Akhenaton – Divine Symphonies
I like this: it’s martial ambient in the style of Lord Wind with distorted bass. But, it is very predictable. So very predictable. As a result, it is pleasant to listen to as background music. About track seven, it starts becoming gothic with guitars and lush keyboards and Sisters of Mercy vocals. I think they need to go back to the drawing board and put more music into this, because their heavy repetition (a) isn’t layered and (b) does not consist of melodies that are all that exciting.
Ancestral – Avowed
Varg, this is your fault. Yours. These people are following your lead. You made it look so simple and now, it is. Trudge beat, open strumming while power chords undulate, and you can trick out a pop song into being like Burzum. The underlying writing on this demo is a lot like later Krieg, but even more poppy, and so it seems very emo when it emerges in quasi-metallized form. Again, like all covertly negative reviews, this one must contain the words “not badly executed, but lacking direction.” This demo sodomizes a Macintosh.
Chronic Torment – Doomed
This isn’t A+ material, but it’s a solid B. Sounding like a cross between Merciless and Fester, it’s heavy-metal and hardcore-tinged death metal in the Swedish style, with an affinity for fast riffs. You will hear nothing new on this CD, but unlike most of these discs, it has an attention span long enough to bond together simple songs over the course of a few riff changes and a verse-chorus devolution. It’s not like the best of Swedish metal, which leaves the stupid rock’n’rollisms behind, but it’s quite solid, with the same aggression appeal that made Verminous fun until it gave you a headache.
Chronic Torment – Dream of the Dead
Gosh, does everyone need to follow Immolation and Hail of Bullets? There’s some completely great stuff on this album, but it gets ruined by the nu-MTVcore/metalcore trend of ranting, dead-on-the-beat chanting verses. These sound like a braindead zombie attempting to sodomize an iron lung, and have about as much musical importance to the listener as well. I think it’s good if you want something angry-sounding in the background, like in a movie. They’re very catchy, but mind-numbing. This CD reminds me of Comecon in that way: their heavy metal has blended into their hardcore, with no emo, but it’s so bouncy and simple that I don’t want to ever put it in again. That’s said because some of the Bolt Thrower-style speed riffs, with two chords strummed fast in the background and melodic rhythm patterns picked over them, are great. Still a Merciless comparison, if Merciless listened to a lot of later Malevolent Creation and The Haunted. What a promising work, but awash in stuff designed to pander to blockheads.