Category Archives: Reviews

Soulless

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Continuing my tribute to Cleveland metal I bring you C-town death/thrash legends Soulless. Blustering through Cleveland’s metal clubs and pubs with pure metal imperium since 1997, the band has released four full length LP’s to date, including the 1999 debut, The Darkening of Days, 2002’s Agony’s Lament, 2007’s Forever Defiant and the latest release from World Chaos Productions, In Death’s Grip. Not only is Soulless continuously recording original material, they also have appeared on several tribute albums such as Armageddon- A Tribute to Destruction, Overload II- A tribute to Metallica and Hellbent for Metal- A Tribute to Judas Priest, just to name a few.

The band has been known to tour relentlessly, opening for such acts as Nile, Macabre and Cleveland’s own Nunslaughter. The hard work has paid off as Soulless has developed quite the diehard, cult following amongst the local circuit. Soulless only continues to please the diehards with their 2013 release, In Death’s Grip by not veering far from the sound that we fell in love with in ’97. More of a thrash album than a death metal one, In Death’s Grip showcases blistering solos, anthemic choruses and catchy riffs and even epic interludes. From beginning to end the album flows nicely without a dull moment. Tracks like It Ends Tonight and Bury the Cross show tremendous growth in the musicianship of the band featuring masterfully crafted, almost progressive soloing.

Soulless stays true to their roots by covering Cleveland thrash pioneers, Destructor. The album is a must-have for thrashers and death metallers alike. As usual I will let you be the judge. Below is the sixth track off of In Death’s Grip, Bury the Cross. The full album is available for free streaming on Bandcamp as well. I’ve posted a link below. Happy Listening! Hails!

http://soulless.bandcamp.com/

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Blood Coven

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Since I started this blog, I have wanted to do a tribute to Cleveland metal. Being a Cleveland native myself, I am no stranger to the greatness that is Cleveland’s music scene, despite its being the home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The first Cleveland band I will pay homage to is the ruthless, Black/Death metal act Blood Coven.

Formed in 1993 by Dann Saladin, Blood Coven is a force to be reckoned with, terrorizing Cleveland with brutal live performances and intense new releases. Despite forming in ’93 the band only has three full length releases to date, Ashes of Autumn Burning, Battle Cult Empire and 2012’s Of Blood and Battle. The newest full length album seems to be re-mastered versions of earlier tracks compiled onto one merciless and beautifully crafted LP. The band maintains it’s distinctive sound, never watering down their unique blend of Black and Death metal for the mainstream masses. What sets Blood Coven apart form so many other Black/Death acts is their range in vocals (from shrieks to growls) and stunningly melodic, clean soloing.

While so many bands have forgotten the art of soloing, Blood Coven celebrates it, featuring a beautifully rendered solo on every track. The guitars range from melodic unmuted tones to heavy distortion and in true Black/Death adulation, the lyrics are heavily Anti-Christian. Tracks like Ashes of an Autumn Burning, An Angel’s Rage and Bloodwrath, grip the listener into a dark world of unadulterated pain, to no protestation.

The band has suffered a slew of lineup changes over the years and is currently looking for a rhythm guitarist. I am confident, however, that Blood Coven will find a guitarist soon. Until then, I welcome you into the bowels of Hell itself with Blood Coven. Happy Listening! Hails!

http://www.myspace.com/bloodcovenband

Gestalte

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Everyone once in awhile it is necessary to go above ground for some much needed fresh air. My lungs have had their fill, however and I have plummeted deeper than ever into the very core of the underground to bring you Gestalte, black metal savages, hailing from the Netherlands. There is nothing quite like traditional, no frills, raw black metal and Gestalte continues to carry black metal’s message of evil.

Gestalte, (pronounced guh-stawlt) means a unified whole in Old German. Clearly the band has extracted their name from esoteric doctrine as the lyrics indicate a deep fascination with the occult and high ceremonial magic. The band formed back in 2009 and is soon to release their first, self-titled LP under small indie label, Heidens Hart Records. The demo is spellbinding and highly evocative of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas era Mayhem. The vocals range from high shrieks to low, Atilla-like, vibrations and the guitars maintain a hypnotic repetitiveness, definitive of atmospheric black metal. The production is shoddy yet listenable, in true kvlt fashion and the blast beats invariably attack the listener.

