Finland Tribute Week took its toll on our exploration of new bands, or at least new bands from outside Finland. Our list of bands whose music we’re interested in checking out continued to grow while we were preoccupied with All Things Finnish, but we did nothing to reduce the list. So now we’re playing catch-up, beginning with today’s MISCELLANY post.
The rules of this game haven’t changed: I randomly pick names off our running list of bands who look interesting (for completely random reasons); I check out a song or two from the bands I pick, not knowing whether the music will be good, bad, or indifferent; and I write about what I heard — plus I let you hear the music, too, so you can make up your own minds. It’s like a pot-luck dinner, but with people you don’t know, who may or may not be good cooks.
Because I’m playing catch-up, I picked six bands off the MISCELLANY list and listened to them in this order: Weapon (Canada), Archspire (Canada), The Fevered (Australia), Unstable (NY), Seven Nines and Tens (Canada), and Bouq (Jordan). Yes, that makes this post almost as long as War and Peace. But by complete chance, it turns out that the music spans a very broad spectrum of metal, so I’m hoping all the following verbiage will prove to be worth your time.
I’ve admitted before that I’ve got the attention span of a hummingbird, and here’s more proof: Our MISCELLANY list is as long as my arm — so what did I do? I listened first to a band that I found out about just yesterday, instead of bands that have been lingering on the list for months. But being unable to concentrate for more than a few seconds does have its advantages, because this was a super-fine find — and I must thank NCS reader SurgicalBrute for the tip on this one. (more after the jump . . .)
Weapon is now a four-piece band based on Edmonton, Canada, though it was started by frontman Vetis Monarch in Bangladesh before his eventual migration to Canada. After recording a demo and a couple of EPs, Weapon released their debut album in 2009 (Drakonian Paradigm) and followed it in November of this year with a second full-length, From the Devil’s Tomb (which is available on iTunes, among other places).
I listened to the first two songs on From the Devil’s Tomb, the title track and “Vested in Surplice and Violet Stole”. One word: Wow. More words: This is a fascinating, pulverizing mass of technical black death, rhythmically diverse, sonically powerful, infiltrated with minor-key oriental melodies, packed with riveting riffage, and voiced by cavernously deep, jagged vocals.
It reminded me of Deicide, Dissection, and Watain rolled into one, with the first song more death metal in influence and the second more melodic black metal in style. I have a feeling there’s even more variety in the what lays ahead on this album — which I will most certainly finish hearing.
This was a very promising start to this MISCELLANY tour, as I hope you’ll understand when you hear this first song I heard on From the Devil’s Tomb:
For more info, Weapon’s MySpace page is at this location. The album is available on iTunes
My next stop on this MISCELLANY tour was a band called Archspire, who are based just across the border from us in Vancouver, BC. We learned about them via a strong e-mail recommendation from long-time NCS reader Vintner.
Turns out they’ve got two guitarists who play, respectively, 7- and 8-string instruments and a bass-player who hits his licks on a 6-string fretless bass. Their MySpace page includes the come-on that the music is for fans of Brain Drill, Origin, Spawn of Possession, Obscura, and Immolation — which certainly succeeded in whetting my appetite, since all those bands are aces as far as I’m concerned.
Earlier this year, Archspire completed a four-song EP called All Shall Align. I tracked it down and listened to the first two songs, “Deathless Ringing” and “Archspire”. Two words: Holy shit!
More words: This is a truly eye-popping convulsion of tech-death, with schizophrenic rhythms, astounding technical riffing and drumwork, and tiny threads of reappearing melody that stitch the songs together into cohesive wholes. And I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a death-metal vocalist bark out the lyrics faster than Archspire’s, particularly on that second song; he’s like the vocal equivalent of those insane guitarists.
This is most definitely a band to keep your eyes on; you will hear more about them. Check out the opening track from All Shall Align:
A few days ago, Archspire provided an update to fans, announcing that they had finished recording all tracks for a forthcoming full-length album, also to be called All Shall Align, which will include new material as well as remixed and remastered versions of older songs. In the meantime, Archspire’s MySpace page is at this location, and you can download the All Shall Align EP for free at Death Metal Invasion, which represents that the EP was uploaded with the band’s permission.
The Fevered is a metal band from Brisbane, Australia who wrote us about three weeks ago, asking that we check out their just-released EP, entitled Vestige. The Fevered is one of those smart unsigned bands who’ve taken advantage of the Bandcamp platform, so it was easy to get a high-quality download of the music.
