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Behemoth "I Loved You At Your Darkest"
The first song I heard ahead the full 2014 release ("The Satanist") from Behemoth was "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel".  It immediately peaked my interest, setting the tone nicely for what was to become one of my favoured full lengths of that year.  This time around I heard "God = Dog" (which I think means the band are more cat people?).  It sounded blunted and frankly restrained.  Yes, there was a brief passage of some interesting string work towards the end but generally it just passed me by.  Sadly, just as my experience of the lead song/single from 2014 was an excellent benchmark for my expectation of the full length, the same has happened in 2018 but with a very different outcome.

"I Loved You At Your Darkest" rarely achieves touching distance of the band's previous full length.  There's lots of things that stop it from doing this, indeed the list is as long as either one of my lanky and lengthy arms.  The songwriting is poor, it lacks any real structure the majority of the time.  As a result there is a constant sense of this just being a very hastily written, rush of ideas.  Tracks like "If Crucifixion Was Not Enough" and "Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica" show this in abundance, the former nailing the lid down on its own coffin with one of the laziest attempts at a menacing riff I have heard in a while.

When we do actually settle into some sense of structure it actually works well.  "Bartzabel" is a sole triumph in the songwriting/structure stakes here and this is almost ruined by the annoying double layered, chanting backing vocals.


Next on my list of grumbles?  The sound.  It is one of the most sterile and strained sounding mixes I think I have ever heard on a record.  The drums sound like they were tracked for a completely different purpose on some of the tracks, "Wolves ov Siberia" and "Rom 5:8" in particular.  I can't believe that this was the intended sound the band wanted to achieve.  I follow Behemoth on Instagram and they make much majesty and menace over their theatre and general pomp when performing live it seems.  Surely then they haven't listened to the final playback of this record?

Now then.  I don't recall chanting children on a record ever working well?  But there's a couple of tracks here of children chanting their disdain for Christianity alongside Nergal and co.  It sounds frankly fucking ridiculous and trite even over only two tracks!

In summary, this is a massive disappointment whether you enjoyed "The Satanist" or not.  Hastily put together, poorly arranged and mixed terribly to boot.

1/5 
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On July 27, 2018, Redemption released their seventh full-length album, Long Night’s Journey Into Day. The release was mastered by Jacob Hansen, who has also worked with Amaranthe, Doro, Primal Fear and Volbeat. It is the first album to feature Evergrey vocalist Tom Englund on vocals, replacing longtime frontman Ray Alder, also of progressive metal institution Fates Warning. Englund’s highly emotional, husky vocal style could lend a rougher edge to Redemption’s simultaneously melodramatic and contemplative approach. It is also worth pointing out that in the band’s new promo shoot (https://www.redemptionweb.com/) he looks quite a lot like the 30-year-old Boomer (https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/30-year-old-boomer).

It’s a good choice, however, considering that Evergrey and Redemption are strongly reliant on their vocalists to define their sound. The Art of Loss was the band’s most eclectic effort, but Alder’s singing provided the basic foundation that defined it as a Redemption album. Englund could be better off in Redemption, given that Evergrey have been meandering for the last couple releases while the former band have been musically top-notch for most of their oeuvre. Chris Poland, formerly of Megadeth, returns for this album, having appeared on The Art of Loss for a very noticeable shred outing on the title track. He will be joined by Italian guitar veteran Simone Mularoni, of Empyrios and the estimable prog-power heavyweights DGM. Also, after an extensive coma after a 2014 aneurysm (https://www.facebook.com/Bernie-Versailles-379611832240834/), the band’s longtime lead guitarist Bernie Versailles returns to the lineup.

