Numenorean: What’s in a name, eh?

CALGARY — “In Tolkien’s Middle Earth, The Black Númenóreans were a race of men who eventually died out because they let greed and power ultimately corrupt them. We have destroyed our earth for that very same reason. Our full-length will be based around those themes and on the collapsing human condition.”

Numenorean started as a two-man project by brothers Byron and Brandon Lemley in 2011. They’ve since grown to a quintet and are officially releasing their two-song demo in December, a self-titled affair released by Winnipeg’s Filth Regime Records. Written and played by Byron with all vocals by Brandon (save for a touch of help from Aiden Crossley on track one, “Let Me In”) the release is their first, a cathartic exercise in post-black metal that conveys a grand emotionality. Well-placed acoustic guitars and fast high-pitch electric guitars create a bipolar crux of deep crevices and high summits.

“Working on our first release I was dealing with depression and a longing for something I don’t think even exists,” explains Byron. “The music is written in a way that you feel the different stages of grief and sorrow throughout, be it calm, ethereal clean parts… then into a wall of aggressive melancholy, similar to the ups and downs one must go through after such a devastating change to their life. Both songs end in similar ways, a climatic change of tone and feel that takes you into not necessarily a happy place but a place where you have accepted who you are and what you’ve become.”

Given Calgary’s heavily saturated thrash and death metal scene, finding members to round out their line-up was a difficult task. After two years of passing around demos, they finally cemented one, featuring Roger LeBlanc on guitar, Steven Tillapaugh (Vaalt) on bass, and David Horrocks (Moradin) on drums.

A full-length album is in the works with all members contributing. For now, however, performing live takes precedent.

“[It] can be an exorcism or a baptism through fire, that’s the joy of putting yourself up in front of people, you invite them into your emotional landscape and they will either explore or experience what we have to offer or vandalize and spit on it,” says LeBlanc.

Inevitably, Numenorean’s “baptism through fire” and demo release show will be vulnerable and destructive; don’t miss it.

By Serena Navarro

See Numenorean at the Nite Owl on Friday, December 12th.

Thanks to Beatroute for publishing my article.

Want grit, heavy, opaque, twisting melodies with some beauty?! Usnea – Random Cosmic Violence

Relapse Records

Usnea, a Portland Oregon metal band, suggests on their Bandcamp that their second full length,Random Cosmic Violence is “one of those rare records that elevates itself above the boundaries that its genre typically self-imposes.” This is evident on Random Cosmic Violence as it takes a journey through funeral doom, black metal, sludge, death and doom genres. The album clocks in at just under an hour with only four songs. Justin Cory and Orion Landau crafted the album’s artwork, which is simple yet grand.

The rhythm and lyrics of the entire album are tribal in nature with twisting transfixed melodies and a rhyme similar to a beat poet. There are several highlights elevated by vocals drenched with grit, such as the opening of “Healing Through Death.” The title track does exactly what the title suggests. The lyrics are opaque and the sound is piercing and heavy. Usnea even adds acoustic guitar to the mix to calm the spirits before hurling down the cosmic highway with rolling drums. Usnea want to “explore the universe for the origin of how this all happened” and if you yearn for that journey, you should listen along.

By Serena Navarro

Thanks to Beatroute for providing the album to review.

Want some chaotic death/doom?! Swallowed – Lunarterial EP

Dark Descent Records

Lunarterial is a filth-encrusted, ethereal, and chaotic death/doom album from Finnish duo Swallowed. It has been four long years since Swallowed released their self-titled EP, and the reason why is obvious within the dense song construction. Lunarterial features rolling, deep, double-kick drums, keeping this album on pace while the guitars, numerous crash cymbals and guttural vocals paint a turbulent picture. The songs sway back and forth, swaying between a chaotic balance of slow rhythm and a pummeling erratic tempo.

It works, it’s weird and it’s a strangely beautiful and morose piece of art. Album highlight “Reverence Through Darkness” crafts another dimension of horror and disorientating sounds that swallow (pun intended) your soul and eardrums. Truly, the album inspires one to drift away into a soundscape filled with complex, melodic structures and blast beats. Meanwhile, your heart pumps madly. The second half of Lunarterial is a murky doom swamp ending with the lengthy “Libations.” Clocking in at 25 minutes, it’s a journey of calculated chaos that aptly concludes an excellent album.

By Serena Navarro

Thanks to Beatroute for providing the album to review.

Ogroem: Shit-stained goregrind

CALGARY — Ogroem would like to inform you “no one is safe.” Stop reading this article and continue down the secure and unfettered path if you don’t want to get literally shit on, because this Vancouver band is venturing across Western Canada on the ‘Getting Shitty in Every City’ tour.

“We like playing both genres of music [grind and death metal] and have some material that is straight death metal, some straight grind and others bastardized into multi-genre masterpieces,” explains the band of their musical inclinations.

