Category Archives: Metal

Twilightfall

energyofcover1The Energy of Soul by Twilightfall (Svarga Music)

Twilightfall is a melodic death metal collective based out of the Ukraine, featuring a former member of the notorious Nokturnal Mortum within their ranks. Guitarist / vocalist Wortherax played lead guitar on Nokturnal Mortum’s legendary Lunar Poetry and Twilightfall releases and has made appearances in noted Ukrainian bands such as Munruthel and Khors.  Fans of old school In Flames and Children Of Bodom will be thoroughly enraptured by the dynamic compositions Twlightfall has to bestow to the world. The Energy of Soul is the triumphant debut for Twilightfall – a stunning collection of songs that will envelope your senses with it’s heavy yet majestic reprieves.

The magnum opus rages into supersonic gear with the staggering title cut The Energy of Soul, demonstrating at once the supreme musicianship to found within the Twilightfall experience. Spirits of Ancestors is spiraling and mystical, weaving intrigue throughout the powerful European death metal soundscapes. A Mirror of Dreams and Reality continues the spellbinding odyssey followed by the epic sonic declarations to be discovered within Welcome To New Day.

twilightfallphoto1Your Chance will make the listener want to wave their fists in the air and jump into the nearest mosh pit. Go A Long Way To Each will haunt the senses with its gorgeous serenity merging into a sweeping wall of intensive sound. The grand finale then commences with the magnificent Storm leaving a lasting impression upon all heavy metal adventurers.

The musicians who present the Twilightfall manifesto include the aforementioned Wortherax on guitars and vocals, Aywar on guitars, Odalv on drums, and Freyr on bass. Svarga Music may also be counted upon to present the very best in extreme metal from the Ukraine, and with The Energy of Sound by Twilightfall, the label has issued a genre classic that many will wish to revisit throughout the grand and glorious metal ages ahead.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Zgard

contemplation1Contemplation by Zgard (Svarga Music)

There’s black metal, there’s Pagan metal, there’s epic metal – and then there’s the grand and majestic tapestries of the mighty Zgard -combining the three influences, coming up with a masterwork that is absolutely stunning to behold.  Contemplation is the fourth magnum opus presented by Zgard from the mystical and troubled Ukraine, seven absolutely visionary tracks that will set your imagination in flight. Yaromisl is the mastermind behind Zgard, and the compositions he has bestowed upon the world at large present a thrilling auditory odyssey that you’ll want to revisit time and again.

After the freezing winds and haunting chants prepare you for the sonic perils ahead, Contemplation opens with the gigantic refrains of Highlands, enrapturing the listener with its sheer magnificence and vibrancy. It is then time to ring the Underworld Bells, a sweeping track that will transport you to the darkest of places with its absolutely cinematic refrains.

zgard2014_1The title track Contemplation is then unveiled, a staggering epic where spoken word and intensive vocals are mixed with a mesmerizing wall of sound. Wedge Of Cranes soars into the stratosphere with its captivating sense of intrigue, complete with thunderous guitars and assorted exotic instruments.

An ominous reprieve is then found within Silence, an instrumental piece demonstrating an ambient side to the Zgard experience. Incarnation Memory then places the metal into overdrive, where bombastic choirs, impassioned vocals, and even more folk instruments render this track a celebrated standout. And then closing out the spellbinding journey is Through The Forest, commanding and ambitious in scope, showing a true artist at the very height of his creative prowess.

One of the most exciting entities within the Ukrainian metal scene and beyond, Zgard is sure to fascinate music aficionados all across the world with the splendid Contemplation. An underground classic of epic proportions, Contemplation is sure to wind up on more than a few Top Ten lists when 2014 spins to its conclusion, It will be exciting to see what adventures Yaromisl and Zgard has in store for us all next…

(Review by Ken Morton)

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ACCU§ER

Who Dominates Who? 2014 cover art

Who Dominates Who? 2014 cover art

Who Dominates Who? (2014 version) by ACCU§ER (Red Shift Records)

The triumphant comeback for the mighty thrash metal collective ACCU§ER continues to rage on with an all-out vengeance. And now, we look to the days of the past – 25 years ago to be exact – the underground classic Who Dominates Who? was originally unleashed in 1989 – and remains highly regarded as crucial thrash metal. In modern day 2014, the German ACCU§ER has chosen to re-issue Who Dominates Who? on this significant anniversary – and not only did they remix the original recording – but they revisited each of the songs, presenting all new versions that are wondrous to behold. So we have both editions of Who Dominates Who? in one single package – rendering this one absolutely required listening for all thrash metal connoisseurs looking for a collectable they’ll want to replay time and again.

