Sunday, January 13, 2008

Stone Wings - Bird of Stone Wings

Stone Wings play a style of death/doom metal that, at a glance, may look like My Dying Bride-esque romantic death doom, with their romantic, eloquent lyrics and heavy use of keyboard instruments, though this isn't the case. The music present on Bird of Stone Wings has that Winter-style misanthropic edge to it and just enough romanticism to balance it out.

A lot of the aggression in the music is delivered through the vocals; no matter what the pace or mood of the music is throughout the album, the growled vocals have a harsh, bark-like aggressive quality to them that conveys the lyrics in a misanthropic death/doom style. The riffs are made up of a lot of heavy, crunching straight chords, semi-tremolo picked strumming and chugs forming the rhythm with little flurries of double bass and and simple four step snare-and-bass patterns that form the raw yet melodic style of death/doom Stone Wings excel at creating. The melody of the music on Bird of Stone Wings is aided, if not created, by melodic clean guitars lilting over and sometimes augmenting the crunchier, more complex guitar work, as well as pleasingly subtle backing synths, keyboard choirs and murky keyboard tinkling that reminds me of the beautiful bushland of the band's home, the Blue Mountains. The band also manages to incorporate faster, drum driven breaks and neo-traditional metal solos into some of their songs, giving the music a slighlty traditional vibe which sounds great in the death/doom context.

The mood and atmosphere of the music couldn't be described as depressing or sad, apart from the epic, funeral doom title track. There are a fair few mellower, melancholic parts consisting of clean guitars and melodic keyboard instruments throughout the album, but mostly the musical atmosphere is one of hateful aggression, demostrated by the relentless opening of 'Ulcer Man' or dreamy romaticism and fantasy centered around tales of dream and longing, such as the ethereal mellowness of 'By Hell or Highwater' and sometimes even a well-done combination of both, like the agressive synth-choir driven passages of 'The Last Hand'.

Bird of Stone Wings is a quality piece of death/doom metal played by a great Aussie metal band well worth listening to. Whether you like melodic doom metal, aggresive, misanthropic death/doom an atmospheric, romanticized aural journey, or modern doom metal with traditional elements, doom fans will find something to enjoy here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Seraphim Slaughter - Scum Terror

On Scum Terror, Seraphim Slaughter play a well pulled off combination of raw black and thrash metal with a punk attitude that genuinely sounds as if it's from the late 80's/early 90's era of black/thrash metal; lyrics about sex, alcohol, violence and Satan, fuzzy guitars, tape hiss and raw, trashy-sounding, cymbal-smashing drumming. Just looking at the song titles and album artwork give an accurate picture of the music within: raw, dirty, old-school anarchist punk influenced music.

The sonic delivery of the music is a lot like early Darkthrone: lo-fi drums buried under trebly buzz-saw guitars. The music itself sounds like a tighter collection of the early Brazilian black/thrash acts, as well as a thrashier, more violent modern Darkthrone. The music itself is pretty simple; apart from the slower, atmospheric intro to the title track, guitar work is primarily made up of buzzing tremolo riffs and straight thrash metal power chords played at fast and occasionally mid paced speeds, backed by almost incessant cymbal bashing and blast beats. Vocals are screamed as viciously as possible, sounding like Transilvanian Hunger-era Nocturno Culto, but with more punky aggression. For the most part, the music is extremely dirty blackened thrash metal, though there are occasionally slower, more atmospheric and melodic moments, like guitar noodling scattered throughout 'I'm the Unholy Motherfucking Master' and the intro to the title track.

I can't emphasize enough how much the lyrics mirror the music; throat desecrating screams of 'Die you fucking scum' and 'Cervix ripping sex' and lyrics dealing with AIDS reflect the lo-fi, filthy repetitiveness of the music on Scum Terror. Serpahim Slaughter are great at what they do, which is play raw, thrashy black metal that would fit perfectly into the late 80's; if they were to go back in time and form in 1985 in some proto-black/thrash metal scene or other, they wouldn't seem out of place in the least.

Don't buy Scum Terror with the expectation of really technical or unique inventiveness. If you're wondering what happened to the raw, violent blackened thrash metal from the 1980's, stop wondering and check out Scum Terror.