Monday, October 16, 2017

Single Review: PARAGON COLLAPSE The Stream

The Stream
From their upcoming debut The Dawning to be released by Loud Rage Music
Entangled amidst a web of nine atmospheric minutes lies the heart and soul of blossoming Romanian doom group PARAGON COLLAPSE with their newest single release ‘The Stream’ taken from their upcoming debut album which is set to be released via Loud Rage Music. The group's overall sound is one of conventionality not without its occasional quiddities. At the beginning of the song you really get the sense that it owes a great deal to the pioneers of the doom genre although those comparisons are diminished a tad upon hearing the vocals which, quite frankly, are probably of a better quality than your traditional doom singer. Chunky guitar delay and operatic vocals are the main focus for the first three minutes until the track pacifies itself into a haze of cushioned dreaminess. Such changes in velocity, volume and ambience are indubitably a regular occurrence in what the group have to offer from a creative standpoint, which is why for the rest of the song you do notice a lot of these changes throughout. Another key factor of their sound is the usage of violin, (probably for orchestral sensibility above anything else) and I have to say I was impressed with the sonic quality of the violin. Upon hearing it initially I suspected the operatic quality of the vocals would clash with the stripped-back style of the instrumentation but the addition of the violin balances it out quite nicely, - in fact I'd like to hear a violin solo on one of their other tracks. Nonetheless the track continues its perennial thud until around the sixth minute mark where one is intrigued to hear march-style percussion upon layers of droning acoustics. Upon regaining its original pace and volume the track maintains its credibility as a doom song and ultimately an artistically decent release. -Jaime Regadas

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Full length: PESTILENCE Consuming Impulse (Reissue)

Consuming Impulse (Reissue)
Release date: October 13, 2017
More than thirty years after their inception in 1988, Holland’s Pestilence are being honored as having spawned the finest recordings of death metal’s formative years, according to Hammerheart Records. From their 1987 demos Dysentery and The Penance to Malleus Maleficarium their debut full length in 1988 to 1989’s Consuming Impulse) their inspiration from German and American thrash evolved into early death metal. Consistent, unrelenting touring helped to secure their status as innovators of the genre. This was when death metal was not yet mapped out completely, many chapters of its book had yet to be written and anything was possible as far as where it could be taken. On their sophomore release Pestilence carried the technical wizardry of Evil Chuck & Death to the next level, adding the heaviness of Sepultura and the immeasurable desolation of bands like Paradise Lost. Also, improving upon thrash metal’s diatribes of being mortally wounded and facing one’s impending decease, penning lyrics that were more descriptive and personalized. Perishing of thirst in the desert, choking to death under skies replete with pollution and having your body succumb to an unknown disease after a lengthy struggle and other themes were there to experience in graphic glory. Even the cover art suggested great mortal peril brewing inside, right to the horrified expression of a nameless someone being devoured alive by fire ants. At this point their thrash influences were still prominent in their songwriting, only more downtuned and more primal. Pestilence were furthermore one of the first bands to enhance their songs with occasional keyboards and contribute a horror element to the imagery cited above. In all these ways this disc is a classic and a must have for newer DM fans who were just recently introduced to it. Hammerheart is re-releasing Consuming Impulse with remastered production, a demo track for the 1989 release, and finally songs borrowed from live shows in 1988 and 1989 for all you veteran tape traders out there. The label has obviously taken pains to compile this reissue and give DM fans more for their hard earned money, so show your appreciation by giving the hits to the album’s Bandcamp link and picking up a copy. Hammerheart is offering the reissue on CD and various shades of vinyl via online ordering, in addition to shirts and other merchandise. -Dave Wolff

1. Dehydrated
2. The Process Of Suffocation
3. Suspended Animation
4. The Trauma
5. Chronic Infection
6. Out Of The Body
7. Echoes Of Death
8. Deify Thy Master
9. Proliferous Souls
10. Reduced To Ashes
11. City Of The Living Dead/Antropomorphia (Live Veghel 1989)
12. Parricide (Live Veghel 1989)
13. Echoes Of Death (Live Veghel 1989)
14. Subordinate To The Domination (Live Veghel 1989)
15. Commandments (Live Veghel 1989)
16. Out Of The Body (Live Veghel 1989)
17. Chemotherapy (Live Veghel 1989)
18. Cycle Of Existence (Live Veghel 1989)
19. Suspended Animation (Live Veghel 1989)
20. The Trauma (Live Veghel 1989)
21. Subordinate To The Domination (Live Bochum 1988)
22. Cycle Of Existence (Live Bochum 1988)
23. Extreme Unction (Live Bochum 1988)
24. Chemotherapy (Live Bochum 1988)
25. Bacterial Surgery (Live Bochum 1988)
26. Systematic Instruction (Live Bochum 1988)
27. Consuming Impulse (Demo)

Video Review: SUMMONER'S CIRCLE Become None

Become None
From their upcoming full-length Tome
Video shot and edited by Thomas Mortveit.
Produced by Yanic Bercier at Wavetransform Studios.
Starring: Summoner's Circle, Morgan Brooke McCarty, Summer Salmon, Larry Bainum, Charles Dyson, Travis Bainum, and Brant Chastain.
Doom-metal; a genre frequently criticized for its repetitiveness and over-reliance upon sludge-driven riffs has potentially managed to redeem itself in the wake of a ten minute concept video epic by SUMMONER'S CIRCLE. The song is titled 'Become None' and it is probably one of the most captivating metal songs I've heard in a while. If repetition is what gravitates one away from listening to doom-metal then I'd strong suggest reevaluating. This track is a whirlwind rollercoaster of ever-changing riffs, atmospheres, moods and time signatures. For the first two minutes the song is a brooding instrumental until bursting into cacophonous rage at the first utterance of words, meanwhile the video depicts a young woman in a library of sorts, enchanted by the presence of what appear to be Satanic-esque verses. Upon reading the book thoroughly she starts to get followed by Ghouls, some of whom are masked and some of whom are upholstered in elaborate theatre makeup. The chorus kicks in at the fourth minute and you hear the first real 'climax' of the piece. Guitar solos reign throughout the ordeal while swirling Hammond organs permeate the vanguard. The Ghouls depicted in the video begin to make more of a prominent statement with their presence as the music shifts to a 9/8 setting. Upon this daunting time signature you get the first real glance of daunting imagery as the protagonist begins to experience a level of demonic possession as she removes all the attire she's wearing and is then immediately gruesomely murdered by one of the Ghouls. The epic drama suite of keyboard-laden doom ends with a striking image of the young woman paralyzed in stagnation in funeral attire whilst in the presence of a dimly-lit chamber. -Jaime Regadas

