Category Archives: Music

Sektemtum – Aut Caesar, Aut Nihil

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Formed in 2009 and including members as well as former members of such illustrous bands as Mütiilation, Ad Hominem, Arkhon Infaustus, Hell Militia, Gestapo 666 and Zoldier Noiz, Sektemtum, according to the band, stands for “the gathering, the sect, the twilight circle, the end and the beginning”, while the title stands for “either Caesar or nothing”, or more generally “all or nothing”.

The album starts slow, a simple Rock ‘n Roll riff paired with a few bends, not too far removed from the beginning of Darkthrone‘s Rust, off the misunderstood and underappreciated Hate Them album. The first shock are the vocals. Is this really Meyna’ch? He has never sounded this clean, yet at no moment does he not sound menacing. The music is very riff-based, which is also a departure from Mütiilation or other past bands. Meyna’ch loves traditional Metal, many pictures show him wearing Motörhead shirts, and he seems to fully embrace it here. Even with that in mind the simplicity of the music still comes as a surprise. Even more so if one keeps in mind who Meyna’ch is and what his last ouputs like Mütiilation, Hell Militia and Gestapo 666 sounded like.

Every song has a chorus or random vocal lines that stick with you, I found myself humming the opening riff for days, forcing me to listen to the album on a daily basis.

Many riffs are rooted in traditional Heavy Metal, solos can also be heard throughout the 10 songs and overall the structures are very traditional. Each song shows strong musicianship, not surprising at all, yet worth a mention. The production is very clean and warm, far removed for early Mütiilation.

At times Meyna’ch sounds like Attila, humming, whining, cursing, screaming his way through the songs, and Mayhem is the only comparison that comes to mind. No, I am not comparing this album to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, yet many elements are the same. The clean sound, the drums being allover the place, the Attila-esque vocals, the traditional elements.

This album, while being clearly rooted in Black Metal, has a lot to offer to fans of different genres as well as to those who just love intelligent music. The album has a natural flow, each song goes nicely into the other and no song seems out of place, yet eery song adds a different element to the whole picture.

I can only hope that the band will carry on, Sektemtum stir things up a bit with music that will piss off elitist Metalheads living in the past or scared of experimentation. The message is very clear to me, they do not care and they do what they want, and that in itself is the essence of Black Metal. It all comes down to the music and in the end it should not matter if this is Trve and Kvlt, it just is great music.

The video for the titletrack also deserves a special mention. Remember the Prodigy video for the song Smack my bitch up? Sektemtum made the sequel and, again, show how serious they are by poking fun at themselves showing a gay porn being filmed with the “receiver” wearing a Mütiilation shirt.

Be sure to check out their Facebook page as well as the afore-mentionned clip below.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=karDU2TpDT0]

Sleepers’ Guilt – Sleepers’ Guilt

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Sleepers’ Guilt are a rather fresh band from Luxembourg who released their self-titled debut EP at the end of March 2012. Even though the quartet was only formed in 2011, it consists of experienced musicians from the now defunct bands Ophidian, Clean State and I Spy Apocalypse.

I’ll start this review with a very unusual and for the end consumer unimportant thing: the digital press kit that was given to me was very nicely put together and featured the songs, the entire booklet in very high quality, some promo pictures as well as an info sheet. And from the latter I’ll actually quote a sentence before I dive into the actual review since it describes their style perfectly: “they play modern melodic metal with a progressive touch and clean vocals, without losing the aggressiveness and trying to create their own sound and their own approach towards making music.”

The first thing that struck me as a listener was the remarkably clean and yet powerful production. Since this EP is entirely self-produced in a private studio in Luxembourg I was blown away by the tight guitar sound and the very organic drum sound. The vocals are also very intelligible and are perfectly mixed into the instrumental surroundings.

The six song EP is all throughout accompanied by piano play and the one or the other synthesizer which gives the ensemble somewhat of a symphonic undertone, as is tradition in the melodic metal genre. However it isn’t too blatant and thus doesn’t distract you at all from the, in some parts, very interesting riffs nor does it sound kitschy. The riffs are actually the part that impress me the most on this record, there are some real neckbreakers on here that I’m sure will motivate many people at home and mostly at shows to headbang enthusiastically.

