Saturday, 18 July 2015

NOSTALGIA CORNER: Grateful Dead-American Beauty

Alternative chief Ryan Sweeney takes a look back at a classic album in his new series The Nostalgia Corner. This week, in honour of their recent farewell tour, Ryan shares his thoughts and feelings on the Grateful Dead and the legacy of their standout studio LP American Beauty.

Welcome to what I'm going to call The Nostalgia Corner, I decided that if I'm going to do classic album's I might as well make it a little more formal and give it a name, so from now on all classics reviewed by me will be given this heading. Now that the formalities are out of the way, let's take a look at The Grateful Dead and my favorite of their work; American Beauty.

The Grateful Dead are one of the most influential and recognizable bands in American music history, psychedelic rock, folk, Americana, bluegrass, jazz, reggae, nothing ever quite seemed the limit with these guys and their live performances, whilst often bloated and odd, gave birth to the very concept of the jam band and long instrumental intro's. However, as of last night the band officially called it quits on their 50 year career following a string of sold out farewell concerts. This has lead me to ponder several things: does the music still stand up? Does the music still have anything to offer? Are they as important as many from the time would have us to believe?

13 Studio albums, 10 live albums and over 50 retrospectives, no one has been quite as prolific as The Grateful Dead in their career that spans over 50 years and over a dozen members. Starting out as one of the major players in the 1960s San Francisco psychedelic rock scene with peers such as Big Brother and the Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane, they quickly established themselves as one of the most interesting and diverse touring acts the scene had to offer, with their long winded jam sessions, jazz breakdowns and instrumentals taking up the vast majority of their live set they garnered a loyal fan base out of the thriving hippie movement of the era that would follow them throughout the rest of their career. Seriously guys, "Deadheads" are some of the loyalist fans I've ever seen and it's this devotion from the fans, their devotion to the art of the live performance as well as classic studio LPs such as American Beauty and Anthem of the Sun that have allowed them to become a cultural mainstay across America throughout their career,

American Beauty, the band's 6th album, was released in the November of 1970. It is a great album without a doubt; it perfectly blends Americana folk, bluegrass and psychedelic guitar licks that few albums have ever been able to. A masterclass of songwriting and delivery, you only need to listen to the first track Box of Rain to work out this track is a great opener, the song is chugged along by a great rhythm section (drums, bass and acoustic guitar) that all feel great to listen to and keep the pace for the rest of the track, which includes really subtle but masterful electric guitar licks from David Nelson and these great vocals from Phil Lesh that are astounding. They are seriously great, I love them and the little Beatles-esque harmonies every now and then sound awesome if a little off key. This album shows the bands incredible range and musicality with tracks like Sugar Magnolia, Candyman and Brokedown Palace that all manage to capture the the stylistic influences of the band and meld them together without ever missing a beat as well as still allowing the band to put their psychedelic and jam band style twist on them, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do. I know many a band that has been unsuccessful at trying to do this, but this is a great example of how it can work and I feel that bands can learn from it. An unfortunate downside to this album however; it does sound a little dated. It's low cost production and some of the almost rockabilly nature of some of the songs have not helped the album. Having listened to both the original and the remastered edition I can say that the remastered edition is noticeably clearer and some of the mix issues of the original are solved, however like I said, the issues lay a lot in the style. While all the folk/bluegrass style songs do still sound great, the style of the classic rock/rockabilly just feels old and dated, taking away a little from the overall experience. Does this album deserve the praise it has garnered? I think it's a great album, I really like it and I can see why it has such critical acclaim. Does the album have anything to offer? I believe it to be a masterclass in melding genres as well as developing your own identity, in that sense I believe those who listen and enjoy it can still learn from it. Does the music still stand up? Yes and no, it suffers from some age problems but all in all it still sounds great and still has a lot going for it.

