Norma Jean – Wrongdoers

Review of Norma Jean’s new album titled Wrongdoers, and released via Razor & Tie Records.

normajean-wrongdoers

Tracklist:
01 – Hive Minds
02 – If You Got It at Five, You Got It at Fifty
03 – Wrongdoers
04 – The Potter Has No Hands
05 – Sword in Mouth, Fire Eyes
06 – Afterhour Animals
07 – The Lash Whistled Like a Singing Wind
08 – Neck in the Hemp
09 – Triffids
10 – Funeral Singer
11 – Sun Dies, Blood Moon

Christian metal… An oxymoron to many, a source of inspiration for some, good music for a mere handful. More often than not, your average heavy music enthusiast shuns it like the plague. This is precisely where one needs to bring in that ever so clichéd phrase, “You don’t know what you are missing.” To people with faculties that abound in the dumb ignorance quotient, Christian metal, despite their overtly religious tones has its share of unique bands, which haven’t been given due credit. From the death metal cavalry of Mortification, prog laced thrash from Believer, the unmitigated onslaught that is Living Sacrifice, and the inseparable paragons of old school doom which is Trouble. It probably is safe to say that the 90s held fewer Christian metal bands, yet being those who never allowed quality to take a nosedive like we are full witness to today. Post – millennium, what you have is a slew of metalcore bands that rehash rehashed material and served with a cup of evangelical tea.

Here’s their first single. To just give you a preview of what to expect.

 

As the case may be, there will always be a few exceptions to the rule. Zao was one, Underoath and Becoming the Archetype for a good part were as well. While the rest, were quite content on donning exactly the same piece of clothing and a whole lot of swagger. Then there were a small  lot that started out boring, continued being boring albeit hinting at improvement, until finally they just decided it was time to quit and start anew. Norma Jean is an example.

With their last release Meridional, it was quite obvious they were finally beginning to find their feet as opposed to showing mere glimpses of it. The sound of Meridional was something of a homage to every sound they’ve previously tried out on, to moderate success. Wrongdoers, their 6th down the line, sees the band honing its craft and delivering with much conviction which lacked previously. Just the like their last record a few Dillinger Escape Plan-esque mathcore comes into play, but this time with their own, subtle yet conspicuous little spin on it. Even a few surprisingly sludgy sections do take a peek in and out of a few songs. Then there is your share of off heatseekers such as the absolutely emotive closer Sun Dies, Blood Moon. Playing along the slow reflective line rather than the all guns out blazing style the band is recognized for, coupled with Cory Brandon’s unfeigned warm croons and strung out screams of despair, all makes for a much endearing listen. Songs like Triffids (yes those venomous man eating plants you see on cartoon network), Funeral Singer, If Got It At Five You Got It At Fifty all count powerful crunching riffs than on senseless guitar pyrotechnics.

The album capitalizes on all past misgivings, restructuring them into something more cogent and yet relishing in its controlled yet chaotic environment. Effectively lending the album the necessary appeal and high replayablity, which past Norma jean records I personally think, sorely lacked. This will be their antecedent benchmark for all Norma Jean releases to come. Wrongdoers can do no wrong.

A B-side from the album

 

Advertisements

Weekly Recommendations!!

thumbs-up-ammo-guns-0 See! Even Walter approves it!

Things have been pretty slow on the blogfront. Well i am not going to let out another bunch of excuses and exaggerated moans. Screw it! Lets get on with it already.

With this new edition of posts, i try to bring to your notice a few bands that really have something going for them this year. Albums that i can hopefully coax you into listening. And of course, all the while hoping that you are not a conservative schmuck and is open to all forms of music. But i’d definitely try and stay within the confines of metaldom(did i tickle your conservative dongs there?). That said, these need not always be great albums but they sure are great listens. Hopefully i end up introducing you to something new.

Vex-Memorious

1. Vex – Memorious

I’ve always preferred old school Swedish death metal to the Gothenberg (gah! Swedish again but you get me). Probably due to their more reserved use of melody rather than spattering it all over the place. Most modern melodeath melodies(err! too much ‘M’ there) tires the listener as much as an hour of say technical death metal or listless drone does. Careful and meticulous placement of the melody is tantamount to a good record. Vex seems to get it. Coupled with their really raw and semi-murky production things pan out pretty well. Their sense of melody although subtly eye at the Irish band Primordial’ brand of folkiness, they seem to take it to their own little level. Check out ‘Terra Soar’ for instance, which is probably the best representation of their sound and maybe if you end up digging it move on to the entire bandcamp player.

