Thursday, February 28, 2013

EP Run (February 28th, 2013)

EP'S Feb 2013


Fisherman's Death - Uncharted Waters EP (PR2013) - This is the debut EP release from Swedish melodic death metallers, Fisherman's Death. I don't even have track titles for it, and all the info I've got is that they're a unique band that separates themselves from the nowadays copy/paste scene. Nevertheless, I will say that what I'm hearing certainly has potential and the band definitely do set themselves apart from the others by doing their own thing and utilizing mutli-layered songs that showcase all sorts of influences, including Amon Amarth which I can point out in most of the band's music. Being that I am a fan of this style, I've enjoyed what I've heard on this four track EP and would highly recommend it. As for as the nature of the band, it's rooted in sea-lore, which is not something we usually get displayed as heavy as this is. If you like pirate/sailing metal, and Alestorm is too much of a joke for you, I would certainly have to recommend Fisherman's Death. However, I will note that some core influence (breakdowns in areas) are here, so expect that.

I just hope these guys don't plan on going jaunty anytime soon; because this seems to come off a whole lot more unforgiving and epic. Looking forward to future releases.

Grab it at

Recommend: Yes (4 Tracks, 16:00)



Meshuggah - Pitch Black EP (2013)
- Upon hearing this EP, I'm wondering if Meshuggah is going for the proverbial "cash grab" as it were. In all honesty, there are two fucking tracks here - a cast of from Koloss called "Pitch Black 5:55" and a live version of "Dancers To A Discordant System 9:50."

"Pitch Black" has some nice ideas, like the light atmosphere in the background which is there to showcase the highly tasteful solo portion, yet I have no idea what in the hell he was thinking when he did the vocals. This is a very "creepy" track if you will, the sort of track that sounds like something of an experiment and only comes to fruition after the vocals are finished. It may be a chance for the band to say "we're doing something new" but they already did that on Catch 33 and only half of that was good. I only recommend it to the diehard Meshuggah fan. It's not a heavy track by any means, nonetheless it is intriguing.

The next track is obviously the live number, which really could have been put on a DVD along with video footage. Why don't these guys just stream a fucking concert or release a DVD? At any rate, the quality of this track is good; it sounds as if you're actually there in the front row and the vocals are understandable and stand out amongst the other instruments in the background. Why is it that the drum work here reminds me of Dany Carrey's work in Tool? It ends with an addressing of the crowd, some clapping and the overall feeling that you spent extra money on what should have been released as limited edition bonus tracks. Sucker!

EDIT: Scion logo denotes that it's a free release. Grab it from them. Ignore the fodder above.

Recommend: No (2 Tracks, 15:00)



Candlemass Vs. Entombed EP (2013) - This was released as a special EP for Sweden Rock Magazine #100. Whoever they are, they've obviously got more money then Decibel (who's given me about a million Flexi's that I can't fucking play) or the most popular rock magazine in the United States, (next to Rolling Stone which is sure to be garbage now) Revolver, which doesn't give me anything at all (but proves to me that the dark cabal has infiltrated the metal scene - get a look at the pyramid/eye logo for The Golden Gods Awards and the symbology promoted toward the latest bands, especially the dehumanization of women as sex objects)

But putting that aside, we've got an awesome idea that you're probably just going to have to download yourself. Sorry, it's a limited thing; so the only way you can get this is through ebay or torrents. The first song is Candlemass's cover of Entombed's "To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth 4:54" which is done incredibly well. This death metal cover translates well to doom metal but still keeps it's dark edge that Candlemass simply improves and makes me wonder why this couldn't have been a bonus track for the band's swansong. The very example of taking a song and making it your own.

The second song is Emtombed's cover of one of my personal favorite Candlemass tracks, (I've played it about a million times since I bought the disc back in 2005) and the opener to their self-titled album, "Black Dwarf 4:28." If someone told me that in about eight years a heavier version of this fucking track would come out, I wouldn't have believed it. But Entombed simply fucking kills this track. I'm beyond impressed - I've played the goddamned thing probably twenty times since I've gotten it and will continue to have it on my personal playlist. The death metal treatment does this song well, and the fact that Entombed uses some new tricks and guitar wizardry as well as keeping the thing set with the same dark atmospheric make me think that this might even be better than the original. A death metal vocal approach is used, but the growl is lightened so that you can understand the lyrics. He even lets loose a slight nod to the classic style of the song with a high note of "the black dwarf!" near the end, when some really great guitar noodling ends out the track. If this is what a new Entombed might sound like, I'm game. Bring that fucker on.

The bottom line is that you need to hunt this fucker down. The Candlemass track might reappear on a b-sides collection (which will probably come soon) and the Entombed track will probably be a bonus on the new Entomed album, which hopefully sounds as badass as this track.

Recommend: Yes! Highly Recommend. (2 Tracks, 9:00)

10/10 (Rockbox this fucker!)

Scream Machine - Moon In Libra EP (2013) - SinDelle's latest offering shows artistic maturity and professionalism that hopefully will be seen as the start of something more than just a simple project. The music is much more in the vein of darkwave this time around and seems like it could be a good fit for Projekt Records home to many acts of this vein, including Android Lust of whom I am constantly reminded of whenever I hear her work.

Though the disc is short, it's quite powerful; and as I've said - mature. The first track "Non Loquentum 2:43" seems to be a ballad about love lost and it reminds me much of lighter Android Lust with that same imprint of Otep. The second song "Suicide Junkie 2:57" sort of reminds me of heavier Crystal Castles with a touch of Otep as well. I think Otep fans looking for the same raucous female vocal in an electronic setting will enjoy this one. Now "Porcelain 4:26" is a different beast altogether, making me think of Dead Can Dance with the darker aspect of Unto Ashes. Her vocals are autotuned here to sound robotic and yes; definitely Android Lust style. Maybe it's time for Sikhee to step down and let SinDelle take her throne?

The next track seems to do more with the dark cabal's agenda (and hopefully I'll have my agenda-laden material done in time to collaborate a track or two to the new release) and it's called "Capitulate 4:04." I highly recommend that you watch the video for this track to get the full effect from it, as the track alone doesn't do it justice. But if we're going to talk about the track, SinDelle has somehow computerized her voice as a light atmospheric followed by "commands" begins. It's a very strong track that again shows artist maturity and carries a powerful message. The odd thing about this one, is that it might scare certain people into thinking it's an actual attempt in brainwashing. One could certainly say that the method in which she repeats the commands is true to the nature of actual brainwashing and could potentially brainwash the weak on accident. In other words, I wouldn't leave this on repeat or go to sleep while listening to this track in repeated form. I believe that SinDelle is trying to show you just how easy it is to subconsciously effect your mind the same way that you are being bombarded everyday. Once they have control of your mind, they can control all of the areas that it inhabits - for example, the sex drive as a way to make one a consumer. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, comrade.

Finally, we've got the atmospheric track "Moon In Libra 2:25" which one might think is more laden to godMONSTER than Scream Machine. But it could be that SinDelle wants to expand upon Scream Machine in the way that all great artists do. It's a good closer to a strong EP.

Though I haven't heard everything SinDelle has released yet (but I've got it all and am going through it) I can honestly say that Moon In Libra is the best album I've heard from her. It's definitely a good sign that the forthcoming album (which hopefully I'll be on, if I can get my shit together fast enough - she works quick) which will be released sometime this year, will be the start of something very big for SinDelle and the rest of Scream Machine.

For fans of harsh EBM and darkwave, I consider this worth checking out.

Recommend: Yes (5 Tracks, 16:00)



Wednesday 13 - Spook And Destroy EP (2012) - Wednesday 13 is definitely doing some more rock laden and less punky material this time around, with "MFTW 4:01" sounding like a cross between Motley Crue and Dope. "Halloween 13-13 3:53" is probably one of the best songs this band has come out with (and it should have been on The Dixie Dead) reminds me of the Misfits for sure, but with a sort of goth punk rock thing that you'd expect from this band in the first place. There's also a worth guitar solo. "Bad Things (Re-Recording 2012) 3:28" is more along the material featured on the new album (which will be thrown up on the second week of March) which is kind of a Rob-Zombie groove metal style. It works, but I hate the fucking chorus and think it's extremely childish. "Rambo (Re-Recording 2012) 2:27" comes next and it sounds like punk metal to the core. I like this song, because of how damned corny it is. "Mr. Motherfucker 2:02" comes next and it's kind of psychobilly with a little bit of the Crue thrown in. Finally, there's an odd acoustic version of "Curse Of Me 3:35" which is much like "Ghost Stories" from the new LP, except that this Tiamat play isn't quite as good as if Johan Edlund got a hold of it. After that, things go to shit.

Yes, the following two tracks are electronic remixes of "Bad Things (Suffocation Celebration Remix) 3:39" which should be avoided like the plague and "Rambo (Bullets And Bloodshed Remix) 2:40" which also should be avoided. No matter how good the electronics are the original vocals do not and never will go together. It's a fucking disgrace is what it is. I pity whoever thought this a good idea. Waste of space on the disc.

So the disc is 19 minutes without the crappy electronic mixes and 25 minutes without them. It's five minutes of your life that you'd rather keep, trust me. I'm not sure how much this EP is, but there's essentially only a few good tracks on it and the electronic tracks make that even less. Two new songs, three re-recordings and one acoustic version of a track don't make for that great an EP. All of these could've been stuck on a two disc version of The Dixie Dead as a bonus disc.

Recommend: No (8 Tracks, 25:00)



Thira - The Ascension Construct EP (2012) - This debut EP from electronic metal act, Thira has some interesting ideas but the djent influence is too much for me. They seem to mix Meshuggah with a much more punishing hardcore element though and opener "Release 4:05" certainly does see a release of anger and a rather tasteful instrumentation piece that shows me that these guys can do more than just bash my face in. There's a clean vocal part also on the track, but I find it very disheartening that during it, the backup vocals do nothing but "raggh!" and there's no discernible word to the effect.

