March 2015 Rapid Fires

Saturday, 4th April 2015

Another month comes to a close as we begin to approach the inevitable summer festival season and fall onslaught of new material. Better to stay ahead of the game at this point and check out a few albums that may have fallen below your radar. This month we feature Corpo-Mente (picured above), Crimson Swan, Deer Blood, Dementia Senex/Sedna, Evisorax, Heavydeath, Lethal Saint, My Funeral, Scarab, Simboise, Sotajumala, Temperence, Vasomortus, Vexillum, and Watch them Fade.

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Corpo-Mente – Corpo-Mente (Blood Music)
Coming in from the far left-field is Corpo-Mente, which easily offer this month’s most eerie effort. Those looking for something “metal” will not get much out of this one, but for those looking for something that’s rather unique and beautifully creepy should step right up. With bits of trip-hop, traditional folk (see “Equus”), slight electronics, and occasional heavier guitars (see “Dulcin”), Rïcïnn’s operatic vocals give the album an even further reaching twist into the strange and melancholic. A truly engaging album that keeps you wondering what exactly is going to happen next without feeling like a hodge-podge of eclectic influences. Hard to complain about an album that can do that. – Kyle McGinn (Corpo-Mente on Facebook)

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Crimson Swan – Unlit (Quality Steel)
Who would think a lonely meeting in the forest in 2010 would forge this German doom/death quintet, as Crimson Swan unleashes an exquisite 6 song debut full-length with Unlit. Lead guitarist Simon has a peaceful clean voice for “Fade to Nothingness”, while the follow up “A Waterfall of Sorrow” underscores his death bellows from the grave. Melancholic riffs and atmospheric transitions carry this 54 minute record, in line with early Anathema, Swallow the Sun, and the mighty Black Sun Aeon. Sparse echoing refrains from a guitar and keyboard outlook further fuel the dark ambiance – Crimson Swan could be an unsung gem for this scene in 2015. – Matt Coe (Crimson Swan on Facebook)

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Deer Blood – Devolution (Dooweet Records)
French thrashers Deer Blood offer up a rather Bay Area-influenced album with Devolution. There’s quite a bit of American flair moving through the album, sometimes even moving towards some very slight hardcore influence. Tracks like “Devolution” also show some Pantera and groove metal influences that settle in nicely with the rest of Deer Blood’s sound. Full of some heavy, mid-tempo riffs the only thing that holds things back a bit are the vocals. Certainly more or less the genre standard so it’s not a big gripe, but Deer Blood would benefit in future offerings by using a slightly more gruff approach. – Kyle McGinn (Deer Blood official website)

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Dementia Senex/Sedna – Deprived (Drown Within Records)
Last year’s Heartworm EP was an impressive one for Dementia Senex, so it didn’t take much to check out this split offering between them and Sedna. Each putting in one track (though the runtime is about 15 minutes), Dementia Senex begins the split with “Blue Dusk.” A deathly approach to some post-metal, the song has a nice backbone of blasting fury while retaining some dark atmospheric vibes. It’s a great mix, and hopefully the next thing we see from Dementia Senex is a full-length. Sedna’s track, “Red Shift,” comes from the other end of the spectrum. While it still moves towards a post-metal atmosphere, it’s more of a slow burn until the last half of the song, when some more explosive moments mix in. Both bands leave you wanting after each song, which was probably a bit of the (good) intention with the split. – Kyle McGinn (Dementia Senex on Facebook) (Sedna on Facebook)

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Evisorax – Goodbye to the Feast…Welcome to the Famine (Bones Brigade Records)
7 songs, 12 minutes. Evisorax gives it their all in regards to blistering grindcore most of the time. Spastic, crazed vocals and equally frenetic and noisy riffs do what they have set out to do in the short time that is available. Despite the chaos, there’s some interesting riffs in tracks like “End User (Director’s Cut)” and “Greedy Pig” while they last. “So Many Fat People, During the Famine” is the only point to break the frenzy and displays more of a longer fuse and quite frankly, doesn’t seem to mesh with the rest of the explosive grind. And at over 5 minutes, occupies far too much of the disc. But the other 6 tracks and 6-ish minutes…phew! – Kyle McGinn (Evisorax on Facebook)

