Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Full Length Review: Maelstrom "Of Gods and Men" (Predestined Music) by Dave Wolff

Band: Maelstrom
Location: Long Island, New York
Country: USA
Genre: Cinematic metal
Full Length: Of Gods and Men
Format: Digital album
Label: Predestined Music
Release date: May 22, 2020
Long Island, New York’s Maelstrom are survivors as its founding members Gary Vosganian (lead vocals) and Joe Lodespoto (guitars, bass and keyboards) have resiliently maintained their ambitious writing since 1988. Their vision was a blend of American speed metal, German thrash and epic fantasy far beyond most LI bands. Their concept of a conquering hero born to defeat a great evil stemmed from sword and sorcery power metal themes, spawning two demos in 1989 and 1991 (“Arise” and “This Battle to Make History, Yet History Never Comes”). Perhaps this was a case of “right formula, wrong time”.
While attending Maelstrom’s shows in the late 80s I saw their potential to transcend the Slayer and Metallica clones apparently being signed in droves to capitalize on thrash’s increasing popularity. All guitarists had to do was play like James Hetfield or Kerry King to be noticed. Bands who strove for more originality were either pushed aside or became more melodic. It seemed Maelstrom were held back because of this and as the thrash era ended their opportunity to continue was sadly lost.
“That which followed” remained a mystery until they returned in 2008 with their EP “It Was Predestined,” which included three re-recorded demo tracks. Longtime fans were psyched for their return and a vigorous press buzz was generated. Vosganian, Lodespoto and Daniel Kleffmann (drums) were eager to prove their concept could endure their hiatus, but they disappeared again until 2020 when they (finally) released their debut full length “Of Gods and Men.” Years (perhaps too many) in the making, their epic tale was presented as they always wanted to present it. Was it worth the effort to make?
My first impression of “Of Gods and Men” was that I was floored by its technical range. That they could make a comeback out of nowhere was likewise impressive. The band intended for “Of Gods and Men” to stand alone to be appreciated by newer fans even if they never heard the early demos (which after all are out of print by now). Lodespoto in particular has become a gifted musician whose playing may convince you he deserves a place with underground metal’s most accomplished guitarists.
While I prefer his Mille Petrozza-inspired vocals from the band’s first demo, Vosganian has adapted vocals intended to be more theatrical to fit the revised lyrics and progressions. Speaking of which, I found the lyrics to be the most impressive aspect of the new versions of the demo tracks and the new songs. The general mood of the lyrics is comparable to “Damien: Omen II” and Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” as they reflect the internal conflict and recurring self-doubt of the central character, making him a little more human, even after he, his purpose and eventual destiny is established.
Each song reads in a way that can almost contend with the legends of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. The harmonics, chord progressions and guitar solos are beautifully written and arranged, and the old and new tracks work well together. Sometimes there seems to be too much going on at once, and the time changes and transitions sometimes suffer as a result. Maybe the energy that mounted through all those years of preparation spilled over, making the band eager to show what they’re capable of. Despite this, there is tangible excitement and suspense as you’re never completely certain what turns the album will take next.
Reviewers have compared Maelstrom to Coroner, Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Amorphis and Bal Sagoth; even Rush and Queensryche by Decibel Magazine. Whether or not you agree with those comparisons, this metal opera reaches beyond the universe, literally going into the realm of godhood. In an interview for The Drummer Guy Vosganian stated he and Lodespoto meant for “Of Gods and Men” to be conceptual in every respect: musically, lyrically and artistic scope-wise. Providing a strong sense of escapism they felt the world needed, Maelstrom take metal to a new theatrical level and redefine the narrative aspects established by bands in the past. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Gary Vosganian: Vocals
Joey Lodes: Guitar, bass
Ed Marks: Keyboards
Dawn Marie Macaluso: Female vocals
Daniel Kleffmann: Drums

Track list:
1. Arise
2. Army From Ash
3. The Mirror Calls
4. A Futile Crusade
5. Lament Of The Fallen
6. Th13teen Within A Circle
7. Thief Of Light
8. An Ancient Art
9. Predestined
10. SonRise

