Category Archives: Reviews

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Review: Lunar – Theogony

Sacramento’s Progressive Death Metal newcomers, Lunar, delivered a debut album “Theogony” in November via Divebomb Records. Where listening to this might have you perusing your music collection afterwards for more of the same. The album itself is a satisfying and worthwhile addition to any playlist. Submit to the awesome and let these youngsters’ killing fields slay your senses.

Theogony

Fans of the tried and tested Opeth-influenced sound will find familiar themes to their liking, executed with finesse, while ripping your own speaker cabs a new hole. “Theogony” is definitely no flower show. Contained within this carefully planned victory bed is a clamor of exotic screams and rumbling drumwork, placed within carnivorous riffage. All of these factors groove within thunderous foundations that lure you deeper with every hook as the album progresses.

The journey through “Theogony” is saturated with unholy light that makes monstrous solos and cacophonous riffs appear to further seduce those dangerous enough to approach its ominous perimeter. Uncompromising and intense Lunar promise a dark and intangible odyssey through their song titles, making good on pledge with the entrancingly moribund peaks that excite the imagination while their gallant stride captures your body and entices you to windmill.

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Barry Weinberg

Review: Barry Weinberg – Samsarana

Samsarana, the debut album credited to the name of South Florida-based composer Barry Weinberg, is an early treat of 2018. Samsarana is one of those rare musical efforts that manage to sound like very little else. With derivative acts a dime a dozen on the current music scene, listening to such an album can be an exhilarating experience.

Unabashedly eclectic, Samsarana can be described as a ‘protest album’, and with very good reason. However, it is first and foremost a collection of inspired, thought-provoking compositions performed by a talented musician. When such talent is assembled and put together, the results may often be a tad underwhelming – especially when musicians forget that they are at the service of the music, and not the other way round.

Barry Weinberg - Samsarana Thankfully, this is not the case with Samsarana. The impressive cohesion between all the instruments involved results in fifteen tracks that display a remarkably original approach, even when external influences can be detected. While listening to the album for the first time, the closest comparison that came into my mind was with the sound encompassing everything from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s. In contrast with the majority of prog albums released in the past years, Samsarana is based on relatively short compositions — and, indeed, half of the tracks are songs with a more or less ‘conventional’ verse-chorus-verse structure. The album might even be seen as a lesson on how to produce music that does not rely on 30-minute epics or convoluted concept stories in order to be progressive.

A masterful blend of mainstream sensibilities, socially-aware lyrics, intriguing atmospheres and stunning instrumental and vocal performances, this is a unique album that is warmly recommended to progressive music fans.

Samsarana is out on January 25th; pre-order the album here.

Gökböri

Review: Gökböri – Erlik

As much as I have attempted to explore it, I cannot say that I have been able to decipher — much less appreciate — the trend of thrash metal. There have certainly been bands in the style that I have greatly enjoyed, but as a whole, I cannot understand its fixation with speed and soloing over what I perceive to be musicality, not to mention the fact that so many of the bands seem content to mirror the existing sounds of the style. On that note, I see a world of potential when the aggression of thrash is melded with more progressive sensibilities. Voivod pulled it off beautifully, and now Gökböri is taking these genres and going somewhere interesting with it. True enough, Gökböri’s second album “Erlik” is not revolutionizing the sounds of the genre by any degree, but the band’s greater depth in their composition makes them one of the best bands on the current scene.

Gökböri - Erlik

From the album artwork alone, I get the feeling that Gökböri is taking after more classic thrash outfits. The music generally follows suit with this, although there is certainly a drawn influence from the more straightforward acts like Slayer and Exodus. The music is fast and furious for the most part, relying on riffs that immerse themselves in technical finesse as well as a rawer aggression that I sense often in the style. Balancing this out though is a dynamic, not only from heaviness to softer moments, but also in tempo. Often, the band will go from a blistering foray of furious soloing and likeminded rhythms, and then break down into something more atmospheric and doomy. The fast parts are admittedly fairly generic from an instrumental standpoint, but the fact that these compositions are given more than one-gear speed is enough to make Gökböri stand apart from most in my books.

Gökböri’s “Erlik” is a very good album, taking the best parts of thrash metal and making an album that is both intelligent and a hell of a lot of fun.

The Image You Claim

Review: The Image You Claim – Painted Visions

Ventura County, California’s The Image You Claim debuted in October with a full-length titled Painted Visions.

