Monday, February 25, 2013

Review of "Baphometic Chaosium" by Lightning Swords of Death

Buy this album

1. Baphometic Chaosium
2. Acid Gate
3. Psychic Waters
4. Cloven Shields
5. Chained to Decay
6. R'Lyeh Wuurm
7. Epicyclarium
8. Oaken Chrysalis

It began nine years ago when a pact was made within a dilapidated house hidden in Southern California. It was here that Autarch, Roskva, and Menno found themselves in agreement that should the occult sciences be applied to their music, it would yield spectacular results. LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH, as it was later named, would be in itself a meticulously designed hyper-sigil, constructed to direct and antagonize the limitless dark energy that lurks within the less navigable chasms of the human mind, and in the space between spaces.

In 2007, the band unleashed The Golden Plague upon the earth, on the label. This declaration of unholy war inspired a tour of the West coast and the North Western blocks of the United States. Audiences witnessed performances by men possessed. LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH live continuously proved to be a conqueror's fury leaving an ashen stain on every stage they destroyed. The tour began sharing battleground with bands like Nachtmystium and High On Fire, and concluded with LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH opening for Danzig during the mighty "Blackest Of The Black" tour. This lead to a growing cult, while press reactions to The Golden Plague (recorded in Roskva's apartment) continued to glow like the embers of a raging pyre;

"I truly wanted to know how USBM crew LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH get their sound. It's seriously crushing and vicious and yet it sounds like it's 10 miles away. Or 10 miles underground. Uncanny. You know, it's an art sounding this fucked up. …'Let This Knife Lead You To Us' has a riff worth killing for." -- Decibel magazine

"a torrent of anguish" -- SOD magazine

"LSOD leave no face un-ripped with a blackened death approach that puts as much importance on memorable hooks and downtrodden groove as it does on blast beat blaspheme." -- Pit Magazine

The second release took the form of a split CD with comrades Valdur, which was only available for a limited time at performances during the country wide 2008 "Blodhevn" tour. Metal Maniacs called LSOD's content a "heavy, bestial and brutal assault bringing to mind a young and hungry Thornspawn."

The ubber rare split continues to infect all who experience its unyielding expression of true chaos, if they can track it down, and it was only a precursor of the grand and terrible horror that was already looming in the future, like a headsman's shadow.

In 2009, while continuing to push their brand of brazen black metal through their DYI attitude, the band supplied multiple tracks for the Sony PSP game UNDEAD KNIGHTS, as well as a track featured on the soundtrack for the horror/thriller movie Stepfather (October 2009). Shortly after the initiation of drummer Mike Vega, LSOD signed a worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records. In 2010, The Extra Dimensional Wound was recorded in Corona, CA at Trench Studios with Roska producing and John Haddad engineering. It was then mixed and mastered by Sverker "Necro" Widgren at Necromorbus Studios in Stockholm Sweden (Watain, Funeral Mist, Ondskapt).

The band's budding reputation as a relentless and "must see" black metal act also earned the band a coveted spot on the 2010 "Evangelia Amerika Tour," headlined by Behemoth and joined by Septic Flesh from Greece. The Extra Dimensional Wound was also followed by a 2010 US tour with German thrash legends Kreator! Not long after, the band was hand-picked to provide direct support for Immortal during their only Los Angeles appearance, and later invited to perform at the 2010 Scion Music Festival. Meanwhile, reviews continued to generate, in response to The Extra Dimensional Wound:

 "Forget about over hyped geographically-based black metal superiority. LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH is a jaw-breaking example of USBM strength. "The Extra Dimensional Wound" is pure Armageddon." —

"LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH set out to make their demons visible and to inject their dark knowledge into their music. There are many pretenders to that aim in black metal, but, as The Extra Dimensional Wound proves, few are as serious as a heart attack like these guys." — Music Emissions

"Autarch's words seem to come from another place, ethereal and disturbing. 'Nihilistic Stench's' double bass and blackened thrash, rips and shreds the flesh, until finally, 'Path to Chaos' gives the true sense of how much potential LSOD has with creating atmosphere, great song-writing, but most importantly, terror." — The Gauntlet

2012, nearly 7 years after the release of "The Golden Plague", LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH prepares to bring forth their third full length offering, the band's second release on Metal Blade. The band had appropriately become a five piece (completing the pentacle) with the recruitment of lead guitarist "Inverted" Chris Velez, before they began developing what is described as "devotional work", dedicated to their patron god - A mind altering experience compelled by the embodiment of chaos, death and ecstasy entitled Baphometic Chaosium. To record the psychedelic devilry, they returned to Trench Studios with John Haddad again seeing to the engineering with Roskva producing, no doubt to the delight of the tributed horned deity.

