31 January, 2014

Chimaira: Wrapped In Violence – new video

The new CHIMAIRA video (“A boiling rage/The burning flame/A cloudy haze/A middle finger – will forever define us … Fuck what you think no, fuck everything … And now your back's against the wall”) was directed by Alex Morgan. ‘Wrapped In Violence’ is just one gem off CHIMAIRA's seventh album, ‘Crown Of Phantoms’, which was released in July 2013 through eOne to land at position number 52 on The Billboard Top 200, selling approximately 7,400 copies in the USA in its first week, and to conquer iTunes Metal Chart immediately upon its release. CHIMAIRA ‘Crown Of Phantoms’ edition features the band's only founding member vocalist Mark Hunter, drummer Austin D'Amond (“he’s just a really crazy drummer; he’s constantly changing the beat up and the patterns and you never know what you’re going to get from him”), keyboardist Sean Zatorsky (“[he brings] in a little bit more of the analog synth, it’s something that is a newer to the sound and also contributing with vocals and with me together, we sound - I think - pretty demonic”), lead guitarist Emil Werstler and rhythm guitarist Matt Szlachta (“both are insanely talented; Emil comes from a more of a gypsy jazz style and Matt is a kind of on the classical realm and the '80s metal realm and together they create a really technical, yet easy to grasp sound”) and bassist Jeremy Creamer (“he’s one of those virtuoso musicians that can hear the tiniest minute detail that nobody else in the room can hear if it’s just slightly sharp or flat” -  vocalist Mark Hunter explained to Loudwire – more here). As Gregory Heaney, AllMusic puts it:
“If there’s a feeling that courses throughout the record, it’s one of reinvigoration, with CHIMAIRA bouncing back from a rough couple of years with a rock-solid album of stomping metal. Though the band is named for the chimera of myth, they seem more like the hydra, always returning angrier no matter how many heads get cut off.” [More here]
Get your own copy of ‘Crown Of Phantoms’ here (CHIMAIRA's store), through Amazon or iTunes.

“To live in Cleveland, Ohio, more of a sunken hole than a driven notch in the Midwest rustbelt, is to not only encounter, but embrace the crippling winters, the broken jawed economy, and the expectations of defeat. All of which culminate in the very specific attitude of not only being an asshole, but being an asshole and an underdog. None of this is lost on CHIMAIRA.”
Formed in 1998 in Cleveland, Ohio by guitarist Jason Hager and vocalist Mark Hunter, CHIMAIRA recorded their debut LP with producer Andrew Murdock and released ‘Pass Out Of Existence’ in 2001 on Roadrunner Records:

Next came ‘The Impossibility Of Reason’ LP, recorded with guitarist Matt DeVries (current FEAR FACTORY guitarist) which debuted at number 117 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, selling to date over 200,000 copies in the U.S. alone. CHIMAIRA's third, self-titled, album was to be the last issued through Roadrunner Records; ‘Chimaira’ climbed up to number 74 on the Billboard Top 200. Hunter, lead guitarist Rob Arnold, rhythm guitarist Matt DeVries, bassist Jim LaMarca, drummer Andols Herrick and keyboardist Chris Spicuzza next recording, 2007's ‘Resurrection’ debuted at number 42 on the U.S. charts, selling 16,000 copies in its first week: “ ‘Resurrection’ does not suffer from false advertising as far as the album title goes - it truly sounds like the CHIMAIRA chaps are reinvigorated and reborn,” commented Greg Prato, AllMusic (more here): 

CHIMAIRA's fifth studio album surpassed its predecessor, charts-wise; issued in 2009 through Ferret Music/Nuclear Blast Records, ‘The Infection’ reached position number 30 on the Billboard Top 200. The band recorded their eOne Music debut after losing longtime bassist Jim LaMarca in late 2010, and after longtime drummer Andols Herrick, and electronic knob twister Chris Spicuzza had fallen away from the band in April 2011:
“This left CHIMAIRA's flagship member and singer Mark Hunter and guitarists Rob Arnold and Matt Devries [rhythm guitar] with an album to record with no rhythm section or an effects specialist. The splintered CHIMAIRA could have stared at the sun dissecting separate fires then converging into a singular sphere of blinding defeat. Most bands would have. But most bands aren’t from Cleveland. And only one band is CHIMAIRA. Instead, Hunter, Arnold, and Devries pushed themselves into frequent collaborator [the group's longtime producer] Ben Schigel's Spider Studios with bloodied teeth and balled fists, hell bent on birthing what anyone else would have aborted.”
‘The Age Of Hell’ was released in 2011 to debut at number 54 on the Billboard Top 200, selling over 7,000 in the U.S. in its first week of sales:
“What’s remarkable is how little an effect the stated departures had on the sound of the album. It’s a very smooth and seamless transition from 2009's ‘The Infection’ - so much so that it’s not immediately obvious that anything has changed,” [observed Dave Donnelly, AllMusic – more here:]

CHIMAIRA features: Mark Hunter – vocals, Emil Werstler – guitar, Matt Szlachta – guitar, Jeremy Creamer – bass, Austin D'amond – drums and Sean Z – keyboards and vocals 


Demonical: An Endless Celebration – new video



Fear not: DEMONICAL still hate the world - as far as they are concerned, “(let them hang, in front of the people/let them hang, let us spit at the cattle/) never-ending humiliation [is] a cause for an endless celebration”. ‘An Endless Celebration’ comes off the demonic Swedish metallers' fourth full-length, ‘Darkness Unbound’, released in North America in November 2013 through Metal Blade Records and in Europe in September 2013 through Cyclone Empire Records. The album was recorded at Necromorbus Studios in Sweden and mixed and mastered by Sverker Widgren at Wing Studios in Stockholm. When Lior Stein listened to ‘Darkness Unbound’ for Metal Temple, he felt “as if an iced volcano has erupted, spraying its steamy lava on its surrounding while above it a storm rapidly formed, tearing up everything on its path” (more here), while Sludgelord felt an “excellent adrenaline rush” when doing the same (more here); I therefore strongly suggest you order DEMONICAL's latest effort from the band's official store here, from Metal Blade here, or from Cyclone Empire here, if you wish to partake in this wondrous experience. Visit Decibel Magazine here to stream the ‘King Of All’ track, and scroll down to watch the video ‘The Healing Control’.


