Monday, 21 November 2011

E.P. Review: Cynic - Carbon-Based Anatomy

Review by Glen Lester

Cynic have proven to be a hard band to fit within a single genre, ever since their debut album 'Focus' in 1993. After the release of 'Focus', Cynic became a major cult band and created a landmark sound within Progressive Metal - utilizing technical musicianship with Death Metal vocals and a strong Jazz influence, akin to their musical peers - Atheist. 

Fast forward almost 20 years and having only released one other album which marked the bands return in 2008 with 'Traced in Air', Cynic this time show signs that there won't be another long absence and are here to stay. 

So how do you follow up two critically acclaimed masterpieces?  

Carbon-Based Anatomy is the bands latest offering which comes in the form of a 6-track E.P. Why the band have chosen to do an E.P. over an album seems to have been to keep up the bands nature of quality over quantity, and not wanting fans to wait so long between albums. 

The E.P showcases a newer sound for the band, that moves away more from their Metal sound, as there are no growls here like the older material from 'Focus'. Instead, we are treated to the hauntingly atmospheric clean vocals from lead singer and guitarist Paul Masvidal. The direction seems to be one of progression rather than reliving past glory's and this release features a more progressive rock vibe, conjuring moods akin to such bands as Porcupine Tree. 

Highlights of this E.P. include the sublime musicianship on show, that any fan of Cynic from past or present will be impressed with; and coupled with the newer elements of the bands sound which showcase world music and ambient atmospherics, all make this release a unique and beautiful listening experience. The production on this E.P. is also noteworthy and is best to listen to on headphones to emmerse yourself in the atmosphere that's layered from every direction. 

It's rumoured that Cynic will have a full album released next year, but in the meantime this will be more than enough the wet the appetite of fans! 

Score: 8/10

Friday, 21 October 2011

Review (Unsigned): Otis Reaper

Otis Reaper

Jay Murchison (Vocals)
Ben Price (Guitar)
Madison Clifton (Bass)
Cres Murchison (Drums)

Jackson, US


You'll like this if you like:

Current Release:
Self-titled EP is now available on their Facebook via Heavy Voltage Records.

It is clear that many bands (particularly on the underground circuit) are yearning for the musical days of yore. Where attitude and enthusiasm mattered more than polished production, where fans flocked to underground live shows in someone’s awful, sweat and rat infested basement to go mad to the latest disgusting sounds. Those days are largely behind us now, but some bands are dedicated to bring that old school sound right back at us!

Otis Reaper is such a band, and despite songs that largely sound very similar to one another, their attitude is unmistakable. The guttural vocals of Jay Murchison are evocative of the old school black metal era, which collide with the sludgy, doom-tinged guitars and bass ala Kylesa. The resultant sound is an unusual and intriguing collision of the old school black metal and the modern sludge movement. Despite my earlier comments about over production, the mix does sound quiet and the drums a tad muddy. Despite this, Otis Reaper have concocted an interesting sound which is definitely worth a listen (or two).

Rating: 3/5


Review (Unsigned): Killed The Fixtion

Killed The Fixtion

Nelson Ceron (Vocals)
Kevin Izquierdo (Guitars)
Robert Asencio (Bass)
Abbad Ibn Townsend (Drums)

New Jersey, US

Heavy Metal/Hardcore

You'll like this if you like:

Current Release:
Their latest single 'Pulse' is now available to download on their Facebook

Their latest single ‘Pulse’ is now available to download on their Facebook
One of the great draws of heavy metal is, of course, the unique and uncompromising music. But metal is also a band of brothers who all share a common interest: METAL!! As a result of this, metallers find a combined sense of identity and a way of escaping any negative aspects of their own lives. So you feel you’re not alone, that you have millions of companions who have your back. This is very much true for New Jersey brothers-in-arms Killed The Fixtion. Stating that members were involved with gangs in their youths, Killed The Fixition’s mission is bring a sense of fun and positivity into our otherwise dull and sometimes depressing lives.

