Convulse – Deathstar (2020)

Growls ruined a rock album! This is perhaps a line we don’t really come across, it’s a brand new sentence for all we know. Convulse, the legendary Finnish death metal band has released a new album titled “Deathstar”. The name immediately took me to “Oldstar” but we can come to that in a bit. What we have here is a rock album with varying degrees of influence from Psychedelic, Souther and Post-Rock. The odd piece in this puzzle are the vocals, had the band decided to stick with non-growls this album would’ve been a really radio friendly record. The opener ‘Extreme Dark Light’ starts off as a soundtrack to James Bond playing Poker in Casino Royale, it’s perfect! It was the first image that came to my mind when I first heard this album. Musically this isn’t soft death metal or an offshoot of death metal, this is a rock album. As we go further into the record, we have Pink Floyd’ish keys which Syd Barrett (R.I.P) would’ve been proud of. Some pieces across the songs are spectacular! The guitar tone is akin to dark metal bands but the spirit of the solos are straight out of a Post-Rock atmosphere. Prime example of this is track #3, ‘The Summoning’ which ends with a nice vista of post-rock atmosphere. 

‘Chernobyl’ opens with the traditional heaviness and it slowly dissipates into an 90’s English sound. Again, the vocals play the spoilsport here, I mean when the music clearly has taken a different route why have these vocals? They ruin what the rest of the band are doing. This track has one of the nicest solos on the entire album. Very balanced, melodic and as straightforward as a radio friendly jingle. This is not progressive death metal in any way, case in point is the track ‘We Sold Our Soul For Rock ‘N Roll’. I can imagine Britney Spears covering this for a Side B of her Christmas special. It feels like the band is making a conscious decision to infuse the heaviness but then change their minds. The title track of the album ‘Deathstar’ sticks to your traditional distorted riffs but gives space to nice spacey notes in the track. I’ve got to admit it’s done well. This is a good album to hit the charts with or perhaps have a couple of singles out there for the general public to pay attention. With the year as it is as, I suppose, anything is possible. 

A track that immediately catches your attention is ‘Make Humanica Great Again’, this is your typical Slash/Myles Kennedy affair. A traditional riffy opening, vocals kicking in to make the statement about the condition of humanity. Slash taking over to thrill us with his gifts and then we move on to the next track. I particularly like the guitar parts on this track, pieces of it are clearly influenced from Pink Floyd’s sound from ‘Set The Controls’ timeline. Another interesting thought was how I’d enjoy this on stage but not on a record. To sum it up, no track on this album is remarkable even though the band has strayed significantly from what I’ve expected. These are your average rock songs done well. The first listen was painful but the subsequent ones were not hurting as much. Everytime I came to the songs I’d round them with being ‘decent’, ‘good guitars’ and ‘bad vocals’. That is how I’ll end this. Give it a try, if you’re streaming this album, do put it on random. Might give you a different perspective. Best track: Light My Day

Bandcamp: https://transcendingrecs.bandcamp.com/album/deathstar

My Dying Bride – Macabre Cabaret [EP] (2020)

My Dying Bride sticks to their well established template with this EP. Although the band seems to have sped up their riffs and songs in general, otherwise there are no haunting riffs, no eerie slow drums that pierce the atmosphere. The keyboards are slid within the rhythm section and shine through on the last track ‘A Purse of Gold and Stars’. This is a good-riffy EP. Not that the riffs in themselves are spectacular, they just stick to an essential My Dying Bride sound. However, the guitars sound absolutely spectacular, the tone isn’t too distorted or tuned down to the depths. It’s a fine balance to carry the band forward. Aaron’s vocals add a brilliant layer on the top, no complaints there. The EP is a fantastic display of the band’s musicianship.

To add to it, the EP has been mixed really well, there is not a dull moment. The opening track is a 10 minute hymn to the darkness, the band puts their best foot forward and sound their coherent best. Propelled by Aaron’s vocals and fantastic rhythm section, this song alone makes sufficient case to get a physical copy of this release. The guitars aren’t muddy, they’re deep, easy and relatively slow in comparison. The band has also released a video for this and that it in itself speaks volumes of where the band currently are. I’m delighted to hear this and I’m positive every fan of Peaceville sound will definitely appreciate this track in entirety.

‘A Purse of Gold and Stars’ should be called out for invoking the beautiful atmosphere of “Sear Me MCMXCIII”. Albeit this track feels like is a gentle reflection off a nice quiet stream. This song is a fantastic look into My Dying Bride’s phenomenal sense of songwriting. A slow, reflective composition that embraces the shallow atmosphere and to add to the effect are brilliant vocals. These are the tracks where the band springs to life. No matter how well they weave their rhythm to the dark atmosphere, it’s these gentle pieces where the band is at their best. It’s a relatively short EP clocking at 22 minutes and it does leave you wanting for more.

From the memorable yet basic riffs on the title track ‘Macabre Cabaret’ to the more doomy ‘A Secret Kiss’ where the entire band is at their best, there are no complaints. Infact ‘A Secret Kiss’ takes us back to the band’s heavy sound which is an absolute pleasure. I see this EP as a good companion to their stronger albums. There are no identify problems or sudden departures from the established. It’s a wonderful release on this whole. Do get a copy! This is a good display of My Dying Bride’s agility and I for one am glad to hear this release this year.

Label: Nuclear Blast
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Of Feather And Bone – Sulphuric Disintegration (2020)

Released on the 13th of November, 2020 by Profound Lore Records.

Luckily there is a post on the Metal Archives forum that describes my feeling towards this release with an uncanny sense of accuracy – Link

One of the many bands on Profound Lore/Relapse/Prosthetic that I listen to and think, are they really doing anything unique? The single is pretty solid and ripping, but at the same time it feels like this style is reaching Cascadian Black Metal in 2012 levels of oversaturation. Maybe I’m missing something but it just feels like there are a thousand bands in the US alone doing this exact same thing with only the tiniest differences (OSDM but fast! OSDM but super slow! OSDM but slightly more technical!) and it’s starting to wear me out.

By – narsilianshard

You know what, the atmosphere is great, the execution is fantastic, the production is kickass, then why am I not feeling anything more after the initial euphoria died down? It’s perhaps the same thing done to death before and is now being done slightly better. Make no mistake, I would see this band on stage without a second thought because this is clearly music to be enjoyed in a pub with friends. Otherwise, everything sounds alright but nothing seems memorable. Allow me to rectify that line, the drumming and the vocals on this album are top notch! Really well done. We’ve heard the riffs a hundred times before, nothing too interesting to wake me up or push me aside. The leads are few and far between which give the occasional kick of life to the songs. Otherwise, it’s a fine album. It’s put together well, the musicians clearly know what they’re doing but it’s not doing much for me. I’ll however definitely go see them live, they seem like a fun live band.

Cheers!