Full Length Review: OSCULUM INFAME The Axis Of Blood

The Axis Of Blood
Release Date: May 22, 2015
Usually not my cup of tea but decided to try something new, after all, life is always great when trying new things musically speaking for me…
ApokalupVI: It is the intro of this interesting album. It’s honestly a great mood setting piece that flows smoothly from beginning to end.
Cognitive Perdition of the Insane: It’s a dark vocal style with some heavy drums and great guitar riff, while it’s not my style I do dig the instrumentation.
Kaoïst Serpentis: I disliked the high pitched sound for the start, but it was quickly fixed with the speed-drumming and the guitar riff those were both intense.
Honestly the break part, to call it somehow- was… a bit confusing although that might be because I’m not used to the genre. The fading from the break to the last part was cleverly designed.
My Angel: The guitar riff with the drumming is interesting, keeping the attention of the listener. The whole song kind of made me think of those good old boss battles with a dark touch. All in all it can be considered as an epic tune.
Absolve me not!: The intro is interesting, a bit psychedelic in my opinion and for some reason I thought of a nuclear wasteland when hearing it. Short and intense, would probably use it on a Fallout-esque movie.
Let there be darkness: A bit of a play with the guitar, wasn’t bad but wasn’t memorable either. It however, has a mysterious but energetic vibe; probably I’d use it for suspense… or for a chase, depends of context.
Inner Falling of the Glory of God: One of the memorable things of this track for me is the feeling of falling due to how the instrumentation was arranged other than that I must praise the drummer’s precision.
White Void: The melodic line over the guitar and drum was something that caught my ear, made me feel it was a Tim Burton movie, like those scenes where the villain tells the protagonist why they went to the dark side and so on, felt a bit nostalgic on this one and it’s what I could consider my favorite of this album.
Asphyxiated Light: I liked the guitar line; it wasn’t boring and felt dynamic. The vocals were a bit sad in my opinion; in general it’s a solid track.
I in the ocean of Worms: A very energetic opening with the drums and the guitar, felt it was a bit re-used but other than that it’s a good start. The track itself I don’t feel fully solid, felt some doubt on the guitar, as a guitarist myself, I can relate, sometimes we just aren’t “in the place” really, physically we are but our minds are elsewhere.
Solemn Faith: Loved this intro in particular, while it does stick to the drum/guitar combo it has an interesting touch on the riff, makes me think it could be used a theme for a character in a show; more specifically the bad ass guy that really isn’t the one you want to mess with. The track itself made me remember of snakes for some reason. It is the second and last favorite for this album. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Track List:
1. ApokalupVI
2. Cognitive Perdition of the Insane
3. Kaoïst Serpentis
4. My Angel
5. Absolve Me Not!
6. Let There Be Darkness
7. Inner Falling of the Glory of God
8. White Void
9. Asphyxiated Light
10. I in the Ocean of Worms
11. Solemn Faith

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Song Review: AXEMASTER Black Dungeons

Black Dungeons
Remastered track from Blessing In The Skies (And Other Cuts From The Chamber), released on Pure Steel Records October 6, 2017
Originally appearing of the 1991 demo 5 Demons (Imperative Is Their Demise)
Ohio, USA’s Axemaster returns with two offerings for autumn. Their new full length The Crawling Chaos is scheduled to come out late November, but advance copies are reportedly getting enthusiastic reviews. In the meantime you have Blessing In The Skies (And Other Cuts From The Chamber) to listen to. Having been active since 1983, Axemaster are survivors of the thrash movement that aboveground labels failed to notice. It’s a shame since many worthwhile bands emerged from that era including Whiplash, At War, Hirax and Blessed Death as well as this band. Thanks to social media and the business savvy to found independent labels of their own, those bands and others are still leaving impressions on extreme music. It’s an appropriate time for Axemaster to continue releasing their work for the new generation of thrashers, who have much to catch up on here. Their demo cut Black Dungeons was uploaded to Youtube late September to treat longtime fans. 5 Demons (Imperative Is Their Demise) may have been released five years after thrash and power metal’s underground peak, but the classic feel is forever represented and it’s commendable for the band to remember where they were musically after all those years of releasing singles, splits and full lengths. Axemaster make a point that their material has been refined and improved upon since the glory days of thrash and power metal. Still this is a fitting preview for the Halloween season and for new fans seeking a full history of the band from ’91 to today. From the Vincent Price/Hammer Horror-esque spoken word intro to the malevolent opening riffs to musicianship reminiscent of Nasty Savage and Armored Saint. This combination admittedly might be considered badly dated to some listeners, still you don’t have to be a record collector to appreciate a piece of the band’s history to see how far they’ve come through the 1990s and 2000s. The song is part of a conceptual tale the band devised for the demo, in which each song is about a demon who seeks to destroy society. I personally liked the song’s horrorific narrative, the mental pictures the lyrics called to mind and most of all how easily the musicianship took me back to the mid-80s. My sole complaint was that the guitar solos tended to sound slightly sloppy, but aside from that the playing is solid and most importantly honest. Black Dungeons and Blessing In The Skies is a decent tide over until The Crawling Chaos comes out next month. -Dave Wolff





https://youtu.be/p6WP3QnwjNo

Friday, October 13, 2017

Full Length Review: THE LONG LOSTS To night…

Independent
Release date: October 1, 2017
There is a new voice in punk and gothic music, thanks to this New York City based duo. The Long Losts were formed in 2012 by Anka and Patrick who compose songs inspired by their mutual devotion, the intrinsic grace and refinement of the season between summer and winter when nature prepares for slumber, and the one night when the barriers between worlds is at its most translucent. Their two full length releases Scary Songs To Play In The Dark and To night…, available for streaming at their Bandcamp profile, are statements that goth is more than wearing black, worshipping the devil and telling everyone to fuck off, as many superficially presume about the lifestyle. Much of the most picturesque, visionary, mournfully dramatic music I have heard came from goth culture (bands like Voltaire, Dead Can Dance, London After Midnight, Sisters Of Mercy) and anyone who has been part of it for a long time will tell you it has more to offer than you would expect. A theatrical ambience runs through their albums adding color and texture to their songwriting, making the songs feel like narratives. The Girl With The Haunted House Tattoo, To Be Like Lily (an ode to The Munsters) and I Love Him For His Horror Movies are fine examples from their debut. If you ever wondered how Blondie and Bauhaus would have sounded if they collaborated it may have sounded something like Scary Songs To Play In The Dark. There the duo evince commercial potential without trying to brighten their instrumentality. Three years between their debut and their latest effort To night… gave them more than sufficient time to increase their histrionics to directly involve the listener. This is perceptible in Big Dark Room, To____, Baby Fangs, Your Grave Eyes, Tonight and One Night At A Time. In those songs Anka and Patrick (joined by bassist Bret Calder and drummer Brian Shonen) are introducing you personally to the horror they capture on paper and the warmth to be found in mutual solitude. Their straightforward openness makes the visuals of cemeteries, haunted houses and monsters all the more tangible. The Blondie and Bauhaus influence is still present; you can add Sonic Youth and Diamanda Galas in some places. Anka in particular has been compared to Siouxsie but it sounds like she has been finding her own voice since the beginning. You might want to consider adding The Long Losts to your next Halloween mix as anything from either of their albums would work alongside songs by any other goth band. While you're at it check out their videos on Youtube. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Big Dark Room
2. Shiny Objects
3. Fritz Throw the Switch
4. To____
5. Baby Fangs
6. Your Grave Eyes
7. Skeleton Thief
8. Tonight
9. Bishop's Grave
10. One Night At a Time


