on the Myspace site, i know very little about the project. Luckily Aleks Evdokimov from Russia is here again to save the day with another great interview, reading this has really made me want to hear more from Krief de Soli. Check it out.

-Salute Egregoir! It's really hard to invent bloody original questions for an interview with band if there's no any info about it! So what are the reasons for such secrecy? There is no info in "Procul Este, Profani" CD's booklet, there's no info in your Krief De Soli MySpace profile. It looks too pompous, man - don't you think?
-Salut à tous, Aleks!
In my opinion to possess the characteristic aspect such as "pompous" or whatever else, something should exist before and if you say that there is no info about my project, how may it look as some kind of "pompousness"?
I don't think so. Moreover, I am proposing Krief de Soli, not the story of de Sang' kin life. Gennady (Endless Winter Productions) wrote quite fair words on his website, which are more than enough to know about me… the rest is possible to know through Krief de Soli's subject by listening at least. However, you had contacted me and we're having this dialog now - it is discrediting the mentioned "secrecy", isn't it?

-Well, I guess that you're right! So do you differentiate your true personality, Egregoir de Sang, and the man who stand behind Krief de Soli?
-Of course I do, but I'm not suffering from the dual personality, you can be sure. 

-Of course we are interested not in what you are eating right now or what is the name of your cat but what do potential listeners of Krief De Soli have to know about you and your project? And… well… do you have any home pet indeed?
-Krief de Soli was born in a small town called Sainte Agathe des Monts in Quebec. There I am the owner of a small studio where "Procul este, profani" was recorded. The project's birth reason first of all was music; the slowest, tragic, depressing atmosphere and cold movements which will draw in one's mind some savage landscapes… The further understanding depends only on that one's perception and ability to analyze as well as to infer…
And btw, yes, I have a male Labrador, his name is Pierce.

-You have the studio, so I can suppose that you recorded there not only your own CD "Procul Este, Profani". Do you work there with other bands? Though if you live in a small town as you say it could be quite difficult to find some underground bands there… What are the good sides of living in Sainte Agathe?
-No, I didn't record there anybody and there any plan to do so in the nearest future. I built it a few years ago with a single thought about KdS, so I did it monopurposely. As long as I am loosing the interest in doing something in monotonous manner, so I would use your idea at the first available moment in far future... but it is really hard to find some underground bands in my hometown…
Sainte Agathe des Monts has quite a lot of things to see and enjoy, including the beautiful Saranac Lake. It is very attractive in the Fall… but, objectively, it is an ordinary provincial town, not far from Montreal, with an interesting history and very kind people.

 -How it happened that the first Krief De Soli album appeared in January 2010 at Russian label Endless Winter? I still can't get accustomed when foreign bands go to Russian labels, does a percentage of trust to Russia grow in Canada?
-I can imagine that this question had been waiting for me regardless of label's home country where my album would be released in.
The story about how I was trapped to Endless Winter and how I did communicate with Gennady is simple: I was looking for a label in the Fall 2009 and had paid quite a lot of attention to Russian side. I wrote to Endless Winter also, which was the beginner-label for that time and immediately got an answer. Gennady had asked me for a demo, I sent it to him and soon I've got a reply with an offer to issue the available material as a full-length album. His offer was the best; material was ready and there was no any obstacle on the way to release it.
The reason of such movements is not in trust to Russia or vice versa - the reason is Russia itself. It is unique and attractive for the people, who were all this time behind the Iron Curtain.
I know very well (unfortunately not personally) bands Comatose Vigil and Abstract Spirit, which are from your country. They are writing a very good stuff possessing a special uniqueness that nobody in the world has.

-Ok, you released "Procul Este, Profani" this year and I would like to say that music in itself is good, it's normal if someone will remember Skepticism listening this album and the questions of musical influences are unnecessary, though I want to ask you: from where did you take this Christian "mass" fragments and parties of organ? Do you like religious music?
-No side fragments were used in "Procul Este, profani". Everything had been composed and played only by me. However, I cannot disclaim the fact that by introducing an organ (I think we both know that we are speaking about the synthesized organ, right?) in my music I will attract the comparison with somebody else, who had used it once before. I know and adore Skepticism; they had an influence on me, but not-so-much-to-say that the using of organ was inspired by them.
Yes, I like religious music, but the question should be clarified: religious music which is Bach, Wagner (their oratories and etc) or that religious music which you are not able to buy at any regular music store? The music which only bears the religious context is an exception. I prefer all, in each of them you can find something interesting and fascinating, therewith inspiring. I'm trying to create something in between, possessing the characteristics of both sides.

-But the music was always some kind of ritual though now most of musicians do not know which forces they drive with their tunes, don't you think about Krief de Soli from this point of view?
-Hm… Really good question… As long as we all are different and so different are our feelings, including feeling perception, everybody will understand the current situation in different way than somebody else. I cannot fully be sure, but I should say that I know which plug I'm pushing. Otherwise, I would not receive my inner feedback and KdS had not been in that shape as it exists now. Obviously, the next work should be the first manifestation of the path I have chosen.

-You used photos of some graveyard decorating "Procul Este, Profani". What is this cemetery? Why did you take these photos? Don't you think that such tendencies are orthodox and unoriginal from middle of 90es?
-I think that won't be very good to mention directly where when and by whom the pictures which decorate the booklet had been taken, but sure any copyright has not been broken. If somebody will recognize the place, well it will be as a tribute to memory, if not so let it be unknown. In any case, pictures represent the purport which I embedded into the music very precisely.

-I am not sure but it seems that there is a photo of Saint John's sculpture in the layout too and anyway your songs' lyrics were taken from his "Revelation". Chapters of Catholic Bible are same as in Orthodox, so the lyrics first two songs are a strange choice, man. It's a part of "addresses" to Churches. Why did you take these chapters?
-No, there is no sculpture of St. John in the booklet.
Let me clarify, that there is a one traditional view of The Holy Bible among the other interpretations. The Book of Revelation was written by John the Apostle while he had been exiled on Patmos. Any other differences come from different misinterpretations of the original text and sense.
Yes, you're right in the direction of thought: in the original text the first part is just a prologue, and two further chapters are dedicated to "Seven Churches". That's why the text of "Mei Oculi…" based on self-introduction of the writer himself and explanation of who is speaking with him. "The Word of God" is mentioned and established for the first time. Then, second song partially reflects the addressing to the Churches being stopped at the Pergamon: the Satan is mentioned for the first time by "[2:13] I know where you dwell, where the seat of Satan is, and that you hold to my name and have not denied my faith…" and in my point of view, the first curve at which I was needed to stop the story was reached. Logically, you can catch on mind that the story hasn't been finished… what is just the question of further work.

-What did you want to express as you took encoded Bible lyrics for your songs?
-…to set the parallel between the occurrence described in these chapters and the present being of humanity. No prediction, but prevention…

-You know that there is a lot of interpretations of The Book of Revelation because it's thrilling writings, and most of readers remember these apocalyptic visions, the beast, the scarlet whore and same stuff but rarely tries to understand what lies in other chapters - in such which you used in your songs for example. There are a lot of riddles in Bible and there's no key to some of them in the Testaments indeed. Don't you think that it could be hidden in some another sources? Parallels between Bible's story and modern days are intelligible but parallels between Bibl? and Bhagavath Ghita's teachings for example or some Indian sacred writings are most useful, they simply help to understand.
-Theoretically, everything is not deprived of the right to exist. I have to say that everything is more or less bound between each other, even though these units are completely incompatible. Exactly a few theories exist in that direction and a lot of agreements have been evidenced for now, but the contemporary Church won't allow these facts to spread out…
…it was the aim from the very beginning. The process of our creation was only one, but the numbers of stories told are a lot…
I don't really want to go deeper in this speculation now… It is something, what you should think alone with only your own thoughts and arguments.

-These lyrics are the part of your songs therefore there's another logical question: how does the lyrics supplement your music? How do they fulfill each other?
-We can spend tons of paper describing the impression and understanding of the whole Apocalypse. We can argue for hours about the interpretation of one or another phrase.
One famous person have said once: "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic as well as fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise."

-What is your conception of God?
-I forbore to answer on this question; don't feel insulted.

