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Album Reviews Beneath the Vault Reviews

Beneath the Vault #9: Dead or Alive, You’re Coming With Me!

Towards the back of the Vault, just past Reese’s cell, there’s a small staircase that leads to a hidden subterranean chamber where we keep the real underground shit. These are the obscure releases and rare finds that will get you points with the cool kids.

Welcome to Beneath the Vault, a column in which we take a brief look at the many review requests we get from bands that aren’t always fortunate enough to afford a promotional campaign or the backing of a big record label. Whether you like your music like you like your coffee or prefer listening to groovy tunes with headphones and some smoke, we’ve got you covered with these underground treasures. If you’re a band and would like a review or a spot in this column, click here to put in a request.

Butcher in the Fog - A Screaming Reflection - Indy Metal VaultButcher in the Fog
A Screaming Reflection
Released on May 22nd, 2018
Genre: Thrash Metal/Punk

I sat on this one a little too long, but better late than never. Right? I’ve always had a soft spot for thrash metal since that’s the genre that first got me into metal music. And while you can peg London’s Butcher in the Fog in the thrash genre, there’s a lot of other things going on with this one. For one thing, it’s got more of a punk edge to it than most thrash releases. Some of the slower songs are even more close to traditional doom music. I don’t want to get too caught up on genre, but it’s really strong album regardless of your preference. It’s also a memorable album, thanks to the extra melody provided by guitarist Yanni Georgiou that hands out ear worms a plenty. Highly recommended. (Bryan)

Awaiting Sacrifice - Uprise - Indy Metal VaultAwaiting Sacrifice
Released on September 11th, 2018
Genre: Death Metal

After a few setbacks and lineup changes, Indy’s Awaiting Sacrifice is back with a new lineup and a proper release. Their EP Uprise is a solid slab of death metal that they’re calling “nu-death metal,” but with a couple of twists and turns. While the vocals in the first track make them very akin to Slipknot – that and the fact that all band members wear masks too – the rest of the track’s vocal approach is different and more consistent with what you’d expect from a death metal release. All-in-all, this release is a worthy comeback for the group with tons of catchy riffs, tight production, and great performances. (Bryan)

Junkpile Jimmy - Wants You Dead - Indy Metal VaultJunkpile Jimmy
Wants You Dead
Released on September 10th, 2018
Genre: Slide Metal

Fuck! It doesn’t get much gnarlier than this. The excessive use of slide guitar makes this a pretty unique listen, along with the whole thing feeling like it could go off the rails at any point. It also contains a large sampling of genres including rockabilly, surf, death, stoner, and psych. It’s like their motivation when writing music for this one was to pick a genre and completely fuck it up. I’m not knocking it at all. In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite releases to come out this year. I could go on and try to describe their music, but the band does it so much better. From the review request – “this album is a penetration into an unexplored world of mutant, death-worshipping riffage, one in which the slide is implemented as a violent weapon of destruction.” I really dug this one a lot. Thank you Junkpile Jimmy! (Bryan)

Crystal Cage - Indy Metal VaultCrystal Cage
Crystal Cage
Released on April 2nd, 2018
Genre: Dark Wave

I know I’ve knocked synthwave before, but this album made me a do a double-take since it had a picture of Robocop on the cover. They’ve got a couple new singles that recently came out that you can check out on their Bandcamp. I of course picked to cover this one because…Robocop. And since our resident synth wave expert Nicholas passed it up, I figured why not. The music is very cinematic with lots of retro vibes, expected with this type of release, and the vocals are ethereal and sweet. Every song from Crystal Cage’s self-titled album also has an accompanying video full of old movie clips that you can find on their YouTube channel here. If I’ve piqued your interest at all, I highly recommend you watch the videos first. It give the songs more impact when put into visual context. Check it out! (Bryan)

Petrichor - No Silver Lining A Return to RainPetrichor
No Silver Lining: A Return to Rain
Released on May 25th, 2018
Genre: Doom Metal

This is, apparently, a rerecorded, rewritten, and generally revisited and revamped version of this UK doom metal band’s debut album Rain. It’s a bold and ambitious move that sees the band take four of their original songs and rework them, while also including a brand new track that has the same title and general theme of its namesake from their debut. Having not heard the original record I can’t comment on the changes, but I can say that the newer song has more progressive tendencies and a wider sonic palette when compared to the reworked songs, which are even more of the old-school doom style that this track also is. It also boasts some gorgeous female guest vocals. Overall, Gothic metal and traditional doom are obvious influences, as are the big Peaceville names of the 90s, but there’s enough character here to justify the band’s existence. I enjoyed this a lot. (Nigel)

Allelic - The Smoke of Atavistic FiresAllelic
The Smoke of Atavistic Fires
Released on October 12th, 2018
Genre: Black/Folk Metal

This Canadian one man project has produced an album that combines harsh blackened hatred with introspective, softer folk influences. Of course, these are usually entwined quite well, rather than appearing as separate entities in the songs, at least for most of the time. The black metal part of the music is atmospheric and melodic, while the folk aspects are enmeshed around this quite competently and naturally. This is well-written music, and the artist is to be commended on his successful merging of the two base styles in such a way that does them both justice. I’m usually not a huge fan of folk-infected black metal, but must admit that The Smoke of Atavistic Fires works really well. I heartily recommend this album and all of its characterful quirks. (Nigel)

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