Damien Storm – Horror on St. Lime’s Hill

DAMIEN+STORM+DSI cannot recall when I came over Damien Storm but it was probably a list of the funniest, weirdest or worst metal acts. Damien Storm falls in all of those categories but for the right reasons. Hell, it could have even been Phil Anselmo’s Housecore records because they have Damien Storm in their roster. It’s such an unlikely companionship it’s logical, really.

Horror On St. Lime’s Hill was released in 2000 and the first time I could listen it in its entirety was because it was released in Spotify a couple years ago. I thought that his earlier album Ghost Town (1993) must be a non-existing joke, but ALAS it is in Spotify too.

One might wonder how come I would put artists existence into question. Well, you must have seen the artists promo picture on the top of the review. If you still aren’t convinced scroll on.

This video is about a six foot raven (also shot on a 2 inch potato):

This guy is no joke when it comes to riffs, the main butter of Raven in the Courtyard is actually a damn fine riff. Then come the guitar leads…. Jeez, the guitar leads are literally all over the place. I keep getting laughing fits when listening them in Raven in the Courtyard and Entity in the Forest. They just skip all that guitar scale bullshit and go to directions you wouldn’t expect, hilariously.

horror on st. limes hillVocals… WHO SINGS LIKE THIS AND WHY DID I START TO ENJOY IT AFTER A COUPLE OF LISTENS!?

Did I say Damien Storm is no joke when it comes to riffs? I lied (orated with an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice). Entity in the Forest has some outrageous stop-and-go riffing coupled with cheap drum machine. And of course fancy lets-play-some-notes-at-random guitar leads. I love it.

Horror on St. Lime’s Hill is a very listenable entity (in the forest), though it gets a bit repetitive in an album scale. Damien Storm has his funny trademark feats but his tracks, tempos and riffs have a bit of variation. There’s always some questionable arrangements and/or musicianship going.

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Untraditionally the last part of the album is stronger, Raven in the Courtyard is a great speedy rocker. Dr. Vulcan’s Laboratory Experiment is a longer hard-hitting epic track with truly solid riffing and a chorus I can not forget. Ever. Some proper chainsaw guitars too! Zekey Zombie starts with some jungle casio sounds that logically lead to an ominous zombie chants and pitch-shifted “deep” vocals. Vampire Stalks the East Wing is filled with juicy leads. Chamber of Torture is a solid compact Damien Storm track with a fine main riff. Yes I mean it, it is good.

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Cylindrical Presence utilizes a lot of stop-and-go-riffing being a bit of weaker version of Entity in the Forest but at least there’s a silly, very cheap irish melody. The title track is a bit too long for its own good. Badtyme Story proves that Mr. Storm can sing, but for unknown reasons, he does not want to use his properish voice in his music. Fair enough.

Some of the “scary” ambient tracks (Basement Tales, Dungeon of Horrors) are a bit of a bore cause there’s too much of them, but in total they are actually pretty well made, classic b-move quality.

With some proper skip button use I enjoy the album way more than I should.

8/10

Sea of Poppies – Sea of Poppies

a3018950448_10Sea of Poppies is best described as experimental harsh noise. The submission notes of the first album of Sea of Poppies explained that the artist had a hard time with health that led to experiments with some analogue stuff to let out some steam. A form of catharsis. The analogue experiments also make the release sounds oldschoolish, pleasantly non-digital.

Usually when a first-timer makes an experimental album, painting or a poem to help with the healing process it’s value is merely for the healing itself. It can be very effective as a sort of therapy but when a 50 year old truck driver picks up the brush first time since being in primary school and makes a cubist painting to battle his depression, the results are often a bit funny. But since it’s therapy you aren’t even allowed to laugh at it! Sad but true. I’ve found so many “I did this to recover from a problem x”-releases that are very unlikely to interest anyone in multiple art forms it’s not even funny. But hey, whatever works for ones recovery right. Luckily Sea of Poppies seems to have ambition beyond the healing process!

Even though the artist explained himself to be a new noise artist, his bandcamp lists Sea of Poppies as a sister project to Deprivation Chamber that released an ep in 2010. Maybe that explains the well-formed sound.

About the tracks

When the first track kicks in, I start to quickly yearn for tempo switches though. The constant jarring tempo may be cathartic to most harsh noise lovers, but I tend to find it tiresome. Luckily second track has a pleasant watery background that breaks the tempo artificially. A high whistling sound does get a tad annoying but it has a bit of build up during the process of the track.

