Wednesday, 9 June 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Flesh of the Stars, "Mirror / Vessels"

By: Peter Morsellino
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/03/2021
Label: Independent

“Mirror / Vessels” DD track listing:
1). Mirror
2). Mirror (Electronic Realization)
3). Vessels (Single Realization)
4). Vessels
The Review:
Crafting a sound all their own, Flesh of the Stars excite on their newest release “Mirror/Vessels”. A unique blend of styles come crashing together to create something fresh.  Idiosyncratic in its powerful dynamics, Flesh of the Stars takes listeners on a journey with this release, inviting us into the darkened depths of the human psyche to take a good look at ourselves.
Emotionally stripped bear, “Mirror/Vessels” is a rollercoaster of a release. From soaring highs with gorgeous ethereal melodies to crushing lows or crunching chords, Flesh of the Stars crafts a sound that is designed to transport listeners to a different place. Hypnotic rhythms carry you off into the albums narrative and put you into the opportune headspace to bear witness to the emotional web that is being weaved. Eclectic musical arrangements feature prominently alongside an authoritative hard/soft dynamic that creates a cinematic feel to the music.
I have to take a moment to offer specific praise to the guitar work of the album. The tone is incredible and sits perfectly inside the mix, never overpowering the arrangements, but taking center stage when need be. Emotionally poignant lead work is a standout of the release for me, with moments of “Vessels” quite literally taking my breath away with their beauty. Honestly, bravo.
This is not a release that we can expect to gain universal adoration. Fans of heavier music may shy away from the ambience that flows throughout the tracks, yet it would be difficult to claim the album was lighthearted in any way.  The true heart of the album lies within its multilayered intensity; Its emotional weight; Its varied instrumentation. It's a release that demands the listener's full attention, and from the perspective of this reviewer, that attention is absolutely well deserved.

“Mirror / Vessels” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

REVIEW: Kråkslott, "The Witchhammer" [EP]

By: Peter Morsellino
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 27/02/2021
Label: Independent

“The Witchhammer” DD track listing:
1). Ritual of Lies
2). The Witchhammer
The Review:
In a hailstorm of Sabbath inspired riffs, Kråkslott unleash hell on “The Witchhammer”. Soothing in its chaos, this quick release encapsulates a bygone era of the doom genre while modifying the formula with modern flairs.
The release kicks off with the ever morphing “Ritual of Lies”. A track rich with variety as ever there was one, “Ritual…” kicks off with a slow procession of riffs and pained cries before blasting off into chaotic solos and hard rocking energy and lulling us back to the original somber tones to close things off. The eclectic styles presented here make quick work of the tracks near eight minute time span.
The title track is up next to finish things off. “The Witchhammer” keeps a more consistent pace for most of its run time, with a sludgy riff fest dominating the early parts and the track dissolving into a downtempo solo of the blues persuasion. This track really sets a mood for the listener and as such connects a bit deeper on an emotional level.
The Sabbath influences are hard to ignore on this release and may end up being a deciding factor for some listeners. Its classic vibes might prove to be a bit derivative to modern fans of the genre, while endearing to purists. Personally, I think the songs presented here are a wonderful mix of vintage blues inspired doom with the chaotic lilt of modern sludge.
While the entire release clocks in at only just under twenty minutes, being spread between just two tracks provides a more epic feel. The longer run times of the tracks should not be a deterrent, as the songs move at a quick pace and are varied enough to maintain the listener's attention throughout.  Definitely a must listen for any fan of the doom genre.
“The Witchhammer” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Dirt Church, "Self Titled LP"

By: Peter Morsellino
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/02/2021
Label: Independent

“Self Titled LP” DD track listing:
1). Cicada
2). Psalm 4
3). Husk
4). Days From Land
5). Sirens
6). Less Dead
7). Zephyr King
8). Teeth
9). Hours
The Review:
Three years after Dirt Church made their claim for sonic supremacy with the release of their 2018 demo, their long awaited Self Titled debut has been unleashed upon the world. A filthy amalgamation of low tuned sludge riffs and pounding hardcore fury, Dirt Church assails listeners with a brutal, yet toe tappingly catchy release that will be sure to please the most discerning of metal heads.
Conceived in the bowels of New York's rust belt, Albany's Dirt Church spawns a sound that while uniquely their own, encapsulates the region perfectly. Its dirty, its angry and it's not going to take any shit.  Atmospheric melodies swirl around their music like a fog pouring in, only just obscuring the massacre hidden within. 
Violent riffing gives way to mournful, dirge like passages throughout the release as Dirt Church press their rage on display, with a hard/soft dynamic often taking center stage. Vocals morph from pained cries and frenzied howls to feverish spoken word pieces,  adding extra dimensions to the album's storytelling. Despite this, the album is full of ear catching melodies, with songs like “Sirens” clinging to your brain and all but demanding repeated listening.
The mix of the album must be noted, as the sound remains crisp and clear despite the chaos contained within. Instrumentation shares real estate perfectly, with no particular sounds battling for space. Vocals maintain a prominent place in the cacophony yet never at the expense of the big picture.
Dirt Church presents listeners with a much needed sound with their debut full length. We're all sad, we're all angry. Dirt Church remains empathetic to this fact while granting an escape. It's good time sludge. You can hum it to yourself long after the album reaches its end.  Give this one a listen. I think you'll like it.
“Self Titled” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

REVIEW: Cirith Ungol, "Half Past Human" [EP]

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 28/05/2021
Label: Metal Blade Records

“Half Past Human” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1). Route 666
2). Shelob’s Lair
3). Brutish Manchild
4). Half Past Human
The Review:

Cirith Ungol's comeback was surely the comeback of the decade; it is no mean feat to revive a band decades after their dissolution AND make an album as convincing as “Forever Black”. Cirith Ungol managed it and are now back with this EP. Four Tracks of trad/doom/hard rock idiosyncrasy. Cirith Ungol have never been the easiest band to like or 'get' and this surely continues here. The themes are fantastical. The vocals are an acquired taste, the bass is bobbling in sound and high in the mix- just like on their debut, “Frost and Fire”. All of that said, this rocks. It's great.

Cirith Ungol are a cult band for a reason- they sound like no one else. They meld genres and sounds like no other band. They fall into a similar bracket to Manilla Road or Pagan Altar: you love them or you are just puzzled.

It is crucial to note that these are not exactly 'new' songs. Instead they are revived from the band's dim and distant past. We assume that they were thus written decades ago; certainly, none have been officially released before. This alone makes for a real fan's treat. Of the four tracks here, you get hard rocking proto-metal on “Route 666” and “Brutish Manchild”, The fantasy element (specifically Tolkien) is fulfilled on “Shelob's Lair”- with a great middle section riff and solo. The biggest treat here is saved for last, though. “Half Past Human” is close to seven and a half minutes in length and is a wonderful track. It is evocative of dynamic and maudlin early Judas Priest moments. Thematically it deals with a dystopian glimpse of the future, science fiction and technology providing ample inspiration.

Overall, then, this is four more new-old songs from Cirith Ungol, all of which sit well with anything else in their discography. For true fans, it’s a must. For casual listeners, this is a perfect introduction to the band, with all their eccentricities on display. It's magnificent, obviously.

“Half Past Human” is available HERE 

Band info: bandcamp || facebook