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Demo Review: Deathsiege "Unworthy Adversary" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Deathsiege
Location: Tel Aviv Yafo
Country: Israel
Genre: Blackened death metal
Format: Digital
Label: Independent
Release date: April 17, 2020
On their second independently released demo this Israeli black/death metal band waste no time getting their point across. The seven tracks recorded for “Unworthy Adversary” are irredeemably raw, filthy, offensive, primal and most of all brief. Their delivery and brutal production is exclusively for depraved souls who listen to early Sodom, Sarcofago, Archgoat, Impaled Nazarene, Profanatica, Beherit, Blasphemy, even the first Emperor demo. On this as on their debut demo “Cannibalistic Patricide” (both are streaming on Bandcamp), Deathsiege recall a time when extreme metal was cult before there was “kvlt.” The irredeemably unclean hallmark of their material is given additional weight by the lyrics, as Deathsiege see a world made incurable by atrocious, barbaric deeds committed by the human race in the last century, and in times long before that. These songs present an overwhelmingly pessimistic perception of humanity, an unsparing observation of what humanity has come to after all those years of intolerance and bloodshed. “Hope leaves the mind/through dying eyes/unable to show tears of pain in water” from the first track “Drowned by Murderous Force” is the first indication that the band see little chance that our situation will somehow improve considering man’s propensity for savagery. “Victimized by evil/you will know the taste of a life desecrated by power” seems to describe how things will eventually end. Think of George C. Scott’s speech toward the end of “Exorcist III: Legion” and this is basically the message the band seeks to relate to the unsuspecting listener. This is imparted through a hoarse, staccato chant and a soundtrack of early death metal guitar and bass, frenetic blast and fills and chaotic solos. The blood red cover artwork (by Jessica Astral Odyssey) of a world in bondage through which flame or smoke is escaping the destruction beneath is a simplistic yet graphic forewarning of the apocalypse within, in which extinction is the logical conclusion. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
J.S.: Vocals, guitars
A.M.: Guitars, drums

Track list:
1. Drowned by Murderous Force
2. Poisonous Worlds
3. Dolor Aeternam
4. Unworthy Adversary
5. Infiltrate Victimize Exemplify
6. Siege of Death
7. Victorious Dead

Friday, July 3, 2020

Full Length Review: GOD "GOD IV – Revelation" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Project: GOD
Genre: Multi-layered progressive metal
Full Length: GOD IV – Revelation
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: July 14, 2020
(Released on Bandcamp June 1, 2020)
This is the second all-instrumental album I’ve listened to in a row (the first being Mute The Saint’s brilliant self-titled debut), and my appreciation for instrumental albums is experiencing a reawakening of a sort. Something that remained foremost in my mind as I listened to the prog-instrumental metal band known as God is that the band and the driving force behind it go simply by this moniker. I recall more than a handful of ego jokes while remembering how many musicians have been referred to as God since the eighties. However, I’d concede this musician can be excused for the hubris as he surprisingly pushes prog-instrumental metal to new creative lengths on “God IV – Revelation.” This conceptual double album, based directly on the apocalypse from the Book of Revelations (all twenty-two chapters), straightforwardly puts across the amount of planning and work that went into the retelling of the Book of Revelations, giving it the feel of a full production. It may be ironic that a project fueled by traditional Christian themes of good and evil is broadening the range of progressive metal, but hearing it for yourself you’ll see how justified the favorable reviews actually are. I have no idea who this guy is, nor did I know what to expect before checking this album out, though I read he’s been establishing himself since he started releasing material in 2016 (also that his previous work is less brutal and more light-filled than it is this time around). I approached “God IV – Revelation” in the spirit of fairness and found it rewarding. God’s vision and dedication go through the roof as he creates distinct personalities for Armageddon’s key players. His songwriting, execution, passion, and zeal gives both characters depth and breadth according to the varying sounds, varying atmosphere and varying intensity presented in each chapter. And his depictions of light and darkness can easily rival concept albums from other, more well-known bands, metal or rock. To come of age after four or so years and record a concept album with so much balance between dark heaviness, crunch, ambiance, and complexity suggest this project is well on its way to achieving high status in the 2020s. It was suggested that topping an album of this immensity may be close to impossible, but whether God has reached the peak of his abilities remains to be seen. –Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Revelation
2. Throne
3. Lucifer
4. Hell
5. Beast
6. Humanity's Number - Six Hundred Threescore And Six
7. 7
8. 144,000
9. Tribulation
10. Repent
11. War
12. False Prophet
13. Antichrist
14. Abyss
15. Messiah
16. Reign
17. Judgement
18. Book Of Life
19. Lake Of Fire - The Second Death
20. New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem
21. Eternity
22. Amen



