Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Witchcryer - Cry Witch

Label: Ripple Music

On paper Witch Cry sound awesome; a Texan doom metal band with both the classic heavy rock influences of the likes of Black Sabbath, Uriah Heap and Deep Purple and combine it with the slightly more modern doom influences of Trouble and Saint Vitus. The band have female vocals that are reminiscent of Janis Joplin. The band have their chops together and sound really tight.

So what's the problem? It's hard to shake off the feeling this is nothing but a nostalgia trip. The songs here just don't catch this listener's attention. Overworked and overused Sabbath riffs need catchy hooks. The catchiest song on "Cry Witch" is "Witchfinder General" although the album closer "Lapis Philosophorum" is an attention grabber where the band ditch the heaviness (unless you consider Jethro Tull heavy) and vocalist Suzy Bravo is gives her strongest performance. I'd bet these songs work well live but this album just leaves this listener flat.


Release Date: 19 January 2018

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Grimtone - Memento Mori

Label: Extreme Metal Music

Grimtone are a Swedish black metal group founded in 2016 and feature two guys from Swedish metal bands, Stonegriff, Nebulous Aura and Extermination, who you may or may not have heard of. I hadn't heard of any of them myself. Stonegriff is a doom band and one guy wanted to make black metal and Grimtone is the end product of his desire.

"Memento Mori" opens with a quiet and short instrumental piece entitled "Intro". The second track "Souls Reborn into Hate" lets the listener know what they are in for. Grimtone are undoubtedly black metal with the bumblebee guitar tone but what sets this band apart from most black metal that comes my way are the vocals. They are audible and for the most part it's easy to work out what the vocalist is singing as he's up front in the mix. Those who have entered the world of black metal for blast-beats will take pleasure from the opening of "The Blood of The Dead" although they may be thrown when Grimstone slow down.

Ignoring the vocals there's a post-metal feel to this track as the guitar sound is cleaner than a lot of black metal. Those who like the typical shrieked vocals, buzzing guitar tone and blast-beats will enjoy the album's title track. Even when shrieking, the vocals are thankfully clearer than most black metal. Those who come to black metal for speed will find what they're looking for in "Fields of Pale Limbs" even if the tune does slow down a little and near mid-tempo towards the end. For these ears, the effect of contrast of speed works.

The upfront vocals and the dynamics the band use when the tempo changes that separate Grimtone from the black metal hordes. Those who don't normally enjoy black metal may well enjoy this album as more accessible than a lot of the sub-genre.


Release Date: 8 December 2017

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Monday, December 4, 2017

The Hazytones - The Hazytones

Label: Ripple Music

There's an undeniable psychedelic haze in the music of Canadian band The Hazytones but there's also a love of traditional hard rock. Take for example, the opening track on this self-titled debut, "Light of Day", which has elements of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and AC/DC yet doesn't sound like any of these bands as a whole. The track isn't patchy, it's just that The Hazytones have the patchwork know-how of a decent musical tailor. Through the fuzz, there's a sleazy and slightly metallic beat to "Fool's Paradise" that wouldn't be out of place of all those eighties hair metal albums. The psychedelia is strong in "Marked By The Devil", there's a definite time travel trip back to the 70's although The Hazytones manage not to sound like a simple throwback to a previous era. It's difficult to listen to "Children of the Universe" and not think of the music and style of Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats although the Hazytones vocals are not close to John Lennon but somewhere between Black Sabbath period Ozzy and Alice Cooper.

There's a muscular sound to "Day of The Dead", although there is a lazy stoner rock groove. The guitar sound is reminiscent of Brant Bjork's solo work. There's a driving rock beat running through "Kill to Survive" which drives the song nicely away from turning into merely straight out heavy metal. More than a touch of Sabbath comes through in "Moon Struck" but there's also a touch of The Cult (especially in the vocals). This track features some smoking hot soloing.

While The Hazytones take influences from the past they manage to sound like a modern band by not sounding like clones of the bands that they are clearly influenced by. You can take a listen to the whole album on the Montreal band's bandcamp page posted below.


Release Date: 3 November 2017

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Hysteria - The Moth

Record label: This Charming Man

First things first, I'm old enough to remember when Def Leppard released Hysteria. Some of my heavy metal buddies went nuts over it. A year or so later I was mainly listening to The Smiths and thrash metal. Oddly this sludgy doomy German metal band who go under the handle of The Moth are signed to a record label called "This Charming Man". I don't know anything about their roster and wouldn't be surprised if they've signed bands from many different genres but there's no mistaking The Moth for anything other than a metal band.

There's a very loose metallic muddy sound to the album's title track which recalls early Celtic Frost vocally and instrumentally. There's a similar murky rawness in both the vocals and the playing. "Brachial" opens with an opening that sucks you into the pits of hell then it's clear that the band clearly don't like the likes of you and mess with you with a nearly poppy melody sung over a metallic drone. There's a hypnotic quality to the chanting in "Slow Your Pace" and the drums are hit with a precise loudness. The doom is turned up on eleven on "This Life". If My Dying Bride went for a raw sludge sound, they'd sound a lot like The Moth do on this track. There's a more than slight gothic tinge to the vocals. On "Blackness", the vocals take a turn in another direction and the vocalist sounds like a caveman chewing on a boulder. The instruments are loud and there is a punkish experimental element to this track although The Moth have their feet firmly set in the metal zone. The male/female vocals take a cue from anarchopunk bands.

