Abstracter – Tomb of Feathers
I did not receive a bio with this album, other than a little blurb on the download page, so I did a little looking around online. Information about Abstracter was pretty sparse. Here is what I found: Abstracter is from Oakland, California and “Tomb of Feathers” is their first album. It was funded and produced by the band. Their PR team says their unique sound is influenced by the likes of Amebix, Swans, Bathory, Godflesh and Disembowelment. Other people are making a connection to Neurosis, which I can neither confirm nor deny, as I have never cared for Neurosis enough to be familiar with their material. In terms of style the consensus seems to be that they mix sludge, doom, hardcore and black metal. I have to agree that it is rather difficult to nail down one all-encompassing genre tag.
I may not be able to concisely label Abstracter, but I know what I like, and I like this album. I would like the vocals mixed slightly higher and with a sharper, crisper sound to help cut through the music, but other than that I really dig this album. The songs are heavy, but not so wildly chaotic that one cannot appreciate the song structure, so I was immediately drawn to the shifting, mesmerizing guitars that build the foundation of the sound (ok, technically the drums build the foundation, but the guitars build on that.) The vocals are mostly harsh, but there are also clean vocals that add a forlorn and ethereal flavor as well.
There are only three songs, but each is over ten minutes long and all together the album clocks in at about 40 minutes, so worry not about getting your money’s worth. “Tomb of Feathers” was a very pleasant surprise and I recommend checking these guys out. Here is a taste. This is the first track, “Walls That Breathe.”
Doom’s Day – The Unholy
Doom’s Day hail from Canada and “The Unholy” is their first album. Now, with a band name like Doom’s Day, and a cover that looks inspired by Black Sabbath’s “Born Again”, I was expecting doom metal. That is not exactly what these guys sound like. There is definitely a strong doom element at play here, but take that Black Sabbath ingredient and blend it with an equal portion of Misfits-style punk and you might have a better idea about what to expect.
The opening intro track, “Overture of the Damned” continues the Black Sabbath comparison by beginning with the sound of rain and a church bell, but then adds in organ music. From there we head into the album’s title track and the nature of this album is revealed. I was able to get into the musical aspect of Doom’s Day right away. I really enjoy the metal/punk mix they create.
The vocals…well…let’s talk about the vocals. The first half of the album, the basic verse vocals are barely what I would call singing, they are really just spoken with an evil, punk snarl and a little bit of an edge. This is not all that bad; I mean at least I can make out what he is saying. There is some clean singing in the chorus work, so overall the vocals work for me, but it did take a little while to grow on me. On the second half of the album this gets turned around and the verse tends to be clean and the chorus gets the snarl. This is where I start to get a King Diamond/Mercyful Fate vibe.
I like where they are going with this sound. I am curious to hear where they go next. This style would definitely sound cool with a bigger production behind it. Check it out.
Eugenic Death – Crimes Against Humanity
Eugenic Death is a thrash band from North Carolina and “Crimes Against Humanity” is their first album. I had to look up the word eugenic as I was not familiar with it. According to Dictionary.com the word means “of or bringing about improvement in the type of offspring producted.” It also says “having good inherited characteristics.” So I guess that means Eugenic Death is either the death of progeny, or at least the death of all that is good in said offspring. Yeah, anyway.
With a name like Eugenic Death I was expecting, well, death metal. But like I mentioned, these guys are straight up thrash. Musically this is exactly what one would expect from thrash. There are certainly different types of thrash, but this falls into one of the main archetypal styles that I associate with the genre. The vocals are somewhat harsher than I usually associate with thrash; more death metal like, but not quite that harsh. Rather than detracting from the songs this actually sets the band apart a little and prevents me from lumping them in with other retro-thrash sound-a-likes.
This is one of those times where I have a hard time pointing to something specific that separates a great album from a serviceable album. “Crimes Against Humanity” is not a bad album. If I needed to get my thrash on and I reached for this, I would come out the other side satisfied. I can bang my head to this album. But there is some spark missing that would help define this as better than average. So average it shall be.
Satanic Bloodspraying – At the Mercy of Satan
“At the Mercy of Satan” is the first album from Bolivian black metal band Satanic Bloodspraying.
My first impression of “At the Mercy of Satan” was “Oh, another low-fi extreme metal throw-away band.” It is a fault of mine that I immediately jump to that conclusion upon hearing extreme metal that does not have stellar production. But WTF, most extreme metal does not have great production. So I tell myself to get over it. Truth be told, though, for extreme metal, this production is not actually that bad. The music tears into the listener so frantically that it was easy to mistake this sound for a production flaw, but this actually sounds better than most in this style. You can hear everything fairly well and the sound stays consistent.
What to expect when you are at the mercy of Satan: This music runs the gamut from fast and relentless to slow and dirge-like. This is black metal in the old-school we-don’t-need-no-steenkin’-keyboards fashion. The vocals are harsh and range from high (without being too piercing) to a midrange growl.
I was expecting an album that started and ended the same way, fast and frenzied. While there are moments aplenty of that nature, this is not a one-trick pony. I like this album. There, I have gone and said it, it is out there. I like this album. Give this album a chance and you might be surprised. Check out the track “Tetragrammaton.”