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For a band fronted by one the most reknowned exponents of brutal death metal, Six Feet Under's debut feels almost muted in comparison to what the world was accustomed to hearing Chris Barnes normally deliver. There's no feeling here of any real intensity and that is obvious from track one. No artist can get away with such a monotonous riff selection and expect much in the way of plaudits from a death metal fan such as myself.
There's an obvious Obituary influence on Haunted which given Allen West's involvement isn't that unexpected, but fuck dude you know more riffs surely? At times it does play like an Obituary record with Chris Barnes on vocals instead of Chief Spewer Tardy. The mix on the guitar sound leaves it with an odd grating edge to it that belies something that sounds like death metal but reminds me of the sound of a White Zombie record in all honesty.
When the album does pick up it soon loses any mojo it manages to muster and falls back on dull and lifeless riffs played against mid-tempo drums and vocals. I mean Terry Butler was in fucking Death five years prior to this and although you can hear him plinking away on here he literally must be bored to tears and Greg Gall sounds like he is only using one arm on the drums.
I have heard lots of death metal in time but I cannot remember anything else as dull, lifeless or uninspiring as this record. It sounds almost simplistic as opposed to just stripped back, like the band are all new to death metal and are learning how to play full DM songs together (badly). What we end up with on Six Feet Under's debut is what sounds like an Obituary cover band who don't really know the band that well (other than the guitarist who can play all the riffs in his sleep) and deem it okay to just write their own tracks (badly).
It is hard to remember Gorguts as anything other than boundary pushing, avant-grade and unique purveyors of some of the most challenging music out there. But everybody has to start somewhere and their debut was a straight up death metal record. No evidence was shown in 1991 of much of anything in the way of technicality with the focus instead being on the release of the familiar sound that was infecting much of the metal world in the early nineties.
It was well-played stuff most definitely with the band having retained three quarters of the line up from the ’89 demo …And Then Comes Lividity barring the replacement of Chouinard on guitar by Sylvain Marcoux. Here on the debut full-length there were obvious Florida influences in terms of the established death metal scene which is grest to hear on an album from a Canadian band that clearly knew the genre they were entering into very well.
By no means should this be viewed as an inferior release in the extensive and increasingly technical (from the next album onwards) albums of one of the grestest death metal bands ever to tread foot on the earth. Considered Dead does what most bands fail to achieve on their debuts, making a splash in an established scene without being bloated or turgid. In a world that was accepting the inevitable infection of death metal, the debut from Gorguts was reliant only on established traits within the genre. It wasn't interested in being that different because the ability of the musicians was more than sufficient to lay down this excellent foundation stone for the band to build their discography from.
As they drifted into their follow up release you could still hear the influence of Considered Dead throughout The Erosion of Sanity giving a real rooted and grounded feel to the added technicality they were adding at that time. For a fan of the band throughout their career the importance of the debut album from Lemay and company cannot be underestimated.
The new record from Australian progressive metal band, Caligula’s Horse is here and I enjoy what I heard here. However, it is worth noting that this band does seem to be falling into a formula and it does have me worried about their future.
For starters, this album does sound excellent. The mixing is very strong; the low end is very prominent throughout, allowing for the guitars, vocals and additional harmonic/melodic instruments to soar with a lot of power and precision. From a songwriting perspective, Caligula’s Horse are one of a handful of groups that have managed to incorporate djent breakdowns without losing hooks, and that is prominent here on “Slow Violence” and “Autumn”.
But I quickly realized that, while the hooks are nice, they do lack the immediacy of In Contact. This album also suffers from having a very similar formula to that record as well. The shorter tracks have better thought out song structures, while the closing track “The Ascent” is nearly eleven minutes, when it could have been easily broken up into three or four separate ideas. In short, they are not connected together very well.
Throw on top of that two bonus covers that are even more flushed out than the best tunes on the album and you get an interesting listen. Probably my least favourite release by Caligula’s Horse so far, but still enjoyable. They still have a unique sound that separates them from many of their contemporaries in modern progressive metal. I’m just worried about their artistic future.