Long Night’s Journey into Day tracklist
1. Eyes You Dare Not Meet in Dreams
2. Someone Else’s Problem
3. The Echo Chamber
4. Impermanent
5. Indulge in Color
6. Little Men
7. And Yet
8. The Last of Me
9. New Year’s Day
10. Long Night’s Journey into Day
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Glen Benton is 51.  Fuck I feel old now too.  Deicide are 30 years old (32 if we count the Amon era).  Album number 12 from the fathers of Florida death metal is a strong effort considering yet another change of personnel has occurred.  It is bye-bye Jack Owen, hello Mark English of Monstosity fame taking up guitar duties and ironically I like "Overtures of Blasphemy " a lot more than Monstrosity's effort this year.

Whilst it can never make the "beast of a DM record" title I would give to the debut or"Legion" for example, "Overtures..." is entertaining.  Whether it is the melo-death passages that litter the streets and alleyways of this record or the more familiar sacrilegious blasting fury of Deicide at their (old) best, there's plenty to balance the experince over these 12 tracks.  Take "Seal The Tomb" for example, it goes immediately for the jugular, relentlessly chugging riffs alongside Benton's usual demented growls only to be tempered by menacing and interesting leads and sonics that carry the song along well.  Listen once to this track and it is in your head for literally days after.

Then there's the vehemence of the lyrics of "Compliments of Christ" were you can feel the spittle from Glen's lips splattering your ears as he spews forth the vitriol he is best known for.  "Anointed in Blood" opens like a lead jam session recorded mid flow before developing into a hellish gallop of fiery hooves, again perfectly completed by some well placed and well timed leads.

This is were Morbid Angel went wrong with "Kingdoms..." safe DM with little if any attention paid to the sonic wizardry of their sound.  Take a leaf out of Glen's book Trey!

It is clear that this is no nonsense DM that is not out to reinvent any wheels it still has enough equal measure of extremity and assured and unapologetic attitude to hold it's own against most of the DM records released this year.  It is not perfect by any means.  I lose it on more than one occasion if I am honest ("Crucified Soul of Salvation" in particular hits my 'standby' button really nicely) and it is a couple of tracks too long making for an almost excessive feel to the running time.  Whilst it is a well paced record there's definitely some "filler" present.  But very any turkeys in here there is still thankfully the brilliance of tracks like "Consumed by Hatred" to snap you back to attention.  "Flesh, Power, Dominion" is one of the strongest things Deicide have ever put to tape btw.

3/5
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Winterfylleth "The Hallowing of Heirdom"
Okay, so I will admit that the prospect of an acoustic only Winterfylleth album didn't exactly fill me with joy.  The pagan, black metallers have long existed on the fringes of my radar but never somehow managed to make much more than a fleeting blip historically. 

The fact is that this is one of the most heartfelt records I have listened to in quite a while.  I have more than once found myself stood stock still, completely captivated by the atmospheric beauty of what I have heard on this record.  The album opens up with "The Shepherd" a track which starts with a rendering of the Christopher Marlowe poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and this is an indication of what you are in for as a listener.  There's not one bit of BM on this record and it doesn't need any in any way, shape or form.  "The Hallowing of Heirdom" is more folk than anything even remotely resembling metal.  Imagine if Fleet Foxes dropped the irritation of that constant "hippy" vibe and showed some actual capable instrumentation also and you are loosely on the right track.

 


There's variety to it which is as unexpected as it is welcome and it means you never get bored despite the record clocking in at 55 mins plus.  Over 12 tracks you are actually taken on a journey that stays with you long afterwards, which is what all good journeys should do, be memorable for all the right reasons.  But don't get me wrong, it isn't OTT on the emotion front, that's not the strength on display here.  No, this is one of the most balanced releases in my recent memory.  It's like a picture album where the first picture is given to you (that cover) and then it takes over your head with numerous captures of the very essence of the land itself.  You can smell the pine of the trees, the earthy tones of the fields and almost feel the breeze on your face even though you are sat in your front room with all the windows and doors shut.

As usual with Winterfylleth there's a theme of the old ways being lost, the album title itself harking back to the importance of "heirdom" as we all exist with clear ties back to people stretching far back into history but seem to rarely give that much thought.   "The Hallowing of Heirdom" seems a fitting tribute to the ways of yore regardless.

