Monday, August 4, 2014

Hard Tension - Fear and Guilt

If you're not interested in Neoclassical metal or Power Metal, you'll want to skip this review of Portugese Power Metal band Hard Tension's second EP and either browse through the archives looking for death metal, black metal or punk.  Believe me, I understand.  Well, maybe not why so many would choose  to favour straight up black metal.

The vocals of Migas Magalhães will have the no clean vocals running away as they're crisp clear and melodic.  His pipes are reminiscent of Michael Kiske of Helloween during the (Keeper of Seven Keys) period and a young Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) also comes to mind.  The guitar work of Paulos Santos is undeniably influenced by Classical music and traditional Spanish guitar players.  Due to his guitar work, there's an eerie feel to EP opener "Serenade of Fall".  "Harder Faster" shows how tight these guys are as a unit.  The drumming of Tião Costa is varied in tempo from slow to fast belying the songs title however there's no slacking around from any of the guys in Hard Tension as the riffing is quick.  It doesn't sound like anyone is playing catch up with the rhythm section.  There's a psychedelic edge added by the keyboards.  There's a poppy edge in the title track largely  due to the melodic vocals, more standard tempo and the overall crisp clear sound of the recording.  "Heading for the Light" is the heaviest song here with the Portugese boys veering towards Iron Maiden territory vocally and in song structure.   EP closer "Lords of Salem" is more straight forward melodic metal and it's easy to imagine this song going over well in a stadium.

The crisp sound of this recording is great.  Hard Tension really sound they're as well polished as your grandmother's silverware.   Fans of melodic/classical metal bands like Dark Moor will love these guys.


Hard Tension on Facebook

Friday, July 25, 2014

Songs for Snakes "The Year of The Snake"

 San Francisco melodic punk rock band, Songs For Snakes are back with a new album.  The Husker Du and Jawbreaker influences are still shine clear.  The band's knack of writing tight catchy songs certainly hasn't disappeared.

There's a Simon and Garfunkel fights 90's Epitaph pop punk and wins feel to "Small Talker".  In case you were wondering, this is actually a good thing.  "A Perfect State" has Husker Du written all over it.  A poppy indie feel washes over "A Caffiene Sugar Mean"  due to the jangly guitars coupled with the bouncy rhythms.  For my money, album closer and title song, "The Year of The Snake" is the highlight of the album.

Although as an album "The Year of The Snake" is a good listen it's difficult to shake the feeling that there are too many songs on offer here and it'd have been a much stronger album if about three songs had been cut.


Songs for Snakes on bandcamp

Songs for Snakes on Facebook

Small Takeover on Facebook

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Clouds Taste Satanic "To Sleep Beyond The Earth"

  Instrumental albums have always been tricky beasts to review.  New Yorkers Clouds Taste Satanic wear their influences and sound a lot like "Dopesmoker era Sleep. There's that same Sabbath at a turtle's pace vibe over two long songs.  That's one more than "Dopersmoker" had!   However, it's clear at times that these guys come from a post-rock background and ambience takes over as heaviness isn't always the goal. The two songs are an enjoyable listening experience.


The band are selling CD's from their bandcamp site.

Clouds Taste Satanic on bandcamp

Clouds Taste Satanic on Facebook

Small Takeover on Facebook

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Silver Screams - Creep Joint Scratch (2014)

 I usually don't quote one sheets or band bios but this one is worth it as it actually sums up the band due to being written by the band rather than a publicist.  "Silver Screams is a punk rock and roll band from Boston, MA.  Like it nihilistic?  How about three aging punkers playing the best music they know how to nobody, with no career aspirations, zero street cred and no greater point whatsoever.  It's a power trio screaming into a void before they die, because they're not dead yet.  They have jobs and families and the whole thing is very nearly a waste of time.

Whatever.  Every single one of us is going to die and Silver Screams is going to play some killer sets before it all goes down in flames."

I love that attitude.  There's a big love of early English punk here as the band's name is taken from a song by The Damned.  There's a mixture of punk and post-punk that is highly reminiscent of UK Subs "Endangered Species" album."The Evidence" will put a huge smile on fans of the UK Subs more anthemic material.   There's a nice and sleazy Stranglers bassline that opens "Climbing Mt Rumpke" which has a 999 meeting Dischord bounce-along feel to it.  If I was forced to pick the best song on this five song release "Climbing Mt Rumpke" would be my choice.

That they got The Descendents artist, Chris Shary to do their artwork is more points in Silver Screams' favour.  You can buy their CD and MP3's from their bandcamp site(linked below) but be quick if you want a CD as they're limited to 50 copies.


Silver Screams on facebook

Small Takeover on facebook

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ad Patres - Scorn Aesthetics

(Kaotoxin Records)

I first heard of Ad Patres a couple of weeks ago when I threw one of the free Terrorizer mag CD's into my player and the French band's track was one of the death metal standouts on the compilation. Patre's music is of the brutal death metal variety with rapid machine gun trigger drumming.  Vocals consisting of death grunts and guitar playingwhich moves from distorted downtuned into impressive soloing.

 Opening track "The Lock" provides some welcome respite from the brutal all out death attack when the guitars get louder in the mix.  Ad varied pace  in "Scars of Compromise" works very well for them and once again it is only towards the song's conclusion that the guitars are allowed to shine through.  The title track is the shortest track and the playing here by all parties is best described as frenzied.  Often the pace is terrifying with the drummer's blast-beats setting the pace for the guitarists while the music is grunted over.  There's also  little bit of breathing space in "Emphasize Nihility" when it slows down a few times from neck-snapping blast-beats to a more foot stomping pace but true death metallers can rest assured that this change never lasts long.   "Anti" is chaotic death with grunting over the top.

French band Ad Patres have made an enjoyable death metal album that most death metal fans will enjoy.  Unfortunately though it's unlikely that they will make their way to the top of the death metal hoards as they often sound generic but even that can be a strength since many genre fans simply can't get enough.  If the guitars had been allowed to come through a lot more "Scorn Aesthetics" would have been a much stronger album.


Ad Patres' Website

Smalltakeover on facebook

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mefisto - The Megalomania Puzzle

 It's tempting to start this review of this Vic Records retrospective release with just two words and they would be, this rules.  Mefisto are a Swedish band who popped up around the time of the Bathory and there are definitely similar influences here.  Mefisto straddle a world between black metal and thrash metal.  Some metal historians out there might even refer to them as proto-blackened thrash.  Serious metal historians should consult their history books today due to the reviewer writing a review that resembles an astrology column.   If these historians take astrology seriously then it should be noted that their lucky colour is black and their lucky number is 666.   

Time to damn the pseudo-science and get to the meat and potatoes of the music.  The vocals of Sandro Cajander are raspy grunts that fall in the cracks between death and black metal.  The dropped tuning and the guitar distortion blasts through the speakers and kicks all who stand in the way.  A classical guitar feel comes through in "Os Liberty".  The drumming isn't exactly face-melting but sometimes it is the simple approach that works best and this is the case with a lot of Mefisto's material.  There's a heavy Kill Em'All/Ride The Lightning influence on "Underground Circus".  A number of the opening riffs seem to have been pulled from "For Whom The Bell Tolls" but the riffs don't distract from the track as a whole especially since they don't last that long.

Some out there might consider this release to be dated but those  who enjoy 80's style thrashing death will have to seek this puppy out.