Written by: The Administrator
At risk of showing all my cards before the review even begins: Dream Tröll are one of my very favorite bands, and have been for a couple o' years now. Time, methinks, to gush accordingly.
I first heard Realm of the Tormentor a few weeks ago, and for the entire stretch of time between then and now, every single track contained within has been firmly lodged in my skull. This level of sheer likeability and competence inevitably raises the question: is Dream Tröll capable of putting out a less-than stellar release? Thusfar, I pleased to offer a resounding "no." Despite a rotating cast of vocalists that nearly recalls the drummer woes of umlauted brethren Spın̈al Tap, the consistency in quality they have demonstrated since 2018's The Witch's Curse is simply incredible--and 2017's The Knight of Rebellion, while less refined, is no snoozer either. Literally every single track they have released is a certified banger, a non-skipper, a prime exemplar of traditional metal prowess in the modern era. These guys claim to keep the spirit of old-school metal alive by "making the OLD sound NEW again"...and y'know what? Not a single lie hath been detected.
FRESH MEAT FRIDAY: April 30th, 2021, Feat. GOREGÄNG, Greyhound, Becerus, Bevar Sea, Order of the Wolf / Pessimista, and Alpha Boötis
Every Friday, a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s crumbling gates, stuffed to the brim with our sustenance for the following week. Today is the day we must offload all this week's new and noteworthy music, and so, in the process, we thought it would be worthwhile to share some of our choice picks from this veritable mass of fresh meat. This is what we’ll be--and have been--listening to this week at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
We slumbering scribes were slightly more productive this week than normal, so enjoy an additional two mini-reviews!
On the docket for today, April 30th, 2021:
GOREGÄNG, Greyhound, Becerus, Bevar Sea, Order of the Wolf / Pessimista, and Alpha Boötis
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Looking back to my days of high school, it’s fun to reminisce on albums that came out around the time that had some sort of hype, but lost it over the years. Sometimes, that’s due to not aging well; other times, it just gets lost in the depths of everything else going on. Trivium’s album In Waves comes to mind, considering that it’s one that seldom gets talked about (positive or negative) compared to the likes of Shogun or Ascendancy these days. This disc turns ten later on this year, and I still to this day view it as a masterpiece, which may be a bit of a hot take.
For starters, I want to say that this is metalcore done exactly right. By this point, most metalcore bands abandoned the genre’s roots, and traded in thrashy riffs and hardcore aesthetic for endless chugs, overly produced vocals, and extremely generic songwriting. Trivium never got caught up in that undertow. In Waves is absolutely packed with furious thrash riffs that cast sharp hooks, and evenly work in the hardcore chugs without being overwhelming. If that isn’t enough, the actual songs have more advanced writing than ever. The Crusade may be a more direct thrash release, but this is where Matt Heafy and co. blended it wonderfully with hardcore to pump out a spectacular album.
Written by: Scorpi
When you’re always looking for something new and fresh, you are prone to forgetting about the classic sounds that got you into heavy music in the first place. It’s handy, then, when bands such as Hearts & Hand Grenades emerge from the rock’n’roll underbelly, to jog our memory as to why the classic rock style should not be forgotten, and still has its place in our collections.
Hearts & Hand Grenades formed in 2018, and have thrust their debut album Turning To Ashes into the hazy limelight of the Sleeping Village. And this enigmatic Villager really liked what he heard.
The album starts as it means to go on. We’re launched into the gritty hard rock title track that’s filled with attitude and a bite that would make the toughest hound grimace. No frivolous or dramatic introductions here. The saturated, high-gain guitars are distinctively dirty and thick, and provide the perfect amount of grit for that classic rock sound. The lead/solo work is similarly infectious when delivered atop of theses robust rhythm sections. And this is apparent throughout the album.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Maggot Heart caught my attention for the sole fact that their cassette Dusk To Dusk was released through Caligari Records, despite not fitting with that label’s general ideal. Instead of being composed of extreme or filthy metal, it is rooted somewhere in the noise rock and post-punk spectrum. The delivery itself is clean and the frontwoman’s voice is captivating, but I think the fitting factor is that it’s still somewhat eerie. That allows it to appeal to a broader scope of fans.
