All posts by Alec Vanthournout

Descent Into Maelstrom

DESCENT INTO MAELSTROM Define Dodecaphonic Metal with “Iconoclasm”

Today, in a time that a great number of bands prefer to not try to create something new, there are some courageous ones that don’t stay in the same way of the others, but try to be different, and to expand limits. The Italian five-piece DESCENT INTO MAELSTROM is here to defy your musical conceptions and to spread chaos with “Iconoclasm”. We can label their work as easy as it seems. In mere words, we can say that it’s like all creative power of Death/Black Metal masters of BEHEMOTH became more Progressive and dissonant. The broken tempos and instrumental tunes defy the conceptions of many. The more you hear the album, the more you have the clear idea that this trio is up to create their own Metal way.

Iconoclasm

The sound quality of “Iconoclasm” is made of contrasts. It sounds heavy and aggressive as their music needs, showing excellent modern and heavy tunes, but with everything sounding comprehensible to our senses. To make this with this band is not an easy task.

And let me tell you: the Apocalypse has just begun! The brutal and technical “Saturn” (very good rhythmic changes), the oppressive “The Grim” with its bitter slow parts, the aggressive charm of “Shade of the Night” (great dissonant guitars), the weird musical atmosphere that permeates “Forgotten Wisdom”, the darkened harmonies of “The Misanthrope”, and the chaotic nightmare of broken tempos and changes of “The Portal of the Elsewhere” (very good guttural grunts with harsh screams) are their best shots, besides the entire album is very good.

“Iconoclasm” is a great album, and maybe it’s bringing a new era in Metal.

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Monolith

Review: Monolith – Daddy Plague

Monolith is a German death metal project by multi-instrumentalist Mario Welke accompanied with various other influences. The project is about to release its debut album Daddy Plague.

Daddy Plague

Daddy Plague features some impressive death metal riffs and brutal vocals, which manage to catch the listener’s attention from the beginning! Although the record is not the typical ‘raw’ death metal one, the vocals and the drums (from time to time) give us that raw atmosphere. The guitars, on the other hand, are quite brutal and show us the diverse and melodic side of the album. In this sense, the record is brutal but also melodic and catchy; I am sure that the listeners will want to hear the record again and again to hear a certain guitar riff, brutal vocals or the crushing drums. A highlight in the atmospheric elements; this aspect made the record much more fascinating and even a bit diverse in my opinion.

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Hybridism

EP Review: Hybridism – Hybridism

Debut releases are incredibly important for many reasons. It’s a risk for any label to release a debut album. It’s important for the band to nail their sound and deliver a product that will blow the minds of those whom listen to it. It’s also the first time people will be hearing the band for the first time and this is the sound they will remember. Fortunately, Hybridism’s self-titled debut EP is something that will benefit the band, more importantly the listener.

Hybridism-Hybridism

The four-piece from Belgium give us a technical, instrumental progressive metal sound that you will fall in love with. Incorporating an atmospheric sound within this fine tuned metal outing gives Hybridism a highly enjoyable and unique sound, making this a fun and over the top brutal listening experience.

Hybridism performs with ultra precise musicianship and technicality, these guys should be the front runners for your prog metal/djent needs in 2019. Guitars, bass and drum kicks are synchronized with triplets mixed in during the hectic technical riffing. Something is always going 200 mph on this record. The attention to detail and execution of the guitar playing is phenomenal. The guitar tone itself is incredibly heavy and audible. Bass tone is low and thick and it accentuates the guitar playing even more. Giving the overall theme and vibe of the EP a rich powerful sound. Song writing is exciting and powerful, giving off a long lasting appeal that will have me listening to it for a long long time.

Recommended songs of the EP are opening “Nova,” “Animal Has Led Us,” and “Anomalies.” The songs I didn’t mention are great as well but these few stand out with how effective and heavy the song writing is. Crunchy, deadly and psychotic. I love this release.

Grab the EP from Bandcamp. Follow Hybridism on Facebook and Instagram.

Scythian Fate

Review: Scythian Fate – Matrimony in Madness

I’ve been listening to Scythian Fate’s debut album “Matrimony in Madness” for close to two weeks now, and only now do I feel qualified to analyse and review it, such is the depth of the music on offer here. Even after countless listens, sometimes something new jumps out. At first it may seem like a very difficult listen, but if you persevere, you’ll come to realise it’s nothing short of spectacular. Big call when it’s the debut album from a relatively unknown band from a country that always has something on display.

