Archive for the metal reviews Category

Two Reviews

Posted in black metal, death metal, metal reviews, Skeletonwitch, Witchaven with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Kratornas – The Corroding Age of Wounds

I was taken aback when I first started listening to The Corroding Age of Wounds. It felt kind of like I was being attacked. Not by some person or animal, but by pure, sonic rage. Suffice to say, Kratornas, manned by Bruno Zamora, takes the “more kvlt than thou” attitude to a whole new level. In its own right, this is impressive, though the song writing itself could have used a bit more work, as the eight-track album felt like one single track pummeling. Despite a lack of distinguishable songs, the frenzied, bombastic drums, wretched vocals, and surprisingly conservative guitar work on this fifty-minute evisceration do not let up once!

According to Kratornas’ Myspace page, the root of Bruno Zamora’s rage stems from “Self-Praised Pvrists, Primitive Monkeys, Trendy Clones, Sub-Human Kvltists, and Elitist Squatters who think their opinion matters.” I would argue that The Corroding Age of Wounds would serve as the perfect soundtrack to the frantic decimation of these persons. If you have an unending hatred for the above individuals definitely buy this album. If you are one of those individuals all I can say to you is “run.” [Editor’s Note: Click on this link if you would like to know more about Kratornas:]

– Cameron

Witchaven – Terrorstorm

With the popularity of bands such as Skeletonwitch, it comes with no surprise that there are and will be band clones. Enter Witchaven and their premiere effort, Terrorstorm. While Witchaven could easily pass as a significantly less commercial Skeletonwitch, excluding some hardcore influence, this is by no means a bad thing. Within the delightful genre of blackened trash, bands like Skeletonwitch, and Witchaven, exude an indescribable “live show” presence within their recordings, in that their records are void of superficiality. While some of the tracks on Terrorstorm shine brighter than others, like “Black Thrash Assault” and “Ardent Lust,” the stand out track is “Absolute Profit,” with a chugging intro reminiscent of Motorhead and a fantastic chorus that would go great with any cheap beer.

While not particularly memorable, Terrorstorm does induce a healthy dose of head banging and beer chugging. The most important aspect of this opus is that it does not overstay it’s welcome, which is a problem some blackened/death ‘n’ thrash bands have (e.g. Blood Tsunami). If you are an appreciator of blackened thrash, this album is for you.

– Cameron

Two Mini Reviews

Posted in black metal, death metal, immolation, metal reviews, satyricon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Satyricon – The Age of Nero

Satyricon’s latest release, The Age of Nero, presents a solid take on modern blackened metal. From the lo-fi black metal of their early work, Satyricon has adopted a more rock beat and clean sound. Although a continuation of Satyricon’s departure from the growling discordance of pure black metal, The Age of Nero nonetheless presents a decent piece of Norwegian metal.

The album opens with “Commando”, a pulsing, chugging song that holds strong but fails to especially impress. Get past this somewhat weak opening and you’ll find some excellent metal to be had on this album. “The Wolfpack,” “Die By My Hand,” and “Black Crow on a Tombstone” show Frost’s drumming ability, throwing out a heavy, fast beat reminiscent of early Satyricon and Gorgoroth. Satyr strums out a solid cascade of guitar riffing, cranking the music into epic swells and falls. With “My Skin is Cold,” the duo presents a taste of a more traditional melancholy, a feel of something a bit more black. The medieval vibes of earlier works come into play strongly in “The Sign of the Trident” and “Den Siste,” echoing the rhythmic feel of “Angstridden” and other older work.

Though by no means a return to old school black metal, Satyricon has produced a respectable piece of metal in a vein entirely their own. They play with a more marketable, cleaner sound to be sure- but nonetheless put forth a potent piece of very heavy music.  The Age of Nero is above all else a solid, well-wrought album, a redemption from the lows of Now, Diabolical that hearkens to roots and affirms Satyricon’s place in the continuing evolution of metal. -Reis Galvan

Immolation – Majesty and Decay

This was my first foray into all things “Immolated” and I have to say I’m impressed. My initial vibe from this band was a subtle mix of Domination-era Morbid Angel (i.e. “Where the Slime Live”) and Celtic Frost, though I’m certain their influences run closer to the latter. After a prerequisite atmospheric intro track, “The Purge” produces some of the best lyrical/ vocal offerings I’ve heard since Death’s “Living Monstrosity.” Seriously, check this shit out: “ More and more, / growing and growing / Spreading and spreading, / taking and ruining / The CANCER is growing, / the CANCER is spreading.” If that’s not enough for you, “A Token of Malice” and “Majesty and Decay” absolutely kill due to an astonishing amount of   guitar-induced metallic oppression. This album is definitely worth checking out.-Cameron Davis

Master’s Hammer – “Mantras” review

Posted in album review, avant-garde, black metal, experimental, Master's Hammer, metal reviews, progressive black metal, progressive metal with tags , , , , , , , on April 2, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

When the news of a new Master’s Hammer album broke last year, I was more than a little excited.  Their 1991 classic Ritual had already turned me into a Master’s Hammer fanboy, so the prospect of a new masterpiece had me eagerly looking forward to Mantras.  Being that their catalogue is ripe with innovation and experimentation, it comes as no surprise that Mantras continues in this genre-defying fashion.

