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Doom:VS – Earthless

Doom:Vs - Earthless

After almost 6 years Doom:VS is finally back with a new album, “Earthless”. “Earthless” is the third full length from this side project of Draconian guitarist Johan Ericson and was released this past May by the Russian Doom label Solitude Productions.  On previous releases Ericson took on all of the vocal duties himself – and did a really nice job of it. This time around however, he has enlisted the help of Saturnus vocalist, Thomas A.G. Jensen who brings his trademark deep, guttural growls and soft spoken words. Jenson’s vocals bring a strong Saturnus feel to the music which blends with uncanny ease into the Doom:VS, Draconian style. Although Jenson’s vocals are very strong and his spoken words add a new element to the music, I’m a bit disappointed that Ericson has chosen to leave out a lot of the clean vocals that made the previous album “Dead Words Speak” so great. This is not to say he has forgotten about them entirely. They do find their way into the last two songs “Oceans of Despair” and “The Slow Decent”. In any case Jenson’s thunderous growls have a way of sending chills through your spine and his spoken word is as strong and sorrowful as ever which more than makes up for the lack of clean singing.

There’s no arguing the fact that “Earthless” is a very solid, doom metal release. In fact it’s one of the best extreme doom releases this year in my opinion. It can be however, slightly predictable. Sometimes though predictability is a welcome thing. Sometimes it’s nice to throw on an album knowing full well that you will find quality song writing, strong production and you can sit back and relax, loosing yourself in the familiar, welcoming feel of the music. I’ve always been fond of the guitar tones Ericson uses. They are unique and recognizable. There’s feeling in the slow, dark riffs and sweeping harmonies of the leads which create a very melancholic yet familiar atmosphere. With Doom:VS this sound is a bit more raw and organic than with Draconian or Saturnus.

As with all Doom:VS releases the music is slow death/doom and does not quite reach funeral doom territory. There are six tracks on the album with the shortest being just under 7 1/2 minutes. The songs flow very well from the opening song “Earthless” to the very last note of “The Slow Ascent”. I can’t say there are any weak moments. Every song is strong and well thought out.  The whole album is just over 50 minutes long but it flows through quicker than you might expect. A sign of a good album and not something a lot of bands in this genre can accomplish.

No matter which way you cut it, “Earthless” is a must listen for any fan of death/doom or even funeral doom. It continues down the tried, tested and true path set by the project’s earlier releases so if you’re expecting ground breaking innovation you will be slightly disappointed. If you just want some very strong, melancholic doom then this album will fulfill all of your expectations and more.

Doom:VS is:
Johan Ericson (All instruments)
Guest vocals performed by Thomas AG Jenson (Saturnus)

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Alaskan – The Weak and the Wounded


Alaskan - The Weak And The Wounded

Ottawa trio Alaskan execute a tantalising form of post hard-core with sheer intensity and a generous slab of sludge thick rhythms.  The lead track from their 2010 release, ‘Bludgeon’ is aptly named as the hooks come thick and fast like a crazed bear in an unrelenting onslaught against its unsuspecting prey. Buzzing bass lines set against clean guitar quickly detonates a flurry of distorted axe work from vocalist and guitarist Gary. The addition of disturbing recorded conversations between a hypnotherapist and his patients either side of the track bring things full circle rather chillingly, the audio is taken from the 2001 Horror film entitled Session 9.  ‘Epicurus’ echoes the darkened foundations which were established firmly in place by bands like Sweden’s Cult of Luna and America’s Isis.  The competent use of feedback that splits the track in half is highly effective in that it helps build the anticipation, while…

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Axecatcher – Sparks and Spears


Fresh from the release of 2012 debut single ‘The Odalisque’, Sparks and Spears is Limavady trio Axecatcher’s first extended play to date. The band has a hardcore style blended with hard rock with a slightly punky sound to it, if band’s like Cancer Bats and Everytime I Die rock your hardcore boat then these guys are most definitely for you.  Raging out of the blocks with lead track ‘Circle Pit Roller Derby’ the guys kick things off with a fast paced and frantic sound complemented by Ryan Montgomery’s shrieking vocals.  Boasting a sublimely executed lacerating riff throughout, the song seems tailor made for mosh pits. ‘Seismic Toss’ follows and is similar to its predecessor.  Heavy and aggressive riffs are the order of the day, which reek of attitude and feature some awesome interweaving guitar harmonies. Although ‘Methuselah’ is the shortest track at roughly fifty seconds, it is a short sharp shock to the senses and is further proof, if it were needed, that these guys are not just one trick ponies. Just like the other tracks it is lightening fast and convulsed in equal measure. Finally we have ‘Youfinder’ which has some pretty sweet riffs and again could quite easily initiate many a mosh pit on it’s own. In conclusion, this is yet another impressive release from the first rate Savour Your Scene label.  Sparks and Spears makes for excellent music to psych yourself up for a night out with your mates – the hard work is done lads, You have found your style and your sound we cannot wait for more of it.

Axecatcher is:

Ryan Montgomery (Guitar/Lead Vocals), Colin Wilson (Bass/Backup Vocals), Danny Kane (Drums).

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Record Store Day – April 21st

Record Store Day - April 21st

Occurring annually on the third Saturday of April, Record Store Day is aimed at bringing together all independent record stores to celebrate the art of music.  Originally the brainchild of Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner, it is now a global tradition, and one that has had the backing of artists such as Metallica, Joshua Homme, Iggy Pop and many more.

In today’s digital age people demand everything yesterday and music is easily downloaded from the internet. Many bands and artists release new material online prior to hard copy release dates.  We have all heard the argument that audio quality is nowhere near as good if you choose to listen to your music in MP3 format as opposed to on CD or Vinyl. However, people appear to be shunning these older formats for the quick and easy option. Online retailers regularly offer albums at a much lower price if bought as a download.

Does this not mean that we are being pushed towards this trend? Browsing in my local record store for vinyl recently reinforced this concern. The average price for a record is between £15 and upwards. This is too expensive in my opinion. What incentive do shoppers have to buy vinyls at these extortionate prices, when they could buy four or five as a digital download for the same price? Especially with the cost of living as high as it has ever been of late.  I recall browsing in my local record store and being introduced to many bands and artists. That in itself was a great experience, today you can find out about an artist in less than ten minutes online.

I much prefer discussion with fellow music enthusiasts and being pleasantly surprised at someone else’s record choice as opposed to what Google can muster up in 0.034 seconds. Music is an art form and MP3s are doing it an injustice. Yes, I can see the benefits of them but aren’t we just being a little too lazy when it comes to browsing?  In the past it was almost treated like a pilgrimage, hanging out at the local record store for hours flicking through scuffed vinyls whilst new and undiscovered music was being played.

Has the way we experience and choose new music changed too much? Have we passed the point of no return? Should the music industry be doing anything about this?

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