What this album has that sets it apart from the majority of ‘brutal’ and ‘technical’ progressive metal these days is the atmosphere it conjures up. This is a bleak, vitriolic and ugly album, with a brilliantly dark atmosphere, something which is often missing from death metal these days. Scythian Fate may have the technique and musicianship, but it’s not the primary focus here. The brooding riffs, the hard-edged, suffocating production, acidic vocals, compelling guitar solos and crushing drum barrage combine to produce a sound that’s like no other band.

Speaking of the riffs, there is some amazing guitar work here. Tom Kotsonis and Nino Morano definitely give a performance they can be proud of. It’s not particularly flashy, but it will get stuck in your head. There are a lot of riffs on this album, the songs are very linear and don’t repeat passages very often. You won’t get bored in a hurry. The tend to mix up, harsh, dissonant patterns with passages of eerie dark melodies, the tranquil moments provide a good contrast to the fury that tends to be unleashed shortly after. The best example of this can already be heard in “Crimson Snow” and “Balkan Ghosts,” but there are other less obvious instances all the way through the album. Toby Heal’s vocal performance is nothing short of outstanding. His frenzied howls are the perfect compliment to the savagery of the drumming (which is programmed) and guitar work, and convey a real sense of hatred and anger. He does mix it up too with more typical growls and lower pitches, but in pair with cleans, his voice is a killer combo.

If you are tired of the amount of sterile, clinical technical metal bands and are looking for something with a killer dark atmosphere, full of real passion, how death metal should be, then give Scythian Fate a listen. It may take a while to appreciate, but I guarantee if you stick with it you will not be disappointed.

Scythian Fate - Matrimony in DarknessGet the album from Bandcamp.

Kalika

Review: Kalika – Data Religion

It could be said that Maastricht’s Kalika is one of the rare bands on today’s rock scene that bring such a fruitful mixture of progressive/experimental rock and dark, psychedelic rock. They don’t limit themselves to any confines in their music. While they are very technical people who can play with precision this doesn’t mean that the band goes and tosses around excessively long instrumental sections just to keep reminding the listener of their skill. Data Religion is the sophomore EP from the band, and it is a record that needs time in order to be fully comprehended. There are styles and musical circumstance that get explored on this release only.

Kalika - Data Religion

Backing somewhat dark themes and overtones is Prannay Sastry’s emotional and sorrowful voice which provides the ideal vehicle to deliver the words. When he sings about this mentally daunting matter, you believe the man. Another one of Kalika’s strengths is their ability to have complex songs that still manage to be under five minutes long. This allows choruses to become hooks, and don’t rely on uber skilled technique to impress. Like stated earlier, the experimental aspects of the music are well above par.

“Data Religion” is a great early release from a band that is still to say a lot.

Follow Kalika on Facebook.

Tales of the Bugaboo

Review: Tales of the Bugaboo – Eating Children Disorder

I’ve been listening to this album for close to two weeks now, and only now do I feel qualified to analyse and review it, such is the depth of the music on offer here. Even after countless listens, sometimes something new jumps out. At first it may seem like a very difficult listen, but if you persevere, you’ll come to realize it’s nothing short of spectacular. Big call when it’s the debut album from a relatively unknown band from a country that always has something on display.

Eating Children Disorder

What this album has that sets it apart from the majority of ‘melodic’ and ‘technical’ death metal these days is the atmosphere it conjures up. “Eating Children Disorder” is a bleak, vitriolic and ugly album, with a brilliantly dark atmosphere, something which is often missing from death metal these days. Tales of the Bugaboo may have the technique and musicianship, but it’s not the primary focus here. The brooding riffs, the hard-edged, suffocating production, acidic vocals, compelling guitar solos and crushing drum barrage combine to produce a sound that’s like no other band.

