Reviews

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August 30, 2019

Bram Cools - We Are Civilised!?

The Belgian lo-fi Christian scene himself, Bram Cools, is back with a fourth album. More quirky weirdness accompanied by lyrics that tackle a wide range of social topics. I don’t know how familiar IVM readers are with this Belgian artist, but Bram makes eccentric lo-fi indie pop/rock with socially-conscious lyrics from a European viewpoint. He has over a dozen albums under his belt and Civilised is his latest full length. It stays within the lo-fi umbrella, yet true to that genre, touches on a variety of styles including indie rock, electronica, spoken word, trip-hop, etc.… Continued →

August 28, 2019

Svarteskerm - Illojala Till Slutet

  The fan base of crust punk may be slim, but the music is significant. Returning to the studio is Sweden’s Svarteskerm. Sung entirely in Swedish, the four song EP, Illojala Till Slutet, delivers a blistering fast and aggressive look at the political and social turmoil found in their native country. But each of the song topics transcend borders. These are concerns that hit home for all of us. “Diognetus” reminds us that it’s too easy to have national pride take away our sensibilities by failing to recognize that all the countries of this earth are our home.… Continued →

August 21, 2019

TIMŌRĀTUS/Symphony of Heaven/Bismoth - Body of Christ: 3-Way split

SPOILER ALERT: This is a fantastic release! 3 different bands playing 3 different styles (sub-sub-subgenres) of black metal. Each band contributes 2 songs, and while it would be logical to assume that 6 songs equals an EP, this album clocks in at 37 minutes, so I’m gonna call that a full-length. First up are TIMŌRĀTUS (from Louisville, KY), who continue to surprise and amaze me! Every album they do is in a different style, and amazingly they somehow manage to do them all well.… Continued →

August 10, 2019

Josh Garrels - Chrysaline

Josh Garrels - Chrysaline

Josh Garrels has been making a name for himself for quite some time now, even as far back as 2011’s Love & War & the Sea in Between. Despite your opinion on his music, it’s certainly evident he consistently aims big and doesn’t take shortcuts. His catalog consists largely of long-form albums with layers and layers of instrumentation, harmony, and production nuance. Nonetheless, it’s also not unreasonable to find his music perhaps a bit too sleepy.… Continued →

July 27, 2019

Skillet - Victorious

I got my first taste of Skillet in the early 2000’s just after I came to know the Lord. I was drawn to their raw, gritty, heavy sound because, musically, I heard some similarities to Marilyn Manson, a band I’d been a tremendous fan of in my B.C. days. As the years went by, as is to be expected, the band’s sound changed a bit, mellowing here and there, adding string sections, adding electronic sounds (or at least making them a bit more prominent), having a much more produced sound, songs that are more radio friendly…the list goes on.… Continued →

July 25, 2019

Wolves at the Gate - Eclipse

Coming off of their undeniably best album to date, Wolves at the Gate is back with their fourth release. Eclipse begins with “The Cure,” which was the first single released for the album. Already, lyrics are beaming from the album. “I can taste the misery, spitting out the remedy. All I’ve been through, all that I’ve seen, these eyes, this heart still can’t dispel the lies.” The opening song serves as what to expect for the rest of the album in respect to the lyrical tone.… Continued →

July 24, 2019

United Harvest Workers Union - United Harvest Workers Union

Although this was released around Easter of 2019, I only recently stumbled across this gem while perusing the Zap Records page on bandcamp. As it turns out, its history is even deeper than, having been recorded and self-released in 2010. Hailing from Pittsburgh, the band has roots in the punk scene in that area, but UHWU is a completely different animal. The union was formed to create “authentic church music . . . devoid of hype.”… Continued →

July 22, 2019

A.Duff - One Life

A-Duff is no Calvin Harris; and coming from me, that’s quite a compliment. Well, at least my perception of Calvin Harris – I’ve never really given him a fair listen. In any case, there’s enough cheese-ball EDM in the world to go around. Some of A-Duff’s material could be on the radio (e.g. “God is Real”), but he clearly values creativity. Opening track “Don’t Stop Believing” kicks things off with an optimistic mood and some groovy brass, while “Block Rocking Flammable” reminds me of playing SSX 3 on PS2.… Continued →