5/5
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I invite you to come with me to a time before 2008. It may surprise you to learn that at this point, Circle II Circle was actually a pretty damn good band. They did eventually become prog Godsmack, as history will record with bitter regret chronicling the storied tale of Savatage. For now, however, let’s make like boomers and complain about how things used to be better.

Burden of Truth sounds like sentimentalism, at times. It feels rather like Skid Row filtered through Phantom of the Opera, in that characteristically Trans-Siberian Orchestra fashion. The difference, though, is that Circle II Circle crank the technicality and bite of their music significantly higher than TSO’s comfortable bombast. It’s certainly a little saccharine, but performed with such conviction and talent as to make that nearly irrelevant.

Zak Stevens’ voice is vital to this whole undertaking. His overbored bass resonates unstoppably through every song, an unmistakably mature vocal delivery that dignifies even the album’s most banal emotional turns (“How can we learn to live as one…” “I walked by the church and saw the children, and the world through their eyes…”). Moreover, it is very identifiably American, and that’s the biggest selling point of this album. It’s worth noting he layers very nicely with his backing vocalists. The “The Black” and title track have particularly good harmonizing.

One might be tempted to snicker at some of these lyrics and the melodies. How antiquated the notion of melodic music without dizzying rhythmic changes or production magic out the ass. Yet, the sheer power behind it all is impossible to deny. The piano line on “Heal Me” would be insufferable if it didn’t drag you in immediately. Despite the sugar content, Burden of Truth is largely fat-free. It doesn’t fall victim to most metal tropes, including the prevalence of vibrato. It’s endearing too, in a sort of Andie McDowell in Five Weddings and a Funeral kind of way, or perhaps of Joy Davidson in Shadowlands – very American.

The opening to Revelations? Badass. The crunchy riffs of A Matter of Time? Some slick shit. The entirety of Evermore? One of the most masterfully tight, pointed pieces of prog metal out there that still pounds away at the ears like a cannon blast. If you wanted an aspirational American soundtrack, this is it. Songs for an endearing everyman with more behind his ears than you might guess.
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Ministry "AmeriKKKant"
No matter how much you dislike Donald Trump, Ministry's overt and constant attack on his administration doesn't mean that "AmeriKKKant" is actually a good album.  I mean it isn't entirely a terrible album either but you will struggle to remember of of it after even a couple of listens, beyond the endless stream of frankly confusing and almost barrage like snippets of Trump audio bites that is, they are the only really memorable part.

It isn't really an industrial metal album either.  It sound s more like a nu-metal band got sealed into a steel drum with their instruments and got rolled down a big hill.  It doesn't come across as particular caustic or aggressive though, just a bit of a racket made in a Republican nightmare.  

Not long into the record the message you are constantly force-fed just gets bloating.  There's no rescue or reprise from it as the pace of the album is so inconsistent and frankly repetitive you have nothing else of worth to focus on as a distraction.  I mean you can be really angry and pissed off and still transfer it to audio without being boring (Body Count "Bloodlust" is a great recent example of this).

Even if Donald Trump is listening, the message of this record is that it is too mediocre a response to the true horror of his administration.  The facepalm on the cover of the album is unfortuantely all too indicative of the quality of the record itself.

2 horns out 5
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Judas Priest "Firepower"
 


When I was 14 I witnessed the video on Raw Power TV to the title track from Judas Priest's "Painkiller" album.  "Painkiller" blew me the fuck away!  I mean, what was not to love?  Thunderous drums, a mix of gruff and shrill vocal antics and duelling lead guitars.  I went straight out that afternoon and bought the album on blasted it for consecutive days for the next 3 months.  All in all, not a bad gateway album to the band. 

