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OBSCURA Akróasis

Album · 2016 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.33 | 8 ratings
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UMUR
"Akróasis" is the 4th full-length studio album by German death metal act Obscura. The album was released through Relapse Records in February 2016. It´s been 5 years since the release of "Omnivium (2011)" and in addition to a lot of touring the time has also been spend with a lot of lineup changes. In fact the only remaining member since the last album is band founder/guitarist/lead vocalist Steffen Kummerer. Lineup changes are not unusual for Obscura though, who have had quite a few prolific musicians in their fold throughout the years in artists like bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Pestilence, Mayan), drummer Hannes Grossmann (Necrophagist, Blotted Science, Eternity's End), bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Sadus, Iced Earth), and guitarist Christian Münzner (Alkaloid, Eternity's End, Spawn of Possession, Necrophagist). The new guys in the lineup on "Akróasis" are bassist Linus Klausenitzer (who has actually played with the band since 2011), drummer Sebastian Lanser, and guitarist Tom Geldschläger.

Stylistically the album opener "Sermon of the Seven Suns" continues the technical/progressive death metal style of "Omnivium (2011)", but already on the second track "The Monist" things change a bit. It´s a darker track with deeper growling vocals, and an interesting approach to composition, harmony, and structure. It´s also generally a bit more stripped down and less layered than "Sermon of the Seven Suns", and that contrast continues throughout the album. Some tracks are quite sophisticated and layered, while others feature a more stripped approach. That doesn´t mean the latter type tracks aren´t technically challenging and compositionally complex, but it´s obvious Obscura have deliberately gone for a more "bare" sound on those tracks.

In the other end of the spectrum you have a track like the closing 15:15 minutes long epic "Weltseele", which is probably the band´s most ambitious composition to date. It´s an incredibly intelligent and varied track, which proves beyond any doubt why Obscura are widely regarded as one of the most prolific contemporary technical/progressive death metal acts on the scene. Yes it´s sometimes a bit too polished and lacking grit and rawness, but on the other hand they deliver their brand of death metal with great conviction and incredible skill. Some of the things played here are designed to make your jaw drop and succeed well in doing that. Fast-paced precision drumming, technical and predominantly melodic oriented death/thrash guitar riffs and solos, and the high pitched snarling and deeper growling vocals in front. The occasional robotic vocoder voice part is also a part of the soundscape (Cynic style).

"Akróasis" features a powerful, clear, and detailed sound production, which suits Obscura´s sound pretty well. The choice to remove some of the omnipresent layering of sounds on some of the tracks on the album, is really successful to my ears. It makes "Akróasis" a more varied listen than "Omnivium (2011)". Not necessarily a better or more consistent release than the predecessor but definitely more varied and occassionally also a bit more raw.

Upon conclusion "Akróasis" is yet another high quality technical/progressive death metal album by Obscura. Despite the many lineup changes and years between albums, Obscura have maintained their signature sound, but made just enough adjustments and little changes to said sound to not grow stale. The compositions are sophisticated, powerful, and intriguing, the sound production professional and detailed, and the musicianship is on a high level on all posts. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

ARTILLERY Penalty By Perception

Album · 2016 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.18 | 10 ratings
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Warthur
Danish thrash metal legends Artillery offer an album cover worthy of their name, and accompanying it an album of fantastically forceful thrash metal with some power metal influences worked in to keep things fresh. Hopefully this gets them the attention they've always deserved but never quite managed to get in the shade of more prominent thrash metal behemoths, because this material would be absolutely incredible to hear in a live setting; then again, the excellent production job done here means that listening to these studio renditions is an absolute pleasure. It can be a bit cheesy here and there, but that never stopped Anthrax, did it?

MEDEVIL Conductor of Storms

Album · 2016 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
Enter the "medevil" times

Genre: traditional metal / US power metal

Enter Medevil from Chilliwack in Canada. Their debut album "Conductor of Storms" is to be released on August 2016 by the band themselves.

