Sonny's Forum Replies

Here's my new review:

I first chanced upon Hexer's debut, Cosmic Doom Ritual, during a random browse through Bandcamp's new metal releases not long after it's release in spring of 2017. I was instantly smitten with the band and their almost ritualistic-sounding sludge-filled doom metal and they have been a firm favourite of mine ever since. Unbelievably, to me at least, all three of their albums to date have less than 60 ratings on RYM, which is criminal for a band this good.

Cosmic Doom Ritual is perhaps a little rougher around the edges than it's successors, but I believe that emphasises the dirty sludginess of their sound more than a crisper and cleaner sound would. The album consists of three tracks each of 11 or 12 minutes duration, long enough for them to develop each track's ideas but not so long as to become self-indulgent and bloated. Each features an atmospheric sludge / post-metal building of tension and atmosphere through their runtime, arriving at a cathartic crescendo as it resolves itself, but each of the tracks has a very different character and all three have their own diverse atmosphere. They are also marvellously evocative and I always find myself conjuring amazing mental pictures to accompany the soundtrack that the album provides. Opener Merkaba, for example, begins serenely enough but soon builds into a dark and ominous sound, that brings to mind the gathering of huge, black thunderhead clouds suddenly erupting in a storm of blackened fury.  My favourite track of the three is the middle one, Pearl Snake, which combines the band's sludgey doom with mystical eastern sounds, evoking the ritual chanting of some long-forgotten Indian death cult. I am always a bit of a sucker for eastern folk sounds being used on metal records and Hexer do make excellent use of the eastern theme here. Album closer, Black Lava Flow, is a throbbing, pulsing slab of sludginess with some black metal hints that really brings to mind the flowing of dark magma from deep in the bowels of some hellish underground volcano. It culminates in a great psychedelic section, complete with analogue keyboards, that feels organic and natural and not at all like it's forced into the song in an attempt to do something unexpected, but seems entirely the way the track should complete it's journey.

I think on this debut Hexer come across as aiming for a sound similar to Ufomammut but with less of a stoner influence and more sludgey, with even a hint of a black metal flavour. Oh, and did I mention that it is heavy as fuck?! Personally I love the thick, crawling riffs and the pounding rhythms that combine to produce an atmosphere dripping with naturalistic and mystical significance and if there is any justice in the world then these guys will become held in much greater esteem in future.


My suggestions for July Ben:

Dauþuz - "Schwarzes Wasser" (from "MONVMENTVM", 2019)

The Great Old Ones - "Visions of R'lyeh" (from "Al Azif", 2012)

Ovnev - "Oxygenation" (from "Transpiration", 2020)

For July please Sonny:

Warning - "Footprints" (from "Watching From A Distance", 2006)

Windhand - "Halcyon" (from "Eternal Return", 2018)

Quoted UnhinderedbyTalent

Top choices, Vinny! Very glad to include them.

May 31, 2023 10:22 PM

I will go with the Tyrant's Reign ep, thanks.

Over to you Vinny.

May 31, 2023 10:13 PM

I will go with the Nordjevel album.

OK Vinny, you're up next.

May 31, 2023 10:10 PM

I am familiar with Acid Bath's Paegan Terrorism Tactics (although I am not as big a fan as some) but I have never listened to When the Kite String Pops, so I will take Daniel's advice and go with that.

Over to you, Vinny.

