Candlelight Records has been busy, this summer. Vu sent me a bunch of new-ish (sorry for taking so long with them!) releases a while back, and I guess that means I should talk about them.
First one I want to talk about is Urban Cancer by Nefastus Dies, out of Montreal. This isn't so much a new release, since the band has been selling it at shows since 2006. But what we have here is black metal, with a bit of a grind edge to it. What really stands out to me about this release are the vocals, which jump around all over the spectrum of metal, from black metal style screaming to death metal style grunting and pigsqueals. The production is pretty clean and clear, which is also pretty unique for black metal. The album is a technically great release, with lots of time changes and awesome technical drumming, along with Emperor-style keyboards. These guys are definitely doing their own thing, and in the black metal scene of recent years, that's something respectable. My favorite tracks on here are “Primal Chaos,” “Hate Vector,” and “Spawns of Illegitimacy.” These guys are best when they keep it short and sweet, although they're not bad on the longer tracks, either. They have a few shows coming up. June 27th, they'll be playing at the Kathedral in Toronto. The next night they'll be at the 69 Pick-Ups in Cambridge, Ontario. July 6th, they'll be playing at Club Lambi in Montreal, and on August 2nd, they'll be playing at Wie Gehts Amigo’s in New Castle, Ontario.
The next one I'd like to talk about, is Raleigh, North Carolina's similarly named Daylight Dies, and their album, Lost to the Living, their third album, and second for Candlelight. These guys have been around since 1996, although their first album wasn't officially released until 2002 on Relapse, and appropriately, this album has sort of a classic “goth metal” vibe, kind of along the lines of Paradise Lost or My Dying Bride. To be honest, this kind of metal probably isn't for everyone. These guys are pretty good at it, though, seamlessly blending the heavy, but expansive instrumental passages with the even heavier, chunkier parts, with heavy vocals (mostly growled, but a couple tracks are sung) that manage to sound both angry and kind of sad at the same time. Surprisingly, for this kind of band, not a single track on this album breaks the eight minute mark. My favorite tracks here are “A Portrait in White,” “And a Slow Surrender,” “Woke Up Lost,” and “The Morning Light.” These guys just got off tour with Candlemass not too long ago, which must've been an awesome tour. There's only one show coming up, and it's in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on July 12th at Local 506. It's free to the public, and it's the CD release show for this very album!
Third, and most exciting for me, personally, is the new album, angL, by ex-Emperor vocalist Ihsahn. On this album, he's playing guitars and keyboards, as well as doing the vocals. This is more a straight-up metal release than a lot of his other post-Emperor stuff. In fact, after listening to this, I can forgive him for Peccatum, as long as I never have to hear them again. His vocals still sound good, although he sounds nothing like he did in Emperor. “Scarab” has an awesome guitar solo, and thankfully doesn't go overboard with any “Egyptian” vibe the title might suggest (while there's definitely that vibe, going overboard with it is something that should be left to bands like Nile). “Unhealer” is a collaboration with Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt. It kind of sticks out for being more of an Opeth-y (well, yeah...) prog thing than a black metal thing. The crisp production sounds fitting for it, and it's a damn fine collaboration of two modern metal legends. He continues abandoning the “black metal” framework on “Emancipation,” which features some of the most impressive vocals on the album. Half-sung, half screamed in that classic “Emperor” way. “Malediction,” on the other hand, is more of a return to his black metal roots. It basically sounds like Emperor, but in a kind of updated way. It's awesome, is what matters. “Alchemist” is more of a modern metal thing, opening with chunky, huge riffing reminiscent of bands like Mastodon, with sung vocals on the verses, and screamed choruses. The solo on this track is seriously epic. The next track, “Elevator,” sounds like it was named for how the guitar goes up and down the scales repeatedly. The vocals are more in the black metal vein again, here, and a cool, discordant flourish on the keyboards (I think it's the keyboards, anyway) is jarring in the best possible way. “Threnody” is a slow song, that builds slowly into a heavy slow song. The sung parts sound really good. Occasionally the melodies sound almost “grunge” on it. The last track is also the longest, and is a black metal mini-epic in itself. The sung vocals are a nice touch, but oddly, it still seems like the most straightforward track on this disc. It serves as a fitting end to this album, though. I'd definitely recommend checking this one out. I can't find any tour dates for him, so I assume he's not on tour. Bummer.
Anyway, that's what Candlelight USA is up to lately. And these are all pretty solid releases for fans of the styles being represented. The Ihsahn album in particular is just good metal in general. Definitely worth checking out, even if you don't like black metal.
You can find more info on all these bands at their official websites:
So go check 'em out!