Forbidden Seasons—Promise (2018)

Cover shows a golden moth on a black background

Forbidden Seasons—Promise (2018)

Details

Debut album recorded at Heavy Tone Studios in Turin. Mixed and mastered by Studio Fredman (Architects, Blood Youth).  Released on 16 March 2018, distributed via This Is Core.

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Band

  • Mark Seasons—Vocals
  • Symon Ray—Lead guitar
  • Danny Ghale—Rhythm guitar
  • Paul J Price—Bass guitar
  • Federico Spagnoli—Drums and keyboards

Tracks

  1. Atlantis
  2. Thank you for the venom
  3. Keys and locks
  4. Gravity fall
  5. Wormhole
  6. The human
  7. Sorrow won’t end
  8. I’ve seen the end in your eyes
  9. The rejected
  10. Promise

Review

Founded in Turin, Italy in 2015, metalcore quintet Forbidden Seasons released their first EP Paramnesia in 2017 and have followed up this year with this, their debut album. Five individuals, the press release says, who came together simply to fulfil their dreams to play music. Good on them.

The band’s name, they say is about discrimination and a general lack of half measures in society today. “Everything is completely bad or good, black or white. There’s no space for grey anymore. Forbidden Seasons, it’s like forbidden feelings, forbidden thoughts, forbidden actions, forbidden goals…”

Lyrically, the album addresses topics such as anger, apathy, loneliness and misplaced trust.

Opening track “Atlantis” (track 1) opens with an atmospheric sound effect and then an electronic riff before the band kicks in with an undisputed metalcore-by-numbers riff: blast beat drums, staccato guitars, and alternating screaming and melodic vocals. “I feel myself going down” Seasons sings to himself about halfway through in a quiet interlude. As opening tracks go, it certainly sets out the intentions of the album. It also reveals the production of the album, which is a little light on mids and bass for modern tastes.

Thank you for the venom” (track 2) picks up where “Atlantis” left off. About a minute into this song I found myself wondering if this really was a different track. I quite like the chorus though, it’s melodic and catchy. But the song does sound a bit formulaic. The video (below) features Suicide Girl Riae, apparently.

Keys and locks” (track 3) was released as a single on 12 February 2018 (my late dad’s birthday). The song, vocalist Seasons explains, is dedicated to himself as a reminder to keep believing and not count on others. “I wrote this song thinking about people living their lives constantly looking for answers,” he said. “I don’t believe in fate, but I think it’s the willpower in all of us to define the path we want to take. The answer to all our existential questions is within us, this song is an incentive to stay strong and keep going on with the head held high in this drifting world.”

Top tip: don’t do as I did and listen to “Gravity fall” (track 4) alone in a dark room for the first time. The intro has a horror-like, blood curdling screech that scared the living daylights out of me. That aside, the song is decent enough. It just doesn’t add very much new to the mix. Unfortunately, by this point in the album everything is beginning to sound very samey.

Wormhole” (track 5) follows the same trajectory. The cookie monster-style vocals do drop to a lower pitch, which shakes things up a bit, as does a descending keyboard pad about two-thirds of the way through, but otherwise it’s Forbidden Seasons-by-numbers once again.

The human” (track 6)  opens with a nice atmospheric guitar arpeggio and thumping drums. It’s somewhere between Iron Maiden’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and anything from Evanescence. To be honest, I don’t think this song really needs gruff vocals—Seasons’ singing is good enough to carry this song. The variety, though, is enough to pique my interest again.

Sorrow won’t end” (track 7) opens with a brutal riff, once of the heaviest on the album. The song thumps along at the same pace as the others but seems to hold a greater sense of urgency. The chorus is quite catchy.

Forbidden Seasons, promo photo 2018

Forbidden Seasons, promo photo 2018

I’ve seen the end in your eyes” (track 8) and it sounds just the same as pretty much every other song on this album. It is well played and masterfully engineered but there’s nothing new. It follows the same template as every other decent metalcore song: crunching, bouncing riffs, vocals alternating between light and dark, dropping to a melancholic and ponderous middle-eight before seeing itself out the way it arrived.