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Heavydeath – Eternal Sleepwalker (Svart Records)
Somehow, despite the simplicity of the band name, “Heavydeath” made it all the way until now to be used. The name, Heavydeath, is quite simple and to the point, much like the music of Eternal Sleepwalker. This is no-frills, get the job done doom/death, nothing more, nothing less. That doesn’t make it any less interesting though. Based on the name, the clean vocals came as a bit of a surprise but they are quite effective, making tracks like “Eat the Sun” and “Bow Down” more varied than they otherwise might be. Slow, plodding tempos are the norm here, with some rollicking melodies, but there are also some upticks in speed to ensure nothing feels like it is droning on. This is the type of album that will probably go under the radar and be viewed later as an effective piece of death/doom. – Kyle McGinn (Heavydeath official website)

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Lethal Saint – WWIII (Pure Steel Records)
Greek traditional heavy metal band Lethal Saint uncork a second album in WWIII that brings back a lot of teenage memories. Especially if early Metal Church, Hittman, and a little bit of the Bay Area scene mean the world to your collection. Radio dial sound clips accent the spider web guitar layers and marching tendencies for “Chaos Rising”, while “Thorns of Existence” has this heads down exotic motif plus lots of high screams from vocalist Andreas Pouyioukkas that put him in the Rivera/Halford class. Add in a load of guitar hero oriented leads plus a religion versus government art theme and you’ll see the quintet still believe the 80’s scene has never left their hearts. Hopefully the bullet belt, denim, and leather brigade sidestep the sub-par production and appreciate good old fashion heavy metal. – Matt Coe (Lethal Saint on Facebook)

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My Funeral – Violence Academy (Self-Released)
Deciding to go down the independent route after two decently received full-lengths on Violent Journey Records, Finnish thrash quartet My Funeral throw out another 9 songs of upbeat, relentless riffs and roaring vocals for album three Violence Academy. Considering ‘thrash’ and ‘violence’ factor into five of the titles on display, the band isn’t going for any commercial Metallica or Trivium fans here – these songs are in line with Exodus, Kreator, and others who push the gas pedal while serving up meaty mid-tempo transitions and harmonic elements. Bassist Ilkka Sepponen has a raspy Max Cavalera delivery during the faster songs, but comes off a tad weak in his clean melodies for “Unknown Abyss”. Decent if albeit a tad predictable considering this genre is entering a third generation of musicians plying their craft. – Matt Coe (My Funeral official website)

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Scarab – Serpents of the Nile (ViciSolum Productions)
Of course, when Egyptian death metal is mentioned, the first thought is that of the American band Nile. But Scarab has the home court advantage, in that they are actually from Egypt. Serpents of the Nile is their second album, after a 6 year wait following their debut release. It almost goes without say that the sound of Nile is at play here, but Scarab does fall into that trap. Frantic technical death metal with some Egyptian atmosphere, but these guys like to keep their death metal lengthy. Most songs hit somewhere between the 6-7 minute mark or beyond. Thankfully, the utilization of the traditional Egyptian tones does keep things from getting too one-dimensional (see “Visions of a Blood River” or “Funeral Pharaoh”). Truthfully, the atmosphere here trumps what Nile seems to be up to these days. – Kyle McGinn (Scarab official website)