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Full Length Review: Mute The Saint "Mute The Saint" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Country: India
Genre: Indian classical/progressive metal
Full Length: Mute The Saint
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: December 5, 2016
While searching Youtube for Beatles songs covered by metal bands I began to wonder how many metal bands incorporated sitar (taking into consideration the Beatles’ experimentation with sitar in the late 60s). I was sure that someone must have thought of it by now. Another Youtube search led me to a video by Mute The Saint on Metal Injection, which in turn led me to look for the band on Bandcamp. Their video and self-titled album came out back in 2016 but today is the first I’m hearing of them. Yes, Mute The Saint is comprised of musicians contributing to metal communities in their native India while making a statement that metal is a global language, according to their perception of traditional music from their home country and its hand in hand coexistence with loud guitars. Their conception of classical Indian music and progressive metal is so eccentrically dissentient that I was compelled to say something about it. Mute The Saint makes this association in such a groundbreaking manner, writing and arranging so constructively it’s like a mindset that’s altogether different from most genres of metal. While exploring this cultural crossover they travel into prog rock and jazz territory without much additional effort. Adding modern metal hooks, a heavy, grinding guitar/bass sound, progressions to contend with seasoned prog-metal bands, clever intercommunication between instruments, and securely rooted drumming that drives the off beats and time changes, this album is one of the unsung greats of the last decade. There are no lyrics or vocals in these five tracks, which is somewhat of a disappointment as I would have liked to see how the band interpret their material through vocals. Aside from that, these guys are ahead of their time and deserve to be recognized as among the first to blend metal with sitar. If their formula should catch on it wouldn't surprise me if imitators began crawling out of the woodwork to capitalize on the sudden surge in popularity. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Rishabh Seen: Sitar
Josh Seguin: Guitars
Shashwat Kapoor: Bass
Jared Sandhy: Drums

Track list:
1. Welcome The Change
2. Sound Of Scars
3. Calypso
4. The Fall Of Sirius
5. In Silence We Will Remain

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Interview with Michael Walz of Vista Falls by Dave Wolff

Interview with Michael Walz of Vista Falls

Earlier this month Vista Falls released a new four-song EP called “Terrified”, which is currently streaming on Youtube. At first, you intended to record five tracks but the recording sessions were cut short.
We wanted to record a full-length CD and we had many goals... good ones. My bandmate Adrian and I had serious talks about creating and opening a School of Rock to help kids learn how to play in bands. Songs six, seven, eight, and nine never happened because life and time ran out. The good thing is that we put out a five-song EP we recorded in June 2019 and through a lot of time and effort we still made things happen to release our second release "Terrified" and it came together. The four songs were recorded in December 2019. After a month or so of rehearsing and thinking, the lyrics came easy as they usually do with my songs. There was a delay with moving and lots of stuff, and unfortunately other delays with the release but it was finally released on June 9, 2020.

In 2005 a movie was released called “Rock School” about a school run by Paul Green where kids could learn to be musicians. Was this movie inspiration to you and Adrian or did you think of opening a school of rock otherwise?
Well, it was the first thing I thought of when the idea was brought up, haha. I think it was more about loving music and wanting to express it in other ways and possibly for other income, but mostly it was for fun. It also had to do with having a few beers and just brainstorming ideas. The reality was a lot of startup costs and I was quickly overwhelmed with the idea.

How long had you been writing music and lyrics before you became a musician? Do you still have older lyrics you wrote, if any?
I started playing around with drumming and finding my way around a piano. I started lyrics/poetry and singing when I was probably six or seven; mostly experimental but learning. Took a few piano lessons (I wish I didn't quit) and I began playing drums in the school band at nine or ten. I began playing guitar around twelve to fourteen and singing a lot more, also multi track recording, more piano and writing "songs". I helped form my first band Kick Axe when I was fifteen to seventeen, and we played a school dance thing at our high school. It was epic, haha. After leaving for college at eighteen I never returned, moved away and joined the heavy metal band that became Dementia. Not sure where the transition was. I would say maybe ten years of experimenting until I considered myself ok, but I had a lot to learn. I think after fifteen or twenty years I developed into the musician I am today, more well-rounded and experienced in live recording and writing.
I have a few old notebooks, one from high school even and old recordings that I could easily write down. Some are written on the back of junk mail envelopes, lol, lots of half-done songs. I just found a recording of my very first song. I write lyrics a lot, they flow pretty easily now, I have hundreds of songs that never made it off the paper.

Listening to that song and reading your early lyrics, how much work do you feel you needed to do to grow as a musician and lyricist?
There’s always room to learn and evolve as a musician; I'm far from perfect. I have fun with what I do. Being a listener and fan of rock music all my life I think I have an idea what decent and what sucks. I try not to suck; I wish I could write and do this full time as I'm sure I would accomplish way more. I am happy with where I'm at though; whether anyone else appreciates what I'm doing, that would be my call.

In what ways did your performance with Kick Axe convince you to pursue being a full time musician?
I knew before that, but that sealed. I was hooked, and shortly after I was even more focused on developing my skills to be a professional musician. I wanted to go to a music school but ended up just taking music classes in grade school, high school and college. Being out front on stage was it. That was what I wanted to do, music, music and more music.