DEMONICAL was formed in 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden by former CENTINEX members, guitarist and vocalist Johan Jansson, bassist Martin Schulman and drummer Ronnie Bergerståhl. After recording a four track promo entitled ‘Bloodspell Divine’, the trio added vocalist Ludvig Engellau to the lineup. The release of DEMONICAL first full-length album, ‘Servants Of The Unlight’, followed in 2007 via German label Cyclone Empire. The band parted ways with its singer soon after and brought in Sverker “Widda” Widgren as his replacement. They returned to Necromorbus Studios to record their second full-length effort, ‘Hellsworn’, released via the same label in 2009, with a split 7” EP with PAGANIZER following in 2010. DEMONICAL third full-length album entitled ‘Death Infernal’, was released in April 2011 in Europe and in July 2011 in North America; it was recorded, mixed and mastered at Necromorbus Studios in Alvik, Sweden by Sverker Widgren and the band. 

DEMONICAL features: Sverker Widgren – vocals, Martin Schulman – bass, Daniel Gustavsson – guitar, Johan Haglund – guitar and Ämir Batar – drums




SOiL: Loaded Gun – new video

‘Loaded Gun’ comes off SOiL's sixth album ‘Whole’, issued in August 2013 on AFM Records/Pavement/Relativity, which has peaked at number 141 on the Billboard Top 200 chart (and at number 10 on the Billboard's Hard Rock Albums chart). Produced by Ulrich Wild, ‘Whole’ is the first album founders guitarist Adam Zadel and bassist Tim King recorded with the original singer Ryan McCombs (formerly of DROWNING POOL) since 2004's album ‘re.de.fine’. The drums was recorded/contributed by Will Hunt (of EVANESCENCE fame), while the words were written by Ryan McCombs, as is his habit (“Those that are familiar with the work I’ve done are going to get the next chapter that they would expect. Words from a heart and mind that has lived them. One of the greatest things I experience as a lyricist is when people come up and share with me how a song, or a specific verse or line from a song, got them through a hard time or times in their lives. It reminds me of the times music did that for me an how powerful music and/or a lyric can be in a person's life.”). Whole’ features a guest solo on the ‘Wake Up’ track, performed by the band's longtime friend STAIND's Mike Mushok. The album is available at the band's store here, through Amazon, on iTunes, as well as at AFM MP3 store here:
:Bolstered by a handful of hard-hitting and engaging singles like ‘Shine On’, ‘Loaded Gun’, ‘Way Gone’, and ‘The Hate Song’, all four of which utilize the radio-ready, post-grunge power of 2009's ‘Picture Perfect’ [SOiL's fifth LP] while invoking the decibel-crushing might of 2001's ‘Scars’, ‘Whole’ provides a sonic bridge between the two eras, yet retains a foundation of pure muscle and mayhem,” [approved James Christopher Monger, AllMusic – more here]

Formed in 1997 in Chicago, USA by former death metal enthusiasts drummer Tom Schofield, bassist Tim King and guitarists Adam Zadel and Shaun Glass, SOiL's first recordings, all featuring vocalist McCombs, failed to make an impression until they were noticed by Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer producer Clive Davis, founder of J Records. Produced by Johnny K, SOiL's second full-length, 2001's ‘Scars’, entered both the Billboard Top 200 and the UK Albums Chart and was described as “an album that embraces the rambunctious spirit of rock & roll and allows it to overwhelm the listener” by Jason D. Taylor, AllMusic (more here). ‘Scars’ went on to sell over one million copies worldwide. The band had parted ways with vocalist McCombs despite (or because of) him possessing a “rock star quality oozing from his every pore” after their third LP, 2004's ‘re.de.fine’, which peaked at number 78 on Billboard Top 200. He was replaced with vocalist AJ Cavalier with whom SOiL put forth the albums ‘True Self’ in 2006 and ‘Picture Perfect’ in 2009. 
SOiL features: Ryan McCombs – vocals, Adam Zadel – guitar and Tim King – bass 


30 January, 2014

Full Album Stream: Kampfar: Djevelmakt – new album


(Sorry about the delay boys, it couldn’t be helped.) Without further ado then, visit Metal Hammer right here, right now and stream the new KAMPFAR album, ‘Djevelmakt’. KAMPFAR's sixth LP is out now, since January the 27th, 2014 (will become available tomorrow in Germany, Austria and Switzerland), through Indie Recordings. ‘Djevelmakt’ is an interesting and rewarding (“the mark of a band still unafraid to push the (long)boat out after two decades of existence, but who are still utterly in tune with the unruly currents coursing through black metal's heart,” according to Metal Hammer) listen and I advise you to order the album from here (the finally upgraded and simplified Indie Recordings store), from iTunes, Spotify etc. ‘Djevelmakt’ was recorded partly in the band's (new) home town Bergen and partly at the Abyss Studio in Pärlby, Sweden with producer Jonas Kjellgren (of RAUBTIER) with Peter Tägtgren (of HYPOCRISY) doing the mixing. The album's cover is a 1981 oil painting by Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński. But, in case you are one of those people who like to have their stuff (their music) well defined, Excretakano (of MetalSucks fame) is glad to help:
“ ‘Djevelmakt’ is black metal in the same way that ROTTING CHRIST or SECRETS OF THE MOON are black metal. That is: yeah, occasionally maybe, not really a whole lot, no. The distinction quite possibly falls entirely on your definition of the genre,” [he says. He adds:] “KAMPFAR somehow found a way to bury the needle deep into the awesome zone while maintaining a subtle individuality. Utterly satisfying.” [Excretakano apparently haunts the shadowy terrain between massive incompetence and total irrelevance, with occasional trips through self-righteous ambiguity – more here:]

KAMPFAR started out as a solo project for former MOCK frontman Dolk (occasionally referred to as Per-Joar Spydevold) in 1994 in Fredrikstad, Norway. By 1995, Dolk (vocals and drums) recruited guitarist and bassist Thomas (Andreassen), and the pair proceeded to record first a demo, followed by a self-titled EP which was released through Season Of Mist.
While, according to the band, KAMPFAR's debut full-length album “leaned heavily on Thomas' folk influences, yet espoused Dolk's black metal finesse”, AllMusic's Steve Huey found 1997s ‘Mellom Skogkledde Aaser’ “an oddly musical slab of frosty Norwegian black metal, full of the prerequisite evil-troll vocal rasping, but also featuring memorable guitar riffs and goth-sounding backup vocals” (more here). Originally released through Malicious Records, the album was reissued by Napalm Records in 2006. An EP called ‘Norse’ came next in 1998, followed by ‘Fra Underverdenen’ LP in 1999 (Hammerheart Records). On KAMPFAR's third longplayer, 2006s ‘Kvass’, the duo grew into a foursome, adding Jon (Fredrik Bakker) on bass and Ask (Ty Ulvhedin Bergli Arctander) on drums; the band was welcomed back with praising words such as “epic” and descriptions as “a rare example of how Scandinavian metal bands can successfully reacquaint themselves with their roots” (Stewart Mason, AllMusic – more here). KAMPFAR returned to Silverstone Studio in and producer Rune Jørgensen to record 2008s ‘Heimgang’ to deliver “raw pagan folklore metal as it is meant to be heard; piercing riffs, driving drums, and catchy melodies” for the fourth time.The band's third record issued through Napalm Records, 2011s ‘Mare’, was recorded with producer Peter Tägtgren “who provided the songs with a piercing and very powerful sound”. The last album to feature longtime guitarist Thomas, KAMPFAR drafted in the talents of Ole Hartvigsen to accompany them on the ensuing tour. Ole later joined the band on permanent bases.

