Category Archives: Review

Underground Sounds: Rebel Wizard – Triumph of Gloom

Label: Independent
Band: Rebel Wizard
Origin: Australia

Imagine extreme metal that is free of trends, free of hip motivations and pure in its expression of angst, fear and frustration. That is a bit of a tricky thing, since most bands are connected to some other, bigger movement, some sort of trend. Then stumbling across the most raucous, rancid record in a long time, which is filled with an almost jubilant fury and enthousiasm. That’s what you get from Rebel Wizard. 

What if you’d mix Angel Witch with Bathory and add some epic Iron Maiden riffs? Well, that would be the most close I can get to describing the feeling Rebel Wizard’s music offers. Sole member NKSV, also known as Bob Neskrasov, has been active in Neskrasov and Whitehorse next to this project, which allows him a singular way of expression outside of that (Neskrasov is also a solo project).

The album opens with the quote: “There’s no reason to be alive…”. It sets the tone for a grim sound, but when the riff comes in, it’s not the static haze of typical black metal, but a thundering, fists in the air heavy metal riff offering you a build up like no other. The song serves as an intro with its mid pace marching vibe. Prepare, for metal is back as you love it. The riffs on the following thrack ‘Where We Surrender Completely To The Miserable Shaman’ the guitars fall down on you, but again with those recognizable heavy metal vibes. Combine that with hoarse screamed vocals and you have a potent mixture of fury.

Rebel Wizard combines the two unlikely sounds to a vibrant, energetic sound that you can not sit still to, it demands you to stomp your feet, rock your fists and scream along in the overwhelming frustration that is vented by the Wizard himself. The switch in sound is so intriguing, so different, yet so incredibly catchy. Though the recording quality is not studio-crisp, it’s that gritty element giving it even more of an edge. Just listen to the track ‘Eat The Warlock’, which has the screaming guitars that work so well, regardless of any other aspect. The high pitch of the vocals feels almost harmonious with that sound.

I find that in words I lack the means to truly describe how full of vitality this record is, how strongly it just resets the starting point for a black metal album. This is brilliant and feels like such a raw, direct expression that punches you in the gut and then knees you in your face. Bam!

Underground Sounds: Ade – Carthago Delenda Est

Label: Xtreem Records
Band: Ade
Country: Italy

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam
– Cato

Ancient Rome has spoken to the imagination of many artists. The fine arts as well as the popular arts. With films filled with brave warriors, great battles and the grandeur and decadence of old. The theme has been sorely under exposed in metal though with rare bands like Ex Deo (featuring Kataklysm members) or the mild influence on others Alea Jacta Est (a French hardcore band).

In fact I wrote about this already once.

Ade is a breath of fresh air in this little niche with a death metal album that will rattle the Collosseum. Think Nile or Behemoth, but definitely also a bit of that approach of Ex Deo and you have an inkling of the sheer brutallity of this technically endowed band. The group puts the sheer grandeur of the Roman empire in their sound and like with others, it really works.

Ofcourse the result is a bit theatrical and reeks of Bolt Thrower, but how else can you make a song about the most warlike nation ever? That must have been what this group from the eternal city of Rome thought themselves too. The trick is putting those female vocals and strange sounds into your music, but it works smoothy and balanced on this record that features a lot of Carthaginian themes. The title tells you enough, but a song like ‘Annibalem’ obviously refers to the famed general.

The music is complex, but clean sounding and therefor a lot of fun to listen to. It carries the vibe of battle, of intensity and frantic riffing. The vocals are brutal, either deep grunts or guttural barks, even more so setting the vibe that you want on a record like this. The stop-go bursts of guitar work are razor sharp, but so is the build up in some songs, all praising Mars. Blistering and dazzling, but always heavy as fuck, with those martial pounding rhythms and mighty horns. You can imagine the stamped of the war elephants, atleast I can.

You really don’t need to be a tech-head to set your teeth into this recording of fine, catchy death metal. Sure, it packs a punch, but due to the clean production and highly entertaining variety, it’s a fun record to really get into for pretty much anyone who digs the heavy hitters.

Underground Sounds: Numenorean – Home

Label: Seasons of Mist
Band: Numenorean
Origin: Canada

The whole post-blackmetal thing hasn’t got the best rep, but that is really a shame if you look at the larger thing. The genre is pushing the boundaries of black metal to a more poppy sound, thus allowing the genre some more connection, thus input and growth. Now, if every label needs some post BM bands to bolster their roster (and sales), that’s a different question. Not everything is as good as you’d hope, but these guys really are some fine song smiths.

Canadians Numenorean are one of those bands, pushing the sound into that more blackgaze direction of smooth sonic tapestries and emotional vocals. In 2014 the band dropped  demo and now there’s the full lenght from the duo. Byron Lemley and Brandon Lemley are the guys responsible for the music of Numenorean. The name is a fleeting reference to the Atlantis-like myth of the island of Numenor and its inhabitants in Middle-Earth, in Tolkien’s mythology.

Filled with long, emotional sounding songs with strange, unnerving samples, like on opener ‘Home’, the band evokes an instant reaction. Blistering speed and hyperfast guitar riffs, that create a feeling of static standstill are exchanged with languid passages of mild, reverberating playfulness. Roaring vocals and eerie screams are woven into the complete tapestry, which is much akin to a warm sonic blanket that smoothly enters your ears.

No raw bludgeoning assaults and piercing screams, this is a production that is ment to please. There’s a deep melancholy or despair to the songs. ‘Devour’ for example is a song that touches something, stirs long lost feelings and memories, thanks to that right tone and timbre of the music.

Now and then the music feels very postrocky, innocent and blissful. The continuous cycle of building up and then exploding into frenziend bursts of guitarplay and blast beats is also akin to the genre. It makes for a rather pleasant listen to this pleasant and strirring record.

Underground Sounds: Possessor – Dead By Dawn

Label: Graven Earth Records/Anvileater Records
Band: Possessor
Origin: United Kingdom

London always has some great bands brewing something unique and fun. I stumbled across the new Possessor album, number two from the three piece and I tell you, this is awesome! The album is right now only available through bandcamp and well worth your moneys.
Oh, check out the interview here too.

Call it doom, stoner, sludge or as I’ve read somewhere ‘thrash boogie’ and you get the message. It’s fun, dirty and has that jacked up feel of energy, speed and kick-ass riffing. The band seems to be mostly about the fun and just having good times, while lacing their music with some horror themes and grimy distortion.

Opener ‘Afterburner’ has the screaming guitars and the bad-ass bass lines to make you want to start moving (or put that pedal down while driving in your car). It overall has the groove and swagger of a Kyuss but more grungy. The guys like to spice things up with some horror movie samples, like on ‘Scorpion Swamp’, which has these characteristic high paced drums that keep you sharp.

The sound of these guys is heavy and full of groove, with vocals seemingly far away under a sonic blanket. They know how to create that carpet of woolly distortion, but sharp and catchy riffing is also in the book for Possessor. They remind you a little of Electric Wizard playing in the desert with John Garcia on vocals, but there’s something more to it here thanks to that southern swagger. It still feels remarkably British.

For some reason this band makes me think of Motörhead, because of that obvious lack of care for sticking to one genre and just bringing you something that is rock’n’roll as fuck, but just a lot more heavy. Check for example the punked out ‘Terror Tripping’ or the wild ride that is ‘The Curse of the Hearse’, there’s no way to put this band in one corner apart from that. The raw, unpolished sound is fun and catchy, that’s why I make that comparison. This might be one of the coolest things I’ve heard in months.