Ogroem currently consists of Earl Clackston on vocals, Kretin McGormick on guitar and John Grindall on drums. Their former bassist, Taylor Lipton, was present for five months but he evidently “died from tea bagging… and the word on the street is they reanimated his corpse and he plays guitar in some band in town called Abriosis.” As such, they looking for the right candidate to eventually replace this zombified ex-bandmate, but “we can hold our own as a power trio.”

After being born in late 2012, the band’s debut EP PLACENTE.P. was released in October 2013. Alongside conjuring the usual suspects of Dying Fetus, Pig Destroyer and Napalm Death, the recording features sound bites that will most likely make you laugh, question life or maybe both. Similar to Crackwhore, a seriously controversial Vancouver goregrind band whom Clackston is filling in on vocals for (to which Vancouverites responded to so vehemently that it resulted in the cancellation of the Grindcore Pizza Party festival after the band was announced), this is music that pushes the boundaries of taste while bashing your skull in. Expect as much on the follow-up to their debut. Initial tracking is complete and they are just waiting to hear the mixes.

“We are searching for label support and hoping to have the full-length out this fall,” they elaborate.

For now, the focus is on the tour. Ogroem explain they “are all about playing punishing deathgrind, delivered with a live show that will melt your minds and hearts.” Although a “tour is a perpetual anxiety-filled adventure,” they aren’t complaining.

After all, it’s all about the wild parties, going insane from sleep deprivation and “making at least one person hate us everywhere we go.”

By Serena Navarro

See Ogroem with Kataplexis on September 4th at Broken City and on September 5th at the Blarney Stone in Red Deer. 

Thanks to Beatroute for publishing this article.

Ogroem ruined Christmas special.

First published article: Auroch’s Taman Shud stands alone.

VANCOUVER — Music can be twisted and warped; what once was in pure form is now cut a million times over. Yet Auroch continue to strive towards an uncooked perfection with their new album, Taman Shud. “We don’t believe in cheating,” Auroch’s guitarist and songwriter Sebastian Montesi says against cut and paste methods of modern recording. “We want it to be authentic and genuine…and really struggle to get it done.”

After releasing their first record, From Forgotten Worlds, in October 2012 on Hellthrasher Records, Auroch were readied for change. Profound Lore Records, a Canadian label and home of Dead Congregation, Agalloch, Leviathan, and Mitochondrion, was a first choice for the band. Together they released Taman Shud, Auroch’s second full-length album, on June 24th.

Montesi and bassist Shawn Hache were joined by drummer Zack Chandler in 2010 inspiring a major change in the band. “We started to be more focused and cohesive as a unit,” Montesi recalls. “And our sound shifted towards death metal…we started to write material that wasn’t just throw away demo material.”

“I don’t have any problems with having a label or classification,” Montesi tells me about Auroch’s genre or sound, “but I will leave that to other people to figure out.”

Taman Shud is a fast-paced, no-fat kind of record, understandable since Auroch wrote it in six months and recorded it in 10 days. “The element of struggle or suffering is stripped from it if you take the time to do it over and over again…there should be the raw passion in it,” Montesi explains of the recording process.

Art and music can be about discovering that creation on your own terms, defining your own experiences and finding them in the music. “There are themes and stories, allegories and mysteries in [Taman Shud] that are there to be solved,” Montesi explains. “We don’t want people to solve them. Whether someone solves it is up to them, but it’s not really something that we’re going to go and spend all this time masking, all this time making sure that everything is meticulously done, and all the lyrics are exactly as they should, all the formulas precise, and then reveal it in an interview.”

Exploring Taman Shud might lead you into calculated chaos of dark and violent technical metal. If you like searching out the horrific then this album is for you.

Auroch kick off a European tour/album release party at the Biltmore Cabaret on August 22nd.

By Serena Navarro

Thanks to Beatroute for publishing my first article.

Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Black Crown Initiate, Necronomicon at Rickshaw Theatre – July 4th 2014

VANCOUVER — Conquerors of the World Tour arrived at the Rickshaw lead by Septicflesh from Greece and Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italy. Black Crown Initiate, a progressive metal band from Reading, Pennsylvania, and Necronomicon, a blackened death metal band from Montreal started the night.

“Stench of the Iron Age,” a track from Black Crown Initiate’s first EP, was being played when I found my way to the stage. It began slowly with a beautiful guitar riff and clean vocals but surged into death growls and fast drums. This band knows how to create a balance and the crowd dug it.

Necronomicon brought the windmills, the noise and the makeup. The set consisted mostly of their new album, Rise of the Elder Ones, and a couple old songs as they have been active for over 25 years. Necronomicon had a clean, heavy sound with lots of double kick, which reminded me of Behemoth.

Fleshgod Apocalypse, a technical symphonic death metal band, began their set with soprano singer Veronica Bordaccini eerily walking onto the stage in a mask and a Victorian dress. They sounded grand and atmospheric which was extremely present in the song “Minotaur.” They ended their set with “The Forsaking,” with a piano driven melody and melodic drumbeat that infused the crowd and got heads swaying.

