Category Archives: Reviews

Peter Royburger (Devcord)

Album Review: Devcord – Dysthymia

Devcord is a progressive death metal project from Austria, founded by composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Royburger. September 1st, 2018 brought the release of a debut album Dysthymia.

Many of Devcord‘s songs here enter incredibly melodic acoustic passages and give the listener a break from the huge metal riffs that pound eardrums. Royburger screams intense, powerful metal growls and still shows his ability to sing clean, beautiful vocals when needed. 

Devcord - Dysthymia

As far as the death metal section of the Devcord formula goes, the riffing is original, powerful, and tight. Often, the bass will follow the guitar riff if it isn’t a chordal riff. Lead guitar parts harmonize and create an extremely evil and dissonant aura about them. The harmonizations are mixed much better and often sit on top of the guitar riff, not heard unless the listener tries to find them. Typically, Devcord allows the riff to be heard by itself for a few repetitions with the lead guitar soloing before Royburger enters with his powerful metal growling. When it is time for a full out guitar solo, he lets all hell break loose. He covers the entire fretboard and plays tastefully. Unlike so many metal guitarists, Royburger knows how to make an enjoyable solo rather than playing as many notes as possible within 3 seconds. They usually extend the color tones (3rd, 7th, 9th, etc) of the chords and create jazzy melodies, or as close to a jazzy melody that a death metal band can get.

The melodic acoustic side of Devcord is in some ways better than their metal sound. The guitar patterns, again, are the instrumental theme, but the bass often creates a hidden countermelody with the guitar. Peter sings beautifully, and if Devcord produced an album entirely made of these dark, brooding acoustic passages, he would never be expected to be able to scream, let alone scream well. His tone is dark, warm, and round, like the perfect euphonium. The chord progressions are often dissonant and dark. 

Putting these two formulas together creates a full, epic release that sets the stage for the follow up and breakthrough album. Each song on Dysthymia comes with a new energy and aura about them. Song formats never follow anything typical, and listening for the first time is often mind-blowing because of the unexpected climaxes, transitions, and virtuosity in every second of the album. 

Dysthymia has a potential to put Devcord in the direction of becoming one of the greatest metal projects in the coming years. My recommendation would be to treat the album as a single unit, under which circumstances it plays best, although individual songs can be satisfying. Each time I listen there is something new to discover — all in all, a story worth rereading.

Stream Devord‘s Dysthymia here, and follow the project on Facebook.

Wayward Dawn

Album Review: Wayward Dawn – Soil Organic Matter

Soil Organic Matter is the second full-length release from Denmark-based band Wayward Dawn, providing ten tracks of uncompromising and very much 100% death metal.

From opener ”Requiescat in Pace” to closer “Thy Name Is…,” this outfit plies the listener with agonised strains which develop into gruelling yet melodic heaps. Imagine a thicker, denser mixture of Lamb of God and Bloodbath in those thrashier segments as each track builds with suspense to become a hammering tool of brutality where you’re force fed those vocal gargles and accessibly yet gnarly structures.

Soil Organic Matter

As one would expect, there’s very much a groove death metal feel throughout. The vocals range from snarling rasps to deep, guttural coughs. And there’s a great variation of pace too, the title cut being a prime example of the band and their flexibility as they race with haste and aggression, melodiously carving grating strands of death / thrash and coating them with those sickly vocal smears.

Soil Organic Matter is a solid effort throughout, although the flavour isn’t necessarily old-school; at times there’s more of a mid-to-late 90s style of gushing death metal.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

YouTube

Abhiruk Patowary

Album Review: GAIA – Aerial

Everyone can agree that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new talent in today’s modern metal scene. In recent years, there has been a huge rise in the number of so called ‘metalcore’ bands (half the time I think that people are misinformed as to what metalcore actually), with bands left, right and center ripping one another off, bringing nothing new or exciting to the table.

However, India based metalcore project GAIA are far removed from the trends that plague the current metal scene. The band, founded by multi-instrumentalist Abhiruk Patowary, is about to self-release debut album “Aerial” on September 20th. The best way to describe their sound would be something that fits in between the style popularized by bands such as Periphery and TesseracT with a mix of melodic passages. The fusion of hardcore and metal is quite astounding; the amount of talent these guys possess is utterly ludicrous at points, leaving listeners wondering what the hell just happened (and possibly whether the band can pull it off live; in answer to that, yes – they bloody well can).

