July 30, 2014

HAVE NO FEAR OF THE DEVIL: King Dude - Fear (2014)

"Folk singer turned rock'n'roll for Lucifer"

For the first time since I've been listening to his music, I feel the above description, which can be found on his Bandcamp page, finally suits King Dude's style like a studded leather glove. I don't necessarily mean the last bit - His Dudeness has always been all about holding hands with the Devil. But Fear is the album which finally unlocks the real rock'n'roll in his music.

For those of you unfamiliar with King Dude, his music could be described as dark folk and it's mostly just him, an acoustic guitar, lots of  reverb and unsettling lyrics dealing with the occult and feelings best left seeping in some deep corner of the soul. His latest album sees King Dude trade his acoustic guitar for an electric in more than one occasion and there's no denying that this is the loudest and noisiest his music has ever been. The groove factor is also turned way up on Fear and many songs, like Demon Caller Number 9 or Bottomless Pit, will make you feel like doing the boogie in a graveyard at midnight, dancing with witches and skeletons under the pale moon light. Other times, the music is strangely hip and radio-friendly, like on the beautiful and melancholic Never Run, a sentimental ode for the girl that's always there, no matter what. That's no surprise, as King Dude was always really good at conjuring fantastic, imaginary love stories (Barbara Anne from the Burning Daylight album is a great example, a love declaration set in a dark and gothic Wild West). The song which would satisfy the Devil's desire to headbang the most is definitely Fear Is All You Know, a menacing and electrifying piece that opens up the album on a threatening note and which ends up being one of the highlights of Fear and probably one of my favorite songs from His Royal Dudeness entire career. I probably shouldn't forget to mention that his voice is as gorgeous as ever, able to go from bitter rasps to loving whispers and always able to convey emotions and, more often than not, a weird feeling of dread and unease.

Barbara Anne, Lucifer Is the Light of the World, Jesus in the Courtyard and River of Gold will always be my favorite songs from this stellar singer and composer, but I'm happy that Fear has turned out to be such a good album, even though it feels different from his previous work. It goes through many different moods, from menacing to pretty (woah, I forgot to mention Maria, another excellent song from this album) to loving to depressing to eerie, but it manages to be a coherent and entertaining experience and a worthy addition to King Dude's solid discography.

With light,


POST #666: Lord Mantis - Death Mask (2014)


I’m briefly back from the corporate trenches (it’s brutal out there) and, seeing as it’s been more than a month since I’ve written something on here, I figured I’d do well and contribute to the festering pit that TZEEEAC has become. I’m having a really hard time mustering enough energy and motivation to write here on a regular basis, but one post every once in a while is doable, especially as I’ve amassed a pretty hefty backlog of stuff I wanna share and talk about.

Also, this momentary return to form happens to be the 666th post on TZEEEAC, so I thought “hey, what better way to celebrate this milestone than with some fucking horrible death metal album that will creep everyone and their dog out?”

Thus I give you Lord Mantis. A relatively new death metal outfit bred in the sewers of Chicago that have gained quite a bit of accolades for their efforts, especially 2012’s Pervertor. This year, they have returned with their third album, Death Mask, and a lot of people seemed to have lost their shit about the cover art, mainly because there’s a dong on it. The artist responsible for this nasty painting is none other than Wrest aka Jef Whitehead aka that dude from Leviathan and more importantly Lurker of Chalice. It’s pretty cool, I guess, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the cover art on Pervertor, penned by the mighty Justin Bartlett aka VBERKVLT and which featured deformed creatures feasting on the remains of some sort of crucified Jesus-like abomination. Not sure why I just typed this entire thing, but you should definitely check out Justin Bartlett’s stellar work. Do so while also listening to Lurker of Chalice and now we’re in business.

