30 Issues! Took us roughly 12 years to get here, but here we are! As many of you may know by now, and due to popular demand, we have encoded ALL the sound files for our review CD's in RealAudio 5.0. Plus, for those in the media, we are working on an alphabetized list of every band that we have either reviewed or interviewed, so you'll know right where to go when you need tear sheets and press kits for your bands.

Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 30024-0963 USA

We've got lots of changes in store, so hopefully we can keep things interesting around here.


BEHEMOTH "Thelema 6" (Olympic) SCORE: 86/100

"Satanica," the last Behemoth record I was able to hear, absolutely blew me out of the water. I have recently gone back to listen to it again, and it still manages to amaze me. This time around, the Polish obliteration crew have gotten a bit more, shall I say, technical. Not always a good thing for a band this brutal, but the intricacies of the higher end guitar work comes out in many tracks, though they don't always sound great. However, be that as it may, the first four songs start this CD off with a bang, picking right up where they left off on the last album. 'Antichristian Phenomenon' shows us all, as track 1, what Behemoth is made of. Vicious screams, guitar work that's fast and furious as hell, and lyrics that are very insightful and rather philosophical. Nergal gives full lyrics this time and explains the meaning behind each song. 'The Act Of Rebellion' is easily one of my favorites, such a whirlwind of destruction can only come from Behemoth! 'Pan Satyros' shows Behemoth in a new light, namely that their viciousness is just as devastating SLOW, yes that's right, they slow down the instrumentation here. From track 5 on, though, many of the similar speedier structures are repeated, though as I said, on a tune like 'In The Garden Of Dispersion' they can slow things down and still achieve the desired effect. I was quite surprised to even hear a short acoustic passage midway through 'Natural Born Philospopher!' There are 4 bonus tracks for the U.S. release, and the best one here is their Sarcofago cover (which, incidentally, is misnamed on the back CD cover). Those lower effected vocals are truly evil to behold! (More info on that in the accompanying interview). The Bowie cover 'Hello Spaceboy' was very weak though, and I did find the choruses on 'Christians To The Lions' and 'Inaguration Of Scorpio Dome' a bit weak, but overall this should definitely satisfy any rabid Behemoth fan. Wouldn't you rather see Behemoth on the Marduk tour in the States than Diabolic anyway?
Contact: Olympic Records.

BENEDICTION "Organized Chaos" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 95/100

One of the last few CD's I got from Nuclear Blast that weren't chopped to bits, this band's latest release really impressed the hell outta me. This time around I think they have finally shaken off the Napalm Death comparisons which they have been unfortunately plagued with their whole career. Their choice of vocalist this time around displays a rather angry hardcore style, however he does prove he can dip into some low end death metal vocals (witness this on 'Charon,' unfortunately he doesn't utilize this too often!) but overall this has a thrashy, death metal meets hardcore flavor that really kicks ass! Only one track didn't work very well, it was 'Easy Way To Die,' starts out with some acoustic guitars and is a very slow track. It never goes anywhere and the vocal delivery doesn't work here. The guitar work is quite thrashy and there are plenty of rapid fire, choppy riffs at times, not unlike Obituary's faster playing. In fact, I coulda sworn that 'Don't Look In The Mirror' was actually Obituary's 'Slowly We Rot.' Some of their slower moments get extremely heavy, like on 'I Am The Disease,' where he does some really guttural vocal effects. I think they're electronically enhanced, and they work great. Such an evil aura throughout this 6 minute song! Some of their tracks do exceed the 5 minute length, but this is really no problem. Just check out 'Nothing On The Inside' and their shorter numbers (little over 2 minutes) like 'The Temple Of Set' and 'Charon,' and 'Diary Of A Killer' has some interesting lyrics. All in all I was very impressed with a band I haven't paid much attention to before, even though I have "Grind Bastards" around here somewhere.
Contact: Nuclear Blast America.

BOLT THROWER "Honour-Valor-Pride" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 98/100

I was very excited when it was announced that Bolt Thrower was signing with Metal Blade. This is simply a fantastic album, and proves that there is no such thing as a bad Bolt Thrower album. When I first listened to it I was caught off guard by the vocals, they picked up longtime Benediction front man Gavin Ward, and I must say that his vocal style really fits. Bolt Thrower does it well both fast and slow, and never gets too chaotic or out of control. Very tight and technical death metal, oozing with class and some vicious guitar work. And yes, metal babe Jo Bench is still in the band! 'Contact-Wait Out' starts things off with a bang, and there's some really heavy guitar work in here. The lead solos are what impressed me the most, as they are exceptionally well done, and not typical 5,000 notes a second, show off like Yngwie would do. I didn't really dig some of the faster guitar riffs on 'Valour,' but it's really a minor point or two off. There's some viciously evil slow riffs going on the track 'Suspect Hostile,' and it all flows together really well, is tremendously varied from song to song, and there's not much more you really need to know.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

BRAINDANCE "Redemption" (Progressive Darkwave) SCORE: 71/100

This band has one of the most exhaustive campaigning trails I have ever seen. It seems like I got a new email every other week from this band, and they seem to have had every magazine known to man on their email list. Though this disc suffers from some mediocrity, it's not hard to see what all the buzz was about. This band comes off like a more electronic form of Danzig meets Type O Negative type of metal, being much more effective in the industrial department than old 'Zig ever could. The first 4 tunes are indicative of the creative genius of this band. 'Refraction' starts this off and asks the question: Is it gothic? gothic metal? electro-gothic-metal? Whatever. The vocal work definitely stands out; though this guy can dip quite low, he never ends up sounding like a clone of Type O's Steel, and whether his vocals are electronically enhanced or not, one cannot say. And yes, there are guitars here too. Electronics play a rather large part in track 2 'Resurrection.' They definitely know how to combine catchy melody with sonic "metal" heaviness. After track 4, things start to slide downhill a bit. 'Relentless' has some catchy choruses, but they do the silly opening train noises and the lyrical framework was not as good as the concepts they portray on the other tracks. Then there is a three minute track of nothing but movie and T.V. samples thrown together in an interesting way, but I don't think you'll want to hear it more than a few times. And why did they think we wanted to hear a remix of 'Relentless?' It's not really a true remix anyway, they just threw some extra samples in the song, it still has the same lyrics and vocal patterns. Track nine is an instrumental that seems to go nowhere, and 'Reflexion' had nice horror movie styled organs and good heavy guitar work, but the songs was just slightly above average. However, the finest feather in this band's cap is 'Redemption' which would have been the BEST track on Type O's "October Rust" album had THEY recorded it instead. Great moods, fantastic vocal work and amazing instrumentation, words cannot do this song justice and you KNOW it's been digitized for ya. Though there aren't very many "terrible" songs, this CD falls just short of the potential that blazes through little over half this disc. I'm probably being just a bit too generous by the 71 score, considering that anything 75 and up is a keeper. Regardless, I will spin this CD for the few great tracks it contains...
Contact: Progressive Darkwave, 215 Thompson St. Suite 11, NYC, NY 10012
Web site:

CARNAL FORGE "Please...Die!" (Century Media) SCORE: 64/100

I was so blown away by their "Firedemon" album, it was the definition of precise sonic obliteration. By comparison, the newest cuts off of "Please... Die!" are so speed oriented it seems to me to have lost a lot of focus. It was a bit pretentious of them to start right off the bat just speeding away, and it made for a rather sloppy start. However, a new twist on this record is the very low death growling that is such an ominous force, it gave new life to tracks like 'Fuel For Fire' and 'A World All Soaked In Blood.' The speedier elements are presented in such force that it does take away the impact that they delivered on "Firedemon," after all, it's what made songs like 'Covered With Fire' and the title track 'Firedemon' just cave my skull in repeatedly. Something got lost in the translation here. There are still incredible cuts to be found here, 'Becoming Dust' most notable among them, with those choppy, rapid fire guitar riffs that were all over "Firedemon" and more recently heard in Invocator's "Weave The Apocalypse" album. I hear lots of previous album influences, but not enough, and I guess it's hard to continue this style of music without changing something to keep things fresh. Not every song is a speed fest, though, the title track "Please...Die' starts things off at a slower pace, and of course Jonas' vicious screams and vocal work can't be ignored. They even had the balls to include some melodic riffs, though I think the term they would use would be "harmony," on tunes like 'Hand Of Doom' and 'Becoming Dust.' I'm a bit more disappointed than the score would show considering I ate the Century Media debut for breakfast on a daily basis.
Contact: Century Media Records.

CEVIN KEY "The Ghost Of Each Room" (Metropolis) SCORE: 23/100

The core members of Skinny Puppy always seemed a bit over the edge, and if you have ever seen their live performances, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Nothing could have prepared me for this jumbled up, horrid mess that I still don't know exactly what genre it encompasses. I'll give points, albeit a very few, where they are due, he does manage to pull a few decent ambient synthscapes out, like on tracks 'cccc4' and 'Frozen Sky,' the latter is really the only decent "song" (and I use that term VERY loosely) on this album. The beat structures are among some of the wierdest I have ever heard, and I don't know that that's always a good thing. 'bObs Shadow' starts this off with some wierd ghost noises and a possible club piece, though it's nothing I'd want to listen to again. Guitars of the distorted variety pop up on 'Frozen Sky,' but overall this is just such a wierd composition that I can't find myself wanting to pick it up again for any reason. '15th Shade' seems to be Cevin's attempt at making some japanese noisecore make sense, thank god the instrumentation soon bottoms out but the spoken vocals and guitar work does nothing for me here. I think Cevin may have experienced creativity lapses, for this is such a mess.
Contact: Metropolis Records.
Web site:

DEW SCENTED "Inwards" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 85/100

For those of you looking for the follow up to Slayer's "Reign In Blood," you may need look no further. A pretty consistent release through and through, you'll find yourself picking parts of the thrashy guitar riffs apart and naming songs for sure. The vocals around here border on hardcore and death metal, which makes for an interesting combination. 'Bitter Conflict' starts this out and it never stops from there. My favorite tracks are 'Life Ending Path' and 'Locked In Motion,' those two songs have some of the best riffs and I just love it when a band uses those start-stop-start riff patterns that are seemingly seldom heard anymore. By the CD's end, though, you're wondering if you can sit through ten tracks of this, as I said it really never lets up. The band definitely takes a one dimensional approach and I think had I heard this a few years after "Reign In Blood" came out I would have appreciated it even more, however I think these days bands like Dark Tranquility, Soilwork and even Opeth have done a better job of keeping the heavier side of things more interesting with the myriad of elements thrown into the mix. Still, you can't deny that it's not all a speed fest, when tracks like 'Feeling Not' and 'Reprisal' manage to slow things down a tad. Still, 'Terminal Mindstrip' is an example of a song that was run just a little bit too long, at over 5 minutes, with all that speed, it seems like much longer than 5 minutes. A damn solid effort though, and proving once again that Europe seems to be the innovator of hard and heavy music.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE "Death's Design" (Olympic) SCORE: 95/100

I've listened to this CD so much, I can do this review in my sleep. A licensing deal from Avantgarde Music, this is produced by none other than Dan Swano. For many of you who are familiar with Dan's work, I may have said all I need to say to get you to run out and buy this thing. For the not so nearly convinced (and you would have assuredly convinced ME that you haven't heard Dan's other projects, like Panthymonium, Nightingale, Edge Of Sanity, and the hundreds of other albums he's produced) this is a somewhat vicious black metal soundtrack for who knows what kind of film. It's all Blakkheim's project, but Dan does a few guitar parts, and I swear on 'The Inverted Dream' that that is Dan Swano doing singing vocals! This is a massive 61 track CD, divided into 20 movements. Lemme just run down the highlights: The 8th Movement, featuring 'Old People's Voodoo Seance,' and 'Possession of The Voodoo Party,' features some wild percussion, voodoo/New Orleans sounding guitar riffs, and Swano himself playing excellent guitar. 'Spinning Back The Clocks' features some excellent guitar work and sounds like, well, a clock ticking. Mostly black vocals are featured here, but just as you're likely to hear singing vocals, don't be surprised to find rich synthesized orchestration and the occasional electronica influence. This is, after all, a soundtrack. The 16th Movement is most notable for the Egyptian theme running amok, and the only bad part of the CD is the 7th Movement, where the instrumentation is a little on the slow and dragging on side. All in all, quite a diverse piece of work for black metal, and one that not only kicks ass, but has the balls to change tempo, atmosphere, AND melody with the song title. Can't wait to see what movie THIS is attached to. NOTE: Digitizing for this CD occurs in movements, there may be 3 or 4 songs per movement, but each song seldom dips over the 2 minute mark, many "songs" indeed last no more than a minute.
Contact: Olympic Recordings.
Web site:

DISINTER "Demonic Portraiture" (Morbid) SCORE: 61/100

Hailing from Chicago of all places, this death metal band pretty much relies on speed to get them through the night. Blasting speed at that, almost at a grindcore pace. They do have some interesting riff structures present when they decide they don't always have to play at 100 miles per hour, making for quite a few good tracks. 'Strength And Honour' is a good showcase for this, and they don't mind bringing in the occasional acoustic riff either. There are some dual vocals in place on many tracks, which was a key highlight, the throat work wasn't problematic, like the instrumentation was. On tunes like 'Woven With Pestilence And War,' 'An Eternity Of Pain,' and 'Whirling Spectral Voices' it pretty much blurs together. There are some good tracks but their insistence on speed is just something I can't handle. They are indeed a tight unit, able to keep the instrumentation in check and very controlled, but even on a song like 'What Once Was, Again Shall Be,' which proceeds at a much slower pace, I found that the material just didn't strike me, but they do have potential. Some of the higher end guitar work did strike me pretty hard, and they do a nice job covering At The Gates' 'Blinded By Fear.' Just not into it but this is better quality than most of the stuff I've received by Morbid so far.
Contact: Morbid Records, Postfach 3, 03114 Drebkau, GERMANY
Web site:

FAITH AND THE MUSE "Vera Causa" (Metropolis) SCORE: 92/100

Sad to say, this score actually undermines, in a way, just how great this band is. Any clubgoers will instantly recognize 'All Lovers Lost' and 'Cantus' as big club hits. And a few weeks after I was praising the newest Mission CD as the best gothic release this year, this one is a definite close second. This is a wonderful 2 CD set that appeals to diehard fans as well as those who have never listened to the music of this amazing band. Though it is gothic, there are celtic overtones, romantic and Medieval instrumentation, and even the flutes, mandolins, string quartets and synthesizers tell you that they can craft moods heavy and light. The score in and of itself is good, however were it not for the remixes that grace CD 2 this would score much higher. CD 1 is covers, compilation appearances, and demo versions, and I must say that some of this stuff is amazing and is a great comfort to know it's finally being released. This will be a long review so if you're not interested by now please move on. 'Frater Ave Atque Vale' starts off CD 1 and is stunning. Multi vocals from both male and female performers is all you hear, NO instrumentation whatsoever. 'In Dreams Of Mine' shows Monica's vocals at their most seductive and sensuous, her range and delivery are what really adds a spark to this band. The instrumentation is nothing to sneeze at either, Mr. Faith being ever so adept at many different moods. The only time you hear male vocals are on 'Soul In Isolation,' which was good but dragged a bit long. And 'Hollow Hills' was not a good cover choice, Monica just doesn't do the haunting, creepy style that is more akin to The Bauhaus (who originally did the song). I've never been much of a fan of Bauhaus anyway. Of the 2nd CD, there are 7 remixes, and only 2 are worthy of mention, 'Elyria' by The Trace and 'Shattered In Aspect' by L'ame Immortelle, who REALLY knows how to complement the vocals with the music. The problem with the other remixes is you have industrial bands trying to "heavy up" the sound of a band who isn't portrayed that way, and by the time the hip hop beats of 'Scars Flown Proud' by the Cassandra Complex, I was on my way out the door. The live tracks on CD 2 are much heavier than those on CD 1, and a great addition to those who have been looking for a good live album. They only do 7 live tracks, so if you're not into live albums, it won't ruin the rest of the CD for you. This 2 CD set they did just right, and if it's being sold as a single CD set it gets a much higher score. Also noteworthy is their amazing cover of Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill,' and the original demo for 'Heal,' which was done on a boombox and actually sounds like an old vinyl recording from the early 1900's. Definitely stalwarts of the scene, this 2 CD set is very valuable to both fans and newcomers alike, combining many elements to make this a refreshing and welcome addition to the goth genre.
Contact: Metropolis Records.

GAMMA RAY "No World Order!" (Noise) SCORE: 94/100

When I first listened to it, I must admit it's the atypical power metal heard nearly everywhere these days, most notably in Freedom Call, a band who I still listen to quite frequently, when magazine work doesn't take over. One listen to the multi vocal chorus lines from 'Dethrone Tyranny' and 'Damn The Machine' and you can hear the similarities. However, they manage to craft catchy material throughout, and still keep things heavy. Most notable is 'The Heart Of The Unicorn,' which starts out with some heavy "Painkiller" era Priest guitar work, then we all instantly know why Kai Hansen was considered as a replacement for the mighty Rob Halford. Those hell bent screaming vocals, sadly, are hardly found save in a few songs. No matter, for though higher pitched singing vocals Kai does in spades, he's also able to dip lower as well, making tunes like 'New World Order' have more depth and dimension to them. As I said, they can construct catchy choruses, and some of the heavier guitar work really catches your ear. The few tracks I didn't care for were ender 'Lake Of Tears' and 'Fire Below,' the latter sounded a bit, well, campy lyric wise, and the former track is more ballad like and not really in line with the rest of the CD. Sure, harp all you want about how this has been done, but all in all it's a damn fine slab of metal and one definitely can hear the older heavy Priest guitar riffs creep in more often than not. Not a crappy song to be found. Kai's been doing this a long time, ya know...
Contact: Noise Records.

