Sunday, September 20, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Hexx "No Escape" and "Under the Spell" (2015 Vinyl Re-Issues on Metal Blade)

This year, Metal Blade Records released a great treat- re-issues of Hexx's first two albums! I must admit, I wasn't too familiar with this band other than in name until the start of this year when the band came up in discussion with friends.

Anyway, Hexx is a really special and unique band in that they began as a Heavy/Power/Speed Metal band, progressed to include Thrash elements (comparable to Metal Church and Agent Steel, though to a lesser degree), then further developed into a Death Metal band. Of note, their latter line-up included Clint Bower, who's work in Abscess,The Ravenous, and Eatmyfuk I really admire. I'm so glad I discovered this band in time to catch these re-issues! For those of you cool enough to already be fans, these versions come in deluxe gatefolds and in several colors. All are VERY limited (mine are from a 200 copy run!). There's a bonus track from the demo of pre-Hexx band, Paradox on 'No Escape' and 'Under the Spell' has a live version of "Edge Of Death." The sound quality is excellent and has a distinct analog feel.

A detailed interview describing the band's history and releases can be found in the Chilean Death Metal only 'zine, 'Compilation Of Death' 3rd Issue, distributed in the USA by Hell's Headbangers.

 Hopefully, there will soon be vinyl reissues of my favorite releases by Hexx, "Quest For Sanity," "Watery Graves," and "Morbid Reality" to complete the set!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

ALBUM REVIEW: Laibach- "A Chicken In Every Pot, Laibach In Every City (2015 North American Tour Live Album)"

This is a live, digital-only album exclusively available as a gift to pledgers who supported Laibach's North American Tour 2015 via Indiegogo. It consists of tracks recorded live from the tour and is 1 hour, 52 minutes in length.

Disappointingly for me, no tracks are from the show I attended in NYC, though the set list was the same or at least very similar. Anyway, the album includes the pre-recorded voice which introduced songs and set highlights (for me): The Whistleblowers, B Mashina (yeah Iron Sky!), Bossanova, and encore tracks Tanz Mit Laibach and Leben Heisst Leben.

The tracks are all high-quality and do a great job capturing what it was like to hear this tour. Hopefully, at least some of these tracks will be made available in some form for Laibach fans who missed the tour or were unable to donate (lacking 'Kaptial' harhar).

I would also LOVE more coverage of Laibach's North Korea performance, but that's a whole other story...

Until then, I'll (digitally) covet my copy; Das spiel ist aus!

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

ALBUM REVIEW: Kommandant "The Architects of Extermination" (limited digipack version, 2015) + "Promo 2015"

The promo mentioned in the post title features three tracks, all album versions (songs 2-4), so I mention it as a cool collector's item only.

The digipack version of The Architects of Extermination comes with a HUGE poster flag and a bonus track ("Killing Word"), which is interestingly placed in the middle of the album, suggesting to me an intention to include it in the first place. If it was simply a track that didn't fit on the album or wasn't in the same style/skill level of the album, it would make sense to place it last, as sort of an afterthought, avoiding album-flow interruption. This inclusion as a middle track makes me very curious to hear the track and speculate on the decision not to include it on the standard CD/LP version; if it didn't fit, it wouldn't be placed in the middle of the album, right?

So, back to packaging. The artwork looks very much like Soviet propaganda art, a perfect choice for the band's aesthetic. The lyrics are mostly unprinted, with some portions available in the booklet. See below image for some ideas about the type of imagery that accompanies Kommandant albums.

As I wait to press play on the album, I'm still hung up on the bonus track, hoping that "Killing Word" might be about Frank Herbert's Dune... we shall see!

1."Let Our Vengeance Rise" opens the album slowly and with much atmosphere building via ambient textures. It develops into a march, presumably as our vengeance rises and organizes. About halfway through, the vocals/guitars/bass/remainder of the drum kit deploy for a slow, heavy, discordant tone-setter.

