3 Inches of Blood
This week’s blog is chock full of stuff, from an Eluveite concert review to a rundown of the weekend’s local metal happenings and a slew of CD reviews. Reviews include folk metal new releases from Falkenbach and Korpiklaani as well as new releases from Impiety, Infernal War/Kreigsmaschine, Misery and Neuraxis.
It ain’t all metal but SLUG’s 22nd anniversary party goes down this Friday, Feb. 18. Check out the metal of Utah’s Speitre, featured in this month’s issue of SLUG. $6 gets you in to the madness and fun that will be this shindig at the Urban Lounge.
Friday at Club Vegas (21+) Comcast’s Bandwagon Live will be recording performances from A Balance of Power, Incidious, Arsenic Addiction and Guttshot—go check out the local metal and be on TV. Advance tickets are $5, $7 day of the show.
Also Friday the Shred Shed hosts Gaza, Reviver and Maraloka. $5 gets all ages in and tunes get underway around 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday night Feb. 19, Heidi’s Heavy Metal Bash hosts Toxic Dose, Hooga, Means Nothing and My Own Time at Club Vegas. Advance tickets are $5, $7 day of the show
Eluveitie Show Review
The finger that I’m supposed to have on the pulse of the local and national metal scenes is obviously having issues. Last Saturday night I expected to find a tiny crowd at the first Utah appearance of Swiss born Celtic/folk/melodic death metal band Eluveite. Low and behold, my wife and I were greeted by a packed house as we entered the smaller portion of In the Venue (I’m not sure what it’s called). So much for my finger and the supposed pulse that it’s on.
I heard about three chords of Metal Blade records opening act System Divide, looked at the band and headed straight for the bar. I knew what System Divide was about having reviewed their debut album—basically a more breakdown filled and highly boring version of Soilwork with a male and female vocalist. They had the crowd pumped and rocking out though, so I’ll give them that. They also had the smart idea giving their new album away for free with the purchase of a t-shirt. Needless to say, there were quite a few people wearing System Divide t-shirts by the end of the night.
Hitting the stage next was supposed to be retro-metal crew Holy Grail, but apparently their bus broke down and saved me the pain of suffering through their set. Not only do I dislike their music, but I have a grudge against the vocalist for an encounter that occurred when I saw the band open for Exodus last year. Enter 3 Inches of Blood, who one could say were doing the retro-metal thing before it was cool. They released their first full-length in 2002, but hit more fame with their 2004 Roadrunner Records album Advance and Vanquish. and evem had what I’d call a metal “hit” with their song “Deadly Sinners.” I never liked the band enough to catch them headline a set, which they’ve done in Utah plenty of times, but they did a great job a cranking out the metal. The band has two vocalists, one utilizing harsh, growled vocals and the using falsetto screams—like King Diamond falsetto high. I say if you can do it and pull it off, do it. Needless to say I enjoyed the band’s set, but I wouldn’t pay money to see them headline a show unless the package had bands I enjoyed on it.
I first encountered Eluveitie about four years ago when their album Slania came out. I enjoyed their records to an extent, but found my folk/Celtic metal fixes from other bands. I think Eluveite got the short end of the stick in regards to their sound offering in the live setting that night. One issue is they had to stack seven members (by my count) on the tiny stage, which didn’t give some of the members sufficient rocking out space. Also just an educated guess here I, (but I could be wrong since they’re doing an overseas tour) but they had no amps or gear of their own on the stage. My pure assumption was that all of their sound was coming from the venue’s sound system, which to my ears—wounded as they may be from too many loud concerts—muffled the bagpipes, flutes, violin and mandolin that Eluveite incorporated into their set. The folk/Celtic appeal that the band has became a bit lost in the mix, but the band played recognizable songs. The crowd was constantly worked up by Eluveitie’s energetic frontman Christian “Chrigel” Glanzmann, who not only played multiple instruments but also got the crowd (most of which didn’t know the lyrics) to chant along with the melody. My opinion here really is moot—my wife likes the band and so did probably the vast majority of people at the venue. When you’re seeing a band you love live, sound quality has a way of not affecting your opinion as much and still lets you have fun. If you’re into Eluveite a great deal and you went to the show, you had a blast If you missed it, you may have missed the band’s only performance in Utah, but the people with bags of merch leaving the venue as well as plenty of smiling faces might influence Eluveite to return to Utah. I don’t think there was a dissatisfied customer in the house.
