Mammoth Volume – The Cursed Who Perform The Larvagod Rites

The Cursed Who Perform The Larvagod Rites Album Cover Art

Mammoth Volume – The Cursed Who Perform The Larvagod Rites
Blues Funeral Recordings
Release Date: 19/08/2
Running Time: 42:27
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Alright, me old muck spreaders? It is I, Dark Juan, and I come to you from a completely different house to Dark Juan Terrace as I am babysitting four guinea pigs (named Death, Fire, Fear and Mortis) and a fluffy bunny (who answers to Fang) for my grandchildren. They may or may not have the names I have assigned to them in actuality. I shall leave you to judge whether or not I am an inveterate liar but will leave you with this little nugget of information – I have a lot of stories and the more outlandish ones are the ones that are probably true. I also offer the following for your consideration, dear readers. My grandchildren are composed of three entities: one who I am convinced is a fae halfling and here to be an ecological force for good if you can only get her head out of a book for more than fifteen seconds, a teenager who has not yet reached the annoying stinky argumentative bastard phase but will only talk to you when he is prised away from his technology. Although it is entertaining watching him blunder into things when wearing his VR headset. Grandchild number three is a violent dictator who constantly wishes to know which is stronger – a megalodon or a T. Rex? This has gone through several evolutionary epochs already and shows no sign of slowing down. He is also a small palaeontologist who can pronounce the taxonomic names of dinosaurs more effectively than I can speak English. In between the fights. The boy loves nothing more than a good old-fashioned straightener on the cobbles…

So, as I am in unfamiliar surroundings, I have retreated into music to calm my fevered nerves. I don’t deal well with change and Dark Juan Terrace is my safe space. By that I mean it is for everyone else’s safety as I can get a mite… aggressive and unkind when I am struggling with something. Today’s balm for my tortured soul is from Mammoth Volume, the Swedish Prog Stoners, and is their first release for TWENTY years! I tell thee, when I think of twenty years, I am picturing the 1980’s. I can’t wrap my stupid, old and somewhat concussed (I clouted it on the landing yesterday and spent the day curled on the sofa because I was dizzy and sick. Put it this way, due to enforced resting, I now know more about the Iron Warriors and the Emperor’s Children of Warhammer 40k than I ever did) head around the fact that we are now over twenty years into the new millennium. I digress however…

It’s clear when this record comes on that you’re dealing with something a bit different than your usual Stoner or Doom Metal. Mammoth Volume clearly have as much to do with Yes and Jethro Tull and Hawkwind as they do with Doomster Reich or Kyuss. It’s actually pretty fucking good. ‘Osteoporos’ rocks heavily over classical keys and stabby strings with a glorious disregard for the conventions of any music, yet with a thoughtful acoustic passage with a touch of phaser wah in the background. ‘The Lightwedge 60’s Race, Zombie Piccolos and the German’ absolutely wins the award for most batshit song title of the year, but the tune is a marvellous, twisting, snakelike thing that takes you from Space Rock to Classic Hard Rock to Psychedelia and back again via a meandering, gently noodling outro. 

The band sound absolutely magnificent throughout the record, reminding this jaded old hack of Britain’s own Lucid Sins and Red Spektor mixed with Friendship and the Hard Rock stylings of Lucifer. Production-wise, the seasoned listener is in for a bit of a treat. Every instrument is perfectly placed in the mix, and the vocals sit in a position where they can be regarded as another instrument and of equal importance to the music as the guitar, bass and drums. Even the snare sound is acceptable and you all know how anally retentive I am about snare sounds. Fuzz, phaser and wah abound in quite egregious quantities and the fucking riffs this Swedish band have! Unholy fucking Satan, the riffs. Mammoth Volume have so many riffs they operate in some kind of otherworldly riff smorgasbord. They have a sea of riffs that they swim endlessly in. They are riff mermen who are unconcerned with musical rules – ‘A Lullaby Of Doom’ proves this by slowly building from a simple riff and maracas up to a full on Sabbathian assault by the end of the song.

Unusual sounds, little bits of dissonance and flicks of classical music, bells and triangle among other things give the record a surreal, otherworldly quality and the vocals are also superb – brothers Jörgen and Nicklas do a manful job throughout. Special mention for more clearly obvious insanity goes to ‘Diablo V – Lanternsong’ due to its chucking of Scandinavian folk, spoken word passages, acoustic finger picking, flute, insanity in the lyrical department and bass horns into some kind of alchemical cauldron and coming out with something that really does breathe new life and entertainment into Stoner and Prog by creating a soup of inventive arrangements and absolute batshit nonsense. ‘Diablo V’ could be a Jethro Tull song in more than a couple of parts, and this is to the band’s absolute credit. 

Basically, I think I have just found my new favourite Swedish band. When Lucifer, Blood Ceremony and Coven come smashing together, Mammoth Volume is what you get. Album opener ‘The Kuleshov Effect’ is a mighty tune. Chunky, rough cut guitar lords it over a wailing, plaintive vocal and female backing vocals courtesy of Iza Elfström and a chorus that could level cities with ease, Mammoth Volume effortlessly show that heavy doesn’t necessarily mean fast or violent. Slow and steady can also be heavy as fuck. ‘Diablo IV’ is also all laid-back grooves and lazily threatening – like a gangster relaxing in his chair, but cleaning his nails with a large knife and staring rather fixedly at the poor schmuck in front of him. Measured aggression.

So yeah, if you dig spaced out Stoner groove with added Prog madness, you’re gonna fucking love Mammoth Volume. Dark Juan officially does!

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Mammoth Volume a superstoned 10/10 for a simply incredible album. It hits every mark Dark Juan has for music. It’s heavy, it’s interesting, it’s inventive, it’s performed with verve and gusto and it’s fucking good fun trying to work out where it’s going next. Especially when you’re wrong. It even has a mad little 70’s porno keyboard solo in ‘Medieval Torture Device’.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Kuleshov Effect
02. Diablo IV
03. Medieval Torture Device
04. Want to Join Us? Come Back Later!
05. Osteoporos
06. The Lightwedge 60’s Race, Zombie Piccolos and the German
07. A King and a Tyrant
08. A Lullaby of Doom
09. Diablo V: Lanternsong

LINE-UP:
Jörgen “Aston” Andersson – Vocals
Daniel Gustafsson – Guitars, Keyboards
Kalle Berlin – Bass
Nicklas Andersson – Drums, Vocals, Percussions

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Graham Bonnet Band / Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters – Academy 3, Manchester

Graham Bonnet Band Poster

Graham Bonnet Band / Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters
Academy 3, Manchester
31/07/2022
Review by Dark Juan
Infinity/10

My friends! It has been an eventful week and no mistake! At the date of writing this epistle it is the day before I embark on my 48th lap around the sun, and tomorrow I get to go and feed arctic wolves which really is quite exciting. And drink lots of single malt whiskey. What was also exciting over the past few days was meeting old friends and new (NoHandsDan and Mikey) from the US and spending time in their august company, meeting a friend from the tattoo industry and having a beer with her, her (and now our) friend Helen and Mrs Dark Juan and whiling away an hour (and considerable funds) in Halifax Modellers’ World. I came out with a Vought F4U-1D Corsair and a bottle of intermediate US Navy blue paint. None of which even holds the tiniest of candles (votive or otherwise) to what I did at the end of July.

I ONLY WENT AND SAW (and met) MY FUCKING MUSICAL HERO DIDN’T I?!

Yes, I made the acquaintance of one Mr. Graham Bonnet, esquire. Regular readers will know that I have been a fan of this true gentleman for forty fucking years and I NEVER pass up the chance to tell anyone and everyone just how amazing he is. He’s absolutely fucking amazing, by the way. A true giant among hard rock and heavy metal vocalists. A man who made sure he was so different from the denim and leather clad hordes it made him truly distinctive. A man whose coiffure was always impeccable, whose stage attire was always elegant, whose shades were always impenetrable and whose musical chops are fucking insane. A Skeggy boy done good…

So, Mrs Dark Juan and I attended this gathering of the faithful at the marvellous Academy 3 in Manchester. The older UK readers among you all out there will no doubt remember this as the Hop And Grape. I memorably attended Pist.On there many years ago myself. Whilst Dark Juan and Mrs Dark Juan were amiably chatting to two chaps at the bar there was a rather massive thunderclap of sound and the always superb Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters exploded like a glitter-filled firework onto the stage. Now, Dark Juan knows Beth herself from the South Wales metal scene and has always found her a charming and lovely person, and indeed has had a long and involved discussion about just how good Paul Stanley signature Silvertone guitars are, and she’s from Lancashire to boot. 

