Review of Inconnu by Thonian Horde

Band: Thonian Horde
Album: Inconnu
Release Date: 9 September 2017
Record Label: Grimoire Records
Buy on CD ($7) or as digital files ($5) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Inconnu by Thonian Horde

With this post we’re debuting a new album reviewer on DCHM. Please welcome Vivek Rangarajan and read his first post for us, a very in depth review of a black metal album released by a band of guys from local doom metal bands. Be sure to stream a few tracks at the end of the post as well!

This is my first review on DCHM and I was given the pleasure of reviewing Thonian Horde’s Inconnu. This album was a blast to listen to from start to finish, but before I talk about Inconnu, let’s learn who Thonian Horde are.

Thonian Horde is a local band which features former and current members of Weed is Weed, Pale Divine, and Faith in Jane. Most of these bands are based in Frederick, Maryland, and each member is active in the Maryland Doom Metal community, which is a surprise since they are a black metal band. In 2016, the band released a self-titled debut album and in 2017, they released their second album, Inconnu. Upon first listen, one might expect it to be a black metal album with some touches of Maryland doom. However, this is not the case! In fact, Inconnu is a very eclectic blend of black, death, and thrash metal with some traditional hard rock. Thonian Horde’s Inconnu is an album that showcases the strengths of extreme metal while blending it with good-old fashioned rock and roll.

The opening track “Stygian Rhyme” sets the tone for the album and wastes no time doing it as well. Bassist and vocalist, FeZZy, uses cleaner than normal black metal vocals to put his own twist on the typical black metal shrieking vocal style. I love it. This heightens the vocal performance because it shows his identity. The guitarists Dirty and D-Mize provide a well-rounded attack, in that, both guitarists lay down the riffs in a cohesive manner. Dirty holds down the song on rhythm while D-Mize shreds for the lead sections.

While the album is rooted in black metal, Thonian Horde incorporate more styles of metal and rock as the album progresses. As soon as the second track, “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey,” begins, we see Thonian Horde incorporate a traditional rock-groove. While this can be shaky, Dirty and D-Mize do an excellent job balancing the rock groove with abrasive black metal riffage. Dirty does a good amount of lead work in this song and his leads show off the rock influence. D-Mize keeps the black metal rhythms going and keeps the song cohesive. The drum work done by Tyler “The Beast” Lee shows off a balance between black metal and rock. There is a mix of black metal blasting while keeping a rock-groove. It makes the song hard-hitting and groovy. This turns “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey” into a black ‘n roll song at the end. It’s a great one as well. The third song, “Three III 3,” is a more straightforward black metal song. It contains a lot of the gloomy atmosphere that is common in black metal. D-Mize and Dirty put their own spin on this by incorporating a semi-melodic lead that corresponds with the main riff.

The fourth track, “Atrocious,” continues what “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey,” began. It begins with mid-paced bass line which transitions into the main riff of the song. It keeps the black n’ roll ball going as the bass line sets the rock-groove for the guitars to add on to. One thing I’d like to note on this song is how the bass guitar is easy to hear throughout the song. I love it when a song actually lets the listener hear the bass. It is unusual for the bass to be easily heard in a black metal song. Hearing the bass adds another layer to the song which strengthens it for me.

The fifth track, “Helltrain,” is my favorite track off the album. Thonian Horde show off their songwriting abilities with this track. This song combines black metal and hard-rock grooves with some speedy thrash metal. The song begins with a straight up hard rock bass-line, then D-Mize brings some dissonant feedback from his guitar. The song transitions into an excellent black n’ roll riff that Dirty holds down, while D-Mize is doing some spastic and bizarre leads. The Beast’s drumming is at its peak on this song, he keeps the grooves going while everyone is doing their own parts. Around the halfway mark, the song becomes a blasting black metal track. I love how The Beast’s drumming hits the listener like a sledgehammer with this transition. The transition is very subtle, which makes the transition’s punch even harder. Once the blasting ends, the vocal attack by FeZZy howls a powerful scream which shifts the entire song into a thrashing frenzy. The drumming in this part of the song by The Beast uses a slam-dancing beat that’s common in thrash. The use of the thrash beat packs a punch and gives a fast circle-pit beat to enhance the guitarists riffs. D-Mize and Dirty go nuts once the thrash beat kicks in. I love the amount of energy their riffs produce during this part of the song. They also include a headbangin’ breakdown that is common in thrash metal. I don’t usually care for breakdowns in all honesty, but Thonian Horde’s use of a thrash breakdown in the track is great. To end the song Dirty goes nuts in his solo and D-Mize even joins in on the insane fun. The guitarists keep the riffs thrashy, yet the atmosphere and attitude of black metal is still present. The song transitions from a black n’ roll song to a traditional black metal song and finally to a blackened thrash song, and I love it. I can see a vicious circle pit breaking out whenever they play this song live.

