November 2013 Rapid Fires

Saturday, 30th November 2013

This month’s installment of Rapid Fires includes the links of 77, Asomvel, Chronos Zero, Coven 13, From Oceans to Autumn, Gnaw, Insomnium, Nocturnal Graves, Prospekt, Tribune, and Wan. Ten reviews, all short. Some thinking – albeit minimal – required. Have at it:

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77 – Maximum Rock and Roll (Listenable)
Undisputed in the role as the ultimate AC/DC knock-off band, Spain’s 77 enlisted the help of a pair of Swedish death metal vanguards (Fred Estby, ex-Dismember and Nicke Andersson, ex-Entombed) for the production of their new effort, Maximum Rock and Roll. Like its High Decibels predecessor, there’s no lack of Bon Scott-styled, shirtless, hip-shaking rock numbers thrown about. Whether it’s the boozed up, bad-boy boogie of “Down and Dirty” or the schoolboy shakedown of “Stay Way Away from Water,” 77 demonstrates that you don’t need an iota of originality in this day and age. You just need to crank out that high voltage rock and roll, right? – David E. Gehlke (77 official site)

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Asomvel – Knuckle Duster (Bad Omen/Prosthetic)
Only the second album in 20 years from this U.K. rock brigade, Knuckle Duster is the first foray without singer Jay Jay Winter, who was tragically killed in 2010. In his place is a fella by the name of Conan, who apparently, has the same bar-gusto as his predecessor. Asomvel’s style is of the pool-stick jousting, beer-soaked variety, so you’ll get songs with plenty of swagger about fighting, drinking while fighting, fighting while drinking, and the like. Cuts like “Dead Set on Living,” “Waster” and “Wrecking Ball” (no, not the Miley Cyrus song) come across as an invitation to head down the local watering hole, get souped-up, and let the good times roll. Breathalyzer optional. – David E. Gehlke (Asomvel official site)

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Chronos Zero – A Prelude into Emptiness… (Bakerteam)
Somehow, “modern” and “progressive” have come to mean matters Meshuggah-based. And yeah, the Swedes can certainly be deemed as such given the advancements they made throughout the 90’s, but calling them progressive now? Eh…For Italy’s Chronos Zero, it’s almost the same situation. They’re one of the amalgamation bands, so there’s a back-and-forth between the staccato chug of Meshuggah as well as the well-nourished symphonic metal leanings of Symphony X and fellow countrymen Adagio. All this makes A Prelude into Emptiness...a varied, but slightly out of sorts debut. Going from the brash “Spires” to the soft, atmospheric two-part “Lost Hope, New Hope” speaks more toward sonic waffling than it does consistency. – David E. Gehlke (Chronos Zero official site)

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Coven 13 – Destiny of the Gods (Shadow Kingdom)
Originally active from 1985-1991, this Detroit quintet reunites 20 years later and unleashes their second album of heavy metal with doom overtures. Vocalist David Landrum has an oddball epic warble to his phrasing, making “Thor’s Twins” and the pulsating double bass driven “Frost Giants” intriguing with this doom meets David Bowie range. Other retro-heads will love the organ strains matching up beautifully with the low doom riff dance within “Witches Kiss.” Defining their sound as Nordic Goth/ doom mtal, Coven 13 does differ from the stoner vibe and does bring out a communal aspect that can get a buzz going in the underground. – Matt Coe (Coven 13 official site)

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From Oceans to Autumn – Perfect Dawn (Argonauta)
All sorts of confusion with the name…”Autumn”-this, “Oceans”-that, so one should pardon the generic nature of the From Oceans to Autumn moniker. Bands should just steal song titles when conjuring up a name – it makes life so much easier. Anyway, this Charlotte, NC based outfit take their name from the part of town where you can travel from oceans to mountains in a short period of time, so there’s your answer. Stylistically, the band heads down the post-metal path, with plenty of ethereal and gentle bits, as in, build-ups, quiet parts, and melodies with depth. And since it’s all instrumental, Perfect Dawn is like the more swirled-out version of Pelican; maybe more metal, too. Good stuff…just don’t let the name side-swipe you. – David E. Gehlke (From Oceans to Autumn on Bandcamp)

