Album Review – Elegiac / Pagan Storm (2018)

Forging the New Wave of American Black Metal, behold this talented one-man army from Portland, Oregon and his brand new melodic, aggressive and bestial full-length opus.

Forging the New Wave of USBM (or American Black Metal), Portland, Oregon-based one-man army Elegiac is into this creative and productive overwhelming attitude that all the most influential bands of the 90’s were in at their very beginning, dwelling with the most typical references of the early Scandinavian heritage influenced by the more pragmatic synthesis of the USBM roughness in the project’s brand new opus entitled Pagan Storm. Since its inception in 2014 in San Diego, California by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zane Young (from several underground acts such as Airengrav, Blitzgeist, Gormanudr, Lord Impotent and Tideless), Elegiac has released three EP’s and four full-length albums, as well as a demo and several split albums, but it’s with Pagan Storm, which features a classy and epic cover art by Joe McEvoy, that this Black Metal beast has reached its most melodic, aggressive and flammable shape and form.

Zane wastes no time and quickly darkens our minds with his sluggish Doom Metal-inspired beats and demonic gnarls in the opening track titled Rituals of War, evolving into a dissonant and Mephistophelian feast of Black Metal without a single empty space in its over eight minutes of obscurity. Then we have Allegiance and Honor, more brutal and piercing than its predecessor, presenting darkly poetic lyrics (“Calling to the gods of my blood / Deep within my memory / Return my mind to the patterns of old / And teach me the wisdom now tossed away / By the desert god of Abraham / A true plague of the mind and flesh / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / Molded for their every will…”) and leaning towards contemporary Melodic Black Metal, with Zane’s roars reaching a truly infernal level throughout the entire song; and dark clouds of Black and Doom Metal spread upon humanity in the 10-minute aria Somber Morning, where Zane delivers the most Stygian guitar lines and delicate but vile beats of the whole album in a demonic display of extreme music that will haunt the souls of the lighthearted. And strident guitar lines kick off the also blackened extravaganza named Through Ancient Eyes, where Zane keeps growling like a demonic entity while pounding his drums in a damned and somber manner. Put differently, if you love the rawest and most sulfurous form of underground Black and Doom Metal, this song is just perfect for you.

A lot more vibrant and electrified than its predecessors,  Purity of Winter brings forward a rumbling and dense sonority for our avid ears, or in other words, a lesson in visceral Black Metal with both guitar and bass lines sounding as crude as they can be, resulting in an enfolding fusion of melancholy, crushing sounds and tones, and the desolation of the winter. In Golden Fires of Victory we face the menacing, obscure gnarls by Zane accompanied by his blast beats and demented guitars, sending a sound message to the unbelievers that the gates of hell are open and darkness is upon us, feeling vile and crushing from start to finish; whereas in the title-track Pagan Storm the talented Zane takes his fury to a whole new level, growling and screaming in the most bestial way while unleashing demonic but at the same time very harmonious riffs from his guitar, once again adding a considerable dosage of modern-day Melodic Black Metal to his raw core sonority. And last but not least, how about 10 minutes of melodic and dynamic Black Metal to darken your metal heart even more? That’s what Zane offers in the closing tune Ancient Spirit, a fantastic “waltz of the damned” where his anguished lamentations add an extra layer of melancholy to the musicality, while his flammable riffs keep invading our ears until the music fades into pitch black darkness.

The somber and eccentric world of extreme music crafted by Zane and his Elegiac can be better explored by visiting the project’s official Facebook page, and of course if you have what it takes to dive deep into the crypts of Hades together with Zane you can purchase Pagan Storm from the ATMF’s BandCamp page or webstore. Hence, after listening to this potent and hellish opus by Elegiac, I bet USBM, our beloved American Black Metal, will be one of your favorite genres whenever straightforward and devilish extreme music is needed in your everyday life, with Pagan Storm becoming your personal reference in the underworld of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Purity of Winter, Pagan Storm and Ancient Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 De Tenebrarum Principio

Track listing
1. Rituals of War 8:17
2. Allegiance and Honor 5:07
3. Somber Morning 10:20
4. Through Ancient Eyes 7:33
5. Purity of Winter 7:03
6. Golden Fires of Victory 6:49
7. Pagan Storm 7:16
8. Ancient Spirit 9:41

Band members
Zane Young – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Monolith / Against The Wall Of Forever (2015)

A remarkable album of pure heavy music that will take you on a journey back to the glorious early days of Heavy Metal.