The sixth track, “The Eleventh Dream,” is an atmospheric instrumental track. The song has a melancholic bassline that repeats throughout the song. On top of that it contains a lot of eerie sounds that evoke a feeling of misery. It’s a track that is nothing but suffering and dread and it feels as if someone has died and we are seeing what life is without this person. “The Eleventh Dream” is a great cool down to all of the madness going on for the first five tracks.

The second half of the album continues the black n’ roll while adding elements of extreme metal. The tracks that do this great in the second half of the album would be the title track, “Inconnu” and “Organized Oppression.” “Inconnu” is more rock influenced than anything else, however, there are sections that are traditional black metal. One thing of note during this track is there is a good amount of melody in the song. I like their use of a melodic section in this song because it makes the more straightforward parts sound more abrasive by contrast.
“Organized Oppression” is a more straightforward black metal song. There is a slight melody throughout each riff which adds another layer to all of the blasting going on behind the drum kit. The song eventually becomes a blackened thrash song with some melodic elements to it. The song concludes after an energetic guitar solo by Dirty.

This is not a perfect album and there are some faults to be found. The vocals could use less reverb on them. They make the vocals seem artificial and the lyrics lose their meaning because of it. In addition to this, the last track, “Iris Effect,” does not have as much variation as the other songs have. It uses a simple riff to carry the album to the end, and the song is very mid-paced throughout which makes it hard not to lose interest. It begins to drone. Inconnu has a few problems, however, they do not detract anything from the overall experience.

Overall, this album is a fantastic local release. Thonian Horde show off how diverse their songwriting ability is. The incorporation of hard-rock grooves and melodies, combining that with black metal and other forms of extreme metal, make this one of the more varied albums I have heard in a very long time. If there is any album that I regret not putting on my favorites of 2017 it is definitely this album. Inconnu shows that there is a lot more to the Maryland scene than just doom metal or grindcore. If Thonian Horde can follow this map they have created for themselves, then I think they can make a big splash at the national level. Who knows, they could be a part of a great tour package. For right now though, their future is bright.

Helltrain:

Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey:

Municipal Waste ticket give away

Municipal Waste at 9:30 Club

Municipal Waste is coming to the 9:30 Club on Sunday, December 17th! This Krampus miracle of a show has one hell of a line up as we’ll also get to see sets by Nails, Macabre and Shitfucker. In fact we’re so excited that we’re going to be giving away a free pair of tickets to the show to one of you lucky DCHM readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite metal song for the holidays is (I’m going with “Holidays Of Horror” by Macabre!). Then this Friday, December 8th at 5pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. Be sure to enter using an email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $20 here.

Richmond’s Municipal Waste is known for their wild live shows full of crowd surfers and stage divers, their hilarious lyrics about partying and of course those sweet thrash metal riffs! Nails is a grind band from California that really broke out with their punishing album You Will Never Be One Of Us, definitely one of the best albums of 2016. Macabre is a bizarre band from Chicago that has been a personal favorite of mine for years. They somehow blend death metal and nursery rhymes and almost all of their songs are about actual serial killers. Between songs during live performances they tell stories and often quote the various serial killers before launching into each track. Opening the show is Shitfucker, a Detroit based band that blends blackened speed metal with high energy punk. This is one epic line up you don’t want to miss! Now check out these videos from the bands performing and let me know your favorite metal song for the holidays is in the comments!

Municipal Waste – Breathe Grease

Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us

Macabre – Scrub A Dub Dub

Shitfucker – Graveyard Revels

Mayhem ticket give away

Mayhem at Baltimore Soundstage

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the holiday season is officially upon us. That means it’s the perfect time for a church burning ticket give away! Let the notorious Norwegian black metal legends Mayhem darken your holidays this Friday, December 1st, when they play the Baltimore Soundstage with Immolation and Black Anvil. We know you’ve got presents to buy on top of bills to pay so we’re going to give away a free pair of tickets to this show to one of you lucky readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite black metal song is. Then this Wednesday, Nov 29th at 5pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. Be sure to enter using an email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $23 here.