How long has Vista Falls been an active band, and how long did it take to find musicians who were on the same page to complete the lineup? What is the band’s name supposed to represent?
Vista Falls formed in April 2019, so it’s been only a little over a year. The band is me on guitar/vocals and keyboards; also some bass; Adrian Manges on drums, bass, and lead guitar on the recordings. We have known each other a few years but it wasn't until April 2019 that we entered into a project; before that, it was just jamming for fun. I was surprised because I wasn't sure if he would like the material, but we connected and got into the idea of orchestrating our tunes and releasing them. We don't currently have permanent members for bass and lead guitar. I have a couple options but am still searching for the right fit. We were looking into that and some live shows before this world turned upside down.
The band’s name was a few different versions but was finalized in the summer of 2019 as we were working on rehearsing and recording the debut release. I have pages of ideas but I gave up; names are so hard and so many are taken already. My friend gave me the idea one day that sparked it for me. Vantage point, vision, sight. I already had Vista as an idea, I always appreciated double or even triple meanings and I use this often in my lyrics. I also had Falls in mind but it all came together perfectly for a name that really describes a lot to me. Vista Falls, to me, means you can try to have the best foresight and figure out your best vantage point and plan but you still may fail, you still may fall. It’s also somewhat of a metaphor for my life, trying and failing but not giving up and realizing that failing is still competing and being in the game. I really like the name and how it allows for many different music styles, also the mystery and dark vibe.

Tell the readers about your first EP and the songs written for it. Were any physical copies released last year or was it solely a digital release?
The first EP was released on digital format in October 2019. The five songs were an emotional dump of some lyrical ideas that had been brewing a number of years. After a divorce which turned my life upside down and some big life changes and hurdles, I wrote songs like “Sorry AF” to show my feelings, haha. “Insomnia”: it’s real, and worse with being afraid to feel love again. “Mess With You”: why do we get with the ones that drive us crazy? “Love n Sex”: all my mistakes or opportunities... “Next to You”: the one you desire and can't get over.
At the end of 2019, we began working on the next release from Vista Falls and originally wanted to record a full-length release. We had at least six songs in mind but were interrupted by situations and only three songs were recorded with one not even finished. We edited and finished the song in the studio (everything else was recorded live with some additional vocals), and the piano track that I showed Adrian that one day was recorded and edited into what you hear now as "Distance". “Save Your Heaven” was the track that brought this recording together. And the final production of the tune really brought it to life, I think. I've many people say that they can't get it out of their heads. Well, that’s the goal isn't it, haha. When I wrote “Terrified” I was really inspired by the “new” Vista Falls sound. Now I am really happy with the way it allowed Vista Falls to be not only melodic but heavy. Getting back to the first song, “Picking Up The Pieces” is just that; it’s about me trying to find some sense in everything. As I think a lot of people are, now and always. It’s a crazy world we live in, and getting crazier. I hope people take the time to slow down, care about one another, and stop on by Vista Falls once in a while.

Has “Terrified” been uploaded to other streaming sites besides Youtube? Is it strictly available for purchase in digital format or are you also planning to release it in CD format?
I would like to see a CD release soon. Currently, the download is free. A CD release is being looked into now. I just want people to hear it. The release was handled by Distrokid, a pretty awesome service. Our tunes and album are available on Amazon, Spotify, Youtube, and Tiktok and both EP are available on all formats. I update things on our Facebook page regularly; new releases, videos, and news.

Musically, “Terrified” sounds heavily influenced by alternative rock bands including Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Alice In Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots. Alternative was mainstream in the 90s but since gave way to pop-punk and nu-metal. Did you set out to record an alternative EP or did it come about as one naturally?
No, not at all. I'm moved by the wind, the moon, and the sunrise. I wrote these songs on my steps and on my couch reflecting on the world and life. I think the combination of half of the band being teenagers in the '80s and half in the 2000s had something to do with the outcome. I love all the bands you just mentioned and idolize their amazing vocals. I think in some ways "as I've heard" maybe 90's rock is coming back; I don't know. I just wrote what I felt, we jammed it out to create what it is now, which is way more orchestrated... and I love it. So proud and glad to share this music with everyone! Peace, love, unity... and MUSIC!!

In addition to the alternative bands discussed above, you listen to Nirvana, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Nine Inch Nails. How do you and the band work those influences into their material?
Walz: It’s common ground, I guess. As you travel up and down the fretboard or piano the notes you land on are guided by your album collection. Although I had a very heavy influence when I was younger, the melodies and vocal harmonies of some of these other bands came out in my music. Although I could likely be seen putting on some old Sepultura, Hatebreed, Mudvayne or Mercyful Fate. I grew up on the “big four” and love heavy music, Adrian has played in some very heavy metal bands and I course I have my past, haha. I guess this sound is a combination of my past, music. I love heavy music, but also truly appreciate classics like “Operation Mindcrime” by Queensryche, also bands like Incubus and hard rock, I guess that’s kind of where the sound of Vista Falls came together crossing over in many directions. I am very happy with the heavier feel of "Terrified" as it reminds me of the attitude and emotional release of “Sorry AF” from the first EP.

