Screams of Winter “Divine Chaos” Album Review + Stream…

SCREAMS OF WINTER

Divine Chaos – EP – Digital Download

Independent – Released – Sept 1, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Michael Scola/ Vocals
Maxwell Damske / Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Bass, Drum programming
Alex Damske / Lead Guitars

A Brief History:

Screams of Winter is a melodic death metal act hailing from Chicago, Illinois. Forming in 2004 as a middle school act, they disbanded in 2010 when they “failed to evolve musically”. (Reference their Facebook about page). Fast forward 7 years, Screams of Winter have reformed and re-recorded 5 tracks that “finally sound like what the band always wanted them to sound like”. I haven’t heard their 2006 release, which they describe as “far from listenable” but I have to say the 5 tracks schlepped up on Divine Chaos are what I want them to sound like as well.

 

 

Review:

First the cover, which I’m guessing is a depiction of Saint Peter. The gates behind the angel-like figure suggest he’s standing atop the stairway to heaven waiting to pass judgement on whoever seeks entry. He is the Devine. However, there’s also an element of space here. The planet, stars, and comets are the Chaos. Well thought out.

The album opens with ‘Mechanical Chaos’. The first minute and a half is mostly keyboard ambiance with some light percussion and the odd strum of the guitar. This is the kind of thing a band might have the Sound Man play at the start of a show to set the mood as the band enters. Sound Man or keyboardist, that is, if they had one which it appears they don’t though I believe I hear some here and there throughout the album. Guitars lead us into the tune and finally the vocals join the fray. The first thought I have is Screams of Winter sound like a cross between Children of Bodom and Arch Enemy. Michael Scola’s vocals remind me of Angela Gossow and whoever is taking the lead on the guitar shreds like Alexi, early Bodom. Upon reading their bio, I see they list In Flames as an influence and now I can hear it big time. To be clear, I’m talking early In Flames, not current In Flames. There is one low point to the song that I feel compelled to mention and that’s the clean vocals. They’re not bad; I just don’t think they fit the track. In this particular case, they remind me of Ray Alder of Fates Warning, specifically from A Pleasant Shade of Grey. While Alder is one of my favorites, unfortunately in my opinion, using them on this track takes away a bit more than it gives. And don’t get me wrong, ‘Mechanical Chaos’ is solid regardless.

‘Divine Tragedy’, track 2, opens with a super melodic riff and again I can hear that early In Flames. I love the harsh backing vocals here as they allow for a pace that couldn’t be done with a single screamer. Again though, they cut to the clean vocals which I’m not fond of. In this track, they do better suit the layout, as they come while ‘Divine Tragedy’ slows. I believe they’re inspired by God Forbid who uses clean vocals more frequently and who are also, coincidentally, listed as an influence on Screams of Winter’s “About” page. Despite my reservations, this might be my favorite on this EP.

‘Orwellian Overture’ begins with Rush-like keys which come and go throughout the track. Again with the clean vocals; but they’re growing on me. I love how they transition in and out of the melodic riffs on this track.

Scarlet Beast Promo

‘Rise of the Nephilim’ is the perfect tune for a live show. It’s got all the elements I’m looking for. It begins with a pace that’s sure to open a pit. It slows a bit after 30 seconds or so, allowing the guys who get gassed easily the opportunity to stand aside and breathe while the few psychos remaining can keep at it as the reduced pace still justifies some slamming. The backing vocals again suit the track (fry, not clean). ‘Rise of the Nephilim’ continue the tradition of sweet transitions as the guitars sustain, the drums take over for a few seconds before the soloing begins which gives way to a chant “Rise! – Rise! – Rise!”. Of course, in the live setting this is the time for crowd interaction and I have no doubt there’ll be any problems getting the fiends in the audience to chant along. Sure, the nuts in the pit will likely be gasping for breath, single fist raised to open the airways as they labor out a hoarse whisper.  Those who stand back banging their heads and fists will be sure to compensate. Once the chant ends the drums take off, a little back feed and back to the shredding… and moshing. Rise of the Nephilim maintains the pace until it closes.

Holy Lust closes out Divine Chaos with a nice slow melody that takes off unexpectedly. Again, smooth transitions bridge the gaps as the songs changes speed, from death to melodic and back again. I mention them every track as I feel transitions are key in separating the average Melodic Death Metal acts from the exceptional.

With so much going on in each track, it’s hard to notice that the earworms on Divine Chaos average almost 5 minutes each. Despite being just a 5 track EP, Divine Chaos clocks in at 29 minutes. Aside from being an amazing blend of Bodom, Arch Enemy and In Flames this album has one more feature extremely attractive feature and that’s the price. Digital download of Scream of Winter’s album (at the time of this writing) is listed on Bandcamp for $4USD. Are you kidding me? $4? I could create an endless list of trivial items people piss away more money on, sometimes on a daily basis. I’m not going to. All I’m going to say is there’s links below to 4 different ways you can buy it and Bandcamp is the cheapest.

