The Last Reign – Evolution

The Last Reign – Evolution
Self-Released
Release Date: 18/09/2020
Running Time: 54:25
Review by Victor Augusto
8.5/10

Here it is! 2021! And finally, we can leave the last insane year behind. As always, I use this time to stop for a while and think about everything that’s happened throughout the year, not only in my personal life, but also in all my work on reviews and interviews. Probably you will hear me saying that I need to improve in many areas, because I will never feel like I am doing it properly! Even though I’ve revised a few plans, there are still some simple things that I wish to stay the same. One of them is the desire to be surprised with something exciting in an album, that I find on the first listen, when writing a review. However, when I first got this album, I didn’t find it ‘different’ to start with, and I have to confess that it took some weeks until I finally got that ‘surprise’, and I will explain why. So, here we go!

First, when I talk about not be impressed straight away, it is nothing related to the quality of the band. That is unquestionable. And I loved their music right from the first song. Focusing on the album as a whole, “Evolution” has the sound of the best kind of Swedish Melodic Death Metal, which appeared during the nineties. I could hear a mix of the dark atmosphere from bands like Dark Tranquility, for example. When it comes to the arrangements, this album reminded me a bit of Entombed, and another Swedish influence that I could feel was At The Gates and The Crown, in regard to the aggressiveness and punch, over all the sonority. With these incredible bands that I’ve mentioned, you’ll probably already have an idea how great this album is.

The instrumental intro on ‘Genesis’ is very dense with the sound growing until it explodes into the song ‘Evolution Of A Dying Race’ that is pretty brutal. Actually, the entire album is extremely aggressive, mainly because of the work of the drummer, Vince Mayer. This guy is a relentless machine! He plays fast the entire album. When the rest of the band seems to slow down, he increases his parts. An example of this is in ‘The Hourglass’, where he keeps destroying his drum kit while the rest of the band slows!

The guitar sound in this album is another highlight. Brian Platter does an amazing job with the wall of heaviness, and he fits in interesting melodies, and short solos, to give a new perspective to the music.

Adam Svensson does a good job on vocals with his interpretation, although there are not so many variations in his voice, but it does fit pretty well in the band’s idea of sonority. The only negative point (maybe not so positive) is the bass of Joe Maggio being a little hidden among the dense heaviness of the band. Considering he plays very well, and the band has just one guitar, I wish it could be loud, and have more independent parts, like I heard in a few parts of ‘Ironclad Torment’. It could offer a good dynamic, different from the guitar lines, and maybe the atmosphere that the band creates asks for this kind of sound. However, that is just a matter of taste and it is still an amazing work by Mr. Maggio.

Now let’s get to what really surprised me. The Last Reign is an American band. Yes, this simple detail shocked me. Most American Death Metal bands I’ve heard are extremely brutal. I guess the fact I am a huge fan of the great scene that came from Tampa in the early nineties made me relate Death with those bands, but I could feel this kind of brutality pretty sublimely in The Last Reign’s music. They really brought all the elements from the mentioned melodic Death Metal, but there are a few aggressive lines diluted over it, and that is what I think is cool, the mix of two very different worlds in the same album. Sometimes they even add a versatility from Thrash Metal, as you can hear on the drums during ‘Terminal Threshold’, and I think versatility is the best word to define Vince’s work in this album.

Another detail that pleased me is how all the songs are very well worked. There is not a single weak song. There is no song composed just to complete the album. All tracks are amazing, and you will have fun until the last song ‘Architects of Genocide’ which is an absolute killer! By the way, if you start listening to this album from the last track, going back to the first song, you will have fun in the same way. All these details, together with amazing production, is what makes “Evolution” an incredible album, and I hope it surprises you as much as it surprised me.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Genesis
02. Evolution Of A Dying Race
03. Annihilation Of The Ancients
04. Ironclad Torment
05. The Hourglass
06. Fallen Dark
07. No Horizon
08. Terminal Threshold
09. The Storm
10. Devoid
11. Luminosity
12. Architects Of Genocide

LINE-UP:
Adam Svensson – Vocals
Brian Platter – Guitars
Joe Maggio – Bass
Vince Mayer – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Victor Augusto and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination

Wilderun – Veil Of Imagination
Century Media Records
Release Date: 17/07/2020
Running Time: 66:12
Review by Beth Jones
11 /10

“There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
       The earth, and every common sight,
                          To me did seem
                      Apparelled in celestial light,
            The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
                      Turn wheresoe’er I may,
                          By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.”

Yup! Wordsworth. ‘But why?!’ I hear you cry. Well, when you put on an album to find the first track is almost 15 minutes long and opens with a recitation of a verse from one of the greatest poets ever to have lived, you know you’re going to be in for something special. So special in fact, that I am struggling to find a suitable way to even start talking about it! So, I’ll begin at the beginning.

