June 2004 Archives

Eldritch: Portrait of the Abyss WithinCD, Limb Music 2004

Track list: Muddy Clepsidra - Forbidden - The World Apart - This Everlasting Mind Disease - Picture on the Wall - Dice Rolling - Drowning - Blindfolded Walkthrough - See You Down - Slow Motion "K" Us - Lonesome Existence

Italian progressive metal has never been my favourite genre. Considering that, Eldritch does actually a pretty good job. Mixing influences from different genres, they manage to produce few seriously good tracks ("This Everlasting Mind Disease" and "Drowning"). Unfortunately, the rest of the album is not that good. Still, it sounds pretty good and vocalist does a fairly good job. If you like the genre, why not, otherwise don't bother. ***

Cruachan: Pagan

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Cruachan: PaganCD, Karmageddon Media 2004

Track list: Michael Collins - Pagan - The Gael - Ard Rí Na Heireann - The March to Cluain Tairbh - Viking Slayer - 1014 A.D. - Some Say the Devil Is Dead - Summoning of the Sidhe - A Thousand Years - Lament for the Wild Geese - Erinsong - The Fall of Gondolin

I'm surprised - there isn't a single bagpipe playing on this album. It's still very celtic-influenced music, the folky stuff always within the reach in the metal songs. The black metal origins of Cruachan are also closer than on The Middle Kingdom. All in all, it's a fine piece of Celtic folk metal. It's refreshing change to the Nordic folk metal - with songs like Viking Slayer, where the vikings are the prey. ****

Skymning: Machina GenovaCD, Blackend 2004

Track list: ProKill - Berzerk Cirkus Circle - Riot Revelation / Club Monroe - ForceBender - ScalpLeech - Bubblegum Generation - Mondo Bizarre Glorification - Swallow the Holy Piss - Silicone Animation / MadShaper - TrollTekk/AggroTekk - Bodüoutline/PlanetEater - Rebel Cult!

If you're into machine beats, Machina Genova is a good choice. Skymning churns out rough riff-based machine metal with a very straigth-forward engine beat. I like it a lot! The atmosphere is dark and industrial (even though Machina Genova is far from industrial music). The only negative side is the monotony of the vocalist. The Antichrist knows only one way to shout out his message. It's fine, but you'll probably grow tired if you listen to it too much. ****

Evergrey: The Inner Circle

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Evergrey: The Inner CircleCD, InsideOutMusic 2004

Track list: A Touch of Blessing - Ambassador - In the Wake of the Weary - Harmless Wishes - Waking Up Blind - More Than Ever - The Essence of Conviction - Where All Good Sleep - Faith Restored - When the Walls Go Down

I've never heard of Evergrey before, but it seems I've missed out on something good. The Inner Circle is certainly a good album. A lot of it is thanks to the vocalist Tom Englund, who does a great job here. His vocals range from touching to powerful and all are delivered with the same passion and charisma. The result sounds very good indeed. The songs are solid and well performed, and the album is technically well done. It's a concept album, with a theme circling around the ways people abuse religions for misguided purposes. ****

Antaeus: Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan (2nd edition)CD, Osmose Productions 2004

Track list: Inner War - Seventh Ceremony - Devotee - Those with no Eyes - Specimen 23 - Bleeding Blasphemy - Nihil Chaos - Blood War III (video) - Three live videos

Antaeus hails from France, which I've never considered as remarkable metal country. Cut Your Flesh... certainly does a good job proving me wrong. It is rather primitive and aggressive album and cuts the corners straight. No bells and whistles, just pure aggression. That works for me, and I'm quite satisfied with this album. The new edition has lost one track, but adds one music video and three live clips. The new album cover art is also fantastic. ****

Azrael: Into Shadows Act 2 - Through Horned Shadows GlimpseCD, Moribund Records 2004

Track list: Tracks are untitled

Azrael aims for progressive and avantgarde black metal expression. Their methods include primitive underground black metal and acoustic instruments (guitar and double bass). Unfortunately, the black metal is too underground: the sound quality is reminiscent of some demo tapes. That's too bad for a cd release, I think. With better sound quality and somewhat better songs, Into Shadows Act 2 could be a decent album. Now it's quite mediocre. Only the double bass parts save it and make it worth three stars. ***

