Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: Dominant Obscurity - Dominant Obscurity (2009)

Dominant Obscurity [ MySpace ]
Dominant Obscurity

There are a number of metalheads out there who are quick to condemn as "untrue" any extreme Heavy Metal style that is preceded by the word "atmospheric". Let's take atmospheric Black Metal, for example. Some claim that the true meaning of Black Metal is diluted by catchy keyboard passages and spellbinding riffs, but I strongly disagree. By using atmospheric elements to make Black Metal more accessible to a wider range of fans, bands do more to perpetuate the Black Metal message than their genre mates who stick to it's rawest, bleakest form. Admittedly, there is a fine line between creating music that adheres to the tenets of the style while embracing a wider audience and creating Black Metal that is truly "poser". On their self-titled debut demo, France's Dominant Obscurity  establish themselves as a band that lies squarely in the former camp - creating accessible Black Metal without crossing over into cheesedom.

The demo begins with a lengthy synth-oriented intro that could easily serve as the musical backdrop to an interstellar horror film, but soon the Black Metal onslaught of "Fall of the Unlucid" is unleashed. The harsh tremolo riffs laid down by Eric and Fred are mirrored by the distinctive bass contributions of Vincent. Throughout the disc, his undulating and complex lines lend a frantic groove to the mix. At about the 3-minute mark, the song takes on a much heavier and doomier tone with significantly more groove to the riffs. The two parts of "Fall of the Unlucid" are so distinctly different that they could have been laid down as two separate tracks, but ultimately the combination works well. In addition to his rhythm guitar duties, Eric serves as the vocalist on the demo (a position he has since relinquished to drummer Kyste). He possesses a throaty rasp that is deeper than most Black Metal vocalists tend to have, lending a bit of a Doom/Death sound to Dominant Obscurity's style. The next track, "Profiles for Delusion", is of the same mold as the first half of the preceding track except that there's a tad more repetition in the riffs. Kyste's blast beats are a bit more frenzied here, however, and the song contains a decent breakdown featuring a swirling guitar lead from Fred. The final song, "Unleashing the Whispers", is the most ambitious track on this demo. It opens with numbing tremolo riffs and chaotic leads, but eventually makes a dramatic mood shift and adopts a more distinctive atmospheric quality. Pronounced riffs, strong bass, ethereal leads, and Eric's rumbling rasps once more incite comparisons to such Doom/Death bands as My Dying Bride and Anathema.

Dominant Obscurity doesn't really stretch any boundaries, but neither does it remain one-dimensional. The band eases atmospheric qualities into their mix in order to create a collection of songs that retain the raw emotions of Black Metal while enticing listeners with melody and songcraft. Recommended for Black Metal and Doom/Death fans alike.

Track Listing
1 Intro 2:27
2 Fall of the Unlucid 7:39
3 Profiles for Delusion 4:36
4 Unleashing the Whispers 9:55
Total Runtime 24:37

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Video: God Forbid - War Of Attrition

New Jersey Deathcore outfit God Forbid has posted a video for the track "War Of Attrition", which comes off their latest studio release Earthsblood.

For more info: MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Video: Amberian Dawn - He Sleeps In A Grove

Finnish symphonic power metallers Amberian Dawn have posted a video for the song "He Sleeps In A Grove", which comes off their recently released album The Clouds of Northland Thunder.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: Blood Corps - Hollow Point (2009)

Blood Corps MySpace ]
Hollow Point

Blood Corps is a young five-piece metal outfit from Fairfax, Virginia. Although originally formed in 2006 by frontwoman Nina Osegueda and guitarist Daniel Lee, it wasn't until 2008 that the full lineup stabilized and the band headed into the recording studio to lay down the tracks for their debut demo Hollow Point. The coming and going of band members didn't stop Blood Corps from securing primo opening slots, however, which allowed them to share the stage with such metal notables as Overkill, Kamelot, Dope, and Sonata Arctica - all of which can be heard as influences on Hollow Point.