GREEN CARNATION "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness" (The End) SCORE: 98/100

Holy moses! I have to admit, I wasn't very impressed with Green Carnation's "The Light At The End Of The World," so I didn't pay much attention to the fact that The End Records was putting this out, nor did it pique my interest any more when I found out this was going to be one long song. 60 minutes long, and what an album! The long length does nothing to detract from the amazing ambience going on here, there's female vocals, saxophones, children's voices, synth, sitar and a few other instruments. Dark metal to the highest degree. This is where my reviewing skills were immediately put to the test. VERY enjoyable CD, except for about 4 minutes of solos saxophones and a rather bad female wailing vocal style, so a few points HAD to be taken off. Otherwise, it's a rather daring effort, kudos to a man who can make a 60 minute song and hold my attention for all but 4 minutes of it. I would have liked to have seen it split up at least into a few pieces, but I can't complain very much at all. Beautiful, heavy, and the Candlemass style of doom comes through in the guitar work. Damnit if The End hasn't done it yet again. First Agalloch and now Green Carnation! By the way, instead of breaking the track up into 5 segments, we just strung 13 minutes of the track for you, so you can hear the continuity.
Contact: The End Records, 556 S. Fair Oaks Ave. #101-111, Pasadena, CA 91105
Web site:

GURKKHAS "A Life Of Suffering" (Morbid) SCORE: 56/100

I'm such a sucker for brutal, sick vocals, especially of the death metal variety, though lately I've been growing increasingly more disenchanted by the genre. When I first started listening to this album, I was pretty taken with it, however repeated listens soon revealed the limitations of this band. A French trio that has assumed the military style gear takes a similarly simplistic style to their music. Once track 1 abdicated the throne, it soon became clear to me that there was not much variety to the song structures. Many of the songs had the same rhythmic pattern repeated throughout, making tracks like 'A Life Of Suffering' and 'Legacy' sound very limiting. They seem to favor the speedier approach, though they do manage to throw in some good riffing ideas, just listen to some opening notes in 'Born On A Day Of War' and you'll realize that had this been planned out better, this would have made for a more interesting album. I did dig the Cannibal Corpse styled lead riffs which I'm sure pop up in more than one band's repertoire. I'm not asking a band to make the most original death metal album around, but I do expect to hear more than a few ideas repeated ad nauseum.'Kukri' had the most interesting musical patterns of all, the eerie war intro helped things along, as did the slower vocal delivery which made the speedy guitar work sound like it was being slowed down as well. Good thing I take more than two or three complete spins of an album, after all, when you pay 15 bucks or so for a CD, I'm sure you want to make sure you don't miss anything. A little maturity to their musical approach may make Gurkkhas put France on the map of underground death metal.
Contact: Morbid Records.

IN THY DREAMS "Highest Beauty" (Century Media) SCORE: 82/100

Right off the bat I can smell the limitations of this release. I'm such a sucker for sick, twisted vocals (geez, didn't I mention that in the Gurkkhas review?) and this album has plenty of them. It's rather a gothenberg based style, though it touches on black metal and also has plenty of low growled death metal vocals, which give things a nice twist. And damnit, I really enjoy this stuff; though quite a few songs, most notably when you play 'The Highest Beauty' and 'Spirits Forge' back to back, have melodies and riffs and even vocal structures that run along the same lines. The death and screaming, or black, vocals work quite well when they're presented together, but some songs like 'Hatred' and 'Control' show that the death metal vocals by themselves don't work well at all, especially in the context of two songs that are presented at a slower pace than the rest of the album. Slower is not necessarily a bad thing either, those riffs on 'Hatred' are absolutely nasty! Stick to the Gothenberg based instrumentation and things run quite smoothly. If you're not quite tired of this style of music yet, then In Thy Dreams keeps things on a definitely heavy level, and some guitar melodies even stick out. I quite enjoyed it despite it's obvious limitations. Licensed from WAR music overseas, it fits right in with the rest of Century Media's roster.
Contact: Century Media Records.

LOUISA JOHN-KROL "Ariel" (Prikosnovenie) SCORE: 99/100

Absolutely fabulous. Words cannot possibly convey just how amazing this release is. Prikosnovenie has put out some very unusual releases but this has to be the most moving, emotional, beautiful and powerful CD I have ever heard. I am almost ashamed to put a mere numerical rating to such an intense work of art. Louisa John-Krol radiates passion, beauty, etherialness and strength from every note that comes from her sensuous and seductive voice, and she plays a MEAN mandolin as well. This was such a highlight I cannot possibly figure out where to begin. 'Blackbird' starts the CD off in fantastic form, with some of the most beautiful and richest string and synth work I have ever heard. Her voice will melt even the hardest heart to liquid, all the while you're basking in such a mellow atmosphere it has to be heard to be believed. Easily one of the best CD's I have heard this year. 'Red Balloon' could easily be a club hit, with percussion that borders on tribal, with amazingly mellow ambient synth layers in the background, and is a bit more energetic and upbeat than some of her other works. 'Anemone Falling' has some of the best ambient synth work I have ever heard, I wish more ambient music like this would fall upon my desk. And if that wasn't enough, she breaks out with some beautiful flute music, on the track 'Tale Of A Thorn,' that nearly brought a tear to my eye. How could you classify this? It's not quite folk, or even pop oriented, though it radiates a power and class all it's own. There were a few distractions, though, like track 4 'Nobelius Garden' where she does a few quirky vocal shrieks, but it's still a rather mellow tune. I didn't quite dig the opening violin solo on 'Numb The Wren Tear' but I could have been unfairly picky. I am so enchanted by this CD that I feel any more words I convey will cause one to loose the feeling you'd get from simply listening to this. SIX tracks will be digitized, please go and listen to this amazing artist who has touched the deepest corners of my soul. Great relaxing stoner's music as well as those wanting to get away from the chaos and frantic pace this world sets. Best listened to in a meadow or forest (though not the forests of Norway or Sweden!)
Contact: Prikosnovenie Records.
Web site:

MEN OF PORN "Experiments In Feedback" (Small Stone) SCORE: 12/100

If you're not into Japanese noisecore, bands like Namanax, Merzbow, and their ilk, then you will have more than enough reason to skip this CD, and review, entirely. Let's try and keep it short, there's other bands that deserve more space. Men Of Porn have, to my knowledge, written ONE good song, and that was 'Pony Ride' off of the "Judge Not" compilation CD. Anyway, they seem to have decided to do something different, so for starters we get a 12 minute version of a Pink Floyd "song" I wasn't crazy about to begin with, 'One Of These Days,' of course this version is minus any vocals. They do a Motorhead cover 'Sister.' THREE TIMES! That's right, they decided to include three versions of this, and the best one is the instrumental version surprisingly, and the feedback loops that make this sound spacey are actually utilized well. Check out 'Loop,' yes, all 13 boring minutes of the same small loop, what a waste of CD space! 'Capp Street' had funny lyrics, and was one of very few saving graces for this album. I really don't wanna say more, except to note 'Feedback II,' 'Feedback IV,' and 'Feedback VII.' Have I said enough?
Contact: Small Stone Records, P.O. Box 02007 Detroit, MI 48202 USA
Web site:

MORS SYPHILITICA "Feather And Fate" (Projekt) SCORE: 61/100

I'm a little surprised by this. Coming across as a rather gothic styled project, the vocals of Lisa Hammer are quite beautiful, but there's something amiss in most of the song writing. True to their credit, the husband and wife duo of Lisa and Eric craft some rather unusual ideas within the gothic slash darkwave format. There's a strikingly Arabic flair on the track 'Between Feather And Fate,' as well as 'A Fever Dream,' though 'A Fever Dream' definitely was the better of the two, showcasing some dynamic vocal range. Many of the songs really failed to catch me, I can't say they were terrible for the most part but they just didn't find a home in my brain. 'Glorious Breath' was a tad on the mellow side, as was 'Fountain Of Tears,' but the latter tune was definitely lacking in the instrumentation department. 'Nostalgia's Sea' was quite a nice mellow tune, one that I enjoyed, as well as their best moment 'Only A Whirlwind.' 'The Chains Of Reason' was probably the worst song on here, where the darker instrumentation and her vocals really clash. Overall there are some nice moments but I think the experimentation phase left the ideas running a little bland.
Contact: Projekt Records.
Web site:

PENTAGRAM "Sub-Basement" (Black Widow) SCORE: 95/100

"If ''Review Your Choices'' made you sick, then ''Sub-Basement'' will take you to the tomb!" This is a self titled statement from the newest of Virginia's doom metal gods, and it fits. This is the HEAVIEST, doomiest Pentagram album I have ever heard, and I absolutely loved "Review Your Choices." This also marks the first album that has all new material, rather than releases of older songs, at least as far as I'm led to believe. Check out the title track, this has some of the most vicious and punishing doom riffs I've yet to hear on a Pentagram album, and it blows away most other songs the heaviest of doomsters can come up with. The closest this album comes to a ballad is in 'Out Of Luck,' though the riffs are a little bit more uptempo, you'll hear an acoustic riff or two. The first two songs really blaze by you, as they are no longer than 2 minutes each (reason why we digitized 6 songs instead of the usual 5), and the first tune 'Bloodlust' comes in rocking and 'Buzzsaw' has some very doomy, eerie vocal lines. You even hear Bobby's classic Ozzy imitation on a few words of 'Bloodlust.' 'Drive Me To The Grave' was very cool, some of the most wicked vocal intonations you'll ever hear from Mr. Liebling, and 'Tidal Wave' is the classic Titanic tale told with brutal conviction from some thrashy guitar work. Yes my friends, the guitar work is about the heaviest on the planet, and the vocal work is nothing short of creepy and dark. Check the lyrics on the title track too, they're quite fitting comparing our "underground" genre to an "underground" living arrangement. The only track I really had a problem with was 'Go In Circles,' the lyrical arrangements bothered me and it is an ultra slow track. Those whammied guitar pieces sound really spooky though. And while on the subject, the last track got a bit carried away with the lenghty fast instrumentation that you might hear closing a concert, but overall this is a tremendously enjoyable album, one that shows Pentagram in it's heaviest light. Setting the standard for mind crushingly heavy doom metal for years to come.
Contact: Black Widow Records.
Web site:

PROSCRIPTOR "The Serpentine Has Risen" (Dark Age Productions) SCORE: 41/100

I remember this side project from Absu member Proscriptor from awhile back, via their "The Venus Belladonna" CD, which I have to admit I wasn't very impressed with. This time around, things have picked up just a tad, though it's still not a CD I would care to listen to again. The CD starts out with 'Tin Formulae,' and it sounds very much like Hawkwind, with the spacey synthesizers and clean sung vocals, though I can't say I'd stick around to hear it more than a few times. Then out of nowhere comes 'Dauntless Pride,' which showcases some nice acoustic guitar riffs and medieval synths that Mortiis would be proud of. The acoustic riffs and keys mix very well together, and he does another nice piece featuring melodic synths on track 5, 'First Point.' Why he couldn't have done the rest of the CD like this is beyond me, for his "experimentation" pieces are really hard to listen to. 'Witch Wife' is a prime example, he's trying to do the industrial thing it seems complete with electronically enhanced vocals, which just sounds silly. (And keep in mind, I still enjoy industrial music!) The 'Devil Woman' cover was interesting, but not nearly enough to hold my interest. 'Ossian's Cave' was the worst of all, sounding like some bizarre noise piece that is mainly just annoying sounds thrown together, I guess he was going for a ritualistic effect. Then to top it all off, there is another version of 'Tin Formulae' but without vocals. Either way, not very much I could get into.
Contact: Dark Age Productions, P.O. Box 743307, Dallas, TX 75374-3307 USA

