Thursday, 22 August 2019

REVIEW: Pijn & Conjurer, "Curse These Metal Hands"

By: Eeli Helin

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 16/08/19
Label: Holy Roar Records





”Curse These Metal Hands” CD//DD//LP tracklist:

1. High Spirits
2  The Pall
3. Endeavour
4. Sunday

The Review:

Pijn and Conjurer are both UK based, roughly categorizable as sludgy post-metal/hardcore bands. Both are on Holy Roar Records' roster and released impeccably strong albums last year, also making a collaboration appearance in ArcTanGent, one of the most momentous and meaningful festivals focusing on bands beyond the mainstream spectrum. The preparation and execution of said performance also planted the seed for a joint studio album titled "Curse These Metal Hands", released on August 16th, and with a release like this, the bands succeed to set a potent and firm example of how collaboration albums should sound. 

Like most of joint productions, this also looked fine on paper. After all, Conjurer's "Mire" and Pijn's "Loss" were amongst the most played albums in my household, as they were in so many others too. I've stated this somewhere else too, but when it comes to collaboration albums, they tend to be a hit or miss, with absolutely nothing in between. But with "Curse These Metal Hands", there wasn't a single reason to get cautious or worried about it. And there still isn't.

The pre-released track "High Spirits" opens up the album, and as the name suggests, it'll elevate your spirit right from the beginning. Slowly growing with clean guitars, tambourines and gentle drum hits, the song evolves in an uplifting manner, keeping a surprisingly positive vibe going throughout. After introducing strong dual vocals on top of a ridiculously heavy verse, the atmosphere tightens but the tone remains warm and wholehearted. 

Keeping in mind both bands' previous albums, this one differs from them greatly, which proves to make "Curse These Metal Hands" a justified, multiplex entirety with it's own narrative. The second song "The Pall" is mainly pulled together from similar realms, but instead shifts the gear into a bleaker direction. The second track also deploys more compositional dynamics, and there's parts where you can identify both bands' own sounds, but everything blends together seamlessly. I personally also really enjoy the writing on this one; albeit the track is almost nine minutes long, there's a ton of different riffs and sections, different tones and colours. It's so easy to build longer tracks over simpler and monotonous riffs that start to feel numbing really soon, and it's really refreshing that this album is bereft of the said approach.

The third track "Endeavour" is a mountain-movingly heavy, crushing two minute intermission. Vicious guitarwork and a constant triplet rhythm make the track stand on it's own, given it's still a smaller piece amidst the three gigantic tracks. What makes it shine through, is that while being in a minor position, "Endeavour" is not a futile transition song. This is often the case when an album is arranged like this, but that is yet another pitfall that the bands avoid very smoothly. "Sunday" closes the album with same emotion that the album started with. It's a consistent and uplifting epic, rejoicing in almost happy melodies, shifting through strong and soft passages until calling it a day for good. Structurally it's close to the other longer tracks, including a sense of closure and finality, utilizing tension in a very animate manner instead of being your run-of-the-mill "funeral procession"-like closing track.

Simply put, "Curse These Metal Hands" is an album that makes you feel good. It manages to create an almost transcendentally comforting and positive atmosphere without getting tacky at any point. That's also something a lot of people (me included) didn't expect from bands whose output tends to be from the more dismal and joyless end of the spectrum. "Curse These Metal Hands" doesn't redefine any genres or brave a new one, but it damn well exceeds in what it is set out to be; a perfect amalgamation of two different bands coming together.



"Curse These Metal Hands" is available HERE




Band info: Pijn || Conjurer

TRACK PREMIERE: Screamer deliver heavy metal thunder on "Caught In Lies"


Screamer never strays far from the proven sound of roaring guitars and pounding drums that's just as powerful in the pit as when it's blasting through your stereo. In Screamer's music, you can hear the classic foundations laid down by the hard rocking heroes of old. With a combination of straight-forward choruses of the likes of Dio, guitar work in the style of Maiden or Lizzy on speed, and the pounding beat of Judas Priest, Screamer has carved out their very own essence of heavy metal that stands the test of time.

