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Album Reviews Beneath the Vault Reviews

Beneath the Vault #14: Sizzle Riffs and Thrash Browns

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.

The Promise of Plague - Tomb of Lost LoversThe Promise of Plague
Tomb of Lost Lovers
Released on March 15, 2019 
Genre: Black Metal

Well, it seems that The Promise of Plague have progressed on from their 2016 debut release quite considerably. This new one is a step up in terms of quality and professionalism in pretty much all respects. Very nice. If you’re unfamiliar with The Promise of Plague then this is the perfect place to start. The band plays black metal with industrial, Punk, Gothic, and melodic components. The vocals are mainly grim screams, but these are occasionally broken up by clean singing that has a Gothic touch to it. It’s well-written and has quite a few hooks. The catchiness of the music, and the overall style of it, (combining a few different sub-genres), reminds me of the late 90s/early 00s era, where bands were experimenting with different aspects of black metal and seeing how it all fit together for them. Tomb of Lost Lovers is very enjoyable, (and has a good cover of Venom’s ‘Warhead’ too). (Nigel)

Scarlet Dress - EndlessScarlet Dress
Released on February 28, 2019
Genre: Progressive/Technical Metalcore

This multinational duo creates metalcore that’s laced with ambient melodies, technical riffs, expansive atmosphere, electronic enhancements, non-awful djent, (it exists!), and, of course, heavy breakdowns. This is modern music created from the modern era. The musicianship is above reproach, and this obvious talent is channeled into tracks that are mostly not defined by technical ability alone. I like that the songs largely are just this; rather than going for over-the-top frills, they mainly embrace a song-based approach and offer up music that hits the spot due to its concise, focused nature. This is not to say that there’s not plenty of intricate technicality and layered delivery on display. There is, but this is usually subservient to the needs of the actual song itself. I confess I don’t normally get on too well with this sort of thing most of the time, (I find the majority of it is too plastic sounding and derivative), and although Endless is not breaking new ground or wildly innovative, (both overrated things), it does what it does better than most, and there’s real depth and feeling on offer here too, in places. I can’t help but really like this. Check it out. (Nigel)

Nil Desperandum - Dark TidesNil Desperandum
Dark Tides
Released on September 21, 2018
Genre: Hard Rock

Nil Desperandum’s music has a timeless, classic vibe to it. From the emotive piano to the driving rock riffs, to the backbone of solid drums, these are songs that are crafted from the very foundations of what rock music is all about. This is delivered in a musical and conceptual framework that allows Nil Desperandum to write music that makes the most of the best parts of this style, producing a collection of modern rock songs that really find the mark. Effortlessly personable and immediately friendly and charming, Dark Tides succeeds easily on first listen, and subsequent spins only cement this extremely positive impression. The band’s singer has an authentic, unguarded voice, which delivers feeling freely and effectively. Her voice has a very honest quality to it, and I very much like what she brings to the table. Although not perfect, Dark Tides is a very strong debut release, especially when you consider that the members of the band have never released anything else, (as far as I can tell). Raw, heartfelt rock music like this should be encouraged and supported. Give this a listen. (Nigel)

Anabasis - Of ConvictionAnabasis
Of Conviction
Released on January 25, 2019
Genre: Progressive Metal

Of Conviction convincingly, (ahem), blends aspects of older strains of progressive metal with its more modern incarnation, producing an enjoyable and compelling album. The end result is a collection of songs that are very much on the modern side in delivery, but that have learned lessons from the old guard. As such, even though you can hear some djent aspects here, they’re mostly smothered by the older influences that can be heard, all given a modern, sparkly sheen. Enhanced, in various places and in various ways, by synths, piano, choirs, acoustic guitars, extra percussion, and additional instruments, Of Conviction is textured, multifaceted, relatively diverse, and almost experimental in some regards. The vocals surprised me too, as not only do we get quality clean singing but also harsher, more aggressive shouts. This is a very strong debut release. Hopefully, the band will do well out of this album and get noticed, as there’s a wealth of promise and talent here. Ones to watch for sure. (Nigel)

Charonyx - The Ultimate Judas - Indy Metal VaultCharonyx
The Ultimate Judas
Released on April 5th, 2019
Genre: Progressive Thrash

Progressive thrash from Indiana? Yes, please! Indy-based Charonyx recently released their sophomore outing, and it’s a doozy. With a story influenced by religion and an episode of Dexter (seriously, read about it on their Bandcamp), and with more riffs than you can shake a stick at, it’s a solid release and a standout effort in our local scene. I like my thrash to be both technical and melodic and this meets both requirements with an added dose of heavy metal to sweeten it. Highlights include “Trapped Inside the Lie” and the sprawling instrumental track “Upon the Hours.”  Highly recommended! (Bryan)

326 Spiritual Dialysis
Released on March 26th, 2019
Genre: Doom Metal

I submitted this one to March’s Doom Chart, but unfortunately, it didn’t make the cut. But hey, that’s what this column is for – shedding light on the hidden underground gems you might have missed. And this one fits the bill in my humble opinion. Based out of Birmingham, Alabama Ember’s new EP is one of the best doom releases you’ll hear this year. This thing drips with an ominous atmosphere, and vocalist Crystal Bigelow effortlessly navigates around crushing riffs and plodding rhythms to give a standout performance. It’s releases like this one that prevents the genre from going completely stagnant. Give it a listen and then go buy it now! (Bryan)

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