2. "The Architects Of Extermination," bearing the album title's weight, starts strongly with feedback and vocal madness, as well as a catchy mid-90's Black Metal riff... it feels sort of French (ala Deathspell Omega perhaps). Also about halfway through, there's a song change as tracks drops out and the song becomes briefly very atmospheric and effects-laden, returning to its discordant, blackened meanderings rather quickly. Now that we've been introduced properly to the Architects, we can move on to:

3. "Oedipism" really brings forth an element that was more peripheral on the opening tracks; that of decadence and degeneration. The music is similar to the preceding tracks, but more discordant and eerie, though faster and more structured. It introduces a really demented riff change at 2:31 that seems like the twisted ramblings of madness as structure breaks down. This seems like it could relate to the madness inherent in the tale of ascendancy/decline of Oedipus in traditional Greek mythology. It could also have to do with some Freudian concepts regarding Ego, narcissism, sexual drive, and all sorts of conflict. In any case, I wish the lyrics were printed, but this song is quite deranged!

4. "Acquisition Of Power" returns to almost pure discordance, reminiscent of Blut Aus Nord's "The Work Which Transforms God." The drumming is also the fastest and most intense yet. It is as though the troubling psychological destruction of the last track has led us to a vicious, neurotic bid for power. The last 1:14 minutes are really intense, with a slow militant marching beat adding maximum heaviness.

5."Killing Word" changes pace, and is the most structured song on the album, it is highly syncopated, and feels most like some Industrial-Metal hybrid. Maybe Godflesh behind enemy lines, brainwashing foes. It feels like a march mixed with degeneration, with serpentine riffs and disorienting vocals. Perhaps the auditory equivalent of riding the Old Man Of The Desert high on spice? No, I'm not just reaching, I'm shark-jumping. But this is another bizarre, decadent/degenerate track.

6. "And Nation Shall Rise Against Nation" continues in the style of "Acquisition Of Power;" discordant, eeire, comparable to B.A.N., but this time slow, huge, and lumbering in sound. Perhaps like Nations rising against each other, ha! I like the title, very prophetic, in a Revelations kind of way.

7. "Rise And Fall Of Empire" feels like a third part to "Acquisiton/And Nation..." with more discordant guitars and eerie, disorienting guitars/bass/vocals. Seemingly following the eponymous Empire's rise and fall, the song builds until the last minute or so (of 7+) with clean, demented vocals over a fade-out of the other instruments.

8. "Onward To Extinction" follows a similar structure with a quiet beginning, building from a guitar solo (as in by itself, not frenetic string plucking), to a furious mid-bit and a quiet close-out. This track, however, is far more menacing, as it should be!

Overall thoughts: this album takes further the progression of 'The Draconian Archetype' towards less frenzied, more cold, atmospheric compositions. Less Marduk, more Cold Meat label deathly Industrial vibes. The production is much more obscure and actually heavier for its pace.

I feel we can look at Kommandant's catalog as a story; the earlier material is hungrier, fiercer, more militant. It is as though a new regime gathered its forces and launched an assault on listeners, by 'The Draconian Archetype' the regime had won and was taking over, seeking to control the masses. Now, in 'Architects' the supreme totalitarian dictator brainwashes the masses and degenerates into opulence. This new album feels more cerebral versus the more visceral earlier material. It is like an auditory, hallucinatory, subliminal propaganda terror-tactic. It takes a while to absorb, but makes an indelible mark; compared to the iron-gauntlet-to-the-face of, say, 'Stormlegion.' So what about "Killing Word?" It breaks up what I propose to be a quadrilogy of tracks (Acquisition/And Nation/Rise And Fall/Onward). It only makes sense to interject it if the whole album is a concept, then a supposed ruler (who recently acquired power) could in fact rise to such heights of fear and respect that his (or her) name alone could become the impetus for killing. Thus the track would fit here in the story... maybe.

