European Metal Overload!
Well, after nearly a month or so of no CDs from pretty much anyone (guess my not very nice, harsh, juvenile reviews could be pissing some people off - sarcasm if you missed it, though if you're sulking because I said that, then you might as well just bugger off anyway.) But anyway, after a while without anything, I got home from work and there was a big jiffy envelope. Opening it up, something like 12 CDs fell from inside. Now that's more like it. It seems that the Copro label has set up a new distribution deal, and these are the first fruits of fruition so to speak. Now quite a lot of the stuff is relatively old, early '99 release dates, some even earlier, and it's pretty much all Swedish metal (which I don't know if it's a good thing or not - probably not by the time I've finished with them cos it would've been nice with a bit more variety. But hey, at the moment thereís such a complete lack of anything arriving that I canít complain) Now's the time then to sit back, listen and rip 'em to shreds. Or not as the case may be. Time as they say, will tell. No Krokus here though!
Sevenare the first band up with their offering Break The Chains. Silence My Voice starts it off, solemn vocals cutting cleanly through everything else. A powerful but uneventful riff and rhythm going on, with a strange chanted gang thing during the epic sounding chorus. In a way itís kind of pompous sounding stuff. Melodic and big. And thatís how it continues. Melodic. That gang chant thing appears often, itís there again during Break The Chains. One thing that went through my mind was Gary Moore back in his Wild Frontier days trying to combine elements of Irish folk with rock. Itís like some of the riffs sound as though they couldíve been more "traditional" pieces brought in to fit with the Seven sound.
Today The March Begins is so solemn, totally gang chant driven. Itís just so over the top that you have to love it. One With The Land has a particularly spectacular gang choral wooooah section while Eternal Conflicts is soothing with itís little flute section and that choir doing their thing in the background. Gets spoilt really when the guitars thrust in while Crying in the Wind enters on a solo piano and vocal piece while Black Circle is the best song here with itís catchy melodies.
Yeah, itís ok. Thereís some nice guitar runs. But for me nowadays itís such an OOT kind of thing, hard to take serious. And the bits of their faces that you can make out in the CD piccy are well serious.
Next is a 4 track offering fromSupreme Majesty titled Divine Enigma. Melodic kind of power metal, high powered vocals, and plenty of nice guitar melodies thrown in. Thereís some keyboards going on in there as well. Opening track No Farewells sets out their stall. Plenty of double bass runs going on in there, and a screaming guitar solo. Itís more than competant, though of course whether it will make an impact outside of itís intended audience is debatable. But thatís the case with all these releases. Next up, Die In A Dream is a speedier blast. Helloween is the name that slips into my mind - that kind of German metal thing. King Of Eternityís Realm follows a similar path to the previos tracks, nice chorus, bit cheesy, but nice melody and a nice little guitar solo. The Blood We Spilled finishes things, doing the power ballad thing. Not really inspiring and too predictable. Both in inclusion and execution.
Morifade have 4 tracks on Across The Starlit Sky. Feels a bit uninspiring really. Power metal. The elements are there, but nothing sticks in the mind (how many times have I used that phrase this issue. Cop out really.) The most interesting track is actually the last one, Distant World, which is another of those ballad type things, but has an interesting riff and nice mix of piano going on in there while the double bass drums roll away in the background. Otherwise though, uninspiring.
U.N.I.T.Now this one is old. Recorded Ď96/í97 and released in Ď98. Kind of in a way shows. The accompanying bio states influences such as Rush and Yes. Wouldnít know cos I only heard Rush a few times and they bored the shit out of me. The opening to title track Dreamdance brings to my mind Megadeth. Kind of very precise mechanical riffs sort of thing. It gets more melodic, all backing vocals, and keyboards augmenting the main sound. So I guess the Rush thing may be there in terms that this is kind of like progressive metal. And the music is relatively varied. They throw in more off kilter moments with everything. Nice change in amongst all the power metal.
Movements almost sounds like it has Eye Of The Tigerís riff (Oi, donít tell me you never heard or listened to that song, I know you did.) bastardised with a bit of a bass sound reminiscent of that really nice thick sound that Eddie Jackson of Queensryche used to get. Not heavy as a song. Nice. High Speed Travelling ups the heavyness and speed stakes a bit, treated vocals, strange time changes and not entirely what I was maybe expecting after the first riff. Which is a good thing. And Unsex Me Now is as mechanical in sound as the name and lyrics imply it should be. A bit of an epic as well, travelling well past the 7 minute barrier while Flying Windows is an instrumental that showcases the bands musical abilities perhaps more than songwriting and Visions ends things bizarrely it seems offering a commentary on the US.
Kind of an interesting release, but some of the accompanying imagery does it no favours, bringing a little too much of the cliche fantasy to mind. Itís done in a classy way, but would be better if it wasnít there at all. The most interesting CD in this batch for me so far.