-You hang in Quebec and I know that dudes from Longing for Dawn hang there too; there is also Menace Ruine as I know, and do you communicate with other doom musicians?
-No, I don't. A few times I have seen both bands on the stage, but did not communicate with them. There are a lot of other good bands from Quebec; the majority is from Montreal or from outskirts (as I am). However, funeral doom isn't widespread here, more and more modern styles becoming popular, a lot of new and old black metal bands.

-Which good bands would you like to mention?
-The first, what comes on mind…? Misere Luminis (Gris et Sombre Forêts), Forteresse, Unexpect.

-What is modern Canada like now? It always seems like silent place but there was G8 summit two months ago. How do you think was it useful for the country? Was it useful at all?
-Canada is growing up with every year in all directions… except spiritual. This is very sad. More and more industrial areas replace natural scenery, but still Canada remains to be the country with smallest density of inhabitants per square unit and Quebec is the first proof of it: most population is concentrated to the south and south-east (Montreal, Quebec city, Sherbrook), while north territories are feebly occupied or mostly unoccupied with very beautiful and untouched nature landscapes. That is real "silent place" for body and spirit...
I don't like politics and don't follow its events, as well as don't care about G8, sorry.

-I have to ask you about your future plans because I really want to get next Krief De Soli CD. Do you already plan to record another album? What will it be about, man?
-I have just finished new material and if everything will go well, the record session will be started in the Fall 2010. We have to discuss with Gennady some aspects, but I'm quite sure that the next album will be released at Endless Winter. Album is called "Munus Solitudinis". The name means "crafted alone". It is about the monolith of our life which we have to build… I would say that there will not be so much religious context as I had put into the previous one, but darker and more ominous by all means... The plans are great and immediately after, the further work on preparing the continuation of the Book of Revelation based story will be started.


-Does it mean that you will base future releases on New Testament once again? Truly to say I think that it's strange: saying about "loneliness" ("Krief de Soli", "Munus Solitudnis") comparing funeral doom or another underground musical genre we could say about standard "human" solitude, but saying about solitude considering Christianity we say about state of lack of God in human life. What do you think?
-Oh yes, for sure I will.
The second question is quite opaque… I'm touching the topic of solitude because it is very close to me and to my being. Frankly saying, religious component in my being is sufficient and I had dared to base the lyrics of my first album on the Holy Scripture… No way to speak about the lacks neither in my surroundings, nor inside. However, I'm doing everything alone and it fits the conception too as the most simple and unsophisticated approach. We may agree on this variant of conception from now just to cancel a few other unclear moments...   

-That's all for this time! Thank you for the answers; hope to hear about Krief de Soli soon. Do you want something to add?
-I appreciated this nice conversation with you and I want to thank you for the interest in what I'm doing and, mainly, for your support! The best of luck in your work!
Take care, my friend.
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov ( metallibrary.ru )
Krief De Soli at Myspace
Endless Winter

The Abominable Iron Sloth - The Id Will Overcome

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When it comes to great band names, its hard to beat The Abominable Iron Sloth. Hailing from Seattle, Washington and Chico, California, they have released their long awaited sophomore album, The ID Will Overcome which songs encourages quotes like "this is crushing" to "what the f..k was that song all about". Without going into the entire history of the band, it seems to be centered around frontman Justin Godfrey and his band members are whoever happens to be hanging around him at the time. They have changed their name from The Abominable Iron Sloth to The Indomitable Iron Sloth and back again several times it seems and that also fits in with their " i am crazier than you can ever be" type of attitude. The Abominable Iron Sloth unleash their kind of sludge metal a bit differently to everybody else as well, song lengths on this album are very short which goes against the grain to what most sludge acts usually do. On top of that, they have eccentric choices for material.

On "The Id Will Overcome" they do a cover of a Charles Manson song titled "Big Iron Door" which provides a surprisingly clean moment, at the other end of the spectrum is "Heterodox Nonconformists" which is 14 minute collection of sounds that is atmospheric to a point but also extremely irritating and when you consider it takes up a huge chunk of this album's playing time, it's a waste of valuable CD space. However, that track is the only real disaster, the rest of the disc is a trip into some fine swampy sludge with only the occasional misfire along the way. The short running times of the tracks mean by the time you get to "Two Black Helicopters", you basically don't know what song you are listening as one song bleeds directly into the next. Along with "Two Black Helicopters", the preceding track called "Slugs In A Salt Circle" is one of the best tracks on the album. Low ended grooves that barely move above anything beyond crawling are intertwined with angry screeching vocals that are a acquired taste i would imagine but i actually like the vocal approach.

The vocals will be a key factor in whether you dig this album or not because there is literally no variation in the screeching throughout the entire album and its hard to listen to the music without having that voice drilling holes in your skull. The title track is the other big highlight on the disc along with "Nineties Male" which have some cohesiveness to them but the rest of the album is pretty much hit or miss depending on your own personal tastes. One example of a miss is "Tramp Stamp" which sounds like Eyehategod trying to play grunge but at only a bit over a minute long, duds like these pass by quickly. When its good, it can wipe the floor with just about any other sludge band you care to mention but to me it is too scattered and not much gels too well at all. The music and lyrics are inspired by the general hatred for everything humanity stands for and on that level, this disc is a fitting soundtrack. Fans of Grief and Eyehategod should fall off their collective chairs with some of the dissonant, slime infested swampy dirge they produce and while there is about 15 - 20 minutes of so-so sludge meets hardcore punk metal, that leaves another 20 minutes of absolute killer material.

I am sure some people will bypass this album purely because of the band's name and some will be turned off by the vocals but in my view, this is still a worthy listening experience that is like acid being poured in your eardrums. This is one of the most dirty, filth ridden albums of the year and i know most fans of sludge and doom will love this but those not in tune with the genre will roll their eyes in disgust which is exactly the effect The Abominable Iron Sloth are looking for. A little patchy but a punishing release. 7/10

The Abominable Iron Sloth @ MySpace
Black Market Activities

Jul 27, 2010

Black Hole - Land Of Mystery

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Here is a blast from the past, its a re-release of the 1985 album from Italy's Black Hole titled "Land Of Mystery". Its been re-released by the great Black Widow label as a digipak CD, including the original album and "Angel Of Lucifer" and "Crying Puppets" as bonus tracks. Listening to this album for the first time in some 15 years or more bought up some interesting observations, the first one is how Doom Metal as we know it today never really existed till the mid 90's and beyond. If you listen to albums like this one, the early Trouble albums and the like and also 70's bands like Jerusalem, Necromandus and Icecross you soon noticed none of these bands are really Doom Metal. Some follow in the footsteps of Sabbath and are therefore are a bit gloomy but still nothing like the Doom Metal released now days. The other bands are more in a Progressive Hard Rock mold. If we were to class anything slow and gloomy as being Doom Metal, then close to half of all New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands could be classified as Doom Metal now. Of course genres and the meaning of musical tags changed over time but it seems we have lost sight of what Doom really is. This Black Hole album is another album now given the "Doom Metal" tag and it has plenty of dark elements but its really a mixture of Prog meets early 80's British Heavy Metal but its a awesome album that was ignored at its time of release and still all these years later is underrated.

Given the context of metal in the mid 80's, it is easy to see why this album never made it big, its totally different to the Thrash, Black Metal scene that was exploding at the time. Opening track "Demoniac City" starts off doomy enough, almost in a Gothic-Doom style but the track soon turns into a mid-tempo headbanger just like any number of other early 80's Heavy Metal bands and its the album's weakest track overall. The title track that appears next is cheesy but at the same time is a classic piece of occult/horror hard prog rock similar to Death SS and Paul Chain. It also has a early Goblin vibe, Goblin was a Italian band responsible for many horror movie soundtracks like Dawn of The Dead, Susperia and Zombie. The song has stood the test of time very well in light of the resurgence in horror related bands that is happening these days. The creepy church organ sound, a throbbing bass sound you just don't hear anymore, psychedelic guitar leads and echoey vocals sung in a very thick Italian accent. The main man of Black Hole was Robert Measles, a accomplished musician who was very much part of the whole dungeons and dragons type metal scene of the 80's. One of the main strengths that Black Hole had is the warm production and the atmosphere they created, even Trouble could have only dreamed of making something this eerie sounding.

