Bombs of Hades "The Serpent's Redemption"
Boring mid tempo crusty death metal. It may be Swedish, but not everything Sweden shits is gold. The bio says they used to be "gristly crustpunk" but went Death metal while retaining the "d-beat/crust" vibe. Why is this story sounding so familiar? It's almost like they planned it that way just so they could say it in the bio. This whole "we used to be punk/crust" thing is becoming a cliche. I mean if you like crust/punk so much then go play some crust/punk, ya know? Leave Death Metal to the people who can actually play it without worrying how many crusty punks like it or not! Anyway...You're better off with some old Carcass or Death Breath than this 3rd rate stuff. But if ya just like anything from Scandanavia with a black and white logo in the Discharge font then knock yourself out.
Crypt of Kerberos "World of Myths"
This is a re-issue originally released in 1993. This is a worthy re-issue and I am very glad this was done because wha I am hearing right now is top notch Swedish Death Metal with a technical progressive edge which never falls into "wank land." The sound is a little cleaner than the typical Swedish Death Metal of the 90s, and the band clearly sought to destinguish themselves from the pack. I love the primitive vibe here. There is so much technical death metal these days and they all have the same overly polished sound. Crypt of Kerreros reminds me of a time when this music was still exciting, new, and ground breaking. Highly recommended.
Ensiferum "Unsung Heroes" (Spinefarm)
As expected, this album begins sounding like the movie Lord of the Rings' opening credits. Once the obligatory intro is over, we launch straight into epic blackish folk metal - with some nice church choir and keys to give the whole folkish feel. This is rediculous, but it's a good rediculous. Especially when the chorus is "In My Sword I trust." I can get on that chariot. And I will. At times this reminds me of the great Falkenbach - but the music doesn't quite sound complete with growling vocals here. This is very melodic music which screams for melodic vocals, yet desperately wants to remain in "blackened" territory for some inane reason. Musically, this is very rich and loaded with epic midaeval feeling. The choruses are WAY over the top. I mean we're talking FULL vocal choir, with guitars, keys, and growls almost all simultaneously. Then we get the dramatic "shift" into the quiet pan flute section. This is where Frodo Baggins is staring up at Mordor from Elrond's palace and thinking "oh how will I ever destroy this accursed ring? Oh why me!" DO I need to continue? Fucking Dark Crystal, maybe some Conan the Barbarian, lots of Lord of the Rings, and some good old fashioned European folk metal guitar work - a few fancy folk instruments thrown in. I mean, this is "folking" paradise! You want folk? You got it. Not the silly "beer drinking" type though, this is "take up your swords and fight for the honour of thy land" style. No beer or humor till the battle is won!
Haarp "Husks" (Housecore)
Housecore is Phil Anselmo's label. I know he's into sludge, so I was not surprised at all when this meaty sack of shit plowed out from my speakers and covered my entire room in philthy excriment from the bowels of New orleans. Singer's got a good growl. Definitely got some character and isn't just the generic "crusty vocals" that have been way too prevalant the past 10 years or so in the "underground." This is very heavy but musically you can tell there was care taken in the recording and song construction. Pretty Neurosis influenced. Nice moody vibe...I don't know what else to say, because there are for sure a million bands putting stuff out like this - but it simply stands out from the heap. Music is uncharacteristically sophisicated, but not in an obvious way. But these guitarists know what they are doing. These are not mindless meth-heads banging away. Overall this recording just succeeds on more levels than the average sludge band usually does. Pretty good shit. I dig the animal song titles too.
Khors "Wisdom of Centuries" (Candlelight)
Trippy sounding black death metal with a very big sound. They sum it up themselves pretty well with the song title "Where the grandeur of Mountains Embraces the Space." I'm not sure what their point is - but it's big n heavy n scary. Some nice sounds pop out here and there. Like I said, it's trippy. More eccentric than your average band of this type, it's not some carbon copy band. It's not amazing, but it's a worthy listen and a bit original is their Ukrainian sorta way.
Phobia "Remnants of Filth" (Willowtip)
My memory of this band always goes back to the late 90s when I saw them at gilman in Berkeley. They had this awesome raw brutal underground quality that really impressed me. It was one of the first "blast beat" punk/crusty/grind/power violence bands I remember liking. Anyhow, what I hear now is pretty much more of the same. It's real brutal and fast. Production is very good, but Phobia has managed to retain that underground feel I'd say. For me this kind of music does get old after a while, and I find it pretty interesting when a band can maintain such entheusiasm with it for so many years. Not so much what I am into anymore, but when I am in the mood for it, this is how I like it to sound. Perhaps a little dirtier guitars would be nice, but live I am sure this band still delivers the goods. Fuckin nice drumming by the way.