On what formats was “Terrified” made available and how much of a response has it received?
Again it’s on Spotify, Amazon, Tiktok, and Youtube. We separately shot a video for "Love & Sex" from our last EP. Check it out on Youtube; it’s a great tune and we had a lot of fun doing it. It was our first time doing a green screen, haha (actually a red screen). We received a lot of positive responses on Facebook and Youtube for the release, but unfortunately not enough to generate any label attention. Look to our Facebook page for new updates, and I do respond to questions there. I hope to see new music or videos from Vista Falls to release sometime soon. Until then, enjoy "Terrified".

Describe the making of your “Love & Sex” video. Was it shot just by the band or did you hire professionals to work with you? What equipment was used during the filming and editing?
We did it ourselves. It was a lot of fun. It was filmed with just a decent hand cam. Some of the footage was on my phone, but the Samsung S9 has a great camera, haha. I couldn't find anything to use for a green screen other than a red sleeping bag, so we tacked that up in my dining room and recorded me singing the song to get the digital background shots. A nearby park by the river was a cool spot for the outdoor shots. It somehow really captured some of the bridge and chorus. The jam was in my house/studio rehearsal space with used to be my living room. If you look on the floor you see hundreds of pages of lyrics that were stuffed under my couch. We moved the couch out of the room to have more room to set up. Adrian decided we should use them so we threw the pages all over the floor in the room. There were two takes; one was recorded with me singing on guitar and Adrian on drums. The second was recorded with me on bass and Adrian on guitar. We attempted to fade the two together but it didn’t work that well, haha. Anyhow at the end of the video, it’s kind of weird and cool how you see all four of us leaving the screen. I live in an old Victorian home that was built in 1905 so there are some good areas for shooting. There are a few other shots in my hallway upstairs included in the video.

How long has your living room been your personal studio? What equipment have you collected since the transformation?
Since my divorce in 2016. I didn't have a lot to start with, and a lot of what I had was outdated. I use a 24 track Tascam standalone now for flexibility, I like it, but honestly, I record most of my ideas on my phone. Vista Falls was all recorded on computer and I couldn't tell you the program he used; I'm not a computer recording guy. The magic of the lounge/studio is the sound of the high ceiling, the 100+-year-old plaster walls, and the hardwood floors. I have a decent assortment of mics, drums, an Electro-Voice, and still use an old Rode condenser mic because I still love the sound. I enjoy having everything available: piano, keyboards, sequencers, multiple guitars and amps, drum kit, drum machines, recording, lights, and fog, haha.

What kind of a sound do you get from your Rode condenser microphone that you don’t get from more modern equipment? What are the differences in sound between the organic resources you have and the phone and computer you use to record?
A condenser is a good idea for vocals, no matter what you are using to record I think. You miss a lot of frequencies in vocals using a dynamic mic, even with effects. And honestly, some of the vintage old condensers are more valuable than their weight in diamonds. What you can do with the computer recording systems is untouchable, with the flexibility and remote abilities. I just personally never made that switch, I recorded on digital standalones or in studios. I'm not a big computer guy and I used to work in music retail, so I dealt with a lot of the nightmares of software that doesn't run with certain computers and latency crashes and issues. Anyhow it works great and luckily I had the option available through our band. The phone works quite well for ideas. It’s amazing how good it sounds; there is a bunch of cool recording apps out there, but not for serious stuff.

As an aside, do you know anything about the history of your Victorian home?
Not as much as I would like to. I have the original deed paperwork on the property. It's pretty awesome, dating back to 1890, written in quill pen. The land was officially sold to Morris Southard in 1904 and completed in 1905. A large home in the area, it was often used for parties, wedding, and funerals. The main stairwell was from another, much larger, house a couple of blocks away. When they decided to remove it, the stairwell was hauled over to my house on horse and wagon. 2 1/2 stories with a full attic, and no it’s clear... no ghosts, just me.

How much creative input did you and the other members of the band have in making the video? Are you satisfied with the end results or did you see room for improvement when it was completed?
We did it all. Adrian again kicked ass with a very professional job. He used some kind of video editing program and we mixed the "video tracks" just like a band mixes their bass drum guitar and vocal tracks. There was a lot of creative input in the editing of the different videos, finding the cool clips from the different takes, and blending them together. We worked side by side to piece it together. It took a while, Adrian is tireless with that kind of stuff. The editing was time-consuming but fun as we watched it come together. I would love to do another video. I have some ideas for the next; we’ll have to wait and see.