The real draw of "Painkiller" was the memorability of the experience was that one run through the record left seared scorch marks across your brain.  For years after I could run through the entire album in my head note for note.  "Firepower" is exactly the same.  A mere 24 hours after it coming into my life and I can sing along with the lyrics, air guitar to near note perfection and bash my fingers bloody to the drums on my desktop.  It's full of anthemic choruses and simple yet effective hooks that just pull you in.

Try and not headbang to any of the opening six tracks, if you can achieve it you are almost certainly dead inside.  Try not to make ridiculous gurning faces to any of the lead work on here and again if you succeed, check your pulse!  Sad though it maybe that Glenn has confirmed his Parkinson's is now progressed enough to stop him from touring there is no doubt that he can exchange blows, pound for pound with Faulkner and barely break a sweat.

There's no point doing a track by track description here, if you have read the review to this point you'll get the idea.  Criticisms?  It is too long, by about 2 or maybe 3 tracks.  However, you can easily suffer the dips in the quality here and there as you are rarely away from some truly great music.  It does get a little samey at times too but that's forgivable to me as nobody is looking to reinvent any wheels here this may cause issue with the longevity of the record though for me.  Right now though I love it, I fucking love it.

5/5
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Portal "ION"
One of my favourite urban myths is that you will go blind if you masterbate too much you will go blind.  Listening to Portal might make you go blind as you ears frantically take resource from your brain that was needed for mundane tasks such as vision and bladder control as they try to cope with the relentless auditory assault of "ION", however pulling your pud won't affect your eyesight boys.  Science bit over, on with the review.

"ION" seems instantly more refined than previous outings.  Don't get me wrong here, there's no slick production values been applied and there isn't any venture into clean vocals for example.  It just seems that this time around things are more calculated.  "Phreqs" is like being attacked by a swarm of wasps, as chaotic as it seems there's some well thought out structure to the attack to maximise the impact.  One of the only criticisms I could draw against Portal of old was that sometimes the mental factor was up over 11 and things did tend to get lost.  "Vexovoid" remedied this a lot with its more "Horror" approach and "ION" seems to take that on a notch further combining dark alchemy and atmospheres perfectly.  The build of "Crone" for example is full of creeping dread and menace, finally arriving and proving to be as ghastly as I had hoped it would.

For all the scientific intimation of the cover things are still more on the experimental as opposed to technical side of death metal.  There's still that pit of the stomach sensation of being dragged into some fathomless void by the spiralling darkness of those fucking guitars and the taunting evil of those drums - they are not just about all out assault folks.  The layers do genuinely seem to be being applied with more structure this time around and the instrumentation is used better than ever to produce real atmosphere.  Favourite release of 2018 so far.

5 horns out 5

 
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Machine Head "Catharsis"
Fucking hell.  Where to start really?

Nu-metal is apparently alive and well in 2018 and I don't like Nu-Metal, so the prospects for positive words in this review are slim.  It is not that I don't like Machine Head.  I mean I am not one of the mindless internet troll brigade who respond to every release with "These guys made "Burn My Eyes" and listen to this!".  Get over it bell ends, there's no more "Burn My Eyes" nor is there anymore "The Blackening" left to come.  Whilst I will openly admit to enjoying most releases since "The Blackening" there is no denying that the sound of MH has become increasingly diluted over the albums since their "comeback".  "Catharsis" is the end point for me.  It is so diluted it is like wearing my once dark black hoodie after it has been bleach hand washed and then boil washed - it kind of has lost all substance.

The rapping is back, as if the first time round wasn't enough of a fucking car crash.  "Triple Beam" is without doubt one of the worst pieces of "music" I have ever heard.  When we aren't being treated to poor attempts at lyrical rhyming we are drowning in dreamy, hazy clean vocals that seem to be aiming (yes actually aiming) for harmony.  Yep, there's some catchy riffs but who fucking cares if you have to drink from the toilet to realise all you'll ever find in there is shit?