Rite: The Creep Had It Coming, part 1CD, Multiplatinum Records 2004

Track list: Funeral Scenes - Firetrap - Bodybag Boogie - 665 And Counting - Darker Than Black

Finnish stoner rockers Rite surprised me. Their EP is something quite impressive; I didn't expect anything, and got a very good album. That's always good. Their heavy down-tuned rock sound is just perfect for having a good time. I'm quite sure their songs will live long in the selection of my MP3 player. My only gripe is that the EP has only five tracks... ****

Reign of Erebus: Inversion PrincipleCD, Blackend 2004

Track list: Reclamation and Mastery - Maelstrom - Feeding the Furnace - The Storm - Constrictor - ...Angels Brought Thee Ashes - To Shame the Skies - Inversion Principle - Warfare

Now this is brilliant. Reign of Erebus focuses on what's important in black metal - and that's pure wrath - and delivers a thundering blast. Inversion Principle is simply the best black metal album of 2004 this far (and I'm impressed, if something comes up that's even better). Their sound features prominent drums, buzzing guitars, well-done vocals and subtle synth effects. In addition of their own, very good songs, Reign of Erebus covers the classic Warfare from Zyklon-B. *****

Stormlord: The Gorgon CultCD, Scarlet Records 2004

Track list: The Torchbearer - Dance of Hecate - Wurdulak - Under the Boards (195, M.A.) - The Oath of the Legion - The Gorgon Cult - Memories of Lemuria - Medusa's Coil - Moonchild - Nightbreed

Melodic, synth-driven black metal with power metal influences is the name of the game for this Italian group. The album is technically well made, but suffers from weak songs. Iron Maiden cover Moonchild is the best of the crop, other songs are nice, but sound way too familiar. The album has little new to offer, but if one enjoys the genre and doesn't expect anything new, it should be enjoyable. ***

Final Dawn: Under the Bleeding SkyCD, New Aeon Media 2004

Track list: Solemn Art - Ardent - Aggression Overdrive - Doze - Regression Is Transgression - Bleeding Sky - What Flows Within - My Pain

Under the Bleeding Sky is the debut album of this Oulu-based Finnish death metal band. It's a fairly nice piece of work, but still I think something's missing. It all sounds pretty good, but what is won in style is lost in substance. Better songs would make this album stand out a bit more. Still, I think it's a decent job as a debut album, but the next one should have better songs. ***

The Wounded: Atlantic

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The Wounded: AtlanticCD, Ebony Tears 2004

Track list: Hollow World - 18 Carat Dust - Running on Empty - Day of Joy - Northern Lights - Prelude - Smells Like Teen Spirit - We Are Darker - Atlantic

I thought The Wounded's debut album The Art of Grief was pretty decent. Atlantic is their third go, and they have clearly improved. Atlantic is actually a very good goth rock album, one of the best I've heard recently. the songwriting is excellent, there's a good cover pick and the album just sounds great. Marco van der Velde is also an excellent vocalist with a personal sound. This one's highly recommended for fans of goth rock! ****

Bongzilla: Apogee

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Bongzilla: ApogeeCD, Relapse Records 2004

Track list: H.P. Keefmaker - Salvation - Grim Reefer - Witch Weed (live) - Dealer McDope (live) - Sacred Smoke (live) - American (live)

Ok, I know stoner rock is really about extensive use of cannabis and related products, but Bongzilla is bit too hazy for even though I generally like stoner-related music. Apogee doesn't please me, mostly because of too long songs, really bad vocals and even worse sound on the live tracks. Some of it is good - guitars are tuned low enough and the sound is pretty fuzzy, but mostly it's just real, real bad. *

Imperanon: Stained

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Imperanon: StainedCD, Nuclear Blast 2004

Track list: Blade - Memories to Dust - Stained - Prisoner in Me - Sold - Hollow Man - Rhythm of Pain - Shadowsouls - Vein (I Bleed) - The End

This new Finnish metal band has really did well record label -wise, landing a contract with Nuclear Blast. Unfortunately their album is quite far from perfect. With the exception of few brighter spots, Stained is somewhat boring album. The band performs very well, but the songs are slightly soulless. I do expect Imperanon to succeed well in their career and Stained might be quite popular, as well, but I don't find it that interesting. ***

