Sonny's Forum Replies
I've got a feeling, Ben, that this may well be one of those albums that I think differently about depending on how I'm feeling myself, because I can forsee times when the more melodic and lighter tracks may well appeal to me more than they have over the last few days. That said, the tracks I mentioned in my review should continue to hold lasting appeal as I found them to be really good and very much in a vein I consistently enjoy. So it may come to pass that I up my rating some time in the future. I also think it may have inadvertantly suffered as I have been alternating it with the new Ophis album which is briliant - thanks for suggesting a track from it in the Fallen monthly playlist and tipping me off to it.
Anyway, I'm still glad you nominated it as Rapture are a band I've been meaning to check out for a while and it was certainly no dud.
With what I understand of your taste in death doom I can certainly hear why you nominated this release Ben. I have reservations on it, although I can understand why it is a well-received album. Anyway I have posted a review and reposted it here:
Rapture are yet another melodic death doom band I have been aware of but not listened to until now. I have often seen them compared to Katatonia, a band I can either take or leave, so that's probably why I haven't been too rigorous in checking them out up to this point, especially as I prefer my death doom to be of the filthy, old-school kind rather than the melody-driven style employed by Katatonia et al.
I must admit that I found the first couple of tracks a bit lacklustre, but when the riff to This Is Where I Am kicked in then I felt much more comfortable. It sounds very much like early Opeth with a doom vibe (I had to check the album information just to make sure it definitely wasn't Mikael Akerfeldt on vocals) and that certainly is not a bad thing, this comparison also feeling appropriate for next track The Fall by which point I am very much more invested in this. These two tracks are fairly uptempo when taken in the context of the death doom sound, but are where the band sound strongest to me and along with the title track are the album's high water mark. Unfortunately, when the band try to infuse their songwriting with a bit more subtlety they seem to lose momentum and just feel a bit weak, as illustrated by the massive drop-off from Futile to the frankly sappy Someone I (Don't) Know and so I much prefer the tracks with the more muscular riffing which are mostly concentrated around the middle of the album.
I can certainly hear why Rapture are held in high regard within the melodic death doom community, as there is no doubt, even to my ears, that they are very accomplished both as songwriters and performers, their music effectively utilising the contrasts of light and dark. But as any rating I dole out has got to be subjective and a reflection of my own personal enjoyment then I am unable to give it the highest of marks as there are parts I personally didn't enjoy, despite there objectively being nothing wrong with them. In fact reading this review back it sounds more negative than I intended, because I really enjoyed the more uptempo (and darker?) tracks, This Is Where I Am, The Fall, Futile and the excellent closer (About) Leaving but the rest I found somewhat forgettable I'm afraid.
Wow good call Vinny, this album fucking rips. Really got off on this one. I rustled up a review in between being beaten black and blue by it's relentless aggression:
I'm sure you are all familiar with that scene in Pulp Fiction when Vincent Vega hits Mia Wallace with an adrenaline shot after a heroin overdose and she sits bolt upright with a huge gasp. That was the effect this album had on me the first time I sleepily put it on just after waking up one morning. There is no subtlety here, there is no light and shade, this is nothing more or less than an adrenaline shot to the heart that will energise you and thrill you. Condor are a Norwegian three-piece and blackened thrash metal is their meat and drink, red and raw. The songs in themselves aren't especially memorable (and that isn't a criticism) - there are no melodic hooks or riffs for your brain to cling on to, but they are aggressive and they are relentless. For thirty-six minutes this album makes you feel like you are on a runaway train without any means of braking, holding on for dear life as it hurtles along. In a way it kind of reminds me of Reign in Blood, in that occasionally the band sound like they are barely holding it together and are on the verge of it all falling apart into chaos, but somehow they manage to maintain the integrity of the songs, which makes for a remarkably thrilling listen. Lyrically the songs mirror the music in that they deal with violence, horror and evil and Chris Sacrifice's ragged shrieking vocals perfectly fit in with this aesthetic. Condor have managed to pull off the extremely difficult trick of, to a certain extent, reproducing the sound of their heroes, such as Sodom, Kreator and Slayer whilst also making it sound modern and relevant to younger audiences as well as appealing to original fans of those bands.
Apparently Condor are members of the Kolbotn Thrashers Union, a loose grouping of thrash bands from the Kolbotn area of Norway, brought together by Fenriz of Darkthrone and include Nekromantheon who have released one of 2021's best thrash albums. In my opinion blackened thrash albums like Unstoppable Power and the aforementioned Nekromantheon's Visions of Trismegistos have saved thrash metal from it's twenty-year long sojourn in the wilderness and bands playing this style are now starting to sound relevant again. Long may it continue as these albums have made me enthusiastic about thrash metal once more.