Why this all has to go on for 15 tracks is a mystery?  I'll be honest, the skip button got used at least 13 times in writing this review.  For all the (frankly excessive) marketing that has been done for "Catharsis" I don't think I could feel anymore of an anti-climax.  Robb Flynn is all over every mag cover, web and video interview defending "Catharsis" and that's his entitlement, he didn't write any of this for me.  It is still terrible though.

0 horns out of 5

 
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Watain "Trident Wolf Eclipse"
Watain's last album "The Wild Hunt" got slated on one internet review for being "Nu-Dark Funeral with the heart of Bon Jovi".  Whilst a certain amount of butthurt contributed the scribe of aforementioned review choosing such a frankly ridiculous statement, it was unfortunately indicative of the direction change of the album that saw the raw and ferocious nature of the band be trimmed back to make way for more melodic, progressive and accessible aspects.

"Trident Wolf Eclipse" is a return to that more traditional sound.  Although melody is obvious throughout, it is more restrained.  We have more Gorgoroth here than we do Bon Jovi that's for sure.  No wheels are reinvented on Watain's sixth studio album.  It is pretty standard BM fare, full of raw production values, tremolo leads and drums that can peel flesh from faces.  You won't find a lot here that hasn't been done by Watain before but then again the fan base has been crying out for a return that more "underground" sound for four years plus now.  As opposed to innovation let's just look at this albums raison d'etre as being to rectify the imbalance in their discography.

Even the album is more BM than your average Bandcamp BM demo release nowadays.  Straight out of a 13 year old boy's maths jotter who gave up on trigonometry weeks ago.  So, depending on whether the kvlt legions of troo black metal want to put their sacrificial goat carcasses down for long enough to give them a chance, Watain are back.  Average at best, but back at least.

3 horns out of 5. 
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Shining "X - Varg Utan Flock"
Two album reviews in one day today.  Boy, will I sleep tonight.  Although perhaps not as easily as I might think.  "X - Varg Utan Flock" has a bit flustered, a bit confused yet in a good way - like when I saw a magician at my friend's wedding and he wasn't just counting cards even though he didn't walk through a wall either.

Shining's latest album twists and turns as it unfolds in front of you like some venomous snake.  Depressive tone? Tick.  Demented vocals? Check!  Sad piano track?  That's a roger sir!  All the stuff you expect to hear assisted by the usual clean and full production job we've all come to expect.  "Han Som Lurar Inom" reverberates though your actual soul as it lurches through eight mins plus of spat lyrics, Behemoth like riffs and hazy reprises.

The classical keys of "Tolvtusenfyrtioett" are actually hauntingly beautiful and the bonkers vocal cabaret of "Gyllene Portarnas Bro" make it sound like a pisstake Eurovision Song Contest entry.  Unfortunately it is this varied nature to proceedings that does become a little off putting on repeated listens.  The latter mentioned track actually is more than a little awkward and closing track "Mot Aokighara" strays close to similar territory before a change of pace rescues it and takes it off in a much stronger direction.

Crooning aside, there's still lots to like on "X - Varg Utan Flock" and there's evidence of some strong songwriting skills and instrumentation prowess also.  It might not all fit together perfectly but what is pieced together well is really solid.

3 horns out 5.
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Seventh Wonder - New Album Details
After two singles – 2014’s poppy “inner Enemy” and the somewhat more straight-laced “The Promise” in 2016 – Swedish progressive metal maestros Seventh Wonder have recently announced their new album “Tiara”. The release is being mixed by Oyvind Larsen, the man responsible for mixing on the already-mentioned singles. The album has undergone mastering by Jens Bogren at Fascination Studios. Bogren has previously worked with other progressive metal stalwarts such as James Labrie, Katatonia, Opeth and Symphony X. ( Frontiers Records will oversee the worldwide release of the 13-track concept album, including as a double LP.

The band used the following lyrics in their promotion:

“’We've watched you since the dawn of time,
with every moment gone by.
A million suns fade and die,
this is the end?’
Beware, for they're coming..!”

