About Me

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Greetings! My name is Matthew, and I love to listen to all types of metal. Since I’m a Christian, most of the bands that I listen to reflect my faith or have positive, uplifting lyrics. The other thing that you should know is that I love to write – in fact, I want to write epic science fiction for a living.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Narnia - "Narnia" Review

     The lion is roaring again!  Swedish power metal band Narnia has released their seventh full length album amidst unbridled anticipation from fans across the world.  The self-titled album boasts Christian Liljegren back on vocal duties, which is more than fitting.  German Pascual did an excellent job in the interim, but it just wasn't the same -- similar to how Iron Maiden just wasn't quite Iron Maiden without Bruce Dickinson at the helm.  The album Narnia stands as a statement of both musical quality and bold integrity.  As the band's twentieth anniversary approaches, it's apparent that Narnia isn't backing down or giving up.
     The album begins with "Reaching for the Top," a typical Narnia offering that immediately brings to mind Enter the Gate material.  The swirling guitar and backing keyboards, all framed by a catchy rock anthem, will have you bobbing your head along in no time.  Then it's on to what is arguably the strongest song on the entire album.  "I Still Believe" boasts an introduction with strong folk influences.  The song structure and memorable chorus brings to mind Golden Resurrection, one of Christian's other bands.  Tight drumming and a standout performance by the keyboardist propels this song into legendary territory. 
     With the first two tracks being home runs, it's difficult to stay on par, but the band manages a solid number with groove-laden "On the Highest Mountain."  The song "Thank You" is an interesting experiment in production.  The first part of the song is somewhat muted and laid back, which helps to emphasize the shredding guitar solo in the second half of the song. 
     "One Way to the Promised Land" would have fit well on Course of a Generation.  Featuring another strong chorus and some of the best fret-work on the album, it's a testament to the band's penchant for skilled songwriting.  "Messengers" lags a bit behind the rest, and while I don't quite want to call it filler, there's not much that stands out.  "Who Do You Follow?" is an indictment of the Swedish church.  Like the prophets of old, Narnia is not afraid to both admonish and encourage an establishment that has long been in decline.
     "Moving On" is a fitting name for the next track.  Drummer Johansson is a monster on this song.  In many cases power metal underutilizes percussion, but that's not the case here.  Out of the breakdown soars the electric guitar, thrumming with chords of palpable energy.  Narnia ends the album with "Set the World On Fire."  While it's a solid track, the end of the album isn't quite as strong as the beginning.  The band does end up losing some steam on the last number.  I was also disappointed that the band decided not to craft a lengthy epic on this album.  Narnia would have benefited greatly from a track similar to "The Great Fall of Man" or "Trapped in This Age."
   Narnia's return is a convincing one.  Longtime fans of the band, power metal fans, and advocates of metal in general will find something to enjoy on Narnia.  As the band progresses, it will be interesting to see where their next endeavors head. C.S. Lewis, progenitor of the world of Narnia, once said,  "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."  The band captures this sentiment perfectly in their seventh studio album Narnia.

Rating:  4.0/5.0

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Morrow Review on Metal Utopia

 Hello everyone!

In addition to writing reviews for this blog, I am going to be splitting the duty and also writing for the webzine Metal Utopia.

I am pretty excited about this, as it will expand my metal horizons and also allow me to reach a larger audience with some of my reviews.

You can read my first exclusive Metal Utopia review for the band Morrow here.  If you like Crust or hardcore, be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pÿlon - "A Lament" Review

