September 2013 Rapid Fires

Monday, 30th September 2013

The fall release schedule predicates an onslaught of releases, so this is where our attention gets spread thin and creative adjectives are hard to come by. Somehow, the DR crew managed against all odds (that’s a bit of an exaggeration) with the September 2013 installment of Rapid Fires. This month, we reviewed the following fine acts: Arabrot, Ephemeros, Hollow Haze, Ildjarn, Lalu, Masada, Serocs, and Sofy Major. Read on!

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Arabrot – Arabrot (Fysisk Format)
Winners for a Norwegian Grammy, Arabrot appear to be on the same career trajectory as fellow countrymen Kverletak. There’s not a tremendous deal of similarities between the two, even if both tend to be raucous and spunky. Arabrot, though, seem to have a lot Melvins albums on the turntables, as the riff pacing and sequencing remind of King Buzzo and co’s prime era. Even with that noticeable comparison, a few cuts are worth bagging, like “Blood on the Poet” and the caustic “The Horns of the Devil Grow.” – David E. Gehlke (Arabrot official site)

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Ephemeros – All Hail Corrosion (Seventh Rule)
Funeral doom without the funeral imagery (we think), Portland’s Ephemeros have turned in a naturally suffocating and oppressive platter in the form of their All Hail Corrosion debut. At three cuts, all pretty darn long, All Hail Corrosion finds it footing via the bleak melodies heard on the title track, a mindful take on early Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. In fact, All Hail Corrosion improves as it trudges along (and yeah, “trudging” might be too strong of a word), as the sobbing “Stillborn Workhorse” and dank “Soilbringer” are top-notch moody doom numbers that ooze stillness and darkness. A quality find. – David E. Gehlke (Ephemeros on Facebook)

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Hollow Haze – Countdown to Revenge (Scarlet Records)
Fabio Lione…the man is everywhere. Barely two years ago, he was Kamelot’s touring singer, in addition to his main gig with Rhapsody of Fire, not to mention his current fill-in spot with Angra. How would he ever rest his golden pipes? Hollow Haze is the man’s newest outfit, even if the band has been kicking around for roughly ten years. On Countdown to Revenge (the band’s fourth overall), Lione lends his pipes to adventuroius, but not overplayed power metal. It’s pocket power metal, with great hooks (“Still Alive” and “The Answer”). A bit surprised this isn’t getting more notice…it might be better than anything Rhapsody of Fire has been releasing of late. – David E. Gehlke (Hollow Haze official site)

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Ildjarn – Strength and Anger (Season of Mist)
Season of Mist’s re-release of Ildjarn’s 1996 outing doesn’t do much in the way of making the album more palatable for general listeners, a plus for black metal enthusiasts. The production is so raw that early Darkthrone is almost sleek by comparison: jarring drums, repetitive riffing, and hopelessly unintelligible vocals preside. Strength and Anger VI” provides a glimmer of melody amid the tumult, while the expansive, ambient “Hate Meditation” tracks add desired, though equally inaccessible, variety. This is black metal at its most raw and will likely appeal only to the most kvlt among its patrons. – Joshua Overbey (Ildjarn on Facebook)

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Lalu – Atomic Ark (Sensory)
The second solo album, Atomic Ark, from French progressive metal keyboardist/ producer/ composer Vivien Lalu, contains many notable musicians aiding the cause: vocalist Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta), bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X), guitarist Simone Mularoni (DGM) and drummer Virgil Donati (Planet X)- with supplementary guest contributions. Cinematic, dark, and bristling with propulsive energy, songs like “War on Animals” (featuring Mike Anderrson of Cloudscape on vocals), the Kamelot-ish “Bast” and 19:29 “Revelations” closer with new age meets neo-classical progressive charm showcase a forward thinking, edge of your seat experience. Lalu is perfect for those who love a style straddling American technical prowess with European smoothness and tender musicality. – Matt Coe (Lalu official site)

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Masada – Hideous Rot (Deathgasm Records)
Eschewing more coherent song structures, the erratic atonality of Masada’s Hideous Rot EP sounds like a spiraling descent into insanity. Instrumentation is prevailingly unpredictable, and the vocals range from ghoulish (“Hideous Cerebral Pulp”) to more orthodox (“Suffer Mental Decay”), while the unsettling “Fluteotheraphy” instrumental breaks up the death metal barrage with a piece that sounds like it’s straight from an early Dario Argento giallo. Thin production, however, takes some punch out of the overall delivery, and the lack of song structure, though intriguing, results in tracks lacking identity and ultimately blending together. – Joshua Overbey (Masada on Facebook)

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Serocs – The Next (Comatose Music)
Originally formed as a one-man project of guitarist Antonio Freyre, Serocs has blossomed into a global death metal force, with their debut album The Next being recorded in eight cities across the globe. Thank goodness for the ability to send files via email or FTP, or the band would have incurred some high postage costs! A technical death metal band at the core, the songs on The Next have a proliferation of buzzing, chaotic riff-action (“The Next,” “Weakness Fed the Fear”) as well as chunky palm-muting glory (“The Shining One.”) The result? A death metal album that doesn’t stop working. – David E. Gehlke (Serocs on Facebook)

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Sofy Major – Idolize (Solar Flare Records)
Recording an album is difficult enough to begin with; imagine having to change recording studios after a natural disaster hits. Such is the case for French noise rock trio Sofy Major, who were initially slated to record at a Brooklyn-based studio in the fall of 2012, only to have Hurricane Sandy totally destroy the studio. Once the band regrouped (and bummed around town for a bit), they were able to hook up at another Brooklyn studio (one that obviously, was unharmed) for Idolize. Clearly, the band’s upward and manic post-post and hardcore benefited, as the gut-punches from immediate cuts like “Comment” and “Slow and Painful” are stocked with early-90’s precision, ala Quicksand. Hopefully next studio go-round won’t be such a debacle. – David E. Gehlke (Sofy Major official site)