Damnation - Rebel Souls
Rising from the fusion of later death metal, this band aims to update the old school of anthemic death metal with a touch of speed metal, in a style that is reminiscent of Destruction with slower parts from Immolation and speed blasting sections which are reminiscent of Fallen Christ. Songs congregate around an anthemic main riff and a series of verse riffs with deepening layers of percussion and vocals, then drop into a trudge lag with alternate chord voicings. Its energy is high and percussive impact is intense, but like many of the American bands, Damnation stumble in that they have no idea how to maintain a sense of dynamic or distinction and so "riff salad" syndrome hits like HIV in a combination blood bank/brothel. Riffing is quality but vision is short and so while this band clearly understands the aesthetic they desire, the disorganized content cannot back it up. Five studio hours with an experienced songwriter from Pestilence would turn this into a class-A album.
Daath - Futility
This band appears to be an attempt to integrate industrial beats, Marilyn Manson-style dark hard rock, and black metal vocals and aesthetics. It ends up sounding like a cross between Ministry and Prong with the kind of emphasis on internal rhythm that made middle-period Metallica so much fun to listen to. Vocals emulate the kind of radio propaganda that Rammstein use, but end up sounding like a phone conversation intercepted mid-song. Fans of Girls Under Glass and other techno/metal hybrids (let's be honest about what this is) might appreciate it but the ARE YOU TALKIN TO ME? elements -- gratifyingly symmetric rhythms, rock/jazz lead riffing, uniform complementary melodic slopes for primary riffs -- make this sound like nu-metal to an underground fan.
Seventh Angel - The Torment
Exodus crossed with Morbid Angel: introductory death metal riffing breaks to bouncy, precision-strummed speed metal riffs that exchange leadership of rhythm between a few patterns which ultimate regress to the initial offering. Song breakdowns and overall concept of relationship between tempi is reminiscent of Suffocation, albeit slowed down, but the majority of the songcraft here is rendered in the form of jaunty, ebullient muffled-strum offbeat romps that made Exodus fun back in 1986 or so. Melodically a reasonable comparison would be Iron Maiden, as songs develop melodically from pentatonic to patterns approximating minor scales with majestic leaps that preserve harmonic suspense in bass-centric development, but its relentless speed metal styling forces this music through a compositional channel which simplifies it. In addition, the attribute of the best metal bands, namely the ability to maintain a narrative which finds beauty in the confluence of seemingly disparate parts, is in light supply, rendering this inaccessible to all but diehard 1980s metal fans.
Shape of Despair - Shape of
Imagine Burzum hybridized with epic doom like Skepticism or Sunn)))HIV), with rhythms like feet treading the path to the place of execution overlaid with gentle keyboard sequences over a Norse-style longboat-rowing beat. Probably this music is best for time in prison, or when sick, or locked in the cockpit of a propeller plane crossing oceans, because while it is quite pretty it develops slowly and its atmosphere conveys mostly repetition. Much like Satyricon, these composers are excellent at starting promising-sounding melodies yet have no idea where to take them, so they repeat and then squeak out with an improvised exit strategy as best they can. The result is somewhat "obvious" in that little mystery hides in its direction or the resolution to its patterns. Songwriting ability is high, but strategy is correspondingly low. It might be perfect for a soundtrack to a film about prospecting in the sands of the Sahara for water (on foot) but as a musical experience it is less than compelling.
Thanks to Agnan, soundfiles for Therion, Bathory, Dissection, Sacramentum and Niden Div 187 are online.
If you look toward the top of the forum, you'll see a new search blank. Sad truth of computing is that Google, with a server farm of 3,000 CPUs and vast network resources, beats ass on the ad hoc search this forum implements. Thanks to suggestions for Anarchanus, we've also put in the ability to search megaupload and rapidshare. Try 'em out.