Netherbird – Hymns of Realms Yonder

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Beginning in 2010, Netherbird has been a band with a full-time lineup.  The current members are Pontus Bizmark Andersson on guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals, Johan Nord on guitars and vocals, Fredrik Andersson on drums, Johan Nephente Fridell on vocals, Tobias Jakobsson on lead guitars and backing vocals, and Micke Andre on bass and vocals.

The new album is “Hymns from Realms Yonder” and it is a merging of the genres of both black and death metal.  The first track is “ Brazen Splendour” and it starts with a bit of a symphonic metal sound but the vocal linguistics are those of death metal. The pace on the song is good with a mid-tempo type of gallop. Almost half way through the song, the band switches pace and slows it down a little, giving the song a bit of a break but not so much that the main elements are forgotten. The eerie bells in the background add a nice touch with the last minute or so picking up the pace into the end of the track. Overall, a good opening track that gives the listener a clue into the mix of mid-tempo black and death metal they can come to expect throughout the album.

The second track is “Sculptors and Spectres” and leads with a more doomish sound to the guitars with less of a gallop and a more straightforward drive.  The beginning of this track is more of an instrumental ode to atmospheric black metal.  At the minute and a half mark the song takes on more of a black metal feel with the guitars screaming ahead only to be reined in after a minute or so.  The track is another mid-tempo black metal track with touches of death metal in the vocals.  The track changes pace and feel a couple of times which help keep away the tedium that normally comes with black metal. Another mix of genres to keep the listener engaged.

The third track called, “Myosotis Scorpioides” starts off with an eerie guitar solo before reaching a gallop more reminiscent of death metal tracks than that of black metal.  At just over five minutes, the track changes pace three times and keeps the listener engaged in the song.  In much the same way, the track, “Swedish Sadness” starts with some childlike keyboards and chanting like that of a churchgoer. The guitars kick in and we get a feel of a more symphonic metal track coming into being. As soon as we decide that we understand the song, we get a bit more doom than we anticipate with a slowing bass line and deeper drums.

The first four tracks on this album give a different look into the band as a whole.  We have elements of black metal, death metal and symphonic metal.  The band is able to pull off all of these genres and keep the songs interesting.

All of the original songs are very well done with “Born Defiant” being that one relatively slow track that the album could do without.  It is not a bad song, but it feels a little out of place amongst the others.

Hymns of Realms Yonder

The only negative aspect of this album is the cover tracks.  The band chooses to cover tracks by Paradise Lost, Sentenced, and Annihilator among others.  These tracks add nothing to the album and in some ways, detract from a very solid album of original tracks.  One can understand wanting to pay homage to a particular band or a song that was played in a live setting but these songs run amok over every genre and do little to help cement the goal of this album. No longer are we presented with tracks that have vital elements of black metal, death metal and symphonic metal, we are now subjected to tracks that while are very good, do not have continuity to the album.

Overall, this album, “Hymns of Realms Yonder” is very good and very listenable.  It is a great amalgamation of blackened death metal.

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Where has the mighty Electric Wizard gone?

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In the very recent past, we had the pleasure of reviewing the latest album from Mad God called “Tales of a Sightless City”. While they may have not been as original as we would have liked, they were true to themselves and did their best to create an album that was fun to listen to and a solid piece of doom.

In general, we are big fans of doom and we find these kind of plodding, slow and low type of tracks really enjoyable and fun to listen to. We started with Black Sabbath and have gone down the rabbit hole of stoner doom as far as Bongzilla and even ventured out on the far reaches of Kyuss, if that is even doom. So when the latest album from Electric Wizard was released upon the world, we were eagerly awaiting the coming riffs and down tuned guitars, bellowing bass lines and the eerie, horror vocals. Based on the title of this review, one may guess that we were relatively unimpressed.

Perhaps all bands have to go through a discovery process and Electric Wizard are finding themselves. The main deviations from their last albums are the vocals are now up front and center and they seemed to have decided upon doom lite as the album is missing some serious riffs. We were not looking for another “Dopethrone” but we did not see the melodic version of this band coming. As much as we wanted to like this album, it left us a little flat. We yearned for the drums to create a solid base from which the fuzzed out guitars could layer on top and the vocals would be weaved through the fabric of the song creating a moving tapestry of sound. Instead, we listen to the relatively clean vocals, with a melodic drumming serving as the paper mache upon which the bass guitar is precariously placed and finally some toned down guitar is laid on top of the track like a fine meringue.

