Category Archives: Metal

Hexenjäger – Demo

Hexenjäger

March 2015 saw the release of one of the finer demo’s this year by French doom metal quartet Hexenjäger.  The band take their name for the German meaning for Witch Hunter.  Opening track ‘Hexenjäger’ has an unsettling spoken dialogue intro.  Bassist Flo explains.  “The exchange at the beginning of the demo is an audio sample from the movie ‘Inquisicion’ (the first ever film directed by Spanish actor, Paul Naschy).  He is tryin to get an assumed witch to confess to making a pact with the prince of darkness.  The woman keeps reiterating that she is not a witch (No lo soy bruja).  The pace of the track does not waver throughout, with the main riff is undoubtedly a tip of the hat to the legendary Black Sabbath, on the title track of their self-titled masterpiece of 1970.  The vocals of are haunted, elongated and bellowing.  Chilling stuff.  Second track ‘Murk’ boasts a lurking behemoth of a riff.  Unfortunately the vocals are not as strong here.  Lead singer Charly seems to struggle to hit the high notes at around five minutes in.  However, it is not something that could not be rectified in future releases and on the strength of this demo, there will surely be many more to come.

Hexenjäger are
Charles (Guitars), Ben (Drums), Charly (Vocals), Flo (Bass).

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ICOSA – The Skies Are Ours

ICOSA - The Skies Are Ours
Progressive / Metal trio ICOSA have been turning heads of late with their debut EP entitled The Skies Are Ours. It’s not difficult to understand why either. Lead track ‘Ermangulatr’ kicks off the EP rather calmly with some gentle guitar work before the drum work of Jack Ashley pierces the speakers with a catchy yet complex beat that is soon followed by dual guitars from Messrs Tattersall and Douglas. There are some clever tempo changes on here, showcasing the talents of this London based group even further. The EP is available to purchase through the band and it comes in a very well presented card wallet with artwork having been supplied by Hannah Tattersall. Sandwiched nicely between the aforementioned ‘Ermangulatr’ and closing track ‘Trepidation’ is ‘The Skies Are Ours: 1′ and ‘The Skies Are Ours: 2’. Part 1 sounds much like Mastodon, with a catchy and swirling riff that creates the backbone of the track. Part 2 is a little shorter in length but a lot more groove-laden with the rhythm section sounding more like Tool this time. There are blast beats here and some frenetic riffage which you will find yourself nodding along to. Final track and my personal favourite ‘Trepidation’ is yet another monster track, the main riff is fast, dirty and superbly executed. The outro features a brilliant trickling guitar riff hovering nicely over the main rhythm guitar that bursts to life in the closing minutes. Overall a very impressive offering from ICOSA, and they certainly have a lot of fresh ideas that I for one will be looking forward to hearing more of in albums to come.

ICOSA will play The Horn, St. Albans in September and Esquires, Bedford in November. Well worth checking out.

ICOSA are:
Tom Tattersall (8 String Guitars & Vocals), Stacey Douglas (7 String Guitars), Jack Ashley (Drums).

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Hagstone – Ancient, Majestic

Hagstone - Ancient, Majestic

The story of Hagstone begins in 2009 as four men sat in a “boozer” in the north of London. On that fateful night the guys gave themselves unto the God of Doom and set forth determined to create heavy, riff driven music. The result of their efforts is their debut EP “Ancient, Majestic”.

As you may have gathered from the title and perhaps the cover artwork, “Ancient, Majestic” is heavily influenced by ancient, mythological stories and legends. It also borrows from some darker concepts inspired by writers such as Poe, Byron, Coleridge, Shelly and Lovecraft. Hagstone combines elements of stoner rock with some of the more down tempo elements of traditional doom. I’d go so far as to suggest that Hagstone leans more towards the traditional doom metal side. The clean, quivering sound of the vocals really gives the music a classic doom kind of a feel. Hagstone does lack some of that oh so precious dirty fuzz of other stoner branded acts opting instead for a slightly cleaner, overdriven sound. That being said it can still be heavy at times. There’s a bit of an 80’s metal vibe that shines through like on the track “Not a Dream”. Something that might just be amplified by the sound of the vocals. It may be appealing to some but if I’m being completely honest it is a bit of a buzz kill for me. It’s not that it is necessarily a bad thing, it just doesn’t quite fit in with my own personal tastes. All of this together gives “Ancient, Majestic” a somewhat classic era doom metal vibe.

The first song “Nowhere Child” is one of stronger tracks featured on “Ancient, Majestic”. The opening riff is by far the best riff on the EP bringing visions of tripping on peyote as desert sands swirl and tumble weed bounces beneath a blistering sun. It immediately sets the head in motion without so much as a second thought. The song looses some of its muster midway through as it turns into an 80’s ballad but regains strength as it builds back up, returning to the desert rock groove of the opening riff. “Like a Rat” showcases more of the traditional doom aspect of Hagstone’s sound with chunky, palm muted riffs. “A Moment of Clarity” is a cool little instrumental track that lives up to its name acting as a quick break before the final two tracks. As I mentioned already “Not a Dream” has a bit of that classic 80’s vibe I’m not so keen on but “Burn Me Blind” might just be my favourite track. There’s nothing overly special about it, it’s just heavy and catchy as shit.

