DEATHRONATION | JOHNSTON | KNŒD | NEUE DEUTSCHE STUBENMUSI | NIGHTCHAINS | SCHATTENSPIEL
STAHLPLANET | THE WALRUZ
Review of 'Exorchrism'
PESTWEBZINE.COM, June 2012
Old-school Death Metal analog recorded - this is mentioned on both this CD and the band's website. This is the band's second demo and although it's labelled as a demo, it was released by a label, Dead Master's Beat, in professional CD format. Deathronation plays old-school Death Metal, the American type of Death from the end of the '80's - beginning of the '90's. Mostly fast paced, "Exorchrism" has also some mid-tempo parts that are really great. The whole CD is disputed between Thrashy, energetic atmospheres, and rotten, cryptic Death Metal stench. I'd say this demo is Deathronation's application for the lead wave of old-school Death Metal bands that are out there nowadays. If you're into ancient American Death Metal (Florida style) you should definitely get this demo!
Reviewed by Adrian
DIGITAL-STEEL.COM, November 2012
Deathronation from Germany brings you death metal since 2004. They released their first demo in 2006 and this is their second demo called Exorchrism released by Dead Master's Beat (in cooperation with God Eater Records). It take them 4 years to come with a new demo but the result is ravaging. So this demo is released on label and I can understand why. Five tracks of furious and dark death metal and an instrumental to close this masterpiece. The guitar riffs are straight in your face and sound raw and thrash. The drums are a constant double bass filled with groove and technical beats. The vocals are grunts that really sound evil and raw. The production is not the best I ever heard but really gives it an old school feeling (like it came from the 90s). The variety in the songs are great and the composing sometimes reminds me a bit of Malevolent Creation VS Asphyx. After listening to this demo I am curious what a full length album is going to sound like. If you like old school death metal that sounds dark and evil then I can recommend this album.
Review of 'Welcome To The Weaseldome'
METAL-ARCHIVES.COM, June 2009
Must be Johnston...can only be! From far beyond! - 85%
This band needed a damn long time to come around with their first album…and then it's still too short! But short records are better than those drifting on for too long and getting boring, so I only hope they won't need another 9 years for the second album. ‘Cause this debut is a really one!
What we got here is technical death metal mainly influenced by early 90s albums from Florida. So if you are into Atheist, Cynic, Nocturnus and Human-era Death, this might appeal to you. And this is also the cool thing about Johnston, cause by neither sounding like ancient death metal nor like modern blast beat shit, this even has some kind of originality to it. You might say if they are influenced by the old masters of technical death metal, how are they original. Well, they are for sure influenced by them, but they don't really sound alike. It's not the same mayhem as Nocturnus, and it's for sure not as technical as Atheist and Cynic, but it got a lot of really cool ideas and even with an average song length of more than five minutes, the songs are not too hard to get into. There's always something new to explore, but there's also always something that sticks to the mind.
The second song "Feel My Presence" is quite a standout. After a short bass intro the guitars set in with a melody that could be played by some current stadium death metal shit band, but it's short enough to not get cheesy and thus comes out as a nice addition. And then, later in the song, these guys really turn into playing some waltz riff. Yes, it really is a waltz, you could dance to it, but it still fits in the song and for sure sounds like extreme metal. And also the outro of the last song with the accordion and mandolin like guitars shows the creative potential that lurks in the brains of these strange guys.
Since I mentioned the old Floridian bands as an important influence, I should note that the vocals are quite different. It's not the raspy aggressive style somewhat influenced by thrash metal, but these guys here use very deep and brutal growls, more akin to bands such as Grave and sometimes Bolt Thrower.
The production is pretty good. The whole album is self produced, and except for the drums has not been recorded in a real studio, but it still sounds much better than many albums out there with a good recording budget. The sound is neither under- nor overproduced. For sure, it's all digital and does not have the natural warmth of an old analogue recording, but it does not sound like all these terrible recordings out there that suffer from mega compression and triggered drums. Also the mix is really good, you can hear everything in a pleasingly balanced way. The whole production smells of long working hours by the band themselves and is proof of litres of heart's blood that have flown into this.
The only letdown are the artwork and the strange humour which will be a bit too odd for many death metal fans. But it should be noted that even though it is very obvious that these guys don't take themselves seriously, this for sure is not a fun record. So rest assured, even though it does not have the dark and deathy atmosphere of the true ancient style, this is no stupid bullshit either! And some of the crazy ideas are really cool actually, like when they include all the "aaarrrggghhhhs", "grrrrrrrrrs" and "oooooooohhhhhhs" into the printed lyrics.
"Welcome to the Weaseldome" is a damn fine debut and shows a lot of potential. If Johnston manage to get going with regular gigs and continue to work hard, I am sure the next album will be a killer! If you are into extreme metal as being described above, do yourselves a favour and check this band out. They really deserve it!