With the exception of “The Reaper”, none of the tracks do much to differentiate themselves between another. The reaThey are all very nice, solid tracks of doom”ish” material. They contain the elements of doom but never seem to come together. It is much like a non-alcoholic beer; it is still a beer but something is missing.

We spend a lot of time wishing for things to remain the same and, perhaps, that is our issue. We want the band to create another amazingly heavy, dense slab of doom that envelopes one in its cocoon of fuzz only letting in wisps of smoke from the hookah to keep one alive. Electric Wizard have created an album of doom which would be the appetizer in a seven course feast.

The Body and Full of Hell – Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light

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In today’s world of transparency, we feel the need to begin this review with the fact that we don’t necessarily like or listen to a lot of “noise” bands.  We were originally drawn to this album as it contained the work of Full of Hell, a band that we quite enjoy.  To be sure, we never expected the songs that our eardrums were exposed to to be lacking in anything that was reminiscent of intelligible vocals, rhythm or melody.

“Noise” as a genre leaves us a little befuddled.  There seems to be a main theme in each track but it lies hidden behind a cacophony of sound.  Each track could be moved from one place to another on the album and we are not sure it would make a difference.  The tracks don’t seem to have any cohesion and we are not sure what makes one different from the other.  For example, over the multiple plays that we endured, the music failed to stand out; it seemed to be relegated to the background noise of everyday life.  We listened to the entire album in our offices, in our vehicles, in our homes and every time, after the first two or three tracks, the songs became part of the background noise.  Perhaps this is the point and we are not bright enough to see it.

The first track, “Light Penetrates”, starts off with a sort of synthesized guitar part and has a drum track that helps to fill in the emptiness. The vocals are screams of some words that are indecipherable to the average listener. This continues for a full three minutes to have the song end with screeches from a badly out of tune saxophone.  As the first song ends and the second track starts, there is enough of a break to delineate a new song but the main components are the same. The second track starts with a metronome and explodes with smashing drums and synthesized guitars. The vocals on the second track are a bit more easily recognized as words but we were still not completely sure as to what was being said.

We could go on like this through the entire album.  Each track seems to have a base with other sounds layered over the top and finally lyrics screamed over the top of the entire mix.  This is not an entirely unenjoyable listening experience but it does leave us a little perplexed.  Both of these bands do have talent and we were hoping for a little more structured approach.

All in all, this effort by The Body and Full of Hell left us a little empty.  As a comparison, we really enjoyed the album from Anaal Nathrakh – “The Whole of the Law”, as we found that to be a rather enjoyable listening experience that kept us involved and engaged.  To be sure, we are not huge fans of “noise” so we feel that this review may be a little harsh but this album was not what we were expecting nor did it do enough to keep us engaged.

Mad God – “Tales of a Sightless City”

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Another in the long line of worshippers at the altar of Black Sabbath, the first full-length offering by Johannesburg, South Africa’s own, Mad God is “Tales of a Sightless City”.  Originated in 2014 by Patrick Stephanson and Tim Harbour and later joined by Jarrod Beaton, the bands songs revolve around the typical doom topics of H.P. Lovecraft, the occult, drugs and space.

The first track off the album, “Tales of a Sightless City” sounds and feels like a direct ode to Black Sabbath, from the opening wail to the change in tempo, it is nearly a perfect replica of early Sabbath.  The starting bass line reminds one of “N.I.B.” off Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. As the song makes its way through the opening stanzas, the singer does little to elevate this above a veiled remix of early era Sabbath.

Limerence by Mad God

In general, we have a reverence for all of the early Black Sabbath songs and we understand the influence that they had on many bands.  However, if you want to merely cover the tracks, it would be beneficial to add your own sound and create something that resembles the song.  The second track, Green Guardian, is very close to “Sweet Leaf” or “Fairies Wear Boots”, as it picks up the pace just a little so as to be more of a melodic doom and less of a slow and low track.  The band also intersperses distorted sound clips from films to help build an eerie feeling.

The title track, “Tales of a Sightless City” is a more traditional slow and low type of dirge coming in at over 13 minutes in length.  The band is really quite good at keeping the listener interested during the span of the track by changing the tempo just enough so that it doesn’t become repetitive and boring.  Around the nine-minute mark, the tempo makes a marked change and the song picks up some steam.  It is a good segway into the next minute or so until we are subjected to some sort of guitar solo that turns into an annoying mess about three minutes before the end of the track.  The solo started out well-intentioned but it wrapped up in a distorted mess which left us wanting the track to end.  We were given a reprieve for a minute and then the distorted guitar made another appearance, rushing the track to its end.

