Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Demo Review: Cervix "Demo" (Independent) by Devin J. Meaney

Band: Cervix
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Country: USA
Genre: Hardcore punk
Demo: Demo
Format: Digital
Label: Independent
Release date: April 16, 2024
Scrolling through the underbelly of YouTube I came to a demo by CERVIX! This is some very raw and primitive stuff! The production is very rough but the music is on point and upbeat and leaves you feeling better off than when you initially struck up the YouTube stream!
This short demo (Demo 2024) was released in 2024 (quite obviously) and the band hails from Alabama, USA! I know very little about the Alabama punk scene but if stuff like this is produced I can say I’d like to hear more!
Something worth mentioning is the vocals. They sound like they were recorded on a dollar store mic and it takes me back to my teenage years of making demos with friends. It wouldn’t work with many kinds of music but with punk and crust and grind and stuff this style of vocal works very well and actually adds character to the tracks!
Just check this demo out if you’re into the raw stuff! -Devin J. Meaney

Steph: Vocals
Joseph: Guitar
Lice: Bass
Isaac: Drums

Track list:
1. The Butcher
2. Death Rattle
3. Compliance
4. Sick Disguise
5. Misery
6. Self Destruction

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Demo Review: NÃO "Demo" (Educacion Cínica) by Devin J. Meaney

Band: NÃO
Location: Bremen
Country: Germany
Genre: Hardcore punk
Demo: Demo
Format: Digital
Label: Educacion Cínica (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Release date: March 4, 2024
After doing the laundry, I decided it was time for a quick blast of the punk rockin’ before bed. Making my way to YouTube I browsed through a handful of demos and eventually I came to NÃO – DEMO! The punk rocking is pretty standard but man is this blasting! The German vocals and the greasy production make for a spectacular and “spectacularly brief” onslaught of old-school hardcore!
Six short tracks pulse forward on this. It is hard to pick a favorite as each song holds about the same amount of heaviness and forward crunch! I don’t know much about this band but this demo was released on a label from Argentina. Whether you snag the physical or listen to it on YouTube like I did I’d suggest giving this group your time!
I won’t give you any more word vomit. Just listen to NÃO now! -Devin J. Meaney

Morgana: Vocals, lyrics
Zuri: Guitar
Mateo/Mommers: Bass
Danny: Drums

Track list:
1. Crime Nuclear
2. 1964
3. Reflexo
4. Medo
5. Redução de danos
6. Futuro

Monday, April 22, 2024

Interview with The Crown Syndicate by Dave Wolff

Interview with The Crown Syndicate by Dave Wolff

Coming from Tucson, Arizona, how is The Crown Syndicate developing a unique rock sound setting them apart from other rock bands? How do you incorporate different subgenres?
Rey Vasquez (guitars, vocals): What sets us apart from past rock bands is that we are a democratic band. Although there is a de facto leader, every member of the group brings their voice to each song. We all come from different backgrounds and genres and we bring those to our writing. I, the guitarist, bring a vocabulary stemming from listening to my heroes such as Eddie Van Halen, Ace Frehley, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Vai and Prince. Toni, the drummer, brings his jazz background and his love of Metal to the mix. Jeff brings his vast experience playing with New Wave groups in the 80’s and his Blues expertise to create compelling parts to each song. Toby was a theater kid and his vast knowledge of great frontmen in history, is a natural entertainer but it is his thoughtful lyrics reminiscent of Sting and Jeff Buckley, and drawing from personal life experiences that brings the audience into the show. The sum of the parts is greater than the individual in The Crown Syndicate. Subtract any member, and it won’t be the same. I believe that strongly and it is what sets us apart from everyone else.

Do your different backgrounds include different levels of music education and different bands you played in before forming The Crown Syndicate?
Jeff Masterson (bass, vocals): Though we don't have drastically different levels of music education, no degrees in music or anything, we do range from playing completely by ear to years of private lessons and training. But we write and play more from the heart than the brain. Previous bands can't help but have an influence but what's unique with us is age/experience range we have, from eighteen year old drummer Antonio with limited previous band experience to bassist Jeff who is, um, older with decades of playing in bands. That combination gives us a solid foundation but with some really fresh ideas and attitude.

