Friday, 18 August 2017

RIFF REWIND (18/08/2013): Secrets Of The Sky - "To Sail Black Waters"


Three of the band’s six members each contributing with multiple instruments, SECRETS OF THE SKY projects a unique brand of cinematic, cerebral, atmospheric metal with a heavy persuasion towards doom metal and even more blackened influences citing The Ocean, Opeth, Isis, Agalloch and others.

The debut album from this new by this sadly missed act, “To Sail Black Waters”, was recorded over an eight month period with engineer/producer Juan Urteaga (Testament, Machine Head, Cattle Decapitation) at Trident Studios, the massive album boasting SECRETS OF THE SKY’s entirely modern and unique back-bending of elements from a multitude of genres. With up to three guitar tracks, two and three keyboards at a time and a multitude of vocal styles — clean and epic lines against hollow and blackened battle cries and crushing, low-end growls — the band creates huge build-ups and epic movements as expansive as the cosmos.


Today we’re rewinding back 4 years, with our original review of a review of SECRETS OF THE SKY’s phenomenal debut “To Sail Black Waters”, So if you overlooked this band/album, be sure to remedy your error by checking out our review and the record is streaming in full below


By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 8/10/2013
Label: Kolony Records






If you are looking for a record that is a little different with elements of multiple sub-genres, give this album a try. Truly accomplished stuff and, yes, mesmerisingly bleak.


“To Sail Black Waters” CD//DD track listing :

1. Winter
2. Decline
3. Sunrise
4. Black Water

The Review:

Epic progressive doom with blackened influences and aspects. So what do you get for your money. You get four tracks- the shortest of which is (7.43) long. This Oakland CA six piece know what to do with the time; each track is expansive, multi-faceted and will hold your interest. It's bleak stuff, which does not sound very Californian. Then again, I suspect much of Oakland isn't exactly how you might imagine/want California to be.

Winter” comes in over the nine minute mark with a suitably icy sound. Screamed and low vocals trade off while the guitars range from melodic and mellow to positively feral. The production is pleasingly clear and bright- but still raw and grimy enough as to be appropriate.

Decline” is mesmerising in its bleakness (that kind of sums the whole record, to be fair). It continues and indeed expands on the opener. Clean vocals add a Gothic aspect (think Type O, not The Cure) that is unique and welcome. Keyboards add another layer to the sound as the guitars weave together expertly. This is brilliant stuff. The pace is slow but fluid and the generous 12 minute plus length of the track allows you to really get into this most unusual of sounds. The final 3 minutes plus are even heavier than what goes before and features an excellent riff prior to the track breaking down.

Sunrise” starts with a lumbering doom riff (backed with an interesting keyboard counterpoint) and thereafter dynamics are used effectively with some truly unpleasant vocals too. Again, there is a definite gothic influence here (to my ears, anyway) and I like it. The opening riff gets returned too; this is not just progressive “throw anything in” writing- the tracks work as pieces of music and structured songs.

Black Waters” at (11.22) closes the album is impressively expansive style. The intro builds things very nicely as the crystal clear drums crash in with a well worked groove that the bass propels along until the vocals come to the fore. Real heaviness follows with those black metal-esque vocals ripping out of the speakers. The track then twists and turns its way along numerous pathways before stripping away towards the end.

If you are looking for a record that is a little different with elements of multiple sub-genres, give this album a try. Truly accomplished stuff and, yes, mesmerisingly bleak.



Band info: facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Atriarch - "Dead As Truth"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/08/2017
Label: Relapse Records


There is so much to enjoy about the new Atriarch release. You have heavier cuts like "Dead" and "Devolver" to mix among the more pensive songs. The songwriting is superior. And, best of all, you have a talented group back for a release that is sure to remind you why you enjoyed its brutal sound when they debuted.


“Dead As Truth” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Inferno
2. Dead
3. Devolver
4. Void
5. Repent
6. Hopeless

The Review:

Atriarch are one of those bands that cuts across a ton of subgenres. For many outfits, that can go lots of ways, for better or worse. There are more than a few examples of times this does not work. Too many metal performers trying to be too much to too many people, and it can be exasperating. Similarly, in this Portland-based group, you can hear hard rock, gothic, post-punk, black metal and doom, but it is altogether better than all that sounds.

