Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Weekly Shuffle

This is a new weekly feature I'm going to do where I put my iPod on shuffle mode and review the first ten songs that pop up, it will maybe shed some light on artists that fall between the cracks in the album reviews and give a more comprehensive look at some who I might reference when reviewing artists. Ok so here it goes first up

"Repeating the Circle" by Ceremony. Off their "Zoo" album this song is a little darker than some of the more straightforward punk moments, the bass drives it and the wandering guitar melody would appeal to fans of more goth inflected post punk, and I tend to stray for the simplistic nature of most punk rock so for me to like these guys there has to be more it.

"My Death" by David Bowie, this is a b side from and import disc and is a more recent take on the song which originally appeared on the live "Ziggy the motion picture soundtrack" which is one of the best live albums ever. This is a cover of a song by Jaques Brel, but Bowie owns it , I like his version of "Let's spend the night together" better then the Stones original. To Brel's credit the lyrics are some of the best written ever.

"the May Song" by the Gathering , Night Time Birds remains my favorite album by the Gathering, despite people telling me to listen to "Home" I downloaded "Home" and this album still wins out because it's still in the realm of being considered metal, the chorus to this one has a nice punch to it and one of Annke's better hooks in my book.

"Duchess" by Genesis, the twilight of the acceptable Phil Collins years, here the descent into pop was well underway, but if you are going to do pop they were still using their thinking caps, the programmed drums creeping into play, this song takes it time and builds atmosphere two and a half minutes before the vocals set in isn't bei a slave to radio play and Collins was breaking away from being a Peter clone but sang with some balls to his voice...for Phil Collins, it's pretty majestic stuff.

"Here I Dreampt I was an Architect" by the Decemberists, "Castaways and Cutouts" was before they really entered their proggy phrase, but still some great songwriter and wry dark lyrics, though this is one of their rare non murder ballads for this time period of their career. Sure they are sellouts now, however hipster and graceful they managed to spread to the masses and water down their sound, the old stuff is not tainted by this enough to not keep its place on my iPod, this song hs a nice sway to it and interesting keyboards.

"Crucifixtion" by Deiphago, in the process of getting around to reviewing their album "Satan Alpha Omega" it's roughly produced raw black metal that hits with its blown speaker intensity. It might be a little too straight forward for me but we will get around to that when I review , if you like your black metal as raw as a bloody steak in the meantime check these guys out.

"the Accusation Chair" by King Diamond, while my love of the King has never been hidden opportunity to review anything hasn't presented himself , I wrestle with my self over which is better "Abigail" or "Them, and rather than resolve that here I can say this little four minute ditty is one of the heavier moments on this album and recaptures the darker vibe of "Abigail" particularly at the solo section midway through, and the " no where to hide" vocals influenced tons of black metal singers the keys are cool on this one too I always forget that part.

"As the Bell Rings the Maypole Spins" by Dead Can Dance, "Aion" is an under rated album by them that I have come to appreciate more over the years, it has a more ritualistic feel than there other lumps that went more cinematic in scope, Lisa Gerrad sounds great as she does, the percussive elements are toned down on this one and the vocals we've their around the song so not one of their more belly dancing inspiring songs.

"Necrophiliac" by Slayer, "Hell awaits" was at one time one of my favorite albums but as a whole didnt stay the test of time ,but this one is classic, the riff that comes after the line" I feel the urge the growing need to fuck this sinful corpse" is mean as fuck, the variation of it doesn't hold as much weight later in the song but hey we can hear bass, how many times did that happen after this album?

"the Ocean" by Led Zeppelin, ... The fact this song still brings to mind the sample of it used in "She's Crafty" , attributes to a slight burn out of it and while its not my favorite Zeppelin song of the thrity five songs of theirs which made it onto my ipod this one made it cut, the guitar on this is what brings it on home.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cloak of Altering : Ancient Paths Through Timeless Voids

The new project from the one man band Gnaw Their Tongues, Mories handling every scream,guitar and button pushed or mouse click on these drums. These songs as chaotically as they are to my ears still sound more like songs than the majority of what I've heard from Gnaw Their Tongues.While one man black metal bands is nothing new , what Mories Dodson his projects is certainly different, my first few listens to this concluded this is pretty much as dark as Gnaw but less noise and space even though there is a Greg deal of ambiance in certain sections.

The opener " A Plague Has Travelled with us" gets blasting after the opening creak. Since these are programmed drums they are able to blast at speeds humans aren't able to reach or maintain , the down side is the double kicks is buzz thin. The slower section in this one when it comes down from its initial spasm is cool and the song drifts off from there in an almost glitchy fashion. The mood and textures I like though unsure of the songwriting . "All I see is Dead Stars " treads similar ground until it sounds like Darth Vader boards the ship, the drum machines are thinly produced so speed aside its hard for them to sound heavy as is. The low growls on this off they are not pitch shifted in some way are well done they are buried in the mix so it's hard to tell, though when they have a monster effect on the, in the Ambiant break downs it's pretty obvious.

I was starting to get like a Fantomas vibe from this until the title track which started of making me think of " Last rights" Skinny Puppy, meets sounds of the Haunted Droid Factory, it strikes me as more dynamically balanced here though I liked the screaming better on the previous tracks , there is and interesting bass line that wanders of into a maze of discordant keyboards. I do think if Mories had called in the dude from Author Punisher this would be mind blowing. But alas the woes of musical misanthropy.

"Devoided" better screams return and the blasts sound almost real here I think I was just not paying attention to the double bass my first go through as it ounces like a vibrator on highest setting. The very Insert name ofa Mike Patton Project here spookiness of the breakdown is a welcome diversion and the programming isn't as nooning in this context. The disorted gate on the vocals midway through here's a nice touch to help add some density. I think listening to this through head phones makes it sound thinner than when it's just playing on the iPod dock.

