Category Archives: Metal

Feared’s “Synder.” Reviewed by Luis Balderrama.

Feared_Snyder

“Synder” seems to be more of an experimental album for Feared, as they step out of the box with clean piano sections, clean vocals, and much more clean-guitar melodies mixed in with their amazing death metal writing. It almost seems as if they had a check list of styles that they wanted to play on this album. Black Metal, Death Metal, Progressive, Rock, etc…

It never ceases to amaze me how creative Ola’s guitar riffs and melodies are. He’s just got such a tight hold on such a huge and heavy sound, but is still able to incorporate crisp blast beats, neck breaking breakdowns, clean and tight rhythmic riffs, clean guitar melodies mixed in with an almost Opeth – progressive quality it has.

“Of Iron and Ashes” has this abrupt change from heavy blast beat and death metal vocals to clean guitar, which gives such an eerie vibe. It really catches you off guard. At first, the change almost seemed like some sort of editing glitch, but the more I listened to it, the more it felt in place. It’s that clarity you get before delving back into the insanity of the piece. It’s a great change up.

“Dygder” is the first real introduction to this new type of sound with its creepy piano and melodramatic tonality. It’s a great break from the heavy and chunky sound Feared is known for, and it’s a great lead into “By Silent Screaming.” It sets you up for that driving rhythm of the guitars and bass drum working together. I cannot overemphasize how precise Feared is when it comes to full-band rhythm synchronization. You can tell they take a lot of pride in that ability and use it well.

“War Feeding War” is a solid piece that really shows off Kevin Talley’s drum abilities. Not that the other songs don’t, but this song brings such a wide variety. The solo in the middle is small, but again, it’s the contrast to the rest of the piece that somehow makes the rest of the song valid. Both Ola and Kevin really shine on this piece. I also enjoy the ending blend into the next song, “The Narcissist.” This song brings forth the band’s amazing ability to nail some solid black metal style music and mix it with some serious thrash metal. The dissonance from the chords puts you in that disjointed mindset. It’s a great blend of death metal chunk, clean piano, tremolo melodies, and black metal dissonance.

Overall, Synder is a great album. It showed how flexible Ola’s musical abilities are. Previous albums touched on different styles, but this was an obvious charge to take on different styles of music. I very much enjoy Feared’s ability to create heavy death metal riffs, but I hope they continue to do so. Although I like the new musical influences in Synder, I hope they do not lose that heavy-ness they’ve always brought to the table.

Children of Bodom’s “Halo of Blood,” Reviewed by Luis Balderrama

"Halo of Blood," by Children of Bodom
“Halo of Blood,” by Children of Bodom

First impressions of this album were absolute joy. This is why I became a fan of Children of Bodom (COB) and this is the COB I knew. COB has been, at least in my head, the standard for melodic death metal, and their earlier albums are a solid example of that. But lately their albums have been very heavy on the, well, heavy and death metal side of things. And that’s fine. Bands change their direction and their sound as their members grow up and mature. That’s not news to anyone. With that said, “Halo of Blood” was a sigh of relief, that, “Ahh yes,” type of thing. This is not, much to the despair of some die hard COB fans, classic COB. This is more of a throw back to their older style mixed in with their recent musical ventures. I like that. I enjoyed the incorporation of other genres into this album.

The opening song “Waste of Skin” is a great example with some amazing melodic riffs, thrash sections, and slightly black metal influences. It’s very impressive to see such a seamless mix of these genres into just one song. The title track “Halo of Blood” really took a lot of black metal influence. Blast beats, dissonant guitar riffs, and that COB touch? Years ago I would have said that COB and black metal wouldn’t have worked, but I stand completely corrected. It’s a great mix. In contrast, “All Twisted” has a very thrash feel to it, but again with that COB touch. This may not be old COB, but their ability to take bits and parts of other genres and make them their own has been impressive.

All in all, my only complaint would be that not one of the songs sticks out to me more than the others. All the songs are at a great level and the album as a whole is very well done, don’t get me wrong. But I always find it nice to have one song on an album that is just, your favorite. I could listen to this album through and through and I would not be disappointed, but there wouldn’t be any time where I would crank it up for that one song. Other than that, this is a great addition to the COB album line up and it will be something I will listening to a lot.

Barren Earth’s “On Lonely Towers,” Reviewed by Zachary S. Valladon

"On Lonely Towers," by Barren Earth
“On Lonely Towers,” by Barren Earth

This is the first record that I have ever heard by the Finnish six-piece, Barren Earth, but I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s like someone finally decided that turning the guitar distortion up to 11 isn’t necessary to make good metal. I mean, for fuck’s sake… it’s 2015, and the current state of metal would suggest that bands have forgotten what a riff is, or what music sounded like before it was 100% guttural noise. “On Lonely Towers” is a breath of fresh air from music that has had listeners’ faces thrust forcefully into the garbage man’s asshole for WAY too long. I can hear every plectrum with every note on this record, and what’s this? Is that actual singing?! Yeah, it is, and it’s fucking fantastic. The guitar- work in songs like “Howl,” “Frozen Processions,” and “On Lonely Towers” is profound in a very individual way. Where has this group been all of my life?

My current favorite off of this record is the final track, “The Vault” — it’s equal parts heavy, experimental, progressive and in some ways, reminiscent of Strawberry Alarm Clock/Thin Lizzy type bands. You can hear the organ absolutely soar in this track, which is an amazing feat in a death metal record. It IS a death metal record, right? I’m not sure how to peg this one, and I still can’t get the musical boner down, so I’m giving “On Lonely Towers” a solid 4.5/5.

Marduk’s “Frontschwein” Reviewed by Zachary S. Valladon

Marduk’s “Frontschwein”

Swedish black metal outfit Marduk do everything right with their brand new record, “Frontschwein” until vocalist Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén opens his mouth (which happens fairly early in the record, unfortunately). We last heard from Marduk in 2012, when they dropped “Serpent Sermon,” a fairly progressive record for a band considered to be black metal. “Frontschwein” finds the regularly blasphemous band critically analyzing death, war and the chaotic interplay of the two — give track number three, “Afrika” a listen… are they talking about the fallacious nature of early imperialism in Africa? “Desert Fox versus Desert Rats,” cries Mortuus, possibly juxtaposing the indigenous people with the religious land-scavengers. Nothing is really solid about Frontschwein, and that sucks balls

since this band has been around since the early 90’s, making some of the more widely respected black metal. To me, this has way too many regurgitated metal chord progressions and less-than-good-more-than-bad lyrical content. Mortuus is starting to sound kind of weak, and that’s okay because after 11 years of recording and touring with Marduk, his testicles must be ready to squeeze right through his vocal chords. It doesn’t sound like his technique has changed or is going to. “Frontschwein”

is passive for a metal record, and it sounds like they might have recorded Rostén’s vocals in someone’s bathroom before layering them purposefully behind the rest of the music. This serves as a solid performance by the instrumentalists, but the writing is lacking, and for that I award “Frontschwein” with a 3/5.