Dec 272011

(We first came across A Hill To Die Upon in an October MISCELLANY post, and since then their name has continued to appear on our site — their 2011 album Omens made Andy Synn’s list of the year’s Great albums as well as his list of Personal Favorites, and we also posted this review of Omens. I asked the band’s drummer and backing vocalist Michael Cook if he would share with us his list of favorite albums from 2011, and lo and behold, he agreed.)

The Horde Thy Blackened Reign (Stromspell Records)

Thy Blackened Reign is one of the best thrash albums ever. I can say that as a man completely uneducated in the school of thrash. So, of course, my opinion won’t hold much weight with thrash fans, but I can urge everyone to buy this album and listen to it. The drums are solid, the guitars are catchy and raw, and the vocals… are… killer… Continue reading »

May 262010

Sometimes when we listen to metal, we just want to get mentally pulverized. Sometimes we want to get lost in something sweepingly complex that requires serious attention. Sometimes we want to be transported by something that’s beautiful as well as powerful.

Rarely, we find music that accomplishes all those objectives at once. Martriden‘s latest album Encounter the Monolith pulls off that hat trick.

One of our faithful readers (the always astute Andy Synn) recommended Martriden to us, and man are we glad he did.

This music (released in February) puts us in mind of a Pacific storm surge assaulting a rocky coastline. Waves of “symphonic” black metal crash with explosive force against jagged stone (as at the outset of “The Three Metamorphoses”), and then the wave-front recedes in passages of relative calm, and the band shifts into prog-metal instrumentals reminiscent of Opeth.

The intensity builds again to full force as storm clouds roll inexorably overhead, heavy rain batters down (with Meshuggah-like pummeling, as on “Heywood R. Floyd”) and megatons of power explode with brute force.

And then at times, as in the beginning and middle of “Death and Transfiguration,” and unexpectedly in other songs, we can imagine the storm passing and glorious rays of sunshine piercing the clouds, when quiet instrumental passages take over or clean guitar leads emerge with soaring melodies.  (more effusiveness follows after the jump, plus a song to stream . . .) Continue reading »