Their fourth album “Highway of Heroes” is set to be released the 11th of October though The Sign Records. The album holds nine tracks plus a CD/Vinyl exclusive intro. Screamer is set to tour Europe in November following the release of “Highway of Heroes” Preorders are available here and you can stream the “Caught in Lies” below




Live Rituals:

 1.11.19 DE - Hamburg, Bambi Galore
 2.11.19 NL - Nijverda, Cult Art Club l
 3.11.19 DE - Kassel, Goldgrube
 5.11.19 DE - Leipzig, Mørtelwerk
 6.11.19 DE - Prague, Club007
 7.11.19 AT - Wien, Escape
 8.11.19 AT - Linz, Kapu
 9.11.19 AT - Dornbirn, Schlachthaus
 10.11.19 DE - Göppingen, Zille
 11.11.19 BE - Bree, Ragnarock
 12.11.19 DE - Saarbrücken, Studio 30
 13.11.19 DE -  TBA
 14.11.19 DE - Münster, Rare Guitar
 15.11.19 DE - Mannheim, MS Connection
 16.11.19 DE - Koblenz, Florinsmarkt
 23.11.19 SE - Gislaved, Crash Course Club
 29.11.19 SE - Göteborg, The Abyss
 30.11.19 SE - Örebro, Watt

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: The Road deliver apocalyptic post doom on “Gyro Electro Destroyer”





When you google search  today’s SLUDGELORD debutants, The Road, Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name is the top result.  A post-apocalyptic novel detailing the journey of a father and his young son, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm, the duos (consisting of Rob Duncan (Guitar & Vox) and Steve Roberts) blend of crushing post doom could be the perfect soundtrack for that apocalypse.

Having witnessed The Road recently in the live arena, I was reminded of the short lived duo Adai and fans of the band have also rightly compared their sound to Sumac, Bongripper, and Cult of Luna.  I can testify to the fact that the sheer power of their music live has been transferred superbly to tape as they're primed to unleash their debut record “Reverence Redacted” on 23rd August 2019

With a sound that is seemingly impossible for 2 people to make, The Road aim to bring their mix of doom, post-metal and raw emotion to all who seek truth in their music.  “Reverence Redacted” is available on LP can be preordered HERE.  With the album set to drop this Friday, we’re excited to debut a track from the album below.  Dial the volume up to 11 and check out “Gyro Electro Destroyer” which is streaming below







Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday, 19 August 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: The Lord Weird Slough Feg, "New Organon"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 21/06/2019
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music



“Stylistically, it all hangs together superbly and delivers a complete album listening experience.”


“New Organon” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Headhunter
2. Discourse on Equality
3. The Apology
4. Being and Nothingness
5. New Organon
6. Sword of Machiavelli
7. Uncanny
8. Coming of Age in the Milky Way
9. Exegesis/Tragic Hooligan
10. The Cynic

The Review:

Slough Feg, or The Lord Weird Slough Feg- to give them the moniker they have now reverted to, are a unique proposition and as such are an acquired taste. We are five years on from their last album, “Digital Resistance”, but in terms of sound and approach, we may as well still be in 1976. This is clear and live sounding and traditionalist in approach.

TLWSF continue ploughing their singular furrow here; yes of course there is Jethro Tull, Thin Lizzy, Sabbath and Wishbone Ash... just pick any track and you will hear all those bands and more. Take the third track, “The Apology”; perfect in its pomp and heaviness. Philosophical references abound throughout; from the title to most tracks- considering frontman’s Scalzi's day job it's not surprising...

There are bursts of pace which bring in heavier and (slightly) more modern fare; Iron Maiden spring to mind on “Being and Nothingness”. The clear influences are one thing, but the overall quality and assuredness with which the band deliver the record is another. Slough Feg are a unique band and are traditional metal, heavy rock, folk-rooted and eccentricity all rolled into one. The title track marks the half way point and by that time you will either be sold on this album or you will not. If you enjoy any of the bands mentioned, plus bands like Wytch Hazel from the modern canon, then you will find something to enjoy here.

