A little while back, we reviewed some local bands in the hopes of stimulating some interest in Los Angeles' somewhat decrepit and disorganized metal scene, as well as providing some words of warning against the bands not worth your time. And as promised, we're back again to give five more bands the acid test. Note that these reviews are based on a cursory listen of the band's available preview songs (usually via MySpace profiles), so I'm using my intuition a bit here. If you think I've overlooked or misjudged a band, don't hesitate to add your comments below. Anyway, here's who we discovered this week:
Exmortus, Whittier: This band combine a speed / thrash metal aesthetic with technical, modern death metal, resulting in a slightly more structured version of the latter. It's a bit metalcore-ish on the surface but this is definitely forgivable. Mostly rhythm riffs but with shards of melody stabbing through the chaos, the band play fairly complex music very hard and pull it off without a hitch. They spice up their fairly brutal songs with extended lead parts, so if you like epic showmanship (more in the vein of Mercyful Fate than Necrophagist in this case), give these guys a listen. If anything they deserve a lot of credit for at least trying to do something unique in a scene dominated by cut-and-paste retro-thrash bands.
Dreaming Dead, Los Angeles: Fast minor key mixture of thrash and death metal with sentimental melodious black metal jamming for balance. The problem with bands like this (as with most metalcore and deathcore, which this band is at least partly consisted) is a lack of consistent focus and a desire to throw way too many discordant memes into a song all at once. The result is a band that has a lot of energy, writes excellent riffs and melodic lines, but is just a little too jarring to flow smoothly as a musical experience. Riffs that could have immense impact have less and remain unresolved in the context at large, even if in themselves they are delicious. Dreaming Dead definitely have potential, and with some refinement could quite easily rise above a scene dominated by disorder and scattered attention spans. Kudos to Elizabeth (vocals and guitar) for having the *ahem* balls to lead the band, but I have to admit that female vocals in this style are always a bit awkward -- however, this is merely a surface gripe; the music itself is not bad at all.
Witchaven, Los Angeles: A retro-thrash band influenced by everything from Venom to Absu to Wolfpack, these guys write short, punchy speed metal songs that go for the throat and then deviate into something completely different, likely a tactic culled from their diverse range of influences. Crunchy, neck-breaking riffs and vocal vitriol abound, with each song seemingly paying tribute to yet another great band who did it first. The music is sort of obvious and creaky like an old shed but they're fun to throw on and probably great live.
Sothis, Los Angeles: To paraphrase a certain well-known metal musician, this is carnival music pretending to be metal. Everything about this band is basically a tribute to later Dimmu Borgir, from the keyboards to the chord progressions to the outfits, and if you have any love for black metal proper you know that's not a good thing. Avoid.
Eyes of Noctum, Los Angeles: You knew this was coming. Yes, it's the band that will go down in history as "Nic Cage's son's black metal band." Or not, considering it's yet another distracted metalcore tribute to Dimmu Borgir / Cradle of Filth-style "black" glam metal. Who would've thought?
For more info: That's all for now, tune in next week as we put more local bands on the chopping block!