Psy:Code “MØRKE” Album Review + Stream + 360degree Video…

Psy:Code

MØRKE – Vinyl // Digital Download

Independent – Released – July 29th, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Lineup:
Schou/ Vocals
SteiN / Guitar
JezpR / Guitar
Dag / Bass
Gøtsche / Drums

 

 

Review:
Psy:Code is a Danish modern hardcore / deathcore act who recently signed to Pavement Entertainment. Mørke is their 3rd independent release that’s created a stir of interest just before their recent signing. According to their website, it’s been a dream of Psy:Code’s to go to America and play their music and between signing with an American label and the scene’s current fascination with deathcore and grind core, the timing couldn’t be better for Psy:Code to realize their aspirations.

Starting with the cover, I’m not exactly sure what they’re going for with this one. The plant and the head and the skull… no clue. I was hoping translating the album title would shed some light on this. Ironically, Mørke is Danish for darkness. I guess that’s where I’m going to stay on this one for now. Maybe one of my readers can explain it to me? I love symbolism when I’m smart enough to get the reference.

Musically, this album starts with some slow guitars, slightly off-tune guitars for a few seconds before going hard and heavy. Schou growl-screams his way through the album Anselmo-style; though there are some periodical clean backing vocals for effect. How original that is? Well… I’d tend to say not very.

Where I think Psy:Code is going to garner most of their fans is from the technical guitar work from SteiN and/or JezpR. To be honest, there’s not much indication who’s playing the lead here so it could be one or the other or both. While the capitalization seems random the song structure tends to be more technical and progressive. This is an area where my expertise is extremely limited, though I can say that the guitar has six strings… except when it doesn’t.

Pro Band Pic

Interestingly, to write and compose Mørke, Psy:Code recluded themselves to a cabin in the Swedish wilderness. If the story in their Riven video is truth, the plan was to make some awesome metal. Instead, they got drunk. I can’t say how many times this has happened to me. Not the part about the Swedish cabin or the part about making awesome metal… just the getting drunk part. Perhaps you can relate? Anyway, what came out doesn’t appear to be the work of drunken fools so I assume they were just kidding. That or I need to start writing shit down when I have a few beers in me. I can hardly operate a pen sober… so maybe not?

Lyrically speaking, I’m not sure what they’re singing. I scoured the internet for lyrics but the best I could find was a lyric video for Riven. They seem to like this song, as this is 2nd video I could find for it. Riven seems to be about being scarred by a vicious former lover or perhaps an over-bearing parent. I’m a little confused but the recurring line “I can’t receive”. I don’t know how this ties into the rest of the words.

In conclusion, Psy:Code is a hard hitting band and  Mørke is a hard hitting album that’s going to appeal to those who enjoy a more technical sound. I believe some will criticize it for lacking variety, which might be a legitimate concern for those who like me who can’t follow the progression. In this case, I think you either get it or you don’t. Check them out and see what you think.

Additional Links:
http://www.psycode.info/

https://psycode.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/psycodedk/

https://www.youtube.com/user/PsycodeDK


Cranely Gardens “House of Decay” Album Review + Stream…

CRANELY GARDENS

House of Decay – CD // Digital Download

Independent – Released – Aug 11 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Chaz Macklin / Vocals
Randy Mac / Guitars
Joe Fedele / Guitars
Alex Niszczak / Bass
Victor Figueroa / Drums

Review:
Cranely Gardens are a metalcore/deathcore 5 piece from New Jersey who has shared the stage with several well-known acts such as Carnifex and Whitechapel. House of Decay is Cranely Gardens’ 2nd EP. With 7 tracks House of Decay is only 27 minutes long. However, even though it’s short, the band managed to find space for five guest musicians on the album.

 

 

This is something I’ve seen recently; a small band getting someone a bit more famous to guest on their album. Of course, the fans of the more famous person find out and then they have to hear what their metal hero has been working on, which results in them finding the new band. In turn, fans of Cranely Gardens might also go out and find out who some of these folks are and check out their work as well. Unfortunately, Cranely Gardens picked a few people with pretty generic names plus a couple fairly obscure musicians but did not reference their guest’s previous work in the promo package, nor anywhere I could find on the internet. So for everyone’s benefit, I did some digging and here’s my best guess as to who these folks are. Pardon me if I’m not correct.

Chad Ruhlig – Vocalist – For the Fallen Dreams & LGND

Dan Watson – Vocalist – I have to guess this is the Dan Watson (Ex Infant Annihilator) of Enterprise Earth, Faith in Convergence, and Mire Lore. It could also be Dan Watson, vocalist & bassist of Bunk Dope, Hyborian Rage, & Truculence. Both seem to fit the interests of the Cranely but I’d lean towards the former vs the latter. Fans of either Dan should check out the album and see which Dan it is. I honestly can’t tell you. Maybe you can tell me?

Sims Cashion – Who the fuck is Sims Cashion? I guess CG decided to share the wealth and put a lesser known musician on their album as well to help him gain some interest. So for all my digging I could only find one Sims Cashion. ANYWHERE. He seems to be a guitarist and does some videos on YouTube. He also sells guitar lesson packs on Bandcamp.

