Here Lies Man: You Will Know Nothing (Riding Easy Records)
You Will Know Nothing is Here Lies Man’s second album, the band, which is made up of members of the band Antibalas, claim to be mixing Black Sabbath with Afrobeat. To be honest, I think both of these references are a little wide of the mark. Yes, this is a very ‘Riffy’ album, but it’s a style of riff that pre-dates Black Sabbath. There are a lot of interesting rhythmic things going on, but I can’t hear anything that screams Afrobeat. The main sound on this album is late 60’s psychedelic rock. If you put this into the stereo on the Magic Bus, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters would totally get this album, in fact, they’d probably use it in one of their acid tests. If you don’t understand that last sentence, but would like to, then read Tom Wolfe’s amazing book “The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test”.
The album features 11 tracks of mainly riffy psychedelic rock, up tempo riffs, lots of Hammond organ, mellotron, flute, and some very interesting drumming that includes some tribal style drumming. The main sound is very reminiscent of early Deep Purple (Shades Of Blue Light in particular). The album has been influenced by Cream, The Doors, Blue Cheer, The Grateful Dead, and maybe a little Zappa. The vocals are nearly all chanted ‘gang’ style vocals (it might be the whole band chanting, but it could also be one voice multi-tracked). The vocals are sporadic throughout the album, it feels like these are songs with choruses, but no verses.
This feels a little like an instrumental album. The lack of vocals, in large parts of the album is a little of a problem. The more riffy tracks do all sound a little similar. This is helped however by 3 of the tracks being, much softer in feel, bringing a lot more jazz into play, and this breaks up the faster tracks. This breaking the album up using these softer songs (my favourite of these songs is the dreamy, ambient sounding track Voices At The Window), stops the sameness of the rockier songs making the album feel monotonous. You Will Know Nothing is an enjoyable piece of late sixties psychedelic rock. If you think music peaked in 1968, you should definitely give this a go. 7/10
Betrayer: Scaregod (Mystic Production)
Betrayer have been going since 1989, albeit with a hiatus between 1995 and 2012. Scaregod is Betrayer’s 3rd studio album. Scaregod is 9 tracks of Old school death metal. Tight fast riffs, screaming solos and gnarly, harsh vocals can be found on this album. Sounds good? Yeah, that's what I thought, but the more I listened to this album, the more it became apparent that there was a serious problem with it. There is a massive elephant in the room with this album. The Elephant's name is Morbid Angel.
The first time I listened to Scaregod it felt very familiar. Repeated listens, confirmed what I first thought. Every riff, every solo, and particularly the vocals have come from Morbid Angels first 2 albums (Altars Of Madness and Blessed Are The Sick). Although the guitar sound is a little thicker than that on those early MA albums (probably more to do with modern production techniques), but the riffs are so similar. The tremolo dive-bombs and harmonic squeals in the solos are straight out of Trey’s playbook. The structure, rhythm and cadence of the vocals on the track Acrid Blood are taken straight from the MA song Lord Of All Fevers And Plague
Scaregod isn’t a bad album. In fact it’s a really good piece of old school death metal. It’s just that it’s someone else’s really good old school death metal album. It’s a shame, as the musicians involved are clearly very talented. But, they have to find their own identity if they are to have any relevance at all. If you don’t know Morbid Angel, this will definitely impress you, but you’ll be much more impressed if you listen to the originals. 6/10
Naisian: Rejoinder EP (Self Released)
Naisian are a 3 piece from Sheffield, who are back after a 5 year break. The EP contains 3 tracks of heavy as anything sludge. The style of sludge on offer here is reminiscent of Unholy Trance, but with elements of Neurosis and Pelican as well in the mix. The tracks aren’t just heavy, there's a serious groove to the proceedings as well, that makes this a really enjoyable listen. This is a great little EP, the only problem is that it is, well, little. The entire thing is only 13 minutes long. It turns up, kicks your head in, and immediately fucks off again. Just as you’re going, “Wow, this is great,” It’s over. So, really great EP, the fact that I’m complaining there isn’t enough of it, shows that, but please Naisian, record a full length, so I can enjoy your insane heavy, groove laden riffs a little longer. 7/10
Black Crucifixion - Lightless Violent Chaos (Universal Music)
Finnish black metal band Black Crucifixion are back with their 4th studio album since their inception in 1991 (although they have done several EP’s, splits and a live album as well as the 4 studio albums). The 7 tracks on offer here are in a melodic, tuneful style of black metal. The album isn’t particularly blasting. Although they use some very effective tremolo picking, there aren’t many blast-beats on the album. The style is more measured and thoughtful than blasting for blastings sake. The sound on the album isn’t full on necro, it’s well produced, but at the same time feels organic, and real. The basic feel of the album is about atmosphere and menace, rather than ferocity and anger.
In many parts this album is very simple and subtle. several of the songs (Free Of Light in particular) remind me of Trelldom (Gaahls band before he was in Gorgoroth) or Lawless Darkness era Watain. This album is all about songs, they all have their own identity, which allows the band to take the listener on a very enjoyable journey. The vocals on the album is very effective as well. There are the usual harsh vocals, but there is also some very effective low chanting as well as whispering. The whispering style is particularly effective in the track Discipline, which is sinister and baleful, partly due to the vocal style.
Lightless Violent Chaos, is a very good, measured and thoughtful black metal album. It’s not surprising that a band that has been going for 27 years, they have a maturity that a lot of black metal bands don’t have. The album is a beautifully put together album, that has clearly had a lot of thought put into it. All in all, a really enjoyable, rewarding album. 8/10