Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Planetary - Adventure (EP) [Review]

Planetary is a self-proclaimed Instrumental “blackened power” metal band. I have been wanting to review some underground Power metal for a while, since I love hearing good stuff from that genre, and the other genre tags piqued my interest, but also threw up some warning flags at the same time. In the end, it all just doesn’t really come together.

There is just a lack of sense when the pretty sounding ambient synth into is called “Annihilation of all You Hold Dear”. There is just no evocation of ‘Annihilation’ here at all. It is an interesting piece, but it doesn't really lead into the next track, nor does it give the listener any insight into what is to follow on the remainder of this EP.

“Earth’s End” starts off with a similar eerie, yet pleasant piano/synth intro before the ‘black metal’ kicks in. The blackened aspect of all these songs is basically simple four note riffs tremolo’d with some programmed blasts underneath, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it doesn’t sit comfortably with the rest of the music. There is an awesome Dream Theater-like riff that kicks in at around 1:30 but the song takes a dive into another ambient part before picking up with another cool melody before the end of the song, which sports a tasteful solo as well.

That seems to be the way most of the songs here work: ambient, power and ‘black’ parts strung together, without any real repetition. I understand that being instrumental, the idea here is to probably pack a bunch of cool ideas in and not let the songs get repetitive or boring. This is a good idea in theory, but transitions between parts are often shaky and some repetition of riffs and themes would help make the songs feel more like songs and less like collections of riffs.

The instruments are all well performed/programmed. The guitar especially shines through with lots of good melodies and leads that are simple, yet effective and compliment the riffs. “Arrival” has some wicked leads on it and probably the most song-like structure of all the pieces here.

The ambient tracks, the aforementioned intro to the album along with “Desolate Space” are cool ideas, but they don’t stick around long enough to really develop into anything special. If the ideas on this album were split into two projects: One metal and one Ambient, it could be beneficial to the compositions and overall flow and feel.

So, there’s some cool stuff here, but it just isn’t all gel. A lack of vocals means the music has to stand up on its own, and it just isn’t strong enough. There’s an identity crisis going on here that holds back the potential.


Tex's rating: 60%

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Lago - Tyranny (Demo) [Review]

Last week I posted my long overdue review for Lago's debut EP Marianas which greatly impressed me. I decided to also take a close listen to this 2012 demo, which contains songs that will appear on an upcoming full length, which I am really anticipating!
This demo starts off right with the track “The Tyranny of Men” which showcases some solid tremolo riffage with pinchy accents. After this, the track breaks into a dissonant blackened section with ringing chords and a really prominent bass line. In fact, the bass is both more audible and does more of its own thing on this demo compared to the band’s debut EP Marianas. The song also contains a melodic solo from new lead guitarist Andrew Breshears. As with the band’s previous work, the blasty sections flow perfectly into the slower and mid-paced sections, such as the weighty and heavy chorus.

“Coming Cataclysm” starts off with another slower, churning intro which shifts quickly into faster paced death metal mode and returns to a doomier feel with the breakdown at the end. Another solid song, but doesn’t capture and hold my attention as “The Tyranny of Men” does.

Lago has undergone some line-up changes since Marianas. Andrew Breshears proves to be a competent and fitting player for this band, though neither of the solos here ‘wowed’ me. New drummer Brian Miller is also great at what he does, though the drumming here seems very kick and blast happy compared to the more subtle but solid approach on the debut EP.

Garret Thomas’s vocals are less prominent on this demo than on the debut, which I find to be a good thing as I much prefer the more guttural lead vocals of Cole Jacobson, who delivers both great vocals and riffs here as was expected.

Another impressive release from a band that has proven themselves as solid song-writers with a definite idea of the sound they are going for. Morbid Angel (sometimes blackened) with a touch of the modern is what we have here, but with good enough song writing that the band stands on its own. The two songs on this demo kick plenty of ass, but did not hit me quite as hard or have quite the staying power as the material on Marianas. Perhaps these songs will shine more in the context of the upcoming full-length, which I am sure will be a pretty killer release!

Tex's rating: 80%

Check it out here!:

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Postscrypt - Foreplay to Auralgasm (Demo) [Review]

I really don’t know what kind of genre would fit Postscrypt, and I don't mean this in a good way. It’s some type of metal, I guess, though it somewhat pains me to say it. Their 2011 demo (they should have a full-length out by now... good lord...) contains attempts at “extreme” metal (as in half assed understanding of what death/black metal is supposed to sound like), symphonic stuff and weird gothic/rock sections. That’s a lot of stuff, so what is it? I had to give them the benefit of the doubt and ask myself, is this something I'm just not getting? Is it progressive? No, not at all. None of the haphazardly composed and compiled ideas stick around long enough to really develop into full-sounding compositions, let alone be progressive. So I don’t know what this is, but I don’t like it.