Hi Ben, could you add Arkham Witch's new album Three Bladed Doom please.
An entertaining playlist this month. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed everything on it, but it was a very interesting listen.
1. Marduk - Beast of Prey (from Panzer Division Marduk, 1999) [Submitted by Sonny]
5/5 Brutal Metal of War.
2. Thyrfing - Döp dem i eld (from Vanagandr, 2021)
4/5 Pretty good - enjoyed it.
3. Mare Cognitum - Occultated Temporal Dimensions (from Luminiferous Aether, 2016) [Submitted by Sonny]
4.5/5 Swirling atmo-black that sweeps you away with it's lush atmospherics.
4. Antichrist Siege Machine - Carried Into Darkness (from Purifying Blade, 2021) [Submitted by Vinny]
4/5 Thundering war metal. I'm a fan of this album.
5. møl - Serf (from Diorama, 2021)
3/5 Not really for me - a bit lightweight for my taste.
6. Havukruunu - Rautalintu (from Havulinnaan, 2015) [Submitted by Xephyr]
3.5/5 Decent if not great pagan BM.
7. Serpent Column - Disobedience (from Katartisis, 2021)
2.5/5 Serpent Column are currently one of the darlings of the BM scene and I get that we're all supposed to dig this cacophony, but it doesn't do anything for me. Guess that makes me the uncool one... again!!
8. Empyrium - Über den Sternen (from Über den Sternen, 2021)
3.5/5 A bit cheesy, but I did like the doomy vibe.
9. Inferno - The Wailing Horizon (from Paradeigma (Phosphenes of Aphotic Eternity), 2021) [Submitted by Vinny]
4/5 Proper infernal and filthy sounding - liked it a lot.
10. Blasphemy - Demoniac (from Blood Upon the Altar, 1989) [Submitted by Daniel]
5/5 I love Blasphemy and this sounds like ass - which only makes it even cooler!
11. Code - The Rattle of Black Teeth (from Resplendent Grotesque, 2009)
2.5/5 Not for me - I especially didn't like the clean parts at all.
12. Drudkh - Sunwheel (from Autumn Aurora, 2004) [Submitted by Xephyr]
4.5/5 Drudkh are almost always high quality and this is no exception.
13. Antaeus - Inner War (from Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan, 2000) [Submitted by Sonny]
4/5 Proper filthy, misanthropic black metal that makes no pretence to being anything else.
14. Cradle of Filth - Crawling King Chaos (from Existence Is Futile, 2021)
3.5/5 Despite still not being up my proverbial alley, surprisingly I didn't hate this within the context of the playlist, although the thought of a whole seventy minutes of the full album is still too much for me to contemplate.
15. Astrophobos - Liktal (from Corpus, 2021) [Submitted by Vinny]
4/5 Really liked this. Simple, old-school black metal.
16. Untamed Land - A Nameless Shape (from Like Creatures Seeking Their Own Forms, 2021) [Submitted by Xephyr]
3.5/5 I like the spaghetti western atmospherics better than a lot of the more usual european folk metal crap that gets bandied about a lot nowadays within atmospheric black metal circles. Whilst not being exactly my cup of tea, it makes for an interesting mix.
17. Burzum - Spell of Destruction (from Burzum, 1992) [Submitted by Daniel]
4.5/5 I guess I am one of the few who enjoys Burzum's debut more than his other releases. I know it's not objectively better than Hvis lyset tar oss or Filosofem, but I just enjoy it's naive and basic sound more. If I had ever made a black metal album I would have wanted it to sound like this.
18. Cantique Lepreux - Lune défroquée (from Sectes, 2021) [Submitted by Vinny]
4/5 Love this old-school sound like the Astrophobos track.
19. Panopticon - Black Soot and Red Blood (from Kentucky, 2012) [Submitted by Daniel]
5/5 I think I have made my feelings on this album well known before so will say no more about it other than Panopticon are very, very near the top of the tree when it comes to atmospheric black metal.
