Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Details

Recorded in January 2004 at Trax East. Engineered and mixed by Eric Rachel. Produced by Eric Rachel and Twelve Tribes. Additional engineering by Eric Kvortek. Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music.

Wikipedia

Band

  • Adam Jackson—Vocals
  • Kevin Schindel—Guitar and vocals
  • Andrew Corpus—Guitar
  • Matt Tackett—Bass
  • Shane Shook—Drums

Tracks

  1. Post replica
  2. Baboon music
  3. Translation of fixes
  4. Venus complex
  5. Backburner
  6. Chroma
  7. The train bridge
  8. Godshaped war
  9. Luma
  10. Flight of the pathogen

Review

Twelve Tribes were a metalcore band from Dayton, Ohio. The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004) was their second album, and third release after 2000’s Instruments EP.

Their sound is very much metalcore (metal fused with hardcore punk) with more than a handful of other influences thrown in for good measure, not least of all Rage Against  the Machine.

The album opens with “Post repulica” (track 1) a twisting riff that soon opens up to a metalcore shout-fest. This is the thing that I really can’t connect with easily in metalcore: the incessant shouting. But it’s not that I can’t stand shouting in music, it’s this particular style of shouting.

But the riffs are good. “Baboon music” (track 2) has a storming riff: fat and bouncing. But by track 3, “Translation of fixes”, I’m beginning to wonder if Twelve Tribes are simply recycling the same riff again and again.

Track 4, “Venus complex”. Nope: different riff. Plus some exotic scales.

The rest of the album is in a similar vein. Fairly generic metalcore riffs with the kind of screamed vocals that I just don’t connect with. “Godshaped war” (track 8) feels like the mirror reflection of “Venus complex”; Penultimate track “Luma” (track 9) is perhaps the most melodic on the album, and turns out to be my favourite.

Conclusion

With my appreciation of good ole new wave of American  heavy metal and hardcore, you would think that metalcore would be right up my street. So would I, but oddly it’s not.

Sadly, then, this album didn’t really resonate with me. Sorry guys, I tried and wanted to enjoy it more than I did.

Review score: 60%

Raise the Dead—Hymns of War (2005)

Raise the Dead—Hymns of War (2005)

Raise the Dead—Hymns of War (2005)

Details

Mixed, mastered and brutalized by Stu McKan and Jamie Graham. Recorded at Studio 6, Wooton Bassett, England. Released on Thirty Days of Night Records in 2005.

Band

  • Dean of the Dead—Vocals
  • Jamie Graham—Guitars and backing vocals
  • Khaled Lowe—Guitars and backing vocals
  • Chris Varnham—Bass
  • Chris Claydove—Drums

Tracks

  1. Prelude to war
  2. Zone of magical immunity
  3. Warcraft
  4. The curse of years
  5. Sea of dead souls
  6. Cloak of mist

Review

It feels like an age since I’ve mentioned CD packaging, so let’s start there. The front cover, as you can see from above, features a very beige-dominant mediaeval battle scene; assuming that the crusaders fought armies of skeletons. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more than a little Tolkien influence here with his armies of the dead from The Lord of the Rings.

What I really like, though is the booklet which has the feel of a stylised Book of Kells, like an illuminated manuscript from the Middle Ages. The first five pages contain song lyrics, resplendent in a thankfully-readable Old English style typeface; the last page lists thanks.

Hymns of War in a mediaeval style

Hymns of War in a mediaeval style

Of course, the booklet looks more like a ye olde gospel than a hymn book but we’ll let that one pass. It does look fab and it’s nice to see the band putting in some thought about the packaging. It’s just a shame that (and this is obviously entirely subjective) the art quality in the cover doesn’t match that of the booklet. It would have been great to have the two tie-in much more than they do.

Anyway, it’s the music we’re really interested in.

Raise the Dead were a thrash / death / metalcore band from London/Peterborough between 2004 and 2006. They released only two records in their three years: a three-track demo, Famous Last Words, in September 2004 and this six track EP in December 2005. The only common track was “Warcraft”.

The album opens with an atmospheric track (“Prelude to war”) of monastic chant interrupted from time to time by peals of thunder and a continuously ringing bell. When the chanting ends, footsteps lead to a single note, more thunder and the gentle growl of who knows what monster.

“Zone of magical immunity” (track 2) is a fast paced death metal song. The guitars have a pleasing overdriven tone, double-kick drums underpin the rhythm and Dean of the Dead’s guttural vocals sound terrifically meaty—it’s not just uncontrolled screaming. There are certainly enough dynamics within the song to hold interest. It almost has a progressive metal feel to it.

“Warcraft” (track 3) offers more of the same, the whole song built around a very death metal lead guitar riff. Towards the end the track slows right down into an almost sludge metal-style riff. Curiously track 4, “The curse of years”, follows exactly the same recipe right down to the sludge style stomp towards the close.