Links:
https://www.facebook.com/screamsofwinter/

https://screamsofwinter.bandcamp.com/album/divine-chaos

https://play.google.com/…/a…/Screams_of_Winter_Divine_Chaos…

https://open.spotify.com/album/1Ei8nKuOBaKlqCpfpB40mB

https://itunes.apple.com/…/al…/divine-chaos-ep/id1278661776…


Helmer “Helmer” Album Review + Stream…

HELMER

Self Titled – Digital Download

Self Released: July 4, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Founded – December 31, 2013

Location – Chicago, Illinois

Genre – rock / thrash / acoustic / doom metal

Band Members:
S
tevil Helmer – guitars
Matt Westlake – guitars
Elvin Rodriguez – vocals
Dave Bizzigotti – bass
Gary Farano – drums
Tracy G. – guest guitar (“Bag Of Dimes”)

 

Previous Releases –  “A Million Pieces” single (2013) / “Ivory Tower (Acoustic) single (2015) / “Bag Of Dimes” single (2016)

Two years and three months in the making, this “S/T” album marks a landmark with it being the first full-length release from HELMER and is right on time to fill a void that has been growing wider in scope.  That being original music filled with power and managing to avoid falling into any of the trappings of heavier music while showing a mindset of singularity… to make ‘formula music’ obsolete and forge forward wielding ‘axes high’ in this 9-track, 38+ minute venture into the mind of guitar-master Stevil Helmer.

Pic Stevil Helmer

Each of these tracks is ‘tall-enough’ to stand on their own, much as ‘Bag Of Dimes’ and ‘Ivory Tower’ have done, originally released as singles, and together as a unit, the resulting compilation is simply…. KICK ASS!! From the dark fade in of ‘Electromagnetic’ to ‘Burn The Rain’, with a staggered tempo entry, it is clear there is no rest or compromise offered in the relentless pulling as the HELMER train keeps you moving along with no thought of anything but MORE…

‘Caveman’ has this chilling harmonic squealing that turns into the thickest chunky melody that keeps hitting hard and heavy as we “Shine, shine, shine, shine…”, while ‘Two Birds, One Stone’ hits your brain asking “If Misery loves company, than why am I alone?” and the body of the song is immediately rolling hard, grabbing you along.

‘Pure Madness’ is more of a doom/stoner track in it’s delivery, nice and even and filled with guitar textures galore to fill the most ardent guitar fan with happiness and when ‘Hey Hey My My’ hits, there is nothing to do but scream along with this absolutely genius update that even NEIL YOUNG would have to smile wide. On the version I purchased, the original version of ‘Ivory Tower’ is including in all it’s haunting acoustic glory that was how I heard it first and shows how much even one song can progress just by shifting gears. In MY opinion, the combination of both versions, acoustic first, followed immediately with the electrified would be the perfect set closer/encore in a live setting and would melt heads off.

Get YOUR copy of this immediately, share it out and shove it down the throats of the unwilling. Get out and see this music live if you are afforded the opportunity and keep it LOUD!!


Pink Frost “New Minds” Album Review + Stream…

Pink Frost

New Minds – Limited Vinyl // CD // DD

Under Road Records – Released June 16th, 2017

Reviewed By Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

Taste Nation LLC founder and owner Matthew Thomas is well aware of my penchant for shoegazing at this point in time and had recommended I check out this new Pink Frost album.  He described them as a shoegaze band that was going for a heavier sound on their latest album.  At this point in time, I should be well aware of his penchant for understatement.  This album sounds like the ungodly love child of Smashing Pumpkins and Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats, conceived at a Cure concert during the Disintegration eraThis certainly ain’t a bad thing – let’s recall that The Smashing Pumpkins were my favorite band in high school, and Disintegration is a top ten all-time album for me.  The heavier tracks are blown out with some seriously fat fuzz-tones straight from the Siamese Dream era, and they have the melodies to match.    However, the overall vibe is dark, evil, and ethereal, which may sound like an unlikely combination, but they somehow pull it off.  It’s like listening to the soundtrack from your most pleasant nightmares ever.

 

Band Pic

 

Pink Frost actually have a bit of a back catalog, even though this is my first time listening to them.  That’s a shame, as this is my kind of band.  I’m going to do a bit more exploring into their past efforts and see where they take me.  It makes total sense that these guys and gal are from Chicago, also the hometown of The Smashing Pumpkins.  They’ve got that classic 90’s Chicago sound, with just a dash more of a modern edge and slightly sinister overtones.  New Minds  is rather entrancing in its approach, how it balances these somewhat disparate elements.  The opening title track starts off noisy and upbeat, with an off-kilter riff punctuated by a punk-ish rhythm section assault.  ‘Bare Roots’ is my favorite track on the album, with its relentless groove, stoner-ish riffs and incredibly guitar melodies.  There’s a breakdown into a quieter middle section that is straight up Siamese Dreamy, like something the Pumpkins would have used on tracks like ‘Silverfuck’ and ‘Geek U.S.A.’  The biggest difference is that you’re not going to hear any of the over-the-top lead guitar pyrotechnics that Billy Corgan was able to pull off in his heyday.