Each of the ten tracks present on this disc showcase the immense talent and songwriting skills Patowary and the company. The guitars especially are very interesting; album opener “Aerial” is a rollercoaster of technical riffage and crazy time signatures. The drumming at first seems to follow no logical pattern but after one has become accustomed to this style of technical metal, the effects are astounding. The bass is also heard quite well – the lines do stick to the guitars quite a bit but at this pace and level of technicality, it is still downright impressive.

GAIA - Aerial

There is a strong metalcore influence throughout the album but don’t let it deter you. Breakdowns are present but most definitely are not in abundance.

Overall, the band’s debut album is nothing short of phenomenal. Every one of the ten tracks is excellent. The metalcore scene may be plagued by some ridiculously poor acts, but acts such as GAIA demonstrate that the scene is far from bad. A definite recommendation to any fan of technical metal, hardcore or metalcore.

Stay in touch with GAIA via Facebook.

Sinnrs

Review: Sinnrs – Profound

In some ways many metal listeners have divided opinions when the topic is “black metal.” Most of them find it raw or pretentious, but there are some that adore every melody that could come out of a black metal song. Sinnrs, a Danish symphonic black metal duo of Nero and Maestus, is just like a problem solver at this point. This band’s versatility lies in combining epicness of the pagan take on the black metal genre and folk, heavy, doom, and symphonic metal elements, wrapped with a touch of prog.

Sinnrs - Profound

Their debut album, “Profound,” is specific to the mentioned genres. Very epic, at times softened by great high pitched clean vocals, you can also find a fair dose of doom metal. Lyrically the album has its own dark side either.

There is a similarity between with the known doom bands such as Candlemass, While Heaven Wept, maybe a little of Solitude Aeternus and there is a smell of Void of Silence in the vocals. In some parts you find similarity with Moonspell and a little bit of early Amorphis. As all these bands are far from black metal, and that is what makes Sinnrs different. A must-listen album of the year right here.

Enceladus

Review: Enceladus – Arrival

Prog/Power metallers from Texas, Enceladus, have been around for a few years, and they have recently returned with their second album “Arrival.” Why the hell didn’t I know about them earlier? Now, thanks to the PR wire, I got a promo copy of the album which is a real t(h)reat.

The style that Enceladus plays is pretty standard, comparing somewhat with more traditionalist 80s metal throwbacks, yet they manage to sound different and fresh when compared with a lot of the other bands that attempt to play in this particular style.

Soikkam’s vocals are gravely and rough, standing at the very center of the counter-tenor wails of Rob Halford and the husky baritone of Blaze Bailey. During the choruses of such catchy anthems as “Distant Land” and “Blueprint” the vocal work almost punches past the rest of the arrangement. While he doesn’t soar into the higher stratosphere too often in the manner that most in the genre do, he more than compensates with sheer power.

Enceladus - Arrival

Although the voice alone gives this album a heavy yet melodic edge, the entire arrangement pounds the sonic threshold of the listener into submission. Whether its faster songs like or down tempo stomping machines, there is a consistent picture of a mighty fist slamming itself down on a stone table and commanding your undivided attention. Balancing out the simple yet aggressive riffs and backing instruments are flashy leads of guitarist Geo Roessler.

“Arrival” is a powerful statement from a band that is hungry to show what their abilities are, and according to this they have much more to offer. Grab this record, you’ll not regret.

Links:

Bandcamp

enceladusband.com

Second To Sun

Review: Second To Sun – The Black

Well, this is quite impressive. “The Black” is the second album from post/black metallers Second To Sun and it’s a stunning piece of work filled with lush soundscapes and bleak moods, but also darkness.

Second to Sun - The Black“The Black” is an ambitious piece, with lots of intricate ideas and approaches woven into the music, and it’s a very rewarding listen as a result. It seems like on every listen, there’s another little element that you pick up on because there’s so many layers to Second To Sun’s sound. It’s just so atmospheric and well-constructed, and it really draws you in as it progresses.