Lyrically, the EP is mainly sociocritical and definitely a nice read. There is however one thing that heavily bothers me on a personal level: the singer’s voice. This is obviously very subjective but I’m just not a fan of this type of voices, no matter how flawless the performance. It’s what I like to call the “Dream Theater Paradox”: instrumentally to my liking but ruined by the singing. Don’t get me wrong: the vocalist does a great job and in some parts reminds me a bit of the singer of Sabaton but except for a ten second part towards the middle of the last song Raven’s Fight where he (almost) growls it just doesn’t appeal to me.

In conclusion I can definitely recommend giving the EP a chance if you are either open-minded about vocals or if you are into melodic metal. Personally I’ll try to check them out live at the next best opportunity to make up my mind. For more information about their tour dates and possibilities where you can buy their EP, check out their Facebook page and make sure to give the song below a listen.

Architects – Daybreaker

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I’m pretty sure that everyone that is at least a bit into metalcore has heard of Architects before as they have managed to establish themselves in the scene quite well, at the latest in 2009 with their album Hollow Crown.

In 2011 they released The Here And Now which was quite different from the aforementioned album: a lot more melodic and “softer”, but still a very powerful record nevertheless. Their latest endeavor Daybreaker however is very reminiscent of the 2009 released record.

In terms of instruments this means that it is a bit more complex and definitely heavier. Great, almost mathcore-ish, riffs are found througout the whole 42 minutes.

Sam Carter’s vocals are, who would have thought (wink wink), at their usual high level. This guy just manages to deliver on all levels, be it super clean vocals or very emotion-ladden screams. You just believe everything he sings.

Then there are 3 guest appearances on vocals: Jon Green of Deez Nuts, Oli Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon and Drew York of Stray From The Path. The one that sticks out the most to me is Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon on the song Even If You Win, You’re Still A Rat. This is, of course, mostly due to the fact that I’m a big follower of BMTH but also because he sounds very different to the way he does on his albums. This might be because it’s mixed differently or it might be a foreshadowing of THEIR upcoming album.

Lyrically the whole record is very sociocritical and songs like These Colours Don’t Run are a prime example of that. And, because of the vocalist’s talent, you can actually make out about 90% of them without even looking at the booklet.

All in all I can only say that this album is, in some ways, a step back but not really in a bad way: their previous record might have been too much of a change for the band and this feels much more architectural. See what I did there?)

Be sure to check them out on Facebook and listen to the song below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHHJF2cUwyY]

Mutiny On The Bounty – Trials

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I bet this was a stuttering creation for the guys from Mutiny On The Bounty. Things did not look too good after their guitar virtuoso Luciano Lippis left the band shortly after the release of their first LP Danger Mouth; an album I personally anticipated quite much. A new guitarist was found but he turned out to be a better Scotsman in drinking and dishing out beatings than being a professional musician, from what I heard so far.

But as the proverb says: “An end is a new beginning” and so is Trials, M.O.T.B. second longplayer. With Cédric “Tchiggy” Czaika (a known musician in the Luxembourgish scene) as the new bassist and Clément Delporte pulling the strings, everything seemed to take a new course. So, after an extensive tour with the likes of Coheed and Cambria, Portugal the Man and Franz Ferdinand including an appearance at SXSW in Austin; the timing was right for the next big step and eventually Matt Bayles (who produced Isis, The Fall Of Troy and HORSE The Band) was hired as the producer for Trials.

So; what beauty do we have in Trials? It’s still a mathrockish experience but with more indie rock influences than mathrock/mathcore. I have often drawn comparisons to Minus The Bear when listening to the album, which is not a bad thing or meant in a pejorative way. But considering the big change M.O.T.B underwent from their first LP to Trials I must confess that I initially had my difficulties with the album. I was expecting Danger Mouth #2 with it’s chaotic guitars and light-hearted / carefree songwriting but Trials is a more serious and sombre masterwork, less dancer but more progressive and it requires your whole attention in order to be perceived.

