Star Wars and Metal. Seriously, what’s not to like? I could leave the review there and feel that I have described this album sufficiently. It’s metal with Star-Wars-y bits. It is, therefore, awesome.
Like many of my new discoveries at the moment, I found out about Hoth through Bandcamp. I downloaded their EP, “The HOTH EP”, some time ago and enjoyed it a huge amount. The force was strong in this one. So, when “Infinite Darkness” was released, I leapt over to Bandcamp and downloaded the little beastie. The songs from the EP feature heavily on the album, but we’re also treated to five new tracks as well.
The music on “Infinite Darkness” is fairly straight forward Death Metal. It’s not massively technical and Hoth are never going to win any prizes for pushing the envelope. Musically, you could say this has all been done before, by a million bands on a gazillion different albums. So, why should you care about Hoth? “Torn Asunder by a Wampa” is why you should care. In fact, I could have listed any of the album’s songs here (but “Torn Asunder…” is my favourite). The reason why anyone should take notice of this band is because they do not take themselves seriously. This is fun! It’s a cheeky grin in the darkness… and I do like a cheeky grin.
It’ll be interesting to see how far Hoth can go with this theme. Can we expect an album for each of the films? Will they decide to ignore the newer prequels? Does Han shoot first?
Hmmm… like it, I do.
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Neftaraka’s geographical location make cause a raised eyebrow or two; afterall, Malaysia probably isn’t too well known for its extreme metal exports, but the band really do sound like they hail from a frost-bitten Scandinavian country.
Since reading their biography I’ve learnt that the band have already released one full album, a selection of splits and a couple of EPs prior to “Morts”. Sadly, I haven’t had the good fortune to listen to these releases, but I have the feeling that I will soon be tracking them down.
The album opens with “Rituale”; an eerie piece that gets your hair standing on end. The terrified shouts of a male voice shouting “Who are you?” (and some other stuff) make you feel like you’re in the middle of a horror movie, a particularly horrifying nightmare or a real-life torture chamber (especially when you hear what appears to be an electric drill… followed by screams…). As an introductory piece, “Rituale” really does a good job of setting the mood.
The album really kicks in during the second track, “Sufferance”. Neftaraka have cited Darkthrone as an influence and, while this is evidently the case, they’ve also managed to bend and shape the Black Metal sound into something that is more definitely their own. The track – like all of the album – is dark, evil and hypnotic.
Throughout the album we are shown that Neftaraka are not afraid to experiment with different tempo changes (sometimes doing it a couple of times per song) and this really helps to keep the album interesting and exciting. A fantastic example is “Morbid”; a creepy and unnerving piece, with animalistic vocals (particularly the ‘howls’) that get under your skin and take hold of you. This may sound unpleasant, but – trust me – it’s awesome. This album really showcases Neftaraka’s talent for creating atmosphere. They are not content with getting into the listener’s face the entire time; they also want to creep you out!
Listening to Neftaraka is the audio equivelent of watching a black and white film showcasing a Satanic ritual. Its gritty, dark and atmospheric. The band haven’t spent a lot of focus on the production of this little beastie as it’s not overly polished, and I’m thankful for this. It’s almost like this album just hauled its undead, filth-encrusted body out of the earth and attacked the nearest passerby.
“Mort” is due to be released later this month (in fact I believe it’s due on the 21st January).
I believe this is Illnath’s third album, but it is serving as my introduction into their world. The band have been described by a number of people online as a ‘melodic black metal’ band and, while this is an accurate decription, I feel I should add that the focus is more on the ‘melodic’ than the ‘black’. Perhaps ‘melodic dark metal’ would have been a better label… not that it really matters.
To put it bluntly, this album is catchy as hell. I’d imagine that people who do not often (or ever) listen to anything related to Black Metal will find something in this album to draw them in. From the very first moment, the band are on top form. If first impressions count for everything (which, for many people – including me at times – they do), then Illnath have made sure that you’ll remember them. While this album is not breathtakingly original, it does have a certain flair that sets it apart.
Vocalist Mona Beck really proves her worth – her vocals covering a range of pitches and styles throughout the album. The lead guitar work really adds to that addictive feel and leaves you wanting more.