Stylistically, "Conductor of Storms" combines traditional metal with US power metal, peppering it with a bit of thrash metal. The listener is treated to classic-sounding heavy metal riffs packaged into compositions that slightly update the traditional metal sound and add the oomph of US power metal, which is especially present in 'Nightwalk' and 'Machination Factory' as well as in 'Escape'. 'A Sacrifice' is more of traditional metal track, rich in guitar harmonies and galloping rhythms. A very good example of the thrashier side of the album is 'An Empty Glass' which falls is more of a power-thrash affair. 'In the Distance' is an instrumental which strikes me as being almost cautious compared to the rest of the album. In a way, that does create an interesting sense of dynamics. The ballad 'The Angel of Rain' deviates even more, as it appears to be considerably inspired by 90s alternative rock. That's not a bad thing. It's just different. The magnum opus on the album is the epic 12-minute track 'The Fabled Uxoricide' in which Medevil venture unscathed deep into progressive territory, treating us to twists and turns as well as complex layers of harmonies and melodies.

The production is pretty good, and the sound is round and warm rather than sharp and cold. The guys in the band display solid songwriting skills and an admirable level of musicianship across the board. Liam Collingwood's vocals might be an acquired taste, but, seeing that his voice sounds like a blend of Udo Dirkschneider, Mark "The Shark" Shelton, and Biff Byford, there's no doubt that hi singing style suits this kind of music very well.

Overall, "Conductor of Storms" is a pretty strong debut album indicating that this band has great talent and great potential. Fans of traditional metal as well as US power metal should definitely invest in this album. It is definitely an album I will listen to again.

DEAD EARTH POLITICS The Mobius Hammersmith

EP · 2016 · Groove Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Time Signature
Where groove meets melody...

Genre: melodic modern metal

Dead Earth Politics have chosen to release their material in small packages, this being the most recent in a string of EPs and just one full-length effort. Well, I guess the principle that good things come in small packages applies here.

The listener is treated to five tracks which, true to Dead Earth Politics' style, combine melodic elements from traditional metal with groove metal and a tad of thrash metal. All five tracks are considerably melodic and, rather than just churning out one pentatonic riff after another, Dead Earth Politics deploy melodic twin guitars and somewhat sophisticated song structures. Just check out 'Balancing the Broken Scales' or 'Wretched Things'. The choruses are also very melodic and have a certain sing-along appeal. In fact, while there are groovy elements, this EP has much more in common with both traditional metal and melodic modern metal than your stereotypical groove metal.

For a self-released EP, the production is very good, and professionalism emanates from the release. The songwriting displayed on the album is top notch, and the band's affinity for melody is particularly attractive. The vocals have a dark feel to them and are perhaps best described as falling somewhere between black album era James Hetfield and "Draconian Times" Nick Holmes peppered with a couple of growls and screams.

I was very positively surprised with this EP. Fans of melodic modern metal should definitely check this one out.

FALLUJAH Dreamless

Album · 2016 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art 4.33 | 9 ratings
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voila_la_scorie
There are times when the cover art of an album is enough to convince me that I have to buy it, and even if I don’t totally get into the music after a trial listen on YouTube, I feel that artwork must be mine and I will somehow appreciate the album’s musical content no matter. I’m pretty open-minded that way. (snicker) So when I saw this album cover here for Fallujah’s third album “Dreamless”, I felt compulsively that it had to get into my collection.

The music is both simple and difficult to describe. Basically, it is heavy modern metal with aggressive blast beats, heavy guitar played both with speed and slower ponderous chords played at non-standard intervals in a bar. “Ba-downg, downg… downg… downg, downg-ba-downg…" There are more technical parts too which does make the performance more interesting. The vocals are that bellowing/roaring/growling style more commonly known as death vocals or death growl. It often sounds to me more like Beelzebub is trying to talk through a hurricane. There is, however, another factor to the music and this is what sealed the deal for me, so to speak. There is a lead guitar that either wails hauntingly over the aggressiveness of the rest of the band or it plays lead-like melodies of great dexterity. Okay, the guitar doesn’t play it; let’s give credit to Scott Carstairs or Brian James, the band’s two guitarists, though I’m not certain who takes the lead if not both.