KAMPFAR features: Dolk – vocals, Jon – bass, Ask – drums and Ole - guitar

27 January, 2014

Hammercult: Steelcrusher – new album


I will tell you what I think of HAMMERCULT: if they don’t get nominated for next year's “Best Metal Performance” Grammy-thing, they should at least win the “Most Enthusiastic Band On Earth” category. Tel Aviv's own have a new album out today, January the 27th, 2014 (it will be released in North America on February the 4th); it is called ‘Steelcrusher’, it is covered in art by the legendary cover artist Andreas Marschall, it was mixed and mastered by Chris “Zeuss” Harris, SEPULTURA's Andreas Kisser contributed a “furioso guitar solo” on the album's fifth track ‘We Are The People’, and SPV/Sonic Attack Records released it. HAMMERCULT's energetic frontman, Yakir Shochat, elaborated on the album as follows:
“[The title-track is] heavy, crunching and full speed ahead - it’s like getting hit in the face with a mighty storm of steel. Brutal, epic lyrics and riffs delivered with that ultraspeed that HAMMERCULT are known for! It’s an anthem of praise, dedicated to that incredible force known as the human soul and its willpower! ‘Burning The Road’ is burning the tires and going full throttle – pedal to the metal! [On comparatively moderate track ‘Liar’:] On this one, we decided to play a little more slowly and simplify things. While this song is 100% HAMMERCULT metal, it’s a little tribute to early 80s punk songs and attitude: I fucking hate liars – and that’s what this song is about! Life is no playground, it will kick the shit out of you any chance it gets, but you have to get your ass up and fight back!”
So there you have it: ‘Steelcrusher’ awaits your order (as vinyl LP and as CD) here (HAMMERCULT's store) and on Amazon.

Formed in Tel Aviv in late 2010 by vocalist Yakir Shochat, guitarists Arie Aranovich and Guy Ben-David, bassist Elad Manor and drummer Maayan Henik, HAMMERCULT released a five-track digital EP called ‘Rise Of The Hammer’ just a few months after the band's formation. In 2011, they won the Israeli Wacken Metal Battle finals and, in August of the same year, HAMMERCULT were declared a winner of the 2011s edition of  “W:O:A Metal Battle”, signing with German label Sonic Attack Records as a result. In 2012, HAMMERCULT released their debut full-length album, ‘Anthems Of The Damned’, which was produced by the band's own Arie Aranovich and mixed by (former HATESPHERE vocalist) Jacob Bredahl:

In 2013, the band had toured with SEPULTURA, they lost their axeman Aranovich and were rejoined by guitarist Ben-David, they played at “Summer Breeze”, “MetalDays” and “Neurotic Deathfest” festivals, had signed with SPV and had recorded their second album, ‘Steelcrusher’ (plus “Elad got married!”):
“In my opinion,” [says Shochat] “there’s only one way to make your dreams come true and that is with lots of commitment and soul, instead of false compromises and questionable ideals.”
HAMMERCULT features: Yakir Shochat – vocals, Arie Aranovich – guitar, Guy Ben David – guitar, Elad Manor – bass and Maayan Henik – drums

25 January, 2014

Full Album Stream: Culted: Oblique To All Paths – new album


If you, like me, need something to calm yourselves down after this year's Kitzbühel downhill ski race, I recommend CULTED's new album ‘Oblique To All Paths’. (Btw, even if you are not into skiing, screaming at the TV set works great in case you are trying to get rid of annoying visiting sister/brother-in-law, and the next best thing is to put one of these “full album streams” here full volume if forced to entertain undesired guests, heh.) You see, according to some very confidential sources, CULTED have never actually been in the same room and still manage to make fine music together; guitarists, bassists, percussionists and noise artists Michael Klassen and Matthew Friesen and drummer Kevin Stevenson are from Canada, while vocalist Daniel Jansson resides in Gothenburg, Sweden. CULTED's sophomore full-length and their first release in over four years, “a stunningly haunting and grim piece of sprawling doom metal and the perfect soundtrack to a desolate, barren winter”, is out now everywhere, since January 21st, 2014, on Relapse Records. Buy ‘Oblique To All Paths’ which, according to CVLT Nation, “needs a lot of commitment from the listener (not just [because of] its dense arrangements and wretched vocals but [also because of] its harrowing and bleak atmosphere) but the reward is ultimately worth it for what is an early doom gem for the year” (more here) as CD or double LP here (Relapse Records store) or digitally from iTunes, BandCamp here:

The CULTED collective was forged in 2007 when members of black metal band OF HUMAN BONDAGE (from Winnipeg, Canada) Michael Klassen, Matthew Friesen and Kevin Stevenson, heard Daniel Jansson's DEADWOOD project (Gothenburg, Sweden) and had contacted the Swede. Although they, the CULTED, have reportedly yet to speak to each other in real time, they apparently connect in mind and spirit through their musical manifestations; in 2009, they released their debut full-length album of bleak and dystopian doom entitled ‘Below The Thunders Of The Upper Deep’, followed by ‘Of Death And Ritual’ EP in 2010, both releases serving as a true testament to their long-distance accomplishments:

CULTED features: Daniel Jansson - words, voice and ambience, Matthew Friesen - guitar, bass, percussion and noise, Michael Klassen - guitar, bass, percussion and noise, Kevin Stevenson - drums, percussion with Erik Larsen - additional sound, modular synths

Locrian: A Visitation From The Wrath Of Heaven – new video & Return To Annihilation – full album stream