Stylistically, it all hangs together superbly and delivers a complete album listening experience. It's hard to pick stand out cuts- that's either positive or negative, depending on your approach, but it could be said that there are a couple of perhaps weaker tracks (“Sword of Machiavelli” is one for me) even if that is then made up for with the storming “Uncanny”.

Across its concise and one-side-of-a-cassette playing time, the band lean on philosophy, olde worlde references both musical and lyrical and a steadfast dedication to all things heavy circa 1970-1980. This may well be too quaint or even trite for some, but The Lord Weird Slough Feg are a heavy music gem and operating in a  field of one- both in America and elsewhere. That's worth something and they are to be cherished and enjoyed while they are still around.

Much like Manilla Road, they are perhaps a strange and cult-like band, but their music speaks to their fans profoundly. With Mark Shelton of Manilla Road now gone from this earth for over a year, I feel it is important to enjoy and appreciate such bands whilst they are here. Slough Feg won't be here forever- none of us are- so if you weren't sure about trying them out, this could be a great place to start. As “The Cynic” closes the album out, you'll be glad that you did.


“New Organon” is available HERE



Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Entombed AD, "Bowels of Earth"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 30/08/2019
Label: Century Media Records



“Bowels of Earth” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1.Torment Remains
2.Elimination
3.Hell Is My Home
4.Bowels Of Earth
5.Bourbon Nightmare
6.Fit For A King
7.Worlds Apart
8.Through The Eyes Of The Gods
9.I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive
10.To Eternal Night

The Review:

Three years on from “Dead Dawn” and Entombed AD have returned. As noted at the time, “Dead Dawn” was much better and heavier than “Back to the Front”, which in itself was OK- but little more. Pleasingly, “Bowels of Earth” is heavier and more ferocious again! Thankfully the band seem to perhaps be repeating the trajectory of the original Entombed in the late 90s into the 2000; from the feeble “Same Difference”, through the aggressive “Uprising” and on to the excellent “Morning Star”.

“Torment Remains” is aggressive and heavy, a great opener and “Elimination” is also aggressive and heavy. The production and mix is better this time around, too- the bass rumbles, the guitars grate like a chainsaw, the leads cut through and LG Petrov's trademark bark is firmly in place.

The pace continues into “Hell Is My Home” and I was left thinking, on first listen, that this is everything that “Back to the Front” should have been, but never was: aggressive, fast, feral and hard rocking. The pace change down the back stretch feels great, the riff excellent. The band are firing on all cylinders. The title track rolls out of the speakers full of swagger and is another winner. At this point, the album is really shaping up to be a return to Petrov's glory days of two decades ago.

“Bourbon Nightmare” ratchets up the death and roll factor nicely- pure Motorhead worship and it works really well. AT the halfway point it can be finally said that Entombed AD have ARRIVED. This is leagues ahead of their debut and has built on the much improved “Dead Dawn” with vigour.

The second half of the record is just as good. “Fit For A King” opens things up with a breakneck thrashing pace and straight-ahead riffing. Entombed AD keep things tight and lean with song lengths not going too far beyond what is necessary. That breakneck pace is continued through “Worlds Apart” while one of the best tracks on the album is delivered in “Through The Eyes of The Gods”- which is a real throwback to Entombed's early work and “Wolverine Blues”. It's nasty and mean and would be a great track to pick out if you wanted to hear a snapshot of what the album has to offer.

The two minutes of “I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive” is a rollicking rocker that acts as the last burst of speed before the band delivers a doom laden epic in the form of “To Eternal Night”. Over the course of the ten tracks it is an absolute pleasure to hear the band rev their engines and play like they mean it. This is light years ahead of Entombed AD's first album and much better than their sophomore effort as well. This is most likely the best Entombed related record since the aforementioned “Morning Star”. It is better than “Inferno” (which was good) and certainly better than “Serpent Saints” as well. Of course, Entombed AD are not Entombed- but this album is a cracker and one that would fit right into Entombed's discography with no issues whatsoever. Recommended.

“Bowels of Earth” is available HERE


Band info: facebook

Monday, 12 August 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Destruction, "Born to Perish"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 09/08/2019
Label: Nuclear Blast



Another deadly slice of Teutonic thrash.