BB&TBD have successfully cornered the market in good time rock n roll, their heavily KISS-influenced sound being the perfect way to kick off the party. Beth herself is a compelling and friendly frontperson, turning the fact that she had forgotten her acoustic guitar’s strap into an opportunity for some up close and personal action with the rabidly enthusiastic front row, seating herself at the front of the stage and singing her heart out. Likewise, the whole band were in spectacular form – guitarist Luke Strickland Gilmore throwing shapes like there’s no tomorrow, tub thumper Sam Brain being punishing in the rhythm department and Dan Rowe being chock full of low-slung bass attitude. Rather less of which was shown when he was cornered at the bar after their set by Mrs Dark Juan and obliged to buy her a drink… And at the front of it all was Beth herself, a compact ball of fizzing energy and good vibes with an Ibanez Iceman and a rasping rock and roll voice to die for. Highlight of the set was a raucous and cheerful version of ‘Jack And Coke’. Sadly my entreaties for them to play ‘Show Us Your Teeth’ went unheeded, but this is a British band to watch and cherish. They really should be massive.

https://www.facebook.com/BBATBDofficial

Now, this gig was supposed to come with an interview with Graham Bonnet himself, but due to logistical problems (mainly being the fucking M6 motorway and various motorists’ inability to drive along the fucking thing without binning their vehicles), the band arrived late in Manchester and there simply was not enough time to conduct one. However, I shall here offer my endless gratitude to Ever-Metal.com’s own Wallace Magri and six-string slinger Conrado Pesinato of the Graham Bonnet Band for their work together in making this evening happen. A photo pass was provided in recompense and your highly excited correspondent was primed with an extraordinary view of the proceedings. After I immediately abandoned Mrs Dark Juan to her fate (and inextricably linking Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters to hers mainly through her coercion of their bass player), made friends instantly with Jeremy, another photographer in the pit, the ever-engaging Graham Bonnet bounded out on to the stage and magic was afoot…

Holy fuck.

Holy fucking fuck.

Jesus Christ in a chariot-driven sidecar.

This was not a gig. This was fucking alchemy. The band were all tighter than an entire swarm of gnats’ chuffs and the man himself was a whirling tornado of limbs and voice. And, salaaming piously at his Converse-shod feet was Dark Juan, literally weeping for joy. This was somewhat regrettable when Dark Juan attempted to get back up and discovered he was stuck to the floor. It was the Academy 3, after all…

The set was incredible – the band playing lots of songs from Rainbow’s “Down To Earth”, including (it has to be said) a supreme rendition of ‘Since You Been Gone’, the soaring tones of Graham took us through a magnificently stentorian version of MSG’s ‘Assault Attack’ before launching into an extremely lugubrious version of Dark Juan’s favourite song in Graham Bonnet’s enviable canon – ‘Night Games’. Cue a slightly puzzled look from behind the impenetrable shades of the man himself at the rabid dickhead in the photo pit howling his own song back at him from a range of two yards instead of being a professional. However, the sheer power and commitment in his delivery puts to shame many acts who are much younger (the man is 74 years of age and rules a stage like no-one else can). The hunger and the passion of the whole band was clear to see and it made for a fucking awesome rock show.

The soundman has to be given major props for his work – the sound was crystal clear and everything easily heard but not overpowering – the absolutely superb shredding of Conrado Pesinato being note perfect throughout, Alessandro Bertoni playing his absolute heart out on the keys (I have never seen anyone throwing shapes on the keys before!) and there was also the low-end, admirably and elegantly handled by the ever-divine Beth-Ami Heavenstone. I can say nice things about her now because Mrs Dark Juan has met the lady in person, and they hit it off splendidly together and I now no longer risk death. As did I. 

The Very Good Things just kept on coming – I was far too carried away to even remember half the songs a highlight for me was the absolutely storming rendition of ‘Imposter’ from the Graham Bonnet Band’s current offering “Day Out In Nowhere” with the man himself holding the mic out for the assembled faithful to howl the admittedly colossal chorus back at him. https://www.ever-metal.com/2022/05/27/graham-bonnet-band-day-out-in-nowhere/ is the link you need if you wish to read the frothing madness that masquerades as a record review in my head.

After the evening’s offers were concluded, Dark Juan was cordially invited by the estimable and wonderful Conrado Pesinato (a very friendly and generous man, by the way, and an absolute pleasure to make his acquaintance) to come backstage to meet Mr. Graham Bonnet himself and make a personal introduction. As it turns out, after the man had listened to a good ten minutes of uninterrupted and quite disgraceful fangirling and wild exhortations from the writer of this rubbish, he proved to be a consummate gentleman, and upon learning I have been a fan of forty years standing, simply said, “What the fuck’s wrong with you, then?” and then happily signed my list of unasked interview questions. As did the ever-wonderful Beth-Ami. Yes, for once I went prepared. Even if I had originally forgotten my Dictaphone, necessitating a panicked dash back to the Schwerer Gothikpanzer to recover it. Graham even submitted gracefully to Mrs Dark Juan wrangling him for photos. The man is a bona fide fucking god and I will not hear a single fucking word against him ever. And I got a hug from Beth-Ami as well. My life is complete. There’s even photographic proof of it, courtesy of Mrs Dark Juan! Who didn’t kill me.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System still has not come down off the enormous emotional high and awards Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters and the Graham Bonnet Band infinity out of 10 for that rarest of things, a fucking perfect night in the company of wonderful people. It was lovely to catch up with Beth Blade herself after the show as well. What an evening, guys, gals and all other genders. What a fucking evening.

https://www.facebook.com/grahambonnetmusic


LINKS:
Venue:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Disconnected Souls – Kintsukuroi (Extended Single)

Kintsukuroi Single Cover Art

Disconnected Souls – Kintsukuroi (Extended Single)
Self Released
Release Date: 05/08/22
Running Time: 11:28
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Bonjour, wilkommen and bienvenue to (probably) another thousand words or so of “terrifying ranting” as the august Rory Bentley of Ever-Metal.com has characterised my wise and sage scribblings. Obviously the Hawaiian shirt-wearing botherer of long dead gigantic lizards (he sings in Diceratops) and wailer of such colossal proportions he is in danger of Jewish people lamenting near him doesn’t know sheer class when he reads it…

In other news, Mrs Dark Juan is listening to Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Rachel Fairburn on their “All Killa, No Filla” podcast and they have just quoted the newly adopted motto of Dark Juan.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that wank over that picture of an otter that looked like it had a pair of tits”. 

I can picture the coat of arms with absolute clarity. The Royal College Of Arms is apoplectic already. Sable a thrustingly erect, throbbing penis argent, quartered with gules hairy, ample bazongas argent on the escutcheon, supported by otters rampant and the motto proudly scrolled underneath. The Queen has summoned me and it is expected that my MBE offer is to be rescinded and there has been unguarded talk about the Traitors’ Gate being pressed back into use at the Tower of London. 

Hm. Perhaps Rory may have a point.

Let’s drag ourselves back to the reason I am writing this shit. You remember the review I wrote a while ago about a sampler from C-Squared Music? (https://www.ever-metal.com/2021/09/13/various-artists-c-squared-music-underground-music-special/ being the link you need to access this superb piece of descriptive writing) Disconnected Souls were on there (“Emergence + Divergence” being the song) and Dark Juan thought that they were really rather good, actually. Jolly hockey sticks and excellent to listen to whilst sipping Pimms, what. Anyway, I have grasped tightly in the sweaty mitt that might or might not have been used to achieve completion over a slightly moistened water rodent, the new single from these British genre-benders.