My suggestion for January:
Borgne - To Cut the Flesh and Feel Nothing but Stillness (5:50) from Temps Mortes (2021)
And if you need any more to lighten the load Daniel:
Yerûšelem - Eternal (5:15) from "The Sublime" (2019)
Master Boot Record - Virdem (3:21) from Virus.DOS (2018)
Phobonoid - Omega (2:50) from Orbita (2014)
My suggestion for January:
Tool - Triad (6:35) from Lateralus
My suggestions for January's playlist Vinny:
Eternal Evil - Terror of the Sphinx (5:11) from "The Warriors Awakening Brings the Unholy Slaughter" (2021)
Craven Idol - Iron Age of Devastation (3:58) from "Forked Tongues" (2021)
Blood Tsunami - Horsehead Nebula (12:31) from "Grand Feast for Vultures" (2009)
Celtic Frost - Jewel Throne (4:01) from "To Mega Therion" (1985)
Viking - Berserker (3:42) from "Do or Die" (1988)
January playlist suggestions:
Wormwitch - Canadian Denim Mountain Attack (4:19) from Wolf Hex (2021)
Gloosh - Hexenring (9:53) from Sylvan Coven (2021)
Khandra - Irrigating Lethal Acres With Blood (6:29) from All Occupied by Sole Death (2021)
01. Krux - "Black Room" (from "Krux", 2002)
02. Crowbar - "The Lasting Dose" (from "Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form", 2001) [submitted by Daniel]
03. Light Field Reverie - "Dreamwalker" (from "Another World", 2020) [submitted by Ben]
04. Moanaa - "Inflexion" (from "Embers, 2021)
05. Haddock - "Captain Wolfe's Journey" (from "Captain Wolfe's Journey to the Center of the Sea", 2016) [submitted by Sonny]
06. Monolord - "The Siren of Yersinia" (from "Your Time to Shine", 2021) [submitted by Sonny]
07. Grief - "Come to Grief" (from Come to Grief, 1994) [submitted by Sonny]
08. Boris - "Huge" (from "Amplifier Worship", 1998)
09. Void of Silence - "Farthest Shores" (from "The Sky Over", 2018) [submitted by Ben]
10. Adrift For Days - "The Leech" (from "The Lunar Maria", 2010) [submitted by Daniel]
11. Saint Vitus - "Mystic Lady" (from "Hallow's Victim", 1985) [submitted by Daniel]
12. The Flight of Sleipnir - "Thaw" (from "Eventide", 2021) [submitted by Sonny]
13. Ba'al - "Sepia" (from Reverence EP, 2019)
14. Ophis - "Default Empty" (from "Spew Forth Odium", 2021) [submitted by Ben]
15. My Dying Bride - "The Crown Of Sympathy" (from "Turn Loose The Swans", 1993) [submitted by Daniel]
High Ben, please could you add Sweden's Eternal Evil.
Great debut album from a band of young Swedes obviously raised on a diet of Slayer and the giants of Teutonic Thrash that is a throwback to the days when every release didn't have to push the envelope or change the world, but it was enough for an album just to be great for headbanging to.
A bit of a mixed month for me with some highs and lows, including an old favourite, a couple of goodies I hadn't heard before and some I'll never listen to again. Anyway, in order of preference:
1. The Horde: Nile - Annihilation of the Wicked 5/5
2. The Pit: Exumer - Rising from the Sea 4.5/5
3. The Infinite: Persefone - Core 4.5/5
4. The Fallen: Messa - Feast for Water 4/5
5. The North: Sun of the Blind - Skullreader 4/5
6. The Guardians: W.A.S.P. - The Headless Children 2.5/5
7. The Gateway: Spiritbox - Eternal Blue 2/5
8. The Revolution: Trivium - In the Court of the Dragon 1.5/5
9. The Sphere: Dusk soundtrack - sorry still can't bring myself to spend two and a half hours listening to a video game soundtrack!
Exumer are one of the lesser lights of the Teutonic Thrash scene behind Kreator, Sodom and Destruction, releasing a couple of classic albums before originally splitting in 1991 of which Rising from the Sea is my favourite. Their sound is typical of 1980's German thrash and Exumer do a great job of harnessing the requisite aggression and intensity that is the hallmark of the Big Three Teutonic giants. They are obviously heavily influenced by Slayer, bassist / vocalist Paul Arakari in particular doing a more than passable impression of Tom Araya - Decimation sounding incredibly like Jesus Saves from Reign in Blood for example. There is a kind of polished rawness to the album, it actually sounds better than you imagine it does, this being no demo-quality lo-fi grasp for kvlt kudos, but it has pretty decent production values (although saying that I am most familiar with the 2001 re-release so it may have been polished up from the original version).
This isn't a perfect album and the band certainly have limitations, but they write fantastic riffs have a palpable energy and dynamism and, for me, encapsulate a lot of what was best about 1980's thrash. This is no-bullshit, heads-down, neck-wrenching metal from the days when every album didn't have to make a statement or re-invent the wheel, but it was sufficient for it to be merely a great record for headbanging along to (how I miss them!)