Lantern_CoverWebCC

2. Lantern – Below

Speaking of old school death metal, Lantern’s Below is by far the best release the genre can boast of all year. Apart from that, Dark Descent is clearly on a roll once again. Quality releases from Krypts, Vorum, and Deprecation have all highlighted how the genre and label can still churn of gems despite being incessantly banked on. Lantern takes the cake though, for fully plowing the dark recesses of the genre and unearthing something completely whole. For instance the band does not limit itself to the staple OSDM diet and inculcates elements of doom, black and thrash primers to the genre. And yes the production is as raw as one might expect and yet it does not manage to diminish any of the quality beheld within.

Check out the track Entrenching Presences which starts off in beefed up Bolt Thrower fashion only lead you into another face pummeling riff.

 

Misery Signals – Absent Light

Misery Signals released their 4th full length Absent Light independently.

ms1

TRACKLIST:
01. A Glimmer of Hope
02. Luminary
03. Reborn (An Execution)
04. Carrier
05. Shadows and Depth
06. Lost Relics
07. Two Solitudes
08. Departure
09. The Shallows
10. Ursa Minor
11. Everything Will Rust

The crowd funding campaign.. A phenomenon which seem to have caught on like wildfire in the music realm.  For all you laymen, certain sites such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter lend artists the option of funding their albums through their fans (who are to offer donations with no limit bar). Fans are then offered some cool add-ons/perks with their purchase of the finished album. This means this can only work out for bands with an established fanbase. Bands tend to toe this line when faced with either of these issues.

1. Completely fed up with their labels’ callous attitude/creative control over the album, and want to dissociate.

2. Bands express the need to go DIY so they gain full control over everything, from production to touring to sales. The profits can be put into good use.

It’s  been great so far. Fans have been paying up rich dividends, in fact drawing an amount of money almost double their actual requirement. With everything going this good one cannot but help but bring a bit of skepticism into the picture. Even if that means, doubting a band that you’ve been quite an ardent fan of. The band in question here is none other than Misery Signals.

After a gap of 5 painstaking years Misery Signals have returned with hopes of creating a few ripples in that almost axiomatic pool of stagnancy –which is Metalcore. Clearly their debut ‘Of Malice and the Magnum Heart’ and ‘Controller’ both left lasting impressions on the scene. Spawning in the process a slew of run of the mill clones (only pretentiously so). The Misery Signals sound has thus been a hallmark within the confines of the genre, something scores of bands have tried to capture and instead found themselves, toppling over each other. So yes, we have several thousand ears yearning for a taste of what was to come.

Well let’s just say, it is hard for bands to build on an already cemented past.  Absent Light sees Misery Signals being themselves, which yes, adds an air of authenticity, but in the end finds itself falling short. What the band has always excelled on was in creating a seemingly undeniable and enviable combination of technicality, melody and lyricism hitherto unsurpassed in metalcore. A fine balance, in fact too fine, as even the slightest of dilutions or inadvertent doses of any one of these, can tip the scale towards the ever so common trapping of “missing something”. With Absent Light the band immerses itself in a tad too much of technicality and the songwriting sort of takes a blow. Each song has great moments, instantly reminiscent of the almost hallowed heights the band had previously traversed. Yet these very songs suffer from passages that fall terribly flat, several mechanical riffage devoid of any life runs rife throughout the album. In the end each song sounds fractured at several points. It disengages the listener as much as it engages hi m. I’ve been through this album several times now and it still hasn’t clicked. The ‘Grower’ card just seems to fail here.

That said, there are a couple of songs such as Luminary, Shadows and Depths, Ursa Minor that still ekes out in to your system despite all attempts of protest. But what takes the cake is the closer Everything will Rust which sees the band stepping outside the rather tepid spectrum they seem to relish in. One might as well call it post-hardcorish. With a stellar guest vocals provided by the vocalist from the funk band Bad Rabbits and your typical Karl’s still undiminished-in-intensity roars over it. A much cathartic 4 minutes I must say.

