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Category: Reviews

Thomas Giles – Modern Noise

thomas giles

Metal musicians from well known and established acts are tasked with the unenviable task of having to constantly justify the purpose of any creative output delivered outside of their legacy act. Frontmen in particular are not only under pressure to deliver a product up to the standard set by their back catalog, but often have to prove themselves as competent musicians and songwriters in their own right. Ignoring the ironic-to-a-fault techno album released under the Giles moniker in 2004, it didn’t take long for Between the Buried and Me frontman Tommy Rogers to find purpose in music outside of extreme metal in his solo project Thomas Giles.

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Clément Belio – Contrast


Open minds/personal pronouns alert. Confession time: I’ve been trying to review this album for months. If you’ve been following the blog this year, you know that I have a pretty good turn around rate for reviews. However, this one has just haunted me in the best kind of way. What is Contrast by Clément Belio? It is a practice in imitation as inspiration. It is the essence of eclecticism. It is bewildering, delighting, decentralized and insane. By the composer’s own words, it is a patchwork of everything he loves in music, thrown into the melting pot of his brain. And so, I’ve waited for months for this to coalesce into a review. This is my feeble attempt at finally jotting it down.

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Polyphia – Muse


Although Polyphia are just releasing their first album, this fine group of young men have already shown the world that they are more than capable musicians, writing thoughtful, head-bobbingly good tunes that would give even the most proliferated talents cause for concern. With their debut album, Muse, the boys in Polyphia showcase their strengths to great effect; eleven tracks replete with leads, grooves, and oodly-noodly enjoyment.

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Outrun the Sunlight – Terrapin


It’s easier to base one of these reviews around a common theme or a line that screams out at you and really encapsulates the overall point of the review. Sometimes, a struggle must precede the formulation of such an essential focal point where one tries to distill the essence of an album into a single phrase. With Outrun the Sunlight‘s Terrapin this was an easy task: a labor of love. What we have before us is what happens when an artist falls deeply in love with his own creation. Not to be mistaken with falling in lust, whereupon music quickly degrades into mindless masturbation, this unique state comes from having poured hours and hours into not only each track but also each note, turn and phrase. The result is a cohesive whole that flows from part to part in an organic fashion, exploring diverse themes while maintaining a distinct sense of self.

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Skyharbor – Guiding Lights


For their first full studio release, Skyharbor‘s two-disc Blinding White Noise created a sonic shockwave that reverberated around the world receiving plaudits at every turn. They made enough of an impact to have their second funded by their fans so they really must have felt the pressure when constructing it. We are therefore delighted to report that this Indian-British combo have knocked it out of the park.

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Descendants of Erdrick – Advent


Nostalgia is a fickle mistress. Swathing us in the warm clothes of yesterdays, it can be a comforting sensation of our past achievements. However, got to comfortable within its embrace and it becomes a cloying shackle, holding you back from breaking your mold and rising past who you were. In making game-themed music, bands walk the fine line between these two options; nostalgia for the games of our childhood is the basic supposition on which their music rests. Few bands walk that line better than Descendants of Erdrick, balancing the original material with great songwriting and groove on their newest release, Advent.

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Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out


Thirty years into their career, Bay Area thrash pioneers Exodus are showing no signs of slowing down. After basically igniting the whole “re-thrash” movement with their 2004 release Tempo of the Damned, the band saw a line-up change with the addition of Lee Atlus on guitar and Rob Dukes on vocals, replacing longtime members Rick Hunolt and Steve “Zetro” Souza. 2005’s Shovel Headed Kill Machine was a brilliant exercise in audio violence, and hinted at the direction the band would take with their subsequent The Atrocity Exhibition albums. Both of these albums strayed somewhat from the thrash metal formula Exodus helped to establish and featured some of their most experimental and progressive work to date, and while some condemned this stylistic shift, both albums featured some of the best music Exodus had ever written. Now, the band has returned with their 1oth studio album, Blood In, Blood Out (11th if you count There Will Be Blood), and they’ve reunited with Zetro on vocals. Does this album keep that classic thrash spirit alive, or have Exodus overstayed their welcome?

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Usnea – Random Cosmic Violence


As 2014 winds its way down, it becomes obvious that several trends will jock for dominance. Whether you believe this is the year of technical death metal or of post-progressive, the Doom Revival™ should be somewhere on that list. Releases from giants such as Yob or Thou, coupled with younger additions from bands like Pallbearer, hint at the productivity that is churning beneath the surface of this sub-genre. However, one last piece of the puzzle was missing and that is the appearance of a whole new band unto the scene. And here, right at the nick of time, we have Usnea. Sporting clever design and a contract with none other than Relapse Records, these newcomers have set the bar high for their first label release. That bar is quickly smashed to pieces by the insanely massive album that is Random Cosmic Violence.

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gates – Bloom & Breathe


Usually when we say that tracks on an album blend to form one piece, we say it with a critical disposition at mind. Tracks are too repetitive or simply not interesting enough to stand on their own. However, there are exceptions to this rule, albums whose cohesion is simply a part of what they are, melding all tracks into one, big tapestry. Gates‘s newest album, Bloom & Breathe, is such an exception. Tracks quote each other and the emotionally intense vocals throughout serve as an irresistible second thread which runs through the entire piece. Instead of creating a repetitive mess, we are instead treated to an album that breathes on its own, with its own message and direction.

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Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel


Over recent years, we have seen a growing abundance of bands playing and writing in a so-called ‘progressive’ way; that is, drawing on a broad range of non-traditional influences as a basis for the development of more and more sophisticated means of interpreting the fundamentals of their root genre.  However, while this intrepid and fearless exploration into the extremes of composition and technique is one of the more exciting and attractive things about modern metal, very few progressive bands are truly innovative, or introduce something entirely new into the mix.  Ne Obliviscaris is one such band who, with their critically acclaimed debut album, Portal of I, eschewed the long accepted conventions of instrumentation by flirting with the notion of a violin lead in an extreme metal context, and did so with seamless effect.  Nearly three years on, and the band have returned with Citadel, an album which not only showcases  the devastating potential of the lead violin, but cements Ne Obliviscaris as one of the very best up and coming progressive metal bands in the world today.

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