Throes of Dawn – Our Voices Shall Remain

Absolutely gorgeous. Immensely melancholy, sad, soothing, and smooth. It’s like hearing your hands run through silk. I love all the little bit and pieces they put into each track to make them interesting, like the saxophone on One of Us Is Missing, or the piano throughout the album. It runs a bit long, and I feel like it has a little bit too much of a “putting you to sleep” vibe, but it’s lovely none the less. Very relaxing if anything else.


Ēōs – Third Demo

Absolutely fantastic demo. The main theme is present, but there’s enough slow evolution to keep your interest, which is really difficult to do in funeral doom. I especially love that opening synth, and really wish they would’ve done a bit more with that, other than play it in the background. It’s this cool moog like synth that sounds like it came right out of a black church service. Obviously it’s hard to comment on something that’s just a demo, but I’m extremely excited to see this band’s first album, moreso than I’ve been for any other band I think. It’s rare to have quality funeral doom outside of major bands, so it’s so inspiring to see it from such an obscure band, especially one that makes a demo that’s this ridiculously well produced.


Head of the Demon – Sathanas Trismegistos

It’s extremely rare that I find an album that’s tagged as just doom metal and nothing more. The modern trend is to have doom metal be an either supplementary genre, have it be a subgenre of doom metal, or have it be the main genre but with other stuff filled in. At this point it’s almost like tagging something as just black metal. It really doesn’t describe the album at all. Black metal could mean a ton of things, and similarly just doom metal could mean any number of things, especially as I don’t believe I’ve ever reviewed something tagged as only doom metal (I didn’t check though, don’t quote me on that). So I went into Sathanas Trismegistos completely blind, and came out completely satisfied. It’s like they showed me what I wanted to hear when I didn’t even know myself. Head of the Demon puts forth in their second album a fantastic occult doom metal journey that above all goes against the trend of adding heaviness and noise, and instead focuses on what actually matters when it all comes down to it; songwriting.

The most important point I can make about Sathanas, above anything else I will write here, is how carefully crafted each riff is. Every riffs succeeds the next in a logical fashion, and not in just “I’m going to repeat this endless then switch like once or twice”, but as in the riffs and constantly evolving and changing to the music, creating an actual structure to the music. The tracks here in a way remind me of some instrumental djent albums (bet you weren’t expecting that analogy huh?) in that the songs are not so much songs, but progressions that continue on a logical path. There isn’t so much a main riff as much as a continuation of riffs that bring the listener towards the end. Not a single note on this entire album is wasted, and I always need to mention that every time it comes up, because it’s such a refreshing thing to hear in metal every time it comes up, let alone in fucking DOOM METAL of all things. You know, the “we’re going to be as heavy and monotonous as possible” metal genre?

That actually brings me another point of a refreshing aspect of this album, it really isn’t heavy at all. Heaviness is such an overused technique in doom metal today, to where I am almost considering it a negative nowadays. Fuck, I just reviewed an album today that I bashed for being nothing more than heavy mush, and that will certainly not be the last album I critique as such this year (or even this summer I bet). The actual heaviness level of this album is psychedelic rock tier, aside from maybe the title track, which bring forth the one time on the album where they decided to tighten the grip on the listeners ears, but just a tad. And that just demonstrates how intelligent these guys are at making music. There’s only one part of the entire album that gets heavy at all, and it’s probably the best moment of the album. The song flows perfectly into a buildup and climax with the harsh (well, somewhat harsh) vocals, and the crushing (well, crushing like a hard pillow) guitars, and then fades away at an appropriate pace. I really just can’t emphasize enough how good these guys are at crafting music, it’s so awesome to hear this stuff coming from an unknown doom metal band. As  music writing myself, I appreciate the fuck out of this, mad props.

The problem is once they blow their load, they kinda just sit there in a stupor wondering what to do next. No song sounds the same, but no song sounds different either. It’s all another take on the same formula, sans the title track somewhat. I personally think to create a great album, you need at least one track where you show what else you got, and really change things up, while still remaining true to the albums themes. Head of the Demon stay true to the themes, but never really go outside for that.

Which isn’t really that awful here, the themes they lay upon are pretty great. This calm, ominous, satanic doom metal atmosphere has the aura of a black metal album, but the soul of an old school doom record. For all it’s faults (well, one major one), it delivers a very unique experience in this day and age, and is absolutely one of my top doom metal albums this year.


