[Metal/Melodic Death] Exalt The Throne Last Show @ Dallas, TX (O’Rileys Bar – 07/29/2017)

We are born, we live and we die. Some people call it the circle of life. I don’t, i prefer the allusion of the thread of life metaphorized by the Ancient Greek through as the Moirai (or Fates) Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. We exist as a thread with our beginning and our end. We cease to exist with the continuum but we remains as part of the fabric (history).
Same applies for our intellectual endeavors, scientific and artistic alike.
I have seen bands being born bringing the joy and the excitement with their innocence and novelty. I have bands that have been following me through my life, becoming a sort of travel companions through my own journey. Sadly, I also have seen bands giving their last breath and close their eyes.
The announcement of a band going into hiatus or disbanding is always a sad news to hear because you know that you will not experience anymore that auditory and visual stimuli that made them listen and like their work, over and over.
One of the band that lately gave their final curtain, their “barroud d’honneur” was Exalt The Throne (Dallas, TX). I discovered the band very recently as their supported Epica second leg North American Tour following the release of “The Quantum Enigma”. It was love at first sight because of this very interesting blend of melodic death (with high-paced guitars of Charles, Tim and Kanyon and drums) with symphonic metal (clean female vocals performed by Courtney). It was neither the former nor the latter. It was its own blend that made them unique. When the band announced their final show a month ago, it was unexpected and a very sad moment to experience.
However, I decided to drive all the way to attend their final show and have a chance to collect a last souvenir from the band. The gig was short but oh boy you could feel how the band matured over the last 18 months, refining their performance.  The band played three of their songs present in their album “Long Live the King” (“Long Live The King”; “Perpetual Agony” and “Rampant Idolatry”) and one cover from Amon Amarth (I ain’t fan of folk metal but if someone can help identify the song, I would be more than happy to update this post).

If I have to find a silver lining into this final show, I would definitely cite the first law of thermodynamics that stipulates “energy is not created nor destroyed in a closed system, it is only transformed and transferred”. Same applies to the artistic energy. It is only transformed and transferred. I wish to the band members all the best and success in their endeavors and in their personal and professional careers. The king is dead! Long live the king!

 

[Melodic Death Metal] The Ottoman Empire – Way of the Blade (10th anniversary)

2016 is entering its last segment and before it ends I want to be sure that I give a thumbs up to any albums of my collection that marks a anniversary year. Among of them is a precious jewel that is not well known, from a band named The Ottoman Empire (aka Luna Mortis) with a certain Mary Zimmer. If there is a female metal front singer that masters both the growls and the clean in the US metal scene, it is surely Mary.
What this album has a special place? Well for different reasons. First, it is a melodic death metal band and I like the complexity of guitar riffs coupled with the brutality of fast drums and bass shredding. The second reason is probably the geography shared between me and the band. The band is originated from Madison, Wisconsin. Two bands as I know are Badgers at heart: Garbage (alternative rock that got some success in the mid-1990s) and The Ottoman Empire. I lived few years in Madison as part of my scientific training and Madison still kept a special place in my heart for different reasons. If you survive its winter, then you truly enjoy the city.
So this is their seminal album “Way of The Blade” released on October 7, 2006. It is made of 10 songs lasting about 50 minutes. Most songs last a good 4 to 6 minutes, with “The Mercenary” lasting a 12 minute.
The album starts with “Anemic World” that quickly set the tone. An amazing opening guitar riff sequence, followed by fast-pace drumbeats and the entrance of Mary bringing her magic touch, alternating between growls and clean. All well played that gives on this frenzy and yet very elaborated rhythmic. My favorite.
It is followed by “Demon Twin”, keeping on the signature and by “The Ottoman Empire”. I like the “Ottoman Empire” by its slower and bit more languish pace allowing to enjoy the musical arrangement and the lyrics. This kind of quiet interlude is only distracting from the next track “Wrathshot” that brings on back the fast pace and Mary all in her rage and fury (that will be her signature with “The White Empress”). Washing away is “One If by Sea” that is almost melodic and melancholic ballad, only to shake you up with rage and furor by intermittent. “Strike” is another typical song of the album marking the Ottoman Empire musical style through this album and their two other album.
“The Mercenary” is my second favorite, Mary bringing her melancholic voice and the great guitar arrangement, to only break it down brutally. Another great song. “Vendetta”, the 8th track, brings on the rage and the furor back from “Anemic World” and “Wrathshot”. The album almost conclude by an “Interlude”, a guitar solo.If you like the sound of an electrical guitar simple tones, it is a great way to exit from the tumult of the album. Finally, the last track “Way of The Blade” concludes the album, surfing on the same musical frame than “Strike”.
It is interesting to retrospectively rediscover this album, as I got introduced to Mary with “The White Empress” almost two years ago. You can appreciate that her talent was already present from the very first album and only refined, crafted and mastered it. If you like Mary vocal performance from her recent work in Santa Marta, you should definitely get your hands on this album. A must-have.

