Wednesday, 28 September 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Winterfylleth - “The Dark Hereafter”

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 30/09/2016
Label: Candlelight Records |
Spinefarm Records

 
 
With only five tracks, the band have placed all their energy into creating an album of depth without any meandering. The real centrepiece of this album is “Green Cathedral”, though. Indeed it is as good a piece of music as you will hear this year.  “The Dark Hereafter” marks Winterfylleth's continuing trend of excellent albums, Superb and atmospheric stuff- savour it.
 
“The Dark Hereafter” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1). The Dark Hereafter
2). Pariah's Path
3). Ensigns of Victory
4). Green Cathedral
5). Led Astray in the Forest Dark
 
The Review:
 
Winterfylleth are certainly my favourite UK black metal outfit. They return here with an album that takes in both focused blasts of darkness and epic sprawling soundscapes. With only five tracks, the band has placed all their energy into creating an album of depth without any meandering. The band sticks to the task at hand and make every second count.
 
The rather ferocious opening title track recalls more Scandinavian outfits, while the familiar “Pariah's Path” is given an extra something here. Naturally, this being a Winterfylleth release, the record is best digested through headphones and whilst undertaking some kind of journey (preferably in an area of natural beauty) but it works fantastically as a mood piece played on my front room stereo and much like its predecessors it takes you on a  journey even if you don't set foot outside.
 
“Ensigns of Victory” is a stirring and triumphant sounding track, utilising time changes aplenty and a surprising dynamic range (not easy in BM). The real centrepiece of this album is “Green Cathedral”, though. As good a piece of music as you will hear this year and encapsulating all that is great about the band and all that is great about nature- while highlighting how it gets further away from many of us in our daily lives. The track is epic in scope and performance and it crystallises the bands raison d'etre beautifully. It shifts sounds and moods to great effect and is a perfect soundtrack to the coming changing seasons.
 
“Led Astray in the Forest Dark” closes this impressive set with some interesting and effective choral type vocals and an excellent mix allowing the bass to shine through. Overall, this marks Winterfylleth's continuing trend of excellent albums- now at number five, discounting the three CD box set of a year or so past. Superb and atmospheric stuff- savour it.
 
“The Dark Hereafter” is available here
 
Band info: bandcamp || facebook
 
FFO: Wodensthrone, Drudkh, Fen, Wolves in the Throne Room

ALBUM PREMIERE: “Vol. II: Organic Emotions,” by A Constant Knowledge of death


A CONSTANT KNOWLEDGE OF DEATH is a collective from both sides of the United States – from sunny Southern California to chilly Boston, Massachusetts. ACKOD was founded by James Goldmann (Vocals, Drums, Bass, Guitars) and Aaron Gutierrez (Guitars) in 2012 as an outlet for their more experimental metal work, but eventually expanded to include Connor McCullough (Guitars, Bass, Engineering, Mixing, Production) and Mark Rivas (Session Drums). The collective is a labor of love between these four that transcends distance and time to create truly astonishing records that cannot be summed up in one genre.

“Vol. I: Enculturation” was released in November of 2015. The album was met with high praise, with reviewers and listeners alike complimenting the diverse song writing, sonic and vocal styles, ranging from driving progressive metal to ambient electronic instrumentals.

“Vol. II: Organic Emotions,” the new album from ACKOD, takes this even further by expanding their influences into the realms of symphonic metal, acoustic post-rock and sweeping landscapes. Produced and mixed in-house by Connor McCullough, Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna, The Ocean) provided his mastering services to make the record truly reach its full potential. Between the destructive guitar riffs, unrelenting drums and piercing lyrics, “Vol. II”sets itself apart as one of the most dynamic records of 2016.

“Vol. II: Organic Emotions” will be released digitally on September 30TH, 2016 and available to order hereYou can stream the album in full below

Ban d info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Mouth of the Architect - "Path of Eight"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/10/2016
Label: Translation Loss


“Path Of Eight” is a fine demonstration of a band evolving their sound without losing sight of what made them great in the first place. Mouth of the Architect have come into their own with this record and hopefully it will gain them some much deserved attention.