Overall Hagstone have put forth a strong debut offering. The production is solid, the music is tight and for the most part the songs are all different and memorable. It is music that you can re-listen too without any hesitation.

Hagstone are:
Andy (Bass), Istvan (Drums), Deko (Guitars), Rob (Guitars), Gio (Vocals)

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Corrosion of Conformity – IX

Corrosion of Conformity - IX
By Lee Webb

Its fair to say that if you’re getting the new C.O.C. album, it’s not because you’ve heard all the media and hype first. C.O.C. do ‘low key’ better than most and have done since they began some 30 years ago. To that end, you have an idea about what you’re expecting from a new release before you even put it in the player. This new L.P. is split almost right down the middle between two of their past styles. First you have that dirty, down tuned, sludge style of ground out heavy riffs you got from tracks like ‘Man or Ash’ (Wiseblood). It was a style that featured heavily on 2005’s In the Arms of God. This slower, more distorted sound continues throughout the first four tracks, with a small break for and almost Ramones inspired ‘Denmark Vesey’ where you can hear Mike Dean yelling, “Kill, Kill, Kill” like a true rebel! While we’re on the subject of Dean’s voice, it’s still clear that he’s not up to the standard of Pepper Keenan, but he’s definitely improved since their last record with him handling all the vocals himself. Track 5 is entitled ‘Interlude’ in a similar way to ‘Mano de Mono’ (Deliverance) and what follows is so tangibly different, you could be forgiven for thinking the tracks had all been lifted from studio sessions that were ten years apart. This second half of the record is much more like the cleaner, crisper guitar sound you had on Deliverance and in my opinion is the better for it. Compared to the last record, this is a major improvement. I’m not sure if they lost their way or didn’t know where to start with it, but either way, this is better. It’s not going to dazzle the way Deliverance or Wiseblood (or even America’s Volume Dealer) does, but it is a solid 7/10 performance.

 

IX is available from 23 June through Candlelight Records.

Corrosion of Conformity are:
Woodroe Weatherman (Guitar), Mike Dean (Bass & Vocals), Reed Mullin (Drums & Vocals).

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Bast – Spectres

Bast - Spectres

Having been playing together since 2008, this year finally sees the debut release from Black Metal Doom trio Bast. And it seems that the latin phrase of ‘omne trium perfectum’ (everything that comes in threes is perfect) could be true for this London trinity, as this is one of the finest debuts in this genre for some time. The group have no shortage of experience, having shared the stage with bands such as Winterfylleth, Walk Through Fire and Nachtmystium in recent times. The record opens with the aptly titled ‘In The Beginning’, a sorrowful clean guitar intro is soon crushed by the relentless pressure of feedback. The stinging blast beats ensure that the song is driven forward with unwavering determination. Elsewhere, ‘Denizens’ rumbles along with a sauntering riff that is so big that you could park a bus between each note. However, it is without question that the shining beacon here is the title track ‘Spectres’. Awash with melody, and intensity in equal capacity. ‘Psychonauts’ is a mammoth instrumental triumph, clocking in just shy of twelve minutes. Finally, closing track ‘Outside The Circles Of Time’ demonstrates the capabilities of the group as musicians and the best vocal performance of the record from Craig Bryant who incidentally, is also responsible for the dazzling album artwork. However it is not long until the vast riffs surface once more to engulf the listener with punishing aggression. If you are a fan of this type of music then you should check these guys out, you won’t be disappointed.

Bast embark on a UK tour this March with Liverpool’s Conan.

Bast are:

Craig Bryant (Vocals, Guitar), Jon Lee (Drums), Gavin Thomas (Bass).

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Black Bow Recordings


HellHate – Retsonretap

Retsonretap

Retsoretap is the debut EP from East Ukrainian Black Metallers Hellhate. The group is made up of Ugrum (Guitar, Vocals), the brilliantly named Rabid Blasphemer Noxious (Bass) and Drummer Bloodsucker. ‘Hellhate’ is first with slow brooding guitar work that gradually builds over its short running time and plays like a teaser for ‘Retsonretap’ which has a much more classic black metal/rock sound referencing other groups like Black Sabbath with its mix of guitars and drums. ‘Up to the Stench’ has a frantic pace complemented by Cradle of Filth style shrieks and deep primal bass drums along with impressive string work. Elsewhere, ‘Your Pain is my Bread’ is yet another fast paced number that has an undercurrent of malice running through it, giving it an aggressive tone.  ‘Incense smells not better than Crap’ completes the EP with another furious track with Ugrum’s vocals easily carrying the song to its conclusion. Overall the impression of this EP is that the group has found what they are trying to accomplish soundwise but are still tinkering with each component to fully realise their vision. Retsonretap is well worth a listen if you’re a follower of Black Metal and are looking for a new group to sink your teeth into. They have real talent to be certain but it feels as though they may be holding back somewhat from fully delivering what they’re obviously capable of.  Perhaps, subconsciously the trio are withholding the best for the full-length?  Only time will tell.

Hellhate are:

Ugrum (Vocals & Guitars), Noxious (Bass), Bloodsucker (Drums)

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