Chuck Schuldiner Project

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blackhour - Sins Remain

It's been a long time since I've gotten to cover a metal band from Pakistan. There is something inherently fascinating to me about bands from that subcontinent – and I pray that metal can bring those divided nations together. The point being Blackhour play some impressive and tight modern metal that, while almost radio friendly at times, belies an impressive amount of talent and dedication in a country that often frowns on this kind of music. Well executed and surprisingly fun, their latest release Sins Remain is an engaging listen.

One of the weaknesses of this band is that despite their apparent talent Blackhour are fairly limited by technology. The mixes are often a little weak and the guitar tone could do with some tweaking. That being said – these guys are clearly top notch musicians. The solos are brilliantly executed and oftentimes singable, as the best solos are. The riffs are a lot of fun to, chunky and flashy they get at the true heart of metal. And while yes, the band does need to continue to mature, what they have managed to put together on Sins Remain is still impressive and suggests that these young men have far more potential than displayed on this album.

I'm not saying Sins Remain is a bad record as much as one that shows a band growing. There is a lot to be excited about with Blackhour. Their sound is fairly unique and the guitarists in this band are clearly great songwriters. I'm just curious to see what happens when they spend even more time crafting their music and putting together art that resonates. Blackhour understand the fundamental topres of the metal world and are pushing it forward in a country that desperately needs it, I salute them and I'm excited to see what comes next!

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Monday, November 30, 2015

El Caco - 7

Norwegian hard rockers El Caco are back with one of their most vibrant and exciting releases to date. 7 is more than just a rock record - it's an album that fuses ideas and concepts together into a promising release that will get straight to your heart and force you to raise the horns in the air in unholy salute to all that this band represents. El Caco get the spirit of rock and roll and use their diverse sound to craft something that reflects the very spirit of the genre and all that it can mean and represent.

The deeper I delve into this album the more I realize that a huge part of what I love about 7 is how good it sounds. The quality of the production is insane and allows the punchy riffing on a song like Sickness to really resound with the listener. Toss in a few anthemic choruses that channel a punk rock energy on top of a grungy sense of songwriting and you start to get a sense for what El Caco is all about. Their is almost a manic sentiment behind the music here, the demented struggles of all that El Caco represent coming out with every tortured shout and then resonating in passages that let the listener soar.

Based on duality and emphasizing a stellar guitar tone El Caco get at why people like me love this kind of music. Simply put - 7 is a whole lot of fun to listen to and every single song just plain works. Coming at you from several directions at once it's easy to see why the band has achieved so much critical acclaim over the years - and its clear to me at least that they are set for much more. 7 is another step forward for a band that have been driving the rock machine for three decades - so let it ring out, loud and proud.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lefutray - Oath

Lefutray are the kind of Chilean thrash metal band that evidence why that country's scene is held in such high regard. The crazed riffing and demonic screaming that defines their latest record, Oath tears at the listener, and even circle pit inducing songs like the first real track, The World Infected, speak to a much darker reality and one that is rarely truly touched on in the thrash metal canon. What Lefutray are doing is bringing a new level of dialogue to thrash with a wonderfully bleak sound that still will let you crack a smile every now and then.

There is something inherently charming about the angular riffing and hyper speed bends that help to give this album definition. Toss in some very powerful death growls that seem also torn from the frontman and you start to realize that Lefutray are a thrash band that speak to more than just the thrash crowd. Though the band understands the sheer power of riffs they get the importance of bringing other genres into the mix to keep things exciting, devilish and diverse. With occasional breakdowns and more than a few tints of death metal, Oath remains a varied and interesting listen through and through.

As you delve into Oath you come to realize that Lefutray have done a great job of cultivating a sound that is their very own - a far too rare thing in this modern age. Their chunky riffing filled with flurries of notes and grooves reminiscent of Metallica is a blast to listen too and communicates a sense of bombast that is found in all of the best thrash metal. Lefutray aren't afraid to play by their own rules and though they certainly fit into the thrash metal polemic Oath proves that they can do so much more.