Well, enough Asperger-esque hyper-focus and strangeness on my part (perhaps I've become just as demented as I find this release). I really like the album, and find Kommandant get more and more interesting to me with every release. I'm really excited to see them at Martyrdoom IV this November to experience how these new songs fit into the set and compare to the two times I've seen them previously. Perhaps more about the concept behind the tracks will be revealed via the material's live presentation. In any case, it should be incredible and intense.

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

Saturday, September 19, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Ectovoid "Dark Abstraction" (2015)

Birmingham, Alabama's Ectovoid return from the Other-realms to deliver another slab of demented Death Metal madness!

Ectovoid continue in the varicose vein of their previous LP and demo (they also have a live cassette), with heavier, crunchier guitar production and catchier drums with tighter songwriting. The lyrics continue to obsess over disembodiment, suspension of logic, and overall altered states of consciousness. I find that their lyrics remind me of the latter portion of William Hope Hodgson's 1908 novel, "The House on the Borderland." Fans of H.P. Lovecraft should check out this author, and of course, this band! No tentacle monsters, but plenty of weirdness and experiences beyond comprehension to humanity.

Musically, the band should please fans of Asphyx for their brutality, and guitar production; as well as Autopsy die-hards for their doomier elements and time signature changes. I find the drumming to be a mix of both bands' (Ectovoid has plenty of originality, which is why I like them, but I hear influences I share, which is also why I like them). Fans of Swedish and Finnish Death Metal bands of the late 80's/early 90's should be pleased as well.

The album is cohesive stylistically and all tracks satisfy, with opener "Obscene Altars" doing its job of introducing the album well, however two tracks really stand out, for me. These are "A Prisoner of Paradox" for menacing Autopsy vibes, judicious cymbal use, and HEAVY Sabbathian riff at its mid-point, not to mention a cool guitar solo. "Precipice Of Absolute Chaos" is another favorite and opens with some very slow riffs, conjuring images of someone tentatively approaching the eponymous chasm. This breaks to some ancient Death Metal stylings with an excellent cadaveric "UGH" and more apt cymbal punctuation. The main riff is quite catchy, the song has plenty of hooks, and also has a great closing guitar solo; short, twisted, and effective.

Let me make explicit that though this band can be compared to the aforementioned bands/styles, they are not clones and have their own style. I hear distinct development from Ectovoid's earlier releases, with a deadly Thrash edge creeping in to these songs, adding intensity to the compositions. If I had to use one phrase to sum up the band (and efficiently make several poorly-executed references at once), I'd say they are always reaching for one step beyond death, questing for the ultimate reality.

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

ALBUM REVIEW: Skepticism- "Ordeal" [Vinyl/DVD Edition] (2015)

Alright, so before reviewing the album itself, I'd like to discuss this edition. The album comes in CD+DVD and black, white, or splatter vinyl+DVD.

I obviously ordered the splatter vinyl version. So why the DVD? Well it seems I did misunderstand the guitarist of Skepticism at MDF when we discussed upcoming material. I thought he said that a live album, THEN a new album were going to be released on Svart Records. Turns out, the new album IS the live album. Let that sink in.

This is an album of new material, but recorded ENTIRELY LIVE. There is no 'studio' version of the album, the official version is forever this live performance. Imagine the pressure! "Ordeal" is certainly an appropriate title. The DVD included is the live show, however music videos for "Pouring" and "The March And The Stream" were made for the live versions played after the Ordeal set.

For those to whom Skepticism is already known, the music should come as familiar in style, certainly holding its own against their catalog of releases. For those unfamiliar, prepare yourself for extremely slow, somber, keyboard/organ-heavy Metal with dismal growls and laments. Often working on a formula of 'theme' development and return, Skepticism songs are haunting hymns of annihilation. I found this album to get better and better as it wove on, becoming heavier/more dense and disparaging towards continued self-existence in emotional impact with each song. Perhaps it was just the cumulative effect of the songs' weight.

As the music is very typical of the Skepticism sound, I will focus more on emotional impact and lyrics in this review.