“Sea of dead souls” (track 5) opens with a very Annihilator-style arpeggio riff that reappears throughout the song. Thankfully this song closes differently with a very Slayer-like screaming and diving solo: fast and tight right to the end.

The closing song, “Cloak of mist” (track 6) is perhaps the most death metal song on the EP, both musically and lyrically. It’s a study in hatred. “Hate is a strong word / but I feel it for you / I should have buried you in a ditch / the day you were born”.

“Cloak of mist” is probably the strongest song on the album and I can’t help wondering if it indicates the direction that Raise the Dead would have taken had they not split nearly ten years ago. Perhaps we’ll never know.

Conclusion

All in all, this was a pretty solid debut EP from a UK extreme metal band. I really can’t help feel anything but admiration for the band and the recording. It’s by no means perfect but it is pretty darn good none-the-less. They certainly showed promise. Wherever you are now guys, I raise a glass to you—I can’t quite manage raising the dead.

Review score: 85%

BONUS: Siderian—Cancel Your Future EP (2015)

Siderian—Cancel Your Future EP (2015)

Siderian—Cancel Your Future EP (2015)

Details

Siderian are Northamptonshire-based metal band formed in March 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Neil Hudson at Initiate Audio and Media in July 2015. Released 18 September 2015.

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Band

Siderian

Siderian

  • Dave Pope—Vocals
  • Kyle Ainsworth—Guitar
  • Piotr Lukasik—Bass
  • Mike Wilson—Drums

Tracks

  1. (The) small house
  2. Reduced aisle
  3. Hell of a week
  4. Limb efficiency

Review

This EP was kindly sent to me for review back in September but as things were personally going south for me around that time this has sat in my email inbox until now. Which is a real shame because this is a pretty great EP from a new British metalcore band hailing from Northamptonshire, England.

The EP comprises four tracks recorded in July 2015 with Neil Hudson (Krysthla, ex-Gutworm) and to be honest it did take me a few listens to get into it, as I don’t really listen to much metalcore, but I’m really glad I put in the time. This is a very impressive EP.

“(The) small house” (track 1) kicks the EP off in quite an understated but none-the-less rather majestic way, taking about a minute to get going. Dave Pope sings in a typical gruff metalcore style somewhere between a growl and a scream.

“Reduced aisle” (track 2) opens with a single guitar riff, that is soon mirrored by bass as the kick drum keeps the beat. The song has a mid-pace stomp, slows right down to a ponderous guitar riff in the middle before building again to blast its way home.

“Hell of a week” (track 3) begins with a very punk-sounding chord progression hammered out on guitar. Bass and drums bounce along beneath it. This is one of the more melodic songs on the EP, probably the most catchiest.

“Limb efficiency” (track 4) has a driving groove that I imagine sounds killer live. I particularly like the dynamics of the song as it speeds up and slows down throughout, and I love the bass guitar sound which unpins the song and doesn’t get lost in the mix.

Conclusion

All in all a pretty solid debut performance from Siderian. It’s great to hear new British bands with such energy and drive and talent. More of this please…

Review score: 85%

Open The Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Open the Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Open The Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Details

Produced by Mark Daghorn, Karl Groom, and Open The Skies. Engineered by Mark Daghorn and Karl Groom. Recorded at Red House Farm and Thin Ice Studios. Mixed by Karl Groom at Thin Ice Studios. Mastered by Dave Aston at The Digital Audio Co.

Band

  • Josh McKeown—Vocals
  • Steve Lumley—Guitar and vocals
  • Kieran  Brannigan—Guitar and vocals
  • Jamie Willis—Bass
  • Chris Velissarides—Drums

Tracks

  1. Intro
  2. A silent decade
  3. Fear has no voice
  4. Keiko’s last smile
  5. He spoke of success
  6. Interlude
  7. Silhouettes on street corners
  8. Change
  9. So season two
  10. Just for you
  11. Yours faithfully
  12. We could have had it all
  13. A second from insanity
  14. Reduced and charming

Review

Open The Skies sounds to me to be very much in the post-nu-metal, post-emo “screamo” or metalcore genre. They seem to have a foot in both hardcore punk and metal. In the early 80s a similar fusion took bands in the direction of thrash, these days it seems to lead them into the realms of metalcore.

After an initial twenty seconds or so of sound effects this album blasts into life with a terrific pounding riff, a tremendous over-driven guitar tone, and a nice melody. After that sadly the album peaks a few songs in and, with a few exceptions, the album sees itself out with a collection of homogeneous, screamo-by-numbers tracks.

