Sguaguarahchristis – Der Nacht
Label: This Winter Will Last Forever
I enjoy hearing bands that stretch the boundaries of black metal; it’s healthy to keep pumping fresh blood and new ideas into the mix, otherwise the scene will grow stale and people will want to move on. That being said, sometimes I really want to hear bands that play just good old raw and bleak sounding black metal, similar to the Scandinavian scene of the early 90’s. It’s what got me into the genre in the first place, and I’ll always have a soft-spot for that early stuff, lo-fi recordings and all.
Sguaguarahchristis seem to embody the very spirit of that early black metal scene; the music is raw, abrasive, and has a lo-fi quality to it that feels like a genuine attempt to return black metal to its roots. The second track, “Act II: Transparent Tears from Saturnus” sounds like it could have been an outtake from Destroyer by Gorgoroth, with its chaotic attack, mixed with an air of melancholy. In fact, there’s a real sense of sorrow throughout the album, bordering on the depressive strain of black metal, though Sguaguarahchristis seem more content in waging sonic warfare than they do in providing a suicide soundtrack.
There are a wide variety of textures and tones in the music; there’s melody, occasional spooky piano pieces like the last few seconds of “Transparent Tears from Saturnus,” and a lot blast beats and walls of savage guitars. There’s an almost hypnotic quality, similar to the early works of Burzum, though with a much better recording. Really, you can trace influences to nearly every band in the early Norwegian scene, though presented here with a few modern twists, and certainly a better production.
As far as the production, for those used to the lo-fi approach that most of the second wave black metal bands took, the production on Der Nacht will feel pretty familiar. Although the music sounds almost like it’s floating in from a dream or, more accurately, some hazy nightmare, the quality is good enough to be able to pick out each instrument (although, as usual, I would like to hear more bass).
Sguaguarahchristis have certainly offered up a solid black metal effort that will please fans of all things “grim” and “kvlt.” If you like your black metal raw, with a little melody and a lot of atmosphere, pick up a copy of Der Nacht.
Emrevoid – Riverso
Label: Drown Within Records
Riverso, Emrevoid’s follow-up EP to 2011’s self-titled full length, shows that Italy is still a force to be reckoned with in the heavy metalworld. Sinister black metal melodies meet intense death metal ferocity, making for a truly intense listening experience. Gaetano Rizzo’s vocals show a pretty wide range of sounds, from super deep death growls, similar to those of Frank Mullen’s from Suffocation, to high pitched black metal shrieking. His vocal control is impressive, and serves the often schizophrenic nature of the music, which bounces back and forth from death to black metal pretty seamlessly.
One exception is the album opener, “Patibolo,” which starts out with a pretty menacing black metal vibe, before going into a choppy, almost deathcore-like vibe. The transition is pretty clunky, it actually feels a little forced, and the song never really recovers; thankfully, though, this is the only bump in the road, as the rest of the album is executed with precision. “Mostro”, for example, despite being a short song (it clocks in at just over a minute and a half), serves as a sampler for the album; the music is fast and brutal, but with an unsettling and chaotic atmosphere, reminiscent of Deathspell Omega, though a little less technical.
The production is top-notch for this particular brand of metal; there’s a big emphasis on guitars and vocals, but there’s still plenty of the rhythm section in the mix too, which accents the heaviness. There’s a slight echo effect to everything, which gives Riverso a distinctly black metal tone, and provides an eerie atmosphere to the music. Emrevoid have created a pretty impressive record, and will certainly have a lot of blackened death fans salivating. Although the first track is a misstep, the rest of the album more than makes up for it.
Morning Chaos – Addicted
In my early years of High School metal was in a transitional period; grunge had already come and gone, more and more bands had incorporated hip hop into their sound, giving birth to the much maligned sub-genres known as rap metal and nu metal. This didn’t last too long before another movement of bands decided to take back the airwaves; dropping the baggy pants and DC shoes, and incorporating grunge and stoner rock, bands like Creed, Nickelback, and Godsmack came into the scene. It was an odd time to be a metalhead; one minute you’re getting your ass kicked for dressing differently and listening to a bunch of long-haired bands, the next all the jocks and preps are getting tribal tattoos and banging their heads. It was frustrating seeing metal get re-packaged and marketed to people that didn’t give a damn about the roots of the music, degenerating into the soundtrack for suburbanite to voice their outrage at their parents for not buying them the latest cell phones or video games.
Morning Chaos are a band from Belgium that haven’t forgotten those times in the early 00’s, and with their latest EP, Addicted, they show that “post-grunge,” radio hard rock, or whatever you want to call it, is still alive and well. “A Thousand Deaths” is a pretty good indicator of what to expect on the rest of the album; crunchy down-tuned guitars, vocals that have a little grit and a lot of twang, and big drums, giving off a Godsmack meets Alice In Chains vibe. The drumming is a little sloppy at times, and you get the feeling that the man behind the kit is really trying to show off his chops, but ends up running out of time on his fills before he has to get back on beat. The guitars are pretty groove-oriented, with some occasional lead guitar work thrown in, but nothing ever gets too complicated. The transitions from heavy riff to softer acoustic passages on the verses, like you hear on “Torn Away,” have been done countless times by countless other bands, particularly around Ozzfest 2001, give or take a couple of years.
The production is the best thing about Addicted; every instrument is given an equal voice in the mix, and showcases that Morning Chaos definitely have a good chemistry between the musicians. It’s just unfortunate that everything written on this record can be traced right back to another radio-friendly 10 or 11 years ago, namely Godsmack, Drowning Pool, or even a little bit of Staind. “Narcissus” is the biggest offender on the album, with some rapped vocals that really sets the music back in the dark ages of radio friendly pop-metal, and genuinely had me gritting my teeth. All I can say in closing for Addicted is that it has come just a little too late to make any kind of a real impact in the rock/metal world.
I’m a huge proponent and supporter of the new wave of traditional heavy metal. New bands playing in metal’s old styles are very exciting to me, especially if they’re bringing their own identity and ideas to the table. While Kaine shows plenty of promise on The Waystone, their latest album, they sadly spend most of their time on long,drawn out Maiden-isms that never really take the listener anywhere.
Rage Sadler, rhythm guitarist and vocalist, spends most of the album using his best Bruce Dickinson impression, which although is not exactly a bad thing, prevents him from finding his own voice (something every singer should strive to do). That being said, if that’s his starting point as a vocalist then he clearly already has strong roots and he’ll eventually find his own way of doing things.
The riffs are solid and entertaining, the rhythm section is loose and energetic, and for an indie release it’s very well recorded. The problem lies with the songs. As they are, many of them seem to be in need of some judicious editing. At times many of them feel like they go on for 2-3 minutes longer than they need to, which serves to ruin the first half of many of them by the sheer force of monotony. That’s a real shame as most of the songs are populated by moments of greatness.
Kaine seem to still be searching for their own voice. They wear their influences on their sleeves and clearly put their hearts in what they’re doing. While they aren’t yet ready for “the big time”, I’ll definitely be taking an interest in what they bring to the table with their next recording. Maybe it’ll be a bit more of themselves.
Well, that’s it for now! Tune in next Wednesday to see what new demos we’ll have for you! In the meantime, drop us a line if you think there are any releases we should review!