Friday, August 26, 2022

Lustre - A Thirst for Summer Rain Review

I have left Lustre at Wonder, which is a point in the project's discography that is almost a decade ago so there is some catching up to do. Nevertheless, it is one of the cases where the produced material has a pretty well defined structure and one can be positive of no gross diversions at any point or album, so essentially, it's like I haven't missed a day. A Thirst for Summer Rain, apart from a slightly more optimistic title and color palette, doesn't surprise in terms of music either, as it features characteristic Lustre material standing on dreamy, slow compositions, pale keyboard melodies and distant whispering / screaming vocals that generally wouldn't even come close to anything extreme related. The tracks have an almost nostalgic / romantic atmosphere that hints the album's concept, and they all keep the same tempo and the same attitude at all times, sometimes too much. The introduction of the first track "Quiescence" is basically the reversed melody of the introduction of the third track "Thirst", which for a moment, along the rest of the compositions which feel strikingly similar, had me wondering if Lustre actually has any inspiration left. Yet, A Thirst for Summer Rain is too innocent to be mad at, and an overall pleasing background album to go through, and I'm sure the fans won't ask for anything else than exactly this. The last piece "Alleviation" hardly has any distortion even, which makes this record very light to listen to, and almost completely departing from the realm of metal. Even like that, Lustre maintain and still present their own sound. [3/5 - Good]

Origin: Sweden
Label: Nordvis Produktion
Release date: August 26th, 2022
Listen: Bandcamp

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Wormrot - Hiss Review

Throughout all these years of obsessively listening to countless albums after albums, the times when I was blown away to this extent by something have been as rare as crossing paths with a unicorn. It is the case of a band with a really clear upwards trajectory, steadily for over a decade, offering the musically richest and most intriguing material of the genre they are devoted to. And finally, all planets align, all of their little flaws are not just erased but boosted with the opposite sign, to create Hiss, Wormrot's best record to date and one of the best pieces of grindcore ever made. I believe this is how a genre defining work should be, glorifying the highest qualities of that music style, while shedding light on why it is not mere noise or aggressiveness. It exemplifies grindcore's best self, a rapidly paced bludgeoning of endless ideas molded into short durations, with multiple unexpected turns, excellent musicianship, overwhelming compositional inspiration and my goodness, how great are these aesthetics, the concept and the lyrics. All the tracks are perfect, the record flows like a pristine river despite all of its acute content and changes in sense, there are scarce clean vocals, brilliant violin use, slight black metal hints (as they have had in the past) and generally, there is no better musicianship in grindcore right now. Wormrot surpassed themselves, and this organic production fully helps with the outcome this time, while a sector that was not ideal so far is maybe another of the highlights of Hiss: the demonic drum playing. It is impossible to not recognize the sheer magnificence of this band's effort at the moment, whether you are a fan of the genre or not, and I don't think Hiss will be ever overlooked in the future when discussions arise about this kind of extreme metal. I hope the record proves to become a modern classic and Wormrot placed among the best bands of the trade. Just congratulations. [5/5 - Masterpiece]

Origin: Singapore
Label: Earache Records
Release date: July 8th, 2022
Listen: Bandcamp

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Exaltation - Under Blind Reasoning Review

