Saturday, January 20, 2018
Record label: Xenocorp
If you've been into death metal for a long time, then you've surely heard of one of the bands on this dual release and I'm betting that would be death metal underground stalwarts, Master and their core member Paul Speckmann since the band have knocking around since 1983. In comparison, Belgium death metal band, Dehuman are newcomers to the scene having formed in 2006.
Master delivers four songs on this release, which were taken from a soundboard recording of a gig the band played in Helsinki, on October 7, 2016. The band still has an old school death metal sound and there's no mistaking this for a studio performance as the audience are loud and clear. There's a raw bootleg feel to these tracks that will no doubt have ex-tape traders reminiscing of days long gone by.
Dehuman have a similar old school sound and their recordings are live in the studio. The vocals are scooby doo style growls that will have many pinpointing Obituary as a major influence on the overall sound of these Belgians. There's some strong guitar soloing on "Morbid Sun", that wouldn't sound out of place on albums from other metal sub-genres. The drums are punished with an unrelenting brutality that makes it difficult not to pity them.
This is a limited release which insures cult status. "Decay Into Inferior Conditions" is available in 200 copies limited edition "tour souvenir" DigiPak CD and 300 copies limited edition 12" LP+CD first print DigiPak so get on it fast if it sounds like your thing because it's been available since December 2017.
Release Date: 19 December 2017
Dehuman on facebook
Master on facebook
Friday, January 19, 2018
Label: Ripple Music
Can you name any Hungarian bands? I sure can't. Here's comes Ozone Mama. Problem solved, I can now name a Hungarian band. What would a Hungarian band signed to Ripple Music sound like? My guess and probably yours was Sabbath tinged stoner rock. We're wrong though. Ozone Mama have a southern rock sound.
From the first full song, "Straight On Till Morning Light", it's loud and clear that Ozone Mama possess strong songwriting skills and are aiming and succeeding at producing rock radio-friendly tunes. The Black Crowes are an easy reference point as Ozone Mama take a very similar stylistic approach. "High Ride" contains a vibe not unlike an Ozzy eighties single, which in a world where Black Sabbath clones are a dime a dozen actually feels like a breath of fresh air , although vocalist Márton Székely resists temptation to go full Oz which works in the band's favour. There's a Stones swagger to "Shout at The Sky" and the vocals go in Led Zeppelin era Robert Plant direction. The title track starts with licks that contain a very swampy southern flavour. If you didn't know you'd likely swear this band was from one of the southern US states. "Freedom Fighters" features some tasty guitar solos from András Gábor and it is a catchy little ditty with the vocals up front in the mix. The catchiness continues with "Cold Light of Day". Those who like stories in their southern rock songs will enjoy, "The Alchemist" which is a laid back yet rocking tune. The early seventies influence is strong in "Moon Pilot" as it is reminiscent of early Bowie, Pink Floyd plus a number of hard rock bands without sounding like a mere copy.
Although this is the third album from Ozone Mama, it was my first time hearing them and they're a band we're all likely to hear more from if they're given the right push. It's very easy to see why Ripple Music has signed this band. This album begs for and deserves rock-radio airplay in a major way.
Release Date: 19 January 2018
Ozone Mama on Facebook
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Label: Artificial Head Records
The Cops are another Texan band but from the Houston punk side of the tracks. The band specialize in fast catchy punk songs viewed from the eyes of the law. The band dress up as law enforcement when they're on stage.
Musically The Cops have a melodic edge and take cues from US eighties pop punk rather than the nineties variant. Bands that come to mind listening to these dudes are The Adolescents, Articles of Faith, JFA, The Descendents. "Street Hooker Love" channels The Ramones via Sloppy Seconds. The Cops keep proceedings brief with none of their song tickets clocking over three minutes. Hell, most tracks don't even escape over the two minute mark.
While it's clear that The Cops are a tongue in cheek novelty band, they do offer social commentary on an often corrupt police force while retaining a sense of fun. If you're a fan of any of the bands mentioned in the review then you should get your "First Offense".
Release Date: 16 February 2018
The Cops on Facebook
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Label: Ripple Music
On paper Witch Cry sound awesome; a Texan doom metal band with both the classic heavy rock influences of the likes of Black Sabbath, Uriah Heap and Deep Purple and combine it with the slightly more modern doom influences of Trouble and Saint Vitus. The band have female vocals that are reminiscent of Janis Joplin. The band have their chops together and sound really tight.
So what's the problem? It's hard to shake off the feeling this is nothing but a nostalgia trip. The songs here just don't catch this listener's attention. Overworked and overused Sabbath riffs need catchy hooks. The catchiest song on "Cry Witch" is "Witchfinder General" although the album closer "Lapis Philosophorum" is an attention grabber where the band ditch the heaviness (unless you consider Jethro Tull heavy) and vocalist Suzy Bravo is gives her strongest performance. I'd bet these songs work well live but this album just leaves this listener flat.