Are you looking for a common denominator in all of the music you listen to when composing, or do you arrange the music so your influences fit in specific places? How does the band go about completing the process?
Toby Plowden (vocals): We have a pretty simple work flow. Having said that, it may not work for everyone. I’ll flesh out ideas first. Riffs first, then if a particular one seems interesting then I’ll start building, identifying verses, pre-choruses, choruses, bridges, middle 8’s and so on. Toni and I will jam out the idea and tweak the arrangement if needed. We'll then record a blueprint and save it on a shared drive with Jeff and Toby. Toby will then write lyrics and record a base vocal while Jeff writes his parts. At rehearsal we’ll run through the song several times then track the basic live. It’s usually one or two takes. The questions we strive to answer are: Does the riff serve for the purpose of the song? Do the lyrics match the music? Does the solo? What do they say? Is there a “Swing” in the song?

Is it easy for people to recognize your songwriting and musicianship idiosyncrasies when they hear your material? Considering your influences, is the band appealing to a broad audience?
Toby: I really think that it is. From a vocal perspective, I use a lot of three to four part harmonies, I change phrasing and timing throughout a single song, and the lyrics all have very clear narratives addressing relationship or societal issues. Not very typical for a band that plays motherfucking rock and roll! From an instrumentation perspective, you're never going to find a better rhythm section than Jeff and Tono. Tono is always in the pocket and just kinda swings every tune, but then you take Jeff's blues and new wave influences and apply them to hard rock?! That's why every song has this unique groove! Unmistakable. And, of course, there's Rey. His sound is singular. There is no other guitarist that sounds like Rey. He takes all these diverse influences and all of his musical theory knowledge and creates melodic tapestries. You know a song is by The Crown Syndicate because it doesn't sound like anyone else, it's unique.
Our varied influences and creative arrangements are exactly why we have broad appeal. Our music just “feels” familiar, without sounding like a reproduction of any other band. Within one song you're going to have strong harmonies and a chorus with three overlapping lines and three different phrasing structures, which appeals to a pop crowd, you have a solid groove that's both funky and drives the song to appeals to blues, jazz, rock, and then you have these heavy guitar riffs, barn-burning solos, and mind blowing drum fills that just scream hard rock and metal. Within one song, everyone can find something they connect with.

Generally, how long does it take the band to construct a song, from figuring out vocal harmonies to combining rock, new wave, blues, and groove, arranging everything so they fit together?
Toni Vasquez (drums, percussion): It doesn’t take long at all really. It starts out with me and my dad in our living room just messing around see what works and not. Then there’s always one groove that works and we just expand on that idea further. We record it on our phone then send it off to the guys. Toby records a simple vocal track of his ideas and if we like them we start recording. We start out with just drums and scratch guitar. Later we over dub the guitar and record our bass and Toby records his vocals at home. I then get all the tracks and mix and master them. One song may take three or four months to finish but we’re all just working off our own clocks no set deadlines which makes it stress free. Nevertheless, we work on two or three songs at a time.

From progressive rock to thrash and death metal to black n roll, bands have fused rock and metal in one form or another since the mid 1990s. Before the band began, in what places did you see rock and metal harmonizing?
Rey: Rock and metal have always been synonymous, one cannot exist without the other. Although there are the gatekeepers who only listen to one or the other, there are bands who proudly listen to everything. Antonio and I are and have always been huge fans of metal from thrash to death and black and have used aspects of the genres in our music from movements to aesthetic to production. And just like we are fans of all things metal, we also look towards Pop and Latin to influence our music, especially in the songwriting and arrangements. The fusion of all of these elements and genres is in the DNA of The Crown Syndicate. We’re not a one trick pony, haha.

Bands like Sepultura incorporated Latin music into their material when thrash and death metal expanded their boundaries. What was their role in bridging those styles in the following years?
Rey: Sepultura were born in Brazil and their incorporation of Brazilian themes, musically and thematically, automatically made them different. From their socially conscious lyrics to the swing and percussion that are not typically found in metal. They were intriguing.

