Album Review – Target / Deep Water Flames (2019)

Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by one of the most talented and innovative names of the South American metal scene.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to be absolutely stunned by the music crafted by four extremely talented guys hailing from Santiago, the beautiful capital of Chile, who seem to have mastered the art of blending sheer aggression and tons of progressiveness infused with atmospheric and melancholic passages. I’m talking about a Technical/Progressive Death Metal four-piece unity that goes by the name of Target, who released earlier this year their sophomore full-length opus, the amazing Deep Water Flames, one of the best metal albums of 2019 so far without a shadow of a doubt, and I’m sure you’ll agree with that after listening to such imposing and dense album of extreme music.

Formed in the year of 2002, the band now comprised of lead singer Andrés Piña, guitarist Luis Soto, bassist Rodrigo Castro and drummer Rodrigo Arias put on a lot of hard work, passion for heavy music and talent into the making of Deep Water Flames. Recorded and mixed in Santiago by Erick Martínez at Orange Studio, mastered in Sweden by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Recording Studios, and featuring dark and flammable artwork, design and graphics by Dehn Sora, from Paris, France, Deep Water Flames sounds and feels like a tribute to all things Progressive and Death Metal, captivating all your senses from its first notes until its climatic grand finale, therefore positioning Target as one of the best and most innovative names of the underground scene in South America.

The intro Immerse is absolutely eerie and atmospheric from the very first second, reaching deep inside your soul and warming up your mind for the bold and crushing Inverted Gloaming, featuring Juan Escobar (Aphonic Threnody, AstorVoltaires, Tetractys, Mar de Grises) on vocals. Sounding utterly wicked and experimental, this excellent tune is led by Rodrigo’s insane beats and fills, while Andrés screams in a deranged and visceral way, resulting in a lecture in contemporary Progressive Death Metal. Then once again offering madness in the form of music, the band brings forth No Solace Arises, where Luis is on fire with his razor-edged strings, or in other words, this is a neck-breaking tune where the band’s “Rodrigos” shake the foundations of the earth with their beats and bass punches, making it feel like we’re listening to three or four songs all at once.

As obscure and atmospheric as its predecessors, Oceangrave is a flawless fusion of intricacy and rage, sounding as if Lamb of god went full progressive, showcasing ominous passages blended with Luis’ evil guitar lines and Rodrigo Castro’s damned, thunderous bass roars; followed by Surge Drift Motion, which begins in full force with both Luis and Rodrigo Castro shredding their strings mercilessly. Put differently, it’s a heavier-than-hell version of classic Progressive Metal spiced up by Andrés’ roars, with the piercing guitar solos by the band’s stringed duo being the icing on the cake. Submerged is a futuristic and melancholic instrumental bridge that will mesmerize you and prepare you for the pulverizing Drowned in an Everlasting Mantra, starting in a purely experimental mode before Rodrigo Arias begins exterminating his drums beautifully. Furthermore, sheer violence emanates from every riff and beat, with the deep, bestial growls by Andrés seeming inspired by Deathcore while the instrumental pieces remind me of the gripping music by bands like Gojira and Opeth.

Target Deep Water Flames Digipak

The following song, entitled Blackwaters, couldn’t have started in a more demented way, with its eccentric notes morphing into another brutal feast of progressive sounds where Rodrigo Castro’s bass lines are more imposing than ever. Hence, it’s highly recommended for either slamming into the pit or simply witnessing the band playing it to perfection on stage; and get ready for over nine minutes of the most devastating and intricate form of Progressive Death Metal you can think of in Random Waves, featuring Jeronimo Ruiz (Entrefuego), who brings insanity to the music with his vocals, remaining completely wicked, vile and cinematic until the very end. And lastly, the band offers us the serene outro Emerge, where its piano notes and background elements will embrace you and make you feel comfortable in darkness.

You should definitely take a very good and detailed listen at this magnificent album of Technical and Progressive Death Metal made in Chile on YouTube and on Spotify, and after being hypnotized by Target’s heavy and complex sounds you can purchase Deep Water Flames directly from the band’s BandCamp page, from the Australis Records’ BandCamp page, from Apple Music, from Amazon or from CD Baby. Furthermore, if I were you I would go for the digipak version of the album as it’s simply fantastic. I got it from Australis Records, and let me tell you those guys did a beautiful job producing the physical CD format of such distinct album. Also, don’t forget to follow Target on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and let your body and mind dive into the incendiary deep waters of progressive and heavy music ruled by those extremely talented Chilean musicians.