"The Corroded 4:20" starts off with electronics and goes into a style that sort of reminds me of Mushroomhead and their old vocalist JMann growling along groove riffs. The djent is still strong here as I sit through the track and hope for something else. Nothing else really happens other than a slight atmosphere riff. "Left To Kneel 4:59" follows a spoken word part amongst some oddly structured electronics that go in tune with the djent. I find myself still sitting through the track, hoping that something more than Meshuggah emulation will happen and it does, going back to the ground traveled in the beginning which I will say is a little unique. Atmospheres come into form for a while, as the Meshuggah emulation comes back. "In Sinking Earth 3:48" continues the same style. The final track, "Through The Collapse 4:00" sees something of a different style for a bit, before it treads the same ground. But then the clean vocalist comes back and the growls actually contain words this time. That doesn't last long, but there's a couple of breakdown portions where the growl actually works quite well. The clean/growl due comes back as the song changes note and thunders with a much slower pace which I certainly like.

The disc is free, you can get it from the band's facebook; which I where I got the thing. Check it out and see what you think. There are probably now 9,999 djent bands out there and I'm sure that there are much better djent bands out there than these guys, but I've never cared for djent anyway. Unless Meshuggah was doing it, or that one band that I believe could carry their torch. I can't remember who so just type in "Meshuggah" and "torch" in my search bar to find who I'm referencing. I don't even think I still have that record. But yeah, I'm going to recommend that one over this disc.

Recommend: Not sure. Not my thing, really. (5 Tracks, 21:00)



Pipebomb - The Dance Of The Dead EP (2012) - This is the debut album from Cosmo Morte, who is part of Scream Machine. Cosmo shows off his industrial skills quite well on opener "Wake The Dead 2:52" which is a good introduction to his talents. The next track is "Flesheater (Zombie Apocalypse Mix) 5:22" which was originally a Scream Machine track and has been chopped up and played around with until it resembles something of a dark dance. He's seriously got some skills, this is really catchy stuff. I like how he's completely transformed SinDelle's voice to something otherworldly and inhumane. This is the work of a guy who knows what he's doing, so I hope to hear more from him in the future.

"Take 5:45" continues the dance style of the other tracks while adding the deranged rock style of Scream Machine along with SinDelle and another guy by the name of Fredrik Croona who's got some definite talent. Definitely one of the disc's best tracks - all of these vocalists work together well on it. "PIPEBOMB 4:44" follows, it being the project's namesake track and seems to let on with a electronic meets trance and dub feel. Guitar joins in amidst the fray and feels welcome there. A very strong and professional track of the highest caliber. The last track on the disc is "2013" which may be the date when we get a full length LP from the project, but the track itself seems to be more about the speech. The electronics in the back seem a little lax.

This is free EP, so I would recommend checking it out. There's some definite professional work on this one, but I just wish that I had more to go on. Still, it's a Rockbox Exclusive even; so he wants you to torrent it.

Recommend: Yes (5 Tracks, 24:00)


(No Image)

Lockjaw - Undressed & Messed Up EP (2012) - Lockjaw is an electronic metal four-piece that is definitely inspired by metal. The frontman uses a harsh vocal approach to the music, as you might hear on earlier Grendel and most industrial black and death metal. The first track is a cover of Metallica's "Jump In The Fire 4:39" and is done surprisingly well, showing that these four have a certain degree of promise. "Paranoid 2:47" is next, and if you don't know who this is a cover of, then you probably got here by mistake and should find another place to get reviews of your 1D, Justin Beiber/Beyonce/Gaga and that French guy, Goatee's music. But the odd thing about this one is it's use of chiptunes. Scream Machine remixed Lockjaw's "Shotgun Mary" and re-titled it to "Shotgun Mary (One Shot Remix By Scream Machine) 3:03" and it's very catchy and recommendable. W.O.R.M. got a hold of the next track, "Cock Blocker" and considers this their "Sadist Sadistic Remix" which also is full of fury and gives me exactly what I'd expect from harsh electronic or electronic metal music. The remix is surprisingly strong and blasts with intensity. More of this, please!

The next track is a "Sex On The Brain Remix 3:46" and I'm guessing it's by the band, as there's no indication on who remixed it. The song is decent enough, but the remix isn't particularly my thing in some parts, while others feature more power. It's a bittersweet relationship really. Did this song really need all this? Towards the end of the track, things just sound completely off-base and I'm left scratching my head. The next track is "Vow 4:09" and it's an actual song by the band, not a remix or cover. So it'll be my first time hearing the band's music in it's purest form. I would say that these guys remind me a little of Dope and Mortiis, Velvet Acid Christ, Combichrist, Zeromancer and the like. There is real guitar featured and the drums sound like they're from a real kit. My guess is that these guys play shows and if they do, I'd like to see some. This is an act with more than just some promise and I'd recommend them heavily.

But this isn't over yet. "Still Tastes Like Blood 3:13" is next, sounding a little demented until some electronics come into place along with an odd acoustic riff? Whew. Not my favorite track, but I do like the "alien keyboards" in the middle of the track. Has an astral feel. I also like the work done at the end of the track, short little keyboard piece, but works. The final track on the EP is "Justified 3:43" and it's a little more mundane in terms of electronics, but carries a good atmosphere with a few lyrics attached to it. Some sort of electric guitar effect plays for a while and then some warbles that sound like a portal's been opened somewhere. Seems I should find out where it is, so that I can access a secret level. When the track resumes, it comes back very monotone in nature, quite depressing in all honesty and ends the EP with a whimper.

This is an odd situation, but I'm going to say that I recommend this EP, particularly because people haven't heard them and it's on the house. True, there are some band oddities and covers and remixes as it seems that the band saved their best for the next release; but it will give you a good feel for them. It's a good appetizer. I personally would love to hear more music from these guys and I think I'd even buy a shirt to show my support. If these guys had come out when I was younger, my friend and I would be shitting over them. Definitely worth checking out.

Recommend: Yes (8 Tracks, 31:00)



Xanthochroid - Incultus EP (2011) - Before he was blessed with Boils, there was this EP, released in 2011. This is where the story originally starts and it's now streaming for free, so you can hear it in it's full glory. "The Last Relic Of Axen 5:46" begins with a very strong instrumental sense of the band, definitely giving us a showcase of what they can do. It still has the black/death epic nature and the piano really kicks things up a notch, even though the vocals come in late. But there is a powerful clean vocal part here that only gets accentuated with the melody that comes right after (and there's the drum blasting that backs up the clean which I fucking love.) Quite simply, this opener is a fucking masterpiece and a great start to what I'm sure will be a strong legacy.

The next track is a damn near eight minute whopper, called "Iced, In Extremis 7:39." and it starts off with piano, goes into acoustic and just has this wonderfully soundtrack-esque feel to it. Then the band powers up and thrashes like Emperor, but I think even Ihsahn would smile at how epic this stuff actually is. Someone needs to send him a link to the stream (makes a mental note.) The vocals come in near the middle of the track, but this is really about showcasing what the band can do with their instruments for the most part. The vocals come in and kill as you might expect and the melodies slay left and right as the scowls and growls and pianos (these guys really do bring it all) help to make the package even greater. A gothic organ brings a little silence and an ominous atmosphere with it as the drums play along with some blackened riffs that envelop into blasting and yes - the fucking gothic organ.

Track three is over 8 minutes and is called "Wormwood 8:17" as it begins with a slight paino piece and envelops into extreme gothic territory that sounds more fucking extreme than Cradle, but even more classy. There's a nice acoustic/piano portion of the track which really shows you what these guys are truly capable of. These guys might be the next Opeth, Agalloch or Emperor of our times and they very well should be. If I'm shitting myself on the debut EP with as much shit power as I did during the LP, then this is something worth listening to. There's a clean vocal portion here too, sounds very Norwegian in all honesty; I'm surprised that all of this works so well. I'm literally just sitting here in mesmerization because I can't describe this track, it's just fucking incredible.

The final track is "Incultus 8:31" which begins with what sounds like Viking hymns being sung by hoary bearded men with strong bass tones. This envelops into black metal which plays neoclassical a quarter of the way through and leaves me mesmerized. Again, I'm using that fucking word. But it's applicable. Then a solo comes into the mix and it's short but lets into a large duet with these large voiced gentlemen and the black metal vocals. It's like if you got a bunch of dwarves to sing and had an orc or a goblin as the main vocalist. That's what this would sound like. Then they'd grab their axes. Because that's what dwarves do. The piano starts playing again amidst the strong riffs and the prog that's going on here (no denying that) as the dwarves come back into place with the knight now doing vocals. Love the piano part here too... damn, this is so fucking epic. At the end (and it's an epic end by all means) there's a calm outro that sounds like the end credits to a movie that I just watched. Or listed to, rather. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

The four tracks on this EP all total in at a traditional 30 minutes of material. It's 30 minutes that you can play again and again and again. I mean, wow. I don't think I've ever heard an EP this good in my life and I've heard lots of EP's. It's streaming for free. Yes, I'll mention it again. It's streaming for free and you can also buy it and the gripping full length, Blessed He With Boils at the band's bandcamp. If you can't find it, email me and I'll lead you to where you can check it out.

But there's one more track on here that I've forgotten about, haven't I? Ah, yes. being that I'm a major fan of old-school (I hesitate to say retro which invokes certain hipster qualities, which weren't around when I was young) video games, there is an 8-bit version of the album's first track "The Last Relic Of Axen 5:31" done as if it were playing out of your television speakers (few people had entertainment centers back then) from the traditional, classic front-loading Nintendo Entertainment System or NES for short (Famicom (Family Computer) in Japan.)

For those of you that think this introduction unnecessary; just remember that It's been almost thirty years since the release of the big grey box of fun, when you had to blow on the cartridges and fight to get games to work. But let me tell you something - I wouldn't trade those days for anything. If you look at gaming now, it's nothing like it was then; and I'm convinced that we're seeing the age of popular gaming come to a decline. But that's another topic.

Immediately when I heard the track begin, I thought of a title screen which would go into the first stage of the game. Close to the middle would be a "midboss" and close to the very end would be the final boss. It actually sounds like boss music and apparently the boss was victorious! But at any rate, it's an unexpected nostalgia trip - and yes kiddies, video game music used to sound like that. And we fucking appreciated it. We still fucking appreciate it.

In closing, get this album. Buy this album. Stream this album. Download this album Torrent this album. Listen to this album. One of the best EP's known to man.

Recommend: HOLY FUCK YES! (5 Tracks, 35:00)

10/10 (And I'd give higher if I could!)

Hails Is Dead. Work continues.

Short update here, but just letting you know that Hails is dead. I don't want to get into the logistics of it, but they're cooking up something else at the moment. In the meantime, my primary focus is this zine. Expect plenty of previously witheld interviews to magically appear in the next few days or weeks - and plenty of reviews of both signed and unsigned acts as usual.

There's also a new look and a spotlight that I've wanted to have up forever now - Xanthochroid. I'll have that interview posted up soon along with a quick EP run.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Week 73 (February 24th, 2013)


Behold Almighty Doctrine
Unique Leader Records

The latest full-length album from Lecherous Nocturne isn't necessarily a long effort, but it causes quite a bit of chaos with an erratic and extreme edge that's sure to warrant many plays. The band thrashes, blasts and bludgeons through these tracks as if they had to record them all in time for dinner. But they didn't just throw these together either; rather the songs are so well structured with a sense of obscure technicality that I would liken the disc to something of a metal tornado of sound that comes through and leaves nothing but devastation in it's path. The riffs are frantic, the vocals are full of piss and vinegar with a definite core influence; and the whole package comes out sounding like something from CATTLE DECAPITATION, JOB FOR A COWBOY, OBSCURA, DECAPITATED, PIG DESTROYER and perhaps even LAMB OF GOD if they had been just a bit faster and gave a shit less about slow southern groove. The doctrine expressed here is certainly one of fury, it's a Bible of brutality through and through. If you're looking for a disc that you can literally file under the word "extreme" in the dictionary, this will be that "take no prisoners, shoot them all in the fucking head" album that you'd be sure to find listed. Definitely not one to pass up, if you're looking for the heaviest of the heavy. I think the piano interlude is only here to prevent aneurisms or spontaneous human combustion. (Eric May)



Fiends At Feast - Towards The Baphomet's Throne (PR2013) - Fiends At Feast are a Californian black metal five piece that also bleeds into death metal. This is their debut release, following an earlier EP. The disc sees the band doing everything right, from the ice fueled melodies, fiery bass lines, and venom soaked vocals. But not only that, these guys do enjoy the solo and don't mind employing it. The structure of the songs are also well conceived, making songs like "With Blood And Vomit 4:53" and the more eerie prog of "Walls Of Worship 6:33" come across beautifully. Well, as beautifully as one can for Satanic black metal. I really don't feel that there's one single track on this album that is a dud, and am certainly hearing influences from Dissection and Gorgoroth here; which always amounts to some greatness. Truly, this is a black metal album in the fullest regards; it literally bleeds with the blood and spirit of the genre. I'm truly afraid that these gentlemen will go unnoticed and by all means, they shouldn't. After reading one 90% review and one 60% review from other well-known music blogs (that don't have a picture of Megaman X as their current background) I would certainly agree more with the 90% and I feel that the 60% reviewer wasn't really listening to the album, merely just skimming it. Sure, there will be better bands with higher sound quality and maybe some avant-garde Sigh or Blutmond weirdness, but as far as really capturing the spirit of black metal; these gentlemen really seem to do it for me. Even the Spanish language "Profecia Negra 5:01" comes of without a hitch, making frontman Loki a heavy hitter in terms of vocal prowess.

But what's more, is that there are surprises on this album. There are slight influences from bands you might not expect and slight transitions into territory that you also wouldn't expect for this kind of music. But it is 2013 now and I fully agree that these slight differentiations makeup the core of what this era of black metal should sound like. After all, I feel thankful to personally be able to hear these evolutions become more apparent in black metal as we head toward something that seems to be as a big of a step as Venom in the 80's to Emperor in the 90's. Fiends At Feast show that black metal is indeed changing, but they also show that with the more things change; the more they remain the same.

At any rate, I would definitely consider this album worth checking out for the whole of black metal hordes. Could have done without the intro and interludes though.

Highlights: After The Gates Of Hell, With Blood And Vomit, I Am Death, Walls Of Worship, From Hell They Rise, Hedonistic Heresy, Profecia Negra, Cold Grey Sky (10 Tacks, 40:00)



Mors Principium Est - And Death Said Live (PR2013) - Five years after about a million lineup changes, Mors is back with a new disc that continues their At The Gates/Dark Tranquility influenced melodeath and combines it with core and a vocal approach that reminds me of a Ihsahn had he been influenced by metalcore. Now that statement might automatically be enough to tell people "fuck it, I won't even download it" but you probably already grabbed this from Rockbox or Get Metal and jammed it long before checking out this review in the first place.

The best way to describe the album is in all actuality a core approach to melodic black metal with symphonic influence and some great solo portions. It's definitely catchy, especially opener "Departure 5:44" (disregard the intro, it was a waste of space) which centers around the chorus. However, "I Will Return 4:29" comes along a little more like current Naglfar or final era Dissection (there's an unexpected influence) mixed with At The Gates style that fucking works for me. As I skim again through most of the tracks, I'm noticing much of the same thing about the album - it's pretty straightforward. The songs are all catchy and they all feature some interesting utilizations, but you won't necessarily hear any new ground being broken.

Being that the new Hypocrisy is coming out soon and from the single, seems to offer the same melodeath with catchy choruses (which I personally fucking like and would love to jump in a band to do round-about the same idea with the strong choruses - I've written dozens of lyrics around that structure, "Shackled and Chained" for instance) you aren't going to get anything surprisingly new. It sounds like Hypocrisy, it sounds like Zonaria, it sounds like X band that plays fast melodic death and incorporates repetitive choruses. Yet again, they're all done well here and the music backs it all up well. The fact that the band has incorporated these slight black metal influences certainly appeals to me, I'm definitely hearing the grim tones of (yes, Naglfar) in this wild mix of new musicians.

Nevertheless, And Death Said Live... is definitely a killer release that hits hard with everything that it does do and even if we have heard it before, it's not broken and I'm not going to fix it. As I said, I'd jump at a minute's notice to do material of this same accord, just because I fucking love it so much and consider it an inspiration. Five years may have passed, but this album was worth the wait. There are two deathcore guests (Bring Me The Horizon, Black Dahlia Murder) on this album, but I can't really hear them and am not too worried, so I don't care. I personally think the band's new frontman can hold his own without them and is definitely one of my favorite frontmen in metal music right now.

I jammed the shit out of this one. My opinion is what this blog is about, and I fucking loved this disc. Definitely one of my personal picks for best of the year, if you love catchy melo-death with a dark edge and fantastic guitar work, pick this fucker up. Of course, I'd love to be doing what they did here (just without the touring part.)

Highlights: All (11 Tracks, 46:00)



Manilla Road - Mysterium (PR2013) - Manilla Road need no introduction, they've been around for as long as many of their peers like Manowar and Candlemass, no doubt. I was actually surprised to see that they were working on a new album, (But guess who also is coming out with a new one this year? Satan. Yeah, I can't believe it either.) and though the production is lacking, I feel that some fans will feel right at home with it. I don't feel that opener "The Grey God Passes 4:12" isn't very strong at all, and I don't think the vocal approach works well with it - just seems a little off for some reason that I can't place. The track that follows, "Stand Your Ground 3:02" didn't do much for me either, despite the fact that it certainly thrashes more. And yes, the third track "The Battle Of Bonechester Bridge 4:36" despite it being musically strong, left me with a muffled vocal.

However, "Hermitage 6:11" certainly comes across well and I was quite surprised by it's Iron Maiden meets Candlemass flair. Though the vocal work is still not as powerful as it should be, the guitars certainly make up for it. "Do What Thou Wilt 4:16" follows with a definite doom approach and I certainly like what the song stands for and stand behind it; but again I feel that the vocals are muffled and should be at least raised a bit in the mix. I can't hear this guy very well and I'd like to. I like "Only The Brave 3:43" also, it's got a slight kick that goes into a melodic chorus which takes over most of the song. There's also a wonderful solo, but I believe I can say that about all of the songs, even the ones that I didn't particularly care for had awesome playing. But again, the guitars are heard perfectly, while the vocalist sounds like he's somewhere in the background fog.

I'm going to say the same thing with the next song "Hallowed Be Thy Grave 4:45." The bass riffs thunder and the leads are heard perfectly, but I can barely hear the frontman. I understand that they were going for an analog approach with the disc, but I've just come under the opinion that those days of hard to hear instruments and vocals must have sucked. I'm quite glad that remixing and mastering is now being used on many of these old albums, I love what it did to those early Blind Guardian tracks and hopefully more bands will take the time to polish up some of their old classics. "The Fountain 4:35" follows next, and due to the acoustics I can actually hear the vocals and they certainly work well with the ballad. But some of you might not be looking to hear something like this from Manilla Road.

The last two tracks to follow are "The Calling 4:05" which is an atmospheric interlude that follows the epic (over ten minutes) "Mysterium 11:39." With a song of this length, you'd expect the band to have gone above and beyond the call of duty and I can certainly say that they have. The song starts off light with a few good vocal lines and a solo that takes off into the main thump of the track. I can really hear the vocals on this one, but they don't sound like the were recorded with the band. You can hear the vocalist singing this in a separate studio while the music is playing. That should've been mixed a little better, I don't know how this thing was tracked, if the guitars and drums were recorded on the same track or if they were separate, but I think the guitars and drums should have come up just a little more to give the illusion of the track being performed in the band. Being a man who puts his own vocals on instrumentals, I've become something of an expert at this.

I think that Mysterium is a strong album for sure, but it's plagued with mixing issues that I noticed from the very beginning. The very minute I started playing the disc, I said to myself "this isn't mixed right." But I won't tell you that the bad mixing kills the album either. Mysterium has some truly formidable tracks and the guitar work is unparalleled. The very song itself is a wonderful closer and the effects help to bring that atmosphere. I just don't like the sound guy, whoever that was. There's a very high possibility than one of the band members did this themselves and in that case, someone's probably cursing at me right now. But I have to tell it like it is, straight from the horse's mouth.

Mysterium is musically strong, but could have been so much better. A mix can really make or break your efforts these days and this mix definitely didn't help matters any. Yet, this is (for the most part) a bare-bones analog recording with a full band that doesn't really happen anymore. Perhaps I've grown so used to digital shit and pro-tools that I have almost forgotten what it sounds like when an entire band is playing in the same area together.

A sign of the times? Perhaps. But I recommend that fans of the band and classic heavy metal check out this new album from a certain old dog in the metal pack. There's no reason to cast off a disc completely, due to a bad mix (references the final ...And Oceans album, Cypher and the latest Andromeda album.)

