Review

Music Review: Food Metal – Food Metal

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Genre: Food Metal
Label: Independent 

Alum, sodium, zinc, etc… I get plenty of metal in my food. Now if I can just manage to get some food in my metal… wait, what? Native Californian and sometimes New Zealander James Perry?! Why are you putting your guitar in the oven? Ohhhhhhh…

Food Metal apparently started off as an exercise in song writing and snowballed into a legitimate project (think Tim Lambesis’s Austrian Death Machine only with no celebrity impersonations and less attempted uxoricide). This self-titled offering is a savory selection of songs that blend hard rock, metal, gastronomy and humor together to make an album that’s not heavy on calories, but heavy where it counts.

Mr. Perry borrows from a multitude of subgenres before butchering them, marinating them in his own distinct style, broiling them and finally serving them up on Food Metal‘s sonic smorgasbord. “Fries” takes bit of a slower paced thrash approach (“For Whom the Bell Tolls”), while “Pass The Beets” finds James in more familiar territory (for me at least) with a slower, more melodic (almost poppy) tune. But, in terms of balls out headbanging, the cake surely goes to “Where the Hell is My Food”. James’s vocals, dirty rollin’ riffs and lines about being pissed off about shitty customer service fit perfectly together here.

My only complaint here is that I felt a bit like Oliver Twist towards the end. “Please Sir, may I have some more?” (Ok, not an apt comparison since James would gladly give an orphan all the metal he/she could handle and I’m a fully grown ragamuffin.) I guess I should ask him if he plans on serving seconds in our forthcoming interview?

Food Metal Site
Food Metal Facebook

Music Review: Shark Infested Daughters – These Tides, Our Tombs

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Genre: Metalcore
Label: Independent

Shark Infested Daughters is a local abnormality making waves in their hometown of Calgary, Alberta. They are one of the few local bands who manage to garner as many rabid haters as devoted fans. When expressing dislike for the band, people rarely make mention if it’s the music they dislike, or if they think the members are pricks; the subjectivity of music is ignored, it’s just straight up, fuck that band.

I assume these people haven’t listened to SID since they released Reflections of the Dead (EP) in 2013, which is a unfortunate mess of unrefined vocals, misplaced guitar solos and heavy does of egregious synth abuse. SID has definitely come a long way in 3 years. Their latest release, These Tides, Our Tombs shows a far more mature sound with a multi-dimensional feel where most metalcore tends to fall flat and become monotonous. One of the most appreciated enhancements is less dramatic use of keyboards and the clean vocals taking a far more prominent role, providing a soothing break from the chaotic harsh vocals. Sticking with the typical metalcore format, the riffs are fast and heavy with more aggression and less emotion than previous releases. We are given an album that shows dedication to improvement, complete with creative, progressive riffs, intricate melodies and a cohesion not typically found in the ‘core’ genres.

Keeping in mind that this is metalcore, the album is pretty close to flawless, managing to seamlessly blend perspicacious lyrics on top of a formidable metal sound, compiled together with expert production. This is an album that has the originally to break down genre walls and create a truly diverse and dedicated fan base. A revised sound that maintains the positive elements of past releases that veteran fans know and love, compounded with enough creativity to attract a plethora of new listeners. It’s rare to find such a definitive offering from an unsigned local band, that I’d consider a shining example of everything that can go right with underground original music. If haters are a sign of success, then SID deserves them. If they have improved this much in 3 years, I’m personally very interested in seeing what washes up on shore in the next 3.

Favorite track – Hitokiri

Shark Infested Daughters embarks on a western Canadian tour starting Nov 3. You can find music and merch over on Bandcamp.

Music Review: Insomnium – Winter’s Gate

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Genre: Melodic Death
Label: Century Media

Never to be a band that rushes releases, we have seen a new album from Insomnium every couple years, with each release surpassing the former in ingenuity, most recently Shadows of the Dying Sun in 2014. This was an absolute masterpiece and instantly became my favorite album of the year, and my quintessential melodic death metal album. To follow a piece of art like that is not a small undertaking, and many bands falter after producing several albums. Following an album I considered to be perfect, I was hesitant to see if Insomnium would be able to keep going with the creativity and maintain the standard they had set. Enter Winter’s Gate, the 7th full length from the Finnish quartet, an innovate concept album that pushes the band in to a format completely new to them.

It’s not uncommon for bands to try different formats to grow their fan base but the rate of failure is depressingly high. An inability to  effectively deviate from the proven formula alienate many bands from their long time fans. Refreshingly, that’s not the case for this album, with its tale of ‘a group of Vikings setting out to find a fabled island west of Ireland, despite the treacherous winter drawing near’. Even with the new layout it remains very reminiscent of previous Insomnium albums, from speeding riffs to the gritty comforting cleans that explode into powerful dominating harsh vocals that manage to remain articulate.