These are presumably an allusion to alien forces, given the cosmic imagery. The precedent for a concept album about exists in the band’s widely-lauded “Mercy Falls”, and more within melodic progressive metal more generally, perhaps most notably in Evergrey’s “In Search of Truth”, which also concerned aliens and isolation. Musically it’s very much in keeping with the band’s tradition. From the promo, the work sounds rather more like “Mercy Falls” than the preceding “The Great Escape”. It’s less melodic (of course this should be taken with a grain of salt given the general character of their oeuvre) but slightly darker than their previous work.

From the musicianship I trust this will work; Anubis Gate attempted this in 2017 and failed, as did Adagio who despite employing the preeminent “dark prog” master Kelly Carpenter (Beyond Twilight, Darkology, Epysode, Outworld, Zierler) dropped their neoclassical edge and therefore their unique appeal. If anything it sounds like SW might be making the opposite ‘mistake’, but their style is developed enough that for them churning out the same stuff would be at least to my ears an entirely acceptable route.

The tracklist is unknown, but Seventh Wonder’s promo video can be found here:

 
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Summoning "With Doom We Come"
I call false album title.  There's no doom on here folks.  Any flare-wearing readers can stand down at this point of the review.  I imagine the doom aspect of the title refers to the medieval threat of some Tolkien inspired fictitious army that Summoning have kindly recorded a soundtrack for.  If you are familiar with Summoning there's little in the way of anything new here as the Austrians again bring their own brand of epic/atmospheric black metal to 2018.  I would be interested to know what @Requiem makes of it of course as I imagine this album could accompany many night of his sat at home alone playing Warhammer.  

The problem I have with "With Doom We Come" is that it doesn't really "go" anywhere.  It could quite easily all be one track with seven pauses given the sound and structure varies very little from track to track.  That is not to say it is a bad album, it just drips into the water without ever making a real "splosh" at any point.  There's the usual gruff vocal style and occasional chanting over keys galore whilst the guitar just sits in the corner with a tea and some crossword books to bide the time one presumes.

Sarcasm aside, fans of the band will like this albeit without any truly remarkable moments to cement it is a stand out album.  Usually, I can't sit and listen to Summoning without doing something else and this made a great accompaniment to some shelves I hung this morning, very rousing at times to the point of making me forget about my hangover altogether.  The atmospheric magic never really finds any identifiable peak though, beautiful though the record is at times nothing really stands out overall.

2.5 Horns out of 5 
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Amaranthe "Maximalism"
Sorry deathstorm, I don’t like it.

It took me a while to come round to Amaranthe. I first heard them when they were announced for the roster of ProgPower XIII and thought they sounded too poppy, sage musical critic that I was. I did entertain the idea that that was the entire point, but dismissed them as being too technically lacking in any case. Their second album, The Nexus, featuring the least inventive album art I’d seen in a while, was a marked improvement, with its title track nearly a total ripoff of the leading single from their self-titled debut but a demonstrably better take. Everything was more or less the same, just done right. The riffs were on point, there were a higher proportion of peppy bubblegum tracks that sounded like Cascada doing djent (or just a slightly less sugary Blood Stain Child) – it was their best album. They followed this up with Massive Addictive, a somewhat weaker but nonetheless slightly different album with a couple tracks that sounded like they could have been composed by MrWeebl. As far as third albums went, it wasn’t bad – and the slow songs were actually all rights, even on the acoustic versions. It was also a little closer to regular melodeath. That brings us to Maximalism.

In principle, the concept behind this album is fine. Amaranthe always imitated pop, so why not imitate current pop? It could inject some life into this worthless moribund slurry of pink noise that the post-Trump miasma has been nice enough to slowly excrete over this most recent tax period. I mean, the only way this would could fail is if modern pop were so limp-wristed and ineffectual that even the nuclear cocaine infusion of metal failed to resuscitate its bloated heart.

Whoops.

