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Branson, Missouri? No pally, this is BRONSON, Melbourne!

Tonight, I review the new Bronson album, Death Wish IX Blood Brothers. Apologies in advance, but this review may (and probably will) be filled with non-stop, and very petty, references and odes to The Simpsons’ jokes about Charles Bronson. Deal with it.

I’ve had Bronson’s Facebook page in my likes for nearly three years now, and for some reason I’m only just starting to listen to them now. Dunno why, but better late than never, I guess…

I started with their recently released single Weapons Of Mass Destruction which I downloaded for the tedious train ride to uni one day. After hearing it, essentially, I flipped over it - I literally had to fight the urge to sing along on a carriage full of regular jackoffs, who would have given me some pretty odd looks. As much as I’d love to give the band my own brand of personalized publicity, my singing voice sounds like a dying cow.

Sigh… Why, oh why did I not discover this band until now? I feel like I’ve wasted my life. I wish I was dead… ayee…

Sure, like every album I listen to I find tracks I love, tracks I like, and others I don’t like so much. Blood Brothers is one of those albums, but I personally have no complaints about it, in fact I don’t even classify it as one of “those” albums, or bands, as Bronson brings an extra few layers of uniqueness and individuality to the table with their interestingly classified “stoner groove metal” genre.

I love how just about every song on the album is transformed into a sing-along anthem by the use of the clean backing vocals in the chorus of each track. The best examples being the aforementioned Weapons Of Mass Destruction, The Dispossessed, and Fallout. I also love how Bronson keep stating that “we are brothers”. I’m touched.

The instrumental “bracket” tracks, i.e. the multilingual first and last tracks I’m not entirely sure how I would pronounce in a face-to-face conversation… Vivez Sur Vos Pieds… and …Ou Mourez Sur Vos Genoux (gesundheit!), are not entirely superfluous either, serving their respective purposes of building and closing the suspense on the album.

Trust me, fans of any metal genre will love this band. After hearing Blood Brothers you’ll be full of enough energy and vigor to take on an entire army of moshers in the pit of any Bronson gig. And if you’re an absolute psycho, the first thing you’ll want to do after listening to the album is taking a trip down to Emmett’s Fix-It.

Bronson’s Blood Brothers gets 8.7/10 Bronson gigs I need to attend. Dis ain’t ova…

Fill your belly, with Diprosus! …and stirfry.

Diprosus are good. FUCKING. GOOD. This is what I was told at my first visit to one of their gigs by more than one unbiased source, and I had no doubts having heard two demos and two mastered tracks off the EP, the curiously entitled Saved Or Enslaved.

For those new to Diprosus, think of them as the close, more death metal-influenced cousin of fellow Melbourne act Naberus. One of their members was even a member of Naberus for quite some time, if that brings any more validity to my comparison, which I think it does.

Okay. Just to touch base, the first thing I’d like to comment on… The CD artwork. Very interesting. It looks like the Nile River, filled entirely with (clothed) asses, most of them being groped by disembodied or severed hands. Wow… I really have become just a bit of an ass man… Anyway, the river flows from a pyramid into the inside of the CD, leading to what looks like a modern city. I’m thinking it’s supposed to illustrate one of the tracks, Rivers Of Skin.

Saved Or Enslaved begins with the aforementioned and rather suspenseful Rivers Of Skin, and as the lyrics suggest, the rivers do indeed rise higher. The rivers, of course, being a metaphor for the music on this EP. After this fitting introductory track we descend headfirst down the river into the anthemic Children Of War, which has changed a fair bit from the demo. They seem to have abandoned all pretense of a clean introduction (which is not unlike Machine Head’s Aesthetics Of Hate), and trimmed the fat, so to speak. I also noticed the changed lyrics in the first bridge, which, to be honest, I preferred the first time around.

