ANUBIS RISING – Funerary Preamble

ANUBIS RISING
Funerary Preamble
(Uncouth Recordings)
The first sentence on the accompanying press sheet here is: “Anubis Rising is dead.” My immediate thought was ‘why should I bother with this then?’  However, I read on to discover that this label, Uncouth Industries is simply re-releasing some music that they feel is special and are unwilling to totally let go of. They are hoping to still spread the word and promote this band, despite the fact that they are no longer active in the metal scene.
Anubis Rising was formed in 1999 in Los Angeles, California. Their influences stem from bands such as Neurosis, Isis, and Amebix. While they played throughout various cities/towns in their home state, the live impact of this band never reached any further. Why Anubis Rising has thrown in the towel; no explanation is offered.
Funerary Preamble has 11 tracks altogether, although only 10 tracks are named. The first 4 songs, “Funerary Preamble,” “Firmamentum, “Rumsprigan Segue,” and “Pleasure to Burn” are from the 2004 Funerary Preamble EP, the next three songs, “Personification of Time,” “Extinguishing Fire in its Season,” and “Crook and Flail” stem from the 2002 Scales of Truth EP, then the last three songs, “Infinite Self-Perpetuation,” “Wander in the Shadow-Realm,” and “Atrocious Sorridness” stem from the 2001 Uphill Battle Split. Finally, the 11th and untitled track claims only that it was previously unreleased and originally recorded and written by Eyehategod.
The only members that seem to be consistently listed are vocalist/guitarist Sacha Dunable and drummer, Alex Bytnar.
The opening track, which is also the title track, has some dreary, sludgy and almost spacey music. The recording is raw but not crappy. Raging harsh vocals of a black metal style (but not screechy like COF or similar bands) claw to the fore adding a strange but not unappealing contrast to the slower music. Some harmonizing cleaner vocals appear in the middle with music that sounds like late 60’s/early 70’s space rock.
The next track, “Firmamentum,” boasts deeper, more guttural vocals that are half whisper-half growling on top of more despairing heavy music.
“Rumsprigan Segue” is a doomy instrumental akin to early Black Sabbath (at first anyway).
“Pleasure to Burn” starts with a drum intro followed by more heavy but spacey 70’s music and black metal vocals. Some of this music can honestly bring to mind afros and bell bottoms. I swear that although it’s weird, it’s kind of cool too. (Break out the black lights! This is extreme/doom metal you can almost relax to!)
The three songs from the Scales of Truth EP feature vocals that are rawer, more blatant black/death. While the music is still doomy and heavy, the 70’s space rock sound isn’t as prominent here (at least not until track # 7, “Crook and Flail.”) These tracks have an overall more heavy metal sound with some livelier thrash riffs.
The rest of this CD carries on in a pretty consistent fashion, including the ever-present dismal acoustic guitar passages.
A melancholy bass solo leads into “Atrocious Sorridness,” giving me that old Black Sabbath-y feeling again. It is 4 minutes into the song before the vocals even begin. Once again, mostly bm/dm style. Thrashy death metal elements make this ultimately one of the heaviest tracks on this entire CD.
Dismal is the best word to describe the music of Anubis Rising, laden with some heavy doom-filled riffs. On top of all this, there are lyrics like some dark and occasionally morbid beatnik poetry. Very interesting stuff. I can almost imagine the dark smoke-filled room of the club while the band performs their unique concoction of 70’s space rock meets extreme and doom metal.