And then “The rejected” (track 9) begins and finally offers something new: a piano and strings introduction that… quickly reverts to a well-trodden groove. Strings and electronic ‘doodles’ are sprinkled here and there throughout the song which does offer something interesting but I fear that it may be too little, too late. It is one of my favourite tracks on the album, though.

Title track “Promise” (track 10) closes the album, short as it is at 37 minutes and 35 seconds. It opens with Elliot’s ‘religion speech’ in Mr Robot (season 2, episode 3) and returns to it during quieter moments throughout the track. It’s a good song, well balanced and contemplative. It’s a shame they kept this to the end, it’s maybe one of the best songs on the album.

Conclusion

As I was listening to this album for the umpteenth time, I was reading and article in A List Apart, a blog about web development that said this:

In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon argues that smart artists don’t actually create anything new but rather collect inspiring ideas from specific role models, and produce work that is profoundly shaped by them.

If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original,” he writes, “we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.

(Source: “Order out of chaos” by Richard Rabil, Jr. in A List Apart)

I struggled to find anything inherently new in Promises by Forbidden Season but that’s perhaps missing the point. The band members got together to create music in which they combine their unique influences and create something that is new for them.

Sure, the songs mostly sound very same-y but listen closely and there are some beautiful moments in this release, the title track I found quite haunting. It certainly shows promise and I have found it to be a good album to work to without being distracted.

Review score: 65%

PREVIEW: Klogr—Keystone (2017)

Klogr—Keystone (2017)

Klogr—Keystone (2017)

About

KLOGR release their third studio album ‘Keystone’ (mixed by Grammy winning producer David Bottrill (Stone Sour, Muse, Rush, Tool and more) on Friday 6 October 2017 via Zeta Factory (distributed in the UK/Europe by PHD).

The artwork is a piece of a painting by renowned Italian artist, Andrea Saltini.

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Band

  • Gabriele “Rusty” Rustichelli—Vocals/Guitar
  • Pietro Quilichini “PQ”—Guitar/Backing Vocals
  • Roberto Galli—Bass
  • Maicol Morgotti—Drums

Tracks

  1. Sleeping through the seasons
  2. Prison of light
  3. Technocracy
  4. The echoes of sin
  5. Pride before the fall
  6. Something’s in the air
  7. Drag you back
  8. Sirens’ song
  9. Dark tides
  10. Silent witness
  11. Enigmatic smile
  12. The wall of illusion

Review

Keystone is the third album from Italian-American band Klogr (pronounced Kay-logger). A band that I’d never heard of until now, but isn’t that the joy of this project.

Musically, the band sits somewhere between alternative rock and alternative metal. The album is very nicely produced and mixed. It has a warm, full sound that suits the melodic arrangements. The guitars are heavy without sounding harsh.

When you listen to album for the first few listens, if you’re anything like me then you’ll try to reach for comparisons. The album reminds me in part of Stone Sour fused with Freak Kitchen with a little Seven7 thrown in for good measure.

The album opens with what sounds like the start of the Star Trek theme tune, but accompanied by a children’s plinky piano. (“Sleeping through the seasons”, track 1) Then the guitars introduce a chug-chug-chug-chug riff. It’s catchy and melodic.

And so the album continues. “Prison of light” (track 2) features a nice ascending riff; “Technocracy” (track 3) is a fast-paced track with a twisting-turning riff; “The echoes of sin” (track 4) has a Dream Theater vibe to it; “Pride before the fall” (track 5) sounds a bit like a slowed-down “Technocracy”.

For me, the stand-out track is “Something’s in the air” (track 6). It’s a mid-paced, chugging rock track with a beautifully heavy, slide-y riff. I could listen to it all day. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, it’s interesting and varied. Brilliant stuff!

