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Blasphemous Creation
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Battle of the Ancients
[Headxplode Records 2012]

      This is the fourth CD we've reviewed by this United States band, hailing from Reno, Nevada. The first thing I noticed is the quality of the music has improved a lot. The guitars are very catchy and proficient, mixing a great heavy metal sound into a otherwise very traditional black metal framework. Everything is top notch here. The more I listen, the more impressed I am with everything. I knew from the first CD that this band had enormous potential, and this is the fruit of that very first promise. As a theme of this release, the lyrics deal with an ancient war which some believe could have happened here on Earth. While I'm not going to go into the details, it is a very thought provoking topic. The religions and stories of Sumeria/Mesopotamia/Assyria talk a lot about this war, and there is some interesting scientific clues that baffle science-- for example, some of the deserts have been 'glassed' beneath the surface, which only high heat creates (ie nuclear explosion?). Regardless, Blasphemous Creation are a true contender, and are one of America's better black metal bands.

[Above: CD case back]

[Above: CD case tray liner]

[Above: CD]


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Exitium
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Land
[Self released 2012]

      I've reviewed quite a few strange works in my day, and this is undoubtably one of them. This release is also a great tragedy. For some horrific reason a voice modulator is used on ALL the vocals. Not just a slight change, but a major one. I have nothing against occasional use of voice modulation, but not the whole album! What a shame too, because the music itself is very good. The eight songs are full of atmosphere and done very well in the atmospheric black metal style. But the voice mod simply ruins it. I would love to hear this redone without the modification. Now that might be a contender.

[Above: CD digipack back]

[Above: CD inlay... what a strange photoshop job.]

[Above: CD]

[Above: Flyer]


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Phavian
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Meridian II
[Self released 2013]

      Hailing from the City of Angels, Los Angeles, California, is 'progressive metal' band Phavian. One might compare this band to The Gathering in recent years. It has a female vocalist and some very accomplished musicians. Lots of keyboard atmosphere and acoustic guitars round out a well-crafted album. The top notch recording and production found here is also impressive. Fans of female fronted metal would definitely appreciate this.

Phavian Website


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Burn of Black
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Danger
[Sweet Poison Records 2013]

      From Verona, Italy, this five track CD begins with a decent acoustic/keyboard instrumental. Track two reveals the band to be very 80's heavy metal sounding, albeit much faster and heavier. Musically this band are very accomplished, with a different vocalist this would be my thing, but alas, the whole 80's vocals bore me. Quality music, just not my thing...

Band Website


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Aemaet
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Human Quasar
[Red Cat Records 2013]

      Aemaet hails from Italy and bring with them a fairly mainstream heavy metal sound. The word 'Aemaet' apparently means 'truth' in Hebrew... While the band introduces a pretty wide variety of sounds and are proficient in what they do, the sound is too mainstream for me.

Band Website


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Bitter Peace
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Opus II
[Moribund Records 2013]

      Here is a band which is one of my personal favorites. There are so many things I like about this release, it's hard to begin. First, they are from the United States, and although you could classify them as black metal, they are unique unlike other black metal bands of today. The music is superbly filled with feeling. With that special ferocity that so few bands can capture. The guitar work is also amongst the most interesting I've ever enjoyed in this genre. The vocalist is extremely vicious and diverse as well. Track two 'I Spite' is a dark monument of black metal. I can't describe to you how great this track is. From blazing fast and brutal to a slow, mesmerizing grind, where the vocalist chants very effectively with the rhythm. Extremely fucking cool stuff. Listening to it now I have to say it is one of the best black metal tracks I've heard in years. I don't say that lightly. The effects and mixing are also done very well, filling the tracks with a tapestry of rich sound. Track three is also a personal favorite, called 'Great Harlot of Abominations.' An excellent release that no one will top in 2013!

www.facebook.com/bitterpeaceusbm


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Ken Elkinson
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Ambient Holidays Volume 3 - Halloween Ambient
[August Son Productions 2013]

      Hailing from Venice California is Ken Elkinson and his ambient project. This type of music is the hardest to review because you have to be in the right mood. Ambient music is often best not listened to directly, but instead setting a mood in the background. The music here is very minimalistic and would make good soundtrack pieces. Track two, entitled 'Fear' was my favorite, it reminded me of whale songs, which I think are amongst the coolest voices spoken on Earth!

www.kenelkinson.com


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Haiduk
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Spellbook
[Haiduk Music Inc. 2012]

      From Canada, Haiduk is a band that is impressive from start to finish. With a fast and polished metal sound, the guitar work is very good, melodic and old-school sounding, with death metal style vocals. The music here is melodic and complex, mesmerizing and very cool. I would have liked there to be more vocals though, they seem too thinly spread out at times. Nonetheless, a great release.

www.haiduk.ca

[Above: CD back]

[Above: CD inner]

[Above: CD]


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Mortal Wish
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Nas Nevoas Da Floresta Serpential
[Self-release 2013]

      Mortal Wish is a band you should be familiar with, but probably aren't, due mostly to limited distribution from Brazil. Nonetheless, if you can hunt down any of their many releases, you will be pleased. This is black metal how it was supposed to be. Behind this great band is the sole member, Lord Occult. This EP has four tracks, two from 2005 and two from 2011. I've been blessed with various other Mortal Wish releases through the years and I have to say the tracks on here from 2011 are the best ever. Fast and relentless, vicious and hungry, not at all chaotic, but very melodic and dark. The last track 'Nas Nevoas Da Floresta Serpential' is fucking superb. The feeling and emotion captured here is remarkable. What a shame that most of you will never hear this band. Lastly, the packaging of this CD is very unique. By its size it looks like a seven inch record (it's a little bigger actually), but it opens up to house a CD which oddly slips into a pouch on the side. Very strange, but I like it, despite the fact I'll have to store it with my 7" records!

[Above: Slipcase back]

[Above: Inside view]

[Above: CD]

[Above: Flyer]


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