Feature Band: Finland’s Ancient Drive

2010.07.15

Ancient Drive

Ancient Drive is the first band that will be featured in a part of my reviews that will showcase bands who have lived a short life (those who have released one album usually, and there’s a ton of them).

The band was introduced to me, funny enough, through MP3.com many years ago. They play a darker brand of Gothic Metal and their lyrics are usually of the perverse type. I have yet to come across another band that mixes the two so beautifully and stains it before releasing their material to the public.

It would be hard to describe their music to the uninitiated. Catchy songs, a vocalist that you’ll either hate/like, and a good production (heavy on the bass!) that made their album an excellent listen.

They only released one album, titled “Black Orgies”. As an introduction to the band, here’s the title track to the album:

It pains me that they won’t be releasing another album. I’m happy to say though that Black Orgies still gets a few spins from me on many occasions.

Other links:

Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives – Ancient Drive.

Grey Skies Fallen tells us The Fate Of Angels

2010.07.06

Grey Skies Fallen

My introduction to this band was during the early hours of one morning, I think it was probably around 3:00am while I was listening to Last.FM play my “November’s Doom” playlist. When the song “The Purest Form” played, It was history.

Looking up on the web for more info about the band, I eventually came across their website, and surprisingly they were giving away their entire album catalog for free (as a download at the time). Unsigned and giving away their music?! I got to hand it to these guys, they wanted to reach a wide audience.

Grey Skies Fallen play a heavier form of Metal, inspired by various Doom Metal bands, and the collective unexpectedly come from New York. The more I read about the band, the more it becomes apparent that these guys love and breath Metal. Today I’m reviewing their first album “The Fate of Angels”.

The album starts of with quite possibly one of the highlights and probably a fan favourite entitled “The Purest Form”. An excellent intro and quite a solid vocal delivery. But what makes the entire album is the Grey Skies Fallen sound. When the song passes the 2:00 mark, there the band showcases their melancholy and Rick Habeeb’s vocals just soar. An excellent break before going back to that memorable riff that started the entire album off.

The album continues on with another good vocal performance in “The Great Fall”, then followed by the dramatic instrumental entitled “Spiral Dreams”. I remember first listening to the album and getting caught off guard by such a keyboard-laden piece early on in an album. Further listening to “The Fate of Angels”, it shows that the band make good use of the synths.

It’s when the song “Drawn To The Earth” played that officially made me a fan of the band. The atmospheric synths accompanied by Rick Habeeb’s strong vocals make this one of my favourites for the album.

There are a lot of other things that make “The Fate of Angels” an excellent Doom-inspired Heavy Metal record. For one, I can hear throughout the entire album that this sounds like a “first album” of sorts for the band. Some of the songs seem to be longer than it should. A perfect example of this would be in the song “Athena”. It has a nice build-up to it and it sounds like it was a song originally made from two drastically different tracks: Excellent tune and a rather contrasting chorus!

The album ends with my personal favourite, the title track “The Fate of Angels”. This is where I truly appreciated Rick Habeeb’s vocals. Powerful, unique and truly soaring. The band close their album on a sombre note that makes me want more.

More on Grey Skies Fallen
MySpace – http://myspace.com/greyskiesfallen
Official Web - http://www.greyskiesfallen.com

Primal Order: Death Metal Conformity

2010.06.27

Primal Order

A salute towards the old school. That’s what my initial impression of how Primal Order sound like. There’s a lot of things that made Death Metal back in the late 80′s and early 90′s excellent and that’s what I can hear here. It’s pure ear-candy to me. After a week of listening to their new album “Conform”, let’s see how it holds its ground.

Primal Order is comprised of Rik (ZombieJesus) doing the vocals, Maarten (Necromaartje) skillfully holding the drumkit, Maxime (Psyborg) on guitars, and last but not the least, fellow Filipino metalhead RD (Masochino) handling the other axe. The band hails from the red light district of Europe, Amsterdam. The band was introduced to me by RD. After a few emails, we got the ball rolling in making this review happen.

Starting off the record is probably the title track, “The Conqueror”. For a song that lasts just over 8 minutes, the song keeps me on my toes in its entirety. Unless we’re talking about Opeth here, it’s quite uncommon for a Death Metal band to have this effect on me. Reaching the half part of the song towards 3:35, I thought I must be listening to some Gorefest-inspired riffage there. Excellent stuff.

To me, this is where Primal Order succeeded. They hail from the Netherlands, and they fucking prove just how metal things are on their side of the world. Oh and also, I happen to be a Gorefest fan.

