Category Archives: EPs

My Dark Self: Alive in an Ocean of Grief

Released in February by GS Productions, Ocean of Grief’s Fortress of My Dark Self bears little resemblance to the records reviewed over the past few weeks by MetalAteMyBaby.com.  In fact, it was Phil from Ocean of Grief that first reached out to MAMB.com to see if the site’s production schedule would allow the publication of a review grading the February 2016 release of Fortress of My Dark Self.

MetalAteMyBaby.com’s production schedule was flexible, but this is not the reason why MAMB.com opted to review the aforementioned EP. oceans Rather, Jason and Ben–the founding authors of MetalAteMyBaby.com–enjoy hearing from bands just starting out in the industry, and were thus more than happy to review the Greek band’s melodic-doom effort.  Indeed, any aspiring metal band is welcome to contact the site’s administrators to request the review of the band’s latest–perhaps even debut–metal release.

The six-member outfit hailing from Athens was formed in late 2014.  Striving to mix melodic metal with doom, Ocean of Grief counts Saturnus and Slumber as primary influences.  Utilizing twin guitars, bass, drums, and a keyboard, Ocean of Grief aims to forge a unique, musically diverse sound to distinguish the band from the buzzing French and Italian death metal scenes.  These influences, coupled with the band’s musical ambitions, produced the February 2016 EP Fortress of My Dark Self.

With five tracks comprising nearly 27 minutes, the record’s first take-notice moment comes roughly 45 seconds into the EP’s second track, “House of Misery,” when the slow and deliberate malevolence of the track is overshadowed by a suitably melodic guitar passage.  Moreover, the song’s haunting lyrics match the pace and tone of the music:

Returning to my home
Where walls choke me
I open the main door
Rooms blur my mind

The living room
Hosts now a nothing
And it feeds my sickness
Albums with pictures
Stand there dusty
Reminding me the beautiful past

“Futile Regrets,” meanwhile, sounds at times like a midtempo melodic death metal track, with a plodding tempo yet inherent rhythm reminiscent of early Finnish dark metal denizens.  In fact, “Futile Regrets” features a third stanza that reads:

In the wrecks of your soul
A fire smolders
It starts to blaze
And whispers in your ear

There is an abundance of melancholy, even an acceptance of fate, speaking through the music recorded for the band’s 2016 EP Fortress of My Dark Self.  The instruments are played deliberately; in other words, instead of coaxing impressive chord structures and scale patterns from their instruments, guitarists Filippos and Dimitra remain understated in their composition, preferring to allow distortion and hauntingly slow melodies to drive the musical narrative of Ocean of Grief’s music.

Its occasional melodic passages notwithstanding, the music featured on Fortress of My Dark Self varies dramatically from the styles of extreme metal typically analyzed by MetalAteMyBaby.com.  That said, there is unquestionably a time and place for solidly-executed doom metal, and many readers of MAMB.com may find the review of such music a refreshing departure from insanely technical, violent death metal bands.  Wherever you fit within this equation, ultimately know that Fortress of My Dark Self is worth owning for those that enjoy basking in the malevolence of sinister doom metal.

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Available on Limited Edition Digipack: http://gsp-music.com/oceanofgrief/gsp111
Bandcamp: https://oceanofgrief.bandcamp.com/rel…
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oceanofgriefgr/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-296192326…

To download the entire album, plus bonus artwork, visit:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bv932oki2y2lryg/AAAYsbJQRNmUoJSoA2n5qPZJa?dl=0

As always, make an effort to support the band financially through the purchase of Ocean of Grief’s music and merchandise, and stay tuned for the Grecian outfit’s tour plans in America.

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After Conquering Oblivion, Washington’s Devils of Loudun Prepare to Endure Creation

After injecting a massive infusion of new and unrelentingly aggressive life into the symphonic melodic death metal scene with their 2015 EP Entering Oblivion, Pacific Northwest virtuosos The Devils of Loudun have slated for April release what promises to be one of this year’s most critically-acclaimed metal albums.  Featuring the same jaw-dropping technical precision as their 2015 release, Enduring Creation builds upon the impeccable musicianship of Entering Oblivion by adding layers of hauntingly atmospheric depth and a darker, more aggressive undertone to the lead and bass guitars that drive the album.  Additionally, the punishing rhythm section and eerie keyboard contributions ultimately serve to leave the listener virtually breathless by album’s end.

