Category Archives: Reviews

Devildom

Review: Devildom – Curse of Flesh

Founded in 2012 and initially intended to indulge the band members’ love for emotional black metal, post-metal and depressive rock, Ukrainian act Devildom has since become its own monster. Releasing their debut album “Curse of Flesh” in January, they look set to take things up another level with their absorbing, genre-straddling release.

“Curse of Flesh” examines the eternal cycle of life and death by way of chugging riffs, tender interludes, atmospheric soundscapes and an impressive array of vocal deliveries.

Curse of Flesh

Atmosphere on “Curse of Flesh” is built meticulously and carefully in each of its eight tracks, with amazing attention to detail. You get pulled along on the crest of this dark and emotional wave as the songs build and fall. It really is very clever and an intense and brilliant listening experience.

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WoT

Review: War of Thrones – Conflict in Creation

Shades of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden with their self-titled debut LP, and Helloween are abound on this album, which is a throwback to the ’80s Metal that started it all. War of Thrones started some six years ago, and features heavy metal veterans Wade Black on vocals, Rick Renstrom on guitar, Rich Marks on bass, and Jason Marks on drums. Their debut album Conflict in Creation does a perfect job in enveloping that one-of-a-kind feeling that one can only get from the true Heavy Metal of old days. While the influences (of which there are many) are certainly audible within the structures of each and every track, War of Thrones manage to keep their listeners engaged throughout the record by doing what they do right.

Conflict in Creation

Conflict in Creation is rich in its falsetto rebel yells and guitar-driven anthems. In fact, the album is primarily guitar-heavy — a route rarely taken in the world of Metal today. This is a big part of what gives it success in its attempts to recapture the sound that existed exclusively in the early to mid-80s, when Heavy Metal was truly coming into its own as a genre.

From track one (“Ascending”) we get a clear picture of exactly where War of Thrones is planning on taking us: the very bowels of the bleak and dark universe where Heavy Metal saw its birth. Guitars switching tirelessly between rhythm and lead excerpts, 1980s style vocals, driving percussion, and those deep, rolling bass lines that define Heavy Metal. The lyrics are perfectly dark, and that mood is reflected in the music with little effort. The second song on the record, “Creation”, kicks up the pace with its relentless drumming and angst-ridden picking, reminding those of us who are older of those long lost days of yore where our school books were adorned with brown paper bag covers that were literally covered in the names and logos of our favourite bands and slogans oh, so long ago.

Conflict in Creation delivers this emotion throughout its entirety without fail, evoking images of long hair drenched in Aqua Net hairspray, black leather chokers, and all the things that helped shape Heavy Metal as both an image and a sound. As the album winds down with its final track, “Descending”, I am confronted by the one and only gripe I could possibly have with this record — wishing that it were just a bit longer. Regardless of its length, however, I do realize that this wonderful recording from War of Thrones is an essential when it comes to those feel-good albums that have that special something that takes one back to their own youth, giving that carefree feeling back to them that is all too often forgotten and ignored in the dull regularity that is our adulthood.

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AM

Review: Deus Omega – In Absentia of Light

As if Progressive Metal met Extreme Metal forms for lunch and the two later casually partook in rough coitus, Sydney-based Deus Omega make some heavy, heavy music. Call it progressive metal or even an incredibly atmospheric derivative of death metal, the act’s new record, In Absentia of Light is an oppressive sea of fury, and it resonates with me in a way few bands of its style manage to do. The songwriting may be solid and the production some of the best I’ve seen in metal, but it’s the ubiquitous atmosphere that has this album screaming ‘masterpiece’.

Deus Omega - In Absentia of Light

Too many bands in metal ultimately sound indistinguishable from one another, and it is a bleak statement. True enough, Deus Omega’s aka Alex Moore’s resistance from this heavy metal clone complex pays off. Although the project’s dark brand of tech metal can still find itself associated with a number of prescribed genres, In Absentia of Light feels like a natural collision of influences from across the spectrum, from black and doom metal to modern and extreme variant of prog.

As a whole In Absentia of Light relies on a sickening atmosphere of rage and fear. Although Deus Omega sticks exclusively to guitars, drums, and bass, the music sounds vast. After the short introduction “Star of Morning,” “Carved from Flesh” introduces the sinister mood that pervades the majority of the album. By the cornerstone “This Black Soul,” Deus Omega has developed its riff energy into a dense fury complete with burstfire picking. All the while, Moore layers his music with atonal atmospheric guitars. This project’s style will certainly draw a number of comparisons with other bands, but Deus Omega combines the elements and make the sound truly its own.

Although it’s not the biggest reason why In Absentia of Light has stood out to me so much, it’s worth mentioning that Deus Omega enjoys some of the richest, most organic production I have heard on a metal record for quite some time. Perhaps it’s the heavy presence of the bass guitar, but Deus Omega finds an incredible balance between a live ‘raw’ energy, and a clear mix between instruments. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Deus Omega channels its atmosphere-laden heaviness through such an organic studio execution. Those willing to set the time aside to fairly digest the atmosphere will find an incredible world to explore with In Absentia of Light, one governed by anger and chaos. I give my highest recommendation.

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Kicking Nerve

Review: Kicking Nerve – Bipolar

Kicking Nerve from Athens, Greece put their best foot forward with their debut album “Bipolar,” an utterly relentless eleven-song set that keeps listeners on their toes from start to finish. Seamlessly blending visceral breakdowns and hardcore-isms, the four-piece take some unexpected but powerful detours in a number of the songs here.