Considering there are as many preachers as there are gatekeepers, how do you tell when bands genuinely fuse metal and rock by writing what they feel? Would you consider expanding into other genres, for example techno, synthpop, or Celtic music?
Rey: I enjoy when bands take risks in music. There is a sort of punk ethos to it in that it is a thumbing of the nose to the gatekeepers. Having said that, there has to be an authenticity to the risk and when there isn’t, the failure of the product is apparent. As fans of many genres, there is a chance that we may delve into any of them. We have written a death metal album based on a short story as well as a blues album because we started as a blues band.

Can you provide readers with any information about the death metal and blues albums you wrote?
Rey: The death metal album we have on deck is based on a dream that one of my sons would have as he was battling cancer. Thankfully he’s pulled through but the story was compelling and we had to put it to music.
It is the age old tale of good vs. evil and how a person can be pushed to the extreme by everyone in their lives. We’ll be working on it this summer and ready for release in the fall. As for the Blues album, we started out as a blues band and played in bars for two decades honing our craft and playing the standards as well as writing our own. Once in a while we pull out one of those old tunes to great effect.

When you practice in your living room, how do you usually find an inkling that a riff you play would work?
Rey: Sometimes the best and most memorable riffs are the catalysts for great songs. They lend themselves to become vehicles for Toby to write to. If the riff sounds and feels good, it is good.

How are people responding to the effort you put into your songwriting and song structure? Do you see your listeners becoming receptive to other genres as a result of your music?
Toby: I've been really surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response we've received for our songs! I think the big reason behind this is our approach to writing each individual song, from first recorded note to final master. We don't write our music to fit a specific genre or sound, we're writing songs that we'd want to hear, music that we would be fans of, and every decision made is what is best for this specific song. I know how arrogant it sounds, but I listen to our music all the time! It's the dynamics of the song, the harmonies that are fun to pick out and sing along with, the signature guitar solos that make you want to play air-guitar at 75 mph driving down the freeway (not that I would suggest doing that), and banging along to the drums on your steering wheel! Personally, I'm always laying down some air-bass when I'm listening, trying to keep up with Jeff but despite my intimidating air-bass skills there is no keeping up with Jeff... only listen and learn from the master.
We also write with each other in mind. When we were rehearsing “Love Wrong”, one day Rey starts doing a different chord progression on the last chorus, so we go over it a few times to tighten it up. Once we're there, I turn to Rey and ask “Is that new chorus progression for me?” Rey laughed and said “Yeah man, figure out something cool to do.” When we listen to the rough recording in control room, Rey and I were humming these different melody lines over the last chorus, and I ended up using both! I think this type of effort really shows in the final product, and is a main driving force in the positive responses we've seen.
Not only are our listeners receptive to other genres, but we'll direct them to some of our influences. You like Never Enough? I was listening to a lot of Chris Stapleton when I wrote that, you should check him out! Cloud Nine is your favorite? You better add some Prince to your playlist! You're blown away by our self-titled Black album?! Listen to some Extreme, Motley Crue, Scorpions, David Bowie, Jack White, and probably a dozen others! Good music is good music, doesn't matter the genre. Our audience gets that.

Among the songs on your self-titled EP, which go over the most among fans when you perform live? Can you tell me about the subject matter of those songs? Are the lyrics written in a manner that people can relate to?
Toby: “Machine” goes over very well every time we play it. The unmistakable groove and the sing along lyrics provide a great opportunity for the audience to sing along. It’s such a high to hear the crowd sing along to it. “Machine” describes the reliance on cell phones in our lives. We, as a society, commit seem to do anything without this little “machine” dictating everything we do.
Another song that goes over really well is “Aesteracae”. Its subject matter of good vs. evil and hook laden chorus really grabs the attention of the audience. When writing that song, we had been listening to early Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Dio and tasked ourselves to write in that vein. People hear the familiarity and love the song along chorus.

As “Scratch” sounds like a live setting, it leads into “Love Wrong”, which has a theatrical feel. The songs have a raw quality, with a grunge theme in “Asteraceae” and a Led Zeppelin vibe in “Machine”. 
Antonio: When tracking this album. I had been listening to a lot of pop albums such as Maroon 5 and Dua Lipa as well as Slipknot and Ghost. The thing that these artists have in common is their production qualities, very live and in your face. There is a certain clarity to recordings that I felt fit well in the direction these songs were headed.
This collection of songs were recorded live in the studio for the basic tracks. Everything in one giant room, playing together. Most tracks were 1 or 2 takes with overdubs tracked later. Overall, it was a fun experience and we’re really happy with the end result.

