Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Swallowed By Apathy- Dysgenesis

Swallowed By Apathy is a progressive death metal band from the US. Some of you may remember our review for their previous EP not too long ago. They followed up that EP rather quickly and have improved vastly since. This debut full-length consists of eight new tracks and a cover. Dysgenesis clocks in at just over forty minutes and throughout that time you will be taken on a tour of the many sounds that Swallowed By Apathy bring forth on this release.

The guitar playing here is pretty complex for the most part. Every riff sticks in your head and a wide range of techniques are used. Though many sections here are fairly intricate none of the songs are overly technical. It is clear when listening that all the members are well rounded with their instruments and have some solid experience under their belts. The bass also has some great moments. The most notable is on the track "Cynical Transparency" which starts off with some crazy bass playing and also has a very overpowering, thick sound when compared to the rest of the tracks on the album.

One thing that has improved in a major way since the first EP is the clean vocals. The delivery has gotten much more powerful. Most likely the power that  was lacking on the first EP may have been due to the production values, but either way it really seems like he is holding back less here. As usual Brandon Mitchell brings a wide variety of vocal styles to the table and delivers them all well. The cleans play a huge role in the albums overall sound so the improvement in that department is more than welcome. For the most part choruses consist of fairly catchy soaring clean vocals. There is also an amazing guest spot on "Sleep Paralysis" with Chris Clancy (ex- Mutiny Within vocalist), who also mixed the album. The production on this album is leaps and bounds ahead of their debut. This really helps get the intensity across overall and makes for a much more pleasant listen all around.

The variety of tracks featured on Dysgenesis is huge. Each song has it's own special vibe and none of them blend together. This makes for an extremely interesting listen and shoots the replay value through the roof. With that being said, one thing is always consistent, the songwriting is top notch all the way through. Whether it be an epic track like "Journey of the Lucid" or a heavy hitter like "Idiosyncrasy" it is clear that a vast amount of time was put into crafting every single song to be the best that it can be. Also included on the album is a cover of "Crystal Mountain" by Death. I mentioned in my previous review for the bands EP that a few aspects of their sound (especially some of Mitchell's vocals) reminded me of Death. Their version does the original justice and is hands down the best Death cover I have ever heard. In terms of covers a better choice could not have been made, it fits perfectly with the rest of the album and doesn't disrupt the flow like many covers do.

Overall considering it is the bands first full-length, Dysgenesis is an incredibly mature effort. I can only see their sound getting better and expanding from here. Fans of the EP will definitely be impressed with this album, and newcomers will most certainly be coming back for more in the future. Anyone looking for progressive death metal should give this release a listen immediately. Get.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gurut- Every Broken Promise

Gurut is a one man black metal project from Montana. The project started up in 2009 and there has been a slew of demos recorded since then. Major signs of improvement have occurred since the past releases and it is very noticeable in the structures/overall sound of the tracks featured here. Gurut finally has managed to capture a solid atmosphere without sacrificing any of the songwriting and the results are excellent.

The demo opens with the beautiful instrumental "Every Broken Promise". The music truly speaks for itself and sucks you in fully from the very beginning. It is very depressing but somehow uplifting at the same time. This clean side of Gurut hasn't shown too often in the past but when it is wonderful things happen. Luckily this release dives a little deeper into the more melodic clean passages that make Gurut so appealing. Some of the clean elements in "Every Broken Promise" make a return at the end of the track "I've Failed You", and to top it off the closer "Home..." is also an acoustic instrumental. During the acoustic section on "Mere Belief" insanely loud and aggressive drums come in randomly and it clashes big time with the calm atmosphere. Somehow it works out well though and actually managed to get the heart racing.

The guitar playing is one thing that really makes Gurut an interesting listen. While the music is mainly black metal there is a ton of soloing throughout. This gives some of the tracks an almost upbeat feeling. These solos can get a tad sloppy at times but it tends to fit perfectly with the raw sound that Gurut produces. Mixing is a little odd on some tracks. The drums are very overpowering for the most part, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but it never detracts too much from the music. The vocals are drenched in distortion and end up sounding similar to Megiddo in many ways. There is little to no variation in vocal style but the vocals pretty much fall to the wayside since most of your attention is focused on the interesting fretwork and atmosphere.