I am trying to make up my mind about this album and it constantly proves to be not so straightforward. It's fairly clear that this band has its heart at the right place when it comes to playing death metal, with its thick, stomping production, the cavernous growls (plus some sparse moments of painful screaming), and slithering guitar lines that bypass all temptations of modernity but instead root themselves in the old school, violent form of the genre, somewhere between Sadistic Intent and Incantation. Under Blind Reasoning has some bangers too, like "Fate Revolt" and "Impious Massacre", which are tracks short in duration and quite entertaining to listen to, mainly where most of Exaltation's potency lies. At the same time, the band's serious weak point is often its slower moments, as it takes more than just playing notes slowly to be efficient when one goes to such territories, and unfortunately many parts of the compositions feel like there was uncertainty on how to continue, so a filler slow part was added. "Ascension" is a dreadful example of this, where all riffs are really mediocre, and for this reason the album as a whole starts with a rather anti climactic way ("Iron Rebellion" and "Impending Decease" are both on the weaker side of the scale). Across the board, I didn't receive the expected heaviness or intensity from the band, neither from the musicianship nor from the sound, as one that dominates let's say, in a Dead Congregation album. Since Exaltation are molded from this kind of clay, and their work is not overly sub par, after a few listens there's several points in terms of song writing as well as structure that they could improve, in order to actually create a competent album. Under Blind Reasoning is the kind of release I always hope that I will like before listening to it, as it lies close to my taste radars, yet Exaltation didn't knock my socks off at the end of the day. A couple of good tunes and a generally acceptable presence save the record from a complete slump. [2.5/5 - Average]

Origin: New Zealand
Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Release date: July 29th, 2022
Listen: Spotify

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Grimdor - The Land of Shadow Review

I think I had been reading information about an actual Grimdor full length album as far back as two years ago, yet it seemed like something quite distant since the project is ridiculously active with releases, not only under this moniker but through many. This year alone, they already have four more EPs with Grimdor and I am sure there's more to come, while they constantly make short tape runs of their long back catalog. Nevertheless, the band's debut release is finally reality and there's a few points to note compared to their usual activities: there is by now colorized, proper digitally designed artwork (made by Silvana Massa), all the tracks are longer than usual and they have aimed for a generally cleaner sound in both parts of the record. The Land of Shadow, as always, heavily referencing Tolkien's universe, is made of two distinct sections: the first four tracks of monotonous raw black metal and the last three, of the distinctive dungeon synth style of Grimdor. Elements of one side do not interfere with the other, and could have been separate releases in another world, yet as a whole this falls 100% inside the ballpark of what a Grimdor fan would expect. Now, their black metal tunes are basically Burzum of the self-titled album era. The structure and the feeling, the riffs, even the style of playing is almost identical sometimes, with an only difference that Varg's vocals at the time were vastly better than the vocals here, yet the outcome is not completely lousy. It manages enough to just recognize a fine job of a worship act. On the dungeon synth side, as Grimdor are used to 1-2 minute pieces, there is a lot of repetition of a few melodies in each track to reach a needed duration length. I don't mind that at all, in fact I strongly prefer simplistic ambient to this seemingly grandiose dungeon synth artists that are out there, yet now that the production has been cleared, the verdict is also easier too see: an average record that gets 0.5 extra because I like Lord of the Rings. [3/5 - Good]

Origin: United States / Germany
Label: Self-released
Release date: August 9th, 2022
Listen: Bandcamp

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Guyođ & Lehm - Alluvial Soil Review

There is a certain quite interesting nature in both newborn bands featured in Alluvial Soil, a split release directly from the Austrian underground, between obscure death metallers Guyođ and sludge / post-metal project Lehm. And while the latter has already released a full length three years ago, Guyođ's side stands as the very first material of the act and Alluvial Soil, practically being their debut release, stands as a bold and daring statement that reeks of potential. Each band contributes two tracks, and the duration and the split opens with Guyođ's murky, thick guitar sound, drawing inspiration from aquatic concepts with several references to the ocean and the depths, their music is mostly built on slow / middle paced patterns with some far-flung Ulcerate hints, an ounce of doom metal and wonderful and varied vocals. It is an extremely well articulated band in terms of lyrics as well, and both their tracks, clocking above seven minutes each, present enough compositional proficiency that makes the listener take notes to not forget this strangely named band and be alerted for when they put out a full length album. Lehm don't dare to play any faster, yet they move in more distinct sludgy / post-metal melodies and a fuzzy, painful guitar sound with subtle echo that makes you feel like you're listening to them live in a basement somewhere. Nice guitar work, with really solid riffing / soloing especially in "Weeping Willow", they deliver their part of the split constitute to a mini-album that has bands of different genres, but with very well clicking music that provides a seamless experience. I mostly went into Alluvial Soil by quite quickly being hooked to Guyođ's work, yet there is essence and quality scattered all over this little gem of a split. I bet these guys will make a louder impact when full releases are put out to the world, judging from this first, short taste. [3.5/5 - Great]

