Review: Deus Omega – In Absentia of Light

Deus Omega - In Absentia of Light

The Sydney-based Progressive Death/Black Metal project Deus Omega — managed by singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alex Moore — released its new album titled “In Absentia of Light” on March 20th. It includes, wait for it, whooping 23 songs in total, and remains true to the project’s genre description which borders on experimental in every kind of meaning. Sudden rhythm changes, crushing guitar riffs, combination of growl, scream and clean vocals, and blast beats are some of the parts that make up this release. 

Whole album has a cinematic, dark vibe what is easily derived from the title. That also adds a bit of avantgarde to the mix. Moore’s vocals are outstanding, and they certainly deepen the atmosphere making everything more meaningful. The only remark here is the album’s length; not that I’m complaining but there is enough material here for three separate releases what just speaks about the talent of this Australian musician.

It is a good thing to see that Deus Omega is keen on exploring different elements in their music. “In Absentia of Light” is a success, and is truly one of the 2018 albums that surprised me the most so far. Hear it on Spotify.

Review: 23 Acez – Embracing the Madness

23 Acez - Embracing the Madness

Prog/Heavy metallers from Belgium, 23 Acez, have been around since 2010, and they have recently returned with their third album “Embracing the Madness.” Why the hell didn’t I know about them earlier? Now, thanks to the PR wire, I got a promo copy of the mentioned release, which is a real t(h)reat. 

The style that 23 Acez plays is pretty standard, comparing somewhat with more traditionalist ‘80s metal throwbacks, yet they manage to sound different and fresh when compared with a lot of the other bands that attempt to play in this particular style.

Benny Willaert’s vocals are gravely and rough, standing at the very center of the counter-tenor wails of Rob Halford and the husky baritone of Blaze Bailey. During the choruses of such catchy anthems as “Cellbound” and “Embracing the Madness” the vocal work almost punches past the rest of the arrangement. While he doesn’t soar into the higher stratosphere in the manner that most in the genre do, he more than compensates with sheer power.

Although the voice alone gives this album a heavy yet melodic edge, the entire arrangement pounds the sonic threshold of the listener into submission. Whether its faster songs like or down tempo stomping machines, there is a consistent picture of a mighty fist slamming itself down on a stone table and commanding your undivided attention.

“Embracing the Madness” is a powerful statement from a band that is hungry to show what their abilities are, and according to this they have much more to offer. Grab this record, you’ll not regret.

Review: Vikrit – The King in Exile

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Vikrit is a progressive metal band from India influenced by variety of different styles. The band has been together for over seven years, but earlier this year they put out their debut EP The King in Exile.

It could easily be said that Vikrit plays progressive metal with elements of heavy metal/hard rock and extreme take on the prog metal genre, and fans of likes such Lam of God, Pantera, Periphery, Mastodon, and Opeth are apt to find something familiar in their sound. Tracks generally consist of simple dominating metal chord patterns with more complex underlying melodies. Instead of focusing on technical musicianship, each track of The King in Exile attempts to evoke a certain mood or feeling – and it does this quite well. Most tracks revolve around a central musical theme, but they manage to repeat themselves without feeling repetitive. Though the music is never too heavy or too relaxed, it still manages to span a wide range of musical styles, with tracks that are equal parts dark, calm, angry and passionate. It is vibrant with emotional quality, and the music is very refined – The King in Exile certainly has a high production quality, and the members of Vikrit know how to complement each other well.

That is, in fact, the album’s greatest strength. The music and the vocals suit each other very well, and combine to create the emotional experience that is the album’s best quality. 

Ultimately, The King in Exile is very well made for what it is. While those who prefer more complex melodies won’t find it enthralling, it is clear that Vikrit’s members are quite talented, and the simple nature of the music is more of a stylistic choice than an indicator of poor musicianship. The King in Exile left quite a good impression on me. It is subdued but expressive, with little technicality but a lot of feeling.

The King in Exile is available from iTunes.