A good element of the album is that there’s certain  groove riffs and ideas that span over the entire length of the album, really helping the piece to worm its way into your head, and there’s just so many good songs to contend with.

All in all, “The Black” is a pretty solid release. Second To Sun have really made it count with this album, and it is memorable for all the right reasons.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

Instagram

Remark

Review: Remark – Keep Running

There’s really no reason to fault Moscow alt rockers Remark for wanting to ride the flannel-clad ‘90s bandwagon. It’s certainly a nostalgic commodity as of late, sure, but the five-piece execute those thick layers of guitar with the least conceit or egotism. Instead of marring their production with slight shoegaze elements, they keep their crisp arrangements muted and poised, letting the songs surge and sway with a more reflective and thoughtful tone.

Keep Running

Remark don’t really rage, either — two author tracks on the band’s new EP “Keep Running,” ‘Comeback’ and ‘Purple Haze’ come close to disrupting the album’s overall mud-tempo chug, while singer Yanas airs his grievances with a tuneful voice instead of falling into any aggro dramatics. But it never happens — “Keep Running” sternly approaches its dreary mood with just a dash of atmospheric distortion, letting its sepia-toned gloom flourish with a controlled tension. It’s grunge for a new generation, though you get a sense these guys would see that as a compliment.

Links:

remarkband.com

Instagram

Facebook

DID

Review: DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder

Here is an excellent album from the debutants on the progressive rock scene: a French group DID put out their debut full-length release entitled “Dissociative Identity Disorder” in November last year, a concept record which in the band’s own words tells “the story of a man.” DID, in its core, operates as a quartet featuring Regis Bravi on drums, Didier Thery on bass, Patric Jobard on acoustic and electric guitars, and Christophe Houssin on keyboards. They are joined by a number of guest vocalists who helped them to tell the story. These include Michael Sadler of Saga, Marco Glühmann of Sylvan, Oliver Philipps of Everon, Alan Szukics of Opium Baby, and Maggy Luyten (Ayreon, Nightmare).

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Allow me to truly begin by stating that many instrumental sections on “Dissociative Identity Disorder” are dazzling and intriguing and that the instrumental portion of the album is incredibly well-arranged. Talented solos and arrangements from the band members are easily the album’s highlights with tracks like “The Sun” and “Lock Up” presenting themselves as easy standouts.

The performances here are exceptional, both instrumentally and vocally, and sound natural despite the host of guests at band’s disposal. Diehard prog fans will relish the back-to-back synth solos.

With “Dissociative Identity Disorder,” DID has put attention on themselves as a group to look forward to within the progressive rock scene. While not necessarily groundbreaking, it’s exceptionally refined given how big its ambitions are, and it boasts some impressive production values. If nothing else, DID offer a work that balances instrumental and vocal performances more equally than on some of the releases of the similar orientation. It also manages to have just the right amount of camp and compelling drama, making it perhaps the most intriguing prog releases of 2018.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

FG

Review: Forest God – Back to the Forest

Forest God is a relatively new project coming from Aalborg in Denmark who recently release a new EP entitled Back to the Forest. The project is led by composer Peter Kiel Jørgensen, who is joined by a number of guest musicians throughout the record.

Back to the Forest requires careful listening in order to be fully appreciated. It is definitely not the kind of stuff you can put on as a soundtrack for other activities – complex music, full of twists and turns, yet not unnecessarily complicated, or weird for weirdness’ sake. In fact, the music has a beautiful, natural flow, a clarity and melodic quality. Even though guitars make up a prominent part of the sound, they never get to the point of overwhelming the other instruments. As in most experimental music, however, the foundation of  the EP’s sound lies in the rhythm section, especially in the jaw-dropping drumming patterns provided by Martin Haumann (Myrkur).

Head-spinningly complex without being cold and sterile as other efforts in a similar vein, Back to the Forest can easily be listed as one of the top releases of 2018. In fact, the sterling musicianship, coupled with an admirable sense of restraint, focuses on creating cohesive, highly listenable tracks rather than pointless displays of technical skill.

Links:

Facebook