Bloodiest – Bloodiest ALBUM REVIEW

These driving rhythms are amazing. It feels like each track is constantly moving forward towards the climax, and then continuing onward into infinity. It feels almost tribal, like each track that isn’t an interlude is a ritual that you’re hearing be completed. And how about those vocals? God damn these vocals are absolutely perfect. Partially strained cleans that continue to rise into high intensity screams as the climax beings. Bloodiest has Neurosis levels of buildup and climax in their tracks. Meaning they’re one of the few bands in their genre to actually know what the fuck they’re doing. There are no cheesy chord progressions, the buildup is built on dynamics (not just playing louder), rhythm, and overall intensity. The tracks have progression in them. It feels like there’s a beginning, middle, and end, despite being continually on the rise until the final climax. Is the piano maybe a tad over the top? A little, yes, but it doesn’t hurt it at all. Honestly, this is one of the best atmo sludge albums I’ve heard in a long time…

Until I realized that once I heard the first track, I’d heard the entire album. Never have I been more disappointed with a lack of variety in an album than this. Because god dammit, the actual musical formula is brilliant, and makes for a perfect atmo sludge record, like literally what I would dream a perfect record of that genre to be like. But very rarely can you make an album that is essentially all in the same key work, and rarely is an album with a severe lack of tonal variety going to get the best marks from me.

Bloodiest is fantastic at what it does, but unfortunately you can only repeat perfection so many times until it’s no longer perfect anymore.


Lycus – Chasms ALBUM REVIEW

It’s already January -1st and I already have an album I was hyped about! Lycus’ 2013 debut was an extremely solid funeral doom record with massive soundscapes that gave off an aura of depression, somberness, and I would even say oddly enough, hope at times. It didn’t feel nearly as bleak as other funeral doom records do. However now the gloves are off, and Lycus starts right off with a guitar shriek, before going into a dirge of filth and doom.

While I would put Tempest on the lighter side of funeral doom, Chasms feels like its title indicates, that it’s the sound that lurks in the chasms of the underworld. However, while it is refreshing to hear a different sound, I don’t think that’s what Lycus does best. Their best work is when they throwback to their last record, ironically on the title track of the album. What really gets me about this track is the harmonies and chords they use, specifically starting at around the 8 minute mark.

They go through a slew of jazzy chords, including the repeated use of the C7b5 (if it’s not C, it’s still certainly a 7b5). You don’t often hear jazz chords in funeral doom, so I never quite realized how refreshing and delightful it is. It’s sort of like putting together whiskey and ice cream. Hard hitting, but with some sweetness to it, though I imagine getting drunk off whiskey and ice cream would be a lot more pleasant than getting drunk while listening to funeral doom. While I wasn’t feeling the violins to close and end the piece (they felt more like decoration than anything else), the track itself was a lush, beautiful, and heartbreaking doom ballad that’s easily the best track on the album.

However then the band does something even different from that, going into an infrequent blast beat frenzy on Mirage, with the track sounding more chaotic and less pleasing to hear than what they previously offered. It’s certainly an interesting direction, but it’s not the direction I think the band should go. As I said before, Lycus is at their best when the listener feels sorrowful, yet strangely inspired, not when the listener to scrambling to figure out what the heck they’re listening to. The fourth track feels like a mere afterthought, meant to be an epic finale, but feels drawn out and bland compared to the rest of the tracks on the album.

Overall this is another solid record from the US based doom band, a slight improvement at that. However there are times where I simply get bored, and as much as I can praise this, there’s never a moment where I feel like this album is any more than an 8 at max.


Vehemence – Forward Without Motion ALBUM REVIEW

Surprisingly a nice album. Normally when I think of melodic death metal I associate it with being nothing more than power metal with death vocals. There’s none of that edge to it, none of that grime that makes death metal great. The problem I think that so many bands emphasize the melody too much and completely ignore other aspects of death metal, aside from the vocals. Vehemence, a band that has gotten in trouble for doing some “pop-death metal” work in the past, does a great job here at making an album that sounds melodic, with distinctly structured songs, while still maintaining the core death metal sound. The melody is not overbearing and dominating, instead acting like a way to progress the music.

There is a distinct combination of the harsh and the soft, especially on the track A Dark Figure in the Distance. An absolutely beautiful track, it infuses acoustic guitar work that doesn’t feel out of place with the generally harsh style of the rest of the album. The track feels actually sorrowful, which isn’t an emotion I typically associate with death metal. The rest of the album employs the musical ying and yang to lull the listener into almost a sense of comfort, albeit not in the traditional sense. It’s a bit hard to explain, but to me the record didn’t feel like it was going to hurt me. I think in this case that’s a good thing, as Forward Without Motion is able to keep its edge while still feeling familiar.

I will say however I feel like it’s a tad long. I never fully got bored, but at almost an hour in length, I felt I grew a bit weary of the record. This is amplified by many tracks that I won’t say sound the same, but have similar atmospheres and tendencies. Overall however I think this is a great record and a really nice comeback for this band. It has just enough of a dark side to keep the listener seriously interested, while still providing the listener without something to hum days after listening.


A Loathing Requiem – Acolytes Eternal ALBUM REVIEW

I’ve been surprised at how few high rated and popular tech death albums there have been this year. Ad Nauseam is the only one I can think of, and that’s very nontraditional album for the genre, or any metal record for that matter. So I took the opportunity to check this out, and I must say I’m very pleased with what I heard. Tech death is a genre I fee pretty comfortable dealing with, and I can firmly say that Acolytes Eternal is edging for one of the top tech death AOTYs. One of the most important things this album does right is making riffs that connect with each other, rather than just being spurts of separate, unrelated riffs that don’t make sense together, which is a common tech death mistake. It also has in my opinion, the perfect guitar tone for this kind of music, very sharp precise, and clean. I do feel like there isn’t nearly enough harmonic variety in this album however. It feels like you’re going back and froth between the same two, maybe three chords each time in a song. The only sense of progression is through the riffs and when harmonic pattern abruptly changes. It doesn’t really feel jarring at all, but it is noticeable when you listen closely. There’s also this interlude in the middle of the album that’s a mixture of ambient and spoken word, and it feels not necessarily out of place, but it feels unnecessary. It kills a lot of the momentum the album has, and just left me confused as to why it was there. A 33 minute is short enough that it doesn’t need an interlude anyway. Regardless, while the tech death pickins have been slim this year, this is one of the few albums that really stands out above the rest. There are some truly beautiful riffs and moments here, and while it’s not top shelf by any means, it’s certainly worth a listen if you’re a fan of tech death.