John Jackson

Dec 092018

Light Unseen have filled  their debut album Visions of Archetype and Apocalypse  with their brand of “deathgrind for the soul”, resulting in a grinding, pummeling listen for those so inclined.

Light Unseen began in 2016 as a one man project from Christian “Shun” Marthiljohni who decided that he wanted to step away from being the only Christian in a band and use his talents to praise the Lord through the heaviest of genres.  Shun later went on to hire Adrian Trevino on drums and the two man project released a demo in 2017, Eve of the Day of the Lord, which is also available from Nosral Recordings, a label quickly becoming the place to find Christian artists producing the heaviest of metal.  Visions of Archetype and Apocalypse  incorporates the three songs from the demo and adds six more, one of which features vocals from Matthew Plunkett of the death/grindcore band Abated Mass of Flesh.

Light Unseen waste no time jumping right into things on the album.  “Imago Dei”, one of the tracks from their demo opens things up and immediately bursts into a grinding fast riff punctuated by Adrian Trevino’s machine gun like drum work.  Vocals are a deeply growled and somewhat intelligible even for novices to the genre, which is a bit surprising as I was expecting nothing but pig squeals and the usual uninterpretable growling.  Presumably,  Shun Marthiljohni chose this approach so listeners could actually hear and understand the message in the music.  Much like a punk rock song, “Imago Dei” clocks in around a minute and half but manages to cram probably 3 minutes worth of music note in during that time. Continue reading »

BioGenesis – “Black Widow”

 Posted by on December 6, 2018 at 16:42  No Responses »
Dec 062018

Hybrid progressive/thrash/power metal band Biogenesis returns with a Black Widow, a limited release 5 song ep, that should  hold fans until their next full length is released.

For the last 17 years, Biogenesis as a band has come and gone, testing the patience of fans, many of whom were hooked after hearing their debut The Mark Bleed Through oh so many years ago.  While some consider that album a masterpiece, the band did not have that same lineup back together for an album until 2012’s The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth.  That didn’t last long and the band went on hiatus for while until original guitarist James Riggs cam back and the Nealeigh’s were added on  keyboard, drums and bass to fill out the band lineup for the critically acclaimed  A Decadence Divine.

Bands that incorporate progressive elements into their sound do tend to redefine terms like ep.  Black Widow by Biogenesis is a 5 song ep but clocks in around 33 minutes, which is longer than some band’s full length albums.  There will only be around 200 physical copies of the ep released so those wanting one would be advised to get their preorders in quickly.  From a content standpoint, the band was looking for a way to reach their fans while working on their next full length, a follow up to 2017’s A Decadence Divine.  After a history of adding and losing members, this lineup appears largely unchanged from their last album and from a performance standpoint, that is a good thing as the musicianship is strong with the band.  Production quality is top notch, so the band definitely didn’t rush this out, listening to it one can hear the time spent making it sound perfect. Continue reading »

Helix – “A Helix Christmas”

 Posted by on October 31, 2018 at 21:10  No Responses »
Oct 312018

Getting an early start on the holiday season, legendary metal band Helix have released a compilation of all their Christmas classics along with two previously unreleased tracks as part of limited edition package.

At this point in time, to say that the Canadian metal band Helix has been around a while is a bit of an understatement as the band was formed around 44 years ago.  Sure lineups have changed etc, over that time but the current lineup has been around for a while as well.  The band is best known for their 1984 song “Rock You”.  As one might expect the band has toured with other legends in the metal scene including, Kiss, Aerosmith, Rush, Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, Night Ranger, Heart, Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P., Ian Gillan and Motörhead among others.

Over the years the band had recorded and released a number of Christmas tracks including the album A Heavy Mental Christmas in 2008 which features many of the songs on this album and was at least released in Walmart stores in Canada.  This album features those tracks along with two previously unreleased tracks, which are are a brand new recording of the classic Christmas tune “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and the track “All I Want For Christmas (Is The Leafs To Win The Cup)”, which was previously released as a limited edition 7” only prior which is now out of print. Continue reading »

Azusa – “Heavy Yoke”

 Posted by on October 27, 2018 at 22:39  No Responses »
Oct 272018

Azusa emerges from the relatively unknown, combining members of Extol, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Sea + Air into a frenetic, chaotic, powerful, heavy, and at times ethereal sonic blend that is everything you’d expect and more from this talent.

For those not paying attention to extreme music at all, Azusa is a new project from Christer Espevoll and David Husvik of Extol handling guitars and drums, Liam Wilson of The Dillinger Escape Plan on bass, and Eleni Zafiriadou of Sea + Air and ex-Jumbo Jet on vocals.  Certainly and unlikely combination of talent.  Back in 2014, Christer met David at a Benea Reach show and the two started jamming 6 months later.  During that time the two, who were The Dillinger Escape Plan fans, learned that Liam (from TDEP) was into their former band Extol and they reached out and the suddenly the band just needed a vocalist. After some failed attempts incorporating metal/thrash male vocalists, they shifted to looking at female vocalists remembering Eleni from her time with the hardcore band Jumbo Jet.  During the whole recording process the whole band only managed to be in the same room 5-6 times due to everyone’s commitments and life in various countries, but through the magic of the internet, it all came together.  For those wondering, yes, the band is looking to tour…

“Interstellar Hands” opens up the album and provides a great introduction to what is to come on the album within the first 40 seconds.  After a quick drum roll, the rest of the band comes in with a blinding, furious fast and short guitar riff only to settle into a quiet, interlude filled with clean guitars and Eleni Zafiriadou’s soft, smooth, airy vocals.  That calm is short-lived as the opening riff comes back in force backed by Eleni Zafiriadou’s loud, near ragged, screaming vocals.  The song itself takes many more twists and turns alternating between beautiful and calm and furious and fast.  The band member’s pedigrees come through in this song as one can hear elements of TDEP and Extol as well as the incredible musicianship and flawless production. Continue reading »

Through the Clouds – “Blinded Minds”

 Posted by on October 18, 2018 at 22:04  No Responses »
Oct 182018

Thrash guitarist Tiago James de Souza from Hand of Fire unveils his new side project Through the Clouds, putting together a collection of hard rock tracks carrying his signature guitar work.

Brazilian musician Tiago James de Souza is certainly known within thrash fans for his work as part of Hand of Fire (Rottweiler Records).  For those who really know a bit more about him, you also know that he is guitarist and producer of the album The Reapers by Perpetual Paranoia, a band featuring legendary vocalist Dale Thompson (Bride).  For this project, de Souza worked with Paulo Lima in Brazil while he recorded the music parts in California, making this a truly inter-continental project.  Paulo and Tiago met around three years ago through a mutual friend and the project began.  After a chat with Roxx Records CEO, they agreed to be part of the project and things began in earnest.

So, the tie to Hand of Fire certainly intrigued me when I received this album as their Nuclear Sunrise album made my Top 10, the year it came out.  I’ve always loved thrash, probably because of its close ties to punk, so I was hoping for more of that.  The opening track “Crossfire” put things in a different light as once the long intro with blistering solo ended, the song became a 90’s –influenced hard rock track.   Ever present in the songs is de Souza’s incredible guitar work.  Paulo Lima’s vocals are a bit too loud in the mix for my taste and the rhythm section a bit too quiet but everything is still very listenable and much of the complaints I have might just be my taste, so keep that in mind.  Lima’s vocals even have that 90’s era feel to them, specifically like some of the Seattle bands like Alice in Chains and others of the later Seattle scene. Continue reading »