In classic Disconnected Souls fashion, they have thrown convention to the wind and on “Kintsukuroi” (being the ancient Japanese art of repairing cracks and splits in china and porcelain and the like with gold and lacquer, to enhance the break and the beauty of the piece by the repair, fact fans! I know. Literally no one asked, but I just can’t help myself) they once again sling everything including the kitchen sink and the entire cruet into the music and wait to see what occurs – this time a strong gothic influence wisps and weaves behind a clean vocal, although the bright, highly-produced guitar sound brings to mind American industrial metal and Evanescence AT THE SAME TIME with a sudden break into kawaii Japanese electronic industrial and the vocalist deciding that he has had enough of being nice and instead unleashes the full power of his throat before yet again there is another step change as guitar, drums and bass slowly build towards the climax of the song and then it trickles out on delicately played piano…

In many ways, Disconnected Souls are the metal equivalent of synthwave and the cinematic quality that genre of music has. DS’ music is easy to picture over (this song especially, on the instrumental version that comes after the one with the vocal terrorist on it) a slow-motion montage of explosions and a bunch of heroes being torn a new arsehole in some kind of neon-lit Shinjuku back alley by bio-armoured, wet-wared zaibatsu assassins until the last hero standing pulls out his plasma sword from the back sheath, thumbs the on switch are carves his way out in a welter of superheated cutting gas and steel, blood, bone and brains. Cut to bloodstained hero wearily leaving the pile of corpses, severed limbs and bio-neural circuitry behind him as he moves into the crowd on the main street, blending seamlessly into a faceless mob of brightly dressed, happy souls and out of the shot as the piano winds down.

Cinematic metal. That is how Disconnected Souls (who are based in Chester, by the way) describe themselves and I agree. Both the vocal and instrumental versions are slickly produced and coherent, especially considering the disparate influences weaving their way in and out of the tunes, and everything just WORKS. I really like this young and up and coming bunch of British bruisers (apart from Holly. She looks far too polite and pleasant to be a bruiser. Unless she is some kind of martial arts genius and Dark Juan is now in for a fucking good kicking) and I think a full album should be made post-haste, good gentlefolk.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards 8/10 for a fine song that works both instrumentally and with vocals. Marks have been deducted because I wanted another song as well as the two versions of the same song, and also because I am a miserable, MISERABLE bastard.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Kintsukuroi
02. Kintsukuroi (Instrumental)

LINE-UP:
Matthew Simon Fletcher
Patrick Lloyd
Holly Royle
Felix King
Tim Jenkins

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Oceans Of Slumber – Starlight And Ash

Starlight And Ash Album Cover Art

Oceans Of Slumber – Starlight And Ash
Century Media Records
Release Date: 22/07/22
Running Time: 48:28
Review by Dark Juan
6/10

Hello, my fiends. It is I, Dark Juan, and I am discovering the delights of Aldi’s Dr. Pepper analogue. It is called Professor Peppy and for some reason this has amused the fuck out of me and I giggle every time I look at the bottle. I am a man of simple pleasures and even simpler humour. In fact, Mrs Dark Juan would claim (with some justification) that I am just simple. She’s probably right.

As this rock spins around the sun, covered in a load of humans who account for only the most infinitesimal percentage of the mass of the universe, yet who consider themselves so important that the universe should bend over and reveal its secrets to us, I find myself ruminating on the nature of humanity. A race capable of squandering so much potential by allowing themselves to be governed by the people who are most unsuited to power – those being the ones who clamour to wield it. Why do we trust our lives to psychopaths and hypocrites? Why do we, the people, not rise up against these oppressors and forge a different path for ourselves? I, Dark Juan, did not consent to be governed by anyone. Indeed, I’d be much more comfortable if I were governing myself. My mate Tony and I will have the UK sorted out in five minutes flat, when we tear down the system and build a new one based on Yorkshire common sense and not on rich folk protecting their own. Come the revolution you’ll find me leading from the front. Something has to change.

 Flat caps will be compulsory on a Sunday.

Speaking of revolution, I am listening to Houston, Texas based Oceans Of Slumber. If you are a long time studier of my peculiar compositions, you’ll no doubt recall that I reviewed “The Banished Heart”, being the last long playing release by the band I have heard, way back when in 2018, and properly raved about it, the sheer intelligence of the music and the absolute ASSET that the voice of Cammie Beverly is. Her soulful delivery runs the full gauntlet from softly charming and seductive to venom-spitting fury and she was a part of a modern progressive metal masterpiece at that time. Shall we see if Oceans Of Slumber have another one on their hands?

First of all, I note with trepidation that the blurb states that “Starlight And Ash” marks a new sound for the band (“You are all witnesses to the birth of Spinal Tap Mark II. Hope you enjoy our new direction…”) with a decided pivot towards Southern Gothic music. Now, I don’t know whether you metalheads have actually heard any Southern Gothic music, but it is best described as country music written by even more depressed musicians than normal practitioners of country. They are more at risk of mental health difficulties than blues musicians and Amy Winehouse combined. It is slow and gloomy and all about peoples’ dead dogs, lovers, the Appalachian Mountains and how beautiful they are even though Emmie-Lou fell off one of them and her head exploded like an overripe melon, but by god the scarlet on the white was gorgeous to behold. Basically it sounds like Willie Nelson discovered depressive black metal and the Sisters Of Mercy at the same time and then stuck a wailing violin and a twangy bastard banjo over the top of it and dug up the corpse of Rover to weep over whilst drinking whiskey and rye.

I’m not sure I like it. All the right ingredients are there – lush songwriting, a crystal clear production that renders everything more glacial and pure than an Antarctic winter, staggering musicianship and the emotional and ardent singing, but I can’t help it. It feels somehow contrived. ‘Just A Day’ amply demonstrates this – an absolutely jaw-dropping song, but one much superior to much of the album because it is more concentrated on being heavy than clever. And the cover of The Animals’ seminal ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ is fucking awful. If Cammie had sung an acapella version, it would have been goosebump-inducingly wonderful, but slinging a mournful cello over finger-picked acoustic guitar and possibly the most disinterested-sounding keyboardist ever does not constitute an acceptable version of a bona fide classic. 

I think I have identified the problem. I think this album has been too long in the making. It’s been overthought and overwrought. The band are trying too hard. There are flashing moments of brilliance, but it is not a very cohesive thing. ‘The Shipbuilder’s Son’ is a perfect case in point – satisfyingly chuggy guitars give way to mournful, affecting quiet passages and then to soaring, slow crunching, but there’s too much stopping and starting and too much reliance on Cammie Beverly’s undeniable vocal supremacy to carry the composition through, and this is a recurring problem throughout the album. It’s too self-indulgent. And it’s not because I don’t understand progressive music either. I have a 14-cd box set of Van Der Graaf fucking Generator on my review list…

It’s a crying shame because the opening track, ‘The Waters Rising’ is simply brilliant, effortlessly melding Cammie’s warm, intimate delivery with an electronically enhanced drumbeat and soulful backing vocals, and an interesting lyric, and a slowly building sense of purpose, especially when the band hit the gas and crash into the heavy fucking metal, however briefly. 

Wow. I’m so disappointed I want to go and kill someone’s beloved pet or child in a bizarrely misplaced act of vengeance because I wanted to love this record so much, and I just don’t. It is slow and maudlin and not what I remember Oceans Of Slumber to be. When they start playing metal, it is absolutely staggering in its intelligence and complexity, but the metal moments are too few and far between and there’s too much focus on noodling – ‘Hearts Of Stone’ is a brilliant metal song but it is followed by ‘The Lighthouse’ which is not a good metal song. It is not a metal song at all. The styles the band are trying to merge are too divergent. I intensely dislike the little slide guitar lick on it, but as Cammie sings her heart out, she’s capable enough to turn the ugliest sow’s ear into a glorious silk purse and she lifts it beyond poor, to acceptable.

