February 2018 Rapid Fires

Thursday, 8th March 2018

Per our habit, the content continues to flow here at Dead Rhetoric, including our always-eventual short review column, Rapid Fires. As has become the theme, variety abounds, with virtually all forms of metal being represented: black, death, noise, thrash…you get the idea. Metal remains as diverse as ever, which helps in this month’s installment, which includes: Avslut, Chaos Invocation, Empiresfall, Grind-o-Matic, Hexx, Iron Reagan/Gatecreeper, Killing Gandhi, Manigance, Nyctophile, Rebel Wizard, Red Cain, Shatter Brain, Under Siege, Voidhanger, Voodoo Circle, Will Haven (pictured).

Avslut – Deceptis (Osmose)
About as in-line of a black metal band with melodic tendencies as you will find, Stockholm’s Avslut borrow many pages from their influences playbook on their first full-length, Deceptis. We’ve heard these melody runs-on-blast combos many times before, only Avslut plays it to the nth degree, sometimes stretching matters a bit thin. But, there’s no disputing the full-frontal assault of this as Avslut operates with little or no willingness to temper the pace or offer space. It’s the barrage that’s part of the journey, setting Avslut off on a diabolical path…wherever it may lead. – David E. Gehlke (Avslut Facebook)

Chaos Invocation – Reaping Season, Bloodshed Beyond (WTC Productions)
The potential-but-not-quite offspring of Dissection or even Watain for that matter (who are the offspring of Dissection), Germany’s Chaos Invocation do what any good black metal does: They use atmospheric strokes to the balance an otherwise daunting assault. On Reaping Season, Bloodshed Beyond, the Germans plunder via a caustic death/black attack with thrash elements (“The Search of Keys and Gates” being a prime example), all the while pasting their songs with that dark, cloaked atmosphere that recalls of black metal’s prime era. Many have tried to replicate it, but only a few, like Chaos Invocation, have succeeded. – David E. Gehlke (Chaos Invocation Facebook)

Empiresfall – A Piece to the Blind (Iron Shield Records)
German act Empiresfall established themselves in 2008, releasing a four song EP Place of Pain the following year and a debut album Riot in 2014, both self-funded and self-recorded releases. The second full-length A Piece to the Blind straddles the thrash/traditional metal lines – featuring crunchy rhythms, speedy melodies with a sense of power and classic energy throughout many of the riffs and hooks. “In Decay” for instance starts in a slower, serene mold, then ramps things up to speed/thrash chaos with frantic rhythms and roaring melodies a la Destruction meets a gallop-oriented Slayer/Exodus cocktail. Between guitarist Franky Chigetti’s lower register, militant vocals and the intense stop/start tempo timing tactics, this eight track record whirls by in quick fashion – as cuts like “Betrayers” and “Bloodshed and Chaos” leave the body and brain bruised and battered, but ultimately satisfied for its potent thrash tendencies. – Matt Coe (Empiresfall on Facebook)

Grind-o-Matic – Regular Singularity (Self-Released)
A French progressive grindcore outfit (hence the name), Grind-o-Matic tackle the issues related to technology and it’s fast-moving advances over the years. Lyrically, their take is quite interesting (all readily available at Bandcamp) and deserves a shoutout. But we are looking into the music after all, and Regular Singularity does indeed measure up. It’s not straight-up grind for sure, having a more outside-the-box feel to some tracks and moving into more abrasive and outre territory (don’t worry, they still impressively blast away) but some moments have an almost Pyrrhon-esque weirdness to them. A definite positive, and with the band being around since 2003, it begs the question, “Why aren’t more people talking about these guys?” – Kyle McGinn (Grind-o-Matic official website)

Hexx – Quest for Sanity & Watery Graves (Vic)
Although San Francisco thrashers Hexx are active today (their most recent full-length Wrath of the Reaper saw release last year via High Roller), it’s the early period that gets the most attention. Their output was rather steady across the ‘80s, include two full-lengths, but their Quest for Sanity and Watery Graves EPs remained out of print (and view) until Sweden’s Vic Records dug both up for a single reissue. A bit of a touchstone of the times, Hexx were certainly razor-sharp in many respects, even showing off a death metal edge that foreshadowed where metal was heading back then. The songs still hold up today. – David E. Gehlke (Hexx Facebook)