Lyric Video Review: ASPHODELIA Welcome Apocalypse

Welcome Apocalypse (official lyric video)
From their upcoming debut album "Welcome Apocalypse" (Metal Scrap Records)
Mixed and mastered at 16th Cellar Studio
Video and graphics by Dark Light Digital Arts
If 'cinematic metal' was an apt sub-genre then I really feel such a title rightly belongs to Italian group ASPHODELIA, whose distinctive brand of symphonic arrangements and stattaco-fueled guitar lines are becoming an essential factor to their blossoming sound. Their new video 'Welcome Apocalypse' is not far from extraordinary and the standards of artistic perfection. The song itself is good as it owes a lot to a catchy chorus, melodic verses and high displays of rhythmic intensity but the actual lyric video itself adds to the cerebral and emotional impact the track has to offer. With each accentuated snare / double bass hit the video begins to shake and quiver in unison, partially to add drama but also to demonstrate a point of just how epic the mood is supposed to be. The vocals are superb, the keys are always present yet not to the degree of ubiquity and the bass remains a consistent factor of continuity in itself. For fans of existing symphonic-inspired metal groups a la LACUNA COIL and EVANESCENCE this will definitely be of major interest. -Jaime Regadas

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Single Review: SKINNED We Are The End

We Are The End
First single from their upcoming full length Shadow Syndicate
Blasting, brutal death metal at its most outstanding, with an additional hint of black metal. The Colorado band has been pounding their way to infamy since 1995. As indicated by our first taste of their next studio effort, they endure as vehemently torturous as ever. I had just been watching Silence Of The Lambs and its sequel Hannibal; thus I was in the proper frame of mind to sample what the band is cooking up for the soon-to-be-released Shadow Syndicate. I wasn’t disappointed as We Are The End opened with accelerated hyper blast from Jonathan Valdez, who pushes the track with the abandon of Flo Mounier of Cryptopsy. I’ve invariably drawn that comparison to Cryptopsy since being stirred by None So Vile back in 1996 or ‘97. Valdez’s finesse at surmounting the quickest blast is unhindered by his time and diligence in the band. Observing his performance through the tempo changes, he dispenses impermeable transitions as guitarists Travis Weickum and Matt Ackerman and bassist Greg Keenan present clever guitar progressions that range from barbarous to dissonant and back again, then on to crunching and on to hypnotic. Not a trace of groove to be heard, just straightforward commanding aggression where it proves hard not to pay attention to the band’s expertise. The low-pitched death metal vocals and caustic black metal vocals are apt at complementing each other without fighting for attention; this reminded me of what I once heard about the lines between those two genres having thinned over the years. The lyrics aren’t as hard to make out as one might reckon. At three minutes and forty seconds it seemed a little too brief for me, but you could say it’s to be expected when you evaluate the endurance the entire band shoulder through the song. Updates on the release of We Are The End are at the official Skinless website. -Dave Wolff


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Film Review: Black Snake Moan by Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Drama
Date of release: December 9, 2006
Companies involved: Paramount Classics, New Deal Productions,Southern Cross the Dog Productions
Director: Craig Brewer
Produced by: Stephanie Allain as producer, Ron Schmidt as executive producer, John Singleton as producer
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Christina Ricci
Plot: An abused and broken girl found in the road beaten and battered almost dead by a God-fearing blues musician that will eventually cause their fates to intertwine, the journey; has begun.
Review: What happens when you mix empathy, blues and kindness? That’s right you get the reagents for a movie that is quite solid in my humble opinion. Good old Sam actually learned how to play guitar so you can see his grade of commitment. Sometimes, even the lost ones have redemption. Sometimes, even the broken ones have a bit of a fix. It’s just a matter of not giving up and a strong will. Sometimes, the little acts of kindness are just half the battle. Honestly I’d love to see a sequel telling us what happens with the happy couple or prequel to this story, where we can see Lazarus’ past. It’s one of those movies where the acting, the script and the music is quite solid from the start; also I’d say this is one of my all-time favorites. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Full Length Review: CEPHEIDE Saudade

Saudade
Independent
Release Date: October 4, 2017
I kind of liked the fact the band has very curious name. What is my favorite track? I’d have to say “Madone”; it has that mix of mystery, melody and rhythm that tells a story. My second favorite, I’d say is “Le cinquième Soleil” since it has that atmosphere of melancholy and darkness in my ears and finally third and last, “Auréole” for the mood setting guitar intro. One interesting thing about this band is that they recorded, mixed and did the art for the album nowadays I haven’t seen many do that really, must just pay a sound engineer and drawing artist to just focus on recording which personally speaking is a bit of a “it’s my baby but I’m letting someone else raise it” to an extent. The most memorable thing about this record in general I’d say the guitar/drum combo, if felt complemented quite interestingly. The only thing I didn’t liked about the album is the vocals; honestly I had issues hearing them and most of the time it felt like just random coyote howling to say it somehow. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Track List:
1. Une nuit qui te Mange
2. Madone
3. La lutte et l’Harmonie
4. Le cinquième Soleil
5. Auréole

Single Review: FS PROJEKT Kredo Tvoyo (Thy Creed)

FS PROJEKT
Kredo Tvoyo (Thy Creed)
Independent
FS Projekt was birthed in 2011 by Efes a Russia-based poet, musician, composer and producer who christened his brainchild “fantasy metal.” This solo project is an example of how categorizations only go so far to describe a musician’s work. Handling the music, lyrics, arrangements, production, vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and castanets, Efes put his new single together with a handful of vocalists and musicians who recorded their parts in various studios, assimilated them into the track and managed to make it work. Kredo Tvoyo is an argument of how flexible and broad minded prog/symphonic metal is still capable of being tantamount to. Samples and percussion instruments added to the instruments Efes recorded Kredo Tvoyo with may be the next step in expanding underground metal’s range, depending on how widespread the promotion and how receptive his audience is. His Youtube channel has been uploading promotional videos since 2013; if you’re inclined you can sample as many as you want and decide how groundbreaking the songs are. In the end it depends on your tastes but still it’s difficult to place this track into any single category. Kredo Tvoyo was released in January 2017 and was based on the computer video game Assassins Creed. While this is the first I’ve heard of a song based on a video game, after listening to Nintendocore I’d say anything is possible. Another major difference between FS Projekt and most progressive/symphonic metal bands is the lyrics are penned in Russian. Writing lyrics in languages other than English isn’t something that hasn’t been done before if you’re familiar with underground scenes in Europe, Asia and South America, but doing so on this track contributes greatly to FS Projekt’s unconventional innovation. Efes trades lead vocals with guest vocalist Anna Mishina and their partnership is an integral part of the big picture. The keyboards and strings introducing the song (by Efes and Oleg Mishin), the sample processing of Mikhail Trubetskov, the abrupt, consistent change in atmosphere, divergent keyboards and Latin instruments of Rodrigo Abelha form a monumental narrative if you’re attentive to the statement being made. Paweł Jaroszewicz directs the song through each tempo change which is good as a solid drummer is needed to hold everything together. You should make a point of checking FS Projekt out at least once. -Dave Wolff

