review

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).

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

Lauren Bousfield – Fire Songs – Music Quickies of sorts

a4189338573_10Nero’s Day At Disneyland’s breakcore/gamemusic mesh developed into more artistic and feminine, even electronic indie-pop flirting Lauren Bousfield. BUT the 2017 EP Fire Songs takes a step back towards Nero’s sprained breakcore instrumental music, the electronic indie-pop is largely gone. Is IDM (intelligent dance music) the correct term? What a douche genre name that is by the way. 19 minutes long Fire Songs EP seems like easily the best Lauren Bousfield release. It is a quick starter too, I was really digging it immediately on the first listen. There’s way too little love for EP’s in the world…

Little Half Dead Fire Exits Hi and Piles of Black Dresses… are A-fucking class melody spectaculars with heaviness on beats too. Little Half Dead Fire Exists Hi is almost a melancholic piece, remember the time you got badly burned and were forced to crowdfund your medical bill? Those were the days…

No One3 and CirlGocks (with Omiinindustries, collaboration?) are a step into more atmospheric electro. Girlcocks, i mean Cirlgocks, even does rave beats. The beginning of the album is a strange deja vu “I know this melody from somewhere on her releases, is it a remix?”. Creative continuity of sorts, I dig that. It’s kinda fresh to hear familiar parts in a new context after a long pause from Lauren Bousfield’s music. Here I am on the 4th listen of Fire Songs, 3rd in a row and the album developed into really fucking good. The glitching is gradually getting more pronounced on Lauren’s releases, there’s really a lot of that and it works wonderfully.

Personal crisis often makes musicians give the best out of themselves and it seems this fire certainly did that with Lauren Bousfield. Can we get more good musicians burnt up a bit? Anyone? Please? I’ll pay for the gas.

Best of all, Fire Songs is on Fire Sales! The release is pay what you want in bandcamp! Free download if you so wish:
https://laurenbousfieldanyev3r.bandcamp.com/album/fire-songs

Xenoverse – The Fall: Part I

a1427198727_10Progressive rock/metal “newcomer” Xenoverse seems to have been in the cusp of releasing their debut album since 2015. After a lot of polishing, a few gigs and apparently nearly finishing a 2nd full-length too, their debut The Fall: Part I has finally been released. Xenoverse is full of seasoned musicians but it’s clearly the brainchild of the vocalist/keyboardist Arttu Juntunen.

The music tiptoes on the edge of progressive rock and progressive metal, there’s plenty of virtuosity in instrumentation but also catchiness in choruses. The keyboards play a major role in the compositions, but guitars and drums are both well mixed too. Refreshingly bass also peeks out from behind the guitar riffs and is used as a driving instrument. Behind Enemy Lines is a good example of a track where the bass is constantly present.

There’s not much heavy guitar walls to be found but dynamic interplay between the instruments. The album sounds to be done with live performances in mind, for example the guitar solo of Behind Enemy Lines has no backing guitar, just the bass beating about. This reflects their live setup with just one guitarist. It actually works very well and doesn’t sound gutless, but groovy.

The Torturer is nearly death metal with industrial in keyboards, very far from the other tracks. The “hit” track that is also arguably the best, One Can Rule The Sky, is from the other edge of the pallette; a rocker and a melodic extravaganza! It does not feel like a 7 minute track at all. Disintegration is among the heaviest tracks with lovely hypnotic repetition and space rock whirrs and buzzes after a solid progressive rock beginning.

The album could probably do without The Torturer even though I enjoy the Scorngrain-like industrial keyboards. The mellow finisher Aria’s Premonition is quite boring especially as the album has a lot of mellowness. Perhaps the concept of the album cannot do without it. There’s no denying that the mellow tracks Solitary Confinement and Is This The End are solid, and when the distortion guitars kick in after 4 minutes of Solitary Confinement it sounds frigging fresh. How about the majestic symphonic elements then? Violins, Trombone, Cello, French horn, Viola, Majestic keyboard pad sounds; I admit, I’m a sucker for most things epic.

