- Queen of Black Magic (Mondo Macabro)
- Living Corpse (Mondo Macabro)
- Your American Teen (CTG Films)
- Electric Button (Moon & Cherry – MVD Visual)
- Keith Lowell Jensen – Elf Orgy (MVD)
- Original Adventures: Gumby’s Best Episodes (Legend Films)
- Elizabeth Taylor: An Unauthorized Biography (Legend Films)
- Classic All-star Commercials (Legend Films)
- Liberace: The World’s Greatest Showman (Legend Films)
- Action Heroes of the Cliffhanger Serials
Posts by Goran:
This is Fetal Decay’s second full-length album, and it’s a marriage of brutality and technicality. Perhaps the easiest comparison is with Dying Fetus – just like them, this Russian combo have some typical mid-paced grooving going on – it’s not quite slam death, but it’s slamming still. Amidst the chords, high-pitched and veloce licks spice up the songs. However, Fetal Decay isn’t always straightforward and aims for a bit of special effects. Odd pitch harmonics and flanger-like processing on the lead guitar make for some variation, but I’m not sure if it’s always an improvement. I have to admit I was taken by surprise by some fine guitar wizardry, but after a couple of songs the repeated use of sweep patterns and (after a while, annoying) harmonics will do, thanks very much. Oh yeah, the drums are programmed, but with a knowledgeable approach and production. The result is quite ‘realistic’ – props to the mastermind-guitarist. All in all, “You have no choice” conveys serious musicianship and if you want to calculate the chances you’ll like it: think about how much you’re into Dying Fetus.
Whoa. I suspected something brutal for sure, but the amount of technical prowess surpasses everything on this album. Simply put, Monumental Torment is to be classified along bands like Origin, Braindrill, Viraemia, Spawn of Possession, etcetera. Love those? Then this is for you – otherwise, skip it. There, that was the conclusion up front. The drums are programmed, but even though some gravity blasts are extreeeeeeme, the sound and grooves are convincing. The relentless display of guitar proficiency is quite jaw-dropping, granted your mouth or anus don’t snap shut when hearing sweeps sounding like a Nintendo 8-bit MIDI tune. A good thing that, occasionally, there’s a brief focus on some chunky chords. But even without that and despite all the high-speed chaos, there’s a constant rhythm that – believe it or not – allows for headbanging in the midst of this musical hurricane. Respect for the skills, both technical and compositional.
Well, this is an awkward one. The band’s moniker actually stands for Consortium of Human Resistants from Yuggoth for the Search and Exploration of Irregular Systems. Also know that the drummer’s alias is Uruk-Xul and that he writes the lyrics. Enough said? Anyway, the music is as creepy as you might’ve guessed. First of all, this is supposed to be classified under death/thrash, but in my book that’s only because it fits nowhere else. The album is essentially a drag of synth atmospherics, and plain riffs and beats where any song-level structure seems to be missing. No song has a memorable or even remotely catchy tune – except for the occasional interesting passage. The vocalist isn’t really cutting it either, perhaps it’s the music that makes him sound thin. And I don’t know what’s with the mix, but one or another frequency is annoying and tiring my ears beyond belief.
I don’t feel inclined to listen again to, or write much more about, Chryseis. This “techno thrash” thing might appeal to some, but I’m missing most aspects that a compelling album should have.
I once held Agnosys’s EP in my hands, which dates from 2004. For some reason, they have not released anything until 2011. But the debut full-length, Alterations, has finally arrived. The lengthy songs are typically Agnosys, and they’re packed with multifaceted melodic death metal. Indeed the band explore every element in every direction: the drums range basic beats to blasts and kick rolls, guitars go acoustic now and then (and on the second track, amazingly enough, over some blast beats). Dito for the vocals: name it, you got it. Even the bass guitar showcases a strong sense of (independent) melody and fulfills its role perfectly – filling the lower frequencies while the guitars are winging in the upper registers.
The tracks roll along smoothly, with just one drawback: Agnosys’s compositions miss a sort of spark. The tunes are heavier than, for example, older In Flames or Dark Tranquillity. Those enthralling progressions are missed here, however Alterations has some very strong passages, of which most are of the blast beat and tremolo sort. Straightforward songwriting, yet offering plenty of variations within the set confines. I suppose Agnosys may be considered as a proxy of French melodeath.
Swedish death metal meets metalcore? Sounds enthralling, but the most generic intro riff ever made me lower my expectations a tad. On the other hand, Kali Yuga’s music does simulates what’s been promised. First off, they got the sound right: the guitars are heavy and greasy – a thick and uncompromising distortion that really shines on the lower strings. What I furthermore really like are those “Swedish death metal” licks: let the kick drums roll and toss a catchy tremolo melody on top. Simple, but effective. Even the vocals are up to par, if they want to. The “metalcore” passages aren’t too shabby either, but their construction and harmonies are nothing out of the ordinary… on the contrary. Still, a sense of cohesion keeps the tracks interesting enough. The only thing that continuously bothers me are the drums. The production’s good, I love the solid double kick runs… But that’s about all that’s happening. For the love of God, throw in an off-beat, some triplets, a measure of blast beats, anything that will keep me on my toes. Sometimes less is more, in this case less is plain boring.
