Sunday, February 24, 2008

God Rules Over My Soul

Groms, like Corpse, is another Christian death metal band though these guys are more technical. Where Corpse was flat out old school death metal, Groms borrows heavily from Carcass in style, though they are not a copycat.

Groms play groove-laden death metal with thrashy riffs and flashy, but unobtrusive solos packaged into a solid mid-paced album.

"Ascension" was released 3 times with 3 different covers (all are out of print) my copy looks like it was from the 2nd pressing which I acquired from a local used CD store. In my mind this was a great find since I had been reading about this band for a while and was rather curious to check them out.

Starting off with the title track, the album kicks in with a mid-paced groove-oriented riff and you can pick out the Carcass influence almost immediately. The vocals are a more deeper growl, but not incoherent and not cookie-monster like. The song ends with doom style riffing.

"The Riddle" is also heavily groove-laden and mid-paced and "Truth Misunderstood" opens with a strong similarity to the title track "Ascension". The song finds its own, but doesn't stray to far.

"True Wisdom" opens acoustically before kicking into a slower groove. "The Voice Of Righteousness" offers up some more doom style riffs intermixed with more traditional and technical death metal.

"No One" is borderline metal core in its rhythm and picks up the pace some as does "The End Of The Age" which is more traditional death metal and somewhat faster

The album closer is a bonus track "The Just Shall Live By Faith" and although the recording is rougher the tune is straight up brutal death metal. "From Dust To Dust" is probably my favourite track in that it mixes Carcass style death metal with Pantera like thrash riffs. It's mid-paced and hooky.

I wouldn't say Groms is better than Corpse, they are different in their delivery of death metal. If you like old school blastbeats then go with Corpse. If you want more technical death metal Groms is your band.

Lyrically, Groms is unashamed of their Christian roots, but the lyrics are for the most part reflective and thought-provoking.

Overall Groms released a fine album of solid mid-paced death metal and it's a shame that they couldn't grow further as a band in an ever-increasing Christian extreme metal scene.

I'm not sure what will be coming next, but I bet it'll be exciting!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Life Everlasting Metal ...

When I think of Christian metal, I think of brilliant thrash bands like Believer and Tourniquet, Grindcore/ death metallers like Mortification and Crimson Thorn and unblack metal bands like Horde and Crimson Moonlight. Mind you, I've spent years broadening my knowledge of the Christian extreme metal scene. Most people I know think Christian metal is simply Stryper or to a lesser extent King's X.

One of my goals with this blog was to expose the large and varied Christian metal scene. Today I'm going to look at Kentucky's Christian death metal band Corpse and their one full length release on the now defunct Cling label "From The Grave". I got this album as a replacement for a Gryp cd I ordered from Blastbeats (your source for hard-hitting Christian music) when the used Gryp album was deemed unplayable by the sites administrators.

Mind you, Corpse's album is one that I'd been thinking of so it wasn't a bad trade off and I have recently acquired the Gryp album "Indecision" that I had originally requested so don't worry!

What we have here is old school death metal not unlike Cannibal Corpse and perhaps some influence from Lament. This is raw bone grinding death metal that is not trying to be innovative or ground-breaking, but simply looking to beat their message over the listener's head with some solid crunch.

Beginning with a brooding and dark intro "Left To Die" growls its way into a pummeling death metal gem. Without dwelling too much on individual songs, there is not a ton of variation I'll just say that other songs like "Black Death" and "Deceived" blast the listener with crushing riffs and beats as well as some acoustical interludes which makes me think of Lament.

"Faith" builds into its speed and "The Will" builds on that. Songs like "In Doubt" and "So Called Unity" add some groove to the riffs and melodies while slowing things down a bit. Corpse also sporadically throw in some nice and spastic at time solo's through out.

My favourite tracks are "Regrets" slow crunch and mid-paced brooding. It's a heavy tune with Gregorian-like background vocals that add to its darkness. "Deceived" varied tempo's and crushing riff work is a fine example of this bands grasp of the genre.

If it weren't for the odd ~Jesus is Life~ and ~don't waste your life and believe in the Truth~ type lyrics that seep through with guttural clarity one might not even know they are Christian. Overall, this is a solid death metal album with great production and solid song-writing. My main complaint is that most songs just end with any warning and feel like they've been cut off. They could use a little extra care with outros.

Coming up next I'll be looking at Groms "Ascension" album and more solid Christian death metal.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

There's Chamber Music, And Then There's Cavern Music.