Although Blood Corps' four musicians are unquestionable masters of their instruments, it's Nina's vocal performance that is most engaging. She possesses a strong, assertive Power Metal voice that she employs to great effect whether shouting out a chorus or nailing a lofty note. There's not a lot of deviation from this style, though most tracks feature some sort of layered experimentation, but she's good enough that not a lot of variation is necessary to hold interest. "Penetrate Your Mind", the lead-off track on Hollow Point, does feature quite an atypical performance from Nina as she alternates between an eerily sweet, almost seductive (in a sadistic sort of way) delivery and an intense raging yell. She does an excellent job backing the lyrics with accurate emotion. Another instance where the vocals diverge from the standard is "Buried Alive" as Lee makes a few brief appearances as a backing vocalist, shading Blood Corps' sound with a bit of a Lacuna Coil color.

Overall, the band's sound fits squarely in the American Power Metal camp. Lee and Michael Mackert routinely lay down deep, menacing riffs over which they trade admirable solos and subtle accents. "Buried Alive" features a little more of a European influence with some swirling leads and a nice, softly distorted solo, but by and large the six strings are aggressive and meaty. The rhythm section of Devon DiGiovanni (bass) and Fester Gardner (drums) routinely turns in a flawless performance, with the added bonus of DiGiovanni's bass being a distinctive part of the mix.

For fans who like their Power Metal heavy and full of grit, Blood Corps is a band very much worth investing in. Nina's vocal ability pushes an already talented band even further up the food chain, so don't be surprised to soon find these Virginians making quite a name for themselves.

Track Listing
1Penetrate Your Mind2:43
2Death in the Hollow4:24
3Buried Alive4:19
4Into the Unknown3:32
Total Runtime14:58

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Video: Madder Mortem - Armour

Norwegian progressive power metallers Madder Mortem have released a video for the song "Armour", which appears on their latest album Eight Ways.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Video: Kypck - Stalingrad

Finnish Russian-speaking doomsters Kypck have released a music video for the song "Stalingrad", which appears on their debut album Cherno.

For more info: Website | MySpace

Monday, May 25, 2009

Video: Autumn - The Heart Demands

Dutch female-fronted Gothic metallers Autumn have posted a video for their song "The Heart Demands" from their fourth studio album Altitude.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Video: Drowning Pool - Shame

Dallas-based Drowning Pool have released a video for "Shame", the fourth single from their 2007 album Full Circle.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Video: Warbringer - Severed Reality

California thrashers Warbringer have released a video for their song "Severed Reality" from their recently released sophomore album Waking Into Nightmares.

For more info: MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Video: Hibria - Tiger Punch

Brazilian metallers Hibria have posted a video for the song "Tiger Punch", which comes off their 2008 album The Skull Collectors.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Monday, May 18, 2009

Video: Artillery - 10,000 Devils

Denmark's long-running thrash outfit Artillery have released a video for the song "10,000 Devils".  The track will appear on the band's upcoming sixth studio release When Death Comes, due out this summer in the USA via Metal Mind Productions.

For more info: Website | MySpace

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Review: High Council - All Rise (2005)

High Council [ MySpace ]
All Rise

This is going to be a short review, probably the shortest I've ever done here at Harvest Moon Music. Whether an album is good or bad, I find that there's plenty to say about it. When an album is completely uninteresting, however, words are difficult to come by. All Rise is the first demo from Pennsylvania's High Council, a power metal band inspired by bands such as Iron Maiden and Helloween.

Musically All Rise has something going for it. The riffs are crunchy, the bass is galloping and distinct, and the solos and leads are tight. The songwriting is fairly complex, with good use of tempo shifts, but the demo suffers from a very bland vocal performance. Bob Saunders is an underpowered vocalist, delivering an off-key performance for much of the album. Add to that the fact that the lyrical content is quite preachy (in an evangelical sort of way), and I'm completely turned off. Gospel Metal may have it's fans, but I am not one of them.

If All Rise were an instrumental album, I'd give it a significantly higher score. As it stands, however, a substandard vocal performance and uninspiring lyrical content relegate this one to the dust bin. High Council has gone on to release another demo and a full-length, but I haven't taken the time to find out whether or not Saunders has improved (nor will I likely invest the time, either). If Gospel Metal is your bag, then you might want to investigate further. Most metal fans can safely pass this one by.

Track Listing
1 Hand of God 3:30
2 Purgatorial Reflections 6:31
3 Clanless 4:02
4 Fatum Praeclarum 4:10
Total Runtime 18:13

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review: Octanic - Industry (2008)

Octanic [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]

Metal fans seeking bands with an uncommon sound should focus attention on Australia's Octanic. Their simply-titled debut EP Industry is an energetic amalgamation of metallic elements, wherein everything from Power Metal keyboard flourishes to melo-Death vocals has a place. While such a beast may, on the surface, seem to be unapproachable, keyboardist and primary songwriter Andrew Baillie has done an expert job of applying each element in just the right dosage to create a very listenable and interesting album.