0013635072_10Third track is the highlight of the release, clearly the most varied piece. The standard tempo has altercations that break it and at 1.30 the main theme is also changed completely. All this flows together and sounds natural, very nice! The next theme builds up and has more changes, but it takes till 8 minute before shit all the sudden gets really loose with analogue jerks. Few times one can even nod your head to rhythmic changes. Does 9.20 have a modulation hook? A modulation hook in noise? Hah!

All three tracks are named “untitled” so I took the liberty of renaming them stupidly to differentiate them for each other (and for the lols):

  1. Just another cathartic harsh noise track
  2. Watery electronics
  3. Nearly rhythmic modulations

End notes

In the submission text the artist also explained that he used different methods to make each track to have an own personality but also to learn something new. Gladly it is apparent; all three different tracks have a different identity and sound. I find the last track alone interesting enough to be eager to listen this release from time to time after this review is done. Good stuff!

Free download in bandcamp: https://seaofpoppies.bandcamp.com/album/sea-of-poppies (you can also buy the release as a cassette for a very affordable price).

Haken – The Good Doctor

Is this a good single or what! Haken’s last three releases Affinity (2016), Restoration (2014) and The Mountain (2013) are among the very best progressive metal/rock releases of the 2000s. Haken is about to release a new album Vector October 26th. First single The Good Doctor really ups the expectations.

 

Riff driven, memorable melodies, funky bass groove… Haken is a multifaceted band but I’m glad they are embracing their riff driven metal side. The musical theatrics of Crystallised and Cockroach King, occasional worship of Dream Theater or 80s prog rock of Affinity is not on the forefront. Rhythmic mid-part reminds quite a lot of one of their killer tracks In Memoriam from The Mountain. It’s still pretty damn neat. The way it flows seamlessly back to now heavier double-kicking bridge that leads to chorus really makes sparks fly inside my mind.

Two of the best progressive metal bands at the moment are Haken and Vektor. Therefore I do not think it is coincidence that Hakens new album will be named Vector. The title of Vektor’s next album is still unannounced, but I bet it will be called Hacen!

Perturbator – New Model

R-10983619-1507653153-4272.jpegWhen others were just learning the synthwave genre, Perturbator had already mastered the trade in 2012. I came late to Perturbator/synthwave bandwagon, having only listened Carpenter Brut for years.

Perturbator’s 2017 34 minute EP New Model is a different sound than the norm, darker, more riff oriented approach. If one can say riffs about electronic music. Not surprisingly, the main man behind Perturbator, James Kent, has background in metal, having been a guitarist in multiple black metal bands before Perturbator era.

I’m a big fan of the dark dystopia atmosphere, it supports the themes a lot better than the regular hard-hitting fast and bright 80s synthwave sound that most artists are doing. Problem is, the compositions are slightly jarred. I mean, the sections don’t always flow as smoothly as they should. And when they do, there could be more content.

Take Tainted Empire as an example, it seems to be a collection of interval sections that pop up and then go away. You’d think the great melodic part from 2-3 minutes is the beef but then the last minutes are some mech-walking like slow and doomy droning. The sung single track Vantablack almost hits the mark, but in the end is a bit of a 8/10 sci-fi movie with a brilliant start. Enjoyable, but not as good as it could have been.

Corrupted By Design has extreme head-banging groove as an intro and main theme, but the 5 minute composition doesn’t feature much else of note. The beginning track Birth of a New Model is an excellent entity and the last track God Complex, takes the groove, turns the rhythm knobs, adds some sky-soaring clean synths. A really fucking excellent 8.5 minute tough as nails entity where even the few minutes of ambient in the midst are a support column.

The new model has a lot of promise but the main functions are still a tad bit buggy. Due to bugs the user experience is sometimes frustrating but in the end New Model does the job. There’s been a vast amount of innovations that have never been taken further after the semi-successful first model. One can only hope Perturbator keeps fine-tuning and developing the sound and the next version is the definitive 2.0 Perturbator.

8/10

Like Summer 2018 Music to Your Ears playlist + Music Quickies

Like usual in the summertime I have not looked out for that much new music but focused on… Just summer I guess. I dunno where it went. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been new tracks on my playlist. Not all of the chosen music is summery, in fact most isn’t. Instead of idiotic hip summer music, the playlist has plain really fucking good tracks.

Metals of summer 2018

-6122529-1411671592-2798At The Gates published their new album To Drink From The Night Itself in 2018. It’s a pretty good effort with some memorable tracks (To Drink From The Night Itself, In Nameless Sleep, The Mirror Black) but most of all it made me retry their previous album At War With Reality (2014). Somehow I had skipped it altogether and it proved to be a mistake, it’s an extremely solid melodic death metal album that only loses a bit of punch by the end. And I don’t get excited about melodic death metal easily. Circular Ruins has a grandiose last half, great chorus, lovely guitar harmonies and fierce vocals (even the Crawling Chaos from H.P. Lovecraft gets a mention), what’s not to like.