So yeah, there's still some magic in this one.

Highlights: Hermitage, Do What Thou Will, Only The Brave, The Calling, Mysterium (10 tracks, 51:00)



Supuration - Cube 3 (PR2013) - First and foremost, if you're looking for something different in the realms of death metal, go check out Supuration. These guys have been around since 1989 and also developed a side project called S.U.P. that dealt in prog. This album is the third part of their cube saga, called Cube 3 and even though it seems to lack the originality of the second part of the saga Incubation, the new release makes up for the title with what lurks in the music itself. Progressive death metal assaults occur here, with definite gravel vocals and a clean approach that reminds me of Enslaved, just with death metal instead of black metal (but give them time, seeing as they covered so much crap on Riitiir.) and the whole thing comes off as refreshing and unique.

There. I said it. Unique. These days, many bands try to be too unique and wind up sounding just completely odd altogether (not that I don't mind that) but hearing a group of guys that just make a subtle difference really comes off as something of a musical gift to my ears. The first thing you'll notice about Supuration is that the music isn't necessarily fast, even when the drums blast. They also don't seem to be interested in bludgeoning, and even if the drums are pounding in places like "The Delegation 5:32" you will still hear a slight clean vocal interjection (The Disenthrall 2:20.)Yes, this is a different kind of death metal; so leave all of your expectations at the door.

You might consider this odd, but I feel as if I might have to listen to this album one more time, even though I listened to it a few days prior during the listening process that I give each and every album I review. There's just so much going on within this music ("Consumate 6:09" for example) that I literally am having a hard time breaking it down in to a consumable package for words to convey. France has given us a lot of great musical exports, Gojira being one of the most well known; but I must inform you lovers of sweeps that these guys sound absolutely nothing like Gojira. This is certainly progressive death metal of a unique flair (I wouldn't even liken them to Opeth, in all honesty) that is not only interesting, but off-kilter in many aspects and incredibly listenable. The words "Highly Recommended" should certainly appear in 72" font, but I will instead leave you with that observation instead of actually doing what would come off as ridiculous.

One other thing that I need to explain about this band, is that Supuration are death metal. The music is certainly backed with all the grim and unwelcoming atmospheres that you might expect, but it certainly seems like the soundtrack to a really fucked up sci-fi film that I've never seen and certainly want to. There are metal magazines and other blogs that will probably say "yeah, it's okay" but I don't feel that some of these reviewers are literally listening to the music, just skimming through and making way for what's next on their plate, (mainly noting Decibel) so they can go home and listen to the music that they want to listen to. I sometimes feel as if some of these reviewers consider reviewing discs to be a chore. Like "Oh man, they sent me more albums. I really wanted to listen to the band x album" and my response to that, is to check out the promos first. There's a big chance that you'll discover something in there that you will like better than the "band x" album. Or the chance that band x's new album is as good as you would've liked. That happens.

But as far as Surpuration goes, I'm giving it a perfect ten and here is the reason for that. It's different, it's original - not something you've heard over and over again by bands with the same sounds and different names. The execution on the album is perfect, it's death metal with a progressive nature that sounds 100% different from any other band out there doing progressive death metal. Most of them draw on Opeth. These guys do not. They were out before Opeth, if you can believe it. The melodies are catchy, intriguing and a bit odd which I find appealing; and the vocals meld well enough to come across as anything that Enslaved played clean and harsh with while still maintaining the death metal origins of the band. If these guys don't get known for this record here in the states, then I would consider myself completely incompetent in my reviewing abilities and the genre of metal doomed.

This is what I wanted to hear in 2013. These guys brought it. Go check it out.

Highlights: Cube 3 (9 Tracks, 41:00)



The Omega Experiment - The Omega Experiment (PR2013) - These Michigan proggers certainly have much in common with Devin Townsend and you can certainly hear that in the riffs. They've got Devin down perfectly and I've um... never heard that before. Devin Townsend always did his own thing and these guys definitely have somehow emulated that style. As for Devin, he has expressed his personal backing in the project and now the band is finally on Listenable with a debut and plans to tour for this release. If you check the band's facebook, you will note that they are currently on tour right now. But that's enough about these two guys, let's talk about the music.

The band definitely uses the Devin Townsend Band (not project) formula here, definitely making me think of albums like Synchestra and Accelerated Evolution for starters. Of course there are plenty of other influences in the band like Queensrcyhe as noted by the promo material. There certainly is a sense of melodic majesty in this album, something of uplifting messages backed by both men who also share and duet vocals. The fact that these two line up so well together is quite amazing and makes the album worth checking out. If you're a fan of truly great clean vocal work in metal, then I'm not just telling you; I'm commanding you to check out this album and am sure that you will absorb and wind up playing it quite a few times or many more.

The track lengths vary quite a bit here, with the second song "Stimulus 10:21" being a sort of epic and rightfully so. There are the same complex atmospheres here that one could expect from any great Devin Townsend piece; but also the slight meanderings and extremities that separate it from progressive rock. "Furor 7:16" drags this point across with it's electronic thrash nature and use of harsh vocals. However, the song also incorporates moments of harmony while still keeping the metal edge. "Bliss 2:02" will remind us of the album's nature, a battle with drug abuse that continues into "Karma" where the harsh vocals sound more like they came from Demon Hunter than Devin Townsend and I have no idea what's going mid-way through the song, thinking maybe these guys should stick to clean and emphasize their heavy portions with music instead of vocals, making them lose what core influence they might gain from that; unless they are trying to appeal to that one dude that loves his prog and muscle music too. (But seriously guys - I'm joking.)

I have no idea what the band believes in, whether it's common reward/punishment religion or metaphysics or what-have-you; but this album certainly seems to give me a sort of religious (possibly pro-Christian) feel. I could really care less, but some people might have a problem with that; which is quite immature in the first place (after all, Jesus gave to us Extol, Antestor, A Hill To Die Upon and several other killer bands) but people are people.

At any rate, the disc is certainly worth like I've already said; "checking out for those fans of truly great vocal work" and I stand behind that and will amend the statement with "truly great musicianship." Though they have similarities with Devin Townsend, these guys definitely make the music their own and I would certainly like to see what is next for The Omega Experiment. A debut to me is like an offering:" Here's what we can do." A sophomore should expound upon that and I hope that maybe in 2014 or 2015 the band will have an ability to do that. You know, if we're still around by then.

Once more, I recommend that fans of truly great clean vocal work and musicianship give this prog metal two-piece a try. I think these guys will reverberate in the heads of prog fans young and old. They learned from the best in the business after all, so I don't see what could go wrong.

Highlights: Gift, Stimulus, Furor, Karma, Terminus, Paramount (9 Tracks, 56:00)



The Beyond - Frostbitepanzerfuck (PR2013) - You may be familiar with my review of this band's old demo and it's been so long since I did that, that I can't even remember what I gave that disc. At any rate, this thing has been redone with some added tracks and it's definitely much better than I would've expected. I guess I'll have to warn most of you that this contains punk at it's most vulgar and instead of growling or scowling the lyrics to most of these lyrics, they are right in your fucking face. Listening to this at the wrong time could get you into trouble, especially the opener "Roto-Cunt 3:10" and the G.G. Allin cover of "Cunt Sucking Cannibal 3:06" so be careful where you listen to this shit. And yeah, this is the kind of music that people will assume you've got serious mental issues if they catch you listening to it; but it's all part of the fucking display. The Beyond wants to be beyond all that shit quite frankly. "Goat Sodomizer 3:14" is a straight-up black metal track with punk influence that should appeal to fans of the punk Darkthrone era (which ended this year with The Underground Resistance and begins their 80's power? metal era) But honest to fucking god, this shit just sounds so therapeutic in some instances; like when you're walking the halls of the mall on break from your shitty job in the stock room and on your way to get something to eat from what's left of the fucking food court, you see all these people walking around and it just makes you feel better that you don't actually have to converse with any of them. You don't want to know them, nor care to know them. You look at the women and are like, no fucking way - she only wants to shit out kids and go to church and that shit. No fucking way. Might as well call it the fucking walking dead. Never had a problem with religion, just a problem with blind faith and most of the people in my small little area of the world are just that - sheep that are brought up a certain way and that's life.

But when you've got "Frostbitepanzerfuck 5:13" blaring in your ears, it just makes you feel better. The frontman just lets out the most infernal sense of "fuck you" scream and backs it up with even more aggressive punk that makes life more tolerable. Then there's a classic solo that you don't expect either. That makes life even more tolerable. But what I really like about this disc is that some of the tracks come of as pure punk and others come off as black metal. It's a perfect mix of the two and it's vulgar as fucking possible in most instances. I'd love to see these guys live in all honesty, I bet they put on a fucking hell of a show.

Oh, there it is. That's the one I was listening to while walking in the mall. "The Splatterhouse Maniacs 3:36." this tracks is blast beats and demonic scowls that just come off sounding fucking pleasant. And maybe I'm a nutcase, but these guys probably are nuts too. Hell, did you know that there are 27 invisible chemtrails in our air right now? Go look that shit up. If I'm crazy, I'm blaming the fucking air. Oh yeah, "Necro Overload 2:47." has some wonderful words in it also, that make me feel calm. The final track "Exterminate Humanity 4:35" is much slower than the others and it's got a darker vocal tone than the previous tracks. It almost sounds a bit doom, but let me fucking tell you something - it kills.

I've heard a lot of punk/metal mixes in years and haven't cared for many of them. But these guys are the exception. I have no idea how this album is being released, or whether they got signed or not - they ought to be signed to a major just so that people could see these guys on the American Idol stage and commit mass suicide. Does that help regulate the population then? Sounds like it would.

Despite my sick thoughts, I guarantee that the music is even sicker. So if you're in the mood for something sick that doesn't give a fuck about anyone or anything, (these guys make Anal Cunt style lyrics audible - I always loved those, but the band never actually blared that shit in front of your face as if they were scared of offending someone - it was always just a bunch of inaudible grunts and gurgles and that pisses me off to this day - someone needs to cover "She's Not Pregnant, She's Just Fat") then try The Beyond. Sure, they don't have a fantastically fucked up name like Anal Cunt or Jesus Anal Penetration, but they certainly make some fucked up tunes with regards to musicianship. Yes, as in these guys aren't just fucking around. You could see these guys in action and they'd put on a strong performance.