The fourth and fifth tracks of the album are not really anything different from the rest of the tracks.  They are not bad, they are just the same as the rest of this album. “Nebula Riders” and “Entity of Smoke and Blood” are the fourth and fifth tracks, respectively, and do nothing to stand out from the crowd.  At seven minutes each, these two songs could have been so much more but they kind of fell flat.

“Tales of a Sightless City” comes as of not much more than a tribute to Black Sabbath.  That being said, the band has some obvious skills and as a genre, we tend to really like doom when it is done with just a bit more creativity.  Mad God seem to be stuck in that place where they are not as heavy as Electric Wizard nor are they drenched in smoke as, say, Bongzilla and they do not have the speed of High on Fire.  They are a middle-of-the-road doom band that has skills but seem to be lacking in originality.

Are We Making A Difference?

Today, we had the opportunity to have some interaction with a true metal fan.  He asked, “What do you do?”  When we explained that we were trying to help metal reach more of a mainstream audience, he curtly stated that metal has been, and always will be, underground. It is a music of the people, for the people, and it should not be bastardized by making it accessible to everyone.  We then tried to explain that we were in the business of helping bands increase their fanbases.  He asked us how we went about that and we replied that we used Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to help the bands find more fans.  We could imagine this gentleman laughing at our response as he retorted that if we were marketing to other metal fans, you had a very small market and the crossover was not going to be meaningful.

In another exchange, he suggested that we “sound – with respect – like a moron.” To be honest, we did not appreciate this label but rather than lash out at the messenger, we listened to the message.  We were receiving honest feedback and needed to be open to it.  After giving it some thought, we decided he was right!  We had made a mistake in stating our purpose as bringing metal to the mainstream, what we wanted to do was help bands find more fans and not move the genre towards the middle of society.

Once we made the changes, it seems that sparked another thought as the man suggested that we add another adjective to our profile in order to give others a clearer idea of our purpose.  Again, we took the message to heart and we did make the change.  Now our profile is one that better reflects our true purpose, “Hellion Media Group has set out to take the overarching genre of heavy metal and help these bands widen and deepen their fanbases.”

The back and forth with this gentleman really took us back and made us think.  Are we really making a difference?  Are we just screaming into the void or do our efforts to promote the genre of heavy metal produce results?  We have received many kudos for taking the time to promote a band or a song but we are not sure if all of our work is making a difference.

We would love to hear from you and get your feedback.  Do you appreciate our efforts?  Do you find them to be meaningful or are we merely filling your feed with annoyances and bands, tracks or albums that you have no interest in?

Why we do what we do.

It seems like only a few weeks ago, we read a post on Facebook by Wes Jaques, better known as the Metal Moose, as to the reason that he continues to promote unsigned bands on his podcast which is nationally broadcast on iTunes, Spreaker, YouTube, etc. He stated that he did not make any money from his venture nor did he achieve much of anything other than some limited notoriety.  He operates on the premise that he is promoting artists, bands and music that he genuinely likes in the hopes of helping them attain a larger audience and perhaps helping them obtain a recording contract with a label.  It is his adoration of metal music that keeps him putting out amazing podcasts each week.

You may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Hellion Media Group?” After reading the post from the Metal Moose, we were inspired to write about our journey.  The owner of this company attended his very first “heavy metal” concert at the tender age of 15, it was a show of epic awesomeness highlighted by Quiet Riot.  The energy of the band and that of the crowd left an indelible mark on the owner and it started a love affair with a genre of music that often left him feeling alone.  As it was the middle of the ’80’s, there was not a lot of love for the heavy metal genre.  So, he was left to find out about other heavy metal bands on his own.  He spent his weekends looking for different bands that could capture the same feeling he had at his first concert.  Eventually, he found other bands, and other people, which enjoyed the same types of music.  He was introduced to the more extreme side of metal in the late 80’s and the early 90’s with his introduction to Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, King Diamond and Dio.  These were great times but they came to an end too soon as “hair metal” took over the airways.  He continued to find other lesser known bands and follow them for as long as they were around.  He ventured into small, dingy clubs standing for hours to see and hear some amazing and some not so amazing bands.  All of this time, he had managed to obtain a degree from college and had started working in Corporate America.

