Saturday, 27 August 2011

Feature: Ten free albums not to be without.

Like anyone who likes metal, and always seeks to find some new listening material, I'm definitely one to jump at the chance of some free material. It's convenient, therefore, that there are some rather generous bands (and ex-bands) out there who give away their albums and EP's free of charge. I like doing something different from time to time, and instead of writing a review, I'd like to give you a rundown of what I'd consider the top-ten free albums/ep's that I have encountered over the course of being a metal fan. I can't deny that this would be equally aptly titled "my favourite free music" but if I didn't hold an opinion, my ability as a reviewer would be somewhat null and void. Anyways, the list begins...

#10: Dissolution - Plague of Violence

Dissolution are aggressive, New-Zealand thrash band with buzz saw songs which are heavily influenced by both death and black metal. Plague of Violence is their first full-length, and comes packed with brutal riffage, and noteworthy lead guitar of a style which you don't hear very often in metal, let alone thrash - very clean, fluid and refined, something like Chris Poland crossed with Alex Skolnick.  Dissolution are quite unique for a band hailing from a genre as old and established as thrash, and their fairly distinct take on the style certainly cements them in my top ten.

"Plague of Violence" is available on Bandcamp. Get your mosh on.

#9: Silent Lapse - Birthright

Silent Lapse are a band doing rather well for themselves - relatively large gigs, a shiny website, and an album which is both well produced and enjoyable. Progressive metal isn't usually my thing, but I found this album very distinct and enjoyable, managing to be sophisticated without being overly difficult to get into. The songs are memorable, and the album as a whole feels complete and solid, the signature of a band who know what they are doing, fully.

"Birthright" is available on the shiny website I mentioned 

 #8: Stormrider - Lucifer Rising:

Well blended and vicious blackened-death-metal from Sweden, Stormriders "Lucifer Rising" is their second and sadly last album. The more developed of stormriders two works, it manages to brutally combine the best elements of both it's forming genres into a maelstrom of aggression and heavy-metal-goodness which I can only describe as utterly worth a listen. I'd certainly recommend both it, and it's predecessor "First Battle Won" to anyone who likes it heavy as hell. Sadly, Stormrider's albums are no longer available, as the website is down, however, google is your friend, and the albums no-doubt exists somewhere.

 #7: Judd Madden - Waterfall

Judd Madden is a seemingly very gifted Australian one-man-band. "Waterfall" is his first album, an instrumental concept-album about the water cycle, which should be enough to get the album on most conceivable lists, as far as I'm concerned. beginning as serene, beautiful clean-guitar work, and escalating to stoneriffic-doom metal, followed by a twenty-five minute minimalistic, haunting ender, the album has a little something for everyone.

"Waterfall" delivers a refreshing mindfuck for free on bandcamp

 #6: Jute Gyte - Verstiegenheit

It's raw, fast, and heavily experimental. Jute Gyte, a black-metal/noise one-man-band creates a viciously fast black-metal assault, aided by fast, genuine musicianship, and impressive use of unconventional electronic elements which give it a level of sheer uniqueness unsurpassed by many of the bands which it shares a place on this list with. An underrated and unique gem, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes the heavier side of black metal.

Have your brains blown out by black-metal here

#5: Poisongod - Daemoncracy

Poisongod are an energetic young modern-thrash band hailing from Brazil, who produce a Lamb-of-God meets Megadeth style of chunky, catchy and generally 21st century thrash. Once again, the band sound quite original considering the sheer age of thrash as a genre. Vocally especially, the album is quite distinct, with a tortured, dry, and enhancement free shriek which adheres to the bands material like a brutal watermark. If you're open to modern, non-retro thrash, this might just be the album for you.

Poisongod's releases are available on their website

 #4: Cangaço - Positivo

Cangaço also come from Brazil, and produce an enjoyable, very memorable blend of death-metal with a traditional folk element. The songs are catchy, and also very unique. The Positivo EP is made up of five songs which each stand alone, but also compliment one-another in the album. While the band do not make use of traditional folk instruments as such, the folk sound in the songs is very noticeable, and immensely fun to listen to. Positivo is what I'd consider to be a perfectly formed EP.

Cangaco's Myspace has a link to their EP

#3: Petrychor - Effigies and Epitaphs

 Petrychor is, like several of the bands on the list, the project of one man. The projects debut album "Effigies and Epitaphs" seems to have rocketed to the status of being a minor cult-classic". Blending post rock, prodigious accoustic guitar playing, and harsh, but hauntingly synth-augmented black metal sections. All in all, the album seems to have just the right blend of everything, and it's rush to relative success is a definite testament to this fact. Petrychor play a brand of black/post-black metal which is unique and well formed.

Truly an album "Not to be without" 

#2: Razorwyre - Coming Out

I'd definitely consider "Coming Out" to be another contender for the title of "Perfectly formed EP". Razorwyre are a New-Zealand band, and they play top-of-the-range thrash metal with traditional metal influences, which creates five tracks of pure catchiness and attitude, in the style of albums like Metallica's "Kill 'Em All". The production has a nice  organic feel, and the songs are immediately catchy, from the first listen, making an EP which is a constant pleasure to listen to, pretty much regardless of situation. I would recommend an EP like this to literally anyone.

This Ep is well worth downloading from the bands website

#1: Akelei - De Zwaarte van het Doorstane

 One of the very first free-albums I listened to, I was blown away. Akelei, with this release, literally got me into doom metal. Each track creates a huge and blissful soundscape of emotion and utter beauty. The vocals (all in Dutch) are truly, gorgeously melodic and haunting, and each song is worth it's weight in feeling. This is one of my favourite albums, not just of free ones, but of all that I've heard. Anyone who likes epic-doom metal is likely to appreciate Akelei, and even if you haven't, it's nothing short of fantastic. It rightfully earns the #1 spot, and, while every album on the list is worthy of appreciation (and most of which I have reviewed in the past, with varying degrees of skill), this album truly stands out.

Thank you, and goodnight - I'm off to nurse my poor typing fingers. Sometime within the next few days I'll be back with another standard-review, I've got a few albums in mind...