Blog Exclusive CD Reviews
Falkenbach = Eluveitie + Folkearth + Bathory (Viking era) + Tyr
If any fan of Falkenbach expects the band to sound the same after a six-year absence of recorded works, they expect way too much—look back into your life and see where you were at six years ago as compared to now. Tiurida, the band;s fifth full-length album, dominating you ear space, filling every little audio canal with something that either feels very old worldly or otherworldly. The Viking themes on the album shine through and the album’s title of Tiurida—which means glory—fits with the album well. There are some battle hymns on the album, but there are also some epic “raise your stein of mead and celebrate” anthems too. If music is an escape, this album is a fantastical escape to something humanity is now far from. Yes, Falkenbach’s sole member, Vratyas Vakyas, uses electric guitars, amplification and distortion, but Tiurida feels like it came out of some time wormhole to remind just about everyone of their roots. The songwriting is massively diverse and so are the instruments here—folk instruments accompany thundering guitar riffs. Arguably this new offering may not be as raw and primal as previous efforts from Falkenbach, but it’s so well put together and crafted you won’t care. –Bryer Wharton
Worshipers of the Seventh Tyranny
Impiety = Destroyer 666 + Impaled Nazarene + Bleeding Fist
Masters of speed, blasphemy and mayhem, Impiety deliver one solid piece of music for their seventh full-length album Worshipers of the Seventh Tyranny. The album is one track, clocking in at 33 seconds over 38 minutes, and it’s ambitious as all hell. Some one-track albums just run rampant and wild, playing themes, leaving them and winding up feeling like an album that could be made up of split tracks—something Impiety does not succumb to with Worshipers. Tempos fluctuate and performances stand out in every aspect of instruments used—bass, drums, guitar and vocals. The album was done with pretty much a completely revamped line-up minus the sole remaining founding member Shyaithan who enlisted a talented diversified crew for the album. Is this Impiety’s best? Unfortunately no, but it does offer a different brand of tunes and musical styles than Impiety’s usual dosages of outright speed. Instead a vast majority of the track that makes up the album is downright dirge-filled or momentum builders with riffs stacking on top of each other. When the speed does break out, it’s fast as hell and wildly raging, with structured guitar leads and solos that strike havoc and fear in listeners. As far as albums being one single track, Impiety succeed and offer fans something different and earnestly enjoyable. –Bryer Wharton
Agonia Records/Malignant Voices
Infernal War/Kreigsmaschine = Satyricon + Averse Sefira + Evangelivm + Marduk
Poland isn’t quite known for a brimming black metal scene, but this split EP showcases two bands that could very well put the country’s black metal on the map. Not only is the EP enjoying a wider distribution than it was originally given, but the five songs on the EP—three of which are Infernal War and two Kriegsmachine’s—are accessible to underground BM fans as well as fans of the more produced black metal styles. Infernal War reminds me a bit of an angrier, faster version of Rebel Extravaganza Satyricon. Infernal War’s contributions aren’t overwhelmingly good, though they showcase the bands ability to increase and decrease tempos. Their black metal also doesn’t succumb to the full on tremolo walls of sounds—think a fair mix of Swedish and Norwegian BM styles. Kreigsmachine’s offerings teeter very close to being black/death metal with some almost punk/d-beat influences. The bottom end in their sound is much heavier ended than Infernal War, giving the riffing and overall sound of their tracks a heavier feeling. This is intriguing enough to warrant a purchase in some form to get an understanding of the bands—Besides, EPs and splits are cheap. –Bryer Wharton
Korpiklaani = Finntroll + Turisas + Elvenking (old)
Finland’s Korpiklaani have been doing the folk metal thing for almost a decade, and I give them props to sticking to their guns and pretty much doing whatever the hell they want to do. The band is one of those that fits the love-hate relationship with fans and listeners—the gritty vocals, all sung in Finnish, and the quirky methods in which the band utilizes folk instruments (namely the Accordion) can make some people run in fear, never mind the crazy paces of some of the band’s anthems. Like many others, I hold the band’s 2006 album Tales Along this Road in quite a high regard. and the band has never really topped it since. Don’t let the fact that Ukon Wacka isn’t the band’s best material sway you from listening, especially if you feast for something distinctively different in your metal and need plenty of upbeat songs to get your metal jigs a’goin. There are a few songs that you’ll feel like spinning often from this new offering and a few you’ll skip, but it’s a great break from the more angry metal fare. The new record starts out much like previous albums, but enters the folk territory mid-album. Aside from not sounding a lot like anything else, this album is damn catchy and fun if you’re in the right mood. There’s plenty worse you could do than this in the folk-metal realm. –Bryer Wharton
Evil is Crowned
Misery = Skinlab + Life of Agony (old) + Lamb of God + Vision of Disorder + Hatebreed
What initially sounded like a fairly standard groove metal album in Long Island, NY’s Misery quickly grew on me after a few spins. Aesthetically, the record is pleasing in its simple, earnest, heavy-pounding fashions—lots of groove and thrash-it-up riffs. The songs may bleed together a bit, but it really doesn’t hurt the urge to go through the record again as tracks will grow on you. “Social Anxiety,” “Gone Tomorrow” and “Bullet” do a great job at ripping it up and providing a bit extra flavor than the flat out mayhem that Lamb of God tend to dwell on as of late. The album’s production, handled by friend of the band, Joey Z of Life of Agony, fits perfectly. The mixing of style is abundant—Bay Area thrash, southern groove, NYC hardcore & punk, early-to-mid career Vision of Disorder mixed with New American Gospel LOG—and it’s a decent direction of what Misery dish out. Modern metal fans will eat this up, since it has everything a record of its genre needs and then some. The only real drawback is the vocals, which can feel a bit out of place at time and the cover art doesn’t really have the ability to pop out of your local CD shops racks. Oh, and forget the dreadful cover of Nine Inch Nails “Head Like a Hole,” unless you’re up for a laugh. –Bryer Wharton
Neuraxis = Psycroptic + Cephalic Carnage + Leng Tch'e
Neuraxis has enough name power to persevere and keep going, despite containing no original members. Asylon is what I pretty much expected to hear from the band: it’s cold, calculated tech/death with some decent melodies in the mix. A couple tracks stood out (“Trauma” and the album closer “Left to Devour”), but the rest sort of bleed in with one another. One thing I’ve noticed about tech/death in any form is that it’s really hard to nail any hard or jarring emotions because the band is so intent and focused on their songwriting almost to a mathematical sense. The music feels like a machine and not humans created it. No discredit to Neuraxis, as the drummer handles himself quite well and there are some great licks and tech guitarwork that doesn’t play out as overly-wankerish, but the vocals are pretty stale death growls and screeches—a huge lifeless feel to them. If you’re a fan of the band or modern tech/death this is worth looking into. –Bryer Wharton