On their fourth full-length recording, "Dead As Truth," Atriarch does so famously because its members build upon a series of well-received releases with a sound that, for all it is advertised as, does the core parts so remarkably.

Atriarch bills itself as classic death rock, but there is a good chance you will hear tinges of old-school death metal here. From haunting singing to touches of dirge and, in truth, a lot of heavy, sludgy guitar, you will catch the screams of some of death metal's originators in Atriarch's blast. Instead of the screeching, indecipherable C-list material you can find anywhere, though, Atriarch paints some ghastly images without the nonsensical bombast. "Dead As Truth" continues the growth of the group's sound and, in many ways, makes it far more intimidating because it is more cerebral than most.

Fans of the band's past recordings may believe this new package sounds toned down compared to past collections. Such an observation is largely true, but rather than chill, this one feels like a more sophisticated entry. The restraint you hear from the opener, "Inferno," to the closer, "Hopeless," is used to support savage storytelling. "Void" taps a similar lyrical delivery, until it unleashes the full bore of anguish on the listener.

There is so much to enjoy about the new Atriarch release. You have heavier cuts like "Dead" and "Devolver" to mix among the more pensive songs. The songwriting is superior. And, best of all, you have a talented group back for a release that is sure to remind you why you enjoyed its brutal sound when they debuted.


"Dead As Truth" is available here


Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Thursday, 17 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Timeworn - "Venomous High"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/06/2017
Label: Fysisk Format


Some of the most engaging moments on “Venomous High” come when Timeworn move slightly away from their core sound.  “All Chiefs” finds the band at their most unhinged as they unleash an arsenal of spidery math-metal riffs with breakneck rock’n’roll abandon. Anyone missing Swiss behemoths Kruger will find a lot to enjoy in this killer track. “Venomous High” is a fine offering from Timeworn that takes an array of well-worn modern metal influences and blows them up on a grand scale.

“Venomous High” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Measure of Gold
2). All Chiefs
3). The Trail
4). Black Peak Blues
5). The Infectious Gloom
6). Ur Syntax
7). Night of Owls
8). Traitors to the Crown
9). Venomous High

The Review:

Timeworn’s new LP “Venomous High” is a slab of burly Mastodon-style complex sludge injected with a shot of post-rock grandeur. The albums production is perfectly pitched to capture the Oslo quintet’s strengths – smooth and polished enough to distil their rich melodic side but nasty enough to harness their weighty crunch. Opener “Measure of Gold” display all of these elements over seven epic minutes and provides a strong foundation for the bands sonic explorations over the rest of the album. “The Trail” provides a welcome moment of calm in the form of a brief piano-led instrumental that acts as an extended introduction to the hulking “Black Peak Blues”. The slowest and heaviest track on the record, it is both crushing and darkly melancholic

Some of the most engaging moments on “Venomous High” come when Timeworn move slightly away from their core sound.  “All Chiefs” finds the band at their most unhinged as they unleash an arsenal of spidery math-metal riffs with breakneck rock’n’roll abandon. Anyone missing Swiss behemoths Kruger will find a lot to enjoy in this killer track. The band bring some no nonsense stoner rock attitude to “The Infectious Gloom”, particularly in the infectious refrain that carries a little bit of Clutch’s swagger.

“Venomous High” is a fine offering from Timeworn that takes an array of well-worn modern metal influences and blows them up on a grand scale. It is a record that could have a wide appeal while remaining true to its underground roots.


“Venomous High” is available here



Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Extremity - "Extremely Fucking Dead"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 07/04/2017
Label: 20 Buck Spin



In this first release by the group, you have what sounds like an incredibly promising start. The playing is top-shelf vicious. Carpet bombed in a death metal growl, the songs are forceful in delivery and unyielding in lyrics.

