Friday, September 28, 2012

Enslaved: Riitiir

Perhaps in Bergen gps doesn't work when you find yourself lost in a forest of Porcupine Trees. This is particularly discouraging considering how high my expectations were for the new Enslaved. It is not news to long time readers that I would hold this album to meticulous scrutiny considering Enslaved has been one of my favorite metal bands. But it took little examination to hear they need to give Steve Wilson his guitar back and find the eq setting they used on "vertebrae".

On their full length album I was prepared to stop calling them a black metal band, the "sleeping gods" e.p helped me come to that conclusion and here the ship to Sweden has long set sail. I'm not being the cvlt police here, I was fine with the more progressive turn which in truth took place all the way back in 97 with "eld" though I think "isa" is where their current sound took root. On the messages boards I have read people telling me
" oh don't worry they are heavy again."

This statement is untrue...unless you don't know what heavy is, in that case of listen to the new Winterfylleth or the last Taake album. Enslaved in all fairness is to relying on heaviness when they wrote these riffs but tempering it with more melodic finesse. So it's not their approach that's the problem here, but based off their body of work both the song writing and the drumming on this one are lazy. Then times when they do revert back into blasty mcnasty are not delivered with conviction because the guitar tone is so thin.

This is my initial reaction to my first listen, I'm going to keep the album playing as I write and maybe it will grow on me. There is the possibility that from when I started listening to these guys seven years ago I have progressed into a need for darker and colder black metal like a junkie who is chasing the dragon. So its possible this is a totally acceptable Enslaved album and just sounds wispy washy and middle of the road to my blackened ear drums. So the only way to test this is to give a closer listen so we are going to break it down track by track.

Thoughts like hammers ... The opening thirty seconds of chaos makes you think shit about to break loose and then they trudge into a riff that's more vicodin than Viking. It breaks up into something a little more kinetic and they do get ambitious and go into a few different places on this one leaving me confused as to if this is a good song or just a few cools parts creating a smoke screen. When the double bass comes in this albums mix doesn't do it an justice. After repeat listens this song did grow on me but didn't blow me away.

Death in the eyes of Dawn...blends in from the first song though I like it better as its darker and creepier even if there's some recycled Tool riffs going on. Bassist Grutle Kjellson has expanded upon his croaks encompassing a wider spectrum of grunts to help create the spookiness in that dept. the clean vocals handled by the keyboardist have even more of an Akerfeldt feel to them.

Veil burner...has a little more of a stomp to it the drums pick up pace in the chorus but a very straight ahead in delivery , which for the progressive element dominating Enslaved's sound they could do more to compliment it. Three minutes into this one and it's boring until the very Opeth guitar breakdown, despite it's tempo it comes across as very generically them.

Roots of the mountain ...the blast surfaces here, but the guitar sound is so thin and obscured by key boards that it's effect is diminished, the clean vocal melody actually comes in and saves the song. The modulation in the guitar helps when the blast returns and the guitar solos on here are all foot on the monitor masterpieces. At the four minute mark I was sold on where they were going so when the bass break happened I forgot I had heard it the first time around so that's a good thing on their end. It gets king crimson by way of Opeth. The harsh vocals before the final three minutes almost remind me they use to be black metal. They really begin to find the court of the crimson king all on their own by the end.

Riitiir...the drummer wakes up at the songs start. They go into a trademark shuffled gallop, with the keyboardist vocals doing what they doesn't set the harsh vocals up as they fall into the comfort zone here. The lyrics are the first discernible ones I have heard sound like cast offs from the secondside of "power slave" . The chanted back ground vocals before the guitar shift are cool and the last minute of this one is all around rocking.

Materal...has a very Alice in chains beginning , just with out the harmonies, the harsher chorus like section is no surprise but not so color by numbers that it offends my ears. The harsh vocals here even prove capable of being some what hooky. Check off anthemic guitar solo . This song is pretty fun. the last minute of this song has the first decent guitar tone on the album as well.

Storm of memories...proggy from the word go, the bass playing on this album is much improved. This intro turns into a rather indulgent jam until the song kicks in blasty at the three minute mark. At one part it sounds like he croaks..the unicorn is sacraficed ...which would rule , then it gets typical good cop bad cop on the vocal trade off. While it got an impressive start this song kind gets boring even though the drumming improves here, but the tremolo picking and blasts here feel like trying to jack hammer fuck with a half limp dick.