For the most part, Maggot Heart achieve this due to a very dominating bass presence passed through a somewhat degraded quality thanks to weird reverberation and rough production. Glazing that above a very concise bottom is what gives Dusk To Dusk such a strong identity. It focuses a lot on stompier riffs, showing itself in “Big Kross.” B-side opener “Strange Women” also highlights this by using a repetitive but catchy pattern.
Written by: The Administrator
While we Villagers pride ourselves in having a solid familiarity with the content we critique, I'll be the first to admit that my level of familiarity with the 5 tracks contained within today's EP in question surpasses an acceptable level of sanity. Typically, in preparation for an in-depth review, I listen to the material around 10 times. Return From The Void, in drastic comparison, has entered these wretch'd earholes...well, significantly more frequently. All told, stating that I've listened to this damn thing upwards of 50 times doesn't sound terribly off base.
Why, ye may ask? In the year or so since I first encountered the hard rockin' Deserts of Mars, I've become oddly dependent on their (regrettably slim!) output. Return From The Void is what I turn to when I'm not sure what to listen to, when I'm feeling a little down, or when I just need a quick kick of stoner rock into an otherwise hard-hitting playlist. As a result, I've entered a strange scenario wherein a review feels somewhat impossible to write. Can I truly view this thing from a passingly neutral standpoint, or does my history color any interpretation with rose-colored glasses? Given the potential limitations, I'll do my best to be fair to you, dear reader.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Stryper have made a name for themselves over the decades, and in later years actually took on an even more metallic sound than their earlier glammy roots. That said, the last record God Damn Evil was a huge let-down to me, the first by Michael Sweet and co. that I flat out disliked (“Take It To The Cross” and “Sorry” being the worst offenders). Michael’s latest solo effort Ten from last year was pretty solid, however, and actually gave me better hopes. This brings us to Even The Devil Believes, which is a rather mixed bag.
On one hand, I’m absolutely thrilled that they’ve made a step up from before, despite not reaching the magnitude of Fallen. You can basically sort every song here into one of three categories: sturdy, strong, and rubbish. This also means that the flow is a bit awkward, but easy enough to work with. By “sturdy,” I’m mostly talking about the songs that are exactly what you saw coming. Opener “Blood From Above” is a well-written, heavy banger with strong falsettos thrown in, all polished with a clear production. Truth be told, this approach makes up at least half of the album, which is fine albeit somewhat samey.
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: Shane Thirteen
I tend to not read reviews of bands or artists I'm going to review because I don't want the influence of someone else's ideas to be in my head when I'm trying to think of how I feel about a project. That being said, I have no idea what other people are writing about War Cloud. What I can say is that if the words "AMAZING" or "Fucking Fantastic" haven't been used to define them, then that is a low-down dirty shame.
War Cloud hits on so many levels for me. I can take a snap and sink back in my chair and ease into that place in my mind that puts me back into teenage fantasies of being a riff-monster rock star. The guy who lays down the riff that changes the world. To me, War Cloud's Earhammer Sessions is the beginning of my rock and roll fantasy. I'm old. I mean like, I fucking remember the 70's kind of old. This album evokes that old school rock and roll spirit. It takes me back to the days of true rock and roll domination.
The rubric that plays a major role in determining whether I will consider an album “good” is, as with everything around these parts, a little flexible and open to interpretation. That said, some criteria are fairly stalwart and unmoving. A good metal album must, in my eyes, have proficient instrumentation. It must display cohesion. The vocals need to be enjoyable--or, at the very least, they must spark some synapses other than those indicating that the vocalist in question can’t sing. It needs to elicit some sort of emotion response. Lastly, if it’s steeped in a genre that lives and dies by the axe, its gotta have riffs. Full stop. In the case of today’s artist in question, I’m happy to report that all of the criteria are present and accounted for...no, wait. We’re missing one. But y’know what? Let’s just roll with it.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!