“Typograf” starts the album off strongly with explosive energy, a simple yet brutal riff, and atmospheric guitar solos.  The next few songs follow in a similar fashion, including simple (and dare I say, predictable) guitar riffs combined with a dash of guitar or keyboard oddity.  If I had to pick a low point in the album, it would be these few songs.  Moments of glory shine through when they break from their traditional old-era riffs and throw something odd into the mix.

Luckily, beginning with “Bodhi,” Master’s Hammer begins to fully explore these experimental tendencies that were only hinted at in the prior tracks.  The songs are not as heavy, with many arguably not even being metal, let alone black metal.  However, I embrace their heavy usage of diverse keyboard sounds, nearly danceable beats, and odd song structures because it’s simply a joy to listen!  The songs all continue in this fashion, except for a cover of their old song “Jáma Pekel.”  However, even this track isn’t spared from the album’s weirdness due to its incredibly funky keyboard solo near the end.

Mantras has been a very difficult album for me.  When I first heard the samples offered on their website, I was ready for a new classic.  Does this album reach that status?  The stumbling in a few songs early-on does not help its case. However, it contains so many eccentricities and new sounds that my perception of the album is constantly changing. Who knows?  Perhaps the future will be kind to this unique piece of work. -Max

Thronar – “Unleash the Fire” review

Posted in album review, black metal, folk metal, metal reviews, thronar with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

I heard about Thronar a few years ago while looking through the Metal Archives. They were being recommended for their epic nature or something of the like. Luckily for me, Unleash the Fire was due to be released the same month that I found out about them. I went into this album with relatively high expectations based off of the reviews for their debut and these guys did not fail to deliver; this album is amazing.

The album starts off with the song “Prelude to War”, the perfect opener for an album of this style. There is a narration over horns and soft keyboards. Eventually it builds up into the second track, “Shield to Shield”, which is filled with furious blast beats and a great mixture of harsh and clean vocals. After Shield to Shield the album has one great song after another, going all the way to the closer, “Final War (Unleash the Fire)”.

I don’t want to waste your time describing each track because you need to hear this album for yourself. Each song has great qualities to it and has excellent musicianship from all of the members of the band. Each instrument seems to complement each other very well. When the guitars are shredding and the song takes a heavier approach, the drums become furious and much more apparent to the listener. During the slower parts, the keyboards are present and add a nice melody to each of the songs.

The vocals are quite good on this album as well. The harsh vocals are great and the clean vocals are a nice addition as well. When I say clean vocals, I’m not referring to something that you would hear off of a power metal album; they still have a rougher edge to them. The lyrics of the album itself concern battle, fantasy, and history, which is something that certainly does not detract from the value of Unleash the Fire.

Overall I must say that this is quite an amazing album. Since I have unfortunately not heard Thronar’s debut, I cannot say whether or not this album sounds or is structured like the debut. However, I can say that you will not be disappointed if you pick up this album. It’s a great recording from start to finish and is well worth many listens. -Sean Barron

Amesoeurs – “Amesoeurs” review

Posted in album review, amesoeurs, black metal, French black metal, metal reviews, shoegaze with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Imagine The Cure with blast beats and female vocals.

If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, you should probably stay away from Amesoeurs’ self-titled album. For everyone who is a fan of Neige’s ‘shoegaze black metal’ experiments, though, Amesoeurs is mandatory.

First, the bad: the main problem with this album is that it is not, in any sense, cohesive. ‘Trouble’, a blistering black metal track featuring Neige’s trademark screams, is followed by ‘Video Girl’, which is essentially a pop song. Both songs are incredible, but it’s very disjointing to leap from one style to the next, especially when this occurs several times over the course of the album. Also disappointing is that Audrey and Neige’s vocals are never used jointly. Each track is either predominantly a ‘Neige track’ or an ‘Audrey track,’ and it would be incredible to hear them together.

Don’t let these complaints fool you; Amesoeurs is fantastic. Once you get past the erratic nature of the album, you will find that each track is uplifting and gorgeously crafted. ‘Gas in Veins’, the instrumental opener, shows that Amesoeurs is more than just the vocals, and does post-black metal better than most other bands in the genre. ‘Heurt’ opens with furious blasting before segueing into sublime female vocals. The peak of the track comes when Audrey wildly shrieks over a brilliant lead. While ‘Les Ruches Malades’ and ‘La Reine Treyeuse’ are strong contenders, the true climax of the album comes with the finale, ‘Au Crepuscule de Nos Reves.’ The song truly amalgamates the black metal and shoegaze stylings. The album ends on a melancholy note, as Neige howls through a passage that easily ranks as one of Amesoeurs’ finest.