"All My Evil" features more of those throbbing, almost funky bass lines and the guitar playing from Nicholas Murray contains mysterious and meandering melody lines. Its a little campy in places and the vocals don't help the situation, the singing is very un-even and sounds more like something that would suit early Genesis more than a horror metal band. "All My Evil" is real fun to listen however and if the music doesn't excite you too much you should get a chuckle out of this, even Spinal Tap would be proud of this track. "Bells Of Death" could have been a Death SS cover but its not, a great atmospheric track it is though with some great riffing and melancholic organ work. "Blind Men And Occult Forces" is the next track up and its a masterpiece. Its a proggy, doomy tune with a slithering riff line that builds till you get to the chorus when it pushes you over the edge in a musical kind of hell. It might not sound too dark compared to what gets released now, but this is horrifying stuff for 1985. "Spectral World" is the least heaviest track but easily the most psychedelic, the funky bass lines are back along with some freaky sounding church organ sounds. The final track on the original album was a instrumental titled "Obscurity In The Ethereal House", it starts off with a mid-paced gallop before heading in another spacey, proggy direction. Its a cool way to finish the original album but with the re-release you get two bonus tracks.

"Angel Of Lucifer" is the first of the 2 extra tracks and its alright but sounds a little like a throwaway track that didn't make it to the "Land Of Mystery" album. The song is saved by some great organ work and guitarist Nicholas Murray interesting lead lines which is always changing, twisting and is always very inventive. How this dude didn't become a legend among other guitar players is a mystery to me. The other bonus cut is "Crying Puppets" and its awesome, full of atmosphere with melodic, soaring guitar leads and cosmic energy. When is comes to obscure records from the past that is within the realms of Doom Metal, Black Hole's Land Of Mystery is a no brainer, you must seek it out for a essential purchase. The vocals might take a little to get used to as well as the production, it was recorded in 1985 after all but it has stood the test of time very well indeed. Most other bands from the mid 80's haven't been as lucky as this band, the production is a bit thin but it is still warm at the same time. The musicianship is flawless, even the drumming is exceptional so its only the vocals that might be a sticking point. This is for fans of Paul Chain, Death SS, Goblin and Cirith Ungol and for fans of early Progressive Rock that had a horror-soundtrack vibe to it. Again thanks to the excellent Black Widow label for sending this to me to review, without them i would have forgotten how good this band was and that would have been tragic. On a side note, Black Hole recorded another album is 2000 titled "Living Mask" and then disappeared off the radar forever. That is a shame because the Land Of Mystery album is a essential, long lost obscure classic slab of gloomy, atmospheric Doom Rock. 9/10

Black Widow Records

Jul 26, 2010

Rigor Sardonicous - Vivescere Exitium

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Not many people know that Long Island's apocalyptic Doom extremists Rigor Sardonicous have been around since 1988. The band is centered around just two gentlemen namely Joseph J. Fogarazzo - Vocals, Guitar and Glenn Hampton - Bass. In the fine doom tradition of taking things slow and easy, their first full length didn't appear till 1999. That was the beast known as "Apocalypsis Damnare" released on Paragon Records. 2002 came along and they appeared on a 7" with The Forgotten. "Principia Sardonica" was released in 2004 with a re-recorded version of "Apocalypsis Damnare" being released in 2005. The re-recorded version sounded even sicker than the original as unbelievable as that may seem. Not happy with just re-recording one album, they went back to the studio again to re-record their original demo titled "Risus ex Mortuus". That album was released by released by Russian label Endless Desperation Records in 2006 and they inserted a hilarious cover version of the Kiss track God Of Thunder. A split album with Dimentianon in 2007 was followed by another full length monstrosity called "Vallis ex Umbra de Mortuus". By monstrosity i am actually given the band a compliment, the crusty sound and the thick as tar sound is still one of the most over powering sounds ever recorded in my opinion. It wasn't for the faint hearted or for folks with a queasy stomach, this is music made for the deranged and the very disturbed. That brings us to last year when they released as a free download a complete live performance recorded at University Cafe in Stony Brook, NY in 2009.

Now how do you describe a band like Rigor Sardonicous, well how indeed? This band takes the Doom traditions and pushes it to extreme levels of intimidating bleakness, the sound is raw, primitive and so swampy, they really sound like no one else. The music also sounds deceptively simple but there is a method to their madness and as the music grows on you like a infected wart, you slowly begin to realize, there is more to the songs than first meet the eardrums. Its ugly Doom for the extreme Doom freak, casual listeners of the genre are bound to feel physically ill while listening to this band ( just a health warning for ya ). Then you have the sickening vocals, Fogarazzo's lyrics are vomited and gurgled at you and never rise above anything higher than super low and guttural. This live album features no less than 18 of these tracks which span the bulk if not their entire career as a band together. Note though that some of these tracks are nothing more than very short interludes of noise, distortion, crushing bass notes or a combination of all three. The live show begins with a creepy intro piece titled "Praedestinare" that prepares you for the rather nightmarish experience you are about to be subjected to. When "Anima Interitus" comes spewing forth, you are buried under waves of distortion and ugly, crawling sonic noise that is similar to being slowly crushed to death and i mean real slow, the track barely moves along at all. They were once described as being like a snail on sedatives and that is a accurate assessment totally.

After another mind-numbing interlude comes "Saprophyte" with a sound and vibe that is beyond anything else in the Doom scene. This makes Sunn O))) sound like Deep Purple, the tones are truly horrific and add to that the burping, demented vocal mumblings and you left with something that is outer worldly and excessive. "Alveus De Somnus" picks up the pace with a little faster, chugging riffing but it still sounds painfully slow. "Laudare Apocalypsis" is one of the ugliest tracks and the lack of no real drum sound expect for the odd crashing of cymbals and something like someone hitting a hammer on a coffin lid makes this very dark, sparse and mentally un-balanced (no offense guys)! "Little Rigor Boy" is their version of Little Drummer Boy, yes the Christmas song from the 1950's and its a side splitting tune that had me rolling on the floor with laughter when i first heard it. Rigor Sardonicus have always had a element of black humor, their version of god of thunder was one of them but "Little Rigor Boy" beats that just for plain over the top hilarity. "Jewish Massacre" has somewhat of a Traditional Doom Metal riff but again its arranged with the band's unusual brand of apocalyptic grittiness. "Despair" is a depressing and a putrid slab of nasty swampy droning Doom and i find it slightly infectious, does that make me deranged too, maybe but there is a hook there, just look for it under the mud and slime infested bass sound.

The last two real tracks separated by more interludes of un-pleasantness is "Sleepness" and a happy little number titled "Parasitosis". "Parasitosis" is actually a fast tune and serves as a surprise this late in the album. Maybe best compared to early grind such as Carcass, this sickening, gut wrenching explosive noise attack is a killer way to finish the album. I couldn't listen to much more than one track like this so its with relief i can say its the only song on the album in this vein. This is my first review of Rigor Sardonicous but i have read many reviews of their albums in the last couple of years and one thing that keeps on being asked is, are they serious? Is this a joke band and are they taking the piss as the British would say. I think they are serious, just so extreme its hard to take their sound all in at first. The mixture of horror laced funeral Doom Metal and the black humor especially in "Little Rigor Boy" sounds refreshing to me, after all Funeral Doom can be fun, no really! The production is raw but all of their releases are and really there is no other way to record and produce a band like this. Most people in the Doom community will find this a little extreme but personally i think this is Doom Metal gold, download it and play it loud. You will piss off a lot of people but who the hell cares, this kills. 9/10

Rigor Sardonicous
Rigor Sardonicous @ MySpace

The Sand Collector - Lord Of The Sun

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From Spain comes another Stoner Metal band called "The Sand Collector". The band is very new at only a year or so in existence but they have already recorded this great demo that shows they have the riffs to satisfy most Stoner Rock fans and also the more older schooled Heavy Metal fan. The band was formed when Julian Velasco and Miguel A. Fernandez who played together in a past formation of a post Metal / Doom band called Nahrayan got together. Also interesting is some of the riffs that now make their mark in Sand Collector tunes were originally written back in the days of Nahrayan. The Sand Collector began as a three piece till finally a complete line up was settled on with the addition Pepe Belda on vocals and Fernando Ferre on second guitar. The band list their influences as Black Sabbath, Clutch, Neurosis, Cathedral to name just a few and for once, the influences do pretty much describe what you hear in this band.

