Tag Archives: Reviews

Grey Widow – I

Grey Widow - I - cover

I is the debut album from English group Grey Widow. The group was formed by members of other bands such as Dopefight, Parole, Thread and The Ergon Carousel and as such is seriously heavy. The album has an oppressive sound with snarling bass and anguished vocals with a distinct sludge metal style mixed with black and doom metal. Each track has a strong feeling of Despair and anger punctuating everything from the vocals to the drums and there is a somewhat distorted sound also in the mix which adds to the malicious atmosphere that permeates the album. The album gets more aggressive the further you progress with vi being a highlight and viii sounding like the onset of hell. Overall the album has an old school approach in that it sets out its theme and expands on it impressively but also manages to keep it minimalist, there is no filler here, no track to simply bulk up the numbers. What is here is dark, nasty, uncompromising, seething with rage and it wants to smash your head in. Fans of doom, sludge or just good metal in general will find plenty to love here and many may find their new favourite band. An excellent listen.

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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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Scutum Crux – The Second Sun

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The Second Sun is the debut album of British Black Metal group Scutum Crux. ‘Reign of Apzu’ starts the album as an instrumental piece that has a militaristic sound akin to music that an army would march to. Fitting perhaps as it leads to ‘Chaos Ritual’ a blisteringly fast track that is destined for live show highlight status.  The sound of the band is similar to Cannibal Corpse with guttural, snarling vocal work paired with machine gun drums and riffs.  ‘Demon Scutum’ carries on with this style to great effect as does ‘Invocation of Powers’ that has a disorienting stop/start pacing broken up by some heroic drum and guitar shredding.  ‘View from Niburu’ is the albums second instrumental piece and is a moody electronic track that would not sound out of place in Blade Runner.  ‘Under the Second Sun’ is slower paced than the other songs on the album but compensates for an initial lack of urgency with a more sinister opening before going into high gear. ‘Black Winter’ is a more brooding track with a more reserved pacing than its predecessors but still has moments of eye watering speed. ‘Horus’ is the final track and is another instrumental.  The Second Sun is an impressive first album with excellent guitar and drum work to help the band differentiate themselves from others in the black metal genre. If you are on the hunt for a new band Scutum Crux is a good place to start.

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Scutum Crux is:

Demiurge (Vocals, Guitars), Svarth (Drums), Nebullah Q (Bass).


Axecatcher – We Watch The Sun Burn

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To use a Video Game analogy -entering nerd territory- We Watch The Sun Burn has a little in common with the latest Metal Gear Solid entry.  The latest in that series (Ground Zeroes) feels very much like a teaser.  Something to get you primed for the main event which is still some way off, to build excitement, hype and get you over excited so that you’re throwing money at imaginary salesmen.  The same can be said of the latest extended play from Northern Ireland four-piece Axecatcher.  Some of you may be familiar with them for their previous work which is reviewed here.  We Watch The Sun Burn is a relatively short EP consisting of three tracks but while short they are sweet.  ‘Genghis Thrash Khan’ is fast and furious with blistering riffs and shrill vocal’s which lead to ‘Cinders’ which while not as fast paced as its predecessor is just as heavy.  ‘N.O.V.A’ completes the set, it’s a thrilling thrash/punk track with some excellent guitar work and frantic drumming.  I have described this as a teaser because it is, what’s here is excellent and there’s some amazing riffs here for fans of Hardcore/Thrash metal but there’s more to come from this Limavady quartet and I can’t wait to hear it.

Axecatcher is:
Karson Browne (Lead Vocal), Ryan Montgomery (Guitar & Lead Vocals), Colin Wilson (Bass & Backup Vocals), Danny Kane (Drums).

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Avgrunden – Det Stora Oväsendet

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‘Det stora oväsendet’ is the latest offering from Swedish group Avgrunden (The Abyss).  The band plays a drone, doom metal style with an experimental side also.  The album is entirely instrumental reinforcing the experimental nature of the group.  Opening track ‘Duellen’ has a distinct sound with plucked strings and is reminiscent of a soundtrack to a western that serves as an introduction to ‘Polstjarnan’ that has a more structured style including drum beats and heavier riffs.  ‘Tusen Ar’ has a more melancholic feel that is shared with ‘Mylingen’ a consciously slower paced track again employing the western style strings and occasional echoing drum beats as well as wailing guitars.  ‘Domedagsklockan’ has an oppressive undertone running through it with a deep sinister bass sound complementing the drums and guitars that evokes a feeling of desolation.  ‘Drommen’ on the other hand is suitably climactic with its Mexican standoff style instrumental work.  To summarise ‘Det stora oväsendet’ should appeal to fans of experimental or doom metal with the absence of lyrics allowing the music to take centre stage.  It’s a relatively short album but the tracks included make up for it.  It may also appeal to those who enjoy the works of Ennio Morricone or Gustavo Santaolalla,  Morricone’s spaghetti western sound and Santaolalla’s minimalist style are a good fit in the metal genre and is a great investment for those seeking something different in their doom metal.  Well worth checking this one out.

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Avgrunden is:

Victor Granat (Electric Guitar & Devices), Johan Hägglund (Bass Guitar & Devices), Johan Norberg (Drums).


Stroszek – Wild Years of Remorse and Failures

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Wild Years of Remorse and Failures is a reissue of two albums by Stroszek. It incorporates the albums ‘Songs of Remorse’ and ‘Life Failures Made Music’ as well as the ‘Wild Hunt’ EP and two cover songs. The albums were originally released between 2007-2009 and were notoriously difficult to obtain hence the re-release. Both albums have been remastered and the ‘Songs of Remorse’ album has had all its vocals re-recorded. The musical style is an acoustic folk combination mixed with dark rock. Clean vocals on the tracks immediately set Stroszek apart from most groups in the dark rock genre as well as the use of acoustic guitars.  The first album ‘Remorse’ has a strong folk band or country music feel with acoustics and gentle drums punctuated with the occasional burst of electric guitars and heavier drum beats merging with the melancholic vocals. Stand out tracks on the first album include a cover version of Dick Curless’ ‘Bury the Bottle with Me’ ‘The Railroad Track’  and ‘Sand’.  The second album ‘Failures’ has a heavier rock sound compared to ‘Remorse’ with a more oppressive theme of sadness and despair complemented with some dark metal style riffs and heavy drums reinforcing the theme of failure. It still retains the acoustic sound but it’s not as prevalent as it was in ‘Remorse’ with more songs employing electric guitars. Highlights for ‘Failures’ include another cover song, this time Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Tecumseh Valley’, whilst elsewhere ‘Land of Silence and Darkness’ and ‘Secret of the Earth‘ sound splendid.  In Conclusion  Wild Years of Remorse and Failures is a great album for those curious about Stroszek and long-time fans eager to hear how their old favourites sound remastered. It also provides an opportunity for those who missed out first time around to get their hands on a copy.  It’s an extremely accomplished collection of two fine works (Personally ‘Remorse’ just wins in the better album contest) and on the evidence of this it isn’t difficult to see why it has been so difficult to get hold of.

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Stroszek is:

C. (Vocals & Guitar), Davide (Bass), Richard (Drums).


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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