Veld – DAEMONIC: The Art Of Dantalian (2015)

Veld Cover

As a classic Death Metal fan, my ideal Death Metal meal is played hard and fast, with no BS getting in the way. Sometimes I like it straightforward and sometimes I like it with the additional melodic and technical flavors that were introduced by various Death Metal subgenres over the years, but there is one subgenre of Death Metal that I could never really digest: the Blackened Death Metal. While it seems that it has it all – Melody, technique, even energy to some extent – something is missing for me there, and those pseudo-atmospheric slow passages just make me yell “Bring back my blast beats!”, and put something faster to relax.

It was for these reasons that when I was reading a review on DAEMONIC: The Art of Dantallian on metallibrary.ru
and ran into the words “Belorussian Behemoth”, my curiosity index about this album didn’t seem to rise. As I read on, it said “This album wasn’t just made according to the rules of Polish Death Metal, it moves forward” – and at that point I thought – maybe that is exactly what is missing there for me? Maybe the development that those guys will bring is what I’m looking for?

The band’s Bandcamp site presents the impressive artwork of their latest album, and as it seemed that Veld take things seriously (Listening to a couple of songs on Bandcamp confirmed this impression), I just got the album and listened to it.

And so, here is what’s in store for us.

First of all, it will be very difficult to convince me that all the weird instrumental/atmospheric/psychedelic tracks that metal bands occasionally put on their albums are nothing but fillers that would do the best to improve the
album with their absence. Of course, there are exceptions like Chuck Schuldiner‘s Voice of the Soul, but the vast majority of these tracks have neither voice nor soul.
How many of you listened to Call of Ktulu, the outro track of Metallica‘s Ride The Lightning, untill the end?  Or how much will you miss The Last Call from Testament’s Low? Wouldn’t you prefer to have actual Metal songs instead of most of the tedious tribal instrumental tracks on Soulfly albums? All this rant is due to the lazy start of the album, which begins with 2 minute of an acoustic intro track, after which the first song presents additional 20 seconds of a slow intro. Add another two minutes of more generic acoustic instrumental parts on the 5th track of the album, and you have a total of 4:20 minutes of a filler, which makes about 9% of the album.

If I bothered counting all this, it is probably because I didn’t find anything else to complain about. Even though the album kicks in with energy only at the 3rd track – Constant Suffering – which happens to be my favorite on the album, the rest of the tracks on the album roll over you like an amphibious, heavily armored vehicle that
drives forward through the swamps with a throttle pedal firmly pressed into the floor; the fast double bass over the mid-tempo fat sounding riffs, creates a massive wall of sound, and with the addition of typical-to-the-genre kind of growling vocals, it forms a solid and heavy Death Metal album. The influence of Behemoth is still very apparent here, and since the lineup of Veld includes two musicians from Poland, this influence of the flagmen of the Polish metal scene is inevitable. And yet, Veld do add some spice of their own on top of the standards of the genre, which makes DAEMONIC: The Art Of Dantallian stand out, and also to be the longest-living blackened death metal album in my playlist.

Namely, it is the interesting incorporation of modern Death Metal rhythmic and harmonic elements, often heard in the music of bands such as Meshuggah or Decapitated, into the basic core of Blackened Death Metal. For me this combination definitely added something that was missing for me in Blackened Death Metal as a genre, and if you’re also part of the “Behemoth is overrated” camp, this album is definitely worth a shot for you if you want to try and hear the genre from a different perspective.

With that said, DAEMONIC: The Art Of Dantallian  doesn’t entirely eliminate the flaws for which Blackened Death Metal is usually criticized: being boring and monotonous. As I mentioned before, the album does have interesting elements, but in overall it lacks some energy and it is somewhat difficult to maintain concentration and interest throughout this entire massive mid-tempo sonic substance.
Of course, there are hooks here and there that bring it back, and there are interesting ideas like using clean female vocals on the atmospheric part on the last track, which is unusual for Death Metal – but it is still not enough to bring some color into that dark monotonous swamp, although, since this is something that is typical to the genre, calling it a flaw could be arguable.