Personally, I fully support LOCRIAN's (whose natural hyperactive creativity continues into 2014) ambitious goal to make a video for each and every tune they’ve ever recorded. ‘A Visitation From The Wrath Of Heaven’ is the fourth video the band has released in promotion (or support) of their latest (that I know of) recording ‘Return To Annihilation’, issued in June 2013 on Relapse Records. Directed by J.P Bradburn, ‘A Visitation From The Wrath Of Heaven’ is a worthy successor to Rosamaria Montalbano-directed video ‘Two Moons’, ‘Panorama Of Mirrors’ video visualised by the group's own Terence Hannum and ‘Exiting The Hall Of Vapor And Light’, directed by George Moore. Once again, ‘Return To Annihilation’ is a truly rewarding listen, so listen and then order the album described as “excellent” and “risky” by Pitchfork and as “a corona of dream-pop and visceral shoegaze” by Stereogum and available as CD, double LP, and in digital formats here (Relapse Records' store), via BandCamp here or from iTunes, etc. ‘Return To Annihilation’ was recorded by Greg Norman at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago, Illinois, and mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service:
“… LOCRIAN's “noctambulist”, their sleepwalker, does not rely on the chosen-one mythos for its character details. His story is the endlessly repeating cycle of the pacifying dream and horrific reality of disaster, inescapable, crushing, and yet somehow glorious. This play of image and reality provides a subtle reading of the cultural fascination with catastrophe and the nearing certainty that we may face one. Until then, the apocalypses will continue unabated, the shifting between New World Orders and hopes to be met or violated will repeat, relentlessly, until it’s all over or a new age dawns,” [wrote, inspired, Mathew Philips, Tiny Mix Tapes – more here:]

Perhaps named so after “an exotic musical scale once banned by the Catholic church for being evil”, or perhaps indentified with “an obscure tribe of ancient Greeks” (as suggested by Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic - more here), sonic experiment known as LOCRIAN was founded in 2005 in Chicago, Illinois by multi-talented André Foisy and Terence Hannum. LOCRIAN have to date released over 20 recordings (“almost song by song, at times”) on countless labels. Their first full-length album was issued on Small Doses Records in 2009; ‘Drenched Lands’ astonished Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic who wrote: “Even by post-metal standards, the pair just don’t line up - on paper - yet they ultimately make sense in the decontextualized “anything goes” mentality displayed throughout ‘Drenched Lands’ (more here)”:

Its follower, 2010's ‘Territories’, featured percussionist Andrew Scherer as well as guest musicians Mark Solotroff on synthesizer, saxophonist Bruce Lamont (of YAKUZA fame), and guitarist and vocalist Blake Judd (of NACHTMYSTIUM). Upon listening, Mr. Rivadavia exclamed: “There’s never a dull moment here, that’s for sure!” (Read the rest of his review here:)

Ever a “prophetic voices of decline”, LOCRIAN released another album later that same year. ‘The Crystal World’, recorded with renowned experimental musician and the group's new drummer Steven Hess, featured guest vocalist Erica Burgner-Hannum and guest violinist Gretchen Koehler. Titled after J.G. Ballard's 1966 novel that tells the story of a physician who specializes in leprosy sent to a remote African outpost to discover a jungle that is slowly crystallizing and encroaching upon everything it touches, the band fittingly described ‘The Crystal World’ as “an epic journey”:

‘The Clearing / The Final Epoch’ double CD was issued on Relapse Records in 2012; ‘The Clearing’, released the previous year through Fan Death on vinyl only became finally available in CD form, accompanied by a second CD consisting of rare and unreleased LOCRIAN material. The effort, praised by critics, was recorded and mixed at Semaphore Recording by Jeremy Lemos, and mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service:

In 2012, LOCRIAN's joint effort with post-rock atmospheric astronauts MAMIFFER, - comprised of ISIS' main man Aaron Turner and pianist Faith Coloccia – produced ‘Bless Them That Curse You’ album which was issued through Profound Lore Records:
“Heck, at its core, and for all its schizophrenic variety, LOCRIAN & MAMIFFER's collaboration could be said to muster an unsettling new age for the dark age, and it’s ultimately that passion for contrasting sounds and viewpoints that makes this collaboration so powerful and seductive,” [commented Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic – more here:]

LOCRIAN features: André Foisy - guitar, bass and percussions, Terence Hannum -  vocals, synthesizers, organs, tapes and guitar and Steven Hess – percussions   


22 January, 2014

Monte Pittman: The Power Of Three – new album


Since this is a one woman (an adult woman with numerous responsibilities beside this blog which is my hobby, as a matter of fact) show, I can be excused for not knowing that PRONG's MONTE PITTMAN is largely known as MADONNA's long-time guitarist; although the Queen of Pop in very popular here and visits regularly, I somehow seem to to be unable to attend her magnificent shows. Anyhow, award-winning, chart-topping guitarist MONTE PITTMAN's new album, ‘The Power Of Three’, is out now in America, since January the 21st, 2014, and will become available in Europe on January the 24th/27th, through Metal Blade Records. Pittman, drummer Kane Ritchotte and bassist Max Whipple recorded the album - which awaits your order here (Metal Blade store), here (musician's official store) or on iTunes etc - in Copenhagen with producer Flemming Rasmussen (the man behind METALLICA's ‘Master Of Puppets’). The album's art, created by Cam Rackam, is to “represent the guitarist's musical journey from what he has done before, to where he is now”, while the band's brand new video ‘Before The Mourning Son’, directed by Vince Edwards, showcases stellar performances from Pitman and his bandmates:

Born and raised in Texas, USA, guitarist, singer and songwriter Monte Pittman moved to Los Angeles, California in his early twenties; he first made ends meet by working at a local music store as a salesperson, and later took a job as a guitar teacher (if you want to learn from the best click here for more information): “As fate would have it, his third student would end up being British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, who had just received a guitar from his then girlfriend, Madonna. Soon after, Monte was introduced to the iconic performer, and became her guitar teacher as well. A month later, Monte was invited to join Madonna on stage at the David Letterman Show to promote her album, ‘Music’.” He has since accompanied the pop diva on all of her live tours and has played guitar on her albums starting with the 2001s ‘Drowned World Tour’. Around the same time, Pittman joined groove metal band PRONG, with whom he recorded five albums and helped to produce some of them. In 2009, Pittman released his debut acoustic solo album ‘The Deepest Dark’: 

The following year he would head out on tour with Adam Lambert, whom he had known from before Lambert's appearance on the “American Idol” show. In 2011, Pittman launched a Kickstarter campaign for his second album, 2011s ‘Pain, Love & Destiny’; it raised a “staggering” 65,500 US dollars (with 5,000 US dollars raised in less than 24 hours) which cracked iTunes' Top 200: 

Monte Pittman performed with Madonna at the 2012 Super Bowl and had accompanied the performer on her world MDNA Tour. That same year, he performed at the Holywood's Artists In Music Awards where he received the “Best Solo Artist” award and was nominated in four additional categories. Furthermore, Pittman has been honored with a “Career Achievement Award”, given to him by the Hollywood F.A.M.E. Awards, while The Los Angeles Music Awards nominated him for “Best Male Singer/Songwriter”and “Best Modern Rock Album” for ‘Pain, Love, & Destiny’. 