The album kicks off in heavy-duty rocking fashion with "Human Machine", this is a killer chunk of riffing fury and the pulverizing drumming really kicks this tune along. The vocals of Pepe wail and fit the furious guitar work perfectly, its also very infectious making the tune a instant winner all round. The following "Spirit" is thicker and more groove based, the Clutch influence comes through on this one and it rocks but maybe a little close to Clutch for me but that is just my opinion and one not designed to put down this track because its a pretty cool tune. "Lord Of The Sun" is up next and continues in a similar vein but with a extra dose of Doom added to the sound, the band has a real vicious punch to their sound and this title track is a major highpoint of the promo. "Jupiter" and "Who Laughs Now" is more of the same, the band gets a little stuck in the same gear and that is not a bad thing but the songs are little synthetic in their arrangements. At least album closer "IX" does work hard at creating a slightly different atmosphere, "IX" is the doomiest track overall and the longest, the main riff alone is enough to floor the masses but Pepe's vocal strangulation's is particularly strong in this song.

The Sand Collector isn't exactly original but its about the riffs at the end of the time and they have them to spare. They have a excellent vocalist and a real heavy duty rhythm section. The guitar team of Julián Velasco and Ferando Ferre are flawless and the songs are instantly infectious and memorable. Rather than being a "poor mans" Clutch, they sound even better than Clutch in my view especially in light of Clutch's recent albums which to me have a little weak. Can't say much more about this promo release except if you like the bands influences, then you will dig them. The album is up for free download which seems to be the way these days so check it out. Its a pretty solid, kick-ass recording. 8/10

Myspace
Download "Lord of the sun" CD

Downtune Despondency On Brutal Existence Radio

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Brutal Existence Radio has always been a great supporter of Doom Metal and its related genres, starting off with the short-lived but excellent Funeralopolis Show, then came Crestfallen on Friday nights with Kev. Since then even more Doom has been hitting the airwaves with the great Stoned Insanity and the Soggy Bog Podcast. Now another show is up and running on Monday nights and its headed by the Downtune Despondency team. Downtune Despondency was started in Australia by Nikki (a.k.a Kitty) but also as part of the team is Doom Metal purist's Matthew (a.k.a Cavewizard), Beth and Kenny. Downtune Despondency has been a major inspiration to me personally, without them the Doom Metal Alliance, Earthdog Promotions and Doommantia.Com wouldn't have even got off the ground. There is so much Doom Metal on the airwaves now, that it can provide a 24/7 soundtrack to your lives if you wish and Downtune Despondency on for 4 hours on a Monday night is one essential part of the Doom Metal Internet Radio schedule. Tune In and get some Doom !

www.myspace.com/downtunedespondency
www.myspace.com/downtunedespondencyradio
www.myspace.com/brutalexistenceradio
brutal existence official

The Red Coil - Slough Off EP

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I got sent this very well produced and tight EP from Italian band, The Red Coil. Musically over the course of three tracks the band walks the fine line between the Stoner Metal sounds of Down, Kyuss and early Black Label Society and the more mainstream Hard Rock/Metal sounds of Pantera and Godsmack. This promo EP was recorded way back in Febuary of 2009 so i imagine they have a lot newer material by now so i will be interested in if they are heading in a commercial direction as this EP suggests or if they will choose a heavier more groove based route. This EP is available as a free download from their Myspace page so go check it out, you got nothing to lose, its free!

The short EP (under 15 minutes in total) begins with "Burning Shores" and the immediate influences are transparent but this is one finely tuned machine. The twin guitar work is great, tight but very much sounds a little over produced for my tastes but this is the kind of sound people apparently want these days so i can't see any reason why people won't go ape over this. The vocals are also in the mold of bands like Down and they deliver the goods in a aggressive but melodic style. The second track, "Traces Inside" is a little darker with some whiskey soaked crunching riffing and some nice low ended bass, there is also a cool bluesy lead break in the mellow slow down in the middle of the track. Some American southern rock influence shines through in small but powerful sections, "Traces Inside" is the best track of the three just because its a little more diverse than the other two tunes.

The final track with the great title, "Breakfast Blues With Lucifer" is another cruncher for the most part. It nicely climbs in heaviness and contains some impressive melodic lead playing but ends rather abruptly, not sure if this was intentional or not but the way the track gets cut off sounds a little premature especially while the impressive lead is still building in melodic intensity. While this band is not really my thing, i can also see a huge future for The Red Coil, they certainly have more going for them than most of the mainstream bands out there that get given the "Stoner Metal" tag. I have to be honest, i think calling this "Stoner" is a real stretch of the imagination but its still high quality music played by accomplished musicians. Expect them to a regular on VH1 Hard Rock and Metal shows within a year or two, they are a damn fine band that has that commercial appeal the mainstream seem to crave. Grab the free download. 8/10

www.myspace.com/theredcoil

Jul 25, 2010

Merca - Chup Amela

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Today's long lost and forgotten album comes from Dutch band Merca and its a album titled "Chup Amela". Merca has a much newer album than this one under the Doom microscope in this review but i haven't heard it as yet. This album recorded in 2006 is a album that has had some mixed reactions from what i have read on the Internet and i find that a little strange because its a decent album. I had a argument with someone recently who was trying to make the point that the Doom Metal community was caught up in some kind of elitism and therefore will call anything good as long as it falls under the Doom Metal banner. One of the bands this misguided person named as such a band was Merca. Now Merca are far from the greatest band in the Doom scene and they are far from being anything original or ground-breaking but good Doom is good Doom. I don't hear anything too original in the Death or Black Metal scenes either so why single out bands like Merca seems like a pointless discussion. The other bands this guy mentioned was The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan, interesting enough because those two bands are the main two bands that Merca sounds like. Anyway on with the review.

Merca are from Holland but rather than taking its influence from other Euro-Doom bands, their sound is firmly rooted in American Doom and Stoner Metal such as The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan and Pentagram being the more obvious ones. The album starts off a little on shaky ground with "High Blood Pressure" and "Skull City", these two tracks are basically totally recycled Doom meets Stoner Metal and they are not bad but its very unimaginative and kind of bland to be honest. However stick with the album because there is a big turnaround from here on in, the next track up is a tune called "Abandoned Ship" and everything falls into a steady groove. While the track is derivative of nearly every band Wino has ever been in, its a well played and well composed track all the way through. This song is the only song on the album to feature on vocals someone called Harold, i believe this guy was fired from the band just before recording the album. Its also one of the songs on the album where the guitar playing comes off as slightly inspired instead of merely going through the motions of typical doom riffing. Other tracks like "Mirrors And Bullets" and "Walking Tombstones" have some good riffs and a certain charisma to them. The band has a relaxed approach to playing it seems but this adds to the warmth and to the character of the tunes.

Niels who handles the guitar and vocal duties has a one dimensional approach but its also a warm, kind of friendly vibe he puts forward even though the band is very doomy. The bass playing and drumming however is very mundane and lacking in anything that comes close to dynamics so much so that if you were to take away some of the lead breaks, most of the songs would sound very insipid and a very dull. The album also fails terribly in the production which sounds flat and lifeless. That aside, Merca's "Chup Amela" does have a character and a certain charm all of its own,  the type of album that while its predictable and full of every Stoner/Doom cliche known to mankind, it also has some great grooves to some of the compositions. After releasing this album, they recorded something called "El Vil Metal de Merca.do" and haven't really been heard off much since. Looking at their Myspace page shows they are still active but seem to be very much hiding in the underground with very little information to be found anywhere. This disc shows a under-developed potential but potential all the same so i have no problem rating this album as being still very listenable and mostly enjoyable. Its a little short and irritating at only 33 minutes long especially when all the good tunes happen from track three through to track seven but still worth checking out. They were a band to watch out for when this was recorded in 2006 and they still are and i for one am waiting patiently for Merca to make their next move. Out on PsycheDOOMelic Records. 6.5/10

www.myspace.com/mercarock
www.merca.nl
PsycheDOOMelic   

Jul 24, 2010

Obsidian Sea - Promo 2010

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Obsidian Sea got together in the beginning of 2009 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Being a Bulgarian band may seem rare and it is rare to get hear Doom Metal coming from that country but judging by the amount of views we get here from Bulgaria at Doommantia.Com, Doom Metal must have a solid following. I also have to say Obsidian Sea are the best band i have heard from there so far, even though its early days for the band and this is just a promo disc, the quality of the sound and the high quality doom riffage contained within shows that this a band to keep a eye on in the future. The band came together with a love and passion for everything from Black Sabbath to Saint Vitus but the vibe also has a strong Celtic Frost/Hellhammer element to it. I always thought Frost had more to do with Doom Metal that they ever got credit for and here is another band showing how much influence they had on the Doom Metal underground. The lyrics and concepts move around esoteric mysteries and legends of ancient times and the sound of the band is also very deeply rooted in the old school.