Slugdge-Esoteric-Malacology-e1519751375282Slugdge – Spectral Burrows. Esoteric Malacology is probably my favourite album of 2018 so far. Cosmic progressive death metal with a gimmicky lyric theme, that does not reflect to the overall quality of the music. How the hell a band that sings about snails makes lyrics and music this good.

 



R-10663576-1501951371-9132.jpegMagoth – Requiem Deus (Anti Terrestrial Black Metal, 2017). So, there’s these rare songs that starts with a chorus. Really untypical but you find them sometimes. Requiem Deus is one of those but on top of that, the chorus is instrumental! That’s even rarer I guess! The basis is a strong as shit tremolo melody. I bet a lot of black metal bands could have composed this tremolo but how the track is arranged brings so much more power to it.


R-12160526-1529516094-5694.jpegCraft‘s 2018 album White Noise and Black Metal does not seem to be as strong as Void (2011), but Void was ridiculously good. Cosmic Sphere Falls is right there among the best tracks of Craft’s career. Summer and black metal baby.

 

 


102919-awakeningAsunojokei – Spring of Passion (Awakening, 2018). Combining black metal, post-hardcore and Japanese anime music melodies. How can it not fail? Asunojokei’s compositions sound so logical that on paper they sound much more weird than what they actually sound!

 


homeland

My Reflection – Homeland (single, 2018) Out of the blue My Reflection published the best song of their career. Extremely symphonic melodic metal with a graceful music video that was shot in a time span of one year to portray Finnish nature and the seasons. The track celebrates the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence. Homeland should satisfy the fans of bands like Wintersun and Nightwish. The 2 minute intro already cuts the mustard and it warms my heart that the soaring female vocals are paired with strongly grunted, black metallish rasp and some good ol’ blast beating sections. I also just published a short article about the track: https://likemusictoyourears.com/2018/08/10/my-reflection-homeland-epic-symphonic-melodic-metal/


leprousLeprous – Stuck (Malina, 2017). Leprous gig in Tuska was among the best of the festival. The band looks like school boys and at best sounds like jazz musicians doing their impression of catchy progressive metal. The weird drumming style and lots of rhythmic hooks have drawn me quite in to their style. The last 1.5 minutes of rhythmics on Stuck are such a bliss.

 


doomedDoomed – Our Gifts (6 Anti-Odes to Life, 2018). Death/doom. Strong album that might lack a bit of high-points but the overall quality makes up for it. Especially The Doors and Our Gifts are high class atmospheric death-doom tracks. Strangely the tacit and slow instrumental Layers (Ode To Life) has been playing in my head after waking up, I guess it’s beautiful enough. As a satisfyingly logical detail, it is also the 7th track of the record!

 


Meshuggah_-_The_Violent_Sleep_of_Reason

Meshuggah – By The Ton (Violent Sleep of Reason, 2016). Another high point of Tuska 2018. The rhythmic majesty combined with the supreme light-show at times induced a catharsis. For example the title track of the record had a super satisfying effect of white lights going down on rhythm and speed with huge downward slides of one of the central riffs (first appearing at 0:34). By focusing on the lights they brought a completely new visual rhythm element to the show. By The Ton is still my favourite track of the record.


Electronics of summer 2018

a0487580087_10Slipdrive – Nova Byzantium a Thousand Spires of Light (River of Heaven OST, 2014). A complete random find from a soundtrack of a pen an paper roleplaying game I’ve never played and probably never will. The soundtrack is lovely sci-fi-game music-chillout-electro. Nova Byzantium and The Coming Renunciation seem to launch the listener straight into space.

 


42084Vector Lovers – Monologue (iPhonica, 2013). Music that sounds like you were on drugs. Sounds that seem to come from an other dimension in surprising relaxing symmetry. Such weird sensations and damn if I like it!

 

 


glanko orvotGlanko – Orvot (single, 2018). Glanko’s progressive sci-fi IDM or what the heck it is always activates my synapses. Chillout electronic track with really strong astral spacey vibes. Ideal for watching a spacestation move slowly with a small beam drive, multicoloured star rings and nebulas shining around it.

 


Finnish music of summer 2018 (sad list)

R-12137234-1529049213-7911.jpegPaperi T – Muutos (Kaikki on hyvin, 2018). My mainstream sin. The flow and sound of Paperi-T’s vocals and the cunning punning lyrics are a joy to listen. Even though his darker compositions and lyrics seem to be in the past, when Paperi-T is at his darkest that’s when I enjoy him the most. One of those lyricists that makes you want to google what the hell he is singing about but can also surprise with straight-forward lines and stories. New album is quite uneven but has a really good starting trinity.