Article: Hey Ho, Let’s Go by Alison Stone

Hey Ho, Let’s Go
By Alison Stone, October 9, 2017
 One critic said that British punks sang anger, Americans, pain. But punk was more than emotion, more than the sense of humor the Ramones brought to the mix, more than the adrenaline rush of a live show, more than the aura of sex around everything. Watching Riff Randell blow up Vince Lombardi High in Rock ‘N Roll High School, I felt that freedom was possible. Though classmates bullied me for my music, taunts of Your hair’s blue changing to Your hair’s green as my Krazy Kolor faded, and though I dutifully regurgitated teachers’ beliefs–Rochester’s blindness made him and Jane equal–bands like the Ramones offered a different paradigm–that we could make our own meaning, equal to anyone, buoyed by song. Reader, I married them.
Shivering in a tiger mini and torn shirt I’d fabric markered with the cartoons from Rocket to Russia, I clutched my fake ID, breath held until the bouncers let me in. One two three four! No costumes, no audience banter. Just the Ramones and their music, the energy of the crowd joining the energy of the songs, magnifying it and sending it back and forth between audience and band. Dee Dee handing out guitar picks, which I later poked holes in and wore as earrings. Joey’s arm extended like a preacher’s.
I saw the Ramones whenever they came to town. My system for getting to the front — turn slightly, put a shoulder forward, step, turn, repeat – worked every time. Pressed against the stage, I was part of the experience rather than mere spectator. I left sweaty, satisfied, and spent.
Since blowing up my school wasn’t an option, I skipped senior year and headed for college. Brandeis had a rep as radical, but my classmates dressed conventionally and listened to popular rock. My school life and club life were separate worlds.
When the ballots for campus concert came out, one of the choices was the Ramones, with ex-Doll David Johansen as opening act. My sole punk Brandeis friend and I campaigned. We knocked on doors. Called in favors. We begged and cajoled, extolling the Ramones’ praises until our victims agreed to vote for them just to get us to leave. Still, numerous students would have to choose the Ramones on their own. Only two years ago I’d been ridiculed, but people were catching on. The Ramones/Johansen ticket won. I joined the Hospitality Committee to meet them. Quiet and slouched, barely interacting with each other, the Ramones ate pizza in a conference room. Joey ambled over, stuck out his hand. I’m Joey. (As if I didn’t know.) This was my chance, but for what? Not a groupie, not a peer, not wanting him in bed, not knowing what to say, I managed only, Would you like another slice?
The gym was packed, a crowd far larger than at local clubs. As the first chords blasted, the non-event of meeting them receded. What mattered was the Ramones and me in the dark, the music loud and necessary. And the band played like they’d never stop.
This article can also be read at First Of The Month. -DW

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Demo Review: PAGANFIRE Karumal Dumal! Kasuklam Suklam! Demo 2017

Karumal Dumal! Kasuklam Suklam! Demo 2017
Independent’
This is the first time I’ve heard new material from Paganfire since I reviewed their single The Executor Is Back early in 2016. Age still hasn’t slowed them down or eroded their inherent drive to play the most extreme death thrash as they possibly can. Much like thrash bands took metal to the next level in response to bands who were too image conscious, bands like Paganfire, Dreaded Mortuary. End Of Man, Infestor and countless others formed to carry the torch for them in response to nu-metal’s mass acceptance. A recent article posted at abs-cbn.com goes into Paganfire’s achievement of international success without ever making a single compromise or taking stock of what’s “popular” on national radio at any given time. They’ve stuck it out doing what they want for a long time, and you would be surprised at how much underground metal has grown in the Philippines since they started, considering that most of the bands have made a name for themselves the old school way. Again we have a release that hearkens to a time when there was no internet or social media, when news about the latest shows got around by word of mouth and flier trading. Moreover you can picture yourself seeing the band performed in a club, complete with slam dancing fans. The production of Karumal Dumal! Kasuklam Suklam! is typical of demos recorded independently by bands whose funds to purchase equipment are limited.. Even so, the top-notch delivery of these tracks, their energy and technical precision transcends the sound quality. If they were recorded in a professional studio with all the new equipment, they would do no less than simply blow the listener away. As on past releases the band borrow heavily from Kreator and Pestilence while the bass guitars have more presence, on a similar level to Venom’s legendary frontman Cronos (especially in the second track Disturbing, Deafening, Disgusting). I always preferred a strong bass sound with the appropriate amount of distortion, and if your tastes are similar you’ll find it here. The ever present guitar solos in The False Protector do their part to show Paganfire have talent in qualities equal to their sickness. Also the time changes were given more attention in the songwriting process, and the slower sections of the songs seem to have been thought out a little more. Paganfire’s success story may be going slowly, but in many ways it pays off for them. -Dave Wolff

Track List:
1. The False Protector
2. Disturbing, Deafening, Disgusting

Musician Interview: SODA

Interview with SODA

How long have you been recording and releasing material, and what compelled you to pursue it as a career?
I started playing instruments on and off when I was really young and I was always singing. As far as releasing music, I started to do little box radio tapes from my basement when I was real young. I would pass them around, bring them to school, and even sell a few for a couple of bucks. The little radio I had at the time really captured my voice and guitar. When it comes to recording, I don't claim to be much of an engineer. In a studio setting I produce more and do some assisting at the desk but it's not full blown. However, my new release coming out on October 13, Therapy Sessions, was recorded mostly by me and done right in my home. It was exciting. What compelled me to navigate toward music was the band Extreme. The second I laid eyes on Nuno and Gary a weird switch clicked. Not to mention that I was already in love with larger than life personalities like Boy George, Prince and Jon Bon Jovi.

What genres were direct influences on your playing and songwriting? Did you start with one instrument and progress to others?
In general I am a mixed bag. I've always gravitated toward anything that was a bit different or off the beaten path. But that's not to say that I don't get into totally commercial stuff either. If I like it, I like it... it's as simple as that. I started with piano, then drums/percussion and eventually leaning toward guitar and singing most. I can make a decent racket with just about anything.

Do you still have any of the early tapes you recorded in your basement? Would you ever re-release them at some point?
I have tons of tapes, and a bunch of them are unlabeled. Re-releasing them would be a fun project someday I'd imagine. I haven't heard what is on them in years.

How well has the D.I.Y. approach to promoting and distributing your material worked for you?
It has been good, fun and sometimes fruitful. I realized more and more that was a better way for me to operate due to a majority of reasons. Plus, I'm not really a "dick" so to speak and that quite honestly is the better way to be when it comes to this type of stuff. I've seen a lot of people use others as stepping stones and advance farther, but that's just not me. I do my thing and I'm fine with it.

How many bands were you involved in since you began? How many releases does each band have out?
As far as I would consider them to be anyway, I guess nine. In relation to releases I'm lucky to have a large catalog. On my website there is a "releases" section. I'd tell anyone to head over there if they were really interested.

Have you always worked solo or have you worked with other musicians during your career?
I honestly prefer to be in a band situation, but at times it's just difficult because it's often large personalities and I usually try to take the lead. I've always kinda had the luxury or being able to easily revert to a solo situation when I was not full time in a band. However, at this current moment not being in a band has been a bit of a relief quite honestly.

How many different musicians have you worked with altogether? Were they mostly based in Long Island or were some from Queens or New York City?
I'd say I've lost count at this point. I've worked with super indie local guys and gals from Long Island, NYC, Queens, Brooklyn (Shinobi Ninja, Spookey Ruben, Lord of the Lost, Acey Slade, Sponge, Rob Szabo) all the way up to singing with Darren Hayes and Nuno Bettencourt. I and the people that I have worked with have covered lots of ground as far as musicianship; we've used dulcimers, all sorts of guitars, bells, piano, basses, drums, toys, and even up to glassware on my new release.

How much creative freedom does writing, composing, playing and recording solo provide?
Endless. I have to worry about no one. No drama or issues. I work at my own pace and make and break all the rules.

Did all that solo work help you develop your approach to songwriting? How much does it show so far? How much farther do you have to go in that regard?
For the most part I'd write alone on an acoustic guitar and bring the ideas over to band practices. That how most of the foundations were built for the blossoming songs with the various bands I've been in. I don't need to go any farther to find my own identity, I was born with it.

