Serpents Lair – Circumambulating the Stillborn (2015)

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Author: Goldensundown

Band: Serpents Lair

Album: Circumambulating the Stillborn

Label: Fallen Empire Records

 

Fallen Empire seems to have a good ear for Northern European black metal given Serpents Lair’s label mates of Axis of Light, Death Fortress, Lluvia and at one point Misþyrming among others, so it wasn’t surprising that the two tracks on Serpent Lair’s 2014 demo release were quality. A random dive into Fallen Empire’s bandcamp led me to Serpent Lair’s 2015 debut studio release and I grabbed it expecting a similar quality, and for the most part Circumambulating the Stillborn delivers on this. Continue reading

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Chastain – We Bleed Metal (2015)

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Author: Dave

Band: Chastain

Album: We Bleed Metal

Label: Leviathan Records

 

Whilst David T. Chastain may not be one of the more well-known metal guitarists, his works are abundant proof that popularity and proficiency are completely independent functions in the world of heavy metal. His early albums from the eighties with Leather Leone are amongst my most played albums in my library. I never familiarised myself with his works after Leone left the band, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that she had rejoined him in 2013 for the Surrender to No One and then again for We Bleed Metal. Continue reading

Gorod – A Maze of Recycled Creeds (2015)

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Author: Bloodshot Grub

Artist: Gorod

Album: A Maze of Recycled Creeds

Label: Listenable Records

 

I’ve never bought into the notion that technicality is necessarily a trade off with expressiveness, or that the majority or even a substantial number of technical metal bands are guilty of focusing on showing off their chops rather than on writing good music. On the contrary, I find technical death metal to be one of the more emotionally engaging death metal subgenres. Gorod’s prior albums are an excellent example of what I’m talking about: virtuoso musicianship used to access a spectacular and entirely expressive approach to melody that draws from classical and jazz music. The reason that A Maze of Recycled Creeds falls flat is not because they’ve spent too much time practicing their sweep picking and not enough time on their songwriting, because the level of musicianship hasn’t changed from prior albums. It’s still top notch, and I don’t think this would be a better album if they had backed off on the technicality. More likely, it would be a worse one, because many of this album’s really enjoyable moments are also jaw-dropping displays of technical ability. For whatever reason, the songwriting just isn’t there on this one. Continue reading

Swallow the Sun – Songs from the North I, II & III (2015)

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Author: Crono

Artist: Swallow the Sun

Album: Songs from the North I, II & III

Label: Century Media Records

 

 

Swallow the Sun is a well-known band. They’ve been around for years, over ten of them actually, and had several releases. For me, they’ve been a little hit-and-miss, sometimes awesome, sometimes just okay. There are some classic songs for me, such as The Giant from way back in 2005, but death-doom is not an easy style to do, and I’ve never found a band that properly captures the gothic gloom of mid-90s bands (I’m thinking bands like Theatre of Tragedy) and blends it properly with the intensity of death metal that developed in the early 2000s. Continue reading

Brain Famine – Exploding Paranoid Universe (2015)

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Review: GTO

Artist: Brain Famine

Album: Exploding Paranoid Universe

Label: Independent

 

Grindcore is a tough genre to innovate in. Slight deviations could put the formula off balance and turn the product into something compromised and mediocre. Of course, this occasionally produces something worthwhile. Indie grind band Brain Famine take a very heavily metal approach on their debut full length, Exploding Paranoid Universe. With a fitting label of thrash/grindcore, Brain Famine seeks to approach grindcore with an angular and sporadic style of riffing that feels pleasantly disjointed and brilliantly unnerving. The album slides between holding a place of unrelenting fury and being a fascinating salad bowl of riffs for the listener to dive into. Continue reading

Revenge – Behold.Total.Rejection (2015)

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Author: Jan Jakobsen

Artist: Revenge

Album: Behold.Total.Rejection

Label: Season of Mist

 

Revenge is the gift that keeps on giving. After fifteen years of writing and playing some of the most bestial and aggressive black metal out there, Revenge still manages to up the extremity on Behold.Total.Rejection. James Read and Vermin are the two men behind all the music, and James Read in particular is somewhat of a legend in the War Metal scene considering his work with Conqueror in addition to Revenge. With War Metal, or Bestial Black Metal as it’s also called, many bands often fall into the mistake of simply plagiarizing or mimicking Blasphemy, and of course Revenge takes a lot of influence from them, but they have managed to find their own identity and sound. Continue reading

Saligia – Fønix (2015)

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Author: Dave

Band: Saligia

Album: Fønix

Label: Ván Records

Saligia are a Norwegian black metal duo who released their debut Sic Transit Gloria Mundi in 2011, followed by the Lvx Aeternae EP in 2013. I enjoyed both of those releases immensely, so I was quite pleased to see that they had released a new full-length and leapt at my first opportunity to give this new one a spin. As soon as the first track started, I was quite perplexed as I wasn’t even sure that this was the same band. It would be a rather significant understatement if I were to say that this album is a departure from the haunting atmosphere that their previous works developed so well. Continue reading