Origin: Austria / Austria
Label: Self-released
Release date: January 23rd, 2022
Listen: Bandcamp

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Altars - Ascetic Reflection Review

This is not good. Nine years is a long time, and that's how long it took Altars to put a second album together, after the fairly successful and competent Paramnesia in 2013. The band's body of work is based on stomping death metal, with a lot of angular song writing that brings Portal to mind, with passages that also remind of something between Gorguts and distant Ulcerate, but the base constantly being Morbid Angel. If you liked Paramnesia, I bet you will like Ascetic Reflection too, yet for me both records feel the same: they tackle themselves right at the point when it is about to get enjoyable. First things first, don't get fooled by this unconventional songwriting, there is really nothing intrinsically special or unique in the music of Altars, and it doesn't even come close to the actual genius behind a band like Portal for example, with which I have seen several comparisons being drawn around. Altars hold back too much, the compositions often stall too long and parts of the record can become basically empty and uninspiring, and at these times it's when a listener who is not so familiar with death metal music, or tries to critique it, will think this band is amazing. But it's not. In tracks like "Luminous Jar", the self-titled piece, or "Perverse Entity", actually solid material is being presented. The sense of coherence is still not there between different ideas, and to just abruptly stop playing a part to move to the next doesn't make you a good composer, yet there is still an amount of good moments. On the other hand, "Inauspicious Prayer" or "Black Light Upon Us" contain musical notions that amount to naught, and in between all tracks, Ascetic Reflection really aches in terms of flow. I don't like to think that this band is compared to behemoths of this style, like the aforementioned bands of this text. You can find better music than this and don't be fooled by it. [2/5 - Below Average]

Origin: Australia
Label: Everlasting Spew Records
Release date: July 8th, 2022
Listen: Bandcamp

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Fleshrot - Unburied Corpse Review

Fleshrot don't try to impress anyone, and in fact follow a rather standard death metal recipe without slightly diverging from it at any point. Unburied Corpse is their debut full length and it's all you would expect from a Texan band of the kind, slow to middle paced chugging riffs with a hefty amount of groove and echoing deep growls, going a bit faster at times but never really technical, while at the same time pretty enjoyable to listen to. The record is fine not because it is extraordinary, but just because it shows what it is really clearly and Fleshrot have enough variety in the song parts to avoid boredom, most of their scattered solos are really nice and it's not a release that is too long in duration. I picked the cover I liked the most from the two alternate ones that exist for the release, as it is the more old school one and fits the material of the band, which show that Fleshrot have their heart in the 90's and not in this day and and age. One could say that death metal like this is all rooted to somewhere between Autopsy and Bolt Thrower (for the mid tempo guitar lines and sometimes hyper slow moments), yet I wouldn't say this band produced something really remarkable here, yet it doesn't lack the elements to make it an enjoyable album for enjoying your breakfast on a nice Sunday. If they push their compositional arsenal a bit more outside their comfort zone, it could potentially result in a really good death metal album, but in the meantime with Unburied Corpse things seem to have gone smoothly for Fleshrot and they are worth your time. "Intricate Dissection", "Draining the Liquified Remains" and "Haunted of Sick Depravities" were the highlights for me, as I found the most interesting ideas of the band these tracks, yet the record (apart from a couple of moments) is at about the same frequency. [3/5 - Good]

Origin: United States
Label: Me Saco un Ojo Records
Release date: August 1st, 2022
Listen: Bandcamp