What are some of the ideas you have in mind for a new Vista Falls video? What filming equipment do you want to work with for it?
We probably would just use our same methods, though we did upgrade the recording program we used for the first and second EPs so it’s hard to predict. I have a few ideas for “Share Your Heaven”, but “Terrified” could be pretty awesome visions of this crazy world we are in. There’s nothing solid that I can define yet.

Before Vista Falls you worked in a thrash metal band for some time. Tell the readers about this band and the extent of their activity while they were together? Did this band draw from Obituary, Sepultura, and Mercyful Fate who you also cite as influential bands?
I joined a band called Syrys in 1987; soon after we changed our name to Dementia. Cursed was the first “cassette” release from 1989; we have plans to reissue on vinyl soon. We played a lot in Wisconsin, then based ourselves in Chicago where we were constant on the scene for ten years. “Recuperate from Reality” was our 1992 release on CD and Vinyl. It was put out worldwide but unfortunately, as many companies did, our company took on too much, couldn't promote our album and went under. We had a number of other demos and EPs out there. I created a Facebook page for fun in case anyone wants to learn about the band, there are some cool old pics and videos on there. The page is fairly new. I think there are a hundred or so following. There are still some old school fans, gotta love it, and also some new that are collectors into metal album covers and vintage thrash. I am one as well. Check it out on Facebook
The band split up in 1996 due to “musical differences”. Brian and Matt got a drummer and started a band called Sick. Skylar and I formed a gothic band Vault which was short-lived. We next formed Misery's Company and released two CDs of kind of an electronic rock vibe. In 2017 I was contacted by Heaven and Hell Records to do a reissue release of “Recuperate from Reality”. We discussed a three-CD box set including all recorded material. The decision of the band ended up reserving the reissue of “Cursed” be on vinyl, so the release was just a single of “Recuperate from Reality”. The booklet included some great vintage photos of the band. The CD also includes two of the best songs recorded by Dementia which were never released before. This was a big high light for me. The output and volume were greatly improved for the 1992 release, Heaven and Hell did a great job remastering! I really appreciated the opportunity of working with Jeremy; they did a great job with the whole project. We are still seeing some sales interest and promoting. It sounds awesome and the bonus tunes are a must-listen. They are on Facebook and Bandcamp at www.heavenandhellrecords.com.

Were Dementia’s lyrics also based on personal experiences? Do you ever consider reforming Dementia to work on new material today, or do you strictly prefer working with Vista Falls?
All my lyrics typically have some personal influence, inspired by a feeling or a situation or a struggle. So yes, some are obvious like “Feel the Fire”, others are more subtle like “Inner Thoughts” or “Bloodloss”, which by the way is not about literally having blood loss. Many times I'm describing a common type of thing people are familiar with and weaving in related meaning to a specific event or person. It would have been really cool to reform, play one more show, or even do an online remake or new tune as many bands are doing. Unfortunately the cost to bring us all together as we are spread over the whole U.S. and don’t have a common interest in doing so left it on the table. So yes at the moment writing and rehearsing the current tunes with VF, making arrangements to release a double EP release on CD. The reissue of Dementia at least happened with two of our last recorded, maybe a couple others could still be released. And the reissue of the first recording should be out on vinyl later this year. So anyhow, I would be open to at least an online remote jam or even a new tune, I've got plenty of frustration and inspiration, haha.

Is there a label you’re planning to release the double EP on, or is the band currently seeking labels for distribution? Do you prefer releasing your material in CD or digital format?
The hope is that there will be some interest, now in digital or with the product possibly promoting the release more. I will continue to promote and hope to see more releases soon. Time will tell if anyone is going to jump on board with us.

What do you want Vista Falls to ultimately accomplish and how would you like the band to be remembered for it?
Good tunes, having fun and connecting with others musically. I always hope that the song and lyrics will connect with someone else in their life, in a similar but different way and they will hopefully be positively inspired. That is my hope; also to be remembered as a cool band with deep but melodic rock songs that make you think but also allow you to chill.


