Friday, February 12, 2016

Camaxtli Yoxippa – Uacusecha

I remember mentioning Camaxtli Yoxippa when I was mocking Karl Spracklen's study where he claimed that folk metal was racist and sexist. Since they released a new EP just a few months ago, I think now might be a good time to give their music a deeper analysis.

Given the unpronounceable nature of their name, it is clear that these guys pay homage to their Aztec ancestors. In other words, they take death metal and combine it with Aztec folk music. The folk music takes the form of flutes, drums, and maracas. The drums and maracas are good, but they're mainly there to provide a musical foundation and enhance the atmosphere. The most prominent element here is the flute. It's mostly whimsical, but there are times when it can speed up and get quite frantic, and there are also moments where it's slow and calming. There are also moments where the band plays classical Spanish guitars that further add to the beauty of the music.

Now let's talk about the metal. The death metal these guys play is more on the groove side of things, but it's still good. The drums play a lot of pounding mid-paced rhythms full of crashing cymbals, but I wish the snare had more of an impact. Sometimes they play elaborate tribal patterns, and there are also moments when they pick up the pace and play some d-beats, and they even play some great blast beats on occasion. I like it when metal bands give more attention to the bass, and these guys definitely do that. On this album, the bass can be heard really well, and there are moments when it plays some really groovy riffs, such as on the last two songs.

When it comes to the vocals, they're okay. They're not terrible, but they don't really stand out. These guys perform more of a gruff shout. I wish they performed deep growls. At least the guitars make up for it. They start off the album with some mid-paced groove riffs. They're okay, but things get even better when they pick up the pace and start playing more thrashing riffs. They're quite melodic and sound similar to what a few Swedish melodic death metal bands would play, the difference here being that Camaxtli Yoxippa plays these riffs in a way that I can actually enjoy. They also play some great pounding chugs, and they even play a few solos that are wondrous and graceful.

The first few minutes of this EP are kind of bland, but it gets way better after that. The guitars are fantastic and provide a great deal of melody, and I really liked the folk elements they included. To be honest, I never cared much for folk metal, but after listening to bands like Camaxtli Yoxippa, perhaps I should pay more attention to it.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Black Kirin – 哀郢

There are a lot of great new Chinese metal bands that have gone largely unnoticed. One such band is called Black Kirin. They've been around since 2012 and released their first full-length album 哀郢 last year, but I didn't know they even existed until a little over a week ago. I just sort of stumbled upon them while I was searching for more music to listen to. Funny how you can stumble upon great metal almost completely by accident.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lechuza – April 14 Demo

The label known as Atavistic Insurgence has existed for a little over two years so far, but they've already released quite a bit of interesting black metal. One such band is Lechuza. As is the case with most of these ultra underground black metal bands, very little is known about them. All I know is that they released their first demo on April 14, 2014. In fact, this demo is conveniently called April 14 Demo.

Given the nature of this band, the production is predictably lo-fi. It's really muffled, but I can still hear the music just fine. I've definitely heard worse. The black metal this band plays is a bit atmospheric and a bit punkish with some slow parts thrown in between. The blast beats are simple and aggressive, but their impact is subdued by the muffled production. They also play some mid-paced rhythms that feature cymbals that manage to break through the thick fog. These mid-paced rhythms sound more akin to punk than to black metal, but they're still enjoyable.

The band utilizes a rasp that is smothered by the production. He sounds akin to a grim spirit wandering through a foggy valley. The guitars aren't as aggressive as most other black metal bands, but they make up for it by being more atmospheric. The tremolo riffs, when combined with the production, create a suffocating environment. Sometimes they play more mid-paced riffs that happen to have a touch of melody. It's essentially a spot of beauty that is found in the ugly morass.

Sure, the production is shitty, but I liked the music. It's mysterious, so that makes it all the more fascinating.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Naarvhal – Naarvhal

I don't really pay attention to the Canadian metal scene, mainly because Cryptopsy has left a bad taste in my mouth. I think they're incredibly overrated, but that's a story for another day. Right now I'm going to talk about a band called Naarvhal. Canada has been producing quite a bit of atmospheric black metal in recent years, and Naarvhal is the latest band to follow that tradition.