As is often the case in the Heavy Metal world, Industry gets started with a superfluous intro track. "Unmaker" heralds the meat of the album with stomping riffs from Stephen Wardle and Daniel Cederblad, while Baillie lends the track a European Power Metal feel with dancing harpsichord passages. Octanic's sound is an exercise in contrasts, with the aggressive riffs and classical keys of "Unmaker" just the first example of many. Frontman Jay Shepherdson is himself a key element of contrast, altering his vocal style significantly throughout the course of the EP. During the verses he sticks primarily to an angered, snarling style while cleanly crooning the choruses - lending a bit of a melo-Death slant to Octanic's sound. Shepherdson's unrefined vocals fit the music quite well, though the power ballad "Carry Me Home" may be a bit of a stretch for him. Musically, the piano-driven track has a pleasing melody to it and does feature a nice meandering solo, but Shepherdson's vocals are a bit shaky as he clearly is far beyond his comfort zone. "Carry Me Home" is the only weak song on Industry and as such is certainly not enough to weigh down the remaining tracks.

Highlight songs for me are "Master" and "Nightmare's Charm", as both are up-tempo scorchers with driving riffs and aggressive vocals. "Master" also features some very tasteful keyboard accents, while "Nightmare's Charm" has a highly infectious chorus that sticks with you long after the album is over. Although Baillie is the primary songwriter, the keyboard elements aren't at all overpowering despite the fact that they are so integral to Octanic's core sound. His keys are, for the most part, used mainly to generate atmosphere or - as in the case of "Master" - to accentuate Wardle and Cederblad's riffing. "The Magician" is a track where Baillie pushes more to the surface, backing the belligerent riffs with majestic passages and punctuating Dan Fleuren's bass solo with some nifty sci-fi effects.

As varied as the individual parts are, the sum that is Octanic's Industry is an intriguing offering of Industrial Metal that will appeal to a wide-ranging audience. The band also experiments with marketing techniques by packing this release as a 2-CD set, the second disc featuring the entire EP in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Spiffy. This Australian outfit more than deserves your attention.

Track Listing
1The Calling1:36
4Carry Me Home4:58
5The Magician4:26
6Nightmare's Charm3:22
7I... Pariah4:17
Total Runtime28:03

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Video: Praying Mantis - Turn The Tide

Re-energized NWOBHM veterans Praying Mantis have posted a video for the song "Turn The Tide".  The track will appear on the band's forthcoming ninth studio album Sanctuary, due out in July on Frontiers Records.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Video: Amorphis - Silver Bride

Finnish atmospheric metallers Amorphis have posted a video for their song "Silver Bride", which appears on the band's forthcoming ninth studio album Skyforger.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Video: Ex Deo - Romulus

Canadian death metal outfit Ex Deo has posted a video for their song "Romulus", the title track of their forthcoming debut album.  The band, whose lyrical content is based upon Roman history, is a side project of Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono.  Romulus is due out in June via Nuclear Blast.

For more info: MySpace

Monday, May 11, 2009

Video: The Berzerker - All The Things She Said

Australian death metal outfit The Berzerker posted a video for their cover of Russian pop duo T.A.T.U.'s "All The Things She Said". The video for the original chart-topping track featured several provocative scenes between two rain-soaked school girls, which the extreme Australians took to a whole different level in their version.  The original can be viewed below The Berzerker's cover.

For more info: MySpace

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Review: Miles Beyond - Discovery (2009)

Miles Beyond [ MySpace ]

A few years back I reviewed the debut album from Miles Beyond, a traditionally-inspired Power Metal band from Flint, Michigan (read the review right here). I likened their sound to a mix of Iron Maiden and Iced Earth, a high-energy onslaught of epic dual-guitar harmonies and soaring vocals. With that album, Miles Beyond  instantly became one of my personal favorite NWOBHM-influenced bands. And then there was silence... Actually, the band continued to battle in the trenches, gigging frequently, but my craving for new Miles Beyond music went unfulfilled - until now. The EP Discovery is the band's latest release, containing three songs to hold over rabid fans until their next full-length hits the streets.

