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Monolithe #8211; Nebula Septem
Album number seven. Performed by seven musicians. Seven tracks. Each track exactly seven minutes long. I hope I #8217;m not the only one sensing a theme here. Nebula Septem is the seventh full length album from the long running French funeral doom metal project Monolithe. The band covered the origins of mankind on their initial run of self-titled, roman numeralized albums Monolithe I though Monolithe IV, all of which were comprised of single, fifty-minute plus tracks. Rumor had it that the band was going to call it quits after they unleashed number four, but they soldiered on, releasing two spacey chunks of heavy music in the form of Epsilon Aurigae and Zeta Reticuli, both of which saw the band #8217;s fifty minute formula shortened to three fifteen minute tracks.
While fifteen minute tracks might seem much more immediately accessible than a fifty minute opus, Nebula Septem takes things a step further with it #8217;s seven by seven formula. The band #8217;s last two albums finally saw the band diversifying things a bit, toying more with keyboards and moving further away from their dirge-laden adherence to funeral doom tropes in favor of a progressively leaning doom/death sound; something that is continued with this album. The band hasn #8217;t strayed very far from the sound they #8217;ve pushed since the beginning of their career, thundering, riff-centric doom metal that slowly devours all in its wake, it #8217;s just that it #8217;s delivered in a much more concise and direct manner. The opener, 鈥淎nechoic Aberration鈥, slowly steamrolls through with thick, dense riffing and a pulsing bass presence, yet the melodic flowing guitar leads have a life of their own. Tracks like like 鈥淒elta Scuti鈥 showcase the band #8217;s new reliance on keyboard passages, as the entire song is backed by wispy melodies juxtaposed with discordant notes and spacey reaching while 鈥淓ngineering the Rip鈥 showcases a more laid back, cruising the void type of vibe with eerie tendrils of sound hanging in the mist.
This album marks the debut from new vocalist/guitarist, R茅mi Brochard, whose deep growls mesh nicely with the band #8217;s subterranean crawling meets alien progginess, sounding a little more gnarled and less cavernous than most funeral doom vocalists. Though the band continues in the same vein as previous efforts, Nebula Septem does come across as the most immediately accessible work in Monolithe #8217;s catalog: it #8217;s not just the shorter song structures. Take the closing track with it #8217;s electronica backbeat that builds into sweeping guitar melodies and trudging rhythms, for example. This band is just on top of the songwriting game, and the warm guitar tone alongside a thick, yet organic production job just seals the deal.
To further the band #8217;s obsession with the number seven on this album, the tonality of each song is one of the seven notes of the western scale (A through G), which is also the starting letter of each track title (in order, of course). Thankfully, the band put just as much effort into the music as they did into the concept. This is certainly Monotlithe #8217;s strongest material since their massive Monolithe III in 2012. It #8217;s diverse, often otherworldly, yet it delivers a towering slab of slow moving, progressively tinged doom metal. Hands down, Nebula Septem shows a band on top of their game.
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Deathless Legacy #8211; Rituals of Black Magic
Italian Horror Metal is (quickly) back for more
I remember once reading a review written by a journalist here in Brazil (for a Grand Funk live album, if I #8217;m not mistaken) where he would wax lyrical for the tirelessness of 1970 #8217;s bands, recording albums like there was no tomorrow (sometimes three or more a year) while keeping a very busy touring schedule. Those were the days of creativity without laziness, he said, quite a difference from nowadays, with bands that will take five years or more to release a new album!
I must admit I was taken aback by such point of view. For me, it was just a case of people being exploited for the benefit of managers and record labels, with all the health and mental problems associated with it: drug addiction, burnout syndrome, suicides and fatal overdoses, to name a few. You can take such a hectic business schedule for a while, but it will take its toll on you, and it actually took countless times. Besides, the music industry changed a lot in the past decades, and relying on a few household names as money-makers until total exhaustion is no longer (and fortunately, I might add) a effective market strategy. All things considered, it #8217;s good to have a break and a time to actually work on songs before releasing it, no matter how tempting some romantic views of an idealized past may seem.
Why am I saying all this? Well, I guess I #8217;m just taking the chance to take it off of my chest before delving into Deathless Legacy #8217;s latest output, a band that keep quite an intense work ethic when it comes to releasing albums. #8220;Rituals of Black Magic #8221; is the fourth full-length of these Italian horror metallers, and it comes less than a year after previous effort #8220;Dance with Devils #8221; #8211; a record that itself came out (yeah, you #8217;re right) less than a year after 2016 #8217;s #8220;The Gathering #8221;. I #8217;m not trying at all to imply that Scarlet Records are holding them as slaves or anything, mind you: I just found it amusing that this six-piece are so ardently adding new releases to their canon, as it #8217;s far from being the norm nowadays. Maybe there #8217;s a greater plot involved and I #8217;m missing it? Well, I don #8217;t know.
