This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Bait, Cauldron Black Ram, Cosmic Putrefaction, The Devil With No Name, Die Kreatur, Esoctrilihum, Evertrapped, From Hell, Her Chariot Awaits, Hexenbrett, Killitorous, King Witch, Maelstrom, Oz and Pretty Maids.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Bait – Revelation Of The Pure (Les Acteurs de L’Ombre)
The German band Bait have issued two EPs over the past few years, and are emerging with their debut full-length Revelation Of The Pure. The band’s lineup includes Der Weg Einer Freiheit bassist Nicolas Ziska, who handles bass, vocals and lyrics on the record.
The core of Bait’s music is black metal, but they incorporate other influences as well. The main one is hardcore, injecting some viciousness into the icy black metal riffs. The vocals are mostly hardcore style emotional yells, not the typical black metal rasps. Tracks like “Into Misery” showcase everything from blastbeats to groovy riffs to post metal moments. It’s an effective blend of creativity, brutality and melody.
Cauldron Black Ram – Slaver (20 Buck Spin)
Cauldron Black Ram are an Australian band featuring members of Mournful Congregation and Stargazer. The members involved have created something different than their other bands. While Slaver has plenty of doom-ridden passages comparable to Mournful Congregation, the album doesn’t move at the plodding pace of Mournful Congregation’s funeral doom, nor does it progress like the avant-garde style of Stargazer. Their approach is more simplistic yet lethal and colossal.
“Flames” starts the album on a doomy note with a riff comparable to Cathedral. The down-tempo takes off in an explosion of death metal riffing and blasting before stopping and starting again. The drums really drive this album. One of the best examples is the militaristic patterns at the beginning of “His Appearance.” The palm-muted chugging that follows is equally awesome and fitting on this instrumental. Slaver is one of those albums that lives up to its cover art—grim and barbaric.
Cosmic Putrefaction – The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers (I, Voidhanger)
Cosmic Putrefaction’s sophomore album The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers comes a little over a year after their debut, and though the time between the two albums is short, lone member G.G. has shown great strides in the band’s existential death metal. No longer just compact bursts of madness, these songs are fully formed and pace the viciousness further out. G.G. doesn’t go fancy with his performance, digging into the grimy essence of the genre.
The experimental/ambient side of the band shown on their first album is still evident, though better incorporated on this go around. The centerpiece of this design is closer “Utterance Of The Fall Of Man,” which incorporates orchestration and synths in a grand sonic execution of mankind. It’s a striking statement made, one that leaves the listener in awe even after having their ears blown apart for 30 minutes prior.
Devil With No Name –
Devil With No Name (New Density)
The unforgiving desert of the southwest United States is where the members of Devil With No Name gather their inspiration from. This self-titled EP puts that environment in a black metal funnel. The band’s name is a nod to Sergio Leone and his cinematic series involving Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name.” Instead of cowboys, the group spotlight a darker entity, praising it outright in the surprisingly catchy “Alleluia.”
The EP rises in a cranky manner with “Grand Western Apostasy,” which feels like the soundtrack to a Western film condensed to six minutes. It’s as if Ennio Morricone found inspiration after a weekend binge of Wolvhammer. For pure, unaltered black metal, the frantic “Sycophants Of The Covenant” should prove fruitful, leading up to a mid-tempo stomp with closer “Monad.” Devil With No Name have the thousand-yard stare of Eastwood, though underneath a layer of corpse paint.
Die Kreatur – Panoptikum (Napalm)
Championing the seasoned industrial duo of Oomph!’s Dero Goi and Lord of the Lost’s Chris Harms, Die Kreatur have unleashed an auspicious, albeit bloated, debut with Panoptikum. It’s a 12-track romper that leaves little space to breathe betwixt its blend of throttling guitars, wailing synth notes and stentorian vocals, switching its priorities from moshing to grooving with minimal notice.
The tracklist may spout variety from song to song, like twisted nursery rhyme “Schlafes Braut” or “Untergang,” which takes both namesake and sound palette from the Doom (2016) video game, but the tracks themselves lack evolution. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means and the verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure does lend itself to a greater earworm appeal, which is perhaps the point, but it does seem oddly structurally one-dimensional coming from a duo so honed within their craft. Nonetheless, while there is fat to be trimmed here, the meat beneath remains memorable and boisterous.