It’s fascinating how one can avoid actually discussing the album for so long here just because of the hilarious incidental commentary. All of the songs here a poppy in an obligatory sense, rather like the current generation of pop. I remember hating Ke$ha back in 2012 when she was big, but hearing “Tik Tok” after a bleak slog through a bunch of mopey nonsensical dogshit and limp-wristed soggy whining is a godsend. At best, Maximalism is a poor man’s version of their previous output, and at worst it’s an imitation of modern pop in the sense that you don’t remember anything about it other than that it sucked. Anyway, what about the actual songs?
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Electric Wizard "Wizard Bloody Wizard"
"Wizard Bloody Wizard" is like the lifting of a thick fog.  From the off there's a feel of a dense weight being lifted from the band's signature occult/stoner blend of doom.  By the time I get to track two "Necromania" things almost seem like a dark cock-rock affair which is odd.   The over-arching feel though is of a band who have gone off the boil somewhat.  Despite the aforementioned lifting of the heavy atmosphere "Wizard Bloody Wizard" seems more of ground out effort made under some duress resulting in the album being robbed in the main of any feel...
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Is Right Wing of The Garden Triptych by Cradle of Filth a reference to the painting Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
I am a huge Cradle of Filth fan and on the album Hammer of The Witches they have a song called Right Wing of The Garden Triptych and based on the lyrics I believe it is a reference to the painting Garden of Earthy Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. Does anyone know if this is true or not? 
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Metal Memes
I love a good meme. Here's a combination of some metal memes I've made and some faves of mine, too. 
Post / Make some of your faves.
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Cannibal Corpse "Red Before Black"
Whether you love or hate Cannibal Corpse, their penchant for churning out accessible, fun and consistent DM can't be denied. Yes when they suck they really do suck (Gallery of Suicide), but even if technically never more complicated than most Kinder egg toys there's always a familiarity to CC albums that appeals. I get those that hate that familiarity. If you prefer to become lost in a Portalesque vortex when enjoying your extreme metal then the obvious churn of CC won't be for you. However, for every complex and archaic DM record in my collection I like to have a fair amount of surety too (someone will be along in a minute to replace "surety" with "safety" no doubt) and "Red Before Black" is as familiar to me after a few listens as most of the band's previous output...
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Post in Metal Memes
Post in Metal Memes
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Blut Aus Nord "Deus Salutis Meæ"
Like some journey whilst blindfolded and hogtied in the trunk of a kidnapper's car, you never quite know where you'll end up with Blut Aus Nord.  The blend of near poetic melody contrasted with their harsh industrial leanings and complimentary darkest of ambience across their discography can leave the average metalhead spinning on their metallic shoulders.  Counter-intuitively you end up waiting for the next change, chop, turn or trick whenever you listen to anything new by BAN and this almost starts to detract from the experience as you wait like some cowering wreck for the sucker-punch to arrive.

 
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Chelsea Wolfe "Hiss Spun"
Shut up, just shut up any naysayers out there already reading this going "Urgh, that's not a metal album and you can't review a non-metal album on a metal forum because it isn't HEAVY FUCKING METAL DUDE!"  I have a Masters degree in pissing on other people's chips and so no amount of brandishing your "metul blud" at me will make me not do this.  You frankly have more chance of setting up a successful business in North Korea selling BBQ's and Rimmel products (DISCLAIMER -other expensive face paint is also available).

Chelsea Wolfe does sound like the name of a lawyer who fights cases for poor people against big multi-national corporations and donates her fee to Greenpeace upon successful prosecution of organisations more complex and shady than any John Grisham novel could dream of.  Thankfully, Ms Wolfe does not have any career in law and has instead dedicated her life to the ethereal, industrial, alt-grunge/death/dark rock stream of odd music to play at parties to make everyone leave early.


Madder than a box of frogs and more cooky than Cooky McCooky Cooky  from the village of Cookyville, Wolfe once again spreads her virulent strain of poignant, emotive and melancholic vocals  to a soundtrack with more clatter, rattle and intensity than a most soup kitchens see in a month.  There's real pain here and thankfully it is measured superbly as it shifts form with each track, ranging from floaty, pop infused melodies through to harsh, industrial drone and onto reverb drenched grungey rock to boot.