My Reflection – Homeland – Epic symphonic melodic metal

Out of the blue My Reflection published the best song of their history. Extremely symphonic melodic metal with a graceful music video that was shot in a time span of one year to portray Finnish nature and the seasons. The track celebrates the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence.

Homeland should satisfy the fans of bands like Wintersun and Nightwish. The 2 minute intro already cuts the mustard and it warms my heart that the soaring female vocals are paired with strongly grunted, black metallish rasp and some good ol’ blast beating sections.

Before this My Reflection could have been called just another melodic female fronted metal band. They were established in 2007 but only their 2012 album Dreamland Drowning really showed their interest in playing around with the elements. It was a rather good effort, especially as this basic melodic metal album had a few instances of progressive deathcore in the midst. The compositions in general did not cut corners but had ambition and that did bring a few high points. After Dreamland Drowning, My Reflection published a few singles in Spotify that were considerably more poppy melodic metal.

My Reflection has been on hiatus for a few years, this majestic symphonic metal song could not have been more of a surprise!

Aether Realm – Tarot

a4166387068_10-500x500After getting goosebumpy by the original sounding intro of the starting track of Tarot (2017), The Fool, the multitude of Finnish metal influences really caught me off guard! A lot of melodeath, Wintersun’s epic song-writing, combining clean, heroic and very Jari Mäenpää-style raspy vocals. Power metal elements and blastbeating with bright melodic backline are straight out of Wintersun’s repertoire too. Insomnium style very melancholic guitar melodylines pop up ever so often. There’s a huge folk metal backbone that could, logically after two such clear influences, be based on Ensiferum, but just as well to some other influental 2000s folk metal band. Then! All the sudden The Emperor is a pure Kalmah track! Have these guys from North Carolina listened to anything else except Finnish metal!?

And why would the Finnish metal influences be negative?

Lo! They are using these influences with a lot of class, Tarot is a really really solid album. The four above mentioned Finnish bands are huge influence on my metal background so it’s no wonder that I’m keen on placing them on Tarot. Upon further listens it is clear that Tarot is not a copycat but an original album and a great mesh. And fair enough, there’s technical death metal riffing, power metal (Tarot), flashy pure rock solo (The Tower), black metal intro and a flamenco break (The Devil), midi intro (The Sun, the Moon, the Star), melancholic acoustic material (Temperance)… I cannot place the backbone of the album anywhere else than on good old Finnish melodic death metal but it does not make the album any lesser.

On actual negatives and melodies

How many times have I stressed that an album that clocks 73 minutes is TOO … FUCKING … LONG. Sure enough, Strength is a filler track and The Chariot not much of my liking. Notable weaknesses are the very cheesy and unoriginal folk metal melodies in Strength‘s verse and chorus and The Chariot‘s chorus. The American groove metal vibe and attitude lyrics of The Chariot are not to my personal preferences either. However Strength does have a pre-verse that does some good old goosebumps and The Chariot a c-part that grooves like a moose. This package would be tighter without them even though these tracks are ok and especially The Chariot may interest a lot of fans. Better to have more material than too little i guess.

Mostly Aether Realm use their melodic patterns, if not originally, but well enough for me to enjoy them. It is not a melodic symphonic extravaganza like the fellow US band Wilderun, through which I found them. Aether Realm’s melodies are often folk but stellar enough to not slip into joyful major keys. The melodies have been used with good harmony. Symphonic sections and melancholic melodies, keep the folkish melodies fresh. An occasional less melodic riff-storm like The Devil is a very welcome addition.

I am very picky about folk metal melodies, I got tired of Ensiferum’sand Korpiklaani’s hip folk metal in about 2004.

Few more notable tracks…

Tarot does have major charm. Especially The Fool, hard-hitting and rhythmic Death (Only For The Weak in the beginning riff, anyone?) and the 19 minute opus, The Sun, the Moon, the Star which has some serious epicness going on. The Sun, the Moon, the Star is really hard to dissect into bits but it flows smoothly as hell from choir hits to electronic sounds, symphonic melodeath riffing with folk cleans to power metal riffing followed by straight to your face melodic guitar frenzy and black metallish blastbeating. Then a piano interlude! And this was just a 3 minute part in the middle of it!

Even the drinking song King of Cups does not fall into an unoriginal drinking song pothole but is genuinely a good track with mean vocal delivery, some killer fucking guitar work and lovely weird ass solo.

8½/10