Speaking of the riffs, there is some amazing guitar work here. It’s not particularly flashy, but it will get stuck in your head. There are a lot of riffs on this album, the songs are very linear and don’t repeat passages very often. You won’t get bored in a hurry. The tend to mix up, harsh, dissonant patterns with passages of eerie dark melodies, the tranquil moments provide a good contrast to the fury that tends to be unleashed shortly after. Backing up the guitar work is a stellar drum performance. Riki’s drumming is technical, interesting, not to mention fast as fuck! He doesn’t blast a whole lot, but tends to use furious double kick and awesome cymbal work to create immense walls of sound. His cymbal work tends to complement the riffs a lot, following the same patterns, it’s a technique I’ve not heard all that often and one I’ve grown to enjoy. Naza’s vocal performance is nothing short of outstanding. His frenzied howls are the perfect compliment to the savagery of the drumming and guitar work, and convey a real sense of hatred and anger, something that ridiculous gutturals and pig squeals can never do. He does mix it up too with more typical growls and lower pitches, but in pair with cleans, his voice is a killer combo. Freaky Fred’s bass playing is lively and precise, he is audible and easy-to-notice.

If you are tired of the amount of sterile, clinical technical metal bands and are looking for something with a killer dark atmosphere, full of real passion, how prog death metal should be, then give Tales of the Bugaboo a listen. It may take a while to appreciate, but I guarantee if you stick with it you will not be disappointed.

Asymmetric Universe - Band

Review: Asymmetric Universe – When Reality Disarticulates

Like the supercollider, Asymmetric Universe seek to smash two dissimilar things together and see what the results are. Naturally, and experiment by mad scientists and composers coming from the home of La Vecchia Signora (google it!) to combine jazz fusion and metal into one would of course create some explosive outcomes. Not to mention some pretty phenomenal musical pieces.

“When Reality Disarticulates” is a debut EP by Asymmetric Universe, and it’s here now and ready to take you to unparalleled heights. Look to the skies: that is where the trio is going to take you.

For a totally instrumental release, this thing is four tracks of expansive, experimental and wholly gripping fusion music. Take EP opener “Trees Houses Hills” for a fine example: starting off so minimally, guitars and cymbals meekly registering their presence in the room before their flamboyance bounds forth from them with a burst of self-confidence.

When Reality Disarticulates

If there is one enduring thing to take away from listening to this release, it’s that experimentation is the key to success: be it “Hermeneutic Shock’s” flowing, flying musical escapology, “Off the Beaten Track” Holdsworthian chemistry, or “The Clouds Passing By’s” otherworldly, ethereal ambience leading to space explorations. Everything on show here is made to play with the musical form and to evoke a response from your mind. And Asymmetric Universe’s music is what makes you want to explore.

My pick would have to be the third piece “Off the Beaten Track,” clocking in at some six and a half minutes. It’s frantic, for one thing: everyone is really laying down some serious licks on this, striving for the very best in their playing abilities and pulling it off with aplomb. Masterful work and a treasure for any fan of the indefinable yet oddly marvelous.

To say what Asymmetric Universe have done is prog is inaccurate; to say that it is metal is too vague. Rather, they have thrown into “When Reality Disarticulates” all their passions, excitements and inspirations and cooked up something that is beyond compare. This is music without boundaries, without barricades and without limits.

The EP is available from Bandcamp. Follow Asymmetric Universe on Facebook and Instagram.

Emanuele Bodo (band)

Album Review: Emanuele Bodo – Unsafe Places

The Italian guitarist and composer Emanıuele Bodo delivers a stunning guitar performance on his instrumental debut album “Unsafe Places”—an effort that sees the musician going as the album suggest to unsafe places, exploring fay beyond the progressive fusion genre. Although Bodo is most prominent on the record, the musician has gathered a full line-up featuring Carlo Ferri on bass, Davide Cristofoli on keyboards, and Mattia Garimanno on drums, who shine nothing less than the guitarist throughout the seven track release.

Emanuele Bodo - Unsafe Places

Even when Bodo is in the lead through various guitar solos, the rest of the band definitely are not shadow lurkers, but rather a constitutional part of “Unsafe Places.” I do like the fact that Bodo is keeping the album finely balanced between all instruments.

The jazz fusion / progressive metal combo is appealing and gets the juices flowing, especially when done as effectively as this. “Unsafe Places” is a surprisingly good debut by Emanuele Bodo, who obviously has what it takes in terms of chops and creativity. Let’s hope he keeps doing what he’s been doing.

Grab a copy of “Unsafe Places” from Bandcamp here, and follow Bodo on Facebook.

