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December 17, 2009

StonerRock.com review – Orcustus – S/T

Filed under: Music,Review — gazzabazza @ 5:21 PM
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Orcustus – Orcustus
Review by Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com)
Southern Lord Records
Release date: 2009

Link to review on Stonerrock.com

Orcustus are a slightly obscure entity made up of more or less reputable musicians in the black metal world. Luckily they don’t delve into the world of theatrical black metal rich with keyboards as so many of their peers these days do – this album is all the better for containing nothing more than the basics. There is more atmosphere here than on any work done by the likes of Dimmu Borgir.

Don’t mistake it for sounding primitive, though, as the production and packaging here is top notch, from the disturbing cover art and the accompanying booklet to the atmosphere of the bone sharp, melodic riffs.

The vocalist has the near perfect voice for this kind of music and more black metal front men ought to have voices this acidic and raspy. Orcustus go for depth on this album rather than full on speed and mayhem. Their approach has more vigour as they opt to vary by also having a lot of rhythmic delivery rather than playing blast beats for seven songs. At times the rhythm can almost be said to have a punky edge to it.

The fast songs are there though; “Coil” and “Death and Dissolution” have the pace, but the album as a whole provides a lot of contrast which is good since the songs are rather long.

These guys may not be as popular as some in the vast pool of black metal but should they pick up on the activity then they should be, as this self titled disc outdoes many in the genre.

November 26, 2009

I Klatus – Surveillance and Worship

Filed under: Music,Review — gazzabazza @ 5:25 PM
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I Klatus – Surveillance and Worship
Review by Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com) – Click on site name for direct link to review
Label: Horse Drawn
Release Date: 2009

The two bands that keep coming to mind while listening to Surveillance and Worship are Neurosis and Isis. It’s inevitable when the music is atmospheric, noisy and experimental metal. Some might say that due to their similarities only one of them will suffice to mention, but there are reasons to disagree with that.

I Klatus sound like certain parts of both; the unnerving, slow doom of Neurosis is brought to mind and even the vocals during these pieces are similar, whereas the mellow and melancholy influences resemble Isis’s free-flowing suggestiveness (from their three last albums in particular).
The sound of desperation is at the forefront of the opening track “The Rift.” The first minutes are based on a glum intro of guitar strumming but with a creeping sense of unease, followed by black metal-like screams and then the eruption of the massive wall of riffs kicks in. This nine minute long opener is interspersed with little details that cement that unsettling feeling of the beginning. A small instrumental breather follows before “Flaw,” a song that bears the kind of nihilism that Eyehategod championed in the bad old days.

The record is not entirely full of noise though; “Flawless Covalency” is in parts a wonderfully sombre slow burner with better singing that can be expected from an album of this kind. Perhaps I klatus should have delved even deeper into these parts and let them flourish because at times the clanging and experimental noise tends to ruin their better, tender moments.Still, the good parts are in a definite majority.

Sadly, the band seems to have been struck by tragedy with the death of bass player Tariq Ali, so where this leaves them is unknown. Support them at least by giving this disc a listen. URL: http://www.myspace.com/iklatus

October 19, 2009

Necrophobic – Satanic Blasphemies

Posted on Friday October 16th, 2009 – Scenepointblank.com – Link to review

Necrophobic are one of the classics of the legendary old school Swedish death metal scene, along with underground titans such as Entombed, Dismember, and Carnage. They remained slightly less known then the aforementioned compatriots but nonetheless command great respect in underground circles and bring a lot of history with them. If you are at all familiar with and love old Swedish death metal then you will instantly know where the gratification will come from here.

Satanic Blasphemies has nine songs brimming with evil vibes and the trademark buzz saw guitar riffs that are so prevalent in the genre. Think Entombed circa Clandestine or Carnage’s Dark Recollections for further reference. The songs are never too fast here but rather fluctuate in tempo and always remain savagely raw.

This collection is comprised of re-mastered material from the band’s infant years. It contains songs from their first two demos: 1990’s Slow Asphyxiation and 1991’s Unholy Prophecies along with The Call 7” EP from 1992 and a deluxe twelve-page booklet.

It’s enough old material to have fans salivating, and listening to it you are struck with how the band seemed to find their voice so early on. One of the reasons these guys get so much respect is, apart from the great music, the fact that they have never changed their sound. It has always been based on death metal with a heavy touch of black metal, which is where they also slightly differ from the above mentioned colleagues. They may have found their feet fully later in their career and sound a tad unpolished here but still recognizable.

This is most evident in the melodic, heavily frostbitten guitar melodies in the title-track but they’re also interspersed throughout the album. It is cold sounding as only music made in Scandinavia can be. Bands like Necrophobic never excelled technically but with small means they have always managed to outdo most modern metal bands that think it’s important to sound as technically adept as possible.