The first track "Beneath" is a perfect blend of Saint Vitus plodding riffing and Celtic Frost's dark mid-tempo chugging. The atmosphere is also very dark and sinister, hardly original of course but the way the song is executed pretty much sounds like a homage to the doom greats from the last 25 years. Along with a clean, driving guitar sound you also have some huge cannon-like drum pounding, almost like they are using the floor tom instead of a snare drum at times, this induces a very big sound. After the driving section is over, the creepy riff work kicks in and the vocals match the morbid atmosphere. The voice sounds very much like a cross between Scott Reagers and early Tom Warrior as he was known as in the early Celtic Frost days. "The Seraph" continues in the same vein, a churning riff that at times swaggers and struts is the key to this track and it works but its a rather recycled approach. The recycling of such a great timeless sound and approach is not a bad thing though, especially when the riffs are so good and Obsidian Sea do deliver some killer riffs on this promo. There is also some great lead breaks that come in and out the song usually in a wailing style. Most important though is the tune has a infectious mid-tempo rhythm so its a very easy tune to take in and basically get your rocks off to. "The Seraph" is a great tune and a highlight on the promo.

Track three is "Flaming Sword" and they up the Doom vibe here to a monster level of Reverend Bizarre styled creepiness and depressive atmospheric elements. Slowly building but always gaining in intensity, the nine minutes of "Flaming Sword" never gets stuck in a plodding quagmire. The mid-tempo change around 7 minutes in is hair raising stuff, especially the melodic lead section that adds a medi-evil theme to the song in its dying stages. The final track is titled "Curse Of The Watcher" and is maybe the most concise piece of song-writing out of the four tracks. Take special note of twisting tempo riff change halfway through, it may sound odd at first but there is something purely majestic about it. I found myself going back to just that bit over and over again, brilliant stuff indeed. Being such a new band, i get the feeling listening to this that they haven't quite figured out their style just yet but the four tracks here show huge potential for the future. The production on the promo is raw but very big and the riffs are dynamic in their depressive, gloomy style. They have a brand new Myspace page so give them some time to add some information and more details on the band and they also have a official website that is also still in the construction stage by the looks of it. Obsidian Sea is another band high on the list of great new bands of 2010, still unsigned as far as i am aware so all you labels take note, check them out. Promising Doom from Bulgaria. 8/10

www.myspace.com/obsidianseaband
obsidian-sea.hit.bg

Jul 22, 2010

Crowned In Earth - Visions Of The Haunted

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In such as a specialist form of music like Traditional Doom Metal, it takes a special musician to do it justice. You have to know how to write the riffs, how to build the atmosphere and how to stick to the Doom Metal blueprint but do it some justice at the same time. Kevin Lawry (Silent Winter, Khthon) has got together with drummer Darin McCloskey (Pale Divine, Sinister Realm) to create this monster of a recording out on the great Shadow Kingdom Records label. Lawry sings and plays guitar, bass and organ on the album and his musicianship is second to none in terms of zoning in on the Trad-Doom style. Musically inspired by all the legends of Doom starting with Sabbath of course but also modern giants such as Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Trouble but also the Funeral Doom sounds of Ahab. This combination of influences is common place among Doom Metal bands but not many nail the styles like the Crowned In Earth project. What is also important is Lawry doesn't use any fancy studio effects or production, this is stripped down, raw and organic, you know the way it should be done.

Starting with "The Sun Never Stays", the sound is what immediately grabs you by the balls. This is pure and honest with a huge guitar sound, crushing bass groove and solid drumming. There is a lengthy musical introduction to the album before the vocals come in and its so good, it could have been a instrumental and it wouldn't have matter one little bit. When the voice does happen, it is a striking, clean tone you are greeted with. Lawry has the perfect kind of vocals for Traditional Heavy Doom, its clean but its commanding and it perfectly matches the guitar sound. Admittedly the songs might not be too original but its true English Doom and it carries on the time honored tradition of great riffs, melodic arrangements and the depressive atmosphere that is haunting and gives the feeling of isolation and despair. The melody lines are very retro sounding and very much in the early to mid 70's Sabbathian style. "The Voice That Controls" follows nicely, similar in some ways but another cool, crushing song that never loses your attention. The drummer on this album is part of the great Pale Divine and there is more than just a passing similarity in some passages.

"Downward Spiral" is another killer track whose greatness is boosted by some up-tempo sections, these bits seem to fit effortlessly into the arrangement and don't seem out of place at all. Some bands in the Doom Metal realm who insert these elements come off sounding forced and unnatural but here its executed with glorious ease. "Miles I Walk" is up next and sounds very much in the vein of early Cathedral, slow, plodding but with sinister riffing, this tune also features some of the best lead solo's on the disc. The lyrics which seem to be very much from the personal point of view are basic but great, "Miles I Walk" has the line " Stumbling Through This Life On Sorry Bones" which is pretty much how i feel at the moment. The final track is maybe the best on the disc, called "Awaken", its a juggernaut of Doom Metal. A complete package, the funeral marching organ menacing crawls along with the ominous riffing but this time around it has a more modern Doom vibe meets Italian Prog Rock of the early 70's. Bands like Reverend Bizarre is what you first think of when hearing this track but there is also a underlying occult vibe much like that of the early Italian proto-doom scene. This is also a track that needs a part two or a extension as it seems to finish rather suddenly and uncompleted and this is not a complaint, merely the song is so good it seems like it could continue for another 10 minutes.

Along with other newcomers to the UK Doom Metal scene namely Witchsorrow, Serpent Venom and Iron Void, Crowned In Earth are the next big thing lurking in the underground Doom Metal scene. The only negative side of this disc is its terribly short at only 35 minutes long and whenever you hear songs as good as these, that time flies by much too quickly. The good news is Lawry is suppose to working on the follow up to this beast and we should hear some news on that real soon. Can it be any better, yes it can but only just. The organ sound could be bigger, at times it sounds a little thin and the while the production is huge, it is still lacking something that i cant quite put my finger on just yet. These are very very minor quibbles however, this is a masterpiece that deserves to be sitting next to the other greats of Doom Metal in your collection. Buy it and be doooooomed!! 9/10

Crowned In Earth MySpace
Shadow Kingdom Records - Official label website

Lost in Darkness - Acanto Ignis Profanus

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Acanto "Ignis Profanus" is a self-released EP from a Death/Doom outfit from Colombia called Lost In Darkness, a fitting name for a very dark sounding band indeed. Their Myspace page list their influences as My Dying Bride, Novembers Doom, Saturnus, Inborn Suffering, Katatonia (old), Anathema (Old), Ningizzia, Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Pentagram and Cathedral but this band is some aspects are darker than all of those put together. The band have also taken the usual step by listing influences in their writing such as Leon de Greiff, Porfirio Barba Jacob, Gonzalo Arango,Rafael Pombo, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Lovecraft and Friedrich Nietzsche. I often thought that some Doom Metal bands are the musical equivalent of these great people in history so its great that they acknowledge these great people from history especially the likes of Lovecraft and Nietzsche who have a big influence on me personally through their great works.

Lost In Darkness play blackened Death Doom that stays clear of the usual gothic overtones usually found in this genre. Usually with non-english speaking bands, the lyrical content can be a issue. Lost In Darkness are blessed with a vocal sound that doesn't require a translation in order to be effective, the growling and demented blackened vocals here are delivered with a musical force of a instrument in itself so therefore becomes a integral part of the overall sound. It enhances the songs rather than works against the listening pleasure of this recording. Musically they rather cleverly don't go overboard in any one direction, the Doom Metal riffing is used in such a way that its always effective and never falls into the trap of plodding repetition. The Black Metal elements that the band possesses are also used in a sparse but in a very effective manner. "Mis Últimas Palabras" and "Adagietto" are tracks that combine a deathly menacing vibe with some very tuneful, melodic lead guitar work.