Painted Visions is a slow burner, sounding good on its first listen but unfolding into its full potential on the second or third play. Launching with Medusa – an epic introduction with a bit atmospheric tone – The Image You Claim immediately introduce their duality: combining chugging technical metal with dark, prophetic vocals one moment and angst ridden screams the next. This dichotomy of sound continues as the swirling opening of Demented leads into a song that captures the band’s more melodic side before Divine Unkind.

The Image You Claim - Painted Visions

As the album continues echoes of other tech icons, including Devin Townsend, Meshuggah and Periphery, surface but the band balance this range of influences with skill to create a sound that is all their own. The music is technical but not clinical with songs constructed out of riffs, solos and breakdowns that are more than just fancy guitar work and confusing time signatures. There are a good handful of catchy hooks with heart too, especially towards the latter half of the release.

The Image You Claim is a band who are forming a legacy and this is the album that will start them on their journey.

The album is available here.

The Stone

Review: The Stone – Teatar Apsurda

With their eighth full length release, The Stone presents you with what seems to be a pretty straight forward approach to black metal. While that certainly is true, the true devilish magic of Teatar Apsurda is what lies beneath the surface. Beyond the sinister sounds of blasting black metal, you are also provided with a hypnotic, enchanting and overall haunting atmosphere and overall sound that is hair raising and skin crawling. Each of the seven tracks that are presented on this record are ominous, damning and highly atmospheric.

THE STONE - Teatar Apsurda - Front Cover

As mentioned, at first glance, Teatar Apsurda certainly doesn’t seem to be a record that amounts to all that much but in fact it does. Teatar Apsurda is quite a lengthy record as it contains seven (lengthy) tracks of nothing but soul darkening tracks that shroud you in a poisonous and dank fog. As mentioned above, this record certainly does have a certain hypnotic quality about it but that effect doesn’t seem to completely take a hold of you until you get a little deeper into the album.

The atmosphere that swirls through this release is ritualistic, cold, grim, twisted and all together trance like. As noted, it takes The Stone some time for them to completely pull you in to their dark and dismal atmosphere, but once they do you sit in a catatonic state listening never wanting to leave your dread filled state of mind. The longer that you listen, you end up getting pulled in deeper and deeper into the ever growing, never ending darkness that The Stone provides for you.

Other than the bitter atmosphere, you are presented with sharpened riffs and pounding drumming that is paired with diverse vocals that transition between wicked screams and often used chanting vocals. With everything combined from the haunting, soul possessing atmosphere, to the swirling wall of black metallic noise, you are presented with a dark and foreboding record that ultimately is a great listen.

Overall, Teatar Apsurda is a solid release to say the least. This is a lengthy, cohesive and well crafted record that provides you with more than your fair share of death and despair.

Order from Mizantropeon Records.

Sickle of Dust - Between the Worlds

Review: Sickle of Dust – Between the Worlds

Right from the start, Sickle of Dust successfully manages to avoid being pegged under just one genre. On the one-man band’s debut album, Between the Worlds, Ash displays the essences of black metal, folk metal, doom metal, and even post-rock and progressive metal. The style here draws from numerous influences and the most prominent one would be the extremely raw sound of black metal. While it may not be true black metal, the production and Ash’s vocals are undeniably reminiscent of the genre. Ranging from Ash’s eerie shrieks as well as the emotional guitar tones, Between the Worlds serves as a beast of its own and it represents the peak of fall season and the beginning of winter truly well with its overall depressing mood.

“They Follow the Sun” happens to be the album’s lengthy epic and what an unbelievable impression this track leaves. It assures the listener that most of the experience is going to be filled with the melancholy and despair of the dying leaves at the height of fall season as the mesmerizing, punchy guitar work immediately sucks anyone into its vortex. Once the track takes off, it never lets up in terms of the enjoyment department. It thoroughly delivers with charismatic guitar riffs and Ash’s voice.

Even as this behemoth of a track comes to its inevitable end, the album still never manages to lose its luster.Album closer “The Place that Doesn’t Exist” brings the album to a close quite nicely. The wavy tempo changes prove to be impressive and the folky leanings shine through here nicely.

To further enhance the gloomy vibe the band tried to convey, Ash injected plentiful slower moments to emotionally take things down a few notches. Thanks to the many somber guitar tones, he accomplishes this with grace and finesse.

All in all, Between the Worlds exists as a debut that truly soars. The album really captures the mood of sorrow and melancholy quite well due to the sheer thoughts of fall and the beginning of winter in mind. The project’s poetic vision, guitar work, and vocals is where the enjoyment of Between the Worlds truly lays.

