Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Return!

The return of the schizophrenic eggs are imminent. But it will be sporadic as you know that they are quite lazy, hehe! In case you were wondering, if I've written anything worthwhile, then the answer is yes, to some extent anyway. Two of my recent write-ups were featured on Cosmo Lee founded revered metal blog Invisible Oranges. They are respectively the review of Indian sludge rock outfit Shepherd's debut album Stereolithic Riffalocalypse and a brief write-up for a track premiere from the upcoming Howls of Ebb mini-LP The Marrow Veil. Now behold the review of King Giant's stellar new album Black Ocean Waves.

King Giant - Black Ocean Waves (2015)

Headstones and Heartbreak:

Whether it’s Alice in Chains or Acid Bath, I’ve always been primarily drawn towards heavy music that simultaneously pummels your skull with ballsy rhythm section and alleviates those wounds with elaborate, soulful melodies. Like confronting the psychological demons from your past, dealing with the misery, overcoming
all the hardship and frustration to achieve mental redemption. That’s exactly the kind of feeling you get while listening to King Giant’s profound, solemn and heartfelt metal anthems.

Although King Giant have gotten bluesier and more texturally varied over the course of their three full-lengths, the gritty unrelenting sludge of their debut EP Identity is still discernible at times. For instance, “Shindig” from Southern Darkness and from its successor, the doom-drenched “The Fog”. Black Ocean Waves is no exception when it comes to no frills heavy riffage, in fact immediately after the epic instrumental opener “Mal De Mer” it leaps right into the dominant galloping crunch of “The One That God Forgot to Save”, a harrowing tale of a prostitute’s revenge on the society. “Trail of Thorns” is again a straightforward heavy rocker about a devil-may-care spree killer full of foot-stomping hooks complemented by a nostalgic southern-fried bluesy solo. And as much as I love Evil Elvis dare I say that nowadays I’m a bit more partial towards David Hammerly? As I find his gravelly baritone more broad and flexible.

Black Ocean Waves is also the album where King Giant embrace their melodic prowess to the fullest. As evident in “Red Skies” which more or less serves as the disguised titular track as it accentuates the album cover art in the audible form. An intense composition about the slaughter of an entire whaling ship’s crew by its captain and his regretful confessions. It features expansive layers of harmonized twin-guitar, multi-tracked vocal harmonies and aplenty variations. “Blood of the Lamb” revolves around the perennial debate on redemption. It's a gloomy hard rocker full of sardonic atmosphere and abrupt yet catchy tempo shifts.

This is not the kind of record where you’d seek a particular stand-out. In Black Ocean Waves every song has its own defining moments and characteristics. But
still, the album peaks with the aptly placed closure “There Were Bells”, a wistful and moving metallic ballad where the band laments the passing of their friends and dear ones most notably the band’s original vocalist Bob Dotolo.

If Southern Darkness and Dismal Hollow were the footsteps that trembled the face of the underground then Black Ocean Waves is that gigantic stomp that would establish King Giant as the bona fide kings of whiskey-soaked nostalgic heavy metal.  

Rating - ★★★★★ (98% on Metal-Archives)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Atragon - Volume I (2012)

Doom from the ghoulish crypts of Edinburgh:

At first listen Atragon may turn out as the Scottish counterpart of The Wounded Kings due to their massive, gnarly wall of sound. But no, upon further listening
you'll realize that they have this unusual and weird rock-out sensibilities attached to the writhing mass of gargantuan riffing. So, the outcome is not as ritualistic as The Wounded Kings neither as wretched as Cough even though comparisons remain viable to some extent.

They draw from every facet of doom metal, be it the abrasive sludge that pours from the first track, the more bouncy up-tempo tendencies of Pentagram, Saint Vitus and Crush the Insects era Reverend Bizarre as heard in the primary rhythm section of "Jesus Wept" disparated by its bridge which plunges into the hallucinatory depths of drone.

Psychedelic leads are also to be found on both the tracks and that too judiciously incorporated during the build-up. Jan Gardner's vocals fall
somewhere between the revolting snarl of Henry Rollins and the theatrics of Layne Staley. Too much of a compliment? No, his voice is really that damn good and you have to hear it to believe it.

Overall, this demo is very promising and regardless of what kind of doom you're into Atragon's crushing sonic waves oscillate between cathartic hallucinations, massive grooves and morbid atmosphere of the Edinburgh Vaults. As far as I've heard they're currently working on the debut full-length and I simply can't wait to hear it.

Rating - ★★★★ (87% on Metal-Archives)

Available for free download from Witch Hunter Records

Atragon's Facebook page


Friday, January 23, 2015

Subterranean Masquerade - The Great Bazaar (2015)

Relive the Feeling, Welcome to This Reanimated Masquerade:

During my progressive rock/metal phase back in 2006-07 I came across Subterranean Masquerade's debut full-length Suspended Animation Dreams and
as soon as I gave it a spin I knew it was definitely not your run-of-the-mill prog-metal album because this thing doesn't let technical gibberish take hold of the songwriting. Yes, that's the key aspect of Subterranean Masquerade and that's why I love them to this day when my taste hardly runs parallel with contemporary prog-metal, well, at least what's in the bigger picture anyway.

For those who aren't acquainted with the background of this supergroup, it's the brainchild of Israel-based multi-instrumentalist Tomer Pink and Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom) is also a principal member as he's been lending his voice since the inception of their first recording Temporary Psychotic State. Although Kjetil Nordhus (Green Carnation) has taken over most of the clean vocal duties this time around Paul is still available to provide his adept death-growls and also some clean parts during the harmonized sections.

The middle-eastern salvo of the opener "Early Morning Mantra" is just a glimpse of what's ahead in this sublime excursion to The Great Bazaar. By the time you reach the jazzy climax of the track after a palette of tastefully incorporated styles you'll realize that it's every bit of worth the ten years wait. Next in line, "Reliving the Feeling" drips with catchy tempos and invigorating grooves which leads to the wah-laden bridge and peaks with an orgasmic outro. The bittersweet melancholy of "Blanket of Longing" sharply contrasts with the overall uplifting vibe of the first-half. The oriental panache and the heavier metallic edge returns with the penultimate track "Specter". The grand closure "Father
and Son" (featuring guest vocals from Orphaned Land frontman Kobi Farhi)  reinstates the fact that Sub-Masq is back with a major statement.

The Great Bazaar is driven by free-flowing hooks and cohesive songwriting yet minutely complex enough for prog-rock/metal fans. From Rush, Genesis to King's X, Anathema and even Mastodon, each and every fan of the aforementioned acts will be highly satisfied with this record. And for me it's already a strong contender for album of the year category.

Rating - ★★★★1/2 (95% on Metal-Archives)