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Simboise – Trapped (Anticorpos Records)
Grind/crusters Simboise’s sixth effort Trapped does vary a bit from the norm. For starters, considering the grind influences present, the tracks usually hit near the 3 minute mark, making them practically grind “epics.” Unfortunately, when this is combined with the usual blistering tempo the band plays at, it leads to a rather fuzzy recollection afterwards. Many tracks feel as if they are a variant off of the previous one. On the one hand, It’s a real gangbuster if you dig things like Napalm Death or Disfear, but don’t expect to get much extended time out of it. – Kyle McGinn (Simboise on Facebook)

Sotajumala – Raunioissa






Sotajumala – Raunioissa (Self-Released)
When a band flat out offers up its latest album for free, there’s no reason not to check it out right? Finland’s Sotajumala did exactly that earlier this year. Completely sung in their native tongue (a move mostly reserved for black or folk metal acts), Raunioissa is an impressive death metal beast. Plenty of melodic leads, headbanging riffs (with an occasional thrashy slant – see “Sina et Ole Yhtaan Mitaan”), thundering drums, and some brutal vocals round out the package. Check it out if you are inclined to follow bands like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, or even Testament for that matter. – Kyle McGinn (Sotajumala official website)

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Temperance – Limitless (Scarlet Records)
The blockbuster success of Amaranthe and Nightwish leads younger acts like Italy’s Temperance to develop their style in the hopes of establishing their niche in an overcrowded field. Vocalist Chiara Tricarico possesses dual operatic/clean melody abilities, while rhythm guitarist Sandro Capone and keyboardist/drummer Giulio Capone ably fill the musical landscape through Far Eastern nuances on “Amber & Fire” or playful, cyber meets video game tones for the vibrant mood shifter “Here & Now”. A wider influence bank could aid Temperance’s ascent up the ranks – for now, they remain in the minor leagues as potential and talent are evident. Limitless is their second album in two years – maybe third time will be the charm? – Matt Coe (Temperance on Facebook)

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Vasomortus – Instrument Torture of Pyramid (Brute Productions)
Are you a fan of old school Suffocation? If the sound of Vasomortus is any indication, it’s safe to say that they are rather big fans. Most of Vasomortus’ musical inclinations come strongly from the veteran NYC band, even down to a pretty similar drum sound to that of Effigy of the Forgotten. It’s more of a visceral experience than a technical one though, and the energy keeps coming as you move through the 8 tracks. As long as you are okay with the obvious Suffocation worship, it’s an enjoyable release due to it’s relentless nature. – Kyle McGinn (Vasomortus on Facebook)

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Vexillum – Unum (Limb Music)
When it comes to folk-oriented power metal, Elvenking comes to top of mind in terms of establishing their presence. Also hailing from Italy is Vexillum, who on their third album Unum gather a host of guest singers to flesh out this conceptual record: names like Hansi Kursch, Chris Bay, and Mark Boals most familiar to fans of the genre. “The Sentenced: Fire and Blood” is Blind Guardian-esque to fit Hansi’s complementary rapid bard delivery, while “The Way Back: The Clash Within” contains Irish/Scottish guitar melodies and themes that fans of Running Wild and Skyclad will treasure. An acoustic to electric cover of Slade’s “Run Runaway” closes out this 9 song effort decently – Vexillum aren’t the worst act I’ve heard blend these styles, but they are miles behind Elvenking in originality and songwriting abilities. – Matt Coe (Vexillum official website)

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Watch Them Fade – Welcome to My Void (Massacre Records)
Melodic metalcore …two terms never uttered usually side by side when describing an outfit – but seems to be appropriate for this upstart German four-piece. Active since 2011, Watch Them Fade release a debut album in Welcome to My Void that has requisite breakdowns, melodic choruses, and repetitive screaming patterns that make “The End is Nigh”, or the slow building “Cheerless” indistinguishable. Two of the four add in programming elements to give things a cyber/electronic sheen – but this isn’t anything original or different than the thousands of hordes parading these same wares. When the titles like “Isochronism” and “Mathematics with Butterflies” are the highlights, you know this could fade quickly into oblivion. – Matt Coe (Watch Them Fade on Facebook)