"Loose" is what happens when someone gives a bulldozer a guitar and says play pop music. It's a stubbornly metallic tune. "Shattered" is reminiscent of High on Fire but The Moth are much looser in delivery. "Fail" has a lot of early Soundgarden running through it especially vocally although there is definitely a similar guitar sound. I also hear some noise rock like Killdozer attempting to break its way out of the shadowy metal into the light of day. Drone, sludge doom and noise rock fans will all derive enjoyment from The Moth's latest release but they are likely to confuse a lot of metal fans with their refusal to have a cookie cutter sound. It's certainly not easy listening.


Release Date: 10 November 2017

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Gutslit - Amputheatre

Record Label: Transcending Obscurity

There are no prizes for guessing which metal sub-genre a band called Gutslit fit into. This band from India is undeniably death metal of the brutal variety. Gutslit got our attention as a member of the band plays in the instrumental band The Minerva Conduct and we loved their recent album (which we reviewed here).

"Amputheatre" opens with the title track, which is a quiet instrumental track which barely breaks the one minute mark. This track is countered by "Brazen Bull" which features a frantic rhythm section and grunted vocals, which occasionally slow down only to proceed to bulldoze the listener at ramming speed once again. The drums are pummeled at the start of "From One Ear to The Other" and then the band take an effective breather to carry on with their barrage of grunts, riffs and drumbeats. On this track, there's a technical death metal band dying to get out as the dynamics in the guitar work change with faster paced riffs during the song and though the vocals are still grunts they become much more audible and then shift between dirty grunts and near yelling. Necktie Party is a dirty barrage of drumbeats, riffs and grunts that seem to fly and spit nails directly at the listener until mid-song, where the tempo slows and leaves a little breathing room before the sheer punishment starts again. Gutslit realize that not varying the temp can lead to boredom and slow down again before this track reaches its conclusion.

The rhythm section provides a bounciness to the opening of "Blood Eagle" and then speed and chaos take over. The drums are really fast and there are overtones of chaos in the death grunts.

There are some great metal guitar riffs on "Brodequin" that cross metal sub-genres rather than fitting strictly into the death metal categorization although Gutslit still fit firmly in that metallic pigeonhole. Gutslit lay the angry death metal on thick in "Maraschino Eyeballs"

Gutslit's shift in tempos and dynamics separate from a vast number of other bands who put themselves under the brutal death metal umbrella. As Brandon Lee's character stated in The Crow movie, "It can't rain all the time."


Release Date: 15 October 2017

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tuskar - Arianrhod

Record Label: Riff Rock Records

Tuskar are a two piece band from the Milton Keynes area of England. The band is comprised of vocalist/drummer Tyler Hodges and guitarist Tom Dimmock, who are in their early 20's and formed the band around a year ago. The young duo list their main musical influences as Conan, Sleep, Behemoth and Darkthrone. Tuskar describe their sound as nuclear sludge. The 5 track release is described as an EP.

"Arianhod" starts off with a crushingly heavy track named "Fateweaver" which has begins slow doomy riffs coupled with vocals that sound buried in a pool of sludge but the tempo changes into a speedy burst of chaos for a few moments before pounding your head into the walls of distortion. There's a slow lumbering mammoth of a beginning to "Where Strides the Collusus" and then the rhythm changes into a boucier direction. The sparse vocals sound like they're being yelled from a pit covered in ice. This man wants out!! "Toegrinder" staarts out with some crushingly heavy riffs then the sounds depart to the worlds of atmospheric post-metal and black metal. The heaviness is really laid on thick in the sludge of "Moon-Hooch" due to heavy Black Sabbath style guitar riffs coupled with slow doom styled drumbeats. The vocalist sounds somewhere between angry and about to puke, which is undeniably sludgy. There's a touch of psychedelia and punk within the metallic sludge of EP closer "Crimson Skull".

On "Arianhod", Tuskar create a wonderfully nasty noise that sounds like it comes from many more than two people. Apparently the band have another EP and an album in the pipeline for next year. It will definitely be interesting to hear more from this band.


Release Date: 20 October 2017

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Saturday, October 21, 2017


Record Label: Transcending Obscurity

These days it seems that one man black metal bands are a dime a dozen. However the one man band Affliktor is more than a notch above the usual bedroom musician that considers themselves a band as Affliktor not only add a thrash metal element but as the main man behind Affliktor is Toby Knapp, who has been hammering away on guitar since the early nineties and releasing underground metal albums both as a solo artist and as a band.

While Knapp's vocals are of the typically evil black metal goblin variant as you might expect it's the guitar playing that puts this above not only a tonne of one man black metal bands but also many other blackened thrash bands. The thrash metal on "Born to the Breeder" is strong and some mighty fine guitar leads hits the eardrums when the song slows down. "Backwards into Hell" is more black metal oriented although the drumming is more thrash metal oriented than blast-beats and there are wicked guitar leads that push their way out rather than being prominent parts of the song, which helps to strengthen the song. The intro to "Chaos Magick Totaliy"harks back to both 80's Metallica and Megadeth but then heads to much darker area of metal while still incorporating thrash style drumming and guitar solos. "Burn the Earth" convinces the listener that Affliktor really do want to set the world ablaze with the evil vocals, quickly paced drums and blistering guitar work.

It's definitely mainly the technicality of the guitar work that sets Affliktor above other blackened thrash bands out there. That the drumming isn't chock full of blast-beats and favours the more thrash metal approach is also a huge thumbs up. It's worth noting that the PR sheet hits the mark suggesting that is for fans of Slayer, Testament, Inquisition, Desaster, Arrallu, Waxen, Kreator, Sodom and Yngwie Malmsteem.


Release Date: 20 October 2017

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