Let us know your opinion, did you love it? Did you hate it? Whatever you felt be sure to keep checking out Musical Chairs for more news, reviews and blogs, for now though I've been Ryan Sweeney, this has been Nostalgia Corner and it's all been for Musical Chairs

R.Sweeney (@TheCautiousCrip)

Video Release-Armilus by The Green River Burial

As promised in our previous article, Musical Chairs brings back its lobotomised article monkey, designated "Gary Lee", to cover the new video released by German death/hardcore metal band The Green River Burial Armilus. 

Cheers, applause and good wishes are in order. We finally have a video, for you to listen to and decide if you like it enough to order Blight; the forthcoming EP by The Green River Burial. Alongside are some pre-order links! Hurrah!

As noted in the previous article, the song starts with a tension building intro of ambiance, a bass hit and a rumble of light percussion brings the tension up further before the drums begin to herald the peak of the intro and the impending crescendo. Finally, a Slipknot styled heavily distorted riff seems to suck it all back in again before the song explodes into some Meshuggah like jerky bass line, filled with all the jangly, heavy basstone and disjointed syncopated drum fills. After the bass and the drums have wrestled each other for the right to heavily assault your ears, the vocals split out. Guttural, visceral and everything this song needs; it kicks it to the more groove based motifs that swing together well to keep your elbows swinging and your head nodding.

The pre-chorus changes pace just a little as the aggression of the song emanates a smidge more, before the chorus hits and the clean vocals almost seem to plead with the listener. The song continues in much the same ilk from the second verse, very rarely slowing down, until the fade outro. I see this song being a live crowd/pit favourite and if The Green River Burial can continue to produce work as groove based and visceral as this, then they have my vote.

Blight is available to order now.

Bastardized Recordings:

Article By: Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

EP Preview:The Green River Burial-Blight

Musical Chairs are back! Gary Lee is back! Metal is back! So come celebrate with us by getting yourself all perspired and excited by the news that a Blight is coming....The Green River Burial announce their new EP! Expect more news to come...

Frankfurt's The Green River Burial and Bastardised Records are pleased to announce the impending release of their new 2 song EP Blight. Blight sees the four members of the band evolve from their hardcore roots and into more groove driven territory and man, it pays off well! Now I'll be honest, I am not familiar at all with their past work. However, as their hardcore style meshes with their passion for grooves it's creating a beastily tech-death sound, almost progressive....almost Messuggah-ish, this makes me very happy for where they are going.

What makes me more excited is that Blight is simply a taster, as the band are working towards their next release following 2012's Separate and Coalesce. Ok, so enough with the fanfare and pomp! I've said it's good and now you want to know why. Don't worry I still remember how it goes!

Blight opens with Armilus. A dark and tense song with an ominous intro, thumping down tuned bass guitar that leads the grooves, disjointed and syncopated drums pepper through the mix.  The vocals are smouldering and angry, mostly screamed/growled but occasionally a clean vocal peaks through a thumping track and to be honest I think it would be a shame if this song did not make it through to the full release, I see this being a great way to open the album, or indeed kick off it's second act. I also feel that the grooves and syncopation would make this a live act favourite.

However, the second and final track on the release Dajjal leaves me with less of an impression. I feel it has less groove and certainly doesn't have that musical hook that makes me want to listen to it again and again. It's a solid track and builds on things already discussed on Armilus but doesn't have as much "life" to it I feel. I do however like the occasional industrial glitches that are thrown in here and there.

Blight will be available for purchase on 7 inch vinyl and digital formats from the 1st of August and with a new video due on the 12th of July, expect to hear more from these guys soon! I do believe that if these two tracks are anything to go by, they are worth hearing!

If you want to keep up with these guys then find them on their Facebook Page

Article By: Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

For more info and to keep up with everything we have to offer here at Musical Chairs, please like and support our Facebook page!

Album Review: Helloween - My God Given Right

It would seem to take a lot to get The Editor to appear from his bunker and share his opinions with the masses. Hidden away and unapproachable, he loiters in his murky lair. This, however, has proven enough to cause his emergence; Helloween's latest album.