It takes a while for this album to really get started. The first track consists of ambient sounds and synth work. After that, Naarvhal hits us with black metal that is shrouded in cold and mysterious fog. All the music is made by one guy. Given this, I don't know if the drums are programmed or not. Either way, the drums are excellent. The blast beats radiate the fury of nature. The double bass sounds like the rumbling of the earth. The rhythms are mainly slow and steady, and the snare manages to pierce the thick foggy production. They also keep things energetic by including a great deal of fills.

The vocals are the type of ghostly rasps that are quite common in atmospheric black metal. Although they're not very original, the performance is still strong and radiates ancient sorrows. There are even moments when they're accompanied by clean vocals. The guitars are the element that gives this music the most emotion. They play a great deal of tremolo riffs that are as cold as winter in the Yukon, and exude feelings of isolation and desolation. They are morose in sound and structure, but there's also a feeling of grandiosity that manages to shine through. The band also plays some clean guitars such as those on “Hidden Clouds” and “Vastness” that further reinforce the feeling of wandering alone through vast white fields of ice and snow.

To be honest, most of the Canadian metal I listen to consists of atmospheric black metal bands like Skagos. Although Naarvhal doesn't sound like Skagos, it's still profoundly emotional. This band might have a funny name, but their black metal is fantastic.

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Touhou Tuesday #207

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Soter – October 94

Doom/death done right feels dark yet profound. It's heavy yet it also feels emotional. The music makes you feel as if you're being taken on a journey of bleak sorrow. Doom/death done wrong ends up feeling really, really boring. Case in point: Soter.

Soter is another one of those ultra obscure metal bands that recorded only a tiny amount of music before splitting up, and what they've recorded is not good. The drums don't really do anything other than play slow beats, and the slow beats they play aren't even interesting. They just sound like cheap rehashes. Sure, there are a few moments when they pick up the pace, but these moments are ruined by the unimaginative patterns

The growls are dull. They're the same deep growls that you can find on most other doom/death demos that were released during this time. They don't try to think outside the box, and they don't even try to make the growls interesting. Then there are the guitars. First of all, the tone is pitiful. It's too high-pitched and too thin. Good doom/death presents us with a guitar tone that is thick and heavy. There's nothing like that on here. As for the riffs themselves, they're too simple and there's too little variety. They range from dull slow chugs to slightly faster chugs. There are a few moments when they shred, but those moments just sound sloppy.

The only interesting thing about this demo is the cover. Other than that, it's a total snorefest.
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Oblivion (US, MD) – Demo 1991

This was the second demo from the Maryland thrash metal band Oblivion. They released one more demo after this, but I can't find it anywhere.

The most noticeable difference between this demo and the first is that the production is way better. It no longer sounds muffled. You can hear the music clearly now. The music is mostly the same, but it also feels a bit more aggressive. The drums still play a lot of simple Slayer-style blast beats, but this time around their mid-paced rhythms sound a lot more complex. The patterns are more elaborate, they incorporate a lot more cymbal work, and they throw in a lot more fills. The bass can still be heard really well, and they play a lot of groovy riffs, such as on “Crucifactor”.

The vocals on the first demo were just an ordinary thrash metal shout. This time around, the band tries to add more character to the vocals, but they end up sounding more annoying. They just feel too high-pitched for my tastes. As with the first demo, the guitars are the best part. Their shredding riffs feel a lot more frantic and energetic. They also have a lot heavier tone to them. Their mid-paced riffs feel more focused as well as more infectious. On top of all that, they play more solos, and these solos feature wild sounds and crazy structures.

This demo was a huge improvement over their first. I can't find their last demo, so I can't tell if that one was either good or bad. Overall, this demo was pretty enjoyable.
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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Oblivion (US, MD) – Demo 1989

Oblivion is another one of those words that's really popular with metal bands. It's also the name of an Elder Scrolls game where all the people have creepy potato faces. This Oblivion in particular was a thrash metal band from Maryland. They formed in the late '80s and released just three demos before splitting up. This was their first.

The production is predictably bad. Then again, it's not as bad as some other thrash metal demos I've listened to in the past. The sound is muffled, but it's not so muffled that it's impossible to hear anything. The music itself is your typical late '80s thrash metal. Sometimes the drums perform simple and rapid blast beats akin to Dave Lombardo. Other times they play some more mid-paced rhythms that are frequently broken up by fills. Despite the bad production, I can still hear the bass quite well, and they play some rather nice riffs.