This album starts of with the track “Baphometic Chaosium” introducing you to the band through a great grim intro with snare march and guitars, with very technical bass riff, making it really interesting and incredible. The vocals sound really early black metal years like and brutal drums and chilling riffs keep this track intense the whole way through. A longer, six minute track, comes in the next track “Acid Gate” showing these guys definitely keep an old school sound to their black metal feel while including a new brutal touch to create a very tasty mix. It is a very catchy track and is a great heavy listen with an epic drum break. “Psychic Waters” brings very eerie guitars the whole way through, along with the drums adding to the insane sound. The gruelling vocals make this track an awesome one.

A nice ambient track follows entitled “Cloven Shields” to tingle your bones in between the insanity. The guitars sound especially menacing to begin “Chained to Decay” and the slower riff and whispers that follow are great. It is a slow track comparatively but definitely just as cold in its delivery. “R'Lyeh Wuurm” is a very stellar track with blast beats and riffs that don’t let up. It is quite the track to mosh to… with swords and spears! Another epic, seven minute long masterpiece, follows with the track “Epicyclarium” bringing a great mix of brutality and slower grooves that leaves you in a dark cold wintery forest alone. The riff after the brief break was epic how each guitar stood out and creates one amazing piece. What a way to end an album but with catchy grooves and riffs to pillage to on the closing track “Oaken Chrysalis.”

Combining my favourite two subgenres of metal, black and death, Lightning Swords of Death, leave me wanting more as they tear apart my ears in the most enjoyable way possible. With Autarch’s vocals which feel really old school, Roskva and Inverted Chris taking care of the grim guitars, Menno ripping the bass in an incredible way, and M. Vega tearing apart the drums, this band is solid and have perfected their craft. Pick this up if you enjoy blackened death metal!

Review of "Barbarian Winter" by Raven Black Night

Buy this album

1. Fire in Your Eyes
2. Morbid Gladiator
3. Mystery Woman
4. Fallen Angel
5. Black Queen
6. If You Choose the Dark
7. Warriors Call
8. Barbarian Winter
9. Changes
10. Lips of Desire
11. Nocturnal Birth
12. Angel with a Broken Wing

It was late 1999 when Jim Petkoff, the white knight [guitar/vox], and Rino Amoriono, the raven [guitar], met over a cold beer in Adelaide, South Australia: the city of churches and where AC/DC found Bon Scott. This would mark the beginning of Raven Black Night's campaign to bring their traditional metal sound to a worldwide audience.

After deciding to form a doom/heavy metal band, they enlisted Matt Spencer the black night [bass], and Jeremy the godfather on drums. They began building a formidable live reputation, with a style of metal that appealed to many varieties of metal heads in their home town. With their stage adourned with swords, shields, and candles, they spent 2003-2006 criss-crossing Australia, performing at various metal festivals and underground clubs. Drummer Joe Toscano was brought into the band and their first album, Choose The Dark, was recorded and released in 2005.

Choose The Dark garnered praise throughout Australia and Europe, and a track from was chosen for Germany's Heavy magazine's compilation featuring unsigned artists. This all culminated into an invitation in 2007 to perform at the 10th annual Headbangers Open Air in Germany, where the band performed with Candlemass, Rage, and many others.

Several years of touring and festival appearances were to follow: Hard and Heavy summer nights, the Hamburg ballroom, and more dates throughout Australia. In 2010-2011 Jim, Rino with Chris on bass enlisted Matt Enright to record new material for their long awaited follow up cd.

Jim and Rino are prepared to take the Raven Black Night's sound of true metal/doom rock to a global audience. A new partnership with Metal Blade Records and a new album, which is now being written, will firmly place Raven Black Night on the world map of true heavy metal.

Raven Black Night brought a nice change with the old school feel, with the first track “Fire in Your Eyes” showing off catchy riffs. The solo was great as well and vocalist was impressive, pulling off a few highs, gaining my interest right off the bat. The next track, “Morbid Gladiator,” is a great track for bass. It also has another impressive solo and is definitely a shorter track, but is groovy and heavy the whole way through. The guitars on “Mystery Woman” are really heavy and the accompanying vocals gaining in volume added to it. The solo was great especially when the high yells come in. Another track that felt a little short comparatively was “Fallen Angel.” Bring really amazing riffs the whole way through, and incredible solo, and vocals as well.