Goatpsalm – Downstream

This is THE album to prove that Rateyourmusic ratings are complete bullshit. This has some of the most unique atmosphere I’ve heard in an album this year. How often do you hear siberian mouth harps with funeral doom metal, combined with nature recordings and tribal drums? And it’s not just unique, it’s done well. It feels like an ode to the mystical natural world, and it feels that way in a completely organic manner. Sure there are some moments where the synths are a bit misplaced, or the vocals sound a bit too bizzare, but otherwise this is a spectacular work whose premise I have never experienced before, and boy am I glad I gave this a chance. There’s no joke here, just fucking listen to this you dweeb.


Rhapsody of Fire – Into the Legend ALBUM REIVEW

God damn it’s been a long time since I got to actually review (which means Gloryhammer doesn’t count) a power metal album I really enjoyed. I was initially quite put off by the immediately use of the typical fantasy music vii-i resolution, which by the way, can we just stop that? It really doesn’t add anything musical, it’s like literal filler in music form. You’re modulating by unrelated half steps, how is that supposed to make me feel anything? Anyway, I was soon proven wrong by a BLAST of energy, a crashing wave of pure symphonic euphoria that completely blew my socks off.

Let’s just start with that fucking production. Holy shit, this is some absolute top notch quality material. It’s super clean, but you can’t really feel how clean it is because there’s so much going on. So many production jobs that are super clean make that fact really apparent in how empty everything is. But Rhapsody of Fire makes sure that this isn’t the case, sending sonic booms through your ears, washing your consciousness away with pure epic music. It’s sort of like going to a high budget 3D IMAX movie. The plot line is mediocre, but the special effects are so fucking good you don’t give a shit. And I would gladly not give a shit, but Rhapsody thankfully gives me a good reason to.

Beyond simple effects like orchestra and choirs and synths, musically this album is far superior to the large majority of power albums I’ve heard. It’s not in a super in your face way, but there are enough interesting chords changes, and twists and turns throughout each track to keep me interested in every note on almost every track (I’ll get to that later). Sure there’s plenty of awesome shredding galore. But what’s better playing fast on a guitar? How about playing fast on a guitar and STILL incorporating riffs and being completely on topic to the chord changes and music! It’s shocking, it’s almost as if playing lots of notes doesn’t have to be completely brainless! Whoda thunk.

And it’s not just the music or the extra material, it’s the entire textural variety of the album. Every song is unique in its own way, and throughout the large majority of the album, despite it’s over hour long length, I did not feel bored. Aside from there just being soft tracks and loud tracks, but unique varieties of instruments and musical tone. Even tracks like Winter’s Rain, which has a relatively consonant melodic contour, has the backing of soaring operatic female vocals, of which creates actual tension in a power metal album. Tension in power metal? Strong emotional reactions to the music in power metal? These can happen? Apparently so. This same operatics is displayed on Valley of the Shadows, and it’s fucking over the top that on any other album I’d just groan at it. But it fucking works here, because it’s just executed so perfectly. Nothing feels forced, and it never seems like the band is biting off more than it can chew.

If there is one failure in Into the Legend, it’s actually the finale. And it’s really only because the track previous, Rage of Darkness, makes for such a great closer in itself. While it’s no longer than any of the other tracks, it ends with such finality, and contains one of the most awesome shred solos I’ve ever heard in a power metal album. If the album ends there it’s approaching 9/10 territory. However instead we get a 16 minute “epic”. While yes, it is a pretty awesome track itself, The Kiss of Life doesn’t feel like it evolves the album to its final conclusion. If anything, it feels like any of the other tracks, but longer and on a larger scale. Not bad by itself, but after hearing all the same tricks for 50 minutes prior, the album finally runs out of steam. It’s like the band had exhausted all of its ideas, and decided to end by just taking all those other ideas, and being even louder about it. Listen to that track was the first time on the entire album I felt bored. The 67 minute play time finally started to feel like a 67 minute album. And it’ such a shame, because I was really looking forward to putting my 9 pants on. Unfortunately, they’ll have to be kept back into the drawer for now.

Still, regardless of one large misstep, Into the Legend brings out a legendary performance that looks to be a hot contender for best power metal album this year.


Avatarium – The Girl With the Raven Mask ALBUM REVIEW

When the makers of two of the best Doom Metal acts out there (Candlemass and Tiamat) come together to make music, you can only expect greatness from it. The Girl With the Raven Mask absolutely brings that, delivering a top notch doom metal performance that perfectly balances the line between over the top cheese, and serious gloom. It almost feels like what a pop-doom metal album would sound like if that were such a thing. Catchy, if a bit corny, lyrics with distinct choruses and refrains, all played in a very clean and up-front style that delivers you the doom, no bullshit added on. But what I really think this album excels at is knowing when to scale back. Sure there are plenty of times it could’ve revved up that ham meter, but instead chose to quiet down and give us some time to reflect. Very much one of the top doom metal albums of the year, if a bit straightforward for an exceptionally high score.