Overall Gurut has improved quite a bit with this release. The songwriting has matured plenty and it just seems like everything that needed work before has been revamped. There is a solid mixture of acoustic and black metal passages heard here and it balances out well. This is definitely the best Gurut release yet and it is also the best starting point for those looking to get into the band. Any fans of black metal that aren't afraid to get melodic at times should give this one a shot. This release is packed full of emotion and the music truly does all the talking.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cognitive- Demo 2011

Cognitive is a four piece band from New Jersey. They formed in 2011 and have already released this three track demo and have plans of recording a five song EP in the near future. They play what can best be described as technical death metal, but there are clearly strong influences from other styles coming through. This demo clocks in at just over eight minutes, but Cognitive manages to cram plenty of quality material in this short amount of time. They realize that first impression is a big deal and they pull absolutely no punches within the short runtime of this release.

The guitar playing is insanely tight from start to finish. Many slamming grooves are scattered throughout the three tracks but things are always kept interesting and you never find yourself feeling even a hint of boredom. The solos featured on the demo are amazing and they always fit the song perfectly. "The Horrid Storm" has one of the most effective solos I've heard in quite some time. The tracks builds up slowly, reaches its climax and then fades out with a solo that can only be described as flawless. The track "Falling Skies" has some very tasty bass playing which is another aspect of Cognitive that puts them above and beyond. The bass is audible for a good portion of the release and there is a constant flow of awesome bass playing, whether it be during the punchy section in "Separation Anxiety" or during the solo moments on "Falling Skies".

All three of the songs differ from each other in many ways. At times things are just straight up brutal and groovy as hell and then all of the sudden they will break into a proggy section. Each track has one thing in common though, they are all well crafted and executed with deadly precision. On occasion you expect a song to go a certain way and they throw a curveball and it goes into a completely different direction, but somehow they manage to keep everything cohesive and they never go far enough into left field to make you lose interest. Ramirez's brutish vocals push the intensity to the max and he delivers every single line with the utmost power. Castro's drumming also adds a great deal to the overall sound. He is able to pummel the kit when necessary (see "Separation Anxiety") but he can also hold back when it is needed (see "The Horrid Storm").

Overall Cognitive have created an excellent demo. It may only be three tracks but it is definitely enough for me to put them on my "bands to watch" list. The potential shown here is fairly promising. They already have a pretty distinguishable sound which is very rare for a band just starting out. Fans of any variation of death metal should check this out, it is up for free on the bands facebook page and is definitely worth a listen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hatred Embraced- Suffering of the Holy demo

Hatred Embraced is an old school death metal band from New Jersey. They formed back in 2007 and have since released three demos. Suffering of the Holy is the latest demo and it consists of four tracks along with a rehearsal thrown in as a bonus. Rather than going with the Autopsy worship or old school Swedish sound that everyone else seems to latch onto these guys take a slightly thrashier route. That being said you will still hear some major influence from bands like Suffocation and Death among others.

The demo starts off packing heavy punches on "Moloch... The Devourer". The track utilizes some very sinister sounding tremolo picked sections, which is an aspect of the band that is heard throughout this demo. Each track differs in structure from the last which really helps with the pacing of the release. At times things can get quite epic while maintaining the bands raw sound, this happens most often when they slow things down a bit. During these moments plenty of catchy, overpowering riffs can be found.

The guitar tone creates an ominous vibe and Chatterjee's menacing vocals only push those feelings into uncharted territories. He mainly sticks to gravely growls, but every now and then he comes in with some nasty raspy screams. The rough, raspy screams sound great and should be incorporated more often to keep things from getting stale. The drums play a major role in the overall sound of this release. They are very high in the mix and there is surely enough going on to keep Donato very busy behind the kit. The frequent changes in pace keep things interesting all across the board.