When it comes to publicity and distribution, how has Self Made Records been able to assist the band since you signed with them?
Rey: Self Made has been really helpful in providing us an opportunity to get our music to a larger audience through introduction to playlists as well as various publications. Eric has also been a valuable resource in navigating the ins and outs of this industry. With Self Made Records’ affiliation with Earache Records has allowed our music to be digitally distributed to various outlets. We believe that’s been advantageous to our music. Under the prestigious Earache Records label, there is a certain legitimacy to the music that we probably wouldn’t have without the support.

If you have had the opportunity to write any new material or new riffs, how would you imagine your next recording will sound like? Are you playing it by ear at this point? What kind of impact do you hope to have on music in general?
Antonio: The sound of new recordings are usually dictated by the sound of the first few rehearsals. What is the vibe we are setting? What music are we listening to at the time? What is inspiring the writing of these songs? It all depends on those very important factors that go into the DNA of the new batch of songs. For example, our new single, “Honest”, that’s coming out in a few weeks, is very much inspired by conversations held with people who know what type of person they are but put on a charade for everyone. Rey and I were listening to a lot of music from the band, Extreme, when the music was written. There is a certain swing to the song that is appealing to a lot of crowds at shows and the interplay between the guitar and the drums is very reminiscent of Extreme and Van Halen.

-Dave Wolff

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Full Length Review: Machine Head "Burn My Eyes" (Roadrunner Records) by Devin J. Meaney

Band: Machine Head
Location: Oakland, California
Country: USA
Genre: Groove/thrash metal
Full length: Burn My Eyes
Format: CD
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release date: June 1, 1994
Completely randomly my brain just screamed “Machine Head”! As it is my favorite Machine Head album, I instantly went to Youtube and searched up “Burn My Eyes”. This is the debut studio album from MH and IMO it is the hardest hitting. There are a handful of other albums from these guys that are just as good though—in their own way!
Every track on this album is solid gold but my favorite song would need to be the entry track “Davidian”. The line “let freedom ring with a shotgun blast” to date is one of the heaviest written lines that I can think of!
Even though “Burn My Eyes” is my favorite—I’d certainly suggest checking out the other releases from Machine Head. Even one of their least popular albums “The Burning Red” is enjoyable IMO. So that shows that even when Machine Head are not at their best, they are certainly far from the worst. I will also add that I have probably written about this album in the past—but as it is just that good—I figured it was time to speak of it again!
Conclusion—just listen to Machine Head! -Devin J. Meaney

Robb Flynn: Vocals, guitars, lyrics
Logan Mader: Guitars
Adam Duce: Bass, backing vocals
Chris Kontos: Drums

Track list:
1. Davidian
2. Old
3. A Thousand Lies
4. None but My Own
5. The Rage to Overcome
6. Death Church
7. A Nation on Fire
8. Blood for Blood
9. I'm Your God Now
10. Real Eyes Realize Real Lies
11. Block

Demo Review: Ultimate Disaster "Demo CS 2024" (Independent) by Devin J. Meaney

Band: Ultimate Disaster
Location: Richmond, Virginia
Country: USA
Genre: Dbeat, punk
Format: Cassette, digital
Label: Independent
Release date: January 7, 2024
Wanting to amp up my reviewing game (Dave from Asphyxium has been a bit of a writing mentor so I don’t want to catch myself slacking too much) I hit up Youtube. I was feeling like some punk—and after scrolling through a few demos I landed on “Demo CS 2024” by Ultimate Disaster!
This is some standard raw and crusty D-beat. With that said—it is put together very well. I feel as if the production would sound great on a cassette or a 7” vinyl or something. As I found it on Youtube digital streaming will have to do…but it’s pretty damn rad overall none the less!
This demo is just under 7 minutes long so it is a short listen. Even though I could have done with a bit “more” I will for sure settle for this brief blast of raw and emotionally cathartic revelry. I listen to so much music that it is hard to keep track of it all. Keeping this in mind if I hear more from these guys I will try to not scroll over it. Again—this is pretty standard. But sometimes “meat and potatoes” is what you need and a quick jab to the eardrums is sometimes exactly what the doctor calls for at the end of the day! -Devin J. Meaney