Forsaken...weird piano intro, this songs has a much better sound not sure why the entire album wasn't mixed with these levels. I like this song even though the riff at the two minute mark instead my favorite I like the punch after that part. The drumming gets a needed pick me up to restore my faith. The space keyboard break lingers a little long but what what follows is the albums only real black metal moment. It's too short lived before going into a melancholy vocal section where the song glumly dissolves as an outro but it works for me.

So this album gets an 8, so keeping with this weeks theme of setting the bar an 8 eight is the highest score an otherwise great ban scan reach when they just dial in their song writing and have a weak guitar tone, though this might seem high when you take those factors into consideration , this is a band you expects a ten from, but may grow on me if you are going to just get overly excited by the fact this is an Enslaved album and not really listen to go ahead and add a point.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Satan's Wrath: Galloping Blasphemy

I'm all for representing the left hand path, the heavy handed cheese with which it's delivered here takes me back to Venom albums of the eighties so the sincerity with which it's delivered with is questionable. Former Electric Wizard bassist Tas Danazolou kisses the goat here and this brings a little confusion as Electric Wizard were from England but this band is billed as being from Greece?

What this album has that early Venom doesn't is prowess, there is more of a thrash vibe to the riffing, where Venom pounded at their instruments in a vein similar to Motörhead, both both bands I felt sat closer to punk. The vocal delivery is not unlike more growled version of Cronos's delivery. The confusion continues as I wonder who is the Leonard referred to in the night of the whip, that opens the album is this Leonard Nimoy bdsm fan fiction? It's fairly straight forward with liberal smatterings of guitar solos proceeding the songs closing gallop.

The Merciful Fate tribute shades the intro to " between Belial and Satan" before the song takes off old school thrash speed. The drums are slavish in their devotion to the lowest common denominator snare snapping of the time period they adore. The guitar is the clear cut winner here .

The gallop of "one thousand goats" is a bestial anthem if not a beastiality anthem, its this more mid paced riff age that the drummer seems most comfortable playing. The solos are melodic here and tasteful, if not at times "kill'em all" Metallica like, which Metallica isn't like that anymre, they only thing with a lot of this retro stuff is I grew up in the eighties so I heard all of this the first go round, while on metal blade records now back in the days these guys would have been on ear ache records for sure.

This vein of melodic Venom thrash, continues on " hail tritons , hail lucifer" and the satanic lyrics as well as the guitar playing is what keeps me on board. When the pace picks up for the title track, which isn't as galloped the goat song , but has some Maiden like harmonic guitar and gets very " To tame a land" . So the gruff vocals obscure some of the new wave of British heavy metal influences. There are a few phrases where I hear Possessed or Coroner in the vocals, though the have decidedly less personality than the vocals of Coroner. While a decent song " death possessed" bleeds right out of the title track, it begins to make me feel like I'm starting to hear a lot of the same from these guys.

In the albums final streach they are hiding any surprises, what I can say I like about this is where a lot of retro thrash are punk rock kids who figured out how to play their instruments, these songs are firmly planted in metal. I think there could be a little more though placed outside the box and the too straight forward route is often taken for my tastes, when some of the ambiance is what makes an album like " don't break the oath" so great and the vocal hooks are what made early Metallica stand out and come to think of it worked for Venom pretty well. Just thrashing for thrashing on the song like "slaves of the inverted cross" pretty much bores me and there nothing the lyrics or guitar solo can do to help. The uninitiated in this genres glory days might be more easily impressed so if you a re under twenty five add a point to this album.

The song " Satans wrath" is catchy wnought to redeem a few of the lulls and could have fooled me that it wasn't on one of the best of combat records compilations from back in the day, the vocals very Venom could still stand to be higher in the mix due to the anthemic nature of the riffs. Too bad this song wasn't the blue print for the whole album, or they might have even blown bands like In Solitude away. Buti think a 6.66 is a fair rating the band should stand behind as they have to know the influences are worn heavily as the metal on their sleeves here. So where Circle of Ouroborus set the standard of how high you can score on here with shitty production these guys scored as high as you can relying on satanic lyrics to obscure the fact there's not any original riffing , so the key is to believe in the riffs you have stolen, making this highway robbery on the highway to hell.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Winterfylleth : the Therenody of Triumph

With October already upon us it is fitting to review and band who goes by the Old English name for the month. Though this is the third album by these guys, it's my first listen and I gotta say they caught me by surprised with their ferocity and foeward thinking take on black metal. It goes to show how deceptive the labels and sub genres we attach to bands can be. I had heard this band called both pagan and folk black metal and I think the black metal part is the only adjective. I suppose there are some elements of garnish which might in a broad of of broad sword might justify the pagan label, if mlyrical content and the rare symphonic interlude make you Primordial, which in this instance is not the case.