I chose this as a featured release because I am particularly fond of the Italian take on doom metal and more specifically I like that Messa have tried to do something different with one of the more stale doom metal sub-genres, ie female-fronted stoner doom where nearly every new band seems to want to be Windhand so they just recycle the same old tropes and very rarely come up with much new and exciting. Anyway I've posted a review which I will repost here:
Italian metal and specifically doom metal, has a fantastic ability to throw us fans a few curve balls now and again - Paul Chain anyone? Messa are another band that attempts to push the envelope and do something a little different with tried and tested metal tropes, in this case female-fronted doom metal which has been very much in vogue over the last few years and has become a bit tired and stale as a sub-genre as successive acts merely regurgitate what has gone before with little attempt to produce anything new or exciting. So when a release like Feast for Water comes along it is like a genuine breath of fresh air.
Following a short intro, the first track proper is Snakeskin Drape which is the most metal track and is fairly orthodox doom within the context of this album. To be honest, despite it being a decent slab of metal, if the rest of the album sounded like this I certainly wouldn't regard it as highly, as there are bands who do the straight-up female-fronted doom thing much better. I presume the track's placement is to ease the listener into the album and not to scare them off by getting too diverse from the outset. The subsequent track Leah also has a very heavy intro, but from then on things become a little less typical as the song alternates between gentle minimalism and crooned vocals to reverb-laden heavy chords with a more earnest vocal.
Messa prove more than willing to bring in other, more mainstream, influences from outside of the metal sphere, such as during the bluesy Seer, but they aren't merely a bolt-on effect to possibly add more mass appeal, rather they become a synergy between the heavier, metal-based material and the more traditional musical styles resulting in seamless transitions between the contrasting styles. She knows has a kind of smooth jazz feel, led by Alberto's gentle piano keys and Sara crooning vocals, being punctuated by a heavy riff-led chorus before segueing into the intriguing Tulsi which begins with what almost amounts to a blast beat and a soaring guitar solo before settling down into it's main riff. The track eventually returns to the jazzy vibe of She knows and actually ends with a brilliant saxophone solo. White Stains has the most memorable riff and chorus and is one of the album's heavier tracks. Closing track Da Tariki Tariqat is an instrumental affair, heavily flavoured with a middle-eastern vibe that builds in intensity to it's zenith and a final release.
The songwriting is excellent, the technical prowess is flawless and Sara Bianchin's vocals are a treat. Messa really are a bit of one-off and are very Italian in their approach to metal, being unafraid to incorporate other influences and take the music to places more cautious and conservative acts would fear to tread. It may not ultimately be to everyone's taste but I applaud the band for their vision and a genuine attempt to push the envelope of what has become an increasingly stale sub-genre.
My favourite track from this month's Horde feature release. Brutal but technical death metal with one of the best solos I've heard on a DM album.
I have documented previously how I struggle with large chunks of death metal, especially the exaggerated violence and brutality. Overtly technical death metal doesn't really chime with me either as it's often staccato nature disrupts the flow of the tracks too much to my ears. Consequently I have a pool of favoured bands I tend to turn to for my death metal fix - Autopsy, Bolt Thrower and Vader for example. Near the very top of that list come Nile.
Nile were one of the first bands I got into upon my return to metal after my hiatus during most of the 1990s, via their Black Seeds of Vengeance and In Their Darkened Shrines albums, so I remember anticipating the release of Annihilation of the Wicked with some relish. Luckily we Nile fans were not disappointed and with AotW Nile unleashed their tour de force. Though it is technically superb, it doesn't flog that technicality to the expense of the flow of the tracks, each of which run like a dream nor does it short-change on the heaviness front, battering the listener relentlessly with wave after wave of brutal riffs and some of the finest solos I have ever heard on a death metal album, such as those heard on Cast Down the Heretic and Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten. The Ancient Egyptian theme is a great motif but doesn't really have any defining impact on the actual music as we are mercifully spared any goofy, faux-authentic egyptian passages, save the odd intro or interjection such as the intro to User-Maat-Re and briefly during Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten. There is plenty of variation in pacing from hulking, almost doom-like passages to brutal headlong charges with the longer tracks making for some seriously epic death metal. Tracks like the title track and Cast Down the Heretic are honestly some of the finest death metal I have ever heard and the quality overall is exquisite, revealing a band that were absolutely on top of their game as both technicians and songwriters. One of my all-time favourite death metal releases and I salute you Daniel for picking this gem for a monthly showcase.
Hi Ben, I'm not sure if I've requested their inclusions before, but can you add Tar Hag (USA) and Olde (Canada).
As for Death Angel, I still love their debut, but can't get on with any of their other releases at all.
I've always liked "The Ultra-Violence" but I can't deny my feeling that it's a flawed & overrated release, particularly vocally. To my ears "Act III" is the band's peak as it saw them ironing out all of the kinks & producing a well thought-out & mature metal record that may not be all that thrashy but makes up for it with quality song-writing & execution. Death Angel's 2000's material is worth a look but I wouldn't say it's essential while their 1988 sophomore album "Frolic Through the Park" is an absolute abomination.
