Marking Van Canto’s triumphant return, today we have “Dawn of the Brave”, the band’s fifth full-length release. For all the people that feel appalled by the band’s interpretation of Metal, should really get over it and start embracing the sheer talent showcases by the band’s unique approach and uber catchy songs. Featuring 13 tracks, 10 own songs and 4 covers, this release is packed with killer (vocal) solos and majestic melodic arrangements.
After opening with the intense ‘orchestral’ intro “Dawn of the Brave”, the band immediately moves into their comfort zone with the epic “Fight for your Life”. With a style akin to Power Metal, the band immediately creates very epic vocal arrangements that after a few minutes you won’t even notice they are lacking all instruments, except the drums.
American guitar virtuoso Dario Lorina delivers to us one of the best shred instrumental releases we have heard in quite a with his debut self-titled release. Feature 13 tracks of expertly crafted music, we are given a unique opportunity to hear Dario’s expert guitar skills surrounded by very well constructed and catchy melodies. Avoiding many pitfalls of guitarists, like trying to sing, this release has everything a fan of Hard Rock/Metal could wish for, plus extremely awesome guitar solos.
Making an immediate impact with the playful “Demon Rum”, we instantly hear the quality behind Dario’s music. The drums and bass guitar are very well executed by Dan Conway and Marten Andersson, allowing this release to sound 100% professional by avoiding dull programmed drums and linear bass guitar lines. With shredding being the main attractive, we found that tracks like “Pipe Dreams”, “My Heroine”, “Villains”, and “Silhouettes” offer a lot more than insane guitar work. The melodic and catchy songwriting makes them more appealing than your average one-man shows we have these days.
The hardest job here at Infernal Masquerade is giving a bad review to very well intentioned releases. Mr. Vu sadly falls in this category, since while their enthusiasm is amazing, the lack is musical skills gets the better out of “Dark Tales”. We understand this is just a demo version of the tracks, but there are some glaring issues with them. Trying to be as minimally mean as we can, we will continue to go over this album.
Opening with “Only the hard ones”, we can instantly hear the production deficiencies in this album, but since they are demo versions of songs we will let this go. The style is quite decent, reminding us of retro-80’s music at points; however, the vocals are just awful. We have heard tons of bad singing before, but sadly Mr. Vu is probably one of the worst. Components of the music are quite solid, like on “King of Vitiation”, where we have solid guitar/bass guitar lines, but the vocals and some of the arrangements are very odd.
Arriving via Malevolence Records, today we have a very diverse sampler that contains everything from Thrash Metal to Melodic Death/Black Metal and related genres. Featuring eight different bands, this release makes for a very interesting time, with very contrasting changes between bands and some excellent tracks mixed in between some sub-par ones.
Opening we have Mad At Sam, a Thrash/Crossover band that can easily go unnoticed with their track being less than two minutes long. The drastic contrast is immediately felt with Aegror and their very enjoyable Melodic Death/Black Metal that fusing influences from Carcass, Grave, and several other bands into a very cohesive and engaging sound. “Behind Walls” and “Prophecy” are taking from their 2013 EP, a release we will be trying to find as soon as we are done writing this review.
In the same vein of truly unique and completely bizarre bands like Diablo Swing Orchestra and the Leningrad Cowboys, today we have Austria’s Russkaja and their latest release “Energia!”. Featuring 12 tracks of ‘Russian Turbo Polka’ music as the band describes it, any fan of truly experimental and very unique music will be creaming their pants with this bizarre musical output. Combining Polka, Metal, Ska, Rock, Jazz, and Funk, this release is anything but standard and predictable.
Open the release wide open we have the catchy “Energia!” a track so engaging that we are sure some people will immediately start dancing. The band’s sound resembles some of the Ska we have listened to in the past, but with a higher intensity and heavier guitars. “Barada” sounds like old Russian Rock songs that we had the misfortune of listening to on the net, but the band adds the wind instruments to keep it interesting and very catchy.
After blowing us away with their self-titled debut album last year, today we have Jess and the Ancient Ones and their follow-up EP titled “Astral Sabbat”. In this release the band further refines their amazing Psychedelic Occult Rock/Metal music and presents three very engaging tracks that will satisfy any fan of the band and of the genre. With so many bands playing this genre nowadays, it is refreshing to hear this band excel at it.