Do I really need to explain the greatness of Helloween? For over 30 years the German power and speed metal kings have reigned supreme. Sharing a sound not too dissimilar to Iron Maiden, the band quickly forged a devoted following in the UK and overseas. Despite releasing their masterpiece works of Keeper of the Seven Keys I and II fairly early in their career (1987 and 1988 respectively) and then trying to sabotage themselves with the two albums that came next (albums I find so abhorrent I refuse to even name them), Helloween have established themselves as one of the most enduring and successful bands of the genre. As with most bands, the members can chop and change and Helloween have been no stranger to a few roster shuffles. This release sees the first time that they have reached five consecutive albums with the exact same lineup. But unlike some others, the group have kept mainly loyal to their original sound whilst evolving with the times. So here in 2015 they spoil us with their fifteenth studio album, back under the Nuclear Blast label for the first time since 2003, My God Given Right.

I fully intended to be one of the only people to review a Helloween offering without talking about the album artwork, but I found that to be an exercise in futility. Known for their thematic covers, they have fully embraced this and created a great ‘post war’ scene depicting the infamous pumpkin as a race of mecha-like beings rising up over the winter landscape. The album opens with Heroes, which starts with a humble, muted intro before getting into a nice, heavy beat. In fact, it is heavier than the usual Helloween opener and gets you bouncing straight away. The chorus is simple, yet solid and the solo is perfect for rocking.

The track itself combines wonderfully with the second track to deliver a ‘one-two punch’ effect that is missing from many releases these days. Heroes is about empowerment, the small scale heroes doing everything they can to make a difference. Battles Won (the albums 1st single) is also an empowering track and let's you know that the fight you have is worth it because you won.

Battles Won has a very rousing intro with a slight rising intonation to get that feeling of victory and has a strong traditional Helloween style bass line. This begins the very 80’s/ early 90’s feel of the album, which I am not opposed to but may put newcomers to the sound of Helloween off. The distinctive voice of power metal going over speedy drums and an increasing solo leaves you in no uncertain terms to whom you are listening. The track has a powerful finish and I can easily see this song becoming a closer at live shows, pre encore obviously. “Rejoice forever more. Victor to the core”

My God Given Right, the title track of the album, is a decent offering. The reliance on the drums here makes the song seem familiar despite it being brand new. The bridge gets almost floaty with some distant keyboards thrown in which is potentially jarring. However, given the story behind the track and the message is delivers, I can let that slide. Andi Deris (vocalist) had stated on many occasions whilst promoting the album that his father had once told him that if whatever he did made him happy, that would make him happy also.

Following this is Stay Crazy, some standard speed metal fare with an almost happy lilt to the riffs. The track builds very nicely and contains a fantastic solo with some brilliant guitar work from those talented fingers which made me yearn for an instrumental. The outro is odd however, it slows down to an almost ballad like pace and cuts out. Lost in America is based on a true story that has a very classic 80’s outro. The track itself unfortunately fades into the background compared to the other songs on offer.

Russian Roulé is one of my favourite tracks on the whole album. Obviously with a play on words with the word roulette and the incorporation of good ol' rock ‘n’ roll. It is a more modern song which perfectly captures the evolution of Helloween. In fact, this track sounds very much like it could act as diegetic music in an action movie during a high stake chase or moral decision or life montage. Especially now in the ‘Superhero Era’, just close your eyes and the track evokes all kinds of images.

The Swing of a Fallen World has a slow and methodical pace, with a metronome quality to it. This track would not be out of place on 2000’s Dark Ride album. You can envision the ‘fallen world’ swinging like a pendulum. It is a good track but it markedly slows the pace of the album from the previous freneticism. The 90’s style inquisitory guitar work is very much in the vein of Alice In Chains, which meshes brilliantly with the ever pulsing throb in the background of this track. Like Everybody Else displays the variety that Helloween can do, the track contains southern US style strumming and heralds the return of the empowerment theme. The change in style is a welcome break and makes Swing’s slowing of album pace work very well.