Flawed it may be but when the band hit the sweet spot, man they thrash like a muthafucker. As for being overrated? I personally don't think an album that contains a song like Voracious Souls can ever be deemed overrated!
To be honest I'm not particularly interested in yearly awards. The Oscars, Grammys or any of the endless stream of entertainment magazine award lists mean very little to me. I find it more interesting to hear what a particular person thinks were the best / worst albums, songs, gigs or whatever rather than some faceless consensus as it has a more human and therefore interesting perspective, especially here on the Academy where I think the active members have become a bit more familiar. Popularity has never equated to quality in my experience. Is anyone really interested in saying "______ is this year's Official Metal Academy album of the year"? (If so, great, but it doesn't interest me personally). I'd rather the members posted their own unique highs and lows for a more personal review of the year. But that's just my take on it.
Andi, you may well have time enough to listen to 24 hours of old playlists but I for one definitely do not.
I just cannot get on with Death Angel. To much weird stuff thrown into a band that really can deliver on the thrash front when they put their mind to it. That Eternal Evil album drops today and this sounds like it will scratch my black/thrash itch for the month of December. Having said that I just managed to get Nekromantheon's sophomore LP on Todestrieb Records this afternoon so depending on delivery times that might get a bashing throughout the month also.
I am going right off Sabbat though which were one of my favoured UK bands for thrash - those vocals and me just don't get on like we used to. Kreator, Dark Angel and Testament gave me my hits this month really.
It's weird that you say that about Sabbat as it echoes my own thoughts of recent times. History of a Time to Come was once one of my all-time favourites and I still think it's a great record, but some of it's sheen has faded and most of it is down to Martin Walkyier's vocals. The CD reissue has five live tracks and these are where Walkyier started to annoy me and I can't listen to the original in the same way anymore.
As for Death Angel, I still love their debut, but can't get on with any of their other releases at all.
Girlschool were one of those bands that were embraced by the wide arms of the NWOBHM movement but were really no more than hard rock. I'd like to see their debut album "Demolition" removed from The Guardians & added to Non-Metal.
I completely agree and I'm wondering if now is the time for the Academy to do away with the NWOBHM genre tag altogether as it was only ever a location specific scene within the early years of metal when the definition of what constituted heavy metal was very different to what it is today. I know we don't actually use the acronym as a genre definition ourselves but perhaps it should be disregarded as a metal genre within RYM's genre-tree when considering bands for inclusion in the Metal Academy. It kind of irks that an album like Demolition can get in (even if ultimately as a non-metal entry) but not Machine Head, Secret Treaties or 2112 (it does for me anyway). A band like Demon can get sixteen entries but far more significant and heavier acts like Deep Purple can't get a mention. Shit, even Ted Nugent is ten times more metal than half the NWOBHM. Anyway, it's just a thought.
I've got a feeling someone else was kidding with that Månegarm track as well.
I wasn't actually. I found that atmospheric piece to be by far the most enjoyable thing on an album that I genuinely struggled with.
The dictionary definition of "damning with faint praise" I think!!
Seriously though, why do so many folk metal bands (especially) think we need to hear the crackle of fires, the gallop of horse hooves and the clash of weaponry? If they were any good at their craft the the music would facilitate us mentally envisioning these things as a matter of course - see a band like Saor for example. If I actually wanted to hear all that shit I'd go to a medieval fair at the local manor house (which sometimes I do!)
My comments on each track of my first Fallen monthly playlist:
01. LLNN - "Imperial" (from "Unmaker", 2021)
Thought this was a great track for an intro with it's bombastic "imperial stormtrooper" sound.
02. October Tide - "Grey Dawn" (from "Grey Dawn", 1999) [submitted by Ben]
I'm not sold on October Tide and I think Rain Without End is overrated, but I actually quite liked this one. I'll have to check out the full album.
03. Skepticism - "The March of the Four" (from "Comapnion", 2021) [submitted by Sonny]
The most funereal of the tracks from Skepticism's latest and another slab of quality funeral doom.
04. Paradise Lost - "Elusive Cure" (from "Draconian Times", 1995) [submitted by Daniel]
Despite my aversion to gothic metal I enjoyed this one a lot.
05. Tankograd - "Nie Dać Się Zarżnąć" (from "KLĘSKA", 2021) [submitted by Sonny]
Filthy-sounding, yet quite melodic Polish doom metal from a band that deserve a bigger audience.
06. MonumentuM - "Consuming Jerusalem" (from "In Absentia Christi", 1995)
Gothic metal with a bit of a weird occult sound that I thought sounded interesting enough to warrant inclusion.