I swear, there's no better ending to The Fallen Modern Era Clan Challenge and my official Clan Challenge journey for the 4th clan than reviewing the final album from a gothic metal band before disbanding due to the death of their remaining found member, and that band is Woods of Ypres. The metal community was shocked to hear the tragic news that Woods of Ypres founding multi-instrumentalist/vocalist David Gold was killed in a car crash. It was right when Woods of Ypres was planning on going on their first world tour and release the album David Gold and co. poured a lot of effort into making via the popular Earache Records, all set for a larger audience, but that day never came. Despite that truly tragic setback, Woods 5 - Grey Skies and Electric Light allowed Gold's career in a swan song bang that he would look down from Heaven with pride.
I've heard that in this album, Woods of Ypres went down a stylistic path similar to previous albums in a different direction; most of the black metal elements were replaced by melodic doom metal similar to late 90s Katatonia. The clean vocals are mournful and dominate the mix. Gold's incredibly bold baritone is double-tracked with higher octave harmonization a bit like a more gothic Cynic. The vocal melodies are central to each song, as opposed to the riff-oriented songwriting approach they used to have and other metal bands have. Sadly, you won't hear any more of that from this band.
I'm gonna write a scenario based on but not directly relating to (and definitely not making fun of) Gold's death in a way that fits with the review, so here it goes... Opening the album is "Lightning & Snow" having melodic sensibility balanced with startling energy. So this person we'll call "Dave" was driving his car one dark stormy December night in Ontario. It was the deadliest snowstorm that winter with lightning. He was riding up a highway bridge when lightning struck. It didn't hit him but it was near enough to shock him, causing him to crash through a guard rail and plunge into the ground below, killing him instantly. The band was clearly inspired by various different gothic metal bands in "Death is Not an Exit" including HIM, Type O Negative, and the early 2000s eras of Katatonia and Paradise Lost, all in an uplifting mix. Dave's soul begins his ascent to heaven and keeps repeating to himself "Death is Not an Exit", hoping it's not the total end of his soul. A few sections in "Keeper of the Ledger" has a decent amount of screaming while the singing still comes in. The soul of Dave finally arrives in Heaven where he greeted by the "Keeper of the Ledger", the gatekeeper who keeps track of departed souls' lives via a memory ledger. "Traveling Alone" is where the keyboard orchestration creeps in for the album's depressing atmosphere. The keeper begins looking through Dave's personal records in the memory ledger starting with the moments before the crash; Dave started travelling alone in his car during that deadly snowstorm.
The clean streak goes on until "Adora Vivos", one of the best songs of the album. It blasts through the verses of vital purpose before Gold's shimmering vocals soaring through the catchy chorus. The personal records now reach Dave's memories with his family members and friends, and the keeper tells Dave's soul how much they would miss him and tells him to "Adora Vivos (worship the living)". The groove track "Silver" has a chill hook with interesting variation. The keeper tells Dave's soul a message he telepathically received from a living friend of his that we'll call Joe who expresses his mourning over Dave's death and how his life would never be safe without Dave who's now in the "Silver Heaven" ("When you're silver, you never come first, when you're silver, the truth always hurts"). The hellishly catchy "Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)" with low vocals in verses. The keeper finds out that his crash might've not been an accident and that it might've had suicidal intentions because Dave was overwhelmed by anxiety and despair over his exhausting career. The keeper tells Dave's soul that career suicide isn't real suicide and that he could've ended his career without ending his life.