“A silent decade” (track 2) pretty much contains everything that could be really great about this album. It has power, it has delicacy, it has the riffs, it has dynamics, it has a fusion of clean and screamed vocals. “Fear has no voice” (track 3) follows a similar winning recipe. The highlight for me in this song is the stop/start bouncing passage where the band sings as a chorus.

The trouble with much of this album is so much of it sounds the same. For example, listen to “So season two” (track 9) and then jump to almost anywhere in “Keiko’s last smile” (track 4) and it sounds as though you are on exactly the same song. Which is, of course, a credit to the guitar tuning, the recording engineering and mixing, but it doesn’t really make for a particularly interesting album.

And it’s not just those two songs. You can quite easily jump between tracks and you begin to see the whole album as modular. It’s like a box of audio LEGO pieces that can be interchanged between sets.

“Interlude” (track 6) is a rather beautiful short song that breaks the homogeneity. But after that break it’s back to the recipe.

Another break to the advertised programme is “Yours faithfully” (track 11) which is an acoustic song that reminds me in equal parts of early Manic Street Preachers and Soul Asylum.

Curiously, the closing track “Reduced and charming” (track 14)  seems to be more in keeping with the first couple of tracks than the filler in the middle, including an all-band-singing-in-chorus section.

Conclusion

Despite its very promising opening this album suffers primarily from a lack of ideas. I think this album could have benefited greatly from being significantly shorter, compiling the best ideas into few songs and focussing on those.

As it is most of this album sounds like the same song sung with eight sets of lyrics. If I feel compelled to listen to this album again I may simply create my own EP from the six remaining songs that hold some interest for me.

I believe that this is Open The Skies’ debut album. As debuts go it is certainly promising. The musicianship and song-writing are certainly strong, in my opinion the music could just benefit from a few more ideas and variety.

Review score: 60%

Gutworm—Ruin the Memory (2004)

Gutworm—Ruin the Memory (2004)

Gutworm—Ruin the Memory (2004)

Details

Produced by Greg Chandler and Gutwork. Engineered by Greg Chandler.  Recorded at Priory Recording Studios, Birmingham. Mastered by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering Studios. Released on Anticulture Records, 2004.

Encyclopaedia Metallum

Band

  • Neil Hudson—Vocals
  • Lee Mason—Guitar
  • Noel Davis—Guitar
  • Carl Davis—Bass
  • Wayne Minney—Drums

Tracks

  1. What you are
  2. Loveless
  3. Below within
  4. Obscure devotion
  5. Saturate in sadness
  6. Sick inside
  7. Blind from truth
  8. Incineration
  9. Twisted
  10. Reborn

Review

It’s a shame that this now-defunct, UK-based death metal/metalcore band  only released two full-length albums (the second being 2007’s Disfigured Narcissus) in their 11 years together. This, their debut, certainly showed promise.

Everything from composition to production comes together nicely to create a solid, extreme metal album. The only thing that’s hard to stomach is the band’s name: Gutworm.

The vocals are gruff, but—as far as near-shouty vocals can—they blend well with the percussion. The guitars and drums complement one another nicely. With lots. Of. Stops and. Starts. Just the way I. Like it.

The band reminds me of Gorefest’s final album Rise to Ruin (2007) in places: it has the same bass-y feel and modern death metal sound. And in my book of metal, that’s a good thing. A very good thing indeed.

Conclusion

A short and sweet review, not least because I’ve got a million and one things to do this week. But this has been an easy album to listen to. File under easy listening? Perhaps not, but it’s great to hear a solid UK metal band. It’s just such a shame they split.

Review score: 80%

Goddass—My Beautiful Sin (2008)

Goddass—My Beautiful Sin (2008)

Goddass—My Beautiful Sin (2008)

Details

Track 1 produced by Al Salerno and Francesco Saglietti. Recorded and mixed by Al Salerno, T Salerno and Francesco Saglietti at Brostudios (Turin, Italy). Tracks 2, 4, 6, 9 produced by Al Salerno and mixed by Matt Hyde at Blue Rooms Studios (London, UK). Guitars, bass and vocals recorded at Brostudios (Turin, Italy) by T Salerno and Al Salerno. Drums recorded at Fusix Studio (Turin, Italy) by Andrea Fusini. Tracks 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 produced by Al Salerno and Andrea Fusini. Recorded and mixed by Andrea Fusini at Fusix Studio (Turin, Italy).

www.goddass.com

Band

  • Al Salerno—Vocals and guitars
  • Nak—Guitar
  • Vendra—Bass
  • T Salerno—Drums

Tracks

  1. Prelude
  2. Hide in pieces
  3. All I die for
  4. The draw and the rest
  5. Last day
  6. Become my heart
  7. Bleeding a scream
  8. Never and over
  9. You (hate)
  10. I’m your hell
  11. My beautiful sin

Review

What I tend to do with this project is stack up a few months worth of albums in a Trello board, and then process them week by week. I’ve found that it takes the Element of Faff™ out of the whole exercise. Here’s my Trello board for this blog as it currently stands:

List of albums to review

 

My list dried up a couple of weeks ago. So when I stocked it up again, I purposefully put this album at the top. Not because I’d listened to the album before, or that I knew anything about them, but simply because I liked the cover. It’s a tactic that has worked for me before (Lamb of God and Architects to name two). Thankfully, it’s a tactic that worked again: I really like this album. Until the new Trypticon album dropped through my letterbox I’ve played this album almost non-stop in my car.