For those not in the know, Wilderun are a Melodic Death Metal band from Boston, Massachusetts, who chuck more than a hint of prog, folk, and orchestral elements into the mix, in order to create their sound. They’ve been around since 2012, and “Veil Of imagination” is their third album release. They have recently joined Century Media, and the album is now to be re-released through them. They’re Opeth meets Devin Townsend and anything in between, and I think this is possibly the most excited I have been about an album since Devin’s ‘Empath’ dropped!

This masterpiece is seriously epic from the start. Following the delicate and beautifully poised recitation, the opening track leads in with acoustic guitar, and solitary violin, which begin to build with the addition of soft vocals, more string. Then orchestral instruments, and floating choral harmonies before burst into full on, speed drumming and some serious guitar riffage and growling vocals, all in a more complex time signature, exuberating prog and oozing musicianship.

This carries on, and flows into the second track, ‘O Resolution!’ with ease. I can’t be completely sure, but I’m pretty certain I can here pipe organ within the depths of all the other instrumentation on this track. I mean Jesus! How much is it possible to fit in?! It’s ludicrously marvellous in its decadence!!

The dynamic peaks and troughs of this album are on a vast scale, going from full on, in your face, walls of sound, to subtle and tender solitary piano, and lilting vocals, in the blink of an eye. This is less of an album of individual tracks, and more a classical work of art consisting of many movements to make up a full symphony. It’s also not an album that you can listen to just one track alone – it has to be heard in its entirety for the full effect to be appreciated. It tells a story through its orchestration and explores every nuance of emotion as it takes you on a journey through your own imagination. For me this conjures up colours, and scenes of rolling meadows with extraordinary wildlife, medieval battlefields, and tempestuous rolling waves. This is not just music. It’s a fully immersive experience! Just stunningly sublime… I have no other words.

Technically, this album is perfection too. The production, mixing, blending and placement of the individual elements is faultless. The fact that we’ve been sent the files in WAV format rather than MP3 speak volumes about the care and attention that Wilderun pay to their sound. This is illustrated perfectly towards the end of the penultimate track, ‘The Tyranny of Imagination’, where they deliberately overdrive the levels of certain elements, in order to distort the sound. It’s genius-level insanity, but just adds to the impact, and again makes the dynamic shift to the delicacy of the final track more enhanced.

The final track incidentally contains a section of brass, flutes, and strings, and finishes the album off on the same epic scale that it started, because why the fuck not, eh?! They do carry out my pet peeve, the fade, in this last track, but I seriously don’t care here because it fades into spoken word again, followed by random discordant piano, to bring everything to a climax. The fade has a purpose, and not just because they couldn’t work out how to end it, and that is the only occasion on which I will allow a fade to wash over me without a scowl! And if they can break my rule of docking points for a fade, then I too am going to break the rules of logic and the number system by awarding this lavish insanity 11 out of 10! So there!

For me, this album is setting the bar for this year, and possibly for a good few years to come. These guys are not only superbly talented technical musicians, but also gifted composers who set the sky as their limit, and then some! If you want to impress me, make it sound like this!

Tracklisting:
1. The Unimaginable Zero Summer
2. O Resolution!
3. Sleeping Ambassadors of the Sun
4. Scentless Core (Budding)
5. Far from Where Dreams Unfurl
6. Scentless Core (Fading)
7. The Tyranny of Imagination
8. When the Fire and the Rose Were One

Line-up:
Evan Anderson Berry – Vocals, Guitars, Piano 
Dan Müller – Bass, Synths, Orchestrations 
Jon Teachey – Drums 
Joe Gettler – Lead Guitar 
Wayne Ingram – Orchestrations

Links:
www.wilderun.com/
www.facebook.com/OfficialWilderun/
www.twitter.com/wilderunband
www.instagram.com/wilderunband/
www.youtube.com/user/Wilderunband
www.itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wilderun/id569311375
www.amazon.com/Wilderun/e/B00E80N5NW
www.wilderun.bandcamp.com/

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous

The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 17/04/2020
Running Time: 35:53
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

It is pitch black, so dark you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. A sinister pall hangs over the place where I am walking and a hunter’s moon feebly tries to shine down through the scudding clouds and the wind howls through the trees and down the narrow track I traverse. Somewhere in front of me I can hear the hurried breathing of another person. I know where they are. I have been following them for quite some time. Silently and without hurry. My boots make no sound against the damp earth and the smell of petrichor floods my senses. The breathing has turned left and is currently waiting (or concealing themselves) behind a large and venerable oak tree. I stop dead, and make no sound. Not even my breathing is audible. Clad as I am in black from head to foot there is no way I can be seen in the eldritch dark.

