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.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Woah man, the usual rate for Haunt dropping releases is one full-length per year, with a complimentary EP to go along with it. But 2020 is different, and considering the amount of shit this year has offered humanity, it’s nice when things are different for the better. Frontman Trevor Church dropped Haunt’s third album Mind Freeze at the beginning of the year--an album of the year contender for sure. But instead of an EP to follow, we get a second full-length under the name Flashback.
Unsurprisingly, this is the cleanest effort the band has dropped to date, especially considering the vocals taking more of the forefront than ever before. I chalk that up to the concise and clear delivery. Additionally, we’re met with a far warmer feeling to contrast the previous record, fitting the summer time feelings, rather than the winter ones of the previous effort. It’s probably safe to say that this is also where Haunt were reaching for more of a pop-metal aesthetic, especially with “Electrified.” The chorus is catchy as hell and somewhat watered down, though it isn’t bad by any stretch of the word. You just can’t ignore the prettier nature and simplistic build.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Nothing really scratches an itch for the heavies like a solid slab of traditional doom with a monstrous boom. Castle have been around for a little while now, but they didn’t cross my radar until a friend suggested them, and their most recent effort Deal Thy Fate hooked me in an instant. Repeat listens only made me love it more. Every box is checked; intricate rhythms, strong solos, incredible vocals, and haunting structures.
With that, you can take it and run with it, or you can go absolutely nowhere, all depending on the songwriting. Thankfully, this department has been perfected. Guitar leads with bouncy energy reflected off crushing bottom riffage is the name of the game. You’ll also find all kinds of higher wails between the solos and the fretboard fun. Amazingly, they also manage to pack a lot into generally short runtimes for songs, cramming in endless riffs and licks that dance around the typical song structure. A darker shadow is cast upon this, but they never lose their accessibility.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
32 years?! It's crazy to say that Paradise Lost have been a band for 32 years. The masters of doom and melancholy have been going steady ever since then with no break-ups or hiatuses in between. After a brief wait, Paradise Lost return with their 16th opus Obsidian, the follow-up to the masterful Medusa. Said album was a slight return to their original death/doom roots although within a modern context...but enough about the past.
Obsidian is split into three different and distinct styles. You have the more death/doom-leaning tracks, the more gothic rock/metal-based tracks, and a subtler bridging between the two styles. It feels like a natural progression from the last album, with many of the trademarks we all love and adore about Paradise Lost, but with many twists and turns along the way. Welcome to the world of Obsidian.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Canada has been on a tear with its metal releases so far this year. Alberta specifically has been a hotbed for heavy lately. Whether you want genre bending devastation of the stunning Wake Devouring Ruin release, or some mind numbingly heavy stoner doom in Highbernation's Comatokes, chances are you can find something to scratch that itch in-province.
Now you might be saying, “I'm actually in the mood for some trad-heavy, maybe some NWOBHM speed stuff.” If so, gather ‘round weary reader, for the local village Journeyman has the release for you. Termination Shock, recently released through Gates of Hell Records, is the second full-length from Calgary speed rockers Traveler.
This review (in its unadulterated form) was originally published in December of 2018 but, as this Friday sees the re-release of an expanded version under Bonita Steel Records and Diabolic Might Records, we thought it would be appropriate to break out this ol' writeup. The following is an edited and updated version. - Ed.
Well, this is refreshing. Typically, when promo proclaims that a band represents a "bold new take" on a traditional, well-trod style, you can expect the same: yet another forgettable "revitalization" of a sound and aesthetic that has been done to death, reanimated, and then slaughtered by copycats once more. In the case of Tzimani, the status quo is effectively put in its place. Despite sparking synapses associated with a variety of high-octane hard rock and metal birthed in the days of yore, this self titled debut EP genuinely feels fresh-faced. Pull on your leather, put the pedal to the metal, and smell the gasoline: Tzimani begins with menacing distortion, a rumbling engine of Mad Max-ian proportion. This EP, previously reviewed by yours truly here, had been bolstered for a vinyl release by a new track, a couple o' covers, and some demos.
I just took a trip down the winding stairs of our scriptorium and braved the wretch’d outdoors. The reason for my madness? A brief visit to the Village apothecary, where I decidedly did not panic-buy their entire stock. It was a remarkably brief expedition; hardly worth putting on a jacket. But for those few moments outside my dusty sanctuary, the palpable tension--and I don’t mean to alarm you here--was quite high. Rightfully so.
Needless to say, I’m happy to be cloistered back at my desk with my speakers roaring loud ‘n’ proud. Monster Skull have wormed their way back into rotation for what seems the hundredth time, and now seems a prime time to chat about why I like their latest EP--the ominously entitled Visions of the Horrible and Strange--so damn much. If you too are in need of some upbeat jubilance in these troubled times, this Washingtonian duo has you covered.
Generally, whilst writing a review, I immerse myself in a band's back catalog. In the case of Screamer's four-album discography, that particular exercise feels moot: I already know what color-by-numbers heavy metal sounds like. While that may come off as pretty disparaging--and it is, to a minor degree, because Highway Of Heroes is less than inventive--this consistency in aesthetic ain't bad. Not by a long shot. This haggard scribe can get down with some blatant worship of convention, and in this regard, Screamer are unmatched in their old school heavy metal spirituality. While it did, admittedly, take a few listens to sink in, I'm confident in stating that Highway Of Heroes is one of the year's best entries in NWOBHM and affiliated fun-lovin' categories.
The infamous Captain Graves is back with another review--but this time, he seems to have lessened his blows. Could...could this mean that the Captain be showing a softer side? This must be some kind of ploy. - Ed.
There's been some new additions to the Village since my last visit. I wonder if they're warned of my sadistic ways, or do they just allow them to figure it out on their own? The stoned fools aren't ready for the annihilation that will ensue, warning or not.
Here we have Concilium, an Epic Doom outfit from Boston, MA. We've had the pleasure of playing a couple shows together. They became a sort of sister, and brothers in arms. Helping Advent Varic decimate Salem, and Allston. I had not heard of them before being booked together. As I normally do when booked with bands I don't know, I waited for that live performance to conjure up my opinion. I'd hung out with their singer a few times prior, and had no idea she was the lead vocalist in a band, or maybe she told me when I was drunk. I used to hit the bottle pretty hard. You fucking Earthlings really stress me out... but I digress.
In the drafty scriptorum of this Sleeping Village, power metal--and, by extension, said genre's upper echelon--serves a remarkably utilitarian purpose: pumping us the fuck up. In the turbulent seas of heavy music, very little rivals the charybdian draw of power metal's trademark infectious chest-pounding braggadocio.
As such, regardless of your contradictory opinions, and despite the (generally) bloody subject matter, an untouchable positivity reigns eternal in this particular arena. There's nothing like a little dose of Powerwolf or Judicator or Blind Guardian or Turisas or Falconer or Sabaton to banish a bad mood. Soaring vocals, lusty choral battlecries, meathook melodies, stomping riffage, and the promise of (obnoxiously) omniscient keyboard provide, for better or for worse, a highly energetic and uplifting experience. And, for that alone, power metal has earned a perpetual timeshare in our township.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!