Klogr lurking in the shadows

Klogr lurking in the shadows

“Drag you back” (track 7) is built around a fluttering riff; “Sirens’ song” (track 8) is a short track that sounds like it was recorded underwater, and leads beautifully into “Dark tides” (track 9) which has an ’80s metal ballad feel to it.

“Silent witness” (track 10) opens with a bass riff that gives way to a complex guitar riff, that changes directions. Every. Few seconds. “Enigmatic smile” probably has the most metal riff on the album but gives way to a melodic rock track.

The album plays out to “The wall of illusion” which probably encompasses everything that Klogr have thrown at us so far in this album.

And then it ends.

Quite abruptly.

Conclusion

To be honest, there is little to criticize the album for. Some of the songs do begin to sound a little bit same-y as you progress through the album, but that would only really become a problem if the songs weren’t great. And these are really good songs. There is more than a little prog influence contained in the tracks on this album, and that is also a good thing. The songs have dynamics, and a shape, that each tell a musical story.

I really like this album. I can see myself returning to it again and again.

What more could you ask for from a piece of music?

Review score: 85%

Resurrecturis—Non Voglio Morrire (2009)

Resurrecturis—Non Voglio Morrire (2009)

Resurrecturis—Non Voglio Morrire (2009)

Details

Recorded at Acme recording studio and slept upon for months by Davide Rosati (a real professionist!). Mixed and salvaged at Potemkin Studio by Paolo Ojetti and Alessandro Vagnoni (mixing assistant).

Band

  • Janos Murri—Vocals and guitar
  • Carlo Strappa—Guitar
  • Manuel Coccia—Bass
  • Alessandro Vagnoni—Drums

Tracks

  1. The origin
  2. Prologue
  3. Fuck face
  4. Corpses forever
  5. The artist
  6. Save my anger
  7. Calling our names
  8. After the show
  9. The fracture
  10. Away from the flock
  11. Where shall I go from here?
  12. Walk through fire
  13. In retrospective

Review

Straight off the bat, with “The origin” (track 1) this album has a rough and ready old school thrash feel to it. They call themselves death metal, but this definitely sounds more like thrash.

And that’s perhaps what I like most about this album: just as soon as you’ve settled on one definite genre and neatly pigeonholed them Rusurrecturis wriggles and squirms and they morph into something else. Which makes for one interesting album.

“Prologue” (track 2) is heavy song, but it’s melodic with a guitar solo played through a phaser pedal which gives it a bit of a space age feel. And beneath it is a delicate, tinkling piano. The song morphs into “Fuck face” (track 3) which is back to an in-your-face thrashing metal stab in the faccccccce.

“Corpses forever” (track 4) is a very straightforward death metal song featuring a gutteral Cookie Monster vocal. “The artist” (track 5) has a latter-days Celtic Frost feel. It is slow and brooding, it is heavy and avant-garde with melodic female vocals. Then it’s back to largely generic death metal with “Save my anger” (track 6) apart from the almost nu-metal style shouty-melodic chorus.

Track 7 introduces us to another face of Resurrecturis. “Calling our names” is a ballad, in the style of a Pantera ballad. It is fragile and melodic but heavy as.

“After the show” (track 8) initially feels like ‘proper’ death metal, in the tradition of Chuck Schuldiner and Death, but in typical Resurrecturis style they throw in a few other influences, and a melodic chorus gets barked down in a very call-and-answer way. Good stuff.

“The fracture” (track 9) is a solid metal song with mostly clean vocals, a cracking melody, and a enough kickdrums to keep most metalheads happy. “Away from the flock” (track 10) has quite an ‘acidic’ guitar intro, and it’s back to the growling vocals. This is probably the darkest-sounding song on the album.

“Where shall I go from here?” (track 11) has quite a nu-metal feel but does feature a fantastic interweaving dual-guitar duel halfway through that segues into a passionate solo.