About one thing there certainly can’t be any argument, though – about the quality of the musicians and the production of the album.
Everything is performed with top level professionalism and precision, and from a technical point of view, this album is definitely in the major league.
The album art also fits the theme of the album, and looks very impressive.
With such professional attitude and attention to detail in everything, I really wish the band that their efforts will pay off, and we will see the name Veld more often in the lineups of major festivals or tours.

Maybe this album wasn’t enough to change my opinion about Blackened Death Metal as a genre, but I still warmly recommend it to every Death Metal fan- those who are already fans of Blackened Death, will discover a new top-quality album to enjoy, while for the rest, as I already mentioned, this album will offer a different
perspective on the genre.

Dearly Beheaded – Chamber Of One (1997)

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These are hard days for metal musicians, when the road to getting even a tiny bit of support from a record label is filled with thankless labor: online band promotion, tons of energy and money spent on album and music videos production, recording, touring and so on. It’s an absurd situation where unlike in your day job, where you get paid to do your work, you spend hours in the rehearsing room- working and paying for it.

As it takes a lot of energy for a band to stay afloat, many just run out of resources or determination needed to keep going. It’s the law of the jungle here, where only the strongest survive.

Dearly Beheaded – a British Thrash/Groove band from Manchester- unfortunately happens to be one of those bands who couldn’t withstand it due to lack of commercial success and little to none support from their record label. They split in 1997, but fortunately, they left us two wonderful albums – Temptation (1996), and Chamber of One (1997).

Temptation is a great Sludge Metal album, spiced with some Groove-Metal influences, and it’s a highly recommended listening. In this post, however, I will review the second, more polished work of this band – Chamber Of One.

This album saw light in 1997 – a period of expansion for the new wave of American heavy metal, led by acts such as Machine Head, Pantera and Slipknot – and Chamber Of One fits in perfectly: the heaviness and aggression of its composition come from massive sound and smashing grooves rather than from the hyper speed that was typical to the classic Thrash Metal.The massiveness of this album is maintained by fat, cannon-like bass drum sound and extensive usage of double-kick patterns. The guitar sound is tighter and has more body to it than the scooped-midrange sound, so popularized by Pantera, and there’s an abundance of groovy riffs filled with breaks, and energetic, Hardcore style vocals.

Conceptually, the album doesn’t present anything we didn’t already hear before: the tracks keep strictly to the boundaries of the genre, and the lyrical themes conform as well, and yet, this band does not simply dissolve into the mass of a hundred more bands that sound alike. The compositions of Dearly Beheaded have a lot of character, and the listener would easily be able to recognize their style after listening to the album a couple of times.

The first thing that makes this album stand out is the manner in which the drum grooves and guitar riffs work together- when the guitar riffs become more “breaky” and leave more space, the drums step in to fill the gap with an energetic groove to make the part interesting, or on the contrary, whenever the guitar riffs guide the rhythm, the drums leave more space or rather than stand out, emphasize the riff.

The second thing is that despite the fact that the guitar parts are not too sophisticated melodically, the songs are far from being boring: The tracks are composed fluently, with a variety of grooves and smooth transitions between them.

The third thing there is to notice are the vocals, that sit right in that sweet spot between the harshness, and franticness of the Hardcore vocal style, and the thick richness, typical to singers such as Machine Head’s Rob Flynn or Testament’s Chuck Billy.

The fluency and diversity of the tracks applies to the album as a whole: starting with two massive, groovy mid-tempo tracks, continuing with a faster, livelier track, entitled The Escape, which is definitely my favorite track.

After the title track  – Chamber of One – the album returns to a slower, more massive mode for two additional tracks and then throws a bomb in the form of a sudden outburst of new energy – Faceless – another potential hit.

Further on, Dearly Beheaded play a tribute to old school Thrash metal, covering Tribal Convictions by the technical/ psychedelic Canadian act Voivod. Old school purists may not agree with me on this one, butthe significantly more professional vocal performance and the modern flavor Dearly Beheaded gave it, makes the cover sound much better than the original recording.