How can I describe what Xathagorra Mlandroth has created musically with his project Catacombs. How does one describe the desolateness and isolated terror brought forth with mammoth sized sound? Well I guess I just did. As I previously mentioned in my last post, my knowledge of Funeral Doom is limited to Ahab and this album "In The Depths Of R'Lyeh" and so far I'm really enjoying it.

Funeral doom is not a genre one listens to a lot I think. It's more of a mood inspired style that one would choose to throw on funeral doom. And this is why there is a limited audience for this style of music. Again, speaking with a limited knowledge of funeral doom, I do find it to be a very vivid, picturesque music bordering on theatrical.

Ahab took the genre with atmospheric keyboards and leviathan-like riffs to envision a bleak watery torment and a man's descent into madness. Here Xathagorra Mlandroth creates a desolate, cavernous eeriness with an unsettling horror slowing awakening as though a mountain itself was moving. To try and break the songs down would be useless.

The first 3 tracks rumble forth with slow, sludgy heaviness and a sinister piercing melody that unsettles the soul. With each track clocking in over 10 min (with the longest passing the 16 min mark) this is a long slow process with subtle tempo changes and melodies tweaks. The behemoth crushing riffs and reverberating deathy vocals take on an eeriness come track 4 and carry through tracks 5 and 6.

There is 20 minutes of uneasiness that resonates through your soul like dragging a boulder through an underground cavern. The melodies eeriness is like discovering that the ever present rumbling isn't the rock settling, but in fact the monstrous Cthulhu (having risen from the depths of R'lyeh) in all it's tentacled horror bringing upon the destruction of the Earth and your the first thing in its path.

"Awakening Of The World's Doom ... (Reprise)" which closes the album chugs away with its mildly speedier tempo to signify the beginning of our end only to fade off and leaves us shivering in its wake.

Catacombs' "In The Depth Of R'Lyeh" is another example of funeral doom's surprising versatility. I often wonder lately why this style isn't used in more movie or tv soundtracks. It's the perfect framework for all kinds of emotional impact. I do hope to explore more of this genre, but for now I'll move onto some more of metal's styles.

Up next ... I don't know. Maybe some thrash, or black metal. Maybe some death metal. I guess you'll have to come back next sunday and find out ... (wink,wink)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tha'r She Blows ...

I'm new to the funeral doom genre with Catacombs as my only other point of reference, however Ahab's full-length debut dirge is nothing short of crushing doom/death metal with musical vividness creating powerful and bleak imagery intertwined with madness. "The Call Of The Wretched Sea" is based on Herman Melville's Moby Dick which may seem odd, but Ahab have presented the tale in probably the most musically faithful way via funeral doom.

Starting with "Below The Sun" the album eases us in with quiet keyboards much like the ambient calm of the sea. The rest of this song crashes into us like the massive bulk of great white whale. The riffs are slow and crushing retaining a rhythmic pattern with gothic undertones.

"The Pacific" is a monsterous epic with thunderous drums and a bleak and dark interlude. "Old Thunder" mellows out with an acoustic intro and some sombre guitar soloing. The song then takes a pummelling turn with unsettling keyboards and bombastic riffs. This leads into the ambient and vivid instrumental "Of The Monstrous Pictures Of Whales" which soothes us shortly before "The Sermon" kicks in.

"The Sermon" is my favourite track here. This doom dirge crashes through riffs and verses like Ahab's vessel The Pequod until it slows into an atmospheric interlude with sound bites from John Huston's film version of Moby Dick. This dense "calmness" is destroyed by a crushing riff and thunderous drums much like the great white leviathon on the cover. Once the excitement and fear is over the song slows into a slow reflective doominess.

After this behemoth onslaught, "The Hunt" is on. With refrained crushing doom we are carried along on Ahab's fall into revenge addled madness. This twisty and sickeningly sludgy dirge drags us through the depths of the ocean and one man's inner turmoil.

The album closer "Ahab's Oath" carries a haunting melody with all that is bleak in death metal. The growls are sickening and the melancholic riffs linger. It is depressingly emotional and mind meltingly heavy. A powerful ending to a tragic album.

Ahab have created a musical sound scape of literary classic and opened the doors for future literary interpretations via heavy metal, albeit they set the bar pretty damned high. I cannot imagine a more appropriate and fitting interpretation of Moby Dick. This seems like a one off deal, which is a shame because this is truly a brilliant creation.

Up next, I'll look at my other funeral doom epic Catacombs' "In The Depths Of R'Lyeh".