Written by: Shane Thirteen
First things first: Seven Swords comes out August 21st, and I highly recommend you track down and reserve your copy now from bandcamp. This group from Milan, Italy has laid down a classic. Black Elephant has been around about a decade and as they grow they leap closer to being one of the world's best stoner/heavy psych bands. They describe their sounds as 70's fuzz stacked with Blues Psych Space Rock. All that is true.
What I gather from this album is Black Elephant is deep black warmth. The kind of warmth you feel on the first cold day in fall as you clinch into your bed and curl into the softness of your lover. It is sensual and the music wafts me away like smoke dangling on the rim of a bong. I tend not to think of albums as single tracks I like. But how do all the tracks fit into the feel of the album? What is this piece of music trying to tell me? Where does it want me to go?
Written by: Vattghern
Haken, oh Haken! Some VIP Tickets, Meet and Greets, lots of merch, and signed vinyl copies later, Haken has not only become a titan of modern prog, but also a friend through thick and thin for me. Despite my love for the Brits, after the release of their last studio album Vector and my corresponding praise for it, the band seemingly vanished from my playlists. Did I outgrow Haken? Did they outgrow me? All these questions crossed my mind when the band announced Vector’s spiritual successor Virus out of the blue and my inner fanboy didn’t move a muscle.
“New Haken single is meh,” I disappointingly declared in the lead up to the release, only to end up hitting play on “Invasion” every time I got a hold of my headphones. So, as it tends to do, the future proofed me wrong and answered my doubts with a big, fat “nah.” And after three midnight sessions of eagerly hitting refresh on Haken’s Spotify, only to find out the album has been delayed again, I finally got ahold of Virus. Since the past had proven that Haken ages like a fine wine for me, I’ve taken my appropriate time with it, which translates to about a week of nonstop listening. My verdict? Virus, while still awaiting the test of time, is not only the perfect second part to Vector, but also some of the band's finest work to date.
Written by: Beaston Lane
Frigid rain falls through the canopy of a Scandinavian forest as the clearing fog reveals two opposing armies, each with unbreakable faith after paying tribute to their gods. A natural ambiance thicker than fortress walls separates the warriors as they each anticipate their leader’s call to charge. What I’m describing isn’t necessarily the beginning of a medieval battle, rather the vivid atmosphere that introduces Vampire’s mighty third record, Rex. This feeling of anticipation builds during the interlude entitled “Prelusion,” and at its sudden conclusion, the armies charge as the carnage of Rex is unleashed upon us all.
Rooted in mythology, Rex is a hellish journey through chaos and serenity. Juxtaposing high-octane thrashers and sneering mid-tempo odysseys, the album showcases the band’s versatility and highlights the demonic vocals of Hand of Doom, the lead vocalist. Existing at the intersection of classic thrash metal, melodic death metal, and modern black metal, Vampire is a three-headed monster which utilizes these influences to create an engrossing and unique listening experience. While not every song can boast of being truly memorable, Rex is a bold statement from a young band destined to continue their ascension through the metal ranks.
Written by: The Administrator
After a certifiably...chaotic month (or two, let's be real,) this particularly sleep-deprived scribe is back in the saddle of his continuous apology tour. Next stop? Time to cover a raw 'n' gritty demo by Diabolical Reign, a duo comprised, in part, by our very own Voiceless Apparition aka Lord Begravelvase on drums and vocals. One Nox Secuutus rounds out the outfit for this demo, which was recorded back in 2015 when the guys were mere adolescents exploring an (evident) heartfelt love of the rawer fringes of black metal.
And raw this is, albeit in the sense we purveyors of the rare and bloody yearn for. Icy riffs and production compliment both a forthright aggression and a chillblained droning sensibility. The drums are distant--a valley away--and the vocals are as tortured and troat-wrenching as ye might expect. And, icing on the cake: once you get past the abrasive sonic quality, some truly ear-catching compositions are apparent in the frosty static--take the blistering "Annihilation" or the aggressively morose "Doom's Elegant Robe" as prime examples. The latter track is my favorite herein, as it balances the blackened bite with a distinctly doomy dread. Black doom metal is an environ worth exploration, and it's excellent to see little sparks here and there, even if confined to a project from the past.
In sum: if raw black metal is yer speed, this evil lil' demo is certainly worth your while. Also, it's, like, Name Your Own Price. You quite literally can't go wrong. Give Diabolical Reign a listen (and give The Voiceless Apparition a follow, while yer at it.)
Diabolical Reign - Shadows in a Winter's Night was released July 4th, 2020
Diabolical Reign can be found:
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
In life, sometimes we need a break. Be it the stresses of life, exhaustion, etc., humans need a breather. That goes for music as well. As much as I love and worship metal, especially extreme metal, I find myself in need of calmer and more meditative music to help satiate that desire.