“Born To Perish” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. "Born To Perish"
2. "Inspired By Death"
3. "Betrayal"
4. "Rotten"
5. "Filthy Wealth"
6. "Butchered For Life"
7. "Tyrants Of The Netherworld"
8. "We Breed Evil"
9. "Fatal Flight 17"
10. "Ratcatcher"
Bonus:
11. "Hellbound"

The Review:

Destruction blast back, only three years since “Under Attack”, with ten tracks of efficient and cutting thrash metal. Now a four piece, thanks to the addition of Swiss shred-meister Damir Eskic and also the latest man to get behind the kit, Randy Black. Both newcomers put in a storming shift here; Damir really brings his A-game to the solos and Randy's drum performance is thrash circa 2019.

The opener and title track sets the tone here: thrashing drums, punishing leads and Sifringer and Schmier still providing a rock solid and destructive partnership. Sonically, this picks up right where “Under Attack”,Spiritual Genocide” and “Day of Reckoning” left off: rock solid sound and razor sharp detail between the instruments. It's a long way from “Infernal Devastation” in terms of production values but the spirit of those days is still here.

Where Kreator remain a superb band, their sound has streamlined and become more subtle over the years. The same could be argued of Destruction, but not to the same extent as they remain a punishing and nasty proposition on record- less melody and more muscle. It seems that Schmier got all his melodic leanings out via the German Panzer side project a few years back, as what you get here is nothing less than thrash metal at all times.

The record steamrolls by with “Inspired By Death” and “Betrayal” following the title track with speed, violence and force. “Rotten” switches to the triplet/tanks rolling time feel that the band have used on past releases to good effect and it marks a good dynamic shift for the record. Likewise “Filthy Wealth” is not all out thrash- more like a Motorhead-type pace. It's no less effective and rounds out the first half of the album in style.

The second half of the record opens with the heavy-as-lead “Butchered For Life” (with a quieter mid section). “Tyrants of the Netherworld” is balls out thrash with a wall of guitars only letting up for a tasty drum break towards the end. A storming track! The final triumvirate of “We Breed Evil”, “Fatal Flight 17” and “Ratcatcher” are just as potent with the band applying maximum song writing chops to their speedy assault.

This is another good entry into Destruction's impressive discography. It does not top “Day of Reckoning” as their best album in the last decade, in my opinion, but it is right up there with the others. Another deadly slice of Teutonic thrash.

“Born To Perish” is available HERE


Band info: facebook

Sunday, 11 August 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Lähdön Aika, "Alku"

By: Eeli Helin

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 17/05/19
Label: Bunkkeri Records,
Rämekuukkeli-Levyt



”Alku” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Huomisen Toivo
2. Matkalla
3. Kuka Sinä Olet
4. Rauha
5. Pelko
6. Ainoa Tie



The Review:

Lähdön Aika are a Finnish sludge/crust/doom band that released their latest album titled "Alku" on May 17th. Formed in 2003, the band has been steadily wading in the underground scene, making a name for themselves and becoming one of this styles most prominent flag-bearers in the country. Having released multiple albums, numerous splits and other smaller releases throughout the years, Lähdön Aika are now presenting their most oppressive, grim, and high-minded self on "Alku", ripping your will and cheer to bits and pieces with six monumental offerings.

To back up my next statement, I need to elaborate a bit. Lähdön Aika are to me what most of you would call a local band. For years, I've been following this country's underground scene, and more often that not, I've been underwhelmed with what I've heard. Mainly because there's few thriving metal acts that everyone seems to mimic in a one way or another, and bands seem to lack innovation and vision, to put it extremely bluntly. Now, it goes without saying that I've also missed a lot of things along the way. Lähdön Aika are a band that despite their growing recognition in the scene, they've always flown past me somehow. They're also a band that make these complaints of mine totally invalid, and I do enjoy being proved wrong when it comes to this matter. While their influences are present, they're not a cheap, second-hand replica of anything. That is why they stood out for me when I was approached about a review possibility, and that is why I was instantly keen to pick them up for one.