Swallow the Sun "Emerald Forest and the Blackbird" (Spinefarm)
Atmospheric dirge music. It's not real heavy sound wise - it's more of a layering wall of sound effect. The clean vocals remind me of Ihsahn or some other Euro "black metal gone soft" outfit. The music and vibe are very mellow dramatic in an almost gothic sort of way, but with growling vocals mixed in. There are some cool unexpected parts here and there, but most of the songs shift repeatedly from soft and somber to heavy and somber. But again, it's less riffy and more of a wash of sound. It drones on after a while and gets kinda boring. The only thing that saves it is the slight euro eccentric edge it has every once in a while. I guess this band is on tour with Kreator and Accept - I predict people will be yawning big time when this band plays. I know I will.
Reverence "Asthenic Ascention" (Candlelight)
Wow, that's pretty fucked up. Very discordant in a Blut Aud Nord kinda way. Mostly goes for the "living nightmare" sorta feel. Not a real happy place to be. Some nice fucked up drum work. I don't know where to start...there's cool time changes, some good blasts from out of nowhere, and lots of cool dynamics. Killer sound and very compeent playing. Some nice hell choir vocals. Kinda psychotic sounding. A good album to lose your mind to.
Sons of Tonatiuh "Parade of Sorrow" (Hydro-phonic)
A descent Eyehategod clone.
Vision Divine "Destinaion Set to Nowhere" (Armoury Records)
The introduction to this CD sounds like some Italian commercial for Mozzarella cheese or something. Yes, cheese is the word for sure...Anyways, I guess this is someone from the band Rhapsody. I've heard Rhapsody and my general impression is pretty much the same as what I am hearing now. Overproduced, dorky, fakely positive and happy sounding, generic Euro power Metal. I wouldn't put this in the bottom bracket at all - it's quite competent and well executed. And I can handle some cheese, believe me. But the syth sounds and overprocessed instruments just give this a very carbon copy cookie cutter sound. guitars are nice and "bludddiitybludddityBLUT-tacular" but who really cares about guitar fastery anymore? Dragonforce kinda nailed the last coffin shut with regards to "watch me shred guitar" style. There's also an annoying "trying too hard to sound modern" thing going on here. It'll just bust into some random techno beat for 5 seconds for no appearant reason. I guess this is what Euro Power Metal bands need to do every few minutes to remind the listener that they are, in fact listening to "prog metal." Vocals are actually very good - but this guy has that high winey sort of voice I never liked much. Sounds like Michael Sweet, graham Bonnet, or that dude in Angus. Anyways - if you can't get enough of that Italian gorgonzola, here you go. Ciao bella.
Winterfylleth "The Threnody of Triumph" (Candlelight)
Although not so original sounding, this band is a little bit of a breath of fresh air in the sea of faceless black metal bands. Maybe it's because they're English or something, I dunno. Sound wise it's mostly typical grim black metal with a strong epic side. But they just get the vibe that so many bands miss. There is a reason so many bands try to play TRUE black metal, and that is because when it succeeds, it is a very unique and awesome thing. The problem is most bands just don't have it. It is an obscure art form for sure. Winterfylleth really seem sencere and into what their doing musically. Whereas so many other black metal bands these days seem more motivated to attain some sort of status or something shallow like that. The sound here is very full and the production neither tries to sound raw or too polished. Recalls Blut Aus Nord's more triumphant epics, but with their own slant. Now I'm not saying this band is the fucking second coming of Bathory or anything, because let's face it - no wheels are gonna get invented again! But I would say this is a CD worth having on the shelf that doesn't simply sit there to fill the "black metal section." It will sit in the CD player often as well.
Woden is how an infant says "Odin." Just kidding. Speaking of kidding - that's not what this band is doing. They are as serious as a record contract and as black as..oh, I dunno...the next band? These guys aren't bad, I just find myself zoning out and staring at the wall when this plays. That's not meant to be a compliment. Nor is it a bashing of the music. It's just there, being all serious and not so impressive. Songs are generally way too long and sound the same. The cover art is a joke. SOme shitty painting trying really hard to look obscure and esoteric. Sorry Brits, but ya missed the mark this time.