"Initiation rites of Sector 5" starts of embracing the electronic nature of this and then veers off into a Morbid Angel riff. While the guitar is doing some pretty interesting things when the drums going into hyper digital blast I'm over it, good thing he keeps it very varied by this point. The second half of this song reminds me the most of Gnaw and the effect on the drums there works, I think if they had been given a more distorted sound in the mix the album would have benefitted, there are so many changes and sounding firing off on this one if one isn't to my liking it's quickly replaced by another.

The album closes with a futuristic tone on "the war has finally found us" it's almost like cyber dsbm as the guitars have the mournful tremolo to them. Surprisingly where the blasty nasties of mot black metal creates a hypnotic drone , I don't really get that from this album sonically . There are more unapologeticly electronic glitches which create an industrial Mr. Bungle feel. It's abrasive here in a migraine twisting tornado or jerked stop motion sound, like Emperor recorded through a blender, before letting you drift out into space. Inertia pulls you back in for some Lynchian spookiness, if he ever gets sucked into remake a sci if film I hope he takes notice of these guys.

The programmed drums are really the biggest distraction here and after Tiamat who was playing it too safe and conventional I needed something dark and wacky from left field so if I am able to block the buzz the blast beats out I can round this one up a whole point to an 8...though the battle royale that is my iPod hasn't had the final word on this.

Tiamat : the Scarred People

Once upon a time Tiamat was thought of as Black metal and were mentioned along side bands like Samael. 1994's "Wildhoney" was a game changer for extreme music though the same cant really be said for their new album. The opener and title track is a love letter to the huge man crush they have on Sisters of Mercy, though more rock and less dancing.

The blatant chords leading into the chorus of "Winter dawn" might be dumbing it down for this band , yet as far as old school goth goes they capture the feel. The creep of "384" darkens thing up though not heavy as the kids might think of doom today. It winks at Sisters territory and the chords ring out with menace, but heavy hs become a relative concept and I don't see many goth d.j's wooed but the more ominous tempos and despite when the guitar hit harder it makes me wonder if a new Tiamat album drops in the forest will anyone hear it.

"Radiant star" makes it pretty clear the days of metal are over, it's still an interesting song largely due to the oddly syncopated vocal placement. "The Sun also rises" mixes Pink Floyd with Feilds of the Nephillim, not a new direction. For these guys but it is prefromed in a more concise manner than they have in the past,with ethe leads stealing the show on this one. obviously since 94' the growls are not to be found.

"love terrorist" has more drive and could be most easily called metal. Though it is not harder than Feilds of the Nephilim. There is the weird Pink Floyd refrain, though the songs drifts midway in. If the refrain makes it closer to " the Wall" era floyd the song "Messian Letter" goes in more of a "Division Bell" territory so they know their Pink floyd. The leads here continue to steal the show as they are precise in nailing the David Gilmore school of playing. Not a fan of the " you are my only friend" lyrics or melody in the chorus , even in Pink Floyd's later year the melodies were given more thought but Tiamat isn't Pink Floyd.

They start to rock out in more of a Neil Young sense on "Before another Wilbury" dies which is a quick jam and I wonder if the title is a reference to the Travelling Wilburys. On "Thunder and Lighting" we are back at the Sisters of Mercy feel, this one more dance oriented like "This Corrosion". There's also a little rock to "Born to Die" like what Nick Cave's output in the nineties might have turned out like if he had worked with like Butch Vig. For Tiamat it works and seems like the most personalized song where the bulk of the albu, the tug of war between the Floyd influence and Sisters stays in full swing, I would say David Bowie is the middle ground between those to two but Tiamat misses that not to say , this isnt well crafter and some excellent guitar work through out.

"Paradise" the Pink Floyd fan club rolls out, it another side of Roger waters than The more Final Cut dramatics the song " the red of the morning sun" of the chorus are a nice touch suppose this one is one of the albums darker cuts though there is a lack of sinister . This one does have a little more sense of its own identity , but if we are playing name that influence the point is gointo later Waters Floyd. "Paradise" is very ,uh on of those Waters ballads from the Wall. The guitar work is great, the keyboard part that starts the song could have stood to modulate a little more as the sound gets repetitive. But once again this is about the leads.

So here's what happens to black metal in the golden years, while Tiamat was never Bathory or Celtic Frost I think they played an important role in that era of music transitioning from the nineties. In forming a conclusive opinion about this album I'm having a hard time believing there is nothing really metal about it all and have to accept this as a conscious decision and not that these guys are old and clueless as to what metal is. The great lead playing helps tip the scales on this one.

I had to round this one down to a 7.5, Because the keyboard heavy mix really shoves the lack of metal in your face and insult to injury is this is coming from the guys who put out "Wildhoney" so they set the bar high for themselves. With that said the song writing is for the most part polished and if you are going to mix Pink Floyd with Sisters of Mercy you are at least mixing top shelf ingredients. The result is laid back psychedelic goth rock, which lets face it there not a lot of this sort of thing being pumped out that's not a blatant type o ripoff.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Atriarch @ 529

Something happened last night at the 529. Some of went there with the singular focus of seeing Atriarch, we wanted a metal show, but being familiar with their music if not fans of it we were open to the interpretation of metal show as the band is in there interpretation of creating metal. Other people went to the 529 just with the knowledge it was goth night and there friends were going or like omg ...where else are people going to get wasted to escape their families on Thanksgiving.those people were ushered back out of the room by the sheer volume...there were those whose skills a instagramming their lives are liger like in proportion and they watched their phones until the energy created eclipsed their ability to just be seen and they too headed to more sedate settings.