“Walk through fire” (track 12) follows in the vein of track 9, with clean and growling vocals trading lines. This has a more traditional melodic death metal vibe to it.

“In retrospective” (track 13) opens with an ambient soundscape, like a restaurant or drinks evening. Cue acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocals. It’s not at all what I expected.

Conclusion

Never judge an album by the cover. I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about putting this album on but boy! I’m glad I did.

Review score: 70%

DVD

It was only while I was adding the CD details, having already written the review, that I remembered there was a DVD with this release.  “The Fracture (videoclip)” is a bare-chested display of testosterone-fuelled metal. “Making of” is… shows a few behind-the-scenes clips of the making of “The Fracture”; I didn’t find it particularly interesting, to be honest.

There follows a photogallery and video credits, and then the DVD finishes with 17 minutes of Resurrecturis live at Luckau, Germany from 26 May 2006. More bare chests and the drummer for some reason has an elastoplast on his forehead! The playing is good enough, the sound isn’t great, and the stagemanship is a little dull but it’s certainly nice to see the band playing live.

DVD score: 30%

 

Deliverance—The Executioner (2004)

Deliverance—The Executioner (2004)

Deliverance—The Executioner (2004)

Details

Recorded and mixed at “Bob Studio”. Produced by Daniele “Gec” Rossi. Co-produced by Deliverance. Mastered at “Angel’s Pit” Studio by Angelo Gramaccioni. Released on Killin’ Time Records, 2004.

www.deliverance.it

Band

  • Andrea Fermani—Vocals and rhythm guitar
  • Juri Ferracuti—Lead guitar
  • Massi Ricci—Bass guitar
  • Marco Bracciotti—Drums

Tracks

  1. Needle of pain
  2. The executioner
  3. Stone tears
  4. Dust rises high
  5. Deliverance
  6. We are not who we are
  7. Last cross road
  8. Tears of the universe
  9. Silence after the storm

Review

Another late review. I know, I know! But this time the, erm… firey demon on the cover of Metallica’s ‘Jump in the Fire‘ single ate my homework! (That and I had to reinstall Windows 8.1 on my PC over the weekend.)

Deliverance are, depending on who you believe, a thrash or speed metal band that hail from Italy, and are not to be confused with the German-Canadian Christian rock band of the same name who were around during the 1970s.

Immediate comparisons can be made with Su Ta Gar, a speed/thrash metal band from the Basque Country in northern Spain, as well as a handful of early thrash bands such as Overkill and especially Sacred Reich.

While Su Ta Gar sing all their lyrics in Basque, Deliverance sing in English but I find them hard to understand. I’m not sure if this is simply a style thing or whether the singer isn’t a native English speaker. But the overall effect is that the vocals add another texture to the music.

Production on the album sounds quite ‘clipped’, quite compressed. The guitars sound like they’re being played through my old Laney transistor amp, with scooped mids and not much ‘raunch’ or warmth that you get from a nicely overdriven valve (tube) amp. But again, I suspect this is a style decision rather than poor recording.

Conclusion

The songs are decent enough romps in the fashion that you would expect from a speed/thrash metal band. Nothing particularly stands out for me, to be honest. It’s a decent enough album but there’s nothing really that gets me excited or energises me. The executioner is clearly having an off day.

Certainly if you’re a fan of mid-80s thrash bands like Sacred Reich, or even Mordred or early Annihilator, then I expect you’d probably like this. It goes on my ‘to keep’ pile but more for the genre and the sum-of-its-parts than anything specific.

