Veilburner – “The Obscene Rite”

a3417246913_10I am a huge fan of black metal, death metal, and industrial metal. I am also a huge fan of genre bending and experimentation. I appreciate when artists take creative risks, and don’t go the safe route (as all too many are seemingly content to do these days). The flip-side to all of this then is that sometimes these experiments just don’t come together, and sometimes it isn’t for the artists lack of trying. Veilburner have really attempted to put together a diverse piece of work here, and that fact isn’t lost on me. I get it. However, the very disparate pieces of “The Obscene Rite” just never came together in a way that made it consistently enjoyable, albeit amidst bursts of really interesting ideas.

Veilburner’s sound is an eclectic mix of black, death, and industrial metal, at times conjuring Behemoth, like on “Eucharist of the Breathing Abyss” and even Ministry on “In the Revelations of Bloodstained Void”. Fast, sharp guitars riff away, while programmed (or heavily replaced) drums fire off at machine gun speeds. All the while a mixture of lo-fi keyboard sounds and varying shrieks, grunts, groans, and the occasional clean vocal strain over the maelstrom. At various points on the record I could make out classical guitar, theremin, and many a multilayered, designed soundscape amidst other sonic experimentation.

From the outset, the production lets down the proceedings. I understand the situational necessity (and sometimes stylistic choice) of self or low cost production, but the harsh, distant sounds on the record are at odds with the intense, epic, apocalyptic, and dense vibe I think the band is going for. The scope of sounds is ambitious, but the overly busy synthesized drums and fuzzy guitars fail to deliver the punch and power necessary to sell this vision of the apocalypse. That isn’t to say that a Scott Atkins or Andy Sneap production job would make this a completely different record, but cleaner and punchier production may have highlighted more of the elements the band obviously put a lot of thought and effort into.

Settling into the rhythm of the record, I realized quickly that I was going to be at odds with some of the vocal choices being made. The vocalist’s guttural and black metal screams are completely serviceable, but at many junctures the band go for a raspy, direct, shouted approach that brings to mind later Nile material, except here it doesn’t work as well and took me out of the songs more than a few times. This exemplifies another issue with the record, and that is one of simply being too busy, to the songs detriment.

Nearly every song on the record breaks the 6 minute mark, but just about every song could have been nipped at least a little bit. Sometimes a song needs to be 8 minutes long to effectively convey some sense of purpose, but that really isn’t the case here. Long sections of spindly riffs fly by, but instead of building and releasing, the songs bludgeon until a sense of numb, noise is achieved. There is always so much going on, and in my opinion it is too much. Case in point here is “Vaterchen”, which overstays its welcome and feels disjointed and awkward in parts. The sections of the record that were focused and allowed to breath were my favorite overall, and scattered throughout the disc’s 9 tracks were some legitimately interesting ideas/riffs/sounds.

Although “The Obscene Rite” didn’t really work for me, there were some ideas that I bookmarked, and made me sit up and take notice. Interlude “Masquerade Macabre” introduces a really cool guitar solo/motif that dialed back the density a bit, and was an element I would have loved to have seen more of throughout the album. Similarly, “Dilemma Manifestation” and “In the Revelations of Bloodstained Void” form a late album duo of interesting riffs and songwriting choices that similarly made me notice after the grind of previous songs.

Ultimately, these moments of promise are a little too few and far between to support a consistently satisfying listen, and I came away feeling that Veilburner definitely has alot of potential to grow if they focus their attack and rein in some of the more extraneous elements present in their sound. Ambition in progressive music is a great thing, and we need more bands who are dedicated to experimenting and trying new things. Veilburner may just be one of those bands, and next time they might just hit that mark.

Score: 5.5/10

Tracklist:

  1. Postmortem Exordium
  2. Necroquantum Plague Asylum
  3. Vaterchen
  4. Eucharist of the Breathing Abyss
  5. Masquerade Macabre
  6. Baphometic Catalyst
  7. Dilemma Manifestation
  8. In the Revelations of Bloodstained Void
  9. Phainops

 

Bandcamp: veilburner.bandcamp.com/album/the-obscene-rite

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Dysrhythmia – “The Veil of Control”

the-veil-of-controlMy first exposure to Dysrhythmia was when they played before Intronaut and Cynic back in 2009. I was not prepared for what I was witnessing; it was a simple trio but the sounds they were making were chaotic and dense, like getting hit with a full-blast fire hose of instrumental progressive metal.