"Extremely Fucking Dead" CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:

1. Intro (Mortuus est Valde)
2. Crepuscular Crescend
3. Bestial Destiny
4. Chalice of Pus
5. Fatal Immortality
6. Extremely Fucking Dead

The Review:

Yelp is truly eBay for reviews. You can discover the most random stuff assessed by a less-than-forgiving public. There, you can even find a list of the best San Francisco bars that play death metal. Yes, it is a real list and is a testament to how much the Bay Area, for all its contradictions, tourists and big red hop-on-and-off buses, loves extreme music.

Beyond that, Northern California has been an epicenter of sorts for metal for going on 30 years or more. With the debut of the Oakland-based Extremity, you have a group that is reflective of such history. This is not the first band for its members by any stretch.

From Agalloch to Vastum, Cretin to Necrosic, among others, the experience that makes up Extremity is sure to prompt attention. Impressive acts, no doubt. In this first release by the group, you have what sounds like an incredibly promising start. The playing is top-shelf vicious. Carpet bombed in a death metal growl, the songs are forceful in delivery and unyielding in lyrics. Herein tracks like "Bestial Destiny" are impressive, with traces of grind undercutting a faithful death blueprint. Throughout the debut, there is ample space for all-star drummer Aesop Dekker, who counts Ludicra and Worm Ouroboros among his work, to ballast the carnage.

What makes Extremity such a fascinating addition to death metal, beyond its collective resumes and membership, is its potential. For instance, its similarity to Scolex, bassist Erika Osterhout’s other death/doom project, is glancing at best. As such, Extremity melds some of the exceptional qualities of what its members bring. Osterhout’s contributions on songs like "Chalice of Pus" are as you might expect, searing. In fact, the whole team has it’s A-game on for all six tracks.

If you love the style, Extremity does it in a fashion you’re sure to enjoy. Haters might call it a touch of playing it safe. A longer listen reveals how complex the songs really are. "Extremely Fucking Dead" isn’t the 99-cent-bin death metal, because its collaborators are far from it. Together, the group hints that their best is yet to come.

"Extremely Fucking Dead" is available here


Band info: facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: Dayton, Ohio sludge trio Maharaja steamroller their peers with heavyweight juggernaut "Blood Moon"


Maharaja are a three piece sludge metal band from the post industrial wasteland of Dayton, Ohio. They are proud to announce that they will release their debut album, “Kali Yuga” on September 22nd 2017 

After spending the better part of the past 3 years touring since their inception in 2014, the band excitedly entered the studio with engineer Jacob Wright (Big Deal America), with full intent of capturing their live onslaught on tape. The band believes they have done so and the results are sure to please metal fans of all genres. The album title, “Kali Yuga”, is Sanskrit (a philosophical language of Hinduism) for the “age of destruction” and the band does little to disappoint those expecting a visceral and figurative representation of demonic destruction. Maharaja has perfected their own wall of sound by way of lead vocalist and bassist Eric Bluebaum's fuzzed out tone, stacked with Angus Burkhardt’s guitars that doom’n’ shred, and drums that are as quick to drop a blast beat as they are to groove you to death courtesy of drummer and vocalist Zack Mangold “Our intent is to break amps, disorient, and make people throw up” Bluebaum says.


Kali Yuga” begins with the blistering, brooding, and insanely heavy “Blood Moon” and today we been tasked with debuting this heavy weight juggernaut for your listening pleasure and you can check it out below.  



Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Carach Angren, "Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten"

By: Ernesto Aguilar


Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 16/06/2017
Label: Season of Mist




If you had hopes Carach Angren could dig that hole back in your heart that their previous full-length could not, you will certainly not walk away disappointed.  The overall composition is simply superlative.


 
"Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten" CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Opening
2. Charlie
3. Blood Queen
4. Charles Francis Coghlan
5. Song For the Dead
6. In De Naam Van De Duivel
7. Pitch Black Box
8. The Possession Process
9. Three Times Thunder Strikes

The Review:

Black metal has many signifiers. The harsh thunder of the music itself. Lyrical themes oriented around the darkest corners of our imaginations. A vocal style that is unmistakable. Lost in this cacophony – and to history for some – is a cornerstone of what we regard as black metal, a flair for the presentation.