Describing the music further, the rhythm guitar seems to follow one of two approaches: either a thrash-like attack on a chord or variations on a finger configuration based on a chord. My friend and I used to do this on our guitars back in the nineties. We’d play a standard bar chord but remove the finger of the lowest string alternately, occasionally using that finger to bend the string, all the while never changing the position of the other fingers. It sounded really heavy and cool but in those days we didn’t think that was a real riff and nobody would ever think to create a song around that playing style anyway. Well, in actuality it might not be as simple as I’ve described it but it still sounds cool. And these days, lots of people are doing this it seems. So basically we have much of the band going for full-on aggressive metal with those roaring vocals. But this other guitar really adds a layer of beauty that is quite ear-catching. I don’t know if this is a new trend among metal bands but it’s the first I’ve heard it. There are also moments where the intensity is dropped and clean, delayed guitar notes and chords add a new dimension. There’s also a song or two that feature soaring, aethereal female vocals which really adds a wonderful contrast, and one song that actually includes a more normal-sounding male vocal contribution.

There are two things to say in critic of the album. The first is that I find the roaring vocals too prevalent. A little more of non-death vocal style would have given the beautiful and haunting lead guitar parts more purpose. The songs with the female vocals sound the best in this way because they complement the higher guitar part while the gruff death vocals go with the aggressive rhythm guitar. And hey, if you’re going to take the time to write lyrics then why not be sure that they are at least to some degree discernable. I mean, near the end of one song, all I can make out is, “STRAAWWW. QUAALM!” Actually, I think this is the song “Scar Queen”.

The other point is that all but two tracks follow a similar formula. Yes, checking out any one song or two makes this album seem like a treasure of audio delights. But as I listened to the album the other morning while out walking and my thoughts became distracted, when I returned my attention to the music after a few minutes I felt I hadn’t missed anything. But I have to consider that this is the band’s third album and in many cases, it is the third album where the band have really found out where they want to be and some of the most highly rated albums in rock history have been the third album.

Two tracks are entirely different and they are “Fidelio” which features some simple but pretty piano with supporting music and a dialogue between a woman and a man about a dream she had (the album is entitled “Dreamless” remember?) and how now that she is awake she is back in reality. The other track is “Les Silences” which is more of an atmospheric electronic piece with drum programming and a man’s voice speaking in French. It is a rather intriguing track because it works very well and it delivers a distraction from the formula that comprises the 10 other tracks.

For a listen, you can find some songs on YouTube, and I think I would recommend “The Void Alone” because it includes the lyrics and the female vocals. I think it’s a pretty good album for adding some variety to my collection and largely for the combination of that ultra-aggressive style and that sometimes soaring, sometimes technical lead guitar. But in some ways I also find myself thinking that I still love the artwork more than I actually enjoy the music on the whole album. The cover just seems to promise more than what is actually present. Or perhaps just less bellow roaring would have improved my overall impression.

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BORIS Amplifier Worship

Album · 1998 · Sludge Metal
Cover art 4.27 | 16 ratings
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Warthur
Boris tend to vary a bit in releases between more purist drone and drone metal - the distinction being in how much in the way they lean on their post-rock and ambient influences and how many meaty Black Sabbath-on-valium riffs they work into their music. To my ears, the balance on Amplifier Worship is very much towards drone metal; take, for instance, album closer vomitself, which begins in slow doom metal territory and then somehow degrades into a grumbling earth tremor of a track. Goodness knows what the frog on the cover is supposed to represent, but ultimately what metalhead could go far wrong with an album called Amplifier Worship?

