Aetherial Disturbs the Waters of Oblivion with New Album “The Still Waters of Oblivion”

The Still Waters Of Oblivion

Album review by William Dibble

Australia. Land of kangaroos, the vast deserts of The Outback, the Sydney Opera House, and death metal. Aetherial is a melodic death metal band hailing from Melbourne. They released their debut album, The Still Waters of Oblivion, on November 10th of this year. Their new album clocks in at twelve tracks and forty-seven minutes.

 

The Still Waters of Oblivion opens with the track “The Penitent Man”. Opening with a brutally screamed line, “The penitent man shall pass no more,” this track launches from a slow intro right into a devastatingly heavy guitar and drum riff. One of the notable things right off the bat is the fact that the vocals are very easy to understand, something that is sometimes lost with bands that use screams. This is no problem for Aetherial, as you can easily discern the words in every line of the song. “The Penitent Man” is followed by the blistering “Obscurus”. Where the previous song had a plodding, deliberate feel to it, “Obscurus” is fast, frenetic, and lethal. Right from the first second, it takes you on a journey of killer riffs and lead guitars. “The Fallen Will Mark The Way” continues this pace. One of the things that is remarkable about the first few songs, including “The Insignificance of Us”, is that they maintain a distinct individual sound. The style between songs is consistent, yet you don’t feel like you are listening to the same song over and over.

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“Back to the Earth” gives an initial impression is a much slower song. Featuring a clean guitar and singing intro, it catapults you straight into a blastbeat-centric death metal song. “One of the Departed” sounds extraordinarily similar to “Back to the Earth” in structure, but features short bursts of relatively clean guitar sound throughout. While they may share similarities, they are two distinct songs. The next track mostly serves as an interlude, marking the halfway point of the album, before “Perpetual Night” begins. “Perpetual Night” is a powerful, heavy track that lets us know that Aetherial has no intention of slacking off during the closing half of their album. “We Who Know the Tempest” is not as strong of an entry as the prior songs. While it is still a great song, the song begins to feel overly long and repetitive by the end. That being said, it is by no means a bad song.

 

“Spirit Against the Flesh” is a shorter song with similarities to punk and hardcore. Coming in at track nine on the album, it offers a sudden and surprising change of pace and tone while keeping with Aetherial’s honed death metal style. “Three Poisons” and “The Unavoidable Conclusion” offer a crushing finale to a very potent album, closing out on notes just as heavy, if not heavier than, the opening songs.

 

It is difficult to believe that The Still Waters of Oblivion is the debut album of a relatively new band on the international scene. Aetherial’s initial offering offers callbacks in style and composition to early-era Gojira and Arch Enemy, two titans in the melodic death metal scene. Fans of death metal will certainly enjoy this work. It is easy to point to technical reasons to enjoy the album, too. The instruments are clearly separate and listenable, and the vocals are crystal-clear. The composition of songs and album are expert, showing finesse beyond what even some seasoned bands do. Pick up The Still Waters of Oblivion today!

Trivium and Arch Enemy are no Trivial Display of Power at Summit Music Hall

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Review and photography by William Dibble

Denver has many music venues, with several of them within a few blocks of each other. Summit Music Hall is one of the larger ones. The venue is located just blocks away from the Nuggets baseball stadium squarely within the center of Denver night life. Most shows are general admission, which includes access to an upstairs balcony section with plenty of room and a fantastic view. The lower floor has a huge area dedicated to merch to the right of the stage, with enough room for several bands to host their merch comfortable while fans line up. Over on the left of the stage is a small dining area and window, from which you can buy pizza and hamburgers. There’s a second, smaller stage near the bar, situated near the entrance of the venue. Tonight’s show promised to be crowded – Summit Music Hall was reporting that it was sold out.

The venue was already filling up even before any of the bands had taken the stage. They’d posted the night’s time schedule next to the door on the way in. Fit For An Autopsy was scheduled to open the night around 6:30pm. Right on time, the metal tracks went quiet, and the lights dimmed. Sometimes, you get shows where the opening bands are relatively new to touring and the stage, and while their music is fantastic, their stage presence is not as notable as the headliners. Tonight is an exception. Each of the four bands are seasoned veterans. Fit For An Autopsy took over the stage right away. They only had thirty minutes, but they made the best of it.

They opened up with two tracks from The Great Collapse, “Hydra” and “Heads Will Hang” before going further back in their discography to play “Absolute Hope Absolute Hell”. While their set was only six songs long, they smashed their way through it energetically. There was no lag between the opening acts and the headliners here- the crowd was energized from the very first moment. All too soon, their set finished, and they were packing up the stage.

