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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.

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.

Monday, June 2, 2014

War of Ages Gears Up for New Album

War of Ages is preparing to release a new album called Supreme Chaos via Facedown in the near future.  Stay tuned for more information!  Check out this pic from their most recent photo shoot.


Visit the band on their FACEBOOK.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ascendant - "Serenity" Album Review





           Denmark metal band Ascendant has released their second album, an EP entitled Serenity.  Whereas their first album The Alteration had elements of hardcore, death, and black metal, Serenity showcases Ascendant branching out into other areas, namely doom and progressive metal. 
Undoubtedly, one of the most impressive aspects of this record is the vocals.  Frontman Josua Poulsen shrieks and gurgles through the album like a rabid wolf bent on the annihilation of a legion of innocents.  He is supported in this endeavor by bassist Jens Gronhoj.  Certain moments stand out for their diversity – the shouted vocals on “The Void” that immediately bring to mind Ian Arkley from Seventh Angel to the singing and spoken lines on the closer “The Foundation.”  Guitarist Kristoffer Vammen does an adequate job of intertwining driving guitar passages with melodic leads and some memorable riffs; however, branching out more into solo territory would bring the record to a whole new level.  A simplistic, invigorating solo in the style of Iron Maiden or a solo that slowly builds up with sheer melodic intensity, like the one on Extol’s “Undeceived,” would be appropriate for their style of music. I do very much appreciate the outro on “The Void” – more moments like this would make a more memorable record.  One area that the band could improve in is in the drums and bass.  There is certainly nothing wrong with either of these on Serenity, but I find that the more I listen to metal music, that it is these two elements that separate good bands from great bands.  Utilization of the bass guitar as more than just an instrument to hold down the low end of the chord (like in “The Foundation”) and the inclusion of more drum fills and even solos would help to set this fledgling band apart from the competition. 
The band scores big with their opener and closer on the record, and I keep coming back to these songs, but somewhere in the middle Ascendant seems to have lost their creative edge.  There wasn’t enough variety.  The inclusion of more instruments for melodic passages would serve the band well in the future – keys, acoustic, strings, etc. – and keep the listener more engaged.  Some slow, doomy or even sludgy passages would be great.  I also think that the band should elaborate on the best things going for them.  This includes diversity in the vocal arrangements.  I was also impressed by the tempo changes in the music, notably on “The Foundation.”  Pulling this off can be tricky, but the band nailed it.  Jens and Levi, who wrote the lyrics, also do a phenomenal job.  In a few places they are cut and dry, portraying the band’s Christian faith.  In others, they are more philosophical and even poetic, as on “Serene:”  “Rippling water dripping from the last winter snow // between walls of steel and stone I found you flourish.”
               A newcomer to the field of metal mayhem is often cast aside, plowed under, or phases out within a release or two – but Ascendant is a band that has great potential if they continue to develop their sound and talent.  Keep an eye on these guys from Denmark – better yet, keep two eyes on them, or you might miss something wonderful.

Rating:  3.5/5.0

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Brutal Cross - "At War" Album Review