Best moments of the album: Inverted Gloaming, Oceangrave and Drowned in an Everlasting Mantra.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Australis Records

Track listing
1. Immerse 2:15
2. Inverted Gloaming 6:11
3. No Solace Arises 5:28
4. Oceangrave 5:21
5. Surge Drift Motion 5:42
6. Submerged 2:14
7. Drowned in an Everlasting Mantra 5:24
8. Blackwaters 6:31
9. Random Waves 9:13
10. Emerge 3:59

Band members
Andrés Piña – vocals
Luis Soto – guitars
Rodrigo Castro – bass
Rodrigo Arias – drums

Guest musicians
Jeronimo Ruiz – vocals on “Random Waves”
Juan Escobar – vocals & instrumental arrangements on “Immerse”, “Inverted Gloaming” and “Emerge”

Advertisements

Album Review – VHOD / Dreamcleaver (2015)

A must-listen experimental and rapturous Death Metal album presented by a long-serving Canadian metaller.

Rating4

VHOD_DREAMCLEAVER-album_coverConceived by sole member Chris Shaver in early 2014 in the city of Armstrong, located in British Columbia, Canada, as a merger of Chris’ past bands Godcursed (2004-2014), Morbid Darkness (1989-2014) and Worms Of The Birth (2011-2014), what you will find in the music by Experimental Death Metal project VHOD is a metallic torrent of different genres and subgenres of heavy music, blending elements from all his past works with new concepts and a substantial amount of progressiveness. If you’re already familiar with the music Chris is capable of crafting, you’ll undoubtedly love VHOD, and if you’re a newcomer to his 25-year old metal kingdom, get ready for an amazing sonic experience.

It took Chris a few months at his own studio (Artery Studios) to finalize VHOD’s first full-length album, entitled Dreamcleaver, featuring exclusive artwork by artist Jeni Fitts (Provoking Drama), and the result couldn’t have been more ferocious and harmonious, which makes me wonder how satisfied Chris might be right now with his newborn “creature”. Although this isn’t his first release under the VHOD banner, having already recorded a considerable amount of singles and EP’s, including a four-piece concept EP for his Tor-saga, it’s now in Dreamcleaver where Chris was able to showcase all his abilities as a musician, also pointing to the direction his music will most probably follow from now on.

As soon as you start listening to the opening track Still The Blood, with highlights to its truly metallic sounding and the primeval growls by Chris, you’ll find yourself in the eye of a Death/Thrash Metal tornado. This is indeed a progressive and at the same time visceral tune, with nice guitar solos at the end to provide it some extra fuel, followed by the less progressive and extremely destructive The Spectre’s Behest, where Chris puts the “pedal to Death Metal” and multiplies his offensive abilities, reaching an incredible level of devastation in an more than exciting chant. And again bringing elements of Thrash Metal, On The Tree Of Woe presents our multi-instrumentalist warrior vociferating his lines while instrumental parts create an atmosphere of evil and bestiality. Despite its piercing guitar riffs and endless electricity being the most important elements of the entire song, its second part also deserves our attention, when Chris focuses on a more introspective and apocalyptical vibe.

The next track, So Pass Away/Locus Mortis, is not only a solid tune where progressive lines and pure hardcore riffs are perfectly blended, but the bestial growling by Chris (especially during its chorus) makes it feel like the Death Metal played by Cannibal Corpse when they slow down, but still as heavy as hell, with its somewhat anguished ending increasing its impact. And in the Death/Doom Metal song Dragon Sand, a “solitary” beat kicks it off before melancholy and hopelessness begin emanating from its riffs and rhythm, with that dark energy going on until the end of the song in a great display of musicianship. Focusing on a more traditional and faster musicality, we have Reap The Harvest, offering a good mixture of blast beats and heavy riffs and solos, and if Chris puts together a band for live performances I believe this is one of the best songs to be added to the setlist.

5In Now Underground,  “forget” about the devilish Death Metal offered so far, as there’s a switch to a completely different sounding the likes of Opeth, or in other words, a darker version of Progressive Metal. Chris delivers high doses of experimentations and a somber ambience in a surprisingly enjoyable break from the previous madness, but that’s just until the high-speed Flesh For Our Swords begins: this tune proves that VHOD can provide an infinite mix of genres and subgenres of heavy music with its Melodic Death Metal vibe boosted by the old school growls by Chris. Moreover, it doesn’t actually feel like “just” a one-man band due to its organic sounding and infinite electricity, not to mention its awesome bass lines punching you in the head all the time. Lastly, Obsequies is only an eerie instrumental “intro” (which could have been slightly shorter, by the way) to the title-track Dreamcleaver, an amazing exhibit of fast and furious Death Metal, including elements from Punk Rock, Hardcore, Thrash Metal and more. It’s the best song of the album in my humble opinion and a lesson in how to transform guitar riffs into endless fuel for the sonic havoc proposed, as even with almost eight minutes the music never loses its grip. In addition, Chris’ vocals remind me of Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth, giving the song a more pugnacious approach.