It took only fifteen minutes to get their gear off stage and the next band started. Like a well-oiled machine, While She Sleeps was ready to go right on schedule. Like the other bands on tour, they were supporting a new album. They opened with the title track from You Are We, before playing mostly new songs and two older songs. Hailing all the way from Sheffield, England, they were ready to throw down with the Denver crowd. At one point, the singer even climbed into the crowd, riding atop the hands of adoring fans, before closing out with the new song “Hurricane”.

Despite being a changeover of the entire stage from the two supporting acts to one of the two headliners, the stage was ready to go in just fifteen minutes again. Arch Enemy was up next, and they hit the stage like an explosion. The crowd was ready before they’d even started playing “The World Is Yours”. Alissa White-Glutz, who joined the band on their last studio album as well as new release Will to Power, absolutely owns the stage. Not once did her energy flag through their monstrous seventy-five minute setlist, comprised of fifteen songs. Relative band newcomer Jeff Loomis, formerly of Nevermore, fit right in with the Swedish death metal. They drove through a powerful mix of new and old songs, with Alissa showing off her ability to both belt out the songs she’d recorded on, as well as the classics from the band’s other singers. It was clear within moments why Arch Enemy was one of the legendary staples of death metal. Despite having a set well over an hour long it felt like they were leaving the stage almost as soon as they’d come onto it, closing out with “Nemesis”. They left Trivium, the co-headliner, with a lot to live up to, between their honed stage show and their costuming and lights.

Trivium, however, was not about to be upstaged. Trivium’s Matt Heafy may not have an elaborate jumpsuit and costume like Alissa, but he doesn’t need it to command a powerful stage presence. Where Arch Enemy feels both welcoming and imposing, Trivium feels like they’re there to have a great time together with the audience. They opened with the new song “The Sin and the Sentence”, followed by “Down From the Sky” from 2008’s Shogun album. Similar to their co-headliner, they played a wide range of old and new material. Part of what makes Matt’s stage presence so endearing and unique is that he frequently flashes the most friendly, happiest smiles at the audience. At one point, he stopped mid-song. “Are you okay?” he asked, gesturing out to the mosh pit. “I saw you fall. You looked like- Oh you’re okay? Cool! I want to make sure everyone’s having fun.” Trivium had an absolutely amazing set, and was great fun to watch.

Summit Music Hall is a fantastic venue. The sound quality there is absolutely impeccable. Whether you were getting pizza and drinks at the food window, or buying merch, or in the back at the bar, sound is both loud and clear. It never feels muddy or distorted. There is a lot of space for moving around, and two wide stairs to the upper floors. This becomes important at bigger shows, especially sold out ones like this one. The stairs happen to be great viewing stations overlooking the stage at an angle. In fact, you can see that angle from some of our shots. The railings can become decently crowded, so it is important that there is still room to navigate up and down the stairs. There are restrooms both next to the stage and near the entrance.

All four bands are touring in support of new albums. Fit For An Autopsy just released The Great Collapse. While She Sleeps released You Are We, with one song featuring Oli Sykes. Arch Enemy’s Will to Power is available as well, and Trivium recently released The Sin and the Sentence. All albums are available from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and other music distributors!

You can view the complete set of photographs from the show here: 11-17 Summit Music Hall

The Arson Choir Won’t Be Convicted of Arson with EP “Trophy Nation”

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Album review by William Dibble, images provided by The Arson Choir

In the last five years, the hardcore scene has truly exploded. Many bands have found unique sounds or niches to fill, and many more found other things to differentiate them. Genre-leaders Converge and Zao consistently produce powerful tracks with amazing instrumental work and fantastic vocals. Bands like Sharptooth and Stray From the Path offer uncompromising songwriting combined with strong political viewpoints. Dillinger Escape Plan made a name for themselves with eclectic rhythms and constantly-changing time signatures and sounds. Newcomers to the scene The Arson Choir have just released their EP, Trophy Nation, last month. Consisting of members of several other musical projects from both LA and Chicago, they promise a truly unique and powerful take on hardcore.

The Arson Choir describes their album as an audio assault from beginning to end. This is an accurate description. The first track, “Just the Tip”, immediately launches into a frantic riff with screamed vocals. Their bio document says that the song is about self destruction, and the chaotic sound of the song can certainly be said to embody that. “Tracker Jacker” is notably more coherent in sound and construction, and borrows its name from the Hunger Games book series. In both of these songs, the screams are the most powerful part of the vocal tracks. The sound of the chorus is very similar to the late 2000’s and early 2010’s metalcore movement, especially reminiscent of the clean vocals of later work by All That Remains.