UNANIMATED In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead

Album · 1993 · Death Metal
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Unanimated. The album was released through No Fashion Records in February 1993. "In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead" has a pretty interesting release history as there exist three versions with three different cover artworks. Unanimated are usually counted among the elite Swedish blackened/melodic death metal acts from the early- to mid nineties along with artists like Dissection, early Marduk, and Necrophobic. They didn´t receive much recognition (only from a cult audience) or achieved commercial success while they were initially active though and they disbanded after releasing their second full-length studio album "Ancient God of Evil (1995)". They´ve since reformed and released their third full-length studio album "In the Light of Darkness (2009)".

Stylistically the music on "In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead" reminds me a lot of early Necrophobic. Occult lyrical themes, a singer that delivers both raspy black metal styled vocals and death metal growling in a very convincing and commanding fashion, melodic guitar leads and a generally dark and epic atmosphere. Keyboards are used occasionally, but always as an atmosphere enhancer, seldom as a lead instrument. The riffing style varies from brutal death metal riffs, tremolo picked blackened riffing and occasionally rythmic thrashy riffing. The band are well playing and the performances on this album are generally pretty strong.

Some tracks stand out a bit more than others though and if I have to mention a minor issue with "In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead", it´s the inconsistency of quality of the material. The best tracks like "Blackness of the Fallen Star", "Whispering Shadows", and "Through the Gates" are absolutely brilliant blackened death metal tracks, but there are a couple of more unremarkable tracks on the album too. Especially the ones which employ more thrash tinged riffing, stand out as the least interesting tracks on the album. I think it has a lot to do with the band using demo material for the album, and maybe not being critical enough of that material. To their defence it should be mentioned though that quite a few of their demo tracks (which are among the best tracks on the album) are of a very high quality.

The sound production is raw and powerful and has the right darkness to it, to suit the music. Overall it´s not the most well produced album in the genre, but still an enjoyable listen and of course a mandatory listen for fans of early- to mid 90s blackened melodic death metal. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

KORPSE Mirror Distance

Boxset / Compilation · 2005 · Death Metal
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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UMUR
"Mirror Distance" is a compilation album by Scottish, Aberdeen based death metal act Korpse. The compilation was released through Aphelion Productions in December 2005. The band existed from 1990 to 1997 and released two full-length studio albums in that period. "Mirror Distance" is not a "best of" compilation of tracks from the two Korpse studio albums, but a "rarities" type compilation featuring demo material, studio outtakes and single tracks. So if you have in your possession "Mirror Distance" and the band´s two full-lengths, you have everything the band ever released. Quite a few of the tracks made it onto the studio albums, but here they are presented in their original raw form.

Korpse play a pretty odd type of death metal/deathgrind (a feeling that is further enhanced by song titles like "Octochoosy", "To be Continued", and "Vitamin F"), which features elements from both death, grind, sludge, psychadelic rock, and death´n´roll. Something that wasn´t necessarily the order of the day back when these tracks were recorded. The stylistic mish mash doesn´t always work well but when the band strike the right balance between the musical styles, you can hear there is potential somewhere within the often messy compositions and raw productions. Comparisons to early Disharmonic Orchestra and Pungent Stench aren´t completely wrong. Korpse are a trio and there is a raw and unpolished organic quality to their playing, which is often the case with trios and one of the charming things about them. There is simply more freedom, when there isn´t a second guitarist or keyboard player who has to fit in or a vocalist who solely does vocals in the band.