Kicking Nerve - Bipolar

Although the album opener “Injured” serves as a forecast for a slam-centric record with its brooding two-step beats and chugs, Kicking Nerve shift gears almost immediately, dropping into “Not Dead Yet” and “Extremes” with bouncing riffs that effortlessly dip in and out of swings and blasts. Further flexing their technical prowess on songs like the pace-shifting “Circle of Hate,” the band finds inventive ways to remain engaging. This, in addition to the production sheen and perfectly balanced mix elevates the set to a level reached by very few of their peers.

Kicking Nerve run the risk of sounding scattered by deciding not to sit in one sonic space for too long and incorporating numerous metallic influences into their work, but on “Bipolar,” it only ever comes across as calculated, not to mention razor-sharp.

Stream the album on Bandcamp, and follow Kicking Nerve on Facebook.

23 Acez

Review: 23 Acez – Embracing the Madness

Brilliant is not enough to describe the third outing from Belgium’s 23 Acez. From the first ripping atmospherics of “Re:” to the eerie closing moments of “Freefall,” the energies of Embracing the Madness will grasp you and not let go. As with their first two albums, 2011’s Crossroads and 2015’s Redemption Waves, 23 Acez has again chosen to take the concept album route.

Dark and heavy, every note, chord and vocal intonation are well planned and executed, with unforgettable results.

23 Acez - Embracing the Madness

Although singer’s unique sound alternates between rasp and crystal clear, his delivery on every track is passionate beyond doubt. Tom Tas provides outstanding guitar work. Rhythm section of Mundez (bass) and Louis van der Linden (drums) provide an often complex backdrop, which fits perfectly. Rarely does a disc come around that is as powerful as this.

Embracing the Madness is easily an early treat in these introductory months of 2018. How well will it fare — let’s find out. The album is available from iTunes.

band 2

EP Review: Vikrit – The King in Exile

It’s not every day that one hears a modern day metal band produce an album that truly challenges the stereotypical sound that may be expected from contemporary metal acts. Enter Vikrit — Ranchi in Jharkand, India based metal heads who recently dropped out their debut EP. I’ve spent the last four days immersed in the experience that is The King in Exile and I can’t seem to stop listening to this incredibly versatile and talented group of musicians and this gem they’ve produced.

The King in Exile

Being active since 2010, Vikrit’s sound is a uniquely balanced mixture of Progressive Metal, Ambient, Metalcore, Djent, yet the seamless integration with which the band has brought these together is a testament to their musicianship and skill.

So let’s get down to brass tax – this EP is not for the faint hearted. Tracks like the opening Age of Despair and Drowning in my Sins, fire on all cylinders; blisteringly hard hitting drumming coupled with flawlessly executed guitar riffs and bass lines to match not to mention the quintessential growl that has mosh pits swirling in unison. It’s what comes next that makes Vikrit’s sound theirs and theirs alone.

The album holds additional treasures such as Time Machine and The Dark Crusader, both of which have a relatively greater degree of Progressive Metal evident in their composition.

I can go on for hours about this release but the bottom line is that Vikrit have absolutely nailed on The King in Exile with their song writing, virtuosity and execution. Do yourself a favour and get the EP.

Kharva

Review: Kharva – Demo

Death metal is an unwavering staple in the heavy metal world. It’s punishing and unforgiving. Sweden’s Kharva, with their recently released demo, are here to carry the death metal flag well into the future for the genre. Their brand of metal is raw, fast and razor sharp. I hear influences ranging from Bolt Thrower to Death.

Kharva (demo cover art)

“Present Tense” opens up the demo in grand fashion. Jacob Forsberg’s vocals are guttural and straight from the depths of hell. The song is mid-tempo at first, then breaks into a galloping death feast. “Markedness” has a Bay Area thrash feel to it, like early Exodus. The mid-section slows a bit and delivers the massive riff of the song. “Unstable Genius” picks the pace right back up to a frenzied gallop. It’s death metal proper and reminds me of Obituary. The title track keeps the same frenzied pace, and drummer Charlie Agne really exhibits his chops here. He’s a crushing drummer, no matter the tempo! “Cheers Jeff” injects a bit more depth with some melodic guitars in the beginning, and then the beatings begin.

Kharva have a killer death metal demo with this one. It rings of the old school of the genre. It’s up to them now to hit the studio again and deliver on an official release.

Anthems

In Focus: Anthems – Consciousness

Czech melodic hardcore ensemble Anthems set out to pack lots of energy in their 2017’s album, “Consciousness”. The record blurs the lines between the old school and the new, with some truly cinematic melodies and some deep, explosive guitar walls. After the short instrumental intro, the introductory guitar riff “Empty Thoughts” is clean and drenched in reverb, reminding me of post-rock. The contrast between the vocals and the music reminds me of bands such as The Chariot or Underoath, while, the song later explodes with dense, heavy and powerful grooves.

One of the most striking aspects of this record is definitely the complex arrangement and the way it merges with some emotionally introspective lyrics, blurring the lines between genres as diverse as melodic hardcore, post-rock and metalcore. I am really impressed with the overall production quality and by the earnest performance of these talented lads.

Stream the album below, download it from Bandcamp and follow Anthems on Facebook.

Anthems - Conscousness

Arutam 666 - Arutam

Review: Arutam 666 – Arutam

With a shockingly tight performance and a handful of evil anthems, Ecuadorians Arutam 666 managed to craft a death metal beast with their debut EP titled Arutam.

The riffs on Arutam are actually memorable, with insane blastbeat drums and an uncanny sense of timing guiding the songs as they charge through one by one. “The End of the Beginning” may be one of the best death metal songs written in 2018 (though I wish the production is thicker and bigger), taking all of these elements to their natural extreme and crafting an ugly epic. “Arutam” is a speed-happy chunk of blasphemy that borders on black metal, while “Lost on the Other Side, Part I” is another gem that survives on the creative riffing.

Arutam 666 crafted one truly great EP in the death metal genre; it’s time to come up with a full-length.

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