Track list:
1. Ruination
2. Eternal tomb
3. Madness despair
4. L.B.H.
5. Never ending slaughter

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Full Length Review: Bloedmaan "Castle Inside the Eclipse" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Dave Wolff

Band: Bloedmaan
Location: Flanders
Country: Belgium
Genre: Black metal
Full length: Castle Inside the Eclipse
Format: Digital album, digipack CD, standard black vinyl, opaque grey swirl vinyl
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Release date: December 15, 2023
The surreal cover art for "Castle Inside the Eclipse" was created by Ronarg (Antzaat, Ars Veneficium), who is also the creative force behind Bloedmaan. It promises to take the listener on a journey into a world where vampires are the dominant species and humans enter at their own peril.
A grey landscape with a dark castle set against a blood moon and a blood red sky surrounded by dark clouds came to life much as the cover art for Satyricon's "Dark Medieval Times" and Dimmu Borgir's "For All Tid" had when I listened to those albums. A distinct feeling of a prodigious novel, written from the perspective of vampires, is evoked due to the imposing quality of the musicianship and the cursed sensibility of the vocals.
Ronarg has been sharpening his black metal sensitivities since working on the 2014 debut EP by Ars Veneficium “The Abyss”. As a result of years of methodical writing, Bloedmaan's debut appears to be longer in the tooth as a portrayal of vampire myth and legend. For a six track recording "Castle Inside the Eclipse" is as subtle and complex as the folk beliefs of these emblematic creatures across the world.
In his songwriting, he displays a growing mastery of balancing wall-of-sound rhythm guitar progressions with tremolo lead guitar embellishments somewhat comparable to early recordings by Satyricon, Ancient and Gehenna, only with melody and dynamics designed to depict ancient vampire narratives.
This is Ronarg’s first project in which he handles bass and drums as well as guitars, vocals and songwriting; he gives his dual guitar approach loads of room for magnification with the amount of time changes each of the five songs are composed with. This approach doesn’t deviate, but neither does it become stale or predictable. His bass tracks do things additional justice with the depth they add.
Creating all the music, he creates the mood he was seeking to incorporate the lyrics he penned with gothic and Lovecraftian themes. In "The Night of Blood", he welcomes you to his world in a manner reminiscent of a movie made in the 2000s, "30 Days of Night". There is the same sense of disquietude and unease as the sun sets over the horizon.
In "Haunted Melancholic Obsessions", "Winged Flight Under the Pale Moon" and "The Hunter's Dream", we experience the passion that would accompany being turned, leaving mortal existence behind and becoming one of the undead. Feeling the hunger for blood awakening within you, and the intensity of your desires for the first time. But once you’ve crossed over into that world, there’s no turning back. You’ve become one of the undead minions you’ve read about through these songs, and this is what makes "Castle Inside the Eclipse" a satisfying release. –Dave Wolff

Ronarg: Vocals, all instruments

Track list:
1. The Night of Blood
2. Cursed Charms of Death
3. Haunted Melancholic Obsessions
4. Winged Flight Under the Pale Moon
5. The Hunter's Dream

Bloedmaan official site
Bloedmaan at Facebook

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Full Length Review: Green Day "Insomniac" (Reprise) by Devin J. Meaney

Band: Green Day
Country: USA
Genre: Punk, rock
Full length: Insomniac
Label: Reprise
Release date: October 10, 1995
It has been a long time since I really listened to Green Day. Don’t get me wrong—the odd time I hit up Youtube and listen to “Dookie”—mostly because it is a very nostalgic album for me as my cousin Jeff used to let me listen to his CD copy when I was a kid (He never did let me listen to NoFx’s “Pump up the Valium”).
On a weird topic for a music review my daughter is of the age where she has started dating. Her boyfriend is a big Green Day fan and while at the local Walmart I found a CD copy of “Insomniac” for ten dollars. Due to David’s inspiration I snagged the album and took it home.
I remember listening to Insomniac when I was younger, but it never was quite as home-hitting as “Dookie” for me. With that said, after listening to it again in my later years I can state that Insomniac is just as good of an album as “Dookie”—and one thing I can state is that I really dig the production. It is a short album, but it is just long enough to get the motors running!
Is Green Day my favorite band? No. But do I enjoy them? Yes. One might call me “faux punk” for writing this review but as an overweight 30 something man who lives with his mom and writes children’s books maybe “punk” isn’t the best way to describe me anyway. With that said, I’m still not a fan of the “newer” Green Day—that “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” crap just ain’t for me. There IS a lot of enjoyable Green Day though, with “Dookie” being my all time favorite followed by “Kerplunk”! and “Insomniac”. “Insomniac” is the main focus of this review though—so put your jaded notions aside and give it a solid listen!
P.S: I’m actually still punk as fawk. Just don’t tell my mother! -Devin J. Meaney