A song like “Sacrificial Rites” with its swarm-like riffs, shifting tempo and sick growls will always sound more savage. The guitar playing gets even grimier and scuzzier in “Unholy Prophecies” but still maintains the underlying melodic quality. The guitar harmonies are one of the band’s best features and contrast well to their otherwise feral attack. Get involved.

September 21, 2009

Four New Reviews Published

New reviews have been published- two each on StonerRock.com and Scenepointblank.

Click on the links below to read.

Behold! The Monolith – Behold! The Monolith EP

Melon – Never Eat on an Empty Stomach

Lanterns – Apocalypse Youth EP

Black Market Fetus/In Defence – Split 7″

August 17, 2009

Music Review: Supercontinent – Vaalbara

Filed under: Music,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 4:46 PM
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Supercontinent – Vaalbara
Review By Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com)
Saw Her Ghost Records
Release Date: 2008
Published: August 15, 2009

Link to review

Considering the meaning of the term supercontinent it can be said that these guys from Ann Arbor, Michigan have quite a fitting name. The sludge/doom on Vaalbara is practically overloaded with dense, overwhelming riffs and the album is largely instrumental so those that favour riffing over singing should love this. As befits the genre this album is very low on tempo, sounding instead as if most songs were played in a muggy swamp.

Naturally, due to the nature of this genre and the fact that Supercontinent also have quieter moments they will draw comparisons to more esteemed bands like Isis. This is inevitable but they actually have a tad more in common with Cult of Luna, particularly with their 2003 album The Beyond and during those very few moments when there are vocals present this comparison becomes clearer.

What Supercontinent do well here is manage to keep an album with over 60 minutes in length interesting which is not an easy thing to do, especially within sludge. They do it by calming things down halfway through with the mellow “Rain Gives Rise,” which is five minutes of beautiful melancholy as good as anything by the post rock bands. Another highlight is the mighty “Monolith,” a ten minute piece that goes full circle from churning heaviness, through introspective calm and back to suggestive riffing.

Sadly, this band is now defunct but don’t let that stop you from tracking Vaalbara down.

August 5, 2009

Music Review: Pike – Beneath Death Valley demo

Filed under: Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 10:24 AM
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Really good demo from a Swedish doom/stoner band- Could go the same way as fellow countrymen Kongh

Published on StonerRock.com – Link to review

August 1, 2009

For those unfamiliar with Pike – which currently must be quite a few – they are a Swedish trio playing groove-heavy doom metal who here offer up a promising demo consisting of two songs and an acoustic interlude. Not much material to dissect but this is easily overlooked since they’re still in the beginning of their recording career and since, in true doom fashion the two songs tick in at a length of over 15 minutes.

Beneath Death Valley draws a considerable influence from both classics like Sabbath and Motorhead, but even more so from contemporaries like High on Fire and particularly from the more grimy and rumbling jams on The Art of Self Defense, something evident on opener “Snowstalker.” Where Pike differ slightly is with the mix of psychedelic influences which function well as armament against a lack of variety.

It would be good to hear a recording with at least four longer songs on it next time, in order to make a more fair judgement of whether they can sustain the skill from Beneath Death Valley and spread it out over a longer period. It will especially be intriguing to find out if they can write another ten minute song with equal parts fast and doomy as good as “Manonian.” Until then Beneath Death Valley will do just fine.

http://www.myspace.com/pikesweden

Music Review: Carlton Melton – Live in Point Arena 7/8/08

Filed under: Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 10:18 AM
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Published on StonerRock.com

August 1, 2009 – Link to review

Carlton Melton is a band made to be a cult favorite among those that love improvisational and instrumental music. They sound too trippy and weird to ever be big, but they do know how to make something engaging out of what sounds like nothing more than impromptu jamming. The deal here is slow, long pieces of space rock with a hint of drone added in – the first two songs, “Happy Song” and “Against the Wall,” have a constant rattling buzz throughout – that are pleasantly soothing and atmospheric.

There are similarities with latter-day Earth but where theirs is a dry, dusty character, Carlton Melton literally rise above and offer up spacey and ethereal soundscapes. Live in Point Arena has the atmosphere of a record just born out of a will to improvise rather than plan any song structures. It sounds like the band just plugged in and went wherever inspiration took them at that moment in time. The fact that all song titles here are working titles further cements the view of a loose environment. “Root Ball” consists of not much else except for a long, slow guitar solo, whereas the back bone of “Inter Mission” is based on the strum of a broken up old acoustic guitar and another drawn out solo, albeit with more of a blues feel to it this time.

For those that appreciate music that breathes and takes its time, that is made for concentrated listening Carlton Melton are a new acquaintance to embrace. They may remain unknown but will be liked by those that still love rock with an experimental edge.

http://www.myspace.com/carltonmelton

July 29, 2009

Music Review: Propagandhi – Supporting Caste

Filed under: Politics,punk — gazzabazza @ 10:32 AM
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Published on Blogcritics on May 27, 2009

Quite possibly the most political and politically active band is back with another long player and this time after parting company with Fat Wreck Chords in order to release it on their own label, The G7 Welcoming Committee. Given their well known ethos it makes perfect sense that a punk band steeped in grassroots politics should release its music independently.