All in all, not a bad release, with fair songwriting and a quite powerful sound. As far as I’m concerned, drop the cheesy metalcore and dig deeper into that old school riffage. Should work out nicely.
“The strongest will” – an album title lending itself perfectly for a semi-witty review closing line, in case the music sucks ass. But from the start it’s clear that these Frenchies got a cool thing going on. With an old school feel, the guitars are up front in the mix and grinding away to their heart’s content. Track after track, we witness an outpouring of unmerciful riffs, with a dry and harsh tone exactly right for the job. Of course, the percussion and vocals are up to par and the ideal partners for the guitar lines, yet production-wise it feels that the guitars are the engine of this death machine. I can only greet this with a thumbs up – I can’t stand mixes where the guitars are pushed back by the drum and vocal volumes.Withdrawn thus brings a splendid offering of death metal – at heart it’s quite straightforward, but the band have put effort in their compositions. There’s regularly that one riff or beat that’s got a unique touch or unexpected progression. I’ve thought now and then that they were nearing the border of overdoing it (and losing quality because of that), but they’ve never crossed it. I take my hat off to Withdrawn, for being able to stand so solidly in a tradition whilst sounding out of the box and appealing.
Evilenko has had a worthwhile gig career since its inception (2007), the summit being Graspop 2011. I was surprised in twofold: firstly because “Human (disg)Race” is their debut album, and secondly because the album’s quality is blatantly mediocre. I can see why their live gigs would do well: the beats and rhythms are straightforward, and headbangability is most easily achieved with similar tunes (especially when the venue’s sound sucks, the underlying groove makes or breaks the audience’s reception). But those same riffs, in a studio environment, come across as lackluster and uninspired. The thrash spirit is present, but you have to dig for it. It’s hidden under the flat production, and between a bunch of other riffs. Indeed, the mixing is flat (I have no better word) and it gets tiresome after about half a minute. And even when listening past the production, it’s hard to find impressive licks, a song climax or a rhythm shift.Well, what I just said, or just take a look at the album cover. Same thing. This release was perhaps a miscalculation on the label’s behalf, but it won’t make it into my collection.
The band’s moniker is rather… deviant, but their musical output less so. Opening track “Hate Mask” features beat down riff structures, and without the atmospheric interludes it would’ve been a lost cause already. Other songs are composed in a similar fashion: textbook death metal build-ups are the band’s core product. But in every song, there’s a tricky riff, a semi-acoustic passage, or a guitar lead that seem to break the mood with a completely new scale. And these strongpoints allow the Frenchies a foothold in your musical curiosity. Sometimes it’s none of the aforementioned, but simply a reminiscence of Cannibal Corpse that’s drawing the focus: you know the band has the correct recipe, but of course it never tastes the same as the original. The album isn’t overproduced, but sounds raw and powerful enough.
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I recently came across “Woest als een horde”, Myrkvar’s debut, again. I was fairly enthusiastic during the original review, but when I listened after all those years, the album seemed a bit lacklustre. Myrkvar appear to have improved, though, as the opening tracks strongly suggest. At heart, the band is still about straightforward, sing- or even dance-along tunes. But “Voorspelling” shows more complex layering than before, and carries some dissonant tones: it’s less easy to cope with, but all the more interesting for a focused listener. Despite the jolly pace, the songs waver between catchy rhythms and pointless twiddling – “Gjallarhoorn” felt like it was going nowhere, until a sudden, sweet violin-guitar dialogue kicks in. The violin and synth usually perform a neat job. They constitute a vital part of Myrkvar’s sound (duh, it’s folk metal) but are sometimes dangerously close to the cheesiness zone. The intermittent bursts and dead-on tunes are keeping the songs alive – when the violin is dragging it out, the buoyancy is quickly fading. Ultimately, the previous album was listenable, and the sophomore is better. So the conclusion can be modestly optimistic. Try before you buy.
Bitterness equals old school thrash. That’s a very plain statement, but it’s a simple truth, no more, no less. The first song opens with traditional up-tempo thrash drumming, so watch out for any nearby spastic kids: seizure imminent. It’s the band’s third album, and they know their business by now. The tracks rush by, one by one, none too memorable but all groovy as fuck. The raspy vocals – often so layered it sounds like a whole boysband – and (snare) reverb make it sound just right, even a bit authentic old school.The title track makes a solitary change of course: black metal blast/tremolo sections and melodic interjections. Perhaps surprisingly, the blackish passages show the band from a quite interesting angle. Likewise, “One Way Ride” conjures a progressive atmosphere, which is unique on the album.In either case, Bitterness has catchy tunes. Most riffs have drive and emotion, the vocals push everything even more forward. Certainly a fun one to add to the playlist now and again.