As Insomnium does expertly, you get to the part where the speed and ferocity make you want to bang your head and scream along, and then the switch is flipped and a wave of calm eases you into a slower spoken bit. A slow, generous serenade, like the sun rising and hitting the morning dew, a melodic chorus paired with acoustic strumming that paint a serene picture of the utopia that the Vikings seek, gradually speeding up, thrusting you back into the characteristic death metal intensity. This album is seductive, plain and simple. From the intro to the outro, it is 40 minutes of cheek flushing, skin tingling, orgasmic beauty. Few melodic death bands manage to glide so effortlessly between  the gentle caress of the ballad and the fervent rush of thunderous drums and incredible guitar solos that just the right length, they never seem to end too soon or go on to become a hindrance. Over the course of 34 minutes you are taken on a roller coaster of emotions, following the group of Vikings on their epic sojourn. Your heart rate increases to match the drumming, an intense climax ensues during the finale of the story, after which the pacifying sounds of rain, acoustic guitars and piano lulls you to in a calm, but you’re still shivering and shaking from the euphoria. You could say I liked it.

Music Review: Shadecrown – Agonia

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Genre: Melancholic Melodic Death Metal
Label: Inverse Records

Churning out the largest number of metal bands per capita means lots of potential pouring out of Finland these days, including Shadecrown’s Agonia. They are off to a great start with this album, even though some of the elements don’t jive the best with each other. The contrast between the vocals is stark, with the growls tending to sound a little on the forced side and grating at times. When there is a break from vocals, like the beginning of “Eremohbia”, and the spotlight is only on the musicianship and the writing, you can see where Shadecrown really excels. It’s nothing complicated, nothing that breaks the mold of traditional melodic death, but it’s well done and well thought out. They have furthered subgenrefied themselves, by adding ‘melancholic’ and justly so, feeling of gloom is definitely present throughout each of the 10 songs. The sporadic use of clean vocals adds a nice touch without going overboard, although the auditory break from the raw vocals is appreciated. The main downfall is that Shadecrown lacks a bit in consistency, some songs are a great example of melodic death such as “The Ruins of Me”; a heavy, powerful track where the vocals aren’t too strained and there is a wicked guitar solo to round it out. Some of the songs, including “Walk Through Hell” and “Silent Hours” have more of a hard rock feel, bordering on thrash with a huge Iced Earth influence. While not to say it’s awful or poorly executed, I just don’t particularly like it. I thoroughly enjoy the piano and acoustic bits, especially on “Led Astray” but the vocals are too inconsistent in pattern and rhythm.

This a fairly strong debut album, I will give it that. Shadecrown has some refining to do and need to perfect their individual sound a bit more, but they are definitely on the right track.

Favorite Track: “Led Astray”

Music Review: Norselaw – Serpent in the Circling Sea

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Genre: Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Fucking Metal
Label: Independent

Man, who would have thought that buying an album based entirely on pity would yield such positive results? Allow me to explain:

Norselaw himself apparently had a dispute with his then employer that ended with his (in my opinion, wrongful) termination. Having only recently lost my job due to similar but completely different circumstances, I decide to toss my fellow warrior a bone and bought one of his albums. He suggested Serpent in the Circling Sea as it would play to my tastes… how this metal marauder knew such a thing is still a mystery to me, but goddamn, was he ever right!

Serpent in the Circling Sea features a plethora of headbanging highlights from beginning to end. Norselaw’s mastery of the art of the shred, for one. Where on Earth did this guy learn to wield a guitar in such a manner? My guess is he transferred whatever skills he learned as an axe swinging viking from hundreds of years ago to his new modern day “axe”. Or at the very least, he’s The Doof Warrior from Mad Max… hmmm…

Up next on the docket, we have the vocals. Let’s get the clean vocals out of the way; they’re rough. Not bad by a long shot, but they could definitely use some refining. As for his bellowing, fuck man, if he shouted at me to, “Get out of the way,” in that tone, I’d be in the next state over before he could finish his command. Motherfucker is scary.

Have I mention lyrical content yet? Norselaw pulls his imagery from everyday political strife (“fat blue line guarded by swiiiiine!”), to Conan The Barbarian to H.P. fucking Lovecraft. And speaking of Lovecraft, “Fungi From Yuggoth” is one of the best tracks on the album, not only due to the ever-presence of the Old Ones, but because of Jamie Lannister’s energetic drumming. Guy lets his fucking hair down and says, “fuck your ability to ever hear anything ever again!” and proceeds to rupture the eardrums of anyone within range in a berserk barrage of percussive power!

If you walk away from this review and can only manage to remember one thing, make it this: Norselaw is law. These guys fucking rule!

Live Review: Necronomicon with Vesperia, Abiotic, and Tales of the Tomb

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When: August 17, 2016
Where: Brixx

Oh man. It’s taken me awhile to get to type this up, but I really had to get these thoughts onto screen. This was a big night for me, a show that was more of a collection of bands that I really like in one room.