In the Passing Light of Day

Pain of Salvation makes a grand return to their metal roots — album does manage to pack more than adequate amounts of dissonance and melody. ‘The Beatles’ like undercurrents still remain intact. In short, along with caustic riffs and coarse vocals, we get more than subtle glimpses of blues rock — vividly expressed through the same old characteristic Pain of Salvation torment.

Drums run a tad out of phase with hardcore punk like riffs — effortlessly blending into those matching vocal screams — add those precise temporal switches and the rare combination of aggression with progressive metal harmony is complete.

Heavy and mellow – discordant and melodic – In the Passing Light of Day integrates not just sonic contradictions, but emotions uncomfortably fragile for heavy metal – “You’re watching me slowly slip away, Like the passing light of day, Watching our colors turning grey, Like the passing light of day”

Rated 5/5 – for that unparalleled experience.

Image Attribution:
By Selbymay [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Black Clouds & Silver Linings…& More

Five days of listening to Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, another couple of days with Octavarium — no doubt, with this band mind is always in a great place. But, “just when I thought I was out…Bryan pull me back in”. Black Clouds & Silver Linings is the last Dream Theater album I thoroughly enjoyed. Always play it from start to finish – like how all progressive albums should be explored. On top of their usual run-of-the mill complexity; we get to hear some grungy riffs, narrative vocals, extended melodic passages and a violin. Essentially, it’s another astonishing display of Dream Theater School of craft.

Years ago I used to be a regular at this metal bar. The place had two categories of head-bangers — ones who resented Dream Theater, but admired Tool. Then there was the faction obsessed with the former, but at best indifferent towards Tool. Most of the Dream Theater critics were tripped by that brazen exhibitionism. Usual complaints include: they take themselves too seriously, or the band is mostly about Rudess and Portnoy sharing time slots whenever Petrucci takes a break. LaBrie is awfully off-pitch was also a rather popular opinion. Myung was generally spared from these searing insightful dissections.

Perpetually warring metal tribes aside, Tool is also a lot about that brazen self-indulgent exhibitionism. As much as these bands differ musically, they do share that striking quality. So it’s merely a question of choice – of your brand of pretentiousness. My preference is obvious, but more crucially, Dream Theater tickets are affordable.

Image Attribution:
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By dxburbuja [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence

From classical music to thrash metal, all within six degrees of musical separation. For Dream Theater, channeling this stunning wealth of influences is nothing novel. But, a concept album clocking 96 minutes and without any weak moments is extraordinary.

Covering the full spectrum from Overture to catchy choruses — “Are you justified, Are you justified —- Justified in taking, Life to save life”  — they comfortably elevate progressive musicianship to stratospheric levels. Layered passages with grinding riffs and complex time signatures — that sheer jazz like drumming with adequate doses of coarse and clean vocals. These drawn out compositions simply demand our undivided attention.

Within a world of carefully orchestrated concept albums, this level of spontaneity with elaborate structural progression is uncommon. In short, brazenly intricate and yet restrained, Dream Theater composes a rare aesthetic blend of metal and prog mindset. Musically and emotionally complex, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is a progressive epic even without attempting to be one.

Featured Image : Shot by yours truly (San Francisco, circa 2012)

Review: Choral Hearse – Mire Exhumed

ChoralHearse bandphoto72

Here comes an album that really surprised me. Choral Hearse is a Berlin-based all-female four-piece who are having their debut full-length album “Mire Exhumed” released on April 16th. The group creates what they call Progressive Doom Metal, which is then impeccably mashed with Experimental Rock and Folk elements.

The album flows seamlessly from track to track, carrying the listener through dark and disturbing soundscapes. The opener, “Chronic Departure,” acts as the perfect overture to the album, opening with a very simple, ominous melody, then carrying that melody through a consistent, driving beat with singer Liaam Iman’s haunting vocals adding the third layer. In many ways, this track takes the primal beats, presents them to the listener, and then shows the ways in which they have been altered and developed to produce this record.

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