Monday, February 11, 2013

Ancient Reign - Of Moonlights Glare (EP)

Hey guys, here is a new review by my new member of TF Zine! Check his review out. ~D

It has been some time since I have actually done a feasible review, especially one on an underground act such as this. I must admit, I have been out of touch with a lot of music lately so I have had little time to unearth new acts or projects for my listening pleasure. So to speak, this will be a review on the 2013 EP "Of Moonlights Glare" from Candian Black Metal band Ancient Reign.

I'm not all that familiar with this act, mostly as stated before I been out of the loop now for a few years. Ancient Reign is a folk black metal band from Halifax, Canada back in 2007. Apparently they released a small demo that was released under limited press but they have not released much until just recently. As I have found though, these Canadian acts truly know how to craft their art.

In many of ways, Ancient Reign reminds me if bands like Trollech, Nokturnal Mortum, Volh, and Svartby. The guitar riffing on this release is raw in essence but very clear and audible compared to many underground acts in the genre that have erupted onto the scene as of late. The riffs are heavy and somewhat punkish in its underlining feel, but there is a constant shift from that "main" opener riff into much more majestic and melodic folky melodies and tunes that truly has the listener being sucked in to the songs. Nothing here is original by any means, but unlike some of the bands mentioned before except excluding a few, Ancient Reign has an odd way of sucking the listener into each song. There are a heavy use of keyboard work and synths utilizing the breadth of the folk melodies and replicating the traditional folk instruments typically used or synthesized by bands in this genre. The melodies are very well done and don't over play there welcome. Which is refreshing in a genre that either becomes monotonous by design or acts that never allow a certain riff or melody to truly develope. Ancient Reign shows that they can write a song with competent song structuring not always found in underground black metal projects/bands.

Back to production values, everything in this release is audible and crystal clear, only failing so in the drum department. I'm not saying the drums are absent or inaudible, but a lot of bands I have found in this genre to put more emphasis on the guitars and synths and putting the drums and bass further into the mix, which by no means is a bad thing. In many ways I enjoy It more so because of the uncanny and difficult nature to record a drum kit...sometimes sounding like shit on a low if recording. Other bands or solo acts just opt out all together and use a drum machine. However the drums are fairly well done and match the music well. Nothing can be more more annoying then having super fast blast beats during a segment that just doesn't find compatibility for the style. Everything on this release just fits well in the mix overall.

Out of all the songs, the first track (not the intro track) "The Arrival" and the last track "Winter's Reign" were my favorites. Many a reason because these two for me stood out the most. the Arrival being the longest track on the EP and utilizing far more variety in the composition, even the use of acoustics take a decent portion if the overall length of the song, and its use of synths just truly added to that nice folky sound that I have come to love . The latter song being much shorter but of average length has solid riffing, and some good melodies that gets one into the song. I fairly enjoyed the entire album. My only problem with the release being the two songs in the middle, "Of Moonlights Glare" the title track just being way too short and its over before you know it. The follow up song however, "Through Forests Eternal" is a much better song. Using some good folky riffing that comes off as a more melodic and audible version of Graveland and even utilizes some good low guttural growls weaved into the mix in unison with the black metal raspy shrieks. The more I listen to the track, i find it to be just as good as my two favorites from the album. It's the title track that falls short and is easily a passable track.

For fans of blackened folk metal or folky black metal akin to bands I mentioned then check out Ancient Reign. They don't try anything very unique here on this release but it still comes as refreshing in a saturated genre.

For those of you out there looking for a numerical score, I really don't score by numerical grade. I'm not one to "rate" or score. I'm going to articulate to some degree on the pros and cons....and I sayith unto thee...check out this fucking band NOW!!!

By Munnin

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Appalachian Winter - Ghosts Of The Mountains (Review)

Since I do not got much else to do at the moment! I figured hell... I might as well get to reviewing some shit. Lets get started!

This is the latest release by Pennsylvanian State band from mayba yer neck of the frozen woods! Appalachian Frigging Winter!!!! FUCK YES!!! Yes, I added frigging, how thoughtful of me? Appalachian Winter rather. Troll me... I dare you motherfucker. As for the album, it is called Ghosts of The Mountains!!! A album which defines the concepts and stories involved in the local area I believe... in Daniel Klyne's sense.(?) The album has song names that may mean other things, defining a vast majority of other worldly subjects, but this release also hits home to the man behind the music I think. I would not call it a political is moar of a EPIC WINS album!!! in my book. If you are a fan of movies such as Krull, Legend, Gladiator, anything that has to do with fairy tales, mysticism, medieval times.... within the boundaries of black metal, you will dig it. A mix bag of a bunch of folk/acoustic guitar playing, flutes, keys, woodwinds, horns, trumpets, with a echoing, powerful vocal approach in a clean sense, not Into Eternity sounding rather, but just damn powerful! The first song Rebellion Within The Young Nation gives off a very big, booming eurphoric vibe, and also has many many layers of sound in it. Its pretty damn good I say. It starts the swing of things and jumps right into the madness.

Patriarchs is, you can say, one of those "folk tracks", in the beginning, which comes off as something "Richie Blackmore" renaissance like? It flows well, and is not too flashy or wank/fap technical but more flowing then anything, and then jumps right into the heavy! Surrounded by a heavy, clean vocals, in a spoken word approach? I am not sure what to call it but it flows damn well, then jumping into the blackened vocals, rushing you into a barrage of drums, guitars, keys, then jumping back into the spoken word approach from the start. And when I mean booming and echoing, as in, these vocals, they are really that deep and almighty....!!! Then it cuts back into the blackened, darker vocals of the last verse, leading into a piano piece I really enjoy and closes the track perfectly. Very deep man!