The track Stirfried (Mmm… Stirfry…) is perhaps the most interesting on the EP, if I were to describe it myself I would use yet another metaphor: The song is exactly like the process of cooking stirfry. I love stirfry, it’s one of my favorite dishes (I cook it amazingly, by the way). The first step requires me to cook the meat, which is my favorite part. Watching it change color (and listening to the first part of the song) gets me especially excited - it’s working, I’m getting somewhere! Then come the vegetables (or the bass solo), which is the slowest and most tedious process which I just want to get over with as quickly as possible. In other words, Stirfried is perhaps the most brutal song on the EP. Dat intro… ♥ …but as soon as the song slows down, it gets boring. To reiterate, still by far one of the best tracks…

…but I’d be lying if I said anything but Weathermaker was my favorite. I love the lyrics, the flow of each word between each riff, the actual words chosen for the masterpiece, all of it. There’s also sufficient evidence to say this song in particular was heavily influenced by Gojira, particularly that section before the last few riffs… So close to Gojira it’s borderline scary… Chris Themelco… WHAT DID YOU DO?!?!

Ahem. What else? …The last track, Slow Poison Death, is indeed slow. Excellent way to close the EP, but not my favorite part of it.

There really isn’t a lot more I can add besides these closing words: I would highly, HIGHLY recommend everyone to grace their ears to this record and band. I’m very much looking forward to being right at the front of the stage for many of their gigs to come. Seriously, I’m stoked.

Diprosus’ Saved Or Enslaved EP gets 9.2/10 empty ashtrays.

I hereby dub thee, power metal.

A power metal band with songs based around knighthood? I must be talking about Hammerfall, right? Wrong. In the case of Melbourne four-man infantry Knightmare, however, the hammer does in fact fall - right on the nail’s head!

As mentioned in my previous review, Knightmare I recognize as the good twin to the evil Septerrus, due to the common 6-string axemen Luke and James. The latter asked me to review his other band’s new album In Death’s Shadow which was released in December. And I’m glad he did, here’s why:

I’m not the biggest fan of power metal. I don’t dislike it, but I’m probably the last person who would wait outside JB Hi-Fi on the eve of a new Manowar release. There’s probably a maximum of three songs per band I even like, or at least take the time to learn. Knowing Knightmare is of this genre, listening to them enough to write about wasn’t going to be easy, but I like a challenge.

Naturally I had to listen through the songs a few times in order to find the words to describe them, as well as to find the track/s I like the most. One thing I’ve found which makes it so difficult for me to get into power metal is that more often than not the songs exceed 8 or 9 minutes and use what is essentially the same writing formula in them all. (A classic example being Dragonforce. Though I like the band, just about every song dedicates at least 2 or 3 minutes to Herman and Sam’s solo dueling. I’m surprised they don’t joust with their guitars onstage.)

Knightmare, however, after giving them a few listens, seem to have a more diverse song structure, so I don’t feel like I’m listening to the same song over and over again. They also have two songs less than 7 minutes long to keep me happy. One of them, Cazador De Hombres, being the first track, actually opens the album with a misleading riff to make you question what the genre is (just in case you’re a dummy who didn’t look at the album cover first). Which is a very interesting technique, to say the least.

To be honest, I didn’t listen to every track in full, as my patience is not everlasting and I’d heard enough to decide I really like it. Besides, I have many metal-filled years ahead of me to hear the rest.

Other highlights of the album are Granted Death, and my personal favorite Apocalypse. With the smooth flow of clean, operatic vocals (which my parents might actually like, or at least not hate) throughout In Death’s Shadow, in Apocalypse I can hear a few growls. Are they Loki's? Doubt it, but it would be amazing if it was.

At this point I’m unsure whether I prefer James and Luke in their battle armour as the honorific Knightmare, or in their orange coveralls and straitjackets in the maniacal Septerrus. (Probably the latter, as it’s more my “thing”.)

Knightmare’s In Death’s Shadow gets 8.1/10 falling hammers. Mind your head.

Tacit: Far from flaccid.

