April 2004 Archives

Viikate: Kuolleen miehen kuplettiCD, Ranka Recordings 2004

Track list: Kuolleen miehen kupletti - Kaakko - Katoan - Sirkkelimiehen viitonen - Vasten kuutamon siltaa (Night of the Vampire)

New EP from Viikate features one track from their previous album, Surut pois ja kukka rintaan and then some. The new tracks are pretty good, I think, but nothing amazing. If you like Viikate, you'll know what you get. ***

Cure, The: Disintegration

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The Cure: DisintegrationCD, Fiction Records 1989

Track list: Plainsong - Pictures of You - Closedown - Lovesong - Last Dance - Lullaby - Fascination Street - Prayers for Rain - The Same Deep Water as You - Disintegration - Homesick - Untitled

While I'm not quite sure if I agree with the South Park assesment of this album ("Disintegration is the best album ever"), it's certainly one of the best albums The Cure has ever made (my other favourites include Faith, Pornography, Boys Don't Cry and Wish). Good songs and what's best, it's chock full of atmosphere. It is very much what Cure does best, really. Such a shame it took me so long before I finally bought it (but Cure albums have always been surprisingly expensive in Finland, for some reason). *****

Cans: Beyond the Gates

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Cans: Beyond the GatesCD, Noise Records 2004

Track list: Fields of Yesterday - Soul Collector - Red Light - Back to Hell - Beyond the Gates - The Key - Garden of Evil - Merciless - Silent Cries - Dreams - Signs - Forever Ends

Joacim Cans is the vocalist from Hammerfall and this is his solo album. It's heavy metal, no surprises there and I guess nobody is surprised to hear Cans does the vocals very well. The songs are definitely decent and the whole album is, should I say, mature. I like it, it's very honest in a way. Of course it's a tad boring, too, nothing really innovative. But if you're looking for solid heavy metal done well, look no further. ****

Sethery: Kholera

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Sethery: KholeraCD, Woodcut Records 2004

Track list: Demons Spoke the Lullaby - Mindblast Cholera - Impasse and Lick of the Serpent - Hellvision Designed - (I Am) Condemnation - The Sheep Who Always Lied - Amen and Nightmare - Vulturous Hectoric Aspect

Sethery is a new Finnish black metal band; Kholera is their debut. Their style is synth-heavy melodic black metal. That they do well, like straight from the synth black metal 101 guide book. However, even though their technical skills are good, the content and originality are lacking. Vocalist could develop a bit more personal style, the music could be a bit more original and the lyrics a bit less cliche-y. Anyway, Kholera is a pretty strong debut and I'm sure we'll hear from Sethery before long. ***

Lunaris: Cyclic

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Lunaris: CyclicCD, Elitist Records 2004

Track list: Mendacities of a Corporate Messiah - I.A.D. - Lessons in Futility - Cyclic - Slaves of Opinion - When It Ends - Casualties of Piece - Existence Unveiled - Altruismens Gravol - In Nothing - Mot Natt

Cyclic is an intriguing mix of experimental death and black metal. However, despite it's famous guest stars and innovative style, the album doesn't completely satisfy me. While the basis of the album rests in synth-led black metal, it's still a bit too messy bunch of different influences. Nice, but nothing really exceptional. ***

Secrets of the Moon: Carved in Stigmata WoundsCD, Lupus Lounge 2004

Track list: Crowns - Cosmogenesis - Miasma - Psychoccult Hymn - To the Ultimate Embers and Ash - Kaosthrone - Evolution Valour Admission - Epoch - Carved in Stigmata Wounds - Dust

These German occult black metalists were previously unknown to me. I'm glad I found them, because after some deliberation, I've come to realise that Carved in Stigmata Wounds is pretty good album. It's perhaps a bit too long (over 70 minutes), but there are some quite good songs and the rest of it is certainly passable. It's not a masterpiece in avantgarde, but still it's more interesting than your average black metal album. Nice work. ****

Dragonforce: Sonic FirestormCD, Noise Records 2004

Track list: My Spirit Will Go On - Fury of the Storm - Fields of Despair - Dawn Over a New World - Above the Winter Moonlight - Soldiers of the Wasteland - Prepare for War - Once in a Lifetime

