MINIREVIEW: Æpoch - Awakening Inception (Self-Released)

Throwing just about everything in the way of metal at you, aside from simplicity, Ontario based prog-metal band Æpoch seems to have the overall aim of annihilating your cranium. Think Gigan (and God I love Gigan) times about a thousand with a heavy dose of... everything. Seriously, there is no other band I've heard as of late that throws this much into an album and keeps it cohesive enough to be considered music.

This album is a Death Metal smorgasbord, but there is an overall psychedelic feel to Awakening Inception... eventually. Sure, the opening tracks are obsessed with kicking your face through the nearest wall, but when things calm down,  Æpoch can be a somewhat thoughtful affair. You'll get a spoonful of really well thought out bass solos, classic rock-esque solos (so many solos), even some alt-rock type stuff too. Surprisingly, even blackened elements make their way onto this album. Tracks like 'Delirium of Negation' and 'The Expiration' serve to shatter your expectations amidst a sea of the unexpected. Its baffling, almost indescribable. Then again, I just described it.

If you find a dull moment on Awakening Inception, then you have just listened to way too much metal. Seriously, how are you alive? Brains, no doubt, melted on the floor. At least it happened while you were listening to something good - like Æpoch.


LIVE REVIEW: Decibel Magazine Tour 2018 - @ The Rickshaw Theatre

First of all, my sincerest apologies go out to Decibel Magazine, Enslaved and Wolves in the Throne Room. Regrettably, due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to attend this performance in its entirety. However, I was so incredibly impressed (and at times moved) by what I did manage to see that I have decided to offer up my thoughts regardless. I hope you don’t mind me taking a few moments to share my unforgettable experience, such as it is.
 We arrived at Vancouver’s legendary Rickshaw Theatre in time to witness Denver, Colorado’s doom bringers Khemmis absolutely killing it. Since I first learned that I would be reviewing this show, I was very excited at the opportunity to finally see these guys live. In my opinion, Khemmis stands at the forefront of their chosen genre and did not fail to deliver on their unique brand of harmonized metal. The sound was second to none and the dual guitar work of Phil Pendergast and Ben Hutcherson cut through with little effort. Focusing mainly on tracks off their third release, “Hunted” the set was executed with poise and precision.

Hailing from Denmark, the ethereal Myrkur took the stage next. A brilliant backdrop emblazoned with the band’s logo was raised as spectral lighting brought it to screaming life. What a great visual-simple yet effective. The band specializes in a distinctive, blackened sound that provides a powerful foundation for Amalie Bruun’s lofty vocals. Her immense voice brought back memories of seeing Rose Chronicles play at the now defunct Town Pump back in the late nineties. Especially in her higher register, Bruun’s tones literally bounced off the walls and resonated in a way so striking everyone stopped in silence. “People in the back, are you relaxed? I hope those seats are comfortable”, the Danish artist mused as she broke out a handmade frame drum and began an Old Norse traditional song. Paired with her drummers’ evocative, pounding backbeat, the tune came across strong and proud-a fitting end to an evocative set.

Before Wolves in the Throne Room took their places on a very well primed stage, a pre set makeshift smudge ceremony was held. Having already adorned the stage with mystical set pieces, the crew vacated the area to allow one of WITTR’s lead guitarists to cleanse the vicinity. And what an atmosphere it created! Densely spiritual and steeped in mystery (not unlike WITTR’s music), the audience was left captivated and intrigued. Outside of Pagan ritual, I’ve never seen white sage used in such a mesmerizing manner. Stage presence is definitely a strong suit with Wolves in the Throne Room. As band members took their cues from front man Nathan Weaver, the opening acoustic strains of “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” rang out. Wow. Once the song’s blackened leads began, an enormous pit broke out and sent me flying! I hadn’t been knocked off kilter like that in years and it felt amazing! Note for painstaking note was played to perfection and I was left utterly speechless. Easily my favorite track off of “Thrice Woven”, I couldn’t ask for a better gift.

All in all, this was an extremely memorable show and each artist presented themselves with poise and professionalism. If you are lucky enough find tickets to the last leg of the Decibel Tour in your city, my advice is to jump on it. You’ll be hard pressed to find a show this good for some time. Failing that, try to find headlining dates with any of the featured artists and without doubt purchase their music and gear. You will not be disappointed.


REVIEW: Vaginal Mutilation - Self-Titled EP (Old Lion Recordings)

There comes a time when your average metal head makes the bold decision to take a break from all their Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and so forth. It's all great stuff, no doubt, but the genre is so vast and diverse that you can't just lean back on the classics. So, why not dig deep and find the most messed up stuff possible? If you've got a hankering for what-the-fuckery then maybe Vaginal Mutilation is for you. Er... the band that is, not the act.

You could go so far as to say that maybe Vaginal Mutilation borders on Grindcore/Slam, because of it's decent pace and extreme content. However, I'd prefer to keep it somewhere on the skirts of Death Metal - especially since the guttural vocals remind me so heavily of the early 2000s. There was a time when this style was everywhere, though it was brief. Sadly, on the flip side, you also can't hope to even understand what's being said. Maybe I'm a little sick in the head, but it would have been nice to have some clue what was being said on these tracks. I understand a good majority of screaming and harsh vocals, no problem, but this is all pig squeals - which is great, if that is what you're into, but it totally kills all chance of vocal definition. Atop that, Vaginal Mutilation is also a Indonesian band. Therefore, a person has to take into account accents and level of understand... IF the vocals are even in English. Man, I really wanted to hear why 'Free Sexs is Not Answer'. Some mysteries, I suppose, will never be solved.

Musically, aside from the squeals and whatnot, Vaginal Mutilation provides a pretty solid gamut of compositions. This EP's silver lining is most definitely the music itself. Here you get some good riffs, and decent variety. The band really knows how to change things up enough, track to track, to keep you invested. I'm not going to say it's anything to write home about, you aren't getting some far-out stuff, but it gets the job done and adds some character to the whole thing.

No matter if you like this sort of metal or not, Vaginal Mutilation is just a band that has taken every step to draw the curious and extreme in with a collection of hideously named songs - most of which relate to sexual atrocities of some sort. I mean, the band does have a point in doing this - citing sexual abuse, atrocities, and foolishness as the reason behind it all. Though naming a band 'Vaginal Mutilation' and having tracks such as 'Butcher of Anal Canal' doesn't really incite a sense of seriousness. As for brutality? Well, most definitely.