Billie Joe Armstrong: Vocals, guitar
Mike Dirnt: Bass, backing vocals
Tré Cool: Drums

Track list:
1. Armatage Shanks
2. Brat
3. Stuck with Me
4. Geek Stink Breath
5. No Pride
6. Bab's Uvula Who?
7. 86
8. Panic Song
9. Stuart and the Ave
10. Brain Stew
11. Jaded
12. Westbound Sign
13. Tight Wad Hill
14. Walking Contradiction

Monday, April 15, 2024

Film Review: Gods of the Deep (Dark Temple Motion Pictures, Ace Entertainment Films) by Devin J. Meaney

Gods of the Deep
Written and Directed by Charlie Steeds
With Derek Nelson, Makenna Guyler and Kane Surry
Executive Produced by Charley McDougall, Jamie McLeod-Ross and Peter Oxley
Released December 4, 2023 (USA)
Dark Temple Motion Pictures, Ace Entertainment Films
Distributed by Quiver Distribution (United States, 2024)
Not too long ago I watched the film “Gods of the Deep”. It was available on Tubi and the cover was appealing so I figured I would give it a go. At first it just appeared to be standard sci-fi but after a bit it changed to something that was creepy, weird, and leaning in the direction of psychological horror.
I will also mention that with a title like “Gods of the Deep” I assumed it would be Lovecraft inspired, and I can say that my assumptions were correct. Unlike a lot of Lovecraft stuff this did have a modern twist, even if not paired with a shockingly high budget (I’d call this “B list but well done”).
As for the vibe of the movie I’d say it was “enjoyable and eerie” but personally I think it could have had a better ending. As to why, I’ll leave that for you to decide as I don’t wish to ruin the movie. Overall though I’d watch this again if I was looking for something spooky to watch with friends, and even as a B list film (I do have a bit of a love and lenience for B movies) this was far from terrible, and again, well worth the watch! -Devin J. Meaney

Full Length Review: Infernal Angels "Shrine of Black Fire" (mmortal Frost Productions) by Dave Wolff

Band: Infernal Angels
Country: Italy
Genre: Raw, melodic black metal
Format: Jewel case CD, standard black vinyl, opaque white/black splatter vinyl, digital
Label: Immortal Frost Productions (Brazil)
Release date: November 24, 2023
"Shrine of Black Fire" is a manifestation of the personal Luciferian, Gnostic and chaos magic embodied in Infernal Angels' writings. I'm unfamiliar with their previously released albums, but this one resonates strongly with a hidden esoteric knowledge that becomes a part of the musicianship.
A solitary practitioner of dark magic and his coven invoke the powers of darkness in an overcast woodland far from civilization, manifesting something vibrant, dangerous, and flourishing. Even though you may have visited this woodland several times, the unspeakable wisdom and enlightenment that has been revived reveals there's much more to discover beyond.
As the novitiate of unseemly arts invokes an essence in a bodiless voice during the darkest hour of the night, without moonlight, in "Abyss Oath", you feel frigid winds breathing down your neck. In taking possession of those gathered, it offers sageness setting them apart from other mortals. "In the Silence of Tehom" depicts Lucifer as showing existence through his eyes as a result of the summoning.
By the fire, Lucifer and his minions become one as the power invoked in the ritual grows. There is much more to it than that but you'll need to refer to the lyrics for an explanation of the epic conclusion to the ritual. There is an excoriated sound accompanying this call, similar to old Satyricon, Gorgoroth, and Taake. The Norwegian influence is conveyed using the sacred, regal mannerisms of Italian metal.
Throughout, acidulous, high frequency guitar, vibrating, semi-melodic bass, and a maddened blast give way to moderately paced, primeval percussive designs and a sardonic atmosphere. Among these sounds are detailed dissonant passages and a variety of voices that represent the possessed cover morphing into one entity with the fallen angel. Despite parts of the album possessing familiar characteristics, they are constructed in a way that carries traditional tales of black wizardry and revolt against the heavens to their logical denouement. –Dave Wolff