Creatures In Heaven is a great rock track with a great keyboard intro. It sounds quintessentially 80’s; distant choral chants over lamentous keyboards that picks up pace and emotion as it goes, gathering steam until we enter a full on rock disco. Over the 80’s style ‘future sound’ it progresses into almost swing metal territory. The vocals create a sound that despite it’s obvious roots, it matches the output of the past two albums by both Helloween and Iron Maiden (the two are spiritual twins after all) including the Dickinson laugh!

If God Loves Rock ‘N’ Roll is an eventuality that we’ve all questioned ourselves about at some point and Helloween provide the answer. He does. So let's all go to heaven as it has metal and rock. It’s an instant foot tapper and provides a nice change on the whole ‘rock is the devils music’ shtick. “Even in heaven, you need a bass guitar.” Living On The Edge is a classic Helloween styled track; the drums fade out and the lyrics are highlighted in an almost conspiratorial manner – very Helloween. Everything you love about speed and power metal is in this track, despite the mildly generic lyrics, the musical quality is off the scale and has a beautiful fade out.

Claws is very energetic track but again, like Lost In America, it seems to be an ‘also ran’ and becomes forgettable. You, Still of War is the longest song on the album and like all classic Helloween ballads, tells a brilliant story. With a standard, distant ballad-y opening, you know exactly what you are strapping in for. The combination of ballad and trash works very well, unlike most songs which use the effects like a roller coaster, this feels more like a snaking highway. One side has the usual powerful ballad offerings and the other has a trashy styled fast paced output. The track blends the two fantastically and does not become too disparate. It’s almost seamless and the journey it takes you on should close the album.

I Wish I Were There and Wicked Game suffer very much from track placement. I Wish I Were There sounds like an early track but comes off like filler material here. Although, props to getting an iPhone reference in a heavily 90’s style song. Potentially the only thing that lets you realise that this song wasn't recorded in 1994. Free World is a bonus track that is a much more modern song that follows on directly from the style of the previous album. Containing all the speed metal tropes, the track is socio-political in a way that is very well executed.

Despite how much I love this album and have listened to it many times, I feel I can't fully recommend this to someone who has never listened to Helloween before because there is so much love and joy to be gained from the reminiscence of this heavily 80’s/90’s based album. The inspiration for the sound is evidently from this era and if you have no desire to place yourself back there, this album will leave you wanting. However, if you appreciate power metal, speed metal and the days when music wasn't all created by auto tune and random squeaky voices; this album will keep your soul warm at night. Still, If you are looking for your first foray into Helloween, I would first recommend Dark Ride or the seminal Keeper of the Seven Keys part II, but this record will more than suffice and is a great listen. If you have enjoyed the likes of Helloween, Gamma Ray or Iron Maiden before and have not yet listened to this album, I highly suggest you rectify this.

My God Given Right is available now through Nuclear Blast

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Coal Chamber-Rivals

Well, it's been a long time coming! Coal Chamber have recently revived the band with a new album and a hefty tour schedule! How have the years apart affected the band - if they have at all - and importantly, what does that mean for the sound of the album? We asked Gary Lee to find out for us!

Coal Chamber are back! While that news when it was first announced was likely met with just as much criticism as it was excitement, I can gladly say I was among the throng of excited fans. I was a big Coal Chamber fan in my teens, ever since I heard Fiend on music television I've been hooked. Fiend came from the 2002 album Dark Days which would also contain anthems of my youth such as Something Told Me, Rowboat and Empty Jar. As I began to explore the Coal Chamber sound more, I found a sound that was as frenetic and energetic as it was dark and industrious. I unearthed Loco from their debut album Coal Chamber released in 1997, the video for which was as enthralling as it was frightening.

