Reviews for October 11th, 2012

Sylosis – Monolith

British melo-death band Sylosis have returned a year and a half after their last album to give us their third album, “Monolith.” It takes something really special to get me excited about melodic death metal anymore, yet I am really enjoying “Monolith.”

I suppose to be more accurate I should call it melodic death with thrash tendencies, because the music is lean and tight like a good thrash album. I love the production sound on this album. Some might call it overproduced, but I counter with a giant middle finger in their face. The drums sound clear and punchy without being too loud. The guitars sound tight, sturdy and precise like a surgical tool that could punch holes in concrete. The vocals are rather typical melodic death metal in approach (a harsh bellowing scream) which would probably be annoying over a bed of lesser music, but on this album it comes across as appropriate.

The songs themselves come across as anything but typical melo-death. While the structure of the songs is pretty tight, there is a lot of progressive-tinged exploration within the confines of these compositions. I think they hit this one out of the park. The one thing that kind of annoyed me is the final track, “Enshrined.” Looking on my iPhone display the track clocks in at almost twenty minutes. I rubbed my hands together in anticipation of an epic masterpiece. I was disappointed to find that rather than one large song, this is an instance of a hidden track placed at the end of an interminable amount of dead space. So there is a five minute song, ten minutes of dead air, and then another four minute song. L-a-a-a-a-me. Who does that anymore?

On the whole “Monlith” is a great album with one little misstep. I could not find any YouTube tracks from the album, but there is this studio video where you can hear some music.

The Gardnerz – It All Fades

Sweden’s The Gardnerz released their first album (“The System of Nature”) last year, and now they have released a follow up EP called “It All Fades.” These guys play a combination of death and doom metal. What is with the name? Are they trying to make having a green thumb cool? Who knows, but as long as the music is good I do not care.

“It All Fades” may be labeled an EP, but its six tracks clocks in at 36 minutes which is as long or longer than many full albums. I would not go so far as to say I have not heard anything like this before, but I will say I do not hear albums like this one very often. The way they combine the heavy and growling elements of death metal with the slower pace, ponderous riffing and cleaner vocals of doom is very refreshing and I am enjoying it immensely. Listening to just one track does not give you an accurate portrayal of what this band is about. I like that.

Like a box of Cracker Jacks with a prize in the middle, the third song on the EP is an interesting interpretation of Darkthrone’s “Transylvanian Hunger.” The Darkthrone version is of course a classic example of mid-90s Norwegian black metal. If someone asked me what black metal sounded like I could point them to “Transylvanian Hunger” and be sure they were getting the right idea. The Gardnerz version is about as far from black metal as you can get; it sounds acoustic, and the vocals, rather than gravelly black metal screams are the clean and beautiful guest vocals of Paulina Strikavka. Side by side one might not guess that these were the same song. Kudos to the band on having the guts for such a daring cover song.

Overall, “It All Fades” was a very nice surprise. When I have time I fully intend to look up their first album and give it a listen. Check out the opening track off the EP, “Don’t Look Back.”

The 69 Eyes – X

The 69 Eyes are not exactly metal; they are more of a gothic rock. Kind of like Sisters of Mercy meets The Misfits. Whatever they are, I have never listened to them much, but I just received a copy of “X”, their tenth album, so I will give it a spin and see what I have been missing.

Other than the Sisters of Mercy and select Manson albums I do not really listen to much goth anymore, so I fully expected to not care for this album. Maybe it is because there has not been a new Sisters of Mercy album in 22 years(!) or maybe I was just ready to hear this, but I am kind of enjoying “X.” It has probably been like five albums since I last listened to these guys, so I suppose it is possible that they sound completely different now than when I first heard them.

These songs are not very heavy; they are pretty light and airy with a simple beat, some distorted guitars, some keyboards and vocals that are clean, angsty and melodic. For me this is considered a little light music. This is music I do not have to expend any effort enjoying; I can just sit back and bob my head a little.

Give a listen to the track “Red.”