Much like ‘Mirrors’ (their sophomore effort) this is probably a temporary dip in quality. Very likely to be the case of a band searching for that elusive perfect mix, once again. Although not a bad record by any means, all it does is leave you optimistic for their next release.

Stream the entire album here:

Anagnorisis – Beyond All Light

Achintya Venkatesh reviews the new album from Anagnorisis self-release titled Beyond All Light.

0001634615_10

Tracklisting

1. Eulerian Path (7:38)

2. This Cursed Blood (5:53)

3. Death Mimics Life (9:31)

4. Abyss (6:36)

5. Bountiful Goddess Life (7:36)

6. Forever Night (9:16)

The etymological origins of bands is not something a casual listener often delves into, but with a name as unique as Anagnorisis, one cannot help but satiate the inquisitiveness that one is immediately afflicted by when stumbling upon the obscure. Anagnorisis (ἀναγνώρισις) describes that moment in a play or other non rhythmic work of literature when a key character makes a critical discovery of sorts, or reaches a point of realization pertaining to something imperative to the individual’s existence, and may have several implications on the same person’s continuance. The Aristotelian school of thought on the concept of tragedy alludes the term as a protagonist’s sudden awareness of an absolute situation, often in relation to an antagonist in the very same storyline, serving as a manoeuvre that serves to shift the tale in a redolent direction. Let’s ignore the usual clichés that one generally expresses when dealing with bands from locations that are incongruent with their stylistic preference – art is art and at the end of the day should ideally appeal to people from all walks of life, so geographic location and ethnic ties are rather trivial apropos artistic appeal. I merely mention this in light of the fact that an extreme metal band based out of Kentucky, Louisville evidently comes as a surprise to many, but the very point of such music is to achieve that little piece of transcendence.

The band has been christened a ‘modern’ black metal act with a smattering of death metal elements that  are apparent in their sonic canvas, but such labels really only serve to feed the listener’s preconceptions as opposed to serving as effective and moreover, helpful labels o the music. The album’s opener, ‘Eulerian Path’ blends the audile theatrics of grandeur and foreboding atmospherics amidst velocity-driven tremolo picking and blast beats with tastefully placed, slower, more rhythm-driven segments which add to the dynamic of the track. ‘This Cursed Blood’ is a straightforward black metal number in the vein of Thorns, and is for the most part centred around vociferous aggression with polyrhythms galore that evoke a certain enjoyable familiarity for the seasoned black metal fan. Segments featuring spiralling leads and cabalistic leads certainly hint at faint references to the death metal side of things. The intense sampled section in the middle of the song featuring only vocals effectively juxtaposes itself with the more chaotic segments of the song, although the turn the vocals took towards the end could’ve well been avoided. ‘Death Mimics Life’ lumbers in comparison and is a more composed composition, engrossing one with bountiful tempo changes. Readily discernible, almost traditional metal-driven leads make their appearance in the thick of a barrage of dexterously executed double-bass chops.

Stream the entire album here:

The other half of the album opens with ‘Abyss’, which could be thought of as an interlude of sorts that dabbles with an almost apocalyptic atmosphere. Unconventionality has been the ethos that the genre has stood by since its inception and thus this number has no apparent song structure, which is precisely why it manages to be a uniquely elegiac and somber dirge. The mournful howls atop tastefully restrained and cultivated instrumentation make this the stand out track on the album. ‘Bountiful Goddess Life’ invokes the likes of early Emperor and perhaps even Enslaved, exquisitely executed with appropriate doses of symphonic dramatism that adroitly evades the descending of the composition into a cheese-fest. The acoustic segment of this song is excellent and elicits an introspective mood, and also serves as a build up towards comparatively subdued, more mid-tempo, funereal segments that close the song. The closer of the latter half of the album, ‘Forever Night’ is a testament to the versatility of the band – a melancholic introduction that descends into a polyrhythm-driven bombardment of almost anthemic riffs, which is met by refined symphonic sections along the way on this epic sonic journey, with the percussive diversity serving as the backbone for this ambitious composition.