There is far more blasty mcnasty here than any frolicking around the may pole. If you read my reviews on a regular basis then you know blast beats alone only go so far with me before I require dynamic substance, Winterfylleth passes this criteria with flying colors even though the tend to bring it with a fast fury. The first impression was these guys were as faster Moonsorrow, they are much meaner and don't rely on the epic gallop to Stonehenge. The use of the sonic half time break down comes into play on songs like " void of light" but is effective rather than a check off the old post Dark Throne riffs to hit check list for modern black metal.

The majority of the vocals are harsly screamed mid range, with the occasional tankard of ale swinging chorus,rousing a song here and there. The is some variance with a lower death like growl rumbling up from the bowels of the diaphragm. The vocals are more of an abrasive layer glazing the music than the focal point with the lyrics unintelligible but if you are a fan of black metal then its part and parcel, as the guitars carry the melodies soaring out from the majestic attack.

The precise assault of the drumming is one of this albums strong points which propels it forward with unrelenting power throughout. The bass is audible and makes an effort to stand apart from the guitar which is a rare treat for a black metal band as the genre as a whole tends to lose the bass in the tremolo picked chaos. The guitar playing is proficient and plays to the songs, no solos or show boating.

Is this the most original music to come out this year no, but for this brand of ripping black metal I think they deserve credit for acknowledging the fact other music has co e out after Windir. There sonic palate leans even towards bands like Krallice, who invoke a hypnotic drone in their maelstroms. When really digging into repeat listens to try and score this thing I begin to notice the formula, blast on you for the first half of the song then switch it up my with one of the ale swilling refrains and swell out on a sonicscape. This generally work thoungh the blink and you'll miss it tempos can make it hard to tell if the songs have just bled into one another at times'leading the album to become a back ground drone at times.

The more dynamic drones of etheric splendor they hit on a song like " a soul unbound" make up for the songs where they rely too much perhaps on the blur of the mcnasties. It's in a song like this where they are devoid of all ties to anything pagan, folk or otherwise Stonehenge. Not that there are really any dwarves endangered of being trampled any where on this album.

The two instrumental interludes I'm not including when I score the album as they wont make it to my iPod , in listening to the album all the way through they give a breather so I get that maybe they could have been worked into the actual songs similar to the end of the title track , but it's not an instance where I see it becoming a distraction from my listening experience.

After repeat listens I feel pretty good giving this thing an eight, the albums strengths are on the other side it's weakness , ferocity and velocity can be a great weapon to pummel your head into banging or at times can make everything at that tempo begin to sound too familiar. If you like fast black metal with texture and a modern take on being cvltness from across the pond then this album is worth your time .

Monday, September 24, 2012

Circle of Ouroborus:Abrahadabra

It's not often that I run across music, that causing me to flee to the inner webs because I don't know what to make of it. Well this Finnish Duo has done just that. I suppose some of this is the band is or has been presented as a black metal project when what we have here is clearly cvltish lo fi death rock.

Their tenth full length, which leaves me guessing the other nine albums were closer to being black metal. This is a duo consisting of Atvar who is the multi-instrumentalist who sets the back ground for the howling moan of Antti Klemi. Even though this is their tenth full length the project has a slew of e.p.s and splits, the day this full length came out they also released an e.p., who knows it could be sheer blasty mcnasty. This was released as a 12" vinyl, so these guys are perfecting the art of underground.The other significant sign of this is the very re-verb heavy lo fi quality of this recording. The recording gives the guitar an organic coldness. the keyboard and drum mix are the only element where the recording suffers and even there it gives it a certain ambiance as everything else is oddly placed. All this and we haven't gotten to the music yet.

I'd guess the singer is really into Death In June, but his voice only gets the feel and point across and never goes it the type of croon that propels Death In June's music. While the vocals set it apart not just from being a black metal band but give the songs as a whole a desperate personality. Some times he is more in key than others, and while he isn't gifted with range or power to speak, he has a unique quality to his voice, sometimes like if Ian Curtis was fucked up and bleating like ship, that was so depressed it wanted to lay in the pasture and die.