July 20, 2019

June 15, 2019

Leem of Earth - Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3

Atmospheric, floating, literary and lush. Leem of Earth has completed their trilogy with the June 7th release of Chapter 3,  the third EP in their belletristic series: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. In all three efforts, the band from Pensacola, Florida, creates a fragile wall of sound that hearkens between the fuzz and soundscapes of 90s 4AD shoegaze bands and the ethereal charm of Mazzy Star, The Sundays, Cocteau Twins and The Innocence Mission.

June 2, 2019

MrENC - On and On and On

Right off the bat, it’s loud and energetic.  This is melodic, yet noisy indie rock, reminiscent of the classic 90s Britpop with hints of 70s glam (think the rock riffs of Suede meet the swagger of The Divine Comedy).  But don’t be fooled, this isn’t simply nostalgic stuff, stuck in the past.  There is a real energy and drive to this music that captures one’s attention right off the bat. For those who don’t know, MrENC is Eric Collins’ nom-de-rock (formerly of Denison Marrs). … Continued →

May 17, 2019

Chris Bernstorf - It's All Joy

Chris Bernstorf is the poetic equivalent to a bowl of jelly beans. Well, unless you study those jelly bean guides, but that’s beside the point. Opening track “Swing” lives up to its name, offering a dizzying array of topics from water parks, to The Mentalist, to online classes, all pointing to the theme of overcoming personal vices. That probably sounds random – which it is – but that’s precisely what works for It’s All Joy: the negative “without rhyme or reason” is turned into a positive.… Continued →

May 12, 2019

April 24, 2019

Cruentis - Alpha and Omega

This 5-song EP contains 3 songs of melodic death metal (tracks 2-4) sandwiched in between 2 longer, unusual songs that genre-wise feature a hybrid of nu metal, doom metal and some classical instrumentation. Stylistically, the middle 3 tracks are similar to bands like Pantokrator, World to Ashes and similar melodeath bands (or In Flames and At the Gates from a mainstream perspective), but there is not a huge emphasis on the lead guitar. These are the strongest tracks with the most cohesive sound.… Continued →

April 22, 2019

April 19, 2019

Starflyer 59 - Young in My Head

Starflyer 59 are back. But, what does even mean when they never went away? Christian indie rock’s most prolific band have just released their 15th full-length album (not counting their 9 EPs, 4 live releases, 3 box sets/collections, numerous vinyl singles and LP variants or compilation appearances—I didn’t even mention the side projects: Pony Express, Bon Voyage, Dance House Children, The Brothers Martin, White Lighter, Neon Horse and Lo-Tom) making them probably the second most prolific band in all of indie rock (second only to Guided by Voices, who are at something like 100 releases).… Continued →

April 6, 2019

April 5, 2019

April 1, 2019

Death Therapy - "Voices"

Death Therapy appeared on the scene for many with their debut album, “The Storm Before the Calm”, in early 2017. An album that just dripped of a mix of industrial and metal, it was met with a positive response from both fans and critics alike. It elicited such a positive response in fact, that even at the time, it was hard to ignore that it set a pretty high bar for whatever might come next. Fast forward to March 2019, just a little over two years later, and we’re about to find out how the new album, “Voices”, one of the more anticipated releases of 2019, stacks up.… Continued →

Flactorophia - Redemption of the Flesh

Grindcore. You either love it or think it’s not music and wonder why it ever existed. There’s not a lot of in-between. It’s possibly the most extreme form of music that exists (it’s either that or some form of harsh noise). Flactorophia hail from Ecuador, have been around for quite a while. In fact, Redemption of the Flesh was originally released in 2006. The band released this one album and a few split releases, before its sole member, Jose Barragan tragically died in a fire at a local gig, along with several other members of other bands.… Continued →

