Desolate Pathway: Valley of the King

desolate_pathway_valley_of_the_king_album_cover Label: Independent
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/07/2014
Band info: Facebook

The intro is some spoken words preparing me for battle, and this excites me like a good ole’ Manowar album. The album masterfully recreates parallel universes of both fantastical days of kings and battles as well as more recent times of classic doom!

Desolate Pathway was formed by Pagan Altar guitarist Vince Hempstead, and it rolls along as it should, in fine pomp! And maybe I’m getting old, but the vocals are nice and clean and I can hear all the words! God, I’m turning in to my dad!

The title track is slow and in vain, reminiscent of a Candlemass style. And we keep this Scandinavian feel for the next track, however, it’s not what I am expecting. There’s a surprise on track 3, something sounds Abba-esque on “Forest of Mirrors”, I listen to this and start humming ‘Money, Money, Money’, and it is driving me nuts!….and if you think about it, Abba had long hair, came from Sweden and with a hopeless lament like “I’m a Marionette”…..what’s more doom?! Anyway, I digress.

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Forward Unto Dawn: Alpha

Forward Unto Dawn - Alpha album cover Label: Independent
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 04/07/2015
Band info: Facebook

I wouldn’t normally go for ‘progressive metal’ as it’s normally sounding way too clean for my personal taste. However, Forward Unto Dawn from Nova Scotia, Canada aren’t too sparkly clean…. And I don’t mean to pass comment on their personal hygiene, more their sonic stance. The vocals are of a growly nature, and it worried me that it would turn all ‘US Muscle-metal’ on me, a sound that seems popular in the mainstream these days. But these guys create a healthy apocalyptic sound, with urgent feverish guitar sounds that make me feel the End really is Nigh. I am sure this would work better as the Mad Max soundtrack instead of whatever they have chosen.

It’s quite discordant at times, and at others it has a rhythmic Megadeth style guitar work, which helps with its angular progressive tone changes. Lots of unexpected left turns, which keeps the listener interested, but not spinning in confusion like some who use the ‘prog’ term.

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MRTVI: Perpetual Conscientious Nightmare

MRTVI - Perpetual Conciousness Nightmare album coverInto the Night Records brought us the fantastic ‘Bloodlines’ split by Twilight Fauna and Old Thunder earlier this year – see a review elsewhere on this site. And they have excelled themselves again with another Black Metal release, however this is a very different style of harsh raw BM by solo project of Damjam Stefanovic.

This piece charts the moments following a young man’s suicide, I think it is attempting to do what ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ does in classic cinema. And as this person passes through differing realms of stasis he experiences a number of feelings and awareness raising reflections on himself. Like Dante’s circles of hell, we have interludes of quite contrasting, near acoustic but still discordant and sour tasting music punctuating the album. The majority of the music is abrasive, harsh, multilayered electrified sonic attack. Damjam says “I wanted it to be stifling, like listening to a person’s madness or confusion subjectively” which he has achieved well. It is not easy listening, and is making me feel very confused and disoriented.

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Mercy Brown: S/T

Mercy Brown - Mercy Brown album coverI have only just received this, even though it’s been out a couple of months. And in the preamble it suggested I might like it if I enjoy Immolation and Witch Mountain. Now there’s a massive chasm between those two acts, so with caution I hit play.

And I’m met with what I expected, uber-fast drumming, gruff and growling vocals of a solid death metal variety, but wait, half way through second track “Birds” I hear a sweet soaring angelic female voice. So this is where the Witch Mountain reference comes in. It’s a very competent offering, using the breaks of sweet choral styles balanced with the death metal growl.

Mercy Brown, a four piece from Washington USA use Sera’s vocal range well and “Red and Yellow” gets a great fast groove going on from the start, and this one punches hard. And we are slowed down a pace with “Where the Fire Is” where the drummer proves he is more than just fast and furious, using a number of styles within the opening minutes and this is where we really see the band come alive. Some rolling drums, and rhythmic guitar attack alongside the powerful vocals of a ‘lady wot does doom’, plus that underbelly of death metal rumble.

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The Golers: South Mountain Style

The Golers - South Mountain Style album coverAfter listening to Akasava’s occult rock this Golers album is a world away. Fast and frenetic crossover hardcore/thrash. For fans of Suicidal Tendencies and S.O.D this won’t disappoint. We have one or two minutes of pure blast energy, with a slightly more sneering vocals more akin to Rich Kids on LSD.

What the overall theme is of the record is appears to be a statement against the redneck hillbilly lifestyle, I learnt today that the Golers are named after an unsavory bunch of east coast Canadians who in the 1980s were convicted of sexual abuse and incest, along with general maltreatment of their children, so the mix of aggressive anger ridden DRI style thrash and hillbilly derision makes an awful lot of sense.

