Age of Woe – Inhumanform

Mohammad Kabeer reviews the new album from Age of Woe titled Inhumanform, released via Give Praise Records.

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Tracklisting
1. Like Embers
2. The King of Thieves
3. The Antagonist
4. Black Rain
5. At First Light
6. Red Eyes
7. Cold Cycle
8. Rite of Passage

Here I am again  with another review and this is a very  special  moment  for me  as this is the first time  I will be reviewing  something from  Give Praise Records,  which is a label  that introduced me to Hardcore,Grind and Powerviolence .  I have such great memories listening to gems like Soil of Ignorance, The Afternoon Gentlemen and Titanarum, and now to know that I have gotten an official    promo from the label itself is indeed an honour. The very band that I will be reviewing from this label today is Age of Woe and the album is called In Human form.

 

 

Age of Woe are from Gothenburg, Sweden, a place famous for harvesting Melodic Death Metal, this band however are a different breed. The band’s sound can  be described  as sludge  mixed with hardcore  and that’s pretty much it really, not saying that that’s  a bad  thing. I mean  the band has everything   that makes up for some good  sludge/hardcore, dirty  guitars ,  massive breakdowns   energetic drumming  ,adding slower sections  so that there is some breathing space etc.  Then again I do feel  that it all of it  comes out sounding a little  … well for the lack of a better word  a little redundant.  Honestly  they don’t   really have anything   new that they  can  bring to the  table , although they do try   to  at times  with songs  like Black Rain  which add elements of funeral doom and The Antagonist,Cold  Cycle  and A Rite of passage  which   gives the band’s  sound  a melodic turn  but these few bright moments can’t really hide that.

But then again for what it is Inhumanform is a lot of fun, if you  just   want  to let loose  without thinking   too much, this would be a pretty good choice, not the best but definitely a good one.

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Hexvessel – Iron Marsh (EP)

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy reviews the new EP from Hexvessel titled Iron Marsh released via Svart Records.

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Tracklisting:

1. Masks Of The Universe
2. Superstitious Currents
3. The Tunnel At The End Of The Light (Redux)
4. Woman Of Salem (Yoko Ono cover Feat. Rosie from Purson)
5.  Don’t Break The Curse (Feat. Alia from Blood Ceremony)

‘Dawnbringer’ was an auspicious debut for Hexvessel, bringing them to the attention of the growing occult doom scene, even though they don’t really play doom, or didn’t at that point, and getting them a slot at the Roadburn festival. Their second full-length, ‘No Holier Temple’ added a wider sonic range, including electric guitars. The album was also darker, more varied and heavier – without resorting to generic strategies – than its predecessor, which felt a bit whispy, a hair’s breath away from twee at times. Make no mistake, Hexvessel are still playing psychedelic folk music, but they’ve moved from being a potential novelty act into something that has the power and scope to appeal to fans of seminal neofolk acts like Current 93.

The ‘Iron Marsh’ EP carries on with this trend, opening with a moody epic track called ‘Masks of the Universe’ where incantatory vocals and folksy fiddles co-exist with almost gothic electric guitars. ‘Superstitious Currents’ is more folksy, with an elegiac tone and brooding, droning strings contrasting with the lucid fiddle melodies and percussive backbone. ‘Tunnel at the End of the Light’ is a remake of a track from ‘Dawnbearer’. This new setting underscores the evolution of the band’s sound. The original version was sparser, acoustic, more overtly folk. This time there are electric guitars and keyboards and a conventional drumkit, as well as female backing vocals in place of Carl-Michael Eide’s guest vocals, but the song hasn’t lost its darkly beautiful mood. The arrangement is less craggy, but it hasn’t exchanged character for volume.