“Path of Eight” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Ritual Bell
02. Fever Dream
03. The Priestess
04. Sever the Soul
05. Drown the Old
06. Stretching Out
07. Fallen Star
08. Path of Eight
The Review:
It’s been a while since I checked in with Mouth of the Architect, my last contact being their 2008 grand opus “Quietly”. Their new LP “Path of Eight” demonstrates that the Ohio post-metallers have undergone quite a metamorphosis in the intervening years.
The shimmering haze of “Ritual Bell” opens the album in subtly hypnotic style. Faraway vocals draw you in, alternating with restrained bursts of distortion to provide a quietly ominous start to proceedings. From here, the album begins to slowly unfold with the heavy psychedelia of “Fever Dream” and “The Priestess”. The bands post-metal roots are still evident on these tracks but the prominence of keyboards and cleaner vocals bring a more distinct character to their sound.
Things take a heavier turn with “Sever The Soul”. An intense combination of intricate guitar lines and outbursts of gnarly riffage, it brings to mind “Red”-era Baroness and sees “Path of Eight” shift up a gear. The second half of the album sees Mouth of the Architect ramp up the distortion while maintaining their new exploratory tendencies to great effect. “Drown The Old” wrings maximum results from the classic quiet/loud dynamic, tender melodic verses giving way to skull-crushing choruses, culminating in a punishing riff onslaught. The double header of “Stretching Out” and “Fallen Star” sees them hone their cosmic post-metal attack to perfection before signing off with the glorious title track. A four-minute distillation of this awesome album, it sees the band really cut loose and unleash some unhinged fretboard mangling.
Path Of Eight” is a fine demonstration of a band evolving their sound without losing sight of what made them great in the first place. Mouth of the Architect have come into their own with this record and hopefully it will gain them some much deserved attention. 
“Path of Eight” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

FFO: ISIS, Cult of Luna, Neurosis, Minsk

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Meshuggah - "The Violent Sleep of Reason"

By: Chris Markwell

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/10/2016
Label: Nuclear Blast


Trying to describe Meshuggah’s sound is a challenge.  The only way I can put it is that they’re a musical cascade: a never-ending barrage of sound and heaviness pounding down upon you.  Don’t expect or ballad or moments of levity here, this is a relentless tide which you will not escape from.  Tracks like ‘MonstoCity’ and ‘Our Rage Won’t Die’ are pummelling tracks of new material which can easily be slotted in to their live setlist and not seem out of place.  In fact, the same could be said for any of those songs on display here: like a chain forged by Vulcan, there’s not a weak link present.  It all hits, and hits hard.

“The Violent Sleep of Reason” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Clockworks (7:15)
2. Born In Dissonance (4:34)
3. MonstroCity (6:13)
4. By The Ton (6:04)
5. Violent Sleep Of Reason (6:51)
6. Ivory Tower (4:59)
7. Stifled (6:31)
8. Nostrum (5:15)
9. Our Rage Won't Die (4:41)
10. Into Decay (6:32)

The Review:

In all honesty, there is one band that should spring into the mind of every metalhead when the word ‘djent’ is uttered.  In fact, if you believe there is a hierarchy among prog and djent bands, then Sweden’s Meshuggah is king: hell, the term itself was coined from the sound made by these guys.  Irrespective of whether you like or loathe the term, you can’t help but marvel at the uniqueness at which these people decided to create music.  Innovative, gifted, heavy, these guys make heavy music like ordinary people make toast.  Seriously, it’s almost annoying how easy they make it all look.  2012 saw the release of Meshuggah’s most commercially successful album to date (“Koloss” and, seriously, get yourself a copy if you haven’t already); October 7th, 2016 sees their return to your speakers with “The Violent Sleep of Reason”.  Best warn those things in advance, because it is going to get heavy. 

Trying to describe Meshuggah’s sound is a challenge.  The only way I can put it is that they’re a musical cascade: a never-ending barrage of sound and heaviness pounding down upon you.  Don’t expect or ballad or moments of levity here, this is a relentless tide which you will not escape from.  Fans of earlier releases like “obZen” and “Nothing” will find themselves comforted by the fact that Meshuggah’s core groove has not been changed, which gives a good foundation in the familiar, but is then built on with track after track of great and vibrant new music, building something you can truly marvel at. 

Considering 2017 will be the 30th anniversary of Meshuggah’s inception, their sound feels more contemporary than classic.  Their rabid desire to explore and create means each album seems to advance upon the previous album, rather than rigidly stick to ‘safe’ boundaries and go no further.  Tracks like ‘MonstoCity’ and ‘Our Rage Won’t Die’ are pummelling tracks of new material which can easily be slotted in to their live set list and not seem out of place.  In fact, the same could be said for any of those songs on display here: like a chain forged by Vulcan (the Roman God of metalworking, not the Star Trek dudes), there’s not a weak link present.  It all hits, and hits hard. 

Meshuggah released ‘Nostrum’ as a preview for listeners and, personally speaking, it was a great bit of bait to put onto the hook.  Once you took a bite of that dissonant, eerie, polyrhythmic slab of raw sound, that was it.  Reel you in, gut you, cook you, eat you.  Meshuggah had me on a plate.  The Violent Sleep of Reason” is made by a band that is the same age as me, yet shows no sign of strain or weakness.  Their sound has never been a more vital alternative to the mainstream than now, and this latest offering will no doubt be hailed as one of the pivotal albums of 2016.  Wake up and get yourself a copy as soon as you can. 