While the songs have some drive to them much more than Death in June, I wouldn't say it's necessarily heavier than Christian Death, which is where we get into lumping them in with death rock bands. There are moments like on the song "these days and years to kill" where the guitar gets heavier but it's oddly placed in the background so it loses the punch. Maybe that was intended. I'm assuming the shitty production was meant to be for it gives everything a murky My Bloody Valentine feeling especially the keyboards which I can't tell if they are recorded backwards or not.

While always steam of consciousness, Sometimes the melodies are more focused than others. On "the six hands" they wander around in the sonic swirl surrounding them.If I was told this was recorded on a 4 track in a hotel bathroom while they were detoxing from a heroin binge, I woulda heir not blink.

The keyboard album waltzes between giving it a shoe-gaze quality and folk element. the folk vibe comes from the choice of interval , that sound like a trippy pan flute at times.On first listen to the opener " conspiracy it , served as as a distraction to how sloppy the drums are, which stood out out on subsequent listens.This lack of technical execution does mar the experience , as I cant help but think what it might sound like if preformed with more proficiency.

The bands lo-fi aesthetic works best at maximum sonic density . When the murky murmur of sound obscures some of crude drums sounds, a song like "remembrance" is a good example of this as is oozes like filth through a haunted sewer. The guitar melodies is a shadow shifting behind the fuzz. The flaws are exposed when the songs have to much space ns leve the drumming naked for scrutiny. Though the drums sound fine on the very My Bloody
Valentine cascade of " like silent meadows" which is one of the most effective marriages of death rock and shoe gaze. So the old saying a band is only as good as their drummer
doesn't apply here.

The fact the vocals are more chants than melodies also grows on you by the end of the album and they remind me of genesis p Orridge. By the time I got to "dementia praecox" I was wishing this has made its way into a real studio, but in that process would it have lost some of its identity? While the only thing I really have to compare this to would be old Pyschic Tv, I recall their albums have more clarity and they were recorded in the nineties, but maybe that's the point and I'm just missing it , so while I love the idea and where they are trying to go with this the production quality is almost on the level of a boom box band practice recording, so it plays against them when it came time for me to try and score this, so the weight of its score is based on originality vs execution, so I have to rate this a 7.5 which sets the bar for how high you can score on herewith horrid production.

Friday, September 21, 2012

That Metal Show : the King Diamond episode

Couldn't pass up the chance to discuss the appearence of my favorite metal entity on Vh1 Classic . I haven't covered the show on here before because while I find it entertaining it is hardly metal as the name suggests the hardest band to get mentioned is Slayer so a huge expanse of what makes up the genre is neglected. I understand giving the classics the deserved air time but why waste the time of a metal show with the likes of Journey , Sammy Hagar and Poison?

The King showed up sans make up which is nothing new for him in the past decade , when his solo career was in its peak around the "conspiracy" years he stayed in character, now well...
Regardless it was good to see him get the notice due him as in recent years his influence of metal has gained more visibility. His health and surgery was discussed and the host baited him into discussion about his beliefs, which he sidestepped. Another change over the years where he was out in the open about his membership to the church of Satan, and while I can understand his desire to not be the poster boy for the church of Satan, I would prefer him to take a little more of a stance rather than coming across as almost apologetic and on one hand pandering by saying he is ok with whatever anyone believes , then letting statements come out side ways like how religion has been the cause of wars of the years, it seems like his pr people have him straddling the fence a little.

To make matters worse Mark the guitarist from Creed was on the show and being apologetic and down playing his beliefs and trying to make out like he was a huge King Diamond and Slayer fan. An odd paring but back in the day magazines would run Stryper vs Slayer stories, which gave metal a little more mystique, though I will admit in my late teen years getting rid of my slayer cassetttes after finding out Slayer were not real satanists.

So King did take some veiled shots at religion in general he kept it vanilla . Though he was stuck to his beliefs over the years despite being less vocal about them evenin his lyrical content , though the stage layout for his two European festival performances played up this imagery and why not considering how huge black metal is .

King said he foresees putting out three more albums,and touring next summer, all of which are good news, though I doubt we will see him on a production scale he had at Hellfest, but you take what you can get, the bright side is the moron from Volbeat wont's jump on stage.