Review of 'Mère Ravine Entelecheion'
PESTWEBZINE.COM, November 2012
Quite an old release from Dead Master's Beat, but since I have received it now for a review I guess it's still available although being limited to only 500 copies. Well, I guess followers of this music are even less than followers of underground Extreme Metal so Dead Master's Beat is certainly not in this for the money. Knoed is an extremely strange project from France (I guess) combining Dark Ambient soundscapes with Electronic, Noise, Drone and even Jazz elements. The overall result is a scarry, claustrophobic dive into intrinsic emotions, an almost cinematic experience complete with disturbing noise elements but also long dead silence parts to recover oneself from the disturbing sounds he previousely experienced. This is not something I'm very used to but it is definitely a unique experience, I wouldn't call it music, I'd call it experimental soundscapes...
Reviewed by Adrian
Review of 'Erstsendung'
PESTWEBZINE.COM, February 2013
Holy crap, Today is the weird music's day for my player and NDS seems to be the weirdest thing I've spinned so far. A creepy, desolate and quite schizophrenic atmosphere surrounds this music, I wouldn't know how to describe it exactly but just imagine walking around in your neighborhood listening to natural noises made by cars, neighbors, nature, TV, but all of them enveloped in a sick, insane and quite nostalgic guilt of memories (memories of all kinds of sounds). This a is a weird and spooky collage of sounds, nothing to do with Metal.
Reviews of 'Metal To The Bone'
METAL-RULES.COM, March 2008
I cannot recall hearing any metal bands from Lebanon before - well, except Weeping Willow that plays some crunchy and heavy old school death metal. Nightchains, which unfortunately split up in 2006, plays traditional, straight-forward, very '80s-tinged heavy/speed metal with such an amount of conviction that it almost feels like a crime that they don't exist any longer. Anyway, this just proves it doesn't matter which part of the world you come from; good metal is produced everywhere. You only need to dig it up, deep down from the underground to the surface of the earth, and then enjoy it.
Nightchains' only album, very fittingly titled METAL TO THE BONE, throws all of us back in time; back to those days when bands like Griffin, Agent Steel, Helstar, Raven, Omen and other forces of pure speed and heavy metal dominated on the face of the earth. METAL TO THE BONE, is metaphorically speaking, metal to the bone. The band threesome, Max, Tex and Nabil, obviously have always shared a common interest toward this type of metal genre as they do sound very convincing with their '80s-tinged speed/heavy metal that irresistably flows out from the speakers, kind of inviting you personally to join the heavy metal party and make your best out of it.
While listening to such songs off the album like "Ecstasy", "The Law", "Summit of Thunder" and "Heart of Battle", one starts to feel a certain respect for these fellows' achievements on this fine speed/heavy metal album. The whole album is more or less like a tribute album to the all the bands that have influenced Nightchains in one way or the other, introducing 9 pure, '100% made-of-metal' songs to its target group; the true beauty and rawness of its own musical genre. The band's singer, Max, has a we'll-trained voice - and he has no problem at all in going to the upper registers whenever it's necessary for the structure of a song. Tex, on the other hand, proves to be one helluva guitarist. His riffs find their way to the target effortlessly while his leads seem to be full of thunder and lightning. Nabil on drums is his own virtuoso, too - probably not the one of the most technical metal drummers on the globe, but does his job the way it is expected from him to do.
The production of METAL TO THE BONE is sort of on a demo level. It's kind of thin and lacks some input as far as making the songs powerful enough is concerned. But on the other hand, when we are talking about the metal that was produced during the eighties, the sound world METAL TO THE BONE has, fits well to the overall feeling of the songs herein.
So, what else there is to say, but Nightchains are truly metal to the fuckin' single bone. Please do yourself a favor and check them out if you get a chance for that. Special thanks go out to Mr. Humberto Sanchez for introducing me to their music.
JORZINE.COM, February 2011
The first and only album of this Lebanese Speed/Thrash Metal band, released in 2005. The following year, two members of the band (Nadim and Nabil, bassist and drummer respectively) left Lebanon; therefore, NIGHTCHAINS split up. After that, Tex and Max (guitar and vocals respectively) founded THE GAMBLERS, a band whose sound is close to Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, but which maintains the spirit of NIGHTCHAINS. Apart from that, Tex is also part of DETOX, a punk band where he plays with THRASH STORM's bass player and with his wife Aida. In June 2010, "Metal to the Bone" was re-edited by the German label DEAD MASTERS BEAT, including as bonus tracks the 3 songs of THE GAMBLERS' demo.