The band has been having some troubles with their bassist Wraak, which has lead to a delay in the release of their LP. We can only hope the issues are soon resolved. Overall, the demo drew me in and I have no criticisms. As usual, I will let you be the judge of that. Below is my favorite track off their self-titled demo, Pazuzu (Winged King of Desert Spirits). Happy Listening! Hails!

http://www.myspace.com/gestalte/music

Abduction

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Doom and gloom is everywhere you look anymore. French quartet Abduction are no exception to this rule with their 2010 demo Heights’ Shivers. An intriguing mix of melody emblematic to Sweden’s distinguishable sound and shoegaze, Heights’ Shivers conjures images of dreamscapes and dead forests drenched in rain.

The demo showcases solid musicianship, catchy melodies and hypnotic acoustic interludes. Not intricate enough to be defined as progressive and not depressive enough to be shoegaze, at times the demo fails to capture a definitive feel, specifically the song Banquet for Another Dead World, leaving he listener a bit confused.

Emulating bands like Sweden’s Dammerfarben, China’s Midwinter and even early Opeth, the demo will likely please most shoegazers and headbangers alike, with progressive changes and depressive lapses, followed still by melodic black metal riffing. Time will tell if Abduction is to hone their sound to a more tangible feel. For now Heights’ Shivers is an interesting addition to my collection, but, as usual, I will let you all put this artist to the test. Happy Listening. Hails!

http://www.last.fm/music/Abduction

Herode

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You know a band kicks ass when you’re headbanging to their demo, sans company, in comfort of your bedroom. This was exactly the state of which I found myself whilst listening to Herode’s most recent demo Antichristus. From the bowels of Judecca, Canadian quartet Herode (side project of also unsigned Difamation), assaults listeners with classic, in your face, melodic death metal.

Thrashy riffs, perfectly timed breaks and demonic dual vocals characterize the band’s 2009 demo, Antichristus, leaving a scar-like impression on unsuspecting listeners. Reminiscent of bands like Dismember and Autopsy, death metal connoisseurs are sure to be pleased with tracks like Beast or State of Decay. The 2009 demo is a war march, beginning to end, never boring the listener with sloppy soloing or predictable breakdowns. Instead Herode provides catchy riffs, interesting interludes and solid production.

With only one full length release entitled Death of Vengeance and latest demo Antichristus, one’s left with the question of why the band has not released more material. We can only hope that freshly pressed, new Herode will soon be underway. For now, though, I invite you into Hell with Herode. Below are links to the bands Myspace page, Lastfm and even a live video. Happy listening. Hails!
http://www.last.fm/music/Herode
http://www.myspace.com/herodemetalband
http://www.myspace.com/zonemetalquebec72/videos/herode-quebec-2009/56365632

Appalachian Winter

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Who says America isn’t “cold”? Hailing from the ice capped mountains of Pennsylvania, I bring you Symphonic one man project Appalachian Winter. With five full length releases since 2008, visionary and brainchild behind Appalachian Winter, D.G. Klyne shows no signs of slowing down. Appalachian Winter’s unique brand of Symphonic Black/Folk Metal is sure to please even the harshest critics because, while the genre drips in cheese, there is an intelligence in the band’s sound, reminiscent of Summoning or (dare I say it) Nordland era Bathory.

In an age when Europe is so often celebrated for it’s legacy in Black Metal, Appalachian Winter seeks to put America on the map with the band’s latest release, Ghosts of the Mountains. Song titles like Rebellion Within the Young nation, Pennsylvanian Fire and The Cemetery Where Slaves Lie Buried celebrate the darkness of the American countryside. From hearty minstrels to battle hymns to sheer symphonic eargasm, Ghosts of the Mountains resonates a fullness and quality unmatched by many.

While the band’s material can be difficult to procure, D.G. Klyne has made some of his music available free for download on Lastfm.com. One can’t help but recognize the integrity of an artist willing to do that. While I’ve yet to hear a track I didn’t like, I will let readers put this artist to the test. This is the first track from new release Ghosts of the Mountains entitled Rebellion Within the Young Nation. Happy listening. Hails!

http://www.last.fm/music/Appalachian+Winter?ac=appalachian winter