Who Dominates Who? 1989 cover art

Who Dominates Who? 1989 cover art

Two of ACCU§ER’s very best are featured on this special release – the relentless Master Of Disaster and the scathing Who Pulls The Wire? remain two of the most compelling tunes the genre has to offer, and in a remarkable contrast, both versions dazzle the senses with their vibrant intensity. Another grand standout is the driving Bastard, heading straight at the listener causing a sonic version of blunt force trauma. Comparing all 9 tracks both old and new is pretty exciting, resulting in an exhilarating auditory experience that is not to be missed!

accuser1The combustible new version of Who Dominates Who? has been newly recorded by the current line-up with producer Martin Buchwalter (Destruction, Suidakra, Perzonal War) at the helm. This is the chance for fans to get the songs with Frank Thoms on vocals, who was the guitarist on the original album. Included in the release is the old as well as new artwork, rendering this double CD a must have for thrash metal fans all across the world. Be sure to check into this, and the many other ACCU§ER releases, and get ready to bang your head into the realms of oblivion and beyond.

The 21 Century ACCU§ER assault force consists of Frank Thoms on vocals and guitar, Dennis Rybakowski on guitar, Frank Kimpelon bass, and Oliver Fechner on drums. Here’s hoping the mighty ACCU§ER make their way to their States one day!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Fallujah

fallujahcd2The Flesh Prevails by Fallujah (Unique Leader Records)

An absolutely staggering work of magnificent artistry and sheer ambition, The Flesh Prevails by Fallujah unleashes death metal at its most devastating. Atmospheric and enigmatic, The Flesh Prevails is an all-out epic – a grand assault to the senses that will leave the serious music aficionado wanting to experience a whole lot more. The follow-up to their well-received debut Harvest Wounds, The Flesh Prevails is a blistering triumph that should place Fallujah firmly within the ranks of the metal elite. The controlled instrumental chaos and scathing vocal attack are wondrous to behold, sending all nine of the tracks soaring into the stratosphere.

fallujah2014_2The fantastic journey commences with the dazzling Starlit Path, where an ominous overture explodes into a tirade of progressive madness and intrigue. Carved From Stone then slams through your psyche with its ferocious reprieves and unforgiving atmospherics. The Night Reveals is spiraling and technical, with searing vocals and superb musicianship from all sonic Fallujah travelers.

Title track The Flesh Prevails is mostly instrumental, derived from the most threatening of dreams, followed by the relentless pummeling of the mesmerizing Levitation. Alone With You serves as a diabolically sensual overture to the gorgeously lethal soundscapes of Allure. And then the final compositions Sapphire and Chemical Cave demonstrate a band at the very height of their creative prowess – a thunderous one-two punch of massive proportions that is nothing short of astounding.

Based out of the wildly diverse San Francisco music scene, the sonic jihad known as Fallujah consists of Alex Hofmann on vocals, Scott Carstairs on guitars, Brian James on guitars, Robert Morey on bass, and Andrew Baird on drums. Currently on the Summer Slaughter Tour supporting none other than Morbid Angel and Dying Fetus, Fallujah is destined to leave their mark on metalheads all across the country, and are imaginative enough to appeal to an even wider audience.   An exciting collective we are sure to hear a lot more in the months ahead, Fallujah and their compelling symphonies of the extreme are not to be missed!