07. Nadja - "Fruiting Bodies" (from "Luminous Rot", 2021)
I'm a big fan of Nadja and they've got a new album out. Crawling, creeping drone metal that has an unsettling atmosphere.
08. Eyehategod - "Take As Needed for Pain" (from "Take As Needed for Pain", 1993.)
I'm only now getting into Eyehategod as, for some reason, I didn't think they would be my cup of tea, but fuck, they kick ass and this track is brilliant Loos-i-ana sludge.
09. Amenra - "Het Gloren" (from "De Doorn", 2021)
De Doorn is a great atmo-sludge album and i really wanted to use the track Ogentroost, but it was featured in an earlier playlist, so I went with this as an alternative and it's still brilliant.
10. Coffins - "Into the Coffin (Oppression)" (from "Mortuary in Darkness", 2005)
Thick and cloying old-school, Japanese death doom from a band I have a lot of time for.
11. Forest of Shadows - "Eternal Autumn" (from "Where Dreams Turn to Dust EP", 2001) [submitted by Ben]
I am familiar with this ep and unfortunately I'm not a big fan. Sounds a bit like MyDyingBride-lite and doesn't have the requisite gravitas the style dictates, for my money.
12. Un - "Sentiment" (from "Sentiment", 2018) [submitted by Ben]
This album, however, I am a fan of and this track especially. Deathly and ominous funeral doom. Music to crush bones!
13. Elder - "Spires Burn" (from "Spires Burn / Release EP", 2015) [submitted by Daniel]
Heavy and groovy stoner metal that speaks to the younger stoner me from way back when. Really like the "tight but loose" jamming on this.
14. Reverend Bizarre - "Caesar Forever" (from "III: So Long Suckers", 2007) [submitted by Daniel]
One of my favourite tracks from one of my favourite albums by one of my favourite bands. Brilliant straight-up doom from masters of the genre.
15. Warning - "Footsteps" (from "Watching from a Distance", 2008) [submitted by Sonny]
To close out my first Fallen playlist I had to go with this slab of doom metal perfection from my all-time favourite album. The dictionary definition of doom metal.
I was aiming for a list that would shake the heavens and think I got pretty close!
And that was that... and an enjoyable experience it was too. Hope you all get as much out of it as I did.
Another great playlist this month, although there was too much war metal on it !!! (Only kidding).
I've got a feeling someone else was kidding with that Månegarm track as well.
I was familiar already with a fair bit of this month's playlist, but it's always great to hear from Mayhem, Kvist, Immortal, Drudkh etc. Of those I haven't heard before the Schammasch track has certainly piqued my interest. Horna are a band I've been meaning to explore but have never got round to yet, but their track here has convinced me that I need to. Need to look further into Sargeist too as I'm only au fait with their first two albums and I enjoyed this track a lot. Veilburner, Seth and Aorlhac I will have to work at a bit and see if they click a bit more with me later.
Nice work Ben, enjoyed this one.
I haven't listened to many metal albums that I have less of an affinity for or less of a connection to than Eternal Blue. It's like eating a meal made from ingredients I personally find unpallatable - I am unable to tell if it's well-cooked or not because it tastes unpleasant to me no matter what. Spiritbox's brand of metal I also find thusly unpallatable. I am soon going to turn 60, so of course this may be a generational thing and I seriously doubt if I am part of the band's intended demographic, but all these bouncy rhythms and faux-earnest shouting do absolutely zero for me. To me this sounds like Linkin' Park with a female vocalist.
I'm really glad Ben suggested this as a monthly feature as I'm sure I may never have stumbled across it otherwise. It is absolutely the case that this is a grower rather than being the type of album that grabs you by the throat from the off and I enjoy those sort of albums hugely as they seem to offer something new upon every listen. Anyway here's my review:
To be honest upon first listen at the start of the month I wasn't especially impressed with Skullreader. However, each time I've returned to it it has dug it's claws deeper into me and now I think it has finally "clicked". To be sure it isn't an "immediate" listen and it certainly doesn't grab you like Zhaaral's Darkspace bandmate, Wintherr's Paysage d'Hiver work does (and in truth it isn't really on the same level as Paysage d'Hiver, but then again, not a lot is).
Anyway, back to the release on hand and what Zhaaral has served up is a hybrid of melodic and atmospheric black metal with some occasional, brief post-metal-ly sections. There is a fair predominance of keyboards present, but they aren't at all overbearing or cloying and are very tastefully incorporated into the overall sound. I have seen the album compared to Blut Aus Nord and that is a fitting comparison I feel, especially when compared to the Memoria Vetusta series (although, again, it isn't on the same level of accomplishment). The layers of guitar and synth build an all-enveloping ambience that does allow for some nice mental pictures to flow. Lord of Mind, for example, with it's slower pacing feels like a journey through a huge abandoned alien city.