Iron Reagan/Gatecreeper – Split (Relapse)
An odd pairing for a split, but that doesn’t really stop either band from commencing some pummeling of their own respective varieties over this split release. Iron Reagan is up first, with 5 quick cuts of crossover thrash to their merit. It’s nothing that’s going to surprise most fans but it’s a good representation of what they have to offer. The Gatecreeper side is the stronger one for this scribe, with their old school death metal getting plenty of buzz at the moment. But rightly so, as this teaser shows (it’s only one introduction and two tracks after all) how massive they can take their sound to. Both tracks provide the right amount of old school throwback and unadulterated energy. – Kyle McGinn (Iron Reagan on Facebook) (Gatecreeper on Facebook)

Killing Gandhi – Aspirations of Failure (Massacre Records)
Forming in 2013 and containing various members with experience in Illdisposed, Manticora, and Wuthering Heights, Killing Gandhi resonate with much of the classic melodic death tenets on their second album Aspirations of Failure. Thick walls of guitars coupled with fierce mid-level transitions and occasional spurts of modern keyboard accents make “Dark Hours”, “Hollow Paintings”, plus the slower churning “Farewell” delightful to followers of Soilwork, Clayman-era In Flames, and a bit of Amon Amarth/Arch Enemy. The real life/fiction conceptual theme twists regarding two men facing a will to succeed versus failure match up to the heavier proceedings, which never forsake catchy melodies on the musical end coupled with Thorbjørn ‘Thunderboy’ Jensen’s venomous roars vocally. Windmill enthusiasm and neck-wrecking activities make this a two-horns up, tidy delight. – Matt Coe (Killing Gandhi on Facebook)

Manigance – Machine Nation (Mighty Music)
Active since the mid-1990’s, Manigance continue their French-sung power/progressive metal escapades on their sixth album Machine Nation. The sextet feature tantalizing tempo tricks and transitions, speedy double bass, and dazzling synchronization from the keyboard/guitar perspective – a European meets North American approach that fuses Stratovarius-like power with Symphony X/Dream Theater-oriented displays. Narrative/contextual elements weave in and out of the twelve tracks, of which “Face Contre Terre” and the straight forward, mid-tempo anthem-oriented “La Donne Doit Changer” enthusiastically ring out as highlight material. Niche appeal is evident, probably due to their native tongue lyrics – but this stacks up well with the bigger bands of the power/progressive field. Machine Nation aligns well for those who love that late 90’s/early 2000’s era of the movement. – Matt Coe (Manigance on Facebook)

Nyctophile – We Are the Darkness (Self-Released)
The first offering from Californian melodic death metal act Nyctophile isn’t as cut and dry as one might expect. A strong melodeath undercurrent is definitely in the forefront of their sound, and the frantic energy that accompanies them will bring listeners back to the glory days of said sound. But there’s some more straight-up death metal influences that further push the aggression levels up, something that clean vocals and synths don’t even take away from. Instead it all works it’s way into being something stronger and more diverse. From towering moments of gothic-tinged synths to full-out death and black inspiration, there’s a bit of something for every walk of extremity. – Kyle McGinn (Nyctophile official website)

Rebel Wizard – Great Addictions to Blindingly Dark, Worldly Life A (Prosthetic)
Quickly becoming, of sorts, the Australian version of Midnight, Rebel Wizard appears to be quite able at popping out a release (or two) a year, starting off 2018 with the four-song Great Addictions to Blindingly Dark, Worldly Life. Apart from the guitar cackle and processed drum sound buzz, main (and sole) dude NKSW seems to build the whole EP up to the domineering, multi-thronged title track, which, arguably, is one of the man’s most nihilistic works to date. – David E. Gehlke (Rebel Wizard Bandcamp)