As with most albums, some tracks stand out more than others – but, on the whole, the good outweighs the mediocre and we’re left with a performance that’s pretty much stellar. “Scarecrow” in particular stands out and makes me want to hit that ‘repeat’ button.
“Third Act…” is the kind of album that will have Illnath winning over a lot of fans. I’m not familiar with their previous work, but if it’s anything near as good as this, I’m buying it.
It surprises me that there are not more Irish Celtic Metal bands. It also surprises me that I had to order to Celtic torc from the States… The world is a strange, strange place.
As you may have guessed from both the album cover and my introduction, Celtachor are a Celtic Metal band from Ireland. Their blend of Black Metal and traditional celtic instruments and melodies may not be anything new, but it does carry a sense of authenticity that’s lacking in many releases.
The album runs pretty much as you’d expect it to – there are no hidden surprises, but the music is good and that’s the main thing. The Folk Metal on offer here doesn’t feel like a gimmick; it feels honest. It feels natural for this Black Metal to co-exist with Irish whistles, etc. Also, this record takes on a more serious tone than a lot of Folk Metal. I don’t have the urge to get drunk and dance around when listening to Celtachor – instead I have the urge to get drunk and go to war. I’ll dance later… on the graves of my enemies…
While a lot of focus is on the folkish element, I’ve found that the riffs and rhythm are the main driving force. “In the Halls of Nuada” and “A Warning to Balor” are prime examples of this – we’re carried along by all manner of heaviness! On closer inspection it would appear that Celtachor are more about the Metal than the Folk, making them heavier than many of their counterparts.
I’ll admit that this album isn’t going to be added to my pile of favourites any time soon; Celtachor still have a lot of work to do. But, they are on the right track. This isn’t perfection, but it does hint that perfection could just be an album or two away. My advice to the band would be to keep at it… and get a better production job next time. This music could really do with a richer and fuller sound – it would really help the listener to pay attention and appreciate all of the aspects of each track. Repeated listens, however, do help with this.
In spite of the minor negativity regarding the production, this is still worth checking out if you’re in the mood for some Celtic Metal. Check out the BandCamp widget below for some freebies!
Are you in the mood for some Thrash? How about some FREE Thrash? Then look no further than Another Hell. This bunch of Thrash-tastic (yes, I did just say that) Swedes are offering EP as a free download – all you’ve gotta do is send them an an email and they’ll send the download link your way. Click here for mre info. Marvellous!
If you’re still unsure about whether you want to take a risk on the EP (although I have no idea why you’re being indecisive – it’s FREE dammit!) then I thought I’d throw in my two cents (or pence… since I’m a Brit) on it.
“Drowning in Dirt” is a collection of 5 songs that won’t change the world, but they will make you bang your head. When listening to this EP you know that you’re not treading on new ground – Another Hell aren’t taking you to a place that no metal fan has gone before – but they are taking you to a place that a lot of metal fans like to go. A place where riffs are able to run free, a place where you can headbang until you give yourself a hefty case of whiplash and a place where you can sink a few beers. This is like Metal Utopia.
Another Hell cite their influences as Metallica and Fear Factory and, while those influences are apparent here, I also get the odd taste of Pantera and something altogether heavier (a nice little Death Metal flavour floats through the mix throughout). These guys pay homage to their roots, but they also make a point of making the genre their own.
“Redemption” kicks things off in a superbly heavy fashion, but – for me – “Last Choking Breath” is when things really get going. The driving rhythm behind this track makes it ridiculously addictive. This is currently my favourite track here.
“Face The Consequence” feels like it was made to be played live. As soon as the track starts I can easily imagine myself at a festival, banging my head with 1,000 other metalheads while Another Hell blast through this track. “Watch It All Burn” didn’t captivate me immediately, but I did find myself liking more and more with repeated listens. The EP closes with “Navigate To Nowhere” – a track that almost takes the crown from “Last Choking Breath” as my favourite track here. Almost. It’s a beast of a track that screams for your attention.
Give it a go! What have you got to lose?