Pitchshifter - Submit Review

Submit EP (1992)
Genres: Industrial Metal, Death Metal
(Excellent - highly recommended listening)

Just a year after their debut hit the scene, simply titled Industrial, the band came back with an EP which already got the band into more of their own sound. While it is an EP, it is longer than the debut if including the silence on the last track. Even if you don't count those, it's only about 10 minutes shorter. While their debut could be a bit too derivative from Godflesh for some, Submit increases the thrash and death metal influences to make Pitchshifter a force to be reckoned with.

Apart from "New Flesh PSI", which isn't really much of a song, this album never lets up with crushing industrial fury that punches the listener to the floor. "Gritter" is a real teeth grinder, which sets the stage for all of the gritty and crunching riffs that permeate through the album. It's also almost impossible to not want to growl along. "Deconstruction" is probably the best on here, and one of Pitchshifter's best tracks in general. It really shows what was to come on the next album, with a driving nail of a riff and J.S. Clayden's chaotic vocal attack. "Dry Riser Inlet" is another one of the band's best tracks, which is a foreboding industrial death metal masterpiece. The bass is driving, but the guitar and vocals are stark during the chorus. The last song "Silo" is an instrumental sludgy dirge that is a great end to the album.

Submit has just the right amount of Pitchshifter's own flavor to make it stand out more than their debut. Some of the best death metal-infused industrial metal out there is on this record, and it should be an essential listen for any industrial fan. As fantastic as this EP is, the band would reach their peak with the following album.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/submit(ep)/306133


Ex Eye - Ex Eye Review

Ex Eye (2017)
Genres: Avant-Garde Metal, Atmospheric Black Metal
(Decent - worth a listen)

By first look, it would be easy to mistake Ex Eye's debut studio album as some sort of atmospheric black metal album. However, you may notice by looking at its entry on this site, there are no vocals and rather horns. No bass either, instead using synth. So what should one expect from this? Well, you can't really expect much until you listen to it...

...and once you do, there's a bit of conflict that may come with a full listen. I must say, that when you first start the album, it's hard not to get addicted to the first song. Damn is it catchy, and gets you hooked. I'd describe it as space metal, sounding a bit like what may be a classic Hawkwind cut. The drums are the main star here, with a steady locked in groove that keeps the foot tapping and just the right amount of fills to give it the right amount of flavor, all courtesy of Liturgy's Greg Fox. The more you listen though, the more that the rest of the instruments stand out. It all blends together and grooves, but the horns, guitar, and droning synth bring in a nice chill vibe to the whole thing.

Unfortunately, this first song tricks you into thinking that this will be an amazing spacey instrumental metal journey of a catchy variety. The rest of the tracks (on the physical release), while retaining a similar atmosphere, are more of an avant-garde and slightly jazzy black metal sound. They just kind of drone on and don't have enough to differentiate themselves from one another. Occasionally there will be an interesting drum fill, but most of the time it's on black metal auto-pilot. This is at it's worse on Anaitis Hymnal, which is easily the worst song on the album. Ever want to hear really generic atmospheric black metal with no guitar to be heard? Then this is for you, as it is dominated by a synthetic yet blaring atmosphere with pretty constant double-bass drumming. The horns also sometimes present a problem. While barely audible on the aforementioned track, they are often too avant-garde for my tastes. I would have liked to hear some more catchy melodies, or more of the perfect blend of instruments from that first song Xenolith.

The physical release excludes the fifth song, don't ask me why as it could easily fit on the disc. This song is pretty great, and is easily the second highlight of the album after the first track. While the first few minutes sound like the horns are dying a painful death, skip ahead and it starts to sound like some cool experimental electronic track before letting the guitar shine in the style of an old school 70's rock jam. You don't hear too many awesome old school guitar jams these days, so it's welcome to hear. After that, you finally get to hear a return to the catchy space metal vibe of the first track, just a bit slower and doom-sounding this time around.

Overall, this is certainly an acquired taste. For those who love experimental space rock, the first and last tracks are probably some of the best of 2017 that you'll hear of that variety. However, the rest of the album is only for fans of avant-garde noodling or atmospheric black metal blandness, which I certainly am not one. Either way, avoid the physical release. Ordinarily, I would never say that, but in this case it's a rip off. Not including a song that could easily be included makes zero sense. If these guys hone in on the sound of the first and last tracks, I think they could make something really great next time around.

Written for MetalMusicArchives (MMA)'s reviewer's challenge.

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/ex-eye/376638


Sacrilege - Behind the Realms of Madness Review

Behind the Realms of Madness (1985)
Genre: Thrash Metal
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

"Like the shadow from Mordor, creeping slowly forward."

Easily one of the most underrated bands of all time, the masters of both thrash and doom, Sacrilege unleashed their thrashing fury onto the scene with their debut album here in 1985. While the band went silent after breaking up in 1990, they returned in 2014 and remastered their classic debut and released their first new song since '89. Now let's stop talking history, and get into these overlooked classics of thrash.