There are killer tunes that totally kick in from the first second you listen to them like Artifacts, Myanmar, Shifting Paradigms or Mapping The Universe (the latter being a mind-blowing experience played live) but there are also tracks that need several attempts to unfold themselves like Candies or Statues. Guess I just miss the light-heartedness of the first album but if one considers the difficulties the collective had after 2 members parted their ways and with all the frustration they must have had to hold together and create something new I guess there was a lot of anger that pushed them in writing these more serious / darkish songs and that is totally understandable and of course acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong. Trials is a very good album. It’s challenging. You will listen to it over and over again in order to accept the change the band underwent. It’s hard to be a musician / music fan nowadays. As a musician you will piss a lot of people off if you release a clone of your previous album and earn a lot of criticism if you do something completely different. And to me, Trials is a logical evolution for Mutiny On The Bounty. There’s no better album as both LPs are completely different and outstanding in their own way. These boys have a promising future ahead and hopefully they will content us with a lot of surprises in the future. I better stop whining that this is no Danger Mouth #2 and love the Trials for what it is. Challenging but not disappointing.

Dead Boy Dreaming – ALCP

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Which one of you guys still remembers the Luxembourgish extreme metal combo Dead Boy Dreaming? Well, I do and it’s a shame that this band and its music, after they split up, faded away from people’s minds. I remember seeing them live during one of the Emergenza festivals nearly ten years ago and I also remember that at this time I didn’t like them at all.

Nowadays, when I put the ALCP (Another Low Creation Phase) EP in my stereo, I don’t understand what I was thinking way back because there are two aspects I really do appreciate about Dead Boy Dreaming‘s music. First of all the record lasts only 11 minutes, which is something I always like when it comes to extreme music (except for black metal), because a lot of bands seem to have a very bad sense of time and often don’t know when to stop. 11 minutes are just perfect to go on an aggressive and groovy rampage!

Second I am quite surprised how diversified and technical Dead Boy Dreaming‘s music was. They were by far not a typical death band and their music is a nice syncrisis of death, hard- and grindcore elements with a few black splits and a punkish attitude all resulting in an incredible powerful 4 pieces EP.

Dead Boy Dreaming don’t limit themselves to one genre and everything sounds very coherent, a challenge a lot of bands try to face but lose, because of the lack of creativity.

If you have the chance to get a copy of ALCP, tell me what you think of it, because personally I believe that it is a shame that this band split-up. In 2012 this short EP still sounds more refreshing than most of the bullshit which is released these days. Dead Boy Dreaming created something which is very hard to achieve: their music (on the ALCP) seems to be timeless in a manner of speaking, at least over the last decade. That’s why nowadays Dead Boy Dreaming still could easily be a factor front and center.

It would not be the worst reunion I could imagine.

Dirty Crows – Got No Chance Against Rock’N’Roll

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A sludgy and pretty threatening intro already hints at what the boys from Dirty Crows have aimed at over the last month: a step away from classical rock’n’roll and towards a doomier and more stoner way of blowing our socks off.

A newer and more monstrous version of The Kalashnikov Blues then raids you right away without any further warning. This crow has become a really dirty one; it behaves like an insidious rabid snake. You never know how and when it will attack. Unexpected breaks, pauses, changes of direction make this work unpredictable and distances itself from a classic 90s stoner record. The influences from that time are nevertheless obvious.

Producer Jan Kerscher did a great job in changing the band’s sound, developing it like into some serious and dark business. The gloomy but driving main elements are somewhere in-between Fu Manchu, Kyuss and early Queens of the Stone Age. The drums have been tuned down, the vocals vary between sexy, clean and rough parts. The guitars bring us back to the crazy crow; they simply go totally wild sometimes, giving us an Era Vulgaris atmosphere at some points, together with other sound gimmickry and experiments. The desert picture is completed by a bass play that sounds like someone used rusty wires to play with.