Primal Order

I love how they crafted the third song on their album “Doombringer”. It’s got to be one of the highlights of the entire record, if not the title track. Starting off with what seems to be a standard doom metal intro, by the time I reached listening to 3:20 I realized that Primal Order’s got me hooked by my entrails and they’re not letting go. This is Death Metal the way it should be played. Wicked song title as well.

The next track that really shines is “Lust”. Again, at the magic spot of just after 3:10. It’s a bit difficult to describe how they’ve managed to pull off a mid-album climax that doesn’t rest until the end. Here we’re treated to a good slab of Death Metal. I even found myself having to repeat the song just to experience it again (just because I feel the next song would be a few notches more exciting), but then the next song “Plagueridden” hits and it hits hard.

Like I said, pulling off a climax and carrying it all the way to the end, well done Primal Order. I’m looking for my decapitated head now.

The vocals are old school guttural growling with screeches and they’re well done. If I was nitpicking I’d say that the vocals could have been louder, but I like how it is. The entire sound gives way to the drums and the guitars. Taking it all into consideration, Primal Order barrage the listener with a wall of great death metal.

I’ve been listening to them for over a week now and I don’t think that’s going to stop. I personally feel that Primal Order’s Conform will go down in my books as one of the highlights of 2010.

More on Primal Order: MySpace

Hateure: A New Form Of Hatred

2010.06.26

Hateure

Hateure from the Philippines have recently released their new album entitled “Makabagong Anyo ng Galit” (A New Form of Hatred). According to their MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/hateure), they play “Experimental Metal”. Let’s see just how experimental these guys are with my review of their debut album.

My initial listen to their album doesn’t confirm this. They seem to be sounding more like an off-shoot of Meshuggah with themes playing around Fear Factory territory. This brings them closer to being technical and death at the same time, both of which can easily make or break the way the band sounds. It could either be very good or simply put, they have a long way to go. For me listening to them so far it’s still to early to tell, but I feel that they have the potential to make something mind-blowing.

Another thing that I noticed with the album: now I know this is all DIY and it really shows, but that’s the part where you may either like or hate how the album sounds. It took me a couple of listens to get out of the usual production atmosphere I’m used to. Settling down with the mix, the guitar is too central, and the drums could use with a bit more tweaking. The bass on the other hand is strong and I like how you can distinguish the different things it contributes to the tracks.

Hateure

I’m a big fan of album covers. That’s one of the great things about being a metalhead is that the bands we love bring out these excellent covers that pretty much set the tone for the album. I remember reading some of Dani Filth’s (Cradle of Filth) words in Kerrang where he describes a band he listened to on the radio which blew him away, only for him to check out the cover of the album and be put off by it. Say what you want, but I personally feel that the cover art says a lot about how you introduce your music to your listeners.

Hateure’s cover art for their album can be described as misleading. Here we have a blue cover with a circular thing and fonts usually used by DJ’s. But wait, maybe that’s what they’re looking for. To catch you off-guard. Pop in the CD, expecting something you can listen to, and BAM! There goes the initial riff of “Mitong Mesiyas”. Well played Hateure. Although if you need some help with future album covers, give me a holler.

Now back to the music. The album as a whole sounds as if it was laid out as a concept of sorts. We have a couple of filler tracks integrated into some of the songs that raises the quality of the experience as a whole.

Hateure

I like how they introduce the album with “Insustansya”, although you will need to listen to it with proper ear hardware to feel what it really sounds like. The second song “Mitong Mesiyas” sets the tone on what to expect throughout the album. What we have here isn’t unexplored territory. If you’ve heard of Meshuggah, divide it by five, add a dose of modern metal core and then put the “experimental” tag on there and you get the complexity of Hateure.

The album in its entirety intensifies after each song. One after another Hateure raise the bar. By the time I reached “Siklo”, I knew that I wanted to see this band live. An excellent album by my fellow Filipinos, but nothing that I haven’t heard before.

The bottom line is, for Php200, it’s money well spent.

More on Hateure: MySpace / PureVolume / Last.FM

Thanks to Ronaldo S. Vivo Jr. for providing the materials (song, photos and linkage) to make this review possible.

Ronnie James Dio: A Video Tribute

2010.06.19

It was a very sad day when I heard the news of Dio’s passing. This year brings the death toll to a handful. I can’t say that I’m the biggest Dio fan, but a lot of the bands that I listen to and swear by today have been influenced by him in one way or another.