The two last tracks – A Dead Issue, with its double-bass assault and frantic chords, and the catchy and memorable Haunting Your Horizons, give the album an energetic ending.

The 90’s-2000’s wave of Hardcore / Groove metal gave birth to several excellent albums, including works by bands such as Hatebreed, Sick Of It All, Pro Pain, and Chamber Of One, although not being a famous album by a famous band, holds a strong position in my playlist, alongside of all the albums mentioned earlier. It withstands the test of time for several years already, and that’s exactly why I wanted to present it to you.If you checked out and enjoyed the album, I recommend you to give a listen to their earlier work – Temptation

that was released a year before Chamber Of One. Its style may be closer to Sludge Metal than to Groove or Hardcore, but it’s a fine album that shows the creative potential this band had, which came to its full realization in Chamber Of One.

And if you didn’t check it out yet- what are you waiting for?

Machinergy – Sounds Evolution (2014)

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Following old school metal theme of my previous post here, allow me to introduce Machinergy– an old school thrash metal trio from Portugal!

This band was formed in 2006 and so far released two full length studio albums: Rhythmotion (2010) and Sounds Evolution (2014). As the name suggests, this trio’s music combines the “mechanical”, or industrial, sound element you can find in bands such as Rammstein and Fear Factory alongside with Thrash, Groove metal and even Punk.  Rhythmotion, their debut album, has all these elements. It sounds somewhat experimental and left me under the impression that Machinergy‘s musical style was still in its formation stages.
Their second album, Sounds Evolution, however, is a conceptually solid record where the industrial elements are only there to spice up the Thrash/Death metal foundation, giving the record its own unique character.

The record contains 10 tracks of raw old-school metal, which often resembles Benediction and Fear Factory in their Soul of a New Machine era. While being machine-like, and rhythmically monotonous, these 10 tracks still manage to stay catchy, distinctive and easy to remember, which makes the record interesting.

For those of you who view monotonicity in music as a flaw, this will remain the downside of this album – the drum rhythms are pretty basic and repetitive and there could be more variety in the guitar riffs, especially in the first 3 tracks. If you tend to judge quickly, I would recommend skipping forward to the fourth track –Venomith – from there on the album becomes much more interesting while the raw style is still maintained. Perhaps if Venomith was the second or third track to stir things up, the entire record would have been introduced better and the impression of monotonicity could have been avoided. With that said, the record is still energetic and fun to listen to, and is a big step forward compared to its predecessor.

The bands hard work is felt not only in music, though- the albums YouTube video shows the trio play every song on the album. Remind me, when was the last time you saw a whole album video/playlist that is actually worth watching? But it’s not just the album video- their internet presence in general shows that they put a lot of effort into the bands promotion, and you can easily find interviews, videos, live shows and anything that shows what this trio is capable of. With this amount of work, and the fact that I personally really enjoyed the album, I truly hope their efforts will be rewarded.

There are things that still require some work, of course, before they can reach the major league level; the performance (mainly vocals and guitars) that could be more solid and precise, the rhythm section that could be a bit less monotonous, and better sticking to grammar rules in lyrics, which seems to be underestimated and overlooked (and YES! It is essential for a band that wants to reach professional heights these days) but again, the progress and difference between the first and second album speaks for itself. Also I can’t overlook the fact that releasing two records in this quality in their total nine years of existence, for an unsigned band, is not trivial at all, so maybe I should stop being a judgmental snob.

Bottom line is this- if you’d ask me weather I enjoyed listening to this album, the answer would be a loud and solid YES!

Demisery – Hive Of Mutation (2011)

demisery

Among the things that make metal fans stand out from all other music fans is that in this genre you find the highest percentage of listeners who actually play an instrument- be it a beginner attempting to play metal ballads on an acoustic guitar or a hobbyist- even a professional- playing in a band.

