Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Iconoclast vs Dedicated to Chaos

Two new albums from supposed leaders in the genre of progressive metal, and to be honest both are little bit of a let down. Granted in this debate there is going to be a slight bias as i am a huge Queensryche fan however there most recent effort , though the term should be use loosely as to the amount of effort put into the song writing seems slim, so i could argue that i am going be harsher on the Ryche as i expect more from them. Symphony has the bar held pretty high you would think after paradise lost and if we put these two albums head to head on a metal forum board , the edge would go to them because it is heavier and an actual metal album where it would be harder to label Queensryche's new as metal. Though it's not a wimpy as i was lead to believe by the rather Foreigner sounding single.
I can say both Allen and Tate both sound less than inspired in the vocal delivery, though Allen' gruffer tone allows him to get away with it . His higher register stalls out never soaring as it's capable and Tate never really gets off the ground from a croon. So lets hear from the prosecution who lays the same charge against both bands , to be so -called progressive both albums feel like a regression , neither break's ground i would call progress or moving their sound forward. in some ways i question the economy coming into play on this , do they feel if they don't take a middle of the road approach they are going to shake the boat ? Granted Symphony x is winning out here as along as they stay heavy a certain metal head fan base is going to stick by that . But i have had a problem listening to this album because all the songs sound the same , and even though it's heavier it's boring song writing , the only progressive elements are the solo sections, so you have keyboard solos to go along with your guitar solos , i guess this is all it takes to be prog these days, some one should call up Robert Fripp and let him know. They had chops on paradise lost so i know it's possible for these guys to be more engaging , but it really sounds like Russell singing Nevermore Karaoke. As many times as i have tried to get into this album, the sogs run together and become a blah .
Quneesryche 's lyrical content is as bad as the new morbid angel's, though served with a plentiful side of cheese , i like the american soldier album , not their most crowning achievement even the cover album had it's moments nd the lyrics on the new symphony x are nothing to write home about either . to be honset this isn't the first time the ryche has wimped out , do you remember an album called Empire ? i think the difference here is the execution in song writing, you can't say the same level of pink floyd plagiarism, there is a riff holding some similarities to fame by david bowie, and at times comes across like robert palmer's rip tide album for reasons i can't place, after listening to the album , i recall there were six songs i thought i could pass for queensryche , though none of the songs are what i would think of as classics ryche in the least .but those six songs are listenable , the more commercial stabs solicited as singles are plain terrible, wot we do and some other power balled i tried to forgot . the chorus' on iconoclast are only slightly less cheesy, while in the minds of a large percent of metal heads can be sold on heavy alone i think iconoclst might slight in that regard , i guess i have until october to see if dedicated to chaos has grown on me, it didn't make the cut to deserve a download onto my ipod so that is a shaky proposition - fans of bland nevermore ish stuff will dig it and continue to swell there popularity with the mall crowd.
in wrestling it would be called a double dis qualification both bands were counted out of the ring for boring me

In solitude - the world , the flesh, the devil

King Diamond/ Merciful fate is one of my favorite musical entities , so when i band get praised as being the second coming of fate or a singer gets compared to king diamond , you have my attention . the devil is getting his due these days as the current retro trend seems to be tipping of the hooded robe to Fate these days , with Ghost in the fore front of this .
While the influence can be heard as In solitude singer launches into a similar mid range moan, absent is King Diamond's soaring falsetto, and truth be told the guy from Ghost doesn't pull it off either , the phrasing of the melodies also wear the king's influence but over all - the riffing is much more maiden, the guitar hit harder than i expected it too, some death growls creep in but are restrained, the soloing is proficient while derivative , i find myself listening to find where the bands personality comes through and it seems to more on the harder galloping sections , which border on thrash. these remain so slavish devoted to the time period they are trying to recapture it plays as both their strength and their weakness. While it sell the over the top serpents are rising chorus , it also cause the songs to start to sound the same , a little more texture and variance could set the songs apart.
At the end of the day when it comes to a blast from the past i would much rather ;listen to these guys than Toxic Holocaust , up against , i would have to give Ghost the upper hand in the song writing and having their own personality while giving a wink at their influences . Poisoned , Blessed and Burned is song to give a listen to on this album as all their strong suits fire to kill here , the slower intro , the punches and guitar flourishes work their best . If you want more head banging and less art then this album will make you happy and who knows it might keep growing on me i have only listened to it all the way through a couple times so they jury is still out on what kind of staying power it has .

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Talking bout False

while /www.thatsnotmetal.com is funny , the pedestal the purveyor of this blog sets is pretty high as he decides what metal is and isn't and calls people out for being false like a troll on blabbermouth ...which i am all in favor of . However reading a post on how he discovered metal , i was shocked to hear it was through watching the tv show Ecw Wrestling as an adolescent which would put him between 13 and 19 - tires screech to a halt so going into high school this means you weren't listening to metal ? huh????
i think most ten year olds have a pretty good grasp of what music is and what kind they like - by ten i liked ozzy, kiss, alice cooper , iron maiden, grim reaper and motley crue... you see it was the summer of 1985 right after my 10th birthday that i found out what selling out was when motley crue put out an album call theater of pain and proceeded to stink up the place and open the door for a band of copy cats called poison to further drag the standard down. the imagine of motley crue in pink was wiped out of my mind with in a month when i watched a live broad cast of a re-united black sabbath preform at live -aid . i had waited by the tv all morning for them to come on, so please tell me what metal is.
By the time i was in the 9th grade i had a different king diamond shirt to wear every day of the week and my hair down my back.
which means in 1992 you were listening to rump shaker or pearl jam at best, obviously beavis and butthead was on tv which had tons of metal on it as well as a show called head bangers ball which if you did not watch that while it was on the air ...i think the poseurs are over their listening to high on fire and being ironic as they grow mustaches.
but hey its the internet we can be what ever we wan on here right ??