The riffs and melodies here are pretty uninteresting and performed sloppily. I have no idea what the bass is doing, or if it’s in there. The drums are performed well enough to fit the songs and keep things moving, but there are some timing issues. The keys/symphonic elements are probably the most well-written and performed (probably programmed). Where things get really odd is the vocals. There are harsh vocals that sound like an old man wheezing to death, which is bad, but when the clean singing came in on the song “Ballerina” I laughed out loud. Yeah, for real. They sound like they’re supposed to be ‘gothic’ or brooding, but they are simply embarrassing. And the vocal melodies are either awkward or unmemorable. The titles of the songs and the EP as well as the lyrics range from absurd to generic.

I do not know what Postscrypt was trying to achieve with this release. Nothing here really fits together and none of the disparate elements really come into their own either. There’s nothing really passable here, move along.

Tex's rating: 25%
Check it out for yourself, if you must:

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Lago - Marianas (EP) [Review]

I have been meaning to get around to reviewing this EP since sometime in 2011 (it was released in 2010). I know, it's sad, but life sometimes gets in the way. It did not, however, get in the way of me listening to and enjoying Lago in the meantime. And it's better late than never, so here it is...
Lago is a death metal outfit from Phoenix Arizona. Dumping a subgenre tag on these guys or simply comparing them to other bands would prove difficult and a disservice to the band. Just “Death Metal” will do. I can say that they draw on the old-school, but they definitely sound in the here-and-now. There are shifts in the music between frantic tempos and doomier sections, but the majority of the material sits at a nice mid-paced, head-banging, riff-churning level, and never gets bogged down or boring.
Speaking of riff-churning, Lago are pretty close to masterful at playing concise, catchy riffs that carry that familiar death metal sound while containing a subtle complexity and uniqueness in their composition. There is some good tight palm-muting and fast chug-heavy riffing amongst some nastier tremolo picked chaos. They also make excellent use of some dissonant ringing chords (think Gorguts or Ulcerate minus anything avant garde or too weird). I see the connections that can be made to Morbid Angel, but never does it sound like the band is sticking too tight to its influences. In fact, the songs sound a lot more ‘inspired’ by OSDM than ‘influenced’ by any band in particular.
The bass and drums pound along nicely to the massive guitar riffing and add their own little twists and embellishments. Drummer Shawn Reiterman shows his talent especially in the slower dissonant sections of “Arbitrary Conflict,” giving the wonky, jangly chords a solid foundation groove with some really original fills. Manuel Dominguez’s lead work is just excellent, melodic while complimenting the disharmony of everything going on around him. I can hesitantly compare him to Trey Azagthoth and James Murphy, but he is definitely a force all his own.
Cole Jacobsen’s vocals fit the music well, they are low and guttural, full of power. Nothing particularly new or interesting going on here, but well-executed. However, I find Garrett Thomas’s higher pitched and more manic backing vocals to be ill-fitting and somewhat off-putting. Thankfully they do not intrude too often and they don’t do much damage to the songs.
This is a solid EP that sports some really fantastic elements. The songs are all memorable, but more variety or experimentation would be appreciated if the band tackles a longer release format.
Tex's rating: 86%
You can check out the tunes from this EP and their 2012 demo (review for that coming soon!) here:
If you are into death metal, you really should check these guys out!


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Montsegur - Under the Banner of Witchcraft (demo) [Review]

I snagged this neat little demo on a recent cold and blustery evening as I was scouring for something new on I have been on a black metal kick recently and wanted to check out some newer underground stuff to supplement my usual go-to bands.
Montsegur is a Russian band, which is about all I know about them. I haven’t delved into much BM outside of the Scandinavian countries, but this demo has me intrigued. This demo showcases tight, varied song writing and already well-developed sound for a band with only one release so far. 
The sound here is raw and aggressive, while still maintaining a good sense of melody and song writing. Violent churning riffs and blasting drums segue nicely into some epic and melodic mid-paced riffing. Clean sections are also used tastefully and accordingly to build some nice atmosphere.

The band has the repetitive/hypnotic 2nd wave sound down while still keeping it fresh with some interesting folky (real folky, no Ensiferum nonsense going on) elements in the melodies, and there are a lot of riffs packed into each song! There are some cool sound effects too, such as the horn and sounds of battle in the title track. I’m usually not too fond of such things, but here they don’t detract from the song.
The guitar sound is a bit washy, but the riffs shine through nicely. The bass is very prominent, but not overpowering in the mix. The drummer is tasteful and competent, accenting the riffs nicely. The vocals are somewhat standard, but they definitely sound good and fit with the music and the mix. The sound is most certainly demo quality, but shockingly well done, as is the performance, considering this was recorded as a rehearsal! The stick clicks to count in the songs could have been edited out, but that is a very minor complaint.

The demo is bookended by an intro and outro track, which are well done, but I rarely find such things to be necessary. However, they are concise and fit with the overall mood of the demo.

Overall, this is a great piece of work and I would love to hear what this band could do with a full-length release. I’m glad I stumbled upon this and I recommend giving it a listen:

Tex's rating: 84%

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

More ignorant, ill-informed bullshit coming soon!

Tex is sitting at home waiting for employment to find him, which means there will finally be some new reviews and possibly some rants up here starting this week!