Album: Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Alter
Label: Neurot
Release: September 18, 2012

Just like I did in April when Oro: Opus Primum was release, I go back to the press release to present a clear picture of the band:

“As with all previous UFOMAMMUT albums, the concepts behind ORO are expansive and multi-faceted, mutating the Italian palindrome which translates to “gold” with the Latin translation of “I prey.” ORO explores the concept of knowledge and its power; the magical stream controlled by the human mind to gain control of every single particle of the world surrounding us. ORO is the alchemical process to transform the human fears into pure essence; into gold. Although ORO’s two chapters are being released months apart from each other, they must be considered as a single track in which the musical themes and the sounds appear and reappear, mutate and evolve, progressively culminating in the crushing final movement. ORO is an alchemic laboratory in which substances are flowing, dividing and blending themselves in ten increments from the alembics and stills, culminating into the creation of gold.”

I thought that was fitting to post again since the press release that came with this second part of Oro contained this same paragraph about the concept behind the album.

Like the first part, Opus Alter is almost an instrumental record, the last five movements of a monstrous ten song cycle. I of course think the first record is one of the best releases of 2012 but I did wonder why they didn’t put all ten tracks on the first album. After listening to the new record, I’m glad they didn’t. They both tie in nicely together but Opus Primum had more keyboards and more plodding doom. Opus Alter builds upon the atmosphere set up by that record and blows it through the roof. The record begins with “Oroborus” which sets the place on fire. It starts quietly with bass building up until the guitar comes in with one killer riff repeated over and over again. Soon, a wall of noise gets added over top and the sound keeps building until about the 2:40 mark where they flip the volume to 11 and crank that fucker. They do much of the same with “Sublime” as well but the album ends with a face melter called “Deitytrant.” Ufomammut leaves everything on the table for this one, ending the opus with fire, blood, sweat and tears the way only they can.

They each have their own unique qualities and when you listen to them back-to-back you can not only understand why they are two records instead of one but also how great they work together as one continuous piece.  Oro: Opus Primum is the better of the two records but Oro: Opus Alter is a motherfuckin’ metal record you definitely shouldn’t be without.

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Album: Silencer, The Great Bear
Label: Vanity Music Group
Release: September 25, 2012

Silencer is a band that’s really difficult to get into. Why? Because they constantly change their sound. They’ve been around for more than a decade now, starting out as a power metal band, before turning into thrash and then tossing death metal into the blend where they almost had to simply be called an extreme band. The Great Bear marks yet another change in sound, foregoing pretty much everything they’ve done to play more of a traditional metal style, hell, maybe even simply a rock record. I’m a big fan of bands that push the boundaries of their genre but the majority of bands actually do have a genre they fall into. The dudes in Silencer just don’t seem to know what direction they want to go.

The Great Bear is their third LP, a concept record about the Soviet Union as part of the space race between them and the US in the 50’s and 60’s and then tries to envision what might have happened if the Soviets had decided that after the US landed on the moon they were simply going to go further out into space and one up us. That’s certainly an interesting concept for the record or at least a direction that other bands have not pursued. Unfortunately, they seemed to forget they needed to put some quality riffs on the record too.

There’s 11 short tracks on the record, with four of them being story builders only, like the final track, “The First, The Last” which is a grand, Soviet tune (I’m assuming the old Soviet national anthem). Around them though are some seriously boring riffs with only “I Am Thunder!” teasing you with a fierce thrash solo (and it’s a good thing too, since it has an exclamation point in the title!). There’s very little else that makes this album worth listening to and if it wasn’t for the rough and tumble vocals of Chad Armstrong, it could be mistaken for any number of quasi-mainstream-core bands out there. I definitely think Silencer is better than this but let’s hope this is their only misstep. Next album boys, fuck the concept, write some better songs.

Album: Winterfylleth, The Threnody of Triumph
Label: Candlelight
Release: September 25, 2012

So many people think metal is just for meatheads and jocks but then a band like Winterfylleth comes along to show them what intellectual metal is all about. I’m neither of those first two things but I clearly did not pay attention in school either as I had to look up the name of the band to find out that Winterfylleth is the Old English name for October and that a Threnody is a song to the dead. Not that I got that out of the way, I start to understand the record.

The Threnody of Triumph is a concept record by this English black metal band contrasting the darkness of death with the light of triumph by celebrating their memories. It’s their third record though I’m not familiar with the other two to compare and really I simply don’t get that many English black metal albums crossing my desk these days. So I approached this record with absolutely no preconceived notions whatsoever.

And it’s fantastic.

Winterfylleth blends sharp, angular black metal riffs with a slight bit of folk to create a record that is clearly pushing the boundaries of the genre without breaking the mold. The riffs are speedy and pitch black with the piercing screams of C. Naughton simply chilling. The folk elements are what brings that sense of light back into the disc amidst the darkness of death. After getting worn down by the sorrow of tunes like “The Swart Raven” and “A Memorial” there’s a nice acoustic passage like “Home Is Behind” to rise the spirits back up, ever so slightly. The contrast of dark and light really work well in this context to keep your senses on their toes and make sure the record doesn’t get repetitive.

This is truly a masterful record in any genre but especially in black metal where it certainly is one of the best releases of 2012.

Album:  Haarp, Husks
Label: Housecore
Release: September 18, 2012

Smelling salts please. Three tracks, 40 minutes and I’ve listened to this three times which equals two hours of my life I’ve now spent in a coma. Haarp are a four piece sludge/doom band out of New Orleans that record for Phil Anselmo who owns Housecore records. Gotta love Phil for bringing together all kinds of metal on his label but the guy doesn’t have the best ear in the world for quality.

Getting right to the bottom line with Haarp here – phew, they are snooze inducing. They play a brand of superslow sludge mixed with screamed hardcore-like vocals and maybe a riff or two on the entire disc. Husks might be three tracks but it feels like only one with virtually no change of pace and maybe the same riff throughout all of them. I say maybe because it’s hard to tell as from start to finish it’s just a blur of noise and somewhere around the 12 minute mark or so each time I just lost complete focus on the record. Sure, I headbanged once or twice, though I couldn’t tell you what song I headbanged to and I might have just been doing it as a natural reaction to anything even semi-metal like. But, the point is, that I did it, so there’s something good there and the record isn’t a total waste of time. However, there are so many other sludge bands that are so much more creative than Haarp that there’s really no reason to listen to this unless you’re Phil Anselmo’s sister.

Albums currently on the potential ten best of 2012 list:
Baroness, Yellow & Green
Christian Mistress, Possession
Denial of God, Death and the Beyond
Goatwhore, Blood for the Master
Human Toilet, Human Toilet
Jorn, Bring Heavy Rock To the Land
Kadavar, Kadavar
Korpiklaani, Manala
Mongrels Cross, The Sins of Aquarius
OSI, Fire Make Thunder
Satanic Bloodspraying, At the Mercy of Satan
Terrorizer, Hordes of Chaos
Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Alter
Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Primum
Winterfylleth, The Threnody of Triumph
Woods of Ypres, Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light

About the Author

Dave Steed

Dave Steed is all about music; 80's and metal to be exact. His iPod will shuffle from Culture Club to Slayer and he won't blink an eye. He's never heard Astral Weeks but thinks "Dazzey Duks" by Duice is the bomb. It's an odd little corner of the world he lives in.

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