In conclusion, I tend to agree with those at Uncouth Industries. It is actually a shame that Anubis Rising no longer exists. Although this isn’t something I could listen to often as it just isn’t my general taste, it did capture my attention in a more positive way than I expected it to. Judging by this release, Anubis Rising certainly seemed to have something all its own going on.
For more info, contact Uncouth Industries at: P.O. Box 7547 Santa Maria, CA. 93456 U.S.A. and/or http://www.uncouth-industries.com. You can also contact the band at: Thesachanator@aol.com.
(Lisa R. Rosner)

AGATHODAIMON – Serpent’s Embrace

AGATHODAIMON
Serpent’s Embrace
(Nuclear Blast)
This is the fifth time I have set out to do this review (in as many days too). This one is hard. It’s good, but I feel I need more listens. I basically know nothing of this band, aside from what Surt (Black Trinity) has told me, and even he knew little about them.
I do like the first track, “Cellos for the Insatiable.” As well, I liked the second track, “Serpent’s Embrace,” despite the fact that it reminds me of a black metal In Flames.
It’s track three that I have trepidation. “Light Reborn” starts out on a marching tempo, but slows to a crawl and it feels forced. It’s still good, but this is not one of the strongest tracks here.
Now “Faded Years,” I like this one. It has this odd groove that you NEVER find in black metal. (And yes, this is black metal. It feels like it and the vocals sound it as well.)
“Solitude” is slow. I mean slow, but not so slow as to induce a coma. It has the feel of Samael and Dead Silent Slumber. In fact, that is what this entire CD feels like. It IS good on so many aspects, yet it falls short on a couple of the songs. “Solitude” is not one of them.
“Limbs of a Stare” fucked me up, period. I did not expect this one. Slow piano with a looped drum rhythm, OK, I can see that. Then the female singer hit, and I thought I was listening to a neo-goth CD. This is more fitting of an industrial/goth/EBM CD. It’s good, but it really didn’t feel right on this. Especially when it is followed by a kill bomb like “The Darkness Inside” (which feels like a Dimmu Borgir tune, only on opiates).
Like I said, there are a lot of good tunes on here; (out of the nine, seven are really good, even if there is not black metal blasting) it’s too bad a couple of them were not up to par. There is not a bit of blasting here. They go for atmosphere rather than brutality, which is a refreshing thing considering I have been bleeding my ears to Marduk and their likeness as of late.
This is good and if you like Dimmu Borgir, Dead Silent Slumber and Samael, then I am pretty sure this will be welcomed into your own collection.
Rating: 7 out of 10.
(Michael Corey)
(NOTE: This CD also comes with a video clip and some behind the scenes footage of the making of the video and behind the recording of the CD.)