Esoctrilihum – Eternity Of Shaog (I, Voidhanger)
When you’re the only guy in the band, you can work as quickly as you’d like not having to worry about anybody’s else schedule. With the French one-man black metal act Esoctrilihum, that has meant a packed release schedule. Eternity Of Shaog is Asthaghul’s fifth album in less than three years.
Even with the quick turnarounds, Esoctrilihum doesn’t skimp on material, generally issuing albums of at least an hour in length. This one clocks in just over the 60 minute mark, but doesn’t drag for a moment. The songs range from epic tracks like “Exh-Eni Soph” with symphonic elements adding grandiosity to the black/death intensity, to more focused songs like “Namhera.” Adding instruments like violins to tracks such “Shayr-Thas” and “Aylowenn Aela” give it an even more unique sound. By balancing avant-garde with brutality, Asthaghul has created his most compelling album yet.
Canada’s Evertrapped show mainstream appeal to their music and come out with an aggressive, yet melodic mindset on their fourth release. The songs are alternative metal in nature and feature an accessible sound. They are abrasive in an almost hardcore manner, but manage to be simplistic at the same time. The Last Extinction is pleasing to listen to, but heavy enough to have a more metallic appeal.
The singing is even more hoarse than the guitar playing on the disc. It all adds up to a fairly well-rounded release that is fun to listen to. There are some thrash aspects, but a great deal of melodic death metal elements as well. The music is delivered at a relatively fast pace, but kept restrained. It’s hard to figure out a comparison to the band because they sound so different, and Evertrapped should appeal to a variety of music fans.
From Hell – Rats & Ravens (Scourge)
Six years after their debut, From Hell return with Rats & Ravens. It’s a concept album about a witch set in mid-13th century Europe. They’ve had a couple of lineup changes. Vocalist Aleister Sinn and guitarist Steve Smyth (ex-Testament, ex-Nevermore) remain, with new additions Stephen Paul Goodwin (ex-Vicious Rumors) on bass and Wes Anderson (ex-Blind Illusion) on drums.
While having atmospheric elements that help advance the lyrical concept, thrashy guitars drive the music, which is augmented by black and death metal. “The Witch” moves at a breakneck pace, before slowing down dramatically with some doom/goth moments and then blasting off again. The songs have plenty of ebbs and flows throughout. Sinn’s vocals are varied as well, though a bit of an acquired taste.
Her Chariot Awaits – Her Chariot Awaits (Frontiers)
Her Chariot Awaits are a new band fronted by former Sirenia vocalist Ailyn, who teamed up with guitarist/producer Mike Orlando (Adrenaline Mob). The music is much closer to Adrenaline Mob’s hard rock/metal style than Sirenia’s symphonic/gothic sound.
The band’s self-titled debut is streamlined and focused with driving guitars and melodic choruses. Tracks like “Dead & Gone” and “Stolen Heart” are hook laden and radio ready, but have ample heaviness and plenty of guitar wizardry from Orlando. Ailyn shows a lot of versatility, using an accessible pop/rock delivery most of the time, but periodically utilizing her higher register. The band covers k.d. lang’s pop/folk song “Constant Craving,” doing a darker and more rock based rendition. Orlando and Ailyn have different musical backgrounds, but their pairing on this album works very well.
Hexenbrett – Zweite Beschwörung: Ein Kind zu töten (Dying Victims)
Hexenbrett’s first step was taken in 2018 with Erste Beschwörung, an EP with a raw and dark sound that would show the general sound of the band. But their full-length debut Zweite Beschwörung: Ein Kind zu töten offers a slightly different sound.
What Hexenbrett are doing in their music is combination of black and heavy metal, so that the presence of both genres, heavy metal fused guitar melodies and riffs, and eerie, cold atmosphere of vampiric black metal can be heard simultaneously and clearly. Mercyful Fate (and King Diamond) are direct inspirations that can be heard in Hexenbrett’s music, but they are reminiscent of Siebenbürgen. Although most of the band’s lyrics are in German, the translation of their band name, which refers to Ouija board also shows the general view of Hexenbrett’s lyrics. Hexenbrett’s first album is fascinating and even eerie in many moments, inviting the witches and pledging allegiance to them.