As we jump ahead a number of years, the owner still has a career in Corporate America but he wanted to do more to help those bands that were so instrumental in helping him through so many years of his life.  He still attends many concerts and tries to get in touch with as many bands as possible.  He started this venture to promote those bands that don’t get any radio airplay in the hopes that they will get picked up by a label.  There is virtually no money in this type of business but it has never been about the money.  It is about helping out bands that are just looking for a little support in their dream.  The owner has had the opportunity to see some amazing bands including but not limited to Black Fast, Bongzilla, Mothership and countless other lesser-known death metal acts.  This business is a labor of love and as long as we continue to obtain a little recognition from the bands, as well as our fans and followers, we will continue to promote those bands that need a little help to become the next big thing.

 

Review: PRIMITIVE MAN – “Caustic” — SVBTERRANEAN

Denver’s Primitive Man reach the apex of their insurmountably heavy and unflinchingly misanthropic and demoralizing sound with their aptly titled sophomore full-length, Caustic. Due to their intense, foreboding sound and visual style and prolific nature, Primitive Man have been making quite the name for themselves and have been turning more and more heads as time […]

via Review: PRIMITIVE MAN – “Caustic” — SVBTERRANEAN

Paradise Lost – “Medusa”, a review

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Paradise Lost has been around for almost 30 years and in that time, they have worked on perfecting the combination of death and doom metal.  Their discography starts with “Lost Paradise” from 1990 and continues through their latest release, “Medusa” in 2017.

The latest album, “Medusa”, out and available through Nuclear Blast, has some big shoes to fill as the last album, “The Plague Within” was extremely well-written and offered some terrific examples of death and doom convalescing in the same track. The album opens with “Fearless Sky”, a track drenched in terrific imagery through a confession from a member of the clergy.  The guitars are the perfect pitch of sludginess and the tempo change around the six-minute mark gives the track a different feel that offsets the slow movement with a dash of death.  A little more than halfway through the second track, the dirge of doom is upended by a tempo change and a groove illuminates the influence of death. This process is repeated through almost all the tracks.  This helps to give the tracks a depth and helps the listener remain involved in the listening to the track.  The third track, “From the Gallows”, is a short track but contains a very nice guitar solo.  Though abbreviated, this track follows more along the lines of a traditional death metal song rather than that of doom.  One of our favorite tracks on this album is “The Longest Winter”, the fourth track.  It follows the same pattern as those before and after by starting out with a slow and low attack on guitar.  It also allows vocalist Nick Holmes the ability to showcase his versatility and range.  He mixes some upper range vocals with his distinct lower range growling vocals to create a fantastic feeling.  The title track falls directly in the middle of the album.  The track follows the pattern of a slow doom track then interjects a nicely done guitar solo and an interlude of up-tempo death metal to keep the listener on their toes.

Overall, the album is a fine example of the marriage between doom and death.  The songs are tied together, thematically, and the lyrics are consistent throughout the record.  While this album may not reach the peak of “The Plague Within”, it is worth owning and a welcome addition to any collection.

We love the Kardashians and their metal clothes!

We believe that everyone in the metal community is getting it wrong! We feel that we, the metalheads of our community, need to get behind the influence that these women, Kim Lardashian and Kylie Jenner, have and use it for our benefit. 

How did you hear about a new metal band? Perhaps, you saw a review in a magazine or you saw an interesting album cover while browsing in a store. One of our owners actually bought his first Celtic Frost album, Morbid Tales, on cassette because it had a great cover photo. Another time he saw a shirt on a metal fan of Jethro Tull and so he gave the album a try. (It was Heavy Horses.) What does this have to do with the Kardashians? These women have millions of followers on social media. If they decide to wear shirts or sweaters of metal bands, this will only increase the exposure of these bands and this genre. An increase in the knowledge of certain bands does not harm the band, the fans of the band or the metal community. We need to stop being so romantic with regards to “our” bands and “our” music. Growth is good! Any new fans of heavy metal are to be welcomed. It should not matter how they heard about the band. 

One could argue that the metal community needs to work with these women and use them as vehicles to get noticed. Do you realize how much these women get paid to wear a product or promote a brand? Metal bands should be willing to have their shirts worn for free! In fact, a really smart band would work with these women and have special shirts made as a way to increase their notoriety. In addition, these bands could generate passive income from the sales of these shirts. 


Gary Holt may “hate” and want to “kill” the Kardashians but they have provided a new outlet from which to get new fans for a band that has been around for over 30 years. Also, if Sharon Osborne were such a great manager and money mind, she would have sold Ozzy’s likeness to the Kardashians or Jenners and received royalties for the rest of her life. 

We realize that a lot of metal fans are more comfortable being on the fringe of society and perhaps this is why they despise these characters so much. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that bands make music because they love it but they also need to put food on the table and pay their bills. Keep an open mind as you never know when an opportunity will come along or who will be repping your favorite band.