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Forgotten Tomb/ Shining

doing a two in one review here , for a few different reasons, lets just say the 2011 releases from these two bands are in the same neighborhood, even though one band is from Italy the other from Sweden. They in the past have shared a drummer but earlier work from both bands set them apart from one another where here The similarities are more pronounced , particularly strange as both bands have taken a stylistic shift .
Lets start with the opening act Forgotten Tomb and their release "Under Saturn Retrograde." Both albums have migrated from the Depressive Suicidal Black Metal sound into something more straight forward. Forgotten Tomb straddled the fence from Funeral Doom to Dsbm, the doom presence takes a back seat except in a few instances when they do the most noticeable difference in style occurs , like the clean vocals on the song shutter , which carry a bluesy almost Corrosion of Conformity feel.
Forgotten Tomb i'm not sure they benefit from this progression as much as Shining, their guitar work for me always stood out , and perhaps it's the production but the tight compression on the guitar marks a more run of the mill distortion, when complimented with the chugs and pitch harmonics , it seems like a step back. The drummers use of his china cymbal, feels more like a cowbell and also give them a more rock n roll sound.
The strong suits of the album wrestle against questionable choices like the cover of " i wanna be you dog " . Joyless makes up for this with it's Type o Negative vocals , though the rock n roll vibe picks up midway through, making me miss some of the creepy chords of the earlier material. Not sure if this is a move responding to label to expand their audience base. The playing despite the production is strong, the guitars get interesting enough at times to make me forget the straying from drew me to this band in the first place. the part two of the recaptures some of their earlier ambiance with the inclusion of the mournful acoustic guitar building into a melodic lead section.
This is by no means a bad album, there are certain more commercial aspects of some of the riffing taking on an almost arena rock tone at time that raises my eyebrows, but i'm sure i will get over it, and it is yet to be seen if it's one of the releases i grow into.
while embracing what could be seen as more commercial elements Shining's Fodd Forlorare, or born loser is still pretty dense, the riff have not only hooks but claws. The album seems angrier than depressed . Strangely even months after this album's release, the band was already in talks with King Diamond guitarist to produce this album's follow up. A big difference in my ears to Forgotten Tomb's nipping at their heels, is the more effective use of clean vocals, they stay consistently melancholy and i think bring back the eerie desperation of earlier days better than the harsher ones which sound more pissed than tortured. the clean vocals on one track are sung by Haken Hilman of Nordman, a band which broke up due to Haken's drug problem but have since reformed, one has to wonder if Niklas Kvarforth met him in rehab , or perhaps the swedish drug scene is closely knit among the rockers.
The tempo has picked up for this album , a direction they have been headed for the past couple releases. there is a enough dynamic shifts on this album to justify this. Where other black metal bands might rely on this as the reins to their one trick pony.The drumming catches up on this album to being as impressive as the guitar work , even the bass player shows some nice melodic embellishments, unique in a genre where bass is buried in the murk of guitar.
Like forgotten tomb, the polished production takes away from the density of their sound yet, with the varied sounds and passages on this one it's not as noticeable i like the cinematic keyboard mix, they are present with out turning the band into Nightwish. One thing i can say for this album is i enjoy it more every time i give it another spin

Friday, July 1, 2011

From Exile -Monolith

Atlanta Band From Exile, you may have heard of via Metal Sucks , as they have connections to Daath, me i have seen there name around but , to be honest most local bands in Atlanta don't have alot of personality to their music , i'm sure this is the case in any town and what separates most bands from the pros , that and hard work , persistence, marketing smarts , money etc ...
so i was surprised when they caught my ear, while they recently put out and album of nine inch nails covers featuring emil wrestler , from what i heard of it didn't really do much for me , so i am going to review Monolith, last years release
They fall into progressive metal in a similar sense that more recent Mastodon does, the chops are a little in the department of an aspiring Dream Theater, where Mastodon is prog by way of Neurosis .
They aren't by any means as heavy as Mastodon, but their songs flow seamless together with a little more ease, Listening to their cd on my Ipod straight through the first three songs seem to be one, the guitar is the stand out throughout , the bass is way down in the mix i have to really open my ear to search for it .
Exhumed stands out as it get heavier here , the vocals come in as well, the are clean and heavily effected , they get props for being original , Porcupine Tree or Newer Ulver is the only comparisons that come to mind. The keyboards are more present in the mix than the bass helping to float into the fifth songs Veritas.
The common theme i find myself returning to while listening , is how fluid every thing moves from one change to another , the arrangements are really their strong point as the music is melodic , it is not hooky, but is like a musical stream floating by me easy listening for metal heads perhaps .
I want to check these guys out live imagine from this album there might be a more jam bandy feel. The guitar harmonies are strong, not as acrobatic as Iron Maiden but once again fluid around each other, the sound is full yet there is alot of room.
If i had any complaint its more of an energetic or esoteric one. The music feels very bright , sure they have a skull on the cover but thats about as creepy as it get , even on the slower almost doomy break, in their heart of hearts this is not the emotional catharsis you get from most metal , there hearts aren't in the heavy, the energy i get from these guys is not that they have had a hard road and done alot of drugs , but that could be said of alot of bands in this genre. If they were and alignment in dungeons and dragons they would be lawful neutral where most metal i listen to is chaotic evil, would say king diamond and ghost would be lawful evil. but alignment aside, this album flows easily to my ears and is more ambitious than most atlanta metal, now if they got hooked on drugs or black magic they might really be onto something but perhaps they are just young and pure of heart . when it comes to metal in the long run i would fault them for that. So i see them perhaps evolving into something else, but in this stage they are worth checking out if you like easy shredding.