Killitorous – The Afterparty (Tentacles)
To Killitorous, the idea of an afterparty involves guests from all over the metal spectrum, nods to pop culture, and a triple-guitar attack, all through the filter of uninhibited technical death metal. The band’s second album can be a wild trek, especially when the guitar shredding is on point on songs like “Married With Children” and “Re-anima-tomatron.” For music this manic, there’s a sense of lighthearted antics behind the scenes, as if these guys were having a bash every day in the studio.
Hailing from Canada, the band pulled some of their best guest musicians from their home country, on top of pooling talent from around the world. Voivod guitarist Dan “Chewy” Mongrain and Cryptopsy vocalist Matt McGachy are just a few of the names brought in to add to the insanity. Some of the humor falls flat, but the joy of hearing three guitarists with no restraints in place makes up for any shortcomings.
King Witch– Body Of Light (Listenable)
U.K’s. King Witch are sure to make a name for themselves with their second full-length effort Body Of Light. The follow-up to 2018’s Under The Mountain is a masterclass in heavy/doom metal and the star of the show is singer Laura Donnelly. With a commanding presence, she is like the priestess leading a sermon to the metal faithful.
I’m usually wary of albums that are over an hour, but not in this case as King Witch keep the riffs fresh and foreboding with guitars that churn out that ‘70s Sabbath type production. Variances in tempo make for an enticing listen as the 8 minute “Of Rock And Stone” is a barnburner from start to finish and the musicianship is top notch. King Witch have clearly mastered the art of using ominous buildups to bridge into large riffs and mountainous rhythms. This will definitely make my year end list and doomsters should check this out immediately!
Maelstrom formed back in the late ’80s, released a couple of demos and then disbanded in the ’90s. They regrouped for a 2008 EP, and finally are issuing their full-length debut Of Gods And Men.
It’s an ambitious effort, cinematic and conceptual. The songs are lengthy blends of prog, thrash and power metal. Heavy riffs and acoustic parts meld with soaring melodies and extended proggy instrumental breaks. The arrangements are well-crafted with musical and emotional arcs, though it gets a bit overly melodramatic at times. It’s also a bit long at nearly 70 minutes, but with so much time between releases it’s not surprising they had an ample supply of material.
Oz – Forced Commandments (Massacre)
Oz began their career in 1977, making them one of Finland’s earliest heavy metal bands. The group later moved to Sweden. They released most of their output in the ‘80s including the iconic Fire In The Brain. After their 1991 release Roll The Dice, the band went on hiatus until the 2010s. Now, they return with their third album since their return and eighth overall, Men.
Drummer Mark Ruffneck is the only original member. New vocalist Vince Kojvula has a stronger voice than original singer Ape De Martini, which combined with gang choruses makes Forced Commandments a fun album to sing along to. “Switchblade Alley” is one of the catchier tracks vocally. “Spiders” and “Prison of Time” are two of the more memorable songs for guitar play. “Long Lonely Road” shows the band’s knack for creating ballads. While Forced Commandments doesn’t feature the same band as Oz’s golden era, it still relates classic heavy metal nostalgia.
Pretty Maids – Maid In Japan – Future World Live 30th Anniversary (Frontiers)
In 2017 and 2018 the Danish hard rock/metal band Pretty Maids celebrated the 30th anniversary of their Future World album by playing it live in its entirety. In November of 2018 the band played in Tokyo, and that has been captured on CD/DVD and Blu-ray as Maid In Japan – Future World Live 30th Anniversary Live.
In addition to Future World, the band plays five other tracks. Ronnie Atkins (one of two members that was also in the band when Future World was released) still sounds energetic and inspired playing 30 year old material. In addition to the concert, there’s some bonus DVD material including numerous music videos, a couple of documentaries and interviews with band members. Pretty Maids have released a few live albums over the years, but playing an album in full makes this one fans will definitely want to check out.