Author Archives: RiffRaff

Roundtable Review: Meliora by Ghost (B.C.)

ghostmelioracdAlbum Review: Ghost – Meliora

Label: Lorna Vista Records (USA), Spinefarm/Rise Above (Europe)

Release Date: Aug. 21st, 2015

Songs: 10

Length: 41:35

Genre: Doom Metal/Psychedelic Rock/Pop

Studio Albums: Opus Eponymous, Infestissumam

Location: Linköping, Sweden

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Album Review: The Book of Souls by Iron Maiden

IronMaiden_TheBookOfSoulsIf there’s a single band that personifies heavy metal more than Iron Maiden, fill me in.  Metallica? Lars is a dweeb who sues his fans… and Lulu and angry saints.  Slayer?  They have become caricatures of themselves.  Black Sabbath?  Sharon Osborne and 1984-1990 happened.  Judas Priest?  Close, but lack that little something special.  No, there isn’t a band out there that can out metal Iron Maiden and after 30 years of inhabiting the embodiment of heavy metal they still continue to be metal as fuck.  For example, while recording The Book of Souls, the bands 16th studio album, Bruce Dickinson was suffering from a cancer on his tongue he reportedly got from kissing his wife in an Australian manner one too many times.  He went on to record his parts on the record with golf ball sized tumors in his tongue and throat.  He then kicked that cancer’s ass.  Metal as fuck?  I think so.

Because he wasn’t singing when he was at 100%, while still excellent, you can hear that Bruce is really pushing himself.  That imperfection is what makes Iron Maiden so perfect and so metal.  What is at the core of ‘having a metal state of mind’ more so than determination?  Even when lambasted for records like No Prayer for the Dying and Virtual XI Steve Harris and Co. kept their cool, improved themselves, and kept on delivering countless amazing shows and a stack of great songs and albums.  With a string of albums that were pretty damn good but not up to the exceedingly high Iron Maiden standards, the English gents, determined as ever, rise to the challenge and attempt to deliver their biggest album to date.

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Album Review: Heart of Akamon by Nechochwen

a3878480350_10For how much metal delves into histories of their nations I’ve always been rather disappointed that the Native Americans are so poorly represented.  Sure, there are songs about the Native Americans and even bands that capture the atmosphere of the spiritual aspects of Native American culture, but until now nothing I’ve heard has been full on Native American; capturing the history, the nature, and the spiritualism.  Having a large part of my heritage being Native American (I’m of Seneca descent and grew up in NJ, a Lenni-Lenape region) I’ve always had interest in Native American culture, in particular the music.  Naturally there’s always been a desire to want to hear the traditional music and tales blended with my favorite form of music, heavy metal (obviously).  So you can imagine my glee when I saw that our very own Irmelnis had posted on her Facebook wall a link to an album preview for Heart of Akamon by Nechochwen, a full on Native American metal band.  Not only did they come from a label I’m really starting to come to admire quite a bit (Bindrune Records) who hosts some amazing artist like Panopticon and Falls of Rauros but also integrate Lenape and other Eastern Woodlands Native American history and lore into their music.  Damn straight I went right to the Metal State inbox to see if we had gotten a promo of the record.  And oh yes we did, and oh yes am I more than content and have bought the entire discography already.  Where has this band been my whole life? Read the rest of this entry

Tales from Bandcamp: M by Myrkur

a2196000438_10Since I received the promo for the debut record from Myrkur I believe I have hit a record for the amount of times I have written and then deleted my review.  This is by far from saying that there is little to say about the album.  In fact, there are lots to say about this groundbreaking record.  I just didn’t want to fall into cliché over-emphasizing that the record is a one-Woman project nor under-emphasize a solid female voice in black metal.  I didn’t want to beat the dead horse of picking on the kvlt elitists I’ve seen saying not such nice things about any black metal that isn’t Mayhem or Burzum (and then pretty much becoming no better than the elitists themselves).  I also didn’t play into Myrkur’s image which forgoes sexuality but delivers some much-needed femininity because it kept turning into a diatribe for a more balanced female voice in metal and that would be better left as a separate rambling and not a review.  I wanted to say how much I love the shamanistic and ethereal nature of M but that kept becoming a love letter to the finer facets of modern black metal and over-emphasizing Garm from Ulver’s involvement in the creation of the record.  I wanted to quote one of my favorite The Big Lebowski lines, the one where Maude talks about ‘vagina’, but it just felt hammy.  I would have liked to touch upon some of the alien and almost Lovecraftian nature of the heavier moments but just wasn’t able to clearly get my point across.

