Reviews for November 20th, 2012

Aeon – Aeons Black

Aeon is a death metal band from Sweden and “Aeons Black” is their fourth album.

When I think of Swedish death metal, I think of melodic death metal. Bands like At the Gates, Dark Tranquility or Soilwork. Aeon is not that kind of Swedish death metal. Rather, this is more like a slightly more technical and melodic Deicide. To put it plainer, this album sounds killer.

Is that piano I hear at the end of “The Voice of the Accuser”? Sure is. Piano is not so unusual in black metal, gothic metal or power metal, but I do not recall hearing a lot of it in death metal. That was a nice touch of contrast to break up all the seething fury.

“Aeons Black” is refreshingly simple and straight-forward death metal, but that simplicity does not come at the expense of technical skill. There are still plenty of riffs, leads and squeals to keep the songs from becoming monotonous. The songs are just such that, as far as death metal goes, they are very easy to listen to and enjoy.

I had been seeing a lot of press build-up around this album, and now I know why. “Aeons Black” is a formidable new death metal release. Make sure to check these guys out.

Dark Tranquility – Zero Distance

Speaking of Dark Tranquility, the Swedish masters of melodic death metal are back with an EP of new music. Dark Tranquility has nine full albums released and “Zero Distance” marks their sixth EP.

In the arena of Swedish melodic death metal, there are few bands that can still hold my attention. Most bands that play in this style seem to ape the At the Gates sound and bring nothing new to the table. This causes me to cringe when I hear a band described as melodic death metal. There are still a few bands left that I consistently enjoy and those include In Flames and, yes, Dark Tranquility.

The music on “Zero Distance” is often heavy but also includes clean passages, both of which contain the harsh vocals of Mikael Stanne. I do not hear anything particularly out of the ordinary from the usual Dark Tranquility style, so there aren’t any surprises there. Dark, heavy and beautiful songs with masterful songwriting and biting harsh vocals makes “Zero Distance” another fine addition to the Dark Tranquility catalog.

Kuolemanlaakso – Uljas uusi maailma

No, I did not accidentally lean on the keyboard and press a bunch of random keys, Kuolemanlaakso really is the name of this Finnish band, and the name of this album is “Uljas uusi maailma.”

So, yeah, no English on this album. I frequently pass over albums that are so far outside the realm of my ability to understand them, but there were a couple things that won me over and made me decide to write this one up. First off was the lineup. Kuolemanlaakso features Mikko Kotamäki from Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth on vocals. Also, the band’s two guitar players are from Chaosweaver, which is a band I have recently come to hold in high regard.

The other thing that won me over was that these songs are actually pretty cool even though I have no idea what they are saying. I really am not quite sure what I would label these songs; I heard mention of doom, but that is far too constrictive a term. I would say there is also some sludge, some black metal, maybe a little drone, who knows where this should fall.

Svart Records strikes again with another curiously compelling release that defies labeling. I may not be able to pigeonhole the style, but I can say this was an interesting and worthwhile listen. Check out the video for “Minä elän.”

Varg – Guten Tag

Well, since I am already listening to non-English-vocal metal, I might as well mention Varg from Germany and their fourth album, “Guten Tag.” I am assuming that since they are a German band the songs are in German. I can’t speak a word of German, but I have heard enough Rammstein to know what German sounds like even if I can’t understand it.

Encyclopaedia Metallum labels Varg as pagan metal, but since I cannot vouch for the lyrical content I will just have to take their word for it.

One thing I can say with certainty is that this album sounds really good. The production is very crisp and clean, the drums are punchy and the guitars have a really nice tone which I am enjoying very much. The songs have a cadence to them that brings to mind folk metal played fast. The vocals have a slight growly edge to them and contrast well with the music so all the different parts have a distinct place in the mix.

Other than not knowing what they are saying I think “Guten Tag” sounds great. If this was in English I think I would probably play the shit out of this album, because it is just that good. Hear for yourself, here is the video for “Guten Tag.”

Grand Supreme Blood Court – Bow Down Before the Blood Court

Next up we have a brand new band from the Netherlands called Grand Supreme Blood Court and their first album, “Bow Down Before the Blood Court.” The band may be new, but there are some familiar faces here, and the list of current and former bands is far too long to mention here. One band in particular stands out, as three of GSBCs members are current members of that band, and the fourth member of GSBC is a former member of said band. I will give you a hint. It rhymes with Asphyx.

I am not entirely sure what inspired ¾ of Asphyx to take up with a former member and form a whole new band, but there you have it. It is hard to miss the vocals of Martin van Drunen. I was listening to this before going over the bio, and I thought, hmmm, that sounds like Martin van Drunen. Well, that is because it IS Martin van Drunen. At least I know I haven’t lost my ear for metal yet.

Other than a slight extra tinny treble-y sound, the production sounds pretty good. I dig the songs too. Martin’s vocals can grate on some people, so make sure to give a listen for yourself before committing to this album. Otherwise, I must prostate myself and bow down before the Blood Court.

Here is “Piled Up For The Scavengers.”

Blynd – Punishment Unfolds

Hailing from Cyprus is Blynd and here we have their second album, “Punishment Unfolds.” I have to admit I rather enjoy that title. It makes me think of that “Oh fuck” moment when you realize that you have made a big mistake and are about to receive the resulting painful beat-down.

I guess you could call “Punishment Unfolds” a thrash album, though that doesn’t sit quite right with me. The vocals have a harsh edge to them, but this is certainly not death or black metal. Definitely not power metal. At that point thrash sort of becomes the catch-all. Whatever it is, I like it.

Blynd is overflowing with a frantic energy that they manage to transcribe perfectly into these recordings. Of course it helps that the production sound is damn near flawless. This kind of metal benefits greatly from a crisp and clean production with a punchy low-end, and it serves them well here.

I was very pleasantly surprised by “Punishment Unfolds” and would like to recommend you give them a listen. As usual, I can help you out with that. Head below to hear “The Chosen Few.”

Munruthel – CREEDamage

A few months ago I reviewed the re-issue of Munruthel’s third album, “Epoch of Aquarius” and was only mildly impressed. That album was originally recorded in 2006, so by today’s standards it was a little lacking for me. Here in front of me I have “CREEDamage” which is the fifth and latest album from one-man band Munruthel. I am feeling a little more inclined toward praise this time around.

Munruthel is a one-man Ukrainian band and his music tends towards symphonic folk/black metal. For this being the project of one man, I am mightily impressed.

“CREEDamage” has black metal styled metal music, plenty of symphonic musical elements, harsh vocals, clean vocals, choir vocals and various other instrumentations. Munruthel certainly doesn’t seem to do anything small or half-assed. I am much more taken with his music than I was a few months ago.

Yeah, this is pretty cool. Sounds like the vocals are still not in English, but whatever, that seems to be the dominant theme today. Check out the video for the title track below.