Interesting enough as I was looking for a picture of the king on the show, i found this quote from the shows host Eddie Trunk pm regards to how he really feels about the King " There are certainly artists that I’ve had on that I wasn’t the biggest fan of, but I will have them on or play their music because that’s what the audience wants. I’ll say that on the air. A great example is Mercyful Fate and King Diamond. I was never a fan of the band. I can’t get past the vocals. I appreciate the musicianship, but I could never get into the vocals and the whole thing that he’s about. But I play King Diamond or Mercyful Fate on a regular basis because a larger portion of my audience wants to hear it than doesn't."

So he can't get past great dynamic metal singing ? He likes Rob Halford granted Rob has a more commercial rock vibe to his vocals and is less theatrical than King. So what is the whole thing he is about ? Satan? Horror? the Make up? He goes onto talk about how he likes Marilyn Manson, who is a Satanist as well and in fact has a lot of other elements in common with King, so this x-factor eludes me.

What it does do is confirms to me Trunk had horrible taste and any one who doesn't have an appreciation for King Diamond and considers themselves a metal head, is a fool whose words are empty on my ears. I wonder why he didn't bring this up to King when he was on the show? He certainly uses him to retain listeners and get ratings, not that King is an Ozzy for ratings by any means, and hovers on the outside of the mainstream and hold the respect of the metal community due to his immense influence on modern metal today.

how many times will I get the chance of posting pictures of myself in King Diamond make ? take what you can get.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Gathering : Disclosure

So by "How to Measure a Planet" we had conceded to the fact the Gathering were no longer a metal band and after initial listens to this one I went looking for my copy of "night time birds" which in hindsight left its fingerprints all over most to the melodramatic female front pop metal bands out now. "disclosure" marks the second album without Anneke van Giersbergen, and I can understand how this might be a sore spot for long time fans, "How to measure a planet" was the last album I remember buying by them , though it was during the drug years so I could have owned others, as I have been fleetingly familiar with their material after that point but have yet to give their new singer ... Who has been in the band now for 5 years so not new at this point ... a chance, so I went in this album pretending it came out after " How to measure...". In that context it still makes sense.

what I do like about it is there's a place in my iPod for melancholy pop music, I'm sure Sarah McLaughlin has put out something recently and I have yet to search for it, her older stuff makes me feel like I'm on an episode of Buffy so not sure why I haven't downloaded her back catalogue yet, and no Sarah is not on this new Gathering album but it sometimes feels like her music, with more emphasis on the band and not an over abundance of balladeer piano. Former Octavia Sperati singer Silje Wergeland, gives a much better nod to the bands legacy than the replacement singers for bands like Kamelot and Nightwish have.

The first song that made me look up from what I was doing and say " oh shit , I like that" was the song " Gemini I". The others tend to have a more subdued continuity to them. I do appreciate the mimickery Silje employs when sliding into her upper register though it has a more delicate pop sensibility to Anneke. In a lot of ways this album feels like " Night time birds" though it lacks distorted guitar and where that album made me think of the winter this feels more like a rainy November, but not in the Guns N roses way. Where "Night Time Birds" is an easier transition for a metal head to make I to this sort of fare and after going back to listen to it I think it's fair to say the album might have influenced Katatonia in some ways, though it has more majestic pre Nightwish moments and is significantly heavier than " disclosure".

Where Anneke once soared, Silje contemplates. Times change and I can see where this flavor of pop might fit on a brooding teen vampire drama. So approaching this as a separate entity, and long time fans are used to the changes so this album won't be a hard swallow.

While the album captures a certain mood through out some of the songs drift aimlessly in the grey clouds while others have more narrative purpose. Dynamically the third and fourth songs, are very similar but of the two " heroes for ghosts" actually goes some where. The subtle use of horn in the songs seconds half gives a different color sonically and when the distorted guitar comes in though hardly metal it creates a good dynamic balance.

Sure the song " missing seasons" is a moody estrogen release , it is a well written one with an endearing melody to it. So if you are writing music for teenage girls who hang out in know like Willow from Buffy , then this is the way to do it. Speaking of Sunnydale , most of these songs sound like they would be preformed at the bronze, as they have the late nineties alt rock feel.