"Huomisen Toivo", the first track on the album begins with an elongated riff and ritualistic tom beats, before heading into a well-structured, rhythmic section. This particular passage acts as a spine for the entire song, introducing droning guitarwork along the way. While the majority of the track is build upon this, there's few shorter parts where the bass takes the lead, a bit abruptly at first perhaps. To back up that feel, the bass is most likely brought up with automation to underline it's dominant position. While this production decision is justified, it takes a few listens to get used to the sudden volume increase. Overall, the production is punishing but still clear, managing to keep the harder and softer parts in unison throughout the album.

The second track "Matkalla" is a more shifty opus that plays around with interesting dynamics through its entire duration. The track takes its time to unfurl properly, reaching its culmination point six minutes in. When compared to the first one, "Matkalla" is more textured and requires definitely more attention. It's also noteworthy to mention that the band really pulled off the track sequencing with "Alku", which might feel like a little thing to someone, but in reality makes a huge difference to the flow and momentum, and to managing both. "Kuka Sinä Olet" tones down on the heavier aspect for a moment. It proceeds in a sludgy and ominous manner for a good while, seemingly equipping changes in dynamics and velocity, giving the otherwise shapeless form some edges and borders. This keeps the track together until the finale, which cuffs your face in with a stomping faux-triplet feel. The atmosphere takes an even more serious turn on this and the following track, "Rauha".

This fourth track is also when you'll be able to pinpoint the bands influences out. There's Cult of Luna -like rhythmical lingering and Amenra -esque dragging, funeral kind of feel. These notions are more apparent in the earlier tracks as well when you take a second listen. This is also where that earlier point of mine resurfaces. You can draw stimulus from wherever, but building your own sound around it is where so many others fail tremendously. If you like the example bands I mentioned, you will most likely dig this one too, you just need to jump in without any prejudice.

The latter half of the album is where Lähdön Aika are on their strongest, own field. "Pelko" and "Ainoa Tie" again include some fresh angles. I wouldn't say that they'd be unprecedented by any measure, but they're exactly that when only considering this album. It's also a good move to keep the length reasonable, which now is somewhere around the forty minute mark. Keeping the entity digestable works wonders, and also allows the band to explore their different sides on different songs. That also means each song works on it's own as a separate piece, and when brought together they form a greater gestalt that won't tire you out. The sheer heaviness and agony it inflicts might be a bit heavy on the heart if you're not used to diving in such bleak and deep mires.

To stop the positive honking for a moment, there's few major and minor things that doesn't work as well as the rest. My biggest problem with them currently is the vocals. They aren't bad, I don't mean that, but I personally prefer more diversity in that department. What their vocalist is doing now, is something that he's good at, but some unpredictable and diverse flavours here and there would add plenty to their output. I get that in their current form, the vocals also act as a sort of an anchor for the instrumentation. The lack of colour is partly redeemed due to the clever vocal placement. I also usually have a hard time grasping the idea of writing in my native language, but I guess that's entirely on me. These blokes have done it this way for over fifteen years, and it's not my place to advice anyone to compromise or alter their honest, internal self because of my biases.

I also complimented the mix, and I do think it works for their benefit on most part. However, it's sort of too in-between of different extremes. Too polished sound wouldn't work for Lähdön Aika at all, so perhaps I'd like them to be more gritty and even raw, if you will. It's also noteworthy that when I mentioned about the dynamics, excluding few occasions, that mostly means the compositional approach and not so much the production one. There are few schools of thought on this too, although I think none of them are superior to another. Perhaps Lähdön Aika could take few more risks on that area. Since they're already notable as a band in this country, why not up the ante even more.

All in all, "Alku" is a damn strong effort from a durable band. I'm sure some will cling to these complaints, but I'd wish everyone to have an open mind when giving it a listen. What's for sure is, that the light isn't very bright on this album, nor should it be. The lyrical topics revolve around matters of finality and passing, take my word for it or pick up a translator, either way. Lähdön Aika have refined their craft for a long time now, and it's a shame that a band with such potential hasn't been picked up by any bigger, international label yet. Without knowing about their ambitions any more than you do, I really wish it wouldn't take another fifteen years for that to happen, if it's on their checklist to begin with.

Alku” is available here




Band info: bandcamp || facebook