Tempel: On The Steps Of The Temple – new album



Instrumental metal duo from Phoenix, Arizona, TEMPEL, have just released their debut album ‘On The Steps Of The Temple’, and those in the know are raving about it: “This is not your typical ethereal, chin-stroking post-metal; rather, ‘On The Steps’ creeps with otherworldly menace as it twists blackened shimmer and doom-steeped riffs into a whirling vortex of dread,” says A.V. Club, and No Clean Singing admits: “Yeah, I’m late to this party, but it’s a party I’d like to prolong in the hope that others will be lured inside - because it’s a bash that shouldn’t be missed”. Originally self-released (self-recorded and self-produced) digitally by guitarist and keyboardist Ryan Wenzel and drummer Rich Corle who make up the TEMPEL since 2003, the pair's recording was released as a CD and as a limited-edition vinyl by Prosthetic Records yesterday, 21st of January, 2014. Listen to three tunes off the record as available to you below (until the full album stream is ready – if at all – here/BandCamp), and order the ‘On The Steps Of The Temple’ CD and vinyl here (Prosthetic Records store) or via Amazon, or get its digital version from iTunes, BandCamp or Amazon MP3. The album's cover art features a painting by the iconic ancient Chinese landscape artist Li Cheng.

TEMPEL features: Ryan Wenzel – guitar, keyboards and engineering and Rich Corle - drums




21 January, 2014

Full Album Stream: Avichi: Catharsis Absolute – new album


So who is this AVICHI, also known as Andrew Markuszewski, as well as LORD MANTIS' and NACHTMYSTIUM's guitarist and vocalist? We could let his music speak for him, but, as it turns out, he is a man of many gifts – including the gift of gab. For the complete picture, do visit here (Steel For Brains) and read the insightful interview/“exploration of the brain behind the noise” Steel For Brains conducted with the man. AVICHI's third full-length is out now, January the 21st, 2014, on Profound Lore Records. Entitled ‘Catharsis Absolute’, the album is depicted as Andrew Markuszewski's (some of you may know him as “Aamonael”) mightiest album in the AVICHI repertoire to date:
“ ‘Catharsis Absolute’ is a vicious, furious, yet moving black metal album that will define Markuszewski as one of the scene's most prominent visionaries. Taking the sound he formulated with his ‘Divine Tragedy’ debut [2007] and ‘The Devil's Fractal’ follow-up [2011], ‘Catharsis Absolute’ is a glorious culmination of Aamonael's musical oeuvre, resulting in his singular vision unparalleled.”
And they are not just saying it, the label I mean. Listen to ‘Catharsis Absolute’ in its vicious-yet-moving entirety below, and you’ll feel compelled to buy it here (Profound Lore store) or here (BandCamp). Recorded with THE ATLAS MOTH's Andrew Ragin at Wall To Wall studios and mixed by Sanford Parker, the album's impressive art was created by Peter Kenar (aka Zmij) with a layout assembled by Chimere Noire (“The actual physical construct which was shot is of nephilic proportions. The demonic head itself is about ten times the size of a human skull,” [explained Markuszewski] “I am a great admirer of his [Peter Kenar's] vision and share a kinship to his works. Some of the older generations of my family had a knack for sculpture as well which also serves my appreciation for it. Both of us are of Polish ancestry. Piotr also introduced me to ‘Blood Fire Death’ by BATHORY a long long time ago…”):

AVICHI (“it may sound like an exotic Italian topping for your pizza,” argues Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic – more here) is the personal recording medium for multi-instrumentalist, song writer, recording artist, music engineer, and producer Andrew Markuszewski. Formed in 2006, AVICHI's debut album, ‘The Divine Tragedy’, only hinted (Eduardo Rivadavia describes it as a “well-heeled bid for eventual admittance into the club”) at what the project was about to offer on AVICHI's Profound Lore debut, 2011's ‘The Devil's Fractal’:
“ ‘The Divine Tragedy’ takes a muscular framework and unbridled aggression, and then integrates an intelligent form of arrangement that is rife with menacing atmospherics and progressive leanings. The final product is felt in ways visceral and cerebral. … Markuszewski's mid-range, intelligible rasp enhance greatly the pure malice of ‘Under Satan's Sun’, including certain stabbing riffs that come off as sonic manifestations of a knife attack on a cursed nemesis. Then again, “nemesis” is the most apt description of the views on Christianity revealed in the lyrics; no quarter for the pious, that’s a certainty,” [commented Scott Alisoglu, Blabbermouth – more here:]

20 January, 2014

Full Album Stream: Manes: Teeth, Toes And Other Trinkets – new compilation album


MANES are poised to return and return big with a brand new album soon - but before they “truly come back to life, they figured they’d dig up some dead stuff for everyone to enjoy. This [‘Teeth, Toes And Other Trinkets’] is a collection of odds and ends that on the surface might seem to appeal mostly to the most die-hard completist, but listening to it themselves, they found it working surprisingly well on its own. It is at times very lo-fi and not at all polished, but swamped in atmosphere and nostalgia, at least for them”. Listening to it myself as I am writing this, I am finding it surprisingly enjoyable (but the last gem which is a bit hard to take). The collection is out now, January the 17th, 2014 on Debemur Morti Productions (the Noble Servant of Chaos) who took the surprising step into the future and updated their (his/hers) website to one that fits 21st century requirements  (Facebook doesn’t count – it’s a nightmare and not an upgrade), so visit it here and while there, enter Debemur Morti new e-shop and order a vinyl copy of ‘Teeth, Toes And Other Trinkets’ here, of get it in its digital format from BandCamp here. ‘Teeth, Toes And Other Trinkets’ is an anthology of eleven unreleased, obscure and hard-to-find tracks/alternate versions culled from the verdant MANES archives. Dating back to the periods of their stellar ‘Vilosophe’ and ‘How The World Came To An End’ full-lengths from 2003 and 2007 respectively, these previous-buried jewels have been exhumed and presented anew for fresh consumption:

Formed in 1993 in Trondheim, Norway by guitarist, keyboardist and programmer Tor-Helge Skei (also known as Cernunus) and vocalist Thomas Berglie (known as Sargatanas), MANES' debut album, ‘Under Ein Blodraud Maane’, came out in 1999 through Hammerheart Records, although “their reputation had already grown quite formidable by then, thanks to a string of incredible demos (1993's ‘Maanens Natt’, 1994's ‘Ned I Stillheten’, and 1995's ‘Til Kongens Grav de Dode Vandrer’) - all featuring a desolate, icy cold, synth-laden brand of “trve” black metal” writes Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic (more here). By the time MANES' second album appeared, 2003's ‘Vilosophe’, the band had counted founder Tor-Helge Skei, vocalists Asgeir Hatlen and Tommy Sebastian Halseth, drummer Rune Hoemsnes, bassist Torstein Parelius and guitarist Eivind Fjoseide. Reinventing the band's sound into an “avant-garde mishmash of metal, prog rock, trip-hop, and electronica”, the album, praised by critics, has reportedly “alienated most of their original fan base”. In 2007, MANES released their third full-length, ‘How The World Came To An End’, through Candlelight Records. It had Alex Henderson, AllMusic lamenting:
“Much of the album, in fact, falls outside of metal altogether. A variety of comparisons come to mind when this CD is playing – sometimes DEAD CAN DANCE, sometimes DEPECHE MODE, sometimes even Sting - but not once is DARK FUNERAL or MARDUK a valid comparison, and anyone hoping for a return to black metal certainly won’t find it here. Some black metal enthusiasts have vehemently lambasted MANES for their change of direction, but the fact is that ‘How The World Came To An End’ is a generally well-crafted and intriguing, if slightly uneven, disc that electronica fans should be aware of.” [More here]
MANES features: Eivind Fjoseide – guitar and keyboards, Asgeir Hatlen – vocals, Torstein Parelius – bass, Rune Hoemsnes - drums and Tor-Helge Skei - guitar, keyboards and programming

Amon Amarth: Father Of The Wolf – new video

It’s been chronicled it took twelve centuries for the word of god to reach Scandinavia - only for it to fall on deaf ears; Odin, Thor and even jötunn Loki (although he is much harder to satisfy, I reckon) would be/are very pleased with the new AMON AMARTH burnt offering (video) ‘Father Of The Wolf’, for sure. Written by Daniel J.W. Hughes as imagined (directed and produced) by Ramon Boutviseth, starring Davis Osborne and Ryan Barringer and executive-produced by Justin Arcangel and Metal Blade's own Brian Slagel, ‘Father Of The Wolf’ comes off the Norse conquerors ninth album, ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’, issued on Metal Blade Records in June 2013, in AMON AMARTH's 25th year of existence. ‘Deceiver Of Gods’ performed exceptionally well upon its release: it sold approximately 17,000 copies in the USA in its first week of release, where it landed position number 19 on The Billboard Top 200, it entered the German Charts at number 3, the Austrian Charts at number 7, and the Swedish, Canadian and Swiss Charts at number 9 – with a bit of help from Loki. Because you see, the album is dedicated to “the most human of all the gods in northern mythology”:
“A lot of people see him as an evil character, but he’s not the equivalent of Satan. He also does a lot of good things, and particularly with his talent for diplomacy he manages to get the gods out of trouble a lot of times. The only problem is that he’s usually the one that gets them into trouble in the first place,” [elaborated AMON AMARTH's thundering voice, scribe and (rumored) Thor's second cousin once removed Johan Hegg]
If you agree with Dom Lawson, The Guardian who described ‘Deciever Of Gods’ as AMON AMARTH's finest album (more here), and if you’ve answered AllMusic's James Christopher Monger question correctly:
“What begins with scorching, melodic twin leads, a mead-induced flurry of double-kick drumming, and the meatiest, most malevolent vocals this side of Valhalla? If you answered “The ninth studio outing from Swedish melodic death metal legends AMON AMARTH” then you are correct and can drink from the chalice,” [more here]
then you are obviously already a proud owner of the Swedish metal legends' latest effort. And if not, buy the album from here (Metal Blade store) or from wherever you usually buy your music:

Originally called “Scum”, AMON AMARTH had formed in 1988 in Tumba, Sweden. As “Scum”, the band reportedly made no impression upon the Stockholm metal scene until the arrival of imposing figure that is vocalist Johan Hegg. As AMON AMARTH, the group recorded two demos, 1993's ‘Thor Arise’ and 1994's ‘The Arrival Of The Fimbul Winter’, which were followed by their first EP, ‘Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds’, released in 1996 on Pulverised Records. Their debut on Metal Blade and the first of three full-lengths worked on with producer Peter Tägtgren (HYPOCRISY and PAIN), ‘Once Sent From The Golden Hall’ was issued in 1998:

Later that year, guitarist Anders Hansson and drummer Martin Lopez would leave the band to be replaced with Johan Söderberg and Fredrik Andersson, respectively. In 1999, AMON AMARTH recorded and released their second full-length, ‘The Avenger’:

“The riffing from guitar and drums is workmanlike, and Hegg's vocal rants carry all the requisite ferocity,” was AllMusic's Jason Anderson comment on AMON AMARTH's 2001 third full-length, ‘The Crusher’:

Ferocious touring in support of each and every release seemingly had no effect on the attacking Vikings, since they’ve issued their fourth record a mere year later. ‘Versus The World’ was produced by Berno Paulsson:

2004's ‘Fate Of Norns’ continued AMON AMARTH's slower, heavier sound which started on their previous album. AllMusic's Wade Kergan was impressed:
“These aren’t just songs written about Vikings, they are written by Vikings. They’re ready for death in ‘Arson’ where one of five left to burn survives and comes back for revenge in that tracks' sequel, ‘Once Sealed In Blood’. Blood lust themes aren't unusual, but AMON AMARTH tackle them with a depth often lacking from their contemporaries. Which brings up the most intriguing track, ‘Fate Of Norns’: “No man should have to bury his child/Yet this has been my share/The tears I shed run bitter and wild/It’s a heavy burden to bear.” A knotty subject for a band and a style more given to crushing skulls than tears, but that kind of depth is what AMON AMARTH have brought to ‘Fate Of Norns’ and what makes it stand out in a sea of barbarian pretenders,” [more here]:

AMON AMARTH's first album to be produced by Jens Bogren was also their first to make an impression on American Billboard charts. “Death metal with some melody? Can it be? As evidenced by AMON AMARTH's 2006 release, ‘With Oden On Our Side’, this dream seems to be a reality early on,” heard the call to arms AllMusic's Greg Prato [more here]: 

After extending their record deal with Metal Blade for three more albums, the true sons of Thor recorded their breakthrough album ‘Twilight Of The Thunder God’. Released in 2008, the album debuted at number 50 on the Billboard Top 200 and at number 11 on the Swedish Album charts. Exclaimed Greg Prato, AllMusic: “If extreme metal existed back in the days of Vikings, Sweden's AMON AMARTH would undoubtedly be the musical choice of vessels sailing rough and treacherous seas.” (More here): 

2011's ‘Surtur Rising’ had sold around 15,000 copies during its first week in the United States alone. It has become AMON AMARTH's highest charting album in the U.S. (until ‘Deceiver Of Gods’), debuting at position number 34 on the Billboard Top 200:
“The album's ten songs are typical anthemic AMON AMARTH tracks, built for headbanging and chanting along with the powerful, warrior's-code choruses,” [wrote Phill Freeman, AllMusic] A few subtle production flourishes - the sounds of clashing swords on ‘War Of The Gods’ and crying ravens on ‘Töck's Taunt’, plus some strings on ‘For Victory Or Death’ and the album-closing ‘Doom Over Dead Man’ - bolster the sound somewhat, but other than that it’s up to the five members of AMON AMARTH to keep the listener happy with nothing but guitars, bass, drums, and  Johan Hegg's barrel-chested roars, and they do that with admirable skill.” [More here:]

AMON AMARTH features: Johan Hegg - vocals, Johan Söderberg - guitar, Olavi Mikkonen - guitar, Ted Lundström - bass and Fredrik Andersson – drums 


17 January, 2014

Full Album Stream: Alcest: Shelter – new album


Well, it is finally here – right on time too, it’s January after all – and it is streaming in its a-long-journey-into-vast-new-creative-terrain-entirety here (Prophecy Productions YouTube channel), and below. ALCEST's fourth longplayer is called ‘Shelter’ (“The title describes [the album's] concept. These songs are about shelter as a safe place that allows everybody to escape reality for an instant, to reunite with what we really are, deep down. Neige's [and yours' truly, although separately] own escape was to the sea, and all the songs here were inspired by and dedicated to it.”) and is out now, January the 17th, 2014 in Europe, through Prophecy Productions. It will be distributed in North America from January the 21st on through Dismanic/eOne. Contemporary shoegazers ALCEST (made up of guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Niege and drummer Winterhalter) latest effort was recorded at Sundlaugin Studio in Iceland, with SIGUR ROS producer Birgir Jón Birgisson “who masterfully gave ‘Shelter’ its light and ethereal sound”. ‘Shelter’ also (reportedly) “embraces the dreamy guitar textures of shoegaze and blends it with the sweetness of british band COCTEAU TWINS - dream pop pioneers of the mid to late 80's era [good grief!]- epic, soundtrack-like melodies and progressive song structures” and features guest appearances from SLOWDRIVE's Neil Halstead, PROMISE AND THE MONSTER's Billie Lindahl and AMIINA's strings. The album awaits your order here (Prophecy Productions' store) and comes available as CD, as gatefold LP, as double CD hardcover book, plus additional limited editions – check them out. But first become familiar with the entity that is ALCEST:
“ALCEST - that is music from another world, a world that is real, but that exists beyond ours and cannot be grasped by our senses. A world where all appearances - trees, glades, streams - emit a pearly light and where a faraway and celestial music fills the air like sweet perfume. A world inhabited by infinitely benevolent and protective beings of light, communicating in a wordless “language” directly from one soul to another. A world where the soul knows neither pain nor sickness nor sorrow, but is filled with a deep peace and an ineffable bliss. A world that lies “before” and “after”, “beside” and “behind” our world and the awareness of which stills mankind's fears of death. This world is no dream and no fantasy. Neige, the creative mind of ALCEST, knows it - he has experienced it and keeps memories of how it revealed itself to him in the form of esoteric experiences in his early life. ALCEST is his medium to come to terms with these memories and to share them with others:”

First envisioned in 1999 by Neige (PESTE NOIRE, MORTIFERA, OLD SILVER KEY etc) as a solo project, the vision became a developed band for a short while as Hegnor and Arguth joined the campaign. As a trio, ALCEST released a plain black metal demo entitled ‘Tristesse Hivernale’ through Drakkar Productions in 1999, after which ALCEST's founder, being left to his own devices, immersed himself into “the otherworld” for the first time. An EP, ‘Le Secret’, was released in 2005 and eventually re-released by Prophecy Productions in 2011:
“No matter which version of ‘Le Secret’ you prefer, it remains a very special record, as it lays out in total the first aural manifesto that all the work of ALCEST to date was based upon, and shows just how far apart the unit is, in content and form, from other shoegaze metal acts. This is the door to a powerful, poetic, unsettling world of bliss that still challenges the sense of hearing even as it delights,” [commented Thom Jurek, AllMusic – more here]
ALCEST's debut full-length, 2007's ‘Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde’ – described by Allmusic's Brian Way as “a monstrous, churning, epic guitar album - without a single guitar solo!” was met with similar critical praise. A split EP with ANGMAR followed in 2007, with another split with LES DISCRETS following in 2009. Much anticipated second full-length, 2010's ‘Écailles de Lune’, was lovingly reviewed by Ned Raggett, Allmusic:
“The first half of the two-part title track that begins the album starts with a gentle guitar chime before the full skyscraping riff kicks in, but - instead of getting even more intense as it goes – it’s happy to turn even more elegantly beautiful, letting moments of strutting rock brawl feel more like exaltation than destruction. Neige's singing is some of his loveliest at many points throughout the album, a soft keen toward the middle of the second half of the title track, a low and contemplative rumination elsewhere - if not notably different from his earlier work in approach, it’s at its most enjoyable here, and perhaps at its most beautifully serene on ‘Solar Song’, vocals overlaid to lovely effect,” [more here]
In January 2012, ALCEST released their third album titled ‘Les Voyages De L'Âme’ (French for: the journeys of the soul); it was once again met with critical and commercial success:
“Since the concept of ALCEST's sound is no longer new or novel, the music has to be judged on its own merit. Their sound is essentially unchanged, though its production values have improved. In its harmonic sophistication and layered sonic wash, its ability to create something approaching bliss has increased. Neige's vocals, decipherable at times, are all in French. They’re meant to be another layer of that atmospheric palette; when they can be understood in the mix they celebrate something spiritually positive, distancing their music from that of black metal even further. Multi-tracked electric and acoustic guitars and tension-tuned basses meet washes of synth and Winterhalter's tom-tom-heavy drum attack (no blastbeats) in songs that stay far from the nihilism and embrace the experience of beauty found in the indefinable space between spiritual, human, and natural worlds,” [gushed Thom Yurek, AllMusic - more here:]