To sum up, VHOD might be considered just a project by many, including its architect Chris Shaver, but the quality of the music presented by this one-man infantry in Dreamcleaver is so impressive it becomes a must-listen for lovers of extreme and multi-layered metal. All things VHOD can be found at the band’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you will soon find Dreamcleaver for purchase at VHOD’s BandCamp page or at the Inverse Records webshop, if you consider yourself one of those death metallers who carry that passion for progressiveness in your black heart.

Best moments of the album: The Spectre’s Behest, So Pass Away/Locus Mortis and Dreamcleaver.

Worst moments of the album: Obsequies.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Still The Blood 5:07
2. The Spectre’s Behest 3:36
3. On The Tree Of Woe 7:09
4. So Pass Away/Locus Mortis 6:56
5. Dragon Sand 7:23
6. Reap The Harvest 4:37
7. Now Underground 5:21
8. Flesh For Our Swords 5:20
9. Obsequies 3:23
10. Dreamcleaver 7:49

Band members
Chris Shaver – vocals, all Instruments

Album Review – Benevolent / The Covenant (2014)

Get ready for some really interesting extreme and experimental heavy music from the Middle-East.

Rating5

Benevolent_The CovenantAt least from a music perspective, Globalization doesn’t seem as disastrous as we all think it is: when in our lives would we ever imagine we could one day listen to an Experimental Death Metal band from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with just a few clicks? Not only that, the band is actually good and goes by the “friendly” name of Benevolent, and their first full-length album, The Covenant, deserves a shot.

As expected in any experimental or progressive band, most of the songs are long, usually surpassing the 6-minute barrier, and are not easy to digest if you’re not absolutely crazy for innovation or “weird voyages” in the world of heavy music. Right after the atmospheric intro Void, the band already offers us a very good example of their chosen path for creating music: the excellent Asphyxia is a really experimental and at the same time brutal song, maybe something in between Progressive and Death Metal, with a good mix of guttural and clean vocals by brothers Fadi and Hadi Sarieddine, respectively. This song is almost 10 minutes long, which means if you can reach the end of it and enjoy all its variations and breaks, then this album is for you.

The following tracks are The Seeker, another totally experimental track the likes of Opeth and Tool showcasing all the talent of the musicians involved, with a nice guitar solo by the end of the song; Radiate, an instrumental song with focus on the piano/keyboards lines; and Illusion, a pretty good song with an acoustic guitar intro, heavy riffs and melancholic rhythm, and that sounds a lot like what Dream Theater would be if they had guttural vocals.

Another one of my favorite songs is Heathen, a very progressive song with hints of Blackened Death Metal and excellent instrumental parts in general, especially the keyboards. Then we have The Collector, a more Death Metal track with an interesting duo of guitars and drums, with a very nice job done by session drummer Andols Herrick; Dissipate, which is another instrumental “bridge” song; and Metamorphosis, the longest and more progressive track of all, with awesome bass lines by Mohammed Gad and a continuous “tone” that gives the song a freaky sensation, reminding us of many songs by Tool.

BenevolentThe last two tracks in The Covenant keep up with all the progressiveness and obscurity of the previous tracks: Ascension begins with an eerie electronic intro before becoming a very progressive tune, while Rebirth is a very “melancholic” ending to the album, with a nice work done with the riffs in order to give the song (and the whole album) that “fade away” feeling commonly used in many movies.

In addition, the emblematic album art, which was professionally done by artist Edidong Udo, positively consummates the objective of Benevolent with their music. So why not give this complex band from the Middle-East a try, especially if you’re a huge fan of progressive heavy music? You can listen to all tracks and buy The Covenant HERE, and by doing so you’ll support those talented guys to keep the fire of heavy music alive in that part of the world.

Best moments of the album: Asphyxia, Illusion and Heathen.

Worst moments of the album: The Collector and Ascension.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Void 1:39
2. Asphyxia 9:41
3. The Seeker 7:02
4. Radiate 2:40
5. Illusion 8:40
6. Heathen 6:04
7. The Collector 4:29
8. Dissipate 2:15
9. Metamorphosis 9:47
10. Ascension 7:49
11. Rebirth 2:59

Band members
Fadi Sarieddine – vocals
Hadi Sarieddine – guitars, clean vocals
Mohammed Gad – guitars, bass
Andols Herrick* – drums

*Session drummer