     If there's a best kept secret of the Swiss metal scene, it might just be the doom metal band Pÿlon.  They've been pumping out solid albums for years now, with A Lament measuring in as their seventh full length release.  Heavily influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Candlemass, and Trouble, Pÿlon nonetheless brings their own cathartic brand of doom metal to the scene.  Crunchy, driving riffs compliment Matt Brand's soaring, Ozzy-influenced vocals.
     A Lament begins with the track "Cosmik Lizard," a psychedelic, Sabbath-influenced tune.  The experimentation on this song works well as it creates an epic atmosphere tinged with sorrow and anticipation.  Pÿlon is back on track with their second song "Desolation is Divine," which is filled with chanting and stalwart doom riffs.  "The Day After the War" begins with an intro riff that is no doubt influenced by guest musician Ian Arkley of doom metal outfit My Silent Wake, then transitions into a tingling lament of a soldier facing the lingering atrocities of war.  The atmospheric lead guitar and time changes, coupled with the heavy subject matter, make this one of the most poignant songs on the album.
     Pÿlon does an excellent job of keeping the middle of A Lament interesting.  The two tracks that stand out are "Lazarus" and "Fair Haven of Thesterness."  When most people think of doom metal, they think of long, epic tracks breaking the ten minute mark.  "Lazarus," clocking in at 9:35, is just a few seconds short of that mark and is without doubt the opus of the album.  It follows the story of a wealthy man who dies and faces the fiery pits of hell.  He is denied even a drop of water; he begs but is not given the opportunity to warn his family of the impending torment.  The lead guitar on this song gracefully garnishes the swelling riffs of the rhythm guitar, culminating in a soft, atmospheric ending.  "Fair Haven of Thesterness" starts with some thumping bass notes that compliment the haunting nautical imagery in the song.  About two-thirds of the way into the track, the tempo kicks up a notch with a pace more akin to thrash metal.  Then the shrieking guitar and slamming drums back off, and the track ends much where it began.
     The ending is perhaps the weakest part of A Lament.  While "The Lone Rider," a tribute song to Clint Eastwood, goes off without a hitch, "A Lament" is a fairly insipid outro that leaves the listener wondering what happened.  Instrumentals are fine -- but they have to do something.  This track doesn't serve as a bridge between tracks, can't really justify standing on its own as a unique artistic composition, and is generally unremarkable.  "Lazarus" as the closing track would have made a much more lasting statement.
     A Lament is a solid offering of doom metal inspired by many of the greats in the subgenre.   In the future, it would be interesting to see Pÿlon branch out more in the direction of "Cosmik Lizard," a unique track that really helps set the album apart.  If you like any of the bands mentioned in this review, or need some comfort music on a dreary, wet day, then Pÿlon's A Lament is a solid option.

Rating:  3.5/5.0

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Indominus - "Legion Within" Review

     We all come to turning points in our lives, and the same can be said of the Irish band Indominus.  Bands usually undergo name changes when they experience member fluctuations or sound changes.  The latter has surely happened to Indominus, formerly known by the moniker ForChristSake.  With any such change, there is a question as to whether the new band will perform as well as the old.  Indominus boasts a heavier sound, plays more cohesively as a unit, and has chosen a sonic avenue that harkens to the likes of bands such as Broken Flesh, Suffocation, and Cannibal Corpse.  Shredding guitars, shrieked death growls, and on-point drumming have all become hallmarks of the band's first release, Legion Within.
     The album begins with "Leeches," a track that sets a frantic pace that doesn't let up throughout the course of the EP.  Throughout the album, the band manages to be heavy while maintaining musical direction.  We've all listened to death metal bands and simply tossed them aside because there was no originality or drive to the music -- you won't find that here.  Frequent changes in pace and rhythm, soaring guitar solos, and gritty drumming all lay waste to the listener's sonic awareness.  The second track "Backbone" begins with a thrashy rhythm that propels the song forward into a blistering rendition reminiscent of Impending Doom with its driving force and catchy lyrics. 
      Certainly the high point of Legion Within is the track "Shadow."  This is the song that I keep coming back to.  It has a tinge of melodic death metal to it, as the overarching electric guitar truly shines on this track. "Shadow" seems like it should have been the finale on the EP.  "Fragile Existence" is perhaps the most technical song on the album, and it evoked the feel of As Hell Retreats.  Legion Within ends with its title track.  It begins with a "core" feel, with numerous breakdowns, but then flowers into a monolith of chugging guitars and frantic drumming.
     All in all, Indominus hit the mark with their debut EP.  It will be intriguing to see which route the band takes next -- it seems that either becoming more technical or adding more melodic overtones would both suit Indominus fine.  Featuring the bass guitar more often could also benefit the band.  Earlier this week, I came across an interview with death metal legend Steve Rowe of Mortification.  His Scrolls era work is known as some of the best Australian death metal to date.  He said something surprising in that interview -- namely, that there really isn't a Christian metal scene right now.  I have great respect for Mr. Rowe, but it's quite possible that he hasn't given Legion Within a listen...

P.S. -- Did I mention that's some killer artwork on the cover?  \m/

Rating:  4.0/5.0

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Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Back!