(Review by Ken Morton)

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War Of Ages

surpremechaos2Supreme Chaos by War Of Ages (Facedown Records)

It’s been ten years since their Independent debut Unite Us All was presented upon the world at large, and since that time, War Of Ages has certainly made a name for themselves within the Christian metal market and beyond. Their Self-Titled album was released on Strike First Records in 2005 – shortly thereafter, they graduated to Facedown, and together, band and label has left an indelible impression upon the music world. Supreme Chaos is the sixth magnum opus for War Of Ages, and is destined to be known as a defining moment in their already impressive discography. Featuring powerful lyrical content and vibrant anthem-like melodies that will make you want to shake your fists triumphantly in the air, Supreme Chaos showsWar Of Ages in their finest hour. Expect this one to break it on out in a celebrated way, especially if the ten songs contained within are indicative of the sweeping glories ahead.

warofages2014“I will stand by your side” is the opening proclamation of From Ashes, the inspiring first cut from Supreme Chaos – this track alone will make the listener want to take on the world while singing along to its striking reprieves. “We are the face of a generation broken” then cries out Lost In Apathy, whose potent lyrics and dynamic choruses render this one a standout. Doomsday shows a sweeping diversity that is sure to thrill listeners – an ambitious, melodic songs that soars deep into your senses.

Chaos Theory furthers the War Of Ages journey into the darkness of the human psyche, followed by the massively potent strains of the wondrous Lionheart. On Broken Wings absolutely ascends with its spiraling soundscapes and impassioned vocals, followed by the infinitely moving Amber Alert.

Renegade possesses towering guitar interludes that will dazzle the ears. “I gave her everything, swallowed in hate that I created,” is the stark confession to be found within Ecstacy. And then closing out Supreme Chaos is Still Small Voice, a thrashing testament to faith and conviction mixing in the very best of the old and new school War Of Ages.

Powerhouse performance are delivered tenfold from the metal brigade known as War Of Ages – amongst the ranking members are Leroy Hamp on vocals, Steve Brown on guitar, Jack Daniels on guitar, Elisha Mullins on bass, and Alex Hamp on drums. The visionary Supreme Chaos was recorded with Josh Barber at Covenant Studios (Norma Jean, EISM) and mixed by Will Putney (Impending Doom, For Today). Supreme Chaos is a landmark work that should reverberate through the hearts and minds of all metal connoisseurs looking for an inspirational adventure in sound.  Featuring the stellar artwork of the one and only Dave Quiggle.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Romuvos

romuvos1_400x400Romuvan Dainas by Romuvos (No Colours Records)

No Colours Records is an absolute legend in the underground metal arena, with such notable acts as Graveland and Nargaroth on their distinguished rooster (as well as releasing Dimmu Borgir’s landmark debut album For All Tid). Their releases are pure adventures in sound, and Romuvan Dainas by Romuvos is a stunning addition to their already impressive catalog.  The mastermind behind Romuvos is Vilnius, presenting imaginative tales from the days of knighthood and other bewitching Pagan subjects.  While Viking-era Bathory and latter day Falkenbach may be cited as references, Velnias weaves his own mystical sound into the proceedings, and the results are phenomenally breathtaking.  As a background to the band’s moniker, “romuva” means reviving the religious practices and pagan traditions of the Lithuanians and Baltic people before the plague commonly known as Christianity.

romuvos2The glorious epic commences with the sweeping reveries of Under The Glaciers Of Baltijos enveloping the  atmosphere with its triumphant reprieves.  Beyond The Gates Of Ouroboros continues the passage into another time, featuring intriguing soundscapes and melancholic vocals. Thy Glory And Might Thus We Shal Stand begins with a calming overture before exploding into a majestic odyssey of epic proportions. Poems For The Dead is a vibrant tribute to those who have passed on – a beautifully hypnotic masterwork that makes you want to take on the world at large.

Sailing Far Away From Shores Of Men starts the voyage with a calming interlude before the acoustic guitars and multilayered vocals transport this one into a hymn for the ages. Inside The Lake is sorrowful and enigmatic, like one of those songs spun around the fire that will linger deep within your soul for an eternity.  Egle- The Queen Of Serpents is another highlight with its darkly enchanted lyrics and slithering melodies leaving an indelible impression – definitely showcasing Velnias gift for telling an unforgettable story in song. And then closing out the journey on a mystical note is the title cut Romuvan Dainas, opening with vocals and percussion and then sweeping the listener into a euphoric state of sonic bliss.