ALCEST features: Neige – guitars, bass, synths and vocals and Winterhalter – drums 

Full Album Stream: Drudkh: Eastern Frontier In Flames – new compilation album


The collection of the “long out-of-print and sought-after” DRUDKH EP's and split releases, ‘Eastern Frontier In Flames’, has just become available in Europe, January the 17th, 2014, with its North American release date set for January the 21st. Released on Season Of Mist, ‘Eastern Frontier In Flames’ presents songs from ‘Thousands Of Moons Ago / The Gates’, DRUDKH and WINTERFYLLETH just released split (out on 21st of January in North Ameruca), as well as the long out of print ‘Anti-Urban’ and ‘Slavonic Chronicles’ EPs. Only available on digipak CD and digital, ‘Eastern Frontier in Flames’ should be sought-after here (Season Of Mist e-shop) and shop for ‘Thousands Of Moons Ago / The Gates’ here (Season Of Mist e-shop) or get it from iTunes as you enjoy it in full here (BandCamp), courtesy the label:

DRUDKH was founded in Kharkiv, Ukraine in 2002 by guitarist and bassist Roman Saenko (HATE FOREST, OLD SILVER KEY etc), vocalist and keyboardist Thurios (HATE FOREST, ASTROFAEST etc) and drummer and keyboardist Yuriy Sinitsky (LUCIFUGUM) amidst some controversy toward the band's political views, addressed by DRUDKH founder Saenko in the following statement (DRUDKH follow a strict no photos, no interviews, no website policy; their Facebook page is run by their label):
“The absence of any comments or information from DRUDKH's side gave an opening to a few ignorant internet warrior-fans to spread rumors, that the band embraces some extreme political views. This is absolutely misleading and a total profanation, since there is nothing in DRUDKH's music or lyrics that would suggest any political outlook. DRUDKH praise individualism, self-improvement and estrangement from modern values.”
Embracing Slavic mythology and poetry then, especially the works of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, DRUDKH (Sanskrit for “wood”) nevertheless recorded their BURZUM-inspired debut album ‘Forgotten Legends’ in 2003 (Supernatural Music), which was re-issued through Season Of Mist in 2009: 

DRUDKH's second full-length of folk-influenced melodies and cinematic and luxuriant atmospheres (“charged with bitterness, melancholy and sorrow”) followed in 2004 when ‘Autumn Aurora’, the album considered by many as DRUDKH's finest,  was released (and re-released on Season Of Mist in 2009): 

Replacing Sinitsky with Amorth on drums and keyboards, and digging yet deeper into Shevchenko's narrative about Ukrainian identity, the group released their next effort, ‘The Swan Road’, in 2005, followed by similarly themed, progressive metal-leaning ‘Blood In Our Wells’ in 2006. Both albums were reissued on Season Of Mist in 2010:

Next, Amorth departed from the band and new members bassist Krechet and drummer Vlad were recruited before the release of ‘Songs Of Grief And Sorrow’ in 2006. The songs which appeared on DRUDKH's fifth album marked a distinctive musical redirection for the band. In order to calm the band's (black metal) fans' nerves, DRUDKH infused enough blastbeats into their next effort, 2007's ‘Estrangement’: 

Their fan-base's doubt was further dealt with on ‘Microcosmos’, released in 2009 via Season Of Mist sub-label Underground Activists:
“And this is where DRUDKH's greatness ultimately emerges from the fog to manifest itself: via the unquestionably foreign (for lack of better word) aesthetic with which the band weaves majestic, slowly evolving melodic themes of unknown origin (“folk” being too simplistic a term) amidst the sparingly used, tired and token black metal elements one does expect, like blastbeat runs, buzzsaw riffing, and tormented vocal rasps. As a result, these rare reversions to black metal “normalcy” wind up giving ‘Microcosmos’ just the sort of sporadic, emotionally cathartic punctuations it needs to humanize its otherwise sweeping, cinematic flow, and keep it from descending into the calculated numbness of soundtrack reverie. Indeed, for a genre (black metal) characterized by grim-faced bands set on showing as little emotion as possible (lest it be violently negative emotion), DRUDKH's astonishingly candid, almost romantic, approach to their craft allows their music to emote and, one might venture, say all that is left unspoken by their aversion to publicity. And going by the rich musical evidence provided on ‘Microcosmos’, perhaps there really is nothing else for DRUDKH to say in interviews, photographs, websites, etc,” [raved Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic – more here]:

DRUDKH couldn’t just rest on their laurels of course and have opted to alter their sound on their next record, 2010's ‘Handful Of Stars’, once again. Moving into a more atmospheric and progressive direction, the Ukrainians found themselves suddenly “accused” of “not sounding like their normal, reliable selves, but rather straddling a fine line between AGALLOCH's ten-year-old blackened folk metal and the market-saturating post-metal of ISIS, CULT OF LUNA etc” by the same Eduardo Rivadavia (more here). Listen to ‘Handful Of Stars’ below and decide for yourselves to which DRUDKH fan-camp you belong. Or just take them as they come: 

DRUDKH's ninth full-length, 2012's ‘Eternal Turn Of The Wheel’, was presented as the band's return to their blackened roots. It was described as “welcomingly raw, wintry and atmospheric, with, it must be noted, a familiar BURZUM-like taint” by About.com's Craig Hayes:
“It’s always a nerve-racking proposition when a band claims to be getting back to their roots – we’ve been left disappointed by that statement countless times. The obvious issue with DRUDKH's decision to look to the past for inspiration is that their early works are highly revered. Expectations are stratospheric, yet slightly unrealistic. DRUDKH have no hope of producing work as electrifying as their first few albums, but that’s not to say there aren’t ample rewards to be found on ‘Eternal Turn Of The Wheel’, as it’s definitely evocative of a more instinctive era from the bands past:” [More here]

DRUDKH features: Roman - guitar, acoustic guitar and keyboards, Thurios – vocals and guitar, Krechet – bass and keyboards and Vlad – drums and keyboards