-Dave Wolff

Monday, June 22, 2020

Split Review: Haggus / Golem of Gore - split MC (FYL Records, Grindfather Productions) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Haggus
Location: Oakland, California
Country: USA
Genre: Mincegore
Band: Golem of Gore
Country: Italy
Genre: Goregrind
Split: Haggus / Golem of Gore - split MC
Format: Cassette, streaming
Label: Fuck Your Life Records, Grindfather Productions
Release date: June 2020
While scrolling the interwebs I stumbled upon another vicious goregrind banger. The 2020 split between Haggus and Golem of Gore! Mincey gory awesomeness paired with Last Days of Humanity worship grind obviously makes for an ear-feed of liquid fun. And to be honest, the Golem of Gore on this release is not as straight forward. I am hearing a lot of different influence on this one as opposed to previous releases. Either way, it is an absolute pile of goodness!
I cannot pick which band did a better job on this split. Each side is absolute mastery and I would insist that fans of the gore indulge in this one when they come across it. This is purely underground and is leaning on perfection... God, I fucking love goregrind!
Both Golem of Gore and Haggus have come a long way since I first started listening to them. I could ramble further, but I think you all get the point. Goregrind > everything is the vibe I am digging recently and I don't think that is going to change any time soon.
So fire up the barbecue, grill some animals (or veggie burgers for the vegans), and throw on this cavernous sickness.
You won't regret it! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Tracklist:
Haggus
1. Putrid Mess // Pestilent Stench
2. Decapitation Complication
3. Worn Out Your Welcome
4. Chainsawed Into Chunks
5. Crypt Raid
Golem of Gore
1. Psychopath Bloodsucker Brigade
2. Rotting Chamber Celebration
3. Putrified Dread Dilemma
4. Runaway Fester Proliferation
5. Deep into Decay Matter
6. Brutal Vile World
7. Endless Feverish Vomit
8. Unconscious Cancer Eater
9. Glory Through the Gore

Sunday, June 21, 2020

EP Review: Blood of the Wolf "III: Blood Legend" (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions) by Dave Wolff

Band: Blood of the Wolf
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Country: USA
Genre: Blackened death metal
EP: III: Blood Legend 
Format: Digital album
Label: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
Release date: November 8, 2019
This EP simply crushes. I’ve watched Blood of the Wolf refine themselves since 2013 and each new release brings them another step to brutal perfection. “III: Blood Legend” boasts dark overtones, shades of Morbid Angel, Behemoth and Vader, black metal harmonies and guttural vocal fry to shred your being. These elements are thrown into the cauldron of extreme music and what emerges is a four-song giant heralding the ancient ones’ return, one Chicago death metal can be proud of. This is a band that started from the grassroots of that scene, and out of love for the genre prove bands don’t need state of the art equipment or mass advertising to make an impact. Those are worthwhile but this EP makes the statement that the passion of writing always comes first. Each riff written and each section arranged sounds carefully calculated to showcase the band’s talent and put it across to the listener what they’re capable of developing it into. Each note places emphasis on precision, heaviness and a feeling of creeping malevolence that’s flawlessly executed from the beginning of “Shadow of Shadows,” a song that treats you with a mid-tempo still before the storm before launching into relentless blast, savage guitars and lead progressions evoking the spirit of 90s black metal. Those vocals have to be heard firsthand to be believed. One extreme music fan remarked on Encyclopedia Metallum that such descriptions are nothing new when it comes to describing bands, but there’s something about this EP that validates all of them anew. Since releasing and re-releasing their full lengths “I: The Law of Retaliation” and “II: Campaign of Extermination” the band have worked on improving the art of infusing subtlety into their material. As such the appeal of “III: Blood Legend” doesn’t rely solely on all out push and brutality. The lead harmonies I mentioned are written into the songs to underscore their impressions of evil. While the more overt harmonies do well to complement the song structure, there are other harmonies more subtly added that you have to listen closely for. Next to the transitions between brutality and the quieter, more somber sections, those guitars add a semblance more like “The Omen” than a splatter or torture porn movie. This is something I’d want to hear more of from this band. The other three tracks on this EP, “Son of the Blood Oath,” “Progenitor” and ‘Fire Serpent,” utilize the brutality and transitions of the first track, with more emphasis on harmony and an all-out assault on your senses leaning closer to Marduk and Dark Funeral. Heavier bass and abrasive vocals come into the picture, bringing the intensity level to almost unbearable levels. Blood of the Wolf have come a long way in seven years, and with more work they should eventually find themselves at the forefront of U.S. blackened death metal. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Mike Koniglio: Vocals, guitars
Frank Garcia: Lead guitars
Christopher Grimes: Bass
Rick Hernandez: Drums

Track list:
1. Shadow of Shadows
2. Son of the Blood Oath
3. Progenitor
4. Fire Serpent