If you read this blog then you know I was in the first category , I am a fan , who is pretty damn familiar with their work past and present , I did not know what to expect s the band is lost a hydra in their multi headed approach to metal. What I did not expect was the hypnotic spice ritual that followed. The band took the stage in organic fashion, though only the bass player and drummer were on the actual stage and the key boarding , singer and guitarist stood on the floor eye level with the crowd. The set took shape in a organize manner and coagulated into form as the singer Lenny Smith began a vocal check of his microphone by doing Tibetan throat singing. From their Guitarist Brooks Blackhawk began anointing the creative space with sage and the rest of the band simmered to a more fevered pitch until they reached the full roar of the opener for their newest album " ritual of passing" , the song "Parasite"which was every bit as powerful live but it came from a different place live, their was more grime where in the studio, I hear the slither of Dimension Hatross era Voi Vod. Here the vocals had a more chant like quality to them . Smith emotes from a deep place in his soul no matter the delivery which changed from a militant punk chant, dark bellow almost reach a croon or the scathing harsh tones, his screams actually sounded even better live.

The set seemed like one body of work even though I knew the individual songs.there was no pause in between them some type of drum beat, feed back or keyboard was kept the sonics floating. The black metal elements were represented as evenly as the doom, the kids there for goth not were not disappointed as there was enough darkness to the set, fittingly the bass player had a sticker on his bass head that read..real men hate god.
This was not expressed in their music through the normal wrathful thrashing one associates with black metal, those parts when they came held more of an Ambiant drone of early Darkthrone. The catharsis of their music in many ways felt internalized as the singer too almost Gollum like stances as he preformed and less warrior gestures black metal normally brings to mind.

The most remarkable element was after their set ended when I thought they had just begun due to the fact I had been captured in the moment ,held their in a meditative state where time stopped and the band draws you into to be totally engulfed I. The experience dispite hipster girls strutting throught the crowd of the glow of cellphones, I was surprised when my ears rand wheni left Becuase I felt their music but wasn't abrasives overpowered by sheer volume alone and I have seen the Swans twice in the son of a year so that kind of distorts your perception. Of what a louds show is . Like the Swans , Atriarchs music was very much a spiritual experience live and engrossed me furtherinto their new album once it was over. File them under never to miss.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pinback @Terminal West

Terminal West continues to feel like the Bronze , the club from Buffy the Vampire slayer an it will carry that association for me until more punk or metal shows come through  and add a dirty element. the openers Solos were no Dingoes Ate My Baby, surprising because considering how competitive the touring market in California is you tend to have high expectations, but regardless Pinback repped the west coast well. It was a weird crowd for them either forty year olds or kids who looked like they were in high school with not a big margin in the middle. It seemed like a more Cobb county crowd as well, not a lot in the way of the tattooed and mustached east atlanta crowd .

the thing about Pinback is they cover such a broad landscape of musical feeling that I did not really notice they arranged the set set list In a manner that best allowed themselves to warm up into their set and fire at all cylinders by three songs in. I thought they were just making an interesting choice of opening with a more subdued approach.

I'm not sure why I didn't see the lack of floor monitors and think too myself " Oh they are going to be using in ear monitors and this isn't a metal sow so in this venue the stage volume is going to be more subdued than I'm use to so maybe to get the fuller spectrum of sound I shouldnt just camp out in front  of the stage like I'm in high school" but no I did  and was standing in front of or slightly to the left of Zach Smith so I got a more bass in my face mix and largely could not hear Rob Crow's guitar parts  though he seems to be a rare quiet guitarist and his vocals became more pronounced as the set went on. Though this was not a gig killer Becuase anyone  who has ever considered themselves to be a bass player need to see Zach Smith in action and reassess that. Though in all fairness Smith approaches the instrument in a more chordal fashion as a guitar playing would though he can pull off Geddy Lee like single note accents.Once they really hit their stride past the midway point and Rob Crow had put away a few more New Castles, Smith's playing became  the glue which at one point escalated into Crow busting a move and break dancing his way into a full on  stage bumping worm  amd running out into the crowd , too not really mosh but defiantly engage and the way he was bobbing his head to the Misfits playing over the p.a before they went on I am sure he has a punk rock past. 

Performance wise they were pretty flawless and a lot of fun, But from myvantage point the video screen behind the drums was partially obscured and the Previously mentioned lack of floor monitors made Crow's part lower in the mix than preferred, yet it don't take wha from my enjoy,ent of the performance and they can be filed as highly recommended to fans of math or indie rock,yet I think anyone who enjoys excellent musicianship can appreciate what they do in this setting. 

Ragnarok : Malediction

Ok nothing but black metal reviews for the rest of the year so starting them off with Ranarok's newest.

While only familiar with these guys when they have popped up on my last fm, decided to give their new one a shot, while I was under the impression these guys were old school raw black metal there is a lot more thrash and death influences than I might have anticipated and they waste no time incorporating them into the blast fest "Blood ofsaints " even has a few Deicide moments in the vocal patterns, the vocals which are much more discernible than you would think, giving them a more death metal feel, but in the days when the lines of what was death and what was black metal were more blurred so pre second wave. The first impression though is this is going to be pretty straight and relying on sheer speed of attack.

"Demon in my view" keeps up the albums established pace and is run of the mill until the chorus , I like the place ment of the vocals even if I think using the title in the lyrics of the chorus can be a little cheesy and it's up for debate if that's indeed the chorus as there isn't a lot of variance, though at this speed it gets a little sloppy on the ears when it comes to distinguishing parts. They do a similar thing on " Necromantic summoning ritual" though here is when I begin to here some of the phrasing and almost major tones sound like ultra sped up power metal, so these guys have a Hammerfall album or two they are hiding on the tour bus and their Deicide collection is out in plain sight, though it adds to the chorus leading into where the chorus should be as it has a thrashing attack.