Amesoeurs broke up after the completion of this album, so unfortunately Neige will have to pursue his experiments in one of his other acclaimed bands. If you like your black metal with an experimental twist, or your shoegaze on a heavier note, then this album is a necessary listening experience. – Adam Barron

Two Mini-Reviews – Ihsahn “After” and Fear Factory “Mechanize”

Posted in album review, avant-garde, black metal, Fear Factory, Ihsahn, Industrial Metal, metal reviews, progressive black metal, progressive metal with tags , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Ihsahn – After

Ihsahn, Emperor (R.I.P.) frontman and guitarist extraordinary, completes his magnificent solo album trilogy with his finest opus, After. His previous solo efforts, The Adversary and angL, feel relatively standard. After, with a little help from an eight-string guitar and saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby, feels like a tour de force in comparison. The black metal torrent that is “A Grave Inversed” not only shows Ihsahn’s ability to bend eight-string guitars to his will, but also showcases the fantastic free-form jazz saxophone present through out the album. In “Austere,”  Ihsahn presents some truly refreshing Deep Purple-sounding organ synth that is so deserving of his name. Finally, the vocal chorus in “Heavens Black Sea” brings to mind stoic, tormented angel chanting that literally sends a shiver down my spine. If you’re into all things “Kvlt” or “Tr00,” this album is definitely not for you. If you like bands that break the rules and make their own in the process, I highly recommend you add this masterpiece to your collection. – Cameron Davis

Fear Factory – Mechanize

If you are one of the Fear Factory fans who, like me, was left feeling betrayed by the band’s most recent breakup and reformation; get over it.  It becomes obvious before you even finish the first track on this album that everything has worked out for the best.  On this album, Fear Factory manages to recapture the sheer intensity and brutality of their older works without sacrificing the musicality found on the more recent “Transgression” and “Archetype”.  And, while not particularly innovative, “Mechanize” is easily the closest that Fear Factory has ever come to perfecting their unique brand of Industrial Metal.  -Matt Neri

Burzum – ‘Belus’ – Editors’ Review

Posted in album review, Belus, black metal, Burzum, metal reviews, Until the Light Takes Us, Varg Vikernes on March 19, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Three of the editors of Pantheon (Adam Barron, Max Rock, and Ryan Kirsch) sat down to discuss Varg Vikernes’ latest output, ‘Belus.’  The full, streaming audio of the chat can be heard below:

Click here for the full transcript of the review

Between the Buried and Me – “The Great Misdirect” review

Posted in album review, avant-garde, between the buried and me, metal reviews, metalcore, prog reviews, progressive metal, progressive rock with tags , , , , , , , on March 18, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

With their magnum opus, Colors, Between the Buried and Me stretched the already distorted limits of progressive music. This included the insertion of many conflicting musical genres into one continuous album. The Great Misdirect picks up where Colors left off, but takes the sporadic passages and streamlines them into a transcending record. The band’s eclectic style makes the transitions seem very cohesive. The Great Misdirect is a transcendent experience, the majority of the album examining the mind and our own human perception.

Although not extremely technical, “Mirrors” opens the album by creating a preparatory listening experience. The listener is able to relate to their own existence through the calming mood created.  “Obfuscation” relays the overall theme of the album with these lyrics; “As humans we could never be content with knowing all, yet we can’t be content with the fact that our brains will never know.” Throughout the entire album, the band exhibits a knack for creating haunting vibes of mind control (“Disease, Injury, Madness”), questions of existence, and even UFOs (“Fossil Genera- A Feed from Cloud Mountain”).

Musically, the greatest evolution can be heard through Blake Richardson, the drummer. Prior to recording, Blake had been collaborating and working with Dream Theater virtuoso Mike Portnoy. That being said, Blake stays true to the heavy side of BTBAM by pounding out barrages of brutal drumming. Picking up from where he left off in Colors, bassist Dan Briggs plays with an enormous amount of talent and emotion, and should be considered one of the premier young bassists on today’s scene. Tommy Rogers is not the exclusive vocalist on the album. Guitarist Paul Waggoner’s takes the lead on vocals for “Desert of Song,” which is the low point of the album in my opinion. The 18-minute closing epic, “Swim to the Moon,” features Chuck Johnson, light tech and merch coordinator for the band.

Overall, Between the Buried and Me continue to exemplify the progressive label by adapting with each album and constantly reworking their personal goals as musicians. The Great Misdirect is a chilling, magnificent representation of what the band is capable of doing musically and lyrically. Though everyone may not approve of the eclectic shifts present in the latest albums from the band, BTBAM brings something new to the table with each release. One can only hope they continue down the road paved by Colors and The Great Misdirect.Matt Karow