The Haunting – Beyond These Doors

Though not quite veterans US hard rock/heavy metal band The Haunting has been around for just over a decade and is still relatively unknown outside of their homeland but with their latest album Beyond These Doors the chances of that changing are greatly raised. Displaying a straightforward blend of rock, metal and punk the Californian quartet have released an album that is simple pure rock ‘n’ roll without any complications or pretence. Uncluttered and direct Beyond These Doors just parties in the ear with heavy riffs and clean dark melodies that are as engaging as they are punchy.

Formed in 1999 by lead guitarist Randy Korstick and drummer Jessie “2 Feathers” Melendrez, The Haunting gained their current line-up the following year with the addition of vocalist/guitarist Raven Celata and bassist Mike Gjede. Two demos in 2000 and 2002 started gaining them attention alongside shows but it was not until 2009 that the band entered Dinky Music studio in Corona, California to work on and subsequently release their album No One’s Innocent. 2010 saw them spend the whole year writing and working on its follow-up Beyond These Doors to be released earlier this year with the singles from it ‘Crank Up the Amps’ and ‘The Loser in Me’ leading the way. 

The songs on Beyond These Doors are generally themed from horror movies and carry an attitude that challenges you not to like them but no one can win that test with the eager and addict forming tunes on offer. Musically the band is a hybrid of Misfits/Ramones punk metal, Alice Cooper classic rock, and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers rock ‘n’ roll. The clean simplicity of all those bands in league with ear catching instantaneous riffs and hooks that demand attention combining into an irresistible mix.

The first track ‘Crank Up the Amps’ opens on a definite Heartbreakers type sound, its open rock ‘n’ roll directness eager to have fun. As the track declares “We got a rock ‘n’ roll party tonight” that is what it delivers without any qualms. The early Misfits toned ‘Creation’ takes over with Celata’s slightly Danzig like vocals and striking guitars teasing and taunting with riffs and razor sharp solos.  The song, as is eventually revealed across all songs on the release, is never going to offer up the intricacies of progressive guitars and complicated rhythms from a Mastodon or the rampaging violence of a Brutal Truth but honest music that is just as definite to excite with its dark compulsive rock sounds.

Each song is an intriguing and appeasing slice but ‘The Loser in Me’ with a sound bringing strong flavours from UK 70’s punk, another Misfits spiced burst of catchy rock in the shape of ‘The Knife’, and the addictive ‘Two O’Clock In The Morning’ blessed with more rock ‘n’ roll harking back to Johnny Thunders and a touch of New York Dolls, stand out from what are ten thoroughly enjoyable and fun tracks.

Beyond These Doors to be honest has nothing particularly new about it but that is its big positive in many ways. It’s bringing in of obvious influences which every metal fan will find something to reminisce over, but used in the band’s own dark themed and joyful horror homage is an inviting and deeply satisfying result. The Haunting may still be a band that has still to enter your shadows but once it does their wicked rock ‘n’ roll grip will feed your heart for a long time to come.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Haunting/210527502303316?sk=info

RingMaster 15/12/2011

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VORE – Gravehammer

US death metal veterans VORE have returned with a muscular beast of an album in Gravehammer, a release that uses an arsenal of thunderous carnivorous riffs in league with soul tapping grooves and satanic borne melodic guitars. This combination ensures complete submission to its devilish intent and mesmeric deathly charms, Gravehammer an album that throws out its addictive grinds and hooks to lure, capture and manipulate eager senses completely.

Gravehammer is the fourth self financed release from the band and the long awaited and anticipated follow up to 2005 album Maleficus.  Through the previous album and Dead Kings Eyes (1997) and Lord of Storms (2001) before it VORE has gathered strong acclaim from media and fans alike. Now with the new album the band are set to ignite metal once more with a release that sees the band with even more formidable aggression and intensity. The Arkansas-based trio of guitarist and vocalist Page Townsley, bass and vocals Jeremy Partin, and drummer Remy Cameron have a deserved reputation for creating some of the most crushing doom soaked death metal to crawl into the ear since their beginning in 1994 but with Gravehammer they have lifted it up many levels and though the album maybe not be the most unique it is one of the more creatively and aurally addictive releases within the genre for a long time.

The album consists of nine pulsating doom laden marches upon the ear veined with challenging unrelenting riffs and melodically toned grooves that scythe their way to the heart whilst lighting up every sense with irresistible lures. The tracks fuse thrash and metal flavours into a death metal base to create soundscapes that are varied and inviting whilst still consuming with deep punished energy and incisive attention grabbing guitars fuelled by scorching melodic invention.  Opening track ‘The Cruelest Construct’ instantly demands attention with a heavy waspish grind over thumping chunky riffs. Intimidating vocals from the deepest pit bring forth the vengeance themed track, Townsley’s deep gutturals a natural companion to the hammering rhythms and unrelenting groove. 

Every track within Gravehammer is compulsive and satisfying, each a thrusting abundance of brutal yet captivating chugging riffs and mesmeric invention. From the sinister stalking ‘The Unseen Hand’ to the wicked fascination of ‘Sacerdotum Tyrannis’ and its aural manipulations, via ‘Doomwhore’ with its stunning hostile expanse and a resonating bass to lose control over and ‘The Claw Is The Law’, its intrusive tight caustic riffs lined with a Lovecraftian type horrific atmosphere, the album is a maelstrom of nasty but irresistible pleasures. The track lastly mentioned features Steve Allington (Apea), Mike Rodgers (Nailed To Eternity/Epitaph), Jason Lowery (Antarctichrist), and former band member John Volker in a group vocal chorus as forceful and threatening as the chugging riffs driving the song.

It may have felt a lifetime between albums but Gravehammer wonderfully shows the return of VORE was worth waiting for. The album might not be driving death metal in new directions or creating deeply unique new experiences but its parade of the blackest and most deeply rewarding slabs of slow punishing and welcomingly penetrating sounds is one of the most honest and satisfying releases heard these past months and there have been quite a few fine contenders.

http://www.vore.org/

RingMaster 15/12/2011

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