The band immediately jumps into things with the highly intoxicating and playful “Astral Sabbat” song. We got immediately transported into psychedelic times with the crazy keyboards and super catchy song structure. Jess’s vocals are as amazing as ever and carry this song with a dramatic performance. Immediately following we have the band’s cover of Shocking Blue’s “Long and Lonesome Road”. While imprinting the band’s unique sound to this song, they also managed to say very true to this highly addictive song. Look it up on YouTube so you can judge for yourself.
Delivering one of the most unique and sonically crushing releases of 2011 (and we missed it then!), today we have Italy’s TalismanStone and their monumental “Lovecraftpolis” release. Comprised by 3 musicians, this outfit delivers a Sitar induced double-bass guitar aural assault that combines Pyschedelic Rock elements with Doom and Sludge into four tracks of biblical proportions. If you think this combination is weird, TalismanStone manages to pull it off graciously and crank out over 45 minutes of hypnotic music.
Opening with the Stoner/Southern Metal sounding “By The Sun of The Light Keeper”, the band establishes a very mellow and sludgy atmosphere. The bass guitars (yeah, that is right, TWO of them) replace all guitars in this track and they perfectly create that thick distortion that one would expect from a Sludge/Stoner Metal release. The female vocals courtesy of Erica Bassani are both haunting and intoxicating. However, the best part is when the trippy sitar makes its entrance to this already excellent song.
With a very aggressive dosage of Instrumental Metal, today we have France’s Abysee and their debut full-length “EN(D)GRAVE”. Claiming to avoid the ‘romantic interludes’, this band does a fine job in crafting engaging instrumental music with very aggressive riffing and a high-level of intensity. The band can easily be compared with compatriots Aluk Todolo, but with their own signature style of crafting epic songs.
Opening with “Eagle Haast”, the band immediately comes out punching with their intricate powerful riffs and heavy sense for melody. This is one of those songs that you keep waiting for the singer to come out and ruin it, but it is awesome that the band decided to just go instrumental with such an elaborate song (and release). “Ten Thousand Changes” and “Mastodon” keep the momentum going with more powerful guitars and very well-crafted drumming. “Mastodon” has a nice Southern Rock/Sludgy vibe to it that fans of these genres will surely appreciate.
Hailing from Finland, today we have a trio that delivers quite interesting music that is ridiculously hard to pin down exactly what they play, so we will just say they play Metal. “Panagea” marks the band’s latest EP that features five very different tracks that range from Sludge to Melodic Metal to Groove Metal, and almost everything else. The only consensus we can reach is that the band has that Finish Melodic Death Metal vibe to them in most of the tracks.
Opening with the funky vibe and hard rocking riffs. The harsh vocals only add to the overall confusion of the band’s identity, but they nicely enhance the experience. Switching from catchy riffs to melodic passages it kind of gives the feeling that this track is actually more of a jam-session than an actual song. On a more serious note, “Graveyard Bitch” has a more traditional structure and relies on powerful riffs to create a melodic atmosphere that is sometimes accelerated to mildly aggressive levels.
As one of the most versatile and influential bands in Metal, Neurosis returns with yet another amazing release that tests the sonic limits of Metal (and all the other influences they merge) for over 60 minutes of brilliantly crafted music. With their creativity intact, “Honor Found In Decay” marks another outstanding release by Neurosis that even after a five-year absence (since their last record that is) they sound as fresh and as current as ever.
Opening with the excellent “We All Rage in Gold”, the band delivers their characteristic Sludge-infused guitar riffs but with an interesting Post-Metal/Rock-ish guitar layers. The bass guitar is very present and nicely guiding alongside the perfectly crafted drumming. After setting the mood brilliantly, Neurosis continues with the mysterious “At The Well”. In this track we have a slower start to things that is greatly carried by the combination of vocals from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till. The riffing erupts and when combined with tribal-esque drumming we get the traditional Neurosis sonic brutality in full swing. Constantly changing tempos really make this song quite a delightful experience.