“Black Queen” is a track that has everything Raven Black Night is good at providing, with some heavy sludgy grooves and solos that make you want to put down your guitar. The great vocal range of Jim Petkoff adds things to the mix. Bringing a clean heavy metal style is the next track, “If You Choose the Dark.” The thing I always enjoyed about this style was how apparent the bass is and its groove along with the solos and the riffs are very catchy, making this one of my favourites. A seven second spoken word in the form of “Warriors Call” gets you ready for the monster of a track, coming in at nine minutes, “Barbarian Winter.” The first riff felt a bit grim which is always awesome, but the track feels a little like ballad with how slow the track felt. Solos in between verses were great, and kept my interest. The last two minutes of this track blew me away bringing dirty gutturals I didn’t know were possible from this band.

“Changes” is a very slow and soft spoken track which, this time around, is definitely ballad sounding. It’s a little cheesy to me, but it isn’t a bad track. The guitars on “Lips of Desire” really come off well from the previous track’s feel. With lots of squeal-y guitars on this track, as well as solos, this track seems to mostly be all about the guitars as that’s all you can really pay attention to as they are all over the place. There’s a really great slow groove to the next track, each instrument seemed to stick out nicely making it a great listen. Half way through it picks up with great solos and a heavier feel although it is a mostly mellow track but great to listen to. A perfect mix of heavy and mellow brings the album to a close on the track “Angel with a Broken Wing, with solos galore and catchy riffs”and even more incredible vocals with highs. This track ends at five minutes in and after a little while of silence there is a short bonus track.

This band is a really tight heavy metal band, bringing old styles back. The grooves and impressive solos and the amazing vocal range of Jim Petkoff as well as accompanying guitars by Rino the Raven make this band in my opinion. I really wish there was more growls as seen in the track “Warriors Call.” They were surprising to say the least and I liked the change a lot from the normal highs. If you like heavy metal and even a little death metal you should check these guys out.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review of "Reach Beyond the Sun" by Shai Hulud

Buy this album

1. The Mean Spirits, Breathing
2. I, Saturnine
3. Reach Beyond the Sun
4. A Human Failing
5. Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With the Pain of Living
6. Medicine to the Dead
7. To Suffer Fools
8. Think the Adder Benign
9. Monumental Graves
10. If a Mountain Be My Obstacle
11. At Least a Plausible Case for Pessimism

Reach Beyond the Sun, the fourth entry in Shai Hulud's storied catalog, will see its release in February of 2013. The album was produced by current New Found Glory guitarist, Chad Gilbert, and notably, vocalist on Hulud's debut LP Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion. In addition to producing, Gilbert also returned to sing on the album - his first offering of recorded vocals with the band in over a decade. Not unlike Shai Hulud's previous releases, Reach Beyond the Sun was born of several years of toiling before ever entering a studio. The band's previous effort, Misanthropy Pure, a polished, metallic and frenzied piece of masterwork, is contrasted by the much more visceral, instinctively compositional songs found on Reach Beyond the Sun, an embracement of the raw Hardcore/Punk elements that sit at the cornerstone of the band's influences. Longtime bass player Mad Matt Fletcher asserts, "Anyone who really knows the band will agree this album is our definitive sound, encompassing all of our different influences and styles." He conclusively reiterates, "Yep, this sounds like Shai Hulud."

"Shai Hulud comes from the isolated corner of hardcore where a screaming voice has meaning and purpose. (Their) lyrics empower and inspire. A gift of perspective, if not of true insight." - Nick Pierce / Shai Hulud fan

Lyrically, Shai Hulud continues to evoke deeper thought, and a range of true human emotions practically unique to the band as the modern underground often shies away from depth for fear of the vulnerability of inner exposure. Shai Hulud affirms "True strength is inviolate" in the song "Monumental Graves," and introspectively queries "Is ours, indeed, a sunless path to waiting graves we prepare for ourselves?" and "Will we bring our hearts back to life?" in the songs "I, Saturnine" and "A Human Failing," respectively, boldly turning their insides out. Regarding "A Human Failing," a song about a generation willing to turn numb in lieu of a life of pain and feeling, guitar player Matt Fox comments "It's become 'cool' to be cold. No pun intended." In the interest of challenging misinterpreted notions of pessimism, the song "Think The Adder Benign" professes "No, I do not believe roses only bloom just to conceal the thorns. I merely accept the thorn pricked finger bleeds" while "To Suffer Fools" maintains the band's active frustration and misanthropy, a trait by which Shai Hulud are notorious: "Pour the salts of acumen straight into the eyes to recondition the mind."