Mayhem is one of the original bands from the infamous second wave of black metal that arose out of Norway in the early 90s. On this tour they’ll be performing their classic 1994 album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in its entirety along with some of their other songs too. Also performing will be Immolation, a death metal band from New York that has managed to keep their sound intense without getting stale over the 30 years of their existence. New York City based black thrashers Black Anvil will open the show. Now check out these videos from the bands performing and let me know your favorite black metal song in the comments!

Mayhem – Freezing Moon (live)

Immolation – Fostering The Divide

Black Anvil – May Her Wrath Be Just

Hatebreed ticket give away

Hatebreed at Baltimore Soundstage

This Sunday, November 26th, metalcore masters Hatebreed are playing the Baltimore Soundstage with local death metal legends Dying Fetus! We’re so excited for this show that we’re giving away a pair of tickets to this show to one of you lucky DCHM readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what metal band you’re most thankful for. Maybe they’re your favorite band, maybe they helped you through a rough time or maybe they did something super awesome for their fans or a charity or something. This is a short running contest due to the holiday this week so don’t wait to end because at 6pm EST on Wednesday, November 22nd the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. Be sure to enter using an email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $23 here.

Hatebreed formed in the late 90s and released their 8th studio album, The Concrete Confessional, last year. It was their first release on Nuclear Blast Records and it peaked at 25 on the Billboard charts, showing that they’re still hitting hard after all these years. Dying Fetus is bringing the slamming riffs to this show as well. They just released their latest album, Wrong One to Fuck With in June so we’ll finally get to hear some of those sick new tunes live. Code Orange is a hardcore punk band from Pittsburgh who released their third album, Forever, on Relapse Records earlier this year. Opening the show will be the Los Angeles based Twitching Tongues, a band that blends doom metal with hardcore. Be sure to check out these videos from the bands below and leave a comment telling me which metal band you’re the most thankful for!

Hatebreed – Something’s Off

Dying Fetus – Die With Integrity

Code Orange – Forever

Twitching Tongues – Disharmony

Review of Slash ‘Em All by Omnislash

Band: Omnislash
Album: Slash ‘Em All!
Release Date: 9 June 2017
Buy as mp3s ($8.91) from: Amazon
Buy on CD ($10) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Slash 'Em All! by Omnislash

DCHM writer Tal is back with this in depth review of Baltimore based traditional/thrash metal band Omnislash’s sophomore album. Be sure to check out the video game inspired music video at the end of the post when you’re done reading.

We’re pretty spoiled in the DC area with a good number of local bands that sound like pros, and yet somehow I’m always surprised when I find another one. Omnislash is one of those bands. I had heard of them for possibly years, but had never been in the right place at the right time to actually see them live. Their recent album Slash ‘Em All! convinced me that I need to change that ASAP.

If Iron Maiden was a little faster and thrashier, that might describe Omnislash’s sound. They’re melodic like Iron Maiden, with mostly cleanish vocals, anthemic choruses and an upbeat vibe, but given to blistering thrash rampages. They at once claim to combine “the best elements of glam, thrash, power metal, death metal, hair metal, and classic rock” and to represent traditional heavy metal from “a time before the metal scene became fragmented.” I suppose if we hearken far enough back into the 80’s, it might be possible to do both at once. Certainly, Omnislash seems to combine all those diverging genres into one cohesive whole – thrash outbursts flow into expansive choruses, the vocals go from gritty to near operatic, and heavy riffs give way to melodic bridges or speedy solos, in such an organic way that nothing sounds out of place.

After an acoustic/neoclassical intro, the album starts off with rocking riffs with just a little thrash dirtiness, and a vicious scream from vocalist Jeremy Phoenix. True metal, all right. The first song, “Empires Fade,” is exemplary of the album – at once melodic, groovy and touched with thrash grittiness, and impossible to sit still for. The vocal style, clean yet forceful and sometimes rising into a scream, is reminiscent of harder power metal bands like Iced Earth. In another parallel to Iced Earth, there seems to be a historical theme to the song, which I first noticed with the line “Rome controls the Nile.” In an interview in Shockwave Magazine, Jeremy indicated that the song is about “that moment in time when it could have been the Egyptian Empire but it became the Roman Empire.” The wailed, “Run for your life” in the chorus can’t help evoking Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills,” as well.

