New Stuff We Dig

Saturday 10th November

The feeling one gets when one discovers something new is a unique experience...

After discovering Daylight Dies here I immediately got hold of their latest album and set about drowning myself in their unique brand of melancholy death/doom. Having never heard them before I was genuinely impressed and enraptured at the same time. Step two, secure their entire back-catalogue with the intent to immerse myself even further in the Daylight Dies experience. Having done this and having been thoroughly converted to Daylight Dies at the same time, the next logical step for me was to share the experience with the rest of the world.

Needless to say I love this latest effort from the band. The ability they showcase to weave delicate moments of atmospheric beauty into an overall sense of despair and sorrow is a poignant counterpoint to their exquisite musicianship. While I was desperately seeking solace for my yearning within the melodic death/doom genre, I could never find any band that could sufficiently embrace the idea that heavy, crushing riffs could succinctly portray a sense of longing and frailty. That was until the first few minutes of "Dreaming of Breathing", fourth track on the album.

I was already engrossed by the time "Infidel" was in full swing. Barre Gambling and Charlie Shackelford's amazing layered twin guitar assault is a breath of fresh air in the stale front bar air of the death/doom scene, aided by Nathan Ellis's not-too-harsh-but-harsh-enough vocals. The most amazing things about this album are the transitions from harsh to clean vocals from song to song, the bittersweet moments of guitar feedback and innocuous electronica buried in the mix.

All of this adds to an overall sense of standing on a cliff edge watching the end of the world, and somehow, the way the light is dispersed through the clouds with the stench of death and decay filling my nostrils, this is the most amazing panorama I've ever beheld.

This is true music for death , your doom is only moments away....



Tuesday 30th October

I almost gave up on this....

I had just sat down to review Bloodshot Dawn's self-titled offering from earlier in the year and within the first few minutes of "Beckoning Oblivion" I was about to write off the whole album, when I got kicked in the head from this amazingly furious riff, and I sat up and listened again, then I heard another awesome riff, then a killer solo, then I couldn't help myself. I sat down and gave this album another listen. This time a serious listen, like when you're in the record store (kids, there was a time when the ONLY time you could sample amazing music before buying it was in the record store when your buddy was working the counter and there were no other customers) and your buddy has recommended this awesome album from a band you've never heard of but he swears they are better than your current favorite band.

I had gotten to "Forlorn World" and I heard a riff that sounded suspiciously like a riff my old band has used, then that bizarre feeling evaporated once the solo kicked in, and the discordant riff-a-thon began again. Then it all made sense. The entire exercise was about making really odd-sounding riffs and blending them with awesome riffs in such a way that the listener couldn't help him/herself but sit through the weird discordant stuff, expectantly waiting for the awesome riff at the end of the phrase. The best thing about this kind of writing style is that there was always an awesome riff or a brilliant solo at the end of the weird stuff....

I spent the entire 51 minutes and 31 seconds (minus the first 2 minutes) thoroughly engrossed in Bloodshot Dawn's peculiar brand of  violent, razor sharp and focused death metal. I'm sitting on the bed banging my head and wiggling my toes, with a smile on my face and that big warm feeling in your heart when you know this album will be spending a lot of time on the ipod on the bus trip to and from work.

The band also have a new single/video which you can see here, as well as info about the charity that the proceeds of the sale of the single go towards.



Saturday 7th October

When I was younger I was never a fan of melodic death metal.

I was entirely engrossed in the death/grind sound bands like Napalm Death and Carcass were churning out by the bucket-load. I wasn't interested in anything but absolute brutality in music. That young man's need for the guitars to rip your head off your shoulders is still entrenched in my brain. As with all things, when one reaches a certain age ones needs change.

And so I found myself searching the metal scene more and more for that something special, that awesome blend of head-smashing brutality and my new, more mature musical need to hear awesome music. And so we come to the album at hand, Before The Dawn's latest masterpiece "Rise Of The Phoenix". This album is actually a few months old (released April this year) but as I've said before I have a pile of recent albums I would like to review.

So as I sit down to write this, my media player decides to shuffle rather play, which in this instance is a good thing. The first song to assault my ears is the best song of the album, the last one, "Closure". When I first heard this I couldn't stop head banging, and I had the urgent need to make a video for youtube. I am in such awe of this one song that any collective which can create such a perfect blend of death metal savagery and exquisitely beautiful melodies should be governing the universe, Dethklok style.