Consider the classic black metal image in your mind’s eye. Performers like Venom, Bathory and, of course, Mercyful Fate surely spring out first. Their fidelity to the visual even before the ascendance of music visuals made them infamous. Today, with all manner of indie and international horror films engulfing what would otherwise be our wildest mental pictures, not as much black metal is as adept at setting the blackened altar as back in the days of the founders. That assertion could be heresy to some devotees. Still, many black metal bands are gifted at carrying on the story just inside the fearless, and feared, basement of a house that metal music built.

Dutch black metal trio Carach Angren offer their fifth release, "Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten," amid much anticipation, not to mention high expectations. The multilingual act is lauded worldwide for its symphonic brand of black metal musicianship. Although its 2015 recording, "This is No Fairytale," was regarded by critics as a disappointment, the band’s body of work is enthralling. Blistering guitars, an ominous build, delicate violins and a dash of piano have long been part of the canon. It was nevertheless unclear if this nine-song release would return Carach Angren to form.

In addition its music, Carach Angren has cultivated a rabid following through their incredible music video presence, which combine crisp, quality visuals with crushing and often sublime music. No sleeveless t-shirts in an empty warehouse here. The group carries forward textured storytelling in the vein of some of the many greats. You can find online many terrifyingly dazzling visuals already for songs from "Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten," and they’ll be worth your search, if you do not mind a sleepless night or two.

Many of Carach Angren’s best music has been rooted in folklore and other tales. Such is the case with "Blood Queen," a sonic departure for the group though its themes of death, despair and infernal dealings appear in other cuts here. The specter of a Ouija board floats through the many stories here too, mostly as an usher to that aforementioned despair. It is the vehicle for a malevolent spirit in "Charlie" and reaches its zenith in the album’s closer, "Three Times Thunder Strikes." "Scrambling for matches/Determined to burn it to ashes/She threw the Ouija board to the flames and kneeled to pray/’I wish I never ever, ever listened to my friends’/’Who had said it would be fun to play’/’Now the one that follows me’/’A predator, and me its new prey.’

There’s so much than can be said about the performances, completely separate from the group’s imagery or lyricism. The overall composition is simply superlative. Guitar and drums are fierce as they are jarring on "In de Naam Van de Duivel" (“In the Name of the Devil" in Dutch, though the song is in English). The orchestral crests in "Song for the Dead" are haunting. If you had hopes Carach Angren could dig that hole back in your heart that its previous full-length could not, you will certainly not walk away disappointed.

"Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten" is available here:




Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Void Ritual - "Heretical Wisdom"

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/08/2017
Label: Tridroid Records |
Throat Productions




Beautifully textured, and masterfully layered, Void Ritual has summoned a depth of composition here which is elegantly minimalist in its structure: neither too little nor too much




“Heretical Wisdom” CD//CS//DD track listing:

1). The Flood
2). Breathing Ice
3). A Mockery of Flesh & Bone
4). Heretical Wisdom
5). The Frozen Altar
6). The Maelstrom
7). Dead in Blackest Night
8). Nachzehrer


The Review:

The latest output by one-man black metal band Void Ritual, “Heretical Wisdom”, is a deeply melodic, folk-tinged hymn to darkness and the primal elements. The first full-length for the band evokes the strongest and most beguiling aspects of that style of Finnish black metal practiced by Moonsorrow and Havukruunu, as well as lesser-known artists such as Sarastus. Surging rhythms and tidal melodic passages invoke the feel of harrowing journeys amid roaring hibernal blizzards and brings forth images of hearth-fires and skaldic songs in the darkest passages of Winter nights.

Beautifully textured, and masterfully layered, Void Ritual has summoned a depth of composition here which is elegantly minimalist in its structure: neither too little nor too much. This is complemented by a very strong vocal performance by Daniel Jackson. Strongly recommended. Favourite tracks include “Breathing Ice”, “The Maelstrom” and “Dead in Blackest Night”.

“Heretical Wisdom” is available on CD//DD here and cassette here




Band info: facebook || bandcamp