Saturday, July 21, 2018

Gasping For Breath...

Flood Peak - Plagued by Sufferers (2018)


Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the three-piece of Flood Peak have been around since 2016, but this year marks their first official release, with the four tracks of Plagued by Sufferers showing off the band's mixture of styles. From doom-driven low-end on the bass riffs, through sludgy growling vocals, blackened guitar aggression, and deathly drum beatings, the group shows a well-rounded set of influences directed towards the unnerving side of metal.
That openness to style-blurring allows them a considerably large range of maneuverability, and they put the half-hour duration of their EP to work in showing their versatility in the high, low, and mid-range tempos, while shifting the flavor proportions of the music in ways that deftly avoid feeling unsuited to the songs' directions. There are also times when they jam them all together at once, and these may be the biggest stand-outs of the EP, because they make that gumbo work. Quite an impressive debut, and a band to keep an ear and an eye on as they continue building their discography.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Jupiterian, Lesbian, The Sleer, Trees, Ufomammut




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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Doom In Any Tongue...

Vanhävd - Låt köttet dö (2018)


With this half-hour EP, the Swedish group of Vanhävd roll out three tracks of powerful doom metal, bringing an edge of deathly deftness to direct the heavy momentum in interesting ways. There's a funereal morbidity lingering over the affair, with the fully slow portions feeling properly monolithic, and when the tempo picks up into hammering anxiety, the merging of the two energy extremes is handled incredibly well for a band's first release. It's certainly experimental, but at the same time, the band keeps a firm grounding in tunefulness and logical flow, keeping their swerves from coming too sharp for the good of the song. As this is supposed to be a 'sampling' of what their first full-length will hold, things are sounding extremely promising for Vanhävd, and fans of creative heavy music would do well to tune in as early as they can.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Battle Path, Earthling, Heavydeath, Mamaleek, White Darkness




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Saturday, July 07, 2018

Simple Machines...

Fred Vinters - Sound Machine (2018)


Making their debut with this four-song EP, the Swedish band of Fred Vinters (a quartet at live shows, but apparently just the band's name-sake in the studio for this) introduce themselves with some stripped-down bluesy hard rock. Electric guitar riffs and steady drum beats complement the earthy vocals, building a well-grounded base of clear-cut rock with few frills. Some boosts in amping, a layer of backing vocals, and an extra kick to the percussion in the chorus is about all the studio touch-up the basic tracks get, and it fits them well. There's a general downward slope of energy over the course of the EP, with the final song, “I Can't Stand the Sun”, consisting of just a bass groove, hand-drums, and singing. It'll be interesting to hear how this band develops, so go ahead and check them out if you're a fan of uncluttered rock.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Deadboy & The Elephantmen, Grusom, Muddy Moonshine, The Stone Fox, The White Stripes




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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Thoroughly Stirred...

Runescarred - We Are (2018)


With their debut EP, the Austin-based trio of Runescarred put their years of experience in previous bands to work in the service of creating metal that pulls from a variety of the genre's sub-styles, ranging from death metal-flavored beats and guitar tone, to British heavy metal vocals, doomy bass-lines, power metal solos, and thrashy breaks. It's a fast-moving mix with a lot of depth to its action, and it makes sense for the band to let curious listeners get a toe wet with the three songs of this EP before throwing a full album at them.
Still, though the songs duck and weave through their knots of style-merging, they keep a firm emphasis on melody and listener-friendly song-shaping. The leaps aren't blind, they're built from the preceding structures of the songs, though it takes some attentive listening to pick up the clues. That attention to detail makes it a great pick-up for those who like digging into their music, though, and should keep them tided over until the group's first full LP arrives. Until then, try to catch the band live if you happen to be in Texas, and stay tuned for big things from them.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Artension, Gamma Ray, Rhapsody of Fire, Symphony X, Twilightning




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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Moonlit Escapism...

Mist - Free Me from the Sun (2018)


We first heard the Slovenian band of Mist back in 2013, with their succinctly-titled Demo. Two EPs and five years later, the group has their first full album ready to share with the world, and in its ten tracks, the quintet show how they've developed their style over half a decade. Big sound, bold riffs, and a solemn atmosphere typify the album, with assertive guitar-lines and rich vocals providing the main guidance to the melodies. There's very much a 'retro doom' vibe to the songs, with traces of the more somber giants, like Candlemass and Saint Vitus, evident in the deliberation shaping mood and bass shading.
As such, while the usual aggression common to metal does show up regularly, its in the music's slower and more thoughtful moments that it really shines (“December” being a prime example). The heaviness is more of a means to an end than the be-all, end-all of something like Ommadon, but it's also deployed with effective dedication and thoughtfulness, wrapping around the core melodies with impressive bonding for what it is. A little more resonance or up-mixing of the bass would have been nice, but considering the need to balance five members' contributions, the end result is understandable. In any event, it's a pleasure to see this group finally put out an LP, and for something five years in the making, it certainly doesn't disappoint.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Blood Ceremony, Demon Head, Disenchanter, Pilgrim, Saint Vitus




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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Handshakes And Heartaches...

Gray Dog - The Deal (2017)


While this may have been released last year, the efforts the band went to in order to get a physical copy to me (intercontinentally, and relayed from one old address to the next) were enough to win me over into doing a review for it anyway.
So, this is the first EP from the Belarusian duo of Gray Dog, who are currently operating out of Poland (good company there). The EP's five tracks unearth some blues of the dirty and heavy variety, with twanging strings and wounded yells forming the main thrust of the music. Regret and pain are the main themes, as is commonly the case with blues, and the fretwork is nimble, sparing, and stylish. The production is likewise kept uncluttered, though the grimy tint comes through undimmed, and the growls and strings both get their full register across in fine clarity. Percussion is limited to thumps on the guitar's body (and a couple slaps of a background tambourine), which helps keep the sense of physical immediacy strong. There's a real sense of life to it (especially when they start baying like coyotes), and it's a welcome change-up from the dense posturing all too common in heavy rock. If you've been looking for something off the beaten path, but still truly heavy, here's your prescription.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; The Barnburners, Cebo))), The Midnight Ghost Train, Muddy Moonshine, T.K. Bollinger & That Sinking Feeling




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