“The Violent Sleep of Reason” is available here

Band info: official|| facebook

FFO: Gojira, Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, Xerath

ALBUM REVIEW: Neurosis - "Fires Within Fires"

By: Chris Bull

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/09/2016
Label: Neurot Recordings



“Fires Within Fires” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Bending Light
2). A Shadow Memory
3). Fire is the End Lesson
4). Broken Ground
5). Reach

The Review:

Neurosis are celebrating being a band for 30 years and what better way to celebrate than a new album? It's no secret that I fucking love this band. 'Through Silver In Blood' and 'Times of Grace' opened my mind to the possibilities of musical and sonic exploration and many of my epiphanies have been soundtracked by their extensive back catalog.
Ok, let's get one thing straight; Neurosis will never make another of the aforementioned albums, so stop comparing every album to them! Neurosis are a band that are constantly evolving, each album is a point on a serpentine time line, 'Fires Within Fires' is the band's 11th studio album (12th if you count the album they recorded Jarboe) and they waste no time in dishing out the meaty slabs on opening track 'Bending Light', a few moments of calm permeate the atypically monstrous Scott Kelly penned riffs.
Kelly's voice, one of the most distinctive and powerful in all of music, carries the track, direct and with a clear mission; complete destruction of biblical proportions. "Peeling skin away, reveals the heart" scream Kelly and Co vocalist/guitarist Steve Von Till, themes of the elements, the mind, the soul and the body are always explored on a Neurosis record and the point is hammered home here. Softly, the noise and beautiful clean guitars of 'A Shadow Memory', definitely a Von Till song idea, will furrow inside your brain and cleanse your spirit, then the heaviness hits and Von Till gives us his impeccable gruff, melodic bellow while the songs central harmony, understated in it's simplicity, washes over you in waves of brilliance. The contributions of Noah Landis on keys/synths/samples is no less important than on 'Honour Found In Decay' but lies a little deeper in the mix, allowing for the guitars (a few new pedals being used maybe?) to come to the forefront. Landis' weapons of choice become more prominent on 'Fire Is The End Lesson', shimmering and floating around the guitars like a swarm of gravity defying bees and when the heavy riff kicks in around the 3.30 mark it's impossible not to be reminded of all those epically crushing moments throughout their career.
 'Broken Ground' begins with some more top notch sample work from Landis before the clean riffing, with the kind of string bend we've come to know and love from Neurosis, sets the moody tone, backed by Jason Roeder's no nonsense approach to rhythm. Lyrics of burning wood, stones and seeking the sun embraces the music in Steve Von Till's ever improving singing voice...then we get the heaviness again and it's Neurosis in their soul smashing purest form. At the tail end the album is 'Reach', if you were to look at a line graph of all past Neurosis albums to define songs; this would fall where “Souls At Zero” and “The Eye of Every Storm” meet. Chorus laden guitars and the 'tape rewinding' sounds dance around the rhythm laid down by Roeder and bassist Dave Edwardson. "They'll never see all that we see. Trust in blood. Live in waters..." sing Kelly and Von Till sorrowfully during the quieter parts. The song breaks off into minimalist, ambient territory for a while...and then the heavy part. The first time I heard it, I got goosebumps. Each subsequent listen yielded the same result. What better way to end the album than with all guns blazing and Scott Kelly roaring away.
Neurosis seem to redefine themselves each decade; in the 80's they were pissed off, aggressive but had your best interests at heart. In the 90's, they progressed to become a thought provoking, godlike beast, creating 4 albums which influenced hundreds of bands and which still stand out in today's musical landscape. In the 00's, they were more reflective and organic, using clean singing and ambient parts. As this decade has yet to close, it's difficult to define what Neurosis are...but herein lies their beauty; you define who and what they are to you. After 30 years, these guys know what needs to go into a Neurosis record and will continue to do so until the music is finished with them.

Fire Within Fires” is available here

Band info: official || facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: Florida's Junior Bruce unleash the might of the Mjolnir with track "Lapis Philosophorum"

 
Formed in 2007 and rising like a phoenix from the ashes of notable Floridian heavyweights Bloodlet, the sludge/stoner metal gods of Asgard forged a new warrior, the five piece rock juggernaut Junior Bruce.   
 
On October 31st 2016 Junior Bruce will release their new album “Endless Descent” via A389 Recordings. The album, which will be their first full-length since their 2012 debut “The Headless King”, sees the band take their sound to a  whole new level and as a result, the band has created one of the best heavy albums of 2016.
 
