Rain Without End. Like a wave.

I was in the mood for some slow/sludge/doom like genre today. And October Tide is the best remedy for this sudden obsession. It was sad that the band did not continue for long (I have heard it is reformed with a new line up, but I haven’t really checked, so) otherwise this band has the potential to put me in a beautiful state of monotone, I love it.

So here is reviewed their first album Rain Without End. The brainchild of Jonas Renkse, the famous persona from Katatonia and member of the Bloodbath super group, this band showcases exactly how diverse one man could be. The soundscape of this album is a million shades depressing than Katatonia and more than just a tad less extreme than Bloodbath. A very audible bass line with acoustic tones supplement to the effort of the creation of this state of nothingness. A nice lightheaded buzz is retained, probably an echo of the patch used in a majority of the tracks.

The vocals have a quality of being dead depressing and hollow, like the voice out of the depths of an ancient oak. Not overly exerted, not too stretched, just the right amount of it to keep you interested and buzzed. A slight monotony makes this album, something I thought was not possible.

The guitars and the bass envelop the drum’s fickle rhythm pattern, creating the ultimate soundscape. Unpredictable, clear and an audible bass line did it for me. As I write Sightless’s mind blowing intro struck me, so different from its precedent. And now it has come back to its frequency, a shift in soundscapes so smooth and yet so strikingly different amazes and impresses me.

I had always considered Die Verbannten Kinder Evas as the kinds that I would consider Doom but this album has opened a whole new wave of music that I could listen to when I require nothing more than a doobie and solitude.

One can see that Katatonia could be heading this way, specially due to some familiar sounds in tracks likeLosing Tomorrow and others. This albums is a like watching a certain scat viral video, it takes time to build up, all nice and mellow, but when it does hit, it leaves a lasting impression.

This album is a beautiful production and I’m looking forward to reviewing their more recent works. Let’s hope they indeed have reformed, because I won’t give Rain Without End a score less than 8/10.

Don’t judge it’s title. New Moon it is.

So this band popped up on my music recommendations list on last.fm. Judging on its similarities to Insomnium and Ghost Brigade (according to the site), I decided I’d give it a try. I acquired their latest album (not so late), New Moon, 2009. The title got me thinking of vampires and bad actors, I don’t know, I must have had some bad dream :D. A little background research on the band made me realise it’s been in the circles for a fairly long time with quite a strong fan base. Anyhow I started my day with “These Woods Breathe Evil” (coincidence? I was hoping at that time not :D).

Having heard the album in its entirety and having heard this band for the first time I could very easily relate to the not-so-happy-about-this-band crowd. The album has all the makings of successful studio hit and yet it lacked the punch during its intro as well as the outro, nothing that would’ve left me still grooving to the beat I heard or air drumming like a nut. No, it clearly did not leave me wanting to hear more. I sense that this is one of those grow-on-you types of album. Cutting things short, if you’ve been a fan, you’ll like them because you do. One could relate this to Amon Amarth’s Surtur Rising. Yet there are instances where this album does prove itself to be far more progressive and occult than Surtur. One’s who never liked this band have no reason to start liking it again. As for someone who’s looking for something new read on.

The music itself was quite refreshing, seeing as I have been indulging in a lot of jazz recently. The tracks are well layered, the song-writing highly impressive. It was not like what I was thought it’d be, a fancy catchy riff with vocals merging into the backdrop of the soundscape created by the guitars.

No these vocals were good. Some of the clean parts had very striking resemblance to Katatonia’s Night is the New Day. Dashes of death riffs with keys  interlacing created quite an doom-like atmosphere. And then there are tracks that really reflect their Finnish roots (metal-wise), good old blackened death riffs with deep growls. Contrary to this sombre image, there are places where Mikko takes clean vocals with acoustic backing showcasing the mastery of minimalism that is so distinctive of doom metal.

I would also further go on to say that this album seems progressive in a lot of places, something towards which I’m highly biased to. Had they only composed this one bombastic intro or this orphic end to the album, I would’ve most probably be raving about this album. I’d be looking forward to something new from them nonetheless.