Release Date: 19 January 2018
Witchcryer on facebook
Witchcryer on bandcamp
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Label: Extreme Metal Music
Grimtone are a Swedish black metal group founded in 2016 and feature two guys from Swedish metal bands, Stonegriff, Nebulous Aura and Extermination, who you may or may not have heard of. I hadn't heard of any of them myself. Stonegriff is a doom band and one guy wanted to make black metal and Grimtone is the end product of his desire.
"Memento Mori" opens with a quiet and short instrumental piece entitled "Intro". The second track "Souls Reborn into Hate" lets the listener know what they are in for. Grimtone are undoubtedly black metal with the bumblebee guitar tone but what sets this band apart from most black metal that comes my way are the vocals. They are audible and for the most part it's easy to work out what the vocalist is singing as he's up front in the mix. Those who have entered the world of black metal for blast-beats will take pleasure from the opening of "The Blood of The Dead" although they may be thrown when Grimstone slow down.
Ignoring the vocals there's a post-metal feel to this track as the guitar sound is cleaner than a lot of black metal. Those who like the typical shrieked vocals, buzzing guitar tone and blast-beats will enjoy the album's title track. Even when shrieking, the vocals are thankfully clearer than most black metal. Those who come to black metal for speed will find what they're looking for in "Fields of Pale Limbs" even if the tune does slow down a little and near mid-tempo towards the end. For these ears, the effect of contrast of speed works.
The upfront vocals and the dynamics the band use when the tempo changes that separate Grimtone from the black metal hordes. Those who don't normally enjoy black metal may well enjoy this album as more accessible than a lot of the sub-genre.
Release Date: 8 December 2017
Grimtone on bandcamp
Grimtone on facebook
Monday, December 4, 2017
Label: Ripple Music
There's an undeniable psychedelic haze in the music of Canadian band The Hazytones but there's also a love of traditional hard rock. Take for example, the opening track on this self-titled debut, "Light of Day", which has elements of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and AC/DC yet doesn't sound like any of these bands as a whole. The track isn't patchy, it's just that The Hazytones have the patchwork know-how of a decent musical tailor. Through the fuzz, there's a sleazy and slightly metallic beat to "Fool's Paradise" that wouldn't be out of place of all those eighties hair metal albums. The psychedelia is strong in "Marked By The Devil", there's a definite time travel trip back to the 70's although The Hazytones manage not to sound like a simple throwback to a previous era. It's difficult to listen to "Children of the Universe" and not think of the music and style of Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats although the Hazytones vocals are not close to John Lennon but somewhere between Black Sabbath period Ozzy and Alice Cooper.
There's a muscular sound to "Day of The Dead", although there is a lazy stoner rock groove. The guitar sound is reminiscent of Brant Bjork's solo work. There's a driving rock beat running through "Kill to Survive" which drives the song nicely away from turning into merely straight out heavy metal. More than a touch of Sabbath comes through in "Moon Struck" but there's also a touch of The Cult (especially in the vocals). This track features some smoking hot soloing.
While The Hazytones take influences from the past they manage to sound like a modern band by not sounding like clones of the bands that they are clearly influenced by. You can take a listen to the whole album on the Montreal band's bandcamp page posted below.
Release Date: 3 November 2017
The Hazytones on bandcamp
The Hazytones on Facebook
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Record label: This Charming Man
First things first, I'm old enough to remember when Def Leppard released Hysteria. Some of my heavy metal buddies went nuts over it. A year or so later I was mainly listening to The Smiths and thrash metal. Oddly this sludgy doomy German metal band who go under the handle of The Moth are signed to a record label called "This Charming Man". I don't know anything about their roster and wouldn't be surprised if they've signed bands from many different genres but there's no mistaking The Moth for anything other than a metal band.
There's a very loose metallic muddy sound to the album's title track which recalls early Celtic Frost vocally and instrumentally. There's a similar murky rawness in both the vocals and the playing. "Brachial" opens with an opening that sucks you into the pits of hell then it's clear that the band clearly don't like the likes of you and mess with you with a nearly poppy melody sung over a metallic drone. There's a hypnotic quality to the chanting in "Slow Your Pace" and the drums are hit with a precise loudness. The doom is turned up on eleven on "This Life". If My Dying Bride went for a raw sludge sound, they'd sound a lot like The Moth do on this track. There's a more than slight gothic tinge to the vocals. On "Blackness", the vocals take a turn in another direction and the vocalist sounds like a caveman chewing on a boulder. The instruments are loud and there is a punkish experimental element to this track although The Moth have their feet firmly set in the metal zone. The male/female vocals take a cue from anarchopunk bands.
"Loose" is what happens when someone gives a bulldozer a guitar and says play pop music. It's a stubbornly metallic tune. "Shattered" is reminiscent of High on Fire but The Moth are much looser in delivery. "Fail" has a lot of early Soundgarden running through it especially vocally although there is definitely a similar guitar sound. I also hear some noise rock like Killdozer attempting to break its way out of the shadowy metal into the light of day. Drone, sludge doom and noise rock fans will all derive enjoyment from The Moth's latest release but they are likely to confuse a lot of metal fans with their refusal to have a cookie cutter sound. It's certainly not easy listening.
Release Date: 10 November 2017
The Moth on Facebook
The Moth on bandcamp
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