Thursday, September 30, 2010

Metal Briefs: BombWorks Records

Almost a year ago, I got Lo-Ruhamah's The Glory of God, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite albums. So, I recently decided to check out more artists on BombWorks Records, a small Christian metal label.

Darkness Before Dawn: King's to You (2009)

Kings to You The Encyclopedia Metallum entry for Darkness Before Dawn lists them as melodic death metal. But they are Arizona-based, and if you take that plus their band picture--well, the math adds up to deathcore. And deathcore they are, sometimes taking the breakdowns way too far ("Shattered" or "The Slain Reunion"). At times everything comes together, like the title track, "Symbiosis", and "Prophetic Heresy". At other times they don't seem to play very tight, as if they were rushed to get out of the studio before they were happy with it (or they were too lazy to work to get it right). The keyboards could use some work; most of the time they are appropriately atmospheric, but other times (like the opener) they are way too distracting. The sound is pretty good, though, with some quality (if uninventive) vocals and a mostly-heavy approach to things. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

My Silent Wake: A Garland of Tears (2008)

A Garland of Tears My Silent Wake is part of a growing trend of bands of ambiguous Christianity (along with more well known acts As I Lay Dying and Shai Hulud). I'm not sure why this is happening, but there it is. In any case, between their name and the fact that they're from the UK, you might guess they sound a lot like My Dying Bride. And your guess would be right: This is definitely formed in the gothic death/doom mold cast by those other Brits. There are differences, though. The death growls are better here, but the clean singing isn't as strong. My Silent Wake throws in some female vocals here and there ("By My Own Hand" or "Cruel Grey Skies"), but when they really shine is when they bring some progressive tendencies to the table ("Wilderness of Thorns" or "Fall of the Flightless"). They even throw in some psychedelic sounds on opener "Tunnels". The album suffers a bit from lack of focus, with a folk interlude seemingly recorded onto the wrong album, and inconsistent songwriting. If they would run with the progressive/psychedelic gothic death/doom (let's call it psychprogothic death/doom) they could make something really great. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Holy Blood: The Patriot (2008)

Patriot Finally, we have Holy Blood, a Ukrainian folk metal band. They have obvious influences from black metal and death metal, and a sound which bears resemblance to both Amorphis and Orphaned Land. The most obvious folk elements are flute (a bit restrictive compared to strings) and synthesizers (a bit artificial). It works pretty well, though, when they have a more upbeat or epic medieval feel, with highlights like "War of the Human Soul" and "Ipytannaya Faith" the best examples. But when they stray out of their comfort zone and try to get too raw or dark, it doesn't seem to fit together--"Blood of Christ" and "Wind Death" are perfect examples. Since they only do one thing very well, it doesn't have much engaging variety, but it's not bad. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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