For shitty extremes a 6/10.

Cheers!

Blood Magic and Necromancy at it’s best! Belphegor people! \m/

Blood Magick Necromance has got to be one of the finest works I’ve heard coming from the entire black metal brutality/ambience category this year. I never rated Belphegor in my top bands no matter what they released. I never went beyond “It’s ok” whenever asked for an opinion. But man have they impressed me with this album.

Black metal the way it should be with hints of a baseline melody dressed in blast beats and aural orchestration, Blood Magick Necromance is just the kind of album you should listen and bow down to. The first track is a breath of fresh air (well not literally but you get the point), blast beats already setting in that backdrop of carnage. This track’s intro itself got me rethinking my prejudice against this band.

Subsequent tracks are only substantiation to this prognostication of mine. Well produced, layered and crafted with the experience and know-how, the album is just plain awesome. Rise to Fall and Fall to Rise and Sado Messiah would be my favourites with most of the other tracks not far behind. Why the hell could this skill not be reflected in their earlier productions? They have portrayed the potency that could easily get them the recognition that they lacked. (or maybe they didn’t, either way this is the better of productions till now)

A minute or two into the Rise to Fall…  and you would realise exactly how well-crafted this track is. Layers or typical Belphegor-esque riffs meshed with rhythmic powerful beats make up most of this album. I sit in awe thinking about how these guys managed to pull this album off so well with what I felt are minor changes to their soundscapes. What I do notice halfway through Angeli Mortis De Profundis is this is not one of those album with solid album selling tracks and otherwise trashy mixes and productions filling the spaces. No fucking way! Impaled Upon the Tongue of Sathan got me back on my feet, raw blackened energy splitting my speakers in two.

One more aspect that I love about this album is the way it has successfully blended true forms of both black and death, with all the brutality and iniquity and yet have these pieces of mellow pieces. However odd it may sound, the melodic opuses weave the tracks magnificently, taking this entire experience to a higher more potent state of beguilement. Considering the big names these guys compete against ( Behemoth, Necrophobic,Gorgoroth), they’ve set quite a bar. And one that challenges the current trends followed by these bands as well as upcoming black metallers (European and Indian alike).

This album has been on a loop in my library for the past week, while the much raved about “Consider This” and a brand new find “Mahayuga” have been sitting idle. Belphegor finally got their place in my playlist. I could only recommend this album strongly. GET IT!

I can’t think of one negation for this album and yet my ego refuses a straight ten.

8.5/10 ought to keep the masses happy.

Cheers!

 

Amorphis’s Beginning of Times

Amorphis comes under the category of one of those bands which sound just a powerful on stage and equally soothing on pair of earphones midway a long journey. So I happened to learn while listening to this album recently. After doing my bit of research and reading many other views on The Beginning of Times, I listed my sets of pro and cons.

Firstly, this album is a continuation on the story that the Skyforger started. The production sounds very similar and that would be a good thing, seeing the popularity that album got. Considered as one of their best ventures, Skyforger had music both melodic as well as potent. It was the peak of Amorphis’s transition from their more folk-esque/death sound to a more progressive melo tracks. This album I feel has done no more to contribute to that transition. With this album I believe we have reached the soundscape that Amorphis would operate and experiment with (tiny bits with the latter).

Shades of their former musical preferences are visible with the work on the keyboards. Vocals are beautiful when clean and the growls though unexpected, are welcome still. They are at just the right temperature with the setting of the songs. I wouldn’t comment on other parts of the production majorly because of their similarity with Skyforger.

Another aspect that really strikes a listener is the sheer number of tracks. 13 tracks, laid out well and in an order which almost makes this album gapless. Only if I am actually listening to the tracks individually (analysis mode :D), am I capable of differentiating. Else they beguile me, leave me in this state of perpetual day dreams involving distant wars and hymns that being sung about them (most Nordic bands of this genre leave this essence in me).

What I did not like about this album was not its lack of progress, for even though I am a fan of their earlier ventures I do like what the band has grown into. No, what this album lacked was that potency and that thrill. It does grow on you, but man does that take a long time. Thankfully, their music is awing enough for me to listen to over and over again; else I generally leave albums like these in my library, there for me to discover them later.