In conclusion, then. A record that tries too hard to meld music made by depressed shotgun owners who would massacre their way around surrounding farms if they didn’t have instruments, with heavy metal. It doesn’t really gel and the Southern Gothic elements jar uncomfortably against the heavier stuff. When it’s good it is simply sublime but there are not enough great moments on the record. The main saving grace is the singing of Cammie Beverly, which is always exemplary. Southern Gothic music should be of an earthy, home grown quality that speaks of isolation and pain, yet this album suffers from having too clean a production that robs the songs of any emotion or pathos.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is astounded that it has actually reached the dizzying heights of competence in review writing for several minutes now, but remains disappointed in Oceans Of Slumber and awards them 6/10 for a real bum note in their otherwise enviable canon.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Waters Rising
02. Hearts Of Stone
03. The Lighthouse
04. Red Forest Roads
05. The Hanging Tree
06. Salvation
07. Star Altar
08. The Spring of 21
09. Just A Day
10. House Of The Rising Sun
11. The Shipbuilder’s Son

LINE-UP:
Dobber Beverly – Drums, piano 
Cammie Beverly – Lead vocals 
Mat V. Aleman – Keyboards 
Semir Ozerkan – Bass, backing vocals 
Jessie Santos – Guitars 
Alexander Lucian – Guitars, backing vocals 

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

GLDN – First Blood EP

First Blood EP Cover Art

GLDN – First Blood EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 22/07/22
Running Time: 15:52
Review by Dark Juan 
5/10

Well, today has been a right day of ups and downs, and it’s only 12:48 at the time of me settling to write some stuff that literally one person in Somalia reads. I will not be sated and will keep doing this until the mighty Ever-Metal.com juggernaut has conquered North Korea and the righteous power of metal topples the Kim dynasty and Juche communism is brought to an end, and the victory parades will celebrate the day a better world was won. Yes, that was a VNV Nation lyric I managed to shoehorn into a metal record review. Anyway, since I have got home from wrangling young gentlemen, I have had to take to task a fucking gammon dickhead for having a bash at my friend Sarah as she has an Eastern European surname, discovered that the biggest joke I have ever heard or seen is my current bank balance, had to warn a teenager about the dangers of sending unsolicited dick pics and the fact it will be all over social media in a day or two, and when the inevitable fallout happens it will be HIS OWN FAULT, and have had to make coffee in an effort to stimulate my poorly abused brain cells into some spasmodic form of life in order to provide you with concise and precise information about the Brooklyn, NY based GLDN and their latest EP, “First Blood”.

GLDN are the brainchild of one Nicholas Golden, who appears to be another of those really irritating bastards who can play everything and sing as well, and “First Blood” is the debut record from him. The blurb states that GLDN is, “An unnerving and rage filled world [of GLDN] where boundaries are pushed and your comfort is NOT paramount! Daring and transgressive, GLDN cannot be contained, nor put into a single musical category – with elements of industrial, metal, and crust punk with passionate and furious vocals.” 

This is all well and good, but GLDN’s world actually appears to be tinkly-bwomp NIN-esque squelches with a Marilyn Manson aping baritone and a very similar sounding scratchy howl. It is neither daring nor transgressive. Daring and transgressive would be recording heavy metal records with hurdy-gurdies, and getting Katy Perry and one of these drill stars who wear sunglasses over balaclavas, and look fucking ridiculous, think they are dangerous when really they are a spotty teenager from rural Buckinghamshire with arms and legs like pipecleaners, and basically fuck about near a hired Lamborghini in their videos, which all seem to be filmed on the same street in Tower Hamlets [without actually touching it because just out of shot is an aggressive and angry owner with a baseball bat who has warned the youths to not touch it] while rapping about how shit their life has been and how they are scared they are going to get stabbed, and calling it Drill Metal and expecting the leather and denim and New Rock clad hordes to accept it without question.

Pardon me. I have digressed. Indeed, a number of the songs being offered on “First Blood” sound like “Antichrist Superstar” era Brian Warner bumping uglies with “The Downward Spiral” version of Trent Reznor. 

Let us dwell upon that mental image for a moment or two.

Horrifying, isn’t it? Or possibly one for the wank bank, depending on your point of view.

The sound of GLDN is somewhat enhanced by some tasty, buzzing guitar, but too often this is cut up and the loud-quiet-loud dynamic sometimes wrecks some promising brutality by slowing everything down, so Nicholas can do his best Trent Reznor crooning over a bit of dissonant piano, or electronic wooshing. There’s no boundaries being pushed here. This EP sounds like the year 1996.

Opening offering ‘Gravedigger’ kicks off with an electronic beat and bassline before metallic guitar cuts in for 12 beats and the faux-emotional crooning starts, extremely reminiscent of the delivery of Filter’s Richard Patrick, and the chorus sounds like it could have been written by Deftones. The middle of the song has some throat mangling howling a la the God Of Fuck. In fact, the whole song sounds like “Title Of Record” era Filter. Not a bad influence to have, but it borders on copyism.

This continues on the title track. Pure Marilyn Manson, but a mix of Spooky Kids era Mazza and “Antichrist Superstar” including a lyric that could have been written by the man himself – “They always look so pretty when they’re on their knees.” It’s all overblown and perverse sexuality, wild gyrating, demented roaring, sequenced, layered and multi-tracked guitars and not very much substance. ‘Ripe’ is more of the same – dissonance, baritone rumbling, a simple bassline, lyrics about hypocrisy and lots of downtuned guitar and roaring on the chorus, before going to a swooping, gothic-tinged middle eight on the synth, and then a heavily-produced solo that’s just a load of drawn out notes rather than fretboard gymnastics that segues neatly back into the chorus. So far, so still Mazza Manson.

‘(harmful if swallowed)’ (sic) is a bit more interesting, with a piano playing a wrong note deliberately that increases the sense of menace in the music nicely, but it’s just a bridging piece, and that makes me fucking furious because the music and that harsh, dissonant piano could have been turned into something magnificent, and it has just been wasted.

‘This Must Be The Place’ is just a slightly more electronic Marilyn Manson song. I know I keep coming back to him, but this is the overwhelming influence I hear. This particular song would not sound out of place on “Antichrist Superstar”, even the chorus sounds like it belongs on the title track of that august record and would fit the song quite seamlessly. I’m struggling to contain my disappointment here. Normally I would launch into some horrible bullshit and be mean to Nicholas, but I have become acutely aware lately that I am trashing the art of creators and they pour their heart and soul into it. All I do is tell them that they are either a) very good at it, b) average, c) rubbish or d) Warrior Soul. Mainly because I am a faile… RETIRED musician who was REALLY shit at playing music and if you can’t do it you write about it instead. Unless you’re EM’s Rory. He can do both, the annoying knobjockey. 

DISCLAIMER: Rory isn’t an annoying knobjockey. He is a fine gentleman. Rob Sutton is, though! Wink, wink…

Last offering on this six-tracker is ‘Parasite’ and it is far and away the best song on the EP, where he leaves Mazza alone for a bit and combines an aggressive, angry howl with a creepy clean voice, punchy, speedy drumming, and full on metal guitar with extra fizz and fuzz, lushly produced and brimming with a life all its own.

The EP does benefit from a decent production, with no one thing overpowering the other, but it has a curiously lifeless and flat quality that is difficult to describe, and although GLDN promise much in their press release, claiming elements of metal, industrial and crust punk, all I have heard is mainstream 1990s gothic industrial metal that the emo teens of the day would have gone fucking gaga over, that instead offers this grizzled old metal bastard a curiously warm and nostalgic feeling, rather than slavering excitement. It’s all a bit uninspiring, to be honest. I haven’t even got my old baggy Menace jeans out to relive the 1990s vibe.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is disappointed. It was expecting something visceral, wild and incendiary and instead got the spavined love child of Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson.

Which brings us back around neatly to that mental image we shared before.

You’re welcome.

5/10. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Gravedigger
02. First Blood
03. Ripe
04. (harmful if swallowed) – This is not me having some kind of seizure and losing command of English. This is how it is written. It is making my internal grammar Nazi fucking FURIOUS!
05. This Must Be The Place
06. Parasite

LINE-UP:
Nicholas Golden – Everything

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Pist.On – Cold World +

Cold War + Album Cover Art

Pist.On – Cold World +
M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 29/07/22
Running Time: 40:28
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

When I was a child I played with childish things. When I became a man, I was supposed to put away childish things but I fucking didn’t because growing older is mandatory but growing up is entirely voluntary and I’d rather be an excited and overgrown child than a staid and miserable adult. Despite all the shit that comes from being a grown up, I’d like to think that I have retained a certain childish and Puckish sense of humour and adventure. And part of that is a glorious and shiny enthusiasm about certain things, music being the main one of them. I am capable of quite staggering feats of idiocy to this day (witness playing a gig at the sadly defunct Lemon Factory in Swansea – My debut gig with Black Rose Park. Got horrifically pissed, struck up an enduring friendship with Kayleigh, who fronted a punk band called Grim Citizens at the time (now they are Ignitemares and are rather good if you like a bit of pop punk), and formed a wall of death while they were covering the Misfits’ ‘Dig Up Her Bones’.  I also broke two ribs during said wall of death and hit someone so hard that I managed to eject my left contact lens and had to drive all the way back to Newcastle Emlyn with my left eye closed. Oh, I forgot. We were due on after Grim Citizens. It was a glorious, filthy mess) and I refuse to grow up.