All in all The Fall: Part I is a complete solid progressive rock/metal album with fine attention to detail. A very impressive debut.

8/10

I also did a live review of their gig a few years ago.

Buy & listen to the album in bandcamp:
https://xenoverse.bandcamp.com/

 

Summoning – With Doom We Come – Music quickies

R-11361677-1515085236-7610.jpegSummoning has drawn Lord of the Rings influences since the early 90s and does it without resorting to annoying cliches. Sure, the music is pompous, repetitive and doomy but in the right way. If one didn’t happen to know their themes come from Lord of the Rings, it couldn’t be guessed.

As they’ve been really deep in the mythos for a long time, there’s no artificial Merri and Pippin or Aragorn bullshit. But there is a feeling of vastness, glorious mountains and adventure. The slight casionism’s in keyboard sounds can propel some people away but to my delicate casio-ear it is not bad. I guess it helps that the compositions are really strong, unique and epic metal tracks. Monumental, one could say.

Tar-Calion draws middle-eastern influence, showing that they should continue to experiment with melodies. Carcharoth‘s main riff is pretty much the riff of the year. Night Fell Behind sports an extremely atmospheric piano melody with a great riff in a composition that keeps developing and adding new melodic layers. All of these three are in my top 2018 tracks. Silvertine and With Doom I Come are both also really easy to label as very good. That doesn’t leave much to not like in the album. One of the best albums of the year for sure.

9/10

Loss – Horizonless

cover-smThe second album of LossHorizonless is more melancholic and melodic than most funeral doom / death-doom bands from the US. Horizonless has gotten plenty of fine response and is destined to become Loss’s breakthrough from the funeral doom underground.

The soothing melody lines of All Grows on Tears switch fluently between sorrowful and life affirming, reminding of very melodic death-doom bands like Swallow The Sun. At times Loss broods on dark riffs and the melodies are more nihilistic serving in a supporting role. Loss doesn’t go as far as all encompassing heaviness of Evoken although the first halves of Banishment and the title track Horizonless seem to seep from same sources.

There are plenty of small sections that are not from a playbook of a layman doom band. For example the acoustic guitars in the beginning of When Death Is All, or the little jazzy bass lines that at times heighten into leads riding over the dark wave of The Joy of All Who Sorrow. I have come to know – THE JOY OF ALL WHO SORROW! Then… How about the last 20 seconds that goes black metal? It’d actually be a really fucking good ending track. Too bad Loss didn’t ask me before they released the album ;).

I first thought the album to be a stellar but not superb that has an incredibly strong starter in The Joy of All Who Sorrow. After such a great track the rest of the album feels a tad stale. Also let’s face it, When Death is All is not the epic closer a masterclass album should have. It does have a pretty outro and good elements but as an entity it sounds a bit pieced together. The rest of the 5 main tracks that clock around 10 minutes are more fluent.

The album was on hiatus from my playlist for a few months after which I decided to move The Joy of All Who Sorrow as a last track and LO! Imminent new charm skyrocketed Horizonless among the best releases of 2017. I.O. serves as a fine intro but Moved Beyond Murder‘s 2.44 of ambient humming I removed altogether. Besides these 2 there are also two other semi-intermission tracks that serve well in their place. Almost 15 minutes of intermissions is still too much. (See the bottom of the post to listen the Like Music To Your Ears version of the album).

Naught deserves a couple of special mentions. The beginning clean guitars twinkle like the stars in the cover of the album and its last 3 minutes have the most chilling and indulging vocal lines. The vocalist Mike Meacham sounds to be committing an auditory seppuku with output of pure suffering and contempt. His usual vocal style is almost comically low growling, but the moments when he ranges to high screams and clean vocals are all highlights.

I dare to say this is my favourite doom release from the US since Morgion’s criminally underknown Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth (2004).

9/10

Bandcamp: https://loss.bandcamp.com/album/horizonless
A good interview about the themes of the album: http://newnoisemagazine.com/loss-self-reliance-exceeding-horizons/

Fixed track order to maximize The Joy of All Who Sorrow: