Sunday, December 7, 2014

Evig Hat - Evig Hat

So winter has come a bit early in my part of the world and when winter comes I love me some good old fashioned, icy, dark black metal. So in my quest to acquire some good black metal, I ran across Norway's Evig Hat. Formed in 2011 by Satan ( imagine that, Satan starting his own black metal band) who pretty much did all of it by himself up until recently, I found a band that really did not bring much originality to the table. But they really make up for it in Satan's ability to write catchy songs and having an evil as fuck sound. This is straight up black metal that kicks your ass with it's execution but has just enough melody to make the songs good and believable.

So in 2014, this band has released five full length releases and two EPs. All releases are digital, but man that's an impressive feat for anyone.The self titled full length being reviewed here is his fourth. What we have here is raw and aggressive black metal riffing that is more than just interesting enough to catch your ear. The opener, "Evig Hat" is starts out with some blasting and aggressive riffing that just sets the mood. The vocals are evil sounding and adds to the dark mood even more. The tempo slows a bit with some killer, almost doom sounding riffs leading to a melodic part that adds an epic element to this song. I'm liking this so far. The production is rather raw but I wouldn't say lo-fi. The drums can be over loud in a few spots like on the blasting parts of "Undermennesket." A great song with some really cool things going on but that snare drum. However, this does not take anything away from the song.

"Døde skrik" kinda reminds me of Shadowthrone era Satryricon in the beginning with the riffs and melodies. As I said, the vocals on this album sound really evil and actually are good black metal vocals. This song is just fierce, that's all I can say. The riffs just keep coming and when it does slow down it just flows with melody then it kicks your teeth in again. In contrast, "Ensomhetens Offer" just pummels you from beginning to end with sheer black metal mayhem. It slows a bit halfway through but for the most part this is fast riff laden black metal on this one. The album is closer is a nine and a half minute affair and is much slower with much more atmosphere. That does not take away from the heaviness or the darkness that just oozes from the song. It begins a bit chaotic, almost sounding like Zappa gone black metal, but seems to get that dark atmosphere as the song goes on. Quite different from the other songs on the album, this song still displays a black metal feeling because of the eerie sounds. I think it's a cool way to end the album.

So here we have an album that I ran across by accident but has now become an essential album for me. There is much more than just second wave worship going on here. This is about as real as it gets. I'm interested in hearing the other releases because if they are of this quality then we have something really special here. If you like black metal, this is for you.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Harmony - Theatre of Redemption

I must say that I'm not too familiar with Sweden's Harmony and their brand of progressive power metal. I probably still would not know of this band if it were not for Ethereal Magnanimus (Daniel Heiman for those who are noobs) providing guest vocals for their third full length, Theater of Redemption. Given that Mr. Heiman's post Lost Horizon output has not even come close to living up to his glory days since leaving the band. Needless to say that this was an album that gave me some hope that Mr. Heiman would align himself with some musicians worthy of his magnanimus (pun intended) voice. The teasers seemed promising so I was highly anticipating this.

While this isn't a horrible album, it just does not leave much of impression on me. Being that this is the first time hearing this band I would say they are a second tier prog/power band that has plenty talent but they lack that magic that makes an album special. The album opener, "The Window of my Soul," is a good song that has a catchy chorus and some nice riffing with keys providing a nice backdrop. Heiman sounds as godly as ever on this song and one would think that a band with this type of sound could keep the momentum going but honestly, this is the best song on the album. The songs just seem to get more forgettable as we get into the album. This Heiman fanboy's huge bubble is about to burst. "Inhale" could have been so much better if Heiman would have had total control over the vocals here. The riffing is okay but this has a much more poppy sound to it. I have no problem with poppy sounding power metal but this doesn't go anywhere. The organs give it a nice 70s vibe in places but the song begins to plod along with nothing catchy except for the guitar solo. Sadly it's becoming apparent that this band is full of talented musicians but lacking in the songwriting department.

The rest of the album contains songs that try real hard to be heavy and proggy and it times it kinda works but most of the time they fall flat. I guess "Crown Me King" is decent but at the end of the day it just doesn't stand out. "Son of the Morning" tries to put on that eastern vibe but it doesn't seem to work for me. These completely out of place clean guitars on the bridge lead to a ridiculous sounding chorus that tries to invoke "Kashmir" or something. The solo is more wankery, which I'm not opposed of in most cases. The title track has some nice melodies and it tries to be epic and gets away with it for the most part. The problem is that the song is not memorable enough for me to really care to think about it again. There just isn't anything there catchy enough to draw me in. The background vocals are clearly not Heiman and tend to get in the way of his vocals. Actually even his vocals tend to be sound phoned in at times. ."You Are" is a just awful. It's a ballad that is the perfect example of what I said about his vocals sounding phoned in. The song just plods and doesn't do anything interesting. I know it's a ballad but it's almost six minutes of how not to write the metal ballad.

So the million dollar question here is, after creating and signing on one of the greatest albums ever made in heavy metal does Daniel Heiman lend his voice to those who are so clearly unworthy of his talent? This should have been so much better. This album is so hit or miss that it's hard to enjoy in whole. I'm not a song guy, I consume albums. With just a couple of songs worthy enough to be considered good and the rest consisting of bad ideas inserted into less than passable songs this could be in the running for disappointment of the year. Heiman is so much better than this. If you were like me and got all worked up over this, save yourself the disappointment. It's not what is seems to be.