Now THAT was a good night.

Another magical night I had was many years ago when I went to see Brooklyn miserablists Pist.On when they were touring “$ell.Out”. I had fallen in love with their muscular, yet uber gothic sound when I first heard ‘Grey Flap’ and I think every metal fan of a certain age had a bit of a thing about Val Ium… Anyway, the show was tremendous and Henry Font and Burton Gans were very polite and generous towards the particularly excitable and gauche young Dark Juan and talked to him for some time and generously signed a poster which I still have somewhere. They are a band for whom I have a considerable and long lasting regard and love…

So, it was with considerable excitement and enthusiasm I snatched the expanded edition of the recently reviewed (by the mighty and insightful Simon Black of Ever-Metal.com, no less. https://www.ever-metal.com/2022/03/23/pist-on-cold-world/ is the link for this and I strongly encourage you to read his sage counsel. I agree with every fucking word) “Cold World” EP. This is a special and rather brilliant release because it now encompasses the rare as hens’ teeth “Saves” EP from 2001 that was self-released by the band and is more difficult to get hold of than an honest fucking Tory. I shan’t repeat everything Simon told you about the three songs on the original release of “Cold World”, apart from to say that if you dig melancholy and melody you’ll fucking love them, but I shall tell you whether it is worth you splashing out the wonga on a version that essentially is a three tracker of new music, a twenty-year-old EP, a song from the 1995 Metal Blade compilation “Metal Massacre XII” and four unfinished demos.

ABSOLUTELY IT FUCKING IS!!

Pist.On are one of those rare bands that have something to offer nearly everyone – us sad old goffs appreciate the black humour and melancholy, the doomsters appreciate the lack of speediness, the word freaks enjoy the lyrics which are shot through with snide, self-deprecating wit and there’s melodies and vocal harmonies and one of the great strengths of the band, the raw, gravelly delivery of Henry Font’s singing,  being as it is a fluid, sonorous, sinuous thing that can be dripping raw pathos at one moment and switch gear to vituperative fury in seconds. He is gifted with a remarkable set of pipes indeed and manages, somehow, to project an air of friendliness and danger, AT THE SAME TIME.

The “Saves” EP is comprised of three songs – ‘Vamp 69’, ‘Opera’ and ‘ I Don’t’. All these songs are fucking classic Pist.On – vocal interplay between Font and Ium being the highlights of all three songs. But these are the past of Pist.On, not the future and while they are part of an enviable canon, I want to look towards their future so I shall concentrate on the demo songs from 2021. Although I will state that I fucking adore ‘Vamp 69’ and have done for twenty years.

Of these, ‘Light’ is an absolute monster of a song that showcases everything great about Pist.On – even though they are not the fastest band in the world, they are capable of crushing you easily with their heavily bass-driven sound. It manages to even fit a thrashy little lick or two in there. Listening to Pist.On is like being made to suffer peine forte a dure, but instead of stones flattening you, it’s the bass work of Jack Hanley which is really satisfyingly forward in the mix and loud as fuck. The guitar work of Burton Gans is also fucking exemplary, playfully slipping and sliding beneath the rhythm work of Henry Font, who is also a very capable player. ‘Pain’ is also another very good song indeed, a ponderous, dangerous grooviness slowly overtaking the senses and then slamming you back against the wall and punching until your torso is a bloody, floppy mess. Where other bands might be users of weapons and guns, Pist.On are Brooklyn streetfighters – they’ll still kick your arse from here to Timbuktu, but fists and feet are all they will need to employ. Compared to the comparatively lightweight, arctically clear production work modern metal seems to employ, this record has a most refreshingly heavy, treacly and organic sound that adds a peculiar warmness and deep intimacy to Pist.On’s work that was shared by their compatriots in Brooklyn, Life of Agony and of course the Drab Four, Type O Negative (whose Josh Silver is credited with dragging Pist.On out to the attention of the world). ‘Exhume Her’  is a bit of a cheeky homage to the Drab Four, as it happens, as well. If you substitute Henry’s anguished howl for the mellifluous baritone crooning of Peter Steele in your imagination, you’ll see what I mean. 

In short I can’t tell you how simply fucking delighted I am to have heard this record. Pist.On have lost none of their eclectic romanticism for me (even if teenage Dark Juan was absolutely head over heels for Val Ium) and they have managed to retain their idiosyncratic charm that sits somewhere between metal, goth, punk and grunge. 

I fucking love them, and chucking in the extremely rare “Saves” EP would have earned a high score all by itself although I generally disapprove of re-releases, but “Saves” was something of a unicorn and to have it added to modern Pist.On tunes to compare and contrast is just fucking wonderful and the demo songs also add a raw je ne sais quoi to the experience as well. A twenty-year obsession has just got even worse.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is bouncing up and down like a sugar-fuelled toddler at a birthday party and can’t help but offer the Brooklyn bruisers a full throated 10/10, mainly because I finally have a copy of ‘Vamp 69’, but because this is a beguiling record full of contrasts that fondly remind you of past glories, yet still manages to retain importance and relevance. The world has missed Pist.On, and so have I.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Cold World
02. Ruin Your Day
03. Icicles
04. Vamp 69
05. Opera
06. I Don’t
07. Ice Bath (Demo 2000)
08. Another Day (Demo 2021)
09. Light (Demo 2021)
10. Pain (Demo 2021)

LINE-UP:
Henry Font – Vocals and guitar
Burton Gans – Guitar
Jeff McManus – Drums
Jack Hanley – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Canadensis – The Decades Apart Have Weathered Us Both

The Decades Apart Have Weathered Us Both Album Cover Art

Canadensis – The Decades Apart Have Weathered Us Both
Medicine For A Nightmare
Release Date: 29/07/22
Running Time: 63:43
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

Hello, good afternoon, and welcome to another thousand words or so of terrifying ranting. Today’s horrors are brought to you by the number seven, the word “transubstantiation”, and the fact that the UK is currently sweltering in temperatures that are hotter than Satan’s arsehole after a meal of California Reapers. I, Dark Juan, am slowly dissolving into a pool of foetid and furious liquid because, let’s be frank, I am a Northern Englishman, and am built more for wandering about on winding, windy moors terrifying Southern campers by screaming for Heathcliff. You wanna see just how fast a camper can move when they are assailed by the plaintive cry of Dark Juan recreating the famous Kate Bush song on the moors in the pitch black for the simple reason that Mrs Dark Juan has thrown me out of the house because of the terrible caterwauling I was doing in the kitchen. I am not built to be slowly chargrilled when I am going about my daily business. I am especially not built to be arguing with ornery young gentlemen who have decided that going and playing basketball in 33-degree heat is a good idea, and I have said no and threatened them with staking them out in the heat and letting the crows take their eyes instead, because they are being fucking stupid. Such is the level of professionalism I operate at with my young gentleman wrangling.

So, with that in mind, I have retired indoors, where the temperature is merely uncomfortable instead of fucking lethal. Having managed to successfully procrastinate for over an hour when preparing to write this nonsense you’re now reading, I have finally dragged myself on to my sofa where the most comfortable buttock crevice is (Dark Juan has an arse like two poorly parked Volkswagens) and fired up the pooter and am currently ensconced, merely perspiring lightly, to listen to the latest release for Oregonian dronemeisters Canadensis. This is where some of you might get confused as the word “Canadensis” is the New Latin term meaning “Of Canada” with regard to species and their taxonomic classification, but it is also the name of the Pennsylvania village where this musical project was begun. The band is composed of D. Fylstra of Folian (and many others) and Tom Asselin of Shifting Harbour (among others also) and it is possibly the ultimate in Shoegaze and Drone. Opening track (it’s difficult to call it a song because the tempo is slower than continental drift) ‘The Shedding’ lasts a mere THIRTY minutes and is an aural depiction of two entities weighing up possible outcomes to some unknown conflict or relationship. The first half of the piece is slow, ponderous, pensive brooding, slowly building up into an explosive decision point that lasts and lasts until the emotion is drained off and the brooding returns and tiny points of light permeate the black, as the entities decide they are going to part ways, although they have only ever known being one. Yet, the sadness still remains, even though (on the second track ‘That Day I Felt Lighter’, clocking in only twenty minutes this time) there is a certain sense of relief permeating the gloom. Still, the entities move in a torpid fashion, languorous and indolent, and yet with an increasing lightness of being that doesn’t actually go anywhere. 