Now for the new songs themselves. "You" and "Momentary" are the first two tracks and flow into one another musically. They appropriately occupy side A on the vinyl version. The lyrics to "You" can be interpreted a number of ways (like most on the album), but is clearly about longing. "Momentary" similarly could be interpreted a number of ways, but seems to be about crushing despair following a brief respite of joy. Perhaps this is the joy of the longing fulfilled albeit all too briefly, leaving a more turbulent waking in its passing.

The vinyl B side and next movement of the album contain "The Departure" and "March Incomplete." So, "The Departure" lyrically presents a paradox of loss; when something departs, it also arrives. Much personal interpretation could be made, but I would like to think it's an ode to fans and friends that have stuck by the band and its members through their own trials. "March Incomplete" also flows right out of the previous track, musically and lyrically (again, this is played live so that >15 minutes of playing with no rest or mistakes!). "March Incomplete" is more of a story about unfinished writing that develops into an existential ponderance on the value of completing a goal or letting it die. Perhaps continuing the story from the first two tracks, "The Departure/March Incomplete" tell the difficulty of dealing with loss, deciding whether it's worthwhile to continue onwards. Matti's scream of "It's an ordeal!" really punctuates this.

The album's next movement answers "March Incomplete"'s question in the following track, "The Road." Lyrically the track is about unwavering dedication to a path, despite opportunity and desire to (de)cease. Matti bleakly adds that "for the journey, I will not be known." What a great anthem for those of us bearing burdens, suffering in silence! Although I enjoy and can deeply empathize with the lyrics to all the tracks, this one is my favorite. It really speaks to where I am and have recently been in my life.
That said, the appropriately-named "Closing Music" track is my favorite musically. It begins with a (funeral) march, building in dynamics, atmosphere, and heaviness to Matti's closing, spoken, remark, "There is only silence!" This brilliant closure finishes a track that is rather clearly about being borne by pallbearers in your casket to the grave site, then becoming fully interred under the earth. "The Road" and the album are indeed completed.

Presumably after a respite and much celebrating, Skepticism closes out the album with excellent live performances of previously released classics, "Pouring" and "The March And The Stream."

Hopefully this album draws you into Skepticism's world and gets you digging into their catalog for more. I feel extremely lucky to have seen them at MDF and hope to get another chance sometime soon. Until then, commiserate along with 'Ordeal.'

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

Sunday, September 13, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Iron Maiden- "Book Of Souls" [CD Hardbound Edition] (2015)

'Maiden's 16th Studio album, "Book Of Souls" arrived on my doorstep Labor Day Weekend, so what better way to spend a Monday off? As Iron Maiden are one of the few Heavy Metal bands my partner and I agree on, it was especially nice to share this one with my significant other (you'll come to love Von yet, you'll see!). I bought the CD Hardbound Edition, though I was tempted to get the 3 vinyl version! The artwork is quite good throughout, see my teaser photos.

The album, overall, is quite good, with all band members getting a chance to shine. In fact, the release feels more like a showcase for each member's unique style and personality. Of course Bruce has TWO songs about planes, including opera-ballad closer "Empire Of The Clouds." Yes, there's three of eleven songs longer than 10 minutes, but none drag; they are nuanced and interesting enough to flow well. The album has plenty of throw-back riffs; "The Great Unknown" is similar in riffage and arrangement to "Alexander The Great" on 'Somewhere In Time,' for example. It's a bit lacking in hooks but it's a good tune. Steve Harris' song, "The Red And The Black" is probably the oldest-sounding (though "When The River Runs Deep" plunders the depths of the 'Maiden catalog) and best track on the album. Lyrically, it's Iron Maiden's "Ace Of Spades." Tons of gallops and the album's first and best 'whoah' sing-along!