When you have a voice more haunting than the average mother-in-law's face you could quite easily rest on it as your main "thang!" and let the rest of the instrumentation, structure and form go to shit.  Not Chelsea Wolfe!  She is to music what Steven Seagal is to Martial Arts - fat, orange and dangerous!  No, I mean dangerous, edgy and unpredictable and this spreads throughout "Hiss Spun" as some tracks are accessible within a couple of bars and others are real slow burners that build into dark and solid forms of undulating, uncompromising and at times disturbing structure.

Check out, "Static Hum" for its use of the guitar to maul and taunt the vocals as the track builds and builds.  Better still the well paced structure and subtle shifts of percussion that represent "The Culling" or the meandering, fractured and disjointed guitar style present on "16 Psyche".  All are examples of the true talent of the lady herself and the musicians she surrounds herself with. 

It isn't flawless though.  Although I like them, the industrial/noise/dark ambient interludes that occur seem misplaced almost and some tracks ("Particle Flurry") are frankly directionless.  I don't see "Hiss Spun" making many appearances on the turntable but it is most definitely a record that requires exploration as opposed to just a listen as background music, whenever it does get a play.  
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What is Metal Music? I'm looking for a paragraph and a more scientific as opposed to philosophical answer please!
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The King Is Blind "We Are the Parasite, We Are the Cancer"
Essex, England is famous on Brit TV for reality TV shows portraying residents of the county as being sufficiently lacking in educational merit to be able to answer pressing questions like, "Which way is up?" without a significant pause for thought.  Whilst the British TV watching public clearly enjoy watching the blissful ignorance of the beautiful but frankly thick as pigshit youth of Essex, the same masses are no doubt equally blissfully unaware of the mighty monolith of metal that is The King Is Blind who hark from that very same part of the world....
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Black metal is the snow-covered forest at sunset; the full moon glimpsed through jagged trees; the candle that flickers in ghost winds; the indelible emptiness of the lonely human soul that cries out to empty skies.
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Review - "Hyaena" by Sadist
I’ve been watching a bunch of nature documentaries recently. Dangerous animals only, for the most part, because I refuse to devote an hour of my life watching turtles mosey around the deep blue. Additionally, I’ve sought out very in-depth material so I can appreciate the animal being analyzed. As a result I’ve been able to watch a decent amount of material closely scrutinizing the habits of predators, and that’s given me a particularly good context for understanding Sadist’s 2015 album “Hyena”.

This album is intended to track the habits of a hyena. Seems a bit on the nose, but bear with me; the album’s style is important. The album takes the listener on a markedly violent safari in an open-top jeep. Feel the wind in your hair, enjoy the natural splendor of the savannah, watch some animals murder and/or eat each other. Bring along some Mango Jive but for goodness sake leave your droewors back at the hut. Musically, as far as the metal goes – it’s a technical death/thrash album with the ferocity of the latter and the substance of the former. The vocals are higher-pitched snarls, characteristic of Sadist and perfect for the concept; in fact the entire production isolates the smooth bass to allow for moodier lines from said instrument.

I’ve always noticed that in the grand sweep of folk metal African music usually gets left out. Makes some sense – I’ve heard quite a lot of traditional African music and it’s way too happy and tropical. Then again, Dan Swano, Skindred and even Equilibrium have managed to make Caribbean music work in metal, so it’s not impossible. The next best thing is something thematically evocative, which is what “Hyena” represents. It’s not perfect; Sadist could have paced out the textures better and deepened the nature sounds, perhaps taking influence from the largely untouchable Russo-Finnish metal masters Second To Sun. That being said, it’s a one-of-a-kind work and Sadist deserves credit for taking their vicious brand of tech-death on a sun-bleached adventure into the wild.
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