Whiteside's Daughter

Album Review: Whiteside’s Daughter – The Life You Save

Whiteside’s Daughter is a new name on the worldwide progressive rock scene. The trio based in Jackson, Mississippi have just released their debut, concept album The Life You Save about “James, the gay son of an Alabama Pentecostal preacher, who in high school rebels and falls in with John, his ex-Baptist atheist classmate and guitarist for a high school death metal band called Village Witch.”

The core trio featuring Stephen Poff on vocals, Brian Hughley on drums, and Steve Deaton on guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals, collaborated with a number of guest musicians to create blends elements of melancholy, the spirit of Scandinavian metal, Southern Rock and British progressive rock. All of this is true; throughout this record there is surely an omnipresent feeling of melancholy, which is mostly carried by the vocal harmonies and a variety of keyboards-related stuff.

The Life You Save is divided into two long suites (or Acts as the band refers to them). Each of these two acts includes interludes and full-fledged pieces of music that tell the story.

The main instrument on this record is the guitar, played masterfully by Deaton. The sound of guitar is well-rounded, the riffs are melodic and heavy, guitar solos are executed flawlessly. The interplay between guitars and vocals is another highlight. The term “virtuosity” has been a synonym for progressive rock for a while, but this release is focused on melody over the technicality.

With The Life You Save Whiteside’s Daughter hint that they have the knowledge and potential to make something good. At least, this record is far from being categorized as a “hobby album,” it surely needs to be listened and is not one of those “skip-over” releases. Give this album a chance and let the music speak to your heart, rather than your brain!

In The Fire

Review: In The Fire – Volatile Beings

So-called prolific artists, at least within the scope of heavy metal, tend to fall into the dime-a-dozen category, often releasing large bodies of work but with very little actual quality to be found within. This requires a lot of legwork and listening to mediocre-to-outright boring music just to find something worth its time. As with any rule, however, there are exceptions. And Philly’s blackened death metal savants In The Fire are a shining example of such an exception. There is a certain level of quality consistent throughout the band debut full-length release Volatile Beings that makes exploring it an engaging experience and not a chore in the slightest.

In The Fire - Volatile Beings

Without warning, “Feral” flings its serrated hooks from the darkness and drags its victim deep into its twisted world of terror. Instantly noticeable on this journey through hells unknown is the almost ridiculously modern production. Rather than relying on haphazard production to add character to the music, the production is domineered with sadomasochistic control. Sterility is often a negative term, but in this case it’s the sterility of a surgical scalpel, gleaming in the florescent lights of the morgue as the first cut glides through cold flesh, opening the abyss that pulls its prey into the guts. The tremolo riffs swirl around the churning, steady pacing of the drums in a doom-laden groove before opening up into all-out death metal fury. The leads aren’t so much leads as they are controlled noise, screeching and wailing their way over the seemingly bottomless maw of low end. Ryan Moll’s (vocals, guitars, bass, keys) obsession with control is apparent here as well, as on repeat listens it becomes quite evident that there is method to the racket; the cries of feedback are crafted into subtle yet memorable hooks.

The leads aren’t always as noisy, but they do play a large part in creating the atmosphere that is so key to Volatile Beings. On “The Devil in the Mirror” there are moments of haunting, spaced out arpeggios that lie beneath the thunderous riffing like shadows in the dark. There’s an almost epic feel at play here as In The Fire do indeed feel like it’s rising above the weak, feeble masses in a display of the complete and total power of an unearthly monstrosity. The rhythm section, completed with Patrick Battaglia on drums, bulges with might, locking into the groove like the inescapable constraint of an anaconda the size of an oil pipeline.

The onslaught doesn’t relent until the opening passage on “Into Battle” that ends with an unexpected, almost melodeath riff at the end, making for a refreshing take. The instrumental title track lurks its way in, building and pulsing before dropping into a lurking bit of doom as it coils before striking out with sinister precision. In The Fire layer on plenty of effects and production tricks that drip like virulent venom over the body of the beast, continuing its merciless assault of riffing. “Techno-Sociopathic De-Evolution” fully harnesses control of the melodic riffs, this time striking straight for the kill like a cunning predator who will not make the same mistake twice.

Needless to say, In The Fire’s Volatile Beings only strengthens the confidence to be had in the band’s ability to deliver. Ryan Moll simply understands extreme metal, and has a way of adapting the core of a style and distinctly making it his own. Not only does Volatile Beings shine as an instant highlight, but among the neverending slew of death metal at large as well.

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