Hitting play on track one from Dysrhythmia’s seventh full length “The Veil of Control” is reminiscent of that first exposure: controlled blast beats, atmospheric tones from the guitar and bass, dissonant chords ringing through what sounds like jamming madmen.

Let’s mention right here that guitarist Kevin Hufnagel and bassist Colin Marston also comprise ½ of the progressive metal brilliance of Gorguts, and my brain is trying to contrast and compare and I come up with “instrumental Gorguts” but that’s just my brain. I’m also reminded of early emo where the guitars were progressive enough to catch my attention (until the singing started).

I’ve read “post-prog-metal” and other taglines however Dysrhythmia really is in a class of their own. “Internal _ Eternal” begins with syncopated guitar and bass tapping and cymbal hits. This music isn’t quite as insane as Spastik Ink or Blotted Science but the same kind of listening is applicable: sit back and let the music take you where it is going, not to worry about “what part of the song is this?” Layered acoustic guitars thicken the second half of this song and it makes a huge difference.

Drummer Jeff Eber earns his pay on “Black Memory” which pushes tremolo picking through the Dysrhythmia grinder and I’m reminded of Mr. Bungle (“There’s no place like home”). “Selective Abstraction” dooms it up halfway through the track and then we’re presented with some of the funkiest Dysrhythmia on the CD. Check out the sick bass clinic on “Severed and Whole.” If you already describe yourself as a fan of Dysrhythmia this is an auto-purchase. If not, head to the Bandcamp page and hit play on that first track.

You’re welcome.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:

  1. The Veil of Control
  2. Internal_Eternal
  3. Black Memory
  4. Selective Abstraction
  5. Severed and Whole
  6. When Whens End

Label: Profound Lore Records
Bandcamp: profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-veil-of-control

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Canadian prog metallers Tactus premiere second track from “Bending Light”

tactusFredericton, New Brunswick five piece progressive metal band TACTUS are unleashing their debut full length ‘Bending Light’ on October 7th. The album features ten outer limit prog tracks produced by the band with mixing and mastering by Jamie King (Between The Buried In Me, Paradise Lost, Scale The Summit) to follow their previously released EPs ‘ins(T)rumental’ (2015) and ‘T’ (2014) plus singles ‘Enigma’ and their metal cover of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’.

The band has teamed up with us at Progressive Music Planet for the premiere of their behemoth of a second single ‘Goliath’.
Here’s what the band had to say about it:
“Goliath is one of the longest song’s we’ve ever written, and it actually went through the most iterations and re-writes of any song on the album. We think it captures some of the more progressive spirit of Bending Light, and is a great reflection of the directions in which we want to push our music in the future. We were beyond honoured to have incredible guitarist and our good friend Didier Archambault of Cardinals Pride put the cherry on top with the first guitar solo on the track.”

Here is ‘Golaith’:

The album is available for pre-order at the following links.

Regular Album Pre-Order with immediate download of single Scimitar:
Bandcamp Exclusive Version w/ instrumentals and complete guitar tablature plus immediate download of single Scimitar:

Formed in 2011 as a jam project by three fellow music students, the group has gone on to release several singles and EPs independently, while having the opportunity to share the stage with great metal acts like Protest the Hero, Intervals, Black Crown Initiate, and Mandroid Echostar. The group pride themselves on their infusion of multiple musical styles into hard-hitting riffs, epic choruses, and technically intense passages. Soaring melodies, guttural growls, and destructive breakdowns flow into soft, slow, and pensive segments of jazz and rock. Their compositional method, where songs are conceived, written, transcribed, and edited before they are ever learned or rehearsed, adds a level of refinement and fluidity not always found in heavier music. The band do almost all of their engineering work themselves, but have also worked with several talented producers. Their first EP T (June 2014), comprised of four previously released singles and one new song, featured the mixing and mastering handiwork of Gino Bambino (Novallo) and Justin Hill (SikTh). Their single Resurface (December 2014) was handled by George Lever (Burials).

bending-light

1. Anamnesis (2:12)
2. Aurora (6:26)
3. Scimitar (4:08)
4. All Roads (4:06)
5. Feast or Famine (4:58)
6. Colossus (4:20)
7. Goliath (7:14)
8. Cardinal (4:20)
9. Red and Ivory (6:56)
10. King of the Sky (14:35)
Album Length: 59.21

For more info, please visit: www.TactusBand.com.

