Reviews for October 23rd, 2012

The Sword – Apocryphon

Stoner metal band The Sword has returned with their fourth album, “Apocryphon.” I have been eagerly waiting to hear this album for several months. I am not disappointed.

2010’s “Warp Riders” was a great album, but it had a slightly more psychedelic feel than “Apocryphon”, which to me sounds a little more in the Sabbath style of doom-lite. The vocals this time around, while not sounding like Ozzy himself, do have an early Sabb feel about them. I feel like the songs are perhaps a little faster and more light-hearted than what one would consider doom, but if one wanted to label “Apocryphon” as doom I could not disagree.

What is not to like about the songs themselves? The music is full of great riffs that you can hum along to (something that gets lost in the world of extreme metal), they are catchy without sounding like they try too hard, and the songs are all of a reasonable length so there is no excessive wanking. Two thumbs up for this album. Or rather, forget thumbs, two horns up!

The Sword manages to have a retro sounding production AND keep it clean and presentable. This makes me happy, as their earlier albums did not agree with me in this area. I think they have nothing but greatness in store for them moving forward.

Acid Witch – Witchtanic Hellucinations

Also released today, or rather re-released, is the first Acid Witch album, “Witchtanic Hellucinations.” Originally released in 2008, the album is being re-released now by Hells Headbangers. I did not know that the singer on this album was Lasse Pyykkö from one of my current favorite death/doom bands – Hooded Menace. Nice!

“Witchtanic Hellucinations” shares a doom gene with The Sword, but the similarities end there. With Lasse on vocals it is no surprise that these vocals are deep, harsh and gravelly. There is doom riffing aplenty as well as psychedelic flourishes which actually add a nice flavor rather than annoying me. It reminds me of metal crossed with Saturday morning cartoons. This is a good thing.

I do not see anything that indicates the album has been remixed or anything, so I assume this is just a straight-up re-release of the songs as they were originally released. The sound quality is appropriate for the style, though it could sound a little cleaner. This has no real effect on my ability to enjoy the album.

The little details on “Witchtanic Hellucinations” set it apart from other albums in the death/doom category, and as such, I find myself liking it quite a bit. It will probably take listeners with a certain acquired taste to agree with me, but when you listen to new bands every day it gets harder to get your kicks. So something out of the ordinary (yet not off the wall, bat-shit crazy) is appreciated.

Check out the title track. This appears to be from the original release, but that should not matter if the album has not been tweaked. Check out the album’s title track. Don’t let the electronic bit fool you, it is not typical of the album’s sound.

Evocation – Illusions of Grandeur

Evocation is a Swedish death metal band and “Illusions of Grandeur” is their fourth album.

Formed twenty years ago, the band appears to have released several demos in 1992 and then split up in 1993 over musical differences. It seems they got back together around 2004 and have been active ever since. Their four albums have been released between 2007 and 2012.

When I said Swedish death metal, did your mind go straight to At the Gates? Mine did too. While there is a little bit about Evocation that…evokes…At the Gates, there is also a little bit of Amon Amarth in there. I mean that stylistically and literally too, as Johan Hegg contributes some vocals to the track “Into Submission.”

The production sounds pretty good. The songs on “Illusions of Grandeur” have a laid back feel that I am not sure I care for. Death metal should be intense and in your face, and this feels a little too relaxed sometimes. Perhaps that is a stylistic choice they were going for, an airier more ethereal feel, in which case they nailed it. This album is done well, but there is little about it that excites me.

Check out the title track below.