The title track "Acanto "Ignis Profanus" maybe best represents the musical diversity this band has with symphonic keyboards floating over the top of blackened growls and tastefully played guitar work that range from crunching power-metal to the progressive to passages that provoke a very evil sounding atmosphere. The EP is available as a free download and also includes the "Ad Perpetuam - Rei Memoriam" demo recorded in 2008. The 3 tracks included are 3 of the strongest tracks on the download especially "Basium Mortis" which is a very dramatic slab of Death meets ambient Doom Metal. If you are looking for some death doom that goes beyond the plodding vibe of the generic and want something with a bit more class and finesse, Lost In Darkness is a band you must hear. Impressive. 8.5/10

Lost in Darkness @ MySpace

As Light Dies - Ars Subtilior From Within The Cage ( A Second Opinion )

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So, yeah, this is pretty bad by any standards. I wondered what all the fuzz was about, so I gave this record repeated listenings before writing this review, or a 2nd opinion if you will. These fine gentlemen from Spain, Madrid "an Eclectic Mineral band grown from the filth of depressive and arid plains of Iberia" state on their myspace: "Do you think that a frozen forrest [sic] is inspiring? We don't have forrest to inspire but the desolation indeed. We don't need tools to create, we just evacuate the shit from within. Extreme influences, extreme sounding, extreme eclecticism. Music from everyplace and noplace, from everytime and no time, made out with everything and nothing, but not for everyone."

Now, let me make this clear: I'm not an English native speaker, so my English is not perfect at all, in writing or orally. That's why I won't delve too much or too deep into the textual level of the above snippet. I had my share of close reading (English, Dutch, medieval Dutch) so I want to go the distance with this text, but for the love of God I can't make out what the band is sharing here. I guess and I hope that by 'forrest' they don't mean this 'forrest' (according to the online free dictionary):

For·rest (fôrst, fr-), Nathan Bedford 1821-1877.
American Confederate general who was active at the battles of Shiloh (1862) and Chickamauga (1863). He was a founder and the first leader (1866-1869) of the Ku Klux Klan.

And what does "we just evacuate the shit from within" even means? Their music is said to "made out with everything" so does eclecticism equals promiscuity now? I have now idea. Okay, so much for splitting hairs, let's move on to the music on Ars Subtilior From Within The Cage. One more (textual) thing about the title though. Freely translated, it means 'the more subtle art from within the cage' (?).

So, what about the music then? Stylistically, it's somewhere between Amorphis, Within Temptation and Therion. Yes, you do get a lot of instruments and symphonies, with regular male vocals, but also some death metal-like vocals, and even some female vocals. Also, there are a lot of these instrumental interludes, which take away much of the tension that was build up during songs, listen for example to track number three called Le Nebuleux Sentier. No idea why they use different languages in their song titles, but so far I can distinguish four languages: English, French, German and Spanish. Guess it shows how eclectic they are. Okay, if you want to hear how simple these boring interludes sound, skip to track number five: Die Letze Fuge Vor Der Flucht. The organ, right? Why? I'll leave it at that.

Conceptually though, I dig what they're trying to do, although practically it doesn't work on this release for me. What I like less, is the shoegaze feel these songs have: the narrator of some of the tracks dwells too much in the more negative connotations his emotions have. When we look at the album as a whole, I think it has too much pathos: and don't get me wrong, I love the hell out of Meat Loaf. But on this particular release, it's just too much of guzzling in negativity and self-pity.

The main problem I have with this album is its strange compositions. For example, have a listen to song number seven: Sombra Y Silencio. A song like this would fit nicely on the Eurovision Songfestival. To come back to the Within Temptation comparison: actually my dad went to a Within Temptation concert recently, and he loved the show to pieces. Maybe that's what been missing with this music - the right context. For all we know, this band could work very well for a certain public and within a certain context.

Oh, and it's not extreme at all I think. It's just boring and pompous.

I'd be happy to answer any valuable questions about this review: you can reach me via Doommantia. ( see the contact page )


2 out of 10

As Light Dies @ Myspace

Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

Nomad Son - The Eternal Return ( sneak peak )

I will be reviewing this monster as soon as i can but i found this video on Youtube so here is a little sample.




Nomad Son @ Myspace
Metal On Metal Records @ Myspace

Jul 21, 2010

Heathendom - S/T

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It goes without saying that the Greek Heavy Metal scene has always had great but very underrated bands. I don't if its a isolation thing but the Greeks have always found it hard to rise up to the next level of success even though they made have solid following's in Greece. The same can be said for Italian bands, that is a real shame because the Greek Metal scene has produced some of the most classic Metal ever, no more classic that Heathendom. Their full length debut "Nescience" was released 10 years after the formation of the band, on July 15th 2008 and that is a sheer masterpiece in its own right. A review for that album will be published in the coming weeks, the band are also preparing to release a album titled ""The Symbolist", that album should see the light of day in October. According to their Myspace site, the band are moving away(slightly) from the Doom Metal elements into a more dark US and Scandinavian Power Metal approach, i hope they don't forget about the doom too much because the two albums i have heard are a perfect blend between classic HM and old-school melodic Doom Metal. For now though, i am reviewing the self-titled album which was originally a demo recorded in 2005. It has been re-released on vinyl by Metal On Metal Records with new artwork by Jowita Kaminska and they have re-recorded the track "Haunted Within" and merged that with another tune called "Hell Within" to create a 20 minute epic titled "Haunted In Hell".

After a short intro piece titled "Angelus" that sets the epic-metal vibe perfectly comes "Poem By Rote", a harrowing doomy slice of emotional and atmospheric metal. The old-school approach is everywhere on this album and "Poem By Rote" contains all the elements that made early 80's Metal so timeless. You have strong cascading melodies, exciting lead work, powerhouse drumming and a vocal range that at times verges into King Diamond territory. There is however a strong backbone of vintage and epic Doom Metal to this and the other tracks on the album. Just like how Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus know how to take a emotional, atmosphere melody and make the emotions soar even higher, Heathendom are also very decisive at making the songs soar with powerful, dramatic and expertly delivered musical segments. "War And Pain" is another example of breath-taking riffing and vocal athletics combining with solid drumming which features pummeling double-kicks. The guitar work of Lefteris Vourliotis and Michail Vlavianos is exceptionally tight and while they do follow a very well-worn musical path, they also play with a character and flair that is uniquely theirs alone.

The instrumental "Mental Pabulum" is a showcase for those talents, one part Mercyful Fate and another part that is very symphonic, this is a track that whirls around your head especially if you turn this up through a powerful surround-sound system which i did. "Silent Mangling" begins with semi-classical guitar before building into more epic power Doom Metal. The vocal range of Dimitris Koutsouvelis is truly stunning as he offers a plethora of different vocal styles, sometimes its a lower register, other times he soars into high notes that can break beer glasses. This gives the songs some real diverse elements as he change character's within songs and does it with seemingly no effort at all. That leads you into "Haunted In Hell", a 20 minute extravaganza full of dramatic high and lows. Symphonic in parts and very orchestrated in the epic metal sense, its a melodic journey that gets a little tedious in parts but most of it is a masterful, tasteful and most of all entertaining epic metal drama. The basic vibe is like a horror-movie soundtrack that builds in its cinematic quality. The vocals of Dimitris Koutsouvelis are again truly captivating and while the entire piece is a little long for the style, its a glorious adventure just the same. This self-titled album from Heathendom is one that will appeal to the old school metal fan the most but riff lovers and people that crave adventurous guitar work and arrangements should find this a exciting release. You don't hear too much metal these days like this so enjoy it while you can. Heathendom is definitely a band that should be on everyone's radar so check them out. 9/10

Heathendom @ MySpace
Metal On Metal Records

Temple Of Pain - Lord Of The Undead Knights (EP)

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This record is pretty cool actually! I'm quite happy with my late interest in Italian doom, and Lord Of The Undead Knights by Temple Of Pain is another fine example of southern European doom. The first thing that'll strike you, is the slow tempo which keeps the atmosphere laden and keeps me anticipating for a catharsis. The joke is - you will not get any catharsis. This delay of gratification keeps you captivated in the five tracks of this nice little EP (33:41).