Rating3

cover1400x1400There are bands that are born to play more progressive or introspective music, with thoughtful lyrics that will make you reconsider some aspects of your life. Other groups focus on a more theatrical side of business, relying heavily on their outfits, makeup, corpse-painting and/or stage production to differentiate themselves in the market. And there are American Heavy Metal saviors Monolith, which had only one thing in mind while crafting their superb brand new full-length album Against The Wall Of Forever: 100% pure Heavy Metal.

Founded in 2013 by guitarist Doug Walker (The Hookers, Nixon), with current and former members of MF Ruckus, The Embalmers and Zombie Cartel and having already played with names like The Dwarves, Sepultura and Electric Wizard, Monolith do not want to start any revolution in heavy music. What those talented guys from San Diego, California really want to offer us all headbangers is honest and electrifying heavy music inspired by their idols from the mid-70’s/early-80’s era of Heavy Metal, such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica, and they simply nailed it with their new album, a serious contender for top metal album of 2015.

Against The Wall Of Forever is a huge kick in your face right from the start with the spectacular old school Thrash/Heavy Metal anthem The Emperor (The Suffering Of Fools), especially due to the excellent vocals by Aaron Howell and the exciting guitar duo comprised of Doug Walker and Jared Bliss. Their traditional riffs and solos remind me a lot of some Iron Maiden classics from the 80’s, and I don’t need to say how positive that is. Following that metal music havoc we have the title-track, Against The Wall Of Forever, which showcases more influences from the NWOBHM such as its thrilling galloping rhythm thanks to the great job done by drummer Ben Pincock and bassist David Ortuno.

The next track, Caravan, comes with a very simple question: are you ready for some intense circle pits? It’s amazing how they managed to create such polished music without losing that rawness needed in classic Heavy Metal, and you’ll feel pumped for screaming the name of the song together with Aaron during its chorus. Furthermore, none of the guitar solos sound out of place in this song (nor in the entire album). And can we call the dark ballad Kindly Dr. Jest (The Interrogator) as “Blues Metal”? Well, call it the way you prefer, as long as you acknowledge the incredible job Aaron does by impersonating the character of “Dr. Jest”, which based on my online research is an alchemist and chief interrogator of Melnibone who is a connoisseur of torture, and his life’s work is to elevate the infliction of pain in to an art form. It can’t get any better than this!

Monolith PicDie With Your Master, another of the top moments of the entire album, is a terrific tribute to the good old times of Metallica, inspired by masterpieces like “Whiplash”, “Metal Militia” and so on: it’s as raw and fast as it can be, and more than perfect for some furious mosh pits with your friends. Then a more progressive vein arises in The Prophet, with lots of breaks and variations nicely inserted amidst all the sonic madness.

The heavy music celebration  goes on with another very solid track named The All-Father And The Chaos Lords, which focus heavily on its headbanging riffs blended with the screams by Aaron. If you’re a fan of frantic metal music, the last part of this song is tailored for you. And last but not least, sounding even more Iron Maiden-ish than ever (apparently inspired by the all-time classic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or any other track from the flawless album Powerslave), Monolith offer us the excellent Elusive Prey (The Hunter), where Doug and Jared are kicking some serious ass on the guitars with their awesome riffs and solos.

Even the album art, by illustrator Matthew Haas, transpires Heavy Metal and perfectly represents how impactful the music by Monolith is. So go like them on Facebook, visit their YouTube channel, listen to their music on their SoundCloud page, and order your copy of Against The Wall Of Forever at the official Funeral Noise Records webstore (they have some cool bundles available). Although we’re already in 2015, Monolith will take you on a journey back in time, more specifically to the early 80’s when heavy music was beyond glorious and mighty.

Best moments of the album: The Emperor (The Suffering Of Fools), Kindly Dr. Jest (The Interrogator) and Die With Your Master.

Worst moments of the album: Honestly, it’s really hard to find something bad or uninspired in the whole album. Maybe The All-Father And The Chaos Lords?

Released in 2015 Funeral Noise Records

Track listing
1. The Emperor (The Suffering Of Fools) 5:02
2. Against The Wall Of Forever 3:34
3. Caravan 3:11
4. Kindly Dr. Jest (The Interrogator) 4:27
5. Die With Your Master 3:22
6. The Prophet 4:21
7. The All-Father And The Chaos Lords 3:54
8. Elusive Prey (The Hunter) 3:41

Band members
Aaron Howell – vocals
Doug Walker – guitar
Jared Bliss – guitar
David “Gordo” Ortuno – bass
Ben Pincock – drums