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Music Reviews: Meltgsnow, Shadowgarden, Atrocity, King Giant, Dark Age, The Breathing Process

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Its that time of the week again and here is another collection of metal reviewed. Its diverse and from all corners of the world. The language of heavy rock and metal is truly universal.

CD Reviews

Meltgsnow: Black Penance

The first thing that is striking about this lot is not about the music, which is decent goth metal, but their land of origin. They come from a land that starts with S, but it ain’t part of Scandinavia. Would you believe this bunch come from Singapore, that city state in the Far East? Singapore is a fairly rigid society, so it’s even more surprising these guys are as good as they are. Even more interesting is that they recorded some of this in Thailand, as well as touring that nation.

They have been around since 1999 and clearly have been honing their chops. This is a solid release of goth metal that, while not ground-breaking, is satisfying enough to keep any fan of the genre happy. The band were clever enough to have the album mastered by Jens Bogren, who has worked with a whole myriad of top dark metal acts including Katatonia and the mighty Opeth.

The only criticism I can think of which could be seen as a tad petty is the fact that the band have little of what you call local color in their sound. It does come across as a bit too much like what else is out there. A band to watch certainly.

Shadowgarden: Ashen

This bunch of annoyingly talented Swedes is listed in some places as without a label, but you would never guess it. This is a tight goth-tinged power metal album with a variety of vocal styles. They wallow in the harder end of the world of Within Temptation and Tristania, especially on the track “With Love and a Bullet.” The track is not only catchy as stink it has a quality to it that is dare I say it “danceable” without being twee.

Then again there is a reason the band is so tight and professional. It is in fact, especially on the above mentioned song, the band Draconian with all four members appearing in various capacities: A side-project of two of the members of the band who seemed to have roped in their band-mates depending on the songs. It would be possible to wonder what the point of a new band name is, but I am sure they have their reasons. There is a subtle difference between the two bands, but one that would be lost on all but the most anal genre junkies.

As you can imagine it’s a mix of full male, full female, and combinations there of depending on the tracks. This is a solid release set to attract listeners of bands of this ilk. I quite enjoyed listening to this set of tunes and found nothing objectionable. If they keep producing catchy tracks like most of them here they should go far. Another band to watch certainly.

Atrocity Featuring Yasmin: After the Storm

They are called Atrocity and they use that poncy “featuring” tag normal reserved from crap Euro-trash pop singles that go in one ear and out the other. Even better their label refers to the band as “ethno metal.” So needless to say I had a no clue what to expect from this bunch, except being from Napalm I expected something heavy. And I would be wrong, quite wrong, in fact.

This is far more goth metal or even just goth heavy rock than anything else. Probably because they toss in all sorts of ethnic chanting they are considered ethno metal. I have no idea what the heck the tag means or who came up with it. The reason they are called Atrocity is because they were once a death metal band before morphing into the goth heavy rock outfit they are today. Also amusing is that if you add Liv Kristine to the line-up (who is the wife of the wonderfully named Alexander Krull) the band morphs into Viking fantasy goth metal of Leave’s Eyes for the share the same members. In fact Yasmin Krull is a session musician/vocalist on this release.

So what the Krull is this any good/? In fact it is; there is enough unusual instruments and vocal variations to make it quite interesting. Beautifully crafted epic soundscapes will either bore you stiff with its pretentiousness or will totally enthral you. I go for the latter and I highly recommend this album.

King Giant: Southern Darkness

The heavy metal banjo intro for the track “13 to” had me hooked on this release. Think of them as Black Label Society with a touch more stoner and a Skynrd about them. They are unsigned as of yet, and they come from the just into the South state of Virginia, but they positively ooze the deep south. Think a combination of outlaw country and biker metal; that is pretty much what these guys are about.

Case in point “Mississippi River” which is a heavier Johnny Cash or Shooter Jennings rocking out and delivering. In fact Shooter and these guys should tour, would be a great combo package. Can you just imagine a sing-along with Shooter and the band on their track “Lady Whiskey?” Forget the vanity project that is HellYeah and check out these guys for the real deal. The stoner tag which has been attached to them is probably a bit inaccurate.

Whichever way you slice it or approach this bunch you are going to be pleased. Its an infectious slab of Southern-fried, outlaw country-tinged heavy rock. Great stuff for a steaming hot humid summer day, when you need something that fits your mood. A band that needs to be at Sturgis next year, that is for sure.

Dark Age: Acedia

Much is made of the trade-off between melodic vocals and screaming ones (not screamo hard-core but just screaming), over a keyboard heavy sound. There is a touch of “modern” sound to this release which works more or less. At times there is a feeling of industrial music of Killing Joke and that ilk.

At other times its almost a Depeche Mode like feel to songs. “Snake of June” comes across as almost poppy track that seems to be aimed at the goth/industrial dance scene. There is the stench of nu-metal and Linken Park about it, which does not sit that well. Repeated listens do not reduce the confusion or lack of appreciation of the CD.

Overall the album comes across as a bit of a mish-mash, at times samey and lacking direction. Those expecting a good dash of melodic death probably should look elsewhere, that includes old fans of this band. It would be unfair to say this is a bad album, because it isn’t; it’s just not what you would expect. It’s possible this is a transition album that shows where the band wants to head. It is, however, less about melodic death and far more about industrial pop music.

The Breathing Process: Odyssey: (Un)Dead

The bumf on this one said its varied and diverse. You would be hard pressed to find either. It’s mostly unimaginative keyboard lines mixed in with the typical death metal drumming and riffing with some bloke singing unintelligibly over the top. Sure there is a mixture of screamed and “sung” vocal lines, but there is not much between them. Besides the odd interesting keyboard line, this is pretty boring extreme metal. There seems to be progressive metal keyboards lines tossed in randomly on the tracks.

This is very much a boring mess that never really gets interesting at all. It’s more a kitchen sink release with the band seemingly not knowing what they are doing. Rather than the epic bleakness of symphonic metal, which I think they are going for, it just comes across as half-baked. Too clever by half if you will. There are blips of actual worthwhile songs like “Vulture(s)” which is listenable and interesting. They seem to have gotten the mixture just about right on this track and produce something worthy of your attention.

Overall it’s a very confusing album of mostly dross. What were the band aiming for with this release? This is album to me is a load of ole’ trying too hard bollocks. A boring extreme metal album is quite an achievement.

On that sour note, that is your lot for this week. As always please stay safe and rocking.

 

 

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