Hexvessel have made the transition from something akin to a darker, more pagan (and less eccentric) The Incredible String Band to something closer to the magnificent blend of folk music (and mood) with rock instrumentation achieved by Jethro Tull on ‘Heavy Horses’ and they make good use of the expanded resources afforded by this transition. The Yoko Ono cover, ‘Woman Of Salem’ carries on with Hexvessel’s tradition of oddball cover choices, although this one is a lot less obvious yet even more apropos than some. A snaky wah-laced guitar slithers in and out of a thrumming acoustic guitar and keyboard arrangement with dual male and female vocals. The end result is a weird, black magic-haunted song that could easily stand alongside ‘Witchfinder’ by Mandy Morton and Spriguns, a unjustly obscure band from the British folk revival of the 70s (look them up – youtube is your friend!). It’s also worth listening to Yoko Ono’s original – she’s so much more than just the woman who supposedly broke up The Beatles. The last track, ‘Don’t Break The Curse’ starts strongly and has some great spoken word bits, but feels a bit over-extended by the time it finishes.

I don’t think this EP marks another step forward in Hexvessel’s stylistic growth, but I also think they are at a point where they can afford to consolidate the gains they’ve made in extending their sonic palette rather than venturing into further experimentation. As such, ‘Iron Marsh’ shows off the strengths of their current approach and serves as an effective appetiser for the next full-length.

Abnormal Thought Patterns – Manipulation Under Anesthesia

Today Jude Mascarenhas reviews the new album from Abnormal Thought Patterns titled Manipulation Under Anesthesia, released via Lifeforce Records.

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Tracklisting:

1. Velocity and Acceleration Movement 5
2. Velocity and Acceleration Movement 6
3. Velocity and Acceleration Movement 7
4. Velocity and Acceleration Movement 8
5. Calculating Patterns
6. Harmonic Oscillators
7. String Lullaby
8. Autumn
9. Manipulation Under Anesthesia
10. Electric Sun 2.0
11. Quintessence

With a name like Abnormal Thought Patterns, you, like me must be expecting either visceral goregrind music or new age djent-dja-djent. I was hesitant about checking this album out because of those apprehensions. I can honestly tell you I’m glad I looked past them.

Abnormal Thought Patterns was born out of the backbone of prog-metallers Zero Hour, who released a string of albums in the early 2000’s, most prominently Dark Deceiver and The Towers of Avarice. If you hear those albums you can clearly hear the clay that would be Abnormal Thought Patterns.

The band comprises of the Tipton Brothers, Jasun and Troy, on guitar and bass respectively, and Mike Guy on drums.

Now that you know who plays what ; onto the album !

SOUND :

Like I had previously stated, just before hitting ‘Play’ I was expecting either my ears to get ripped off by blast beats or to be nauseated by djeneric djent. What I did hear instead nearly made me think it was the latter : Dissonant sweep patterns. But after the initial 20 seconds, I realized this was far removed from djent. The second I heard that mid-rangy bass I knew I was in for a mind-frak session (In the good way, not the religious figures and little boys way)

The last time a band had written an instrumental that made me groove this much was when Scale the Summit released Monument. This band has pulled out all the stops when it comes to licks. Not only are they technical, they’re tasteful, and they don’t get stale, which is the case with most technical/progressive albums. This takes the best elements out of bands like Blotted Science, Cynic, Liquid Tension Experiment and Scale the Summit and gives you this delicious blend of aural goodness.

There’s no mind-numbing song progression nor is there any weird drum pattern or off-time signature drums. This is melodic music that is jacked up with two musicians that really know their instruments and want you to enjoy the music, not make you feel bad about not being able to comprehend it.Plus there’s little curveballs of jazz and other weird oriental elements here and there to keep you interested and to keep the musically elite on their toes. In fact by comparison to todays instrumental bands, they’re letting technicality in the arrangement of the songs take the backseat.

You can tell the band have been woodshedding these songs for quiet some time now. Everything just fits like a glove, and you honestly don’t get worn down the way people usually do when they listen to instrumental albums. Unless of course you’re the next Mozart.

The album flows really well too. The transitions between songs are fluid and you really don’t feel that pause between them. In fact I heard this album in it’s entirety, non-stop, and I just couldn’t feel it bearing down on me.

PRODUCTION :

The production on the album is top-notch as well. Nothing groundbreaking, but everything does sound really good. The guitar tone is A-grade and the bass production is outstanding on this album. The lead lines on all of the stringed instruments mesh perfectly with each other and the drums don’t sound overproduced or compressed either. The album tries to be as organic as is allowed in this day and age what with digital studios being more convenient. I also really liked that ethereal piano sound they used on Harmonic Oscillators. More of that in later albums please.