A wise man once said, “Not everyone likes metal. Fuck them!” And fuck them indeed. Fuck them indeed. Ladies, genitals, Your Holiness (oh wait… he retired…), and the rest of you Metal Nazis, allow me to introduce to you - Septerrus

Just to clarify, I only used the word “flaccid” in the title because it rhymes with the album title Tacit. That, and flaccid is a funny word I don’t get to use often, as I’m pretty well-endowed. Ahem… ANYWAY…

Septerrus, I must confess, are a band whose sound I’m rather new to. It wasn’t until their album launch that I actually saw them live for the first time, when it was supposed to be their opening set for my favorite band Hypocrisy (but that gig got cancelled. Thanks for nothing, Oceanic Sharks). I also originally confused Septerrus with Knightmare because of their common guitarist James, who is a man I already know with multiple talents and an awesome beard.

Speaking of beards, that reminds me… A huge shout out to two guys in particular, Loki and Ratman, for being extensively supportive of Septerrus and their associates, and also for bringing the band to my attention.

With the subject of Septerrus being new to me addressed, my ability to describe this album to you in great detail is hindered by my inexperience, hence, this is possibly the most difficult review I’ve written to date. However, if I were to compare the band’s music to anything/ anyone, it would be Lamb Of God. The vocals seem to pay homage to them in particular, though the vocal range in Septerrus is far more diverse, which is illustrated clearly in the track Sólstafir. That track caught my interest the most due to the vocals, I was also quite intrigued by the riff after the chorus. The one that sounds like they thought “Eh, fuck it” and skipped a few notes. That was either created out of sheer laziness or sheer genius, as it’s a pretty clever technique I’ve never heard before. But my favorite track as far as “riffage” goes would have to be Undefeatable, and the opening track Get To The Chopper Border, which acts as the best introduction to this particularly unique style of metal.

Possibly my favorite thing about Septerrus though which separates them from the rest of the Melbourne metal scene (apart from Hours In Exile, maybe) is their sense of humor behind the scenes. I always get a laugh out of their Facebook statuses and posts, and also a fair bit of inspiration.

Septerrus’ Tacit gets 8.5/10 thumbs up.

Dead audio.

When I first encountered Death Audio, it was when they supported Soilwork for their Australian tour in 2010. They didn’t dazzle me then, and they don’t dazzle me now. However, where I once said the band was so boring I would never take five minutes out of my busy schedule *cough* to listen to one track, my mind is now open enough to listen to their recently released, self-titled debut album in its entirety. Don’t ask me how I got it.

Fortunately, for the sake of saving some personal disappointment, I hadn’t expected too much from Death Audio when I saw they were on the supporting lineup for Soilwork. First impressions are everything, and the band’s name itself first struck me as completely bland and unimaginative, it wouldn’t surprise me if they unanimously decided on that name within five minutes of their inception. I think I can safely say the same about the music. When I first saw them live in the unairconditioned Hi-Fi Bar, I felt as though I was waiting forty minutes for a bus in the scorching Australian summer heat. That’s more than enough to test anyone’s patience. I neither liked Death Audio or disliked them, instead I was left asking myself, how exactly do I describe this when it left no impression whatsoever?

Okay, to be fair, Death Audio’s music is very far from unique and innovative, but it isn’t bad. The guys can clearly play their instruments and I particularly admire Wil Borland’s talent. He’s a pretty nice bloke, too. That however did not prevent my interest from leading astray, and I Place The Blame on one factor: the vocals. There’s a frustrating imbalance between the clean and harsh vocals that I find particularly uncommon with the genre they play (metalcore, I think). The leading, dominating, overwhelming screaming vocals sound so generic of that genre that they just ruin everything as soon as he opens his mouth. The clean vocals spawned from the secondary guitarist are very good, but in need of polishing. They also, like the harsh vocals, sound extremely overdone on the track/s they dominate.

As mentioned, the music behind the vocals is very rhythmic and catchy. Fallen Souls, their first single, is an example of where all the vocals and music fit together very well, but I have to say my personal favorite track is Obstructions. I love the music in that track the most, especially the violin in the outro. I’m quite happy with the intermittent use of blast beats as well, particularly in Shadows, a technique pushing them slightly more towards the melodic death metal genre. That makes me far less skeptical about how they fit on Soilwork’s opening bill. Death Audio received a very high honor there, in addition to opening for such popular international bands as Hellyeah, Static-X, Unearth, and The Black Dahlia Murder. I could easily see them going very far with such an impressive resumé.