Hence: here we have My Silent Wake. A doom metal troup from England... but this album is quite different. This album is a detour for the band and showcases an ambient/acoustic/folk side to their sound. This is my first ever experience with this band, so lets dive in to see how this album plays out.
Right off the bat, you are reminded that ATMOSPHERE IS KEY. These compositions are gorgeous and stunning. I found myself becoming lost in the beauty of these songs and how dense the atmosphere is.
Written by: Lord Hsrah
You ever seen Spike or Tom from Tom and Jerry? Seen how they react when their ever-so-cunning and sharp eyes spot a thick chunk of steak, and how their tongues just hang out as their mouth waters at the thought of devouring it? Yeah, that's always me when someone mentions atmospheric black metal! I'm a big fan of the emotions this particular sub-genre invokes, the scenes it creates in my head, the visions it shows me thereafter, and just the overall things I feel when listening to an ABM album - it's one of my favorite things, especially in the rainy season, which is right now where I live. If you ask me, The Lightbringers' From The Void To Existence was a good one to spend some time with as I watched the waters trickle down the window panes of my room. Let's discuss.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
It’s always fun going back and covering albums that never got close to the spotlight, but deserve loads of it. It’s especially fun when all of the promos you’ve gotten in the inbox have been boring as hell, so you’re forced to dig up some old fossils. Enter Saint, a Christian heavy metal act hailing from Salem, Oregon in the ‘80s. They only had two records before splitting and reforming a decade later. Too Late For Living was their second, and most important record dropping in 1988.
Standing out immediately is how close Saint comes to sounding like Judas Priest. Simple rhythm patterns that hook the ear covered in dual guitar attacks make up the base structure, as hoarse but concise vocals with chant-like choruses lift things to new heights. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? What’s even better is how incredibly this thing is produced, particularly with the way the guitar passages have a hint of echo, and stand apart from each other. There’s then room for drums to click harder as well.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Drainbow! No, it's not a psychedelic effect of household cleaning supplies, it’s the eclectic, ambitious project of solo act extraordinaire Nick Sarcophagus, who brings us his debut long player The Tower of Flints. A dark twisting journey of extremities, whether it be the bounds of genre, or the limits of nature's capacity to sustain, viewed through the lens of her most vulnerable inhabitants. “To the victor the spoils," which just so happens to be whoever lays ears on this record.
I love it when an album's cover art perfectly encapsulates the sound found within, and this is a great example. A tip of the cap to Sarah Allen Reed for another work of art, really summing up the beautiful yet harsh reality of the natural world surrounding us. From its most tranquil moments of animal calls and keys, to its most frenetic of wails and galloping progressions, the story is to be found within the walls of said art.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Greetings everyone. Welcome to my new series entitled The Dungeon Awaits...
I had a strong desire to create a subseries for another musical passion of mine, dark ambient and dungeon synth music. I want to shine a light on the smaller acts, while still of course reviewing the legends. That leads us to today's review. After 21 years of hibernation from the Era 1 material, Mortiis has finally returned to the genre he pioneered. Spirit of Rebellion is the first dungeon synth album he has released since 1999's The Stargate. While this album is a re-working of his classic 1994 album Anden som Gjorde Oppror, it goes far beyond a mere re-recording, this is an entirely new feel and sound, but while of course keeping true to the original compositions. Welcome to Spirit of Rebellion.
Back in April, we ran a very abbreviated review of this album. However, given its prominence--and the prominence of the legacy act in question--it feels deserving of a full writeup. Enjoy! - Ed.
Written by: Beaston Lane
Testament has dealt with many ups and downs throughout the course of their 30-plus year career, but their 13th release continues a hot streak that began with 2008’s comeback record, The Formation of Damnation. Once again, the band showcases their mastery of all things thrash metal, exploring their usual mystical, mythological, and dystopian themes. Longtime fans of Testament will find much to enjoy on this record, but it certainly won’t extend an olive branch to those on the fence.
Regarded as one of the finest thrash metal bands since their 1987 debut, The Legacy, Testament’s exceptional career eventually hit an impasse. After 1992’s The Ritual, the band descended into turmoil, with constantly changing personnel on the three following albums and palpable stylistic shifts. In 2001, Chuck Billy was diagnosed with cancer, effectively putting the band on hiatus until his recovery. Since Testament’s original lineup reunited in 2005, they have joined the ranks of Overkill as one of the most consistent bands in thrash metal, putting out solid records about every four years since 2008. That pattern doesn’t falter in 2020.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!