Thursday, June 12, 2014

Metal Round-Up: Carbon Black, Khmer, Hooded Menace

Self-released a few months back, Principium sees Rob Giles and Damon Bishop jump ship from Nekrofeist to a form new band, Carbon Black. Staying true to their roots, the music is largely unchanged from the two members' previous endeavors, save for a melodic edge reminiscent of heavier radio rock, which is excellent for attracting new listeners and elevating Carbon Black to heights unknown by Nekrofeist.

Principium's single, "Fade Away," is not only catchy--it's the best representation of Carbon Black's sound, a smattering of chugged guitars coupled with vocal melodies that, strangely enough, grow more appealing with successive listening. To be sure, though, this kind of music isn't for everyone. In fact, a sense of melody placed over Pantera-esque riffing is a real turnoff. But you know what? One can't help but root for the underdogs and hope they surpass Nekrofeist in every way possible.

Hailing from Madrid, Spain, Khmer's newest release, Khmer & After Forever, hits hard with a mixture of black metal and crust--no doubt a popular combination these days, albeit one tough to pull off with any kind of finesse. As expected, most tracks clock in at about three minutes or less, but Khmer takes the opportunity to experiment and let their imaginations run wild, with the last song clocking in at an eye-watering six minutes. 

Very nice surprise, indeed.

Musically, Khmer & After Forever strikes just as brief track lengths suggest: blistering and dirty, refusing to slow down for listeners unable to keep up. In the end, that's all it takes to make the Spanish four-piece's music outstanding, too (among many other things, of course)--merciless aggression that takes no prisoners.

Head over to Khmer's Bandcamp page to grab the album free of charge.

Not unlike previous Hooded Menace efforts, Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze is downright eerie sounding, unsettling, and filled with ominous atmosphere perfect for a frigid fall night. The two-track EP is also the first to showcase the band's new line-up--featuring Markus Makkonen on bass and Teemu Hannonen on guitars--and proves that an open wound can be mended quite easily--Hooded Menace is still Hooded Menace, even with a slightly altered foundation.

Of course, the material here falls short of the Finnish group's wonderful sophomore full-length, Never Cross the Dead, but the spirit is very much the same and a worthy addition to their discography. Come time for another full-length release, expect not to be disappointed, because Hooded Menace is wonderfully consistent, as Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze proves yet again.



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