Review: KATAHDIN – “Pamola” (DIY)

Katahdin is the name of the highest mountain in the state of Maine. Located in Baxter State Park, it was believed by some Native Americans to be the home of the storm god Pamola, deeming it a place to be avoided. Such a name is perfect for a band like Katahdin, and not in the sense that they should be avoided at all. Hailing from various parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, this band’s sound isn’t what I would call ground breaking, but nonetheless still something that I will be listening to over and over for quite some time.

Pamola is an album that can be thoroughly enjoyed by black metal purists, but they also show a large death metal influence, and even a bit of thrash. I’m definitely seeing a huge Symbolic era Death influence as well which is something that really caught my attention. Another thing that caught my ear is that they don’t concentrate on only screeching high vocals, but also have moments of some good sounding lows that remind me a lot of Decrepit Birth.

The album opens with a very cool intro, with Native American music playing over a thunderstorm and a really cool sounding drum buildup, as if the tribe being studied is getting ready to walk into battle. One last loud thunder strike, and then they immediately kick into “Blood Red Moon.” The next song, titled “The Root of Wind and Storm,” is another perfect example of their sound, with a lot of really cool sounding leads. The solos on the album definitely catch my attention, but not quite for the right reasons. There are just some parts of them that sound like they aren’t quite on key with the rest of the song/solo.

The production is very dirty, which is perfect for their style. The drums sound a little stale in the mix, and I’ve never really been a huge fan of the heavily reverberated drum sound either, but it works for what they’re doing. I am, however, a big fan of the artwork, which shows a Native American style picture of what seems to be half moose, half bird, with the arms of a man, and that unmistakable, quite illegible logo that seems to be a requirement for many black and death metal bands, making it incredibly hard to know what it says unless you already know who the band is.Overall this album is awesome, and a great example of what a good blackened death/thrash band should sound like. Though there are a few things that I feel could use some work or changing around, it’s still something that I’ve found myself listening to a lot and really getting into, and definitely worth looking into no matter what sub genre you’re into. Katahdin is a band that shows lot of promise, and if they keep it up, they definitely have a bright future ahead of them.

RATING:  7 / 10
By: Greg Mann

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Review: ONEIRIC REALM – “Hallowed Ambrosia” Demo (DIY)

I must say, I don’t listen to enough black metal anymore. This is partly because it has  become a joke, with bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir turning it into a Realm is one of those that stand true to the roots, supplying you with 22 minutes of straight up raw, majestic black metal like the good ol’ days of burning churches and making album covers of suicidal band mates making their final statement.

They start right off with sheer evil, without giving you even half a second to warm up to what might come. In this style, most of the bands have some incredibly epic intro of eerie noises, vikings in battle, or other such moments that you could swear came out of a movie you’ve seen before, but I don’t think that has to be an absolute necessity. At about 2:55 in track two, entitled “Cirque De Macabre,” they break into an almost jazzy sounding rhythm, with a very creepy sound lead, that leads right back into pure evil. “Of Gravity and Decay” has a few slight moments of clean guitars which may throw the listener off for a moment, but in a good way because it works perfect with what the rest of the song is doing. On the track “Imbibing Ignorance and Realization” they bust out the clean vocals; sweet, operatic sounding clean vocals that are definitely what made this for me. The songwriting is exactly what you’d expect, with random tempo changes here and there that aren’t exactly technical, but still very interesting considering how well it works for the sound. Plus it’s so melodic and majestic sounding, it brings bands like Emperor to mind more than it does Gorgoroth.

The production is perfect for black metal. Very raw, not over produced like a lot of mainstream bands mentioned before. The vocals are very low in the mix, but still allow you to hear just how high he can get without losing that raspy scream, which is something I can really appreciate because again, it just adds to the raw power of the mix. One of the biggest things that stands out to me (being a bassist) is the fact that the bass is very audible, and he doesn’t just do what the guitarists do, which is a what lots of black metal lacks (keep in mind all you purists out there that I don’t listen to much black metal), and it definitely makes for an enjoyable listen. The drums are especially tight sounding, and the kick has a very natural tone to it, rather than sounding like a basketball bouncing in the court, but a little low in the mix.

Overall, I give some major props to Oneiric Realm. In a scene that is just plastered with corpse paint and mockery (see: any Immortal Photoshop contest), this band sticks to the roots and delivers pure, evil sounding black metal that makes me wish there were more than four songs. Perhaps a full length may be seen in the future? We can only hope, because this is one band that I would definitely like to hear more from. As any internet forum nerd would say, Oneiric Realm is kvlt.

RATING:  9.5 / 10
By: Greg Mann