THE DEMO CORNER
The post-rock/post-metal thing is making its way around the metal underground more now than ever, and it only took about 18-months for the craze to catch on like a flu bug in a second grade classroom. Some are very good, others are trend-jumpers with little originality or style. Sweden’s Cloud Zero certainly plays a brand of post-rock that’s good, just not great.
What I like is the bass-heavy hum throughout the tracks that provides some serious atmosphere; the guitars also have that late 80’s shoegaze feel to them, but something just runs amuck when the ‘metalization’ comes into play and ruins the otherwise sullen mood. When the slower, grainy parts of the music take over and create an atmosphere of floating or just ‘being’ it’s great, but some music just shouldn’t be molested by power chords when a certain setting is in place. I do like the melancholy aura around “Illusory Skies”, but I’ll be honest, the vocals kill the mood for me. The processed muffled yelling just steals any settling I could attain in these tracks. The music seems to find its niche at certain parts, but then just seems to wander off a bit, taking my comfort right along with it. What might be great songs are just okay.
I think a lot of positive elements are in place scattered about this demo, but to find that one scene-conducive sound and keep it throughout would serve a much finer purpose than to completely drive off into a dirt road.
Battlehymn, Cloud Zone, Deafheaven & Valefor
April 7, 2011
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Battlehymn - Battlehymn
Philadelphia metal outfit Battlehymn releases its two-track demo of decent thrash metal. Upon hearing these two tracks I’m not so sure the total ‘thrash’ tag applies throughout; moreover, the band seems to tread the finest line between thrash and traditional, which isn’t a total catastrophe when it’s done properly and to a discernable and reputable degree.
To be honest, the slim production of the demo reminds me of the stuff my band used to put out back 20-years ago, which adds some elemental charm to the sound, albeit primitive. If I were to be even more honest I’d say the drawback is the vocals, which seem far too sing-songy and forced into the song structure. I don’t really hear much melody in the delivery; it’s just too contrived for my taste, especially all over “Cerebus Rising”, which also sports a sing-along chorus of “Rise! Rise! Rise!” which Nevermore just included on its latest album, so it’s ingrained in my head.
The music here is okay, nothing tremendously resonating or original. I favor the “exploder” track of the two, but honestly the mood of the music just isn’t here for me. The vocal melody line is too mundane and plastic to actually be enjoyed to its full potential. For me, this isn’t thrash at its finest hour, but more at its most basic root garden and not very memorable.
Valefor - After the Sad Hours
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Label: Extreminal Productions
1. Nowhere 2. After The Sad Hours 3. The Embrace With Pain 4. Helpless Souls 5. No Place For Hope
- Total playing time: 32:30
Turkish one-man band Valefor assembles a noose and ties it onto the branch of the depressive black metal tree. After the Sad Hours is the third offering from Valefor after a full-length and a split in recent months.
Sargathus, the man behind Valefor, creates some decent suicidal black metal along the lines of Silencer, though not nearly as memorable. The vocals are certainly trying to channel Nattramm from the Swedish underground band, but these come off more as a wailing whine than a pained, expressive calling. During one song, “The Embrace with Pain”, the whining is so annoying that I had a hard time sitting through it. The music is droning, but repetitive depression that has true moments of talent and interest, especially “Helpless Souls” and “No Place for Hope”, which are quite good. I’m just not sure the music has enough punch to carry it above a growing line of similar bands doing it better. If you’re seeking Bethlehem, Silencer or Shining, definitely look elsewhere. Other depressive bands in the Middle East, like Forgive Me, are doing this to a much more credible degree.
For a demo the production isn’t bad; it definitely fills the void the mood generates throughout, save for those insipid vocals that are not scary of horrifying in the least. The screeching literally kills the CD for me; I’d have much rather have it be instrumental or with another vocalist. At times it sounds as if a cat is being teased or strangled, which never bodes well for a project under any circumstances.
I gave this points for the music and took off half for those damn vocals. It’s good as a musical piece and that’s about all.
Cloud Zone - Demo 2010
Release Date: August 10, 2010
Band Self Released
1. Launched into Orbit 2. Tadoma 3. Illusory Skies
- Total playing time: 14:25
DOWNLOAD Demo 2010 from the band's bandcamp page: Cloud Zone
Release Date: March 13, 2011
Band Self Released
1. Cerebus Rising 2. Exploder
- Total playing time: 7:55
DOWNLOAD Battlehymn FREE from the band's bandcamp page (click on link above).
For a copy of After the Sad Hours contact the band via their myspace page (click on link above).
Deafheaven - Deafheaven Demo 2010
Release Date: 2010
Band Self Released
1. Libertine Dissolves 2. Bedrooms 3. Daedalus
4. Exit Denied - Total playing time: 24:43
Deafheaven makes its home in San Francisco and produces a black metal sound indicative of the Scandinavian underground. At just under 25-minutes, the band’s demo tape showcases an under-produced, raspy shrieking style along the lines of early Bethlehem. It may appeal to oldsters who just love this filthy-sounding music as well as newcomers to the black metal movement.
What also shocks me is to look at the photo of these guys on Encyclopedia Metallum they look more like Naked Raygun than any black metal I’ve ever seen. Granted, I couldn’t care less if you stood on your head in pink-and-puce overalls; as long as the music is good I’ll support it. The music here is pretty good, nothing new or overly memorable, but quite atmospheric and interesting in time-changes and style. Now, the main point of sale for me is the instrumental piece “Bedrooms”, which is, dare I say, casually beautiful and sincere? It moves at such a slow, simple pace and simply astounds me that it sits between two caustic black tracks. I could listen to ten full minutes of this here, but it’s just the right length. I’m quickly led to raise a lone eyebrow with the tumultuous “Daedalus” as it furiously shatters the still and serenity of “Bedrooms”. “Exit Denied” also provides acoustic employment in the nearly 12-minute opus that sounds a lot like Alcest in its form.
All in all, not a bad little demo. The band has a full-length out as well, so check them out on their MySpace.
DOWNLOAD Deafheaven Demo 2010 from the band's bandcamp page: Deafheaven