SAXON "Killing Ground" (SPV/Steamhammer) SCORE: 77/100

I think Saxon's been releasing too many albums too fast! Hell, it was just issue #25 when "Metalhead" came out and "Unleash The Beast" must have been a year before that! This CD is more of a mix of styles, you have some slower numbers, some tunes that just out and out rock, and a few throwaway pieces. This disc still has some good tunes on it, but it's not nearly a favorite of mine, though I only own three Saxon releases, all reviewed within these pages. There's the usual intro that Saxon feels the need to put on every CD, then we jump straight into 'Killing Ground,' which is a heavy tune in the vein of the last two discs. 'Court Of The Crimson King' is a BEAUTIFULLY done cover, they even added extra depth to it by utilizing some great multi vocal work. 'Coming Home' was one of the throwaway tracks, I think lyrically they could have done better as also with 'Running For The Border,' another tune I didn't care for. 'Dragon's Lair' was very unusual, it shows the English crew flirting with speedier power metal the Italians are famous for. Nice choruses and fast guitar work, but I'd really like to see them develop this style a little more. 'Shadows On The Wall' was one of the worst tracks here, don't get me wrong the acoustic style and melodic singing was nice, but the heavier parts of the song really bugged me, he tries to put some electronic effects on his voice it seems and the choruses were weak. However, 'Hell Freezes Over' was one of my other favorites, with choruses that stick in your head and great lead guitar work. 'Rock Is Our Life' closes this out in true headbanger's anthemic form, and though there's quite a few tracks that really didn't work for me, a Saxon album these days is still a good thing to have in the collection. A bit weaker than the past two, but still has its moments.
Contact: SPV/Steamhammer, P.O. Box 721147, 30531 Hannover, GERMANY
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SHAPE OF DESPAIR "Angels Of Distress" (Spinefarm) SCORE: 95/100

Some might say I gave this a higher score just to be able to digitize all 5 songs for ya. Yes, a 5 song album just like the previous effort. Actually, I play "Shades Of..." a lot more these days, and I think maybe THAT album should have received a 95 instead of a 93 was it? Anyway, things have seemingly gotten a lot more dynamic, the death metal vocals on the first few tracks are a LOT more in your face, and the female vocals are featured a lot more than before. One thing that upset me was the absence of the flutes!! They did add violins though which was a tremendously effective new feature; as the melancholic effects are drawn out more than the more serene atmospheres which graced the first album. They do a great instrumental on the last tune 'Night's Dew,' and it features great piano notations. 'To Live For My Death' features not only the female vocals but marks the debut of actual male singing vocals! My few complaints dealt with the death vocals on the title track: I mentioned how they are quite dominant, but here they are a bit too overbearing on pieces of the song, taking away from the instrumentation, but the passage in this song that features some downright evil synth (horror movie styled organs) mixed with the death vocals makes for one of the most brutal passages Shape Of Despair has ever written. The death vocals get toned back a bit more from track 3 on, and brings us back to the memories of the first album. Like with album number one, this album features two to three fantastic songs, and the rest are good. The difference here is that the "good" songs are a tad more enjoyable than the ones on "Shades Of..." though it's such a close call that both albums could very easily rate the same score. What a job these Finnish musicians have done, and it's an extreme honor to bring you the interview we've been hunting for like forever now! If Century Media has any sense, they'll be licensing this for the U.S. market SOON! P.S. There are NO bad songs on a Shape Of Despair album. Commit that statement to memory.
Contact: Spinefarm Records.

SIX FEET UNDER "True Carnage" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 18/100

God damn, do I have to review this? *sigh* The things I have to do for my craft. Okay, well since we last reviewed and interview them, this Cannibal Corpse slowed down style has really gotten worse. I mean, REALLY. First off, Chris Barnes seems to be trying his best to keep people from understanding what he's saying in his songs. And that new feature of his, the screech? Jesus, the first time I heard that I was laughing hysterically, cause I mean it almost sounds like Beavis (from Beavis and Butthead fame, remember them? No? Well, fear not cause if there's any justice in the world, Six Feet Under will soon join them in obscurity). And I mean a horrible Beavis too. The video clip for 'The Day The Dead Walked' actually gives you a visual picture of just how funny that is. There are only a few highlights on this CD. One is the vicious death metal screams of Karyn from the band Crisis, and sadly even that gets old after a few lines. The other was hearing those wacked out Cannibal Corpse style riffs on 'Impulse To Disembowel' you remember those whammied riffs that sounded like no other? Ice-T does guest rap vocals on 'One Bullet Left.' I said rap, so that probably tells you more than you want to know about this song. And by the way, WHY does every other line puked up by Ice-T have to include the word fuck in it? He says that wonderful "F" word more times on one song than EVERY metal band on the planet! Geez! They do the slow instrumentation thing, though every now and then they'll peak my interest just a tad with some faster instrumentation. Check 'It Never Dies,' which had some nice opening lead work. Overall the presentation is poor. PISS poor. And I still can't believe these guys were picked to headline the metallenium festival, though it's probably more a blessing than a curse that the better bands like Witchery and The Haunted didn't show up.
Contact: Metal Blade.

SLEEPLESS "Winds Blow Higher" (The End) SCORE: 94/100

What is up with this label? Their dark metal seems to be raging these days, Agalloch, Green Carnation, and Sleepless! This band sounds much like Tiamat on their "Deeper Kind Of Slumber,' but much darker. They utilize melodic vocals but usually on a darker scale, no growling or anything, but sometimes whispered and sometimes low toned. The more melodically sung vocals tend to give me a few fits at times, but they aren't too much of a detraction. And of course the static filled radio sounds coupled with some BAD operetta style female vocals really detracted from the song 'Change,' though it was just a small part of the middle of this song. There are some nice ambient synths all the way through this CD, and some catchy vocal work on 'Lying In Wait' and the title track really helps to drive the point home. There's an instrumental as well, 'Rain,' but I didn't think it was as good as the instrumentation of EVERY other song, though it does pick up a little bit towards the end. There isn't really a whole lot to complain about, though, but as I said it's mostly dark melodies, and can get haunting at times like on 'Moments.' The End Records may not put out 30 or 40 releases a year, but you know the few records they DO promote are generally of good quality.
Contact: The End Records.

