October 2013 Demo Tribunal

Wednesday, 30th October 2013

After a month-long sabbatical (DR was tied up doing other things such as darning socks), we return with the October installment of Demo Tribunal. The submissions this month were by and large, pretty solid, some of which have already advanced from unsigned status, while others look to build their fanbases one release at a time. With that in mind, the following bands were examined with our unforgiving microscope: A Light Within, Astovidatu, Avileon, Crypt Sermon, Elusive Sight, Hell’s Island, Obscene Entity, Space God Ritual, Stonerust, and Taketh. Have at it:

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A Light Within – Preface EP
Contextually, as well as sonically rich, A Light Within present post-rock/metal in all the right subtexts on their Preface EP. Three songs here, each notated with a different diary entry, meaning there’s probably some deep concept that will no doubt go over DR’s regularly-confused head. Still, the songs have a way of floating, with well textured riffs (lots of space), and the smooth, almost coy vocals of Kyle, who sits somewhat back in the mix, but still has an impact. The highlight among the three tunes is “Page #18 (Grim),” a gorgeous, atmospheric number that strokes both the Deftones and post-metal thaw of Isis and Cult of Luna in one fell swoop. An excellent debut; would be a cinch for this Kansas City-based five piece to crank out a full-length of equal, or greater measure. (A Light Within on Bandcamp)

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Astovidatu – Dissolver of Souls
Symphonic black metal from Belgium, Astovidatu have their heads wrapped around everything that went down in the mid-90’s, so bank on those archetypal chord structures to be the norm, as well as keyboard patches-a-plenty. The drums are the most wonky aspect of this nine-song release, as the tempo wobbles a bit when there’s a transition, and while the clean vocals add some variety, it’s the haunting “Ashes of Faith” and “Mountain of Twilight” that work best when stacking it up against obvious sonic references points such as Stormblast and the Abigor catalog. (Astovidatu on Bandcamp)

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Avelion – Liquid Breathing
Djent/modern metal from Italy, Avelion sound like an Italian Threat Signal, just with more keyboards, apparently. The band’s ideas aren’t quite fully developed; some obvious quirks go down when they shouldn’t (see: the keyboard solo on “Liquid Breath”), and the poppy, over-enuncianted vocal choices on “Ain’t No Down” don’t help matters either. Avelion simply translates to a band that has pilfered a bit too much from America, when they should be looking to the likes of Raunchy and Sybreed for proper direction on how to work with modern-tinged cyber metal. Nevertheless, a pro production job and nice presentation should help these dudes in the short term. (Avelion on Facebook)

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Crypt Sermon – Demo MMXII
Recently snapped up by Dark Descent for a December release, Demo MMXII by way of Philly classic melodic doomsters Crypt Sermon is a gem, and a direct nod to the glory days of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus. One can practically envision these gents traversing the globe with the aforementioned pair, letting their classic tones do their thing, and man, they really do. From earthy vocals, to screaming, but soulful leads, the three songs here (“Temple Doors,” “Belly of the Whale” and “Whore of Babylon”) are suitably top-notch and definitely deserving of worldwide attention. It’s bound to happen. (Crypt Sermon on Facebook)

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Elusive Sight – Lost in Nothingness
Easy to like Poland’s Elusive Sight’s grip on forlorn, melancholic metal on Lost in Nothingness. Clean female and male vocals (some of which are sung in Polish, which is fine), but it’s the crisp guitar tone (as in, they’re loud and proud) and all-gloom happenings of “Pustka” and “Lost” that are instant winners, while the over ten-minute “Sleepwalker” could use some condensing, but is worth diving into if not for the close proximity to the likes of Draconian, Swallow the Sun, and My Dying Bride. With some seasoning, who’s to say some small indie won’t give this bunch a listen, eh? Well-suited for the Goth metal crowd, fo sho. (Elusive Sight on Bandcamp)

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Hell’s Island – Black Painted Circle
An Italian act that has been active since 2002, Hell’s Island operate within the sticky confines of alternative metal, so placing them in the proper spot might be difficult, for what’s the alternative to metal? Alternative? Eh, we’re not sure. Anyway, a big ‘ole production job drives the band’s immediate and gripping songs home, with well-placed dynamics giving songs such as “G.O.D. (Guilty of Dying)” and the excellent title track some gusto and conviction. They’re probably heavier than we lead on, actually, but because of the use of clean vocals the and soft verse/loud-chorus formula, that’s where the alternative leanings come in. Regardless, Black Painted Circle is a totally pro outing. Goes to show what 11 years of experience will get you. (Hell’s Island on Bandcamp)

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Obscene Entity – Obscene Entity EP
Probably the pick of the month, U.K.-based death metal trio Obscene Entity translate some heady, hard-nosed workouts into a palpable five-song outing as their debut EP. Top-notch production and ace riffing (saying “ace” is cool) are the mainstays in each song, with proper riff fluctuations going on between melodic and brutal, with obvious highlights coming in the form of the triplet section on “The Nephilim” and technical portions heard on “Doomed.” In all, just very strong stuff, the type that is easy to like, hard to dislike, thus warranting these fine gentlemen some additional attention. (Obscene Entity on Bandcamp)

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Space God Ritual – Eldritch Tales
DR fancied the band’s R’lyeh Beckons from earlier in the year, so it’s no surprise Space God Ritual’s third official release Eldritch Tales is as enjoyable as its predecessor. In fact, we can see these Portland, OR-based dudes shacked up with a quality indie ala TeePee or 20 Buck Spin, two avenues ripe to showcase the band’s smooth-riding take on stoned-out rock/metal. It’s really about the tones with these guys, so the well-stocked “Madness!” and “The Web of the Witch World” are choice, fuzzed-out rockers. With three full-lengths in two years under their belts, it’s not a question of if Space God Ritual will get scooped up, it’s a matter of when. (Space God Ritual on Facebook)

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Stonerust – Stonerust 2012
A bunch of heavy stoners from Portugal; no, not dudes that are overweight and stoned-out, just a band with a nice little side-take on Corrosion of Conformity circa Blind, mixed with some occasional doses of thrash. DR has often fancied this style; it’s total meat and potatoes, little room for filler and the riffs – while easy – are grounded in earthy heaviness. That’s what Stonerust does on their 4-song Stonerust 2012 outing, with each song banged out in one take, apparently. Big ups to the crunchy du jour that is “From Yesterday Comes Pride,” as well as the groove-laden “Higher Hope Gone.” Good stuff all around. (Stonerust on Facebook)

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Taketh – Ignorance is Strength
Not so sure about the album title (how being “ignorant” translates into strength is beyond DR’s realm of thinking), but Sweden’s Taketh sure know their way around modern Gothenburg metal, as in, 2002 and-up In Flames and Soilwork. The clean vocals of David Dahl are a bit of an unconvincing mess, but the competent song structures, penchant for fast-paced Swede-happy melodies (see: “We Are Slaves”) make this 10-song outing above-average. Apparently, the band is going the Creative Commons licensing route for this, meaning, it’s for free, but needs to be shared under certain premises. Not a bad concept. (Taketh official site)