Vocalist Scott Angelacos commented that the album's concept is based on "one persons struggle to rescue their one love from the depths of the abyss. In their attempts to open a gateway to the underworld they unwittingly set free upon the earth legions of demons and beasts that ultimately consumes not only their soul, but all of humanity."

Whilst the influence of certain bands may be apparent to some, the delivery of their brand of sludgy rock ‘n roll is uniquely devastating.  Today at The Sludgelord, we are stoked to unleash the first bludgeoning blow from the might of Junior Bruce’s Mjolnir in the form of the track “Lapis Philosophorum” which you can check out below.  The album is available to pre-order here




Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Monday, 26 September 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Giraffe Tongue Orchestra - "Broken Lines"

 By: Phil Weller

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 232/09/2016
Label: Party Smasher Inc ||
Cooking Vinyl


Giraffe Tongue Orchestra have forged a sound that is unlike any other and more than just the sum of all its parts.  “Broken Lines” is, in all, diverse and thrilling and one of the most unpredictable records you’ll hear all year.


“Broken Lines” CD//DD track listing:

1). Adapt Or Die
2). Crucifixion
3). No-One Is Innocent
4). Blood Moon
5). Fragments & Ashes
6). Back To The Light
7). All We Have Is Now
8). Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want
9). Thieves And Whores
10). Broken Lines

The Review:

It’s always a tricky task when musicians concerned in a new project are referred in the vein of that overused and god awful term ‘supergroup’ and each band member’s lineage fuels the preconceptions of starry eyed fans, for better or for worse. But with Giraffe Tongue Orchestra and many releases of this kind, it was only ever about good friends getting together and making music; making noise and having fun.

It just so happens that Ben Wienman has stated that he is “extremely proud” of an album “many thought would never happen,” with Mastodon’s Brent Hinds and fellow axesmith on the record echoing his sentiments. “I really hope,” he adds “[that] everyone who gives it a listen might find something in there they like,” and as a marker to go off, that is the one.

For, while there are the unique sounds of each member’s mother acts tinting the colours of this record, they also paint their canvas with new inventions, flavours and ideas that have sparked throughout this collaboration.

It is a record perhaps most poignant for Alice In Chains vocalist William DuVall who, despite fronting two superb records with the ‘grunge rock’ icons, still represents, for some, a band that died with Layne Staley back in 2002. Here he unleashes a performance marked with soul and fire, oozing gorgeous, often haunting and often uplifting vocal melodies characterised by his shadowy falsetto. He is filling no man’s shoes here and, alongside a glittering cast, he forges an identity of his own. It proves to the cynics what a talent he is. From the malicious spit of opener “Adapt Or Die” to the LSD funk of “Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want” his voices adaptability is astonishing. As far as singular performances go, he is more surprising than a gloryhole in a posh restaurant yet, unlike such a thing, he never sounds out of place and proves himself something of a chameleon front man. To go into detail about each and every nuance would take an age, and while DuVall may have a point to prove, for the rest of the band this is an environment in which they spread their creative wings away from the definitions and identities of their main projects. As such, this is a record which never corners itself in terms of genres and styles and such freeing expressionism helps ignite the record.

“Adapt or Die” andNo-One Is Innocent” represent the band’s more vigorous, aggressive side, packed as they are with battering thrash riffs and drum performances, courtesy of The Mars Volta sticksman Thomas Pridgen, that sound like the rumbling of greased up V8 engine.
“Back To The Light” which features guest vocals from Juliette Lewis and who it previously seemed would front the entire project – inherits some of the Dillinger sound with its jolting and angular riffage. Effects-swathed Mars Volta guitar acrobatics decorate the verse before a cannoning space battle of a chorus takes hold; one vastly expansive and detailed. “All We Have Is Now” meanwhile sees the band sounding softer, slower and creepier with something resembling a plagued ballad.

“Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want” bounces off an upbeat jazz chord progression, but as it does so in peaks and troughs, in fake climaxes and weird, discordant stabs, leaving you feeling that there is something more sinister afoot. Its chorus, after more tension strains you in its bass dominant pre-chorus, sounds like Red Hot Chilli Peppers on a bad acid trip; a fucked up but ultimately addictive boogie. From there the darkness grows overhead, things go overcast, the lava lamp morphing of colours and shapes darkened by brooding atmospherics, with DuVall and Hinds’ vocals, as so often they do across the record, weaving in and out of one another at the top of the mix. Yet for all unusual quirks at play here, they help concoct something unique here. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra have forged a sound that is unlike any other and more than just the sum of all its parts.

“Broken Lines” is, in all, diverse and thrilling and one of the most unpredictable records you’ll hear all year.

“Broken Lines” is available here


Band info: facebook