Dio truly was, one of Metal’s great pillars. Tenacious D have jokingly asked him to pass that torch to them (on their song titled “Dio”). This would be such a torch. I’m simply at a loss for words to describe his passing.

Below is a video tribute of him by Bay Area Backstage TV. A recommended watch.

Bloodshedd’s “Spare No One”

2010.06.12

Bloodshedd's Spare No One (Original Cover "Beast Six Nine Six")

Fuck it. Bloodshedd have released a Thrash Metal album extravaganza that I’ll probably still listen to after many years when the apocalypse comes. Here we have an album that is a slab of excellent Filipino Thrash Metal.

I’ve only listened to them live, and my initial impression of the band, is the same as with a lot of other Filipino Metal bands playing the streets of Manila, their sound deserves to be on a bigger stage, with better equipment. In “Spare No One”, the drumming leaves me asking for more. The drumming keeps my attention on the music throughout the album. A drastic comparison to their live performances where the bass drum can’t be heard. A pity since their live performances are very head bangin’ entertaining.

Although it may sound that I’m talking all praise about the album, I couldn’t help but want more growls into the music. Don’t get me wrong, Jojo’s vocal performance is relentless and has easily become one of my favourites in the Filipino Metal scene, but in its entirety,  someone doing some backing guttural vocals on some of the songs would have just hit the spot for me.

Time will tell when the album grows on me enough for me to just sing along to it. One thing’s for sure, I now need to listen to their debut album and see what happens from there.

Bloodshedd on – Metal ArchivesMySpaceTower of Doom -

Anathema’s “We’re Here Because We’re Here”

2010.06.03

Anathema - We're Here Because We're Here

Anathema were one of the bands that I really got into when my musical tastes were becoming more extreme by the day. Funny enough, the first ever album I got to listen from them was their excellent Alternative 4 which is where the band really started moving forward towards playing just plain but beautiful  and memorable rock.

This year, Anathema release We’re Here Because We’re Here in which they’ve teamed up with Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree fame, yes that Steven Wilson). The record was mastered by Jon Astley (The Who, Led Zeppelin) and features string arrangements by Dave Stewart (Stewart/Gaskin, Porcupine Tree). Another highlight is that the song “Angels Walk Among Us” features backing vocals by Ville Valo (H.I.M.).

I’ve only started listening to it earlier this week but it’s already gone through several spins. It fascinates me how the band has now completely left their old Doom Metal shell. The progression towards this stage has been an enjoyable ride and the song-writing in their latest record just proves that Anathema are a band that have reached a stage where in they will always expect my support with whatever they do, save for teaming up with a rapper of course.

We’re Here Because We’re Here is an uplifting record. The first few songs will raise your spirits and will leave a positive tone in you. “Angels Walk Among Us” is actually a pretty good song, and Ville Valo backing just makes it better.

Summing it all up, Anathema have released a very emotionally uplifting soundtrack that any rock fan can listen to and appreciate. More so to true fans, as their progression to this level is just fascinating.

Check out Anathema’s official website at http://www.anathema.ws/

Alcest: Dreaming of Black Metal

2010.05.31

There are only a few bands that have had a big effect on me like Alcest has done. I first got to listen to them with their album Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde and have always since then, been a fan.

Alcest comes from France and they pretty much sing in French through all of their songs. They play this rather dreamy Shoegazing type of Black Metal. That to me equates to ear candy. I’m a big fan of shoegaze-inspired music (Chapterhouse and Slowdive being the usual culprits) so it was much of a surprise to me to be presented with such a band as Alcest.

The mastermind behind the band is Neige. He composes the music, lays down the vocals, guitars, bass, and even drums. One can even say that he pretty much IS Alcest. A few years ago I’ve read that they were always going to be a studio band, but thankfully it turned out to be false since they’ve been touring everywhere and a few videos of shows in the U.S. can be found on YouTube.

For such a young band, they have had their fare share of controversies in the media. One of the most popular was that some listeners thought that a woman was singing in their Le Secret EP. There was also Neige’s disappointment in regards to the reaction towards the Le Secret EP. After all of that, it wouldn’t be far to assume that Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde is how Alcest should’ve started.

Alcest's 2010 release Ecailles de Lune

Enough with the introductions, it would be best to listen to the band itself. Start with their Le Secret (The Secret) EP, move on to Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde (Memories of Another World), and top it off with Ecailles de Lune (Scales of the Moon).

Alcest can either take you places, or they can bore you to death. Either way, they play their brand of metal very well.