They stay very consistent in tempo going into "Divide et Impera" almost to a fault , though the bass is up in the mix and power metal undertones are helping the gallop and the mid tempo accented riff is a dramatic and well timed change before going back to their trusted blasties. The growl begins to get a little monotonous at this point as it keeps at a midrange rasp, there are the more Deicide accent which makes their focus on where they go rather than any variation in pitch.

The opening riff of "Pro patri mori" should have been riffed out a little more before we descended into more of the same though like the previous song it slows down into some syncopated punches with some melody to them before dishing out more of the same thing they have been beating your ass with thought there's a little Morbid angel in this riff that cuts through the blasts about midway through making this on of the albums stronger songs

I like it when they lead with the viking riffs on "Dystocratic" and think they need to include more as they are more untouched with that current than Amon Amarth. The rest of the song begins to feel like these tempos are a cop out Becuase they lack better ideas which from the opening riff I know it's not true maybe just less inspired when it comes to arrangements. By the time we get to "Iron Cross" we get the point that this speed is the only troo kvlt tempo though the little breakdown ey throw in their is a reprieve just too much of the same and as much as I love the dark one the lyric" Satan has come to stay " makes him sound like puff the magic dragon.

" the eleventh seal" is starting to sound like a continuation of the previous song, though it thrashes it's accents harder. This drummer is no doubt a machine among machines and gets credit for making some of these riffs more interesting , where if he had been a monotone blaster this album would have been ruined. Any metal drummer who are into over the top playing need to listen to this album like its a drummer clinic and add tow points to the final score. But superlative drumming aside the song "Fade into Obscurity" is what I'm beginning to think this album will do on my iPod. The riff on that song is mean as a angry bag of fucks and defies my theory this album running out of steam.

"Sword of Damocles" stood out for me from the first listen as the hook in the first part of the verse section sounds like a King Diamond bridge riff, or "So far so good " era Megadeth. Sure they revert to blast now ask questions later , leaving the cool riff all by its lonesome to cry in its corpse paint. The execution is flawless, no one has a bad performance though the vocals are one dimensional and I guess this is what the death metal band Daath would sound like if the went black metal and stopped soloing, the drums carry the connect the dots metal riffage. One of the best drumming performances on a metal album this year helps bump this one up to a 7 as the lack of innovation and melody would bore me after a whole and even though I recognize this is good for what it is I foresee it getting bumped from my hard drive to free up space more something more experimental that actually speaks to me, but as new gets scarce this time of year it might be what you need to hold you for right now.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pinback: Information Retrieved

So these guys might be slight left field to what I normally cover on here but it's my party I can math rock if I want to. To Pinback's credit their musicianship alone should appeal to fans of prog in either rock or metal form and their most recent album has taken on a darker and more serious turn, thus it might make a better entry point for those of you whom their earlier work might have held to bouncy of an indie rock jangle.

The traits which has put Pinback head and shoulders over the hipster indie rock they are often lumped in with are not only still present but have been perfected upon. The fluid guitar playing is even more seamless and fluid in its interplay with the vocals.

No time is wasted establishing the moodier tone as the opener, "Proceed to Memory" simmers with a more introspective melody that glides over the syncopation. The song builds in rising layers.

The duo displays one of strengths of their close to faultless songwriting in articulate pattern the guitar and bass intertwine spotlighted from the beginning of "Glide" modulate in almost Fugazi like punches with the melodies dripping I between the cracks.

One stylistic change for the band is the inclusion of much more piano that begins to take the stage on "Drawstring" where I also noticed a somewhat of a theme developing in the lyrics of man vs technology and very drab social commentary taking form.

The more care free rolling melodies heard in their previous work in he sing song chant of "is there another side of your story/ is there something else you're not telling me" in "Sherman" (see video below)

This is the first album where I can recall being able to pick out the bands influences which are still not worn on their sleeves but the post chorus like bridge from "His Phase" reminds me post-Farewell to Kings era Rush, as the chord progress tighten around the drums. The piano in "Diminished" recalls some of Tears for Fears more reflective moments at times and Dark side of moon Floyd. I have always heard shades of the Police in the band and here they are of the more "Tea in Sahara" variety, but in the hands of this duo's songwriting magic they are well veiled to even to much scrutiny.

The dreamy elf like weaving of the vocals at the beginning of "True North" is counterbalanced well against the drifting shift of guitar chords set against piano and the appearence of strings. the vocals constrict into an interesting pattern around the swell of the song.

" a request " is a return to the bands earlier sound, but even here it's not like they are returning slavishly to all too familiar sounds or creating any sort of redundancy. They continue to uphold their legacy with the type of artistic integrity most bands of this ilk should be envious of. The production while a fraction or two slicker than "Autumn of the Seraph" gives ample space and preserves their sound rather than detracting from it with an abuse of effects or wizardy.

When the guitar of "Winslow , you idiot" takes a turn into a more straightforward rock direction than what typically is thought of in relation to the band they turn round and do something different in the verse. The piano often takes a more typical rock approach when it sees center stage rather than just providing color from the wings, but when this occurs the vocals steer clear of going the more obvious routes, though I'm surprised at how prominent role they take on a song like "sediment" , which by no means turns them into the Fray , but flirts with teen sitcom soundtrack in its dramatic build.