June 2023

1. Obelyskkh - "Aquaveil" (from "The Ultimate Grace of God", 2023)

2. Condenados - "Tierra de cementerio" (from "El camino de la serpiente", 2023)

3. Ningen Isu - "りんごの泪" (from "人間失格 (Ningen shikkaku)", 1990) [submitted by Morpheus]

4. Gore - "USA Is Calling" (from "Hart Gore", 1986)

5. Lake of Tears - "Come Night I Reign" (from "Forever Autumn", 1999) [submitted by Daniel]

6. Konvent - "Sand Is King" (from "Call Down the Sun", 2022) [submitted by Vinny]

7. Evoken - "The Mournful Refusal" (from "Antithesis of Light", 2005) [submitted by Ben]

8. Theatre of Tragedy - "Aoede" (from "Aegis", 1998) [submitted by Daniel]

9. The River - "Broken Window" (from "Drawing Down the Sun", 2006) [submitted by Sonny]

10. Tiamat - "Alteration x 10" (from "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber", 1997) [submitted by Daniel]

11. Encoffination - "The Keys of Hell and Death" (from "We Proclaim Your Death O' Lord", 2019)

12. Coffinworm - "Of Eating Disorders & Restraining Orders" (from "IV.I.XIII", 2014) [submitted by Daniel]

13. Hell - "Victus" (from "Hell", 2017) [submitted by Vinny]

14. Dolorian - "Raja Naga – Rising" (from, Voidwards, 2006) [submitted by Ben]

15. Leechfeast - "Bells of Fire" (from, "Leechfeast / Nightfucker Split EP", 2023) [submitted by Sonny]

Hi Ben, could you please add Austrian crusty speed metallers Ewig Frost.

Could you add Cincinnati funeral doom outfit Opium Doom Cult please Ben.

Hi Ben, my suggestions for June:

Árstíðir Lifsins - "Ek sá halr at Hóars veðri hǫsvan serk Hrísgrísnis bar" from "Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir" (2020)

Emperor - "Thus Spake the Nightspirit" from "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk" (1997)

Quoted Sonny

Hi Sonny... you've selected the Árstíðir Lifsins track previously. I'd include it again, but it is a near 18 minute epic, so I've selected another popular track off the album. If you'd prefer to replace with something else, let me know. Cheers.

Quoted Ben

Ah, OK, that's fine. Sorry. 

Atheist - Unquestionable Presence (1991)

As I have iterated before on many occasions, I am not a fan of technical death metal (or tech-thrash either for that matter) but my experiences with Atheist have been nothing but incredibly positive. The reason for this, I think, is that these guys don't make the technicalities of their music the be all and end all, but rather they make the jazz elements and their technical expertise work to enhance the high quality death metal that they produce. I mean, these guys produce absolute killer riffs, some of which still contain a deal of thrashiness, such as the main riff on the title track, or on The Formative Years, and that is what I want to hear when I listen to a death metal album - riffs, riffs and more riffs... oh and a certain degree of brutality, another aspect of their sound that is well and truly taken care of. So with that aspect of their songwriting sorted they then give themselves license to enhance and elaborate upon their ideas with jazz-influenced sections, multifarious time changes and displays of technical skill a great deal of their contemporaries could only marvel at, I suspect.

The drumming and basswork are superb and sound fantastic, Tony Choy's bass playing in particular is impressive as he weaves his basslines in and out of the sound, at times in step with drummer Steve Flynn like conjoined twins, such as during the technical sections of An Incarnation's Dream where the two combine to weave musical magic. Kelly Shaefer has a pretty mean death growl, not so deep and rumbling as some, but with a nice vicious snarl to it. Shaefer and Rand Burkey also turn in some mean solos that howl and squeal nicely but, man, I just can't get over them riffs.

At a mere 33 minutes this may appear to be quite a slight album, but Atheist just pack so much into it that it is more than enough to sate the appetite. In fact I would argue that knowing when to stop is also a lost art amongst too many modern metal acts who insist on issuing bloated hour-plus efforts that can oftimes test the patience and I, for one, would much rather have half an hour of this level of quality. So, first and foremost, Unquestionable Presence is a top-drawer death metal album with enough brutal-sounding riffs to stop a charging rhino, but Atheist held ambition enough not to be satisfied with "just" that, they further employed their technical prowess and songwriting skill to push the boundaries of what death metal could be and can justifiably be considered one of the seminal bands (along with Chuck Schuldiner's Death) of the technical death movement. I'm just not sure if the later acolytes of Atheist always concentrated on writing brilliant death metal songs first and foremost like the massively impressive Floridians did, so for me, this is one of the absolute premier tech-death albums and, despite my reticence regarding tech-death generally, I could listen to this all day long.


