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Wednesday 18 May 2022

Reviews: Thy Kingdom Will Burn, The Dark Alamorté, Imonolith, Casket Feeder (Reviews By Matt Cook)

Thy Kingdom Will Burn – The Void And The Vengeance (Scarlet Records)

Melodic death metal and Finland go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter & jelly, whiskey and coke. The list of illustrious acts to hail from the frozen northern tundra is as exhaustive as it is prolific: Children of Bodom, Kalmah, Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Mors Principium Est… do you see my point?
With that in mind, Thy Kingdom Will Burn continue to make a strong case for their acceptance within the ranks of such highly acclaimed bands. 

One of the most exhilarating elements of their new record, The Void And The Vengeance, is the waste-no-time mentality; Between Two Worlds switches from metal to acoustic with piano accompaniment in half a minute. As soon as the Mors Principium Est-inspired harsh lines were bellowed atop slower-tempoed music, I was caught hook, line and sinker. The influences were alive and well on Disbelief. Sami Kujala dances around a gnarly power-metal guitar fill in the vein of Gloryhammer. He then also delves into a nifty Brian Fair impersonation. The adept musicianship thrives on this album. Standout Veil Of Wicked Sky is exemplary in its complementing guitar intro and unwavering cohesion from start to finish. 

It’s followed up by the dark MDM hit Fortress Of Solitude. Thy Kingdom Will Burn opt to turn down the tempo on the last three songs, but metaphorically, the flame still lives on. The band has released two full-lengths in as many years. The Void And The Vengeance nary seems mediocre. Some of it is that rugged Finnish blood. But a lot of it is downright precise performances and a keen sense of how to incorporate a plethora of influences while also carving out a unique sound that both fits well into the genre but also pushes the envelope. 7/10

The Dark Alamorté – Lunacrium Thepsis (Unique Leader)

A 15-track album isn’t as common as it was, say, 20 years ago. Though fret not when consuming The Dark Alamorté’s latest release, Lunacrium Thepsis. It’s an ambitious albeit dreary collection of Atmospheric black metal. Most important, it’s well worth the time it warrants. The deserved praise begins first with the aural, attention-grabbing ambience, most significantly on A Loathing Tomb and equally as adeptly on Vongrimson Burrows, which wields the trifecta of stellar vocals, raucous tempo and a pristine execution. 

Cast Into Froth’ merges domineering vocals and an evocative tonal bed, and the ensuing end result smashes. The setting feels as enjoyable as can be. Within the confines of Lunacrium, the California four piece flirts with deathcore (Gowns Of Undying Light) and doubles down on the intrepid ambience (Antediluvian Revelation). It does take a few plays to resign yourself to the incessant and apparently irresistible double bass pedal that percolates so prominently as to actually justify my calling it out. I mean I enjoy shiny new toys like the rest of them, but in moderation. 

I was enthused by the knowledge that The Dark Alamorté hail from Los Angeles, because these guys have a sound that fits alongside any other melancholic, diabolical black metal that’s come out of Europe over the decades. As a whole, this record is likely stronger than any particular song. But black metal doesn’t exclusively rely on catchy hooks or memorable, arena-rock choruses. What’s here is instead a mystifying melody to be played on a gray-scaled, gloomy night of camping in the woods. 7/10

Imonolith – Progressions (Self Released)

It’s imperative I begin by confessing. When I first saw Jon Howard, with his early-2000s soul patch, meter-long wallet chain and Tapout-inspired attire (not to mention the crazy-scientist hairstyle), I judgmentally thought the worst. The epitome of everything I detested about high school. I hold my hands up in defeat. Howard is a ballerina when it comes to singing, pirouetting from heavy screams to balladeering. I was forced to eat my hat on more than one occasion while listening through Progressions, the newest hard-hitting effort churned out by Imonolith. The riffs are powerful, with each feeling fresh and pure. 

Overall, the record consistently won me over after trying to find reasons to resent the sound and style. The two-headed monster consisting of Kai Huppunen and Oswin Wong reign supreme on Army Of Me, pummeling with their brand of strong and heavy stringsmanship. I don’t love the repetitive refrain and the cadence in the chorus, but as we’ll see, more hat eating on my part. The Lesson is an exhibition of Howard’s exceptional screams, something I absolutely did not expect. 

Also unexpected was the heavy, dive-bombing riff, much to the song’s credit. Incorporating more of an Industrial feel, The Reign assaults you with fierce, brief drumming. And the “Bring down the reign” double-play on words is admirable and appreciated. It can either be interpreted as bringing down the reign of a tyrannical king/queen, emperor/empress, etc., or if heard instead of read, opening the skies to provide sustenance for the barren, arid landscape to allow for crop yields and vegetation. 

We’ve learned two things: Imonolith are a force to be reckoned with, a band which appeals to both metalheads and hard rockers alike (a feat not as easy as it might sound). And I am a close-minded asshole who makes snap judgements based entirely on seeing someone’s picture for three seconds.
Well played, Jon Howard. 7/10

Casket Feeder – Servants Of Violence (Self Released)

It would stand to reason that combining two of my favorite genres of music – death metal and hardcore – would result in a style that appeals to me twofold. Casket Feeder fall under that umbrella, except they can’t seem to commit 100 percent to either genre, instead opting to give a taste of what they can offer, but coming up short on further expanding certain elements. Servants Of Violence doesn’t come off as organic in the sense of blending the two labels together. Competing rather than co-existing, it serves as an awkward backdrop that clouds the overall quality of the release. I do recognize a lot of bands and fans alike reserve a special place in hell for discussing sub-genres and “pigeonholing,” but when I first searched Casket Feeder’s Metal Archives page, it piqued my interest.

The musical and vocal acumen is unquestionably present; Matt Downes harnesses a formidable sound, ebbing and flowing from powerful Death Metal (Vulture Culture) to forceful elongated screaming (Mask Of Sorrow). But the record didn’t get off on the strongest of notes. Opening with To The Hounds Go The Faithful, there is a noticeable prolonging between the music and the singing, which in this case is more distracting than constructive. This type of music should be aggressive, unrelenting, punishing. Allowing for extensive instrumental breaks only takes away from the momentum. Doomsday Prophecy doesn’t do Servants any favors, either. 

The track becomes mired in a weird echo effect that makes the guitar sound like it’s being played underwater. And not in the epic way Iron Maiden executed on Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. Tyranny Begins’ is a clear-cut headbanger colored with Hardcore goodness. But much like this review teeters from positive to negative, so too does the 10-song record. I applaud Casket Feeder’s ambition, and I was biased heading into this. Unfortunately, the album didn’t have the greatest beginning, and the Jekyll and Hyde back-and-forth continued until the last beat. I firmly appreciate the effort, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. 6/10

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