They already made a strong one here. Check it out, if you think you can take it.

EDIT: The first comment on the band's stream of their album for says "I like my misogynistic lyrics to be incomprehensible." Grow the fuck up and take a joke, you prick. I know this kills the whole psycho ramble thing, but seriously - learn to take a joke. These guys don't beat their wives when they get home and they don't sit at the table in spikes and corpse paint. It's just fucking punk and black metal and it does make you feel a bit better. Also try laughing.

Highlights: Every track contains the voice of God. Well worth checking out for all humans. (8 Tracks, 29:00)



Shakra - Powerplay (PR2013) - Fans of Nocturnal Rites and current era Edguy should definitely check out this new effort from Shakra. It's definitely just as catchy as you'd expect those bands to be and it's got the same power/rock edge that you'd also expect. Perhaps this really is nothing more than watered down power metal without it's speed and virtuosic guitar (even though there are some really great solos on this disc) semblances, but it's really hard to deny the catchiness and re-playability of tracks like "The Mask 4:44", "Higher 4:03", "Don't Keep Me Hanging 3:58" and my personal favorite, "Dream Of Mankind 5:06." Make no mistake about it, this is one album that I could sit and listen to for hours, especially if I was still in my teen years where one song could be listened to on repeat for hours and I never seemed to get tired of it. I've already listened to this thing quite a few times and perhaps these songs are now glued into that massive record collection I have in my brain, because every now and then I'll hear them playing inside of my head. Good thing the band doesn't charge for brainwave streams. At least, not yet.

If you're looking for a really great rock album with the obvious enhancement of classic elements, you'll definitely find it here. Though these guys seem to just want to get on the charts, I definitely consider their music fucking great and the messages powerful, (Dream Of Mankind, The Mask) though at the same time I'm sure that people are using some of these tracks for their fan-made anime music videos. It can't be helped.

At any rate, check out these power/rockers and I'm sure you'll find a couple of tracks if not many more that you will also find "get stuck in your fucking head" as with me. It's much better than Nickelback, in any case.

Highlights: The Mask, Higher, Dear Enemy, Save You From Yourself, Don't Keep Me Hanging, Dream Of Mankind, Stevie, Secret Hideway (12 Tracks, 48:00)



Helker - Somewhere In The Circle (PR2013) - First of all, Argentina's Diego Valdez is one of the greatest vocal gifts to power metal in years. This guy actually sounds a little like Dio and it's hard to fucking believe, but I had the headphones on and verified it. Whoa. Not only that, the guy can fucking sing and the band can really fucking play. I've got faith that AFM will do em right and they'll be able to go out there and really kick ass in Europe, where they hope to tour. They've toured with the likes of Hammerfall, Stratovarius, Gamma Ray and many more power metal kings, already and it shouldn't be too long before these guys headline their own tour, with the material presented here. Coming from a man who still gives a shit about power metal, this disc came like a furious punch to my cranium, delivering thrash, melody and plenty of old school grit accompanied by solos that you should expect from this kind of album. A power metal album - not that wannabe crap. This is the real deal.

The opener "Modern Roman Circus 3:55" is where we get out first fix of what sounds like Dio brought back to us, but I've almost no doubt that he's still here in spirit watching over the greatness of metal (What? You think the guy was really interested in the pearly gates when there's all this great fucking metal to be made here?) and this album proves it. "Begging For Forgiveness 4:13" features Time "Ripper!" Owens (ex-Priest, Iced Earth) and Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear on guest vocals, which make a great song even greater.

It's solid power metal with fantastic vocal work and everything else at top notch precision. Though there were a few songs (Flying 3:58, Inside Of Me 4:04) that didn't hit quite as hard, but everything else on the disc did; and that's certainly enough to warrant it a go. I'm not sure what other power metal gems we'll get this year, but Helker is certainly a damned good one. If you like anthemic power metal with far-reaching choruses, you've found exactly what you're looking for here. If you haven't heard these Argentinean kings yet, you really fucking need to now. There's no excuse not to check out power metal this fucking good. No excuse whatsoever.

Highlights: Modern Roman Circus, Just Be Yourself, No Chance To Be Reborn, Begging For Forgiveness, Wake Up, Still Alive, Ghosts From The Past
(11 Tracks, 46:00)



KEN mode - Entrench (PR2013) - Here's a new album from a band that I've never been too crazy about, and that's maybe because I just don't understand the whole post-hardcore extreme movement. I guess I'm talking about shit like Converge, Gaza, Dillinger (even though I like some of their songs) and others in this vein. It just never appealed to me. So that's precisely the same reason why I just don't much care for this one. I listened to the whole album in it's entirety, but found very little on this disc that even remotely interested me. I try to give every disc their fair shot, and I guess I kind of like "No, I'm In Control 3:38" and the slower, more atmospheric approach of "Romeo Must Never Know 7:32." But as for the rest of the tracks, it's really just the same-old technical fortitude and djent, djent, djent that I've heard before. Can't we just call these guys Converge with more djent?

Also, I need to mention that the album's closer "Monomyth 6:03" is complete garbage. Just being honest. Yes, you'll look at that track length and think that it's some large epic number; when all that it really is, is some light ambience track that doesn't really hold a candle to the atmospheric work that Cult Of Luna played around with on Vertikal. To tell you the truth, the band's last album Venerable (2011) was far better; and this thing wasn't even worth the wait. Let's just go ahead and forget that "Monomyth" even exists and count the ten tracks as they are. With that, you'll get around 42 minutes of music that all sounds roughly the same with some minor exceptions in riff structure and melody. Though there is that slower track "Romeo Must Never Know" and it actually sets itself apart from the others, I still have about 35 minutes of fodder that's in the way. Harsh, but at least I'm being honest. For fans of this stuff, you'll probably love it and call me an idiot; but that's cool because there's shit I like that I know some of you hate. This is just one genre of metal that's always been kind of tough to get into for me and I'm pretty damned sure that it will always be that way. Decibel gave this one an 8, pretty much praising it to make the label happy; but I'm going to give it just one number lower and consider it decent. It's not a bad disc, I just couldn't really get into any of it.

It's like asking for coffee and getting a cup of liquefied licorice instead. Throw it back in the trenches!

Highlights: No, I'm In Control; Romeo Must Never Know (11 Tracks, 48:00)



Paradox - Tales Of The Weird (PR2013) - Thrashers Paradox have put out a new album alright, but just because it's called Tales Of The Weird doesn't mean that it actually has anything to do with Weird Tales; a magazine where Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft got their start. However, if you're in the mood for melodic, power-laden thrash; this is probably just what you needed. After a short intro, the disc rushes with blazing speed on title track "Tales Of The Weird 9:19" which is a scorching and catchy power thrasher with the kind of solo that you should already expect from this kind of material. "Day Of Judgement 4:15" comes in next, thrashing even harder than it's predecessor but I don't think that the vocals hold up very well and I would pay more attention to the instruments.

"Brutalized 5:25" slows things down a bit, but then also goes into another thrash session. It's catchy, but decent. "Fragile Alliance 6:24" is next, using some weird effects and the sound of a crowd to boost it's thrash nature. I think the vocals definitely work a little bit better here. The frontman can't quite keep up with the speed, but on slower tracks he shows his worth. However, the chorus is stiff.

"Escalation 4:15" features the same by the numbers thrash, but sees the vocals at a much stronger pace. Again, the chorus is stiff. "Brainwashed 7:33" is next and I love this fucking intro. Then the intro seems to go into something that I would consider to be a very dark and unique thrash... well, for a few seconds anyway. I think these guys want to do more straightforward thrash than try to innovate and that's all well and good - I just think they should do a bit more. The vocals sound good here, the lyrics come out well enough; but the chorus is also very stiff. However, the band utilizes the extra time for an instrumental portion that really shows off their skills. "Slashdead 4:53" comes in with a chugga chugga that I certainly like, definitely has some Iced Earth influence. Believe it or not, the vocals and chorus on this one are actually pretty strong and I would consider it one of the disc's few highlights.

"Zeitgeist 1:53" is a short instrumental interlude that sticks with acoustic guitar up until a certain point when drums and an electric are used in the background. But the album's close come sin the form of "The Downward Spiral 3:42" which starts out with a powerful intro... please don't screw this one up.... hmmm, that's interesting. I really like the riffs being used on this one - it's a bit different then what the band's given us on the other tracks. It's a simplistic little riff, but it works. It's the shortest song on the disc that isn't an instrumental, but it's a definite standout and a good way to end the album...

Bonus Track

A Light In The Black (Rainbow Cover) (Bonus Track 7:17) - Yeah, you read that right. It's a 7:17 bonus track, in which the band experiments with a shitload of different ideas and it excited me more than anything else on this entire fucking album. But maybe that's because the band didn't actually write it. Yes, it's a Rainbow cover (RIP Dio) and they definitely seem to do a great job with it at any rate. It's not a super-thrasher and it's done justice. Keyboards are first used on the track, then the guitar completely tears it up (and I really mean, tears it up) as the keyboards come back into the fold, sounding like chiptunes as the chorus comes back and the song goes through a finale portion and ends.

This one's worth buying. But I'm not sure about the album as a whole. Paradox have the right idea and the musicianship is great, but it's very hard for me to get into an album of this nature where I'm not feeling the choruses or the vocals for the most part. The frontman's best vocal performance appears to be on a cover song and that's not a good thing. But if you still feel the need for power/thrash, check this album out.

Highlights: Tales Of the Weird, Slashdead, The Downward Spiral, A Light In The Black (Bonus Track) (10 Tracks, 54:00)



Portal - Vexovoid (2013) - I wasn't able to review Portal's 2009 album, Swarth because I hadn't been doing reviews that early on. But I've got this 2013 release and I've got to say that it's still Portal. The music still contains the ebb and flow of dark Lovecraftian worlds and the frontman still wears a fucking clock tower on his head, so this is still Portal as you know and love them. The disc is surprisingly short, only clocking in at a mere 34 minutes; but there's some really great ideas being utilized on this one, from the eerie riffs backing the blasts and abrupt atmospheric changes of opener "Kilter 5:46" to the Lovecraftian worship rite of "The Black Wards 4:16" (at least, that's what it fucking sounds like) and on through to the dense atmosphere of Plasm "5:46" where sound effects are well utilized; and further still into the machine-gun drumming backed howls of "Awryeon 4:21", there's a lot to like here.