It just… is. Until time says it isn’t anymore.

How can I best describe this music to you? Remember Anathema? The Scouse Gothic Doom Metallers for whom Darren White and Duncan Patterson played? On their debut album, “Serenades”, there was a closing track entitled ‘Dreaming: The Romance’, clocking in at twenty-three minutes plus, and it was much like this album – not so much pieces of music as a trip through emotion and the soul with an accompaniment of ambient sound. It is swirly and dreamy, soft and gentle but with steel beneath the silk skin, indolent and fainéant. It is those moments of quietus that everyone feels after they have survived a devastating crisis and they realise that they have actually started to heal, their soul beginning to escape the black, and colour seeping slowly back into their lives. ‘That Day I Felt Lighter’ reminds me strongly of that feeling.

‘Completely Incomplete’ is a musical piece that references (to my unbalanced mind, anyway) the person who has come out of a long-duration relationship, or traumatic event, and come to the understanding that they are never going to be who or what they were ever again, and that, although they are no longer part of a cohesive whole, they are a universe unto themselves, and that, even as they have undergone vast changes, they can function anew, by themselves. They can have enjoyment and activity without the other part of them, although the heart still gives an occasional pang of sorrow, and there might be times the person is sat, perfectly comfortably, watching the rain wash down a window pane and listening to it fall upon the ground, overwhelmed by the smell of petrichor and not wishing to move for evermore.

Not wishing to move for evermore. Canadensis make this Hellpriest want to cloister himself away from the world and just sit in silence and darkness and voyage into the internal universe of my own head. Granted, much of my imagination does resemble the Eye of Terror from Warhammer 40k, complete with Daemonculaba and Iron Warriors and The Unfleshed, but there is also a romantic and wondering, wandering component, and Canadensis appeal greatly to that part of my soul. This music is absolutely staggering, and it never moves beyond languor, yet retains interest and depth and feeling throughout. ‘As The Fog Swallowed The Beacon’s Light’ closes off the record and seems to reference the regret one may feel when, having made the decision to separate yourself, and having passed through the light you feel and the understanding that you can do things alone after making a huge, life-changing decision, you still have that ache to have that other person back, to experience things with you and to see the new you experiencing new stimuli and to share it with you. A wistfulness for lost things, and lost souls.

Metal, this is not. Not even a little bit, but it is absolutely fucking superb. Dark Juan loves Drone and Shoegaze, but this is not in the territory of Swans, Boards Of Canada, or even Kitchens Of Distinction. Canadensis play downtempo, almost ambient electronic music that probably will not be of any interest whatsoever to the casual or rabid metal fan, but will be of much interest to those of us who like having their head fucked with, and their souls turned inside out by sound.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is once again conflicted, as it thinks this album is a magnificent thing, but it has to lose marks for not being Heavy Metal. Conceptually, and in execution, it’s one of the most Metal things I have heard, as it carries its own serene power and a kind of unrelenting, yet gentle puissance. But, and this is the kicker, it is not Heavy Metal music. I don’t fucking want it to be though. It wouldn’t work because of the raw, emotional component that bleeds through the ambient, dreamy, long drawn out soundscapes. 

Goddamn it, 9/10 because I fucking love it that much. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Shedding
02. That Day I Felt Lighter
03. Completely Incomplete 
04. As the Fog Swallowed the Beacon’s Light

LINE-UP:
D. Fylstra – Synthesizers, guitars
Tom Asselin – Synthesizers, guitars

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

The Anix – Demolition City (Re-issue)

Demolition City Album Cover Art

The Anix – Demolition City (Re-issue)
FiXT 
Release Date: 15/07/22
Running Time: 01:06:49
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

Chai tea. 

It’s fucking wonderful. 

I have drunk gallons of the stuff in the past 48 hours. The reason I have been drinking this fine beverage instead of the more usual seeing just how much alcohol I can consume until my liver cries enough is, because I have brewed a batch of wheat beer in Dark Juan Terrace that I am frankly fucking terrified of. Mrs Dark Juan cowers every time she sees a bottle. This is because I have somehow managed to brew a beer so potent it can be used to degrease engines, fuel moonshots and make top fuel dragsters spontaneously explode. I drank a mere THREE bottles and had to be put to bed. Mrs Dark Juan informed me, the morning after, that I had all the grace and majesty of a leaping wombat and that watching me pinball my way off every wall in the house on my way to bed was most entertaining indeed. Whilst, I was cheerfully informed, that I maintained I was entirely sober throughout. Clearly, this was all a massive pack of lies because I don’t get drunk, I get cheerful and I happily reminded Mrs Dark Juan of the time we went to the 1-in-12 in Bradford (the Hellmouth, for reasons that are clear if you live near the infernal charnel pit most of it is) and she got that blattered on ginger ale that an Aussie punk band had brought with them, that she did a runner down Sunbridge Road and had to be recovered by our friend Clive and Dark Juan’s daughter, Lex, had to be pressed into service as a guard in the back of the Rockmobile (being the car I had at the time. A small Toyota Yaris. This is before the time of the Mighty Gothikpanzer and the Schwerer Gothikpanzer) to stop Mrs Dark Juan legging it again. That shut her up. And then I remembered the time I had helped Bri Doom (of Doom) with something there and I got to giggle at a Crust megastar swearing at, and booting, the recalcitrant door of an anarchist Punk club when he couldn’t get it locked…

The point is that I have another thirty bottles of this stuff and I don’t know what I did to make it like this. Oh well, I’ll worry about it later…

The Anix is an Electronic Rock artist and producer from Los Angeles, in the former colonies of Her Majesty – The United States of America. Happy recent Treason Day, ungrateful colonials! No more tea parties for you! Obviously, before any dickheads get their knickers in a knot, I’m fucking joking. Really it has come to something when people are so willing to be offended these days that you have to put a disclaimer in right after a bit of sarcasm… Anyway, the music!

“Demolition City” was originally released in 2008 and The Anix has remastered it for release with FiXT. Now, I’ll be honest, The Anix completely passed Dark Juan by upon its original release, so it was with anticipation I fired up the pooter and clamped my cans on.

Wow. This is an unusual sound. Think of the ultra-high production values of Evanescence’s first two albums – this gives you an idea of the production of the record. It is multi-layered, dense and clean with lots and lots of things going on at once with a guitar sound that is so overproduced it sounds almost like it is artificially generated. Just like Evanescence’s debut. Add to this the industrial aesthetic of Nine Inch Nails, the raw emotion of Smashing Pumpkins and Staind, the pop sensibility of Depeche Mode and Ayria and the gothic electronics of God Module, Gothminister and I: Scintilla. This is the sound of The Anix and in 2008 this would have been an incredibly futuristic record. Listened to in 2022, however, it has become a bit of a time capsule. The aural equivalent of reading 1920’s science fiction where everyone had their own hovercar and food came out of the wall from a slot and no-one needed to work anymore. Do NOT take this as a demerit, though. This type of music is what made Dark Juan diversify his listening to encompass other kinds of music than just Metal and the world is a better place for it.