Before I discuss the music, I did a little research. Goddass are three Italians, an English singer, and an odd name (did they want ‘Goddess’ but it was already taken? I’m curious. They also appear not to be metal enough to be featured in Encyclopaedia Metallum. I don’t care; I like ’em.

Musically their brand of melodic, heavy music reminds me of a fusion of Stone Sour, God Forbid, a male-fronted Evanescence, and a handful of nu-metal/emo/post-hardcore acts whose songs I would recognise on the radio but I couldn’t tell you who they were.

The album opens with a pretty acoustic guitar and strings track before it clicks over to the more energetic track two, ‘Hide in pieces’, like a butterfly being hit by a juggernaut. The guitars are tight, drums double-kick-tastic, the lyrics delivered in a combination of melodic rock singing with a smattering or two of growling death-metal style vocals. But it works.

The songs are varied throughout the album: it doesn’t all sound like the same song reworked again and again, which is great. I like how they’ve managed to combine melody with heaviness. This is a very listenable and fun album.

My stand out track is probably ‘Become my heart’ (track 6) because of all the fun shouty parts. It reminds me of something but for the life of me I can’t put my finger on it. If you know, leave me a comment.

Conclusion

A rushed and late review for a really fun album that I’ve had massive enjoyment from this week. This is definitely a keeper for me. Sinful as it may be, it is rather beautiful. Just like the packaging.

Review score: 90%

Video

Unearth — The Oncoming Storm (2004)

Unearth - The Oncoming Storm

Unearth – The Oncoming Storm (2004)

Details

Recorded at Zing Recording Studios, Westfield, Massachusetts. Released on Metal Blade Records on 29 June 2004.

Track listing

  1. The Great Dividers
  2. Failure
  3. This Lying World
  4. Black Hearts Now Reign
  5. Zombie Autopilot
  6. Bloodlust of the Human Condition
  7. Lie to Purify
  8. Endless
  9. Aries
  10. Predetermined Sky
  11. False Idols

Review

In the mid-80s there was thrash. Then there came grunge, followed by alternative metal and by the late 90s nu metal.  Each wave of aggressive metal seems to be followed by a softer, more melodic response

The so-called New Wave of American Heavy Metal (NWOAHM) is no different, building on the roots laid down by the likes of Pantera, Biohazard and Machine Head emerged, in part, as a reaction to nu metal — Korn, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, etc… basically the bands that ruined Kerrang! magazine!

I have in my collection my fair share of NWOAHM bands: Biohazard, Black Label Society, Damageplan, Down, God Forbid, Hatebreed, Lamb of God, Machine Head, Mastodon, Slipknot, and Superjoint Ritual. I’d not come across Unearth before until last week.

Unearth are a metalcore band: a cross between extreme metal and hardcore punk, and I’m not averse to a good helping of metalcore. God Forbid‘s last couple of albums have been outstanding, for example.

So imagine my disappointment when I first listened to this album.

The album has all the right ingredients: crunching guitars; crushing riffs; twisting, duelling guitars that sound like a cross between Trivium and Iron Maiden; blast beats and frenzied double-kick drums; and lyrics barked and spat out.

But the music, to my ears, has no soul. It doesn’t move me. It’s clinical and precise and ultimately sterile. And every song sounds like the last, and I’m not kidding either. The opening riffs in “Lie to Purify” are almost identical to the opening riffs in the next track “Endless”.It’s like the album was created using cut-and-paste in Pro Tools.

Conclusion

I’ve listened to this album a lot over the last week. A lot. In the car. On my stereo. On my PC. Last.fm tells me I’ve played 30 tracks. I’ve wanted to like this album… and don’t get me wrong, it’s all right. It’s just not great. It could have been so much more than it is. It feels like Unearth want to be another band (Shadow’s Fall, perhaps? Or God Forbid?) rather than discovering exactly who they are.

If this album comes on again while I’m listening to songs on random play then I would listen, but I doubt I’d go in search of this album specifically. For a metalcore fix I’d be more inclined to go straight to God Forbid.

Review score: 45%

Bonus

Here’s the official video for Endless.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqjkBqvDq6U]