Towards the middle of Got No Chance Against Rock’N’Roll you can witness a certain back to the roots feeling, meeting old songs in a more or less old arrangement, but deeper due to the new sound. Let’s refer one last time to our stoned crow: it sometimes seems that this crazy bird overdoes when running amok. Well, you might say this must be part of its nature. I agree with that. But at some points you might expect kind of a “less is more” approach in-between abrupt breaks and drum driven doom parts. Great riffs nevertheless compensate some mentally disordered derailments. A good example would be It Ain’t easy, for which I really tried but couldn’t find the right words to describe its awesomeness, whereas the new Hit The Road may become a doubtful case.

The last points to mention would be the guest appearances (which I won’t name because not everything must be revealed yet) and a very mature bouncer song. One thing is for sure, this record is meant to be played aloud! Let’s see how this is going to sound live.

Recommendations: The Kalashnikov Blues, It Ain’t Easy, Mean Thing.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaB0cJQBP5A]
If you have become curious and want to grab your copy of this debut: Dirty Crows will release it this Saturday at 5.30 pm at the Food For Your Senses Festival. See you there.

Aphyxion – Obliteration Of The Weak

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Aphyxion. A name that will most likely not ring a bell for a lot of people, however the people that do know the name will be able to tell you that it’s a band that you should observe in the future.

The, surprisingly, very young Danish quintet shows a degree of professionalism in both their studio endeavors as well as their live performances where many bands these days barely manage to deliver on one of those levels.

Their 5 track 2010 EP Obliteration Of The Weak starts off with an eponymous track that lets you know in the first 15 seconds what they’re all about: heaviness mixed with that well-known Scandinavian groove.

On the instrumental level they remind me of a modern take on At The GatesSlaughter Of The Soul, which is definitely a good thing. One could also compare their sound to the older stuff of their compatriots from Hatesphere.

The vocalist’s screams are on an equal level throughout the entire EP and although they are mainly guttural, he adds some small screechy nuances to them that give you just the right amount of diversity.

Soundwise I must say that I’m mostly surprised by how well it all sounds, especially because we aren’t talking about a major label band here. No, my guess is that this was a rather low-budget production and yet the result is just impressive. The drums don’t sound over-triggered, as is often the case with new bands these days, and the guitars come at you with a thick clear sound.

There is, however, one negative point that struck me during my listening sessions: a lack of diversity. After listening to the EP around a dozen times I wasn’t really able to differentiate clearly between the songs. Despite that, I am confident that this is something that will pose no problems to them on their next record since I’ve had a chance to see them live not too long ago here in Luxembourg and unless my ears betrayed me they played new songs that have a much diverse sound to them.

All in all I can only say that you should definitely give this fresh band a try since they hold a lot of potential and I, for one, will follow their evolution with great interest.

And if you get the chance to see them live, do so. Their energy on stage will surely make you bang your head (or ninja-dance around, if that’s what you fancy) and they are genuinely nice people have a drink with and talk to.

Be sure to check out their Facebook profile and the song below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUSroUOB9do]

Adestria – Chapters

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This is my first review for El Gore and I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing; so bear with me here.

The record I decided to write about is the debut album Chapters of the rather unknown metalcore band Adestria. At first you might think that Adestria is just your generic “more breakdowns please” metalcore clone but you couldn’t be more wrong.

What these 6 guys from San Diego managed to capture in these 10 songs is a perfect mixture between heaviness and melody that a lot of more famous bands are unable to find.

On top of the amazing harmony on an instrumental level you have the truly strong voice of the lead singer who manages growls, screeches and clean vocals equally well. But it doesn’t stop there. 3 guest vocalists also make an appearance to give 3 songs that special something: Tyler Smith from The Word Alive, Davey Muise of Vanna and Scott Barnes of In Fear And Faith. And if all that isn’t enough yet you have a brilliant production to make it even easier for you to like this album. Lyrically the album is also satisfying and mostly pirate-inspired but not in a corny way, I’d say.

You might notice that I haven’t found anything negative about the record and that is correct. To me this is the best album (in this genre, of course) of 2012 so far and one of the biggest surprises in recent times.

I want to add that I don’t mean to say that Adestria have re-invented the (metalcore) wheel but that they definitely gave it a new spin and future releases of other bands will have to be able to hold up with this album.

