Excommunicated – Skeleton Key

Thought provoking albums are always intriguing especially when they incite ideas and feelings indirectly as is the case with the new album from Louisiana death metalers Excommunicated. Their latest release Skeleton Key is a ‘concept’ work on the medieval Catholic Church, a dark treatise touching the evils of corruption, abuse, and intimidating dark shadows from the time, as it plays though it also inspires unsettling thoughts and comparisons about the modern day church and religion in general, bringing doubts and questions in the mind of the now it shows the admirable and impressive songwriting skills of Excommunicated.

Skeleton Key not only throws striking and powerful lyrics at the ear but also some of the best crushing soul scarring death metal heard lately though to narrow the description of the band’s sound is wrong, the songs within the album come flavoured with varied influences to take it apart from the expected genre sound. There is intelligent use of power and melodic sounds all delivered with equal intensity and thoughtful placing, neither the aggressive or more progressive mellower sounds detracting or distracting from the other.

As mentioned Skeleton Key is a concept work which actually had its origins before the formation of Excommunicated in 2010. The lyrical concept for the album had been outlined earlier by vocalist Chad Kelly for his previous band Catholicon but not realised because of their demise in 2009. Kelly joined with guitarists Jason McIntyre, a founding member of Suture, and Jonathan Joubert one of the founders of Despondency to create Excommunicated, their varied styles and influences bringing a distinct diversity to the sound and creative process that is clear on the album and suits the lyrical content perfectly.

Skeleton Key begins with the instrumental ‘The Abandonment of Hope’ a stunning flow of harmonies tinged with an edge but giving no clue to the assault to lay waste in the next track ‘The Incorruptibles’. Grumbling attitude powered drums and incisive cutting guitars frame a strong varied vocal surge from Kelly in what is the most straight death metal delivered track on the album, direct with darkened riffs it is a strong start.

McIntyre and Joubert split the music writing duties equally on the album each bringing their own distinct and unique flavouring. As the album progresses it is very clear which of the fine guitarists wrote the music for each song and though the difference is marked the band blend the different styled attacks and constructed songs perfectly into the album with flawless ease making Skeleton Key an extremely pleasing and fresh release. The McIntyre created songs such as ‘Minutes of the Corpse Trials’ and ‘When Death Claims Its Most Righteous Dead’ intrude directly with an intensity that breaks down the way ahead for Kelly’s vocals and lyrics to invade the ear whereas Joubert written songs such as ‘Cry to Heaven ‘ and ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ take a more engaging approach. His music is as powerful and forceful but comes with caressing exploring guitars that seduce the ear rather than simply forcing entry as with McIntyre tracks. The combination is impressive and very satisfying and Skeleton Key a full and varied release.

Skeleton Key released via Underworld Records also features the special appearances of David Kinkade (Borknagar,Malevolent Creation, Arsis) who gives an excellent drum attack unleashing vibrant rhythms on the whole album, Vincent Crowley (Acheron, Wolfen Society) who added vocals to ‘The Birth of Tragedy’, and Andy LaRocque (King Diamond, X-World 5).

Skeleton Key is a definite investigation for all liking intrusive intense metal spiced with creative melodies and sounds. Excommunicated are certainly one of the most creative and intriguing bands and deserves more than a moment of your time.

RingMaster 20/08/2011

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

Photobucket

The best and easiest way to get your music on iTunes, Amazon and lots more. Click below for details.

Atriarch – Forever The End

With an oppressive and consuming mass of dark heavy rhythms and a nightmarish entanglement of black melodies and sounds, Portland blackened death rock metalers Atriarch with their debut album Forever The End out August 23rd via Seventh Rule Recordings do more than just bring sounds to  fill the ear. With their approx 37 minute long four track release the band induces reaction to its sounds, inspiring thoughts and feelings from and about its dark soul searching world.   

  Forever The End bleeds feelings of grief, death, black despair and bleak hollow lives which for many will be an echo of their worlds, some will find it in some way consoling whilst others an unsettling reminder. That is the power of Atriarch, their songwriting, and the resulting album. Forever The End should not be mistaken for a thoroughly depressive release but certainly it does not engage and play within the brightest of lights preferring to share its sentiment and thoughts cloaked in thick black shadows. Despite the heaviness of emotion that permeates within the release the tracks on Forever The End do not physically assault the senses, instead they stealthily invade and share their intensive sadness and despair on the back of intelligent gothic flavoured shadowed melodies and hooks.  

The songs within Forever The End are strongly varied and carry many apparent but undefined flavours and influences that hint rather than state, though as one listens it is not hard to have thoughts of bands that the music suggests such as Burzum, Swans, Christian Death, early Cure, Wire, and Bauhaus. An eclectic variety of sources though none are a predominate taste with Atriarch’s music and one would probably find each listener would come up with their own individual selection of names they hear.

As stated the tracks are nicely diverse within the songwriting and sound but it must be said that under the over whelming dark blanket of emotional clouds they can at times pass by without notice unless a focused concentration is applied, but then again that is part of the pleasure of repeat listens, finding more elements deep within a song or piece of music. The tracks ‘Plague’ with its absorbing droning black grind over slow collapsing rhythms and ‘Shadows’ with some wonderful haunting melodic breakdowns mid track under its imposing smothering dark, are fine examples, given more indepth  attention and one finds very rewarding creativity within them.

As said there is a pleasing gothic touch and blackness to parts of the album especially in ‘Fracture’ and the throaty bass fuelled closer ‘Downfall’. It recalls more the gothic bands of the eighties like the aforementioned Bauhaus plus the likes of Sisters Of Mercy and in some ways Joy Division rather than any modern versions but placed in the unique attack of Atriarch the flavour is just an elegant finery draped over their own imposing creation of sounds.

   Forever The End is a strong expressive and very satisfying album and impending concentrated attention and respect will be a definite from many quarters for its crawling slow tempos and dark atmosphere. The cloak of  similarity that does covers one track to another making it at times  not easy to realise a track had become the next song unless one listens with focused intent does not prevent the release from being one of the freshest and striking albums release so far this year. The album is very strong and brought with great quality and creativity making it a definite add to anyone’s to checkout list for all seeking and enjoying the darker expressive areas of music.

RingMaster 20/08/2011

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

Photobucket

The best and easiest way to get your music on iTunes, Amazon and lots more. Click below for details.