The closing melody to "Gemini 2" had to grow on me as on the first few listens I was underwhelms and while it is very Sarah McLaughlin, who is a bigger influence on her than Anneke by far, though not to discredit her for doing the Gathering's legacy justice. Similar approach was made with " paralyzed " whose melody took some time to mesh with my ear drums, the " say my name..." hook stuck but where the point where the song floats off with out the benefit of being anchored by is pointless, but a closer listen to the song kept me from writing it off. So with much weighing the pros and cons of an album so heavily focused on one mood and that mood being decidedly unmetal I resigned my self to giving the album an 8 out of ten points, which I rounded down from a nine due to the flat range of mood button the albums credit the Gathering is very capable of the mood they do weave almost to a fault. I would recommend this album to fans of Katatonia recent non-metal years as well.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blut Aus Nord: Cosmosophy

One of the things we have loved about these French maniacs is the fact they are so experimental which has set them apart from other black metal bands, so what are we going think now their newest album finds them experimenting beyond the realms of black metal? This is the kind of change I'm fine because it is still yielding good music, it is darker and more ominous, the sense of Moros is conveyed more in the way of a doom metal band and the elephant in the room is going to be the clean vocals ,which I feel are not taking the easy way out and trying to sound like Enslaved , OPeth or ALcest much less any other number of extreme bands who have evolved out of the guttural screams.

Let's be honest as much as I love black metal , the wretched vocals give you a limited arensal to chose from. If you want to remain a metal, something OPeth did not want to do then there is an effective way to make this transition, if you would like an example I think I can offer this album as a fine example. They continue to do the weird here of naming their songs epitomes with aromas numeral following , so I'm just going to call the songs in the number they appear rather than what epitome they are.

The album gets a strong start with some really mournful guitar playing, it takes on an almost Jesu like feel.

The second song has a weird almost industrial intro somewhere in between Laibach and Skinny Puppy if Tricky got high and stumbled into the studio and started rapping in French and then busts into this big epic Borknagar type chords which was a little awkward and not the most effective use of an epitome

The vocals on the third song remind me of Robert Smith in their inflection and maybe the songs has a heavier cure sound if you mixed disintegration with pornography era Cure, but going through the Blut Aus Nord filter. If I played this song for my guitarist whose a huge cure fan I would instantly win him over , the song doesn't just goth out it builds into a very apocalyptic climax though in more of post rock sonic sense and not crushing metal.

There is a dsbm feel hovering around the album, the keyboard melody accents this a the cure influence continues to spill over into the fourth epitome. The single note guitar melodies make the Robert Smith worship apparent to my years but their is still an intangible retention of their defining sound, despite the vocal winks. to say its going into the shoe gazer territory would be accurate if not redundant considering what sort of influence the cure had on that scene as well.

The closing epitome drones on a melody closer in tone to some of the other 777 period stuff for the first five mins when it starts to ebb into a breakdown shimmer, while I like what is going is eleven minutes of this one riff going to last very long on my iPod, I could see a piece like this going on a bdsm playlist, the way the almost industrial drum hits it sounds like it would be good music to whip some one to. In this songs finals four minutes it fades into a bubbling bass note, where a flute like whine echoes the melody. But is this a good piece of music if we are taking it in the context
of an Ummagumma like experimentation yes

So this album over all is a mixed bag the moments that are good reach into the realms of really awesome, the second epitome I had to go back and relisten to in order to appreciate what they were doing but the transition still could have been more wisely
bridged. This is a weird album even for Blut Aus Nord but with these guys it is meant in the best way possible , though I enjoy the addition of the clean vocals I think if they went anymore melodic in the future it would look the ominous feel they are best at. So this album gets and eight mainly due to the transition on the second song ruins it for
me.But they do manage to redeem that slip with pretty stunning moments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kontinuum : Earth blood Majick

Going into the initial listens of the album I was unsure how the Icelandic band got tagged with black metal label as it starts of as more of a driving post rock thing. Post rock to metal has become a much more common marriage in the past five years, ranging from Agalloch's excursions into it to bands like Pelican and Russian Circles, Kontinuum has a more different take on it, there sound often wavers more toward the side of Interpol and their guitar sound holds a lot of twinkling ambiance but none of the dissonance found in black metal.

About three and a half minutes into the song " Steinrunninn Skorgur" harsh vocals gurgle to the surface. The songs are well textured and dynamically ambitious, but it's almost hard to call this metal so I have to listen to this with out expectations of it being dark or heavy. It does have drive, and when the chanted vocals come in it still feels more like Isis than even Enslaved , though I suppose if you were desperate to play musical connect the dots they would be the only black metal-ish act and even then there more recent work.