To reiterate: Hardly a masterpiece, but far from avoid-like-the-plague material.

Death Audio’s self-titled gets 5.4/10 not my cups of tea.

Chaos reborn… to hate.

If there’s one thing I love more than making a person (or group of people) feel good about themselves and what they do, it’s knowing that my praise is genuinely appreciated by that party. Unfortunately for me, and many others who take my kindness for granted and will never receive any positive comments from me again, that mutual appreciation and respect is a very rare feeling. But not in the case of Internal Nightmare, who have included my name and face within their Hall Of Fame. I’m serious. Look in the booklet for the new album, Chaos Reborn.

Speaking of which, here I go again with my aforementioned ego-petting…

All for the measly price of $20 (plus an extra $8 for postage… $28 well spent), Chaos Reborn came with a whole world of surprises: In the booklet I found a photo of me onstage which I never knew existed, and within the special thanks section I found the vocalist/ bassist Paul “Doomsday” Hammond, also a good mate of mine, officially dubbed me War Machine Gietman. I like that. It goes well with my profound shyness. You know… Shyness..? Silence..? War Of Silence..? War Machine..? …Get it?

Once again, I digress. What surprised me most was the music. Whether it’s better than the previous War Of Silence EP or not, I cannot say. It’s… different. Very different. Especially the re-recordings from the three tracks off said EP: Where they once sounded brutal to the point of finding no existing metal subgenre to fit the criteria of and instead being placed under the self-proclaimed and accurately titled “Chaotic Death Thrash Metal”, the tracks came out much cleaner on the album. I don’t mean much better quality clean, I mean watered-down clean. I feel as though there was something missing from War Of Silence and Profuse Bleeding in particular, the most obvious detail I can pigeonhole is the absence of the rhythm guitar in the opening of the former, instead now being composed entirely with the lead guitar. However the rhythm does pick up where it should, and it sounds much better than the original in that sense.

There were also several occasions where I got confused as to whose voice I was hearing. I can pick up most of Paul’s vocals easily, but Christian’s seems to change a fair bit (assuming it is Christian).

Speaking of the vocals, they were one of the only portions of the album I have absolutely no complaints about. Aside from the above… but the sound of them in general are amazing, perhaps the most unique I’ve heard out of any bands in Melbourne. I also greatly appreciate the use of guest vocalists Storma (Whoretopsy) and Youngy (King Parrot). Storma adds that extra layer of brutal death metal to Infection Abound with that disgusting voice of his, and Youngy ups the ante on Vagaries Of Perception with his vocals that resemble… erm… a big, angry parrot (I really can’t comment much on King Parrot’s sound as I haven’t listened to them much). And I know I’ve said it time and time again, but Paul’s vocals sound so much like Max Cavalera’s. That’s awesome.

I’m very impressed with the re-recording and finally mastered Born To Hate, one track I’d been anticipating for some time. I also love the album artwork shown to represent that particular song. However, I am disappointed with the absence of Life’s Work (the album would have gotten a perfect 10 with that extra 7 seconds) and a re-recording of Closed Loop Of Creation.

Shifting focus slightly, I have yet to buy any Internal Nightmare merch, but that will change when they print the aforementioned Born to Hate artwork (the one with the undead baby), as it’s by far my favorite of theirs to date. I’m looking forward to getting that t-shirt for my mum for Mother’s Day, too.

An extra kudos to my good friend Lex Sara for her impeccable photography.

Internal Nightmare’s Chaos Reborn gets 7.9/10 undead babies.

Doom metal! Doooom! DOOOOOOOOO-

Doom metal lulls me to sleep. It’s the kind of music I would much sooner slow dance with a female partner at a dark masquerade ball to than mosh to. With that said it’s not my forte, and my knowledge on the subgenre would only get me as far as creating a mix tape consisting entirely of Type O Negative tracks. Which is not so bad, in fact I have nothing against doom metal whatsoever. Especially now that I’ve discovered Myridian.