In nature there is life and there is death; there is beauty and there is harshness; there is splendor and there is terror.  Our world is patterned in dichotomy, and it should be no different with music.  Brutal Cross is a death metal band that exemplifies this truth, as they cross gurgling vocals and tonal ruggedness with blissful symphonic music.  At War, the band’s third full-length album, is the pinnacle of their career and an archetype of diversity.
                The Polish-turned-Irish band is the brainchild of Tomasz Sulowski, who performs all of the instruments and vocals.  Some one-man bands are decidedly lacking in at least one area, but to Sulowski’s credit, I wasn’t even aware that he was the only one behind the reins until I did some research.  The vocals are a midrange growl that could find a home in either death or black metal.  One of the most impressive aspects of the record is definitely the guitars.  They have a meaty, crunchy tone that harkens back to the glory days of death metal.  Melodic riffs abound on At War, and some of these sections bring to mind Death’s Sound of Perseverance with their tenacity and clout.  There also seems to be a degree of influence from Scrolls-era Mortification and early Lament.  The listener will find symphonic and melodic elements interspersed amidst the traditional elements of death and black metal, which makes Brutal Cross stand out from among the myriads.  The keys grip you and don’t let go, adding an element of melodic diversity to the record.  The band is decidedly Christian, weaving faith-inspired lyrics throughout the music.
                The mixing quality is a bit rough around the edges, although with this caliber of death metal that’s not really an issue; for some, it may be a positive element.  However, the instrumental balance bothers me somewhat.  For some reason, a number of the symphonic portions seem to be a bit too loud, and the low end is more or less buried.  At War contains 14 tracks of varying lengths, without any overly long songs and only one short instrumental (“Outro”).  Songs like “Cult” and “Occult” have some creepy instrumentation, and this serves to keep the record interesting towards the middle.  “Born Again” showcases a driving, melodic intensity, and “War Cry” is the closest that the band comes to thrash metal.  There is a bit of clean singing on the tracks “Silence on the Cross” and “At War.”  I am unconvinced that this suits the bands’ overall style, and as a critic I would have to say that this element may only distract and put off some death metal fans.  At War recovers with “Sea of Despair,” a well-layered track that pushes towards an eerie guitar solo, and then closes out with a short instrumental.
                Fans of death metal will find it well worth their time to check out this relatively unknown band.  Brutal Cross delivers an intriguing meld of death metal and melody, all without sacrificing creativity or quality.  Truly, Brutal Cross is aptly named – they are a vehicle of brutality and destruction, infused with hope and beauty.

Rating:  4.0/5.0
                 
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

ForChristSake - "Apocalyptic Visions of Divine Terror" Album Review


 

The clouds of the heavens roll back and the White Rider descends with eyes of blazing fire, come to rain judgment upon the Earth.  The hordes of evil cower under a fierce onslaught of rolling guitars and drums as relentless growling rents the air.  If the human mind can truly fathom the wanton destruction that comes with the end times, certainly ForChristSake has hit a chord of verisimilitude with their extreme metal debut Apocalyptic Visions of Divine Terror.
Apocalyptic Divisions of Divine Terror is a carefully crafted album that plunges into multiple metal subgenres.  The band draws influence from legendary acts like Bolt Thrower in its thrashy riffs and driving melodies, while the breakneck pace, drumming, and shouting that is interspersed with the death growls is reminiscent of Living Sacrifice’s album Inhabit.  Intermingled amidst this wealth of diversity are black metal shrieks, symphonic pieces, melodic riffs, and even some singing.  These elements all mesh together to create an enjoyable, diverse album for the listener.   A few highlights from the album include the driving thrash monster “At the Gates of Depravity,” the heroic, guitar-shredding “Serpent Rises,” and the groove-laden “Necronemesis.”
While these elements all blend together to create a highly enjoyable, intricate album, Apocalyptic Visions of Divine Terror is merely a stepping stone towards a higher pinnacle.  It’s a step in the right direction, but the band still has a few things to tweak.  The album is extensive in length, with 16 tracks.  For the average prog lover, this isn’t any problem.  For some thrash and death metal heads, this may be more of an issue.  ForChristSake keeps it captivating enough that you won’t lose interest easily, but it’s still a monolith of sound that takes a firm will to tackle all at once.  Cutting a few of the songs off of the top would have made the album more accessible to the casual listener.  While the production is excellent, there is still some work to do to create a perfect balance between the different musical elements that appear on the album.
If the band continues to experiment with different styles of music, and they grow more cohesive as a unit, they have immense potential.  Death, thrash, and black metal fans alike will find many aspects of Apocalyptic Visions of Divine Terror enjoyable.  So what are you waiting for?  Put on your headphones, tune out the world around you, and experience a new vision of terror and mayhem.

  Rating:  3.5/5.0

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