Category Archives: Reviews

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Review: I Shall Devour – The Misanthropist

Sometimes it takes a seemingly unrelated source to explain why an album is so damn good, and that’s certainly the case with I Shall Devour’s debut full-length, The Misanthropist. This record is the death metal album by a newcomer to beat in 2013, at least in the sub-genre’s more technical and venturesome sphere. Admittedly, that might seem debatable, especially as Illuminance, the latest release from similarly adventurous death metallers Virvum, is a masterful display of technical finesse and ferocity. However, there’s a very good reason why I Shall Devour’s album edges ahead, and the reason is provided by the world of evolutionary biology.

It’s not surprising that a scientific theory could help explain why The Misanthropist is such a commanding album, and why I Shall Devour is such a fascinating band; after all, you could write a doctoral thesis on this band’s complex musicality.

Based in Brisbane, Australia, I Shall Devour has been able to craft music isolated from the main branch of death metal. That’s not to say Australia lacks other death metal bands. However, Australia’s geographic remoteness, and the nation’s idiosyncratic and driven creative culture, has allowed I Shall Devour to bring something fresh and unorthodox to the death metal underground. The band has developed a truly distinctive voice, one that was first heard by the majority of the international death metal community on 2013’s Manipunation. That EP certainly put I Shall Devour on the map, but it was a mere appetizer compared with what’s served on The Misanthropist. Both these releases are unquestionably intense and impressive displays of technicality and originality, seeing I Shall Devour garner increasingly more attention and acclaim in the global metal scene.

I Shall Devour has continually refined its sound over the years, bringing more artful sculpturing to its downtuned dissonance, and setting that against a backdrop of often kind of experimental textures. The band’s work has evolved to become steadily more nerve-shredding and formidable, with the usual riff-based shreds of death metal mutilated into a seething and polychromatic canvas of avant-garde atmospherics.

The crushingly heavy technicality on the eleven-song release will either be wholly attractive and hypnotic, or simply bewildering. There are no doubt a few metal fans who appreciate where I Shall Devour are heading in theory, but are left scratching their heads trying to find an entry point into the band’s works. The cryptic and claustrophobic vortex of The Misanthropist won’t make that quandary any easier, and if you felt I Shall Devour’s sonic template was a maelstrom of inaccessibility before, nothing has changed in that regard.

Still, challenging music is the point here, and if there’s one thing I Shall Devour demands, it’s full commitment to its releases. Guitars provide deluges of malformed riffs and piercing notes plucked from the depths of the cosmos. The slow hypothermic intro of “Wilful Ignorance”, and mid-album instrumental “Interlude,” show how effective and chilling the band can be when pared down to bare industrial bones. However, it’s the multifaceted and atmospheric turbulence of “VI” and “Spiteful Nature” that exhibit the band’s prowess at splicing anti-harmonic insanity with maestro dexterity, to hammer the inhospitably home.

The Misanthropist is a challenging album, and also electrifying. It’s unconventional, and it transforms death metal into something transfixing and novel. It certainly fits into the wider ordo of death metal, resides in the familia of technical death metal, and you could rightly situate it in the genus of progressive technical death metal too. Still, it’s the species that’s most interesting. There’s imaginative (and murderous) musicality here that would easily occupy space in the avant-garde metal realms. Ultimately, the fact that it’s necessary to debate how to best to describe I Shall Devour proves just how innovative is the band’s approach to death metal.

The Misanthropist is a forward-thinking album to savor over time. Repeated listening reveals more layers and buried detail, and there’s abundant wrathful dynamics and density to luxuriate in.

That’s why The Misanthropist is one of the very best death metal albums you’ll hear in 2016.

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Review: KYROS – Vox Humana

The very notion of a double album should be enough to make most people giggle a little bit. There are implications of ‘concept album’ and insinuations of ‘prog-rock’ involved in that notion. Neither of these things are not cool, but they encompass exactly what “Vox Humana” is, and exactly what Kyros do.