THE ABSENCE – From your Grave

THE ABSENCE
From Your Grave
(Metal Blade)
This was a surprise for me. I had gotten an e-mail from Metal Blade about this release. Out of pure curiosity I requested a promo for review. I’ve listened to this a number of times now, and I have to say this one has definitely proven that American metal now has the same muscle as the trendsetters over in the European scene.
This has a lot of European melodies, yet retains an American stamp. This is a good combination and leaves for some really good tunes. Imagine if you will what would have happened if In Flames, Soilwork and Cannibal Corpse merged and started in the United States. That, in a nutshell is The Absence. I hear many touches of At the Gates as well, and that is no hindrance.
There is a lot of history within this band, much of which can be obtained via their website, which I’ll give towards the end of this review.
However history and descriptions aside, let’s get to the meat of this album…
Opening this CD is a song simply titled “Intro.”  Yes, it’s an intro, (DUH!), but this is one that immediately shows that this is a band to be reckoned with. Melodies overlaid upon another create a feeling of descent, and then the battering mid-paced start of track two, “A Breath Beneath,” begins.
This easily shows an In Flames influence before it beats the shit out of you. This is a great one-two punch combination. It’s also one hell of a good way to open this disc.
This one rolls from speed to melodically fueled mid-paced sections, to blinding blasts. It has it all, and as your ears are razed by the music, the vocals contribute to the aural wreckage that ensues. (Yeah, I like this, and it gets better too!)
The third number is called “Necropolis.” This beats you. There’s not a whole lot more I can say. This is one of the faster tunes here. This is a double fisted blast in the head, and it really doesn’t let up too much.
Now, while I do praise these guys for the ability to recreate the European sound, I will say that the ONLY downfall is that it has been done before, just not by Americans. THAT is what makes this good. The underground is FLOODED by bands that sound like this; I’ll not lie. But again what makes this an impression on me is that AMERICANS are doing it.
“From Your Grave,” the title track opens at a blistering pace. Then delves into a 6/8 time signature ala At the Gates. (I can’t help it; the influences SO show on this.) The lead works, as well as the dual harmonies are easily befitting of the European stages.
Following is “Heaven Ablaze.” This chugs along nicely with a steady mid-paced double bass rhythm. It then dives into an At the Gates styled section briefly, before going back to mid- pace timing. This one is not bad; however I feel there are too many parts and too much happening. It seems like there is much here to distract the listener. So much in fact that it is hard to focus on one thing.
“Summoning The Darkness,” is next and this one keeps you at attention. This one is very much like At the Gates. While this is good, it’s been dome before. (But not by Americans damnit!) Midway in you get an In Flames feel for the solo section, and then it’s back to the speed. All in all this is not all that bad.
“Shattered,” is an instrumental. Sadly I have to say this is kind of another low point for me here. I was actually expecting something like this. It’s just like track five from Slaughter of the Soul. Sorry, but it is one thing to emulate, another to completely follow a formula set by another band.
“I, Deceiver,” is next. Now THIS I really like. This combines all the elements and influences. This is really thrashed out and moving in all its melodic glory. This makes up for the short instrumental.  This is where I hope to see American Metal heading in the future. It is with this song I also see this band possibly taking the route In Flames did with the addition of clean vocals. Time will tell on that one.
“My Ruin,” opens to a racing start, loaded in dark melody, and slams into melodic mid paced hell before screaming back into thrashed out melodic chaos.  This is another good one, easily one of quite a few highlights on this CD,
Closing we have “Seven Demons.”  This opens with a fade in one 6/8 timing, and on to, (yup, you guessed it) speed. But not for long.  It soon becomes the U.S. way of saying, “we got it!” This is a pretty good way to close this CD.
Like I said, this HAS been done before, just not by us Americans. I’m in NO WAY slamming this band. In fact I am giving them loads of praise for being one of the first bands in the U.S. to finally nail this sound.
Look out Sweden and Finland, we’re there, and we’re definitely pounding on your doors….
For more info about this band go to: http://www.theabsence.com
Rating: 8 out of 10.
(Michael Corey)

EKTOMORF (By: Lisa R. Rosner)

Interview with Zoltan Farkas (vocalist & guitarist)

By: Lisa R. Rosner

   Hailing from Hungary is a very aggressive band known as Ektomorf. Their newest CD entitled Instinct features cave drawings of lions. However, after listening to these 12 tracks of brutal intensity, you may feel like you have just been trampled by a horde of mighty miffed mammoth! (Try saying that five times fast!) This is definitely a CD that can come in handy on particularly stressful days. (Note: if you are offended by that ‘F’ word, stay clear of this one!)
   Vocalist/guitarist, Zoltan Farkas was kind enough to answer a few questions about the band and their latest release….

