My inbox and list of records to which I need to pay some attention are getting to maximum overload. This is always the case come late spring/early summer, when the barrage of releases is at its apex, and scrambling to catch up becomes a struggle indeed. But it’s also a wonderful problem to have. Who’s going to bitch because they have too much new music to examine?
Contained in that avalanche of promos are two smaller releases that have grabbed my interest. One is the debut EP from a band made up of musicians from some pretty well-known metal bands that have combined forces to make up a brand new machine. The influences of their other bands are there, for sure, but that also makes for one really riveting ride. The other is a new EP from a band that’s been doing its thing for a few years now but never really hit on that magical formula that made them stand out. With a new voice in tow — it’s someone most extreme metal fans should know well — they may finally have found that spark.
First up is the self-titled debut EP from a band called Chrome Waves, who count among their lineup members of bands such as The Atlas Moth, Gates of Slumber,Twilight, Wolvhammer, and Nachtmystium. Oh, and now they have Jef Whitehead (Leviathan, Lurker of Chalice) sitting behind the drum kit as well. If you combine all of those bands in your head and try to make a rudimentary computation of what you might hear, you’re probably going to be pretty spot on with what greets you on this six-cut effort, that grew more enjoyable each time I spent time with it.
The band is comprised of Stavros Giannopoulos (vocals), Jeff Wilson (guitar/synth), Bob Fouts (bass, drums on the record), and, of course, Whitehead, and despite only being together as a unit for a short amount of time, they’ve already got the chops of a veteran band. Giannopoulos’ hellish vocal work is reminiscent of the Moth’s earlier, more savage work, and he just goes for broke on these songs. The rest of the band backs him up with a backdrop that’s equal parts black metal, metal gaze, psychedelic rock, and doom. It really is a perfect mix of what each guy brings to the table, and it all blends together wonderfully. It also should be noted this is the first album being released by new label Gravedancer, who have put together a rock solid lineup that also includes Conan and the reactivated Byzantine. We’ll have more on those bands in the future, that I can assure you.
Chrome Waves begin their first outing with a dreamy, trance-inducing instrumental track, that flows over somber melodies, gazey guitars, and a foggy atmosphere that bleeds right into “Height of the Rifles,” where the vocals just go off, the melodic thunder bleeds over, and the chaotic emotion pulls you along. “Light Behind a Shadow” opens with a punchier riff that leads to a more aggressive song, but one that never cuts back on the psyche wonder. Giannopoulos howls like a banshee, practically spitting out his words, yet the madness is allowed to subside on “Eyelids of Dawn,” a tranquil track that is perfectly named because it would sound wonderful digested while the sun is struggling to break over the horizon. “That Cursed Armored Train” packs a wallop, but it’s also disarmingly catchy, catching you and pulling you under before your mind is aware that it’s captured. Closer “Blackbird” greets you with shimmering keys and a nice thick blanket of smoke, and there is so much going on with this song, it’s sure to take repeated listens just to peel back each layer of sound.
I am really excited about this new band and what their future holds. Of course, I’m also really big into all of their respective other projects too, so I’m not rooting for this to take precedence. But Chrome Waves are a wonderful summation of all their parts, and their music gets better with each listen. This may end up being my new go-to, drive-in music each morning for my commute. It’ll make me less hostile, that’s for sure.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/chromewavesofficial
To buy the album, go here: http://gravedancerrecords.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://gravedancerrecords.com/
I always found Ephel Duath’s music neat and fun to listen to, but that’s all. What a great way to intro their new music, huh? It’s OK. I’m going somewhere. The band always has had a million interchangeable parts (save for founder Davide Tiso), and I never really felt like I got to know what the band really is about. So I listened to their music when review time came up but always kept them at a bit of a distance. I think that’s about to change with their very personal, very dark new effort.
The band last checked in with 2009’s odd “Through My Dog’s Eyes,” about the life and adventures of a stray dog. It’s a pretty decent record, and I still have my Earache-issued promo somewhere on my shelf in my game room, but I haven’t spent much time with it recently. But things have totally changed as far as my interest in the band since then, as now on vocals is the immortally awesome Karyn Crisis, ex-leader of way-before-their-time Crisis, as well as Tiso’s wife. She brings a character and charisma to the band that they’ve always lacked, and her authoritative, confident voice changes Ephel Duath from bizarre oddity to must-hear machine.
We only get three songs with “On Death and Cosmos,” but I’ll trade quality for quantity any day. On this effort, Crisis and Tiso are joined by drummer Marco Minnemann (Illogicist, FFW, Tony MacAlpine) and bassist Steve DiGiorgio (ex of bands such as Death, Autopsy, Testament), a pretty solid lineup, and they do wonders with what they offer here. The music is progressive death-leaning, but not in a pretentious or dorky way, and Crisis always injects and sense of danger and chaos into the proceedings when she’s barking out her diatribes.
“Black Prism” is our opener, and it’s tricky and mind-bending musically, with Crisis switching back and forth between growls and clean vocals. “My center is now a black prism,” she howls, giving you an indication of just how dark things are in this song. She also commands, “Look to me as I dissolve,” leaving you feeling bleak and depressed as ever, which indicates just how great she is at transferring her feelings over to you. Enjoy that. “Raqia” has a lot of bends built into it, as this is the proggiest cut on the record, with guitar work that seems hellbent on spinning you in a circle. But it’s fun and never nausea-inducing, and as always, the vocals prevent this song from going off the rail into somewhere too weird. “Stardust Rain” is the most interesting composition of the three tracks, and Crisis’ words drip with emotion. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is how Crisis single-handedly elevates this band, because you believe every word she shouts and feel every ounce of the pain she’s conveying. I hang onto her every word because she always has something vital to say.
It’s great that a band as promising as Ephel Duath survived so much chaos and came out a better unit for it. This mini document hopefully is a sign of awe-inspiring things to come ahead, and they just may end up becoming one of this year’s great comeback stories.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/EphelDuathOfficial
To buy the album (out soon in Europe; released in August in the U.S.), go here: http://www.agoniarecords.com/index.php?pos=shop&lang=en
Or here: http://www.metalhit.com/store/agonia.htm
For more on the label, go here: http://www.agoniarecords.com/