Will Ramos – Another obscure name. My best searching came up with a Will Ramos who describes himself as “Former guy who yells at Secrets Don’t Sleep.” Tough his former band only has 1500 FB followers; this Will Ramos is from Jersey so he seems to fit.

Josh Frazier – They really made me dig deep on this one. There’s a Josh Frazier in Beyond the Shore from Kentucky who have an album out on Metal Blade Records. I’m leaning towards this Josh. In 2015, Beyond the Shore were auditioning for a new vocalist. They chose Josh and put his audition for the band up on YouTube for your inspection. I think I can hear him on Rapture.

Sorry for the aside, but it was necessary to adequately describe House of Decay.

Band Logo

The album opens with “Muswell Hill” which seems to be a news report about Muswell Hill killer, Dennis Nilsen ending with about 8 seconds of guitar that leads directly into “History of a Drowning Boy”, a track heavy in core screaming which features the aforementioned Will Ramos. Lyrically, there’s little doubt this track is about Nilsen. Slow paced with a low rhythm, periodic high notes are sprinkled through the track which speeds up through the chorus. I’ll admit here that at this point I was hoping House of Decay would turn out to be a concept album. Unfortunately, this appears to be the last reference to Nilsen on the album. Regardless, though I doubt the decision was made for the laughs. Conversely, I find the use of guest musicians on the album mildly comedic. See, Nilsen was lonely so he lured people to his house and killed them so they would stay. Maybe Cranely Gardens was lonely? Someone please check that these 5 guys are OK! Nilsen killed 6 before he was discovered.

House of Decay continues with “Seven Faces” (featuring Chad Ruhlig) and “Savages” (featuring Dan Watson). Both are heavy tracks with relatively well-known names picking up the helper on the vocals. There’s something about Savages that just stands out for me. Regardless, both tracks adequately display Cranely Gardens’ influences, which they list as “deathcore, metalcore, the new wave of American heavy metal, black, death, thrash and nu-metal” on their Facebook page.

“Rapture”, I think, is where they get the most out of any of their guests. I like the way the vocals come together in a manner that could not be done with one person. Sure, this makes Rapture more difficult to play live, since Frazier will rarely be there with them. However, for the album it’s a great piece.

House of Decay is closed out by “Carry the Earth” and “The Challenger”. These appear to have no guest musicians but there’s no indication that I can find about which track(s) the one, the only, Sims Cashion contributes on. Maybe he’s on one of these two, no clue. “The Challenger” has a doomish feel to it without losing the core. It’s kind of an interesting clash of styles worth hearing. Lyrically, this piece matches both so I suspect a lot of thought was put into this one.

Band Pic

In closing, House of Decay is a hard and heavy blend of several different genres with a mix of lyrical themes. To someone casually stopping by, House of Decay might seem to lack variety from track to track. In this respect, I feel this piece is something that requires more time and attention in order to appreciate. In 2017, finding fans with the time and mental & concentration abilities to appreciate this style could turn out to be Cranely Gardens’ biggest challenge. Even I, an avid reviewer of music guiltily lumped a few tracks together for expedience.  If you’re up for the challenge, dig in and find all the subtleties I missed or didn’t list.


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…


New EP Review – Scars Divide “Sons of Terminator”

Scars Divide

Sons Of Terminators – Vinyl / DD

Domino Media Group 

 

Yes, in 2017 Metalcore, that bastard offspring of metal and hardcore, is still alive and kicking.  It’s a genre that’s had a tough time staying relevant, given the primitive nature of the sound, and there are only so many good breakdowns that a band can write.  For a metalcore band to make its mark in 2017, they’ve got to take some chances and add something to a formulaic style that’s often times stagnant.  This brings us to the Swiss band Scars Divide’s latest two song EP, Sons Of Terminators. The first track “Sons Of Terminators (Parts I and II)”, is a nearly ten minute, two part Metalcore odyssey of snarled vocals and grimy guitars that eventually gives way to a more symphonic section, cleaner singing, and a cool breakdown with a repetitive, syncopated rhythm.  It’s pretty ambitious, and is exactly the kind of approach that’s needed to stand out in a genre that’s often lacking in innovation.

 

Live Band Shot

 

The second song, “Venom Of Leviathan” is a shorter, more primitive affair, though it too has its moments thanks to some rather technical guitar work and some thoughtful melodic arrangements, keeping with that band’s more progressive tendencies.   I’ll readily admit that Metalcore is not my favored form of heavy music, though there are some records new and old that I certainly appreciate for their ingenuity.  This is the second EP that Scars Divide have released, following up a self titled EP in 2014.  If they’re able to sustain this kind of creativity for a full length, they may just make their mark and breath fresh life into a genre that’s in dire need of a makeover.

Thank you to Aurélien Dubois-Pham with Domino Media Group for the Promo.

Link:

Words by Andy “Dandy Candy” Beresky