Review score: 70%

Opera IX—The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem (2000)

Opera IX—The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem (2000)

Opera IX—The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem (2000)

Details

Recorded and mixed at Studio Underground, Sweden in January 2000. Produced and engineered by Pelle Saether. Assisted by Magnus Soderman and Lara Linden. Mastered at Massive Arts.

www.operaix.it

Band

  • Cadaveria—Vocals
  • Ossian—Guitars
  • Vlad—Bass
  • Lunaris—Keyboards
  • Flegias—Drums

Tracks

  1. Act I: The first seal
  2. Act II: Beyond the black diamond gates
  3. Act III: Carnal delight in the vortex of evil
  4. Act IV: Congressus cum daemone
  5. Act V: The magic temple
  6. Act IV: The sixth seal
  7. Bela Lugosi’s dead (Bauhaus cover)

Review

And so to the conclusion of my introduction to Opera IX, to their (and my) third album The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem.

I took a few days off before listening to this album, having had a bit of an Opera IX overload last week. I also had my first ocular migraine, which I’m still suffering from as I write this—the headache has gone for now but the visual anomalies are still very much present. To misquote someone on Twitter this week, having a migraine is a bit like staring at the sun, with concussion, listening to black metal! Anyway…

Of the three albums I’ve listened to this is by far the most palatable. The song writing is more mature, the musicianship is more accomplished, the production is better. All in all this is the best of the three, which is a bit of a relief as I was feeling a bit down about not terribly enjoying the last two albums.

Musically the album makes me think of Paradise Lost meets Arch Enemy, with elements of Celtic Frost’s more avant garde moments: it’s gothic metal with a black heart.

Whereas with previous albums the songs seems to go on for ever quite needlessly, this time around there seems to be more of a journey, more of a purpose. It’s more interesting.

I imagine that the lyrics aren’t the cheeriest, but given that I can’t focus just now I’m not even going to attempt to read them. It’s hard enough typing this on a keyboard that seems to melt in front of my eyes. For accessibility considerations on future releases black metal bands may wish to consider not printing their lyrics in red on black in the most unreadable script typeface. Just a thought boys and girls.

Conclusion

All in all, a much, much better release than their previous two offerings. This has been quite a fun recording to listen to as I’ve pottered rather blindly around the house in a migraineous haze. Good work Opera IX, more like this please.

Review score: 90%

Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVx7Nv9RUS8]

Opera IX—1998—Sacro Culto

Opera IX—1998—Sacro Culto

Opera IX—1998—Sacro Culto

Details

Recorded at Cap. Woofer Studios in autumn 1997. Produced by Opera IX and Stefano Tappari. Mastered by Elettroformati S.R.L.

www.operaix.it

Band

  • Cadaveria—Vocals
  • Ossian—Guitars
  • Lunaris—Keyboards
  • Vlad—Bass
  • Flegias—Drums

Tracks

  1. The oak
  2. Fronds of the ancient walnut
  3. The naked and the dance
  4. Cimmeries
  5. My devotion
  6. Under the sign of the red dragon

Review

So, to Opera IX‘s second full-length album and my second exposure to them.

The production is significantly better on this compared with The Call of the Wood (1995), the jangling bag of spanners has been replaced with a proper drum kit, and the rest of the instruments sound more present (rather than recorded at the other end of the hall).

The album starts with (female) vocalist Cadaveria barking the opening lyrics “In the whirls of time…”, followed by the kind of doom-like, dirge that wouldn’t have gone amiss on an early Paradise Lost album. Which pretty much sets the tone for the album as a whole: it’s a blend of black metal meets gothic.

As its predecessor, this album contains long, long songs: 10:40, 12:25, 8:20, 12:42. 14:59, and 11:18. That’s six songs in a little over 70 minutes.

The second track, which has the most splendidly bonkers title of “Fronds of the ancient walnut”, more than certainly draws on influence from Swiss avant-garde black metal pioneers Celtic Frost.

“The naked and the dance” is part folk metal, part a full-on thrashtastic, black metal wall of sound. I quite like it. It’s different.

“Cimmeries” (whatever they are) starts with a slow doom-like riff, part Paradise Lost/part-Celtic Frost. Of course the whole song lasts over 12 minutes so it doesn’t stay like that for long. More twisting and turning black metal riffs overlaid with shouting.