Rampaging Pop hooks collide with crushing Industrial guitars and 80’s analogue synths blasting out the kind of electronica that required day-glo leg warmers to dance to and over it all glides the crooning, boy band singing and harmonies of The Anix himself in a gloriously joyful and well-meaning explosion of genre-bending. Even his voice, though, is just another weapon in a copious and effective arsenal as he gleefully slams it through square wave processors and vocoders to turn it into a cyborg killing machine intent on making you die from falling in love with it while it cruelly abuses you emotionally. ‘Pull Me Under’ has a lovely little The Cure reference in the intro, verse and the bridge so you can chuck Pop-Goth into the melting pot as well…

It’s no secret I love Electronic Industrial and Synthwave, and this record for me is the juncture where Synthwave split off from Electronic Industrial and went off into its own 80’s time warp. Both electronic genres are heavily present throughout this whole album, most noticeably on ‘Feel Like You’ and ’Emergency’ where stupendously huge choruses meet the kind of Ultravox and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark synthesisers that abounded in the New Wave and New Romantic eras of British Pop music…

The Anix is also very good at quality control. There have been too many records like this one (I: Scintilla’s second album, particularly) where the band have abandoned the muscularity of their sound in order to chase that elusive prey for the alternative musician, the megahit single. This is not the case with “Demolition City” – from opening cut ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ to the last song there’s a brutally efficient clarity of purpose and sound and a consistency in quality that is truly unusual. A delightful lack of compromise as The Anix gleefully proclaims to the world, 

“THIS IS MY MUSIC AND MY FUCKING SOUND. I WILL NOT CHANGE FOR YOU OR ANYONE!”

This sort of stubbornness resonates deeply with Dark Juan. “Demolition City” has gone from nothing to possibly my favourite album of the early 2000’s despite my only hearing it for the first time in 2022. It’s that good. And this re-release just gets better as there are rarities – unreleased tracks and alternate versions galore. For value for money, it can’t be topped. Over 66 minutes of high quality music cannot be denied.

To summarise then – electronic alternative industrial metal. A smorgasbord of disparate influences welded together into a dangerous and exciting new shape and very forward thinking for the brutality-obsessed early 2000s world of Heavy Metal.  As a release in the 2020’s though, being harsh, and I am after all supposed to be a critic, there is a certain datedness to the singing, which is very Aaron Lewis and Trent Reznor influenced and would be loved by creepy little Emo’s in stripy tights everywhere. Circa 2006. But I fucking adore this album. It transports me back to good times, and The Anix himself (a person who identifies themselves only as Smith. Actually, I made that up. He’s called Brandon Smith but just Smith sounds better) is a master fucking craftsman of hooks and choruses. This is music you could sing yourself hoarse to for hours on end. There are twenty-one songs on this record and there are NO weak ones. Although ‘Reason To Lust’ sounds disgracefully like something Justin Timberlake might have written, but it is saved by a knowing, winking, tongue in cheek delivery that oozes overblown, silly sexuality throughout.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has dragged his Menace baggies and his Team Satan 666 T-shirt out of the wardrobe and has been gyrating gleefully around the lounge for over an hour and needs a beer. It has some downstairs that Dark Juan has brewed! Oh… wait… 

9/10 for a superb album in every department.

TRACKLISTING:
01. This Game
02. Bullets Without A Gun
03. Don’t Save Your Breath
04. Half The World Away
05. Nothing lasts Forever
06. No Way Out
07. Double Zero
08. Even If It Kills Me
09. She Lives In The Dark
10. The Ghost Of Me And You
11. The Black Phoenix
12. Feel Like You 
13. Emergency
14. Between The Lines
15. Double Zero (alternate version)
16. Runaway
17. Broken
18. Long Way Out
19. Pull Me Under
20. Reason To Lust
21. Stuck In A Phase

LINEUP:
(Brandon) Smith – does everything himself. And he’s a handsome chap too. Bastard.

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Kekal – Envisaged

Envisaged Album Cover Art

Kekal – Envisaged
Self-Released (Streaming, Digital), Elevation Records (Physical)
Release Date: 15.07.22
Running Time: 50:19
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

Hello, possums.

I hope that I find my ravening pack of trash pandas well and ready to read more spurious nonsense masquerading as a learned and erudite record review?

Splendid. I’m not ready to write it yet, though. I’m too damned drained. The life is being leached out of me by that horrible ball of fire in the sky and I don’t even have the energy to go and seduce a young Christian virgin and turn them to the Left Hand Path. All I in fact want to do is hide deep within the crypts of Dark Juan Terrace and hiss when I want feeding. Kind of like what a goth girlfriend is like ninety percent of the time. Except I will not be wearing Emily Strange pyjamas and clutching a teddy bear version of Cubone. I can guarantee you that much. You can drop off my meals at the wine cellar between the Chateauneuf-Du-Pape and the rest of the clarets. Take the empties with you, aye?

You will be pleased to know that I have manfully powered through hiding in the cellar and have returned to the keyboard in order to share with you some thoughts about a most intriguing prospect, being Kekal, a “self-regulated entity with no official members” who all perform anonymously, hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia. Which is, to be fair, not really a hotbed of metal shenanigans. Which did, before I started playing “Envisaged”, make me wonder if it was going to be dreadful.

IT IS NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY DREADFUL.

Kekal melds the most extreme of metal with glorious, swooping synths, and cheerfully overlay very disparate influences with each other, and somehow come out with something coherent and full-sounding. Especially, since, according to the blurb I got with the record from Against PR, the songs were written during the recording process so that inspirations that came to the players while performing the songs could be incorporated and moulded into the whole of a song. This idiosyncratic method of recording and writing appears to have paid dividends as their spasmodic, jerky sound has hit me right in the backbrain and shows no sign of stopping punching.

Opening cut ‘Anthropos Rising’ starts with strings underpinned with a wibbly synth line and a strangely pitched vocal from a gentleman not unlike a lower-toned Claudio Sanchez, before the tune breaks into a Baron Crane-esque Jazz fuelled section, and then a dissonant Djent phase in the verse. There’s all kinds of mad shit going on here and already it is shaping up to be one of my favourite tunes of 2022. Accordion melody lines writhe under the heaviest guitar and syncopation – after this comes an ambient electronic section. Then it’s back to the madness again with some of the hardest drumming I think I have ever heard. The drummer isn’t playing their instrument – they are smashing the living shit out of their kit, and the whole song just twists and turns and snaps at you with venom-dripping, stainless steel fangs. 

Bear in mind that that was a description of one song. I’m knackered already.

The insane power of the drums on this album (Kekal’s THIRTEENTH offering, I believe) cannot be denied. Whoever is battering them has clear mental health issues and should be incarcerated for his or her own good. ‘Born Anew’ is another absolutely batshit song. Demented carny music slams into Black Metal and then into EBM and Synthwave with robotized background vocals, before segueing into gentle, swooping atmospherics on ‘The Alchemy Of Creation’. Which then kind of turns itself into the kind of soundtrack song that plays out over our heroes driving off into the sunset, leaving behind them a trail of corpses and a lot of robbed liquor stores. Fade to titles…

““Envisaged” is an album that was specifically created to celebrate The Great Awakening of humanity and Earth’s Ascension to the higher octave of vibrational frequency. All the songs were written during the recording process, to capture the spontaneous moments of insights within each and every passage of creation. The music and lyrics represent a creative spiritual journey following continuous revelations regarding the current events on Earth that have been unfolding especially in the past few years. If observed and put together in a continuum, they signify the process of global collective awakening and purification towards humanity’s grand destiny: to transcend the matrix and rise beyond the construct of duality.”

That was a quote from the collective that constitutes Kekal. I have no idea what they are saying. I’ve been at the beer again, you see, and it is also hotter than Hell’s own pizza oven at nearly half-eight at night. I can’t think straight and the sheer insanity of Kekal is not helping me cope. Such eclecticism is unusual in Heavy Metal, and their fearless desire to bring in new sounds and concepts can’t help but make this jaded old fucker writing these words jerk to surprised attention and salivate worse than Pavlov’s pooch.

‘The Ascending Collective’ melds dissonance and the kind of melody line that a hairspray bothering Glam band would have been delighted to maul, before again launching into syncopated manic insanity on the verse, and having little synthesiser breaks to allow you to catch your breath, before bludgeoning the poor listener once more over the head. My ears are bleeding and I’m scared of this bunch of clearly homicidal Indonesians. They even chuck in a bit of cello and a kind of Cure meets Nitzer Ebb kinda vibe.

