Thursday, March 22, 2018

Invicta "The Executioner" Review

          Kitchener-Waterloo is rich with new Metal over the first few months here in 2018. On top of that, certain musicians in the scene seem to need to be a part of every new album coming out. Today, we check out "The Executioner", the debut release from Death-Thrashers Invicta. This band made a splash last year with their debut show opening for The White Swan and have since had a few lineup changes, now we are at the brink of the release, so without any furthur hesitation, let's hop on into it.

          The album kicks off with "Hamartia"m which is simply just a Thrash Metal intro that leads into our first proper track, "Prehistoric Suffocation". The opening tack should do nothing but spell out the madness thats to come for you, this is a track full of Thrash Metal chaos, Melodic Death Metal groove, harmonizing guitar parts and of course, brutal solos. "Prehistoric Suffocation" starts off the album on a high note, but thats only one track.

          "Forbidden Scriptures" follows, this track is probably the strongest one on the album. The verse and the bridging portions all follow a very Thrash filled sound, the riffs are fast and brutalizing, the drums are fiercy and the vocals are aggressive. The chorus on the other hand is a lot more Melodic taking more of a page from bands like Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom or even some earlier Sodom. The other big standout track on the album is the title track, "The Executioner", which is just pure Thrash Metal mayhem. Think "Something Wild" or "Hatebreeder" era Children of Bodom and in both instrumentals and vocals, frontman Kyle Edissi seems to take many pages from Alexi Laiho the vocal style in general, although Laiho does have a higher tone, is the first giveaway. The pure aggression as well Edissi gives up some annunciation in turn for a more savage sound.

          If you're a fan of old school Thrash Metal and Death Metal, "The Executioner" will be right up your alley, if you're not, I'm a little confused why you read this far. Invicta release "The Executioner" on March 23rd and will be playing their release show on March 30th at The Boathouse in Kitchener alongside Raider, who will be doing a release show as well for "Urge to Kill", as well as Rippr'd and Woofout.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Raider "Urge to Kill" Review

          "Urge to Kill", the debut EP/Demo from KW Death Metal band Raider just dropped over this past weekend, this is a release we have been looking forward to so we had to dive right into it. The band is made up of a couple of relatively well known locals including Kyle Edissi (Aepoch, Invicta) and Brandon Sanders (The Wormwood Scrubs) as well as some new talent like vocalist Angelo Bonaccorso, so let's hop into it!

          "Urge to Kill" is a total of three tracks with what we will say is two separate "modes", the first of which is an oldschool style Melodic Death Metal and damn is it done well. "Phlebotomized" (the act of puncturing a vain, if anyone is curious) and the title track, "Urge to Kill" would both fall under this umbrella. While obviously the two songs are not exactly the same, "Phlebotomized" is a straight forward Melodic Death Metal song in the vein of Amon Amarth or Unleashed, while "Urge to Kill" takes on a bit more of a hectic approach, including straight speed in both the main instrumentals and solos much more like that of The Black Dahlia Murder or even a little more closely, Skeletonwitch.

          "Nebulous" is the only out of place track on this album. While the other two take on a much more Melodic Death Metal approach, this one seems to aim more for a Melodic Thrash style, which all in all isn't a bad thing. The song itself is good, although it seems to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis, trying to make the song too much like the other two while trying to take it in a different direction at the same time. The effect this has on the song is the fact that it does become a bit of a missmash which does hinder it a little bit and unfortunately made it a bit stale.

          All in all, "Urge to Kill" is a great first release from a band still trying to find their voice. Raider took chances with this release and honestly for the most part it paid off, my biggest suggestion to the guys in Raider would be lean more towards the Melodic Death Metal side as those tracks are killer pieces of music. Keep an eye out for these guys as if they find their stride, they'll be going far with their music!

          Raider will be playing their release show March 30th alongside Invicta, Rippr'd and Woofout at The Boathouse in Kitchener! also, CLICK HERE to be taken to the bands Bandcamp page and check out "Urge to Kill"

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Illicit "All A Dream" Single Review

        Illicit are a Punk band from Kitchener, Ontario, making a name for themselves in the local scene. As the band works on their new, yet-to-be-named release, they've given us the chance to listen to their newest single "All A Dream" and let you know what we thought about it.

        So the big thing here is that this track has two very different modes. Overall, "All A Dream" is a very melodic track, which is cool for a Punk track, it's not very common you hear something like this in Punk. The first half the song maintains a cleaner, more Pop-Punk style similar to that of Good Charlotte or Simple Plan, which caught me off guard a little as I expected something closer to Misfits. With the first half the song, it's a much cleaner feel, all vocals are singing in a clean tone with very little to no rasp behind it. The guitars as well are clean and maintain the melodic tone. From the 2 minute mark though, the song kicks into a much harder vocal style, almost taking over a better version of Hatebreed. I, personally, actually really like the Hardcore tone that Illicit take on, especially in songs like this where it seems to come out of no where and is actually quite surprising and yet, it's almost to be expected as the song was far too peaceful for a Punk track.