After the release of a stunning debut album under the name Synaesthesia in 2014, which was thought-provoking as it was sonically mesmerising, the London, UK quintet have slowly been recognised as a rising force within their field of modern progressive rock, and rightly so.

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The focus of the band’s attention has shifted somewhat, and although the debut was somewhat concept record, “Vox Humana” is a piece of work that is entirely based on the story that deals with meaning of being human.

Throughout of the album’s 15-track repertoire, you get epic arrangements brought to perfection which are refined through a pleasant pop filter. “Vox Humana” intersperses jangled guitars with angular complexities that might fly over some heads – repeat listens are deserved. The songs are organised so intricately that all the nuances and difficulties that might have gone into recording such an extraordinary album are totally lost in its beauty.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, sit songs which will shower the listener with jagged shards of heavy pounding; jagged shards that will bypass your vital organs and instead embed themselves within the deeper, darker echelons of your mind. Some of this album is simply unforgettable.

Kyros really do lead by example: with “Vox Humana” acting as a fantastic example of how to take inspiration from all the sub-standard facets of day-to-day goings on to create a stunning collection of songs, they’ve proved that not everything in modern life is rubbish.

“Vox Humana” is available for pre-order here. Follow Kyros on Facebook here.

Xeno

Review: Xeno – Atlas Construct

Xeno is a melodic death metal band from the Netherlands. The band came together in 2012, and they released their debut album this past summer titled “Atlas Construct.” A promising piece, with various different elements blended together. It could be easily said that “Atlas Construct” forces the limits of the melodic death metal genre. Different nuances all around give the record its uniqueness.

No matter of it being classified as melodic death metal, “Atlas Construct” collects lots of elements that are coming from other genres such as symphonic and progressive metal. Because of that, the record gives almost a theatrical vibe. All that is wrapped up with prog metal riffs and structure.

Xeno - Atlas Construct

“Atlas Construct” has eight songs in total. The first track is a symphonic intro which actually hints on what awaits ahead. Until the sixth track, each song comes as quite steady melodic death metal piece with many visits to the prog metal camp. With “Construct Part II: Columns Of Creation” the sound eases a little bit, branching out towards more down-to-the-ground vibes. Well-thought melodic lines on “Atlas” definitely single out this piece as one of the highlights.

Melodic, progressive, heavy and cinematic — that is how I would described this debut effort by Xeno. Highly recommended.

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nomadic

Review: Nomadic – Horror

Nomadic is an American black/death metal accompanied with various other influences. The band has released their debut EP record Horror in April.

Horror features some impressive death metal riffs and brutal vocals, which manages 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.

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A highlight in the atmospheric elements; this aspect made the record much more fascinating and even a bit diverse in my opinion. I even thought to myself that the band could have gone a bit further with the atmospheric approach by using more synths or orchestral elements.

Horror marks the great start for the band. I am looking forward to what Nomadic will come up with in the future. If you have a chance to see them live, don’t miss it!

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Review: Given Free Rein – In-Ear Trip

For many new bands, the desire to sound like another more successful band is strong enough to keep them from walking their own path and creating something truly unique. However for Greece-based rockers Given Free Rein, walking their own path is the only obvious road they know. Releasing their inspired, progressive and anthem filled debut full-length titled In-Ear Trip, Given Free Rein is wasting no time with a powerful delivery.

Since every song on this album is worth listening to, I will highlight a few of the very notables that you must listen to as soon as you can; starting with the opening “Magnetic Fields.” This song has an intro for the books. The vocals and lyrics are emotionally charged with both honesty and vulnerability, and for many, this is going to become their instant favorite track from the album.

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Another powerful track is the anthem-like title track. This song is less punk, but there are some heavier vocals woven within that help add an edge to an otherwise soft ballad of a song. Everyone on this song plays from the heart, from the vocals to the guitars to the drums, every instrument is played loud and aggressively, and the vocals are made more haunting because of this. A great track through and through.