Unfortunately I haven’t got the slightest idea who produced and engineered the album, but hats-off to you fine Sirs, for a job well done.

Unfortunately we just don’t have any music content related to the new album available as yet. So we recommend that you listen stuff from their last EP which luckily is in the same vein as well.For now listen to this album sample.

Evangelist – Doominicanes

Today we have Jayaprakash Satyamurthy reviewing the new album from Evangelist titled Doominicanes, released via Doomentia Records.

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Tracklisting:
1. Blood Curse
2. Pain and Rapture
3. Deadspeak
4. To Praise, to Bless, to Preach
5. Militis Fidelis Deus

Ah, the children of Candlemass, what beautiful music they make! Evangelist lack the prog edge of Solitude Aeturnus or Forsaken, or the raw Satanic appeal of the lesser-known Angel Of Damnation, instead channeling the lugubrious essence of classic Candlemass songs like ‘Solitude’ and ‘Samarithan’. When I heard their debut album, ‘In Partibus Infidelium’ I was struck by the skill, expressiveness and melodic beauty of the lead vocals, very much in the tradition of Johan Langqvist, rather than Messiah Marcolin’s more tremolo-laced vocals, as much as the lead guitar work. In that sense, the band was able to compensate to some extent for the stately majesty that characterizes their songs – a stateliness that verges on the static, without transcending into the profound dolor of funeral doom.

 

 

It’s much the same story on the follow-up, the somewhat cheesily-titled ‘Doominicanes’. The songs here are filled with great, long-lined, melancholy melodies, extended and well-crafted guitar solos and emotive, tuneful vocals. The only problem is that there isn’t very much distinctive here – there are few melodies and hooks that stand out, and very little change in pace from song to song, leave alone within songs. In this sense, they may described as aiming for the monumental pacing of Reverend Bizarre, but the more bleak, stripped-down riffing style practiced by that band was a better fit for this approach, lending it a befitting, bottom-heavy heaviness. This kind of epic doom, however, is more overtly rooted in classic metal, especially NWOBHM, and as such it needs a wider dynamic range to bring out its full scope.

There are some highlights – notably ‘Deadspeak’ which has a few interesting melodic turns and a relatively catchy chorus. The last song, ‘Militis Fidelis Deus’ also reaches a plateau of epic grandeur. And none of the other material is ever less than pleasing in its musicianship and melody. It’s just not varied enough or impactful enough in its sameness of effect. It’s a great album for the die-hard traditional doom addict who needs something to listen to in between revisiting the greats of the genre, but this group of doom evangelists need to add a few new strains to their psalm book if they want to make a convert of me.

Omnium Gatherum – Beyond

Today we have Jude Mascarenhas reviewing the new album from Omnium Gatherum titled Beyond, released via Lifeforce Records. We usually don’t go for a track by track review, but then Mr.Jude here seemed to be too enamored with the album that he insisted it’d be the best way to put it across to the reader. Read away lads!

Omnium-Gatherum-Beyond

Tracklist :

1. Luoto
2. New Dynamic
3. In the Rim
4. Nightwalkers
5. Formidable
6. The Sonic Sign
7. Who Could Say
8. The Unknowing
9. Living in Me
10. White Palace

Omnium Gatherum are a melodic death metal band from Finland that has been around since 1996.

With the level of experimentation going on in today’s metal scene it was a refreshing break to be reviewing some straight forward melodic death metal. Now while I have heard alot about omnium gatherum, I hadn’t actually heard any of their releases. which really left a blank slate while reviewing Beyond.

TRACK BY TRACK :

luoTo – the first track off the album gives off a very ‘sparkly’ feel but not in the R-Patz way. When you’re done listening to the first few seconds of that chimey clean guitar transition into that soaring lead passage. You kinda get the gist of what Omnium Gatherum is all about : Dynamics and ambience

The New Dynamic – A little cheeky for a song title but unfortunately here’s the part of the album that I really have a bone to pick with : The vocals. The vocals just don’t fit in with the beautiful soundscapes the instruments manage to create. It’s like shoving a piece of bacon between two slices of fluffy cheesecake. That too it’s generic over the counter bacon, not the good stuff. Now I know some of you are ok with pairing sweet things and bacon (You heretics) But I’ll take the soaring clean vocal delivery towards the end.