On their self-titled debut, Miles Beyond struck gold with their brand of classic Power Metal and they continue to mine that vein on Discovery. Their sound, as well as their songwriting style, remains deeply rooted in the Iron Maiden tradition. Frontman Tim Moody's vocals dive and soar very much like Bruce Dickinson's, but Tim not only excels behind the mic - he shares guitar duties with Paul Owsinski. Their harmonized riffs and leads are Miles Beyond's bread and butter, with the two axemen relentlessly belting out riff after infectious riff.

The EP starts off with the title track, a rollicking song rife with sing-along choruses and high-energy riffs. The choruses are so infectious due largely to Moody's ability to vocally harmonize so well with his (and Owsinski's) leads, a trait that really sets Miles Beyond apart. "My Able Axe" brings bass player Larry Moody to the forefront, opening with an atmospheric lead under which he delivers a temperamental groove. While the riffs are a bit more urgent on this track than the lead-off song, Larry's bass contributions are very distinct and enjoyable. The band's penchant for epicness comes through on the final track, which opens with a majestic martial beat coupled with a bit of orchestration and an anthemic lead. Once again, a crisp riff drives the song and implants itself firmly in your brain. Solos run rampant on this track as well, with Larry's bass happily rumbling along underneath all the while, making this track an ideal hit for those six-string aficionados out there.

To put it simply, if you're a fan of Iron Maiden (and who isn't?) you will without a doubt be a fan of Miles Beyond. They dish out their Heavy Metal the way that Heavy Metal is meant to be played - high-energy, focused, and classy. The only gripe I have with Discovery is that it's too damn short! Twenty minutes of Miles Beyond is like taking a sip of an ice-cold beer, then handing over the bottle. Thankfully, the band's next full-length is in the works. Until then, check out their EP (and debut album if you haven't already done so) and treat yourself to some excellent true Heavy Metal.

Track Listing
1 Discovery 5:05
2 My Able Axe 6:23
3 Thulsa Doom "Fangs of the Serpent" 8:50
Total Runtime 20:18

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Review: Demgoroth - Besessen (2009)

Demgoroth [ Website | MySpace ]

Demgoroth is a five-piece Blackened Death Metal band from the southern German state of Bavaria. Formed in 2006 as a straightforward Black Metal outfit, over time the band members approached their songwriting with a bit more flexibility by incorporating elements from other styles of Heavy Metal. After dealing with considerable line-up instability, Demgoroth finally headed into the studio to record their debut Besessen.

The band's initial Black Metal stylings are quite apparent on "Toter Glaube", the first song after the obligatory intro track. Harsh tremolo riffs from guitarists Timo and Bjornn do take on a sinister melody at times, though the song is primarily driven at a hasty clip by drummer Florian's cacophonous blast beats. Frontman Andi belches forth some standard Death Metal vocals, occasionally punctuating them with demonic shrieks. All-in-all a pretty nondescript Black Metal track.

Demgoroth switches things up a bit beginning with the title track. The song begins with a raw, dark guitar lead and familiar blast beats before opening up with some groovy riffs that have an ever-so-slight punk vibe to them. Andi's vocals start off as raging Blackish snarls, but as the song progresses he mixes in some fairly deep Death Metal growls. The song contains numerous tempo shifts and is a remarkable display of Demgoroth's collective songwriting talent. "Whare Macht", my favorite track on the album, reins in the tempo changes a bit while adding riffs that alternate between atmospheric and old-school Thrashy. The most catchy track on Besessen is "Blutwinde", with some pretty frantic riffs and memorable leads. Buried deep in the mix for most of the album is Jule's bass, but her contributions eek to the surface on this song and add further depth to Demgoroth's sound. It would be nice to hear her bass a little more often, but I'm sure that owes more to production quality than anything deliberate.

Besessen is indeed a rough album production-wise, but leeway has to be given in light of the fact that this is a debut release. In spite of the production, it's easy to hear that the band has successfully come up with interesting music that blends together some fairly compatible styles of Heavy Metal. If you're into extreme metal that pays homage to the meaty riffs of yore, give Demgoroth a listen.