Does self-promotion include running an independent label or social media channels?
When I released my first solo EP many years ago when I was very young. It was in between records from my band Violet Daydream who also had a production deal. It was a cool time. My goal was to start my own label, I did release that EP under my little indie label at the time which was Melancholy Kid Records. I do have all the social media stuff going on, It's not always my favorite thing but I do understand it is a necessary evil.

Are there clubs in Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn and NYC where you prefer to perform?
Not really... it's different now. There are lots of nice newer places. I do think that Long Island has a lot of good stuff going on.

Describe Violet Daydream's production deal. How did you end up releasing an EP on your label?
Kelly Price who used to sing for Whitney Houston had developed her label and scouted us at an In-Store performance. She shopped us to larger labels that would use her subsidiary, Big Mama Records, to release her artists. Fred Durst, Sylvia Brown, and Busta Rhymes were all involved. We were promised a lot. My EP was not released by Violet Daydream but A Boy Called Soda, I don't want to confuse the readers. I had a bunch of songs that did not fit into what Violet Daydream was doing, so in-between records I cut my own thing. I learned a lot.

How long were you running Melancholy Kid Records? What led to the label folding?
MKR was ambitious and lasted a few years. It stopped existing because I was not prepared to keep it going and make it more. I did not know as much about the business aspect of this stuff as I've learned over the years. I've always done everything on my own, a little help here and there but as you know you can't count on people.

Were you running MKR on your own, or was there a staff working with you? How much promotion went into it? Did you consider singing other New York bands?
MKR was all solo. The promotion that went into it was mainly my A Boy Called Soda EP and my website at that time. As far as other New York bands, for a long time I've wanted to get into producing a band or two.

Who are the bands you’re thinking of helping produce? Are these local bands you have corresponded with and have you approached them with the idea?
I'd love to work with a band called Sadartha, they are from Virginia. We've talked about it but the distance makes it challenging.

Is Sadartha a new band or have they been active for some time? How often have you discussed the possibility of producing them?
Sadartha has been active for over five years I think. The singer Johnny Noxious started it a while back. I think now is their time to do some stuff. Working with them has been discussed between me and their bass guy Mello. Life is crazy and time is hard to get a grip on. Who knows what could happen with that or anything else really.

How long has A Boy Called Soda been an active project, and how many releases are out?
I did the A Boy Called Soda thing for about four years and we have one EP out.

Describe A Boy Called Soda's EP and how it was made.
It was my first time recording solo in a studio with only an engineer. I still had a lot to learn, and I learned a lot. It's a very introspective kinda coming of age recording. It was once called by Hawksley Workman, "Naked and Confessional".

Describe how introspective ABC Soda was, and why you consider it a coming of age release.
It was heavily based on relationships and sexuality, super personal. I can barely listen to it now for a number of reasons which would be a whole other interview, haha. I was really young and it just helped me get stuff out that was getting packed away, and that is never a good thing, so really, the whole experience was positive although the end product was a somber one.

What songs on that EP do you personally consider your finest work at the time?
Probably "Never B Whole", "Gabriel" and "Goodbye". I still perform those.

Tell the readers about your other band Nox Cult. You released a live album a while back and from what I remember it's far from mainstream friendly.
NOX CULT was three strangers that came together, made some amazing music and built a literal CULT type thing... and then burned out like a supernova. I'm so proud of that band, it's just a shame we didn't get a chance to release more. We had started a studio record and have a few more live cuts recorded, so that could easily surface one day. People ask us all the time about that band... it's pretty amazing.

Who was in the lineup of Nox Cult with you? How often did you perform and how does the live album represent your show?
NOX CULT was me, Fox on bass and backing vocals and Monkey on drums and some programming. Really talented guys, playing with them invigorated me. We played a lot and tried to spread out as best we could. We really built that from the ground up and it was incredibly organic. Our ideas and how the band was presented was very special, it came very easy and we really started to get that vibe out into the crowds. It really started to feel like everyone was a part of something that was the ultimate goal. When you have a Cult, you really want to spread that shit out, haha. The "Fucking Live" EP we did was a good example of what the band was just slightly capable of. It was loud, hungry, raw, urgent. Our songs were well written and well thought out with important lyrical content. It's probably some of the best guitar work I have ever done as well.

What songs on Fucking Live have the most energy and which of them got the biggest response from your audiences?
That whole thing is energy. "Maniacs" was certainly a crowd favorite.

Why did Nox Cult disband? Do you see them reforming to release new material at some point?
In short, strained relationships and issues that sadly could not find resolution. My patience for any kind of drama or nonsense is mostly gone. Any leftover stuff could find a release in the future.

Provide some information about the new release you are planning for October.
My new release, "Therapy Sessions: An Experiment In Sound and Word" is a very stream of consciousness recording. Spoken word, storytelling, weird sounds and arrangements and a few songs. A very non-traditional "record". Limited editions will be available Friday October 13th.

Describe the recording of Therapy Session and how the stream of consciousness comes into play for the spoken word tracks.
Aside from two tracks. I did it all on my own, which was new for me. It was fun and I learned some new stuff. I only worked on it when I was 100% invested in contributing to it. I didn't scrutinize any of the components. If I was getting into three, four, five takes... it was too much. I've been saying to people who ask, if an abstract painting had a voice this could be it. The title stems from the fact that it was a therapeutic process for me and also an experimental one.

Who else worked on Therapy Sessions with you? Was it recorded in a professional studio or did you use your own equipment?
The only other musician involved was my drummer from NOX CULT, Monkey. He played on one track. It was not recorded in a professional studio. I did 80% of it on my computer at home with all of my own noisemakers.

How many CD copies have you made of Therapy Sessions? Will you  upload it for streaming on Bandcamp and other social media sites? How do you intend to promote the new album?
"Therapy Sessions" will have a VERY limited release of twenty which comes only in a five piece bundle that I made. Then yes, it will be digital. iTunes, CDBaby, etc and eventually Bandcamp. As far as promotion goes, it will be minimal. This whole thing for me is just meant to be completely unconventional.


-Dave Wolff

Monday, October 9, 2017

Fan Film Review: Days Of Z by Roberta J. Downing

A Live Fan Fiction
Released: January 2015
Starring: Demetrius M. Daniels, Belinda Purdum, Casey Walker, Bel Juarez and Walter Mecham
This piece of live fan fiction packs quite a punch and has the feel of The Walking Dead. The actors were very good. We are all so used to seeing zombies move slowly but in this short, they run. The only thing that made this unbelievable for me was the fact everyone wore clothing not fitting the season (snow was covering the ground which meant that it is cold yet no one acted cold and no breath fog). This short has everything people are looking for to make a great start at making a new television series. -Roberta J. Downing

Track Review: PENTHOS Bodily Shut Down

Bodily Shut Down
Taken from the "Lifeless Haze" cassette demo released by Visceral Circuitry records
For modern death-metal listeners who value their daily discoveries of underground rarities; one of the most frequent complaints is that a lot of the modern groups lack the ferocity and rawness of what the genre represented in yesteryear, and then of course there'll be a counteraction of "But you just haven't dug deep enough yet!” I can say, with all honesty, modern DM isn't one of my favourites but there's a real versatile old-school quality to what is lurking beneath the sound of PENTHOS. Their single 'Bodily Shut Down', although relatively short, is musically quite far removed from the conventional stylings of overwhelmingly fast blast-beats which often serve to lower one's adrenaline as opposed to heightening it. You would have to liken their style as analogous to early AUTOPSY, maybe TERRORIZER and definitely GODFLESH. There's a doom-esque sound to be detected in the group's array of influences although it's not conspicuous or transparent. The drums are metallic, the production is really appealing for those who are into classic 1980s-style DM and the vocals are unyieldingly guttural. Needless to say, I was personally impressed. -Jaime Regadas

