Tyfon’s Doom – Yeth Hound
Location: Tampere, Finland
Label: Gates of Hell Records
There are so many bands playing “retro-metal” these days, that it’s often difficult to find one that really stands out, particularly when all of them are influenced almost exclusively by Black Sabbath. As always, it boils down to who your influences are, and whether you choose to pay homage to them, or shamelessly rip them off. On Yeth Hound, the latest release from Tyfon’s Doom, it’s certainly more of the former, with a sound that is closer to the NWOBHM than the occult-laden doom most “retro” bands go for these days.
The first thing I noticed about Yeth Hound is how genuine it sounds; there are plenty of traces of Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden in the sound, but the music here channels those influences into something that feels a bit more sincere than your average occult rock act. The riffs are melodic and memorable, and the vocals sound like King Diamond’s lower range, with a little bit of snarl and grit. “Gate to New Reality” is a great example of everything that works about Tyfon’s Doom; the music has that famous galloping pace that Iron Maiden is known for, with some pretty flashy dueling lead-guitar work, and an epic, arena-ready feel overall. There are no cheesy “reefer smoke for the Dark Lord” vibes on this record, just solid, no frills heavy metal, and it’s a damn joy to listen to.
There’s a lot of reverb in the mix, particularly on the vocals, giving the music an even more old-school heavy metal vibe. Unfortunately, that reverb makes the cymbal crashes a little too strong, slightly distorting the overall tone in some areas, particularly the first couple of tracks. Also, the vocals, though they match the music pretty well, can get a little too nasally at times, as can be heard on “Rockers,” and “Galactic Flash/Last Ray of Light,” the latter featuring some terrible attempts at falsetto. Still, there’s a charm and sincerity in the vocals, and they tend to be spot anyway, so most of their problems can be overlooked. With just a little cleaning up in the mixing department, and some tightening in the musical performance, Tyfon’s Doom could really become a force to be reckoned with, proudly carrying into battle the banner for traditional heavy metal.
Centinex – Doomsday Rituals
Label: Agonia Records
Doomsday Rituals is Centinex‘s tenth album as a band, and their first since returning from a decade-long in 2014. Sporting a new line-up with members from Demonical and October Tide joining returning Centinex drummer Kennet Englund, the Swedish group brings about half an hour of new tunes to bear, and while it doesn’t really wow, they’re in good form and good spirits anyway.
With a history stretching back to 1990, it’s unsurprising that the group plays with a thoroughly old-school basis to their death metal, but there are numerous places in which they’ve updated their sound to draw in new listeners. The most immediately evident area of this would be the production, as everything has a nice balance between grit and sheen; at the same time, the drums, vocals, bass, and guitar all take shifts between old and new mindsets and, happily enough, pull it off as a clean mix instead of muddled squishings. Hard rolling beats, steady guitar growl, and thickly-barked growls provide a reliable set of consistencies to the songs, with change-ups in rhythms more common than tempo variance.
While it never gets all that vicious or violent with the music, it’s not a bad album with which to make a return, and the nods to old roots put in enough respect to where the group came from that they should be able to get away with some experimentation next time around. The members show a more-than-passable solidity in working together, and the feedback from this release should give them further ideas of how to develop their songs in the future. Still a few cobwebs to be wiped clear, but a promising restart on the whole.
Noire – The Tracks of the Hunted
With a smooth piano introduction, followed by a peaceful acoustic guitar, your first impressions of The Tracks of the Hunted might be deceiving. If, like me, you are not familiar with the band, you might even ask yourself whether this is some sort of ambiental project without any violence. And then… you’ll hear the screams.
As if they wanted to give you a false sense of security, Noire packed this EP with several soft instrumental tunes. Even as background noise, they appear to be nondescript, even though something about them seems to keep you on your toes. “Eternity,” for example, is made up of an acoustic guitar piece that somehow conveys a sense of unease and urgency. If you are not paying attention, you might miss it, but there are painful shrieks in the background, as well as some ominous chants, while a bell tolls somewhere in the distance. The balance of the audio is moved from left to right, creating a vertiginous sensation, even if you are not fully aware of what is happening or why.
The EP carries a single traditional metal song, although with a running time of almost 9 minutes. It’s the kind of death metal that Opeth were doing before Mikael Akerfeldt decided to go full King Crimson on the world, although with some elements that remind me a lot of melodic black metal bands like Watain and Dissection. It’s a powerful track, and it actually benefits a lot from its surroundings. Being packaged with soft pieces, “The Tracks of the Hunted,” the band’s sole foray into heavy metal, is able to grab you by the throat and not let go.