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Chiptunes black metal! - 86%

nilgoun, February 16th, 2012

The normal party-pagan band has quite friendly, shiny cover artworks, that indicates the happiness they offer with their music. Concerning the artwork of Ocean of Asura, it’s quite clear that they play something different, something black metal. In fact, the six Chinese combine symphonic black metal with some death metal influences and even chiptunes are appearing on the EP. The record contains three songs and two additional, instrumental versions of them with a total playing time of round about half an hour.

The title track starts with a mixture of synthesizer sounds and a marching tune on the snare drum, until the guitars kick in. The sound is quite familiar, and could be compared to the german Sycronomica and this impression is enhanced when the vocals are kicking in.

The sound is a thicket consisting of multiple layers of synthesizer sounds (and therefore some chiptunes, at least at times), thick layers of guitar sounds, thundering drums and of course the typical black metal vocals. The bass is really audible when it’s playing some melodic licks but it’s really subtle in the majority of time. You have to say, without any doubt, that the synthesizer sounds are defining the mood as well as the general structure/melodies on Ocean Of Asura. The song structures are quite straight forward, although there are some really calm and lighter passages breaking through at times, which guarantees enough variation. The general atmosphere is majestic, epic and powerful without being oppressive or cold. The intro of the second song is, especially in contrast to the first song, quite strange, as it could have been the title song of some american series, but it still fits on the record. This intro settles a calm, sunny mood but this is destroyed when the growled vocals and harsh guitars are kicking in, which turn the song into a nearly brutal disaster.

The whole song seems to be badly thought-out and fragmented, which disturbs the listening pleasure (but the 8-bit version of it is really really cool). The third song also has some minor problems (for instance quite strange, shouted vocals), but all in all you have to say, that the Chinese know what they are doing on Ocean Of Asura. The songs are streaked with several variations of the main themes and smaller passages which offer something different (for instance calmer tunes etc.), so that none of the songs gets boring. The production is powerfull and well balanced, so that even the passages in which all of the instruments are playing are nice to hear.

Conclusion:

Everything has been said. Screaming Saviour are a quite interesting band, and I’m more than anxious how their next full-length output will sound. The mixture of symphonic black metal, some smaller death metal passages and chip tunes is really well done and quite refreshing. The songs are full of variation and although they are quite straight-forward they never get boring. The two instrumental versions of track number one and two are a nice bonus and especially the 8-bit version is really worth listening to. Some points of criticism are there as well, for instance the strange intro of the second song, the screams in the third one or the similiarities to bands like Sycronomica, but all of them are quite minor.
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Written for http://threnodies.com

Epic melodic black metal with a power metal touch - 92%

kluseba, February 10th, 2012

Screaming Savior are a quite talented and intriguing symphonic black metal band from Shanghai that deliver a strong output with this little EP that contains three regular tracks and two instrumentals that show how detailed and rich the band's compositions are. While the first instrumental is truly epic and would fit to the score of any pirate movie, the second one has a slightly electronic touch and shows a different side of the band.

Nowadays, there are way too many bands that sing about pirates but this here is not your usual stereotypical party folk music that you still can yell after a bottle of rum. The three regular tracks we have here are epic and symphonic and develop a very majestic atmosphere without sounding too overloaded as many other popular melodic black metals bands such as Dimmu Borgir or Cradle Of Filth do. There are keyboards in the opening and closing passages but the melodic guitars, the powerful drums, the pumping bass guitar and the great vocals that vary between crispy spoken word passages, energizing screams and well done shouts where you can even understand the lyrics that are mostly performed in Mandarin. This language fits strangely well to the music and could easily please to any fan of great symphonic black metal around the world.

The band has also a distinguished style by the fact that they use almost no blast beat passages and that their music is rather slow even when they vary a lot. The music has clear structure and is easy to follow. This small record is much more about and entertaining aesthetic than about brutality and depression. Those who prefer depressive or brutal black metal should stay away from this. The band's atmosphere sometimes even reminds me of Scandinavian melodic metal bands such as Amorphis, Turisas or even the famous Children Of Bodom. This fusion of these two very opposite styles is what makes this band so interesting in my opinion. The melodic guitar solos could also come from a decent power metal act which is very interesting. Let's add that each of the three songs has a gripping passage. They are unique enough to sound diversified but similar enough to create a great flow and make you want to hear more. The songs are all equally great in their own way so that I don't want to point anyone out of them.

It's quite hard to get an album of the band outside of Asia but I will try my very best to purchase their upcoming record that features at least the great title track of this little record and I recommend you to do the same if you happen to like this.