Today we have a bumper pack of reviews for you. Within the mix below we have Norwegian punk, Cypriot atmospheric black metal, and two Swedish bands, one doom/death metal and the other melodic thrash metal. What two things unite such an eclectic bunch? All of them are just a bit off-kilter, and all of them are free to download! Aren’t you all so lucky?
Those Norwegians, always subverting the norms of music. From the country that gave us Kvelertak and Man The Machetes comes another band taking their own stab at reinventing punk, although naturally you can’t make something entirely new in this genre without addressing the old. Shevils, straight outta Oslo, do just that on their new single “We Walk On Shattered Glass”, a continuation of the sound set out on the Necropolis EP. What sound is this, I hear you ask? Read on.
When the track fires up, you can be forgiven for thinking it bases its roots in Muse with the thick “Uprising”-like bass-line that kicks in. However, soon a more familiar, highly atonal and noisy brand of punk emerges, bringing to mind Blacklisters in some odd way. The band never quite stay in one place and drag the listener with them, whether in the stoner-esque verses or the noise-driven choruses, but you can be sure that there is catchiness in the madness. Unconventional as the rest of the song, the lyrics feature a tip of the cap to the influence of Converge in the line “You know how to be Jane Doe”. Unhinged screams from Anders Voldrønning comprise most of the vocals, with backing shouts from the rest of the band, all of which suit the chaotic atmosphere while painting Voldrønning in the mind’s eye as one very engaging frontman.
If off-kilter punk gets you fired up, then Shevils ought to scratch that itch for you, assuming you can reach it for the flying limbs around the living room.
Check out Shevils on Facebook here.
This next band also appear to have completely defied customary genre tags. Stormcast, hailing from the sunny climes of Cyprus, tread a very unconventional path in their second demo release. The sound can best be described as a theatrical melting pot, blending melodic variants of black and death metal, with a smidgeon of gothic-esque atmosphere for seasoning.
The result is nothing if not bewildering, but it works solidly in their favor, as each of the three tracks use this template to even further devious ends. “Of Flesh And Stone”, the opening track, starts off with a strong singing voice before the more familiar harsh snarl drops in to cement the band in the more ‘extreme’ end of the musical spectrum. The whole sound, particularly the guitar work, gives off the pleasant scent of Moonspell, although the song slowly progresses through various increasingly-engaging sections before the final captivating and thundering conclusion. Appetite definitively whetted.
The other two tracks have their own spice rack to play with; “Wishful Bliss” sees a Borknagar-esque meloblack climate collide head-on with Blynd‘s thrash-melodeath mix for a fascinating result, where again the guitar work and vocals dominate. “Withdrawn”, conversely, evokes a slowed-down blackened thrash metal alloy that mellows out to a fantastic climax, topped off with a grandiose choir. What must be said is that, for a self-released demo, the mixing has had a pretty solid job done to it and serves its purpose in showcasing Stormcast’s musical talents.
If quality metal from unusual countries makes your ears prick up, or you generally have an interest in melodic black/death metal, then be sure to grab a free download of Stormcast’s demo on their website here.
Check out Stormcast on Facebook here.
And so we move into the doom-death realm, a realm not generally renowned for off-the-wall eclecticism. Swedish twosome Soliloquium have served up a second release of desolate and melancholic metal. However, while the doom-death tropes are very much out in force on their sophomore Concept Of Escape EP, they also slide in some aspects of ‘metalgaze’ to round out their sound more fully, and add a sense of the ethereal to the hybrid.
Opener “Crossroads” starts out as standard fare: a distorted groove is overlain with a high-end tremolo à la Saturnus, before the band slide into a more mellow and ethereal mode, including forlorn cleans that somewhat echo Alcest‘s Neige, although not to the same quality. They seem almost faltering, in particular on closer “Nighttime Revelations”, conveying a narrator lost in this dense foggy production. Conversely, Nordström’s harsh vocals consist of a respectable grunt and shriek that are much stronger, and strangely catchy when they belt out the chorus of “Remnants Of Dying Dreams”, catchy not being a word normally associated with doom metal.
Musically the band have a very particular style, which works for and against them. On the one hand, the Concept Of Escape EP is certainly a focused effort that effectively blends the doom-death and metalgaze approaches, achieving its goals commendably. The guitar and bass melodies are excellent, particularly as “Crossroads” comes to a close, and session drummer Mortuz does an admirable job in providing the backbone of the tracks. However, the listener gets the feeling of treading a familiar path, and the fingerprints of Katatonia, Novembre et al start to appear upon closer inspection. Putting Soliloquium in this context does remove some of the allure, but overall the band deliver the goods, and give reassurance that the there is life in the doom-death scene yet.
Check out Soliloquium on Facebook here.
Regrettably, this last release is off-kilter for all the wrong reasons. The recently formed Deception have everything going for them on paper for a solid release; they’re Swedish, they play melodic thrash metal and the EP’s cover art is simple yet effective. So why is it that Break The Silence fails to make such an impact?
Part of the blame falls on the tracklisting and a rather underwhelming first impression; the opening title track sells the band as a Pantera-inspired groove-thrash act. “Break The Silence” starts on a rather generic riff that underuses the dual guitarists, before Daniel Färninger’s gruff quasi-spoken word takes over, and a chorus made up of the words “break, break the silence”. It’s not until the harmonized solos roll around, high quality as befitting thrash, that things actually pick up, and mercifully the track that follows, “Bury The Sinners”, capitalizes on this newfound melody. This time the song starts off with the guitars in a more melodeath vein before the thrash-speed drumwork kicks in. Färninger’s vocals also miraculously improve, echoing parts of latter-day Chuck Billy as he sings “It’s time for humanity to bury the sinners”. The flipside of this EP encounters a similar problem; “Fragile” balances Insipid Riff Syndrome with an incredible outro solo section, and “Make A Deal With The Reaper” remedies the above-mentioned illness with some prominent bass playing under the riffs, and an addictive chorus to boot.
While Deception have clearly spent time honing their craft, the 15 minutes that make up Break The Silence allow little room to develop an individual sound, essential for modern bands that aren’t paying direct homage to their idols. Mashing together Panterian groove and thrash of both Teutonic and American varieties is all well and good, but there is not much of a lasting impression once the EP rounds to a close. Thrash fanatics can pick up the EP for Name Your Price on Bandcamp, but I wouldn’t recommend this EP to those unfamiliar with the genre.
Check out Deception on Facebook here.