Cadaveria – Silence

This is Cadaveria’s fifth album, “Silence”, released by Scarlet Records in November 2014. The sound of the band can be considered atmospheric doom/death metal, with an emphasis on the gothic and horror style – although you could simply call it “dark metal”. Musically, some strong influences include old Katatonia, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost (mainly the style of “Icon” era). Also, the horror atmosphere reminds a bit of Cradle of Filth, even though the actual sound is much different. Although very atmospheric, the album has a somewhat groovy style as well. The lyrics are interesting, they have to do with dark and tense emotional states, but also addressing issues of the spiritual/supernatural realm, such as the afterlife.
More specifically about the music, the guitar tone is very good – makes most of the dark atmosphere – and the riffs are in general nice and memorable. The male vocals – although they give somewhat of a “juvenile” feeling – which personally is not my favourite style – fit a lot with the overall sound and atmosphere. The female vocals are very pleasant and clear-sounding, sure a significant part of the general sound of the album. The other instruments play their part, offering nice but not very technical playing, as there more significance is given to the atmosphere. The keyboards are used in a subtle, smart way, without being at the front too much..
I would say some highlights here are the single “Carnival of Doom” – very catchy, and the riffs, the verses and the chorus all rule, “The Soul That Doesn’t Sleep”, “Existence”, “Loneliness” – maybe my favourite, love how it changes from the riff-driven verse part to the slower melodic chorus part, plus it has a good combination of personal and spiritual lyrics, and finally the closing track “Strangled Idols”. and finally the closing track “Strangled Idols”.
In conclusion, I found this album to be consistent, with a good balance between atmosphere and catchiness, each track complementing to the overall feeling and offering its own value. Not something that really stands out for me though – the male vocal style and the similarity in the guitar sound (especially regarding the riffs) can be a little tiring after a while – I see it more as a solid recording adding a small stone to the great mountain of the atmospheric metal genre.

(originally written for the Portuguese webzine “Heaven Is Not Too Far”)

Inkilina Sazabra – Maldita(mente)

Inkilina Sazabra is a modern rock band from Portugal, with strong influences from darkwave and industrial genres. The steady members are Carlos Sobral and Pedro Sazabra, although other persons have joined when needed. “Maldita(mente)” is their third album, just released now (late 2014) by Dicepeca Records. The sound is half rock and half electronic – or you can just call it industrial. Although the overall style is a bit similar through the whole album, each track has a somewhat different sound – some tend closer to the goth/darkwave feeling, while in others there are elements which can almost be considered power noise. The language gives a bit of a strange atmosphere (at least for a foreign speaker), but mostly in a good way. Most of the album is kind of upbeat – groovy and dancey – but without losing its dark feeling.
One thing I want to mention here is the clever use of keyboards and samples. At times they almost give a horror feeling. Moreover, the drumming, even if it has totally electronic style (probably a drum machine is used), it is used in an interesting way. Some loops – especially these that are a bit “noisy” – are cool, you sure won’t get bored regarding the beats and rhythms here. The guitar has a nice distortion tone, and I like that is used both as an electric and acoustic (without distortion) instrument. The vocalist has a strong accent and his voice is expressive – a bit harsh I’d say at at times – giving the band its main personality. To be fair, after listening, I cannot imagine these songs with a different vocalist, heh. However, I cannot speak about the lyrics themselves as I do not know Portuguese. Finally, the production is very good, as it should be for a modern band of this sound.
On to the actual tracks… “Oiço conselhos demais” is probably the “hit” of the album (also released as a single), very dancey and reminiscent of the classic darkwave sound, but with an industrial edge. Probably ideal for the dancefloor! “Desejo Maldito” is another single, the verses are a bit on the ballad side, with a nice acoustic guitar sound and a somewhat “mediterranean” edge I’d say. “Aos Mortos” has some thunder-like moments, particularly the combination of guitar and harsh vocals, and it’s nice that these moments are altered with some other more light and “playful” where the keyboards are used vividly. “Lado Negativo” has also some cool upbeat keyboards, giving a synth-pop / dark electro edge. Some songs have more atmospheric use of keyboards, a bit of the ambient side – like “Psico”, which opens with an almost ominous piano playing, and “Ao Longe” – where I love the atmosphere, these keyboards remind somewhat of the Brian Eno sound. But these serve more as “calm before the storm” parts, as the usual hard assault is soon to come! I could go on and on about the songs, there are lots of interesting moments in the whole album, with a moderate diversity to keep enough your attention span. Some songs can be considered kind of “filler” or a bit spineless, but even these offer something worth, and can be enjoyable. Sometimes you can even be overwhelmed with all these moods, sounds and rhythms, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Well, I do not have something else to say, in case you haven’t realized yet, it’s a very good album! There are elements of rock, darkwave, industrial, even a bit of noise and ambient – if you enjoy these genres you will never get bored with this album!