First up on the stage was a band that needs no introduction in Edmonton. One of the fastest rising bands this city has is Tales of the Tomb, a death metal band obsessed with serial killers. The Snowtown murders, Pickton and his farm, and 9/11 are just some of the topics that they tackle. This set was one of the best I’ve seen from them, and I’ve seen them a lot! Just this year alone I think I’ve seen them seven times or so. Not a band to miss in a live setting, and that’s agreed upon even by Rob from Necronomicon, who thanked Tales and said they were one of the best opening bands he’s had for the tour.

Second up was Miami, Florida’s Abiotic, who broke up shortly after this tour. This was my second time seeing them live, the first being with a different singer as they toured with Dying Fetus. This set was better than the last time, but there was some problems at the beginning of the set that caught my ear and almost made me dismiss them. The sound was just… quiet. There was nothing there. During the second song, however, the sound tech found where he wanted the band and everything went from somewhat flat to a wonderfully dynamic and fucking loud volume. Seriously excellent shredders on all instruments, but Travis Bartosek on vocals stole the show for me. If you’re one of those people who film with your cell phones though, I warn you: he’ll take it out of your hand and do some filming for you, giving you a phone video you won’t soon delete. It’s unfortunate that they split because I honestly could tell there was an amazing future ahead for this band if they did one more album. It’s the curse of being underrated and not quite getting the big push they should have gotten.

Third up was Vesperia, from Ontario. They all have a small-town attitude but hail from the big city of Toronto, so it’s always a treat to see these guys on a stage. Imagine Amon Amarth but from Canada, and you’re kind of in the right territory. Not so much a Viking metal sound, but a death metal with symphonic elements and a huge feel. They are truly an epic band to behold. The vocalist, Morgan Rider, has such an expressive voice with a large range. Sometimes they even get clean in the vocals, and this is where Vesperia shine for me. As I said, Morgan has a large range, and his cleans are the stuff legends are made of. It would never surprise me if they got picked up by Napalm or Nuclear Blast. In fact, it would surprise me if they didn’t. For those that might be thinking the name is familiar, it is probably because they won the Wacken Metal Battles in Canada, and played at Wacken as a result, winning the world-wide Battles.

Finally, the band that everyone came to see, the legendary Necronomicon took the stage. This is a band that has perplexed the death metal world since their Morbid Ritual demo in 1992. They sounded like Behemoth do now, back when Behemoth were still worshiping Norwegian black metal. Symphonic death metal, with black metal influences and overtones, this power trio is a true force to reckon with on a stage and on record. And since 1988, when Rob the Witch founded the band, they have been completely underrated because no one knew what the fuck they were watching and listening to. Yes, this is death metal. Yes, there’s pretty sounding and ominous keyboards in it. Yes, there’s songs with 100% black metal lyrics in them. No, this doesn’t really make sense, but fuck making sense, man! Sit back and enjoy just how huge these three dudes sound and look on a stage. Rob stole the stage from Brixx, he took it, he made it his and he owned it. Simply put, this band is one of Canada’s best, and we seem to take them for granted on our soil. The fans in the USA and Europe seem to understand them a little bit more, perhaps, because that is where their biggest successes are. But ultimately, they are just three dudes from Quebec making the noise they want to make. And goddamn they are good at it. If you missed out on this tour, you missed out big.

Crown of Viserys on Patreon

Music Review: Abjection Ritual – Futility Rites

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Genre: Dark Ambient, Nightmare Fuel
Label: Malignant Records

Do you want to have an awful night? If so, listen to Abjection Ritual’sFutility Rites‘ while you’re alone. My night went from me being bored beyond belief to the point of going, “Man, it’s been so long since I wrote a review, I should dust off the ol’ ‘In’ pile and see who I owe muchas disculpas to,” to jumping at every sound in the apartment that, before listening to ‘Futility Rites‘, I could identify as the refrigerator, the cat, the other cat and the stupid pipe that rattles under the floor whenever someone in our apartment row flushes their toilet…

After having my optimism obliterated, my self-esteem shish-kababed and my dreams dashed on the sonic rocks laid out by Abjection Ritual (three tracks in, which has got to be some kind of spirit breaking speed record), the malnourished nihilist side of me began to dig for scraps. It was hungry. It wanted more ‘Futility Rites‘. It had to dig past a unpleasant layer or two before it could feast, however.

It’s mostly just the vocals. They were great at shaking me up a bit when I first encountered them (my notes read “Raw. Fucking. Hatred.”), but they began to wear on me as the album progressed. I enjoyed the occasional soundbite from the odd televangelist (and the heart attack from “Objects of Wrath”) as well as the tonal respite that came with “Cum Immersion”, probably the least threatening, though still unnerving track offered.

If I haven’t made this clear yet, allow me to be blunt; this album is the very definition of intensity. To listen is to jump head first into the deep end of the derelict, dark ambient/death ambient pool. But in the end, if you have the emotional and mental fortitude, the “Entropic Embrace” of “Futility Rites” will welcome you into the “Tabernacle of Teeth and Tongues”…

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