There was a lot I have to say, but lack of an angle I could commit to and some writer’s block just made me say fuck it.  However, a record this good should not go unrecognized regardless of my difficulty in writing up a review nor did I want to spend so much time on something and not produce anything.  So I decided to just shoot some words from the hip and post it up as one of my ever-so-famous Tales From Bandcamp posts to let you readers out there an opportunity to discover this great entry into the pantheon of black metal.  Give it a listen, share it with your friends, toss some money at the artist, and let us know what you thought.  Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Roundtable Review: A Tunnel to Eden by Alustrium

a1122127405_10Album: A Tunnel to Eden

Artist: Alustrium

Location: United States

Label: Self-Released

Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Release Date: July 24th, 2015

Songs: 11

Length: 1 hour 13 minutes

Studio Albums: An Absence of Clarity (2011)

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Tales from Bandcamp: Isolate by Mesarthrim

a0820628059_10One modern trend I will probably never tire of is the astral themed black metal records.  Agalloch with The Serpent and the Sphere, Vattnet Viskar with Settler, Krallice with Years Past Matter, and so on.  It seems that each time a trippy post black metal album uses the stars as inspiration an album its scope and berth are as wide as the glittering sea above us.  Keep the Astral Metal coming please.

Catching my eye on the Bandcamp homepage with a beautiful photo taken by the Hubble Telescope I was easily compelled click to preview Isolate by Australian band Mesarthrim.  What I did not expect was that it would cut so heavily into my Ghost listening time; an album I’ve been frothing at the mouth for and was released today.

Dear Astreria! This album is outright phenomenal.  Heavy doses of reverby keyboard notes and major keys give the music such a triumphant sound that is as big as its subject matter.  There’s that overwhelming sense of positivity that you get from power metal but without all the cheese, superfluousness, and…. ummm.. well, power metal.  Nearly every moment here is just so uplifting.  The ambient moments are equally relaxing and introspective and add so much to the ponderous nature of the songs.  They perfectly compliment the mystical nature of the core of black metal.

This is a monumental album and should be given some love and attention asap.  Best part is the band is only asking for a single dollar for this beast.  You really can’t go wrong taking a chance here.  This album will transport you to a far away place, give you peace, and when you return you will be a happier person.  As always, tell all your friends about the music if you like it and let us know what you though in the comments.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Roundtable Review: Underworld by Symphony X

Symphony_X-Underworld-Front-Label: Nuclear Blast

Release Date: 24 Jul 2015

Songs: 11

Length: 64 Minutes

Genre: Thrash/Power/Progressive Metal

Studio Albums: Symphony X (1994); The Damnation Game (1995); The Divine Wings of Tragedy (1997); Twilight in Olympus (1998); V: The New Mythology Suite (2000); The Odyssey (2002); Paradise Lost (2007); Iconoclast (2011).

Location: NJ, United States

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Album Review: High Country by The Sword

The Sword High Country Album CoverSome bands evolve, some metamorphose.   If you look at a butterfly you can still see the remnants of the shriveled caterpillar body still hanging around but for the most part the entirety is changed after a brief cocooning period.  Unlike evolution where the change takes place over a huge period of time and many key features are still kept in tact, metamorphosis yields something quite different from its original and the process of change is quite abrupt.  You could say a band like Opeth evolved into the prog rock powerhouse they are today slightly changing it up album after album.  And Clutch took metamorphosis path when they injected some gospel/blues rock into their sludge metal sound on their self-titled sophomore record (the cocoon phase) and then fully embraced it on their third album, The Elephant Riders, where the metal edge was heavily toned down but still had a glaring presence.  With both bands, if you listen to their latest in contrast with their earliest works, they are almost completely different bands but still maintain their cores.  Metamorphosis is, however, a much more pronounced change.  For their fifth full length album, High Country, The Sword have metamorphosed into something quite different from their sludgy doom metal beginnings.

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