Friday, January 2, 2009

Portrait (SWE) - Portrait

Hailing from Sweden, Portrait plays heavy metal very reminiscent of Mercyful Fate, but it’s accomplished in such a way that it’s much better than Mercyful Fate worship.

What makes Portrait so great? It’s the amount of awesome heavy metal riffs. The freelance style of their riffs is absolutely what you’d want in a heavy metal album. Every sing riffs I catchy, dark, fast, and perfect for headbanging. The approach of the riffs are similar to Mercyful Fate, but there is never a time throughout the album where it sounds like a Mercyful Fate riff; however, the vocals are quite similar to King Diamond, but the vocalist uses it in such a great way. The vocals are filled with loads and load of falsettos, but the vocal lines and melodies are absolutely stunning.

If you want an album that is filled with heavy metal riffs, superb vocals, and all around great song writing, Portrait is the band for you. What can be better than listening to a bunch of heavy metal riffs and singing about Satan?

Faustcoven (FIN) - Rising From Below the Earth


Faustcoven plays a type of black metal heavily influenced by Black Sabbath, Trouble, and Saint Vitus; Rising From Below the Earth has everything you’d except in a black metal album, but accomplishes through doom metal riffing. There is a slight change in riffing on Rising From Below the Earth compared to Faustcoven’s debut, but the album still contains a good number of traditional doom riffs.

Faustcoven takes the traditional doom riffs in this album and plays them slower and mixes the doomier riffs with slower dissonant riffs; with the combination of the two styles of riffing, the atmosphere comes through thick and dark. Gunnar definitely has a knack for putting together blatantly catchy riffs in a sinister way; however, the riffs are played in a such a way that it creates more of an atmosphere rather an album filled with loads of catchy riffs. But what makes the album so interesting is the desolate, absent approach of the music; its production, song writing, and vocals make the listener feel distanced from the actual music, creating an atmosphere that is completely unique. The atmosphere comes through like a sea of zombies slowly marching after their prey. A change from the first album is the vocals, but it’s definitely an improvement. They now are deep and filled with a huge amount of reverb, which is very reminiscent of Hail.

With the album clocking in at 67 minutes, the album goes by rather quickly; however, the one complaint I have is the lacking of oomph in the guitars, and I think a slight tweak on the production and this album would have much better bang for its buck. This album is for fans of black metal, yet enjoy a traditional doom riff.

Faustcoven's Myspace

Friday, December 19, 2008

Traumatic Voyage (Ger) - Traumatic...(1992)

Traumatic... was the first full length released by Traumatic Voyage, an almost unknown German band in the OSDM scene, why is he/them so unknown? The reason is pretty simple, the music is really awkward and not everybody can get into this, it took me almost a year to appreciate this album, and it is worth every minute and second. Musically Traumatic Voyage is really different if it's compared to other death metal bands from those years, the only ones that I can think of are Infester, Sadist, and perhaps Nocturnus. A major influence for this band are drugs, depression, and despair, something very noticeable in many songs and in the atmosphere of the whole album. Mark does an excellent job as a vocalist, I specially like the way of how he sings, lot of despair and hopelessness can be feel, he also uses a wide variety of shrieks from the typical dm one to screams, the growls/clean vocals are sometimes one against the other and gives this feeling of constant agony and pain. The production is also pretty good, nothing modern or crystal clear but good enough to hear every instrument. An unique gem, enjoy!

Favorite tracks: Soulwinter, Life's Torture, and Shadowconscious.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rotting Christ (Grc) - Triarchy of the Lost Lovers (1996)

While early Rotting Christ rules in it's own right, especially "Passage To Arcturo" EP and "Thy Mighty Contract"... they hadn't fully developed a strong musical personality until this, their third full-length album. "Triarchy of the Lost Lovers" is one of those albums that immediately appealed to me, and it's a solid full listen, from start to finish. While I was initially expecting some small improvements on the slight melody and unique riffing of "Non Serviam" it appears working with Andy Classen (Holy Moses) really took this band into the big leagues of extreme metal. This is less a Black Metal album than an epic, melodic piece of death/black metal. The heavy metal undercurrent is always there, and it could appeal to just about any metalhead no matter what sub-genre their head is stuck in. I haven't heard a "black metal" album that is better crafted, arranged and so mindfully memorable. In fact what struck me the most as I listened to this album more is how memorable it was, despite the vocalist being 75% unintelligable, and most of this is owed to the guitar performance. Great album, heavy black/melodic death metal that has speed and epic qualities throughout. Definitely a keeper in my book.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ogre - Plague of the Planets


Ogre has put out two albums that are in the vein of Black Sabbath and early 70’s rock ala Sir Lord Baltimore, early Pentagram, and Deep Purple, but probably easily pigeon holed into doom metal. The band has previously worn their influences on their sleeves; however, it’s never really hurt them because they’ve had epic tracks and astonishing song writing. On the newest album, Plague of the Planets, the band has finally made and album with their own sound.