MetalAteMyBaby.com was honored to receive a digital copy of Enduring Creation prior to its release thanks to the generosity of the band, enduring-creationand, as a result, each track from the new EP has been individually reviewed below.  Note that, at the conclusion of the following review, a link to preorder the album has been provided.  Bands as talented and humble as The Devils of Loudun deserve your support, and the EP is priced extraordinarily reasonably, making it affordable for every fan of quality melodic death metal.

“Cast the Stone”

The de facto single from the Enduring Creation EP is supported by an innovative music video filmed during six different live performances across the state of Washington in late 2015.  The video is particularly notable for the point-of-view perspective of each of the band’s six members.  (While it appears that an octopus is manning the drum kit, rest assured that the arms you see belong to Billy, the band’s drummer.)

“Cast the Stone” pulsates with a Slaughter of the Soul­-era At the Gates vibe and mid-song solo with a scale pattern invocative of early Black Dahlia Murder malevolence.  The talents of LJ, the Devils’ bassist, are on full, glorious display, and the song’s video captures his intensity while delivering note after thunderous note.  As a whole, “Cast the Stone” serves as a near-perfect introduction to the up-tempo evil that follows in each of the EP’s subsequent tracks.

“Thrown to the Void”

Vying for the title of the most musically diverse track from Enduring Creation, “Thrown to the Void” is definitively atmospheric and symphonic, thanks to keyboardist Ben’s incredible compositional skills. The general feel of the track—and, in particular, the guitar work of the song—is reminiscent in many ways the well-known Gothenburg sound.  And yet, more than halfway into “Thrown to the Void,” The Devils of Loudun interject a brief breakdown of sorts, though it most certainly reigns superior to the generic and repetitive down-tempo, open-chord tedium so prevalent within the metalcore and deathcore scenes.  Indeed, this breakdown is accompanied by a haunting keyboard score, as well as swirling guitars contributed by Scott and Drew.  And finally, the track is brought to an unsettling close by Ben’s electronic piano passage.

“Beyond the Sanctum”

Beginning with an acoustic, almost Victorian-era passage that grows in intensity with each note, “Beyond the Sanctum” soon transforms into a thundering explosion of melancholy, juxtaposed with a series of perfectly melodic guitar leads.  Following an anticipation-building, relatively minimalist break shortly before the two-minute mark, “Beyond the Sanctum” gallops off into its primary melody, driven by perfectly-executed double-bass kicks and grotesque guitar tones.  Lead vocalist Vance’s guttural growls during the verse portions of the song add further anguish to the track, while his raspy highs perfectly compliment each chorus with further elements of despair.  Meanwhile, Ben’s electronic piano interludes set the stage for Drew to shine with lead guitar mastery, complimented perfectly by Scott’s echoing notes.  The result is a darkly melodic, winding journey through a metaphorical forest of evil foreboding.

“Until the Night Ends”

“Until the Night Ends” churns underway with a dual-guitar harmonic riff with an inherently epic, almost progressive sound; immediately thereafter, Drew’s leads drive an aggressive primary melody with elements of thrash that ultimately fashion a devilishly hateful sound—particularly considering the rage inherent in Vance’s vocals.  This primary melody is accentuated by an extended lead performed flawlessly by Drew, one that utilizes both intricate technique and a natural progression back to the principal chord structure of the song.  For a song barely eclipsing four minutes, “Until the Night Ends” incorporates virtually every element of top-quality symphonic melodic death metal, making it perhaps the standard-bearer of the band’s 2016 EP release.

“Outcast of Existence”

The nearly eight-minute finale to Enduring Creation begins with a drum-powered symphonic introduction worthy of Robert E. Howard, after which the now-signature guitar tones of The Devils of Loudun power forward in the mix before Vance begins a gruesome storytelling backed flawlessly by Ben’s keyboard mastery and the twin rhythmic backbone contributed by LJ and Billy.  The bulk of the song, however, is propelled by Drew’s Petrucci-meets-Poe guitar mastery, with Ben’s haunting piano providing an undeniably epic coda of sorts for the EP as a whole.