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Fabrizio La Piana

Review: Fabrizio La Piana – Almond and Coffee

In an era where shredding and playing-as-fast-as-you-possibly-can for no apparent reason have become a norm, it was a pleasure to listen to a guitar being nurtured as the beautiful classic musical instrument that it is.

Almond and Coffee is the first solo effort from guitarist Fabrizio La Piana. It features seven original songs, all of them composed by Piana, with bassist Bernhard Hollinger and drummer Niels Voskuil forming the core of this trio providing more than just a solid foundation.

The hauntingly clever and melodic piece entitled “Funky Song” kicks off La Piana’s stylish offering. Soft and intelligent guitar progressions lead in to the scintillating chops, courtesy of Voskuil. As is the case through the majority of Almond and Coffee, La Piana’s compositions and arrangements are precise and well designed.

From the delicate and sultry “Almond and Coffee” to the subdued yet jazzy “Pulice,” La Piana displays a fine and nuanced touch that I alluded to at the outset.

“50-50” rivals “Rokin” for being my favorite song in this set. Hollinger and Voskuil shine along with La Piana on this latter slow burn. This tune is a great example of staying nifty all up and down the line without rushing.

La Piana’s approach is cemented in patience and thoughtfulness. The pacing and tempo comfortably allows time to breathe and absorb the subtleties and distinctions that are well crafted in this stellar debut.

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The Earth And I

Review: The Earth and I – The Candleman

The Earth and I is a progressive metal band hailing from New York, and earlier this month the band put out their debut album titled “The Candleman.”

The album contains strong blasting riffs, which are otherwise inherently catchy and actually suit the vocalists incredibly well. They are bludgeoning when paired with vicious growls of Nick Petromilli (also on bass) and Daniel Siew (on guitar), and cleans by lead singer Kendyle Wolven. Wolven simply has such an intense level of passion and energy, like she pours his heart and soul into the music. The best example of this can be heard throughout the album, but as highlights I would mentioned “CGMTC (Life in the Sunset Zone),” “Little Frames” and “Sugar High.”

The Candleman The masterful use of the heavy verse/melodic chorus style of songwriting makes this album incredibly varied. “The Candleman” is all about balance of heaviness and melody. The instrumentation on the album is brought to perfection, and although the band’s technical skills are easy to notice, the band members work in favor of displaying a balance between masterful craftsmanship and performance.

“The Candleman” is one of those albums that is just as good the first time you listen to it as it is the fiftieth. It’s one of those rare cases where it never gets old, yet it doesn’t take any time to grow on you. Whether you’re a seasoned metal listener or someone who is just discovering heavy music, this album will appeal to you in some way or another. It’s incredibly technical and precise in its execution, yet it allows enough melody in to keep it from sounding like a typical instrumental wankfest.

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Perihelion Ship

Review: Perihelion Ship – To Paint a Bird of Fire

A work of breathtaking creative breadth, “To Paint a Bird of Fire” keeps with Perihelion Ship’s tradition by transcending the limits of death/black metal and repeatedly shattering the foundations of conventional songwriting, to boot. Rarely does a band manage to break new ground without losing touch with its roots, but these Finns do exactly that with their sophomore release.

But the biggest difference between “To Paint a Bird of Fire” and the group’s debut “A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring” (2016) lies in the remarkably high songwriting standards achieved by main man Andreas Hammer.

To Paint a Bird of Fire

“To Paint a Bird of Fire” is divided not so much into songs as “movements.” Tracks start and finish in seemingly arbitrary fashion, usually traversing ample musical terrain, including acoustic guitar and solo piano passages, ambient soundscapes, stoner rock grooves, and Hammond-filled melodies — any of which are subject to savage punctuations of death metal fury at any given moment. Likewise, Hammer’s vocals run the gamut from bowel-churning grunts to melodies of chilling beauty — depending on each movement section’s mood. With all this in mind, singling out specific highlights is pretty much a futile exercise; but for the benefit of first-time listeners, why not start out with the colossal opener “New Sun,” the Mellotron-driven “The Sad Mountain,” the surprisingly gentle acoustic instrumental of “River’s Three,” and, finally, the all-encompassing closing “New Sun?”

Then, with patience (Perihelion Ship’s music is everything but immediate), the rest of the album’s grand scheme will be revealed. “To Paint a Bird of Fire” is surely the band’s coming-of-age album, and therefore, an ideal introduction to their work. This is a band to keep under your radar.

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