As for the music, when you consider the group originally started as a tribute to Death SS, there #8217;s not many room for any doubts around here. The presence of dedicated performers are also a giveaway on the theatrical aspirations of Deathless Legacy, and I reckon their live outings must be quite eventful. But it would be quite unfair to dismiss them as simple Steve Sylvester #8217;s copyists, as they have actually added a reasonable deal of personality to their craft as time went on. #8220;Rituals of Black Magic #8221; is mostly straight heavy metal anyway, with a few faster cuts but way more inclined towards atmosphere rather than speed, which is perfectly understandable considering the band #8217;s frame of mind.
The vocals of Steva are quite entertaining and sure a highlight here: raspy and aggressive when needed, but more than able to add melody and emotion when circumstances demand so. She sure knows her trade, and her singing adds quite a respectable level of individuality to the proceedings. There #8217;s also a great emphasis on keyboards, in such a fashion that the instrument is the main element in many of the songs here featured, even reminding of none other than Nightwish on occasion. Not a bad thing at all, as Alex Van Eden (or Alessio Lucatti, if you know him by his work with Vision Divine) is a truly gifted and extremely creative musician. The other musicians may not achieve the same levels of performance, but they sure do a commendable job, and songs like the title track, #8220;Vigor Mortis #8221;, #8220;I Summon the Spirits #8221; and the excellent ending with #8220;Dominus Inferi #8221; are pretty remarkable examples of Deathless Legacy #8217;s potential to write and perform immersive, near-addictive heavy music.
But here I must call to memory my initial rant about timescale, as I #8217;m afraid this is precisely the shortcoming that prevent #8220;Rituals of Black Magic #8221; from deserving an even higher rating. Running over sixty minutes in total, the record gets slightly tiresome after a while, with a number of tunes being a bit too nondescript and interchangeable for comfort, if we #8217;re to be honest here. I must point out, for instance, that songs like #8220;Bloodbath #8221;, #8220;Ars Goetia #8221; and #8220;Haruspex #8221;, although mostly good, are uncannily referential to each other, even using a very similar semi-symphonic riffing pattern as a backbone. Nothing too objectionable going on, and sure not a thing to be ashamed of or anything, but I feel it #8217;s a side effect of having things done in a very short period of time: some ideas are not allowed to properly mature, and we naturally tend to use tried-and-tested formulas every time a songwriting challenge comes our way.
Still, and without having listened to any of their previous output, I would say that #8220;Rituals of Black Magic #8221; is a strong testimony of a band committed to their artistic cause, willing to put blood, sweat and tears into it and talented enough to create very interesting music in the process. It #8217;s a long way to the top, as Bon Scott once said, and Deathless Legacy are more than willing to cross it through and through. I like their spirit, and will surely be following their fortunes from now on.
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Hyperion #8211; Dangerous Days
Italian Glory Strikes Again!
When it comes to producing great heavy and power metal bands, Italy鈥檚 track record is arguably the second best in the business. Only Germany has a better track record and that is partly due to the sheer volume of great bands that hail from there. Italy may not have the volume but they have the likes of Rhapsody (of Fire), Ancestral, Icy Steel, Holy Knights, 4th Dimension, and Thy Majestie to make up for it. Now comes a new name in Italian heavy metal, Hyperion. Their brand of heavy metal is riff-driven with sci-fi lyrics in the grand tradition of bands like Scanner and Iron Savior. Dangerous Days is their debut full-length and it has gained significant traction with heavy and power metal fans. So let us see what this album has to offer and why folks like it so much!
Bands that play straight up heavy metal always bring the riffs and Hyperion is no exception. They may not bring the fastest or the heaviest riffs of the style but for 戮 paced heavy metal, the riffs are rock solid. The riffs are plenty heavy, the melodies are very good and very enjoyable, and the blazing solos help keep the album moving while also displaying serious skill. The guitar work on this album is not earth-shattering or mind-blowing but 鈥淕round and Pound鈥 (DragonForce much?) and 鈥淔orbidden Pages鈥 show that Luca and Davide can hold their own with the big boys of heavy metal. 鈥淔orbidden Pages鈥 even throws in that one Castlevania melody everyone knows, which is a good bit of fun. This is the second 2017 album to use that melody, with the other one being Resolve by MindMaze. Hyperion actually varies the tempo of the songs a little, which is nice to hear though it is not a ton of variation. When they speed up the riffing, they are perhaps even more successful than they are with the heavier 戮 paced riffs. 鈥淭he Grave of Time鈥 is the best example of this and might well be the best song on the album.
The bass is audible for most of this album, which is always great to hear. The bass lines themselves are nothing spectacular but they do not need to be. Simply being very good is enough to be an awesome bonus for the listener. Marco鈥檚 drumming is pretty standard-fare for heavy metal but he plays with a ton of conviction and decent speed whenever the music calls for it. He plays with a real nice groove on the title track and he makes the most of the cymbals in addition to solid rim drumming. Marco does this throughout the album and his performance is a great one. The title track just happens to be his most standout performance.
Michelangelo Carano is a stellar vocalist and he brings a ton of energy to Hyperion鈥檚 sound. His voice sits mostly in the higher range but he does hit a few nice notes in the mid-range. The screams at the end of 鈥淕round and Pound鈥 are totally glorious. Michelangelo鈥檚 strength is the power in his voice but he also sings with plenty of melody and balances the two incredibly well. This complements Hyperion鈥檚 sound extremely well since they strive for that same balance and achieve it relatively easily.
All told, Dangerous Days is a fantastic album. It knows exactly what kind of heavy metal it wants to be and executes it in true heavy metal fashion by being glorious. Is it album of the year caliber? No not quite because it does not display much creativity. That being said, this is just the beginning for Hyperion. There is plenty of time for them to get even better because they are going places after releasing a debut this great.
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Thrash Metal Year In Review #8211; 2017
Larry rounds up all the decent (and some not-so-decent) thrash releases for the headbang-happy year of 2017.
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Posted on January 12, 2018 by Larry Best
Posted in Bands, Editorials, Specials, Thrash Metal, Uncategorized
Tagged 2017, Annihilator, Australia, Billy Milano, Blackened Thrash Metal, canada, Channel Zero, Cripper, death/thrash metal, Decadence, Desecrator, Distillator, Dracena, Eruption, Evil Invaders, featured, finland, France, germany, Groove Metal, groove thrash, Harlott, Havok, Infernal Majesty, italy, Jeff Waters, Kreator, Lich King, M.O.D., Municipal Waste, National Suicide, No Return, Overkill, power trip, Primal Attack, Slovenia, Sweden, Tankard, Terrifier, Thrash Metal, Tormentor, Toxik, UK, usa, Vendetta, Warbeast, Warbringer, Witheria
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Death Metal Year in Review #8211; 2017
This was a banner year for death metal by any measure.
Here are some of our favorite death metal releases from 2017.
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Posted on January 8, 2018 by Aaron Sedlar
Posted in Death Metal, Editorials, Specials, Uncategorized
Tagged 2017, Blackened Death Metal, contaminated, continue re, Death Metal, diabolical messiah, featured, Old School Death Metal, progressive death metal, read more, readmore, Suffering Hour, Tomb Mold, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Undergang
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Jonathan #8217;s Top 50 of 2017
The diverse spectrum that encompasses metal music #8217;s many sub-genres could be likened to various mythical races united under two opposing banners, staring each other down as they make ready to charge and turn the field red with the other #8217;s blood. From one year to the next, the advantage may tip from one side to the other, but in the grand scheme of their eternal conflict, the forces of light and darkness have tended to be equally matched. 2017 saw the forces of melody and order take the advantage in the eyes of the reclusive bard that tells this end of the year tale, though naturally his is not the final word on such things, and other codices in the grand archives of metallic exploits deserve your consideration. Still, these are the 50 acts of heroism that defined the year, because too much has occurred to settle for a mere 30.
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Posted on January 5, 2018 by Jonathan Smith
Posted in News, Specials, TMO Essentials, Uncategorized
Tagged 2017, Aether Realm, Aldaria, Almanac, Ancestral, ancestral dawn, Anubis Gate, Astral Doors, Bear Mace, Beast In Black, bloodbound, Cannibal Corpse, Cellador, Cromonic, Cryonic Temple, Eldamar, Elvenking, Eternal Thirst, evertale, featured, firewind, Hamka, Havok, iced earth, iron savior, keldian, Kreator, Labyrinth, Lich King, mindmaze, Ne Obliviscaris, Nocturnal Rites, numenor, orden ogan, Overkill, Paradise Lost, persefone, Power Quest, Rhapsody Of Fire, Secret Sphere, Serenity In Murder, Shadow Of Intent, Signum Regis, Skyfire, Terrifier, The Ferrymen, the obsessed, threshold, top 50, Toxik, Victorius, wind rose, Within Silence
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The Metal Observer #8217;s Top 30 albums of 2017
2017 has proven to offer up the tightest race we have seen in a long time in the quest for the gold! So without any further ado, here is the creme de la creme of the year!
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Posted on January 2, 2018 by Alex Melzer
Posted in Specials, Uncategorized
Tagged Acrimonious, Ancestral, Aosoth, Apocalypse Orchestra, Ascended Dead, Bell Witch, contaminated, Converge, Darkest Hour, Elder, evertale, featured, Ironflame, Lunar Shadow, Malokarpatan, Midnight, Ne Obliviscaris, orden ogan, Pallbearer, power trip, Pyrrhon, Septicflesh, Temple of Void, The Chasm, the obsessed, the ruins of beverast, Top 30, ulver, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Undergang, unleash the archers, Warbringer, Wolves in the Throne Room
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TMO Albums of the Month: December, 2017
December #8217;s still a month, right?
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Posted on December 31, 2017 by Joshua Bulleid
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Ceremony and Devotion, Confrontational, Crom, Elegies of the Stellar Wind, Evilfeast, featured, Ghost, God of the Deep Unleashed, Grains, Hamka, Hreilia, Misery Ritual, Multiversal, Plague Father, Thaw, The Burning Dawn, Tongues, Where Northmen Die, Wrathblade
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TMO Albums of the Month: November, 2017
Our top picks from November, including Cavalera Conspiracy, Converge, Moonspell and many more.
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Posted on December 4, 2017 by Joshua Bulleid
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 1755, 2017, Albums Of The month, Blaze of Perdition, Blood Chalice, Cavalera Conspiracy, Conscious Darkness, Converge, Deafest, featured, Identity, Last Avenue, Mavradox, Moonspell, november, Psychosis, Sepulchral Chants of Self-Destruction, Split, The Dusk In Us
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Shredding: Power Quest
Larry zealously and over-enthusiastically ranks the British power metallers #8217; discography.
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Posted on November 20, 2017 by Larry Best
Posted in Bands, Hard Rock, Power Metal, Reviews, Shredding
Tagged Alessio Garavello, Andrea Martongelli, Andy Kopczyk, Ashley Edison, Blood Alliance, Britain, British power metal, Chity Somapala, Dendera, dragonforce, England, Face The Raven, featured, firewind, Glyn Williams, inner wound recordings, keyboards, Magic Never Dies, Master Of Illusion, Melodic Power Metal, Neverworld, Paul Finnie, power metal, Power Quest, Rich Smith, Sam Totman, Sixth Dimension, Steve Williams, UK power metal, Wales, Wings Of Forever
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Mammothfest #8211; The Metal Observer interview with Steve Dickson
The last of three articles on the awesome Mammothfest in Brighton #8211; Day One and Two reviews already published on 21 October.
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Posted on November 6, 2017 by James Bushnell
Posted in Featured Review, Interviews
Tagged Akercocke, Brighton, Cannibal Corpse, Dave Mustaine, featured, Fleshgod Apocalypse,, Lawnmower Deth, Mammothfest, Megadeth, Meta-Stasis, Rotting Christ, Simon Balaam, Steve Dickson, Stuck Mojo, The Arch, Tsjuder, Vehement,
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TMO Albums of the Month: October, 2017
#8217;twas a month of long-ass album titles and those album titles often not being printed on their covers, in an exceptionally brutal October.
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Posted on October 31, 2017 by Joshua Bulleid
Posted in TMO Albums of the Month, Uncategorized
Tagged 2017, Albums Of The month, Bell Witch, featured, Malum, Ningen-Isu, October, Power Quest, Sorcerer, Temnien, The Chams, The King is Blind
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Shredding: Arch Enemy
Josh cuts to the quick of Sweden #8217;s masters of melodic death.
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Posted on October 24, 2017 by Joshua Bulleid
Posted in Shredding
Tagged Alissa White-Gluz, Angela Gossow, Anthems of Rebellion, Arch Enemy, Black Earth, Burning Bridges, Burning Japan, Christopher Amott, Doomsday Machine, featured, Johan Liiva, Khaos Legions, Michael Amott, rise of the Tyrant, shredding, Stigmata, Wages of Sin, War Eternal, Will to Power
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Latest ReviewsAntiquus Scriptum #8211; O Vale de GuadalquivirMonolithe #8211; Nebula SeptemScaphism #8211; Unutterable HorrorsCoraxo #8211; SolDeathless Legacy #8211; Rituals of Black MagicChris Bay #8211; Chasing The SunHyperion #8211; Dangerous DaysSuffer The Pain #8211; HellboundInterviewsNo matching videos
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