Lisa – Your new CD is quite impressive. This is the first I have ever heard of Ektomorf and I am interested in hearing more. Any possibilities you might get to do a North American tour with this release?
Zoltan – It would be really great to do a tour in North America! If we get the possibility to get on the road there, we’ll take it immediately! We would love to play there!
L – I found the origin of your band’s name interesting. How did you hear of the term ‘Ektomorf’ and what made you decide to use it?
Z – Yes, Ektomorf is a Latin word. It’s actually a gene-sickness and it means a very, very thin body. I found this word in a fitness magazine ten years ago. The word ‘ektomorf’ sounded good to me and that’s why I used it as my band name.
L – I think it is very innovative the way you use instruments like the sitar in some of your songs. Are you a Ravi Shankar fan by any chance?
Z – I have never heard his music, but maybe I will check it out. I use the gypsy folklore in my music because it’s a part of me and my brother, Csaba being half gypsies ourselves. The gypsies originated from India and I like to use Indian instruments like the sitar. What I use and what you hear on the Instinct album is very old gypsy folk music from our village in our home country.
L – What kind of musical background did you have while growing up? Who and what were some of your influences?
Z – I have no musical school background, if that is what you mean. One day, I started to play guitar and kept playing it since. My influences came from Metallica, Slayer, Sepultura and Machine Head.
L – What bands do you enjoy listening to the most these days?
Z – I listen to Machine Head, Soulfly, Metallica, Pro Pain, Iron Maiden, Asian Dub Foundation, music from Divan Gasparian; he wrote the music for The Gladiator movie (our intro when we play live), and my own music.
L – Since this is your sixth release, do you feel confident in the sound of Ektomorf’s music or are you always striving for new ideas in which to expand?
Z – I’m very happy with the results! But like any musician, I always get new inspiration and ideas that I want to use when it’s the right moment.
L – How would you personally describe the musical style of Ektomorf?
Z – It’s a musical mixture of powerful thrash metal, hardcore, punk and gypsy folklore (resulting from the Roma roots from me and my brother Csaba). It shows aggressiveness, energy, plus a lot of social critics. At the live shows, we get a lot of brutal moshpits and jump arounds!
L – What is the heavy metal scene like in Hungary? Are there many metal bands in your country besides Ektomorf? (Any worth mentioning?)
Z – In Hungary, the metal scene is not that big, also the population is not that big. Anyway, the metal bands over there play any style you can think of. Nowadays, it’s growing. Hungary has a few very cool metal bands like Replika; the singer is a good friend of mine, Cadaveres de Tortugas and Tankcsapda. They are all doing very well in Hungary, but I think mainly because of the language, they decide to stay there because they have more success.


L – I don’t have any lyrics with the promo, but I was wondering if the songs “Fuck You All” and “Burn” were about anyone or anything in particular?
Z – The song “Fuck You All” is based on a few personal experiences in my life. It’s a clear message from us for those people that think they stand above us all because of their money and power they have. They have no respect for people that have less and work really hard every day to make a living. Or people that look down on you when you look different and follow a different lifestyle. They think they know everything better, but actually they get more blind day-by-day, with their attitude. So the song “Fuck You All’ is for them! In this way, you can not repeat it enough I think! The song “Burn” is related to my ex-manager. It’s my rage that comes out. It’s like I’m burning him with my fire of rage, but it’s not meant literally, of course.
L – What other things inspire your songwriting? What is daily life there in Hungary like for you?
Z – I don’t live in Hungary now, but in Amsterdam (Holland) together with my girlfriend. The things that inspire me in the daily life are things how I look at my life and the world. I put it into music to tell people how I feel about it, but also to open the people’s eyes and act.
L – What are some of your future plans and goals for Ektomorf?
Z – We will do a headliner tour in October through the whole Europe and Eastern Europe and let’s see what comes from it. Hopefully a lot of new tours and opportunities for the band as well in your country as in other new countries. For the rest, I am working on the new album and we hope it comes out at the beginning of next year, so check it out guys!
L – What are some of your other hobbies and interests besides music?
Z – I like running!
L – What is a live Ektomorf show usually like? Do you get some pretty wild pits going? (It seems to me like you probably would.) Do you make it a point to greet your fans before and after the shows?
Z – Like I said, at the live shows, we get a lot of brutal pits and jump around. “It’s an energy boost that comes over you” I hear the people say. Well, when I’m on the stage, I talk to the people/fans always and when we do signing sessions, I also take the time listening to them. Before the show I don’t talk to fans, maybe sometimes outside the backstage.
L – What is your personal favorite track off of Instinct?
Z – That’s “Show Your Fist!”
L – What were the most challenging and/or gratifying parts of putting this new CD together?
Z – The outcome of it after recording it in the Antfarm Studio from Tue Madsen in Denmark. The sound that we got is mainly the result of Tue, his own way of producing our album. But it also has to do with the instruments we use in the studio. We are planning to record our next album also in Antfarm Studio. Also, to think about the artwork for the cover is always nice to do. The artwork with the lions is originated from real Stone Age cave paintings. We thought it would be perfect for the booklet because in that age, everything in life depended on your instinct! It was the only way to survive.
L – Is there anything else you would like people to know about Ektomorf, or any closing comments in general?
Z – Thanks a lot for your support! Please check out Ektomorf, our album and website. We will see you guys hopefully on tour soon! Take care.

