USELESS Absence of Grace

Useless - Absence of Grace album cover Useless… useless… useless…

Don’t bother reading this, actually don’t bother doing anything because you are useless, you amount to nothing. That is, at least, the sentiment of this album.

I think Useless are from America, yet are able to channel the ambience of Scandinavian, especially the Norwegian sound through these five tracks of slow, Burzumic buzzing depressing black metal. And as the financial markets plummet after the British vote to leave the EU, what better a soundtrack to the end of times as we know it. Yep, we are all useless.

Opener “Black Wolf” is a howling turbulent storm of a track, with vocalist J screaming and straining his way through. The pace picks up with “Drown Your Hopes” where we border on the more aggressive side of BM, and the whole sound crackles along, as is breaking through from another realm.

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Kyng: New Album, Tour w/ Clutch


Kyng are preparing themselves for their third album release in the coming months. The band, reside out of Los Angeles, California and are signed to Razor and Tie Records. They are relatively famous in the United States for their prior release which include the albums Trampled Sun (2011) and Burn the Serum (2014).

The band consists of Tony Castaneda (bass, back up vocals), Pepe Clarke (drums) and Eddie Veliz (lead vocals). Kyng’s sound will conjure memories of a fully functioning Black Sabbath before Ozzy Osbourne devoured more drugs that his body was willing to take. Listen to the lead track “Burn the Serum” from their last album as proof of the previous statement.

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MARSH DWELLER The Weight of Sunlight

Marsh Dweller - The Weight of SunlightLook at the title, meditate for a moment on it.

Marsh Dweller are suggesting that the sunlight, giver of life and all that, is a weight to bear. And from then on, you have all the introduction you need to enter the Marsh.

This is bleak, this is black, this is death, this is well melded together, tightly turning from blackened metal to death sounds via some very traditional soaring heavy metal lead guitar parts.

The song titles speak for themselves – “The Dull Earth,” “Where the Sky Ends” and “Empty Light of Heaven.” This is an album of hollowness, and bleak, cold marshes!

Shrek lives in a swamp, but his one swamp sounds far more fun that this Pennsylvanian marshland! This creates a roaring rumble of blackened disdain, and then the light of thrashing guitar shines through!

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Bong Mountain You’re Doin’ Great (For the Record)

Bong Mountain - Youre Doin Great (For The Record)I had to listen and share this with you purely down to the first track title, the well penned “Pariah Carey.”

Bong Mountain deliver SoCal style punk-lite along the lines of Bad Religion, NOFX and Pennywise. With a harsh toked style vocal, I get the feeling of his frustration at modern life. However, even though they hail from Chicago I still expect to see them playing an open air beach gig on the west coast of America!

But the name did lead me to expect heavier stoner sludge doom. They say that the Grateful Dead came up with their name by randomly choosing names from a dictionary, is there a Book of Heavy Metal words so that I can pick my name?

But regardless of my misunderstanding of their name, bands like this get people through times of angst and open their minds to new thoughts and sounds. So I always have a soft spot. As Sick of it All once sang “Scratch the Surface” and it can open up the mother lode.

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Vukari Divination

Vukari - Divination album cover This feels like bedroom music, but not in a Marvin Gaye type way. Some scenes are about the live experience, some are best suited for nightclubs and this album is best suited for a darkened bedroom. Vukari have spent a lot of time working on atmosphere and ambience here. The intro is chord based electronic waves before the second half kicks in with full band support charging forth in an aggressive black metal style.

“Cursus Honorum” slows the pace down to a more steady black metal beat, but we still get a strong atmospheric buzz to it, and this is maybe via the vocals which are bordering on the ‘not quite there’ at times – so is he actually singing from another dimension?!

What does set this apart from most black metal is the lead guitar breaks and it’s the rhythms sections that I find I start to get wonderfully lost in, lying comfortably in my bed especially midway when it breaks down in to a prog exploration! Vukari are not afraid to explore the further reaches of sonic blackened metal.

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Pestifere Hope Misery Death

Pestifere - Hope Misery Death album cover Keep thinking happy thoughts, as this is a despondent one.

Minneapolis death rockers Pestifere have delivered a solid, very competent slab of death/thrash. It straddles well musically and allows a softer side to show occasionally bringing forth the band members musicality.

Pieces like “Dispirit” caress me like a gentle summers’ wind. But you don’t really want to know where that wind is coming from, as the following track “Suffer the Day” spews those gusts forth like the nuclear winter of atomic destruction!

Pestifere translates from French I think as ‘Plague’ or ‘Plague stricken’ so you get the idea. I love their creation of the post industrial apocalypse landscape and soundscape making me think back to the 80s very real atomic fear, and bands such as Sodom and Kreator. But this album has more to it than the bleak outlook, similarly to Kreator there are elements of lilting guitar leads that may even interest the Power Metal fans. Maybe.

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Mid-Year Top 10 Power Metal List

Well folks, half of 2016 is over. While this year may not have been kind to many of us, it has been exceptional for the world of metal. So many great albums have been released thus far, and many more to come. As ItH’s resident Power Metal dude, I’ve been especially happy with the sub-genre’s set of releases in these first six months. In total, I have listened to 78 Power Metal albums from January – June. Many of them were great, some were okay, and some were dreadful. For the ones that were great, I wanted to choose my 10 favorites for the first half of 2016. It was quite difficult, but I was able to cut it down.

Here, for you, are my top 10 favorite Power Metal albums for the first half of 2016:

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Armed With Books Honestly, Honesty

Armed With Books - Honestly, Honesty album cover Moody, thoughtful angst ridden post hardcore sound, owing a lot to Ian Mackaye and the sounds he delivered to the world. Grandad Records will release the vinyl version of this debut album Honestly, Honesty on August 5 2016.

I get the feelings of frustration and pent-up stress not the full-blown despair that the sludge bands offer, this is a cleaner, lighter sound, but none the less it bubbles on the surface, letting you know that the geyser is just about to blow any minute! Armed with Books hold it together by balancing light touch gentle guitar work, before crashing cymbals and disdainful vocals remind us of the true reason they formed a band!

Armed With Books come from Norwich, the eastern side of England, which, as I have mentioned here before grows some awesome bands of different genres. Maybe it’s the North Sea coast that gives them their despondent disposition, but its great listening to the vocalist ranting over the back beat. During “Plain Sight” I can see his veins stressing under his neck skin it is that strong! I want to stomp around the room now and throw things!

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