Movement! From behind the tree there is a rushed and panicked lurch towards the path. I reach forward, obtain a fistful of hair, pull back and draw my beautiful blade across the exposed throat. When you do this, your victim can still scream. It’s not like in the films where a razor-sharp blade instantly shuts someone up. In reality, you keep sawing until you’re through the windpipe and you’re virtually holding a severed head in your hand. Death is a messy business…

Ah, hello! I didn’t hear you come in. No, it’s not blood, it’s an art installation I’m playing with. Good evening. I’m Dark Juan and you are no doubt here to be educated and entertained by my thoughts on “Verminous”, the latest offering by the rather splendid The Black Dahlia Murder? As I suspected. Please do be seated in this sumptuous wingback chair by the fire and perhaps I can offer you a warming brandy? A rich burgundy? No? Absinthe? As you wish…

TBDM (I keep spelling murder wrong and it’s getting on my tits!) were formed in Waterford, Michigan in 2001, and it was around 2004 that they came to my somewhat dubious attention as a band that were happy to play with genres, much still be heavier than all the female members of your family in their very best depleted uranium pants. “Verminous” is their ninth album release and it really should be illegal under Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties as this is not a record I’m listening to, it’s a fucking weapon! Opening with the title track after a bit of a TBDM hiatus, I’m immediately looking for the skin off my face, because it has been instantly torn off. The band has lost none of the savagery that permeated early releases, instead honing and sharpening their sound, and forming delicate scalpel bladed death machines instead of charging at you and clubbing you to death with the nearest rock. However, here be melody and structure instead of blastbeat driven histrionics. This is a very thoughtful record. On first listen, it’s almost superficially simple, but then you listen again and you hear some magnificently complex arrangements played at warp speed. On repeated listens the album opens up in front of you like a carrion-reeking corpseflower, showing you incredible beauty within the stench. There are simply some sublime arrangements on here. TBDM describe themselves as a melodic death metal band but they are something much, MUCH greater. Effortlessly taking black metal influences, prog, death metal, tech death and classic metal and welding them into some kind of horrific matt black murder machine belching everything short of Zyklon B from its exhausts as it cuts a bloody swathe across an unsuspecting world, TBDM redefine just what extreme metal is. And this is even before you get to the powerhouse vocalist that is Trevor Strnad. A man who appears to be possessed by at least four different demons, judging by how his range encompasses earthquake inducing low tones, the kind of midrange a buzzsaw emits as its blade passes effortlessly through your midsection to the high notes emitted by the swarm of killer hornets currently enveloping your head, plunging their venomous stings deep within it, Strnad remains one of this hellpriest’s favourite vocalists.

The album steamrollers you on the first three tracks. TBDM are out to kill you, pure and simple. How good a strategy this is for creating a fanbase I don’t know, but they are all clearly psychotic and every song is a finely crafted piece of complexity and dare I say delicacy. The violence is placed upon a teetering precipice of musicianship as the band ask the listener the question, “Just how far do you want to go?” The production of the record by the band themselves is another high point. Arctically clear and cold, the production is superb and utterly fits the music although the band have managed to still retain soul and personality in the music – most modern tech or melodic death opts to have a sonically sharp, but utterly lifeless production that shows off the instruments, not the songs. Here the production manages to weld the instruments into a cohesive whole, where no one part overshadows another, yet every instrument has its personality shining though. Bonus marks for excellence.

Highlight of the record for me is the simply hypersexy ‘The Leather Apron’s Scorn’. Six songs in, an extremely complex opening sequence breaks into staggeringly heavy chugging and Strnad howls like he’s about to have an embolism. There’s even fucking cowbell! TBDM literally have covered all bases on this one. It is just staggering, there are time changes, polyrhythms, vocals that go from the depths of hell to the heights of the upper atmosphere before the middle of the song reminds us of classic death metal with the guitar soloing, then there’s some black metal speed and it is just jaw dropping in intensity. This is just ONE song. The whole album is this sonically complex, which is why I have decided to concentrate on just one song. Otherwise we’d be here all fucking day.

Dark Juan is currently just sitting quietly in his seat, staring aimlessly into his computer screen, trying to put words to what he has just heard.

There are no words.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has decided that this is the first record in the history of heavy metal that does not need more cowbell. 10/10.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Verminous
02. Godlessly
03. Removal Of The Oaken Stake
04. Child of Night
05. Sunless Empire
06. The Leather Apron’s Scorn
07. How Very Dead
08. The Wereworm’s Feast
09. A Womb In Dark Chrysalis (Interlude)
10. Dawn Of Rats

LINE-UP:
Trevor Strnad – Vocals
Brian Eschbach – Guitar, Vocals
Max Lavelle – Bass Guitar
Alan Cassidy – Drums
Brandon Ellis – Lead Guitar

LINKS:
www.tbdmofficial.com
www.facebook.com/theblackdahliamurderofficial
www.twitter.com/bdmmetal
www.instagram.com/theblackdahliamurder_official
www.youtube.com/user/blackdahliamurdertv

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.