Mare Cognitum – Luminiferous Aether (2016)

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Author: Crono
Artist: Mare Cognitum
Album: Luminiferous Aether
Label: I, Voidhanger Records

Mare Cognitum is a band that has been around for a little bit and is fairly well known within the atmospheric black metal scene. It’s the creation of Jacob Buczarski from California, and he writes and records all the music himself. Now, one-man black metal bands are not new, and the frequency that Mare Cognitum releases music is not new either, but the quality of each release is something to behold. I don’t think Jacob has ever released a song that he isn’t completely satisfied lives up to his amazing standard. Luminiferous Aether is the band’s fourth album and continues this trend of extremely high quality music.

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A Tortured Soul – On This Evil Night (2016)

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Author: Dave
Artist: A Tortured Soul
Album: On This Evil Night
Label: Pure Steel Records

A Tortured Soul are a somewhat prolific heavy metal outfit from Milwaukee who just released their fourth album in just a little more than a decade. This particular release is noticeably heavier than their previous efforts, and is also quite a bit more long-winded. Whilst their previous albums were more of the standard length, this beast clocks in at over an hour with most of the songs breaking the six-minute mark. The album is just massive in every sense: its sound is thick from beginning to end, the downtuned guitars contrast with the high-pitched and haunting vocals, and it’s an epic thriller of horror and suspense, with all the dreamy interludes you would expect.

To answer your next question, yes, these guys probably listened to a lot of Mercyful Fate. I might even go so far as to say that it’s hard to spot very many other influences here, if any at all (though this album does interestingly remind me a lot of the Denner-Shermann release from earlier this year that featured Cage’s vocalist). Of course, if you ask me, sounding like Fate is a good thing since I am always on the lookout for more people who can make music like them. Besides the over-the-top vocal tribute to King Diamond, the guitars are dripping in Fate’s influence as well. As long as the rhythm guitarist is actually playing riffs, he is fantastic at channelling the fast-paced and aggressive style that Denner and Shermann perfected back in the golden era.

But unfortunately, there are huge spots where the riffs just seem to disappear completely, and it just leaves me shaking my head. And no, I’m not talking about those slow spots in all types of metal albums where the guitars play clean, the drums take a break, and the vocals soften. Those are fine if you ask me, and they are great for intros or fade-outs, or even as a way to build suspense for the next section. No, I’m not talking about anything like that; I’m talking about breakdowns. Lots of breakdowns. I’m not saying that breakdowns can’t be done tastefully, but the truth is that for the most part these completely interrupt the flow of some truly excellent compositions and kill the song’s momentum almost instantly.

What’s the most strange about them to me is how utterly unnecessary they are. The rhythm and lead guitarists are unbelievably talented and created. Some of the lead work on this album is the most creative stuff I’ve heard this year. And the riffs are equally compelling as well. Why spend all the effort on crafting some truly excellent music just to bury it under some goofy barrage of repeating palm-muted chugs? It doesn’t make any sense. And it’s even less understandable when you have a vocalist who has such an excellent range and ability placed alongside such silliness.

But this album does have its moments. “Dreams” and “Waiting for Death” are a couple of solid pieces where their musical potential really shines through, especially their creativity with constructing alluring melodies and harmonies that perfectly complement the atmosphere they were trying to create. There really is an awful lot to like here. But your mileage will vary depending on your ability to stomach the rest.

7.5/10

Check ’em out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ATorturedSoul

© 2016, Dave Hodges

Marsh Dweller – The Weight of Sunlight (2016)

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Author: T.K. White

Band: Marsh Dweller

Album: The Weight of Sunlight

Genre: Melodic/Atmospheric Black Metal

Label: Eihwaz Recordings

 

My introduction to the one-man band, Marsh Dweller, is rather peculiar; I was digging around on Metallum and stumbled across him and his sole demo, I found the guy on Facebook sent and asked him if he would know where to find a copy of the aptly titled “Demo” demo. He replied and said the demo was garbage and ended up sending me a copy of this album instead. Now, what I realized was that he sent me a copy of the album just days after it had been formally announced by Eihwaz Records and there were no track premiers, no album streams—nothing—yet I found myself in the peculiarly enjoyable situation of having a copy and for that I’d like to say thank you to John Owen Kerr.  Continue reading

Nekro Drunkz – Lavatory Carnage (2016)

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Author: GTO

Artist: Nekro Drunkz

Album: Lavatory Carnage

Genre: Death/Thrash Metal/Grindcore

Label: Moribund Records

 

“Gore metal” is easily one of the most divisive and polarizing genres of metal. Most of the major camps agree that the vocals are too much, the beats too blasting, and the subject mature immature or unoriginal. It’s hard to the inherent juvenile factor that comes from something like gore metal—frequent references not only to bodily dismemberment but also scatological and biological functions sound more of the reign of elementary school students rather than metalheads. Despite their frequent enjoyment of items that are considered “low culture,” for many people gore metal steeps too low.    Continue reading

Monument – Hair of the Dog (2016)

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Author: Dave

Band: Monument

Album: Hair of the Dog

Genre: Heavy Metal

Label: Rock of Angels Records

 

 

 

After their debut full-length album and a string of lesser releases, Monument have returned to the scene with the release of their second full-length effort. Like a good number of heavy metal bands who have formed in recent years, there is a clear effort on their part to revive the good old days of heavy metal. Though in this case, that strong effort pretty much boils down to trying to do their best to sound like Iron Maiden. They have a lot of those hallmarks down pretty well too: everything from a vocalist who can compete with Dickenson’s wailing howls down to a bassist who seems to adore the thumping bass work Steve Harris (though he isn’t nearly as high in the mix).  Continue reading

The Loom of Time – NihilReich (2016)

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Author: T.K. White

Band: The Loom of Time

Album: NihilReich

Genre: Black/Doom/Prog/Metalcore

Label: Independent

 

Wow, what an incredibly…weird…record. Aussie doomsters have some interesting interpretations of two relatively secure genres—being black metal and doom metal—yet they throw in some hyper-melodic metal into the mix alongside modern metalcore type riffs and breakdowns. I was expecting some nice, morose doom—maybe even a little on the cheesy side—and that is not at all what you get in this record.  Continue reading

A Diadem of Dead Stars – Kingdoms Bathed in Golden Light (2016)

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Author: Crono

Artist: A Diadem of Dead Stars

Album: Kingdoms Bathed in Golden Light

Label: Independent

Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

 

A Diadem of Dead Stars is a band I have been following since their inception with 2014’s The Mist Bearer. While I thought the band had some potential, nothing really jumped out at me as really exciting. They have since released a few brief demos and EPs, culminating in their sophomore full length, Kingdoms Bathed in Golden Light. While the band’s sound has not drastically changed in the brief two years of their existence, I feel like Kingdoms Bathed in Golden Light is a stronger album that once again demonstrates this band’s potential, as well as some fairly consistent growth.   Continue reading