I initialy disliked the fact that the vocals are buried in the mix, but have actually grown to enjoy that aspect, as the fact that you have to strain a little to hear them properly makes it feel like a voice is reaching out between dimensions or across the veil between life and death to impart some profound insight. This is not merely an album built on atmosphere though, it also has some quite cool riffs, Fire and Thirst for example, which also has some nice Middle-Eastern influenced guitar work and Vanitas whose main riff sounds imperious.
Overall a very good album, albeit one that takes a bit to get into, but one that is worth persevering with. May not ultimately stack up against his more celebrated colleague's back catalogue, or his original band's output, but I would have welcomed hearing further releases from this project to see where they may have led. As it stands however, Sun of the Blind is a one-shot deal so presumably Zharaal has scratched whatever creative itch he may have been feeling within Darkspace, for now at least.
Really enjoyed this playlist - nice one Vinny, there are some real rippers here.
A couple of surprises for me was quite enjoying the Lamb of God and Sepultura tracks despite never being a fan of LoG and believing (rightly I think) that Sepultura's best days are long behind them.
Most of my own choices were pretty safe, but I'm still really loving the Bewitcher track.
There are several albums I will have to check out further but particularly the Eternal Evil, Speedwolf and Allegiance discs.
The Children of Technology, Chimaira and Death Angel tracks I could live without, but everything else hit the spot most satisfactorily!
1987's third album from Geordies Warfare is a bit all over the place to be honest. Punky-sounding speed / thrash with a dreadful production job. There's a few decent tracks hidden under the murk, but it's too inconsistent by far.
Hi Ben. Please add Finnish doom outfit Fimir and Paraguay's Lucifer's Children.
Back in the day my first wife's younger sister was massively into glam metal, so as family metalhead#1 whenever Twisted Sister or whoever rode into town I got chaperone duty. Anyway it must have been sometime in '85 as WASP were touring The Last Command we rolled up to the local dive to see the LA glamsters. I only really knew about Blackie Lawless from his New York Dolls stint so didn't really know what to expect, but as it turns out they put on a pretty decent show. Unfortunately I have never been able to get to grips with the band's recorded output and that has now been worsened by Andi's comparison to Slade and during every track I now expect Blackie to screech "It's Christmas!!" Add to that the mauling of The Who's The Real Me and I'm out I'm afraid, that's it for WASP and me.
Well Daniel, I think I would have to consider it in the same way as I would an Opeth album. I'm not sure if The Horde would be well served by having this and Blackwater Park or Still Life at the top of it's charts. I think I would prefer to think of it as a progressive metal album that draws heavily from death metal rather than a death metal album with progressive tendencies. But that's just me, as I am a member of neither The Horde nor The Infinite, I don't know if my opinion counts for much!
Talking of Opeth (well I was anyway) apparently, according to the RYM official metal board this week, they have never been any good and only released two half decent albums, Morningrise and My Arms... WTF is wrong with metal fans nowadays? Sure, everyone's entitled to their opinion but this blatant revisionism just to gain points for kvltness rubs me up the wrong way. I really must stop reading inferior message boards!
I really enjoyed this one and, for me, Core exemplifies all that can be great about progressive metal. The album follows a narrative structure, like the greatest of the seventies' prog releases, which engenders within the listener the impression that the band have regaled them with some profound and enlightening epic tale. The songwriting's complexity however doesn't adversely affect the sheer power and heaviness of the music at all, in fact the contrasts created only enhance it. It is at once technical yet brutal, melodic yet aggressive but it never feels forced and flows naturally between passages that segue beautifully for a fulfilling and enthralling listen. Neither do I feel it is ever overblown, a criticism that is often levelled at progressive music whether metal or otherwise, but is concise in it's execution as the song is always of paramount importance over technical showboating. One thing I didn't expect was that it would be so damn heavy. At times it sounds completely brutal with it's death metal-derived riffing, yet within a heartbeat can take a totally natural turn into a gentle, folky sound akin to seventies prog outfit Renaissance as if it were the most logical compositional leap to make. In a strange way, it feels very heavily influenced by Van Der Graaf Generator and I can imagine an alternative universe where death metal was invented in 1970 by Peter Hammill and this was released as Pawn Hearts!
4/5 (may get boosted to a 4.5, we'll see).
Sorry Vinny, hope I'm not too late. My December suggestions:
Sacrifice - Burned at the Stake (4:44) from Torment in Fire (1986)
Mutilator - Paranoic Command (3:43) from Immortal Force (1987)
Xentrix - Balance of Power (5:14) from Shattered Existence (1989)
Messiah - Akasha Chronicle (3:55) from Choir of Horrors (1991)
Further apologies, I haven't actually checked if all are available on Spotify due to the lateness of my submission. Sorry, again.