This time there is also more bite to Propagandhi’s music as well;  where they previously delivered melodic and poppy punk they now play with more fire. The melody is still there but Supporting Caste exudes more energy and hits home with speed-core elements.

The first song “Night Letters” exemplifies this by being nigh on thrash-like half the playing time. This doesn’t come as a surprise when their inspirations are known — a perusal of Propagandhi’s website gives out the information that Supporting Caste is “a 50,000 watt no-holds-barred, forward-thinking tip-of-the-hat to the giants — Voivod, Rush, NoMeansNo, SNFU, Sacrifice, Razor, Guilt Parade — that have gone before them.”

None of this would matter very much if the album wasn’t any good, but it is. It has the fast pace of a good punk album with some great and thought provoking, and sometimes very funny, lyrics.

The humour is vivid on “Dear Coach’s Corner,” a ridicule of overly patriotic hockey pundits in their homeland and “Human(e) Meat,” where the stance towards meat eating is put forward clearly with the aid of their trademark melodic punk.

This aside, it is a bleak message exhibited on Supporting Caste — one of struggle and injustice, but the flicker of hope in the midst is always there. All of this is delivered with the band’s finest material in a long time, a quality that can stand alongside classics like Potemkin City Limits and Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes.

The nods toward thrash classic of old, alongside some old school hardcore blasters — “This Is Your Life” and “Incalcuable Effects” lean less towards melody and far more towards ferocious speed and aggression — should convince everybody of Propagandhi’s continued relevance.

The political agitating may be overbearing to some but this rebellion is part and parcel of these Canadians and is what all punk should be about.

Link to the review on Blogcritics

Music Review: Aimee Allen – A Little Happiness

Filed under: Music,Writing — gazzabazza @ 10:29 AM
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Published on Blogcritics.org July 16, 2009

Link

Aimee Allen is described as an “explosive, outspoken voice” on her website, and that is probably right when considering her earlier work.

But now it’s hard to imagine that when this album, at least music-wise, exudes gentleness and serenity. It’s a collection of mostly acoustic tracks that sound tailor made for contemplation in the sunshine or sitting by a campfire. Without delving more into comparisons, these are the images brought up while listening to A Little Happiness — the mellow tones of the music inspire it. It’s only in the reflective lyrics that less happy themes come up like heartbreak and organized religion.

Allen has a great voice, part soothing and part sass, and the slow reggae-like tones definitely benefit. This album actually brings to mind the much missed ska punks Sublime. One of their finest songs, “Santeria” even gets the cover treatment here, with this version coming close to the sun-drenched perfection of the original.

The funky piano in “Crazy” is a nice touch, which along with the sing-along chorus provides the song with an even more upbeat feel. “Calling The Maker” has much of the same influence, but with a much more thumping drum beat and backing vocals that bring to mind gospel singing, a touch that makes it more memorable

Not all songs on A Little Happiness have that bouncy, happy sound though. A few, like “Silence is Violence” deal with the same musical template, but differ in the melancholy sound they carry. The same can be said about “La La Land,” a song about bad relationships and infidelity. Some of that edge that Aimee Allen is usually known for definitely comes across in the more sombre moments of this record. But A Little Happiness carries a more positive message in the end. Read the lyrics and this will come across.

This is a great summer album, perfect in every way for this season, but which will also sound good when listened to at any other time of the year.

July 9, 2009

Music review: Bulldozer – The hammers

Filed under: Music,punk,Review — gazzabazza @ 9:15 AM
Tags: ,

Published on Scenepointblank.com

Sadly this is not a album by recently reformed Italian thrashers Bulldozer but a disc made by a New York band playing bog-standard punk rock with melodic and shouty sing-along choruses.

It’s hard to get wet and excited over another punk band that has flashes of rock’n roll and sounds like they came straight from the practice room – especially since most have probably heard, by estimation, around eight poorly produced albums of the same sound with tin-pot drumming this month alone. Last time was probably when your kid brother’s band played in front of twelve people in some dive bar.

The problem is not that the music on The Hammers is thoroughly bad but that it’s just bland and doesn’t inspire any reaction. Bulldozer is the quintessential bar band – there to play songs like “The Cocksmen/ Gravedigger” to whoever wants to hear jokey rock’ n roll in the vein of Guttermouth on a Tuesday evening and doesn’t mind the utter lack of variety. The guys are probably aware of and content with the situation.

Throw in some thoroughly meat-headed lyrics – apart from “Guido Beach” which did raise a smile – and you have a recording likely to be forgotten within the hour of turning it of.

Link to review

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