May 26, 2023 07:49 AM

Rippikoulu - "Musta seremonia" demo (1993)

I hadn't revisited this cult classic of a mid-90's demo tape in many years but Ben recently asked me for my opinion on it & I noticed that I hadn't rated it on Metal Academy yet so I felt it was about time I gave it another sitting. The six tracks included run for just over half an hour which is a good length for this kind of release &, while the production may be really raw, it  loses none of it's effectiveness. In fact, I feel that the crushing down-tuned riffage & depressive atmospherics are only enhanced by it which is the sign of a true underground gem. I really love the deep death growls too as they're wonderfully monstrous but don't sound generic in the slightest.

Musically, Rippikoulu's sound is a tale of two cities. On the one hand you have the dark, suffocating doom/death of bands like Spectral Voice, Winter & diSEMBOWELMENT, only it's been combined with the grimy, mid-paced, tremolo-picked conventional death metal of early Bolt Thrower & the outcome is nothing short of splendid. Perhaps the lack of production can make a lot of the material sound a touch samey but it's only a short release & the couple of more atmospheric highlights that close out the demo certainly stand out, particularly the spectacular "Pimeys yllä Jumalan maan" which about as good as doom/death gets. If I'm being picky I'd say that the faster parts are a little less effective than the doomier sections but this is a quality effort from a band that clearly showed a lot of unfulfilled potential.


Quoted Daniel

A five-star rating from me for this one, Daniel. I have a copy of the 2010 re-issue on CD and it gets plenty of spin-time in the Sonny household.

Khanate - To Be Cruel (2023)

Released 19th May 2023 on Sacred Bones

To Be Cruel is only Khanate's fourth album in the 23 years since their formation and it has been fourteen years since previous release, Clean Hands Go Foul. To be fair, the band had originally split in 2006 with little prospect of reforming, it appeared, and the main man behind Khanate is none other than Stephen O'Malley, so he has been otherwise occupied with Sunn O))) and his zillion other projects for the last two or three decades. The other members of Khanate are drummer Tim Wyskida and bassist James Plotkin who, along with Runhild Gammelsæter were both members of legendary, one album only, drone metal outfit Khlyst and vocalist Alan Dubin who, along with Plotkin was in New Jersey grindcore/industrial legends O.L.D. and is more recently the voice behind drone/noise outfit Gnaw. So with a pedigree like that, don't go into To Be Cruel with expectations of hearing anything even remotely melodic.

The album consists of three tracks, all clocking in at around the twenty-minute mark and a degree of patience will serve you well as you tackle the ensuing hour and one minute of hulking insanity. In fact, even with the patience of the Dalai Lama, the majority probably wouldn't get very far with To Be Cruel because this is not music for everyone. It is grindingly slow, exceedingly sparse, hulkingly menacing and lacking any kind of melody or hooks for the uninitiated to hang on to. O'Malley's massive, hulking guitar chords, bolstered by Plotkin's glacially-paced, seismic bass and Wyskida's sparse drum hits and crashing percussion set the scene with an atmosphere of terrifying menace, like a slow-motion, one-take camera shot of a walkthrough of a serial killer's homestead, as dread builds against the appearance of the killer himself. And when he appears, in the guise of Alan Dubin's genuinely disturbing vocals, you know you have experienced true fear. Dubin's vocal performance sounds truly unhinged and if you thought Edgy from Burning Witch sounded scarily deranged, then Dubin is about to take you even further away from any grasp on sanity, whether he is screaming at the top of his lungs in frustrated defiance or cajoling with gentle whispers, you feel you are in the presence of a mind that is warped beyond any recognition of reality. The excessive distortion, those percussive crashes and Dubin's howling of frustrated agony all combine to produce one of the grimiest and scariest sounds on a drone album. Mental pictures of delapidated barns full of rusted scythes and rotting pig carcasses insert themselves in your brain unheeded as you seem to be subjected to the workings of Leatherface's inner monologue.