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Noveria – “Forsaken”

cover-web-onlyItaly’s Noveria sound a lot like fellow countrymen DGM. Their approach is very similar. The main difference is that Noveria aren’t quite the songsmiths that DGM are. The riffs and hooks on “Forsaken” don’t really stay with you. Plus many times the riffs are just replaced with fast chugga chugga power metal rhythm playing. Consequently, Noveria come off as a bad photo copy of DGM rather than anything original.

This is not to say that the band aren’t talented. They are! Singer Francesco Corigliano has a great voice and excellent delivery. Guitarist Francesco Mattei and keyboardist Julien Spreutels frequently trade solos and are impressive. Still, Mattei just shreds and Spreutels in more of a melodic player so I tend to find the key solos more interesting.

The album is a concept involving “the different states of mind of a person facing a fatal illness.” I really didn’t follow the concept but it’s there. Songwise, the band are more comfortable when they are going as fast as they can like on “Shock.” But they do have more complex and interesting riffs on tracks like “Denial” and “[W]hole,” but the problem is they always retreat to doing a double time beat, rather than letting the groove just happen. They do slow down on “Acceptance” but wind up sounding like an 80s metal band with the backing vocals they use.

There are some guest vocals on a couple tracks that really add nothing. This is partially because they already have a good singer. It’s also because the guest performances are either out of place (death grunts randomly placed on couple tracks) or just out of key (Kate Nord seems to be searching for notes on “When Everything Falls”).

There is no denying that Noveria are talented but “Forsaken” comes off like a band that is overanxious to impress the listener. It might just be their approach or maybe they need to relax a little. Noveria aren’t DGM but fans of that band might like this album. Personally, I’ll stick with DGM and their new masterpiece “The Passage.”

Rating: 6.5/10

Tracklist:
1. Lost
2. Shock
3. Denial
4. When Everything Falls
5. Hatred
6. If Only
7. Isolate
8. [W]hole
9. Regrets
10. Utopia
11. Acceptance
12. Archangel

Label: Scarlet Records

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Opeth – “Sorceress”

opeth-sorceress-artwork“Sorceress” is yet another highly anticipated Opeth album. It is not some flashback to the days of when they were doing progressive death metal. The album is very much a part of their current period or phase. Personally, I love when bands have different phases in their musical career. Think of King Crimson, for example, or even Porcupine Tree. Bands that change their sound are truly progressive and Opeth, regardless of them sounding “retro,” are quite progressive when it comes to direction.

“Sorceress” fits nicely within the current period along side “Heritage” and “Pale Communion.” In fact, it sounds like a mix of those two albums. The issue I have is that rather than blending the sounds of those two records, there are sections of each within most of the tracks on this album. Those nearly in audible moments on “Heritage” have returned on “Sorceress.”

The album is bookended with two quieter instrumentals, “Persephone” and “Persephone (Slight Return).” The former makes for a decent opener and reminds me of how the song “Heritage” kicked off that album, quiet and even a touch awkward. The latter is a really, really quiet keyboard track that is under a minute and to be honest, forgettable.

Everyone has heard the title track and many have remarked at how heavy it is. But is it? I think it’s heavy for this PHASE but certainly not in context with their whole career. It’s a really good song though but while catchy like all of “Pale Communion,” it’s just not as good overall as any of the tracks on that album. “The Wilde Flowers” (did it get named for the band Soft Machine was before they changed the name?) is a bouncy track with an excellent hook. The problem with it is the mid-section that goes another very quiet (read: Heritage-like) direction. I don’t mind it, but it goes too long before the song rebounds.

Everyone has heard “Will O the Wisp” which is my favorite acoustic track on the album. After listening to the album as a whole, I have a better appreciation for the song. Yes it sounds a LITTLE like Tull but I don’t find it as Tull-like as many people have commented. Mikael’s delivery is a bit like Ian Anderson at times but other than that, it sounds like Opeth to me.