Cruachan: The Middle Kingdom

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Cruachan: The Middle KingdomCD, Karmageddon Media 2004

Track list: A Celtic Mourning - Celtica (Voice of the Morrigan) - The Fianna - A Druids Passing - Is Fuair an Chroi - Cattle Raid of Cooley (táin hó cuailgne) - The Middle Kingdom - Óró sé do Bheatha Abhaile - Unstabled (Steeds of Macha) - The Butterfly

The Middle Kingdom is not suitable for those allergic to bagpipes. Cruachan's celtic folk metal uses them and other more traditional instruments extensively to create a bristling celtic atmosphere. That's quite refreshing, I think and mainly the reason I like the album. It's not particularly heavy, there are some quite atmospheric and moody songs. If you like bagpipes and metal, I'd wager you like Cruachan as well. ****

Time Requiem: The Inner Circle of RealityCD, Regain Records 2004

Track list: Reflections - The Inner Circle of Reality - Dreams of Tomorrow - Attar of Roses - Definition of Insanity - Quest of a Million Souls - Hidden Memories - Bach prelude variation

Time Requiem is a project of Swedish virtuoso keyboardist Richard Andersson. It's a shame I've never really been into this neoclassical metal thing, I'd rather listen to the real thing (either real metal or real classical music). I've heard enough, though, to make this album sound stale. The classical influences are used and bored and the melodies, well, I've heard them before. The result is a very boring album. **

Morrissey: You Are the Quarry

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Morrissey: You Are the QuarryCD, Attack Records 2004

Track list: America Is Not the World - Irish Blood, English Heart - I Have Forgiven Jesus - Come Back to Camden - I'm Not Sorry - The World Is Full of Crashing Bores - How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel? - First of the Gang to Die - Let Me Kiss You - All the Lazy Dykes - I Like You - You Know I Couldn't Last

Morrissey is back. First of all, let me state that "Irish Blood, English Heart" is certainly one of the better songs ever written. It's very close to perfection. Fortunately, it isn't the only good song. The album is full of them. It all sounds so beautiful. Just listen to tracks like "How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?" or "I Have Forgiven Jesus". It's melancholic, it's dramatic, it's pathetic, it's Morrissey. I'm still being careful with the stars, even though this one seems to be one of those albums with true staying power. ****

Clamour: Rangaistus

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Clamour: RangaistusCD, Longplay Music 2004

Track list: Vieraat - Valtaa - Riivaaja - Hyvästit

I expected rock, but got metal. Nice. This EP was actually better than I expected. Clamour plays heavy metal with personal female vocals. The vocals are less metal-ish than the music. Result is kind of rock, kind of heavy metal. What's more important, the songs are catchy and good. I like this, Clamour is definitely a band I'd like to hear more music from. ****

MindGrinder: MindTech

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MindGrinder: MindTechCD, Nocturnal Art Productions 2004

Track list: Repulsive Evolution - Regeneration - War Solution - Deception - Starspawned Vision- Human Error - Fire & Equanimity - Sadistic Images - Surviving Gadzooks - Soul Inferno

Norwegian MindGrinder plays brutal death metal, but fails to impress. Their debut album is not bad, not at all, but just slightly boring. None of the tracks really stand out even after intensive repeat play. Death metal fans should enjoy the album, but I doubt if anyone would name it as one of the best albums of this year or so. **

Rautiainen, Timo & Trio Niskalaukaus: Kylmä tilaCD, King Foo Records 2004

Track list: Älkää selvittäkö - Juoksevan veden aika - Hyvä ihminen - Kylmä tila - Taakka - Ajurin ruoska - Minun oikeus - Pitkä odotus - Te ette tarvitse minua

New Niskalaukaus album hasn't excited me the way their earlier material did. The first album, Lopunajan merkit, was a real breath of fresh air, but now, at their fourth album, I'm growing bored. However, Kylmä tila features few pretty nice tracks: "Juoksevan veden aika" is one of their better tracks ever, and "Minun oikeus" does a good job too. Still, it's not what it used to be... ***

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