The band is more interested in making death metal laden atmospheres, veritable "death metal in the fog" so to speak; moreso than making the kind of atmospheres that you would expect from the likes of black metal acts like Ash Borer or atmospheric doom-death, like a trillion other atmospheric doom-death bands. Yes, we could sanely call Portal an atmospheric death metal band in the truest sense, even though there is a considerable amount of common technicality on this album that some might shake their head on, wondering where the oddities of riffs have gone from Swarth. Perhaps the vacuum-laden sound of the last album has spoiled me, but hearing everything so clearly doesn't give the true sense of this coming from the beyond. I still think that De Magia Veterum has them beat as far as sounding like they've come from another plane of existence though.

Of course, that band always makes me sick to my stomach for some reason. I guess the closer "Oblotten 5:16" says it all though, with it's atmospheric riffs and little more. You may hear a tap of a cymbal there, but I can assure you that it sounds more like a portal being ripped open and then closed with a few slow plucks of an acoustic that reminds me a little of the devil's interval (tritone) which i think they ended the album with.

At the end of the day, Portal have made a solid atmospheric death metal album with more clarity than the others, but they just don't sound as weird as they used to. Evolution perhaps? Or a side effect of popularity?

Highlights: Plasm, Awryeon, Orbmorphia, Oblotten (7 Tracks, 34:00)



Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance (2013) - Don't be surprised that Darkthrone's new opus isn't a black metal album. It isn't even remotely close. Apparently, their last albums have been more punk laden; but this one sounds every bit like it was made back in the 80's and could have been summoned by Fenriz from some alternate dimension where it had already existed. You'll notice probably the most "black metal" even though I'd liken it to Venom's brand and nothing even a shard Norwegian, on the opener "Dead Early 4:49" but that's where the similarities end. "Valkyrie 5:14" is pure power/thrash in the style of early Blind Guardian, "Lesser Men 4:55" brings back the blackened thrash of Venom, "The Ones You Left Behind 4:16" contains some strong folk melodies and powerful choruses that mix Venom with folk-metal bands like Heidevolk.

I take my previous comment back. Upon listening to the album again, I'm noticing that "Come Warfare, The Eternal Doom 8:37" which is the longest track on the album might have the most similarity to the band's classic Norwegian black metal material. Yet it also has a touch of Venom and Bathory if they were a bit more scathing on the vocals. Fenriz doesn't use any shrieks here, which is great in my opinion; as a grueling scowl can sound far more depraved than a bunch of shrieking. But this album isn't just about the vocal end of course; and that's where the analog equipment shines with great melodies, deep seated chugs and pummeling thrash. The drums are also preformed quite well on this album bringing the thunder when needed and the backbone when required. This album actually hearkens to the days before blasts, when a drummer had to do much more than just pound the hell out of the kick pedals.

One might not know the exact reasons why Darkthrone decided to go back as far as 80's metal, but I'm sure that all those kvlt and true people are probably hissing and scowling in disgust over this one, calling Darkthrone blasphemers to the throne or whatever. But in all honesty, (and this might make some people take a ritual athame and drive it deep into their hearts) most of the tracks that follow the opener are all extremely powerful metal tracks that sound as close to the glory days as humanly possible. These are definite black thrashers and they're fucking great, fuck you if you've got a problem with it.

The final track on the disc "Leave No Cross Unturned 13:49" might even go so far as to being inspired by bands like Helloween. Yeah, there's a definite "Ahhhh!" high pitch vocal on here too, right at the beginning; so that you're aware it's of the relic quality. Of course, some of you might wonder why in the hell operatic vibrato is being used on this one and might scratch your heads. However, with close to fourteen minutes of playtime, the band keeps it interesting by adding some ghostly effects and the like to make things somewhat atmospheric with the old methods. I'm not sure how much of this was done on a computer, but I wouldn't imagine much. While there's production here, it certainly sounds as muddy as those old albums did; but you can discern all the vocals.

Highlights: Valkyrie, The Ones You Left Behind, Come Warfare, Eternal Doom
(6 Tracks, 41:00)



Hatebreed - The Divinity Of Purpose (2013) - I didn't know what to expect from Hatebreed's new album, but with the tagline "All pit, no shit" I wasn't left with a very good first outlook. However, the album actually sounds like a reinvention of the band and there are some definite strong tracks on this one. Opener "Put It To The Torch 2:12" sounds brutal from the get-go, while "Own Your World 3:39" thrashes just as well as it pays homage to hardcore. Songs like "End The Fight, Before The Fight Ends You 3:18" might sound like something you'll hear an MMA fighter blast in his headphones before getting pummeled into a mess at the Octagon, but it's pretty damned catchy.

"Dead Man Breathing 3:19" is probably my favorite song on the disc, the start paying tribute to Slayer and the thunder that makes up the main leads of this one had me banging my head from that first riff. There's also a nice little solo on the track. The next song that I'll highlight is going to be the album's title track, "The Divinity Of Purpose 3:39" which definitely reminds me of some of the band's very best material. Fans of both Perseverance and Supremacy should definitely like this material. There are songs on here that are just as good as classics "I Will Be Heard" and "This Is Now" which is one of my favorite songs from the band, I used to play it quite a bit in my teen years.

Though I've just highlighted some of my favorite tracks, I would definitely recommend that all fans of Hatebreed, hardcore and metal in general give this disc a shot. It's much better than I would've expected and sounds like Hatebreed at their finest. The riffs are strong and there's some powerful melodies being used here, the drums pound with fury and there are some definite crossover moments between hardcore and metal. A must for the year and certainly one of my favorite discs for 2013. It's one hell of an enjoyable beating.

Highlights: Put It To The Torch, Own Your World, Before The Fight Ends You, Dead Man Breathing, The Divinity Of Purpose (12 Tracks, 37:00)


Friday, February 15, 2013

Spotlight: Megaman X - Maverick Rising (5 Disc Free Album Collection)

Various Artists - Megaman X: Maverick Rising (2012)
Genre: Metal, Metalcore Rock, Progressive Rock, Electronic, Industrial, Ska, Synth-rock, Jazz, Experimental, Other (Mostly Instrumental)
Location: Worldwide


Audio Fidelity
Brandon Snell
Brandon Strader
Chuck Dietz
Cyril The Wolf
Danny Lopez
Diggi Diss
DJ Symbiotix
Dominic Ninmark (Also Designed The Artwork)
Dr. Manhattan
The Dual Dragons
Joshua Morse
Level 99
Martin Villanueva
Metal Man
The Overclocked Plaid Muffins
Sixto Sounds
Skummel Maske
Xenon Odyssey


Let me just start this off with a few words. If it wasn't for the Megaman X series, I might have never gotten into metal music. For some of you, that might come as a shock, but for me it's the truth. When I was young, I used to play the living hell out Megaman X1 then X2 and finally X3. I used to play X2 religiously and still consider it one of my favorite games of all time. (For those wondering what this is all about, click here.)

Why? That fucking soundtrack. Even though it was 16 bit synth, you could tell that those were supposed to be fucking guitar riffs. And when the games progressed into the 32 bit age, those guitars actually became pronounced. Take X5's X vs. Zero battle. That's pounding synth metal if I've ever heard it, and the remixer for this track decided to make it full on metal, succeeding immensely and making the best cover I've ever heard of this track.

X8 came along and the whole damned soundtrack was guitar laden. Damn near it, at any rate. Downloaded the soundtrack when I was younger just to hear the actual rock metal influence as played by a live band. Still own the game. You couldn't pay me to hand it over.

At any rate, the Megaman X series had been largeley neglected (even VG Metal bands like Powerglove wouldn't cover the Zero theme, no matter how many requests flooded the site and they butchered Blast Hornet's theme, leaving me disheartened.) with most bands opting to cover the classic Megaman themes in metal/rock. This is fine and dandy, but the metal influence was cast aside completely in most cases.

Fast forward to 2012's Megaman X: Maverick Rising Project. You heard me right, 4 discs of music at over 60 tracks (with 4 bonus tracks on a bonus disc) at four and a half hours of music. Now some of you might think, "well, it's not really a heavy album" but you haven't heard the metal mixes on this one. Some are not perfect, but some are. Oh fuck yes, some are. Sixto Sounds covered the final fight with Lumine in blisteringly fast metal, and some mixers don't mind just shredding the living fuck out of these tracks. Yes, I said "shredding the living fuck out of these tracks."

Best of all, it's free. Yes, there are some electronic mixes here - but you'll also hear some tasteful prog rock excursions like the track from Monobrow, a cover of Bubble Crab's theme. Some of the drums are programmed, some of the guitars are programmed, but if anything else - they're done well. But there are also plenty of live musicians here and even some vocals in areas. I must admit that the Killswitch (Engage) influence on the Gravity Beetle theme wasn't perfect, but it was interesting.

To get more information on the album and the artists, click this link:

It also includes the link for the 2.83 Gb torrent for the album, or just the MP3's at 500 Mb. The download comes with some backgrounds (hit or miss, nothing custom) the album art (which includes printable images to put directly on the CD's and these are hand drawn and rather well, I might add) a readme text file about the project and a another text file which reviews every track and includes the commentary from each artist. Yes, each artist/band talks a little about the track that they composed for the project. It's a long read, but recommended as you'll get a taste for what each artist was going for.


As far as reviews go, this is four and a half hours of music that would be damn near impossible to review in a normal manner, so I will simply say that out the sixty four tracks featurd here, I gave thirty of them a five star mark, meaning that the track was done either very well, or that it was quite unique and surprising. I gave about 10-20 of these my four star rating, but all of the others were simply a two or three in most cases. I don't think there was anything particularly terrible, but the vocals could use some work in some areas and there was an amateur attempt or two. But at any rate, some of these artists were out of their confort zone and explained as such in their commentary. Some of these artists were also guilty of using the "shredder" program which uses real guitar melodies and incorporates them in a programmable fashion. Whoever designed this thing is quite genious, as I literally cannot tell the difference at times. But nevertheless, what you are getting does in fact feature live musicians and the majority of the work here does do the X soundtrack justice, at least in my eyes; and I'm a tough bastard to please when it come to Megaman X music. The sheer fact that some of this music actually had me banging my head or humming along with the themes has to account for something. There are also some rather dancy tracks here as the series did incorporate electronics. You'll also hear the occasional voice clip. But at any rate, I'm quite impressed with the musicianship on this thing and I really have to again point out Sixto Sounds and Metal Man's contribution to the disc "10 Minutes Of Hypothermia" in which he literally covered the title, select, boss introduction, stage music, upgrade music, boss intro, boss battle, defeat (down to the exact sounds of explosion) and the weapon select while paying homage to former Dream Theater keyboardist, Jordan Rudess. This track is the musical equivalent of playing the game and took an unprecedented amount of work. Expect a few jazzy tracks and a few obscure takes here and there as well, but definitely look at these as art and you'll understand the focus. Not everything is an exact duplicate of the source, nor was it meant to be.