“Crysalis” was the track that immediately caught my attention because it is (for the most part) an ass kicker. It’s very Deep Purple meets Yes especially the solo section which has wicked guitar solos and Joakim Svalberg channeling Jon Lord on organ trading off. Should I mention that it mellows out too? People have mention that the album sounds like stoner rock. I really don’t hear that. Songs like the title track and this one have more in common with psych rock and heavy rock from the 70s.

Things get a bit tedious for me at this point. “Sorceress 2” is a quiet acoustic number with Mikael singing mostly in falsetto. The song has really nothing to do with the title track and while it’s a NICE song, it never holds my attention. “The Seventh Sojourn” is a middle eastern jam that feels completely out of place in the middle of the album. It never really goes anywhere and ends with a (you guessed it) unrelated quiet part. The track would really work better as the last song on the album replacing the existing snoozer “Persephone (Slight Return).”

“Strange Brew” is definitely strange. It has very distinct sections. The first 2 minutes are…QUIET AS HELL. BUT the last 2 minutes are some of the best music on the album. The middle includes some bluesy guitar soloing that is really killer as well. So I like the song but I think it could be better.

“A Fleeting Glance” begins with a very medieval harpsichord/acoustic guitar part that’s really cool. The meat of the song reminds me of Marillion at their most prog because it SOARS plus it’s one of two that I could hear being on “Pale Communion” The other being the song right after it, “Era.” Stop me if you’ve read this already but “Era” has a super quiet minute long intro that really isn’t needed but the bulk of the song really rocks and once Opeth get to the chorus, it’s definitely a favorite of mine on the album.

Many people will enjoy “Sorceress” but I think many will also hate it. I called “Pale Communion” the bridge BACK from “Heritage.” “Sorceress” might be the bridge back TO it. While I like and understand “Heritage” a lot more now than when I first heard it, it still was not the album that “Pale Communion” was. The same is true for “Sorceress.” Coming off of “Pale Communion,” this album is a bit of a let down BUT had this album come out BEFORE “Pale Communion” it might have made more sense to me. Still, it’s Opeth doing things however the fuck they want and I love that. While this is not ALWAYS an album to crank up in the car with the windows down, it is a very good headphone album and another intriguing chapter in the always fascinating book of Opeth.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:
1. Persephone
2. Sorceress
3. The Wilde Flowers
4. Will O The Wisp
5. Chrysalis
6. Sorceress 2
7. The Seventh Sojourn
8. Strange Brew
9. A Fleeting Glance
10. Era
11. Persephone (Slight Return)

Label: Moderbolaget Records/Nuclear Blast
Website: http://www.opeth.com

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The Dear Hunter – “Act V: Hymns With the Devil in Confessional”

V1054Casey Crescenzo and the band are back with the fifth album that’s part of their “Acts” theme. “Act IV” was released a year ago and for me, it was the best album that The Dear Hunter had released. While I do love “Act V,” it just doesn’t quite measure up to the previous 2 “acts.”

While I do love that Casey isn’t afraid to write songs that are over the top and even a bit campy, “Act V” seems to go a little too far overboard in that direction. Tracks like “The Most Cursed of Hands/Who am I” and the Sinatra meets Lennon sisters romp “Mr. Usher” are good songs but a little too far off the mark for me.

“Cascade” is one track that walks the line between over the top and excellent pop perfectly. “Gloria” is so damn catchy that it’s in my head, though the obvious rhyming of the title is a bit basic. “The Flame” is another song that combines the best that Casey does all in one song. On the downside, “Light” is a track that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t connect with it, especially the lyrics.

The bottom line is there’s nothing that Casey Crescenzo can’t write. He has proven over the course of the career of the Dear Hunter that he is the premiere prog song writer (not Neal Morse, folks). “Act V” might not be perfect but it’s far from typical or predictable and definitely a worthy next part of this six part series. I can’t wait for “Act VI,” which will be the finale.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklist:
1. Regress
2. The Moon / Awake
3. Cascade
4. The Most Cursed of Hands / Who Am I
5. The Revival
6. Melpomene
7. Mr. Usher (on His Way to Town)
8. The Haves Have Naught
9. Light
10. Gloria
11. The Flame (Is Gone)
12. The Fire (Remains)
13. The March
14. Blood
15. A Beginning

Label: Equal Vision
Website: thedearhunter.com

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