[Metal/Melodic Death] Arch Enemy – Black Earth 20th anniversary

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Arch Enemy “Black Earth”, seeding what I consider of one of the most favorite melodic death metal, in particular by the powerful melodic riffs of Michael Amott. His talented skills on melodic riffs are in my opinion awesome and makes Arch Enemy different from the mainstream death metal bands.
As a freshman album, you always this feeling of the drafty and finding out his niche if you compare side-by-side the Arch Enemy style of 1997 and Arch Enemy of 2016. Retrospectively, you will need to wait until their third album “Anthems of Rebellion” and the position of Angela Gussow to obtain the trademark of Arch Enemy. Yet, this album is already rich with Michael melodic riffs that contrast with the heavy and brutal of the death metal. The album is made of 12 songs and it is some very good death metal tunes and stand as a 20 year album head high to many modern production. The vocals of Johan Liiva (ex-Carnage, in which he and Michael came from) are great and clearly understandable, a staple in our days in which many death metal bands front singers are all sounding the same.
More recently, Michael has mounted several pet projects including the progressive rock “Spiritual Beggars” and even reformed the original lineup that formed this album and named it simply “Black Earth”.
If you like powerful melodic guitar riffs and the hard banging of death metal, you should give a try to their first album, a milestone in Arch Enemy album.

[Metal] Exalt The Throne – Long Live The King (80%)

After months of waiting, I finally got my hand on Exalt The Throne first full-release “Long Live The King”. Exalt the Throne (Dallas/Fort Worth-TX) was one of the biggest surprise as a opening band for Epica during their concert in Dallas at the beginning of the year.
It was a last-minute change in the line-up and completely unexpected, so you can imagine the surprise to see a band opening for Epica and have absolutely no clue who they are and what style of metal you will listen to.
Well you would expect something symphonic since it is opening for Epica right? Wrong. It was even better than that. It was a blend of melodic death (with some great guitar riffs of Charles Benson, also a member of Astyanax) with the clean mezzo-soprano female voice of Courtney. That was a blast, despite audio technical difficulties.
After months in waiting, they finally released their first album, a 9-track album named “Long Live The King”. Of course, gave my commute test to it. Result? A fairly good start for a first-time release. I liked it.
It is heavy, sometimes fast-paced (like you would expect from any death metal band), sometimes harbor very nice solo melodic guitar riffs from Charles. So at first, you would take it as a death metal. Then comes Courtney with her clean mezzo voice and bang, your brain is entering a conundrum state, sometimes conflicting but I find it really interesting. You get lost between in a complex decision-making between jumping into the mosh or standing listening to Courtney.
Why? Because you have a nice blending of the bold and the beautiful.
The album is overall good, I did not have any particular track that for me stood up. But that’s not bad, it means the album is not conceived around two-three songs and then molded with some filler.
The engineering is very raw, no synths and no the fluffiness you would expect from any Dutch symphonic metal album. The mixing has been done fairly well, considering the band likely worked on a tight budget.
Now after listening to the album, I am in need to see them live. The problem? The ride to Dallas, that’s a good 5-hour ride. Hopefully they will have a date with a decent line-up in a weekend to bait me for a ride down to the DFW.
Long Live The King!

[Metal] Exalt The Throne – The Tempest

Exalt the Throne, a melodic death metal band from Texas Dallas-Fort Worth area just released a lyric video for “The Tempest” from their upcoming album “Long Live The King”.
The album release date is scheduled on June 24th and will be accompanied by a promoting gig the same evening at Tomcats in Fort Worth.