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Chelsea Wolfe w/A Dead Forest Index in Paris (@La Maroquinerie 18/11/2015)

The week following the dramatic events in Paris was most certainly a rough one for its concert venues. With the city still on edge and on high alert, a lot of artists understandably chose to cancel their French and Parisian shows, whereas some chose to withstand the tension and courageously maintain their parisian date on their tour schedule. Fortunately for her Parisian fans who’ve eagerly waited for her return, Chelsea Wolfe was part of the latter group; La Maroquinerie was booked full and our diva of darkness visibly had no intention of delivering any less than the her very best performance for the grieving city.

A dark-pop duo going by the name of A Dead Forest Index were given the task to start off the show for the evening and did a solid a solid job at that. The guitar and drum combo from London did a surprisingly good job at creating an immersive, full sounding musical experience all the while retaining the dynamic possibilities offered by their two-piece formation. With clear, soft yet confident vocals accompanied by the pummelling, spacious drum grooves and swelling guitar riffs ambiences bordering post-rock and shoegaze-driven influences, A Dead Forest Index made for a captivating first act.

Then came the time for Chelsea Wolfe to take to the stage and mark her long awaited return.
Being that I had yet to listen to her latest full-length effort, this night was my first time hearing her widely anticipated set of new songs and boy was I in for a surprise. Having seen Chelsea Wolfe on her previous european tour, I was certainly not expecting such a heavy and doomy set of songs. Wolfe was visibly determined to show her teeth to her metalhead demographic, put a heavy accent on her latest pitch-dark release Abyss with its twisted, distorted sounds and its nightmarish ambiences. Armed with a heavy dose of distortion and a crushing low-end, Chelsea Wolfe made one thing clear; she certainly knows how to sharpen her live sound for maximum effectiveness, as audiences were treated to a brilliantly paced set balancing out a hard-hitting opening and closing act with a mellower, more melancholic core. Chelsea Wolfe’s chilling and crystalline vocals were absolutely flawless in delivery and vivid in their emotional imagery, so much so that one would never suspect her recent fragile health (her show in Austria having been cancelled earlier that very same week). The band made for an equally great and equally important part of the exceptional set, displaying an impressive ability to perform with an exceptional sense of finesse and versatility.
While some fans seeing Chelsea Wolfe for the first time may understandably regret the absence of some of her most popular singles in her setlist (notably Feral Love, Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter, Tracks (Tall Bodies)), one can only give Chelsea the utmost praise for bring such a brilliantly craft and explicitly arranged show to life with such ease and poetry. 
Overall, Chelsea Wolfe’s set was yet of another testimony to her ever expanding creativity, outdoing herself with a set perfectly complementing her previous tour. By putting a stronger accent on the darker and heavier side of her character, Chelsea Wolfe and her band put on a magnifient soirĂ©e of somber yet moving musical lyricism.

A huge thanks goes out to Marie Xxme and to Kongfuzi Booking, without which this live report would not have been possible.

A Dead Forest Index

Chelsea Wolfe
Official Website

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Christian Mistress - The Scriptures

The Scriptures has a fascinating place in the Christian Mistress discography because it's the first record where Valor Kand really took over the artistic direction of the band and brought them into weird new sound worlds. It's interesting to pick The Scriptures apart because there are so many different layers to the artistry here - a sense of classical majesty has slowly started to infringe upon the noisy magic of earlier albums, but the overall deathrock magic of Christian Mistress shines as bold as ever.

Christian Mistress have always been able to craft a weird vibe on their albums, but Valor Kand's takeover makes this album feel wonderfully transitory - and as you delve through The Scriptures you find yourself taking shaky steps forward with the band. That is not to say the album sounds immature or incomplete, but rather that it is very human - a reflection upon where the artists where at at this critical point in their career. The Scriptures is swirling, majestic and doom laden, using sounds that are, while not sonically heavy, certainly crushing in a distinctly Christian Death sort of way - if that makes any sense.

What I'm trying to say, I think, is that The Scriptures represents the inherent drama of the human confition in a way that no metal band ever could. Instead of focusing on the traditional struggles of human life they show us a darker and deadlier path - one that is oft obscured - but incredibly rewarding when we start to take it. The Scriptures speaks to an alternate reality, one that we should perhaps get to understand better before passing any judgement. Christian Death shaped rock and roll for a reason and The Scriptures is a fundamental part of their legacy.

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