I am a massive fan of Khanate's debut album, but they may even have bettered it this time around. I don't know if working on it during the pandemic in '20/'21 added an extra aura of despair and hopelessness to the recording process, but whatever mysterious alchemical formula they happened upon seems to have been a lightning in a bottle event that has very possibly produced the last word in extreme doom metal albums. Do not listen to To Be Cruel in the dark if you wish to preserve your sanity. Makes Texas Chainsaw seem like a Disney movie and Lovecraft like a bedtime story.


Labyrinthus Stellarum - "Tales of the Void" (2023)

Labyrinthus Stellarum are a Ukrainian three-piece from Odessa in Ukraine, who must be commended for even being able to get an album out considering the challenges they must currently be facing. They were founded by vocalist and keyboard player, Alexander Andronati along with guitarists Alexander Kostetskyi and Misha Andronati (who is a mere fifteen years old) and Tales of the Void is their debut release. I was tempted to check Labyrinthus Stellarum out after being quite struck by their track Void Dwellers which is actually the opener from Tales of the Void when it was featured in May's Academy playlist for the North.

The trio play a combination of atmospheric black metal and dungeon synth with a space theme which, admittedly, isn't the most original theme for an atmo-black outfit, but it is carried off with such beautiful arrangements that lack of originality is never an issue that leaps to mind. They don't just intersperse their black metal with some synth-laden interludes, although that does occur, they are also unafraid to incorporate the synths into the black metal sections which seems to produce a really nice, mellowing effect and actually makes Tales of the Void an incredibly relaxing album to listen to. They may have taken influence from the likes of Darkspace, particularly thematically, but their style of black metal is more laid back than Wroth's often desperate-sounding earnestness. I know I have probably made the album sound more blackgaze-y than it is, but I think fans of Deafheaven and Alcest may enjoy what these Ukrainians are delivering. The actual black metal content of Tales of the Void sounds to me more similar to Saor than to Paysage d'Hiver and when that is combined with the gently soaring synth work then it assumes a quite epic visage that is well-suited to nature-themed BM. I don't think it encapsulates the atmosphere of space as well as the top cosmic BM practitioners like Mare Cognitum and Darkspace as it feels a little too warm and earthy and doesn't really evoke the frigidity of cosmic majesty as effectively as the true masters. The synths do sometimes offer a weird, space-y dimension, such as those present on the track Cosmic Winds, but again, for me, they just as often evoke earthbound phenomena like rain or waterfalls. Of course this is my interpretation of what I am hearing and others may disagree, but I feel cosmic BM should be a little more frigid-sounding than this.

That said, this is still an exceedingly promising debut from what appears to be a young and inexperienced trio of musicians. The tracks are very well put together, the guitars are layered to wonderful effect and the synths add a nice additional dimension. Alexander Andronati has a decent shrieking vocal delivery, although his voice is buried in the mix occasionally, especially when the synths are present as they do tend to dominate. I can see this appealing to those who may not be regular black metal fans, as well as the more seasoned atmo-black veterans. No doubt the trve will take against it, but they do with anything that even hints at any production values, so there's nothing new there. A band well worth keeping an eye on as they do seem to have cracked one of the key elements of any type of music, which is the songwriting.