In same year that Dark Days was released, Coal Chamber and its members began to have their difficulties which lead to a very public display of frustration and lead to vocalist Fafara joining Devildriver, whilst in 2010, guitarist Miguel Rascón and drummer Mike Cox joined together once again in a post-punk outfit named We Are The Riot. Stylistically, Devildriver were/are a heavier sounding band than Coal Chamber, with their sound rooted in death metal and groove metal. Of course this meant that Fafara's vocals tended to be much more aggressive, with Devildriver displaying his hard gravelly growls much, much more.

However, Rascón and Cox continued to ply their energetic trade of bouncy punkish rhythms and big groove riffs in their new outfit. Yet it was done so through a slightly more mainstream vehicle than the dark and menacing tone that I always saw Coal Chamber through.

So how have the 13 years apart affected Coal Chamber? What artefacts are still carried from the musical journeys the members have undertaken since the day of the split? Is the aptly named Rivals a sign of a hatchet firmly buried and the beginning of a new undertaking for Coal Chamber? Join me as I intend to do what I can to find the answers to these questions.

Firstly it is clear just by looking at the track names such as I.O.U. Nothing, Bad Blood Between Us, The Bridges You Burn, Another Nail The Coffin and Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets) that both personal and collective demons were exorcised in the making of this album. But how does it sound? Well, the album kicks off with I.O.U. Nothing. 

The song was chosen as the lead single from the album, so some of you may have already heard it. But, nonetheless we shall cover it here. The song starts with a grating riff that has a great 'industrial metal' quality to it, as well as sounding somewhat like a metallic siren. Once the drums kick in we are back to the flailing energy we are used to with Coal Chamber; the song has a great 'stomp' to it. However, once vocalist Fafara enters the fray, the song becomes much more aggressive. His gravelly and impassioned delivery reminding me of his Devildriver days, specifically What Does It Take (To Be A Man). That is not to say that it doesn't sound like a Coal Chamber song, far from it, but the band is now the sum of their journey and it is interesting to note where they have come from. In all, the first song does a great job of heralding their return. It is aggressive and bold, yet it has enough of that old Coal Chamber flair to be considered their own. It's as though they broke the shackles of their past and charged back into relevance with a clear message; I owe you nothing for who I was, here is who I am.

Bad Blood Between Us starts with a tense scaling riff, before it is pulled apart by a menacing rhythmic chug. Stylistically, this reminds me of Something Told Me from Dark Days even down to the maddened energy and vocal bounce. Another solid offering. However the next song I want to bring attention to is Suffer in Silence. Not only is it the second single from the album, but it is the first outing of Fafara's twisted, slightly throaty vocal stylings that I have missed since the early days of Coal Chamber. Once again there is the groove and the bounce that has been spoken about in this article already, I get the sense that the energy in this song, along with the memorable and easily shouted "suffer in silence" hook, will make this a live crowd favourite. So, if you're seeing Coal Chamber live at all, watch/listen out for this one! If you're hearing them in the comfort of your own environment, turn it up!

Orion is another twist and turn down the dark end of the Coal Chamber psyche. Fafara's spoken vocals, weaving in and out of a discordant melody and a stuttering rhythm that combines to create a rather unsettling experience. But, this is the kind of thing this album had been missing till this point, so I am glad to see it's return! This atmospheric and disturbing side of Coal Chamber that is exhibited in older songs such as Dark Days, Pig and Sway, is one of the reasons I was drawn into their music in the first place.

From there, the album romps through Another Nail The Coffin, the title track, Rivals, the heavy and thumping Wait and Dumpster Dive.

Over My Head, is a thumping groove driven romper that evokes Devildriver again, as well as older Coal Chamber songs, such as I from the first album, which also features a great Rage Against The Machine style bassline opening. I firmly believe this is another one worth turning up, thrashing out to and enjoying in the physical manner metal music is best enjoyed. From here, the album speeds through Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets) before hitting the ode to the early millennium, Empty Handed. I love the rolling drums and the industrial styled guitar parts in this track, in my opinion another one to look out for!

