Reviews for March 5th, 2013

Black Crucifixion – Coronation of King Darkness

Black Crucifixion is a Finnish black metal band and “Coronation of King Darkness” is their third album.

I hadn’t heard of these guys before receiving the promo from Spinefarm Records, but the album art intrigued me so I gave it a listen. Right from the first song I knew I was going to like this album. It has a dark, evil and even raw sound, but in this case raw does not mean shitty production. The production on “Coronation of King Darkness” is really quite good. The drums, normally a far off pitter-patter in typical raw black metal, are quite prominent in the mix. The guitars have a nice sharp edge, but no so much so as to be tinny sounding or blend together in a fuzzy amorphous haze. The vocals are of course harsh (well harsh-ish), and they also sound well placed in the mix. Other black metal bands, please take note.

Straight-up black metal might not be the most accurate assessment of Black Crucifixion. It might do them justice to call them progressive black metal, or at the very least dark metal with black tendencies. Whatever you want to call it, I like what they are doing. These songs have more than just aggression and malicious venom; they speak to me of thoughtful, deliberate, premeditated misanthropy.

I really enjoyed this album very much. So much quality metal seems to go un-noticed by the metal masses; I hope Black Crucifixion can get some of the recognition they deserve. Check these guys out. This is the track “What the Night Birds Sang.”

Hateform – Sanctuary in Abyss

Next up we have another Finnish band and another third album, also from Spinefarm Records. This is death/thrash metal band Hateform and their album “Sanctuary in Abyss.” I have to say that of the labels that send me material, Spinefarm is one of my favorites to hear from; the stuff they send me tends to be artists I haven’t heard before and the quality is almost always top notch. Spinefarm knows what’s up with metal.

Hateform rages like a death metal band (and has the harsh vocals to go with it) but the instrumental work flows and weaves like a well-honed thrash metal band. To say the instrumentation on “Sanctuary in Abyss” surprised me would be an understatement. If all you want out of this album is aggressive metal to bang your head to, it works for that, but it would be kind of like drinking beer just because you are thirsty. The songwriting on this album is way above average in this style and frankly blows my mind a little.

By this point I don’t expect you’ll be surprised to learn that the production is also perfect. I could not ask for anything different about the sound on “Sanctuary in Abyss.” Kudos to the engineers that put this album together; this is a job well done.

Check out "All Becomes Nothing" to hear a bit of what I am talking about.

Epicrenel – The Crystal Throne

Wow, ok, I did not plan it this way, but here we have yet another Finnish band. This time we have Epicrenel, a power metal band, and their first album, “The Crystal Throne.” These guys are in Inverse Records, another good Finnish label.

These guys remind me of someone but I am unable to dredge the memory from the cavernous and cob-web filled empty space between my ears. They have a soaring and majestic power metal sound that falls short of being too sappy. I like the music a lot; it has a lot of wild Rhapsody-like abandon. The vocals are strong and melodic, but for some reason they don’t sound as bright as the rest of the music. These songs are pretty cool, but I think they would have more of an impact if the vocals had a little more punch; this guy’s voice deserves to stand out more from the music and this mix just isn’t doing it for him.

The more I listen to this album, the less the vocal thing bothers me. I still think they should clear him up a bit, but man, the spirit on this album is so infectious that I just don’t care. That’s a sign of a good power metal album when it pumps you full of energy and makes you feel like you can do anything. Maybe it’s just the coffee I’m drinking, but I think the music has something to do with it too.

Make sure to check out Epicrenel. Here is their track “Where Kingdoms Fall.”

The Lidocaine – On the Road to Miero

Fuck it; at this point I might as well make today an all-Finnish edition. These guys were scheduled for tomorrow, but I switched them to today to make this a Finnish four-trick. This is The Lidocaine and their second album, “On the Road to Miero.” I believe this is also from Inverse.

Today’s reviews have been getting more commercial sounding as they go along (not on purpose, but I am noticing the trend) and I am almost hard-pressed to call The Lidocaine metal. I’m pretty lenient about what I call metal (although I don’t consider metalcore to be real metal so maybe that statement isn’t exactly true) but I’ll give them a pass. At times this gets kind of heavy, but a lot of the time it leans more towards hard rock or prog. There’s double-bass drum action going on so that seals it for me.

The production on this album sounds nice and clean, but the songs themselves just aren’t working for me. The vocals are clean and melodic but for whatever reason they grate on my ears. The musicianship is strong, but I find myself ready to listen to something else.

Here is the track “Saving Wing.”

Krypts – Unending Degradation

Ha! Bet you thought I was done for today. So did I! After that last album I was looking for a palette cleanser and thought Krypts would be just the thing. Guess who is also Finnish? Yep, Krypts are a Finnish death metal band and “Unending Degradation” is their first full-length album.

The sound quality on this album is less than stellar. The music is a little unclear, but I like what they are doing with it, so I’m ok with that. Sounds kind of like death meets sludge. Unfortunately I pretty much hate the vocals. Not only are they soaked in too much reverb but they are also so guttural and lacking in passion that I simply cannot pardon them. They sound like a mumbling giant; not much to get excited about there. I like harsh vocals to have some fire and excitement and this guy sounds like he might nod off. This isn’t funeral doom.

If you combine great music and not-so-great vocals, you end up with something in the middle. I’ve heard some great reviews for this album, so I’m sure there are many who will enjoy this, but I’m not one of them. I like the music enough that as the album progresses my ears start to forgive the vocals some, but honestly, this just isn’t for me.

The last thing I want is to turn someone off to something they might like because of something I said. I like to sing the praises of bands I like, but ultimately I just want to present readers with bands they might not know and let them hear and make their own decisions. Make your own decisions and see what you think. Here is the track “Beneath the Archaic.”