Track Listing
1 Intro Wahn 3:32
2 Toter Glaube 7:28
3 Besessen 8:41
4 Wahre Macht 7:06
5 Erkenntnis 8:52
6 Blutwinde 7:48
7 Luzifers Auge 4:06
Total Runtime 28:29

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Video: Dream Theater - Rite Of Passage

Legendary prog metallers Dream Theater have posted a video for their song "Rite Of Passage", which comes off the band's forthcoming album Black Clouds & Silver Linings.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Video: Eden's Curse - Angels & Demons

British power metallers Eden's Curse have posted a video for their song "Angels & Demons".  The track, which appears on the band's 2008 sophomore release The Second Coming, features vocal contributions from Pamela Moore - aka Sister Mary from Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Video: Toxic Holocaust - Nuke the Cross

Oregon thrashers Toxic Holocaust have posted a video for their song "Nuke the Cross", which comes off their third full-length album An Overdose of Death...

For more info: MySpace

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Review: Everlasting Dark - Lygophobia (2007)

Everlasting Dark [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]

Lygophobia - an abnormal fear of darkness. Lygophobia, the latest release from Czech Gothic doomsters Everlasting Dark, is therefore quite appropriately titled. The sextet, hailing from the ancient Moravian city of Olomouc in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, displays considerable talent in developing involved, somber compositions that will definitely strike a chord with fans of Doom/Death and Gothic metal alike.

Although only 6 tracks deep, Lygophobia adheres to the Doom Metal tradition of expansive tempo shifts and grandiose orchestrations which results in this EP clocking in at just under 45 minutes - longer than many full-lengths in some genres. A major factor in Everlasting Dark's core sound is the violin contributions from Jana Hartlová. While considered a favorite element of many Gothic Doom/Death bands rooted in the sounds pioneered by the likes of The Gathering, Theatre of Tragedy, and My Dying Bride, Hartlová's violin combines with the up-tempo riffs put forth by Zdenýk Kaczor and Petr Sova to lend Everlasting Dark a sound that lies somewhere between those bands and more folksy outfits like Elvenking. "The Quest" best illustrates the similarities, with the violin and Hana Vajènerová's flute complimenting the thick riffs nicely.

Vocally, Everlasting Dark's style is all over the field. Kaczor, who also serves as the bands singer, alternates in style between Blackened rasps, Death Metal growls, whispered spoken-word lamentations, and wordless harmonizations. He's often joined by both Hartlová and Vajènerová, who both deliver some nice, throaty mezzo-soprano performances throughout the disc. "Paths of Gods", one of my favorite tracks on Lygophobia, features the female vocals adopting a folkish, almost medieval, cadence for much of the song while the closing moments of the track find Kaczor joining in for some Viking-inspired choruses. "At the End of Heart" finds both male and female vocals being used more as instruments, with some very nice harmonizations to go along with the furious and razor sharp violin passages.

While the violin and the vocals are in the forefront of Everlasting Dark's sound, the guitars can hardly be considered just filler. During the aforementioned "At the End of Heart", Kaczor fires off a rather chaotic solo while drummer Martin Hartl kicks out some frantic double-bass beats. Another favorite track is the instrumental "The Sleepwalker", which contains heaping amounts of melodic riffing and anthemic leads as well as the best interplay between guitars and violin on the album. As if he didn't already have enough to do, Kaczor also provides the lush keyoard atmopshere that haunts Lygophobia from beginning to end. Tastefully done, his keyboard contributions further enhance the overall sense of melancholy and despair crafted by the dark riffs and sorrowful strings.

Fans of Gothic metal who would gladly trade the saccharine style of bands like Nightwish and Poisonblack for the harsh aggressiveness of My Dying Bride and Anathema will find Lygophobia to be an enjoyable album. The Czechs not only show themselves to be talented musicians, but they also exhibit a strong knack for writing majestic songs that avoid repetition with a steady ebb and flow of emotion. Quite recommended.

Track Listing
2The Quest7:28
3Paths of Gods8:41
4The Sleepwalker7:06
6At the End of Heart7:48
Total Runtime43:27

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Review: Gauntlet - What Doesn't Kill Us (2008)

Gauntlet [ Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter ]
What Doesn't Kill Us...

Riding the wave of crushing, groove-oriented Heavy Metal perpetuated by bands like Disturbed and Sevendust, Spain's Gauntlet  is looking to be counted among the ranks of modern Heavy Metal bands that haven't fallen prey to following the ill-advised metalcore path. You won't find any breakdowns or screamo vocals on What Doesn't Kill Us..., the band's latest album, but there are plenty of meaty riffs and punishing leads to satisfy any fan of radio-friendly heavy music.