        All in all, great new track from Illicit, "All A Dream" is enough proof that the Punk scene in the KW area is more than alive and kicking and if you needed any further proof get out to a show!

Illicit will be playing a show at The Button Factory in Waterloo with Orexin, What Freedom, Nancy Viscous and The Nasty, for more information on the show CLICK HERE

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Rivers of Nihil "Where Owls Know My Name" Review

          Rivers of Nihil are back following the incredible 2015 release "Monarchy", with a new album and a much more lengthy title in "Wheres Know My Name". For anyone who has been following Rivers of Nihil since their inception, following the concept they've been pushing along, this album continues to raise the bar for what this band can do and what's possible in Death Metal.

          Much like with the previous two albums from Rivers of Nihil, "The Conscious Seed of Light" and "Monarchy", this album continues to follow the flow of seasons. "The Conscious Seed of Light" kicked everything off with Spring time, much like the band everything is essentially new, new life grows and shapes the world as we know it, following Spring we have "Monarchy" which symbolises Summer. Summer is an interesting one, it's a season that can shift from peaceful times to a destructive force and the album symbolised this perfectly. The big thing is "Monarchy" put the bands talent as a Technical Death Metal band in the forefront and got them a ton of recognition. Now, we are in the Fall season with "Where Owls Know My Name", Fall is a season progressing towards a much darker emotion and ultimately death and this gleams through in the dark and eerie atmosphere of the saxophone and keyboard parts playing and progressing the albums story.
          One of the biggest draws to me for "Where Owls Know My Name" is not only the fact that Rivers Of Nihil know how to take everything they perfected in their previous releases and continue to add to it, but outside of the eerie atmosphere they added with the inclusion of the keyboard and saxophone parts, they took a note from Melodic Death Metal. This is especially prevalent in the lead single "The Silent Life" as well as the more intricate and expansive "Single Change (Including the Forest of Transition)". The ladder of which is the longest track on the album, clocking in at 8:34, which is quite impressive considering it doesn't feel like a song that drags out at all. Mixed in with the melodic tone, Rivers of Nihil almost decide to take on a DragonForce approach just after the 2 minute mark, transitioning from an intense keyboard solo into guitar solo. From this point the songs tone shifts, becoming move more hectic and sporadic, with the intensity of the instruments pushing the narrative along and you become more and more engrossed by the song, it pulls away with another saxophone section only to lead into the most impressive and technically implemented solo on the album if not Rivers of Nihil's entire discography.
          Front to back, Rivers of Nihil have expanded on everything they've done in the past. "Where Owls Know My Name" is by far the strongest release Rivers of Nihil have released since their strong beginnings more than 5 years ago and there's really no better label for this Death Metal gem to be released through than the renowned Metal Blade Records. "Where Owls Know My Name" will be out March 16th, pick up the album as soon as you can and catch the band on tour with Death Metal tyrants Dying Fetus!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Between the Buried and Me "Automata I" Review

          Fans got quite a shock earlier at the beginning of 2018 when Between the Buried and Me announced this year they would release not one, but two albums, appropriately titled “Automata I” and “Automata II”. The later of which is set to be released March 9th through the long standing Sumerian Records, a label renowned for its roster. With “Automata I” being so close to release, it's time we delve in and discover what's to come!

Automata I” kicks off with the first single from the album, “Condemned to the Gallows”. If somehow you missed it (click here for the song) the track is instantly catchy. With a softer intro to ease you into the punishing Progressive Death Metal that's on its way. The first half of the album with what you’ve heard in “Condemned to the Gallows” is pretty similar, Extreme Metal at some of is finest, the first half specifically is much closer to the early days of BTBAM with few and far between exceptions.

If you're more attuned with the band's more recent release “Coma Ecliptic”, you'll appreciate the track “Millions”, which has a much softer and more Jazz oriented sound to it. “Millions” has a very consistent sound, letting the vocals push it along with the only main changes being the switch from clean to distorted guitar, if you're just getting into BTBAM because you're a fan of Sumerian’s roster, this might be a good place to start. Personally, I think “Millions” will be a song best experienced in a live setting, having band and fans alike singing along to the chorus “Millions fly overhead…” but we will have to wait for the band's upcoming headliner in March to figure out for sure.

          “Gold Distance”, which is a short instrumental track, and “Blot” close out the first part of “Automata” and instantly you get introduced to what is probably the heaviest track on the record. “Blot” is one of those songs where you realise that BTBAM listen to what their fans have been saying, the song is much more along the lines of what you would hear from “Colors” and the earlier albums from BTBAM. Maintaining heavy and progressive riffs from beginning to end, the song refuses to back down right to the end and based on the ending you can tell that the album will lead directly into “Automata II” without the skip of a beat. Until then, the album loops back to the beginning and you can enjoy it all again.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Live Report: Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws, The Anti-Queens. Hairy Holler and Zack Powers at The Coalition

Written by: Bas Majzoub

        This was going to be a good night; Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws are a hot new band releasing their first EP, and they are supported and by the always fun local favorites, The Anti-Queens.