“Day In The Dark” is a bit ambient, a bit psychedelia; it doesn’t take long to sink its awesome teeth in to the listener. The breaks in the tempo and layering of the tracks are exciting, and by the end of the song you simply hit repeat and turn it up.

Every song on In-Ear Trip is well thought out, well played, and well mixed. Every song stands alone on its own, and the vocals are never the same as before. The diversity and inspiration placed within this album should show many new artists how it is supposed to be done if you want to turn some heads. I wouldn’t waste any time picking up this album if you want something new and worthwhile to listen to.

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Review: Azmaroth – Death Crowned King

Looking at the album art of a debut album from Norwegian metal outfit Azmaroth you would think that it has something to do with European Power Metal. But, that’s not the case. With “Death Crowned King,” this Oslo-based quintet serves a melodeath release that is both crushing and catchy.

Azmaroth play hook-oriented melodic death metal in the vein of commercial era In Flames with nods to Dark Tranquility and Soilwork. They also veer into a groove territory now and again. Big guitar-based hooks pop up like, and vocals that alternate between screams and growls is the biggest highlights of this record.

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While individual songs fare generally well, the album as a whole shows that Azmaroth know exactly what direction they’d like to head in. That said, there’s good material throughout Death Crowned King and Azmaroth definitely know their way around some sharp hooks. The production of the album definitely deserves to be paised.

Death Crowned King is entertaining but more importantly a focused release, making for an overall interesting ride through melo-death’s Swedish district.

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Album Review: Glory of the Supervenient – S/T

There are times in every music lover’s life where a record’s concept, ambition, and execution is understood and loved immediately. Not just by the heart and how it makes you feel but on an intellectual level as well. These moments are when one truly appreciates an artist’s creation. Glory of the Supervenient has all the essential ingredients to conjure up this feeling in anyone who listens to it with no fluff added.

More focused than the meandering nature of Trioscapes and more immediate than the sometimes glacial pace of TesseracT, Glory of the Supervenient has the project, led by composer and drummer Andrea Bruzzone, striking a balance seldom can attain, much less in the realm of progressive jazz/fusion. The sheer number of ideas as to where to go and what to do with the medium has resulted in many albums either going too far with the wall of noise or holding back too much in fear of doing so. Glory of the Supervenient doesn’t experiment with the plethora of soundscapes and instruments available to those subscribing to the jazz/fusion moniker but instead chooses to hone its more contemporary musicianship to a razor sheen. Every instrument is clearly differentiated and contributes to the different cascades of mood every song portrays. The guitars in particular showcase a perfect mix of distorted riffage and technical fret play which play through and off each other artfully. The noodling all has a clear focus in each song, and never seems to just fill space. In fact, the entirety of the record gives a definite sense of progression, carrying the listener from one section to the next seamlessly and gives off a welcome cohesiveness.

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At the heart of Glory of the Supervenient is its concept, which is that of stripping away the superfluous qualities of emotion, situation, and inspiration and leaving behind only its essence. This is the “concept” in terms of following certain vibe and structures, and perfectly describes the band’s direction with the absence of a variety of instruments and the sharp focus of the songs. That is not to say Glory of the Supervenient drags on at any point, in fact the pacing is beautifully crafted. Musically, the record achieves everything it was made to do.

Glory of the Supervenient may be a new kid in the block, but they bestow upon the masses a genre-defining album, displaying a marvellous blend of experimentation, songwriting expertise (not using that word lightly), and the feeling of plain rocking. The strange juxtaposition of using a concept of stripped-down instrumentation, conveying feeling and moods at their most basic level using a framework as frequently ostentatious and gaudy as progressive jazz-fusion is not lost on this reviewer and the fact that it’s pulled off so well by one man only releasing a debut album is quite a feat. Those who want thrills without frills in their music cannot go wrong by giving this a listen.