You want hooks? This album's got 'em, and they won't release you from their grasp until the album's finished. This is thrash metal blended with classic punk and traditional metal. So expect some Sabbath-esque riffs and Samhain on steroids. Every riff pounds you to the ground, while the solos are about as classic as you can get. Check out "Shadow from Mordor", "At Death's Door", and "The Closing Irony" for some of the best riffs you'll ever hear. "Shadow of Mordor" has an addicting groove that swings the listener around in the mosh pit, and a tasty solo as a little treat in between being bruised. "At Death's Door" hammers itself into your skull, with a massive groove and a absolutely crushing drum performance courtesy of Cerebral Fix's Andy Baker. "The Closing Irony" enters in with the metal staple of ominous bells, and takes you through a romp of catchy and skull crushing riffs that sound straight from Slayer's Haunting the Chapel, 70's string bends, and beautiful soloing.

Lynda "Tam" Simpson screams and barks throughout the whole album, and her vocals scream pure raging fury. Whether it be a speeding bullet like "A Violation of Something Sacred" or a groovy stomp like "Shadow of Mordor", it always works. The production is raw and rough, and it has just the right amount of punch like Haunting the Chapel.

With Sacrilege, there is no bad album, and each album is unique. If you just want some raw early thrash to open up a pit, crank this classic up and crank it loud!

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/behind-the-realms-of-madness/337302


Snapcase - Snapcase Demo

Snapcase Demo (1991)
Genres: Crossover Thrash, Hardcore Punk
(Excellent - highly recommended)

Typically, demos are rarely seen as including some of a band's best material. This isn't always because of the band finding their sound and just starting out though, many times it is the terrible production on many demos that keep them from being very enjoyable. Snapcase's self-titled demo from 1991 is an exception, as this houses some of the band's best stuff.

Before switching to their own unique take on hardcore in the late 90's and early 2000's, the band was a lot more thrash-based. Perhaps nothing displays that better than this demo, as this is an onslaught of punishing beat-you-to-the-floor crossover thrash. "Die Laughing" is the best song on here, with a machine gun barrage of double bass that drum into your skull. The guitar riffs shred and proceed to punch you in the gut, and Chris Galas's vocal spitfire has all the attitude and strained screams of classic hardcore/crossover fashion.

The bass work gets its glory in "Undertow", which is given a menacing tone with the production that blends perfectly with the rusty distortion of some of the riffs. The production is raw and crushing, but you can hear every instrument and vocal line incredibly well. It sounds like a well produced studio album, and that's impressive, especially for a first demo.

If you're looking for some crushing underground crossover thrash to get you through the daily grind, give a listen to this fantastic demo. A great start to one of the most underrated bands in hardcore.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/snapcase(demo)/376060


Helloween - Walls of Jericho Review

Walls of Jericho (1985)
Genres: Thrash Metal, Power Metal
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

"Give me wings to fly, ride the sky!"

When people think of classic power metal, Helloween is usually the first band to come to mind. After all, they did release the legendary Keeper of the Seven Keys Parts 1 and 2, which have since became known as two of the greatest metal albums of the 80's. However, before leading the way of the German power metal scene, Helloween released one of the most melodic yet at the same time heaviest thrash/speed metal albums at the time of 1985.

After a short orchestral intro title track, you're thrown right into a storm of riffs and cannonball drums that rain down upon the listener that is called "Ride the Sky". This is simply the greatest and heaviest song Helloween ever wrote. It really sets a mood, conjuring up images of dogfights in the sky with bullets flying at top speed. It's followed up with "Reptile" which pounds itself into your head, with a real marching stomp of a main riff. That's what you'll get on this album, it will either shred at blinding speeds or pound a stomping groove through your skull. "Heavy Metal (Is the Law)" could not be titled better, as this is a speeding masterpiece that continuously throws catchy guitar and bass riffs and crazy solos. This is a song made for the stage. 

Perhaps the best on the album and one of Helloween's best tracks is "Gorgar". Talk about a headbanging anthem! It instantly reels you in with a groovy hook, and it becomes impossible to not headbang and scream along. Add in the fantastic metal rendition of Edvard Grieg's classic Hall of the Mountain King as the bridge, and you've got a masterpiece.

This is the only Helloween album that features Kai Hansen on vocals, so this sounds more like what would end up being Gamma Ray then the Helloween most people know. He has a unique and distinct voice that really suits everything that the music does, whether it be thrash, power, or speed. Markus Grosskopf really gets plenty of time to shine on the bass end, you can almost always hear the rumbling, clicking, and shredding basslines. In particular, the closing epic "How Many Tears" highlights this best. "Heavy Metal (Is the Law)" gives some time for some showing off with bass riffs a plenty.