Red Cain – “Snakebouquet” single (Self-Released)
As a preview to their forthcoming Kindred full-length hitting the streets this year, “Snakebouquet” continues the versatile progressive, melodic metal efforts of Canadian force Red Cain. Between the emotional and alternative/gothic voice inflections from Evgeniy Zayarny and the catchy guitar interaction from Brendan Doll and Noah Bockmuehl, this six-minute cut traverses everything from Evergrey and Kamelot to Symphony X, Tesseract, and even a mainstream aspect like Alter Bridge. The distant narrative nuances draw anticipation for the heads down, crunchy riffs and strong rhythm section support – the advances keeping Red Cain in the lead for future superstardom in a progressive metal world that needs more fresh blood and expansive approaches. – Matt Coe (Red Cain on Facebook)

Shatter Brain – The Shatter Brain demo (Self-Released)
Angry and gritty are the best ways to describe the demo offering from Shatter Brain. The Australian bunch aren’t afraid to bring all the heaviness that they can muster, and the sludge/hardcore/death metal amalgamation takes only the more searing bits of each to enter into the mix. It’s completely brutal, no matter what tempo they are zipping through, and while the aggression may dull the senses, there’s no lack for trying to pack as much into the four tracks as possible. Considering the band is only at the demo stage, there’s time to add some dynamics as they move forward to bring it all together. – Kyle McGinn (Shatter Brain on Facebook)

Under Siege – Under Siege (Self-Released)
Folky melodic death metal isn’t exactly the biggest bringer of innovation in recent years, but the right album can still deliver plenty of epic vibes. Under Siege seem thoroughly prepped in the usual influences (Amon Amarth, Ensiferum) as you progress through their self-titled release. In fact, that’s the biggest detriment. Under Siege is so by the book that it fails to do much other than to remind how much stronger the ‘big names’ have done this style already. It’s performed adequately for sure, but Under Siege are going to need to add a few tricks to their sleeves if they want to stand out in this field. – Kyle McGinn (Under Siege on Facebook)

Voidhanger – Dark Days of the Soul (Agonia)
Polish power trio Voidhanger operate with the finesse of the proverbial bull in the china shop, but…that’s the whole point. On Dark Days of the Soul (their third full-length and first in five years), the Poles throw down a pretty hefty d-beat gauntlet; you know, it’s totally unfurled, barreling down the pike like…a bull (or tank) rampaging through a town. There’s a pretty obvious Swedish angle to the whole thing, which is the defining element across “Death Wish,” “High on Hate” and “Man of Dark Secrets.” – David E. Gehlke (Voidhanger Facebook)

Voodoo Circle – Raised on Rock (AFM Records)
Featuring Primal Fear members Alex Beyrodt and Mat Sinner among others, Voodoo Circle continues to churn out high quality melodic hard rock of a bluesy sheen for Raised on Rock. You’d be hard pressed to not think tracks like “Ultimate Sin”, “Running Away from Love”, and the ballad “Where Is the World We Love” aren’t the direct descendants of Whitesnake circa the self-titled 1987 album. Alex’s spirited play even brings about The Scorpions “The Zoo” with talk box action for “Higher Love”. Latest acquisition Herbie Langhans (Avantasia, Sinbreed) has gritter textures than Coverdale-like crooner David Readman, but capably navigates through these 11 songs as a true professional. If Rainbow, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, and axe players like John Sykes and Gary Moore matter to your ears, Raised on Rock will find comfort in your collection. – Matt Coe (Voodoo Circle official website)

Will Haven – Muerte (Minus Head)
Lauded, deservedly so, for their abrasive alt-noise, alt-metal sound, Sacramento’s Will Haven have toyed with the idea of calling it a day after Muerte. Not to go the easy route and say “the band is going out with a bang,” but Muerte (that’s Spanish for “death”) has the necessary bite and never-ending froth that practically belies the fact Will Haven have been doing this since 1995. In turn, Muerte coalesces into 11 songs of harsh, near-apocalyptic sounds, suggesting there’s plenty left in the ‘ol Will Haven tank. – David E. Gehlke (Will Haven Facebook)