A good friend of mine compared the sensation of listening to the debut album Under The Fading Light to, and I quote, “lying down in a forest under the beautiful northern lights whilst stroking the testicles of a fierce lion”. Now, if I didn’t have my mind blown after listening through it from start to finish (in lieu of having my manhood mauled by the increasingly sexually frustrated critter), I would be pretty damn disappointed.

Fortunately, however, I’m inclined to agree with her opinion, though my imagination would rather compare the experience to “listening to the band that first got me into doom metal, and loving it”. One might assume, at first, that once I’d heard the title track (until recently it was my favorite they played live) when the band posted it early, that I wouldn’t bother listening to the rest of the album. This is pretty far from the truth, as I was one of the many fans who’d been waiting for the highly anticipated debut for quite some time.

And it didn’t disappoint. The album is just about everything doom metal should be: The guitars are clean and very easy to get in the rhythm of. The drum beats create that much needed sense of continuity throughout each track. The bass is barely audible, just the way I like it. The vocals take me back to The Fourth Dimension-era Hypocrisy. The music overall is very calm and serene, albeit still extremely metal, and creates a sense of anticipation that makes you just want to hear every single note in the songs. But the most outstanding, and my personal favorite, feature that gives Myridian that unique sound is the use of keyboards. Particularly in Solitude’s Embrace. When they played that song live at the album launch, I had never heard a more beautiful piano tune in my life. It caused me to promptly type a message to the friend sitting beside me: “Dat piano riff ♥” (It gets really loud in these venues, rendering verbal communication almost completely useless.)

Other highlights of the album are the re-recording of Starless, the smooth transition between Passage and To The Dying Sun, Felix’s vocals, particularly in the epic closing of Ethereal Storm, and of course the title track, Under The Fading Light.

And just a final word of advice to anyone giving the album a listen, or entrusting their virgin ears to a full-length doom metal album for the first time: Be patient. The songs do finish. Eventually. Now, excuse me while I go listen to Solitude’s Embrace again…

Myridian’s Under The Fading Light gets 8.8/10 ferocious feline testes.

Unleash Pandemonium. (‘Bout time, too!)

Erm… what just happened? Did everything just taste black for a second? Did the whole planet just go through a very brief (albeit epic) quake? Or did I just receive a blunt force trauma to both my head and my ass? The answer to these questions is very simple: Harlott is back.

Yes, Harlott are back with their new EP entitled “None”, the follow-up to Virus. Now to tell you all how much this NEW one rocks!

(This is not an ass-kissing contest, but if it was - if it was - I would win solely on the purest and most profound sincerity. I am very far from a sycophant, and it’s not often I find a local band whom my picky, hit-and-miss interest latches to.)

The first thing I’d like to discuss is Andy’s voice. In contrast to Virus, where he has the trademark shouting vox well-generated but makes every syllable way too fast to decipher, he now sounds cleaner and much easier to understand, whilst still maintaining the extremely fast-paced thrash metal voice, which he somehow found a way to develop into a singing voice in addition to just shouting. Clearly the guy must do tongue push-ups.

Secondly, the songs. I’ve said a couple of times that hearing the intro to None is one of the best feelings in the world. The riff has a certain power surge that flows through you like liquid KEEN that tells you, “Something AWESOME is coming…” And I assure you, the rest of the song doesn’t disappoint.

In The Black is an interesting one to take note of, as it has its many pros and cons. If the song was a racehorse, it would be Phar Lap. It is the fastest and always the first to finish. With that said, the track is way too short, even for Harlott who have songs between only 2-3 minutes long left and right. For that reason, previewing In The Black before the EP’s launch was the best possible place to start, as it is my least favorite song in the collection. Yet it blew me away when I first listened to it. Imagine what I among the rest of Harlott’s die-hard fans would have thought of the other three tracks upon release? In particular Terror, the band’s current indisputable magnum opus. Until they find a way to top that.

If you’re not a fan of Harlott or only just starting to listen to them I have a few words of advice:

  1. Listen to Virus first. If you like that, you’ll do cartwheels over this one.
  2. If you’re a fan of any/ all of the following, BUY THIS RECORD: Slayer, Testament, The Living End, Megadeth, Harlott.

Harlott’s None EP gets 9.5/10 thrash metal racehorses.