Such honesty is refreshing, and their music does exactly what their mission statement suggests. It is clear that, whilst their music is by no mean ground-breaking, these guys are having a blast with the music they’re creating. Release an aggressive three song demo in 2010, KTF (impressively) went on to support modern thrash metal titans Evile. The demo itself is an impressive collection of feel-good, hard-hitting and uncompromising thrash-laden tunes. Their latest single ‘Pulse’ has a sludge feel about it. The vocals are reminiscent of a ‘Black Album’-era James Hetfield; with the bass heavy elements make your brain shake in your skull. Yes, the sound is stuff we’ve heard before and won’t be breaking new ground, but should that matter? Each member loves what they do, and they’re having a fucking good time.

Rating: 3/5

Website: (Where you can listen to their excellent new single ‘Pulse’)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Review (Unsigned): Sacrilegious Throne

Sacrilegious Throne

Awrath (Vocals)
Horkos (Guitar and Bass)
Drums recorded by John Watt (October File)

East Anglia, UK

Symphonic Black Metal

You'll like this if you like:
Dimmu Borgir

Current Release:
'Acts of Apostasy' is out NOW!

Black metal was a genre mainly confined to our Scandinavian counterparts; they seemed the only race capable of producing the cold and unrelenting sound that would make even Lucifer quake in his boots. However, bands like Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir have spawned an unholy bastard in the shape of the UK’s very own blackened tyrants Sacrilegious Throne. If you want to know what the apocalypse feels like, then you’re in luck because that’s exactly what their debut release ‘Acts of Apostasy’ feels like.

It is the sheer grandiose and over-the-top production that first strikes the ear. The unrelenting and abusive wall of noise conjures a disturbing and uncomfortable atmosphere, the likes of which Dimmu Borgir and co can only dream of. ‘Spreading the Swam’ and ‘Creating Eternal Darkness’ are the strongest songs on the album, spawn both fear and cruelty from within. Possibly the most refreshing aspect of this band is that they have not relied on corpsepaint and the devil to sell they sound as a black metal outfit. It is the music that does all the talking, rather than the aesthetics. It is what the sound summons in the imagination that is the most disturbing characteristic of this band. One can only imagine what devilish styling’s these guys would showcase in a live setting. This band needs to be heard to be believed.

Rating: 5/5


Sunday, 16 October 2011

Review (Unsigned): Cast Iron Crow

Cast Iron Crow

Jake Navarra
Sam Gouveia
Ryan Long
Joseph Evans


Grunge/Psychedelic Rock

You'll like this if you like:
Alice in Chains

Current Release:
'First Edition' will be available on on the 8th November

Grunge was a sound largely restricted to the 90’s (with a few obvious exceptions) and many would argue that the genre died when Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain decided to re-decorate his walls in 1994. Despite many a metal head declaring grunge the ‘metal killer’ of the 90’s, it would be foolish to assume that none of these bands have an influence on the generation of alternative musicians of today.

Cast Iron Crow hail from the sunny shores of California, an unlikely place for the depressing, downbeat stylings of grunge you might think? Err, well no is the short answer. With a nostalgic sound akin to the face melting rifts of a ‘Facelift’ era Alice in Chains, Cast Iron Crow also bring grunge bang up to date. Vocalist Jake Navarra has a style reminiscent of the late, great Layne Staley whilst still having a great range which makes CIC’s sound unique and intriguing. The strongest song by far is the excellent ‘Mindlapse’, which despite being fundamentally grunge has a psychedelic edge which is a delight to the ears. The fantastically rift-laden tone of ‘Beyond the Brain’ has a slightly Black Sabbath-esc edge to it, giving an unusual, but unique sound into the picture. ‘Brother’ and ‘People of Clay’ are examples of a  band who, despite their youth and lack of experience, are competent song writers who obviously have a love and passion for their music. Listening to Cast Iron Crow transports you back to a time where grunge and alternative music dominated the airwaves and where experimentation was encouraged (not frowned upon). This is an impressively professional, talented and unique band that i for one can’t wait to hear more of in the future!

Rating: 4/5


Check out the video for their first single ‘Mindlapse’:

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Album Review: Pain of Salvation - Road Salt 2

Pain of Salvation are a band that have been very influential to Progressive Rock & Metal musicians, whilst also at the same time have been widely overlooked to audiences from either genre.