The vocals take an Peter Murphy turn on "moonshine" which is something Im not going to complain about but it walks them further from what would be considered metal, even though the guitar his some powerful chord progressions that flirt with metal , it's not until the riff four minutes in that I hear metal, this would be a good album to have very tired and groggy late night sex to as no jack hammering is required and the band never fully stays hard for any length of time, screams return to the back ground set against the more goth tinged vocals.

The staccato bass of " Stranger Air" off sets the Sydd Barrett glaze on the melodies. The tempo picks up in the last two minutes a steady drive but not a blast beat, in sight and despite the fact this album is lighter fare it is still very well crafted hits my ears to better effect than say opeth's " heritage" album.

"light bearer " is the first to hold a chug, but it feels more like Feilds of the Nephillim, despite the increased attack to the guitar and more emphasis place on the growls. We get about as close to black metal with out a full on blasty here around the two minute mark and to be honest when they pick it up tothat speed it's not there forte, particularly the guitars who avoid the tremolo feel altogether here.

"city" picks up more metal cred, and almost an iron maiden moment or two here.It's also one of the more adventurous songs on the album. An almost thrash riff sneaks in and I guess this could all be due to a Mastodon influence , but I don't really see the Georgia band having a big impact in Iceland. Few listens later and recognize how close the bass line gets to "wrath child" and it's puts the influences in perspective.

"Lys Milda Ljos" finds the band at its most evenly blended mix of dynamics, harder drive yet twinkle of effected guitar, if I was going to point some one in the direction of what this band does best this would be my pick. The drumming on this one really stands out and does an interesting build.a

The song "red" oddly uses female vocals , and made me stop to check and see if my ipodhad shuffled onto the new Gathering album. Not a bad song, in fact it might have worked better to close the album than the weepy piano melodrama that follows for no good reason.

Sure I have been musing a lot on how unmetal this album is, this is not to detour from th fact this is more often than not well crafted an original enough and I think has enough drives to appeal to metal heads even though there is no way in nine hells this should be called black metal.I will give this album a 7.5 as its a worthwhile listen despite the some of its heavier moments running away with them into murk which keeps it from reaching an eight though it could grow on me either way at this point though it's spookiers elements should prove endearing over time.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dead Can Dance: Live Review

Dead Can Dance has been one of my favorite bands for some time , in the musical spectrum I have viewed them as the Yin to Swans yang, dark but uplifting to the more sonic pound of Gira and friends. I attempted to see them 16 years ago but my drug intake that evening had other plans , so this was the second chance I was certain I wouldn't get, so the ticket price was of no consequence.

I was Asked for a play by play and this is what they got...

8:36 never seen as many tattooed house wives in one place

8:38: opening act done

8:46 they haven't started playing yet but their equipment is in place

8:48 there are definitely a lot of carry overs from dragon con here

8:49 they tested the smoke machine

9:00 they are goin on

9:16 in the third song and already this shit is awesome

9:57: Lisa is wearing a gold cape

10:27 left the stage waiting for their encore

10:44 they are doing a weird cover of song to the siren

The Cobb Energy Center which is an arts complex now home to both the Atlanta Opera and Ballet was a surreal experience which located in the very conservative suburbs out side of Atlanta was spitting distance from a strip mall. Inside the venue which is around five years old still retains the new car smell. The crowd made it seem as if the Tardis had transported me to an art gallery circa 1995, as it was goths carrying the torch as well as suburban grey hairs and affluent gays. I came across a grey haired man wearing a Feilds of the Nephillim shirt and found it so odd I had to strike up a conversation with him. The state of suburban goth girls grown up was a sad one as most consigned themselves to being arm candy to beer bellied I.t guys, i guess when your dreams of being whisked away to Robert Smith's castle in the sky vanishes settle for whatever eharmony throws your way.

They too the stage with little fanfare despite Lisa Gerrad's regal prescene. I think she has eclipsed Siouxsie as goth royalty and having seen the Banshees twice it is safe to say Siouxsie can't hold a candle to Lisa's power . The solid drumming on the operner allowed me to key in on the slight "tomorrow never knows" cadance to "children of the sun" Lisa stood up front and played the yanqin a Chinese hammer dulcimer and took the back ground to key synth on some of Perry's songs, during the trade offs Perry would play a mandolin for the majority of the show he did pick up a guitar for a song.