Besides the slow tempo, another aspect of this release is its unpretentiousness. Sure, associations of various doom acts will pop up while listening to this, but the great thing about these five songs is that they come across as genuinely sincere, without too much focusing on what's hip or wanted in the scene of doom, heavy rock and stoner. In its focus, Temple Of Pain is pretty timeless, and I know that can be said about a lot of releases within this niche, but still. Lord Of The Undead Knights might as well have been released then years earlier - or later for that matter. Now, I'll understand that listeners might find this record to be more of the same, but I think it's really good in its length, its unpretentiousness and its sheer fun in music.

What is known about the band? My last.fm player tells me I'm the 146th worldwide listener to Temple Of Pain and that gives me - as it always does - a good feeling. Temple Of Pain, hailing from Bergamo in Italy, is (according to their myspace) "the brand new project of Fabio "Thunder" the singer / guitarist and founder of the doom-metal band Thunderstorm. The band (featuring many special guests) offers the same atmospheres as the very first Thunderstorm works, a genuine true epic doom with no external influences." Alas, I'm not familiar with Thunderstorm, but after listening to Temple Of Pain I'm at least interested. According to Encyclopaedia Metallum, this EP is the first release by Temple Of Pain. Which makes this release the more interesting. The picture of Fabio Thunder is funny by the way - he looks like a generic Ozzy holding a huge (huge!) medieval fantasy sword. For grown-ups, this picture can be somewhat off-putting, but hey, at least we know the guy is truly metal.

So, in a way it's hard to make up my mind about this release. The first couple of listenings were very promising, but where will this release be in the remainder of 2010? Is it strong enough to end up in anyone's year list, or will it wither in time? Time will tell, and as a debut this EP will leave a fine imprint upon listeners would be my guess. The only disadvantage on Lord Of The Undead Knights is the vocals: I think the singer is way better in the lower regions than in the higher ones.

Lord Of The Undead Knights is out since the 30th of April 2010, on Black Widow Records. 7 out of 10.


Temple Of Pain @ Myspace

Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

Jul 20, 2010

The Grand Astoria - II

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The Grand Astoria is a very Psychedelic Stoner rock meets classic Hard Rock group from Saint Petersburg, Russia and this is a review for their second album but you probably have worked that out by now. The Psychedelia comes in the form of a early 70's punkish, garage attitude but its brilliantly blended with some great fuzzy guitar work through some really long extended instrumental jams and Psychedelic musical trips. I had never heard this band before hearing this album so The Grand Astoria has been nothing short of a musical revelation as this one hell of a cool disc. The album kicks off with a 14 minute or around that length, melodic instrumental titled "Enjoy The View". Along with some great cruising laid back Psychedelic atmosphere, the track slowly climbs and is always building and forever gaining in the fuzz department, there is some truly spectacular guitar work in the track. The tune's atmosphere is also enhanced by some Russian spoken word samples that sound like astronauts reporting their findings back to planet earth. A great track indeed and one that never gets dull despite its long running time.

"The Inner Galactic Experience Of Emily Dickinson And Sylvia Plath" is faster and more direct with a punkish attitude mostly coming from the vocals but there is also a classic rock vibe that brings to mind the great twin-lead guitar work of bands like Thin Lizzy. "Visit Sri Lanka" is a lot more minimalistic and basic but serves as a great interlude between the more hard-edged numbers on the disc. "Wikipedia Surfer" is up next and who doesn't love surfing around Wikipedia? This track is really diverse, starting off very mellow before building with some great guitar solo's and then gaining in heaviness. About 7 minutes in, you get a Progressive Rock twist injected into the piece with some killer guitar work once again. Its more instrumental extravagance but it is never pretentious or too predictable and the fine production only helps along the rocking but also the laid-back vibe of the album. The album ends with another extended jammy type of tune with "Radio Friendly Fire", the atmospheric psychedelic tune returns the album to the feeling the opening track has and even features more spoken word samples and varied guitar styles. The tune gets really heavier about 8 minutes in and it builds to a fitting conclusion, there is also a great use of trippy effects within the 12 minute track.

Without knowing much about the history of the band, the feeling i get is this band must really kick ass live. The songs have a live jamming quality which is perfect for live performances and this band really know their way around a guitar. This is one of those albums that is easy listening at any time of the day or night but it also rocks hard in places and the fuzz-based sound is unique for a Russian band. I haven't heard too many bands at all from Russia that take this approach to Hard Rock but if there is more like this, then i want to hear them. There is a lot to be said for writing quality songs that will stand the test of time and The Grand Astoria have got that covered. Rather than showing off or kicking musical ass just to sound heavy, this band write songs that are already within the realms of timeless rock. Half instrumental, half with vocals but all solid, this is worth checking out. Out now on R.A.I.G records. 8.5/10

www.myspace.com/thegrandastoria
Russian Association Of Independent Genres  

Fangtooth - S/T Promo

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Last year Doom Metal audiences were blown away with the promo disc's from the likes of Yidhra and Orchid, this year has had seen some exceptional debut albums and promo's/demo's being released also but this one from Italy's Fangtooth has got my early pick for debut release of 2010. Fangtooth was formed after Sfack (Vocals, Guitar), Grendel - (Drums) and Painkiller (Guitar) from Death Metal band Exhuman decided to play again together after 3 years from the split of their former doom band called Karnstein. They quickly started work on putting together their debut disc and when bassist Joseph Reginson joined at the end of 2009, everything was complete. They spent a total of five months writing the material for the debut so it wasn't just slapped together like many other newer Doom albums and that extended writing process has produced a total classic album for the Doom Metal aficionado.

They have taken the blueprint giving to us by the likes of Candlemass, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Witchfinder General, Count Raven and blended that with a classic 70's rock ethic but while that sounds like countless other bands, Fangtooth put their own stamp on the Traditional Doom Metal sound with a remarkable fuzz-driven guitar sound and incredible, majestic vocals. Every song on this 40 minute masterpiece is essential listening as each song has its own twists and turns so there is nothing too obvious about this monolithic recording. Some of it plods but with soaring melody lines and exceptional searing guitar work and vocals that climb into a magical realm all of its own. The opening track "The Eye Of God" has a churning, plodding riff to kick things off but its the following guitar leads which push this tune to the top of the Doom mountain. It soars with a psychedelic rawness and is pure ear candy, the kind of sound that raises the hairs and immediately grabs your attention. The vocals are equally stunning and impressive but when the song kicks into mid-tempo overdrive to take the song to its conclusion, the end result is sonic ecstasy.

"Rise Again" is even more doomier with a Reverend Bizarre kind of vibe and arrangement that is forever climbing and changing. There is guitar squeals, crushing slow-downs but its that monster of a guitar sound that shines throughout. "Father" heads more in the Candlemass direction, only heavier than anything they have ever done. Big claims maybe but this is a album you really have to hear to understand its greatness. Great Doom Metal has always been about the riffs and every song on this self-titled album has a least one riff which leaves you floored, not to mention thrilling guitar solo work and melodious vocal arrangements. Four tracks in and you are greeted by the majestic charm of "In Depths We Lie", this beast of grooving, sludgy riffing has all the elements for "true doom" and the vocals which convey suffering, depression, fear, grief and death are essentially what makes Doom Metal what it is and should be but Fangtooth are not a band to simply follow cliches, the lyrics are both introspective and personal.

"Martyr" is a menacing, crawling slab of titanic metal, a little repetitive for the first half but the second half is a driving mid-tempo pounder mostly with gigantic drumming and soul-stirring solo work. The epic album closer "Cry Of The Nephilim" is the slowest track overall especially in the first half, this tune crawls along like a snail on quaaludes and even when the tempo change that kicks in, although faster, still has a creeping, writhing feeling about it. When its all over, you get the sensation you have been given a gift of something truly exceptional in the world of Doom Metal. Even though my own personal taste wants to give this album a perfect score, i also have to be subjective and admit to myself and you, its not terribly original but the distinguished way the songs are constructed and played make this one of the essential recordings of the year. The album is self-released on a black CD/R so contacting the band through their Myspace or via email at fangdoom@gmail.com may be the way to go on obtaining a copy of this. Whatever the method, this is essential. 9.5/10

Fangtooth@Myspace

Jul 19, 2010

Our Survival Depends on Us - Painful Stories Told with a Passion for Life

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This is a "heads up" for all those people who miss the early days of Neurosis, this band from Austria may be the band you have been looking for. They say that imitation is the greatest source of flattery, if so Neurosis would be proud of this disc from Our Survival Depends On Us, the similarities are more than just obvious, at times they are bordering on plagiarism. Despite that the band still deliver the sludgy goods in such a way that is damn near impossible not to be impress by most of this album. Their sound is based upon not much more than primal vocals from Mucho and Thom who are also both guitarist's in the band. The guttural and gurgled voices are done with a lot of primitive passion and sometimes come together for some unexpected harmonies. You get some vicious throbbing bass, guitars that literally scream and moan at you and a droning kind of sludgy vibe that brings to mind Khanate at their best. While within seconds of listening to this, the Neurosis comparisons become apparent, but there is also elements of The Melvins, Rwake and Deadbird that make subtle inflections upon the 6 tracks.