ABORTED – Archaic Abattoir

ABORTED
Archaic Abattoir
(Olympic)
Well now, THIS was a surprise. So far my liking of Olympic Record’s bands has been less than stellar. So it was with trepidation that I came upon Aborted. From the moment I pressed ‘play,’ until the end, I was very impressed.
I know nothing of this band; however that will be remedied very soon. THIS is grind. This is GOOD grind. This is what I think of when I think of grind core. Insanely fast drums, sickeningly fast and melodic guitars, and most of all, the vocals.  These are not your typical ‘let’s make a sound like a burping puke and call it the lyrics’ vocals. They are distinct and round out a very solid and sick release.
The guys of Aborted, to me, sound like Carcass meets Shadows Fall, only add a FUCKLOAD of hostility.
Formed in Belgium by front man Sven De Caluwe, the band released three prior CD’s (of which I know nothing) The Purity of Perversion, Engineering the Dead and Goremageddon. The latter saw the band incorporate the ‘Carcass’ sound to their brand. But enough with their history check them out on their site: http://www.goremageddon.de.
Now, as I have stated before, I have not been thrilled with most Olympic releases. This (along with Behemoth) is easily a shining moment.
The opener, “Dead Wreckoning,” explodes with the slowed timing of guitars (just like Carcass) with a heaping dose of hell brought forth by drummer, Gilles Dellecroix. Groove and sick heaviness dominate this already great track, and the fun only continues.
Track two, “Blood Fixing the Bled,” comes on strong and doesn’t fall flat. Melodic, brutal and just pissed off; this is a relentless beating of the ears.
Next up is “Gestated Rabidity.” This is like a speed trip through a hall of glass. Sick time shifts, monstrous vocals, and ‘wall-o-sound’ guitars scream out with crystal clear brutality. This aural roller coaster is followed by “Hecatomb.” All I will say is: sit the hell down! This is a non-stop blast fest. (OK, there IS a pause, but it isn’t long enough.) This is easily one of my favorites on this CD. My only bitch: it’s too short!
“The Gangrenous Epitaph,” is a great reminder of what Carcass has given this genre. The groove-laden ministering of Aborted shines bright here. Dark chords and (holy shit!) a short solo, make this yet another great track among many.
“The Inertia” sounds, again, like Carcass, but not in a ‘hey-let’s-rip-their-sound’ kind of way. This easily shows the influence that they had. Emulation is the best flattery.
Let me put this way, if you’ve heard “Necroticisim” and “Heartwork,” you’ll have the gist of Aborted. Jeff Walker would be proud of these guys. I know I have made a number of comparisons to Carcass here, but hey, it’s the truth. The influence of that band is heavily shown here, and that really isn’t a bad thing. Anyway, moving on…
“A Cold Logistic Slaughter” charges on and basically lets up at the end. Short, sweet and brutal, all in one.
“Threading on Vermillion Deception” keeps the chaos alive with grooving guitars and sick blasting. The vocals are the standout here. Sven De Caluwe uses a unique guttural and a not-quite-hardcore style to his voice here (as he does on the rest of the CD). This makes the music memorable rather than just another stab at gore-grind. A quick solo section and soon you’re back to being hammered.
Next to last is “Voracious Hemoglobinic Syndrome.”  This is another great track. Tremendous drum work, soaring guitars, and the vocal delivery; all are super.
Lastly, we come to “Descend to Extirpation.” This one fades in on a marching feel, only to explode in fury. This has all the moments of grind: blasts (and dear gods, I heard a hint of Pestilence in there too), slow crawling mosh tempo, but all of that is infused with Aborted’s sound, which is, to say the least, stunning.
Go buy this. It is easily worth the time.
Rating: 9 out of 10.
(Michael Corey)