Sonic Firestorm is a surprisingly good power metal album. The band blazes through the songs with a breath-taking speed, which is always fun. Their melodies are heavily pop-influenced (they also cite video game music as one of their influences) and sufficiently easy and catchy. Even though I usually dislike the genre, I can't help but like this album. Check out "Once in a Lifetime" or "Fury of the Storm", the best songs on the album. ****

Dargaard: Rise And Fall

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Dargaard: Rise And FallCD, Napalm Records 2004

Track list: Rise and Fall - Bearer of the Flame - Niobe - Takhisis Dance - Winter - Ave Atque Vale - Queen of the Woods - Ancestors of Stone - The Halls of Dargaard (bonus track)

Dargaard's gloomy ambient atmospherics leave me cold, for some reason. In it's genre the album is pretty good: the atmosphere is strong and the arrangements mighty and epic. However, the vocalist Elisabeth Toriser's voice is too weak in my opinion, especially when contrasted with the mighty background. Also, the album is rather boring. It makes a good background, but it's not interesting enough to listen to. Fans of the genre will probably appreciate this more than I do. **

Dark Funeral: De Profundis Clamavi Ad Te DomineCD, Regain Records 2004

Track list: Intro - The Arrival of Satan's Empire - An Apprentice of Satan - The Dawn No More Rises - Thy Legions Come - Hail Murder - Goddess of Sodomy - The Secrets of the Black Arts - Vobiscum Satanas - Shadows Over Transylvania - Open the Gates - Ineffable Kings of Darkness - Thus I Have Spoken - My Dark Desires - Armageddon Finally Comes

The Dark Funeral live album features songs mostly from their latest album, Diabolis Interium. That's all good and well, because it's a very good album. Other two albums are represented by three songs both; I suppose the songs selected are the best tracks from each. However, the album offers rather little, especially if you have Diabolis Interium already. The fact that it's live means the sound quality is bad and as the probably awesome live show doesn't come through the album, the result is rather bad. I'd rather listen to the studio versions. **

Fall of the Leafe: Volvere

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Fall of the Leafe: VolvereCD, Rage of Achilles 2004

Track list: A Waiting Room Snap - If Mirrors Leave Men in Crumbs - Enemy Simulator - Pillar of the Sun - Song from the Second Floor - More Like a Situation - Hell's Silence - Big Ol' Fat Rain Inside - Security Locks Are Good - Guilt Threat - Cut the Smoke

Volvere is already the fourth album of this Finnish group. I have never heard of them, perhaps because their earlier albums were published by somewhat small-ish labels. It's a shame, if they were as good as this one. Volvere is an impressive album. Their style is basically metal or heavy rock, with gloomy gothic rock tones. Their vocalist has a curious style, which I like and which brings lots of flavor for this album. If you're into goth metal, check this out, it's worth it. ****

Crest of Darkness: Evil Knows EvilCD, My Kingdom Music 2004

Track list: Chapter One - Inexplicable Bloodthirstiness - From the Shadows - Black Hole Mystery - Power of Hate - The Lust - As a Part of Your Universe - Cosmic Terror - The Greatest Gift - Warhead 666

Crest of Darkness mixes black metal, trash metal and electronics on their fourth album. The result leaves a lot to wish for. I'm not satisfied with this. In the other hand, black metal purists won't like this one either. I'm afraid the album will leave most audiences cold. There's some interesting parts, but most of the album is really quite bad. Faithful following of LaVey's ideals and interest in vampirism doesn't yet make a good black metal album - it takes good musicianship, too. **

Conspiracy A.D.: Humanity=Destruction... The End Is NearCD, Crash Music 2003

Track list: Prelude to the Apocalypse - Bloody Revenge - Killers of Justice - Enslavement - The Endless Darkness - Tales from a Dark Soul (Bleed You White) - Death and Blood - The Sadness of Mankind - Warfare Part I - Warfare Part II - Distorted Visions of a Dying World

This Italian death metal album is rather focused on death, destruction and sadness, as can be seen from the track titles. That's of course all good and well, when you're talking about death metal. However, I'm not quite satisfied with the contents of the album. Pretty much everything about it is of slightly below average level. There's promise, but the result isn't really satisfying. **

Closterkeller: Nero

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Closterkeller: NeroCD, Metal Mind 2004

Track list: Watching as You Drown - Fight Club - As I Glide - Like Rain Against Stone - Queen - He Comes when the Night Falls - Nero - Mirage - No Matter What Will Be - Amber - Sin - Have You Seen

