December 2018 Reviews

Monthly reviews was one of this blog’s sections that we did not succeed to consistently update this year. Being too busy with our daily jobs on one hand and not wanting to just superficially listen and review on the other, were the key factors behind this. One of our promises for the coming year however, is that we will dedicate more time and effort in posting under this section with a monthly frequency.

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate - Out Of Mind

It was approximately one year ago when we presented here in this blog the previous release of Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate, the wonderful Broken But Still Standing so when we received the promo for their fourth upcoming album Out of Mind we were delightednot only because the band “remembered” to include our blog in their reviewers list but also because we were given the opportunity to listen to one more excellent offering from this London based group.

One significant difference that I have immediately spotted upon reading the album credits is that the main line-up is now only consisting of the founder Malcolm Galloway (who also carries the production tasks) plus Mark Gatland, while other musicians like the flutist Kathryn Thomas are only mentioned as guest musicians. Interesting fact and maybe can explain some of the impressions that I got while listening to the album.

Out of Mind is conceptually inspired by Memory and musically is again very diverse combining progressive and classic rock with electronica, metal, jazz, funk, classic music and even experimental and ambient/minimalist influences. Compared with its predecessor, I would say that it is more hypotonic and atmospheric having less upbeat songs (one of them is Stand Up) however it does not lack prog gems like I Miss the stars (Pink Floy would be jealous of such song) or Losing Myself. One thing that I can for sure say is that Out of Mind is more “robust” than Broken But Still Standing as the compositionsare less “verbalistic” and more substantial. Maybe this is the outcome of the line-up “reduction” and having less people maintaining the artistic and creativity “control”? We can only make assumptions here but I have to say that the final result works very well as in my opinion progressive does not necessarily means complex…

Closing this review, I want to make a special mention of the last song Lidice which is dedicated in preserving the memory of one of the most horrible crimes of the second world war. Lidice was the name of a Czech mining village destroyed by the Nazis, murdering 88 children and 252 adults. Nazis wanted the village to be wiped from history but a group of coal miners in a mining village in Staffordshire, led by their local doctor, Barnett Stross, set up the organisation Lidice Shall Live. The community donated a day's wage each week to fund the rebuilding of the village after the war. Hitler wanted the name Lidice to be forgotten - but he failed. The song is dedicated to the memory of all those who have been killed because of their origins, and all those who stood in solidarity.

Out of Mind is out as a physical CD on 25 January 2019 and is an excellent recommendation for every progressive rock fan.

Album Rating : 8.5 out of 10

Ø L T E N - Ambiance

ØLTEN describe themselves as a band from the Watch Valley in Switzerland who plays an instrumental post-porn-sluge tuned at the lowest by the Devil himself, formed by three musicians who like beards, checked shirts, vintage amps and Werner Gunthor. In their Bandcamppage they use tags such as :

experimental, russian circles, cult of luna, instrumental, instrumental post-metal, instrumental rock, post rock, post-metal, progressive rock, sludge, sludge metal …

…and well…I could stop writing this review just right here as I think that the reader has already enough hints to get an idea about Ø L T E N however I will continue by adding that their sound is more heavy rather than post and that their songs have very interesting ideas with great development (Klark, Lied, Gover, Sludge which despite the title has one of the most shivery atmospheric climaxes I have recently heard) and they are by no means copycats as someone could have easily (and wrongly) assumed.

Album Rating : 8 out of 10

Emilie Zoé - The Very Start

Emilie Zoé is another artist who has been presented here in this blog in the past and her second album The Very Start is equally beautiful as her first, the 2016 Dead End Tape. Maintaining the same lo-fi, acoustic and melancholic character (with the exception of The Barren Land), The Very Start is according to its creator words “a touching brew of intimate melodies and narrative lyrics, carefully infused in a moving sonic space that enlights even the smallest accidents that happened in the room these songs were (re)born in.”