In the initial listens I would go ahead and give this album a ten as I think it builds upon the bands strengths and it's tone is more all purpose for my normally borderline depressed mood, where as earlier albums were more happy music for me , not that this album is glum, I think the more ultra realism found in the lyrical world view of the album contributes to this or maybe these guys had their insurence run out and are no longer medicated thus the Leap of maturity away from the rolling bounce of their other albums. If you have an appreciation for math, indie or modern non- dream theater progressive rock then this is worth your while, if already a fan of the band like myself then it sits as another classic.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cult of Youth: Love Will Prevail

Brooklyn's Cult of Youth is an interesting creature. While not metal by any means their music has an almost punk abrasion to while like Death In June flirts with folk song writing . Their newest album "Love Will Prevail" is an exercise in maturity

"Man and man's ruin" starts off as a good example of the growth the band has made , they don't come bounding out this time it's a gradual build with different melodies surfacing long the way.

"Golden age" is more long of the lines of their previous work, as the strum of the guitar rolls this long in a rather up beat manner while the bass drive it. The vocal layering really shows improve well  the restraint found in the lead vocal which remains tuneful even in the more shouted sections . Not taking away from the fact stylistically this is their trademark but not not beating this approach into the ground.

"Prince of  peace" from some reason the bass line to this song reminds me of the mellower verse of "Ramble on" but I also here shades of the Rolling Stones on this one as well. Any way you slice it this has a post Sumer of love vibe to it. The John Paul Jones bass playing resurfaces on " New old ways" which takes a simpler approach on the guitar, giving the hypnotic vocal refrains room to breathe.

" Garden. Of Delights" starts of as a darker take on what the band is known for, then  weird keyboards creep underneath along with horns bleating from the outskirts. The use of brass on this album on more than one occasion reminds me of Miles Davis' heroin years of the sixties. the mix on this song is a testament to the extra effort which went into this one.This makes it  possible for the pyschedelics to seep out of  a song like " a new way".

"the Path of total freedom" rambles down the beaten path like a ghost of the wild west, and serves as more of an intro to "the Gateway" whose use of a tense acoustic guitar reminds me a little of the Cure. the vocals return to the band older style where they are recklessly allowed to warble a little flat, but they are set back into the reverb a bit and it doesn't prove to be a taste I push myself to acquire. With their earlier work this was the one area I found myself not clicking with and the vocals are the area where the most improvement is show aside from the vaster scope to the songwriting.

"To lay with the wolves" takes a darker turn into almost Swans territory as the guitar holds a chilling dissonance to it and some excellent crooning interplays. The bass playing counterbalances some of the darkness here as it dances around the song providing a hopeful emotional undercurrent.

"It took a lifetime" the folk punk strut of this one has enough swagger to feel like it could have been on Guns n Roses "Lies" album or an acoustic take on Lords of the New Church. It weird outro fade is a nice build and adds to the Death in June shrine which is not as prominent as I suspected it's presence on previous albums.

Overall I can give this album the elusive perfect 10 score, as this album is fully realized and they have really grown into themselves and hit every mark, even the elements which have been too happy for me are more balanced and the frolicking Pogues like quality it tempered with a new depth and maturity, this one will be on my top ten non-metal albums of the year list for sure as its one of those albums I look forward listening to when I'm away from it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Interview : Sean from Cult of Youth

It's a Cult of Youth week here at Abysmal Hymns , hitting you with an interview, review of their new album and by Saturday a review of their Friday night show. So here we go and I didn't even have to bring up King Diamond they did it for me.

Wil...I like the new album, compared to your previous releases it's more smoother songwriting in a more melodic yet darker direction what do you attribute this to?

Sean...It was just natural, this was the album I always wanted to make but it the past wasn't capable. The last one we recorded in a big studio and the money just ran. This time I built my own studio and allowed me to play more of the instruments , it just all developed on an emotional and spiritual level. did recording in this environment effect the lyrical themes?'s influences, the process of opening a record store had me more engaged in community. It was inspirational and more uplifting . Early on when the band formed it was depressing days, I was in a dark place with a shit job and doing lots of drugs. Now I can enjoy things and make positive uplifting changes.

Wil...I found out about you guys from a friend on a metal board and metal tends to attract metal so what kind of metal past you do you have ?

Sean ... I totally have one, I use to work as an intern for earache in college. I quit a job once to go see King diamond and it was the best decision of my life. It was a road trip and I smoked pot all the way. We don't fit into any scene so it make sense there's a group of metal heads into one place then in another city it's a totally different crowd.

Wil... I'll wear my King Diamond shirt to the show tomorrow. it's from 88.

Sean...what tour is that ?


Sean... I have one from conspiracy

Wil... Speaking early of dark places , one label that gets thrown around with you guys is goth, and while I can hear some Death in June in you guys what's your prespective on that?

Sean...we take it as neither a compliment or an insult. We are into Bauhaus and sisters of mercy and like going out and dancing at goth clubs. We are lovers of music. I own a record shop so I have all kinds of music and support and embrace goth music.

Wil... How's the tour been so far?

Sean...incredible , we did out record release show on sept. 7th , we went to Europe and have been on the road for two months now. There's been highs and lows. We played Warsaw, Poland, Italy, it was cool getting to meet people I've been talking to online for years now. As players tis much time playing you really find yourself able to try new things on stage and push the boundaries. how was the reception in Europe? main land Europe like France, Poland and Italy great. In the U.k, not so great it's like America but worse.

Wil... So what should people expect from the live show?

Sean ... It's more punk, people will be surprised how live and aggressive we are. Lately it's been very chaotic so I can imagine it will be that way when we play Atlanta . People already have the albums and it s great you know the songs but iPod have the album so why sound like the album why not take the songs you know and twist them into something different that's crazy and all about having fun Becuase that's why you go out to shows.

