Perhaps the best way to describe this album would be as traditional heavy metal crafted with a death metal approach. Monotone vocals accompany a changing tapestry of guitar riffs that relocate melody to the guitar and force the use of a compelling rhythm to unite each song, giving them an anthemic but unstable quality, creating an air of mystery to the album.3 Comments
At a time when most of the worthy metal was being produced in England with a few exceptions in Europe and America as most bands emerging were straddling the line between Hard Rock and Heavy metal or resorting to recreating the dirty rock of the early 70s in order to achieve mainstream success as there was much more to be gained financially from such endeavors. Iron Maiden had dazzled the world with Killers, Melissa and Kill ‘Em All were just around the corner and metal would proceed through a very sudden transformation with these releases. In between all this former heroes like Judas Priest,Motorhead and Scorpions were embracing the stadiums. In such a frantic period, in a country where music had never been a cultural strength. Sortilège, after studying their cousins from across the pond would release one of the greatest Heavy metal EPs of all time only for the aforementioned bands to overshadow them and relegate them to cult favorite;
Monstrosity – The Passage Of Existence
Metal Blade Records, 2015
Working within an establishment genre presents a challenge to the musician: the major patterns are known, and the audience has been inundated with an abundance of bands who can play the style of the classics note-perfectly, meaning that musicians have to either add new aesthetics to attract a lot of fans, or play a subtle take on the older for those with some knowledge.5 Comments
Queensrÿche plans to introduce its sixteenth (!) album, The Verdict, to the world on March 1, 2019, representatives announced today. Century Media will release this newest work which is “the most metal and the most progressive record we have made in a long time” according to guitarist Michael Wilton.5 Comments
Sabbat are a cult Japanese band known for primarily for being Japanese and playing a heavily Venom influenced style of Heavy metal that sometimes crosses over to real black metal though rarely and for the briefest of periods. This record is actually more known for the exotic origins of its creators rather than the actual quality presented here. Replacing the seriousness of other similar bands with a certain rock and roll cheese and tongue in cheek lyrics that ultimately pull this band behind the rest.
Sabbat have a terrible habit of wearing their influences on their sleeves with far too much pride. “Satan Bless you” has a main motif particular similar to Venom’s “Black Metal” and all of the speed metal parts can be attributed to the English Sabbat. “Evil Nation” is so reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “2 minutes to midnight” that you can easily sing the verse parts on top of it and there would be almost no difference as the chord progression, rhythm and techniques are practically identical. Carcassvoice steals the first two passages of Mayhem’s “Deathcrush” and only slightly changes the rhythm and added to this package is a hilarious imitation of Maniac’s high pitch rasp. Though these are the most obvious acts of plagiarism, the entirety of the album is drenched in déja-vu and this refrains the album from reaching the same level as their Norwegian and Brazilian peers.
Arrangements tend to be in the classic pop style except for some brilliant moments of over the top soloing and the inclusion of speed metal breakdowns. Though some tracks experiment with the stop and start mechanics from Motorhead’s Overkill (1979) but ultimately fail as the individual parts function in solitude but do not combine as a whole and we are treated to separate songs encapsulated within a single track. There is nothing to be found of the narrative Death and Black metal structures here as this album is firmly rooted in Heavy metal.
The note selection stays within the usual combination of the natural minor scale and the minor pentatonic except when the band allows themselves forays into fully developed black metal territory as seen on track “King of Hell” which has a long droning sequence with a lot of chromaticism that contrasts most of this record but then on closer inspection this feels more like a reject on Bathory’s The Return (1985). The drums hint towards more developed black metal at times as they play a martial techno beat here and there without fills but this record is exceedingly behind what was going during that time period. The best part of the entire record are the solos and how are they given the kind of space and freedom suited for the more commercial strands of metal. The solos first and foremost obey the whims of the accompanying riffs and seek to amplify what they convey with the use of a large repertoire taking from the most famous relevant shredders. The compositions do have their charm in how they use the energetic approach of their heroes to create uplifting and fun music but ultimately play on shock rock tropes like main influence Venom.
The best composition here is the instrumental “Dead March” which takes a simple Judas Priest like motif and advances it forward with perfect control of mood as the motif twists and turns and the interactions between it and the second guitar that either harmonizes in conventional thirds or plays some contrapuntal melodies. The song conveys perfectly a march of the dead and escapes the pop structure through the reuse of certain passages and a complete lack of chorus. A fantastic bridge between the Heavy metal of the past and the Black metal of the future as it takes those elements and applies it in ways that the Norwegian bands would then apply on darker melodies.
Envenom shows a band going through multiple periods as this album was released seven years after the band initially formed and shows this progression from NWOBHM worship to Mayhem’s Deathcrush unfortunately this record shows the timeline of the genre but fails to do anything with it nor add a unique twist to it. Envenom remains a fun record but lacks any transcendent quality that separates it from some of the more forward-thinking acts in the genre and probably because there seems to be not a single ounce of influence from what was going in the Death metal or a willful ignorance to the innovations brought over. An easy listening album to bring over neophytes but for the experienced listener this is enjoyable for a few listens with a beer or two but has nothing else to offer.3 Comments
Dissection was one of the last bands to be associated with violence and action in metal. Jon Nodveidt, a true Hessian who rejected the modern world, committed various acts that most will consider morally reprehensible yet they embodied his personal philosophy and the ideology of his music. Barring the third album, Dissection display a penchant for ambitious composition within a framework of heavy/death and black metal. The second outing reached too far and ended up sounding almost confused from the virtuosity of the musicians and the wide number of techniques at their disposal without the vision to streamline all these ideas. The Somberlain is a lot more focused in its inspirations by sticking closer to the source material and more structured arrangements.
A Land Forlorn impressively bridges multiple approaches to metal.
The Canadian band Cromlech strode forth boldly onto the field of battle with the promising album “Ave Mortis” in 2013. Honing their tactics and weapon-craft, in 2017 they released their excellent EP “Iron Guard.” Blending doom, death, and classic heavy metal influences the mighty Cromlech is the tip of the spear in the coming resurgence of epic power metal. In a brief lull between battles, the members of Cromlech most nobly took a few minutes to answer some interview questions.33 Comments
At first glance, this album boasts a cool cover and impressively long song lengths, making a strong first impression. Then I hit play. It didn’t take long to realize this is really, really bad live album. It is not tightly played at all. The two guitars are not in sync and neither are the drums. You have to suffer through really bad lyrics like: “Onward to the sun” and “Destiny is calling!”. Everything is really bad waltzy Sabbath imitation but really boring. I can fairly say that this album qualifies as epic German cheese. So of course it will be popular. The singer sounds like the guy who sang those Budweiser ads Real Men of Genius.
(Join DMU Legend Johan Pettersson for what may be the most expansive analysis of power metal ever presented in the first of a 3 part series. Listen to the accompanying suggested listening here)
Of all the subgenres and styles that fall within the metal spectrum (hence excluding unmitigated relapses into rock such as death’n’roll, stoner, nu- and indie metal), power metal most definitely counts as the one that has received the highest amount of scorn and ridicule from critics, fans and outsiders alike. (more…)16 Comments
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