(originally written for the Portuguese webzine “Heaven Is Not Too Far”)

Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution

“Earthborn Evolution” is the second album by the Canadian band Beyond Creation (the first one is “The Aura”), released in October 2014 by Season of Mist. It can be described as technical or progressive death metal. However, it is more than just death metal with difficult playing or dynamic tempo changes – the album seems to be progressive in all its glory, as the song titles, concepts and overall aesthetic show an “intelligent” and scientific character – just a look at the album cover is enough to convince you so!
What seems to be really good about this album is that manages to find the thin line between actual songwriting and “wankery”. There is a lot of uber-technical parts, yet it does not seem too chaotic or disorganised – at least for a listener who is fond of such sound. Musically it reminds a lot of the band Gorguts – also from Quebec, Canada and lately signed in Season of Mist – but other giants of the genre such as Atheist and Cynic as well. Something interesting to mention is that, although this record screams “progressive” from head to toe, and there is an intelligent aesthetic as I mentioned above, there are absolutely no keyboards involved! They just play the usual traditional metal instruments – drums, guitar and bass are all amazing here – in a technical, but also smart way (the exact sound and tone of the guitar and bass play a significant role as well). It is to be noted that they use 8-string guitars and 6-string bass though, instead of the conventional versions of the instruments. Maybe that’s the reason the tone seems very proggy (even keyboard-like at times), both in the guitar and bass. Oh did I mention the bass? The bass playing is sure one of the highlights here, kudos to the bassist (not that the others are far behind!). The vocals are very good – both the brutal and screaming style – although they tend to get a bit overshadowed by the excellent playing of the instruments. As for the production, it’s high quality as it should be, and all the instruments can be heard pretty clearly.
This album is better to be listened from start to finish; not that some songs or moments cannot be distinguished though. The title track is a real winner, having some of the best melodies here, and the – pretty simple but catchy – intro is one of the moments the bassist really shines. In “Neurotical Transmissions” the guitar is king, some of the most interesting moments can be heard there, and the slow acoustic intro is nice too. “Theatrical Delirium” – which is for the most part instrumental – starts with some interesting dark atmosphere and has a shitload of interesting virtuoso moments, including the bass of course. The closer song “Fundamental Process” also starts in a creepy way, and it builds little by little to a riff-driven sound madness – plus some really kick-ass drumming playing is to be found near the end. But in general, every song has something to offer here on its own (even if at first they may sound very similar), being part of a wild progressive death metal rollercoaster ride.
So in conclusion, I highly recommend this album. It may be not perfect – sometimes the continuous virtuosity and similarity in the song style can be a little tiring after a while – but sure is damn solid. The fans of the genre will find a real gem here – probably one of the most interesting records released that year! But it requires you to be open-minded to really appreciate it – this music is challenging, if you are just looking for simple and catchy foot-tapping tunes to enjoy along with your beer, please look elsewhere!

(originally written for the Portuguese webzine “Heaven Is Not Too Far”)