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Track three, “White Girls”, has very powerful and consistently good guitar riffs and drumming. Unfortunately, the half-screamed half-clean vocals clash heavily with the sound of the rest of the song when the lyrics aren’t being outright screamed. The song’s breakdowns work well, but there are parts of the song that don’t mesh well with the rest. There is a spoken word section near the end that sounds like it was part of an entirely separate composition. There are parts of this album that are pretty good- but “White Girls” is not the album’s strongest song. It is followed up by “ABQ Blue”, which is possibly the album’s strongest track. It has stellar vocals, combined with lethally heavy instruments and breakdowns.

“Knife Me For It” is a close contender with “ABQ Blue” for best track on the album. A blistering hardcore piece, this sounds more like the bands that inspired their work. It switches between yelled and screamed vocals without ever making you feel like you lost your place in the song, or feeling like the vocals came from another song. The album closes out with “Lot Lizard”, a frantic and blistering track that follows in the footsteps of the prior two tracks. This song is a good choice to close out the album, finishing on a strong note.

The Arson Choir sets out some pretty high expectations, talking down about djent and metal in Los Angeles, and talking about how hard it was for them to find a vocalist that fit their needs. They set out to reproduce a sound similar to bands like Every Time I Die, The Chariot, and Eighteen Visions. In the latter half of the album, they effectively do that, setting down three powerful and blasting tracks. The mastering on the album is excellent, and each instrument and the singer are always easy to hear. The song names are also clearly inspired by older bands within the genre, similar to tracks from ETID and DEP. Those nostalgic for a day when the genre was ruled by testosterone and song names that you weren’t-quite-sure-are-ironic will enjoy that aspect. While it may not be groundbreaking, Trophy Nation is not necessarily a EP you should skip. Pick it up at their bandcamp page today!

Smoke From All the Friction isn’t just making smoke in new single “The Clumsiest Waltz”

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Review by William Dibble, images and video by Smoke From All the Friction

The music scene in Raleigh, NC, is a vibrant and diverse place. While it may feel like the metal scene gets all the press coverage, there are a number of artists in other genres. Smoke From All The Friction is one such artist. SFAtF is a indie rock band that combines elements of dark pop, rock, and electronic music that was born from the minds of two talented musicians.

Smoke From All the Friction has an established hit single, “Cross & Tattoo,” that plays on several local radio stations. “Cross & Tattoo” is a rhythmic and soothing track that is easy on the ears. It combines soft electronic beats with a soft, clean vocal track. It is a bit heavy on bass, but that mostly serves to emphasize the tempo and rhythm. If you were to take the band Owl City and combine it with indie rock elements, you would have a rough idea of what to expect from this track in the best possible way.

Their new single, “The Clumsiest Waltz”, opens with a combination of vocalizations and piano. The song focuses not on love, or coming of age, in a direct sense, but more about one aspect of relationships. Smoke From All the Friction discusses and covers the fact that two people may not meet all of each other’s needs and expectations, and also that this is okay. “The Clumsiest Waltz” is musically appropriate to this theme, as well. It is soft and poignant, and almost has an ambient feel to it. A person could easily visualize a relationship-themed montage as they are listening. This ambient feel also applies to the drums, and continues through the end of the song. It is a mesmerizing and fantastic track.

As far as local pop and electronic bands go, Smoke From All the Friction is definitely one to keep an eye on. The leveling and mastering in the tracks keeps each instrument easily separated from the others, allowing you to enjoy both the instrumental aspects and the vocals without struggling to listen. This is something that is not always achieved by groups, with the vocals sometimes getting lost in electronic beats, so it is definitely an achievement. Pick up their music on ReverbNation today!

Downfall 2012 – We Welcome the Pain review

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Review by William Dibble, images provided by Downfall 2012

Houston, Texas, is perhaps most famous for being the site of NASA control. We all know the phrase “Houston, we have a problem” so well that it has become part of our national daily lexicon for when something has gone wrong. Houstin-based metal outfit Downfall 2012 hopes to change that somewhat. They want to make a huge splash in the rock and metal scene, releasing their new album We Welcome the Pain on November 8th of this year. The album comes in at eleven tracks and forty minutes in length, and focuses on how Downfall 2012 believes we bring most of our pain on ourselves.