Film Review: Kung Fu Yoga by Roberta J. Downing

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery
Released: January 2017
Written and Directed by: Stanley Tong
Produced by Jackie Chan
Starring: Jackie Chan, Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur
Story Line: A Chinese professor of archeology (Jackie Chan) pares up with another professor and her assistant travel to Tibet in search of a long lost treasure. There they find an army said to have disappeared with the treasure and are taken by surprise by a man who comes from a long line of a rival arm. They then travel to Dubai to retrieve a diamond that came from the ice cave in Tibet and then to India in hope of using the diamond to reveal the treasure all the while dealing with traps, ambushes and double crossing.
The beginning of the movie shows the battle from the armies that fought. A lot of this battle is CGI, which there isn’t anything wrong with that – but I do have to say that a lot of the fighting moves used are really not possible. But this IS the legend Jackie Chan after all who is well known for making some very interesting martial art moves (which brings to mind one of his earlier works where he could only fight if he were dunk) but, I digress!!
We then are transported to the present day China where the professor (Chan) is teaching an archeology class on the actual battle and the treasure. This is the first movie I’ve ever seen with Jackie Chan speaking is native language of Mandarin and I find it quite refreshing! Subtitles are provided at the bottom of the screen for everyone to follow along.
I find it quite funny that the professor’s name in the movie is Jack Chan. This is no doubt one of those comical things we have all come to expect from Jackie. He just loves to entertain with his martial arts and comedy and when they are put together as martial art comedy it’s even funnier.
One of my favorite scenes is where Jackie Chan steals a jeep and is giving chase to the bad guys in a hummer and then finds out there is a very large “kitty” in the back. The phrase “Nice kitty” takes on a whole new comical meaning! It will also have you saying “poor kitty” with all the twists and turns. What makes this scene even funnier is that Jackie is talking to the lion asking it if it can speak English and “no matter what don’t get mad.” Then to find out the lion’s name, I literally laughed so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks and had to hold my side.
Finally we come to the end of the movie where Jackie Chan does something I have yet to see… -Roberta J. Downing

This review can also be read at Roberta J. Downing’s blog. -DW

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Single Review: LED BY VAJRA White Dress

White Dress
Taken from the forthcoming album: ΨΥXN (Psyche) to be released on Sliptrick Records
Video footage by Dario Monaco and Giuseppe Nappo
Video edited by Gabriele Quaranta
Video post-production by Alfonso Del Vecchio at "Visualize"
Track engineered, recorded and mastered by Gabriele Quaranta
Led By Vajra is a metalcore/progressive metal band that formed in 2011 under the name Thirsting For Revenge. Releasing their debut EP Raindrops in 2012 and their debut album Leaves In Autumn in ‘15, the Italian band recently signed with Sliptrick Records and are preparing to release their second album Psyche this year. Its first single White Dress is also a promotional video available for viewing on Sliptrick’s Youtube channel since June. At the link to the video is a blurb explaining what the song was written about. Many of you should be forewarned as it’s sensitive subject matter approached by the band with equal sensitivity. To cite a loose quote, “women who get raped… start to think they deserved what happened to them....” People who do harm to others often blame their victims since the harm they cause is such they are incapable of admitting to themselves they are capable of it. With “slut shaming” on the rise and the behavior of many people who are active on social media sites, victim blaming appears to be reaching an all-time high. Personally I never understood why musicians, authors and movie directors have always been blamed for “inciting” violence, even less so in the age of anonymous internet bashing. I was just talking to a friend about this a few hours ago. The band’s position is clear as they are co-fronted by a woman and the lyrics reflect the desire for a return to innocence after a traumatic event. It’s unclear who in the band wrote them but they are strikingly poetic and imaginative when it comes to the deep feelings they’re intended to communicate. Atena Fedele and Mariano Esposito as a vocal duo capture the struggle to be cleansed of the internal stain that resulted from said traumatic event. The transitions between clean and raw vocals indicates the confusion experienced as to dealing with something that life altering, while the setting in which the video was filmed represents the prison made of ice the lyrics describe. The songwriting and musicianship behind the vocals strives to break new ground, with staccato guitar riffs, inventive lyric recitals, a series of unanticipated time changes and a section featuring bass and keyboards appearing at a crucial moment. All this is delivered with the tightest execution you could expect to hear in metalcore. Led By Vajra is doing a lot to take the genre to the next level, so give the single and album a listen. -Dave Wolff


Full Length Review: SUICIDAL CAUSTICITY The Human Touch

The Human Touch
Italy isn't exactly synonymous with death metal though SUICIDAL CAUSTICITY unleash their own brand in its most brutal and unyielding forms. The group was formed in 2007 under the name ORODRETH until it changed to SUICIDAL CAUSTICITY in 2012. Since then, they released two full-length studio albums; 2013's 'The Spiritual Decline' and their newest venture 'The Human Touch'. The group, Dario Lastrucci on bass, Thomas Passanisi on drums, Nikolas "Gorgo" Bruni on vocals and guitarists Elia Murgia and Edoardo Scali, is signed to Amputated Vein Records. Upon observing the nature of the record it becomes apparent it’s kind of a concept album. There's a running symbol of water throughout, expressed in the nature of songs like 'Estuary Abomination' which balances highly organic drum breaks and syncopated guitar riffs. 'The Choral Brooke' is perhaps one of the album's heaviest numbers due to the rapid phrasing of words that flow almost like a rivulet in itself. 'Cascade of Mutilations' and 'Chimaera Canal' adhere to the theme of water in their stripped-back titular context but there's a simultaneous representation of insanity to be found throughout. The opening track 'Diamond Grinder Spring' really sets the mood for the album and is kind of the root which the other tracks stem from. 'Affluent of Woe' is a storming track which features accomplished drumming techniques. There's a two-parter called 'The Rates' which continues the allegorical theme of water to express insanity 'The Rates - Full River Cry' the first part is one of the album's strongest tracks with its catchy rhythm. 'The Rates - Dead River Call' the second part is my favourite moment, with a 6/8 time signature flexible enough to carry the song to different places. The only song I felt was a little out-of-place was the closing number 'Lynn' which was perhaps a tad too long. Nonetheless it's definitely something for death metal fanatics to listen to. -Jaime Regadas

Track list:
1. Diamond Grinder Spring
2. Estuary Abomination
3. Affluent Of Woe
4. The Choral Brooke
5. The Rates - Full River Cry
6. The Rates - Dead River Call
7. Cascade Of Mutilations
8. Chimaera Canal
9. Lynn