SODOM "M-16" (SPV/Steamhammer) SCORE: 84/100

"Angelripper" and company have never left us. They take a trek down to the jungles of Vietnam (see the accompanying interview) for a rather interesting ride through the eyes of Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now followers. The speed/thrash metal that Sodom has never strayed from has taken true to form on this 11 track CD. There's a few wierd moments on this CD, like first the use of the word 'Wierdcong' in 'Among The Wierdcong.' The best tracks though are found near the end of the CD, especially the title track, which has catchy choruses and some really evil riffs. 'Marines' is a great track as well, though it seems like a tribute song to those warriors in camouflage, but has killer, catchy choruses to boot. 'Lead Injection' makes nice use of start-stop riffs, and I gotta say that especially on this CD more than any other, Angelripper sounds exactly like Tom Araya from Slayer when he's yelling at the top of his lungs. It's a real treat for the senses when Sodom pulls off some great movie samples, and in Full Metal Jacket tradition he does a skullcrushing cover of 'Surfin' Bird,' a song that I didn't like in the movie but absolutely dig here. Many of you will get a few laughs over his conversion before you realize that THIS is the version that should have been in the movie. They do show us some maturity and variety when they take 'Napalm In The Morning' for an acoustic run at the start, though this tune could have been a bit better. 'I Am The War' tended to suffer from some bad arrangements where the vocals on the prechorus were concerned. 'Little Boy' was a bit strange as well, but overall you can't ask for a better album from Sodom, unless you're still hung up on the old days, though Sodom will not deny their past and will play many "Obsessed By Cruelty/In The Sign Of Evil" tracks live to this day.
Contact: SPV/Steamhammer Records.

SOLARIZED "Driven" (Meteor City) SCORE: 48/100

I must say this is quite a surprise. Meteor City releases I have always looked forward to, but this band really sounds more like Southern Rock meets stoner than anything else. The guitar work is mainly what brings this down, that plus songs that really fail to catch my attention. The twangy "suvvun" guitar style is most notable on the instrumental 'Southbound,' but creeps into other tracks like 'Angel' via the cowbell sounds, and the rather annoying 'Box Full Of Dirt.' This CD starts out with a bang though, after you skip the intro, 'Dig The Ride' rocks hard and fast, and reminds you of a good driving anthem. Then the best song on this whole CD is 'Born Of Fire,' with some MEAN guitar work and killer low ended vocals that accentuate the heaviest and most dominant track on here. Even 'Chrome Shop' was a faster rockin' tune, one that I definitely enjoyed the choruses on especially. From track 6 on, it all goes downhill. The faster number 'Stab Your Back' was just mainly those three words repeated over and over, and though some of the other songs weren't terrible, they just failed to grab me. They try to do the heavier style throughout, but the life and spark went out of this record after track 5.
Contact: Meteor City, P.O. Box 40322, Albuquerque, NM 87196 USA
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THE FLESHPEDDLERS "Falling Into A Dream" (Wrecktus) SCORE: 4/100

Man oh man is this ever horrible! Even the most syrupy of synthpop bands would be a welcome breath of fresh air after this mess! Track 1, 'Disco Song,' starts this off with some of the most horrible vocals, cheesy as all hell lyrics, and crappy casio keyboard tunes I've ever heard! There is not ONE song on here I could even possibly listen to for any length of time. The 4 points comes from the heavy chorus lines on 'The Crusher,' the closest thing to a real song, which is very obviously Nine Inch Nails inspired. Horrible vocal work brings down MANY songs, most notably 'Angie-Girl' and 'Kitty's Corner.' Check out the bad xylophone sounds they used on 'It's Perfect.' They definitely love the techno effects, and if matters weren't already worse at hand, they do this techno country sounding thing on 'Inflatable Dreams.' The lyrics are unusually bad, I get the feeling that the lyrics had to be approved by the band's parents before being released, as they are REALLY sappy and REALLY bad. Please, no more. I can't possibly endure writing any more, the first two listens were near ear wrecking enough as it is. However, like the late great "poet" Frank Zappa would say "Great googly moogly! I'd rather eat the yellow snow than listen to this mess!"
Contact: Wrecktus Records.
Web site:

THE MISSION "Aura" (Playground Recordings) SCORE: 93/100

Most of what I've heard from the Mission U.K., as they used to be called, was via import compilation CD's. The first time I heard anything Mission related was the tribute CD that Re-Constriction Records released a few years back. And that, coupled with a few tracks played in local goth/industrial clubs in Savannah peaked my interest enough to cause me to pursue what was termed their comeback album. And what an album! The two compilation CD's I have had some good tracks but there were some bad ones as well. As far as the gothic tag goes, throw that right now out the window. Yes, it is gothic based, but it has so much more to it than that. Their heaviest track here is 'Slave To Lust,' and it has an amazingly heavy yet otherworldy atmosphere, especially since they added rather Arabic sounding guitar riffs. All their choruses are catchy as hell, and D.J.'s would be hard pressed to find an album that has no less than SEVEN club hits. 'Evangeline' is probably their hit single type, though it has rather dynamic and explosive atmosphere and it rocks! This is not the sappy gothic of old on many tracks, hell on 'Slave To Lust' he actually carries out the sexual anthem of frustrated males everywhere when he says that not only does he want to fuck, but he's tired of playing with himself! Wayne's vocals are definitely in top form, whether he's trying to seduce you one minute, or show off his more melodic side in tunes like 'Dragonfly' and 'Cocoon.' There were some rough spots on the CD though, for starters 'Happy' sounded a bit too sappy and pop oriented, the lyrics really didn't help much. 'Burlesque' sounds like it's trying to achieve the whole strip club feel, and trying to play on the raunchier side that gothic music never deals with though this time it's a big disappointment. They can and have wrote catchier material than this. 'The Light That Pours From You' was another awesome tune, and you can tell that The Mission have great songwriting capabilities. Formed from the ashes of Sisters Of Mercy, I strongly suggest those of you into this style of music seek this out, even though right now a U.S. licensing deal is still pending. Great music for open minded people, and I must say this is THE best gothic styled album releases this year, after such disappointments from many of the scene's long standing hopefuls.
Contact: Playground Recordings.
Web site:

THE SATELLITE CIRCLE "The Satellite Circle" (Rage Of Achilles) SCORE: 91/100

How happy I was when this showed up in the mail! Along with Abdullah, this was one of the most surprising releases for me last year, and though this doesn't get a full on 100, it's still full of the cool 70's retro rock sounds done heavy. For those of you that dig the EP with the long title they put up, lemme say that this surprises on many fronts. Their heavier tunes have definitely gotten heavier, and there are several examples of this. 'You Were Never The King' has the fuzzed out, trippy distorted riffs that Black Sabbath would be envious of, but they soon crank the heaviness out by leaps and bounds. You'll hear some vicious shouted vocal work which is a staple of Satellite Circle material. 'Remedy' continues on in much the same fashion, and they'll even pull out a stoner's jam for ya on this one. Gotta love the echoed vocal effects which pop up from time to time too. Then track three 'Black Mountainside' REALLY struck me as odd. This is their first pseudo-ballad, though the acoustic notations are very haunting and not at all mellow in a ballad sense, added with the haunting singing effects of Jonas and I wasn't sure whether I would like this at first, but soon it grew on me, or should I say creeped on me. Very unusual and dark, though in a good way! Too bad I couldn't say the same for the other "ballad" in 'The Beginning Of The End Of The World Part 1." The acoustic riffs were echoed but didn't do much for me, and the singing vocals didn't help the mood any at all, methinks that Jonas's vocals aren't quite suited to the more melodic side of things. And his vocal work got the better of him on 'The Thin White Line Between Happiness And Sanity.' He just didn't carry over well here, though the instrumentation was quite adequate. However, the skullcrushingly HEAVIEST song they have written to date is 'The Beginning Of The End Of The World Part 2,' with a slow, almost sludgy feel, and there's only one lyric line but you don't care, it's delivered with a sonically devastating death blow. I've rambled on at length about this band now, but the goods were delivered and they were delivered with force. A second interview will most DEFINITELY be in the works. COUNT ON IT.
Contact: Rage Of Achilles, P.O. Box 20508, London NW8 8 WT, UK
Web site:

WITCHERY "Symphony For The Devil" (Necropolis) SCORE: 95/100

How the hell they do it is simply beyond me. First off they are spearheaded by the biggest campaign that Necropolis has ever done, then they actually get a U.S. tour with Borknagar and Emperor, not to mention their first album got a 100 rating, and on top of all that they have to share Jensen with The Haunted AND wait for Sharlee D'Angelo to quit gigging around with Mercyful Fate or King Diamond, whichever Mr. Diamond decides he wants to do at the moment. All of four albums in less than two years? And have their writing skills diminished over all this time and overextension? Hell no! Admittedly, the "Restless And Dead" album didn't quite live up to the crushing heaviness of the first album, but this is yet another masterpiece in the gallery of all things Witchery. And this album starts off with a bang, enter some storm sounds and vicious lead riffs to mark 'The Storm.' 'Unholy Wars' proves that Witchery is capable of writing catchy tunes and kick ass ones to boot. By 'Inquisition' and 'Omens,' they have slowed things down a bit but added such an otherworldly, eerie dimension that you just knew they had much more creativity in them than most people give them credit for. They did manage to do one too many instrumentals, but for a kick go listen to the instrumental 'Bone Mill.' There you can hear Metal Church's 'Merciless Onslaught' (which was an instrumental song too: mere coincidence?) and Faith Or Fear's 'Time Bomb.' Kick ass instrumental guys, but please don't try and claim this all for your own. The other instrumental I wasn't too crazy about, and the only other tune I would probably pass on is 'Called For By Death,' and this isn't a bad tune but doesn't have the spark that other tracks have. There are two bonus tracks here, 'Enshrined' and 'The One Within,' so it's 12 Witching hour tunes that a true metalhead would surely love. We'll be doing the "W" for a long time to come...
Contact: Necropolis Records.

WITHERED EARTH "Into The Deepest Wounds" (Olympic) SCORE: 82/100

Sometimes a band can be just so over the top with brutality that they forget about catchiness and diversity. The last time, and actually the first time, I saw Withered Earth they opened up for Marduk, and immediately I was impressed by their performance. Their guitar work varies greatly from song to song, and they definitely speed things up and slow them down in nearly the same breath. 'Remnants Of Unfruitful Existence' starts the CD off in a big way, and the crushing lead riffs are what hits you first. They have some dual vocal work going on with 'False, Emotion, Strain,' and the use of acoustic vocals mixed with the death growls on 'I Am Despair' was a nice touch. Still, they are a faster paced death metal band and with that in mind there were some things that got out of hand. The opening riffs on 'I Am' were a bit too chaotic for my taste, but once the track slowed WAAAY down it was one of the heaviest moments on the CD. Some of the tunes that kept a fast pace throughout, most notably 'Colossus Nebula,' tended to lose their focus, but they still are a relatively young outfit with plenty of potential. As long as they can keep things interesting, I don't see why they can't be a player in the seemingly small and overcrowded death metal realm.
Contact: Olympic Records.



Just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who helped me out with the classic albums section. I got so many contributions from people the world over, Italy and Brazil in particular, that it will be a daunting task to get it all up online. We have to watch our bandwidth though, as we have come dangerously close to exceeding it recently. Hopefully Spaceports will implement a plan soon to increase bandwidth for the site at an affordable rate. of course is a paid site and is doing very well.

Recently I have enjoyed being a dad, it's been an overwhelming experience. It's also a tiring one as well, as he has seemingly limitless amounts of energy. However, there's nothing like it in the world, and it also is a scary experience as well. Think about the world your son or daughter might enter, it's enough to make me want to barricade the doors and forbid anyone to go outside!

I hope the soundfiles are a little better customized to each and every individual's tastes. Please note that even the '*' songs doesn't mean that those songs are the absolute worst on the CD. I just figured if you liked my best tracks and hated my worst, then you'll be able to figure out better just how my tastes and yours are similar or different. 4 songs is quite a lot, but it's still no comparison to hearing the entire album.

Lastly, I want to thank some people personally in this space. A very warm and personal hello to Treva, who seemingly is one of my biggest supporters. And before it sounds too godlike, let me say I am a big fan of hers as well. :> Hello to Chris Miller, the black metal commercial we're working on will hopefully come to completion soon for the world to see. Special thanks above and beyond to Ralph Veety from Samain, and to Hacienda for letting me be on their next record. Thanks to Massino at Black Widow for the thanks and greets, though you could have put my magazine's name in the credits. And finally, to the many people too numerous to mention here who sent me CDR's with timeless and extremely rare metal recordings. Oh, and thanks be the readers, who keep thing thing flying over 10 years now.

Oh, and parents: Ask me sometime about the black metal lullaby you can sing for your kids. It's actually better than the corny ones used by the masses.

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