Reviews for June 25th, 2012

Borgne – Royaume de Ombres

“Royaume de Ombres” is the fifth full-length album from Swiss black metal band Borgne. In the studio, the band consists of one member (Bornyhake if you believe the bio sheet, yet listed as Ormenos everywhere else I have looked) and expands out to a five-piece for live shows. “Royaume de Ombres” seems a mix of atmospheric black metal and funeral doom with a few industrial flourishes.

For me, this release is timely, as up until a few weeks ago I was not much of a fan of funeral doom. Then I reviewed “The Giant”, the latest Ahab album, and something clicked with me. I suddenly found that I now “get” funeral doom. With all the varying and extreme types of heavy metal music available, it can sometimes be difficult to appreciate all the different styles. I find, though, that given the right listening situation, the right set of circumstances, a connection can be made that helps the listener to understand what an artist is trying to relate. To someone who casually hears an extreme metal song, it might sound like noise, but to someone who listens with the intent to understand, beauty can be found in the eye of the storm.

When I first came upon bands like Death and Possessed back in the 80s, I had no idea what to make of them and thought they sucked hard. It took a few years before I started to “get” death and black metal. Funeral Doom seemed so long and plodding (despite my love of epic doom) and with vocals akin to the slow grinding movements of glaciers, it just did not spark my interest. Now, fast forward to this past weekend, where I spent a considerable amount of my free time hunting down and purchasing intriguing sounding Funeral Doom albums; it is funny how our perception can change.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up, is that while “Royaume de Ombres” is probably more black metal than funeral, the long songs and extremely atmospheric mood certainly give a nod to the latter genre. Given my recent epiphany, I am probably more open-minded to this album than I would have been a few weeks ago, and I certainly better understand how to approach listening to the songs.

“Royaume de Ombres” contains six songs of utter despair and desolation. Listening to this album, I picture a lone black-clad figure standing upon bleak, gray plains as the wind swirls the dust of an extinct civilization. An album like this is all about setting a particular mood, and Borgne pulls that off magnificently. The sound quality is a little raw, but this is one of those cases where it makes perfect sense. This is a fantastic listening experience; I recommend giving Borgne a listen. Here is “IN the Realm of the Living I'm Dead.”

The Reticent - Le Temps Detruit Tout

In some ways, The Reticent is nothing like the previous band, Borgne; this Charlotte, North Carolina band is certainly not black or funeral doom metal. However, the one thing they do have in common is an ability to set a great mood and tone. The Reticent is also one man in the studio (Chris Hathcock) and a four-piece when playing live.

The album starts much more quietly than I expected; I started thinking this was going to be like Opeth’s “Damnation” but by the third track the music is heavier. This music is progressive, so when I say heavier I do not mean death metal heavy, I mean the guitars get some distortion. The bio lists Tool as a comparison, which I did not really understand until the fourth track. Then the Tool-ness of the music pretty well slapped me in the face. After “Enemy” it is hard not to think of Tool, but this is certainly not a Tool clone band. Mostly dude just kind of sounds like Maynard when he is singing.

Ultimately, I find “Le Temps Detruit Tout” to be a very good album. I tend to think of progressive music as all Dream Theater and wanking, but The Reticent shatters that mold and provides a very interesting album’s worth of music. Do give it a listen.

Lykaion – Nothin’ But Death

Well, with an album title like that, I was expecting Italy’s Lykaion to come raging out the gate with bone-crushing death metal…nope. Clean guitars open the album, but then it suddenly kicks into heavier gear and the singer throws out a heavy, Sentenced-sounding “Yeah yeahhhhhh.” That does not last though; while the music remains metal, this is not death metal.

“Nothin’ But Death” is an interesting album. The singer does an eerily accurate immitation of Ville Laihiala, which I think is pretty cool. Lykaion’s songs are a little brighter and happier sounding than anything Sentenced ever released, but comparisons are inevitable. Well, I look at it this way – Sentenced are not around anymore, so if someone else is going to do a good job in that style, more power to them.

The more I listen to the album, the more like Sentenced they sound. Ok, so out of curiosity I just Googled other reviews of the album and every one of them I looked at also compared them to Sentenced. The Sentenced is strong with this one. But so fucking what? They do a great job with these songs. If this was just some weak attempt to play off the Sentenced sound by a no-talent hack band, I would call them out, but this is more like a well-crafted homage to the Northernmost Killers.

I am digging this album quite a lot. What do you think? Here is the title track.

Silent Descent – Mind Games

Ugh. Need I say more? I was both pulled in and repelled by the mostly naked girl on the cover of “Mind Games.” It certainly drew my attention because she is pretty hot, but in the back of my mind I knew, this is not the 80s anymore, hot babes do not grace the covers of good metal albums unless they are either the singer or part of some dark, demonic painting. If you have to use sex to draw attention to your “metal” album, there is likely something wrong under the hood.

The biggest problem I have with this album is that it simply is not my style. They come across like an electro Slipknot with Emo tendencies. Combining the screech of metalcore, the harsh vocals of death metal and the clean whiny melodic vocals of Emo rock, this is just not my thing. This is obviously geared toward high school kids that want to be dark and heavy but cannot wrap their head around truly extreme music. For that crowd, I am sure this works. The album is certainly well produced and does a fine job of achieving what it sets out to do. But for hardcore metal fans this is not. Too pretty, too flashy, too Emo.

Tombthroat – Eden Apocalypse

Now this is more like it. My apologies to Tombthroat, this should have posted a good month ago, but I somehow missed the email request and just happened across it yesterday while looking back through old email. Tombthroat are a German brutal death metal band and “Eden Apocalypse” is their fourth album.

Talk about a palette cleanser. This is just what I needed to get rid of the funky taste of Emo vocals. Tombthroat are appropriately named as this dude’s voice sounds just like a tomb door scraping open. The music on “Eden Apocalypse” is straight-forward brutal death metal with extremely harsh vocals. The production is pretty good; I can appreciate a brutal death metal album that mixes all the elements well. No idea what the dude is singing about, the vocals are too harsh, but they do a great job of inspiring a manic frenzy.

Nothing new or original sounding here, but what they do, they do well. Here is the track “Breed of Depravity.”