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“Take Control” is an excellent name for the opening track of the album. It immediately gives you an audible image of what this album will sound like. It has a very distinctive bassline, and a rousing rhythm. The instruments are reminiscent of the 90’s and early 00’s nu metal movement, while the vocals are reminiscent of early-era Mushroomhead. The mix of screams and vocals is certainly well balanced. “Find Your Enemy” starts off with another heavy intro before launching straight into a rapped verse, calling the earlier vocal comparison back to mind. This is not a bad thing. Downfall 2012 definitely possesses a very distinctive vocal style. The song also makes good use of the nu metal/metalcore trope of a muted section of instruments with a more “distant” sounding vocals. “Attack Point” is a slightly different beast from the first two tracks. Rather than launching into the body of the song with a guitar assault, it starts immediately on the first verse, and goes straight into the chorus. “Attack Point” simultaneously preserves the vocal styles of the first two songs while firmly establishing a sound unique to Downfall 2012. One of the interesting things about this song is that there are only two short breaks in the vocals. Once at the middle, and once toward the end. This song feels like its name- an attack point where the band firmly wants to establish their uniqueness.

The title track, “We Welcome the Pain”, starts off with cleaner guitars before launching into a stop-and-go drum and guitar rhythm laid out behind a quickly rapped verse. This song is more of a blending of musical themes from rap metal and nu metal, focusing more on the rap side of it, which is a very good thing. It is not a song that a person can mistake for the work of any other band. “Fooled Once” follows a similar formula, but the rap influences aren’t as apparent here. This song mixes in more clean vocals and guitars between the heavier screamed verses, providing an aural contrast. Track six, “Save the Queen”, changes the formula back to the earlier one. It starts out with heavier guitars and rapped verses, and mixes in a much longer clean verse than many of the other songs. Despite feeling slower vocally, this clean verse is paired with the fast beat-beat-beat of a bass drum, making it feel almost urgent or rushed, which pairs well with the song.

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“Don’t Give In (Nine More Lives)” pairs synths with the musical sound that Downfall 2012 has developed over the prior six songs. It also continues the increased use of clean vocals found in “Save the Queen”. By this point in the album, it is without a doubt that they have achieved their vision of developing a distinct and unique sound. “The Mission” is very different from the prior few tracks. It blends in influences of faster-paced bands, and even a little metalcore influence, to inject a massive amount of energy to the album. If anything inspires a mosh pit on this album, it will be this track. “Forward Movement” is a slower, clean-vocals track that serves as an intro to the penultimate song, “Make Us One”. The slower intro, paired with the fast intro riff and drums, make an excellent song with played one after the other. Surprisingly, “Make Us One” features a lot of clean vocals, which isn’t what the intro would leave one to expect. This makes it a positively surprising track before it launches into its rapped verses. We Welcome the Pain closes the album out with “End Credits”, a synth-heavy last song. At first, the song might lead a listener to believe it will be a fairly generic song, but that notion is dispelled within moments. A lightning-paced rap verse paired with clean vocals.

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It takes a little bit to build up, but We Welcome the Pain does achieve Downfall 2012’s goal of establishing a unique sound and musical vision. Artfully mastered, it offers a look at how nu metal can evolve and grow as a genre. There are parts of the album that begin to sound formulaic, but it is an excellent addition to any music library and these parts are vastly outnumbered by the songs that sound completely and totally unique. Pick up We Welcome the Pain on iTunes and other services on November 8th!

Dead End Scene – Dead End Scene EP review

DES EP cover

Written by William Dibble

Many of the bands we cover are locals from North Carolina or all over the southeast. We recently covered Shatterproof, a folksy punk band from New Mexico, and today, our journey takes us far across oceans and mountainscapes to the distant Helsinki, Finland. Despite what some conspiracy theorists claim, Finland does, in fact, exist. Dead End Scene is a metal band hailing from this Scandinavian nation, and today their self-titled EP, Dead End Scene EP, was released. They played in the finals for the Emergenza band contest, and even the Wacken Metal Battle of 2016.

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Dead End Scene EP wasted no times in assaulting your eardrums with brutal riffs. The very first moments of “Order in Chaos” sound like the perfect track to open a concert and mosh pit with. The instruments of the album are heavy loud, reminiscent of bands like Motorhead, Iced Earth, and other earlier heavy metal groups. The songwriting is also of high quality. The singing doesn’t disappoint, either. Dead End Scene mixes melodic vocals with occasional screams and even a few gang vocals. There are several parts of the song where they pan the vocals across the left and right stereo channels, something that isn’t used very often any more. If the verses and chorus of “Order in Chaos” don’t have the audience too busy moshing, fully expect to see finger-guitars held up in the air at any shows during the blistering solo. “In Disguise” is the followup second track, and it neither gives quarter nor asks for any. This song really helps cement the heavy metal feel of the album. This album would feel at home in the height of the late 80’s and 90’s heavy metal movements in the best ways. The lyrics themselves are also powerful, discussing our obsession with hiding who we are and putting on a show for the outside world in hopes of receiving outside approval that is, ultimately, a lie.