There are several catchy songs you’ll be rocking out to in your mind long after the album’s done playing, but the catchiest has to be the title track (and band theme song?), “Metalliation Revengeance (Slash ‘Em All).” With the racing, driving rhythm and insistent, somehow danceable lead guitar, you won’t be able to help starting a toxic waltz wherever you are. Then it goes into a horn-throwing, sing-along chorus and bridge, complete with “woah’s” for the full metal experience. But don’t take my word for it; check out their hilarious video at the end of this post. I can just imagine this as the climactic closing song of their live show.

This is just the middle of the album, however, so the songs keep on coming. The most aggressive songs are in the second half: “Nuke the Moon” and “Not One Step Back,” the former about Project A119, a US Air Force project from the 1950’s that planned to detonate a nuclear bomb on the Moon, and the latter about the Battle of Stalingrad. There’s also a ballad of sorts, “Gothenburg,” if a song with pummeling thrash percussion and machine-gun guitars can be called a ballad just because it has more drawn-out and emotional vocals. “Blood Feud” is a song with furious aggressive verses and a catchy chorus that oddly reaches its anthemic height at the end of the chorus. Since I just finished reading Hillbilly Elegy, I can’t help wondering if the song has anything to do with Appalachia, since that book’s author, J.D. Vance, had some not-so-distant ancestors that took part in some pretty violent blood feuds in that area.

The band’s lyrical themes are another parallel to Iron Maiden, with a more historical bent than most thrash metal, although they still focus on typical thrash themes of war and violence.

One downside to the album, which might have been out of the band’s control, is that the production quality isn’t as good as I’ve become used to for some of our local bands. Some might argue that this is part of the band’s 80’s thrash vibe, but for me, it’s a detriment to the album. For instance, the furious beginning to “Nuke the Moon” sounds like a mess. It would be much more effective at showcasing the band’s technical virtuosity – not to mention more enjoyable as a thrash barrage – if I could hear everything going on. The rest of the album isn’t that bad, but it’s still poor enough that this is one of the rare cases where a pair of good headphones doesn’t help, and actually takes away from enjoyment of the album, since the sound quality issue becomes so distracting.

Sound quality aside, Slash ‘Em All! is a great album, putting Omnislash among the ranks of stellar local bands in the DC area.

Local metal head Danica Roem wins election!

We here at DCHeavyMetal.com are very proud of local metal head Danica Roem! Yesterday she was successfully elected to Virginia’s House Of Delegates to represent the state’s 13th district, which covers Manassas Park City and parts of Prince William County. Her historic win has garnered her headlines across the nation and world. While I’m totally psyched to see the first person from our area’s metal scene elected to office, the reason this grabbed headlines is the fact that Danica is transgender, and now the first ever transgender person elected to office in Virginia. I stopped by her victory party last night to join in the celebration (and make sure our area’s metal heads were representing!) and snapped the photo above. Danica gave a moving victory speech (embedded below) to the packed room and even gave a shout out to metal heads at the beginning! Though she ran on fixing traffic on Route 28 and paying teachers more, her win was important to many outside of her district as well.

It’s really awesome to see one of us making headlines and causing change in such a positive way. Arch Enemy frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz even made an Instagram post (here) about how she used to crash on Danica’s couch back in the day when she played Jaxx/Empire. Be sure to check out the party thrash band Danica fronts, Cab Ride Home, by streaming their 2017 album Crash The Gate below.

A Sound Of Thunder’s cover of Catalan national anthem

Today Catalonia’s parliament voted to declare independence from Spain. The streets of Barcelona were filled with people celebrating despite the central Spanish government calling secession illegal. I figured this would be as good of a time as ever to remind people to check out local band A Sound Of Thunder‘s heavy metal cover of the Catalan national anthem, “Els Segadors.” The band posted the song to YouTube earlier this month and it quickly gained the attention of Catalan separatists. The song went viral in Catalan and already has over one million streams on YouTube. The band has garnered a fan base in Catalonia now and will be touring there in early December. A Sound Of Thunder recorded the song as an homage to their vocalist Nina Osegueda’s mother, who is Catalonian. Current events lead them to post it online ahead of their next album’s release. Be sure to check out the song below if you haven’t yet, it’s sung in both English and Catalan, and check out their Kickstarter campaign (here) if you’d like to support them.