A few days ago, I woke up feeling a bit guilty about all those great albums that have gone unnoticed on Merchants Of Air. When we started this thing, about two years ago, we were struggling to find stuff to review but that changed quickly.
These days, there are way more albums coming in than we can possibly check out. Today, I estimate that we're about 1.500 releases behind, judging from the 900 unread emails and the whole bunch of albums in my download folder.
So, I decided to start writing brief reviews, or "brieviews" for these albums, or at least for as many as we can. I hope this way we can recommend a lot more albums from dedicated artists to dedicated fans.
Monument Of A Memory - Catharsis
We kick things off with a massive slab of modern extreme metal, courtesy of New Jersey, US residents Monument Of A Memory. 'Catharsis' is their sophomore ep, after their debut ep 'Dreamwalker' (2015). This is one of those albums that combine old school death and thrash metal with influences from modern extremes like post-hardcore and deathcore. Influenced by At The Gates, Killswitch Engage, Lamb Of God and Parkway Drive, these guys rage on in sheer brutality and ferocity. Needless to say that this is quite and intense ep, guaranteed to make you bang your head and start a moshpit. Recommended only for the metal extremists...
More headbanging material, be it a bit less extreme this time. Devolted, a quartet from Dublin, Ireland, are dedicated to headbanging, moshing and partying in the best way possible. They name bands like Guns 'n Roses, AC/DC, Megadeth and Ozzy as their influences, and that might be true but I certainly would add bands like Machine Head, Pantera and even Sick Of It All to their infectious blend of metal. The four songs on this album are groovy, immersive and definitely intense enough to start a massive party. My personal favorite here is 'God Of Light' but all songs have the so-called "true-metal" power that gets every fan off his feet and into the pit.
This is a perfect example of how diverse death metal can actually be. Horricane, from Estonia, come up with a completely different version, (mostly) slower, nudging towards the industrial side of the metallic spectrum and grinding on your darkest emotions and fears. The use of horror-themed keyboards certainly makes these songs have their own identity. It also makes it hard for me to compare this music to other bands. Fear Factory? Samael? The Kovenant? Sybreed? I don't know. All I know is that this ep is a monster, intense, heavy and immersive. It's about time these guys climb on bigger stages allover Europe. This is the shit I want to see on festivals...
Fierce old school black metal from Greece, is there a better way to describe this album? Isolert formed in 2015, making this their debut album. But there's no way in hell that I'm going to believe that this is the first effort by these people. Judging from awesome songs like 'Your Hypocrisy', 'The Dance of Tormented Spirits' or 'Frozen Mist' they must have had their share of experience. If not, well, then these are skilled artists who know a thing or two about writing a brilliant black metal song. Their main influences include Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Dissection and Sargeist and that's exactly where this album belongs on your shelves, right in between the great ones...
metal / hardcore
Hell yeah, this is the shit. Rock 'n roll in its roughest form, loyal to the power of the riff and blasting through my speakers like a tsunami. Media Solution come from California, USA. Their name might sound like a shady business but they rock like a freight train. The music is a blend of heavy rock 'n roll, groove metal and hardcore, reminding me of a mix of Rob Zombie and Biohazard. Opener 'Destroy Something Beautiful' sounds like a damn good advice, and the rest of the album is the perfect soundtrack for that adrenaline rush you'll feel while tearing the house down, highlighting in the brilliant song 'Coward'. This is pure aggression, absolutely recommended stuff for fans of anything between Motorhead and Sepultura.
heavy metal / power metal
Formed in 2013 by bassist/composer Andrea Franceschi, Italian metal band Silverbones pay tribute to the awe-inspiring sound of eighties and nineties power metal. Their influences include Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Gravedigger and Running Wild, but personally I'd like to add Hammerfall and Helloween to the mix as well. Why? Well, these songs have the same atmosphere, the same heroic and battle-ready sing-along capacity and the same rush as those bands have been producing over the years. I especially like the title track, which might be one of the best power metal songs I've heard in awhile. This stuff makes me a bit nostalgic, and that's a good thing.
post hardcore / sludge
"Five friends from Norwich who hang out and jam" they mention on their facebook page. After listening to this album, I'd turn that into "five friends from Norwich who spew out their deepest fears, terrors and emotion in a whirlpool of harsh yet melodic post hardcore". That being said, yes, this is post-hardcore, but it comes with a highly immersive slab of post-rock influences and, for me personally, this makes this whole album quite interesting. I admit, the word "alternative-emo" on their page made me a bit weary at first but now that I'm into the album, I have to say that this is pretty damn good stuff. Hardcore for post-rock fans, there you go, excellent ep with a stunning opening track.
This album by Canadian act Idolatry is pure chaos, which would be a bad thing if it weren't a trenchant black metal album, fueled by evil and misanthropy. Even in the world of black metal, this is quite a stand out. While many black metal bands work extremely hard to create a grimm image of themselves, Idolatry simply is evil. Their satanic aesthetic is real, their lust for chaos and disorder is predominant. Their music is a severe kick in your face, spawning from the deepest undergrounds you can imagine. Their vocals range from haunting growls to deranged screams. I don't know what goes on in these guys' heads, but it must be more terrifying than any splatter-horror movie you've ever seen. And that is a compliment.
ambient black metal
Another, equally interesting, form of black metal comes from Philadelphia, USA. I loved this band immediately, simply because of their name, but when I heard the music for the first time, I was sold. Fierce black metal, often alternated or enhanced by strange noise, ambient and even minimal folk passages. Sometimes, the combination is weird, as in the massive song 'Immaculate Deconception', but the whole is so damn intense and immersive that is is quite impossible not to bang your head repetitively, until you reach a state of pitch black trance. I surely hope that these guys find a way to Europe soon and conquer the old continent with this stuff.
This album by Ukrainian one-man act While They Sleep could quite possibly be the wickedest release in these breviews-series. The project was founded by sole member Kvolkaldur (also known as Ildverden) in 2013. His style comes close to that of other one-man acts, including Leviathan, Xasthur, Nortt and Burzum. It's lo-fi, haunting, sharp and straight-forward. Personally, I'd place this album into the depressive black metal scene, but I'd mostly recommend this to anyone who is constantly on the lookout for the grimmest, bleakest and darkest releases from the underground. This is one of those gems that sound so old school that they never get outdated, and that's not an easy thing to accomplish.