“Dance in the Rain” is one of two singles from this EP. Opening with keys and softer vocals, the intro gives singer Mikko Kylmänen a chance to really show off his vocal chops. He uses this chance to great effect before the metal riffs cut back in. Dead End Scene shows off their superb songwriting in this one, combining a catchy metal song with powerful lyrics about accepting ourselves. The guitar riffs in this one are spectacular, combining the hard edge of the lower notes with a higher melody throughout. “This is the End” continues this, alternating behind cleaner, higher guitar notes with the heavier melodies, and introduces synths behind the chorus.

Track five, “Bite of the Underdog”, launches straight back into the heavier sound introduced in the first two tracks. The song features several mosh-inspiring bridges, especially the one that leads into the first verse. A person at one of their concerts should be ready for an energetic crowd for this one. Musically, this track continues the careful application of synths introduced in “This is the End” to augment the sound of the guitars and Teemu Haataja’s drum work. The final track, “Dawn”, is the second single released off this EP. Like their other single, this one also opens with keys and synths, but has a more cinematic approach to the intro. “Dance in the Rain” almost had a ballad-like feel to parts of it. “Dawn” is more similar to symphonic heavy metal, on the other hand. Olli Salmi really gets to show off his lead guitar skills in this song with an absolutely devastating guitar solo. “Dawn” is an excellent choice to cap off a very potent album. It really shows off the best skills of the entire band, and has a very climactic feel to it.

 

Dead End Scene EP is an excellently written and produced album. The professional sound and mastering, mixed with expert songwriting, guarantees that this will be a crowd favorite, and that seasoned fan and newcomer alike to Dead End Scene will be pleased. In the United States, many associate Finland, Norway, and Sweden with heavy metal, and this EP will certainly be a proud torchbearer for that legacy. Buy it on iTunes, listen to it on Spotify, and other services today!

Shatterproof – Shatterproof review

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Written by William Dibble

Nobody can deny that the internet has revolutionized music. The number of independent artists out there is exploding, and shows no signs of stopping. The question becomes, with this influx of new artists, how does one stand out? How does a band differentiate themselves from the competition? Shatterproof has certainly figured it out with their new EP, Shatterproof, available now. Shatterproof is a punk band that brings something new to the scene, that’s for sure.

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Right off the bat, “So Punk” launches into some sick fast riffs, combined with violin. Violins and cellos have been making inroads into the rock scene for a decade now, with many bands using them as backing or even primary instruments. Shatterproof uses violin to great effect alongside their blistering punk sound, giving their songs an almost folk-music tinge. Shatterproof is an album that is, ultimately, about the struggle of the working artist. “So Punk” starts off talking about what it is like to be a ‘starving artist’, going into great detail about the state of their life. Following this is “Cookie Cutter Life”, which starts with a keys introduction that brings to mind old movies and circuses. This melts into a low set of vocals and muted guitars, before taking off into the bulk of the song. “Cookie Cutter Life” is an energetic punk song through and through. It borrows traits and techniques from several genres, and features a chorus that the audience will likely sing along heartily to.

 

“Karma” starts off with soft vocals and clean guitars, but quickly jumps into a track that is best described as ‘bouncy’. Even sitting down listening to the track, one feels compelled to bounce or jump along with its jaunty rhythms and violins. The violins make a noticeable return after being absent in “Cookie Cutter Life”, lending both rhythm and soaring melodies. “Definition of Fine” is a softer song overall, about the what it means when you tell somebody “I’m fine”. This song isn’t just about artists- it is so much more. The soft vocals and guitars build to an almost overpowering drum climax, before dropping back into the older rhythm. The EP closes out with “Lykos”, which closes the album with a rousing punk song that is reminiscent of the emo-punk movement of the 2000’s while remaining distinctly Shatterproof in essence.

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Shatterproof is an EP with, well, shatterproof quality and songwriting. The songs are catchy and unique, and offer a lot of energy. While it only clocks in at under twenty minutes, it features more musical talent in those twenty minutes than some major label bands put out in an hour. Musical creativity isn’t dead, by a long shot, and Shatterproof is clear and present evidence of that. Shatterproof is now for sale and streaming on most major platforms. Click here to grab it on iTunes!