Xes: Vocals
Nekroshadow: Guitars
Apsychos: Guitars
Asdraeth: Bass
Postmortem: Drums

Track list:
1. Abyss Oath (feat. Michael W. Ford & Sara Ballini)
2. In the Silence ov Tehom
3. The Horizon Eats the Sun and Other Stars
4. Fire as Breath
5. A Gateway to Purification
6. The Flame Burns Brighter in the Darkness
7. I am the Thoughtless Light
8. Shrine of Black Fire - Ablazing Serpent

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Full Length Review: Trenchwar "From The Earth To The Moon" (Sleaszy Rider Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Trenchwar
Location: Ankara
Country: Turkey
Genre: Thrash metal
Format: Digital album, CD
Label: Sleaszy Rider Records (Romania)
Release date: March 8, 2024
The surreal cover artwork of Trenchwar’s second full length “From The Earth To The Moon”, depicting a Baphomet like figure in a space suit, calls back to the proto-science fiction of the early twentieth century, with a mysterious theme of what to expect when journeying into space for the first time. In a way this fits considering how subtly they displays their myriad influences.
This is the band’s second album since 2020’s “Criminal Organizations” and there has been much evolution on their part since those days. At first I thought “From The Earth To The Moon” was conventional thrash, but as it grew on me I saw it’s a standalone album that shows Trenchwar as having an identity all their own. I discerned constituents of technical thrash, classic metal, brutal death metal, melodic death metal, hardcore and black metal vocals all rolled in an impenetrable package. This album has comparable song structure to old Metallica and enhances thrash’s roots in seventies rock. It contains the energy of a Testament show and buffets you like an Amon Amarth album.
Groove is written into the material with especial subtlety, accompanying stringent heaviness and dense production with streamlined vibrations. This technical skill is engrossing with little effort, giving the unceasing aggression and consistent time changes an instinctual ambiance. Trenchwar's songwriting provides as many melodic sections as shifts in velocity, with straightforward conveyance. The transfixing lead guitars are somewhere between the lead solos of Hank Sherman and Michael Denner (Mercyful Fate) and Eric and Brian Hoffman (old Deicide), resonating with an analgesic character.
Close attention is called to the inventive license the band took with their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” and their tri-tone sampling of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” in “In the Grip of Cult” which serves as a fitting album closer. -Dave Wolff

Harun Altun: Vocals
Tolga Otabatmaz: Guitars
Dağhan Erdoğan: Guitars
Gürdal Sönmez: Bass
Yiğit Aksoy: Drums

Track list:
1. Tax Corruption
2. From The Earth To The Moon
3. Shock Doctrine
4. Benevolent Businessmen
5. The Nailing Killer
6. Trash Not Thrash
7. Communication Breakdown
8. In The Grip Of Cult

[Contact information at Youtube link]

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Full Length Review: Juha Jyrkäs "Väinämöinen" (Earth and Sky Productions) by Dave Wolff