Film Review: Don’t Kill It by Roberta J. Downing

Horror / Supernatural (billed as action/comedy/fantasy)
Released March 3, 2017
Directed by: Mike Mendez
Produced by: Michael Thomas Slifkin
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Kristina Klebe and Elissa Dowling
Plot: A Mississippi town is plagued by a demon that jumps into the body of the person who kills its host and a demon hunter is hot on the trail. The demon hunter is given no choice by the FBI agent, who subsequently comes from a long line of Nephilim, to allow her to help to destroy this body swapping demon.
Jebediah Woodly (Dolph Lundgren) goes to a backwater Mississippi town after several news outlets confirm multiple homicides. Dressed like a cowboy wearing numerous religious symbols and a cowboy hat and armed with a gun loaded with rubber bullets and a nifty looking net gun. He shows up at the sheriff’s office to inquire about the murders and is met with disbelief and resistance by Kristina Klebe (Agent Evelyn Pierce).
After a few more murders have taken place, Jebediah convinces the chief (Tony Bentley) to hold a town meeting where the demon just happens to come in, lock the doors and begin another murder spree.
I do love a good hack and slash movie and most of the special effects were okay, I do have to say that there were a few that looked less than believable and were sloppily done.
I liked the fact that the “demon” did not discriminate between race, color, gender or age! Nothing is scarier than an old lady sporting black demon eyes going on a killing rampage.
Now, I know that horror movies, especially those that are slasher / killing spree movies people tend to be a bit…shall I say a bit dense however in this case, it seems no one listens and they are all should be singing “I am stuck on stupid!”
I really felt like there could have been more before the movie ended and perhaps this might be the cliff hanger leading up to a sequel
Thanks to the veteran acting of Dolph Lundgren and Kristian Klebe, this movie wasn’t a total loss. I’d have to rate this 4 out of 5. -Roberta J. Downing

This review can also be read at Roberta J. Downing’s blog. -DW

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Video Review: 5 STAR GRAVE Eat You Alive

Official video for the track from The Red Room, released by Sliptrick Records September 26, 2017
Directed and edited by Ivan King
Special thanks to Hexe Meat Grinder
Eat You Alive is 5 Star Grave’s second video to promote their new album The Red Room; the first was Ballad Of The Vampire released in the end of August. The track the video was made for is a contentious incorporation of and horror punk a la Misfits and Balzac, heavy on distorted guitars and aggressive vocals. It’s an accessible approach to both genres, without a trace of softness anywhere. Setting 5 Star Grave apart from other metalcore bands is a keyboard sound somewhat likened to science fiction cinema of the ‘50s and ‘60s. There are actually a few different keyboard sounds that create the mystified ambiguity of garishly cornball drive-in sci-fi fare like The Thing From Another World (remade by John Carpenter as The Thing in 1982), Kronos: Ravager Of Planets, Queen Of Blood and Five Million Miles To Earth. Researching their 2008 debut album Corpse Breed Syndrome and their 2011 album Drugstore Hell I discovered keyboards were an essential part of the band’s musicianship from the beginning. I should add their early material leaned closer toward melodic death metal and at times they’ve been inclined to draw influence from Motorhead. The band also covered The Ramones’ Pet Sematary in 2010, establishing new ways of interpreting it. Through all this the band has always taken care to cultivate the keyboards’ bizarre atmosphere, and Eat You Alive shows those efforts coming along nicely. This band is growing on me the more I listen to them and I’m starting to think I’ve discovered something unique and special. The promotional video for Eat You Alive features the beautiful alt model, tattoo artist, body piercer and singer Hexe Meat Grinder whose extensive work is at her Facebook community page. In the video she meets someone for what presumably is a date; watching this I suspect some kind of bait and switch is in the works. It came a few moments later; I don’t want to reveal what it was there is another bait and switch that immediately follows and changes the tone of the entire video short. The interspersed band shots show a gritty, dirty contrast to the short, as if showing some darkness going on inside the female lead’s deepest, darkest thoughts. The video feels like it could have been made into a mini horror film. You can see some live videos of the band as well as the Eat You Alive and Ballad Of The Vampire promos at 5 Star Grave’s Youtube channel. -Dave Wolff


Friday, October 6, 2017

Film Review: The Thinning by Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Thriller
Date of Release: October 12, 2016
Companies involved: Cinemand, Kids At Play,Legendary Digital Media
Director: Michael J. Gallagher
Produced by: Jason Berger as executive producer. Michael J. Gallagher as producer & director, Steve Greene as executive producer, Amy Laslettç as executive producer, Jana Winternitz as producer, Michael Wormser as producer
Starring: Logan Paul, Peyton List, Lia Marie Johnson
Plot: An exam that determines the fates of 5% of the population done yearly, the ones that fail are executed plain and simple but the truth is much darker than that actually.
Review: Ok the premise is interesting but honestly it’s poorly executed. So you basically get rid the failing ones of a test… isn’t it, by logic, more efficient and cheaper to just limit the number of children a family can have? At most, sterilization of the population could be a healthier and less morally screwed alternative. I honestly couldn’t stand the acting; it felt quite forced and the plot felt quite unrealistic even more as I watched on due to the lousy acting. Couldn’t watch long (about ten minutes or so) before deciding to give up, since I did not felt any bond with the characters or the movie itself as a whole package based on the little I could stand. Honestly so not my cup of tea if you ask me. I’d say to keep away from this movie if possible, not like if it was the Bubonic plague, but near that. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Single Review: SUNWALTER Fermi Paradox

From their new full length Alien Hazard released on Sliptrick Records September 15, 2017
Upon hearing the term "sci-fi metal" the mind begins to conjure up some strange sonic ideas of just exactly how the archetypal sci-fi metal group should sound. I was thoroughly blown away by SUNWALTER and that's something that seldom occurs in the modern metal industry for me. This group is incontrovertibly genre-twisting, melodic and full of visceral energy. Keyboards in metal are always something I'm fond of and I really feel SUNWALTER have cracked the code regarding how to utilize keys in this genre correctly. They offer a level of enhancement and it just makes the whole spectacle so much more enjoyable. In their song 'Fermi Paradox' from their new album Alien Hazard you've got a mixture of the metal stereotypes and the not so-metal stereotypes. You've got blast-beats, chugging guitars and death growls but one also gets to hear operatic vocal techniques, swirling synthesizer pads and moments of gentle repose. From the beginning to the end this five-minute song is absolutely enchanting and it really makes one eager to hear the full LP. -Jaime Regadas

Film Review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Drama, horror, musical
Date of Release: December 21, 2007
Companies involved: DreamWorks (presents), Warner Bros. (presents), Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation (as A Parkes/MacDonald Production), Zanuck Company, The (as A Zanuck Company Production), Tim Burton Productions (uncredited)
Director: Tim Burton
Produced by: Brenda Berrisford as associate producer, Katterli Frauenfelder as co-producer, Derek Frey as associate producer, John Logan as producer, Laurie MacDonald as producer, Patrick McCormick as executive producer, Walter F. Parkes as producer (as Walter Parkes), Richard D. Zanuck as producer
Starring: Johhny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Alan Rickman
Plot: Benjamin Barker, unjustly sent to prison, escapes and returns to his old neighborhood in London to seek revenge. He meets Ms.Lovett who runs a pie shop and they agree to help each other. Based on the Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler.
Review: An odd couple with a very interesting association by fate, by choice perhaps? One of the films I can’t get enough of. Personally speaking I can’t praise enough Tim Burton’s take on the musical on that touch only he can provide. The story is quite solid; the acting is impressive as one can actually see and almost feel Todd’s disgust regarding the pies. The fact that they sing the pieces themselves is one of the strongest points in my opinion, not many do. My favorite songs of the movie repertoire are “My Friends” and “The Worst Pies In London”. My favorite scene was the competence between Todd and Pirelli, where we clearly see how patience is the key to a victory; sometimes the excess of confidence marks the difference. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Full Length Review: LACRIMOSA Testimonium