If you’re interested in Alcest, it may be worth your while to check out Neige’s other project (albeit short lived) Amesoeurs at http://www.myspace.com/amesoeurs.

More on Alcest:
Official Website – http://www.alcest-music.com/
MySpace - http://myspace.com/alcestmusic

Categories : Feature Band

Sky Church: No Introduction Necessary

2010.04.18

Sky Church

As long as I can remember, I always listened to artists outside of the more than 7,000 islands that comprised what we call the Philippines. Whether it was my forced introduction to Tears for Fears, to the early slab of Black Sabbath and Motorhead, there wasn’t anything “local” that would grab my ears and make me want to buy a record from a “local band”.

Not that I don’t appreciate music from the country, but I just hear a re-hash of what’s already done. All of that changed when I got wind of Sky Church. They’re the ones I blame for setting me straight. Filipinos can play, and when they play well, they fucking slay.

How I heard of Sky Church was by way of LA105.9, a radio station back in Manila that used to play Rock and Metal. It was my favourite radio station. The first ever song that I heard from Sky Church was “Kamao” (pronounce kah-mah-oh). Another thing that appealed to me was that these guys were brothers. Three of them, starting a band and playing some metal. People would interchangeably talk about the “Dela Cruz Brothers” as Sky Church.

“Kamao” played and it was intense. The song could have done with a better production, but it grew on me. Today, I can say that “Kamao” is a classic that stands to this day. I love how it sounds so raw, so gritty and booming, and I will always remember how it helped me move forward in Metal as a whole.

So I went on the lookout across the clueless record stores around Southern Manila and all I got was Sky Church’s second album “Unaware, Unwarned”.

I loved it. It was a good few months before it left my playlist. Although I was initially disappointed to know that “Kamao” wasn’t on the album. I mean, hearing “Kamao”, getting hooked, then buying an album only find out the song isn’t there, hell, I wondered what the first album sounded like.

I still remember where I was able to secure their first album . It was at the “Bargain Bin” at Odyssey Record Store in SM Southmall. It was selling for Php100 (a regular CD cost Php425 back then). My ears were flapping.

Upon getting home, I proceeded in blasting the speakers out of my room to the CD. I was happy. Although I could discern the big difference in song writing, the influences, and the musical direction the first album, overall I liked “Unaware, Unwarned” better. I spoke too soon. The last song played and Sky Church’s “Agony” to this day is my favourite song of theirs.

That song is full of emotion that it almost sounds like a different band. Even to this day, I kind of wish that they built up on that kind of music. Very melodic, but brutal. It could have sparked a Filipino Melodic Death Metal movement even. Still, I’m happy with “Unaware, Unwarned”. The song “Delubyo” from the record kills!

Sky Church are no more unfortunately. They have moved on, and upon the ashes of the band, rose “Intolerant”. I’ll be writing about them soon.

Everything Dies

2010.04.16
Peter Steele

Peter Steele

Peter Steele, vocalist, frontman to one of the greatest bands on earth: Type O Negative, and my favourite vocalist of all time, has died. Cause of death, heart failure apparently.

I wasn’t hoping that this would be my very first post here at PinoyMetal.org, to be honest I was hoping to post about Sky Church. But this is big news. Very big news. I haven’t been affected by a death of a person like this in a long time.

Type O Negative’s music is an experience in itself. The first ever song I heard from them was “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend”. Upon hearing the vocals, I was just sold. Then the guitars, the bass, and after the drums, the way the song was conjured up, it was just pure genius.

I was living back in Manila, and thanks to the Philippine’s poor pathetic music industry and government, it was almost impossible to find records that I liked, and you know where this is heading, Type O Negative was one of the bands which had material that was so hard to get hold of.

The most I could do was secure cassette tapes for “Bloody Kisses” and “October Rust”, with the latter going on to become my number one album of all time.

During that time, I was on my second cassette of Sepultura’s “Arise” after over-using the first one. “October Rust” proceeded to make me buy three cassettes. That’s how good it was for me.

Their songs, their sense of humour, Peter’s obsession towards women, and thheir attitude towards death and life: All helped me in dealing with probably the worse times in my life. I could certainly say, that any problems I go through now, I’ve been through worse and without these guys’ music, I most probably wouldn’t be breathing and enjoying the company of my wife and kid today.

This isn’t the last time I’ll be writing about Peter and company, quite far from it. Stay tuned in.

In his own words… “Everything dies…”

Go to Official Type O Negative Online