Daniel Millán and Miguel Rocha combine for some powerful, catchy riffs - which is essentially the core of Gauntlet's sound. On tracks like "Decade", which also features a Nickelback-ish locomotive main riff, Millán lays down some fairly intricate solos to go along with the drive and melody of the twin-guitar onslaught. He adopts a very Zakk Wylde-esque style on "In The Name Of ( )", a track that also stands out for the thick bass presence from Santiago Garcia, but no matter the tone he adopts Millán is an ever-present force throughout the album.

Besides his six-string contributions, rhythm guitarist Rocha helps define Gauntlet's sound with a voice well-suited to this style of music. There's really nothing about his delivery that would be considered unique, setting him apart from the pack, but he possesses just the right amount of grit and anger to compliment the music perfectly. Whether taking on a grungy tone on "... Makes Us Stronger" or sounding a bit like contemporary James Hetfield on "In The Name Of ( )", Rocha keeps his delivery planted firmly in a mid-range style and metes out a flawless performance.

From start to finish, What Doesn't Kill Us... is a runaway train loaded with punishing beats (courtesy of Alejandro Martinez), wild guitar leads, and skull-splitting riffs. It's not groundbreaking, but if you're looking to throw on some tunes and bust up a room then this is the CD for the job.

Track Listing
1 What Doesn't Kill Us... 0:27
2 ... Makes Us Stronger 6:02
3 Winners Race 5:26
4 Decade 5:27
5 In The Name Of ( ) 5:00
6 Cross Of Shame 6:35
7 Inner Enemy 5:43
8 Seeds Of Hate 5:09
9 The Hole 4:22
10 A Last Advice 1:15
Total Runtime 45:26

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Video: Autumn Hour - Fade Out

New Jersey sci-fi prog metallers Autumn Hour have posted a video for "Fade Out", which comes off their upcoming debut release Dethroned.  The album is slated to be released next month via Rock Ridge Music.

For more info: Website | MySpace

Monday, April 27, 2009

Video: Nahemah - The Perfect Depth of the Mermaids

Spanish melo-death metal outfit Nahemah has posted a video for their song "The Perfect Depth of the Mermaids", which appears on their fourth studio album A New Constellation.

For more info: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review: Evadne - The 13th Condition (2007)

Evadne [ Website | MySpace ]
The 13th Condition

Frequent visitors to Harvest Moon Music will know that I have an affinity for the Gothic Doom style of metal. Theatre of Tragedy, Katatonia, and early The Gathering all exhibit the kind of dark, depressive, and angered style of Heavy Metal that I covet. I simply can't get enough of it. Therefore, whenever I stumble upon an up-and-coming band plying the murky waters of this particular sub-genre, I'm all for lending them an eager ear. From Valencia, on Spain's Mediterranean coast, comes Evadne. Aptly named after the ill-fated wife of Capaneus in Greek Mythology, the band exudes doom and melancholy throughout their debut full-length The 13th Condition.

If you're in the least bit familiar with the aforementioned bands or the Doom/Death style of metal in general, then you're going to know exactly what to expect from Evadne. The 13th Condition is rife with imposing, sorrowful riffs and mournful violin arrangements. The guitars of Josan and Fernando are held primarily in reserve, serving to heighten the dark atmosphere constructed by the lush keyboard work of Jessie (who has since left the band). The vocals are the pseudo Cookie Monster-ish Death Metal growls you'd expect, though frontman Albert does a fine job enunciating the lyrics. To keep things vocally interesting Albert adopts a dispirited spoken-word style on occasion, such as during "Awaiting", and even delves into more of a Black Metal shriek on "A Decadent Puppet". That particular track also features some heavy double-kick from drummer Rafa and some light tremolo riffing from Josan and Fernando. With some majestic keyboard riffs thrown in for good measure, "A Decadent Puppet" comes across as one of the more sinister tracks on The 13th Condition.

In the typical Beauty-and-the-Beast style of Gothic Doom vocals, the harsh male voice is essentially balanced by the inclusion of wistful female vox. In addition to contributing a wealth of violin passages, Lady Nott guests as Evadne's beauty. Atypical of the style, however, is the frequency of Lady Nott's appearances. Perhaps comprising only a third of the vocal passages, her ethereal voice is used just enough to leave the listener wanting more - sort of an aural tease, if you will. Her voice is smooth, wispy, and definitely a positive addition to Evadne's sound. Hopefully she'll continue to be a part of the band's future releases.