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Gnaw – Horrible Chamber (Seventh Rule)
Great quote from the Gnaw guys: “We have been working extremely hard creating an extremely unique record that will make people feel ecstatic about feeling bad.” Horrible Chamber doesn’t necessarily make one feel bad per se, but it achieves the feat of being a claustrophobic and distraught listen, rife with industrial peddles, dissonance, and distortion amok. The experimental nature of the album is probably best aligned with those who enjoy noise-saddled music that is not industrial…whatever that is. Regardless, Horrible Chamber is a coarse, sandpaper-y listen, and obviously, not for the melodically-inclined. – David E. Gehlke (Gnaw on Facebook)

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Insomnium – Ephemeral EP (Century Media)
A bit too short to devote a full review to, Insomnium’s Ephemeral EP is the precursor to the band’s 2014 full-length, which should see the light of day in the spring. Comprised of the lead, self-titled track, and three instrumentals, the instrumentals (“The Emergence,” “The Swarm,” “The Descent”) also serve as the backdrop to the band’s studio documentary for 2011’s One for Sorrow. “Ephemeral” is the highlight, obviously, one of the band’s sterling, heightened melodic death metal jaunts that lets a buzzing lead melody blaze the trail, then works in an anthemic chorus, something the band has improved upon over the years. About as ideal of a set-up to a new full-length. Let’s get moving, gang. – David E. Gehlke (Insomnium on Facebook)

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Nocturnal Graves – From the Bloodlines of Cain (Hell’s Headbangers)
Like most releases coming from Hell’s Headbangers, there’s not a trace of polish to be found on From the Bloodlines of Cain, the second album from Australian black/death/thrash mashers Nocturnal Graves. Per the usual, it’s time to shack up with Venom, maybe even some Aura Noir, or German thrash to get the engines running. The regular scat and trample of “The Conqueror’s Flame” unfurls a blistering lead riff, while the broadsided pummel of “The Great Adversary” has some charm, albeit that of a familiar variety. This is cult. Most definitely. – David E. Gehlke (Nocturnal Graves on Facebook)

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Prospekt – The Colourless Sunrise (Sensory)
Oxford, England’s Prospekt display a dazzling blend of melodic vocals over a semi-technical brand of progressive metal on their debut full-length album The Colourless Sunrise. Expect a torrent of neo-classical oriented guitar runs, equally adept bass maneuvers and complex rhythm/ time signature transitions, while vocalist Richard Marshall smoothly delivers the lyrics with a multi-level rock and metal range. “Dissident Priests” and the 13-minute-plus title track should delight fans of Symphony X, Planet X, and Dream Theater equally. Great to hear non-American bands take on this complex form of progressive metal with substance beyond self-serving flash and dash. – Matt Coe (Prospekt on Facebook)

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Tribune – Tales (Corpse Corrosion Music)
Shacked up with conceptual bits amidst the maelstrom of technical, progressive death metal, Vancouver’s Tribune figure to make some sort of impression with their sophomore Tales album. Although they’re lacking in the visual and/or name department, the upward march of the band’s riff collections trend toward having one’s head buried in the climatic works of Death and Pestilence, which means there’s some cool stuff to gleam from “Red Crescent” or “From Funeral to Funeral.” Clean vocals come in at various points (think Volbeat, which is pretty neat), and while the flow of the album takes a dip near the third-quarter mark, Tribune comes across as pretty likeable, rife with potential and greater things once some spit-shine and polish works its way in. – David E. Gehlke (Tribune on Facebook)

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Wan – Enjoy the Filth (Carnal)
Messy and all sorts of riled-up, Sweden’s Wan have had the black metal tag thrust upon them for some peculiar reason, even though their sound screams of raw and ragged Swedish DM ala Entombed and Dismember, just without the benefit of rehearsal. Never the matter, for the cuts that comprise Enjoy the Filth fancy the d-beat plunder that is so fashionable at the time, yet there’s a noticeable amount of zip and froth to a handful of these cuts, namely “Pentagram Rockers” and the scathing “The Charger.” Hooray for just going for it. – David E. Gehlke (Wan on Last FM)