3rd one, Ancestors of The Lake, this is the first tune I heard off his band page for this album I think awhile back. Its opens with some keys, and a serene flute. A then sweeping orchestral piece comes in with the keys going in and out, with the flute coming back, man I love this ocarina! Or flute, fuck knows what it is, but I love it. As the flute cuts out, a war like percussion follows and a acoustic guitar piece, with a actual spoken word piece, for these are ravens, and nothing more!!!! They are only rain drops, and nothing more!!! WE SHALL ALL BE DUST AND NOTHING MORE!!! GAH!!! Yes!!!! that was fucking awesome. Now it goes into the heavy, man... I am really going to be dissecting this album through out for you readers. Consider it as a warning...but that spoken word piece was pretty awesome is all I could say. Give this one a listen, it is very enticing and meaningful, to my ears, and dumb heart feelings.... and stuff....ha, I need many years of therapy now..... next up!

The Town Old Man Schell Built... is a track with a heavy opening, jumping back into that flute, man, that flute is awesome. But yeah, this one is heavy as fuck and hits you off your feet. Now I am hearing a drum along to acoustics, the overall composition, the way each track is played out, it is like gymnastics. It has substance, and muscle. Not a guitar driven scream along, but much deeper and these tracks really stand apart from most black metal I can say. I could not call this album black metal really either, it is just a epic mind fuck. Now back into the heavy from the start, after the acoustics, I lost myself there, but I tend to wander along with music so forgive me and my precision on describing these song the best I can. But yeah, heavy, clean, heavy, and closing....solid tune here. It is a solid town built by Papa Schell!!!

Keystone opens with some acoustics, and I hear woodwinds heavy to be found so far, but I am enjoying this. Now all the sudden it stops and you hear horns and rumbling. The guitar is back now to hypnotize with steady drumming, cuts into the rumbling, and a powerful swoop in the air I go! The heavy along with the instruments present in the softer passages of this song real flow well together. No vocals, just a epic leap forward! Damn epic indeed. Pure instrumental, and now flutes! YES I fucking love these flutes. Track ends....just a instrumental with some major power behind it. Something fresh in the mix of things. 

The Great this one is starting and has a very heavy key opening, followed by a bell like sound going into the war percussion march, with layers of keys and horns in the mix. I am now just waiting for this one to explode, and it does! Nice riffs, steady drumming,  a mixture of the blackened and clean vocals again. A heavy tune throughout and then stops....back to the keys. I like the dramatics behind this whole album so far. I read some people saying how its like a soundtrack, it really does give off that vibe. The soloing now present with some vocals is pretty well done, the guitars are dual soloing in the mix I believe and make way into the heavy. I sometimes imagine what this would look like recreated in a live setting. I am sure it would be a sight to behold. War drums close the track with the keys from the beginning nicely.... a battle of civil war proportions!

Pennsylvanian, this opening scream is high! very HIGH! reminds me of a Rob Halford of sorts. Then goes into some more singing in the clean approach into some thick and powerful blackened vocals. Treading along with the heavy and flowing into some keys. Fuck is there anything I can think of other then the words keys and heavy? Damn it I suck at this, moving along, one of the heavier tracks off this album, the drums really stand out in this album, even if they are programed and key created. A swift stop, more orchestra! Going straight into some more key work and rumbling into a booming guitar and vocal driven part with some high vocals from the beginning mixed with black metal like vocals. I am not sure if this is really Dan screaming that high.... if so, he really nailed it.

The Great Flood of 1889, sends you back into the heavy, but stops, a serene note is being played and roars in your face with the heavy again. This track has some bursting and colliding in the middle of it, like a flood maybe? This stop and go anyway, is really interesting and keeps the track flowing real good. The song has some great riffing towards the 4 minutes into it, then goes into more keys. The stops and goes are pummeling. Something I could imagine that was not too easy to pull off. Atmosphere and carnage.... in this great flood!

And the last song, The Cemetery Where Slaves Lie Buried, has some very stellar guitar work in the beginning, and goes into some clean vocals. Horrors can be found, they died for the dignity of our fellow man! Great stuff, into some war percussion, jumping into a very well thought out guitar passage. This one gives me chills.

This album really is a story in itself, and the only way I feel best to describe and review this album is to tell the tale of the story one song at a time. My skills at reviewing in a neat well thought out paragraph way like most, totally lack, but my taste and general examination of ones album that gives off a story-like presence to it, to me, leads me to this type of review. So if I am totally screwing this review up, I apologize....NOT!

Anyway, I have this in my cd in my collection, this album is a very well thought out, and a studio based only album. It is not a live act (even though I wish it were) it lacks real drums, even though the drums in all AW albums do sound wicked cool. I have to give this album a 9 out of 10. I think this may be my last time rating a album, maybe as the reader you are you probably thinking I am not being totally honest, so I swear this will be the last time I "Rate" a album. I figured it be easier to rate them, but after much thought, I do not really think it is. But in my mind and how I feel about this specific album and the last one I reviewed, I stand by my rating. Awesome stuff!

All in all, this album is a journey and like all journeys, they take time. So, if you got the time, sit down and give this album a listen! I am sure you will dig it if your a fan of black metal, folk, epic, or like keys in music. I am not the biggest fan personally of keys in music when it comes to heavier bands but if done right, it fits well with the music. This is one of those rare and special albums.

Take the free ride here! OR take the time out to buy the physical copy here if you can once released.  (Link under the photo!)

It will be available as a digi-pak and maybe... my stupid name will be on the credits. They who live in the mountains.... will always be free!!! ~D
                                CD OUT March 9th  @