NIGHTCHAINS plays old school Speed/Thrash Metal, that has no reason to envy the new bands of this style which have been emerging in Europe and the USA during the last years. Its sound reminds me of Canadian Speed/Thrash Metal bands. They also are influenced by the punk-ish and dirty sound of MOTORHEAD, or even by some Bay Area Thrash. Anyway, they don't sound like any specific band, having a personal and unique sound, something not really frequent in the debut album of any band.
We can highlight the killer riffs of Tex, full of rage and attitude, and Max's voice, a voice with a lot of personality, something hard to find in Thrash Metal. He is probably the best metal singer of Lebanon. This is an awesome album from the beginning to the end, where we can highlight most of their songs. Here, there is even a ballad, something not specially common in Thrash Metal albums. It doesn't have the quality of TESTAMENT's Thrash Metal ballads, but it sounds good. Also we should mention the horrible album cover of the 2005 edition, which fortunately was changed for another in the 2010 edition.
The most remarkable songs are "Ecstasy", the first song of the album, where we can see all the potential of Max's voice; "The Law", the best song of the album, which is fast, short and energetic; "Metal Storm", a song that starts slow but becomes fast and aggressive; and "Where We Come From", one of my favorite songs of the album, that talks about the unkind side of their native Beirut. The only song which I can consider as unremarkable is "Summit Of Thunder", which is not a bad song, but it is harder to listen to because it has a slower rhythm. On the other hand, we should highlight the two most different songs of the album, which contribute to make it more heterogeneous: "(Can't Write A) Love Song", a ballad played only through acoustic guitar and vocals, where I miss a little bit of electric guitar and drums; and "Heart Of The Battle", an epic song, closer to Heavy Metal than Thrash.
To these 8 songs of the album (released in the 2005 edition), we must add four bonus tracks in the 2010 edition. These bonus tracks consist of the 3 songs of the THE GAMBLERS' demo, and a "hidden track", where we listen to a funny version of "(Can't write a) Love Song". The 3 songs of the THE GAMBLERS demo are "Show Business", maybe the song closest to Hard Rock; "Bastards", a song that is strongly influenced by MOTORHEAD as we can see in its title; and my favorite song of this demo, "Lone Riders". About THE GAMBLERS, we could affirm that they keep NIGHTCHAINS' spirit and attitude alive, and maybe they could be one of the most important Lebanese bands in the next few years. They have enough quality to do it.
To end this review, I would like to say that the end of NIGHTCHAINS was bad news for all metalheads. When they split up, we lost one of the best Middle-Eastern Thrash Metal bands. Re-union? I wish it could be definite, and they could release a lot of albums #as good as "Metal to the Bone". And if it is possible, I hope the re-union doesn't mean the end of THE GAMBLERS, a band which can give us a lot of surprises in the future.
My Rate: 9.5/10
Review of 'Lichtgestalten'
THEFORMLESSKINGDOM.BLOGSPOT.COM, September 2011
I would like to start this review with a back-handed compliment. I honestly did not foresee exactly how it was possible for Sven Phalanx to surpass the grandiosity of his last work. He did it, though. He achieved an even stronger album by going in the exact opposite direction that "Schattenkrieger" went. Now, this album has been in the works for a couple of years, and when I was approached by Sven back in 2oo9 to remix any song of his that I wished, I was unaware of the direction he wanted to go. I was under the impression that what turned out to be this sophisticated, mature effort, was just going to be Sven 'n Friends, a collection of possibilities stemming from the root of a Schattenspiel song. How wrong I was. Today, this error of assumption has turned into an unexpected joy. It is a rainy, calm day here in West Hollywood, and I only wish that as the waters wash along these filthy streets, they could help tell everyone how proud I am of everyone who was kind enough to dedicate their time and talent for the creation of "Lichtgestalten".
It has become obvious to you, my friends, that as I am of the darker persuasion, I favor things of a more somber color, and this album fits that niche perfectly, but what I favor more than darkness is progress, innovation, evolution. Sven has allowed Schattenspiel to evolve. This album has a wider range of sound, but it doesn't seek heights as aggressively as the second half of "Schattenkrieger", nor does it have the same tinges of sadness the first half did. There is still sorrow present, but more importantly, there is also perfect harmony in this album, and while the stories the individual tracks are as different as the people that helped forge them, there is a common realm that most of the songs share. There is something of an unwavering focus instilled here, so the place you begin at is finite, only you are then forced to confront the very personal nature of each track. This album feels just that way, personal, and while the expansiveness of his last album was one of its strengths, Sven has managed to astonish me by letting all his collaborators play on their ABSOLUTE strengths.
