Oz Mosh 2005 Compilation

From down under in Australia, Soundmass hits us with this compilation of hard music from the continent that has brought us bands such as Virgin Black, Horde, Paramaecium, Mortification, and others.  This disc is divided into three parts:  1. The current music scene in Australia, 2. The bands that paved the way, and 3. A video clip by Virgin Black. 

Truthfully, most of the newer bands that I hadn't heard before didn't impress me much.  The opening band Coma has those industrialized metal guitars with some pretty good industrialized vocals, but the screamed/cleanly sung vocals during the chorus were very annoying.  Kinda ruined any chance of me enjoying the song.  The band did re-gain some points by including some growling vocals later in the song.  The next band, Soilgrain, has more of a rap-rock feel to them that was an immediate turn-off.  They also laid on a heavy dose of the treble that made it difficult to enjoy the musical aspects of the song.  They did have some decent screamed vocals though.  The quality of these "newer" bands that I'm hearing for the first time here starts to go up with the bands Paradise Burning and Slain of Myself.  Both of them reside in the metalcore side of music (which is not my favorite), but both do it quite well.  Slain of Myself reminds me of Aletheian at times when they use death vocals.

Track six is where the better music starts to kick in.  Virgin Black hits us with their song, "And the Kiss of God's Mouth, Part 2".  Their mix of metal, goth, and doom is both breathtaking and beautiful, yet amazingly powerful.  This is easily the best band I've ever heard from Australia.  The passion that invades every second of their art is incredible.  If only more bands poured their all into their music as Virgin Black does.  Next up is Mortification, with it's song "Too Much Pain" off their new album Brain Cleaner.  Mort is probably one of the more well-known Australian bands due to many aspects...their long history, their internationally popular albums Scrolls of the Megilloth and Post Momentary Affliction, their association in the past with Nuclear Blast and Metal Blade Records, their multiple worldwide tours, Steve Rowe's successful battle with leukemia, and Rowe's extreme outspokeness in recent years regarding the watering down of "Christian metal".  As for the song, it's more of a return to the death metal roots that originally made the band so popular.  While not as good as their older material, "Too Much Pain" is a step back in the right direction for Rowe and company.  After Mort comes Paramaecium...who's first two albums featured former Mortification drummer, Jayson Sherlock.  Paramaecium's first album, Exhumed of the Earth, has become a classic, not only in "Christian metal" circles, but also with metal fans that usually wouldn't dare listen to music made by Christians.  This song, "My Failing Heart", is off of the band's 2004 album Echoes from the Ground...their first album since 1999.  Andrew Tompkins shows here that he still has the ability to write great doom metal.  The song includes mesmerizing yet brutal guitars and a mixture of growling male vocals and beautiful, clean female vocals.  Next up is one of the newer bands on Rowe Productions...Fearscape.  The band shows some good promise with an aggressive sound that contains many Opeth influences.  While no where close to being in the league of Opeth, they show here that they have some good chops.

The second part of the album includes many bands that "paved the way" for the more current Australian bands.  Included here are Kohllapse's fantastic song "Contort" off of their Distant Mind Alternative album, Mortification's powerful death/grind classic "Terminate Damnation", and "Inverted the Inverted Cross" from the most controversial Australian band ever...Horde.  While many people now know the identity of the lone member of the black metal band Horde, the amount of people that don't after over 10 years is pretty amazing.  The member of Horde named himself "Anonymous" and the release of the album on Nuclear Blast Records resulted in death threats on the unknown member of the band along with the label themselves.  The album, Hellig Usvart, has become one of the classics in "Christian metal" and the Nuclear Blast version of the album still fetches good amounts on Ebay.  There is also a song by Steve Rowe's old melodic metal band, Lightforce, but I never really could get into that band and really don't consider them a band that "paved the way" unless you take into their consideration that they were the early incarnation of Mortification.  The final part of this disc is the video for the Virgin Black song, "Our Wings are Burning".  The video is just the band standing there playing, but the song is so awesome that I could care less.

If you are the proud owner of all the CD's of the more popular bands on this release, you probably won't get too much out of the newer bands.  If you are not that familiar with Australian hard music, this could be a good place to start as it contains many artists from various genres.  You're bound to like at least one of the bands.  Another big positive is obviously the inclusion of the Virgin Black video.  That alone would be worth the price of the disc for fans of the band.

Overall, this is a decent compilation that includes some excellent bands and some not-so-excellent bands.  The production is pretty consistent throughout and the artwork, while very simple, includes website info for all that bands on the comp....although I couldn't get a few of their sites to work.  You can order this CD at http://www.soundmass.com

Rating: 77/100

Review By: Matt Morrow

Label: Soundmass

Total Songs: 14 (plus one video)

Total Time: 72:36

Tracklisting: 1. Coma - Never, 2. Soilgrain - ReDirection, 3. Paradise Burning - Breath of Life, 4. Slain of Myself - Now's Your Time, 5. three times fire - Hypocrite, 6. Virgin Black - And the Kiss of God's Mouth, Part 2, 7. Mortification - Too Much Pain, 8. Paramaecium - My Failing Heart, 9. Fearscape - War Prayer, 10. Sheep - Sacrifice, 11. Kohllapse - Contort, 12. Lightforce - Mystical Thieves, 13. Mortification - Terminate Damnation, 14. Horde - Invert the Inverted Cross, 15. Virgin Black - Our Wings are Burning (video).

Best Songs: Tracks 6, 8, 11, 13, and 14.

Band Lineup: N/A

Band Website: http://www.soundmass.com