In The Rim – The driving tempo of the previous track carries on into In The Rim. This is a pretty straightforward track but I do believe the vocals actually gel with the music and the arrangement on the track is pretty amazing as well.

Nightwalkers -Not really fond of this song. This track trudges along slowly and unfortunately puts a lot of emphasis on the vocals. You’ve got a musical break which is pretty trippy but it can’t save the song from sounding like a filler

Formidable – ok that intro sounds alot like Hotel California, but despite this heinous crime I really adore this track a lot as it manages to shift between sullen driving and upbeat trippy atmospheres quiet well and those clean passages have aurally pleasing acoustic guarantee some tasty bass licks to boot

The Sonic Sign – Cheesy intro. It’s like Dragonforce on valium. But despite that deceptively cheesy intro, the song does have some really nifty riffs, plus the best lead work on the album, they really do tear it up on this one.

Who Could Say – This song could easily pass for an 80’s pop-rock song (minus the uber-reverb on the snare drums) but the transition into that growling passage really hits you like a righthook cushioned with a dozen pillows. What the track lacks in complexity, it makes up with beautiful melodies, soul and an extra dash of epicness.

The Unknowing – This is the most, dare I say it, beautiful, track of the album. The track oozes epicness like a Lord of the Rings movie. The growls fit this track perfectly, and the addition of clean vocals would’ve hit this one right out of the park. The music is heavy but the overlay of subtlety and the generally soothing atmosphere make this a wonderful track.

Living In Me – The solo guitar on the intro could tell you that this is probably gonna be one of the heavier tracks on the album. And you wouldn’t be wrong. The last few tracks on this album is where Omnium  Gatherum really seem to hit home. The song is groovy, driving and has some really well-placed riffs. Straightforward in song structure but exceptional arrangement and sick riffs make this worth the listen. Also, the song has a sick solo with some stellar lead guitar passages.

White Palace – The sleeper hit on the album. Moderately paced and laced with that atmosphere of serenity. It’s almost like they want you to lie down in some open field, staring at the sky while you contemplate the wonders of the cosmos. This song could easily contest for best album closer of the year. Not because of extraordinary music or kickass riffs, but the ability to fit the mood of the albim perfectly and give it that final gentle push before it closes.

Just a heads up : It ends with the same riff on LuoTo, which probably is a hint that you might wanna play the album all over again.

 

PRODUCTION:

The production on this album is one of the vital elements as to why the album is so good. The ambience on the album with the synths and strings, and the underlying guitars gives you that feeling of ethereal awe. The same way you’d be impressed if you were to suddenly see a dragon burst out on the silver screen. While the latter is something we’ve grown accustomed to in movies.

The synths saturate the album while the guitars add the technicality without sounding wanky. The distortion doesn’t sound overly crisp but that suits the sound of the album just fine. The lead tone is probably influenced by a certain bald, sunglass-toting virtuso, but it is orgasmic (Ha..Zohan) The bass is actually audible and lends to the mood perfectly. I can’t imagine those sparkly clean guitar passages without those funky bass lines to add that extra tinge.

The cookie cutter growls just don’t cut it, even if clean vocals were to be properly introduced. The style and delivery is boring and stale and lacks the punch to perfectly top off the beautiful music.

Nothing special about the drums, just your regular melodic death metal drums. Lots of double kick, occasional half-timed blastbeats. Lather,rinse amd repeat. But hey, that’s exactly what this album calls for and I would’t have it any other way.

 

FINAL  REMARKS :

Few albums and bands can actually bridge the gap between heavy and ambient without overdoing any of the two or both. Omnium Gatherum have bridged a fine working link between the two but there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to vocals. I do hope Dan Tompkins comes in on a silver shining horse, wearing a white cape, after being tossed down an abyss while battli-…..ok enough LOTR references. Here’s wishing Omnium Gatherum the best of luck and that they continue to improve on this beautiful work of art.