Monday, March 31, 2014

Grey Skies Fallen - The Many Sides of Truth

New York's long running Grey Skies Fallen return with their self-released, almost crowd-funded new album, The Many Sides of Truth - a title that could easily refer to their varied and eclectic style. It's to the band's credit that their music has so many different facets that it defies easy categorization. Trying to sum the album up with a facile genre tag like "blackened doom" or "gothic metal" would be reductive and misleading. 'The Peaceville Three' are a noticeable influence - but so are Pink Floyd. In general, GSF sound more European than American; there's a definite kinship with bands like In The Woods... and The 3rd And the Mortal in the way that they go from oppressive to vulnerable to operatic within the same track.

The album revolves around four long songs separated by instrumentals. Opener "Ritual of the Exiter" kicks the album off in a moody and shuffling fashion before careening suddenly into a blasting rager. "The Flame" goes in the opposite direction, beating the listener up with epic black metal that transforms into a dirge built around Craig Rossi's forlorn piano melody. The keyboards are front and centre on "Of the Ancients", which is sure to raise eyebrows as it strides boldly and purposefully into melodramatic rock opera territory. "End of My Rope" finishes the album in headbanging style and leaves the listener on a sanguine note. At the heart of the band's sound is the interplay between the keyboards and the guitars and throughout it all, vocalist Rick Habeeb is in fine form, switching from a full bodied tenor to tortured screams as the music demands.

Grey Skies Fallen are in an unenviable position; on one hand, their music should appeal to anyone with a broad view of metal's history and who wants to see it branch out of its self-imposed restrictions. By releasing the album on their own, they can bypass any record label looking to shoehorn them into a more marketable genre. Unfortunately, the current musical climate seems to reward talented plagiarists over bold visionaries. Here's hoping the tide is turning the other way and The Many Sides of Truth finds its audience.

The Many Sides of Truth will be released 29 April 2014 and is now available for pre-order through Bandcamp.

In addition to the CD and digital versions, the album will also be released on vinyl ("Our first foray into vinyl!" says the band), including coloured/splattered vinyl and a limited edition "Glow-in-the-Dark" version. The vinyl comes packaged with a green variant cover by Travis Smith, and is also available for pre-order through Bandcamp.

Grey Skies Fallen on Facebook

Grey Skies Fallen Website

Monday, March 24, 2014

Symptom of the Universe

"War Pigs" was playing on a loop during jiu jitsu training on Friday. Specifically, the version from the sequel to 300 (or as I like to call it, "Pride Parade: the Movie"). Turns out, contrary to what I previously thought, Sabbath does not in fact give me super powers. Though getting slaughtered by my buddies didn't make me forget any of the words, so there's that.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Infinity Horror, KhaoZ, Amputated, Dephosphorus

Are we witnessing the rebirth of Brazilian death metal? Sao Paolo's Infinity Horror certainly make a case with their excellent demo Celestial Profanation. Though more tempered than the bands like Krisiun and Mental Horror that exploded out of the region in the late 90's, the 3 songs on offer are chockfull of blastbeats and blasphemous intent - the two things that made the scene there so endearing.  The demo is available as a "name your price" download.

With members of Dutch death metal lifers Pleurisy and Houwitzer, KhaoZ should have known better than to saddle themselves with such a hokey band name. Luckily, I, Creator of Damnation is a neck-wrecking slice of hellacious death-thrash, with a few modern flourishes to keep things from falling into revivalist tedium. Fans of vintage Sinister and Defleshed will find lots to love. [€2.50] 

Remember when death metal was glutted with Cannibal Corpse clones? London's Amputated probably look back on those days fondly. Dissect, Molest, Ingest  follows in the button-pushing footsteps of their gory forebears with song titles like "Gorging On Putrid Discharge (septic felch, wretched belch)" and "When Whores Meet Saws". The lyrical content may be straight out of the 8th grade (and was probably held back a few times) but the music is top notch - hook-driven and memorable. Besides, not every band can be Abnormality. [£7]

Greeks Dephosphorus do like to keep you guessing; ostensibly a blackened death metal album, Ravenous Solemnity wanders occasionally into noisecore and tech-death territory. The result is surprisingly cohesive and shows how much bands have to gain by colouring outside the lines once in a while.  [€6]

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Deformatory Interview

Canadian blasters Deformatory impressed me with their debut album In the Wake of Pestilence, a melee of jackhammer drums and tasteful shredding. I love me some Canadian death metal, so I e-mailed some questions to the band, which guitarist/vocalist Charlie Leduc, guitarist Jeffery Calder and drummer Neil Grandy took turns answering (the band is completed by bassist Justin Brazeau).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Crutches, PARASIT, Cripple Bastards, Nausea

DoC faves Crutches have issued their new album Lurad on Bandcamp. It's everything that made kids in Rumah Api run around in circles and bounce off of walls (and the concrete floor): D-Beat with a gnarly metal edge. Meanwhile, the anti-religious screed "Absolution" shows that our Swedish friends have more in common with Entombed than just a guitar pedal. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Meanwhile, in nearby Stockholm PARASIT share space on the same HM-2 fueled crusty hardcore plane. Blisteringly fast and out of control, the four songs on Bag of Enemies (which also includes a Disrupt cover) would have been right at home sitting between Driller Killer and Wolfpack on a Distortion Records sampler back in the day. The EP is available as a "name your price" download.

Italian provocateurs Cripple Bastards have returned with their second album for Relapse. Nero In Metastasi may stand as the band's most accomplished album - a tight and unrelenting grind fest that is boosted with some slick riffage that recalls the likes of Exhumed and Impaled. Recording at the legendary Studio Fredman was an inspired idea; the sound highlights the band's exceptional musicianship without diluting their fury. Highly recommended. [$9.99]

This one slipped by me until fairly recently: Grindcore OG Oscar Garcia is back with a new Nausea release. With a mix of new and unreleased songs (plus a revamp of the classic Terrorizer rager "Corporation Pull In"), Condemned to the System sounds more like classic Terrorizer than Terrorizer do these days (though "Dr. Blastbeat" Eric Castro doesn't have quite the same presence behind the kit as Commando Sandoval). Anyone who heard World Downfall at an impressionable age will appreciate reliving the good old days. [$7.99]

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Defender of the Faith

have your non-metal friends told you about Babymetal? don't worry, they will.
A good friend of mine sent me this article about Japanese act "Babymetal" (ugh). My friend is neither particularly interested in nor knowledgeable about this music, but every so often he runs across something that he thinks relates to metal and can't wait to share it with me. He's invariably disappointed in my reaction (or, as he puts it, disappointed in me).