If this happens to be the case with you as well, and your instrument of choice happens to be a guitar, you’re probably familiar with Keith Merrow. If not, then I urge you to watch this and then immediately  go knock down a shot of whiskey to get over the depression caused by how hard you suck compared to him (and then of course keep reading):

Turns out that except for making guitar equipment demonstration videos and collaborating with Jeff Loomis in the Conquering Dystopia project, he also has an old school death metal project called Demisery!

Demisery is a collaboration between Keith Merrow and another known internet guitar master, Gord Olson, who’s also in charge of the vocals, while Keith, in addition, plays the bass. This collaboration gave birth to a full length album titled Hive of Mutation (released in 2011) and it will blow you away like a storm of blatant, yet precise, aggression!

Old school death metal can often be difficult to comprehend, even for die hard metal fans, often due to harsh productions, unpolished performance (or at least so it was in many late 80’s albums) and chaotic or totally monotonous compositions.
Hive of Mutation evolved beyond any of those flaws; created by highly competent musicians who capture the spirit of old school death metal, this is an album where every single note matters, each sound is clear, everything is performed with razor sharp precision and the production is very clear, while still capturing that late 80’s-90’s spirit.

As for the compositions- they maintain the right balance between the harsh brutality typical to this genre with just the right amount of melody in the right places to break the monotonicity and make the album so much more fun to listen to. I would put this album on the shelf somewhere between Spiritual Healing and Human by Death- two albums that also found the right mixture of brutal and comprehensible.
The 10’th track of this album is actually a Death cover – Flattening of Emotions from Human. Demisery’s version is almost identical to the source (even the vocals strongly resemble those of Chuck Schuldiner at that time), but the precise performance gives this song a more modern flavor, emphasizing Chuck Schuldiner’s vast influence on death metal composition and just how relevant this influence still is, almost two decades after his death.

So to summarize, what we have here is a great old school death metal album which can be pleasure to the ears of any heavy music listener, and it’s recommended not only for the die-hard old school fans!

Listen to it here: Demisery: Hive Of Mutation YouTube Playlist

Get it here: Demisery Official Site

INFERNOISE – Chainsaw’s Law – 2008 (Album)

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While trying to properly define these guys’ playing style, I got totally lost in the jungle of style definitions:  Sludge Rock/Metal, Southern rock/metal, groove metal, and so on. So bullshit aside, just take the southern rock vibe, mix in the heavy mass of Clutch, spice it up with some Brand new Sin energies and Pantera groove and the result is a real candy to your ears! 10 catchy, groovy and energetic tracks that will send your short attention span on an unpaid vacation and make you headbang no matter where you are and what you’re doing at the moment.

These guys definitely don’t try to reinvent the wheel in their music, but the vibe of INFERNOISE’s music is so authentic, that if I’ll ask you where do you think they are from, the answer won’t be your first, third nor tenth guess. They are, in fact, from Madrid, Spain, and this fact definitely didn’t prevent them from reproducing all the aspects of American southern metal we all love – The vocals style and singing intonation, the lyrical themes, the groovy drum rhythms with a tasteful double-bass usage, the chugging guitar riffs and screaming leads that often resemble Pantera sound-wise.

You may probably wonder how does this album stand out in the masses of other southern rock albums, and the answer is ridiculously banal- they just write cool songs! Whether it’s because they try harder due to not being American, or just because they are simply talented, but every song has something distinctive of its own and can be remembered after at most a second listening. The album is far from being monotonous as a whole, it stays interesting and maintains the energy from the first song to the very last – a lot of it due to catchy, well written vocal lines. The songs themselves vary from fast outbursts of energy, to slower and more massive ones, and there’s even a ballad with a heavy chorus, in the best traditions of the genre.

As can be vaguely understood from the bands Facebook page, they returned to activity after a recent breakup (The album Chainsaw’s Law was released in 2008), a fact that gives hope that they will release another EP or a full length album in the near future.

They released a new single in 2014 called Just Like Yesterday, and after giving it a couple of plays on YouTube, I am definitely convinced that INFERNOISE have the creativity and the energy to produce another explosive album, and the sooner they do, the better!