There is zero variety on the disc so describing one song pretty much sums up the entire album but its still a punishing release that leaves your ear-drums battered and bruised. The albums centerpiece and best track is "Angel Ranger", this is the track where the band strikes the right balance between Sludge, Drone and a southern American style of Doom. However "Angel Ranger" is a reinterpretation of blacklisted American Indian folk icon Buffy Sainte-Marie’s "Eagle Man/Changing Woman" and not their own tune. The originals on this album are good but clearly are not up to the same standard. Tracks like "Last Act Of Bravery" and the epic "Collecting Tears Of The Phoenix" have a hypnotic pulse about them but its very one-dimensional and predictable especially if have been a fan of the bands already mentioned in this review. The album does have some stand out passages that keep you coming back though like the crying violin part in "Angel Ranger", the Psychedelic hypnotic crawl of "Collecting Tears Of The Phoenix" and the orchestrated elements that pop up in the closing track "And Man Became A Living Soul".

Its a album for those folks with very selective tastes as they cross the lines between Doom, Sludge, Psychedelic, Noise and what people refer to as "Post-Hardcore". The feeling i get from this is i have heard it all before a long time ago but at the same time, its played well, these dudes know what they are doing. The production is good and they have the skills to produce some really grim sounds, the odd drumming and waves of noises are at times harsh and very un-friendly to the ears. Therefore this album has got me wanting to hear more and i will be seeking out the previous album "Jumping Once Too Often Into The Ocean That Had Always Been Our Inspiration" which was recorded in 2005. This band is unoriginal, derivative but still pretty cool, give them a listen. 7/10

Official site
Our Survival Depends on Us@MySpace
PsycheDOOMelic Records

Jul 18, 2010

As Light Dies - Ars Subtilior from Within the Cage

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So what kind of music can you expect to hear on As Light Dies "Ars Subtilior From Within The Cage". Its actually more of a case what style you don't hear because this band from Spain seems to have a major identity crisis when it comes to writing and constructing music. Self-indulgent, confused in terms of its genre and overloaded with technicalities for sake of showing off their musical abilities. Having already ripped the band apart in a few lines, i will also admit that this album is a staggering piece of work and i am sure some people will be floored by what is on this album. Lets talk comparisons, we need a reference point - right? The fact is As Light Dies blends and mangles everything from a Dream Theater kind of Progressive Metal styled noodling, other times its like Opeth, other times like My Dying Bride and just to confuse you more, bits sound like System Of The Down, or at least that is just some of what i hear. Musically it goes from Progressive Metal to Goth to Death to Doom to Jazz Fusion and to something very mainstream in terms of modern Hard Rock. Even more alarming is sometimes they do it all within the one song so getting into any kind of groove is like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack.

A case in point is the intro "The Very End", dramatic and ambient, it gives you the feeling something crushing in the Doom Metal style is approaching but alas you are bombarded by a whirlwind of blistering, technical guitar flourishes and Progressive Rock meets Jazz Fusion time signatures and changes. The vocals of guitarist Oscar Martin also makes it hard to get into any sort of melodic groove as his vocal style is well, i will let you be the judge of that. "Le Nebuleux Sentier" has some unexpected twists, some are good, some are just irritating. Elsewhere you get psychedelic riffs, symphonic soundscapes, violin solos, industrial metal like Fear Factory, female vocals but the way the songs are constructed sounds clumsy and messy. "Insignificant Among Insignificance" and "Yearning For Blissful Moments While Standing Upon The Ruins" are the only two tracks containing anything close to a normal musical structure. Brilliant musicians they are but as songwriters and composers, they seem to have no clear vision of anything. The songs are mostly not fluent with the instruments seeming to be fighting with each other creating a sound that seems forced and very unnatural.

"Ars Subtilior From Within The Cage" is a album you must listen to a number of times before any of it makes any sense but even after many spins, the overall listening experience of this album is nothing short of tiring. Music can be challenging, complex and experimental but this seems disjointed and musically direction-less. Its also strange to find this on the Bad Mood Man label, its very different to their usual product. I am guessing there is a certain kind of metal fan that will dig this stuff but i honestly don't know any but by all means check this album out if you want something different to listen to. In one word this album is "exhausting" to listen to but not in a good way. 4/10

As Light Dies
As Light Dies @ MySpace

Keef - Stoned To Doom

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With a album title like "Stoned To Doom", is a review really necessary? The debut LP from Toronto’s Keef has all the elements that you would expect from a Stoner or a Doom album but there is a bit more to this band that the first impression gives. While they have the down-tuned Sabbath inspired riffs, the melodic vocals and the psychedelic tinged guitar solo's, they also have a solid knowledge of how to make a catchy Hard Rock tune. The history is a little bit of a mystery, their Myspace site is not exactly bursting with information and Google searches didn't tell me much either. One thing i do know is this disc is on the PsycheDOOMelic Records label, so that is almost a guarantee of quality right there. One element of Keef's tunes that is clearly conspicuous is they seem to be playing it safe in some aspects of these songs. While that might sound a little negative, Keef is actually one of the few bands that the predictable approach works in the band's favor due to the blend of styles that ranges from the 90's desert rock sounds of Kyuss, the stoner-doom plod of Sleep to more straight-up biker metal in the vein of Orange Goblin. What you are left with is a album that covers all the bases so no chance of getting bored here.

Keef play pretty much straight from the heart especially in songs like "Evil Dread" which has anticipated riffs and vocals but the grooves of a band that obviously know what they are doing and seem to be having a killer time doing it. Stand out tracks like "Noise Bleed" and "The Green Shade" are delivered with real passion and a sense of Stoner-Doom integrity especially "The Green Shade" that is driven by some excellent drumming and accomplished guitar work. The other highpoint has to go to "Never Smile" which sounds like a long lost moment in desert rock history. Elsewhere on the "Stoned To Doom" disc, the band treads the stoner waters a little. "Animal Control" and "State Trooper" are a little too familiar in structure to get too excited about. Nothing bad about them but they both lack that essential ingredient to push the songs to the true level of greatness. Having stigmatize the disc with those comments, i must say even the worse tracks on this album still kick enough ass to be more than simply "filler".

What makes the tunes work mostly is a laid back doomish groove similar to the mid-tempo tracks of bands like Goatsnake, its heavy, doomy but with infectious melodies. The vocals of Gregory Cochrane have a real charisma about them and the guitar work of Richard Harris is about as diverse as you can get within the framework of these songs. The bass/drum duo of John Kendrick and Ilios Steryannis are solid with the drums especially being very vigorous at times. What is also important to mention is while this band will get the Stoner/Doom tag whether they like that or not, they also have enough generic metal elements to entertained the Heavy Metal purist. The only real downside to the album is the production, its no pussy but its no beast either. Its a album that must be cranked up a notch louder than usual to fully enjoy as i found the production to be a little thin and flat. Maybe i have been listening to heavy sounds too long and its screwed my hearing but something is a little weak in the mix of this album. Putting that aside however, this is still a worthy addition to your collection of Stoner and Doom disc's. When you have a band that is so obviously accomplished, the songs win you over pretty damn quick and "Stoned To Doom" has eight killer tunes out of ten which suits me fine. Check it out. 8/10

www.myspace.com/keefmetal
psycheDOOMelic music store

Roareth CDs on Sale Now — $10 PayPal

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I don't normally give plugs or advertise but Roareth‘s Acts I-VI is their first release, recorded by Tad Doyle (Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TAD) at his Studio Witch Ape and its going to be a essential purchase. Be one of the first to buy this album, its in limited supply so don't be a dick and miss out. Click the PayPal link, it will take you to The Obelisk website and hit that paypal button.

Roareth CDs on Sale Now — $10 PayPal
www.myspace.com/roareth
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