Closterkeller is apparently the most popular goth band in Poland. Unfortunately, I'm not impressed. The band leader, a striking figure called Anja Orthodox certainly looks good, but unfortunately her personal (read: bad) way of singing leaves me cold. It's a shame, because the song material isn't completely useless. With a somewhat better vocalist, Nero could be a pretty good album. **

Withering: Gospel of MadnessCD, Warhorse Records 2004

Track list: Northern Breeze - Quarrelsome - On Death's Colour - Two Suns - Reborn - Mausoleum - Penance - The Feeble Morning - Anguish of Frustration - Justification for Unavoidable - Not Yet the Last

Gospel of Madness is the debut album of this group founded in 1999. It's a strong, mature debut that promises a lot. Withering's style is melodic death metal, in vein of Tales from the Thousand Lakes from Amorphis but without the synths. The album features nice guitar melodies, grunted vocals and pretty good production (Tico-Tico Studios, which usually means good results). While I'm not completely sold on this, I think it's a good debut and will probably do well amongs the Finnish metal crowd. ***

Disillusion: Back to Times of SplendorCD, Metal Blade 2004

Track list: And the Mirror Cracked - Fall - Alone I Stand in Fires - Back to Times of Splendor - A Day by the Lake - The Sleep of Restless Hours

Fans of Opeth should pay heed - Disillusion offers an album full of progressive death metal, with many familiar features. There are long songs (six songs, totalling 56 minutes, two songs that are about 15 minutes long), a variety of vocal styles (grunting, clear singing, half-spoken parts) and many technical tricks and bits. It sounds wicked. Back to Times of Splendor is not as good an album as the latest Opeth offerings, but it's almost as good. ****

Rajna: Hidden Temple

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Rajna: Hidden TempleCD, Holy Records 2004

Track list: Ranakpur - Buried Philae - Hé Lay, Hé Lay - Rajgir - Dancing with Divinities - Odyssey - Kerala Breath - Glorian - Anakera - Aswan - Hidden Temple

If you're into ethnic ambient atmospheres, Rajna is the thing to check. They borrow much of their instruments and atmosphere from India. There are no vocals, but a wailing female sound. I find it all rather boring - these songs would make good intros, but now I'm just waiting for the real song to begin. But then again, I've never been into ethnic ambient. Give me electronic minimalism any day! **

Chalice: Augmented

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Chalice: AugmentedCD, Modern Invasion 2004

Track list: Liaising Pandora - Neuron - Winter in the Desert Sky - Portrait - Child of the Matador - Static - A Semblance of Sanity

Chalice is a goth metal band from Australia. I suppose Australia isn't gloomy enough, because I'm not impressed. First of all, goth metal with female vocals is a tricky genre - there's good competition. Augmented falls short from such masterpieces as Theatre of Tragedy's Aegis, for example. Their vocalist is rather unimpressive, her sound just isn't personal enough. That's not the only problem - the songs are rather bland, too. It's pity, but as it is, Augmented is a boring album. Fans of the genre will hear little new or interesting on it. **

Hate: Awakening of the LiarCD, Listenable Records 2004

Track list: Flagellation - Anti-God Extremity - Close to the Nephilim - Immolate the Pope - The Shroud (A Hellish Value) - The Scrolls - Awakening of the Liar - Serve God : Rely on Me (Hymn of Asa'el) - Grail in the Flesh - Spirit of Gospa

Poland rocks. The home of the Pope is also home for this brutal death metal group who are finally breaking out in the Western Europe and States, too. 14 years of experience means they play mean and well. Awakening of the Liar is thirty minutes and ten songs of rage against God (seems quite natural for a band coming from Poland). Awakening of the Liar is highly recommended for death metal fans and it's attitude and message should please those bent on black metal as well. ****

Magyar Posse: Kings of Time

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Magyar Posse: Kings of TimeCD, Verdura Records 2004

Track list: eight untitled tracks

I enjoyed Magyar Posse's previous album We Will Carry Your Over the Mountains so much that their new album was a must-buy, even without the glowing reviews it got. The style is same: soundtrack-ish instrumental rock. The new album doesn't have a similar standout song like "Singlesparks Are Spectral Fires", but that's probably on purpose: the songs don't even have names (which is very boring decision, by the way). I like number seven. This is clearly an album which I will appreciate more the more I listen to it, but I like a lot already. ****