So almost two hours of entrancement,the only thing keeping this from being the best show ever was the set list was primarily new songs, not that I don't like the new album but for 80.00 dollars there are others songs I would have preferred to have heard and they haven't played them in Sixteen years so they can't very well be burned out on them. "the Umbiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" was the shows high point for me and overall all Brendan Perry's performance almost stole the show, though when Gerrad did open her mouth the sing her voice held a timbre that invoked Majick. When I first started listening to Dead Can Dance I would fast forward past Perry's songs because his voice reminded me of Neil Diamond...and yes the albums I had were on tape that's how long I've been listening to them. I grew into his songs and now they are among my favorites in fact I wished they would have preformed " the Carnival is over" as that is my post dragon-con theme song.

Any excuses you make regarding your favorite singer not quite nailing it due to their age are now null and void after this performance as Gerrad cut through with a power the albums just don't convey. While live several I note similarities to Sade, who smooth studio work isn't the clearest indication of her true capabilities . Also the very sensual nature of what they do is tangible but with a coat of melancholy Sade of course does not possess.

It was interesting hearing brendon perry cover Tim Buckley's "song to a siren" as the Elizabeth Frasier sung version which overshadowed the original is on the same This Mortal Coil album that Dead Can Dance is on. It proved to be a fitting tribute to the ands reverent relationship with their fans. How many shows do you hear the singer say " this next song is 800 years old" , which I think says volumes about what they do and the lasting power their music will have as it was clear even though the came from the 80s goth scene, they transcend that where other bands become weighed down by the restrictions of genres and trends they rode in on . I doubt there will be another chance to see them since it took sixteen years for this to happen , so I can accept this as their swan song though if presented again with another opportunity to see them what would pay whatever the ticket price.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Necrovation; S/T

These guys come out of the gate with a quickness, the drummers use of his feet keep some of the morbid angel comparisons at bAy even when the guitars bring them up there a weird break in the opener that helps establish their own personality rather than act as a tribute to 90s Tampa by way of Sweden. I think the fact they are from Sweden is a mute point, they sound nothing like Bloodbath or Entombed. This is their second full length and they have been around since 2004 so their sound has had some time to ferment and it shows in the songwriting.

If you really wanted to search for those kinds of comparisons on a track like" dark lead dead "you could find them though, you would be using the argument all death metal sounds the same, one I can undstand the rationale for as it's Not my favorite sub genre of metal, for some of those reasons, the change in the final minutes of this song disputes that and the band likes to keep it interesting and throw lots at you.

The vocals break from the mold and get weird at the beginning of " pulse of towering madness" I hear a little Carcass in the periphery. When the pace begins to pick up in "Commander of remains" I find my self thinking no go back to the weirdness. The mix is what reminds me the most of Entombed. Cavernous as I remember that time period of euro death metal to be. With a song like " new depths" if you hear any morbid angel influence I think it's clear These guys don't own any albums after " Altars of Madness".

The leads are tasteful for this kinda of music,there are a couple of runs where they play with more fluidity and i makes me think they are holding back for the sake ofthe style they are playing ndthey might have some Blind Gaurdian on thei ipod that they dont want ot fessup to. the drums could be more over the top. Ur this me measuring them against Pete the feet Sandoval. Though the drums have promise in parts of the power chug of " pulse of towering madness" which I might mention again Its in the lead as my favorite song.

In the second half of the album more dirge like passages evolve as well as a little more experimentation than you might expects that early on,it's in these more ,melodic moments their originality and prowess shines through the twisted murk of riffs. In domes this album grow on you in initial listen listens in others the songs become harder to distinguish, maybe I jut need more sleep, not that I don't like the variations and while this plight seems to plague ands I have reviewed recently ,Necorvation manage to inject more personality into their songs than most of their contemporaries in this genre.

With that said the reasons this album hasn't grabber me harder when i know how exceptional it is for what it is has more to do with the fact death metal is so straight forward and myopic in purpose, this is the reason I prefer black metal over death metal, as there are less confinements and more experimentation. So over time some of the tracks on here began to bore me . As close aa I have heard in a hot Tampa minute to fet getting back to the glory days of death metal in the early nineties but with out being a total retro tribute act, I will give this one a 7.5 as two weeks in regular rotation but don't expect it to have a lot of staying power with me , if you are a die hard fan of the genre then give this another point as it has identity in the monotony of the maelstrom.