"Modern Life Architecture" is the first of two crushing doom metal monoliths. The keeper gives Dave's soul a lecture about how modern life is an architecture that if it breaks down, Dave could've just built it back up again instead of destroying it all. "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)" is the other doomy monolith, an two-part 11-minute epic with gothic metal atmosphere, melodic vocals, and dramatic lyrics. Also it has a killer guitar solo during the slow second half. The keeper reveals in his ledger Dave's cremation and ash disposal; his ashes were put into an urn and scattered in secrecy in an ocean to sink into the deep distant waters. The two ending tracks are piano-like ballads after a metal experience through the previous 9 songs, both with sincerity from the heart and soul, starting with "Finality". The keeper finishes reading all of Dave's personal records and concludes that even though he can't let Dave into Heaven because suicide is a sin, he can bring Dave's soul back to his last hour just this once to correct his fatal mistake. Dave accepts the offer. "Alternate Ending" is the finale ballad of heartbreak and lost love. The line "back on the highway, under the moon, my final moments, still wondering about you" might've been a coincidental foreshadowing of Gold's death that he was unaware of his impending tragic fate. Still it adds a different teary poetic dimension painted onto a song that was meant to represent a man's final moments of heartbreak. Dave returns to the moment before he stepped into his car but, because he still felt overwhelmed by heartbreak anxiety, he decided to blow his chance to make amends and just relive the car crash. He died again and stayed in Hell for all eternity. The end...
Man, talk about a sad hopeless scenario I've just made. However, one can hope for Gold to be in a better place outside this world now, looking down at the success of his career-winning doom classic that is Woods 5 – Grey Skies and Electric Light, which he was never there for but wishes he was. David Gold really should be remembered for many years to come and we owe it to all to this golden piece of metal art. We shall never forget his legacy!
RIP David Gold....
Favorites: "Death is Not an Exit", "Adora Vivos", "Career Suicide (Is Not Real Suicide)", "Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye)", "Alternate Ending"
When it comes to reviewing albums in Clan Challenges, I have my own expectations for what an album might be like before actually take a full listen. If people think Virgin Black albums like their debut Sombre Romantic and this album Elegant and Dying is a unique masterpiece, maybe I can think the same thing too. And they were half-right! The songs fit greatly in an emotional multitude, but is it still worth it for me? No, not too near but not too far. Elegant and Dying in an emotional album of 8 long compositions (one of them having its intro separated into its own track). There are great passages of slow dark atmosphere, all in the piano, keyboards, cello, and drums, whereas the heavier crushing guitars help with the black metal-ish chaos that occurs in some parts.
Let me just say how amazed I am of the song structures. Virgin Black's songs in this album are really long, ranging from 6 to 9 minutes, plus a 20-minute epic!! With a lot of room to explore different aspects and territories, this album takes on more of a progressive gothic doom direction. It's like an amazing dark journey with many daddy-long legs of the journey. However, the songs are bit too alike. You can probably shuffle around many different parts of some songs with others and it wouldn't sound much different. That's why I think progressive metal bands such as Between the Buried and Me are better at making lengthy epics.
The first track "Adorned in Ashes" begins the symphonic gothic doom atmosphere that carries on track after track. "Velvet Tongue" is a true highlight here and converts the symphonic gothic doom atmosphere into its actual style. The intro first part of "And the Kiss of God's Mouth" is a good standout with its electric guitar shredding during a soft acoustic melody. Then the second part begins a gorgeous guitar assault of melody and heaviness.
"Renaissance" is perhaps one of the best songs here that spread its dark wings of melancholy onto its listener. But the real centerpiece of the album 20-minute (17 if not including the hidden interlude) epic "The Everlasting". It is a surprisingly coherent long track with tons of melancholy added to the mix. After a soft dark 10 minutes, the heavy part comes in, then after a few minutes, leads to an awesome brief intense part of black-ish chaos, particularly in the blasting drums and background shrieks. Then the song calms down once more and fades into its hidden outro. Amazing symphonic progressive doom epic!
In the middle of "Cult of Crucifixion", the emotional heaviness drops for a pointless one-note piano melody. However, "Beloved" is a song to like for its melodic part. The perfect finale "Our Wings Are Burning" starts slow and beautiful before breaking into a faster chorus with clean singing and black-ish screaming, plus a beautiful guitar solo.
Comparing two albums by a band just because you don't like one of them seems a bit unfair. If anyone here who listens to this band likes their debut Sombre Romantic, that's fine. Sure you might think of Elegant and Dying as a letdown, but even with some flaws, it still comes out as a magnificent masterful mix of melancholy and aggression. Many other would make that mix too. This may not be the greatest part of a gothic metal journey, but it still has its captivating power!
Favorites: "Velvet Tongue", "Renaissance", "The Everlasting", "Our Wings Are Burning"