Once again, I sampled the product by listening to the first two tracks — “To Frailty” and “Sky Burial”. What I heard was a solid offering of melodic death-thrash. It’s fast-paced, with catchy (if not spectacular) riffing, nice guitar solos, and terrific, low-end death-vocals that give the music a gory edge. If you know the Danish band Hatesphere, that will give you an idea of the style; at least, that’s what The Fevered brought to my mind.
Here’s the first song I heard:
This band from Long Beach, NY, contacted us via e-mail in early December with an invitation to check out their debut album, Roaming Through Chaos, which was released on October 31. We got waylaid in our plans to do that, principally by our focus on Finland Tribute Week, but I finally turned to it after listening to The Fevered and again injected myself with the first two songs (which followed a short intro track) — “29 Feet” and “Tears of Blood”.
I had high expectations for this band, because I’ve rarely been disappointed with the new metal coming out of Long Island, but I had some trouble getting my mind around this band’s unusual amalgamation of styles, at least on a first listen.
The most prevalent motif is New York Death Metal, with rhythmically variant chugging and growly vocals. But then there are slower paced interludes verging on prog metal, as well as interjections of psychedelic guitar — and there’s even a trumpet solo at the end of “Tears of Blood”. Unstable, indeed.
And the death-metal growls are accompanied by high-pitched clean vocals, not only in the more melodic interludes I mentioned but also while the chainsaw chugging is at full-force. And if that weren’t enough vocal variety, there are some ear-bleeding shrieks, too.
I liked the instrumental work on these songs (including the inventive, refreshingly blast-beat-free drumming and the prominent bass picking in the proggy interludes), but I found the clean vocals a bit strained at times and more than a bit jarring over the top of the NYDM chugging.
This music may grow on me with more studied listening, but the stylistic diversity sounded more forced than organic. It’s an interesting concept, but I’m not sure it works. (And to admit my prejudices, I wasn’t sold on the rampant style-splicing that occurred on DEP’s Option Paralysis either.) Make up your own minds. Here’s “Tears of Blood”:
You can stream all the tracks on Roaming Through Chaos at Unstable’s ReverbNation page, and the album is also available for purchase there, as well as at iTunes. More info about Unstable is available at their MySpace and Facebook pages.
SEVEN NINES AND TENS
This is yet another band from just across the border in Vancouver, BC. They e-mailed us about a month ago, and I gave a quick listen to one song while in the middle of doing something else and decided I needed to come back and listen more carefully — which I did after that visit to Unstable.
I don’t really know what “post metal” or “post rock” mean. I see the terms thrown around, but have never come across a coherent definition. On the other hand, I get a sense of what the terms signify by listening to bands that get tagged with those labels. And so I guess Seven Nines and Tens belongs under the “post metal” banner. Sort of.
I listened to two songs that the band has available on its Soundcloud page. “Castles” is slow and entrancing. Sludgy, distorted guitars pair up with prominent bass picking, and psychedelic guitar leads ratchet up the intensity. That prominent bass takes the lead again on “Day of the Living”, with warm, enveloping melodies swinging along side-by-side, led by clean guitar arpeggios. There’s a “shoe-gaze” ambiance to the song. It draws you in, makes you smile, makes you admire the songcraft.
There’s no clean singing on this music. To be precise, there’s no singing on this music. That would only clutter up the instrumental ingenuity, which carries the music more than adequately.
You can stream three of the band’s songs on their Soundcloud page, and they’ve made one available for free download here. Their Myspace is here, and their Facebook here. Per the band’s MySpace blog, they’re planning to record a debut album in March 2011.
Bouq is a Jordanian dark/black metal “band” who earlier this month released “their” second album, called Berserk. I read a link about the band on the always interesting Cairo-based metal blog Metality. Because I’m still trying to get better educated about music from the Middle East, I decided to give Bouq a shot.
I put those words “band” and “their” in quotes because it turns out that Bouq is a one-man band — the brainchild of the multi-instrumentalist Muhannad Bursheh.
I listened to the first two tracks on the album — “Berserk – The Grand Raven Feast” and “Desrever Alumrof Ecnetsixe”. The first song is head-whipping, innervating, melodic black metal punctuated by tribal drumming and clanging guitars and fired with riveting rhythmic shifts. The second song is even more interesting — pulsing electronic samples lead into squealing, buzzing tremolo chords, and there’s more rhythmic bounding, up and down. It’s got headbanging riffs, a swirling melody, and scowling vocals that are sweetly demonic. Of all the excellent metal I heard on this MISCELLANY tour, I think this music is my favorite. Here’s the second song I heard:
Berserk is available digitally on iTunes, and physical copies can be obtained via the band’s online shop (here). And here’s a ReverbNation tune widget that will give you the chance to hear the first song I heard and two others (all three songs are from Bouq’s new album):