ALL SHALL PERISH – The Price of Existence

  All Shall Perish
The Price of Existence
(Nuclear Blast)

Now this is my first time hearing All Shall Perish. Musically this band and album is great for death metal. Nice lead guitars as well. I did some checking on this band and learned that their style is more commonly referred to as  ‘deathcore metal.’ Now if this is true I can tell it’s a little bit different from all the other death metal bands I listen too.
First I had to get accustomed to the vocal screams. They’re a little different than I’m used to. But after listening to this album all the way through, its not that bad at all. You can say I was getting into it.
Like said, the music is very well done. Very heavy stuff. The screams go from deep death metal growls to higher screams. It is a very interesting mix. I think there has to be some hardcore influence in this band. So the style deathcore, I think, fits them well.
I really like the guitar work on the song “The Day Of Justice.” The whole song is really cool too. “There Is No Business to Be Done on a Dead Planet” is another very good song that stands out on this album to me. Again awesome heavy guitar work. Everything seems to mix well with that song. I also really got into the song called “Better Living through Catastrophe” And there are more songs I could name that I also liked on this album.
Honestly, when I first started to listen to this album I didn’t think I was going to like it. But I have learned through the love of music to keep an open mind. Every band shouldn’t sound alike. So when I kept that in mind while listening to this album, I really started to get into it. It’s a nice change to other things I really like and normally listen to.
So if you want a  cool death metal / deathcore album, then this album by All Shall Perish, The Price of Existence is worth a listen to. Or if you are unsure then try it on for size to see how it feels on you. Again, it’s different from what I normally listen to. But it did not make me want to rip my ears off so I didn’t have to listen to it anymore.
So, I will say ‘Good work’ to All Shall Perish for the album The Price of Existence!
(Chad Boyd)

BLIND GUARDIAN – At the Edge of Time

Blind Guardian

At the Edge of Time
(Nuclear Blast)

 

Blind Guardian is one of my favorite bands. The new album, At the Edge of Time is great typical Blind Guardian music. I really enjoy this album yet why do I feel a little let down by it? Is it because I have been on a constant diet of Iron Maiden’s new CD or was I expecting too much from Blind Guardian? It is like having a craving for food but you can’t figure out what it is you’re craving for. Maybe it is too typical of Blind Guardian and not enough diversity or progression?
I do like this album quite a bit but it lacks something and it drives me crazy that I can’t figure out what is missing?
Below are a few of my favorite songs from the album.
At the Edge of Time starts out with a redone version of “Sacred Worlds” from the video game Sacred 2. I find this version is far more epic and superior than the original. The orchestral intro is amazing and sets the mood for the album as a whole.
“Cry For Tanelorn” is next, an up-tempo ditty which could have came off of one of the bands 1990’s releases with ease; complete with nice guitar and a catchy chorus.
“Road To No Release” starts off with a piano, marching drums and guitar. Sort of reminds me of a slower tune from Nightfall In Middle Earth. It has a nice flow to it that seems to slowly build in tempo and recede.
“Curse My Name” is my favorite tune on the entire disc. It has a nice folksy/renaissance faire feel to it. Might be a fun one to sing along with the band in a live setting. (I’d be interested in hearing Blind Guardian making a full folk metal album.)
“War of the Throne” is a piano laden ballad; very pretty and yet powerful. The lyrics are partially based on George R.R. Martin’s series of books: A Song of Ice and Fire, as is the next jam, “A Voice in the Dark” partially based on those books. Even the CD booklet art suggests the books’ character Bran Stark with his wolf, staring at ‘The Wall in the North.’
“A Voice in the Dark” was the single for the album and had a video to accompany it. Personally, I really did not like the video at all.

In all, At the Edge of Time is a very good album from the German bards. I’d give it a 8 out of 10. I still wish there was something new and fresh the disc had to offer.

(Robert Leopold)