“My devotion” again opens slowly, with an atmospheric keyboard sound, bells and haunting (“aahhhh”) vocals, acoustic guitar and clean bass. It too soon melds into a doom-like dirge.

Guess how the last track starts. Slow and quiet? You got it. Bass guitar this time, overlaid with a passionate guitar solo. The doom-like dirge isn’t far behind.

Conclusion

Overall this isn’t a bad album. It’s definitely a leap ahead of its predecessor. The production is better, the song writing is better, and Opera IX appears to have moved in the three years from melodic black metal more towards a fusion of black metal, gothic and doom which fits their sound well.

My main criticism, I think, is that the songs are simply too long. They often begin with an interesting music theme that might be fun to explore and adapt throughout a five or six minute track, but these songs often go on for twice that length. By the end of the song I’ve forgotten how it began, and it appears to be a million miles from there anyway.

Black metal’s not really my bag, but this album has some interesting moments.

Review score: 67%

Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpvTy7o5AN0]

Opera IX—1995—The Call of the Wood

Opera IX—1995—The Call of the Wood

Opera IX—1995—The Call of the Wood

Details

Recorded and mixed at PKM Studio, Italy in August and September 1994. “Born in the grave” taken from The Triumph of Death EP, recorded and mixed at PKM Studio in May 1993. “Rhymes about dying stones” originally featured on Demo 92, recorded and mixed in November 1993.

All songs produced by Opera IX. Engineered by Paolo Baltaro. Remastered at Massive Arts in March 2001.

Remastered edition released on Peaceville Records, 2009.

www.operaix.it

Band

  • Cadaveria—Vocals
  • Ossian—Guitars, keyboards on “Burn in the grave” and “About dying stones”
  • Vlad—Bass
  • Silent Bard—Keyboards on “The call of the wood”
  • Flegias—Drums

Tracks

  1. Alone in the dark
  2. Esteban’s promise
  3. The call of the wood
  4. Al Azif
  5. Sepulcro
  6. Born in the grave (bonus)
  7. Rhymes about dying stars (bonus)

Review

If you’re not particularly keen on black metal then this could be a long experience for you listening to this album. The first song is over 18 minutes long, tracks 3 and 5 are 11:06 and 13:39 respectively. If it turns out I don’t like Opera IX, I realised, then it’s going to be an even longer ordeal for me as I have to more albums of theirs to review after this one.

The album begins gradually with strange ambient noises—the usual cliches: animals, screams, moans and groans. The opening lyric isn’t entirely hopeful:

Eternal suffering.
Everlasting oblivion of tears falling into the dust.
I want to die.

The production isn’t great on this album. The drums sound a bit like a bag of spanners being shaken, and during the first track there is an overdubbed piano tinkling at various points that sounds a bit out of place until around 3:30 the piano takes the fore and reassures us that it was all part of the plan.

With such lengthy songs it’s inevitable that this album has quite a progressive feel; can you imagine nearly 19 minutes of verse/chorus/verse/chorus?!

The introduction to “Sepulcro” (track 5) is a welcome break from the onslaught of the previous tracks. Discordant clean arpeggios, padding keyboards and melodic bass runs leads to the inevitable stomp onto the distortion pedal, and the vocals flip between barking and singing, but it’s probably my favourite track on the album.

Conclusion

I understand that Opera IX have quite a cult following, particularly in Italy. This album just doesn’t connect with me terribly. While I wouldn’t go as far as “eternal suffering”, I think it’s safe to say that I might feel called by a different wood.

I have a further two albums to listen to Sacro Culto (1998) and The Black Opera: Symphoniae Mysteriorum in Laudem Tenebrarum (2000). I’m intrigued to find out how those compare with this debut album from Opera IX.

Review score: 55%

Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d2cXO4fmt8]