The Good, The Bad, The Unsigned

This was always a favorite feature of the original owner/editor of Deaf Sparrow on the old site, but we had yet to bring it back, so here it is, “The Good, The Bad, The Unsigned”.  The title, awesome, the process simple.  What we do is run through four submissions from unsigned bands/musicians that we’ve received recently, giving short reviews and some much-needed press for their future record deals, and perhaps subsequent bargain bin tossing, or potential implosion after they try to choke down the tears after reading what we have to say.  So yee haw let’s get going and check out a random sampling to start off the resurgence of this feature.  We do this alphabetically, just so you know, not by score.

Hercyn – Dust and Ages

Honestly, this one is good enough to warrant a separate review, but since we promote our special features this will give them more exposure.  Hercyn are a perfect example of a conglomerate of genres, which you can gather for yourself by checking out the bio on their official site.  But progressive black metal?  Can it be?  Hercyn, who come from New Jersey, completely lacking in pomposity, say yes.  Prog is like a sickness, the victim of its contagion gasping with every last breath to create meaning out of their life, but dying in the end all the same, like everyone else.  Suffice to say anything “prog” is usually justifying why it experimented to the point of becoming, well, just plain old dumb.  Dust and Ages is neither plain, nor dumb, it’s proof that prog is not necessarily a plague-ridden mistake.  What Hercyn has done successfully is to take the atmospheric chill of black metal and expand on it, sometimes with acoustics and chanting, others by breaking your sense of expectation.  A build begins, then it silences into minimalism, progressively building up to that black metal assault of snow that you desire.  So, they know exactly when to bring it down to the classic, and exactly how to move from the classic to the new by carefully expanding on typical ideas without causing sudden, nonsensical breaks as prog sometimes is known to do.  That’s what it takes, future proggers take heed, Hercyn know what’s what.  Hercyn Official Facebook  Score: 4.8 / 5

Regnvm Animale – Et Sic In Infinitvm

We must admit, at first, seeing those cult v’s made us want to cry.  “Oh gawd no,” we said in our autocratic angst.  Perhaps it was because this duo wasn’t entirely sure how to present themselves, and in fact this album reveals that pretty clearly.  Coming from Stockholm, Regnvm Animale define themselves as “blackened crust & black metal with a melodic touch,” which is exactly why we read these things after.  Et Sic In Infinitvm is in many ways an entirely confusing release, but with touches of “hmm, could it be so?” promise hidden within.  What’s interesting is the promo has it exactly right.  The problem is it has yet to become a fully formed entity, it’s more of an amorphous blob unable to fit itself into any space properly.  Regnvm Animale are attempting something that’s been done before, except the addition of the melodic part, probably.  We’re all for experimentation, but the end result with Et Sic In Infinitum is almost impalpable at times.  In sounding exactly as described, we almost wish it wasn’t.  Instead of melding, it separates, instead of solidifying, it dissipates, and by the end you feel like you’ve listened to two different bands playing at the same time with little cohesion.  This is further marred by a noticeably lo-fi approach that completely lacks the power you associate with crust, as well as, oddly, the atmosphere of black metal while sounding like it’s being played through wax paper.  These guys are skilled, you can tell in how they play, but the what needs a great deal of work.  Regnvm Animale Official Facebook  Score: 3.1 / 5

Six Pack of Doom – Angel’s Fall

Sometimes promos make us laugh with all the glittering generalities and errors but these guys went so far as to start from their own name.  If there’s one thing they’re consistent with, it’s inconsistency.  On Facebook they spell it “Sixpackofdoom”, on their own site “Six Pack of Doom” and “SixPack of Doom”, but on Bandcamp as “SIXPACKOFDOOM”.  But hey they “have the vision to revisit the gritty days” as they “tear through each song with pure adrenaline, raw power and energy topped with unique vocals, and technical guitar movements,” whatever in the hell that last part means.  Angel’s Fall even denies consistency in its art, which mimics classic crust, but yet is almost meaningless with its conglomeration of religious imagery and references to drinking beer, which is cool in metal, since everyone’s doing it, but somehow it’s a full six-pack of doom, even though these guys are nowhere close and we’re not sure what that means.  You should realize they’re closer to nu-metal before listening.  Those days are pretty “gritty”, in fact; they make you grit your teeth any time mother pulls out high school pics and you see the farce of your childhood staring back.  And would you believe they reference both the Illuminati and the United States government in this same, 4-song EP?  Believe it, because it is so.  The vocals are exceedingly terrible, unique only in their belief in that they are unique when actually they sound like a cryptomnesiac who saw Pasadena Napalm Division the night prior.  Unfortunately, it’s not even close to that cool since it’s filled with terribly stereotypical anti-political and anti-religious messages, covered in samples as effective as  Lucky Charms without the marshmallows.  Yes, we were that desperate for an analogy, that’s what something like this does to the mind, it crushes all creativity and hope.  We’re completely uncertain how this came to exist, but it did, and somehow these guys even convinced BRaIN DEaD to do a split.  Likely because the latter band realized how much better they would sound by comparison.  Six Pack of Doom Official Facebook  Score: 1.5 / 5

Vortech – …Of What Remains

Well, these guys we’ve seen before, and we’re glad we’re seeing them again because they’re doing more of the same, except for their artwork did you not get the hint last time around?  Seriously, it’s amazing how much bands take for granted the power of an album’s art.  At least the last time it was more symbolic, here it’s just a poor Photoshop with some sort of Gundam what-not with its opacity adjusted on top of some nighttime city scene that was likely free-to-use and came with Windows 95.  That being said, once you get past that ugh cover, things get much better.  Vortech are amazing in how they can make what should sound inferior sound superior.  Industrial metal is often mocked, because it usually sucks awfully so.  The primary reason for this is typically a hesitance to fully utilize electronic elements, focusing more on the “metal” part.  Vortech, however, are all about putting those electronics front and center.  …Of What Remains proves why that’s important.  Sweeping electronic strings, technological repetition, pummeling, synthetic drums, even though there’s a human being behind them, which is what’s so great about it.  These three have totally engrossed themselves in technology, they’re all about creating a sense of the cyberpunk, and by that we mean actually reading Neuromancer instead of sort-of making an album about it.  Where was Vortech back in the early 90s?  They would have probably been more readily noticed, because they barely seem to get any press these days.  Some of that might be industrial metal’s stigma, or the fact that they haven’t changed their approach since the last one (our one complaint).  Or because of that awful art come on guys srsly.  Vortech Official Facebook  Score: 4.5 / 5


Written by Stanley Stepanic