Abysmal Dawn – Human Obsolescence

This album is the fourth one of the band (being active since 2003), released in October 2014 by Relapse Records. The sound of the band can be described as technical groovy death metal, although there is a small black metal influence here and there. From the well known bands, Morbid Angel is a big influence for sure, while some other parts can remind more of acts such as Behemoth. Regarding the technical side, some influences include Death’s more “progressive” stuff and modern bands like Gojira. A cool characteristic of the album is that there are various dynamics in the tempo, plus a lot of technical playing, which is very interesting. However, this thing is both a blessing and a curse, as the average extreme metal listener can get a little confused and in the end find the overall songs not as memorable.
Songs such as “Perfecting Slavery” and “Devouring the Essence of God” (by the way, these two songs feature guest guitarists Christian Muenzer and Bobby Koelble respectively – both played in well known bands before) remind of the classic Morbid Angel stuff a lot. “By My Demons” has some interesting melodic (for the genre’s standards!) and memorable guitar playing in the riffs, combined with really fast parts. For me, definitely one of the highlights here. In “Inanimate” – for which an official video has been released – we have some solid mid-tempo madness, plus some crazy screaming vocal parts. Some cool screaming and kick-ass moments – including the excellent guitar solo near the end – can be also found in “One Percent Incomplete”, one of the most in-your-face moments of the record! Another song worth mentioning is the opening “Human Obsolescence” which has a bit of black metal influence – some parts here would not seem out of place in an Emperor album. Moreover, in the end there a cover of “Night’s Blood” by Dissection, as a bonus track. It’s enjoyable although very similar to the original to make a difference – except maybe slightly in the vocal style.
In general, it’s a solid album for that genre, although as I had said above, it may be too much for the typical death metal fan. If you like your death metal to be on the technical side, then get this album by any means. Personally, even if some moments made me say “wow!” and most of the playing is really interesting, after the listening I cannot strongly recall the songs in my mind – the overall songwriting is kind of unmemorable. Plus, you can find similar stuff by dozens of modern American death metal bands in the recent years, making the genre a bit overplayed to be something special anymore. Last but not least, I should mention that the album cover art – made by the Swedish artist Pär Oloffson – is really cool, reminding a lot of B-movie gore fun!

(originally written for the Portuguese webzine “Heaven Is Not Too Far”)

Lonewolf – The Cult of Steel

Lonewolf is a French heavy/power metal band, formed in 1993 although split up later in 1996, and reformed again in 2000. Most of their recorded material is released since the reformation. In their latest album “Cult of Steel” (released via Massacre Records in October 2014), you can find exactly what you expect from such a band – wild, aggressive but also melodic heavy metal sound, with a touch of power metal, similar to bands like Grave Digger (without the epic concept sophistication), Saxon and Running Wild. The lyrics are mostly cliche as well, about heavy metal worship, wild lifestyle on the road, steel spikes, leather and all that – although at times being a little more epic or having a bit of a “serious” message. However, even if this stuff is played too many times before, I can say I enjoyed this album a lot! The band plays with a fresh passion, like it is the 80s – the golden years of this metal genre – again!
Now, on to the songs themselves. Songs like the opening title track – I personally like a lot how it builds from the start – are like ear candy for the usual fan of that genre. Aggressive but also melodic, with typical heavy vocals, however no screaming in general like Rob Halford’s intense moments or the vocalists of many power metal bands. The album continues in a similar vein, and although the guitars may be the most interesting instrument here, the others cannot be overlooked, such as the machine-gun fast drums. A track that truly stands in the album for me, is “Werewolf Rebellion”. This one is really catchy, with some positive and energetic lyrics (“Wake up the wolf! Wake up the beast within you! Wake up the werewolf in your heart!”), a very nice guitar solo and a cool majestic organ ending. I bet this one would be a real killer in their live shows!
After the first three songs, the album seems more typical and predictable – however the quality remains in general, especially in the guitar playing, as long you don’t expect something truly extraordinary or diverse. Some moments are noticeable, like the symphonic feeling of the synth intro of “Funeral Pyre” and how it builds along with the guitar. I think the vocals and melodies are a bit more interesting in this one too, and the chorus is powerful – probably one of the most epic moments of the album. I’d also say “Mysterium Fidei” stands slightly above the others – especially regarding the acoustic intro, which gives a sense of nostalgia, sound but also having some of the best guitar moments in the album (riffs and solo).
The digipak version has two bonus tracks as well (“Made In Hell” and “Children of the Unlight”), which are enjoyable but mostly being in the same vein without standing out. The second one has a cool acoustic-to-electric transition riff in the intro though.
At first I thought I’d give this one a slightly higher rating [note: I rated it as 7.5/10 on the webzine], but most songs sound too similar to each other, sticking to very typical heavy/power forms. Also, the whole package is really cliche – although that may also be a good thing, depending on how you’ll look at it. It’s still a very good album for the genre though, with lots of energy and fun, keeping the “true heavy metal” flame alive!