I was impressed but not to the point which was being so hyped about on the internet, hence for slight disappointment there I would give this album a 7/10.

Cheers!

Trippy Metal! Infernal Wrath’s Inside of Me.

Infernal Wrath is Mumbai based band. This fact alone makes me regret the fact that I’m not from that city. This band blew me away with its amazingly ethnic and naturally extreme soundscape.

“Inside of Me” is a treat to listen to, in one go. So many textures and so many variations in the span of about an hour, this album is what I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. When I say that, I mean the sound, the nature of this album. Being publically advertised as influenced by Indian Classical and World music, this band has done justice to bringing that sound immaculately into this production.

This album has all the elements of this grind meets black genre, but then it is sprinkled with stilted yet unexpected classical signatures with instruments ranging from the sitar to the cello (or at least that’s what it sounds like in The Swordbearer). This Forever Lasting Journey surprised me with a piano solo of the kinds of current trends of New Age artists. I definitely did not anticipate this, knowing full well that this is was self-proclaimed experimental undertaking.   Not highly intricate or of multiple layers but quite the atmosphere creator.

I’d say this album deserves the shelf of those who like a trip and do not just stick to Dubstep or Floyd while enjoying that buzz. I would’ve love to proclaim it as inspired by Indian culture, but I guess we’re not there yet. But this album and this band definitely has made quite a leap down that particular road. Up-coming bands should take a leaf out of Wrath’s book and see how well classical could gel with Scandinavian extremes.

Having said enough about the production and its diversity and concentrating more on the efforts by the band members, I’ll say it’s a decent job done. Work done on the keys was layered and the sampler used efficiently and quite successfully maintained the ethereal feel in the album. The riffage is memorable with my favourite being Inside of Me and Behold Ezekiel. Drums were actually overshadowed with the shear variety portrayed here.

Vocals I did not like, at least not while it was being delivered in the guttural manner typical of earlier death metal artists. It was too heavy for the patches used and quite the ambience-killer. But here too was an exception, were it was spot on in the track At the Foothills of Palestine.

I found this album quite a welcome change and for a debut album of this sorts, this band is what you need to keep a track of.

7.5/10

Cheers!

Be’lakor- Stone’s Reach

One of the few good productions from Australia that I’ve come across, Stone’s Reach is Be’lakor’s second attempt at getting the whole melodeath sound. And in a way they have succeeded.

For a guy who would’ve started out with the likes of Insomnium and Amon Amarth, this album would definitely be a treat. This album has all the elements of good melodic death-esque music, everything but the publicity. I came across this band at some random forum and was shocked that they aren’t big, because they have the patterns and the styles typical of commercial bands.

Not underground material definitely. But then again, band of this genre are more often than not dead before they start, unless they hit the jackpot with some big label. Currently they are signed with Kolony Records.

About the album itself, I can easily sum it up as similar to the last two Insomnium albums, production wise. Vocals

are quite similar, and the tones and patches used are deeper but the general sketches of the tracks are identical. Except that this band likes to create an atmosphere with the occasional pauses and then ascending into the choruses or verses. But then again it is equally powerful and catchy.

This production would also fall into the category of those that grow on you. The first time I got my hands on it, my reaction was kind of like what I have said earlier, rip off, nothing different. But then somehow I kept reverting back to it. Now “From Scythe to Sceptre” refuses leave my head. Brilliantly laid out tracks and soothing enough and yet with such varying soundscapes. It wouldn’t let you fall in to reverie without a clue as to when the album began and when it ended. Riffs you would remember and beats that stick, this album is thankfully not retrograded unlike most of the new material that is coming out (and possibly responsible for the slow demise of this genre). The unseen pro of not having a big label hold you up possibly. Either way for a melodic death fanatic, this album is definitely worth it. For those who aren’t too enthusiastic check them out here and realise what this genre is about.

Their previous album “The Frail Tide” was a rawer production, would talk about that one sometime later.

As for this album a 7/10 would be apt.