Personal favourite song is Would You Still Be There which I will for sure include in one of my future mixtapes next to some Chelsea Wolfe, Anna Von Hausswolff, Marisa Nadler and Emma Ruth Rundle tunes…

Album Rating : 8 out of 10

Into Eternity - The Sirens

Into Eternity return back from a 10 year hiatus having in their ranks a new singer, Amanda Kiernan, after Stu Block has decided to permanently settle with Iced Earth. The Sirens is an excellent album of ferocious and melodic Death metal with the vocals and the guitar playing kept in high standards but unfortunately it suffers from the weak production which has “put” the drums annoyingly higher in the mix. Sad, as I think that The Sirens is by far better than anything that Arch Enemy have released in the recent years…

Album Rating : 8 out of 10

Sven Gali - Kill the Lies (single)

Sven Gali were a 90’s Hard Rock band who decided with their second album (the 1995 Inwire) to make a “jump” into the Grunge bandwagon. As you may understand this had not the desired results, keeping them into obscurity until now when they attempt a return with their new single named Kill the Lies. The 2 songs of the single are similar pieces of modern melodic heavy rock incorporating elements of industrial and nu metal referencing bands like Disturbed or John Corabi-era Mötley Crüe.

Album Rating : 7,5 out of 10

Single Bullet Theory - Divine Ways of Chaos

Single Bullet Theory are another band from this month’s reviews that try to make a return after a lengthy and tumultuous period which saw lineup changes and serious health conditions eventually delaying all the band’s plans for an upcoming release. Divine Ways of Chaos is their first full-length album that is released independently and under their complete control targeting to put them back on the map of modern metal.

Single Bullet Theory play groovy metal with death metal vocals and razor sharp guitar riffs reminding bands from the late 90’s - early 2000’s period like Konkhra, Strapping Young Lad and most prominently Fear Factory. I have the feeling that for some people that sound and such an album has arrived maybe some years too late but the difficulties that the band has faced to reach here somehow justify this “delay” and for sure allow us to give an objective listen and grading to Divine Ways of Chaos.

Album Rating : 8 out of 10

In the Woods - Cease the Day

Reading the press release that accompanies Cease the Day we are presented with the following description about the album:

Chilling ambience, psychedelia, avant-garde, and deep soaring vocals ebb and flow to craft a unique sound that truly must be heard to be believed, all before crushing the listener with the band’s most extreme moments since their debut 'Heart of the Age'.

and truth is that the melancholic prog of In the Woods is very endoscopic with several black metal outbursts containing some very interesting and melodic parts and riffs (Substance Vortex, Cloud Seeder, Strike Up with the Dawn - album’s best song) however at the same moment (and this is where the problem with the album is) it sounds repetitive and “loose”. In my opinion had the songs been shorter and more diverse, Cease the Day would have taken a higher grading.

Album Rating : 7.5 out of 10

ASCARIS - The Raised Hand

Wow !!! The debut L.P. by UK Black Death group Ascaris is a solid case of relentless brutality !!! Starting in 2012, having released back in 2014 an E.P. named Initiation and having toured and played with bands such as French SVART CROWN, Swedish DIABOLICAL, CODEX ALIMENTARIUS , SCORDATURA or heavyweights like FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE and DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT, Ascaris havebeenpreparing long enough before unleashing their masterpiece The Raised Hand. Hyper-speed drumming, absolutely no atmospheric parts, only pure extremism and brutality while maintaining highly skilled techniques and intelligent guitar riffs in 8 songs that never slow down.

Album Rating : 9 out of 10

Metasoma - Chapter II

Metasoma are a UK band and in this E.P., they play modern american-style metal having as main reference bands like Disturbed. Not very original but imho their effort is still much better than the latest attempt of Disturbed. The E.P. contains a cover version of Nirvana’s Come As You Are which sounds quite well adjusted to their style but I would prefer if they had included one more of their original tracks instead.

Album Rating : 7.5 out of 10

Shyly Virus - The First Rule of Blight Club is…

The First Rule of Blight Club is… is a 3 song E.P. by the industrial band Shyly Virus. If we exclude the first song Flesh and Wires, which is actually an intro, the other 2 tracks showcase a variety in their styles with D.W.E.L.L. containing more electronic and noise elements which in the absence of any rhythmical background or melody create a claustrophobic atmosphere and KOMINO GHOUL on the contrary being a track that you can almost dance to, bringing to mind Prodigy. Clearly not my favourite style of music but I have to admit that Shyly Virus are good at what they do.

Album Rating : 7.5 out of 10