In recording Reach Beyond the Sun, Shai Hulud welcomed the vocal talents of accomplished friends from throughout the hardcore community. Fans will note guest vocals from: Jay Pepito (Reign Supreme, Blacklisted) on "A Human Failing, John Vigil (The Ghost Inside) on "If A Mountain be My Obstacle," Louis Hernandez (Alpha & Omega) on "Man Into Demon," all officially recorded former Hulud vocalists Matt Mazalli, Damien Moyal, and Geert van der Velde on "Medicine to the Dead," as well as additional vocals throughout the album from the likes of Justin Krauss (With Life In Mind), Martin Stewart (Donnybrook, Terror), David Wood (Down To Nothing, Terror), among others."

Since the release of Misanthropy Pure in 2008, Shai Hulud has toured Europe, Southeast Asia, Canada, the US, and Mexico. Most recently, the band appeared at the Revelation Records 25th Anniversary shows, both in LA and New York. Plans are already beginning to unfold for 2013, beginning with Shai Hulud's trek to Australia for the first time as part of Soundwave 2013, which also features Metallica, Blink 182, The Offspring, Slayer, and many more. More plans are beginning to unfold in support of Reach Beyond the Sun, which will invariably see Hulud performing in front of more fans, new and old, than ever before.

Within Reach Beyond The Sun is found the glimmer of hope emerging as a keen perception of reality on a gridlocked battleground of grim pessimism versus unthinking optimism - a conflicting array of swirling thoughts and depth of emotion, honestly illustrating and defining the beauty and tragedy of the human experience. To the backdrop of progressive, metallic Hardcore/Punk, Shai Hulud is thinking and expressing in perpetual forward motion.

Onward and upward. Always. Forever.

The album starts with the very fast paced punk infused hardcore stylings of the first track, “The Mean Spirits, Breathing.” Bringing everything I enjoy about the hardcore genre, with mellow pieces thrown in for good measure, hopefully this is what the whole album sounds like. The second track, “I, Saturnine,” has a really slow melodic groove to it, but it was complimented with the sludgy sounding riffs. The tracks are a little short on this album, I kind of wish they were longer. The first riff on the album title track, “Reach Beyond the Sun,” sounded a little chilling which was awesome and the harmonized parts and the bits surrounding them were nice. It was a great melodic track but did not give up on keeping a heavy feel. “A Human Failing” has a great mix of mellow and heavy riffs, but is definitely a more mellowed out track.

The next track has the longest I have heard in a while which is called “Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With the Pain of Living.” The riffs on this track are very catchy in their delivery, with some nice chugging bits as well. Also the guitars don’t know if they want to be happy and melodic or heavy and evil, which is creates a nice combination. A really fast paced track comes next in the form of “Medicine to the Dead” with some mellow parts as well, but overall it’s a pretty moshtastic track. There is a great slow break near the end with some great screams and melodic riffs to accompany them. “To Suffer Fools” sounded so black metal, I was even sure if I was listening to the same band, which made this a great listen for me anyway. I really liked it and it definitely has to be one of my favourites. Another heavy yet melodic track follows with “Think the Adder Benign.” Some of the riffs felt a little repetitive but they aren’t too bad.

“Monumental Graves” had some very catchy riffs and the mellow breaks were nice as well with the sludge that turned into some even dirtier riffage. The melodic riff which concluded on a chug in the next track “If a Mountain Be My Obstacle” was very badass sounding. It is definitely a great track for guitar as they are very heavy and grimy feeling. Bringing a great fast paced melodic track to finish off the album is “
At Least a Plausible Case for Pessimism”. It also has some heavy parts as well, and was a nice way to finish the album.

Shai Hulud really surprised me as they brought to the table all the aspects I like about the hardcore genre. Bringing melodic, yet heavy, riffs from Matt Fox and Matt Fletcher as well as a unique vocal style coming from Chad Gilbert, this band has a super tight sound. The only thing missing in my opinion is some breakdowns. My opinion really doesn’t matter though because that’d be changing the bands overall sound. These guys are excellent and are worth a listen.