Overall, I feel this is a fine return album for Coal Chamber and considering the trials and tribulations the band have been through to even make this album, I feel that it should be celebrated. If you were a fan of Coal Chamber then I don't see any reason why you would dislike this album. It builds rather well on the foundation the band built all that time ago. If you never knew of Coal Chamber, then perhaps you should check it out, or perhaps you have already through these videos and such like! Either way, a worthy part of a groove metal fan's collection.

Rivals is available now and is released through Napalm Records.

Article By: Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

For more info and to keep up with everything we have to offer here at Musical Chairs, please like and support our Facebook page!

You can buy Rivals here

Napalm Records

FOR THE LOVE OF VINYL! One man's insight into vinyl collecting and its culture.

Alternative aficionado Ryan Sweeney takes us through why he loves vinyl, World Record Store Day and what he calls "the beauty of the LP."

Heavy. Impractical. Redundant. But, beautifully endearing. The gramophone vinyl record is the reason the music industry exists today. Invented by the Thomas Edison Company in the mid 19th century, it revolutionized the way music was consumed, allowing the recording of and distribution of audio. Think about the effect this has had for a moment; without this we would not have music radio, studio recorded music (which also includes things like synthesizers and sampling), the entire touring system as we know it and to some extent the very idea of celebrity and fame is affected. In my opinion the vinyl record is one of the most important cultural advances ever achieved. But why in a world with CDs, Spotify and iTunes are we still drawn to this technologically outdated and ridiculously cumbersome way of listening to music?

Personally, I believe the whole style and look of a record reminds of us a time in music that fans can point to and say "that era was the most productive, the most creative and the most entertaining era in the history of the music industry." This is debatable I know, but if you look at what is often referred to as 'the Golden Era' by vinyl collectors you can see why some would think this. Within this time period from around 1960 to about 1985 the music industry exploded and the LP became the artists tool of expression and a must buy for the music fan. Think about what came out during this time: Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles, Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan, Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel, Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath, Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd, Rumors - Fleetwood Mac, Hotel California - The Eagles and moreThese are only a few albums that are not just associated with vinyl collecting but have also etched themselves into the fabric of modern popular culture. So I feel there is a hearkening back to what is viewed by some as being a better time for music and the desire to relive these classics in their original form, hoping to recapture the magic of when first hearing them.

"Nothing beats the warm crackle of vinyl just before the track kicks in." We can debate audio quality until the cows come home. Yes, we know the Blu-Ray CD will take over the world. Yes, we know the remastering of Moving Pictures is so good that you can hear the sticks striking the skins. But vinyl just has an indescribable warmth to it, you can judge how loved a record is by all the little audio imperfections it has gained over time. Each little skip tells it's own story and each bit of fuzz is an anecdote unto itself. It's this wear and tear that gives the vinyl more personality than the CD and streaming services, but unlike the CD and the cassette, the minor degradation does not harm the listening experience. My 1969 original press copy of Tommy is battered, some of the tracks are fuzzy, there's a few skips here and there but I still love this edition of the album over my CD copy. Not in spite of, but because it just has that worn, well loved feeling about it, from the cover to the LPs themselves. It's this charm that I feel adds a more personal connection to the vinyl than other available mediums.

In this modern times of extensive capitalism and the global domination of chain stores, I feel it is important for us to support our local, independent record stores and what better way to do that than my favorite time of year that lets me have a consumerist binge than World Record Store Day? The one day a year that exclusive, new vinyl releases appear in independents all round the world. Over the last few years this event has grown in support, from a regional event to a world wide phenomenon. It is the perfect time of year for casual fans to check out new releases and the hardcore collectors to get their hands on limited edition, coloured, remasters, the good stuff people need to add that bit of flair to their record collections. Over the last 2 years I have taken part in the event I have come away with some really quite neat items that all take pride of place among my collection. I urge any fan who likes getting up early in the morning and standing outside shops to go down, you might just find something you like.