As the material on the 18 track, 74:45 minutes long compilation are taken from various releases, the sound quality differ throughout the release, but even though most of tracks come from demo releases, the production values are actually of a pretty good quality. It´s raw and sometimes sligthly murky, but the unpolished sound work well with the equally unpolished and raw sounding material. After initial doubts about what this was all about, "Mirror Distance" is a release that has grown on me and I find it a pretty good compilation/rarities album and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

S.O.D. Speak English or Die

Album · 1985 · Crossover Thrash
Cover art 4.59 | 9 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
Something incredible happened after the release of the movie Spinal Tap in 1984. It suddenly gave metal music the permission to not take shit so seriously. While many metal rockers would continue down the narcissistic path and end up supporting the makeup and hairspray world making me wish i could travel back to the 80s and buy stock in the cosmetic industry, a few brave souls had the gonads to try something way different for the time. The year 1985 saw the development of humor in metal music but also began the era of crossover thrash that took the best offerings of hardcore punk and mixed them with the newly burgeoning elements of thrash metal. While similar bands like Carnivore entered the arena, i would have to credit STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH aka S.O.D. as the most interesting band of this era of not only crossing over the thrash and punk elements musically but basically not giving a flying bleep about political correctness. SPEAK ENGLISH OR DIE is their debut.

S.O.D. was an early splinter band from Anthrax where Ian Scott reunited with former “Fistful Of Metal” bassist and fellow Anthrax founder Dan Lilker along with another Anthrax entity, drummer Charlie Benante. The whole idea came from Scott Ian who after only one album with Anthrax was already chomping at the bit to express his less serious side where he could raise multiple middle fingers to the world and spit in the face of political correctness. It began as Scott’s doodlings of a character called “Sargent D” during the “Spreading The Disease” studio sessions where he would accompany his drawings with slogans like “I’m not racist, i hate everyone.” Keep in mind that this was the Reagan era in 1980s USA where faux conservatism was manufacturing all kinds of stupid nonsensical new paradigms of the religious right in their pursuit to sterilize all differences and to instill obsequious deference to the new power structure. Well fuck that!

This is the perfect antithesis to political correctness (today more than ever!) and guarantees to offend everybody if taken seriously in the least bit. In short, words can be weapons and don’t necessarily convey the reality of the true intent of the speaker. This album is all about deconstructing such verbal manipulations and creating a parallel faux universe where words construct a paradigm without any true meaning, so if you get all hoity toity and take this shit seriously then you are truly missing the point of the whole thing. Personally i don’t give a flying fuck about lyrics for the most part, at least in metal music and if i like the passion delivered in the music itself, that’s enough for me to get excited about. So fuck it all and bang your fucking heads, bitches.

This album is just brilliant. It somehow manages to incorporate all the principles of hardcore punk: shouted vocals, sloppy guitar riffs with bass and drums but thrashifies them with vengeance meaning guitar riffs are faster, drumbeats are faster and well, everything is faster! The punk meets metal elements have never fornicated as well as they do here and could possibly be prohibited under anti-beastiality laws in some states, but for me and my sickened brain, this is a cross genre ecstatic dance of the most opposing extreme musical genres dancing offering a musical truce in order to defeat a mutual enemy. Although i couldn’t swear to it, i would bet that this could qualify as an unholy sacramental listening experience endorsed by Jello Biafra, James Hetfield and Jesus anti-fucking-christ himself. For 1985 this must have come as a complete left field curve ball. Thrash music was merely in its nascency and suddenly already splintering off into a fireworks display of sonic pyrotechnics.

All i can say is that i truly dig this shit. S.O.D. nails the punk elements, marries it with thrash ferocity, injects the proper comedic politically derisory elements which have no true intended meaning but are designed to be as societally caustic as the distorted musical frenzy that has solely one goal in mind and that is to offend everyone except for, of course, the unoffendable! This is one of the fucking narliest metal albums ever to come out at any point in time. It is a short but sweet experience not even a half hour in length but manages to push all the proper dysphemistic societal buttons for the ages. This is relevant even in this day and age. With all the political hyperbole trying to create societal divisions, one has to appreciate a metal band that can just say FUCK OFF WORLD!

Quickie trivia: The track “Milano Mosh” was the theme track on MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball” in the 80s and 90s AND… well, that’s it really.

This album REALLY stands out amongst the competition. Every single element is perfect. This is a classic of the ages.