The rest of the album is just as beautiful and deadly. All the guys are very talented musicians and they have mastered the art of combining melody with devastatingly heavy guitars. The fast parts have a great deal of thrash elements, the slower parts have that awesome melodic crunch without being too slow. Album highlights are "Throne Of Ice", "Phoenix Rising" (which is the first single) and "Cross To Bear", although I'm not really a fan of songs starting with a hi-hat count in.... I decided to ignore the extra tracks tacked on at the end of the record, only because once I hear "Closure" again, nothing else sums up the album so well. I get the impression the boys wanted to make a longer album, but either ran out of time and/or ideas.

As these guys have been around since 1998 and have suffered the same debilitating setbacks as other awesome bands (line-up changes will kill any awesome band) I'm quietly hoping the current line-up can last long enough to at least record a follow up album to "Rise Of The Phoenix" so I (and they) can die happy.

Available through Nuclear Blast



Tuesday 2nd October

It is a very rare occasion I am really impressed.

I either suffer from a ridiculous superiority complex, or I have really high standards when it comes to music. I guess it has a lot to do with my history, a family immersed in classical music, where everyone learned an instrument. Coming from that background it's very hard to accept rubbish which is in no way musical whatsoever.

The first time I heard Swallow The Sun I was impressed with their peculiar, yet familiar, take on the death/doom sound. That album was their 2007 effort "Hope". The melodic yet brutish urgency of this work surprised me, and I became a fan instantly. I was equally awe struck with their follow up album "New Moon" of 2009, having come to the predetermined assumption that, like all bands who release really good albums, the next effort would be a waste of time.

And so, here we are in 2012, having had the last 4 to 5 months to really digest the band's most recent sojourn into the abyss we all lovingly call death/doom metal, "Emerald Forest And The Blackbird". My expectations have been surpassed on this album. Mikko and the boys have crafted a perfect blend of sombre funeral doom, blackened death/doom and atmospheric melancholy. The guitar sound is completely crushing, and the faster parts are succinct and to the point without being over the top and unnecessary. The mixture of Mikko's soft singing voice, counter balanced by his ultra low growls and ice cold screams, is approaching the unattainable, in my mind, position of the ultimate death/doom sound.

The song structure is mature and the crossovers from slow to fast are indicative of their ability to create a truly doomy atmosphere within the death metal construct. This was a highly anticipated offering, and Swallow The Sun have delivered on every account. Album highlights for me are: "This Cut Is The Deepest", "Cathedral Walls", "Hate, Lead The Way" and "Silent Towers".

Available through Spinefarm


Monday 1st October

I'm in the middle of wading through all the new stuff I want to share with the world, and right now I'm at a loss as to which album is more worthy of praise. The solution then springs to mind, I'll prattle on about the album I'm currently torturing my aged eardrums with, which turns out to be Inborn Suffering's "Regression To Nothingness".

I must firstly admit that I hadn't heard about Inborn Suffering prior to listening to this album. This French band has been around since 2002, and only managed to release 1 demo and 1 album prior to "Regression To Nothingness". I am currently wondering about the sanity of the recording industry if for all this time this band has managed to slip beneath the notice of every label on the planet!

I will freely admit to all and sundry that I'm a massive doom fan, but I can really only handle music with intelligent concepts that drive the overall design of the band. On this occasion I have been thoroughly impressed. The song structure is very linear. I really enjoy songs that have a point to get to, and a point from which they begin. Honestly, they lyrical content, to me anyway, is entirely meaningless. The only reason for listening to music is to hear music.

Inborn Suffering have managed to create a collection of material which challenges the listener with diversity, complexity and honesty. If I could compare them to anyone (which I really HATE doing, every band wants to be judged on their own merits) I would suggest that My Dying Bride and Evoken decided to form a Monumentum cover band, then decided to write their own originals. The guitar sound during many of the slow, doomy parts has a great heavy sound, something which most doom bands try to achieve and generally fall flat on their faces in the process. They have seamlessly blended the slow and fast parts, interspersed them with melancholy and uniquely creative "breakdowns" for lack of a better word, and thrown in a good portion of spoken work and atmosphere.

If you are an avid collector of intelligent, thought-provoking music, I would suggest getting your hands on this album and immersing yourself in the grandeur....

Available through Solitude Productions here.



Saturday 29th September

Hear ye, hear ye!!!

I'm totally loving the latest album from Ensiferum "Unsung Heroes". This masterpiece of viking metal is comprised of 10 anthems to the warrior spirit in us all.

Plenty of awesome righteous riffing and majestic soaring compositions. The keys are never overdone, and actually bring another dimension to the music that really wouldn't be possible if they weren't there. The vocal delivery is very mature. Offering to us interpretations in English and Finnish, the growls and screams are in the right places, and the sung vocals are just right.

I actually can't think of anything else to say about this work of triumphantly majestic metal.



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