(originally written for the Portuguese webzine “Heaven Is Not Too Far”)

Aeons of Ashes – Shutdown

Aeons of Ashes is a newly formed band from St. Pölten, Austria. The vocalist Tim Sklenitzka was also in the older band Thrashcanned. Even though the band is Austrian, the sound can be considered very American – I’m not the biggest expert or fan of such genres, but I’d call it something like “modern melodic groovy death metal”. I guess you can also simply call it metalcore, deathcore or whatever like that. The first band that come to my mind when hearing the album was Lamb of God – in fact they seem like they try too hard to sound like ’em! The vocals are a bit less interesting though, in general somewhat lower, with screaming kept to a minimum. Another example of a similar band is Whitechapel. After the somewhat cute but pretty pointless guitar & keyboard intro, you get a full blast of their guitar-driven sound.
The riffs are pretty strong, and the playing in general is very good. So is the sound, like it should be for such a modern album. However, the songs are a bit too samey, and also you feel like you’ve heard it all before – this album wins absolutely no points on originality. While you cannot call this stuff bad by any means – at least if you don’t actively dislike the genre – it sounds too generic. The vocals in general terms are ok, they sound energetic but they get a bit flat after a while. The lyrics are typical of this genre – about things like modern life and society, aggression and revenge, with a little swearing thrown in as well.
Although the songs generally sound too much like each other, there is a couple that I would consider small highlights, like “Monocracy” with its in-your-face chorus, cool fast drumming parts, the semi-acoustic part near the end and the tempo changes, and “Silence Will Fall” which has a chorus with some nice melodic guitar accompanying the vocals, a bit of cool bass part later in the song, and a pleasant intro with a cool military-like snare drumming. Also, the opening riff of “Winter Is Coming” is a small surprise, sounding a bit like more traditional speed metal, although after that it goes to their more typical sound.
So finally I’d say that if you happen to be a fan of the genre, you will enjoy this album, but no big shakes – don’t expect something extraordinary as this thing has been played many times before, often with better results. The band has to do more to really catch the interest of listeners and rise from the pack, that may be small changes like more diversity or dynamics in the sound, adding some cool effect like wild guitar feedback or even some really intense high-pitched screaming – the latter in a good way.

(originally written for the Portuguese webzine “Heaven Is Not Too Far”)

Deaf Eyes – Deaf Eyes

The project Deaf Eyes, signed on Argonauta Records, started in 2013 as a side project of the band Incoming Celebral Overdrive. This self-titled album is their first one, clocking around 36 minutes. It can be considered heavy post-rock (or post-metal) – the prominent instrument there is by far the guitar, creating a cool wall of sound. From the first hard riffs of the opening song, you may have the impression this is your typical metalcore band, but fortunately this is not the case, as the post-rock atmosphere soon begins to kick in. The bass playing gracefully complements the guitars and the combination is excellent. The drumming is nice and interesting, having some cool fills here and there. The overall sound does not change much though, and by no means you would call this album very diverse. But that does not matter, as the atmosphere and the guitar tone (including some cool feedback at times!) are really good – if you are a fan of this sound, that is. Moreover, the album is greatly produced and all the instruments can be heard clearly. Regarding the sound, there are influences mainly from modern post-rock and metalcore (think of bands like Pelican and Isis), but also from older bands like Sonic Youth or even King Crimson (particularly the album “Red”). Some other parts lean a bit to the stoner sound. As opposed to most post-rock bands though, there is generally an absence of slower and calmer parts, bringing it closer to the metalcore sound overall.

Although at first listen the album seems like one big song, each track has its own character. For me, highlights of the album include “Mirrors” (digging that ominous crushing riff!), “The Eyes of Regret” and “Red Desert Lullaby”. Some other interesting parts are the intros of the last two tracks, which create a creepy, ominous suspense before the heaviness kicks in. In general, it is a solid album with lots of energy, although in my opinion would be a bit more interesting if there was more variety in the sound. Moreover, even if the tunes sound good on their own, maybe it would be a nice idea to experiment with some vocals in the future as well. Either way, it’s very enjoyable if you want something loud and crushing, while having also a sensitive edge.

(originally written for the Portuguese webzine “Heaven Is Not Too Far”)