Romuvan Dainas by Romuvos is a thrilling debut that music aficionados all across the world will want to experience time and again. There is no screaming or growling, and yet the compositions retain a thrilling intensity and vibrant timelessness that will captivate the senses of all valiant types willing to give a listen. It will be exciting to witness the next gripping chapter Velnias presents with the magnificent Romuvos.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Rippikoulu

Rippicd1Ulvaja by Rippikoulu (Svart Records)

The prodigious Rippikoulu from Finland has been deathly silent since the 90’s, when they released two demos that shot them into an underground legend status. It’s been 21 years, but now Rippikoulu has been gloriously unearthed, and the results are absolutely staggering in scope. This is doom metal of the highest order, relentlessly bleak and morbidly beautiful. Ulvaja may only be three deep cuts of obscure melancholy running a total of 18 minutes in length, but the splendor found within these breathtaking masterworks is wondrous to behold. Available worldwide via Svart Records, Ulvaja is ready to darken your doorstop with their foreboding hymns for the depths of your tormented soul.

The lifeless rivers of time overflow with a slow, harrowing vengeance, as Jää Hyvästi Kaunis Kesä plagues your consciousness with its reveries of haunting despair. The interlude Loputon marches through your world with a diabolical sense of urgency – mixing in black metal artistry with all things vast and doomy. Then the grand title track Ulvaja infects the entrails of your mind, where the tortured growls are superbly mixed with an otherworldly female vocal. The final tapestry is austere and exquisite, with atmospheres that will linger within your blackened heart for the metal ages to come.

The only grievance I dare register against this stunning masterpiece is that it ends way too soon! Let’s hope it’s not another 20 years before we hear from the likes of Rippikoulu again. Those looking for an auditory adventure into the realms of depressive madness must wander through the somber halls of Ulvaja by Rippikoulu. According the Encyclopedia Metallium, the skillful maestros behind Rippikoulu consists of Anssi Kartela on vocals, Olli V. on guitars, Janne Ruohonen on bass, and Toni Valtanen on drums.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Meshuggah 25th Anniversary Tour

SONY DSCMeshuggah at The Wiltern Theater, June 6, 2014

To celebrate 25 years of busting eardrums, the mighty Meshuggah took to the road, stopping off at the Wiltern Theater in June to start the summer heat wave early.  With Geiger-esque artwork displayed behind them and a light show that blinded the eyes, putting the band in perpetual silhouette, Meshuggah ran through their catalog of mind-melting metal for a brutal 100 minute set.

Meshuggah kicked off the show with Tomas Haake pummelling his drums while lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström and bassist Dick Lövgren pounded on their guitar strings for Future Breed Machine. The fury and power they displayed from the get-go got the mosh pit moving and necks snapping.  Jens Kidman, the only one on stage to move around, bellowed and yelled at the top of his lungs, and while the lyrics were undecipherable, his passion was certainly evident.  Meshuggah are known for their  constantly evolving style, focusing on grooving rhythms flowing into hard riffed passages leading into more abstract sections featuring Thordendal’s stunning displays of guitar abuse and beautiful virtuosity.  The title track from Obzen followed, keeping the energy going, with stunning guitar interplay towards the end.

SONY DSCTheir latest album Koloss was most heavily featured in the set, the first of four songs was the hardcore hurricane of The Hurt that Finds You First, with a breakneck beat and ear-numbing growls from Kidman, bass guitar bends from Lovgren and an epic yet subtle guitar solo from Thordendal.  Do Not Look Down, also from  Koloss, was one of the most accessible songs of the night with a razor sharp focus on groove and finger-shredding guitar solos.  Cadaverous Mastication from their first album Contradictions Collapse in 1991 showed the band’s beginnings in the Thrash Metal vein, with more traditional arrangements, yet with an air of larger things to come in their varied tempos and dichotomy of ugly noise and beautiful guitar soloing.

Gods of Rapture brought the show to an even higher level of tension with Thordendal and Hagstrom in lock-step with the rhythm section from the start, Kidman belting out his lyrics in hardcore fashion, threatening to be understandable, but Meshuggah can’t seem to stick with a tempo or rhythm, soon shifting into a jazz-fusion mode, Thordendal ‘s melodic soloing would make Joe Satriani proud and he put some warmth into the otherwise mechanical playing of the rest of the song.