You can check them out on their Facebook page and be sure to listen to the song Scarlett Letter below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4PaA-WTtOA]

Heartbeat Parade – Burning Nantucket! EP

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Well, what do we have here? Is it Postrock? Posthardcore? Instrumental Mathrock? Or everything together?

Heartbeat Parade have been causing some noise for over two years now in the Luxembourgish music scene. Their Burning Nantucket! EP gives us a preview of what’s about to happen on their first long player scheduled for later this year. Postrock seems to be fading slowly but surely but this could be declared as one possible logical progression of this style. In fact it combines pretty much everything mentioned above without ever losing its focus.

The good thing is: just like in ‘classic’ Postrock it lets you build up your own world around the song even if the band targets you in a certain direction by using vocal samples from documentary films. Still, the spoken word can mean everything you want in the end, especially because the musical direction leads to different feelings.

The skeptical and aggressive voice is never lost though due to the steady hard- and postcore outbreaks. Electro elements and a solid Mathrock fundament complete this complex tableau. Heartbeat Parade seem to have found a definite line and you can hear that those guys are no newbies in any way, in case you haven’t already known it looking at their portfolio.

Check their homepage for further concert dates.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv8jLh-rpMw]

Defy The Laws Of Tradition – Till Death Us Part

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Defy the Laws of Tradition’s debut Till Death Us Part from 2009 is by far not a typical breakdown-infected, faceless and boring metalcore record like most of ‘em are. Philipp Treiber (guitar/vocals) told me that his father had a big musical influence on him by making him familiar with bands like Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa but also Journey and Boston. Furthermore he stated that he’s very opened towards music, as he listens to a lot of different styles.

I don’t know what the other guys’ views are but you can hear and feel a vast variety of different inspirations. Metalcore, melodic death, thrash and modern hardcore surely are the principal constituents of this fresh and tasty soup. These ingredients at no point overpower the record but, on the contrary, let enough space for other spices from time to time (a bit of punk rock here, a bit of post-rock there). A proverb says that too many cooks spoil the broth. This doesn’t count for Till Death Us Part, cause every note has its right to exist. Every single aspect of the record is integrated and responsible for an heterogeneous and interesting output.

I have written lots of reviews over the past years and if you have followed me, be it my old blog or El Gore, I think it is clear that while listening to or writing about music, I often concentrate on the voice. It’s not the lyrics I am interested in but rather the acoustic color and the authenticity.

For example I am in no way sexist but I can’t listen to female voices in music aside from the beautiful Beth Gibbons from Portishead and Jón Þór „Jónsi“ Birgisson from Sigur Rós.

And so there is a (personal) diminutive negative aspect of the record. The guys could have used this sleazy, corny melodic, clean voice a bit less. Not because the voice is bad in itself or because it doesn’t fit but because the screams, shouts and growls are so energetic and aggressive that I want more. I know that this mixture of clean singing and shouting/screaming is an identifying feature of the metalcore subgenre but I don’t like this element because a lot of power and aggressiveness is being lost. Altogether that’s my problem and not something I don’t like about the band, but something I don’t like about the genre.

As my roots lay in the oldschool and primitive Black Metal, I am not a person who likes talking and writing about the technical skills of a band. So I will also cut it short for Till Death Us Part. To be concrete, I don’t give a damn fuck about techniques. Confucius already said: “Malmsteen has a lot of skills and he is able to play 1000 notes per second but David Gilmour plays him against “The Wall” with one single bending.” Why? Because Gilmour feels what he plays. And that’s exactly what I thought while listening to Till Death Us Part. Don’t get me wrong, Defy the Laws of Tradition, in everything they do, maintain the high standard. More important is, that the band is authentic, honest and play with heart. Good music is felt music and these guys definitely feel what they play. Kudos for that!

To conclude I have to say that the playtime of the record may be a bit too long. Always remember guys that it is far better when a listener really likes the music but wished that the record, concert or whatever was a bit longer instead of getting bored with the time because you keep on playing and playing.

You should give these guys a try and I am really looking forward to their new longplayer.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0JhUYT8DeE]