Pravin Thompson is a trained Jazz musician who has just released his debut album A Thoughtful Collapse that immediately grabs attention through a combination of technique and naivety. In many ways this is what Modern metal seeks to be but lacks any of the depth or the sentimentality this record possesses. Though meandering at times and focusing a bit too much on lesser ideas, Pravin shows an interesting take on Jazz music informed by a combination of academia and pure passion. Pravin also shows great discernment in understanding music and aspects that are for the most part closed to the metal world and contrary to the ideals espoused by Extreme metal.
Tales of Dhvaras formerly known as Dhvaras are a Norwegian Black metal that released a brief demo in 1994 before quickly disbanding. Twenty six years later the band have reformed to give new life to this material with greater maturity and better recording methods.
Eucharist A Velvet Creation straddled the line between the metal of old and the “melodic death” metal that would ravage the Scandinavian scene. Intelligently the band still remained enough grit and the compositional maturity of the better genre while not being afraid to integrate an overt admiration for Iron Maiden and the occasional rhythmic tool. “Alone and Wounded” is a bonus track that manages to shape Melodic Death metal into what it should have been. The opening sequence however is so remarkable that it merits a closer look.
In the modern metal lexicon, European metal has often been used to denote bands that relied extensively on Iron Maiden harmonies, keyboards, pseudo-classical melodies, female vocalists, tremolo picked riffs and overall less influence from Pantera and Metallica. Septic Flesh have come to epitomize this style despite adding a lot more Metalcore elements to keep with the times. Before the name change, the band were once an overlooked force and presented many ideas that metal as a whole was never fully able to capitalize on. Ophidian Wheel is the summit of the band’s creativity and pushes the romantic qualities of metal even further.
Blasphamagoatchrist return from exile after the hilarious debacle concerning their previous effort Tyrannic Empire. This time round the band drift away from stereotypical War metal to a combination of the genre’s early influences.
Master’s Paul Speckmann is known for taking an idea and squeezing everything he can from it through repetition and then utilizing the most direct route to return to that idea. Though this mentality would fail many bands because the riffs didn’t have the necessary urgency and creativity to work. Bolt Thrower on the other hand took this approach and pushed it to the logical extreme as each individual riff became the central focus while narrative development was relegated to an afterthought despite somehow still being present. What made Bolt Thrower so intriguing was that they possessed powerful riffs that were caveman like and more often than not completely idiotic yet the band managed to soar where others failed miserably.
Kehpa Lehtinen – It is ok to be sad and dark
A regrettably titled EP by a Finnish composer who dabbles in the usual mixture of pop, film music and classical. Much of this short record adheres to the methodology of such a style but there are a few moments of genuine darkness and melancholy due to the disturbing melodies that seem to exist across all forms of Finnish music. Standard piano tropes incorporate small amounts of dissonance while a theremin will usually play the leading voice. The theremin is a difficult instrument to master as it reacts to the slightest movement, meaning that no melody can ever be replicated the exact same way and each individual will always have their particularities as physiques and motor skills vary greatly from person to person. The innate “slightly out of tune” character of the theremin has been toned down here through studio trickery but when used well in conjunction with the more exotic intervals, manages to convey powerful moods. These songs aren’t fully developed and mainly state a few themes without any narrative but show glimpses of potential that such a combination can make. If Kehpa Lehtinen was to forego the easier elements of his music and follow though on the ideas presented here, there could be something very special.
Gene Palubicki from Angelcorpse notoriety returns with a new album that continues within the tradition of Black metal informed Floridian Death metal. Perdition Temple bring a level of technical acumen that has been denigrated by fans and practitioners of this style in recent years without falling into the pitfalls of Modern metal.
Ulcerate – “Stare Into Death And Be Still”
Riffless Death metal outfit Ulcerate have toned their typically dissonant approach in search of something more akin to Post-Rock as seen by many of the modern “black” metal bands. The shapes of the melodies remain virtually identical to their previous works with just the choice of notes changing to reflect this sudden change. Inquisition like tremolo effects form the “tails” of most of the melodies. While such effects have been used in metal to deliver great results (Iron Maiden – “22 Acacia Avenue”), here they just give the illusion that there is more than what is truly happening. In reality this is a compilation of random ideas shoved together that maintain a certain atmosphere without any actual composition.