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Friday, June 19, 2020

EP Review: Ossario "Ossario" (Independent) by Sarah McKellar

Band: Ossario
Location: Sicily
Country: Italy
Genre: Putrid black metal
Format: Digital album, CD cardboard
Label: Independent
Release date: June 8, 2020
Ossario is a three piece punk influenced, black metal project from Sicily. “Ossario” is their 2020 EP Independent release. The band has a hard-hitting, raw approach to their punk-influenced black metal and display an unapologetically aggressive and unrelenting approach in doing so throughout their self-titled EP release. Tight and technical as a whole, Ossario lose none of their unrelenting approach throughout this release. “Millennial Fears” displays an ominous start before launching into the earth shaking, raw filthy black metal that the listener will come to expect of Ossario and another musical aspect to be appreciated. Manic and chaotic, “Torment, Sweet Torment” kicks this release into a further aggressive, punk influenced black metal style with a nihilistic approach. Strong and harsh vocals are a hallmark of Ossario and are at the front of their musical sound frequently throughout this release adding an extra layer of chaotic filth. An essential listen for those who are a fan of blackened thrash and newer Darkthrone, Ossario will not disappoint. Ossario have turned aggressive, unrelenting, punk influenced black metal into a chaotic driving force to be reckoned with in their EP and I genuinely look forward to hearing more of their material in the future. –Sarah McKellar

Lineup:
Krost Von Barbarie: Vocals
Schizoid: Guitars
Anamnesi: Drums

Track list:
1. We're All Born To Die
2. Millennial Fears
3. Torment Sweet Torment
4. Rigor Mortis Boner (Necromance)

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Full Length Review: Zwaremachine "Be A Light (Special Edition)" (Sliptrick Records) by Gene Olivarri

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Country: USA
Genre: Industrial, EBM
Format: Digital album, CD
Label: Sliptrick Records
Release date: June 9, 2020
Zwaremachine is definitely a monster when it comes to Hypnotic mind blowing industrial and EBM, plus Darkwave added to their brand and, mix which is such a beautiful thing vocals and synth work are done right this band totally gets it. All songs on this album just plague your mind guitars and vocal are so sharp heavy and crisp in every song the drums are like a tank just pounding hypnotic beats that make you have such a good time it makes you move. It reminds me of early Skinny Puppy, Ministry and KMFDM with a bit of Carpenter Brut.
The synth work is so catchy there was not one song I didn't like on this album you have to hear it for yourself I push everyone to go visit their band camp and Facebook page to take a listen. At times the singing is so dark and then the chaos begins such unique vocal approach by Mach Fox and Dbot have together the music gets so dark and hits deep into the soul and just takes you for a hellish ride. –Gene Olivarri

Lineup:
Mach FoX: Vocals, synth
D-bot: Bass guitar, vocals
Dein Offizier: Drums, percussion

Track list:
1. Pulse
2. Remain Unseen
3. Another Way
4. IEYEI
5. DRKNRG
6. Person To Person
7. Our Revenge
8. Be A Light
9. Remain Unseen (Aim&Execute Remix)
10. Be A Light (Audiocentesis Remix)
11. IEYEI (Planktoon Remix)
12. Person To Person (Planktoon Remix)
13. Remain Unseen (Planktoon Remix) 

Monday, June 15, 2020

EP Review: Idolos "Ahi Cab" (Anthrazit Records) by Sarah McKellar

Band: Idolos
Country: France
Genre: Atmospheric black metal
EP: Ahi Cab
Format: Jewelcase CD, Digital album
Label: Anthrazit Records
Release date: January 28, 2020
Idolos is an atmospheric black metal band based in France, but claim to be from Venus and of Atlantean descent. “Ahi Cab” is their 2020 EP release through Anthrazit Records located in Germany, also Wolfhund Productions located in Denmark. Atmospheric samples commence “Ahi Cab” leading the listener into this hard-hitting and brutal release. Mournful, yet brutal, Idolos has created a consistently unrelenting and forceful style of black metal in “Ahi Cab”. Melodic and technical riffs display Idolos’ aggressive “harder, faster” feel throughout this release. Remaining technical while switching styles effortlessly displays Idolos’ ability to release their soul crushing brutal approach to black metal upon their unsuspecting listeners. Strong, brutal vocals emphasise the aggressive technical approach the listener now knows to be expected of Idolos, adding another layer to the aural assault. “Ahi Cab” focuses mainly on Mayan mythology and prophecy as its primary source for lyrical content and is extremely well written, adding another aspect for the listener to appreciate. A mournful, slower approach in some tracks provides another aspect for listeners to appreciate as well. Idolos describing themselves as coming from Venus and being of Atlantean descent which is reflective in the otherworldly brutal feel the listener receives when listening to “Ahi Cab”. I genuinely look forward to hearing more of Idolos’ material in the future. –Sarah McKellar

Lineup: 
MgRcH: 82 Hz - 1.174 Hz / 41Hz - 97 Hz strings frequencies, backing vocal emissions, harmonic and lyrical transcriptions
NnK: Lead vocal teleprinter, cosmic interpretation, visual and graphic transcriptions

Track list:
1. Prolog
2. The Deeds above
3. The Summoners
4. The Maiden and the Tree