Album Summary:

MetalAteMyBaby.com has never used a rating system (for example: four out of five stars) when reviewing metal albums.  Simply put, quantifying the tremendous talents of today’s metal artists would both be incredibly difficult and would risk diminishing the efforts of such bands.  Moving forward, it is possible that this blog will utilize a rating scale for evaluating specific elements of the album being reviewed, such as the vocals, production, lyrics, guitar work, and so forth.

For now, the brilliance of Enduring Creation by The Devils of Loudun will be conveyed using the ancient yet unparalleled precision of the English language.  The rise of digital technology has led to an unprecedented proliferation in the number of metal bands releasing new music, and while it is difficult to consider this explosion in new metal acts anything other than overwhelmingly positive, the fact remains that a significant portion of the bands found across YouTube are, well, mediocre.  This, in particular, pertains to genres such as slam, a style of music severely restricted by the expectations of the genre’s fans (such as extreme lyrical content, heavily down-tuned guitars, and an overabundance of often pedestrian breakdowns).  There also exists the issue of copycat bands attempting to emulate influential bands such as In Flames or (sigh) Rings of Saturn, while contributing nothing particularly new or different to their metal genre of choice.

The Devils of Loudun rise above this chaotic fray due to the sheer quality of their musical art.  The band’s fearless blend of symphonic, black, and melodic death metal styles produces a wholly unique and thoroughly enjoyable sound.  Lead vocalist Vance’s alternating highs and lows—and occasional guttural pig squeals—serve to alter the mood of the music backing him, with his shrieks conveying despair and his lows expressing limitless rage.  Lead guitarist Drew, meanwhile, has quickly established himself as an emerging force among six-string shredders, and his counterpart Scott contributes ear-pleasing harmonies and an effectively aggressive rhythm section.

While often overshadowed within death metal bands, the bass guitarist’s driving, thumping notes truly serve to drive the outright aggression of any legitimate band’s music as a whole.  LJ’s role in The Devils of Loudun is no different—and, as evidenced by the video for “Cast the Stone”—he has the chops to match his colleagues on the six-string.  And his partner on the drum kit, Billy, plays with a tirelessly fury without which an album like Enduring Creation simply could not sustain the aggression it does.  Billy’s machine-gun double-bass kicks, bruising snare blasts, and overall command of the kit are perhaps the most underappreciated element of his band’s music.

That is, except for the contributions of Ben, the keyboardist for The Devils of Loudun.  The melancholic atmosphere of Enduring Creation, the epic symphonic backdrop behind the straight-ahead fury of each of the EP’s tracks—these are contributions that simply cannot be understated.  The Devils of Loudun would still be a melodic death metal band to watch—and a damn good one at that—without these symphonic and electronic piano elements, but with them, the band’s music is elevated to another level entirely.

In addition to congratulating The Devils of Loudun on releasing one of 2016’s mandatory metal album purchases, MAMB.com would also like to recognize the band’s incredibly friendly and generous approach toward its fans.  Sadly, so many musicians become consumed with their own perceived greatness that interacting with fans seems to them an insufferable chore.  The Devils of Loudun, however, respond to fan inquiries promptly and always come across as genuinely grateful to hear from those that enjoy their music.  After MAMB.com published its review of the band’s first EP and informed the group that the post was online, the band responded within two hours thanking the blog for covering the EP and stated that the review would be shared on The Devils of Loudun Facebook page.

Then, nearly two months later, MetalAteMyBaby.com was contacted by guitarist Scott once again thanking the blog for its review of the band’s first EP—and, incredibly, providing a download link and code to access Enduring Creation free of charge more than three weeks prior to its official release.  This, of course, is how MAMB.com has been able to review the new album prior to its April release date—but, more importantly, perfectly demonstrates the type of people Scott, Ben, and the rest of the band truly are.

Lastly, stay tuned for MAMB.com’s exclusive interview with the Devils of Loudun, a conversation that covers everything from the writing process and the band’s musical inspirations to touring and what to expect from the band down the road.

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The Devils of Loudun – Enduring Creation

Preorder today!

Purchase physical copies of Entering Oblivion and Enduring Creation, as well as exclusive Devils of Loudun apparel and merchandise by visiting the band’s webstore

Follow The Devils of Loudun on Facebook

Subscribe to and follow The Devils of Loudun on YouTube

The Devils of Loudun are:

Vance: Vocals

Drew: Lead Guitar

Scott: Guitar

LJ: Bass Guitar

Billy: Drums

Ben: Keyboard and synthesizers

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