It is basically celebrates a “coming-of-age” mentality when you realize that the world is nothing more than fucked up mind control shit where everyone is trying to fuck with your mind and induct you into their cult but once you stop giving a serious flying fuck, everything is OK once again.

So go fuck yourselves and listen to this goddamn masterpiece already.

TESTAMENT The Legacy

Album · 1987 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 4.12 | 44 ratings
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Warthur
Testament's The New Order left me cold because it felt like a slickly produced but ultimately slightly vacuous Metallica rip-off. Imagine my delight, then, to discover in The Legacy a rough and ready thrash album with a substantially more distinctive character. It's evident from the sound that the band couldn't get a top-flight studio and a big budget for this one, but they didn't need one - not when they had a slate of songs this strong from their days as The Legacy to assault the listener with. It's a shame that what (to me at least) was their sophomore slump put me off exploring this album for as long as it did, because this is great.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD Nightmare

Album · 2010 · Traditional heavy metal
Cover art 3.58 | 29 ratings
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Warthur
Ugh, this is awkward. You see, Jimmy "the Rev" Sullivan died whilst Avenged Sevenfold were in the process of making this one, and Mike Portnoy - then towards the end of his tenure in Dream Theater, though nobody knew it at the time - stepped into the breach to record the drum parts on the album and lend a hand with the subsequent tour. So you have this album which not only involves all the pain involved when a band member dies but also sees Portnoy doing the group a massive favour in order to get the album out.

It's a bit unfortunate, then that the album just... er... isn't very good. Avenged Sevenfold's particular style of pop-metal with the odd Rob Zombie production affectation isn't something I am particularly warm to from the start, of course, but the whole thing sounds thin and weirdly calculated and insincere, and M. Shadows vocals are flat-out weak. An album more significant for the role it played both in the band's history and Mike Portnoy's career trajectory than it is for any of its actual music, I'm afraid.

ANCIENT Svartalvheim

Album · 1994 · Melodic Black Metal
Cover art 3.72 | 6 ratings
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Warthur
Before Ancient outed themselves as a gang of shameless Vampire: the Masquerade LARPers on The Cainian Chronicle, they put out this beast of an album, which is rather more aggressive and direct than its successor whilst still having melodic sensibilities. Part of the difference in sound comes down to the shift in the lineup; whilst Aphazel had a full band collaborating with him on subsequent releases, here it's just him on guitar, bass and keyboards and Grimm on vocals and drums. Grimm would depart from the group before The Cainian Chronicle sessions, and I suspect his hand here was responsible for the more frenetic direction of the music; certainly, his lyrics focus on more traditional black metal themes of Satan, wolves, forests and winter, with a pinch of Cthulhu to spice things up.

AMON AMARTH Twilight of the Thunder God

Album · 2008 · Melodic Death Metal
Cover art 3.92 | 29 ratings
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Warthur
At this stage in their career assigning ratings to an Amon Amarth album is a slightly arbitrary exercise; you always know what you're going to get (solid melodic death metal inspired by a range of Scandinavian myths), and you know the band are going to deliver it with the quality and polish we've all come to expect from them, and whaddya know it? Twilight of the Thunder God delivers all that in a compact, no-nonsense 44 minutes. Some may accuse Amon Amarth of making the same album over and over, but when the album in question is this good I can't get too upset about that.

CHEVELLE This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In)

Album · 2004 · Alternative Metal
Cover art 3.95 | 2 ratings
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Unitron
This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us in) is the third studio album from alternative metal band Chevelle. With the previous album propelling the band's popularity and being a great album on top of that, This Type of Thinking had quite the standard to follow up on.

Stylistically it follows in the same vein as Wonder What's Next, although it focuses on the melodic bits more this time around. There are still some crushing tracks, like opener "The Clincher", which is easily my favorite on the album and among my favorite Chevelle songs. The menacing yet driving guitar riff combined with Pete Loeffler's screams just make it difficult to not headbang. "Another Know It All" is probably the second most crushing track. Is it just me, or does the opening guitar of the aforementioned song sound similar to the main riff in Dream Theater's "The Dark Eternal Night"?