Deftones: Koi No Yokan

With there Bassist now awake from his long time coma but still recovering the band marches on. They find themselves men out of time, yet some how maintaining relevancy due to their once ground breaking output. Alongside Tool they are one of the few bands who the nineties spawned that was able to survive the vastly changing musical landscape , which burdened them by being thought of in the same breath as nu-metal. Sure their first two albums are dated by some of the rap rock moments, they escaped Limp Bizkit status with White pony and some unhindered Faith No More worship which was tempered with Pixie like sensibilities on some occasions and a more Radiohead vibe on others.

the albums opens with an almost Root Bloody Roots pulse, but they balance things back out "romantic dreams" to show they are not hot topic juggaloos in baggy bondage pants.The hook is smart and the production saves them from falling in with the current crop of idiotic radio rock.

Former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega,retains his duties on the album in place of Cheng. His thump comes from a different place than Cheng's and while  its no secret Quicksand was an influence of the deftones, "romantic dreams " is the only song where this is really worn on their sleeves.

"Leathers" has one of the more jarring intros, but this smooths out and the chorus remins  as smooth as anything else on this album.  The screamed  vocals are a thing of the past and even on the heaviest moments it's still only in the "King for a day " territory when they launch into the punchy stacatto sections but more often than not they stick to being next  door neighbors to A Perfect Circle. Thankfully all traces that a hip hop element was every present back in the " Aderenaline" days are long gone.

they can no longer hand with today's definition of metal, nor do they really lean in that direction , perhaps its their age . there is a strong sense of the Faith No More influence , almost as strongly as it was present on their self titled fourth album, which along with Around the fur , i would say this one has the most in common with. There are moments like "Entombed" which remind me of Smashing Pumpkins in there almost depeche mode like period, but i think largely due to Chino's superior pipes this is pulled off much better. In fact with out Chinos personality inflected voice this song would bore me as its meandering wears thin as the build takes it time with little pay off.

"Graphic Nature" is one of my favorites on the album mainly due to its darker chord progression, but it leans heavily on ground it feels like the band has tread before along with a few riffs that give a sense of deja vu.

Moreno doesn't break any new ground here, his voice remains the most distinctive element to their sound.He does serve the songs more rather than over indulging his moans, which have in previous albums drifted south in a wall of effects. he really sells his melodies on songs like the " tempest " where they do the most justice to the sensual thump, similar to "Around the furs " better moments. He sticks to his midrange croon most of the time using more inflection in his voice rather than push it build intensity which brings more Depeche Mode comparisons, not an influence thats alien to the band.

The reason they have survived the nu-metal trend where most of their peers fell by the wayside lies in their songwriting, even when you start to think, well these guys are not metal any more those thoughts are generally bypassed because these are just good songs. the dreamier moments like "Rosemary" still retains enough of a pulse to bob your head to.

Is this 2003 ? is what I find myself thinking , like they played it very safe in regard to their identity and legacy being preserved. Will this sound like classic rock to a kid who grew up on bands like Periphery ? A song like "Gauze" starts off with the off time syncopation more than a few of the djent bands narrowed from when they weren't masturbating to Meshuggah, but the bulk of the song is laid back and simplistic when stacked against today's idea of mainstream metal and could be seen as boring.the swagger of "Goon squad" does have the last nineties skating at the mall feel to it that i can't help but wondering who hasn't grown out of it even in the suburbs where musical tastes tend to fall into arrested development.

Even on the bands stalest moments they are still more adept at their craft than an army of the alternative hard rock bands who have clamoured to take their place. They do play it really safe and stick close to what would now be seen as there classic sound, they did use some of the better pages from their own play book. Where "Diamond Eyes" might have been more experimental the song writing plays closer to their strengths. A song like " What happened to you" would have really impressed me ten years ago, it sounds like Mutemath dipping into the OxyContin to me now. So I'll give this album an 8 as it aims for the classic post Aderenaline sound and the song writing is more focused but feels a little nostalgic.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dragged Into Sunlight: Widowmaker

I understand putting out an album of three epics all over ten minutes in length, what Idon't get is why you are Dragged into Sunlight and want to make the first and longest song an acoustic instrumental. Sure it had a somewhat drones quality to it and if compacted down into three minutes would have worked as an intro but it by and large bored me and seemed like a waste of time from a band capable of so much more.

Sure the snarl into a redemptive part two , which captures some to the nastiness they do best but not after I formed a prejudice against this album. because if you are going to only give me three songs make sure all three are with the wait. Part two has a pretty mean grind to its chugs, the vocals dipping into lower more death metal like grunts. The cleaner guitar sound leading into the eight minute market doesn't bother me, in fact it brings a needed dynamic, but is handled within the context of what they do best,and I am alwayss down for experimenting with new sounds as long as I 'm getting the rock inequal doses. The gloomy drone the second part settles into in the final minute and a half works well to drive the point home.

Part three is poured on thick with its volcanic sludge. It wasn't until repeat
Items thatmy ears detected their are screams coming for behind the wall of syrupy distortion. This part is very Eyehategod and lingers for the first three minutes turning the torture over to the rumbles to a crawls ragging the songs for a minute and a half to what seems a slow death until the drums come in a hammer it into shape. In short heavy as fuck. The pace begins to pick up until it is chugged to a pregnant pause of clean guitar where it is allowed to morbidly reflect for a minute of so, with tightly chugged guitar leading into the chaos the last minute and a half escalates into.