Favourite track: "Cosmic Winds"


May 24, 2023 02:05 PM

Epheles - "L'ombre de la croix" (2001)

Epheles were formed in 1997 by french brothers Malphas and Nephtys (possibly not their real names!) L'ombre de la croix is a four track mini album that marked the band's debut release, being released in May of 2001. It does suffer from some production issues and sounds like a reasonable quality demo, but as this is black metal we are talking about that is by no means an insurmountable hurdle. This is viciously feral-sounding black metal that is also incredibly atmospheric, despite some of the atmosphere being lost in the production. Along with the blasting and Nephtys' keening, shrieking vocals there is a liberal use of keyboard layering, ambient sections and slower riffing parts which makes the tracks feel quite narrative. Opener Winds of Despair, for example, tells the tale of the narrator's bleak existence since the death of his beloved, with lyrics that My Dying Bride would be proud of and sorrowful ambient parts that are usurped by rabid, raving shrieks and intense blasting as if his sorrow is unable to be contained.

Epheles songwriting is actually quite strong, especially the first couple of tracks which are the longest at nine and fourteen minutes and displays a strong sense of atmosphere and variety, whilst maintaining the fundamental essence of evilness that is the basis of black metal. Look, if you like your metal to be crystal clear and well-produced then you are best looking elsewhere, but if you thrive on the lo-fi gloriousness that really good black metal can possess then I think you may be pleasantly surprised by L'ombre de la croix.


P.S. They actually have a brand new album out which I will have to check out soon.

Blasted the playlist whilst out on an extended morning dog walk and enjoyed it immensely... well at least three quarters of it. I must admit that, much like last month as it seemed to end with more brutal death metal, it kind of lost me a bit. The Drumcorps track intrigued me as it almost sounded like a kind of cyber-sludge - I don't think I could listen to a whole album of it, but as a single track on a playlist it stood out as an interesting anachronism. I will also have to check Misery Index out - a band whose name I have seen around for what seems like ever, but never listened to before.

I'm thinking I've got a bit of an easy gig with the Fallen playlist as 15 or 16 tracks usually covers the two hours but Daniel (and Vinny on the Pit playlist) have to come up with twice that number of tracks to fill two hours - well done lads for your admirable perseverance.

Death - "Human" (1991)

If the only thing I took away from my deep dive into the early years of death metal was my re-evaluation of Death and elevation of Chuck Schuldiner to the level of metal god, then it would have been a worthwhile exercise. Being a death metal numpty at the outset I had, even here on the forum pages of Metal Academy no less, expressed scepticism that Death were all that. Approaching the band's releases chronologically and in temporal context revealed that yes, indeed, they were all that and Chuck Schuldiner may well have been the most evolutionary of all metal songwriters. A question that begs some contemplation is where would metal be now if Chuck had lived a longer life, what the hell would he be playing nowadays and is there anything even remotely like it in existence? I think it is fair to say that he was indeed the very rare case of a true musical visionary.

Where Death excelled is that although they constantly changed, literally from album to album, they didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater and always gave their existing fanbase a way into their new material by a process of evolution of their sound rather than a complete overhaul. There may never be a better example of a metal songwriter's evolution than Death's seven albums. It is almost as if with each release it is possible to trace the individual steps of Death's metamorphosis.

For Death's fourth album, Human, out went the rhythm section of bassist Terry Butler and the much-maligned drummer Bill Andrews (after a legal battle over the pair's use of the Death name on a European tour) and surprisingly, considering how big an impact he had on Spritual Healing, out too went guitarist James Murphy. Previously Chuck had written material with other members, but for Human he wrote all the tracks in isolation and, possibly realising he needed band members with the chops to do his new material justice, in came exceedingly capable musicians in Sadus bassist, Steve Di Giorgio, and Cynic members, drummer Sean Reinert and guitarist Paul Masvidal. This was an inspired move, as there is a greater emphasis on technicality on Human that is pulled off brilliantly by the four members.

The sound on Human has a greater clarity than previous Death albums and allows the multifarious riffs and more complex rhythms distinction in the mix that may have been lacking in the earlier albums' muddier production. Both Reinert and Di Giorgio's amazing contributions can be heard distinctly and their technical prowess in both maintaining the rhythms and adding interesting work of their own to the shifting soundscapes is obvious for all to hear. Paul Masvidal's lead work is excellent and he takes a jazzier kind of approach to his soloing than Murphy's more traditional heavy metal approach, and this increasing technicality and diversity seems to be one of the major reasons for his recruitment into Death's lineup. The solo halfway through Secret Face, for example, brings a spanish, almost flamenco-like flavour to the track which, especially in 1991, seems like an impossibility in death metal, but is pulled off here with aplomb.