Artist: Juha Jyrkäs
Location: Helinski
Country: Finland
Genre: Kantele folk metal
Full Length: Väinämöinen
Format: Digital album, CD, limited edition digipak CD
Label: Earth and Sky Productions
Release date: February 29, 2024
With kantele, bass kantele, strings and traditional instruments, Juha Jyrkäs' debut album “Sydämeni kuusipuulle” raised the question of whether it was metal, folk metal, pagan metal, or something far more worldly. Exploring previously unexplored territory, the album's extensive background in Finnish mythology, nature mysticism, and occultism placed it in league with any of these subjects. He appears to widen his perspective with the release of his second full-length “Väinämöinen”.
In the 90s, Viking metal bands such as Enslaved and Borknagar touched upon a musical expanse as vast as their unconventional guitar scales and chord progressions. Most of the pagan elements incorporated into the songs were surreptitious, but revealed elements that could go far beyond the irreverent themes of bands that preceded them. Throughout the evolution of extreme metal, those constituents became equally important to defining a band's sound as the traditional instruments were.
“Väinämöinen” adheres to the substance inaugurated into metal by bands like the ones I mentioned (as well as by bands like In Extremo). The shades of folk and Viking metal have become more prominent than before. The variety is expanding exponentially with massive advancements in innovation. With numerous variations on the kantele and the percussion, the songs personalize the mythical Finnish demigod Väinämöinen, and the lyrics are written in Kalevala-metre, a traditional Finnish meter.
There is more distinction between metal and folk, which refines the increased nuances on this album. Riffs written with bass kantele, along with guitar solos in “Äidinmaan puolustus” and  “Metallikantele” and bass kantele solos in songs like “Syntysanat” and “Jo veri jokena juoksi”, Jyrkäs embellishes the material with more variety, maintaining a harmonic, cohesive feel. The contrast between harsh and melodic vocals heightens the album’s dramatic nature to the extent of a film soundtrack.
Building upon what was a relatively simplistic songwriting technique in the 90s, he has taken it to new imaginative heights. –Dave Wolff

Juha Jyrkäs: Vocals, bass kantele, percussion
Olga Kolari: Keyboards, concert kantele,15 stringed kantele, 16 stringed kantele, copper stringed kantele, viola, violin, jouhikko, concert harp
Janne Väätäinen: Drums
Henry Kolari: Soundscapes
Antti Röksä: Guitar solos
[More information at the Bandcamp link to “Väinämöinen” above]

Track list:
1. Voima nousee
2. Syntysanat
3. Jo veri jokena juoksi
4. Helkatulet
5. Ukkosloitsu
6. Äidinmaan puolustus
7. Kultapyärä
8. Metallikantele

Monday, April 1, 2024

Full Length Review: Suffering "Symphonies: Diabolis" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Suffering
Country: England
Genre: Black doom metal
Format: Cassette (limited to 22 copies), digital
Label: Independent
Release date: March 29, 2024
Suffering have honed their ability to create a dichotomy between fantasy and reality since their 2017 full-length debut "11". While that album conveyed a sense of forbidden ritual with LaVeyan overtones, "Symphonies: Diabolis" feels like a manifestation of the reality summoned by those rituals after being long hidden from human view.
Throughout the material, the prophetic theme inspired by "The Omen" is a promise of something much more sinister to come, made all the more unnerving by the dialogue and the contrast between age-old scenery and the modern world. This transition from Suffering's first album to their latest appears to have been a long and meticulous process, undertaken with infinite patience that is now bearing fruit.
My impressions of the music recorded for this album: A quote from "The Omen" introduces the death march emerging with "Ave Satani". The repetitive rawness of "Symphonies: Diabolis" establishes the mood of the album by heralding an apocalyptic event already occurring. This track and the following ones take the listener on a journey through the wasteland, showing nothing but devastation up close and personal, with light having vanished and nothing but allegiance to darkness remaining.
As I envisioned eldritch horrors coming to life and slowly taking over the contemporary world for "11", I made comparisons to John Carpenter's film "In The Mouth Of Madness". The merging of normal and macabre also gives the songs a similar feeling to the second chapter of Carpenter's apocalypse trilogy, "Prince of Darkness", with possessed humans lurking everywhere you turn.
With gritty, caustic production, unvarnished, discordant guitars, vibrating bass, barbarous drumbeats, and vocals that threaten to break your sanity, the repetitive nature of the songs pushes the album toward a mechanically mind numbing plateau, until you finally appear to be one with the minions of the underworld preparing to bring Old Scratch himself from the shadows into our midst.
With two additional live tracks, you can’t go wrong with this release if you’re into raw, primeval black/doom metal with heavy occult connotations. –Dave Wolff

Aýdlig: Guitars
Inquinatus: Bass
Malleus: Drums

Track list:
1. Ave Satani
2. A Semen Stained Letter To The Devil
3. Deceit: A Sheep In Wolf's Clothing
4. Danse Macabre
5. Nácht: Das Kinde Tod
6. Fire, War, Death!
7. Releasing The 11 (Live)
8. Cloven Hoof (Live)