With "Hatred for Mankind" the pay off came quicker and more forcefully. Here the wait throught the tension of the drone and linger of anticipation often makes journey getting to the meat of the matter , fall into back ground music rather than grab your throat and demand your attention. I don't fault them for broadening there sonic range, the parts that hit you excel at doing that ,so despite the wasted first 14 minutes at the beginning which was purged from my iPod within 24 hours of having this one , I think the album earns a 7.5 as your attention span gets its endurance tested , though it is worth checking out as a whole for when the parts that rock, choose to do so they kick your teeth in.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Death Grips: No Love Deep Web

This might seem like an odd release for me to review, but this album is a lot more confrontational and darker than a lot of metal that came out this year...let's see the Faceless comes to find. And you ,might as well lump all the djent bands into that list as well. However initial listens seem to indicate this is not as abrasive as the "money store". With the accompaniment being Lo if electronics , though Hella drummer Zach Hill is a member of the band and his drumming can be heard on the album.

Ironically the day I sat down to write this review is the same day Death Grips were dropped from Epic Records, after the band intentionally leaked their album to torrent sites when a disagreement with the liable ensued about its release date.

The first three songs flow together with the angular bleep and booms not holding as much distinction as the previous . mc Ride doesn't employ the same militant chanting style that appeared on the Arlie's album though the ...beat down maddness part of "no love" comes close to recapturing this.

"Black dice" sees more unique verbiage which I appreciate , though the first few songs followed a more straight forward hip hop patten than mormal. The mix of this album sounds drier and more organic with less effects on M.c Ride's voice.

"World of dogs" is first song on this one that hits me as heavy or dark, this also happens to be the song for first video , there is are patting chant of ..." it's all suicide " the beats are bleeping chaos with the burp of bass underneath.

"lock your doors" keeps a similar shade bordering on what might be called witch house. the layers of non sensical rap pops out of the walls like a crackhead Freddy Krueger. The hook chant here is " I got some shit to say just for the fuck of it" which might be the lyrical theme of the album.

Things take a lighter shade on the weirder "Whammy" but not by much, his flow is more precise and enunciated here as well. There a bizarre looped female voice haunting the songs edges. For some reason I get a Dizze Rascal vibe of this one.

Capable of creating chaos even with minimalist beats, "Hunger Games" is like free form jazz of free styling . Is this a real song I'm not sure as nothing really holds it together. In some ways this song could be about illegal downloading I suppose, which would make sense considering the drama that followed its completion.

"Deep Web" has interesting tracks set against very effected wall of creeping distortion. The rap is yelled around the opaque backing, in juxtaposition to the following which has sparse that sound like bubble wrap popping underneath his rap. Maybe this is bubble rap. This almost accapella style doesn't do them any favors.

The pseudo witch house darkness returns for "Pop" , though the raps come in more relaxed against the very sluggish sci fi drone of these beats , I don't think the exercise in contrasts and confrontation is really realized on this one and it is mainly a collection of interesting sounds.

"Bass rattle stars out the sky" is not as bass heavy as you might expect from the title , the war chant is back and Ride is in a more comfortable zone with his flow here. the closer "Artifical death in the west" is more subdued , but still bleak enough to hold my attention despite is mellow glitch factor, hook like chant is the only redeemable factors here.

"the Money Store" came across as much more aggressive while this Blum might be a shade darker. I don't think this more minimalist style works for M.c. Ride. I'll round this up to a 5.5 for the very reason that they have the balls to try something different, this album is largely inferior to the superior "money store" maybe the reason for the delay is the label wanted them to revisit the give this some more love before it go deep on the web.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cradle of Filth: the Manticore and Other Horrors

Cradle of Filth have always seemed more fashion then function, like a black metal band for juggaloos. In recent years I have tried to give them a fairer shot as they have become more proficient at the instruments and Dani Filth continues to branch out from his annoying squeal. So since its Halloween day I figured I would sit down and give their newest album which I have listened to maybe three times a more careful listen.

" the Abhorrent" Hammers into things and I'm sure by far the hardest thing your are going to find on profiles this fall. They have narrowed liberally from Dimmu's play book when it comes to militant break down sections and the orchestral keyboard parts are just as if not more sweeping. The middle section which Filth leads in with the goth book on tape voice he does , is pretty decent as is the thrash riff that follows and I find my self not at all annoyed with this song. It has more twists and turns than I remember from the first few listens and is pretty ambitious. The lyrics do seem like a grab bag of whatever pseudo satanic verbiage that can be crammed into one song.

"For your Vulgar Declectation" is more straight forward than the first song very thrash oriented. Well executed it doesn't really have any hooks to snare me into side from the break down the two minute mark. The female vocals chime in and some of the quirky vocal layering reminds me of Therion. The riff that ends this in the final minute get props as well.

"Illictus" from the get go no new ground is broken and they waste no time defaulting to the blasty. The lack of hooks seems to be falling on Dani who spits his vocals around the guitar parts, the drums arent doing anything particularly interesting on this song either. For being so straight forward I have had to listen to this one a few times for,y ears to make a judgement call. The boring drums on this seem to be the most hampering is what stands out. Overall I think the guitar and keyboards have shown improvement. The vocal arrangement towards the end improves but this is still one of the albums weaker tracks.

"Manticore" Very Dimmu from the get go, though the more misplaced riff age favors the lush layers of gothic trappings, not sure how tragic neromantic fits in with a manticore, but other wise this song is pretty decent as the punches give it hooks,despite Filth's odd word placement. The drums work here leading me to believe heis just inconsistent. There are some nice iron maiden harmony guitars rolling over some of the post chorus sections and the arrangement on these is all over the place so when I say chorus I mean where I am guessing one would be if it existed.