March 26, 2019

Relent - Heart Attack

Sometime last year, Brandon was kind enough to introduce me to a band named Relent. At the time, the band only had a 2 song ep available called “Embers”, but it was more than enough to pique my interest. What we have in these guys is a what I’m going to call a new nu metal sound. Normally, when I’m putting together a review, I like to make comparisons to other bands to help give an idea of what to expect sound-wise, but here that’s a little difficult.… Continued →

March 25, 2019

Demon Hunter - Peace

So, it’s been a couple weeks since Zac reviewed Demon Hunter’s “War” album. If you haven’t yet given it a read, you can find it HERE. Go check it out, I’ll wait. Caught up? Good. Now that we’re all on the same page, it’s my turn. Let’s talk about the other album the band released on the same date (yes, a double release), “Peace”. When it came down to reviewing one of the new Demon Hunter albums, I’m not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed to find I’d be reviewing “Peace” rather than “War”.… Continued →

March 24, 2019

Their Throats Are Open Tombs - Of Psalms & Snakes

  When a band includes members carrying the names, Agent 57, Colonel K, Donnie Murdo, Isambard Sinclair, and Penfold, you know their music is destined to be far from ordinary. Their Throats are Open Tombs have returned with a follow-up to their 2016 self-titled debut. Defining OF PSALMS & SNAKES is an impossibility. It’s grindcore, it’s electro, it’s punk, it’s noise, and it’s undeniably fast and chaotic. And it’s brilliant. The album gives the struggles and the triumphs encountered while living a life of faith.… Continued →

March 10, 2019

Good Saint Nathanael - Hide No Truth

If you’re reading this review, chances are you’re aware of Nate Allen. Released a ton of folk-punk albums with wife Tessa as Destroy Nate Allen. DNA was energetic, fun, and although there was always a message, it was generally focused outward (“Jesus, Keep us Safe from the Cops” and “Boobie Bar” come to mind). Good Saint Nathaniel is Nate’s latest project, a solo outing, in which he turns inward to personal reflection and resolution. And the results are surprisingly good.… Continued →

March 9, 2019

Heath McNease - Be Clean Again

Be Clean Again feels like a Sunday. The weather is somber, you’re feeling introspective, and everything just seems rather slow. Very little of Heath McNease’s latest effort (save for “Believe”) could be deemed upbeat from a musical or lyrical standpoint. This album is 54 minutes of slow hip-hop meets folk, never lacking in sincerity or seriousness. While McNease is most proficient at handling this task – being the guitar playing and singing, yet thought provoking rapper, that he is – Be Clean Again made my eyes (and heart) feel a shade heavy.… Continued →

March 8, 2019

March 4, 2019

Demon Hunter - War

There’s really no need for any introduction to these giants. However over the years, Demon Hunter’s sound has slowly transformed from that signature “DH” sound to a cleaner vocal driven sound. With mixed responses, Ryan Clark has continued to showcase his pipes with an impressive vocal range and control. So here we are not even two years after Outlive with two brand new albums from the band. The two are musically separated into two categories. War handles the heavier side of Demon Hunter, while Peace handles the softer side.… Continued →

February 13, 2019

Stephen Mark Sarro - The Spirit Shrill

Most readers will know Stephen best as the founder/frontman for alternative metal acts Tantrum of the Muse and Unteachers. Where Tantrum and Unteachers ‘taught’ us how to rock out, solo Sarro efforts want to make us uncomfortable. Spirit Shrill is his second solo album, continuing to explore experimental and noise fields. This album is one 55-minute-long track, although there are distinct movements within the piece. Samples abound, and whereas SMS’s last solo album critiqued our culture’s fascination with sex, Spirit Shrill is an unapologetic critique of the Charismatic movement.… Continued →

January 31, 2019

The Drowned God - I'll Always Be the Same

I’ll Always Be the Same is a tiring listen. For an album that focuses on negative thoughts and emotions, the lyrics really accentuate the music. Human psychology is paradoxical in the sense that even when emotions and thoughts seem to repeat themselves, they can never actually be the same qualitatively, since they occur at different points in time. The music of The Drowned God is an effigy of consciousness, for the song structures are entirely unpredictable, even when there is repetition at either the lyrical or musical level.… Continued →