Overall Hatred Embraced show quite a bit of potential here. Only time will tell whether these guys can hold their own with the best of them, but if the full-length turns out as good as this I have no doubt we'll be hearing about them more in the future. Fans of death metal in general should give this a look. The new wave of old school death metal has never sounded this evil, and this is truly a breath of fresh air compared to many of the bands that have been coming out sounding like carbon copies of one another.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Psyphoria- Old School Hippie Tits EP

Psyphoria is a grind/death metal band from New Jersey. This EP contains five tracks and clocks in at under 15 minutes (mind you one of the tracks is over six minutes). You will find some of the most chaotic, weird grind that comes to recent memory on Old School Hippie Tits. Upon first listen you may find yourself scratching your head, because Psyphoria's sound is definitely one that isn't the easiest to digest, but if you give it time the terrifying sounds will all begin to make sense.

The guitar playing throughout the entire EP is very odd and at times has a bit of a sloppy sound.  For the most part this EP is driven by the complex playing and contorting rhythms rather than catchy riffs. That being said the riffs take unexpected turns and will keep you on the edge of your seat up until the end. The slow section featured about 3:30 into "Elixir" is one of the best examples of this. The direction that track takes from that point on plays out like an extremely trippy nightmare.

The drumming featured on this EP almost seems inhuman during some of the faster moments (which is a good chunk of this release). The pounding drums definitely get the adrenaline rushing  There is a ton of time changes throughout the EP's short runtime and it really keeps things fresh and interesting. A few sections on the could even be considered proggy, these sections give some time in between the chaos to take a deep breath and regain your senses just in time for your next pummeling.

Overall Psyphoria has created one hell of a monster with Old School Hippie Tits. Just when it seems like the band is going to derail and turn into a steaming pile of slop they pull it back together and pull you right back in. Fans of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and In Vacuo will probably find something to their liking here. Though the band is more extreme than the ones previously mentioned they certainly have their similarities. Old School Hippie Tits is definitely a grower but after a few plays everything will click and after it does click you'll find it in heavy rotation for the awhile. Considering how solid this short EP is it is hard to imagine how much damage a full-length from these guys would do. Only time will tell. Get it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kaiju- The Gods Are Angry

Kaiju is a metal band that formed back in 2008. I say metal band because it is very difficult to pigeonhole these guys to one specific sub-genre. They play a style that is primarily death metal but there is also a fairly doomy aspect to their music as well. They have went on to release a full-length, an EP, and a split with Druid Lord since this release. If the band name wasn't a big enough hint I'll let it be known that these guys dig monsters, you'll hear all about it throughout this release and any other release you decide to pick up from the band.

The thing that stands out the most on this release is the atmosphere. The entire demo seems like the perfect soundtrack for walking around an old foggy graveyard at night. The keyboards also add to this aspect creating the feeling of an old school horror flick. In the end all of this works towards grabbing your full attention and prevents the demo from simply becoming "background music". That being said even with all this thick atmosphere completely pulling you into the listening experience, the tracks are too brief for their own good. The longest track just barely breaks three minutes, and the style Kaiju is playing here calls for long epic tracks. Most of the songs here just come across as solid appetizers even though they could amount to be huge main course meals.

This release opens with the very crushing track "Hellbender", which features an earthshattering rhythm heavy enough to wake even the most elusive creatures in the world. The guitar playing is killer from start to finish. For the most part the riffs are very heavy and catchy but on occasion they are interrupted by some crazy shredding. Upon first listening it appears that the shredding is just randomly thrown in but with further listens I couldn't imagine it being any other way. These sections are well crafted and will have you playing air guitar like a goddamn fool in no time, trust me, I can tell you this based off personal experience (in public).

Nev's vocals are just as brutal as I've come to expect. Having only heard his work with Loathsome before this I was slightly disappointed in the lack of highs. His shrieks on the Loathsome demo are possibly the most vile I've ever heard. With that being said, even without his signature shrieks being used he still has a pretty unique growl. He remains to be one of the few that really manages to standout from the legions of other death metal vocalists.

Overall Kaiju definitely wield an extremely unique sound. Aside from the song length issue this release is pretty much perfect. Fans of death and doom metal will find something to enjoy here without a doubt. Even fans of the more traditional realms of heavy metal might find themselves enjoying some of the riffs here quite a bit. Kaiju's sound actually should appeal to metal fans all across the board. They certainly have shaped their own style and defining it is nearly impossible. Give this a listen.