New Minds isn’t all about being heavy, and Pink Frost certainly shift gears into shoegaze and dream pop territories on tracks like ‘Avian’ and ‘Headlights.’  Despite the cleaner, lusher soundscapes employed on the quiet tracks, there’s still an underlying emotional longing and a resonant, bittersweet darkness in the lyrics.  Take some of the “Avian” lyrics, for example – “I will take what’s given/And I will steal your air/I’ll take your breath away/And the name you once wore.”  The vocals are emphasized and enhanced by a delivery that’s one part whisper and one part sneer.  The guitar interplay is textured and nuanced, even when the fuzz is full throttle, and the rhythm section certainly holds things down.  Production wise, everything has its place in the mix, and it’s all very full and powerful.

This is a solid album from start to finish, and culminates in the haunting samples from a newscast about a large fire on final track, “We No Time.”  There’s not a clunker or weak track to be found on New Minds, it’s one long goth-fuzz mindfuck of a listen.  I’d be curious to catch these cats live, and I’m also quite curious about what their next album will sound like.  Personally, I’d like to encourage them to continue in the heavier vein, because what they’re doing is working in my eyes and ears.  New Minds is one of this year’s stronger albums, and it’s gotten quite a bit of repeat plays from me, which is always a good sign.

Lineup:
Adam Lukas: Guitar, Vox
Paige Sandlin: Guitar
Alex Shumard: Bass
Jesse Hozeny: Drums


Bionic Cavemen – “Reactor” Album Review & Stream…

Bionic Cavemen

Reactor – DD Release

Self Released – April 20th, 2017

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

 

Happy 420 day all!!  This is Terry the Ancient One and I would like to tell you about a real rockin’ band called Bionic Caveman and the album they released today on April 20th / 420 Reactor. I grew up listening to my daddy’s records and his collection had some amazing blues based rock bands like Joplin, Hendrix, Cream, and The Doors and listening to the Bionic Caveman album Reactor took me back to those days.

 

Live Band Pic

Reactor is filled with heavy blues rock that you both hear and feel. Meaning when you listen to the music you find yourself rockin’ to the beat and the riff and unable to sit still.   I liked this feeling so much I had to play the album twice and  intend to buy their debut album Predator.  You know this is an ambitious album with Bionic Cavemen’s J. Bernal’s wicked drum solo on ‘Black Diamond.’  Not many bands can/will effectively showcase their drummer with solos while just focusing on “The Riff.”   ‘Black Diamond’ also shows there is no weak link in this group!!  It has it all…

I loved this album from beginning to end. Some of my favorites from Reactor are ‘EOW’, ‘Lover’, ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Train.’  If you like blues based hard rock then Chicago based Bionic Caveman will trip your trigger.  Highly Recommend!

Bionic Cavemen are:

J. Bernal – Drums
L. Drennan – Bass
A. Morgen – Vocals
R. Morgen – Guitar


RIOT FEST 2017 Shares First Round Of Confirmed Acts Including QoTSA, Dead Cross, N.I.N., Wu-Tang Clan, GWAR, & More

The first round of confirmed artists has been revealed for this year’s Riot Fest 2017 which will take place in Douglas Park in Chicago, IL from September 15th-17th. Headlining acts this year include Nine Inch Nails (Friday), Queens Of The Stone Age (Saturday) and Jawbreaker (Sunday.) Here is who has joined the bill thus far:

Nine Inch Nails
Queens Of The Stone Age
Jawbreaker
New Order
Paramore
Prophets Of Rage
M.I.A.
Wu-Tang Clan
Mike D
(DJ set)
A Day To Remember
Gogol Bordello
Taking Back Sunday
Vic Mensa
Dirty Heads
TV On The Radio
Ministry
Dinosaur Jr.
New Found Glory
Fidlar
Bad Brains
Death From Above 1979
Action Bronson
Pennywise
Built To Spill
X
Peaches
The Lawrence Arms
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Orwells
Bayside
Say Anything
Mayday Parade
Streetlight Manifesto
Dead Cross
Minus The Bear
The Menzingers
Liars
Gwar
Buzzcocks
GBH
Real Friends
Hot Water Music
Shabazz Palaces
Andrew W.K.
Fishbone
The Story So Far
State Champs
Four Year Strong
Beach Slang
The Cribs
That Dog
Knuckle Puck
CHON
Slaves
The Hotelier
The Flatliners
Dessa
Saul Williams
Engine 88
Nothing More
Alice Bag
Tobacco
Sleep On It
Downtown Boys
The Smith Street Band
The Regrettes
Hdbeendope
Gazebos
Kitten Forever
Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue

An additional 25 artists will be revealed in the months to come. Tickets are available NOW via Ticketfly.