Arctic Flame – Guardian at the Gate

Arctic Flame: Guardian at the Gate
(2011, Pure Steel Records)
http://www.ArcticFlamemetal.com

Hey there boys and girls! THE KIBITZER here to bring you some hell!
From Bayonne, NJ, out comes a band by the name of Arctic Flame! Now, I’ve been meaning to check out this band from my home state for quite some time, but I never had the chance to do so until now. I was over at the Pure Chaos Fest in Allentown, PA and this was the second time that I’ve checked out these guys live and I was finally able to snag one of their CD’s, Guardian At The Gate.
Ok, I’m going to be truthful here as much as possible and I’ve done a little research of my own while I was listening to this CD. I have seen a lot of reviews tearing up this CD but I’ll be honest with you, it’s not bad at all.  I really like it! It’s not me trying to be nice, it’s me dissecting every song and listening to the CD without bias. The songs and their style lean more towards the Prog Metal approach, however they still leave some room for Power Metal to pop right in and kick your ass! I didn’t have to listen to the CD for a very long time just to make my assessment. I automatically knew that I liked this CD. Although the material isn’t super hard or thrashy and to some of you the material just lacks speed, but that’s ok! This isn’t them trying to out do themselves or go head on with other Metal bands to see if they’re heavier than them or not. That’s not the main focus here. It’s them being themselves and I like that. It still displays some catchy hooks, fills, and a smooth groove to give something different to the listener.
The lyrics are a little weak, but I never pay attention to lyrics. I’m more of a music person and I concentrate more on the musicianship and production rather than lyrical content. Overall, I still like the production. I think it’s symmetrical and just right for the CD. It’s not dry, not overly done – a nice mix . The volume levels are well balanced.
The only thing to point out is that vocalist Michael Clayton-Moore’s vocals get off pitch when he hits the upper registry but it realigns itself just in time for the entire CD.
My favorite tracks are, “My Little Slice of Hell”, “Guardian At The Gate”, “Falkenfels”, “Creeper”, “Burning their Throne” and “Eternal”. Yes folks, we are talking about the same CD here and although some of you may not agree with me but it’s quite a find and a little diamond in the rough. It’s not a powerhouse but I can guarantee you that it still has a lot of offer. They also give a good live show too!
So with this, I give Guardian At The Gate a 3.25 out of 5 stars. Listen to the CD and you’ll see what I mean. Until next time…..RAGE!!!

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CAGE – Supremacy of Steel

CAGE: Supremacy of Steel
(2011, Music Buy Mail Records)
http://www.CAGEHeavyMetal.com

Hail all Metal Warriors! It’s THE KIBITZER here to give you all the low down on this latest release by CAGE, Supremacy of Steel. Ok, I’m a little late here and I know the CD came out late last year around November 2011, however, I finally had the opportunity to run out and get it.
For those of you who haven’t heard of CAGE, then go out and get their latest release! They’ve been around since 1992, however I’ve only been listening to them for over two years. I still have some catching up to do with the rest of their music catalog! Nonetheless, Supremacy of Steel is, hands down, a shredding tornado and a nuclear meltdown all in one! The production is of monolithic proportions, both superb and impeccable! Everything from the general layout of the songs to even the packaging (ah the album artwork of yore has returned and I’m glad that they’re keeping up with that lost art too!) just screams “Metal” right down to the bone! It not only picks up where Science of Annihilation left off, IT TOPS IT!
With the opening track, “Bloodsteel”, right away you hear blast beats and a screeching wail from vocalist Sean Peck. This makes you think that they’re going Black Metal but it’s definitely a statement saying that they know what’s going on in the scene and they can play that game too!
The thematic “Metal Empire” is a real stomper and great tune to march into battle!
Another track that I really love is “Doctor Doom”, based on the Marvel comic book villain (I’m also a comic book fan ).
The capabilities and limitations of Sean Peak’s vocals were put to the test with “Braindead Woman”. I don’t want to break this down for you track by track, CAGE has already done that for you. Instead, I will tell you that CAGE has gone to the 9’s just to pump out and produce one hell of a CD that every Metal head wants to listen to all the time! Their studio sound is almost identical to their live sound. That is a very hard thing to do my friends.
You can tell that they’ve experimented a little with the new material but didn’t stray away from the CAGE formula that they’ve used all these years. Supremacy of Steel is a fine tuned lethal weapon!
If you ever get a chance to catch any of their live shows then do it! I give Supremacy of Steel 5 out of 5 stars! If you don’t believe me then check out their latest CD. You won’t be disappointed!
This is THE KIBITZER signing off and until next time…..RAGE!!!

–        THE KIBITZER
KIBITZER@hotmail.com
@XKIBITZERX on Twitter
http://www.MySpace.com/TheMightyKibitzer

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)