As for the music itself, Death Mask is a really weird beast and the best I can describe it is a filthy, gooey mixture of death metal, oozing sludge and earth-shaking drone with a hefty dose of doom metal and some odd bits of noise and industrial-type stuff thrown in. Most of the time, the riffs are fuzzy, very repetitive, pummeling as fuck and drowned in reverb. The drumming feels like being run over by stampeding mammoths and the vocals are some of the most infected, distorted and vile snarls I have heard on an album this year. The songs are long enough to allow these combined elements to reach their full potential and effects and a complete listen of Death Mask will leave you feeling weakened and disgusted. Album closer Three Crosses brings in some – dare I say? – beautiful guitar leads, but the most fun I’ve had with this opus lies in the first three tracks, which caused me much dismay and also made me wonder if maybe Lord Mantis are pioneering a new genre of music situated at the crossroads between drone, noise and death metal. Body Choke is especially brutal – it feels like being choked and stomped on for nearly 9 minutes with no respite. Love every minute of it.

Not sure yet if this album will make my end-of-the-year list (although I’m convinced many online publications will have a rightful spot for it on their lists), but you should definitely check it out because it is one of the more unique-sounding death metal albums I’ve encountered recently and it’s oppressive enough to remind you of the first time you listened to Wormphlegm.

July 27, 2014

Year of No Light - Tocsin (2013)

Year of No Light struck a particular personal chord for me with their previous release Ausserwelt. Their unique blend of sludge, doom and post rock, all held together by a drone background and layers upon layers of dueling guitars, that album was a different kind monster (especially the first half). 

The same formula is kept on Tocsin, with zero vocals and two drum sets as distinctive marks from these french lads, however its a slower, more brooding journey than Ausserwelt ever was. Tracks such as 'Desolation' and 'Stella Rectrix' serve the listener from a meditative point rather than anything else metal related and while all the elements are there to form a great album, I simply can't shake the feeling that they held back on the melodies somehow. Dare I say it, Tocsin feels like the second installment of a triptych, serving a higher purpose than it originally lets out. 

With all that said, should you be interested in this release, you may want to also direct your attention to the aforementioned Ausserwelt. I'll leave a sample from each, just in case I've left you undecided about these guys.

July 13, 2014

Tristania - Darkest White (2013)

Following last week's trend of 'albums that I didn't quite got to listen to', time has come for the latest LP from Gothic doomsters Tristania to take the spotlight (more than a year after its actual release).  And while myself, just as other metalheads around, suffered from cringed induced nausea after hearing their 2010 Rubicon, I was also 'fortunate' enough to hear them live at that time and realized that passing judgement at such a point in their career would be unprofessional to say the least. As such, I decided to wait for a second album in their newly found formula.

And I'm glad I did, as 'Darkest White' finds the band in a more relaxed posture, each member having settled comfortably in their role, with productive ideas being put 'pen to paper' and actual metal songs being recorded, rather than chugga-chugga riffs with pop vocals thrown over them at random. Mariangela's voice sounds appropriate to the whole ensemble now and they did right in balancing correctly the three types of vocals present on this album (male harsh, male clean and female clean). Hell, there are even some songs where Mariangela doesn't even appear and this says much about the effort put in to create a coherent album rather than relying on her image to generate sells.

With this said, what we get is an LP comprised of eleven focused songs that range from 'good' to 'tastefully delicious' to 'damn it that chorus just rocks!' to 'holy shit dat headbanging riff!'. While not a masterpiece by any definition, 'Darkest White' is a turning point for the new and modern age Tristania crew, one that starts in full force and gradually gets better up until the ending moments. Which, in turn, makes me eager to hear what they will come up with during the following years.

July 4, 2014

Desiderii Marginis - Procession (2012)

I'm starting to catch up with albums I've put off for quite a while now and first to go is Procession, the 'latest' (since it's already two years old now) offering from my favorite ambient artist, Johan Levin. If you're not familiar with the project, here's a review of one of his previous albums I did sometime ago. Take it with a pinch of salt.

'Procession' is, by right, quickly identifiable for anybody who has listened to DM before. and I'm happy to report that the style portrayed here is somewhat closer to the first released albums. The sound is somber, without any apparent hooks or bravados, yet it works well as the core structure is retained to electronic instruments only, throwing way any and all real life similarities one might think of (well, aside from the title track with its infectious melody). It will simply drone, buzz and churn away in an off-beat key, always leaving room for more.

And that's why I like it as much as any of Johan's previous efforts, even if it might not equal them in complexion or originality.