While Heaven Wept

Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction Review

Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction Review

My oh my, doom is getting more and more epic (read as long-winded) and it seems the genre is increasingly stricken with chronic Metallica-itis (inability to edit or cull songs). With bands such as Pilgrim and Swallow the Sun releasing albums loaded down with mega-long, droning numbers, attention spans everywhere are being tested and found wanting.

Raventale – Bringer of Heartsore Review

Raventale – Bringer of Heartsore Review

Ukrainian black metal? With doom and viking elements? By a one man band? Sounds good to me! While Steel Druhm must sheepishly admit to being late to the Raventale party, now that I’m here, I’m a happy fucking camper indeed. That’s because one Astaroth Merc has single-handedly spewed out a very entertaining and enjoyable platter of contemplative, brooding, atmospheric and doomy black metal on his fifth album, Bringer of Heartsore. So good is the material here, I’m willing to overlook that awful, AWFUL album title (plus, I’m assuming English is like his fifth language so mistakes will be made). So what will a listener be treated to on a Raventale album? A composite of Moonsorrow, Helrunar and SIG:AR:TYR (minus the folk acoustics). That means big, sweeping musical pieces, alternatively epic, melancholy and brutal. Sometimes hollow like a dark, empty void, other times ice-cold like Nordic winters, Astaroth weaves many a mood over this relatively short but sweet blackened sojourn. I find myself impressed enough to begin immediate excavation of their back catalog for more rich doomy, blackened goodness. To decide if you might feel the same, read all the fine words below, in order.

Vader – Welcome to the Morbid Reich Review

Vader – Welcome to the Morbid Reich Review

When one thinks of Polish death metal, the names Vader and Behemoth immediately spring to mind as the standard bearers. Both gained enormous exposure and both have been pretty consistent in output over the years. While I admit that not every Vader release has blown me away, more often than not they delivered heavy, satisfying death to the unhinged masses. 2009’s Necropolis was a one of their better albums and found them sounding hungry and hostile. Now, along comes Welcome to the Morbid Reich to steamroll it in short order. Featuring an overhauled, revamped lineup including a new guitarist and bassist, Vader seems to have a large chip on their collective shoulder and aim to prove they’re the one true lord of Pol-death. This is a WAY faster, heavier album than Necropolis, with way more blasting and pummeling. Its almost uniformly played at blistering speeds and aggressive to the point of exhaustion. In fact, its pretty much a companion piece to the new Hate Eternal album with a lot of similarities in style. There’s also some stylistic nods to countrymen Behemoth and even some throwbacks to old Deicide and Malevolent Creation. Its real nasty business from start to finish and its gives out way more of a ferocious beating than I expected.

Loss – Despond Review

Loss – Despond Review

Ever felt the need to sit amidst the shadows and brood darkly over lost loves, personal failures, lack of objectivity in music reviews and other existential mumbo jumbo? If so, I may have the perfect musical accompaniment for your days of shoegaze. Despond, the debut from Tennessee’s Loss, is one mammoth slab of remorseful, gloomy funeral doom/death that will harsh anyone’s mellow and kill any and all buzz. It’s snail paced, ponderous and crushingly heavy in that way only real doom can be. On the highway of metal music, this thing has its hazard lights flashing and moves slower than a senior citizen with cataracts and a bum hip. Now, I’m well aware that funeral doom isn’t for everyone. I myself rarely find the style compelling enough to sit through an album’s worth regardless of how well the band executes. For that very reason I was surprised by the impact Despond had on me. Not only did I enjoy listening to the entirety of Loss’s mortuary muzak, but I kept going back for more and ultimately, it left me blown away. That either means they have something truly special going on or I have a brain tumor pressing on my music appreciation lobe. Either way, this is an weirdly addictive album full of gloom and despair with some unbelievably powerful emotions and atmosphere to it.

While Heaven Wept – Fear of Infinity Review

While Heaven Wept – Fear of Infinity Review

2011 got off to a rollicking start for metal and it seemed that we in the reviewer game were going to have our hands full trying to select a top ten come December. However, as March wound into April and we got to hear some very highly anticipated releases, things started to look a little less stellar. Angry Metal Guy was less than blown away by the new Amon Amarth and Septic Flesh among several others not yet reviewed. Now it’s my turn to feel less than floored by a much beloved band’s new material. As a huge fan of While Heaven Wept and their epic, beautiful doom style, I must admit to being slightly let down by Fear of Infinity, their fourth album. Now, before people get the wrong idea, this remains a very solid, well done doom metal album and maintains the style and sound of past While Heaven Wept material. However, it just doesn’t achieve the towering heights of excellence heard on their Of Empires Forlorn and Vast Oceans Lachrymose albums. Something seems amiss on some of the material here and I can’t quite place my finger on it.

Steel Druhm’s Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time 50-41

Steel Druhm’s Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time 50-41

Much like Angry Metal Guy, I took issue with Gibson’s Top 50 Metal Songs of All Time. While AMG was primarily offended by the paucity of post-1980s selections and the Anglocentric focus, my biggest gripe was the inclusion of bands that weren’t/aren’t metal (that also pissed me off, I’m just not eloquent when I’m pissed. – AMG). As good as bands like KISS, Van Halen and AC/DC may be, they just aren’t heavy metal bands (Don’t even get me started on Korn). Even when Gibson managed to stick to the correct genre, some of their choices were quite baffling to me. Of course, if you put fifty metal fans in a room and told them to do their own lists, each would be unique and vastly different. That’s the wonderful subjectivity of music, it means something different to each of us and who are we to judge what others like? That being said, Gibson’s list blows moose cock, so here’s mine.

Atlantean Kodex – The Golden Bough Review

Atlantean Kodex – The Golden Bough Review

Crushing my friends, simply crushing. Like being flattened by some type of heavy industrial smoothing machine, The Golden Bough, the debut full-length from Germany’s Atlantean Kodex will compress you in a major way. However, this crushing may be one of your better listening experience this year if you dig epic/doom metal. Although I was lead to expect good things by their well-regarded Pnakotic Demos EP, I wasn’t prepared for anywhere near this level of asskickery. To put it quite simply, this is one of the most epic and huge sounding metal albums to drop on us in years. With a sound combining Into Glory Ride-era Manowar with the doom of While Heaven Wept and the atmosphere of Bathory’s Hammerheart opus, these guys have birthed a monstrous metal titan that should be essential listening for all fans of doom, epic or just plain old heavy metal.