Well, I’m blown away. You have no idea what this band are going to do next. The production of the record is very good indeed, although sometimes there’s a little too much going on for the sound engineer to cope with, and some quite complex passages sound a little muddy, although the electronic components are clear and legible. The band are also not afraid of using dissonance and disharmony to create an unusual mood and unsettle the listener, and this marks a notable break from the desire to play music that works in a kind of melodious fashion. This is an extreme album. Not in the case of extreme heaviness, but in a style similar to The Chronicles Of Manimal And Samara (yes, those two AGAIN) where there is no influence that is not acceptable, and Kekal share that same innate gift with TCOMAS of being able to weld these tremendously disparate influences together into a coherent and tremendously powerful whole. Witness ‘Conduit Of Light’ for example. This song runs the gauntlet from wavy, dreamy synth and a languid, liquid vocal, to out and out gabba techno, to technical metal, yet retains a strong synthesized drum pattern overlaid with the human mad bastard who plays the actual drums, while the guitarist rips out a classic sounding metal solo and it all just fucking WORKS.

In conclusion then, because this review is getting very fucking long even by my standards of syllabification – Kekal started out as a kind of straight ahead Extreme Metal band but have fully embraced their experimental (emphasis on the mental) side and have created something really quite special, and frankly if this is what Indonesia has to offer musically I’m fucking off there right now. 

I invite you all to join me, and together we can experience a band that offers the technical prowess of Death and Necrophagist, the ear for melody of Gunship and Carpenter Brut and the sheer insanity of Mr. Bungle. It’s going to be a glorious thing.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Sistem peringkat cipratan darah Dark Juan yang dipatenkan) has been keeping a shortlist of his top recordings of the year and there’s already a) A shitload more than ten choices and b) Kekal have shot up there and so far are at least top five. 9/10 for a wildly eccentric piece of work. I have deducted a mark because there is a marked tendency to rely on an electronic middle eight or fade in the songs on offer and it sometimes makes what could be a coruscating skyrocket of a song fizzle a bit. Still an absolutely captivating album though!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Anthropos Rising
02. Born Anew
03. The Alchemy of Creation
04. The Ascending Collective
05. Conduit of Light
06. Anarchy in the New Earth
07. Summer Harvest
08. Zero Point
09. Destiny Recalibration

LINE-UP:
A self-regulated entity with no official members who all record their parts anonymously. Good luck finding anything else out. I have fucking tried and tried.

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Behold! The Monolith – From The Fathomless Deep

From The Fathomless Deep Album Cover Art

Behold! The Monolith – From The Fathomless Deep
Ripple Music
Release Date: 15/07/22
Running Time: 44:27
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

“A rancid old alcoholic.”

This is a verbatim quote from Mrs Dark Juan as we were sharing some ice cream in the kitchen of Dark Juan Terrace and we were discussing the “merits” of the frankly abominable brew I have concocted, that is poised in its bottles in the pantry ready to strike down the unwary. She was telling me this is what I will become if I drink anymore of it. However, I am taking this with a large pinch of salt because during the same conversation she tried to convince me that Madagascan vanilla pods are picked by moonlight by aye-ayes (this is a kind of primate with an elongated finger for digging out termites et al) and responded violently when I rejected this and offered the counter argument that they are probably picked by eight-year-olds earning a pittance.

My wounds have been dressed (it is rather fascinating, in a morbid kind of way, just how many ways you can be maimed with a cold spoon) and Mrs Dark Juan has flitted back off upstairs in a state of high dudgeon to her recently redecorated craft eyrie to continue working on the small dog she’s making (out of felt and other materials as a sculpture, NOT out of the recovered parts of recently deceased pets, although I wouldn’t put it past her. My daughter once had a school project to create a horror doll. Mrs Dark Juan “helped” her. The doll got an A, my daughter got sent to pastoral care to be quizzed about whether she was OK and what her home life was like. To be fair, the doll was a cruelly burned and maimed Barbie with the actual preserved wings of a bird and bits of a model of an F-22 Raptor and a ladybird glued to it. Among other things).

None of which has even the slightest relevance to the record that I am currently experiencing, being “From The Fathomless Deep” by Los Angeles-based Sludge stalwarts Behold! The Monolith. Currently operating as a power trio, this is B! TM’s first full length release (fnarr fnarr!) since 2015, and by Satan they sound hungry…

‘Crown – The Immeasurable Void’ opens proceedings and, fuck me sideways and call me Roger, these gents are not fucking about. A mere few seconds in and they have already opened a new geological fault on the road outside Dark Juan Terrace and the neighbours are already complaining that they can’t park there anymore because there’s a bloody great hole where the road was. I have told them to complain to Behold! The Monolith in person. This is very nearly a new level of heavy. Ponderous, imposing riffs relentlessly bludgeon the listener, whose head very quickly resembles the consistency of tomato puree and underneath it all prowls the snapping, snarling vocal of Menno Verbaten. He rumbles the core of the earth with sepulchral low tones and makes the mid-range a most dangerous place to be, flaying the unsuspecting fan down to the muscle layer with his voice. Menno is not a one trick pony though. He can sing as well as weaponise his voice and on ‘Spirit Taker’ there are some sublime vocal harmonies.

In fact, the whole album has a very sinister sense of purpose, sounding like it is maintaining a steely-eyed focus on the distant horizon. It is remarkably single-minded for a Sludge Metal record, which, like anything slow, Doomy or Psychedelic, can have a tendency to either wander off into some kind of misty musical hinterland during the middle eight and get hopelessly lost, or focus so intently inward it gets distracted by its own navel gazing. Behold! The Monolith (thank fuck that my word processor accepts that punctuation. Editor Beth “I’ll Fuck You Up Faster Than Joe Bugner On Speed” Jones and Ever-Metal alumnus Simon “I Am Not Letting You Forget The Sexual Origami Joke” Black get upset, as does Rory “I’m A Grumpy Miserable Bastard And I Won’t Give Anyone A 10 No Matter How Much I Like Them” Bentley (pay attention to his words, as he is a walking encyclopedia of Heavy Metal) get very upset when the punctuation and grammar are incorrect when they are proofreading the deeply psychotic and increasingly rabid submissions from the Ever-Metal “team”. We are less a team and rather more a bunch of deranged psychopaths who are tightly leashed. They threaten us with violence over an Oxford comma. A poorly placed semi-colon invites apoplexy. Don’t even mention an interrobang to them) manage to neatly avoid both traps, as their command of the songwriting craft is second to none. Riffs, majesty and untrammeled violence morph seamlessly into extended Eastern-sounding acoustic passages, especially on 11-minute closer ‘The Stormbreaker Suite’ and writhe sinuously between fuzz-laden, creeping doominess, etheric splendour, the promise of an alley fight with broken bottles, adrenalin fuelled speed and the glory of bluesy Metal. 

Solos coruscate and cut through the ether with clarity and precision and the drumming is superb. In fact, the whole album is a perfectly executed piece. Production and mix – Sorted. Louder than a nuclear detonation six inches in front of your face, yet still retaining a superb listenable quality. Rich and earthy and warm. Drum sound – Powerful and penetrating yet still more percussive than a legion of pneumatic hammers levelling a mountain. Bass – My lower limbs have been destroyed. Thick and treacly, yet oozing purpose and menace throughout the record. Bedrock has been damaged in a 10-mile radius. Guitar – violent and aggressive, but still totally accessible and frequently a thing of beauty throughout the record. Clearly worshipping at the throne of Tony Iommi. The solos are out of this world. Riffs are monolithic. Colossal and earthshaking riffs abound. Songwriting – Masters of their craft. Songs have distinct movements but are seamless in transition and execution. This record has it all, and the extra dimension added by have a vocalist that isn’t a one trick pony considerably adds to the charm and listenability of an album that might well be the apogee of American Sludge. There is simply nothing you could add or take away to make this record better.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Behold! The Monolith a stonking 9/10 for an almost perfectly executed offering that is magnificent in every detail apart from a slight tendency to become a little lost in an extended middle passage from time to time. This, however, is a tiny gripe and I feel mean for deducting a mark, as this is the high-water mark for American Sludge Metal and it isn’t going to get any better than this. Totally on my list of top ten records of the year…

Day drinking on a Monday is OK, isn’t it? Wouldn’t want to be a “rancid old alcoholic”…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Crown – The Immeasurable Void
02. Psychlopean Dread
03. Spirit Taker
04. This Wailing Blade
05. The Seams Of Pangaea
06. The Stormbreaker Suite

LINE-UP:
Menno Verbaten – Bass and Vocals 
Matt Price – Guitar
Chase Manhattan – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.