The first part of the album closes with the long title track, nicely book-ended with an acoustic riff. This song probably has the most balanced start-to-finish arrangement for musical feeling, with only "Empire Of The Clouds" worthy of competing. Before I move on, "If Eternity Should Fail" is a good mostly mid-pacer with some decent gallops and opportunities for Bruce to stretch his vocal chords. Also it's very strong in the song's latter portion! "Speed Of Light" is another solid track, probably my second favorite on the album, with a great video. It really sets the throwback theme in motion with Bruce's opening vocal delivery and, most importantly, the cow bell!

I suggest taking an intermission (as I did) before starting the 2nd half of the album, beginning with "Death Or Glory" an appropriately energetic song to perk you up after "The Book Of Souls." This whole portion of the album deals, lyrically, with death. This fact, coupled with my proposed 'showcase' of all band members, truly makes the album title 'The Book Of Souls' exceedingly apt. These latter songs are still strong, but not as good as the first half, to me. Of course, the album is a bit of an endurance test so I'll have to try each track individually to fairly rate its merit.

Ok, so a summary of 'Maiden's longest-ever song (18:03 minutes!), "Empire Of The Clouds" about an experimental airship crash. Why? Because 'Maiden are Nerd Metal, that's why! And I love it. So the song takes about 4 minutes to drop in the guitars, building up from Bruce's simple but catchy piano line. The song stays mid-pace throughout and re-drops the guitars for the last minute or so. I really like the track, but if I were arranging it, I'd make more use of the guitars playing the main piano line, as it is really catchy! Again, great track, not gimmicky, historically accurate and enlightening, a fitting closer for an excellent album.

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

CONCERT REVIEW: Gravehill, Ghoulgotha, Horrendous, Mutant Supremacy @The Acheron, Brooklyn NY Aug 12th, 2015

Time for another Ghoulgotha review! The band was cool enough to chat with me before the show and sign my shit, give me stickers and a set list, etc., so thanks guys!

I'll come back to them, though. First up for the night was Mutant Supremacy who had some great 'Venom'-ous Motorvibes to their late 80's/early 90's USA/Swedish-infused Death Metal... Brooklyn Style! Whatever I mean by that; anyway; they played first and were lots of fun, I'll have to make it a point to catch more of their shows!

Horrendous came up next, and have been rotting on the tongues of Death Metal fans lately. Their 2014 release "Ecdysis" didn't win me over until about 1/2 through, but I do like 2012's "The Chills." I must admit that their sound made more sense live; something clicked that didn't before for me. Horrendous have what so few bands in general have, let alone in the Death Metal realm: originality. Instantly sounding like Death Metal, but overall not quite like any other band (though you'll hear nods and influences to many classic acts, especially American, particularly early Death), what makes them special, to me, was the feeling that this was a band right on the cusp of Death Metal developing. They sound like they are pushing Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal beyond their limits into something foul and undiscovered, much as it must have been when Massacre, Death, Possessed, et al., were first exhuming their own style from the graveyards of Metal past. Check 'em out live, you'll be glad you did!

Ghoulgotha took stage next and had an awesome set, albeit shortened for time constraints. This sucked especially hard for me as Ghoulgotha was my main reason for going to the show (not to disparage the other bands!). Their new album is mind-blowing, destined to rank high on my personal 'Best of 2015' list. I'm still hoping to see live versions of 'Arteries Unblest' and 'Abnormal Paralysis' sometime guys!

Gravehill closed out the night with a powerhouse set (despite bass issues) of dirty Thrashin' Death Metal madness (with a slight touch of gritty, early Black Metal...). Gravehill, like Horrendous, I was somewhat indifferent to in recorded form (though the "Metal Of Death" Demo is great!), prior to seeing them live. Also like Horrendous, much changed in the live arena; Gravehill are so energetic and engaging live, not to mention their sound is much heavier! I definitely need to go back and give their catalog another listen... 