Chuck Schuldiner had always written great riffs, but on Human they became more complex, seemingly evolving and mutating as each track progresses, like some kind of virus. Despite this increasing complexity and technicality Human still has some incredibly powerful death metal riffing - the main riff of Lack of Comprehension is an absolute killer that is as muscular as anything you could have heard at the time. Human is comprised of truly memorable tracks that stick in the mind well after the silver disc stops spinning and this is a huge plus for me as I often find a lot of technical metal is so focussed on it's own complexities that listenability is sacrificed at the altar of technicality for technicality's sake. Just when you think you have the measure of Human, though, they toss in instrumental Cosmic Sea, which is an insane piece of work that comes at you with pretty much everything Chuck could muster, atmospheric keyboards, soaring solos, weird, otherworldly dissonance and another brutally heavy riff all combine for one of the most interesting metal instrumental tracks you may ever hear. Then on top of Human's sublime instrumentation there are the vocals. Chuck Schuldiner is a seminal death metal vocalist and I think the main thing that makes his vocals so great is that they sound equally as horrified as they are horrifying, as if even he himself cannot bear the evil tidings he brings.

At 33 minutes the album is Death's shortest, but there is just so much to digest within it's slight runtime that it is hard to believe only half-an-hour has passed come album's end. This is as rigorous a workout as you could reasonably have expected back in 1991 and most bands would fail to get even close to producing a half hour of metal as genuinely awe-inspiring as Human.


I'm going to throw Blut Aus Nord into this conversation. Sure, they have a couple of albums that weren't that well received in the late 2000s, but the vast majority of their 14 full length albums are superb. They're also quite experimental with their sound, making their consistency extra impressive.

Quoted Ben

Good shout Ben. 

A couple other bands fitting this category that come to my mind include Annihilator and Kamelot

Quoted Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

You're on your own with the Annihilator call Andi. I'd actually go the complete other direction with them to be honest.

Quoted Daniel

Yeah, I'm With Daniel on this one Andi. Personally I find Annihilator unlistenable.

Enslaved are a great band and one of my personal favourites. To produce such a consistently strong run of releases over such a long period of time without putting hardly a foot wrong is an impressive feat.

Maybe controversially I would suggest Opeth as I really like their prog rock stuff as well as the metal they are better known for. Another impressive band, I think, is Monolithe who have also been ridiculously consistent over their nine albums and have evolved from a death doom outfit into a more prog metal, albeit still death doom-based, band.

They haven't changed a huge amount over the years, but Esoteric have been exceptionally consistent (if you are a funeral doom freak anyway).

May 22, 2023 01:26 PM

So for once I have listened to and reviewed all nine of this month's clan features and here is my ranking of those nine releases in descending order:

THE INFINITE: Amorphis - "Under the Red Cloud" (2015) 4.5/5

THE FALLEN: Black Cobra - "Invernal" (2011) 4/5

THE HORDE: Nails - Abandon All Life (2013) 4/5

THE SPHERE: Fear Factory - "Soul of a New Machine" (1992) 3.5/5

THE REVOLUTION: Gaza - "He Is Never Coming Back" (2009) 3.5/5

THE PIT: Agent Steel - "Mad Locust Rising" (1986) 3/5

THE NORTH - Hoplites - "Τρωθησομένη" (2023) 3/5

THE GUARDIANS: Persuader - "When Eden Burns" (2006) 3/5

THE GATEWAY: Klone - "Meanwhile" (2023) 2.5/5

I didn't truly dislike any of this month's features, although most of them did have niggling issues that prevented better scores from me.