Out of the majority of songs, the more melodic ones, it's pretty hit or miss. Some of them are absolute killers, like "Breach Birth" and "Emotional Drought", while songs such as single "Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)" and "Panic Prone" just fall flat. The final song, "Bend the Bracket", mixes things up taking form as an menacing acoustic piece. Of the killer tracks, the aforementioned "Emotional Drought" is, despite the title, one of the most emotionally charged songs along with "The Clincher". It perfectly mixes the crushing riffs of the heaviest songs with some very passionate vocals from Pete Loeffler.

Like with the previous albums, the lyrics remain cryptic although some of the lyrics are among the band's best. "Emotional Drought"'s lyrics have a subtle political hint, but at the same time could be a clever metaphor for something more personal. These cryptic metaphors are one of the reasons I love the band, they leave most of the lyrics up to the listener.

While not reaching the heights of the previous album, This Type of Thinking is still a strong album, and contains some of Chevelle's best songs. While not the best, this album is still a good start for anyone getting into the band. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!

SHINING I: Within Deep Dark Chambers

Album · 2000 · Depressive Black Metal
Cover art 3.62 | 5 ratings
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siLLy puPPy
There are some people who are just born to be unhappy despite living in the most fortunate of circumstances. For some reason, Scandinavia has plenty of unhappy souls despite having one of the highest standards of living in the world. Such is the case with young Niklas Kvarforth who started his depressive black metal band SHINING (the Swedish band, not the Norwegian jazz-metal group of the same name) at the tender age of 12. Depressive black metal set itself apart early on in the 90s distinguishing itself other black metal in that it doesn’t focus on misanthropy or Satanic themes but rather on self-destruction and all the negative emotions associated with suicide and self hatred. WITHIN DEEP DARK CHAMBERS is the full debut album by Kvarforth who contributes vocals, guitar and keyboard with his lineup of other sickened souls: Tusk on bass, Ted Wedebrand on drums and additional disturbed vocalizations by Andreas Classen.

This debut album is pretty much in line with the depressive black metal scene of the 90s in that it utilizes an overall repetitive, hypnotic and monotonous feel that incorporates the wall of sound guitar frenzy with atmospheric keys, occasional chimes and midstream drums meaning that blastbeats are uncommon and the drums lazily accompany the fuzz feed frenzy. Perhaps the most “depressive” aspect of SHINING’s first album is not only the uncompromising fury of the music but mostly of Kvarforth’s anguished and tortured vocals above all else. This is one of those albums that simply excels in distressed fury and keeps me on pins and needles wondering if dude isn’t gonna do himself in on the final track just to have a musical place in history. Fortunately not so as i like future SHINING albums better than this one. But wow. This definitely fits the depressive black metal bill. Not recommended as music for grandma’s funeral.

While this album excels at keeping every shimmer of light from entering the boarded up windows and screams a razor blade, case of aspirin with vodka and carbon monoxide party, the music is fairly straight forward as this was before SHINING started experimenting with more progressive elements as to add more sophistication to self-hating pity party. The music here has the regular black metal buzzsaw grunge, where the guitars and bass are one and the raspy vocals wax and wane between traumatic black metal tantrums about how horrible the world is with utter resignation to the life sucks affirmations. The weakness here is the percussion as it is as languid as a salamander in the arctic and merely keeps the beat and not much else. Overall, this is a decent slice of depressive black metal but some of the tracks which hint towards progressiveness such as “Stonelands” and “And Only Silence Remains…” tend to meander for far too long, however the inclusion of church bells and slow parts in the latter does make it a bit more interesting at times.

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Nervous Mothers / Art Of Burning Water Sludge Metal
ART OF BURNING WATER
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