To end (as I began) on a personal note, I bought a copy of Mindrot's 'Endeaver' 7" single from Gravehill drummer Rhett Davis' distro at the show. While this is a great score in its own right, to purchase it from Rhett Davis, best known to me for his work with Morgion, was incredible! Realize that Morgion are amongst my all-time top Death Metal bands, ever; they hold their own with the likes of diSEMBOWELMENT for something special that hits hard and deep. This includes their early brutal stuff and the later, melodic stuff. I was exposed to their Relapse Records catalog first via the re-issue (not being old or cool enough to discover the demo or 7" first), and without further derailing this post into Morgion territory, it made a huge impact on me that hasn't lessened; perfect listening for sunrise and sunset!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

CONCERT REVIEW: Mac Sabbath, Hymen Holocaust, Goat Wizard at The Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY, Sat., Sept. 12th, 2015

This was a big day for concerts; I had to choose between Toxic Holocaust at St. Vitus, Nuclear Assault/Whiplasher/Murphy's Law at The Gramercy, and this show. I made the right decision.

I've already seen Toxic Holocaust twice (though another time would still be awesome), and Nuclear Assault are playing MDF 2016, so I'll catch them there. Besides all that, when will I ever get the chance to see Mac Sabbath again?

For readers unfamiliar, Mac Sabbath is a Black Sabbath cover band whose lyrics and stage show revolve around scathing McDonald's parodies. For example, their cover of "Iron Man" is "Frying Pan." This song, in fact, launched the group to fame as a video was made of their 1st gig (in California, by the way), which Black Sabbath themselves noticed and approved of. Since then, the video has gone viral, Mac Sabbath have written more songs, and have now completed their 'East Cheeses' Tour. Not hooked yet? The band all wear costumes and have McDonalds/Rock/Metal themed personas. Their actual identities remain anonymous, though I have strong suspicions about the singer...

On Drums, the Catburglar, AKA Peter Hot Criss Buns: 

On Bass, The Grimalice:

On Guitar, Slayer McCheese (though it should be Motor McCheese, in my opinion):

Fronted by Ronald Osbourne:

For me, there's little more enticing than Black Sabbath and clever puns, but more on Mac Sabbath later. Openers Goat Wizard played a gnarly set of effects-heavy Doom Metal, comparable to Sleep's 1st & 2nd albums with lyrics as delightfully cheesey as the band name. Their vocalist also had a costume, that of some sort of Sun-Worshiping Forest Shaman, whose mask reminded me a bit of the garb from the end of Stuart Gordon's H.P. Lovecraft-inspired movie, Dagon.

On a personal note, this band hails from Bethlehem, PA in South-Eastern Pennsylvania (or SEPA), which from a NEPA boy like me, gains instant respect as there is NOTHING out there. To have created enough of a name for themselves to open this show says oodles about the band's talent and reputation, especially coming from an area that (to my knowledge) still has essentially no scene. I wanted to nab these guys between sets to probe into the current local scene and wax nostalgic over how awesome Wegman's is a coupla too, tree times (heyna?) but alas, Goat Wizard returned to their mountain peaks (or somewhere else hide-able) before I could locate them.

Hymen Holocaust took stage next, they play a late 70's Punk/early 80's USA Hardcore style Rock that is enjoyable on its own, but with ridiculous over-the-top lyrics. They opened with a song about masturbating. I'm not sure if they played longer than their stage banter lasted, but I was in stitches the whole time! I was laughing and head-bopping along so intently that I actually forgot to take a photo! Anyway, if something like the Circle Jerks, Negative Approach, and The Mentors rolled into an efficient, gut-busting whole sounds like fun, catch these Brooklynites on some Brooklyn night.

RIGHT, so back to Mac Sabbath. After a veiled stage prep, the band opened up with their rendition of 'War Pigs' AKA 'More Ribs,' followed by 'Chicken for the Slaves (Children of the Grave),' 'N.I.B.B.L.E. (N.I.B.),' 'Sweet Beef (Sweet Leaf),' 'Lord Of The Swirl (Lord Of This World),' 'Zipping Up The Uniform (Symptom of the Universe)', 'Cherries Are Fruits (Fairies Wear Boots),' 'Frying Pan,' and ending with 'Pair A Buns (Paranoid).' They also played a version of 'Hand Of Doom' whose name I didn't catch.