Time now for Iniquity with Five Across The Eyes. And you can forget all that melodic concept and progressive metal. Weíre into death now, hyperspeed drums, fast riffs, plenty of guitar squeals and flurries and satan with a sore throat on vocals. I canít help but wonder if I shouldnít do reviews of this sort of stuff using a similarly illegible font as the bands use for their name. Or maybe just go gwaaaaarr, waaaaaahh, gwaaaaaaaarr and see if they can manage to understand exactly what it is Iím saying.Sorry, itís been a long haul. Feeling a touch sarky again and I donít care what you say, but "gwarrrr rwaaar wraaar gwarrrrrr" isnít "crush the pill, increase the dose, despondent, fumbling through a blurry haze" which is what the lyric sheet says is going on in Inhale The Ghost. Still, that doesnít matter. What matters is whether itís any good. Well, uh Iím not experienced enough in these musical waters to say one way or the other. I donít mind it. It sounds together and tight, well produced. Maybe not exactly inspiring, but itís sounding ok to me.
Sideral Seas has some particularly brutal drums in there and Pyres of Atonement has one particular riff that stands out, bringing a hint of melody simply in the way itís played. Canít describe it, but it kind of leapt out of the speakers at me, even though you have to listen kind of hard for it.
But in amongst everything is Reminiscience. A sole female vocal and keyboard. Itís the sort of thing you expect tagged on to the start of a song before being unceremoniously removed by the onslaught of drums and guitars. Here itís a "song" in itís own right. Which although soothing makes absolutely no sense to me. Unless it is to provided a bit of a breather, but thatís kind of ludicrous on record as well.
Half time. I need a bit of a breather before we move on to the second half of these
...... breath ... er ......
Ok, letís rock again! "like we did last summer". Oops, sorry, wrong song.
The warning at the end of the thanks list on Satarielís Lady Lust Lilith says "Satariel and Pulvarised Records takes no responsibility for any actions, deeds or statements of criminal nature or such that might be said to be inspired by material on this album. We trust youíve got brains of your own." Well if you have and you want to keep them, donít put this one on when youíve got a hangover. Bloody hell, those drums feel like hammers trying to cave my head in from both sides. Fast and vicious. But to be fair they try to throw in some moments of atmosphere amidst the maelstrom (like that one? huh huh!!) and thereís even some singing where I anticipated just full garroting screams.
Thing is, at this speed I really canít differentiate the riffs. I know there are differences there, but they donít register and I donít remember them past the end of the song. So as The Well of the Artist unleashes itís barrage, I recognise thereís a couple of decent riffs and things in there, like the mid section where the guitars cut out and let the bass breathe a little, but by the time 4 Moons Till Rising unleashes itís barrage, Iíve forgotten them. And how thereís some nice guitar things going on in 4 Moons in amongst the speed onslaught.
The Spawn of the Shadows starts out with a slower, more classic metal kind of riff. good stuff I like this. But they then go for the hyper-speed approach, and for me, they may go fast, but it just meant they lost momentum.
Thatís how it goes. Ultra speed mixed with some generally more satisfying slower melodic moments. Much like myself, it goes on for too long and so gets boring and repetative by the end.But I like this one. I do wish theyíd slow down so that it at least seems thereís more variety, but as theyíre intention was to play "utlra-fast" then Iím wasting my time in wishing that. And donít worry. No criminal intentions from me. I donít know what the hell "For I am Nema-Tous, I am them all; I am the first eye of the Lord of Phosphorous!" actually means.
DethronementSurvival Of The Sickest
"Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been, is over. From this time onwards, you will service .... us" is the sampled intro before the vocalist clears his throat and rest of his innards with a massive belch before we start things going. Ok, so it was some kind of death grunt actually.Thatíll be the suitably named Intro completed then.
Musically itís not bad. Plenty of nice riffs like half way through Day of Judgement. Some fast stuff as youíd expect, but a few bits break down to a slower pace where the riffs seem more defined and everything seems to just come under control again. Theyíre able to inject some melodies in the guitar duelling as well, which makes everything much more palatable to me. It even seeps through to some of the guitar solos. I still reckon melody isnít the devilís word that some seem to think. Be it in metal, hardcore or punk. They also try to offset the more guttural grunts with some higher pitched screaming. Not high high, just higher than the gut.
The likes of Blood Shall Be Spilled and New Wave Rising feature enough traditional metal stylings and song structures to make this musically good to me. Thereís plenty of chuggathons, nice melodies in the solos. Begin The Carving has a little Slayer like riff in there - oh crikey, and that solo is straight out of the Kerry King school. Itís just that in this sort of music there are times where things get too silly for me, and itís usually the vocals and often the imagery. and thatís kind of what spoils the overall thing for me.
Apparently this is black metal. Canít really tell the difference myself. But Iím an ignoramous about these things. A bit predictable in places.
Overall though, one of the more enjoyable CDs here.