        The Coalition T.O is a good venue, and the show was well organized by the band themselves, without the use of a local promoter; there was a drink special at the bar, and all of the band’s merch was marked down to a measly $5.

        Tonight on the bill are Zack Powers, Hairy Holler, The Anti-Queens, and Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws.

        Zack Powers:
        Those guys sounded great, the musicianship was there, as it was clear they had a strong handle on their respective instruments. The songs are upbeat and fun rock ‘n roll swing, with pop culture (“Army of Darkness”) and world music (Greek inspired “Miserlou”) influences. The front-man Zack Powers is energetic on stage, however I get the feeling he’s holding back and is still a little shy; it could be a symptom of their youth, however the rest of the band, despite being excellent musicians, seemed awkward on stage, and the fact that they were all dressed like nerds didn’t help. I look forward to seeing these guys grow.

        Hairy Holler:
        I’ve heard of this band, though I’ve never heard them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Besides the usual guitar bass and drums, the band also sported a sax (with a pedal-board), a fiddle, and a washboard! The saxophone player donned himself as The Punisher, and the whole band looked huge, and so did the music. You can’t help but have a good time with their brand of big-band rock ‘n roll, especially when they’re up there dancing and having a blast. One thing about this band is how strong they are vocally; everybody can sing very well, and they all posses big voices, and when they all chorus up, the building almost shakes! It must be tough having so many members, so their passion must be exuberant, and it shows.

        The Anti-Queens:
        I’ve seen this Thrashy Punk band before, and their energy is as advertised. Good simple songs, well executed with a fun somewhat choreographed live show. They looked like rock-stars, dressed and acted the part. While the rest of the band was having fun on stage, the drummer was keeping it together, pulling in solid tom beats, and was rock steady. They finish the show knees up on the bass drum, guitars pointed to the ceiling, they nail the ending. This band would benefit from a banner, the chemistry and music are there, so is the attitude, a banner would help further their memorability.

        Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws:
        The place is packed and abuzz, intro music barely starts, and on appears the black quilt donning front-man, strumming his acoustic guitar, followed by the band, and the party is here. They’re all dressed like outlaw rock-stars, leather vests and string ties, big beards and tattoos. It was impressive to hear how similar (see: identical) their live sound is to their album. Beat for beat, yes, though also the overall sound as well, with a signature electric guitar sound by Memphis Raines playing a sweet sounding Fender Stratocaster. Not to put down the great job the rest of the bands on the bill did, though it needs to be said, the drum sound, and behind the kit, the performance itself, was a class higher than the very competent rest. The band has its sound figured out, and is clearly well rehearsed, and that fact naturally frees the band leader to interact with the receptive and interacting crowd. Given the band’s ‘excuse me, I love you, but go fuck yourself’ attitude, there’s a certain irony to the audience interaction I think. It’s all in great fun, as it was cool to see a lady get invited onto the stage and sing along; she passionately gave it her cringe worthy best, and rocked out on stage. The band did two encores, and subtly once again showcased their professionalism, with every band member on the same page, immaculately delivering their big or, just as importantly, their smaller parts.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws "Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws" EP Review

        Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws, a hard hitting, folk based band. I hesitate to refer to this as Country, because when you think of country we all think of the same thing. This isn't your standard, modern day, radio country music, this is more along the lines of what Charlie Daniel and, of course, Mr. Cash were doing back in the day. This self titled release is still a good listen, it's still a good sing along in most cases and songs like “Love Song” and “Dying Day” are so full of energy it'll get you dancing and moving around.

        It became obvious very quickly, Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws don't exactly care about who likes their music, it's very clear that this was what they want to hear and if you like it, good for you. To be fair, those are the best releases, don't try to appease everyone else. Musically, you have songs like “Dagger Road” which is a little slower, a little more emotional and a little more like Johnny Cash. It's a song that tells a story and demands your full attention and it's a song that uses the instrumentals to push along the vocals and help put emphasis on the words. On the other hand we have songs like the aforementioned “Dying Day” which is a high energy track that even features a solid guitar solo, while the song is still primarily vocal focused, the instrumentals are used in conjunction with the vocals to keep the energy high and get the body moving instead of being used essentially as background for the vocals.

        Country/Folk Rockers Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws’ new self titled release is a gritty rockers dream and a new country fans nightmare. No filter and no holding back, if you're offended by “bad words” and the idea of drinking till your liver shuts down, this probably isn't the album for you. If you're a fan of gritty and high energy music or music with meaning and emotion, Johnny Nocash and The Celtic Outlaws just released an EP that you should absolutely check out!