Anyway, Andy takes the "Feature of the Month" award from me for May (who'd a thunk it?) Thanks Andy...

A nasty little burst of abrasive and aggressive grindcore that will give your ear'oles a good pummelling with most of it's ten tracks. It isn't exactly relentless, however as the two longest tracks are delivered at a more considered pace, but it is generally speaking an exercise in nothing less than aural violence. There is blasting aplenty and drummer Taylor Young is given a pretty intense workout, but luckily he seems more than up to the task. The guitar tone is brilliant, aided I believe by Kurt Ballou of Converge who was producer on "Abandon All Life", and maintains a terrific clarity despite it's thick crunchy sound.

The two slower tracks, that is " Wide Open Wound" and closer "Suum Cuique" are, unsurprisingly I suppose, the ones that appeal to me most, as they deliver more on the atmosphere front with looming, menacing riffs rather than just trying to blow your balls off! I guess grindcore records have to be taken as an overall package and the adrenaline-fuelling effect of the majority of the genre's output is the main thing as most of the songs display only minor differences in a lot of cases, and that is the case with some of the faster material here, but those slower tracks do give the listener a foothold into the tracklisting and "Suum Cuique" is actually a very effective, slower and brooding end to the record.

Where it loses marks for me, in what has become a bit of a theme with this month's features, is the vocal department. I prefer grindcore with a vocalist whose vocals are a bit more OSDM sounding like Barney Greenway or Terrorizer's Oscar Garcia and although Todd Jones doesn't actually hit "shouty toddler" level, he still sounds a bit metalcore-ish for my taste. The vocals aren't bad enough to be a deal breaker, though, and on the whole I did enjoy this a lot, it's variation in pacing and generally excellent instrumentation being huge plusses.


OK, so this four-track EP is really only about two tracks, the first being an intro to the title track and the third being a fairly faithful cover of Judas Priest's The Ripper which reveals nothing other than that maybe Priest should have recruited John Cyriis insted of Ripper Owens when Rob Halford jumped ship.

So the two tracks in question, the title track and closer Let It Be Done / The Day at Guyana, are fairly decent thrashers that tick a lot of the boxes instrumentally but, a lot like this month's Fallen feature, suffer for me in the vocal department. Basically I don't like Cyriis' screeching vocals very much at all which, considering that I have no issue with either King Diamond or Cirith Ungol's Tim Baker, is damning indeed! I think Let It Be Done is by far the stronger of the two tracks (where the singing does least damage) and the closing Day at Guyana riff is a killer that seems wasted as a mere fade-out for the track. The title track is OK, but I wouldn't go overboard for it, although if Tom Araya was singing on it instead of Cyriis then it may have been a thrash classic.

I guess I would have to say that this slight EP has had very little impact on me and I don't really feel that I missed out on anything by it slipping past me first time around.

Thrash - yes. Speed - no.


Invernal is composed of thick, dense riffs that are common in sludge metal but which also possess a thrashiness and complexity that is much less common in the genre. This makes the album sound more kinetic than the vast majority of sludge, which by it's very nature is a slothful style of metal, but there is more than enough doominess present, despite the uptempo pacing, to justify it sitting under the Fallen's umbrella. Instrumentally this is a really fine album, the complexity of the busy riffing on a track like Somnae tenebrae is exceedingly interesting and doesn't fall into the trap of excessive "jerkiness" that I feel with a lot of technical metal and all the tracks flow along really nicely. When the band do turn in a slower-paced riff like the early riff in Corrosion Fields then they build a nice, ominous atmosphere and they aren't afraid to occasionally insert a gentle post-metal section, such as during Abyss, to break things up a little and build anticipation for their next aural assault. The production is great and very clean-sounding, which isn't always a plus for a sludge metal album, but doesn't hurt the sound here and the riffs, although they aren't as muddy as those on many other sludge releases, have a depth and "crunch" that should satisfy all but the most demanding of sludge metal fundamentalists. It is fairly unbelievable to me that this has no bass at all, because the guitar sound has such amazing depth to it that you don't even notice the four-string's absence. The drumming is excellent, but is occasionally drowned out a little, particularly on faster sections like during the middle of Erebus Dawn, however, Rafael Martinez is a busy little bee and he turns in a performance to rival even Animal from the Muppets!