Will the vinyl revival last forever? I can't really say for sure, I know vinyl will always have a special place in my heart. The days killed listening to whole albums over and over again, the excitement of opening the cellophane, examining the record and flicking through the booklet. Vinyl has a magic to it that I know I will always love and it's this magic that I believe will be the reason vinyl will stand the test of time. When every new technology comes along and takes the limelight we always end up coming back to vinyl because the history of vinyl is the history of the music industry and as long as that warm crackle is still audible somewhere in the universe, someone will always be drawn back to it.

This has been one vinyl junkie's opinion on the phenomenon that is vinyl, what do you think? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Let us know and remember keep checking out Musical Chairs for more news, reviews and articles.

R.Sweeney (@thecautiouscrip)

For more info and to keep up with everything we have to offer here at Musical Chairs, please like and support our Facebook page!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Review: Schammasch-Sic Lvceat Lvx

The metal is back! Surprisingly too, black metal is back! What is normally a winter release genre hits us with a dose of evil to see us through the Summer months! Gary Lee checks it out!

Summer is here! The birds sing as dawn breaks through the cover of clouds. People laugh and children frolic (people totally do that still, right?) in their gardens. So, of course, what we need to accompany this serene seasonal picture is the crushing noxiously evil riffs of black metal! Luckily for us, Swiss black metallers Schmanmasch are here to provide just that with their new offering to the Gods "Sic Lvceat Lvx" 

The album is a follow up to 2014's Contradiction, which was a damn fine release itself that narrowly missed the top 20 metal albums of the year. So rest assured that this is a band of quality and their prolific releases suggest a band charged with passion! The album kicks off with the obligatory black metal instrumental opener Lux Aeterna, which is a dread filled dirge that wouldn't sound out of place in a doom metal album. It has that "At The Gallows End" (Candlemass) feel, although it is obviously without the operatic, Meat Loaf-esque vocals. Instead, we are treated to the brutal and morose deathrattles of the Schmanmasch vocalist and that is fine with me!

He Whose Face Is Made Of Entrails is a typical black metal buffet, with all the usual 'all the blast beats you can eat' thrills. Although the downtempo, chugging bridge with its thrashy riff is a nice little twist on the deal. Chaos Reigns is a maddening (and I mean that lovingly) journey of swirling metal riffs and insanity tinged vocals, perhaps exactly what you may expect from a song with such a name.

No Light From The Fires is another black metal romp, although it has nihilistic doom metal tinges but that seems to be a creeping trend inside modern black metal. I am, however, a fan of the fading out acoustic outro allowing the listener an area of bleak contemplation when the cacophony is over. The doom metal motifs are still gripping tight in the following track Black, But Shining with a riff that calls back to the album opener. The vocal style is once again tinged with insanity in a delivery that is charged with feeling and reminds me of the previously covered A Forest Of Stars. INRI is another 'nothing ventured' black metal affair. Although once again it is a solid offering, I do find that it often blends into the following track The Venom Of The Gods.

The Venom Of The Gods is probably the strongest track on this album, although after several listens that gulf is getting smaller. The intro takes inspiration from the more gothic/satanica end of black metal, with its swirling riffs and and shrill bends. But soon it devolves into another doom inspired melo-fest! The crushing chug and stomp of the doom march at around 4:44 is a particular highlight! In fact, I am a fan of the entire outro in general, the longer time really allows the band to stretch their wings and show more of what we saw on the previous release.

Overall, I feel this is a solid offering to their growing discography. It continues their sound, building on things heard previously and allowing the band to find their feet. They are clearly a band with talent but Schmanmasch are learning to walk before they run here and I commend that. While 'great' genre defining tracks are in short supply here, bad tracks are nowhere to be seen. This is an album that you will not be disappointed with.

Article By: Gary Lee (@thewheelbear)

For more info and to keep up with everything we have to offer here at Musical Chairs, please like and support our Facebook page!

See everything Schammasch have to offer on their bandcamp, here.