After much deliberation, I've decided to reopen my music blog.  I'll be focusing primarily on music reviews as before, with a bit of other material thrown in for good effect.

In the next couple of weeks, be looking for the following content:

  • Indominous - Legion Within review
  • Pylon - A Lament review 
  • and more to come!

God bless!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Blood Thirsty - "Sanguine River Absolution" Review

            A man staggers from his horse, falling to his knees at the bank of the river.  With difficulty he shrugs off his armor, his hands stained russet with the remnants of his passage.  He presses a hand to his side, and it comes away darker, mixing his own lifeblood with that of his enemies’.  He takes off his helm and drops his halberd in the rocks at the edge of the river.  With great effort he crawls towards the water, his right fist clenching and unclenching, filled with bloody gravel.  Then he is at the stream; he has arrived.  The warrior plunges his hands deep into the river, splashing cool water on his rugged, upturned face.  For a moment, at least, he feels peace descend on his spirit, and he forgets the terrible deeds that have gone before.  He has come through the storm, through death, and has found hope and forgiveness in the cleansing waters of the stream.
            How can a music album evoke such a strong image?  Melding the bone-crushing heaviness of traditional death metal with a symphonic background, Blood Thirsty’s debut album Sanguine River Absolution is a call to battle for the stalwart metal fan.  The one-man project, led by Derek Corzine, is influenced by bands such as Crimson Thorn and Cannibal Corpse; however, through the shredding guitars and bone-jarring drumming, melodic portions more reminiscent of bands such as Extol and Dimmu Borgir float to the surface.  Continuing in the vein of his band Syringe, Corzine writes intense, driving melodic guitar riffs that should please fans of In Flames and Immortal Souls.
            “Slaughtering Sin” begins with a deep, chugging guitar line reminiscent of Meshuggah, but it’s clear that this a horse of a different color as the keys come in after a few moments.  Throughout the record, Corzine does an excellent job of paying tributes to some of the greats in death metal without merely aping or reproducing what these bands have accomplished.  At one moment heavy bass and down-tuned guitar have me convinced I’m listening to Broken Flesh; the next moment my senses are indulged by a melodic portion that wouldn’t be out of place on an Extol record.  “Mercy of the Storm” is one of the most epic and refined tracks on Sanguine River Absolution.  The guitar line falls like a deluge of acid rain, bringing to mind I Built the Cross; a chugging, audible bass line is the proverbial cherry on top of the milkshake.  “When the Flesh Explodes” takes the band briefly into thrash metal territory and also showcases higher-pitched black metal shrieks.  “Scared to Death” boasts the most unique guitar work on the album, alternating between scaling riffs and orchestral portions.  The song is further bolstered by skillfully executed time changes and slamming bass lines that immediately bring to mind Mortification’s Steve Rowe during the Scrolls era.  Sanguine River Absolution ends with “Behold, the Fire,” which is certainly a unique track.  From the screams of tortured souls to the uplifting guitar solo at the end of the track, the listener will certainly find an engaging experience.
            Overall, the album fits together very well and each instrument is executed professionally, which is no given with a one-man band.  Vocals, guitar, and bass really shine on this record; however, one area for improvement would be in the drumming.  I was looking for a few more detailed fills and perhaps even a solo or two; setting up a drum pattern that is then taken on by the guitars and developed throughout the song would be fitting here.  The production on the record is solid, but I feel that it could be improved in regards to orchestration.  The orchestration sounds a bit thin and reedy in a few areas.  A solid plus, though, is that the orchestration is mixed at the right level compared to the other instruments; it isn’t drowned out or overbearing.  Overall, this is a record that is intelligently put together.  Blood Thirsty captivates the senses and doesn’t let go until the last chord fades out.
            While fans of traditional death metal will find tons of material to enjoy on Sanguine River Absolution, the album is especially tailored with fans of bands like Renascent, Extol, Dimmu Borgir, and Betraying the Martyrs in mind.  Derek Corzine is an experienced metal man, and in terms of a debut album, Blood Thirsty has nailed it.  It doesn’t get much better than this.
Rating:  4.5/5.0

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blood Thirsty Review Forthcoming!

In the next few days, look for a review of symphonic death metal band Blood Thirsty's new album Sanguine River Absolution.

Here's a song from the album to whet your appetite.