The album is one 37 minute epic track, which is a concept album. The story and the cover really go hand in hand, and the story is interesting. The fucking riffs in this album are just so catchy and brilliantly put together. The band progresses from sweet melodic acoustic passages to slow melancholic doom riffs to a nice upbeat 70’s rock riff and then back around. They do this in just an original way, that it feels like they were evolving as the genre was progressing. The guitarist always weaves in a solo almost exactly when it’s needed, and it’s just completely heart felt; when the solo comes in through the riffs, the bassist continues the riffs, and the solo just warps the riff into a brilliant passage that mimics the story of the album. The vocals on this album are just flat out superb. The variety, the homage to early rock singers, the falsettos, and his own touch of insanity makes every single vocal line perfect. He uses both vocal melodies and ‘spoken’ vocals interchangeably, and it sounds absolutely fantastic. I can’t get enough of his style and sound, it’s unique, but at the same time you can feel his influences all meshed together in one. It’s also worth mentioning the circular use of some of the riffs in this album to keep the theme of the album together.

When putting both of the brilliant riffing and vocals together, this album shines through on what Ogre can accomplish. They are so much more than another Sabbath worship band or a retro band. They have a tone of their own and use it to perfection. They did however use a few riffs they’ve used in the past, but they put them in a better context than their previous versions. This is by far the best Ogre album, and I cannot wait to see them continue and make an album better than this one!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Valkyrie - Man of Two Visions (US)


Valkyrie has just put out their sophomore album after their debut crushed everything in its path. The band plays a hybrid of rock, doom, and heavy metal in such a new and refreshing way.

Valkyrie still has some stoner rock feeling, but the lethargic feeling is not in the music. The guitar harmonies produced by the brothers of Valkyrie are absolutely stunning; moreover, the evolution of the riffs to the harmonies and the solos rival the greats in their respective genres (Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, etc). Each riff starts off with a certain tone or idea then evolves into harmonies and goes off of the harmony and the riff to a solo that rips through the listeners ears. Dual vocals, superb bass lines mixed through the fantastic guitars, and drums keeping a good solid backbone make this album so fucking easy to listen to over and over. With only five songs and two instrumentals, the band can keep the listener entertained for Man of Two Visions’ 37 minutes. The two instrumentals are actually really good and make sense in context of the album; moreover, the guitar work in both of the songs is put together so well that the listener can’t help but relax to the guitar work.

Valkyrie’s album should be mentioned with the best of 2008 because its songwriting, catchy riffs, and all around uplifting mood the album creates. Man of Two Visions will continue to slay in the future!

Official Valkyrie Website!
Official Valkyrie Myspace

Monday, December 8, 2008

Depravity (Fin) - Remasquerade (1992)

This is exactly my kind of death metal, raw but listenable production, excellent riffs, creepy solos, and a great vocalist. This is my favorite demo ever, a lot of people tend to say that "Silence of the Centuries" is their best output, I disagree with them, the clear production of that demo loses the creepiness and evuhl atmosphere that makes this demo and their older material so great. The production like I said before is raw but listenable and god, it fits the record so well, the production is what makes this so creepy and full of misery that one will listen to it over and over again! Enjoy another obscure masterpiece!

mp3@ 160 kbps

Abhorrent (Nor) - Occultus Brujeria (1990)

This is the kind of death/thrash that I love, raw production, excellent riffs and solos, and one thing that most bands don't have are chants, the chants offer a different kind of atmosphere to the listener compared to other death/thrash records. The music here is pretty simple but good, like I said in a past review "Simple is better" . The riffs are great, they will keep the listener headbanging from the beginning till the end, why would someone listen to death/thrash if they cannot headbang to it! The vocalist is really good, it goes to the typical death/thrash growl to the black metal kind, this probably helped the vocalist in joining other bands, specially black metal bands. The production as I said before is pretty raw and it works great, you can hear all the instruments pretty well, so yeah enjoy this rare masterpiece!

mp3@ 160 kbps

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ironsword (Prt) - Overlords of Chaos


A lot of the heavy metal that is coming out today can be considered as bands that miss the point of heavy metal. These bands have some catchy riffs every once in a while and those fist pounding choruses that one can enjoy, but kind make the listener get the feeling like Iron Maiden did it much better. However, in Kansas a band called Manilla Road evolved to a heavy metal band with tons of balls to the walls riffs which maintain the energy and fist pounding choruses of heavy metal, but riffs to blow you off your ass. Manilla Road made a few albums in this style (The Deluge, Open the Gates, Mystification, and Out of the Abyss), and the guys from Ironsword obviously eat this up because Overlords of Chaos takes the ideas from Manilla Road and expand upon them; it can be easy to think about Ironsword as just a Manilla Road clone, but they are so much more!

Overlords of Chaos is filled balls to the walls riffs from start to finish. The growth of songwriting and riffs from Ironsword’s previous two albums is phenomenal. When writing the songs this time around, Ironsword uses much better leads to enhance the riffing and the flow of the songs. During each song, a crushingly heavy metal riff comes out, but to make sure the song doesn’t get tedious the band throw in heart felt leads and emotive vocals to keep the listener entrenched in the album. All out aggression is the point of this album (with a few acoustic parts, but work perfectly in the album) with deep vocals that are reminiscent of Mark Shelton of Manilla Road; however, the use of Manilla Road style vocals, just makes it feel like the aggressive days of Manilla Road are continued into today’s metal; however, the band has loads of catchy fist pounding heavy metal choruses as well! Overlords of Chaos is filled with emotion from the entire band; it’s obvious that each band member puts their heart and soul into each riff, bass line, drum beat, and vocal lines. Emotion in this album just makes this album from a good heavy metal album to something great.

With a combination of great influences, superb songwriting, and emotion, this album can easily be described as a worthy album on its own or an expansion of the great works of Manilla Road!

Go to Shadow Kingdom Records and buy this heavy metal massacre!