The 13th Condition is not an album that transcends established stylings, but it is an extraordinary example of Gothic Doom that any fan of the style must have in their collection. With this release, the members of Evadne have proven themselves to be excellent songwriters and I have little doubt that they'll be snatched up by a label at any moment. Get your hands on this one.

Track Listing
1 Intro 1:59
2 No One Of Them 6:21
3 Awaiting 8:44
4 Follow In The Loveless 8:34
5 A Decadent Puppet 7:50
6 Wounds That Time Is Unable To Close 8:10
7 Los Temps e Loch 3:17
8 I Will Place Them 8:09
9 Torn Cry 6:06
Total Runtime 59:10

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Review: Diphtheria - To Wait For Fire (2008)

Diphtheria [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
To Wait For Fire

Diphtheria, besides being a nasty throat condition, is the name of a Cyprus-based traditional metal band formed back in 1995 who's style of metal would have catapulted them into the spotlight had they been on the scene a decade earlier. Instead, their NWOBHM-influenced dual-guitar riffs and harmonized leads lay relatively dormant until their debut full-length album To Wait For Fire was released in 2008 by Pitch Black Records - which, not coincidentally, was founded by Diphtheria guitarist Phivos Papadopoulos. The band's debut album is, through and through, '80s traditional metal at its best. Hell, even the production lends a Bark At The Moon-era Randy Rhoads ambiance to the guitar tone. For those of you who are, like me, still preoccupied with on.

As previously mentioned, Diphtheria's core sound is pillared by the memorable, driving riffs of Papadopoulos and Socrates Leptos (Arryan Path, Prodigal Earth). While most often adopting a simple, catchy style, the two axemen occasionally take on a Doomier edge as on "I Believe" (which reminds me a lot of Queensrÿche) and the heavily Black Sabbath-influenced "Save Me". Of course, To Wait For Fire couldn't be considered a traditional metal album without an Iron Maiden influence, and it can indeed be heard most distinctly in the anxious harmonized riffs that propel "Sleeping With the Worms" as well as in the subdued guitar intro of "As Darkness Casts its Veil".

Equal in importance to the fine six-string work from Papadopoulos and Leptos is the very strong vocal performance of frontman Nicholas Leptos (Arryan Path, Prodigal Earth). His style is quite remarkable due to his depth of emotion and his knack for the dramatic. Mostly he belts out the lyrics in a typical mid-range metal fashion, but on tracks like "Behind the Mirror's Eye" and "Save Me" his delivery is so theatrical that I swore I was listening to a metallized production of Phantom of the Opera. That's not a bad thing at all, mind you, as he certainly adds a depth of character to the songs. There are times, however, that Leptos strays a little too high with his falsettos and comes off sounding thin. In the end, his performance on To Wait For Fire certainly qualifies him to be considered among the better vocalists of the genre.

The last two tracks on the album, "Living to Die" and "God Wanted (Apply Here)", are remastered tracks from Diphtheria's first demo entitled Living to Die. They stand out not only because Leptos' vocals are a tad less polished than on the preceding tracks, but also because the songs themselves provide an interesting look into the band's early style. "Living to Die" has a nice acoustic intro coupled with a Jeff Beck-like bluesy solo, but the subsequent Judas Priest-inspired riffs are overshadowed by some questionable female vocals. Not a great choice. The final track, however, is one of the most interesting of the album. Opening with a newscaster voice over (courtesy of Britain's Liana Weafer), the following acoustic guitar and piano interplay is quite groovy - and the foot really gets tapping thanks to Alexi David's driving bass.

As a fan of the traditional metal scene of the 1980s, I'm very impressed by Diphtheria's debut. Most of the members have gone on to other metal acts so a follow-up to To Wait For Fire may not be in the cards, but for those metal fans who can't get enough of that old-school Heavy Metal this is an album that you shouldn't be without.

Track Listing
1 Ending Ceremony 5:39
2 I Believe 4:49
3 Behind the Mirror's Eye 5:15
4 To Wait for Fire 3:02
5 As Darkness Casts its Veil 5:10
6 Sleeping With the Worms 3:38
7 Save Me 5:22
8 Start Again 5:24
9 Living to Die 6:34
10 God Wanted (Apply Here) 5:03
Total Runtime 49:50

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