Maj Karman Kauniit Kuvat: Musta paraatiCD, Johanna Kustannus 2004

Track list: Romanssi - Muukalainen - Peilitalo - Ajatus - Metalliset kasvot

Maj Karma pays tribute to the legendary Finnish new wave or goth band Musta paraati by performing five of their songs on this EP. Maj Karma turns out to be just the band to do it, because they do it well. Their versions of the tracks are so good, that I think they just might be better than the originals... But then again, I only got to know Musta paraati few years ago; old time fans will probably prefer the originals. Still, even old time fans of Musta paraati should be able to appreciate these versions. ****

Pain Of Salvation: 12:5

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Pain Of Salvation: 12:5CD, InsideOut 2004

Track list: Brickwork part 1 (I-V) - Winning a War - Reconciliation - Dryad of the Woods - Oblivion Ocean - Undertow - Chainsling - Brickwork part 2 (VI-X)

12:5 is a live album by the Swedish prog rockers. Their style is definitely progressive, as the songs sternly refuse to take the shortest route from A to B. What I've heard from Jethro Tull sounds quite the same, only better. It's an interesting, longish album, with songs that work together to create a whole larger than the sum of it's parts. However, in the end, something's missing, a bit of personality or something like that. Thus only three stars. ***

Mister Kite: Box of FearCD, Lion Music 2004

Track list: From This Day On - How Long - Evil Bob - I Know You Know - Into Nothing - In This Room - State - Do Your Worst - The Hunger - Box of Fear

I've read some good reviews of this album, but I'm not enthusiastic. Technically there's nothing wrong in what Mister Kite do, but the content is missing. Their melodic, kind of American metal is light and easy, and that's probably the main issue I have with it: it just goes too smoothly. In and out, and nothing is left after it goes. In many places it feels like the vocalist (who's pretty good, though) holds back, when letting the rage out would really make the song work. Now I'm just annoyed when the song doesn't hit hard enough... If you like heavy rock, Mister Kite might be intense enough for you. For those who like their metal heavy, it's too mellow. **

Ragnarok: Blackdoor MiracleCD, Regain Records 2004

Track list: Preludium - Heir of Darkness - Recreation of the Angel - Rites of Geburah - Blackdoor Miracle - Murder - Kneel - Bless Thee for Granting Me Pain - Journey from Life

Ragnarok is rather Norwegian. Their idea of black metal is brutal, aggressive and straightforward. The result is, however, surprisingly good. The album is full of interesting tracks, which is fairly rare - many black metal albums suffer from songs that all sound the same. Blackdoor Miracle features several interesting tracks that really stand out. If the album was more progressive and brought something new to the genre, it'd be worth five stars. Now, solid four, if you like your black metal served in the Norwegian style. ****

Orphaned Land: Mabool - The Story of the Three Sons of SevenCD, Century Media 2004

Track list: Birth of the Three (The Unification) - Ocean Land (The Revelation) - The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins) - A'salk - Halo Dies (The Wrath of God) - A Call to Awake (The Quest) - Building the Ark - Nora El Nora (Entering the Ark) - The Calm Before the Flood - Mabool (The Flood) - The Storm Still Rages Inside - Rainbow (The Resurrection)

Orphaned Land hails from Israel and are actually the first Israeli metal band I've come across. One can hear their origins in the music, too. Their progressive death metal is spiced with Middle-Eastern and Arabic influences - they call it "Middle-Eastern Metal" themselves. The result is rather fresh and interesting. The album has a biblical theme, it tells the story of the Flood. Their songs certainly have narrative elements, so listening to the whole album in correct order is the recommended way to enjoy Mabool. ****

36crazyfists: A Snow Capped RomanceCD, Roadrunner Records 2004

Track list: At the End of August - The Heart and the Shape - Bloodwork - Kenai - Skin and Atmosphere - Song for the Fisherman - With Nothing Underneath - Destroy the Map - Installing the Catheter - Cure Eclipse - Waterhaul

36crazyfists tries to portray a ton of emotion with their nu-metalish album, but it all falls very short. Despite the emotional melodies and the buzz of distorted guitars and the screaming and the clear vocals, it really doesn't touch me at all. At least bands like Slipknot occasionally combine catchy with heavy in a way that pleases me. 36crazyfists goes in from one ear and leaves through the other leaving absolutely nothing behind. Nice, but very boring. **

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