Friday, April 24, 2015

Pendulous - A Palpable Sense of Love & Loss

Written by Aaron Sullivan.

Living in the Los Angeles area has it’s up and downs. Counted among the ups for me is the music scene. Los Angeles is certainly a stop that most bands make while touring. But the local scene is just as good. Pendulous is one of the many great local bands L.A. has to offer, and with their second album, A Palpable Sense of Love & Loss they show why.

Their first album, Mirrored Confessions, was among my favorites of 2013. It’s emotionally driven Death/DOOM is the base from which this band works. With the new album they expend on it. This time around adding cello and a second guitarist, Nicholas R. (also in another great local band Deathkings).

A Palpable Sense opens much like the last album. It starts with a spoken word vocal over lightly picked echoey guitar lines. And much like the last one it sets the listener up nicely to what is in store for them and the themes vocalist E.R.M. touches on through out. What I love about them musically is their ability to create such a heavy mood without it being an overbearing distortion-fest. The music reeks of melancholy. It seeps from every note played. The weight of the music is not to crush, but to envelope the listener in it’s sorrowful beauty. Couple this with E.R.M.’s vocal ability (as mentioned in the last review), his clean style reminds me of only one man, Patrick Walker of Warning and 40 Watt Sun fame. Not that it’s a copy in sound. But rather it’s E.R.M.’s ability to convey sorrow that is both beautiful and haunting that makes them similar. He cut’s right to the core. And his death growls are deep and bathed in reverb.

If you have ever read any of my reviews you will know that I am heavy on atmosphere. I don’t care how well you can play, how many notes you can fit in your solo, or what you know about music theory. Can you move me? That is all I care about. Pendulous has moved me from the first time I heard them, and since they are a local band, I have had the opportunity to hear them many times. To see the band grow has been a treat. With this album they continue to move me, and for that I thank them.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gruesome - Savage Land

Written by Dave Schalek.

Cover art by Ed Repka

Exhumed's Matt Harvey is no stranger to Death's classic material (well, yes, everything by Death is classic material), specifically Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy, and Spiritual Healing. Having served time in the first incarnation of Death To All, the star studded tribute to Chuck Schuldiner and all things Death, Harvey obviously let the experience percolate, resulting in the formation of Gruesome, an homage to early Death.

Teaming up with members and former members of such acts as Malevolent Creation and Possessed, Harvey and company made a splash late last year here at Metal Bandcamp with a two-song demo, now properly followed up with Savage Land, the first full-length from Gruesome, released on Relapse Records. Both of those demo songs, by the way, appear on Savage Land.

From the opening riff and mid-paced gallop of the title track, it’s obvious that Gruesome have done their homework. Savage Land sounds EXACTLY like early Death, say, around the time of Leprosy or Spiritual Healing. Harvey’s vocals are the second coming of Schuldiner, only minor changes in chords are necessary for the songs on Savage Land to become cover songs, and even the sound of the snare drum, for crying out loud, is EXACTLY like that on Death’s early albums. You can practically see in your mind’s eye not only Schuldiner performing this material, but Rick Rozz, Terry Butler, and Bill Andrews, as well. This is not to say that Savage Land is just a rip off; the songs are well written, catchy, and just about everything else that we love about this particular style of early death metal. Savage Land is just pure fun.

I expect that Savage Land is going to make a big initial splash, and everyone will demand a tour of some sorts from Gruesome to show it all off. However, how long Gruesome actually lasts playing what is mostly just a really well done homage remains to be seen.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Monday, April 20, 2015

Label Spotlight: Blood Music

Written by Kevin Page.

There's eclectic and then there's Blood Music in Finland. Since it's humble beginning in an attic in 2011, there seemingly hasn't been anything too experimental for them to get behind. Death, black, progressive metal, jazz, or avant garde, most of their roster defies typical classification. Which brings us to 2015 and three bands that once again are fresh and unique.

Apparently synthwave is a "thing" and there is a burgeoning scene to go along with it. But what Gost seem to be doing differently is adding a horror element to its sound. Baalberith, the sole member of Gost, has a history of playing in metal bands, but was always an electronic music fan. So it comes as no small surprise that even though this isn't a metal album, Behemoth, speaks to me. It feels like a soundtrack to all those 80's horror movies I'd watch with friends at sleepovers in my youth. Throw in some evil album art and the package is complete.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

I'm a fan of Gautier Serre and the thoroughly warped, Igorrr, so I anxiously awaited this side project of his, Corpo-Mente. Featuring the lush operatic vocals of Laure Le Prunenec (Öxxö Xööx, Rïcïnn), it's much more, shall we say, "normal", than Igorrr (then again, most bands are by comparison). It's a classical journey of baroque, trip hop & acoustique. But it's also beautifully haunting and mysterious, like some twisted noir. It's by no means aggressive or in your face, but that doesn't stop it from being one hell of a piece of art.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Artwork by Luca F. Carey

Yes, another synthwave band. Although Dan Terminus prefers the term cyberpunk or 'darksynth' (coined by Perturbator, another band of the genre who is also on Blood Music and you can check out here). While it firmly sits in the same genre as it's fellow labelmates, The Wrath of Code has a much more overall sci-fi feel. Think Blade Runner and an the endless amounts of old school video games. For the most part its an uptempo affair, but it does slow down to mix things up on occasion. Perfect cover art really encapsulates the sound and feel of this album.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]