'Ron Osbourne' had some great one-liners about "Fast Food Metal," really funny stuff! Hopefully Mac Sabbath continue un-sued (they have Black Sabbath's approval, but not McDonald's; parodies are able to bypass copyrights as I understand it...), maybe even release an album of the above tracks, done their way (wait, maybe that's how Burger King Diamond does it...).

Though someone in the audience hollered out for 'Electric Oven Funeral,' I'd love to hear the eponymous 'Mac Sabbath,' 'The Gizzard,' 'Fat Salad,' 'Happy Meals Of Confusion,' 'Superhot (about the Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants case re: too hot coffee),' 'Under The Bun,' 'Grilling Yourself To Live,' 'Dirty Whoppers,' and 'Never Say Fry!'

Of course, if they could enlist the vocal talents of Runnie J Dippo, songs such as 'The McMob Rules,' and 'The Sign Of The Golden Arches' could be performed.

No matter which way Mac Sabbath flips their burger, I'm lovin' it.

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

Thursday, September 10, 2015

CONCERT REVIEW: Christian Mistress, High Spirits, Savage Master, Python@St. Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, NY, Sept 9th, 2015

I didn't get any good photos this time, so use your imagination!

First up on the bill was Brooklyn, NY's Python, featuring Lino Wreker AKA Desecrator, et al., on guitar and vocals. He has this great King Diamond/Sabbat (Japan) vocal approach I really dig. Few attempt and fewer succeed at any style resembling this! I am familiar with his work in Villains and Ceremonium (circa 2000). The Ceremonium connection was a chance one I made after first hearing them at a friend's home this past weekend. Anyway, this was Python's debut record release show, and it was great!
Python is a power trio which utilizes some Venom/Sabbat (Japan)/(very early) Bathory type riffs with the focus on some heavy and traditional Doom Metal like Angel Witch, Candlemass mixed with occasional middle-eastern type riffs/scales. At least that's how they sounded to me, I arrived a bit late and missed a few songs! Desecrator's vocals remain in the style I love with the added elements of creepy whispering and prayer or mantra-like chanting delivery. Excellent stuff!

Savage Master took stage next with their brand of Heavy Metal, influenced in style and appearance by bands like (early) Death SS, The Mentors, Judas Priest, Sabbat (Japan). More fantastic Metal! They currently have a 7" EP and an LP to their name, as far as I am aware. Savage Master also played Ragnarokkr Fest this year, which I missed, but I hear they were great there as well!

High Spirits took stage next and stole the show, for me! Chris Black always puts out quality material, my favorite being his Superchrist project, AKA MotorMaiden (at least in my head). I also recently got to listen to his Aktor project, which sounds a bit like Lemmy-era Hawkwind mixed with Kraftwerk. Weird and trippy with a touch of heaviness, so you know I love it!
Anyway, back to High Spirits! They delivered an intense show, featuring "Another Night In The City" (which was well received by a NYC audience), "Full Power," "Demons At Your Door," "I Need Your Love," "I Need To Know," and "High Spirits." For those unfamiliar, High Spirits play stripped down, efficient Hard Rock/Heavy Metal that's catchy as all hell (and not the Misfits song, though maybe ALMOST as catchy). I dare you to listen and not start singing along! Those familiar with this blog will recall my review in the 'Best of 2014' post of their "You Are Here" album. I really should have described them more in depth in my review of the Defenders Of The Old Fest III post, but I was so excited...heh... for Exciter!

Christian Mistress completed the show with a high-octane set of songs. I'm not too familiar with their catalog at this time, but there were songs from at least the last 2 LP's I believe. Anyway, the band was really energetic live, with their vocalist coming into the audience at one point to stir us up! Also, the guitars were especially heavy live with the vocals a bit huskier and smokier in a way that improved the sound too.

In short, this is a great tour that is totally worth checking out for fans of old Hard/Heavy Metal!

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*