The vocals are satisfactorily strident and showcase moments that add to the atmospheric nature of the tracks amidst the blizzard of riffs and relentless percussion. The versatility of the guitar work should not go unappreciated, and presents moments of sheer illumination, solely due to excellently selected rhythms that compliment the symphonic sensibilities of the composition in a magnificent manner, as does the percussive congruence with the aforementioned elements. The keyboard work introduces a refined element to the walls of sound presented by the band, and are brought to the fore during fitting moments, especially on the second half of the album. This is by no means a conventional symphonic extreme metal album, and the elements that could mistakenly be deemed such are more subtle in nature, and serve to orchestrate the various elements of the band’s creative canvas. Lastly, the production is somewhat fuzzy but reinforces the monolithic and epic nature of this musical endeavour, and thankfully, is not aurally abhorrent.

Despite the rather clichéd album name, that is, dare I say, a shoddy attempt at summing up this bleak and misanthropic effort, the music is extremely solid and very effectively lives up to its lofty name, but the degree of memorability this album presents might be subject to the listener’s stylistic preferences and orientations. I’d certainly suggest this release for enthusiasts who enjoy Anaal Nathrakh, Wolves in the Throne Room, Judas Iscariot or even Liturgy (this album did have vaguely post-rock references, might I add) and Septic Flesh. I highly doubt, however, that ‘Beyond All Light’ at the very least, will fail to impression even the most casual listener.

Mumakil – Flies Will Starve

Mohammad Kabeer reviews the new album from Mumakil titled Flies Will Starve, released via Relapse Records.

url

Tracklist:
01 – Death From Below
02 – Dawn Of Slugs
03 – War Therapist
04 – Fucktards Parade
05 – Built Of Lies
06 – Shit Reminders
07 – Designed To Fail
08 – Get Exorcised
09 – Fresh Meat For The Grinder
10 – Repudiate
11 – Army Of Freaks
12 – Hailing Regression
13 – Cockroaches
14 – Wrong Turn
15 – Let The World Burn
16 – Piss Off (Part 2)
17 – Waste By Definition
18 – Unfair For Whom
19 – Bring Them To Ruin
20 – Begging For The Obvious
21 – Redline
22 – Blind Disciples
23 – Betrayer
24 – Behind The Mask

Mumakil are actually mythical creatures, from the ever so constantly cited Lord of the  Rings trilogy. Gigantic  elephant like creatures to be precise, and with that in mind you’d probably think Mumakil to be a folk or power metal  band,  but things are not always as they seem now are  they?

Mumakil are a four piece from Geneva, Switzerland consisting of the extremely talented Kevin Foley on drums who has also played with other renowned bands like Sepultura, Benighted and Nervecell. Then we have Jeje on Guitars, Thomas on bass and  Benjamin Droz on vocals. The style of music that these guys play pretty much falls within the periphery of deathgrind, although their sound is very reminiscent of modern deathgrind bands like Plague Widow or Murder Construct, they are still sound close to the roots of the genre. Mumakil have all the elements that a really sick, brutal deathgrind band should have. Blazing fast hyperblast beats (probably some of the fastest I have heard) that take the speed of the genre to the next level, thick, juicy guitar riffs that have that death metal punch that bring a smile to my face, and some pretty intense growls as well.

But then what really brings this band down (well for me at least) is the songwriting or the excess of it, I like my grind really tight , really fast and to move swiftly  from one part of the song to the next without any kind of warning , without smooth  transitions and that’s just something that thrills me every time I listen to it. It’s like an awesome roller coaster ride  that I want to get on again and again, and I am able to find this in most of the subgenres including the two bands I have mentioned above. With their latest “Flies will starve” Mumakil  have got the first two things laid down pretty well but it’s the third thing that’s  the problem,   everything just seems so calculated, so intricate  so well planned  that  much of the chaos  which  I look for in the genre seems lost.  It just feels as if there is just too much emphasis on structure, on deciding what will come next and that simply shoots down the raw emotion that can be associated with this style. Although there are the tracks Fucktards Parade and Repudiate that do manage to create that feeling but they are too few to count. In fact this band is so mechanically precise they make Noisear sound like Anal cunt.

Alas Mumakil this time does not prove to be the gigantic elephant it was meant to be, but I do hope they return next time with an album that will blast my face off .

Stream the entire album right here: