ANAAL NATHRAKH "Desideratum" (Metal Blade) 0/10
This is industrial Black Metal. It really sucks.
Ancient Wisdom "Sacrificial" 8/10
This is a combination of I guess Gothic Rock and perhaps a softer doom. Pagan Altar comes to mind in terms of the combination of a folk atmosphere with gothic doom sections and restrained but solid riffs. Not many solos, so don't expect any of those.
The vocal melody drives the songs clearly, it's not about huge guitars here. I actually like this because it's not trying to be "extreme" it's just rocking and well put together. Alice in Chains anyone? It's kinda in that category. Real sad but kinda pop-ish. Not as heavy though. And no solos (but this has other things going on).
I like the understated quality of this, but it's hard to say it "kicks ass" upon first listen. But clearly this band has worked on its sound for some time and i'd advise checking em out if you just want some good original "dark rock."
Atriarch "An Unending Pathway" (Relapse) 7/10
I saw this band years ago in some small club in San Francisco. They had a heavy atmosphere and sound. The singer does this Tuvan throat thing which is very cool for like 10 minutes. I think they burn incense and shit to make the environment all "cult." After that I start wanting riffs. These guys like to wait a long time though, to build up a dark feeling before they start "rocking." That's exactly how this album begins. It never quite delivers the "sabbath riff" I wann hear though.
So once the shit inevitably hits the fan, what do we have? Mostly obscure doom with lots of dead noise floating around. The singer rambles in a kinda Jim Morrison/Peter Murphy kinda way. I think he's trying to conjure some ghosts up or something, which I'm certainly in support of! His voices range from gothic moans to more black/death style, but it's all over the map the whole time.
This is very atmosphere oriented and gets monotonous. But I think that is the point. To get the whole "trance" thing going. What's interesting about these guys is it's not one specific sound. It's fairly original and is pretty cool at times. It seems most comfortable at a Doom/Goth area. It tries to be black or death at times, but this feels a little more forced and thrown in. But I salute the attempt, as it's not entirely bad.
Worth checking out. Is is brilliant? Very hard to tell without a few more listens. But it certainly rises above most bands swimming in the sea of artsy doom/noise (of which there is a tremendous amount of - and it's mostly forgettable.)
Execration "Morbid Dimensions" (Hells Hedbangers) 9/10
This is some very excellent, raw Death Metal. Quite original, and way more atmospheric that you'd expect. It's kinda like a combinaton of early Paradise Lost, Obituary, and perhaps a touch of shit, I dunno...early Gorguts.
Put it this way - it's well produced, but way more raw and listenable than most modern Death Metal. The feeling is almost closer to obscure Black Metal. Very doom at times, but without the usual thick production you'd expect. Which just makes it that much more interesting.
A very good obscure treat if you are tired of the same old Death and need a fresh injection!
Nunslaughter/Perversor (Split 7") (Hells Headbangers)
9/10 Nunslaughter/Witchtrap (another split 7") 9/10
Fuck, Nunslaughter has got to be close to breaking some sort of record (pun intended) for all the fukking 7" and splits they been on! These 2 happen to be with 2 killer South American bands.
The Nunslaughter tracks on the first 7" are well recorded. Very clear, more of a thrash production. Like a more raw version of Carcass' last release. The vocals are kinda Jeff Walkerish too. Musically it's the usual dependably classic Death metal with a solid foundation in old school Thrash education.
Perversor has a really brutal sound. And I don;t mean the sound - the energy is just very heavy. The singer is quite dark sounding (in the evil sense). Very good, thrash tempo, old school RAW Brazilian Death metal. Like the early Sepultura shit. I hate to say it, but Perversor kinda outshines Nunslaughter here with their sheer brutality. The riffs are more sketchy too. Fuckin killer! Sounds like old Morbid Angel at times. Perverson - fuck, check these fucks out asap!
The 2nd split is a bit more aggressive in terms of Nunslaughter's performance. Kinda reminds me of old Exhumed. Or maybe it's the other way around? This is real killer old school Death Thrash. Some very headbanging riffs here! OLD OLD OLDSCHOOL all the way...I will see Nunslaughter anytime they come into town. They are a band that keeps the fukking fires burning!
Witchtrap - well they are one of the best bands to come out of South America as far as Thrash goes. Really awesome early Kreator influence is all over this. These guys simply kick fucking ass. All I can really say is if you want some good modern thrash this is where you look. Some nice wailing solos here and there, but mainly just killer fast riffs and unrelenting vokills. They are awesome live too if you ever see them coming to town, DO NOT MISS IT.
Orange Goblin "Back from the Abyss" (Candlelight Records) 4/10
I know this band's been at it a while because back in 2000 or something I used to work with the chick that posed on this bands early album cover. I don't remember much about the band, other than they were in the "stoner rock" category.
Anyhow, the singer sounds like he's from the 70s or something. Kinda like the Molly Hatchet guy. I guess it's like Black Label Society if they didn't completely suck. It's got the retro thing, rockin riffs, and very few guitar solos. Mostly just rocks at a kinda mid pace with vaguely lame bluesy 3rd rate Thin Lizzy riffs.
I feel like I should "stay stone free" and wear a headband, get on my harley, and wear an Orange Goblin patch on my back right now. But there's no fucking way in hell I'm gonna do that because being a better version of Black Label Society is not really a compliment. Although if I heard this in the mid 90s I probably woulda loved it. The problem is, it needs more Saxon and less Black Label Society. Come on UK, wtf happened to you?
I gave Shadow over Innsmouth extra attention because I am a Lovecraft fan. It's a really lame instrumental that could been on Metallica's "LOAD" album.
Today is the Day "Animal Mother" (Southern Lord) 4/10
I remember this band from the 90s. I dubbed them in my mind "the short haired band that opens for Death Metal bands." I know, I'm such an asshole right? Well look - the music was very bland and I musta saw them like 3 or 4 times. They were ALWAYS underwealming...anyway, I guess they went away and then came back (yay).
This is kinda like a more riffy, doomier version of Neurosis. Which sounds like it would be a really amazing thing. But unfortunately, it isn't. This is the same bland forgettable shit they were doing 15 years ago. I would describe it if anything jumped out - but nothing does. It's just totally utterly boring and goes nowhere. Yeah, it's heavy I'll give it that. But ya need more than just "heavy." How about, I dunno...a FUCKING GUITAR SOLO???