The vocals are your standard thrash metal shout. Nothing exciting, really. Sometimes they perform some gang vocals, but it doesn't change the fact that the main vocals aren't interesting. At least the guitars make up for the lackluster vocals. They play a lot of thrashing riffs that sort of remind me of Testament. They also play some pretty nice mid-paced riffs whose infectiousness manages to break through the bad production. There aren't that many solos on here, but the few that do show up sound delightfully chaotic.

Even though this demo features shoddy production, the music still manages to be good. The vocals aren't all that interesting, but I do like the guitar work.
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Friday, February 5, 2016

Carnivorous Voracity – The Impious Doctrine

Naked ladies on the cover. Too lewd for Blogger.

The Basque Country makes some pretty sweet metal. My favorite band from there is Ostots. However, I recently discovered this awesome brutal death metal band from that land. Their name is Carnivorous Voracity. They've been around since 2009, but it wasn't until last year that they released their full-length debut The Impious Doctrine. This shit is fucking brutal.

After a one minute intro, the band throws you into a maelstrom of chaotic blasphemy. The music features a mixture of both slam and technical elements. The drums are furious. The blast beats are a blistering assault on your fragile senses, and they sometimes reach absurd speeds. The mid-paced rhythms are loaded with hyperspeed double bass, and they sometimes hit us with really elaborate cymbal work. They also play some awesome pounding slam beats. The bass is pretty high in the mix, and they fill up the album with sweet rumbling riffs.

The vocals are as brutal as they are diverse. Sometimes the growls are vicious and guttural. Other times they take on this gruesome croaking quality. There are also times when the growls are hoarse and sinister. The guitars are the most technical aspect of this album. Their shredding riffs are filled with elaborate hooks. Sometimes they slow things down and hit us with some wicked chugging riffs, then there are moments when they perform wild displays of technical skill. The best part is that not only are these guys technically proficient, but they also write riffs that are really enjoyable and make for some great headbanging fun.

Once again, the Basque people have made some awesome metal. This album is brutal, it displays a great deal of technical skill, and it features some awesome songwriting. Give this a spin and let it lay waste to your ear drums.
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Dark Prison Massacre – A Blood Clot Ejaculation

The cover features mermaid titties, which means Google won't allow me to show you it, so here's a picture of best mermaid instead. Sometime ago, I reviewed The Dark Prison Massacre's 2010 EP The Secret Of Black Silk Stockings. They played some pretty sweet slam. In 2015, they released their full-length debut A Blood Clot Ejaculation, but the problem was, I couldn't find a digital copy of it. Now I have, and it's clear that they've been improving their craft.

This album features eleven tracks. Two of those songs are covers and two of them are just instrumental versions of other songs on the album. This means that this album features seven songs worth of original content. These songs last for a combined length of 23 minutes. That's not a lot, but at least they make up for it by making the music excellent.

These guys take the slam they recorded on their EP and vastly improve upon it. The production is clear yet heavy. Don't know how they did it, but this album sounds like it was professionally recorded. The band still uses a drum machine, but it sounds a lot more complex this time around. Not only do they play lots of slow and crushing slam rhythms, but they also play some rampaging blast beats and more elaborate mid-paced rhythms that are packed full of double bass. They even perform some great fills. Nothing like that was present on their EP.

The band still does a lot of really brutal deep growls, but this time around, they also throw in some gurgles. You usually only hear that in goregrind, but they fit in quite well here. They sound like they were made by an angry sea creature. As with the drums, the guitars are vastly improved. They play a massive amount of ultra heavy slam riffs that sometimes pick up pace and transform into devious rhythms. They even throw in bits of fantastic technical flair. Although I like the complex, I actually prefer the simple slam riffs on this album because of how catchy they are. This Chinese group understands what most western slam bands do not. There's more to slam than just brutality. If you want to make good slam, then you have to include some infectious groove as well.

My only problem with this album is that it's too short. If they had included about ten more minutes worth of content, then this album would have been perfect. Of course, I still like it as it is. The Chinese aren't just exporting great black metal, they're also exporting great slam.
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