Suns, moons and skinless bodies adorned several white banners for Septicflesh’s arrival. This Greek symphonic death metal band played songs off their last three albums. Titan, their ninth studio album, has arrived faster and heavier than the ones that preceded it and the crowd wasn’t complaining as a circle pit arrived. The climax of the night came when “Persepolis” was played and the crowd arranged for a wall of death.

By Serena Navarro

Thanks to Beatroute for the opportunity to review this show.

I am really digging Black Crown Initiate

Powerchord Podcast-June 14th 2014

Powerchord Radio is rocking and silly as hell with Erik, Coleman and I!

Podcast

Playlist:

Kylesa – Insomnia for Months – Static Tensions
Mortillery – Despised in Blood – Origin of Extinction
Iron Storm – Take the Wheel – Wraithwind
Dark Forest – Winds and Waves – Aurora Borealis
Bloated Pig – Age of Slavery – Ways to an Early Grave
Bison BC – Finally Asleep – Lovelessness
Gatekrashor – Sign of the Gatekrashor – Gatekrashor
Ritual Dictates – Track 2 – demo 2
Fuck the Facts – Vent du Nord – Amer
Sepultura – Beneath The Remains – Beneath The Remains
Eyehategod – Medicine Noose – Eyehategod
Gruesome – Savage Land – demo
Skull Vultures – Reclaim – Skull Vultures
Kvelertak – Sultans of Satan – Kvelertak
Bongripper – Satan – Satan Worshipping Doom
Tombs – Thanatos – Savage Gold
Pallbearer – Gloomy Sunday – 2010 demo
Kyuss – Green Machine – Blues for the Red Sun
Immortal – Norden on Fire – All Shall Fall

Hosting Powerchord Radio for the first time – June 7th 2014 Podcast

I hosted Powerchord Radio for the first time (with help from my friend and fellow co-host, Coleman) on June 7th 2014 and I haven’t looked back since. It has been one hell of a ride. To pay tribute to the history of Heavy Metal I played Pentagram, Venom and Judas Priest as my first three tracks!

Podcast

Playlist:

Pentagram – Sinister – Relentless

Venom – Countess Bathory – Black Metal

Judas Priest – Painkiller – Painkiller

Exit Strategy – Overzealot – The Atrocity Machine

Mitochondrion – Plague Evockation – Parasignosis

Nylithia – Infector – Infector

Gorguts – Le Toit du Monde – Coloured Sands

Crowbar – Ageless Decay – Symmetry in Black

Eyehategod – Robitussin and Rejection – Eyehategod

Iron Maiden – Flight of the Icarus – Piece of Mind

Meshuggah – The Demons Name is Surveillance – Koloss

Pig Destroyer – The Diplomat – Book Burner

Electric Wiazrd – Funeralopolis – Dopethrone

Abnormality – Contaminating the Hive Mind – Contaminating the Hive Mind

The Devin Townsend Project – Kingdom – Epicloud

3 Inches of Blood – Leather Lord – Long Live Heavy Metal

Grand Magus – Self Deceiver – Iron Will

Asphyx –Vault of the Vailing Souls – Embrace the Death

Autopsy – Parasitic Eye – Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves

Mastodon – Shadows That Move – Call of the Mastodon

Metallica – Battery – Master of Puppets

Heavy Metal Helps!

Hello world.

This is a platform for all things. Seriously. Freedom of speech and art. It will be most likely that this spot will be dedicated to all things heavy and light. What am I getting at…well, that I do not want to be limited to the spectrum of the title, heavymetalhelps – but it really does.

Individuals and society benefit from Heavy Metal. I see it everyday and within myself. Music is close to my heart and specifically, Heavy Metal. I have always been drawn to the heavy rumbling drums, fast guitars, slow guitars, effects, growls and the epic vocals. Not to mention the real, oppressive, and sometimes antithesis themes that heavy metal values.

Why am I writing this you may ask and I ask myself the same question. Well, I have realized I need an outlet. Going to shows, listening to music and creating music is one thing, but to be able to contribute to the community of heavy metal is another entirely.

That is why this blog/website is here. It is an outlet – a fanzine – a publication. Whatever one might call it, it is a step forward in a direction that came so easily and natural.

Below is the first edition of the Heavy Metal Helps radio show from the CITR studios. Songs are paired with research and quotes from fans and musicians on how this music has helped them.

Playlist:

Sanctuary – Exitium-The Year the Sun Died

Ahna – War Games-Imperial Decline split /Cetascean

Obituary – Bloodsoaked-Inked in Blood

Skull Vultures – Reclaim-Skull Vultures

Usnea – Healing Through Death-Random Cosmic Violence

Numenorean – Let Me In-Demo 2014

Pallbearer – Gloomy Sunday-Demo 2010