The new Apostle of Solitude album Until the Darkness Goes, released last Friday, sees the band back on track after the lacklustre (in my opinion) From Gold to Ash.
Hi Ben, could you please add the new Apostle of Solitude album, Until the Darkness Goes .
OK, not my area of expertise this one but for what it's worth here's mine:
1. Incantation - Diabolical Conquest (1998)
2. Entombed - Left Hand Path (1990)
3. Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness (1989)
4. Baphomet - Dead Shall Inherit (1992)
5. Dead Congregation - Promulgation of the Fall (2014)
6. Disma - Towards the Megalith (2011)
7. Bolt Thrower - The IVth Crusade (1992)
8. Incantation - Mortal Throne of Nazarene (1994)
9 Benediction - Transcend the Rubicon (1993)
10. Tomb Mold - Planetary Clairvoyance (2019)
Thanks Ben. I can assure you that all selections are equally important to me!
Ben, is there any way to make reviews private whilst compiling them, then making them public when they are finished. I often end up editing them time and time again and find it difficult to write a review in one sitting as time is often limited. I have a private list on RYM where I mainly compile reviews at the minute.
I don't much care for metalcore at all, but Trivium's previous feature release, In Waves, I actually found surprisingly listenable, so I was more than a little sceptical about Daniel's Nickelback jibe (I really don't like Nickelback). After listening to In the Court of the Dragon this evening though, I think he has a point. On several songs, but especially on Like a Sword Over Damocles, the shadow of Chad Kroeger is cast long. In fact, I swear a couple of tracks sound like Slipknot/Nickelback collaborations (no, this is unlikely to be a good thing!).
Anyway that aside, following the unexpectedly positive experience I had with In Waves I found this disappointing. It feels like an album that has been written by market researchers, the songs optimised to sell the maximum number of t-shirts. I don't hate it - it isn't offensive enough to generate that much emotion - but it just ploughs a completely different furrow to what I personally find interesting in metal.
Well it's only an initial listen-through so far, but it seems that The Infinite continues to impress with the quality of it's monthly features. I'm gonna add Core to the albums by Lucid Planet, Altesia and Ne Obliviscaris that I've enjoyed hugely over recent months. I will endeavour to produce a review at some point after further spins. Great choice Andi.
Black Sabbath - "Mob Rules" (1981)
40 years young today!! I first heard this one through my best mate's older brother when I was in my early high school years back in the late 1980's & it's still my pick of the Dio-fronted Sabbath albums to this day. It's darker & heavier than the widely preferred but slightly more commercially focused "Heaven & Hell" which gives it the edge. Still sounds great all these years later too.
Agreed and Falling Off the Edge of the World is Sabbath's best Dio era track.
A new favorite track for me from 1914's new album, Where Fear and Weapons Meet. Genuinely affecting, especially leading up to Armistice Day, and one of the best anti-war songs ever.
Never fear Sonny. Your entries meant there was no need for me to hunt down War Metal tracks for inclusion. You covered that for me perfectly!
Yeah, I'm sorry about that Ben, but as our selections are intended to reflect our listening over the previous month and I had only been listening to war metal for my North-related fix, I ended up submitting only tracks from those albums. I will endeavour to be less of a dick in future as, now I've had a taste of compiling a list myself, I realise that it throws up additional challenges.
Suggestions for December:
Mare Cognitum - Occultated Temporal Dimensions (11:23) from Luminiferous Aether (2016)
Antaeus - Inner War (4:28) from Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan (2000)
Marduk - Beast of Prey (4:07) from Panzer Division Marduk (1999)
I thought I'd forgotten to post my suggestions, but I've just noticed they are there.
The new album from much underrated Floridian death doomers Worm. If you like foetid-sounding death doom that sounds like it crawled out of some necrotic, ooze-filled swamp then these are your guys.
The closer and best track from the brand new Monolord album is a trad doom epic.
Managed seven of the nine features this month and enjoyed most of them. In order of awesomeness:
The North: Panopticon - Kentucky (2012) 5/5
The Fallen: Reverend Bizarre - III: So Long Suckers (2007) 4.5/5
The Pit: Kreator - Extreme Aggression (1989) 4.5/5
The Infinite: Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I (2012) 4/5
The Guardians: Fates Warning - Night on Brocken (1984) 4/5
The Sphere: Lard - The Last Temptation of Reid (1990) 2.5/5
The Horde: Necrophagist - Epitaph (2004) I'm not going to rate this as I only listened to it once and so that would be unfair.