The "but" is coming now I am afraid, and it is the vocals that are the subject of it. Like Vinny I think the vocals are the weak point. I actually don't mind them per se, they are not as grating or ascerbic as some sludge vocals and they don't have the shouty, "spoilt toddler" quality that turns me off to other releases so often, but they just don't sit comfortably here with the instrumental work. I have seen elsewhere that there is little variety to be found on Invernal, which I would ascribe to the singing as it does seem to sound the same on nearly every track and the accusation of lack of variety can't really be laid at the door of the instrumentalists. Invernal would definitely benefit from a more aggressive-sounding and harsher singer I feel.

In summation, this is a really excellent album musically and the two guys have done a great job of sounding like twice that many, but they really should look at drafting in another singer to push them into the top echelon of sludge metal marvellousness.


It's an understatement to say that I am not the world's biggest European Power Metal fan, but I can get along with it in small doses and whenever I am confronted by an album of EUPM, I hold out some hope that this will be the one to change my mind on the genre as a whole. Spoiler alert: this is not that album, but I didn't find listening to it to be a terrible chore either. Instrumentally When Eden Burns had a fair bit to enjoy with the odd killer, thrashy riff and some nice soloing on display. However, my primary and perennial issue with EUPM is in the vocal department where OTT delivery seems to be a requirement, as does the Queen-like layered backing vocals, all of which do sweet FA for me I'm afraid. Sure, I like vocalists who have range - I really dig such metal stalwarts as Dickinson, Halford and even Joey Belladonna - but there is just something about the lead vocals in EUPM that rubs me up the wrong way. The earnestness with which the lyrics are delivered is often just too much for me to take seriously and ultimately I find this area to be where the cheesy odour that pervades EUPM smells strongest. To be sure, Persuader vocalist Jens Carlsson is far from the most egregious example of OTT vocalists, but it's still a part of Persuader's sound, as are those irritating, choral backing vocals. Thankfully Persuader don't feel the need to double-down on the excess by drenching their sound with layer upon layer of keyboards and this is a wise move, because when they are at their best, ie when they are at their most thrashy they have quite a visceral sound, not unlike early Iced Earth.

I can't claim any great urge to revisit When Eden Burns after this and I know it may feel like I am damning with faint praise, but it is one of the least annoying euro-pm albums I have heard.


Hi Ben, could you please add Moon Curse from Milwaukee. Ta.

Could you please add California's Worship of Keres, Ben. They only released a couple of EPs back in 2016/2017, but I quite like their female-voiced stoner doom sound.

Could you add Poland's Above Aurora please Ben?

Klone are yet another band I have been blissfully unaware of until now. Meanwhile is the latest of the band's eight albums and is quite a nice album of progressive alternative metal. The band are very accomplished musicians, obviously, and their sound is highly polished, as is their songwriting, for me a little too polished. At first this sounded great, but as the album proceeded it felt so controlled that it came over like it was lacking in character and more than once I wished that the band would just let rip and let themselves go. Although it sounds quite proggy it doesn't really contain any extended instrumental sections, in the vein of a band like Riverside, which would make the whole a lot more interesting. As it is, it just sounds like an exceedingly professional collection of songs that pass by without me being able to make any emotional connection with, other than in a chin-stroking admiration for their musical adroitness, but that isn't enough for me to return to a record. Although I do genuinely admire the band's skill, I am unable to engage with Meanwhile on an emotional level, so no, it isn't really for me I'm afraid.


For June could you add:

Ningen Isu - りんごの泪 (it's on two different albums, but it doesn't matter which one you pick)

Quoted Morpheus Kitami

Added. Thanks Morpheus.