I can attest to this last statement with my own experience. I am very pleased with the fact that the electronics have seen a significant influx this time, and I can attribute the best of that to Christian Salva. What makes his input to this album especially meaningful for me is not only the utter clarity of his modern style, but his contributions outweigh [collectively] the fractal abstraction and rhythmic noise in my remix for the great little ambient track called "Totenwache". Why fractal? Because that is the perfect way of describing the spaced out overlapping I used to manipulate the nice little violin track Sven originated and turned it into something of a disjointed but harmonized orchestra among a swell of static. I feel that this track would sound out of place if Sven had not taken the liberty of blending his classical convictions with the noisier bout of electronic elements given to the majority of the songs. There are more different beat-sequences in this album. There is more sampling. There is a very healthy portion of some very sweet and heartfelt vocals done by the very sexy and sultry sirens known as Seetha and Shaita.
These girls give one of the most important things this album needed to be as strong as it is, which is the human element. Not only do these two have great voices, but they made sure to use them in the best way possible to fit each song. They took great care in the melodic delivery of each verse, each line, each word. I believe Seetha shines best in the outstanding re-working of "Falling Down". I was floored by this new version. So much so that I think it is very close to what would be considered a climax for this album, but as powerful of a rendition as it is, it still fits into the focused vision that is the entirety of the album. As for Shaita, her absolute moment of glory for me has to be "Echo". Everything that can be said about "Falling Down 2010" can be repeated for "Echo", and I particularly enjoy how both ladies impart a tenderness to all their work alongside their yearning, passion, emotion... They too have evolved. Their personalities come through and make "Lichtgestalten" as much theirs as it is Sven's.
I could not include the word balance here without mentioning the work put in that gives a more sinister tone to some of the tracks. This was taken care of by the pieces done with both Barbarossa Umtrunk and Igniis. These are part of the much needed male counterparts in the face of feminine sweetness and a serene flow of feeling to help make this piece more universally appealing, and indeed, more universal. I loved the clarity of Mr. Mateo's vocals on this one, the brightness of the guitar, the fact that while he stands in the same light as everyone else here, he confronts the outside world, giving social commentary, but linking it to the hurt most of the rest of the album sees.
I am stunned. I don't even want to pick apart the album further by naming favorites because this is a work that should be considered as a whole. Sven Phalanx has transcended a former version of himself. Those who have already felt very endeared to him will find themselves loving him now. This album is that exceptional.
This album is a triumph.
Review of 'Nachwelt'
PESTWEBSIZE.COM, February 2013
Dead Master's Beat presents this album as "perfect for driving through the night". What??? I would have an accident 5 seconds after hitting the play button! Stahlplanet is one of the weirdest projects I've heard in a long time; combining industrial/factory-like sounds with strange, hypnotic ambient elements, (a few) haunting and ghostly vocals, and some Electro inserts to spice things up a bit. Definitely not my type of music, but of you're into Electro, Noise, Indus, and even Ambient you might give this one a try, it's not something you'll overlook easily.
Review of 'Leviamaag'
PESTWEBSIZE.COM, February 2013
I have just listened/reviewed Stahlplanet's "Nachwelt", and even if this is an old release I will write some words on it, too. Back in 2008 Stahlplanet's music was a bit more built on keyboards and piano rather than electro elements (still present even at that time), although the direction the project is following now was quite obvious even since then. This album is less strange than "Nachtwelt" and it can be an easier choice even for non die-hard fans of the genre. This was released as a limited (98 copies only) edition box including some more goodies too, and since the label sent it for a review I guess some copies are still available.
Review of 'One Way Ticket'
COSMICLAVA.COM, June 2008
If you're not sure what kind of music you should put in your player for your next bong session, than I like to recommend this German band to you. Of course, you can enjoy THE WALRUZ also without any illegal substances, but I can imagine that it will surely help, especially because this three guys have taken some nice samples from the obscure German anti-drug B-movie 'Ich - Ein Groupie'. When this flic has been released it was meant as a serious statement against the use of psychedelic drugs, but when you see it today it's only funny and THE WALRUZ rate it in the same way. The main attraction of 'Groupie' was a young German actress named Ingrid Steeger, who was one of the hottest girls during the 1970's here in Germany, but the music in 'Groupie' was also very nice. Ah, yes, the music....that's what this review should be about. THE WALRUZ play minimalistic doom-driven heavy rock, and while their sound is a cross between early Acid King and early Electric Wizard the vocals sound like Pete Stahl on downers.
This guys share a huge interest for lowest frequencies, but they don't forget to write proper songs. 'One Way Ticket' is a very mellow album and if you want to relaxe from the daily struggle this should help you in finding some peace of mind. They have also integrated an organ in 'Apathetic', so that the self-repeating moments of this album are rare to find. I think, it's not easy to play such kind of simple slow-paced heavy rock without losing themselves in endless boredom. How nice that they managed it. Maybe The Church Within Records have had the same thoughts about THE WALRUZ, so Oliver did sign them to expand his roster of high-quality releases. All five songs have been recorded in 2000 and I hope, this group will come up with new songs in the future. This is a very good start and if you dig the 1970's as well as slow and heavy music, than give this band a chance.