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Review: Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side – Pathfinder

Jonas Lindberg has been active with his project Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side for a few years now. On September 1st, this seven-piece group from Sweden’s capital Stockholm released their full-length debut titled “Pathfinder.”

The album is placed deep into the amotspheric, melodic side of progressive rock with influences from the ‘70s, the ‘80s and some contemporary ones. The band adds plethora experimental, pop-rock, and ambient elements to their music. They will surely bring some of the big progressive rock bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s on your mind that is not a bad thing at all.

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One can feel that Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side play it safe, and that in the end their music is not “forward thinking” or “progressive.” But that’s because the group as an entity is an apt craftsman, and they know how well to make a song sounds catchy, but still complex enough. There are tons of great moments on the album that contribute to the final outcome, which brings nostalgia and innovation together. This prog rock music is easy to digest, but hard to predict

The musicianship is very strong and the production is warm. “Pathfinder” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is more than a decent album. There is a lot to explore here, and it’s waiting for you.

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Make Way For Man

EP Review: Make Way For Man – Evolve & Repair

One of the most striking aspects of this debut EP from Make Way For Man is a rather majestic flow, which takes a run of six songs and turns them into something with much grander allusions. Taken at surface level you may think that there is not an awful lot of new going on, but taken as a full on narrative, a whole new world opens up.

Evolve & Repair starts with a gallop with the self-titled song which is full of rolling vistas of bass and drum rolls, and portentous riffs. Full on metal with one foot in prog and the other in djent, Make Way For Man have done their homework and know what makes each sub-genre tick. By the time the inevitable whinny of a horse leads into a clatter of hooves on second song “We Will Surely Drown,” all reservations have been cast to the wind and you will be fully on board.

Make Way For Man - Evolve & Repair

The great thing about Evolve & Repair is that the quality level not only stays the same, but actually rises up a notch and on arguably the best song here, “The Other Side of Fear,” they move on to another level as the pace slows down, but the music gets heavier. Following this with two last pieces on the record “If You’re Going Through Hell Keep Going” (instrumental) and “The End is Up to Me” serve to make an unbeatable part of the record that more than matches anything else released in 2016 so far.

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Tilted Axes

Review: Tilted Axes – Music for Mobile Electric Guitars

New York-located experimental rock ensemble Tilted Axes released their full-length studio debut in July this year. On Music for Mobile Electric Guitars, this 15-piece expedition (according to album credits) led by guitarist Patrick Grant crafts energetic and tuneful experimental rock numbers that contain interludes of vast variety of different subgenres.

The dynamic rockers that sometimes shift into more vulnerable musings show off a band, or should we call it an orchestra, that can assuredly play a range of musical styles. The up-tempo rocker “Shapes 1” blends the best of the rock and pop genres. It’s an appealing, anthemic tune from start to finish that rolls along with optimistic determination.

Music for Mobile Electric Guitars

“Circulation in G Maybe” shakes with a calmer vibe, dealing with post and indie sides of rock. The jagged guitar line and pushy bass line and drum beat propel the song forward, while guitarists emote in a deeper, darker tone. In a twist on the traditional structure, a dreamier and slower paced ambience floats in briefly near song’s end.

“Theme Variation” could be described as everything opposed to the previous number; it’s far more fast and edgy, but it also dwells through the dreamy aspect. Heavy rock guitars and slamming drums interrupt the reverie, churning in a tumultuous mix. Just as suddenly, another transient lull appears, fades, and is replaced by a burst of alt-rock sonics.

A menacing groove, prominent bass line, and agitated drum beat run through “Techno Tilt.” There is much more than this on Music for Mobile Electric Guitars, which counts 17 tracks in total, and it waits to be discovered. Grab this album if you are all for a new adventures when it comes to music, and it will surely give you a lot to absorb.

Grab this fine piece of music from Bandcamp. Stay in touch with Tilted Axes via the band’s official website and Facebook.