There are a few themes missing - Zero X3, Vile X3, Gate Stage 1 X6 (Would've loved to hear someone shred that) Vile X8 and seveal others, but what was presented here was a worthy effort, and I'd recommend it to any fan of the series or someone who wants to hear art. Note: These ARE NOT "insert techno remix" tracks. They're 100% artistic interpretations that make sense. And for that, I'm fucking grateful.

Lastly, here's a trailer so that you can see what you're in for:

And because he was cool enough to upload it, "10 Minutes Of Hypothermia."


(62 Tracks, 4 Hr 30)


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Interview With Virginian Prog Rock/Metallers, Corsair



Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal With 70's influence and Stoner/Doom Elements
Location: Virginia (USA)

Paul Sebring - guitar, vocals
Marie Landragin - guitar, vocals
Jordan Brunk - bass, vocals
Aaron Lipscombe - drums

THE INTERVIEW (Got The Whole Band This Time)

1. From Black Sabbath tribute band, Mass Sabbath to full fledged original act and now signed to Shadow Kingdom Records. Sounds like quite a journey, indeed. Tell us a little bit about it.

Marie: I had already been playing in Mass Sabbath, based out of Charlottesville, for a couple years when Paul came into the group as another lead guitar player. I was intruiged by his positive upbeat attitude, his fluid style of playing and floored by his guitar playing abilities. I had been interested in starting up a new rock band and thought Paul would be a fun musician to work with and maybe, if I was lucky, learn a thing or two from. Though I was initially shy about asking someone much more musically advanced than I, my good friend and founder of Mass Sabbath Nicholas Liivak, encouraged me to ask Paul anyway. When I did finally ask Paul about playing together, he accepted and I was thrilled.

We wrote a few basic songs together, nothing too crazy, hooked up with my friend Leigh Ann Leary on drums (I had played with her in a band ten years previous) and began rocking out in my basement. My neighbour and friend Adam Brock would practice with his band, The Nice Jenkins, often the same time when we did and every now and then we'd hear some sweet bass lines drift over the fence. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask about his bass player as we were looking for someone with more pop sensibilities who’d like to jam with us. As it turned out, Jordan Brunk was into trying out new musical avenues, was/is a killer bass player with an easy going personality and fit right in with us. We played together for about a year or so, put out the EP Alpha Centauri (meant as a demo) and then really began to get into writing more adventurous material. When Alpha Centauri came out, I sent probably 50 cd’s out for review and we ended up getting a pretty good reception and a lot positive feedback from various channels online. We were pretty stoked people out there enjoyed our music and I think that encouraged us even more to keep at it, keep writing better material and just push ourselves harder in general.

For Ghosts of Proxima Centauri we had a new drummer, Aaron Lipscombe, who was recommended to us through Lance Brenner, the engineer from our first EP. Again, we laid down the material (Corsair engineered everything except the drums, bass and rhythm guitars on GPC) for friends and fans at shows to listen to and so we could afford to go on the road every now and then. Again, I sent out my wave of cd’s to be reviewed and again Corsair was warmly and generously welcomed online and particularly in the online metal community. We made it to some Top Lists of 2011 and the requests for interviews started trickling in. We were really excited but also steadfast on keeping our cool and focusing on continuing to grow as a band, to grow musically.

By the end of 2011, we had some new material bubbling up that were becoming quickly our favourites to play. By early January 2012 I decided we were going to record a full length and just do one more recording stint at 110%, give it all we had... of course all within the constraints of our meager budget and limited tools. We did the drum tracks in three short studio sessions with Nate Bolling and then recorded everything else ourselves at home. By the end of April we had an at home cd release and again, I clogged up mailboxes all over the world with the S/T album. We received much praise for this album and by mid-September we had an email from Tim over at Shadow Kingdom Records asking if we would be interested working together. SKR seemed like a purists’ kind of label and we really liked the idea of being a part of a family that dug deep for good music from across the ages and sought out bands that had something unique that other music lovers would be into and excited to discover. By the end of September we were making a deal and Tim was gearing up to re-release the S/T.

2. How has it been working with Shadow Kingdom? I've got a great deal of respect for those guys, as they've turned me on to so many buried gems from the past.

Jordan: Shadow Kingdom has been working hard for the past few months to help spread the word and expose people to our music. The people who follow what they release are sincerely interested in new music and write earnest reviews. I appreciate what they do and how they re-release older material that slipped through the cracks as well. I’m into music from the seventies, so I think we might share similar tastes in music, which helps. Shadow Kingdom has been supportive and excited about what we’re doing, raising our spirits and ambitions to move ahead with the next thing.

Marie: It really has been super and we are very lucky and grateful. Tim is probably one of the hardest working people I know, he never stops and is always there for us when we need help with anything or have questions. SKR also has the most amazing library of music I have ever seen and a lot of it is streaming on SKR’s bandcamp which I love... I’ve discovered so many cool bands since last year!

3. The name Corsair means "to pirate, or privateer a ship." Who came up with the name and how is that reflected in the band? Speaking of piracy, what is your take on the issue of file-sharing music?

Jordan: Paul came to practice one day with the name “Corsair”, which he found in a WWII book that listed active fighter planes during the war. We all liked it well enough with its references to flying and warfare and the spirit of adventure. What sealed the deal for us was discovering that the root of its meaning drew from French pirates who sailed as mercenaries to the government and who basically ruled the seas. The combination of pirates and planes, along with the fact that Marie is French made it seem like a good fit for us.

As for online piracy, the internet giveth and the internet taketh away. We probably wouldn’t be signed to Shadow Kingdom and have the speed and accessibility to promote and reach as many people as we do right now without it. We’re happy just to have the music spread and reach as many people as possible, however possible. The other side of the coin is that we’re missing out on potential money to help us continue to make albums and support the costs of hitting the road or printing merchandise. I have hope in the community of people that find us online because, even though they first hear it for free and could continue to do so, they choose to buy and support us, both in physical copies and in digital downloads. All of these readers and writers of metal worldwide aren’t your average folk, and are happy to support us, showing some integrity. This is based on about a year’s worth of online orders from across the globe. It’s gotten to the point that the postal worker doesn’t like to see Marie or myself because we bring arduous customs forms and international shipping every time. People are going to get it for free, but how else are people going to find us and get a copy mailed to Indonesia?

4. Much of the band's music seems to be steeped in myths. You've got tracks named "Chaemera" , "Falconer", "Gryphon Wing" and other such fantasy related themes. Where do you look for lyrical inspiration in these tracks, and are there any real-world issues that might be alluded to within this fantastical context?

Marie: Paul is an arduous reader of mythology and I love anything with dragons in it. We’ve both read a lot of fantasy and mythology but Paul specifically has read all kinds of books about Greek mythology, Egyptians, conspiracy theories about the Pyramids, a lot of Ray Bradbury and Edith Hamilton. When we met, he would often recount tales from these stories he had read and bits and pieces would filter down into our music, perhaps subconsciously at times. We would jive on ideas pulled from various myths and eventually riffs seemed to create themselves once we hashed out what a song was about, who we were talking about, which creature we were focusing on etc. Often, we used the tales of down trodden soldiers or cast away monsters as vessels to describe current day difficulties one might face; social stresses or morality, what is right and wrong, being brave and standing up for what you believe in, having no fear and being true to yourself and who you are despite how alienating it may be.

5. Now let's talk about the album itself. What was the recording process like for your self-titled album? Where did you record it? How long did it take? What was the most difficult part of that process?

Jordan: We started recording a year ago last February in Nate Bolling’s basement. He’s a musician friend of ours who has amassed some quality gear, and had acoustically treated his room to give us a comfortable and familiar space to capture a good drum track. It took three separate sessions of about three hours each to get the right takes. Afterwards, we recorded the rest in a bedroom studio at our house one track at a time. For the guitars, I used a combination of a SM57 close mic off-center and a large diaphragm condenser mic about a foot away with a sound baffle to isolate the tone from the room noise. Bass was direct and the vocals done with the same large diaphragm condenser. Basically, after the drums (close mic setup with stereo overheads) we used these two mics to capture the rest.

We enjoyed the accessibility of recording at home and tried not to fall victim to idle time or distraction within the comfort. There was a sense of urgency underlying the album to get it out of our systems. It was ambitious because some of the material was arranged and written right down to the wire, just before getting the drum sound. The overdubs were done by the end of March and we released it with the final cd in hand on April 21st. Maybe part of the excitement in the takes was this self-imposed pressure to strike while the iron was hot. Maybe I wish I had more time to reflect on the mix, but in the end, it’s done and I have accepted it as it is with the good and the bad.

6. Obviously; Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and King Crimson (not particularly familiar with Thin Lizzy, sorry) make up the bread and butter of this band, but who else would you consider a major inspiration?

Paul: My initial inspiration for this band was the Metallica instrumentals (“Call of Ktulu”, “Orion”, “To Live is to Die”, even “Anesthesia”). I always wanted to make music like that. Lots of harmonies and several different “movements” within the song. Also Queen. On the modern side, I really enjoy Between the Buried and Me's first three records. They are a lot more tech than we are but they always stood out among the metalcore bands. Shai Hulud does some great things as well in the lydian mode, which is quite uncommon in hardcore.

Marie: The first inspiration was AC/DC. Then I quickly moved to Hawkwind, some (early) Pink Floyd, Yes, (early) Scorpions, Deep Purple, The Pretty Things, Wishbone Ash and anything from that weird proggy part of the late 60’s early 70’s... All those crazy long jams, delay pedal and synth wild rides, that kind of material really captivates me and I think comes out in bits here and there.

7. Let's talk tech. What kind of instruments are you guys playing? How long have you been playing them and who first inspired you to start playing these instruments?