As much as I love the classic Keeper of the Seven Keys albums, Walls of Jericho has always been my favorite Helloween album. It's got the edge of thrash, with the melody of power metal. It's a match made in heaven, and never worked better. If you want to get the definitive version, be sure to get the one that includes their amazing self-titled EP and the blazing classic "Judas".

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/walls-of-jericho/299692


Visigoth - The Revenant King

The Revenant King (2015)
Genre: Heavy Metal
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

As far as classic heavy metal goes, there aren't a whole lot of new bands of that pure old school 70's/80's sound, and even fewer that get much attention. The few that will, usually have bigger production values that ruin the impact of the music. Look a bit, and you'll find bands that both play and sound just like what could be a classic metal band of old. Visigoth is one of those bands.

Visigoth takes influence from bands like Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road, as seen in their cover of the latter's "Necropolis", but they don't come off as copycats. They sound like they would fit right into a hidden 80's metal gem list you might find, and deliver masterful traditional heavy metal in every way. The ultimate highlight of the album and one of the greatest metal songs of the 2010's is the single "Dungeon Master". The heat-seeking hook of the riff and attacking drums instantly just gets the listener hooked, couple that with beautifully melodic vocals, and you've got yourself a masterpiece. The bass gets some shine on the album too, with the crushingly heavy yet melodic "Iron Brotherhood", where you can feel the reverb.

Now sometimes with extreme high points such as that, the rest of an album can pale in comparison. Thankfully, The Revenant King does not. Most of it is consistently fantastic, "Creature of Desire" in particular comes very close to "Dungeon Master"'s greatness. It opens right up with a punchy riff and a scream that could have come right from a classic Helstar album. "Necropolis" is a faithful and excellent cover of the original Manilla Road tune, but the band gives it their own touch. The band couldn't have picked a better song to close out the album than "From the Arcane Mists of Prophesy", this is what I call an epic. Each riff and melody hooks the listener, especially sort of a mix of singing solos creating a rhythm in the middle. The epic perfectly ends with a melodic doom metal finale that would make 80's Candlemass proud.

What about the production? No polished bullshit is to be found here, this has a nice warm and organic sound that is what traditional heavy metal should sound like. It's not that raw like a thrash or death metal album needs to be, but you can hear and feel all of the heaviness on this record.

If you miss the traditional metal sound without any modern bullshit, Visigoth is an essential listen. Along with Crystal Viper, these guys renew my faith in bands carrying on the torch of classic metal. Turn it up, headbang, and sing to the epic melodies. It's old school all the way!

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/the-revenant-king/375908


Night Sun - Mournin' Review

Mournin' (1972)
Genres: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Doom Metal, Proto-Thrash
(Masterpiece - among the best in the genre)

What happens when you combine Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin, and mix it together in a crazy early heavy metal album that was ahead of it's time and also fit nicely with other early 70's metal bands? You get the German Night Sun's sole studio album, Mournin'.

The German music scene during the early 70's was home to Krautrock, an experimental rock movement that birthed bands such as Can and Neu! as well as electronic pioneers Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. With Mournin' being produced by Konrad Plank, known for producing albums for many Krautrock staples, you would think it would fit into this scene. However, it's an amazing and blistering slice of early metal.

Night Sun immediately wants the listener to know that they aren't fucking around, as "Plastic Shotgun" is faster, heavier, and spits more than anything else from 1972. It sounds like what is probably the earliest example of thrash metal, having nearly the same force and aggression as an early thrash opening track like Metallica's "Hit the Lights". There's of course the Deep Purple-esque organ and Robert Plant meets Ian Gillian vocals that lets you know what year this is, but the main riff is jagged and crushing and would open a mosh pit right up had this been released more than a decade later.

That's the song that makes this album groundbreaking, but the majority of the rest of the album is up there with the best of early 70's heavy metal. "Got a Bone of My Own" begins with a three minute long dark and haunting ambient section that rivals the brooding atmosphere of Black Sabbath's self-titled song, before raining down gargantuan doom metal riffing that crushes the listener's skull. "Slush Pan Man" and "Come Down" follow similar suit, with the latter beginning more softly before bringing in the heavy artillery. "Blind" and "Nightmare" pick the speed back up, less proto-thrash but still blisteringly fast heavy metal/hard rock.

The last song, "Don't Start Flying", is a bit of an oddball. It still maintains the heavy riffing, but blends in a lot of horns that take a little while getting used to, but sometimes has the same swing of a song like Gentle Giant's "Peel the Paint".

If you're looking for some heavy, dark, and crushing heavy metal from the 70's, Night Sun's lone wonder of Mournin' is an essential listen. Will these guys ever reform? Who knows, and who knows if it will even be heavy metal if they do. As of now, they're a one album legend. And with an album as groundbreaking and amazing as this one, there is no problem with that.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives)

See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/mournin/355672