Testimonium
Release Date: August 25, 2017
First of all I’d like to thank a friend of mine, Alex Continelli , for introducing me to this band if it wasn’t for him I’d be unaware of the existence of this amazing band. The instrumentation on the 1st track, Wenn unsere Helden sterben, use of strings is quite interesting, a nice opener and the voice is eerie, kind of intense and heartfelt. The fact that it's organized in “acts” is a refreshing thing. In general the album I felt was pleasantly built, with a smooth flow, great lyrics and great instrumentation. My personal favorites of the album were “Wenn unsere Helden Sterben” and “Nach dem Sturm” along “Lass die Nacht nicht über mich fallen” because of the instrumentations and vocals. The fact that the band mixes traditional instruments like violin cello and more modern ones like guitars, synthesizers, drums and others is an important thing to mention as not many do. Another thing worth mentioning is the swift and precise bass lines along the melancholic tone in the whole album. A funny fact is that by moments I remembered Hotel California from The Eagles when listening to Der leise Tod’s instrumentation at the start. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Track List:
1. Wenn unsere Helden sterben
2. Nach dem Sturm
3. Zwischen allen Stühlen
4. Weltenbrand
5. Lass die Nacht nicht über mich fallen
6. Herz und Verstand
7. Black Wedding Day
8. My Pain
9. Der leise Tod
10. Testimonium

Full Length Review: TOMMY HUOVINEN Kostonjoen Avenue

Kostonjoen Avenue
Z-Trading
Release Date: September 19, 2016
Well as an old follower of Tommy I must say I’m pleasantly surprised from his rock sound and constant evolution. In this particular album he plays with several music genres, like tango, pop, among rock and a few others. One of the most interesting facts is that any artist that can blend smoothly so many styles in a single album is certainly skillful. One of Tommy’s strong points is that he puts souls and it can be felt on all of his work. The band is solid, one can actually listen the precision on the drums, the right timing on the bass lines and gentleness on the piano. Of this album my favorite tracks is Kaikki ei oo kultaa for the enigmatic intro with the guitar, the relaxed smooth vocals with the soft bass with the sharp drumming. Rakastan sydämesi valoa is one of the tracks along Lajinsa viimeinen that remind me of tango, especially for the instrumentation and the flow. I’d say it’s a solid album and a soulful masterpiece. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Track List:
1. Kostonjoen Avenue
2. Ruma Rakkaus
3. Kosketuspintaa
4. Parasta ennen
5. Kaikki ei oo kultaa
6. Rakastan sydämesi valoa
7. Arvottomat
8. Lajinsa viimeinen
9. Mustajärven yöt
10. Työttömän laulu
11. Rakkauden anarkiaa
12. Pahan pojan pulverii
13. Syy vai seuraus?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

EP Review: JAIME REGADAS The Old Room

Independent
You may have heard of Jamie Regadas from the reviews he is currently contributing to this zine, but you may not have been aware he is a musician as well as a writer. This EP he just released this past week is compiled of four demos he recorded independently and released on his channel at Youtube. An earlier video clip uploaded to that channel is a promotional video by a project he was involved in with his father Carlo Regadas, Lucid. Clarity (A Break In The Clouds) is an artsy film accompanying an instrumental track described as “an experimental blend of evocative soundscapes.” For people who appreciate videos like this I recommend checking this out first, as a means of getting acquainted with Regadas’ work. The black-and-white Twilight Zone-esque imagery combined with musicianship redolent of Pink Floyd afforded me additional insight into the conception of his new project. The Old Room is far removed from Lucid with the first track Emerald, which is built on piano, keyboard synths and vocals. The song’s tone is similar as it calls images to mind as surreal as what was offered in the Lucid video. Regadas says this was the last song composed for the EP and while thrown together it sounded the most accessible and sounded closest to single material. I saw his point in general, but personally I was thinking was it mainstream accessible? In the sense of pop and the like? It had some pop elements but unexpectedly went into prog-rock mode about halfway through. So you can conclude it’s also far removed from most of what we hear these days. But definitely in a good way as it could leave a mark on indie charts if pushed. Dreaming In Neon is another piece written for Lucid by Regadas and his father. You can hear similarities to Pink Floyd as much as in Clarity (A Break In The Clouds), especially in the guitars and keyboards. There are also some prog-rock themes to be found in the song. The Curtain Call was composed in a Paris hotel room, and tells the tale of a fashion model who becomes involved in a murder mystery. Listening to this I gathered it was single material somewhat like Emerald, only with more guitars and a section that reminded me of Frank Zappa. 'Incandescence' is a piano instrumental Regadas wrote in roughly half an hour, sometime in the late evening. While he describes it as the EP’s most romantic song, it sounded like it would have taken longer than half an hour to write. I could hear shades of John Lennon and Billy Joel in this one. So all in all The Old Room has a diverse range and is worth checking out if you’re so inclined. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Emerald
2. Dreaming In Neon
3. The Curtain Call
4. Incandescence

CD Review: KINGS WILL FALL Thrash Force One

Thrash Force One
Independent
Release Date: February 11, 2017
Kings Will Fall was founded in 2013 by Lukas Gross (drums) and Daniel Vanzo (bass), both residents of Sarentino (Bolzano), Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. Rene Thaler (guitars) and Fabian Jung (vocals) joined soon afterward, and this lineup has remained steady through their debut EP Death Comes Early (released in 2015) and their debut CD Thrash Force One (released earlier this year). I missed the band’s EP and this is my formal introduction to them, I’d assume the customary heaviness, grittiness and raw energy they pour through their instruments is a natural progression from what they recorded previously. There is more than enough of it to go around and by the final track you’ll feel your eardrums were cleaned with corrosive and your brain left to simmer in boiling oil for an indefinite period. Something far worse than a simple ear hemorrhage. To the uninitiated, this thrash experience would be like sitting in the Middle Ages torture device known as the Judas Chair. The rawness carries the songwriting exceptionally well and drives the band’s commitment home. The relentless crunch by Thaler and the rumbling bass of Vanzo does this in particular in Toxic War, Shots For Glory, Burn All Fuel, Endless Pain, Damage Crown, Gängster 1948 and their cover of Motörhead’s We Are Motörhead. Another impression however was that their influences tended at times to sound too fragmented and could be tightened. Thrash, death metal, black metal, modern thrash and tribal post-thrash a la Sepultura are all drawn from. Only one song will remind you of classic thrash; particularly Slayer and Venom; and the next will sound galvanized by death metal. Maybe each song was written at different times or the band wanted to show their range, but for me it made the tracks sound too disconnected from each other. I do believe Kings Will Fall can improve in this department and achieve more uniformity upon returning to the studio. Still the band’s thrash roots manage to hold everything together, allowing enough potential for the band to condense their influences. Should they work toward this I can see them becoming an unstoppable underground force, to loosely coin a phrase. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. In Dead & Mud & Misery
2. Toxic War
3. Shots For Glory
4. Burn All Fuel
5. Endless Pain
6. Damage Crown
7. Buster
8. Gängster 1948
9. We Are Motörhead (Motörhead Cöver)