October Tide – Winged Waltz
Label: Agonia Records
Winged Waltz brings a doom-death performance steeped in 90s styling that is like a slowed down version of Opeth’s My Arms, Your Hearse. October Tide’s main tools are trudging guitars and guttural growls punctuated with airy screams. While the vocals and guitar alone are competent enough to establish a consistent mood, the rest of the performance suffers under the fist of the production.
The percussion and bass are pushed way back to the point where the bass is only heard while going solo and the drums are but a whisper. An attentive ear will find that the drummer is going all out, but it sounds like they’re playing in a venue on the other side of town.
Having only two strong elements in the music results in Winged Waltz lacking features and texture. The performance is monotone at best, which is especially damning when all the songs are clocking in at over five minutes. It is easy to get lost in the album, not in a fascinating hypnotic way, but out of sheer confusion. It’s kind of like being stuck in a really lame forest where there’s no chance you’ll run out of supplies and occasionally a cardboard cut-out boogey man jumps around a tree and says, “Boo.”
Winged Waltz has solid aspects, but only possesses enough content to reasonably fill an EP. The album begs for a serious editorial trim and fixing the production. There’s a good album buried somewhere in here, but it’s probably not worth the massive effort needed to excavate it.
Eversin – Flagellum Dei
Label: Club Inferno Entertainment
The influence Sepultura (particularly the Max Cavalera period) have had on metal can be felt in multiple sub-genres, including thrash, death, groove, and even nu metal. Their music always had a primal, visceral feel to it that has influenced countless bands over the years. This is certainly the case with Flagellum Dei, the latest EP by the Italian progressive thrash outfit Eversin.
On this latest release, Eversin cover “Refuse/Resist” from Sepultura’s Chaos A.D., with guest lead vocals by Mick Montaguti from Electrocution. It’s a pretty faithful version of the song, and happens to be one of my favorite Sepultura tracks. When you compare it to the other three songs on this EP, it’s clear how much influence it has had on Eversin’s groove-oriented metal.
The three original tracks are re-recordings of previously released songs and, unfortunately, don’t quite hold up as well as the cover tune. The riffs have plenty of groove, the bass is thick, and the snarling vocals are reminiscent of Slayer, but the mix gets bogged down by the drums, particularly the cymbals. There’s so much going on, and everything is turned up so high in the mix, you get this extra-distorted sound that really makes things too muddy to enjoy. The songs themselves are fairly enjoyable, though the last track is an “industrial remix” that doesn’t quite work due to the production issues. With less crash cymbals in the mix, as well as backing the reverb on everything off a bit, this could have been a pretty decent record. Even “Refuse/Resist” would benefit from a little cleaning up, though the care put into re-creating the original feel of that song can certainly be felt in the performance of the musicians.
Although Eversin have some decent songs, unfortunately they fall just a bit short of releasing a decent EP. Even with a pretty excellent cover, poor production really prevents Flagellum Dei from being a must-own record. Unless you’re already a fan and feel the need to snatch up everything they release, it’s probably best to wait for another full-length.
Phobocosm – Bringer Of Drought
Label: Dark Descent Records
Canada has a pretty rich history of producing some of the heaviest and most innovative bands in death metal, with Gorguts, Kataklysm, and Cryptopsy being notable examples. Phobocosm carry on that proud tradition with this year’s Bringer Of Drought, the second full-length from the band.
Moody, atmospheric, claustrophobic are all applicable when describing Bringer Of Drought. Lying somewhere between the crushing doom of Anhedonist, the dark, crushing heaviness of Dead Congregation, and the chaotic technicality of Gorguts, Phobocosm have crafted some of the moodiest death metal I’ve heard in a while. There are so many moods and textures in each song, ranging from sorrow and despair to blinding, black rage, often at the same time. The epic closing track, “Fallen,” is a great example of this; eerie, disorienting guitar riffs put the listener on edge, before building into a black metal-tinged fury. Phobocosm have a rare gift for creating a tone that can be described as both brooding and brutal at the same time, while maintaining a technical edge. I’m also reminded of Ulcerate, who similarly mix the atmosphere and mood of post-metal and doom with the fury and technical prowess of death metal.
Production is handled by Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Krallice), who manages to make Bringer Of Drought even more interesting by allowing each instrument to shine, while not taking off any of the grime in the tone. Excellent songwriting can be rendered useless if the sound isn’t right, but Phobocosm have nailed the perfect balance between atmosphere and technical ability. If you like your death metal menacing, but atmospheric, take a chance on this record!