Weyhey, look at this.Morifade are back, this time with a full length release entitled Possession of Power.
The opening track is a cheerful enough waste of time, one of those "letís set the scene for the album in a totally Ďthis isnít what the rest of it will sound like way". It gives way to the first song, which opens with a high pitched yelp which about 12 years ago I thought was cool and now I think sounds painful. Are they really singing "dragon the dragonlord". I hope not. Bugger. They are. It says so in the lyrics. "Dragon...The Dragonlord with his roaring beast" No, please donít do that. You donít want to do that. Please. Cast a Spell is ushered in on the back of a typical acoustic guitar thing, which is at least kept going at least initially as the rolling drums come to join it. Ending of Time has those kind of sweet choir vocals that bands sometimes try to do, overlayed and overdubbed quite possibly and progressive tendancies keyboards. My Own Majesty has a flute nestling in there as well. Itís cheesy as hell, but one of the better songs. Sway with those arms in an open field. As before, this is speed metal really. Euro metal. If youíve got a fetish for Helloween and that sort of thing, this may appeal. Personally it doesnít really tickle my testicles any more. Itís well produced and executed ... but!
Nearly there now. Thereís only two left in the pile. This one is Thy Primmordial with At The World Of Untrodden Wonder. Excellent, theyíve got the corpse paint that looks like someone squashed a spider over theyíre eyes. Loads of bullet belts and studded arm bands. And the drum machines got stuck on kill mode. (Yeah yeah, I know itís a "human" drummer). Itís the hit the road at 666mph again. Shame because in amongst the speed there are definitely riffs emerging that I just think would sound so much more powerful, so much more evil if they were slowed down and given some space. Itís especially evident in Once On Fortunes Throne, but the blitzkreig riffing thatís laid over the top just spoils it all and ruins the effect. The vocals are almost an Iron Monkey yaaaaaaay fest. Apparently "I am black as night burning" Wouldnít that like be black with hints of red and explosions?
Thereís just about no let up in the ferocity of the attack, which means itís all a bit one paced and one dimensional. A very fast pace, but one paced all the same. Oh thereís those occassional interludes, but nothing like enough to really get in the way of this runaway monster. And so through 50 minutes it does tend to get very repetative and boring. Final track Revealed Throughout the Ages showing a few more twists, turns and diversions. Itís a bit more interesting than the rest of it.
Musically competant? Certainly thereís no question about that. Musically enjoyable? Could do better.
Weíre there! Last in the batch isUnmoored with Cimmerian. The accompanying bio has this one pegged as extending the melodic death metal genre. Dunno about that. This one brings Entombed to my mind. Itís not hyper speed, thereís melodies, and almost that rockíníroll swagger. The production helps. The guitars are nice rich, cripsy and in your face. Yeah, THIS ONE I like. The vocals are growled but growled in an understandable manner. Thereís more of an obvious groove to this than pretty much all the others that have gone before. And the opening track, Trendmade Bitch, with itís lyrics such as "what makes you think youíre so fucking special?; You trademark wearing parasite superbitch; When your so called standards are merely fake, yeah!; You identity seeking bloodsucking witch" are a bit more contemporary than a lot thatís gone before.
Down at Zero ups the tempo, but falls short of trying to break the landspeed drumming record, and manages to break down to a more melodic part again and some passable singing on the chorus, and a chorus that actually is a chorus. Course that may be blasphemy (sorry!) for death metal purists, but it donít half make it more enjoyable to listen to. This really is more like it. Meanwhile Blood By Tragedy has a really weirdly played opening riff, all the wrong time it seems, and Iím sure itís disguising a disfigured version of Iron Maidenís Wasted Years riff. It soon disappears, but itís caught my attention. And thereís more of that singing lark during the chorus. Yesss! Weíre chugging now. Itís turned into spot a riff, as thereís a nice thick chuggy one that earlier days Metallica wouldíve liked and a harmony guitar duel the Maiden wouldíve liked. And they continue to throw out some cool riffs during the likes of Warsong (which has a rather nice melodic vocal in there, I think though I know Iím way off the mark, thereís a touch of the new melodic Nick Holmes going on in there.). Itís not entirely original, nothing is these days. Itís how you package it, how you throw your slant on it, and Unmoored are doing it pretty well. Mind you, when I thought I heard them singing "virtual insanity" on Solution _45 I had to doubletake to make sure they werenít doing a Jamiroquai cover. Luckily theyíre not, itís actually "virtue in insanity". Ah well, how many death metal reviews manage to mention Jamiroquai eh? Twice at that! Hehe. And they leave in fine style with closing track Final State, all melodies singing and an acoustic guitar to take us out. Yeah.I swear this is how it worked out. I placed this lot in a pile and worked my way through them, and wouldnít you just know that the best was saved Ďtill last. Bloody typical.
Right, Iím definitely going to have to go and have a lie down after that little marathon. Iím a bit worried I may have just ODíed.