We have snippets of film dialogue focusing on the stereotypical hillbilly interspersed with a full on thrash assault, maybe peppered with idyllic sounds of the countryside make this album an uneasy listen when you think about their Deliverance style standpoint. This bunch of Golers are from west coast Canada (Vancouver) and they have toured with Napalm Death, Kreator and Destruction amongst others.

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Iced Out: Man’s Ruin

Iced Out - Mans Ruin album coverIt is with a heavy heart I review this cd as I have learnt that it is the last by Witch Hunter Records. But it is one helluva way to bow out. The tempo is slow, and the tuning is low on this three track sludge/hardcore cd where the riffs are familiar which makes me feel like returning home. The vocals sound as if strained through a gauze as they are spit forth.

Track two, ‘Man’s Ruin’ really pummels you from the off, with pounding bass rumble and drumming that slows from initial pounding to a more rolling tumble midway.

Witch Hunter have been a cornerstone of the UK DIY scene for a few years now, and with these small labels you get the personal service that the larger labels lose. Time spent folding and sticking cd sleeves, stickers to accompany hand numbered limited edition releases.

‘Space Mountain’ closes this triumvirate of power and disdain, and I find my lips curling in to a snarl mirroring the vocals on this piece. It makes me feel disaffected and disjointed and a new sound appears… Three quarters in we even experience a guitar solo of sorts, only to be cut short at a very abrupt end. Don’t let this be the end of your relationship with Iced Out nor Witch Hunter Records.

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Akasava: Strange Aeons

Akasava - Strange Aeons album coverIt’s been a tough couple of days following the General Election in the UK, and this has lifted my spirits. French Occult rockers Akasava have this EP lined up for release on June 26th and I hope it fares well with fans of Blood Ceremony and Uncle Acid and so on, as it is a real stomper of a slice of60s psychedelic sonic sex.

‘The Deep’ blasts out like Lee Dorian singing ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles. It would certainly sit well on The White Album, although Louis’s vocals crack on some of the longer higher notes, but the whiskey rough tinge absorbs you in to his realm of smoky rooms, stone cold halls and dank basement dungeons.

‘Sons of Bastet’ breaks loose from the starter pistol like a Stooges, MC5, Blue Cheer turbo charged hot rod. It is honest greasy, dirty rock n roll. It excites you like rock n roll should do, as if it is played on the cusp of complete freedom and chaos. Something is keeping it together, just about.

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Vaee Solis: Adversarial Light

Vaee Solis - Adversarial Light album coverPortugal’s underground extreme music scene is getting more interesting each year with bringing some new flesh blood on the dirty murky stage like O Cerco, Vizir, War Cult Supremacy, Mother Abyss and We are the Damned to name a few. These are all recent bands coming from Portugal and their most recent act is Lisbon’s blackened doom metal quartet Vaee Solis, which was formed in 2014.

Vaee Solis didn’t spend time on releasing demos and EPs and the introduction to their music was simplified to the release of their debut album, Adversarial Light. Such a filthy dark start! With a huge desire to play mid-tempo to extremely slow songs, the band didn’t go anywhere far off this basis, brining 38 minutes of pure harsh slowed down gut-wrenching sludgy blackened doom metal. If Vaee Solis intends to play their music slow and fuzzy, somehow the band’s music territory would expand to more doom subgenres such as funeral doom metal but still can’t be defined as “funeral”. They have stood somewhere close to funeral but keep going on with what the band is obsessive about: “blackened” doom, as black, dark and horrifying as your worst nightmares!

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Allfather: No Gods. No Masters.

Allfather - no gods no masters album coverThe word ‘Allfather’ often refers to a supreme male god, so interesting to hear the soundbite used to open the album is a discussion around Karl Marx. I’m hooked in already.

Scour the net and Bandcamp you will find a good number of references to ‘Allfather’ in song title or band name. And this Allfather isn’t to get confused with the Canadian namesake, as they are much faster and blacker.

This Allfather hail from Rochester, a castled town in Kent, UK. And I know three things about Rochester; 1) it used to have a cracking second-hand book shop with shelves packed of old sci-fi, 2) it has a castle, 3) it now has an almighty powerhouse of a sludge metal/hardcore band to be reckoned with. Allfather.

Rolling drums accompany the soundbite in ‘The Great Destroyer’ , and once they’ve put the world to rights politically, Tom leaps in with his vocals, gruff and powerful, vocally on the hardcore side, and musically in a metal camp with crashing cymbals and a bass string that gets some serious action, as did my noggin when I got in to the groove.

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