Pain of Salvation are a band that like to take chances on their audience stylistically, although most of the band's albums stay away from long songs which is a typical trademark for Progressive Rock. Pain of Salvation have always been acknowledged as a Progressive Metal band and yet on this dual-part album 'Road Salt', the band have gone down a more accessible Classic Rock route.

The main difference between 'Road Salt 1' & 'Road Salt 2' is that, 'Road Salt 2' has a slightly darker sound that also shows some reflections from earlier albums, which to fans having disliked 'Part 1' for the change in style, will warm to 'Part 2' more.

Pain of Salvation have always been a band to strongly focus on a lyrical direction and the words and the message of the band are as important as the music. 'Road Salt 2' is no exception and here vocalist Daniel Gildenlow has dubbed the 'Road Salt' albums a pseudo-concept, that aren't portraying a typical story but are instead loosely based around the notion of making tough decisions. 'Road Salt Part 1' is about asking the questions and 'Road Salt Part 2' is attempting to answer those questions.

Daniel Gildenlow is the true star of Pain of Salvation and he could well be one of the most emotive vocalists around in rock and metal today. Gildenlow always challenges you with meaningful ideas on 'Road Salt' and each song conveys a great depth of emotion and soulfulness. The only downside to this album or the Road Salt duality is that there seems to be some of the progressive magic missing from past albums.

You can catch Pain of Salvation on tour with Opeth this November!

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Album Review: Mastodon - The Hunter

From Mastodon's early albums of raw sludge riffs to the musical shift on their last album 'Crack the Skye'; which included progressive rock and psychedelic tendencies, the question on many people lips were where could Mastodon go next?

'The Hunter' is Mastodon's fifth album and after success of being one of metal's finest acts of late; especially playing high up on the bill for such festivals as Sonisphere, Mastodon have been noted as of the best live metal acts around have created a fairly large and loyal fan base. 

It's arguable that 'The Hunter' could be the most anticipated release of the year for many metal fans. After Mastodon's last album 'Crack the Skye' divided fans that were perhaps more used to their sludge riffs on early records, it was hard to deny that 'Crack the Skye' was a bold move and made Mastodon not just an ordinary metal band, but a band that could constantly shift your perception of who they are. 'Crack the Skye', however different it may have been from previous releases, still had key elements that were instantly recognisable as a "Mastodon sound". 

'The Hunter' however, couldn't be further from 'Crack the Skye' or any other album that Mastodon have released, and have yet created another shift and turn within their sound. You wouldn't be too wrong to assume that 'The Hunter' is like a balance between their early sound and their last album 'Crack the Skye', except you would be missing something. 

It's apparent that with 'The Hunter', there's a few songs that would be hard to classify as a typical Mastodon song or sound. Song's such as 'The Octopus has no Friends', 'Stargasm' or 'Dry Bone Valley' sound completely out of kilter for what the band have been known for. Songs such as the recent single 'Curl of the Burl' or 'Blasteroid', are a more accessible sound from the band, but is in no means a typical accessibility. Some fans may find this hard to swallow at first but on repeated listens, the catchy hooks, riffs and melodies will be hard to turn away from. 

The real star of this album musically has to go to Bran Dailor, whose drumming is phenomenal and really drives and accentuates the songs in a musical way that hasn't been heard from a band like this in a long time. Bran Dailor paid homage on the last album 'Crack the Skye' to his sister who had committed suicide and it seems as if the emotional journey hasn't stopped with 'The Hunter'. This time the new album is dedicated to Brent Hinds brother who unexpectedly died from a heart attack whilst hunting. 

The musical styles on 'The Hunter' constantly shift and challenge your awareness of what you thought a genre could be, pushed beyond it's limits. The band combine certain sounds that I doubt have ever been atomically combined on any album before. There's a whole sound world here to be discovered and you may have to pinch yourself to what you are hearing at times. 

'The Hunter' could well be Mastodon's best album to date and I guess only time will tell. Mastodon show us that they are one of the most forward thinking bands in recent years and certainly aren't holding back, but are pushing forward with every release. I'm sure this album will be one of the most talked about albums of the year and I will be surprised if it doesn't reach most people's favourite album of the year lists. 

Mastodon's 'The Hunter' has to be heard to be believed! 

'The Hunter' is out now!

Rating: 10/10