"Frost on her Pillow" This song seems to click together more than the others , in some ways it might be Becuase they are scaled back in tone to give everything more room, though this is middle of the road for Cradle of Filth. The guitars get the spotlight they have deserved and it's not all about the twists and turns of the fun ride this album likes to take.

"Huge Onyx Wings Behind Despair" it leads me to believe the faster they play the more cluttered things get as this song utilizes varied tempos and the more deliberate ones work best. The blast beat to squeal feels more liked cop out when they default to it than a dynamic device. When this songs is given breath it rocks. The mix on this could stand to have more separation as once again they have a lot going on at once here,but not in a symphonic manner unless your were trying to cram a symphony orchestra into an elevator.

"Pallid reflections " gets of to a decent start, then the drums begin to weight the song down , despite some light double bass followed by thrash groove riff that saves the song
The spoken wordy female vocals on the breakdown bridge thing is a nice touch, they take a lot of elements they have been toying with and make them work here.

"Siding with the titans" almost feels like frilly short power metal at the beginning, the Hammerfall gallop runs amok into blasts for a second or three here and there before some Dimmu punk riffs barge in, the riff slows down to let the keyboards drive but for all of this the song is boring me, the goth pageantry begins to sound formulaic at this point. By the last minute and a half it gives me a headache but that could be my coffee wearing off.

"Succumb to this" the riff overs into the song and the execution is well down Filth's vocals are in the pocket but not really that interesting this could very well be a more symphonic version of what Slipknot does. I begin to accept the fct I might just not like he very runof the mill blst beat patterns this drummer plays, the female vocals in the songs later half are a well distraction. The drum production on this album could be hlf the problem while the playing it t times precise they sound very thing lacking thunder.

"Sinfonia" the final fantasy soundtrack but covered in roses, is thier any one with a penis and no magic the gathering cards in their hand who sees the need to listen to this outro piece?

This album had potential blown more often than not on over the top production that mixed the menace or heaviness right out of the album making this sound like Nightwish without the vocals that redeem this sort of thing. It's not something I find myself returning to as Dimmu has the symphonic black metal thing covered with more conviction. This one has earned its 4.5, I think if e band got over themselves they could do better, I'd your a fan round it up a point Becuase no new ground is broken here and this band is just handing you slicker versions of more of the same.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Autumn For Crippled Children: Only the Ocean Knows

So this is what happens when the whole post- rock shoe gaze black metal thing wanders out into the black yonder. Not only is this not black metal but it's almost not metal and the harsh vocals are apologetically mixed behind the swell of guitar. Did I come on to strong because none of these things are bad as much as I loved the last album, people change and artists progress. The band is still making interesting music just move out of the way to avoid lighting if the say this is our heaviest album yet.

The opening number sounds like Explosions in the Sky if the caught rabies. The song has enough movement and double bass, the most metal element present to avoid losing you in its drone. Gone are the very Cureish guitar parts, they are going for almost an A Place to Bury strangers attack.

"Yes, I and death...always" start with a wall of fuzz on the guitar, and not in a stoner rock way it seems to be more of a production choice, based on the ebb and flow from the break down which uses a tone more typical for them, this song builds in intensity for sure and gets sonically heavy but not metal despite the wretched vocals being screamed down the hallway.

"This garden these trees" is murky shoe gaze affair the firt verse portion almost doesn't seem to have form except for the drums trying to make sense of it all and the bassist who is excellent for this style of music seem to be dog paddling in a whirlpool here. This is one of those I'm going to have to give multiple listens and see if it takes.

"in february" is a slower piece of melancholy, that builds into a heavier dynamic keeping the same pace allowing the vocals to set the intensity. They are masked behind a cloak of distortion, not varying much in pitch or agony level. This loud to soft thing is nothing new but works for this song.

The title track starts in a languid My Bloody Valentine sway, the brief keyboard wash is a cue for the predictable distortion to come in with screaming in tow.the bass punching punching under neath the subtle transition is a smart touch, since it's not my first rodeo with shoe gaze there are no surprises for me, though I would like to know if they are stil programming the drums, I like the obviously programmed that come in at the third break downand the piano part floating in a nice touch, a lot of attention to detail on this song.

"the first snow this year" has a sweet heroin shimmer not unlike something Sigur Rios do , until of course the streams and distortion come to melt the snow, fitting as this song has a feel of ice dripping for me. The tremolo picked part is subtle and not black metal but more Explosions in the Sky, in fact not a lot of metal could be referenced to this more like they have taken a couple of metal elements primarily the vocals and some of the drum patterns and applied them to post rock rather than being a metal band who incorporates post rock elements.

"uncureable" starts with a bass line and delayed guitar and conceals into a very Slowdive drive on the verse. It struck me on this one that this is going to be the best post rock album that indie are going to miss out on this year. These guys have adopted perfect mastery of this style rather than dabbling in it. The melody that rises out of the final minute of this one is really cool and should be played I hipster coffee shops everywhere.

This bassist is basically the shit is what I'm thinking once it gets to "the rising tide" the vocal approach by the last song seems a little tired but due to the production it comes across more like layer of static you tune out. They snarl they slur into once the song kicks back in, is the only distinct trait I seem them having on the song s opposed to the rest of the album. By design they are recorded to ignore making this an easy fact to overlook unless you key in on them and they might be deal breaker for some despite the awesome dynamic build on this song.

So I can go ahead and score this one pretty, easy and avoid trying to sell myself on the whirlpool song,if this winds up on my top ten list it won't be on the metal list, while excellent in execution and the growth away from metal is handled respectably enough there are still some elements from their previous sounds I wish had been incorporated here rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water, so for this reason it gets rounded down to an 8.5, nothing to be ashamed of and worth a listen but I hope for them to bring back there more dismal side.