Paul: I play a Gibson Flying “V” through either a Marshall JCM 800 or my Peavey Ultra Plus. My pedals are simple, just a tuner and an equalizer/boost.

Marie: For the most part our album sound is our regular day-to-day sound. We didn’t go out and buy any fancy instruments or pedals or even really borrow anything to use for any of the studio recordings we’ve done. Maybe that’s what a lot of people like about the S/T, it’s really straightforward with no overdone effects or exaggerated tricks. I play a 1976 Les Paul Custom and a 2004/5 Fender Telecaster Deluxe re-issue (Mexican). I play both through my main staple, a 1972 Marshall Superlead 100w with an 80’s Marshall cabinet. I also have a 1978 Marshall Club and Country 100w 4140 combo, (a couple of solos on the S/T are done with this amp). My pedals are a LPB-1 boost, MXR Carbon Copy, Boss Digital Delay/Reverb, MXR Phase 100 and a Fulltone OCD overdrive. The Les Paul I’ve had since 1998, my second electric guitar. I traded my first guitar, a early 90’s Les Paul Standard (which I scored off of a friend in high school) for the ‘78 from a guy I worked with. It has all the paper work from the day it was sold in 1976 inside the case. The Superlead I’ve also had since ‘98, also bought from a friend. The Club and Country I acquired off of Craigslist last year, in NY, a friend of mine who lives in NYC saw it, sent me the link and then offered to check it out for me. We ended up buying it. My friend traveled pretty far to pick up the amp and he carried it back on a train for me, no easy feat for a heavy Marshall combo!! The Club and Country was a little messed up and we did some work to it, replaced the tubes, some wiring, sockets etc but now it works like a champ and sounds pretty righteous. This gear I’ve accumulated and kept good care of for over fifteen years means a lot to me and I count myself very lucky to have any of it. I guess it all started when I was 15 or so. I was dating a guy (he was a real guitar shredder) who was really into vintage instruments, old Les Paul’s, Strat’s and Marshall’s in particular. We’d pour over books about gear, musicians who played them and so on. I learned a lot from him. It’s probably when I began my early affinity for older gear and developed my adoration for guitar solos.

Jordan: On the album, I play two different basses, one being a 1980’s Rickenbacker 4001 with active Alembic pickups and a mirrored pickguard (ala Phil Lynott) and the other a Quest “Black Magic” P-Bass knock-off from Japan made in the 80’s. I prefer the Quest for live shows because I love the playability of the neck and how light it is. Plus, I’m not worried if it gets knocked around. As for the amp, I play an ampeg rack mount SVT3-PRO. If I was a braver man with stronger biceps, I’d lug around a true tube-driven SVT, but, alas, this beast has served me quite well for the past five or so years. Tuner pedal is all, not in the signal chain. I plug direct in the front.

8. There are parts on this album that are absolutely incredible. The opener "Agathyrsi" is an absolute monument. How in the world do you guys piece this stuff together so seamlessly?

Jordan: It begins with riffs that we bring to the table at practice. After we all get up to speed and comfortable with it, we decide what direction it might go and try ideas until something works. We’re able to think and play on our feet and, mostly try to keep an open ear and an open mind to musical ideas that jump out during the process. On our second EP, Ghosts of Proxima Centauri, we definitely got ambitious and tried to put together ideas that at times stretched the fabric that holds the song together. This last time on the S/T, I think we were a little more comfortable and concise with the songs, using some better judgement, knowing when to leave a good thing alone and not over-complicate things. That being said, we put work into the transitions from part to part so that they move well together and build off each other.

9. Oddly, female vocals adorn the disc's final track "The Desert" which sounds like a bit of a shoegaze moment. Who is the female vocalist and what sparked the idea for this track to be part dreamy shoegaze with a female vocal approach?

Marie: I am the female vocalist! Paul had brought in the song's rumbling loping riff and the heavy blowout section to the studio as an idea and we recorded it. We needed to connect the song parts together somehow and I had some trippy ideas that I laid down on my own one night in the studio. I worked and weaved in a lot of layers with delay and reverb and lost my way a little bit. At that point it was instrumental and when the guys said they liked it we decided to work it into the song as an intro and then repeat that feeling for main riffs in the song. The lyrics came right at the end, Paul asked if I had some ideas for it and I thought I could pull something off. The song has a very lost and mournful essence. It’s dark yet also has a lightness to it. Sort of ethereal. Then it takes off. It’s one of the last songs we wrote and recorded and I think it contains a lot of interesting elements for consideration in the progression of Corsair’s writing.

10. Let's talk shows/touring. Will there be any shows or touring for this release? Music this good should be brought to as many people as possible and I'm sure that it's ten million times more powerful on the stage. What are some bands you like to share the stage with, or just meet in person?

Paul: I think it’d be really cool to open for The Sword or a band i just saw called Graveyard. They are so damn good.

Marie: Currently we’re pretty focused on writing and recording our next album that Shadow Kingdom Records will release, hopefully at the end of 2013. There may be an occasion or two we’ll get out and do some little east coast jaunts this early summer but nothing is set in stone yet. As far as bands to play with on a bill, Kadavar, Baroness, Tame Impala. I’d like to meet Dungen and Red Fang.

Jordan: As of right now, we don’t have any solid plans for touring. I’d like to reach out to further regions in the surrounding area along the mid-atlantic in the future because most of our shows have been in Charlottesville and Virginia. When we get a roadworthy machine to carry us, things might gain some traction in the live arena.

11. Let's talk hobbies. What do you guys do outside of making music? What books or films do you enjoy? Are there any computer/video games sucking up your time? Anything you're looking forward to in this age of mass media?

Paul: I love reading a lot of history and sci-fi. Right now I’m on "Children of Dune." Of course, I love the Star Wars series and movies about ancient Rome. I play Nintendo 64 with my brother sometimes. There's a lot of punching and insults between us, as brothers must do.

Marie: I am a graphic designer and do a lot of screen printing with my good friend Thomas St. Clair Dean. We spend a lot of time burning screens, printing posters, t-shirts and Corsair’s Arigato cd packs. I love to read but never seem to have enough time to do it, I recently finished Tana French’s “In the Woods” which was great; murder mystery Irish police squad stuff. Really good. I’m a fan of (cringe) “Downton Abbey” and in general anything BBC or PBS. I saw “Silver Linings Playbook” the other day, thought that was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I used to play video games but not anymore as I can’t stop playing until the game is conquered which isn’t really healthy if you can’t put it down and let it go. I am looking forward to what the future brings for mass media as far as information accessibility for everyone, whether it is film, music, visual arts, books, news etc. Information is vital to understanding and that I think will be crucial in the future: understanding cultures and other fellow humans’ stories.

Jordan: Recently, I’ve been into Raymond Chandler and other early 20th century mystery authors like Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain. The film noir movies made from these short novels are pretty amazing too. I like the attitude and the grittiness of the characters, the sexist dialogue, the “black widow” and all the other trade marks of pulp fiction.

12. I ask many of the bands that I interview this question, because I think it's a relevant one and it will always elicit some interesting answers. If you were given the ability to look five or ten, maybe even twenty years into the future; where do you see yourselves? What do you see for the human race in general? Do you think that there's hope for mankind?

Jordan: My higher levels of consciousness, involving anything outside of my current thoughts and environment are a bit underdeveloped. I have trouble planning or imagining life outside of a three month bubble, so I can only tell you that I see the band working hard to create and continue to move forward. I imagine that our music will breathe, expand and contract, much like a piece of wood, weathering to it’s most solid form, petrifying long after we’re done.

As for the human race, we survived the latest apocalyptic scare provided by the Mayans and things continue in their usual fashion. Our hope may be in the hands of the Earth, and it’s up to us to recognize our place among the many life forms here. I don’t know how or when or even if there’s a balance to be reached between ourselves and the world around us, but I am certain that life will continue even if we don’t. It’s hard to remind yourself of this throughout the hustle and noise, but in my opinion, it’s that kind of humility combined our immense potential to adapt and create that gives me hope for the future of mankind.

Marie: I dislike looking to the future, of thinking of myself in ten or twenty years because I can’t see anything there, meaning, I have no idea where, what or how... I just hope I’m not homeless and sick. I do not have much confidence in the current social structure we live in, the ambiance of today’s politics or “reform”. Corruption is rampant and nondiscriminatory. I am, for the most part, a misanthrope. I find humans are predominantly disrespectful and self centered and disregarding of the impact of their actions on others or the earth. However, I do think that there is hope for a better society in the future. Not sure how or when but I do hope that eventually people will realize what crucial steps are needed for progressive human development and stand up en masse and tear down the nasty bullshit facade so-called capitalist-democracy has so generously built for us all. It took a world war to get Britain it’s socialized health care system and a lot of poisoned kids to overhaul the meat sanitation rules in the U.S. so it can be done, just when or how I don’t know.


Corsair - Corsair (PR2013) - Corsair comes in like a breath of fresh air. They're no pummelers by a longshot, but they certainly remind me of acts like The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Iron Maiden, CKY and even Dinosaur JR in terms of progressive rock/metal atmospheres. The album sounds like it was recorded back in the 80's, but it sounds like it would've stood the test of time in the 80's as well. These guys are great. There's a serious charm to their music that makes it just a joy to listen to. It's not a very long disc, but "Chaemera 3:49", "Gryphon Wing 6:18" and the instrumental "Mach 3:46" are certainly worth checking out. The band might be a little on the softer side of things, but they showcase on each one of these songs the simple fact that they can play and play well. Fans of Thin Lizzy and King Crimson should certainly enjoy these Virginians, who've unleashed a terrific debut album.

I get pounded with death metal most of the time, so it's good to hear something a little more lighthearted and classic. The vocals are most certainly clean the whole way through, (and even female vocals are implemented on the dreamy closer "The Desert 5:52") but even though the frontman has a youthful vocal that might fit well in bands like Trivium, the atmospheres on the disc make the whole experience worthwhile. There's certainly some trippy stuff here, so you might want to listen to this while under the effect of "medicine." Also, I'd recommend listening to this one in some really good headphones, so that you're surrounded by the music and can fully absorb the atmospheres that these guys have to offer.

I think we're about to hear much more from them in the future.

Highlights: Chaemera, Gryphon Wing, Mach, Of Kings And Cowards, The Desert

(8 Tracks, 37:00)