After much more eardrum damage occurred, Meshuggah sped up our hearts even more with the speed metal pace of Bleed from Obzen, causing heads to bang harder and feet to move, the band kept the tempo for the majority of the song, with a few additions of subtle lead guitar parts to break up the tension the slightest bit. Then the band drops out, leaving just a creepy quiet guitar line before the rest of the band jumps back in, this time with a more powerful melodic guitar lead accompanied by chugging guitars and well-paced percussion.

Meshuggah finished the main set with Straws Pulled at Random, from 2001′s Nothing, full of cymbal crashes and right-angled tempo and rhythm changes that while chaotic was still stunning to behold.

While the audience chanted “Meh-Shuh-GAH!” I took a moment to gather my wits, take a few deep breathes and ready myself for the sure-to-be insane encore.  While we waited, Catch 33‘s spoken word and noise poem Mind’s Mirror played over the speakers.  The band returned to kick our asses all over the Wiltern with In Death – is Life and In Death  – is Death, two connected tracks of barely controlled chaos, guitar pyrotechnics, buzzing bass and quieter, spooky atonal passages.

As the bright lights blazed our corneas and we pounded our strife and hatred into the floor, Meshuggah left us with energy spent, sweat soaked and brain rattled, not sure of what tomorrow might bring but strong enough to meet it head on.  If you can survive the metal massacre that is Meshuggah you can take on the world.

(Photos and review by Bret Miller)

LINKS:
Official Website
Nuclear Blast USA
Facebook
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Taatsi

taatsiseason1Season of Sacrifice by Taatsi (Forever Plagued Records)

Although Season of Sacrifice by Taatsi contains only two songs total at just under 10 minutes, fans of collectives such as Falkenbach and Summoning will surely uncover an auditory treasure for the grim and glorious ages. Hailing from the wilds of Finland, Taatsi will captivate the senses with their inspiring black metal hymns. Possessing a good deal of promise and intrigue, the two tracks found within will surely linger within the listener and leave you wanting to experience a whole lot more.

The title cut Season of Sacrifice is up first, epic in scope – a mystical journey through the icy forests, weaving its magical spell with a vibrant intensity. Cult of the Northstar then commences with an acoustic interlude and the howling of wolves before exploding into a wall of majestic sound. The two inspiring tracks end way too soon, but are well worth going to the ends of earth to seek out.

A special collector’s cassette edition is now available through Forever Plagued Records, limited to 200 hand-numbered copies. You may also find this truly exquisite masterwork on Bandcamp. Taatsi is on the verge of announcing the release of a full-length recording – and judging by the mesmerizing work found within Season of Sacrifice, this forthcoming album is sure to be a genre classic.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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Funereal Presence

funerealcdThe Archer Takes Aim by Funereal Presence (The Ajna Offensive)

Funereal Presence is the solo project of Negative Plane drummer Bestial Devotion – a black metal manifesto whose foreboding reveries are absolutely breath-taking. Comparisons to acts such as Burzum and Xasthur may result, but Funereal Presence is within its own desolate league, creating masterworks that will tantalize the senses. The Archer Takes Aim is the glorious debut from the New York-based Funereal Presence – four cuts of auditory devastation that will maintain your undivided attention throughout its entire length.

funerealcd3The disc opens with the grandiose strains of The Tower Falls, a mighty commencement that is staggering to behold. The vocals alternative between the harrowing growls to chilling clean vocals, mixed with shoegaze guitars, thriving blast beats and otherworldly chimes – a remarkable achievement to be sure – and that’s only the first track.

Gestalt des Endes is up next, scathing and confrontational in scope, an ambitious effort at a mighty 16-plus minutes. This cut is a phenomenal magnum opus that could be the soundtrack to your most tormenting of nightmares. The vocal work bleeds through venomously, the chants and screams searing a hole deep into your consciousness.

A burning church organ from the bowels of hell opens the title cut The Archer Takes Aims, before slamming into a relentless barrage of euphoric madness. Dämmerlicht closes out the grim meanderings, an instrumental assault that will leave you feeling both melancholic and restless.

The Archer Takes Aim by Funereal Presence is USBM in its finest hour – a thoroughly stunning work that should appeal to black metal purists as well as others wishing to discover a truly intriguing collection of dark artistry.

(Review by Ken Morton)

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